This post is meant to explore the the problem of people inside the ex-Harvest community pushing dis-information and conspiracy theories such as Q Anon. A series of tweets by Julie Heflin lead to me wrestling with this topic and then to compose this post. Conspiracy theories like Q Anon are why I have pushed back form some in the ex-Harvest Bible Chapel community. Being caught up in the satanic panic and the suggestion that John F Kennedy is still alive is disturbing. This is a post that I felt had to be written though its a sad one.
“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.“
“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Matthew 7:16-20 NKJV
In late October 2018 this blog read that James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel fired off a lawsuit against The Elephant’s Debt blog and Julie Roys. MacDonald went after both the writers of The Elephant’s Debt and also their spouses. It was a disturbing incident inside evangelicalism. I read about it and wrote a couple of posts in late October. Those posts eventually found their way to the ex-Harvest community and I started to get emails from people leaking documents and information to me. The first challenge I had is vetting the information. What is true? What is rumor? And what is false? At a blog like this sources are everything. Vetting and verification is important. I would not be able to write the blog I do without sources. One email that I received the person asked if they could speak to me by phone. At first I was a little apprehensive. How many of you give out your phone number to a stranger? But I relented and agreed to a conversation. Today in January 2021 I can remember this vividly. I was sitting in my Nissan Sentra in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Dinner was a cheap and quick burger. And I sat in my car and called someone in the Chicago suburbs. We exchanged pleasantries and started to talk. They explained their history with Harvest Bible Chapel. And they explained the chilling effect of MacDonald’s lawsuit. The Elephant’s Debt was silent and Julie Roys was dealing with the lawsuit as well. They then asked a favor of me. Would I be willing to take my blog and write about Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald? But this individual said there was a major problem. He explained to me that there was a high likelihood that James MacDonald would go after me. I sat there in my car and contemplated what I was hearing. And despite the risks as told, I decided to proceed and this blog focused on the issues of James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel in 2019. In the process of writing this blog I even traveled out to Chicago and met with a number of people. Heard stories and attended a service in Rolling Meadows where I watched the resignation of Steve Huston. I also went back to Chicago again to sit and watch the spiritual abuse conference called Restore Chicago that Julie Roys put together. In a blog like this one gets to know a lot of people. And as a people person I appreciate that in many ways.
But sometimes I wonder…was it worth it? Was it worth going out on a limb and writing in that capacity and applying some of the former research skills I picked up from Marquette University as a grad student in such situations?
Why I Have Rejected Evangelicalism
In May of 2020 I wrote a post explaining why I left evangelicalism and how I am trying to figure out what is next. You can read that post in, “Reflecting on My Decision to Reject Evangelical Christianity. Its Too Corrupt, Political and Intellectually Shallow.” One of the reasons which I state in that post is because evangelicalism is choking on conspiracy theories. And its affected the Christian faith in that one does not know what is true and what is false. The witness has been lost by engaging in outrageous conspiracies such as the Q Anon theory, the “Plandemic” and others. For those who do not know the Q Anon conspiracy theory states that the Democratic Party is smuggling infants and children as part of a pedophile ring within the party. They claim that Hollywood actors like Tom Hanks are also involved. Some in the Q Anon theory also believe that individuals like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer are actively engaged in cannibalism. Q Anon has been cited by the FBI as being a domestic terrorism threat and capable of inciting violence. And violence is what grew out of the Pizza Gate conspiracy theory when an evangelical from North Carolina, who was influenced by John Eldredge went into a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. with an AR-15 and fired a gun. Claiming he wanted to liberate the children from the basement sex dungeon that Hillary Clinton was running. When it comes to Q Anon you can read about it here, here and here. Let’s be honest, conspiracy theories are intellectually lazy, just like a lot of evangelical theology. And this problem has been a cancer I would suggest in other spiritual abuse communities. I have watched on social media how some of the people who left C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries have engaged in conspiracy theories. I have watched this also happen among some from the former Mars Hill community in Seattle, Washington. And I have seen it happen among the former Harvest Bible Chapel community and people involved with it. For several years I have bitten my tongue on this topic. But for those who ask, why do I push back from evangelicalism and faith? Or why I have pushed back from some people in Harvest Bible Chapel community; well one of the reasons is because of behavior in pushing conspiracy theories which Julie Heflin actively does.
Julie Heflin and Q Anon
According to some quick research Julie Heflin is connected to RT Maldaner and his wife Sarah. I wonder if she is involved in City of Joy but I can’t make that claim. I see this often where Q Anon is being pushed and tweeted. When you like at Julie’s tweets there are constant references to Q Anon. Discussion of “The Plan” and the infamous “WWG1WGA.” It also shows me that Twitter has a problem with its platform with such material being pushed – still. And if you look at some of the tweets I captured you can see Q Anon mixed in with faith. You can see the references to Lin Wood and the satanic panic and pedophilia. Likewise you can see the influence of Sidney Powell and faith. I actually have more about Powell I want to ask below. Plus you also have the misinformation about face masks and the pandemic. Then there are the references to the Kennedys as well. Study the tweets of Julie Heflin and then lets go and explore some more down below.
Is John F Kennedy Still Alive? I Thought He Was Assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963.
In the last tweet from Julie Heflin it addresses the Kennedy connection of Q Anon. The Q Anon cult believes that John F Kennedy Jr, who died in a plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean off Massachusetts in 1999 is still alive and the leader of Q Anon. What surprised me is what that last tweet implies about John F Kennedy. I thought he was killed in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald from the Texas School Book Depository. Those who believe in the Q Anon theory I suppose still believe he is alive.
Julie Heflin and those of the Harvest Bible Chapel community, have you read about how my Dad experienced the Kennedy assassination in North Carolina? It was an event that shaped his view of Baptists for the remainder of his life. After finishing medical school at the University of Chicago he started a surgical internship at Duke University. For my Dad North Carolina was a shock. He observed segregation and saw some aspects of Baptist culture in the South. But one event stunned him which he shared with me when I was growing up. Dad was at Duke when John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas in 1963. He was shocked by the news, and he also observed some of the Baptists be grateful for Kennedy’s death because they didn’t want a Catholic in the White House. It shaped my Dad’s view of Baptists in many ways. Its nice to know that evangelicals have improved from how they behaved back then. If you want to read more you can do so in, “When Baptists Were Grateful that a Catholic was Killed in Dallas. Plus a Solid Read in Politico: John F Kennedy in the 1960 Election and Facing Anti-Catholicism Bigotry by Evangelicals.”
Sidney Powell and People Not Really Being Dead
Julie pushes a lot of Sidney Powell on her Twitter feed. For those who do not know Powell made an incredible claim that makes me believe she should speak to a psychiatrist. In a news conference she claimed that voting software used by Georgia and other states was created at the direction of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and that votes for Trump had probably been switched in favor of Biden. Apparently even though Hugo Chavez died of a heart attack in March of 2013 he is still influencing the Georgia election. I was surprised to realize that Chavez still has influence – today. Can a person who has died still pull the strings? I mean can they really work from beyond the grave and be contacted? For Julie Heflin and those of the Harvest community into Q Anon, let me know as my and my siblings miss our parents who were buried in 2017 and 2018 and have questions for them also.
In Light of Julie Heflin’s Tweets on the Satanic Panic and Pedophilia, Should Paxton Singer Be Revisited?
But there is another aspect that is raised by Julie Heflin’s tweets. Should Paxton Singer be revisited in light of the evangelicals who push the Q Anon theory and Satanic Panic? Paxton Singer was arrested for sending sexual texts to a minor. Many people suggested that he did more. I had people contact me about Paxton Singer and they were outraged. But let me ask another question…if these sample people from Harvest pushing the Paxton Singer issue also were involved in Q Anon or the Satanic Panic is the issue being inflated and made much worse than it is? If a person from Harvest is into the Q Anon theory and lives in a world of conspiracy theories how do we know that what they are saying is truthful and honest? Do they know what reality is? Are they reporting the truth of what happened? Or are they wrapped up in a conspiracy and see Paxton Singer as an extension of that conspiracy theory? This is why this blog will not use a person into conspiracy theories as a source. It casts doubt and raises too many issues. This blog is ground in facts and deals with the here and now while also conducting analysis. This type of behavior is a threat to blogging as people who push conspiracy theories also undermine it. This blog also believes in being fair and accurate. If I am going to ask and write about James MacDonald in a difficult and probing way should the Harvest community also he held to the same standard? And let me leave this for you to reflect on…the biggest problem with such disinformation from a conspiracy is that it drowns out and cast doubt upon people who have actually been abused. Their voice is diminished when they speak up because people are going to be predisposed to dismiss the abuse claims.
Q Anon Causalities Sub-Reddit Group Should Also be Considered For Those Who Think the Conspiracy Harmless
Over at Reddit there is a sub-reddit for those who are casualties of the Q Anon conspiracy theory. I first learned of this in a Washington Post article which you can read in,” Washington Post: QAnon Is Tearing Families Apart.” For anyone of the Harvest community spreading Q Anon crap I challenge you to spend a few hours reading about destroyed families due to tis perverse conspiracy theory. Read the stories of the children who lost parents, friends who lost friends and someone in a marriage saying their marriage ended due to the Q Anon conspiracy theory. Is that family values? You can access the sub-reddit here, and I selected a couple of stories for you to read below.
Sorry, I need to vent. Just had a blow up with wife and daughter. I am not a supporter of Pelosi, but I took issue with the glee my daughter expressed at Pelosi’s home being vandalized. She and my wife are serious Q and conspiracy supporters. It has divided our family and normally we do not talk about the issues for the sake of peace. They just say, “Wait, you will see when all becomes revealed about the baby eaters, corruption, deep state, etc.” I am so tired of this crap. When will it end?
So I’m not sure if this is the right place or not, but I’m in need of some advice.
It started in October when a post was circulating on Facebook about our governments (we live in Canada) plan with lockdowns and starting UBI and reliving all our debts if we follow the vaccine plan, I didn’t know how far down the rabbit hole she was until she came downstairs crying one night about how she’s afraid of the great reset and talking about the one world government and how they will take everything we own, she was genuinely scared, and still is. I love my wife, we have 2 beautiful kids and she’s a great mother. I just want to help her, but I’m not sure how…
So. Wow. I’m so happy to have found this sub.
Just over three weeks ago after months of verbal and emotional abuse, which at its center has been caused by conspiracy theory related BS, my husband reached his breaking point.
We had an ok day doing Christmas related errands and decorating with our six month old for his first Christmas. Throughout the day my husband had a few Q related comments but I was able to get him in check.
Fast forward to about 7pm when I had a random Christmas playlist on. Some John Legend song came on and that was the straw that broke the camels back. He went into a spiral about how he and his wife Chrissy eat children and blah blah blah.
He wound up leaving the room and for the remainder of the night we stayed in separate rooms. As I was pumping so I could go to bed, he began screaming at me. I couldn’t tell you what he said because I entirely blocked him out.
I finished pumping, locked myself in our bedroom and got into bed. He barged in, broke the door handle, started to shove me while I was in bed, anticipating I would fight back but I played possum. Fighting wasn’t worth the risk of losing my baby boy. He was screaming at me to get the F out and other mean things. I remained in possum mode.
I got baby and I out as soon as it was safe to do so and he got arrested. The cherry on top of that was he told the police who responded “get the fuck out of my house, I pay your salary.”
24 days later, and one no contact order, baby and I are adjusting to our new life.
When we got married just over two short years ago, I had no inclination to believe he was a conspiracy theorist. All I do know is that Donald Trump has given people permission to be bad people, and my husband accepted that permission.
Good riddance to 2020.
I posted on here a couple of days ago about my friend who got into a fight with his neighbor and then hit my other friend (his wife) over some election conspiracy stuff. She apparently got the police involved to escort her while she left with their daughter. I spoke with her early last night and she sounded collected and calm. No emotion whatsoever talking to her about him. I wouldn’t think she had any ounce of consideration for him left if it wasn’t for her asking me to reach out to him to make sure he’s ok and that maybe I’d get through to him.
I called him. The conversation started off like you’d expect, he was sorry that he did it. He doesn’t know how to feel and he was ashamed. At one point, he started to sound like he actually had realized how ridiculous the whole thing was. I had told him “Well, it sounds like you have more than a few things that you need to get situated, but I have faith that you’ll be on the right track, dude.” And then that’s when things escalated pretty quick and in an even more scary direction that I had anticipated.
After I said that, he basically wound up saying that he had to have been on the right track and that what his other “friends in the chat room” was true. That he was “going to be alone in this fight, and to be willing to sacrifice everything for the truth”. At this point I’m kind of taken aback. I had a mind to jump in there and take control of the conversation, but I stalled and then he proceeded to go on a rant for like an hour and a half. He started off loud, but then eventually it almost sounded like he was frothing at the mouth. I could hear him getting emotional while he screamed about how these “pedophile fucks” have had control of the world “for eons” that his daughter has to grow up in it. How he has stayed awake at night because he had nightmares of “elites feasting on his daughters roasted little body”. How he has seen himself (as a navy seaman) documents showing that the deep state uses the planes that feed his family to move around the children the world to what he “knows for a fact” are human trafficking hubs. He even told me that he knows he’s risking his job “trying to expose the truth” and that he has a feeling the deep state has almost completely infiltrated the Navy. After a while I was just stuck with my mouth open while I listened. I looked up to this guy when I was younger. Actually wanted to be like him at a certain point even. And now instead of up, I was looking at someone that was nothing I recognized as a human. Just a paranoid monster screaming about imaginary evil.
I called his wife after and just apologized profusely. I thought it was just related to the election, but it was way worse. She said she was glad that someone else sees it too and that she may still be in shock, but that she’s pretty much checked out of the relationship and is already working on a divorce. She also said that because of the police report from the fight, even though the neighbor dropped charges after she begged, that he was going to have to go to captains mast. As far as I know about the navy, it’s a pretty bad place to go. Depending on what happens there, I’m not sure if I’ll be relieved if he gets discharged from the armed forces or afraid of what he’ll do next. I actually got like 2 hours of sleep last night and haven’t been able to focus on anything.
My uncle is one of the sweetest people I know. He has no family of his own – no wife or kids – so he’s all the more fiercely loyal and loving to the rest of us. He has never had much money but he has always made sure to give my mom checks to leave in our Christmas stockings from him. Every time we see him he tells my siblings and I how proud he is of us. He’s also schizophrenic… He’s had several major psychotic episodes throughout his life that have strained his relationship with his siblings. He’s unfortunately the butt of a lot of jokes. I never make them, I love the man and he’s one of my favorite relatives.
His condition makes him predisposed to beliefs that aren’t consistent with reality, and he’s always been a conspiratorial person in the best of times. 9/11 was an inside job, the aliens are being hidden, the government is using subliminal messages in the television to keep down our vibrations, etc. Naturally this thinking sometimes makes it impossible to convince him to take his medication, which just leads to a downward spiral.
QAnon has provided my uncle with validation for everything he believes and he’s doubled down on absolutely all of it. It’s all that appears on his Facebook. He keeps talking about how things are about to get better, how everything is about to change. We’re about to enter an age of enlightenment and the rest of us just have to wait and see. I can barely talk to him, and I’m one of the few people in our family who ever bothers trying to have a real conversation with him due to our shared interests. He is so, so invested. I feel like the whole thing is a ticking time bomb. I just don’t know how he will handle not seeing this stuff play out.
It’s not fair. The man is practically a saint as far as I’m concerned. I despise QAnon so much, and I want to despise Trump supporters, but I just can’t despise my uncle. I despise the fuckers who are manipulating vulnerable people to push a political narrative. I despise every single person who has played into this, even covertly as Trump himself has. My uncle doesn’t deserve to be manipulated like this. He deserves to be able to talk to his own family. He deserves to heal. He deserves not to have his most destructive beliefs validated. He has been doing so well the last few years. It’s just not fair.
My dad has always been sensitive to conspiracy theories, but ever since Corona he has really spiralled out of control. Our relationship has always been bad because of his abusive nature, and I (F24) was actually toying with the idea to break contact once and for all. Well, this Christmas he made the decision for the both of us.
It started with one of his classic WhatsApp rants. A very long message with an overuse of the Capslock button. Every single time I ask him very politely to stop doing that, and I suggest talking about something else instead (since he shows no interest in his kids at all). Then he said I was rude and should show him some more respect, and he went ahead calling me names and insulting me. My dad is one of those men that thinks their children are their property, and can treat them however they please. So just my polite disagreement is a huge sign of disrespect in his eyes. He then went ahead and compared me to Nazi collaborators, and said I was part of the elite (his favourite jab since I enrolled in university this year) and have been brainwashed.
…Then he said he never wanted to hear of me again and blocked me. And knowing him, he might follow up on this. Don’t really know how to think or feel about it…
Julie Heflin Makes a Good Case for Atheism and Some Final Take Aways
I look at those tweets posted above and my mind is a blur. Up above I shared my decision to leave evangelicalism last year and be done with it. The Q Anon tweets by Julie Heflin give me pause and want to ask other evangelicals what is faith? Didn’t Jesus say you will know a person by their fruit? And if that person is pushing a conspiracy theory that says that Nancy Pelosi feasts and dines on babies for dinner what does that say about them? What Julie Heflin is actually doing is gossip and slander because there is no evidence to back up any of these claims which remain baseless. One of the issues I keep going back to at this blog is how evangelicals have lost all credibility. Christians pushing Q Anon make a great case for atheism. They show the world what they are and what they stand for. Its not for Jesus but other issues. Jesus said he wants to worship people in spirit and truth. Can you worship Jesus when you are up to your eyeballs in conspiracy theories and junk websites that spit out propaganda? This post has been a sad one to do and its been with me over night, before I decided to write this post. But let me list the take aways from this situation.
- This is the third major ministry scandal where I have seen the ex-communities go in this direction. Its actually changed my approach to writing. In the past I wrote with the intent of helping people get out of organizations like Harvest Bible Chapel. Today I view that as being futile. You can bring a horse to water but you cannot make them drink. Instead I focus on the community with the goal of letting people know about the danger that is there and helping to keep them away form places like Harvest.
- Some of the people from these ministries will never learn. They will live their life going from cult to cult. Its how it is and it will not change at all. They will renounce James MacDonald and shortly thereafter embrace someone very similar shortly thereafter.
- Many evangelicals can’t be more that what you currently see. When a person says they are an evangelical I quickly lower my expectations. Its the reality of the situation and a movement that dumbs people down. Those tweets above validate what Mark Noll said about the scandal of the evangelical mind.
- Its also clear that many evangelicals do not care about what they are projecting to the outside world. If they did they would be much more sensitive to what they do or say.
- This also smacks of Christian nationalism and with that topic its clear that faith is made into a weapon. Its weaponized and used for a malevolent intent. Jesus didn’t come for the redemption of the world from sin. Instead he died at Calvary for a political cause. The Gospel is about political control and causes – NOT redeeming the world from sin.
- I grew up in a medical family and my Dad was a physician on all at the local hospital. Face masks are safe. And if you speak to any credible doctor or person in the medical profession they will affirm that claim. My Dad like any medical professional used face masks in surgery or in sensitive situation that medically deemed them necessary (i.e. infectious disease) But I would like to ask the question is a person who pushes conspiracy theories that can harm people actually prolife? This blog would say no.
- I can’t tell you how often I see this material and that is why many aspects of faith are toxic.
This has been a hard post to write and its my hope that I don’t have to write another one like this.