Shunned Andrew Watch: Mars Hill Cult Excommunicates Member Who Wouldn’t Write Out His Sexual History

The sheer fanatic creepiness of this is worthy of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The following appeared yesterday at the Christianity Today website:

Over the last month, several blogs have discussed the case of Andrew, a member of Mars Hill Church’s Ballard, Washington, campus. Andrew (his last name has been omitted from all accounts) told Matthew Paul Turner’s eponymous blog that he had cheated on his fiancée and told his community group about it (as well as about the physical nature of his relationship with his fiancée). That led to a series of church discipline meetings and, eventually, Andrew said, he was asked to sign a contract promising that he would not “pursue or date any woman,” would “not be involved in serving” in the church and would write a detailed sexual history. When he said that he would instead leave the church, the pastor overseeing the discipline posted a letter to the community group’s social networking site announcing that he was being excommunicated. “Associate with Andrew only for the purpose of admonishment and restoration,” the letter said. “Refrain from associating with Andrew in social setting such as: eating a meal, attending a concert or movie together.”

Date no women, have no hope of ever achieving status within the group, and write out a detailed sexual history for the leaders of the cult to read and smirk at among themselves in private?

Seriously?

Andrew’s sin here was honesty—he was more honest about his infidelities than most men, and the truth could not be tolerated.

Enter the scapegoat. Now Andrew’s got the scarlet letter A on his symbolic person for all the other little scared and mousy cult members to shriek from.

Don’t eat with Andrew! He’s from the enemy! He might pollute our group’s mental purity!

It’s enough to make one want to become that other A: an atheist.

Below is the cult’s tribal chief, Marc Driscoll, threatening outsiders with eternal torture at the hand of God. It makes a mockery of religion and reason to speak of God so crassly—as Dick Cheney in the sky with dungeons—but Driscoll postures as a tough guy, an anti-intellectual, so he does it, callously and stupidly, lacking any decent sense of proportion.

It’s hardly surprising, in such a hysterical environment, that the cult’s followers might also try to dominate and torture one another emotionally before death as well (as appears to have happened to Andrew):

_____

By the way, when I used the phrase, “Cheney in the sky with dungeons,” I was pleased with myself, and couldn’t help but think of the “foothills of the headlands”:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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51 Responses to Shunned Andrew Watch: Mars Hill Cult Excommunicates Member Who Wouldn’t Write Out His Sexual History

  1. andrewclunn says:

    But Cheney is okay with homosexuality. Clearly far to lenient to represent God :P

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully Mark’s response is satisfactory. Security volunteers (especially those in leadership) are held to a much higher standard, and rightfully so. Some of our members are former prostitutes, and need protection from people from their former lives by people they can trust to love and view them as treasured sisters, not as trashy objects. Security teams protect them, as well as children in our children’s ministry. As members of the body, we are called to love Andrew, but also to offer a safe haven for those most vulnerable to young men struggling with secret sexual addictions. I too have signed the contract and gone through the discipline process, for secret extramarital consensual sexual sin with an adult – my leadership pastor was very gracious and patient throughout the process, and I was restored with unconditional love. I was also encouraged to date again after a period of reflection and personal growth, as would Andrew. However harsh it may seem, a purpose of the membership contract is to weed out pedophiles and sex addicts from serving in that capacity, and the proposed agreement to abstain from dating women FOR A SEASON, NOT FOREVER, was to allow him to get the help he needs, and was completely reasonable, given the circumstances.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Security teams? You mean people designated to police the behavior of other members? Hmm.

      Could you please share with me how that works, exactly?

      I, personally, wouldn’t want to be in a group where people actively policed the sex life and other private behaviors of the group. It would seem to make of adults children.

      Why do you submit to such policing yourself?

      —Santi

  3. Anonymous says:

    We have security guards Sunday mornings to protect certain women from certain horrible people in their past, as well as to prevent an incident like we had about six or seven years ago, where an outsider tried to knife one of our pastors mid-sermon. These security guards also keep our kids safe from outsiders who might come in to molest them. The membership covenants might sound harsh, but they’re there for good reason — to protect members of the body of believers who would be most harmed by pedophiles and sex addicts. If you volunteer for these teams as Andrew did, you are held to a higher standard than the average member. We want our women who have been sexually abused to trust that those who are protecting them from people in their past are viewing them as sisters to protect, not as sex objects.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Well, I appreciate your honesty, and I understand the desire to be safe, but your group sounds unusually besieged.

      Are you quite sure the protection of women and children from sex addicts and pedophiles isn’t a rationalization for what is, in fact, an excessive degree of group policing? You can encounter bad people in any public setting.

      And why are the women and children being treated like frail glass objects ready to break at any moment?

      Have there been people in your life who have told you they believe you are in a cult? Do you ever wonder about this yourself?

      —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        I come from a nonChristian family, and none of them think I’m in a cult. They’ve seen my life change for the better and encourage my membership at MHC. Yes, ministering to drug addicts and prostitutes will result in greater security needs, but we preach that Jesus is for the crack addict and prostitute as much as he is for the wholesome pastor’s kid. Having stricter background checks and sexual accountability for those who voluntarily work with children and protect women who have been severely traumatized by sexual assault and abuse is not cultish – it’s smart management strategy – look at what happened with the Catholic Church when some priests turned out to be pedophiles! We love our kids too much to not impose restrictions. Andrew knew better: he was reminded exactly who he was guarding and why it was important that the women and children he guarded trust him. The contract and letter wouldn’t have made it beyond his small group had he not run to the bloggers to have it published: ironically he is responsible for the majority of the public humiliation he suffered. Yet Mars Hill continues not to name him, to protect his identity and keep damage to a minimum. At Mars Hill we teach there are two different kinds of lies: outright lies and half truths intended to be deception. I have been through the same disciplinary process (as a WOMAN) for similar circumstances. There was a very practical reason he may have been asked to divulge the names of women he was involved in sexually: to be tested for stds (which don’t require penetration to spread), and to warn these other women if necessary. What he was being asked to do was not unreasonable, especially given the serving position he was in and that he was caught in many deceptions. Notice how he only confessed when he realized his fiance would confess if he didn’t, and he rushed to give his side of the story first, when she may have been too devastated to react (oh, sorry honey, I have a girlfriend on the side and um, do you have sores?). There is a huge difference between “I’m sorry” and “I’m sorry I got caught.” The former shows true repentance, a desire to stay away from what is tempting me to sin, the latter asks how close to sin can I get and still get away with it. I too have been through the discipline process for extramarital sex, etc, but it was nothing like Andrew describes. But then again, I didn’t volunteer directly with kids or to protect severe sexual abuse victims.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Your honesty is appreciated. I think you’re giving an awful lot of your autonomy away, however, to be a part of this group. It sounds cultic to me.

        The day-to-day world is neither as dangerous, nor are people as frail, as your group believes. Sensible adults can supervise their children sensibly. Of course, you don’t leave young children alone with adult male strangers. That’s just stupid.

        It sounds paranoid in the way your group leaders justify the whole accountability model of discipleship you’ve got going. You’re definitely deep in a game to which growth and doubt in directions other than those sanctioned are difficult to achieve.

        Do you ever doubt the teachings of Mars Hill and what’s in the Bible, and if you do, what is it that you doubt?

        —Santi

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Sensible adults can supervise their children sensibly.” You’re making the assumption that all parents in this congregation always make sensible choices for their children. We’re all sinners, so we’re all a work in progress. And where we see a parent potentially being neglectful in their background checks of their childcare providers (us), we step in and do strict accountability to 1) protect the children as Jesus would want us to and 2) on a practical matter, to avoid legal liability from grownups who were abused as children because somebody was neglectful in their management of daycare workers. “Of course, you don’t leave young children alone with adult male strangers. That’s just stupid.” Most children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know and trust personally — a teacher, a family friend, a parent, a sibling…. the list goes on and on. While thank God our strict accountability has so far avoided any known cases of child molestation, this is one area where we are VERY careful because we love the kids so much. We don’t even allow adult childcare workers to take the kids to use the toilet if there isn’t at least one other adult childcare volunteer present. Same with changing diapers for the infants and toddlers not yet potty trained: have to be done in the presence of at least one other witness. Just out of curiousity, how many trafficked women/prostitutes and/or drug dealers do you personally know? Your statement comes across as very naive: the day to day world in which these people live, especially those with children, IS far more dangerous than that of the average suburban mom, Those with the courage to leave that lifestyle are often harassed by their abusive ex-pimps and ex-pushers, which is a reason we have security, so they can feel a safe haven on Sundays, at least. That’s loving them as Jesus would. Those women with psycho ex-boyfriends/wifebeater ex-husbands/crazy ex-pimps with children can rest assured that if they leave their kids with us, their psycho from the past would have to get through our security teams first.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      As someone with small children myself, I appreciate your vigilance with regard to child care.

      But “security teams” for Sunday morning services sound excessive.

      —Santi

  5. Anonymous says:

    When it comes to protecting members with pasts like some of our members do, security guards are instructed to give up autonomy in a way that reflects Christ’s sacrifice for us: Someone threatens an ex-drug dealer or ex-prostitute member with a knife or a bullet, you are the human shield, especially for the members most vulnerable who literally may not have anybody else to stand up for them. Some crazy angry parent with restraining order or limited court supervised access to kids wants to take away his/her child in childcare to spite the other parent, again, the security guards are the human shield. These are real and actual scenarios that have and do exist — especially when you have members that don’t come from the stereotypical suburbanite Sunday morning background.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Sorry to sound naive, but has law and order really broken down so drastically in Washington state that all these extra volunteer security patrols have to be in place for Sunday services to proceed with relative calm?

      It seems weird to me.

      What’s your church’s teaching on doubt? Is it encouraged, or is it something to be pushed down as coming from the devil?

      —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        Not excessive when a significant enough number of your congregants are former prostitutes, rape incest victims, and/or drug dealers, of whose socio-psychological origins you appear to not be personally familiar, or I don’t think you would be publicly posting many of the things you are (and yes, you are coming across as very naïve and rather callous – would you accuse a recent rape victim as being a frail wimp to his or her face for residual terror from the attack? And yet you are accusing us of being the cruel ones!). Why have these people we fiercely love wait five minutes for a police car if we have someone willing to be a human shield for within five seconds because they know you personally and love you? (It’s actually funny that you mention law and order in Washington State, because some of the people who trained our security guards have Washington State law enforcement backgrounds!). It’s for psychological comfort for some of our members who come from the most horrific recent backgrounds of abuse as well as physical safety, to know that there are people who care that much for you that they would be literally willing to lay their lives down for you if you were threatened (and many of them have been)? And no, not all doubt is from Satan. For example, I and many readers are doubting your credibility right now. You appear to have jumped the church bashing bandwagon without bothering to get both sides of the story….

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        If, as you admit, cops can be at a scene of disturbance in Washington state in 5 minutes, then the overwrought language justifying security teams inside a church—“Like Jesus, we’ll die protecting our ex-prostitutes, etc.”—is theatrics.

        There’s a reason people pay taxes and the state reserves the monopoly of force for itself. It’s precisely to eliminate the need for independent vigilante organizations. Just as states don’t really need “militias” with citizens playing soldier in the woods on weekends, so churches don’t need security teams.

        If there’s ever a problem, you call 911.

        That’s not me being callous, that’s me asking you why you’re not doubting what goes on within your church more: when you doubt the Bible or the church you attend, what do you doubt, and what do you then say to yourself to make the doubt go away?

        —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        Kinf of like that guy who rushed to the stage and tried to knife the pastor in under five minutes? I’ve personally been involved in reporting and resolving domestic disputes in Washington that took the police at least fifteen minutes to get to the scene of the crime, which by then the crime had already occured. When I said five minutes, I was being generous (there have been times as a member of the local courts system where I came across chilling police reports where it took the police up to twenty minutes to get to the scene of the domestic violence crime, during which sadly the majority of the damage had been done). I think of the time not too long ago when I saw a guy near my apartment slapping a girl around. After I called the cops and informed the sobbing girl and her abusive ex (who was yelling at me to go away because it was “none of my business”) that I wasn’t leaving until the cops came, he practically dragged her into his apartment, murmuring lovingly to her, “it’s ok, baby, we’ll work things out.” I put my ear to the door and listened, because if the cops came (and they came in precisely 8 minutes, I remember giving the report),

      • Anonymous says:

        (Continued), if he was still beating her before the cops came, I wanted there to be a witness. Well, she answered the door, and she had makeup on to cover the bruises, and she told the cops there was “nothing to see.” And that it was a misunderstanding. Well the cops didn’t believe her, and searched the apartment. There was a knife under the bed, fresh blood, and clumps of hair that he had freshly ripped out of her head. They lifted her black sweater (whose color hid the bleeding well: it was raining so that could explain the wetness), and saw the blood. All in 8 minutes. Sorry, not theatrics. As someone who has read thousands of said reports for a living, it’s not theatrics, and only gets worse when you enter the world of trafficked and prostituted women, where such occurances are commonplace, every day. Do you claim to be an expert on domestic violence? Also, it’s funny that you’re mentioning taxes supporting the criminal justice system and the lack of need for vigilante organizations in Washington State. We are in a recession, and taxes are going down. As taxes go down, budgets get cut, as budgets get cut, and as budgets get cut, people get fired. When people get fired, response times increase, and the need for neighborly care increases (as a church we are aware of these needs, as we asked City Council not too long ago what their greatest needs were and how we could best serve the city, and one of these needs they listed and asked us to serve was ironically neighborhood watch groups for crime or suspicious activity in gang riddled neighborhoods where prostitution is most rampant). In addition, as budgets are cut, I personally have watched as the average time it takes for a domestic violence case to go from arraignment (first appearence) to final sentencing triple, sometimes taking over a year if you have a clever enough defense attorney. In the meantime, we protect our members and make them feel safe, both psychologically and physically, not because we HAVE to, but because we want to love them as Jesus did.

      • Anonymous says:

        The more I’m interacting with you, the less concerned you seem with Andrew’s situation and the members’ well being, and the more it seems like you are using this situation as a personal vendetta against Christians in general, and you’re using a delicate situation of which you have no personal knowledge as a platform to hate on Christians and accuse them of horrible things they didn’t do and discredit nice things they do. I am a woman with an advanced degree who was encouraged by leadership in my graduate endeavors to serve the weak and hungry. I likewise rejoice when a barren woman in her late thirties who was told by her doctor she would never have children gets pregnant and has a child. Why do you mock and sneer at these friendships? Why do you mock. And sneer at this service? If you think our collaborations with City Council in crime prevention in the midst of the budget crisis are so horrible, why don’t you move to Seattle and volunteer yourself where the needs are greatest? Then perhaps you will see why some of these congregants, whom you callously call “frail”, are indeed very vulnerable and need special care if we are to follow Christ’s commands to love and protect our neighbors.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Here’s a video where Steven Pinker talks about his new book:

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I get it. Man is a wolf to man (and woman). And you live with it day in and day out; it takes front and center in your attention. Your life is one long episode of Cops without commercials.

      But maybe you need to get out more and breath some fresh air. (Maybe that’s what religion is for you—fresh air.)

      I’m perhaps over-influenced by Steven Pinker’s new book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” which I recommend to you. The thesis is that violence, historically, has long been trending down and that we actually live in a world that is far less violent than it was in the past.

      It may look bad from your vantage, and you may think that individuals are especially feeble before threats and need elaborate protections beyond what the law generally provides. I don’t buy it. Something weird is going on in the governing structure of your church. It sounds too strict and authoritarian. No church in America needs 20-something guys wearing aviator glasses and buffed out from going to the gym “policing” church services.

      Such behavior deserves your doubt, at the very least.

      The sun does come out each morning, and there’s another side to living in America as well. There’s such a thing as being too vigilant and too untrusting of the world outside of your group. Yes, there are psychopaths in the world, but it’s not hard to figure them out and avoid them. Learning to assert yourself, think critically, and doubt is more valuable than adding police security to your every move.

      Out of curiosity, is your church a promoter of young earth creationism and a literal Noah’s flood, or can its parishioners believe the general narrative of science taught at universities (that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, there was never a global flood, and plants and animals change over time)?

      —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        You need to take your own advice, do your homework, and think critically before you blast rape incest and trafficking victims over the internet when you obviously have very little personal expertise in this matter. You started out accusing everyone in the church of being a vicious bullying monster, yet you behave like one in your own feeble defense of hatred against an entire faith (you may not realize this but your public ignorance is alienating youself from certain prominent atheists and agnostics who support my work with rape victims and are themselves advocates against domestic violence). Now that we have weapons that can wipe out the planet, mass wars with fatality rates matching that of WWII is on the decline. However, domestic violence rates stay the same and are actually on the rise in certain demographics for various reasons, especially as the economy continues to tank. We all believe we are all sinners serving of God’s forgiveness, we all need a savior, and that savior is Jesus.

      • Anonymous says:

        (Continued) and that a very practical way to express our belief in Christ’s sacrificial love for us is to offer protection and serve those who need it most.

      • Anonymous says:

        Also, if we were “too untrusting of the world outside”, we would make zero efforts to serve in gang riddled areas. But making a special emphasis in drawing people from that world means increased security needs. Period. Any half wit with a strong law enforcement background will agree, Christian or non Christian. We could choose to isolate ourselves, be hypcritical, say that Jesus is for all but not be serving the communities in most need. But we’d just be happy, lazy, and non-vigilant in our “holy” huddle and let nature (and perhaps child molestations) take its course.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Exposure to the world outside an insular group means such things as going to college. It doesn’t mean preying upon the already vulnerable with an ideology for which you have no evidence is true.

        In other words, if you go to a vulnerable person and say to them, “Say this magical formula, and believe this magical thing, and things will magically start to get better for you,” what have they got to lose? Then you love-bomb them with security and attention, but are you really helping them or just digging them into a deeper hole where they can’t figure life out for themselves?

        Right off the bat, in trying to convert people, you’re trying to take them on yet another spaceship where they are not being encouraged to think critically and gain self-knowledge. You’re putting them in a situation of emotional dependence on the group. And when they, someday, leave that group (if they ever get the strength to), they don’t know who they are or how yet more years of their lives got taken from them.

        How, for example, does it help an already damaged person to tell them that if they don’t believe in a particular set of ideas, they’ll be tortured for eternity? There is no evidence for this, but you tell them such things anyway. You might even tell children such things. It’s not right to scare people with things for which there is no evidence.

        What I’m hearing from you is something akin to the Stockholm syndrome. You appear, at least to me, to be putting vulnerable people in a position where their access to love and the threat of their condemnation will now come from one source—the group you’re trying to get them to join. I’m sorry, but this is not healthy. It’s emotional hostage taking in the name of “helping” them.

        You may be doing great work with damaged people, but it’s the baggage that comes with the group’s ideology that may be undoing what is positive. It’s why I keep asking you about the role that doubt plays in your group, and critical thinking. One gets the impression that Mars Hill’s leadership may be very obnoxious and heavy-handed and not serious about engaging with the world intellectually (that is, with reason). It’s why I’m asking you about evolution and the age of the earth. It matters how in touch with reality a group is.

        —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        How about I strike a deal with you: you spend a year serving domestic violence victims and apologize publicly for the false things you said about our church and mean things you said about our rape victims, and I’ll let you know what my personal stance is on the actual age of the Earth is, though I have agreed in my MH membership covenant that true Christians are free to believe what they wish in this matter (I’ll give you a hint though: I spent time as a lab assistant for a prominent forensic anthropologist to finish my undergrad requirements). As an adjunct lecturer at a top 20 University, I agree that going to college is an important way to expose yourself to different people and different ideas, but it certainly is not the most important nor is it the only way (though given my position I need to constantly remind myself not to be personally biased in this way – being too closed minded). Some of the most arrogant and idiotic people I have met and managed have Ivy League pedigrees, and some of the wisest people I have met never graduated from high school (granted, none of them were American). And if you had done your homework, we do NOT preach that saying a magic formula, or being a Christian, will automatically make things better for you. On the contrary, we preach that becoming a Christian will NOT automatically “make things all better” because we are still sinful beings living in a sinful world.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        I actually haven’t said anything mean, I’ve asked questions; I’ve been skeptical. If it’s mean to be skeptical of what appears to me cultish behavior, and speaking my honest perceptions aloud about it, then I’m not sure what to say. I would think you would appreciate honest dialogue, not be annoyed by it.

        It would be patronizing to have a conversation with someone who wasn’t speaking their true mind, right? You should thank me for speaking my mind; for being honest. How rare that is!

        (I’m thinking of the Billy Joel song about honesty now.)

        And I quoted Christianity Today, not some mean atheist blogger about the goings on in your group. And I can see from YouTube that the lead pastor threatens his congregation with hell damnation for unbelief. That’s emotionally manipulative behavior, and I don’t think it’s mean to call it that. How arrogant and pretentious for any person to claim to know what happens to people when they die (let alone that they will be tortured by God for not believing certain things).

        What I don’t understand is why you’re evading the questions I’m raising (about critical thinking and doubt; evolution; the Stockholm syndrome; and people’s proclivity to indulge in magical thinking). These seem to get to the crux of the matter, don’t they?

        As for protecting damaged people, my compliments go to you. But how, exactly, is it helpful to women to bring them into a group which teaches that men are to be the leaders, that women are not to teach men, that God is a father and not a mother, etc?

        How are women long abused by men supposed to be transformed by an overtly patriarchal group that sets them in a submissive and subservient role to yet another group of males? Or are women permitted to be pastors in your group, to teach men, and to refer to God as our Mother in heaven?

        What is your group’s view of the fact that Jesus only had male apostles and none of the 27 books of the New Testament are written by females? What do you say to new converts about Paul’s notorious chauvinistic command that women are to be silent in the church?

        Is feminist liberation frowned on by your group, or encouraged?

        —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        Honestly, if you aren’t able to think critically enough to see how what some of what you have publicly stated about our rape victims, former prostitutes, and former drug dealers is incredibly mean and callous and selfish (and ignorant as hell! There are two prominent atheist colleagues of mine who are laughing at you right now), or the sweeping unkind generalizations you make about all Christians in our church that may or may not have been taken out of context by bloggers and journalists whose ultimate goal is to sell a good story, there’s really no point in having this conversation further. If you had bothered to do your critical thinking homework, you’d know that the majority of our female members have college degrees or are at least planning to go to college or trade school, the majority of college educated females in many bible studies at Mars Hill at least consider grad school – if it makes economic sense. But you apparently care more about tearing down others’ good works than contributing your own. Otherwise you’d be out mingling with drug dealers and prostitutes yourself in efforts to decrease crime rather than cowardly making fun of those who do, from your little safe blogging bubble. But you appear to me and others to be more content in your little safe blogging bubble, oblivious to real life experiences that can impact others for the better.

  6. Santi Tafarella says:

    Anonymous:

    I deny being mean for asking questions and being skeptical.

    Anyone who wishes to read this thread can see whether your accusations of my being mean are accurate. I asked questions; you chose not to answer them. You did blow a lot of blue pipe smoke into the conversational air, which suggests to me that you prefer not to answer questions about what your group actually teaches. I asked you, for example, whether women can be in positions of authority over men in your group, or teach the Bible to men, or be pastors; you changed the subject to their activities outside the church.

    I’m just wondering why you did that.

    —Santi

    • Anonymous says:

      You can find what our docrine is on our website. We make no efforts to hide our basic teachings. And wow. You are acting like the dumbass Holocaust denier I interviewed for my senior project once with your callous, not well researched questioning as to whether severe trafficking victims need special protection, and YOU kept changing the subject when I questioned how you were getting some of your information, insinuating women here are discouraged from being educated and having careers, insinuating that rape victims are wimps for being fearful of people in their past who stalk and harass them, etc. Yet you change the subject abruptly when I suggest you start volunteering at a drug rehab center in a gang riddled neighborhood, so your posts don’t sound so freaking naïve and stupid. You’re the one who sounds like a wimp, and a bully to boot, who hasn’t really seen much of the world of which you judge and insinuate to be superior to. Women and men are assigned different roles in the church. Men, for example, are not allowed to directly minister one on one with prostitutes and female rape victims. Does that make us anti-male? We have females co-leading co-ed bible studies. We have female deacons as well as male deacons that males need to respect as members with authority. And we regularly have women give testimony to men and women from the pulpit. And honestly, if after all I’ve said to you as a fellow academic, you honestly still think I am some mincing, mousey woman who answers meekly to all male assholes like you who apparently have a huge problem with us firing and kicking out an unrepentant philandering asshole from the position of protecting trafficked women who have been traumatized and raped by philandering assholes (and who showed lip when people who cared for these women tried to make precautions that he wasn’t spreading around AIDS to said traumatized women), YOU are the one who shouldn’t be in a position to teach and lead women. Maybe that’s your chip on your shoulder. Maybe you’re not a very good teacher or leader, and you haven’t contributed significantly to solving the world’s problems because you’re not brave enough, so you rank on those who are?

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously, a rudimentary check of our website would have confirmed these facts about our church that you are “questioning.” It’s very obvious by now that you’re not interested in Andrew. You’re just using the pain of those he harmed as a platform for your hatred of Christians and to exacerbate the harm he caused by painting his as the martyr with your skewed information. Seriously, why are you rushing to defend him for behaving an asshole? Do you know him personally? There is a reason Mars Hill is not too detailed in their response to the media in the details of what Andrew did- to protect the identities and the dignity of the women he hurt. Andrew knew this would happen, and he selfishly used this to his advantage to paint himself as the martyr, and now you’re selfishly using this delicate situation as your platform for your own religious agenda. If you think our work with drug dealers and prostitutes and gang members is so harmful to the Seattle community, then why don’t you move here, explain your superiority to City Council, and serve these communities and “rescue” these people before the dangerous mousey meek female cultists like me can get to them?

  7. Santi Tafarella says:

    Anonymous:

    First, I’m pro-Christian. See here for just one example:

    http://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/the-christians-of-egypt-are-the-jews-of-the-early-21st-century/

    I do, however, oppose fundamentalism and cultish movements generally.

    Second, based on your above posts, you and I have a philosophical difference: you apparently think that, on balance, patriarchal religion empowers women and I think it disempowers them. Asking a woman to worship a male god, his male son, follow a book written exclusively by males, and submit to the headship of a male group leader as “god’s will” strikes me as oppressive.

    Third, I appreciate your call to ministry, but I have other (equally valuable) places where I already place my personal energies. And I’m not especially altruistic (and don’t particularly want to be). When it comes to thinking clearly about selflessness in relation to religion, I recommend the first essay in Ayn Rand’s book, “For the New Intellectual.” It’s titled, “Attila and the Witch-doctor.”

    Fourth, I don’t agree with you that, because Mars Hill does work acknowledged by the city council of Seattle, that it follows that the group is not a cult. Please recall that, in the 1970s, Jim Jones’s cult—People’s Temple—was active in the city of San Francisco, receiving plaudits from the city council for good works.

    Any group that treats a text as infallible, rejects key facts discovered by science over the past two centuries (such as the 4.5 billion year age of the earth), promotes Pauline sexist stereotypes regarding women’s “roles”, uses Stockholm syndrome techniques (such as love bombing and hell threats) to keep members in line, and has authoritarian-style leadership and supervision, has “cult issues.”

    One source of my information regarding Mark Driscoll is the New York Times profile on him. See here:

    http://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/he-doesnt-like-a-richard-simmons-hippie-queer-christ-mark-driscoll-a-seattle-religious-authoritarian-is-profiled-in-the-ny-times/

    • Anonymous says:

      I haven’t felt particularly oppressed since I converted from atheism. None of my nonChristian family members, who know me better than a slothful blogger, think I’m in a cult. In fact, my nonChristian parents have donated to Mars Hill’s ministries because they believe our system fights crime and poverty better than the bureaucracy of our city can, and they’re not mousy wimps who feel threatened by Mark’s words. Maybe you’re trying dump your own feelings of oppression on me because it’s penis envy from you because some of my work experience would require a real man to grow a pair of balls. Speaking of feminism, while I am distinctly female, I bet my pair are bigger than yours, based on your willingness to blast others for their good works and then equate them with mass suicidists when confronted with your own slothful cruelty and lack of ability to think critically and get the facts of a gossip article straight, all the while mean-spiritedly snickering at female rape and trafficking victims for their “frailty” in wanting extra protection. Kind of a chauvenistic, hypocritical move, but whatever. So this blog post really IS about your views on your contempt for all who identify with traditional Judeo Christian faith and not about personal concern for Andrew. I’m not writing to try to convince you that mainstream Christianity is, or is not a cult. I really have no problem with you blasting our church as a cult because I and my two atheist friends with whom I work think you are a sad cowardly little man (from your comfortable safe little ignorant blogging bubble, because it’s so VALUABLE to society that you pour your personal energies into this. You keep recommending well known books to me, yet you identify yourself as an English prof. How many well known books have YOU have published that you can reccomend? Zero? How sad!) because it fits into that mainstream category. I am, however, asking that you stop painting Andrew as a victim, because he’s not, especially to those who know both sides of the whole story, which you don’t know (and won’t know, given your selfish tendency to publicly exploit and exacerbate others’ pain to promote your personal religious ideals). And you are rubbing salt in the wounds of some very devastated good people by painting Andrew as the victim in this very public forum.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        You said, “I’m not writing to try to convince you that mainstream Christianity is, or is not a cult.”

        But that’s where reason resides—in convincing. The rest is rhetoric, blue smoke, and mirrors.

        What’s your definition of a cult—and how is your definition different from what you experience as a member of the Mars Hill group?

        And as a former atheist, why do you now prefer faith—belief absent evidence—to doubt? Why did you move from the doubting community—the community with such historical luminaries as Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson—to a faith community? And what role should critical thinking play in a person’s life (in your view)?

        When you were an atheist, were you also a feminist? Are you still a feminist?

        And what argument now most convinces you that God exists?

        —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        Just shut up about Andrew, please. Goodbye.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Well, what I learned from this thread exchange is that some people will try to use shame to silence. And when that fails, and they are left with only critical thinking and evidence to support their positions, will see they have none, and—like the emperor who discovered he had no clothes on—scurry away into a castle of silence or mystification.

        Thanks for the informative dialogue, but I won’t shut up. I’ll retain my freedom of speech, thank you. Good try, though.

  8. Anonymous 2 says:

    I am one of the said atheists “Anonymous” was discussing earlier. Ok, Santi — I agree with most things you say about Christians. They believe in a myth, yadda, yadda. I don’t agree with the inerrancy of a single text over thousands of years. They can be fucking obnoxious. And yes, you are free to exercise your Free Speech. But be careful not to come across as the atheist version of an obnoxious Fred Phelps, exercising his free speech rights but ultimately losing the argument in front of his audience because of how he was exercising those rights. I was hesitant to judge the situation, knowing the woman who was posting earlier (and she’s a tough bird, I can attest she’s no mousey, frail, submissive wimp: she’s stronger than most men I know — I wouldn’t want to cross her on a bad day, and she was having a GOOD day when she was flaming you). The fact of the matter is, there are human beings involved here, and Andrew isn’t a saint, from what limited I know about the story. If he turns out to be a total pervert/asshole later and you were defending him online, and Mars Hill really was justified in kicking this guy out, then you hurt OUR cause by being just as unjustifiably non-credible source of information as we claim the fundie Christians to be. I honestly think you might have better luck with dialogue if you didn’t flame individuals, just belief systems, because Anonymous 1 left the forum with a very key reminder: don’t laugh at trafficking and rape victims for their psychological state of being (while I have never attended Mars Hill, I have met one of the former drug dealers that Anonymous 1 was referring to. Out of respect for that woman’s privacy, I won’t tell details here, but if even half the crazy stories she had to tell about her past were true, Mars Hill is wise to beef up security on Sunday mornings for the sake of her and her son’s well-being). And don’t act like a twelve year old moron when your supervisor in a volunteer organization working with battered women asks you to get tested and quarantined for S.T.D.s. if they suspect you may have been screwing around with the clients — it makes you look even guiltier if you run away, and there are smart legal and public relations reasons they had the contract worded the way it was — it just backfired on them when Andrew ran to the media. I guess it’s analogous to the case where a mentally disabled woman gets pregnant at an adult care facility and one employee repeatedly refuses to do a paternity test, and that particular facility happens to be very protective of their patients’ privacy. From what I can tell, Andrew had a chance to exonerate himself by just biting the bullet, being frank, and abstaining from dating for a few months. I have seen the devastation and psychological damage that trafficking does to women, and if brave women like Anonymous is willing to go in and save them, then neither of us are in a place to judge her, especially given the dangers. I know and trust when this person says that you don’t know the whole story, having seen “Anonymous 1″ in action in various projects. While I don’t agree with her religious beliefs, she’s otherwise one of the strongest, most intelligent, most competent, most multi-talented leaders I know. And to be honest, be careful about painting all women in this church as submissive, because as much as it pains me to say it, Anonymous 1 did win the argument there, from a public relations perspective, considering first of all that she was only interested in getting you to stop publicly pitying Andrew and painting those who cared about the women he harmed/may have harmed as the monsters (she honestly doesn’t care whether or not people like you accuse her of being in a cult: I tease her that Christianity is errant all the time and she just brushes it off. But she does care deeply if she perceives that you are harming someone she cares about), and secondly, considering all the facts that you did not get straight (about women being oppressed at Mars Hill, women can’t go to college, women can’t speak in the church pulpit to men, women can’t lead in the church, etc. I do know from what she’s told me that men are not allowed to lead all female groups as well, only women do that). Anonymous 1 jokes that the man is the head of the house but the woman is the neck: the woman convinces the head to turn in the direction it needs to go. I truly pity the man who ever tries to abusively control Anonymous 1: she will rip his head off like a preying mantis!

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Well, you’re being a good friend to your friend. I compliment you on that. And I’m an agnostic, not an atheist. If you do a search of my blog, you’ll find that I frequently take the side of Christians and try to be fair in debate on the existence of God, etc.

      So I understand your point of view, but I think you’re reading an awful lot into what I said. I certainly did not say anything callous about victimized women. That’s a ridiculous accusation; a straw man. Questioning the Mars Hill group is not the same as questioning the people it might help. If you go back and read what I actually said, I was supporting women’s autonomy. And asking a question is very different from attacking or presuming things. If you have a specific quote that you think was mean to women qua women, I would like you to quote it back to me so I can see what is the substance of your accusation.

      Please note that to ask questions about what goes on at Mars Hill and noticing what some mainstream sources (the New York Times and Christianity Today) say about the group is not the same as claiming to know, firsthand, what is going on there, or mocking the good works the group does.

      But authoritarian religious movements need pushback. Bluster and shaming is no way to shut up questioners.

      Mark Driscoll, for example, sounds to me like an authoritarian fanatic when I look at his stuff on YouTube. And the New York Times piece on him is quite damning. The whole “Andrew situation” seems to fit into a pattern, and so I think it’s proper to be skeptical and ask questions about it publicly.

      Do you think Mars Hill is a cult led by an authoritarian personality? If you don’t, what distinguishes it from one (in your view)? And if you think I’m mean for even asking these questions, please share with me why.

      —Santi

  9. Santi Tafarella says:

    Anonymous 2:

    Here’s a direct link to the New York Times piece on Driscoll (if you haven’t already seen it):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

  10. Anonymous 2 says:

    Hey there Santi!

    I was very surprised to find out you were not an atheist as well! The reason for this is that your arguments against mainstream Christianity are very similar to the ones that I and my atheist colleagues use to try to get Anonymous to “snap out of it.” Yes, I’ve read the article. In fact, when it first came out, I used it as cannon fodder for my teasing of Anonymous 1 for her newfound spirituality. I don’t care much for Mark Driscoll and his teachings (well, to be honest with you, while I don’t see much of a problem with women getting “beat down” to be “submissive” to chauvinistic husbands, as Anonymous 1 and her friends that I’ve met have been living proof of that, I DO have a huge problem with his stance on homosexuality, but that’s a different post altogether).
    However, you’re still losing the argument here from a public relations perspective because you are approaching the situation as purely an academic philosopher debater while you are discussing real people dealing with real trauma in a very public situation. I’m saying this as an Ivy-League trained psychologist with over a decade of practice behind him. In your writings I’m seeing a lot of problems that I come across when I do couples therapy, both heterosexual AND homosexual: “I want to prove I’m right, my pride is getting in the way, I need to win the argument, so I can’t say “I’m sorry” in a meaningful, sincere manner when realize I may have been very, very wrong, even if I didn’t mean to hurt you and I know a sincere apology would mean the world to you!” I showed your postings to an agnostic friend of mine who specializes in counseling rape victims (she hates Mark Driscoll for his stance on homosexuality too, but that’s a different story), and her response was, “Wow, what a condescending patriarchal asshole.” And she was referring to YOU.
    Why? Because even as your argument proceeded, you did not fully acknowledge the women Andrew may have hurt and left behind, you consistently publicly questioned the need for extra security even after you learned of the battered histories of these women (which really does come across as callous if you have any history in dealing with battered women), and once confronted with the truth that there may have been a very good reason to quarantine Andrew, you did not fully acknowledge and commend the leaders at Mars Hill for their foresight and caring in that regard, at least. As my counseling rape specialist friend (who has been called as an expert witness in numerous rape trials) stated, “If this had been a trial setting, Santi would have lost the jurors’ sympathy.”
    Here’s how I would proceed if I were you, to regain credibility in front of the “jury”, or the blogosphere audience.
    1. I do not like Mark Driscoll’s teachings. I think he comes across as a(n) (fill in the blank insulting name), for reasons X, Y, and Z.
    2. Regardless of how I feel about Mark’s teachings, I do not know Andrew, or Andrew’s situation, on a personal level. When I posted the first post about Andrew’s situation, I was unaware at the time of Andrew’s special position and responsibility in the church to act as protector to battered women congregants suffering from severe rape trauma syndrome. I was unaware that church leaders may have suspected that Andrew’s classmate from the community college was not the only person he may have been cheating on his fiancé with.
    3. I am aware that AIDS and other STDs are devastating diseases that don’t necessarily require actual penetration to spread, and that fear that you may have contracted said disease due to the inconsiderate actions of someone you loved and trusted is a devastating experience. I am aware that ex-prostitutes and current prostitutes suffering from severe rape trauma syndrome probably have a higher risk of being HIV carriers, given their life history. Given Point 2 listed above, it is not unreasonable to ask Andrew to get tested and quarantined for STDs. Given the situation, it is not unreasonable to exclude Andrew from church social activities until he agrees to do so.
    4. To those women, whom I may have hurt by publicly painting Andrew as a martyr when I acknowledge may (note MAY) have gotten what he deserved given his position of leadership in the church and refusal to be quarantined, I apologize for my lack of forethought. To those women who may have been hurt by my postings stating that “people are not as frail as you think they are,” in response to Anonymous 1’s postings that some women in the church need extra protection beyond what the State of Washington can currently afford to provide due to the recession, I apologize. I would not have done so had I known more about the situation.
    And then, go back to rehashing how you disagree with Driscoll.

    Cheers,

    Anonymous 2

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Anonymous 2:

      Nothing you’ve said above is unreasonable, so I apologize to Anonymous 1. If anyone looking on took what I said to be callous and lacking attention to the full context, I offer Anonymous 2’s 4 points immediately above as qualifiers to anything I said in this thread. I agree with all 4 of them.

      It’s not the first time I’ve dropped deep into my left hemisphere brain and didn’t pay attention to my right hemisphere. I’ve gone the other way (stupidly) as well, suppressing my left brain. Sometimes I get the balance right, but not this time. As Shakespeare writes in a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream: “Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, / Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend / More than cool reason ever comprehends.” (Act V, Scene 1, Theseus speaking.)

      As someone with professional therapy experience, is it your take that Mars Hill is a cult? If not, what characteristics separate it from a cult (to your mind)? Any book on cults you recommend? Surely, as a therapist, you must encounter people trying to leave groups even as they are terrorized by fears of hell and of other Stockholm Syndrome-style double binds. And surely you know of authoritarian personalities who use ramped up security as a cover for intimidation and control (Bush and Cheney come to mind).

      Do you have any concern for vulnerable people being unable to come out of a group like Mars Hill’s after they have been drawn into it? Why isn’t it also obtuse not to notice or emphasize their plight?

      —Santi

  11. Anonymous 2 says:

    No problem, Santi. I certainly don’t doubt Anonymous 1’s sincerity. I’d just give her a few days to chill. As for my personal experience with former cult members, as a professional I can’t be too detailed about my clients — it’s against the law and my personal code of ethics. I also do not specialize in cult trauma victims: I mainly work with couples who are having difficulty in their relationship with each other and working through differences. However, from what limited contact I’ve had with Anonymous 1’s friends and from what extensive contact I’ve had with Anonymous, I would very much hesitate to call Mars Hill Church a cult, based off of the Christianity Today and New York Times articles, which took a lot of what the group’s core beliefs out of context (especially the New York TImes article). It just doesn’t add up with my interactions with Anonymous 1 and her friends. She is anything but oppressed by sexist male leadership (as you may have experienced in an unpleasant manner, as I have on days when she hasn’t had her morning coffee yet). Mars Hill preaches what they call complementarianism, which I think could work as a valid non-sexist model, or at least much less sexist than the media is portraying htem as (for example, the ban on men leading all women bible studies offsets the ban on women leading all male groups in the church. I myself find it wise that they have women working with female rape victims — I refer female victims of heterosexual rape to female therapists for a reason). My gut feeling is that there are a lot of people out there like you and I who do not agree with Mark Driscoll’s teachings on homosexuality being a sin and a valid marriage being between a man and a woman, and they’re eager to jump on any sign of weakness of the leadership in the church and magnify it out of context. I believe that may have been what happened with the NYT article. Interestingly enough, while Mars Hill Church preaches that homosexuality is a sin and only perform straight weddings, their bible study leaders actively discourage members from individually joining anti-gay lobbies. I know of at least 2 current members in good standing who made an active effort to shop at J.C. Penneys following the Million Mom’s Campaign invite to boycott it for their choice in spokesperson. Their explanation? It’s very unloving to our gay, lesbian, and trangendered neighbors. I also know of at least one member in good standing who is making personal efforts to spread the world among her conservative friends (who are not members at Mars Hill) that Rick Santorum is the next Nazi leader for his ridiculous stance that gay people are responsible for all of society’s problems. In addition, I know that Mark Driscoll himself has gotten a lot of criticism from the right for refusing to march in an anti-gay rally during Seattle Pride Week, claiming that he believed it would be as bad as marching in an anti-Jewish parade, and that he was too busy trying to convince the straight married Christian couples in his church to stop ruining their marriages to yell at the gay nonChristians outside the church for wanting theirs. So I guess Mars Hill Church is the most pro-gay church with conservative values that you can get? As for the plight of vulnerable people from within Mars Hill being not able to leave it, or perhaps being worse off in the group than out of the group, I’d be careful of painting trafficked and prostituted women in that light. There are few living situations more dangerous and traumatizing to women than that of a trafficked victim. Few are brave enough to willingly go in and rescue these people AND continually follow up with them to make sure they are cared for and protected. If Mars Hill Church wants to do that, then in my opinion these women are probably better off both physically and psychologically in the group, and that work is to be commended, not condemned (and people like you and I are better of harping on mega church pastors who don’t do much community work and spend their congregants’ tax deductible tithes on fancy cars and mansions). But that’s just one group of people. I can’t judge Mars Hill as an abusive cult based on the accounts of some anonymous bloggers who may or may not be tellng the full truth. I think however, that Mars Hill Church’s real test of “cultiness” is what happens when the children of current members become adults (my understanding is that members are just starting to have teenage children enter their teen ministries). Statistically, some of these children are going to become apostate. It will be interesting to see how their parents respond…. Will they shun their own children? I hope not. But my understanding is that “shunning” is rare at Mars Hill (at least now), and in the current case, as you probably agree, it is highly possible it was deserved and needed for the good of the rest of the congregation.

  12. Anonymous 2 says:

    http://rickross.com/ is a good place for cult abuse resources. But from what I have personally experienced, Mars Hill is really mild compared to most destructive cults I’ve come across.

  13. Santi Tafarella says:

    Anonymous 2:

    Your perspective on Mars Hill certainly complexifies things (which is good). In a less-than-utopian world, and with all the ways that human beings can lay trips on one another, it sounds to me like you’re saying that nothing out of the usual—religious group-wise—is going on at Mars Hill. That’s not much to recommend for it, but at least it’s not another potential Jonestown.

    I’m interested in how groups entice the vulnerable and then, once they’ve joined, hold them. It’s a sad world, the way we set chains on one another.

    My only caution to you concerning your defense of Mars Hill is that you did say, in your first post here, that you have tried to get Anonymous 1 to “snap out of it” (the ideology she’s acquired at Mars Hill). This suggests, in your joking, that you think she’s under a spell to a foolishness. And there is such a thing as compensation: in this case, her acting like Camille Paglia to deflect attention from the fact that she’s given herself over to a deeply patriarchal religion.

    Thanks for the cult link.

    —Santi

  14. Anonymous 2 says:

    My disagreement with Anonymous 1 is less so along the lines of my belief that she’s submitted herself to an excessively patriarchal society (and from what I can tell from her behavior and the behavior of her friends, I honestly don’t think she has), and more along the lines of our clashing beliefs on whether or not gay marriages are just as valid as straight marriages. However, none of the Mars Hill members I have met have come across as excessively homophobic when I explain to them my practice with gay couples. My gut feeling is that the media and many of the bloggers would back off if they officiated gay weddings in the church (notice that New York was one of the first states to pass a gay marriage bill!). I guess trying to convince a Mars Hill member to start marrying gays in the church is analogous to telling an average American Hindu to start eating beef hamburgers in their temples. They won’t do it, they will ask those who are doing it to stop or leave the temple, but you don’t see any Hindus going to Congress to pass anti-beef bills, nor do you seeing them attacking cattle ranchers….

  15. Anonymous 3 says:

    Santi –

    I’ve read a lot of innuendo about Andrew’s sexual behavior in these posts, but very little about the actual facts. It seems that Mars Hill does NOT hold women accountable for their decisions regarding their sexual decisions. All women appear to be victims. In other words, if a women commits a consensual sexual sin with a man; it’s the man’s fault. Pastor Driscoll even claims that his wife was such a victim when a teenager. It’s very easy to entice the vulnerable with such thinking. No, such women may NOT be better off psychologically in that group.

  16. Anonymous 2 says:

    Anonymous 3: As an atheist healthcare provider, I’d also be careful about publicly broadcasting the details of people’s STD histories without their written consent, for obvious legal reasons. The church as an entity would likewise have similar concerns. I know Anonymous 1 personally, and she takes responsibility for her actions. She was pretty frank about what she’s done in the past sexually, she’s been under discipline as well, she doesn’t see herself as the victim, and I’M not posting the details simply as her friend who respects her as a human being. You can probably tell the kind of person she is from her postings, and she is by far NOT an oppressed frail brainless flower (although I personally think that allegiance to a God whose existence cannot be proven is a stupid move on her part). Secondly, where are you getting your information? Are you a licensed therapist who works with women from that demographic? I’ve personally seen/heard horror stories from that demographic. Mars Hill Church, if they can provide these women with physical protection against their former batterers, is doing a good thing, in my professional opinion, especially since the State cannot afford to fully do so.

    • Anonymous 3 says:

      From Mathew Paul Turner’s interview with Andrew,

      “According to Andrew, at Mars Hill, the cliche “it takes two to tango” isn’t true. Why? Because Pastor Mark teaches that women are “weaker vessels,” and therefore, when a girl and boy engage in consensual sexual activity, it is always assumed that it’s the man’s fault because he failed to lead the woman (or “weaker vessel”) toward righteousness. (And everybody knows that women can’t find righteousness unless a man leads her there. Ugh.)”

      The basis of my comment was the above interview. I didn’t intend it to apply to any particular individual or demographic of women (I apologize if I left that impression), but rather as a general teaching of the church. I believe Pastor Driscoll emphasized that teaching in reference to his wife in that she engaged in consensual sexual activity as a teenager, but he considers her as a victim rather than holding her accountable and forgiving her.

      • Anonymous 2 says:

        My understanding is that Grace Driscoll was raped at one point, and that may be what Mark is referring to. Rape needs forgiving of the OFFENDER, not the victim. Anonymous 1 also told me that Mark has related difficulty in forgiving his wife for her act of cheating on him when they were together as a teenager, and her lying to him about it. That strikes me as blaming Grace and needing to forgive her. I also don’t have a high regard for Matthew Paul Turner for how he went about doing things. He obviously didn’t get the whole story (see above thread), and he exposed Andrew’s fiance to further humiliation and trauma (and yes, finding out you might have AIDS IS traumatic, no matter who you are, and Andrew IS in the more wrong in this situation because he’s the one who was caught cheating on her and was suspected of cheating on her with multiple women less than a month away from their wedding and refused to get fucking quarantined!). All for the sake of getting a good story and getting more hits on his blog. Exploiting traumatized women for the sake of a good story doesn’t strike me as very Christ-like. Congratulations, Mr. Turner. You are a selfish, sexist asshole who has added to my resolve to remain an atheist. How does that make you feel?

      • Anonymous 2 says:

        Also, Mark/Mars Hill staff, if you’re reading this defense of your congregation’s philanthropy, do not read this in any way my defense of your church’s teachings on homosexuality being a sin. I commend you for your actions in protecting battered women. However, I condemn you for condemning so many of my gay friends who have their monogamy together better than your parishioners (see thread about Andrew above).

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Santi.

  18. Anon says:

    “We have security guards Sunday mornings to protect certain women from certain horrible people in their past, as well as to prevent an incident like we had about six or seven years ago, where an outsider tried to knife one of our pastors mid-sermon.”

    This is outright BS.
    How about someone standing up to protect women from the misogynistic messages and sexual innuendo spewed from the churches pulpit and video streams?

    The guards are there to project the carefully scripted macho-man “tough-guy” image of the leader, and to keep people from trying to get close – like after the services when the untouchable Driscoll ducks out the back door through a phalanx of guards. No after-service handshaking for him! No members confronting him with sinful questioning. And let’s not forget the huge haul of $thousands in tithes and offerings after each service that requires guarding.

    As for the oft-repeated rumor about some guy with a machete rushing Driscoll on stage during a sermon, there is not one documented instance of any such event occurring. Numerous bloggers have combed the internet for any such evidence. There is none apparently. Pure urban legend – but the rumor is useful for creating the paranoid “us versus them” mentality.

  19. How someone as intelligent as Santi cannot tell that Anonymous 1 and Anonymous 2 are the same exact person is beyond me. They have the same exact misspellings, word choices, phraseology, grammar and punctuation usage, and sentence structures. Anonymous 2 is an Anonymous 1 sockpuppet and nothing more. Which makes Anonymous 1 even sadder and scarier.

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