Bart Breen and Frank Viola – An Update

Bart Breen and Frank Viola: Lies, Sexual Abuse and Cover Up

Bart Breen

Bart Breen

After remaining quiet for over a year, it is time to expose – and name names – the ongoing campaign by Frank Viola and his fellow self-appointed “apostolic workers” at House2House Ministries as they use proxies like Bart Breen to attack and try to silence victims of their abuse and cover up.

In this exposé, I update an earlier blog to address what’s been going on – both publicly and behind the scenes – over the last year as they desperately try muzzle the truth at the expense of their victims, rather than openly confess and repent.

Their “Beyond” cult has run its course. It is now time for men and women of good will to speak up and confront their lies, abuse and cover up.

No Apologies

I know I have been posting a lot lately on sex abuse by church “leaders” – like author and “apostolic worker” Frank Viola, Sovereign Grace Ministry’s head C.J. Mahaney, and the recent case we helped wrap up at Christ Chapel Assemblies of God involving allegations of abuse by several pastors.

I know I have also been posting a lot about those – like Jon Zens, Bart Breen and even otherwise respected leaders like Felicity Dale – who condone such abuse by seeking to excuse or cover it up through threats, lies, slander and intimidation.

These are not issues with which I ever wanted to become involved.

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Making Sexual Abuse by Church Leaders Illegal

Sign A Petition to Change Virginia’s Fiduciary Code & Criminal Statutes to Include Clergy:

A ministry Marianne and I are part of, through our churches, is Nathan’s Voice. It has helped many victims of sexual abuse by church leaders, and hardly a week goes by that we are not assisting or counseling yet another survivor – both men and women.

PhoneyThis is a widespread problem, involving leaders in the church who use their position of trust to sexually prey upon men and women seeking their help.

It effects all kinds of churches, from highly structured traditional churches to loosely organized organic fellowships – and all kinds of church leaders, from local “pastors” to so-called apostolic “workers”.

Most people are surprised to learn that in the United States, this is not illegal in most jurisdictions unless it involves some other misconduct – such as a direct physical assault, a minor, or maybe employment discrimination (i.e., sexual harassment in the workplace against an employee of the church).

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Organic Hypocrisy, Organic Reform

hypocrisy_meterUntil they stop excusing a history of sexual predation within their ranks, their blogs and books on sexual equality by self-professed leaders in the organic/simple church community ring hollow.

And until they accept local church accountability and warnings about that abuse, their blogs and books on how to be the church likewise ring hollow.

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Leadership Abuse

The latest edition of HopeSpeak, a periodical by The Hope of Survivors (a international support network for victims of church sexual abuse), published an article by me on how to deal with leadership sins – including sexual abuse – in the church. It’s titled Leadership Abuses: Private and Public Sins.

Protecting the Victims

I’ve just learned that another international magazine also wants to re-publish it.

Lately, Marianne and I have become involved in more and more church abuse cases – including local private cases and also very public national scandals.

Sometimes our involvement is very confidential, while other times it involves publicly confronting the abuser and warning others under the dictates of 1 Tim. 5:19-21 where there has been no repentance.

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Slander or Coverup?

When Accusations of Gossip Become Gag Orders, by Wartburg Watch

Slander is a lie and the person making the claim knows that it is a lie. Unfortunately, many use the word to mean saying anything negative about an individual – and then accuse others of slander in order to coverup or excuse abuse by church leaders.

Speaking truth and warning about leaders with a history of abusing others in the church or condoning such abuse – whether C.J. Mahaney and his fellow pastors at Sovereign Grace Ministries, Frank Viola and his fellow “workers” in the organic church movement, or whomever – is NOT slander or gossip. Rather, it brings needed light to darkness, protection to others & healing to the hurting.

In fact, where there are multiple witnesses against an abusive church leader, we are commanded to expose and issue publicly warnings in 1 Tim. 5:19-21.

Misplaced Empathy: Loving the Perps

Crossroad Junction:

Finally… Someone is saying what needs to be said in the ongoing sex abuse scandals involving Frank Viola within the organic church community, C.J. Mahaney within Sovereign Grace Ministries, and others – and those who support them.

Like Marianne and me, licensed mental health counselor Carl Austin (the author of this piece) has ministered to many “perps” and seen amazing grace and redemption, but never without full and open confession and repentance. This is why we remain so resolute in opposing the proud abusers who never come clean. Unlike those who openly confess and repent, they are a blight on the church and remain a threat to others.

Originally posted on Diospsytrek's Blog:

    Part of the Christian life is being loving and forgiving. These are qualities I pray for daily because they are so much not a natural part of me. In my effort to distill down doctrine and make sense of it for me personally I go with the statement from First John 4: “God is love.”  Likewise, I understand that if we don’t forgive others (Mt. 6:14-15) then we are not forgiven. For me, these are two basic tenets of the faith that I have to remind myself of daily. Keeping statements like this utmost in my thoughts simplifies things for me. However I wonder if one can go overboard in trying to live out certain important aspects of the gospel like love and forgiveness, and are there some situations where those qualities were not meant to be applied?

    I haven’t read the recent Rob Bell book Love Wins but I know it’s sparked a whole lot…

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A Statement and Petition Against Sexual Abuse in the Church

A Public Statement Regarding Sexual Abuse in the Church

Part of the Statement – and a warning to “leaders” who continue to promote and affirm fellow “leaders” with a history of sexual exploitation just because they’re your friends and part of your mutual promotion network:

“To be told that wolves are devouring our lambs and fail to protect those lambs is to be a shepherd who sides with the wolves who hinder those same little ones from coming to Jesus. To fail to grasp the massive web of deception entangling an abuser and set him or her loose among the sheep is to be naïve about the very nature and power of sin. To be told a child is being or has been abused and to make excuses for failing to act is a diabolical misrepresentation of God. To know a woman is being raped or battered in hidden places and silence her or send her back is to align with those who live as enemies of our God. Protecting an institution or organization rather than a living, breathing lamb is to love ministry more than God and to value a human name or institution more than the peerless name of Jesus.”

Sign the Statement and Join Others in Taking a Stand

C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, Frank Viola and his fellow apostolic “workers”, Bill Gothard and ILBP, and on and on…

It’s time to take a stand.

We’ve seen the carnage – and the cover ups – up close.

We’ve had enough. We choose to speak out.

Join us in bearing witness against sexual predation and abuse by so-called leaders in the Body of Christ – and those who try to cover it up through lies, threats and intimidation.

Bart Breen and Frank Viola – Lies, Sex Abuse and Cover Up

Last updated 6/20/2014

Lately, some guy named Bart Breen has been attacking folks, with increasingly shrill and outlandish behavior, to protect a network of sexual abuse and cover-up – of which he’s a part.

Bart Breen

Bart Breen

That group centers around author and so-called “apostolic worker” Frank Viola, who has a history of using his leadership roles in churches to sexually prey upon young women and teenagers.

Rather than protect others from his misconduct, Mr. Breen and Viola’s network of other self-appointed “apostles” at House2House Ministries (including Felicity Dale, Jon Zens, Milt Rodriquez, Keith Giles and Ken Eastburn) have engaged in an ongoing campaign of intimidation and cover up.

In return, Frank Viola concurrently promotes them (including Bart Breen), and their writings, on his own somewhat popular blog.

Collectively, their mutual promotion network is desperately trying to silence all victims and witnesses regarding the abuse that’s happened among them.

They know that if people learned the facts about Frank Viola and their complicity in covering up his sexual predation, their own ministries, book sales, self-appointed “apostleships” and influence would take a big hit – especially given their own history as little more than Frank Viola mini-me’s (including their shared, repeated failures at successfully being part of, or starting, viable lasting churches).

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Jon Zens and Frank Viola – A Public Response

May 15, 2013 (updated)

Re:     Author and “Apostolic Worker” Frank Viola

Dear Mr. Zens:

I am providing this preliminary response, both personally and on behalf of our fellowships, to your letter of May 10th and to your many related statements on Facebook. I thus write for myself and as an elder within those fellowships.

Your letter was co-signed by Bart Breen and sent on behalf of Christian author and “apostolic worker” Frank Viola and his mutual promotion network of other so-called “apostolic workers” who – like you – enjoy his repeated public endorsements, including Milt Rodriquez and Felicity Dale.

The context of your letter, and this response, is our ongoing belief that the facts and public warnings asserted against Frank Viola for abuse and sexual exploitation by his former church were properly issued.

Furthermore, those warnings have not been factually refuted and thus warrant an open response by Mr. Viola. Any such response should be at least as public as his own public claims of being a leader in, and to, the Body of Christ.

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When Ekklesia Matters

Everybody’s all for “ekklesia” (the Greek word in the New Testament often translated to mean a local “church”).

Folks blog about it, post on Facebook about it, create online groups about it, and write books about it.

Yup. They all love “ekklesia”….

Except when a particular “ekklesia” follows Biblical procedure and issues a pubic warning under the mandate of 1 Tim. 5:19-21 against some leader the “ekklesia” boosters have placed on an untouchable pedestal – but who had been part of that church, only to then immediately leave and refuse to be accountable when it tried to address his issues of abuse and exploitation.

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The Predators Among Us

The Alchemist in the Pulpit

A good article that provides much needed perspective on sexually exploitive church leaders. In Marianne and my experience with Nathan’s Voice, a ministry of our fellowships which has helped literally hundreds of abuse survivors over the years, this is spot on. It describes the typical personality, motives and means of predation by those who use their emotional and spiritual position of trust to sexually exploit others.

How to Become a Cult (Part 6)

cult_image
Create a fractured persona. Falsely project empathy, expertise and success as a trusted church leader – while covering up a pattern of infidelity, sexual predation and exploitation, persistent detachment from any accountable local fellowship, and failed churches. Appeal to unity and loyalty, personalize everything as hateful attacks against you by spiteful people, and turn on your well-rehearsed charm (and if that doesn’t work, fall back on lies, threats and intimidation) to silence those who dare ask troubling questions. Work behind the scenes and through others to purge all dissenting voices and any contrary information – both in your churches and on public forums like the Internet. As you then bamboozle folks with your enticing but fraudulent persona and fictitious history, they’ll became compliant pawns to your narcissistic deceptions.

Related articles

The pattern outlined above is something I have seen time and again with inflated church leaders who learn to manipulate people and then cross the line into sexual exploitation and predation with what eventually becomes a personality cult – which they sustain through outward charm and behind-the-scenes intimidation. The documents found at this site are yet another example, involving Frank Viola.

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Sexuality and the Church

I often have people send me links to articles and blogs, and here are several that deal with different aspects of sexuality in the Church.

Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University, by Brandon Ambrosino

A very candid personal story of a man who struggled over his homosexuality, yet found friendship as the Christian community at a leading conservative university expressed love and grace while remaining faithful to their Biblical convictions.

You Cannot Heal What You Cannot Talk About, by Survivor Girl

Survivor Girl is a frequent commenter here, and this is her very personal story about sexual predation in the church. Please, read this. When a leader uses his position and spiritual gifts to prey on women in the church, it is not an affair, it is sexual abuse. This article will help you understand how sexual predators groom their victims, and also provides links to good resources for dealing with these issues.

Predators in the Pulpit, by Susan McKenzie

Another first person account of sexual predation and grooming in our churches. This too provides good background on how this happens, so we can be on guard and protect others.

Sexual Sin is a Corporate Affair, by Harry Schaumburg

“When we take the gospel seriously we not only correctly understand the nature of sexual immorality, we must become proactive in taking corporate responsibility for the sexual maturity and sexual problems within our local church.”

~ Jim

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Predatory Grooming in Our Churches

I have been involved in dealing with a number of cases involving sexual predation and exploitation by church leaders – in all kinds of churches (including “organic” or “simple” churches which naively think they are immune from this kind of abuse).

liesMy wife and I have also done pastoral counseling, over the years, with literally hundreds of sex abuse survivors – as well as many abusers who seek help after truly confessing and openly repenting.

One thing I see over and over – especially by predatory church leaders – is the same kind of initial “grooming” behavior. It is amazing how sexually exploitive men in “ministry” all seem to use the same methods.

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The Cult of Giftedness

Steubenville and the Misplaced Sympathy for Jane Doe’s Rapists, by Megan Carpentier.

This article addresses a disturbing phenomenon: In America, we have a cultish worship of those who are charming, gifted and inspiring. They are given every benefit of the doubt, and then some.

So it always goes… sympathy and excuses by some for the gifted predator, shame for his “wayward” victim.

As an aside:

Thanks for bearing with us as we take a week or so to focus on these issues. In the Body of Christ, we should be better than this. Unfortunately, we often aren’t.

The Sin of Silence

Leaders who stand conveniently silent – or willfully ignorant – regarding the abuse and exploitation of God’s people by another leader, are idolaters.

shame

Your Silence Abuses The Abused

They sacrifice innocent men, women and children on the altar of their own ease and self interest, which they often justify by their own warped concept of unity and misguided sense of friendship.

Understand that eventually you will be forced to give an account of your silence – not only to God, but in the “here and now” to His people whom you profess to serve.

When that happens, don’t get mad at me for doing what you were unwilling – but obligated – to do as one entrusted to protect His people.

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Exposing Abusive Church Leaders

Into the Light: A Series on Abuse and the Church looks like it will be a good series by Rachel Evans on the need to expose abusive church leaders and those who hide the abuse. We need more such voices of courage and resolve.

The recent situation with Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) illustrates this need. Over the years, Marianne and I have seen lives destroyed by one of their churches near us. We tried to raise warnings locally, but they were lost among the outward images of “success” by that church and the charisma of its leading “apostle” and popular author and conference speaker.

Yet behind the scenes, the arrogance of leadership there, and their attitude of being untouchable, was astounding. Fortunately, however, God has a way of protecting His people by eventually exposing such sin, after all opportunities to first confess and repent have been ignored.

I’ve been involved in way too many of these kinds of cases – as a friend, a counselor, a church leader, and even as an attorney. Each one has deeply affected me as I had to come beside the victims and be strong for them, while also unflinchingly standing up to some narcissistic – but always charming yet manipulative – exploitive church leader.

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Feed the Need

Sorry, Frank Viola, but when your “revelation” of Jesus looks a lot like your own sensibilities, I’m not impressed.

And when “deeper life” merely reinforces your own postmodern proclivities, I’m likewise not impressed.

Nor do I find a persistent failure to be a functional part of any healthy, local fellowship – despite all your books and blogs on organic church – to be a virtue.

Really, didn’t you get the memo? Postmodernism and existential angst just ain’t that compelling or counter-cultural anymore.

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