SPIRITUAL ABUSE

PART I

And some of its characteristics which begin with the higher echelon of Ecclesiastical Hierarchy

This article comes from an anonymous individual who had been a part of St. Ephraim monastery under the Greek Orthodox Church...

EDITORIAL NOTE: While it is that the article was sent to us anonymously, the notation with it said, "I think because you have gone through such abuses yourself, along with many who are with you... the article is most important.  I hope that because you, Eminence, personally, were affected by those who deny or break the Seals of the Confessional by telling tales that are false although based on printed media, you may find this article beneficial to your readers too."  The Staff of Apostle1.com thanks you!

On doing some research we found that the following link will take you to the authors of the article...  who is credited with putting it together....

In no way does the following organization endorse us, this jurisdiction nor do we necessarily endorse or support them.  However, may it be noted that what the following organization complains of, if it is true... should be heeded as regards any individual clergyman's abuse, misuse and actions which, for the most part, are diametrically opposed to Holy Orthodoxy.

http://www.concernedpoem.com

NOTE:  Apostle1.com has taken the liberty to modify or change that which fits the more immediate situation of our own experiences.

In beginning of this discourse we want to make it clear that what is described here takes time to understand, and does not necessarily have to be your experience up to this point with the situation you are struggling with regarding you, your family or loved one. This is a perspective or view that is provided so that you can decide if it is some way, shape or form true to your experience. It is nothing more or less than that.
 
Here at POEM (People of Ephraim Monastery) it is OK to feel like you have been spiritually wounded or spiritually discouraged by the people around your particular situation. It is also OK to think about, talk about and look at what are the causes of spiritual abuse.  If you feel you have been spiritually wounded or have been spiritually discouraged by a hierarch or church you are most likely experiencing something called, “Spiritual Abuse”. We mean no disrespect to anyone in our approach to this subject, just honesty about our experience and truth in the fact that spiritual abuse does exist. If your experience with the Fr. Ephraim monasteries and with many in the Greek Orthodox Church Hierarchy and laity who follow and support him lines up close to what is going to be explained here you have experienced spiritual abuse at some level. Ultimately, it is your decision to decide if you have in any way, shape or form experienced this type of treatment. Our purpose here is to help you determine that or what extent or degree that may or may not be true.
 
In this section and the next section of the web site we are going to take what in simple terms is called a ‘systems approach’ to understanding both spiritual abuse and shame. (The next menu item/section is titled, 'Shame'). You are going to be asked to view and think about the facts,  issues and concerns we raise in a systemic fashion. We are not going to ask you to think so abstractly about it. When someone thinks systemically they are looking at something from the standpoint of a study of people and organizations as living organisms that interact with each other in a way that is healthy and not harming and destructive. Those things that are not healthy or are destructive are what damage people and hurt organizations. The two most harming or destructive issues that can plague a religious organization are spiritual abuse and shame. The approach will be an unfolding approach as you work through the text. There are many helps provided in the resources and links aspect of the website that will help you better understand and assimilate what is going to be discussed here in regards to systems. To fully appreciate or understand what is being discribed here will mean that you are going to have read and become informed. So, please take you time contemplating what is discussed.  
 
In this section of the website and in the next section we emphasize and then re-emphasize many things as we try to approach the subject matter from as many angles as possible. This section of the web site and the next one flow together in many ways and reinforce each other. If you are new to the concepts of shame, systems and spiritual abuse you will most likely need to read these two sections over a few times to fully grasp their flow and what they are saying. When dealing with issues of shame, spiritual abuse and systems you are getting below the surface of what is going on and why it is going on. Understanding how all three of these things meld together is important to understanding the issues you dealing with and facing on a deeper level. 
 
It is always helpful to understand what it is you may or may not be dealing with so you can be better prepared for different issues as they come up. There are also many resources and links on the web site that can potentially give an even more thorough understanding of what is being discussed in these two sections. After working through many of the resources and links we would suggest that you come back to these two sections and re-read them to gain even better understanding and perspective as to what is being communicated here.  As you do so things will make more and more sense to you as to why these three issues are being discussed on this web site.
 
Let’s start with the following definition to begin your unfolding understanding of how systems, spiritual abuse and shame can become interconnected with one another in some very troubling ways.  
 
Spiritual abuse defined
 
Spiritual abuse is the misuse of a position of spiritual authority, power, leadership, trust or influence to further, or protect the self interest of someone or something other than the person who needs help or support. Spiritual abuse has the dis-empowering ability to spiritually wound, intimidate and/or discourage a person in a personal way regarding how they are to view Christian authority or view God. It is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of spiritual encouragement, help or support by undermining, decreasing or destroying that person's spiritual empowerment. It is the opposite of God's mercy and grace.
 
Spiritual abuse can also be caused by those who follow and support those in positions of spiritual authority by doing anything to protect and defend them through co-conspiring with them, attacking anyone who disagrees with them or doing anything to keep themselves looking good no matter who they are or the spiritual authority they use in their spiritual abuse in the process. Spiritual abuse can take place in virtually any Christian authority structure, but authoritarian “top down” hierarchical structures are particularly susceptible and well-suited for systemic spiritual abuse. They can be prone this way because their group claims to be established by God Himself and is the only true or right form of Christianity and/or best form of Christianity. The leaders then assume that they have an ultimate appointment or assignment by God as His representatives and then claim the right and power to command all who follow and support the group. They usually tell you that you will receive some form of spiritual blessing or protection if you completely submit to their authority. Some even tie your salvation to it.
 
Editorial Note:  This is so true of those who are hierarchs - clergy who attack other clergy and those jurisdictions whom they had been a part of but forced (excommunicated) from.  This is true of those who have taken out of context, information from news media, twisting facts to suit their own aims and ends to turn the spotlight of attention from themselves while castigating and creating havoc on other clergy and jurisdictions they no longer belong to.
 
In extreme top down authoritarian groups other legitimate forms of Christianity are seen as not having the Holy Spirit, not really Christian or not being in favor with God. If you are not part of the group you either do not have salvation or your salvation is held as extremely suspect. These groups can project an attitude that is unseen or unrecognized by them that is self righteous and prideful as they masquerade with a false mask of pious humility. The more authoritarian a group is the more such a group will imply, advocate or require a person to submit without question and without critical thinking. The longer such a group has been in existence can mean the more spiritual abuse is ingrained, practiced and unable to be admitted. In many cases most of the hierarchy of such groups is committed to protecting their power base, prestige, image, position, title, legacy and control of their followers. Any attempt to change what is obviously wrong or to speak into such systems about what is wrong  is seen by many of them as a personal attack, persecution or less than respectful, and therefore not worthy of their attention. Many such hierarchal leaders can see themselves as above accountability because of their control issues or because they are masters at avoiding it through the indoctrination or manipulation of others.  Those who submit to them without emotional and spiritual healthy boundaries are usually the last ones to realize how they are being controlled, manipulated or spiritually abused.
 
Such hierarchs and their most ardent followers live and breathe in a closed bunker mentality with welded shut reinforced steel doors that keep them  insensitive or imperious to change that may threaten what they think is of and by God. For the most part they see themselves or their system as above needing any type of reform. They see themselves as the all knowing ones who can themselves determine all that is right or wrong about them. This mostly being what is right about them without acknowledging what others point out is spiritually abusive about them. The people that do point those things out are usually made some form of an outcast from the system for even daring to think, feel, talk or look at such things in the system in such a way [Note: This has happened to us who host apostle1.com by others who are no longer a part of this jurisdiction]. Such hierarchs are about control and keeping control at almost any expense, to the degree of using blackmail attempts, making false and misleading statements and worse. [Note: As we have found out from the continuous attacks we have suffered from another jurisdiction(s), be they ethnic or otherwise].  These types of authoritarian top down hierarchal systems are very shaming to people in their attitude towards them and treatment of them.
 
To be treated in a spiritually abusive fashion has direct parallels to the same abuse a person feels that has been sexually abused. It goes right down to center core of one's self or being on both an emotional and spiritual basis. The recovery from this is both painful and messy as it is one of the most diabolical schemes of the Father of Lies to undermine someone’s position and identity in Christ. It destroys trust in what God has set up to be trusted as it can also destroy trust in God. May God bring loving discipline and/or severe mercy to anyone who practices spiritual abuse towards those who seek grace, mercy, love and truth from those who portray themselves as safe, trustworthy and Christian.  May God in His grace reveal to them what they are involved in and why they are involved in it. Would they then be repentant in that making full account for their wrongs and making amends wherever possible. 
 
SYSTEM, SYSTEMIC AND HIERARCHY DEFINED
 
A system by its most simple definition is: a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements or parts forming a complex functioning whole. For instance, the human body is a system with different internal systems within it that make the totally of the body as a large system. These internal systems are in fact sub-systems in the larger all encompassing system as a whole (Ex: respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, etc). For purposes of our discussion here on systems please remember the concept of a larger all encompassing system and smaller sub-systems. This will be particularly important in the next menu item section entitled, "Shame”
 
If any internal system (sub-system) fails to serve its purpose the body (the larger all encompassing system) is rendered dysfunctional in part or in whole depending on the level or degree of the internal failure of the smaller sub-system. To be dysfunctional means it does not function as it is supposed too. A monastary can be considered a sub-system that operates under the authority of a larger all encompassing church system. The term “systemic” relates to something affecting the entire body of an organism as a system and at times it can be isolated in a smaller sub-system. Although it does not take long for something that goes wrong in a smaller sub-system to systemically affect the whole system. What systemically affects a system can be either helpful or harmful to the system.  For instance, if you have a disease that is systemically affecting your entire body or one area of your body and obtain a medicine that stops the disease that was helpful to your whole body as system. The medicine hopefully cured you systemically. On the other hand, if the sickness is left untreated it can systemically cause your body as a system many serious and ongoing problems. Which would you believe a church or some other type of Christian group (system) would want to be on a systemic level, sick or well? That is one of the questions this section of the web site and the next section of the web site hope to address.
 
An organizational system that is Christian, such as a church, is a living organism like a human body with many internal functioning systems. It is the Body of Christ.  If it for some reason it becomes dysfunctional it has the ability to spiritually abuse people as explained in the “Definition of Spiritual Abuse”. The church as a system has an authority structure and people who are interconnected with each other emotionally and spiritually around their beliefs and interdependent upon each other in the practice of those beliefs to make their organization work and function as a church or group. People play different roles and have different responsibilities in a system that impacts the success of the system systemically. The beliefs and resulting practices of those beliefs impact all people in the system attitudinally, behaviorally, intellectually, emotionally, philosophically and spiritually in a systemic fashion.
 
A hierarchy is simply a body of persons having authority and responsibility who are categorized by ability, status, position, eminence and/or title. Some hierarchies are organized in successive ranks or grades with each level subordinate to the other with rules, guidelines, and checks and balances that in principle are designed to keep abuses of authority from taking place through accountability of that authority. These types of organizations can have something similar to a business organization and/or military organization look and feel to them. Other types of hierarchies can be more loosely organized around agreed upon rules and guidelines that in principle are designed to make or cause authority to be more or less evenly or equally shared with each level lending respective subordination to the other around the agreed upon principles and guidelines. Ideally, and if either type of organizational system is functioning in a healthy fashion, it has checks and balances to make sure this happens and that there are no abuses of power. There is open and honest accountability around such things. (Others systems can have something of a mix of both to these styles of structure)
 
One type of hierarchal system is not necessarily better than another one, per say. Yes, there can be exceptions to this, but that is not the point being made here; God is not in a box and can design any Christian system to His liking and He allows His people to design and develop what works best for a particular church whether it is in an Eastern or Western context. That is not what makes a church free from spiritual abuse of power. What does cause spiritual abuse of power is the point being made here.
 
Systems and hierarchies are almost synonymous terms in many respects and this does depend on how much influence and control a particular hierarchy may hold over the system itself. Yes, the hierarchy is one part of the larger system, but its influence and control can be so pervasive that what the leadership models, teaches and advocates is what the rest of the system models, teaches and advocates. Of course, this is a general context synonymous relationship and it is only true by degree of how much authority a particular hierarchy has over the system itself. A top down authoritarian system carries a lot of persuasiveness and authority as to how much the system and hierarchy look and act alike. So, for purposes of the use of these terms being used on the website, generally speaking, we are using the terms synonymously. Not to be confusing, we also understand that they are differentiating terms in many respects by definition. Their consanguinity is found in the affinity they share through the influence of the authoritarian hierarchy over the system which causes their amalgamation.
 
The website uses these terms system and hierarchy synonymously with the understanding that not all of those aspects of a system or people in a system are all the same and by degree are characterizing of a hierarchy's influence and control over every aspect of the system through its authority. Yet, not to the degree that these terms cannot be used in inter-changeability on this website. Hopefully, we have been clear in making separations between the system and the hierarchy where this in not the hard and fast rule of the case of them being one in the same thing. Other aspects of a system which also carry significant influence in the system can also contribute to how the system thinks and views itself; but, not to the degree that they necessarily convey the same influence in a top down authoritarian system that the top level hierarchs do. Although some hierarchs or leaders who are not considered top level hierarchs can carry significant political, attitudinal, behavioral, intellectual, financial and/or philosophical influence in the system; but, the bottom line is that the buck stops at the top. This is where ultimate responsibility and accountability for what happens in the system resides in a top down hierarchal system. 
 
Stated somewhat differently, in some hierarchal systems the top level hierarchy, for all intents and purposes, is the system as it can be that controlling and influential over its different aspects, views of itself, attitudes and practices. They are the centerpiece of what the system is to represent and are seen as such by all other aspects of the system. Their influence shapes and molds the entire system by degree of influence, power, control and authority they exorcize over the system. Therefore, the hierarchy is ultimately responsible for what happens inside the system to the degree that they hold influence, power, control and authority over the system. In no uncertain terms the hierarchy is ultimately responsible in  a top down authoritarian hierarchal system. There is no escaping this reality and to try to do so is begs the question: Who, then, is in charge in a hierarchal system? If no one at the top of a hierarchy can be held accountable or responsible with consequences when things go bad or wrong then it begs the question: Is this a systemically healthy hierarchal system? If a hierarchal system can be found to be systemically unhealthy then it begs the question: Why doesn't someone do something about it? The answer to that last question can be quite telling as to what is really going on in a system on many levels. It is your decision to determine to what degree this may or may not be true about any particular hierarchal system under your research.  
 
Hierarchies and systems from an objective definitional standpoint are benign, and that’s where the definition stops. Every system needs some form of a hierarchy with authority. That is a given. What differentiates one hierarchal system from another is its attitude, treatment and practices toward those inside and outside of the hierarchal system.  If the leadership of a hierarchal system of any kind becomes corrupt and/or abusive that is when it is no longer benign. It then moves into the realm of becoming top down authoritarian and controlling. It begins to exercise its authority in an authoritarian fashion that does not come under people and support them through service. The system and/or its leadership instead come over the top of people and in some way, shape or form tries to regulate or control them in an abusive fashion. The hierarchy takes a power posturing position over people in many respects.  That is, they do not bring mercy and grace to people when and where such people need it most. They wound their wounded, and in many cases simply shoot their wounded.  
 
When this takes place the definition of the hierarchy and the system changes from benign to abusive, rendering them dysfunctional. They become a dysfunctional hierarchy and since the hierarchy controls the system they render the system dysfunctional and/or systemically sick. To be rendered dysfunctional means that they no longer function in the way they are intended too or are not operating by any reasonable expectation of Christian values, ethics and morality. To be rendered systemically sick means what flows out of the controlling hierarchy and/or system is not healthy or safe for those in the system (This is by degree and determined by what is actually going on in the system and where it is going on in the system). As a result of this what in the beginning was possibly meant for good in a Christian system becomes toxic, corrupted or tainted by one or more aspects of its self. The system becomes systemic sick by one or more aspects of itself causing it to do harm or damage to people who are interacting with it or involved with it. All Christian systems are hierarchal to one degree or another as all are capable of becoming top down authoritarian and controlling in a dysfunctional way that leads them into becoming spiritually abusive. No system is immune to this happening.  
 
IDENTIFYING SPIRITUAL ABUSE
 
Often when we experience spiritual abuse we feel it and are not able to articulate exactly what it is we are feeling. We know something is terribly wrong, but can’t quite put our finger on it or define what is happening. Many of us have not even heard of the term before or we have never experienced it. Some have lived under its undue influence for so long they see at normal and even as the way things should operate. Many people who have lived under this are simply in some form of denial regarding it and/or have become acclimated to it. They live in it and under it as their NORM.  When it is an accepted norm is it harder to differienciate what is healthy normal from what is not healthy normal. This is especially true if the system is not willing to see itself as it really is in comparison to what is considered emotionally and spiritually healthy. Top down authoritarian systems have many ways to avoid doing this and none of them are not conducive to the health of the system.
 
Spiritual abuse has a very subtle power to cause us confusion or inner turmoil. That inner turmoil or confusion is partly related to our trust in those who we feel have our best interest at heart and who would at the very least support us in our grief, sense of loss, struggle and suffering. Then we find out that they have other personal interests that take priority over us or that really just have no sense of compassion towards us. They are not operating in God's interest or in our interest as God would have them. They are operating in their own interest. They are not operating in Gods norm they are operating in a norm that is designed to benefit themselves.
 
The closest equivalent to spiritual abuse is sexual abuse. That is, the symptoms of spiritual abuse are similar to a person who has experienced sexual abuse. The attitude behind sexual abuse is very similar to that found in spiritual abuse in that the person is horribly shamed and treated like an object. To some degree they are either used, discarded and degraded in some fashion. Some of our members have actually stated that they felt like they were emotionally and spiritually raped through the experiences that they have had to endure and face. That is the level of seriousness that the issue of spiritual abuse needs to be viewed. To not recognize this or admit it is spiritually abusive to the person and only compounds the abuse. This is because it does not recognize them as wounded persons who are suffering. This type of apathy and/or indifference is very cold hearted and does not bring the wounded into healing. It brings them into deeper wounding. It wounds the wounded.
 
It is a hard reality for any systemically sick system to come to terms with its spiritually abusive attitudes and treatment of others in such a contrast to sexual abuse. It is just too hard of a reality to identify with as being true by them. The reality is that both spiritual abuse and sexual abuse are highly destructive and neither is to be tolerated in any Christian system.  In some systems this is hard to be accepted because the practices of sexual abuse are tolerated, kept secret or covered up. Sometimes the victims themselves are blamed for it. The same holds true in many respects for more general practices of spiritual abuse.  If one is tolerated it can potentially make it easier for the other to be tolerated because in effect sexual abuse is also spiritually abusive to its victim. Other immoral issues such as homosexuality or adultery if hidden, kept secret or tolerated also lend themselves to allowance of spiritual abuse in a system. This is especially true if such immoral practices are going on in the hierarchy of a church or group. All are victimizing and spiritually abusive to people because they represent an abuse of power and an abuse of biblical standards of conduct.
 
A system can be spiritually abusive and not sexually abusive, but a system that is immoral and/or sexually abusive is always spiritually abusive. That is, if its hierarchs are practicing such things or such things are being hidden or kept secret. In some systems hierarchs have the goods on others and are for all intents and purpose blackmailed into not dealing with issues as they should be. The corruption can run so deep that the system becomes a system where nothing is ever dealt with because everyone at the top has something on everyone at the top. It becomes a, ‘If you tell on me I will tell on you’, scenario. In such cases, usually, only corrupt people are allowed into the inner circle at the top of system because anyone who cannot be mutually blackmailed cannot be trusted to keep the secrets and help in the cover-ups. Again, this only goes on if the hierarchs are actually corrupt in these ways.
 
It can be quite amazing to find out what actually goes on at the top of a hierarchy when research is conducted into backgrounds. What is many times represented in print or in word as to moral positions and how such practices are to be handled by a hierarchy are not always what actually happen in practice. Some things that go on are openly admitted and practiced because the system has become that corrupt and the hierarchs do not fear any repercussions because the entire system has become that systemically sick.  Eventually, all of it comes into God's light of the expose’. He will not be mocked by such hypocrisy.  Often times it is that the background of an individual hierarch is such that change does occur, for the good because of experiences from the past, and that too is good.  For such shows the workings of the Holy Spirit in his or their lives. But this is not always true for others.
 
Do not misunderstand us here about sexual abuse. This is not meant to imply anything about anyone or accuse anyone of anything. We only bring this up to show the extremes as to how bad things can potentially get if issues such as these are not kept on top of, or dealt with, in an ongoing manner and in the light fashion. Preventative policies and guidelines that are enforced are any systems best procedure to curtail the event of this problem getting out of control. An investigation of any claim of this type of abuse or of anyone who supports people who practice this type of abuse are critical to keeping a system free of this type of abuse. If true evidence of this nature is found then policies need to be enforced and the results of that need to be made public if disciplinary action are taken. No favoritism or politics are to influence the enforcement of such stated policy or guidelines. Lay people need to be encouraged to report any information that would bring proof forward of any hierarchs immoral sexual practices that could be determined are either illegal or abusive.
 
It is not uncommon for a priest to take a false charge of sexual offense or abuse because he would not break the Seals of the Confessional.  And when this happens, it has become the norm, but not in agreement with holy scripture, whereby the faithful and other hierarchs of the same or other jurisdictions consider the individual(s) guilty without consideration of the primary Pillars of faith that were being protected.  This is a danger because it raises the issue of spiritual abuse and the abusiveness now takes on the form not only of attacking hierarchs, but laity too.  This needs to be curtailed with solid evidence shows that the Seals of the Confessional were actually the aim and goal of the one suspected or convicted by civil authority.  This is actually a shame on the church when they do not stand up to defend the priest and the pillar of the church that was being protected by the priest.  Sometimes the attacking hierarchs from within or other jurisdictions take the civil attitude of approach only to throw off the spotlight of attention from themselves which is equally offensive and constitutes a form of spiritual abuse too.
 
The same should hold true for non-sexual spiritual abuse, but it usually does not. It also needs to be brought forward and confronted. Policy that regulates and identifies what non-sexual spiritual abuse needs to be stated and enforced. Both hierarchs and laity need to be educated by outside third party experts as to what it is and how to prevent it. No hypocrisy of any kind in regards to disciplinary enforcement of spiritual abuse policy is to be tolerated by the laity of any system.  A board of inquiry for all types of abuse needs to be established and not made up of only hierarchs so that objectivity, accountability and consequences can be better insured. If necessary third party consultants need to be brought in that ensure objectivity is realized and to help establish such policy. If a system does not want these issues to get out of control a system must do what is necessary to make sure it does not get out of control. Usually only where the laity has power to influence the direction of a system is such policy enforced correctly. Archaic and non-effective policy enforcement procedures that only involve the hierarchy to conduct policy enforcement behind secretive closed doors do not work. This is especially true if the system has a history or reputation for abuse of power of any kind. Many times the victims of abuse are further spiritually abused in such procedures and are not treated fairly or with compassion. Policies are only as good as the ethics and integrity of those enforcing them.
 
Power can corrupt a person and absolute power can absolutely corrupt someone. There is a thin line between Godly authority in a system and top down authoritarian control that becomes corrupt. That line can be easily crossed if hierarchs are not held accountable or if they come to see themselves as above such accountability. The more secretive, covering up or spinning of the truth a hierarchy is, the more telling it is of it seeing itself as above accountability. It is also very telling as to how it is not being held accountable by the laity of such a system. If laity were to organize and exercise their moral and ethical power it all would stop. They are the ones who hold the real power for it is they that the hierarchs are to serve and not visa versa. But, in some systems this all gets turned around in the most dysfunctional of ways through top down hierarchal control and/or abuse of power.
 
THE HEART BREAKING TRUTH OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE     
   
For the victim of spiritual abuse coming to terms with this reality can be both heart breaking and disappointing. To discover the true attitude and character and what really is important to a person (or hierarch) who spiritually abuses you can be quite disturbing. Sometimes we find out that they are lying to us or that they are merely trying to put a “happy face” on their treatment of us through some form of justification, rationalization or spiritualization of their practices, attitudes and behavior. Others will in very cold and indifferent terms tell you that what they believe and practice is right and so get over it – they are right in these things and you are really just uninformed, ignorant and not understanding or why they can treat you and your family like this – in their minds their theology, history, traditions and/or doctrines justifies their practices, attitudes and behaviors. 
 
Sometimes we find out that they are playing religious politics with other hierarchs or people of influence at our expense and that they really have no moral backbone to stand up for what is right (And how true this has been for our own Metropolitan when he had faced the errant ways of others who are no longer with us). They may even throw you a bone to make you think that they really care or are really hearing your concerns, and that they are really doing something about it. The bone is meant to appease you and keep you under their control; when in fact they are playing you like a fish on a line.  If you buy into this you will most likely only get burned again over something that blindsides you unexpectedly. (Take the bone if you can get it, just know what it is when it is thrown to you) This is because they have never really dealt with all of their issues thoroughly. In their political game playing they may try and help you with some form of juggling act by trying to appease both sides, but at the same time try and protect the very thing that is abusing you without really dealing with what abused you. They want it both ways, and usually in the end will protect what gives them their paycheck or what keeps them in standing with their peers or most ardent supporters. They contradict themselves when they do this as they show the hypocrisy in ethical and moral standards of Biblical conduct, treatment and attitude.
 
The subtle and unspoken message sent to you is that you really are expendable and what and who they are protecting cannot be made to look bad. These types of people send you a mixed message that is not to be trusted because you do not know where they really stand one way or the other while you are dealing with them.  Some are chameleons who change color depending upon who they are dealing with and talking too. Changing colors can be about religious politics and even powerful money people who support the attitudes and practices of a group and/or church, and who weld great influence with the hierarchy.
 
Some in the system will tell you not to make waves or make anyone angry as they are your only hope of help or resolution to your concerns. This might hold true if the hierarchy in such case actually came through with solutions that really reflect integrity or honest attempts to rectify the problems in an in the light fashion. If this were the case you could come forward and actually expect things to get done in a fair, open and honest fashion with no game playing involved. Usually there is just a continuance of their desire to keep things secret and keep the cover-up going so they can maintain control and not be exposed for who they really are and how they really have in the past or are in the present are conducting themselves. It is a subtle form of power play through intimidation that takes place on either a conscious or unconscious level from the top down of the hierarchy. Such intimidation is a subtle form of spiritual abuse of power.
 
When such fear through intimidation, controls a system then that system has become corrupt. No one in any Christian system should have to be afraid of coming forward with legitimate issues that need resolution. This is especially true if ethical solutions to grievances are not found or put into practice.  If such a hierarchy were really serious about dealing with issues in an open and honest fashion then issues would be dealt with in an open and honest fashion and fear of making anyone angry would not even be an issue. The concern of being spiritually abused for bringing the issue up would not be an issue. The hierarchy in such situations would be in front of the issues leading the way to solution and not behind them always trying to protect what gives them prestige, position, title, eminence, power, title and image. When ever you see or sense someone is keeping secrets, covering up and patronizing you, get ready for spiritual abuse. It is on its way as you will in many cases be made expendable to their secretive nature and less than honorable character of always covering up after themselves. You can usually expect their follow through to be less than thorough and wholly inadequate to what is really necessary to make things right.   This is especially true of those who attack other clergy and other jurisdictions which they may have once belonged to.
 
You can also eventually be seen as an annoyance and/or too messy so they avoid or ignore you as they rationalize that they have more important and pressing matters to deal with than your loss or why and how your loss took place.  They stone wall you if you become too public or threatening to their power base about your unresolved concerns. Some of them play a waiting game and wait for you to just give up and then just GO AWAY! After all, their system will outlive you, and then who will care about the concerns you raised? (P.O.E.M. is not going away). (And neither is the AOC/AOCC/NAOC going away, we are here to stay as we have since 1972).
 
They may even think you mentally unbalanced for the emotion you share in your grief and in the way you share your concerns to them in that grief. When this happens you are many times written off by them as not being legitimate or worthy of their attention. Stated another way, if you have been spiritually abused by them they may even think you mentally unbalanced because of the way you share your feeling in your emotional state of being a victim of their abuse. After all, one must use only their prescribed methods that protect them and their system in dealing with your situation that they and their system caused. You must be loyal and trusting of them and their system no matter what the cost to you, even if it cost you one of your children. You must show perfect emotional control at all times. You must approach them in a way that they deem is spiritually correct and holds their high positions in esteem or you are not recognized as viable. You must say and do things in that process just right or you run the risk of being made an out cast in some fashion or not being held creditable by them. Those who do approach them in a manner that they desire usually find themselves in circular ongoing correspondence and meetings that never resolve their issues. They play you like a puppet on a string.  (Oh, the crazy making games such systems play knowingly or unknowingly)
 
If you stand strong and resolute with them on a practical, emotional and/or spiritual level they see it as being only you wanting it your way and not being flexible or reasonable. This is especially true if you ask them hard, but appropriate questions of them, like, “Why should we trust you?” or “Why did you allow this to happen?”. Yet, it was their way that caused the problem through a system of their design and one that they support and protect in the most inflexible and unreasonable of ways. They are the reason for the problem and not you, but they do not really want to admit that. Nor do they publicly want to be held accountable for that. So how can they then be trusted if this is the case? They are hypocrites of the very thing they accuse you of or imply about you when they do this.
 
You never know who to trust or how much you can really trust them because you are always left with the fractured pieces of a puzzle you are constantly trying to put together to make sense of it all, and then all of a sudden out of no where they change the pieces of the puzzle putting you back at square one again, and again, and again. You never know what to expect and you eventually come to a point that nothing they say or do surprises you no matter how weird or strange it is. This does not mean you will not shake your head in disbelief at times or cringe in angry frustration or disgust. That is normal and to be expected.  When this happens understand it is not you who are crazy, it is the system that is dysfunctional and it is crazy because that is what dysfunctional systems are, they are crazy, making things appear as they are not to hide the errors of one who has lost contact with the faith. They do not think, act or operate like they are rational or reasonable. The thing that separates your reality from theirs is that in your reality you are rational and in their reality they are in many ways irrational.
 
Your best self-help is to stay rational in your thinking and play it straight with them.  Know who and what you are dealing with as scary or disconcerting as that realization might come to be. Know who you are and why you are who you are. You do not have to comprise that or let them play conscious or unconscious games with that. Be the rational and sane one in the midst of it as that is irrational and insane. Remember it is about them and not about you; although they may try to make it about you because for the most part they rarely play it straight with you. But, from their perspective they think they are playing it straight with you which is why it can seem so crazy making at times.    
 
Speaking on a Christian level as to how they, at times, can come across to you attitudinally or other wise when you confront them, this is what you might sense or receive from them in spoken or unspoken ways: How could you possibly hear God differently than we do or see it spiritually different than we do? How could you even dare to think that you could and that you are right in that? Do you actually think that you could even come close to our stature before God or have the same influence with God that we do? Who do you think you are in comparison to us for even daring to raise questions and concerns about us? Therefore, there really are no legitimate ways to find resolution with them when this attitude appears, let alone reason with them. They protect a system that they do not want to reform for fear of what it might say about them or who it might upset if they do so. When one or more of these things takes place either subtly or overtly trust in them becomes broken or shattered when we realize that what we were taught or believed to expect from them biblically does not line up with we know is to be biblical treatment. You find out, usually the hard way, that they operate in a different ethical and spiritual paradigm than you do. It can be a totally irrational and/or dysfunctional paradigm that seems alien to you. Yet, it seems completely rational, reasonable and normal to them. Are you going crazy yet?  
 
SPIRITUAL ABUSE AND WHO IS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR IT  
 
Any type of hierarchal system can become top down authoritarian and controlling in an abusive sense. This is because the nature of many men is to hold authority and control as they protect their title, position, eminence, prestige and image that give them power and control. Many times how they view themselves in their positions and view others from those positions causes them to become abusive.  (We have seen this happen to others, primarily one other in another state of the U.S.A., who has attempted to appear "Orthodox" and "Catholic" with much speaking and writing about the sins and errors of others while further attempting to appear as the epitome of "Christian" when, in fact, there is much hidden, and many attempts to deceive, attempt blackmail, all for the sake of self image and to create himself to appear as an "American Orthodox Church" (gained by deceit and fraud) is the ultimate sin and blasphemy against the faith, even though excommunicated [4 times] that they were by various bishops and jurisdictions.)    The actual real cause of abuse of power goes far deeper than this. It is possible for these men to become abusive when those who are to hold them accountable no longer do so, are no longer really allowed too, or only have a façade of that. In such hierarchies where the accountability  is not enforced this creates a vacuum  by omission, and sometimes by commission, which is filled by a more top down authoritarian hierarchy that may not openly admit it has become this type of hierarchy so it can keep up appearances of it still being as it was originally meant to be. Usually the followers in this type of system enable this to take place. They ever so slowly have their authority subverted and undermined by others who hold greater power and control (Or, they simply hand it over). Like the frog in the kettle when the heat is turned up slowly the frog boils to death without notice as to what has taken place.
 
When laity and leadership of a church or group allows this to happen to itself it needs to wake up and make needed reforms and implement those reforms no matter what the cost to them.  They need to quit playing cultural ethnocentric church, social club church, ingrown enmeshed church, façade religiosity church, self righteous church, worldly church or dead religion church and rise above those who are abusive and/or keeping of the status quo and deal with them in a way that either forces those types of leaders to leave or forces them to change their attitude and behavior and conform to what will once again makes their system functional. Forthrightly speaking, they need to quit playing systemically sick church. In no uncertain terms the laity needs to deal with the systemic sickness of the system and/or hierarchy. They need to support leadership that will help them do this and who prevent abuses of power, and not support those leaders who will not make the necessary reforms. If they do not then ever more corrupting and undermining elements will enter their system and cause it great harm and rendering it ever more dysfunctional.
 
In the systemically sick system leaders whose gifts and talents that would be better spent developing the church find themselves in the midst of putting out fires that could have been prevented had they made the necessary reforms. Instead of preventing fire damage with forethought, wisdom and discernment they spend a lot of their time in damage control. They become hired professional fire fighters instead of Shepard’s who protect the flock from fire. Others like some form of a spiritual pyromaniac cause fires through spiritual abuse of power. As still others enjoy the pleasures and perks of the status quo of their positions, power, titles, eminence, prestige and image as they with great vehemence defend what could disrupt that. This, of course, does not apply to those who with sincere hearts after God practice their faith in a humble fashion and who with great sacrifice minister to the needs of those around them. There are those in such systems who know the score on what is going on at the top and still work with those at the bottom of the food chain who need the most empathy, care and encouragement. Just like Jesus did. The do not play religious politics with the truth. They get real with the truth as the truth.   
 
It is both the responsibility of the laity and the leadership to make sure these reforms take place so that the vitality of real Christianity exists in the midst of the Body of Christ of their particular church. If a church laity or leadership will not become accountable and responsible to God and each other to keep this from happening such a church will in time be rendered useless to itself and to a world that is need of the message of the Gospel.  Such a church whether it is large or small will eventually take on one or more of the attributes of these churches as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, Galatians, James chapter 2,  Revelation chapters 2 and 3 (This would exclude the church of Philadelphia), etc., etc. Church laities that do not hold their leaders accountable or responsible are asking for serious problems in the present or not long into the future. Churches where church hierarchies avoid accountability or refuse to be held accountable are already in deep trouble. Systems and hierarchs have a distinctly homeostasis quality about them; if you do not keep them accountable they always seem to return to their previous state (That is, if they move into a healthy state).
 
Church leaders who lead their flocks by not being pro-active, pro-reform or pro-spiritual health are leading those flocks into dead dry pastures of thistles and thorns. They wound their wounded by not dealing in truth with the issues that cause wounds. Jeremiah spoke volumes of insight into such men and systems:
 
Jeremiah 6: 13-15
 
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain, prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace’, they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not blush. So, they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them”
 
IF THE SHOE FITS TAKE IT OFF: The seven last words of a dying, shaming and spiritually abusive church are: “We have always done it this way". They are without vision and have either stopped growing or are slowly dying on the vine of their dysfunctional system. They operate in a dead or dying paradigm of religion which is not shifting to a new paradigm of spiritual vitality that meets the spiritual needs of society or their own flocks in a way that keeps them outwardly focused instead of inwardly ingrown. When such organizations are Christian the very things that could return them to health is seen by many as anthema because those things would threaten the status quo. These types of systems hold on to things that either spiritually abuse people or they in a spiritually abusing way defend them. They allow these things to spiritually abuse people (and families) and then spiritually abuse them again by in some fashion defending them (Think it through). The very thing that abuses people many times is held up as sacred and/or of great significance to the system. Those they abuse hold a different perspective about them. In fact, many times these things that system holds onto are the very things causing much of the systemic sickness within the system, and the hierarchy can know this and will still do nothing about it. That is how deep unresolved sysystemic issues can run in a system like this.
 
This is not to say that such a system does not help when a natural catastrophe strikes or that it does not give to causes that are worthy, etc. That is not the point being made here. What is being discussed here is both subtle and deceptive as it operates below the surface until it runs over the unsuspecting person or family. That’s what spiritual abuse is about. Understanding and seeing it for what it is and where it manifests itself is not hard once a person understands it and knows what to look for or lookout for.
 
The danger here is that other corrupting influences will try and rush in and fill the empty dead void of religion with their various brands of Christianity which in some cases are worse than the issues that are affecting the current condition of the church. These corrupted forms promise a revitalization of what is dead or a renewal of some ancient success, and so they are allowed in by lazy and/or unwise leaders who do not conduct the background research and investigation to verify their integrity or what they are really all about. Others do not stand up to them or put anything on the line to protect the larger flock from their influences. When such distorted forms of Christianity take a foot hold and the church tries to deal with it through damage control, it only shows what the controlling  hierarchy is really all about; ineptness, incompetence and a foolish mindset to maintain the status quo with too little too late policies and actions that do nothing to heal the damage already done, but only keep the damage from spreading further (hopefully). Real healing of families wounded and people damaged does not proceed forth from such hierarchies. People in most cases are left to fend for themselves in their spiritually abused state. The hierarchy apathetically and/or indifferently moves on to address its next crisis that also could have been prevented or is concurrently involved in. The top down authoritarian and bureaucratic mindset of the hierarchy cannot fathom the depth of how and why it all happened or comprehend the degree of damage done by not using foresight and wisdom to begin with. They begin to point fingers of blame and/or cover up things in a secretive way regarding what is really going on and how they are dealing with it. In many instances they look like the ‘Keystone Cops’ when they finally do act.
 
Many times the greater congregation is fooled into believing that the leadership was in front of and on top of the issues and problems plaguing the system, and their dealing with it proves that they are good leaders watching out for the flock. The public relations aspect of the hierarchy can be quite effective here if one does not look below the surface as to what is really going on. If you look at the true circumstances and events that lead up to the problem you find out what really went on and how it was really handled. Many times they knowingly let it go on for years before acting and during that period unconscionable acts of spiritual abuse of power took place that wounded many. That is a secret they do not want to get out and put under the microscope of accountability as it might disrupt the status quo.  The bottom line is they try to maintain the integrity of the system after the fact instead of before the fact with reform of the system and with true, vital and living Christian spirituality. Such men are into maintaining the status quo and not Christian revival that would make come alive what is dead through leadership that really is committed to outward outreach and not inward enmeshment of the status quo.
 
SPIRITUAL ABUSE AND FAMILY  
 
The attitude of the hierarchy and their values, ethics and morals is critical to how people in the system are treated because they lead by their example that people follow. (Kind of like the human brain leads the human body in all of its functions) This is particularly true in regards to how those things impact a family as families predominately are the make up of a church. A family is also a system. It is a smaller and extremely vital sub-system in the larger church system.  When it is undermined by the larger Christian system that is supposed to support the smaller family system serious problems regarding the attitude and behavior of the larger system are observed. (This is similar to when the human body turns against itself with cancer and destroys smaller sub-systems in the human body which can potentially kill the whole human body; ex: brain cancer)
 
A church that is truly Christian does not exist for its members to support its hierarchs. It exists to support its members. That is what humble Christian service from hierarchs is about. They come under you and support you. They do not come over you from the top down and spiritually abuse you by undermining you or your family. They do not allow their members or other aspects of the system to treat you or your family in an undermining fashion. They fight systemic problems that harm or damage individuals and families. They stay in front of and on top of those things. They are not above accountability in these regards no matter who or how many support them or think otherwise about them. The hierarchs are not above such accountability. (Apostle1.com's Editorial Note: We have witnessed and seen the kind of negative activities by hierarchs in other jurisdictions and locations in other states, even here in New Mexico (at one time) and know that such does exist and it is wrong, spiritually and physically or materially... We defend and support the family and make no demands either on the clergy or the members of the congregation because it would go against the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ!  For it is that we too had been victims of such in recent times by those who are no longer ONE WITH US in spirit and truth!)
 
In a similar context to what we have already said about systems being benign, those systems that operate correctly are considered functional, healthy and safe for their members and/or families (In a spiritual and/or emotional context). Those that do not are considered dysfunctional, unhealthy and not safe, meaning that they are not operating as God would have them towards their members and/or families. Some people in a dysfunctional system and trapped in the bondage of spiritually abusing others and their families may go as far in this to say things like:
 
“Most all parents feel this way when their child becomes involved, we really do not understand why they would feel like this?”
 
“The parents of these children are just upset that their little Johnny or Mary joined this group and don’t call home or come home like they once did”
 
“These parents are just mad because they have lost control over their children and they are nothing but a bunch of clinging jealous basket cases”
 
When attitudes like this exist in a system, its hierarchy or its followers people are in a shaming way discounted, blamed and treated indifferently to their values. In fact, their legitimate values are deemed not legitimate so almost any attitude or practice can be justified. People are subtly or less than subtly made the problem for raising up issues that impact people in a less than Christian fashion. People trapped in this mind-set find it more important to protect their system than to see their system as it really is or has become. After all, it represents all that they believe in, so they could not be wrong in what they believe about it. They are too intelligent or right in their belief to be wrong about anything like that. Those they follow are justified in their attitudes and practices because of the traditions, history and teachings of the system. Usually, the traditions, history and teachings have been distorted in some fashion over time through a lack of accountability as to their true intent and motive. What was maybe in the beginning meant for good is now causing harm; but, to those who hold them true there can be no wrong in them.
 
Attitudes and practices of spiritual abuse in a system are very important matters that can have a whole range of serious ramifications and implications if left untreated throughout the entire system. (The resources and links page addresses this more thoroughly)
 
We would like to stress that not all hierarchal Christian systems are necessarily controlled by systemic spiritual abuse and can by varying degree be influenced and undermined by its bondage. In other words, in many such systems only certain aspects of the system and certain people in the system are like this whiles it might not be the case in other aspects or with other people in the system. The problem is that those who know what is wrong and do nothing about it in open truthful honesty that exposes the system for what it is or has become cause the system to stay systemically sick. They are complacent accessories to the systemic sickness who enable it.   
 
The most important driving force behind issues of spiritual abuse of power is those who hold the power in the system. Second to this are those who follow them and say nothing about what is going on in their midst and enable the problem as perhaps they have been indoctrinated not to speak up or out, or they have a wrong notion (concept) of what Christian submission is, or they fear repercussions, they are ignorant of the problem or they are simply indifferent and apathetic to the problem, etc. Yet, in many such systems there are people who understand the nature and attitude of spiritual abuse and who even stand up against such attitudes and practices and who work for reform. Many do so at great risk and with great sacrifice as they love God and His church more than they value what man can do to them as they stand firm in truth. (They work like anti-bodies against infection in the human body as a system and on a systemic level. Others are like a dose of chemotherapy that comes right at the systemic cancer and hit the disease hard right at its source. Both are usually spiritually abused in some fashion for doing so)
 
SPIRITUAL ABUSE AND THE ABILITY TO MOURN WITH OTHERS
 
There are no perfect people therefore there are no perfect systems. This is not about any group or church being perfect. It is about the hierarchy of any such system being honest and introspective enough before God and accountable to others (like the laity) without being self protective of their self interest, power, image, prestige, title or position to recognize any issues, problems or attitudes of spiritual abuse in the system and then dealing with them in an open and conclusive manner. It is both an inside-out and out-side-in practice of being vulnerable, transparent and honest as to the attitudes and practices of the system. Inside –out means that the system and the hierarchs are not afraid to see themselves and the system as they are internally and then outwardly admit that.  Out-side- in means that the system  and the hierarchy welcomes and encourages outside input as to what is going on in the system from the hierarchy down and from the laity or others up. Either way they embrace the truth and work for in the light constructive reform without compromise. The danger of not doing so or letting such issues go on for too long is that a little leaven has the potential to leaven the whole lump. Such systems and their hierarchs are really in most capacities unable to mourn with those who have been harmed and/or abused by the system…
 
The Bible tells us the following:
 

Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”

 

Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn”

 
Spiritual abuse has the dis-empowering ability to spiritually wound, intimidate and discourage you in a deep and personal way as it also keeps those who spiritually abuse you from identifying with your sense of loss and mourning. In dysfunctional Christian systems that are spiritually abusive the hierarchs and their followers who support the spiritually abusive attitudes and practices of the system are unable to fully mourn (grieve) with those who mourn (grieve) in regards to the spiritually abusive treatment they have received because of what the hierarchy of the system is trying to protect what takes precedence over all else. What takes precedence are THEM and the system that gives THEM power, prestige, position and title.
 
They cannot provide or offer unbiased comfort to those they spiritually abuse, or from those they enabled to abuse you, because they have a skewed position in how they view you, your issues with them and how you are to be properly treated by them. Speaking frankly, abusers who caused the abuse cannot not minister to those whom the abusers abused without further abusing those abused by them. They have a difficult time openly admitting it let alone being able to identify it within themselves or their system. Such abusers are incapable of dressing the wounds of the abused. If they cannot dress the wounds of those they abused they certainly cannot mourn with those they abused. This is why many hierarchs in such systems do nothing to treat the wounds of those abused by the system that they control. When shepherds abuse they are not operating like shepherds. They are operating like wolves in sheeps clothing. Difficult words of truth? Yes, they are difficult words of truth, but not difficult to understand and believe if you have been abused by someone operating like this. Usually, only those abused by an authoritarian top down hierachal system can relate or identify with what is being said here. Others who are enamoured with the system have a more difficult time with the truth of this reality. In fact, they can even take such truth as persecuting or disrespecting of them in some fashion. Yet, spiritual abuse is very disrespecting of those who have experienced it. Speaking of the truth of spiritual abuse is not pretty, but it is real.
 
In many cases the hierarchs see themselves as above reproach in such matters. In fact, for just bringing up the issue of spiritual abuse they may actually accuse you of being spiritually abusive towards them as they are not capable of doing this to you. They subtly make you the problem for saying that there is a problem or they simply no longer respond to you and ignore you because you are seen as a problem. That is the ultimate in self-righteousness when this happens, and it can happen.  
 
Only those hierarchs who in repentance can openly and with accuracy (no ambiguity) admit the wrong of spiritual abuse or your mistreatment can even begin to give you comfort in your grief recovery process of mourning your loss.  That takes spiritual courage and spiritual humility to admit that. The opposite of those things are fear and pride. Fear leads to self protection and pride leads to arrogance as both of those things together lead to spiritual abuse and the negation of grace and mercy towards you and/or your family.
 
 SPIRITUAL ABUSE, RULES AND GAME PLAYING  
 
In reality when you do not play by their rules when trying to deal with and communicate with a dysfunctional system you are you are at a disadvantage because you do not really know what the many of the rules are. This is because their rules in many regards are unspoken. The unspoken rules of a dysfunctional system are: don’t’ think, feel, talk or look. Which translated means don’t feel bad if we run over you, and don’t notice any problems with the hierarchy, and for sure don’t talk about them out loud and on purpose by bringing those issues to them front and center and in a way that would maybe force them to look at them selves. Sometimes such systems will only begin to deal with their issues when the fear of public expose’ is forced upon them. Even then they will not always be out in the open about it. They must protect all that they stand for in their own minds and in the minds of those who follow them. How they indoctrinate people into their way of thinking can be very subtle and sound and look good on the surface as those who follow them want to think the best about what they believe and who they are following. Waking up to what is really going on can be both shocking and traumatic and usually only happens when the system burns a person in some way that the burn cannot be denied. It is a most difficult wake up call for most people who are sincere in who and what they were taught to trust and believe in.
 
One of  most hypocritical aspects of this type of system is when you get honest with them regarding working with them to bring change to the system they don’t like it and even if they want change or see a need for some type of change. They want to play games with it based upon their rules and then if you do not play their game they infer or state that you are playing games with them in that. In other words they play a game with their own game by making you the problem for not playing their game by saying you are playing games. The bottom line is that they do not play the game on a level playing field with rules that you both can agree to upfront. Instead you are forced to tell them what the right and fair rules are or there is no level playing field. Sometimes they agree to the rules and then try to change or interpret the rules differently as the process of reform unfolds. If you hold strong with them regarding the ground rules you are then perceived by them as rigid and inflexible when you are really just being a person of integrity regarding what you both agreed upon upfront and in the beginning.  
 
Many times they just turn off to the notion of fair rules that keep things open and honest and accountable. After all, they hold all of the power so why should they be accountable or agreeing with you as to what needs to be done in a fashion that is not further undermining to those who need to see reform the most, the wounded and broken. They do not hold all of the power. What they hold is a façade of power. If they do not reform then things get worse for them and things do get worse if they do not treat others fairly or with integrity in the reform process. It is their system that is on the line and in the long run they have the most to loose. Yet, they play it like this is not the reality of the situation. They have arrogantly played it like this for so long that they actually still believe that they can in some way continue to play it like they always have. Nothing could be further from the truth. The more they do not play it in the light the more they set themselves up for further problems down the road which could have been dealt with in truth and integrity in the present. They lose big time over time.
 
The hierarchy continues to play it like this because they have really not come to their own conclusion through repentance that things need to change. At most, and usually only if they are forced to change, they desire superficial change that does not really disrupt their power and control, and keeps their image up. Deep below the surface change would mean that things might get messy as things come out that were hidden, kept secret or covered-up. Superficial change is only about the potential for change in behavior and does not get down to the root cause that drives the behavior. If you do not deal with root cause the behavior will grow back like a weed that only had its leaves pulled off leaving the root to grow back its leaves once again. The bottom line is that superficial change means that the hierarchy really has not hit bottom over its deeper core issues and problems. The hierarchy has not come to the end of themselves in it admitting their sin and powerlessness over their sin (Their loss of control over their sin). They, instead of in the light repentance before God, are still in control. They usually are in some way forced to make reform from serious consequences which is a wholly different motivation than repentance that wants to apologize, ask for forgiveness, make amends and retroactively apply reform to those the system has hurt.  
 
In reality this is not a game. It is emotional and spiritual life and death for some and that is not a game that God plays with peoples lives. He is into being upfront and real as to motives and intentions so that there is a clear understanding of where people stand and what people need through grace and truth.  God is into repentance not superficiality. It turns His crank when repentance happens because it brings healing and restoration to the wounded and broken that have abused and shamed by the system.
 
God is into repentance as the motivation; although He will use other more severe means to send the wake up call to the hierarchy and the system. The system spiritually abuses people by playing games with the reform process as it does not really want to get honest; and it defines honesty on it in terms and not terms that are dealing with the situation in a realistic or in the light fashion. Game playing is spiritually abusing in that it either tries to make people pawns to someone else’s end with no real regard for them or it treats adults disrespectfully by treating them like they are naive little kids, gullible imbecilic morons, or lesser than peons  who do not really understand how things are to be done. All are shaming. All are designed to benefit the system and not the needs of those who need mercy, grace and truth through integrity and an honest attempt to bring healing to the wounded and broken. All are about protecting the image of the system and it hierarchy.
 
Again, in most cases of this kind people are in many ways seen as idiots who cannot understand why they do what they do and decide what they decide. The subtle message sent is that you simply are not sophisticated enough to understand. In effect, they feel you don’t “get it” about their superiority (eminence) when the fact of the matter is they don’t “get it” about your ability to see right through them and their systemically sick rules and games. The arrogance of imminence blinds them like it did the Pharisee’s. The arrogance of imminence can be further seen when people are told only in part what is going on and it is framed in the best possible light when it is decimated to them.  In either case, not all is brought into the light so it can be clearly understood or seen. This is the epitome of arrogance when this takes place, and it does take place in some systems. 
 
SPIRITUAL ABUSE, THE MIND READING GAME AND THE FAULT FINDING GAME
 
Another sort of game a Hierarchy can play with someone is the ' Mind Reading Game'. In this game the hierarchy expects you to know how they communicate or how they are to be communicated too. That is, you are supposed to know how to read into what they say and then know how to respond to them. In this game the hierarchy is never really specifically clear as to what they mean intentionally. This is is because if they are clear then you might either gain an advantage or they might be to revealing as to their real motives and intentions. You cannot know their real motives and intentions,  you must always be "Mind Reading" what they are. If you mind read them wrong then they hold it against you. You are supposed to play this game with them so they do not have to openly admit their abuse of power or other sin committed. Its a just don't say what is really going on out loud or on purpose game. This is typical of any dysfunctional system. Don't state the obvious. Just pretend with us by playing our game.
 
Example:  if you communicate with them by letter and they respond back with the invitation for you to inturn reply they expect you to know how to reply. If you reply by letter and they expected a phone call they are off the hook to have keep communication up on their end because you are supposed  to be able to read their mind and know that. Of course, they did not tell you specifically how to communicate back to them. When you do not hear back from them they don't care because after all you are supposed to know how they work even though they don't tell you. You may have been corresponding by phone and then all of a sudden you were supposed to know to write the next time you communicate. The mind reading game is really just a mind game they are trying to play with you. The longer they can go between having to communicate with you the better because the system is designed to wear you out and make you want to give up on them, and just go away.
 
Some systems play pin ball with you bouncing you from one hierarch to the next with no results from any of them. They bounce you between people to get several answers from different people all of which are different. Many times they are simply passing the buck to others who then pass the buck to someone else. Again, this is just a mind game inherent to the system to get you to go away so no one has to be held responsible or accountable. It is a form of stone walling.
 
Again, when you do get communication from them you are to  interpret all they say the way they mean it, but they never really mean what they say or are clear in what they say. If you inquire to their communication with specific questions to their intentions or as to how they see things they take it as you not being cooperative because, after all, you are to trust them and they have, after all, proven themselves trustworthy to you. You rarely if ever do not get an unambiguous communication from them because that way they can control the meaning of things each time they talk to you; and, again then they do not have to be held responsible or accountable for specifics because if you keep things ambiguous then you can deny motive and intent when and if things start getting really specific as to what intent and motive really were. In their minds they have really not done anything wrong and the way they communicate with you proves it in their minds (yeah, right). You are the wrong one for inquiring of them as to what they mean or as to what their intent is. You offend them when you do this because they are so full of pride that anything that is not seeing them as they see themselves is considered an insult or an intimidation of some kind. (They are easily intimidated because they really want to be the ones who have all of the power) Anything is taken as an insinuation of their not having crediability if you ask honest, but fair, questions. So you walk on egg shells and in mine fields when you communicate with them never quite knowing if you are playing the game just right.
 
They seem to forget that trust is earned and not freely given. If you are in a state of being spiritually abused you are not trusting of them, yet they expect you to be trusting of them. They are so oblivious to their issues of abuse that they just don't seem to understand issues of trust by the victims of their abuse. In actuality they really do not want to know of how they have abused you to the degree and fashion that they have. To understand how their attitude and treatment of you has impacted your ability to trust them is just asking to much of them to fathom. To have to deeply understand that would mean they would have to loose power in humility and come to you with a different perspective of themselves and what spiritual abuse of power causes in regards to trust issues. It would cause them to have to face themselves and not turn away from the mirror that you put in their face. In their mirror they are the fairest of them all. In fact, you are not placing a mirror in front of them you are placing them under Magnetic Resource Imaging (MRI) that reveals what is going on in one or more aspects of the body of their system and in a ultra clear fashion. What is remarkedly clear and detailed picture to you seems all blurred and fuzzy to them as they filter all that they hear and see through their defense mechanisms and denial.
 
They must play the game like this so they can accuse you of being wrong in something because that gives them leverage over you in their minds. It is meant to trip you up. This is the 'Fault Finding Game'.  If you can be made wrong in something then they are not as deeply wrong in what they did to you or allowed to happen to you.  You either were wrong in the way you interpreted them, or spoke to them, or they took your communication as framing the context of how things are to be played. In other words, they don't like being told how things will come down because they are about control, unrepentance and image protection. It comes back down to them self protecting themselves through this little game that they play. Of course, your intent was not to frame anything. It was mearly seeking clarification. They cannot handle that because it is getting too close to the real issues of what is really going on with them, and they don't really want you to get that close in those regards. Anything that even remotely does that causes them to become pridefully defensive and then they start overtly or subtly accussing you of something that was not your intention at all. Its their booby trap. ( You expose a booby trap by standing back and showing everyone where it is; like everything else you expose the hierarchy hates this type of exposure) 
 
In other words, if  they know that they are flat wrong and will not admit it they must find something wrong with you or make something wrong with you so they can deflect their wrong and not have to owe up to it. They are trying to make you wrong in something so it will balance out their wrong and then they don't have to held responsible or accountable. It is their intent to hold it against you or over your head. They are tying to hold you to a standard that they do not hold for themselves. That is their great hypocrisy in this. They subtly try to make a problem they feel you have bigger than the problem that they have. Buy into that and you are being manipulated by them.
 
By making you wrong in some fashion it makes it possible for them to face themselves in the mirror each day without a sense of guilt. It makes it easier for them to lay their head on the pillow each night by not having to deal with their conscience or the conviction of sin. Yet, it was their much larger wrong that caused the whole problem to begin with. Of course, that is their real intent here in doing this. They don't want to have to admit their wrong because that is humbling to do so. So, something has to be found wrong in you so they don't have to see their wrong or deal with their wrong. It is pride on their part that drives this game.
 
The 'Mind Reading Game' and the ' Fault Finding Game' are not just about communication. Any  hierarchy that does not want to face its sin will try and find some fault or wrong in you or about you so they can deflect personal responsibility and accountability for their sin committed against you. They will play all kinds of mind reading or fault finding games with you. Understand that the mind game is the game they like playing best. They are masters at it. It is ingrained into them on both a conscious and sub-conscious level. Playing these types of games is automatic with them in a knee jerk kind of way.  
 
If a hierarchy that was truly owning of its sin that caused an abuse of power this would not take place. Instead, through humble broken repentance over their wrong this mind reading game and/or fault finding game would not be played. Such a hierarchy would be seeking you out to make amends, restitution and apologies for what they caused. They would be repentant and not prideful. Oh, they may say they have empathy for you in your grief or struggle; but, empathy is not the same as repentance. Really, they are just  playing the we feel kind of bad about it and we feel kind of sorry about it game. This is so you will not get tough or real with them as to the seriousness of the problems and issues. It is another deflection tactic. It is an easy one to see right through because it does not represent true repentance. Actually,  feeling kind of sorry and kind of bad can at times mean that they are really feeling kind of bad and sorry that they got caught. It is really just meager attempt to avoid really having to own up like real men of integrity, honesty and humilty would in the face of committing or allowing abuse of power to take place. At least that's what real Christian men do.
 
If the hierarchy were truly repentant there would be no prideful game playing that is meant to find fault in you so they do not have to see or deal with their sin. It is easier to play the mind reading game and/or the fault finding game than it is to own up and take personal responsiblity. It is easier to play the find fault in you game so they do have to recognize or deal with their fault that spiritually abused you or caused you some form of harm or grief. It is easier to play the mind reading game to keep you bewildered and/or confused than it is to shoot straight with you and be men of integrity. This is just another way that they make you the problem for recognizing their obvious problem. You are made the problem for having a fault that they manufacture so that they can avoid and escape responsibility and accountability for the problem they caused or enabled. It is all about their image protection.
 
When taken down to its root motviation they are trying to put a splinter in your eye so they do not have to see the log in their eye. When someone shoves a splinter in your eye they spiritually abuse you. It is not pretty and it is not nice, but that what spiritual abuse is at its core. It wounds the wounded without remorse or conviction of its sin. It treats you as some form of oppenent or enemy instead of reaching out to you with grace and mercy that leads to healing. The system intentionally puts you at odds with them so they can stay in control and not have to repent in humility and come to terms with their issues and problems. They put your woundedness and grief at odds with their pride, and then they futher spiritually abuse you in the process of that. In the end it is always pride that spiritually abuses the wounded and broken. This is because pride is about  self centered power and the protection against anything that threatens that power.  
 
When a spiritual authority tries to find fault in you so that authority does not have own up to its obvious wrong attitude or treatment of you, that authority is spiritually abusing you. When a spiritual authority does not communicate straight with you they are spiritually abusing you by compounding the confusion you already feel. Pride that refuses to repent of its spiritual abuse of power is spiritually abusing by not showing you grace or mercy through repentance that restores what has been broken to wholeness. It is compounding the abuse you have already suffered by their manufacturing a problem about you so they do not have to face their real issues and problem of abuse of power.
 
What is happening here is simple. They are guilt tripping you. When they try and find fault with something about you they are also trying to make you feel quilty about that to disimpower you. If it is not enough for them to have caused pain and grief in your life through abuse of power or imcompetent use of their authority they add the heavy load of a guilt trip on top of that. It is very subtle form of intimidation on their part. The intimidation comes from creating a power play around making you wrong through a guilt trip. It is designed to make you an ever more powerless victim and to keep you under their control or the situation at hand under their control. They simply, again, used their power to abuse you by making you the problem for saying their is a problem that they either deny having or refuse to admit even though they know it is true. This is just one more way a  systemically sick hierarchy and system deflects or avoids responsibility or accountability through spiritual abuse of power. When you confront this type of attitude and behavior that is when they really try their hardest to find fault with you. That is, this is when they try their hardest to make you the problem for saying their is a problem. It is a prideful defense mechanism found in a systemically dysfunctional system.  
 
 SPIRITUAL ABUSE AND TRUST
 
Our attitude and intent in bringing the issue of spiritual abuse up is so that you can be safe and free of any such attitudes or volitions of spiritual abuse, if this is what you feel you have received. All Christians wherever they worship and practice their faith are entitled to such safety. The issue of spiritual abuse is not an uncommon phenomenon in recognized legitimate Christian faith systems.  Jesus Christ was particularly sensitive and outspoken regarding this issue when He walked among us, and He still is; but, hierarchs seem to forget that. Once again, only you can decide for yourself if you have experienced or are experiencing spiritual abuse. We do not make that decision for you. We only want to provide you with information that can help you decide that one way or another. If you come to the conclusion that you have been spiritually abused you might want to consider the level of trust you give anyone who is treating you that way as they are operating with another agenda. 
 
Once trust has been broken it takes time, a repentant attitude and a track record of trust worthiness by the spiritually abusing person or system to have that trust restored. Trust is earned not freely given. If you are dealing with a person with skewed motives and who sees your situation as one where there was no coercion or undue influence placed upon an idealistic and impressionable  adult going through a difficult life transition which caused their will to be made susceptible to these practices know then who it is you really are dealing with no matter what help they offer you. If they write it off as an adult free decision of will and mind then you know that you are dealing with someone who is not understanding of your concerns and issues. Such people are double minded with mixed motives and intentions. You can choose to ask such people hard questions like, “Why should I trust you?” This is especially true if the previous track record of the group or people you are dealing with has not been at all supportive of you and then in some way becomes supportive of you. It is OK to hold their motives and intentions suspect and with skepticism when this happens. If they cannot answer you honestly and clearly as to their motives and intentions then you can come to your own conclusion as to their character and real attitude. Should they see you as being difficult when you ask hard questions you can choose by your sound mind and free will understand why they are seeing you that fashion.  If they cannot admit wrong or try to in some way to pacify you with gestures that do not resolve the issues then you may even come to the conclusion that you are being manipulated in some way to protect their image, power, prestige, position and titles from some kind of public exposure or face saving strategy among their followers. You might even come to believe that they are using you as a pawn as they themselves are pawns to their system. That is the nature of such systems. It is perfectly reasonable to want to know their true motives and intentions as you walk in light and truth. Anyone who is not willing to do that with you and by your own common sense determination you can conclude that they are not walking in the same light and truth that you are. You make that call for yourself. You are encouraged to conduct research into how such systems can possibly work in these regards.
 
SPIRITUAL ABUSE, GRIEF AND DENIAL
 
Once an individual begins to understand what spiritual abuse is that person begins to think, and in that thinking a person begins to question the nature and origin of its cause. In that questioning you then begin to look for the truth about spiritual abuse and what to do about it. You may even decide to conduct further research into the spiritual power behind it. Once you really understand the truth of spiritual abuse you are able to talk about it in a way that helps you process it as part of your grief recovery process. In other words “YOU GET IT” about spiritual abuse. You will also go through a spiritual abuse recovery process if you determine you have experienced it. Spiritual abuse will cause you to feel a greater sense of grief as it can cause you to feel a greater sense of despair in your grief. 
 
Spiritual abuse when added to the weight of what you are already feeling in regards to the emotional trauma around your particular situation has the ability to undermine you in many subtle ways. It can be one of the major causes of us not being able to understand, see or hear God clearly in the midst of very difficult circumstances and events around our lives. It can distort a person's image and concept of God and thereby dissociate God from a person's process of recovering from grief. Spiritual abuse has it basis found in shame and which has itself been explained on this web site in the section, “ It is OK to not look OK or not feel OK”. To be spiritually abused is to be shamed. That is you are made to feel like you are not important, are less than, are flawed because you disagree with them, not spiritually right with God as you are, disobedient to their view of your situation which others caused, not worthy of attention, too difficult to work with, etc., etc., etc. 
 
Not dealing with or admitting issues of spiritual abuse if they are legitimate to your situation can cause you to get stuck or remain stuck in your grief recovery process. Denial can also be about denial of spiritual abuse. Denial is not a river flowing through Egypt, but can be a river of unresolved spiritual abuse issues flowing through your life that hampers your recovery as it continues to hurt you in ways unrecognized by you. It is easy to get stuck in denial of spiritual abuse, as denial is a defense mechanism to facing the reality of what really has happened or is going on. Sometimes that can be so disturbing, so ugly and so harming it is just not easy to see what is for what it is and how it has really impacted you.  Denial gives a person a comfort zone to either sort the truth out or too shield a person from further pain in an already painful situation until such a person can handle more reality. It can also just be a misinformed belief in what the facts of the matter are and how deep the real issues run. In other cases it is denial of the emotionally brutal nature of spiritual abuse because to admit that would cause the denying person to reevaluate what and who they have believed in and why they have. This is because it is where a person places their significance, identity, purpose and worth.
 
HIERARCHS AND DENIAL OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE
 
In regards to hierarchs and denial of spiritual abuse it may be where a hierarch finds prestige, power, title, eminence, control and above all else, image that creates the denial of the reality of spiritual abuse of power. The longer a hierarch has been in such a system and more deeply such a person has been indoctrinated into it as being the way, the truth and the life the more unlikely they are able to see it for what is or has become; and, the harder it is for them to recognize themselves having been spiritually abused by the system. (For some of them it was the NORM) Most hierarchs themselves have been spiritually abused by the system that they have bought into and come up through; but, cannot recognize that they have or simply no longer care because of what the system is now giving them. Some were co-conspiritors of such abuses or to cover-ups to such abuses, and so do not want to be implicated by bringing things out. Some merely turn a blind eye to it so they do not have to deal with it and/or rock the boat. It might disrupt or threaten the secruity they get out of the system or it might cause them to be viewed as a troublemaker if they force an issue. It might interfere with other political ambitions they have or cause them to not get something they desire out of the system. In other words, many of them are simply "Yes" men and/or people pleasers. 
 
Others have a distorted concept of loyalty to the system placing it over people no matter what it does to people. The system comes first, and too bad for anyone else. At times others are codependent want-to-be's who gain some sort of recognition or place by protecting those in power by covering up for them or making excuses or justifications for their attitudes and behaviors (These are very sad people to observe) Some might have a hidden or closet sin that they do not want to come into public view if too much focus is put on them; or, they fear they may be blackmailed in some way if it is found out. After all, if you focus attention on a problem or issue you then focus attention on yourself. (Please, go ahead, use your imagination here, you just find out it is actually true) So, they do nothing to bring attention onto themselves. In any case all of these things can potentially enable the problem and/or keep it from thoroughly being dealt with.
 
Indifferent and apathetic denial are the worst forms of denial because they either have no moral or ethical conscience of  what is happening or they do not have the emotional or spiritual capacity to recognize and admit what is going on. That form of denial is the most irrational of all forms of denial. Yet, those who are of this mind-set see the reasons for their denial as totally rational. Scary. 
 
Victims of spiritual abuse, if they are hierarchs, many times become perpetrators to that same abuse. Any hierarch who can get real about those issues and face them with integrity is in need of grace, compassion and mercy. Such persons are also in need of a healing process of recovery. Coming to terms with the reality of being abused and/or being an abuser is not an easy process. It takes humility and a committment to rigiorous honesty in genuine repentance and through brokenness. For some this means taking a risk by owning ones sin and making amends and/or restitution for ones attitudes and behaviors. It means admitting the exact nature of ones wrongs. People who have been abused by hierarchs need those hierarchs to reach out to them with compassion and seek forgiveness. The spiritually abused  need to have restored to them what was made broken so they can find wholeness. This is how hierarchs deal with the spiritually undermining power of spiriutal abuse. It is how systems that are hierarchal come to terms with themselves and deal with systemic issues of spiritual abuse of power. To not face and deal with the obvious of such a problem is practicing the antithesis of ones calling as a Shepherd. When any hierarch practices this that person  makes worship and relationship to God through church unsafe for those they abuse. Systems are only as healthy and safe as those leading them. The system that anyone worships or comes into relationship to God through needs safe shepherds who do not operate like a part of something systemically harmful, and that wounds and abuses, and then wounds and abuses those it has abused and wounded. Jesus Christ was not about that. He was about drawing the wounded and broken into worship and relationship to God because He was safe. 
 
This is all very tough and real stuff to bring out. We take no pleasure in it. With increased understanding comes increased sorrow. You come to your own conclusions as you conduct your own independent research and as you come into experiencial understanding of what it is you are researching. If you are a hierarch in any type of Christian system and are reading this you are simply being asked to become informed and then you decide for yourself what is or is not going on. We have great empathy, concern and grace for any hierarch who knowingly or unkowningly practices spiritual abuse of power, and who is willing to come to terms with that reality in repentance. Such persons are in need of recovery if this be the case. If spiritual abuse of power be true of any hierarch who cannot come to terms with that such a person also has our empathy and concern because they cannot. They are in our prayers, as we pray that such persons can be touched by the hand of Gods grace and see the error of their way through repentance. May they experience the mercy of God in these matters.
 
THE OPPOSITE OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE   
 
As we have mentioned before on this website we at P.O.E.M. want to mirror back to you the exact opposite of what you may feel you have received and experienced. The mirroring back of the opposite from the POEM support network is care, concern, love, acceptance, encouragement and support for those who feel they have been emotionally and/or spiritually wounded by the Fr. Ephraim monasteries and by anyone in the Greek Orthodox Church hierarchy and laity who support Fr. Ephraim. You will receive and experience the direct opposite of that here at POEM.  We are not about the things that cause people to be spiritually abused. We offer our members and supporters something quite different than spiritual abuse. We offer grace and mercy back to each other through unconditional love and unconditional acceptance of one another. If you are in need of support and understanding of issues relating to spiritual abuse you are welcomed here with open arms of unconditional love and unconditional acceptance in your process of trying to understand and process spiritual abuse as part of your grief recovery process.
 
SPIRITUAL ABUSE - SHAME (Part II)

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    There are unscrupulous people on the internet these days.  Some of them are not who they claim to be and in order to disrupt honest spiritual pursuits, they are known to send out e-mail under someone else's name or the name of another church or jurisdiction with attachments.  Anyone can do this, if they want.  Some of them exist in Toledo, Ohio... Some in Texas... Others in Michigan, California and many other places... Some are "haters of truth" who follow (whether they are willing to admit it) those who have sway over less educated or ignorant... as their are also those who do not even know what they are doing because they seek glory to satisfy their own vanity and selfish pride to take over a church or jurisdiction of another, or to wreck havoc over those whom they hate without considering the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. 

 

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They HATE some of the news, quotes, and such as to inform the general public.  Some of them pose as clergy, while a few are actually clergy from various "other" offshoot AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH jurisdiction(s) of the same name of which we are, in some instances, their former MOTHER CHURCH (as is the same named Toledo, Ohio based an offshoot); having joined in and with  "Independent" churches who have nothing to do with us or even true Orthodoxy, but seek to go out of their way to character assassinate and disparage religious web sites who do not meet their own brand of standardization which is evidence of their being not truly "Orthodox" "Christian" or even "Catholic" no matter what their nomenclatured corporate name may be.  The Toldeo, Ohio based same name group under their so-called leader has been deposed, defrocked and excommunicated four different times by various bishops.  He, and several others, have become just as bad as the modern day Ecumenists of the National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, the World Council of Bishops and more.  Their ultimate aim and goal is destruction to those from whom they had either originated from or gone through to obtain the same named "church" they claim to hold to by civil law alone.

 

    Remember, anything that is a HALF TRUTH is not truth but a lie!  Many there are that you may know who fit those descriptions... pray for them.  Pray that God will send his Spirit of Truth upon them and lead them to Salvation through tears of Repentance, conversion of their cold and calculating hearts toward seeking forgiveness from God and those whom they attempt to harm. 

 

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    We have learned that the organization we subscribe to, whose members come from various legal and law enforcement backgrounds amongst other areas of society, are committed to the faith even though they may hold different theologies.  Yet, in their monitoring of electronic communications of various persons or people, they do not always make haste to bring perpetrators to justice until after enough evidence has been gained in order to build a solid case.  We do not always know what information they have gained, but we do know the organization, whom we've been asked not to name, has had a 97% success rate in bringing to justice and obtaining a conviction against individuals, people, and sometimes even religious organizations of a persona that gives the appearance of both secular and religious bearing but who abuse and misuse technology.  The organization views those who abuse and misuse the internet and other technologies as nothing more than a form of "domestic terrorism" - - - - and, it would seem to appear that the courts are in agreement!

 

 Those kinds of people, organizations, etc. who misuse and abuse communication technologies are no different than those who attempt to use coercive measures, and in some instance, even blackmail for the same idea is involved... to cause havoc and wreckage, to destroy the spirit and activity of those who struggle in the faith out of pain of heart for the Orthodox Church which is TRUTH. The degree that some have been known to go to, as seen by other jurisdictions, is to take advantage of questionably mentally challenged or those who have a lack of education and understanding to get them to make statements, even outright lies, in writing, in order to destroy.  Such persons or groups are spiritual terrorists for unholy and un-Orthodox causes, aims and goals.

 

    Yes, our Metropolitan Archbishop, +Joseph Thaddeus, SSJt., Ph.D. strongly defends the Seals of the Confessional for such leads to true Repentance in thought, word and deed whereby the penitent is required to make amends, where possible, to seek forgiveness of those harmed by his actions whether real or imagined, and to give his forgiveness to those who have harmed him before taking the Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist.  The reality of this understanding is bound up in and with the findings for which cause he, himself, had been character assassinated by his detractors who claim the courts prevented him from breaking the Seals of the Confessional which is not the truth at all.... Click here to see what another bishop's findings are...

 

    The workings of Holy Spirit will not be daunted by those who attempt to cause disruption!  It is for these and other reasons that you are urged to read what true repentance and forgiveness means for real "Christians".

 

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