Thread: Spiritual abuse is now a recognised crime Board: Purgatory / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
 
A vicar being the first to be found guilty of spiritual abuse: will this open the floodgates to similar cases, and how does one decide what constitutes abuse?
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
I think the word 'abuse' is being 'abused'.

Though I shall probably be abused for saying so...
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
So how the vicar acted was appropriate, then?

I'm sure you wouldn't advocate such intense levels of apparent control when it comes to caring for your own flock, Mudfrog.

It is a tricky one,though. At what point does some rather intense pastoral pressure cross line into outright criminal abuse?
 
Posted by Nick Tamen (# 15164) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I think the word 'abuse' is being 'abused'.

As is the word “crime” in the thread title. No “crime” has been recognized here, and it’s misleading and unhelpful at best to suggest otherwise. The vicar in question was found guilty of “misconduct” by a church tribunal, not of a “crime” by a court.
 
Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
 
The Church Times article uses such words as 'convicted' 'guilty' and 'penalty'.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
No, I recognise inappropriate behaviour and it is unacceptable; however, I worry that a word that is a strong word that describes instances of 'real' abuse, is now being used by people (NOT in this instance) when they are simply disagreed with verbally.

If a word becomes overused it loses it's power in instances when it is properly used.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
It is a tricky one,though. At what point does some rather intense pastoral pressure cross line into outright criminal abuse?

What’s pastoral pressure, intense or mild? An oxymoron, surely. It is pastoral to respect, indeed indicate and activate, the freedom of others.
 
Posted by Gee D (# 13815) on :
 
As Nick Tamen has said, these were not criminal proceedings, but internal church disciplinary ones. And there's no novelty in this sort of case. Fortunately they're not common but certainly there have been past instances here.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I think the word 'abuse' is being 'abused'.

Though I shall probably be abused for saying so...

I was a victim of spiritual abuse, Mudfrog. When I understood what moral harassment was, I quickly realised that had I been in a regular employment situation rather than in the employ of a church (which is not quite the same thing under French law) the treatment I received would have been a prosecutable offence.

In what way do you think the word abuse is being abused as regards the linked case, exactly?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
No, I recognise inappropriate behaviour and it is unacceptable; however, I worry that a word that is a strong word that describes instances of 'real' abuse, is now being used by people (NOT in this instance) when they are simply disagreed with verbally.

If a word becomes overused it loses it's power in instances when it is properly used.

Did you read the article?
 
Posted by Nicolemr (# 28) on :
 
Seriously, Mudfrog, if you don't think what he did to that boy was abuse, I'd hate to see what you think is.
 
Posted by Nick Tamen (# 15164) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
The Church Times article uses such words as 'convicted' 'guilty' and 'penalty'.

But not, so far as I can tell, the word “crime,” which has a specific meaning: an act prohibited by the state and for which the state may punish a person by imprisonment, fine or some other method.

When the article talked about being “guilty,” it meant guilty of misconduct under church policies, not guilty of a crime. Any “penalty” would be a form of church discipline, not a criminal penalty.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
No, I recognise inappropriate behaviour and it is unacceptable; however, I worry that a word that is a strong word that describes instances of 'real' abuse, is now being used by people (NOT in this instance) when they are simply disagreed with verbally.

If a word becomes overused it loses it's power in instances when it is properly used.

quote:
She told us that [Mr Davis] would say that he was God’s anointed, and a person had died because he did not do something that [Mr Davis] wanted.
Yeah, using God and one’s purported authority through him isn’t abuse. [Roll Eyes]
 
Posted by Dave W. (# 8765) on :
 
Here's the text of the tribunal's judgement.
 
Posted by Amanda B. Reckondwythe (# 5521) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Nicolemr:
Seriously, Mudfrog, if you don't think what he did to that boy was abuse, I'd hate to see what you think is.

From the linked article:
quote:
The boy, who cannot be identified, told the tribunal that Mr Davis hugged him while crying . . . because . . . "God was saying that is what I should do". The pair went for dinner in Oxford together . . . and to the cinema. . . . The boy said he found the mentoring "too intense but he found it impossible to tell TD that he wanted less contact." His mother said she did not try and end his relationship with her son as "she was scared of going against God".
Abuse is too mild a euphemism for that.
 
Posted by Gramps49 (# 16378) on :
 
Maybe I am missing something here.

It sounds like the disciplinary tribunal is a religous court, not a secular court. How, then can this be a crime against the state?

I know this side of the pond many denominations have their own disciplinary procedures as they well should, but the separation of church from state would mean the secular courts would not be involved unless there is a crime against the state. An example would be if the minister would embezzle a million dollars against the church. That would be subject to both a disciplinary council of the church and a state investigation and trial because embezzlement is a state crime.

Now to the situation at hand. No, the vicar should not have tried to keep the boy from seeing his girlfriend. That is up to the parents, but I know when it comes to young love the more one is told no, the more they will want to see each other.

A bif issue on this side of the pond is conversion therapy in which "counselors," usually religions, will try to make a gay person straight. Some states have now banned this practice, making it a crime to practice this therapy in the respective states.

The only other crimes by a minister that would likely be prosecuted in state courts here is physical abuse and sexual abuse. Emotional abuse is hard to prove.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Nick Tamen is right that the ruling is not a ruling on whether a crime has been committed.

However, as I tried, perhaps clumsily, to point out, what I understand to be "spiritual abuse" overlaps to a very large extent with harcèlement moral ('moral harassment') which in this country is a prosecutable offence.

In fact I see the law in France has tightened up since this concerned me.

Here's Article 222-33-22 of the French Criminal Code (my translation):
quote:
Harassment of a person by the repeated use of words or behaviours the purpose of which is damage to their living conditions resulting in deterioration of their physical or mental health is punishable by one year's imprisonment and a fine of €15,000...
This penalty is doubled for a minor and tripled if combined with other aggravating circumstances such as vulnerability.

Your jurisdiction may vary, and the prosecution would in theory have to prove intent under this particular piece of French law, but if behaviour of the kind reported in the article were brought before a French court, and on the basis of cases I'm familiar with, the perpetrator could well be looking at a couple of years of prison.
 
Posted by SusanDoris (# 12618) on :
 
I gather from reading the posts above (not the article) that the mother did not intervene because of her fear of god. I find that such a deeply embeded indoctrination saddening.
 
Posted by Golden Key (# 1468) on :
 
Susan--

{Waves.}

The minister told her, rather forcefully, she'd be in trouble with God.

He's one sick something or other. IMHO, he needs in-patient psych care, and no more time around kids.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Indeed, SusanDoris.

As a theist I find it deeply troubling too, particularly as the vicar seems to have set himself up as an apparently incontrovertible mouth-piece for the Almighty.

I suspect you may consider that an intrinsic and inherent danger in religious belief and practice per se.

I do think this is serious and am surprised Mudfrog doesn't appear to consider it so, although I would consider it an issue for the church authorities rather than the civic courts.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
The Church Times article uses such words as 'convicted' 'guilty' and 'penalty'.

The original judgement used "guilty" and "penalty" but not "convicted".
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
I'm not sure of the correct terms here - the Clergy Discipline Measure is law (as far as I can understand it) and the tribunals used to make judgements are constituted by law and have legal weight. On the other hand they have limited powers and jurisdiction.

Anyway, leaving aside for the moment that legal-lingustic issue, I really fail to understand what this vicar thought he was doing. I've read that he actually moved into the home of the boy in question, when the mother was working for him.

Who does that? Who thinks that this is remotely a good idea?

Surely any sane person who entertained the idea of moving into the home of someone that closely entwined with the mechanics of the church would be questioning how closely they can work with a child - if nothing else because of the risk of accusations of (worse kinds of) abuse.

That was plain dumb.

Spiritual abuse seems quite a loaded term to me, given that there are very common forms of religion where this kind of "shepherding" is part of the deal. I'm not sure that it is a simple thing to draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable "spiritual" leadership.

But the behaviours here are clearly screwed up, stupid and unthinking. The guy in question clearly has shown himself to be unsuited for a leadership role in a religious organisation, in my opinion. He might not have done anything criminal in a strict sense (or at least in the sense that we're usually familiar with the term in the usual secular courts) but he has done something monumentally stupid.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I'm not sure that it is a simple thing to draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable "spiritual" leadership.

My take is simply that leadership should be empowering and not enfeebling, and should seek to see the led function independently of their leader. The leader should be a servant, not a master.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
Excellent posts both, Cheesy and Eutychus. This does remind me of some of the excesses of 1970s charismatic "shepherding" - some of which (let's not forget) took place within Anglican contexts.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
Well the thing is that these behaviours don't seem all that unusual to me. When I was a youth, I moved in charismatic circles and this kind of intense spiritual intervention was fairly normal.

OK, maybe not the moving into the house thing, but the group I ran with regularly had intense prayer meetings and "shepherding" (although that term wasn't used).

I'd also say that this was self-organised and church leaders weren't involved - but I don't think it is hard to imagine a scenario where leaders would have been involved in this kind of thing. I certainly know of groups where it is fairly normal.

Was it abusive? Honestly, I don't know. It was uncomfortable at times and I think in the long term it contributed to my general dislike of this form of religion. And the window it gave me into other lives certainly made me wonder at the time whether it was a slippery slope into bad stuff.

I don't think I'd put myself in that situation again, and I'd be concerned if I heard about close relatives who were into it - even though what I experienced was a lot milder than described in this incident.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Was it abusive? Honestly, I don't know. It was uncomfortable at times and I think in the long term it contributed to my general dislike of this form of religion. And the window it gave me into other lives certainly made me wonder at the time whether it was a slippery slope into bad stuff.

I don't think such situations are intrinsically abusive, but they can very quickly become abusive if the person in a position of authority:

- deliberately misuses their position

- exercises their authority without being properly aware of the implications of an "authority gradient"

- is deceived into thinking they have a God-given mandate to exercise their authority down an authority gradient.

Perpetrators are often victims, too, in such systems. I realised I was a victim before realising I had been an unwitting perpetrator, too.

I think this sorry situation is an excellent case study in an environment of spiritual abuse.

I'm in the middle of a translation of the mode of governance of a major multinational. There are pages and pages devoted to avoiding conflicts of interest and the like. The sons of darkness are wiser than the children of light.

I despair at how clueless many people in positions of spiritual responsibility seem to be about these things, and to have no moral compass for this kind of thing at all, and how this gives an opportunity for the truly predatory to wreak immense havoc in other people's lives.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
My initial comment was simply a reflection on the broader use of the word. Everything now is an abuse - if a child is subjected to sexual advances quite rightly it is deemed an abuse; if a woman is subjected to rape, quite rightly it's abuse. But nowadays it seems that if someone is merely insulted, they have been 'abused'.

I am simply trying to suggest that overuse of the word abuse risks demeaning the use of the word in proper contexts.

In my second post I simply said that I recognise inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour. I didn't directly refer to the case in point I merely highlighted the use of the word abuse. I do believe, with you all, that it is a serious and reprehensible activity by the minister in question. It is bullying, it is controlling, it is, yes I agree, an abuse of his pastoral status and amounts to persecution and is quite a shocking thing to read. I simply can't understand how it got so far and when I first read about it - not here but elsewhere - I wondered if actually the 'problem' was not a spiritual motivation - a spiritual 'abuse' as if one can abuse another with spirituality - but something a little (a lot!) more sinister that had more to do with the feelings of the man for the young lad.

In which case the abuse is not spiritual but something else entirely.

On a related point, if we are going to say that someone can be abused spiritually, where does one draw the line? Can a sermon be spiritual abuse? Can church discipline over a moral or doctrinal issue be abuse? I can see a can here with a label marked worms.

And this gets back to my original question about the use of the word abuse. Once one says that an action is an abuse, rather than an insult, an act of bullying, etc, people treat it a lot differently and, in some cases, perhaps someone will shout 'abuse' in order to make the insult they have suffered seem more serious than it really is. All insults and acts of bullying are wrong and must be stopped, but I would want to keep the word abuse for specific levels of wrongdoing.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I'm in the middle of a translation of the mode of governance of a major multinational. There are pages and pages devoted to avoiding conflicts of interest and the like. The sons of darkness are wiser than the children of light.

"Oh, but we're Christians! We're good people who don't need to be worried about all that worldly stuff". As if ...
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
On a related point, if we are going to say that someone can be abused spiritually, where does one draw the line? Can a sermon be spiritual abuse? Can church discipline over a moral or doctrinal issue be abuse? I can see a can here with a label marked worms.

Yes exactly. As ministers of the Word (and under the authority of God) we do hope that our teaching and the actions of the Church will influence and persuade people. There are times when, both publicly and privately, we have to make some pointed comments. But, as you say, the danger is how far it goes.

One is reminded of the passage in "How Green Was My Valley" in which a young couple who have been caught "fornicating" are brought before the chapel congregation and given a harsh, formal and self-righteous dressing-down - that certainly goes too far.

And I remember reading (in a book written approvingly by himself!) of a well-known minister who wanted a loan from a bank to build a new church and told his many (and very docile "pastor knows best") members who banked there that they should all close their accounts and transfer their allegiance elsewhere ...
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
It seems to me that where this gets into the weeds is when the person in question was (or appears to be) a willing participant.

In other circumstances, I think we might be raising an eyebrow if an adult was in a controlling relationship with a child - or even if there is adult-adult or child-child relationships of this kind.

And yet we commonly think that this is aOK when there is religion involved. An extreme version is monasticism - would we ordinarily think that something was fine where an individual is basically locked up? Would we say that this person has "volunteered" knowing what they were doing, or would we say that this was abusive?

Or imagine a non-religious confessional. Would we ordinarily think that it was healthy for an individual to spill all their deepest secrets to "get approval" from an authority?

When I think about the revelations of behaviours we hear about from the core of Scientology, it doesn't seem to difficult to imagine these as abusive. But it becomes tricky to see the difference between these and behaviours in our own religious contexts at times.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
In 1986 When I was training to be a SA Officer we had to go to Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park and join with all the speech makers, stand on a soap box and speak for a certain number of minutes.
It was not a pleasant experience.

The crowd gathered round and they 'abused' us in turn, as it were, as we spoke. I remember ne unfortunate young woman who had rather prominent teeth, being insulted by a heckler on the state of her appearance.
It was downright rude and offensive but I would not have said he was abusing her.
I actually don't recall her being upset about it, to be honest.

Anyway, after it was all over, as we were milling around, three Muslim men walked up to me and hemmed me in on all sides and started haranguing me about my Christian beliefs. Astonishingly they had come prepared with a copy of the Athanasian Creed! I had only been in in training for a few weeks and knew nothing about the Creed.
Anyway, they pressed me, cajoled me, insisted I was wrong, harangued me about my 'three gods' - and made me feel very uncomfortable. They made the Jehovah's Witnesses seem almost disinterested!

Was that 'spiritual abuse'?
What would have happened if I had walked up to a policeman and said I was being abused by the Muslims?
What would happen today if three Christians did that, holding a copy of a Koran, to a single Muslim?

We hear of people being offended and I believe that the law is that if someone feels offended then the accused has indeed offended them, regardless of whether they did actually say something offensive.
 
Posted by Doc Tor (# 9748) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Can church discipline over a moral or doctrinal issue be abuse?

Yes, of course it can.

Especially where the church in question forgets that it's a voluntary association with zero temporal power or authority, and acts like it's the One True Faith, Outside of Which is Nothing but Darkness and Despair.

Members of such outfits always have the option to cancel their standing order, raise their middle finger and decamp to St. Normal's down the street, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
It seems to me that where this gets into the weeds is when the person in question was (or appears to be) a willing participant.

In other circumstances, I think we might be raising an eyebrow if an adult was in a controlling relationship with a child - or even if there is adult-adult or child-child relationships of this kind.

And yet we commonly think that this is aOK when there is religion involved. An extreme version is monasticism - would we ordinarily think that something was fine where an individual is basically locked up? Would we say that this person has "volunteered" knowing what they were doing, or would we say that this was abusive?

Or imagine a non-religious confessional. Would we ordinarily think that it was healthy for an individual to spill all their deepest secrets to "get approval" from an authority?

When I think about the revelations of behaviours we hear about from the core of Scientology, it doesn't seem to difficult to imagine these as abusive. But it becomes tricky to see the difference between these and behaviours in our own religious contexts at times.

I think I agree.
In the case in question is the abuse really 'spiritual'? Or is the minister merely abusive - and would be in any setting?

Would a scout master be committing 'scouting abuse' in a similar controlling situation?
A choir master be committing 'musical abuse.'

Does the stereotypical teacher from a bygone generation with a penchant for using the cane in order to drum the times table into a child committing 'educational abuse'?

Or is it simply a case that all these perpetrators are abusive bullies, control freaks who are just that. They use religion, scouting, music and education as vehicles to control younger or weaker people, but the subject matter is irrelevant perhaps?
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

Was that 'spiritual abuse'?

No. If you go to Speakers' Corner, you go there for robust debate. I have a feeling that this is even written in law.

quote:
What would have happened if I had walked up to a policeman and said I was being abused by the Muslims?
Nothing. It happened at Speakers' Corner and you got what was coming to you: robust debate and disagreement.

quote:
What would happen today if three Christians did that, holding a copy of a Koran, to a single Muslim?
At Speakers' Corner? Nothing at all. I've seen it happen.

The only time anyone intervenes there is when the debate tips over into violence.

quote:
We hear of people being offended and I believe that the law is that if someone feels offended then the accused has indeed offended them, regardless of whether they did actually say something offensive.
Again, I think there are special rules at Speakers' Corner, in custom if not in law (although I've a feeling also in law). If you go there and were offended, then maybe you shouldn't have gone there.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Can church discipline over a moral or doctrinal issue be abuse?

Yes, of course it can.

Especially where the church in question forgets that it's a voluntary association with zero temporal power or authority, and acts like it's the One True Faith, Outside of Which is Nothing but Darkness and Despair.

Members of such outfits always have the option to cancel their standing order, raise their middle finger and decamp to St. Normal's down the street, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time.

Yes, of course it can - but usually it's an abuse because the minister or Sunday School teacher has an abusive personality.

What if it's simply a reading from the Bible and a message that affirms that an action is sinful. If someone takes offence at that, has ab abuse been committed by the preacher?
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

Was that 'spiritual abuse'?

No. If you go to Speakers' Corner, you go there for robust debate. I have a feeling that this is even written in law.

quote:
What would have happened if I had walked up to a policeman and said I was being abused by the Muslims?
Nothing. It happened at Speakers' Corner and you got what was coming to you: robust debate and disagreement.

quote:
What would happen today if three Christians did that, holding a copy of a Koran, to a single Muslim?
At Speakers' Corner? Nothing at all. I've seen it happen.

The only time anyone intervenes there is when the debate tips over into violence.

quote:
We hear of people being offended and I believe that the law is that if someone feels offended then the accused has indeed offended them, regardless of whether they did actually say something offensive.
Again, I think there are special rules at Speakers' Corner, in custom if not in law (although I've a feeling also in law). If you go there and were offended, then maybe you shouldn't have gone there.

My apologies, I don't think I've made myself clear.
This conversation was away from the soap boxes, away from the hecklers, away from the speeches. We were just in the area later and not taking part in the debates.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
It's down to the context.

I've seen all sorts of conservative Christians - of all stripes - working themselves into a lather as to whether all this is a slippery slope and they'll be hauled off to jail simply for preaching a morally conservative 'take' from certain scriptural texts.

I can see what they are getting at and can sympathise to some extent.

But I don't see the authorities booting down the door of your Citadel and hauling you in front of the Thought Police if you described something as sinful based on your interpretation of scripture ...

Not yet, anyway ...

[Ultra confused]
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
I don't see this as an exclusively evangelical problem.

Here's a question - are there situations where a minister would withold the sacrament from someone?

And if there are, could the person be 'offended' by this and have grounds for discrimination, calling it an abuse'?
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
My apologies, I don't think I've made myself clear.
This conversation was away from the soap boxes, away from the hecklers, away from the speeches. We were just in the area later and not taking part in the debates.

OK then I don't know what you are saying. It sounded like you went there to set up a stall and make a speech and were then offended when some other people subsequently gathered around you to debate the points that you'd made.

If it was within the area defined as Speakers' Corner, it seems to me that this is very likely normal, and accepted, behaviour. If it happened on the other side of the street then it probably wasn't and might be considered provocative behaviour.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

Here's a question - are there situations where a minister would withold the sacrament from someone?

And if there are, could the person be 'offended' by this and have grounds for discrimination, calling it an abuse'?

No, I don't think so.

I think the only situations where things could rightfully be called abuse are where someone is being forced into something. There is a question about whether something can be abusive if/when an individual has freely chosen something which ordinarily one might describe as weird and/or abusive in other circumstances.

But I don't think withdrawal of a religious rite would or could normally be considered abusive. For one thing the Eucharist is freely entered into on the part of the communicant. For another, there are various restrictions (of different kinds) upon those celebrating the Eucharist as to whom they can distribute the elements.

I don't think one can walk into a Coptic Orthodox church and call it abusive when they don't immediately distribute the Eucharist to you.

In contrast, one might legitimately say that a church was abusive which forced visitors to participate in a rite that they didn't want to contribute to.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
What you are missing, Mudfrog, is that abuse in this context isn't just an isolated event, it's a systematic practice forming part of a system.

Abuse doesn't mean "shouting at somebody". It means exploiting a dominant position to the detriment of an individual in a more vulnerable position.

This is certainly not the preserve of churches or religions but the danger for abuse in such contexts is heightened by the ease of allying God to the abuse of authority.

Again, for all preachers and leaders, the questions should be "am I empowering or enfeebling my congregation?" and "am I respecting them as individuals of equal worth to myself?"
 
Posted by chris stiles (# 12641) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
What you are missing, Mudfrog, is that abuse in this context isn't just an isolated event, it's a systematic practice forming part of a system.

Abuse doesn't mean "shouting at somebody". It means exploiting a dominant position to the detriment of an individual in a more vulnerable position.

I have problems with this definition as long as it isn't practically articulated as something that ends up being un-falsifiable.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
What you are missing, Mudfrog, is that abuse in this context isn't just an isolated event, it's a systematic practice forming part of a system.

Abuse doesn't mean "shouting at somebody". It means exploiting a dominant position to the detriment of an individual in a more vulnerable position.

This is certainly not the preserve of churches or religions but the danger for abuse in such contexts is heightened by the ease of allying God to the abuse of authority.

Again, for all preachers and leaders, the questions should be "am I empowering or enfeebling my congregation?" and "am I respecting them as individuals of equal worth to myself?"

I'm going to agree and disagree [Smile]

Where I agree is where you say it;s not isolated but is systematic practice. Yes, of course it is - which is why a one-off insult is not an abuse.

Where I might disagree is where you go further and say, 'it's a systematic practice forming part of a system.'

I do not believe that in the case referred to originally, the system was at fault. What is the spirituality that was abusive? What is the ecclesial system that is abusive?

I think it is entirely down to the one man who is a controlling, manipulative man who was unhealthily involved with a young boy who he evidently came to see as being in a position of submission and obedience to him.
 
Posted by balaam (# 4543) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Spiritual abuse seems quite a loaded term to me, given that there are very common forms of religion where this kind of "shepherding" is part of the deal.

"Found guilty of Spiritual abuse" is a term used in the Torygraph headline. In the Bishop's Disciplinary Tribunal the accusation was that a breach of safeguarding procedures ... amounted to spiritual abuse. (Introdution, para 2)

The conclusion of the tribunal was that it s possible to spiritually abuse someone unintentionally, (Para 58, page 18) but I cannot see any conclusion to that effect in this case. The conclusion being that the vicar is guilty of abuse of spiritual power and authority and is guilty of misconduct which was unbecoming and inappropriate to the work and office of a Clerk in Holy Orders.

As the evidence is that a vicar abused his position and authority, not that anyone was spiritually abused, even though this was alleged in the complaint, I find the Torygraph headline to be misleading. Nobody has been found guilty of spiritual abuse.

quote:
I'm not sure that it is a simple thing to draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable "spiritual" leadership.

But the behaviours here are clearly screwed up, stupid and unthinking. The guy in question clearly has shown himself to be unsuited for a leadership role in a religious organisation, in my opinion. He might not have done anything criminal in a strict sense (or at least in the sense that we're usually familiar with the term in the usual secular courts) but he has done something monumentally stupid.

Pretty much what the tribunal concluded.
 
Posted by Doc Tor (# 9748) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Yes, of course it can - but usually it's an abuse because the minister or Sunday School teacher has an abusive personality.

What if it's simply a reading from the Bible and a message that affirms that an action is sinful. If someone takes offence at that, has ab abuse been committed by the preacher?

This is you literally moving the goalposts.

You asked whether 'church discipline' can ever be abusive. I said yes, in certain contexts. Now you're asking a different question while ignoring the implications of the first.

So let's drag it back to the first. Yes, church discipline can be abusive, and it can be uniquely abusive in the context of spiritual guidance. In the OP, the boy was essentially imprisoned and interrogated. This was not a sermon context.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Can church discipline over a moral or doctrinal issue be abuse?

Yes, of course it can.

Especially where the church in question forgets that it's a voluntary association with zero temporal power or authority, and acts like it's the One True Faith, Outside of Which is Nothing but Darkness and Despair.

Members of such outfits always have the option to cancel their standing order, raise their middle finger and decamp to St. Normal's down the street, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time.

Strict churches lose members all the time. In fact, very strict movements prefer non-compliant members to go because otherwise their presence will eventually dilute the doctrinal and behavioural absolutes that the movement cleaves to.

What interests me is that this example of spiritual abuse took place in the CofE. On the positive side, at least the institution has a system in place to deal with the problem. But if the floodgates are opened, as the OP says, it might just confirm the nation's suspicions that the CofE is no longer a benign, tolerant guardian of our heritage, but that it's being consumed by something much more alien and dangerous.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Mudfrog, might a better way of looking at it be that it was a systemic issue within the context of that particular congregation that became systemic and embedded due to the actions of a particularly controlling and authoritarian individual.

That way it is both the individual and the system that is at fault - because the individual effectively set the agenda and shaped the system.

I don't think anyone is saying that the broader system or context - the Church of England, Christianity in general, is therefore at fault or to blame.

I agree that the Telegraph headline could be misleading, but that often happens with headlines in all newspapers of all stripes - it's often a feature of sub-editors going for the easy-option or a quick sound-bite rather than trying harder to match the headline to the overall thrust of the article.

It's a tricky thing to do as by their very nature headlines are short, snappy and prone to be more strident than the articles they accompany.

Unless it's The Sun of course ...

[Roll Eyes]
 
Posted by balaam (# 4543) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Abuse doesn't mean "shouting at somebody". It means exploiting a dominant position to the detriment of an individual in a more vulnerable position.

Yet although the vicar certainly did the latter part of that, the conclusion is not that he abused the boy, as alleged, but that he abused his position.
quote:
This is certainly not the preserve of churches or religions but the danger for abuse in such contexts is heightened by the ease of allying God to the abuse of authority.

Again, for all preachers and leaders, the questions should be "am I empowering or enfeebling my congregation?" and "am I respecting them as individuals of equal worth to myself?"

The church in question has guidelines for the mentoring programme: (Church guidelines taken from the Disciplinary Tribunal in italic. My comments in upright text.

(i) all mentors must abide by 'our Safeguarding or Child Protection Policy' at all times
when meeting with young people
(ii) each mentor has been given a copy of the CPP which states 'please read this
important document'
(iii) the mentor should meet with mentee at least once a month for 1 hour although 'you can do more'


Moving in with the family and insisting that he pray with the boy twice a day is excessive when compared to at least once a month for 1 hour.

(iv) the mentor team should be told if and when the mentor is meeting the mentee and to keep records of the meetings.

Another one broken I beieve

(v) an adult should not be left alone with a child/young person where there is little or
no opportunity of the activity being observed by others


Often alone with the boy.

(v) avoid if possible being alone in a room with a child/young person without another adult nearby: doors should be left open. It is better to meet in a public space like a coffee shop/Mcdonalds/park bench. 'Caution is always required'

The boy's bedroom with the doors closed and not directly above the living room would breach this also.

(vi) avoid counselling via text/email or Instant Messaging or phone.

I have nothing against the church's mentoring programme, it looks like it was properly though out. The problem being that these good guidelines were not adhered to by the vicar.
 
Posted by balaam (# 4543) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Mudfrog, might a better way of looking at it be that it was a systemic issue within the context of that particular congregation

That particular congregation had suitable guidelines. See above crosspost.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Can church discipline over a moral or doctrinal issue be abuse?

Yes, of course it can.

Especially where the church in question forgets that it's a voluntary association with zero temporal power or authority, and acts like it's the One True Faith, Outside of Which is Nothing but Darkness and Despair.

Members of such outfits always have the option to cancel their standing order, raise their middle finger and decamp to St. Normal's down the street, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time.

Strict churches lose members all the time. In fact, very strict movements prefer non-compliant members to go because otherwise their presence will eventually dilute the doctrinal and behavioural absolutes that the movement cleaves to.

What interests me is that this example of spiritual abuse took place in the CofE. On the positive side, at least the institution has a system in place to deal with the problem. But if the floodgates are opened, as the OP says, it might just confirm the nation's suspicions that the CofE is no longer a benign, tolerant guardian of our heritage, but that it's being consumed by something much more alien and dangerous.

Nah. This isn't the first time there have been incidents like this in an Anglican context, nor will it be the last.

As Baptist Trainfan has reminded us, some of the 'heavy' aspects of 1970s style discipleship and 'shepherding' happened in Anglican contexts as well as in independent charismatic 'new churches' and indeed charismatic evangelical churches of all stripes to some extent.

Then there was the whole 'Nine O'Clock Service' thing in Sheffield in the late 1980s early 1990s which all went very ugly and very pear-shaped with terrible instances of emotional and other abuse.

That was an Anglican context too, of course.

I don't think this particular case will add anything other than perhaps to contribute to a growing sense of wariness that an increasingly secularised society feels towards organised religion in general.

I suspect that's the concern behind some of Mudfrog's comments on this thread. How long will it be before aspects that we wouldn't consider 'abusive' become labelled as such by an increasingly secularised society?

Mudfrog can correct me if I'm wrong.

If I have read him right, then I can understand his concern. There is a general atmosphere of suspicion towards organised religion across society as a whole. I've lost count of the number of times I've been at an open-mic poetry event or some kind of poetry workshop where someone or other has come out with a ranting poem about the evils of organised religion.

Heck, I was at one recently where someone produced a dreadful draft of a completely over-the-top poem which had the CofE authorities meeting conspiratorially to coin religious-sounding words - even architectural terms like 'narthex' - in order to hoodwink and bamboozle people.

As if there are Dan Brown-esque conclaves of hooded men meeting together in candle-lit crypts lined with skulls saying, 'Septuagisima! That'll really fox them ....' or, 'Nave and Narthex! That'll really mess with their heads! Now we can have complete and utter control! Mwa ha ha ha! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ...!'

So yes, there is an appetite for this sort of over-reaction but in this particular case, as we all seem to agree, the vicar did overstep the mark by a long, long way.

It may have a culmulative effect of reducing whatever trust people still have for religious institutions, but that process has been going on for a long time ...

This isn't anything new.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
It all repeatedly comes down to one thing:
It was entirely the responsibility of the one man and his 'need' to be with this young lad. He used his position as mentor to spend an inordinate amount f time alone with him.

The mentorship was evidently, it seems to me, the means he employed t get near and stay near him.

That's the issue here, I feel. It's not spiritual - it's a different thing entirely.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
This isn't the first time there have been incidents like this in an Anglican context, nor will it be the last.
[...]
I don't think this particular case will add anything other than perhaps to contribute to a growing sense of wariness that an increasingly secularised society feels towards organised religion in general.

No, I certainly don't imagine this problem is new. But the question in the OP (AFAIUI) is whether it would 'open the floodgates' in terms of this kind of thing coming to public attention.

If not, then I'm sure the CofE can deal with occasional problems as they arise. An institution that encourages so much diversity has to get used to people who take things in a troublesome direction.
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Again, for all preachers and leaders, the questions should be "am I empowering or enfeebling my congregation?" and "am I respecting them as individuals of equal worth to myself?"

Surely there is also a responsibility for church leaders to instruct their flock to live their lives in accordance with church teaching, and to admonish or discipline them should they fail to do so?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Abuse doesn't mean "shouting at somebody". It means exploiting a dominant position to the detriment of an individual in a more vulnerable position.

I have problems with this definition as long as it isn't practically articulated as something that ends up being un-falsifiable.
When going to law, yes. Proofs are required. In my case I had them. For more attempts at definition on my part in the immediate aftermath, quite a few years ago now, see here.

I think any system is capable of being abused. All systems are fallible. The right response is to a) educate people appropriately b) set up suitable checks and balances c) provide guidelines. Multinationals are learning fast how to do this because these concerns are increasingly affecting their bottom lines as non-financial ratings agencies start rating them on CSR type issues. That doesn't get rid of abusive behaviour but at least it provides a way of dealing with it.

quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
That's the issue here, I feel. It's not spiritual - it's a different thing entirely.

It sounds as if you're saying "so long as we're spiritual, there's no danger of abuse". That is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to the potential for spiritual abuse.

In my experience spiritual abuse is exactly like other forms of moral harassment but more serious, because the abuse of authority invokes God to impose one's will on someone who believes that God is the ultimate authority and who may be made more fearful of questioning what's going on because of that.

I was on the receiving end of spiritual abuse, and I consider myself a strong personality. If I had been less strong, or had less support, I think I could quite easily have committed suicide or become a psychiatric case. As I think many others here can attest, being told you're demon-possessed and/or that your wife is can screw with you and your marriage. Many people who go through this kind of thing never recover. Spiritual abuse is not trivial.

Otherwise, as I always say in these threads, go watch The Firm. How many times I have watched this film and thought I was back in some of the nastier parts of Newfrontiers.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Again, for all preachers and leaders, the questions should be "am I empowering or enfeebling my congregation?" and "am I respecting them as individuals of equal worth to myself?"

Surely there is also a responsibility for church leaders to instruct their flock to live their lives in accordance with church teaching, and to admonish or discipline them should they fail to do so?
Those responsibilities are not in and of themselves incompatible. But if the ones you invoke are performed in the absence of the ones I invoke, you have a sure-fire recipe for spiritual abuse.

Here's an interesting exercise: go through the Bible and find all the places where it talks about leaders exercising authority over others and list them here. If you don't have the time, guess the answer. Go on, guess.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
The floodgates, I am ascerting, is the common usage of the term.

I have hesitated to use this as an example because of the issue but now is the time.

A c List pop star here in the UK has recently complained to the London Transport people and to the Mayor of London no less (!) about an incident in which, from what I gather, the said pop star was driving through London and turned into a road, misjudging the width of the road, and got into an altercation with the driver of the London bus coming the other way.

I am guessing that it may have been easier for the car to reverse than for the London double decker bus but it seems the pop star was having none of it; with the result that the bus driver called him a 'poofter'.

Yes, it was wrong.
Yes, the driver had no right to insult the pop star.
Yes, it's more than just politically-incorrect to call the gay pop star a poofter - it is just wrong.

BUT said pop star is claiming that this is homophobic abuse - so much so that he's taken it to the Mayor for him to do something about it.

The context is a row in the street where tempers were frayed and lost.
This word was not used in a systemic manner, it was not planned or deliberately and continually levelled at the pop star; it couldn't have been because 30 seconds before the driver had no idea who the car driver was. He was wrong in that he as a professional should not have lost his temper, should not have shouted at the car driver and should certainly not used such insulting language.

But it was an insult, it was not a deliberate 'abuse'.

My point is this : when the public see headlines such as the one describing the minister and his mentee - spiritual abuse - the words and phrases enter the public consciousness and they become our vocabulary. So, to use this example, a bad-tempered insult becomes an abuse because that's the word that is current and de rigueur.

No one is insulted anymore, we are abused.
That's where the floodgates are opening - where we use words that over state the situation because they are too easily used in the media.

To go back to Hyde Park; I did not feel abused, I did not feel harrassed or spiritually oppressed. Nowadays, however, many people in that situation may feel they have been the subject of harrassment.

[ 09. January 2018, 11:36: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
There is a difference between abuse, which need not involve any abusive language at all, and abusive language. Stop changing the subject.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
That's the issue here, I feel. It's not spiritual - it's a different thing entirely.

It sounds as if you're saying "so long as we're spiritual, there's no danger of abuse". That is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to the potential for spiritual abuse.

In my experience spiritual abuse is exactly like other forms of moral harassment but more serious, because the abuse of authority invokes God to impose one's will on someone who believes that God is the ultimate authority and who may be made more fearful of questioning what's going on because of that.

I was on the receiving end of spiritual abuse, and I consider myself a strong personality. If I had been less strong, or had less support, I think I could quite easily have committed suicide or become a psychiatric case. As I think many others here can attest, being told you're demon-possessed and/or that your wife is can screw with you and your marriage. Many people who go through this kind of thing never recover. Spiritual abuse is not trivial.

Otherwise, as I always say in these threads, go watch The Firm. How many times I have watched this film and thought I was back in some of the nastier parts of Newfrontiers.

I am very sorry to hear of your experience and I would dread to think I was pontificating on your hurt.
I can't say that I have been abused by any ecclesiastical authority or system - indeed, I cannot think that the Bible itself, not any of the churches who teach it and have built a church around it - has anything abusive about it.

What I do see is abusive people the stereotypical Nuns, Priests, choirmasters, Pastors, Scout leaders, housegroup leaders, gym coaches, office managers....who use their position and the subject matter they deal in, to abuse and control people.

The fact that (let's guess a %) 95% of people within all those structures will use the same methods and subscribe to the same beliefs in the correct and non-abusive ways with positive and helpful results, shows that it is not the structure that is abusive but the aberrant abuser who sees it all as an opportunity to abuse others.

It's spiritual abuse (or educational or sporting abuse) but only because that's the context and the vehicle. In the hands of another, those same activities and scenarios, properly done, would not be abusive.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
There is a difference between abuse, which need not involve any abusive language at all, and abusive language. Stop changing the subject.

Eh?
I'm not changing the subject - the whole idea of a discussion is that it moves about.
I'm actually replying to Svitlana's point about the floodgates opening.
 
Posted by Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Spiritual abuse seems quite a loaded term to me, given that there are very common forms of religion where this kind of "shepherding" is part of the deal.

"Found guilty of Spiritual abuse" is a term used in the Torygraph headline. In the Bishop's Disciplinary Tribunal the accusation was that a breach of safeguarding procedures ... amounted to spiritual abuse. (Introdution, para 2)

The conclusion of the tribunal was that it s possible to spiritually abuse someone unintentionally, (Para 58, page 18) but I cannot see any conclusion to that effect in this case. The conclusion being that the vicar is guilty of abuse of spiritual power and authority and is guilty of misconduct which was unbecoming and inappropriate to the work and office of a Clerk in Holy Orders.

As the evidence is that a vicar abused his position and authority, not that anyone was spiritually abused, even though this was alleged in the complaint, I find the Torygraph headline to be misleading. Nobody has been found guilty of spiritual abuse.

quote:
I'm not sure that it is a simple thing to draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable "spiritual" leadership.

But the behaviours here are clearly screwed up, stupid and unthinking. The guy in question clearly has shown himself to be unsuited for a leadership role in a religious organisation, in my opinion. He might not have done anything criminal in a strict sense (or at least in the sense that we're usually familiar with the term in the usual secular courts) but he has done something monumentally stupid.

Pretty much what the tribunal concluded.

The key issue in most of these cases is the inappropriate behaviours and the Christianity is a side-show. Until an excuse / reason is needed to justify the inappropriate behaviours and then it’s all about the Christianity.
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
Where was Davis' manager in all this? Who was he accountable to in moving in to a family of his flock's home with a mental illness from an unknown trauma?
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

My point is this : when the public see headlines such as the one describing the minister and his mentee - spiritual abuse - the words and phrases enter the public consciousness and they become our vocabulary. So, to use this example, a bad-tempered insult becomes an abuse because that's the word that is current and de rigueur.

No one is insulted anymore, we are abused.
That's where the floodgates are opening - where we use words that over state the situation because they are too easily used in the media.

[...]
I'm actually replying to Svitlana's point about the floodgates opening.


I wasn't thinking so much about the floodgates opening with regards to fairly commonplace doctrines and ideas being treated spuriously as 'spiritual abuse'.

Rather, I imagined the OP to be referring to a range of truly abusive situations that were formerly under the radar, now being swiftly brought to the light. You only need a few of these cases to come out to influence public opinion.

Maybe it all comes to the same thing, though: an accumulative negativity towards all sorts of religious perspectives.

For example, I think many secular people have come to see any kind of religious 'indoctrination' of children as spiritually abusive. (This fear would certainly help to explain the collapse of the Sunday Schools.) Yet others resent the churches' appeal to the vulnerable more generally.

As a Christian I find these complaints mean spirited, but in this case the vulnerability issue provides food for thought. The woman in this story seems to have been living alone with her son. Did she allow this vicar to get so unusually close because she thought he'd be a good, strong male role model? And did this meddling vicar focus on her son over all the other teenagers in the 'very large, successful church' precisely because there was no father in the house? It makes you wonder.

But the trouble with 'spiritual abuse' is that it's inevitably going to be culturally determined. Just like insanity.

[ 09. January 2018, 12:48: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
It's not OK in our culture for a 50 year old man to be in a boy's room and face for 2 hours a night even if he's his father.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
At risk of being accused of changing the subject, I would like to bring in the idea of faith schools that are outside the education system and are very much looked at with great suspicion and, I might add, some hysteria by the BBC.

I was a little concerned to hear that the secular society i complaining about such schools - calling them 'faith schools' indeed, even though they are not the local Church of England or Roman Catholic Local Authority-style Primary School!

The report talked about the worry that abuses were taking place in these private establishments and my mind immediately thought of the Muslim schools where children are segregated and taught Islam in an intensified way but immediately the reporter mention one are where there were a couple of hundred .
Jewish schools, and where across the UK there were many Christian and Muslim schools, all outside the education authority (and not meaning academies).

My thought was, what are these so-called Christian schools and why did the BBC specifically mention the number of Jewish schools??

I did wonder whether it was the BBCs attempt to downplay the existence of the Islamic ones by suggesting the Jews and Christians were up to no good as well!

I would love to know what the Jews are teaching that might indoctrinate or radicalise their kids!
I would also like to know what these so-called Christian schools are that are being lined up against the well-publicised Islamic schools that keep the genders apart and discriminate against girls.

These are evident abuses but I fail to see what the Christians and Jews might be doing.
 
Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Emotional abuse is hard to prove.

I guess that is the difficulty in any context. So yes, probably a good idea to widen the discussion away from a specific incident.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
At risk of being accused of changing the subject

You certainly are, but what gets me about your post is the impression that abuse is liable to occur everywhere except in Christian circles, and that it is precisely this sort of impression that opens the door to unchecked abuse.
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
It can be hard to recognise when you're party to it.
 
Posted by Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Again, for all preachers and leaders, the questions should be "am I empowering or enfeebling my congregation?" and "am I respecting them as individuals of equal worth to myself?"

Surely there is also a responsibility for church leaders to instruct their flock to live their lives in accordance with church teaching, and to admonish or discipline them should they fail to do so?
There are ways of doing it but usually there are checks and balances in the system to protect everyone involved – the discipliner and the discipline.

In a friend’s church, which works on a membership basis, church membership could be suspended if your behaviour was considered inappropriate for a church member in good standing. The suspension had to be agreed unanimously by the church leadership.

Once the decision had been made, the member would be informed in person by two members of the church leadership team. A Nother person would be present who acted as the advocate / supporter of the church member. The church members were informed that X’s membership had been suspended at the next church meeting, but that was all they were told. X was offered pastoral support to sort things out and, once this was done, the membership would be instated.

All the membership suspension meant in practice was that you couldn’t vote or speak at meetings or have any sort of leadership role. You were welcome at services etc and it was never mentioned. ,

In practice, in the 200 plus years the church existed only one member was actually suspended. And they freely admit it was entirely fair in the circumstances. It was the wake-up call they needed to get themselves together. Their membership was unsuspended once the issue was resolved and the only reason they left was because they moved.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
A completely over-the-top poem which had the CofE authorities meeting conspiratorially to coin religious-sounding words - even architectural terms like 'narthex' - in order to hoodwink and bamboozle people.

{Silly comment warning ... } I didn't think the CofE had narthexes, only The Episcopal Church (USA). { Comment ends}
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
At risk of being accused of changing the subject

You certainly are, but what gets me about your post is the impression that abuse is liable to occur everywhere except in Christian circles.
I don't think that's what Mudfrog is saying at all. I think he's saying:

1. "Abuse" is a serious term. So let's not devalue it by using it when we talk about relatively trivial insults or incidents.

2. People such as Vicars use their spiritual position and authority to abuse. However if those same people weren't religious leaders, they would probably find other ways of abuse as doing so seems to be part of their personality.

Or am I hopelessly muddled?
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
It's not OK in our culture for a 50 year old man to be in a boy's room and face for 2 hours a night even if he's his father.

I agree. Two hours working on some hobby or academic problem, perhaps, but certainly not a spiritual problem! British fathers aren't expected to dominate their children's spiritual lives, or even to offer much spiritual guidance at all, AFAICS. And of course, stopping your teenage son from having a girlfriend is a cultural no no.

Yet the mother allowed this man to have this kind of relationship with her son. I think she must have been hoping he'd fill some kind of gap in her son's life. She was glad that someone cared.

[ 09. January 2018, 13:57: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
At risk of being accused of changing the subject

You certainly are, but what gets me about your post is the impression that abuse is liable to occur everywhere except in Christian circles.
I don't think that's what Mudfrog is saying at all. I think he's saying:

1. "Abuse" is a serious term. So let's not devalue it by using it when we talk about relatively trivial insults or incidents.

2. People such as Vicars use their spiritual position and authority to abuse. However if those same people weren't religious leaders, they would probably find other ways of abuse as doing so seems to be part of their personality.

Or am I hopelessly muddled?

That's exactly what I'v been trying to say. Thank you.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
At risk of being accused of changing the subject

You certainly are, but what gets me about your post is the impression that abuse is liable to occur everywhere except in Christian circles, and that it is precisely this sort of impression that opens the door to unchecked abuse.
I am well aware that abuse can take place in Christian circles; however, what I am asking, in the context of the abuses carried out in private and often hidden, unregistered faith 'schools' is, where are the Christian ones?

Are there indeed parallel schools akin to the Muslim ones?
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:


These are evident abuses but I fail to see what the Christians and Jews might be doing.

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything. But to try to answer your question - there are a small number of very conservative (and private) Christian schools with (what most of us would regard as) strange ideas about children's education. OFSTED recently found many Christian schools associated with ACE inadequate and reports from former pupils suggest some pretty bizarre practices including having children sitting in individual booths facing the wall where they copy out from text-books in silence day after day.

Illegal Jewish schools have been reported to be places where violence was routine, where children are not kept safe and where the students receive very little education.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
I suppose the irony is that the Christian schools were set up legally whereas the Jewish ones were illegal - perhaps showing how those communities view the structures of wider society and/or their ability to navigate the legal systems.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
That report is extremely interesting.

1) I don't see the syllabus of the school as particularly abusive. The beliefs are actually quite mainstream, considering that the school itself closed down 18 years ago! Just consider how far secular society's views on homosexuality have come in those 18 years. There was nothing in the page that was pictured that taught anything that many people would have believed and taught before 2000.
I have to say, many conservative Christian groups and churches would subscribe to what was written in that lesson still today.

2) Balance the view of the boy who rejected his school learning with the boy (now both young men) who, whilst no longer as conservative as his boyhood self, believed the school was affirming and positive. Is there any difference between any teenagers, one who stays in a church and another who rejects his sunday school background and drinks heavily at University? I don't think so.

3) Oh look, see who the main complainent is - a member of the British Humanist Society. Quelle surprise! He's going to be against anything from ACE right down to a school assembly where they tell the story of the Loaves and Fishes. He's going to see no good whatever in a curriculum where faith is taught as a informing a meaningful world view.

4) I have worked with the elderly as a chaplain and I can guarantee that if you were talk to anyone over the age of 80 they will all tell you that in every school in the country they learned Scripture by rote, took tests in reciting Bible verses, etc, etc. They all told me about proper Scripture Lessons and RE - none of this stuff they learn now. I fail to see what the first boy had against this:
quote:
we recited that month's scripture passage; we had to memorise around 10-15 Bible-verses each month
What?? My God: that is real spiritual abuse that is! If they were learning 10 -15 Bible verses a DAY I could understand his displeasure, but come on. It's a Christian school. I bet he would complain he had to learn the Lord's Prayer as well!

At my school we sang hymns. If I was an atheist now I would be wanting to sue the BBC for producing a blue BBC hymn book and making us sing along t the wireless; I can't get those songs out of my head at the age of 55. How DARE they indoctrinate me?

*...goes off singing, When a Knight Won his Spurs in the Stories of Old...*

Grrrr. I was abused!

[ 09. January 2018, 15:04: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
So you're not interested in the reports that the school left pupils incapable of dealing with subsequent life, about the weird and isolating pedagogy etc.

Figures.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
So you're not interested in the reports that the school left pupils incapable of dealing with subsequent life, about the weird and isolating pedagogy etc.

Figures.

Well, that's the opinion of one boy. As I said, the other boy tells a different story.
If they learned other subjects as well as learning to recite Bible verses then I don't see the problem.
He obviously got a decent education if he's doing a PhD at such a youngish age.

What was it exactly that prevented him from learning about the real world, did his parents keep in in a cupboard under the stairs as well?

Maybe I should sue my senior school because it was a boys' school for most of my time there and I never spoke to a girl until they mysteriously appeared in VIth Form. I'm sure that must have ruined forever my worldview about females, sex and relationships.

Or perhaps not seeing that I got married 5 years later at 22 - and I'm still married to the same 'woman' I think they're called, 33 years later.

[ 09. January 2018, 15:13: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]
 
Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:


At my school we sang hymns. If I was an atheist now I would be wanting to sue the BBC for producing a blue BBC hymn book and making us sing along t the wireless; I can't get those songs out of my head at the age of 55. How DARE they indoctrinate me?


Grrrr. I was abused!

So is it merely a question of degree, then? Rather like smacking - those who are talking about a light tap on the legs wonder what all the fuss is about, whereas those who were beaten to within an inch of their lives think all physical chastisement is serious abuse. They are not talking about the same thing.

I should think that some forms of spiritual and emotional control (think cults) would definitely come into the category of abusive (and others might merely be the whimperings of a sensitive snowflake), but where do you draw the line??

I guess it was the fact that everyone involved believed a line had been crossed, in this case, that it ever came to tribunal at all.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Mudfrog, I think you're failing to understand that spiritual abuse can happen regardless of what we believe about Dead Horse issues and whether UK education should look like it did in the 1950s.

As I said in DH recently, it would be nice if upright behaviour coincided with our idea of orthodox, "sound" Christianity but the demonstrable reality is that it doesn't. Nobody is immune to abusive practices. You can tick all the right doctrinal boxes and still be an abuser. The differences reside in either a) what checks and balances are put in place to prevent them b) more cynically, how good people are at covering them up. You don't have to look far to find examples of b) in Christian circles.

Do you still think the incident in the OP is still too trivial to be termed abuse?

[ 09. January 2018, 15:32: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
It's not OK in our culture for a 50 year old man to be in a boy's room and face for 2 hours a night even if he's his father.

I agree. Two hours working on some hobby or academic problem, perhaps, but certainly not a spiritual problem!
By the many-tentacled chin of Great Cthulhu and all his shrieking shoggoths, why the ever-lovin' fuck not? [Mad]

I earnestly pray that, should I ever be blessed with a son, I will be the sort of father who, with the Lord's help, can spend a couple of hours helping my son with any spiritual problem he might have. For you to say that fathers shouldn't have such a role in their child's life is just unfathomable.

quote:
British fathers aren't expected to dominate their children's spiritual lives, or even to offer much spiritual guidance at all, AFAICS.
And that's a large part of what's wrong with Christianity in this country. [Disappointed]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
If a 50 year old is in his son's room and face for 2 hours a night on a regular basis, the relationship is not a healthy one, because it doesn't suggest the parent is allowing the son to grow towards autonomy. Again that is not abuse per se but it could be terrain for it.

We are not supposed to be "dominating" anyone's lives. Not even our kids'. In my view it's attempts to "dominate" that are a large part of what's wrong with Christianity throughout the entire planet.

[ 09. January 2018, 15:38: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:


Or perhaps not seeing that I got married 5 years later at 22 - and I'm still married to the same 'woman' I think they're called, 33 years later.

[Roll Eyes]
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
Oh Chorister, you're a braver man than I, mentioning the 'Snowflake' word. [Smile]

Eutychus, you make my point very well for me about the misuse of the word 'Abuse'

There is no way on God's good earth that 'forcing' an 11 year old child to recite 10 verses a month from the Bible is abuse.

If anyone thinks that, then they are one of Chorister's snowflakes.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Eutychus, you make my point very well for me about the misuse of the word 'Abuse'

How? If you think nothing short of physical violence constitutes abuse, I'll see you in Hell.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Was it abusive? Honestly, I don't know. It was uncomfortable at times and I think in the long term it contributed to my general dislike of this form of religion. And the window it gave me into other lives certainly made me wonder at the time whether it was a slippery slope into bad stuff.

I don't think such situations are intrinsically abusive, but they can very quickly become abusive if the person in a position of authority:

I think the situation mr cheesy describes is coercive at least and not a million miles away from abusive.
The space between teaching and indoctrination isn't a chasm. They are on the same road and where one turns to the other isn't perfectly clear.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Eutychus, you make my point very well for me about the misuse of the word 'Abuse'

How? If you think nothing short of physical violence constitutes abuse, I'll see you in Hell.
Well, that's a bit abusive.

Have we got our wires crossed? I was talking about the boy in the Christian school...
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
[qb] At risk of being accused of changing the subject

You certainly are, but what gets me about your post is the impression that abuse is liable to occur everywhere except in Christian circles.

I don't think that's what Mudfrog is saying at all. I think he's saying:

1. "Abuse" is a serious term. So let's not devalue it by using it when we talk about relatively trivial insults or incidents.

2. People such as Vicars use their spiritual position and authority to abuse. However if those same people weren't religious leaders, they would probably find other ways of abuse as doing so seems to be part of their personality.

Or am I hopelessly muddled?

That's exactly what I'v been trying to say. Thank you.
He understands what you said, but I don't think anyone here didn't.
Abuse is
quote:
use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse.
And the OP describes this very thing.
You want the spiritual out of it as if that wasn't a factor.
But it is. In an environment where "God will punish you" and his representative have his authority, it is a factor in the abuse.
Also, abusers will always abuse is Calvinistic, but untrue. Environment affects behaviour. Giving spiritual a pass is part of the problem.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
Yes, but surely there could be other triggering situations as well (eg teacher in boarding school, one-to-one counsellor, officer in the armed forces ...).

[ 09. January 2018, 16:01: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]
 
Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
It's not OK in our culture for a 50 year old man to be in a boy's room and face for 2 hours a night even if he's his father.

I agree. Two hours working on some hobby or academic problem, perhaps, but certainly not a spiritual problem!
By the many-tentacled chin of Great Cthulhu and all his shrieking shoggoths, why the ever-lovin' fuck not? [Mad]

I earnestly pray that, should I ever be blessed with a son, I will be the sort of father who, with the Lord's help, can spend a couple of hours helping my son with any spiritual problem he might have. For you to say that fathers shouldn't have such a role in their child's life is just unfathomable.


Two hours a night, night in night out, as I understand it, starts sounding more like berating than helping.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Have we got our wires crossed? I was talking about the boy in the Christian school...

In that case show me where I've made your point for you in any respect.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:

I earnestly pray that, should I ever be blessed with a son, I will be the sort of father who, with the Lord's help, can spend a couple of hours helping my son with any spiritual problem he might have. For you to say that fathers shouldn't have such a role in their child's life is just unfathomable.

No, no, no. I wasn't saying that they 'shouldn't' be involved. I said that the culture doesn't expect it. Even church culture doesn't seem to have very high expectations there. Yet fathers are very important in their children's spiritual development.

It would be interesting to know how long this vicar intended spending on this boy. These two hour sessions couldn't have gone on for ever. TBH, I'm surprised the vicar had the time to do what he did anyway. Why didn't he send one of the youth leaders to do the job? If he has a family what did they think he was up to?

The context is strange.

[ 09. January 2018, 16:06: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Yes, but surely there could be other triggering situations as well (eg teacher in boarding school, one-to-one counsellor, officer in the armed forces ...).

What lilbuddha said:
quote:
You want the spiritual out of it as if that wasn't a factor.
But it is. In an environment where "God will punish you" and his representative have his authority, it is a factor in the abuse.


 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
The abuse stems from the motivation behind the action.
There is nothing wrong with teaching the Scripture, nothing wrong with 'teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,' (2 Timothy 3 v 16), nothing wrong in mentoring, spiritual formation, discipling, etc, etc.

But there is something very wrong when it's so intensive and extensive. The motivation here is clearly not spiritual. I hesitate to suggest what it might be.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Yet fathers are very important in their children's spiritual development.

Speaking as both a son and a father (and, God help me, a grandfather) I can only agree with this. But in my experience fathers are valuable as someone to turn to and have as a point of reference. The art of fatherhood is to nurture the child's own sense of responsibility, not impose an iron rule.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Yes, but surely there could be other triggering situations as well (eg teacher in boarding school, one-to-one counsellor, officer in the armed forces ...).

Yes. But using the threat of Hell adds even more weight. Christians posit that God is the very reason for one;'s existence. That His approval and love is the most important thing. Of course it is a massive factor and an accurate descriptor for the type of abuse.
We have physical abuse, sexual abuse and mental abuse. The fact that they can exist independently doesn't eliminate any of the descriptors as being accurate or important.
 
Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
I'm not sure why you are so averse to the obvious conclusion that this vicar got a bee in his bonnet that this boy was backsliding away from his version of "the true faith" and anything up to and including crawling naked over broken glass was justified in trying to win him back. Hellfire, damnation and all that.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Have we got our wires crossed? I was talking about the boy in the Christian school...

In that case show me where I've made your point for you in any respect.
You said, and I presume it was in response to my comment about elderly people remembering reciting Bible verses in Scripture lessons:

quote:
Mudfrog, I think you're failing to understand that spiritual abuse can happen regardless of what we believe about Dead Horse issues and whether UK education should look like it did in the 1950s.
I inferred from that that you were suggesting that 1950s-style Bible teaching was spiritual abuse.

And I NEVER, not even ONCE said, hinted or implied that the case in the OP was 'trivial'.

If people would stop putting words into my mouth and actually read what I wrote...
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I'm not sure why you are so averse to the obvious conclusion that this vicar got a bee in his bonnet that this boy was backsliding away from his version of "the true faith" and anything up to and including crawling naked over broken glass was justified in trying to win him back. Hellfire, damnation and all that.

I think this is possible and I don't think it changes anything in my position.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
The abuse stems from the motivation behind the action.

Not necessarily. One can engage in abusive behaviour unawares because one is part of an abusive system. I've done it. I'm not proud of this.

quote:
There is nothing wrong with teaching the Scripture, nothing wrong with 'teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,' (2 Timothy 3 v 16), nothing wrong in mentoring, spiritual formation, discipling, etc, etc.
And here is the root of the deception. You assume that so long as you are doing all these things, you cannot be behaving in an abusive manner. This is not true.

quote:
The motivation here is clearly not spiritual.
"Spiritual abuse" doesn't mean that somebody is being "spiritual" while they abuse. It means they are engaging in objectively abusive behaviour in a spiritual context and often using spiritual language, with all the added force that language gives to their abusive behaviour.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:


If people would stop putting words into my mouth and actually read what I wrote...

I don't think anybody really is. You appear to want to give religion a pass in this and pretend it is just about an abusive person who would have abused regardless.
Religion is a factor, whether you like it or not.

[ 09. January 2018, 16:15: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
You said, and I presume it was in response to my comment about elderly people remembering reciting Bible verses in Scripture lessons:

quote:
Mudfrog, I think you're failing to understand that spiritual abuse can happen regardless of what we believe about Dead Horse issues and whether UK education should look like it did in the 1950s.
I inferred from that that you were suggesting that 1950s-style Bible teaching was spiritual abuse.
That's the total opposite of what I said.
quote:
And I NEVER, not even ONCE said, hinted or implied that the case in the OP was 'trivial'.
You don't think it was abusive, though.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
The abuse stems from the motivation behind the action.

Not necessarily. One can engage in abusive behaviour unawares because one is part of an abusive system. I've done it. I'm not proud of this.

quote:
There is nothing wrong with teaching the Scripture, nothing wrong with 'teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,' (2 Timothy 3 v 16), nothing wrong in mentoring, spiritual formation, discipling, etc, etc.
And here is the root of the deception. You assume that so long as you are doing all these things, you cannot be behaving in an abusive manner. This is not true.

quote:
The motivation here is clearly not spiritual.
"Spiritual abuse" doesn't mean that somebody is being "spiritual" while they abuse. It means they are engaging in objectively abusive behaviour in a spiritual context and often using spiritual language, with all the added force that language gives to their abusive behaviour.

1) In the OP the abuse was not done unawares. No minister 'ministers' in such a way out of the best of intentions. If we believe he was doing this unaware of his actions, then we are a little bit naive.

2) What was the abusive 'system' he was making use of? It certainly wan't an official one. It was evidently one of his own design - which comes back to his own motivation in acting the way he did.

3) I never said you that so long as you are doing all these things, you cannot be behaving in an abusive manner.
You certainly can behave in an abusive manner doing these things; but the Christlike way is to do these things in the aforementioned Christlike manner. To rebuke does not mean to lambast someone or hit them over the head with a Bible!

4)
quote:
they are engaging in objectively abusive behaviour in a spiritual context and often using spiritual language, with all the added force that language gives to their abusive behaviour.
Yes, exactly. I've been saying that. They are using the spiritual ministry as a vehicle for their abuse. An abuse they would want to be engaged in whatever the context - spiritual, sporting, educational, sexual. The content isn't necessarily abusive, simply the manner it's presented and the motivation behind it. Teaching someone the Lord's Prayer is not spiritual abuse. Neither is suspending them by the ankles and beating them until they get it right. The abuse is the beating, not the teaching of the Lord's Prayer. So, it's not spiritual abuse; it's abuse. Period.
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
There is nothing wrong with teaching the Scripture, nothing wrong with 'teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,' (2 Timothy 3 v 16), nothing wrong in mentoring, spiritual formation, discipling, etc, etc.
And here is the root of the deception. You assume that so long as you are doing all these things, you cannot be behaving in an abusive manner. This is not true.
He can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Mudfrog's concern is more with those posts on this thread that appear to be saying that doing those things at all is abusive. That's certainly the inference I've been reacting to in my posts here.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
1) In the OP the abuse was not done unawares. No minister 'ministers' in such a way out of the best of intentions. If we believe he was doing this unaware of his actions, then we are a little bit naive.

We simply don't know. I've met no shortage of people who are blissfully unaware of the moral implications of aspects of their behaviour, and that includes several people in full-time Christian ministry.

quote:
2) What was the abusive 'system' he was making use of?
Again, we don't know the details, but I'd argue that "spiritual directorship" and such, if not properly implemented, is abusive in nature.
quote:
They are using the spiritual ministry as a vehicle for their abuse. An abuse they would want to be engaged in whatever the context - spiritual, sporting, educational, sexual.
The point is
a) the spiritual context makes it worse because the abuser is using a person's core existential, transcendental beliefs.
b) many Christian contexts are hopelessly behind the curve on spotting abusive behaviour because of (i) a constant tendency to spiritualise it (Remember the Nine o'Clock Service?) (ii) a lack of proper governance to deal with it.

quote:
Neither is suspending them by the ankles and beating them until they get it right.
[Roll Eyes] once again, abuse is not necessarily physical. But that aside, it would be spiritual abuse if the abuser, in a position of spiritual authority, told the victim that this punishment was God's way of them becoming sufficiently holy, and that they had to endure it for His sake.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I think Mudfrog's concern is more with those posts on this thread that appear to be saying that doing those things at all is abusive. That's certainly the inference I've been reacting to in my posts here.

Which posts are they?

Oh, and I'm still waiting to hear where in the Bible it talks about exercising authority "over" others.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
There is nothing wrong with teaching the Scripture, nothing wrong with 'teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,' (2 Timothy 3 v 16), nothing wrong in mentoring, spiritual formation, discipling, etc, etc.
And here is the root of the deception. You assume that so long as you are doing all these things, you cannot be behaving in an abusive manner. This is not true.
He can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Mudfrog's concern is more with those posts on this thread that appear to be saying that doing those things at all is abusive. That's certainly the inference I've been reacting to in my posts here.
In the case of the OP the bad practice that has been judged as an abuse of the minister's responsibility is the motivation (which is extremely suspect AKAICS) and the intensity and relentless nature of the formation. Had his two hours a night every night been one hour a week I don't think we'd be having this conversation.

In the case of the young man complaining about his faith school, I don't think there was a moment's abuse.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I think Mudfrog's concern is more with those posts on this thread that appear to be saying that doing those things at all is abusive. That's certainly the inference I've been reacting to in my posts here.

Which posts are they?

Oh, and I'm still waiting to hear where in the Bible it talks about exercising authority "over" others.

quote:
1 Thessalonians 5:12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters,to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you;

quote:
1 Thessalonians 5:12 King James Version (KJV)
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;


 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
In the case of the OP the bad practice that has been judged as an abuse of the minister's responsibility is the motivation

Can you quote the part of the ruling which is based in his motivation?
quote:
Had his two hours a night every night been one hour a week I don't think we'd be having this conversation.
It's a set of factors in which the duration and frequency of the sessions are but a part.

quote:
In the case of the young man complaining about his faith school, I don't think there was a moment's abuse.
I think mr cheesy introduced that in response to your implication that abuse could only happen in Muslim and Jewish schools and certainly not Christian ones.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
AKAICS? [Confused]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
1 Thessalonians 5:12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters,to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you;

quote:
1 Thessalonians 5:12 King James Version (KJV)
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;


See that word?

Having charge of someone means you give an account of what you did with and for them before God, not that you run their lives. I'm not convinced about prostamenous hymon meaning "over" in the sense of "having authority over".
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
AKAICS? [Confused]

Sp: AFAICS
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
1 Thessalonians 5:12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters,to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you;

quote:
1 Thessalonians 5:12 King James Version (KJV)
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;


See that word?

Having charge of someone means you give an account of what you did with and for them before God, not that you run their lives. I'm not convinced about prostamenous hymon meaning "over" in the sense of "having authority over".

I'm no Greek scholar but it does seem that there is an element of authority.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
It's far from obvious to me that "over" here means "exercise authority over" in the military sense of the centurion commanding his men as he wishes.

I think a top-down model of authority is conducive to abuse and I think it's far less present in these kinds of verse than we may assume - look at examples on that page like "presiding over a meeting", "setitng an example", "having a solid track record", even "taking a lead".

Certainly I moved in church circles in which people were forever going on about authority and more often than not about exercising it over other people. So far as I can see the authority Jesus grants us is over evil, not other people.

[ 09. January 2018, 17:02: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
I think we have to consider how we are using the word 'spiritual'.

Most mainstream Christians would consider JWs 'spiritual' but 'spiritually misguided' perhaps.

What makes the OP example one of 'spiritual abuse' is that it happened in a spiritual context - and that would apply if it were a mosque, synagogue, Hindu temple or any other faith context.

I really don't see the problem with acknowledging a spiritual dimension in this case, however misguided the vicar may have been - he may well have thought he was helping to save the lad's soul or stop him from backsliding or whatever it was ...

I don't see any evidence that it was motivated by predatory sexual inclinations of anything of that kind - rather, it seems to be a somewhat over-the-top application of perhaps well-intentioned mentoring and guidance that morphed into something more sinister.

We all of us have to watch ourselves, even in the most anodyne of activities. Heck, back in the day I used to enjoy the attention I received from other members of the congregation for my fervent, Welsh 'hwyl' extemporary prayers - laced with copious biblical references ...

Does that mean that there is something intrinsically wrong with extemporary prayer?

No, but it does mean that I could overdo it at times to draw attention to myself or luxuriate in the sound of my own voice ...

Whether God was as easily impressed is quite a different matter. Hence all the warnings in the Gospels about practising our piety to be seen by men ...

The point is that any spiritual discipline or practice can topple over in unhealthy territory. There's nothing wrong with a good sermon, but an impressive preacher can let this go to their heads.

There's nothing wrong with spiritual mentoring and direction in and of itself but it can easily topple over into darker territory ...

Denying that there is anything 'spiritual' about this particular incident doesn't help.

It's a case of a form of spirituality gone wrong - that's what happened with the Nine O'Clock service - that's what happened with medieval flagellants or Origen castrating himself or those pilgrims in the Philippines who have themselves nailed to crosses at Easter ...
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Yet fathers are very important in their children's spiritual development.

Speaking as both a son and a father (and, God help me, a grandfather) I can only agree with this. But in my experience fathers are valuable as someone to turn to and have as a point of reference. The art of fatherhood is to nurture the child's own sense of responsibility, not impose an iron rule.
That's certainly the case in Western culture, yes. In some other cultures, I understand that far more deference towards the father's will is expected. Whether that makes their young men less responsible is a good question.

Re this vicar, I'm concerned that the mother and the congregation allowed this oppressive situation to go on for 18 months. It suggests that this church wasn't an empowering environment for the laity. The authoritarianism presumably created the kind of environment where people were afraid to question certain things, or leaders.

I wonder if the church has taken a different direction since this came out.

[ 09. January 2018, 17:35: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]
 
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
 
I've the same concern Svitlana. For this man to have moved into the family home of a member of his congregation should have rung alarm bells with someone in the congregation - and I wonder whether local clergy were aware of what was going on: Rural Dean, Archdeacon, etc?

The mother's comments about not wanting to upset God if she intervened (or something along those lines) smacks of a priest who has been mis-using his position on a wider scale than just with this one family. If I were the diocesan bishop I'd be sending in a full-time experienced priest to take over the parish for an extended period to assess the situation and get the parish back on the right track.
 
Posted by Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
Christianity Today, has a very helpful article that includes a definition:

quote:
“ The term ‘spiritual abuse’ covers a wide variety of behaviours, but can be summarised as the use of spiritual authority or spiritual means in order to demean, manipulate, control or exploit someone.
If you accept that, then the Minister is guilty as charged. So are the teachers in the schools referenced in Mr Cheesy’s links. All the hallmarks are there - authoritarian leadership, a preoccupation with an image of righteousness / infallibility, suppression of criticism and alternative views, perfectionism and an emphasis on particular doctrinal / behavioural issues.

It happens at all levels of the church – leaders and congregation members. Personal experience shows that Christians are crap at dealing with it. We don’t like conflict so we dodge it by over-spiritualising issues like bullying. Forgiveness gets confused with letting people get away with complete and utter nonsense. Things get explained away because someone is so gifted in the Lord or seen as something that goes with the job. (Bitter. Moi?!)

All I can say, having read the stuff, is well done that curate! If they hadn’t been willing to report, this situation would probably still be going on. I’d imagine the congregation had been well and truly bullied into submission by the time he arrived.

This presentation (PDF) goes into how spiritual abuse can manifest itself within the various Christian tribes, looks at church policies and vulnerable groups. The section on the treatment of LBGT is particularly damning.

Spiritual abuse has the same effect as all other kinds of abuse – reducing people’s sense of self-worth etc. With an added bonus of, potentially, loss of faith. It should be taken a lot more seriously within the church than it is. The presentation’s conclusion that it is likely to be the next big scandal could be bang on the money. Based on this thread, the church isn’t likely to do itself any favours by its response.
 
Posted by Moo (# 107) on :
 
There is a book, Ungodly Fear, which deals with many forms of spiritual abuse in the church. It was published around 2000, and the ship had a special board to discuss it.

Posters told how they had been exploited. There are two cases I specifically remember. One told of a church that not only insisted on tithing, but had its members show their payslips to prove their income. The other was a woman who was raped by a priest and told that it was her Christian duty to forgive. AFAIK nothing was done to the priest.

Unfortunately, the Ungodly Fear board is no longer accessible.

Moo
 
Posted by Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
There is a book, Ungodly Fear, which deals with many forms of spiritual abuse in the church. It was published around 2000, and the ship had a special board to discuss it.

Posters told how they had been exploited. There are two cases I specifically remember. One told of a church that not only insisted on tithing, but had its members show their payslips to prove their income. The other was a woman who was raped by a priest and told that it was her Christian duty to forgive. AFAIK nothing was done to the priest.

Unfortunately, the Ungodly Fear board is no longer accessible.

Moo

Lent my copy to a friend and never got it back. [Frown]

It was, IIRC, one of the first books on the subject to be published in the UK and had interviews with victims etc. The book and the board were so helpful. It was comforting to learn I wasn't the only one but my experience was mild compared to some of the posters. Some of the stories were horrific.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I've got The subtle power of spiritual abuse (1991) somewhere. Also very helpful.
 
Posted by Higgs Bosun (# 16582) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
This presentation (PDF) goes into how spiritual abuse can manifest itself within the various Christian tribes, looks at church policies and vulnerable groups. The section on the treatment of LBGT is particularly damning.

Having had a quick look at it, one needs to take it with a fairly big pinch of salt. It is actually polemical, not analytical. Not surprising given its author. I guess one would have needed to hear what was said in conjunction with the presentation to have a fairer view.

As an example of my disquiet with the presentation, on page 3, there is a bullet point relating to the CofE safeguarding information: '"Spiritual Abuse" first mentioned in Appendix 2.2!' (exclamation mark original) as if it has been tucked away out of sight, as if it is an afterthought. However, from the excerpts of the original she has highlighted, Appendix 2.2 is where all the different types of abuse are defined, and Spiritual Abuse is the first of the definitions.

Page 14, entitled 'The "Charismatic Leader" model' gives photos and names of various people, including Nicky Gumble of HTB and Steve Chalke of Oasis. Is the presentation claiming that all these people are spiritual abusers? Evidence please. Curiously, the author later on page 39 she quotes from a document, one of whose authors is ... Steve Chalke.

Page 38 is perhaps the most egregious. It is entitled 'Impact of Spiritual Abuse'. It features (alarming!) statistics on mental health among LGBT young people and gay men. However, these statistics are from surveys conducted by a gay magazine and by a LGBT charity. I doubt very much if these surveys were carried out among people with a church connection. So, these numbers bear little or no connection at all with spiritual abuse.

There is also a picture on the page of a young woman who committed suicide. From what I have been able to tell from this sad story there is no evidence at all for spiritual abuse. The church which see attended avoided talking about the issue.

Abuse as generally understood is essentially personal, by the abuser to the abused. This presentation is an attempt to shift the definition from this to the point where it is deemed abuse to express any view (perhaps from a position of authority) which might have a negative affect on some people. To be more specific, I suspect that the author would like to suppress the expression of views contrary to her own on the grounds that they are 'spiritually abusive'.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
That was my take from a quick glance, too. The beginning looked good but it tailed of badly after that.

[ 10. January 2018, 15:17: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Higgs Bosun:
quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
This presentation (PDF) goes into how spiritual abuse can manifest itself within the various Christian tribes, looks at church policies and vulnerable groups. The section on the treatment of LBGT is particularly damning.

Having had a quick look at it, one needs to take it with a fairly big pinch of salt. It is actually polemical, not analytical. Not surprising given its author. I guess one would have needed to hear what was said in conjunction with the presentation to have a fairer view.

As an example of my disquiet with the presentation, on page 3, there is a bullet point relating to the CofE safeguarding information: '"Spiritual Abuse" first mentioned in Appendix 2.2!' (exclamation mark original) as if it has been tucked away out of sight, as if it is an afterthought. However, from the excerpts of the original she has highlighted, Appendix 2.2 is where all the different types of abuse are defined, and Spiritual Abuse is the first of the definitions.

Page 14, entitled 'The "Charismatic Leader" model' gives photos and names of various people, including Nicky Gumble of HTB and Steve Chalke of Oasis. Is the presentation claiming that all these people are spiritual abusers? Evidence please. Curiously, the author later on page 39 she quotes from a document, one of whose authors is ... Steve Chalke.

Page 38 is perhaps the most egregious. It is entitled 'Impact of Spiritual Abuse'. It features (alarming!) statistics on mental health among LGBT young people and gay men. However, these statistics are from surveys conducted by a gay magazine and by a LGBT charity. I doubt very much if these surveys were carried out among people with a church connection. So, these numbers bear little or no connection at all with spiritual abuse.

There is also a picture on the page of a young woman who committed suicide. From what I have been able to tell from this sad story there is no evidence at all for spiritual abuse. The church which see attended avoided talking about the issue.

Abuse as generally understood is essentially personal, by the abuser to the abused. This presentation is an attempt to shift the definition from this to the point where it is deemed abuse to express any view (perhaps from a position of authority) which might have a negative affect on some people. To be more specific, I suspect that the author would like to suppress the expression of views contrary to her own on the grounds that they are 'spiritually abusive'.

In this context it would have to be polemical because of reactions like this. The point the writer is attempting to make is that spiritual abuse isn’t highlighted as an issue in its own right up-front in documents aimed at faith communities; it’s buried towards the back. Despite the fact that spiritual abuse is most likely to occur in a faith community.

Most people don’t read appendices. They read the executive summary and the sections of the report they think are most relevant to them. Then they file it.

The section on tribes would explain what they are, with examples of leaders that you’re likely to have heard of to reinforce the point. I didn’t get the idea from it that they were accusing the likes of Chalke or Gumbel of abuse. Just that they were leaders in that community. (Although describing Chalke as a Charismatic might be considered a stretch).

If you’re a young person who’s struggling with their sexuality who’s told that being gay is sinful and you’ll end up burning in hell for all eternity that might well lead to the kind of mental health issues identified in the presentation. I’m not sure what the UK stats are but the equivalent US ones – which are church based – are hideous. And utterly shameful for a community that sings about wanting the world to know us by our love. (But including a picture of an individual was wrong IMO).

Abuse is personal. From abuser to abused. It’s also has a cultural context. Within Christian culture, some things make it easier to pass unchallenged.

It’s perfectly possible to express views, have strong opinions and challenge behaviours when in a position of spiritual authority without being spiritually abusive. The contention that it isn’t is or prevents us preaching the Gospel properly is rubbish.

[ 10. January 2018, 15:38: Message edited by: Tubbs ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Higgs Bosun:

Abuse as generally understood is essentially personal, by the abuser to the abused.

No, no it isn't. Institutions can be abusive, both directly and indirectly.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I think the real problem with your link, Tubbs, is that we don't have the context - often a problem when you just have the slides and not the talk.

There's certainly potential for minorities to suffer abuse of all kinds and spiritual abuse of LBGTQ people is not hard to find. But it would be a mistake to assume that all abuse is directed at minorities and that it is denomination-specific.

Certainly charismatic churches are prone to it, but I think it's a separate issue to the emotional manipulation the presentation deals with.
 
Posted by Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I think the real problem with your link, Tubbs, is that we don't have the context - often a problem when you just have the slides and not the talk.

There's certainly potential for minorities to suffer abuse of all kinds and spiritual abuse of LBGTQ people is not hard to find. But it would be a mistake to assume that all abuse is directed at minorities and that it is denomination-specific.

Certainly charismatic churches are prone to it, but I think it's a separate issue to the emotional manipulation the presentation deals with.

True. And it assumes that only people in positions of authority are abusers which isn't always the case.
 
Posted by Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Higgs Bosun:

Abuse as generally understood is essentially personal, by the abuser to the abused.

No, no it isn't. Institutions can be abusive, both directly and indirectly.
This
statement from the Salvation Army in New Zealand is very thoughtful. The Power in the Church worksheet at the bottom is well worth a look.

Spiritual abuse is, like all forms of abuse, about the incorrect use of power. With the abuser using their position in the church or the Bible's teachings to justify their behaviour, avoid being held to account and making the abused person into the problem. With the bonus of being able to claim divine support. Them being the Lord's anointed, doing His work and all that. Standing up for yourself really can feel like challenging God.
 
Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
 
The Church Times reports on a survey which says that 2 in 5 Christians reported direct experience of spiritual abuse. An interestingly high statistic, whatever the term means.
 
Posted by Gramps49 (# 16378) on :
 
Now here is an example of spiritual abuse a friend related on facebook:

quote:
How to react to a pastor who took several hours getting showered, shaven and dressed before coming in to be with a family with a relative dying in the ICU. I was the chaplain, who happened be on call and came in without taking all that time since it was an urgent call. He asked the family if the dying relative had accepted Jesus Christ as his savior; they responded that they did not know. He then asked the family why they called him into the hospital since there was nothing he could do - the relative was going to hell and since he was in a coma could not accept Jesus. Later he asked me whatwas he supposed to do, and I suggested he could minister to the family in a caring way.

And they wonder why people are getting turned off to the church.
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
There will always be demand for the comforts of fascism.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Now here is an example of spiritual abuse a friend related on facebook:

quote:
How to react to a pastor who took several hours getting showered, shaven and dressed before coming in to be with a family with a relative dying in the ICU. I was the chaplain, who happened be on call and came in without taking all that time since it was an urgent call. He asked the family if the dying relative had accepted Jesus Christ as his savior; they responded that they did not know. He then asked the family why they called him into the hospital since there was nothing he could do - the relative was going to hell and since he was in a coma could not accept Jesus. Later he asked me whatwas he supposed to do, and I suggested he could minister to the family in a caring way.

And they wonder why people are getting turned off to the church.
Sounds as if the minister has mental health issues himself.
 


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