Jan 31, 2023

ICOC Evangelists Publicly Describe Chain of Gay Sex Abuse in Central ICOC Leadership - "The Movement's Original Sin"

My jaw dropped when I heard these words from a podcast where Steven Leslie Johnson, who was basically Kip McKean's right-hand man in the ICOC and who also was at the top of the payroll at HOPE WorldWide and overall one of the very tippy-top leaders in the entire International Churches of Christ (and momentarily with the International Christian Church as well) was sitting down with another ICOC evangelist (and ICOC historian), James Lloyd. Both of these two men were in the group of "thirty would-be disciples" that started the Boston movement with Kip and were right there as witnesses to the chain of sex abuse right from the start. 

(Link to the podcast here)

Sitting there with Steve Johnson, James Lloyd states: 

“The truth is that the foundational “original sin” of our movement was homosexual sin. Man on man, specifically a male older leader, on young interns. And not just a few times—you can find out, it’s not like nobody knows. The fact that our original sin was a senior leader (Lucas) who is respected and loved and training a group of young men—As the leader gets them in a room and shuts the door and this leader (Lucas) ‘puts the moves’ on these young men. And it’s worse than it sounds because those men then became ministers (perpetrators) and went out into their churches and did the same things to others— and I know that personally, because I was in some of those meetings where it was confessed.

“They thought it was best not to share this with anybody, and I bought into those reasons. They would say things like, ‘He’s got children, he’s got a wife, you can’t just say those things out loud, it could hurt the faith of a young Christian.’ All these things are just the hierarchy and patriarchy saying that we don’t need to bring this thing up about ‘man on man.’ And I don’t personally think that this sin is any different than if it was between a man and a woman by the way— I’m only calling it sin because they weren’t married.

“But the real sin here is that we (church) hid it. People should be taught that this is how our group started. And some of that (sin) has continued for three generations. Some of that trauma was carried on, was passed on to other men as they went out into other (ICOC) churches.”

With no disagreement from Steve, whose silence obviously shows that he knows that what James is saying is true. 

So here we have ICOC leaders publicly discussing THREE GENERATIONS of sex abuse originating in central ICOC leadership!

AND, we have ICOC leaders publicly stating that the ICOC leadership COVERED UP those acts of sexual abuse! 


How many times was it? "A few" would mean three, maybe five. So NOT "just a few" meant a whole bunch of guys, and a whole bunch of times. 

Let's also remember that ministers and many other professionals are required BY LAW to report sexual abuse. The penalty for not reporting sexual abuse include fines and JAIL TIME. This is no small thing. 

Notice that Steve and James choose not to name names here. Maybe one or both of them were victims? They obviously know which of the other high-ranking ICOC leaders were on the receiving end of this abuse, and clearly know the identities of at least some of them who then went on to sexually abuse others. 

What does three generations look like? 

Chuck Lucas (who was Kip McKean's "spiritual father" and the original founder of the ministry that became the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) and the International Christian Churches (ICC), grooms leaders much younger than himself. He trains them for ministry duties. Once he has their confidence, he sexually seduces them. Chuck has gay sex with them, consensually or nonconsensually. There was obviously a power dynamic that was in play, with Chuck the much more powerful person in each sexual encounter. This happens with Chuck sexually abusing one up-and-coming ministry leader after another. That is generation one. 

Generation two: Leaders who were sexually abused by Chuck Lucas go on to become leaders in the ICOC. Some of these leaders go on to sexually abuse others in the church. 

Generation THREE: At least one person, possibly more, that Steve Johnson and James Lloyd clearly seem to know about and feel confident enough about it in order to discuss in a public podcast, who was abused by one of those secondary ICOC leaders, then went on to sexually abuse yet a new generation of victims. 

Chuck + sex abuse -> ICOC leaders + sex abuse -> 2nd generation of ICOC leaders or members + sex abuse -> 3rd generation of ICOC victims 

Victims become abusers. Then the church works to cover up what has happened to save the ICOC leaders from embarrassment. 

Yes, that would be awkward to know that the "man of God" up at the front of the hotel room pressuring you to give ever more donations to the church had been the victim of, and perpetrator of, sexual abuse as a part of the ministry. 

This reminds me of a story from awhile ago down in Mexico City. 

The lead evangelist of the Mexico City ICOC was found to be using church money to rent an apartment for the purpose of having sex with other men. 

When the other church leaders found out about this they swiftly took action! 

Per the pattern that we are now learning was pervasive in the ICOC, church leaders acted quickly to suppress the story. The leader in question, Josue Ortega, quietly stepped down for unspecified "leadership sins" and was shipped off to lead a smaller congregation in Costa Rica. 

Josue Ortega had been put into place by the previous lead evangelist of the Mexico City ICOC, Peter/Pedro Garcia. Pedro Garcia was Kip McKean's brother-in-law, brother of Kip's wife, Elena Garcia McKean. 

Pedro Garcia was around from the early days so could have been a victim of abuse by Chuck Lucas. (Witnesses have stated that Kip publicly admitted, in a rare moment of weakness and defeat, to being one of Chuck Lucas' sex abuse victims himself.) 

Josue Ortega was pretty clearly gay. I mean, if you ever talked to him you could tell pretty much immediately. (I could tell at least!) And members of the Mexico City ICOC would whisper about how it was odd that he was the lead evangelist and throw off so may gay vibes. Additionally, multiple other top leaders in the Mexico ICOC seem pretty clearly gay. The fact that a decent percentage of the top leaders who are two levels away from Chuck Lucas are pretty clearly gay suggests that they had qualities that their higher-ups were looking for, possibly in more than one sense. At the least it clearly seems to fit into the pattern of ICOC and leadership gay sex improprieties described above. 

(If you do not know which leaders in the Mexico City ICOC that I am talking about who seem to be gay, just talk to any long-standing members there. They will be able to tell you! This is not to speak negatively about homosexuality or homosexuals. But we can point out that these poor folks are now forced into heterosexual marriages now and then doing things like having sex with men on the side, in all likelihood without the knowledge or consent of their wives.) 

So not to get completely distracted from the greater picture of passed-through-three-generations gay sex abuse among central ICOC leaders that Steve Johnson and friend were discussing, but there is more to the Josue Ortega story as well. 

After Josue was "outed" and relocated to Costa Rica, there was a disciple (ICOC church member) who was talking about what happened. Somehow somebody in Costa Rica heard about this and then this disciple started receiving multiple anonymous death threats through the Internet with the IP address tracking back to Costa Rica. So a smoking gun pointing at Josue Ortega trying to silence people talking about what he got caught doing. Sadly that general dynamic is not far from standard operating tactics of the ICOC as demonstrated by other leaders including Kip McKean who are willing to use threats and bullying in order to get their way (talking from personal experience with Kip here.) 

Thankfully I found out about this situation and am therefore able to make it known to a larger audience. Just imagine if I had contact with every last corner of the ICOC and ICC and could publish all the crazy stories that are out there? 

So the recent revelations that Kip McKean worked consciously and deliberately to silence sex abuse victims within the ICOC and ICC looks even worse now (were that possible) that we are aware of the centrality of sexual abuse that went back to the very beginning of the movement and then is now known to have traveled down through THREE GENERATIONS of abuse victims. 

Jan 11, 2023

Breaking News: ICC/ICOC Rape & Child Sex Abuse Cases Go to Court - Under Kip McKean, ICOC & ICC Leaders Protected Rapists, Blamed Victims!

I wish I could say it was my pleasure, but it isn't. The going to court part is good, but the sickening abuse that is the reason for the court cases far outweighs anything else. 

Rolling Stone picked up the story first: 

Not Your ‘Church Next Door’: ‘Cult’ Ignored Abuse, Ran ‘Pyramid Scheme,’ Lawsuit Claims (Rolling Stone) 

Five women sue Christian organizations - the International Churches of Christ - for 'covering up child sexual abuse and exerting financial pressure on member to the extent that some killed themselves' (Daily Mail UK)

(Since publishing the number of plaintiffs has increased from five to over 20.)

Basically, in a pattern described previously in this blog, both ICOC and ICC leadership is accused of not turning over pedophiles to the authorities. In multiple instances outlined in the suits, adults in leadership capacity roles in Kip McKean's ministries raped or otherwise sexually assaulted teens and children as young as three years old. (I currently have a three-year-old and my stomach is sick as I write this.) Then, when these abuses were made known to other church leaders, the church chose to protect the abusers rather than report them to the police as the law and common decency required. 

And to add insult to injury, church leaders victim-shamed underage victims of statutory rape, treating them as the guilty party instead of as victims. In one case leaders repeatedly called the girl a "slut". (So much for Kip's teaching that "sin is sin" and all equally bad in the eyes of God.) 

We know that these several persons who have come forward are a tiny, tiny fraction of the total number of victims. 

If you were in the ICOC years ago, you might remember the claims that the church made frequently as one of it's great selling points: While other churches and organizations have had sexual scandals, we were told, the ICOC has remained completely devoid of any such issues. Well, now it is being made publicly known that this claim was false. There WERE sexual abuse scandals. What's more, the scandals have been there since the very beginning of the Boston Movement and then forever since. 

However, in a Machiavellian turn, church leaders chose to handle them "internally." This meant trying to keep anyone from knowing what happened, even if it meant protecting the abuser and preventing the abuser from having legal consequences. 

As a result of these policies, and yes, at this point we can clearly call them policies, at least one perpetrator of abuse went on to continue sexually abusing children and is now in prison for raping another child later on. Plus how many other children did that one person mortally damage for life, who we might never even know about?

The saddest part of this is that hiding sexual abuse seems to have been planned from the start. There was sexual abuse and cover-up even in the earliest days of the church group that later led to the ICOC and the ICC. 

The first big scandal was from Chuck Lucas, the leader of the campus ministry where Kip McKean was converted to his toxic version of Christianity. Chuck had sex with multiple campus students. (Whispered and unverified rumors suggest that many years later, Kip McKean publicly confessed to have been one of those students.) That scandal broke open and Chuck had to resign from the ministry. This was devastating for the group and certainly hindered their efforts to win new converts. Many people have heard about that scandal, inside and outside of the group. 

Kip and his associates apparently learned from that experience - that sexual scandal can quickly make them famous in the worst way. 

The next time there was a big sexual scandal they made sure that it was kept quiet. This time, it was another big leader who was caught having sex with multiple members of the congregation. However, it was in the teen ministry. The adult male leader had sex with multiple underage teen girls. He committed statutory rape with multiple victims. In some circles, that would brand him a serial rapist. He might go to court, go to jail, and be placed on a list so that he would have to forever register his whereabouts for the protection of the most vulnerable around him. 

However, in the circles of Kip McKean's ministries, that man did not go to court. He did not go to jail. He did not get placed on any sex offender lists. 

Kip and other ministry leadership decided to try to keep that scandal as quiet as possible. They did not turn the leader over to the police. They did not even force him to resign from leadership. 

What they did do was pay money to the victims on the condition that they sign a non-disclosure agreement. That means they are bound to not disclose what had happened. 

And that leader?

Kip later promoted that rapist up to the highest levels of church leadership, even World Sector Leader (WSL)! 

World Sector Leaders were the highest level of leadership in the ICOC below Kip himself. The WSLs were presented as paragons of virtue in ICOC propaganda videos (Kingdom News Network) and in other ICOC materials. 

The rapist, who shall remain nameless for reasons that will soon become clear, has continued to enjoy a high level of protection from consequences for his past deeds. A few years ago, I published an article naming names. At that time, a few Google searches could lead any interested party to publicly available Internet discussions where multiple people discussed what happened and the person in question. 

However, that person, in his position of well-paid church leadership and notoriety, had the resources to have a fancy big law firm send me a sufficiently threatening letter to my home address. Being a person of more modest means and not in a position to undergo a legal battle with high-powered lawyers, I took the article down. 

But the point here is not that single perpetrator. The point here is the system of abuse. The system puts the rights, needs, and wants of church leadership over and above those of church members, in the grossest of terms. 

This was a dynamic that I saw first-hand as a member of the ICOC and later, the ICC. "Rank-and-file" members were held to one standard, while leadership enjoyed an entirely different one. There was always a power dynamic at play. There was no servant leadership - the members were there to serve the leaders. 

Kip loves appearances. Anything he touches has an element of show. Now it is finally becoming public knowledge that this extends to the pretense of moral superiority that he wrapped himself and his organizations in. If you can't be moral, then by God, you better appear to be moral. And when the two are in conflict, it is much better to appear moral rather than be moral. So naturally he and the organizations he ran protected abusers rather than turn them in. 

What was a failure for truth and justice was a win for Kip. Anyone who was guilty of such widely condemnable acts and who remained under Kip's direction became indebted to Kip for their continued position. Everyone in the ICOC/ICC knew the "drips" of negative information of anyone who left the church suffered. Church leaders waste no time in publicly slandering anyone who has left the organization, often with a mixture of truth and lies. I saw it a hundred times and then suffered it myself when I left. Anything I had ever done wrong plus a list of things that were a figment of someone's malicious imagination. If that WSL had a differing opinion than Kip's, better keep it quiet rather than be very publicly exposed. 

I also witnessed firsthand that Kip utterly does not care about the righteousness of people working for him. When I had complaints against a paid staff member who was a pathological liar and who I had allowed to become indebted to me for a few thousand dollars, I met with Kip and the leader to iron it out. It was more than abundantly clear that Kip's one and only priority was to find the leader faultless and to quell discontent in the "disgruntled member." And no, Kip did not do anything whatsoever to get the leader to repay me, or have the church step into the gap. Which in hindsight makes sense, because the church is always interested in parting its members from their money as a primary aim. 

Kip literally did not care if I got screwed over by the leader who was working for him. He just wanted me to not be too upset about it.

Kip and those under his leadership continue to follow the same pattern: right no wrongs done by leaders. Protect the leaders, as long as they continue to do whatever Kip orders them to do. Place the needs of church leaders completely above those of church members and the public. Throw away the victims of the church's abuses like crumpled up wads of paper trash, and then talk about them like trash to their faces and to their backs as soon as they leave.  

Hopefully these lawsuits will be the first of many more to come. And more importantly, hopefully these lawsuits will somehow help prevent other kids from being abused. 

Jan 9, 2023

Leaving Kip McKean's Church: Ten Years Later

 I finally left the ICC in 2012, ten years ago. 

The final straw, after enduring years of emotional manipulation and abuse in ICOC and ICC congregations in several cities, was when I had my second child. 

I knew in my heart that there was no way in HELL that I wanted my children to grow up in the environment that I had lived in for the preceding 15 years. 

The church had done an excellent job at conditioning me to be afraid to leave. All of my friends were in the church, since as part of joining the cult I had to pretty much cut off any close relationship outside of the group. 

Since leaving the ICC and ICOC, I have gone back to school to get a series of nursing degrees: RN BSN and then nurse practitioner. 

My years of abuse continue to echo in my mind. 

I try not to think about it. I focus my attention on positive things in the present and hopes for my future. 

It's kind of embarrassing to look back and know that I fell for everything at all, and that I fell for it for so long. But humans are stubborn (or at least I am). So once I went down the wrong path it was very hard for me to steer away from it. I mean, when I got baptized I swore that I would remain in the church until my death! That is no small thing. 

So do I regret leaving Kip's church? 

Not for one second. 

I DO regret taking as long as I did to leave though. 

The fifteen years wasted .. burned out of my life, forever. My prime years of youth and vitality. Donated to a cynical and corrupt man and system who immediately threw me away like a piece of trash the moment it was clear they could wring no more value from me. And then trash-talked me to all of my friends and acquaintences in the church about what a terrible person I was. Not because they cared about me at all. Only because they wanted to continue to wring money and whatever else from all of them, and the last thing they wanted was for anyone else to wake up and leave the fold. 

But they say that when life gives you lemons .. make lemonade. 

So after going through all that trauma, it allowed me to relate with other people who had also suffered. 

When I went to nursing school, I figured I would get a job working in an ER somewhere. However, I discovered psychiatric nursing - something that I literally did not even know existed before I started nursing school. 

I was one of the tiny minority of nursing students who felt right at home in psych. 

I went into psychiatric nursing straight from graduation, landng a very well-paying job. Then with the encouragement of my boss and mentors, I went back to school to become a pschiatric nurse practitioner. Now I work from home making four times more per year than I ever did while in the church, while working way, way fewer hours. 

As a grown man, I enjoy not having to endure stupid, ridiculous "advice" ordering me around from anyone in the church. (Oh, they had me indoctrinated very well. I was convinced that it was a spiritual virtue to be humble and directable and do what other people told me to do. I wish I could reach every single other person in that position now and somehow help them to realize that the church truly does NOT care about them. Very sadly and bitterly true, and verified so many times by so many people - the church cares about its leaders, its income, and its image. Individual members are resources to be used up and then discarded the way corporate America does or the way a narcissist does.) 

I enjoy not having to do the mental summersaults to try to continue convincing myself that the beliefs of the church could somehow make some sort of sense. 

I enjoy not living in fear. Fear of failing. Fear of not living up. 

Is anything that you ever do in the ICC or ICOC ever good enough? 

I enjoy no longer feeling that I am being emotionally manipulated. 

I enjoy not having to endure eternal sermons about how I need to sacrifice even more money. Money that overwhelmingly goes to support extremely comfortable lifestyles for the organization's top leaders. 

If you are a member, do you realize that over 90% of all your donations goes to pay for staff salary and perks? The church as a whole could hire triple the number of staff, or more, and have them live reasonably well-off. They demand that YOU make the sacrifice, so that THEY can spend it on themselves. You can see it in all but the very smallest congregations - the evangelist makes more money than any other person in the entire church, except for, in some cases, possibly one exceptionally wealthy member. Is that anything like Jesus' example, or that of Paul or any of the other apostles? No, of course it is not - it is the complete opposite. And so much of your effort goes to that offering, and special contribution. You know that the often-touted "rent for this room we are in" is something like 3% of the contributions right? And "giving to the poor" is literally 1% of the church's contribution. One freaking percent to be spread among possibly dozens or hundreds of people, while ~90% goes to the lead evangelist couple. Sick. 

So yes, I am glad to not be constantly scammed out of my time and my money. Glad to not be lied to. Glad to not be the annoying religious person at work, family gatherings, or other. 

I am glad to have my life back. 

And yes, I am very, very glad that my children are not growing up in that place. 

Kip's Shorts: Kip McKean, Character Assassination and the ICC

This post was written awhile ago and is now being published in light of the court cases alleging rampant, covered-up child sexual abuse under Kip McKean's leadership

Disclaimer: I was not present for the following evets so can not vouch for the veracity in an absolute sense like I can for my experiences where Kip McKean and friends threatened and tried to destroy my family. This story was told by leaders of the LAICC after Kip left a leadership position in the ICOC. It is ironic because Kip himself was one of the promoters of the technique of trash-talking members as soon as they have left the church as a way of preventing church members from paying any attention to what that person said. That's some karma! 

So it is possible that the church leaders who told this story were lying in whole or in part in order to discredit Kip. To me it sounds real but you can be the judge. 

Here is the story they told: 

During his time leading the Los Angeles International Church of Christ, Kip McKean would go running, and then have a female intern give him a rub him down massage afterward.

While that is weird enough in itself, it gets worse. Kip would be shirtless. He would also be wearing very short shorts. And Kip would not be wearing any underwear.

So certain parts of his anatomy (read: his testicles and possibly his penis) would spill out of his shorts and be visible to the unfortunate low-paid church intern whose job it was to give “God’s greatest living treasure” his massage.

After a certain number of times of this happening, the girl was freaked out enough to seek help from other leaders. She threatened to make the situation public if it wasn’t corrected.

The leaders kicked into overdrive to try to keep a very tight lid on what could very easily have escalated into a public relations nightmare for the church and "the movement". I don't know the methods they used, but the girl was motivated to keep quiet and presumably Kip learned to keep himself covered.

The story was held “close to the chest” by those aware of it, but then allowed to “leak” later on so that it could be used to dissuade people from yanking over from the ICOC to the ICC.

Did the ICOC leaders make it up? Possibly. But it is oddly specific. And I think if I were going to make up a story I would make up something else even more dramatic. 

If Kip did act super creepy like this (although it does not sound illegal) and the ICOC did act to cover it up for him, that would be right in line with the many accusations which are currently going through the court system from different victims of sexual crimes by church leaders that the church helped cover up for the benefit of the leader and to the additional harm of the victim. 

“What happens in the darkness will be shown in the light.” 

If provided with substantive evidence that this story is not correct, this post will be updated to reflect that.