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.
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.
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.