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Author Topic: Anonymity and Censorship  (Read 18892 times)
G_Prince
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« on: March 17, 2007, 09:38:02 am »

This is one of the biggest warning signs of an unhealthy church such as GCM. They feel like they need to filter, censor, and control anything said about them. Ultimately, this shows a yawning chasm of insecurity within the movement. If you are truly secure in your beliefs, you should have no problem with others criticizing or pointing out alleged errors.

The church I currently attend has had critics for centuries, and while we defend our faith, we would never attempt to silence a detractor through censorship. There are numerous healthy churchs such as this that can take criticism and become better for it. If nothing else it will increase your own conviction. As Clement of Alexandria (150-215 C. E.)wrote, “If our faith is such that it is destroyed by force of argument, then let it be destroyed; for it will have been proved that we do not possess the truth.”

I fully support any GCM member or advocate who want’s to defend their beliefs on this blog, that’s why it’s here, to discuss the issues. However, GCM’s practice of silencing individuals who speak out only betrays a deep internal anxiety about their own movement.

To GCM, Let people fling mud if they will, argue and defend your beliefs, and if they continue to persists let them. It’s ordinary for people to disagree, accept it and move on.
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
nateswinton
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2007, 09:40:06 am »

How many of you are still in GCM? I haven’t read the rest of this blog very thoroughly, but I’m still not fully understanding why the rest of you need to be anonymous. What “discipline” or backlash could happen to you?

Help me understand what makes you so cautious of further mistreatment?
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2007, 09:40:17 am »

Well, part of the reason to stay anonymous is to speak more generally about problems. I know that people tend to want specifics, but we’re trying not to single out any one person or even congregation for condemnation. We are deliberately trying to speak in generalities so people don’t get hurt. Basically our goal is not to bring people down individually. Maybe it won’t work but that’s one reason.

We have learned from other’s situations where they said things publicly and then were castigated. So that is another reason.

I will let others tell their stories, but these are two basic reasons to stay anonymous although there are more.
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2007, 09:40:31 am »

Oh and none of the main contributers are still in GCM. We left in the recent past.
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G_Prince
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2007, 09:40:41 am »

I can’t speak for everyone, but I chose anonymity to preserve relationships with current GCM members who I still consider friends. I also don’t want to begin naming names and saying “so in so did this or said that.” I guess I don’t want to hurt anyone personally inside the movement. I believe other people on this site have had much worse experiences when they’ve spoken out against GCM (broken friendships, slander against their character etc…) however, I can’t speak for any of them directly.

I don’t believe it’s necessary to include specifics about who I am, where I’ve been, or who I’ve known. These issues are universal and not restricted to specific individuals.
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2007, 09:40:52 am »

People are anonymous because the leadership of GCM can and has been slanderous in their responses to their critics. You will get a reputation of being divisive and slanderous for what you have said today. You will now be on their “watch” list and will not be trusted. You may be rebuked and disciplined for slander and division.

This is an organization that was and still is on cult watch lists. The book “How to Cult Proof Your Kids” was written by a former GCM leader. There is a retreat center in Ohio called Wellspring that was started many years ago to help people get out of GCM churches and now has branched out to be a well known cult retreat center. GCM is an organization that issued a 13 page statement of error and apology. Most church associations don’t have 13 page statements of error! Think about it.

And, while you’re thinking about it, keep posting–go anonymous, though! You are very insightful and your comments are very helpful.

God bless you and your wife.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2007, 09:41:05 am »

It’s a bad sign when you know that criticizing the church your friends and family go to could ruin your relationships with them.

I think it underscores the extremely deep loyalty core members feel. They can’t tell the difference between family relationships and church relationships because as GCM preaches it, your church is your family.

Those who have been there long enough live and believe it.
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nateswinton
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2007, 09:41:21 am »

I can respectand understand the desire to maintain friendships and not hurt people.

Please believe that I’m not bringing up a “GCM agenda” when I say this: It’s probably not a wholly different motive and goal that leads pastors to conceal things amongst themselves.

Jesus didn’t say the adultress was innocent, he only encouraged the innocent to stone her. Then he forgave her, then he rebuked her. If I remember the story right. Maybe exhort is a better word than rebuke here?

I’m going to stone myself for a moment here: I have been elitist over the course of my life. I’ve lied and slandered. I’ve given into adultery - but only in my mind (is that less of a sin?). I’ve abused alcohol, and brawled (alot). Even recently, after the death of my father in law, I got into a brawl with an old highschol friend. I’ve passed on wrong teaching, thinking it was right. I’ve gossiped. I’ve been much more loyal to people than I have been to God.

So in that sense, I’m not able to cast a single stone. I’m depending on God - ironically the God that “justifies the wicked” (Romans 4) to sort those things out.

Please don’t interpret that as me dismissing anything or overlooking sin. I consider it a privledge (and responsibility) to encourage, rebuke, correct and exhort my fellow believers and I deeply desire to partner with God in building up His church.

I want to build up GCM, and help it be unified with Christ’s body as a whole, which I firmly and completely believe exists in health and Godliness outside of GCM.

Sunday morning as I was going through the GCLI materials with a small group (yes, I’m training to be an “elder” some day) I was asked what I would do for the Kingdom if I knew I coudln’t fail. I said that my desire is to go to Madison, WI, plant a small church in the “starving artist” neighborhood of campustown, and work to unify all the churches in the entire city to have a common goal and purpose and love for one another.

I want GCM to be completely reconciled and unified with the rest of the body. God put this on my heart, it’s not my idea. He was thinking about it a long time before he formed me. And he’s put it on many more hearts than mine. This is His plan. I’m just glad to have a part of it.
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G_Prince
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2007, 09:41:53 am »

Right On!

In my GCM family there was no distinction between church and family. Blood family was often put on the back burner compared with the needs of the church family. We all served and participated in church activity together. Now that I’m no longer a member of the church it’s like I’m also out of the family. It’s not as if they don’t love me or don’t care, but I’m defiantly back burner. Going over to their home is like entering another dimension. It feels odd and unfamiliar. We rarely have anything significant to talk about; there is an icy wall that separates us and it’s called GCM.

My mother is the perfect GCM woman. Stressed, overworked, and always ready for more. She loves it! It’s her life. I think her personality lends itself easily to a cause. If it wasn’t GCM she would be campaigning against abortion or something else. However, GCM has molded her into the ideal stay at home.

I love mom, but I always wished she had more time for us kids. Growing up we were always doing something. Chores, school, etc. The house was run like a military unit, it functioned well but there wasn’t much room for intimacy or feelings. I always felt more like a duty than a son. I know this was never intended but that’s the message that was ultimately sent.

GCM runs everything militarily. They love categories and division. Organization, Organization, Organization! Each family is one unit headed by the husband. The family unit is part of the larger church body headed by the pastor. Each church then fits into regional units and so forth. The battle is for the world. The church is a strategic garrison and the family a military unit within. It’s sickeningly utilitarian! Blah!

I just want a family and a mother, not comrades and a drill sergeant.
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
G_Prince
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2007, 09:42:14 am »

Oops,

That was in response to Genevieve’s comment.
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
Anonymous
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2007, 09:42:26 am »

I’m anonymous because of a variety of the reasons mentioned above. I’ve been slandered publicly by multiple GCM leaders and when I talked to them about it they refused to repent. Most of my former “friends” final opinion about me is the result of what their pastor/small group leader told them regarding me, which amounted to a lot of false assumptions with the word “divisive” thrown in for good measure. Asking them to correct their statement while pointing out specifically its error has resulted in complete evasion of responsibility on their part. Frustrating to say the least. Anyway, since then I have advised people to remain anonymous to avoid what I and a few others I know went through. I maintain that it is a organizational problem though, and to their um.. credit.. they believe that what they did was perfectly acceptable to maintaining unity in the body. Perverted, but at least I know there were good intentions behind the evil they committed. Then again, maybe believing that evils you are doing are good is much more dangerous.

I really am saddened at how difficult it has been to discuss specifics with pastors. The responses I have gotten have seemed so inhuman, just calculated predicable letters which always seem to follow the same formula. *sigh*
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nateswinton
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2007, 09:42:40 am »

Sometimes I think we’re talking about two completely different groups of people. Other times I’m sure it’s the same ones.

My pastors are absolutely not like you just described. They take great pains to hear out complaints in the church, and I’m sure have even suffered at my expense in the past as I was growing up spiritually and was really wrong in some things. I’m inspired by the humble, patient, unified model they give.

That’s not the case for some people, though. I even know a small network in Ames of GCM burnouts. They level some harsh criticisms against my pastors that I have no idea how to handle. In most cases I am involved enough in things to see that the people were wrong and selfish. But there are rare cases where I’m not totally convinced.

As far as getting the same calculated response, I’m really sad to hear that that is your experience. That’s really too bad. If anything it makes me feel extra-blessed that my leaders *do* try to reconcile and make amends if they are accused of wronging people. I’ve had a good example set before me in that as I’ve grown spiritually.
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Samuel Lopez De Victoria
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2007, 09:43:05 am »

Nate said,



I’m especially encouraged with Dave Bovenmeyer in the last year. The more I get to know him, the more impressed I am with his balanced and reasonable approaches to everything. We might never weed out everything in this “movement”, but by God we won’t stop trying.

______________________



Nate I agree. I believe Dave is a prince of a brother. Unfortunately, I think he gets drowned out. Case in point, he is for encouraging folks to seek healing in their lives as with Theophostic Ministries along with Chris Biang but some of the other guys are not so favorable. Hopler seems to be in the middle. Rick is anti-psychology. Sometimes Dave mystifies me at times he can be a wonderful roaring lion. At other times he gives in to the overwhelming influence of Rick and John and wimps out. I have seen it and have grieved it while being on the receiving side. I pray for Bovy quite a lot. He and Dawn are the best inside GC. My hope for GC is that God will use Bovy (or his influence… like with you) to turn the ship around in some crucial areas. I tried when I’ve addressed the board but I lost all my credibility back then as a “Loud Latin” which does not fit the MidWestern culture of GC. Little did I know that for many years, my honesty was offensive to the Germanic/Scandinavian way of being. It was too late for me. No one had stopped to explain to me the claravoyant type ways and rules of communication MidWesterners use in their daily lives (Example: subtle shaming you are supposed to understand without words used). While I would constantly go to my brothers (Rick, John, and others on the board), they never said to me that I was violating their cultural rules. When I figured it out and explained it to them, they were offended that I pressumed that there was cultural dysfunctions in the MidWestern way as with the Hispanic ways. They could not and would not accept this.



Anyways, I still email Dave from time to time. I know him well enough… His strengths and some of his weaknesses. He knows mine also.



Give him and Dawn our love, Nate. We both have many battle scars that we got in the same trenches serving the Lord.



Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
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Anonymous
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2007, 09:43:49 am »

Part of the equation is that in the Germanic/Scandinavian mindset “connection” is scary. It means “disclosure” and becoming “naked.”

Hey um.. What is this, some sort of weird psychological stereotyping? Am I the only one who’s confused?
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Dipping my toes in....
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2007, 09:44:11 am »

Samuel said this of (I believe) two GCM leaders: “are not Hunter/Visionary/Finder/Entrepreneurial/types. They are primarily administrators trying to preserve the movement and keeping the machine oiled according to their personality style. Both are introverts to the max and both are not men that are open with their lives at the core (I know them VERY well). Both are VERY wounded men in their past. Hence, openness, transparency, and a love for resolution of psychological issues is not a priority. Both men have great difficulty knowing what “connection” means.”

Wow, this describes the GCM pastor I had experience to the “T”.

I was saddened when I heard that Jeff Kern stepped out of GCM leadership. I never personally met the man, but I did hear him speak in person several times. He seemed to be such a warm, caring person. Certainly not a “businessman” or “administrator”. I remember seeing that one of his last messages was on the importance of discipleship. I felt his words were appropriate as there is such an extreme emphasis on “saving souls” within GCM. Does anyone know why he stepped down?

Perhaps some of the problems in GCM are simply “adolescent” organizational problems. I suppose only time will tell if the leaders are open to radically changing certain weaknesses. But it seems to me that a big problem within GCM is the mindset of the people at the top of the chain. There’s been talk of governance and whatnot….. I think more men at the top that CARE about individuals more than they care about whether that individual has attended class X or saved Y other individuals or overcame Z sin is part of what GCM needs. Men like Jesus - that deeply loved even the worst of the sinners. Sometimes when I was in GCM, I felt that my putting checks in the boxes stating I completed X class and held Y characteristics was more important to my pastor than I was as an actual person. And certainly, I felt that when I left and indicated I wanted to continue a friendship, only to have my old pastor tell me that he “didn’t feel led” to do so. Being a woman, I too felt the pressure to be a servant, submissive, etc. I felt that I wouldn’t be valued as a person if I wasn’t. The more “free-spirited” women at my church were either placed under severe restrictions or eventually pushed out. However, no woman needs to give in to that pressure - the choice to do so is our own. I feel that the pressure is wrong, but it’s also wrong to stifle the heart and spirit God gave you in order to appease someone else, however misguided they may be.

I think it was MamaD that said that the pastor is to be an example, not the Holy Spirit itself. I agree completely!!!

It’s been so interesting and enlightening hearing some of the stories and thoughts from those of you that were in the movement much longer and earlier than I was. I’ve been starting to put bits and pieces together that begin to explain my experience some. Seeing the history and the bigger picture helps put my experience in perspective.
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G_Prince
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2007, 09:45:03 am »

Dipping my toes in-

Jeff was forced to step down on account of his overbearing and authoritarian style of leadership. It nearly caused a major split within the movement. I don’t know many of the details but that is the general gist of it. Like many high level GCM leaders Jeff was extremely warm and caring, however he also struggled with authoritarianism and didn’t play well with others.

These kinds of leaders seem to be a dime a dozen in GCM. They rise to the top quickly through their energy and passion but end up pushing and hurting people to accomplish the mission.
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
Dipping my toes in....
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2007, 09:45:16 am »

Gene -

Wow, thanks. I didn’t expect that to be the reason. Yikes!
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Samuel Lopez De Victoria
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« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2007, 09:46:28 am »

“Hey um.. What is this, some sort of weird psychological stereotyping? Am I the only one who’s confused?”



I think I would have chosen kinder words that don’t already crucify a person.



I’ll be glad to explain. This is an area that traditional psychology has caved in the the PC folks (politically correct). They assume that if you criticize a culture you are a bigott or a racist. That is not true. This area has been considered “holy ground” by those who have taken control of organizations, universities, and media. Is it possible for an individual to have dysfunctions? Of course. Is it possible that his family of origen have dysfunctions? Of course. Is it possible for a group of people (ain’t we doing that with GC?) to have common dysfunctions? Of course. Is it possible that a community exhibit common dysfunctions? Of course. Is it possible that a culture exhibit common traits that are dysfunctions. Absolutely! Is it cool to say so? Not at all. I am a Hispanic. I know for a fact that we Hispanics carry a load of cultural dysfunctions. I can provide a list. When you contrast those with the MidWestern Caucasian Germanic/Dutch/Scandinavian cultures of the US, you find glaring dysfunctions as well as strengths and wonderful things. I am married to a Germanic/Scandinavian woman. We have spent hundreds of hours (over 27 years of marriage) analysing dysfunctional cultural phenomena.



Here’s one resonating cultural representation of MidWest thinking. If you watched or read “Bridges of Madison County” you’ll see a bunch of dysfunctions that creep up in IOWA society a lot. I have personally experienced these and my wife grew up most of her life this way. Of course, I admit that my culture if full of its own kind of dysfunctions. Every culture has them.



One simple example of comparison is that the MidWestern society worships and deifies “hard work.” Work hard and you are “godly.” The flip side carries shame. The Hispanic looks at the Midwesterner and says, “He dude, chill out. You’re gonna die of a heart attack. You are too sour and serious. You don’t party man. Live life to the fullest and let’s play!” The MidWesterner looks at such individual with a ghastly look and doesn’t say anything but thinks of the Hispanic, “How irresponsible and lazy.” I could add more differences.



I have written papers and my doctoral dissertation deals with multicultural issues. It is interesting that the journal literature on Asian families plainly shows how dysfunctional Asian families can be via control, overprotection, and shaming of children. That’s just one. You can go to the African-American and that is another whole truckload of issues. I could go on with other cultures also.



So, maybe this is weird to you, but GC is a MidWestern movement that is still grappling with diversity issues and has not had a good track record within the organization. I experienced it. Different is not cool if it is at the highest levels of leadership. I pushed that envelope as far as I could and ended up (one of the reasons I’m out now) being ostracized. I’m sad but not bitter or angry. They lost a wonderful opportunity to grow in their lives and failed.



So tell us how this view is “weird.”



Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
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