The Misunderstood Gift of Discernment

This site and its authors are no longer active.  Some colleagues write on similar topics at another site: CLICK HERE

The following was photographed from the Free Believers Network.  It is perhaps the best description of the spiritual gift of discernment I have seen so far.  I asked the author if I could use this and obtained his permission.

Beni Johnson posts another photo of herself on Instagram in cemetery!

Please note that this site and its authors are no longer active.  For some colleagues’ site on similar topics, CLICK HERE



Protected: Protect our children and God’s people: Warning! False advertising about accreditation at Calvary Chapel Green Valley Christian School in Henderson, Nevada and a helpful article on spiritual abuse written by Dr. Darrell Puls…

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Warning Signs by Rick Ross

This site and its authors are no longer active.  CLICK HERE for some colleagues’ site on similar topics.

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader:

  • Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
  • No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
  • No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
  • Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
  • There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always are wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  • Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
  • There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
  • Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
  • The group/leader is always right.
  • The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible/

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader:

  • Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
  • Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
  • Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned, it is characterized as “persecution”.
  • Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
  • Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought.
  • A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
  • Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
  • A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
  • Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
  • Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.  Former followers are at best – considered negative, or worse – evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

Signs of a safe group/leader:

  • A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.
  • A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses.
  • Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.
  • A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.
  • A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.
  • A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.
  • A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.
  • A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.
  • A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.
  • A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.
  • A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.

Don’t be naïve, develop a good BS Detector.

You can protect yourself from unsafe groups and leaders by developing a good BS detector. Check things out, know the facts and examine the evidence. A safe group will be patient with your decision making process. If a group or leader grows angry and anxious just because you want to make an informed and careful decision before joining; beware.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
Source: Rick Ross, Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist.  Warning Signs.  Cult Education Institute.  Copyright 1999-2014.  Trenton, NJ.  Used with written permission.  Originally accessed October 15, 2012.  This list was originally retrieved from and can now be viewed at

Public Facebook page owner Mark Brown and Christi Armstrong teachings on divorce and marriage (Jesus Christ, The Bible, Global Scope Ministries)

In my opinion, fellow Christians need to be very alert with certain public teachers’ teachings and how they claim their teachings are “Biblical” and from Jesus Himself.  This ministry has no ill-will toward these teachers, but encourages caution (and extreme discernment and careful analysis) in accepting all their teachings as Biblical or ethical.  
“Therefore what God has joined together, let man NOT separate.” Mark 10:9
Be very discerning with any pages run by “Global Scope Ministries” or by “Rev” Mark Brown is married to writer Christi Brown (previously “Christi Armstrong” before her and Mark’s divorce, which was all public information broadcasted on social media by them).  He has several teachings that are allegedly for God, Jesus, prayers and so on.  It seems to me that this guy is posing as the mouthpiece of Jesus while teaching some wacky things about marriage and divorce.

Calvary Chapel Green Valley Henderson Nevada: A Safe Christian Church and Academy or a Spiritually/Emotionally Abusive Coercive-Control Danger To Children?

“Freedom of conscience and belief is inviolable, and the free exercise of religious sects is assured, as long as they are not contrary to public order or good morals.  Religious associations shall acquire juridical personality according to civil law.  No one shall be deprived of this right by reason of religious, philosophic, or political convictions.”

– The Constitution of Brazil, 1946

Please check out the following article at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) written by my colleague and friend, Dr. Darrell Puls:

Please also check out Nevada’s “A Guide To Non-Profits” by Nevada’s Attorney General:

“The nonprofit organization itself, however, may be held liable for negligent or wrongful acts of its employees or agents. In an extreme case, the organization may be dissolved. Under Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 41.480, a director may be held personally liable for injuries caused by the director’s intentional misconduct, fraud, or knowing violation of the law…Beware of the one person show. That is, if one or two directors dominate the board and the organization’s activities, do not relax and assume everything is running smoothly. ‘Nonmanagement’ is the quickest route toward trouble. Also, do not allow staff to exercise undue control over the board. Be aware of, and informed about, every major action taken by the organization. The buck stops with you.” (Italics added) – Nevada’s Attorney General

Taking the above into consideration, isn’t it interesting that the foundational doctrines of all Calvary Chapels found in the Calvary Chapel Distinctives (written by Chuck Smith) teach that the pastor is not accountable to the board?

“They are there to minister to the spiritual needs of the people on a daily basis. With these components in place, there is a great form of church government where you, as the pastor, are not in the position of a hireling. Becoming a hireling is a real danger when the church is run by a Presbyterian kind of a government, and the Board is ruling over the church. The pastor is hired by the Board and can be fired by the Board in the same fashion. With that kind of rule the pastor becomes a hireling [a hireling, in the Bible, has a derogatory meaning].” (Italics added) – Chuck Smith

Do you see a discrepancy?  This creates a ripe breeding ground for abuse to go unchecked.

Non-profits have a higher duty to the public.  They have a legal and ethical obligation to the community (this includes church members).  Church members should not become their submissive robots.  Boards probably shouldn’t be populated with the pastor’s friends.  The board should supervise the pastor to make sure there is no abuse of power.  How do they get away with the pastor ruling over the board?  The board in tax-exempt organizations is there to make sure the organization is acting legally and ethically.  As ambassadors, they have a duty to the public for the public good, but most of them are terrified of the pastor.  As a result, members in these types of organizations get spiritually, emotionally and/or narcissistically abused due to severe unaccountability.  Where is the proper “duty of care” and care in decision making?  Particular care should be given in keeping the pastor accountable.  Instead, it’s a top-down, pyramid-like power structure.  Sadly, many fall prey to these dynamics.

Please note that some of the written content of this post is now password protected as well as the previous article entitled, “Protect our children and God’s people: Warning! False advertising about accreditation at Calvary Chapel Green Valley Christian School in Henderson, Nevada and a helpful article on spiritual abuse written by Dr. Darrell Puls.”

Please make contact if you would like to read more about this unsafe group in the password protected post.  Please also consider leaving an anonymous comment on this post so that others can be warned.  I have included some of the personal testimonies of those who left, written by a group of several individuals.  These were public photos of a public debate, and this is a public concern!

I strongly encourage you to research spiritual abuse and the helpful articles on this site pertaining to Calvary Chapel’s spiritual abuse (please see the drop down menu on the right side of the page).  There have also been many negative Yelp reviews removed.  I have seen through the years victims being silenced, even on public platforms.  Please see the helpful comments at the end of this post and look up Cult Expert Rick Alan Ross’s “Warning Signs” List for unsafe groups.

Please note that none of the following testimonies in the screenshots were written by me.  The following testimonies in the screenshots were written by several different individuals on a friend’s Facebook post, and I have concealed their identities in red (even though, the post was public).  I have also chosen to conceal which leaders/pastors were abusive, at this time.

Update: I asked a woman (I will keep her anonymous) about this in November of 2020, and she told me regarding the children, “It was spiritual and emotional abuse. I do remember your investigation into their lies. I believe it was 2013.”  Please understand that these were former church members – very kindhearted individuals – who witnessed some sort of abuse or “hurting [of] innocent children” (see quote below).  The other people have not clarified what they mean by “hurting.”  Sharing on social media was their way of warning, and I know it was hard for them.  These screenshots were taken several years ago of a friend’s social media post.  The authorities were probably not contacted because the leadership of this church drills into their members’ minds that going against leadership is equated with going against God Himself.  Their motto is “Touch not the Lord’s Anointed”, and they use it in a twisted way as a fear tactic.  I have noticed the mentality that exposing emotional abuse of children, to them, is having “unforgiveness and bitterness toward leaders.”  Of course, this is how they silence people.  They hide behind the “Moses Model” form of leadership (this dangerous structure can be researched online).  The mind control and phobia indoctrination is strong at this church.  I know, because I attended for almost five years.  I ended up looking back on my friend’s page, and she deleted the warning or made it private (this was after I managed to get the screenshots).  The shame and condemnation that this church puts on members for speaking out about injustice, lies, false claims, hypocrisy and/or hurt children is unprecedented.  They automatically accuse others of “slander” (a biblical “No-no”), when we can be sure that speaking the truth is not slander – especially when it comes to hurting children (emotionally, spiritually, or whatever “hurting” means)!  They tell their members that they will “not enter the Promised Land” if they speak out against or question leaders (a staff member told me this years ago).  They also say that leaders are “vertically above” members (a pastor told me this on multiple occasions, direct quotes).  With regard to slander, the truth defends itself!  Silence is not golden, but this church uses mandated shunning toward those who speak up.  Slander must contain a falsehood/malice to be slander.  Speaking the truth out of concern, however unpleasant, is not slander!  This is true both in the court of law and from the biblical standpoint (see Titus 1:13, etc.)  The heavy shame of speaking out is probably why these comments only made it to Facebook, and probably why it was deleted.  I doubt anything was done beyond Facebook, and sadly, I too was brainwashed into thinking I would go to hell if I got the leaders in trouble.  There is a strong “hush hush” mentality at this tax-exempt, non-profit organization.  The cult mentality lingers for years.  It was very hard for me to even write the post, and when I did, someone (I am thinking, a leader) saw it and commented that I was a slanderer.  Even though, I read and reread it nearly fifty times and made sure everything I said was the truth or direct quotes.  I suffered from shame after I wrote it because of the leaders’ harassment.  They (the few that didn’t delete me) attacked me on social media on my own page.  Due to the panic and confusion that comes from severe emotional abuse and PTSD, I felt heavy guilt for exposing the leaders (i.e., “God’s anointed” with the “anointing” of Moses).  Looking back, I remember when one of the pastors humiliated someone during a church service by speaking about them to the congregation.  My guest at the service that day thought it was rude and weird.  Also, one time, during a church service, a woman started crying in response to something disturbing/condemning the pastor preached.  She raised her hand to ask a question.  She was clearly in severe distress, and it would have been appropriate for him to respond to her.  The pastor just kept on preaching and ignored her.  It was so opposite of the empathy that Jesus had!


A Psych Central articles explains acute stress disorder: panic reactions, mental confusion, dissociation, severe insomnia, being suspicious, and being unable to to function in life.  I have known people who have also suffered from Acute Stress Disorder/PTSD after having experienced severe emotional abuse and/or pastoral abuse.


The church and the mandated shunning really did a number on me (an understatement).  If I recall correctly, I think I notified some more people, but since this was so long ago, I don’t remember exactly who I notified.  This post was my way of alerting the public and trying to sound the alarm.  Since I wrote this, I have come across a teenager who threw the towel in on God totally because of the treatment at the church.  I ran into a leader who left who said the church was affecting his marriage.  Another person said online, “The church is dividing the family unit.”  This was the “divide and conquer” mentality I saw there, even with marriages, they would give “bad counsel” according to a close friend.  Someone else (not anyone in the comments provided here) said the church was targeting the youth.  Today, thanks to God, some good help and people who have enlightened me, I know there is nothing wrong with me.  I’m not going to hell for exposing these falsehoods and direct quotes and trying to protect children.  I saw an injustice and spoke up about it.  I’m very happy today that I did, despite all the emotional agony that accompanied it.  I am an advocate for the abused and the oppressed – those oppressed by “religious” bullying.  I feel completely free from this disguised cult and really could not care less what the leaders or others think of me for exposing these screenshots and eye witness accounts.  Contrary to “Papa Chuck Smith”, God is truly on the side of those who speak up about abuses, not those who perpetuate them!  Hindsight is 20/20!  Dear CCGV, I have prayed for you that God would open your eyes to what you do.  I have no ill-will for you and I simply want you to stop lying, respect basic human rights and act like a legitimate non-profit.  May you either wake up to what you have done or may all the shame and spiritual/emotional/verbal abuse you have done to children and adults be further exposed.  Let’s close with this: May God bless you, keep you, make His face shine upon you…and while He’s at it…may He make you well aware of every single one of your shocking and questionable actions: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus taught in Matthew 18:6 that whoever causes a little one (those who believe in Him, especially a child) to stumble, it would be better for that person to drown in the sea.  Amen.

Please also note that I confirmed in my investigation that this church was making a false claim (an outright lie; see screenshots) for over three-and-a-half years about the membership of its school (Calvary Chapel Green Valley Christian Academy) at ACSI, an accreditor (see screenshot below).  What this means is that parents were sending their kids to this school thinking for years that the church was a “member” of ACSI.  This is highly deceitful.  And, given these reviews about “hurting children”, this is even more problematic when we think about it.  That’s kind of a long time to not notice a “glitch” on the website and school forms.  I hold to the belief that we have plenty of reason to believe this was purposeful, especially since the church website was apparently regularly/weekly updated and monitored.  The accrediting company did their own investigation into the matter after I called and alerted them.  They said the church was promoting erroneous information to the public on their website (see screenshots below).  They told me the church was not allowed to claim membership.  Maybe you are wondering why I was researching their accreditation.  It’s something that God put strongly on my mind to do, and I later found out why.  The Attorney General’s guidelines in the section entitled “Duty of Obedience” explains how it is wrong to:

“Make any statement or representation concerning a contribution which directly, or by implication, deceives or misleads a person acting reasonably under the circumstances; or Make any statement or representation which omits any material fact, if the omission has the tendency or effect of deceiving or misleading a person acting reasonably under the circumstances.”

Just like in Scientology, bringing these issues up gets one labeled a suppressive or divisive person (in Scientology, the label is SP; In Calvary Chapel, the stigmatizing label is DP).  Clearly, non-profits should not be misleading the public in any way, shape or form – especially when it comes to children or schooling.  The following are some eye witness accounts of emotionally and/or verbally abused and/or mistreated and/or ridiculed children and youth.  It is unclear to me if the abuse was also physical in nature as that was not specified in the eye witness accounts.  When I went to the church, I did not see physical abuse there.  I do lean toward thinking that the abuse was severe in nature as well as spiritual, emotional and/or verbal in nature – but, I don’t want to assume.

One pastor’s wife of the church (anonymous), when I would spend time at her house, was very rigid with her children.  I felt that they were overly controlled in their environment.  I witnessed one of the children (around the age of four or five, as I recall) getting food nearly forced down his throat at a birthday party, even though he was crying hysterically saying he didn’t want to eat what was being offered (I mean, “forced”, and it was a grape).  The dad (a pastor at CCGV, anonymous) was angry that the child would not eat the grape and was forcing the grape, yelling, “Eat it!  Eat it!” as the child was sobbing.  It was a sight to see.  My whole family thought this was very odd and disturbing.  In my eyes, the child was not being rebellious.  If a small boy is crying, saying he doesn’t want to eat a snack, I let the matter go and offer another snack or wait until the child is hungry.  It’s as if this pastor was trying to impress the other parents at the party by his “authority” or “rule.”

This is what the Calvary Chapel mentality is all about; they are hyper-authoritarian – through and through.  I spent a lot of time at their home.  His wife, a Bible study leader, was kind to me, at first.  Please note that this couple is now in the senior leadership at another Calvary Chapel in Nevada, but I wish to keep them anonymous.  I noticed “off” things.  She would set timers for her infant.  If her infant cried in the crib, she would not go get him until the timer (alarm) went off, even if the baby was crying.  This woman later told me that I should not be so liberal (loose, loving, attentive, giving, etc.) with my small kids.  She told me it is a good idea to, when my baby gets grouchy or it’s nap time, just put my baby in the crib and “go have some tea”, even if the baby is crying.  I witnessed the dad being frustrated with his infant when he was crying.  This was an infant!  At one point, later, she rebuked me at my home and had told me I was wrong to allow my toddlers to eat snacks in their playroom.  She told me God wanted me to “toughen up” with my kids.  I didn’t parent with extreme, overboard control; it wasn’t my style.  I didn’t delight in shoving food down my small child’s throat (literally, his hands were inside the child’s mouth trying to force the child to eat the grape).  I was condemned harshly for giving my children snacks in their play area or responding to them when they cried!  One woman told me that one of the pastors picked out his wife’s clothing every day and would not let her choose, but this is not confirmed with evidence.

Any sort of dissent toward leaders or questioning was considered rebellion against God.  It is my conviction that pastors of non-profits must be required to go through a regular mental health check with a licensed psychologist or doctor, ruling out any and all mental health issues which lead to the thought that one is God or Moses and ruling out disorders which lead to severe narcissistic abuse of our citizens and children.  This is for the public good.  This would be the publicly responsible thing to do.  CC at large has a massive amount of public outcries concerning spiritual abuse.  Religious abuse of power is the worst kind.

The following are just the facts: this church in Henderson, Nevada is led by Pastor John Knapp and women’s Bible study leader Amber Knapp.  The church has also been led by Pastor Greg Seymour.  Staff members and/or Bible study leaders and/or woman’s ministry leaders have included Pastor Jason King, Deb Sutton, Becca Powall, Greg and Vicki Seymour and Rudy and Brenda Arce.  Bill Adams was on staff for the school.  They were all informed and apathetically, they were not capable of hearing about spiritual abuse.

Please see the following screenshots.  Please note that when I reported severe emotional/spiritual abuse to some of the individuals at the church, so many of them I spoke to stonewalled me and turned a blind eye with apathy and carelessness.  This is not the Christian spirit as seen in Philippians 2:3,4 about valuing others above ourselves, not looking to our own interested but to the wellbeing of others.  As long as the church was growing, they didn’t seem to care about the harms and effects of their behaviors.  They told me that Matthew 18 also does not apply to them, only the “members below” because the leaders are “above” everyone else.  In other words, certain Bible verses don’t apply to them, or so they say, but only to those below them whom they Lord over.  Last but not least, it is my view that this organization violates many of the ethics codes as found in the country’s top psychology, social work and Christian counseling associations’ ethics codes.

Source: Smith, Chuck (1993). “Church Government”. Calvary Chapel Distinctives. The Word For Today. Archived from the original on April 28, 2007

In this account, she is referencing the following “warning signs” list which I shared on the post:




This was their false claim on their website from July 23, 2013




Reviews that mysteriously vanish.





Anonymous (Shared with permission):


“In my twenties, I was severely emotionally and verbally abused by a pastor at the church (I will keep his name private, for now), in two meetings he called me to, which resulted in very severe PTSD which lasted for a long time.  In these meetings, I experienced severe spiritual abuse and moral injury at the hands of church leadership which resulted in PTSD.


My trauma included nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories, an exaggerated startle response, etc.  Also, extreme social anxiety and looking over my shoulder at grocery stores (where I quite often saw my church friends as it was not a big town).  The things the pastor said to me were the most untrue, wicked and ugly things I have ever heard anyone speak in my life, and I never expected this from him since he seemed so pleasant when preaching.  In hindsight, this was the psychological tactic of projection at play.  My crime was reading certain books on the “unapproved author list” as well as doing a Bible study in another Christian church mid week.  I was shamed for not doing all my activities at this church.  Of course, I was further shamed and abused for asking why this was such a huge problem.


I thought for sure God hated me; I felt so condemned.  I know now as a counselor that this was a moral injury (MI) and emotional abuse.  I started to view God as very punitive and angry.  I felt hopeless because of the leaders’ treatment.  In fact, many leaders here were spiritually abusive.  I could understand how people could become athiests due to extreme hypocrisy in churches where pastoral accountability was scoffed at.


I could not reconcile the concept of a loving God with the abusive behavior of some of these leaders.  It was a severe emotional beating, which Jesus warned about in Luke 12:45,46.  In addition to the severe projection, the pastor went heavy on the gaslighting in the meeting, which is also a psychological tactic for abuse.  The issue at hand was quickly dismissed and the entire problem was turned back on me and my character.  He told me sternly as he leaned over his desk and stared into my eyes as I was weeping, that God says “Discipline is painful!”  There was one other person, a female apath, in the meeting who just sat back and went along with all he said.  She sat there cold and rigid.  I had showed up to the meeting with Valentine’s day gifts for his children and a baked gift for his wife, too.  And, a Starbucks coffee for him.  I had no clue what I was about to encounter, and I was like a deer in the headlights.  I was absolutely flabbergasted.  He shoved the gifts across his desk at me with rage.


I know what healthy ‘church discipline’ is and is not.  I know the difference between loving, godly discipline/correction and spiritual and emotional abuse.  Again, my only ‘sin’ was that I had visited another Christian church down the street for Bible study and read a book by a Christian author which was not on their approved list (they called me ‘divisive’ and evil for doing this).  I had asked a female leader at the church about these odd, legalistic rules, only to be silenced and asked to “pray about” leaving.  They also would discourage me from getting together with a friend to watch a Christian parenting program.  I was sternly warned by one of the leaders in an email.  I had questioned a leader about a harmful practice/teaching I saw (also, I noticed a few lies at the church).  They were telling my dear friend how much she should weigh.  This made my friend sad.


They publicly blasted and shamed a staff member who was fired.  I later ran into him at another church, and he said, “That pastor is not nice” with tears in his eyes.  I had coffee with his dear wife. They told me one of the pastors fired them and told them to go sing at a strip club downtown where they belonged. The things the leadership would say were so outlandishly heinous and damaging.  I don’t know how someone could come up with such warped words.  The odd thing is, the pastors all looked so nice on the website and in the services!  It was as if a mask came off.  I couldn’t have a lady’s gathering at my house without the pastor’s wife wanting to come see what I was doing.  The pastor told me directly when I confronted him face-to-face that Matthew 18:15-17 does not apply to him and the leaders, but only to the “members vertically below him” (direct quotes).  The pastor taught that he was the spiritual covering.  Oddly, when he told me these things face-to-face, for a few hours I truly believed him, it was like I was temporarily duped.  He used intense eye contact when he told me this as well as in the meeting.  I realized through an epiphany later that day that what he said was warped.


After this stern shaming, I was warned in writing to never step foot on property again.  Even though I had been on the meal ministry for many years and served at the events, and given way more than what was appropriate to the “tithe”, I lost all thirty of my dearest friends as they were mandated to cut me off.  There are two books written by Bonnie Zieman called Shunned and Cracking the Cult Code For Therapists about mandated shunning which are both incredible.  Anyway, never mind the fact that I had brought them meals for years when they got sick.  These were people I prayed with for years and served with every week.  Everybody sided with the pastor, of course, without knowing the whole story.  I told my best friend about what happened.  My best friend said something along the lines of (not in these exact words), “I can’t hear this about my pastor, he is my shepherd and covering, and I must submit to him because he is my holy spiritual covering, yada, yada, yada.”  Then, she vanished.  Until, she and her children were abused years later and came crawling back to me!  Until, she got sucked back in.  Until, she came crawling back to me a year later telling me how horrible the church was.  Until, she returned to the church again because the church was the “only real one in town.”  It was hard to witness the cultic pull.  She was brainwashed into thinking that all the other churches were no good, but at other times, her eyes were opened. This happened no less than seven times.  The cultic pull was quite strong.


I was so grieved and traumatized that I could not walk for days without being hunched over.  The leaders of the church came on to my social media page and attacked me – on my own page, not theirs – with paragraph after paragraph of hateful speech.  I did not do this to them!


I have heard the same happen to others in Calvary Chapels, particularly this one; it’s the same pattern of abuse from person to person.  One pastor’s wife I know (at a different CC) said the entire church turned on her when she divorced her husband over his affair with the secretary.  In CC, the pastor is always right and worshipped.  I used to be friends with Alex Grenier of Calvary Chapel Abuse (.com), before we lost touch and he was somehow pressured and/or chose to shut down his page.  He lives in another state, and he distanced himself after dealing with all the abuse (his dad was a Calvary Chapel pastor, and he wrote a lot about it).  Thankfully, I heard from a mutual friend that he is doing well and has reconciled with his dad.  Anyway, on his page, there were hundreds if not thousands of eye witness accounts of CC abuse.  Grenier was publicly shamed by Chuck Smith (I heard this with my own ears) at a live sermon in Costa Mesa, being called a “little dog” and threatened with God’s punishment.  Smith also told Grenier that what he (Smith) could do (to Grenier) “wouldn’t hurt much”, but he (Smith) was glad that “God is on my [Smith’s] side”.  Smith also predicted that Jesus would return in 1981 (epic fail on that one).


These leaders also use the psychological tactic of the silent treatment (stonewalling is very passive aggressive) and mandated shunning, which is a well-documented form of abuse and hatred (studied by licensed psychologists and cognitive scientists).  This church is hyper-authoritarian, and the teachers twist scriptures and misuse their ‘anointing’ and ‘power.’  This is spiritual abuse.  They believe, like Moses, they are ‘above’ being confronted for their own sins, lies, and abuses, and even tell their members they are ‘vertically above them in status.’  They look down on others who are ‘vertically below’ them (yes, this is the exact wording they use repetitively when speaking to me and members).  The pastors stand at the very back of the church and walk down the center aisle once they are announced, which if I recall correctly, is a tactic that Hitler used to show dominance and to draw the attention to himself.  At the end of the service, they issue the priestly benediction of Moses (“…may God make his face shine upon you, etc.”).  They do this with an outstretched arm, palm down on the audience (this could be viewed as a sign of blessing the congregation, but it is, once again, a gesture that Hitler made to show control and dominance).  This is nothing like I have ever seen at other churches.  The pastors are physically surrounded by “yes-men” after the service (men who resemble body guards for the all-important pastor).  This pastor I am referring to (who will remain anonymous) might actually think he has the authority and anointing of Moses (different covenant, guys, doesn’t take a theologian to see through this).  He, along with the other leaders, have a celebrity-like status at the church.  Nobody dare question them!


On at least one occasion, they placed a teenager in the middle of the auditorium while all the other ladies were doing a Bible study.  This teenager was sobbing uncontrollably the whole time, and the ladies were talking about her in a condemning way.  Not a soul came to comfort her.  I asked the pastor’s wife about her, and she said that the teenager was being “disciplined.”  I saw the girl in the restroom (because I followed her due to concern and empathy) and asked if she was okay.  She clearly was not okay.  She was humiliated in front of a room full of apathetic religious hypocrites.  You know, good old “church discipline.”  Gotta love it.  I gave her some solace.  Looking back, this makes me so incredibly mad because she was oppressed.  Of course, we wouldn’t want to “touch the Lord’s anointed” to save a child from ridicule, would we?


They set themselves on pedestals.  Sure, all looks fine on Sundays and to the public view.  Their website looks great.  The pastor is a fine teacher.  In fact, he is an incredible Bible teacher and is very sharp!  He is a nice dude to hang out with.  Seems cool on the surface.  Don’t let your guard of discernment down.  It’s there to protect you.


This is neither a false accusation nor slander…it happened to me and to many.  This is the unpleasant truth, but this fruitless darkness needs to be exposed.  Please don’t take this church or any church at face value.  I have left the church and have prayed for them.  This is not a loving church that reflects Christ…especially, behind the curtain. Research narcissism and spiritual abuse.  There are some great books on the topic, including one by Dr. Darrell Puls.  Today, I am a survivor of severe religious abuse and I am still strong with my faith in God.  Even though, in my mind, they tried to somehow blur the distinction between God and the leaders (I feel this is what they wanted), I have found that God has absolutely nothing to do with spiritual abuse or prideful, abusive leaders.  In fact, he warns about it.  I have run into people around town who had a very similar experience as mine.  They were former leaders who came out of it once their eyes were opened.  They told me they thought I was crazy at first, but thanked me for the warnings when I ran into them, as they turned out to be right.  “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Eph. 5).  It seems to me that they think God is “on their side” and He won’t hold them accountable for their spiritual abuse.  Please open your Bibles to Colossians 3:25: “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”


– Anonymous Christian


I have no ill-will toward any individuals, parties and/or organizations mentioned.  All is the truth spoken to the best of knowledge and/or can be verified by research.  I desire the best for all.  For social work and public service reasons, I happily investigate and stand against spiritual abuse, moral injuries, human oppression and PTSD at the hands of church and cult leadership.  I hope and pray that my investigations and experience can help ease the burdens of others and point them to social justice initiatives and a loving God.  If you feel that there is any concern in what I lovingly share, feel free to leave a comment or make contact if you would like.  I would be happy to communicate.  Any abusive or hostile comments or emails (as received in the past from leadership) will be deleted and the user will be immediately blocked.
As a counter-cult activist, I have always been an advocate for abused and/or mistreated children and adults.  God is good.


“LOVE does not wrong to a neighbor, therefore, LOVE is the fulfillment of the Law.” – Romans 13:10


CLICK HERE for the story about Alex Grenier
Dr. Darrell Puls’ Article on Spiritual Abuse

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