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scarletpeaches
04-02-2006, 07:12 PM
Okay...first of all apologies for this complaint - I feel a need to get it off my chest. Here goes.

A few weeks ago while ill with tonsillitis, I got a visit from a friend; we'll call her Lynsey. Mainly 'cause that's her name. Rather ominously she said, "There's something you need to know about what's been going on."

Turns out someone I thought was a friend had been spreading rumours about me and a fellow member of my congregation - male, of course. And married. Separated, but married. The bottom line is, this person-I-thought-was-a-friend isn't as much of a Christian as she would pretend to be, and has a crush on this guy. I reckon she's trying to 'clear the decks' of any female competition should he, in future, divorce. His family hope they will be reconciled, though, as do I.

Now, I took the matter to the elders of the congregation, and here's where the problem begins. This false friend has been rather taken under their wing, as she emigrated here from Canada, for no other reason she said, than she 'fancied a change'. It looks as if she left in rather a hurry, though, or under a cloud...

So they've been looking out for her and have rather taken her side. "There's nothing we can do," they said. "But she's lying about me, and according to my Bible, lying is wrong," I said. "You're just trying to get revenge, cause trouble, and you're unbalanced," they said.

How Christian.

So for the past few weeks I have been basically doing the spiritual job of the people who should be taking care of this. Now I know I laugh and joke a lot, but if you like, you could call that my 'online persona'. In real life I try to do the right thing; I like to have a laugh, but I'm often brutally honest to the point of rudeness and I do try my best.

I've sought legal advice and in Scotland, there's no slander or libel law - it's all defamation of character. All I have to do is prove this person knowingly and deliberately repeated false gossip to the detriment of my reputation in my community. So I am seriously thinking of making it a legal matter as the people who are responsible for keeping the congregation clean, morally, are protecting their own and refusing to deal with it. Basically, they're letting her get away with badmouthing me because she's their friend, and a bit of a suck-up. At the same time I don't want to make the congregation look bad publicly, hence my reluctance to call in my lawyer.

There is, of course, also this other man to think of. If his wife gets to hear these rumours, she could believe them and this could be the final nail in the coffin of his already rocky marriage.

This week I called on his parents to confide in them and they have asked me to say nothing about it to their son, to protect him, but they have asked me to call them regularly, to keep them informed.

I have also set up a meeting in public, though just the two of us, with the person spreading the rumours about me. I was surprised she agreed, but she probably thinks it will make her look good and she can then tell the elders how Christian she is, agreeing to meet the poor, unfortunate slag, to try to rehabilitate her. She even had the cheek to say to me on the phone today, "I'm not mad at you or anything." Fine, as long as you're not!:rant:

I'm very worried about losing my temper with her. I want to do things the right way - take it to the person as an individual in the first instance, as in Matt chap.5, but...I'm scared she'll either take the attitude, "Ha ha, they believe me, there's nothing you can do," or I will hit her.

If I never see another solicitor, elder, or lying cow again, it'll be too soon.

One of the worst things is, she waited 'til I was in bed, ill, before spreading these rumours. That's just...low. Isn't it?

Danger Jane
04-02-2006, 07:53 PM
Oh, I'm sorry. That's really shameful.

aadams73
04-02-2006, 08:07 PM
That seriously sucks! What a 4-letter C word!

This is where I'd get into the whole "eye for an eye" thing. Payback time.

I'd start with putting it around that she has a veneral disease. Prferably something that oozes a lot.

P.H.Delarran
04-02-2006, 08:24 PM
sorry you have to deal with this. sounds like the true friend is the one who came to you, and has your best interests at heart. now you know the truth of these other people..why even bother with them? really..i mean..sure, talk to the person spreading the rumors if it makes you feel better, but i wouldn't expect anything. suing would just be a big ole mess and hurt a lot of people. what damage has been done? your true friends believe in you, that's what counts. if there's an issue the church needs to handle, sure, take it up with the right people, or (gasp) leave. but it's been my experience that rumors left unfanned die pretty quickly. and rumor spreaders soon get bored with one story and move on to the next. seems like making too big an issue of this just drags it out, and you could be accused of spreading your own rumors if you keep discussing this with everyone except the perpetrator, ya know? strength of character will speak worlds about you that no rumor can squelch. just stay strong. good luck with this.

Yeshanu
04-02-2006, 08:33 PM
sp, before you go to the law: Is your church part of a denomination, and could you go above the elders if the elders aren't willing to hear the truth?
I've been in a similar situation before. Unfortunately, some mentally unbalanced persons seem to get a kick out of dividing churches for their own gain, and unfortunately, it's far too easy to do.

Meeting her in public is a good first step, but if you've got a friend to take along as a witness, do so. Tell her that you're aware of what she's doing, and tell her to stop it immediately. Tell her that if you hear any more slander, that you WILL get the authorities involved. (You don't necessarily have to be specific about what kind of authorities you get involved.)

If you can go above the elders in your congregation, meet again with the elders. Tell them that what is happening is not satisfactory, and that you expect them to call her to account for it. They really can't do much except tell her that they're aware of the situation, and that it's not acceptable for a Christian to do such things, but often that's enough. At the very least, those who are listening to her now should stop listening.

Tell them that, "We can't do anything," is not an acceptable answer, but do have some idea of what it is you want them to do when you meet with them. Tell them that you're concerned, not only for your own reputation, but for the marriage of the man involved, and that you will continue to pursue all means available to you in order to stop what's going on.

Hopefully, the elders will hear your more assertive message, and get the point that what goes on with their little part of the flock is their concern, and that they should do something.

It speaks ill of the spiritual health of your congregation if folks are actually listening to this woman, though. I had a situation in my last congregation, where I was a student minister. It came to my attention through the daughter of a member of the congregation that someone had been spreading a rumour about me. The daughter said her mother basically told the rumour-spreader, "Don't spread rumours. We don't listen to them, anyhow."

That's my model for a real Christian.

God bless, sp. Hope things turn out well.

Julie Worth
04-02-2006, 08:54 PM
That's my model for a real Christian.


If anyone mentions on their business card that they're a Christian, I automatically assume they're a criminal too.

WriterInChains
04-02-2006, 09:02 PM
I've dealt with this kind of situation before (living in a small town will do that to ya), and P.H.Delarran is right on the money. The more you deny the rumor[s], the more people will assume they're true.

Just because this person has no dignity, doesn't mean you need to give yours to her.

Good luck with this, it won't be pleasant no matter how you deal with it, but it will pass.
~Caren

maestrowork
04-02-2006, 09:07 PM
Betrayal is a horrible thing; however, now you know... and you have an experience. This person is not worth having a heartache over. Dump her, and move on.

kikazaru
04-02-2006, 09:08 PM
That is such a terrible position to be in, but imo if it was me, I would most probably ignore it and just handle it with attitude. The people that know and love you will not believe it - and they will straighten anyone else out that tells them different. And if the people in the congregation take the word of this new arrival over yours, then imo you may want to think twice about being among them. Never fear, her true colours will come to light just not as fast as you would like.

However, if you feel you must do something, see if you can track down just why this tramp left Canada in the first place. Perhaps you could get your lawyer to contact her last church and see what they have to say about her.

On the other hand, if you do meet her my suggestion would be to tape your conversation (I know that it is not admissable in a court of law, but you could get your minister to listen to anything interesting she has to say), and to suggest that she may want to reconsider spreading lies about you, since you now have your solicitor on the case. That may just be enough to scare her into stopping.

You have my sympathy, it is such an awful situation to be in.

scarletpeaches
04-02-2006, 09:29 PM
I suspect she will be nicey-nicey tomorrow; she is the sort to play the innocent, "I only did it for your good," card. However, despite any desire to smack her chops, I know to remain blameless in this, I must do the right thing, and the right thing is to tackle her. (Metaphorically speaking)!

After that, I plan to go back to the elders and say, "I know exactly what you are. I'll be watching. Next time, I'll skip you lot and bring my lawyer in straight away. And I'll drag this congregation's name through the mud."

I won't, but they'll think I will, judging me by their own standards. They'll be scared of exposure. And I don't want to leave the organisation. This particular congregation, yes, but I ask myself: Wouldn't that be running away? And why blame God for what men do?

You know, for some reason, as well as thinking WWJD, I ask WWGD? Gandhi would shame them with kindness. Or perhaps I have delusions of grandeur. Perhaps if I'm constantly seen to do the right thing, people will begin to recognise my character, and the characters of everyone else involved.

I've always believed: People always eventually show what they really are.

Jeez. I need a holiday. Maestro, I'm gonna vacation at your crib. Start up the hot tub.

Yeshanu: I hear you on the spiritual health of the congregation. Perhaps I can have a part to play in exposing this. I just have to stay strong and insist on justice and fair play.

Kikazaru: You're not the first to suggest trying to find out why she left Canada. It'd be difficult, but...makes you wonder, huh? No-one just hops over to another continent without good reason...leaving under a cloud, perchance?

Also, she's insisting that it's just her and me tomorrow, which is okay. That's the first step. After which, the Bible says to take a witness. She can't argue with that, if she claims to be a Christian. If she refuses to state her case with someone else present, that could well be the start of her publicly showing what she is.

Puddle Jumper
04-02-2006, 09:40 PM
What a stinky situation. It's amazing how much one person can ruin another person's reputation. That's why I try and avoid hanging out with people who will judge a person off the comments of someone else. If someone comes to me and tells me bad things about someone else, I won't form an opinion of that other person based on negative info. Because I know firsthand how easy it is when we're angry at someone to then run and vent on someone else and for that person to believe it and turn against that person as well even though the person has not done anything against them. I hope this turns out good for you.

scarletpeaches
04-02-2006, 09:43 PM
It's a hard situation; I just keep telling myself, "Just because she's acting like this, doesn't mean I can act in the same way."

As has already been said, dignity is very important here.

Yeshanu
04-02-2006, 09:48 PM
After that, I plan to go back to the elders and say, "I know exactly what you are. I'll be watching. Next time, I'll skip you lot and bring my lawyer in straight away. And I'll drag this congregation's name through the mud."

I won't, but they'll think I will, judging me by their own standards


This concerns me, sp. What you seem to be saying is, "I'm going to go to the elders and lie to them in order to get them to do what's right."

You won't be taking the high road, then. You'll be descending to the level of the person you are hoping to stop.

It's one thing to threaten legal action and mean it. It's quite another thing to threaten it with no intentions of following through. It hurts everybody without resolving anything when you do that, as people begin to lose faith in your word.

WWJD is a very important question. Here's what my bible says on the matter:

Mt 5:38-40

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone stirkes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well..."

Mt 5:43-46

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"

Mt 18:15-17

"If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

(Here endeth the lesson. Thanks be to God.)

It seems to me, sp, that the first thing you need to do is sit down and spend some time with God. Ask God to enter your heart and help you love this other woman, and go to your meeting with her with love in your heart, not revenge.


Perhaps if I'm constantly seen to do the right thing, people will begin to recognise my character, and the characters of everyone else involved.


Or maybe not. But is the recognition that comes with others the main reason why you do the right thing? Or do you do the right thing to be right with God?

(Here endeth the sermon...)

scarletpeaches
04-02-2006, 09:56 PM
You've given me a lot to think about.

At the end of the day, what others think of you is important, but, as you say, not as important as the opinion of God - if you believe in him, of course.
However, my situation shows how easy it is to ruin someone else's reputation. I don't think I would mind so much if people were gossiping about something I had done!

Matt 18 - that was the verse I was thinking of. However, once I've done all I can (as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable toward all men...sorry, can't remember the chapter & verse) I have to learn to say, "Okay, done my bit. Have to leave it there for the sake of my own peace of mind."

However, I would add - as regards turning the other cheek; I would agree that that applies here up to a point. This girl is lying, and if I did nothing I would be effectively condoning her lies. All I can do is say to the relevant people, hang on, this is not true...Then I'll have done my bit. I sometimes think turning the other cheek applies to situations that are a matter of personal opinion. In this instance, it's a case of lying, which, if you have Christian beliefs, is more than a bad thing to do - it's a sin, as the Pet Shop Boys once said.

Legal action...if it comes to that, so be it. I hope it doesn't. I don't want to go down that road. Jesus was righteously indignant. Perhaps next time I see them all, I should go armed with a whip of ropes...

Joke.

Or was it?! :D:tongue

Jcomp
04-02-2006, 09:59 PM
"church folk" can be bad news sometimes. Sorry to hear about your situation.

Puddle Jumper
04-02-2006, 10:04 PM
It's a hard situation; I just keep telling myself, "Just because she's acting like this, doesn't mean I can act in the same way."

As has already been said, dignity is very important here.
That's the best thought to have in a time like this. It's so easy when we feel attacked to lash out in a similar or worse manner than our attackers. Which is exactly what they want so they can then say to those they've been talking bad about you to, "See, I told you that they were like that." It's a lot harder too when they gang up on you because it's like a cat being cornered by a bunch of dogs, we're more likely to start flailing our claws about just to get out of that corner and then our reputation is ruined from our actions or words.

So that would be my encouragement for you. Try to keep your head through it all, be patient and if you feel cornered, try not to lash out.

I do think there comes a point when we realize no one will listen to us, everyone has turned against us, and it's simply time to move on. If people are that quick to judge you based on what another person says about you and refuses to listen to you because their view of you has been tainted by what another or others have said about you, it's probably time to kick the dust off your feet and move on. I hope it doesn't come to that for you though and that you can work things out with these people and that they will treat you fairly, which from what you said it doesn't sound like they are.

Perks
04-02-2006, 10:09 PM
At the end of the day, what others think of you is important, but, as you say, not as important as the opinion of God - if you believe in him, of course.
However, my situation shows how easy it is to ruin someone else's reputation. I don't think I would mind so much if people were gossiping about something I had done!

Is there any reason to think they'll actually believe her? Has anyone reacted in a way that makes you think they do? She may be as transparent to most as she is to you.

scarletpeaches
04-02-2006, 10:14 PM
The funny thing is, as expected, my friends know it's a pack of lies.

Those who are, shall we say, 'refraining from telling her to stop' - they must also know she is lying. The reason I say this is, if they believed her, surely they would be banging on my door to tell me to stop fooling round with a married man?

Call me paranoid, but I reckon it's a case of 'the devil looks after his own' and they're protecting their own friends.

This gives an incredibly bad impression of my religion, which is not my intention; I was just letting off steam, and I just hope realise this is just one bad apple. You only ever hear about the baddies, though. No-one starts threads praising their friends rather than dissing their 'enemies'. It's something to think about...;):D

Greenwolf103
04-02-2006, 10:26 PM
sp, I am so sorry to hear of your predicament. I can understand where you are coming from. I know what it's like to be around people who gossip and act as backstabbers. It's situations like these that make you know who your friends REALLY are. Your real friends would not so easily be swayed by this gossip.

Everyone here has given you wonderful advice and I agree with Ruth that taking the legal road would do more harm than good. You just have to ask yourself: Is this misery worth all the trouble of a lawsuit?

I also agree that you should spend time with God meditating over this matter. Pray for guidance but most of all, for peace in your heart. Something like this can easily stir up anger, resentment and a desire for revenge. Acting on these emotions won't help your situation. Sometimes, how you react to a situation like this speaks volumes of the kind of person you really are.

I know this is a painful situation but please try to resolve this matter as delicately as possible. I agree that it speaks ill of a congregation that would actually believe gossip and rumors. You have tried to clear your name as any good Christian would do. But remember to keep trying to resolve this as a "good Christian" and not someone who is scorned. Nurse your wounds, seek comfort and understanding from your REAL friends and find it in your heart the temerity to resolve this.

Chances are this woman won't give up so easily; she may even use your meeting with her as fuel for more gossip (turning around things you say, reading between the lines, acting one way on a subject then twisting it around for her own gossiping). Be wary in what you say to her. Recording the conversation is good advice. Stay true to your character as a Christian and keep your meeting with her civil, nothing more.

In the end, like others have said, the story will become old news. People will lose interest in her gossip. Hopefully, God willing, they will actually learn that she was WRONG! And they will see that you aren't this person after all, nor were the others involved. Continue to live as you do, stay true to your faith and treat others with kindness.

It's a sad, sad world where everybody believes gossip. Even sadder is when the victim of this gossip goes through so much misery trying to clear their name.

Be strong and God bless. :Hug2:

Puddle Jumper
04-02-2006, 10:27 PM
This gives an incredibly bad impression of my religion, which is not my intention; I was just letting off steam, and I just hope realise this is just one bad apple. You only ever hear about the baddies, though. No-one starts threads praising their friends rather than dissing their 'enemies'. It's something to think about...;):D
I'm a Christian and I totally understand. I've stopped going to church for long periods of times because of the people at church. It's so easy to become disillusioned that they are representing God. And if I believed that God was like them, I wouldn't still be a Christian. Think of it as the Good Sheppard leading you through a dark valley to strengthen you and for you to grow closer to Him. After all, trials come to test our faith. :)

kikazaru
04-02-2006, 10:29 PM
Imo you should not threaten the elders of your church. If you do they will react as most people do when threatened, they will lash out at you, and no matter if you are right in this instance, they will take the other woman s side because they are angry - and YOU will seem to be the trouble maker, not the other woman.

I do not for one moment think that what this woman has done is right, but sometimes you must step back and look at the situation and decide if the action you take is worth the consequences.While I understand the need for wanting to halt the gossip and to take action against this woman, from where I sit, the consequences of taking it too far (threatening the elders), may result in you not being welcome at your own church. This seems to me to be worse than just ignoring this rumour spreading she-dog.

What people think and what they do is beyond your control, you can only control your actions and your reactions. Imo, make sure that what ever you do, does not make the situation worse.

Perks
04-02-2006, 10:29 PM
This gives an incredibly bad impression of my religion

No it doesn't. It gives a bad impression about a select number of people you are aquainted with - big difference.

scarletpeaches
04-02-2006, 10:35 PM
I'm off home now (using the interweb at my dad's house) but before I go, I wanted to thank everyone for their good wishes, expressions of solidarity and good advice.

In my heart of hearts, I know you can't change or influence other people; you're only responsible for your own actions, and a lot of the time it comes to throwing your hands up and walking away.

Once again, thanks to all who replied. :D

Lantern Jack
04-02-2006, 11:28 PM
Legal action seems a little extreme. But, if you want, I'll enlist a couple of Dementors to go round to her flat and give her a little...kiss:e2thud: