Former NBA player Nick VanderLaan, a recent money-giving member of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, tells his story of being detained against his will and then arrested for speaking out at a meeting to question the presence of the controversial Ergun Caner.
I’ve spoken with Nick many times over this situation. I believe his version of events and was kept informed about the situation and the eventual dismissal of the charges by the prosecutor.
In my opinion, what Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa did was wrong. Very wrong. It is symptomatic of a cult-like culture that has taken root. Dissent is squashed. Ears are closed. Abuse continues…in many forms, including this situation in my opinion.
Nick shared the details with me months ago. Here’s what happened in a nutshell from my recollection of our conversations and Nick’s recounting of events:
He attended a special meeting at CCCM featuring Ergun Caner as the guest-speaker. Previous to the meeting, Nick expressed his concern to CCCM Leadership, believing he had the right and responsibility to do so as a giving member of the Church. His concerns were basically ignored.
At the meeting, Nick stood up to challenge Caner’s presence. He was non-violent and merely spoke out and spoke up. Calvary Chapel Leadership knew who he was. Nick and his family were known quantities, attended a trip to Israel with Chuck Smith, counseled with pastors there, dedicated their kid at the CCCM pulpit etc etc.
He was immediately surrounded and detained by the Calvary Chapel goon squad (my opinion, my description of the security guards and CC personnel based off of their subsequent actions).
The goon squad cuffed Nick up, took him to another part of the church, denied him bathroom and water and detained him against his will for a prolonged period of time.
Santa Ana police arrived later and arrested and charged Nick.
The ordeal took an expected toll on Nick and his family. The charges were eventually dropped by the District Attorney.
Adding insult to injury, Nick has tried many times to address the issue of both Caner and the detainment and subsequent arrest with Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Leadership…with “no attorneys”…basically Nick wanted to follow Scripture and deal with this in a Matthew 18 manner. CCCM don’t play that. Attorney Janet Carter (same attorney Chuck Smith brought to our “meeting”) was sent a request, but the infamous CC Stone Wall is up once again.
Ephesians 5:11 blog documents the full story here (very thoroughly). See the arrest report, see the letters to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, hear Nick’s testimony: