I Hate Church Bullies

This is a guest post by Sam Riviera. He spends most of his time and energy caring for others in his community so that through his life and actions they might see Jesus. He has also written “14 Reasons I Never Returned to the Institutional Church.

If you would like to write a guest post for this blog, check out the guidelines here.

church bulliesWhen I was in first grade I told my mother that one of the boys in my class was picking on me. Much to my surprise, my mother taught me how to protect myself. She taught me how to hold one arm in front of me to ward off blows while holding a balled-up fist behind it ready to throw a good punch if someone decided to punch me first.

Only many years later did I learn that no one dared pick on my mother when she was a kid. After mother taught me how to protect myself, no one dared pick on me.

If only it were that easy to respond to church bullies! A few well-placed punches and all the church bullies would stop bullying us for fear of suddenly acquiring a flattened nose.

How do we identify a church bully? Why do they bully? How can we best respond to them? (Even though they might deserve a flattened nose, I don’t advocate that response.)

How Do We Identify A Church Bully?

Church bullies usually give themselves away by what they say. Often, they might say things like this:

“A Christian would be at Wednesday night prayer service.” (I worked evenings.)

“A Christian would go to that Sunday school class.” (It was horrible. I’d have preferred going to the town dump to shoot rats.)

Then there was the fellow who literally tried to physically drag me to an alter to “get saved”. When I protested that I didn’t need to get saved a second time, he pointed out that I had missed church the past two Sundays, proving I wasn’t a Christian. (We were out of state, which he would have known if he had bothered to ask.)

“All Christians will vote for ________.”

“The Bible (or God) says _______” (Followed by the speaker’s opinions. My friend Kathy Escobar calls this the “Bible card” and the “God card”.)

“The Lord told me to tell you_____” (Clearly implying that God talks to them, but not to me.)

There are many additional “color of authority” situations, where the person, under the “color” of their position in the church (be it pastor, elder, staff member, Bible study teacher, the “I’ve been a Christian for X years” people, the “I’ve studied the Bible for X years and know what it says” people, or whatever), attempts to impose their opinions and wishes on those over whom they somehow attempt to assume “authority” and control.

bully

Why Do They Bully?

Church bullies behave as they do for a variety of reasons. I’ll mention a few reasons I’ve seen and in the comments section perhaps you can mention reasons you’ve seen.

First, church bullies are often people who love to be in charge. They like controlling people. They imagine themselves to be great leaders who are in a unique position to tell others how to live and what to do.

Second, church bullies almost always like feeling important and knowledgeable, be it about how the church should be run, what God and the Bible say, and how other people should think, live and vote.

Third, many church bullies are very insecure. Bullying other people seems to “prove” to them that they really are smart, buddies with God, and very knowledgeable about how most things should be done and how life should be lived.

In this third category I include those whose personal lives are out of control. In real life, their marriage is in a shambles, they’re having an affair, addicted to pornography, stealing from their employer and so on. Of course they believe that their situation is a “one-of-a-kind” exception to the rules they try to apply to everyone else. If they can’t control their own lives, at least they can control the lives of others. (We often discover their underlying issues many years later.)

Fourth, occasionally we encounter church bullies who are actually mean, evil people, pretending to be otherwise because they’ve found a place (church) where they can get away with their need to bully other people.

All of these bullies, however, choose churches as places to ply their trade because they’ve discovered that many churches allow them to bully. Those churches seem to believe (often they’re convinced by those who bully), that they should tolerate the bullying because that is “the Christian thing to do,” “their Christian duty.”

Attach a Christian-sounding description to the bully’s behavior (admonishing, instruction, correction and so on), and a Christian title to the bully (pastor, teacher, elder, deacon, “our beloved brother in Christ” or whatever) and suddenly they can almost do no wrong.

How Can We Respond to a Church Bully?

The method that most often works in my experience: Ignore church bullies. Most of them will eventually give up trying to bully us and move on to those who allow themselves to be bullied.

Bully PosterIf the bully will not give up, confront them. Clearly tell them that their behavior (describe it briefly) is unacceptable and we will not tolerate that behavior. Explain what we will do if they do not stop the behavior immediately. That might include talking to the pastor or other leadership. If the pastor or other leadership is the bully, it may include talking to their peers in leadership.

Confronting church bullies can be terrifying for some of us. If the bully has done his job well, those being bullied will have been taught that confronting the bully is akin to punching God in the nose: God’s going to get really mad if you punch him, and if you confront a church bully.

There are situations where the bully has solidified his support among those he bullies. He has convinced them that he is always right. Anyone who opposes him is opposing God and the Bible (a sure mark of a church bully). In those situations, the best plan of action may be to leave the group.

I have heard the advice that one should always tell the church their reasons for leaving. In many situations that is good advice. However, in those cases where we have seen the church bully (bullies) continue to bully from afar those who have left (spreading false rumors about them and why they left), we would be wise to give no explanation. Even if we give no explanation, we should not be surprised if the bully invents an explanation and gives the church that explanation.

Really, I don’t hate the person who is a bully. I hate their behavior, not only when it is directed at me, but also and especially when it is directed at others. Similarly, I hate the behavior of those, including churches, who allow the bully to ply his trade. Shame on bullies and their supporters for driving people away from churches and away from the Kingdom!

This is not a comprehensive list. In the comments please tell us about successful ways in which you have dealt with a church bully.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of this topic. This post is not the last word, but hopefully will begin a conversation. Where, when, or how have you seen church bullies in your life, and what did you do about them, if anything? 


Comments

  1. Amy says

    I left a church because the pastor was a bully and had taught the rest of the leadership to bully as well. But my dad & grandmother are church bullies; you don’t attend the same style of worship service, study the same Bible translation, and believe to the letter exactly what they believe then they feel the need to “correct” and “instruct”. I have tried to talk openly with them, it felt more like beating my head on a brick wall. Now I just ignore it or change the subject because I have learned it is not worth the headache to argue.

    • Sam says

      Most bullies have figured out the best places to ply their trade and who will allow them to get away with it. Churches are often a good place to bully because “good” Christians are supposed to be open to being “taught” and “corrected”, which to a bully means they have the right to make others think and do as the bully directs. Sound familiar?

  2. ses1978 says

    I have been and am being bullied by church leadership just because I have autism. It is a PCA that claims to believe in church discipline but refuses to do church discipline with me? Which must mean they are wrong to treat me in such manner because if I haven’t done anything to bring about church discipline, yet they treat me like I’ve been brought all the way through the process, then they are wrong. Actually they are wrong because the missions pastor acknowledged that they are but when I asked for outside help they retaliated against him and threatened to fire him just for being my friend and now he threw me under the bus and threw our friendship away too. Of course, I got smart. I’m getting an attorney to fight them now. They were wrong and there are contracts involved. They breached the contracts.

    • Sam says

      I don’t know much about PCA, which I assume is Presbyterian Church of America, but is it possible to appeal to the presbytery or general assembly?

      If this cannot be resolved at either the local level or a higher level within the denomination, you may be happiest if you leave the group and find another group that does not engage in this kind of behavior. What is your goal? – To make them stop bullying you and accept you or to punish them for their behavior?

      • ses1978 says

        I have tried appealing at both higher levels, but every time I appeal, they retaliate.

        What I want is twofold:

        I want to do II Corinthians 13:11 with both the “friend” and the church. Not so much for me but for those who come after me.

        • says

          I am not sure what the situation might be, but at some point, it might simply be time to shrug your shoulders and move on. Some arguments and debates are just not worth the stress and sleepless nights.

          • ses1978 says

            That sounds so simple but then there are non church relationships they have destroyed by spreading lies about me.

        • Sam says

          It’s difficult to advise from afar, not knowing the complete situation. Is it possible to seek counsel from a wise, experienced Jesus follower, perhaps a pastor or counselor who has no connections with your church or denomination?

          Even if you believe someone is spreading lies about you, would it not be in your best interest to remove yourself from their focus by removing yourself from their presence?

          • ses1978 says

            How?
            They spread lies to people not even affiliated with their church.

            Short of moving across the country, the repercussions of their actions are always there.

          • says

            This sounds extremely painful and hurtful. I wish I had better counsel. It really doesn’t sound like there is much you can do. How long has this been going on?

          • ses1978 says

            The bullying and retaliation since 2011; the lies about me since 2012; this most recent situation happened after one incident in four weeks time. After talking with one pastor in Colorado, he said that their leadership is corrupt and that I haven’t gotten the justice I deserve from them.

          • Sam says

            Is it possible for you to move far away and tell no one where you currently live where you will be going? Other than moving, you seem to have exhausted your options, and even if Jeremy or I were local I’m not sure we could resolve your situation. Remember: Bullies are bullies even if you did meet them at church. Gossip is especially difficult to make go away.

      • hardlesson says

        I have been in church most of my life and watched cliques in church and the heirachy of queen bees and the like. For 2 years I was isolated and bullied by a payer group. The problem is who is going to believe you. You are out numbered. Not only that the bully has leadership and influence. I am not a weak person pretty outspoken, they used that against me. When I tired to confront what was going on they claimed I misunderstood. I lost my church family and my reputation. I was so wounded. I felt like I was almost slipping into depression. At times I thought I was crazy. Why because I confronted the bully and fought back. In the end I went to a counsellor. I left the group and moved, cut my losses. It was a very hefty price to pay. I really don’t see how you can handle a bully right. I got my but kicked!

        • Sam says

          Church abuse can be so painful! I’m sorry for what happened to you.

          I’m not an expert, but I have observed that bullies usually know how to pick their victims. They also like to find an environment where they will not be challenged when they victimize others. Some churches allow them to ply their trade, unwilling to acknowledge what is really happening.

          People who have no support system around them make the best targets. Church bullies often like to present themselves as hyper religious, knowledgeable in Scripture and theology, which they use against other people. Their motivation for being bullies may be uncertain, but I have noticed that they seem to think it proves to them and others how powerful and spiritual they are.

          If you can not succeed in standing up to them and no one will support you, you need to remove yourself from that situation immediately. Unfortunately they will most likely find another victim as soon as possible.

        • says

          Sad to say, but if the bully has power (as they usually do), there is not much that the person can do. Usually church bullies use “God” to back up their decisions and actions, so when you challenge the bully, you are accused of challenging God. It can get very messy and destructive. I think that you probably did about the only thing you can do… which is to leave the abusive situation.

  3. Ashley MomofFive says

    My son is being bullied at our church. He’s 9 and it’s appalling. He has plenty of friends at school, none at church. How pathetic for him to be bullied in a place where he is suppose to learn of God. I confronted the “bullies” today. Let them know exactly how I felt about the way they were treating another child at church. We’ll see how it goes from now in. The boys looked like they were taking me dang seriously.

    • Aximili says

      Bad idea. I know from my own experience, having your parents talk to your bullies will only make it worse, often a lot worse. Talking to the bullies parents might not do much better, because most of the time kids who are bullies have parents who are either bullies themselves, or just don’t care that much about their kid.
      The only thing that reliably works is teaching your son to stand up for himself. If it’s verbal abuse, he needs to smack them with witty comebacks. If it’s physical abuse, he needs to beat one of them up, badly. Something like a broken nose will usually do the trick.
      This may seem harsh, but there’s just no other way around this. You could leave the church, but that wouldn’t take care of the bigger issue, that your son doesn’t know how to stand up for himself.

      • Sam says

        Sadly, I’ve also noticed that even at church most bullies learned their craft, as they say, “at their mothers knee”, meaning that they watched their parents bully others.

        My mom taught me to stand up for myself and I was not bullied. My mom was bullied as a kid, but learned to defend herself physically. Not even the boys dared pick on her or her brothers because they were afraid of mother. In reality she only pounded two boys when they punched one of her brothers. (There was lots of crying and some blood – theirs, not mother’s.) She immediately had a reputation and no one ever messed with her or her brothers again.

        Hopefully this can be resolved peacefully. Maybe defending yourself physically works if you’re a child, but I wouldn’t try punching out the church bullies to adults. You’d probably end up in jail.

  4. Loved by God says

    I’ve struggled for close to 20 years with being bullied in the (christian) church. And both situations are with pastors that seem to enjoy doing it in such a way that it is not overly obvious to others, only to me. Let me make it clear, I was not bullied or abused by my dad or by my
    sweet husband of 30 plus years, so this is not a matter of me imagining this because of anything
    I’ve suffered in the past. I stayed in the first church for 18 years, and for the last 16 of those years I was repeately berated and publicly pointed out by this
    Assemblies of God pastor. Even though he did it publicly, the people there are so enamored by his personality, that they don’t believe him capable of this, unless of course it happened to them. (There were a couple of people I knew about) They have the attitude that if he said it , it must be true, so that caused them to look down on me and judge me when they don’t even know me. I was not guilty of these charges, yet there is almost no way to defend yourself if someone says something untrue about you. If you say nothing, they think you are guilty. If you say something, they say you are overly defensive. I know I am not perfect, but neither is anyone else in the church. Including the pastor. First of all, any christian leader that can bully someone in their congregation is mean and underhanded. I was not a troublemaker in any way. I met with the pastor a couple of times to see if I had done something to offend him. He said no and that things were well between us. Yet two weeks later he publicly blasted me again. That was the final straw. After prayer, the Lord told me to “wipe the dust off my feet” and get out of there. God was trying to protect me, yet I heard later that remarks were made that I was backslidden and away from God. People of God have a way of trying to fit everything into a “perfect little box”, when the real story may be different from what they believe to have happened. After many months, I found another church that looked promising. I thought a new start would be good and I volunteered to work around the church free of charge. I am not looking for titles, or promotions, or a name in the church. I just wanted to serve and help people. I love people and had started making a couple of friends and was so excited to be in the house of God. Only two months later, the pastor pointed me out of the entire congregation and accused me publicly, as I sat there dumbfounded and shocked. I could not believe it was happening again.
    Now something tells me the first pastor or someone else from the first church got to him and said something. I am being sabataged. God has spoken to me that He sees what is going on and He has a plan to rescue me from this. Meanwhile, I am in a very small church that meets only twice a month. It is not enough, I’d rather meet every week, but for now this is where I am. Sorry this is so long, but I can’t carry this alone and I need others to be praying for me, please. I now understand that some, (not all), pastors and leaders look for some in the congregation that will be easy prey for their insecurities. I must have that “look”. However, a REAL shepherd would look for the hurting, the lonely, or the “different”, and would do all they could to make them feel even MORE welcome. Unfortunately, some of us end up on their chopping blocks. We have too much respect for those in authority, especially spiritual authority, to speak up, and somehow they know it. Another note: Since this started happening I have met people that have suffered this same type of treatment; they have always brought up the subject without even knowing my situation. I beleive God will use me to help people that have gone through this kind of treatment and let them know that even though Gods people have rejected them, He never will.

    • Sam says

      Even though I don’t know you or any of the people in these churches, I
      say “I am sorry” that you have been treated this way by anyone in the
      church. People who bully you have no spiritual authority over you. If talking to
      them doesn’t work, you need to remove yourself from their presence.

      Even
      though many pastors are not this way, it can and does happen. Church
      abuse is not uncommon. You might want to check out Kathy Escobar (Google her name) and her “Walking Wounded” seminars. You don’t have to travel to Colorado to participate.

      We will join in praying with you that the bullying stops and that you find a good alternative to your current situation.

    • says

      I agree with Sam, and want to say that I am sorry this happened to you. It should not have happened.

      You are absolutely right about what a real shepherd would do. I think that God will use this experience in your life to help others who have gone through similar pain. Don’t get bitter about what happened, but seek to come along side others in similar situations.

  5. Chaver says

    Hello Everyone,

    About a year ago I moved to Nevada and encountered my first church bully, which was the Pastor. It was at a place called The Potter’s House Christian Fellowship Church. Initially, the “Pastor” appeared nice. He offered to give me car rides to services. He bought me dinner. He told me that God had sent me to them.

    I let him have my phone number specifically to let me know the date and time of an upcoming church event. From that point on I began to be text messaged before each service about whether or not I would be attending. If my answer wasn’t a definite “yes” he would want to know why. Any personal or family responsibilities I may have had that day didn’t matter to the “Pastor”. I was told “You need to be here” in a rude condescending tone.

    He would also tell me strange baseless things were wrong with me if I couldn’t attend every service, such as my life is based on feelings not truth
    or that I think everyone is against me and he could help me. When I finally told him he’s being pushy and the things he says about me aren’t true, he seemed to have a psychotic break and began calling me repeatedly, several times in just minutes (as my phone records show). He called me names. Everything I told him in confidence as a Pastor, such as my family problems or difficulty finding a job was suddenly being used to insult me through text messages.

    Since this “Pastor” had no real training to a be a Pastor and his “church” was only a space he rented and called a church, he had no one to answer to. I stopped attending and emailed other Potter’s Houses in the state about what happened, expecting some sort of outrage at what this “Pastor” had done. I got only one response from a Pastor that wanted me to email him the text messages. I never heard anything else from him after I did. Through the internet, I’ve come to find that others have experienced cult-like or abusive practices at “Christian Fellowship Ministries” or Potter’s House churches associated with Wayman Mitchell.

    I made a short youtube video describing this experience, which also includes photos of the text messages at-

    http://youtu.be/O5_5Zow_6lk

    It’s my hope that people would see the video and beware of this particular church or that the “Pastor” knowing that people know what he’s really like would change his behavior. He hasn’t changed. He continues to send me hateful or manipulative messages using different names. In one message he actually forgot to change his name on the email, so while it says it’s from him, he claims to be someone else. Pretending to be this other person, he calls me a liar, twists the truth and scripture and implies that because I told people about his behavior I’m not being forgiving. Forgiveness does not mean going along with a spiritual abuser’s agenda.

    • Sam says

      You will be better off finding another church and ignoring this fellow. If this is the way he treats people, he will probably not last long as a pastor. There are hundreds of thousands of churches and pastors, and you can surely do better.

    • says

      I agree with Sam. Leave this guy behind. Go find another fellowship, or start gathering with some friends and neighbors. Of course, whatever you do, remember what you have learned here, and make sure that if you are ever put in a position of spiritual leadership yourself, that you never manipulate others or use guilt to get them to do what you think they should.

  6. colinjordan says

    Thanks for setting out this topic, I know how difficult it can be to pin down. In my case I was caught ‘sinning’ and thereafter treated with derision. No actual words were exchanged, as it happens, but the changes in behaviour towards me were obvious and permanent until I left. This wasn’t the only reason for leaving my former church however, but I won’t bore you with all that. Anyway, trying to communicate this, and the other issues, to my then pastor was also fraught with problems as he seemed too preoccupied with how my leaving was making him feel than with the years of rejection I described which led to me leaving, I say leaving but I only moved to a church up the road (I had been in the first church for over 20 years but couldn’t bear it any longer, which was a sad outcome). Now attending an Anglican church and re focusing on the purposes of attending church with my wife and children.

    • Puddleduck says

      Great topic. I am feeling that I must leave yet another church for the same old reasons. I am female and I don’t ‘put my head down and keep my mouth shut’ yet I do not raise issues or initiate discussions or write letters or badger the minister. In fact, I have been ‘accused’ of being an intovert :) and this seems to be the basis for the discontent and disappointment expressed to me. Strange that when I am asked for an opinion, I quietly give an honest response and it is not always what they want to hear apparently. Thus, the bullying takes the place of shunning and suggestions that I read books about how introverts can become more like the agreeable voices of consent around me. The pastor can barely serve me communion without making a speech to me. How underhanded can you be? Rejecting someone at the communion table. I don’t know what the answer is but I do not think I will ever enter a church again without wearing sunglasses and giving a false name :)

      • Sam says

        Might a church that believes in and practices diversity in religious opinion, as well as “Biblical equality” of men and women work better for you?

    • Sam says

      It seems that often the best recourse for those who are bullied is to leave the group. Isn’t it sad that there is usually no other way to effectively deal with the bullying? From time to time I hear someone lamenting that churches just are not willing to confront anyone’s sin anymore. I find that is usually not true. They’re willing to confront certain issues, but not others, such as the leadership bullying certain people.

      My wife and I saw this same dynamic play out a number of years ago in several social clubs we were part of. The thinking seemed to be “good riddance” when a bullied person left, because there will always be someone to take their place. Eventually, there were no people to take their place, and the groups were in danger of extinction. Remarkably, most of the bullies left, probably because they had no one left to bully. The handful that stayed stopped their bullying ways. Actually, they were/are not well accepted by the rest of the group. In a sense, the “tables were turned” on them.

    • says

      Great discussion here, everyone. I sometimes feel that churches make sin a much bigger deal than God does. Sure, God takes sin seriously… that is why He sent His Son… BUT He sent His Son! That means the sin issue is done away with for God. This isn’t freedom to sin, but freedom NOT to sin.

      Anyway, it is too bad when churches kick people out because they committed some sin. When we are ensnared by sin, it is then that we need good Christian community most.

  7. says

    Great article. Right now, I often go to a church where I think I am friends with a woman who may be a bit of a bully. It’s not to the point where she comes out and say something like, “a Christian should be at Wednesday night service,” or any of the other examples you mentioned. However, it seems to me that she tends to talk about people she’s not so fond of behind their backs. For example, I told her about this lady that constantly hugs me whenever she sees me. She then said something along the lines of, “You mean the crazy one?” Then, there was another time when another church friend of mine was talking to this guy who’s kind of shy. She then said something like, “there’s a rumor about why this guy constantly talks to girls.” Of course the lady said she didn’t appreciate that rumor. Lord knows what she says to some of her closest church friends about me when I’m not around. I hate to fathom. I never confronted her on this because I’m afraid of what she might say to me. It might also tear a wedge in our “friendship” if I go about it the wrong way. I know that what she and maybe a few others are doing isn’t right. I’ve only been there for nearly two years now. I seriously don’t know how to break this to her.

    Of course, I realized that I’ve been a little too trusting with people. So, if she does talk about me behind my back, then it’s partially my fault. Now I’m learning to be more discreet about my life with others. That way the most people like her would say was that I’m quiet.

    • Sam says

      Might she be a bit of a bully and a lot more of a gossip? Is it possible she’s starved for attention, and her comments get attention? I know a few gossips. They seem to be masters at taking a normal conversation and slipping in “information” about someone, which is really gossip. I try to change the subject and if that doesn’t work I walk away.

    • says

      I agree with Sam. It sounds like she may be a bit of a gossip also. Be careful about what you tell her. It is likely whatever you tell her in confidence will not stay between the two of you.

  8. Buster says

    I think there are “bully theologies” (think Calvinism) that create individual bullies by default. It’s a subtle form of intellectual bullyism that essentially states since you can’t explain everything as good as their theology can, you’re wrong. Backed by church history and significant commentary, it can make Christians who disagree question the validity of their faith and understanding of the Bible. Especially if one finds themselves entirely on the opposite end of the spectrum on certain points.

    • lisa says

      You are right about the intellectual bullying of Calvinism. I have seen quite a lot of it. Also there are still remnants of the shepherding movement, which is nothing nut bullying, control and abuse. I just had to dump a friend because she just could not stop bible bullying me. After some separation from her I realized that she still has that shepherding mentality from her past and is still trying to create it in her life — with herself as the cult leader now. Bullying (power over rather than equality or win-win) is all some people snd even

      • Sam says

        That is an interesting idea “Bible bullying”. Yes, I have known some of those people. The Bible is the club they use to beat the rest of us over the head with what they think it says, with what they think the Bible says we must think and do. Funny thing is, those same people rarely follow their own advice or the things Jesus clearly and plainly says, such as loving others.

  9. Mel says

    There is also a type of organized bullying called gangstaking in which the police and firemen and many other are in on the bullying. Also clerks in city hall and social services, even landlords, neighbors, etc and doctors and nurses all do it. They seem to single out certain people to bully. They do it to whole families, all through many generations.

  10. Tim says

    I have a particularly nasty case going on at the moment. There’s this person who is younger than me, but he has a monster ego. He is a possible church psychopath. Anyway what happened was this. I became good friends with him it seemed. In actual fact he was hovering me up with flattery and false trust. Then things got nasty. He would abuse me and do some really cruel and horrible things to me. At the same time he was telling everyone else that he had just become a Christian. But he never told me. So on the outside he was this really godly person. He got baptised, and has started organising lots of prayer meetings and praise sessions and so on. But on the real side, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, truly coldblooded and merciless. Extremely selfish. Several things happened. I nearly lost my life. I was nearly destroyed spiritually. Now I have broken off with him I have lost some friends, who seem to have turned on me, and I have come under massive attack. I stay at the same church currently though, as I can’t really go anywhere else. Thankfully it is fairly large, and I have a small number of very good solid, faithful friends there now. But I want to get out before the person gets into leadership. I was vulnerable to this sort of person, because I was lonely and isolated already due to mental illness, bad experiences when I was young, and so on.

    • says

      Tim, I am so sorry these things were happening to you. It sounds like your experience was quite painful, but I think you did the right thing. It is never healthy to stay around abusive people, especially those who are spiritually abusive.

    • Sam says

      I agree with Jeremy, Tim. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from an abusive relationship and avoid the person as best we can.

  11. Katie says

    You know, I have been ‘bullied’ multiple times myself, both in a large church and in a small house church. I guess my response might be different than some of those I have read in the earlier replies, but we all have our own unique situations we deal with, in the best way we know how.
    In each scenario, when I have been bullied, I tried hard to pull in my emotions and let Christ be my defender. I’m sorry now that I don’t remember where it is found in the bible, but during these times where I had experienced the most hardship with relationships and bullying, a particular scripture kept coming up in my heart about letting Christ be my defender. That somehow, if I tried to defend myself, it would only get worse.
    With my first issue, my husband and I had close friends who were having marriage problems. The husband came to me saying that as his wife’s best friend, could I please talk to her. So trying to be supportive, I did. She got so furious and blamed me for being too close with her husband and prying into her marriage. She then spread throughout the women in the church that I had an affair with her husband. Her husband didn’t speak a word to defend me or the situation because he was afraid of losing his wife. Taking the stand that Christ was my defender, did actually, over time, cause me to still continue to have relationships with others in the church. (It was still awkward for me, though)
    The second instance was bullying that come from our pastors. I am still in shock that pastors would do this to someone. We eventually left that particular church group, not entirely because of the pastors or the problems, but also because our general beliefs and desires for how the ‘church’ meets, began to change.
    The third instance was in a home church, where a very unstable woman acted outrageously towards my husband on a regular basis, and made up her mind that my husband was just about as bad as the devil himself. This particular woman has had a steady track record of breaking relationships with people and even close family. We left this home church and again took the stand, Christ will defend us. We will not sit there and try to tell everyone that it is all this woman’s fault or put blame on someone. We will just quietly bow out. When we left initially, all members of the group wrote us off. However, one year later, one of the families we were particularly close with called us and apologized for defending the wrong family, and proceeded to tell us that after we left that woman continued spiraling out of control and the families all went their separate ways. I believe in this case, letting Christ be our defenders allowed for that open door for this kind family call us and talk through things and begin a new relationship.
    So that has been our motto lately. Letting Christ defend us.
    There will be many cases where you must walk away, or speak up. Each case is so unique and different. For me personally though, I have found that quiet little mouse attitude works best. “A soft answer turns away wrath”
    Those are just my experiences. The church bullying REALLY makes me angry.

  12. Sam says

    It’s really sad when the group allows bullies to bully, especially when the bullies are pastors and other leaders. Not only are their victims damaged, but the group. is also damaged. In my opinion, making the church the center of one’s social life, and the source of most of one’s friends is a mistake. When bullies know this about us, they know we’ll put up with their bullying because we don’t want to lose our social group and friends. When they try to throw in the idea that we might also lose our religion and they think they’ve got us trapped.

    I hate bullies, but they also don’t like me because I either stand up to them or remove myself from their power. Bullies really hate it when their bullying doesn’t work.

    • says

      Yes, bullies don’t like it when they cannot bully. When you stand up to them, they either slink off to find someone they can bully, or they become violent and vindictive.

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