Vineyard USA, a Christian denomination, has called for an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct, narcissism, and spiritual abuse against Alan Scott, the leader of a breakaway congregation in Anaheim, California.
Scott’s church, previously affiliated with Vineyard, left the denomination in 2022. Former members have sued for fraud, claiming Scott misrepresented his relationship with Vineyard to control church assets.
A recent independent investigation by a UK branch of Vineyard found evidence of manipulation, narcissistic behavior, and spiritual abuse. Vineyard USA supports the findings and is urging current and former board members to fulfill their responsibilities. The investigation revealed a culture of honor, manipulation, and competition for church statistics under Scott’s leadership.
Despite the allegations, a court dismissed the fraud suit against Scott’s church on grounds of church autonomy, but former members have been invited to revise and resubmit their case. Scott has not publicly responded to the accusations.
Christianity Today reports:
Some former members of the church, which is now called Dwelling Place, have sued for fraud, claiming Scott misrepresented his relationship to the Vineyard in an attempt to seize control of $62 million of church assets. The building is debt free and sits on more than five acres zoned for commercial use in Orange County.
Scott also may have been reacting to efforts to reorganize the Vineyard to provide more oversight and accountability. National director Jay Pathak, who took over in January 2022, had dinner with the Scotts to tell them about the direction he wanted to take the denomination—and ask them to play a role in increasing oversight—right before they announced their exit.
The turmoil from the separation prompted a number of people who worked under Scott at his previous church in Northern Ireland to come forward with complaints. The first was Luke Martin, host of a podcast exploring questions about the Christian life. He interned at Causeway Coast Vineyard as a teenager.
“It was okay as long as you were going along with what the leader was saying,” Martin recalled. “But as soon as you started to have doubts, which I did, about what he was saying, then that wasn’t appreciated. At best, you were told, ‘You’re not in touch with the Holy Spirit.’ … At worst, you were told you were working for the Devil. Literally.”
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