Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stabbed in the Back By A Cult Leader (Part 2): Cease and Desist

After my my last post, in which "Pastor Jones" informed me that he took it upon himself to release details that I explicit told him were to be confidential because he felt he was "obligated Biblically"  to do so, he tried to contact me yet again on Friday, while I was at work. He came to the house, and left this in the door:


 I am deeply sorry for the misunderstanding associated with our encounter and my responsibility toward God and the church. The last thing I want is for there to be something else in the way of you coming to the truth. Please know that I care very much for you as many at Grace also do, and I would welcome an in person conversation with you.

My response, in a certified letter I sent off today:

In my last visit to your office, I explicitly stated that the only information that should be passed to the congregation is that I was resigning my membership from the church due to the fact that my beliefs had changed. I said that any further information that I told you was “not to leave this office”.

Information I have received in recent weeks leads me to believe that you have gone far beyond those limits, and your e-mail response confirmed that fact. What you did was plainly a gross breach of trust and confidence.

You claim a theological precedent for your decision to do this, yet to the best of my memory, I never recall you making your policy on such matters clear in any sermon. I highly suggest that in the near future, that you state what your policy is on people wishing to leave the congregation; I believe your members have the right to know where you stand on this.

I also clearly stated that even if I could return to Christianity (which was highly questionable at best), I could not return to a denomination as conservative as the Southern Baptist Convention, and I most certainly could not return to Grace Baptist Church.

All communications from you since that time have plainly implied that your only intention in contacting me was an attempt to bring me back to the church, and to agreement with your stances on theology (your statements on me “going astray” and worries that you have driven me farther away from “the truth” make this clear). 

That shows an appalling disrespect for me as a person, and for my decision as an adult of sound mind to leave your congregation in peace, and quite frankly, it has reached disturbing levels in its persistence.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stabbed in the Back By A Cult Leader.

Recently, I had called my sister to check on her, and as we were talking, she had informed me that my former pastor, who I call "Pastor Jones" for the sake of this post, had leaked out details to my former congregation of a conversation that I had with him, the day I had personally informed him that I was officially resigning my membership at the church, the church I had been a member at for 12 years, until I could finally break free form my abusive family

That day, he had asked why I wanted to resign my membership, so I laid it out there, told him the theological reasons, drifting away from Christianity and becoming more agnostic for lack of a better term, and finding a lot of acceptance and peace at the Unitarian church I am attending now.

Since the abuse of my past played a role in the life experiences that led me there, I told him about how I was beaten until I was about 11 years old, forced off medication for my depression,  barricaded in the house of my "parents" and threatened with violence when I tried to leave at 21 years old, and about the most recent of the abuse, "The Confrontation" , where just this past December, when I was forced to cut them out of my life, and they tried to break into my home, and nearly assaulted me in front of a police officer.

I told him, even if I could believe in Christianity again (which is a massive remote possibility), I couldn't go back to a church as conservative as that church, and I definitely could not return to that church, for my own safety. When I told him this, I explicitly told him that I expected this to be confidential, my exact words were "this should not leave this office". He never once objected to this, and I went on with the presumption that it would remain confidential.

 Unfortunately, Pastor Jones had sided with my family, used the old "honor your mother and father" line on me, doubted what I had told him about the past abuse, and tried to chalk up The Confrontation to holiday related stress, and encouraged me to reconcile with them.

Despite him doing that, I hadn't thought he would stoop that low as to stab me in the back by leaking this information out to the church, but that was the reports I was hearing from my sister. "Mrs. Sociopath" was talking to her about it, supposedly the pastor had told a deacon, who then went on to tell her this information.

After I had heard the news from my sister that he had let this information out, I was furious, I confronted "Jason", my Sunday School teacher when I was in that church about it, he works for the same company that I do, on a different shift.

He denied that Pastor Jones would have done that, and said I had no proof, it's rumors, it could have slipped out some other way, I was rather annoyed with him, defending him, and he got in a little jab about me being agnostic, said that if I considered myself a person guided by logic and reason, then instead of just believing rumors about it, I should ask him myself. I told him I would.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Sunday of Self Reflection

It's been a long two weeks for me recently, hence why the blog has been silent. A lot of hassles with trying to get my home loan, which is being resolved right now, and I have had more fatigue and pain than I have had in years. Add to that a lot of emotional whiplash from a book that is an absolutely great and profound book, but highly triggering for anyone who grew up in a fundamentalist background, and it's been a mess.

The book is the brilliant work 13:24 by M. Dolon Hickmon. An investigation into a brutal string of murders in a small town leads to all the town's dark secrets spilling out. One of the biggest secrets is a minister who openly advocates child abuse from the pulpit, and whose ideology is remarkably similar to real life fundamentalist leaders.

There were scenes were the minister's son, Josh (who later becomes a lead singer of a death metal band) was having flashbacks to the beatings his father gave him. It was so raw, so vivid, that it was giving me flashbacks, not because of the violence, but because the lines that he used were the exact same lines that were told to me as a child.

There were so many profound statements that really spoke to me through the character Josh. A friend of his asks while he is in a mental hospital due to a suicide attempt and cocaine use. His friend asks them if he wants to bring back an old band that they used to have, he said he wasn't sure about that, and his friend said he used to be passionate about the music. This was his response:

I don't have a clue what I am passionate about because my father stripped away every shred of independence. It was never enough to follow orders. He had to pry me open, to make sure I didn't have any feelings or motivations that he hadn't given me permission to have.
Then, in a scene during a group therapy session for survivors of religious abuse, he talks about why he can't believe in Christianity anymore.
"I was raised to believe that  there was a God, who loves and helps people. I believed  that, and I prayed, with the faith of a little child. God was supposed to listen; but year after year my father stood in his church, daring him to intervene. God never did a single thing. He never lifted one finger to help or comfort me" 
When a Christian woman in the group become offended by this, implying that she thought he wanted everyone to become atheists, this is what he said: 
I'm not saying that. I'm saying that we don't always get to believe what we want. Somehow we have to reconcile our desire to believe with the reality we have seen." 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Major Victory for Children In Wisconsin

In 2012, a Wisconsin pastor named Phillip Camintini was sentenced to two years in prison to followed by 6 years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit child abuse. As pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church, he would tell his members to beat children as young as two months old with wooden spoons and rods.

As a part of the sentence, the judge also told him that he could not have contact with members of his church, and could not take a leadership role in any church.

He appealed his conviction, and this past week, Wisconsin's 4th district appeals court upheld his conviction, over his claims that it violated his rights to free speech and freedom of religion. Those arguments were rejected by the court, in their ruling, they said that the state "has a compelling interest in preventing child abuse".

If only prosecutors would go after these people too.....

Micheal and Debi Pearl:

Husband and wife team who have written horrendous books on child raising, and family issues.

Some quotes from their book, To Train Up A Child can be found here:
If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.
You can read more about them in my Exposing the IFB post on them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recovering Grace Founders Speak to Christian Radio Show About Bill Gothard

I regrettably hadn't kept up with the recent news about cult leader Bill Gothard, who was coming under fire because of revelations by the Christian watchdog group Recovering Grace that he had been sexually abusing teen girls for nearly 40 years.

I hadn't updated the blog about some of the recent developments, since my last post about him, Oak Brook College of Law, an institution that he founded, officially cut ties with him and his organizations, and most importantly, Gothard has resigned from the boards of IBLP and ATI, the cornerstones of his empire.

Recently, Recovering Grace founders Dr. John Cornish and Kari Underwood, both survivors of his cult spoke to "Issues Etc." a Christian radio show in the Midwest about their time in the cult, what they saw during their time there, recent developments regarding Gothard, and their work to expose the toxic teachings of his organizations Institute of Basic Life Principles, and Advanced Training Institute.