Monthly Archives: February 2013

Paul M. Johnson’s Story

Hello my name is Paul Johnson. I’ve been googling around the net looking for a place to copy/paste my IFB survivor story in hopes that it will help others overcome Religious oppression, whether it was from an IFB cult or otherwise:

First of all I apologize in advance for any curse words used in this testimony but I have only been a Christian for a few years and I am still working on expressing myself without using profanity. But until I have successfully rebuilt my vocabulary according to what I think is the will of God for me I feel that I need to use strong language to effectively communicate what I need to communicate here. So be warned. ;)

I would have to start with my parents. My mom has been in the medical field as a nurse for over twenty years. I watched her work her way from CNA to RN and she is an amazing nurse. My biological father was a welder but hasn’t been for a long time due to the fact that he has always suffered from addiction to Rum and Crack. I bring my parents into this testimony because the constant “watching my mom kick my dad out of the house hold” and “watching my dad con his way back into the household until he gets too drunk/high/violent to tolerate and gets kicked out again” cycle gave me a very early hands-on training on the subject of “Bullshit” and how to “Recognize it as soon as possible and react accordingly”.

This upbringing gave me a fantastic ability to tell when/if somebody is bullshiting me as soon as possible and know whether or not to call someone out on their bullshit or to play along depending on the level and intensity of the specific bullshit being slung in my general direction.

My family’s exposure to the bullshit of the IFB cult started with two Soul Winners knocking on our door from a church in Denver, Colorado. Because of the dysfunction in my home, the cult gave my family a sense of order that we desperately needed and we fed off of it. I was not yet properly educated in how to deal with Bullshit just yet. Cornerstone Baptist Church of Greater Denver was the name of the church.

I think i was around 5 years old when we started(or so my family has told me) but i remember a lot of it very well. My family sold out on it. Even my dad bought into it for a while. And for a time, it was good. My family started spanking me and my big sister and believe it or not I do believe in spanking…only if it is done right, but that’s another subject.

But after a while as I continued to grow and mature in the IFB church, I started to develop social problems, mostly with the pastor. You see, it turns out that I have been “gifted” with the personality being a “free-thinker”…but when you are in an IFB cult, it is a curse. I was the type of person that always went out of his way to be “just a little bit different from the crowd”. I wasn’t trying to be rebellious, I just wanted to be me. Another example, is that I never really did something because everybody else is doing it. If I did or said something, it was for a reason. This sounds like just a very small and simple thing but in a cult it is an abomination!

By the time I was a teenager, I was able to see very clearly through the bullshit in the church. Because of my free-thinking personality, the pastor always found reasons to humiliate me in front of the church. For example, if I do something as terrible as “clap my hands to the music” differently than anybody else, the preacher makes fun of me behind the pulpit! For a while the abuse just started with the Preacher making fun of me in front of the whole church every time I did something just a little bit different from the crowd and label me as a rebel. In truth I just can’t help but to be creative.

But after a while, I began to call the Preacher out on his bullshit and that literally escalated into a war!

The actual war began when Pastor Alley started a church school called Denver Baptist School(or Schools I can’t remember).

We had strict dress codes, a demerit system, and capital punishment(spanking). Now, Pastor Alley finally had a system he could use to break my free thinking behavior because now he can beat me whenever I don’t conform EXACTLY like everyone else.

Of course, I didn’t conform! I knew what he was trying to do from the start and this time I wasn’t a rebel by accident, I was a rebel on purpose and a rebel with a cause! I made a secret commitment to myself that even my family doesn’t know about and this document is the first time I have even mentioned it at all. My commitment was this: I will show preacher that he can’t break me. I will show him that beating me doesn’t work.

Now the rule at the school was that for every 25 demerits you earn, that’s 5 swats. Pastor Alley started off with a couple paint sticks attached together. Of course I broke those paint sticks. I got beaten so many times and broke so many paint sticks that he upgraded to 2x4s. But eventually Pastor Alley discovered that if you wrap the wooden 2×4 with tape that it doesn’t break so, it was a 2×4 until I finally escaped the school later on in my life.

When the Pastor finally realized that I flat out refused to conform to his religion(because I saw it for what it was: BULLSHIT), he became more violent and one time when I racked up 200 demerits, he talked my parents into giving him permission to give me one swat for every demerit. I still remember like it was yesterday. He had a large dining room oak table in his office. He had one of the men in the church hold my wrists as I was stretched out on the table and the Preacher gave me 200 swats. I screamed so loud and long that I lost my voice. You can hear my blood-boiling screams from all over the church building and the students in the hallway listened and laughed me to scorn.

The damage to my body was devastating. I couldn’t sit down for a month. I’m not sure how but the beating was so bad that it somehow effected my immune system and I was bed-ridden with the flu for a month. Usually it always takes me about a week to get over the flu but I was so damaged that it really did take a month.

This 200+swat beating took place more times that I can remember. I could have allowed my spirit to be broken but when I was recovering from my first 200 swat beating I became inspired by something.

During this terrible abusive time in my life I learned about the American Revolution and how the American colonists endured terrible abuse from the British. I learned about a man named Thomas Jefferson and how the idea that every American has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I realized that in this dark time in my life I realized that I was going to pursue my own life, my own liberty and my own happiness by never becoming the Pastor’s Bitch.

And just when I was about to give up on being an individual, Thomas Jefferson of all people, and the story of how American colonists overcame tyranny, gave me the strength and courage to overcome this situation. I finally had what I needed to continue waging my war of individuality against the man of God.

By the time I turned 16 years of age, I successfully got expelled from Pastor Alley’s school twice! And the second time, the preacher wouldn’t allow my parents to put me back in. They didn’t want to put me into public school because my parents who were slaves to the IFB cult wanted to protect me from the evil public school system. So, they home-schooled me and beat me themselves instead of having the preacher do their dirty work for them.

Around this time, my mom finally started to recognized the bullshit of the church and stopped attending. In a way my mom is a survivor of the IFB cult as well and cheers me on today for not being in it. My dad, however is still a drunk and a crack head and lives on the streets because he couldn’t get the help he needed from the church…they were two busy abusing me I guess, lol.

When I got expelled from the school a second time, I burned the school’s rule book out of celebration: I won the war! But I was put in a second Christian private school. I don’t remember the name of the second christian school but it really was a nice school but it turns out that I paid a terrible price in my victory against Pastor Alley: Because I spent so much time fighting the preacher, I never had the chance to develop the character a child needs to study. Because of that, despite the school I was in and was a really good one, I got F’s the whole time I was there and dropped out. I was put in a third private christian school and was having the same problems. My mom was too busy working and paying the bills and dealing with my drunk dad to realize what was going on with me until it was too late.

By the time I was 16 years of age, I was so traumatized from the beatings that I was stuck in permanant “rebel” mode and eventually began to go out of control. Not in a violent way, just in a character way. I did what I felt like doing and didn’t let anything hold me back. It felt good at first but I began to learn the hard way that with freedom comes responsibility to manage your freedom or you will lose it. So I started just getting up in the morning and just hang out at parks and malls and movie theaters all day and then come home late at night without telling my parents. I really was out of control…I couldn’t even control myself. I didn’t know how and it was scaring me.

Finally my mom somehow got duped by Pastor Alley into becoming involved with his church again during this time and Pastor Alley talked my mom into shipping me off to a Baptist boys home out in Brewster, Nebraska. It turned out that the IFB pastor running that boys home was so abusive that he made Pastor Alley seem like a pussy in comparison.

Now here’s where you will get a good shocker: You see, the terrible thing that I was doing that gave my mom the impression that I was out of control is that she believed at the time(and so did Pastor Alley) that going to a movie theatre was a very bad sin because it’s Hollywood!

I love art, and literature, especially in the form of movies. But the only way I can go to a movie theatre is to do some odd jobs, mow a lawn here and there and sneak away from the house and watch a movie. Of course, my parents always caught me and punished me but I didn’t care because I got to watch my movie.

One day my mom was so terrified of me watching Hollywood movies that she told me that if she ever catches me going to watch a Hollywood movie at the theatre again that she’ll throw me into a boys home.

I didn’t give a flying fuck… it wasn’t like she could stop me.

But one day I did it again and got thrown into that boys home in Nebraska for it.

And guess what movie i watched! Ice Age! (you know, the first one)

What a terrible sin! I Got thrown in a boys home for a YEAR…for watching a CARTOON!

Yeah, I say FUCK the IFB CULT!

Now, here is what happened at the boys home…all for watching a cartoon:

What’s funny is that I don’t even remember the name of the boys home. I think it was Prarie Dog Baptist Boys Home. I just remember that it was in Brewster, Nebraska (population 22).

The pastor who ran the church and the boys home there is Pastor William Reeves (We just called him Bill Reeves).

When I went to that boys home, at first, the Pastor was very nice to me, my mom, and Pastor Alley who personally drove us all the way from Denver, Colorado to Brewster, Nebraska. In fact, he was so nice that I started to label him in my mind as a wuss (that’s how nice he was).

But after my mom and Pastor Alley left, he took off his proverbial mask and showed his true colors. He discriminated against me and the other three boys in the boys home(yeah there were only four boys in the boys home including me) for the same reasons Pastor Alley did.

But how he responded was very very violent. He never sexually abused me. He never sexually abused any of the other boys(as far as I know). But he did spiritually, emotionally and physically abuse us to the point of insanity and back.

I remember him sticking a torch in one boy’s face just to get his attention. He didn’t spank us with a 2×4 like Pastor Alley…instead he used a paddle carved out of a 2×6 that he named Bertha with 1/2 inch holes drilled into it.

More times than I can count he would force me to spread out on a bed face down as he with both hands would jump up in the air and use gravity to “enhance” his swing when he swatted me and the boys…only 30 swats would cause me to not sit down for a couple weeks.

He would beat our butts us with this monster paddle that he named Bertha, then get carried away and beat our arms, heads, etc. There were times he was so violent that he would throw us boys across the room. One time he punched me in the head and knocked me out.

There were times he beat me so hard and so long that I shit and pissed myself…and then he would openly announce to everyone he could find how that I shit/pissed myself, laughed me to scorn and had everybody else laugh me to scorn as well. He did this to me more times than I could count…and then beat me for shitting/pissing myself.

He also made it very clear that if I ever attempted to expose him when I got out of the boys home that he would murder me. As you can see I’m not afraid of that son of a bitch anymore and I’ll kill his ass if he ever lays hands on me again.

I lost count how many times I went to bed with bruises all over my body. Every day I lived in paralyzing fear but I refused to brake…instead I came up with a brilliant plan: I noticed that within the IFB cult, that if somebody is called to be a missionary to a distant land or a preacher and act as if he is sold out to God and becomes a fire ball — a Billy Sunday wannabe preacher boy– that Preachers don’t abuse those people as much.

So I lied to the Preacher and convinced him that God called me to be a missionary to Russia. Pastor Bill Reeves forced all four of us boys who were conveniently called to preach, to preach 15 minutes behind his pulpit every Sunday night. I became a fire-ball preacher. I was fake but the plan worked. By the time I escaped the boys home I was the least abused boy in the boy’s home. I had the preacher cry more times than I can count as he told me that he was well pleased that I am on fire for God….if he only knew that I was BULLSHITTING HIM….hey…I learned from the best of bullshitters…and that’s IFB preachers!

Imagine: I went through all this bullshit for going to a movie theatre and watching Ice Age. Ice Age must be a very wicked movie. Charles Manson must have written the script or something, lol.

Of course when I got out of the boys home, I was having so much fun with my “called to be a missionary to Russia” smoke screen that I also convinced Pastor Alley, and everybody at his church…even my own family that I was called to go to Russia.

But when I got out, I was never officially diagnosed, but I do think that I may have suffered from a form of post traumatic stress syndrome because for the first year or so after I was out of the boys home I found myself so defensive when I even thought somebody was bullying me around that I was an abusive, violent bully until I found a way to cope with my mental scars.

When I was 17, my mom finally loosened the reigns enough when it came to religion that I was finally able to escape the IFB cult. I began to explore other religions and through the influence of an uncle of mine, I became a full blown Wiccan. I still considered myself saved, though. The doctrine of salvation according to the Bible is something I held onto. So I was a saved Witch.

I didn’t get back into Christianity again until I was 21 years of age. By then I have been a Witch for four years. By the time I was 21 I learned how to deal with bitterness and Pastor Alley began to learn from his mistakes. His church no longer exhibits cult-like behavior!

He still has his school but he no longer has spankings at his school because I convinced him that it doesn’t work. So in the end, I didn’t just win the war, but there are other kids who are not going to suffer the abuse that I did at that school because I refused to become Pastor Alley’s bitch.

I can honestly say that his church is not a cult now. And believe it or not he is fully aware of his mistakes and has actually changed. Hey, I can smell bullshit a mile away…which means that I can ALSO tell when a person has truly changed. It is because of this great change in his life that I was able to finally forgive him for what he did to me and he and I are now good friends!

He didn’t become friends with me out of an attempt to cover up his crimes. In the end, I didn’t just win the war with my arch enemy, Pastor Alley, but I also saw to it to become friends.

But Pastor Reeves and I never made peace and if there is ever a way that I can put that asshole behind bars I will. The only reason I have never taken legal action is because I live in Georgia and I can’t find Pastor Bill Reeves. It’s like he disappeared. His boys home mysteriously doesn’t exist. I really don’t know what happened to him or his boys home. Also, I have no proof. I am thinking of tricking him someday (if I can find him) into confessing/bragging about it and have it recorded on a voice recorder hidden in my shirt or something but, until then, it’s my word against his and I have no way of proving it. So until I find an opportunity to bring him to justice, He is still at large at the moment, probably abusing another minor in the name of Jesus as you read this.

Now when I became a Christian at 21 years of age(on my own terms), I did immediately go back to the IFB crowd. I didn’t understand why until when I started writing this testimony (i’m 26 years old now).  But, I guess I have been “conditioned” to default to the IFB crowd. IFB is the only form of Christianity I’ve ever known. I have spent the last five years bouncing between the IFB crowd and the Southern Baptist Crowd. As I’m writing this, I just got done leaving an IFB church again.

This last part of the testimony is sort of embarrassing but also interesting to me because it seems that even at the age of 26, I’m still finding my way back to IFB churches. I am trying to break away from it permanently, but it’s hard because the last time I broke away from an IFB church a year ago, I lost my social life in the process, because when you are part of an IFB church that exhibits cult-like behavior(which is 9 out of 10 of them) and then you leave, then they suddenly act as if you never existed.

Right now I’m in the process of building my social life again from the ground up. I have a close walk with God and that’s how I deal with my scars. Sorry for the profanity. I’m sorry if my curse words make me seem like a hypocrite but I’m a young Christian and I’m still in the process of learning to communicate without the use of profanity.

I hope this story helps/inspires any other victims out there.

My name is Paul M. Johnson and I’m an IFB cult survivor.

Nancy’s Story

I want to share with everyone a story of abuse that brought me to tears. I often cry when I read victim’s stories of abuse as they all break my heart. That said, I have never VIEWED a victim’s story where the victim took such great care to PAINT the pictures along with the story. I have to say that I held my face with both hands as the tears streamed down my face. I genuinely believe that everyone needs to watch this youtube video of Nancy’s story. It is a story of the destruction of a family as a result of the sexual abuse of her two sons. They also experienced shunning and isolation from everything and everyone that this family had ever known. It is heart-wrenching. It will leave you feeling the hurt and pain that Nancy is feeling as she learns of the sexual abuse of her two boys. PLEASE EVERYONE share this video! Let’s get it into hands that are BIGGER than the PERPS hands that are so powerful that Nancy cannot divulge his name.!!!

A Mother’s Memoirs (This is a link)

Leigh’s Story

In my book, Religion’s Cell, I talk about how the teachings in this Baptist cult affect the children in the home. I warn readers that these teachings are destructive for children and can cause anger, bitterness and resentment. When I came across Leigh’s story of physical abuse, it was heart-wrenching and eye-opening at the same time. Her story revealed how these teachings affect parents’ behavior when it comes to discipline. It also reminded me of how often I would spank my oldest as he was growing up because the church taught that we were supposed to spank consistently and for every infraction. I cried as I read this story because it made me look in the mirror at myself and see the ugly, but real truth about Fundamentalism and how it affected me too. I didn’t go to this extreme with my child, but I know I certainly gave him many a spanking. What really hit me hard was the fact that Leigh’s parents abused them emotionally and verbally and, showed no mercy. It is hard for me to fathom this, because as I see it, it is no different than torture. How can a religion teach attitudes and tactics that cause so much destruction and damage to God’s innocent ‘little ones’?. Sadly, her story is not an isolated one within this cult.

LEIGH’S STORY OF ABUSE

I was raised in First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, and attended their Christian schools. One of the most prominent memories I have as a young child is that of the “spankings ” my brothers and I received almost daily. I would have to strip from the waist down every time, lay across my parent’s bed, and get whipped with a leather belt. There was no quota for the amount of lashes, so it would last until my parents’ anger had subsided. This only worsened as we grew older. It was so extreme that when it was time for a spanking, all the windows would be closed, the CD player blaring, and our faces stuffed into a pillow and held there by my Mom or Dad’s arm or knee. They would beat us with that belt until we were black and blue and often bleeding from the welts. They showed no mercy. Often, I received two spankings for the same infraction because they said I stopped crying too quickly. I really didn’t know why I was in trouble most of the time. My mother would often misplace something, and if we didn’t locate it for her, then we received a spanking. By the time I was a teenager, these spankings were a daily occurrence. We were beaten on our backs and legs, the places where people couldn’t see the bruises and cuts.

 I am the oldest of three kids. When I was seven, my Mom started leaving me and my two brothers at home with no babysitter a couple of nights a week. My Dad worked second shift and wouldn’t get home until 12:30 a.m. My brothers were five and three. We had no phone at the time. By the time I was nine, she was going out every night with her friend, leaving as soon as she brought us home from school and didn’t return till at least 11 p.m. She was usually out until right before or after my Dad got home. By this time we did have a phone, but I did not know any number to reach my Mom at, nor was I allowed to call anyone.

 I had my first panic attack when I was ten, but my Mother and her friend decided I was trying to control them, so I was beaten severely. I would go to sleep every night only to wake up later in a panic because my Mom wasn’t home. Twice, I called a teacher or staff member from the school. They called my Mother and I received the beatings of my life. So I just learned to deal silently with the constant anxiety and panic.

 When I was 11, I had a very bad panic attack while my Dad was working and my Mom was out with her friend one Saturday night. The next Monday, my Mother spanked me for about 30 minutes in the usual way. After she was done belting me, I stood there (I hurt so bad I couldn’t sit) as she proceeded to tell me that, “I wasn’t saved because God had given her a special feeling about me.” That may not sound like a big deal, but it heightened my anxiety that much more. So every single day for the next 17 years I would beg Jesus to save me and lived in constant terror that I would go to hell. My Mom would often tell me awful things about me that she said other people saw in me. As a result, I had very few friends and, avoided adults as much as possible for fear that they too would see some deep evil in me that I wasn’t aware of.

 One of my brothers reacted to our home life with extreme anger. He was very violent to the extent of physical and verbal abuse, as well as threatening my youngest brother and I with knives. He would also get out my Dad’s gun and threaten to kill himself. All this would take place when we were alone. I remember crying every day after school because I was going to go home and my Mother was going to leave. Often we were not picked up after school until 5 or 6 because my Mom was doing something with her friend and forgot about us. I made the dinners for myself and my brothers almost every night. My Mother’s friend did not like me, and led my Mother to believe that I did not respect her, so, my Mother let me know when I was in high school that she couldn’t stand me. So up until about 6 months ago, my sole purpose was to make Mother happy and maybe like me. But nothing I could do ever made that happen.

 As a teenager, my Mother constantly compared me to the Pastor’s grand-daughter. She daily informed me that I could never be as pretty or as talented or as friendly or as neat or as perfect as this other girl apparently was. In High school, one of my teachers tried to get real close to me. He was tutoring me a couple of days every week after school. He seemed genuinely concerned about my grades, and my parents couldn’t have cared less, so I took his tutoring offer. He began to write me very personal letters and bought me several gifts which I promptly buried at the bottom of my locker. He was very close and personal and “touchy” during tutoring, so I made up an excuse to get out of the class, but it didn’t slow him down. By my senior year, I went to great lengths to avoid being seen by him. I didn’t even tell my best friend about all this as I thought that it was somehow my fault. I lived in great fear of someone finding out about it and I would be sent to some school for rebellious girls. The physical abuse stopped my senior year of high school when one of my brothers threatened to call the police if my parents ever spanked us again, but the emotional and verbal abuse continued until recently when my husband moved our family far away from my parents. They still claim to have raised us in the greatest church and schools in the whole world. But we all know better than that.

My heart aches for these children and what they have endured. My prayer is that somehow, God can heal their broken and wounded spirits quickly. Physical, emotional and spiritual abuse has far reaching tentacles. The trauma can last for many years as they try to find a way to cope with all the awful memories, triggers, flashbacks, panic attacks and more. Let’s work to expose the abuses that are hidden under the “mantle of righteous” that religion cloaks itself in and shed light on the reality that unimaginable abuses are lurking under that mantle.

Kim’s Story

This story is being shared by permission from another blog, chucklestravels. This is a sad testimony. However, it shows the mentality that is being bred in many IFB churches across this country. This mentality punishes the victim in all circumstances while protecting the abusers. This is the same mentality that we find in other non-Christian countries. It is not new. It has permeated every aspect of societies and cultures worldwide.

Kim | November 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm
“I was raised IFB – my family lived and breathed it. My mother graduated from Bob Jones University All of my aunts and uncles attended Bob Jones University. My grand-father is a well-known IFB pastor who is also a graduate of Bob Jones University. I was never given a choice. From elementary school, I KNEW I would attend BJU, or be literally kicked out of the family on my ear. My father was accused of sexually molesting little girls while in my grand-father’s church in Pennsylvania. We were packed up and moved in the middle of the night to Tennessee. My grand-father had made the connection to this other church. The pastor friend of my grand-father was another Bob Jones University ‘preacher-boy’ graduate. My grand-father didn’t believe my father was molesting the little girls. Unfortunately my father didn’t stop. My father molested me and my little sister too.

The first time I tried to tell, my mother first began to sob. Then she called my grand-father. He told my mother not to go to the police, (because those evil police and social workers will come out and investigate our home), but to call our pastor in Tennessee. My grand-father told my mother our pastor “would handle it.” My mother did call the pastor. My mother took me over to the church to talk to the preacher.

When I started to try to tell my pastor and his wife, that my father had been molesting me since I was 3 or 4, he STOPPED me! The pastor friend of my grand-father said, “Don’;t tell me. I don’t want to hear it! If you tell me, then I am required to call the police and report this. You don’t want your daddy going to prison over a misunderstanding, do you?”

I was 14. I loved my dad. I was confused. I told the pastor that I didn’t want my dad to go to jail, but I didn’t want him touching me anymore. The pastor friend of my grand-father then told both myself and my mother he had spoken with my grand-father. My grand-father was flying down. The two of them would speak with my dad. I was promised, “You need to trust us, God won’t let your daddy touch you again.”

Grandpop did fly in, I was in the Christian School associated with the church. When my grandfather showed up, he took me out of school to go to lunch. He asked what my father had done. I told my grandfather. My grandfather told me that he thought I had misunderstood my dad’s “loving on his daughter” with “evil things.” Nevertheless, my grandfather promised to speak with my father along with my pastor.

As you all probably know, it didn’t stop my father from sexually abusing me. A few months later, I tried to tell my mother once again. She called my grand-father. He got on the phone with me. My grand-father told me to stop spreading malicious lies because I didn’t like my father disciplining me. I tried to tell both my mother and my grand-father that it had nothing to do with discipline. They wouldn’t listen. That same night, my father came back into my room as usual. That night, I tried to run away. I took my parents van, along with my stained nightgown. I decided if I could get to Pennsylvania, I would be able to SHOW my grandfather the evidence, Then would he would have no other choice but to believe me. Then my grand-father would tell my mother to believe me too. (To this day, she always calls her father, asking advice for just about everything. She functions on the level of a junior high school student in this area, imo). I drove my parents van from Tennessee to Pennsylvania. I used money I had saved from babysitting our preachers kids for gas. I packed a small cooler with sandwiches and drinks like I had seen my mother do when we all made the drive to PA several times a year. I drove straight through to PA. To this day, I don’t know how I made it safely, since I wasn’t old enough to have a drivers license. I kept thinking my grand-father will help me once he see’s the evidence. He will!

Once I (finally) drove into my grand-parents driveway in PA, I breathed a sigh of relief. My grand-parents came to their front door, but didn’t come out. I thought it was strange, but I was soooo very happy that I ran, hugged my grand-parents and told them I had evidence my dad was doing those things to me. My grand-father took me into the house. My grand-mother made me sit on the couch while they called my parents. To my horror, my grand-parents told my father that I said I had evidence. My grand-father said, “I’ll take care of it.” In my naivete I still thought he meant he would finally believe me. I thought I would be allowed to stay with my grandparents. I would be safe at last! They HAD to believe me, right?

We didn’t discuss anything that night. My grand-mother kept babbling on about how hungry and tired I must be. My grand-father asked a few questions. He would then to into his home study to make a phone call and return. This went on for a few hours. My grand-mother made up the guest room for me. I slept very soundly because I knew my dad wasn’t coming in my room to molest me, while my grand-parents slept. I was safe. I remember praying. I remember thanking Jesus. Jesus had made sure that I arrived at my grandparents home safely, He had made sure to give me the idea to save the evidence to show my grandparents. Thank you, Jesus for saving my soul and for saving me from my dad.

The next morning, my grand-parents said there was a counselor I needed to talk to. Rand Hummell was speaking at a church in the area. I was taken to talk to Rand Hummell. I told Rand Hummell about my father and the evidence I had. He completely ignored that. He told me that I had spent too much time on the internet. I had been exposed to these bad ideas on the internet. He talked about his book, “The Dark Side of the Internet.” I tried to explain that I hadn’t seen any of this on the internet. He focused on the fact that I had ran away from home. Many young girls do this because they are lured over the internet. I tried to tell him and my grand-parents I hadn;t been lured but that I had come to my grandparents house because I wanted my dad to stop hurting me. Rand Hummell told me that I needed to work on my attitude and let God work on my dad.

I was told to repent for running away, and causing so much pain. I did apologize for running away.
Unknown to me, my grand-father had not only been calling Rand Hummell. He had also made calls to another one of his pastor friends. This was Pastor Jason Casey Jason Casey is the Pastor and Director of Victorious Valley Baptist Church and Home for Girls in Sunset, SC. My grandparents asked me if i wanted to go somewhere that “would help me, and where I would be safe.”

Of course!.

I still thought I was going to be staying with my grandparents. I was very wrong. That evening my parents flew in. My grandparents and my parents went out to dinner, where I now know they discussed how it was set up by my grand-father for me to go to Victorious Valley Home for Girls. I was sent back home to pack. Within a few days I found myself at Victorious Valley. I was made to confess that I had made up malicious lies, and repent for my causing “pain” to “many.”

Before anyone judges me for doing so, I was forced. If I didn’t repent, I was punished. Put in solitary where I was forced to listen to the preacher on tape constantly. . “Spanked,” and denied what they called “privileges,” such as showers, meals and bathroom privileges (other than when they decided I needed such things). I was a good girl, most of the girls there were good girls. It didn’t take long to break us.

Once I “graduated” from Victorious Valley I went home for the summer. As expected,in my family I attended Bob Jones University. A few days before leaving for college, I noticed my father was entering my little sister’s room. I went to college, haunted, knowing my father was now hurting my little sister. I didn’t know what to do. I was a student at Bob Jones University in 2010. One of my roommates complained that my nightmares were keeping “the room awake.” She was the Hall Leader. I was called to my dorm supervisors office and explained that I had been having nightmares. Without asking any other questions, her comment to me was, “That is the price one pays for watching Horror movies.” Was sent to the dorm counselor, with orders to not wake my roommates any more!

I finally told the dorm counselor that about my father. I told her that my little sister had told me that since I had left for college he was coming into her room. The dorm counselor gave me a copy of Dr. Jim Berg’s book, Changed Into His Image. She told me she would pass this along to the Dean of Women too. The next day, the dorm counselor called me to her room and asked why I had “lied” when she asked why I was having “bad dreams.” I didn’t know what to say. She didn’t ask, she TOLD me, “that was the price one pays for watching Horror movies.” She told me, that Dr. and Mrs. Berg were had counseled hundreds of students who were sexually abused, and I was to report to Dr. Berg in a few days. (Now remember, other than my grand-parents, my dorm counselor was the first person I had tried to tell the whole story to since I was 14,)

When I went to see Dr. Berg he asked me a lot of questions. One thing he told me was that I was not to tell anyone I had attended Victorious Valley. He then went on and said he had spoken with his wife and she would be “happy to counsel” me for the rest of the semester. Dr. Berg was not suggesting I speak with his wife, he was not asking me to consider this, I WOULD speak with his wife. The next day, Mrs. Berg and I began meeting. One of her first things she told me was that if I had any pleasure from what happened between myself and my father, God required me to repent of those feelings. That I needed to give up “control,” and a lot of other things. I started crying as I told her I was worried about my little sister.

The next morning, I went to class as usual. Upon returning I had a message to come to my dorm supervisors room. I did. She told me that Dr. Berg had called my father and told him of what I had been saying. My father denied this, of course. I was talked to by my dorm supervisor for awhile about how God expects us to tell the truth. Though tears, I told her I had told the truth. I was sent to the Dean of Women’s office and confronted again.

Miss Baker called my mother. My mother has known for years about the abuse. My mother was crying and angry because she told me, “You are tearing our family apart.” I knew my mother had called my grand-father too. I’m sure he made calls to the University and told them all about the “little family liar.” The penalty for “lying” was 50 demerits. I was also put on spiritual probation. I accumulated a lot of demerits, for small things that added up. Right before Thanksgiving break, my hall-leader roommate turned me in for playing “un-checkable” music on my violin in my room. I was as they call it, “shipped” the next day. If Bob Jones, the Dean of Women, Dr. or Mrs Berg reported this to any law enforcement it is news to me. However, they did tell my mother, my hall-leader roommate.

I will be getting in contact with G.R.A.C.E. It’s hard for me to have any hope after all these years that Christians will believe me, but I’m going to contact GRACE anyway. I pray Jesus to whom I prayed to as a 14 year-old girl will come through this time.”

Julie Belle’s Story

My name is Julie Belle and I grew up in a strict, Independent Fundamental Baptist home. My family went to church 3 times a week and had daily devotions.  My two sisters and I were either in Christian schools or, were home-schooled; and, we had to abide by a very strict dress code. I could tell you of  all the religious rules we had to follow  but, that would be a very long list indeed, so I’ll name a few things we DIDN’T do:

•  We didn’t go to movie theaters,
•  We didn’t watch anything on TV,
•  We didn’t watch any movies rated PG or worse, and many G movies were off limits.
•  We didn’t wear pants,
•  We didn’t wear skirts that were too short,
•  We didn’t wear necklines that were too low.
•  Sleeveless shirts, dangly earrings, most eye makeup, short hair (on women), snug clothing, and high heels were prohibited. (The general idea being that these things cause men to sin by attracting their attention.)
•  We didn’t go to restaurants which served alcohol,
•  We didn’t go to the beach because of the ‘immodesty’,
•  We didn’t go on vacations because meant a Sunday away from church.

Again, this is just a fraction of the rules that made up our lives.

Our home was an all-girl household, except for our Dad. He ruled over us like a king rules over his kingdom. Why? Because he COULD!  After all, he had heard sermon after sermon on wives being meek, quiet and submissive; handing their authority over to their husbands. Rarely was anything preached or taught about how husbands should treat their wives; and, divorce was not to be considered by any God-fearing woman. My Dad was (and is) a hate-filled man who seemed to enjoy bullying and picking on us girls as often as he could. I can’t even describe how much tension I felt as a young girl, when he’d come home from work. The atmosphere changed completely upon his arrival. I remember so many times automatically packing up my toys and going to my room because I knew I had to keep quiet and stay out of his way. He had a very mean-spirited, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude almost constantly, and took the majority of it out on my mother. I developed a talent for blocking out the sound and even the memory of their loud arguments (I say ‘their’, but it was ALWAYS my dad who was hateful.  Mom just ducked her head and took it). To this day, I can’t remember most of the fights, or what they were about, only that I would stay in my room for the duration (usually several hours) and stack books on the floor vents so the hateful words and accusations wouldn’t drift up to me.  He must’ve noticed how we girls avoided the strife, because he started bringing Mom to our rooms, and subjecting her to more degradation in front of us, often making her apologize to us for some petty infraction he’d imagined she’d committed against him. I remember one time it was because she’d written out a birthday card for his mother without telling him. Another time, it was for moving a stack of wood from the garage to the porch without asking his permission first.

Of course, if you ask most IFB pastors, or any woman still stuck in this male dominated religion, they’ll tell you he was well within his rights to treat Mom and us girls this way. We were taught that the man is the head of the home and to be obeyed at ALL times. ‘No’ is a word you, as a woman, don not use. This also applies in the bedroom, where it’s literally a sin to deny your husband. This is how it’s been manipulated so that women in this religion have no power, not even over their own bodies.

After twenty-five hellish years, my Mom finally had enough, and left him. I was 15, and simply relieved to be out of that house and away from such a contentious person. I remember how much longer the days seemed, because rather than having just a few precious hours of happiness each day while he was gone, EVERY hour was a happy one.

During the divorce, Mom, Holly, and I (my other sister had married by then) moved to a different town and started going to a different IFB church where I met my future husband, David. David was one of 4 young “preacher boys” in the church. He grew up going to church every Sunday and felt he’d been “called to preach” at a conference out of town. He seemed to be the “golden boy” of the church and I was flattered when he took an interest in me. He was the first man I’d ever dated, and he seemed funny and charming. Since I’d grown up hearing preachers discourage women from having careers or “jobs outside of the home”, I had no higher aspirations than to be a wife and mother, and at an early age, I felt eager to start that life. So when David proposed, I said yes, and at the age of 17 was married in the church where we’d met.

Our pastor, Dean, counseled us twice during our engagement, as was his custom. I’d like to make a note that during one of these sessions, he asked me if I was a virgin. I can only assume that his reason was simply to satisfy his own personal curiosity, since he has married many other couples since then, and I very much doubt they’ve all been virgins. Or perhaps, if I’d said no, I wouldn’t have been allowed to wear a white gown, thus making my wedding day more of a shame for me than a celebration. Of course I was a virgin though, having never even touched a man; but what if I hadn’t been? How humiliating and degrading it would have been for me, a 17 year old girl, in front of her fiance and pastor, to admit that. But these are the tactics used against women in this religious sect to keep us in our places and under the thumbs of our male authorities. There are many other instances like this that happened over the course of the years that I’m too embarrassed to write here. No, not ALL men in this religion are power-hungry, sexist, male chauvinists; but without exception, EVERY man in my life up to that point had been, and enough to make a life-long, lasting impression.

A year into my marriage, David’s true colors began to show. He came home from work angry every day and enjoyed taking it out on me. Every time we went to visit my family, he’d speak harshly to me for the whole three hour drive, making me dread my own family visits. Every time we went to a doctor’s appointment during my pregnancies, he’d speak harshly to me during the drive. When the kids were born, I made sure they didn’t cry, or he’d yell at me. If I’d get sick and couldn’t go to church, he’d yell at me, because “who’s going to play the piano?” I quickly learned not to expect him to so much as make a sandwich for himself or get his own glass of water because he’d yell at me. He was hateful to me about the laundry, the ironing, when the meals were ready, every time he lost his keys or wallet (which was often). When he lost his favorite automatic pencil (yes, you read that right) he yelled at me and stomped around the house for an hour, blaming our 3 year old daughter, then me, for not watching her properly. He threw a hammer at me once, threw a TV remote at me, shoved me against a wall in front of our little girl, causing her to cry herself to sleep that night, sobbing “I’m scared of Daddy, I’m scared of Daddy” over and over again. All this, while he was an assistant pastor, out “soul-winning” every week, counseling other married couples, and finally became a senior pastor in GA and then WV.

During the ten years we were married, I had to swallow the frequent feeling of being “trapped”. I didn’t have a job since “a woman’s place is the home.” We had one vehicle that was very clearly his, so, my trips out were limited and, he’d have to know how long I’d be gone, when I’d be coming back, if I spent any of “his” money, and how much. I found it would help a little to walk the perimeter of our property once or twice a day and expand my tiny world by just that little bit.

If God really does bottle the tears of His children, then there will be quite an impressive pile under my name, because I went through spells of crying in private, every day for months at a time; crying because of heartbreak, because of frustration, self-loathing, and hopelessness. I didn’t understand how someone like me, who took up such little space in the world, could be such a burden and inspire so much contempt from those around me. Many times I wished I could have just crawled off into a corner somewhere, invisible, and out of the way. After crying daily for months, I fell to the other extreme. I went through a depression that lasted about a year, where I barely spoke, barely smiled, didn’t cry or feel anything but a kind of deadness inside. David never noticed. As long as I had his food ready on time, the laundry and ironing done, the kids quiet, as long as I put on a good show at church every Sunday, everything was right in his world.

Thankfully, I finally came out of it, and decided that if I wasn’t allowed happiness when he was home, I could at least be happy every precious minute he wasn’t. Shortly thereafter, I had another epiphany – that there was something inherently wrong with his (and many other IFB men’s) attitude toward women. I began to detest his angry, controlling attitude, and decided that if ever a woman changed a man, it would be me. Divorce wasn’t an option, of course, since I knew I’d be jobless, homeless, transportationless and lose all my friends and probably my children too. You’re taught in the IFB that if you get a divorce, your children will grow up hating you and that they’ll end up turning to drugs and alcohol, and in general, be horrible, embittered people. So for YEARS, I tried everything from yelling back at him, to abject submission, to crying in prayer, as broken as I’ve ever been, that God would change him. I stopped praying that He would make David love me, because that seemed too grand a thing for someone like me. I simply prayed that God would somehow make him less hateful. In my mind, I was not even sure God could accomplish this.

When we started nearing the ten-year mark, I began thinking very hard about how much more I could take, if I could go another ten years, or if there’d be anything left of me by then. It was only in moments of complete desperation that I considered the terrifying idea of divorce, and even then, I’d think to myself, “What could I do differently that would make me feel better about staying with him a little longer?” I decided I’d start wearing pants. I know that seems so small and petty, it’s almost laughable, but to a young, IFB ‘good girl’, it was a huge deal. I thought that maybe if I could at least ‘look’ like an independent woman, maybe I’d ‘feel’ more like one. If I could look ‘normal’ maybe I’d feel a little less… sub-human. I knew there’d be hell to pay when I told him, but I thought surely the few days or weeks of hell on earth would be preferable to the months or possibly years of suffering a divorce would cause. This was my somewhat fractured logic, but I was a woman at the end of her rope and willing to try anything before finally giving up.

The next day I sat down with David and gently told him my decision. I cried when I told him because I knew what was coming. At first he seemed concerned, even sympathetic and curious about why I’d made my decision. Then he began to ‘reason’ with me. When he realized I wasn’t going to budge, he became irate. For at least 4 hellish hours that evening, he yelled, showed me Bible verses, following me around the house, continuing the barrage. He poked his finger in my chest, on my face, and when I tried to lay down that night, he yanked the pillow out from under my head. He put his pale, rage-filled face inches from mine and yelled, “This is my MINISTRY we’re talking about!!” The next 2 days were more of the same. When I suggested marriage counseling, things got worse. He locked us in the bedroom, pacing back and forth, holding a Bible in one hand, and poking me in the chest and face with the other. Finally, one night, he laid down beside me and told me that he was going to stop allowing me to watch my favorite shows on tv or read my favorite books anymore because they were giving me “ideas”. When I felt the familiar ‘trapped’ sensation rising in my chest again, choking me, when I realized that my tiny world was now becoming that much smaller, I realized I didn’t know what the “will of God” was anymore, but I knew it WASN’T God’s will that anyone, even a woman, live in such oppression. I finally felt some peace and resignation that I could and should end the marriage. I knew I’d rather ANYTHING than my little girl grow up to live out this same misery, or my little boy learn this same attitude toward women from his Daddy. I told David quietly that if it meant that much to him, I’d not wear pants. The next morning after he left for work, I called my mom and told her I needed someone to come pick me up within the next couple of days because my marriage was over.

After I hung up the phone, I had the sense that freedom was so close I could almost taste it. That if I just reached out far enough, I could grasp hold of it. But I also felt a sense of foreboding dread, because I’d heard so often what terrible things God does to punish those who commit the heinous sin of divorce. I honestly didn’t think He’d let me get away with it. I figured I’d either finally be free, or I’d die trying. And if God cut me down for defying Him this way, I’d at least be dead, and my misery would be over. But I didn’t die, and God hasn’t punished me. In fact, I’ve never felt so blessed or experienced His love so completely before! Yes, I was shunned by every church I’d attended or been a pastor’s wife of, and there have been some horrible, reputation-shattering rumors spread about me, (turns out, church-goers can be quite vicious once they turn on you), but I’ve barely given it a second thought in my enthusiasm for my new life. I can be my own person, and make my own decisions. I can go wherever I want to go, which, even after 2 years, still seems like a miracle to me. Since then, my kids are thriving; having come a little out of their shells, and, I feel myself coming out of my own shell too now that I can stretch my arms and breathe again.

Of course, after the divorce, David was no longer able to be a pastor according to his own church constitution. And with no more power to rule and reign over people, he’s lost interest in attending church all-together. As of right now, he’s “shacking-up” with his girlfriend, a lifestyle he’d many times preached against and looked down on others for. I also found out, that only 7 days after I’d left him (3 months before the divorce was final) he’d signed up for several on-line dating sites and one site called “hornyonlinematch.com”. He blamed me for that last one, telling me it was my fault he did it because I wasn’t there (I should’ve told him he could go f*** himself, but I have a feeling he’d already done so). I think it’s interesting to note that when these “Minister’s of God” are stripped of their authority over people and are left with only their love for God as motivation for living holy, they very soon lose interest in abiding by all the many rules they’ve set in place for the rest of us to obey.

He must’ve missed the rush of having authority over people so much so, that a few months later, he applied for a state trooper position. When a state trooper came to my house one evening to interview me about the temporary restraining order I’d taken out, he told me that all he needed was to get my statements and give David a polygraph before he would be given the job. I was shocked and a little terrified at the idea of my ex, a man so full of anger and controlled rage, carrying a weapon, and no doubt on my own property too when picking up the kids for visitation. I was frustrated that he would again be in a position of authority over good people. I answered the officer’s questions, and when he asked more personal ones about our marriage and why I’d ended it, and what my ex’s personality type was, I told him much of what I’ve written here. Before he left, he told me he’d heard David’s side of the story, and now, he’d heard mine and he was inclined to believe my side. He gave me his card and told me to give him a call if David ever gave me any more trouble. A week later, the officer called me and told me that David hadn’t been given the job and that David didn’t seem to fit the personality type they were looking for. I also heard from a third party soon thereafter, that David had failed his polygraph.

All I can say is after 28 years of living a ”separated” lifestyle, now that I’m free, and live as I choose, I have only experienced God’s love that much stronger, felt His blessings that much more powerfully, and love Him that much more freely. The Bible says, “God is Love.” God could’ve chosen to describe Himself as a God of judgment, or a God of punishment, or a God of vengeance, but the one word He chose to describe Himself with was “love”. I’ll ever be grateful for the day I finally chose to stop living under the constant threat of His judgment and started to live in the fullness of His all-encompassing love.

Joseph’s Story

I began to attend an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in late 2009, maybe 2010. I don’t remember much to be honest. I was suckered into everything at this Hyles Anderson College church. The Pastor was in the inner circle of First Baptist Church of Hammond and Hyles Anderson College and knew Jack Schaap personally as well as Jack Hyles. I was his pet and was being groomed for something. Time grew on and I never noticed the “signs” of abuse until I began breaking ties with the college.

I was made to feel guilty for being sick a lot and having health issues. Sure, a lot of the people I am close to joke but, I know they mean no harm. However, the Pastor would guilt me on how he would do this and that despite being sick. To this day, I have no idea what was happening, but this is only a small part. He would tell me how he would be sick during services and still preached. He said that he spent hours on bus routes being sick and, how I need to suck it up and be a man and not be vocal about pain or discomfort because men don’t do that. I hate pain for the most part and I am quite vocal, but I can’t do much to change that. It is who I am but, not what they want. Life went on and I was on the blue pill so to speak.

This all began to change, though, when a certain person walked into my life. I began to date a girl at the church. It was unknown to me that this was and is the Pastor’s pet. This Pastor believed all girls should go to Hyles Anderson College to find a husband because no one at the church was good enough and, that HE must “approve” all relationships! If a person did not go to him for approval, he would turn very bitter and sour towards them. I will go into more detail on this later.

I spoke to this Pastor about the chance that this girl may be “the one”. I was greeted with, “You’re going off emotions and that you should not rush into things. Emotions are bad and need to be controlled. She has issues of her own and is seeking ways to cope.” I left the office torn.

I never spoke to her about this conversation until later.

Fast forward. She and I get serious and I spoke to him again about engagement and how to proceed. This was the breaking point. He essentially told me that I was not good enough and had to prove my love to her and that emotions were bad. I need to control my feelings with dealing with new relationships. Come back to him in a few months and that he would speak to her on the side about all of this.

It was the end of that relationship

He chose to control her life, her decisions, from the get go over 6 years ago. He had taken on the responsibility of being a father figure to all the young girls of the church because his own family was in disarray. He frequently referred to the girls as his daughters.

When we split on December 16th 2010, he had taken me to lunch before my departure from Hyles Anderson College. He acted as if nothing happened and patted himself on the back knowing full well what happened and even spoke of it. He always spoke of her during the time period between the break up to my departure, I knew he knew of things I did not, but never told me.

It was time for me to leave. I left campus on December 31st 2010. It did not set in what was to come until later. I was distraught with grief and, the pressure at the college was to the point of my body shutting down. Every week I would meet with the Dean of Men to discuss everything that I was feeling and going through. I know deep down he may have cared about me, but still, he held onto everything the college held dear.

The mask came off when people began to try to make decisions for me. I dated another girl for awhile until a teacher by the name of Cowling, split us up because I was deemed “not good enough” because I was a freshman. It was during this time that I was in contact with the above mentioned Pastor. My health was failing rapidly and all I was told was to keep on going; fake it until you make it. I had health problems and they ignored them and told me to keep on going under the weight of their schedule for me. I was shutting down in every aspect. The pressure was so intense, that one day, I nearly collapsed in the hallway. I was done. The pinnacle was when the assistant to the Dean of Men, Robert Osgood, was asking me if I was speaking critically of the school. It was unknown to me that I was under surveillance by his staff. A lot of times, anywhere I would go, the lackeys were there. They monitored my every move and everything I said to anyone.

It was during a Mens meeting, that my academic and activity reports were read aloud by Tom Vogel. I was unable to go to church and Saturday ministry because of pain and how sick I was. I never tithed because I had no money. He called this “subversion” and I knew he was talking about me. I just hid in my chair.

I called my Pastor and told him that I was done and it was time to come home. This is when it all began. My leave was cancelled and changed two or three times before I was authorized to leave campus. The day I was scheduled to leave, they called me and told me to come back to the college to be security for Pastor’s School because they figured I could sit for hours despite my back injury, dehydration and sleep deprivation.

It was during my time there that a staff member physically laid his hands on me for no reason. It was during hair checks that Stubblefield had placed his hands on my shoulders in a forceful manner to check me over. The grip was tight is all I can remember and he did it for no reason. I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I was also alone with the Dean of Men and Vogel for a meeting. No one was allowed in the room and the door was shut. It also dealt with me going from bus ministry to Jewish. In Chicago, I was nearly gunned down at a wrong place, wrong time, event and was not taken back to the college by my bus captain. To this day, I get sick if I go near any of these kinds of areas.

I also was water-boarded by students as a joke, while on heavy muscle relaxers and had to work church cleaning when I could not at the time. Students have made fake Facebook accounts to slander me all across the web for speaking out and I know if this story gets out it will cause more backlash for me, but, I am ready for anything now.

They told me I would not owe the college anything and, if I came home, it would be fine and taken care of. I began to receive threatening letters by the college to set up payment plans and they demanded automatic withdraws on my checking account. I have told them no. I have told them I paid for my time there, exactly around 9 weeks. I have the counseling records and medical records to show that I left sick and could not stay no matter what. They told me that it does not matter. So, I have begun to pay to avoid them going into collections; they have not:

A. sent me a receipt for each bill I paid and how much is left
B. allowed me access to my account online
C. Taken off charges that should not be on there
D. Sent me a copy of any contract and information regarding
any of this.

I began to contact students who have left and all have received the same treatment. They are going after selected students from each supposed group. Many are getting the run around much like me. This system is so corrupt because they have run checks as cash and have changed the amount owed more than once.

This is the extent of all the critical things. If anyone knows of lawyers that can help me and others deal with this monster, it would be appreciated because there is evidence of fraud and predatory lending. I have documents to prove the threats.

Jonathan’s Story

HOW DANGEROUS IS CULT INDOCTRINATION?

Every now and then, we come across a story that not only moves us, but puts a finger on the “root” of the problem that affects many within a cult environment.  Jonathan’s story is one of those stories! He hits with amazing accuracy the root cause for the destruction of marriages and families within the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult (IFB).  You will also realize that the attitude taught regarding women is the same attitude that is taught in muslim religions…this attitude is NOT biblical. If you read my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse, you will find out that what women have been subjected to throughout history, was not God’s intended plan!

I applaud Jonathan’s honesty, humility and strength in making himself vulnerable. His vulnerability sheds light on issues that many are struggling with but, like Jonathan, don’t know WHY.  I truly believe his story will help countless thousands to see the “root” of indoctrination within their relationship so that they can begin to extract it and heal their relationships.  Here’s Jonathan’s Story as posted on his blog:

The Perfect Storm – Part 1

Many of you know that for the past 18 months, I have not done much blogging. In fact, for the past 18 months my life has been characterized by a series of intense struggles in a cyclical pattern with two dominant and alternating themes, sometimes concurrent: struggles in my marriage, and struggles with God.

About month or so out of HeartChange, I had a premonition that dark days were ahead. I had a vision of gathering storm clouds just visible on the horizon, and I knew struggles like I never knew before were imminent. It took 10 more months before the storm hit, and it gathered in intensity the entire time.

Then The Storm hit in October, 2011.

The Storm lasted 13 months. I am not proud of what happened during this time. But I can’t change the past, so I will own it, learn from it, and move on. And blog about it.

No one knows how they will respond to real life issues until the moment they come face to face with the problem staring him down. Yeah, everyone says that they’ll do this or never do that. Wishful thinking. There is not a person alive who is not capable of the most abominable acts given the right set of circumstances, regardless of previous convictions and bravado.
Take for example the American practice of eugenics during the 1920′s. It began as a means to cull American society of its “lesser desirable” elements, a “noble” aim in the eyes of the intelligentsia of the day. There were many forced sterilizations during this time, based on IQ, physical features, family histories of deformity and disease, social class, and even skin color. In the eyes of those who created the system and implemented it, they had the noble aim of making the human race better. The consequence of these actions was mass suffering, not just within our own shores, but also in Europe. Hitler’s primary source for inspiration for his murder of 10 million people were the eugenics programs in the United States. The Land of Free and the Home of Brave, where the words of Emily Lazarus echoed from shore to shore:

“… Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

for many became the land of shattered dreams, the simple dreams of family and children. And we gave birth to a true monster in our pride and arrogance so that a few people could sleep well at night, deceiving themselves into believing they were acting out of the best interest for American society and the human race at large.
So don’t bother arguing with me that you will never do this or that. You can, and you will, when the right set of circumstances leads you to that decision point.
Landfall

The leading edge of the storm started off calm enough, deceptively so. The light faded so gradually that by the time I realized I couldn’t see a thing, the full fury of the storm hit. 

In mid October, 2011, I announced that I wanted to leave my wife. I felt stifled, hampered, held back, hurt, and very, very afraid. God had been silent for a while already. She had no idea this was coming. She had even thought that the year previous was the best we year yet. I blind-sided her. I talked to our pastor first, knowing he would be apposed. We went through some counseling with him and his wife for a while. It seemed to help somewhat, but it didn’t change my inner-turmoil very much. God was still silent, and I didn’t have much hope or faith that things would turn around.

What I was afraid of I will not touch on here. Suffice it to say I gazed into the abyss within my own soul, and something truly terrifying, sensed but unseen, watching from the lightless shadows, stared back. It blinked.

Lowering Barometric Pressure

The wind screamed like the wail of a banshee, threatening to scour away my sanity while the storm surge tried to drown me. The towering waves that rode the surge had as their singular aim my crushed corpse.

As The Storm intensified, the pain within me grew. I began to feel like the song from Serenity, an Austrian symphonic metal band, entitled Fairytales. Parts of the song resonated, though not all aspects of the song applied. But the hurt expressed in the song – that’s what I felt.

There were things that happened early in our marriage that hurt me deeply. These I could not let go of, and over years of our marriage the wounds never healed, and everything that happened, every word spoken, every action taken or not taken, I viewed through the prism of that pain.  I had asked God for help dealing with it over the years, and my pleas were answered with silence.  I had asked him to take it away. No response. I asked for aide in overcoming it. Silence. And yet I knew that if it could not be taken care of, it would destroy my family.

In the last year God was more absent then ever before. My cries for help bounced off the heavens and back at me, their echoes seeming to make mockery of my faith.

In May, 2012, the crushing weight of the storm and the pain became unbearable. I had to talk to someone. I tried to talk to our pastor again, but he wasn’t available. I was reaching critical mass, and if I could not release some pressure, I was going to snap. I would be lying if I said I had not thought of hurting myself. Debating what followed as right or wrong is now no longer an issue. What happened is in the past, and there is nothing I can do to change that.

I had no one else around here I felt I could talk to, so I went to FaceBook, in a private group, and blew off steam. To my friends in the area that may be reading this, I am sorry. My state of mind was such that I truly couldn’t think straight. I said things I shouldn’t have said. I characterized my wife as a monster. I trashed her. I decimated her. I destroyed her. And most of what I said, I can’t even remember saying. It came out, and then it was gone, like poisonous gasses escaping from a volcano, reducing the pressure in the core, but at the cost destroying all living things nearby.

And then my wife found out about it. I prefer to think of what happened as her getting exposed to the poisonous fumes. To say she was hurt does not do justice to how she felt.

This happened again in July, when I entered a period of intense depression following a nine day hospital stay due to an accident at the dump involving a four inch rusty bolt going into my knee but not through it, rather angling down and damaging the top of my tibia. Six hours after the initial injury, an infection had set into my leg and the pain was so intense I could no longer walk. I had a high fever, alternating severe chills and sweats, and less than 24 hours after the initial injury, I found myself being transported by ambulance to the hospital, where I was admitted immediately. They put me on very heavy antibiotics, four different kinds at one point if I remember correctly.

The Eye

Sunshine. Dead calm. Too calm. No sign of life anywhere. Not even the tweeting or birds or the buzzing of insects. The sun warmed my skin through the tattered remnants of my clothes, teasing me with hope.

Late July, maybe August, I entered a period where I seemed to do better. I can only guess that I past through the eye wall at some point. But it didn’t last. The Storm merely gathered in intensity and proceeded to hit with greater strength. I came close to losing my mind. The inner pressure was so strong that I felt like I was going to be turned inside out or disintegrated.
Plunging Back Through the Eye Wall

The world went dark once again. As the last ray of daylight faded in the west, The Storm resumed it’s onslaught. The counter winds ripped at what the first half of the storm had left. It didn’t seem like the storm could get any worse. I was wrong.

September saw my inner turmoil intensify. I thought I hurt before. But not like this. The first half of the storm had stripped away any shelter I had. I was wounded and raw and exposed to the elements. The best thing I could do was try to tie myself to something so I wouldn’t get blown away, but I couldn’t find any rope. God was still conspicuously absent. My faith was in shambles. My marriage held together only because I hadn’t physically left.

I had one lucid moment in late September where I recognized the signs of impending mental break. My mood swings became increasing erratic and my job performance suffered. The smallest things would get me angry. My short term memory was all but gone. I think I was within weeks, possibly days, of snapping. And I remembered my job’s Employee Assistance Program, which provided free of charge a certain amount of counseling and referrals to continued counseling if needed. I called and got plugged into a counselor very quickly. Call it providence if you want to, but guess what the name of my therapist is? Hope. Through Hope’s guidance I began learning ways to constructively deal with my issues.

I also made contact with a friend of mine in Texas, and he said come on down so that I could get away for a while. This I did in mid October. I didn’t care what happened at this point. I needed to get away from my wife for a while and think. My mind was such a mass of confusion that I could not objectively look at anything. He told me about his church. Miracles happened at there, he said. Literally. They had a program for people who were going through hell. I was able to attend twice. I would have gone three times, but my visit had to get cut short due to circumstances beyond all of our control. Whether a miracle happened there or not, I don’t know. But going to Texas helped. A lot.

While there, though, the storm hurled all that remained of its pent up fury. One phone call from my wife resulted in my openly declaring that we were now officially separated. I had no intention of returning home at that point. Going back to the area I worked, yes, but not to my home. By the end of the week she stood down on something she said, but I still had no intention of going home. For all I was concerned, it was over. I didn’t know where I was going to live, but I figured I would find some accommodations, even if it was a drafty garage.

Finally, after some pretty intense discussion and sharing with my friend, I came to the conclusion that I would return home and try again.  I’ve been back for two weeks now, and the winds are dying down.

Where God is in all this I still don’t know. Maybe He protected me through The Storm. Maybe He just watched from distance to see what I would do. I don’t know. When I decided to come back, I told my friend that I still didn’t know what to do with God. But I was going to try to recover the marriage, with or without Him.

Daybreak

Sometime during the night I must have passed out. I awoke to the sun rising in the east. The wind had calmed, the waves were gone, the surge had retreated, and birds were singing.

The Perfect Storm – Part 2

I chose to make this blog post in two parts because to understand the central part of my post, I needed to recap my previous 13 months. That, and it was getting long even for one of my posts.My attitudes toward my wife have not been very good for the last 8 years of our marriage. I had been able to suppress my frustration, resentment, anger, and bitterness better at times than at others. After HeartChange things got better for a quite a while, the weed having been cut and even burned to the ground, but the root that fed the problems had not been exposed and purged. It regenerated and came back.

An action on my part that resulted in my hurting someone else came to light this past week. I had forgotten all about the incident (as had the person I was very rude to), but I wrote her and asked for forgiveness, which she granted. She took the opportunity to point out some things in my life that she thought were not entirely kosher, and I accepted her words and admonishment. I think best in writing, so in my reply to her I was trying to explore why I had all of these negative feelings towards my wife (which is something my friend brought up), and then it hit me:

Epiphany

I was a misogynist. But oddly enough the scope of my misogyny was limited to and focused on my wife. I have stood up for and helped console and even championed the right of women to be equal with men (in my own limited scope of impact) to the point where I thought I may be a feminist. I did not believe anything was the matter with my treatment of my wife because I never tried to control her, or prevent her from going somewhere if she wanted to go, or buy what she needed, or even get a job if she so chose. That she didn’t always avail herself of the opportunities presented wasn’t my problem. Or so I thought. The problems all stemmed from the hurt and pain I went through early in our marriage. Or so I thought.

In an instant I had a book’s worth of information run through my mind. The attitudes and actions I displayed – they all led back to what I learned in the IFB, the Independent Fundamental Baptist church.

First, let me apologize in advance to some people who will likely not understand or realize the enormity of the problems at hand. I have no desire to hurt you. You know who you are, and I love you regardless of how things turn out after you read this.

I am going to list a number of common thoughts among different groups within in the IFB system. Many I myself never believed. Some I believed until about 3 years ago. Some I held against my wife. But here they are:

  •  Women are inherently evil.
  •  Women are devious and cannot be trusted.
  •  Women’s minds are weak. It was woman who was deceived in the Garden of Eden, and they cannot be trusted to make right decisions.
  •  Women are agents of the devil. A woman can corrupt a godly man even if the man is on his guard.
  •  A woman must not be allowed to have her own personal identity. Her identity is to be found in her husband and in Christ.
  •  A woman must be under the protection of a man. If she has no husband, she should live at home until such time as she marries.
  •  A woman must never teach men.
  •  A woman may never be in a position of authority over a man.
  •  A woman may never hold any ecclesiastical office in a church.
  •  Should a woman find herself in a place where she must speak to men in a church, she should announce that she is there under her husband’s authority so as not to overstep her place.
  •  Because women are inherently evil with weak minds prone to sin, they can only redeem themselves before God through bearing children.
  •  A woman may never refuse the sexual advances of her husband. She belongs to him, and her body belongs to him.
  •  A woman must always obey a man regardless of whether that man is her husband, father, pastor, or someone else in the church. God placed man in charge, and the woman’s place is to obey without question. If a hierarchy is specified, the husband or pastor may be listed first, then elders in the church, her father, and so on.
  •  A woman must defer to her husband’s opinion on any given matter.
  •  A woman must not question her husband’s decisions.
  •  A woman is not to challenge any interpretation of Scripture. She is to believe what her husband and her pastor teaches, with all meekness.
  •  If a man has an affair, it is his wife’s fault because she did not do everything she could to keep him sexually satisfied and happy.
  •  If a man goes after another woman, it is the wife’s fault because she did not keep her body looking appealing enough for him to desire.
  •  If a woman is raped, it is her fault. She was somewhere that she shouldn’t have been, or she was wearing clothing that was “provocative” in nature, and as such invited the rape, even daring men to rape her, and the man is excused because he was enticed.
  •  If a woman feels any pleasure during a rape, it is no longer rape but consensual sex, and the man is excused.
  •  If a woman is raped, she must have somehow subconsciously signaled to the man that she wanted sex, and therefore she is indirectly responsible for her own violation, and the man is excused.
  •  If a woman has a “reputation,” whether said reputation is true or not, she is responsible for her own rape and the man is excused.
  •  If a child is sexually assaulted, such children were impure to begin with, and as such attracted the assault. Children who are pure are immune from sexual assault.
  •  If the sexually assaulted child is an adolescent or even young adolescent woman, she invited the sexual encounter because it is well known that step-daughters, whether they know they are doing it or not, flirt with their step-fathers, and therefore the step-father is excused from raping the child.

I could add more, but I think you get the gist of what’s wrong in that system. Not every church teaches this litany of filth. Some teach the more extreme items listed above, some the more mild. Some are pretty decent about it. But all of this evil. And most of these are teachings I have heard first hand from pulpits, Bible professors, chapel speakers, seminar speakers, Christian counseling mini-seminars and Bible college classrooms, and all in a co-ed setting. There are a few points which I have received second hand, but from multiple and credible first hand witnesses.

The IFB claim to elevate women and honor them, placing them on a pedestal of high honor, almost angelic in their reverence for the “pure” woman. But let one feather be perceived to be slightly out of place or her halo not quite bright enough for the most scrupulous observer, and she will be the torn down off that pedestal and forever be tarnished with a “reputation.” There is such rampant depression among the women in these churches that it is epidemic. And no wonder! They live everyday of their lives being told they are worthless just for being a woman, let alone the guilt and shame heaped on them by the bully-God these churches preach. But you will never get them to admit to being depressed because to the IFB, any form of depression is a sin, a sign of not fully trusting in and relying on God, a sign that something is wrong with them spiritually.

And it doesn’t matter how liberated a man feels in his view towards women. If he is in these churches and institutions and hearing these things, even in much milder form, daily, weekly, regardless of how he believes himself to be a lover of women’s rights and equality, he is going to absorb some of this into his psyche. Which is exactly what happened to me. (And you might ask why I didn’t leave the system sooner. Well, when you’re taught that all other Christian denominations are either corrupt or compromising the Truth, there aren’t too many places a guy believes he can go and remain a “good” Christian.)

I had not realized that the mistrust I bore my wife had it’s roots in the IFB system. I did not know the extent to which their poison had permeated me. Having had my eyes opened, I am now mortified at what I have done to my wife for the past 8 years. I saw her as controlling, manipulating, deceiving, selfish, devious, untrustworthy, corrupting, and a tether preventing my soul from flying. And can there be any wonder I thought this given the poison seeping into my soul for all those years?

In the end, I will own my wrongful attitudes and hurtful actions towards my wife. They are mine, and mine alone. I cannot say that this one epiphany has cured me completely. Years of attitude will take a long time to heal and undo. But I have a start, a place of enlightenment where I was able to understand something about myself that I would never have known otherwise.

This storm I went through was brutal. But it led me to this epiphany. And perhaps God will show Himself again, let me see that He had always been there, that he guided The Storm so that I would come to the understanding that I did, that He protected me from the worst of it.

Jon Snow’s Story

From the Author:

Kimleigh Smith and Jon Snow have been given the gift of being able to tell their stories of sexual abuse in the format of a one-person play. In this play, both Kimleigh and Jon tell their stories, make themselves completely vulnerable, and bare their souls to share their ideas of healing with victims everywhere. Victims do have a voice! And through the Be Your Own Superhero Foundation, Kimleigh and Jon walk victims through the process of creating their own story. I cannot express strongly enough the strength and empowerment that this process can bring to a victim of abuse. It also allows the victim to release the burden that they have been carrying ever since the abuse occurred. For many, this could encompass many years! And, the tentacles of this abuse can reach far and wide in the lives of the victims affecting relationships with family, friends and co-workers.

The format and approach of Be Your Own Superhero is straightforward. Kimleigh and Jon share their stories so that victims know that they are one of them. They have suffered as you have suffered. They know what you are feeling and understand your pain. They understand the guilt, the self-deprecation, the self loathing, all of the things that have no right to reside in your heart and mind, yet, somehow, they find a residence there.

Their events are usually held over a weekend at a local university. I want to encourage everyone that is in the local area of one of their events to attend. If you are interested in having one of these events in your local area, contact Kimleigh or Jon through their website and they will take care of the details! These weekend events have workshops that will help you in the healing process. If you want to know if there is one taking place close to you, please message Jon Snow directly for a schedule. I truly believe in what these two are doing and I genuinely feel that this will help victims of sexual abuse to grow beyond the place of hopelessness that many may find themselves entrenched in. Below is a link to a short video that talks about Kimleigh and her show called TOTALLY! This will give you an idea of what Jon and Kimleigh are doing with this foundation. Jon’s story will begin below this link.

» Click Here to See Video of TOTALLY by Kimleigh

Jon Snow’s Story:

It is with a strangely surprising trepidation that I write this. I did not expect so much resistance in myself, yet, nevertheless, here I am sitting with this odd feeling. I have so much to tell, and with each step, I find myself getting closer and closer to a nightmare I never thought I would have to face. It is little wonder then, I suppose, why I have all of this balled up tension in me as I write this, and still I find this tension a comfortable stranger.

I will do my best to be succinct with the story I am going to unfold for you. Please forgive any transgressions that betray that intention.

I am (was?) a product of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. My father moved us to Hammond when I was about 5 or 6 years old, if my memory serves me. It was his goal and dream to attend and graduate from Hyles-Anderson College. My father worked very hard to make this happen. We started off living in the Meadows Apartments across the railroad tracks, just a few blocks from the church itself. I have since been back to visit, and I have walked through the Meadows Apartments, which I believe has a different name these days, and I was struck by the severity of poverty that pervades this place.

I knew, even then, we didn’t have money growing up. One cannot grow up and not eventually realize these things. As a five year old boy, I didn’t have that awareness so acutely, so I cannot recall if the Meadows apartment complex was always such a place of destitution or not. I remember my father worked hard as a janitor for the Meadows as he began his endeavors with Hyles-Anderson. Having two small children and a wife for whom to provide, my father did the best he could to provide for his family, it was this obligatory commitment that caused him to take 7 years to get his degree.

During this time, I was there at FBC, just like every good Fundamentalist, every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and I even helped out on the bus routes. I helped with Mrs. Moffit’s bus route, number 32, if I remember correctly. We were completely immersed in the church and all its capacities. My sister and I attended the church’s school in Schererville, so we spent our young lives inside that bubble, and like so many others, we knew no other world. In fact, there was no other world.

I am amazed, even if I should not be, at the more recent events at FBC. I clearly remember, as a young boy, Jack Hyles, the current pastor at that time, making an appearance on Current Affair to repudiate the allegations that he had been having an affair. I remember my parents conviction that Jack Hyles was innocent and that people were attacking a godly man because that’s what the world does to godly men.

I remember standing outside Jack Hyles’ office as a young boy, my sister and I awaiting our chance to meet him. We carried a big bag of popcorn with us that night. We loved my mother’s popcorn, and we thought he would too. We were so poor that we carried it to him in empty bread bags. It was not a part of our conscious thought to be embarrassed by this, we just knew that we loved this man because we all loved this man, and loving this man was just what you did.

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my sister, a year and a half younger, and I were raped by a young man that was charged with babysitting us. It was only one night. He had never babysat for us before, and he never did again after this night, but not because he was found out. He simply only ever had the opportunity for one night, and he made the most of that evening.

For years, I felt that he was much older. Only within the last 5 years or so did I discover that he was only about 12 or 13 when he did this to us.

My relationship to these events is simple enough to explain. As a young man, I was extremely angry. I wanted to hunt him down and kill him for what he did to us. Then, as I grew up, I moved into a place, not devoid of anger by any means, but I moved into a place of just wanting to be sure that he did not work with children in any way. Again, as I continued to grow and mature into a man, I moved into a place of forgiveness. I realized that he had probably been abused himself. I convinced myself that he must have just been twisted in his thinking as a result of the abuse that surely befell him as well. It was easy then to see him as a confused and scared young man acting out in a manner that screamed for help and attention.

My sister and I haven’t spoken of this incident in many years, which, to be clear, when we did speak about it, it was only sporadic and quickly at best.

There is, and was, a lot of pain surrounding this, which is not so conducive to prolonged conversation. Yet, here we are.

I tell you all of this because my sister followed in my father’s footsteps. She went to and graduated from Hyles-Anderson College, and she is now a missionary in (country intentionally omitted), where she has been for the last 14 years. As a result, my sister has been an insider to a myriad of things of FBC nature.

As it pertains to this situation, my sister has recently been telling me of the many cover-ups that have occurred at FBC over the years. It was shocking and not so shocking all at the same time.

The thing that disturbed me most was something she said about the young man that raped us when we were children. She informed me that a friend of hers, that also attended Hyles-Anderson, told her, while they were in college together, that her brothers and our perpetrator were part of a group of boys, all of whom went to FBC, and who also held competitions to see how many younger kids they could rape.

As you can undoubtedly understand, this sent red flags flying up all over the place. It is one thing to be a victim and to be confused and act out, but it is another thing entirely, when you purposely set out to rape as many younger children as you can in a competitive scenario.

I decided to look up the man that raped us. I remembered his name, as if I could forget it. I feel like I have done this in the past to no avail, but this time, I found him.

Finding him was, in and of itself, more terrifying then I would have given it credit for being. But to make matters more acutely intense, I found that he is, and has been for several years now, working with boys. He is a baseball coach for a boys baseball team in Illinois. If that wasn’t enough to make my worst nightmare come to life, this baseball team of his is a traveling team. They travel all over the region to play games. A sexual predator couldn’t ask for much better accommodations.

I want to be very clear. I have no need or desire for justice for myself or my sister. What happened to us is 30 years old. We have found our ways to making peace for ourselves. Neither one of us cares about trying to get any vengeance. We are fine with where we stand as adults.

I cannot, however, given the nature of the FBC atmosphere, nor the circumstances in which this man now finds himself, sit idly by and do nothing. It is of the utmost importance to me that this man be checked out to ensure that he is not perpetrating these same atrocities on the young men who now look up to him and call him coach. However, I haven’t a clue as to how to make this a reality.

I have written to the Attorney General’s office of Illinois, but it has, thus far, been to no avail. I have heard nothing in response. I do not know where to turn, nor what to do. I am asking for help. I just know that I could not live with myself if some time in the future a boy stands with the courage to accuse this man, and I knew I could have done something to stop it sooner.

Let me be very clear, it is unequivocally my hope, that this man is innocent. I do not desire to harm him, his wife or his children. I want more than anything for this man to be innocent. I also cannot ignore the past.

Recently, I have been tapped to join a foundation that helps those who have been victimized by sexual assault tragedies. In so doing, I have written a one-man show about my experience. This show has had me digging deeper and deeper into feelings and memories which I have long forgotten, or at least attempted to forget. This has also led to a very emotional, albeit very healing, conversation with my sister about this situation.

It is very apparent to me now that many people need this story. Far too many of us sit around wishing and praying and hoping that things will be different. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we hopelessly pray for a time machine to go back and make it all different. Obviously, we cannot do this.

It is far too easy to sit and relive the past. It is a vicious whirlpool of emotion and thought that can suck us down into feelings of self-pity, despair, depression, anger and resentment, and here we can, if we so choose, live for the rest of our lives. But what sort of life is it when we make that choice?

There is another way. People sometimes think I’m crazy to have forgiven and found compassion for the person that did this to me. I think it’s crazy not to.

It’s simply a matter of choice. We can choose to hold on to the hate, the anger, the resentment at having our innocence destroyed, or we can also choose compassion and forgiveness. I grant you that finding compassion and forgiveness is harder in the short term, but holding on to anger, hatred or fear will gnaw away at your heart and mind until it finds a way to literally destroy your physical body.

Can you really choose forgiveness and compassion for something so horrible? People question me all the time, most of them unable to comprehend such an act in light of the circumstances. I tell them it’s only the hardest thing in the world until you see how easy and necessary making that choice is. I didn’t choose forgiveness and compassion because I thought my perpetrator deserved it. I didn’t do it because it was the “right” thing to do. I’m not a saint. I chose forgiveness and compassion for ME. I didn’t choose it for him, for his benefit. It was for ME.

I deserve to live my life free of the burden of his transgressions. Those transgressions are his, not mine, so why would I choose to carry his burden through my life? Life presents us with many challenges, and we have enough with which to contend for ourselves.

You deserve to be free. The choice is yours, and it is your gift to yourself. In fact, it is the only key, the only elixir, the panacea that you need to be whole and healthy again.

As victims of sexual abuse and assault we don’t want to just survive. We don’t want to just be alive! We want whole, happy, healthy lives! We want healthy sexual relationships with the person with whom we choose to spend the rest of our lives!

The power is within you! It is within all of us. It took many years, but I have finally found my voice. We all have a voice. It is time to use yours.

John Brook’s Story

Author’s Note: I would ask folks to read the disclaimer on the front page of my website. The stories on this blog are the sole property of their authors. These people have been abused. They have been traumatized by that abuse. It has affected their whole lives in many harmful ways. They have been silenced for years. They have lived their lives in fear. This said, it is not the intent of this blog to let arguments break out in the comments due to the stories on this blog. As stated on the front page of my website, I do not wish for these victims to be further victimized by harassing comments from those who disagree. One must remember that these are THEIR stories. I will, however, change, with the approval of the author, anything that needs to be changed to ensure peace while still allowing the victim to have his voice. the goal is for victims to have a voice and to tell their stories. This allows for healing. John is being inundated with emails as a result of speaking out. The sad part is that we all want victims to come forward, yet refuse to believe them when they do. Unfortunately, this is the norm for all victims. I have made the appropriate changes to this story, with permission, to save John the harassment and those who read it from attacking him further.

John Brooks’ Story:

My name is John and this is my story …

My Father had a bathtub conversion (after attending a fundamentalist church and taking hallucogenic mushrooms) when I was about 5 years old. It was not long after that “conversion” that we began to attend a church in Torrington, Wyoming and I found myself being indoctrinated into a cult. I was constantly bombarded with how much of a sinner I was and that hell and the devil was waiting for me. I hated going and would feign sick just to get my Mom to stay at home so I wouldn’t have to go to that place. I would have horrific nightmares of the devil and hell. When I went to my first vacation bible school, I was told that I had to accept Jesus or I would surely die. It was terrifying and traumatic and I remember wishing I could just disappear and never be found. About 4 days in, I wished I could be a girl because they got all the treats and all the prizes. Little did I know that they were being groomed for a life in hell.

About a year later that pastor left and a new pastor came in. He was a lot more liberal and it was the first time I had ever heard Christian rock. I was ecstatic for once! I felt that I had found something that I could enjoy. This elderly lady got up in the middle of them playing and shouted “If you can’t play well then play loud!” I was appalled.

Unfortunately, my Dad got a transfer to work in Douglas Wyoming. So, off we went and within a week we had found “the right one” (church). I was again thrust into a hell fire and brimstone Bible- banging Baptist Church. I was seven years old and the preacher’s wife was not going to let “her precious children go to hell”, so, I had to go up front and beg God to save me. I was seven years old! I did not understand anything except the fact that I did not want to die and go to hell. I was scared to death.

Often, they would bring in evangelists and their families to have revivals. One story that I remember well was the one an Evangelist told about a Dad and his son who were working in the fields with a combine. The little boy slipped and fell into the combine and was torn apart. As he lay dying, he told his father that he had been going to church behind his Father’s back and that he had asked Jesus to save him last week. His Father began to weep and told his son that his grandfather had been a preacher but, he had walked away from them and started his own life with God. The Father began to weep and asked God to save his son and that he would give his life back to God. But alas, to no avail, the child died in his Father’s arms. The Father then went to the church and re-dedicated his life to God.

When I heard this story, I began to cry uncontrollably and my mother had to take me outside just to calm me down. I was devastated for that child and his family! I was not needing to be born again. The preacher came out and told my mother it was the Spirit of God moving in me. It was the heart of a child feeling sorrow for the death of another!

As the years progressed, I was forced to go to summer camp at Camp Grace by Wheatland. I was forced to learn verses and recite them or I didn’t eat. I was belittled as I was a small child and much smaller than any of my peers. The older counselors would take my clothes and run them up the flag pole as punishment for not doing their bidding. On more than one occasion I was instructed by the counselors to become a preacher as that would be all I would be able to do with my life as I was so small.

A friend of mine was told that because his Father had died in a oilfield on a Sunday and was not in church, that he was “burning in hell” for not going to church like a “good christian” should do! My friend was devastated and I remember him crying all night long. I tried to console him, but it was to no avail. I hated camp and would beg my Mother not to send me, but my Father had other ideas, and not going wasn’t an option.

By the 9th grade, I was informed that we were no longer going to public school and instead, were starting a private christian school and that we would be taught in “God’s way, not the way of the world”. This began my “training”. I would become a missionary or preacher and this was to be my fate, no free will, no deciding what God’s plan for me was. It was simple. I was to be a preacher or missionary; nothing else! This is what the church, Youth Pastor, Deacons and Pastor had decided for me. I was furious!!

It was at this point that I began to rebel and secretly fight the system. I would be their little preacher when they were looking and a demon when they weren’t! I was told to find a girl from the church and they would set her up to be my wife when she was old enough. I had no choice other than to pick one of the girls in my younger sister’s class and they would do the rest. I would take certain girls to the side and have them come over for sleepovers with my sister so that I could decide which girl I liked the most.

In tenth grade, I began to work at a hotel and found out what the real world was like! I loved it!! One night as I was leaving, I was asked to come back and work a banquet that evening. I knew it was a Wednesday night and my Father would be furious but, I accepted. The night went well and I made over $100 in tips. It was the most money I had ever made and I was overjoyed! This was short lived as the very next day my Father was called into church from work and I was accused of prostituting the teenage girls at the banquet! I was blown away! My Father came home and began to beat me until my Mother begged him to stop! I had bruises from the top of my back to the souls of my feet. I asked through my tears and pain what I had done wrong and was told. I was also told that I was not allowed back into church until I went forward on Sunday and confessed to my sins in front of God and the world! I refused and was beat yet again! Finally, I agreed to go. By that Saturday, the truth came out. The Youth Pastor’s wife and one of the teachers admitted to lying about me after one of the new converts had seen me at the store on Friday and asked me what happened. I told her what they were saying about me. She was appalled and went to the Pastor to tell him what really happened. I went forward that Sunday and re-dedicated my life to God. Within a month, the Youth Pastor and his wife were asked to leave to pastor a new church and the teacher was moved to another school in another state. Nothing ever happened to the Youth Pastor’s wife or the teacher.

Life at the Christian School was a nightmare. We were constantly under intense scrutiny and forced to do ungodly amounts of homework “to catch up” on our godly training. We were under fear of the Principle and the Pastor because when we messed up, we got “the board of education” applied; a paddle with holes in it. The Pastor saw one of them when he went and taught school at Maranatha Bible School. We hated that thing with a passion! And to add insult to injury, our Parents were notified as well and then they also gave us beatings. You know the “spare the rod spoil the child” saying went a long way here. I lived in constant fear and hated my life. Many times I would BEG God to kill my Dad or Mom or even me!

I hated school! We were told that Lester Roloff’s homes were a possibility for those that did not “conform” to their ways. They even went as far as bringing Lester and his group of reconverted bad kids up to have a revival with us. It was horrible! I had to share my room with this teenager from New York who had been in a rock band and was sent by his folks to the home. He begged me to help him run away but I was so scared of being caught that I refused. But, I promised to never tell anyone about our conversation. And I haven’t until now.

As the college tour groups came through to perform and recruit, I felt the call to go to Pillsbury Baptist College and was welcomed with open arms by the President of the College. But, I was told “NO! YOU ARE GOING TO HYLES ANDERSON!!! You will be a Preacher or Missionary !! NOT a laymen from Pillsbury!!” I graduated from High School and for the first time, I felt freedom.

It was a few weeks later that we moved to Denver and started attending another Baptist  Church.  My brother was almost molested there, but I managed to stop it and was abruptly asked to leave the service immediately.

After the “incident”, we decided that South Sheridan Baptist was a better fit for us, so we left Mile High. South Sheridan brought on a whole new array of problems that I was not ready for. My Father decided that if I were going to go to college that I needed to get a job and work. Work meant that I would go and earn money to go to college not for things I thought I needed. So, I went to work. A few weeks before I was to leave for college, I was told that Jack Hyles was coming and wanted to meet the new batch of students that this “wonderful church ” was sending his way. So, I met the “Great Preacher and soul winner” Jack Hyles. He spoke as if I would be his right hand man at the school and I would be well taken care of!

What a lot of hooie! I was sent on my way and when I got there I was sent to Baptist City to live … no car, no ride, no Hyles, no one, just me, all alone and scared. I was thrown into a room with 5 other guys and one shower. There were no locks so, your things were gone through on a daily basis.

Within the first week, I was told that I would be on the bus route “as this is how young preachers learn the ropes”. I was given my schedule for classes and was told this is what has been planned for you by your Pastor. I was stunned… I had Jorgensen, Coombs, Godfrey and Mrs Moffit as my teachers that were to turn me into a “man of God”. I was also to be Mr. Hyles’ personal helper at church on Wednesday nights and at the conferences. With the buses, I was sent to Joliet, to the bad side of town and into the welfare apartments to find those kids for Christ. I had a gun pulled on me, was chased by a gang and was held against my will by a deranged man and wife for 15 hours until I escaped and caught the Sunday morning bus with a story that I had missed the bus and had to stay at a kids home.

I made it 1 1/2 years at Hyles and then told my Mom I had had it and was coming home! I had seen Jack Hyles coming out of his office and his secretary adjusting her stockings and dress as he zipped his pants up! I knew what was up, and I knew that was not his wife!… I wanted out! I had been propositioned by Mrs ___. for sexual favors to get good grades. She had shown me her panties and flashed me so that I “would feel comfortable with her”. It was very unnerving for me and I began to shake uncontrollably. She let me leave her office and I was to return after the Christmas break to continue my “training”. I ditched her classes after that until I decided to go home.  I also got thrown out of Mr. Comb’s class for confronting him about me catching him looking up girls’ skirts as they sat in his class.  He was furious with me and that is where I got my 99 demerits for the last semester I was in Hyles Anderson.

So, I got home and was disgraced by the Pastor of my former church as a quitter and a no good useless Christian that would never amount to a hill of beans. Within a few months, I joined the Air Force and found freedom. I became a wild man and dipped into alcohol like it was the last thing on earth! I walked away from Christianity and went crazy! As I was about to leave the Air Force, my mother passed away. It shook me to the core! I became depressed and began to contemplate suicide. I remember my brother’s girlfriend walking in on me getting ready to slit my wrists and she talked me out of it. I became uncontrollable and went into drugs and heavy drinking. The meth and Pot would get me up and the downers, alcohol and Pot would put me to sleep. This went on for a number of years until I was homeless and living in my car on the street. I was a functional drug addict and alcohol abuser. I could work and keep a job and party all night. There were times I would not sleep for 5 or 6 days in a row. Yet I kept on drowning my guilt and losses.

One night, after partying for 4 straight days, I passed out at my friends place. It was a mess and he had to go over the road so, he left me in charge of cleaning and straightening up the mess. I passed out only to be awakened just hours later by a vision. It was my Mother, my Grandmother, and all those who had gone on before. All in one voice saying that “this is not your time” and with that they disappeared. I got up sober and took a long look in the mirror and it was at that point that I told myself no more! NO MORE!! So, here I am, 20 years later, and I have been clean from drugs and have the very occasional drink. But, I am in a better place in my life now no thanks to the Fundie cult!

Jeff Whitey White’s Story

I grew up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in Walls, MS. I went to First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for their youth conferences as a teen. I planned on going to their college, Hyles Anderson College, but was so abused by graduation that the thought of staying would make me physically ill.

 At this Baptist Church, I underwent such horrors that it has taken over ten years for me to overcome the abuse. I tried to play along with their rules and fit in by sticking with friends who wore pants or were feminine because it helped take the spotlight off of my own gayness. I cannot count how many times that I attempted suicide throughout high school. I just knew that if they had found out that I was gay, they would kill me. I believed this because it was what Phil Kidd, a prominent Evangelist in the movement taught them to do.

One teacher at school, S.B., noticed I was gay when I was 16. How I knew that he knew was from the day he asked me to stay after class and forced himself into my mouth in the classroom then took my virginity on his desk. After he was done, I was told that if I ever said a word, the church would all know that I attacked him and that was why I was killed. I never said a word until years later because I knew I wouldn’t be believed. After it all happened, it became a regular thing for him to take me into his office and use me up until I stopped crying. I’m okay now, and I knew I was gay before this happened. I just pray that the ones this is happening to in other churches today could know that if they speak up, they can get help. You don’t have to be called an abomination and be forced to take the abominations that you are being given. I pray that, if God is real, that he will save our world from the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement and take these hate mongerers down.

My parents thought they were helping me to find God. It took me so long to forgive them for sending me to that school. I finally realized that they meant well and just wanted me to have a foundation of Christ to build my life upon. They had no idea what darkness laid before us. Had they known how horrific that place was, I know they would’ve saved me. Today, I am proud of who I am and the fact that not only did I survive this church, but that I came out of it stronger and with the knowledge that no matter what I may be told, I am an amazing man who is loved by his friends because of the strength and dignity that I possess. This IFB Church was the worst thing that happened in my life, worse than the cancer, but, in a way, it was the best. I learned to love myself despite the hate of others. That is the most freeing lesson.

I apologize for the less than eloquent writing I’ve done here. I’m going on three hours sleep and am not quite myself. But either way, thanks for allowing me to share.