This is a version of a post that I made in the Free Thinking Jesus Followers group that I help admin.
Friends, as hurt as I am by Doreen’s actions, I have to say that it was her willingness to take a risk and start the group for people who were reaching out to her wanting to explore following Jesus–that helped me get out of a dark time.
She reached out to me in great vulnerability initially, because we were both Christian and vegan. I was surprised when I saw that Doreen Virtue was commenting on my Jesus Vegans page and Jesus Vegans Online Community. I wasn’t really familiar with her, but I had heard she was famous somewhere or another.
When I started posting about the animal rights movie, Okja, she wanted to know if she could watch it–or would it be too graphic. I worked really hard to figure out if she could watch it, and described the various parts that might be objectionable.
She was very grateful, and we bonded in that experience.
She shared with me how difficult it was for her to make the transition to being Christian, and how critical people were–and I empathized with her. I also gave her some guidance–on how NOT to become a fundamentalist 🙂
I was surprised when she asked me for advice as to whether or not she should start a facebook page for the many people who were writing her and telling her they were drawn to Jesus, too.
I said, “go for it!” and I gave her some pointers. Within a few days (or maybe hours) the group was up. She didn’t want to promote it at first–but we still grew quickly. A week or so later, she did announce it–and it grew to 2000 people within a week!
Then she felt inspired and shared about the group on her weekly video. She also said very kind words about me and promoted Jesus Vegans community. This goes out to millions of people.
At one point, she said something like, “My friend Trish says words that seem to come right out of the Bible”. I felt so grateful. She really respected me and seemed to be grateful for my mentoring. I felt a bit overwhelmed–me, mentoring this famous person with so much influence? But I hoped to steer her in a direction that would avoid the pain I had felt when I first became a Christian. I tried to be a fundamentalist in order to fit in, and the results were tragic.
I loved the feedback she gave at first on the FB group. She was open and loving. She was really encouraging me as I posted more. And as I interacted with the members, shared her gratitude for my involvement. I felt close to her. We texted practically every day.
After only two weeks or so, when the group had quickly grew to 2000 people, I realized that Doreen’s message was beginning to sound rote. “Read your Bible, find a church to attend, and pray.” That is what I was told in the beginning after my conversion, and I almost lost my faith because of this advice.
I started confronting her gently, and then more firmly when she started referring people to a site called http://www.gotquestions.org where advice was given such as homosexuality was a sin, and women should not be leaders.
I think I pushed her too hard. And she was getting overwhelmed with the size of the group. She told me that she was going to transfer the group over to me.
Almost immediately I felt compelled to publish my criticism on the group page, which was not correct. I didn’t think I was harsh, but I definitely voiced disagreement with the way Doreen was addressing questions. I didn’t want people to think I agreed with her. I had built up so much credibility with many people.
Almost immediately after I publicly told her that she should not be referring people to the Got Questions site with reasons stated above, she archived the site and referred people to a very fundamentalist FB group
Being involved with the initial group that doreen., and now this group, has lead me to be more spiritually connected to Jesus than ever before in my life. Having to fight a kind of battle with the darkness of fundamentalism (which can infect any spiritual path), I found out that I didn’t want anything to do with a spiritual path where I thought my path was the only way or even the best way.
Being a friend to Jesus and identifying values that align with his teachings, and having an intimate relationship with him where he helps me live according to my values, is the best path I have found in order fulfill my life’s purpose to help heal myself, my family, community, and the entire creation.
I will forever be grateful to Doreen for her helping me get out of my depression and give me something useful to do.
Her willingness to trust me and take a risk resulted in a spiritual awakening that I needed before I could fling the doors of this community open wide to those who align with our values and beliefs (which I will be sharing soon)
I don’t think that Doreen is intentionally swindling people as some articles like some I have seen implies. Perhaps she is overwhelmed, in denial, and hoping that with God’s help, all the unfinished business and conflicts that arose around her transition to this new faith will go away.
That is the pattern I have seen with Christians over the past 17 years. 99.99% of them refuse to engage in conflict resolution so that reconciliation can take place because they just want to walk in love and light. Their lack of integrity results in church splites, people leaving churches, and hurting people like myself terribly. Some people leave Jesus behind along with the church.
I forgive Doreen, and I really want her highest good. I pray that she will address all the conflicts that she has in her life right now and take responsibility for what is hers to take. I believe she will happier and more effective in her ministry.
I do think that she is leaning towards fundamentalist Christianity, and one video I saw said that she was afraid of going to hell. Anyone who teaches that we should surrender our lives to Jesus, or go to hell, is teaching something that I think is terribly damaging to both the human pysche and to their relationship with Jesus.
The best example I can come up with is this.
Jesus says lovingly to you, “Do you want to dance?”
You say, “No.”
Jesus says lovingly. “Then you are going be tortured in hell eternally.”
I feel happy to have come to this place with Doreen because I realized I still had anger towards her which was eating me up. I have asked her to forgive me for making posts that disagreed with her publicly, and she did say she forgave me.
Thank you, Elizabeth Ristowfor your wise advice, and Kim Broniman for you questioning me about my need to expose Doreen. You are both true friends because you hold me accountable, and as a leader, I desperately need that.
love to all!
I really like this blog post about Doreen’s new found faith. I agree with everything! That is so unusual!