May 31, 2022Liked by David Farrier

Im flabbergasted. Sometimes when I read about these organisations and their foul leaders I feel pity and empathy for the followers. Lost sheep led astray by a multitude of tactics and deficits in their own lives… but this image just infuriated me. How many teenagers have been raped or abused in some way and had it casually brushed aside because the powerful wanker that committed the abuse pitched the right apologies to his followers, the very adults who are meant to protect the younger members!? The abuse that goes on and the neglect for the victims leaves me completely lost, I just don’t understand the level of brainwashing and denial achieved in these environments. Absolutely absurd and depressing really. I suppose it isn’t just limited to these religious communities, we see it in large scale companies and industries, but it does feel like abuse and coverups have a special level of frequency and normalcy within extreme religious groups. I can’t imagine what the woman felt as she watched her abuser embraced, but I hope she took it as a fucking sign to walk away and never look back. Do we think she was his only victim..?

Well done David, it’s been really uplifting to see real change here through all your hard work and dedication. Inspiring.

And THANK YOU so much for Flightless Bird. Tuesdays are now my favourite day of the week, it’s an awesome podcast, entertaining, interesting and always a pleasure. And i think it’s awesome that despite your need for adults to be adult you have figurines, we all need a few.

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I saw the Celebration Church article. I know they were inspired by you. I think the only way to deal with these megachurches is for the government to acknowledge that they are private businesses and treat them as such.

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May 31, 2022·edited May 31, 2022

Holy shit, that Indiana church. I read that transcript, and what stands out to me is the abuser's words are focused on forgiveness, and the abused's are focused on shame. Just like Arise.

THE SHAME SHOULD BE ON THE ABUSERS. The abused should not have to carry it for them.

I hope you do look into Majestic Church. I went there once or twice and it had the same creepy, showy vibe. St Albans Baptist Church in Christchurch is another one. Not as big, but protective of abusers and shitty to women.

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In an effort to better understand I watched the apologies from John and Gillian Cameron and Pastor Leo Hanssen's message.

I believe that the Cameron's genuinely regret their failures. I just don't think they understand those failures they are apologising for or the impact they have had on others. I am intrigued by the fact that early on John mentions that a process of change commenced in 2016. To my mind that implies the issues identified in the previous 6 to 8 weeks were known to the leadership for at least six years prior.

John and Gillian failed to provide a substantive apology to those who actually were hurt. If you won't name the harm caused are you really apologising? While there was an initial acceptance that people were hurt the bulk of their comments focused on their own personal loss and the desire that the church be rebuilt. The apology was ostensibly for a failure of leadership yet pointed out all their successes. It is a crass comparison but it doesn't matter how majestic the pyramids are if they are built using slavery.

In short, I think the apology was well intentioned but amateurish and hopelessly missed the mark for those who had actually suffered harm. I have said it before and I say it again. The fundamental failure of arise is that it prioritises the institution over the individuals who comprise the institution.

Leo Hanssen's message was purportedly on the suffering church. The "suffering church" has historically referred to that part of the church that has been living under the threat of persecution, torture and death for practising Christianity. Being called to account for your misdeeds does not put you in the category of the suffering church.

More disturbingly, Leo Hanssen then shifts to discuss the importance of unity and states that if the church unified now God will command a blessing on them. He encourages those who are considering their options to get in line (he says in fellowship). He states that a failure to do that will mean that you will no longer be (presumably spiritually) healthy. A healthy church should never need to tell people to get in line.

The message was theologically lightweight and a thinly veiled message to support the church come what may.

Based on what I heard, it is my view that until there is a fulsome apology for the harm caused, recognition that the Jesus Christ of the bible would never prioritise entities over people and systems are put in place to act as checks and balances there will be no change.

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May 31, 2022·edited May 31, 2022

After that terrible apology Leo Hanssen went on to say

"... people have been hurt in the past. But today is about us because we are all hurt today..." and then proceeding to talk about how the church is (and John and Jillian are) suffering...🤮... And then close with the importance of love... 🙄

The inability to see/admit fault in themselves and show true remorse is astounding. The word 'hurt' makes it sound like a small offense, a stubbed toe... When really they have absolutely broken, chewed up, abused and spat out people.

They have followed the apology (or no apology, woe is me) playbook that "In the shift" outlined in their mega church series, as well as Wade Mullen in the article you linked, to a T.

Thank you David for your work on this.

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That story about the Indiana church brings to mind a similar-ish incident at a now-megachurch then smaller church around 30 years ago when I was a teen. It has stuck in my mind so strongly because of its massive hypocrisy. So the pastor's son and his girlfriend were sleeping together. Everyone in youth group knew about it. Someone told his parents - the pastors - and there was a public "confession" of the sin from both the pastor's son and his girlfriend. The pastors offered their resignation, which was declined by the congregation. Everyone in the service all clustered around the pastors and their son, declaiming their forgiveness and how this could be put behind everyone. What sticks in my mind is this poor girl, only a couple of years older than me, kneeling at the front of the church crying her eyes out and mostly ignored by everyone while they clustered around the pastor's family. I think about her often and what that situation must have done to her. How humiliating it would have been for her and how little compassion there was for her compared to the people of standing (i.e. the pastors). She left the church not too long after that. There were other things that happened over the years in a similar vein, or where people in vulnerable positions were abused or exploited. But that incident now sums up for me how false that kind of church is.

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A lot of articles in the n.z media at the moment as the Cults and Evangelical Churches are having whistle blowers and investigations into their holdings.

A mixture of the time is right(webworm being the guinea pig - maverick) and this subject matter being in vogue.

None the less very timely.

Good follow ups but still those expected synthetic responses are quite painful to witness as the spectacle.

Oh possible rabbit hole, a super strange article on the Catholics.


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