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
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
Earlier this year we shared a guest post titled “Why I’m at a Church That Doesn’t Support Gender Equality”. The post led to a robust discussion of the pros and cons of staying versus leaving. Today a seasoned leader shares a consequence of staying in a complementarian church that did not come up in earlier…
“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.
I was warned by friends who had dealt with spiritually abusive pastors/elders in other churches that my former church – Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley – would try to get negative reviews warning of the excommunications, shunnings, and outright lying by the pastors/elders removed from Google Review and YELP. They advised me to save the links on the Way Back Machine website, for future use, which I did. (Thank you smart friends who know how abusive spiritual leaders work.)
The first to be removed was the YELP review. Next it was the Google Review. I have tweeted to the CEO’s of Google and YELP and said that GBFSV does this to former members who try to warn people about the incredible abuses going on there. If GBFSV pastors/elders have nothing to hide…then they shouldn’t mind the truth being written about them, by ANY of us former members that they abused. They’re proud of their conduct, well fine. They should have “bragging rights” and they shouldn’t mind if people like me “brag” about them.
I let the CEO’s of Google and YELP know that GBFSV pastors/elders hold these bizarre beliefs:
*women as second class citizens told to “obey” and “submit” — YIKES what Dark Ages treatment that not even sane denominations subscribe to
*excommunications and shunnings of anyone who has critical thinking skills (including a Los Altos, CA doctor in his 70’s, faithful and loving husband to his wife of nearly 50 years, loving father to grown children). Hundreds of church members were told to NEVER speak to the good doctor again by senior pastor Cliff McManis. McManis said that the elders had worked with the doctor. In other words do what they’ve done to all of us. Use Thought Reform techniques in high-pressured meetings to get us to obey to their bizarre, authoritarian demands! Before the doctor, it was a middle-aged woman who worked in finance and wanted to leave GBF for a saner church. She was harassed on the orders of Cliff McManis, pastor, because according to Cliff she’s not entitled to make her own decisions. Then it was my turn on some trumped up charge.
*McManis and the GBFSV pastors/elders believe in a Young Earth. Specifically they believe the earth is 6,000 years old. According to McManis it’s a “miracle”. It’s a miracle he didn’t go to a real college and do real work, hard work.
McManis has continued with his third-rate bible college education with “advanced degrees” purchased from an unaccredited diploma mill in Independence, Missouri. The diploma mill – Faith Bible College – is NOT accredited according to the U.S. Department of Education. The one “accrediting agency” for Faith Bible College was brought up on fraud charges by the Missouri Attorney General and banned from operating in Missouri. Instead the fraudulent accrediting agency moved next door to Arkansas, changed names, and is back in Missouri operating and “accrediting”. I notified the Missouri Attorney General recently about my discovery.
Cliff McManis’ “Ph.D.” is a fake. It’s not a bona fide Ph.D. that comes from eight plus years of hard work at an accredited university.
*McManis openly lies about ex-members, including me. His most recent lie about me was that three law enforcement agencies said I was “unstable” and that I had been harassing church members. I will be covering that in another post.
I have had NO CONTACT WITH CHURCH MEMBERS AND CLIFF MCMANIS IS LYING!
The law enforcement agencies said that they never said what McManis claims they said.
Cartoon by David Hayward/©NakedPastor.com in Canada http://www.nakedpastor.com/
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.
This is the post excerpt.
Artcle by Velour/MtnShepherdess ©
“Sometimes you have to make yourself the black sheep.” – cartoonist/former pastor David Hayward/nakedpastor.com ©
For all of those dear Christians who went looking for a Biblical church and were spiritually abused at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve it. Your families didn’t deserve it. You were told you were getting a “Biblical Church” that was “back to Biblical basics”. You weren’t told that you would be subjected to the hyper-controlling, authoritarian tactics of the GBFSV pastors/elders, including Cliff McManis, Sam Kim, Tim Wong, and Bob Douglas (and any other new elders). Instead you got the 1970’s cultic heavy-Shepherding Movement’s tactics/Thought Reform tactics, rolled out in new terms via Mark Dever’s 9 Marks organization. Even conservative Christians have criticized it saying there is only ONE mark of a healthy “Biblical” church: LOVE.
This blog will be devoted to Spiritual Abuse, recovery from it, and other serious and mostly unaddressed issues in the church, especially NeoCalvinist churches.
For the dear, sweet saints who were made “an example” of “before” all what the GBFSV pastors/elders did to you was wrong. For those told to come to meetings and who report being disrespected and mistreated, you didn’t deserve that.
The authority the GBFSV pastors/elders claim over Christians’ lives is NOT Biblical. God never gave them the power they claim. And DO NOT sign a Membership Covenant which strips you of your autonomy and the pastors/elders use as a crowbar to insinuate themselves in to your life.
Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s pastors/elders’ abusive conduct is like a replay of the Salem Witch Trials, Version II.
Apologies owed. The apologies that never came from the GBFSV pastors/elders but are overdue. They have never repented for their spiritual abuse of the flock.
[Note: GBFSV pastors/elders believe and teach in Young Earth Creation, also known on the internet by its other name “The Flintstone Doctrine” after the cartoon and for its Dark Ages, uneducated, anti-science, anti-logic, and anti-facts beliefs. Specifically that the earth is 6,000 years old and “what a miracle it is.” The senior pastor Cliff McManis has a FAKE “Ph.D.” from an online, unaccredited diploma mill in Independence, Missouri. A real bona fide Ph.D. from an accredited university takes about eight years of very hard work to earn. It’s “a miracle” to me how proud the GBFSV pastors/elders are to be uneducated. My grandmother, who died at 102 years old, had a U.C. Berkeley education in science from the 1920’s, she and her friends worked on the teams of Nobel Prize-winning researchers, she became the first woman dean of a California Community College, and she a Presbyterian believed in an Old Earth. Ditto for her fellow scientists, who were also Christians. They aren’t mutually exclusive. I will be covering Young Earth Creationism in another post. http://godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis_days_church_fathers.html The early church fathers did not believe in Young Earth Creation. Hebrew words in the Genesis text had different meanings in the text than they they do now in English. The Hebrew word “Yom” in the Genesis creation story has fifty-eight (58) different meanings, NOT one meaning as Young Earthers simplistically proclaim. And a basic logic question: How can you claim a 6-day earth creation story when the sun and the earth hadn’t been created and that “a day” is contingent on the earth’s rotation to the sun?]
Here is my YELP review which was taken down, because GBF doesn’t like the truth. Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley scrubs the internet of all negative reviews. From YELP to Google to Amazon* and anywhere else. *Note: After writing a negative review on Amazon beneath Cliff McManis’ book, and describing the abusive church he leads, the church had Amazon revoke ALL of my customer reviewing priviledges, which I have given mostly 4-5 stars for other products, been a customer of Amazon’s for years, and have ordered many products for myself and as gifts for other people. I wrote the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, about the problems with GBFSV, the excommunications and shunnings, and the Megan’s List sex offender. Jeff Bezos RESTORED my customer reviewing priviledges. And I just started this blog because I refuse to see that level of abuse that goes on at GBFSV, be subjected to it like they did to me, and turn around and be silent. One review that I wrote can be found in a blog discussion here https://thouarttheman.org/2016/09/18/9marks-attempting-brand-enhancement/ . I’m a “she” and not a “he” as 9 Marks thought in an article about my Amazon review written by Jonathan Leeman.
My thank you article to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, here:
[A Negative YELP Review in 2017 by a Man Who Went to Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley:
“This church is pretty much as far right as is possible to find in the Bay Area. If you’re extremely conservative, and into biblical literalism (young earth, anti-evolution), reminders of the coming of the end, slickly presented opinionated dogma, Calvinism, and patriarchy, then this is a great place to explore and grow in that. Personally, it wasn’t for me, and I found it distasteful.”
– a man reviewer on YELP about his experience at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley]
My YELP review of Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley
“It was very disturbing to be a member of this church and to see the level of mistreatment shown by the GBF pastors/elders to adult Christians, an iron-fisted authoritarian control over adult Christians’ lives and demands for ‘obedience’.There were excommunications and shunnings ordered of dear Christians for any independent thought.
Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley is one of the growing number of authoritarian, NeoCalvinist churches spreading across the U.S. and it’s not *Biblical*.
*Heavy Shepherding. GBFpractices the 1970’s heavy-Shepherding movement’s un-Biblical control of Christians’ lives by the pastors/elders. The Florida founders repented for its abuses and un-Biblicalness. The GBF leaders have not repented and the damage is growing in the lives at GBF. GBF copies Mark Dever’s (Capitol Hill Baptist, Washington, D.C.) 9Marks organization. It is a heavily criticized model, including by conservatives, who have said that there is only ONE Biblical mark of a healthy church: Love. The other 9Marks are un-Biblical and it’s the Heavy Shepherding Movement all over again.
**[Added on 10/29/2016] Inerrancy of Scripture. Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley teaches this based on the Chicago Statement signed by a group of men in the 1970’s. What GBFSV pastors/elders do not tell Christians is that the Chicago Statement proponents believe in the overthrow of the U.S. government, believe in the overthrow of state and local governments, want a Biblical Patriarchy like the Old Testament [Jesus gave us a new Covenant in the New Testament], and want groups of ten local church men to be in charge of local governments and take over the nation from there. The group also supports slavery and believes that “non-Christians” should be enslaved, basically anyone who isn’t in lockstep with their crazy beliefs. Additionally the group denies that the Holocaust occurred and they have a hatred for Jews. These men simply wanted a forum and some form of ratification of their bizarre beliefs. And at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley it is shoved down peoples’ throats without telling them point blank what it means. I reject the Chicago Statement because the men behind it are pure evil.
*Membership Covenants. Members are told to sign them because they’re *Biblical* and back to a Biblical basic. In point of fact they aren’t Biblical and are used to exert authoritarian control over members’ lives. Jesus required people to sign how many pages to follow Him? Correct answer: 0 pages. (Don’t sign!)
The GBFSV pastors/elders are such rude people that they tell Christians not to come back to worship if they aren’t willing to sign an authoritarian Membership Covenant. https://gbfsvchurchabuse.org/2016/09/23/are-your-pastorselders-as-rude-as-the-ones-at-grace-bible-fellowship-of-silicon-valley/
According to the GBFSV pastors/elders everyone needs someone with a fake Ph.D. to boss them around and run their life and the guy with the fake Ph.D. — Cliff McManis — wants to run your life. Just “say no”.
*Congregational vote. GBF wants your money but doesn’t believe in a true Biblical church honoring the Holy Spirit’s work in Christians’ lives and giftedness [i.e. there is NO congregational vote among church members from the budget (which is hidden) to all other issues of importance]. It is more authoritarian control exerted by a few yes-men over the Body of Christ, hobbling the power of the Holy Spirit to truly work. I will never go to a church again that is run like GBF. I will never give money to one again.
*Women. GBF pastors/elders promote Complementarian/Patriarchy doctrine that women are to “obey” and to “submit” and be 2nd class citizens. (The big ‘heros’ of this movement who espoused it have been brought up on sex crimes charges, of course. Only sick and twisted people with an agenda don’t want other people to have boundaries.) At GBF they live under the old Covenant and not the new one in Christ. GBF pastors espouse the Council on Biblical Manhood Womanhood which teaches a Semi-Arian Heresy by Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem called the Eternal [a lie] Subordination of the Son to justify the subordination of women. It is untrue and is trinatarian heresy. GBF has put this man-made doctrine on par with The Gospel. If you reject Comp you reject The Gospel. Nonsense. Read: Wartburg Watch blog for more info. [Additional Note. 9/6/2016. Former church members who have a Complementarian marriage and are Calvinists pointed out to me today that despite their conservative views that they don’t support the practices of the GBFSV pastors/elders and the mistreatment of the flock, that it has nothing to do with Comp or Calvinism but with these GBFSV pastors/elders choices to harm the flock. They have said that Cliff McManis is into other people ‘obeying’ and ‘submitting’ and his ‘authority’. Chauvinism as well. That’s not what this nice,conservative Christian couple believes or practices. Fair enough. Duly noted.]
*Teaching. GBFSV does not permit Godly women to teach the Word of God. They base this on the writing of the Apostle Paul. Paul wrote Timothy about one woman — original text in Greek said “the woman” — teaching one man error. Paul wanted her to learn correctly first. The issue wasn’t her being a woman, the issue was error – and that would be true if it was a man in error. Manipulative anti-woman Bible translators conveniently changed the text to something Paul never wrote to prohibit all Christian women for all time from teaching. Paul never wrote that.
*Nouthetic Counseling. GBF leaders believe that Bible is sufficient counsel for everything. They have no training and licensing, do not follow Cal. law, and frequently cross over the line into the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine (a crime in California that can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony). This bogus form of non-counseling comes from the un-trained Jay Adams and his books. It is malpractice. GBF pastors/elders did not get an older woman alcoholic to the care of a physician to supervise her treatment and spent months with members discussing “gossip” and drawing pictures on the blackboard. In the end this woman, her adult children, and church members were harmed. [Note: According to the U.S. Department of Education the “college” where senior pastor Cliff McManis claims he earned his “Ph.D.” from and another advanced degree IS a diploma mill (Faith Bible College) in Independence, Missouri. The degrees ARE FAKES! The diploma mill’s only “accrediting agency”, not a bona fide one recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, was brought up on fraud charges by the Missouri Attorney General and banned from doing business in Missouri. The “accrediting agency” simply moved to near by Arkansas, renamed their business, and has done the same thing in Missouri again. I recently advised the Missouri Attorney General that the group was back in Missouri and to “go get them”. A real Ph.D. from an accredited university takes about eight years of hard work to earn.]
Additionally, the GBFSV pastors/elders held me responsible for the genetically inherited brain disorder – Dyslexia – of a woman church member who refuses medical care. She can’t remember entire events and accuses other people like me of lying. Dyslexia isn’t just a reading problem but a memory problem.
Excommunications/Shunnings/Stalking. A godly woman left GBF for a saner church and was harassed by church members on the orders of the GBF pastors/elders. A godly doctor was excommunicated for dissenting in private. I was excommunicated because the GBF pastors/elders blamed me for someone’s memory problems. A bizarre church!!!
*Credentials. Snr pstr’s *Ph.D*. is from a MO. diploma mill.
GETTING OUT: Don’t tell them. Send a certified/return receipt letter & resign, no details. Call 911 and contact an attorney if they bother you. Read: The Wartburg Watch blog for details. According to the GBFSV pastors/elders members can’t leave Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley without the pastors/elders’ permission. This is ILLEGAL and unconstitutional, violating the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution. The Appellate Courts have ruled that religious organizations are voluntary and that people can leave whenever they wish. The GBFSV Bylaws and Membership Covenant are illegal and unconstitutional. Under NO circumstances do you have to “obey” the GBFSV pastors/elders. Under NO circumstances do you have to tolerate their harassment for leaving. Call the police and an attorney. Have an attorney send the GBFSV pastors/elders a cease and desist letter. If need be, sue them. Call the police if the GBFSV pastors/elders harass you or order anyone else to harass you. File a police report, including for stalking.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Women – call domestic violence shelters/support groups for help getting out. Call 9-1-1. Read: A Cry For Justice blog by pastor/cop.
Child Endangerment in California:
BOOK: Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ron Enroth (FREE online).
Recovering From Churches that Abuse, Dr. Ron Enroth (FREE below). [Note: I started reading this book first and I read Dr. Enroth’s other book second.]
SEARCH TERMS: Spiritual Abuse, Membership Covenants, Authoritarianism, NeoCalvinism, Homeschoolers Anonymous, Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board,Steve Hassan. [See links on the Blog Roll on the right side of this page.]
Steve Hassan. Psychologist/author/Thought Reform expert: https://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php
Brad/FuturistGuy (Christian blogger/researcher) article about Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, psychiatrist at Yale, former Air Force psychiatrist, researcher, studied Communist Chinese Thought Reform, which is also how other authoritarian groups work:
I learned that I know more than I thought I did & I will never listen to authoritarian men again!”
Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley does what psychologist/author/cult expert/Thought Reform expert Steve Hassan calls the BITE Model.
“Steven Hassan’s BITE Model of Cult Mind Control
Many people think of mind control as an ambiguous, mystical process that cannot be defined in concrete terms. In reality, mind control refers to a specific set of methods and techniques, such as hypnosis or thought- stopping, that influence how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Like many bodies of knowledge, it is not inherently good or evil. If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. For example, benevolent mind control can be used to help people quit smoking without affecting any other behavior. Mind control becomes destructive when the locus of control is external and it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.
As employed by the most destructive cults, mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity and reconstruct it in the image of the cult leader. I developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model helps people understand how cults suppress individual member’s uniqueness and creativity. BITE stands for the cult’s control of an individual’s Behavior, Intellect, Thoughts, and Emotions.
It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mindcontrolled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.
We are all subject to influence from our parents, friends, teachers, co-workers… When this influence helps someone grow and maintain an internal locus of control, it is healthy. Influence which is used to keep people mindless and dependent is unhealthy. To download a PDF of the Influence Continuum graphic, click here.
The BITE Model
I. Behavior Control II. Information Control
III. Thought Control IV. Emotional Control
1. Regulate individual’s physical reality
2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
3. When, how and with whom the member has sex
4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
5. Regulate diet – food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
9. Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet
10. Permission required for major decisions
11. Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors
12. Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
13. Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
14. Impose rigid rules and regulations
15. Instill dependency and obedience
16. Threaten harm to family and friends
17. Force individual to rape or be raped
18. Instill dependency and obedience
19. Encourage and engage in corporal punishment
a. Deliberately withhold information
b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
c. Systematically lie to the cult member
2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
c. Former members
d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
e. Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
3. Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
b.Control information at different levels and missions within group
c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
4. Encourage spying on other members
a. Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
b.Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
c. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
b.Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
b. Withholding forgiveness or absolution
c. Manipulation of memory, possible false memories
1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
a. Adopting the group’s ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
c. Decide between good vs. evil
d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
2.Change person’s name and identity
3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
4. Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts
5. Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member
6. Memories are manipulated and false memories are created
7. Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
e. Speaking in tongues
f. Singing or humming
8. Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
10. Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish
2. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
3. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
4. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as
a. Identity guilt
b. You are not living up to your potential
c. Your family is deficient
d. Your past is suspect
e. Your affiliations are unwise
f. Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
g. Social guilt
h. Historical guilt
5. Instill fear, such as fear of:
a. Thinking independently
b. The outside world
d. Losing one’s salvation
e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
f. Other’s disapproval
6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
7. Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
8. Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
e. Threats of harm to ex-member and family”.
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