A friend in need

A few months ago at ex-christian.net a man named Dan Silverman started posting on his experiences as he was leaving his faith, his church, his ministry, and breaking this news to his wife and family. All the details of this struggle can be seen on his website and blog–but to make a lengthy story short-Dan has been accused of a crime that I do not believe he committed, it is believed that his former pastor – possibly in collusion with his wife have influenced the accuser to make the accusation. Dan is awaiting trial currently and during this time can’t see any of his children or his wife.

Dan was a minister at Heritage Baptist Church in Vinton, Virginia-a few months ago he stepped down because he didn’t want to mislead the church since he had lost his faith—he didn’t believe the things he was teaching any longer. The pastor seems to have been angered by this and it looks as if he is trying to dismantle this man to a state of desperation, just to get him back into the fold. This is religious, spiritual, and emotional abuse.

This is my challenge to ALL of my readers–ESPECIALLY the Christian ones–because controlling a man’s family and causing turmoil in his life is not the job of the Church and I expect better—My challenge is for you to 1: Blog about this and LINK TO HIS SITE, 2: Put him on your blogroll or something like that 3: READ his site—this story goes much farther than I have talked about here and we need people to be aware of what is happening, and 4: tell other people about it and as a bonus 5: Digg, Fav, Stumble—whatever you can this story, we just want to get the story out there to show how dangerous a Jim Jones type church can be—and this church is heading that way.

I just want to help this guy out…I’m not asking anyone to determine guilt or anything like that—we just want people to know the dangers of a fundamentalist extremist mentality and what happens if you ever question that establishment. Dan, nor myself, are out to harm Christianity or the Church—Dan just wants his family and life back. Please help

Dan is found at the following website: http://allforfreedom.blogspot.com

Please do this. Everyone that reads this blog. No prizes, no pats on the back–just do it for the sake of helping someone out.

Edit notes: Changed name of church to Heritage Baptist

  • I put him on my blogroll and will do a post about his story later.

  • Matt

    thanks mike, you sir, are the MAN!

  • Hey, you said you'd make a long story short – but what is he on trial for? What is he accused of? Or do I need to go over to his site to read the long story? 😉

  • Hi Matt! Thank you for helping to spread the word on My Story! I really appreciate the help!

  • Matt

    hey frigga:

    he is on trial for sexual battery—his daughter accused him of touching her on the chest, a charge that i believe to be false (and sweeping) and at the prompting of an outside party.

    but yes you should go to his site to read the whole deal.

  • I don't believe stories on the internet. If I were inclined to, I'd say if this were true he would be cleared in the Court as soon as they have a witness testify. If his family is that indoctrinated, then there is no way they will be able to lie in Court.

  • @ Ron, im not inclined to believe internet stories either, but on occasion their are real people and real stories there. Even though its just one big series of tubes.

    as far as lying in court—the thing about cults is that they often lead to morals that are reduced to only applying at convenient times…i think we might be dealing with something like this, but i hope not.

  • Religion is dangerous, it can make people do bad things. Religion blinds people. I have felt it in every church (especially protestant churches) that they are bound to destroy anyone who could not believe what they believe in. This is a sign that these churches are dangerous, they can turn into evil (whatever evil means) with little provoking from "god".

    I Count me in, I will be reading his blog and I'll make a post about it in my blog. I am as of now buried neck deep in office work but tomorrow or the next day I would be able to make the post.

  • I think you are explaining the legal process to the wrong person.

    If you are smart, you will get a lawyer that will motion for a change of venue. Then run your wife bonkers by dragging out the process, by the time it comes to trial her deposition will greatly differ from her testimony; if they then win the trial it's easily fought on Appeal.

    That is not advice though, just a strategy employed by many. I don't give legal advice. Your lawyer is going to have a field day on jury selection day by the way.

    Oh, and so far as not believing internet stories – it's a general rule of thumb I follow. Sorry, but I'm not inclined to believe what you have said is 100% true – and that would not change if I had talked to you on the phone. I don't suspect that some, if not a great deal of your story is in fact ture; it's just I do not trust people I do not know.

  • Hi Ronald. My story is not just an internet story. In fact, before Matt posted this here, he talked to me on the phone. There are many people over at the ex-christian.net site that know me, have talked to me or have been in touch with me by a variety of means. So Matt did not just pick this from a random blog he found on the internet.

    As far as the courts go and lying: in this day and age, all it takes is an accusation to land you in jail (when it comes to a sexual crime such as molestation). You then have to go to court several times. The first time is to get the initial court date. Then you go for things like bond hearings. Here in Virginia there is no automatic bonds for sex related charges and so it is necessary for you to challenge the court to get a bond. After that there is the preliminary hearing, then the grand jury and then we finally get to the trial. If a guilty verdict is given in the trial, then we move on to sentencing. Between each step (from preliminary to sentencing) can be an average of 6 weeks to 2 months! So this process can take a long time and it may be a long time before the trial, when the court can finally hear the evidence from both sides.

    The preliminary hearing is simply to determine if there is enough evidence to even go to trial. The grand jury is sort of like a rubber stamp process to certify what was found in the preliminary hearing. During the preliminary hearing the prosecution presents whatever evidence its feels is needed in order to show there is enough evidence to go to trial. The defense does not get to provide evidence of innocence. Therefore, it would not me until the trial that any defense can be brought to the attention of the court.

    In a case such as this, where there is an accusation and no physical evidence what-so-ever (it is a case accusing of touching, not rape or sodomy) then it comes down to “he said/she said”. For a sex related crime, this is enough evidence to go to trial, especially when a minor is involved.

    Statistically, it has been shown that when a mother accuses a father of molesting a child, the father is typically found guilty DESPITE the evidence. Often this type of accusation occurs when one spouse is divorcing the other and one spouse wants to ensure they get custody of the children. In my case, my wife does not believe the Bible sanctions divorce. She also does not want me to influence the kids negatively with my un-Christian ideas. Accusing me of molesting one of the children was a “good” way for her to ensure, no matter what happens, that she gets the kids and maintains her biblical influence over them. This type of charge also removes me from being in the house and, as a result, I cannot influence my own children.

    I will have more news to post on my blog. There are some interesting things happening on my end. I just cannot talk about them now, but hope to reveal them soon.

  • Ronald, I completely agree with you. You have no reason to trust me, nor should you. As you point out, you do not know me. I just wanted to point out that some do know me … some more than others. And the majority of my post was not just directed to you (even though I started it with your name). I recognize that there are others that read these comments as well. Having never been in jail or accused of a crime, I was totally ignorant of the process and am forced to learn about it now.

    Thanks for replying.

  • Hi, Pastilan! Thanks for the help. I appreciate it.

  • Leaving a faith when there is community and family involved is a very tough thing. When the community is cultist in nature then it gets nasty – I know this from my own experience. However its a shame that incidents like this will be used to give the majority of fairly reasonable religious types out there a bad name.

    Dan, my heart and prayers go out to you.

    Robert

  • Mike

    Dan, Matt et al,

    Boy I’m really going to get myself in trouble with this one – but here goes… ;(

    About me: (so far) I am a believer and I agree – I absolutely hate and despise religion and religious pretense – so does the Lord Jesus Christ whom I’ve served for about a quarter century. So take this for what its worth… 😉

    Dan, I live about 20 minutes from you – 3 months ago, my wife of 20 years (also claims to be a believer) had a nervous breakdown and ended up in a mental ward for about a week to recover (actually, it looked pretty comfortable – I digress). After that week was over, she went to the local social services dept to claim that I was sexually abusing her (after she discovered that it is illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia to have sex with a person taking psychotropic drugs, married or not) – she enlisted the help of my neighbors – best I can tell, both lesbians co-habitating illegally. Illegally because one is the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court judge, and the other the Director of Social Services – its an ethical conflict of interest thing – I’m really not making this up – wish I was…

    They completely believed her story – no investigation (which is required by law) – they expedited her situation; they paid off all her debts, gave her food stamps and other monies to flee from me, the accused domestic violence guy – she used that to leave me, move to another city, and start a new life – I was left with my local community reputation in ruins, I still have responsibility to take care of my two children, and combined with other events, I’m now unemployed, my house went to auction last week, and I’m desperately trying to file for bankruptcy. Again, true story.

    My experience makes your story more believable by me at least – I’ve sort of been there. I never had to go to court thank God, because after my wife moved, the storm sort of passed. Had they sent an investigator they would have learned that I’m the nicest, most loving guy on the planet – just had a run of bad luck. They would’ve discovered the my wife has been a drug/alcohol addict her entire adult lifetime, and that addicts behave this way when they feel their supply lines are being cut off – the lack of a job by me, meant I no longer had the six figure income to feed her habits – there is a lot more to the story, but you’re probably getting my drift.

    I don’t trust the legal system as far as I can throw it. Its corrupt to the core! It honestly doesn’t surprise me that you’ve been treated the way you have. I’m sorry you’re going through all this and I’m going to commit to pray for you and your situation. I won’t judge you at all for your decisions – the truth is you have a free will and good on you for exercising your freedoms to make your choices…

    Matt, truth is, I think we are going to see a lot more of this type of thing – not just toward those who claim atheism, but toward all manner of folks – our society is a mess – our country is a mess – I’m not sure the answer, but be careful folks when you start throwing rocks at those of faith, because all the stupid stuff that they do will bring about problems for you and I as well.

    Hang in there man, MM

  • John Huddle

    Dan,

    Resources found in my struggle- http://www.batteredsheep.com

    http://www.thegodjourney.com

    My plight has been different from yours but the results the same- my wife and children stayed with the controlling church in NC. The anguish is the same. Children are the focus for the control and power

    Prayers for all concerned…

    John

  • WDBJ7 has continued to report on my situation. While this segment is brief, the reporter told me that there should be more to come. Others that had left that church are being interviewed for the story. Here is the link to what they just reported 20 minutes ago:

    http://www.wdbj7.com/Global/story.asp?S=9381008

  • hi dan, that story looks really good—im glad they gave you a proper opportunity to talk—it separates you from the deacon entirely, states the nature of the accusation in non-legal terms, and gives you the opportunity to call out the pastor..good job brother

  • This is a bad deal all the way around. I don't know if I can blog about this particular incident unless I'm able to uncover enough to know what's true and not.

    However, there is a blog idea here about Christian love and more importantly lack there of.

    My prayers are for you Dan, whether you believe in them or not.

    Tony

  • Yikes – that’s a pretty harsh accusation. One that would not bring a pastor back into the fold, but one that would destroy a family and cause long term damage to the young girl. If it’s true, well that’s obviously bad. But if its not true and this girl has been forced to lie – that’s also child abuse. Perhaps it’s the sort of thing I have no business in having an opinion on (given my lack of real facts) – I’ll let the jury decide.

    Either way, using a child like that sickens and disgusts me.

  • It's wonderful that Dan is true to what he feels about Christianity as is Matt and apparently many other people, who are leaving that crazy upside down Christian belief system. I feel a great deal of compassion for Dan and others who have to deal with the sxxx hitting the fan because they love others enough to inform them how the feel. My humble advice is to continue always being true to what you feel deep in your heart, with yourself and others. It probably sounds a little corny in the context of the other comments here, but being true to how you feel will make everything work out for the best.

    Because Jesus is back as the Way and the Truth and the Life. And He is responsible for the profound transformations we are witnessing with the global economy as well as with the Christian faith. The Way and the Truth and the Life is revealing the true value of everything. Truth alone triumphs, so be true to yourself, others, and enjoy your life on this beautiful planet Earth.

  • Jonathan Starnes

    We’ll This chruch sounds rediculous! So much for the love of Christ huh? These type of people make me embarrassed to be a christian.
    First off my thoughts and prayers are with you( even if you don’t believe anymore. It couldn’t hurt).
    umm… I don’t have a blog but I’ll write a note on facebook…and post a link on my facebook as well.
    I’m taking your word on this. It sounds true, so I’m rollin, but I’m gonna look into it. (Can’t see why Mr. Oxley would lie).Is this what I need to be posting? http://allforfreedom.blogspot.com.

    – Your christian friend and brother in the world Jonathan Lane Starnes

  • I’ve posted and linked to Dan’s story here.
    http://www.seekingabove.com/2008/11/faith-and-doubts.html

  • Simply Eva

    To Mike: I think it’s wonderful what you have done for Dan. Good deeds are not just done by religious people. Wish the world understood that.

    To Dan: I read your story on your site and do intend to do a post on you. I know very well–first hand–the kind of evil churches and their clergy can unleash. I thank God every day I am no longer a x-tian. Something just occurred to me after reading your comment here. If your wife is such a good Christian, how does she justify teaching/forcing/allowing her child to lie about you? Isnt lying a horrible sin? Boggles my mind–it shouldnt–but it does.

  • Simply Eva

    Sorry–I wanted to thank the owner of this blog–and Mike too. Thanks to ANY one who’s helping him.

  • “Something just occurred to me after reading your comment here. If your wife is such a good Christian, how does she justify teaching/forcing/allowing her child to lie about you? Isnt lying a horrible sin?”

    As I have examined this, I do not believe that my wife thinks she is lying. The day after I left the faith she told me that I now had no moral structure … no under pinning. In her mind I was capable of doing anything, no matter how evil. After all, the Bible states that there are none that are good and none that are righteous, that all are wicked and that the ways of man are continually so. The accusation did not originate with my wife. As a result, I am convinced that she believes my guilt.

  • Christian

    We live in a world that is terribly upside down. The minds of most are twisted and logic to them becomes not objective but subjective based on presuppositional ideologies and philosophies they hold close to their hearts and minds. It is interesting how many of you seem to easily accept that which helps to re-inforce already held misconceptions about the Christian church. While it is true that much wrong has been done by men and woman in the name of Christianity it is equally true that much wrong has been commited by those who hold opposing belief systems. I know Dan personally as well as many others who have turned away from Christ and have found that whatever route they chose to depart from the faith it always involves some form of ridicule to that which they once held in such high esteem. No wonder considering that man has an insataible appetite to exalt his own path as the right path. I have rarely witnessed a man who would leave a paticular way of thinking and living while continuing to claim that way to be the right way. What is also interesting here is the fact that so many of you have no real first hand knowlege of what you are speaking about so boldly.

  • Christian

    It seems most of you allign yourselves with Dan not because of some selfless desire to help but some desire to show your views as being vindicated in this mans story. I am a Christian and a sinner and not blind to the faults of the church over the years but anyone who understands the truth about Christianity understand very plainly that it never claimed to be a society of perfect people. Truth does not change because we do! It is a constant despite all our efforts to twist reality to fit our own agenda. Some of you have spoke of cults and controlling churches. I would urge you to get your dictionaries out and really meditate on the fact that accusations are easy but have a tendancy to come back and bite the mis-informed. It is my hope some of you will consider a higher road in an age when opinions are offered by many who have little more then anger as motivator and even less understanding as to the topic they offer opinion on.