In looking for something else, I recently came across the experience of a woman who joined the United Pentecostal Church and had been married to one of their ministers. She shared how her husband regularly lied when he spoke at churches and how she never said anything when he did. Below are some partial quotes from the article.
My husband was super-popular on the evangelism circuit and often asked to testify, but he lied constantly on the pulpit about having been an ex-Satanist (uh, no), ex-Wiccan priest (NO), and drug addict/dealer (NO NO NO). No, he wasn’t Mike Warnke–just very similar! I was expected to smile and nod and go along with the lies, or else I was standing in the way of God’s work. I began to wonder if everybody else was lying about praying and fasting–I knew we never did either, but he was telling people we did…
I’d already been questioning, but my faith actually broke on the awful day I ran across my husband’s training manual for his “Crisis Pregnancy Center” counseling position. It was like finding a serial killer’s diary, in retrospect; I remember turning pages and barely breathing, I was so beyond furious and horrified at the outright lies the group was encouraging, the faulty science, the utter manipulation of hearts and minds, all in the name of doing God’s work…
…I’d have put up with all of it and stayed with my husband, though, until he began to threaten me physically to bring me back into line. I fled the country immediately and was viciously, violently stalked for the next year and a half, through our divorce and right up to his wedding day to another woman.
This caused me to think about things I knew during my time in the same organization and what I had heard from others through the years. I began to wonder just how much of this happens in unhealthy churches and groups and how long the list might be for each of the various denominations. How many ministers preach one thing and yet live another life? How many lie about their background? How many don’t give true reports of alleged revivals, conversions, healings, and the like? While there are many people in the UPC and other churches who would not think of doing what this woman’s ex-husband allegedly did, there are ones who have done similar.
As people commented on what she shared, she elaborated on her ex-husband’s ministry. Read on….
I’m glad to talk more about the manual, though. It was a nightmare to read. It advised telling women whatever had to be said to get them to the third trimester–tell them you’ll give them food or housing, tell them you’ll help with the medical bills, WHATEVER. However, it did not outline any strategy for aiding them once they’d hit the point of no return, and my Evil Ex talked often about his victories in convincing women to keep their pregnancies, but did not ever speak of helping them afterward or even visiting them in the hospital. I asked him once about what his group was doing to help babies once they were born, and he just seemed shocked anybody would even ask. The manual also outlined how to create a properly manipulative atmosphere for women–putting baby toys in the foyer, making sure the CCTV played baby videos, describing what sorts of books and pamphlets should be available to read, how long to make women wait to see a counselor, etc. It was unashamed in admitting that the whole free pregnancy test offer it made was a front to get women in the door to talk them into keeping their babies. From the moment a woman walked into a CPC for her “Free pregnancy test,” she was bombarded with psychological assault. It also made a huge deal out of post-abortion stress syndrome, which I knew had been debunked even then (in the early 90s). And I can’t forget that almost every page was plastered with Bible quotes and that my Evil Ex at least viewed every encounter as a “soul-winning” battle, a view his supervisors seemed to fully support.
Why should any minister feel the need to lie about their past and make up sensational sounding stories about themselves? Why aren’t such claims checked by fellow ministers? What causes a minister to lie about praying and fasting? What does a minister teach certain standards but yet doesn’t follow all or some of them himself? How can a minister sign a bi-annual affirmation of faith and yet not truly believe or live what he is signing? Why do some turn a blind eye to such things and feel they are permissible?
Should someone be permitted to remain in the ministry who threatens another with physical harm, including their spouse? And how do some have affairs or sexually assault children or adults for months or years without being noticed or investigated by fellow ministers? Why do some pastors brag about having a board of ministers they are accountable to when those ministers will do nothing when any claims of improprieties are brought to their attention?
What about ministries which seem to be more about counting people and bringing fame to those in charge, while neglecting the care and welfare of those they are supposed to be helping? Why do some ministers feel the need to exaggerate the number of people who are baptized or speak in tongues?
These things are not Christ-like and they go against how believers are to live. Yet we see them in the lives of some who believe they are supposed to be our spiritual guides and leaders. This should not be so.
I am pretty certain that most reading this will recall their own memories of what they witnessed or heard about ministers or ministries that were wrong. These things cannot be excused because a minister, church or organization also does some good. How many people walk away because of the facade? How many people believe that if this is how Christians act, especially their ministers, they want nothing to do with Christianity?