Assault and Abuse at Arise Church
This is good work David, thank you for doing this.
Personal anecdote first. I was recruited into a pentecostal church in the 1980s when I was a teenager. A very attractive young woman showed an unusual interest in me and as a fat, speccy, nerd I would do anything to maintain that interest, including joining her church. Upon my doing so she mysteriously (to my small brain) lost interest in having much to do with me anymore. I stuck with it for a bit, the people were ok and I liked the singing, but the whole “speaking in tongues” schtick set off cringe warnings. Finally, the anti-catholic fervour seemed out of place and my best schoolmate friend was from a catholic family. I couldn’t bring myself to shun him. Eventually, I drifted off to University and never went back. I wouldn’t say I was traumatised, but my eyes were opened to the tactics.
None of this is new. The original catholic church used robes-n-rituals to attract the worried masses. Now the nouveau churches use rock-n-roll. The “established” churches have just a few more years to knock off the rough edges, with varying degrees of success.
My heart goes out to all the folk in your article who thought they were getting salvation and ended up with perdition instead.
Unfortunately, I believe that figuring out a defensible way to remove tax-free status from these grifter-corp quasi-religious organisations while leaving it in place for the ones who actually just do good charitable work and helpful pastoral ministry, will be difficult. Like the idea of defining organised crime gangs versus motorcycle enthusiast clubs, the lines are blurred and the colours are all subtly shaded. I’m not clever enough to solve those problems.
The clearer answer is more people like you, David. Asking the hard questions. Standing up for the crushed. Not letting the grifters hide their shadiness. You are doing god’s work (irony intended).
As for myself, I have paid my $50 and have the certificate on my wall as an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That’s right. I have taken spiritual refuge in Pastafarianism.
May you be touched by his noodly appendage.
Thank you so much for giving us a voice ❤️ This has been so hard and confrontational but knowing its out there and people can see what Arise has done makes it worth reliving it. I hope people can now make a better educative decision on wether they attend this fucking awful place!
I think a lot of us readers were bracing ourselves for the sexual assault part of the story. It's always there, isn't it?
But you managed to capture the horrors these young people have suffered in such a manner that is, I think, the least triggering as it could be. Your empathy for these victims comes through very clearly, and I think that's why this coverage is so effective. Fantastic work.
Uplining sure sounds like Multi-Level Marketing. Similar goals - always to recruit and retain new members.
I want to tautoko what others have said. This is such great work David. I do hope you have support in place for your own spiritual and mental well-being; confronting evil dressed up as religious worship is such tough work.
Brave people who I’ll respect forever for coming forward. Especially the ones still part of the church - not as easy thing to do, whistleblowing - but it’s heroic and if you’re reading this I want you to know that this boy in Christchurch respects you deeply for it.
(was intending to write a longer comment but think that sums it up)
Thanks David for your work, keep up the cat patting ❤️
Keep up the great work David, I am very pleased that my sub is going towards work like this. These churches (this one especially, but most in general) are pyramid schemes designed for the betterment of those at the top with no care for anyone else, and the hypocrisy beggars belief.
Look after yourself, this must be very challenging work. Take care!
PS: the Simpkin bloke that resigned from the board lives in my neighbourhood. Let me know if you need his house egged, as someone else suggested on another thread? I know, I know, we won’t be stooping to that level but it’s fun to think about!
My daughter goes to Kindercare (founded by 7th Day Adventist’s which I didn’t know when I signed her up there) and they were shown a video about the Easter story sent down by head office, that even some of the teachers were horrified by. She said she believed in God and wanted to go to church. I said no. When she asked me why, I said that even if God is real, churches are run by people and not all people are nice.
I’ve been to church services at Elim Church and Life Church and there’s no way in HELL she is going to anywhere like them.
Luckily, she’s 4, so she seems to have forgotten about it all. I hope it stays that way.
Holy shit David. Great work. It’s just so sad that these people are living off other people’s fear - of rejection, of not being good enough. Because that’s what they’re using to keep the machine running.
What can we do better to build people up in communities that don’t operate on fear and control? How do we help people (kids) defend themselves against this stuff?
As someone who left the Charismatic/Pentecostal church these stories are all so familiar and grieves me deeply. My heart breaks for all these people who need genuine love and acceptance but what they found is exploitation.
My message to these survivors:
You ARE worthy. You are NOT too much.
I BELIEVE You!
It is NOT your fault.
I hope you find Rest.
It is possible to heal from this.
Sending much love to you all.
I fucking love your work (whilst obviously wishing there wasnt a need for reporting like this). And I really hope you're taking care of yourself at this time, it's a massive personal burden to constantly take on others trauma so I hope you're getting respite / help if you need it x
Uplinking and grace growing - how wanky are those - laughable if it was not so damaging
Hi David. Thank you for doing this work. I write as a faith based person and I have been involved in mega churches in a past life too. I am just so sad at all of this trauma - the damage to people, and sadly none of it is a shock. Recently I listened to a really good podcast series called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill - another megachurch. I found it powerful (and disturbing) listening. But very well put together. You may find it useful as you are working through all of this as you will see some common themes. As I listened, it raised things for me that happened years ago and I had not thought about for a long time - but I felt myself reacting strongly, which means I have a bit of work to do to go back and look at what is there in me that was reacting. When I worked in a megachurch - the line was, leaders will be taken out by the Gold, The Glory or The Girls (a nice sexist, misogynistic way to say sex!). As a counselor, I read through this most recent post angry and upset at the poor practices and increased trauma for those you wrote about. It is just not good enough. Thank you for exposing ... its a hard place to be, but it needs to happen if there is going to be any level of health. Take care of you - that's a lot to be carrying.
Thank you David. This whole series has been devastating to read. I’m sending so much love to all of those who bravely spoke out.