I have developed a friendship with a guy at work who has left a church that I would describe as cultish. He and I have been discussing how to respond to it. He is asking if he should go public with his criticisms of the church. He's curious if he has any legal recourse since the pastor, from the pulpit, has urged people to disassociate with him.
Here are some characteristics of this church:
- There is no financial accountability.
- There are funny-money things happening, like people making a donation to the church (and thus getting a tax deduction) and then receiving a loan from the church (usually in the same amount as the donation) and then (almost immediately) the loan is forgiven. All of this happens in the pastor's office without oversight.
- The pastor has declared himself an apostle and an oracle of God, who, even when he is wrong, is right.
- People who leave the church are shunned by both family and friends, told that they are no longer under apostolic covering, and running the risk of being under a curse.
- The people have been taught to place the word of revelation they have personally received or have received from the apostle as a higher authority than the Bible itself or the tradition of the universal church throughout the years.
- The apostle seeks to raise people "as sons in his house," where he is their spiritual father giving them the direction and discipline they need.
- The church uses manipulative techniques to coerce people into attending, staying, and serving.
My friend is about as humble and gracious as can be. I have been so impressed by him. He deeply regrets being a part of this church for the time that he was. He now recognizes it for what it is and wants to warn others.
So, I am curious what you all think. Put yourself in the shoes of someone leaving a church that they now consider spiritually abusive and cult-like. Would you think that you have any responsibility to warn others about it? And if so, how would you do it?