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Sunday, June 29, 2014

A letter from one who understands...

Dear hurt ones,

I ache for you, and have also experienced this awful pain. The confusion is difficult to bear. You have had the waters of truth muddled, been forced to drink the undrinkable and now alone, sick and weak you wonder who can you trust. Only Jesus will not fail you.

If you are able, here are some links to save on your computer. They have helped me, and very little helped in the beginning. At first only the prayers of kind believers and the gospels on audio links eased my heartache. Then the Psalms, months later. Some of the teachings by Joe Focht of, the voice of the martyrs newsletter, and  They are safe and scriptural...still, thank The Lord.  But don't fret if you are unable to do much, wounds heal -  some slow, some fast. But always the scars are there to remind us of our torture and our healing. God comforts the cast down ones. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Also be sure of this, that the destruction of your life by the leaders of Calvary Temple is not of God-but is the work of the devil, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Forgive them, though, so your Heavenly Father will forgive you if you have committed any sins. And if you have sinned, right now ask Jesus to forgive you and give you the grace to walk this out.  Only He can forgive and enable us to live right, and He will as soon as we ask him.

If you are no longer sure of your salvation, (the spirit of God bears witness with our spirits that we are the sons of God), then today is the day of salvation, Jesus died on the cross to free you from sin and death, ask Him to save you now and you will become His child right away, because He says that all who come to Him, He will in no wise cast out.

I am praying for you, many others also. Be encouraged that you are not alone, we stand with you, to see your family restored to you, serving Jesus with joy, and assured of the one, true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Five Warning Signs

When someone leaves Calvary Temple, they can feel confused and even frightened, wondering if they did the right thing and if they really had good reason to leave. The following article may give you the tools to judge Calvary Temple in light of what other pastors and theologians consider false teaching and abusive tactics. Please take note that these characteristics of an abusive church are not speaking of just obvious cults. These are referring to mainstream Christian churches that have drifted into extreme authoritarian groups. These churches still have the appearance of solid Christian theology but with a shift away from dependence on God to dependence on the pastor and leadership. 

The following is excerpted from

How to Spot Spiritual Abuse by Rafael Martinez, Director, Spiritwatch Ministries

The Five Warning Signs Of Religious Abuse

1) Unchecked Authoritarian Leadership
The first danger sign of a possibly unsound church, Enroth explains, (Ron Enroth, Churches That Abuse) can be seen through a high-handed exhibition of its leadership's authority, which often appears unnervingly legitimate. "Spiritual abuse can take place in the context of doctrinally sound, Bible preaching, fundamental, conservative Christianity. All that is needed for abuse is a pastor accountable to no one and therefore beyond confrontation. Authoritarian leaders are ecclesiastical loners. That is, they do not function well or willingly in the context of systematic checks or balances. They are fiercely independent and refuse to be part of a structure of accountability. To put it crudely, they operate a one-man (or one-woman) spiritual show. And God help the person who gets in the way or makes waves."
He continues: "Yes, sometimes they will point to a board of elders or its equivalent, but more likely than not, this turns out to be a faithful inner circle of clones that implicitly accepts all that the leader sets forth.  Abusive pastors often come from troubled backgrounds and are very insecure persons despite the 'take charge' image they may project. They are power hungry people who crave visibility.  Leaders who inflict spiritual violence often hide behind the smoke screen of authority to gain power."  (pp. 203, 217, 219 of Churches That Abuse). It is important to understand that religiously abusive church leadership is most visible when it demands public and private attention to be given to the authority and control over the flock by the pastor. Often, in aberrant churches, this is not an easy thing to discern, and yet frequently it is one of the danger signs that may be easily overlooked. Such leaders will seem too quick to chastise members, often in harsh forums of public rebuke.

2) Imbalanced Congregational Life
Secondly, the congregation's social characteristics provide danger signals as well. Enroth points out that "membership of authoritarian churches is frequently comprised of young, spiritually immature Christians. This kind of church is successful because it is meeting basic human needs - the need to belong, the need to be affirmed, to be accepted and to be part of a family. It is not unusual for the leaders to assume the role of surrogate parents, especially for those young adults who come from dysfunctional family backgrounds" (p. 216). It is just this sort of yearning need and sincere zeal that the aberrant church pastor uses to exploit his flock through manipulative control. Mr. Enroth explains that abusive church leaders "foster an unhealthy form of dependency, spiritually and otherwise, by focusing on themes of submission and obedience to those in authority. They create the impression that people just aren't going to find their way through life's maze without a lot of firm directives from those at the top" (p. 217).

3)  Conscious Threats Of Discipline And Disfellowshipping
"Another sign of impending trouble in a church is an obsession with discipline and excommunication. Beware of churches that warn of certain doom if you leave their 'covering,' or if you 'break covenant.' Once banished from [or having left] the group, little compassion is shown the wayward one." Again and again, it has been observed that former members of aberrant churches, when contemplating leaving the group, were issued dire warnings that they were backsliding, compromising and facing judgment from God. Church members who are seen as stepping out of line will find themselves being shunned or criticized by the so-called "true believers" in public, and will usually face much harsher treatment in the larger abusive church congregation. Demeaning public rebuke, even ridicule from the pulpit is one means of religious abuse disguised as "discipline."

4) Deliberate Disruption Of Personal Relationships
A fourth sign of aberrance in a church is when the church encourages complete isolation or strong distancing of it's membership from family and friends not involved in the group. Enroth observes that even family relationships within the group become severely disrupted and strained, since the demands for attention to be given to the "spiritual family" become all important. Parental and marital bonds may be strained or shattered over the need for individual family members to more fully identify  with the church group, and non-member relations outside of the group are often stunned at how cold and distant their once loving family members became when they "got religious." The abusive church's "spiritual family" then appear to become the recipients of the warm family ties and affections that group members have withdrawn from their own family.
This is one of the most heartbreaking and shattering consequences of religious abuse dispensed by aberrant churches. We know of many, many people who have suffered unspeakably agonizing losses of their marriages, children and parents at the behest of abusive group leaders who deemed their members' relationships with them far too spiritually polluting, smothering and destructive. A marriage of twenty years was abruptly ended by a divorce initiated by the pressures placed upon the couple by an abusive church through its leadership, simply because the husband left the Polk County "church" where both he and his wife were members. Such unbelievable occurrences are all too frequent and too real to ignore.

5) Withdrawal And Isolation From The "Outside"
Enroth goes on to say that another sign of abusive behavior in a church is it's tendency towards isolation from other churches. There is a conscious effort to limit input and contact with thoughts and ideas from outside the church's own circle. This is what is known as "information control" and is a crucial element of what is known as mind control. "Beware of the church, " he writes, "where outside speakers are consistently denied access to the pulpit, and where other Christian churches are regularly denounced, belittled or ridiculed."

It is unfortunate that Calvary Temple clearly displays all of these characteristics.  When a member of Calvary Temple identifies such signs they must realize that scripture dictates that they must leave. Often we may be reluctant to leave, instead "letting God handle it". But continuing to attend, being involved in, and tithing to Calvary Temple is supporting it and approving of it.  

For the Visitor to Calvary Temple

I am writing this to the potential visitor of Calvary Temple with the hope that you will never need  the rest of this website. Leaving Calvary Temple is the most difficult thing many people will ever do and the pain of losing family and friends will last a lifetime. I hope you will be spared that experience.  

I don't know what brought you to visit Calvary Temple. Perhaps it was one of the car shows, movie nights, special events, or someone you work with. Maybe you have been struggling with personal problems - family, financial, health, job, or other difficulties. Perhaps you are seeking a relationship with God and believe a church is a good place to start your search. I want to assure you that God is the answer to the needs in your life. He is the only way to know truth, love and salvation. He is the only way to have peace. The Bible says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  (John 3:16). God loves you and has a plan for your life.  

Choosing Jesus to be the Lord of your life causes you to desire to spend time with other believers. Finding a church to attend is a good thing. You will have others to encourage you in your faith and minister to your needs. You will have an opportunity to care for others and tell others about your faith. For that reason, I am writing to you, a visitor of Calvary Temple. Please don't choose Calvary Temple for your church. There are other churches in the area that would love to have you attend and would love to help you on your spiritual journey. But Calvary Temple is not the right choice.

When you first visit Calvary Temple, you will be impressed with the loving reception you experience and the love that people appear to have for one another. In many ways, it is sincere. But that sincerity has a limitation. If you ever decide to leave Calvary Temple, for ANY reason, you will have a very different experience. If you leave without the approval of the leadership, you will be considered "out of order". The pastor, Star Scott, has said many times that you MUST have his permission to leave. Going to another Calvary Temple satellite church to minister is the only valid reason to leave. There are no other valid reasons. (not a marriage, job transfer or promotion, retirement, sickness, caring for a family member in another area, desire to minister in another church, or any other reason you can think of.) If you leave without permission, you will  be  cut off from all your friends at Calvary Temple. From the pulpit, the pastor may denigrate and vilify you. In doing so, he effectively discourages further congregational contact with you. If you  have children or other family, you will be cut off from them. The beautiful image of Calvary Temple is now seen as something else. And that something else can destroy your life.  

Dozens of families have experienced exactly this situation. There are parents who have not seen their children in 5, 10, 15 or more years. Some have never been allowed to meet their grandchildren. Men have divorced their wives because she may want to attend another church. (and vice-versa). Friends have been cut off from life-long friendships. Good people have had their reputations destroyed by the leadership of Calvary Temple so that members will not speak with them after they leave.  

There are additional reasons you should avoid Calvary Temple. If you are a member and single, you may only marry someone that also attends Calvary Temple. Dating is not allowed, you get to know someone in church events only. You will be required to tithe and give offerings and will be monitored to be sure you do. The head pastor manages Calvary Temple without any oversight or accountability. (Calvary has been investigated for tax fraud). You will be required to attend church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, as well as prayer meetings on Tuesday and Thursday night. You must attend "Family" night on Fridays along with a monthly home group meeting. You must participate in the many outreaches to the community. Men will be required to attend a monthly breakfast. There are also work days, special prayer days, volunteering at the church school, and numerous other activities. You will have little time to spend with your nuclear family.
You are encouraged to spend holidays and vacations with your "family" at Calvary Temple rather than your natural family. Your children will be encouraged to find another family in the church to live with in the event you decide to leave Calvary.

The pastor boasts about Calvary Temple being the best church, and disparages other local churches and pastors. And yet two pastors and several deacons as well as dozens of laypersons have left Calvary Temple in recent years due to disagreement with the doctrine and practices of Calvary Temple. (Many years ago the church numbered in the thousands and now numbers around 300.) 

I am deeply saddened to write these things to people who may be on a search for God. It is the greatest joy in life to discover that God Himself loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. But I believe Calvary Temple is not a safe place to go. Many people have experienced the heartaches listed above and would join me in encouraging you to find another church to attend.  

(update: June 2016) since approximately March 2015, Calvary Temple has been investigated by the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office as well as the Virginia State Police for child sexual and physical abuse.  The investigation is ongoing. In addition, you should know that Calvary Temple has had and/or currently has members that are on the national child sexual abuse list. 

Taste and See that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8

Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.  Hebrews 7:25

That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.  Romans 10:9

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17

For by grace are you saved through faith, and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God-not by works, lest any man should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9