Church reeling after marriage referendum


Agence France-Presse reports…

“The once-dominant Catholic Church in Ireland was trying to come to terms Sunday with an overwhelming vote in favour of gay marriage, saying it needed a “new language” with which to speak to people.

As jubilant “Yes” supporters nursed their hangovers after partying late into the night following Saturday’s referendum result, the faithful attended mass to hear their priests reflect on the new social landscape in Ireland.

“The Church has to find a new language which will be understood and heard by people,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, one of the Church’s most senior figures, told reporters after mass at the city’s St Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

“We have to see how is it that the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is not being received even within its own flock.”

He added: “There’s a growing gap between Irish young people and the Church and there’s a growing gap between the culture of Ireland that’s developing and the Church.”

The majority of Irish people still identify themselves as Catholic but the Church’s influence has waned in recent years amid growing secularisation and after a wave of clerical child sex abuse scandals.

During the campaign, bishops spoke against changing the law, while older and rural voters were thought to have accounted for much of the “No” vote.

Final results showed 62 percent in favour and 38 percent against introducing gay marriage in a country where being homosexual was a crime until 1993.

As Sunday’s newspapers marked the result with colourful pictures of partying “Yes” supporters, they noted the heavy blow to Church authority.

Niall O’Connor wrote in the Sunday Independent: “The once unshakeable influence of the Catholic Church over Middle Ireland has been confronted.”

Ireland will become the 19th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriages once the necessary legislation is approved as expected in the coming months.

All of Ireland’s 43 constituencies except one voted in favour of the measure and the 60-percent turnout was far higher than in previous referendums, as thousands of expatriates returned home to cast their ballots.

It was the first time ever that gay marriage had been approved by popular vote.

The referendum asked voters whether or not they approved the statement: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

Adopting gay marriage is a seismic change in Ireland, where the Catholic Church has traditionally been hugely influential.

Tony Flannery, co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, was stripped of his ministry in 2012 due to his outspoken liberal views on contraception and the ordination of female priests.

The Redemptorist priest, who voted Yes, said the Church needed to rethink how it approaches Ireland’s youth if it is to reverse its waning position in society.

“The last thing the Irish bishops should be doing is further alienating the young generation who the Church, to a fair degree, has lost already,” he told AFP.

Congratulations poured in to Ireland from around the world, including from British Prime Minister David Cameron and US Vice President Joe Biden.

In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday his country would not follow Ireland’s lead and hold a referendum on gay marriage, adding that any decisions would be made by parliament.

Gay marriage was explicitly outlawed in Australia under a 2004 revision of the national Marriage Act.

In Germany, Jens Spahn, a member of the executive committee of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, appeared open to change.

“One should think, what the Catholic Irish can do, we can too,” he was quoted by Welt Online as saying, adding: “The population is often more ahead in these matters than we think.”

Some citizens voiced mixed feelings as they went about their business in Dublin on Sunday.

“I’m saddened, because I don’t think it was a good idea. I think there are much more important things to be looked after in this country,” said one woman, Bernadette.

Another, Caroline, told AFP: “While I’m happy with the result, I don’t think we should be voting necessarily on something which should be a human right anyway.”


Pastor played the church game and lost


The New York Daily News reports…

“A Michigan pastor who once rallied against same-sex marriage was caught soliciting sex on a gay hook-up app.

Matthew Makela, an associate pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Midland, resigned after he was busted chatting on Grindr — where he told other men he was a “bicurious guy” who “loved making out naked.”

Gay news site Queerty obtained screenshots of the conversation, which showed Makela sending multiple photos of himself to other men. The married father of two confirmed the authenticity of the screenshots to Queerty, but would not offer further comment.

Makela stepped down after the article went public, the Midland Daily News reported.

“Pastor (Makela) has acknowledged that there was sin and repentance, and I have testified that there is indeed forgiveness through the same Lord who forgives all our sins,” Senior Pastor Rev. Daniel Kempin said.

Makela repeatedly condemned same-sex marriage and homosexuality, according to Queerty.

In a now deleted comment posted to an anti-gay marriage newspaper column penned by a fellow pastor, Makela compared homosexuality to alcoholism and suggested gay people could overcome same-sex attraction with enough support.

“I love people who have same sex attraction, and so does God,” he wrote. “We don’t tell a person born with tendencies to abuse alcohol to keep on giving in to his innate desires because he can’t help it. We try to help him in his struggle.”

In a September Facebook post he again repeated his anti-gay views.

“Changing the culture begins with changing our own culture of marriage and family, taking the marriage union with the utmost seriousness and welcoming children in our church,”  he wrote, explaining the gay marriage and divorce did not “reflect God’s will of love and submission.”

But on Grindr, the pastor asked to hook up with other men, explaining that he had a girlfriend so he couldn’t “do evenings or overnights.”

“I love making out naked,” he wrote. “Oral and massage.”

“Also love to cuddle,” he continued before sending more photos of himself.

Makela’s biography on the church’s website has been taken down, but it once said that he started serving as a pastor in 2010.”





19 lies and counting


The Daily Beast reports…

“Since TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting first premiered in 2008, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have amazed their less fecund audience members with their ability to “extreme parent” nine girls and 10 boys. For 10 seasons, viewers—either in admiration or guilty-pleasure gawking—have watched the large brood live their lives according to evangelical Christian values, which include the total submission of women, sexual purity, homeschooling, and adherence to a particular sect known as the Quiverfull movement, which (among other principles) eschews all forms of birth control.

But just two years before the show aired, according to a police report unearthed by In Touch, the family was involved with police in an investigation of their oldest son, Josh, for the alleged molestation of at least five underage girls—including his own sisters—starting in 2002 when he was around 14. A flurry of admissions and apologies followed the news yesterday, from Josh, his parents and his wife, and Josh resigned from his position as executive director of FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the evangelical Family Research Council. TLC announced Friday it was pulling the show off the air.

For those less acquainted with Quiverfull and the reports of alleged sexual abuse inside the movement by ex-fundamentalists, the allegations were shocking, and dulled the shine on a family that seemed to be perfect. For others, the allegations and Josh’s seeming admission and apology only confirm that the patriarchal religious movement can be both a breeding ground and hiding place for this type of crime.

The Duggars have come out in support of 27-year-old Josh, telling People magazine, “When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.”

Though it’s never hit so close to home, the family has been embroiled in a similar controversy before. Bill Gothard—the 80-year-old, never-married founder of the Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI), the homeschooling methods used and promoted by the Duggars—was accused of sexual harassment by over 30 women, allegations over which he later resigned and half-apologized for, but was never criminally charged. It was, in fact, during the Duggars’ annual trip to the ATI conference that Josh met his wife, Anna. The Duggars have been quiet on the accusations against Gothard, but are still very much adherents of his teachings and are scheduled to appear at an IBLP conference later this month.

And in November 2013, a longtime friend and mentor of the Duggars, Doug Phillips—then-president of Vision Forum Ministries, and perhaps most important, leader of the Duggars’ extreme fundamentalist sect, which awarded Michelle their “mother of the year” award—was accused of sexual assault by a woman he claimed to be his mistress. The alleged victim noted in her complaint that “Phillips’s patriarchal movement teaches that men are, and should be, in the absolute control of women.” Phillips, who has denied that their relationship was nonconsensual, was excommunicated from the church he founded. His civil case is still pending.

Though they circle the wagons when it comes to defense of their own, the Duggars have been outspoken advocates of protecting children when it’s a question of assault from the secular world. Last year, the Duggar matriarch recorded a robocall warning voters of Fayetteville, Arkansas, against a bill that would allow trans women to use the women’s bathroom.

“I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child,” she said. “I still believe that we are a society that puts women and children first…”

Within the Duggars’ religious ideology, “putting women and children first,” means putting them on a pedestal, policing and protecting them while stripping them of all autonomy.

Indeed, submission is the most important tenet in the Christian Patriarchy movement. “Men are to be leaders, teachers, initiators, protectors and providers,” former Quiverfull adherent, and now a vocal opponent, Vyckie Garrison explains on her blog. “Women are created to be ‘helpmeets’ to the men in authority over them (husbands, fathers, older brothers) ~ they are to be submissive and yielding.”

As Kathryn Joyce recounts in her book, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, even before marriage young women are taught that men will soon rule over them. In Joyce’s retelling, the wife of now-excommunicated pastor Doug Phillips asked a group of young women, “Are you ready to do the most vulnerable thing that a woman ever can do and submit yourself to a man, who you are going to have to follow in his faith, who is incredibly imperfect and is going to make mistakes? Can you do that? Can you call your husband ‘Lord’? If the answer is no, you shouldn’t get married.”

Michelle Duggar lives this principle, even trumpeting complete submission to her husband’s sexual desires—should she want it or not—as a secret to her happy marriage.

It’s not impossible to imagine how abuse might go unreported in a world in which women are told to submit to their fathers and brothers and husbands and taught to be ashamed of their own bodies.

Young Duggars don’t “date,” they “court.” They don’t explore their emotional and physical attractions: those are sins. It’s not only premarital sex that’s prohibited, but also flirting or physical affection of any kind. In fact Jessa Duggar was the subject of much controversy last year when she “full frontal” hugged her fiancé following his marriage proposal instead of the “side hug” for which the family had become famous. Even the betrothed are sent on dates with chaperones. Jobs and college are discouraged for women because of the sexual dangers lurking in the secular world.

With so much attention focused on the the sexual dangers posed by strangers, little attention in the Quiverfull movement has been paid to charges of molestation or abuse from within. Women “faced with sexually predatory behavior from family members or trusted authority figures often find themselves in a no-man’s-land of confusion and trained submission, without the tools to identify or object to the behavior,” writes one former member on Recovering Grace.

Not only are women taught to guard their own sexual purity, it is ingrained that women are responsible for the purity of men. Their dress, their behavior, their inherent womanliness are all stumbling blocks for hapless men.

As a former child adherent to the Christian Patriarchy movement wrote: “I was told that if a man looked at my body and lusted that it was because I had worn clothing that was ‘defrauding.’ This may sound crazy but I took this very seriously. I didn’t want to cause my ‘brothers’ to stumble. The (false) guilt was ingrained and strong; I remember calling men and apologizing for what I wore around them.”

On modesty, Michelle Duggar echoed this sentiment on her show, telling viewers she learned after her conversion that “I needed to cover areas of myself so that I wasn’t causing others to be defrauded.”

And of course men are taught this, too: How female temptresses can lure them away from their God-prescribed paths. Even in his apology, Josh Duggar treats the possibility of any future revelations by his alleged victims as just obstacles to his bright future.

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” he sent to People in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents, who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

As for his alleged victims, Josh tell People that he “sought forgiveness from those I had wronged” and we’re left with the impression that the girls, now women whose names have been redacted by reports to protect their anonymity, have granted it. But in a strict religion where forgiveness is expected and women and children are submissive, abuse is often glossed over and victims may rarely be made whole.

“Often we see in communities of faith that victims are admonished to be grace-like, offering instant forgiveness to their abuser as if it could be doled out like a trinket or candy,” writes Mary DeMuth, a sexual abuse survivor, in The Washington Post. “Instant forgiveness and ‘putting it behind you’ only delays the healing process, a journey that only begins by stating the awfulness of the violation.”

We can’t know how exactly the alleged awfulness—which, according to the police report, involved Josh “sneaking into” girls’ room at night and “touching” their “breasts and vaginal areas” and fondling others as they sat on the couch or stood in the laundry room—was handled, but it is clear that the response to molestation and incest allegations was to keep it secret, to deal with it within the religious and growing biological family.

According to the police report, after several victims came to Jim Bob Duggar to complain about Josh’s “inappropriate touching,” the family head went to the church elders, who agreed Josh should seek counseling. Handling accusations of sexual abuse within the Christian church is, of course, routine though hardly unique to the Christian Patriarchy.

Fearing proximity to “real” offenders, the Duggars instead sent Josh to stay with a family friend in Little Rock, where he did manual labor and read the Bible. Jim Bob told investigators in 2006 that upon Josh’s return four months later, all had been “resolved.”

Jim Bob Duggar did alert police roughly a year after the incident, taking Josh to a family friend who happened to be a state trooper, where the boy was given a “stern talk.” By the time police were made aware of the allegations in 2006, the three-year statute of limitations had already run out, so no charges against Josh were filed.

But repercussions are surely coming. Besides Josh’s resignation from his post at the FRC, fans of the TLC property are calling hypocrisy and asking the network to cancel the show. While TLC has yet to make an official announcement, it seems clear that the Duggars will no longer be able to present themselves as a mainstream, more-the-merrier Christian family while practicing a religion built on a patriarchal structure that leads to abuse against its women and acts as a refuge for their perpetrators.”


Catholic Church crisis of faith


The Daily Telegraph reports…

“A few years ago I had to walk out of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Sounds a bit bah-humbug, doesn’t it?

Stick with me for a sec.

I love Midnight Mass, although I’m not a Catholic, and I’ve been going along for about 20 years at Christmas, although I always have to go by myself because nobody in the family will come. For me, it’s not Christmas till I’ve sung Silent Night by candlelight.

The Catholics do it better than anyone. In my 20 years of solo Christmas Eve action, I’ve attended all kinds of denominations and churches for Christmas Eve services, and I must admit: there’s nothing like the Catholic St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney City for incense and Latin and blokes shuffling round in frocks — all the essential ingredients for a real feeling of festivity.

I love the little families; Italians and Croats and Filipinos and Vietnamese, all crowded in to St Mary’s, getting hotter and hotter as the evening progresses. I love the sleepy babies and the toddlers, wriggling and itching in their starchy new Christmas outfits. In the time I’ve been visiting, the Church has seen an incredible revival. 20 years ago, I could always find a seat.

Now, it’s standing room only, with crowds spilling out onto College Street, from an hour before kick-off.

George Pell did that. Something about the Cardinal’s American Eagle properness and insistence on the pillars of conservative Catholic thought resonated with people in this, our tolerant, egalitarian city.

I guess, like me, enough of them liked the incense and Latin. Maybe they thought Pell’s certain conservatism was reassuring in an uncertain world. Maybe they believed, unlike his many detractors, that Pell was a fundamentally decent man who has been courageous in speaking up for the poor and the needy. Maybe they thought all the drama of Mass was OK as a symbol of the Church’s greatest qualities: charity, mercy, humanity.

Anyway, on this particular evening a few years ago, the Mass had been rumbling along for an hour or so when it came time for Pell and the other priests to make a grand procession of sorts up the aisle.

They were carrying jewelled crosses, swinging clouds of smoke from their censers, holding bibles. And then came one priest carrying, with great reverence and solemnity, a glittering pillow upon which wobbled a doll with rosy cheeks. It was supposed to be the baby Jesus. The baby doll looked like plaster, and it looked like it had been sprayed with gold paint. It was wearing some kind of loincloth, presumably also made of plaster.

It was absolutely ridiculous.

Suddenly, they all looked ludicrous, from Pell down. It was an Emperor’s New Clothes moment. Here they were, a bunch of adult men standing six foot (or more, in Pell’s case), commanding the captivated attention of a thousand beautiful (real) children and their patient parents, eager to hear the transformative and magical message of Jesus Christ’s birth for the salvation of all mankind — and these blokes were parading a toy on a cushion.

I got up and walked out.

And I was struck by a feeling I’ve never been able to shake: this is the Catholic hierarchy’s great limitation.

It is carrying on with the same arrogance it’s been enjoying since the Middle Ages, when all the pomp was designed to terrify the paupers into behaving. For a thousand years, nobody dared to say: “Mate, you look stupid carrying that dolly around.”

Now plenty of people are saying it. They’re demanding to know why the Church isn’t a proper legal entity that can be sued for the horrific wrongs some of its officials inflicted on innocent children. They want to know what’s happened to those messages of peace, kindness and charity when the Church is flapping around, wasting precious time trying to stop women being ordained, or gay people marrying. They want to know why it’s apparently so quick to betray the principles Jesus taught us when it comes to confronting the hard truth about its own failings.

I want to know all that too.

But most of all I want to know this: if Cardinal Pell claims to be so willing to co-operate with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, why wasn’t he on the first plane home from Rome to show the Commission and the victims some real respect?

How could he think a statement could possibly suffice?

Why, given he finds the abuse of children so abhorrent, wasn’t he doing something about it in the 1980s?

Why hasn’t he vowed to hunt down paedophiles wherever they lurk and expel them from the Church?

Why is he still allowing the good works of Catholics to be besmirched by criminal rock-spiders?

Because I, for one, can only cop the baby-doll antics if they really symbolise something meaningful: something I can really put my faith in.”


Kong Hee on trial – updated*

City Harvest Church video


The Malay Mail Online reports…

“The last witness in the trial of six City Harvest Church leaders ended his time on the stand today (May 20), marking a major milestone after two years of court proceedings. The defence and prosecution will now prepare closing submissions and are expected to wrap up their case before Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon in September.

The trial has taken place in tranches since it began in May 2013. The six leaders face three to ten counts each of criminal breach of trust and/or falsification of accounts.

The accused are church co-founder Kong Hee, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, former church accountant Serina Wee, former finance manager Sharon Tan, former board member John Lam and former fund manager Chew Eng Han.

They allegedly misused S$24 million (RM64.8 million) in church building funds for the singing career of church co-founder Ho Yeow Sun, and another S$26.6 million to try and cover up the first amount.

The last defence witness was Jean-Jacques Lavigne, a former member of the church’s Business Breakthrough Group called to the stand by Chew. Lavigne previously worked for conglomerate SUTL, which owns the ONE°15 Marina Club.

SUTL was in 2006 interested in bidding for the F1 Pit Building, and was in talks with the church on commercial plans for the building.

Lavigne told the court that the church was committed to the project and he felt the church’s plan to purchase bonds from two church-linked entities was “probably the best thing to happen in years”.

He stopped attending the church in 2013, although he has not terminated his membership, he said.

The bonds, purchased from Xtron Productions — which managed Ho’s career — as well as an Indonesian company belonging to another church member, are at the centre of the trial.

The prosecution contends that the bonds were a sham to funnel church funds to Ho’s singing career, also known as the church’s Crossover Project.”


Mark Driscoll Hill$ong protest



Christian Today reports…

“A campaign against the visit of former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll to Sydney’s Hillsong Church has been organised in a further sign of resistance to Driscoll’s reappearance on the evangelical church circuit.

Demonstrators are to picket the Hillsong Waterloo church in Sydney in a protest against his participation in the Hillsong Conference later this year.

Driscoll, who resigned from the troubled Seattle megachurch last October amid a flurry of revelations about his leadership style, has made several appearances indicating a return to active ministry. He is believed to be planning to start a new church in Phoenix, Arizona.

Last Sunday he spoke at Gold Creek Church near Seattle; while he was applauded by the congregation, protesters outside held placards urging him to repent of divisive and controlling behaviour.

He is scheduled to appear at London’s O2 Arena in July and protesters are also expected there. An online petition urging his removal from the speakers’ line-up has attracted nearly 1,000 signatures.

The campaign against his Australia visit is being led by Benjamin Ady, a former Seattle resident.

He told Christian Today that he had grown “increasingly displeased with the growing number of people I knew, including a couple of people with whom I was close, who were terribly hurt by Mark Driscoll and the culture which he was creating at Mars Hill”. He said that while he believed in repentance and change, “I was very disappointed to see that Mark completely circumvented any process of repentance, change, and making amends to the many people he had hurt – choosing instead to resign.”

He continued: “Now, having demonstrated little to no evidence of any change, having undergone no visible process of repentance and making amends, Mark is exuberantly relaunching his career as a pastor, and Hillsong is very much helping him do so by putting him on stage in front of 20,000 people in Sydney.”

With others, Ady is planning to picket the church’s three services on May 31. He said they would “hopefully engage people from hillsong in conversation, letting them know why we’re there and encouraging them to put pressure on their leaders not to have Driscoll at the Conference. We plan to be peaceful and gracious.”




Benjamin Ady blogged on April 5, 2015…

” Today I went down to the Easter Sunday service at Hillsong Church Melbourne City Campus to quietly hold this sign and chat with people about the fact that Hillsong has invited uber-bully Mark Driscoll to speak at their two Hillsong Confrences this July in Sydney and London, at each of which he’ll be put on a stage and given a microphone in front of nearly 30,000 people.

I’d like to acknowledge that Hillsong has already acknowledged the problem to some extent by downgrading him from speaker at the conferences to simply Mark and his wife Grace being interviewed. Nevertheless, he’s still being allowed to speak to all those people. Doing so at the very least will boost his book and media sales and will re-victimise the many people who he abused and bullied to whom he still hasn’t even begun to make any amends.

Also, briefly, if you’re new the whole subject and have no idea about what I’m talking, you can read more at some of these links:

Alright.  So I arrived at Hillsong City Campus at Dallas Brooks Centre and found I was rather a lot more nervous than I had thought I was going to be, and also found that there were two entrances on opposite sides of the building, and I had to choose which one. I ended up choosing the sort of “main” entrance, which turned out to be a mistake as it’s located behind the building’s privately owned car parking lot. The “back” entrance is located right on a public street with a public sidewalk. It turns out more-or-less each entrance ends up getting used by about half the congregation. I unfurled my sign and stood quietly to the side at the bottom of the stairs, smiling at people and wishing them good morning. About 99% of people just read the sign and kept going into the service. The service officially started at 10:30, and I unfurled my sign at 10:05. 

A lovely fellow named M (this is M number 1) came down and chatted with me for a while. He seemed like maybe he was very much a church insider. He projected an air of relaxed confidence. He was wanting to know what Mark had done, and why did I care, and he listened with curiosity. In the end he said maybe Mark would apologize at the conference, and it would perhaps be useful for the many Christian leaders at the conference to hear about what he had done wrong, and that he trusted Brian Houston to deal with it well. This was a theme I heard from several people with whom I chatted. At maybe 10:25 a handsome young fellow whose name I didnt’ get who had on the volunteer uniform (a black t-shirt with white lettering VOLUNTEER across the front) came down to the bottom of the stairs and tried to stand in such a way that he was blocking the view of my sign. We ended up doing a funny game of I move, he moves to block, I move again, for a couple minutes, after which he kind of gave up.

At about 10:35, a very handsome hillsong-leader-looking fellow who looked to be about age 30 showed up at the top of the stairs with two Wilson Security guards. Wilson Security provides security for the Dallas Brooks Centre, where the services were being held, and also for the parking lot, which is run by them. This handsome fellow was looking and pointing at me and then the two security guards came down and told me I’d have to move as it was private property. Pretty much everyone had already arrived anyway, so it worked out well, as I shifted around to the “back” entrance, and so when everyone left the services just after noon, all the folks who use that entrance got to see my sign as well. Around at the back entrance I got into a brief conversation with M (This is M number 2), who was standing out there waiting for his sister K. M2 was really engaged and wanted to know about my story, and why I was no longer a Christian. I really liked him. But we didn’t get to talk for long as finally K arrived and they went into the service.

I started chatting with Younger M (aged perhaps 22?) (hereafter YM), who was a volunteer and was standing on the porch greeting folks as they arrived. She and I were there more or less alone as everyone had pretty much arrived, so I rolled up my sign and stuck it in my backpack and went up to stand on the porch to chat with her. She was very willing to share with me her story of how she grew up in a Christian family, but went away from God, but had come back and had been at Hillsong for three years. She thought I was kind of way off base as her take was that she herself had experienced a lot of hurt, but she’d worked through it and forgiven those people, and that was important, and she was trusting God to take care of them.  I tried to have a little chat with her about justice, and tell her a story Brian McLaren told me at a conference years ago about the importance of stopping abusers not out of anger, but out of love for both them and their victims, but YM very much didn’t want to hear much of anything I had to say.  While we were chatting, security showed back up and told me I had to stay on the sidewalk. I asked would I be allowed to come into the service if I got rid of the sign completely?, and they said no, they’d been asked to make sure I didn’t come on the premises at all. I asked who asked them, and they refused to give any details.

After that, I packed up and went for a little bike ride, and came back at the end of the service. As people were coming out, I had a number of really great conversations with people. Brother/sister pair M2 and K, whom I’d briefly met earlier, came by to chat a bit more. K. shared that she suffers from agoraphobia and lots of anxiety, and that she’d found the sermon very helpful and peace-bringing. I told her I thought she was super brave to have come to church, and she said yes it was really hard. She and M2 were by far the favourite people I met today. I’d love to connect with them again.

Actually I ended up running a sort of small discussion group with 4 or 5 people there on the sidewalk. New people kept edging up wanting to join the conversation, and I kept inviting them in introducing them to everyone already there. I was really delicious. I was holding my sign all the while. I got to explain a bit about Mark Driscoll and why I was personally invested being from Seattle and having friends who had been hurt, and how I really hoped Hillsong disinvites him from the conference.

Finally after most people had left, I ended up in a conversation with D, who looks a lot like Rick Warren (he laughed when I told him that) and J, a lawyer. These two stood and listened and asked questions and shared for maybe 10 minutes–I really enjoyed talking with them, although their take was quite similar to that of M1 and YM. In fact they kind of gently challenged me–D said “Couldn’t you have just emailed the leadership to let them know of your concerns? Don’t you think it’s a bit disruptive to be out here–these people just want to have their experience of worshiping Jesus on Easter morning!”.  I told him certainly hoped it was disruptive, as my hope was to get Mark disinvited to speak at the conference, and these people are the very people who create the power structure that will be giving Mark a giant voice in July. He said that seemed a bit conspiracy-theoryish to him, so I told him about Hannah Arendt’s theory about the banality of evil.

Finally, I wrapped up with D and J, and as I was unlocking my bicycle and getting ready to take off, M3, a lovely lady who looked to be perhaps 30, kind of surreptitiously approached me and said she wanted to let me know that she massively agreed with me about Mark Driscoll, and she thought I was super brave to be out there with my sign. She said she wouldn’t want church leadership to find out she was talking to me and she certainly couldn’t bring up the subject of Mark Driscoll at the conference with them herself, as she would then be labelled a “troublemaker” and as someone “not on board with the vision”. She said she really loved the people of the church, but the sermons felt not-enough-grace and way to much do-do-do and do-harder-do-harder-do-harder.

Overall, I really enjoyed myself, although I felt kind of emotionally and psychologically wrung out the whole rest of the day. I realised I felt a bit on edge/adrenalin-y the whole time I was there. Don’t really know that I’d be up for this sort of thing on a regular basis, although I suspect that feeling gradually goes away, as with anything new and slightly fear-inducing =)

Thanks for reading =) “

Adelaide Street Revilers badger Newsboys co-founder


RepentBelieveTrust writes…

“Filmed in the notorious Hindley Street, Adelaide 15/05/15.

Here we have fellow Christians witnessing to former Newsboys member/Co-Founder George Perdikis. Newsboys is one of the most successful Christian rock bands in history.

Not the type of Christian music I would listen to, or necessarily recommend but none the less, you may have heard their music in the film God’s Not Dead.

In 2007, George renounced his Christian faith, and declared himself an atheist….”