Lessons from The Hunger Games 5A – Dystopian Dynamics, Totalitarian Tactics, and Lifton’s Criteria for Identifying “Cults”

5. How Do We Discern Dystopian Dynamics and Totalitarian Tactics? POST SUMMARY: This post introduces and overviews Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria for totalitarian thought reform (“brainwashing”…

Source: Lessons from The Hunger Games 5A – Dystopian Dynamics, Totalitarian Tactics, and Lifton’s Criteria for Identifying “Cults”

What I Wasn’t Told About Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s Membership Covenant And How If They’d Told Me The Truth I Would Have NEVER Become A Member

"Bully" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

©by Velour/Mtn Shepherdess

“As Stephen Arteburn and Jack Felton [authors of Toxic Faith] remind us, it is often the case that ‘anyone who rebels against the system must be personally attacked so people will think the problem is the person, not the system.” Ronald Enroth, Recovering from Churches That Abuse (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 153.


[Note: This book and Dr. Enroth’s other book Churches That Abuse are available for FREE online. I recommend them. http://www.reveal.org/development/Churches_that_Abuse.pdf]

Here are the things that the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders NEVER told me about GBFSV, critical pieces of information that they withheld and that would have made me NOT become a church member.

They recently sent out a July 2016 email to several hundred church members saying that I was unstable, had harassed church members. I haven’t done any of it. (A friend who is a Stanford educated psychiatrist said that I’m perfectly sane and the uneducated, abusive GBFSV pastors/elders don’t know what they’re talking about. Of course they’re going to attack me. He was sickened they’d excommunicated a godly Los Altos, CA doctor in his 70’s, lied about him. Done similar to a woman in finance before him. Everyone has accused the GBFSV pastors/elders of lying about them.)  The GBFSV pastors/elders  Cliff McManis, Sam Kim, Tim Wong, Bob Douglas and others are pathological liars, as scores of ex-church members have accused them of.  Filing a false police report – orally or in writing – is a crime in California as well. [Cliff McManis wrote 100% lies in his July 2016 email about me. He said I was ‘aggressively harassing’ church members. I hadn’t contacted anyone and he and the rest of the pastors/elders are PATHOLOGICAL LIARS. Their accusations are crimes in California that they can be arrested for, prosecuted, and end up in Santa Clara County jail.]

I was never told…

  1. Fake Degrees. I was never told that senior pastor Cliff McManis’ “advanced degrees” including the claim to a “Ph.D.” weren’t true and his advanced degrees are fakes from a Missouri “diploma mill” called Faith Bible College. A Ph.D. is $299. The diploma mill isn’t accredited according to the U.S. Department of Education. Its one and only“accrediting agency” was brought up on fraud charges by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and banned from doing business in Missouri. The fraudulent business moved to nearby Arkansas, renamed themselves, and “accredited” the fake diploma mills in Missouri. A real Ph.D., from an accredited university, takes eight years of hard work to earn.
  2. “Biblical Counseling.” I was never told that Cliff McManis, Sam Kim (Chairman of the Elder Board), Tim Wong (elder), Bob Douglas (associate pastor/elder) had NO education and training in serious medical problems and topics and passed themselves off as “Biblical Counselors”. They gave dumb and dangerous advice. They didn’t get a woman alcoholic to a physician to supervise her medical care. Instead they WASTED more than six months of my life in meetings about “gossip” and “unity”. They wasted the time of other church members, even making some of them apologize to her for the problems she caused. It’s not possible to have “unity” with an untreated substance abuser. We didn’t cause her problems, we can’t control her problems, and we can’t cure her problems.  The GBFSV pastors/elders encourage codependency.

The GBFSV pastors/elders blamed me for the genetically inherited brain disorder and memory problems of a church member who has Dyslexia. She was medically diagnosed with this as a young person, failed school because of it growing up, can’t work because of it, was medically diagnosed with this disability to receive a monthly disability check (she’s been getting them for more than thirty years) from the Social Security Administration. She refuses to get medical care for her memory problems – short-term memory problems, working memory problems, and auditory memory problems. She says Jesus could cure her if He wanted to. She spends her days watching tv, discount shopping, and eating out and drinking coffee. There are disability services at her local community college. Plenty of Dyslexics use them to obtain an education. Not her. She won’t do anything about her problems.

According to the GBFSV pastors/elders, I was required to “explain” myself for her memory problems. According to them her brain wiring problems are my “sin” problem. Oh no they are not.

I turned them in to the California Medical Board.


  1. Membership Covenants…A Tool Of Authoritarian Control

I was never told that the Membership Covenant they insisted we sign wasn’t Biblical and was a tool of Authoritarian control by the pastors/elders over our lives. Jesus had people sign how many pages to follow Him? Biblically correct answer: 0 pages.





One man, Jack, wrote this on The Wartburg Watch:

“Just went to the website of this church [Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley]. The membership contract is a vague rip from Purpose Driven Life but the bylaws are the meat & potatoes!

            In short, this corporation has no members. Members abrogate their rights upon signing the contract.

            Just reading the bylaws lights up every warning alarm on the TWW [The Wartburg Watch] checklist of what to look for in an abusive church. http://www.gbfsv.org/by-laws

            No doubt new attendees are love bombed before they read the fine print.

            You should write this up as a case study of churches to stay away from.

            It would be interesting to know how you became involved.”

Another man Bill wrote this on The Wartburg Watch:

“Bill M:

“BTW, I looked over the website of your former church [Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley], their resources page reads as a veritable who’s who of nefarious organizations discussed here. I also note that least half the elders are staff, this inverts the accountability and put way too much power in the hands of the pastor. The preface of their statement of faith gives me the shivers and don’t get me started on their membership covenant.”

  1. Chauvinism.

            I wasn’t told that senior pastor Cliff McManis with his diploma mill Ph.D. from an “unaccredited” college according to the U.S. Department of Education and the Missouri Attorney General and not eight years of rigorous study like bona fide Ph.D. programs, espouses that women are to “obey” and “submit”. Even conservative Christians who believe that women and men are different, and Complement each other in marriage and have marriages like this, have said that Cliff McManis adores talking about people ‘obeying’ and ‘submitting’ and it’s NOT Biblical and is offensive even to conservative Christians.

They all called it what it is. Chauvinism.

  1. Hate Speech.

            I wasn’t told in advance that the GBFSV pastors/elders and many church members buff and shine their petty hatreds, including toward gays.

I was supposed to be “friends” with such hateful, low-class, trashy people. Just awful. The Bible forbids trash talk.

I work a job in the real world in which this unlawful conduct can get me fired. I have gay colleagues and a gay supervisor. They all do their jobs and we get along just fine. The people at GBFSV need to GROW UP!

I was supposed to be friends with women who espouse hate speech. No thanks. I take the mental “magic marker” and cross you off the “friendship list”. You’re old enough to know better and you aren’t friendship material.

They are so low-class they will boycott family events in which a gay relative is present. Just low-class. Learn some manners. Bring a side dish, be quiet, mind your manners, socialize, and quit being so incredibly selfish.  The rest of us work and live in the real world and we get along with diverse people. Your childishness isn’t something you should wear with pride. It’s frankly despicable.

Cliff McManis also asked us in Adult Sunday School if God could kill gays. I was the first to respond and said that God could kill any of us. McManis corrected me before everyone and said that God could kill gays.  He smiled.

What a bizarre person. The Christian walk has come down to this? Wishing people dead? There are how many needs…women, children, the disabled, families, and we are called to do something…and your Christian walk is about wishing people dead? Oh. My.God. Despicable!!!

  1. Personal Privacy.

            The GBFSV pastors/elders and many church members lack an iota of good manners. I was ordered into meetings to divulge my personal privacy.

The woman church member who is Dyslexic, who doesn’t do anything about her own life, demanded my private business and that of my family’s.  We were all offended. She said we “didn’t trust [her]” when I said I didn’t discuss my private business. She threw temper tantrums with me.  I stood my ground. Before I knew it, I was ordered in to elders’ meetings to “explain myself.”

My family and I don’t OWE any of you ANY explanations. Grow up, get some manners, get some boundaries, and QUIT behaving like low-class trash.

You are each old enough to know better and there is NO EXCUSE for your appalling lack of good manners and boundaries.  Apologize to all of the people for your low-class trash behavior.

  1. Divorce Doesn’t Exist Because GBF Members “Say So”

            The woman Dyslexic picks fights with people in record time. She tells people who are divorced that they aren’t “really divorced” and that they have to call their ex-spouse their current spouse. I have watched her destroy social events quite quickly with her galling rudeness. She has been criticized by Christians on blogs across the nation for her bizarreness .

According to her, the California legislature, California’s laws, and the California courts don’t exist because “she says so”.

I’m terrible at crafts. If I knew how to fold a tinfoil hat, I’d fold her one.

I work in law. I’m offended she’d say my profession doesn’t exist. What a bizarre person.

What a bizarre person to think it’s her right to interfere in other peoples’ personal business. She should work on her Codependency issues and her being the Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

  1. Can’t Have Your Own Belongings, Including Birthday Gifts, Because The GBFers ‘Said So’

One of the GBFSV judgmental haters, a former Catholic, criticized me for having an Italian cross on my living room wall. I got more than criticized…I got an entire speech about false idols and that I shouldn’t have it.

I asked senior pastor Cliff McManis how to deal with this woman whom he’d known for years and her bizarre behavior about the Italian cross.  He took her side and said I shouldn’t have it. Under much pressure from him, I got rid of it. It was my birthday gift. I’d had it for years. I’d always loved it. It was beautiful art work. I wish I’d walked out of the hateful Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley then.

I never went to Cliff McManis’ home or the woman hater’s home and told them to line up and get rid of their expensive birthday gifts because I didn’t like them. These people are low-class and tacky to the core.

They’ve never paid me back, never ordered a replacement all of the way from Italy.

  1. Young Earth

             I was never told that uneducated fools at GBFSV would insist that the earth is only 6,000 years old. My grandmother, a Presbyterian, with a science degree from a top university died at 102 years of age. She and her friends worked on the teams of Nobel Prize-winning researchers at the university.

They knew that the earth was old, very, very, very old, and they were also all Christians. They aren’t mutually exclusive. At GBFSV they are. They pride themselves on being uneducated and make secondary issues primary issues.

  1. Church Discipline

I was told when I joined that this was “to help” us. I thought it would be applied to the big things – like extramarital affairs and what the Apostle Paul did in the Bible. I wasn’t told that at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley that only  people who used critical thinking skills were subjected to “Church Discipline” (i.e. Thought Reform techniques https://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php ). We were hauled in to meetings and threatened. Called at home and threatened.

The pastors/elders and their favorite friends were exempt from Church Discipline.

It was capricious and abusive.

Jeff T. on The Wartburg Watch made this insightful comment about “Church Discipline”.

           “Matthew 18

“God I’m sick of hearing this from fascist church leaders. They NEVER use it to engage in a Spirit-filled discussion of resolving differences. It’s ALWAYS used as an instrument of oppression. Whenever someone in their church raises an issue they don’t want discussed, they stand up and shout “Matthew 18!, Matthew 18!”, the person raising the issue is then hustled off to a backroom and subjected to a process worthy of a Chinese Communist reeducation camp. They are told they are wrong, not on the basis of anything having to do with the issue itself, but because they are refusing to submit to authority, they are being divisive, ergo they are sinners and must repent and if they don’t, they are subjected to “church discipline”, meaning they are shunned and harassed.”

  1. Megan’s List Sex Offender

             The GBFSV pastors/elders gave their friend a Megan’s List sex offender church membership, a leadership position over a team, and access to all church events in which children are present.

He is sexually attracted to children and was convicted of child pornography.

The GBFSV pastors/elders said that because he said a few words about Jesus he can have access to children. The GBFSV pastors/elders have been criticized by sex crimes experts around the world for how irresponsible they are.

The GBFSV pastors/elders said their friend was ‘coming off Megan’s List’. The California Attorney General called that story ‘all lies’ and ‘total lies.’ As of today’s date he’s still on California’s Megan’s List of sex offenders and he has never come off the list in the two years since the GBF pastors/elders threatened me for discovering him, assured me it would all be ok. [Note: Getting off Megan’s List in California requires a pardon by the governor or a judge signing a special paper saying a sex offender is rehabilitated. It is virtually impossible. The list exists for a reason. Most sex offenders convicted and imprisoned for child porn, according to the research by the F.B.I. and the District Attorneys’ Association of the U.S., have gotten away with on-contact sexual abuse of children and admitted to it in prison research studies.]

Dr. Anna Salter, Harvard University educated, expert on sex offenders, author of Predators, interviewed on Tier Talk, a program for the corrections/prison industry.

Ditto for the Santa Clara County Sheriff, the Megan’s List sex offender’s supervising law enforcement agency, who said same about the GBFSV pastors/elders as the California Attorney General: The Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s pastors/elders story is “all lies” and “total lies” and this sex offender is NOT coming off Megan’s List.

The Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders – irresponsible – don’t do due diligence with a sex offender’s supervising law enforcement agency!  However, discerning Christians wanting to leave this heavy-Shepherding church are required to have an “exit interview” with two pastors/elders. In a healthy church, that should be the opposite: Felons should be vetted and Christians wanting to leave should be free to go, no questions asked.

I discovered the sex offender on Megan’s List while doing a separate project for a former Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office sex crimes prosecutor.

The GBFSV pastors/elders had me in a meeting for my finding, threatened me, said that ‘child porn’ wasn’t a big deal (it’s apparently ok then that children are subjected to felony sex crimes such as rape, sodomy, oral copulation?). The GBFSV pastors/elders aren’t just sick but sickening.

Federal law:



Reporting Child Porn:


Chairman of the Elder Board Sam Kim opened up his Bible to a pre-marked place and told me that I was destined for Hell and not one of us, for discussing child safety! What a jerk.

Sam Kim called me at home and told me I was to never contact law enforcement about the sex offender, tell them the name of the church, or the pastors/elders’ names. That I was to ‘obey’ and ‘to submit’ to my elders in all things. That’s a crime in California. I turned them in!

While this is from a Los Angeles, California, criminal defense firm, they do a good job of explaining California law. They are defense attorneys and so may minimize some legal points that prosecutors will not.





He’s been criticized across the nation and around the world, along with Cliff McManis, Tim Wong, and Bob Douglas who were there. Withering criticism of each one of them.

  1. Congregational Vote.

             We’re a priesthood of believers but can’t run our own church because the GBFSV pastors/elders say so. The Holy Spirit is hobbled from functioning at GBFSV.

Your money is wanted; you’re not. So much for being “Biblical.” Note: If you aren’t respected, slam your wallet shut and don’t give anything. Ditto for your time.

The Holy Spirit has equipped us but that doesn’t work for the authoritarian Cliff McManis and his yes-men.

  1. Women Are To Commit Criminal Acts Because The GBFSV Pastors/Elders ‘Said So’

             The GBFSV pastors/elders, headed by Cliff McManis, told me in the meeting about sex offenders that mothers can’t protect their children and fathers have authority over their family.

That’s not California law. Mothers can be arrested and prosecuted for child endangerment. The Santa Clara County District Attorney can prosecute mothers at GBFSV for their failure to abide by California law. A mother can end up in jail or state prison and Child Protective Services can take away her children. (Other district attorneys can prosecute parents from GBF in other counties where those parents live, if not in Santa Clara County, California.)


            For ordering women/mothers to commit criminal acts the GBFSV pastors/elders can be arrested and prosecuted for charges such as: Obstruction of Justice, Child Endangerment, Aiding and Abetting (with a criminal act), Accessory After The Fact (covering up a criminal act), and not fulfilling their legal duties as Mandated Child Abuse Reporters in California, to name some of the criminal charges – but not all – they can face.

A guardian ad litem could be appointed to sue them civilly on behalf of any child that they endangered and to get damages.

  1. Lying, Excommunication and Shunning

             The GBFSV pastors/elders lie about church members before everyone and demand that no one ever talk to that person again. It’s all lies and scores of ex-members accuse them of lying.

What version of the Bible do you suppose they have where the fruit of the spirit is…lying? Thugs.

  1. Banned from Church Property

             According to Sam Kim, Chairman of the Elder Board, the pastors/elders threaten you and if you have a problem with it, you apologize to them.

If Mr. Kim told you that you were “destined for Hell” for discussing child safety and you owed him an apology and the rest of them…how WOULD YOU RESPOND?

This is cultic behavior. This isn’t anywhere near normal.

I don’t owe low-class trash pastors/elders, who lie, an apology. I am neither a doormat with the word “Welcome” written on me nor wall-to-wall carpeting. Too bad, boys.

The bizarre conduct of the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders is being discussed around the world. And no, it’s not “slander”.  You reap what you sow is what it is called.

  1. 9 Marks.

GBF is affiliated with it. It’s the cultic, heavy-Shepherding Movement all over again. A whole bunch of “marks” of a [un] Healthy Church. There is ONLY one Biblical mark of a healthy church – Love. Critics of Mark Dever/9 Marks pointed out that the Bible’s criteria for a healthy church never made it to the list.

Comment from Todd Wilhelm on The Wartburg Watch on May 17, 2016:

“I think it was Brad the futurist guy that recommended a book to me titled “The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Ecclesiology” by S. David Moore.

I am currently reading the book and the similarity between 9Marx and the Shepherding movement is eerie. It is almost as if Dever has lifted all the Shepherding concepts and repackaged them for our day.”

  1. Council on Biblical Manhood Womanhood

GBFSV espouses this. More heresy. Nothing to do with The Gospel. A semi-Arian heresy about Jesus being subordinate. That is a lie.

Another heresy that women are a derivative image of God. That’s a lie. Genesis says that God made women in His image.

  1. Newcomers Not Welcome: Not Membership Covenant, No Sunday Worship

The GBFSV pastors/elders demand authoritarian control over members’ lives. They’ve taken the place of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in members’ lives.

It was embarrassing to go to such a low-class church where they said from the pulpit that they didn’t know you were one of theirs and you couldn’t attend church if you didn’t sign a Membership Covenant. Rude, rude, rude!

My cheeks would blush in embarrassment. The GBFSV pastors/elders are proud of their low-class trash behavior.  They are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Telling Christians not to come to church.

Outraged attenders got up and walked out mid-service. Good for them!!!

Nick Bulbeck’s comment on The Wartburg Watch:

“But I came across a great quote on someone’s blog a few years ago. I’ve not been able to find it since, otherwise I’d attribute it, but the best I can do is say that I didn’t come up with this. It goes, as near as I can remember it, thus:

Where law is paramount, rules matter more than people; and Christians will hurt people in order to obey the rules. But where love is paramount, people matter more than rules; and Christians will break the rules in order to protect people.”

  1. Obey and Submit to Your Elders

 Max ‘s comment on The Wartburg Watch: “Touch not my anointed” is not applicable in such cases, so let the rebuke fly! I don’t sense much, if any, anointing in New Calvinist ranks (their leaders are more annoying, than anointed).”

  1. Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley is an abusive church with abusive teachings. Close your wallet. Don’t give them a dime. They don’t respect you. All they want is your money. Go to a healthier place. Don’t give them your time.

I was never told…church would be this bad. I was never told that pastors/elders…would be this bad.

Max, on Wartburg Watch, posted this comment:

“This is actually quite common in New Calvinist churches, particularly church plants. Here’s the usual cycle based on observations in my area: (1) a young reformer rolls into town with church planting seed money from a parent church or denominational support, (2) someone in the community is approached to serve as the host for a home meeting to discuss the church plant (usually someone who is disgruntled from doing traditional church or who has noble aspirations to start a new work to reach the unchurched), (3) the host invites his friends and others from the community to a “Bible study” (= core group), (4) the group grows as the young reformer passionately talks about hills he would die on and a message that sort of sounds like the gospel, (5) after a few months, the group out-grows the host home and they look for a store-front to rent, school gym, off-hour meeting at another church (most commonly in yuppie areas), (6) the young reformer recruits a cool band and singers, (7) free coffee/donuts and the cool music begin to draw a larger and younger crowd, (8) the flock keeps growing (mostly 20s-40s), (9) the young reformer selects like-minded elders (young ones), (10) the original host of the core group gradually becomes less important to the young reformer – he gets wise to the scheme and leaves, (11) other core group members begin to feel left out as they become distanced from the cool pastor while others take their place as the new core – they, too, begin to see the deception and exit, (12) the old core group members are shunned in the community.
All sounds like God, doesn’t it.”


1.GBFSV pastors/elders: Refund my money  — all of it that I gave to GBFSV over the years. Pay me back for my Italian cross too, my birthday gift.

2.Refund the monies of the the Los Altos, CA doctor (Dr. Luke, not his real name) in his 70’s that you ordered to be excommunicated and shunned. He and his wife accuse the GBFSV pastors/elders of lying about them. Mrs. Luke always disliked GBFSV, you as the pastors/elders, thought there was something wrong with Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, and told her husband they shouldn’t go to church there. (Scores of ex-members, many of them quite conservative, have the same complaints about all of you. And they’re spot on complaints.)

In the big excommunication/shunning meeting of Dr. Luke (not his real name)…you failed to tell us Cliff McManis what Mrs. Luke really thought! Lies of omission, pal. Lies of omission.

Cliff McManis, pay Dr. Luke back for that nice trip he invited and paid for you to go on with Dr. Luke and Pastor John MacArthur, the one to North Carolina to visit the Rev. Billy Graham in person at his log cabin home.

Pay Dr. Luke back too for all of the resources he bought and paid for in the GBF lending library, books and DVDs.

You were horrible to that good and godly Christian man.

3. Refund “Colleen’s” (not her real name) money too. You treated her horribly too and she said you lied about her before everyone and accused her of not being in submission to her husband. She’s middle-aged, works in finance, volunteers with the mentally ill in group homes and with the elderly in convalescent hospitals and carries The Gospel to these people. She fled for a saner church and you made her pay for it. Despicable of you, GBFSV pastors/elders.

Apologize for lying about all of us. Threatening us. False teachings. Abusive teachings. Spiritual Abuse. Authoritarianism. Repent.

Additionally, don’t tell anyone about The Gospel. None of you – who lie, threaten, excommunicate and shun, none of you who ratify this abusive conduct – have ANYTHING to tell anyone about God. You’re not right with God yourselves. You have NOTHING to tell anyone and so don’t. You don’t “walk the talk”. Take your Bibles and toss them in the trash. They’re meaningless to you.

And NO, GBFSV pastors/elders — this ISN’T “Slander”. It’s called reaping what you sow.That’s why you’re being discussed across the nation and around the world. On blogs, on a radio program, among sex crimes experts, among spiritual abuse communities. There is something seriously wrong with each of you. Repent. 


Our position on divorce – by A Cry for Justice blog

We believe that marriage is a covenant, the terms of which are the vows. Habitual, unrepentant, violation of those vows destroys the covenant and entitles the wronged spouse to divorce, though does…

Source: Our position on divorce

Praise From Across The U.S. About Blog Dealing With Spiritual Abuse At Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley

by Velour/MtnShepherdess

"Mutton & Muscle Gym" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“When Sheep Fight Back”. Cartoon by David Hayward/The Naked Pastor. ©


I was contacted today through social media from people across the United States who have found the new blog I have started about my former church, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, and its spiritual abuse. My ex-pastor was a graduate of John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary in Southern California. I liken it to a franchisee training ground, like a 7-11, where graduates learn to open up their own franchise of the JMac “brand”.

I learned from several writers/radio talk show hosts who have been in JMac churches that these abuses that I was subjected to at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, that I watched others be subjected to (godly men and women), and many others saw the ‘warning signs’ and the ‘writing on the wall’ and fled, are common-place in JMac churches with JMac graduates.

People who’ve read the blog hope that others around the world will read it, be strengthened by it. I started it because I will no longer be silent.  What I witnessed, and what I was subjected to by the pastors/elders, was wrong.

Others who’ve been abused at JMac churches have been cowed into silence. Why? Our numbers are growing and the tide is turning. I will not ratify such abuse. Close your wallet, stop giving your money to support this nonsense, walk out the door, and don’t volunteer your time to any of these abusive churches.




My Story of Being Excommunicated and Shunned From Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley


Article by Velour/MtnShepherdess ©

Cartoon courtesy of David Hayward/©NakedPastor.com in Canada



I posted this on another website, before I had my own. Here is my story.

John Macarthur Trained Pastors Ex-Communicate Church Member for Questioning the Presence of a Registered Sex Offender (Convicted Child Pornographer) in Church Leadership 

“Child porn isn’t a big deal,” exclaimed Senior Pastor Cliff McManis, graduate of The Masters College (B.A.), The Masters Seminary (M.Div.), and former Grace Community Church children’s minister.

Note: Below I have copied forum posts written by “Callie.” I can’t verify if the statements made in this post are true or not. I have emailed Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley without receiving a reply–Bob J

The following was posted on March 1, 2016 by Callie on the John Macarthur Cult Watch Forum:
About 8 1/2 years ago I started attending a smaller, new, church plant in my Northern California community, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley. (They normally rent from the Seventh Day Adventists and are currently renting from the SDA’s in Sunnyvale, CA.) I wanted to know and be known by other Christians, not in a mega church where it was anonymous, and grow as a Christian.
A. Naïve, Didn’t Do My Research, Joined Authoritarian, Abusive Church
My wishes in a church were simple and in retrospect naïve. I did not know at that time that I should thoroughly research a church: all links on their website, what they believe, their power structure, Membership Covenants (I will never sign one again as it is a crowbar by church leaders to exert authoritarian control over members’ lives and Jesus required 0 pages to be signed to follow Him!), their teachings, and accountability to a higher structure. Instead I got a spiritually abusive, authoritarian church (like the ones described in Dr. Ron Enroth’s books Churches That Abuse and Recovering From Churches That Abuse, now available for FREE online, an other books and resources about Spiritual Abuse).
B. Membership Covenants. Signed One At This Church And I Will NEVER Sign One Again. Authoritarian Control
I signed the Membership Covenant and became a member of Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley. I was told this was to get us back to Biblical basics that had been lost. The extensive Membership Covenant was filled with Scripture verses.
My warning to others: Don’t sign a Membership Covenant. Jesus didn’t have people sign any papers to follow Him. MC’s are simply used to control people and for leadership to insinuate themselves into your life.
C. Why Were Good Christians Quietly Leaving Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley? 
I started to notice in my first several years of membership that something was wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. Good and godly Christians (families, couples, singles) simply disappeared from GBF never to be seen again. It was very odd. I would ask about them, but was shut down. Several of the families were key families in founding GBFSV. I knew them to be lovely people, Christians, in the Word.
I found out later when I talked to them, when I was no longer a member of GBFSV, that they had left because of the growing authoritarianism and rigid control the pastors/elders expected to exert over members’ lives, complete with being ordered into meetings, phone calls to your home, emails, mandatory lunch/coffee meetings in which they went over your life, and ordering everything about a person’s life (from décor in your home to what you feed your kids to whom you should be friends with).
D. Authoritarianism. Lording It Over The Flock.
The GBFSV pastors/elders claim that they will give an account for members’ souls to God and we must “obey and submit to [our] elders.” Any thought, any question, is challenged back by the elders with, “You are bringing an accusation against an elder without cause.” They are arrogant and puffed up. For all that they criticize the Roman Catholic Church, they are set up exactly like it: With the senior pastor as Pope and the associate pastors/elders as cardinals, complete with “the keys”, excommunication and shunning of any member for any reason.
There is no congregational vote (I will never join a church again or give money where there isn’t a congregational vote with the priesthood of all believers giving their input).
E. Godly Woman Subjected To Church Discipline And Harassment For Leaving GBFSV
The first person to be the subject of a closed door, after Sunday service, “church discipline meeting” was a godly, middle-aged, professional married woman. Senior Pastor Cliff McManis said that they had “worked with her for a very long time and that they were now at Step 3 of the church discipline process.” The church members were told to pursue her because she would not “obey and submit” to her husband. She, harassed by church members, disconnected her cell phone and her email, and moved out of the family home.
She told me when I interviewed her that she thought that there was something terribly wrong with Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, with their teachings, their lack of accountability to any outside church, and she refused to go to that church again and went to another solid denomination with accountability and long track record. She told me that the GBF pastors/elders had screamed at her, including coming to her home and screaming at her.
The GBFSV pastors/elders control the narrative before all church members, telling stories about Christians that aren’t true and maligning peoples’ reputations before all.
The wife refused to come back and the GBFSV pastors/elders had to let her go.
F.  Godly Doctor In His 70s (A Personal Friend Of Pastor John MacArthur’s) Ordered To Be Excommunicated And Shunned  
I knew that GBFSV had really gone “off the rails” when we had another closed door meeting, on the orders of the senior pastor Cliff McManis, and a godly doctor in his 70s was ordered to be excommunicated and shunned. There was no specific charge brought against him. Only that the GBFSV pastors/elders had ‘worked with him for years’ and said to have nothing more to do with him. To shun him. To call him to repent.
Senior Pastor Cliff McManis told us to “pray for [the doctor’s] wife.”
I sat there and thought, “What is the charge against this dear brother in the Lord?” There was nothing. I thought the charges against him were lies.
The doctor is a faithful Christian, loving husband, loving father to grown children. He gave of his time and money to GBFSV. He bought high-quality resources to start the GBFSV lending library (DVDs, books).
The doctor had invited and paid for our senior pastor Cliff McManis to join him, John MacArthur, and a few other men on a trip to North Carolina to meet the Rev. Billy Graham in person at his North Carolina log cabin home. And for all that the doctor did, this was the thanks he got from the GBFSV pastors/elders: to have his name dragged through the mud.
Several other church members secretly taped the excommunication/shunning. Those families also left GBF after that.
The GBFSV pastors/elders will NOT permit grown adults to leave GBF without an exit interview by 2 pastors/elders.
G. My Own Excommunication And Shunning: Threatened By Pastors/Elders For Discovering A Megan’s List Sex Offender At Church
I was doing a legal research project for a former sex crimes prosecutor and I was on Megan’s List, California’s registry of sex offenders. I inadvertently discovered that a new GBFSV church member (Cupertino, CA) was a registered sex offender on Megan’s List while doing my research. He’s a convicted child pornographer.
I reported it to the GBFSV pastors/elders. They had me in a meeting where the four of them screamed and yelled at me. They told me that he was their friend, they had visited him in prison, and that they trusted their children with him. The GBF pastors/elders said that mothers had no say over their children and that if a father wanted the sex offender to touch his children that this word was “final” and that his wife was “to obey” and “to submit” to him and “his authority.”
I hit the GBF pastors/elders back with: “Mothers are required by God and by California law to protect their children. If a mother fails to protect her child, and harm comes to her child, she can be arrested and prosecuted and land in state prison. Child Protective Services can take away her child(ren). She is NOT off the hook of legal responsibility by blaming her husband and that she said that the decisions were his. Mothers land in state prison all of the time for this.”
The GBF pastors/elders said the sex offender was “coming off Megan’s List.” They put him in a position of leadership and trust, something that experts around the world who specialize in sex crimes have criticized the GBFSV pastors/elders for and said that should never be done.
The sex offender’s supervising law enforcement agency, Sheriff’s sex offenders’ task force, called the pastors/stories “all lies” and “total lies”. The Sheriff was so alarmed they contacted the California Attorney General which confirmed the story was “all lies” and “total lies.”
The GBFSV pastors/elders called me at home and told me to never contact law enforcement again, that I was to obey and to submit to my elders, and that I was to never reveal their names to law enforcement, the name of the church, or contact law enforcement about the sex offender. That is a felony called obstruction of justice. Also intimidating a witness.
The GBFSV pastors/elders read me a Scripture at the end of our meeting about child safety that I was destined for Hell and I “was not one of us.”
They gave me a threat that they intended to make good on and they did.
[Editor’s Note: In a subsequent forum post, Callie stated that it was during this elders’ meeting that Senior Pastor Cliff McManis told her that “child porn wasn’t a big deal.” (Link)
H. Insufferable Control Of My Life
The GBF pastors/elders have ordered members to be friends with other highly troubled church members  who are verbally abusive and bizarre. Those people are their own friends.
We were all cordial with them but kept them at a distance because of how bizarre they were and how incredibly verbally abusive they were to men and women alike, with no adult, healthy boundaries.
I was ordered into meetings about that. People that want your personal business, which is none of theirs, and want you to rid of your own belongings in your home (I had a cross from Italy that was a birthday gift from years ago, hundreds of dollars) that I was told I had to get rid of.
These people are bizarre. They are classless and tacky. They really shouldn’t leave their homes until they grow up. Imagine being told to get rid of your own possessions in your own home? I wish I had left then!
I. Biblical Counseling/Nouthetic Counseling Should Be Called What It Is: Malpractice
The GBFSV pastors/elders, like John MacArthur, tout “Biblical Counseling”. What this means is that they have no training, education, or insight about serious problems and how to handle them. “Counseling meetings” consist of listening to their insufferable advice about things that they have no training to render, getting it wrong, and listening to their opinions (that something isn’t important, ridiculing, etc.). They get it wrong and do much damage.
I also came to learn what John MacArthur and his graduates mean by the term “Biblical”. It means, “We’re right. Don’t think. Don’t question. Do exactly what we say.”
“Biblical” is used to shut down thinking, conversations, and questioning.
1. Not Getting An Alcoholic Care By A Physician
The GBFSV pastors/elders spent months in meetings with me and other members about one problem member, a woman, who caused all kinds of chaos and problems. The GBFSV pastors/elders went over “gossip” and other issues. They made some members go and apologize to the woman, for things the woman had done to them. It was insane.
The GBFSV pastors/elders ARE NOT COMPETENT to render advice. The real problem – she’s an alcoholic – they missed entirely. They are not qualified nor competent to diagnosis and treat.
The woman church member should have been under a physician’s care who should have guided her care into treatment for alcoholism.
Instead the GBFSV pastors/elders damaged her, her children, and church members by claiming a skill set “Counseling” that they are untrained and incompetent to render.
2. Not Getting A Dyslexic Medical Care
Next up the GBFSV pastors/elders demanded meetings of me about the accusations by a woman dyslexic about me. She accused me of lying about events, stating that they had never taken place.
The GBFSV pastors/elders demanded meetings of me. The woman church member said that ‘the truth about [me] would come out.’
Dyslexia isn’t just a reading problem, it’s a memory problem in which people have short-term memory problems and working-memory problems. She has both problems, actually gets a government disability check, and she refuses to go get medical care and be involved in support groups for her disability.
According to her, Jesus could heal her if He wanted to. OK, lady, that hasn’t happened. Jesus gave you medical care and support groups for your disability, kick it in gear and get some!
J. Excommunicated And Shunned – Mine
Chairman of the Elder Board, Sam Kim, ordered that I be banned from church property.  He told the Seventh Day Adventists that I, like the doctor, was forbidden from being on church property.
Mr. Kim wanted me to apologize to him and the elders for their telling me that I was “destined for Hell” at the end of the meeting about the sex offender. I refused.
How would you respond if someone told you that you were “destined for Hell” and “not one of us” for raising a legitimate and serious issue?
I don’t owe them an apology, they owe me one.
They ordered that I have nothing to do with any church members, excommunicated me, lied about me before all, and cost me my friendships of 8+ years. I didn’t get a single Christmas card.
K.  I wish…
I wish I had been like those new attenders who saw something wrong with GBF and got up and left mid-service and fled.
I wish I had immediate family who were Christians and had warned me.
I wish I had gotten up and walked out when the lovely Christian woman who wanted to leave GBFSV for another church was berated before all of us and maligned.
I wish I had gotten up and walked out the day the doctor was ordered to be excommunicated and shunned. It was wrong. I knew the GBFSV pastors/elders were lying.
I wish I had gotten up when I was threatened.
I wish I had gotten up and walked out when they told me to get rid of a cross in my home, a birthday gift that I’d had from Italy for years.
I wish I didn’t love so many people there so deeply. I wish it was easier for me to leave. But it wasn’t.
And like Bonhoeffer said in World War II, that the Nazis went after other people and then they went after me. So true.
It was the Salem Witch Trials II at GBFSV. Authoritarian. Legalistic. Controlling. Destructive.
I didn’t get one Christmas card. My mail box used to be full of them. People were ordered to shun me and never speak to me again.
I wonder, in the years to come, what vile secrets and abuses will come out of this church and others like it?
I am thankful for blogs dealing with spiritual abuse – like Spiritual Sounding Board, The Wartburg Watch.
I am thankful for all of the older Christians who told me that the Patriarchy teachings that were shoved down our throats never used to be taught and are new since the 90s. I am thankful that all of the ‘big names’ in it have all been outted for being sexual predators. Sued for their sex crimes against many victims.
Posted March 1 by Callie:
Oh one more thing. Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’ (Sunnyvale, CA, rents from the Seventh Day Adventists) senior pastor Cliff McManis told me during the elders’ meeting they had with me that “child porn wasn’t a big deal“, about their friend who they gave church membership to.
I then went on a candid discussion about pornography. “OK, let’s discuss the differences between adult pornography and child pornography.” I then discussed ALL OF THE CRIMES that were committed against children to make child porn: rape, sodomy, etc. Kidnapping in some cases (even if moved from a room to another room). Held against their will. Some times being drugged. Just horrible things done to them.
McManis blushed bright red as I went on about pornography and discussed adult pornography. I said, “This man had a choice between adult pornography, which is legal, and child pornography which is illegal and a felony, violating state and federal laws. That he would choose child porn and trade in it, etc. tells me that he has a sexual interest in children, not adult women. And that is deeply troubling.” The GBFSV pastors/elders didn’t see it that way.
Posted March 2 by Callie:
The sex offender (Cupertino, CA) contrary to the false claims of the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, CA) pastors/elders Cliff McManis, Sam Kim, Bob Douglas and Tim Wong has NOT come off Megan’s List of sex offenders in California and the California Attorney General’s Office refuses to take him off.
Because of the threats the GBFSV pastors/elders leveled at me about the whole matter (they are legally mandated child abuse reporters in CA and it is a crime for them not to report), a whole host of legal agencies are now involved. (I was excommunicated from GBFSV for this drama, and some kind of trumped up charge (they will tell any lie to destroy a person’s reputation) I don’t know what the sex offender is doing at GBF and I have no contact with members, who have been ordered to shun me.
The Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders PERMITTED their friend a Megan’s List sex offender to become a church member and they put him in a position of leadership and trust. Godly women with Ph.D.’s aren’t permitted to serve at GBFSV but a Megan’s List sex offender/felon was fast-tracked to a trusted position. It is simply unconscionable. Insurance companies like Church Mutual, the largest insurer of churches, say that sex offenders should always be ministered to apart from the regular congregation for safety.
Senior Pastor Cliff McManis, a Master’s College/Seminary graduate, screamed and yelled at me in an elders’ meeting with him, Sam Kim (Chairman of the Elder Board), Tim Wong (elder) and Bob Douglas (associate pastor/elder). McManis said that the Megan’s List sex offender was “coming off Megan’s List” and that “he said so”.  OK, somebody is a convicted felon, convicted of sex crimes, sentenced to prison, serves prison time, is paroled and has a supervising law enforcement agency and you take ‘his word’ and don’t do due diligence and check with his SUPERVISING LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY? You have got to be kidding?
McManis demanded to know why I was calling him “a sex offender”. Me: “It’s NOT my term it’s a legal term. Someone convicted of sex crimes in criminal court is called a ‘sex offender’ under federal and state laws. It’s in the Penal Code of laws. It’s not my term.” The whole meeting was bizarre. 4 pastors/elders against me.
Elder/Associate Pastor Bob Douglas said that his family had known the sex offender for 40 years and he’s fine. He said he would entrust his children to him, no problem. McManis said the same. Douglas wanted to know if I’d prayed for the sex offender. We are discussing the safety of children at our church, not prayer time.
Anyway they turned everything around on me.
The Megan’s List sex offender was permitted to come to all church events, including the Bible Study I attended where parents brought their children. No one knew he was a Megan’s List sex offender, save me who discovered him online doing an entirely different project.
The sex offender whipped my entire Bible Study into a frenzy one evening about all of the “bad people in prisons”. Everybody was angry and upset and he was a masterful manipulator. They were agreeing with him and how “terrible” those bad people were.  He conveniently omitted he was one, was a felon, served prison time, and was on Megan’s List. I just stared him down. He was smiling that some 17 people had bought his pack of lies and his manipulation. When I got home I documented the whole thing for the California Attorney General’s Office under his picture on Megan’s List. That was also sent from the AG’s office to the Sheriff’s sex offenders’ task force. I told them DON’T EVER TAKE HIM OFF MEGAN’S LIST.
The pastors/elders were incensed and told me that I was to confront him, per Matthew 18:15-17. I told them:
“No, it was your job to protect all of us from him and anyone like him. You FAILED to do your job. Don’t blame me for your FAILURES. You intentionally didn’t do due diligence. I’m not confronting a felon/sex offender who is more than 6’0 tall when I’m a woman. No way. You failed, not me.”
Given the level of hostility that the GBF pastors/elders leveled at me outsiders have wondered if there is also a sex offender among any of them The response is very odd. To protect a sex offender, not protect kids, not care. It’s just all very odd. It’s not normal.
Will we hear of sexual abuse cases in the future from this church? I believe that the answer will be yes. Sex abuse of children is the No. 1 reason that churches are sued every year. Atty Richard Hammar, Church Law & Tax’s, chart: