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
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: