The Church Mafia – Spiritual abuse in our churches

Posted: January 4, 2008 in False Doctrine, False Teachers
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual abuse from todays churches is something that has bothered me for the longest of time. From burning people out in ministry so that they do not spend any time with their families to manipulating and controlling people about their money, this type of abuse leaves many people disillusioned with church and more importantly with God.

In the same way people suffer in silence when it comes to physical or sexual abuse, people suffer in silence when it comes to spiritual abuse. It was only the other day when I was speaking to someone who was doing this very thing. The only reason why he has stayed where he is is because he brought his friend to church and he would not feel right just upping and leaving because of what his friend might think. But he is not happy at all, especially when the Pastor is constantly begging for money to fund a new building

I came across Pastor Jay Cameron of Urban Change Ministries who has done a stage play called The Church Mafia (which I havent seen but it sounds good). I am sure there are many people who can relate to what he is saying in the following interviews.

Freedom From Bondage Part 1 with Jay Cameron

Freedom From Bondage Part 2 with Jay Cameron

Freedom From Bondage Part 3 with Jay Cameron

I know nothing about this ministry but going on what he says below alone, he seems to have his head screwed on and I just pray that many people will have their eyes opened by what he has said.

There is too much of this stuff going on and when someone stands up to speak out against it in this manner, there will be a backlash from unexpected quarters (i.e. church people) because people do not want truth but want their ears tickled. Lets pray for Pastor Jay Cameron and also for those who are caught up in this mess

Related post:

The Church Mafia – Spiritual abuse in our churches – A Testimony

Spiritual Abuse – Don’t Suffer in Silence

A victim of the Church Mafia needs help

  1. karenfriends says:

    This really is a humbling topic. You can be a Christian, go to church, etc but still be deceived. I pray the Holy Spirit would lead and guide me. That if anything that is not of Him…that it would be burnt up as hay and stubble.
    I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and God has been shaking and shaking like nobodys business! Honestly, it has been a hard time. Some people look for a reason to down Christians and they delight when one falls. It has been a very sad scenario here. Anyway…I am glad I found your blog and I will mark it so I can come back and do so studying. I listened a bit to Pastor Jay and will listen to the entirety when I put my kiddos to bed. God bless you and guide you!

  2. Alan Higgins says:

    That is my prayer all the time. I am always saying to God, if I am being deceived in any way, show me.

  3. Eboniece says:

    Thank you so much this was so needful to me and my husband we just came out of church mafia and can identify with alot of the things Pastor carman spoke of concerning this matter. It was like he was at our church the whole time.
    I bless God for using him to help the body of Christ understand that this is not the will of God for his church and we must reconize this spirit that the devil is trying to creep in the church with.
    The hard part is finding another place we can call home
    cause we know God has gifted us with so much and this is not the end, however it is a transition.

  4. Alan Higgins says:

    Eboniece, like you said, finding a good biblical church with Christ centered preaching is very hard these days but they are out there. ‘Seek and you shall find’ but with the state of churches these days, this may take months. Pray earnestly to God and he will lead you to the right church which will help you grow spiritually and have him at the center of everything you do.

  5. julia turner says:

    (copy and paste this to your browser. check out more of blair wingos stuff from p4cm which is her ministry

  6. liz says:

    I also came out of a church mafia a few short months ago but unfortunatley without my husband. I had been a faithful memeber and leader in this facility for just a few years. It seems as if Pastor Cameron belonged to my church. Though I stayed a lot longer because of what I did in ministry, not feeling free to worship was what helped me make my decision to leave. I made a choice to leave my ministry behind (knowing still that my calling and ministry was far from over). When I felt a burden and knots in my stomach in going to this facility and on the other hand, free and with a clear mind when i was not there, I knew that I had to make a decision. I also, was cursed when I left this place by the “man of God” and told that I (the female) have put a curse on my husband and children and turning my back on the “man of God” was something that I could go to HELL for! Though I was always faithful in ministry and any other thing I did for the church, I was the devil, an immature baby-saint and every ungodly thing. Unfortunatley my husband still feels the need to be there and so we are divided in our own home. I also know that God has the final say. But I pray that other married couples in this situation beg God for the spirit of discernment. You have to WANT TO KNOW the truth and accept what God is telling you. There are some who CHOOSE to be willingly ignorant but you will be held accountable for that as well. I pray that believers get connected to Christ and stop trying to get connected to men and women who claim to be “of God”. Without the spirit of discernemnt you really do not know who God’s chosen are. Do not be deceieved and please stay in prayer and fasting. We have nothing without the Holy Ghost.

  7. Alan Higgins says:

    Liz, I am happy that you have been able to remove yourself from that environment but at the same time sad that supposed ‘ministers’ would ‘curse’ you in this manner and that this whole situation has affected your marriage. I know that there are many people who are still entrapped by the church mafia and I thank God that you are free. Like you said, you have to WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH and that may mean laying down some of your traditional thinking and picking up biblical teaching. I will definitely keep you and your family in my prayers.

    Remain faithful


  8. Faith says:

    God Bless Everyone:

    I have recently left an organization which I thought I would be a part of for many, many years or at least until I went home to be with the Lord. I am a young woman who was in search of spiritual guidance and leadership. Unfortunately, what I found was control, witchcraft, legalism, tradition and a judgemental spirit. The church was also indoctrinated with rules and regulations that would constitute holiness.

    God had to show me in his grace and mercy that what I experienced was not of God but rather mans qualifications for holiness. What am I talking about? I became what somebody else wanted me to be instead of what God wanted me to be. I allowed leaders and a church to define my holiness instead of seeking God. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all of his righteousness and all things shall be added unto you. That is what the Word tells us. I allowd the teaching to strip me of my identity and therefore I became a clone of somebody else or a robot of what holiness should look like.

    I was told that women should not wear pants, make-up or cut their hair. Before my life of salvation I wore make-up very modestly and I never thought of it as enticing or in the nature of Jezebel as it was constantly reminded in so many sermons. I wore make-up rather as something that would enhance myself as a woman and as a finishing touch to attire. I never idolized make-up. I also enjoy being multi-faceted when it came to my wardrobe. I do not think that I should stop wearing pants because the word says “A woman should not wear that which pertains to a man”. I believe that these man made rules put no emphasis on righteousness but rather put works as a precurser for true holiness. My holiness is not predicated upon whether I wear make-up, pants, or cut my hair. I am free in Christ Jesus and who the son of man sets free is free indeed!

    I felt like I was in bondage. I began to judge others who wore pants and make-up. I began to feel low and down trodden with the burden of this facade of what holiness should look like. I became a clone instead of being myself. One day I looked in the mirror and I looked worn out and beat up. My face was dry and I did not look like I had the joy of the Lord. My hair has been thinning so when I wear a short hair style it looks neater classier. I felt like I did not fit in because I wanted the short hair. The pastor would say that in Corinthians it stated if a woman cut her hair she might as well shave it all off. So much pressure. One day I heard an ispiring message by G.E. Patterson which began my transformation.

    I began to seek God and I prayed for him to open my eyes. I felt sad and heavy. I began to gain weight because of the depression. As I began to seek God he began to show me what was the problem. I heard him say in a soft voice “legalism”. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. As I began my transition I began to get purged of all the church doctrine and tradition that was implanted in my brain for 4 years. I was so messed up to the point I felt like I wanted to commit suicide. But God, in his loving kindness saw fit that I would be delivered.

    Today I have on make-up, I wear pants in freedom and I don’t feel like I am going to hell because I have either one on. I thank God for salvation. I am going to order the play Church Mafia. I pray that all born again believer seek God and not man regarding their salvation. Do not let man decide who you should be but let God mold you into the person he designed you to be. God bless you!

  9. Alan Higgins says:

    Faith, all I can say is snap. Especially when you said that you felt like a clone. It feels so good to be myself but a new creature in Christ. I praise God for the liberty that you now have in him because as you said, you have been released from legalism. I think I am going to put your testimony as a separte post. God bless you.It would also be interesting to know what message you heard that changed you. Can it be found online?


  10. Alan – fisrt of all this is a great blog. Very thought provoking…

    I’m a little late in finding and responding to this post, but I’m working on an article of my own experiences in the mafia (i.e. black charasmatic church) here in Atlanta, GA.

    I served in ordained ministry and (unfortunately) I subscribed to the theory of “out of sight, out of mind” – whenever someone left our assembly, they essentially didn’t exist to us anymore. “How can they leave this good teaching and this man of God” we wondered aloud.

    I’ve seen families torn apart because one spouse stopped following flesh, repented, and re-submitted themselves to Christ. I get visitors to my blog who are still trapped in the mafia (or on the plantation, as I call it). I get calls from friends who wonder if I lost my mind because I stopped running after the “man of God”.

    This is a cancer within the Body, and sadly, most folks are happily going along their way.

    THanks for being another voice crying in the wilderness…

  11. Alan Higgins says:

    Thanks for stopping by and for your insightful input especially the part whre you say “I subscribed to the theory of “out of sight, out of mind” – whenever someone left our assembly, they essentially didn’t exist to us anymore. “How can they leave this good teaching and this man of God” we wondered aloud.”

    No doubt there are many ministers who only think about feeding the flock but not caring for them

  12. Tara says:

    I am about to walk out of christianity as I am so misunderstood within the Body of Christ. I have been saved for the past 12 years and never was able to submit to ungodly behavior or abuse. Because I spoke out, I was told I am demonic and there is a spirit of Jezebel on me. My husband also told me that the Holy Spirit told him, I have a bad attitude and he left for 2 weeks after 3 months of marriage. i was devastated and wanted to know what type of God was I serving. I apologize for my behavior in order to please him, because I was told my spiritual leaders I must walk in forgiveness. It is now 5 years and still experiencing the condemnation at home as well as the church. Because I share my concerns, they labelled me as having a victim mentality. I am frustrated and feels as if I am in a prision. I can write more . My pastors told me I cannot do anything within the church at the cost of my marriage but they believe my husband is called to be in the worship team. I sat for several months Sunday after Sunday with a broken heart, as I must submit to my husband. Now my husband is using this against me, saying these pastors are right and now see why they deny as ministry activity.

    I cried out for help many times, I beg and pleaded. I even curse God and told him I am going to be a Muslim. I rip my Bible because of the frustration. What must I do, I so desperately need help. I cannot even backslide, I tried but never succeed in going back to life before I was a christian.

    Please help me

  13. Alan Higgins says:

    Tara let me first start by praying for you.

    Lord, here is your daughter in need. In the same way you know how many hairs are on my head, you know the intricacies of this situation. You know what’s best, you know why you have allowed her to go through this, you know what the end result will be. Help me and any others to speak wise words and godly counsel which will help her in this situation and ultimately bring glory to your name. We also pray for her husband and the marriage on the whole which seems to be taking a strain. We pray that Tara will remain faithful to you and will remain in your word and constant prayer. Help her not to lose communication with you which is her lifeline. We ask this in Jesus name.


    Tara, let me assure you that you are not in a unique situation and there are countless others. (See Liz’s comment above). The first thing I would have said is to speak to your pastor but obviously in this case, it is out of the question. I am not sure if you have any godly people around you who knows the whole situation who can give you some godly advice as this may not be straight forward.

    However I will put my two cents in, based solely on what you have told me. First of all, I like the fact that you said “I cannot even backslide, I tried but never succeed in going back to life before I was a christian.” A true christian can go through seasons of dryness but on knowing the truth and truly repenting, God’s seal is on that person. See John Macarthurs quote at and also read

    Your pastor was right when he basically said that your home should come before ministry but it is double standards if the rules do not apply to your husband as well. A ministers first ministry is the home and this is shown in 1 Tim 3:5. A condemning spirit should not be coming from the home. If your concerns are biblically correct, then sometimes, unfortunately, you will be misunderstood. Jesus said that a servant is not above his master. If they hated Jesus, they will hate you also so sometimes we have to expect it.

    These are all the symptoms of a church mafia because they have a controlling spirit but stay in the fight. I know how it is to feel that you are a prisoner in your own home. Dont think about walking out on christianity or should I say more specifically, on Christ. Do not judge christianity or Jesus based on the actions of his presumed followers. That would be like your friend punching me in my nose and then me saying that I hate you for it.

    I wish I could have an easy answer, but the reality is this will not change overnight and it could be that even in your frustration, God could be showing some areas in your life that you would never have known about unless you went through this. I dont know. But what I do know is that God knows everything and somehow (I dont know how) you will learn from this.

    You are going through spiritual and emotional abuse and it must be very painful but you have made the first step in speaking out.

    The bible says in 2 Cor 13:1 “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” and so I think it would be wise if some others weighed in on this also. I will be starting a post specifically to address this matter and hopefully, others will be able to help you and give advice also. We are all part of the body of Christ and we are hurting with you

    1 Cor 12:24-26
    But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26IF ONE PART SUFFERS, EVERY PART SUFFERS WITH IT; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

  14. The Pilgrim says:

    Dear Tara:

    I can completely understand your frustration and hurt. I too got caught up in similar type churches which led to a 9 1/2 year backslide (if I was ever truly saved . . . which I do not believe I was).

    What brought me back (or to salvation) was simply reading God’s Word for myself: book after book, chapter after chapter, sentence after sentence, word after word. It transformed me and I then understood that those churches were in gross error at best, apostasy at worst.

    I recommend diving into the Word and prayer. I know it sounds trite, but you will begin to see things and understand things that will comfort and strengthen you.

    You also won’t find anything about a “spirit of Jezebel” or anyone in the New testament Church being “called to be in the worship team.” More often than not the “calling” consists of “can you play an instrument?”

    My point is that there’s a lot of things you’ll be told by these people, but very little of which can be backed up by Scripture. When you come to understand that they are starting from a corrupted foundation, you will see things much clearer.

    Giving up on the false churches (as I have) is the best thing one can do, but don’t give up on Jesus Christ. Cling to Him and cling to Him alone even if everyone else fails you.


    -The Pilgrim

  15. Dexter Lilo says:

    The problem with religion today is that it has gone out of the mission statement of God. Instead of making man in the image of God ( Gen 1: 26 ) they have made made man according to their own image, so that people behave and speak like their own religion instead of speaking and behaving like God. The Bible says thou shalt not make any graven image unto thyself, yet religion has thought it fit just to do that. Jay Cameron is right on target. Keep up the ministry

  16. L. says:

    Wow! I can relate to many of you who responded. My husband’s family is Seventh Day Adventist. And I’d attended and was on the verge of converting when something stopped me. I just never shook the feeling that it was not what I really wanted to do or be involved in. My daughter has always gone to church with my in-laws and I believe that I began to go for that reason. But, I felt like I was putting on a “front” of sorts because there are many beliefs that SDA’s have that I just don’t agree with. At first I kept thinking it was because I didn’t know the Bible like the other people in the church but as I began to learn more, I had more and more questions and concerns. I stopped going to church altogether. I would like to find a place of worship where I don’t feel pressured in any way. I’d like to go to a church where I can first be “me” and then evolve into the person the God wants me to be.

  17. Paulette Rawlins says:

    I have read all the posts here and find it a little intriguing. it seems slanted to the USA but this is a worldwide problem. I live in the UK and this happens here too, in black , white and everything in between churches. It happens in many denominations. I hvae never been a conformist clone but I have, since my salvation 17 years ago, always tried to adhere to Gods word through the help of the Holy Ghost. It has been strange to see so many Christians trying to fit into a group of people a couple of times a week when this is not what the bible calls church. We spend so much of our time tring to follow mens traditions because we sre too lazy to study to show ourselves approved to GOD! We need to get back to the word of God rightly dividing the word of truth. The bible calls the church a remnant! Remnamst are the thrown away offcuts of carpet that didn’t fitt into the neatly prepared room once the carpet was “properly fitted”. We need to stop trying to fit into this room and start allowing God to make us into the great and beautiful patchwork rug for HIS temple.

  18. Alan Higgins says:

    I totally agree Paulette. If you look at some of my other posts, I have mentioned some UK ministries also. Thanks for your comments

  19. Deb says:

    Wow not seen this before just read and clicked link from page re leaving church.

    But I’ve been there done that and never realised how much I did in the Church untill I left at God’s request.
    It took me a while to settle at my new Church but so glad I did hear, test and obey God cos my spirit life is sooooo much lighter and realised I had more stress from church than my 9-5 job!


  20. Thanks for speaking out on this issue

  21. Jay says:

    You might like this:
    Church Mafia, this denomination have their own set of bullies, and they hurt big time…

    Chin up, J

  22. Anne says:

    If you try to help some victims of abuse may turn on you and label you a slanderer or trouble maker. Police records show when trying to rescue women from abusive husbands physical violence the wives may turn around and defend the husbands and file complaints on the Police. Various Old Testament people wanted to stone Moses and go back the bondage under the Pharoah!

    I had a former friend whose Pastor said do not hang wtih broke & poor people. Can you imagine anyone during this from the Pulpit in this economic recession where good people are lost jobs through no fault of their own and have someone defend a Pastor like this? I say some people are victims by choice and as long as they defend and support abusive it will continue to happen. No one should be above constructive criticism!

  23. Anne says:

    It iss also abusive to say God will curse you if you can not PAY tithes. This was said to Jews under a completely different Covenant before Jesus died to fulfill the law and paid our debts in full. There is no logic in the Tithe Police using the Malachi curse on Christians when Galatians 3:13-14 said Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law so we have the bliessing because of faith in Jesus.
    There is nothing in the New Testament after Jesus said Paid in full from the Cross as in it is finished (fufilled) about keeping the Sabbath, or tithing. Christians have been redeemed from the curse of the law. All who cannot see the logic in the fact that you cannot be redeemed from the curse of the law and still bound by the Malachi 3 curse is refusing to believe the curse and not what the New Covenant New Testament. If they refuse Grace and prefer lawkeeping they are to blame for being mislead cause the truth is out there if anyone wants to acknowledge it.

  24. Anne says:

    Christians Dont be stupid! You cannot be cursed for not keeping the tithe law, when another scriptures says “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law! Gal. 3:13-14” Can’t people who swallow the Malachi curse see this verse in the New Testmanent Galatians 3:13 cancels out the other verse? Think people! My God, Help Us!

  25. John says:

    I’ve only read but a few lines and I see that you are still hurting….. look up the Law has not been done away with! The Law is about Jesus, Yashua, which is His Hebrew name. The Word is not to be read at face value, there are parables from beginning to end in the bible. Elohiym (God) is speaking mysteries He speaks in symbolisms and we need to know what He is saying to us the modern day church! You need to download esword the bible with an electronic edge! This tool has the Strongs concordance and other dictionaries that will help you! The Bible is full of mysteries that we need to understand, because there is no rapture! The thousand year millenial reign and rule with Yashua is going to be here on earth, we need to understand who the enemy really is!

  26. Nathan says:

    Thank you for website. Traditions of men , seem to be the trouble here,ignorantly following men ,ignoring the words of our Lord!

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