Dark Christianity
dark_christian
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May 2008
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Oh, now *this* is interesting...

In a search for info to a reply I made re a Dark Christianity thread (in regards to spiritual abuse within the Assemblies of God in Australia and the Australian Assemblies trying to start a dominionist movement in Oz), I discovered something that was, shall we say, quite interesting to me...and also firms up a lot of what I've noticed as an Assemblies walkaway myself.

I've written rather extensively on abusive practices within the Assemblies, including the promotion of political dominionism as part of their general patterns of subterfuge and abuse.

What I did not expect to find (outside of various survivor forums for folks who've escaped abusive Assemblies churches, anyways) was to find a website run by an ex-Assemblies pastor who was apparently run out of the denomination for expressing his concerns re spiritual abuse in the congregation.

Now, those of us who've escaped the Assemblies know that they can often be as bad as Scientology with specific practices in the church (especially when lawsuits come to mind--ask poor Laura Schubert how the Assemblies headquarters filed an amicus brief to try to prevent her from collecting court awards after an involuntary exorcism). Those familiar with Paul Yonggi Cho in particular know the abusive practices now common have sanction from the highest officials in the Assemblies. What is surprising (to me, anyways) is to have it confirmed directly by the ousted pastor, who has also apparently consulted an exit counselor re his concerns:

In this e-mail, you will find some essential facts about the Assemblies of God fellowship. As your brother in Christ, I am writing to share these facts with you.
Some time ago, I contacted a nationally known expert on the topic of spiritual abuse, after researching the behavior patterns of cults. I asked him to review my extensive documentation on our website www.timefortruth.com on my experience and that of many others with the A/G leadership in Springfield, Missouri and in New York. These issues involved serious matters of unethical and [sometimes] illegal behavior directed at A/G ministers and A/G churches. I held credentials with them for over 24 years as a pastor. You can read that documentation at - http://www.timefortruth.com/church.php under the heading of "State of the Church."

The crux of what I discovered through my personal experience with the A/G Presbytery, research, and the personal testimonies of many other credible A/G ministers and missionaries was an extensive pattern of exploitation and manipulation of authority within the Assemblies of God. This is especially the case with regard to psychological and spiritual abuse employed by Assemblies of God leadership against ministers throughout the U.S. Most of the testimonies related to me are in writing since my story's publication.
. . .
Anyone who has dared to raise questions about suspicious activities or decisions made by the A/G hierarchy is either stonewalled or dismissed.
. . .
However, the reason I contacted the nationally recognized expert in spiritual abuse was because I discovered a clear pattern of behavior by the A/G leadership that closely resembles the tactics used by many cults. Methods used to force obedience to their leadership. Such likenesses would be -
1. The threats of divine judgment for those who do not kowtow to "orders" from the A/G Presbytery, orders that is, that have no foundation whatever in Holy Scripture.
2. The willful disruption of personal relationships by the A/G Presbytery between brethren, and sometimes family members, as the disciplined minister is "cutoff" from fellowship with his friends. Those within the denomination are forbidden to have anything to do with the dismissed minister.
a. {I had an A/G Presbyter show up at my Sunday morning service 72 hours after my hearing. He came to announce to all 250-300 people present [including my wife, my 5 children, and my brothers and sisters in Christ], that I had been "dismissed" by the A/G. He then was going to announce that the pulpit of Calvary Assembly of God was now "open." They had planned to take the pulpit and church from me – THAT DAY! This is A COMPLETE AND DELIBERATE contravention of A/G Constitutional law; not to mention the unethical, illegal, callous, uncharitable, unmerciful, and most of all - the unbiblical side of it.
b. In addition, the New York District had already been notified by a unanimous decision of my deacon board that they would keep me as their pastor regardless of how my hearing turned out.}.
3. The suspension and denial of critical thinking by any minister if he dares to query the A/G leadership on dubious, questionable, and suspicious decisions or practices.
4. The refusal of answers to valid questions for the A/G minister who is then judged as being "uncooperative" and "unwilling to receive counsel" by the A/G Presbytery, as was the case with me.
5. Abusive, manipulation of ministers through tactics of yelling and screaming at them without warrant, provocation, or intelligent rationale.
a. {Please read reporter Jim Brown's personal experience with Thomas Trask after he published his article with the Agape Press entitled "Trask Initiates Angry Diatribe at Reporter" at http://www.timefortruth.com/church.php
6. The fear of many A/G ministers who are too afraid to come forward with what they know to be wrong.
They recoil at the very thought of questioning their leaders when such queries are necessary to preserve the truth and integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The most oft repeated phrase I heard when dealing directly with many A/G ministers was – "Well, I don't know what is going on. All I know is that we have to trust our leadership." This I found to be one of the most compelling and startling pieces of evidence the A/G is behaving more and more in a cult like fashion, and as a psychologically abusive sect. Ministers, who know better [or ought to know better] about what is right and wrong, are fearful to speak up for fear of being disciplined or dismissed.

Brethren, time will fail me to relate all of the evidence I have gained in the past 2 years. It is documented and shows a disturbing pattern that the A/G is becoming more abusive of its constituents and is behaving frighteningly in a cult like fashion. This includes acting against their own Constitution in dealing with churches and ministers. Sometimes, they are acting against the laws of the various States.

Again, even though this minister used to be in the Assemblies himself (and after his ouster--for demanding to know why a NY superintendent of the Assemblies was ousted), he apparently has noticed things serious enough that he contacted an exit counselor due to his concerns. (I myself am curious as to which exit counselor he contacted; Rick Ross in particular has been active in investigating abusive Assemblies congregations.)

The website also notes that there have been a pattern of recent ousters by Assemblies leaders of pastors critical of the main leadership and its direction. (Interestingly, one of these letters all but confirms that World Harvest Church in Ohio is yet another "daughter church" of the Assemblies.)

Another interesting article shows, possibly in the most damning light I've ever seen, how the Assemblies has many, many unofficial policies and how dominionism is explicitly promoted unofficially:
Blackwhite. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.

Blackwhite. That is the Newspeak of the Assemblies of God. Law, even God’s Law, is what the Ministry of Truth in Springfield, Missouri says it is. All actions, decisions, and deeds, are what Big Brother - Thomas Trask and the Executive Presbytery - claim they are, even when it is a contradiction of the plain facts. And Party members – the A/G credential holders - are willing to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this, believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and forget they ever believed the contrary. This is especially true on the subject of the A/G constitution, but includes other issues such as altering Assemblies theological positions from orthodoxy and doctrinal fidelity to Bellyfeel.

For instance, the Assemblies of God has a paper stating their rejection of “Positive Confession” i; the heretical dogma promoted by covetous, money-oriented preachers whose teachings are colloquially known as the “Name–It-Claim-It,” and “Blab-It-Grab-It” heterodoxy. Yet, once Big Brother Trask said that Party members should attend and support the Azusa Street Centennial last April, Party members obeyed, no questions asked. None are allowed. Big Brother is watching out for them. Big Brother knows best. Also, Big Brother is not only watching, but he is making sure that everyone complies. Everyone.

After describing how the Azusa Centennial was a veritable "name it and claim it" expo (including, of note, speeches from Assemblies televangelist Benny Hinn), the article continues:
Yet the wiles of Big Brother are not restricted merely to Blackwhite. They also employ Doublethink, the reality control method used on Party members causing unsuspecting ministers to hold two contradictory beliefs while simultaneously accepting both of them as true.

The article goes on to describe how many Assemblies preachers have been literally forced out of the denomination for merely expressing concern regarding potentially illegal activities of the church--and how many in the denomination are afraid to speak out for fear of also being dead-agented and expelled (and subject to shunning even by family members).

In other words, this is unusually revealing because it indicates strongly that even if there are a few Assemblies churches that do not agree with political dominionism, they cannot speak out safely because those pastors who disagree with the party line are immediately expelled from the denomination and have their preaching credentials stripped. (In other words, there is no functional accountability and a very real danger of retribution for any pastor who tries to "buck the system". THIS is why I say that in the Assemblies and its daughter churches, real reform (to something besides dominionism) is pretty much impossible; the leaders are hardcore political dominionists and "Joel's Army" promoters, and anyone who speaks out against this becomes an "UnPerson".)

There is also interesting confirmation of a major danger-sign of abusive practices--in a statement by the ousted pastor, there's info regarding an official Assemblies church bylaw that states that persons ousted from the church must be shunned even by family members:
vi. After that, Rev. Adour was offered financial remuneration by General Superintendent Thomas Trask if he will accept the NYDAG verdict to “resign voluntarily.” He was told that he will receive money in the form of enhanced severance pay if he will resign. This, by the way, was the second such offer to receive money in exchange for a “voluntary resignation” made by Thomas Trask. The first one coming by a telephone call from Thomas Trask from Springfield on December 13th 2004, just a few days prior to the meeting on December 15th . Further, that offer of money was placed up against the solemn threat of being disfellowshipped as a minister in the Assemblies of God if Rev. Adour did not accept the proposition. Once again, no reason, rationale, or charges are submitted to substantiate such actions. Most importantly, no Biblical passages are ever sited, at all, as grounds for actions to be taken against Rev. Adour.
vii. Subsequently, the 68 year old Rev. Adour, with 48 years of unblemished and untarnished ministry, resigns as District Superintendent under the unbearable coercion, not for the money, but for fear of being disfellowshipped from the Assemblies of God and “cut off” from all of his long times friends, some of which, are even family.
vii.1. PLEASE NOTE: Dismissed ministers must be avoided and shunned by all A/G ministers according to the A/G Constitution and By-Laws as stated here –
vii.2. Article IX Section 10. An Improper Attitude Toward Those Removed From the Fellowship In order to render effective decisions made in the interest of proper discipline and for the protection of our assemblies, all who hold credentials, and local churches holding certificates of affiliation, shall refrain from taking an attitude toward offenders that would tend to nullify or set at naught the solemn verdict of those entrusted with this responsibility. Those who fail to support said verdict shall be subject to reprimand or, if persisted in, appropriate discipline.

(Yes, you're reading this right. The NY Superintendent of the Assemblies was in fact forced out for refusal to take a bribe to resign voluntarily, and the very head of the Assemblies in the US was the one trying to bribe him.)

Even other dominionist news organs have been targeted by the Assemblies when info critical of them was printed. When Agape Press reported on the NY scandal and quoted an ACLJ lawyer as noting this was an "epidemic problem" in certain Assemblies regional districts (Agape Press is the news wing of the American Family Association, and ACLJ is the American Center for Law and Justice, a dominionist legal group--and the lawyer in question was, at least at the time of writing, an Assemblies member himself (so you know it's bad when fellow dominionists are pointing this out), the head of the Assemblies literally accused their fellow dominionist newscasters of being agents of the Enemy:
Written by Jim Brown, reporter for American Family Radio News
A very angry Thomas Trask called me yesterday, claiming I was "doing a major disservice to the Kingdom" by interviewing Pastor Ray Barnett regarding the Adour debacle in the NY presbytery. He accused me of never contacting the AOG national headquarters before publishing so-called "lies" from Adour and Barnett. I let him know that I called his office twice requesting an interview on the matter, but I never heard back from them. Trask said since the denomination is so large they receive thousands of media inquiries like that every year and his secretary probably forget to pass the messages on to him. I told him that while he was on the line, we could do an interview and he could have his chance to explain why Adour and Barnett were dismissed.

He said he would never do an interview with us because he's not willing to address "false and slanderous allegations." He yelled several times that I was "doing a major disservice to the Kingdom," and said my journalism was "trash" and just "a bunch of garbage." He also asserted that the only reason I wrote the story was to attack the AOG denomination. He then told me he was going to tell his denomination about my shoddy work and then he abruptly hung up. All during his angry diatribe I was thinking -- this man heads the Assemblies of God denomination. I pity the men and women across the country under this man's leadership.

All in all, this should be *quite* interesting to those of us researching corruption in the very denomination that invented neopente dominionism in the first place.

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