It is rare that I get negative emails in response to my website. I believe a main reason why I do not is because I try to take care in how I present my writings, do not write with venom, and give plenty of links to UPC and Apostolic material. In fact, present Oneness Pentecostals have at times written articles that they have allowed me to present on the website and even asked me to add one of their articles or videos to the site. Every so often a negative email arrives and one came on Monday from a man who I believe is an ordained minister in the United Pentecostal Church.
But operating a website on spiritual abuse, which has the United Pentecostal Church as its secondary focus, causes some people to hate and pray against me and envision in their minds all manner of negative things about me. It just comes with the territory. I am not intimidated by a minister (or anyone else) and the things which might work in their churches with members (to place fear into them or cause them to get in line or be quiet about something), no longer works on me.
I believe this is the Glenn T. Howard, Jr. who wrote this email. It would appear that this is the article on the website that he read and references. It is the only one I have written that includes a section on David Bernard and I mention nothing personal about him, nor do I “demean his ministry” or consider him a “phony”. I am sharing Howard’s email in its entirety and wish to use it as an example of what happens when a person brings up a problem in an unhealthy church or group. In fact, I have a section about it in the article mentioned. Last year in one of my blog posts, I wrote, “The pastor, who is insecure and feels threatened, decides that there really isn’t anything wrong, that it is simply YOU. You are rebellious, a trouble maker, trying to stir up strife or division, you are unteachable, backslid…. There are a number of possible reasons why YOU have become the problem.”
The above is exactly what this man does in his email. Instead of addressing the elephant in the room, he attempts to place the focus on me. Perhaps I am one of those atheists, trying to “magnify my own ego” since he claims to not know of my beliefs, even though they are clearly posted on the website along with my UPC background. The reasons for the website are also plainly shared. Both sections of the website have been available for many years.
In addition, he is reading the article more than two years after it was originally posted. He missed all of the then transpiring online talk and some false information and misunderstandings that were spread. That is part of the reason for the “volume of minutae” it contains as it was edited on an almost daily basis at the time. There were several different issues that came into play. In addition, if I didn’t share things to back what I was writing, my claims would be called into question and dismissed. Clarifications were being made, UPC related material disappeared from online, and incorrect information was continuing to be shared by ministers and members of the organization. Many had questions about what was happening and I did my best to find answers and pull it all together. It started mainly as an article on Lee Stoneking and his speech at the United Nations and then also grew into a focus on UPC minister Art Wilson and his ministry there, along with conflicting reports and statistics given by various licensed UPC ministers.
Consider what Glenn T. Howard, Jr. does and does not do in this email. He never addresses any of the problems or conflicting statements mentioned in the article, but focuses on me and my motives. He makes me the problem. Note how that the only possible motivations he considered for me were all negative. Bad, bad, Lois! How dare I write any article on Lee Stoneking or mention inconsistencies or untruths. Though some were giving false information and distorting what happened, I am the problem and my motives must be considered wrong.
He doesn’t address things that have been shared by UPC ministers that have been proven to be untrue. Is it OK for them to give false information or claims and should they never be called out for such things? Why is calling them out on these things considered to be demeaning them? I didn’t say or write them; they did. Yet I am compared with an atheist having a wrong motivation simply because I wrote about these things.
Is sweeping it all under the rug what should be done; should the elephant in the room never be acknowledged or mentioned? Is it only doctrine that should be discussed? If a minister tells an untrue story or misrepresents facts, should such things be allowed or ignored because they have a “ministry”? Why is it that when such things are pointed out, the one doing so gets accused of saying or thinking things about people which they never did? At least in this communication I wasn’t threatened with hell.
Here the email in its entirety:
Having reviewed your lengthy blog concerning Lee Stoneking/David Bernard/UPCI in general, I must confess that while disagreement on a number of issues embraced by the UPCI et al is not uncommon, I fail to see why such a volume of minutae is a deemed necessary to disprove that with which we disagree.
In the long run, what difference does it make? Are your writings designed to be a kind of rescue operation to get people out of the clutches of a major pentecostal “cult”? I note too, that for some reason many atheists feel this deep seated need to broadcast their opposition to God in general and Christianity in particular, even to the point of intense ridicule. Surely there can be no doubt that their motivation, when the layers are peeled back, is to magnify their own ego. It gives them great pleasure to do those things that, in their mind, makes them feel they are “winning”.
Which makes me wonder- what is really your own motivation in producing the (evidently) highly researched material that shows up on your blog? Are you on some kind of crusade that somehow gives you a sense of worth?
If the Bible is true, and if the apostles of Jesus preached the truth of God, and if we find that truth in the book of Acts in the history of the establishment of the early church, and if that truth consists of the necessity of repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, and if a great number of people have embraced their doctrine and have given their lives to God, what is the big issue? What possible good can be derived from denigrating the ministries of Stoneking, Bernard et al? By “exposing” them for the phonies you apparently believe they are- what does this accomplish?
It is one thing to take issue because of doctrinal disagreement. There is a time and place to dispute error, of that there is no doubt, and some good can indeed come from it. But to demean the ministries of the men such as you have named, with such intensity… where do you hope to go with all that?
When all was said and done and you pressed that ENTER key for the last time, and sent your missive out into the ether did you feel a certain satisfaction that said “So there!” or “Take that!” ? And is this something that you plan to continue doing? Not knowing, of course, what your position is on issues, or whether or not you even believe in the truth of the Bible, and even if you do, I can’t help but wonder, doesn’t life hold more for you? I mean really, doesn’t it?
Glenn T Howard, Jr.
Since I have been operating the website since 1997, I think it is clear that I plan on continuing. 🙂 In fact, I already have someone who has agreed to take the reigns whenever I am no longer able to do so.
I leave you with a quote to consider from The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen:
The most powerful of all unspoken rules in the abusive system is what we have already termed the ‘can’t talk’ rule. The ‘can’t talk’ has this thinking behind it: ‘The real problem cannot be exposed because then it would have to be dealt with and things would have to change; so it must be protected behind walls of silence (neglect) or by assault (legalistic attack). If you speak about the problem out loud, you are the problem. In some way you must be silenced or eliminated.’ Those who do speak out are often told, ‘We didn’t have all these problems until you started shooting your mouth off. Everything was fine before you started stirring things up.’ Or else, to make it sound really spiritual, ‘You were angry- you didn’t confront the matter in a ‘loving’ way. So it proves you weren’t handling the matter in a mature, Christian manner.’ In either case, the problem remains.
The truth is, when people talk about problems out loud they don’t cause them, they simply expose them.