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Dane Ortlund Whistleblower Speaks Out on Workplace Bullying, Part 2

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Dane Ortlund Whistleblower Speaks Out on Workplace Bullying, Part 2
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Part 2 of our eye-opening podcast on bullying, featuring the woman who blew the whistle on author and pastor, Dane Ortlund, is out! If you missed part one, you can find it here.

In this podcast, Ortlund whistleblower, Emily Hyland, describes what she wishes she knew when she was being bullied that she knows now. And anti-bullying expert, Paul Coughlin, offers keen insights from his decades of experience, as well. 

Coughlin, author of the best-selling, No More Christian Nice-Guy, and founder of The Protectors, reveals how bullies identify their targets. He also gives steps every person can take to stand up to them. 

Meanwhile, Hyland explains how to educate yourself on bullies, but warns against trying to become an expert before taking action. She also shares important developments in her case against Ortlund, author of Gentle and Lowly.

For anyone who has experienced bullying, or wants accountability for a bully, don’t miss this podcast. You may even want to take notes!

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

JULIE ROYS, PAUL COUGHLIN, EMILY HYLAND

JULIE ROYS 00:03
How do you deal with bullying by a pastor or Christian employer? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And this is part two of a two-part podcast with bullying expert Paul Coughlin and whistleblower Emily Hyland. If you missed part one, I’d encourage you to go back now and listen to that. It was a fascinating discussion in which Emily gave new details about the alleged bullying and retaliation she received at the hands of Dane Ortlund. Dane is the pastor of Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Illinois. He’s also the author of the bestselling book, Gentle and Lonely. But according to Emily, Dane is a bully. In Emily’s case alleging retaliation by Dane and his church because she blew the whistle on Dane’s bullying is now going to trial. And you’ll hear about important developments in that case in this podcast. You’ll also hear important insights on how to deal with bullies in a Christian workplace. And Emily will share what she wishes she knew back when she was being bullied that she knows now. I’m so looking forward to diving into the rest of my discussion with Emily and Paul Coughlin.

But first I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, 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.

We now return to part two of my discussion with Paul Coughlin and Emily Hyland. Specifically, Emily explains more of what she wishes she knew back when she was being bullied that she knows now. And one thing I’ve learned about Emily is that she doesn’t do anything halfway. So, when she realized something wasn’t right, she quickly devoured resources like author and advocate Wade Mullins’ book by that title. But Emily urges that while it’s important to find resources, victims shouldn’t go overboard and get a PhD. We’ve kind of touched on this, you said find resources, but don’t get a PhD on the subject. I’m guessing, just knowing a little bit about you, Emily, you like to master something before you move forward with it. And I’m guessing you couldn’t do that. But you did a great job of informing yourself; talk about that process.

EMILY HYLAND 03:08
There are so many more resources that are available in this moment than there were two and a half years ago. Coming right out of it, that book by Wade Mullen was the first I read because of the title, Something’s Not Right. Like you’re right, that is exactly describing it. I have to read that. And I went through, and I read Diane Langberg and Scot McKnight and Laura Behringer’s book. I read Chuck DeGroote, I went through an entire podcast called Power Corrupts and have been increasingly able to articulate accurately what happened and that makes me feel more safe, that I am not speculating. I can say, in the fewest words possible, here’s what happened, and the impacts and why it was wrong. That has helped in the legal sense is that I don’t waste my time on the nebulous side of just thinking, well, what might have those pastors been thinking? I mean, I don’t know what they were thinking, I don’t know their hearts. A psychiatrist maybe could get at some of these things. I don’t need to know those things. I just need to accurately know what was going on in my own mind, in my own heart. I think one resource that I value now is that I wish I’d had then was there was no ChatGPT two years ago, and I wasted a lot of words trying to get my point across. And people don’t realize that when you’re making an accusation about a pastor, you’re making it against a professional communicator, somebody who is possibly way better with words than their victim. That was really hard. I had just too many words. And now ChatGPT has made a big difference just for me personally, to feel more confident in describing the situation. But I really don’t think that you need to be 100% certain and able to write a dissertation on it to step forward and say, I’ve seen bullying behaviors. We need to tackle it now. But you’ve got to stand up and say something, whether it’s on your behalf or the behalf of somebody else. Bullies need to be confronted to their face. You can’t shove a book at them and say, read this; does it sound like you? You have to speak it out to people to say, this is an individual interpersonal matter. Books help to get you the right words, but you can’t get around the fact that somebody, at some point, needs to bring it up to their face.

JULIE ROYS 05:26
Hmm. And one thing if I could add to that, is give yourself some grace. Because I heard you say, like my own motives and my own. It’s so hard when you’re in the midst of this and you’re angry, and you have a right to be angry, and you’re hurt, and you have a right to be hurt. And in all that to be absolutely pristine in every attitude and thought, of course, you’re not going to be. And I think people need to have some grace with themselves when they’re walking through this. I remember once we were leaving a church and I said to somebody, oh, I just want to make sure that we don’t sin. And he’s like, No, you will, but try to minimize that. Just hearing that gave me I don’t know, just kind of a relief that Okay, right. I’m human in this and don’t have to be perfect.

PAUL COUGHLIN 06:15
Julie, if I did add to that there’s a great line by Shakespeare. And he says that some people are more sinned against than sinner. And that is how it is when it comes to bullying in the workplace in faith-centric organizations. What’s interesting is that many people who are targets of bullying are nice people. And nice people will spend so much more time worrying about their behaviors than the person who is abusing them, harming them and their family. We really need to move away from that thinking. I also think that thinking is baked into the system as well, in the rhetoric used by many of our leaders for decades, into make us think that there is something fundamentally wrong with us, when we recognize this behavior in other people. We really need to move away from that, we need to stop being so nice, which is often a knee jerk reaction to people pleasing, it has nothing to do with the fruit of the spirit of kindness. Niceness is never mentioned in the Bible, for example, as an attribute of the Father, Son, or the Holy Spirit, it’s not a fruit of the Spirit, and bullies in the workplace, particularly within the church faith-centric organizations, 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. There is no more tortured scripture in the theater of bullying, then turn the other cheek. When you put it in context. It has to do with having a generous spirit. It has nothing to do with accepting abuse from another person. So, we really need to have these distinctions. Niceness is really not a virtue, it’s actually a vice in disguise. It’s often the sin of cowardice, Revelation 21:8, we need to get tougher and stronger. We need to speak the truth in love. We still need to be gracious. But we also need to be truthful. I love what Emily said, in that someone needs to speak to the bullies face that is so important. If I give one piece of advice. The sooner you stand up to a bully in the workplace in the church, the better your life is going to be. The sooner you do it, the better.

JULIE ROYS 08:44
So good. And in that some of the weapons that are used commonly against the person who speaks up is the word gossip. And you’re labeled gossip. I’m guessing, Emily, that happened to you? I don’t know. But did you find that parsing out what gossip is and understanding and distinguishing between that and what you were doing, was that an important step for you?

EMILY HYLAND 09:10
The verbiage was because I wasn’t talking to people about what was going on. And I regret caring about somebody’s reputation more than the harm they were causing people. Gossip is a hard concept in the church because a church is like a proxy for family not having family in the area. And so, I want people to know what’s going on in my life. I want to know what other people’s is going on, how can I care for somebody or support somebody if I’m really not knowing what’s going on? But then there’s that sinful gossip of self-serving prideful nitpicking rumor spreading,. Those things can really be meshed together. And for my experience is that this came all that this gossip part came to like this moment, the single experience where I’ve talked to two elders, and they should know what they’re doing. And there was this pivot as soon as they told Dane and the associate about what I had said. And now the elders are saying, Oh, we made a mistake. We should be modeling Matthew 18. Let’s go backwards. You go meet with him privately. And I was like, what?

JULIE ROYS 10:19
Matthew 18, just to interject for anybody who doesn’t know this, if turn the other cheek is the most abused, this has to be second, right? Yeah. It’s Matthew 18, which instructs, and again, this is with personal offenses. It says, with a personal offense to first take your offense to your brother one on one, then if he doesn’t listen to you to take one or two people with you, then if he doesn’t listen, then speak it to the entire church. Again, Matthew 18 is not a prescription for bully pastors. I would say ITimothy 5:20, is the prescription for bully pastors, which is when there’s an elder who’s sending that you should publicly expose him so that others may stand in fear. Good grief, somebody who’s being bullied, does not need to go through a Matthew 18. They go to people who are supposed to be advocates who are supposed to hold the pastor accountable. And when they don’t, then to me, you’re completely in a ITimothy 5:20 situation where it’s time to publicly expose the sinning pastor. So rarely hear that passage. Instead, we always hear Matthew 18. And it’s used as a club. It’s used abusively, and it’s a misapplication.

PAUL COUGHLIN 11:31
Julie let’s say that a person has gone under a sexual assault. Do we really think that we would require that person to meet one on one? No one but your most ardent fundamentalist would say yes to that. Most people would say, okay, that’s an exception. I’ll give you that exception. How is that the only exception? And this is used in Christian schools, by the way with kids who are being bullied, I argue it absolutely doesn’t apply, in fact, you’re retraumatizing that poor kid whose been the target of bullying to sit in the same room. So, we really need more than knowledge of Matthew 18. We need wisdom. And wisdom is doesn’t apply to all situations at all times.

EMILY HYLAND 12:10
And that’s what made this so difficult is that I’ve just told two elders about the bullying and intimidation in those words. And their response is, I think we need to go do this again. And you need to go meet with him privately. And I can’t say no, he’s my boss. So that’s what we do. And it’s a closed-door private meeting, no witnesses. What was said in that meeting? But what really stood out to me was his line, have you told anyone else about this? It sounded like it was delivered, like straight out of a horror story to the character whose body is never found, because what the answer is, is that if I had said, Yes, I was guilty of gossip about a pastor, my church elder. If I said, no, there are no witnesses in the control of the narrative still possible, as long as I’m not around to contradict anything. And that’s what happened. Forty-eight hours later, that’s what I told him. I said, No, I haven’t said anything, because what I believe is that gossip hinders reconciliation efforts. And I wanted this to be reconciled. I had no premonition that this was unrecoverable. I know better now. But what I thought then is that, yeah, there was no need to gossip, because it’s like I saw a problem. I’m like, let’s get these elders involved. Let’s get this back on the rails moving on. And what it actually was, is, I did myself a disservice by not gossiping more. I don’t want to gossip. But I wish I had talked to people who were safe and outside of that church.

JULIE ROYS 13:40
And that’s not gossip. No, that is getting the help that you need in certain situations. And so important for us to understand, distinguish between those. What about the family impact? Because you have children. And I’ve heard this from numerous people where I would do this, I would speak up, but I’ve got children in the church. Sometimes it’s the spouse, there’s all these connections and leverage that, quite frankly, the leader or the organization has over the person that’s being bullied. Talk about that and how you navigated that.

EMILY HYLAND 14:21
For me, I kept this all under wraps. Nobody knew, nobody knew what I was feeling. So, they probably noticed there was something wrong. And I remember when my mom asked me, she’s like, how’s it going working for Dane? And I had no answer. I couldn’t just say fine, I held back. But then when this all came crashing down, she didn’t know how to help me. My husband didn’t know how to help me. Everybody knew I had worked for church. And then one moment I wasn’t, they really did not know why they were at this church one Sunday, and nobody from that church ever spoke to them again. I mean, I’m shouldering my own mountain of grief, and then I’ve got this, you know, layer of they’re grief. My oldest son, he’s like, I was happy at MPC. And they were until it was over. And I think that processing the grief with them has been valuable. I trust that God will use this in their faith walk for their good. But I wish I’d spoken up earlier, and I wish I had prepared my family for the consequences of speaking up. What happens when you tell the truth is that you might experience hardship and pain, it’s worth it. But I wish I had prepared myself to give them a little bit more solace as to how to navigate, and why their world changed so much so quickly.

JULIE ROYS 15:42
I mean, listening as a mother, my heart just goes out to you and to your family, for what you’ve been through. And it’s hard enough for adults, but for children to process how this happens, and to distinguish between the people that hurt them who are symbols of the Church of God. It’s just so painful to see that and it just requires so much prayer, so much care. But I mean, none of us on this call, and I’m guessing, Paul, you included, my kids have not been spared any of the effects of what I’ve gone through. They shoulder it with me whether or not they deserve to because they really don’t deserve any of it. And yet, there’s no way to insulate them from it.

PAUL COUGHLIN 16:30
And a job, in a supposed Christian environment, it certainly wasn’t. And I have three kids, and they were younger. And I would drive home from that job. And you just undergo stuff that is just horrendous. And I had a mantra that I would tell myself in the car – our old blue Volvo. I would say this is not my future, this is not my future, this is not the Lord’s will for my life. And it helped and it helps to highlight something fundamental for targets; hope is more important than love for a beleaguered individual, and a beleaguered community. We see this often in the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King. Why did he talk about hope so much? Because if you don’t have a functioning hope, that today, tomorrow, the next day year, could be better – love doesn’t land well. Without hope we can’t digest love very well. So, one thing that we need to do is to inculcate more hope in our spirit is to realize this is not your future. This is temporary, it’s not permanent. It’s one of the reasons why we recommend that people start looking for another job, because we’re talking about bullying within faith centric organizations. Looking for another job has a way of bolstering your hope. And with that hope we tend to think more clearly and more proactively.

JULIE ROYS 18:01
Hmm. For some reason, I’m thinking of the movie Back to the Future. I don’t know if you remember that. But there’s a main bully. Yeah, and the two different scenarios that the entire family experiences because the father is bullied in front of his son. In the first scenario, that impacts the son’s view his father and the culture of the family, and how it changes when somebody stands up to the bully. And I think one of the things that we don’t think about enough is what it communicates to our children when we don’t say anything, and we allow this kind of harm to continue.

I talked to somebody recently, and I have to sort of laugh because I asked her how your kids process what happened? And she sort of laughed, and she said, at first it was really difficult. She said that they kind of think their mom’s badass. I was like, okay, but I mean, in the very best sense of that word, if there is, is that they see that you’re worth standing up for and that there are things worth standing up for. There’s things worth paying a price for. And I think it’s important as Christians that we start modeling that in the way that we respond.

PAUL COUGHLIN 19:19
We’re told as parents, not to exasperate our children, right in Scripture? One way to exasperate your children is to show cowardice and for them to witness that. That can make them feel incredibly uncomfortable and unstable.

JULIE ROYS 19:32
Good point.

EMILY HYLAND 19:33
I think it too is that you know, like that parable Jesus told about a man who finds a treasure in the field, and he sells everything to get the treasure. It’s almost the counter like the inverse is that what would I not give to keep my kids from being discipled in gracelessness and fear and corruption? I mean, to not have my kids in that I’m like, I will pay that price. My kids will not be breathing that air and under that thumb of oppression and hurting other people. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that that’s okay at church. You can, I think, latch on to the teeniest tiniest nugget of courage to say, I can do this, because other people might benefit.

JULIE ROYS 20:22
In a way, you had no idea when you spoke to the elders, how that was going to play out and what the consequences were going to be. But you say that we should understand the risks but take the gamble anyway. Why do you say that?

EMILY HYLAND 20:37
When I look back, I think, like you said about the matrix. I mean, there was a period, I was like, please just plug me back into the matrix. I just wanted to go back. And then there was the period where I was like, please just let me have a lobotomy so I cannot have these memories, and not know, have these relationships that you know, now are nothing. And now I think that outcome was the right outcome. To be violently removed, was how God needed to do it. He did it on my behalf, he did it on behalf of my children, I needed it. But on the behalf of other people in that congregation who had the similar experience. I think that knowing the risks, that you could be fired and disfellowshipped, and the House of Cards will come crumbling down. If you know those risks, you still stand up, and you still speak the truth. Because the speaking of the truth is important to Christians. And if you’re being abused by a Christian leader, whatever the outcome is of speaking the truth, is the best possible outcome. The other consequences coming from either tolerating sin or silencing your conscience; those may seem like a preferable outcome in the short term. But they are so costly to your soul and to your spirit that to be out of an abusive and coercive church is always better than being in one. So, to know those risks, and it’s painful, it could be awful, it could be the worst thing you ever go through in your whole life. But do it anyway, because you were meant to be on the outside of an abusive church.

JULIE ROYS 20:42
Paul, one of the things I should say, a person and a characteristic that I didn’t even know about when I started reporting is the narcissist. And yet, I have learned about the narcissist in spades right now. But I think a lot of times, we don’t know that that is what we are dealing with, in these situations, because this person has a title. And this person can speak so lovingly from the stage. Talk about the narcissist, and what we need to know as the person who is on the receiving end of what they’re dishing out in our dealings with them.

PAUL COUGHLIN 22:58
Yeah, so the narcissistic personality or antisocial personality can be depending on the study, 10, 12, 15 percent of a given population. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but sometimes that’s one out of every eight people can have this characteristic. That’s pretty big, particularly when you look at a congregation, right? Most bullies bully, not because they have low self-esteem. They abuse others because they have excessive self-esteem. They think they’re wonderful. And then you add on top of that this component that they are somehow especially circled by God. So, you already have this overinflated ego. And now it’s uber inflated, because now they are a special person in a special world putting out special information that other people have not discerned until they were born, which is pretty stunning.

We need to realize that most narcissists see people in two ways, people who are either below them or a threat. And this is how they look at the world. They are constantly measuring things in order to keep themselves at the top of the hierarchy. And again, to keep themselves at the top of the hierarchy isn’t for them to necessarily usher in the kingdom of heaven to play their part, it’s for their kingdom. They’ll talk a lot about the kingdom of heaven, but it’s really about their kingdom. And I’m reminded of that, I had a dinner with Mark Driscoll and very interesting dinner. And he kept talking about how it was all about Jesus. And he kept saying it over and over. But yet, if you look at the guy’s actions, it’s not all about Jesus. So, they often speak one way, but they really behave in a very different way.

One thing that narcissists have in common is that they have three things in common and I mentioned one of them, an inflated self-regard. They really believe they’re more important than other people. They don’t believe the Bible. The Bible says we’re equal, they don’t really, they’ll say we’re equal. But that’s not how they truly think. They really think they’re above the herd. And because of that, it makes them tremendously dangerous. They also have a great sense of entitlement; things are owed to them again, because they’re wonderful. But then they have a third component. And this third component is antagonism. And I’ve often explained to people who have been the target of bullying, but in faith centric organizations, the best bullies harm you, but they smile on their face and a lilt in their voice. They’re the most damaging ones, because they hide their antagonism. Their words are designed to humiliate, and really destroy you. But they do it in such a way that it almost seems like okay for them to do that. It goes back to that cognitive dissonance that we talked about earlier. The look on the face is kind, but the words are poison. That’s all on purpose. They have been practicing that dark skill for a long time, and most of them have gotten away with it for a long time, as well. So, to the best of our abilities, know who you’re really dealing with, because it’s a very different response than how you would deal with someone, for example, there’s conflict. There’s miscommunication, there’s misunderstanding. When you have those behaviors that’s often mistaken for bullying behaviors. It’s not, those behaviors are answered in a much different way. Like an interpersonal. Oh, I didn’t know what you were saying that okay. I’m sorry. Yeah, I’m glad we’re okay. Let’s move on. Bullying is a whole other category of behavior.

JULIE ROYS 26:40
Hmm. Well, Emily, I am so glad that you stuck up for yourself. I’m so glad that you kept receipts. I always tell people, please keep receipts, because in my business, you don’t have receipts, it’s a he said, she said. It’s really very difficult to make a case. But you were able to make a case. Since this ruling by the Department of Human Rights last December, I know there was another major ruling in July. Would you get us up to speed with what’s going on? What happened in July with that ruling, and also, as you’re looking to the future, what’s coming up?

EMILY HYLAND 27:18
I didn’t go into this wanting to go to court. And so, I’ve made choices that I’ve allowed this to be much longer but allowed for much greater investigation by outside agencies. So going and taking my case to the Illinois Department of Human Rights; that’s similar to the federal EEOC. And the Illinois Department of Rights did an investigation, they looked at the material, we had a long conversation between me and the pastors where they asked us all these questions. And then they came up with this report. So there was 10 charges. And back in December, they found that retaliation had substantial evidence. And so that charge was forwarded up to the higher agency, the Human Rights Commission. Well, the other dismissed charges, of which there were nine, I went back, looked at some of the evidence, had more evidence, put it on there, and resubmitted it through, it’s similar to an appeals process, but you can get them to look at it again. And so the higher agency looked at these other nine dismissed charges, and they said, alright, we’ll keep six of them stay dismissed. And some of them were just because of timing. But two additional charges were, in essence, overturned. So, they were originally dismissed, they are now considered substantially off to more going to trial. So those two are unequal pay and termination, the discharge. So, they joined up with retaliation, and it will be going to trial coming up in the next hopefully few months, maybe who knows, it just could drag on. But there’s also an Illinois Department of Labor claim that took two full years to get through the review system. And that one is going to be going in front of a judge in the next three weeks, where they’ll hear my evidence and then that of the churches and to look at unpaid wages. How much time was I being asked to do work outside of the hours I was ever going to get paid for? Which I think is one of those strange ways that bullying is normalized in churches, which is how we are asked to spend our time. That’s our time. And I loved my church, and I wanted to do a lot for my church. But when it became a I don’t get to have dinner with my family because I need to respond to an email that Dane needs turned around this very second. Looking at that evidence and saying how often that was happening with regularity is what we’re going into which is that yeah, I think that was a really hard one because you want to have your church go well, but you also need those boundaries to say, Why are you asking me for work to be done on a Saturday or while I’m on vacation or on a holiday? That was one of those, I think, very covert ways of controlling and coercing me. That is so normalized because it can just be passed off as Oh, it was just off the top of his head. And you don’t didn’t need to do that then. I mean, of course, you could have waited until Monday. Oh, we’ll see.

JULIE ROYS 30:33
So, I understand the regular trial system. But I don’t understand the system going through government agencies like this. What does the trial look like? And what are you hoping to get out of it?

EMILY HYLAND 30:45
Well compared to say a trial in a circuit court, the Human Rights Commission have their own set of administrative judges. Just as the Department of Labor has their own administrative judges. But there’s still a discovery process, there’s still witnesses and depositions. And then it all goes in front of her as a trial.

JULIE ROYS 31:03
So, the judge will then be making the decision, and then damages and so forth would be determined by the judge?

EMILY HYLAND 31:10
Right, and the church should be saying thank you, because actually, this is by far the cheapest route, even if you’re found guilty, there’s no punitive damages. So, they can’t slap the church and say, you should have done this, and here’s a giant fine. There’s no punitive damages. It’s all pretty much easy calculus as to how much you were making how much of interest how much of you know, and there’s limits on how much even of other damages. This was never about money. And this was about the fact that they broke the law, and they are unrepentant. And don’t think they’ve done moments wrong for two and a half years. So, I’m excited that there’s people who can read this and see like, oh, yeah, this was definitely wrong. And it’s not hard to identify it. It’s shocking that the people who are in the organization cannot see what is well visible to people who are reading the narrative, and also even people who are getting the highlights of it.

JULIE ROYS 32:10
Well, it speaks to your character, that you’ve gone through this process, that you haven’t sought to be punitive when you certainly could have, and instead are waiting for justice. And so, we join you in praying for truth and praying for justice. And we do pray that all of that will become clear as this moves through the system.

So, Emily, and Paul, thank you so much. This has been a rich discussion. And I know it’s been bought with a lot of blood, sweat and tears from you. And so, we acknowledge that. But thank you for the insights that you’ve gained through a very, very painful process.

PAUL COUGHLIN 32:48
Thank you, Julie. Appreciate that.

EMILY HYLAND 32:50
Yeah, and thank you so much for bringing attention to this because a lot of people are under the same burdens. And they can be in the same massively confused state that I was and feeling very isolated. Because that is how bullying works. It is so about isolating you from a reality that you’re in and keeping you from speaking up and pushing back and being happy.

JULIE ROYS 33:16
Again, thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And if you’re a survivor of church hurt or abuse or you’re a Christian leader who wants to learn 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 Wray 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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9 Responses

  1. Of all the sad details of this story, the one that really stuck out to me was the complete abandonment of Emily by the members of her former church. That is a sad reality to grapple with. I hope these church members think about that and come to some type of reckoning with their behavior.

  2. This saddens me, but probably not for the reasons you think. I expect more and better from you Julie.
    Both parts are long on innuendo and very short on facts. Also, from what is in here the commission has now twice determined that there was no evidence of bullying.
    So here’s my question for you Julie, what if you’re wrong in this case? Will it have been worth spreading this and the potential damage it’s done if Dane is in the right and Emily is in the wrong? (Please note, I’m not claiming that is the case, but what level of fact checking should happen before we start spreading claims that have been made against someone).

    1. The accounts of eye-witnesses are not innuendo. Both Emily and former NPC elder, Dave Veerman, gave first-hand accounts of what they witnessed, which indicated bullying. And the commission did not make any ruling on whether Emily was bullied. That would be outside their purview. However, the commission did rule that there’s substantial evidence that Dane and NPC retaliated against Emily for reporting allegations of bullying and discrimination to the elder board.

      1. Julie, since this is a serious accusation, I still have questions which doesn’t mean I doubt Emily’s veracity. What was the nature of the bullying prior to her firing? If Dave Veerman witnessed bullying, he shouldn’t have been shocked that Dane wanted to fire her. Retaliation is a separate matter.

        The weight of the evidence does seem to lean in Emily’s favor. No church should engage in the world’s practice in trying to coerce a departing employee to sign an NDA.

        I’m a little less certain about when it’s appropriate for a Christian to take a non-criminal church matter to the secular courts. There was employment and salary involved so I’m assuming that’s why Emily has pursued this in court. My apologies if this has already been covered. I have not been able to read or listen to everything regarding this.

        I would love to hear a separate discussion on when a matter between Christians should or should not be pursued in the secular courts.

        It’s a shame this could not have been handled in mediation. My lawyer brother, an elder in his church, has been called in by other churches to mediate disputes. It would certainly be a good topic for a podcast.

        I pray for reconciliation, repentance, and healing.

        1. This situation is complex. First time I told the whole thing it took 4 hours. Last time I told it to someone took 1.5 hours. Hundreds of pages of material.
          I actually hired an ADR professional to help me and she had me read Ken Sande’s stuff and we talked at length about the “when to take another christian to court” part. Highly recommend.
          Thanks for listening, asking clarifying questions, and most importantly praying!

    2. Josh – they only had so much time in this podcast. here are some facts that took all of 20 seconds of effort to find:

      https://hrc.illinois.gov/content/dam/soi/en/web/hrc/decision/hrc-decisions/23-0081-hyland-final-order.pdf

      i notice that your concern is for the damage to the church. Emily’s welfare doesn’t factor in.

      i am greatly puzzled why you express no concern for the damage to Emily’s life and her family.

      Their entire community was ripped out from under them. They are not even acknowledged as human by the people at the church.

      I also am greatly puzzled why you think the church should be protected from accountability.

  3. This is like hearing my own story playing out in someone else’s life, almost every aspect. It’s good to know I’m not the only one, but heartbreaking to hear that it’s not uncommon.

    I have two young kids who had to witness the horror of my situation, there was no way to shield them from it. By the Grace of God they were able to understand the concept that a church is NOT God, and this was a case where the church was not acting in a Godly way.

    1. April – I am so terribly sorry that you’ve walked the same dark road. It is crushing to almost every facet of a life. I’m so grieved by the fact your children witnessed any part of it. That God’s uses these wicked events to draw us and our kids closer is a miracle of His providence. We worship a God Who Sees even when no one else will look at us.

      1. Emily-

        You have been on my heart and mind ever since I read about your case a few months ago, and I have been praying for you. I’m behind you 100%. In fact, I would love it if you would directly email me at [email protected] to share some of my church experiences with you, and compare notes

        Glad to finally hear your voice and more of your story. I thank God for you!

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