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Why I Won’t Attend any Church Without Clear Policies on Handling Abuse – Testing the Spirits

Thank you, Jennifer, for creating this article about your experience at Calvary Chapel. Church abuse is horrific. If you are like the countless individuals who have experienced church abuse at Calvary Chapel, you know that it can feel bewildering. Church abuse is no joke. It’s the worst kind. It is good to be a voice for the suffering.

In Calvary Chapel, there is a code of silence which brings shame for speaking out. There is an entire wasteland of individuals who are traumatized.

C.S. Lewis said of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst. Spiritual abuse is insidiously damaging.

To be abused by a religious leader is the most confusing experience because the victim has become disarmed due to the religious facade.

This can result in emotional and psychological trauma. The truth is that there is a current epidemic of religious abuse victims.

It is interesting that many who are speaking up are pastors’ wives and kids. They are valuable witnesses because they are able to see behind the curtain.

Calvary Chapel leaders thrive in an environment of zero pastoral accountability. It’s a ripe breeding ground for abuse to go unchecked.

This is the basis of Chuck Smith’s teachings: The pastor is not even accountable to the board of directors (you can find this teaching in his book called Calvary Chapel Distinctives).

I can’t tell you how many times I have come across good people who have suffered trauma at the hands of Calvary Chapel leadership. Cardinal Care Group’s most popular post is about Calvary Chapel abuse.

Some of the abuse antics at Calvary Chapel are gaslighting, mandated shunning and stamping. Stamping occurs when they label victims as DP’s – divisive persons. It’s the scarlet letter given to those who dare to ask a question or raise a concern. This is what is done in Scientology with the label of SP.

Those with the spiritual gift of discernment are rarely welcome at Calvary Chapels.

Action Steps: Speak up for the abused, and share this article if it has helped you. We wish you peace and blessings as you help this marginalized and abused population who suffer church abuse in silence. Check out Jennifer’s article below…

As someone who spent 20 years in Calvary Chapel, this topic is especially important to me.  I am the daughter of a Calvary Chapel Pastor. My husband and I both attended a CC Bible College. I served as a worship leader at a CC church plant for about 5 years. During most of that time, it never crossed my mind to ask questions about how my church might handle concerns over a pastor’s conduct. Then I experienced interactions with a pastor whose behavior made me extremely uncomfortable...If your church leaders say they have safeguards in place, but they can’t show you where these safeguards are described in the bylaws, that should be a red flag…” READ MORE…

Why I Won’t Attend any Church Without Clear Policies on Handling Abuse – Testing the Spirits

Why I Won’t Attend any Church Without Clear Policies on Handling Abuse – Testing the Spirits
Calvary Chapel Spiritual Abuse

Narcissism, Emotional Abuse and the Silent Treatment: Why You Should Not Allow This Oppression In Your Life

Say “No” To Silence and Mandated Shunning

The dreaded silent treatment. It should not be allowed in our lives for many reasons. The silent treatment equates with a lack of human dignity and a lack of love and respect. Who needs that?

Nobody likes being on the receiving end of silence. Not many realize what is truly happening during the silent treatment. Many individuals don’t understand at all what is happening, especially if one is highly empathetic and tends to see the good in others.

Individuals who are acting abusively use the silent treatment dagger to throw the target off kilter and to keep control and domination. It is a subtle yet damaging form of aggression, and why would we allow aggression and coercive control in our lives? It’s an attempt to control a person, to tell them clearly – without words – “You don’t matter” and “I dominate you in this relationship.” It’s human oppression which is rooted in pride and hatred rather than freedom, humility and love. The silent treatment is manipulation.

The best we can do when we are dealing with a controlling person is to pray for him or her and to stop giving the person the opportunity to further abuse. This might equate with stopping the chase. Keep in mind that true narcissists love the mind games which include a chase. When we chase a narcissist, we are only hurting ourselves.

Are We Overthinking It?

Often, the temptation creeps in which makes us think that we are “overthinking” the silence. That is, maybe the silent person is “Just busy” or “Not trying to be overtly mean.” While that might be absolutely true in some rare cases, our intuitions (God-sent) do alarm us when something is unhealthy in the relationship. The fact is that where the silent treatment flourishes, there is often an unhealthy or toxic dynamic. Plain and simple, the silent treatment, when done on purpose to punish someone, is oppressive emotional abuse! Gaslighting (when the abuser gets the target to doubt his or her understanding and reality), confusion and cognitive dissonance often ensue.

While I believe there can be times to show grace, mercy and to give others the benefit of the doubt, often our gullibility and lack of education concerning the silent treatment tactic ends up perpetuating the abuse. Those who have kind, merciful hearts are at high risk for emotional abuse from the silent treatment.

Sharie Stines, Psy.D explains,

“Abusers and/or narcissistic personality types love to ignore you and they love for you to know that they are ignoring you [this is part of the game of chase].  Why is that?  Let’s parse this concept apart.  The silent treatment is not blatant; it’s insidious [it’s not a mere accident, it’s an actual, aggressive tactic used in abusive relationships. Yes, there are people this cruel].  The only person who really feels the silent treatment is the target.  The person giving the silent treatment is not being overtly aggressive, abusive, or unkind in any visible way [this lends to the confusion of the abusive dynamic].  This keeps him looking “good” and reasonable.  When challenged, the giver of the silent treatment can say comments such as, “I’m fine.”  “Nothing’s wrong.”  “I’m not mad.” Or some other innocuous comment [this causes self-doubt and more confusion]. Realize that these comments are forms of gas lighting and confabulation, which are other common narcissistic weapons (see Coping with Narcissistic Confabulators.)  The internal confusion results in the experience of cognitive dissonance, which is prevalent in abusive relationships.” (Emphasis in brackets added)


Friends, allowing ourselves to be ignored is not a good idea for one main reason: it eats away at our self-worth and self-esteem. It is a blatant contradiction to the truth: that God values you and that you have human dignity. You should not allow the silent treatment in your life because you have worth and you matter! You should value yourself too. The silent treatment – like a poison – will only damage your psyche, your spirit and even those around you who need you to be healthy!

We are called to respect others but also to respect ourselves. Relationships should be nourishing, life-giving and should allow for equal communication with mutual listening. Above all, when dealing with others who are trying to dominate with the iron fist of silence, let go of fear. Instead, operate in a spirit of power, love and self-control. You – not the abuser – have the power to say “No” to the shaming tool of silence, to love them, pray for them, and get on with your life of freedom.

In my future article, I will discuss my insights about what to do when the silent treatment happens to you. I look forward to exploring those insights and going deeper, together.

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