What is Gossip? What is Slander? Addressing the Issue of Bitterness; Finally the Word Bitter will be Banned at The Wondering Eagle

Looking at the use of words such as gossip, slander and bitter. Numerous events have left me to deal with this issue. Its my contention that people who went through their own theological hell are not bitter, but instead expressing a righteous anger. Also in this post I explain why the use of the word bitter will be banned from this blog. Its going to be one of the only words that will be banned.

“The truth hurts, doesn’t it, Hapsburg? Oh sure, maybe not as much as landing on a bicycle with the seat missing, but it hurts!”

Lt. Frank Drebin  of Police Squad

“One voice speaking truth is a greater force than fleets and armies.”

Ursula Le Guin

“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”

Proverbs 16:28 NLT

These last few weeks have been interesting in many ways. Let me walk you through my world so you can see things through my eyes. This will help explain why I am writing this post for today.

  1. I have been busy writing about a corrupt Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania. People who were formerly involved have told me how the words gossip and slander have been misused against them and their family. One of the families that left Community told me about how the church claims that they were engaging in gossip. To talk about how the Senior Pastor’s son allegedly raped his wife while allegedly drunk; and then on another occasion to allegedly point a loaded gun at his wife. Talking about that is called “gossip.”
  2. Outside of Community Evangelical Free Church I have written about The Journey in St. Louis. According to the monthly stats which I analyze the post I wrote about Darrin Patrick is doing extremely well, and when you Google The Journey in St. Louis my post is one of those that pops up near the top in the first two pages of Google.  I have gotten some pushback from a couple of current Journey members I believe in the comments. I love it when people from some of these places comment as it reveals the indoctrination that has taken place.
  3. Privately, and I am not going to get into the details too much but I got an email from an old friend. We’ve known each other for close to 14 years I believe. He once told me in a church activity years ago how much he looked up to me and how I made him feel welcome and loved as I recall. It was one of the kindest things I have heard from any person at all. I later found out that this friend of mine got involved in The Journey and he sent me an interesting email which is remaining private. However, what gave me pause is when he said that talking about what happened with Darrin Patrick after the fact is gossip I realized my friend doesn’t know what gossip is, and he’s let a church redefine gossip for him. He’s no longer involved but his thinking still shows the influence of The Journey on him.
  4. Behind the scenes I have heard in a few emails how the word bitter was used by some people in the Evangelical Free Church of America. That caused a lot of angst and that was on my radar, and I have wanted to write about that issue.
  5. Then a few days ago I did a post about Kevin DeYoung and I saw the comments there about bitterness, slander, and other pushback. That  became the tipping point to address this issue and discuss it.

There is a lot of ground to cover and I am establishing some new rules here which will be implemented.

What is Gossip?

What is gossip? How is gossip defined? At dictionary.com gossip is defined in the following way: “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others: i.e. the endless gossip about Hollywood stars.” Here is the link for you to look at yourself. So gossip is about endless talk of others that have no point, and deals with he private affairs of others. So let’s apply that understanding to the situation at The Journey. These are the sins that led to Darrin Patrick being removed:

  • Lack of self control
  • Manipulation and Lying
  • Domineering
  • Misuse of Power
  • Refusal of Personal Accountability

So again I ask…what is domineering? What is a misuse of power? What is the lying? As the Chaplain for the St. Louis Cardinals did he privately root for the Chicago Cubs and lie about it? Here is the issue…Darrin Patrick chose to become a pastor. He chose the limelight in which he wanted to be. He wanted the fame, adulation and the people to drool over him as do many Neo-Calvinist pastors. Its one of the many reasons why I categorically and firmly reject the Neo-Calvinist movement. In its heart it is corrupt. If you want to be a mega church pastor and you want that kind of attention then you are going to have to deal with it. It goes along with the territory, you chose to be in the public spotlight, and you have to deal with the less pleasant issues as well. There are many people who deal with things or issues in their jobs that they don’t like. There are people are policeman who have to patrol overnight. That goes along with the territory. Want to be a successful salesmen at IBM, Cantor Fitzgerald, CA Technologies, or Proctor & Gamble or elsewhere? Be prepared to work your butt off and pull late nights. If you want to be in the US Marines be prepared to deal with a grueling lifestyle and deployments to places that are for from comfortable and downright miserable.

Talking about what happened with Darrin Patrick is not gossip because he was the leader of a large church. Its no more gossip than talking about how the President of the United States at the time, Bill Clinton, ejaculated on an intern’s dress. Yes it’s uncomfortable but its the facts of the situation. Gossip as I look at it is meaningless talk that means absolutely nothing in the end. Gossip is what people did in high school when they speculated who had sex with who? Who went to the party and got drunk? I could go on but believe I have made my point.  There was no facts and the talk served no purpose. Asking hard or difficult questions is necessary because of Darrin Patrick’s position. Another issue is that the Neo-Calvinists are re-defining terms and words. They are actually doing the same thing that the Mormons have done. When people view gossip as avoiding difficult conversations and submitting to the Elders then in the end they are enabling the problem.  Plus they help to perpetuate the issues at hand.


What is Slander? Is the Truth too Hard to Deal with?

I believe that the word slander is one of the most misused words that some evangelicals have used. It needs to be pushed back, and contested, and that is part of the reason why I am writing this in today’s post. Dee Parsons wrote a good post at the Wartburg Watch called “Slander or an Inconvenient Truth? Some evangelicals use the word slander as a means to get people to be quiet. They are often telling or talking about something that happened that is true, dealing with facts but are uncomfortable. Let me illustrate:

  1. Is Molly Fitch engaging in slander when she talks about what Calvary Temple did in turning most of her children against her? No I believe Molly, and believe she is telling the facts.
  2. Is Happymom and Wallace engaging in slander when they talk about two incidents of child sex abuse at Sovereign Grace Fairfax? No, they are describing something that tragically happened and I believe Happymom and Wallace and their version of events.
  3. Is Bent Meyer engaging in slander when he talks about what Mark Driscoll did to him at Mars Hill Seattle when he had him fired? No he is telling what happened and I believe Bent.

Basically slander has a different meaning, and they way some evangelicals use the word is done in a wrong context. In order for slander to be done the following three steps need to be taken:

  1. A lie or something not true needs to be told.
  2. That lie or action needs to intentional affect another person’s reputation and cause great harm.
  3. This action was done with a deliberate intent to cause distress.

I will use myself to illustrate as I learned this issue with my false accusation. When Andrew gave birth to a false accusation that took aim at me he did so in the following three ways:

  1. He gave birth to a false claim when it was stated that I was a threat to his family.
  2. He did this at work and in the process damaged my reputation with my boss and threatened my name with my employer. He also threatened my name in future employment as well.
  3. This action was done deliberately as Andrew knew that I was not a threat, and it caused distress.

In my situation Dee Parsons who walked with me through it had me speak to an Attorney who reviewed it and explained to me why I was sitting on a defamation of character lawsuit. Plus there was another factor that strengthened my case…in most false accusations they can be hard to prove. In this case since Andrew dragged in a third party that third party can be subpoenaed and forced to testify. Because the third party that was dragged in is a witness to the defamation. This was explained to me in the process and that is how I learned this…from first hand knowledge.  


What is Bitterness?

According to dictionary.com bitterness can have several different meanings. The one I am going to focus on is the following. Bitterness according to the website is “characterized by intense antagonism or hostility.”  In this description bitterness means intense hostility and possibility even wishing harm or malice. Anger is often confused for bitterness and I believe anger is good. If your child was sexually assaulted and you were not angry then I think there would be something deeply wrong. Anger is a righteous and good emotion. Jesus was angry in the temple. It seems as if many Christians forget that Jesus did get angry. Please note I am not talking about the “dudebro I can kick your rear end” kind of anger which Mark Driscoll espoused.  I am talking about righteous anger that came about because an act of injustice took place. Anger I believe can be a gift from God. Anger can be a sign that tells you that something is not right, and if you were hurt, it reveals that you were the subject of something cruel and harsh. I see a lot of people who I believe are righteously angry.

Now here is the problem…you have many people who have been wronged who have no recourse to address their painful issues. Where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to do? The Bible talks about not worshipping or approaching the alter until you have worked things out with your brother, and yet many people like CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, etc.. plow forward not giving a rat’s behind about scripture like that at all. How can you move forward when you haven’t been able to address the situation which put you in the place where you are at now? The supreme idiocy of this is that there are people claiming to teach the Bible who can’t master the basic fundamentals of what Jesus himself has taught. So where does that leave us…are these people being bitter? I would strongly say no…they are angry and they have every right to be angry. But let me focus on my situation to make the point.


Am I being Bitter when I Write about Redeemer Arlington?

On May 8, 2013 I was subject to a severe false accusation. It was done by an Air Force Captain who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2005. He claimed I was a threat to his family, and that it happened after he asked me to stay in his house, walk me through his wedding album, and change the password on his computer for sexual purity reasons.  My boss raised the issue of stalking, this hit me out of the blue. I know…who invites a stalker into their home and asks him to change the password on their computer? If you want to read about the false accusation you can do so here.

Now in my case here is the problem. Andrew White doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong. He broke off the discussion as it was getting started. He won’t listen to what the consequences of his actions created.  Yes he said he was “sorry” in a conference call between him, myself, and Jordan Kauflin but the attorney who I consulted explained to me what needed to be done in order to neutralize the false accusation. We never got to that point at all. I would very much love for this to be resolved. But the issue rests with Andrew White and not me. He has no desire to resolve this mess, and he doesn’t care. Granted I am dealing with a former Sovereign Grace church so I knew from the get go that there are going to be deep issues. After all Redeemer Arlington’s roots are in the same culture that produced places like Solid Rock, Sovereign Grace Fairfax, and Covenant Life Church. I approached 140 people and the one person who claims to be all about scripture and following the Bible  doesn’t want to resolve it.

So I am still moving forward and trying to find a way ahead. It’s happening slowly. This could be resolved by a number of conversations, a sincere and deep apology, a situation where he grieves what he did, and expresses deep remorse. If he did that, it would be helpful and soothing. But in the meantime what am I supposed to do? I think the fact that this is being written is a damning indictment of Sovereign Grace culture. So am I bitter? I am still angry. After all in my case the false accusation threatened my job, my future employment, my ability to pay a mortgage, my home equity line of credit, my school loans, my credit card, and my Nissan Sentra loan. That is a lot that was threatened by a false accusation. I’ve even had people contact me who are in the military or former military that say, “I have to tell you this…” It may have happened years ago, but I get them. These are events that we are discussing that are psychologically traumatic.


The Word Bitter is now Banned from The Wondering Eagle

I have given it much  thought and I have decided to ban the use of the word bitter. No one who reads, and comments that went through their own personal hell, or nightmare will be told that they are bitter. Churches and pastors who do that often do it as a means to control people. Its a way for them to dominate and manipulate their authority. Remember authority is earned and not freely given. Respect and trust is earned in the course of time. But there is another reason why I am banning the word bitter as well. People like John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Matt Chandler, and more have a lot of press, influence, publishing companies, and the Reformed Industrial Complex backing them. They have a lot driving them now. Many people in the pews or those who were hammered by a church, ministry or shoddy organization don’t have a lot of places to call home. They don’t have a lot of places that will stick their neck out on the line and go to bat for them. That’s one of the things this blog is pursuing. I want this to be a place of sanctuary and respite form the tyrannies of fundamentalism, and ministries that are corrupt that never should be in existence. Organizations like Sovereign Grace or 9 Marks are an abomination to the church and should be viewed more as a cancer than anything else.

Because of all this no one is going to pop on here and tell someone or a group of people that they are bitter. So here is what I am going to do…if some one comes to this blog and says that people are bitter they will be warned. They will get one chance to knock it off. If they continue they will be put in slow moderation. What that means is that their comment will be approved 8 hours later. I’m incredibly serious about this and have decided to do this to protect people. John MacArthur already has his tools like Phil Johnson out there blasting people who disagree. None of their followers need to come here and wage jihad against people who have already been hurt. Now I think you will admit that I am a very liberal person when it comes to commenting. I have let everyone and anyone post. Heck I was the only blog that let Seneca post and I even did it when people emailed me asking, “why do you let him post?” I wanted to give him a second chance, and an opportunity to prove himself. Its in these situations that I am going to be hard about this rule. Some of you guys have been through a lot. This blog is writing about the Evangelical Free denomination, Sovereign Grace, and a number of other places out there. Plus there is also this issue to contend with…here at The Wondering Eagle its my goal to create a blog that is much more diverse in readership and articles than The Wartburg Watch. I write about topics like doubt and atheism for a reason. I do so because of the 5 year faith crisis and what I saw and observed. In my opinion there isn’t a blog that creates a middle ground to allow atheists and Christians to regularly and freely interact. That is one of the things I plan to do here. So here is the other problem…you are going to have atheists and secular humanists interact in a number of discussions, and when they see someone proclaiming people as being bitter, or something like engaging in slander many secularists are going to laugh at you and say that you behavior is ridiculous and stupid. There are a number of secularists who are straight forward and blunt, which is one of the many reasons why I like that crowd deeply.

These rules go into effect today. They will be carried out and implemented. They are being put into place for those who have been through a lot. Now if you are a C.J. Mahaney fan boy or a John MacArthur fan boy who doesn’t like this…I have this to say to you. Life is hard, life sucks, life is difficult…my word of advice…deal with it. I welcome your comments, feedback or critique. On Wednesday we are going to talk about pastors who gossip with an amazing guest post. I am going to close out with a classic 80’s pop/rock song about rumours for this post. As always I love you guys!

25 thoughts on “What is Gossip? What is Slander? Addressing the Issue of Bitterness; Finally the Word Bitter will be Banned at The Wondering Eagle

  1. There is an excellent book on Spiritual Abuse that has an entire section on the “don’t talk” rule that pastors & rogue elders/sycophants use to silence & manipulate congregants when the abusive leadership has done something wrong, and don’t want anyone to talk about it. Those words “gossip” & “bitterness” are rampant & abused & manipulated & re-defined to the max.

    The book, which I found really helpful for me, can be found here:

    I also find it interesting that in my experience, these same pastors who try to silence the flock, are the same ones that will gossip about the flock to other pastors. This behavior can be really damaging to people trying to flee abusive churches, only to find that the church they flee to has already been tainted against them because the abusive pastor(s) gossiped about them to the new pastor(s).

    Apparently, with some, “gossip” is a one-way street.

    Keep at this, Eagle.
    This stuff needs to be addressed.
    If/when I ever tell my family’s “story” with my own blog, this will be a significant part of it.

    Fortunately, in our case, we haven’t experienced the “church shun” that so many have, either at our former church, or our new ones. I imagine this is probably because the pastors at our old church don’t want us to speak up about what they did. They probably ascertained that it was better to just let us leave quietly. The one thing they were scared about & concerned with was having us speak up about what happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Ejj. I totally agree. There is an upsurge in authoritarianism today and that is reflected by how words like slander, gossip and bitter are used. Heck I think of how the EFCA has been changing. I wouldn’t have said this years ago, but today is more of an issue I believe.


    • Slander(TM) and Gossip(TM) = anything but total Praise and Flattery to the Lead Pastor/Head Apostle/ManaGAWD/Big Brother.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Plus HUG that was how Joseph Stalin maneuvered in the Soviet Union. Create evidence and go after people. In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq he did the same thing. There was a chilling video I watched on Youtube a number of years ago were people were forced to confess and out others who were un-loyal. The “evidence” was manufactured and it was used to control people and for Saddam to force his will and get people to live in fear.


  3. You know Ejj…the cruelest think about some of these organizations is when they deny peace to other people. People need peace. They need peace to live, work, enjoy life, exercise, eat, pay bills, etc… To deny a person peace is the cruelest thing a person can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wondered if you might go down this road! It’s your blog and your right to have your own rules, that’s fair enough.

    I wonder if you and I are coming at this from two different angles. You seem to be concerned with church leadership clamping down on legitimate criticism by calling it slander or gossip, and accusing members or being angry or bitter. (I hope you will excuse the use of the word for now, it is the subject under discussion!)

    I’m looking at it from the point of view of the reactions to this from commenters. It’s no good banning the word if the thing itself is there. Just as leaders mustn’t exempt themselves from criticism, commenters mustn’t mirror image this in being allowed to exempt themselves from being described as bitter (or endlessly seething with indignation or spending excessive time and effort where they shouldn’t, unproductive …) if they actually are, if this is fair criticism.

    You don’t actually seem to have a problem with this at the moment in comments here. Cross this bridge when you get to it? It’s a very real problem in much of survivor-type blogdom, and administrators need to be careful not to enable members who have had a church bust up to continue in a sinful response. That response can, in turn, damage others.

    Anger at being abused or at the criminal negligence of others in covering it up is understandable, and we agree is not of itself sinful – provided it is limited (do not let the sun go down on your anger). Even here it mustn’t become an ‘opportunity’ – a bridgehead – for the devil.

    I hope you will receive this in the spirit in which it was meant, which is constructive. After all, you did ask for feedback!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken I think we have to be careful. Plus I think you will find that I am not a theological dictator. The reason why I have restricted bitter is because of how its used. I think and would be happy to dialog with you here. As for enabling people I think people heal in their own way, and own time. Some people get fried and walk away. But some of what we are talking about is difficult and traumatic. Its how it is..as its a technique in fundamentalism. There are a number of leaders who have anger, and control issues in evangelicalism. When was the last time you heard someone say Mark Driscoll is bitter? What about C.J. Mahaney and his frayed relationship with Larry Tomczak. He’s refused to reconcile…can he be called bitter? In these circles why is bitter always a one way stress?

      I understand what you are saying Ken. And I am happy to interpret your thoughts in that method. I view your thoughts as constructive dialog.


      • When I said you have the right to your own rules, I wasn’t being sarcastic. Neither am I your opponent, this is indeed a discussion, not a confrontation.

        I have no problem with authoritarian leadership or any other gross religious deception or delusion being revealed or exposed so those caught up in it can get free of its influence. Naming what is wrong, and who is behind it.

        My problem is in doing so via the net, commenters wholly undermine badly need critique by their attitudes and language. That’s the bee in my bonnet. Those who need to listen won’t. Bloggers must avoid covering up sins in their own ranks whilst calling out the same sins in leaders and celebrity preachers.

        I’ve also been on the receiving end of verbal abuse from commenters who are blind to their own ‘attitude problem’. Its effect is to make you profoundly skeptical of claims of church abuse, even though you know from experience that it happens.

        I would never advocate allowing anyone to put the boot in again for someone who is licking their wounds from having the left boot of fellowship.

        I’ve been there with this, and regarding the word ‘bitter’ it doesn’t help you to get free of the effects of a church bust up … if, out of a false sense of sympathy or kindness, those around you do not say ‘that was 18 months ago, Ken, you are now starting to feel sorry for yourself and get bitter’. Bitterness can be a real problem here, and it is hard to fight it off. But it must be done because it spreads and defiles.

        It was a problem amongst NT believers, or Paul would never have needed to tell them to put this kind of thing away – with the implicit assumption that this is possible.

        It is possible, where this word has been banned, to make the case that this actually reflects the besetting sin of the bloggers, and/or commenters. That they are the ones with a problem, who are hitting back, not church leaders. I’m pretty sure in some cases the word touches a nerve, a reaction to it is a mark of a guilty conscience. It’s a tragedy is this lets the Big Names off the hook.


  5. Ken, I appreciate what you’re writing, and the spirit in which it’s given. The concern for the abused getting past the hurt to peace is real. But be careful not to blame the victim either.

    There’s a great cartoon that describes this well. It’s a picture of a dude with a knife in his back, bleeding out the back, and he says to another dude, “You hurt me.” The other (pastor) dude looks at him and says, “I’m not talking to you. You have an anger management problem.” As if there’s no reason for being angry.

    I have experienced first-hand a pastor who tried to squelch any discussion by declaring that the abused was… well, the B word. 😉 It was a complete cop-out, and he used it to avoid having to deal with the situation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The B word as you use it here reminds me of how things were in elementary school. Remember those days? I got a chuckle Ejj with what you said. But I totally agree with you.


  6. “The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me.” See Ezekiel 3

    Please make an exception for me in quoting ^ bitterness. May the strong hand of the Lord continue to be upon you Eagle.

    I spent 20 some years in confused agony because I couldn’t fast, pray, serve, studying scripture AWAY the damage of CSA, violence in my childhood. I begged God to heal me, take away the anger that boiled inside of me.
    I thought I wasn’t a Christian at times because of being scolded not to strive with my Maker, that was another hell of its own.
    Thank’s to our tender, precious Jesus for raising up bloggers who name “the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. @gm370, read Psalm 88. It’s all in there. He not only rails, but rails at God!! God is big enough to take it. I think Psalm 88 is in there for a reason. Some so-called “leaders” would say that the writer of Psalm 88 is “b****r”, and condemn the writer. They would be wrong.

    Keep striving. It’s in the striving that one’s faith is strengthened & restored.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Heh, true that. But I can’t really speak to the whole Christian control thing with the word bitter and the coffee was really bad. And I was feeling ornery. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, nothing like rules to bring out the rebellious ones. I remember my first and only taste of Vodka at a Russian wedding, definitely bitter, which is part of the ceremony. I have joked that it was similar to what I imagined paint thinner would taste like.

      Joking aside it takes a special insensitivity to toss around the b-word in the presence of those trying to process what happened in their lives. I came out of an authoritarian church just over a year ago and only since that time have been reading some of the blogs, yet in that short time I’ve seen many a drive-by commenter use the b-word. In that time the thought had not ever seemed relevant as I figured injured people don’t need my judgement to get their life right.

      In my case, once I got away from people conditioned in an abusive environment, I found much needed validation from others online who had been through similar circumstances and came to similar conclusions. Some were on blogs, others were via email. How long before I fully process that? Occasionally I realize the reason I left and the dysfunction I witnessed have become distant and are no longer foremost in my mind. But I find I am often an advocate for better relationships and am against authoritarian pastors and spiritually abusive church cultures and this requires I sometimes tell my story. So far no one in my presence has ever been so injudicious as to claim I am b—-, if they did my internal reaction would be like being thirsty and someone gave me paint thinner to drink.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bill M: “Joking aside it takes a special insensitivity to toss around the b-word in the presence of those trying to process what happened in their lives.”

        Bill, you have eloquently hit the nail on the head with this statement.

        This really summarizes it all, doesn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Blue…I remember going to a party when I was younger and being given Vokda. I had no idea how to drink it and drank the shot all at once. It was bitter, it burned…and I cried like I was 5 years old. This was when I was 25 or so… Haven’t had Vokda since man.. 😉


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