Predators in the Pulpit

Predators in the Pulpit: Anatomy of a Seduction

Trigger Alert: This post may not be suitable for all persons, nor for younger people.The purpose of writing this article in the 1st person of Evil is to allow you inside the head of a predator who was using the pulpit to access his victims.

I have listened to several confessions of psychopaths, and this true account is aimed at giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what was happening, even as it helped me to understand my own story.

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The human soul is full of energy. So many emotions keep it charged! Women are the best prey because they are so full of emotions and passion. I am cold inside my own heart, so lifeless, and having access to you makes me feel alive! I am addicted to the high energy I receive from you.

Like a cat with a mouse, I will play with you for a long time before you even realize you've been trapped.

Let's just get that out, up front. My end goal is your soul. 

I see you walk in the church door and you seem to be a strong woman. I can tell right away you're an unloved wife. You don't have to be black and blue all over to show your husband's been abusing you. I can see the pain in your eyes and I can smell your fear. It's an irresistible perfume to me.

You lap up my hugs and small acts of kindness like a kitten. I'm a great listener. I  make you feel comfortable. I know just the right words and facial expressions to convey unconditional love. It's easy for you to trust me, because I'm so well-loved by the people at church.

I appear to know you so well. I validate your pain. You're so tired of keeping up appearances. It's amazing the power validation has in melting your heart.

I'm grooming you to need me.

I'm the only one who really understands how you feel. It appears as if God is answering your prayers, because here I am, speaking right into the depths of your soul.

Caught ya!

Now your walls are down. I can speak and act bolder and you won't even realize what's coming. I invite you into my office for a private chat. I invite you to join my staff so we can have more time together. No one else gives you this much attention!

Now that you know I validate your pain and unconditionally accept you, I ice the cake with crap about me loving your husband. I drop hints that if only he would be willing to spend some time with me, I'd help to set him straight. He really needs to realize what a gold mine he has in you!

In counseling you, I decorate my cake with comments about how your husband really needs to wake up, how he's got to change or he's going to lose the best thing in his life, and then I dish out the cake to you.

Your sense of self-worth has taken a beating. I know that. I am a wolf, remember?

I know just how to take your words and use them to my own advantage. I simply feed back to you what I know you want to hear.

You've been asking God for an older woman to mentor you. But we deliberately keep all our women busy as bees in church so they barely have time to care for their own families, let alone take time to listen to another woman's heart.

We wear "all is well at our house" masks, which further isolates the victims of abuse.

Your naivete and innocence give me boldness. You've don't have worldly experience.

I capitalize on those very things! I show you how it feels to receive what your heart is desperate to receive. You are beginning to feel the love you so desperately wanted!

Now I am your supplier of unconditional love. It's very addictive and carries no warning label.

It's "safe" because I am your pastor, your counselor, your elder, and your boss. You can't get away, even if you wanted to, without stirring up a scandal. And no one likes a scandal. It's bad for our image. You would lose your church staff job, by the way.

You'll put up with me, now, even when I lay out not-so-subtle hints.

I let my eyes roam to the womanly places on your body. You pretend not to notice. I sense your powerlessness. You don't know what to do or say. You're on my hook but it's not time to reel you in. I return to business.

Our business. I always speak in terms of "you and me" – that no one else is really on board with the vision I see for our church. I make you feel special, that you are the only one who really could see the future as I did. I even gave you a job so that you and I could work closely together, without any questions asked.

You are so passionate about everything, especially prayer. I give you free reign to do anything you want. You are glowing… you make me look good! Our church has doubled in size, most of it children and youth. We give you a raise and now you're making more money than your husband! That makes him more upset and your troubles at home escalate.

You are so passionate! You organize lots of leadership prayer times. Not many of us show up, just you and me, plus the elder.

Kneeling with your head on the floor, I watch you as a pool of tears wet the carpet. You cried out to God and it was like your very heart was on fire! My own heart was scorched by the heat of yours.

After a very long time, you sat up and saw me looking at you. I felt a stab of pain, because you weren't looking at me, for my sake… You really believe in your God! It scares me. I know I have to start reeling you in.

I had to know. Were you for me or against me?

So I called you into my office. I asked you how it was going with your husband.  It was time to test our relationship. I told you I wanted to be more than friends.

You backed away with an immediate response, that you loved your husband.

I was done with you, but you didn't know it. Game over. You just didn't get it. You kept expecting us to continue building our church programs together. So I waited until I knew you were alone in the outer office and I called my district head. I left the door open so you would hear my conversation, saying, "Dick, I need a man here to head our youth and children's ministry. I've got a gal here that's doing a good job, but I really need a man. Can you set up some interviews?"

You are being replaced.

If I can't snatch your soul I will feed off your pain.

You didn't understand. You really believed I had unconditional love! You really believed that I cared about YOU.

Now you're crying. You don't understand. So I tell you plainly, "This is your crucifixion. Just die."

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"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15)

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves" (Matt. 10:16)

"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29)

A good resource:

Why the Christian Abuser is the Worst Kind

Thank you for joining me in this mission so that one day, I believe, "abused no more" will describe our friends and family, and indeed, our world!

My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,

Sue

Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  
 
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.
 

Copyright © 2014 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

SurvivorGirl April 5, 2013 at 7:17 am

Susan,
Thank you for your courage in writing this.  The grooming scenario you endured is much like the one I endured, and I had no idea I was being slowly lured and then entrapped by my abusive pastor's tactics.  There are far too many people who cannot believe a faith leader would be capable of clergy sexual abuse, and that's the problem.   Congregations must be educated about CSA, including grooming "signs."   Your story is very important.  Thank you.
 

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Susan McKenzie April 5, 2013 at 7:43 am

Evil is very predictable and not creative in its strategies against men, women, and children. In sharing our stories we see ourselves in each other… and it helps to know we are never alone!

Thank you for sharing and also for encouraging me! Together we can help protect families and congregations… and my hope is to one day see a world where “abused no more” describes the places who have suffered under sin’s tyranny.

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Sue Glashower August 23, 2012 at 6:14 am

Very powerful and not something that most people are willing to speak about. It is so sad that evil is everywhere and we need to be on watch at all times. But it shouldn't surprise us as God does warn us about it in the Bible. Thanks for having the courage to share this!

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Pat Moon August 22, 2012 at 9:54 am

Susan, your article sends chills through me. It just shows how easily we can be drawn into an abusive situation. It can happen anywhere but typically we expect to be safe in church. I was once drawn into a church that unknown to me and others, the pastor had a thing about control. He and his wife (they are now separated) had to be in control of everything that happened. They would draw people in to serve but then put the lid on any activity that they were not in total control of. It ended up splitting the church right down the middle and some of us who stood up for what was right were voted out of the church… it was ugly but not as ugly as what went on in your story. To this day, that pastor has not repented and is now pastoring another church.  Predators of all kinds are out there… that means we have to stay in the Word and pray that we not be drawn in by deception. Thank you for sharing a very difficult story.

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Susan McKenzie August 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I’m glad you had the courage to take a stand for Truth and Love, Pat! It’s a little more challenging when you are married to the pastor/Christian leader who is in deception, but no matter how it happens, it’s always uncomfortable and sad!

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Ron Cross August 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm

This was hard for me. I know this is out there but it just makes me so sad, and so angry at the same time. Very hard topic to read about but one that definitely needed to be addressed, and addressed this way.

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Susan McKenzie August 21, 2012 at 7:38 am

Thank you, Penny and Ron … I much more enjoy writing about the Lighter topics but I found that the more we pretend this dark side doesn’t exist, the secrecy actually empowers it, making churches all the more unsafe as this type of scenario increases. Thank you for being gracious in reading!

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Penny August 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm

wow…that was so powerful. I am speechless, I have not ever heard the other side of the abuse and how they "work" it to be the abuser. thank you for sharing this as it has opened my eyes!

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Olga Hermans August 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm

oh my Susan, I have never been in a situation that I could recognize this attitude. I know it is out there; maybe I am to naive or I am just nor seeing it. We hear of many things that are going on in churches, I I just pray that God will expose them in the open for everyone to see.

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Susan McKenzie August 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Thank you for praying, Olga… the majority of Christians are not aware of what many Christian families are facing and are ill-equipped to handle it when they become aware of it. Prayer is needed so very much!

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Mary Marriner August 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Wow, Susan…This is so interesting!  Years ago, we had an experience with a false prophet.  She was speaking things into our extended family that could end up dividing everyone.  Don't you know, that in His faithfulness, every time I opened my Bible during that time, I would see a verse about false prophets.  Our Father is very protective of His sheep.  If we will only learn to listen to that still small voice.  He ALWAYS makes a way of escape for His children.

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Susan McKenzie August 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I’m so glad you were protected, Mary! Many women and children are not, because the false prophet/minister is in their own home. The way of escape is often blocked by well-meaning Christians who don’t understand the dynamics of domestic violence inside of Christian homes. I’m so glad God protected you!

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Matthew Reed August 20, 2012 at 11:08 am

"The devil is a roaring lion, prowling around seeking whom he may devour."  Is what I was thinking of as I read this post. 
Abuse is at the heart of what the enemy is about.

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Susan McKenzie August 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm

You’re right, Matthew…. the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy… while Jesus came to give us life – and that more abundantly! I hope more christian will become aware of the devil’s tactics so that we can help protect the many sheep that are being scattered, broken, and killed. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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Suze Brown August 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

I am assuming that this was written first person fiction based on a true story. Frankly, this is important for me to know. It can't be that evil has repented in such a way as to want to warn, can it? Or that evil wants to boast on your website? It is a strong piece and knowing would not take away from the punch. Thanks

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Susan McKenzie August 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Hi Suze, you bring up a very important point. Yes, this is a true story and not fiction, right down to the very last sentence.

To be clear, the abuser playing the 1st person role in this story did not repent. Because I didn’t know where to go or who to turn to, it became a setup for continuing abuse, which was to last for another 15-years. I sought help from two different churches and in each case I was told to “put up with it”. That only caused the violence to escalate. My life was threatened on several occasions. One church leader expressed a desire to use knives, working from my feet upward, to first torture, maime, and then kill my body. I don’t want to give darkness any glory by going farther.

9 out of 10 sociopaths do not repent, but there is a very small minority who are able to repent… but there is a huge price to pay, and that is daily crucifixion. Deliverance is an important part of that, as well. They must want to move in the opposite direction.

The story is mine. My character is the victim’s storyline… and how I came to understand the narcisitic/sociopathic mindset was through one of the minority who have repented and completely changed his life around. I am part of a group of survivors who have access to this type of person, who help us to understand how our own silence and false submission enables more abuse.

Most Christians do not understand and so are ill-equipped to deal with narcissists in the pulpit and in the pews. Yet, there is an increasing rate of violence happening inside our churches. When a victim speaks up, she is likely to be misunderstood and is usually blamed. If she takes appropriate action, such as leaving the abusive situation or “whistle-blowing” she may find herself shunned by the church. She may be labeled “disobedient” (as I was). She may be called “dangerous” (as I was).

Suze, evil cannot repent, but the person hosting the evil can repent. The ones I have known who have repented are in accountability to keep themselves humble and repentant. They try to warn the church about other wolves. The best way to learn about a wolves is from a wolf. That is why I chose to write this story from the wolf’s perspective.

Part of our healing, as individuals and as a Body, is learning to discern good and evil. Just as it’s important to detect cancer in its early stages and deal with it appropriately, so we as the Body of Christ must learn to recognize evil. The problem we are experiencing is that in this day we are calling good, evil… and evil, good.

I did not want to stir up “pity” for my own story, but rather to help “wake up” the Church in some small way to understand how evil thinks. If we can understand how evil thinks we can be prepared to deal with it, rather than to side with it.

Many Christians are siding with evil right now, under the guise of charisma. Signs, wonders, and miracles follow some of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. When a victim speaks up, in MOST cases, she is not believed. She is warned, in fact, not to “touch the Lord’s anointed.”

I hope that by giving evil a voice in this article I have not caused it to have a place to boast. I will certainly pray about that and retract any words that cause evil to have any type of ground for boasting. The Cross of Christ is the only grounds for boasting… and through that Cross some of these people are being saved, healed, and have turned around to help warn others of the danger.

Thanks, Suze, for bringing this to my attention!

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denny hagel August 20, 2012 at 5:22 am

Such a riveting story that certainly stirred many emotions…some very dark. Thanks for sharing this.

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Carolyn Hughes August 20, 2012 at 4:35 am

A very powerful piece and one that does need to be told.Possibly the worst cases of abuse are those that are committed by so called Christians. (Look at the devastation today in Ireland with cases of abuse by Catholic priests).
This clearly show that any abuser is a predator. They choose the victim and know exactly how to manipulate and control. 
The more we understand the mind of the abuser the better we can protect ourselves and others.

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Susan McKenzie August 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

Great comments, Denny and Carolyn – thank you! Shortly after I published this article I discovered another writer had just written: “Why the Christian Abuser is the Worst Kind” at http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/abuse-and-christianity-why-the-christian-abuser-is-the-worst-kind-by-jeff-crippen/#comment-3857 – It’s very informative.

One of author, Jeff Crippen’s quotes: The fact that an abuser who is a professing Christian is the worst kind of abuser also has implications for victims and for those who would help those victims. A woman, for example, whose husband is of this sort is actually facing an even more intensified degree of abuse. Why? Because, let me say it once more, being wicked and at the same time choosing to masquerade as a Christian requires a greater degree of evil. The raging abuser whose violence is plain to see may look far worse than the nice, respectable, saintly fellow we know at church and yet who is a demon at home. But think it through. Which one of the two is actually called a “wolf” by Christ?

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