She Threw Her Bible Across the Church Office: Paul Coughlin

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39 Responses

  1. Greg says:

    What great insight on a person’s personality. I worked as a detective on a sexual assaults table for the LAPD and what you say was a common thread in these types of crimes. Most suspects where very narcissistic and down deep had insecurity issues and a lack of humbleness that made them engaged in this type of behavior. I find it interesting that today Jon posted a you tube video and made no reference or apology to his followers of his shortcomings or controversy. Just business as usual and it is really sad for somebody that I have respected for 40 years. I would have expected more but your article does a great job of explaining why that apology will never happen. Thanks for a great article.

  2. JD says:

    Worship Leader (the attitude). A lying spirit trying to divide and torment the lukewarm church of today by elevating pastors to a position not found in scripture.
    So much for brotherly and unconditional love. It’s out the window along with the Bible.
    We must pray and not give up, folks!

  3. filbertz says:

    Your article underscores a delicate dance between the narcissist and those who revere them. It is always an unhealthy relationship. Some may not be able to clearly identify what’s wrong, but they sense it, read the room, trust their gut or whatever, and leave. Too many implicitly trust the leader as God’s anointed and follow cluelessly to their own harm. Thanks for your contribution & engagement in this issue.

  4. Em says:

    Long overdue and very cogent….
    Yes, thanks for a great article….

  5. bob1 says:

    I remember when the Enroth book came out. It was a blockbuster, as I recall.

    God utilized a couple of books by Jeff VanVonderen about spiritual abuse and shame-based churches. They helped me extricate my family from an abusive CC. Low self-esteem can also lead to folks enduring a spiritually abusive church instead of putting on their running shoes.

    The sad thing about spiritual abuse is that it can take a good while to recover! But God is faithful.

    Good on you, Mr. Coughlin! Keep up the good fight. You are truly a living epistle.

  6. Hi Greg, glad appreciate the article, and you can thank Michael for putting it before you. If this case is like the others, the church will remain silent. Then if pressure builds, vague statements about misunderstandings. If that doesn’t work, blaming the victim. If that doesn’t squelch the uprising, love bombing: a promise to change, but also being careful not to be too specific as to what change means. This is the most dangerous stage for church goers because it sounds so “Biblical” to just let it all go and move on. If I were deceptive and ran a church, I’d jump to this stage because it’s so effective. There’s another ploy: manufactured crisis that garners sympathy and makes those who seek truth look mean, hateful and “unChristian.” Throughout all these stages we must remember: The truth is never the problem. Expect a manufactured crisis.

  7. BrideofChrist says:

    You forgot to mention “gas lighting”. Jon Cousin releasing a Utube video and completely ignoring this monumental crisis in his church is a classic example of gas lighting. This ploy actually keeps people from seeing/ believing what is right in front of their eyeds and is as plain as day. People with low self-esteem are easily influenced by gas lighting. I’m not being judgemental – I was once one of these gullible and easy-to-deceive people myself. I’m praying for the members of Applegate church.

  8. Pilgrim says:
    OMG…. He really doesn’t get it. Yes Jon your son is disqualified

  9. JD says:

    Papa Jon evidently has lost it. (ie: his mind)

  10. Karen says:

    2Thess 5:22 Says to “abstain from the appearance of evil”… not just evil. So if something smells rotten, find another church or fellowship. Don’t wait for the pastor to apologize.

    I remember all those glowing posts on Bob Coy’s Facebook page telling him that he was the best Bible teacher, and please come back. If he was such a good Bible teacher they wouldn’t be begging him to come back.

  11. BrianD says:

    I read the Enroth and VanVonderen books years ago and I still consider them to be some of the most honest and Christian books within the broad genre of Christian works I have ever read. They spoke about issues no one else was talking about at the time, and that I didn’t see referenced anywhere else until I came here.

    The church has always made it a point to tell sinners how bad their sin is and how bad they themselves are, then wonders why more people don’t come to the Lord. The church is often blind to a reason why lost people don’t come to the Lord: its own actions towards those people (or, if the church is Calvinist, it dismisses the lost as predestined to go to hell, and goes on its merry way).

  12. filbertz, I’m glad Michael folded this story into his ongoing coverage of pulling back the curtain, and allowing people to make up their own minds.

    This curtain is going to be pulled back even further in the near future, and what it will reveal is explosive. Even the naive, who care more about the alleviation of tension than truth and righteousness, will be forced to answer a fundamental question when it comes to cover up and abuse: Who do you believe?

    Because though not all liars are abusers, all abusers lie. Everyone of them.

    An excellent book on this topic is “Almost a Psychopath.” It reveals that the people who do the most damage aren’t full-blown psychopaths, who often end up in jail, but the almost psychopath, who share some but not all the traits, such as narcissism, grandiosity and so on. The authors say that they make up roughly 15% of a given population, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s about 1 out of every 8 people.

  13. UnCCed says:

    Michael (and Paul),
    Thank you.
    My ecclesiology has been so blasted to smithereens, I can’t see strait. Practically, I don’t understand “the church,” my place in it, or my future with it. Ironically, I kinda feel like those poor souls stuck in Afghanistan who must find a way to work with the Taliban. It’s all the have.
    But, y’all remind me God is still at work, and this is a very example of what it looks like.
    I very much needed to see a healthy example of the Lord’s body at work right, especially the bullying website – I’m scouring it for help now.
    Again, thank you.

  14. Michael says:


    You’re always welcome, my friend.
    Just keep focused on Jesus…the rest of this mess is outside our pay grade…

  15. Steve says:

    Pilgrim, give Jon a break and don’t be a grizzley bear, but be a care bear. 🙂 it’s not the first time I heard it’s a TERrible idea to try to separate the wheat from the tares when it comes to CC pastors. I heard the same exact rational in CC Philadelphia when I met with a pastor about another pastor. Its their modus operandi. Don’t be a Koala (qualified) bear because that’s not being a care bear. I think Jon, as probably many CC pastors, have to first process they were never (koala) qualified to be a pastor and let that sink in before addressing his son. That’s a hard pill to swallow after you are retired and you are consumed with your own legacy.

  16. Muff Potter says:

    What’s really unfathomable to me is that the attendees of these kinds of places will continue to bank-roll the Coursons and others like them.
    Other than being assured they’re not going to hell when they expire this life, what’s the draw?
    How do these modern day witch doctors hold such sway over otherwise intelligent and rational adults?

  17. Michael says:


    Most questions like that can be answered by the late, great Charles Bowden,
    “What is explained can be denied, but what is felt can’t be forgotten”.

  18. Xenia says:

    I wonder if some of these men are Christians, if they really believe in God. They have no fear of Him. I know their theology affects their laisse-faire attitude towards sin at times, but to behave as they do, it almost seems like they are not really believers, just proprietors of a pious night club, a practitioner of a career path that give them instant respect in their community, sporting a title that they didn’t work hard enough to get: “Pastor Joe.”

    Are some of these men really believers?

  19. Xenia says:

    I must hasten to add, anyone can fall into sin, but a continual pattern of sin and no real repentance and plenty of cover-up is not the mark of a genuine Christian.

  20. Xenia says:

    To summarize, some of these men act like they are atheists.

  21. Michael says:


    Well said…I’ve wondered about this for years…

  22. Xenia says:

    A fallen pastor needs to:

    1. Confess to God in the presence of another righteous man, with no weasel words or excuses, not blaming the other person or anyone else, especially not his wife, and taking the blame entirely upon his self.

    2. Out of charity, he should leave the name of the woman unmentioned. Let her do her own repentance. He must cut all ties with her.

    3. He should also confess to whatever ecclesiastical arrangement his church is part of. He should confess to those above him and his board of elders.

    4. If they fire him, he should accept it and not try to “resign.” They should fire him, IMO.

    5. I suppose some kind of farewell speech on a Sunday is next, although he should only be given about five minutes for this. No details other than “I committed adultery, the elders/bishop have rightly fired me, please forgive me, and I am off to find another line of work because I have disqualified myself from being a pastor. ” He should not say anything manipulative that would cause the congregation to feel sorry for him, and no comparisons with David or Samson.

    6. And he should not show his face at that church again. He should find another church to attend with his family, if he still has one, and he should tell the new pastor his story. Then he should “sit in the back row” and not accept any roles of authority, period. No Bible teaching, at least for many years until he’s pretty sure his temptations have left him. No glamour photos in the church directory!

    7. He should throw his efforts in rebuilding his life in Christ, his family, and he should work hard at his new line of work.

  23. Xenia says:

    I do not believe a fallen pastor should participate in any kind of program to restore him to the ministry. He’s llike a doctor who lost his license to practice medicine because of malpractice; he’s a lawyer who has been disbarred. He won’t work to get his old job back. He won’t start up a new church in another state. He will find some kind of non-religious job, work hard at it with integrity and God will bless him.

  24. Xenia says:

    I don’t think a church is obligated to give him severance pay so he can continue living in his million dollar house, if that’s the situation. Sell the house and move into more modest quarters.

  25. BrideofChrist says:

    Denial, I have a goid Christian friend who attends Calvary Chapel. Once when she was confronted with a shocking story about Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, where she used to attend, she responded with in a strange, but telling comment : ” I don’t like to think about things like that”. That is a kind of “magical thinking” ( psychology and child development term). It’ds actually considered a “dysfunctional” way to deal with cognitive dissonance!

  26. bob1 says:


    I’ve often wondered how much of a role magical thinking plays WRT conspiracy theories and other fantastical beiiefs.

  27. Pilgrim says:

    Hi Steve, I’m “embarrassed “ on how low the church has fallen. Give me a small church any day of the week. When I have walked into a church and the pastor has his tight shirt on to display his biceps for all to see and he flexes with Bible in hand i think he is the next man to fall into sin. Will God find Faith on the earth when he returns? The church needs to wake up , clean house , and repeat. God is not mocked . Galatians 6:7
    Thank- you Phoenix preacher for being here and letting us poor churchgoers vent. I am a thankful believer for the riches I have found in Christ. I for one can’t play church and look at the mega pastors lifestyle. God help us! Thanks for bearing with me.
    … ie what I learned from Jon Courson. 🐨

  28. BrideofChrist, indeed gas lighting. I mentioned that in the article, part of the abuser’s arsenal.

    ACF is playing from a very old playbook that doesn’t work like it used to. Remaining silent. Then attacking critics with a lilt in your voice and a smile in your eyes, now only works among the uber faithful.

    Two realities thwart this playbook: The power of social media, where bullies can no longer steer the narrative, and a changing culture that no longer blindly truckles to all forms of authority, including religious authority.

    The landscape has changed, and they don’t see it. And they don’t see it because the old playbook emanates from a defining arrogance. Pride, like fear, blinds.

    I’m saddened, though not surprised, when Courson calls those of us who labor to restore the church’s reputation, as “Pharisees.”

    We can’t overlook this next point: Name calling is Bullying 101. Bullies take a person’s name away and replace it with a demeaning derogatory one.

    It’s calculated and on purpose. It says, “You people aren’t just wrong, you’re bad. You deserve to be demeaned.”

    He bears false witness against an entire group, one of the 10 Commandments we are told NOT to do.

    As we process this and other slanderous attacks in the future, run them through this optic: All liars aren’t bullies. But all serial bullies lie. Everyone of them. Even with a lilt in their voice, and a smile in their eye.

  29. filbertz says:

    “…he bears false witness…”

    Is that as a grizzly, grumpy, koala, or Care Bear? 🙂

  30. Kevin H says:


    You forgot to add the strange deep hearty laugh after saying koala. 😉

  31. bob1: a “Living Epistle!” Don’t know if there’s a greater compliment. I will put that on my gravestone, knowing someone will eventually grind it off. I’ve played my part in creating change, which has its fans. And its enemies.

    And you’re right: people with low self-esteem are fodder for abuse. The malevolent know it, groom it, then exploit it.

    Thanks again for the compliment.

  32. Wise as serpent says:

    I never liked him or the way he taught and never understood the adulation he received. Glad the snake was outed. I wish more people would have spoken up sooner.

  33. Saga Sandberg says:

    I still think of Applegate as my home church and I feel we should not critasise ben courson for what he did or his parents. I feel as christons we need to pray for jon and tambo during this hard time and especially ben that he will fully turn back to god and ask for deliverance from the wrong and truly come back to God and get back in the ministry even stronger and never again fall to temptation. I love you all and am praying for all of you.

  34. Officerhoppy says:

    Of course we need to pray for Jon and Ben and the Courson family. No one wants anything but repentance. But there needs to be a significant amount of time for reflection and correction. I also think this needs to be done with outside help. I don’t think Jon was ever totally honest regarding his relationship with “the” other woman. Ben may be disqualified from the pastorate. But may have a role elsewhere.

  35. pstrmike says:

    Well said, hoppy…..

    Too often we forget that God can raise up stones to cry out.

  36. Michael says:


    They’re both disqualified from the ministry.
    Full stop.
    I pray they both repent and find rewarding careers in insurance or animal husbandry.

  37. Em says:

    Michael @9:20
    Yes and amen, but we still pray for true humility and repentance

  38. Officerhoppy says:

    Paul, my good friend, having been in Jon’s “inner circle” for a fe years the woman’s claim she was pressured for sex sent up some red flags for me. As you know, I was removed from the ACF staff when Jon decided one day to change things up. I was a dedicated, employee, pastor and elder. I left a good job to come on staff. I feel I played a significant role in helping the hunch grow. To be dismissed as easily as I was, when jon required complete dedication to him and his vision seemed hypocritical. But I never witnessed or heard of Jon ever pressing any female for sex. So the while want to I’ve the woman the benefit of the doubt I am curious what was said that made her feel pressured. That’s all. It’s the cop in me

  39. Officerhoppy says:

    Intent and perception can be two different things. Now having said all this, I know you as a solid and thorough investigative reporter

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