Pedophilia, abuse and rape cross all denominational barriers. This IS a WORLDWIDE problem and one that is in desperate need of people’s attention. Laws need to change and become harsher toward these predators, and fast, in order to protect women and children from these abuses!
I originally wrote this as an outline on August 20, 2006 to teach in the nursing home. To me, it is a testament to the fact that God had already started opening my eyes to how dangerous man-made religion can be in the lives of its followers. Little did I know at that time, when I was teaching this in the nursing home, that God would extract me from the grips of religious bondage to a fundamentalist baptist sect that was abusive toward women and children and set me on a course to do His will in warning others about the dangers that lurk underneath religion’s mantle. Looking back, I am amazed at how much God allowed me to see of the truth and, I am severely disappointed that I ignored it and continued in my bondage. What a sad reality it is to comprehend that I was being shown truth but could not fully understand the seriousness of it due to religious indoctrination and religiously instilled fear. I have made a few changes and additions to this outline for better clarity and understanding. I sincerely hope that what I am about to cover falls on an open mind and heart that is not blinded by man-made doctrines, rules and religious precepts (the doctrines and commandments of men).
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RELIGION – SATAN’S BIGGEST WEAPON
John 3:1-21 – There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
(3)Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (You mean you cannot CONTROL the Spirit of TRUTH in God’s people just like you cannot control the wind?)
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
(10) Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (It does NOT say, “That whosoever believeth in the Pope, Pastor, Priest, Rabbi,or any other religious leader, or the Church, should not perish, but have eternal life.”)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (You mean believing in religion, the “man of God” or the “church” won’t save you?)
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (Say it isn’t so! Men’s deeds EVIL?). For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (It doesn’t say that his deeds are perfect, because mankind is sinful. It says that his deeds are wrought in God. There will be many sinners coming to the knowledge of the truth that desire to warn others about the “greatest deception of all.”)
Verse 3 (highlighted above) tells us that we cannot get to heaven unless we are born again of the Spirit of God. Most people do not understand what being born again means. Some people actually think that means going to a man-made church and serving men who call themselves by religious titles. Verse 10 tells us that Nicodemus, although a religious leader, had no understanding of spiritual things. His RELIGION was keeping him blind to the truth that had the power to save is very soul and set him free from religions bondage. However, he did recognize that Jesus was a ‘teacher come from God’. (verse 2) He was confusing works with faith. Notice how he addresses Jesus as “Rabbi” and “teacher.” He understood that the miracles meant that God was with him. However, he was not willing to let go of a LIFETIME of man-made religious dogma, precepts and rules, coupled with religious tradition, and acknowledge Jesus as “Lord.”
The same is true today. Religious people from all walks of life refuse to let go of a lifetime of religion and tradition to embrace the truth. God has given us his spirit to guide and teach us so that “we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.” Instead, religion has replaced His Spirit with a Pastor, Priest, Rabbi or other religious designation, so that these religious leaders are now leading and guiding God’s people. The Holy Spirit has been SUBSTITUTED. The people have erred and do not even realize it. Because of this, they foster hatred toward those that oppose a wicked religious leader. They persecute, malign and shun those that find the courage to speak the truth and expose the lies and crimes. And, they themselves become secondary abusers complicit in the crimes perpetrated – all because of blindness and refusal to listen when truth is spoken.
(1Co 2:12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.
(1Co 2:13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(1Co 2:14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
— RELIGION BLINDS ITS FOLLOWERS TO THE TRUTH —
It causes people to turn a blind eye to truth instead seeing and understanding it. The reason for this is clear as we shall see from the up coming passages. The Pastors (religious leaders) have caused their flocks to go astray. God holds religious leaders accountable just as he did the Pharisees. Just as the Pharisees instituted their rules aimed at controlling the people, so Pastors of all denominations have done today. As pastors have built unto themselves financial empires off the backs of the poor, they have fallen to corruption. Power, prestige and money are the root of this corruption. The abuses abound and are well hidden by the church and its leaders. Those confronted with the abuses, turn a blind eye to them and support the abusers. Religious followers cannot see past the titles and labels that religious leaders wear that affect clear thought processes. Therefore they both fall into the ditch and it causes followers to become abusers themselves of those that step forward to speak truth. They have rested their lives, their money, their families and their time in religious leaders and church institutions instead of Christ. They have forgotten their true resting place.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Jer 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds (PASTORS) have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.
— IT TEACHES AS TRUTH, MAN-MADE ORDINANCES AND RULES —
Man-made ordinances and rules fill the churches of all religions. It is not isolated to any particular sect. Countless multitudes believe every word that proceeds from religious leaders within their respective institutions. As a result, they are led astray through corruption and false teaching.
Just for the sake of an example, I would like to take a look at what the Roman Catholic Church teaches it’s priests about the Pope and compare it to what the Word of God says. What you will notice is that their many rules are based on what MEN SAY Peter is “perceived” to have said or done and not what “Christ” has commanded, said or done. It is also based on man-made religious precepts. This is where corruption rears its head – listening to men and not God. Men can make their own rules in God’s name and force implementation of them. This is exactly what has transpired from the beginning.
In considering this doctrine of the papacy, I will only use the teaching of the church as contained in the dogmatic definitions, the official documents of the ecumenical councils, and the teachings of the Popes. These represent the actual teaching of the church, regardless of what some Catholics believe, what certain priests teach today, or even what some bishops may have written. The following statements are duly documented.
The acceptance of the authority of the Pope and submission to him is necessary for salvation!
“Furthermore, WE (mere MEN, not God) declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the SALVATION of all men that they submit to the Roman Pontif. [Bull Unam Sanctum of Pope Boniface VIII,1302. The Teaching of the Catholic Church by Neuner and Roos, S.J. p. 204, No.342.] (SUBMIT to a MAN and not GOD?)
The Primacy of the Pope
“WE (mere MEN, not God) decree that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy in the whole world, and that this Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and true “Vicar of Christ” head of the whole church and father and teacher of all Christians; that to him in blessed Peter was given by our Lord Jesus Christ the full power of feeding, ruling and governing the universal church as it is contained in the acts of the ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons. [Council of Florence, 1439. Ibid., p. 206, No. 349.] (This is not in scripture anywhere. As a matter of fact, Peter states the opposite about himself in 1 Pet 5:1, 5:3, Acts 10:25)
“If any one, therefore, shall say that blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the Apostles and the visable head of the whole church; or that he directly and immediately received a primacy of honor only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction [right of power] – – let him be anathema [excommunicated and condemned] [Vatican Council I, 1870. Ibid., p. 223, No. 374.]” (God does not imply or command this anywhere in scripture. This is a THREAT aimed at silencing those that speak the TRUTH. See 1 Pet 5:1, 5:3, Acts 10:25)
“Hence WE (mere MEN, not God) teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a superiority of ordinary POWER (Yes, it IS all about POWER, not about God.) over all other churches, and that this POWER of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly Episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of whatever rite or dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters that pertain to faith and morals, but also in those that pertain to discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.” [Ibid., p. 224-225, No. 379] (Well, well…it IS about POWER and CONTROL through SUBMISSION.)
“If then anyone shall say that the Roman Pontiff has merely the office of inspection and direction, but not full and supreme POWER of jurisdiction over the universal church, not only in things pertaining to faith and morals, but also in those things that relate to the discipline and government of the church spread throughout the world; or that he possesses only the principal part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power. . . Let him be excommunicated and condemned!” [Vatican Council I. Ibid., p. 226, No. 382] (MORE FEAR tactics through THREATENINGS.)
Many more quotations could be given from papal decrees, councils and dogmatic statements; but, let’s hear how the dogma of papal infallibility is defined by Pope Pius IX in 1870 at the first Vatican Ecumenical Council:
“Therefore, faithfully adhering to the TRADITION (Not from God. God has no tradition.) received from the beginning of the Christian faith (Says, Who? MEN?), for the glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian peoples, the sacred Council approving (MEN), We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed (Really? DIVINELY REVEALED? – Not by God, Jesus or the Prophets – so this is a lie.): that the Roman Pontiff, when He speaks ex-cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, by virtue of His supreme apostolic authority He defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church, by the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, is possessed with that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals: and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church. But if any one which God avert – presume to contradict this our definition – let him be excommunicated and condemned!” [Ibid., p. 229, No. 388] (God says no such things in scripture; so this is a man-made religious dogma aimed at CONTROLLING people through threats and fear.)
Catholic Statements About the Pope
The Pope is usually and formally addressed as: “Most Holy Father.” [See encyclical by Leo XIII as introduction to the Douay version of the Bible.] (Mat 23:9 – And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.)
In the Cardinal’s Oath, Pope Pius X is addressed as: “Our Most Holy Lord.” [From the Article “Scriptures for Roman Catholics,” by Dr. Bartholomew Brewer.] (Now they are placing a mere MAN in the place of Christ and making him Lord. In case you didn’t know this, this is deception. 1Co 8:6 – But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and ONE LORD Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.)
The famous historian Moreri writes: “To make war against the Pope is to make war against God.” [Ibid.] (This is a good way to PROTECT a DECEIVER; through fear of God.)
WHAT POPES SAY OF THEMSELVES [Ibid]
Leo XIII (mere MAN, not God) (1902) said:
“The supreme teacher in the church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete SUBMISSION and OBEDIENCE of will to the CHURCH (Not God) and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself.” [Ibid.] (Interesting. Another RULE instituted by MEN to bring about UNQUESTIONING obedience and control to the church and a MAN.)
Pope Pius X (mere MAN, not God) stated:
“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but He IS Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of flesh. ‘Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks.” [Ibid] (In this statement, we are told that the POPE is CHRIST. This is DECEIT. He is a mere MAN, not God, placing himself in the place of CHRIST – a SUBSTITUTION – a fake in place of the real.)
Pope Pius XI (mere MAN, not God) once declared:
“You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on the earth.” [Ibid.] (Well, well…another SUBSTITUTION aimed at POWER and CONTROL of People.)
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As stated earlier, there are other religious sects that can be used as examples where man-made doctrines are being taught that go against the Word of God…. and countless multitudes blindly believe they are necessary in order to please God. So, let’s look at the scriptures and see what they really declare.
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— WHAT THE SCRIPTURES DECLARE–
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder . .” 1 Peter 5:1 (You mean he wasn’t a “CHRIST and head of God’s People?”)
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:3 (Not LORDS over God’s People?)
“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you . .” Acts 14: 14-15. (Even Paul and Barnabas KNEW that no mere MAN should be worshipped nor placed in the position of Christ.)
“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand Up; I myself also am a man.” Acts 10:25. (What! Peter did not demand WORSHIP? You mean he was just a mere MAN and not a God?)
Acts10:25-26 “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven.” Mathew 23:9 (This is self-explanatory.)
In the light of the Holy Scriptures, certain dogmatic definitions and statements on the Pope sound blasphemous! This his how Religion keeps people blinded to the truth of God’s Word. Religion keeps people in bondage. Religion makes up its own rules and institutes punishments for going against them. Salvation frees us from this bondage so that we can worship in “Spirit and in truth”. Religion seeks to control people through their many religious rules backed by threats. Those that do not conform, are killed and/or silenced through threats, coercion, harassment, etc. Remember the Reformation and Inquisition – Over 90 million men, women and children were tortured, mutilated and killed by CHRISTIANS of the Church of Rome under the direction of religious leaders.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
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Religion usually teaches a works salvation. If you live a good enough life (works), you might make it to heaven. If you serve in the ministry of the church (works), God will be pleased with you. If you follow all the church’s rules and precepts, God will bless you abundantly (works). If you give of your MONEY (works) to the church, God will bless you.
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Here’s what God says:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, . .
Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.
(You mean all these works are considered DEAD WORKS?)
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Religion DEMANDS obedience to the MAN-MADE ordinances, dogmas and precepts instead of obedience to God’s Word. It demands obedience to a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” in order to please God. It demands obedience and loyalty to “the MAN of God” or, the “Religious Institution,”
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God’s Word says:
Mat 15:3 – But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Mar 7:9 – And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Mar 7:13 – Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye (Who are Ye? MEN, usually religious leaders.) have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Col 2:8 – Beware lest any MAN spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
1Pe 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
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— RELIGION CREATES CONFUSION IN THE HEARTS OF MEN AND WOMEN —
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The masses would prefer to follow anything but the truth. Why? John 3:20 – “ lest his deeds should be reproved.”
God did not invent religion, man did. Man uses religion to keep people in bondage to an institution instead of setting them free to worship God and obey his will in their lives. Religion is the biggest weapon used by Satan to keep people blind to the truth and in bondage to men, religious institutions, and religious leaders. Religion propagates HATE toward those that disagree or question the lies being taught. Religion harasses those that expose those lies and/or any abuses. Religion tries to silence the voices of TRUTH that God has placed in the world to WARN others about the biggest DECEPTION of all time – that deception is man-made religions owned and operated by MEN who have corrupted the scriptures and would have all POWER, CONTROL, MONEY and PRESTIGE for themselves. Religion has been murdering and abusing for centuries. Please remember that more than 90 million people lost their lives “in the name of God” during the Reformation and Inquisition. Right now, women and children are suffering at the hands of religion and its leaders across the world. This is serious. It’s time to wake up and realize the deception. Religion starts wars, murders its own and others, oppresses and abuses women and children setting them up for sexual exploitation, and incites hatred and violence toward those that disagree or expose the lies and abuses. RELIGION IS SATAN’S BIGGEST WEAPON.
By Cynthia McClaskey
I am sure many of you may be wondering about this topic that I will be writing about. You may be wondering what exactly IS the DARKNESS? I realize that this subject matter will be delicate and, will evoke a lot of emotion in people. But, I also understand that many of you may not realize that the subject I will be covering even exists; and if you know it does exist, you may even believe that it could not be possibly happening in your church. Countless multitudes do not even realize that what I am about to talk about has been going on for centuries and is alive and ongoing today in religious institutions across the globe. As a matter of fact, it has been taking place since the third or fourth century; that’s how long this DARKNESS has been growing.
Before I get started, I would like to tell you about two organizations that are trying to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the DARKNESS – G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and Together We Heal.
Together We Heal works to provide victims of sexual abuse, rape and incest – aka, the DARKNESS – with the free professional counseling services they so desperately need in order to begin the healing process. But, they cannot help victims without your donations. A victim’s help is only as available as the funds are to hire these licensed, professional counselors for them. Right now, the link on my blog is set up to fund an account that will help to pay for victims needs and to aid them in recovery and healing. Your tax deductible donations go directly to this fund which goes directly to help victims of this type of abuse. As fast as we get money in, it goes out, because the need is so great and so few people give. Right now, we have ZERO religious organizations donating to help victims of this abuse. Why is that? Answer: Because churches don’t really care about these victims. The love of God must stop short when it comes to victims of abuse, rape, incest and sexual assault (the DARKNESS) in the church. Not one church has had the genuine Christian character to step out and do the right thing regarding these victims and support Together We Heal’s fund for victims through my blog. They give to missionaries, but not the abused, victimized, raped, tortured, broken and poor that they are responsible for creating.
Religion’s Cell is also a supporter of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). This organization is a legal and professional team whose sole purpose is to defend these victims of sexual abuse and, to educate church congregations on the signs of abuse and how to respond to it in a religious environment. If you can afford to support GRACE through the link on my blog, I can assure you they NEED the funds too. Legal and professional help is not free.
Now, let’ talk about this DARKNESS. It is also known as Religious Abuse. I would like to explain what it is, what it encompasses and how it has affected societies and cultures around the globe. When I am done, you should be able to understand and see the scope and magnitude of the true DARKNESS that lies hidden underneath religion’s mantle.
But, before I get into the subject matter, I would like to give you some excerpts from a few recent news stories and then afterwards, ask everyone a few questions. I am warning you up front that these stories will evoke an emotional response in many of you. But I ask that you be patient with me as I cover these because some of these stories are difficult even for me, to read or listen to. All of these stories are recent, by the way. They are cited on my blog HERE, HERE, HERE AND HERE.
BIRMINGHAM, AL. Pastor, Richard Shahan, of First Baptist Church arrested for the murder of his wife. A minister nabbed by police on new year’s day moments before trying to get out of the country.
Reena Ninan has the details. Reporter: Richard Shan was an Alabama-based Baptist preacher with a devout following. This morning, he’s accused of murdering his wife.
Arrested New Year’s day trying to board a plane to Germany. I think he was totally shocked when they — pulled him out of line. And detained him.
Reporter: He was nabbed after a customs official recognized his passport. But the pastor’s lawyers said he was traveling to Germany and then Russia to work for a children’s ministry. Once he got to Russia the chances of extraditing him were nil. (abcnews.go.com 1/6/14)
MUSCLE SHOALS, AL. Authorities say children’s minister Jeff Eddie told them he had so many sexual experiences with children at his church he could not recall all the times he had done it.
A felony complaint police filed against Eddie, 41, said the Highland Park Baptist Church children’s minister admitted to performing oral sex and masturbating children when Muscle Shoals investigators questioned him Sunday.
Eddie, who was arrested Sunday, is charged with 31 counts of sodomy, 2 counts of possession of child pornography, and 2 counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12.
In the sodomy complaint filed against Eddie, police said the abuse came to light after a church member walked in on Eddie with his hands up a minor’s shirt. One of the victims says Eddie engaged in sex acts with him downstairs in the church’s electrical room at least once a month going back to 2011, when the child was 11 years old. The incidents happened until July of last year, the child said, and then happened twice after that. (waaytv.com, Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 11:24 am | Updated: 9:13 pm, Wed Feb 5, 2014)
SEDRO-WOOLLEY, WA. On the night of May 11, 2011, sometime around midnight, 13-year-old Hana Williams fell face-forward in her parents’ backyard. Adopted from Ethiopia three years before, Hana was naked and severely underweight. Her head had recently been shaved, and her body bore the scars of repeated beatings with a plastic plumbing hose. Inside the house, her adoptive mother, 42-year-old Carri Williams, and a number of Hana’s eight siblings had been peering out the window for the past few hours, watching as Hana staggered and thrashed around, removed her clothing in what is known as hypothermic paradoxical undressing and fell repeatedly, hitting her head. According to Hana’s brother Immanuel, a deaf 10-year-old also adopted from Ethiopia, the family appeared to be laughing at her.
When one of Carri’s biological daughters reported that Hana was lying facedown, Carri came outside. Upset by Hana’s immodest nakedness, Carri fetched a bedsheet and covered her before asking two teenage sons to carry her in. She called her husband, Larry, who was on his way home from a late shift at Boeing, then finally dialed 911, telling the operator, “I think my daughter just killed herself. … She’s really rebellious.”
Hana was pronounced dead at the hospital, the cause hypothermia compounded by malnutrition and gastritis. The following day, when Child Protective Services tried to check on the other children, Larry Williams refused to let them in. When police followed up, a deputy noted that the family acted as though Hana’s death was “an everyday occurrence.” Twelve days later, detectives and CPS conducted interviews with the children, but their answers seemed rote and rehearsed, all repeating that Hana was rebellious and refused to mind Carri; one child said he thought Hana was possessed by demons. According to investigators, Immanuel said that “people like [Hana] got spankings for lying and go into the fires of hell,” just before Larry abruptly ended the interview.
When Hana died, she became one of at least dozens of adoptees alleged to have been killed at their adoptive parents’ hands in the past 20 years, and part of a far larger group of children who become estranged from their adoptive families—frequently, as it turns out, large families with fundamentalist beliefs about child rearing. Just within the Seattle area, and just among Ethiopian adoptees who came from the same orphanage and adoption agency as Hana, there has been an unreported crisis of “forever families” that fail. These are adoptions that, in an absence of any real oversight and in environments of harsh discipline, began with good intentions but went profoundly wrong….click here to read more.
Esther Comb’s Story of Rape and Torture
Courtesy Of ABC News.
Joe and Evangeline Combs were Independent Fundamental Baptist. They perpetrated the most heinous crimes against a child. They are now serving 179 years in prison for their crimes against Esther.
Here’s Esther Combs story of abuse as told by ABC News – Part ONE.
Now, I have some questions I would like to ask everyone:
- What do all of these stories have in common? They are all abuse related to religion and/or its teachings/belief systems.
- Who are the victims? Women and children
- Was justice served in every instance? Yes, when it’s murder or, multiple victims come forward, or, the major media gets involved.
Now, let’s look at sexual assault, rape and incest where the victims were silenced and the abuses hidden and ask the same questions.
- What do all of these stories have in common? They are all abuses related to religion and/or its teachings/belief systems.
- Who are the victims? Women and children
- Was justice served in every instance? No. None of these victim’s perpetrators is behind bars.
Why is the punishment not meted out for these horrible abuses? Because it took decades to pass for these victims to find the courage to speak out. For child abuse, there is no law that allows for prosecution after the fact when such time has elapsed. For sexual assaults and rape of children, the Statute of Limitations has expired in many states. Also, keep in mind that as long as the victims FEAR speaking out, the perpetrators remain free to abuse others. Such is the majority of cases.
What many do not realize is that religious abuse is a broader scope than we think it is. Believe it or not, but the average person has never heard of such a thing. And yet, religious abuse encompasses the following:
|Sexual Abuse||Sex Trafficking||Child Rape|
|Child Marriage||Prostitution||Child Pornography|
|Physical Abuse||Emotional Abuse and Trauma||Spiritual Abuse|
|Domestic Abuse||Honor Killings||Polygamy|
|Victim Grooming||Sexual Mutilation||Abusive Control – information, time, behavior|
To learn more about the scope of this abuse and what it encompasses more specifically, click here: Religious Abuse – What Exactly Is it?
Throughout history, every single one of these items mentioned in my list has been going on. Does anyone have any idea who the victims are of every single one of these that I have stated? Women and children. What we need to realize is that these abuses against women and children are going on underneath the church’s mantle. Many people I come in contact with refuse to believe that it is, and yet the reality has been all over the internet in the last several years. If you have an opportunity to peruse my Religions Cell blog, please do. My blog contains an alphabetized list by state and city of news stories of convicted and/or charged clergy for sexual crimes, murder and abuse. This is in no way a comprehensive list. There are thousands of more articles to add. To enter this archive, click here: Clergy Abuse Archive. My blog also has numerous personal accounts of religious abuse survivors and what they endured. I have to warn you that the victim testimonies will make you angry – and here’s why – because most of the perpetrators of these crimes are still free and serving in churches across America. Most of them never served jail time. They are STILL in contact with YOUR children! The number one reason for this? The church leadership covered up the crime and silenced the victims through public humiliation, threats and fear tactics. As a result, the Statute of Limitations ran out on these victims.
Can I ask another question? Why do you think a victim of rape or incest in the church setting would decline to come forward immediately? The answer: FEAR. Victims are threatened by family members, church members and church leadership. Victims are harassed by the same. Victims are humiliated and shamed. Victims are sometimes tortured. Victims are psychologically conditioned by this fear to keep their mouths shut. This is why it can take decades for a victim of childhood sexual assault and abuse to come forward.
As a result, the statistics on these crimes are vastly skewed. The numbers are much greater than what is reported.
Many of these victims of abuse are being blamed by the churches that hid their abuses. This is done to discredit their testimony. Many of these victims are being called liars. This is done to discredit their testimony and protect the abuser. The fact is this: Religious indoctrination has a lot to do with this secondary abuse to survivors of sexual assault and abuse within these institutions. Here’s why:
- Religious people may be programmed into believing only what church leadership tells them is true. If leadership says a victim is lying to “hurt the cause of Christ,” then they become militant against that victim.
- Religious people may be programmed into supporting religious leadership even if evidence PROVES the crime! Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN., is a prime example of this. He is serving a 12 year jail sentence for sex trafficking a minor and STILL has a huge following, even in jail.
- Religious people may be programmed into doing what leadership tells them to do against victims. Remember that I stated that they can become militant when they are told someone is “hurting the cause of Christ.”
- Many religious people even believe they are doing a God a favor by harming these hurting and broken people who are just trying to seek justice for the crimes committed against them.
These are so-called CHRISTIANS that perpetrate the secondary crimes of harassment, slander, public humiliation, stalking and attempted murder! Why? Answer: To SILENCE their voice of truth and protect their religious leaders from prosecution. Why? Because they are “clones” of the religious system they serve through indoctrination. What these victims are doing is speaking out about lies in teaching and/or crimes committed against them. If you are a clone of the system, your mind cannot accept these things as true and it rejects them. That’s the power of indoctrination. It keeps people blind, obedient and willing to do what you tell them to. This is why religious fundamentalism can be very dangerous to any society.
Let’s look at more examples of abuse. The following victims, to date, still have not received justice regarding the crimes perpetrated against them. By the way, there are many more than these from this girls home. Even though many of them reported to police in Arcadia, La., the man responsible for raping and torturing them and allowing others on his staff to do the same, is still a free man.
Those complicit in the crimes are still free as well. How can this be? Answer: I don’t know. But I am sure you have some ideas floating around in your head at this point. Read the New Bethany Book (link above) and then try and figure out how this could possibly be so. Could it be a huge cover-up? I have heard some victims say it is. Honestly, I don’t know. These were children! Needless to say, three decades later, they are STILL trying to get justice served and have Mack Ford arrested. The police have done nothing, to date, on this issue.
Religious abuse carries with it psychological trauma. Many of these victims, as a result of their trauma, suffer with flashbacks of the abuses, PTSD, panic attacks, physical illnesses, cancers, alcohol and drug addictions and mental illnesses. The list of maladies is large and those that are the ones that were to look out for these victims, failed them, shunned them, shamed them and silenced them. Many of these victims need professional help, but cannot afford it. The institutions that allowed these crimes against them to happen, have deserted them, leaving them without hope of help and healing. It is time for religious institutions to be held accountable for the crimes they have hidden (the DARKNESS) and, for protecting the perpetrators from prosecution. It is also time for them to bear the financial load of helping them recover.
This DARKNESS has affected societies AROUND THE GLOBE with the implementation of civil laws in some countries that restrict and oppress women and children, protect rapists and pedophiles, and punish victims that dare to escape or speak out about the abuses. In some countries, it is perfectly legal to burn, torture, maim and kill women and children without recourse. Forcing victims of rape to marry their rapists, is another civil law some of these countries have. And some of these abusive laws can be seen spilling over into America’s laws. For instance, did you know that many states give visitation rights to a rapist if their victim gives birth to a child as a result of the rape? This is no different than marrying the rapist! The psychological trauma and abuse is the same. As a result, more abuse and torture for these poor women and girls. How’s that for the influence of religion on civil law?
As a result of religious indoctrination, victim-blaming has reached pandemic proportions across the world where victims are concerned. Why? Because men and women are not being held accountable for their physical and sexual crimes and murder if it is done in the name of “honor,” “religion,” and “God.” Protecting the religious mindset and keeping laws that propagate this kind of power and authority over defenseless human beings is ludicrous!! The perpetrators of the crimes you are about to see are RELIGIOUS people. They are people that LOVE GOD. They are SERVING God. They THINK they are doing GOD a favor. Yet, they are committing atrocities in his name against women and children. Something just isn’t right with this picture!
Let’s look at some examples of this religious influence across the world:
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But these abuses are a result of Islam, not Christianity, you may be saying to yourself. Have you already forgotten your history? Remember the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the Inquisition. It was CHRISTIANS that tortured and mutiliated and murdered over 90 million men, women and children. Look around you and see the abusive religious influences and MINDSETS that are seeping into America. How long will it be before RELIGION influences our civil laws? If you don’t think it has, you are mistaken. Women and children need MORE protection from these crimes against them in the religious setting. Religious Institutions that hide these crimes and harbor rapists and pedophiles need to be dealt with harshly. Tax-exempt status needs to be pulled and arrests should be made in order to deter the crimes and protect our precious women and children.
Religion CAN be good. It can help people. When it is good, it is very good. But religion CAN be bad. When it is bad, it is an EVIL of the worst kind toward women and children.
Thus, the reason for this blog. Educating the public on this hidden DARKNESS is vital. People must understand that it is real and that they may even be suffering from it. Victim’s voices must be heard. This platform is for victims to tell their experiences. They will not be harassed here and their voices will not be silenced. Next, victims need a place to go where they can deprogram. The articles written here are to help them with that deprogramming so they can better respond to life around them as well as overcoming the fear that religion has instilled in them through false doctrine and twisted theologies. Next, victims need resources to help escape the abuse and, in their healing process. This blog provides resources. Victims also need help financially so they can get the professional help and/or medicines necessary to keep them healthy. That’s why this blog has teamed up with Together We Heal to provide a special fund that will provide these victims with the help they need. But, as stated earlier, we cannot help them without your tax deductible donations! Their help is only as available as the funds we have to give. You have no idea how many victims we have had to turn down due to lack of funds! Not one church has stepped up to the plate to financially support a large and growing populous of abused and hurting people. They give to missionaries, but not the broken, bruised, victimized and poor that they are responsible for creating.
To learn more about this serious subject matter, please peruse my blog and read the articles that I have written on this subject. Become knowledgeable and become a supporter of this sect of society – women and children – that have been suffering silently for many countless decades. Also, become a financial supporter. It is only through the donations to Together We Heal and G.R.A.C.E., through my blog, that these victims can be helped and start the healing process. They need help and they need support. It is time for their voices to be heard and laws to change to protect others from the abuses they have endured.
This is Cathy Harris. The following is from my heart:
I plead on behalf of myself and for others who have no voice; Stephen Jones and the BJU Board members, be strong and Godly leaders. Please honor your commitment you PROMISED survivors.
Bob Jones *initiated* hiring G.R.A.C.E. Work together honestly with Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.) in good faith. Without games. Without spin. Without selfish motives by the school to spruce up its “Show Window”—In good faith, finish the job.
Please stop turning away from survivors of the crimes G.R.A.C.E. has been investigating for the last year.
- All of us are former students and graduates of Bob Jones Academy and/or Bob Jones University.
- Some of us are grown-children of BJU’s faculty and staff— their sons and daughters.
- Some are even former faculty/staff and BJU Press authors.
- Some of us could have been your future if we hadn’t been discarded as worthless wounded.
I beg you to not only see us as we currently are, but I also beg that you see the potential of all we were meant to be. Our potential we could have been if we had been handled correctly when we divulged our painful assaults or molestation’s.
We WERE One. Of. YOU!
We ARE BJU–or we were, unless you think of us as mere rubbish. But the truth is, we are not trash that needs to be discarded, without thought or consequence. We are human beings who have been terribly wounded by our abuse, and re-victimized at your University by dorm supervisors, dorm counselors, other faculty members who are “unlicensed counselors” and Administrators in the name of God while students at BJA/BJU.
Our cries may have been heard by the Lord, but the University was deaf.
All most of us ever wanted was a *sincere* “I’m sorry”, (Rest assured most survivors have become professionals at seeing through insincerity.) Not money. Certainly not media exposure. If BJU is unwilling to do these things, what other recourse do we have left?
It boils down to accepting to allow the G.R.A.C.E. Investigation to finish. Accept G.R.A.C.E.’s report graciously whether BJU agrees with every single one of G.R.A.C.E.’s findings or not.
Be willing to repent as you *promised survivors* for the wrong way these crimes were handled in the past.
Be willing to *really* listen and weep with those who weep as the GRACE Team has been doing all of this time.
Be willing to *truly* mend up the wounded and protect the innocent in the future.
We have *been* victims, Stephen Jones.
We’re *now* survivors.
This is not going away.
We won’t quit until BJU does right. Not only for us, but to insure those current or future BJU students who may divulge being a victim of molestation and who will face sexual assault/rape in the future will both be protected and their claims handled correctly by law enforcement. Not shoved under the carpet by Bob Jones University.
Once again, we are not going away.
We can no longer be silenced.
I have told my story to many people verbally. I have written it down in bits and pieces on social media sites such as Facebook. I have even shared it with other victims in forums for those trying to recover from sexual, spiritual, emotional and physical abuse. In light of recent events with Bob Jones University firing G.R.A.C.E. from their independent investigation, I feel the need to share my story publicly. I, like many victims of the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult, are outraged that BJU has slapped the faces of victims. Their cowardice shows by their lack of courage to hear what G.R.A.C.E.’s findings would be. Just weeks before the final report was to be delivered, at the time of this writing, G.R.A.C.E. had no knowledge as to the reasons behind Bob Jones University’s decision to fire them.
It is very hard for a victim to tell their story. To give it in detail, in a public forum, takes a lot of courage and strength. My hope is that my story will help others realize that they are not alone and that they do not need to walk the path of validation by themselves. I have walked that path. It is terribly lonely, frightening and exhausting.
While it is terribly hard to find anything in my story that can be criminal or even prosecuted today, what I endured was heinous. What I endured is considered child abuse by today’s standards. It could also fall into that category when it occurred. Sadly, I have to say that the abuse continues to this day because it is not being addressed and it is still swept under the rug. Since I opened a Facebook account a little over four years ago, I have spent much of this time diligently trying to right the wrongs, expose the truths within the lies, and tell MY story. My only hope is that my story gives someone else courage to address what needs to be addressed in their life.
I grew up in what appeared to be a normal, loving home. My mother was and still is a very loving mother. She tried to give the best she could to my brother and I. She was an outstanding mother and I loved how we would go shopping every Saturday after we cleaned the house. Almost every time we would go to the mall, she would buy me a scoop of bubble-gum ice-cream which I would lick so hard that it always landed on the floor in front of my feet. We spent a lot of time together.
The first 13 years of my life were pretty much considered normal. I would have fun with my cousins during the summer. I was in a public school. I went roller skating with my friend every Saturday. My grades were average. I was well-adjusted. I was happy. My parents always got compliments on how my brother and I behaved in public places. But, there was always a fear that my brother and I had of our father. He was quick with his hand and we were fearful of angering him. My mother was fearful of him. He threatened her with bodily harm on numerous occasions. Various incidents happened during their marriage that caused them to realize that the marriage was not what they wanted. My brother and I were forced to realize that our parents were going to divorce. I was in 7th grade at the time and I was so stressed about my parents that I had forgotten to do my homework one day. I never forgot to do my homework. I went to school and told my teacher at the time that I had forgotten to do my homework. She gave me a detention. I ran out of her room and went directly to the girls bathroom to which I began sobbing a body wrenching sob. It scared me that my emotions had taken over the way that they had. That made me cry harder. My teacher entered the bathroom and asked me why I reacted the way I did. I told her everything. I told her that my parents were divorcing and that I had to live with my father and that I did not want to. I felt that I was stuck. She was not a heartless woman. She took the detention away. That was a relief because had I gone home with that news, I was surely going to suffer for it.
My brother and I came home one day from school. We had to take the school bus as we lived in a very rural part of New Jersey. We came home and we noticed that all the living room furniture was gone. Our mother’s clothing was gone. All her belongings were gone. We were stunned. I cried for the longest time and the only person who could comfort me was my paternal grandmother. I loved my grammy. I begged to have my father drive me the 45 minutes from our house to hers on the night my mom left. I just could not understand why things happened the way they did. I share all this with you because it builds the reason why my father decided to begin his religious journey. At least in my mind, this is where it started.
When my parents were having their troubles, my father would attend church more regularly than we had in the past. My grandparents were very religious and they told him about an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in a town not far from where we were building a home. I think that there was an effort to incorporate more religion into our lives in an attempt to save a failing marriage. It was not that we were not religious. We were. We just became more so with this disaster in our lives.
My brother and I were forced to answer questions asked by strangers who appeared that they were interested in us. It is now, that I realize that these people were lawyers and court appointed psychologists. They wanted to know who we wanted to live with and why. But, I always felt this horrible pressure on me to say that I wanted to live with my dad – even though I wanted to live with my mother. I kept a diary at the time and all my pages during this time-period state just how oppressive it was to live in the house with my father. He was never happy. He put on a facade for the outside world, but at home, he was grumpy and just never a happy man. At the tender age of 12, I was able to notice this about him and noted it in my diary. I still have this diary today.
The divorce finalized and my brother and I were awarded to our father. My mother was devastated. Her story is a much more horrible version. I will say that my mother was not painted in a complimentary way. My brother and I were enrolled in the IFB school that was a ministry of the IFB church that our family attended. The tuition was a lot for my father to pay, but he paid it – somehow. There were times where we could not even afford a gallon of milk, but he paid the tuition. There were many winters where he could not afford to fill the oil tank to heat our home, but he paid the tuition and gave his tithe. We heated our home with kerosene space heaters. It is a wonder I am still alive. My clothing smelled so badly of kerosene.
Our IFB church had what was called, “Paycheck Sunday”. During this Sunday in late November, my dad gave his full week’s pay to the church. Everyone did. A full week’s pay for a single income parent during the early 1980‘s in blue collar New Jersey was not an easy task. But the same mantra was uttered by everyone, “God will provide”.
I guess the realization that having two teenage children with activities was too much for my father to handle alone so he began dating right away. Every woman he brought to the house, my brother and I did not care for. He eventually married someone just 8 years my senior. I was horrified. My brother and I were immediately no longer part of his life and it was shown with many actions. My brother and I began experiencing changes in how we were disciplined and we were treated extremely different. By the time I was a Sophomore in the IFB school we attended, my brother and I were extremely miserable. We were realizing that what we were going through was not normal. We were so miserable that we would tell people that things were not right. Later that year, my brother had had enough and asked to have my mother sue for custody of him. She won and he went off to live with her for a while. I was alone in a house with a step-mother who despised me and a father who placated to her every whim and need. I was forgotten.
When my parents divorced, my mother had a boyfriend. This man gave her the attention that she felt she deserved. She was so starved for attention that it was nice to be the center of it without having to worry if she was saying something wrong or doing something wrong. It was very well-known that there was infidelity in the marriage and that ultimately caused the demise of my parents marriage. My mother decided she had enough and that was when she moved. This boyfriend of hers took great strides to get to know my brother and I. We were, after all, going to her apartment every other weekend. He was living with her after she got settled from the divorce. I was about 15 years old when his affections turned to more than just genuine interest. He was more touchy with me as my body began to develop. I was not sure what these advances were. I know now he was grooming me.
My father was never kind to my mother when she would come to pick me up to go to her home on the weekends that she had visitation. He would avoid her. He would state things to me that my mother was worldly. He was trying to taint my perception of her and trying to make it so that I would be less inclined to go visit her. This made me want to see her more often.
One particular weekend, my mother’s boyfriend wanted to take me four-wheeling in the woods. I was 15 years old. I loved going four-wheeling as that was a highlight and I was finding that my freedoms were becoming less and less living with my father and his new wife. They were now pregnant and a baby was on the way. I still had a voice at my mother’s house, but even that was being quieted because by the time I would break out of my shell and start talking, it was time to get in the car and head back to my father’s house where I would have to get ready to go back to the IFB school I attended. I was in the truck alone with my mother’s boyfriend. I really don’t think my mother had any idea that it was not a good idea to allow her teen daughter with a man alone. Maybe she was incredibly trusting. I am not sure. We drove out to the woods and started going through mud puddles. This was in the mid 1980’s, so there were no cell phones. I was in a truck for 8 hours out in the middle of the woods – far from any civilization – while this man raped me repeatedly. He was stronger than me and he was drinking. He made threats to me that if I told, he would kill my mother. I believed him because he said he was with the Mafia. I was a 15 year old girl and so naive because of the things that I was being “sheltered” from. Finally, we went back to my mother’s apartment and he raped me one last time while parked next to the dumpster in the apartment complex. He always made advances toward me. Now that I am a 44 year old woman and I think about it, he was very calculating in his plans for me. He would send my mother off to go buy him potato chips (Wise Brand). While she was gone, he would expose himself to me. Again, the threat that if I told, I would lose my mother or that I would be harmed too. He raped me in my mother’s bed while she bathed in the tub in the next room. One night, he raped me in my bedding on the floor of the living room while my brother slept next to me. We did not have our own room when we visited. This constant advancement on me made me not want to spend time at my mother’s house. I was trapped.
I knew that I could not tell anyone my story. You see, I dealt with the fear that the boyfriend would kill my mother and I dealt with the fear that if I told my father that he would forbid me to ever see my mother again. Add to this stress, a girl who is defiled is always guilty. She either wore something she should not have or she walked a way she should not have. We were taught in the IFB that the woman was the cause of all men’s sins. My home life was becoming less and less normal. The lectures we would get would go on forever. We were not bad kids. We obeyed every letter of the law laid down before us. However, I was never good enough. I tried so hard to be a good daughter, but it was the same thing – I always failed to meet expectation. I was to be seen and not heard. It really got bad when my half-sister was born as it was now my responsibility to raise a baby.
Around my Junior year in high school, my brother wanted to move back to my father’s house because he was promised material objects if he did move back. He was told that if he moved back home he would get a bb gun, a motorcycle and weights. He wanted so much to have a relationship with our father and our father made claims that things would be better. His visitation with my brother was always so fun. He was a different man around my brother when those weekends came. He allowed freedoms that we normally never got. We actually were able to have friends over. So, my brother, desiring a relationship with his father, really believed that he would get all the things he was promised. He moved back “home”. There were no court documents filed and no attorney’s fees paid. He moved back and everyone was happy – except my mother. She was stricken with grief, but she allowed my brother to do what he thought he needed to do. She never once uttered a negative word about our father. She always felt that it was our observation to make. Her opinions never muddied our perception of our father. It was not the other way around. Rarely was a kind word said about our mother.
My brother went back to the IFB school and graduated 8th grade that year. He wore a borrowed suit because money was so tight. I was wearing borrowed shoes that were a size and a half bigger than my feet. I stuffed them with toilet paper to make them fit. I was wearing my step-mother’s clothes to school. Skirts that were 3 or 4 sizes larger than my small frame were pinned on the sides to keep the waist band up. I never got new clothing unless my mother bought something for me. We were the children of the ex-wife and we were reminded daily. Little incidents, like not turning my brother’s socks right side out, became an issue. His socks would not get washed if they were a balled up mess. To this day, I see my sons’ socks and I think of that. Of course it takes only a second to turn socks the right way, but a fuss was created and meanness ensued. It was constant meanness and vindictiveness in the home. I was told that I was to always be available to watch our half-sister. I was the live-in baby sitter even though I had intramural sports that I was involved with and homework that took at least 2 or 3 hours a night. We were expected to be in church every Wednesday evening, Sunday school, Sunday morning service and Sunday evening service. There was no time to just be a kid. I started going off alone into the woods just to get away from all of it.
I walked the halls of my high school with my secret of the rapes and just tried to be the best daughter I could be. I made no noise because we were taught to never bring attention to ourselves. We were told that we were never to argue anything. We were told that if our father said that the sky was black and it was as blue as blue could be without a cloud, we had to agree that it was black. There were no opinions allowed. I was smacked across the face with a mouth full of braces when I voiced my desire to move to my mother’s home. I had had enough of being taken for granted and treated horribly. By this time, my mother had grown wise of her abusive boyfriend. My brother voiced that he did not care for the man and the two of them kicked him out. Because he had moved back to our father’s house, I could not leave my brother in this environment so I did not try to move to my mother’s house. I also was beginning to drink the IFB Kool-Aid by the gallon and was reading my bible daily. I had my own little monthly Daily Bread booklet. I would do my devotions from them. I read all 66 books of the bible. I was doing all I could do to be the daughter I thought they wanted me to be. My brother was not tolerating the lifestyle. He just could not handle the constant badgering and the oppression we were experiencing. We began telling people that we were having troubles, but nobody listened. We were told to read our bibles more. We were told to “honor our mother (stepmother) and father”. Today I know that that commandment is taken out of context a lot in the IFB. There is also a bible verse that says, “Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” – Ephesians 6:4. We tried to tell people that we just could not live the life we were living. We were being ignored and treated very badly. My maternal grandparents felt there was an issue and they tried to help. CPS was called to our home and they were turned away. My brother and I were never interviewed by the agency.
Things got so bad that my brother and I began making plans on how we were going to run away. We talked many hours in his bedroom. I still remember a conversation we had. I remember the way his room was set up. I was laying across the foot of his bed and he was next to me on the floor. We were talking how we could not tolerate it anymore and how we were going to get away. We were thinking of who to tell and who we could trust. He finally said that we just have to settle down and let things take their course. I remember specifically a time when we were thrown into the back of our family car and I was so upset that I was going to miss something that I wanted to do with the school. Our father was notorious for throwing everyone in the car not telling us where we were going with the explanation that we were just “going for a ride”. This ride happened to be 12 hours long down to my grandfather’s house. I was so upset that my only escape from my family was being taken from me. My brother calmed me and said, “It will all be okay in a little while.”
For a 14 year old boy, he was so much stronger and wiser than his years. I was 17 years old at the time and I had just started my Senior year in the IFB high school. He was starting his Freshman year in the same school. He just got picked up onto the Varsity soccer team and we were so excited that we had an escape through our respective sports. These sports took us from our abusive situation at home. Every hour away from there was an hour of freedom that we gleefully relished in and felt free. As the days progressed, I did not notice my brother getting depressed. He was always the one lifting me up. Now, he was losing it. I was involved in my cheerleading and was involved with my Senior year now, so I never saw the signs. He began telling people in his class that he hated his life and that he had to end it. His friends were all either 13 or 14 years old so they never really thought that his words would come to fruition. They were innocents. They were children. One night, September 16, 1986, we went home after practice and we had to do our homework and nightly chores. We were so accustomed to not talking because we would get in trouble if we woke our half-sister. Any speaking we did was normally in the form of whispering. We also had to be quiet when walking out to the garage because there was an alarm on the door that would beep every time the door would open. My brother told me he was going to feed the dog. His last words to me, “I’ll see you in a bit, sis”. We were expecting company that night. Our uncle was coming to see us as he had not seen us in a while and was coming by to catch up. I watched from the kitchen window while I worked on the dinner dishes as my brother went out to feed our German Shepherd, Bear. He came back into the garage.
My brother was always tinkering on something. At this particular time he was working on a bike frame that he was in the middle of repainting. He had it hanging from chains that held a heavy weight bag from the rafter of our garage. The chains were not long enough to have the heavy weight bag low enough to be used properly, so our father suspended the bag with extra length from a rope. On this particular night, he removed the bike off of the chains, wrapped it in a towel or blanket and set it on his weight bench. The same weight bench that he was promised if he moved back “home”. I heard the dog barking and realized that my uncle had arrived. I ran out to the garage to go meet him at the door. What I saw forever changed my life. What I saw forever changed the image that I see when I close my eyes each night. What I saw is the reason why I am so vocal about abuse and abuse within the IFB today. I saw my brother hanging from those chains. The chains were deeply embedded in his neck. He was gray. He was motionless. He was dead. I ran over to him, and tried to raise him by lifting him so that the tension of the chains would release from around his neck. They were interlocked by S hooks. They were so deeply imbedded that I could not release the tension. My uncle must have heard me or looked in the window, but all the sudden he was next to me trying to lift my brother up. He screamed at me to go get a knife from the kitchen so that we could cut the rope that was attached to the chains and to tell my step-mother to call an ambulance. There was no such thing as 911 in 1986. I ran in the house trying to be quiet to not wake the baby and I whispered to my stepmother, “call an ambulance, Scott hung himself”. I whispered it. Why did I whisper? I whispered because I was so conditioned and oppressed by this woman that I knew I would get into trouble if I screamed. My screaming should have trumped all regard for her rules. But fear stopped me and I whispered. I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and ran out the door. As I got back to my uncle, I noticed my brother’s grey sweatpants had a wet spot on them. I began screaming inside, “NO”. I knew what that meant. My uncle got him down and removed my brother’s shoes. My aunt started CPR. I did not know what to do and was starting to freak out. My exterior was stoic, but inside I was screaming.
My home sat off of the main road. This main road was not well lit and we lived three miles down from the first stop sign. As I already mentioned, it was a very rural area. I ran down our gravel driveway in my bare feet to get to the road so that I could flag the ambulance to the house. Anyone going down my road would drive right by the house. We were always told to go to the end of the driveway to flag company in. On this particular night – it was no different. I ran and stood in the middle of that road – still warm from the heat of the day. I still feel the warmth of that road on the bottom of my feet. I looked up to the sky and saw every star. I cried the most soul crushing non-human cry I have ever heard come from my body. I pleaded with God that night to not take my brother. I cried for hours it seemed. The ambulance took forever. I do not remember going back up to the house. I do not remember the ambulance coming. But I do know they came because my next memory was talking to a police officer. I told him everything I remembered. Our father was working a second job, so he was not home at the time of the incident. I told him the story when he came home. I told my mother the story when she arrived. I told the whole story as I have just written it here. My story is written in a police report.
As the night progressed, I was telling my story over and over. Then things started to change. All the sudden I was told that I was not going to tell the story like the way I have just recounted. I was going to tell the story that it was an accident. That Scott did not hang himself. I was even coached to not talk about it at all. I was told that I was not going to talk to a therapist. I was told that I did not need to go to the hospital for what I witnessed. The policeman asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. The EMT kept looking at me for signs of shock. My mother told my father that her boss would pay for a therapist to speak with me about what I saw and endured. I was just told to not talk about it. I was told that things will get better. I was told that Scott was just was messing around and that it was a horrible accident. I was told by my father that my brother was playing with the chains and they came back and hooked around his neck. His words still echo in my mind today – “don’t you think he was just playing around and they came back and hooked around his neck?” “Don’t you think that the stool next to him was knocked over because he was trying to frantically reach it with his feet?” “Don’t you think he died because he wanted to die?” The last question is the hardest one for me. This question was asked of me when I last tried to speak with my father in January, 2012 about allegations of abuse that have come to light regarding the IFB church and school I attended. That was the last time I spoke to my biological father. He promised to call me back and talk about these allegations that were starting to surface within the IFB church and school I attended. I am still waiting for his phone call.
I was told that if I ever tell my story that I would get into trouble. I remember a friend coming to my home a day or two after my brother passed. I tried to talk to her in my room, but I was so scared that I would be heard. I tried to get the words out. I was so fearful that I would get into trouble. She reminded me of this story and the fear I had. I know that what I experienced was real. I needed help. I got no help. I was denied any form of help. I was told that the children in the IFB school we attended were told that my brother died of a weightlifting accident. The pastor had decided that was the best way to handle this story. I was bold enough to ask my father, many years later, if the pastor told him to lie about my brother’s death. My father’s answer was “yes”. He never even hesitated in his answer. I can not even think about lying about something like that. Why he did not stick up his middle finger on each hand to that pastor is beyond my comprehension. Why he did not put his familial duties as a father above the laws of this man, I will never understand. I can only guess that my father’s following of this man was greater than the love he had for his family as this was the pattern that has been repeated over and over to this day.
On the day of the funeral, I stood outside and met every single person who came to see my brother. The IFB school we attended had a “field trip” that day for all the 7th -12th grade. They were to go to the funeral home and pay their respects to my brother. I met every single kid that got off that bus. Where was the person for me that day? Where was the person that was supposed to comfort me? I was the one who found him – why wasn’t I being comforted? Standing outside in my step-mother’s too big, pinned-at-the- waist black suit with toilet paper in my shoes so they would stay on, I greeted every single person with a smile on my face. I was trying not to bring attention to myself. What was wrong with me?
The eulogy was the most disgusting thing that I have ever heard repeated to me. I did not hear the eulogy that day as I was too busy trying to keep my mother from jumping out of her chair and hitting that pastor. He stood up there and bragged how his son was thriving in this world while my mother is burying her own. This was the man of God that we were following? No compassion. No love. Just pretentiousness and narcissism. My step-grandparents felt that they were the maternal grandparents that day and denied my maternal grandfather the right to ride in the limousine with my family and his grieving daughter. Instead, he had to drive himself to the cemetery. There was so much hurt and I just had to hold it all together for my mother. I had to keep her calm. Nobody kept me calm – but something made me strong that day.
Our school was involved in an annual event each year where we would compete with other Christian (IFB) schools in the Tri-State area. We competed in what was called Academic Day. A day that included going head to head in debates about topics such as creationism vs. evolution (a difficult topic to debate when everyone in the room believes in creationism). Schools vied against each other for the coveted position of the best choir. There were sewing (textiles) competitions for the girls to enter. Sewing showed the best of our academic caliber. There was a competition to see who had the best score in solving an accounting business model. There was competitions about speeches and which school delivered the best impromptu or recited speech. My event was the speech under the line of Dramatic Interpretation. I had to recite a speech with feeling and draw my audience into me. They needed to feel what the speech was saying and hang on my every word. My speech was entitled, “I Hadn’t Time” by prolific Christian author, Ethel Barrett. The speech was taken from her book, “There I Stood In All My Splendor, Chapter 4”. It was a 10-12 minute speech on which I was graded for articulation, posture, style, proficiency, and memorization. I was slated for first place. This story as I was telling it to my audience, was about a young mother who is alone with her son, Kip, for the last time. She is sitting in front of his coffin and she is recounting all the things that he was trying to get her attention for. He wanted her to sew a patch on his shirt or to see a frog that he brought home. She recounts the things that her son wanted her to do and realizes that her being busy was routine. Now her child is gone and she has all the time in the world for her son. But it is too late.
This speech was the most heart-wrenching, tear jerking speech. My father insisted that my mother come to the school and hear it because my school was hosting Academic Day that year. When I saw my mother, I begged her not to come into the room that I would be delivering the speech. I knew that it was not for her to hear. My brother had just died months earlier and here I was delivering a speech about a mother grieving over her dead son. The teachers in the school should have forbidden that I do that speech. My father should have forbidden that I do that speech. I did deliver it and to this day, I ball up with tears because I remember the opening words verbatim. Staring at my mother as I delivered this speech was one of the most horrific things I have ever had to watch. The pain that crossed her face was, without question, unremarkable. I could not deliver the whole speech without breaking down in a jagged cry at the end. I did not win 1st place because I had to be prompted and because I lost control. If only the judges knew what I had just endured. To this day, I still have my third place ribbon and the grading sheets that the judges filled out on me. They are a reminder of the hell that I should have been saved from, but was forced to endure.
I finished my senior year with all sorts of christian leadership awards and a scholarship to attend Pensacola Christian College. Dr. Robert C. Gray Jr of Trinity Baptist from Jacksonville, Florida preached at my commencement in May, 1987. Two months later, allegations about his involvement with minor girls in his church were brought. Turns out he was a pedophile and this man was in my church. This man shook my hand. I still can not believe the proximity I was to him. My skin crawls at the thought.
During the summer of 1987, I was to turn 18. My life just was not the same life without my brother. I went through the daily motions. I still did my devotions and still tried to be the best daughter I could be, but there was not enough love for me – even after the loss of a child. I was not living. I was simply existing. On the morning of my 18th birthday, I decided to change all that. I woke that morning packed what I could and stashed it. I told my father as he was taking me to my summer job that I was going to be moving in with my mother after I finished my work day. I called my mother from my job and told her to be at my home to get me when I got off work. I got home and in my driveway were my mother and my pastor. The same pastor who lied to everyone about how my brother died and delivered the eulogy. This “man of God” told me that if I leave to go with my mother that I would end up just like her. I would be worldly and I would not be the woman of God that I should be. I left without ever looking back.
I still attended the church, but I was looked at differently. I was to go to Pensacola Christian College in the fall and – in reality, I was following my then boyfriend. But I also realize that the Christian Leadership awards and the scholarships that I won were a way to keep me quiet about my brother’s death. I thought that following my boyfriend to PCC, one of three colleges that I was to choose to attend, was my ticket out of the hell I was living. I started preparing for my move to Florida and asked for help from my father. He would not help me. He told me that as long as I am living with my mother that he had no obligation to help me. My mother bought all my books, all my bedding and all my PCC approved clothing. My mother sent me money for expenses, care packages and other expenses that I am sure she would never tell me about. I never once got a dime of financial support from my father when I went away. I tried to call him to inform him how I was doing, but there was never any interest. I attended PCC for my Freshman year and hated every minute of it. A person was guilty until proven innocent on that campus. It was very oppressive. I was beginning to see that I just could not live this way.
Summer came and I went back to my mother’s home. I would see my father at church, but had no desire to go to the his house and visit. Things were very awkward. My step-mother was pregnant and I felt it was so soon after my brother passed away, in my opinion. I worked that summer and gained some cash. I told my mother about the rapes. The boyfriend was long gone. I still have never told my father – though he probably will find out now that this is posted on a forum. I broke up with the boyfriend I had followed to PCC and started tasting freedom a little more. I dated a boy that I really liked that summer and I knew that I was finally starting to live. The veil was lifting. There was life to be lived and I was free. I went back to PCC for the fall of my Sophomore year and I called home every weekend crying to be picked up. I had recurring nightmares. I began purging everything I ate. I hated it there. I was a 19 year old woman and I was being treated like a 12 year old child. No touching someone of the opposite sex or you would be “socialed”. You get socialed too many times and you get “shipped”. You get shipped, you are blackballed from your church. No walking on the same sidewalk as the boys. No using the same stairwell as the boys. No music with a beat. No Christmas music before the Christmas decorations were up on the campus. Lights out at 11 – even during exams. The never -ending ear worm of a song we sang every day at the beginning of chapel: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, creatures here below. Praise Him above heavenly host. Praise Him Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen”. My world was not what it should be. This is not how a 19 year old ADULT should live. The freedoms that we were supposed to have were non-existent. There were no freedoms. Every move was monitored, scrutinized, judged and calculated.
Finally December 20, 1988 came and I left that campus for what I thought would be the last time. I actually returned a few years later to see my half-sister receive her degree in nursing. My half-brother was now attending PCC and was a security guard for the campus. He would not hug me when he saw me. He would be socialed. I was proud of my half-sister on the day she graduated. I had concerns that her degree would not provide her much by way of a job and voiced these concerns with her. Ultimately, this was her decision and I was proud of her for accomplishing a task and for her life moment that she wanted to share with me. This pride had to be stifled, however. Nobody was allowed to “hoot and holler” because anyone who showed their pride for their graduate was being prideful in the Lord’s house. The audience was given a very stern warning by Dr. Joel Mullenix (present when I attended PCC in the late 80’s) to not “hoot and holler” or the commencement ceremony would be stopped. Someone did “hoot and holler” and it was stopped and we were all chastised from that pulpit – a full auditorium of adults chastised for being proud of their child’s or loved one’s accomplishments. I just could not believe what I was hearing.
I was able to break free from the PCC environment and lucky for me, my mother was moving across the country to begin a new life with her soon-to-be husband in California!!! A quiet little girl from New Jersey was moving to California! Starting my life free from all control, all judgement, all religion – that was my plan. I arrived in California and the world was so fresh. Everything was new. I was new. I was living. I managed to get a great job. I wanted to go back to school. So I tried to enroll in my local community college. The woman registering me that day laughed at me when I showed her my high school transcript and the transcript from PCC. Her words still resonate with me today. She said, “you don’t have enough credits to graduate high school let alone have these credits from Pensacola transfer.” My jaw dropped. My mother could not believe it. PCC is unaccredited and the IFB school I attended is only recognized by other IFB schools. The education that I received was sub-par at best. I always knew that, but now I had confirmation. I had to do most of my high school credits over and I had to redo everything that I had done at PCC. I was now back at square one. I would have to say that it was in a negative position that I was in as I had to capture enough credits to be considered eligible for the local junior college. I worked while going to college. I worked as a bookkeeper for a tiny law firm in California. I learned a lot about probate law and criminal law. I also studied my heart out. I wound up enrolling in a Jesuit college not far from my home so that I could continue to work at the job I loved so much. I graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Business Administration. I did this all on my own.
During all of this, I would still call home to talk to my dad and see how he was. I wanted to check in on a family that had now grown to three half-siblings. I sent them gifts to let them know that I trying to be a part of their lives. I am 20 years older than the youngest sibling. It was important to me at the time to be a part of their world. Unbeknownst to me, they were not allowed to ask about me. I have learned recently that every time my name was mentioned that my father would get angry. I was even threatened that my arm would be broken if I tried to convince any of the children to move out to California. My birthday would come and go. Christmas would come and go. I would not get any acknowledgement that I was a part of their world or that I was welcomed. Gifts – if they did come – always arrived late. I was not part of my father’s life any more. When I graduated college in California, he was there. I was over the moon that my dad traveled to California to attend my graduation. I also had a grandmother who traveled from Boston and an aunt who traveled from Texas. However, my father took all my attentions. I willingly gave them thinking that this time with him would bring him back into my life and that he would be proud of me, finally. I was wrong.
A year or so later, I was about to get married. I asked my father to walk me down the aisle. Without any warning, he flew to California to see me. I was amazed that he was in town, but had to scramble to rearrange plans so that I could spend the weekend with him. I had a brand new home with my fiance and I was proud to show it off to him. I showed him where I was getting married and went through all the plans with him. I really thought he would walk me down the aisle. The day before he left to go back home, he told me he was not going to walk me down the aisle because the boy I was marrying was not saved. I was broken hearted. The familial duties were once again put on the shelf for religious reasons. For appearance sake, his appearance, he chose to not walk me down the aisle. He broke the cardinal rule for every father. He destroyed the visions I had of walking down the aisle with my father as he gave me away to my husband. Dreams dashed and heart broken, I sought the next best thing. My maternal grandfather walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.
That marriage did not last long. It was 10 months of pure hell. I was physically abused, emotionally abused, and threatened with death. I finally got the courage to leave this abusive environment, which before I was married never had any physical abusive signs. There were emotionally abusive situations, but I played them off. I called my father for help and I was told to talk to my pastor. The same pastor who lied about my brother’s death, delivered the eulogy, told me that I would end up being a whore just like my mother, was going to give me marriage advice. His advice to me was, “Steffers – you need to go back to your husband. You need to be submissive to him. Show him through your submission that you are saved and lead him to Christ.” That was the last time I have ever spoken with my pastor. He condones spousal abuse.
I have discussed numerous times with my father about my upbringing and how the education I received was below average. Each and every time, I have been told that he did what he could for me. As a parent, I understand that. But if my child were to tell me that my decisions had set them up for such heartbreak, I could not handle that without apologizing to them. I don’t think I could defend what I did if it was brought to my attention that my actions actually hurt my children in any way. I have never received an apology from him – only more excuses.
I have tried to address why I am not important in my father’s life. The issue is always skirted around. In January 2012, I tried to discuss these things and now other issues that I have been made aware of within my church and school. Issues that have been brought to the attention of a detective because many voices screamed and they were finally heard. Issues that many people have known about and many have talked about. To this date, these issues and allegations still will not be discussed with me. I have tried. I have tried as respectfully as I can. I suppose the ostrich with its head in the sand is the best analogy here. If it doesn’t see anything, nothing is there. But, I am here and I am not going away.
I have been vilified. I have been denied as being a child of his. I have been told that I was dead just like my brother. I have been told that family members were told that I ran away and can no longer be found. My three children have been held by this man. He has met my loving, supportive husband of 15 years. I am not a person who has done anything but speak the truth. I am not the monster here.
I am strong because each of the things I have shared here, in this long story, will not destroy me. There are a lot of events in my life that have shaped me. All have been handled by me, alone. This is MY truth. This is MY story. I am who I am today because I chose to thrive. I chose to not let my past end me. I chose to let my past shape me. I have found courage. I have left the darkness. Every day, I get stronger.
I share with you who I am. I have no agenda. I have no motive. My only hope is to help those who are learning to find their freedom. My voice is for my brother. I avenge his death. I will not let anyone cover up his death anymore. I avenge anyone who has had their death covered by lies. I am sad today, but I honor my brother’s memory by speaking for him.
In honor of Scott Edward Reger
March 28, 1972 – September 16, 1986
February 9, 2014
Many of today’s Christians have no idea that what they believe is not what early Christian’s believed; although they are being told it is by their religious leaders. Countless Christians actually believe they have found truth. Sadly, they interpret and believe based on what they are taught without questioning and researching to see if it IS truth. This allows corrupted leaders to spoon feed them their beliefs and influence their behavior.
As a result, through invented doctrines and rules, through corruption of the written texts and translations, what we have been handed today in no way mirrors the early church and what the early Christians gave their lives for. We have a mutant form of Christianity that blinds and abuses. It leads its followers toward the way of judgmentalism and hate and, incites them to violence against those that disagree or believe differently than they do. It also suppresses and oppresses women and children. None of these things are reflective of Christ. Christ never instigated violence toward those who believed differently. Christ never cast a stone at one single sinner. Christ treated women with respect, dignity and honor. He treated them as equals, not inferiors. Christ would not even allow his disciples to raise their hands, nor given powers, against those that disagreed or hated them. And, Christ NEVER raised his hand against a woman or child to force conformity to his teachings. Christ did, however, spew his anger at the religious leaders of his day. Interesting. We Christians will raise our hands against women, children and unbelievers, but not against corrupted religious leaders? Very interesting.
Today’s Christians, no matter the denomination or sect, are being taught to hate those that hate them. They are being taught to hurt those that live differently than they do. They are being taught to punish those that disagree or speak out about the lies and corruptions they see. They are even being taught that anyone that speaks out about abuse within the “church” is a liar that must be silenced. You see, religious leaders tell their followers that these abused individuals aren’t just liars, but, they are “hurting the cause of Christ.” Why would they say this? Answer: to hide the crime.
Today’s religious leaders are controlling the flow of information, instituting rules that bring about thought and behavior reform and, coercing poor and needy people to give away their substance – all in the “Name of God.” The result of this is the ability for religious leaders to stifle truth, propagate lies and, control lives and fortunes – all in the “Name of God.”
How in the world did Christianity become such an abusive system that harbors pedophiles and rapists, murders and abusers of all kinds (see my Clergy Abuse Archive). How did it become a system that degrades women, setting them on an unequal plane that will always lead to their abuse? What about the children? Followers within this system are taught to raise their hands against them in order to force conformity to all the rules and precepts. Sadly, today’s Christianity is abusive and is creating abusive mindsets and behaviors in those that truly believe they are doing the “will of God.” How blind many have become! They are justifying abuse in the “Name of God?” How can this be? Propagating inequality – which always leads to abuse of those slighted by it – in the “Name of God?” How far we have fallen from God! How far we have fallen and Woe unto us!
Today’s religious institutions and leaders make a mockery of God. They wear a facade, but underneath are full of dead mens bones and every wickedness. They sell the Gospel for money. They sell a twisted truth of God for money. They exact tithes they have no right to. They vie for position and power. They sell their wares to the poorest in their congregations without care for their financial welfare. They hide sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children. They pit the brethren against each other. Today’s Christianity has become an “Us vs. Them” war.
It is time for people everywhere to open their eyes; to pull the blinders off! It is time to LISTEN to the CRIES of the ABUSED. Listen to the cries of innocent CHILDREN, MEN and WOMEN who have fallen victim to the perverted men and women worshipping amongst them; many of which, are even LEADING them! What will it take to wake you up out of your intoxicated state, people of God? You have drunk the wine of religion and it has you in a stupor! Wake up out of that stupor and look around you and see all the victims of abuse lying by the wayside in need of help and healing. These are the very ones that Christ gave his life for! These are the very ones that he spent his days with helping and healing! He didn’t spend his time with the religious crowds! Understand this fact.
It is not too late to change. It is not too late to help. It is NEVER too late to make right, what is wrong. There are countless victims of abuse, incest, childhood sexual assault, rape and sex trafficking that need help. You can start by GIVING to GRACE and Together We Heal through the links on my blog. These two entities are working to make right, what has gone wrong. Instead of giving to an institution whose only goal is to control you and your finances and live off the backs of the poor, break free! Start giving to those that are TRULY making a difference in the lives of those the church has cast off as trash.
Notice the fundamentalist comments that attack this victim for telling her story of abuse. Fundamentalist Religious Zealots have no compassion, no mercy, no love toward victims that speak out. Their intent is to attack and silence them, shame them further, and slander their character with their use of scripture and words laced with poison. These are not real Christians. These type of people are “clones” of a corrupted religious system that fosters hate toward the hurting, abused and weak and, toward those that DARE to speak TRUTH to them. I believe Jesus refers to their kind as “white-washed sepulchers.” Sad.
I applaud “Once Lost Child” for her courage and strength in finally telling her TRUTH. My prayer is that God’s hand of judgment will be meted out on those that are trying to silence and further harm those that speak out about the crimes committed against them “in the name of God.”
Picture a little girl running, alone, trying to find her way home. She’s six years old. She is running away from her babysitter’s house, carrying a painful secret. She’s fleeing the pornography the sitter’s sons shoved at her. And she’s fleeing something worse, something that fills her with shame.
Somehow, she finds her house – but the door is locked, and she has no key. She runs to a neighboring house. The neighbors let her in, and call her mother at work. Her mother comes home, furious at her little girl for running away from the babysitter’s. She doesn’t ask the child why she ran home or what she was running from. The little girl is afraid to speak up on her own; she’s terrified the boys will come get her if she tells.
The angry mother grabs the girl by the arm and yanks her into the car. On the short drive home, she lectures her daughter; then she spanks her. What does this teach the little girl? Don’t run away, and always obey adults no matter what. The mother sends the girl back to the sitter’s house, this time under orders to apologize to the boys — for not obeying them — and to promise them she won’t do it again.
So for one year, every day the little girl goes back to the baby-sitter’s house, and every day the older boys sexually assault her repeatedly.
To avoid the hurt and pain, the little girl retreats into her mind, pretending she’s not the one being raped. At home, she’s miserable; no one will listen to her. She throws fits, trying to regain a sense of control.
Finally, the babysitter and her children move away. The little girl loses her best friend — the sitter’s daughter — but she also is finally free of her tormentors. She won’t have to look at any more naughty body parts or feel the shame and pain of the violations she suffered.
The little girl and her two big sisters go to vacation bible school. A nice lady there tells her all about Jesus. The little girl wants Jesus to love her; she asks Jesus into her heart whenever she feels ugly or dirty. The three sisters go to church more often.
The little girl finds comfort in the idea of Jesus. She loves to sing the hymns: “Stop and Let Me Tell You,” “The Lord is my Shepherd,” “We Have a Great Big Wonderful God”… She feels safe — for a little while.
Then she discovers that among her family’s friends is a father who likes little girls. By this time, the little girl craves a father’s attention; her own father is always angry, always yelling at her.
This other father likes to hold the little girl on his lap, read Bible stories … and rub against her. This teaches her that rubbing grown men, and letting them rub her, is natural. She feels shamefully invaded and good at the same time. The other father tells her God will only forgive her sins if she does as the man asks; he says the girl must forgive him or she’ll go to hell. He tells her he’ll kill her if she tells anyone.
Once again, the little girl retreats into her mind while her body is invaded. She and the other little girls keep going to church. They accept this is just the way things are for them, that they’re meant to be used by men. Sometimes they love Jesus; sometimes they’re very angry.
At home, life only gets worse. Her parents fight all the time. Her father hits her when she whines, fusses or disobeys. He comes home drunk; he yells, hits and threatens the little girl and her mother. So the little girl keeps going to the older men who fondle her and make her feel like a princess.
By the time she is 13 years old, she has a miscarriage. She wears pink lipstick and dresses in clothes meant to get boys to look at her and like what they see. Soon she is an all-grown-up girl, yelling at God in her mind, trembling in fear. She’s tired of her father berating her for getting pregnant; she’s tired of being forbidden to see boys.
Then she finds an escape. She starts to run track, play volleyball, and study hard, avoiding the pain and sorrow her father still doesn’t want to hear about. She hurts deep inside, but she doesn’t know why.
She thinks often of ending her life, but each game keeps her going. The crowds cheer for her, people smile at her. She hides behind a plastic smile. She’s voted the school’s most popular athlete, and the nicest person, of her senior year. She goes on to college to play ball. She no longer wants to be around Christians; she believes God is a joke or a myth who offers neither hope nor love.
Then the all grown up girl’s carefully constructed armor shatters. She falls and tears her Achilles tendon. For two months she can’t play ball, and she can’t escape the pain and confusion inside. She’s never the same. The cheers on the ball field aren’t enough to keep her going anymore.
She has a boyfriend, but he pushes her to return to Jesus. She wants to, but she can’t. She trusts no one with her pain. Instead, she gets drunk and tries to kill herself. That’s when her angel finds her. The angel — a true friend — gets her to the emergency room in time to save her life.
Her angel-friend invites the girl to her home. The girl is surprised to find that this angel has nothing but love to give her.
It is to the this angel-friend that the girl finally releases bits and pieces of her long road of torture, pain and sorrow. For the first time, the all grown up girl is held and rocked as she weeps out her pain. She’s afraid she won’t be able to stop. The angel reassures her that it’s okay to cry as long as she needs to.
The all grown up girl was 19 years old.
Emma Wise is the pen name of a woman who was sexually abused as a child. In the years since she tried to kill herself, she earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. With the help of therapists and her faith in God, though not organized religion, she has built a life and is married with three step-children and five grandchildren.