The Organization Apologizes

 

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

 

I wasn’t planning to write on this, but I have been following the story and it has hit Facebook hard in the past few days. GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) supporters have responded to the apology and public statement given by Bob Jones University concerning the report and recommendations brought to the school by GRACE after extensive investigation.

I have written before on the narcissistic organization and how I believe any organization—church, school, business, civic club, etc— can exhibit narcissistic characteristics. Some of my readers have experienced this behavior by an organization. An organization seems to have a life and identity of its own, apart from its leaders. That doesn’t mean that the leaders are not narcissistic. Instead, it means the default response of the organization to its members, and to the public, will be self-serving and image-protective. People in these organizations will notice that it doesn’t really matter who the leaders are, the official responses and actions of the organization will still show these characteristics.

Now, a disclaimer: I have no first-hand knowledge of this story and I have not done the investigation it would take for me to speak intelligently on either the report of GRACE to the school or the school’s actions in light of that report. What I can do is show interesting aspects of the responses given to the public in light of the GRACE report.  The purpose of this post is to illustrate the response of an organization under accusation and exposure and point out similarities to apologies and explanations offered by narcissists.

I have five documents in front of me. An overview of the story from a New York Times article; an article about the letter from GRACE supporters concerning the school’s responses; the final report of the GRACE investigation; the apology/statement from the president of BJU; and the official BJU response to the GRACE report and recommendations. All of those links are provided here for you.  This is not an exhaustive list of the material available.

There are three things the narcissistic organization will do when confronted:

minimize exposure

marginalize accusers

manipulate public opinion

There are several things the organization will do to accomplish these goals:

claim the initiation

confront the accusers

control the message

circumvent the blame

(Like my alliteration?)

 

So here are the things I noticed by a quick overview of these documents.

 

1. BJU claims to have initiated the investigation. True, as far as initiating the connection with GRACE. Not true in that the motivation seems to have “stemmed from national media reports of the mishandling of sexual abuse.” (GRACE final report) In other words, they had to do something before the situation got out of hand. The outside investigation was already beginning in the media.

The narcissist desperately wants to control negative situations. He/she will want to look good somehow. If the accusation against him cannot be dismissed or overwhelmed, he will claim that he recognized the fault in himself and asked for help. Going for counseling will be his idea, no matter how long he resisted it. Making a change will be her decision, no matter how many times she said the idea was stupid.

2. BJU seems to say that there were only 40 victims over a 40 year history. (BJU Response) Puzzling. New York Times article says “About half the 166 people surveyed who identified themselves as abuse victims said the university actively discouraged them from going to the police.” No matter how this discrepancy is reconciled, there certainly seems to be more than 40 people over 40 years.

Also, the victims BJU refers to are said to be “abuse/assault survivors.” Add to that this statement from the president of the school: “Over the years, we have had a number of students come to BJU who had experienced sexual abuse prior to their association with BJU.” So not only did these victims average one per year, but they already had their troubles before they came to BJU.

The narcissist will try to make the problem seem small. You just exaggerate because you are mean or stupid or trying to get something from him. He will tell you that there really wasn’t a problem at all, at least not one he had any part of.

3. There is a strange connection in the president’s statement that will make the victims feel even worse. He says, “One of our problems has been a discipline system that too closely juxtaposed discipline with counseling.” This is something the school is addressing, separating out “a place where students can go for spiritual care apart from discipline.”

But why is there a connection between discipline and counseling at all? We are talking about sexual abuse, even sexual abuse that happened before the students came to the school. Discipline? Will victims continue to hear, even in the president’s statement, that they are really to blame? That was part of the accusation against the school. This seems to show that the thinking has not really changed. Again, the suffering of the victim is minimized when the victim is blamed for the abuse.

Whatever problem there was, if there was one, the narcissist was not to blame. It was someone else’s fault, usually the victim’s. BJU president says that those who came to BJU “did not experience the loving and comforting environment they deserved.” Now, that sounds okay, except that it suggests the “loving and caring environment” was available and offered, but the victims didn’t “experience” it. He says that he is sorry “that you were hurt and we did not help you by our response.” These are good words and most people will not see the message behind the message.

Victims of narcissistic abuse will recognize this. “I am sorry you were hurt and could not benefit from my help.” Is that an apology? The blame is on you. The narcissist tried, after all.

When an official report is issued by a large organization with the money and legal resources to craft documents carefully, every word has a purpose. The official response from BJU makes reference to someone named Diane Langberg, who just happens to be a leader among Christian counselors and a member of the board of GRACE. It quotes her book on counseling sexual abuse cases and points out that she said she had no training to deal with sexual abuse. The book was written in 2003 and, obviously, refers to an earlier time in Ms. Langberg’s life. Yet, in 2014, BJU includes this in the official response. Why? Because, if Ms. Langberg, GRACE’s own board member, admits that she had no formal training in dealing with sexual abuse, how could anyone expect BJU to have such training? “It’s not our fault!” they seem to say.

When backed into the corner, the narcissist is quick to blame others. The narcissistic apology will almost always have some escape clause. Yes, I did it (if that cannot be avoided), but it was someone else’s fault. I couldn’t have known. What do you expect?

And, of course, even the organization can whine. In the president’s statement, he writes about the faculty and staff of the school and says, “This has not been easy for anyone. It has been particularly hard on a few.” To be fair, his statement also addresses the pain of the victims, but it was, “…we are sorry you were hurt and that we did not help you by our response. This was wrong and unacceptable!” Whose fault was it? Consider this: you were hurt when you came to us and we were not able to help. This has been hard on us.

Again, victims of narcissistic abuse will recognize the tactic. You had a problem and didn’t accept or understand my help. Now I am hurt. The narcissist will bring things back to his own pain because that’s the only pain he considers real.

Now, I want to be clear about my intentions with this post. I am not calling BJU a narcissistic organization, even though I may seem to infer that. I simply don’t have that kind of information. What I am saying is that those who understand narcissistic abuse will recognize this kind of statement/apology. Some have experienced similar statements from churches or other Christian organizations. Some have heard similar things from leaders who represent an organization.

Nor am I suggesting that the president of the school or the authors of the official response are narcissists. When the goal is to save face (and money), the narcissistic apology will probably not be far behind. Attorneys craft these documents to manipulate public opinion without admitting chargeable guilt. In other words, they admit nothing in their apologies. The organization wants to avoid lawsuits and loss of both revenue and reputation. So saying the minimum, while making great effort to sound sincerely sorry, will be the norm for organizations today.

Those who have dealt with narcissists usually find these organizational apologies sadly familiar.

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37 responses to “The Organization Apologizes

  1. milkandhoneyhome

    I love love love your posts. Thank you for taking the time to write them!

    Milk and Honey Home, LLC milkandhoneyhome.com Instagram @milkandhoneyhome 404.290.9011

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  2. Rachel K

    Dave, I LOVE your alliteration! It adds some wit to an otherwise rather depressing subject!
    I also laughed over the “apologies”, there were so many that I have heard before from my N. Especially, ” I am sorry you did not accept the help I offered and that is why you are suffering without me to come and rescue you” even when that person has never helped before, or has even hindered the situation they now propose to help with.
    I think the one that really makes me growl with annoyance is ” I am sorry that you felt upset by what I said/ my reaction / the fact that I just physically assaulted you”.
    Like you said before in another post, the N is confusing an apology with an exposition or explanation.
    Keep up the great work, I look forward to “It’s Narcissist Friday!” every week.

  3. Victims of narcissistic abuse are always accused by the narcissist of having too much baggage to understand that the narcissist’s intentions were always good and not meant to be abusive. My mother received a letter from my abuser the second time I left him. He told her that he KNEW that I NEEDED him but that I was simply too confused to understand what I needed. That I had been hurt so deeply in the past that I didn’t recognize authentic help when I saw it. He told my mother that he had talked to me over the phone after I left and that I was so, so happy and that I lit up when I speaking with him. Yet, he never addressed the root of why I would have possibly left him in the first place other than claiming I wasn’t ready for the challenges he initiated in my life. Challenges? Wow. That’s an understatement, just like this so-called apology by BJU is an understatement and fails to address the elephant in the room: “We dismissed the accusations because admitting to such a thing would have damaged our reputation and forced us to change as a result of recognizing we were partially to blame.” Narcissists have no interest in owning up to their flaws. They see their flaws as strengths and see those who can’t handle the narcissist’s flaws as weak and too sensitive to walk with them as superior and evolved beings. Pfft! 🙂

    • Cecilia K

      So well articulated, Paula. I especially appreciate that last statement – and especially the “superior and evolved beings” part. I know the reality of this is actually sad and tragic, but it’s so ridiculously true and absurd, that it makes me chuckle while shaking my head at the same time.

  4. Yes, the non-apology apology. that cleverly twisted phrase “I’m sorry you felt hurt” which does accept accountability for their role in creating the hurtful situation. Never will you hear an N say “I’m sorry I hurt you by what I said/did/didn’t do, it was wrong of me to behave that way” which is a proper apology. Instead it’s that subtle deflection to “you” which suggests that it was your choice to be hurt. I’ve heard a begrudging reluctant “apology” go: “I’m sorry I made myself so unattractive in the way I said the things I said” ! Staggering how everything is about them! Thank you for your insightful articles.

  5. Anon

    This concept is so helpful. I have experienced this at 3 churches (and heard about it at others from friends), a Christian school, a professional training organization, LOL, and ironically even a few “Christian” blogs. It is hard to make sense of because behind the organization are actual people making the non-apologies and taking no real responsibility, sometimes people you had a trust relationship with. It is helpful to separate these out–the people themselves and the narcissistic-behaving organization, even though, in the end, the people are still responsible for the failure, unethical behavior or lack of responsibility for either. Now, at least for me, I can determine how hurt I should really be. After taking into account the role of the narcissistic-behaving organization, then I can determine just how narcissistic the person is himself/herself who carried out the betrayal. I may have to go back and review my former situations and resolve these incompletions once and for all. So insightful.

  6. Kitkat

    Once again Pastor Dave you are spot on. I know of a mission organization that knew of sexual abuse by one of their doctors. He was drugging missionary kids and raping them in his office in the mission field. The organization pushed the accusations under the rug for many years. Then when these kids became adults they had all kinds of problems. They went to the organization to get some answers or money to help with counseling and the organization dismissed them saying they would “investigate”. The organization dragged their feet, so the missionary kids went to the internet and began to post what had happened to them. A firestorm of bad publicity ensued and GRACE was called in to investigate and a half hearted apology came, and the board president resigned. There had been sexual abuse allegations made against this man since the 1970’s. One of the kids went to her pastor, because she felt bad about what he was doing at the time and wanted to know if this doctor had the right to do these things to her, she was 14. Her parents were still in the mission field and they had only sent her home to visit with other family, not knowing what was being done to their daughter. The pastor brought this to the attention of the mission board and they flew in to talk to the girl. They then took the girl, without her parents, back overseas where the doctor was, and made her sign a confession saying that she had sinned and that she seduced the doctor. SHE WAS 14! This doctor had started abusing her from the age of 12. This doctor told her all kinds of things to make her believe that she should allow him to abuse her. The organization told her and later her parents that they needed to keep this quiet for the sake of the church mission. The parents were not at either the interview with this child and the 2 “MALE” mission board members, nor when she was taken to confront the doctor and forced to sign this confession. The preservation of the organization was the priority. The doctor’s wife was only concerned if her husband would still be getting his pension from the mission organization. This man was never prosecuted and he moved back to the states and had a medical practice up until this became a national news story because of the internet posts by the victims. These abuse victims however, have suffered tremendously because of all of this, alcoholism, drug abuse, mental and emotional breakdowns, broken marriages etc.. They came to be victimized again by the organization and by others who wouldn’t believe anything bad of this doctor. All because this was a “Christian” organization and these were godly people, who would never do such things. If something doesn’t seem right, question it. Don’t worry about what will happen to the church, God will handle the hypocrites, abusers and deceivers eventually. But we must always speak truth, challenge abusers and support and comfort the victims.

    • How terrible! I’m pretty sure I know the organization you write about and they had a great reputation all the while. When you think of how many organizations, teachers, and churches that have been exposed in the past five years it is amazing. Now wonder the world around us is not interested in hearing about how great Christianity is.

      At the same time, we should be encouraged. The word is out and things are changing. BJU is not only paying a price, but the whole system is going to be held up to more careful expectations. GRACE and other groups have done so much to restore a Christian perspective on this kind of abuse. Abuse victims have more opportunity to be heard and believed. We will just have to be loud and diligent to keep the spotlights turned on.

      This would be a great opportunity to plug Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts work again over at http://cryingoutforjustice.com/
      Good folks with an important message and ministry.

      Thanks for the comment!

  7. Kitkat

    What was so outrageous about this case was that the doctor confessed to the mission board members that he had committed ADULTERY and they ACCEPTED that!!! And he told them that he would repent of his sin of adultery. He never confessed or admitted to the crime of sexual abuse of a child. Because this crime occurred outside of the country nothing was done to prosecute him, thus allowing him to continue practicing medicine in the states. I’ve often wondered, if it would have been possible to prosecute him through the recommendation of the mission board in the country where this occurred or charges brought against him once he got stateside. Wouldn’t that have been the right and responsible thing to do, the Christian thing to do? Wouldn’t that have sent a strong message that this type of abuse would not be tolerated? Wouldn’t that have been validation for all these kids who are now so broken by this? I am encouraged that now more and more, these things are coming to light. What I wish is that there was more education on these things in the church, and people would be encouraged to voice their concerns and not feel that they have to protect the image of the church or Christian organization. God does not want us to enable criminal activity under the guise that His reputation will be tarnished. Just as Jesus exposed the Pharisees, so too, must we be willing to go to bat for those oppressed by the N’s and Narcissistic organizations in the church. If we don’t speak up, the reputation and integrity of the church is already compromised.

  8. “I am sorry my intentions are misinterpreted, I don’t know what it is, our friends, the water? but I have never been this way before.”
    I am sorry you were hurt, it will take me a long time to get over it, but you are too self absorbed to see things from my side, which just shows how self absorbed you really are.”
    Two of the many apologies I received from my ex. It was even the water’s fault!! and everyone was always misunderstanding his motives. I don’t know, how many ways can a person interpret you taking their possessions. Most people interpret it as stealing. Why I felt I had to explain that to a man in his 40’s I don’t know.
    Great post!

    • Cat

      After I left my husband, he sent me this email. Just over a month after he sent it, he hacked into my email account and sent a long email accusing me of stealing tens of thousands of dollars and having multiple affairs to all my hotmail contacts. So much for “All my love” and “forever yours”.:

      Things have come to a pretty pass but I want you to know that I still love you and once again I forgive you unreservedly for all the things real and imagined, where I thought you have wronged me.
      I hope that one day you can forgive me too. I have behaved abominably. I have always held you to a very high standard. Perhaps too high a standard , one that you couldn’t achieve. You were my goddess. My love and my inspiration. I am guilty of guilty of being frustrated, angry and vindictive whenever you failed to match my idealized image of you and I took it out on you. It was greatly unfair of me to try and coax, threaten or guilt you into meeting my hopes or expectation. It is wrong of me to expect more of you than I can manage for myself. You have been immensely patient and indulgent with me. For all of that I am deeply sorry.
      I resolve from here on to treat you fairly as you are without critique or condemnation and accept you as you are and treat you as if you have exceeded my highest expectations. You have always exceeded what should be any good standard and you are a great cook. I shall miss your cooking. I hope you can forgive me and not hold me to too high a standard yourself. I do hope to achieve a higher standard than I have in the past and maybe one day I will have the chance to prove that to you.

      All of my Love.

      Forever yours,

      • Kathy

        Well, wasn’t that just wonderful of him to apologize for believing that you are better than you actually are! How nice of him to offer you his willingness to accept you for you!! He even forgives you for things REAL and imagined — he just had to throw in there that he apologizes AND forgives!! What a guy!!! He’s so sorry for being vindictive when YOU FAILED to match his idealized image!!
        So nice of him to be willing to stoop to your level.
        I think the cooking part was sincere.

      • Rachel K

        Oh my goodness Cat! “I shall miss your cooking.” !! Why are N’s so obsessed with food and eating? Mine was.
        They really know how to turn a compliment into a back handed swipe.
        Praying you are finding peace and healing now.

  9. Reblogged this on Ladywithatruck's Blog and commented:
    The famous narcissistic apology, I am sure you have all heard a variation of these.

    • Thanks again, Pastor Dave.

      No doubt narcissists are masters at using language (especially passive language) to duck responsibility. Makes me crazy.

      I once had a narc boss tell me (after I’d given notice and was working my last day) that she wished me the best (sure she did) and that she was sorry I hadn’t always been happy working with her.

      So, it’s all about me and my inability to find happiness, huh? Arghhhh!

      I almost replied, “Yes, but are you sorry for what you’ve DONE?” but it would have been pearls to swine, and I’m convinced the Lord just shut my lips. No reason for drama on my last day!

  10. Kathy

    Judgment will start with those who are of the Lord’s house — or those who claim to be.
    Makes me SICK to know of the SEVERAL mission organizations that allowed abuse to continue and then issued the non-apology apology.
    Makes me SICK to know how many “Christian” parents abused and/or neglected their children behind closed doors.
    Makes me SICK to know how the N “Christians” in my own life would allow the widow and the fatherless to go without food because they didn’t believe I was broke for a short time after my husband died.
    Makes me SICK to read the stories here of all the pain and sorrow and frustration and confusion and devastation occurring in lives because of some twisted evil minds.
    There will come a day when the sheep are separated from the goats.
    When the goats complained and said “But we did this in your name” and “we did that in your name,” Jesus never once contradicted them. He never said “No, you didn’t.” Instead, He said “what you didn’t do for them, you didn’t do for me” and “I NEVER (NEVER!! That means NEVER EVER EVER EVER) KNEW YOU!”
    And there will be a time that sorrow and mourning will flee away.
    And every tear wiped from every eye.
    Be comforted that none of us are alone. THEY are out there. But THEY are NOT called by His name.

    • Annie

      Thankyou Dave. Thankyou Kathy. I am comforted by Jesus words that you quoted “I NEVER KNEW YOU”. I think that is actually the crux of the matter with all of these Narcs who hide themselves in Christian groups where they have many many other ‘Christians’ who support them…. no matter what they do…… who are their SUPPLY. They know they will be loved and offered Grace by these church groups no matter what they have done and will continue to do. These Churches tell them so. Do these Narcs know their Bible? Oh yeah, ready to turn it on you at the drop of a hat!!! Accountability, repentance, restoration and forgiveness are Jesus messages…. many Churches don’t follow them, leaving Grace at God’s love. Thus the Grace message gives them permission to continue in their behaviour as “Jesus loves you anyway. Jesus put all your sins on the cross and you are not a sinner anymore”. Atonement is as if you never sinned. Well I have news for every one of them. God loves and accepts us all but he will not tolerate continuing evil behaviours. He expects us to come to Him in repentance and love. He expects us to want to walk a better life and to seek Him to find out how. God does not expect us to continue hurting, hitting, smashing, lying…. while preaching and speaking in His name. Woe betide you hypocrites, especially those who have leadership positions. Bible truths.

      I struggle every day to keep my faith. Each Sunday I struggle with the “will I go to Church today, will I stay home”. Church and Jesus has been a part of my life always…. if I didn’t go I felt guilty and would be back in no time. My prayer life and bible reading has gone down the tube. Where I believed so much and used THE WORD to speak out, I no longer know what to speak as what I thought was true and lovely about myself and my prayer life has/had to be rebuilt (TWICE NOW). What I thought was good prayer and holy spirit speaking was twisted and turned…. We are left in a state of confusion about our beliefs and our faith. Now having been kicked in the gut by both mainstream Anglican Church (Episcopalian in the USA) and also a then local, Pentecostal Church, I no longer know where I am safe from Narcs. I don’t trust even Christians, no matter how good they may appear. I moved 600km away from the town where both churches hurt me…. AND I am referring to the hierarchy too including the most Senior. In both situations, broken marriage….. first was to an Anglican Priest who committed adultery with a married woman (we were married 30 years) and was allowed to marry her after he divorced me AND remain a Priest in the same Diocese. How? Because the Church allowed him to lie about me, covered it all up. Even with me making a formal complaint…. which was ‘hidden’ by the Bishop and Archdeacon which included written evidence AND a confession by him. Second time was after 10 years alone…. Pentecostal member, at my new Church, who wooed me with all the signs I now know about and understand as Narcissistic wooing and boy did he GROOM ME and everyone else… my family, the Church members who were praying for us, praying for truth….. I thought he was God’s will for me, my protector, my lover, my best friend. After 2yrs 9mths I left. The Church put the blame on me. “Why did you stay?” “You were warned?” This from the Senior Pastor whom I asked for help to remove him from the church so I could feel safe. “He wasn’t my responsibility as he didn’t do those things to you while at my Church”. “You don’t have to talk to him when you are here”. HE DID do those things while we were at his Church…. anyway, it should be a community responsibility. When I tried to make another appointment with him, the female Pastor and another Pastor who knew the Narc history…. he refused my appointment, such a non caring attitude, this was soon after the separation. I left for good. Yet again let down by a Pastor whom I thought knew me better. Another Pastor and his wife support the Narc and he sits with them EVERY SINGLE TIME he goes to Church. (that Pastor married us and with his wife is his BIGGEST SUPPLY). While I was still at the Church he made sure he went every Sunday. When I left he hardly went. He is now over 60 and needs to sit with these people. (ever since I left him)…Gives him a ‘name in the church’ especially as he gives the Pastors wife a long a tender hug EVERY TIME he sees her and in FRONT OF THE WHOLE congregation. His association is so obvious to others but no-one will speak out. When a Narc is in charge people blindly follow like sheep to the slaughter. When people complain, nothing happens and the good people leave. The Narc leader has also so carefully ‘groomed’ the congregation especially building up the youth in the Church (who are the best lambs of all). So our ex- Narc continues. I am always interested to see that the Church which was going to grow SO BIG and bring SO MANY people in that they would have to build a new building… is still just the same size. Yes new people come…. but many go… numbers can be manipulated like everything else. So tomorrow I will go off again to my new Church on the coast, or maybe I won’t. I carry my own feelings when I don’t go or don’t pray etc …. the damage is so intrinsic when ‘Christians’ badly damage other Christians. I have been gone from the city for 2 years now and divorced for 3. The pain is not so great now but I believe is something that will never go…. we just learn to live with it. One thing for sure is people will be held accountable for their lies and more particularly for the pain that they cause to His people. As others have said…. people are turned off and tune out of becoming a Christian… when they see how Christians treat each other. I have had so many say to me “I can’t understand how you still go to Church and how you still believe in God”. Members of my own family have said “Those are the very reasons why I will never go to Church…. Full of hypocrites. They should love and support each other, not do these things”.
      Thanks again Dave… that you and people like you…. help to open the eyes of Christians to the truth of bad behaviour. I just hope that more and more good and Godly people have the courage to speak out. Thankyou everyone on this Blog…. your knowledge, understand and support has kept me sane. Bless you all.

  11. ….. reading back what I wrote has brought tears to my eyes. Tears that cannot fall. Such is the damage that these Abusers cause to their victims. Me, Annie, the girl who cried when Charlotte, the little spider, died in “Charlotte’s Web” such was my sensitivity, depth of compassion and ease of crying. The abusers take tears away when the numbness comes, when the dissociation comes, when the loss of affect happens, when we are afraid to cry incase we get hurt again. So hard to get those tears back, even though deep down I feel the compassion and the sadness. At least today, I have tears come to my eyes. which don’t come much at all these days…. I can’t wait for the day when I sob until I fall asleep. BRING IT ON JESUS.

    • Michelle

      Annie, the same thing has happened to me. I cannot cry anymore. Is that common to the abused? I long for the day that I can sob, also. God bless you and all here.

      • UnForsaken

        It will come Michelle. There are times when I’m still frozen. Other times I think of a very sad story or real persecutions and God uses it to warm my heart to tears for All of it. We are together in this.

        Well, I never received an apology from any organization, but I believe no matter what level or type of abuse we have experienced, we need a lot of time for healing. Thankfully,almost daily I glean new insights into my present situation by looking back at the Narc organization I was in. It sometimes helps me laugh at the ridiculous repetition of stupidity, but it seriously helps navigating the many possible tricks up my Ns sleeve. My expectations have become really low, and he almost always lives up to them. BUT, like today, he can do a lot better and it’s surprising . I like ‘good’ surprises!

        Politically correct apologies are de rigueur today and perhaps more blatantly phrased in the south. I’ve seen the relatively young president of BJU and believe his cautious nature would always make him follow the path well mapped out by the organization’s board. None of them may be Narcs, but I would expect a Narc apology/statement like this because they’ve done it before. I’m not sure any big organizations make true apologies, but if they did the rest of us would find it far more Believable!

        The thing is that all groups tend to rely on Narcissistic behaviors to get the group through a sticky spot…..that is to say, it has become shameful to show human heart when it is most needed. It’s always been this way, but now it’s considered unprofessional! If only these groups could see how much damage they do when they cover up and don’t take responsibility! I loved what you have to say on this Annie, ( Hug! ), and must agree that we need the space to Choose to attend or not, join or not, because we are Christ’s disciples, and need to hear HIS voice, not theirs. Cover our ears,and Blare them out with Jesus’ words in our minds!

      • UnForsaken

        Whoops, I see Steven Jones is no longer BJU’s president. It’s Steve Pettit. Accuracy!

    • Rachel K

      Annie, I am so sorry to hear the horrific experience you had within the church. And worse, that it was within two different church communities. This shows how deeply these sins and corporate sins can bury themselves into places where Jesus’ love should be shining out like a beacon. You are so right that this is why the churches are not growing. The hypocrisy is visible and young people especially hate that.
      I can relate to your feeling that you can’t cry. Sometimes I feel that if I begin to cry I will not be able to stop. I think that tears express our personhood, our individual response to something that after Narcissistic abuse ( especially if it’s been over a very long period) it becomes unsafe to express ourselves in this way. Our personalities have been battered, crushed, broken down and we need to take time to heal. Be very gentle with yourself. I think it sounds like you are doing amazingly after such an awful time. I have been finding it difficult to get to church too and feel guilty about that. I feel exhausted and have four young children to take with me, one of whom has Down Syndrome and can be a handful! My Mum says I should not worry at all if I don’t make it, she says God knows what I am going through and He doesn’t think the way people do. She is right!
      I am praying now that you can have some deep peace and know that Jesus is carrying you through this.

      • Annie I also have thought a lot about why I could not cry much after separating from my husband last year.. I think it is complex.. there is the fear of being overwhelmed by grief to the point of not being able to go on, as Rachel said the fear of ‘not being able to stop’ and many of us have to ‘hold it together ‘ to continue to look after children, hold down jobs etc etc….
        I’m sorry that you have been so severely let down, betrayed and abused by those who should have helped you the most. We are the body of Christ… we are here for you, and pray that you will know the comfort of Jesus looking after you in a very real and personal way this day. I pray that you will be blessed as you continue to establish your new home and link to your new community and that God will give you Christian brothers and sisters who will honour Christ and love and protect you.
        (((blessings)))
        Savedbygrace

  12. Cat

    I can so relate to the part about claiming initiation. After I left my ex, because of his abuse (forcing me to sleep naked, trying to cut me off from my family and friends, forcing me to shower with him every day and be groped on the breasts by him – even in front of our children – every time I went past him, threatening to cut off the phone and the internet, thereby preventing me from doing my online teaching job, and all sorts of other verbal, emotional and sexual abuse), he told everyone that it was because he’d found out that I was having emotional affairs with other men. Never mind the fact that he himself was flirting online with other women, his family swallowed his pity party about my infidelity and saw him as the wronged party, or at least that I shared the blame for the problems in our marriage.

  13. Melody

    One word response to this post: exactly.

  14. Ellie

    Excellent post. I have recommended it to several friends. I thought you might like my BJU Press Release Translation http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/12/22/translation-of-bob-jones-universitys-manipulative-press-release-announcing-grace-report/. It absolutely drives me NUTS that he said “mote.”

    • Very well done, Ellie! I agree that “mote” was almost certainly not accidental. I encourage everyone to read your article. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rachel K

      Ellie, thanks for the link, I read your “translation”; it’s excellent and I did laugh a little at the irony even despite the very serious subject matter. They really can’t see the truth can they?

    • UnForsaken

      Thanks for these insights, Ellie! I feel your ironic humor really hit the the nail on the head too. Like any Narc, they are acting entitled.

      Still Reforming, great comments. Another trigger word for me is “Problems”. It’s used for dumbing things down, as well as exaggerating, spreading gossip/slander that causes other people to fill in the blanks with their over-active imaginations.

      I stumbled on this quote about psychopaths/Narcs from Agatha Christie’s book, “Third Girl” : ” You have been through a terrible ordeal. It is a thing that need never happen to you again. Remember that now you can have confidence in yourself always. To have known, at close quarters, what absolute evil means is to be armored against what life can do to you. ” This is so encouraging to me!

  15. Kitkat

    I found this article online and as I read through it, I realized how much he describes Narcissistic behavior. As he says throughout the piece, that whether we are strict conservatives or more progressive, this type of “fundamentalism (narcissism)” is a destructive way to think. He never uses the word narcissism but you could almost interchange fundamentalism with narcissism in this article. As we have been discussing the organization apologies, it struck me how easy it is to fall into this mindset as an organization, if you have large groups of people who are pre-programmed into thinking a certain way populating that organization. It also seems that this could be a little bit why this is such a magnet for narcissistic personalities in the church. Just a thought, I would welcome any comments on this.

    http://www.micahbales.com/3-ways-spot-fundamentalist/

    • Kitkat

      One other thing on this article, he challenges us to love our enemies but if the lines between fundamentalism and narcissism are blurred, how do we navigate those waters safely? Having no contact on a personal one on one relationship can be lifesaving, but with an organization that you may have to deal with can be just as damaging if you continue to interact with them. Again, would be interested in your comments.

      • UnForsaken

        Rachel K., you have a wise mum! It feels so freeing to look up first, and also to realize that we Are fellowshipping in our daily interactions with believers online and at home.

        Kitkat, I came from a strict BJU-type fundi background and because of several church experiences feel that it truly is best to go no contact. If I hadn’t been unwelcome the second time( lying gossip), I may never have figured that out, but it has been a life saver! It is chilling to think I could have been embraced by another church that already thought of me as ‘unforgiving’ . From the beginning I was being cold-shouldered out because of not conforming to all the demands to prove my obedience to another church. They may blame people for leaving – and claim it’s never the right way, because no way is right – but in all reality they are the one’s who can not longer tolerate you. They continued to be offended by a past issue with their ‘friends’ that was never what they thought it was. I’ve seen this repeatedly with narrow, blindly ‘loyal’ worldviews. It is Sooo weird, but they require us to do what they cannot do themselves.That makes any situation impossible.

        I need to read all these great articles! A long time ago I had to go through a couple of J. Berg’s materials two or three times ( he’s still head of BJU’s counseling department ), and although some of it was o.k., it was like arming babies with fire. Unfortunately the results I saw in most people’s lives were the reverse of holiness, but a lot of self-righteousness. Once, I visibly saw a couple young people puff up even further as they talked about working on pride! But the materials are convincing to the youthfully earnest, and originally duped me. A dear one told me that she felt the materials being taken off the market felt like a gift from God just for her! It’s hard to believe, but for years they have touted themselves as one of the best counselling ministries out there. Cough…. well, there’s always room for improvement. 😉 Unfortunately, I see them complying just enough, while still believing they are right, and claiming once more that Now they are the best. That won’t stop me from rejoicing at the temporary reassessment though! Thank God!

  16. Kitkat

    Thank you Unforsaken, I was so struck by this article and it’s implication of Narcissism, without it really mentioning narcissism. Perhaps the writer of this article, just as so many of us at first didn’t know about narcissism, is just expressing the symptoms not knowing what he is describing is narcissistic behavior.

    • UnForsaken

      Thank you for the link, Kitkat! I liked the article on codependency too, where he says that sometimes the most loving thing is to walk away from a dysfunctional relationship. It’s a good qualifier for those of us who have been drained of all the serving love we could muster. Love is active even at a distance, and I have found, especially when we let go.

  17. Mark

    Hi, this question is somewhat related. I grew up in a borderline narcissistic church. I am now convinced I should leave that church, but now I carry the emotional and spiritual baggage of that dysfunctional relationship. I came up with the term “Evangelical Leprosy” for this, because I think Christians avoid people like me like the plague.

    So, here is the problem. I need to heal from the pain I endured at the hands of the church, but I can’t seem to do that in the context of a church family, because I can’t stuff my anger and pain in a box at the door of the church and put on a bubbly personality, and even if I could, how would I get the help I need.

    • Hi Mark! This is a necessarily short answer, but a careful one. Jesus is the healer of our hearts. No church can provide what you need, nor can any counselor or therapist. When I went through this myself, the only thing I could do was find a church where I could hear Jesus. I didn’t join or get involved, but I went each week. Then I spent a lot of time just seeking Jesus on my own. Now, I can honestly say that I am in a very good place. I still remember the pain, and I can still feel the anger, but the storm is gone. I have good Christian friends and better expectations of church and Christian relationships. The help I needed was in Jesus Himself. That’s where your help will be found.

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