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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: May 08, 2013 03:32AM

I love this forum!

Isn’t it great that we can agree, disagree, explore ideas, change our mind and apologise, and we can also be gracious even when talking about a situation that causes such serious concern. It would be so easy to take the Struthers approach that “we are 100% right and every single thing everybody else does is evil” but, instead of that, we get comments that say individuals are NOT making allegations about matters they do not know about, and contributors even commend an initiative run by the school. Brilliant!

I honestly think this is probably the most generous and gracious forum I have ever seen online. What nonsense for preachers to talk about ‘seeds of bitterness’ being the driver of all of this. It is again just another demonstration of the total arrogance – ‘We are of course infallible, so others must be wrong, so there must be a seed of bitterness there even if no-one can see it.’

The more I look at it, the more I see that the whole of Struthers comes tumbling down as soon as you remove that fundamental assumption that the leaders are infallible. Take that away and there is simply nothing left. I cannot think of one thing about the organisation that is not based on an assumption that the leaders are infallible. Building on sand or what!

For example, on the safeguarding of children issue, I do think they have a serious problem. Thankfully, no-one has brought any specific allegations of sexual abuse or anything like that, but the point that the current structure does not provide the checks and balances needed. What if, at some point in the future, a new member of staff does abuse a child. The child knows that the line manager of the abuser is also the pastor of that member of staff, lives in the same house, is possibly also related (as many of the staff appear to be) and was apparently told by God to appoint that person to that role, so will not believe any accusations against them. To whom do they turn? There is no-one who is independent - no checks and balances. The Struthers view is that they do not need checks and balances because they are incapable of making mistakes.

.. and, by the way, if you are not infallible, then Jesus gave you some pretty clear instructions about what to do if you had offended someone. So, please do not give us this vague stuff about making mistakes at times. If there are mistakes, tell us about them, and do something about them - you are always happy to talk about other people's failings.

Getting back to the subject, I guess they can try arguing, “It could never happen. God would tell us not to appoint that member of staff.” (i.e. returning to the infallibility argument). Well, as ChesterK55 points out, at least that would then be a written policy and people would know that was the framework they would be working within if there was a complaint.

What is interesting is of course that this is not the line they have taken in the school side of the business. Would parents be happy if they knew the child protection policy was, “it can never happen here, God will reveal to us the danger and we will dismiss the person concerned”? That appears to be the overall policy at the highest levels of the organisation, but thet is not what they have written as their policy for the school side of the organisation.

I do take heart form your comments ChesterK55, but I still not quite as confident that all of the issues will come to light. It is great to see that people would be willing to stand up and be counted, and I would also happily join the (very long) queue at any court in the land. There may however be a large number of people who have been hurt but would not want to be in that sort of confrontation in a public forum.

I do think there is a great opportunity right now however. It seems that OSCR are looking at any complaints raised as part of their current investigation and, from what I hear, they are not just interested in process, they are interested in treatment of individuals by church leaders as well.

So, I would strongly encourage anyone with a complaint to put it to OSCR now (just go the OSCR website and fill in the complaints form). As was pointed out some time ago, this can be submitted anonymously if preferred – you do not need to log in or leave an email or other details. A complaint now will I think be taken forward by OSCR, which might be easier than raising it as an individual at some later point and perhaps feeling a bit isolated.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Ifellaway ()
Date: May 08, 2013 05:17AM

Hahaha, I love this forum too and firmly agree that we are all able to negociate finer details and we are trying to keep positive, without being in denial.
What was really funny though, ThePetitor, was how you just burst into that post. lol very, very much. :)
True though, right now the emphasis is on individuals who have suffered. They count them all and treat each separately. They are not paid to hurry the checks either; they can leave charities dangling pretty much indefinitely.
I think the seeds of bitterness comment was a look in the mirror...
Brothers and sisters, you bring tears to my eyes and I am glad.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Archbishop Laud ()
Date: May 09, 2013 03:59AM

I hope you don't mind my saying this but I think one recent line of critique of Struthers is unsafe.

I do not believe the Church or its leaders are now, or even have been, guilty of child abuse. Physical abuse of children is anathema to them. It is true that they lay on hands for spiritual purposes but that is no way abuse; it is an honest and pure-minded action, even if you think it mistaken. They would never manhandle a child; it is inconceivable.

As for emotional or psychological abuse, they are no more guilty of such than many other organisations with strong convictions--Plymouth Brethren, Jesuits, Mormons, Communists, Rangers supporters, you name it! The case can be made, but it is a tenuous one and would not stand up in a robust court. Indoctrination should not be outlawed, but combated in other ways.

I am sorry to say so, and in no way wish to belittle any poster's pain, but to accuse the Struthers leaders of abuse is unwise. It actually smacks of the political correctness that in some other respects is threatening the Christian faith in this country.

Child-abuse accusations aside, however, most of what I have read in posts both recent and older, seems correct; and chimes in with what I have myself criticised the Church for in previous posts. I am in full agreement that this forum is an important and God-given space for bringing legitimate questions to the attention of the leadership.

And it is outrageous that the honest recollections of a growing cloud of witnesses should continue being arrogantly and callously ignored.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: May 09, 2013 04:51AM

Hi Archbishop Laud

I get what you're saying but kids have been forcibly man-handled by SMC leaders before. I myself have been on the receiving end when I was growing up in SMC and the times that I was forcibly removed were times when my parents were not actually attending the meeting themselves. This happened to me and my friend on a number of occasions when we were between the ages of about 7 and 12. Each time we were removed from a meeting - by being dragged out by the arm and roughly shoved into a side room or the ladies toilet - our only offence was that we were not paying attention to the speaker, who had already been spouting for an hour or more and expecting us to sit rock-still and quiet the whole way through the services.

It's in no way anything like sexual abuse but it is abuse never the less. Adults should not be expecting kids to sit still and quiet as 'church mice' for over an hours' worth - sometimes up to three hours' worth - of preaching which meant absolutely nothing to the young kids being expected to sit still and listen. This is Victorian type - kids should be seen and not heard - mentality. And it DOES damage kids - it certainly damaged me all those years ago.

From the point of view of current legislation set out to protect children - not even a teacher can lay a hand on a pupil without being in jeopardy of losing their job. We're not talking just laying on of hands and praying for kids but forcibly dragging them from the hall in front of everyone and then further shaming them by demanding public apologies for their lack of interest in what the long-winded speaker was saying at the time.

It's no coincidence that you will rarely hear a peep from children at SMC services - parents are taught to discipline their children and keep them deathly quiet during all services or they themselves will be told, publically, to remove the wanton child from the hall if they can't keep it quiet. This does not happen in ANY other church I have attended since. And kids who attend services sans parents are under the jurisdiction of the leaders who are present and they can and will forcibly remove a child they believe is being naughty by not listening intently to them for several hours.

So, sorry but I have to disagree fervently with you on this one - since there are more people here than me who have experienced or seen this kind of treatment of kids who are just being kids. Again, I have to say, you will NOT find this kind of treatment of children in ANY other main-stream church (at least not any that I've been to anyway!).

As always huge love and huggggggs to all
God Bless xxx

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: May 09, 2013 08:23AM

Archbishop Laud
You may not ever have witnessed a child being manhandled by SMC leaders but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened or doesn't happen. Covlass has told us, on here, her eye-witness account of what she saw happen to a child in the Cumbernauld church. I don't think she would have made up that story. I believe her completely. People can choose whether to believe her account or not, but she has described what she witnessed and said how upset she felt at the time and still feels. I dont think it wise to doubt or discredit her account. That is how abuse is allowed to continue; the victim and/or witnesses are disbelieved and the perpetrator carries on. SMC folk will of course choose to disbelieve Covlass, but the others who were present at church that day, saw it happen too and can't deny it. The child will remember it too.

Child abuse is defined as "physical, sexual or emotional ill-treatment of a child by its parents or other adults responsible for its welfare." No-one is saying that there is sexual abuse going on, but what Covlass saw surely fits the "emotional ill-treatment" part of the definition. Cbarb has told us her own story aswell, about how the leaders dealt with her whilst growing up within SMC circles.

I posted a while back about how I witnessed the treatment of an 11 year old boy at a Camp by a female SMC leader, which the boy came and told us about himself because he was so upset. The treatment was wrong and in no way necessary in order to keep a young boy in line. Parents should have been informed but weren't.
I also once witnessed a lady with severe mental health problems being taken by an arm in a strict manner, and moved to the back of a meeting because she was moving too enthusiastically to the music and deemed to be a distraction. She wasn't. The lady was terribly upset and didn't return for about 5 weeks. She received no apology and no explanation.

These are, to my mind, examples of the abuse of vulnerable individuals by SMC leaders.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: May 09, 2013 09:12AM

HI Archbishop Laud

Long-time no see. I do understand what you are saying and I know there is a fine line when bringing up a child with a fundamental belief system and how some people could perceive this as child abuse of some sort. My sister is a very staunch Jehovah's Witness and brought my two nieces up this way. I personally did not agree and was not happy when she did not allow them to celebrate birthdays and Christmas and thought it was a bit harsh to take such joyful times away from children. (If I'm honest I felt a bit hard done by myself as I loved to visit at Christmas and see the magic on their faces as they came downstairs to a big pile of presents that 'Santa' had brought for them)

However, I would not have accused her of child abuse. She was simply trying her best to bring her children up, the best way that she knew how. Her intentions were honest and even if I say so myself, she was a good mother and has brought up two wonderful young women. Even though neither of them are Jehovah's Witnesses any longer, they are, on the whole grateful for the upbringing they had.

What I have seen and have heard of with Struthers is a different story however. Let me reiterate once more that I am IN NO WAY accusing anyone of child sex abuse. I do sincerely apologise if anything I have said has made anyone think this is what I am saying. My reference to Jimmy Savile et al was in relation to how these acts of sexual abuse have remained hidden for years and now suddenly it's like the floodgates have opened and things that were unimaginable to most, have come to light. In the same way, many have maybe thought that Struthers church was an ordinary church, whilst others have known the other side. The leaders were 'getting away with' treating people in the most despicable manner and most people were too scared to speak now. Now, it seems the whistle has been blown and those in authority are starting to sit up and take notice.

I must however, disagree over your point that no abuse of children has taken place. I have seen first-hand a child of about 7, being man-handled by Diana Rutherford, who grabbed this girl by the arm and pulled her out of the meeting hall. I then later saw this girl in floods of tears as she was mad to apologise. Others, such as Cbarb have experienced this treatment first hand.

I think that most on this forum, will agree that the experiences doled out to many of the adults here was cruel and abusive. Obviously I was not there as a child but many have testified to how they received similar treatments as children and young teenagers. I have heard stories of teenagers being told God was angry with them, of leaders telling them they were only interested in certain individuals in the group and had no interest at all in the others because they were not making the grade, of them being encouraged to share their deepest darkest 'sins' with leaders and being told that their struggles were due to demonic possession. I have also read of how a girl was told by Struthers leaders, to have nothing to do with her father, because her parents had split and her father had left SMC. Some still bear the scars of their treatment as children in Struthers.

I suppose at the end of the day it depends on how you define abuse. I have taken a quote from the University of Illinois website that defines emotional abuse.

"Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults. Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased.

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching,” or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones"

I think that rather succinctly sums up how some adults AND children/young people have and possibly still are being treated at Struthers.

That said, I do genuinely understand where you are coming from. We do live in a world where one constantly has to watch ones back to ensure that they are not saying anything to upset someone else and yes it is a real concern that perhaps one day, teaching a child that the Bible is truth, could be considered child abuse. However, I think if Struthers leader had done that alone, yes it would attract some criticism. Often from young adults on atheist websites, upset at how they were made to go to church as children and what a complete load of hogwash they now thought it all was. My personal experience and that of others, tells me that the situation at Struthers is in a whole new league to this.

Anyway, nice to hear from you again,

God bless


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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Ifellaway ()
Date: May 09, 2013 07:08PM

Archbishop Laud, Hello .
While we are here to share and that means something different for everyone, to deny child abuse within smc and say suggesting it is unsafe and unwise is, itself, unhelpful. Define a robust court please, because there is a growing pool of evidence and I know what I've seen.
Not only that, but it seems that with a couple of comments, you momentarily forgot the testimonies given here.
I think, or hope that you meant specifically sexual abuse. which no one here has said. Yet there has been child abuse containing unlawful practices and some do have the sexual element. Certainly, locally we have magistrates etc that absolutely fall on this side of the line: If you interfere with a young person's social or sexual development, you are commiting child abuse. I don't know any laws that state otherwise. Do you mean it would be hard to prove? It does seem a tenuous link. But untrained and unpermitted adults advising youngsters they are temporarily responsible for,on sexual sin is unlawful. Fact. There is too much potential for negative outcomes. It is just wrong and inappropriate and dangerous.
Perhaps we should avoid comparison to the events that sparked op utree, but the I have only used that as an example of how these things can possibly occur in the first place. It is all about the shifty, evasive culture. It reeks but is more sinister in light of what we know CAN happen.
I am still very much in denial that i have been a victim of this smc...most of the time. But recently mentioned to someone about the length of time we were often on our knees for over an hour. We were encouraged not to seek comfort and the numbness in our legs was a valuable reminder of how much Christ suffered for us. This may be a salient point, but I can't kneel anymore. I'm not a doctor of medicine so I won't state possible causes for this. I should blame myself,I suppose, for trying too hard to impress the leaders and those I wanted to emulate. Fine, I accept that if I had had more gumption as a 10 year old, I would have risen and quietly made for the door to stretch my legs at least once every hour, as would be medically advised.
But definitely I witnessed one lad my age being overpowered by an adult to calm his (admittedly outrageous) behaviour. This wasn't done using postive handling and there was no attempt at deescalation. I remember it as bullying. He was from a difficult background and should been shown exceptional patience as he was the victim of enough bullying from adults. That adult knew this. I have no doubt he would handle the same situation today with more wisdom and patience.
For you to deny child abuse at Struthers is wrong. If that kid, now a man who has passed through years of violence and some prison time for it; well if he read that people are denying outright his experiences he would hop in his car and seek his own justice. As it is he is happy that we recognize he was treated unfairly. It is his closure.
But Archbishop Laud, you know what you meant and as a valuable contributor here, please could you clarify that you are not saying child abuse never could happen.
I remember my time at smc fondly, and am therefore probably guilty of trying to excuse the actions of some. It is like they have this outer shell of influence (I must be well within it...though I have no contact with smc anymore). These people, perhaps like me, still cling onto a naive defence of some of their actions. It is this outer shell that protects the church itself. The defenses and denials happen outside of the smc enable the culture to continue. We have to be mindful...
But I totally get your point (I hope...) about "p.c. gone mad!". It is a minefield for any doctrine nowadays. But every other church and organization have to adapt and comply. And they do because they accept changes to society. Smc are not really getting the message. If they want to exist outside of the law and/or guidelines,then they are unsafe, and unwise....which we already knew.
I really only want to follow tangible lines of enquiry too and muddying of waters and hinting at stuff that hasn't happened is unwise. But on testimonies here alone, there is well enough to bring criminal proceedings, and win. And the fact that this is not happening is not because it should not. More like it is a revelation of the non-pettiness of smc victims....not that wanting justice is petty! It's just that people here are more concerned with prevention of further damage than they seem to be about seeking justice for themselves.
Much respect to you for your contributions and I detect that you are kind and fair and understanding. It really made me worry to see you say that child abuse cannot have happened. Or that it is unsafe to suggest it. Frankly I thought you were trying to threaten me, in your capacity as smc-mole-in-rick-ross. But paranoia is another story. My problem. lol.
Anyway, sorry. I value your input but please could you confirm that you just meant it could be unhealthy for us to use such extreme and public examples of abuse as comparable events? I'm just a little unclear..
Thanks for trying to maintain the fairness, credibility and level-playing field. I just feel that you saying things couldn't have happened might mean you are still trying to defend the good guys you remember, but by doing that we just enable the rotten leadership to continue (secondary shere of influence....??)
Regards either way, and, of course, happy days to all, Ifellaway

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Archbishop Laud ()
Date: May 10, 2013 02:46AM

Hello again.

I have been asked to clarify, so I will, although I am sorry that I cannot enter a long correspondence so if anyone does not like what I am about to say I will not be able to respond. Just too busy at the moment.

Q. Is there child abuse in Struthers?
A. No.

Q. You mean just sexual abuse?
A. No.

Q. You mean physical manhandling as well?
A. Yes.

Q. But isn't demon exorcism child abuse?
A. No; quite the reverse. It is meant as tough love.

Q. What about dragging a child out of a meeting?
A. That is not child abuse either; grow up!

Q. Hours on knees in prayer?
A. Seriously!

Q. But children get upset.
A. I am sorry.

Q. Shouting at children?
A. I don't like this either, but it isn't the end of civilisation as we know it.

Q. Public exposure?
A. One reason why I left Struthers. Yet not in the category of abuse.

Q. Smacking?
A. No, even that is not (necessarily) child abuse.

Q. So you don't think any child abuse happens in Struthers?
A. You got it.

Q. Then you are not one of us?
A. Please read my earlier posts and you'll see my position; I am with you on most issues. I would like to see Struthers Memorial Church opened up and radically reformed. Cannot get clearer than that. Just don't lob the legal nuke called Child Abuse at it.

Adieu for now. You are all good people.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: May 10, 2013 12:40PM

Hi folks

Interesting stuff here, OK so telling of experiences where you feel you were emotionally damaged by someone, unnecessarily might not be very savoury but they are very real experiences. Granted, when I was growing up in the church there weren't the kinds of safe-guards for young folk that there are now - I mean, we even got the belt at school in those days!!

ArchbishopLaud, I do find your stance on the 'demon' issue a little scary. Where there is real demon possession, there is absolutely no doubt what so ever that there is something badly wrong. And exorcisms, as far as I'm concerned should only be carried out by those who are properly qualified and called by God to do so.

I do not believe, for one second, that 'deliverance' sessions of this nature, and with such regularity, are in the least bit healthy for any child to sit through or witness. Exorcisms are very dangerous to perform around young and pliable minds never mind around adults. You might as well go and tell the kids to play with a Ouija board don't you think?

Only this is on the opposite side of the scale but no less bizarre to be involving youngsters in such dangerous practices. I was not joking when I recounted the story of the man having an epileptic fit. I was afraid, no I was actually terrified, for many years afterwards that the demons which had been apparently 'cast out' of the guy had found me! After all, Miss T was always going on about how Jesus cast out the demons and they had to go somewhere - so Jesus sent them into the pigs so they didn't get near the humans. Well, I can assure you, that day at camp, there wasn't a single pig in sight although I was praying my socks off that God would send some pigs for the demons to go into so they'd leave me alone. I can tell you that haunted me for years, much more than being dragged out of a service because I couldn't sit still for any longer than half an hour on those coconut-hair mats!

That aside, if child abuse is too unsavoury to talk about, there is also the abuse of vulnerable adults and even not-so-vulnerable adults, who get sucked in by the subtle mind-control tactics.

There's also a testimony of a young girl being 'smuggled' into meetings against her parents express wishes - is that abuse? I don't know, I'm no expert but I'm sure it's not what God would want - He says that you should honour your mother and father, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. So does that not apply if you want to attend SMC against your parents wishes? And there we have it, folks - we're back to the special anointing, the 'holiness' and the narcissistic belief that the 'chosen ones' are not accountable to anyone but God. And I have a feeling that even He must be losing patience with them now!

Then there is banning and shunning former members, lying about why they are no longer there and forbidding members to have any contact with them even if they are family? Is that abuse? Again, I don't know, I'm no expert but it's still against the teachings of the Bible even if it isn't against any laws of the land.

So I guess we can wait and see what happens with the coming investigation and still have plenty to say about abuse - even without the 'child' element, although I believe that kids are being brainwashed, into believing the whole 'holy and anointed' flim-flam just as much as the adults are and that too is unhealthy. Is it abuse? Again, I'm no expert.

Thankfully, there are people out there who are experts and I'm sure they know their jobs and will be able to decide what is important and real evidence and what is just normal child disciplining. People can only relate their experiences, it's up to the experts to decide what those experiences amount to.

AS always biiiiiiig love and huge hugggggggs
God Bless xxx

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Ifellaway ()
Date: May 10, 2013 06:46PM

Q. Hours on knees in prayer?
A. Seriously!

That's a bit personal. You just called me a liar. Archbishop Laud.
You are entitled to your opinion, of course.
For the longest time (and in some part, still even now) I too wouldn't believe the truth either.
I personally have been called worse. I think it's a shame that you are still under the delusions but in the meantime it is unhelpful to just rubbish claims here.
I suspect you even more now. Here to cause divisions? It's clear that you don't mind risking causing offence, at the least.
Your answers are dismissive and 100 % denial. You are either pretty insensitive, rude and deluded: or you are what I think you are and just as welcome to say your piece.
Anyway, please stop trying to lower the tone of a well-reasoned discussion by being insulting. I am not lying. And I believe other accounts of child abuse here.
I apologize if it seemed I started this by asking for clarity. I meant you no disrespect, but I needed to understand your position better. I think I do now, so thanks for that.
Also, I really was choosing words carefully so as not to offend you or belittle your opinion. Sorry if I failed. Really.
Please stay on the forum as a do I firmly believe your input is valuable and you are a respected poster. Been here longer than me...if my presence bothers you I will leave the discussion, rather than risk the forum missing out on your posts, or even risk offending you further. Sorry brother.
Faithfully yours, Ifellaway

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