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Dane Ortlund Whistleblower Speaks Out on Workplace Bullying

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Dane Ortlund Whistleblower Speaks Out on Workplace Bullying
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What do you do when you’re being bullied by your Christian employer? Do you take it and simply turn the other cheek? Or, do you confront it, hoping for repentance and justice?

Unfortunately, workplace bullying has become a major issue—not just in secular contexts, but in the church. In this podcast, Julie explores this issue with the whistleblower who exposed Dane Ortlund, Emily Hyland, and anti-bullying expert, Paul Coughlin.

Ortlund is a Chicago-area pastor and author of the best-selling book, Gentle and Lowly. But, according to Emily, he’s not very gentle or lowly; he’s a bully—and a misogynist. And she says, when she complained about Ortlund’s behavior to the elders of Naperville Presbyterian Church, where Emily worked, they fired her.

Since then, Emily has filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, claiming retaliation. Last December, the Department of Human Rights ruled in Emily’s favor and found “substantial evidence” of retaliation by Dane and Naperville Presbyterian.
In this podcast, Emily tells her story and updates us on her case. She also shares insights about responding to bullying she gained from her firsthand experience.

Anti-bullying expert Paul Coughlin also contributes to the podcast, sharing advice he’s gained over decades of dealing with bullies. Paul met Emily at last year’s Restore Conference. And Paul has been a source of support and wisdom for Emily throughout her whistleblowing process.

If you’ve ever had to deal with a bully—or are dealing with one now—you’ll find this podcast invaluable. 

Guests

Emily Hyland

Emily Hyland earned her bachelors in Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology before working for the Office of Naval Research in Washington, DC. While there she received a MHSA in Management & Leadership from The George Washington University. She has worked with the US Army and the Office of the Surgeon General, Accenture, GE, and across finance, manufacturing, health services, and information technology. Recently, she was the Director of Operations at Naperville Presbyterian Church in suburban Illinois. She is married and has three children. 

Paul Coughlin

Paul Coughlin is an author, an international speaker and the founder and president of The Protectors, which is dedicated to helping schools, organizations and communities combat bullying. His books include No More Christian Nice Guy, Raising Bully-Proof Kids and 5 Secrets Great Dads Know. Paul and his wife, Sandy, reside in central Oregon and have three teenage children. Learn more about Paul and his organization at www.theprotectors.org.
Show Transcript

SPEAKERS
JULIE ROYS, EMILY HYLAND, PAUL COUGHLIN

JULIE ROYS 00:04
What do you do when you’re being bullied by your Christian employer? Do you take it and simply turn the other cheek? Or do you confront it, hoping for repentance and justice? Welcome to the Roys report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys and joining me on this episode are Emily Hyland and Paul Coughlin. As you may remember, Emily is the whistleblower who filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights concerning a well-known Chicago area pastor, Dane Ortlund. Ortlund is the author of the best-selling book, Gentle and Lowly. But according to Emily, he’s not very gentle or lowly. He’s a bully and a misogynist. And she says when she complained about Ortlund’s behavior to the elders of Naperville Presbyterian Church, where Ortlund pastors, they fired her. But last December, the Department of Human Rights ruled in Emily’s favor. It found substantial evidence of retaliation by Dane and Naperville Presbyterian Church in Emily’s firing. And now that case is going to trial. Plus, there have been some additional charges added to that case. So, stay tuned, and you’ll hear all about that.

But also joining me on this podcast is Paul Coughlin. Paul is an expert on bullying and a repeat guest here on The Roys Report. He also was a speaker at last year’s Restore conference. And I know from talking to Emily that she took pages of notes from Paul’s talk, which was super eye opening. And it’s out of that relationship and collaboration between Paul and Emily, that started at Restore, that this podcast was envisioned. I know many of you have experienced bullying in a Christian workplace. I get emails about this all the time. It’s bad enough to be bullied in any workplace. But when it happens at a church or an organization that’s supposed to be Christian, it’s especially painful. So, I’m really looking forward to our podcast today.

But before we dive in, I want to thank our sponsors, Judson University, and Marquardt of Barrington if you’re looking for a top ranked Christian University, providing a caring community and an excellent college experience, Judson University is for you. Judson is located on 90 acres just 40 miles west of Chicago in Elgin, Illinois. The school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Plus, you can take classes online as well as in person. Judson University is shaping lives that shaped the world. For more information, just go to JUDSONU.EDU. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity, and transparency. That’s because the owners there Dan and Kurt Marquardt, are men of integrity. To check them out, just go to BUYACAR123.com.

Well, again, joining me is the whistleblower in the Dane Ortlund discrimination and retaliation case, Emily Hyland. Emily was the Operations Director at Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Illinois. But in March 2021, just nine days after complaining of discrimination and bullying to church elders, Emily was abruptly fired. And she has two cases pending right now, one before the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and another with the Illinois Department of Labor. So, Emily, welcome. I’m so glad you could join us.

EMILY HYLAND 03:30
Thank you, Julie. And thank you for your continued support and drawing attention to these important issues that men and women face when they’re in a church and employed by one.

JULIE ROYS 03:40
Well, it’s my pleasure to do so. And again, also joining us is Paul Coughlin, founder of the anti-bullying group, The Protectors. He’s also the author of a number of best-selling books, including No More Christian Nice Guy and Raising Bullyproof Kids. He’s also worked with the Baltimore Ravens and is an expert witness. So, Paul, welcome back. It’s just so great to be with you again.

PAUL COUGHLIN 04:02
Great to be back. It’s always wonderful. And Emily, good to hear your voice.

JULIE ROYS 04:07
Well, it’s so cool that the both of you actually met at the Restore conference. And I know that was before any of this became public. It’s before the Illinois Department of Human Rights found substantial evidence of retaliation by the church and Dane Ortlund. But Paul, let me just start with you and ask when you first met Emily, what was your impression of her case and just what she had been through?

PAUL COUGHLIN 04:33
Well, you know, you hear a lot of the same things when it comes to people who have been abused either adolescent bullying but then also bullying in the workplace, particularly faith centric areas. And honestly, what you often hear is a good amount of confusion at first. Many times, people who have this confusion going in their minds, they often may take it out on themselves as opposed to really seeing it more clearly, and in seeing it more clearly, it’s not the fault of the target. It is the fault of the bully, and in many cases, the serial bully.

JULIE ROYS 05:09
I hear a lot of these stories. And it’s usually Wow, this is so awful. But I’m not expecting justice with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. You hardly ever get a ruling in your favor. Were you surprised when you heard that she had gotten this ruling?

PAUL COUGHLIN 05:24
Very much so. I mean, Emily had a substantial case, substantial amount of evidence. And you know that evidence comes from people who, you know, obviously are willing to talk. Do you know how many people are not willing to talk? They know the score, but for a few fundamental reasons, they remain quiet, probably because they’re worried that they’ll be next. So, we have a substantial case, where chances are few people really spoke up.

JULIE ROYS 05:50
And again, that case is pending. And towards the end of this podcast, Emily, I’m going to have you update us on the latest developments, because there are some really important ones there. But let’s back up to your story, and what happened to you, Emily, for those who haven’t read the news reports. I mean, it came out in December, even if you did read the report, you might be a little bit rusty on what happened. Would you give us the cliff notes of what happened to you, that led you to file this claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights?

EMILY HYLAND 06:21
Well, in some ways, it starts back before 2020 to my time at the church. I had been there since 2006, and Dane joined in 2007. So, for over a decade, we existed as two members of the same church, running into each other, same classes, same age kids. And so, when the former senior pastor left, a search committee was put together, Dane was on it. Two years go by and no senior pastor candidate. Well, then it’s announced, Dane is going to be the senior pastor candidate. And by that time, I was on staff and the director of operations. And I was surprised because he hadn’t been a pastor before. And I knew that the requirements for the job had been five years of pastoring experience. But I was since I knew him, I mean, he wasn’t a stranger. I had no inclinations that this was something that was going to be so catastrophic.

But when he started, things just weren’t right. And they continued to get more wrong as the months went on. And as I started really telling myself, this isn’t what you think, it’s not right. I mean, maybe you’re off, maybe you’re just being a little petty. I had this mindset that was getting progressively more confused. And I was just talking circles to myself. And then finally, I happen to read in that February of 2021, when the Ravi Zacharias report came out. And in addition to obviously, the terrible accounts of sexual predation was the organizational aspect and how staff who raised questions who were having legitimate concerns, they weren’t buying some of the early propaganda that was being put out, that those staff were being bullied. And I read those reports, and I looked at this, and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, that is what is going on here. And I was shocked, because I finally had words and labels to what I was feeling, what I was experiencing.

And so, I take the next maybe month, I read up a little bit more about the differences between bullying, harassment, rudeness, inconsiderateness, to really make sure that I’m linguistically precise in this matter. And it comes to a head when I call up two of the elders, and I tell them privately, I think I’m being bullied. I think it’s because I’m a woman. I myself had a hard time getting those words out, because I didn’t want to be bullied. And I didn’t want it to be because of my gender. So, the two elders sat on this for a little bit, because Dane was out of town. And when they brought it to Dane, that next Monday, it started the floor falling out of everything, where it was very swiftly after that, then maybe 12 hours, that I was going to be fired. And it took a few days. And in the meantime, I didn’t know what was happening. I just knew that this couldn’t continue. This was not the right behavior. I wanted the elders to help me navigate this and to be safe in it. But that’s not at all what happened. That at the end of the week, Dane fired me, and they had no elder walk me out the door. And then I was done. They follow that up by Dane telling the staff that I had been fired for cause and to not reach out to me.

JULIE ROYS 09:53
In a day. Right. You lost your church of how many years?

EMILY HYLAND 09:58
I had been there almost 15 years by that point.

JULIE ROYS 10:02
You lost your job. You lost your church family. And you were ostracized at this point. People weren’t even talking to you, correct?

EMILY HYLAND 10:12
Oh, right. Yeah, it was full on disfellowshipping. I mean, I didn’t know what that word was until somebody told me I was like, Ooh, yeah, that is exactly what it is. I had people who wouldn’t even look at me in public. These were people I had served with for 15 years. And I didn’t believe it could happen. I still I mean, my husband still cannot process that element of it, which is that he cannot believe that people who I’ve been with for that long would turn because I didn’t do anything to them. I didn’t even say anything publicly about Dane. I mean, this was two conversations with elders. And now people won’t speak to me. And that really continues now.

JULIE ROYS 10:50
Really, to this day? Yeah. And I want you to comment on this, Paul. But first, I’d like to read a statement by Dave Veerman, who was an elder at the time. So, he participated in the firing. A few months after it happened, clearly had a change of heart, and he resigned himself. And his statement really played a pivotal role in the Illinois Department of Human Rights in their ruling. So, I’d like to read it. I can’t read the whole thing just because of the length. But some portions I think would be really instructive as to what happened and even corroborating what you’re saying. So, this is what he writes. The 2021 version of the Personnel Committee met a couple of times via zoom to discuss a few relatively minor issues. Then we got word that Dane wanted to have us deal with a serious issue with a staff member. At this Zoom meeting on March 16, he said he wanted to let Emily go and made vague references about her performance and relationships with other staff. He also said that he had met with her a couple of times, so we thought she had a pretty good idea of where this was heading. Let me just pause there. Did you have any idea you were going to be fired?

EMILY HYLAND 10:51
None. It was so shocking. And this was two days before Palm Sunday. I mean, it is going into the biggest week of the Church year, and to just be like, Oh, we don’t need a director of operations. And we certainly don’t need her to do any turnover. We don’t need her to give us any of the information that she has been using in her job for eight years. I was completely surprised.

JULIE ROYS 12:18
Well, and apparently Dave shared your sentiments there. He writes, this news was a shock to us because we had always been impressed with Emily and what she had done for the church. In addition, we had just had a session meeting on March 15, in which nothing had been said about her and her performance. Dane also said that Emily had gone to two elders that she felt close to, and thought would listen empathically and give wise counsel. Later, I learned that she had shared how she had been mistreated recently by Dane and was asking advice on how she should respond. And then I’m gonna skip through some of it and read. He describes that he had several meetings, then with elders and different people. Then he writes, even though I didn’t know Emily’s side of the story, I voted to move ahead with Dane’s recommendation. Our next step was to inform the other elders. So, the three of us each took a few men to call. Then Dane set up a meeting with Emily for Friday, March 19, to inform her and he asked me to be there. At that brief meeting at 1pm, Dane fired Emily saying it was, quote, the will of the session. Unsurprisingly, Emily was quite upset, although trying to maintain her composure. I tried to just listen and not say much. She started reading the agreement. Apparently was there an NDA that they had given you?

EMILY HYLAND 13:32
Yeah. On top of the details regarding severance.

JULIE ROYS 13:35
Is there anything remarkable about that, or pretty standard?

13:39
I think that it was passed off as something that oh, this is just how we do things. We don’t really know what’s in here. But I read contracts very thoroughly and to be like, Wow, no NDA, no severance. That was how it was written, is that if I did not sign away, my legal rights, agree to confidentiality and agree to a non-disparagement, I mean, never saying anything negative about the pastors, the officers, the church or how I was treated. That was the only way I was gonna get any severance. And that’s how it was written. There was no mention of why I was terminated. It wasn’t for cause that was it.

JULIE ROYS 14:15
I wish I could say that that was remarkable in some way. I’ve learned that’s very unremarkable that’s very similar to what I got from the Moody Bible Institute when I was fired. And so many people that I’ve talked to are getting NDAs now, and I’m glad that this issue is coming to the fore. That people are realizing that churches now are giving NDAs, that Christian organizations are giving them and they’re about as carnal a document as there is and it is there to protect the institution; has nothing and no care and concern for the employee. As a sister in Christ or a part of the church, but I digress on my editorial comment on that one. But NDAs are just I just think they’re evil.

He continues to write, Emily brought up her recollection of being bullied and strongly pushed back on the decision because of the current cultural attitudes toward misogyny. Skipping ahead. Later, I learned that at 3:30pm, a staff meeting was held to announce Emily’s termination. Dane said 1) Emily was fired for cause, 2) the decision was the will of the session, a session being in a Presbyterian Church sort of the equivalent of the elder board, and 3) staff should not contact her. I need to say that because of Dane’s actions, a few months later, I resigned as an elder and my wife and I left the church. Not to go into many details, but at that time I heard Dane give many of the same rationalizations and explanations for his attitudes and actions in this precipitating conflict. It made me rethink my decision regarding Emily, that I had made a mistake. My agreeing to terminate Emily’s employment was based almost entirely on believing the word of Dane, my pastor. I realized now that I should have looked deeper, ask more questions, and met with Emily to get her side of the story. And again, that’s Dave Veerman, a former elder there at Naperville Presbyterian church. Paul, as you listen to this letter, I could see on your face, yes, we’re on Zoom, by the way, folks, but I could tell that you’re resonating with some things in there. But what stood out to you, as you heard that letter?

PAUL COUGHLIN 16:22
That elder is a rare person, sadly. I mean, that’s a rare person who’s going to stick their neck out like that. But those are the people who really keep integrity on the table. So, if I had a hat on, I would take it off to that gentleman. You know, there’s a lot of things that Emily has talked about. And we spoke earlier about the pattern of behavior, right, that people undergo. And when you recognize that pattern, you begin to realize you’re not crazy. And one of the things that is so painful for targets is betrayal. You could hear it in Emily’s voice. And she talked about it; people not talking to her, been at the same church for something like 15 years and people don’t talk to you. The emotional impact of bullying in the workplace itself is swampy for many people. And then you have this being ostracized. And one thing I’d like to point out for any workplace, but especially faith centric workplaces, is that you’re going to expect people to live by a certain level of integrity. And sadly, for whatever reason, it seems to be baked into the system, betrayal is coming. I’m reminded, and I’ve experienced that we’ve all licked our wounds when it comes to this behavior. I’m reminded of that wonderful movie Braveheart, where William Wallace was in.

JULIE ROYS 17:45
One of my favorites, by the way.

PAUL COUGHLIN 17:46
I’m not surprised. He’s betrayed by his best friend. And because of that, his heart is completely taken out of the battle, he doesn’t care anymore. That is what will happen to us. And so, what I would like to say to our listeners right now is that don’t be surprised by the betrayal. For some reason, it is baked into the system, in most cases, most of the time. I’m reminded by that quote from Martin Luther King, who said, in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. It’s just how it goes down. It’s par for the course. But I would also want to say to the people listening now who could be that support structure around others, please keep that in mind. You can play a profound role, not just in bringing fairness into the workplace and with integrity, but also in the psychological and spiritual bolstering of another person, you’re that important.

JULIE ROYS 18:49
And I’ve heard that repeatedly from people who have been victims of spiritual abuse, church abuse, retaliation, bullying. That they can handle that there’s one bad apple. Like, they can handle that there’s a bully pastor out there, right? They can deal with that. What they can’t deal with, is that everybody got in line with that guy. Everybody stood there silently, while they were excoriated for false charges against them, whatever, and that the average person stood by and did nothing. And that’s been my experience. I know, I just had a birthday recently. I don’t even know if I should say this. But, you know, you get these greetings from folks that you’re like, wait, you haven’t talked to me since the day I was fired! In fact, you wouldn’t take my phone calls. But okay. Thanks for the Happy Birthday. Appreciate that. I mean, it’s one of those things that’s just absolutely stunning. And this is why I think spiritual abuse and church hurt is far worse and more fundamental than other kinds of abuse. And I’m not meaning to minimize certainly all of them are horrible, horrible. But there’s something about this that just goes to the core of your belief system of who you think people are. And if we don’t separate out, God’s people from God Himself, can really mess up and distort our image of who God is. And I think there’s so many people deconstructing today, whatever you want to call it, are just trying to come to grips with what is it that was true that I believed and what was just the stuff that I accepted with it that really wasn’t? And I know there’s people listening who are there, I’ve been there, right? I’m still there to some degree, you know.

PAUL COUGHLIN 20:39
And Julie, could I add to that our Lord was bullied before He was crucified. Our Lord knows exactly what it’s like to experience betrayal, false accusations, to put up with the arrogance and the hubris of other people. And he can empathize with our weaknesses, he knows exactly what it was like, because the crucifixion included many of the same components of workplace bullying. So he is on our side, he knows exactly how we feel, and he is there for us.

EMILY HYLAND 21:11
I thought about that over the last few years, when you take communion, and it starts with on the night he was betrayed. You can just stop right there and say, Jesus knows what it’s like to be betrayed, and forsaken by everyone who you thought was for you and with you. I mean, to identify in that aspect of religious community is a thread of hope you can have because Jesus knows betrayal.

JULIE ROYS 21:39
I’m so glad that you both brought that up. Because I think the ability to identify with Christ in his sufferings, if you’ve been through something like this, is much greater. And yet, as I’ve experienced it, the eye opening thing hasn’t so much been that I get to suffer with him. But it makes me so much more aware of how hideous the suffering that Jesus endured. Just having tasted a small amount of what he went through, has given me just such a greater appreciation for the suffering of Christ by being able to enter into it again, in a very small way, comparatively.

PAUL COUGHLIN 22:21
Julie, one thing I tried to point out for people who you’ve talked about, like deconstructing faith, and all three of us have gone through its process right. In my mind, one thing that I have tried to do to try to keep things clear is the difference between churchianity and Christianity. And I think when we see this suffering of Christ, of such great unfairness, I see that in the category of true Christianity, that’s what it’s about. What we are experiencing in faith centric organizations is what I would call churchianity. And I believe that there’s obviously overlap between the two. But also, there’s great distinctions. I think that’s very helpful for people who have been abused so that they can start thinking of it in terms like that, because it helps them hopefully not throw the baby out with the bathwater, where it’s all bad, and it’s all wrong. Rather, it helps to put it in context.

JULIE ROYS 22:22
Well, much of what we’re going to be talking about in this podcast is really looking back and thinking, what I wish I had known then that I know now, because it is a learning process. And man, can it be a rude awakening, but an important one. It’s like the matrix as the red pill or the blue pill, right? You know, those of us who have taken I don’t know, is it the red pill that opens your eyes? But yeah, if you take that pill, there’s no undoing it, and you see it.

Let me just start with you, Emily, I know one of the things that you said, if you were to do this over again, is you would stop talking to yourself and start listening to yourself. What do you mean by that?

EMILY HYLAND 23:55
Well, as I said earlier, I think I was talking myself in circles, and something would happen, and I would disconnect from my intuition. It felt wrong, but I told myself, nah, and I downplayed the harm that was coming, which I know now, like, that’s not mercy. Mercy is an intentional weighing of the harm that you receive, and a decision to forgive it. To just dismiss harm, and to downplay it and pretend like that wasn’t harm, that’s actually not mercy. I think that, particularly to Christian circles, we think of the Spirit speaking through our intuition. For instance, if I had an intuition to go and talk to a neighbor, and invite them to a church choir service, we would say that that’s the you know, Spirit leading you. But it doesn’t work in the other way. Like if you have this intuition that, you know, I think something’s wrong here. I think my pastor isn’t behaving as a pastor should, that your mind does not really like that absolutely could be the Spirit speaking on your attentions, you’re trying to tell it this Be quiet, and to stop talking. And so, I think I was trying to rationalize away a pattern of events. And now, if I could go back, I would have told myself Stop, listen to how you’re feeling, and especially your sympathetic system. I mean, that is there by God’s design. And when we feel fear, when we feel out of control, when we feel afraid, or wanting to run away, or pressured, and those hormones start making you feel stressed and anxious, that’s not nothing. That’s your body responding to something that is really happening.

And that I should have been listening much more carefully to that, instead of just telling myself in my higher brain, oh, don’t bother with that. It was like, No, this is merely myself trying to protect myself. And I discounted it for a very long time. Until one day, like I said, I just happened to read a description of what workplace bullying in Christian ministry looked like. And it was like my intuition just got plugged in all at once. And it was like, Whoa, now, what followed was my intuition bracket was perfect. I mean, it was remarkable how, yeah, I was right on this stuff. I was accurate. And I didn’t really want to be, I didn’t want to be bullied, and I didn’t want to work for a bullying pastor. None of that was by design. But identifying those behaviors, identifying what was going on behind the scenes, was when that intuition reconnected. And I think that if I could have gone back, I would have listened to my intuition, and realized, yes, that is the spirit, it’s saying some hard stuff that I didn’t want to hear. But that silencing it was to my own detriment.

JULIE ROYS 26:53
And let’s also acknowledge that in a lot of these churches, we’re hearing consistent message often of listen to the authorities in your church, be submissive to the authorities in your church and their leadership. Don’t gossip, the meddling, we’re hearing those constantly. And so, it’s a cognitive dissonance that you’re dealing with. And I remember we did a surprise birthday party for my husband once. And there were numerous times that he should have figured out what was going on. And he just didn’t like, and afterwards, we asked him because he was so surprised. Like, how did you not get that? And he’s like, I don’t know. It’s just like this cognitive dissonance and you throw out things that don’t fit the narrative. And you just, it’s funny how we do that. One of the best books out there, and it’s funny that you’ve even said it several times. And when you’re talking about this, is it something’s not right. And I think Wade Mullins book, Something’s Not Right, is just so so good in helping you put your finger on that. So, if you’ve never read this book, you have to read Something’s Not Right. It’s just so good. Or listen to Wade’s talk at the Restore conference, where he talks about some of these things. They’re all available at our YouTube channel, you can see that. And by the way, Paul, your talk on bullying is available on video on our YouTube channel. It’s also available as a podcast, I think June 23, I think of last year is when we published that. So, you can go back and listen to Paul’s whole talk on bullying, which is I know mind blowing for so so many people. Paul, as you hear what Emily just said about trusting that intuition, what comes to mind for you?

PAUL COUGHLIN 28:31
A number of things. One thing that would have really helped Emily and so many other people is if she had at least one person standing by her side. She talked about almost like talking to herself and the cycle. We all get into that. And what really helps if we have a person, ideally, a person who is wise, but also more than wisdom, courageous. If we have someone to confide in, they can talk us out of those circular thinking, tends to spiral down, not up usually. And in that wisdom that they give us, we can find the seeds of courage as well because when we get clarity, we have a much stronger ability to move forward, hopefully in an intelligent way with both truth and grace and love.

So, there are people out there who need us desperately in that situation. And I’d like to point out a distinction statistically between men and women when bullied in the workplace. Statistically, men tend to get angry and leave. Women tend to medicate and stay. And unfortunately, and to hear that the protectors what we do is we often advise find another job because it can be so damaging to the person’s spirit to their soul when they undergo this work. And statistically it can be harder on women. That damage can go deeper and last longer. In fact, many of the characteristics of PTSD are the same that happens in the workplace, then people returning from war, it can be that bad. So, it’s an important distinction to keep in mind. You know what I think what happened was Emily, is they picked on the wrong person, and I’ve told Emily this; is that chances are the people in her former workplace, the main pastor particularly, in my opinion, has probably been doing this for a long time, has probably been targeting people specific people and getting his way. And what happened is he probably targeted the wrong person; a person of a lot of backbone. You can tell Emily’s very sharp, but sharpness alone won’t do it. Functioning degree of courage is often necessary in order to defend yourself. And we have a wonderful success story now, I think because of Emily’s character of who she is.

JULIE ROYS 31:04
Well, this concludes part one of my podcast with Paul and Emily on bullying in a Christian workplace. In part two, you’ll hear Emily describe more of what she wishes she knew back when she was being bullied that she knows now. And you’ll hear more expert advice from Paul Coughlin, on how to deal with bullies. And also, why you may have become a target.

PAUL COUGHLIN 31:25
Bullies in the workplace, particularly within the church, they use our niceness against us. It’s one of the reasons why we’re targeted. We don’t use the word victim at the protectors very often, we prefer the word target. And here’s why. You have been selected, the bully in the workplace, the bully pastor has picked on some people but not other people. Why is that? Because a bully is not looking for a fight, they want to overwhelm another person. So, they look for the nice person, they look for the person, for example, who lives by turning the other cheek.

JULIE ROYS 31:57
Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or Spotify. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you were blessed and encouraged. Well, again, that’s Paul Coughlin. And we’ll be releasing part two of this podcast in just a few days. So, you want to be watching for that. Also, if you’re a survivor of church hurt or abuse, or you’re a Christian leader who just wants to learn more about how to protect against abuse and help survivors, I want to invite you to join me at our upcoming Restore conference. This two-day event, October 13 and 14 at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois, is a very special time of healing and equipping. Joining me will be author Wade Molen, whose book we referenced in this podcast, along with Lori Anne Thompson, Sheila Ray Gregoire, Mary Demuth, and more. For more information, go to RESTORE2023.COM.

Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or Spotify. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you were blessed and encouraged.

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8 Responses

  1. Powerful podcast with more to follow. Lots of saints have been bullied in church. But it’s in an institution not any church that Jesus is building. There is no institution in the Bible.

  2. I’d definitely question “author of best-selling book,”
    I mean that book was sent free to nearly any church that wanted it – I had multiple friends from other churches ask me if I had read it and wanted a copy (I already had 10 for our small group!)

    Somebody wanted another Ortlund to carry water – even more obvious with Emily’s story!

  3. Very interesting and insightful, thank you. Thank you Emily for your courage in making a stand I pray that you will get justice. There’s an issue here about how churches and Christian organisations needing to look to our Lord Jesus Christ’s example of servant leadership, not the world’s pattern where the leader is served and glorified. Also – and I’m aware not all will agree – ministries being passed on from father to son to grandson. Yes, I’m aware that God can and does bless it, but…

    1. Alex, I think you’ve been conditioned to believe that thing about “the world’s pattern”. It’s simply not true.

      In organizations I’ve been involved with and have observed (all in the ‘evil worldly world’), neither the leader nor anyone else served or glorified the one at the top. In the interest of running a successful organization, what was honest, right, and true was the driving motivator. The leader “ate last”.

      It’s simply grossly unfair and elitist (& non-thinking) to paint everyone and everything outside ‘the church’ and christian culture as inferior. You do exactly that castigating them as “the world”.

  4. “…Dane telling the staff that I had been fired for cause and to not reach out to me.”
    +++++++++++

    so, Dane Ortlund lied,

    covered his tracks by manipulating people

    to not inquire further

    silencing everyone

    and to work together to destroy Emily by destroying her community relationships

    And he did this so easily. In just a matter of hours. With zero conscience, except what was good for him. No regard for the lives he was destroying.

    i’ll never stop being astonished that this is what christianity has become. Because christians have allowed it.

    A cult, where people let ruthless so-called ‘leaders’ decide everything for them, no longer thinking for themselves.

  5. I can identify with so much in this story – the deception, the secrecy, the shunning, the confusion, and trying to wrap your head around the fact that these are people you really love and trust doing this. It’s been a long two years but in these past several weeks, it’s all clicked and I am not just healing but we’ll on my way to whole. Ironically, it took the death of Jimmy Buffett to bring clarity and closure for me. Was he saved? I don’t know but he loved, really loved people and he invited everyone to be part of the experience. Would that we went to the highways and bi-ways and includes and invited people to the table this way. It took as long as it took to get here because it was so surreal. I’m not wasting one more second on the absurdity of the story. I’m gonna love like Jesus and Jimmy. Even if I’m alone doing it. (I’m not. God gave us a great church to get to)

    1. “…the deception, the secrecy, the shunning”, the confusion,

      “…but he loved, really loved people and he invited everyone to be part of the experience”
      ++++++++++++++++++++++++

      it’s the greatest shock of my life — how the powerbrokers in my religion have amazingly quilted together theology and doctrine that functions unethically & destructively for the purpose of protecting (1) the male ego; (2) the church institution & the careers of the men at the top.

      theology and doctrine that promotes conduct that is deceptive, dishonest, justifies telling lies, secrecy (of things too unethical not to keep hidden), and cruel destroying the lives of others.

      it all comes down the lense with which one reads scripture. how ironic that the preferred lense is the one that protects power at the top and destroys those at the bottom.

      considering these same people claim Jesus as their ‘Lord’. (really, they’ve made him a mascot, like mickey mouse – just with lost of righteous conviction)

  6. What was most telling for me as I listened to “the beginning of the suffering” was that Dane had zero senior pastor experience. Big red flag for the the Naperville Presbyterian Church. I was a pastor in a neighboring suburb for many years and had much respect for the church, this despite the fact that one week, I dropped in when I did not have preaching responsibilities at my own church, only to be there when another senior pastor resigned! He too was later caught in a scandal. Pastors need pastors. They need to be accountable. Bullying “subordinates” is never okay. All of us make mistakes. Lord knows I have made numerous mistakes in firing or letting staff members go. But this behavior is totally beyond the bounds.

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