Can an abusive religious leader be stopped?
Date: July 10, 2004 09:46AM
I just learned of this site and I feel I must post something about a particular religious leader in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I am a gay Christian and became involved with a church in the gay community of North Carolina several years ago. I don't know if I can name this guy or not, but I will anyway. If it is not allowed, just edit it out moderator - thanks!
The church is Holy Trinity Church and the Pastor's name is Jack McConnell. I have seen this church go from a real lively, uplifting, church a few years ago to what is now a dying group with a very angry man leading/bullying them around. I saw people come and go, stay and leave, but I never seriously asked the question regarding why most people left or simply did not stay in the first place. I guess I just did not want to hear the answers to that question.
Over the years, I got to know this man who preaches a legalistic, fundamentalist doctrine. I chose to ignore the people I saw him chase out of the church because they disagreed with him. I figured he was right and therefore they had to be wrong. However, these were people who I loved and respected. Staying in the church, I lost contact with these people. Meanwhile I saw this guy collect a pretty good financial package. He gets a pretty good salary, lives in the church-owned rectory, and also gets a very expensive health insurance package (among other things).
As with many of my friends, I remained extremely loyal to Jack McConnell, defending him to anyone who had anything but good things to say about him. Someone began referring to him as Bishop and it seemed to go to his head. I was uncomfortable with that. As people left both one-by-one and also by the hands full at times, I began to wonder why. I started examining what this guy was doing. This man has been and is currently practicing as a counselor. He does not seem to know the meaning of the word confidentiality. I would tell him things about me and I would hear them come back to me through others. As the church shrank, he wanted more money. That bothered me also. I actually heard this guy get up in front of a worship service and announce that there was going to be a love offering taken up for him and not just one but two. Then he announced he was going to get a well-deserved raise. Now I know that money is what this guy is all about. Most of his strongest supporters are those with money or decent incomes. In fact, the oldest (by age) member of that church is experiencing dimentia at times and has been taken for a new grand piano as well as other things I am sure. I have heard this so-called Christian leader state in front of myself and others that he actually hates certain people. He has also been a key factor in the break-up of another church not too far from him.
I decided to leave and, of course, he got upset. He denied all my observations and told me that someone else was filling my head with lies. I left. Since then I have had remorse, joy, depression, anxiety about others still in the group, self-doubt, and true thanksgiving that I was able to leave. Yes, I feel so stupid that I was duped for so long. By-the-way, I found all those people that had left previously. They had started another group and were having a great Christian experience. They told me that there was nothing they could do until I left that man's influence. Now I understand.
Isn't there anything I can do for all the others that are still there? or do they have to discover this on their own as my friends and I did? Can't something be done about this guy? I guess these are normal emotions for someone to experience coming out of a cultish group or out from under an abusive religious leader. Help! and Praise God![/size:83afc8aafa]