When you join an evangelical church in the United States, you get this:
It was the kind of community that Ms. Bragg, who was not raised in the church, wanted for her children. They signed the church’s Membership Covenant, an agreement stating they would submit to the Bible and to the authority and spiritual discipline of church leaders. Members promise to “practice complete chastity” unless in a heterosexual marriage, to “refrain from illegal drug use, drunkenness, gossip,” and to “diligently strive for unity and peace within the church.” Leaders promise “to lovingly exercise discipline when necessary.”
This is not a church of course. You say, yes it is. It is “The Village Church” in Hurst, Texas. I say, it is not a church. It is a cult. It requires members to submit to the “authority and spiritual discipline of church leaders”. Since no church leader has any real authority to give spiritual direction of any kind, they are asked to submit to the authority of a personality who happens to have manipulated a group of people in bestowing upon him some kind of arbitrary title.
This is not all that complicated: God does not talk to the pastors of “The Village Church”. He never did and never will. He does not “talk” to anyone. If He did, the first thing he would say is, STOP GIVING YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY TO THESE CHARLATANS!
The leaders of this church will say He did because most church leaders actually believe that the majestic voice inside their heads is not their egos: it is the Lord, guiding them to guide others, to bring spiritual fulfillment to the ignorant masses. And they better be ignorant– nobody who is not ignorant would buy this bunk.
Why would any person with any kind of intellectual integrity agree to such a bizarre, obscene obligation? Why would you surrender your right, as an adult, to define for yourself what is moral and what is not, what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do? And why on earth would you surrender to a group of grasping, self-serving “leaders” the power “to exercise discipline” over you?
I am always struck by the number of Americans who will proudly, insolently insist that they would never allow the government to tell them what to do, but will do what their church tells them to do.
Does this same church ask its members to give generously, without regard to their own personal benefit, because that’s what Christ asks of a member of his church? Yet the church protects itself with the fake “MinistrySafe” deceit, and it’s “covenant”. Trust us, but we don’t trust you.
Why would you believe that the people who created this “covenant” are inspired by Jesus, when it is absolutely obvious that the “covenant” serves their own interests alone? It is a franchise, the buildings and organization are a monument to Chandler’s ego. Nothing in this business seems even remotely related to the teachings or example of Christ. In fact, the close you look at the structures and constitutions of these organizations, the more obvious it is that they serve the financial and egotistical interests of the founders.
Mr. Chandler is raising money to build a new campus that is likely to cost more than $70 million.
Okay– now it’s different. It’s even worse. Now you idiots are co-conspirators with Mr. Chandler: you are actually paying for him to put you, and others, into an abusive relationship.
That said, I find the allegations nebulous. The Bragg’s daughter clearly has issues and has received therapy. Many therapists fervently believe that most emotional disturbances in young girls are caused by sexual abuse, even if it isn’t remembered. They will frequently “encourage” these young women to ransack their memories for possible incidents. She “remembers” an incident that occurred while she was in bed, and had been, or was asleep.
Was there something else that led the police to charge Mr. Tonne? From the article, the daughter could not identify the man she alleges abused her. There were no witnesses of any sort (to the incident, or to the man entering the room, or leaving). Did Mr. Tonne confess, perhaps, to one of the church leaders, who chose not to disclose to the Braggs?
Finally, the inevitable:
Boz Tchividjian and Mitch Little, lawyers representing the Braggs’ daughter, who is now an adult, said their client planned to move forward with formal litigation in order to hold the Village “accountable for the sexual trauma inflicted upon her as a child by an adult employee.”
Of course! The money!
Even after signing the onerous “covenant”, the Braggs are suing. The Braggs now have a financial interest in prosecuting Mr. Tonne. That doesn’t automatically mean the allegations are false but it introduces a corrupting influence. The Braggs will have no difficulty finding an “expert” psychologist who will testify that all of their daughter’s psychological issues stem from this incident of abuse. No psychologist who would testify otherwise could survive the withering hostility of the general public, and the church would never dare to produce one in it’s defense.
They will try to settle out of court for some of the millions they have from their generous, credulous sheep.