Hello, and welcome to The Wondering Eagle. I’m asking you to read this page first before you start to explore this blog. I just want readers and people who find this on the internet to understand it better, know what its about and allow me to explain where I am coming from as this blog keeps growing. Below you will find a longer version of what this blog is about. However, if you need a more condensed version you can find that in, “What You Should Know About The Wondering Eagle – An Overview of this Blog So Readers Can Understand it Better.”
I Can Empathize With the Dark Side of Religion and Abuse
This blog writer understands the dark side of religion. This blog was triggered out of psychological pain. Years ago a false accusation by a United States Air Force Officer was leveled against me in 2013. At the time I was being evangelized and invited to Eric Simmons and Jordan Kauflin’s Redeemer Arlington. “Andrew White” (pseudonym) was evangelizing me in a faith crisis. The false accusation dealt with stalking and came out of the blue. It was shocking because Andrew pursued a friendship and invited me into his home and shortly before the false accusation asked me to change the password to his computer so he could not access pornography. He was deeply into Sovereign Grace/Acts 29 culture. Now I will be honest in stating that I made mistakes also at the time and I own those but what was leveled was not even an issue. After the false accusation Andrew then turned around in time and focused on recruiting another person to Redeemer Arlington. Meanwhile, I had to pick the pieces of my life off the ground and find a way forward. This situation became the darkest period of my life. I say that having also buried my parents in 2017 and 2018. Sadly I can understand what happened to my parents due to their illness, as painful as it is to state that fact. However, I can not understand how an Air Force Captain deep into John Piper, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller who also bragged about his faith could trigger a situation that taught me why rape and sexual abuse is a problem in the military. When I saw how a military officer can abuse his authority in a military culture it taught me why abuse can be a systemic problem in military culture. In time I sought counsel from an attorney who advised me that I had a defamation of character lawsuit against Andrew. All I wanted was a sincere and heartfelt apology. That never happened, instead he fled. And one of the things l learned from this mess and greater evangelicalism is that evangelicals never own their mistakes. Its why American evangelicalism is poisonous and toxic.
I have never recovered. As time has passed I stopped talking about it and learned that evangelical Christians don’t believe in asking for forgiveness or in seeking to pick up the wounded they create. The false accusation was the darkest season of my life and years later I still remain stunned that it even occurred. Its effect was not only on me but it caused pain to my family and even popped up in a hospital room in what was a terminal illness for my Mom. So when people approach me and share stories about a false accusation in church, corrupt elders or pastors and discuss sex abuse cover-up or other issues, sadly I can nod my head and relate. The reality is that much of this you will not understand unless you have endured it. If you want to read more detail you can read, “Unless You Experience Spiritual Abuse Then You Won’t Understand How Painful it is”
I Will Not Find Peace From Evangelicalism and Write to Try and Understand What Happened and Keep People Away From It
One of the reasons why I write this blog is to try and understand the dark side of religion and also to teach and keep people away from some of these places. In November of 2019 I traveled to the Chicago area to audit a spiritual abuse conference. It was organized by Julie Roys and had people from both Willowcreek Church and Harvest Bible Chapel show up. At the conference Wade Mullen gave an interesting talk about how he actually found peace from a dark spiritual situation. This blog is happy for Wade, but the reality is that about 99% of the evangelical abuse situations will not be resolved. Most people will not find peace and will remain stuck or hurt. You can read more about this in, “Why Wade Mullen Found Peace and Why I Never Will.” This blog writes about this topic so that when you get married, deal with that family illness or have to bury a loved one who passed away; your life can be spared the harm of some of these evangelical organizations and the trauma they inflict.
I Have No Plans of Going Back to Evangelical Christianity
I have pushed back from evangelicalism and have no plans of returning to it at all. I have done a lot over the years from the small church in the Wisconsin countryside, to doing the evangelical mega church in Washington, D.C. Plus I worked hard at planting the Campus Crusade for Christ (today called Cru) chapter at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 2000 until 2002. The reasons for me walking away from evangelicalism are many in addition to the spiritual abuse issue. The Neo-Calvinists have authoritarian issues and reformed theology makes the problem of evil worse. The traditional Baptist or evangelical side of Christianity is too involved in the culture wars and politics. In that side of evangelicalism you could say that Jesus suffered at Calvary and died for a United States Supreme Court seat here in my backyard of Washington, D.C. So I have transitioned into the dones and avoid church completely. However, I do pop up in many churches to write stories and collect information for publishing this blog. But I will not go for personal purposes again. To understand my mindset more you can go to, “Reflecting on My Decision to Reject Evangelical Christianity. Its Too Corrupt, Political and Intellectually Shallow.”
“It’s the Corruption Stupid…”
In 1992 when Bill Clinton ran for president James Carville used to hang up a banner at events saying, “It’s the economy stupid.” I’d like to use that thought in applying the problem to evangelicalism. While American evangelicalism struggles with intellectual issues and hostility to science there is also the large looming issue of corruption. And in the view of this blog many evangelicals are in denial about this problem. “It’s the corruption stupid” is how the issue should be phrased. For me its reinforced and also a part of my history. In the end I’ve largely written about almost every evangelical church that I once called home. From the sex abuse scandal at Elmbrook Church with a number of students preyed on my a youth minister who committed suicide in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area of 1999; to being a whistleblower at Fairfax Community Church here in the Washington, D.C. area with a high risk sex offender who had access to children, and the church lied to its congregation. But inside evangelicalism stop and think of all the scandals that have taken place, some of them this blog has written about. From the voyeurism and child pornography scandal of Bryan Loritts and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis, to the ongoing sex abuse crisis inside the Southern Baptist Convention, to some of the issues I have written about inside the Evangelical Free Church of America due to some flaws with congregationalism. But its much more than that as well. You have the Ravi Zacharias scandal, Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill or C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. Plus you often have financial scandals and also James MacDonald’s infamous abuse of power at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. The problems are endless and keep coming full speed. When it comes to American evangelicalism the single biggest problem is corruption. For me the corruption casts doubt upon God and willful ignorance by many evangelicals is damning. Other issues like gay marriage, transgenderism, shifting American culture, etc… often become a straw man’s argument for many evangelicals who can’t admit the problem is corruption. To read more about this go to, “Another Reflection on Rachel Held Evans: “It’s the Corruption Stupid.” Plus Other Challenges.”
#WonderingEagleEffect How Has This Blog Influenced Policy?
Some may ask how has this blog influenced policy? This blog drew attention to an alleged sexual predator at McLean Bible. It was a tragic story that highlighted the ongoing crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention with child sexual abuse. This blog has also written about other churches and puts its mark in regards to the Evangelical Free Church of America. The story that put this blog on the map with the EFCA in Minneapolis is when the story of Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania was covered. Its a tragic story of alleged domestic abuse, rape, authoritarianism in Calvinism, and the limits of congregationalism. This blog has also influenced policy in Acts 29 churches and other evangelical churches. To read more you can go to the following post, “#WonderingEagleEffect Introducing The Wondering Eagle Effect. How Has This Blog Influenced Policy?”
If You Are an Atheist or Skeptic You Are Most Welcome Here
This blog deeply values and appreciates the perspective of many atheists, secular humanists and skeptics. When it comes to the topic of religion they have much to say and indeed the world should listen. There are many evangelicals who have stated that atheists and those on the outside have no right to share their thoughts or feelings. That in itself is harmful and wrong. This blog has spoken with atheists and skeptics who have expressed to me their deep concerns about family and friends involved in some of these evangelical organizations, ministries or churches. In some cases its the atheist who can care more about the truth than the Christian. Atheists and secular humanists are needed also because quite a few have a deep background in religion and they can speak to some of these topics. So if you are an atheist or skeptic you are welcome to hang around here and engage in the discussions. To read more about this topic I will direct you to two posts that have been written. You can read more in, “Why the Evangelical Community in the United States Should be in Deep Gratitude to Atheist Steve Baughman” and “Are Atheists Ordained by God to be the Critics of Evangelical Christianity?”
This Blog Does Not Do Victim Advocacy
I write to try and understand the dark side of religion. That said, abuse, sexual abuse and other forms of abuse happen and they will be written about from time to time. But I am not trained to be an advocate and will not try to be something that I am not. The other issue is that there are advocates that have credibility issues as well. Some advocates will talk about abuse in a church setting but find ways to excuse abuse in other areas of life. That is not me. This blog wants to be respectful to bona fide advocates. The goal here is to write and study something along the way. If you want to read more you can do so in, “Why I am Not an Abuse Advocate. And My Concern With the Blogging and Internet World.”
This Blog is a Firm Believer in Science, Intellectualism and Expertise
Today there are many evangelicals who reject the Enlightenment and that is a tragedy. This blog supports the Enlightenment and will defend it. Likewise the writer of this blog grew up in a medical family. My Dad’s hero was Jonas Salk who invented the polio vaccine. Likewise I also believe in evolution as well. This blog is a firm believer in science, intellectualism and expertise. To read more about that go to, “Being Intellectual, Supporting Science and the Establishment While Empowering People to Think for Themselves.”
Feel Free to Question or Challenge What I Write at This Blog
This blog will not live in an echo chamber. I invite all people to speak their mind and comment. As long as personal attacks are not made you are free to say anything you want. What I write deserves scrutiny and should be looked at and judged. We may disagree but the moment I say that I am above the rules then I become a part of the problem. So feel free to agree, or disagree. Some people don’t want to leave comments and instead email them to me. That’s fine and welcome. You can read more about this in, “I Want You to Think For Yourself, to Challenge What You Hear; and to Learn to be Skeptical.”
Some of My Personal Concerns About Blogging
Blogging does not come without concerns. As time has passed this blog has noted and sees the concerns about blogging. Its important to be aware of these issues in order to try and avoid them in the course of writing. Yet I am also human in many ways. What are some of the issues with blogging? Some of the issues that can arise in blogging about these stories or issues are as follows. Narcissism can be a problem and this platform can attract people who are unhealthy. Tribalism is another cause for concern as bloggers can duplicate the mistakes of their critics. Another possible problem is confirmation bias. You can write about something and then look for evidence to back up your claims and dismiss other competing evidence. Its important to write for the right reasons and this blogger is aware of that claim. You can read more in, “My Concerns About Blogging and Reflecting on the Issues I am Seeing.”
The Groundrules Regarding This Blog and Conspiracy Theories Such as Q Anon and Others
This blog wants to contribute to the internet. It does not want to pollute or create disinformation. This blog has discussed the problems and issues with conspiracy theories. That said, this blog will draw a line in the sand and will not allow people to use posts to push discredited conspiracy theories. There are some people pushing false narratives about vaccines and autism. This blog categorically condemns those kind of conspiracy theories as being harmful. Likewise this blog views Q Anon as a threat to the online blogging community. As such I will draw a line in the sand and will not allow people to advance those conspiracy theories here. If you want to read more about why this is a threat please go to, “The Q Anon Conspiracy Theory is a Serious Threat to the Spiritual Blogging Community
Denomination Wise This Blog Focuses on the Evangelical Free Church of America
When it comes to focusing on a denomination this blog focuses on the Evangelical Free Church of America. Why? There is no blog that stood up to write about the EFCA and look at the organization. From issues of Calvinism, to Christian nationalism, culture, science, and also look at the EFCA’s history as well. Its important to be broad minded and look at the big picture. The EFCA is a complicated organization and I am writing about it from an outside perspective. For those who want to know I have a past history with the EFCA in California and briefly in Wisconsin. Also its important to know that the focus of this blog is not to tear down the EFCA but to discuss it. There are pockets of good people inside the EFCA and I have met with and been privileged to get to interact with some interesting and unique people. The following post deals with this blog’s focus on he EFCA which you can read about it in, “First Free Wichita Wants to Introduce you to the EFCA; Plus The Wondering Eagle’s Long Term Goals and Agenda with the EFCA.”
If You Are Involved in the EFCA and Want to Talk This Blog Welcomes Discussion
If you find this blog and you are a part of the EFCA and want to discuss or even correct me I am more than happy to explore situations with you. The last thing this blog wants to do is live and thrive in an echo chamber, Outside commentary or correction is key. I have worked at trying to build bridges with people and yes I have even had a few EFCA pastors who wanted to connect and correct me in a couple of cases. I am someone who listens and processes information. Let me give you an example. In 2020 I wrote a post about Oxboro Evangelical Free in Bloomington, Minnesota. The pastor of the church, Ben Groen, read it and wanted to speak with me, We had a frank and long discussion and I listened to what he said. In response I added an update to it to clarify a point and I realized that we agreed on some points. Its important to take and process feedback. Plus having once gone through a false accusation this blog wants to make certain it does nothing remotely close. So if you are from the EFCA in any capacity and want to speak with me you are more than welcome to reach out to me and discuss whatever you want. You can read more about this in, “The Importance of Listening and of a Blog Taking Feedback” and “First Free Wichita Wants to Introduce you to the EFCA; Plus The Wondering Eagle’s Long Term Goals and Agenda with the EFCA.”
This Blog Also Looks For Positive Stories As Well About the EFCA and Other Topics
The other point I want to stress is that this blog is not only focused on the negative or scandal. This blog looks to find positive stories as well. Its important for one other reason, as an outsider I can see aspects that organizations like the EFCA or other places might not see or understand. So if you know of something truly unique that should be written about that is positive and not a puff piece I am happy to pursue it. For some positive examples I will direct you to the following stories. “For Those Who Still Want to Try the Church, Look For the Pastor Who is a Peacemaker and Leaves Love and Closure in His Wake” , “An Open Letter to Eddie Cole (Transitioning Eastern District Superintendent of the EFCA and Wishing Him Well)” , “A Sampling of How a Number of Evangelical Free Churches in the United States Celebrated Easter Online in the Middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic” , “On Martin Luther King Day Being Thankful for the Efforts by EFCA North Central District Superintendent Brian Farone in Addressing Racial Injustice” and “EFCA Pastors: If You Want to Write a High Impact Blog to Reach People You Should Consider Benjamin Vrbicek’s Fan and Flame as a Model. Here’s Why.” Its important to be fair. And in all honesty if I focuses entirely on scandal well that misses these other issues as well.
Regarding Guest Posts and Stories
This blog is a busy and active blog. If you have anything about the EFCA, atheism or evangelicalism that you want to send me at my email feel free. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I also welcome guest posts and if you want to publish something within reason this blog is open to those ideas. Shoot me a note and let’s talk.
As I wind this all down I also want to also say the following. Speak with your doctor and discuss vaccination from Covid-19. Your doctor knows you and your medical history best, and just have an honest discussion about vaccination with your medical provider. You can read about my vaccination in, “With a Second Pfizer Shot I am Vaccinated Against COVID-19. This Blog Encourages You to Getting Vaccinated as Well.”
Otherwise brace yourself. Put on your seat belt and buckle up. The world of religion is a crazy ride and it will take you places where you never thought you would go. This blog welcomes you and appreciates what you have to bring to the ongoing conversation.