On Saturday afternoon I learned that nearly all the staff (minus Pat Dieffenbacher) of an Evangelical Free/9 Marks Church outside Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania blocked me on Twitter. The near universal behavior by the staff made me profoundly interested in Fellowship Church as led by Marc Ramirez. My 400th post discusses the Streisand Effect which the leadership of this church demonstrated when they tried to block me on Twitter. I would love to hear from former people from Marc Ramirez’s Fellowship Church.
“How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don’t like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let’s call it the Streisand Effect.”
“Truly good manners are invisible: they ease the way for others, without drawing attention to themselves. It is no accident that the word “punctilious” (“attentive to formality or etiquette”) comes from the same original root as punctuation. “
You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 NLT
Jesus challenging words to us all
Today’s post deals with an Evangelical Free Church in the borough of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. I believe this is north of Berks, Lancaster and Montgomery counties where the story of Steve Estes, Community Evangelical Free Church is playing out. Dallas, Pennsylvania is a small town and it appears as if the biggest employers here are Misericordia University and the local detention center. If I am wrong I invite correction.
How this Post Came About
On Saturday afternoon I was bumming around and I was just taking random churches from the Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America and running them through Twitter. I was looking at different Twitter feeds and differing pastors and church tweets and studying what I was finding. So I looked up Fellowship Church in Dallas, Pennsylvania and I got the following notification from Twitter.
Fellowship Church had blocked me. I was intrigued because I have never Tweeted them, reached out or done anything else. The only time I emailed them was when I did the analysis of the Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as the state of Neo-Calvinism/Reformed theology in this district. But all the EFCA churches in the district got my email as well. I am puzzled because even C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Louisville has not blocked me. C.J. Mahaney has, after all I wrote a post thanking Pam Palmer for helping to launch the largest lawsuit in evangelical history at the time against Sovereign Grace for Mahaney’s alleged involvement in covering up child sex abuse. In that post I called on Pam Palmer and others to finish the job. You can read the post called, “How the Sovereign Grace Lawsuit Helped me Resolve the Problem of Evil.” That became my one and only Tweet to C.J. Mahaney and I got blocked. To C.J. I say..”what a man!” Since Fellowship Church blocked me I became curious as to who the senior pastor is, and a quick Google search determined it is Marc Ramirez. So I plugged Marc Ramirez into Twitter and I got the following notification:
I learned that Marc Ramirez had blocked me and I became further intrigued. I looked at the next name on the Fellowship website, Karl Dyrli and I put him into the Twitter search engine and I found the following:
The Associate Pastor of Worship Karl Dyrli blocked me as well. I was even more interested and I put the next name, Tim Sheare, into the Twitter search and I got the following notification from Tim:
And I learned that I was blocked by the entire pastoral or leadership staff. The only person who did not block me is Fellowship’s secretary Pat Dieffenbacher. I sent her a Tweet thanking her for not blocking me and I decided to write about this church. I had planned to write a post about Randy Alcorn and the child sex abuse situation in Sovereign Grace, but that is going to take a back seat to Fellowship Church in Dallas, Pennsylvania.
The Streisand Effect
In 2003 Kenneth Adelman was taking pictures of the California coast line. It was part of a project that documented the erosion of soil on the California coast. 12,000 pictures of the California coast line were taken for the California Coastal Records Project. One of them included the home of Barbara Streisand. Streisand’s home was image 3850 on the website Pictopia.com. The picture was only accessed six times, including two of Barbara Streisand’s attorneys who then decided to file a lawsuit to get her house removed from the internet. In the process Barbara Streisand drew a lot of attention to her home. Eventually 420,000 people accessed the website the following month. In her efforts to suppress, censor or control something Barbara Streisand drew much more attention to the situation, that would not have happened had she just let it be. Mike Masnick of the website Techdirt coined the term Streisand Effect in the following quote in 2005. “How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don’t like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let’s call it the Streisand Effect.” If you want to read more about the Streisand Effect you can do so in these articles here, here and here.
Fellowship’s Streisand’s Effect on Twitter and Deep Concerns for this 9 Marks Church
The Wondering Eagle wants to give a shout out to Marc Ramirez and this 9 Marks church in the Eastern District. Your entire pastoral staff (and yes I would include Tim Sheare in that assessment especially in the 9 Marks environment) demonstrated the Streisand effect on the internet. You did so on Twitter by having the entire staff block me. You not only demonstrated incredibly immaturity but you drew my attention to Fellowship Chruch. Now I am very intrigued by the culture, environment, and stories that I think will come out of this church in time. If Marc Ramirez, Karl Dyrli, and Tim Sheare had not done anything in unison I would have moved on and not even noticed Fellowship Church. Now by how you acted on Twitter you drew a lot of attention to yourself and it makes me want to ask more questions. In the days to come I am going to do a post that will circulate on the internet asking for any stories out of Fellowship Church.
I already have deep concerns about 9 Marks. On Friday this blog broke the story about the efforts to get 9 Marks into the Christian community in China. You can read that in “An Open Letter to Carson Wilson (Former Member and Blog Source from Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church)” Getting 9 Marks into Communist China, was not public knowledge beforehand I believe. One of my sources told me about that and I sat on the information for awhile. 9 Marks is not Elder Led it about Elder Rule. In 9 Marks churches you have mini Joseph Stalin’s and Erich Honecker’s walking around imposing an iron fist. They are drunk on power and authority. Marc Ramirez and the staff exhibited this in how they behaved on Twitter. They so wanted to try and control someone that they blocked that person long before that person said, or did anything. Is that how Jesus acted? Jesus loved to ask questions! How would Jesus fare in your church Marc Ramirez? Marc Ramirez would you have blocked Jesus on Twitter? But here is another question in an increasingly secular society how is a church like Fellowship Church going to engage the community when this is how they act? You can’t engage culture, or share the Gospel when you cut it off. Now here is what stuns me…this blog has processed through 6 Evangelical Free Church of America Districts and this is the first church that I know of where the entire pastoral staff and leadership blocked me on Twitter. That stands out quite a bit. For those of you who want to know more about 9 Marks and its problems I will direct you to this post called, “9 Marks: What is it? How Mark Dever Undermined it and Made it Worthless.” In that post you will learn about the double standards that exist in 9 Marks theology. Church discipline applies to the people in the pews. Those on the top of the pyramid such as Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney or in the case of Fellowship Church Marc Ramirez, Kyle Dyrli, and Tim Sheare are exempt from church discipline. Its why the system is intrinsically flawed. It defines who is to be ruled and who is not. 9 Marks creates a new caste system and I would suggest goes against scripture and Christian faith. After all what is it that Christians should be known for? Their love! 9 Marks exalts the arrogant and punishes the humble. There is no love in 9 Marks.
What is this Church Hiding?
I have to tell you when I saw how Fellowship Church reacted on Twitter I got a pit in my stomach that something is not right here. In the Eastern District the issue front and center is playing out in Elverson, Pennsylvania. This blog, The Wondering Eagle, broke the story and is continuing to cover it. Will Steve Estes be allowed to practice church discipline on alleged sexual assault victim who his son allegedly raped? In that story the female (Hurit) knows she could be dead. While that situation has my primary attention in this district I have a number of questions I am hoping former members of Fellowship Church can help answer. These are questions that I would like to ask, and if you have knowledge please contact me. Has any of the following situations occurred in Fellowship Church?
- Have their been child sexual abuse situations that were handled in house and not reported to law enforcement?
- Have their been situations where sexual abuse victims were made to forgive their abusers?
- Have their been financial issues or extravagant use of money for personal reasons that people honestly gave in effort thinking that it was going to church missions or activity?
- Have their been people dealing with mental illness who were encouraged to go into Jay Adam’s counseling and as a result their mental health situation grew worse and they were harmed by it?
- Have their been any inappropriate church discipline that has occurred in this church?
- Have their been any membership covenant issues where people have been trapped or hurt because of a covenant?
- Have their been former members who have been shunned or cut off, or has this church caused issues in people’s families, marriages and lives?
- Have there been issues of spiritual abuse here that have taken place in other forms?
- Have there been any badly handled domestic violence situations where a wife in a dangerous situation was encouraged to submit to her abuser. Hey guys John Piper actually taught that in this Desiring God video.
I’m sorry but when I saw how this church reacted it made me intensely interested in it. I have a feeling in my gut that I will be writing about Fellowship Church and Marc Ramirez in the course of time. If you are a former member and you would like to talk please reach out to me. What I will do is take this last part of this post and in a couple of days turn this into a separate post. Since I discussed the Streisand effect I will leave you with a Barbara Streisand classic. Marc Ramirez I dedicate this song to you. As Barbara sings I remember an Evangelical Free Church of America that is disappearing due to fundamentalism. As such I see a denomination that I no longer recognize. As always guys know that I love you!