November 20, 2017

A Tale of Christian “Persecution” — One way or another

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As Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s a strange.”

Hard to know what to think about it. Is it a story of Christians being “persecuted” or of Christians doing the “persecuting”?

The Washington Post reports:

A Michigan dentist who streamed contemporary Christian music in her dental office and held prayer meetings for staff members is being sued by four former employees for religious discrimination.

The former employees of Tina Marshall in Lake Orion, Mich., allege they were either fired or reprimanded for objecting to the religious practices, according to a lawsuit filed in August 2015 in Oakland County.

…“We were all on edge. We were trying to be nice to the patients and do good dental work, but she kept forcing the music and her beliefs on us. Several patients questioned the music, and I turned it off and turned on the TV. So I was ‘disobedient,’” Nancy Kordus, a former dental assistant at Marshall’s office who is a plaintiff in the suit, told the Clarkston News about her former employer.

Kordus said Marshall wanted the music playing at all times in order to “ward off demons,” according to the complaint.

The suit also states that Marshall held morning prayer meetings with the staff, which began as optional gatherings but then became mandatory.

Kordus is among the four former employees, including Kimberly Hinson, Tammy Kulis and Sara Bambard, who are suing Marshall for what they say is her violation of Michigan’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Kordus claimed she submitted written requests to Marshall to stop pressuring staff members to conform to Marshall’s religious practices in 2014. Kordus was fired on Aug. 21, 2014.

Kulis, who worked at the front desk of the office, said she felt compelled to resign in October 2014 because of religious harassment and discriminatory practices.

Lawyers for Marshall filed a response to the lawsuit in November, denying claims she forced her religious practices on her staff.

“None of the Plaintiffs were forced to discuss or disclose any religious practices of preference as part of their employment,” the filing stated.

Marshall’s legal representatives have requested that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Her lawyer, Keith Jablonski, told The Washington Post this week his client is “being attacked in this lawsuit for her Christian beliefs, based solely on her desire to play religious music and radio stations in the dental office of the business that she owns.”

“We believe that when the facts, and not baseless allegations, are presented to a jury, we will establish that this group of former disgruntled employees are simply looking to profit off of their own prejudices towards Dr. Marshall and her Christian faith,” he said. “Dr. Marshall flatly denies engaging in any discriminatory employment practices.”

…Marshall purchased the dental practice in 2008 but her religious practices were only incorporated at the office as she became part of a local ministry run by Craig Stasio in 2013.

Stasio, who owns the Agape Massage Therapy & Chiropractic in addition to running his ministry, is also included in the lawsuit since Marshall hired Stasio to restructure her dental office in 2015.

Under his management, according to the lawsuit, “Stasio was enlisted to provide the ‘help’ Dr. Marshall needed in terminating the staff members that objected being exposed to the practices and beliefs of the ministry.”

Sarah Bambard, who was hired in 2011 to work at the front desk in Marshall’s office, says she was made office manager by Stasio on July 6, 2015, and instructed by him to only hire new employees that accepted Marshall’s religious practices. Stasio began participating in interviews conducted by Bambard, to assure applicants embraced Marshall’s faith, the lawsuit says.

Many of the new employees under Stasio were members of his religious group, the suit says.

Shortly after Stasio formalized his influence over Marshall’s office, Hinson, a dental hygienist, and Bambard were fired in late July 2015.

You can read the rest of the Post article or the piece from the local Clarkston News and learn about claims and counterclaims made by and about Stasio’s ministry, which some have called “cult-like.”

I hesitate to draw conclusions, and I won’t. However, I was struck by the thought that, in these days when so many American Christians are talking about protecting their religious liberty, that here we have such a stark account suggesting that some of them just might be denying others liberty in the name of Christ and causing them real harm in the name of their religion.

Perhaps this is not the case, and I am aware that situations like this are always much more complex than any outsider can discern.

Still, this is quite curious, huh?

“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Rom 12:18)

That’s all I’m sayin’.

Comments

  1. I think the “ward off demons” comment gives the game away. My sympathies lie with those who were fired, for many reasons.

    • Context is important. Plus that is the report of one person’s recollections. I think I’ll just remain skeptical about this whole thing till more info is available. And that means suspending any latent sympathies I may have.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I think the “ward off demons” comment gives the game away.

      If true, this sounds like Spiritual Warfare Flake City.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a3eCHij4Vo

      • gotta soak in the holy spirit and keep the music praying 24/7 to ward off the demons and the vampires, green onions hanging all over the studio, precious things

        https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ihop+prayer+room

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Oh, yeah. Those flakes.
          Masters of Mighty Magick with a Christianese coat of paint, always afraid the Devil is going to slip a woopee cushion under their butts whenever they turn around.

          What would God ever do without such Mighty Spiritual Warriors to Save Him with their Mighty Magick?

    • Nah. I don’t believe a word of it, yet. I’ve been through way too many court proceedings to believe any allegations prior to vetting in court.

      • My thoughts too. I’d lean towards the likelihood of the fired employees being the ones who are being denied justice, but I’m still too open to the other possibility.

  2. Christiane says:

    the case described on the surface seems to be about ‘Christianity’, but it isn’t . . . I can’t imagine a person with the credentials of a licensed dentist thinking that ‘playing the music will keep the demons away’, much less actually believing in that stuff

    no, it’s not ‘Christian’ . . . and I’m not sure exactly what ‘religion’ it is actually . . . someone care to guess?
    (it can’t be Catholic, no way . . . the Church practices acknowledged exorcism and that silly music isn’t a part of it)

    • Christiane,, you say “I can’t imagine a person with the credentials of a licensed dentist thinking that ‘playing the music will keep the demons away’, much less actually believing in that stuff.”

      Remember than neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson believes that the Egyptian pyramids were built to store the grain under Joseph’s tenure as Egypt’s prime minister.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And my writing partner has told me about a RL rocket scientist he knew (with a security clearance high enough to take nuclear weapons home on the weekend) who believed that ALL disease (including his son’s Aspergers) were caused by DEMON possession.

    • Christiane, i spent many years in ectremely supertitious charismatic circles, so yeah – i agree, it’s not an xtian practice. A lot of charismatics are highly syncretistic that way.

      What i would like to know: why on earth would someone feel a need to “ward off demons” at a dental practice?!!

      • brianthedad says:

        hello! dentist office! many folks believe it’s a trip to the depths of hell to begin with! Every little bit helps, I suppose.

        • drill baby drill

          Did you ever hear that scientists in Antarctica drilled so deep into the earth that they heard screaming and felt an intense heat on their face?

          It’s true! I heard it in a sermon and read it in an email! (both sadly true…)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > it’s not ‘Christian’ . . . and I’m not sure exactly what ‘religion’ it is actually . . .
      > someone care to guess?

      I do not need to guess; it is very familiar. It is Evangelicalism.

      • It is Evangelicalism.

        It really is now, isn’t it. 5 years ago, it was just starting to be that way. 10 years ago, it wasn’t. But now it is. Even the most well balanced, traditional evangelicals I know are starting to believe the Bethel gold dust on the ceiling nonsense.

        I can’t handle it anymore. Those people, I calmly block and remove from my life. What’s the point of talking to them? I can’t persuade them away. There is no Bible they’d listen to, no testimony from others, no history lesson applicable. There’s nothing but what they choose to believe.

        I’m out. I’m done. It’s over.

        • American Evangelicalism. I think many evangelicals in other countries are shaking their heads, myself included, at what goes on in the USA.

    • IHOP, Third Wave, Latter Rain. It’s the Toronto Blessing, Bethel school of thinking.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Laughing like hyenas and tatted preachers with pet angels punching cancer patients in the junk.

  3. Ah, I hate to say it, but talking about this sort of mess is kind of an enjoyable way to end the evening.

    OK, from a legal standpoint, I believe that the fired employees, Kordus et al., have a pretty good case of religious discrimination *unless* the contract they signed when they were hired specified that they would have to listen to religious music all the time, and participate in prayer sessions. Somehow I doubt that was in the “job requirements” section of their terms of employment.

    The lawyer-talk from Dr. Marshall’s attorney confirms this. His language is what we used to call (in the good old days of Watergate) a “non-denial denial.” Note *exactly* what he says: “None of the Plaintiffs were forced to discuss or disclose any religious practices of (or?) preference as part of their employment,” the filing stated.”

    Now note that the plaintiffs *never said* they were “forced to discuss or disclose any religious practices of preference as part of their employment.” In fact, there was no discussion or disclosure involved — Dr. Marshall’s actions were purely enforced propaganda,

    Regrettably, in America there’s a strong streak of the attitude that an employer essentially owns you — hence requirements like random mandatory drug tests. But even these humiliating and essentially useless tests are something disclosed up front before the employee signs the contract.

    So my guess (and hope) is that the plaintiffs will win, and further, that they should win. Maybe you can play music if you like in your own place of business, and those who can’t stand it can quit. But surely not even an employer has the legal right to order you into a prayer meeting — Christian, Islamic, or Hindu.

    (By the way, nothing would be more likely to turn me into an angry atheist than a campaign like Dr. Marshall’s.)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > *unless* the contract they signed when they were hired specified that they
      > would have to listen to religious music all the time, and participate in prayer sessions

      For a job at a dentist’s office – that contract would be discriminatory.

      • I don’t see how an employer could legally require their employees to pray, unless the employees were clergy.

        Aside from the question of who is “persecuting” who, what about the patients? In a practice where there is so much turmoil among the staff, and turnover, how can the patients be receiving the kind of care they’re entitled to? At the very least, there must be much cancelling and rescheduling on the part of the dental practice. Isn’t the primary purpose of a medical provider to deliver medical care to its patients, not promulgate religious beliefs and practices among its employees? How can such a distraction from the business at hand not detract from the care of patients?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > I don’t see how an employer could legally require their employees to pray

          Simple, they cannot. Even a religious institution is on shaky legal ground when they try to impose such requirements on non-religious functions such as janitorial staff.

          > how can the patients be receiving the kind of care they’re entitled to?

          Ever done much interaction with an overtly Christian business? Of course all experiences are anecdotal… but I recommend walking back out the door and finding somewhere else. Of course, this is not limited to “Christian”. This kind of thing begs the question – do you want to be in the business of doing X, or is there something else you’ll also be doing [while I pay you]?

          > Isn’t the primary purpose of a medical provider to deliver medical care

          Yes. Exactly. And why so many Christian Xs are lousy at X?

          > How can such a distraction from the business at hand not detract from the care of patients?

          Question: How?
          Answer:

          • Ever done much interaction with an overtly Christian business?

            Yes. My family has owned two lemon vehicles. We have mold and dry rot from a bathroom installation that took three times as long. We have a busted garage door and window from a seminary guy who promised to come fix it on his spare time. My mom has a dying with half functioning wifi card built together affordable laptop from a ministry’s computer repair department. My brother had the same computer and it died on him. We had repair technicians poorly install a thermostat not once but three times, lazily not connecting it to the grid in the house, when it was 10 degrees last winter.

            I’ve learned from example. And I’m glad I’m never going to be a blessing to someone else’s ministry…I mean business.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Doing the LOORD’s Work(TM).

            When you called them on their shoddy work, did they hand you the line that “The Devil must have sneaked in and sabotaged it”? With the corollary “You must have some Secret SIN in your life letting The Devil in!”?

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    However, I was struck by the thought that, in these days when so many American Christians are talking about protecting their religious liberty, that here we have such a stark account suggesting that some of them just might be denying others liberty in the name of Christ and causing them real harm in the name of their religion.

    A couple years ago, I heard a snarky definition that in Christianese, “PERSECUTION!” means not being allowed to persecute everyone else.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      P.S. The fact that this dentist streamed CCM to what was effectively a captive audience makes me want to side with the plaintiffs. 8-10 hours a day of “Jeesus is my Boyfriend” CCM would be mitigating circumstances for a Workplace Rage Rampage.

      • Oh, not just that – “Jesus is your only real marriage counselor” and suchlike. I can’t avoid hearing this stuff in some waiting rooms, unfortunately.

        • Patrick Kyle says:

          It’s the dentist’s office. It’s her business. They agreed to work there. One employee rallied the others against the owner, whom they knew was a Christian in the first place. Don’t like that atmosphere at your place of work? Harden up or quit. Unless the employer is cheating you, sexually harassing you, or otherwise egregiously breaking the law, leave the lawyers out of it. (Honestly, it sounds to me like a cat fight dressed up in ‘religious discrimination’ legalese.) Case should be dismissed. I recently became an employer. I quickly learned that you end up having to live with what you tolerate. Another business owner told me that having bad , mediocre, or unmotivated employees is what makes owning a business a curse. No one will care about your business like you do. My recently adopted motto is, ‘Hire slowly, fire quickly.”

      • I don’t have a problem with employers choosing which music they play in their place of business. To me that’s really no different than a business that chooses to play country music, or easy listening, or heavy metal all day. If the music played is a deal breaker to an employee, they have the right to leave. And in a dental office the music is primarily going to be heard in the waiting area, not back in the trenches with drills and other equipment running. I used to work in a dental office that played CCM all day. We’d have 6 CD’s on shuffle, and half the time I wouldn’t even notice when they finally stopped playing. Patients are hardly a ‘captive’ audience either, because they are free to switch dentists if they have an issue with the music. Or they can bring their own headphones and music, which should not be too difficult these days.
        I do take issue with the required prayer. It would be more appropriate to hold the morning staff meeting, and then allow those who don’t choose to participate in the prayer to leave the room with no repercussions. And clearly hiring only those who follow the same religion/cult is discriminatory. Those are the two reasons i believe the plaintiffs should win the case.

  5. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Rom 12:18)

    This is clearly a use of that verse which is out of context…. although I am not sure how, or why. But that is what I have been told, repeatedly. I no longer have any idea what the context of that verse is as it has been deemed out-of-context in every conflict within which it gets mentioned.

    I suppose we have to break down what the original Greek means by “you”, “peaceably”, and “all”. Or… I could walk down to the neighborhood pub and get some chicken fingers, everyone there manages to get along peaceably (whatever that means).

    • That verse, and “Love believes all things” are two often abused verses to justify evil.

    • jazziscoolithink says:

      Every verse ever quoted anywhere is used “out of context.” There’s no other way for us to use them. The secret is there is no Secret.

  6. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    It’s her office. She should be able to play any kind of music she wants for whatever kind of silly reason she wants. Although, I’m taking the “ward off demons” statement with a grain of salt. We’re all assuming it’s true, and not just made up to make the woman look looney. The only reason the former employees get my sympathies is due to mandatory prayer meetings. That’s not right.

    At my last job my boss insisted on keeping the radio that was right behind MY desk on the classical station all the time, and the station frequently faded out so that it was really just static. I considered it a form of noise torture. Can I go back and sue her for emotional distress?

    When my grandfather worked for a Japanese company he was required to go to Buddhist prayer meetings – I guess they’re called – to keep his job.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Agree. The music issue, by itself, is probably not out of bounds. The prayer meetings are out of bounds. Going out of bounds with the prayer meetings *does* however then entangle with the music issue as you have the grounds for a hostile/discriminatory work environment.

      Once you make a hostile work environment the notion that “any kind of music she wants for whatever kind of silly reason” falls apart. By entering the marketplace for commercial reasons you become a kind of public accommodation; your space is still private, but also public. You do loose the right to do whatever you want for whatever silly reason – because the space is not solely yours. The further you push that envelope the further it stretches in the opposite direction as well.

      • Well the owner found a perfect plan for that. Everyone quit or she fired them, and then replaced them with other members of her “fellowship” church.

        People wonder why I distrust so-called house churches or “fellowships”. We’re batting a 1000 here that they are corrupt cults.

        “We’re just a simple group of people worshipping Jesus together and loving others every day…”

        • melissatheragamuffin says:

          +1 on the house church/ “fellowship”‘s being corrupt cults. I’m also sick of people attributing some mystical LOTR meaning to the word “fellowship.” Look it up in the dictionary. It means “a friendly gathering of people.”

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            So, if the gathering is not friendly then it is not Fellowship? ouch. A fellowship of believers just got a lot harder. 🙂

    • Even if the prayer sessions weren’t mandatory, they might be considered, when conducted by the employer rather than the employees, to create a hostile workplace environment. Hey, when the boss looks at you with a critical eye because you’re not alongside your co-workers offering homage to the patron god of the establishment, how can that not negatively affect your performance reviews?

      • “If you don’t like it, you are free to leave.”

      • melissatheragamuffin says:

        That’s bologna. They had daily prayer meetings when I worked for the Salvation Army. I never felt like I had to attend. I never did attend, and I never suffered any negative consequences because of it.

        • So . . . because you worked in one particular place for particular people at one particular time and didn’t have problems, no one who works in a different place for different people at a different time will ever have problems?

        • Melissa, the Salvation Army is a legitimate religious organization. One would expect various religious practices to be part of the deal.

    • She should be able to play any kind of music she wants for whatever kind of silly reason she wants. Although, I’m taking the “ward off demons” statement with a grain of salt.

      Yeah, but she’s essentially an IHOPer. She really IS warding off demons with her music, in her mind. I’ve seen many do it. Don’t want to open that window into your soul now, do you.

      • melissatheragamuffin says:

        I have known some well meaning but silly Christian who believed there were demons somehow attached to any music that wasn’t specifically Christian. Although I suppose they could solve the music problem by just not having any music in the office.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Yeah, but she’s essentially an IHOPer. She really IS warding off demons with her music, in her mind.

        How does that differ from Making Magick?

  7. I was working at a house where the owner summoned angels every morning with a real animal’s horn and gospel music was played all the time while he told my son to load up on semi”s and self protection because the end is coming. Lovely that no one told me of the hot water system under the floor to heat the bath floor I was nailing into and caused 5 thousand dollars worth of damage. Think someone was saying bend over.

    Wonder, my son likes to say amazing, AMAZING. simply amazing and we wonder why some of our younger people opt out. Got a feeling I know why my son does even though he very much believes. I get to smell it in the morning because the litter box sits by my desk but even reading some of this would smell the same. We answer our own questions far to often with little thought to answers and taste or smells.

    Picking a music channel one likes to listen to isn’t anything to get worked up about or turn the judging machine on. Mandatory prayer is and I would just opt out especially if I didn’t like the horn blowing part. I would do so forcefully enough the owner and I would see eye to eye and if they didn’t well I know someone can and will take care of me and I don’t have to get all goofy about it.

    • …wow.

      it is amazing to me how clueless people can be. And just in my experience, the more religious, the more clueless often. Not always…but often.

      w, your stories make me glad I’m moving as far away from charismatic and all christianity as much as possible. i would get insanely frustrated and angry having to deal with that stuff.

      there’s safety and healing away from this stuff

  8. People have to come to the love of Christ voluntarily. Having it forced down their throats is a good way to drive them from Christ. Sadly, it seems that many feel that this is the way.
    Jesus taught to treat others the way that you want to be treated. I wonder how the dentist would feel if she had to hear an Imam call prayer five times a day?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I wonder how the dentist would feel if she had to hear an Imam call prayer five times a day?

      Ever seen the how-would-you-feel-if-reversed tactic tried? I have never seen it work. Anyone who listens to Evangelical radio is far too well trained in the rhetoric of deflection.

    • melissatheragamuffin says:

      Is there such a thing as “Muslim” music? Now I want to hear some just to hear what it’s like, but I’m kinda contrary like that….

      • There are many different genres of Muslim religious music. Depends on the country, region, local cultures, etc., but AFAIK, there’s no equivalent to either gospel or CCM.

        Am sure you can easily find some Muslim devotional music via an internet “radio” aggregator…

        • One of the best-known Muslim devotional singers in the wotld is the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He was from India, and made many revordings there and in the West, too. (Did a fsir amount of movie soundtrack work, too, both here and in S. Asia.)

          You should be able to find some of his work easily enough on Spotify or similar. The genre is qawwali, snd it is popular in India, Pakistan and in the South Asian diaspora.

  9. Don’t ever go into a Hobby Lobby store then because all you’ll hear is Christian music. They also have the nerve to post a sign that they are closed on Sundays so that their employees can worship and spend time with their families. Even the notoriously “closed on Sunday” Chik-fil-a people don’t post a sign, but they do give scholarships to student employees.

    /faux horror off/

    P.S. – I wouldn’t go to that dentist unless gold fillings were free. ?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I go to several local business that play CCM; meh, that is pretty innocuous. My favorite coffee shop has regular Christian artists play; they are not all terrible.The sign thing is weird – as if I care why a business is closed when it is closed.

      I do not got to Hobby Lobby because of their prices! Holy crap [pun intended!]. I took some old maps there to get an estimate on framing…. YIKES! It was more than twice what the little framing shop in the pleasant walkable transit-rich hipster district was charging. If the Big Box Store is harder to get to, culturally obnoxious, *and* more expensive… Shouldn’t it be a Christian theme to just not be a lousy business?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        BTW, the little hipster framing shop is also closed on Sundays – and Mondays. They do not feel compelled to explain why.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      They also have the nerve to post a sign that they are closed on Sundays so that their employees can worship and spend time with their families.

      Counting Coup on all us Lukewarms.
      “I THANK THEE, LOORD, THAT *I* AM NOTHING LIKE THAT LUKEWARM OVER THERE WHO ITH OPENETH ON SUNDAY!!!!!”

  10. The question is: why did the people continue to work there and why did the patients continue to come?

    I think the dentist is in the wrong here, but nothing was tying these people to a PRIVATE practice.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > nothing was tying these people to a PRIVATE practice.

      Employees have rights. If you want privacy – then do not involve other people.

    • turnsalso says:

      Is it really such a buyer’s market when it comes to getting jobs in dentistry? Maybe there wasn’t anywhere else around that was hiring.

  11. turnsalso says:

    The fast food venue where I had my first job played nothing but CCM. This was entirely under the franchisee’s control, though, and none of my coworkers or bosses were particularly religious.

  12. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    When you own a business, and operate in the public sphere you are no longer an entirely private person when you operate your business. You have to consider those around you. Especially when employing people. Reasonable accomodation both ways can be expected. This idea that “is my business, so they can get lost if they don’t like it” simply doesn’t work – not on a community level, not on a personal level, and not on a Christian level.

    In effect, it is a variation of the same principle that puts laws in place stopping pollution of streams, piling of rubbish, loud music etc. I know someone is going to object to that last sentence, but I think it is referenced somewhere in an old book, something about loving your neighbour as yourself…

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Tell that to the SCOTUS. The corporation that is Hobby Lobby evidently has religious rights that include opting out of certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        He can tell that to SCOTUS; as they have upheld labor and discrimination rules.

        You are over simplifying what he said – “””When you own a business, and operate in the public sphere you are no longer ***an entirely*** private person when you operate your business”””

    • Reasonable accomodation both ways can be expected.

      For some people though, accommodation itself is the very worst of evils. It’s a sign of being “lukewarm”.

  13. Clay Crouch says:

    Google Craig Stasio in Clinton Township, MI and it will become a little clearer. Cult-O-Meter is pegged at 11.

    • Yes, Svengali at work here. Do these people suing actually want to go back to work for this wacko dentist? That’s pretty amazing, but not as amazing as discovering how many legal experts hang out at the Monastery.

  14. Here’s an article about it from Aug-15. They make it sound like things with the chiropractor go back further – he was investigated as a cult leader in 2014. Doesn’t mean he is, but where there’s smoke there’s fire.

    He became close friends with Marshall after they “fellowshipped for about 3 hours”. Man I just LOVE the verb form of fellowship.

    http://www.oxfordleader.com/Articles-News-c-2015-08-05-259153.113121-sub-Dentist-office-loses-employees-after-Prophet-steps-in.html

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “The verb form of ‘fellowship'” is exclusive to Christianese.
      As well as a red warning flag.

    • Oh he definitely is a cult leader. See the article I linked below.

      At this rate, just waiting for the Tyler Deatons to show up in the news.

      • Wow. Yeah when you have young girls rubbing the dude’s arms and legs while he’s getting dental work done (if that’s true)…….ummm yeah, that’s a cult.

      • “Her thing with the music, you have to have it on 24-7. Even on the weekends when there’s no one there because you have to keep the demons out.”

        Saw this on another site a few weeks ago. Put this on repeat. Ought to keep them out:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8T4S3JSXJw

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        At this rate, just waiting for the Tyler Deatons to show up in the news.

        “Tyler Deaton” anything like Heaven’s Gate or Jonestown?

        I read that link, and my CULT-o-Meter pegged at a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10.

        Many of the young adults dropped out of college to move into communal housing and started giving
        cheap massages at Agape Chiropractic, a business run by Stasio.

        Their kids now lived together, worked together, played together and prayed together – and cut ties with old friends and family.

        The giddy members of the group wouldn’t speak to Wolchek.

        And when one of them did briefly, he was quickly controlled by another member.

        Moving into his Cult Compound away from their Lukewarm/Heathen families, check.
        NO ties or links to anything outside the Cult, check.

        The group’s leader surrounds himself with young attractive women, which is interesting because Stasio was punished by the state board for admitting to having a sexual encounter with one of his massage therapists in his office which ended with Stasio ejaculating on the floor.

        Wolchek: “Do you consider yourself a mentor to these young people?”

        Stasio: “Talk to my lawyer.”

        Sex scandal in ManaGAWD’s past, check.
        “Talk to my lawyer”, check. (Did “my lawyer” draw up a Membership Covenant(TM) as well?)

        “When he would come in and get worked on some of these young girls would be there. They would kneel on the floor and come in and rub his arms and rub his leg, while he was having a filling done or something.”

        The staff says Dr. Marshall became a shell of herself and even put Stasio in charge of the business.

        Young girl followers kneeling on floor rubbing the ManaGAWD’s arms and legs during dental work?
        Anyone remember Got Hard and his Interns or Elron Hubbard and his Commodore’s Messengers?

  15. I struggle with this. While I don’t think anyone should be forced to participate in any religious activity, there’s an interesting contrast taking place with Ariens, where Muslims are being instructed that they can no longer take numerous prayer breaks throughout the day, but must take two ten minute breaks and a thirty minute lunch, just like everyone else. There seems to be moral outcry over this, but Ariens is a private sector entity…I’ll play devil’s advocate, and say this dentist is, as well. If someone operating in the private sector can’t require prayer from employees, can they prohibit it?

    http://www.jsonline.com/business/muslims-urged-to-return-to-work-and-press-for-prayer-breaks-at-ariens-co-b99654904z1-365848021.html

    I, by no means, believe I should force religion down someone’s throat. I do believe that I have a responsibility to share the Gospel however I may, in a loving context. I wonder if these employees were informed of the prayer times prior to hire? The Ariens employees were allowed to pray for a period of time, at their leisure, but this has been determined to be a disruption in productivity…I know a local factory that doesn’t hire smokers because they’ve done internal studies that showed that smokers took anywhere from 1-2 hours of unpermitted breaks during during an 8 hour shift, which amounted to millions in losses. If an employee is praying 10 minutes per day, 5 times per day, then there’s almost an hour of productivity per employee that a private industry will lose. 50 hours per day for Ariens. That could be a lot of $.

    Playing devil’s advocate again…Could it be that this dentist feels as obligated to pray as our Muslim friends at Ariens? Again, I don’t think anyone should be forced to pray, but I’ve got a sticky feeling that it’s eventually going to come out that her employees knew what they were signing up for…but it’s not going to matter. That won’t make for a good news story. We live in a culture that is extremely litigious, and we all like to yell that our rights are being violated, no matter what our religious, behavioral, sexual, or ideological bent may be…It’s frankly very popular to shout that we are being bullied, that we are marginalized, that we are persecuted. It’s not just Christians, and it’s not just the Evangelical Circus. Maybe when my fellow Evangelicals do it, it makes me throw up in my mouth a little more, because they are my cousins, but everyone is doing this. Maybe, as Christians, we should do everything “as to the Lord, and not as to men”. I wonder if God is pleased that we argue over things like this, when we could be ministering to others by demonstrating a solid work ethic, doing our jobs with excellence and a good attitude, and submitting to authority?

    By the way, I’m a huge fan of fixed hour prayer. I do noonday prayers during my lunch break at work. I would pray at other times, but I’m usually too busy reading Internetmonk when I should actually be working. Hope everyone had a great Xmas. :o) Good to be back at IM…

    • I wonder if these employees were informed of the prayer times prior to hire?

      The way I’ve seen it from following this story last few months, the owner had a religious experience and got converted and then hired a pastor as a consultant. So no, the employees had no idea this was coming.

      Good points overall, though, Lee. Best thing the employees can do is just quit I guess, which is unfortunate.

    • Yes, I think the cultish nature of this particular story distracts from other things.

      What does a healthy public faith look like? When does something qualify as “persecution” vs. someone poking fun and wounding our pride vs. mere (or even contentious) and fully anticipated disagreement over something important? When is a person being “persecuted for the sake of the gospel” (which doesn’t preclude being confrontational or controversial) vs. “persecution” for being manipulative or just being an ass? And maybe most importantly, do we apply this same criteria to ourselves as we do to others?

      Few black & white answers.

  16. As Paul Harvey used to say, “something something the rest of the story” (I barely payed attention to him when I was young, sorry, lol).

    http://www.fox2detroit.com/news/local-news/53646269-story

    I knew I had heard about this a few months ago. The “persecution” thing is bs. This is the equivalent of Mike Bickle all of a sudden converting your boss and then being hired to be a “religious consultant” on all matters. They started a commune, a doomsday cult.

    It’s a scary thing. This whole thing is effed up and scares me.

    • I would like to buy Craig Stasio a glass of Flint water.

    • “And now you know the rest of the story.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      End of the World Tomorrow, check.
      Move into the ManaGAWD’s compound away from your Heathen/Apostate Family, check.
      Have NO Heathen/Apostate/Lukewarm contacts or connections at all, check.
      So you Won’t Be Left Behind?

      How long before ManaGAWD calls “White Night!” or they go join Bo & Peep behind Hale-Bopp?

  17. If it were a secular environment blasting death metal (sounds like my kind of place), Christians would be offended. My point is that annoying command of Jesus to do unto others as you would want them to do to you.

    The definition of religion expressed in this story seems narcissistic; its an extension of self. Superstition is self-serving, because it is fear-driven. Modern religion is so devoid of ethics and the traditional definition of “morals”. One does not have morals because he or she abhors someone else’s sins. Many atheists do have better morals than religious fanatics driven by fear into superstitious practices equivalent to modern-day witch hunts.

    “Quick to judge,
    Quick to anger
    Slow to understand
    Ignorance and prejudice
    And fear
    Walk hand in hand”
    – Neil Peart.

    • Death metal however is a musical styling. Christian music is proselytizing. Equivalent to someone pumping out some Scientology feel good messages into the waiting room while having the lights flicker at just the right frequency and the climate carefully controlled to produce an emotional response.

      “As the organ plays…won’t you come….”

      • I never thought people listened to Christian(TM) music because they liked it. People have to be coerced under threat of demon possession or divine punishment for not proselytizing to listen to it.

        Indeed: won’t you come? Why???

      • My point is if Christians don’t want someone else’s music imposed on them, why do they impose it on others? If you are right, that it is because it is a religious obligation (and therefore religious liberty) to impose it on others as a proselytizing tool, then we really don’t get what Jesus taught, particularly in his condemnation of the Pharisees.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          In Christianese, PERSECUTION(TM) means not being allowed to persecute everyone else.

      • Obviously, being a Christian is more about the music you listen to than how your character and how you treat others is inspired by the character and grace of God.

  18. Sounds like a case of culture war crossed with a weird strain of charismatic influence. What could possibly go wrong?

    To take a thought from C.S. Lewis on the matter of vocation, I think the dentist could have witnessed best by striving to be the best dentist possible. Seems to be a concept largely lost in a lot of the American evangelical world.

    • Love this thought from Lewis.

      Or the dentist could’ve simply prayed for a “hedge of protection” around his office.

  19. The sad thing is that while the real gospel requires everything of us, a pearl of great price, it sounds like these employees were really only being asked to adopt a persona. If they could have stomached acting Christian they would still be there. The oft repeated state in cases like this is that of the perpetrators compensating for a woeful lack in their private lives with the uncompromising public exhibition, convincing themselves alone that they are standing up for the gospel while alienating everyone around them. Ted Cruz comes to mind, though in the end I won’t accuse him or them of hypocrisy, only stridency.

  20. As often happens privilege is being confused with liberty.

    Of course it’s God’s will that I be ushered to the front of the line! Of course God is mightily vexed when anyone questions my beliefs or my actions!

    Disagree? Why dost thou persecute me?

  21. it’s amusing but I usually can tell right away who will jump on certain topics. These things are not new at all and have been going on for a long time……unfortunately going back a ways and they get much worse. heart aches beyond measure by a church out of control and totally in control. after all isn’t it about control. I’m not controlled and I am a threat to those who need it and seek it. When I watch the things and speakers I see , I see the control they seek whether through the bible or else I heard a word from. The difference is i don’t want to control I want you to be loved. Love is freeing and allows for whatever and doesn’t stop loving.

    These are some of the hardest things for humans me included. If i’m wrong shoot me and I won’t have to crawl on my knees tomorrow. I’m tired shoot me IA’m wrong Jesus was right.

  22. The predicted snow,
    though it has not yet arrived,
    piles high in the mind

    • Now this dry ground, it bears no fruit at all
      Only poppies laugh under the crescent moon
      The road refuses strangers
      The land, the seeds we sow
      Where might we find the lamb as white as snow

      • Michael Bell says:

        Roses are red
        Violets are blue
        Ice cream has no bones.
        May I have a peanut butter sandwich?

        Just trying to keep the poetry flow going… 🙂

  23. “Is it safe?”

  24. Michael Spencer might’ve written, “I need to look in the mirror. How am I like this?” Because we all have this in us. None of us are “good.” I need to put down the stone and walk away.

    • Rick don’t you think this story is a bit “over the top”? Maybe just a little? To me it shows how crazy evangelicalism has gotten. The best “witness” the dentist can have is to do his best and love the people in his office. Maybe listen to them instead of “preaching” to them with “passionate” music.

      • I’m probably overreacting to the past several posts (Cruz, Trump, this.) Throwing stones at this is too easy. It’s easy to sit on our high horse and look down to idiots like this. I think that means I need to do some self-examination. You don’t think the guys about to stone the adulteress didn’t think they had every right to sit on their high horse and stone the idiot woman? Sure they did. But Jesus said No.

        So…Why am I holding the stone? Why am I on my high horse? What things could I be stoned for?

        That said…I’ve been with the same dentist for years. The dental assistant who usually cleans my teeth is ultra-liberal. I’ve had to listen to her liberal blathering for years, sitting in that chair for an hour each visit, only able to mumble the unintelligible periodic counter. Funny thing is that lately I’ve found myself agreeing with some of the stuff she says.

        • Good thoughts Rick. You are sensitive to Jesus’ teachings and that’s as good as it gets. As one who is at my wits end with evangelicalism this behavior hits a sore spot with me right now. I think CM did a good job of not throwing this guy under the bus, but rather showing concerns. When it all comes down to it. All who cling to Christ are brothers and sisters, even the weird ones that drive us up a wall. 🙂

      • Actually, I’ll tell you what struck me about this (and following the pieces about Cruz and Trump). It’s the feeling/concern of “Is this the best we can do, throw stones at Cruz, Trump and idiotic dentists?”

        So that’s the reason for my initial post.

        Is this the best we can do?

  25. “Keeping the demons away” by playing Christian music? In my experience, it often has the opposite effect! 😛

    More seriously though, people who truly believe this are not necessarily the epitome of mental health. This MIGHT be possibly as much an issue of sanity as it is religious freedom. Just throwing that out there.

    • They very well might, but I’m sure that getting the h*ll out of the charismatic cult is, for this dentist, the 1st step. Avoiding another one is the nect.

      This kind of wacked-out thinking is more typical of supposedly mainstream charismatic groups than you might realize. For example, see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2016/01/feeding-childrens-fears.html which deals with exactly the kind of attitudes and thinking toward the supernatural that is pretty much the bread and butter of every single charismatic group/church that i participated in, from the early 70s-early 00s (when i was booted out, which is another story altogether). What the blogger says about highly educated people believing in demons, hedges of protection and whstnot is 100% accurate. I should have the t shirt somewhere….

  26. I suspect this is the kind of thing to which Luther would reply, “Today I took a piss – and frightened the demons away!”

  27. A real need for attention, Norway Seizes Christian Chldren: Has no one seen news on this? There have been protestst in several countries at Norwegian Embassies, including Washington, D.C.

    Speak up for the children. Petition at the end of this article. http://mauckbaker.com/11178/blogentry/entry_id/462389/Christian-Indoctrination-Prompts-Norwegian-Government-to-Remove-Children-from-Family

  28. Motown Mom says:

    (I’m late to the party here, so I don’t know if anyone will actually read this.)

    Please don’t characterize the defendant in this case as evangelical…or even Pentecostal or Charismatic. My good friend has a young adult son who was under the influence of Craig Stasio for several years, and it’s unbelievable that this guy isn’t in prison. I don’t understand how, but this man is able to manipulate his followers in order to obtain money, property and sexual favors.

    From what I know about how Stasio’s chiropractic practice was run, the fired employees probably have a good case. Of course, the music aspect of this case is the kind of thing that gets evangelical feathers ruffled. Knowing the destructive, anti-Christ nature of the man to which this dentist has submitted, sadly, the Christian music has done nothing to protect the her or her practice.