Alleged sexual harassment and NDAs at Arise megachurch
This has literally turned my stomach.
Theo, I’m devastated that you were treated this way by someone who should have regarded your wellbeing as his utmost concern. You should have been safe in his presence but you were abused. I am so sorry this happened under the guise of doing “the Lord’s work”. God have mercy 😓
David, thank you for keeping the heat on and uncovering more layers. Sterling work 👏👏👏
Ugh, of course it was going to get worse... I hope Theo knows that what happened wasn't ever OK, nor his fault, and that even though it is beyond unfair that his suffering was met with a promotion of his tormentor, his story is being heard, and there will (hopefully, finally) be some retribution. I truly hope he gets the support he deserves, and that his obvious work ethics and talents will be more respected by future employers. Kia kaha, also to David and Hayden for writing about this difficult stuff with a lot of empathy and sensitivity 👏
Christina, below, has hit the nail on the head. Having had this kind of antic-bullying aimed at me and some of my friends at high school I can say it is thoroughly awful and humiliating. Surprise surprise the instigator ended up being one of our head boys. Theo - all I can say is I hope you’re doing better now and are away from these horrible people. You are strong for standing up for yourself when it must have been incredibly difficult to do so. My best wishes to you.
Thank you David, Hayden and the other contributors for these pieces.
My heart goes out to Theo. Nobody deserves to be treated this way, by anyone, no matter how much power they have. The more I read about this church, the less I see them as Christians. Those who live their values don’t behave this way. My hope is that all the sunlight being shone on Arise will result in them facing the consequences of their heinous misdeeds.
So Brent's behaviour is appalling and to me this screams "I am gay but can't face the truth because my religion says it's of the devil so I will continue to act out in the worst possible ways. I WILL repress who I am!"
This is yet another pattern I have seen with church types. The more they have to repress who they are, the more they victimise others and become bullies. For the pentecostal/charismatic church being gay is anathema. You can be almost every flavour of 'sinner' except that.
So gross, poor Theo. Hope they're doing ok out there!
Sounds like Brent etc never grew up when they left high school and became adults, probably got away with bullying and sexual harrassment then too.
Just a quick and HUGE thankyou David for this. I have a friend who left the church because of similar issues and on FB last week he shared your second story. A good number of people jumped in to support him, many from inside the church, also outlining their experiences. It was great that 100% of people were supportive (last I saw) and even if their experiences inside the church were different / mostly positive, they didn't doubt his choice to leave was the right thing to do for him. Just lots of love and support.... Also, a lot of folk were like WTAF in disbelief - so you are doing good work in shining a light where it is needed.
I'm imagining Brent and a PR person in front of a white board. On the white board are various things to deal with. Circled and underlined: "hand farts - how to handle ???"
Wowzers, thanks for all your work on this David! Brent sounds a monumental shit... Actually, the corny 80's lyrics that popped into my head when reading about this godforsaken church were actually penned by Bon Jovi - "You promise me Heaven, then put me through hell... You give love a bad name (bad name)!"
Reading this gives me chills. Thank you again David. Your care for the people you're reporting on shines through. As always, so glad a sub can help you do this work.
Well fuck. That's just really fucking horrible. Poor Theo :( I hope he's doing better now that he's away from these awful people.
Wow! Poor Theo, I'm so glad he did something to get out of there. Not everyone would be able to go through that. Again amazing reporting David! Thanks for your mahi!
This was awful to read. I work in an industry that is traditionally “blokey” and have had many trips with the team where we have kicked back and enjoyed time after hours with each other. And yet I have never once seen or heard this level of behaviour, this is just….fucking grotesque to be honest. I’m all for the odd fart joke, lamentable dating stories and playing pranks on each other but what this man did was abuse. Pure and simple.
Good to get an update but utterly floored to read about 'Theo'. I really hope that Theo is doing okay.
I could tell from the initial reporting David shared that Brent is T O X I C. Lad culture is right but I think there is an insidious, darker side to it.
I also thought how dubious and dodgy Pathfinding looked off the bat and I wouldnt trust it to actually do a fair review for the victims.
Keep up the great work David (and others).
Profoundly sad for all those hurt. My gripes pale into insignificance, and I have no confidence in the review process no matter what is publicised. Arise is such a marketing and image driven organisation and you can't tell what will be "up lined" to whom.
Keep going David. Your best days are yet to come.
Who are these "members" the board's statement today refers to? Arise has no members. So who is it addressed to? I can't wait to see the new board, or the edits to the constitution recorded on the charities register site.
Well done the board for amending the constitution. Just make sure you don't fill it up with sycophants and clones. Perhaps get a lawyer or accountant or some professional bound by a code of ethics.
Edit: Sorry, Graeme Kirkwood the Arise Chair IS a NZ Chartered Accountant resident in Australia, associated with Planetshakers board, also Kindomcity Church Board in Auckland, etc. If the Arise board knew about this ages ago from all the NDAs, why as a CA did he not take action? "How would this look on the front page of the newspaper" test is the first thing the CAANZ teach in ethics courses!