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Monday, August 4, 2014

Photos from the Mars Hill Church Protest in Bellevue

Posted by on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The we are not anonymous poster refers to pastor Mark Driscolls recent comment that he cant reconcile with church critics because he doesnt know who they are.
  • Becky Garrison
  • The "we are not anonymous" poster refers to pastor Mark Driscoll's recent comment that he can't "reconcile" with church critics because he doesn't know who they are.

After a big buildup of pressure, media coverage, blog posts, and social media buzz, demonstrators who attended this past Sunday's protest at Mars Hill Church's Bellevue campus said it was a restrained spectacle. The people waving signs and talking to passersby had shown up to protest pastor Mark Driscoll's autocratic leadership at Mars Hill Church—leadership that's been called into question after a series of controversies.

Rob Smith and Jim Henderson, who were both there yesterday, say the protest attracted between 65 and 80 people holding signs asking churchgoers to "question Mark." (Smith is a former Mars Hill insider; Henderson has never been a Mars Hill member, but he is a Christian and a longtime Mars Hill observer.) There were no altercations, but a church member came out to offer the demonstrators coffee and doughnuts.

"I quipped that I hoped the Global Fund didn't pay for them," Smith says.

A demonstrator outside the Mars Hill Bellevue campus this past Sunday, protesting pastor Mark Driscolls autocratic leadership and a series of scandals, including controversy over the churchs ostensible global fund that went back into its general fund.
  • Becky Garrison
  • Mars Hill recently admitted that millions of dollars donated to its Global Fund, supposedly bound for projects in Ethiopia and India, actually went into Mars Hill's general fund, which raised questions about how much of the general fund goes toward Driscoll's salary.

In the Christian world, Henderson says, offering coffee and doughnuts is a "political gesture," signaling hospitality and friendship—perhaps in an attempt to distract from the more concrete complaints of the demonstrators. Henderson says he perceives Driscoll as "a broken human being who has been unable to bring his character under control—we can all relate, but the difference is that he's on a huge platform. I've spent a lot of time around addicts, I've been impacted by them personally, and that makes it impossible for me to ignore his pattern."

What, exactly, does Henderson think Driscoll is addicted to? Power. Maybe other things too. Henderson points out that in sermons, Driscoll seems very focused on sex, authority, and submission.

Some Christians protesting Mars Hill are concerned that Driscolls style is driving people away from Christianity instead of bringing them towards it.
  • Becky Garrison
  • Some Christians protesting Mars Hill are concerned that Driscoll's style is driving people away from Christianity instead of bringing them toward it.

Other demonstrators were more measured in their comments. Some former insiders, like Smith, want reconciliation with Driscoll. As a South African who lived through apartheid, Smith knows a thing or two about truth and reconciliation processes. "Dean [the church spokesperson] said, 'We started a reconciliation commission,'" Smith says. "I said, 'If it's not binding arbitration, it doesn't mean anything to me.'"

Driscoll also has a history of comparing feminism with hell itself. During one service I personally attended in 2012, he told husbands to think of their wives as their garden. If you look at your garden and dont like the way it looks, he said to the men in the house, they should remember you are the gardener.
  • Becky Garrison
  • Driscoll has a history of comparing feminism with hell itself. During a service in 2012, Driscoll told husbands to think of their wives as their "garden." If you look at your garden and don't like the way it looks, he said to the men in the house, just remember: "You are the gardener."

"Anyone who thinks Christians shouldn't protest other Christians, shouldn't air our dirty laundry—I'm so over that," Smith says. "If people know what's going and still want to stay silent, they'll have to answer to God."

Smith and Henderson say a few current Mars Hill members joined the ex-members (as well as a handful of atheists) in the demonstration, saying they want to remain in the church and change it from within. There is a general consensus that the church ought to return control of its resources to a robust and independent council of elders—the way the church was structured pre-2007, when Driscoll changed church bylaws to concentrate power into his own hands.

In the short term, Henderson doesn't expect much will happen unless other national, pastoral big shots—such as Jim Piper, John Keller John Piper, Tim Keller, and Rick Warren—tell Driscoll that his way of doing business is driving people away from Christianity rather than bringing them toward it.

Mars Hill Church responded to the demonstrations with a petulant internal e-mail that began:

This past Sunday outside our building about 60 professing Christians led a protest, left a bit of trash, and slandered good men.

Both Smith and Henderson laugh off the "left a bit of trash" opening, saying there were just a few coffee cups left on the table Mars Hill set up because there wasn't a garbage can. "If we left trash, I will publicly repent," Smith says. "I'll hold myself to never do that again, I'll run laps, whatever."

But the "trash" is a minor distraction in a very serious conversation, he adds.

In a 2007 talk the day after he fired two church elders for questioning his consolidation of power, Driscoll told a room full of young church-planters: There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus, and by God’s grace it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus or get run over by the bus.
  • Becky Garrison
  • In 2007, the day after Driscoll fired two church elders for questioning his consolidation of power, Driscoll told a room full of young "church-planters": "There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus, and by God’s grace it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus or get run over by the bus."

The 2013 Mars Hill annual report claims that more than 21,000 people attended Easter Sunday services and that it earned more than $26 million in income during the year, the vast majority of which came via member donations. (But it's important to note that while Mars Hill is registered as a tax-exempt nonprofit, it does not disclose its financials to or other common due-diligence sites, making its external reports unverifiable and journalistically useless.)

In related news, Eleanor Petry, the 19-year-old daughter of ex-Mars Hill elder Paul Petry (who was a source for this Mars Hill story) is still hospitalized following the bicycle accident she was in last week. Smith says she's doing better but still in and out of consciousness. A crowd-funding site has raised more than $26,000 to help cover her family's medical bills. If you want to donate, go right over here.

This post has been updated since its original publication.


Comments (24) RSS

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When you divert funds into other accounts - in this case donations meant for charity sent to the general fund - isn't that considered fraud? If so, can't the attorney general get involved? Though I'm sure Driscoll would probably pull a Cliven Bundy, with a bit more of a theological bent.
Posted by StuckInUtah on August 4, 2014 at 4:16 PM · Report this
sperifera 2
Posted by sperifera on August 4, 2014 at 4:47 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 4
Those big pieces of paper destroy forests. The magic marker ink is toxic and will pollute our water. When will these losers wake up to... hello? I always carry a TV sized iPad when I demonstrate at a protest.
Posted by dnt trust me on August 4, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Report this
@ 3. Thanks. Got that.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on August 4, 2014 at 5:04 PM · Report this
These poor ex-church members are like people protesting the Nigerian millionaire scam. Their posters should read "Obvious scam is a SCAM!!!" I'm not happy Driscoll abused their donations and emotional investment, and perhaps there some kids coming out of rough lives who can't really be blamed for not seeing what should be obvious. But any adult gullible enough to hook up with Driscoll's outfit is probably going to just fall in with another con man, if not him. Maybe Benny Hinn can heal their problems.

Posted by peterga on August 4, 2014 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Hey now. You sheep can criticize your shepherd without vilifying those of us who don't play that game, aye?
Posted by treehugger on August 4, 2014 at 8:44 PM · Report this
"This past Sunday outside our building about 60 **professing** Christians led a protest, left a bit of trash, and slandered good men."

Why add the word 'professing'? For non believers: no church on earth decides who is or who is not a Christen no matter what their behavior.

Ephesians 1:4, 1:

Peter 1:20:
Posted by amandak on August 4, 2014 at 9:40 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 10
I want to have sympathy for the protesters but let's face some reality: they were willing participants in Mark Driscoll's misogynistic hate ridden bullshit from the pulpit. So what were they expecting from this cult leader?
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on August 5, 2014 at 3:20 AM · Report this
We expected honesty, meaning, truth and beauty...hard line Biblical truth and respect for women. We expected our pastor to never abuse his power and not lie to us telling us people were "in sin" and to be shunned because they disagreed with them that he shouldn't have ultimate authority over all our lives. It wasn't obvious in the beginning because we wanted a church without white walls like a dentist office, where hymns could be radical and not mundane and where people could use their God given talents to bring others to worship Christ. We wanted history, context and culture taught with the text and we wanted someone who wouldn't mince words. In the beginning Mark had friends who were gay and they would debate from the Bible together over their differences and give EACH OTHER flack in the spirit of love. Walk a mile in our shoes and understand our betrayal. Men were talked to who were harsh to their wives. Now women are silenced and afraid to say anything. We wanted to prove that churh disn't have to be boring or a self help sermon by someone who got their message off the internet. We stayed praying for change and hoping leadership would steer the ship to safety. The prevailing thought when members are tossed overboard now, is "I'm glad it wasn't me."
Posted by cynnerjane on August 5, 2014 at 7:57 AM · Report this
JonnoN 12
@11 so you wanted a cult where the leader is nicer. If you're looking for sympathy I think you're in the wrong place. Try living your own life, those who profess to speak for magic sky man have no answers for you.
Posted by JonnoN on August 5, 2014 at 8:41 AM · Report this
Foghorn Leghorn 13
@12 Hahahaha. Word.
Posted by Foghorn Leghorn on August 5, 2014 at 8:52 AM · Report this
sikandro 14
Referring to Mars Hill as a cult is a lazy and unproductive critique. It reveals nothing about why many people have left, why many people have stayed, and why many in both camps still feel a great deal of ambivalence about Mars Hill (and Christianity in general.) The situation is more about ethics than it is about the rationality of specific beliefs or some cognitive weakness in participants. Christianity's overwhelming ethical impulse is to believe that any thing and any person can be reformed. There's a lot of good things to say about that impulse, along with some spectacular examples of its limits and failures.
Posted by sikandro on August 5, 2014 at 10:13 AM · Report this
JonnoN 15
Referring to Mars Hill as a cult is accurate. Sorry that makes you uncomfortable.
Posted by JonnoN on August 5, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
sikandro 16
Whether or not it's accurate doesn't change that it's lazy and unproductive (and boring.) Accuracy is a minimum standard for commentary, not the end of it.
Posted by sikandro on August 5, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Thete prolly aren't a lot of MH women who get knocked up and end up on the dole.
Posted by jeffy on August 5, 2014 at 11:21 AM · Report this
IndicaDogwalk 18
Mars Hill will go down in flames - soon. It's starting to happen and it's way past time. This CULT is starting to become exposed and Driscoll is going to go down like rat bigot he is. He needs to be humiliated as well as dragged through the gutter. He needs to be shit on and ruined. His time is coming - it's nearer than he knows. Mars Hill is a cult full of bigots and they will ROT.
Posted by IndicaDogwalk on August 5, 2014 at 1:09 PM · Report this
@16 No. It is neither "lazy" nor "unproductive" to call something what it is. It wasn't "lazy" for example when Time Magazine called Scientology the "Cult of Greed and Power," because that is exactly what Scientology has been and remains today. Nor was it "unproductive" for them to call Scientology a cult, because that label has helped untold others avoid it! Both Scientology and Mars Hill exemplify numerous characteristics of cults (authoritarian, cult speak, group think, suppression of dissent, use of guilt to manipulate members, and many, many more). Calling an organization which exhibits numerous signs of being a cult exactly what it is, is the right thing to do for everyone, whether you like it or not.
Posted by JoeBethersonton on August 5, 2014 at 3:39 PM · Report this
When 1 member say something not right than you might discount it but when there's a insider people should listen.For me there no man greater than God not even the POPE you know why they die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by DD601 on August 5, 2014 at 4:51 PM · Report this
sikandro 21
If it doesn't lead to additional inquiry, new information, or new angles for analysis, it's not productive.

The reasoning behind calling it a 'cult' is that the label is rhetorically powerful--that it's persuasive, in other words. My concern is that your rhetoric replaces substantive accusations and claims. When your rhetoric remains empty, you're either employing the tactics that you criticize here, or you aren't accomplishing what is supposed to be the basis for your actions. Who do you think you're persuading, in other words?
Posted by sikandro on August 5, 2014 at 5:21 PM · Report this
@21 Calling a duck a duck may not lead to "additional inquiry, new information, or new angles for analysis" but it is "productive" — because what the hell else would you call it?! Perhaps interestingly, in the case of Mars Hill, calling this cult a "cult" DOES lead to these things simply because people like yourself so far just can't bring themselves to admit this unpleasant but obvious and blatant fact. Once you do, you'll have plenty of "additional inquiry, new information, or new angles for analysis," believe me.
Posted by JoeBethersonton on August 5, 2014 at 6:55 PM · Report this
sikandro 23
The duck isn't helping your case. If you cook a duck, do you fry it with the feathers on? Do you drain the blood? A duck's a duck, so throw the whole thing in, right? If I'm eating a duck, it makes a difference how long the duck has been dead for. Is the meat rancid? Did it die of disease? Calling a duck a duck dodges those important questions. If you're a biologist, you call a duck a duck at the expense of understanding it in its environment, the way it differs from other ducks, the structure and functions of its body, and on and on. If it's obvious that it's a duck, treat it as something obvious and move on to understanding it both systematically and specifically.

I've been critical of and followed the controversies of Mars Hill for the better part of a decade. You think you're exposing something by calling it a cult. You're not. You're concealing its unique pathology by shutting down further inquiry.
Posted by sikandro on August 5, 2014 at 8:29 PM · Report this
@23 You wrote, "You think you're exposing something by calling it a cult."

No, if I'd thought I were "exposing something" by calling Mars Hill a "cult," I wouldn't have used words like "obvious" and "blatant" when alluding to Mars Hill's cultish attributes. It is not necessary to "expose" that which can be clearly seen, but it is necessary to name things for what they obviously are.

You're right that Mars Hill has a "unique pathology" — each authoritarian, manipulative cult (and its swaggering leader) does. And you are free to "further inquire" about the "unique pathology" belonging to Mars Hill all you want. No one is stopping you.

Meanwhile, while you're mincing words in the course of your decade-long "inquiry," numerous others are more interested in naming Mars Hill for what it is — a dangerous cult that people would do well to steer clear of.
Posted by JoeBethersonton on August 5, 2014 at 9:28 PM · Report this
Machiavelli 25
Driscoll and his codependent followers seem to possess all the typical traits of destructive narcissists.

Four dimensions of narcissism as a personality variable have been delineated: leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, self-absorption/self-admiration, and exploitativeness/entitlement.[6]

Power-hungry narcissists typically display most, and sometimes all, of the following traits:

An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
Difficulty with empathy
Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)
Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)
Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
Haughty body language
Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them (narcissistic supply)
Detesting those who do not admire them (narcissistic abuse)
Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
Pretending to be more important than they really are
Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
Claiming to be an "expert" at many things
Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
Denial of remorse and gratitude
Hotchkiss' seven deadly sins of narcissism
Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:[8]

Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.

Magical thinking:
Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.

A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.

Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an "awkward" or "difficult" person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.

Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.

Bad boundaries:
Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.
Posted by Machiavelli on August 6, 2014 at 6:11 PM · Report this
The term "Cult" comes from the world "Culture." So you can only call a church a "Cult" if there is a culture of abuse, and there certainly is. You can listen to Mark's sermons, see his behavior, and conclude that those in leadership are supporting him. Look at "odd behaviors" and see that the church leaders support him no matter what he does, that is a cult. It will progress into more of a cult as Mark continues to do crazy things and the church allows it to happen. It is progressive and dangerous.
Posted by Spiritual Abuse: Twisting Scriptures on September 5, 2014 at 12:08 PM · Report this

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