Five Reasons to Say “No” to a Church Covenant by Wade Burleson

Note: Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Enid church in Enid, Oklahoma, a Baptist church. Wade has succinctly explained why Christians should say ‘no’ to signing Membership Covenants.

Five Reasons to Say “No” to a Church Covenantby Wade Burleson ©

“But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all … All you need to say is
simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Village Church in Dallas, Texas recently placed a member named Karen Root  under church disciplinebecause she annulled her marriage with a confessed child pornographer.  A letter Village Church elders sent to members last Saturday (May 23, 2015) gave their logic for placing Karen under church discipline. The elders believed they had no choice because Karen violated the church covenant that she signed when she joined Village Church. Specifically, Karen violated the covenant by not getting church leaders’ permission to file for an annulment. The elders wrote:

“…Karen filed for an immediate annulment of her marriage to Jordan apart from the counsel of the church… (by) signing the Membership Covenant, a member agrees … to receive our care…”

Karen had respectfully requested withdrawal of membership from Village Church, but the elders wouldn’t allow it because she had not sought their counsel. She refused to come “under their care,” so they put Karen under discipline. No Village Church member under discipline, wrote Village church authorities, can “withdraw” from membership. Therefore, Village pastors/elders “refused to accept” Karen’s request to withdraw from Village membership.

This is an ugly situation all the way around. Village Church leaders–regardless of the vocal criticism they receive–believe they are men of integrity. They are, in their minds, fulfilling their pastoral role and abiding by the church covenant they demanded everyone sign before they became members. Some who are not members of Village are blaming Karen for signing a church covenant. Nobody should blame Karen. She, like other evangelicals, probably had no idea of the ultimate consequences of signing church covenants. The guilt lies with church authorities who demanded signatures from prospective members that turned their spiritual formation and maturation over to mere men instead of the Holy Spirit.

Read Village’s Church Covenant. It’s chilling when it comes to the authority of elders and church leaders. Here are some of the phrases that the prospective member must read and then sign, vowing their allegiance to obey:

  • I understand the importance of submission to church leadership
  • I will submit to the elders and other appointed leaders of the church
  • I will agree to walk through the steps of marriage reconciliation at The Village Church before pursuing divorce from my spouse

I’ve written several articles stating that the major problem in modern evangelical Christianity is theauthoritarianism of evangelical leaders. I have sought to explain how pastors/elders “twist the Scriptures” and demand “obedience and submission” to this alleged authority. Jesus tells us that that true ‘spiritual leaders’ are only servants, never masters. Yet, evangelical leaders seem not to be listening to Jesus.

With this in mind, I would like to give you five reasons why I would never sign a church membership covenant in order to become a member.

(1). A church covenant makes the Holy Spirit irrelevant in my life.

We are called in Scripture to be led “by the Spirit.” Though there is counsel in the wisdom of many, when I sign a church covenant I abdicate my right to hear from the Spirit myself. When Karen Root resigned her membership from Village, she stated“I have sought the Lord diligently and several godly people I trust…”That wasn’t good enough for Village elders; Karen didn’t seek them out. A church covenant fetters one’s ability to seek the Spirit’s wisdom and advice from godly people other than the elders and pastors of the church that demanded you to sign.
(2). A church covenant replaces my one true Mediator with inferior mediators.
I have only One High Priest who stands between me and God – Jesus, the Son of God – and anyone whocomes between me and Jesus as I walk by His counsel and His wisdom is a detriment to my growth. A true servant in the Kingdom will only and always point me  to Jesus Christ for my marching orders, and willnever demand that I accept their orders as from God. When I sign a church covenant I’m in essence handing over the authority of Jesus Christ in my life to mere men.
(3). A church covenant makes the institutional church equivalent to the Kingdom of God.
 A 501c-3 non-profit institutional church plays an important role in the Kingdom of God, but the local church is not the kingdom of God.  Anyone who knows history understands that institutional churches who demand spiritual authority over individual believers have wrongly placed their institution on par with God’s Kingdom. For example, the great 17th century Baptist hymn writer and theologian Benjamin Keach decided to write a book for children containing evangelical truth. Authorities of the Church of England sought to execute him for writing that infant baptism was not biblical. On what basis could the Church of England kill Benjamin Keach? Answer: The same basis Village Church can consign Karen Root to church discipline. Leaders of the 17th century Church of England and the 21st century Village Church both believe their institution is equivalent to the Kingdom of God. Their leaders falsely believe that they hold the keys of life and death and of heaven and hell. It isn’t so. Don’t sign a covenant and perpetuate this dangerous lie.
(4). A church covenant by its nature is designed to protect an authoritarian structure.
When a Christian signs a church covenant that demands submission to elders/pastors, he or she is enabling that institutional church to maintain an authoritarian structure. Rather than the weak and wounded sheep being the focus of attention within the church, most modern covenants are written with phrases that seem intent on bringing church members into “submission to church authorities.” Quickly scan any church covenant, If “submission to church elders” is anywhere found, then know the covenant is designed to keep control of members and maintain the authority of the leaders. Paul Burleson points out that any institutional church more concerned with supporting their authoritarian system of control than healing their wounded members is sending signals of weak spiritual leadership. Jesus said that the world uses titles, positions of honor, and seeks to “exercise authority over those they rule,” but “this should never be the caseamong His followers (Mark 10:35-45).
(5). A church covenant requires something more than a simple “Yes” or “No.”
Jesus said that anything you have to do that goes beyond your simple words of “Yes” and “No” is from the “evil one” (Matthew 5:37).  When I join a church, I will forever refuse to sign any document, whether it be a “tithing card,” or “a membership covenant,” or any other document that requires a vow from me regarding my future performance or activity. In fact, if I ever attend a church that requires such a thing, I will refuse to join on the basis of principle. I will live freely, speak with integrity, and rest in the simplicity of following Jesus and living by the Spirit. I will not be fettered by written vows to a church that is seeking to protect their authority over me.
I need no covenant to guarantee that God will finish the work He’s begun in me.
<a href="">Wade Burleson, President</a>

Are The Claims of Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley Pastors/Elders That They Are Being ‘Persecuted’ Because They Are Being Held Accountable…’Biblical’?

"Stay Positive" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

As the pressure mounts on the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders, instigated no less by all of their wrong decisions, bad decisions, and ultimately bad theology, they haven’t humbled themselves. They’ve dug in deeper. They’ve claimed in emails to church members that they are now ‘being persecuted’ and need ‘prayers’ for protection for the GBF Body.

Is it Biblical or just one of the manipulative antics of an abusive church? Read The Wartburg Watch article on the “9 Marks of An Abusive Church.”

Nine Marks of an Abusive Church


 “Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.“   CS Lewis-Screwtape Letters”

How can you spot an abusive church? Do you know the “red flags”? Dr. Ronald Enroth, is a leading scholar on cults and cultism, and his special perspectives have proven beneficial to both the secular and the religious society. Dr. Enroth is a professor of Sociology at Westmont College (Santa Barbara, California) where he has taught since 1965, beginning as a sociology instructor. In 1992 Enroth wrote Churches That Abuse, and it continues to be an important resource nearly two decades later.
Margaret Thaler Singer, a clinical psychologist and emeritus professor of the University of California, Berkeley, provided her hearty recommendation on the book’s jacket. Here is an excerpt:

“When does a church cross the line between conventional church status and fringe status? What is the nature of the process by which any given group devolves into a fringe church or movement? What are some of the signs or indicators that a given group is becoming abusive of its members and is headed for the margins? When should a member consider bailing out?


Churches That Abuse answers these and other important questions about abusive churches and groups that operate in this country – organizations and churches that are not necessarily characterized by doctrinal deviation but have particular traits that make them behavioral and sociological outsiders. It also helps readers identify and beware of abusive tendencies in more “normal” Christian churches.”
In his classic book Dr. Enroth identifies distinctive traits of abusive churches which should serve as “red flags”. Pat Zukeran, a research associate with Probe Ministries, has written an excellent review of Churches That Abuse, and we will be sharing excerpts from his article “Abusive Churches”, along with quotes from the book, to explain some of these identifying traits or “MARKS”.

‘(4) Perceived persecution


To explain this identifying mark, Zukeran writes: “Because abusive churches see themselves as elite, they expect persecution in the world and even feed on it. Criticism and exposure by the media are seen as proof that they are the true church being persecuted by Satan. However, the persecution received by abusive churches is different from the persecution received by Jesus and the Apostles.

Jesus and the Apostles were persecuted for preaching the truth. Abusive churches bring on much of their negative press because of their own actions. Yet, any criticism received, no matter what the source–whether Christian or secular–is always viewed as an attack from Satan, even if the criticisms are based on the Bible.”’


Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley Pastors/Elders: ‘Lying Is Like A Boomerang. About the Time You Think “All is well”, It Hits You in The Back of The Head.” (Bonus: Filing A False Police Report Is A Crime In California (CA Penal Code Section 148.5 PC))

Article by Velour/ ©MtnShepherdess"How's My Driving" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Cartoon courtesy of David Hayward/©NakedPastor.Com

Dear Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders (Cliff McManis, Sam Kim, Tim Wong, Bob Douglas, and others) and church members/attenders:

In July 2016, Cliff McManis sent out an email about me to hundreds of church members. It’s all lies as the GBFSV pastors/elders desperately try to control the narrative, two years after I’d stopped going to Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley in 2014. The GBFSV pastors/elders have spiritually abused countless former church members (and probably current ones too). You spiritually abused Christians are not alone. When the GBFSV pastors/elders crossed me, they met their match. I’d seen them excommunicate/shun too many people (including a godly doctor in his 70’s), destroy peoples’ reputations, disrespect church members, interfere in other peoples’ business that is NONE of their business, order people to ‘obey’ and ‘submit’ to their ‘authority’ [they seem delusional and don’t deal with reality in the real world in Silicon Valley, that we’re voters, tax payers, adults, and we don’t have to ‘obey’ them].

The GBFSV pastors/elders have enabled their friend a Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer to come to church, gave him church membership, leadership, access to everything and invited him to be around other peoples’ kids and the GBFSV pastors/elders told NO ONE.

They also invited him to volunteer at the children’s basketball camp with other peoples’ children who didn’t know that they were handing their kids over to a church that would give a Megan’s List sex offender access to their kids. The facility owners weren’t told either. I emailed the recent school that GBFSV rented a school gym from and said that if it all goes wrong and a child is abused on their property, they can get sued for it and their reputation can be harmed. Best not to rent to GBF.

In 2014 the Chairman of the Elder Board of Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley (“GBFSV”  Sam Kim banned me from attending Sunday church services, banned me from attending any church events, banned me from having any communication with any church members (including my friends whom I’d known for nearly eight years), and told the Seventh Day Adventists who rent to GBFSV in Sunnyvale, California, (Silicon Valley) that I was banned from stepping foot on church property (just like the godly doctor, a senior citizen in his 70’s, faithful and loving husband to his wife of nearly 50 years, who was banned from church property and ordered to be excommunicated and shunned on trumped up charges by the spiritually abusive, dishonest, unethical GBFSV pastors/elders).  I was then excommunicated and ordered to be shunned before hundreds of church members.

My “crime”? I had not committed any act of immorality.  I would not bow to the authoritarian dictates of the chairman of the elder board who demanded that I apologize to all of the pastors/elders for telling him that I had a problem with their repeated threats to me about a Megan’s List sex offender at church whom I had discovered while doing a research project for a former sex crimes prosecutor.  Sam Kim, Chairman of the Elder Board, closed a meeting in which the four of pastors/elders who were present including Cliff McManis, Tim Wong, and Bob Douglas had bullied me for wanting our children to be safe in light of their friend who is sexually attracted to children and is on Megan’s List of sex offenders. They said I was “destined for Hell” and “not one of us”. They also defended child pornography and said it “wasn’t a big deal”. It’s a violation of federal and state laws with serious prison time for those convicted of it.

My name joined the “banned from church property” list with the wonderful Dr. Luke (not his real name), a godly doctor in his 70’s, loving husband to his wife Mrs. Luke (not her real name). The Lukes have been  married for nearly fifty years. Dr. Luke is also a loving father to grown children and a faithful evangelist at his office. The Lukes have accused the GBF pastors/elders of lying about them. Before them, it was a middle-aged professional woman in finance who left GBF for a saner church. She was ordered to be harassed by Cliff McManis and the elders (including Sam Kim and Tim Wong) for not “obeying” and “submitting” to her husband. She said the pastors/elders screamed at her.

Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders have invited their friend a Megan’s List sex offender, convicted for child pornography, to volunteer at the summer children’s basketball camp, unbeknownst to trusting parents and owners of facilities (like the Seventh Day Adventist School in Los Altos, CA). Parents who are members of the church, as well as those in the community (GBFSV advertised the basketball camp in a community newspaper) entrusted their children for five days to the church. They weren’t told straight up, and it wasn’t on the fliers, that a Megan’s List sex offender was invited. What parent in their right mind would trust their child(ren) to a church knowing that a sex offender could show up at any time? The pastors/elders said that “child porn wasn’t a big deal.” He was their friend and they would “trust him with [their] children.” The pastors/elders said their friend “was coming off Megan’s List” because “he said so”. The California Attorney General’s Office, which maintains California’s Megan’s List, called the GBF pastors/elders’ stories “all lies” and total lies”.  The Seventh Day Adventists could get sued if a child was abused on their property. The SDA’s are a self-insured denomination with strict child protection policies and trainings.

I contacted the school that GBF most recently rented a gym from for the basketball camp. I advised them of GBF pastors/elders casual attitude about sex offenders, disrespecting everyone from the California Attorney General to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s sex offenders’ task force [the sex offenders’ supervising law enforcement agency]. I said that it would be wise for the school to discuss this with their attorney, since the school could be sued if a child is harmed on their property, and best not to rent to GBF  in the future. Additionally, if a child is sexually abused then the other organization’s reputation is toast once it hits the news media and whatever sterling reputation they had will be in tatters because of the irresponsible, incompetent GBFSV pastors/elders who pride themselves on a whole host of Dark Ages’ policies.

The GBF pastors/elders found out that I had warned the Christian school in Los Altos.

Since July 2016 enraged pastors/elders then sent this email out about me, none of it is true. I’ve highlighed the problem areas, the lies, in red to make it easy to understand. I’ve refuted it point by point. Again, I hadn’t been to GBFSV in 2 years, since 2014, when pastor Cliff McManis sent out his lying email about me. I was tipped off about the GBFSV email by church members who didn’t like the controlling, authoritarian, bizarre GBFSV pastors/elders and they said they had NEVER experienced this bizarre conduct at any of the churches they had been members of in other communities.  

 100% lies:

“Dear members-

[From This Lie] One of our former members who is in the final step of church discipline, has recently been aggressively harassing some of our current membersShe has been spreading malicious gossip The Mountain View police [GBF church deacon works for MVPD and DOES NOT SPEAK FOR DEPT.], the Sunnyvale police [GBF church secretary’s husband works for SPD and DOESN NOT SPEAK FOR THEM] and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department [supervises Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer and has ALWAYS called GBF pastors/stories “all lies” and “total lies”] all say she is unstable and should be ignored and or avoided.  So if she sends you a text or email, they suggest you ignore it and delete it with no reply.  They believe if she receives no attention, that in time she will stop.

In the meantime ask God for protection over the Body of GBF [to this lie. This email is 100% lies.]
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Cliff

  • Sentence 1 – Former Member or 3rd Step of Church Discipline Process?

 How can “a former member” be the subject of “final step of church discipline”?

The chairman of the elder board banned me from church property, Sunday church services, church events, and communications with members two years ago. Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s pastors/elders told the Seventh Day Adventist pastor who rents space to GBFSV that I was banned from church property, along with the good doctor before me.

  • Sentence 1 – How Does Not Contacting Any Church Member = “Aggressive Harass[ment]”?

I have NOT contacted any church members via text, email, phone, in person or by any other means.  My ex-pastor lied.

I have, however, been contacted through social media by church members who want to leave Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley as those members know something is terribly wrong with those pastors/elders.  Worried members said the way they are treated at GBFSV is not how they have been treated at other churches.

  • Sentence 2

 “malicious gossip”

My ex-pastor claims that the police departments said that three law enforcement agencies said that I was “mentally ill”, not having met me or interacted with me.  How can a “mentally ill” person be guilty of “malicious gossip”? [My ex-pastor/elders were fond of calling any honest conversation “gossip”.]

The Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders (Cliff McManis, Sam Kim, Tim Wong, Bob Douglas, and anyone new since then) are fond of using the “gossip” word to shut down honest conversation. According to them, we’re not supposed to have adult conversations. It’s all dismissed under the term “gossip”. They also casually accuse people of “slander” who discuss the truth. And “bringing an accusation against an elder without cause.” In the real world, at real jobs, people have to answer questions and not cover up via name calling.

  • Pastor, Provide The Names, Titles, And Dates Of Police Officers Who “All Say” She Is“Unstable”.

 Law enforcement officers from three separate agencies who’ve never met me “all say” that I am “unstable”?  They all got together and said this to my ex-pastor? When did they communicate that to him? What are their names, titles?  How did they determine this?

I contacted the Mountain View Police Department, the Sunnyvale Police Department, and The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. NONE of them know what my ex-pastor Cliff McManis is talking about and NO they did not say that I was “unstable”.   And NO, I have not contacted ANYONE AT CHURCH. 

Additionally, I have worked in law offices and legal departments for years, have a paralegal education and graduated at the top of my class, and I’m earning an Administration of Justice degree. My department chair used to work for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department and knows all of the higher-ups. I am the top ‘A’ student in my department chair’s classes. I have also earned A’s in all of my other AJ classes, where I am also the top student taught by long-time law enforcement professionals who’ve worked at local law enforcement agencies for decades. All of them have vouched for my sanity and credibility. So has my next door neighbor, a long-time law enforcement professional for many decades, who has vouched for my sanity and credibility and is glad that I’m out of the bizarre, abusive, authoritarian Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley.

I’ve also changed California law in the legislature for high-risk crime victims and I got an entire body of law and a special program passed into law after four years of hard work.

  •  Omission Of Conflicts Of Interest: Two “Yes-Men” At Church Work For Two Police Departments Listed In E-mail

 The church secretary’s husband is a police officer for the Sunnyvale Police Department mentioned in the pastor’s email.  A church deacon is a police officer for the Mountain View Police Department mentioned in the email. Neither two church members speak for their respective police departments in this situation and both can be the subject of Internal Affairs’ investigations. My ex-senior pastor omitted these conflicts-of-interest.I provided the pastor’s email to each of their Internal Affairs’ investigators. I also notified each of their City Attorneys’ offices, since at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley I was ordered to use hate speech against gays, which is illegal in California and a firing offense at my job.  I refused. The pastors/elders ratified hate speech as ‘being ok’. For those of them who work for corporate employers, they’ve obviously never told their employers about this as they would be fired for it. Since the hate speech many of these members ratify, including these law enforcement officers at GBF ratify, is a firing offense with their cities, I turned them in to their City Attorneys’ offices. 

The third law enforcement agency is the Megan’s List sex offenders’ supervising law enforcement agency, the Santa Clara County Sheriff.  They have repeatedly stated, along with the California Attorney General’s Office, that my ex-pastor and elders’ stories to me that their friend the sex offenderis “coming off Megan’s List” was “all lies” and “total lies”.  That law enforcement agency has defended me, not my pastors/elders.

  • “unstable” , “she should be ignored or avoided”

 Oh, Cliff McManis…you wish. 

“ ‘Can’t Talk Rule’.

The most powerful of all unspoken rules in the abusive system is what we have already termed the ‘can’t-talk’ rule. The ‘can’t-talk rule’ has this thinking behind it: ‘The real problem cannot be exposed because then it would have to be dealt with and things would have to change; so it must be protected behind walls of silence (neglect) or by assault (legalistic attack). If you speak about the problem out loud, you are the problem. In some way you must be silenced or eliminated.” The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen, page 68

  • Sentence 3

 So if she sends you a text or email, they suggest you ignore it and delete it with no reply.”

 It is a crime in my state (California) to file a false police report, either orally or in writing. A person who does so can face arrest and prosecution and time behind bars if convicted.I forwarded my ex-pastor’s email, given to me by insiders at church, to the Santa Clara County District Attorney, the San Jose Mercury News editors, powerful women’s and child protection groups in Santa Clara County (that are well-funded and have attorneys on staff), and all of the law enforcement agencies and their respective Internal Affairs investigators.

I wrote in my email that since my ex-pastor and elders have made these fabricated accusations about me to please make certain they put them in police reports. Then arrest them and prosecute them for filing police reports.

  • Sentence 4 “They believe if she receives no attention, that in time she will stop.”

 Oh, Cliff McManis has such a hard time with logical thought. A person can’t “stop” something that they’ve NEVER “started” or done. Cliff McManis, however, is not known for his intellectual rigor.  His “advanced degrees” including a “Ph.D.” –are FAKES —  he bought from a store-front diploma mill in Independence, Missouri called Faith Bible College.  His “Ph.D.” (cough) costs $299 from the diploma mill. Faith Bible College is NOT accredited according to the U.S. Department of Education. The bible college’s one “accrediting agency” (cough) was brought up on fraud charges by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and banned from doing business in the state of Missouri. The fraudulent group simply moved to Arkansas, set up the same business under a different name, and re-accredited all of the fake diploma mills in Missouri. I recently notified the Missouri Attorney General, “The fraudsters…are back! Go get ’em.”

A real Ph.D. from an accredited university takes about eight years of very hard work to complete.

Sentence 5

  • My (Ex) Pastor: “ask God for protection over the GBF [Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley] body.”

A better prayer: Pray for protection for all of the children that they have endangered, their parents, former church members who’ve been lied about, excommunicated and shunned, those current church members being subjected to false teachings including NeoCalvinism, Authoritarianism, Complementarianism/Patriarchy, and other soul-crushing teachings that have NOTHING to do with The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Those Of Us Who Work In Conservatorships Handle People Who Lack “CapacityProfessionally, Ethically And With Dignity

 I have worked in law offices for many years, including on conservatorships for people who lacked capacity and needed a court-appointed conservator such as a licensed social worker to supervise their care.  Everyone involved in a conservatorship – judges, county government attorneys, court investigators, physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, and private attorneys and their staffs – has displayed professional and ethical conduct. No one has ever ridiculed a person who lacks capacity.  No one has ever sent out an email to hundreds of people ridiculing a person who lacks capacity.

My ex-pastor should choose one story and stick to it. If it’s the “unstable” and “lack of capacity” argument than Cliff McManis and the GBFSV pastors/elders should be consistent.

 “Lying is like a boomerang. About the time you think ‘all is well’ it hits you in the back of the head.”  

If anyone at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley would like to stick with this bogus story about me, any claim that you make that I’ve contacted members when I have not is FILING A FALSE POLICE REPORT, A CRIME IN CALIFORNIA, that you can be arrested and prosecuted for and land in jail. Think very carefully about the consequences of lying.

From The San Francisco Police Department's website.

“California Penal Code Section 148.5 PC


We advise anyone who files a police report to consider the following information:


  • MAKING A FALSE REPORT OF A CRIME – No crime occurred.

Penalties include jail and fines for each separate count of a false report.

USING A FALSE NAME OR USING SOMEONE ELSE’S IDENTITY:   Knowingly giving a false name to police or using the identity of someone else on any police report, other official or financial report is a crime, a Felony under Penal Code Section  529 PC – Click here to read the section.

FALSE REPORTS FOR INSURANCE CLAIMS:   If the police report is made or required for filing an insurance claim, knowingly providing false information, including a false report of a theft or loss, false report of damage or false value of insured property, it is considered insurance fraud. The false report will be prosecuted as Felony insurance fraud under Penal Code Section 550 – Click here to read the sections.

All reports received and processed using online reporting forms are read, screened and verified by a police officer to confirm information and reduce fraud. San Francisco Police Department prosecutes all false police reports, insurance fraud and cases of false or assumed identity. Using the Online Report system to file “hoax” or “joke” reports, is also a false report. We will file cases against offenders and our local District Attorney’s office does prosecute these offenses.

Please read the following excerpt from the 2000 Edition of the California Penal Code. Use this link to read this and other Penal Code sections relating to offenses against public justice:

Penal Code Section 148.5 – Falsely report crime.

148.5. (a) Every person who reports to any peace officer listed in Section 830.1 or 830.2, or subdivision (a) of Section 830.33, district attorney, or deputy district attorney that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) Every person who reports to any other peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor if (1) the false information is given while the peace officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as a peace officer and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is a peace officer.

(c) Except as provided in subdivisions (a) and (b), every person who reports to any employee who is assigned to accept reports from citizens, either directly or by telephone, and who is employed by a state or local agency which is designated in Section 830.1, 830.2, subdivision (e) of Section 830.3, Section 830.31, 830.32, 830.33, 830.34, 830.35, 830.36, 830.37, or 830.4, that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor if (1) the false information is given while the employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as an agency employee and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is an agency employee engaged in the performance of the duties described in this subdivision.

(d) Every person who makes a report to a grand jury that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor. This subdivision shall not be construed as prohibiting or precluding a charge of perjury or contempt for any report made under oath in an investigation or proceeding before agrand jury.

(e) This section does not apply to reports made by persons who are required by statute to report known or suspected instances of child abuse, dependent adult abuse, or elder abuse.”


"Silence of the Lambs" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

by Velour/©MtnShepherdess

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.


The law enforcement agencies said that they never said what McManis claims they said.



Cartoon by David Hayward/© in Canada

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


Article by Velour/MtnShepherdess ©

Cartoon courtesy of David Hayward/© 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: