The church

The church that is the subject of this website is the result of a church split started by Merie Weiss, who was "withdrawn from" or "cast out" of the mainline Churches of Christ in the San Diego area back in approximately 1964, purportedly for "heresy." She proceeded to make converts to her own sect.

Very few churches that have "Church of Christ" on the door are affiliated with what I call the "Stanton Church of Christ." While many a mainline Church of Christ still struggles with legalism, I do not want to paint them all with this same brush. This site is written purely about the small network of churches started by Merie Weiss in Spring Valley, California that largely exists off the radar of mainline Churches of Christ. The congregation in Stanton, California was a "church plant" by my parents at the instruction of Merie. It still exists today (although I hear they meet in Westminster, California now), but my reference to the "Stanton Churches of Christ" is used broadly to include all 30 or so affiliated churches.

So how do you know if you or a family member are part of this particular group? Here are some identifying characteristics:
  • They don't generally advertise, purchase buildings or put up conspicuous signs. A small handful of congregations (one or two, perhaps) own their own building, but this is rare.
  • They don't invite the public to their Sunday "worship services" because that is considered "for the saints."
  • The way they recruit is through an organized campaign of knocking on doors (what they call "The Work" or "Personal Work").
  •  The first invitation to learn about the group is to what they call a "Non-Member's Class." Back when I was growing up, some people actually called it the "Alien Sinner's Class!" By educating new members through this channel, they are not scared away by some of the more strange practices of the group, like public confession on Sunday mornings.
  • They have a period of public confession on Sunday morning where members stand up and ask forgiveness for sins they think they committed in the previous week.
  • They won't take the Lord's supper if they believe they haven't "taken care of" a particular sin.
  • They regularly refer to a select few "Teachers" as authoritative, but they won't admit they have any authority. They simply defer to whatever "counsel" and "judgment" these "Teachers" have to offer for any particular question they are approached with.
  • Last I heard, there were two Evangelists shared by the network ("brotherhood") of churches: Gary Preman and Tom Cornforth. Gary dates back as far as I can remember  in the sect. Tom also goes back a long time, but I never knew him personally, so I can't say how long he's been around
  • The most prominent Teacher in the group has for many years been Kim Smith, a convert of Merie Weiss.
How do you know the church's claims are wrong? Fortunately, they make that easy by claiming to be the One True Church. When you make that claim, you better have pretty sound doctrine to back it up. You just need one error to bring the house of cards down.

I have no intention of bashing members, teachers, or evangelists associated with the church. I simply want to provide a historical record of this church and a reasoned exposition of its many extra-Biblical rules. You'll notice that I don't call out individuals here, because I'm not interested in making personal attacks, just reasoned Bible studies. Feel free to respond via comments or correspond with me privately if you disagree.

The truth doesn't need to be afraid of a lie, so no one should be afraid of reading the truth of the church's teachings. I have no desire to post anything here that is untrue in any way, and I take seriously my commitment to correct any factual errors I may have inadvertently made on this site.

128 comments:

  1. The option of "Anonymous" allows us to speak without anyone having any preconceived ideas about us and shields us from anyone bringing up our past. We all have one, don’t we. I choose not to be “Anonymous” My past has the good, bad and ugly. I pray that you can learn something from it.

    I am a past member, teacher, evangelist of this sect, who is currently withdrawn from. For me it all started when my high school friend took me to a Der Wienerschitzel, where he introduced me to my wife to be. She invited me to a class and I never stopped going. She is still an active member “teacher” of this sect and she is still the love of my life for the last 34 years.

    It is so easy for us to point fingers at each other. Because we are all human, faults are easy to see. When I look back at my participation with this sect I have a lot of memories, things I am thankful for and a lot of things I am ashamed of. I needed to learn to move on and remember that I am accountable for my actions. No matter how many faults another might have it will never make me look, or be, any better of a person. I need to improve my own life and live responsibly before my God. I now worship at the Rose street church of Christ in Anchorage and have for several years.

    When I tried to make changes I ended up getting withdrawn from. I spoke out against “May Week” and said it was unscriptural. (This was the straw that broke the camel’s back) To have select members of each congregation meet to discuss what the brotherhood was going to teach for the next year is not biblical. It would be impossible for me to count how many times I was publicly rebuked from the pulpit and in a bible class. My favorite scripture during these times was Job 21:3 “Suffer me that I may speak; and after I have spoken, mock on.”

    To be continued…

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    1. Thanks for your courage in speaking up, Matt--name and all. Good words, fitly spoken, brother.

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    2. Matt. Bravo brother. May your voice be heard. I can relate to so much of what you have said. Please continue to post.

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    3. 2nd Post

      I am thankful for this page and the FB page that allows different ones to "get things off their chest" and lets us communicate together. This is way overdue. However... all of the anger, hatred, foul language and bitterness, I will not agree with. But I pray that in time we can all work through it. I know it has taken me a long time to get to where I am today and my journey is not done. God deserves a lot of praise for is long suffering with us.

      There will be times in our lives, which certain events will happen, that we will never forget. We will remember exactly what we were doing and where we were when it all happened. Like... 9/11, the day the shuttle blew up. All because of the significant impact of the events.

      Back in 1977 a few weeks after I became a member of the Stanton congregation, I remember vividly being questioned by two lady's in the congregation (who are still in this sect). They asked me if I Masturbated. When I told them no, they said if I did I would be withdrawn from. Later I also learned that they believed masturbation could be a cause for Alzheimer.
      Around 1979 was when I found out that some used to tie their children's hands at night, to keep them from "touching themselves". They abused their children in this way because they didn't want their children to grow up to be masturbators. This practice was stopping around the time I learned about it.
      I remember (like it was yesterday) while we were in San Antonio, (this would have been around 1984) I received a call from a brother in Odessa asking me what sexual positions I practiced with my wife. I told him, that was not a conversation we were going to have and I never answered his questions. I felt it was none of his business. I then called and asked, someone else, (A brother in San Diego) what was going on.

      They would also question members to see if they had a “corrupt mind”. If they determined they did have one, then they were withdrawn from.

      They have withdrawn from hundreds of members for these three “sins”. Masturbation, defiled marriage bed and the corrupt mind. They also believe now that those withdrawals were unscriptural. It would be safe to say that they have had far more unscriptural withdrawals than scriptural. They believed that those that fell away, after being withdrawn from scripturally, would have never continued anyway.

      There past is so very ugly and they try to hide it. They destroyed the tapes of any recordings with these things being taught. They don't want any of their new converts hearing these things.

      I’m sorry for not having a more respectful way of putting this... But was it their Holy Spirit that led them in and out of the "truths" of child restraint, masturbation, the defiled marriage bed and questioning individuals if they had a corrupt mind? Was it their Holy Spirit that kept them united through all of that?

      To be continued…

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    4. 3rd Post because it was to long to all be in my 2nd post.

      Here is something to take note of... They believe that one of the "ear-marks" of them being the only true church is their belief that are led by the Holy Spirit into all truth and he keeps them united.

      It is also important to note that they believe and are convinced that everyone else is lost. All other churches of Christ are referred to as the “off Churches” “Congregations that have had their candlestick removed” (Rev 2:5) therefor they believe God no longer recognized them as being the church.

      Here is something VERY important to understand about them… With their strong belief that everyone else is wrong, this leaves them with nowhere else to go. So, no matter what they have done wrong and willingly admit to, it will always be better to stay where they are at, than to go anywhere else.

      I will leave you with this scripture...
      The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9

      This is how God feels towards them too. I believe prayer is in order for those we love, that are still apart of this sect.

      To be continued...

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    5. Well said, Matt. We're all trying to walk a very fine line here between exposing the truth of this sect and being respectful and showing our love for them so we don't do to them what they do to others. It's difficult to cover these subjects without sounding bitter or resentful, because it is so negative and dark, but as God is my witness, he can look inside my heart and won't find bitterness in me, only sadness that these things even need to be discussed. Yet there is no doubt in my mind that they do.

      I think Andrea put it well in her comment today...we need to constantly pray that our motives will stay fixed on helping to expose error in a loving manner, and God will bring fruit to the efforts going on here.

      Like you, certain events have been impressed on my memory like it was yesterday. One was when my wife and I sat around a table at a fellowship during a time where we were visiting and investigating with an open mind.

      I can picture it like it was yesterday. We were told that married sex had to be face to face, and that women needed to wear jeans without a zippered fly in front. I reasoned from the scriptures with them that that wasn't what either of the verses used to support those doctrines actually said or meant, and was told we didn't have the Holy Spirit so we couldn't understand yet.

      My wife and I have wondered many times who exactly had the Holy Spirit at that table after all, since they eventually changed the doctrine about the zippered fly, and recanted their exegesis of the verse about face to face sex. (I'm not certain they recanted the teaching about it, though.)

      It was around that time I realized I had to leave because I was sure to be withdrawn from for using the brain God gave me. I knew God would not want me to check my brain at the door when I go to church.

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    6. Matt, I love your 3rd post, because my heart is not in reforming the organization, but the hearts of those in it. If we stay focused on that task, whatever God wants to happen with the organization and power structure will happen in time.

      God bless, and give my sister a big hug for me. I love her in spite of our differences. :-)

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    7. 4th Post

      I will start this post by saying that in my beginning; every new convert was questioned on masturbation and taught it was wrong. I might add that I still believe that we need to refrain from such behavior.

      Now, another day, I will never forget. March 11th 1998. This is the day my Dad passed away suddenly with a heart attack. On this day I was at Sam's Club shopping when my phone rang with my Mom on the other end of the phone. In her emotional pain she told me what had happened. Two months prior she lost her Mom and now her husband, my Dad was dead. All I could do was sit down on a pallet and cry.

      I flew to the Stanton area to be with my Mom and family. As we were arranging my Dad's burial, I was told that I needed to go back to Anchorage and worship with them. I was being told I needed to worship with my home congregation even though the Stanton congregation was right there. This was going to require me to miss my father’s burial. My family was willing to postpone his funeral so I flew back to Anchorage; worship with my home congregation, then flew back for his funeral. I will always remember, when I first told my Mom, I could not stay. She asked me why I could not stay and worship with the Stanton congregation. That's when I told her, as I had been taught, it is written, "But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead." -Matthew 8:22. I will never forget her cry and tears.

      To be continued...

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    8. I'm so happy that Kevin has exposed this cult, it's has caused so much damage, anger, there's so much reproach they have caused many to stumble.
      First hand, I know they are sincere, that is why it's important, we love them, and pray that something that is put on these pages will "open " their eyes to the Truth.
      I appreciate the boldness, as I start, opening up the wounds inflicted, it's not to keep an account of wrongs, but a place to start forgiving, and moving forward.
      Many more than any of us can imagine, were affected by the imposter church started. Many escaped, I suspect not too many unscathed .

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    9. Thank you Anon 12:07. Yes, I've seen firsthand how many have stumbled as a result of the oppressive, unbiblical doctrines.

      I've also been blessed to have a window seat to see God walking people out of the wilderness of these teachings of men, and that is SO encouraging to me. There are stories I want to share, but I can't yet, because they're not mine to tell. But believe me, amazing testimonies are being written by the hand of God right now.

      God is good. Greater is he that is for us than he that is against us.

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    10. Sweetheart (Erin) you are right about Matthew 8. That’s just what I was taught and the way they applied it to me was cruel and wrong. I believe they have changed that teaching and application to Matthew 8 also.

      Another event I will never forget...

      My withdrawal. It was on a Thursday night after our non-member class. My wife and I walked in with some non-members, right about the time the class was supposed to start. Immediately the preacher and a lady took me into a back room to talk with me. They told me that after the non-member class the congregation was going to have a meeting to bring up withdrawing from me for what I said, the last weekend, at a Sunday night fellowship. I asked them a question (I don't remember my specific question) and they said, "We don't have time to talk right now, we need to start class".

      This is what I taught at the fellowship "May week was unscriptural and it was like the Baptist convention". Furthermore I said "We can't read in the bible where the older ones from each congregation are to meet to discuss the teaching and practices of the brotherhood for the purpose of keeping us united".

      Now back to Thursday night. When the meeting started, the preacher said he wanted to first paint a picture of me because he didn't believe the congregation knew me like he did. So, before going into what I said that previous Sunday evening, he spoke for about 15 minutes accusing me of things he believed I had done. He then spoke about what I said at the fellowship and then asked if there were any questions. At that point I wanted to address everything he had falsely accused me of, so I raised my hand. He called on me and I began to answer for myself on the first accusation he made about me. I said, "The first thing, you just accused me of, is believing that the older ones, in are congregation, are holding, a specific brother, back from teaching the older kids class" (I might add here that neither he or anyone else had ever talked with me about this) I told him "I didn't believe that and I had never thought it". At that point another sister interrupted and said, "This has nothing to do with Matthews withdrawal and we didn't need to talk about it" so I was stopped. I raised my hand again and when he called on me I began to talk about his second accusation against me and I was immediately cut off by another sister who said the same thing, "this has nothing to do with Matthews’s withdrawal and we didn't need to talk about it". So I was stopped a second time, for trying to answering for myself, the accusations laid against me. I raised my hand again and he called on me one last time. I asked "can I answer for myself for the things I said at the fellowship for the reason you are withdrawing from me?" He said "no" and I was then withdrawn from.

      There never was any scripture given to try to show the “May Week” to be scriptural. Not at that meeting or any time thereafter. I continued to attend for around 1 ½ years before I left for good.

      I consider this day to be one of the greatest days of my life. I continue to thank God for setting me free. I believe that my life is proof that anyone can make it out of there.

      He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Psalms 111:4

      To be continued...

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    11. Matt, I agree with you about the May meeting being unscriptural. It's unreal how the church criticizes all of the other denominations for having governing bodies that make decisions at special 'conventions' and then turns around and does exactly what they condemn others for doing. I am so glad your story is out in the open for others to read because it is so blatantly wrong to have been withdrawn from and falsely accused and not allowed to answer for yourself. Withdrawal is so horribly abused.

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    12. Matt, thanks for sharing your story. I'd heard it but forgotten it, and it's so helpful to have stories shared on the blog here. The evidence showing their abuse of power is just overwhelming.

      Most importantly, I know it's encouraging to a lot of people to see others who have moved past their experiences in the wilderness of this church and found a much deeper relationship with God.

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    13. Thanks for sharing your stories Matt. I've said it before, but reading all these stories being shared are helpful to me to better learn about the reasonings behind my upbringing. It's almost similar to people who research their anscestry lines. "If you don't know your history, you're doomed to repeat it".

      I think that through this blog, it is easier to see how bound people in the CoC are. It's easier for those who are not in the CoC to show love towards them and to be more encouraging to them. I've been extremley humbled by this site. To hear what others have gone through for the sake of another man's rules is extremely sad. Before, I was frustrated with people who are still in the CoC but that frustration has changed to compassion.

      Isn't it funny how God works? I'm not, by any means, where I want to be spiritually, but I do believe God is talking to me. Which is something the CoC preaches against. He knows our hearts, he is using others to reach out to all of us. The sermon I heard on Sunday touched on legalism and following rules that aren't in the Bible (how funny! those subjects are on my mind thinking of the CoC). We need to stay focused on what God is asking us to do. It’s a dangerous mindset to think of all the rules we HAVE to follow. For instance:
      We can pray in our own way. Some people get a more powerful prayer when they pray alone, some like to do prayer circles. Don’t knock things that are different from your preferences. It’s very easy for us to get into this comparison mode and look down at others who are doing things differently from you. We start to say “oh so and so doesn’t pray like I do. So and so needs to start getting up earlier to pray in the morning.” We need to humble ourselves. We need to look to Jesus.

      That message may have reached someone in the audience in a completely different way than it hit me. And that's the beauty in God working through others. There was a person near me that was sniffling in tears at one point. I was amazed right then and there. Here was a man preaching/edifying a group and it meant one thing to me and probably a totally different thing to another, sitting right next to me. He knows our hearts.

      For anyone interested, the topic of the series is "Whatever It Takes" through MCA in Anchorage. Here is a link to the sermon "Look like Jesus":

      http://www.mcaonline.org/messages/sunday-morning-messages/

      I love how technology can link us up to so many different resources. I love how bodly so many churches post their preachings to reach so many. Very strange the CoC doesn't want their preachings on the web to reach others to finding salvation. Things that make you go hmmm....

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    14. Mckenzie, you said: "Before, I was frustrated with people who are still in the CoC but that frustration has changed to compassion." That's what motivates me! I'm so saddened by them being bound by so many rules of men that they can't see God loving and pursuing them at every turn. It's our job to be Christ to them.

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    15. Thank you McKenzie, very good points.

      I can't stand it when people try to bind things on me that are their own preferences. I think that's a major lesson I've learned - to be able to distinguish what a preference of someone else's is, a preference of mine is, and what God's word says (or doesn't address) on whatever the subject matter is. Of course I have a lot to learn. So far I've been able to stop and question some of those things that bother my conscience without blindly following and I am grateful. God has made himself known to me in ways this sect and others teach against. If I had been blindly following them and not looking to the Author and Finisher of my faith, what would I have missed?!

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    16. 6th Post

      There were two other days I will never forget. These two days happened several years after my withdrawal. Two of my boys, on different days, a few years apart from each other, were baptized into the congregation in Anchorage. They both, at their different times, meet up with me to tell me that they were going to get baptized. This might sound odd, but with both of my son's, we just cried and hugged each other. Neither one of them wanted to let me go. Those were the longest hugs ever. This was because, we both knew, that they would never hold any more conversations with me. No more camping or playing basketball or anything with Papa any more. As I said before, I am literally reminded every day of the bondage that is a part of those congregations. I believe I still have to reap what I sewed and I believe God can work a miracle in their lives also. I told my first boy that God was merciful with me because he led my out of those congregations. I said, "You are so much like me and I believe God will help lead you out of there too."

      Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. -Psalms 51:8-13

      I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me, because God has been very good to me. I have so much to be thankful for and I know that my journey is not over. This is just what is happening in these congregations today

      I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. -Psalms 104:33-3

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    17. As you know you are not walking alone.We will always be connected to the Stanton Churches. But our church of Christ history tells the same stories of heartbreak, sacrifice, and loss all because we are lovers of truth. It will never change nor will it ever go away. Love you brother.

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    18. I'm confused, are you saying our love for truth is what brings us the heartbreak, sacrifice, and loss? I believe the heartbreak, sacrifice and loss is because some have lost their love for truth and have put the doctrines and traditions (a.k.a. "judgments") of fallible men and women on a higher pedestal than the Word of God. I probably misunderstood your comment. :-)

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    19. Brother Matt, my heart is so heavy for you and your sons, especially after reading about the circumstances of your withdrawal. If I could change only one thing about the church it would be that family members could have a relationship with each other no matter what state they are in, just like married people are allowed to do. I hope that one day you can be reunited with your sons. Your sons must be strong young men to chose to be baptized knowing they would have to be completely cut of from their Papa. Hopefully they will question what they are being taught and come to a better understanding.

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    20. You are a strong man Matt; a loving husband and Papa. Prayers for your spirit to be strengthened and your pain to not cut so deeply. I couldn't imagine the phrase "time heals all wounds" to be applicable to these types of situations of separating family. Even though your sons have grown into men, they still need their Papa for grown man advice, for fathering advice, for marital advice, for sciptural advice, to continue to learn from you and bond with you. I still need my father and I am a grown woman. Couldn't imagine being restricted from talking to him. Prayers for you and others in these types of situation.

      Thank you for sharing these memories with us, not to feel sorry for you as you wished we wouldn't. Thank you for sharing your heart and your love, we respond with love and prayer.

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    21. I think many of us had a love for the truth and a strong loyalty to God and to those that led us into the sect initially. Unfortunately overcoming evil with good became the opposite due to people that lust for power and the admiration of others but essentially are the worst type of busy bodies; taking scriptures out of context, adding and taking away from God's word and because of the continual use of evil surmising tactics to rebuke or teach people in class or worship. When you begin using your own mind and judgment based on right and wrong gained from scripture (and using your own mind is discouraged by the leaders/teachers) your eyes become opened to what really is taking place and you have to come to the conclusion that you want no part of what they're dishing out that is under the guise of being "spiritual." I learned over time they have no understanding of what the fruit of the spirit is and what bad fruit is and those scriptures are clearly stated in the bible texts. Finding your way out and staying faithful to God can be done, but it takes strength, courage and faith.

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  2. Tying down children is a practice that should be further discussed to answer a very important question: when the physical restraints were removed at or around 1979, did the psychological restraints remain? In other words, when they stopped tying them to their beds at night, did they really stop the compulsion? Did the abuse really stop? What about beatings, humiliation and oppression? One reason the bondage stopped was, "they could have been arrested for that." But did they realize where their hearts were? Did they realize their method, as it began in the early 70's, continued in its forced, compulsory manner? Aren't we concerned with the spirit that is behind the tying down of innocents? Aren't we concerned with the misplaced zeal that would be characterized by injuring people with a pretense of "keeping the church pure?" Another grave concern is the blind faith and inordinate trust the members place in their human hierarchy, also known as "outside counselors." Some of the parents were terribly conflicted when this perverted instruction on bondage was taught-they had pressing doubts and agonizing guilt, but continued the practice because the higher-ups said so. Remember, It was nearly 20 years later when one of the teachers was placing newspapers on her children at night to determine when they were moving (by the sound of the shifting paper). The binding stopped, but the spirit of restraint remained in different forms. Some of the kids endured it and recovered, but many didn't.

    Consider the chilling, hollow echo mimicked by teachers when followers were unjustly cast out, "They wouldn't have continued anyway."

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    1. Okay. Clarification. Older ones told us the 'tying down' amounted to oversized sweatshirts with long sleeves being tied in back. No tying to beds, no chains, no whips. But bad judgment nevertheless from bad teachers.

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    2. Trust me, some children were tied to their beds if the bed had a headboard or bunk bed post to tie their hands to and some children were pinned to their beds with safety pins. I have actually never heard of the 'sweatshirt' method but it doesn't surprise me.

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    3. Anonymous 7:08 Sounds like you're describing a straight jacket. Yikes.

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    4. Anon 3:37, you said: "Consider the chilling, hollow echo mimicked by teachers when followers were unjustly cast out, 'They wouldn't have continued anyway.'"

      I don't believe in "once saved always saved" but I remember the church's criticism of those who did. When presented with evidence of people who walked away from God, they would just dismiss it with "they were never true believers anyway." It's ironic how their defense is the same.

      It is as if no evidence contrary to their belief will ever be enough to convince them. Which brings me to the theory that the only thing that will soften their hearts is the love we show them. Only then will they have a hope of listening to our words.

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    5. Kevin, I will be responding to you outside of this blog. After leaving the sect I spent a few years peeling off layers of Phariseeism and salvaging my marriage. We kept the family together, barely, and at great cost. For our local congregation, I prepared a year-long, biblical study on love, about 40 pages. You will have a copy to confirm we wish no harm or bitterness. I hope it will help you recognize our hope in Christ is the same. Unless love is in its rightful place as "the greatest of these," we stumble. We become a purification squad in a police state. We hope you will be encouraged in your pursuit of bringing light to dark, suppressive extremism. You are not alone. Mercy rejoices against judgment.

      We do not continue in sin that grace may abound. We only hope the legislation of liberties can be replaced with the individual consciences God freely gave us, to allow others to be richly rewarded in the law of liberty.

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    6. Anon 12:09, I will be excited to see your study of love! And for those who may think spending a year on the subject to be too much, consider the third verse of a song I've grown to love:

      Could we with ink the ocean fill
      And were the skies of parchment made
      Were every stalk on earth a quill
      And every man a scribe by trade
      To write the love of God above
      Would drain the ocean dry;
      Nor could the scroll contain the whole
      Though stretched from sky to sky

      It's so exciting to me when I hear of others who have walked out of the spiritual desert of this church, and have since seen and tasted of God's goodness.

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    7. Did you receive it?

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    8. Yes, I did, and I loved it. Your note brought tears to my eyes, thank you!

      I sent an email "thank you" to the person who asked me for my address, and wanted to post it publicly, but I just couldn't find this thread. :-)

      God bless!

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    9. I would love to share your study on love with readers. If I scanned it, would it be OK to post as a download? I understand if the answer is no. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to share it with me!

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    10. You may and you must! God's love is meant for all mankind. Hopefully one day, everyone will see your true purpose is not to harm, but to uphold. You are a courageous Christian, Kevin; your love and concern for me brings tears to my eyes, also. I have suffered great emotional pain and distress. Love is the only cure, brother.

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    11. I agree Anon 9:45. I see Kevin upholding the whole truth; it's both enlightening and encouraging. I still struggle every day also so I cannot wait to see what you wrote about love being the cure. Thank you both.

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    12. I got the study on love scanned and uploaded. THANK YOU "I Am Anonymous" for your effort in writing the study and in reaching out to get a copy of it to me. I truly appreciate it!

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  3. I completely agree with what you are saying Anonymous 3:37 about the horrors of the past but I am honestly not sure what can be done about it now. Does the church shut down? What options are there? Also, is masturbation a sin and should it be prevented in children? I really want to know. Anybody??

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    1. Ok, Kevin correct me if I am wrong... I'm taking a stab at this masturbation question. There is a lot to say about this but I'll try to hit on the high points.

      Anything that we worship above God is an idol and God says have no idols. It doesn't matter if that idol is a particular version of the bible, we are to have no idols.

      In marriage masterbation can be an idol if it prevents the couple from coming together. It is also wrong if one in the marriage is not ok with it. Unless there is biblical evidence to the contrary, that is my view. Yes, I have studied this subject.

      Genesis 38:6-11 is the only reference I know about that deals with a man "wasting his seed" on the ground. The reason this, in vs 10, "greatly offended the LORD" was that Onan (tamar's brother-in-law) was supposed to take Tamar, Judah's daughter in law, and impregnate her because her husband was dead, and that was the duty of the brother in law at that time. Simply put, Onan was supposed to have sex with Tamar to preserve what would eventually be the lineage of Jesus Christ. That greatly offended God that he chose to disobey out of his own selfish greed and he was killed because of his attitude and motivation, not the masturbation itself. Think about it, if he had a condom or got a vasectomy that would still be wrong because in that situation the purpose was to get Tamar pregnant.

      Fast forward to Paul's letter to Corinth when he tells them to marry if they cannot keep from burning with passion (1 cor 7:8-9), and that tells me it is better to marry and be in a pure relationship, which to me says sex or sex acts were intended for marriage. Period. Meaning a single person should not masturbate.
      ... part 1, to be continued.

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  4. Part 2...

    A person who does not repent of sin, fails to see sin in their life, and is not being sanctified is probably not a Christian, no matter what they tell you and whether they were baptized or not. There is nothing in the water to wash sin off. Sin is bound up in our hearts and water doesn't wash it away. There needs to be life change and that only happens with heart change, which is the work of God through belief in the finished work of Jesus Christ and dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

    I personally would not teach a married couple what sex acts in the confines of marriage between the two of them are or are not sin BECAUSE that is the role of the Holy Spirit. If one of them is depriving the other of sex that is wrong, the bible backs that up. Concerning positions/acts, I haven't seen the bible to condemn that and neither should we, other than to say both people need to be consenting and not self seeking but rather seeking to serve their spouse.

    Furthermore, if you read Genesis, God says in 2:25 "the man and his wife were both naked and felt no shame", nakedness in marriage is not wrong, it is God's original design, and Gen 1:31, God looked at what he made and said it was very good, and he made sex - see 1:28. Then of course there is Song of Songs which is all about - gasp- sex and sex acts.

    When it comes to children.... your God given, hopefully Holy Spirit driven conscience should ultimately be your guide. (Not what someone tells you) Parenting "letter of the law" style fails. Period. It will always fail because we are human. Do this, don't do that, sit here, put your hands there when you sleep, etc. Rules, or laws, do not address attitudes and motivations of the heart. What you and I should be doing is parenting to the heart. Jesus cares about the motives and attitudes of the heart. Look at Jesus' reactions to being persecuted. He asks questions that prod the Pharisees' and others' motivations. He cares about the heart of the law and not exclusively the letter of the law. There is a big difference. We can't just go out and drag people to church and forcibly dunk them in the baptismal because change is the work of God, not man.


    Common sense in parenting is that if you make a big deal about something, it becomes a bigger deal. Say don't run and that's the child's temptation BECAUSE man was born sinful since the fall of man back in the garden. Does this sect believe children are born with sin bound up in their hearts? It wouldn't be my place to tell you what to tell your child. Wise people can offer what they told their children but there is not a one size fits all approach other than to teach about idols, as far as I know. Again, I have studied this.

    The church's "job", for lack of a better term, is to teach, instruct, and come alongside hurting people walking with them and loving them as THEY learn to apply the truth of God's word on an individual basis. The church is not who convicts of sin. It is the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. When the church tries to stand in and essentially "be" the Holy Spirit, it will fail. Every time.

    Unless and until I learn otherwise, this is what I know. Not sure if putting my name here will be embarrassing to anybody... so I won't. :-)

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    1. Oops, I didn't put that reply where I wanted to. Kevin, can you please put my part 1/2 together? Thanks

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    2. Kevin are you uncomfortable with the subject of tying the children down? It occurred to me you may have been around at that time. If it's too hard to write about, we can drop it.

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    3. No, that never happened to me, thank God. I think we've established that it happened in some congregations, and I don't exactly know what can be done now about it other than forgiveness on the part of the victims and (I would hope) repentance on the part of the teachers and parents who followed those teachings.

      I mostly remember the public humiliations and speculations about men in general. Anyone who was a little different or socially awkward was suspected of it. My 4th grade teacher was pointed out to me as a "probable" sexual deviant. He had a little speech impediment--not sure if that was a "sign" they were told to watch out for. He turned out to be one of my better school teachers, I remember that.

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    4. Kevin, a speech impediment was considered an "odd behavior" which to them was a sign of uncleanness. I saw a woman being accused of being a masturbator in front of the entire congregation because of it. The poor woman left and never came back. It was hypocritical because they taught that Moses could have had a speech impediment at that time. Also showed the lack of respect for the gospel because they didn't show the proper respect that should have been shown to an elderly woman. These holier-than-thou teachers/preachers/leaders pick and choose what scripture they will follow at the moment (or what part of the scripture) and totally ignore the other scriptures. They constantly are picking someone to target and quickly shut down even the suggestion that something they have said or done may not be right. Questions that target them will not be tolerated.

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    5. Wow, that is so heartbreaking. No human being should be subjected to evil surmising and slander like that, much less an elderly sister in Christ. Where's the remorse, the shame, the tears of repentance from those who did such things? All I see is defensiveness, minimizing it, and covering it up. If they were the "one true church" they would be less concerned with image and more concerned with people they've hurt. In fact, they'd improve their image if they showed more concern for the people they've hurt, instead of blaming the victims ("they were going to fall away anyway") like they so often do.

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    6. Kevin, it is a typical characteristic of an abuser to point the finger at others when challenged. Often an abuser will become so totally irate they’ll throw into the mix numerous accusations (whether real or imagined) against you thereby detracting from what they have done and winning just by virtue of how many wrongs you have allegedly done. In this way they have justified their own actions (it’s always someone else’s fault). If that’s not working for them they’ll even resort to the role of victim temporarily (as long as it serves their purpose) which also will distract you from what they've done. True remorse requires one to humble themselves which is something they demand from others but have no insight or capability to actually do for themselves. Accountability for their own actions seems to be totally out of reach for these kind of people and largely is why they are incapable of change. They keep living out the need to protect their ego so the cycle just continues to repeat itself in one form or another.

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  5. I was in the kitchen of a main teacher's house. There was a non-member spouse there who witnessed things in the early days. The person broached the subject of bondage - right out of the blue. It kind of freaked me out...very awkward. I think the person was trying to knock something off its pedestal. One of the heavies was nearby and quckly got wind of the conversation - this was one of the highest teachers. They couldn't do anything with the non-member so they turned the fury upon me, like it was my fault for not shutting down the conversation. I'd never seen them so shaken as when that part of their past was exposed. Maybe that's why I appreciate your blog so much. You're exposing everything to the light.

    A lot of people got hurt and those sins were justified as: "that was the judgment at that time." When we came in, we didn't have a forum like this to check things out, to get the whole picture up front, not spoon-fed piecemeal. People have a right to know what the history is, what the rules are, up front, honest and transparent. They had a lid on information for 4 decades. You're blowing the lid off. For me, that's a comfort. They knew so many intimate details about us...I wonder if they're realizing what comes around goes around.

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    1. Anon 12:33, thank you, and yes, the bondage thing is totally freaky. I can see why they would try to cover it up.

      The following audio snippet comes from a May Meeting discussion, I believe, and shows a clear intent to avoid criticism by keeping the teachings of the church from being indexed by search engines and exposed for the "wrong eyes" on the Internet.

      I have no doubt that Paul would have loved for each and every one of his sermons to be published in audio and written form, word for word, on the Internet, if he'd had such technology. He would not have cared what "the enemies of the cross of Christ" would say about his words, because he was confident he was speaking the truth. The only reason to hide your tracks is if deep inside, you're not confident you're teaching the truth.

      Listen for yourself

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    2. The soundbite is from the sect tekkie, ex-military. Prominent ex-military higher-ups taught in Maryland, Virginia, Spring Valley, Tennessee, and formerly in Chino. That's not a complete list, but a disproportionate number of top shelf May trip speakers seemed to speak on their military careers. A fitting segue from military service to hard religious discipline. In the military, you had better keep your mouth shut and suck it up, or you'll receive a dishonorable discharge...right?

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    3. I heard that in at least one congregation they used to tie kids to chairs in order to teach them how to sit until CPS was called in (decades ago) so they discontinued the practice.

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  6. Erin Tauriainen(Ezell)September 1, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Papa I think it is safe to say that Matthew 8 scripture was taken out of context. Seeing that Jesus was speaking to his disciple who He had just empowered to go out(to other towns by the way) and heal men. First of all Jesus had only a short time with his disciples, secondly the man could have easily meant his father was old and close to death so let me wait around till he dies. Saddens me to see the hurt it caused our family at the time, well still is a tender spot. But God is good and knows you meant only to do His will, so does Grandma. I love you! I am so thankful to God for taking you out of the Stanton COC, it was the best thing that ever happened to us!

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  7. I felt so alone all these years. Under different circumstances, many of us would have been life long friends in this life journey. To encourage and come alongside one another as we raised our kids and experienced the trials the Lord has allowed to refine us.
    Honestly, I am not even 100% sure what I was withdrawn from for! I think it is because I was asked if I had unclean thoughts and I admitted I had a dream of a guy at work who just kissed me IN THE DREAM!
    Matt.....I'm so sorry. I was gone by the time yours took place. But I know of whom you speak. If only others saw what I saw, heard what I heard.
    Now I see that it was God who helped me walk away. Although I have tried to convey to others the absurdity of what went on, they can't really understand. With the Lord's gentleness,His Word reminding me constantly to forgive, time and a loving, godly husband, the bitterness is gone.

    I don't have the eloquence of Kevin but my heart is to help others reconcile first with God and know Him thru His Word, and with those they love. Over the years I have had contact with a few former members and have able to let know how I have longed to make things right. Those who I knew well, I don't see on the blogs or on fb. I have tried to have conversations with them if they would respond. Even tried to thru their kids (whom I cared for). I remember your precious Liana, Matt Ezell! Didn't know her as well since we only got together a few times, she and I did friend each other though! :)

    Thank you for starting this blog and the fb pages. It brings further healing and confirmation that God is still in the business of rescuing! Not just from sin, but from ourselves and from those things we were in bondage to.

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    1. Thanks Teresa, for your voice and the voices of those like you who have lived through this firsthand and found the path out of it.

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  8. It has been 30 years since I was baptized. From the ages of 12 to 19 I was looking for someone to tell me the truth. I moved from Philadelphia, PA to Tacoma, WA and this group knocked on my door and told me the truth. I attended a bible class on a Thursday night and I immediately got baptized upon hearing God's words. I was so happy that my soul was finally right with God. Little did I know the years of trial, affliction and abuse that would come. I am now worshiping within the main fold and have been for 5 years. I will begin to tell my story when the pain has subsided. Please pray for me.

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    1. I'm glad you escaped the abuse, and have not given up on God altogether. The fact that you spent 30 years in it means you probably have a lot of thing to unlearn. I was raised in it and I know I did. I'll pray for you and your journey out of the abusive doctrines.

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    2. Dear Anon 10/19 2:07PM, I understand. I felt the same way. I was ecstatic thinking I had found “the truth.” Little did I know the persecution, falsehoods and abandonment I would experience under the guise of “love” would come directly from Christians. I’m so glad you found believers that are able to share true love that you so deserve. Please take all of the time you need to continue to heal. At some point, when you are ready, I hope you share your story on this blog. May God continue to nurture you and heal you. There is no greater love demonstrated than Christ’s sacrifice for us because He loves us and loves you my dear. I am praying for you.

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  9. Ona may 20th I was marked and avoided and cast out repentence would not be found and I was told I was going to hell.

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  10. I really dont know what I did. I confessed to everything and I know I made my heart right but it was not good enough for my teachers.On may 20Th 2009 when they marked and avoided me I knew it was happening before they told me. It really hurt me bad but at the time something truly wonderful happened that I cannot begin to explain with words. I have learned so much within 5 years. God has really been there for me and taught me through this.

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  11. I have tried to set my words in order to explain to you what this church has done to me and my family. It has really put an emotional scar that I cannot rid myself of. I feel as if it was done on purpose to me and not because I had done anything wrong really that could not have been forgiven. Two scriptures come to mind when I remember the day I was marked and avoided. I remember his mouth moving and talking to me but my ears went deaf. His word could be heard, the sound that is, but the words made no sense. I could not comprehend what was being said. I remember there being a calm. A peaceful calm that kept me from defending myself. I felt though I was not alone as my two teachers spoke to me. Something very strong was very near. I remember as they told me that day by the pool that I was being marked and avoided, as soon as they left it began to rain hard on a sunny day. It was good because it hid my tears. I read a verse in the bible after this about Jesus and I do not make any comparison of myself and my Lord for I know I am not equal to him but I will say that this verse struck a close understanding In my heart. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth. And everytime time I wanted to speak I could not.

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Marilyn. May God bless you and I hope that the pain you've been put through has not been in vain. Are you from the Southern California area? You don't have to reply publicly, I'm just curious. You can email me if you'd like at kevinmharper@gmail.com.

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    2. Part of the abusiveness demonstrated by this sect which is so cult-like is the hierarchies attempt to have complete and total control of information/communication. And oddly enough gossip and slander is fed to the hierarchies via its members and then spread to others in power. Once you're targeted for withdrawal, because those in charge no longer look favorably on you, it's quite possibly only a matter of time before you'll be withdrawn from. They will be on high alert to find something to accuse you of no matter how unscriptural or ridiculous it is. They still totally misuse the use of withdrawal and this is where Kevin's indicating how their method of study is conducted (more often than not, completely out of context) it can only result in pervasive errors in their system of discipline. It’s impossible to get the full meaning of what God intended when scripture is taken out of context and misinterpreted and it is dangerous to a person’s soul. If you've attended even one of their alleged “bible classes" it usually is dominated by teacher/preacher rebukes and admonishments based on opinion instead of scripture. In this group teacher/preacher opinion is the law and anyone that denies this is a liar. That combined with a lack of understanding of the goodness of God combines for a toxic environment.

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    3. there is also another scripture I forgot to put in because I got a little depressed when remembering things. But for so many years they became my family. A real family to me. We did everything together and I had fellowships at my house and I never wanted to be around anyone except them. I even had my blood family reject me all except my mother who no matter what did not turn away from me. She tried softly and lovingly to get me to listen to Charles Stanley with her but I would not. I rebuked my own mother and father and my sisters. I rebuked friends and people that were so close to me. They cannot be around me even now for fear that I am judging them in my head. At times I still am and I read into all their words dissecting every word that comes out of their mouth and it is so awful. I have been able to stop a lot of it but at times I find I am still critic. My heart feels remorse for how I have become. There is a verse in Psalms where someone is talking about they could have expected this behavior or treatment from an enemy but it was not it was from a friend.

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  12. No I live in Tampa, Fl. I lived in Pensacola, Fl and was baptized in 1993. I was marked and avoided in 2009 for talking to a teacher who was marked and avoided. I questioned the paid preacher system. I also went straight to someone. instead of going to my teachers.

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  13. 12If an enemy were insulting me,

    I could endure it;

    if a foe were rising against me,

    I could hide.

    13But it is you, a man like myself,

    my companion, my close friend,

    14with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship

    at the house of God,

    as we walked about

    among the worshipers.

    I had asked for forgivesness and I examined myself over and over for months. I studied so much I made books out of it. I spent long days and nights going through the concordance and trying to ask my teachers who either would not return my calls or would not answer my questions. I even admitted and asked forgiveness for things I was not even put on withdrawl for and admitted to sins of my mind. I could not get forgiveness. I lost of 70lbs from the stress of it all and people were telling me that I was anerxic looking. I was so ill. I searched preachers out online from off church of Christ and different religions and lived in fear. Afraid to die.

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  14. And then it occurred to me. I had read the bible several times over. I could be asked a question or ask myself a question and immidiatley I a verse came. My own mind began to put this verse with that verse like a puzzle. I began to notice God was teaching me. I began to realize that I did not need to see forgivesnss from man but from God. I realized I did not need any man to teach me but God. I needed no book except my bible. Instead of judging people who were speaking to me I began to compare what was being taught to me and what God was now teaching me and I could see why I was deceived ( I never read my bible I studied verses and had a head knowledge of verses but I never read my bible) I wanted to be accepted and loved by men and not God. I could clearly see the teaching of straining for a nat and pharasees and scribes. It all became clear this was a cult and I was cast out because I was studying and getting to know God's mindset instead of this religions mindset. It has been five years but I am stronger. I have my days and moments but then I return to God.

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  15. One thing is that I never did is walked away from God. I am still with him. Even after this church marked and avoided me and cast me out. I got up right away and went to a Baptist church right down the street. I became afraid because they seemed to laxed so I went to a church of Christ and was baptized again but it had to be redone there because my toe was sticking up in my baptism. I began listening to Charles Stanley at this same time and I knew there was something even wrong with this church of Christ. I left and they came to my house because they said I was endanger to leave God. I never left God. I left that church and returned to the Baptist church but ended up leaving again because there was a Christian there who would make innocent enough comments to me that made me have flash backs of the first church of Christ. So I went to another church. A non denomination. My preacher at this church was always on FB and was making comments that I thought was to jesting and he was fooling around in areas I thought was unfitting for a preachers behavior. I went back to the Baptist church. I am there now again. I left buildings but I never left God. I always worship him. My heart is always through out each and every day considers him, thinks of him, thanks him. I am not on my way to hell either. God decides that for me and not man. Jesus did not even come to judge but to save so how can mere man at these churches tell me when I am going to hell or endanger of loosing my salvation. No I don't believe this. It is a lie straight from the mouth of the liar, destroyer, murderer.

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    1. THANK YOU for sharing your testimony, Marilyn. I am thrilled to hear that you have not walked away from God after your experience!

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    2. Marilyn, thank you so much for sharing your testimony. I know many of us can relate to much of what you said. God bless you sister!

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  16. Kevin as a general correction, public confession can be done before and after any bible classes, before and after first Friday session if the confession you feel be directly affected to first Friday, and so thus, and also done before personal work if the public sin you feel directly affect to personal work. and of course on Sunday. At least that's how it was done where I attended.

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    1. Yes, that sounds right, now that you mention it. I may have oversimplified it by implying it was a Sunday-only practice.

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  17. Birth Control QuestionsMay 5, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    I am a bit late in posting this, but I have wanted to do a little searching myself, as far as reasons behind their beliefs:

    I know birth control is a very controversial topic among the church. I was just having a conversation about it with my mother, who is a current member of the Stanton Church of Christ. We were talking about their beliefs on spacing your children and how it must be done naturally. She claims that my father has done research as to whether the pill actually prevents ovulation, or it kills the released egg.

    I began to reference my knowledge from reading, and classes in college about how it actually add hormones that are present when a woman is pregnant which prevents any further eggs from developing. I went so far as to find FOUR different credible websites supporting my point of view. She was very adamant about her idea, which was that the pill destroyed the egg, and her line of defense was this: "No, Dad did research on this for our birth control and he found in his research that it actually destroys the egg." So my response to her was, "So I guess all schools around the entire country have been teaching us the wrong things? Why would they do that?" Her response was to just shrug her shoulders.

    I find it so mind blowing that she refuses to even think about the possibility that she could be wrong. I told her how I thought it was so interesting, and she said, "yea, you want to know the truth, Why wouldn't you?" When she said that, I immediately thought of how I could have used those same words to her. It also made me think back to how they typically discourage their children from attending four year universities because they "put things into our minds."

    I am 21 years old and just starting to go back to school, my mom tried a countless number of times to convince me to just do a technical training program (which is okay if you desire to work in that specific field) I feel that whenever I attend, or think about attending another church (I have attended a different church once) I will sit there and criticize how they do things, not listen to what they are actually saying/teaching.

    I right now feel like that I will be like that for the rest of my life, constantly questioning and second guessing things. Sometimes a part of me wishes that I would not question things, but then at the same time I think it could be a good thing.

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    1. 1) I know committed believers on both sides of the birth control question. My best advice is to study it for yourself (both the science and the Bible), pray about it, and "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind," which is the same advice I'd give for any subject that is not black and white spelled out in the Bible.

      We may each have passionate opinions, and good Biblical reasons for thinking them...but if God didn't specify it, we cannot and should not bind our opinion on someone else.

      That said, my personal conviction is that children are an amazing gift from God, but that doesn't preclude us from exercising good judgment about the number of children we bring into the world. They are not only a gift, but a responsibility that requires a long term commitment financial, relationally, and spiritually.

      Here's something to think about. Isn't the couple who uses natural birth control methods trying to "limit God's blessings" just as much as the person who uses artificial birth control? The artificial/natural distinction is an arbitrary one. The bottom line is both are attempting to accomplish the same thing.

      2) As for higher education, I am with you on that. I went to a university. One definitely has to have a strong faith these days in order to come out unscathed spiritually, but there is no Biblical "rule" against getting a college education. Every person has gifts and talents and a purpose God is calling them to if they are believers. All of my teens are baptized believers, so we talk about what they want to accomplish, what their gifts are, and how they might use their gifts for the kingdom and for establishing a career to support a family, etc. For my teens who feel led to pursue a college degree, our first choice is to have them use CollegePlus, which allows them to test out of 90% of their college credit. My 20 year old daughter will graduate with her B.A. in communications by the end of this year using this approach. I have another daughter who wants to become a nurse and possibly do some do some ministry for children in third world countries with her training. That requires an on-campus college education. I have a son who is very entrepreneurial and doesn't want to do college. He works hard and just wants to build his own business. We are supportive of all of them, because God didn't make a rule about these things, and he made each of them with different gifts and purposes.

      3) I want to encourage you to keep visiting other churches because the critical thoughts start going away as you come to see that other congregations are made up of people just like you who do their best to understand the scriptures. As we grow in Christ, it's easier to see someone's heart and realize that they're often no more messed up in their beliefs than we are. :-)

      The feeling you're having is normal for anyone leaving the Stanton churches, and simply comes from all the "doctrines of men" that Stanton has ingrained into people over the years.

      Trust me, God is alive and well outside the Stanton churches...seek and you will find! God bless!

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    2. Dear 'Birth Control Questions',
      Could you please share the information you have gathered about birth control? I have only heard one side of the argument and I'm curious to hear what you have found.

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    3. I look forward to hearing other people share their thoughts on this. To expand on my reasoning above, I think it's interesting to think about the responsibility aspect of having children, particularly for the husband in the marriage. I believe the husband has a moral duty to provide for the needs of his family, but everyone always talks about this as a money issue. That's only a small part of the picture.

      I have 7 kids, 6 of whom are teens or adults now...so I have some perspective on this. I can assure anyone reading this that the financial responsibility, while certainly large if you add it all up through childhood, doesn't hold a candle to the time responsibility. I love my kids and actively invest time into those relationships, because that's what love does. That's my biggest struggle--to invest the time required to maintain an awesome relationship with my wife and each and every one of my kids. That takes time, effort, and discipline, and I'm certainly not perfect at it--but man, is it worth it!

      Because you know what? There's only a finite amount of time. You can budget it all you want, but at some point, that 24 hours runs out and you have no more. You either invested that time with them, or you didn't. You either spent it on church work and Bible classes and your job, or on your wife and kids.

      Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of big families, and church work, and Bible classes and jobs. But it is not right to have a big family if you don't have the capacity to invest the time required to build meaningful relationships with them and mentor them into adulthood. Anyone who thinks they can "raise" teens and not invest large amounts of time into them, doesn't know their teens like they think they do.

      Just my two cents. :-)

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  18. There was a prominent teacher, who is no longer in the church, who was accused of making things they were teaching as a law of Christ. The church is still doing this today. It is being taught from the pulpit and I even had sermon steered towards me on this to where I was told I was not a "man of God" for not accepting it.

    What was being taught was that a Christian can show up at your house any time they want without notice. If you declare that you would rather have the visitor call first to see if you are able to receive company then you pushing away your brethren. By saying that you are not a man of God you are implying that this brother is in sin and sin only comes by breaking a law of Christ. I have told other prominent preachers about this and some ignored and others agreed with the teaching.

    I have a bad disability that would sometimes leave me not wanting to entertain company, but that was dismissed and was told that I don't love my brethren. It wasn't looked at what I could do, it was looked at what I couldn't do.

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  19. We know that murmuring is a sin and a withdrawable offense. I got counsel from one of the evangelist's wives only to be castigated for following it by a preacher in a sermon. When this was brought to light to the other preachers and the evangelist it was not even considered. I had no status amongst the preachers and it seemed like they watched each others' backs. What's interesting is that evangelist said in one of his talks that he took a police officer to court over a traffic infraction that he believed was not just only to have the judge prefer to side with the police officer. This seemed like the same thing.

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    1. @Lynn 10:16, the subject of "withdrawal" is grossly misunderstood and practices by most churches, especially the Stanton churches. Please post your reasons for thinking that "murmuring" is a "withdrawable" offense.

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  20. How supportive are your preachers and teachers? My were not happy with me that I would not counsel with them. I didn't because they would deny that things they said were ever said. They denied it to me and to and evangelist in front of other preachers and teachers. This and many other things were happening, yet nobody would do anything about it and nobody sat down nor was made to sit down.

    How many times have we seen people take things out of context or do a rebuking/bring out in class things that were distorted or didn't have all the facts on? I saw a brother, on the way to personal work, driving erratically speeding in and out of traffic. I brought it to him saying that what we do can reflect upon the church and can come back to us in if someone in the world saw them and they attended class. (Bring a reproach.) It was brought out in the next class distorted to the point to where it came back on me that we don't tell people that if they drive like that I won't listen to anything they have to say.

    It seems that personal responsibility is not being taught.

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    1. Lynn, are you still in the Stanton Churches of Christ?

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    2. Yes, I am.

      I know that the COC is correct in their base beliefs and teachings, but I also believe that people can hold the gospel in unrighteousness.

      Anybody who knows about the history of the congregations throughout the brotherhood can a test that there have been many over the past 30+ who have been rebuked, sat down, withdrawn from, and even pushed out, like what happen in 2001, So, why is it so hard to believe that is could still happen? First you have to ask yourself why would I allow my self to treat the people of God with disdain and so cruelly.

      What is interesting is that I have run into various children from Christians who have been in for 10-20 years who want to have nothing to do with the church. After talking with them, at different times, they all have the same stories as to why they are not interested in joining.

      Christianity is supposed to be a joy, not be in fear of those who are supposed to be there for us.

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  21. How much money does Gary Preman make from the church? What I was told was this: Bruce Gordon a former member worked as a construction manager and received a 25,000 bonus for completion of a project. It was said that with his bonus he could support the evangelist on his own. So about 25,000 a year, but Gary does not accept gifts as some have tried to give him extra checks and he has return them. Gary does not accept support from church who question the scriptural basis for paying a man for preaching and has returned support checks telling the church to obey their conscience and he would do without. Gary does not complain about his low pay. In many different areas he is the correct example of being content with ones wages and not allowing weak brethren to offend their consciences. Gary also works and receives pay from his other job while also receiving pay from the church and this is acceptable as he works for both and should receive pay for both labors.

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    1. The criticism of Gary Preman was not that he was supported as an evangelist, but that he has remained in the same congregation for over 30 years. The idea being that an evangelist would go where needed, establishing NEW congregations and then move on, which he obviously has not done for decades.

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  22. Wow Kevin must be away for the holidays and left his blog ungaurded. Okay then how about a post on why I love God? I am always in need of wisdom being a fool. Like a man in the desert craves water, or a hungry man craves food I crave wisdom. In Mathew 25:1-13 is the parable of the ten virgins and God gave me an understanding this week that the bridegroom can be any worthwhile desire, like the desire for a wife, or a good job, etc and the five wise virgins were wise because they were prepared, and the wise did not help the foolish. i also saw that their was no reward for the foolish. In dealing with able bodied persons(ABP) who ask for help I always felt guilty about telling them no when they asked for financial help but no more. like giving a drunk a drink you are only hurting the Lazy ABP when you help them. In Proverbs 26:15 it says that some can get so lazy that they won't even feed themselves (and will die of starvation). I do not feel guilty about refusing to help a lazy ABP. Thank you God for this wisdom.

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    1. I don't understand the above statement by Anonymous 6:19. Was there something written that was later deleted?

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  23. No phone numbers and personal attacks please. Sorry, I was engrossed in work and didn't check the comment feed for awhile.

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  24. Kevin. I'm a outsider of sorts, my only association With the church happens to be my spouse's parent. I hear the stories of the wrong doings of the church and the lack of freedom the members have. You can understand how I find this particular sect a cult.

    I have a question?
    Could a non member (someone in my situation) be "ousted" or no longer able to be saved?

    How I am understanding everything is that if I become ousted (which would not hurt my feelings) my spouse's parent would no longer be allowed to associate with me, which by default my spouse may be avoided.
    Maybe thinking this could happen is the reason why avoid the church to protect my spouse's relationship with there parent

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    1. Sorry I didn't see this question until now. No, they cannot and will not oust or disfellowship you if you are not first a member. But if anyone in the group gets disfellowshipped, others in good standing wouldn't be allowed to get together socially or eat with them.

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    2. Hard on sin or soft on sin? In the 1980's the Phoenix congregation started eating in their building on Sunday's and the evangelist from Spring Valley CA came in and just chewed the congregation out for this sin. Some years later under a teacher from the failed Albuquerque church the congregation started eating in their building again but this time the evangelist simply said you saw it and took care of it. It was a marked shift from hard on sin to soft on sin and some were quite shocked at this change. Nothing was ever said as to why but at the same time it was noted that the evangelists own children had rejected the gospel and not gotten baptized. Today he works in his adults children business. I see from this that the path to heaven is not to be hard and overbearing on sin but rather soft on sin and forgiving and kind. My what an example can reveal! Too bad for all those who came before his children turned eighteen and forsook their religion.

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  25. It's possible that the relaxing of some of the harsher rules over the years is in response to the pressures of parenting teens. However these changes are welcome, in my opinion, regardless of the motivation.

    Hopefully you don't really consider eating in the building to be a "sin." If so, please share your thoughts on it.

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  26. MY NAME IS TITUS PETERS. MY MOM HAS BEEN A CURRENT MEMBER FOR 35 PLUS YEARS. BUT I HAVE NEVER BEEN A MEMBER & NEVER WILL BE. I WANT TO THANK EVERYBODY FOR THEIR STORIES & INFORMATION. A LOT OF PAIN, GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU.

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    1. All religion is a man's or woman interpetation of the written word: because God does not speak directly to man. The Stanton churchs of christ follow the interpetations of Merie Weiss. If God gives you an understanding of the scriptures that differs from the official held understandings (of Merie Weiss) it is best to keep it to yourself.

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    2. I assume you mean "if you want to remain in good standing with Stanton hierarchy." Otherwise, I think we should speak out. :-)

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    3. Yes that is exactly what I was implying. I left the Church of Christ in Phoenix because it no longer had any of the ten identifying marks on a new testament COC. I was deeply disturbed at the lack of boundaries especially when it came to spanking children. I found out after the fact that many of the "brethren" had been spanking my children without my knowledge of permission. My third daughter the day after being babysat by "mother Marylin" had a bruise across her buttocks in a straight line. I thought maybe she fell backwards and hit the edge of a piece of furniture or something of the like. I was told that "mother Marylin" was spanking my two year old daughter with a wooden dowel because in her words the bible says "spare not the rod" my blood boiled at her. When you bruise a child that is legally defined as child abuse. Pinching, poking, and slapping are also legally defined as child abuse. And when you do it to other peoples children you should be arrested. I watch a 350 lbs man who had beat his own 14 year old son so badly that he ran away, go after another christians 4 year old child for being behind the bushes at the Arizona center for the blind (where worship was held) and a chill ran down my spine because I realized I would have to step in and stop him from hurting this child. I thought it was time to start carrying a loaded .45 to worship to protect the not only my children but others as well from this thug. Then I realized that this is not "the one true church" rather this is "the church of child abusers" and me and my family are not staying here. I wondered why the evangelist sat silent while two men gave talks in which the openly talked about slapping their children in the face. I wondered why the evangelists children refused to get baptized, and I wonder if their was child abuse in the evangelists house also; don't know for sure but I do wonder. I was praying for a righteous black woman to rise up in this wicked church and put these child abusing men and those who have condoned this behavior. It would have to be a black woman because some of these abuser hide their sins behind their race.

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  27. One of the false teachings of "the one true church" is the unwritten commandment: Thou shalt not reprove the evangelist from spring valley, only God reproves him. This is a great lack of love as he is human and in need of reproof like all other humans. Teachers see him do things wrong and say nothing leaving sin on his soul, and this is love? The evangelist has murmured and nobody corrects him. He has made statements before giving judgement like "Is he a good christian?" This implies that there is "bad" christians, this is expressing dissatisfaction with his brethern; murmuring. He has also made statements like "I don't know why these people come around" refering to an older man named Jess who has since passed away. It is through the hope of the Holy Ghost that he might hear something that might cause him to change his ways, again expressing his dissatisfaction with "bad" christians. The church needs a righteous person to stand up for the truth and withdraw from the evangelist from spring valley for his murmuring; does any exist?

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    1. I'm not going to get involved in church politics and calling for certain actions to happen against certain people. I have to operate on the assumption that the leaders' of this sect have good motives and sincerely believe they are instruments for executing God's will. This is a scary place to be as a fallible human.

      Rather than point to all the problems with individuals, however (because we all stand condemned and are in equal need of the grace of God), I'd like us to keep reminding ourselves that reform is not something that has to take place in the sect's organizational ranks or hierarchy. It can, and I hope it does.

      But the really important reform is in the hearts and minds of individual members. As they see that love is indeed the Greatest of all Commands, there will be a growing disconnect between what they see in real life, and what they see in Scripture. Then and only then will the best course of action be apparent to those who still remain in their numbers.

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  28. well I am not a member of this church but am a child of it. I feel bad for all the people that comment here because ur on ur way to hell and you have nothing better to do but vent about how you strayed from god.
    As to marie wise, She branched off because the original church taught against a lot of thing that had no basis. True the church was oppressive but when it was brought to the attention of the church it was fixed.
    As to the May meetings they are not meeting where the "authority" discuss what will be taught on. They are simply a collection of frequently asked questions that need to be awnsered. Now if u were going to make a disicion in a school who would you go to? The eldest most experienced right? That is simply what the church does, sends the eldest most experienced to the meeting to bring back the verdict. However it can still be challenged except for the verdict is always made thru biblical referece.
    This is not nessesarily biblical but are u guys saying that it would be more "right" if the entire thirty-six congregations all met up to dicuss questions. Not at all practical so why not have a few from each church meet up and present what there congregation thought on something and then come to a full agreement on what is right.

    Matthew Ezell even though I don't know you I know ur story. You where constantly murmuring against the older Christians to the younger ones and how dare you put a stumbling block in front of your sons by saying that. Shame on you.

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    1. Your statements are very harsh, you are missing out on the love of God. God is very merciful and kind consider the thief on the cross, a man who deserved no mercy but received it when asked. The COC does not practice the commandment found in John 13:34 to love one another; this is heresy by omission. You are missing out child on the best part of Christianity.

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    2. Anon 10:36, so you defend the church as a child of it, but you are not a member of it? Why is that?

      Your opinions of the church and of Matthew are heavily distorted from reality.

      You say: "As to marie wise, She branched off because the original church taught against a lot of thing that had no basis."

      That may have been what you've been told, but it's not the truth. Actually, *she* taught against things that had no basis, and *they* didn't go along with it. She caused division in the brotherhood over it and they "withdrew" from her for "heresy."

      You say: "True the church was oppressive but when it was brought to the attention of the church it was fixed."

      I'm sorry, but the oppression continues to this day. People are not free to educate their own consciences and abide by them. There's an old saying, "the man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." I know for a fact that people have opinions that differ from the "party line" but they must go through the motions of accepting the "church teachings" that get handed down from May Week. This is intellectual oppression. It stifles true investigation into what the Scriptures mean on any subject. Study becomes an attempt to justify what you already believe, which is exactly what other churches are criticized for by SCOC. Only when one has the intellectual liberty to differ does one have the intellectual capacity to grow.

      You say: "[The church] sends the eldest most experienced to the meeting to bring back the verdict. However it can still be challenged except for the verdict is always made thru biblical reference."

      This is nothing more than political determination of doctrine. It's no different than any other denominational convention that "decides doctrine" for the rest of the group. You can spin it however you want, but I've seen it practiced in real life, and the net result is that people accept what comes out of May Week because they know they'll be considered less spiritual if they don't. Everyone is incentivized to "go with the flow" and anyone who dares "speak truth to power" is ostracized.

      You say: "You where constantly murmuring against the older Christians to the younger ones and how dare you put a stumbling block in front of your sons..."

      You've made my points about intellectual oppression exactly. Matthew has been very careful to present the facts in a loving way without being harsh or vindictive. He simply reports what happened. When exposing the inner workings of SCOC to the world gets you ostracized for "murmuring," you know there's something wrong.

      The church considers all criticism of its teachings to be "murmuring" because it finds dissent threatening to its power. That's the truth of the matter.

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    3. Anon 6:10, well said. "You are missing out child on the best part of Christianity."

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    4. The worst victims of the oppression in the COC was and still is the children. The children suffered the physical abuse in many of the congregations, and also suffered the verbal abuse as well. Today some of them are adults and have never known love at all, not parental love, and not spiritual love. They come to this blog for a reason: to find the love they never received as children. I open my heart and hands to these seeking souls and tell them that they will be loved and treated decently here. Let us do our duty as Christians and show them the love of God (for the first time in their lives.)

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    5. Anon 6:35, amen and thank you for your voice. We need to keep reminding ourselves that this blog is not about winning arguments but ministering to hearts who have been soured to the love and grace of God.

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    6. Brethren be aware that the child of the church is simply repeating what is being said in the home. I put out some strong reproof against child abuse and bigotry here on this blog and it got to the people it was meant for. God's word does not return void, you get an answer back. The Christians conscience have been pricked and they are murmuring to their teenage children about it and the child is trying to defend their parents. Are we all going to hell who post on here? The evangelist from Spring Valley has posted on here is he going to hell also? God works in mysterious ways, and quickly too!

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    7. What proof do you have that the evangelist from S.V. posted on here?

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  29. I, for one, have not turned my back on God. I pray to him every day and keep his commandments. If you read my story you will see that oppression has not been fixed. Especially in the congregation I am from. When my health turned for the worst I was constantly castigated for years for not doing as much as the congregation thought I could. I was no novice, nor a babe. Because I couldn't live up to others' expectations I was constantly confronted by people, classes and sermons were filled with me being the subject, and it was even brought out in a sermon how I was wrong in following an Evangelist's wife's counsel.

    The lack of love in the congregation is huge. I was told it was there even when I came back in 1999. In the last two Sunday fellowships that my family, and I, attended my two children were on the blanket with the other children and the other children were feed except mine.

    All I ever wanted was the support of my brethren in my time of need, but was told I was selfish for wanting it. I asked if during the personal work nights that brethren could just bring come and we can go over the scriptures together and was told that they can't do that. My wife heard that one.

    First you have to ask, what sin did I leave the church for? None. Then I had to ask how can these things be right in the sight of God? How can anybody treat another Christian like this? Even King David refused to lay a hand on the anointed of God when Saul sought to kill David. How can I worship my God in a congregation that treats members this way? Who's not right in the sight of God is anybody who oppresses his people.

    "Offenses will come, but woe unto him by whom they come."

    I'm not saying that everybody who has posted here is correct, but read all the stories and see the pattern that Kevin and others are trying to portray. There is a real lack of love towards certain members in a lot of these congregations that people are either not seeing or they are refusing to see. A lot of our teens saw that and a most of them will not become members. I was told this by some of them.

    The church is more than just attendance. It is community and a body that strengthens themselves by all playing parts of the body.

    2 Corinthians 1:5-7 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

    These scriptures mean nothing if I make the moto of the church, "ask not what the church can do for you, but what you can do for the church". This was repeatedly said when I looked to my brethren consolation. I was threatened with withdrawl if I didn't quit bringing it up.

    I brought these charges and many others to outside the congregation for help in these matters only to be cut off by our new preacher and teacher saying that the one I reached out to will believe them over me because they have greater status. I reached out to one of the Evangelists and was ignored. I then reached out to the other one only for it to back fire on me because he personally knew the ones who were new to us and supported them. I was torn apart that Sunday sermon and compared to another teacher who had such a lack of love for people that the church kicked her and her husband out in 2001.




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    1. What was my crime? After seven discs in my back dying, three compressed discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, degenerative arthritis, and scoliosis kept me from a lot of classes and looking to looking to my brethren for a phone call every once in a while to share with me the classes I missed. My crime was not living up to their specification (I was always compared to other people), I wasn't pushing the flesh like most people were telling me to do, and the fact that I didn't like hearing it all the time (whenever I would call to say I wasn't coming most people would say that).

      When I tried to point these things out it was said that I was attacking the church.

      As I said before, the things I have written on this blog don't even scratch the surface of what goes on there and I wasn't the one to suffer this and there is no room here to start that either.

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  30. this is the last time I will look at this blog, God probably doesn't like that I did what I did. Kevin do you and matthew go to the same church? probably not, so where is the divine conection. as TO WHOEVER SAID THAT WE CHILDEREN RECIEVCE ABUSE IS WRONG. I have never been abused, spanked yes but not abused and I have talked to kids from several congregations about how they get treated and all r positive. The things written on this blog are all lies or at least things that happened 30 years ago. I hope that one dayyou men of god( if you haven't already lost the holy spirit) are able to make it back to the one true church and thrive and make it to the end goal of heaven. Consider these things you guys are poseing as satan and trying to turn my back to the church.

    On the judgement day you will remember this post and wish dearly that you had changed your ways and became righteous. I truly hope you can make it back.

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    1. Dear Child of the Church: I am going to back you on your belief. A good part of my life was spent in the Church he is judging and so many of the writings in this blog are very dishonest. There is a ring of truth to the comments but with a twist. If you try to correct the 'twist' you are met with Kevin Harper's swift correction and a barrage of scriptures to back him. I have seen this kind of reaction given by many other religions when debating the Stanton Churches. Their teachings are right on spot. Their love for one another is exemplary and their love of souls is seen through their many good works. These churches of Christ are a rock in a storm of other Churches of Christ that are burdened with a weak kind of doctrine that will save no one.

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    2. @Concerned are you a current member?

      Can you enlighten as as to some "dishonesty" on the blog? I'm talking about articles and blog posts I've written. The only power I have over comments is to delete inappropriate comments and engage conversation with people who disagree. I've made every attempt to do that respectfully and biblically, even when certain commenters are intent on avoiding any scriptural discussion.

      I haven't shut down any conversation here simply because someone disagrees with me. That's what SCOC does, not me. I've asked since the beginning of this blog for SCOC to engage in an open, transparent conversation about subjects based on scripture. To date, leaders have preferred to remain in the shadows, protected by anonymity, throwing stones. That is not "reasoning together" as the scriptures say.

      God bless.

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    3. Child abuse is one of the Goliaths in "the one true church". I saw a preacher in Boise Idaho withdrawn from for verbally abusing his children calling them "stupid" and "Dummy" and words to that effect. One of his daughters came to live in Phoenix and was part of the church here. She was a Christian and had a four year old boy out of wedlock (prior to becoming a Christian) She would correct her son by flicking him in the upper lip and did this publicly and even encouraged other Christians to do the same. I tried to give her four year old a hug one day and he cold and distant emotionally. I saw that child abuse is not only chronic but generational also. Child abuse is cyclical; the abused child grows up to abuse their children. The cycle of child abuse has to be broken, not ignored. Christians need to be taught what proper discipline is, i.e. Discipline only in private, public discipline humiliates the child and encourages ridicule from other children. Discipline is to be done only by the child's parents and no one else, when others discipline the child it becomes confused as to who is the authority to be listened to. Discipline is to be one swat on the behind, and not on the legs, back, arms, and especially never to the face. This problem will take years to correct and overcome as many of the abused children grow up and have children of their own.

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    4. One overlooked part of child abuse in the church is the silence of the spouses as it was being committed. How do these "Christian" women stand there in silence and watch their babies being abused by the "Christian" fathers? The laws of the land would hold these spouses responsible when they do nothing to protect their babies. This is one of the oppressions of "the one true church" the teachers and preachers will handle the abuse.(and nothing was done to stop it) I have children who were abused by "grandmother" Christians during babysitting and today as adults some of my children are atheist and hate anything to do with religion. This is a great grief to me as the father, had I know what these "grandmothers" were doing I would have called the police and had them arrested. One Grandmother (from Portland) would watch children go to the bathroom. I thought this was strange, but she was the mother watching her own adopted daughter(age 12) use the restroom (and this was done publicly during bible studies, where everyone could see it happening) Only later did I learn that this "grandmother" was doing this "watching" of other peoples children as well during the babysitting at her house. Has anyone else ever seen this type of behavior? Am I the only one who finds this behavior a little strange? Child abuse affects families for several generation if the cycle is not broken. And it was not only the wives who condoned this behavior, some of the husbands were silent as well. Is this how Christians are to behave in "the one true church"?

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  31. O and kevin I am only a teenager so I am not accountable yet but when I am I will become a christen.

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    1. 1) No one said all children in the church were abused. I was not abused. What's true is that some were, and that this abuse was on advice of teachers in the church. That is not even in question. That's a fact.

      2) I can relate to your defensiveness of the church--I was just like you from my early teens to early 20's--basically until I had more Bible knowledge of my own from my own independent study of the scriptures. All I'm suggesting is that you do like Mary and "tuck these things away in your heart" for when you're more ready to face them. I feel for you, my friend, but if you will investigate the scriptures with an open mind and a sincere heart, you will find that SCOC is not and cannot be what they claim it to be...the One True Church, outside of which everyone is going to hell. And I say that from someone who believed that at one point and learned better.

      3) And the rule that says teenagers are not accountable is where in the Bible? The whole concept of a "teenager" not being an adult is a fabrication of our culture, not the Bible. In Bible times, teens were adult enough to go to war, get married, start families, etc. Teens who were abusive of their parents could even be subject to capital punishment. If that's not accountability, I don't know what is.

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    2. I hope that the abuse has stopped, that child abuse is taught against. My children were abused by older christian women who were babysitting them. I never gave my permission for anyone to spank my children, they did this without my knowledge or consent. Whenever you bruise a child you have committed child abuse and should be dealt with accordingly. My other complaint is the double standard that exists one parent commits child abuse and is withdrawn from and another does the same thing and it is condoned. I am glad that you have not seen the abuse that I have had to witness it was truly revolting.

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  32. and lynn reading back I must tell that I receive more love from my family and the church then you can possibly imagine. Talk about insulting, telling me that I have not been loved. the only love I would get from the likes of you are little postcards. Keep your two cents to yourself and I don't care how old you are.All you guys talk about is how bad the church is( which it is not) and nothing about how crummy you r lives r now. bye and I will not be posting anything else on this blog again

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    1. 1) Again, no one is telling you that you weren't loved. I was loved. But believe me, there were some kids who did not have a loving childhood as a result of the teachings and discipline practices of SOME church members, AS TAUGHT by the church hierarchy. That is a fact not even in dispute.

      2) The point of this blog is to expose the unbiblical doctrines of the church, so of course the bulk of the content here is going to be about problems with the church. That doesn't make it a gripe session as long as the problems being discussed are (a) real, and (b) discussed with a Biblical basis.

      Church leaders are welcome to provide rebuttals, either on this blog, or on a website of its own. Instead, it has chosen to remain in the shadows and throw stones at people here, using non-member children as proxies.

      3) My life isn't crummy at all. I've been deeply blessed by God with a wife of 25 years, 7 kids including 4 bio, 3 adopted, and many foster kids over the years. None of my kids hate God--I'm not saying they're perfect, but all are baptized believers (except the 7 y.o. of course) and none of them have turned their back on God, as many children of the SCOC have done. I only say this because the SCOC likes to paint a picture of everyone outside its walls as hellbound, unhappy, and dysfunctional. That's simply not the case. It's a myth.

      God is alive and well outside SCOC, my friend. I hope you come to figure that out in time.

      Challenge me all you want, I can handle it, but let's have respectful conversations based on the Bible and the facts and try to truly understand each other.

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    2. AnonymousApril 28, 2015 at 12:11 AM

      What post cards? I have sent no post cards or correspondence of any kind to anybody. I don't know who you are, nor have I ever said anything to you outside of this blog.

      One of the biggest things I have seen in the church is indifference and preferring. There are a lot of people who don't see or are subject to the lack of love some people have. Just because I don't see something happening doesn't mean that it didn't happen. In the congregation I belonged to there were some great Christians that were very loving and would give anything they could for the brotherhood, but there are also some, mostly in the hierarchy, who don't show the love that we are told to have for each other.

      There was a couple times I traveled down to San Diego and spent the whole Sunday with them. I was sure accepted of them and was a joy all around. I loved it.

      I think, sometimes, when it comes to dealing with your brethren and their sins, faults, or even infirmities that people fail to temper justice with mercy. Our purpose here isn't to police or castigate our brethren when they are down. We are supposed to be there as a support for them. Even Jesus said that he came not to condemn. He was called the physician for a reason.

      You speak of judgement, but I think that a lot of people don't consider that I will be judged on how I treated the people of God.

      I don't disagree with the COC. I disagree with how certain members are handling the word of God.

      Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

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  33. Narcissistic personality involves a firm set of beliefs and attitudes of superiority, uniqueness, and being special; and in particular the idea that other people should recognize the same and defer to you. A narcissist personality leads to a person seeking and expecting constant attention and admiration from other often at others expense. The narcissist typically doesn't have much empathy for others feelings or rights with a basic justification that they are more important than others. I knew that there were unwritten rules in the COC and these are it. My teachers expected my constant attention and admiration of them; when they were present I was to shut up and give them the preeminence, that is let them lead and dominate all conversations. When I lead a bible class I was to call on the teacher to do the opening and closing prayers and to have the teacher answer all questions. I made the mistake once of assuming that in my house I was the authority, wrong! Even in your own home you are expected to let the narcissist usurp (take away) your authority. To advance you had to praise the narcissist teacher in front of others. Mother Marilyn put it this way: When Hazel came to Phoenix we would all pretend to be excited and start organizing a fellowship in her honor, (that is to sit and listen to her.) Hazel would take out her little box of recorded confessions and start asking you about a confession you had made some time in the past and how you were doing with that particular sin. After Hazels departure we were so relieved that we no longer had to pretend that we like her. I finally realized one day that this church no longer talked about Christ or Christian virtues but rather how great the narcissist teacher was. That is when I left.

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    1. Narcissism is alive and well. Very good diagnosis Anonymous at 7:17. I remember when I was 20 and I was really afraid I was a narcissist. But I do like giving others recognition. My church was the same. I had a problem when I was a young child in basketball with ball-hogging. For those unfamiliar with basketball, that means you don't pass the ball and you shoot it constantly. Basically it means selfish. Well, in the church there are a lot of spiritual ball-hogs. A lot of teachers who want all the glory, all the credit, and won't suffer anyone to correct them. If a principle is right, and good for the church, but a sinner finds the principle, the teacher will crush the sinner before they will ever admit the principle or use it to help the church. To them, if someone younger than them gets something right, they feel that is usurping the teachers authority. They are extremely thin-skinned. If a member of the church talks about the teacher, that is considered murmuring, and withdrawable, but if the teacher talks openly about members of the church, that is not called gossip, that is "rebuking before all that all may fear".

      The lack of love is breathtaking. The preachers have very little problem with withdrawals, but they rarely if ever invite "spiritually weak" brethren over for dinner. But let a teacher or preacher visit and they will be staying at no one's home but the local teacher and preacher. I used to wonder why I never could expect to have a TC or GP at my home. I understand now only teachers and preachers have them over. Commoners don't get that privilege. So there is a church hierarchy system. Kind of like in India, they have a caste system. The Brahmins are at the top, and at the bottom are the untouchables. If you deal with certain issues you are a member of the Stanton Church of Christ untouchables. Never mind the bible saying the those who are the least comely among you deserve the most honor, or the treatment of the Prodigal Son, all that is lost on Stanton, the parable of the laborers where four laborers each coming to labor at different hours all received the same wages has been reinvented by Stanton. According to Stanton, the Laborer coming in the morning would be the current teachers, who are accorded more glory and honor because they didn't sin. Stanton firmly believes the Laborer coming in the morning and afternoon actually got paid more than the one coming in the evening, because Stanton is the incarnation of the works based Pharisees. Vainly trying to rely on their moral works to justify their path to heaven. Going to be sadly dissappointed when they show up for Judgement Day and are dismissed for violating the second commandment which is to love your brother, which you cannot do when you are feeling and acting like a self righteous prig.

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    2. How I realized this was when they would display a discontent for my non compliance to whatever I knew was wrong teaching and/or instruction. I am no novice to Christianity and the scriptures and would not just blindly follow whatever I was told to do.

      It seemed that you would lose favor if you didn't do whatever they told you to do. It would even build up to not taking teaching if you didn't do what they said and the way they said it.

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    3. ML, I agree with you in that if you are younger you have no status. I wasn't a preacher, at any time, but did a lot of studying and learned a lot. I love speaking the scriptures and found it hard to get close to the preachers and teachers. I didn't have their desired status.

      Remember the account of where Jesus sat with the sick and sinners. He said that they are the ones that needed the healing. I always saw it as the opposite of that in the church. If you were in need and/or were working on things then you were almost an outcast.

      God doesn't look for the perfection that a lot of preachers/teachers expect. As a preacher/teacher you should be spending more time with who need you. If the preachers/teachers spent as much time with each other helping those who need them then maybe a lot more growth would happen.

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  34. I remembered listening to a Merie tape ( and I listened to many ). On this occasion she made a bold statement to the class that she was their Mother in Christ. I think it was my first year with the sect but I knew there was something wrong. I now know that this is true narcissism. I have studied ferociously for years. I have found nothing that alludes to a women bringing the Church out of the pit of hell. But I followed for years keeping everything to myself. But I was and still am in some respect a follower of confidence. My door knocker was very confident! Has anyone asked God for death? I remember thinking when I had thought that all my sins were legally covered it would be ok to die. I also thought about my wife and children the same way. If my children would be taken with me then they have an automatic appointment in paradise. The Alternative was if they make it to adulthood then they would have a 1 in 100million chance of making it. How sick are these thoughts!? Fortunately they all made it to be wonderful adults. Just another couple reasons.

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    1. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as MOTHERS; the younger as sisters.

      This is why we call the church our family. The older men we respect as FATHERS, the younger women as SISTERS, we call the younger men BROTHERS, should we call that narcissistic? Or just in the case of Merie Weiss. Better get your motive straight.

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    2. False teaching, rampant child abuse, teacher worship, better open your eyes pharisee.

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    3. Concerned on July 15,
      1 Timothy is full of wonderful principles to live by. However Merie expressed that she was the Mother in the faith with the sense that she had no peers. So the principals written to Timothy so many years ago are not applicable to her because the only elder to her is Christ himself and any under her are simply children. I'm not trying to bash Merie and I do apologize if it sounds that way. I believe through listening to her audio tapes that she suffered from narcissism. As Forest Gump would say "That's all I got to say bout that". I am curious though. You said I better get my motives straight. What do you surmise they are that I have to straighten them. All the best to you and yours,

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    4. Hey anon at 8:26pm, I'm so glad that you spoke up and asked concerned why he/she questioned your motive. It puzzled me too, and I had to ask "where did that come from?"
      In my dealings with ones in the Stanton group, I would find that they used this technique quite often. When you questioned something, they would turn it around onto you. Suddenly, it was all about you and your sin/problem.
      Concerned, I'm not saying that is what you did, or that that is your motive. I'm only asking "where did that come from?" Ones were discussing narcissism and was it appropriate for Merie and others to refer to her as "Mother"? I think you answered well, until you added "better get your motive straight."
      You see, it APPEARS that you surmised anon had an evil motive for saying what he/she did. Whether you intended it or not, your statement (not question) inferred that what anon had to say was wrong because of a wrong motive.
      This is a technique that the Stanton group uses quite often. It's subtle, not obvious. When used, it can cause the so called "offender" to go away and question themselves and to STOP questioning things.
      As to whether or not Merie could call herself "Mother" and for others to call her that also-for a group that lauds itself as "speaking where the bible speaks and being silent here the bible is silent", I ask where in the bible is any woman called "Mother" in the sense that Merie is/was?
      I see "sister", and I see "brother", even Jesus was referred as a "brother" to us. I see where God is called "Father", but I don't see "Mother".
      You see, sister and brother makes us equal. To call someone mother or father makes them superior to us. And I think that is the point that ones are trying to make here.

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    5. Concerned at 10:24: I can understand what you are saying about ones being considered as mothers to those of us who are younger in the faith. And perhaps Merie did see herself as a mother, and looked at ones who came into the Stanton group as if they were indeed her children.
      But what I saw while I was in Portland was that she was referred to as "Mother Merie", and it was said with the same kind of reverence as when Catholics would refer to "Mother Theresa". And some of those who would say "Mother Merie" never knew her.
      When I read 1Timothy 5, I don't see Paul telling anyone there that we are to call ones Mother. Instead, what I see is Paul instructing ones on how to treat those who are older physically, as well as how we should be treating each other. "Intreat" means to ask earnestly, or to persuade. We aren't to speak harshly to them, but to persuade them as we would our own mother or father.
      What was Merie's motive? Who knows! But I do know that she did teach a lot of people and they were baptized because of it. I like to think she loved them and saw them as a mother of sorts to them! :)
      And I know Freda, and I know she is loving too and is responsible for teaching many and leading them to being baptized. I don't know how she views them or herself in relation to them, we would have to ask her. And I don't know how she would feel in being called "Mother Freda", that's a question for her. From what I remember of her, she has a humble spirit and heart.
      But lets not digress off of the original point. Does the bible say we are to call "spiritualy leaders" Mother"? Or for that matter, "Father?"

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    6. Concerned;
      Again I am done with the narcissism point but I am eagerly awaiting your response to what you surmise my motives are? Sincerely,

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  35. The comment "better get your motive straight" comes from an arrogant mind and not the conscience mind. The arrogant have a superiority complex and this is one way of showing their superiority. In Pr 8:13 it says that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride , arrogancy, and the evil way and the froward mouth do I hate. Hate arrogancy in yourself first, keep your self humble, say what is necessary but do not try and get the last word in, or make the last backbiting remark to show your superiority. Scripture is enough to correct arrogancy only takes away from the power of the scripture.

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    1. Save this council for anon 8:26.

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