85 Comments
Apr 30, 2022Liked by David Farrier

I'm not at all surprised by the way this looks as if it's going - abusers never, ever see their faults or want to own their actions, and they never want to let go of the victims. Add money into the mix and you're always going to get an outcome that's designed to look as good as possible to the faithful to allow the income stream to continue unabated, even (as it's obvious to you and me) though the enquiry is going to be as effectual as a feather duster in a cow shed.

Expand full comment
Apr 30, 2022Liked by David Farrier

“In a way, they’re victims, too. But there is a point at which you become complicit in all this — and at this juncture, that’s what many of Arise’s campus pastors have become.”

Just weathering the storm, it’s not so bad, the Church can’t function without its leaders... Fish rots from the head. And this fish is STANKY 🐟

Expand full comment

He’s all I’m blameless, just stepping aside to help everyone out. Shameless spin.

Expand full comment
author

It's spin like I've never seen firsthand before. It's bonkers.

Expand full comment

Gut wrenching when you know 10,000 people are being led by the nose.

Expand full comment
Apr 30, 2022Liked by David Farrier

I'm not an accountant, but something that has often intrigued me about these churches is the difficulty of getting money out of them for the founders while being registered as a charity. They can of course pay a salary (and they seem to pay a wage bill of around 5m a year for pastoral care, which seems high) but it's not like you can pay out a dividend like a normal business on a profit (which was 3.8m in their last filed return).

Arise seems to have a great scheme worked out where John and co enjoy personal benefits from Arise staff (gardening, childcare and so on). I wonder if anyone has ever investigated systems like this from the angle of Fringe Benefit Tax liability?

Expand full comment

Purchase of property, vehicles etc for the use of ‘staff’? Subsequent ‘sale’ of said property to interested parties? Also not an accountant but I’d look there first.

Expand full comment

And straightforward payment of founders expenses, bills etc. under the justification that clothes/jewelers/travel etc are legit expenses for leadership of a national organisation. And some of those expenses are legit.

If the money is in ‘Arise’ but John C and company can spend it on their own purposes do they really need to get it out?

Expand full comment

Ah, that’s because you haven’t seen the greatest trick of all! The way the real money throws isn’t in getting it out of your own church, it’s swapping it with others!

Here’s how it works. Ps Richard (you) invites Ps Dram (me) to your church for a weekend where we pay you a set (massive) fee. On top of that, after you preach so well, we take up a “love offering” where people give extra money to thank you for changing their lives. This could be anywhere from $2,000-40,000+ depending on the size of the church/conference.

Next, because we are friends, I invite you to my conference where we repeat the process. It’s all above board, half the money has been given “freely” (if you don’t count manipulation and the buying of special status by generous “givers”) and works a charm!

Get on a circuit of these, and you’re set. Which is why these guys will defend each other.

Ta daaaaaa. I’ll see you for my conference next week.

Expand full comment

Dunno. Clothes and Jewelery - not exempt from FBT unless it's distinctively branded Arise. Vehicles - definitely captured in FBT. Travel - Yeah probably they can slip a lot out in that form. I guess it's fine for them as long as they are still working in Arise. But it's not like you can "sell" Arise when you want to ride off into the sunset. They can easily get out services but it's hard to move out large amount of cash without losing 39% of it to PAYE on the way. Just an interesting angle to this type of grift.

I wonder if there is any precendent for a charity to have it's wage bill looked at? and any recourse if it is found to be disproportionate to the roles?

Expand full comment
founding
May 1, 2022·edited May 1, 2022

There is no FBT for charities, I believe, as part of their tax exempt status. They are for the public good, you see.

Expand full comment

Oh wow. Thanks for pointing that out!

Expand full comment

These clowns are just amateurs really. In the States these scum have private jets. Some have more than one. I shit you not.

Expand full comment
Apr 30, 2022Liked by David Farrier

I really hope Arise people are smart enough to see through all this bs! Can't wait for the paul dejong/life series!!!

Expand full comment
May 1, 2022Liked by David Farrier

It’s not really about smart - that’s not how confirmation bias/motivated reasoning works. Once you’re invested, it takes a special kind of rupture to get you to not buy the narrative you’ve committed to. These people are not stupid, they’re sold an alternate narrative.

Expand full comment

David, you’re really going to need a team if you go through all of Life, C3, Equippers etc!

Expand full comment
May 1, 2022Liked by David Farrier

Some of the emails we got about C3 in particular were horrifying. It's tricky to report but I hope it'll be able to be done, whether by Dave or a major media organisation

Expand full comment

...honestly, failing that, people power. What has been started here needs to continue. What we're seeing here with John Cameron is what will continue to happen if we go quiet. They'll all just dust off their rockstar threads and take up a fucking love offering for how awesome they are for coming back stronger. I realize this has the potential to get bigger than Ben Hurr but I'm here for it...

Expand full comment

The whole “we’ll await the review and then be back” really doesn’t sound like they care what the review says.

Expand full comment
author

You know what.... I think you nailed it. It's kinda remarkable, eh?

Expand full comment

It makes me feel squirmy to know that’s their attitude (even after reading all your articles leading up to today!). I had hoped that their “listening and learnjng” might actually mean just that.

Expand full comment

Proverbs 26:11

“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.”

Not really fair on dogs, folly could be swapped out for On-going Systemic Power & Status over the Vulnerable.

Business as usual.

Expand full comment

So pleased you have Paul de Jong and LIFE on your radar David.

My own personal experiences, while working within the wider "para-church" world with LIFE, City Impact and some other well known Christian organizations in NZ, destroyed any naive expectations I had of why people are in ministry - but also made me extremely grateful for the Pastors and leaders at my own church; who restored my faith in leaders who genuinely love God and the people in their 'flock'.

Keep up this great work David. I hope it doesn't overwhelm or weigh you down too much - it's an important and timely bringing of light to the dark corners of NZ's wannabe mega-churches.

Expand full comment
author

de Jong - that is coming. His church is practically an extension of Arise, and vice versa.

Thanks for the kind words. It's pretty disgusting territory to be in, but here we are. Glad to be doing the work.

Expand full comment

is "para" short for parasite there?

Expand full comment

Para-church is the catch all term for faith based organisations that aren't churches; eg Aid Organisations, Community Ministries, Radio Stations etc

Expand full comment

(I couldn’t resist so here’s the lyrics, shout-out to Stephen Schwartz)

Alas alas for you

Lawyers and Pharisees

Hypocrites that you be

Searching for souls and fools to forsake them

You travel the land you scour the sea

After you've got your converts you make them

Twice as fit for hell!

As you are yourselves!

Alas, alas for you

Lawyers and Pharisees

Hypocrites that you are

Sure that the kingdom of Heaven awaits you

You will not venture half so far

Other men that might enter the gates you

Keep from passing through!

Drag them down with you!

You snakes, you viper's brood

You cannot escape being Devil's food!

I send you prophets, I send you preachers

Sages and rages and ages of teachers

Nothing can bar your mood

Blind guides, blind fools

The blood you spilt

On you will fall!

This nation, this generation

Will bear the guilt of it all!

Alas, alas alas for you!

Blind fools!!

Expand full comment
author

Amen.

Expand full comment

A little context: this song is actually from the perspective of Jesus (the character who performs it) If you haven’t seen it, the movie production from 1969 is one of my favorites. A close second is Jesus Christ Superstar but the original recording.

(Both of these productions had a massive impact on how I view Christianity and the humanity of Jesus, but I’ve been watching and listening to them since childhood so maybe it’s reverse indoctrination?)

Expand full comment

I suspect old mate "Mad" Johnny Cameron is listening to Warren Zevon's "Lawyers Guns and Money" on repeat about now.

Expand full comment

Meanwhile I’ll be listening to Warren Zevon’s “Desperados under the Eaves”

(The version Dawes performed on David Letterman was pure nirvana)

Expand full comment

Theres usually a Warren Zevon lyric for most situations........ :)

Expand full comment
May 1, 2022Liked by David Farrier

The saying "Nothing changes if nothing changes" is rather apt in this case.

Expand full comment

Eric Fromm wrote about the motivation behind these kinds of sadistic behaviour in "Escape from Freedom" in the 1940s. He described a number of common rationalisations, but while the sadist may appear strong he actual displays a strong dependency over those whom they try to control and dominate. Thus "The sadist needs the person over whom he rules, he needs him very badly, since his own feelings of strength is rooted in the fact that he is master over someone". The loss of mastery is crippling to the sadist's self image. If not rectified, then such a person will undergo psychological disintegration. Thus, there is a desperate impulse to return to the the place they once held, an unconscious need to stave off this disintegration of the self. For if they are not special, or gifted, they are nothing.

Also, there is this need to humiliate those they control. For such individuals can neither tolerate nor abide the idea that someone could be their equal, or even their superior. To maintain control, and superiority, any who pose a potential threat need to be subjugated and humiliation is a powerful mechanism for subjugation. Thus, the use of verbal insults, and infantile behaviours like "dead legging" and farting into the face of a follower. These actions serve to reinforce the inferiority of the follower, the followers purported weakness and the superiority of the abuser. Yet the necessity to abuse and humiliate illustrate their profound insecurity and fear of disintegration.

Daniel Shaw expands upon this idea when he observes the traumatising narcissist denies the subjectivity of their followe. rs. They and not individuals in their own right, but objects to be manipulated and controlled according to their narcissistic fantasies and delusions. The narcissist needs to be acclaimed and adored. This need is often subconscious. To be fallible is to be weak. To be vulnerable, rather than being an essential part of being truly human, is to be despised and denigrated. The vulnerabilities of their followers are to be ruthlessly targeted, exposed and ridiculed.

Survivors can escape the hegemony of their abuser, as I can attest from my own story. It begins by recognising the profound weakness of the abuser and their traumatising system of control. Doing so does not deny the pain of the abuse, but recognises that survival required the development of a number of tools to survive in an unhealthy abusive environment. Recovery also involves recognising that I am more than the abuse, that I am worthy of respect, that I have a number of untapped talents strengths and abilities. Indeed it was all those strengths and abilities that the abuser found so intimidating, requiring frantic efforts at denigration and control.

Kia kaha.

Expand full comment
author

Part of me hopes John reads this and a small, tiny part of his brain lights up a little. Just a little.

Expand full comment

Alas I have more chance of winning Lotto and I never buy a ticket.

Expand full comment

If I were to translate this into a harsh depiction of John it would be:

"John needs the congregation over whom he presides. While he appears strong, his own feelings of strength are rooted in the fact that he is master over many. One youth group wasn't enough for him, nor one church, he needed a multiplicity of campuses.

It is not enough for John to be a humble servant of the Messiah, instead he needs to occupy - visually, physically, audibly a space as a de facto Messiah. This is why many Pentecostal churches 'demonise' religious imagery and art - to see a depiction of Christ is to take away from the narcissistic grandeur of the pastor-as-demi-god. They will harp on about graven images and idolatry, but the slightest hint that John's giant face beamed to a dozen different centres could ever be idolatrous is suppressed outright.

Because a loss of mastery is crippling to the corrupt pastor's self image, the process for acquiring it will take centre stage, will be streamlined, will be the bedrock for the organisation of the church as a whole: your money should be John's money.

The act of financial giving then is a dual process of praise and degradation. When John says God is telling him that several people are being called to give ten-thousand dollars to him it is an act that shames everyone in attendance for failing to live up to what the pastor proclaims.

Looking at four Google results for him (image results for "John Cameron ten thousand dollars") I see these quotes from Arise church itself:

1) Contentment is the most powerful financial tool you will ever have

* Shame on you for desiring anything greater than contentment, and shame on you for daring to think John could ever be content with what he has right now

2) Giving is a response to the leading of God: Empowering God's work on the earth. Being the hands and feet of Jesus

* Yes, be those feet. And clearly, giving is a response to the demands of your pastor only

(Also this is theologically suspect as God does not require humans to empower His own work because grace is both infinite and free, right?)

3) God's will for your finances is that you will have enough for what you need and then more than enough to help others around you

* But only after John helps himself to ten percent in tithing and a greater portion in giving. It is the height of narcissism to speak about the specifics of God's will in a way that financially enriches himself

4) Where there is no vision, we waste resources. The power of vision is that it gives you a focus

* This is largely just a nonsense sentence but it is a chastisement against anyone who doesn't agree with John because it positions them as both wasteful and vision-less. This is a denial of subjectivity for anyone who isn't in financial and ideological submission to John

Anyway, all four of these quote placards have pictures of John on them, not Christ, not the needy (i.e. the people that the gospels tell you to give financial aid to)"

Expand full comment

So well written, I found this really interesting - particularly the bit about the need to humiliate. I don’t think it’s accidental that their more public forms of humiliation are masked as things that can, on the surface and considered as singular events, be laughed off as crude banter. The psychiatry of it is fascinating. I wonder what they were like as kids.

Expand full comment

Yes, I experienced humiliation in the doomsday cult I grew up in. One in particular was by the pastor in front of the entire congregation. looking back I see very clearly what a parasitic creature he was. He believed, in his grandiosity, that he had everyone's salvation in his hands. But I am disturbed to find how this behaviour is found in so many other "churches".

Expand full comment

Just a thought...if you take the 'i' out of 'Arise' you get a lot closer to the truth - Arse!

Expand full comment
author

Their old logo design tried to get creative with the "I" and made it very much look like "ARSE"

Expand full comment

You sure you got the right logo? Nothing wrong with the letter “I” ?

Is this the one you’re talking about?

https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/crowdhubrhemaau/legacy/1/8376aace7af18ea8cafa499d7e69a6ec_XL.jpg

Expand full comment

https://dotspacestudio.com/arise.html

Surely a piss take.

Expand full comment

Not trying to defend arise, but that’s never been their logo

Expand full comment

Assemblies of God churches INVENTED spin. They couldn’t survive if they were transparent.

John is in for a rude awakening from St. Peter...

Jesus wept.

For my music heads out there give this a listen:

Jesus destroying Men in power

“Alas for you” godspell (1969 movie version)

I could post the lyrics but the whole song is poetry in motion

Expand full comment

It goes back to a line you previously covered in an earlier article - Arise is John and John is Arise. This is not a church for God, it’s a literal ATM for those in charge. So of course it would be inconceivable for the Cameron’s to consider stepping down or allowing any other leaders to carry on their work. Because it’s not about the work at all, it’s their means to free labour, vast sums of money and the ability to carry out their narcissistic and malicious behaviour on vulnerable followers. In the words of the inimitable Maynard Keenan - “picture-perfect numb belligerence….”

Expand full comment
author

Yeah, with no John is no Arise.

He's the cancer in the system.

Expand full comment

With everything that Christianity-as-a-whole could ever produce on the topics of honesty, lying and Pharisaical language, this duplicitous and evasive construction of words is a disappointment to read; especially given that one can see how eager parishioners (I forget the Pentecostal word for this) will readily take the hints and give John, Gillian, Brent and Annie the benefit of the doubt

Expand full comment
author

I won't get into the amounts of NDAs here - but their nitpicking on that stuff is VERY funny.

Expand full comment

These people are unbelievable. They’re trying to find shade in the sunlight, and it’s beyond sickening. My heart hurts for those harmed by ARISE (what happened to Theo won’t leave my mind any time soon). My hope is that those inside Arise will speak out and take this “church” down for good.

Expand full comment
author

Yeah, it's kinda reached that point where I've given those inside enough information to go on. It's up to them, now.

The overall silence from Christendom as a whole kinda blows my mind - sad to see.

Expand full comment

“In the Shift” podcast is still dropping episodes on this for those who want some sense of a Christian response to abusive systems like Arise - spoiler alert: not fans.

Expand full comment

But you are right - the general silence is damning.

Expand full comment

It's encouraging that internal emails are being leaked by somebody inside the church no longer following the 'keep silent' script

Expand full comment
author

Slowly people are turning. But the campus pastors need too - and their loyalty is something else. Don't wanna say cult, but - yeah.

Expand full comment

Agreed. That gives me some hope.

Expand full comment