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Ron Enroth's Response To Jon Trott


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Reading Jon Trott's chapter as well as all the articles appearing in the earlier, infamous ''Enroth issue'' of Cornerstone magazine, one clearly gets the impression that I am bound and determined to attack, undermine, and sink the JPUSA ship. Let me quote again from page 151 of my book-a passage I quoted in my June 1994 letter to the editor of Cornerstone (which they never printed):

JPUSA pastors and Covenant administrators have reconceived my research findings as ''accusations,'' ''charges,'' and ''allegations.'' Unfortunately, this inaccurate redefinition of scholarly research may give some the impression that I am personally bringing complaints against a Covenant congregation. It unfairly casts me in an adversarial role, something I reject.

That adversarial role is reinforced in Jon Trott's recent publication. He does not quote any portions of my correspondence or published writing in which I convey my sincere hope that any problems at JPUSA will be addressed and resolved. He surely overlooks my statement on page 153 of Recovering From Churches That Abuse: ''I pray that . . . JPUSA will become a shining example that reconciliation with former members and genuine change are possible.'' Instead, he repeatedly questions my motives and sidesteps the main issues I raise. As one former member (not one of my interviewees) recently wrote me regarding the Trott chapter, ''I find it telling that they [JPUSA] through Jon are focusing on your methodology and presuming your motives and lending no credence to the voiced pain of ex-members.''

Jon and his defenders inexplicably refuse to acknowledge that real people have really been hurt during their time at JPUSA. To quote from an e-mail I recently received from a former member: ''Most of us arrived at JP with a burning desire to serve God. Most of us were wounded and JP was kind of like the last resort, the only place where we felt we could find help in the Body of Christ. And Christ was there, though the leadership, perhaps unconsciously, assumed prerogatives and powers that only God has the right to. But because God values our free choice, even He refuses to pre-empt our choice. Because of the questionable practices the community engaged in, I think many felt ultimately betrayed and even used.''

Sadly, Trott's latest essay exemplifies the lack of sincere compassion for those ex-members of JPUSA who just might be telling the truth about their hurt that I have discussed elsewhere. Jon doesn't seem to accept the validity of a word like ''hurt.'' Words like ''doubts, anger, disillusionment'' likewise are dismissed by Trott as mere ''vague accusations.'' (see pp. 161 - 163) In the earlier series of articles in Cornerstone, several JPUSA supporters trivialize the idea of being a victim, thereby denigrating the role of ''ex member.'' This point was well made by a former member of an aberrational Christian group, Elizabeth Davies, in a letter to the editor of Cornerstone that was never published. ''Dr. Anson Shupe's article undermines the validity of every ex-member who has a complaint about the group they were involved in. He claims that they often exaggerate and embellish their accounts and the truth. He goes on to claim that if the person does not admit to embellishment or exaggeration later, it's usually a result of 'cognitive dissonance.'''

To quote another letter to the editor that was never printed, ''I don't believe that orthodoxy gives one the license to hurt others or, if the wounds are unintentional, to dismiss the hurting ones of your community because their pain is inconvenient to your public image.'' This, it seems to me, gets at the crux of the problem. Trott and his associates simply refuse to acknowledge a problem and in so doing, they further distance themselves from people who truly have been spiritually abused. In his chapter Trott states that I describe the abuse of former JPUSA members in a ''maddening way'' and that my ''charges'' are ''mysteriously undefined.'' I am said to go about doing my ''sociological duty by hunting for patterns of behavior. . .'' And I use ''scare'' words. I am also reminded of a letter to me in which Dr. Paul Larsen, former ECC president speaks of my use of ''secret informants.'' He makes it sound like I've been conducting some kind of furtive investigation, lurking around in dark shadows, talking with ''secret informers'' and plotting the downfall of JPUSA. That would all seem amusing, if the context were not so serious.

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