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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:20 pm
Posts: 470
This is via the anti-cult network, ICSA. Link at the bottom:

Pink Slip From Billy Graham

Kenneth Garrett, DMin

Pastor, Grace Church, Portland, Oregon

I wasn’t surprised by the letter, but as I held it in my hands, my
stomach tightened. It read, “Regretfully, in light of the recent
decision of the Pastor’s Committee regarding the participation of your
church in the Crusade, we are sad to inform you that you are not
eligible to serve as a counselor for the Billy Graham Crusade. . . we
certainly hope that the Christian Life and Witness Classes will be of
benefit to you in your personal life in the days ahead.”

They didn’t want me, because they didn’t want my church. The small
committee of pastors who were leading Portland, Oregon’s efforts to
prepare for an upcoming Billy Graham crusade had determined that our
little church was no longer welcome to volunteer to serve in the
crusade. Who gets kicked out of a Billy Graham crusade?! As a
co-worker remarked several years later, “Wow. That’s really a trip,
Kenny. Nobody gets a pink slip from Billy Graham! But you did—you
should save that.”

A pink slip is a notice of dismissal from a job, and I had received
one from one of the most tolerant, welcoming Christian organizations
on earth. Throughout his long, illustrious ministry, religious and
denominational leaders had often criticized Reverend Graham for his
policy of inviting Christians from all denominational and doctrinal
backgrounds to join him as he sought to bring the citizens of their
cities to the Christian faith in his Crusades. The distinctions and
distrust between Catholics and Protestants, Pentecostals and
Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists, conservatives and liberals
were simply neither acknowledged (at least not openly), nor allowed to
become a barrier to participation in the city-wide crusades that had
made Billy Graham one of the most popular, recognized figures around
the globe. Many Christians volunteered their time, dollars, and energy
into creating a successful Crusade. Nobody gets a pink slip from Billy

Preparations began years before Graham arrived in the city for a
series of large, public events that would fill arenas. After the he
left town, the genuine hope of all churches was that some of those who
responded to his preaching would convert to Christianity and join a
church. I don’t think any churches ever exploded with growth after a
Billy Graham crusade—and I never sensed that churches were depending
on their involvement with Graham to significantly increase their
numbers, but they could always hope.

My small, fundamentalist, bible church was no different. Upon hearing
of the plans for the 1992 Portland Crusade, our pastor shifted our
church of 40 members into high gear. We met regularly to pray for the
crusade’s success and attended workshops for training to help new
Christians become established into the faith. We flooded the local
crusade office with offers to volunteer to answer phones, stuff
envelopes, and empty waste baskets.

How strange it must have seemed to the crusade office managers to see
members show up early, work long hours, and return the next day for
more of the same. They might have wondered, Do these people have
lives? What about their kids, their jobs, their schedules. . . the
rest of their lives? They didn’t realize that we were perfectly suited
to make such all-encompassing, consuming commitments to volunteering
for the crusade—because we were members of a high-control, cult-like
church that demanded that level of commitment and sacrifice from all
its members, all the time. After selling homes and cars, liquidating
retirement funds and savings accounts, and giving our time exclusively
to the programs, classes, and schedule of our little church—dropping
the kids off with a babysitter and spending an eight-hour day
answering phones or assembling mailers was a piece of cake.

But then, just a few months before the crusade, trouble came knocking.

The father of a former member of the church reported to the Pastor’s
Committee that our pastor had attempted to seduce his daughter, a
single-woman in her twenties. His daughter also told him of other
young women in the church whom he had also approached. Phone calls
were made, letters were exchanged, accusations denied (vehemently),
victims were hated (by us), and our volunteers began to note a
distinct chill in the air at the crusade office.

I don’t recall if we requested a meeting with the committee, or the
committee requested a meeting with us, but a meeting was scheduled. I
didn’t think it strange at the time that our pastor demanded that he,
his associate pastor, his brother, and his deacons (of which I was
one) all be included in the meeting, but that was his demand, despite
the committee’s desire that he meet alone with them to address the
allegations. So, there we were, the leadership team of our little
church striding into the crusade office to meet with the committee.
The dark suits we all wore that warm June day were very uncomfortable
and given the jeans and business-casual nature of the Pastor’s
Committee, were out of place. I suppose our pastor thought such a
presentation was a type of show of force.

The meeting was awkward, forced, and very uncomfortable. It seemed
clear to me that the committee members did not want to discuss
specific allegations about our pastor in front of those of us he’d
brought to the meeting. Our point was that the Pastor’s Committee had
not followed the biblical direction for confronting a fellow believer
whom one suspected of sin. They should have privately contacted the
pastor, we argued. They should have ensured that not a whisper of
scandal was allowed in the office. Our pastor had been wronged, and so
we were wronged. His reputation and good standing in the community was
under attack by religious professionals, and—worst of all—they refused
to divulge just who it was that had lodged the complaint. We felt it
was a matter of fairness that the identity of our pastor’s accuser be
made known—and that they confront him openly, along with his accuser.
So, we sat through the meeting, which lasted all of a half-hour or so.
There was no conclusion, no decision, no next step, etc., just a
goodbye, thanks for coming in, we’ll be in touch.

A very strange thing happened to me in the moments after the meeting.
As we were leaving the meeting room, one of the committee members, the
pastor of a large church in Portland, pulled me aside. He was a very
soft-spoken man, and very kind. No one noticed that he’d singled me
out, and the office around us appeared to me to become very still and
quiet. He shook my hand, looked deeply into my eyes, and said, “Ken, I
really like your spirit. I appreciate your heart. Thank you for coming
in.” He paused. “You’re a good guy, Ken.” Then, the room became
animated again—we were walking out of the meeting, typists were typing
(it was 1992!), papers were being shuffled, and phones were ringing.
We walked out of the building into the summer heat and drove home to
the large house where several of us lived communally with the pastor.

Most of the church members were waiting for us—eager to hear of how
the meeting went, what they said, and what we said, and what the
conclusion of the whole affair might be. They had gathered for prayer
during the time of the meeting. Would our pastor be vindicated? Would
the committee see that he’d been set up, that the devil was
doubtlessly attacking our little, faithful church, to thwart the goals
and hard work that had gone into making the crusade a success? Would
these pastors and seminary professors see the obvious attack on our
pastor, by a disgruntled ex-member!? We reported back to our church
our recollection of the meeting, making ourselves sound very much in
control and full of confidence. We presented the committee as
less-than-knowledgeable, and even a bit intimidated by our bearing,
our comments, and our dark suits.

Within days our pastor crafted a tome that rivaled any of the epistles
of the New Testament and mailed it to the committee. In the letter he
chided the committee members for their unbiblical approach to the
issue, their slander against our pastor, and he reminded them of the
great sacrifices of service being made by our volunteers in their
office. It was quite a document; just biblical enough to dodge overt
criticism, and angry and defensive enough to rebuke the committee. We
all praised the pastor for the letter he’d written. I certainly joined
in the applause. But deep down, I was a bit embarrassed by it. All in
all, it was very defensive and seemed certain to further alienate our
church from the crusade.

Within a week all our members who had volunteered for the coming
crusade, each and every one, received a letter from the Pastor’s
Committee, notifying us that we had been identified as belonging to a
group of which grave allegations had been made, and that, while our
support thus far was much appreciated, we were no longer welcome to
volunteer for the crusade. We were fired from the most welcoming,
ecumenical, big-tent ministry on the planet. All kinds of Christians
were welcomed by the Billy Graham team, for goodness sakes! Not us,

The expulsion of our church had a very profound effect on our church,
and on me. As a church, the pink slip was jolting. We knew we were a
bit out there, that we were more demanding than other churches, but
never dreamed we stood out that much! The letter also ushered in a
deeper level of sadness regarding our church. Many of our members,
myself included, hoped that the crusade, and the new members that we
hoped would join our church because of the crusade, would lead us out
of the past few years of isolation and discouragement. Rumors and
reports were running through the church of our pastor’s forays into
drinking, drug use, and questionable contact with both single and
married women in the church. While these accounts were vehemently
denied by the pastor and his friends and family, the stories were out
there and didn’t seem very hard to believe. After the committee’s
decision to exclude our church from the crusade, he withdrew further
into what became his addiction to opioids and alcohol and seemed more
flagrant in his abusive behaviors. Many in the church also gave up and
followed him of the moral cliff he’d led them to.

I think he was relieved by the pink slip. It temporarily brought
relief from the fear of the exposure of his secret crimes. Besides the
adultery, drunkenness, strong-arming members for money, running
rough-shod over the church and making everyone generally miserable, he
had been molesting young girls, the daughters of church members. He is
now in the Oregon State Prison serving a twenty-year sentence.

For me, the pink slip had a profound effect, and it marks the time
when I began to experience an inner deliberation to leave the church.
When I was, in effect, fired by Billy Graham, I was ashamed and
embarrassed. My dream of one day becoming pastor of a church
evaporated. I abandoned all such hopes.

I did attend one of the crusade services one warm evening when it came
to town that summer. My 9-year old daughter and I stood in a
high-school football field, the overflow location for the nearby
stadium, watching Billy Graham on a huge screen put up in an end-zone.
It was surreal—having envisioned myself as serving a part in the
crusade, angsts all resolved, life cleaned up, leading a bible study,
or going to seminary, or preaching—but instead, there I stood, dazed,
in a field, watching the whole show go on without me on a screen.

But then, I remembered what happened after the committee meeting, in
the hallway when that pastor stopped me to speak to me, and the whole
world around us seemed to be thrust into suspended animation.

“Ken, I really like your spirit. I appreciate your heart. Thank you
for coming in. You’re a good guy, Ken.”

As I reflected, tiny seeds of doubt and confirmation planted by that
pastor and the pink slip I’d received began to send out some tiny
roots into my soul. By that time, I knew that our pastor was certainly
guilty of all he’d been accused of by his unidentified victim. I knew
he was a cad, an abusive, addicted, self-absorbed man. But, who was I?
Where did I fit into the whole mess?

Ken, I really like your spirit.

I began, increasingly, to view myself as outside the church. I was
present there physically, but emotionally and psychologically the
train had left the station, carrying me far away from the church that
functioned as a cult. Once I began to think like that, it was only a
matter of time before my wife, our children, and I walked out the door
and into a life of spiritual and physical health and joyous freedom.

Churches that abuse their members create an atmosphere that is toxic
and smothering to the point that their members fear leaving yet hate
staying. The control and the countless emotional hooks paralyze
members until they start down that mental path of simply imagining
life outside the church, away from the abuse.

That’s what I began to imagine, and in a short time, my imagination
guided my thinking and planning and even gave me courage to walk out
the door. Before he even arrived in Portland, Billy Graham played a
part in my departure from the abusive church.

“Whoa, that’s really a trip, Kenny. Nobody gets a pink slip from Billy
Graham! But you did—you should save that.”

Well, it was a trip. And I certainly don’t know of anyone else in the
world who’s been turned away from volunteering at a Billy Graham
Crusade. And I did keep the letter, a pink slip to be grateful for.

ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association)

P.O. Box 2265

Bonita Springs, FL 34133

Phone: 1-239-514-3081

fax: 1-305-393-8193


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:28 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:54 pm
Posts: 109
"Churches that abuse their members create an atmosphere that is toxic
and smothering to the point that their members fear leaving yet hate
staying. The control and the countless emotional hooks paralyze
members until they start down that mental path of simply imagining
life outside the church, away from the abuse."


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