A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Meredith Miller on abuse dynamics — from the micro to the macro level.

Meredith Miller is a trauma coach. She teaches the mindsets, skills and actions to help people recover after relational trauma.

In this video she talks about cognitive dissonance, emotional short-circuiting, trauma based mind control, and awakening to the fact that you are being abused.

She describes how having power over others is addictive. The abuser wants to repeat the thrill of wielding power and control over others. In order to get the same thrill, the abuser will become more and more abusive over time. He cannot stop his slide into deeper wickedness. It is inevitable.

She discusses the similarities between inter-personal abuse at the micro level (one person abusing another) and systemic abuse right up to the macro level… families, social groups, cults, society at large.

For victims, she recommends the relentless facing of reality (writing a ‘sobriety list’). But the person has to want to know the truth. You cannot make a victim wake up. Awakening is always spontaneous — it’s a visceral experience.

Trigger warning. What Meredith says may trigger memories of abuse, or it may challenge some of your ideas about what is going on in the world.

I’m keen to hear your responses to Meredith’s presentation. I’m open to all your thoughts and responses. Please be kind to me and to other readers. We can have different opinions and perspectives but still be respectful to each other.

Meredith Miller is interviewed by Viviane Fischer and Reiner Fuellmich, Nov 12, 2021.  (Meredith’s name is mis-spelled on the screen.)

I’ll end this post with two scriptures that came to mind as I was watching the video.

There is a spirit of addiction to delusion in the wilderness. (Jeremiah 4:11 ABP)

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed on him, If you continue in my words, then you are my very disciples, and shall know the truth; and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32 NMB)

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Related reading

Does the victim recognize the abusive patterns? Yes, and no. And then, by degrees, YES!

The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and other labels which are used to discredit and pathologize victims of abuse

Discerning the difference between a victim and a liar: lessons from “Pride and Prejudice”

Most abusers claim to be victims. This is one of the reasons why genuine victims are often disbelieved when they disclose the abuse.

When both spouses are claiming to be victims, church leaders often find it hard to tell who is lying. It’s a dilemma for the church leaders, and it’s devastating for the genuine victim.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, has a wonderful example of an abuser claiming to be a victim. In the story, Mr Wickham cunningly deceives the main character Lizzy (Miss Elizabeth Bennett) by telling her a distorted account of his dealings with Mr Darcy. Wickham employs many of the tactics that intimate partner abusers use to target, groom and brainwash their victims.

I have long wanted to write a post analysing Mr Wickham’s tactics, but I have not found the time. So I was thrilled recently to find that someone had already done it!

The lying abusers who pose as victims: lessons from Mr Wickham by Christine Woolgar. Her blog is Light in grey places.

Here is the introduction to motivate you to read Christine’s whole post:

Having recently grown in admiration for Jane Austen as an author, my husband and I are rewatching the BBC’s 1995 six-hour adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. That’s the one where Colin Firth plays Mr Darcy. *swoon*

Anyway, we watched the scene where Mr Wickham (who later turns out to be the villain of the piece) introduces himself to Lizzy (the heroine).

… We’re in a world where abuse victims are routinely disbelieved and it’s far too easy to say, ‘What about false accusations?’ What we have with Wickham though is an illustration of how an abuser can lie and claim to be a victim.

Christine Woolgar analyses Mr Wickham’s first conversation with Lizzy. She then uses it to help us answer these questions:

  • How can we discern the difference between a victim and a liar?
  • What can we do to spot the lie?

I encourage you to read The lying abusers who pose as victims: lessons from Mr Wickham.

***

Note: I have not looked at all the material on Christine Woolgar’s blog, so I cannot say whether I endorse all her theology and beliefs.

Further reading

When we want to see good in everyone — a lesson from Pride and Prejudice

Lizzy blindly walked right into an evil intrigue without having a clue — a comment at ACFJ  by Under The Waterfall

How to spot an abuser who claims to be a victim

How the male intimate abuser selects, sets-up & grooms a target woman (Don Hennessy series part 3)

James Dobson’s article “A Violent Spouse”

What is wrong with James Dobson’s reply to this letter from an abused wife?  I invite my readers to analyse and critique the advice Dobson gives.

Note: Dobson’s article was published at his blog in 2015. It appears to have been scrubbed from his site now, but it can be found in the Internet Archive here: A Violent Spouse [Internet Archive link]

Some years ago we discussed Dobson’s response to this woman. But new people have followed the ACFJ blog since then, so it’s worth discussing again. This time I’m just laying it open to my readers: What do you think about Dobson’s advice? And what arguments can you present to refute Dobson’s advice?

Everything between the two sets of asterisks is pasted from Dobson’s blog post. Trigger warning when reading Dobson’s advice.

***

From the wife of a violent spouse:

Dear Dr. Dobson:

This is an extremely difficult letter to write, but I must have help.  My husband and I have been married twelve years, and throughout most of this time, he has had a secret problem. Only I know that he has a violent temper that is absolutely terrifying to me. He is a leader in our church and is a very prominent lawyer in our city. Everyone respects him highly. But when he is at home he is a different person.

At least once or twice a month he explodes over something the kids or I have done to irritate him, and he becomes furious. He yells, throws things, threatens me, and makes an awful scene. If I say the wrong thing or if I say anything, he beats me with his fists.

Last week he loosened three of my teeth and cut the inside of my lip. I really thought he was going to kill me! This happened because I failed to do some errands he asked me to get done. What bothers me is that the beatings are becoming more frequent and more violent as time goes by.

I don’t know what to do. I really do love my husband. He’s a fine man when he isn’t mad about something. He never shows this side of himself in public, even when he is frustrated. No one has any idea he is a wife abuser. I haven’t told anyone, and my husband would blow up if I asked him to go with me for counseling. No telling what he’d do if he knew I was consulting you!

So what can I do? I don’t believe in divorce. I am trying to be gentle and cautious at all times, but inevitably I step on his toes and he explodes again. I’m so tired of being beaten and then having to stay home for days to hide my bruises.

How do I deal with this situation?

Laura

The problem of wife abuse is reaching epidemic proportions in today’s families. The violence that is characteristic of the culture around us is being translated into husband-wife relationships and to parent-child interactions. Entire volumes have been addressed to this problem, and I am not likely to add to that understanding in the time and space allotted here. I can, however, offer Laura a condensed answer, which would be the basis for our work if I were counseling her personally.

As I see it, Laura only has four alternatives in response to her circumstance. They are:

1. Remain silent at home, walk on cracked eggs, and be the eternal conciliator.

She is taking this approach now, but is not succeeding. No matter how passive she becomes, she will eventually trigger the anger of her uptight husband.  Furthermore, she’ll pay a terrible price emotionally for living on a powder keg year in and year out. For the long term, this is not the answer.

2. Divorce her husband.

As a Christian, I agree with Laura that divorce is not the solution to this problem. Our purpose should be to change her husband’s behavior, not kill the marriage.

3. Proceed with an “emotional divorce,” remaining married but keeping herself detached and independent from her husband.

This form of “emotional isolation” will shield Laura from psychological pain, but it will make for a terrible relationship. I don’t favor it.

4. The ‘love must be tough’ response.

This is risky and psychologically expensive, but it is my choice and my recommendation. In essence, Laura’s husband is emotionally blackmailing her. He is saying by his behavior, “Do what I wish or I’ll beat you.” She must break out of that tyranny while she’s still young enough to cope with the consequences. This might be accomplished by forcing the matter to a crisis.

Change of behavior does not occur when waters are smooth, as we have seen; it sometimes happens after a storm. I would suggest that Laura choose the most absurd demand her husband makes, and then refuse to consent to it. Let him rage if he must rage. She should prearrange a place to go and ask friends or relatives to step in for assistance at that critical moment. Separate living quarters may be necessary until her husband settles down. He should be made to think that he has lost his wife over this issue, and in fact, I would recommend that she not return until there is reason to believe that he is willing to change. If that takes a year, so be it.

When (and if) her husband acknowledges that he has a severe problem and promises to deal with it if she’ll come home, a period of negotiations should follow. One of the conditions for reconciliation is competent Christian counseling for the psychological problem that is now apparent to everyone but the husband. By all means, Laura will need the support of Christian friends and counselors, especially during the time of crisis. And it goes without saying that the entire matter must be bathed in prayer from the beginning.

I can offer no guarantees that this advice will resolve Laura’s problem with her violent husband. But I believe it represents the best possibility for success. Let me ask those of you who disagree, what would you advise? Counselors suggesting that this frightened woman remain passive and submissive despite the abuse should have to look into Laura’s eyes and tell her that in person.

I don’t believe anyone should be required to live in that kind of terror, and in fact, to do so is to tolerate a behavior which could eventually prove fatal to the marriage, anyway.

From Dr. Dobson’s book Love Must Be Tough.

***

Related reading

James Dobson and showering with boys — by J L Flinch

Franklin Graham must answer for his bullying of domestic violence survivor Naghmeh Panahi — by Darrell Lucus. This article says some pertinent things about James Dobson.

James Dobson on Domestic Violence: Women “Deliberately Bait” Their Husbands — by Homeschoolers Anonymous

A “Gauntlet Down” Challenge to James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Other Christian Ministries of Fame

Comments made on James Dobson and Focus on the Family:

“The Truth About Men” — Isn’t this Horrible Philosophy in the Church?  (Comment by KayJay)

A “Gauntlet Down” Challenge to James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Other Christian Ministries of Fame  (Comment by Barbara Roberts)

Perception vs. Per”crap”tion  (Comment by Barbara Roberts)

Naghmeh’s story Part 2

Naghmeh Pahani’s second interview with Julie Roys has been published. I highly commend it. Naghmeh’s Story: Abuse and Betrayal Behind #SaveSaeed, Part II

If you have suffered domestic abuse, I think you will find things you relate to in Naghmeh’s story. If you want to help victims of domestic abuse, I think you will learn a lot from Naghmeh’s story.

Franklin Graham demanded that Naghmeh reconcile with her unrepentant abuser. Franklin accused Naghmeh of embarrassing and shaming her husband by exposing him publicly. He also instructed her to lie to protect her husband’s reputation.

Franklin didn’t care that Saeed had threatened to take the kids to Iran — where Naghmeh would stand no chance of getting them back. If Franklin’s plans had come to fruition, it is almost certain that Saeed would have been able to carry out that threat.

The bottom line was that Franklin didn’t believe Naghmeh was a victim of abuse because Saeed had not beaten her to a pulp every night.

How often have we heard that refrain? Christians who enable abusers have a faulty concept of domestic abuse. Usually their concept is confined to physical violence — which conveniently dismisses coercive control, emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, etc. Their concept of ‘physical violence’ is elastic in favour of the abuser, so they can say that whatever physical assaults the victim may have suffered, those assaults are not real abuse because they were not serious or frequent enough to qualify. All victims can be dismissed this way.

Franklin Graham’s sister, Anne Graham Lotz, told Naghmeh, “Franklin does not understand. And I also can tell you, Franklin is not a good listener.” Franklin didn’t want to understand. And he certainly didn’t want to listen to Naghmeh.

Franklin Graham runs a ministry in Alaska for army veterans who have PTSD. Many of those soldiers are abusing their wives. We can only guess at how many domestic abuse victims Franklin Graham has mistreated!

Naghmeh also tells how Jay Sekulow from the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) told her to lie. The ACLJ had helped her advocate for her husband’s release from jail, but when it became public that her husband was an abuser, they wanted to hose it down. Naghmeh says:

“The message I got from ACLJ was, ‘Now media is on this. We need to have a statement . . . What are we going to say to the media? We can say you’re on medication and you are mentally ill.’”

Again, this is a typical refrain from abusers and their enablers: “The woman is crazy — mentally ill.”

Naghmeh refused to lie. She told Sekulow that she was seeing more clearly than she had in years. I would love to have seen Sekulow’s face when he realised he could not bully this woman!

In the interview Naghmeh gives glory to God for providentially protecting her from unsafe meetings with Saeed. I found that aspect of Naghmeh’s story inspiring and encouraging. All the scary things that happened to Naghmeh, God has used for good to strengthen and build up Naghmeh. She is now helping abused women in the Middle East. She deplores the celebrity culture in the American church. I’m sure that her interview with Julie Roys will have ripples all round the Christian community. Those who have ears to hear will hear. Those who have stiff necks will harden their hearts further.

An excerpt from Julie Roy’s introduction:

In this second of a two-part podcast with Naghmeh, you’ll hear audio from an intense meeting Naghmeh and her pastor had with Franklin Graham and Saeed in 2016. Julie also shares emails between Franklin and Naghmeh, where Franklin calls Pastor Saeed a “hero” and rebukes Naghmeh for revealing her husband’s abuse and embarrassing him.

You’ll also hear about a surprise visit to Naghmeh’s house that Franklin Graham arranged by flying Saeed, his parents, two counselors, and a bodyguard to Boise on a private jet.

And you’ll hear part of a campus-wide gathering at Liberty University where Saeed is praised as a “hero of the faith.” This convocation happened several months after Naghmeh went public about Saeed’s abuse.

Go here to listen the interview / watch it on video / or read the transcript.

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Related reading

About Naghmeh Panahi — born in Iran in a Muslim family, Naghmeh sought God and became a Christian at age 9. She is now sharing the gospel and helping abused women in the Middle East.

Tahrir Alnisa Foundation — Tahrir Alnisa means “setting women free.” This is the work Naghmeh is now involved in. They say: “We are a team of women who know what it’s like to be abused or to help those who have been abused by someone they love. We help women escape and recover from domestic abuse.”

Part 1 of Naghmeh’s interview: original on Julie Roy’s site and featured here on  A Cry For Justice.

Naghmeh Abedini tells of abuse and betrayal behind #SaveSaeed — interview by Julie Roys

Naghmeh Abedini Panahi endured horrific abuse from her husband Saeed, who was a pastor. Like most Christian women who are abused by their husbands, it took Naghmeh many years to realise that she was an abused woman. The purity culture in churches, common misinterpretations of Proverbs 31 and other scriptures, her Iranian cultural background and her husband’s coercive control all worked to condition her to put up with and minimise her husband’s bad behaviour. For years, she blamed herself and tried harder to make the marriage work.

Naghmeh became famous for advocating for her husband’s release from an Iranian jail. Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) was one of the celebrity Christians who supported Naghmeh’s campaign. Franklin Graham is CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

When it came out that Naghmeh’s husband was abusing her, she was betrayed and abandoned by Franklin Graham and other well known leaders.

Journalist Julie Roys has interviewed Naghmeh. Naghmeh is telling her story in far more detail than she has told it before. Here is part one of what will be a two part series by Julie Roys.

Ex-Wife Tells of Abuse & Betrayal Behind #SaveSaeed. At the link you can listen to the podcast or read the transcript, whichever you prefer.

In this interview, Naghmeh gives a lot of detail about the ways Saeed abused her. She describes how Franklin Graham gave her significant support when she was advocating for Saeed’s release from jail. The support he gave helped Nagmeh’s campaign, but it also helped Franklin’s profile. Franklin Graham’s following on social media grew astronomically while he was promoting #SaveSaeed.

Naghmeh says that while Franklin Graham was supporting her campaign to get Saeed released from jail, Franklin gave her “honorariums” (gift$). He also provided a private jet to fly Naghmeh to speaking engagements. Naghmeh says the flights and honoraria were paid for by either Samaritan’s Purse or the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. When Naghmeh asked Franklin to stop giving her these freebies, he insisted on her accepting them. My questions: Was Franklin trying to make Naghmeh feel obligated to him? Was he buying her loyalty in advance so that if he ever mistreated her she would feel too indebted to him to speak out?

When it came out that Saeed had been abusing Naghmeh for their entire marriage, Franklin Graham did a 180 and betrayed Naghmeh.

I am glad that Naghmeh is now naming the celeb leaders who betrayed her.  Clearly, she has not been swayed by Franklin Graham’s gifts.

Franklin Graham bullied and betrayed Naghmeh

Franklin Graham

In a three way conversation between Franklin Graham, Saeed and Naghmeh which took place in 2016, Franklin Graham mutualised and minimised the problem of Saeed’s abusiveness. Franklin butted in and interrupted Nagmeh when she was trying to say that Saeed’s abuse needed to be dealt with. Read Franklin’s words below, which I have copied and pasted from the transcript of part one, linked above.

JULIE ROYS
Well, we’re going to pause on Naghmeh’s story there. But in part two of this podcast, you’ll hear what happened in those phone calls with Franklin Graham and Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ—or American Center for Law and Justice. After learning of Naghmeh’s horrific abuse, did they respond with support? Or, was the abuse a public relations nightmare they needed to erase?
Again, you’ll hear all about that in part two of this podcast.
You’ll also hear exclusive audio obtained by The Roys Report of a meeting in 2016 between Naghmeh, Franklin Graham, and Saeed. Here’s just a short clip from that meeting.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: “It takes two people to make it work. If you want to make this work, you’re going to have to move a little bit. Okay? Somebody’s going to have to move a little bit.”

NAGHMEH PANAHI: “I’m sorry, but in abuse”

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: “Don’t tell me you’re sorry because it doesn’t matter to me, Naghmeh.”

NAGHMEH PANAHI: “I’m sorry Saeed, but the abuse has to be dealt with.”

Franklin Graham was bullying Naghmeh in this three way conversation.

  1. He was telling her not to say something.
  2. He was telling her he did not care about what she wanted to say.
  3. He deployed the false notion that “it takes two people to make it work”. Authority figures often say that to try to guilt the oppressed person into changing to appease the oppressor.
  4. Franklin Graham was enabling Saeed and betraying Naghmeh.

For readers who don’t know much about Naghmeh, here is the blurb from Julie Roy’s post Ex-Wife Tells of Abuse & Betrayal Behind #SaveSaeed.

Naghmeh Abedini Panahi made national news in 2012 when she publicly advocated for the release of her then husband, Saeed Abedini, who was imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith. Through Saeed’s imprisonment Naghmeh was not only able to bring worldwide attention to the plight of the persecuted Christians, but she was also able to proclaim the Gospel to millions of people worldwide by speaking to governments, human rights groups, and major news outlets. When it came to light in 2015 that Naghmeh had been abused throughout her marriage by her “hero” husband, the Christian community turned on her. Though Naghmeh was judged, abandoned, and rejected by the Christian community, she trusted in Jesus to be her defense and to fight her battles. Naghmeh’s story is a story of God’s amazing rescue and restoration.

***

Part 2 of Naghmeh Abedini Panahi’s story can be found here.

Further reading

Billy Graham was corrupt — This post presents evidence that Billy Graham was a 33rd Degree Freemason. It gives documentary evidence that Billy Graham was present when Jim Shaw was initiated into the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry. At those ceremonies, only men who being initiated or have already attained the 33rd Degree are allowed to be present. Jim Shaw later became a Christian and renounced all his Masonic vows.

Why is it so hard to get justice for abuse in the church?  — In my Twitter thread on Billy Graham and Franklin Graham. I encourage all Christians to read the evidence which I present in this thread. You do not need your own Twitter account to read it.

Billy Graham, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul are some of the “Untouchables” in the visible church

Articles on Naghmeh Abedini, who is bravely exposing the abusive behaviour of her husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini

Tillamook testimony concerning Jeff Crippen

Tillamook Speaks presents witness / survivor testimony from someone who used to belong to Jeff Crippen’s church in Tillamook. It is published by Sister, who is a regular commenter here.

The Tillamook survivor, “Chris” (a pseudonym), contacted Sister and myself. Sister and I know Chris’s real name but at Chris’s request we are not disclosing it. Chris told us another side of the Christ Reformation Church story (CRC Tillamook, formerly Idaville Bible Church). Chris’s testimony rings true to me in a similar way to many other testimonies I have heard from survivors of abuse.

If you read no more of what I am going to say here, I urge you to read Tillamook Speaks. But if you intend to read the rest of my post, I urge you to read Tillamook Speaks first.

In 2012, the year the ACFJ blog began, Jeff Crippen wrote an Open Letter to Pastors, preaching to pastors how they could confess mishandling a case of abuse. He wrote:

“What would happen in your church if you went before your people, after some genuine self-examination, and confessed to them that you have not done well in this matter. If you stated that you have created an oppressive environment for women. State that by God’s grace you are resolved to set about making it right? What if you went to any specific woman in a particular case you have handled, and confessed these things to her? And then set out to re-tool the culture of your church?”

Jeff Crippen did not do what he advised other pastors to do. He had vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Despite publishing his Open Letter to Pastors, Jeff has not gone to the former congregants that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

Jeff does not practise what he preaches. Jeff has rebuked Wayne Grudem because Grudem has not apologised for spiritually abusing those who have suffered spousal abuse . Here is an excerpt of what Jeff said:

I want to point out that Wayne Grudem offers no apology nor shows any remorse for or confession of the damage his erroneous teaching has caused for countless victims of abuse. He and his crowd (and its a big crowd) have for years refused to acknowledge that abuse is grounds for divorce. They have thereby put guilt and shame and condemnation on countless Christians who have gotten free from their abuser in spite of what the no divorce for abuse crowd said.

…Where is Grudem’s repentance of this? …Where is his godly sorrow for what he has done? I sure don’t see it.

Jeff has not apologised to the people he spiritually abused in Tillamook, yet he admonishes Grudem for not apologising! I have concluded that Jeff is the kind of man he warns others to have nothing to do with: a hypocrite of the highest order. Therefore I cannot shirk my duty to warn people about Jeff.

I thank Chris for having the courage to reach out to me. I thank Sister for compiling Chris’s story and publishing it in Tillamook Speaks . I thank both Chris and Sister for being patient with me while I was procrastinating on writing this post because I was ploughing through heavy emotions — fear, anxiety, self-accusation and shame.

Think about the warnings the apostles gave about power-mongers in congregations who were lording it over the flock. For example, the apostle John denounced Diotrephes for always wanting to be first and lording it over the congregation. Perhaps Diotrephes was verbally teaching sound doctrines, but his conduct was inconsistent with sound doctrine because he was bullying the congregation (3 John 9-11). I think you would agree with me that Jeff has written good articles about how to identify abusers. I have seen Jeff write good doctrinal articles. But now I know that Jeff’s pattern of conduct is the very opposite of what he preaches.

How Chris made contact with us

In 2019, Sister published her first article Jeff Crippen is Unsafe. It got very little traction. At some stage, Chris found that article and contacted Sister. Then Chris contacted me. Chris told us another side of the CRC Tillamook Church story.

In private correspondence to Sister and myself, Chris named the names of people I met in the Tillamook congregation. As well as knowing their names, Chris knows what happened to those people under Jeff’s leadership. Chris’s accounts matched what Jeff had told me about the people and events in the CRC Tillamook saga, the only difference being that in Jeff’s accounts he always depicted (and still depicts) himself as the victim, but in Chris’s accounts Jeff is the controlling, spiritually abusive, and cruel bully.

Chris told me:

When Jeff started writing about abuse, we hoped he would reach out and apologize to all those he had abused, but he didn’t. He just started writing about how we had abused him. It was…something. But when we thought about it, not shocking. Then people kept leaving, with similar stories.

[While we were in the church] he even organized book burnings, because we couldn’t read things he didn’t sanction.

I remember him laughing over an account of one of the Puritans beating a child “because he had it coming to him.” The child had refused to recite the Lord’s prayer to the preacher — a stranger.

When I first read his Open Letter to Pastors, I had so much hope. If I didn’t know, I would have been taken in by that open letter.

Jeff taught logic to some of the older kids. And he used it to presume to know what was in people’s hearts. “You did such and such a thing, therefore logic says you must be thinking…”. He misappropriated so many evil motives that simply weren’t there.

Jeff has never been balanced on the whole counsel of God. He spent years preaching Romans. He preached so many sermons that went something like “you might not be saved if…”. He basically taught that you can’t have assurance [of salvation].

There were many children in that congregation and I would expect there are still some children there. Can you imagine how terrifying it would be growing up in a church while being told “You might not be saved if…” from the pulpit every Sunday?

Many of the stories and names Chris disclosed privately to Sister and me cannot be disclosed publicly because the information is not in the public domain and we want to protect Chris from further abuse from Jeff and his loyal remnant. We also want to protect other current or former members of the Tillamook congregation whose stories of suffering mistreatment are only for them to tell, not us.

In my view, Chris demonstrated his / her veracity beyond reasonable doubt. I will now explain in more detail why I have come to that believe that.

Chris hesitantly reached out to me. I could see Chris’s fear and trepidation when Chris wrote to me. It was obvious that Chris was testing the waters to see how I would respond. That is one mark of a genuine victim of abuse.

As the conversations between Chris and I — and Chris and Sister — developed, we did not ask leading questions of Chris. Chris told us accounts of people and events that had happened at Tillamook. How Jeff spiritually abused Chris’s family, and what was done to and in other families who belonged to the church. Chris sent photos of diary entries which Chris had written at the time Jeff was perpetrating particular instances of spiritual abuse. A victim’s diary entries are pretty good corroborative evidence. Diary entries are often accepted as corroborative evidence in secular courts or public investigations of alleged malfeasance.

While Jeff and I were co-leading the ACFJ blog, I visited Tillamook twice, making the trip all the way from Australia at my own expense. I met the then members of the Tillamook congregation, went to church with them, hung out with them. During those times, in many face to face conversations, and before and after in emails and video calls, Jeff told me about things that had happened in the Tillamook congregation. He always painted himself as the victim of others. He named to me men who had been elders whom he had told to leave, and men who had resigned from eldership, leaving the church because they did not see eye to eye with Jeff. He described in detail what had happened in certain families. He expelled another elder while I was there on my second visit.

The names and stories Jeff told me matched the accounts Chris has told us, but Jeff’s accounts were deceptive because Jeff is the bully, not the victim.

You may be reluctant to accept Chris’s testimony. After all, Moses told the people of Ancient Israel that one person’s testimony is not enough to establish wrongdoing:

A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. (Deut 19:15)

But Chris’s testimony is not the only one.

My own experience of Jeff’s bullying

In 2018, Jeff bullied and vilified me. What he did is detailed in Sister’s article Jeff Crippen Is Unsafe which Sister wrote on her own initiative (I did not prompt or ask her to write it).

I published one blog post about Jeff’s bullying: Response to my detractors and apology to ACFJ followers I’ve hurt. I have done my best since to reform my communication style and my character so that I am less likely to say things in ways that come across as unfairly harsh or blunt. Some people still find me abrasive; that may or may not be a good thing. Jesus was abrasive to the wicked, warned the foolish, and was kind to the oppressed; my aim is to be more and more like him. But in contrast to Jeff, I did not go on and on about Jeff’s bullying of me. Unlike Jeff, I did not feature a message in the sidebar of this blog telling victims that I thought Jeff was unsafe. I did not constantly blazon to the world that Jeff had done wrong by me. No other advocates stood with me. Some of them reviled me publicly. Many other advocates have shunned me.

When the ACFJ blog went suddenly off-line in 2019, I did not tell the world that all the evidence pointed to Jeff having engineered that with his assistant TWBTC – The Woman Behind The Curtain. (TWBTC had promised me she would hand over to me the ability to pay the domain name renewal fee before it next became due. After leaving  ACFJ she betrayed me — she did not keep that promise. That story is detailed in Jeff Crippen Is Unsafe.) When the ACFJ blog went offline, I did not say publicly that they were trying to destroy the ACFJ blog. I kept my mouth shut. I had only three close cyber friends who helped me through that; those three people are pretty much ‘nobodies’ in the advocacy world. I managed to get a new domain (web address) for the blog and my assistant Reaching Out manually transferred every post and page on the blog over to the new address and fixed every broken link. By the skin of our teeth we kept the blog alive … so that every post and comment made at the blog is still online for readers to view and comment on.

The advocates who have shunned and reviled me — let God be their judge. If they have clubbed together to shun me, will not their judgement be even more severe? Let few be teachers, for teachers will be receive a stricter judgement (James 3:1).

It’s fine for advocates to expose abusers in churches, but when an advocate turns out to be an abuser, what happens? Advocates did not remain silent when so-called advocate Jon Uhler (Church Protect) lorded it over victims and betrayed Jimmy Hinton. Advocates did not remain silent when so-called advocate Jennifer Michelle Greenberg threatened Dee Parsons who runs The Wartburg Watch. But when Jeff bullied and betrayed me, advocates went silent, or they joined with Jeff in vilifying me.

Despite Jeff’s prophecy that I would go off the rails and be teaching weird heresy, I have not. No one has presented solid evidence to show that I am teaching heresy. Instead of presenting reasoned arguments that challenge my teachings, they just slander me and shun me. Ironically, the only person who challenged something I have written and caused me to revise what wrote has been Sister! (see here)

Sister published her first article Jeff Crippen is Unsafe in 2019. Although I agreed with most of it when it was published, Sister had labelled Jeff as a wolf in that article and I was reluctant to accept that as an appropriate label.

I did not publicise Jeff Crippen is Unsafe in 2019, because I knew that some people (especially those who ganged up against me) would assume I was giving Sister’s article publicity in order to get revenge on Jeff for what he had done to me. I was afraid of being publicly persecuted again. I was afraid of being sneered at by all the people who had ganged up against me on the ACFJ Facebook page when Jeff reviled me there in Sept 2018 (link).

More than a year has passed since then. When Chris contacted me, what he / she told me intensified my belief that Jeff Crippen is unsafe. Before Chris contacted me I had known that Jeff had been a duplicitous bully towards me… but I’d been making allowances for him and praying that his treatment of me was a somewhat isolated incident. Furthermore, I was aware that some survivors of abuse get help from the blogs which he started after resigning from the ACFJ blog. I was doing my best to wish his followers and him and TWBTC well… and striving to keep my hurt feelings to myself.

Over the years, some survivors of intimate partner abuse (both male and female) had told me they felt hurt and gravely mistreated by Jeff. I did not discount their testimony — I was keeping it in mind — but I was still reluctant to call Jeff a definite wolf. Perhaps I was being ‘too nice’. I was still struggling with my own hurt feelings about Jeff, and my hurt feelings from being maligned and shunned by so many other advocates.

Sister and Chris conversed a lot, and Sister drafted her article Tillamook Speaks. I have been privy to some of that process. When Sister shared with me more of Chris’s story, with some screen shots of Chris’s diary entries, I became REALLY angry at Jeff for how he has treated the people of Tillamook. Chris’s story removed that last vestige of reluctance I had to call Jeff a wolf.

I ask all the people of Tillamook who have been mistreated by Jeff to forgive me. Please forgive me for not being a person you might have wanted to reach out to for support. Please forgive me for promoting Jeff for so long. Please forgive me for having been deceived by Jeff.

I also apologise to the individuals who told me they felt hurt and mistreated by Jeff. One of them was a male survivor of intimate partner abuse; he told me a very credible account of how Jeff had treated him as a probable abuser. I am pretty sure I responded by email to each of those people’s disclosures, but I did not publicly do anything about it. I let it sit on the back burner. Please forgive me.

My shame

I have had to work through feelings of shame that I was ever a colleague and co-worker with Jeff. Shame that I felt so thrilled when he first contacted me asking for permission to quote a paragraph of my book Not Under Bondage in his book A Cry For Justice. Shame that I felt like a Deborah who had found her Barak. Shame that I was deceived by (yet another) abuser! Shame that I helped edit and publicise the written work of a spiritual abuser. Shame that he managed to publicly persecute me in the end. And shame that I felt such deep shame — I could not slough it off. Parts of me still cannot.

Those feelings of shame were a bit like the shame a woman feels when she discovers that her ex-husband has been sexually abusing their daughter on visitation. I know a woman whom that happened to. She told me she felt deep shame thinking about the fact that for years she had shared a bed (been one flesh) with a child molester. Even though the man only became a child molester after they had separated, she felt contaminated by his evil perversion.

I intend to write a short “caveat about Jeff Crippen” to put at the top of every post by Jeff Crippen on this blog. That is the least I can do to make amends.