Hugh Freeze, Liberty University, and the Anatomy of Spiritual Abuse

Coach Hugh Freeze


By Julie Roys

Ostensibly Freeze came to the convocation in 2018 so he could “tell the faith family I am sorry.” Yet Mullen said the convocation was more likely a “team performance” aimed at earning the endorsement of the student body so Liberty could hire Freeze as its next head coach.

What do you do when you’re caught red-handed in a public sin?

If we follow the example of King David, we own it and say, “I have sinned against the Lord,” and accept the consequences. But too often, those caught in sin cover. They manipulate. And they deceive—even within the Christian community.

People caught in sin resort to these tactics so much that Dr. Wade Mullen, who heads the MDiv program at Capital Seminary, made the study of the tactics evangelical organizations use when facing scandals the focus of his doctoral dissertation.

Dr. Mullen joined me last week on my radio program, The Roys Report. And he explained in detail these tactics, which often involve spiritual abuse. Mullen described spiritual abuse as “an attempt by a person to use all that encompasses another person’s spiritual life—their beliefs, their faith, their experiences, their hopes” to coerce or manipulate that other person into “serving the abuser’s agenda.”

Yet Mullen said these tactics are often quite stealth and hard for those being manipulated to detect. So rather than explain these tactics in abstract terms, I asked Mullen to comment on a convocation at Liberty University, where I suspected these tactics were being used.

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