People were spreading rumors about me in my church, alleging that I was having an affair with a married woman. I confronted them about it, but they lied and said they weren't spreading them. They said they only heard the rumors but didn't believe them. Time and other people that heard the rumors from them, who spoke to me afterwards, revealed otherwise.
This has been going on for over a year and it is still not resolved. Now I have some people in my church thinking I'm some kind of adulterer, and everything I do with my female friend (who was separated at the time the rumors started and is now going through a divorce) is interpreted as having an affair. What would you do, or what have you done in such circumstances?
Not so easy. I live in Poland and there are very few Seventh-day Adventist churches there. They are few and far between.
This is typical small-town talk, and it happens the world over, whether within a church or within a small community.
Get over it, is my advice. If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
Problems are within the eye of the beholder.
If you can't see them, they don't exist.
If other people have a problem, then that is THEIR problem, not yours.
Always remember that what people say about you is none of your business! Pay attention to real men and women that talk to you.
Well, I would immediately become an atheist. We have better things to do than speak about other people. So boring.
However, if that is not what you want to do, fight fire with fire. Start a rumor or two yourself. Go to the biggest gossip in the church (when I used to go to church, in my particular church, it was the Elder's wives), and say something like, "I head that (name of guilty person) has been arrested for perjury. Is there any truth to the rumor?"
Yeah, right. My sister is an atheist and she has the biggest mouth in the world. Anyway, I can't start a rumor about them. That's not the Christian thing to do. Then I wouldn't be any better than they are...
Greg, so if they're Christians, why are they starting rumors? In fact, why is the church gossiping? Why is the entire church indulging in scandal? Seems unchristian to me as well. But then, they are the ones calling themselves Christians. Perhaps it's the wrong church?
I didn't say "entire chruch". Don't make assumptons. You know what happens when you do that: ASS - U - ME. If you would have read through this forum, you would have known that I have some very good friends in the church. It's a minority that's spreading the rumors. And, obviously, it's because they're hypocrites.
Greg, well, if it's the minority (which is not what came across in your primary email), wouldn't it be a good thing to rise about it? There is not other way to fight it except fight fire with fire. If you were in an office or anywhere else, the same sort of thing happens.
The church isn't a set of people that are superior to others. Its members do exactly the same things as any group of people do in any area of life.
I agree with Mighty Mom - it's obviously not a place where there is love and why should you have to go to Church only to always have that, constantly at the back of your mind.
When you leave, you will have peace of mind and one day..................the truth will come out.
I let the liars get exposed for what they are. If people are spreading rumors which are based on lies, then when the lie is exposed as being a lie? Well, let's just say that TRUTH will be the only thing left to see.
So, if someone is talking about you, spreading rumors based on lies, then let your actions prove them wrong. That is all you can do.
The trouble with that approach is, though, that lies and rumors tend to take the most hold when they're about things that aren't visible to the other people at all times. Greg could sit in that church for a solid month with witnesses, and those witnesses could vouch for the fact that he hadn't been involved with "a friend" for that whole month. The minute he went home and was out of site of witnesses, someone could then imagine up that he had found the time to have that affair they "all knew" he was having. The things about people that nobody is ever going to see "for certain" are the things people are more likely to keep believing, because on top of imagining whatever they think is going on, a lot of people start to get worried that if they were wrong then they've been causing trouble to an innocent person. Emotional incentive to keep believing the lie (and as long as it's about something no witnesses will ever really be able to vouch for completely, they don't ever really need to face facts that are obvious and clear). It's the old thing about disproving a negative.
Yes, people have vivid imaginations, but that changes nothing which I stated.
Yes he could and people will still draw other conclusions based nothing more than sheer stupidity/ignorance.
And they would be wrong if not true. Yes, I know people like to gossip about such things, but those people obviously don't have anything better to do than to talk about other people.
Yes, Greg would be innocent providing it's untrue. However, if his actions are providing truth, then eventually the lie the rumor was started on will become known as a lie.
Actually, it's the same old thing called worrying about things which have no reason to be worried about.
Obviously, these people have too much time on their hands. If I were you, I would just ignore them. You know what the truth is. Does it really matter what some people think? Are these people important to you? Those people who want to believe the lies will believe them regardless of what you do or say. And those who know you or know better, already know what the truth is.
Sounds like time to consider other options...trouble is, is that unchristian behavior seems to be the norm anymore.
If they are lying about me, then they are leaving someone else alone.
I do not care. I know the truth and that is all that matters!
There's a part of me that thinks, "There's no way to deal with lies, so don't bother. Just go to another church." There's another part of me (the "main part"), though, that has seen, first-hand, how much lies can destroy lives.
When someone tells lies about you, if you say nothing the lie just gets "left out there in the air" to be passed around some more. If you try to address the lie it will be seen as "denying it" - and then there's a very good chance someone will think "you're just denying what we all already know to be true." So, one way or another, there's really no winning once you become the victim of lies. You have the advantage of it being in your church, which, as others have said, you can leave. I think if I were in your situation I'd pick a couple/few of the biggest blabbermouth-busy-bodies in the church, have a nice friendly chat before leaving, and (again, in a friendly way) tell them I was choosing to leave the church because I was disgusted by the lies; and knew that once one is the victim of lies there is essentially no winning (and so I was leaving).
Look at the bright side of it: The lies are only in your church and only about your allegedly having an affair. When I left my marriage it amounted to my dealing with lies about me being passed all over the town where I lived (and had grown up). Some people were just angry and vindictive and said I was "crazy". Others believed the vindictive ones. Some others actually believed I was crazy because they couldn't understand why I'd leave "a perfectly nice marriage". A few people in close circles had always underestimated me as a capable person, so they threw in their version of what I was based on things like something I did when I was five (and a perfectly normal five-year-old, by the way).
THEN, from there, that small, close, circle that generated intentional and unintentional lies spread them outside the circle. The court system came in and asked the people in the small circle (and just outside it) what they thought about me; and whatever they said was then entered into reports that were presented in court. That, in turn, led to court documents being based on lies; and that, in turn, "confirmed" the lies to those people in the original small circle (because, of course, the court can act only on what is presented; and from what I saw, once the "crazy" thing gets started even a person's own attorney starts getting information from those people in that small circle.
I won't go into all the horror and disaster that was brought into my life as a result of those lies (intentional or just the result of people being more confident in their own opinions about me than they should have been), but I can tell you that the damage in my life and in my children's and other family members' lives has been whopping.
My way of dealing with the lies in the community (since things were happen like I was being stopped by the police and asked if I knew what my own name was and where I lived !!!) was to seek out those "famous community busy-bodies/talkers" and tell them my perfectly logical explanation for what had happened. The trouble was, once the court had gotten what it wanted from that original circle and those in its edges, the decisions had been made; and the court was done with it. Another thing I did was write to my lawyer, other lawyers, and others; but once a person has that in court files it isn't easy to get anyone to listen. On top of it all, each new lawyer would ask if I had a lawyer. I'd have to tell him/her that I did. That's when, I guess, the potential new lawyer would contact the existing one and get the story about how I was (apparently) "crazy".
I won't go on any longer here; but - really - liars are DANGEROUS!!! Their lies may seem harmless to them, or even to you; unless/until there ever comes a situation when they're given the opportunity to put their two cents in on you (aka "get the licks in that they may have been wishing they get in for as long as they've resented/misunderstood you). You don't know when you may be involve with some court thing (maybe an accident or a lawsuit) when someone will send someone out to investigate your character. You don't know what jobs you may want to apply for that may involve a similar kind of investigation.
Nobody would EVER imagine how bad things can get from having only a few people put their heads together and come up with the biggest, sickest, piece of fiction you could ever imagine. By the time a handful of people see one thing and then fill in the blanks about what they imagine the rest of the story "must be", it would be laughable if it wasn't actually nauseating. The other thing is it isn't enough to have the majority of people who don't really know you or what is/isn't going on say something like, "I don't know him. I don't know what's going on." What anyone who is the victim of lies needs is a good, solid, group of people who will put an end to the lies each and every time they crop up.
In other words, you need someone (not a lawyer, a friend or a relative - and more than one of them) who will step up and proactively defend you, speak for you, and aim to put liars in their place. If you don't have that group of that kind of people on your side; and if, instead, the best things will end up is, "We don't know. It's not really our business," you're at high risk of things potentially getting a lot nastier (in ways that you wouldn't even think of right now) for you.
It would seem to me that if you're enough aware of the lies going through the church that it's become an issue for you, that would indicate that enough of those "support type" people haven't been effective at nipping the lies in bud and leaving them to the twisted mind or two that needs to believe them.
I think "out-of-the-church" is pretty much your option right now; and I've written this long post/story in case anyone else on here is dealing with someone who is lying (or believing lies) about him/her; because I want to drive home the point to anyone who thinks "it's not really that bad" that it could be a whole lot worse than they'd ever imagine (if not right now, then if circumstances change).
(..because you know what? Twenty years after the nightmare happened to me, I'm still paying for it, still living with it sometimes (for example, still being asked by police if I'm OK and what my name is when I walk down the street of my own town), and still not knowing how the hell a person can ever get a reputation as a perfectly normal and capable individual back after such a horror has been unleashed by vengeful and/or indifferent people (or else people who so lack faith in you they're prone to believing lies about you).
Does it matter what they think of you? No - not unless you find yourself being accused of something you didn't do, or aren't, (and maybe accused by one of them, by the way), and you find yourself in a court case where your character, sanity, and/or reputation become the focus.
Somebody might say that you can't run away every time someone thinks something about you that isn't true; but the difference is this: Normally, we live our lives just going along and not having to worry about the individual here or there who thinks one thing or another. In some lives, and in some circumstances, what can happen is that lies will take hold as they're shared by a small group of people; and eventually start to take on a life of their own. Once that kind of thing happens, it becomes "A Thing" - and once lies have becomes "A Thing" it's a-whole-nother ballgame; and the rules that once applied (to our thinking and handling of run-of-the-mill, isolated, lies and misunderstandings) no longer apply.
I could see you put some thought into your response. You could have made a hub out of that. I'm sorry to hear about how your life was adversely affected. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. I appreciate it.
The thought of making a Hub occurred to me; but some "causes" are worth doing "public service announcement" posts. Besides, I've been incubating a Hub for awhile now, but I want to approach it from a less ranting/venting kind of angle (and that's going to be a challenge ).
Ha! I was wondering if you were going to chime in here, Lisa HW.
You said in essence what I was going to say about once lies get started it's amazing (in a bad way) where they can lead. Way over the top.
To the OP, I was being a bit flip about changing churches.
If you have nothing to hide, your conscience is clear, and you can stomach looking these a-holes in the eye, then hold your head up high and carry on. As others here have said, let your actions quell the rumors. The busybodies will (hopefully) eventually move on to their next target of moral outrage.
I don't know the rules in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. However, is it possible -- even remotely -- that those who accuse you of adultery are on some level correct? Is being separated a recognized status within your church? Or is it still technically married? In other words, is there a kernel of truth that some hardliners might stand behind on your dating a separated-but-technically-still-"married" woman???
Or, as I suspect, are these people creating uproar where there is nothing amiss.
MM, when I see the word "lies" I flock to it like a moth to a flame () because never would I have ever imagined that someone who lives the way I live and is the kind of person and mother I am would ever, ever, be accused of being "crazy". Ever since then (and dealing with I what I steal deal with now at times), I can't help but thinking how nobody could ever imagine how it could go on; and worse, how once it does, a person can't get anyone to listen to him (or anyone who's in any position to do something about it, anyway).
I have such contempt for a) people who think they're able to read minds when they imagine what someone is thinking or doing that they can't see, b) people who enjoy spreading gossip, and c) people who first assume the worst (or at least the weakest) about others, rather than assuming the best (and the strongest) and waiting until more evidence is in (if anyone's in a position to appoint himself judge anyway) before forming a conclusion.
Oh, I forgot "d": people who measure others by whether they think and do what they do; and who deem anyone who does things differently than they do must have something wrong with them, or else the person they're judging is "up to something" (like having an affair).
That's the thing. Some people who couldn't/wouldn't be just friends with someone of the other sex automatically think that's how it is with everybody. Well, above long story aside; I once worked for a vice president of a good sized corporation; and I started hearing rumors how I "must have" "slept my way" to what wasn't anywhere near the top and was, instead, more like "just getting to the edge of the middle". Around that time, I was adopting my son. I won't even go into the rumors suggesting that maybe I was adopting my own secret child! They didn't last long, but I was amazed that they showed up anyway.
I will eagerly await the hub "How to adopt your own secret child."
This should be juicy.
Here's how that one got going (even though it didn't get going for long): I was single and working. The baby I was adopting (and had pictures of and was talking about the whole process) had my hair and eye coloring and narrow shoulders. Voila - "must be my secret born-out-of-wedlock child, because why, on Earth, would a single working person adopt a baby" (at least back then). Another short-lived rumor someone mentioned (again, no real traction on it) was that when I did get married because we wanted to have/be a family, one busy-body suggested that my first pregnancy would result in a full-term "premie" (if you know what I mean). The busy-body actually suggested that I was "weird" for "not wanting to admit" that I was "pregnant when I got married" (when I WASN'T!). Although this little collection of rumors were pretty harmless, they were kind of amazing when I heard about them. As long as they don't take on a life of their own they can be dealt with (I guess). It was that court system that pretty much invited and facilitated the pot-shot fest that led to a report that was a little of this exaggeration, and a little of that lie, that amounted to a report about someone I wouldn't even recognize.
Oh wow. So these rumors are really vicious gossip then.
I have asked myself the same question. I really do not know how to stop what people say or think. It just doesn't make sense to keep trying to get people to see the truth about you, while all it does is get you upset and angry. Although what they say may be cruel and hurtful, they will always think whatever they want to think about you. That makes those people not worth having in your life even if it may be your very own parents or siblings. Sad to say but true.
I have an older brother that I have not spoken to in over 17 years and I do not miss having him there. He was one of those cruel people that wanted to judge and believe the worst in everyone. Always made him feel good to put people down, which included me. I didn't want to deal with the abuse and as soon as I became an adult and moved out of my mothers home I let him know that he no longer existed to me, to forget he had a sister and to let me be.
Geez, what do you expect church people to do, not judge you?
Tell me about it. I have met some really great people in my church that have become good friends of mine; but they have a saying in California, where I grew up: "Haters are going to hate, no matter what." That includes the hypocrites in the church.
Easy. Don't handle it at all. People are always going to talk and typically if you're above someone they just want to drag you down. Also they are trying to drag you down, and they know it's working, it's only going to encourage them to do it more.
I assume you have had a discussion with your minister about the problem. If not, that is where I would start.
If you exchange email with other members of your church, you may want to add a Biblical verse to your signature. Some email programs will let you "weight" a certain signature so that it's not quite random, but will appear a bit more heavily than others. The Bible is full of quotations on gossip, slander, etc., especially in the Psalms. Perhaps the message might get through to a few of the perpetrators (especially those passages that detail what God does to slanderers).
It's kind of difficult for my minister (pastor) to do anything right now. These same people that are gossiping about me made lying accusations against him, even writing letters of complaint to higher authorities. It got him fired.
Although, we have talked about this in the past and he thinks it's completely ridiculous. The lady's husband who is gossiping about me said that she was having an affair with the pastor in the past.
In the long run, I would say that they are the ones who have to stand before God and be accountable. That's of little comfort to you, right now.
There's a higher authority in your church, no? It may be time for your pastor to kick this upstairs.
There's one other thing you can do, and trust me, it's the hardest thing you will ever do. That is to become a humble servant of those who would wrong you. Love them, and show your love for them every day. Find out their needs and fulfill them, over and over. Pray for them morning and night. Slander and gossip are traits of people who feel they themselves are not interesting enough, so find them interesting.
Nobody said salvation was easy. I did this when my fiance and my best friend of 22 years for a few months found each other more interesting than me. After six years, I almost feel that my forgiving them might lie within reach.
Forgiveness sounds great on paper but can be difficult to achieve and make you then feel somehow inadequate when you can't manage it. Usually, I just get really angry. Now some people call that a sin but I find it has some merit. Like you, I would have confronted the rumour mongers, they hate being confronted and of course they lie. Now you know exactly what kind of people they are, you can stay away from them because they really aren't worth building a relationship with. Presumably there are others in the church who are not gossiping about you? Then you've just found people who are of value and who you can associate with. Normally, I would have made some cheap jibe about how Christian your fellow parishioners are being but you seem like a nice chap so I have resisted. Personally, I would do nothing but wait. Sooner or later they will be the victim of their own malice and I would be there to laugh at them.. But being a Christian, you could forgive them at this point, which would probably be even more cruel
Call me a hard-faced biatch, but I don't believe in forgiving people - I don't think it's my place. And the trouble with forgiveness is that it can feel like you're giving the person permission to transgress again, which (IMO) can lead to a build-up of resentment and anger inside yourself.
I'm not a huge fan of revenge either - or rather, I believe in the French saying "the best revenge is living well". But it can be great fun to watch when karma finally catches up with someone.
Yes. There are others in the church who are not gosipping about me; and we are really good friends. I have already forgiven them in my heart. However, I don't believe in the saying, "Forgive and forget." The damage has been done and it has cost them my trust and friendship.
Just FYI: I had many, many talks with my priest about this, and about setting boundaries with the people who have wronged me. Forgiving them doesn't mean allowing them to treat you badly any more. I don't have to be friends with them, or socialize with them. I don't have to trust them. Forgiveness is something else entirely. But for a long time I anonymously did services for them with all the humility I could manage. When Christ says to go the extra mile, he means it. Redouble your efforts to show your love for the people who have wronged you. You don't get any points for loving the people who are easy to love.
I don't know if you have 'libel and defamation' laws there but if they exist, and IF you can get it on paper, verifying that Mr. A ,did tell Mr B, that Greg Sereda is doing blah blah with Miss Lovely, well, you can go to the police. Otherwise, you will have to just ignore them or start your own rumours that Mr Bigmouth is lusting after Miss Lovely? gossip and lies about you usually stem from jealousy, resentments, idle minds best we can do, is just let it go and stick to only those who truly know you.
They actually do have those kinds of laws in Poland; and can you believe one of the people responsible for the rumors works at the police station!?
Publicly confront the person over the issue. In a church this is the only way to stop the back-biting gossip. Those who secretly gossip do not like the light to be shown on them when they are found out for their true nature.
Now if the lie is a small matter which brings no real harm to you, you can probably ignore it and it will disappear as you stand above it.
But, if this is a very harmful lie that is causing you harm, even emotionally or your reputation in the Church...hit it head on.
There are always groups of people like this in any Church. (Wolves in Sheep's clothing) These groups have to have the power and run the Church the way They want things to go. It is a family tradition to them.
If you prefer to leave and leave the situation behind, that is your choice and you may feel good about that. But I have found the best way to handle these people is to tell the Truth! Expose them. Remember how Christ called out the Pharisees and Sadducees?
Look at it this way, these people are the Church Bullies. Same thing we see with children. Bullies do not like to be challenged. They feed off of your fear and the fact they can continue with no resistance.
I haven't read all the comments here, so I might be repeating what some have said.
This isn't about you, it's about them, and their actions are fueled by resentment. You are a young, attractive, eligible male from another country. This makes you a bit exotic, and definitely different. Deep down, they wish they were you, but they can't be. This makes them mad that they can't have what you have, meaning difference. They've all conformed so they can belong, and hate that you can belong without conforming to the lives they are locked into. So, they are miserable that you have a life, one that's different from theirs, that works for you. Gee, I'd think the human response to someone else's happiness was to be happy instead of hateful.
I wonder if they've tried to match you up with an attractive, eligible congregant? If they did and it didn't work, oh, would they be mad.
Just my sardonic view, for what it's worth.
That's original. I haven't read that yet in this forum. It makes me feel quite good of myself. And no, they didn't try to hook me up with anyone else.
Sounds more accurate than sardonic to me (or maybe sardonic AND accurate). I think most people ARE happy for other people's happiness, but all it takes is a couple or few to start a big mess for someone. There's no way anyone who hasn't taken the brunt of that kind of thing would ever believe how simple and easy it can be to make a mess in an innocent person's life. I know I just went along thinking I didn't need to worry about who had what to say about me - at least until I was handed the pot-shot/get-your-licks-in list by the attorney in court. I think lots of times people don't even realize how remarks that seem so "nothing" and off-handed to them can turn into a big problem. They're just enjoying yakking and feeling self-righteous and superior, and not really thinking about the person in question sometimes. Also, though, it's said that a little bit of a mob mentality can get people feeling kind of "high" when they get together and talk about someone else.
This kind of situation is so common in organized religion. Anyone who spreads false rumors is called a hypocrite if I remember childhood teaching correctly. People go to church on Sunday to make themselves feel better, look better and to compare clothing, status and personal belongings. The unnamed leader of the pack will pick a target and attack because that's what they do in their life outside of church too. They are bullies. The rest of the flock just follows and that's what you are unfortunately experiencing. Why do you think they call a congregation a flock? Because they inherently follow a leader. I could go on but that's a "hub" for another time.
I confront bullies and liars head on with a vengeance and don't let it rest until they admit what they said wasn't true. I don't confront one on one either. I do it when there's a group of people around so it has the best impact and hopefully the person learns their lesson and doesn't do it to someone else. At the very least they won't do it you ever again.
There's also this, which I personally REALLY like and you may too: "There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." Proverbs 6:16-19
Looks like this situation is hitting 4 out of 7. Not very good odds for them!
It doesn't matter what church you go to, there's always going to be a "mean girl" in the group. It's just human nature.
Good luck, I really hope you are able to get through this and get it straightened out.
If you heard the false rumor from your friend, just be honest and be yourself. You have not yet done anything, so you should not be afraid.
It's mind over matter - I don't mind and they don't matter.
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