A recent post by Benjamin Corey about shunning triggered a flood of emotions inside of me. It led me to ask a lot of questions and if I was shunned also by an Air Force Captain who tried to get me inside Redeemer Arlington. This post is about another aspect in the dark side of religion. Its about shunning and the effects of when Christians shun.
“A parade of anti-Christs, anti-Mormons, and apostate groups have appeared on the scene. Many are still among us and have released new floods of lies and false accusations. These faith-killers and testimony-thieves use personal contacts, the printed word, electronic media, and other means of communication to sow doubts and to disturb the peace of true believers…Avoid those who would tear down your faith. Faith-killers are to be shunned. The seeds which they plant in the minds and hearts of men grow like cancer and eat away the Spirit.“
Carlos Asay at the Mormon General Conference in 1981.
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
1 Corinthians 10:14 – 16 KJV
When I was being evangelized and before the shunning.
How some religions practice shunning, and how it can lead to depression and suicide.
Benjamin Corey had a fascinating blog post a while back that I put aside because of how powerfully it resonated with me. The topic dealt with ghosting another person. Another way of calling it is shunning. The belief is practiced by Scientologists and Jehovah’s Witness apparently. This blog doesn’t deal with either sect so I am not going to write about them, as I feel that would out of my league and I just want to stick to topics that I know. I did some research and am trying to find out if the Puritans practiced shunning. This topic was an issue that I had to deal with from Andrew White from Redeemer Arlington, and The Wondering Eagle would like to know if this Acts 29, former Sovereign Grace Ministries church practices shunning.
What is Shunning? Plus the Effects of Shunning
Shunning is when a person is isolated and cut off. Its when they are ostracized from a community or a group of people. Shunning can be overt or silent. Often it can come with no warning and leaves people confused or disoriented. When it comes to certain religious groups people are shunned for their doctrine and what they do not believe. The effects of shunning are deep and psychologically painful. It can determinant someone’s self esteem. It can leave people confused and asking questions and not able to resolve those issues. A person’s very existence can be doubted and challenged. Another issue is that shunning can lead to depression and psychological issues. This is all done due to punish someone to extract a toll. Shunning is bullying and is profoundly cruel. For some people in some situations shunning can lead to suicide. To learn more about shunning these following articles are well worth the read.
- Psychology Today, “The Silence of Shunning: A Conversation with Kipling William.”
- Amen Clinic’s “Can Ostracism Cause Lingering Pain in Your Brain?“
- Science Daily “The Pain of Ostracism can be Deep, and Long Lasting.”
- Huffington Post “A Reason (and Season) to Stop Shunning.“
- Alternet “The Social Death Penalty: Why Being Ostracized Hurts Even More Than Bullying.”
- WYSO 91.3 “Religious Shunning and Survival.”
Benjamin Corey’s Experience with Shunning
Benjamin Corey at his blog wrote about shunning and it well worth the read. The article is called, “Christian Ghosting: The Destructive Christian Practice We Don’t Talk About.” I lifted part of the article and inserted it below. Make sure you go to Benjamin’s blog and read the entire article.
It was like a magician showed up in my life, covered everything with a blanket, and then with a whisk of the wand it all disappeared– leaving me just holding a blanket.
The damage wasn’t just something I suffered– I also had to navigate hard discussions with my then 12 year old daughter as to why she lost all her friends as well. I still wake up every morning and try to extend grace for the sin of ghosting, but the fact my daughter had her closest friends ghosted from her as well, is something I still struggle to forgive.
Ghosting can happen to anyone, but we Christians sure know how to do it well.
It’s as if for us, loving people simply because they are people made in the image of God is not enough. Instead, we become only willing to love people who we are in harmonious agreement with. As long as we are in agreement, the relationship is solid– but the minute one person begins to grow and shift on this belief or that one, we bail.
We ghost people. We disappear from their lives. We abandon them. We sever ties.
And we do it in the cruelest way possible: with silence.
Sometimes I have to pray like Jesus did and say, “Father, forgive them– because they don’t know what they do.” Because honestly, I don’t think they understand the damage they’ve done.
I don’t think they realize that on the day they ghosted my family, my daughter lost the only close friendships she had.
I don’t think they realize that on the day they ghosted me, it was the day that my marriage started to seriously unravel.
I don’t think they realize how painful it was to experience three failed adoptions in the months after their disappearance– driving home the reality that we had no one to grieve with us, no one to check in on us, and no one who cared if we survived as a family, or not. Every waking morning was a reminder that none of them actually gave a shit about us.
I don’t think they realize that years later, the idea of going to church again or having Christian friends I can trust, is outside of what would be healthy or plausible for me.
I don’t think they realize that when they see us at the department store and turn to walk away before we see them, they’re not quick enough.
I don’t think they realize that I never fully recovered from that life event, and that it still impacts me on a daily basis. I felt it yesterday, I feel it today, and I fear I’ll feel it tomorrow, too.
I don’t think they realize any of those things. Sadly I don’t think they care, either– because if they did, they would have attempted to bind up the wounds they inflicted without letting years go by and life fall apart.
Was I Shunned? Is that One of the Issues that I Dealt with?
I remain absolutely puzzled and confused about what happened in my situation. I was actively evangelized by Andrew White who was trying hard to get me into Redeemer Arlington. Redeemer Arlington was the final church plant of Sovereign Grace Ministries before the 2011 scandal where it came out that C.J. Mahaney had practiced blackmail and was being dogged by allegations of covering up child sexual abuse. Andrew at Redeemer Arlington was a Care Group Leader. In this system Andrew is what Eric Hoffer would designate as the “True Believer” He was someone who drank the Kool Aid and because of how he bought into the church was placed in a position that reported to Jordan Kauflin.
When Andrew was evangelizing me he wanted to buy me books. He purchased for me a Leather Bound ESV Bible by Crossway. He wanted to have lunches, dinners, coffee and more and sometimes he purchased them. He wanted to be deeply involved in my life even to inquiring about personal areas of my life from health issues, to other areas. He was someone that left notes as he evangelized me. Up above you can read one of the notes that he left at my desk.
Then it suddenly changed. In the flip of the switch everything changed. It was like the lights went out and I was thrust into my darkest season. There was a false accusation which you can read in “How I Managed a False Accusation Given Birth to by a USAF Captain and Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington for 408 Days.” From then onward I was shunned. How was I shunned? These are the following ways it happened.
- When he walked past me in the hallway in a professional office environment it was like I was dead. Like I didn’t exist. I felt the ostracism and the pain and the isolation. I felt the coldness and it was directed at me. And just to be clear it was not the frozen chosen kind.
- He used the environment he was in to enforce the shunning. By dragging in other people it was enforced and he played to it. At any time he could have addressed it and it would have been easy because he was military. He had the upper hand in the entire situation.
- The behavior by Andrew changed 180%. I didn’t recognize him. It was like he was brainwashed. He reminded me of a robot in how he acted and behaved. He always said key phrases. It was like he was a chatty chatty doll with a big string coming out of his back. You could pull it and he would say, “Redeemer Arlington is the healthiest church I have ever been in.” His behavior reminded me of some of the Mormons I once knew in college.
- It dragged on and continued outside of work and outside the office. It spilled over into my personal life and effected areas I never thought possible. From relationships with other friends, to it popping up in my Mom’s hospital room as she was ill and would shortly die. Redeemer Arlington brainwashed and indoctrinated a person in their doctrine to the point that it effect a person’s job and even popped up in the dying process. Forgive me language as I type this but that is fucking sick.
- It gave me anxiety, uncertainty, and PTSD. I have not realized how severe it was until I told other people. Some of the people I have spoken to and written about here at this blog in individual church situations were horrified. The feedback stunned me. Perhaps the new normal is one of pain, trauma, and turmoil.
- Was this all the baggage from C.J. Mahaney’s SGM? Was this flawed policy in the DNA of the organization? Is that why this happened?
It was life, really a new normal. What did I do to deserve it? I called C.J. Mahnaey a fraud early on, called Mark Driscoll a fool and questioned those who he built his life upon. Somehow I am still here and standing. I remember in 2013 when one of my friends from Kansas looked me in the eye and said that he had no idea how his life would recover if he dealt with something similar. The pain is there still, and its the reason why Benjamin Corey’s article hit me so hard is because I identify and like Benjamin I am still dealing with the effects. Its the reason why I get involved and throw myself into some of these situations so that people can get peace and closure. Peace that I will be denied. But as I deal with that pain it still reverberates. Not long ago someone who knew both Andrew White and me learned of this entire situation. He was stunned and shocked. To be believed means a lot but it shows me that this just goes on. But my goal in dealing with this situation is to write about it and spare others what I endured. Jordan Kauflin and Eric Simmons, this article is my 119th post dealing with Redeemer Arlington. When Eric Simmons and I met at Northside Social face to face and told him that I was starting a blog, I don’t think he probably understood what happened and my determination in this after what I endured. In the end its the fact that I have also kept people away from Redeemer Arlington that also gives me hope. That gives me comfort in knowing that someone else in the Washington, D.C. area will be spared this behavior. Feel free to comment on the post and as always I love you guys!