As you watch this video, you will see the common threads that are observed over and over again in abusive Christian environments: authoritarian pastors and church leaders who tell their church members that they are appointed and anointed as messengers from God, church covenants prohibiting believers from having disputes settled outside of the church, labeling of church members who challenge leaders as being bitter, and a failure to adequately protect children and putting the concern of adult male members as being a primary concern.
Readers, as you watch this video, look for similar abusive traits in your own church. Does your church display these traits, or have a history of any of these traits? If they have had abuse problems in the past, have adequate corrective steps been taken AND has the church leadership been open and honest with members about past problems and explained the steps taken to correct it? Or do the current church leaders deny or downplay the severity of the past problems?
An expose like this is not just important in warning others about that particular abusive system in the story. It is important to getting people to awaken to the possibility that they're current church might be capable of the same acts. Brett makes the point early in the video that Homestead Heritage portrays itself as a bastion of old-fashioned, wholesome values, while behind the scenes they are actually worse than the outside world they rail against. Church members beware - especially if you are part of a church system that has had an authoritarian leader in the past and where sexual sins have been covered up in the past yet leaders to this day are still denying or downplaying the severity of past sins.We have several of these kinds of churches right here in Jacksonville, Florida that have been featured on this blog.
Lastly, I want to say a word about Brett Shipp and WFAA. This expose reminds me so much of the work that Jeannie Blaylock of WTLV-Jacksonville did back in 2005 and 2006 in exposing the deeds of Bob Gray and the cover-up at Trinity Baptist Church here in Jacksonville. It takes guts for reporters and news agencies to tear off the pious masks of churches in their own communities and expose the ugliness of churches and pastors that are revered by the faithful. Today it is mostly up to bloggers like the Wartburg Watch and Christa Brown who are shining a bright spotlight on abusive pastors and church systems, but Brett Shipp is one member of the media who is not afraid to do the dirty work in Christianity.
Brett Shipp is the most courageous news reporter I know in this regard. He and WFAA were not afraid of taking on Ed Young and Fellowship Church to expose the lavish spending and fund raising tactics of Ed Young. Brett even dared to do an expose on Ergun Caner last year when Caner moved to Arlington Baptist College from Liberty University. Brett's piece on the "Caner Mystique" as he called it, was absolutely the finest work done by a prominent news outlet in concisely showing the truth about Ergun Caner's decade of deception.
Sadly, while Brett is doing God's work in exposing the ugliness in modern Christianity, there are those people like Ed Young who actually portray WFAA and Brett Shipp as being "haters", as trying to thwart the work of God and being anti-church. In a recent video posted by Ed Young, Young blasted WFAA by saying the following:
"When you're doing great, people hate...there's always some [in the news media] who are negative. And I think about WFAA - a station here in Dallas that CONTINUES to attack the local church, and CONTINUES to be negative...WFAA continues to exaggerate, to falsify, to deal in fiction rather than fact....it's time for the church to stand and say 'you know what, we're not going to take it anymore, you guys aren't telling the truth'.."
Sorry, Ed. You can rail all you want against WFAA, but they are doing God's work in exposing corruption and abuse in the modern church. How ironic that Young claims WFAA deals in "fiction rather than fact" when Young is the one who stands up and misuses scripture to get people to fork over 10% of their income to his church. Shipp deals with facts and eyewitness accounts to warn people of abusive churches - while Young deals with fiction and fairy tales to get people to fork over large sums of money.
Way to go Brett Shipp and WFAA. Keep standing for the truth, keep doing the work of God even in the face of angry, bitter pastors who can't stand to have a light shone on their church and ministries.
"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." Eph 4:25