The Fallout of Spiritual Abuse on Our Children

Children Harmed by Spiritual Abuse

 

12285694_10153262502433359_276941927_n

Yesterday, I was talking with my programming language tutor and mentioned that I had a blog. He asked what my blog was about and I told him the long story. He was absolutely dumbfounded by what he was hearing and kept shaking his head, not wanting to believe it, even asking me repeatedly, “really . . . . really?” Yes, really. As we spoke, he searched the name of my blog on his cell phone, half listening, half reading, and shook his head some more.

I told him a few personal experiences we had at BGBC. We continued more of the conversation today. He told me he was so disturbed by the story, that he told two of his friends last night. I was struck by this young man and his image of Christ and Christianity. He’s in his twenties, yet he had such a great understanding of what Christianity is, what church is, what the role of a pastor is. He has such a healthy understanding of good churches vs bad churches.

I thought about my kids – how they might not be able to see so clearly and discern. I thought about how spiritual abuse has affected my kids, how their spiritual walk has been tainted. One adult child has abandoned her faith because she was so profoundly spiritually abused. She was not only spiritually abused at church, but also at home as we instilled some of the pastor’s teachings in our home and in the raising of our children. We had no idea what we were doing. We thought we were doing the best for our children. We just wanted our children to have the best spiritual foundation. We didn’t want to make the same mistakes our parents had made. Instead, we did far worse, we brought our family to a cult.

Some of my kids have had distorted images of God. Some have seen Him as an angry God, a God of rules – it’s all about sin and if you can make it to heaven. Others have challenges with male/female gender roles, and are trying to navigate what they have previously been taught, and now what their parents are telling them.

In our spiritually abusive church, we were told what to believe and to not question the pastor’s authority. Now I share what I believe with my children, but I also tell them that it’s important for them to read Scripture for themselves, and ask others and God to reveal truth to them. I’ve told them that they have to come to their own conclusions and that while I can share what I believe, it’s important that they own their beliefs.

Essentially, what I am doing is giving them permission to have different beliefs than me. Whoa! That never would have happened BC (before cult). There was no other option for them, but to believe like we believed. Can you say mini-cult?

Their “child-like faith” has been robbed by a domineering Pharisaical abusive pastor and also their parents to some degree. There is still some spiritual confusion that comes to surface some 8 years after we left the cult church. It’s difficult to erase the old teachings we heard over and over again. Every once in a while, I will hear one of the kids say something and will say to myself, “that sounds just like Chuck.” I then try to discuss the topic.

Even our youngest children, who were too young to understand what happened, feel the residual effects. They see and hear the confusion. There is not unity in the family about certain spiritual matters. In fact, to talk of anything spiritual at all is difficult. Family prayer is awkward. Where spiritually once was a glue that I thought held our family together, it no longer is. But because there are known differences of opinion, for the most part, we agree to disagree and simply don’t discuss those sensitive topics.

This is something that breaks my heart. I would never have envisioned my family to be like this. So, it’s been a grieving process for me.

Discussion: for those of you who have left a spiritually abusive church, how were your children affected? Have you had challenges like our family? What has helped? What has not helped?

 

 

 

 

44 comments on “The Fallout of Spiritual Abuse on Our Children

  1. The only thing that helps me is to be mean, nasty, and cynical toward those who are abusive, and to openly mock cult leaders and con artists and ridicule their manipulation tactics with blatant disregard for my own well-being. My anonymity is never more than a hair’s breadth from being stripped away by people who desperately want to bully and coerce all criticism into deathly silence.

    If I didn’t feel obligated to protect my parent’s reputations, I would post under my own name and damn the consequences. I would follow in the footsteps of Sam Harris and openly attack all religious con artists and abusers.

    Religion should never be a weapon or a prison. If your religion is not a means to free yourself from the shackles of the world you live in, then you’ve been taught wrong. Think for yourself. Never let anyone tell you how or what to think, and never buy into a situation that you can’t simply walk away from.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sadly, Dash, there are millions of children being brought up in homes that preach the doctrine of Hell and original sin — two concepts that are ingrained in their minds from the beginning. If those two concepts aren’t platforms for emotional abuse, I don’t know what would be. People who are consistently told they are unworthy, unclean, and basically worthless without (a) god can never really grasp what a healthy self-concept even looks like.

    Children aren’t born into a political party – it is expected they will choose for themselves, yet many parents don’t even give spiritual brainwashing a second thought. It’s an insidious concept and a tradition that needs to be held under the microscope of inquiring and progressive minds.

    Like

  3. I lead my family out of a legalistic efree church 4 years ago. Based on my youth group years that were spiritually abusive,I would categorize myself as a non-theistic Christian. My two oldest children would probably say they are agnostic and my wife and youngest son are still beleivers. It has been liberating and stressful leaving the old church once you realize how much of a lie you were living to fit in. I am finally over the anger and at peace but wish I had grown up in the Lutheran church we now attend so I wouldn’t be so messed up todday.

    Like

  4. It is midnight here. A dear friend just left our house after we spent four hours talking about this matter of hell.

    She showed me one of her Facebook friends’ statuses which had a quote from Francis Chan’s book titled Erasing Hell.

    Her words, “there’s something not right with this quote”.

    I said, “correct. Read Acts 17… Paul (an apostle) not once mentions an eternal torture pit called hell. If it were as bad as FC says it is you would think Paul would have raised the issue there and then.

    Preston Sprinkle (who essentially wrote the book ‘with’ Francis Chan), no longer believes in eternal conscious torment (hell).

    I no longer believe in a torture pit. I don’t see it in Scripture. We are taught to see it there but when you stand back and really look… I don’t believe it’s there.

    Religion can do this.

    “For God so loved the world…”

    “Love conquers all”

    Discussion: for those of you who have left a spiritually abusive church, how were your children affected? Have you had challenges like our family? What has helped? What has not helped?

    My eldest son thinks church is a place you go

    I’m teaching him the church is a spiritual people God is assembling and he uses us to love hurting people and point them to Him.

    My challenge has been in explaining to family members who aren’t believers why we had a change of view and apologising for being Pharisees.

    Like Dash, I use wit and sarcasm to get me through.

    I hate men who act in Jesus’ name, charging sheep money to ‘unlock the mysteries of the Scriptures’ for only $29.95 if you buy this book/sermon/tape.

    Pfft.

    If I had to throw stones… I’d be throwing them as religious men.

    (And I feel the Lord might turn a blind eye)

    … After all, if hell is real, an angry God is quite happy to torture such men for all time.

    Why wait?

    (Joking 😊👍)

    Ps. Coming away from this mess… I do this thing with my kids now.

    “Guess how much I love you??”

    My kids open their arms wide as if to say, “soooo much”.

    Then I say… “And you know who loves you even more than that?!!”

    “Yeah… God does”.

    That’s all they need to know.

    We love them.

    God help us.

    Like

  5. I grew up Catholic and so did my husband, so we never really could buy into total immersion in the church we ended up at. So we, and my only child Victoria, were outsiders to the “inner circle”, and that’s a blessing. But we started going there when she was four, and couldn’t bond with the kids there because she was not a pastor’s kid or homeschooled or indoctrinated into the church practices. She gravitated towards adults and older kids, and that wasn’t really acceptable and the fact that she was a girl meant that she and I were always crossing unspoken boundaries. She was going to a Christian camp for two summers, and when she tried to pull back her presence at church functions (she was doing the typical high school things), they started a bullying campaign, they tormented her online, made up rumors, and called her friends and teachers. This was during puberty, and lots of medical problems surfaced: SVT, migraines, leg cramps, hormonal difficulties, stomach problems, food allergies and severe anxiety.

    When the church leadership started proceedings to oust her from the church, she had a mental breakdown, and then got mad. She called one elder and yelled at him for two hours. I actually felt sorry for him, she was quoting scripture and defending us and criticizing all the legalism. She ran into some of these kids over the past six years, and we are concerned for her safety. She seems to have gotten over this, but to be honest I don’t know if I ever will get over it. They tried to tear apart our family. I don’t know if she still believes in God, or truly how she pictures Him now. I took a year’s sabbatical and now go to an American Baptist church. They have been to the church three times, but I will never ask again what they believe, it would be pushy and presumptuous for me to offer my help. God will call when He is ready.

    Like

  6. Thanks for being honest and open about your part in this – that takes strength. It must be incredibly hard to watch the consequences of ignorance unfold in your children’s lives. It sounds like you’re doing your best to make amends.
    This one hits a little close to home.

    Like

  7. My son was 17 when his single mom was excommunicated from a reformed, EFCA, and now official “9 Marks” church (for “slandering the elders”, something I have never done. I simply disagreed with the elders). That process was cruel, slanderous, and isolating. My very brave son, now 21, took the initiative to research what had transpired, and without my knowledge, met with the elders. When he spoke to me about his meeting, he was distressed about something: “Mom, they say they pray for you every day. Do you think they do that, Mom?” All I could say was that I did not know. But I asked him if he had seen anyone from the church inquire about our needs or well-being, or come alongside to help in any tangible way with some dire financial and property issues I had to deal with. (A resounding “no”). I also pointed out that even if they had been justified in their treatment of me, did he think that extending it to an innocent minor child was Christ-like? I didn’t ask him about details of the meeting, but I did ask if he still thought well of me. His response? “I’ve never respected you more, Mom.”

    Truth has a beautiful way of rising to the surface. Now my son has his own journey to follow to discover Christ. And I trust Christ with him more than a youth group, a sham baptism, or a coerced confession of faith.

    I don’t normally include this info in posts, but now it seems appropriate. Feel free to delete: my former church is Cornerstone Community Church, Atascadero, California, an Evangelical Free Church of America (the EFCA designation means there is no accountability beyond the elder board).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “The only thing that helps me is to be mean, nasty, and cynical toward those who are abusive, and to openly mock cult leaders and con artists and ridicule their manipulation tactics with blatant disregard for my own well-being.”

    Wow that sounds a lot like what Jesus did!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “She was going to a Christian camp for two summers, and when she tried to pull back her presence at church functions (she was doing the typical high school things), they started a bullying campaign, they tormented her online, made up rumors…”

    So sorry to hear what your daughter and family went through. On a lesser scale, our teenage daughter went through a similar trial when my wife and she started pulling back from their Christian homeschooling group: the nice prim girls there started a rumor that she’d carried on an affair with a man twice her age and gotten an abortion. Nasty, hateful little things, those Christian homeschooled girls–looked all proper on the outside, though.

    By the way, we’re Christians and most definitely have not abandoned our faith in anything except that which people like to call the “Church”, but which we believe is not generally representative of Jesus anymore. I use “Christian” with regard to the above activities in the nominal sense only, I sincerely doubt that many of those girls or the families and group that taught taught them to be so vindictive are Christian in any meaningful sense.

    Like

  10. I know how difficult this has been for you. All I can say is keep doing what you’re doing. Have conversations and let them know that you love them.

    They may continue to believe some of the abusive things that were taught because it came during a formative time of their lives. Keep on talking, keep on loving.

    They may abandon it all because they have decided they want to go a totally different direction in their thinking. Keep on talking, keep on loving.

    They may come back around and find the God of love that was always meant to be believed. Keep on talking, keep on loving.

    Like

  11. My family has left a couple of churches we felt were spiritually abusive, but thankfully our children seem to have weathered it pretty well. I remember being pretty proud of my oldest when she told me that her Sunday School teacher had tried to teach her that the wine Jesus made wasn’t real wine, and that she just ignored that.

    The biggest harm that was apparent was that they didn’t get to participate in normal church life for a time. In the life of others at those churches, it was brutal–I remember noticing that a church that claimed 800 “conversions” in the past 20 years of VBS had only three attendees between the ages of 18 and 40. Another was renowned for being the church people left to go to the saner church in town. No kidding; person after person would say “one week we visited CCC and we both looked at each other and said ‘I’m not going back to GBC’.”

    Me, I’ve got a touch of lingering resentment from pieces of how I was treated, but mostly I just joke that my former pastor (a militant teetotaler) drove me to drink.

    (not heavily, mind you, more or less joining Christ at Cana to celebrate God’s good gift of wine)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “Guess how much I love you??”

    My kids open their arms wide as if to say, “soooo much”.

    Then I say… “And you know who loves you even more than that?!!”

    “Yeah… God does”.

    Oh, that’s funny, I do something different. When I tuck my little guy in, sometimes I tell him, “Do you know how much God loves you? As far as the east and the west and as far as the north and south, and it keeps going!”

    The aspect of a kind, merciful, loving God was absent from our cult church. It was always paired with something about the cross, our sin, etc. There needs to be both.

    Like

  13. Both my girls have been adversely affected by all this. They still go to the oppressive, abusive church with their oppressive abusive father. Although my younger daughter is alternating between going there and coming with me to a non denominational, egalitaritarian church that we all used to go to as a family before we moved (due to the ex’s abuse of me) to the abusive church. Basically I am doing damage control with a lot of prayers. The younger one sees the injustice toward women at the abusive church so that is good. It is a lot to sort through and I know there is a reason that all 3 of us went through this. God is in control (not these abusers, although they THINK they are) and will use all this for His good purposes. It has schooled me in evil and paved the way for my ministry and destiny in life. As for my girls, I pray they come out of the fog of abuse and make sense of what the true, liberating Gospel of our Lord Jesus is. You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. This includes freedom to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. Jesus has to do the freeing.

    Like

  14. “Me, I’ve got a touch of lingering resentment from pieces of how I was treated, but mostly I just joke that my former pastor (a militant teetotaler) drove me to drink.

    (not heavily, mind you, more or less joining Christ at Cana to celebrate God’s good gift of wine)”

    ……………………………………………………………..

    On a not-so-funny note, going through three cults masquerading as Christian churches in 10 years did drive me to drinking and nascent alcoholism. I am now, I think, clear of it, though it gives me pause to understand that under certain circumstances, I, too, can become a substance abuser. Bad churches kill.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. “When the church leadership started proceedings to oust her from the church, she had a mental breakdown, and then got mad. She called one elder and yelled at him for two hours. I actually felt sorry for him…”
    ………………………………………….

    Don’t, he probably has one heck of a lot more coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. @Bike Bubba

    I remember being pretty proud of my oldest when she told me that her Sunday School teacher had tried to teach her that the wine Jesus made wasn’t real wine, and that she just ignored that.

    What is the deal with this teaching? My former cult started teaching the same thing several years ago, and it’s just bizarre. If you don’t believe in drinking that’s fine. Just don’t make up stuff about the wine of antiquity being lacto-fermented grape juice to justify it. People got drunk back then, too.

    Like

  17. @Truth Detector

    On a not-so-funny note, going through three cults masquerading as Christian churches in 10 years did drive me to drinking and nascent alcoholism.

    My husband went through something similar. He’s better now. Yes, “bad churches kill.”

    The worst effect on my kids is that they lost all social contacts instantly. I’m not sure my oldest daughter misses it though. She found the leaders daughters to be very cliquish and stuck up. She never felt wanted, so I think she’s fine hanging out with her family that does love her.

    Like

  18. TD: sorry to see that there was some reality for you in what I said. I am well aware that abuse can lead to substance abuse, as I saw it in fellow employees at a former employer. Not pretty.

    BTDT: the history of alcohol in the American church is complex, but my hunch is that the problem started when farmers took their crop in liquid form down to New Orleans on a flatboat–boredom and time leading to abuse. Most Protestant churches in the 1800s eventually joined the Prohibition bandwagon, and what my daughter heard is simply an attempt to put a theological shine on an understandable reaction to farmers drinking away the family fortune and drowning in the Big Muddy.

    Like

  19. Second Generation Adults (those adults, mostly young adults) who have survived being raised in abusive churches and cults, etc., have the amazing, perplexing qualities of being terribly self-critical and insecure on the one hand, and yet astoundingly resilient and competent on the other! I try to keep those two frequently found truths in mind as I relate to my dear daughters. At my worst, I slip into relating styles and manners that were prevalent in the abusive church–and that really hurts the entire family. At my best, (I hope) I provide a living, breathing example of a forgiven, loved father who stumbles through each day amazed and grateful that my family has forgiven me, and loves me so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. PS. While I realize that when a parent leaves an abusive church, just getting your own head on straight is a full-time job, once you’re able to start advocating and encouraging healing in the kids… here are some resources/information, etc., on the experience of SGAs that will help a parent get his/her feet wet regarding the issues of childrens’ recovery post cult/abusive church experience…
    http://www.icsahome.com/system/app/pages/search?scope=search-site&q=second+generation+adults

    Like

  21. “What is the deal with this teaching? My former cult started teaching the same thing several years ago, and it’s just bizarre. If you don’t believe in drinking that’s fine. Just don’t make up stuff about the wine of antiquity being lacto-fermented grape juice to justify it. People got drunk back then, too.”
    ……………………………………………………………………………………

    That teaching also makes the parable of the wineskins incoherent. As a general rule, when people teach that which renders absurd a parable of our Lord, I tend to think the problem is with the people, not our Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. “BTDT: the history of alcohol in the American church is complex, but my hunch is that the problem started when farmers took their crop in liquid form down to New Orleans on a flatboat–boredom and time leading to abuse. Most Protestant churches in the 1800s eventually joined the Prohibition bandwagon, and what my daughter heard is simply an attempt to put a theological shine on an understandable reaction to farmers drinking away the family fortune and drowning in the Big Muddy.”
    ……………………………………………………………………….

    Well put, people like Billy Sunday, who should’ve known better, almost made a fetish of prohibition. Jesus is good enough standing alone, He doesn’t need temperance or Moses leadership models or umbrellas or homeschooling or big families or anything. He’s Lord and God, anyone who makes their life “Jesus and…” is headed for serious destruction.

    Like

  23. I’m going to leave the alcohol discussion here with a simple, hopefully gracious, parting shot or two; it’s easy to, like Sunday, confuse a dominant cultural view with the Bible, and in Sunday’s case, I would guess it has a lot to do with how easy it is to get drunk on hard liquor. It can be hard to separate the perceived hazards of the day from what the Scripture says, no?

    But back to the topic, I hope, I was thinking a bit while I drove to work about how it’s interesting that some people respond to stress immediately with some form of PTSD, some seem to come through without any ill effects, and some it shows up quite a bit later. Saw an interesting article in the paper a few weeks ago about how many veterans are finding that intense exercise can help them cope.

    Like

  24. JulieAnn, my heart goes out to you. Every one of us who weathered an abusive church while raising children has some of this pain. How could we not? And it seems the sincere have the worst of it.

    My own children had a rough time, 2 of them rebelled pretty severely once they were old enough to do what they wanted to, and unfortunately made some bad decisions they’ve had to live with for the rest of their lives. The ironic thing is that was a big part of what I was trying to protect them from. My methods learned from abusive churches and so-called Christian leaders were of the flesh and fell apart like a house of cards. In the course of it I learned so much about myself, how I’d been acting out of fear, not faith, not trust. I had been so naive, so foolish.

    They and I both learned so much. It took time to rebuild our relationships. In time, I came to them in humility and apologized for the mistakes I made and asked to hear their thoughts, and listened offering only empathy. It’s painful to hear what your mistakes felt like from the other party, it is dark and painful and humiliating, but I feel like this is a necessary penance I bear gladly in order to live in reality and truth. I offer them my unconditional love and support and loyalty now and no one will ever dissuade me from that again. My kids are all walking with God today and I’m so proud of the people they are. The years have slid past, my kids are approaching 40, and every so often I tell them again how sorry I am for specific things I said or did that I now see as wrong and why. We have some great talks about spiritual things.

    I have come to see that there are 2 ways of life- one is a way of control and the other is the way of love. We can seek to control (and that includes overprotecting) or we can love and trust and believe. I believe God’s way is the second way but many churches follow the first.

    Like

  25. I went to a church that taught the grape juice thing. It’s an attempt to force the scriptures to support abstinence from alcohol, because of course the first question when they say alcohol is a sin is, why then did Jesus turn the water into wine? It comes down to the fact that they do not trust that the people are capable of managing alcohol, they do not believe the Holy Spirit and the scriptures are sufficient to guide people into living lives that honor Christ. The pastor thinks it’s his job to control these people into what he sees as the right way of living and he does what he thinks will accomplish it, even if it means a little dishonesty. I had one pastor tell me he knew the scriptures did not teach that but that if he taught that alcohol was okay, he knew people would become alcoholics. Because we all know that everyone who doesn’t believe that is an alcoholic, right?

    So much that is done in the name of Christ is done through FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of contamination, fear of loss of control.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. The spiritual abuse my kid and I have suffered has been a little different.

    At church it tended to be second-hand. There were some unhealthy, unbiblical doctrines taught as absolutes, things like complementarianism, elder-led decision making, eternal submission of the Son. None of that was wielded at us personally, but it was oppressive (although I didn’t recognize it at the time).

    Then there was hip, infant church with the Angry Young Pastor at its head and four-fold growth in one year alone. Bad doctrine was built upon, from a foundation of hardcore five-point Calvinism, and grew to include things like no one but the pastor and his best friend were allowed to be part of the decision-making process, no one had better have a problem with that, ESPECIALLY if one were female. There were mean-spirited jokes about outsiders (who turned out to be insiders who dared to question, I learned later), and a great deal of macho posturing. There was a long, loooooong, uncomfortable sermon series on sex that left me squirming in my seat often, saw me leave the building occasionally. One especially insidious teaching was that women and girls must look feminine (hot, if possible, although only to their husbands of course, wink-wink), with a very narrow definition of what feminine looked like. My kids were still youngish, so mostly weren’t aware (with one notable exception, which I’ll get into below), and I managed to steer clear of trouble mostly because I was very much a people pleaser. I had some big questions and strong disagreements, but I kept them between myself and my then-husband.

    At home, the problem was my husband, who was very subtly abusive. In spiritual matters, he reinforced doctrines that kept the kids and me feeling inadequate, unworthy, and insecure, especially espousing the idea that that we all owed him unconditional respect. He played mind games with my oldest daughter (Witch Hazel here) and me, seeming to agree with our concerns one moment, then shaming us for having them the next. He was a subtle tyrant who convinced me that all the gaslighting, emotional abuse, all the ways he worked to keep me off balance, were for the love of God and us.

    Throw in there that we were homeschoolers. I never swam into the deep end of patriarchy or purity culture, thank God. My generally questioning mind, strong will-edness, and lack of fear to be different helped. But I did buy into varying degrees of stuff that I now wholly repudiate.

    When I separated two years ago, then ended my marriage last year, my kids and I continued to attend church for awhile. Our last church had actually supported us against his lies and misrepresentations, and even contributed financially a bit. But after a few months of freedom we suddenly seemed to find that we couldn’t take it any more – it was a decent church, but it was carried all the baggage of Evangelicalism. Following Witch Hazel’s lead, the rest of us dropped out.

    Since then I’ve worked very hard, both rethinking a lot of what I’ve been taught and believed. The kids and I continue to talk things through a lot, from theology, to social justice to Bible translation. My goal has been to allow them whatever they need, age-appropriately, to figure out where they stand with God. Because it’s what we need at this point in our lives, we don’t pray before meals, we say “God” instead of “the Lord,” we avoid CCM, sappy Facebook memes, and even Bible reading for the time being.

    Witch Hazel has a great deal of anger at the church. That started at our first home church, with generally well-meaning adults who didn’t understand her intense, easily-overstimulated, logical, brilliant heart, and didn’t often try very hard. Then at the Angry Young Church, she learned that her clothing and makeup preferences (none on the makeup) meant she wasn’t feminine; her 12-13 year old heart figured that must mean she was gay…but she didn’t feel gay…and if she had, there wouldn’t have been a place there for her. She’s easily triggered by many Christian traditions, so we work on keeping her feeling safe.

    My middle daughter is 15, and struggles more with wondering what she can trust, if what mom taught her all her life isn’t all exactly accurate. She deals with some intense mental health challenges that make the lack of certainty very difficult for her, but her incredibly strong will, combined with the love of me and her siblings, will keep seeing her through.

    My youngest is 13. He has a deep, but private, faith. The externals don’t matter much to him except inasmuch as he abhors boredom. By some miracle, all he’s witnessed hasn’t soured him toward God, either.

    We have found a smallish Episcopal church where we all feel mostly comfortable. But if one of the kids doesn’t want to go, it’s no big deal. If I’m too exhausted, or just don’t feel like being around people, I don’t go. It’s a place that greatly values acceptance and real grace, so even if I’m not sure I agree with all the teachings, I feel positive about being there with others who are actively seeking God. I’ve got an amazing relationship with each of my kids, and they with each other, overall. I’m so thankful, even as hard as it all has been and continues to be.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I just want to say that I so honor and respect and love you. You are so true to who you are – or should I say to who you have become, which is who you were born to be, no matter how hard some people tried to corrupt you, your heart, and your thinking.

    For me, love and the Golden Rule are my religion. It’s so simple: just treat others as you want to be treated… with love, compassion, and respect, and things usually go pretty well with that simple approach.

    The only people who seem to hate this approach (also called “atheism” by some) are those who are taught by a great man who lived long ago to love everyone, including their “enemies.”

    I don’t understand why many religious people see atheists as an enemy, but I sure don’t think that Jesus would approve.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. @Shy1:

    I went to a church that taught the grape juice thing.

    Know how that started, Shy?
    REVEREND Welch.
    As in “Welch’s Grape Juice”.
    Welch was the first man to figure out how to pasteurize and bottle grape juice so it would keep without fermentation. He was also a major player in the Temperance (i.e. Prohibition) Movement, preaching against Demon Rum from his pulpit. If you wanted to avoid the Devil’s wine while still having Communion under both species, you HAD to buy Welch’s Grape Juice from REVEREND Welch.
    (Sound of cash register….)

    Liked by 1 person

  29. @TruthDetector:

    Well put, people like Billy Sunday, who should’ve known better, almost made a fetish of prohibition.

    Billy Sunday was also a recovering alcoholic. My guess is he had a bad case of “I had Problem X, so everybody else MUST also have Problem X.” And/or was trying to self-treat his own addictive cravings with a BIG dose of “Thou Shalt Not” emotional frenzy. (Like Rush Limbaugh, Number One Fanboy of the War on Drugs while fighting a secret Oxycontin addiction.)

    Liked by 1 person

  30. OK, breaking my promise, sorry, but the evidence that Sunday was an alcoholic is thin and/or debated; he noted that while playing baseball, he’d only been drunk a few times, but most times would drink lemonade when socializing. It is true that Welch was indeed a prohibitionist, however.

    All about money? You could make a big debate about that; Sunday, for his part, did continue the kerosene lamp circuit long after his star had faded, and long after he’d made a fortune ($250/sermon, about $5k/sermon today) for himself.

    Heeding my promise to try and be on topic (JA can lash me with a wet noodle if need be), it strikes me that the kind of logic that can torpedo the obvious implications of passages like John 2 is indeed one of the most dangerous after-effects of an abusive, or just silly, church. Not armed with the logical and linguistic tools to properly look at Scripture, the abused is going to wonder what truth is.

    Like

  31. Persephone, you’ve had such a difficult journey, but I see hope in your children’s future. I think the relationship you have with your kids is the most important thing ever. I find it much easier to talk with my children about spiritual matters as they encounter life and it’s ups and downs. Right before bed is a good time or in the car driving. We cannot lose hope even though what we left behind was bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I had one pastor tell me he knew the scriptures did not teach that but that if he taught that alcohol was okay, he knew people would become alcoholics. Because we all know that everyone who doesn’t believe that is an alcoholic, right?
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    I’d rather be an alcoholic throwing up on himself than a prim Pharisee sitting in a pew.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. In every respect, whether good, bad or indifferent, alcohol is a perfect metaphor for organized church. Conversely, organized church is a perfect metaphor for alcohol.

    Like

  34. Actually there are some that believe that “religiousity” (or “religiosity”) IS an addiction like alcoholism or gambling or being a shopaholic. Look it up!!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I absolutely believe that religiosity can be an addiction. When someone spends an exorbitant amount of time filling their head with religion, but neglects their family and relationships, it very well might be an addiction. The difficult part about this is the addictive person gets to justify their behavior because it is “personal devotions.” They often are very highly respected in the church because of their knowledge, but their home is in shambles.

    Liked by 3 people

  36. JA, I am amazed at your humility and transparency both here and with your children. I come from the other side of the issue. I grew up with very high society drinking parents. Church was also a Southern social event. When I went away to college, I encountered Christ. However, at the same time my parents got involved with a very fundementalist crowd and suddenly the rules changed.
    I was unable to relate my experiences to them,because they became so narrow and rigid in their thinking. Suddenly they believed they were experts on “Biblical Thinkng” and very judgemental towards others. They believed they knew all the answers and they were richly blessed by God because of their faith. Empathy was not part of their belief system.
    Now it is 40 years later and nothing much has changed. You however seem to desire healthy relationship with your kids. They have already heard all the cliches, so now they just need a mom who will listen and love them. My mother has always wanted to appear perfect. Kids do not need a perfect parent. It sounds like you and your children are continuing your journey together. That is amazing. They don’t need (or want) a perfect mother who has all the answers. They just want to be “seen” and acknowledged as your beloved children.
    None of us are completed yet. Their past experiences are only a small part of their lives. They will call on God when they are ready to have someone greater than them to turn to. That happens at different times in life. Meanwhile, your kids have been fortunate enough to watch their mom stand up to a big bully-and win! You are kind of a David who went against Goliath. You have taught your children to stand up to injustice and think for themselves. So many kids are just taught to obey authority. That can backfire. You have taught them how to engage life, not hide from it. You don’t need to tell them anything, they are watching you. Your “mama” love for them will be their greatest example of Christ’s love.
    The empathy you hold for others who have been spiritually hurt shows them how Jesus feels about his people. Doctrine will always change and often enslave-love and empathy, now that is Christ. I know it is not always easy for you! You do a lot of juggling. I pray you will come to recognize the value of what you are doing. Our children will always have problem with life’s issues. Gender identity is now a big one, except fundie teens have to hide it and fear family rejection. Just rest in the knowledge that God placed your children in the family they are meant to have! They are very lucky to have you! So are we.

    Like

  37. As one of your children, I greatly appreciate the fact that you value our relationship above our religious differences. I am also so grateful for how you’ve handled everything with grace and honesty. I truly am proud to call you my mom. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  38. Thinking about this post days later because I’m weird like that….

    You know, you are a leader. In a world of press conference non-apologies and cover-ups, it’s not common enough to see anyone take ownership and responsibility for actions, without being forced to by discovery. You have an audience, a following here, and you’ve chosen to use it to be open and honest.

    That’s an example worth following.

    Like

  39. How were my children affected by a bad religious experience? I think one of the adverse effects was the pressure they felt from their parents to evangelize. My daughter expressed this anxiety to me many years later when she had moved out of the house. She said that growing up she had felt that it was her responsibility to witness and lead her friends to Christ. It is a burden no child should have to bear. The purpose of going to school is to get an education, not a place to preach the gospel. So many Christians think that that evangelizing is with words rather than with one’s actions.

    I think with both of our children were influenced to view the Christian faith as fear-based rather than love-based. Fear of hurting God, fear that God was angry at them, fear that they would not be faithful Christians, fear that they would be ashamed of Christ, fear that they would let their parents down….so many fears! I think such fears is what drove our son to de-convert and leave the Christian faith. Our daughter went through serious struggles but has emerged with a faith in God even though she only attends church on occasion.

    As time went by and I became free from the cult shackles, I recognized the need to take responsibility for the spiritual abuse that our children suffered. Our religious views were the cause for fear and anxiety in our children’s lives. If I could do it over, I would stress that God Is Love, Mercy and Compassion. Thankfully, I have a good relationship with both of my children, and I think it is because of the change in me and my willingness to admit my mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. You know, Julie Anne, parents beat themselves up for all sorts of reasons. It’s part of the whole package of being the adult and thinking we are doing things the right way – no matter how we choose to do that. I’m sure our own children, even though they were not brought up with “the fear of (a) god” have things they resent about their upbringing. We do our best, with the tools that we have. I think that your method(and others who’ve expressed it) – being honest and explaining the whys and wherefores – says, “I love you and want(ed) the best for you and I’m sorry”. I mean, when it comes to parenting, who really knows? It’s a wild and unpredictable ride! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s