Tatum Janel wrote a Google review about Redemption Hill, an Acts 29/EFCA church in Washington, D.C. being a place that allowed for her to heal from spiritual abuse. This open letter takes issue with Tatum. Acts 29 is not an environment for healing. Instead its a church culture that often instigates spiritual abuse.
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
“He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.“
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV
***Tatum Janel Foote is married to Andrew Foote. Together they call Redemption Hill Church home and are deeply involved. According to my research they are on the Kids Worship Team. Tatum is from Littleton, Colorado. Tatum wrote a Google review in which she called her Acts 29 church as a refuge from spiritual abuse. I am going to post that review below and write a response to it.***
“My husband and I have been attending RHC for 3.5 years. At first I was hesitant to engage and commit to RHC because of past church hurts. My former church made me feel unheard and therefore not valued because of the views it held in regards to women. Not only did RHC welcome me in, but extended extra care because of my past church experience. The emphasis placed on community, vulnerability, sound doctrine, and most importantly grace enabled me to not only enter a process of healing, but also gave me the courage to extend grace to my former church. I feel heard and deeply valued by this church. RHC is a family of imperfect people. who desire to walk alongside each other in seasons of suffering, in seasons of celebration, and all the seasons in between.”
This blog writes about atheism, doubt, Neo-Calvinism and the Evangelical Free Church of America. It was actually triggered out of an incident from Jordan Kauflin’s and Eric Simmons’s Redeemer Arlington back in 2013. A leader in Redeemer, at the time tried to get me involved in the former Sovereign Grace Church. When we clashed and fought because of the corruption issues, and scandal going on inside Sovereign Grace Ministries and also Acts 29 he triggered a false accusation that took aim at my name and livelihood. It threatened my name, ability to earn income and also taught my why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the military. That is what being “Gospel Centered” and following the teachings of Mark Driscoll, John Piper and Matt Chandler will do. You can read more in the following post, which also contains links to older articles that are more detailed. “Unless You Experience Spiritual Abuse Then You Won’t Understand How Painful it is.” So I use the experience to write about the dark side of religion and create a blog that can help others in difficult religious situations. Plus I also want to understand how these problems happen. This post wants to offer some push back and do some analysis on your Google review. I find the comments you made interesting and also troubling especially in the context of the Acts 29 patriarchal culture. So let’s get started.
If you were previously at a church that didn’t value women why would you go to an Acts 29 church in a movement that historically doesn’t value women? Are you aware of how women have been treated by the Acts 29 movement over the years? For example are you aware of the theological imprint and culture that Mark Driscoll left on Acts 29? Are you aware that Mark Driscoll also taught that women are penis homes? And that a repentant women performs a blow job on her husband because she is following Jesus. If you don’t believe me you can listen to the sermon in, “Reflecting on a Controversial Mark Driscoll Sermon About how a Repentant Woman Gets on Her Knees and Performs Oral Sex.” Are you aware of how women have been subjected to church discipline even in cases when leaving their husband because he is sexually attracted to children and into child pornography? That happened at The Village Church in 2015 and is the story of Karen and Jordan Root. Historically women have not been regarded as being human by the Acts 29 network. If you had problems with how women were treated previously, then why go to a church in a movement that has problems. The EFCA is historically egalitarian, where as Acts 29 is hardcore complementarian. This also has problems for the EFCA as well.
Consider the next sentence of your comment. “The emphasis placed on community, vulnerability, sound doctrine, and most importantly grace enabled me to not only enter a process of healing, but also gave me the courage to extend grace to my former church.” From my perspective this shows indoctrination and brainwashing. You spit out the trigger words of the culture you are in as you were taught. Words like vulnerability, “sound doctrine”, and grace have different meaning in the Acts 29 culture. For example can you honestly explain to me the difference between grace and the doctrines of grace? Words like vulnerability and “sound doctrine” are quite loaded in Acts 29 culture. You as a female are basically taught to bend to the will of Bill Riedel. Vulnerability is a ploy for church leadership to find out about members and later use sensitive information against them at a later point. That is a part of shepherding theology. Other Acts 29 churches have done that, as have Sovereign Grace churches which I have written about. And then you make the comment about the church allowing you to enter the process of healing. The way you have written it sounds like an alcoholic saying I am allowed to heal from going to one bar to another. And your last part of the sentence tells me how indoctrinated you are. It also shows how open you are to being manipulated and it makes me wonder, do you even know that? Who should you give blanket grace and forgiveness to a place that is hurting other people and won’t acknowledge their mistakes? Do you know what forgiveness and grace is Tatum? Based upon what you wrote in that Google comment I would say no, you don’t. You help illustrate why evangelical Christianity can be so profoundly toxic. Just forgive and move on regardless of the issue.
Now let’s look at the last section. “RHC is a family of imperfect people. who desire to walk alongside each other in seasons of suffering, in seasons of celebration, and all the seasons in between.” Do you really want to test that statement? Especially in the Acts 29 culture and more? Express doubt about how the system is working. Question what you are told? Wrestle with it? Don’t be “winsome.” You will face church discipline quite easily especially if you are a covenant membership. And based on your husband’s position at Redemption Hill, and what Bill Riedel wrote recently at The Gospel Coalition I suspect you are a covenant member. You can read about that in, “As a Member of Acts 29 and the EFCA, is Bill Riedels’ Redemption Hill in Washington, D.C. Prepared for the Issue of Sexual Abuse? This Blog Would Say No.” When it comes to dealing with spiritual abuse its not a simple quick fix of changing churches. The problems that existed at your old one are very much present at Redemption Hill. Its cultural and the problems run deep.
Now let me ask you another question as well. If Redemption Hill is healthy then why would it partner and work with Redeemer Arlington? Redeemer has long had a reputation of being a cult or cult-like. My spiritual abuse story from Redeemer Arlington was not resolved. Jordan Kauflin basically let the guy go and he didn’t do what he was supposed to. I could speak to an attorney, regular Christians, atheists, and more who understood what needed to happen and that it didn’t occur. The spiritual abuse impacted my family and popped up into a hospital room in a terminal illness. Tatum I would like to ask you the same question I would like to ask Bill Riedel. Should my Mom have had the privilege of dealing with a terminal illness in peace. Or should spiritual abuse affect that as well? Now let me turn the tables…what if its your Mom and spiritual abuse which is unresolved affects her. For me that would be insidious and wrong. So if you were committed to a solid church and really cared about the Gospel you would not support a church that creates and exports abuse in the Washington, D.C. area.
This post is not meant to be a spiritual attack. You see Tatum you are living and functioning inside a bubble. You think all is well and fine. But from the perspective of someone from outside the bubble things are not as well as you believe them to be. Its difficult and hard work to wrestle with what you decide to believe. But if you do that you will be in a far better place. If this post makes you uncomfortable enough to start to inquire and question what you are being taught then my job is done. My goal is not to challenge for the sake of challenging. Instead its designed to get people to think, and think for yourselves. Right now you are being told what to think. And that Tatum is a golden way to stunt and destroy faith because you can’t wrestle with the issues in the culture you are in now. Now you are in a bubble where the Neo-Calvinist Bill Riedel is praised and worshiped. The Neo-Calvinist pastor has a life of privilege. But think for yourself, instead of through Bill Riedel and your will be in a far better place.