Monthly Archives: May 2013

Cynthia McClaskey’s Story – The many “RED FLAGS” We Ignored

CYNTHIA 1998

Me during my cult days – 1998 – after leaving this first IFB church.

First of all, let me say that I have hesitated in writing my story on this blog because I spent the first half of my book, Religion’s Cell, expounding on the tactics used against me and my family as members of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. It just didn’t make sense to me, once I wrote my book, to tell my story ever again. Actually, there was no need to. I wrote it in my book out of a need to expel the hurt and anguish that I was dealing with. Once I wrote my book, I had no further need to “re-tell” my story.

Over the last year, however, I have had many of those that have read my book tell me that they wished I had told more of my story in my book. Other victims have asked me why I have not told my story here as well. In truth, I just didn’t feel the need to do it. My recovery from the spiritual and emotional abuse, to me, was complete and, I felt that God had prepared me for the tasks at hand. It is because of other victims, that I tell more of my story here. It is for them and those readers that have a desire to hear more, that I write it here today in hope that it will help them.

This said, I do not wish to just tell a story. As is my usual writing style, I want people that read what I write to learn something that will help them. This is why I have chosen to write this part of my story in the manner in which I have.

I will not recount the destruction and trauma that I have spoken about in my book. That part is available for the world to read if they so choose. What I want to talk about are the “red flags” that my husband and I ignored in the very FIRST fundamentalist church that we attended that set the foundation for the  destruction our family.  We attended two other IFB churches after this one that also watered the seeds of legalism and instilled attitudes and behaviors that led to abuses in the home.  All three churches operated under the same system, rules and tactics.   I speak about these other two in my book.  For the sake of others experiencing these “red flags” and ignoring them, is why I am covering this topic. Hopefully, it will save others from suffering the heartache and destruction that our family experienced because we ignored the “red flags.” Our Christianity was built around a corrupted foundation of man-made doctrines, rules and dogmas. I want to save others from building their lives around such a foundation.

I sincerely hope that my story is a blessing and encouragement to those who find themselves in the same place of religious bondage that I found myself back in 1993 when my husband and I joined a fundamentalist “cult.” I also hope that those in an abusive church will recognize these “red flags” and FLEE the abusive system to find true freedom in Christ.

— Cynthia McClaskey, Author

red flags ignored

My husband and I were invited to an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in 1993, by our friend, N_____.  At the time, we had been attending and Assemblies of God Church with our two children for the previous three years. (Before that, we went to a Catholic Church. I was raised Catholic.)  Although we thoroughly enjoyed the people and the preaching there, there were things that we could not wrap our minds around as being “right.”

Our first service at TBC was an event that my husband and I will probably never forget. It was our introduction to expository preaching. What we felt at the time, was that the preaching was such that it was applicable for everyday living. The preaching was the first thing that drew us in. The second thing that drew us to this place, was the friendliness of the people. This is not to say that the people at AOG weren’t friendly; they were! There was just something “different” about the way that these people treated us. The inner circle of members (leadership and their families) acted like they genuinely cared about us and our family. For several months after, they showered us with attention and love.  But, we soon learned that it was not what we thought it to be. The real friends soon stood out above those that wore the “facade” of love. This was a “red flag” we ignored.

After joining the church, we realized there was something different about the ladies at this church. It never really stood out beforehand. All the ladies wore dresses. No one wore pants!  It wasn’t long before I was pressured into giving up my pants in exchange for “service” and “the will of God.”  My husband did not agree with this rule but went along to keep peace in our relationship. After this, many more rules were expounded to us that we were required to adhere to in order to be in “God’s will” and to “serve” in the church in any capacity. There were so many spoken and unspoken rules of dress for the women, that the load was grievous to bare. This was a “red flag” we ignored.

Unfortunately, because I was an independent thinker, I soon experienced isolation. This wasn’t an obvious isolation to those around me because it was done in an unusual way. The clique, those in the inner circle in the church, started avoiding me. They would not shake my hand or talk to me. They would just smile and walk on by.  If they saw me walking toward them, they would make sure to keep a distance from me.  In the church and church gatherings, they kept their distance.  There were countless services where I would sit in the pew and no one would talk to me except a few choice people.  I felt like something was wrong with ME.  I felt unloved.  I felt that if they thought something was wrong with me then, God must feel the same way and, was angry with me. This attitude was further exacerbated by the financial stress in our lives. God must surely be punishing us, because of ME!  At night, I would cry to my husband about how I felt. I cannot count the number of times I cried about this.  This went on for three years!  My husband would tell me that maybe they were intimidated by me or, that maybe they did not have people skills and did not know how to hold a conversation. He would tell me that there was nothing wrong with me; but I didn’t believe him.  I tried to conform to everything I was told to conform to; to no avail. I just wasn’t good enough for them, or God.  Today, I understand that shunning is a tactic used to get people to conform to the rules – and it works!!  Despite this treatment from the “inner circle” however, we made some wonderful friendships that we thought would be for a lifetime. After exiting, we realized that we were wrong about that too. This shunning was a “red flag” that we ignored.

There were only two families in the church that really made the difference for us and, were the only reason that we stayed there in the early days of our membership. We developed a genuine friendship with them and their children and a genuine love for them. These two families were some of the most wonderful people we had ever met. Later, we developed friendships with a few other families and our whole time in this church revolved around just a handful of people.

These initial two families took us into their homes and genuinely loved us. They also influenced us toward “the rules” me and my husband and our children were taught to follow regarding women and men, dress standards, associations, etc.  In the same vein, the preaching and teaching was key in reinforcing the legalistic mindset of our oldest son that fostered his contempt and rebellion toward me as a women later on.  The teaching and preaching was also responsible for my indoctrination and my mindset that fostered abusive responses toward my husband and children later on.  These indoctrinated responses toward conflict became knives that cut through the very fabric of the relationships in our home.  Looking back, we realize that they did it unknowingly because it was all they had known and were taught as “truth” for many years before we ever came on the scene.  They were conditioned to believe as they were “taught” and believed it was “TRUTH.”  We did it because of the same reason. We thought we were being taught “truth” and that in order to please God, we must follow the rules the church taught.  Nonetheless, these two families loved us and we loved them. There was no finer example of Christian love than these two families.  What we have since realized is that many of the people within this sect exhibit  “conditional” love toward others based on conformity; not an “unconditional” love that mirrors God.  The fruit of this association with this church was the planting of the seeds of legalism in the minds of my husband, me, and my children; seeds that later sprouted and led to much abuse and strife in the home.  All of this, hidden under a cloak of righteousness that no one could see.

T.B.C. was a small church in a small town.  There were probably only about 50-60 families at the time we joined. At least, that’s all we ever counted in the services. This did not include the bus kids.  They had a bus ministry, a choir and soul-winning and visitation.  The next  “red flag” occurred when I decided to join the ladies visitation with my new friend, A_____.  Today, I wish I had not ignored this “red flag.”  The pastor’s wife and, many of the ladies that were in the inner circle, were seated at a table in the kitchen area. I was the only woman not in, or associated with, “the inner circle.”  In walked the Pastor and he began bad-mouthing a former staff member that had just left the church. He and his wife were two of the most precious people. I sat there in shock as I witnessed his comments regarding S_____. Did anyone else pick up on the slander? Did they see it for what it was?  I didn’t know.  I left to go on visitation with what happened imprinted on my mind and heart.  I knew this family. How could he speak evil of them? I went home and told my husband about what the Pastor said and we both decided to keep this knowledge to ourselves.  But, it helped us to put a question mark on everything the pastor did from that point on.  I did not understand until after I exited the cult, this tactic. It is used on every person and family that leaves the cult in the “wrong” way.

The next “red flag” that we ignored was that everyone in the church seemed to hold the pastor on a pedestal as though he were God. The church members displayed an excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to the pastor. No one was allowed to question anything the pastor did. Anyone foolish enough to do so would be publicly humiliated from the pulpit or through gossip. We learned quickly that the pulpit was used as a whipping post to humiliate members into conformity to the leader’s standards and doctrinal beliefs! We also learned that gossip emanated from the top down and was used toward those who did not conform.  Needless to say, I was “labeled” as bossy, loud, and rebellious through gossip because of my independent spirit. On a regular basis, women were ridiculed and mocked from the pulpit by the Pastor. The underlying messages in the sermons were such that it led to an attitude that women were second-class people and should not be in positions of leadership over men! It instilled a “women are door-mats” mentality and, they better take the abuse quietly and meekly.  This battle with this mindset caused much emotional turmoil in me and led to a negative self worth and self-esteem. It instilled in my son, the attitude that he was not to submit to my authority because I was a women. This attitude was the cause of much conflict between us after leaving this church for the next fundamentalist church which hammered home this mindset to even a greater extent. (It was the second church that solidified this mindset in my son…and it was done by the teachings of people who were our closest friends. That is the saddest part of all and we could not see it until God showed it to me after we moved to our third church.)

The next “red flag” that we ignored was the fact that the church members seemed preoccupied with bringing in new members.  The whole system of the church revolved around “numbers;” numbers of bus kids on the buses, numbers in attendance in church, numbers in attendance in Sunday School, keeping track of numbers in soul-winning and baptisms. Where was the true fellowship and unity of the members when they were so busy trying to get numbers? The whole work of the ministry was all about bringing in the numbers and growing the church as big as we could make it. Later, I realized that the bigger the church, the more money that comes in to support the leadership.

The church members were also preoccupied with money and status. This was another “red flag.”  We began to notice that many members wore the nicest clothes and drove nice cars. The men and teenage boys always wore suits to church and the ladies and girls, the most beautiful dresses.  The pastor’s children, especially the wives, wore very expensive clothes AND, wore a different outfit for each day of the week. They very rarely wore the same outfit twice in a year! The pastor and his sons had many suits.  The special events for the Pastor involved the giving of much cash and expensive gifts to the pastor. The pastor and his family lived in a huge two story home provided by the church and exhibited “status” while some in the church were struggling simply to pay their utilities or to buy food!  That’s where me and my family were – struggling. Yet, we were required to give 10% of our GROSS income to the church or, we were not “right with God.”

By the time we left this church, our family had expanded to four children and, we were six people living on less than 15,000 a year.   I cannot tell you how often I went without food to give my children their two or three meals a day that usually consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or, pasta, oatmeal or some other cheap food. We drank powdered milk, never bought name brand foods, clipped coupons and very rarely ate out if it wasn’t business related.  It was so bad that the kids had developed the habit of hiding food for themselves, for later, from their siblings.  We laugh about this now, but at the time, we didn’t. Having something to eat was everything to us and the kids.  We shopped at Goodwill for clothes and, I fasted 2 – 3 times every week so that my children could have food because we could not afford enough groceries.  At one point, we had no choice but to go to the pastor to ask for food and they bought us enough food to last a few months. THAT was a blessing; but bittersweet. I will never forget how much I cried as the pastor’s son and his wife brought in the groceries. I was ashamed and I was thankful all at the same time.  As a result of poor income, and having to tithe 10% of our gross, as well as giving to missions, I dropped down to 94 pounds and silently suffered. In the evenings, if my mind wasn’t occupied with working, I would silently cry over our situation.  I felt that I had no hope of my life ever getting better; that the hardships would never cease.  My husband would tell me often, “Honey, this is only temporary. You have to tell your self that.” I tried to do that, but it didn’t help.

The “red flags” began to pop up at every turn and we found ourselves struggling emotionally and wanting more than anything to find another church that taught the truth.  Sadly, because of indoctrination we genuinely believed that the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church was the only true church.  Therefore, we felt we had no other options but to stay put until God moved us to another IFB church.  All this time in this church laid the foundations in our family that reinforced the attitudes and behaviors and, fostered strife in the home.  Here are more of the “red flags” that we ignored:

  • Questioning of the doctrines, dogmas, teachings, rules or church policies was discouraged or even punished by the pastor and church members.
  • The leadership dictated in great detail how the members should think, act, and feel (for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders told the women what types of clothes to wear, how to discipline children, and so forth).  Because my husband and I never went to the pastor for “advice” in making personal decisions for us and our family, this led to some of the “shunning” I spoke of earlier that I could not understand.
  • The church was elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members. They made us believe that we were the only church that preached the “truth;” that all other religions were going to hell; that we had a mission to save the world from “hell;” that if we left the church, God would curse us and hurt us.
  • Because of the teaching and preaching, we, and many of the church members developed an “us vs. them” mentality which caused conflict with those outside the church who believed differently or lived differently. It instilled and “anti” mentality instead of fostering unconditional love toward others and accepting them as they were.
  • The Pastor was not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, military commanders). He was similar to a King over a kingdom and not only controlled his kingdom, but the personal lives of the members! There was no accountability for the pastor. He pretty much was able to do as he pleased regardless of what anyone else thought. Even if the pastor was wrong, the members would back him to the bitter end.
  • The leadership induced guilt feelings in the members in order to control them.  The preaching developed into congregant bashing on a regular basis. The pastor would consistently tell us from the pulpit how stupid we were; how sinful; how wicked.  This led to the members believing that without the pastor they could not be what God wanted them to be; that they could not serve God; that they NEEDED the pastor’s guidance in order to please God and be right with God.  This also instilled a mindset that God would punish anyone that left the church or believed differently than the pastor.
  • Subservience to the church caused me to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the church. I had Catholic parents and 11 brothers and sisters that I had nothing to do with for 20 years. Because of this, I am still estranged from many of my brothers and sisters. I have managed to build the bridge with my parents and a couple of siblings, but that is it. This is the most hurtful part of all. The loss of family and friends that once were my world. To this day, though I have tried, they want nothing to do with me or my family.
  • This loss of family and friends was replaced with expected devotion of huge amounts of time to serving the church in the ministry. Me and my children served 4 to 5 days a week for the churches we attended after this one. We were so busy serving that it prevented us from “thinking” and realizing that there were “red flags” that we should not be ignoring. This constraint on our time also kept us blind to calling the abuse exactly what it was – ABUSE!
  • We were encouraged or required to socialize only with church members. Anyone outside of the church would be a bad influence on us and our children and cause us to fall away from God.  This mindset was so strong that it helped to further our bondage to the church and the church family because, now, they were our only friends and family. The churches we attended made us sign a sheet of paper stating all these “rules” in order to serve in the ministry!

Ignoring all of these “red flags” led to a monstrous web of destruction over the coming years for my marriage and the relationships with our children.  The aftermath of which, caused me to go to place of contemplating suicide once the extraction from the cult was made. Toward the end of our stay in this church, the Pastor hated me, his family hated me, others hated me. So much so that when I went with my friend to the hospital to help her take a gift to the pastor’s daughter-in-law, the Pastor became visibly angry that I was there with her. When I went to visit my friend in the hospital, all the ladies got up to leave when I entered the room and the pastor’s wife had to stop them from being so obvious.  When we left the church, the pastor made my closest friends break any and all contact with our family and, made them return all my letters unopened.  To this day, I can only surmise that my “non-conformity” to his “control” of our home, and my independent spirit, was the reason for this.  How’s that for Christian love?

Extracting our family from the cult was traumatic for me. I speak of this as well in my book. I had a complete emotional breakdown and suffered for two years in the confines of my home. I lived in fear that God was going to hurt me or kill me.  I was so depressed that I believed that suicide would be the only way to stop God’s hand of punishment on my family because, truly, I WAS THE PROBLEM. Because God had made me a FEMALE, everything bad that happened in our lives, was MY FAULT. If something bad happened in someone elses life, it was MY FAULT. Because I was so sinful, God hated me. I could never be good enough for God or, others.  If you became my friend, you would be cursed because of me.  That’s the way the IFB teachings made me think and feel. Therefore, if I took me out of the picture, God would bless my family.

We have since, by the grace and mercy of God, been freed from the cult mindset. Now, I realize that God allowed bad things to happen to me so that he could bring about His PURPOSES in my life and prepare me for the plan he has for me.  The extraction was traumatic because of the way it all happened; BUT, it was the ONLY way God could get me out of the cult so that he could use me for his purposes in exposing the lies of the religious system and giving victims a voice regarding their abuses.  God KNEW what I needed to go through in order to be awakened out of my religious slumber and mindset in order to realize “truth.”

After exiting the cult, my husband and I bought gifts for our children and sat them down and apologized to each of them for the way we raised them and asked for their forgiveness. With tears, we promised them that we would change.  WE DID.  We changed IMMEDIATELY in every way we possibly could and have never turned back.  Humbling ourselves and making a complete turn-a-bout is what salvaged our children’s love. They had been harboring much anger, hurt and bitterness toward us because of the disciplinary tactics of the IFB. I talk about these in my book, Religion’s Cell.  Thankfully, though, even though I have lost a relationship with many of my own siblings, I still have a relationship with my own children. I do not know if I could have survived losing them too.

What I have realized is that the teachings of the cult instilled “fear” in me that was unhealthy. It made me a serious person. It instilled a negative self-worth and self-esteem in me. Am I better today? Absolutely yes!  No more BONDAGE to a religious institution and its leaders! No more emotional and spiritual abuse!  No more TWISTED doctrines and theologies that degrade women!  No more verbal beatings from the pulpit about how wicked I am! Everyday I am thankful to be free. Everyday I am thankful for my husband and children. Every day I am thankful to be alive. I am thankful to the many victims of religious bondage and abuse that have also come into my life. I have since learned to love people “unconditionally” without any strings attached. I have a personal walk with God that surpasses anything I ever could have imagined. I do not attend church and I do not give to a church. I give to others individually.  I talk to God every day and know how much He loves me. He is pleased with me. He leads me along to do the tasks he has set before me. Yes, I am so thankful. If you or anyone you know experiences any of these “red flags,” I urge you to not ignore them. Many of these “red flags” are prevalent across all denominations where abusive churches are concerned. Do your best to extract yourself or, rescue your friends.

FREE Chapter from my Book, Religion’s Cell

bookcover (2)

RELIGION’S CELL:

Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse

By Cynthia McClaskey

I am giving this free chapter of my book because I want everyone to see how man has corrupted “translation” to put women into a place of inferiority and blame.  Placing blame on women has been the number one reason for the inequality and abuses that women have suffered for centuries. Because of what happened in the Garden of Eden, Eve and subsequent generations of women have been “forced” into a “curse” that God never made regarding women; but MAN did.  Today, many women in other countries have no rights, no autonomy, no protection from abuses. These lies of the “religious system” need to be exposed so changes in law can be made to protect women from abuse. It is time for women to be given back what was taken from them — their honor, dignity and autonomy.

I want to make sure that everyone understands that these passages do not in any way promote male power and control over women. It is when they are taken out of context and twisted that they become the tool of an abusive spirit and lead to the abuses that are pervasive in today’s churches.  Many other verses have also been corrupted by men to suit their agendas of keeping women in manipulative roles.  This corruption of scripture is covered at length on my blog, as it pertains to women, through the many articles .  My goal here is to shed light on how women became the brunt of religious abuse and corruption and how they became “labeled” as inferior to men.  In order to be thorough in presenting the truths that are about to follow, it means going back to the beginning of creation and starting in the Garden of Eden.  This information will require a different mindset on the part of the reader.  My prayer is that those who embark on this chapter will do so with a mind that is void of all bias and prejudice.   As mentioned in Chapter One of my book, “perceptions” of “truth” can hinder a person from understanding the real truth.  One must be able to lay aside all religious views.  Religious views will usually stand in the way of the acceptance of the truth.  This unbiased approach to what you are about to read is an absolute necessity as we embark on the following subject and weigh out the evidence regarding this topic.

— Cynthia McClaskey

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Male and Female Created He Them

Genesis 1:26 – 28And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.   And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

 Genesis 5:2  – Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam, in the day when they were created.

When I first came across these passages, and the realization sank in for the first time that both Adam and Eve were called “Adam,” I was totally shocked.  As many times as I have read the book of Genesis, these passages never jumped out at me until about four years ago.  From these passages we see that God called both male and female “Adam.”  God said, “Let us make man [or “Adam”—same word] in our likeness. . . in the image of God made HE HIM, male and female made HE THEM.”  Notice that man is spoken of as both singular and plural.  Has anyone ever wondered why this is so?

To answer this question, it would be appropriate to refer back to history.   One cannot interpret scripture without researching the history behind it to find out culture, customs, laws and problems of the day that were being dealt with.   Historical research can usually bring to light obscure passages that many struggle with as to their interpretation and meaning.

As far back as the days of Jesus, there was a theory that had been held among the Jews regarding Adam.   These views that were held are recorded in the writings of Philo of Alexandria and tell us that the Jews believed that man was, in the beginning, both male and female in one person.  This belief was also found among other writings among other peoples.  The term for a person who is born both male and female is Hermaphrodite.  Webster defines Hermaphrodite as “the union of the two sexes in the same individual.”  According to The Evolution of Sex by Patrick Geddes and John Arthur Thomson, there are three stages of development of the reproductive organs of an individual:  1) Germiparity, 2) Hermaphroditism, 3) Differentiated Unisexuality.  In this book we are told, “One view of the matter is that hermaphroditism was the primitive state among multi-cellular animals” (Thomson, 1889, 1908 p. 84).  There are people today still born this way.  They are born with both female and male reproductive organs.  In such a case, the parents decide which sex they would like their child to be and an operation is done to make the transition to one particular sex.   This said, it was believed that after Eve was separated from Adam, human beings were born in pairs, male and female twins.  If this held true, then there would have been a male and female Cain, a male and female Abel, etc.  This would account for how Cain secured his wife.

If this belief or theory is true, then this would explain the Lord’s words in Matthew 19:4, where he speaks about the sanctity of marriage.  “Have ye not read, that He Who made [no “them” in the original] from the beginning made them male-female [no “and” in the original]” (Bushnell, 1923).  The rabbis of early history had always read this passage as male-female, not male and female!  One must realize too, that Jesus was speaking to men who were probably familiar with this theory.  Dr. Heeshon, in his book Talmudic Miscellany, says, “There is a notion among the rabbis that Adam was possessed originally of a bi-sexual organism, and this conclusion they draw from Genesis 1:27, where it is said, ‘God created man in His own image; male-female created He them’” (Heeshon, 1880). This view is not unreasonable, as we know that Hermaphrodites are still being born today.  Assuming this theory or early belief is true, let’s follow it through and see where it leads us.  Before we do that, let’s finish with Genesis 1:28, where God pronounces his blessings on Adam and Eve.  This verse literally translated would be as follows: “Be ye fruitful and multiply ye, and fill ye the earth, and subdue ye her; and have ye dominion” (Harper, 1886).  Notice that the plural is clearly expressed in each form.   When God said this to Adam and Eve, he was saying it to both the male and the female.  He shows us that we are to observe perfect equality of the sexes in obeying this command.

Keeping in mind that “Adam” is used to refer not only to Eve’s husband but to “mankind,” let’s follow through on the above theory mentioned. The following excerpt is from the book God’s Word to Women by Katharine C. Bushnell.  This excerpt goes to the end of this chapter.  I have entered it word for word as stated in her book due to the profound importance of the information that she shares with us regarding this theory we are discussing.  Here it is:

The second chapter (of Genesis) describes the elaboration of the first Adam into two sexes.  The second chapter nowhere uses the word “create” of Adam, but a totally different word — “formed.”  Please look up this same word, “formed,” in Isaiah 44:2, 24 and 49:5, and convince yourself that it is used there exclusively of all idea of creation.  Then turn to Isaiah 43:1,7; 45:18, and see how it is used of a process additional to creation.  This is what St. Paul refers to, where he says, “Adam was first formed then Eve,” – I Tim. 2:13.  He is speaking of development, not of original creation.  Adam and Eve (so far as their primal state is concerned) were created simultaneously; but Adam was “formed,” elaborated, first.

After Adam was created, Gen. 1:31 tells us, “God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”  Therefore Adam was very good; but this condition did not last.  2:18 tells us that presently God says: “It is not good that the man [or “Adam”], should be alone.”  The “very good” state of humanity becomes “not good.”  What had wrought signs of this change?  We are not told, but the following points should be weighed:  (1) Adam was offered “freely” the tree of life (2:16), but did not eat of it (3:22); (2) was made keeper, as well as dresser of the Garden, (2:15), but Satan later enters it.  (3) Had God simply meant by the words “not good” that one person alone was not a desirable thing, the Hebrew expression for “one alone” in Josh. 22:20, Isaiah. 51:2, etc., would seem more appropriate.  This expression means, “in-his-separation,” – and from whom was Adam “in separation” but from God?

Attention to some of these matters has been called by more than one theologian, only to be ignored by the generality of Bible expositors.  For instance, William Law, a learned theologian and one of the most accomplished writers of his day, declares: “Adam had lost much of his first perfection before his Eve was taken out of him; which was done to prevent worse effects of his fall, and to prepare a means of his recovery when his fall should become total, as it afterwards was, upon eating of the earthly tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ‘It is not good that man should be alone,’ saith the Scripture.  This shows that Adam had altered his first state, had brought some beginning of evil into it, and had made that not to be good, which God saw to be good, when He created him.”

The late Dr. Alexander Whyte, of Edinburgh, in his book Bible Characters, set forth some of the views of William Law, and also of an earlier writer, Jacob Behman, the great German philosopher (whose writings Wesley, in his days, required all his preachers to study), Whyte quotes Behman as teaching –

“There must have been something of the nature of a stumble, if not an actual fall, in Adam while yet alone in Eden. . .Eve was created [he should say, “elaborated”] to ‘help’ Adam to recover himself, and to establish himself in Paradise, and in the favor, fellowship and service of his Maker.”

As to Adam’s need, God said, “I will make a help meet for him.”  This word for “help” does not imply and inferior, but a superior help, in O.T. usage.  It occurs 21 times in the O.T.  here it is used twice of Eve.  In Isa. 30:5, Eze. 12:14 and Dan. 11:34 of human help; but in every other use made of the word it refers to Divine help, as, for instance, Psa. 121:2, “My help cometh from the Lord.”  Please notice, further, that the expression is not “helpmeet,” or helpmate, as is often quoted.  The word “meet” is a preposition, and Gesenius, the greatest authority as to the meaning of Hebrew words, defines this preposition as often implying, “As things which are before us, and in the sight of which we delight, are objects of our care and affections, hence Isa. 49:16, ‘Thy walls are before me,’ they have a place in my care and affections.”  With this preposition “before,” or “over against,” is coupled the adverb “as,” – the whole meaning “as before him.”

By the elaboration of Eve, and her separation from Adam, God intended the development of the social virtues, as an aid for Adam.  Again William Law says, “Could anything be more punctually [pointedly] related in Scriptures than the gradual fall of Adam?  Do you not see that he was first created with both natures [male and female] in him?  Is it not expressly told you, that Eve was not taken out of him, till such a time as it was not good for him to be as he then was?”

We do not know certainly how the decline in Adam began, but we should not overlook one fact:  The man (the woman side of humanity being as yet undeveloped), was placed in the garden “to dress and keep it” (2:15).  Two duties, not one, were laid upon Adam.  This second word is the same as used in 3:24, where the “Cherubim, and a flaming sword” are placed, “to keep the way of the tree of life.”  Lange’s Commentary says, “Adam must watch and protect it [the Garden].  This is, in fact, a very significant addition, and seems to give a strong indication of danger as threatening man and Paradise from the side of an already existing power of evil.”

That “power of evil” manifests itself a little later in the form of Satan.  Did not Adam let him enter the garden?  Verse 17 goes on to warn Adam as regards “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and it seems legitimate to infer that he was not only to refrain from eating of this tree, but also to protect this tree from being tampered with by others, as it was, later, when Satan induced Eve to partake of it, and then the youthful Eve gave of the fruit of it to Adam, who ate also.

Overlooking some interesting points for the present, we pass on to Gen. 2:21.  The last clause of this verse is literally translated by Dr. Harper, in his Method and Manual, as follows: “He took one from his sides, and closed the flesh instead of it,” and the learned author of Genesis in Ellicott’s Commentaries, Canon Payne-Smith, speaks of the woman as coming from the flank of man, “so curiously from ancient times rendered ‘rib.’”

On the same point, Archdeacon Wilberforce has written interestingly to the following effect: “I do not profess to manipulate the Hebrew a single step in advance of the possibilities of any student who may possess the Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance, [the same can be said of Young Analytical Concordance], but the ‘rib’ seems to be a mistranslation.  The Hebrew word translated ‘rib’ in both the Authorised and Revised versions, occurs forty-two times in the O.T., and in this instance alone it is translated ‘rib.’  In the majority of cases it is translated ‘side’ or ‘sides,’ in other places ‘corners’ or ‘chambers,’ but never ‘rib’ or ‘ribs,’ except in these two verses describing the separation of Eve from Adam.  In the Septuagint version, which was the Scripture quoted by our Lord, the word is pleura, which in Homer, Hesiod and Herodotus is used for ‘side,’ not ‘rib,’ and in the Greek of the N.T. is invariably translated ‘side.’  There is a word in the O.T. the true translation of which is ‘rib’ and nothing else, and it occurs in Dan. 7:5, but this is a totally different word from the word translated ‘rib’ in the passage before us.”  We could have said all this, in fewer words, not quoting Wilberforce, and others, but then, we might have been accused of straining a point, because of sex bias.  Had God taken only a rib from Adam, the latter would not have exclaimed, “she is flesh of my flesh,” but merely, “she is bone of my bone.”  Let us never forget, when we hear a rationalist ridiculing the “rib” story of “creation,” that he is not in reality ridiculing the Bible, though he may think he is.  He is holding up to contempt a stupid mistranslation.

The separation of Eve from Adam was, then, an exceptional instance within the human race of what is well known to take place in lower orders of life.  Professor Agassiz, the naturalist, in describing gemmiparous or fissiparous reproduction, says: “A cleft or fission, at some part of the body, takes place, very slight at first, but constantly increasing in depth, so as to become a deep furrow . . . At the same time the contained organs are divided and become double, and thus two individuals are formed of one, so similar to each other that it is impossible to say which is the parent and which is the offspring.”  Each human body retains still abundant traces of a dual nature, in almost every organ and part.

The Bible is not a treatise on science, but wherever rightly translated it is found not to contradict science.  Nothing could be more unscientific than the representation that Eve was made from a single bone taken from Adam’s body.  We have already commented on the possible original bi-sexual nature of the human being — the androgynous, or hermaphrodite state, which persists, imperfectly, to the present time within the human family.

The idea that Eve was made out of one of Adam’s ribs has its origin in rabbinical lore.  One story says that “Eve was made out of a tail which originally belonged to Adam.”  Rav, the great head of the Babylonian rabbinical school, declared, “Eve was formed out of a second face, which originally belonged to Adam,” and another rabbi declares, “Instead of a rib taken from Adam, a slave was given to him to wait upon him.”  But Rabbi Joshua, in his commentary, has given the fable which has most pleased Christian commentators on the Bible.  It is quite general for them to quote it in part, or give some of its many variations.

Rabbi Joshua says: “God deliberated from what member he would create woman, and He reasoned with Himself thus: I must not create her from Adam’s head, for she would be a proud person, and hold her head high.  If I create her from the eye, then she will wish to pry into all things; if from the ear, she will wish to hear all things; if from the mouth, she will talk much; if from the heart, she will envy people; if from the hand, she will desire to take all things; if from the feet, she will be a gadabout.  Therefore I will create her from the member which is hid, that is, the rib, which is not even seen when man is naked.”  And this is the inane fable which lies at the basis of the idea that Eve must have been made out of Adam’s rib, whereas the Bible says God took one of Adam’s sides (or one part of Adam’s being), out of which, He “builded” her.

(Bushnell, 1923 pp. 16-17)

With this theory in mind, let’s enter into the next chapter and talk more about Genesis and God’s Law of Marriage that He instituted and, how this law was supposed to work. . . .  (For more, please see my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Leads to Bondage and Abuse.)

The State of the World Before Christ

before christAt the birth of Christ the Roman empire was comparatively, enjoying a state of peace ; but as to other nations, who were not subject to Rome, those of the eastern regions were strangers to liberty, owing, in a great measure, to their manners and effeminacy, and even to their religion; whilst, on the contrary, the northern nations, from their form of government, climate, and robust constitution of body, enjoyed the blessings of freedom.

All these nations, except the Jews, were devoted to the superstitious worship of many gods, over whom presided one deity, as supreme, yet in such a manner, that this supreme deity was even under the control of what the philosophers called “Eternal Necessity.”  As each nation differed in the names and qualities of their divinities, so did they also in their mode of worship. The Greeks and Romans, in process of time, became as ambitious in religion as in politics : they asserted that their gods were the objects of worship in all nations, and, therefore, gave the name of their deities to those of other countries. Hence arose great confusion in the history of the ancient superstitions ; and hence innumerable errors in the writings of the learned. Notwithstanding these varieties of religion, they produced neither war nor dissension among the different nations, the Egyptians excepted ; nor was this toleration exercised by any more liberally than by the Romans.

Departed heroes were generally the deities of almost all nations, though the natural world afforded many objects for worship. The sacrifices offered to these deities were according to their respective nature and offices.  Most nations offered animals, and many human sacrifices. Various classes of priests presided over the ceremonies, who abused their power in the grossest manner. Besides this public worship of the gods, the Greeks and eastern nations celebrated secret rites, called Mysteries. That this religion had no tendency to promote real virtue is most certain, because the objects of worship were notorious examples of crimes, rather than of virtues ; and as to the knowledge of future retribution, it was uncertain and licentious.  Hence the wiser part of mankind, about the advent of Christ, looked with contempt on this corrupt system of religion.

The consequence of this theology was a universal corruption of manners, leading to the impunity of the worst of crimes, as fully testified by Juvenal and Persius among the Latins, and Lucian among the Greeks.

At the time of Christ s appearance on earth, the religion and arms of the Romans were spread throughout the world. With the view of not only confirming their authority, but also of abolishing the inhuman rites practised by the barbarous nations who were under their yoke, the victorious Romans introduced every where their own system of religion.

Passing from this view of the Roman religion to those of other nations, we find them divisible into two classes, political and military. In the former class may be ranked the religions of most of the nations of the east, especially of the Persians, Egyptians, and Indians: under the military class may be comprehended the religion of those northern nations, the Germans, Bretons, Celts, and Goths.
Notwithstanding the many wise men who have existed in all the heathen nations, none were able to stem the torrent of superstition ; which must convince us that none but God could reveal the truth, pure and unalloyed by error.

At the time of Christ’s birth, two kinds of philosophy prevailed; one of the Greeks, adopted also by the Romans ; and the other of the Orientals. The former was simply called “Philosphy;” the latter, “Knowledge.  The followers of the latter pretended to be the restorers of the knowledge of God, which was lost on earth. The disciples of both these systems again subdivided into a variety of
sects.

Of the Grecian sects, there were some which were enemies to all religion ; and others who, though they acknowledged a Deity, yet cast a cloud over the truth. Of the former kind were the Epicureans and Academics ; of the latter, the Platonists, the Stoics, and the Aristotelians.

In all these sects, as there were many things maintained absurd and unreasonable, certain men of judgment and moderation determined to adhere to none of them, but to extract out of each reasonable doctrines, and to reject the rest. Hence arose a new form of philosophy in Egypt, and principally at Alexandria, which was called the “Eclectic,” and founded by one Potamon, of Alexandria. This sect held Plato in the highest esteem.

From this brief account of the ignorant and miserable state of the world at the birth of Christ, it is self-evident that mankind required some Divine teacher, to convey to the mind true and certain principles of religion and wisdom, and to recall them to the sublime paths of piety and virtue,

The Jews, at this period, were nearly in the same state as other nations, and were governed by Herod the Great, a man of the most vicious and tyrannical disposition.

— Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, 1822

It was this state of the world that Christ came into. History tells us that many of the oriental philosophies and beliefs had infiltrated not only other pagan religions, but the Jewish religion from the time of the Babylonian captivity. From these corruptions came the many “rules” regarding women; the 10 curses of Eve; the subjugation; the servility.  What also came into being was the BIGGEST lie of all that I speak about in my book, Religion’s Cell.

Jesus came to undo all this superstition and to set woman in her rightful place as an equal to man, restoring the honor and dignity that was stripped from her because of these many corrupt belief systems.  As a result of the state of the world at Christ’s death, being that Christ did not stamp out all of the superstition and change existing laws regarding women, men soon stripped women of the autonomy, honor and dignity once more. To this day, women have borne the brunt of the abuses – sexual exploitation, rape, incest, murder, mutilation, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse.

Two Corruptions with Huge Consequences

corruption2The people, according to the example of the apostles, were chief in authority, (a regulation necessary at that time,) and had the power of electing their own rulers, and of rejecting any laws [or rules] proposed by them; they could also excommunicate or restore unworthy members. These privileges they had obtained in consequence of their general and public oblations.

A perfect equality [this includes an equality between male and female] and harmony reigned among the members of the church, as appears by their feasts of chanty, and by their mutual salutations of ” Brethren,” and ” Sisters.”

. . . All other churches chose their deacons in the same way ; and some chose also deaconesses, from among their devout widows and matrons.

— Mosheims Ecclesiastical History, 1822

The many articles on this blog continually point to the corruptions that have taken place in the church and in translation, that were done purposely by men of old to subjugate and control women. These changes went against scripture and were not the teachings or examples of God or his Christ, but man. Because the “fruit” of these corruptions and changes has been . . .

  • The sexual exploitation of women
  • The abuse of women – physical abuse, rape and incest
  • Subjugating women to men
  • Inequality of the sexes
  • Servitude of women to men
  • Emotional and spiritual abuse
  • Removal from authoritative positions in the world and in religion
  • Lack of protections from these abuses through civil laws

It is imperative that these corruptions be revealed for the sake of those women still suffering the bondage that these changes have brought into the world.  My books focus narrowly on several of the biggest lies ever propagated by men in order to control not only women, but the masses through fear. This blog focuses narrowly on even more corruptions not mentioned in my books.

Church history and the earliest manuscripts do not support many of the doctrines taught today in churches and religions across the globe; especially, regarding WOMEN. Therefore, these corruptions must be made known for the sake of equality, honor and dignity of women AND, to show the depravity, the pride, the arrogance and control-mongering to which men have resorted to gain sexual dominance.

Women had equality in the early church. They were leaders, deaconesses, had churches in their homes, and were apostles.

The members of the “assembly” of believers were in total control over every matter within their “assemblies.”

Corruption:  Women were removed from leadership positions in the church and relegated to servitude. As a result, they were denied autonomy, honor and dignity in religion and the world.

Corruption: There is one “man” as head of each assembly that has unquestionable authority in the lives of the believers and dictates “God’s” will in their lives [usurping the Holy Spirit’s position]. As a result, the masses blindly follow these “men of God” willingly doing what they are told to do….even to the point of murder and violence against those who disagree or believe differently.

The state of the church today is far from holy, pure and undefiled. The atrocities and abuses that lurk under the mantle, especially toward women and children, are criminal. These abuses thrive because of corruptions like these two that I mention and, the many others mentioned on this blog. It’s time to bring the corruptions out and set the truth before us; purging the filth that has permeated the church of God.

“RELIGION” Keeps Slipping Women “Wooden Nickels”

wooden nickelAndrew Murray defined humility as “nothing but that simple consent of the creature to let God be all, in virtue of which it surrenders itself to his working alone.”  Speaking of Christ, our example, he says: “His humility was simply the surrender of himself to God, to allow [God] to do to Him what He pleased, whatever men might say of him, or do to him.”

Please notice carefully a certain qualification in each of these definitions of humility. In the first, the creature “surrenders itself to GOD ALONE,” this is humility: in the second Christ does this, “whatever men around Him might say of Him, or do to Him.” Now, I ask, Is woman taught that it is “humility” for her to conduct herself after any such manner? Let us see. As to the first point, take, for instance, Dean Stanley’s teaching: “The authority of the husband is enthroned visibly upon her [the wife’s] head in token that she belongs to the husband alone, and that she owes no allegiance to anyone besides, not even to the angels before the throne of God.” Now, Mr. Murray’s definition as to humility speaks of GOD ALONE; Dean Stanley’s definition of a wife’s duty, as an allegiance to MAN ALONE. The first defines “humility;” the second defines “servility.” Since true humility EXCLUDES surrender to man (according to Mr. Murray), it is perfectly evident that exclusive allegiance to man would prevent woman from exercising true humility.

— Bushnell, 1923

Throughout church history, religious men of old have made it very clear that women must submit themselves completely to their husbands in every way; even if it was abusive. Women, for centuries, have been denied humane and ethical treatment based on this twisted teaching by men.  This attitude is contrary to what is set forth in scripture. According to Bushnell, “a dispute for the throne of God has existed between God and man ever since the Garden of Eden when humanity desired to be “as God.”  The culmination of this mindset will end when the Lord returns to “slay with the breath of His mouth” this “man of sin” who sets himself forth “as God” — 2 Thess. 2:3-8. But, what about women? What will God want women to do? Dean Stanly states, “Let women show their humility, their willingness to take a lowly place; let them put on a veil to show they owe no allegiance but to MAN ALONE,– not even to God’s own messengers, the angels before God’s throne.”

Am I the only one that sees how preposterous this teaching is? Men call this “humility” when, in fact, it reeks of arrogance, pride, control and self-interest. All this, clothed under the mantle of “God’s Will” for women using the terms “humility” and “womanliness.” According to Bushnell, “We observe that when an expositor and preacher of the Gospel wanders out of his path of duty “to preach Christ” as woman’s one example of conduct, and preaches “womanliness” instead, he sets up an idol of his own creation for women to worship; he turns himself to folly. We imagine such expositors would have been pleased had God sent into the world, an additional female Christ, to set women a female example; but since God did not see fit to do so, women are under obligation to endeavor, as best they are able, to follow the “manly” example of Jesus Christ, and leave the consequences with God. This is woman’s truly humble place. Any other is SHAM humility.”

SHAM humility is what fills many of today’s pulpits across the world by men whose only goal is to gain power and control over women. SHAM humility is filled with self-interest. True humility is filled with the “benefit of others,” before self. There is a big difference between the two. Men have placed this shroud of SHAM humility on themselves and used it to coerce and force women into submission to them. Christ was clothed in true humility and died to benefit the whole world, not himself. He put others before himself and raised them up to a place of honor before God, preferring them above himself.  True humility by men would raise women to this same place of honor and respect.

So, what was Christ’s attitude toward man, seeing HE ALONE is woman’s pattern?

John 2:23-25 – “Many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But JESUS DID NOT COMMIT HIMSELF UNTO THEM, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.”

What a great example for women to follow! Jesus did not trust “man.” He KNEW what men were all about. Jesus only committed himself to GOD ALONE. And yet, MEN want WOMEN to commit themselves to MAN (husband) alone. What is more amazing is that man takes this a step further teaching that women should be in subjection to ALL MEN.   Is man’s intent regarding women becoming clear yet? Men do not want a truly humble wife that follows Christ’s example, because Christ’s example sets forth that a woman should not trust blindly her husband. The marriage relationship was meant to be based on “equality,” not “inequality.” Inequality leads to abuse of women and, “idolatry” of the husband. Equality brings with it a “mutual trust” — a reciprocal tie and duty between both husband and wife. Bushnell said it well when she stated, “. . . this matter of the surrender of one’s entire person and conscience to the keeping of another human being is idolatry. — a deadly sin against God. Love does not require it. Never man loved as Christ; never man trusted himself to man less than Christ did. The more he surrendered Himself to God, the more humble He was; the less He committed Himself to man. Mark how he kept His conduct free from all human influences.”

To be GOD’S ALONE literally means to NOT be man’s in the least. Jesus let God do what He pleased with Him. He made no concessions to man. How differently religion has taught women! At every step of the way, religion has twisted teachings and corrupted scripture through translation to put women in a place of servility and idolatry to man. Women have been slipped the proverbial “wooden nickel.”  Everything a woman does is in reference to her SEX, not rather, with reference to her God! It is in reference to control, not honor and respect.

Men have made very sure that they have coerced and forced women into servitude; coerced and forced women into a second-class status; coerced and forced themselves into a place of sexual dominance, control and power over women through religious teachings as well as corruption through translation of scripture. Is it any wonder that Christ would not commit himself unto them?  Women should follow Christ’s example. Think about it.

Alice Carleton’s Story

I am a 66 year-old college Sophomore, because I wrote about my life and won a scholarship…it took me 6 years to go from Freshman to Sophomore.

This letter is lengthy, but I hope you will read it in its entirety, because it encompasses 36 years of abuse and a journey of, overcoming, thriving and unbelievable (others say) resilience, grace and courage under “fire.”

I was married to a physically (lesser extent) and verbally abusive “man” for 31 years and naively went to speak with the pastor (of disaster); I ended up educating him, although it was to no avail. I found the courage to get a divorce and then fought the spiritual abuse for 18 months to try and stop the pastor from “counseling” any more women, because two of the women were suicidal (because of his “counseling” skills).

In the end, my name was put up on a big screen in front of the congregation (3 times and on my birthday, no less), followed by the words, “Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God.” Called to a meeting (16 “men”), not allowed to have a woman with me, and asked “Are you still having sex with your ex?!” The abuser was never called to a meeting.

I stood in front of the congregation (they did this to me on my birthday, no less….8 years ago on September 29th) and said, ‘Wow, I didn’t think this many people would show up to help me celebrate my birthday…They were grim as a heart attack; I was smiling. Their problem was that I allowed the x to live in my house after the divorce.

I was fortunate to have a therapist who was an expert in spiritual abuse, journey with me for those 18 months…he taught me the most valuable words I’d ever heard: “Restorative Justice.” This is what you did, this is how it made me feel. I have letters from Dr. Ron Enroth (which I have used in my memoir and attended a spiritual abuse conference in California). As usual in my life, something positive came out of the situation: www.churchabusepoetrytherapy.com, with over 21,000 hits.

At age 60 I won a scholarship because of what I wrote about my life and at 66, am a freshman in social work/counseling. I am the most resourceful, stubborn person I know…..I never give up (sometimes that is not a good thing).

I believe we are here to make a difference, and I have been working like a “Trojan” to do that.

One of my passions is to get the message out there regarding verbal abuse, because it is so prevalent in our society, that it goes unrecognized…..even therapists miss the dynamics.

Here are some of my accomplishments toward getting the message out there. Please feel free to share any of these links so that others can be comforted and helped that are being abused in a religious environment.

Soul Poetry

Oakland University Review of Alice Carleton

The Oakland Press on Alice Carleton

The Oakland Post on Alice Carleton

Alice’s Website

I’ve been writing to media types for close to 20 years, so that I may use my voice to help (global statistics) the 1 in 3 women who are abused…every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted.

As of the U.S. Census of 2010, there are approximately 52,321,404 women living in this nightmare/human rights violation.

I am a moderator of an abused survivors’ group and American Counseling Association and I keep submitting my paper, Society’s Hidden pandemic: Verbal Abuse, Precursor to Physical Violence and a Form of Biochemical Assault. I can not understand how they do not accept it, but I will keep trying.

I don’t think society understands that abuse affects ALL of us. The U.S. spends over 5.8 billion dollars a year as the result of violence. Abuse is the leading cause of injury….more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

Over six million child abuse cases a reported every year.

At the end of my life, I hope that because I was here, someone’s burden was lightened.

I wrote to the producers of the OWN Network to propose a program entitled: The Silent Scream (stories of women living in fear, silence and shame) in abusive situations.

Except for 3 years in the army /Presidio of San Francisco at the height of the Vietnam war, hippies, peace, etc…..such culture shock, coming from a little town in Maine………..I have been in an abusive situation.

I didn’t meet my father until I was 33 (divorce situation), and never really thought much about not having a father; it just was…the way it was……60 years later, I wrote a book, taking the anguish of a lifetime: Sanctuary of the Soul (poems of anguish, healing, hope, comfort and celebration), and am honored and humbled at my endorsements: http://alicepoetry.webs.com/samplepoems.htm

My memoir: Ghost Child to Triumph (from a child with no voice, to someone who speaks up against injustice) is in the process of being edited.

Thank you so kindly for reading my story, and I look forward to your thoughts and would love to know what you think of my poetry, Sanctuary of the Soul

P.S. I grew up in extreme poverty:

(no phone, car, refrigerator, tub/shower) in a 120-year old tenement house with cockroaches and rats (they didn’t visit us too often; fear of my mother), in which snow came in through a crack in the wall (indoor olympics)…….molested by a drunken neighbor who broke into the apartment, after my mother had left me alone, had my hand held over an open fire by another drunken neighbor (woman).

I still cringe when I hear the nickname the tenement house had………. 50 years later. It is not a bad word, but the idea that people knew my house by a name was for me…..the final stigma/shame (worse than the abuse and poverty combined.)

Thank you for “hearing” my story!

Keith Rennar Brennan’s Story of Priest Rape

As human beings, we must work together to stop sexual abuse of women and children in the religious setting. Keith’s story is one that you will not want to pass by. Watch his video and join the many victims of clergy sexual abuse across all denominations that are coming forward and breaking their silence. TOGETHER we can help to stop the abuses hidden by religious institutions and those that run them.  Here’s Keith’s Story:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/184881577/of-god-and-gucci

This documentary is the inspiring true story of Keith Rennar Brennan. His story begins in 1976 in the Greenville section of Jersey City, NJ.
 
Keith, thirteen years old, is being raised by his devout Irish Catholic parents. Saint Paul’s Roman Catholic Church is an integral part of their family life. Mom sings in the church choir, Dad is the church usher, and his older brother is an alter boy. A creative child, artistic and musically gifted, Keith’s family is pleased when he becomes involved with the church by joining the folk group, playing his guitar and singing at Sunday Mass. Always a nervous child, everyone hopes that Keith’s involvement with the church will help him find his way. Instead, Keith would be taken down an un-Godly path encountering not one, but two men of the cloth who would repeatedly and violently abuse Keith over the next four years.

“I drew St. Paul’s Church for the cover of our Parish Bulletin when I was thirteen. Three years later I would daydream about hanging myself in it’s steeple.”

Keith’s first abuser, the church’s musical director Keith Pecklers, grooms the boy over the course of a few months. He is cunning, strategic and sadistic. Pecklers (great name for a Pedophile!) abuses the boy repeatedly over the course of six months.

Shortly after the abuse began, a new Priest, Father Tom, ( a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing) comes to St. Paul’s Parish. Fr. Tom befriends Keith, and within a few months, Keith trusts him enough to tell him that the musical director has been sexually abusing him. Fr. Tom promises to make it stop.  He does, but only for he himself to begin sexually and psychologically abusing the boy for the next four years.

Never wavering in his Faith, Keith, now fourteen,  prays for a way out. He is sent a real life angel, Diane; a twenty-five year old married mother of two children. They both serendipitously attend an acting class one night, and out of the corner of his eye, Keith sees the brass doors opening and in walks Diane.

She looked like an Angel. She had these beautiful brown curls and these magnificent blue eyes. I knew that she would save me.”

Meeting Diane at the beginning of his abuse was clearly Divine Intervention. A few years go by and Keith finally opens up to Diane and tells her about the abuse. She is able to help him break away from the church and his abusers. Soon after she gets divorced, they fall in love, and they get married.

Keith survives the abuse. Eighteen years old, and left with only his creativity and the love and support of Diane, he starts designing women’s clothes. He becomes successful in the fashion industry, eventually having showrooms throughout the country, with his designs being featured in magazines, television, and films, such as Cosmopolitan, US, The Sopranos, and Mortal Thoughts with Demi Moore.

In spite of his success as a Fashion Designer, and the ability to pursue his dreams, Keith still feels like something is missing in his life. Justice.

In 2008, thirty-two years after his abuse, Keith confronted the Catholic Church and the two predators responsible. Of God & Gucci tells his incredible journey of healing, redemption, and the pursuit of justice.   Keith has since become an advocate to change the Statute of Limitations for Childhood Sexual Abuse, “Soul Murder”, and has become the voice for so many who have yet to discover their own. In his home State of New Jersey, if you have been sexually abused as a child, you have two years from the point of “reasonable discovery” to initiate a civil lawsuit against your predators. Keith hopes that Of God & Gucci will encourage and inspire audiences to begin a conversation about healing, change, and accountability.

1 out of 3 girls… and 1 out of every 6 boys has been sexually abused.

This true story tells how Keith and Diane were able to surpass insurmountable odds and create a life of Faith, Love, Fashion and Divine Purpose. They have been happily married for twenty-four years.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You can now get involved in the making of this inspiring documentary. A Blueprint of how to be the Change that you want to see in the world.  Follow Keith Rennar Brennan from the origin of his abuse in Jersey City, to the Gold paved streets of The Vatican. From being victimized as a boy to becoming a survivor …finding his voice, and becoming a “Thriver”. Of God & Gucci transcends the subject of sexual abuse and becomes a universal life lesson about living life fearlessly, going after your Dreams, and becoming a Hero in your own life.

We can only finish this documentary with your help. You are as much a part of its creation as we are. The more people who participate, the more ability we will have to tell Keith’s story to as many people as possible. Healing is Contagious!

So, help by making a Pledge today, and by spreading the word to others. Share this link, “Like” us on Facebook. Twitter about Of God & Gucci ,and email this Kickstarter link to your friends, family, co-workers and supporters. You will be able  to stay in touch with us every step of the way, and we will keep you updated with the progress of the film. We promise to keep you in the loop.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON’T REACH OUR GOAL 

Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. The way Kickstarter works is that we MUST make our funding GOAL before the campaign expires or we don’t get anything. It is ALL or nothing. You do not pay anything until we reach our goal. The funding of this campaign is essential to enable us to finance the filming of multiple upcoming events as well as interview influential Politicians, Theologians, and Changemakers, throughout the World.

Our goal is the minimum needed to proceed, but overachieving our goal will help us go further into filming docu- drama scenes and increase the production value of our film.  We want to depict the effects of child sexual abuse as honestly as possible.

We can only finish this film with your help.

My heartfelt thanks for your interest!  Please spread the word to all of your friends about Of God & Gucci.

” Faith makes all things possible.   Not easy”.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We are at the beginning stages of making a large scale documentary. Sometimes factors beyond our control come into play that may cause unforeseen delays. While it is our sincere desire and goal to have this film finished and ready to send to you by March 2014, at this point we cannot GUARANTEE this date. If it is delayed, since you will be so intimately connected to the production, you’ll be the first to know, and you will receive constant updates on the schedule and progress we are making.

We will do everything we can to make this entire experience as easy, seamless, and positive as possible for you.

To contact Keith, click here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/184881577/of-god-and-gucci

Another Twist of Scripture to Subjugate Women to Abusive Husbands

michalThroughout the twenty years I was in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult, this next topic was one that I heard often in the preaching. Without fail, the theme of the message was that Michal was barren “as a punishment” from God for her words with David. The underlying message that was given was this:  If a wife disagrees with her husband, she will be punished by God.  This instills “fear” and causes emotional trauma to the woman because what she has to say becomes unimportant. It tells the woman that she has no say so in the way her spouse treats her. If he desires to be mean, hateful, and abusive, that she must endure it or God will punish her too.  Her desires and wants have no value in the marriage relationship and are of no VALUE WITH GOD.  This twisting of scripture places the man in a position of control and abuse that God never intended. Let’s look at this passage and hear from an expert whom I hold in much higher regard than the unlearned and secularly uneducated men that hold positions of leadership in most I.F.B. churches, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. According to Telushkin, it makes no sense to believe that God is punishing Michal for her words. Here is a paraphrase of what Telushkin talks about in his book, Biblical Literacy and then I will expound further on this subject.

“David whirled with all his might before the Lord” (II Sam. 6:14). The text tells us that Michal looks out a window and sees David dancing in the streets and despises him for it. Afterwards, when David returns, there is an exchange between Michal and David. Michal meets him after his return with anger and scorn saying, “Didn’t the king of Israel do himself honor today–exposing himself today in the sight of slavegirls . . . as on of the riffraff might expose himself?”

David responds to this verbal slap with an arrow to the heart of Michal: “It was before the Lord who chose me instead of your father and all his family, and appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel [that I danced]” (II Sam. 6:21). The chapter concludes with the verse “So to her dying day, Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children.”

Most Bible commentators generally sympathize with David; many explain Michal’s barrenness as God’s punishment for her angry words to David. But in truth, if Michal’s words were tactless, her husband’s were cruel. There is no reason to assume that God chose to punish Michal. More likely, after this brutal exchange the two never again were intimate.

— Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Biblical Literacy

One wonders, when Michal went to sleep every night in the palace, was she thinking of David or Palti, the only man who ever loved her and that she had five children with. 2 Sam 21:8,9 – “But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, . . . And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.”

No one stops to consider that Michal had been married for quite awhile before David took her from her husband! What kind of emotional attachment would she have to David by being FORCED to leave her husband and children!! The emotional TRAUMA alone is enough to chill one’s bones.  God is NOT going to punish further someone that is already suffering and is broken. If you think differently, then you do not serve the LIVING GOD that is full of compassion and mercy and love.  Michal was a broken women who was torn from her family by a King who showed no mercy,  compassion, love or care for Michal.  He did not love her. She was a tool used to keep Saul’s followers, and his enemies, at bay.  Michal, more than likely, was never intimate with David, because she KNEW he did not love her and did not care about her or her five children that she was taken from. David destroyed her marriage and family for his own SELFISH reasons.

David was human. He committed murder. He made some bad decisions. This was just one more to add to his list. BUT, to use this example in scripture to tell women that if they do not let an abusive husband have is way, that God will punish them is preposterous! More than likely, Michal did not have children WITH DAVID because she didn’t love him or want any children with him because of his cruelty toward her. And David. . . well, he didn’t FORCE himself upon her! That alone should make men realize that they DO NOT have a RIGHT to force themselves on their spouses and God does not expect women to submit to abuse.

Letter to Pope Francis on Clergy Sexual Abuse

Source: http://www.catholicwhistleblowers.org/Letter_to_Pope_Francis.htm

Letter to Pope Francis

[See also a PDF of the Letter to Pope Francis.]

Catholic Whistleblowers
P.O. Box 279
Livingston, New Jersey 07039

His Holiness Pope Francis
Bishop of Rome
Vatican City State, Europe

April 29, 2013
Feast of St. Catherine of Siena

Your Holiness,
From the convictions of our conscience we wish to make known for the good of the Church, you and the Christian faithful the experience we have lived regarding the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis and scandal.

Pope Francis, like the beggar whom the Lord passed by on the street (Lk18:35) but who nonetheless called out for healing, we call out to you.  The beggar was shunned by the apostles who attempted to silence him, to hide his hideous disfigurement from the Lord as if he might disfigure the one who created him.  The beggar refused to be cast into silence for he knew his healing could only come from the dispenser of the divine mercy.  Like this poor disfigured beggar we call out to you from the side of the road, we who have been cast off, the apostles telling us to be silent.  Please, Pope Francis, do not pass us by.

From the start, the apostles had the duty to sanctify and heal the faithful in their journey as companions of Christ. In other words, throughout the Church’s history the pope and the other bishops, as successors to Saint Peter and the apostles, are to be spiritual leaders who strengthen all of the faithful in their missionary efforts. The faithful trust that the pope and the other bishops will fulfill that responsibility.

During the past decades this previously embraced level of trust has been severely damaged, although not irreversibly so, by the crisis of clergy sexual abuse of children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults. This damage has grown into a full-blown scandal because of a self-righteous spirit of injustice, and the commitment to secrecy that many bishops and other Church leaders have demonstrated. This behavior has adversely influenced the religious practice of many persons, a scandal that hinders the mission of the Church.

In this letter we speak to the damage inflicted by clergy sexual abuse and present some recommendations that would contribute positively to rebuilding trust among the Christian faithful.

Whether committed by force or by seduction, every act of sexual abuse of a child, an adolescent, or a vulnerable adult by a priest is a crime, both in civil law and in Church law. We must speak about these actions first as crimes against the dignity of the human person. This must be the starting point for addressing this crisis.

Moreover, it is wise to keep in mind the injury caused by sexual abuse: that for many victims/survivors their lives have been changed and reaching their full potential has become more challenging, especially as the trauma of the violence and the countless hours of tears and depression are recalled; that the voice to speak about the assault so as to seek help and to demand justice frequently has been stymied by the perpetrator and silenced by Christ’s Shepherds.   Their ability to trust has been deflated, at times resulting in a reduced ability to enter meaningful adult relationships; and their participation in the Church can become limited or even lost.  Many have become lost sheep and yearn for the shepherd to find them and carry them home.

We can never forget those overcome by despair; we speak of those victim/survivors who abuse drugs and alcohol and those who tragically became victim-suicides.

While some people believe that the Church leadership has responded well to the crisis, many victims/survivors strongly disagree. Actually, they say that reaction of the Church to the abuse has been more painful than was the pain caused by the sexual assault itself. Ponder that point! In so many ways the Church that the victims loved and participated in has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear towards them, and at times has tried to make the victims be seen as the villains, with the bishops and other Church leaders sympathetically proposing themselves to be seen as the victims.   No, the victims of clergy sexual abuse are the victims – not the bishops or Church leaders. For this reason, without a doubt, the Church’s sexual abuse crisis and scandal live on today as strong as ever.

Pope Francis, do not pass us by on the Camino.  Throughout the years we and other people like us have encountered apostles chastising us to silence, and we have been unable to penetrate the will of decision-makers in the Church so that they would resolve this crisis and scandal. You can make a difference: do not pass us by but elect to show us mercy. You can change the Church’s response. You can rebuild trust and begin to bring about the necessary healing of the Body of Christ.  Walk with us and allow us to participate in the re-building, and together on the Camino we can make a great witness.

To do so, your priority must be increasing the knowledge of the truth and the doing of justice so as to bring forth healing and peace. Compromise or popularity must not be a concern.

Here are six recommendations concerning increasing the knowledge of the truth and the doing of justice:
1) Most importantly establish within the Holy See an international body composed of Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse, lay professionals and clergy who will be responsible for the facilitation in all dioceses of a dialogue between the Church and victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse, so as to nurture understanding. No one understands victims/survivors better than victims/survivors.  Do not pass us by but elect to show us mercy.
2) Revoke any oaths or pledges to secrecy by Church leaders while requiring them to provide thorough public explanations of all incidents of clergy sexual abuse.
3) Require all those who shepherd the flock of the Lord to make accessible to public scrutiny all documents and files related to clergy sexual abuse.
4) Remove from ecclesial office all Church leaders who facilitated the commission of clergy sexual abuse, obstructed justice regarding clergy sexual abuse, and/or destroyed information of any sort that could have served the cause of justice in clergy sexual abuse matters.
5) Require zero tolerance so as to remove from the ranks of the clergy and professed religious all those who in fact have committed sexual abuse of a child, an adolescent, or a vulnerable adult.
6) Compel all in Church leadership to the doing of justice. The common good of the Church and of the society must be taken into account, along with the equity between the parties that must include restitution and reparation.

Finally, Pope Francis, as the increased knowledge of the truth leads to justice, and justice in turn enhances healing and peace, the sexual abuse crisis and scandal will subside, trust by the faithful in the bishops will return, and the ability for the faithful to fully participate in the mission of the Church will be strengthened. Like the beggar on side of the street we call out to you. Do not pass us by but show us your mercy.  We make our prayer through the intercession of Our Lady Undoer of Knots.

We have the honor to be, Your Holiness,

Catholic Whistleblowers represented by:  Rev. John P. Bambrick (Jackson, NJ), Sr. Sally Butler, OP (Brooklyn, NY), Rev. Patrick Collins, Ph.D (Douglas, MI), Rev. James Connell (Sheboygan, WI), Rev. Thomas Doyle, OP (Vienna, VA), Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D. (West Orange, NJ), Rev. Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch, J.C.D. (Morristown, NJ), Rev. Ronald D. Lemmert (Peekskill, NY), Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN (New Castle, DE)

The Fruit of the Corruption

corruption

Many religions of today look like this Apple. They are so corrupted that they may not be salvageable.

Gradually, however, the notion of a priesthood, of a sacred order of men, found its way into the new society. Gradually the congregations were willing to relieve themselves of the onus of maintaining a thoroughly Christian life, and to commit their spiritual concerns to the care of their bishops or presbyters. These, on their part, began to assume a certain superiority in rank, and to restrict to themselves the title of the cleri or clergy (heritage of God), a title which hitherto had comprehended the whole body of believers. It must be presumed that the Church, having her vision somewhat dimmed by the spirit of the world, failed to see the danger into which she was falling, and did not perceive that Jewish modes of thought, instituting a false comparison between the Levitical priesthood and the Christian ministry, were perverting her original character. The result of this change was equally disastrous to both parties, to the officers of the Church and to the rest of the congregation. — Edward Backhouse, Early Church History to the Death of Constantine

It did not take very long for men to corrupt what once was “pure religion and undefiled” before God. Throughout church history there is an obvious “trail of corruption” by men, in order to gain power, control, prestige and wealth.  Every article on this blog exposes this truth. Every  where men elevated themselves to leadership within the church assembly, they instituted “rules” in order to gain control and power over the congregations. This “superiority in rank” as Backhouse terms it, was a leaven of corruption of the worst kind. It was the beginning of a new kind of worship within Christendom that led to blindness on the part of the people.  Instead of worshiping God, they made MEN their idols and bestowed upon them all the power, honor and prestige that was only to be bestowed upon God and his Christ.

Through these many “rules,” congregants were willing to give up their freedoms for bondage to an institution and, to the men running them. Little did they realize the magnitude of the corruption and the end result of it that we see today in churches everywhere. Anyone that “touts” himself as a “man of God” is revered, trusted and, allowed to lead. Some are given huge congregations to lead and others, small. But, all are allowed blind trust and followship by the congregants.  Many are worshiped as gods and as a result, there are countless abuses hidden underneath this system of worship. The targets of the abuse? Women and children within the congregations. When there is inequality in any setting, their will also be abuse. One of the first changes of these men of the early church, was to subjugate women and remove them from positions of leadership. Using their perverted translations of the scriptures, men of old made sure that women were subdued and thus, they became the most abused race of human beings in world history. . . all because of men and their man-made “religions.” The fruit of religion, for women, has been sexual exploitation and mutilation, physical abuse, rape, incest and murder and servitude to wicked men.

Coming to the surface of mainstream media are the numerous pastors and priests that have molested, raped and murdered women and children under the guise of “religion.”  Also, coming to the surface are the countless numbers of pedophiles hidden within this system.  What is shocking is that the congregations that follow these abusers, continue to do so, even after the exposure, unless, it is murder. Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap are prime examples of this mindset. How sad a day it is indeed when man worship supersedes truth and righteousness and, love, compassion and grace toward our fellowman.

It’s time for people to wake up to the reality that you cannot blindly trust anyone and bestow upon them power, prestige and money. You would not trust a stranger in this manner; yet millions trust “strangers” shrouded under the title “Man of God.”