A Cry For Justice

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

Some Other Arenas of Choice for Abusers

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


Today I have been thinking about the mentality and tactics of abuse as they are found in other areas of our lives besides marriage.  We have already talked about how domestic violence abusers put on a Christian façade at church, and the other ways they operate in extended family settings.  But there seem to be other settings besides the home where other abusers primarily choose to work their evil sorcery.

All abusers share certain similar attitudes.  They all crave power and control and have a huge sense of personal entitlement.  I think that they are all sociopaths, or close to it – lacking a conscience.  They all use very similar tactics.  But I am wondering if some of them choose to operate on victims in other places besides the domestic setting – or perhaps in addition to it?  Primarily, I am thinking of the church.  The local church is the arena in which I have met most of the abusers I have known.  And while I suppose they had their victims at home (they are very good at hiding this), they also find victims at church.  (Others might find a victim in the workplace.  Do some reading about bullying and mobbing in the workplace to learn more about this).

Books have been written about spiritual abuse  in the local church but this is a field I have not read much about.  I know that abusers and unrepentant, grossly sinful people whom we have had to discipline in our church over the years would accuse us of being guilty of spiritual abuse.  But I think that a person experienced with the nature of abuse – its mentality and methods – would be able to sort those false charges out.  What we are talking about here is usually someone in leadership in a church who uses his position to gain power and control over others.  Isn’t the treatment that most domestic violence victims receive from their church leaders as example of that spiritual abuse?  “Look here now, sweetcheeks – you need to submit to what we are saying or else.”

Here is a pretty good scriptural example, in addition to the one in 3 John about Diotrephes —

2 Corinthians 11:19-20 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! (20) For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

I must say that churches who are teaching and enforcing the “Permanence View” of marriage and divorce and remarriage are guilty of spiritual abuse.  Yes, I charge them with it.  They teach that there is NEVER a reason for divorce.  And if a person divorces, then they cannot remarry until their ex spouse is dead.  No divorce.  Not for the most wicked abuse.  Not for adultery.  Never.  And I know of one church – an evangelical, Bible type church – in Missouri that enforces that position with church discipline if it is breached.  Run, I say!  Run for your lives!!  And never look back.


  1. I agree. We could probably all think of situations we’ve heard on the news where workplace bullying and/or professional misconduct has occurred. Usually the good people in the workplace who sensed that evil was being done were silenced, shamed, intimidated, or otherwise discounted. If a whistle-blower emerges to speak up, that person looses their mental health, their finances, and often their job (often they resign because they can’t stand the pressure of working amongst vipers any longer). We had the case of “Doctor Death” recently in Queensland. A surgeon was causing death and maiming people with arrogance and bluster, and bullied the whilstle-blower ( a nurse) mercilessly. Thankfully the surgeon is now exposed and I think de-registered too.
    But it’s much less rare that exposure occurs when the abuser is controlling people in the church. Rugs in churches tend to have a lot of rubbish swept underneath them.
    The issue is tied up with cults and false doctrine too, which makes it far more toxic than simple (“simple”?) workplace bullying and malpractice. Cults and anti-Christian beliefs are hiding out comfortably in some churches, churches that purport to be evangelical Christian congregations. I know, for example, of a church were one of the elders is a senior member of the Orange Lodge, which is a version of Freemasonry. He’s pulled the wool over the eyes of the congregation. And most people are too easy-going? lazy? naive? simple? trusting? well-meaning? scared? to bother about it, even though they’ve been warned by a whilstle-blower.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barbara – Yes, this is exactly what I have been thinking about. Sociopath, psychopath, abuser – whatever we call them, function in many areas of life. My own son who is a really good, skilled employee (yes, I’m biased) left a company because management simply refused to listen to his reports that a bullying, long-time employee was destroying the team and hurting their bottom line. They refused to listen. He left for a better job. She continues to do her nasty there. What in the world is the dynamic that makes this happen over and over again?

      In the church, I have been on the receiving end of these abusers for 30 years. It took me a long, long time to understand what was happening to me, and there were many times when I would have quit and never gone back to a church again, let alone pastor one. But the Lord sustained me. Church members just don’t want to know in many cases. If a power-seeking bully who parades as the finest saint in the church gets upset and leaves, then the pastor and/or the elders have the netherworld to pay. I can’t tell you how many times in secluded church hallways or in my office I have been on the receiving end of this kind of thing. Quite often it is the pastor who must leave, while the evil man (or woman) remains. By the Lord’s grace, that did not happen to me.

      • Anonymous

        Ps. Crippen,

        I’ve been blessed with really great pastors for the most part but upon being bullied and mistreated by a bully pastor, lied to, setup to look bad, subtlety mistreated, etc., by a pastor, no other, I’ve been unable to see church and pastors the same. Nothing is the same for me anymore.

        I love reading how others glorify God in their accounts, such as your, “But the Lord sustained me.” Same with “By the Lord’s grace, that did not happen to me.”

        Indeed, we are sustained by God every step of the way. The Apostle Paul was jailed, beaten, shipwrecked, and lowered out of a window, down a wall, to escape being killed, and God kept Paul alive and going throughout it all.

        God Bless!

    • Anonymous

      I read an article about corrupt systems where it is either conform or be crushed. Kind of like the abuser: submit or else!

      Whistleblowers are made out to be the ‘troublemakers’ and then targeted for elimination.

      Mobbing of all sorts.

      We live in a wicked, wicked world. Thankfully this ministry exists. I love God, love learning and growing in Christ and I’ve learned so much from this website! Praise the Lord! 🙂

  2. Finding Answers

    Any walk of life can provide an arena for abuse when power and control are rewarded.

    Many sociopaths fly just under the radar, manipulating people and circumstances under the guise of “looking out for the bottom line”. And in reality, many “c”hurches have become more concerned with “the bottom line”, be it money or “bums in seats.” (More people does not necessarily equate with more people.)

    I watch this locally, in “c”hurches full of the working poor and full of the moneyed professionals. Some are evangelical, some are Baptist, some are cults, and many more are non-denominational.

    Considering most of these people and / or their spouse are also employed locally, why would one be surprised they take their tactics outside the “c”hurch?

    “Tolerance” is a significantly overused word. Eventually, one has to draw a line in the sand. Unfortunately, line-drawing has many risks, as whistle-blowers and victims / survivors of abuse can attest. And the people with the most to gain by drawing the line also have the most to lose.

    I have watched people persecuted, publicly and privately. The “winner” is usually the one with the deepest pockets. Again, something to which whistle-blowers and victims / survivors of abuse can attest.

    Legalism promotes “power over”…”c”hurch, home, or the workplace. Sometimes a rule started innocently enough, when someone took advantage of “the system” for personal benefit. A loophole was closed. In the process, the rule-makers lost sight of the individual and became Pharisees. Something to which whistle-blowers and victims / survivors of abuse can attest.

    Evil is endemic wherever power and control are permitted to reign. Spiritual warfare goes beyond “”c”hurch deliverance ministry”. Spiritual warfare is more than quoting Scripture, laudable as it is to know on which Rock you stand. Spiritual warfare is not about winning power over, but winning power under.

    2 Corinthians 3:16-18 New Matthew Bible (NMB)
    (16) Nevertheless, when they turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

    (17) The Lord no doubt is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) And we all behold the glory of the Lord with his face revealed, and are changed into his likeness from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord.

    • anonymous

      What a distinct difference. Power and control, lording over, persecuting, exploiting, power over……versus…

      And where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty.

      This is an old post but I’m glad I saw it because of your comment, Finding Answers.

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