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LIES I was TAUGHT to Believe

 

lieswebelieveThroughout my many years of religious indoctrination, I was taught to believe LIES that nearly destroyed me from the inside out. Unfortunately, I am not the only person to have believed these lies. Countless multitudes of believers across all denominations are taught to believe the very same lies. Believing these lies affected me in a huge way. Not only did it affect me, it also affected my family and it affected the way I interacted with others.

One of the areas I have had to really focus on in deprogramming from an abusive religious cult is my “instilled beliefs.”  It has taken a lot of reading, research, and self-examination in order to identify what is truth and what is lie.  Instilled beliefs are not God’s beliefs. They are not even your own beliefs! Instilled beliefs are beliefs we are TAUGHT.  These type of beliefs are dangerous. They are destructive. They only lead to a lack of compassion and genuine love and concern for others and SELF.

Religion is fraught with opinion. These opinions manage to make their way into interpretation. Interpretation is taught as truth and the affects of believing these interpretations are far reaching and destructive.  The many lies we believe as Christians will absolutely determine how we respond to others, how we treat ourselves, how much compassion we have, and how controlled we are with our emotions. Although I was taught to believe MANY lies as a Christian, these two LIES almost destroyed me. . .

LIE #1: Feeling or exhibiting negative emotions is a sin.

It shows a lack of trust and faith in God.

In the sect I came out of we were taught that negative experiences are a result of God’s punishment for sin (A LIE).  When these negative experiences came my way, I was taught to handle them with contentment, peace, and happiness. If I was treated with disrespect or hatefully, I was taught to not respond to it, accept it, and move on.  In doing so, it was supposed to show others that I had a complete and total trust and faith in God that he was in control and would take care of the situation.  At the same time, we were also taught that if we responded to those negative influences in a negative manner, we were exhibiting a lack of faith in God and were sinning. Other Christians had no problem attacking my lack of faith if I dared to voice my opinion, my frustrations, or grief; if I dared to show them with my countenance. Others had no problem attaching “labels” to me if I spoke up about being treated unfairly, disrespectfully, or abusively. I had many labels attached to me – rebellious and stubborn being the biggest two. To dare to disagree usually gained these labels and more. Time and time again I found myself shutting down and pushing how I felt aside, stuffing it all in and putting on a façade. I held years of anger, heartache, and frustrations inside to the point that it nearly destroyed me emotionally. It led to bitterness. It almost destroyed my relationships with family.  It led to depression. It almost led to suicide.

The truth is this:  God created each of us as EMOTIONAL beings. He gave us a broad range of emotions to feel. Not all of these emotions are peaceful or happy! However, you cannot stuff down emotions – even good emotions! You cannot contain excitement and you cannot contain hurt, anger, and grief. After all, we all know the negative outcome of holding in anger, grief, and anxiety.  We must also realize that exhibiting negative emotions is NOT sin. Standing up for yourself and what is right is NOT sin.  IT IS THE RIGHT AND HEALTHY THING TO DO.  It does not show a lack of trust or faith in God just as exhibiting good emotions does not show a complete trust or faith in Him.  This is a lie we have been taught to believe!  For instance, if I swerved to miss an on-coming car while driving down the road, my heart would probably beat loudly in my chest. Emotionally, I would feel many negative emotions! Does this mean I have a lack of faith in God? Of course not! When my best friend died of cancer, the sense of grief and loss was overwhelming. I literally found myself in a depression.  But no one knew I was depressed because, after the funeral, I held in my emotions and shoved them aside.  I had to put on a happy façade while the inner turmoil, grief, and sense of loss raged on the inside.  Did feeling these negative emotions mean that I was exhibiting a lack of trust or faith in God? Again, no! However, because I had been conditioned to hold in negative emotions up to this point, it led to negative self talk after she died that contributed to my depression. This negative self talk was the result of another LIE I was taught to believe.

LIE #2: I am not good enough!

Bad things happen to me and others because my faith is not good enough.

This self talk told me, “If you had prayed harder, God would have healed her.” “If you had trusted Him more, God would have healed her.” “Cynthia, if you had just had enough faith and believed fully, God could have healed her!” Angie’s death was all my fault because my faith just wasn’t strong enough!  As a result, because I did not pray enough and believe enough, my self-image took another nose dive for the umpteenth time. Yes, suppressing emotions is destructive in more ways than one. Every failure or bad outcome in my life I blamed myself for because I wasn’t good enough. Bad things happened to others I cared about BECAUSE I wasn’t good enough.

When negative or abusive circumstances come our way, it is healthy to experience a wide array of emotions. To hold them in and never express them can lead to uncontrolled anger, anxiety attacks, fears, mental illnesses, and depression later on.  As Christians, we are taught to suppress all our negative feelings. However, those feelings do not go away! They stay with us until such a time as they are ‘triggered’ and erupt like a volcano all over some unsuspecting person.  Not only this, but our bodies will deal with all those emotions if we don’t! This is why there are countless people suffering with physical, emotional, and mental disorders. They have held in and not dealt with the emotions that resulted from traumatic situations where they were told to “suck it up,” “forgive and forget,” or worse, “If you really gave it all to Him, you would not be depressed.” Holding in the hurt, the anguish, the anger, the resentment, and the anxieties can also lead to poor self-esteem, poor self-confidence, fears and phobias, depression, emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, and more!

Many church leaders across all denominations are teaching that if you are depressed, you are sinning and showing a lack of faith; if you are anxious or having panic attacks, you are sinning and showing a lack of faith. Unhealthy churches that teach you to hold in negative responses and emotions are creating cold and heartless Christians! Those of us who are going through a traumatic life experience need to be rallied around and treated with compassion and patience!  Instead, we are being taught to NOT have compassion, to NOT feel emotion, to NOT care about others. When we stuff down emotions, we become conditioned to be cold and heartless.  Again, this is dangerous.

When we stuff down negative emotions, we will also stuff good emotions down too. As a result, it becomes easier to turn a blind eye to the abuse of others. Another result of stuffing down good emotions is that life will lose its joy. Instead of seeing the goodness in life, we will focus on the negative. Negative emotions WILL control how you view yourself, view others and view the world around you. If your view is negative, then your responses will also be negative. One of my biggest struggles is viewing life through the lense of beauty and goodness. Because of the many years of emotional and spritual abuse in a religious cult, I easily see the evil and sin arround me. This negative focus causes distrust and fears. De-programming from this kind of view of life has been a very long and difficult process because I have been “conditioned” to respond a certain way.

Painful emotions are not a sign of weak faith. Even Christ expressed strong, painful emotions — he wept when Lazerus died, when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he told his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He exhibited anger when he overthrew the tables in the Temple. Christ did not lack faith, but he did exhibit negative emotions.

Now let me balance all this out by saying this. We CAN have emotions that may very well be immature and/or show a lack of faith!  We can very well have sinful emotions such as jealousy, envy, spite, self-centeredness, rage, etc. Sinful emotions and actions are somewhat easy to detect and differentiate.  I am not talking about these.

It is very difficult to differentiate between faith and lack of faith because we cannot put ourselves in other people’s shoes to know their life experiences. Only God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart of man. Only God truly knows if there is a lack of faith.  Also realize that even if a person does lack faith, God will not accuse, condemn, label, or judge that person! Instead, he will excercise compassion, gentleness and love toward them. Anyone who judges someone’s emotions or actions as lack of faith is putting themselves in the place of God. In exercising judgment in this manner, by default, they are exercising a lack of compassion and genuine love toward another in need of help and healing. This type of judgment only heaps more hurt and anguish on the one suffering.

If we cannot differentiate between faith and lack thereof, then what should our response be to someone who is suffering depression or emotional distress or grief? Compassion, gentleness, kindness, patience, and love. These all help in healing because these traits allow for the one suffering to expend the emotions, hopefully deal with them, and move forward in recovering from the trauma. These traits also strengthen faith in the one suffering! Not dealing with the emotional distress of the death of my closest friend, crippled me in so many ways mentally and emotionally and exacerbated other areas of my life where my response should have been more compassionate and kind toward others. I was taught to ignore my emotions, stuff them all inside, and forget. Because I was taught how to ignore my emotions, I became cold, uncaring and lacked compassion. Then, there were those times when something small would “trigger” all the pent up anger and emotion and I would unleash a tirade and venom at a loved one saying things I didn’t mean.  Undoing the programming has been quite a process. While I have made large strides, there are times when I feel as though the path to full recovery is still very far away. The negative self talk and fears just do not disappear with the revelation of truth! Instilled beliefs do not disappear at the revelation of truth! It takes a conscious effort to undo what has been instilled.

Feeling or expressing negative emotions is not a sin. They are not the result of a lack of faith or trust in God. Expression is a release. Just as a pressure cooker releases the pressure when the lid is removed, our emotions release the pressure when we are allowed to express them appropriately and receive consolation, genuine concern, and love in getting through them. Expression leads to compassionate behaviors, kindness and genuine love and concern toward others. It helps us to live weightless so we can sleep at night. Holding it all in makes for angry, uncompassionate, bitter people who live their lives in fear, discontent and gloom. Having or lacking faith is not for others to judge. Telling someone their faith is not good enough is the same as telling them they are not good enough. The truth is that God says we are good enough – where we are, whether we have faith or not.

What does God DELIGHT in?

Believe it or not, there are countless millions that sincerely believe that God delights in their religiosity. What is religiosity? It is any or all of the following:

•  Attending a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other place of worship
•  Serving in a ministry of any place of worship
•  Converting others
•  Following religious rules put in place by religious leaders or those of the Old Testament
•  Punishing sinners
•  Reading and studying religious texts
•  Supporting church leaders
•  Unquestionable loyalty to a religious institution
•  Unquestionable loyalty to religious leaders
•  Super modest attire (women and young girls only)
•  Giving to the church or its ministry needs
•  Growing a church to large numbers
•  Bringing people to church to ‘hear the truth’ or to get ‘saved’
•  Blind loyalty to religiously taught dogmas and precepts
•  Memorizing religious texts

Actually, this list of religious behaviors (religiosity) could really go on and on! It is endless what people believe will please God and make them ‘right with God.’ So, for the sake of the millions who are living under this premise that they are pleasing God, I would like to shed some light on what God says pleases him. I have already covered what pleases God many times in articles on this blog. However, sometimes it is necessary to not ‘beat around the bush’ and just come right out and say it plainly…..RELIGIOSITY AND RELIGION DO NOT PLEASE GOD!

• Attending a religious institution does NOT please God!
• Serving in a ministry of a religious institution does NOT please God!
• Following religious rules does NOT please God!
• Memorizing religious texts does NOT please God!
• Punishing sinners does NOT please God!
• Dressing ‘modestly’ does NOT please God!
• Reading and studying religious texts does NOT please God!
• Financially supporting religious institutions and their leaders does NOT please God!
• Unquestionable loyalty to a religious institution, its leaders, its dogmas and precepts, does NOT please God!
• Building a church does NOT please God!
• Bringing people to church (a religious institution) to ‘hear the truth’ or to get ‘saved’ does NOT please God!

Well, some of you might be thinking at this point that what I have just stated sounds ridiculous. Well, maybe if I deliver my thoughts differently you won’t think I’m completely off my rocker. So, let’s take a look at what GOD says pleases him as compared to what man tells us pleases Him. Religions of the world tell us that all the above things please God and keep us in ‘good standing’ with Him. Not so.

According to the Prophets – What pleases God?

MICAH
Micah taught that God’s primary demand of human beings is to act ethically: “And what does the Lord require of you? To do JUSTICE, love MERCY, and walk HUMBLY with God” (6:8). Micah doesn’t speak of faith, sacrifices, or religious behaviors or rituals. Instead he says God’s most significant demands are justice, mercy (compassion), and humility. All of these traits are rooted in ETHICS.

JEREMIAH
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; let not the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But one should only glory in this: That he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, Who exercises mercy, justice and righteousness on the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.(9:23-24)”

Jeremiah singles out the top three things that people tend to pride themselves on which cause them to feel superior to others and feel smug in their religiosity. But what delights God the most is mercy, justice and righteousness. Anyone who does not understand this does not “understand and know” God.

Don’t expect God to be impressed with how smart you are, how strong you are or how much money you have. Compared with God and his wisdom, strength and wealth, these mean nothing to him. However, using these things to bless others can impress God when used to achieve ethical ends. In other words, teach and inspire others to be good, use your power and strength to protect the oppressed, give your money to help those in need. People that do these things are pleasing to God.

ISAIAH
According to Jewish teaching, Isaiah condensed the Old Testament’s 613 commandments into six principles of behavior:

• Practicing righteousness
• Speaking truthfully and fairly
• Spurning dishonest gain
• Refusing bribes
• Closing one’s ears to blood (not associating with anyone plotting violence against another)
• Closing one’s eyes from seeing evil (blindness to abuses and abusers)

Jewish Wisdom teaches us that, according to Isaiah, a person who does these things “will dwell on high” (33:15-16); i.e. be rewarded by God. Isaiah, according to Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, “denounced the tendency to believe that God’s favor can be won by those who do evil, and then offer prayers or perform ritual acts: “And when you lift up your hands [in prayer], I will turn My eyes from you. Though you pray at length, I will not listen. Your hands are stained in blood” (1:15).

God’s main wish for us as his children is to be righteous and ethical. It is not his wish for us to act religiously! Your religiosity has absolutely nothing to do with ethics. Religiosity does not make one ethical, righteous, humble, or pleasing to God.

“Is such the fast I desire, a day for men to starve their bodies? Is it bowing the head. . .and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day when the Lord is favorable? No, this is the fast I desire: . . . to let the oppressed go free and to break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin” (58:5-7). Isaiah is telling us that we should not fast to try and please God, we should fast so that we know what it is like to be hungry! In knowing what it is like to put ourselves in shoes of the less fortunate, we will have more compassion on our fellow man who is in need. We will treat such a person with kindness, compassion, love and mercy – all ethical behaviors. Most people I know fast in order to get something from God. How many fast in order to learn to exercise humility, compassion, mercy, or justice in dealing with others?

AMOS AND HOSEA
Both of these men emphasized the importance of ethical behavior over religiosity. According to Amos, any prayer offered by unethical people actually offends God: “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (5:22-24).

Hosea teaches that ethical behavior appeases God. “For I desire kindness and not sacrifice, attachment to God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

ZECHARIAH
Zechariah also proclaims that God’s main concern is for people to behave ethically: “then the word of God came to Zechariah: This is what the God of Hosts said: ‘Render true justice, be kind and merciful to one another. Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the convert or the poor; and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another’” (Zechariah 7:8-10). It was Israel’s refusal to obey these injunctions that brought God’s wrath upon them. What makes us think we can escape his wrath for ignoring them?

MALACHI
Malachi teaches that fair and compassionate treatment of others is the fruit of belief in God: “have we not all one father? Did not one God create us? Why do we break faith with one another (not treating them ethically), profaning the covenant of our ancestors?” (2:10). What this means is that it is important for us to not only do God’s will by treating others ethically (doing what is just and right and not breaking faith with others) but, we need to teach it to our children. “Gen 18:19: For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (This is the covenant of our ancestors: to do justice and judgment and teach it to our children.).

In looking back at biblical text it is important for us to realize the reasons God punished Israel and take heed. God condemned Israel for doing the following:

• Oppressing the poor (Amos 2:7)
• Perverting justice (Amos 5:7)
• Using unjust weights (Micah 6:10-11)
• Accepting bribes (Micah 3:11)
• Lying (Jeremiah 9:4)
• Murdering and stealing (Jeremiah 7:9)
• Adultery (Jeremiah 5:8)
• Swearing falsely (Jeremiah 5:2)
• Not paying workers their wages (Jeremiah 22:13)
• Disregarding others’ property rights (Micah 2:2)

Because of all these UNETHICAL behaviors, Israel was continually being punished by God. It doesn’t matter what you BELIEVE. It doesn’t matter your RELIGION. It doesn’t matter if you go to CHURCH or give exorbitant amounts of money to charitable institutions. None of these things PLEASE God. The ETHICAL treatment of others pleases God. Rooted in humility, ethical treatment of others is what God is wanting from his children. Religiosity has nothing to do with ethics. I know many who have forgone ethics to do what their religion tells them to do. They have prostituted themselves with the “church” to gain the favor of the church and its leaders instead of doing God’s will and walking humbly, exercising justice, and extending mercy and compassion to others.

Ethical behavior means more to God than your religion, your beliefs, your money, your sacrifice! Ethics come from WITHIN. They are a part of one’s character. They are rooted in genuine LOVE and RESPECT for one’s fellow man. Religiosity and religion are rooted in man’s opinions, interpretations, and man-made rules given by the religious institutions one serves. Religion and religiosity can actually undermine the work of the Spirit of God in our lives by overriding our conscience to follow religious rules and/or precepts in order to ‘be right with God.’ Both can become a part of our character. Both are learned behaviors and attitudes. One leads to righteousness, compassion, humility and mercy, the other leads to hate, oppression, murder, inequality, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, etc. One causes us to lift up and edify our neighbor, the other causes us to disregard, oppress and harm our neighbor.

With this in mind, let’s do what pleases God. In doing so, we will make the world a better place and bring God’s blessing upon us and our nation.

Ethical not Religious!

God’s central demand of human beings is to act ethically. — Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

ethicsEthics is slowly disappearing in the world. Instead of people having their own code of moral values with which to guide their lives, they have been deceived into accepting a corrupted set of values. There are countless millions that have given up personal ethics for “religion.”  In doing so, they have replaced ethics with a new term – “religious.” As a result, religion has effectively found a way to bypass an individual’s responsibility to treat others ethically. Ethical treatment doesn’t just include honesty it includes treating others with fairness, autonomy, respect, honor and dignity without regard to preference or belief. These are moral principles that all are entitled to receive. I would be very afraid of any culture that practices religion instead of ethics.

Sadly, just because you are religious does not mean you are ethical. Being religious does not mean you are spiritual. Being religious does not even ensure that you are going to be a moral person! “Religiosity” is adherence to a set of religious observances. It can be used as a façade or mask. Many wear this facade to hide abuses, sin, and unethical behaviors and attitudes. They want to appear upstanding, honest and ethical for peer approval. As a society we have merged the term religious with other terms that it has nothing to do with! Now, Religious = ethical, honest, respectful, trustworthy, thoughtful, caring, considerate, God-loving, etc.

Religious has nothing to do with all of these things! It has to do with ritual observances, not ethics. Most people will determine whether or not they will treat a person with respect, honor and dignity based on their religious observances because these observances are either rooted in, or influenced by, theological beliefs (the religion). What do we do when theological beliefs are twisted, and are rooted in lies and mens opinions? We will find abuses hidden under the façade! We will find all manner of corruption, oppression, rules, evil, and atrocities. We will also find countless victims of the abuses.

Theological beliefs do not make a person ethical (although they have potential to help a person develop their ethics). Theological beliefs do not make a person spiritual. Theological beliefs do not even ensure that a person is a moral person! All theological beliefs do is instill a set of religious rules and precepts (the religion) which will influence a person’s behavior and attitude for either good or bad. “Religiosity,” then, is a set of ritual observances influenced by theological belief. Many base their ethics on their “religion” instead of what is morally and ethically right! Ethics is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

Thus, we can find a flawed pattern of thinking for many religious people in determining how some of them treat others. (When I use “not religious” below, I am referring to not keeping the religious rules and precepts [theological beliefs] and/or exhibiting religiosity by attending church or serving in a religious ministry [ritual observances].) It could go something like this:

  • They don’t go to church (not religious), therefore they cannot be trusted. (Religion does not determine one’s honesty and integrity.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), therefore they are on their way to hell. (Religion does not determine one’s salvation.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), therefore they are “backslidden.” (Religion does not determine one’s relationship with God.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), so, I will do business with someone that does. (Religion does not determine one’s honesty and integrity in business.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious) therefore they are a bad influence and may lead me into sin. (Religion does not determine Character.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), they are of the “world.” (Religion does not determine who is “of the world.”)
  • They aren’t a part of my religion, they deserve to go to hell. (See how cruel Religion is?)
  • They won’t do as I say, therefore they deserve to be punished, or worse, to die. (Honor killing/violence – See how cruel Religion is?)
  • They don’t believe as we do, let’s hurt them. (Religion hurts those it cannot control.)
  • They are going through a tragedy, therefore God is punishing them for their sin. (Religion is judging people?)

Can you see the point I am trying to make here? Sometimes, we judge or make assessments about others based on our “religion.” Religion is the rules and precepts created by “the Church” that influence our behavior and attitude toward others. Instead, we should be basing our attitudes and treatment of others on ethics! God wants us to treat others ethically because, as Rabbi Telushkin says,  “God is a God of ETHICS.”

Ethics has to do with moral principles – judging people FAIRLY, expressing GRATITUDE, asking for FORGIVENESS when we have wronged others, expressing anger without inflicting irrevocable HURT, not speaking UNFAIRLY of others, HONESTY, INTEGRITY, treating others with DIGNITY and RESPECT, RESISTING the urge to be envious, to hate, to seek revenge. God wants everyone to be ethical toward others! This can only be done when we truly LOVE our neighbor as ourselves. Ethics determine what you will do when no one is watching. Religiosity, a product of “the religion,” is a façade used to project to others that you are righteous, ethical, and trustworthy, when in fact, you may not be. This facade totally bypasses a person’s responsibility to treat everyone ethically no matter what their preference or belief is. As a result of this new term in society, the Religious have an excuse for treating people unethically – based on theological belief! Religiosity can be used to gain notoriety, secure beneficial relationships for personal gain, hide sin, protect the evil from exposure, hide character flaws.

Religiosity and theological belief do not determine CHARACTER; although theological belief can affect one’s character. Thus, it is important to remind ourselves that just because someone is religious does not make them ethical. Let’s disconnect this term, religious, from our lives and live by ethics and integrity. Let’s treat people ethically no matter their belief, lifestyle or religious affiliation. There is no place of prejudice, dishonesty, judgmentalism, envy, strife, exclusion, or hatred within ethics. These traits only abide under a religious and theological banner where corruption has entered, taken root, and sprouted.

 

The Terrible Toll of Hatred

The Terrible Toll of Hatred

When people commit terrible crimes and an enormous punishment comes upon them, they step back, recognize the evil they have done, and repent. But people guilty of “groundless hatred” never acknowledge that they have committed a sin. Ask them if they think it is wrong to hate their opponents and they will tell you why their adversaries are worthy of being hated. Consequently, although their sin seems to be of a lesser dimension, they never repent of it.

“Love blinds us to faults, hatred to virtues.”—Moshe ibn Ezra (c. 1055-after 1135), Shirat Yisrael

“Hatred makes the straight crooked.”—Hebrew proverb

People who hate don’t “see straight.” Describe to them a good act performed by a person they despise, and they will formulate theories explaining why it really is evil, or motivated by evil intentions.

— – Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Wisdom, pg 197.

These words of Telushkin should cause us to step back and carefully consider how we are viewing those “we have hatred for.” Hatred should be aimed at “evil doers” in order to stop their tyranny and evil which is directly aimed at hurting and/or destroying innocent people. It is not for those we “hate” because of lifestyle, ethnicity, bad choices, or opposing beliefs. Evil doers are only interested in controlling and manipulating people for their own selfish causes; whatever those selfish causes may be (notoriety, money, power, religion, etc.). Evil’s goal is to impose its beliefs and standards onto others by force (bondage) or, through deception.  The opposition to Evil, is “unconditional love.” Unconditional love brings freedom, autonomy, and joy. One is rooted in “darkness” and the other is rooted in “Light.”

Sadly, when we allow evil doers to get away with their evil and they are not heavily punished, they will continue to perpetrate evil and more victims will fall prey to their destruction; or worse, begin perpetrating evil themselves against other innocent victims. It is so important that we stop Evil and those who perpetrate it before more innocent lives are overtaken by it and them. Evil does not want us to be happy and free. It wants us to be controlled. It wants to manipulate us into do its bidding. What is Evil’s bidding? Making people “blind” in order to perpetrate more Evil under a false facade. Evil uses behavior modification, mind control, and information control to bring innocent people over to its side. As a result, “blindness” causes good people to do and say bad things to other good people! It also causes good people to perpetrate evil against other good people.

Hatred is a seed that can sprout Evil in my opinion. Misplaced hatred for any reason other than evil behavior’s and attitudes that harm and destroy innocent people, is wrong. The Evil have made crooked a straight path. In the end, the harm they inflict will have a ripple effect and many will either succumb to the evil themselves or, be destroyed as a result. The Evil will be held accountable by God for each and every person affected by their evil.

This said, when Evil is perpetrated by people who claim to represent God, they commit the ultimate and unpardonable sin:

The Third Commandment also has not fared well in English. Lo tissa et shem Ha-Shem Eloheikha la-shav is usually translated as “You shall not TAKE the Lord your God’s name in vain.” Many people think that this means that you have to write God as G-D, or that it is blasphemous to say words such as “god-damn.” Even if these assumptions are correct, it’s still hard to figure out what makes this offense so heinous that it’s included in the document that forbids murdering, stealing, idolatry, and adultery. However, the Hebrew, Lo tessa, literally means “You shall not CARRY [God’s name in vain]”; in other words don’t use God as your justification in selfish causes. The Third commandment is the only one concerning which God says, “for the Lord God will not forgive him who carries His name in vain” (Exodus 20:6-7). The reason now seems to be clear. When a person commits an evil act, he discredits himself. But when a religious person commits an evil act in the name of God, he or she discredits God as well. And since God relies on religious people to bring knowledge of Him into the world, He pronounces this sin unpardonable.” — Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy

Overcoming FEAR

fearToday, I would like to cover a topic that is of major concern to me when it comes to those who have been abused. Abuse can come in many forms. It can be emotional abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse and exploitation. Whatever the abuse is that happens to us, it creates fear and this fear can stifle a person’s growth. Many times, these fears are “instilled” fears. They are learned over time through the experiences we have had to walk through in life. These instilled fears can also be the by-product of brainwashing/indoctrination. As a result, it produces in people negative traits that follow them wherever they go. It determines reaction. It determines outcomes. Because this issue is so prevalent and difficult to control, I thought I would take a shot at maybe helping others through their fears by telling about mine and how I deal with them. Let me start by naming some fears that many people deal with (this includes me!) who have gone through abuse of any kind:

  • Fear of other people
  • Fear of being made a fool of
  • Fear of being hurt again
  • Fear of being called names and labeled
  • Fear of being shamed
  • Fear of being wrong or making a mistake
  • Fear of being attacked physically or publicly (public humiliation)
  • Fear of being shunned
  • Fear of being slandered or character assassinated
  • Fear of government
  • Fear of church leaders
  • Fear of being threatened
  • Fear of not being believed
  • This list of fears could go on and on!

First of all, let me say that having fear is normal! It is natural to be fearful. As children, we are afraid of the dark; but then our parents help us through that fear by getting a night light in our room. As we get older and grow through further education, we realize there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark. Also, as children, we have parents that reassure us and nurture us along, helping to guide us through that fear until we are old enough to educate ourselves. But who do we have to help nurture and guide us through our fears as adults? Friends, family and professional counselors.

If you are a Christian reading this, then your answer would be, “You can trust in God! God will not give you more than you can handle. If you really trusted in God, you would not fear.” Sadly, these parroted responses taught to us in church or Sunday school do not eliminate fear. As a matter of fact, all they do is produce more fear, shame, and negative self-talk in someone suffering from fears or PTSD. Fears are REAL in the minds of those suffering from them and, these sufferers are desperately trying to cope and/or find a way to overcome them. None of us WANT to be afraid.

As survivors of religious abuses of varying kinds, we have had our thinking and behavior modified due to indoctrination. Just because we extract ourselves from the abusive organization, doesn’t mean that we leave as a “whole” human being. When I say ‘whole’ I am implying the leaving behind of the mindsets and behavioral patterns we have developed as a result of the indoctrination. When a person leaves an abusive organization or relationship, the mindsets, the fears, and the behavioral patterns all leave with that person. They do not magically disappear! These negative traits are a part of who we are as individuals. At the most inopportune time, they rear their heads in our lives and create untold hardship for us.

How does fear create hardship for us? Let’s look at some ways that it does for me and maybe some of you will relate.

IT PREVENTS FORWARD MOBILITY

Fear stops me in my tracks and prevents or hinders me from moving forward in making decisions that could be beneficial for me. It often prevents me from branching out and experiencing new things; from stepping out into the unknown to SEE what is available to me. Some of these new things could bring much happiness to my life; yet, fear prevents me.

My fears cause me to internalize negative teachings from my indoctrination in the cult into negative PERSONAL characteristics and attach them to my being. In the cult I was taught I was worthless because I was a woman. I was taught that women should not be listened to or believed. As a result of believing I was worthless, that I couldn’t do anything right, it produced other negative feelings.

Anytime I try to do anything good for myself or others, negative self-talk rears its head. My mind seemingly goes into auto-pilot mode and begins to tell me such things as the following:

  • You should have answered that question differently. People are going to misunderstand you because you said it the wrong way. See how stupid you are?
  • You should have answered that question differently. Because of the way you said it, you may have just hurt this or that person’s feelings. Now look what you’ve done!
  • You should have answered that question differently. Now people are going to take what you’ve said and use it humiliate you. They are going to twist your words! See, I told you, you are stupid!
  • You should have answered that question differently. Because I didn’t answer it differently, now people think I am a fool. Because I didn’t answer it differently, now I have lost credibility. No one will ever believe me again! See, “THEY” were right. No one should ever believe anything I say!

Here’s the reality. There is a possibility that some or all of these fears could be true. But so what? If someone misunderstands me, I apologize and make it right. If I hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize and make it right. If someone takes what I say and twists it in order to hurt me, SHAME on that person – not me! THAT person is perpetrating evil. I will continue to speak MY truth when asked. I am not perfect. I make many mistakes. I will continue to make mistakes in life as I learn and grow. Where would I be as a person if I did not have mistakes in my past to TEACH me and make me a better person? If I lose credibility, I learn from the mistake and work on getting better. No one is PERFECT. All have sinned. All fall short. Just because we fail or hurt someone does not mean we are worthless, stupid or a bad person – it means we are human! Pick yourself back up and walk!

Surround yourself with “encouragers” to help you pick yourself back up.  Encouragers are some of the greatest people you will ever meet. God has put them in our lives to help us through the difficult times. I LOVE encouragers! They are the most valuable to those of us who are hurting. Find an encourager and see the difference it can make.

IT CREATES NEGATIVE SELF-WORTH

Because we genuinely believe we are not good enough, we sabotage our efforts. We blame ourselves anytime anything bad happens! We constantly look within ourselves and reinforce the same negative traits through the same negative self-talk. It becomes a vicious cycle. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it can also lead us to PLACE blame on others in order to shift the spotlight off ourselves. Negative self-worth speaks to us as follows:

  • How could anyone love me? Look at what an awful person I am?
  • How could anyone love me? Look how I just messed up?
  • How could anyone love me? I am used goods!
  • How could anyone love me? Look at the mistakes I have made in my life!
  • How could anyone love me? I am so ugly.
  • How could anyone love me? I can’t do anything right!

This list can go on and on as well. Negative self worth prevents us from seeing how wonderful we are as human beings. It prevents us from being ourselves and enjoying life to its fullest. It will stifle mutually beneficial relationships and hinder or destroy friendships. It will also cause us to second guess everything we say!

Negative self worth can even manifest itself in ways that are repulsive to others! Have you ever come across a person that is boastful? All they do is talk about themselves and all the great things they have done? More than likely, that person suffers from a negative self-worth and acts this way in order to compensate. It never dawns on the individual that he not only comes across as boastful and proud, but he also reeks of self-absorption. Their negative self worth has hindered them from growing; instead, it produced negative fruit that will further harm them. They want to show the world they really are a fantastic person who can do great things. But what it shows others is they are not secure in themselves and who they are as a person.

When this negative self-talk rears its head, tell yourself you don’t believe it! I refuse to believe that I am worthless! I refuse to believe that I can’t do SOMETHING right! I refuse to believe that I cannot correct a mistake if I make one! I will get better! I will be better for ME and others! I will take responsibility for my mistakes and keep moving forward.

IT PRODUCES SILENCE

This has to be the number one trait of fear. It causes us to remain silent. In the face of injustice, our lips are tightly sealed. This is so sad. Because of fear, we enable abuse to further proliferate; allow abusive people to further harm others.

Here’s how my fears silenced me when I was in the cult. None of these are criminal, but they lead to a ‘blindness’ toward emotional abuse, information control and behavior modification.

  • There were opinions and lies in the many sermons that were preached. They had underlying meanings aimed at making women look bad. I said nothing to others, only my family, out of fear of being attacked or slandered for “questioning” the leadership. (See my adapted response due to fear? This allowed for these targeted sermons to continue to brainwash the men regarding women!)
  • This leader is too controlling. He wants everyone to go to him before making decisions for their family? I remained silent out of fear of confrontation or attack. I decide never to go to the pastor for advice on personal decisions. The pastor knows this and gossips to others about me in order to prevent them from listening to anything I have to say or, associating with me. Now I have only a couple of families as friends. I still remain silent and do not confront the situation. (This pastor will continue to do the same to others because of my silence.)
  • This leader is attacking me and my family publicly. I say nothing to anyone in the church. I quietly leave hoping the next church won’t use the pulpit as a whipping post to humiliate and attack people. (This allows for the abuser to keep abusing others the same way!)
  • That preacher was accused of child molestation? I won’t talk about it. It can’t possibly be true. No one else better talk about it either and hurt the cause of Christ! The preacher said, “No gossiping allowed!” (Aiding a coverup.)
  • Something is not right here. I am not getting myself involved! I don’t want to get hurt. (Another family is destroyed, has no support, and suffers because of my silence.)

Now, let’s look at some fears that I know others deal with that prevent them from stepping forward and reporting criminal abuses:

  • I was told not to report it because it was ‘my fault.’
  • I was told to let the church handle it. After all, I don’t want to hurt the cause of Christ!
  • I will be called a liar.
  • I am afraid of anyone else knowing what has happened to me.
  • I will have to carry shame for the rest of my life.
  • People will think less of me because of the abuse. They will despise me.
  • I will be ‘marked.’
  • I will be publicly humiliated.
  • Everyone will make fun of me.
  • I will be harassed.
  • They may try to hurt me.
  • And on and on we go. . .

The reality is that silence prevents justice, prevents autonomy, reinforces an abusers stronghold, destroys others, and self. Justice is really WORTH the price paid. But most don’t believe that! Speaking up could prevent further abuse. Speaking up shows others that they can speak up too! Speaking up emboldens others and, your courage in doing so may be what makes the difference in bringing about change.

Is there danger in speaking up? In standing up for yourself and your family against abuse? Yes. Don’t let the dangers stop you. It may be the bravest and most selfless thing you have ever done in your life! Standing up for what is right, because it is right, is the greatest character trait of all. Just think of how proud God will be of you! Will we have fears? Yes. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Our silence could mean destruction for someone else. Danger is a part of life. It comes and it goes. Personally, I would rather die for doing what I believe is right than hiding and cowering in fear of others and what they think. I cowered most of my life and I will cower no more. If I am going to make mistakes, I wont run from them! I will face them and allow people to SEE my humanity, my vulnerability, my genuineness. I know that through humility – owning up to my mistakes and working hard to make things right – people will forgive. I pick myself back up and march on.

None of us are perfect! We all will have good and bad days. But when we let fear LEAD us and GUIDE us, we have failed miserably. God is not pleased. ACTION overcomes FEAR. I will continue to do what I am afraid to do. I will continue to speak when I am afraid to speak. I will speak with discretion though, in order to minimize repercussions. I will use gracious words to minimize attack. I will use loving words, because I care about others. I will lift up and edify those that disagree with me, because they are human too. How I respond to the negative could determine whether or not someone who is watching is changed because of me. The same is true for each of you. Will I mess up now and again with my words? Yes. We all will!  We just apologize and move on.

Courage is contagious. Others draw strength from those that show courage and try to be courageous themselves. Fear proliferates SILENCE. Silence is also contagious. As a result, we need more people to choose to be courageous for the sake of others. If no one speaks out to stop the abuses, corruption has fertile ground to grow and more and more people will get hurt and destroyed.

Is silence worth the life of one single soul? No. Will FEAR continue to control my life and keep me silent? No. Eventually, I will gain the victory over my fears with each step I take to conquer them. Is there joy outside of the fear? Yes. Is there danger? Could be. You will only know what lies ahead when you take action to do what you are afraid to do. What I have learned is that, in MOST cases, my fears were always bigger than reality. I bet they will be for you too.

1 Cor. 14 – Shall Women Keep Silence?

Shall Women Keep Silence?

silence“Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church”

There have been countless attempts by church leaders to reconcile Paul’s directions about women “praying and prophesying” in Chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians, and the seeming command, “Let the [not your] women keep silence in the churches,” of Chapter 14. And sadly, no one wants to look at this corruption for what it is – a corruption (See my article “Corruption in 1 Cor. 14”). Yes, this is a corruption. However, because many Christians refuse to see if for what it is, let’s look at it from a merely logical perspective.

This lesson is my simple summarization of a chapter written by Katharine C. Bushnell (1856-1946). Bushnell was a brilliant Hebrew and Greek scholar and passionate advocate for the oppressed. Her career included serving as a medical doctor in the U.S. and China, working for social reform, and founding a mission for homeless women in Chicago. She also battled against prostitution in Wisconsin lumber camps and India, and investigated the opium trade between India and China. She received international recognition for her courageous reform work. Also a missionary and scholar, she studied the Bible in its original languages in order to determine the biblical status of women, publishing her findings in the book, God’s Word to Women.

The Theological Arguments

Argument #1: Paul is meeting a purely local difficulty of some sort that is of no importance outside of Corinth or to us in our day.

The Objection: We cannot assume that any point made in Scripture has only a local application even though this is sometimes the case. Otherwise, we can weaken the authority of the Bible.

Argument #2: Paul changed his mind and decided to forbid women to speak at all. (This is the usual claim by clergy.)

Objection #1: He changed it quickly, then, without any consideration or thought into the damages his words would cause later on. As we all know, this statement has affected millions of women for centuries in a bad way.

Objection #2: Was Paul really this fickle? If his words are supposed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit who prompted them, how could the Holy Spirit be so fickle?

Argument #3: He forbids women from ‘babbling’ and ‘chattering’ in church, but does not forbid them from prophesying.

Objection #1: Those who hold this view generally refer to the disorderly way women in Eastern churches, recently out of heathenism, conducted themselves. But there is no proof that Corinthian women misbehaved after this manner.

Objection #2: The Greek word here “to talk” (laleo), may be employed in the sense of “to babble”, but the Apostle never uses it in this sense elsewhere, and he uses the word 23 times in this very chapter for solemn utterance under Divine inspiration.

Argument #4: He only forbids women to speak and ask questions; they must ask their questions at home.

Objection #1: It is not known that even men asked questions in church, as the Jewish men did in the synagogue. There is an “assumption” that men asked questions. We cannot assume anything here. “Let all the earth keep silence before Him (Hab. 2:20),” could be construed as closing the mouths of the entire church, but we do not interpret it that way.

Objection #2: As to women asking their husbands at home, some of these Corinthian women would be widows, some divorced on account of their Christian faith, some with Jewish husbands, some with heathen husbands, some not married at all. This would be true of all the churches throughout history. I don’t think Paul would send these women “to their husbands” to ask questions. This would be foolish.

If Paul did such a foolish thing, then he is responsible for driving these women back to Judaism and heathenism for spiritual help; many others he deprived of all opportunity to get their questions answered since they had no husbands! In fact, a majority of the Christian women would have been left ignorant of very important spiritual truths by such a ruling. We cannot possibly believe that Paul went about giving the Bread of Life to all men and a stone for bread to women?

Argument #5: Paul uses the phrase, “it is not permitted,” clearly implying that others besides him knew this thing was forbidden even before he stated it.

Objection: Not one trace of any such prohibition can be found anywhere in the Bible until these very words of Paul appear. This raises the question about where these words came from. Who did not permit it? Where was it not permitted? The O.T. says absolutely nothing to forbid women to speak.

Argument #6: Most religious men believe that Paul’s command closed the mouth of every Christian woman.

Objection #1: We must remember to read the account of Miriam (Ex. 15:20); of Deborah (Judges chs. 4 and 5); of the immense assembly of important people addressed by the daughters of Zelophehad (Num. 27:1-7, where it is expressly said the Lord approved their message); the references to Huldah the prophetess (2Kings 22); the references to women who prophesied in song (1 Chron. 25); and to women who “prophesy out of their own heart,” where the rebuke is as to what is prophesied, not as to the prophesying itself (Ezek. 13:17).

Objection #2: There is a considerable body of women prophets and it implies that there were many other women prophets who were not false. Then, we must read of Anna, (Luke 2:36-38); of the women Christ caused to speak in public (Luke 8:47, Luke 13:13); the utterance of Peter as to women prophesying (Acts 2:16-18); and the reference to Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9).

As we can see from these arguments and objections, there is so much more to consider than just believing this ‘known corruption’ to be fact. Just looking at it logically, we find many flaws. So, all this said, let’s ask ourselves this question: If this one only utterance of Paul is to be used and set up as a Scriptural “law” to silence women, then what is to be done with the hundred and one other “laws” in the O.T. opening the mouths of women, — such as:

  • “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”
  • “Praise ye the Lord” (repeated about 100 times in Psalms alone)
  • “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
  • “Declare His doings among the people”
  • “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord,”
  • “Tell of all His wondrous works”

It is simply impossible for men to claim that all these admonitions and exhortations were meant for men only. As a matter of fact, it was not understood that way for thousands of years, and for religious leaders to teach such an interpretation of one SINGLE sentence of Scripture now, sets at defiance more than a hundred other scriptures.

Many scholars understand Paul’s words, “it is not permitted” as referring to some rule outside, not inside Scripture; possibly the oral tradition of the Jews. However, it is not likely that Paul would quote the oral tradition of the Jews and refer to them as “the law.” Paul spent a large amount of time battling against these very traditions just as Jesus did. Paul even warns against “giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Tit. 1:14) Even if we did not know this was a corruption placed in Scripture, one would still find problems with it. The Apostle Paul was probably quoting what the Judaizers in the Corinthian Church were teaching – who themselves said women must “keep silence” because Jewish law taught it. Scholars already know that many of the scribal marginal notes have been inserted into scripture as scripture, so this occurring here would not be out of the ordinary.

We could believe then that Paul was responding to the teachings of these Judaizers: “What! Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?”

One can gather from this Epistle several things:

  1. The Corinthian Christians had written Paul a letter (7:1) and he is answering it.
  2. There were divisions among them (1:11).
  3. Paul had enemies at Corinth, who disputed his right to be called an Apostle (9:1).
  4. They criticized him and his companions for leading about women with them (9:5). He declares that “we” have as much right to do it as “the other apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas.” Who was this woman? No doubt it was Priscilla along with her husband Aquila. Also notice Paul mentions Priscilla first instead of her “head.” This alone would cause a scandal in that day. She was a very well known person to all “the churches of the Gentiles” (Rom. 16:4). How could that be if she were silenced by Paul?

Women, Religion, Violence and Power

Women, Religion, Violence and Power

TRANSCRIPT

BOB FAW, correspondent: The abuse of women is a worldwide epidemic. Every year, according to the United Nations, nearly 700,000 women and girls are traded across international borders and sold into sexual slavery. Tens of thousands more are beaten, raped, and murdered. One quarter of all American women, by some estimates, will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. Melanne Verveer was the first United States ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and is now with the Institute for Women, Peace, and Security at Georgetown University.

AMBASSADOR MELANNE VERVEER (Executive Director, Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, Georgetown University): It is a global scourge. It incurs a great set of limitations on individuals—much of half of the population of the world. Women have enormous agency that is being kept back, and so they are not only being shortchanged, but our world is being shortchanged.

Justice-for-Women-post01FAW: Full-time female workers earn, on average, 23 percent less than men, while women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, says the United Nations, and women make up the largest block of the world’s poor. Jalwat Ali from Pakistan:

JALWAT ALI (Labour Education Foundation): Of course they are working, but they do not have recognition as a separate entity. No woman’s name is ever recorded in the registers. Whatever work she does is noted down with her man.

FAW: Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn have traveled the world championing human rights and charitable causes, and from what Carter has seen and studied, he says the abuse and exploitation of women is the world’s gravest issue. He recently wrote a book about it.

PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER (Author, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power”): The worst human rights abuse on earth right now is by far the abuse of women and girls, and this takes place not only in every foreign country but also in the United States quite severely.

FAW: In much of developing world boys are prized so much more than girls that newborn females are killed, and female fetuses are destroyed.

VERVEER: You abort a female fetus because you have this great desire that somehow she is not of the same level, the same worth as the son is.

FAW: Some policies like one child per family and extreme poverty, President Carter says, causes parents to choose boys over girls because boys are more able to support the family.

Justice-for-Women-post02CARTER: We believe about 40 million people were killed in the Second World War. Four times as many little baby girls have been killed in this generation by their own parents, who strangle the little girls at birth. Sonograms have become available to remote villages, and they can detect the sex of the developing fetus, and now after about 12 weeks or so if they discern it is going to be a girl baby, they abort the fetus.

FAW: in some countries like India and China, with so many females being aborted, there are not enough women available to marry, so girls are stolen from their parents and shipped off to be child brides.

SALEHA BIBI: I prayed for my daughter in the mosque, and I gave sacrificial offerings, and I keep praying so I can find her.

FAW: Carter says the World Health Organization estimates that 122 million women and girls have been subjected to female genital mutilation.

ASLI AHMED: What could I do as a child? The adults make the decision for me. It was not your choice.

CARTER: There are about 25 countries in Africa almost half of the females have their genitals mutilated. It is a custom that is perpetuated by women only. Husbands don’t insist on it, mullahs don’t insist on it, the government doesn’t insist on it. In fact, there is a law against it, but women when they were circumcised as children, and they feel it is proper for them to circumcise their little baby daughters.

Justice-for-Women-post03FAW: Carter and others say one root cause of this abuse of women is the misreading of scripture or sacred texts, legitimizing male dominance over females.

CARTER: The great religions misinterpret their scripture. The men leaders of the great religions select verses from the Holy Bible or from the Qur’an that show that women should be given, relegated to a secondary position in the eyes of God, and this gives a potential abusive husband or an employer who wants to pay less to women employees than men an excuse: If women aren’t equal in the eyes of God, why should I treat her equal in my business or in my home?

FAW: While Carter says he has great respect for many denominations, he is uncomfortable that Catholic women can’t be priests and deacons. That kind of restriction hit a personal note for Carter and his wife in the year 2000 when a conservative group took over the Southern Baptist Convention, of which the Carters are members.

CARTER: They mandated that women could no longer be pastors, deacons, or chaplains. Those kinds of things disturbed me, so we now belong to a Baptist church in Plains, Georgia, and we have female pastors and men pastors.

FAW: The term “gendercide” or “missing millions” refers to females eliminated by abortion, neglect, and murder, and Ambassador Verveer says if the culture which permits those practices does not change, neither will the abuses.

VERVEER: Women who birth daughters are being made to feel in many places that somehow they failed, they have failed miserably, and often these girls are the last fed, if they’re fed at all, and they are denied any prospect of the kind of life they deserve.

Justice-for-Women-post04FAW: Both Verveer and Carter agree that too many religious leaders have remained silent about these issues and that until that changes, progress will be slow.

VERVEER: There needs to be a stronger collective voice that says enough, already. We should not be treating half of our world’s population in the way they are being treated, and yet there isn’t that kind of reaction that says there is no place in our faith communities for any of this. And it’s not just religious leaders. We need political leaders across the board to be recognizing these issues for the serious issues that they are.

FAW: The problems are systemic, but progress is being made. In Senegal, for example, one individual, Molly Melching has rallied villagers and stemmed the practice of female genital mutilation. President Carter’s book proposes 23 other remedies, like prosecuting not just prostitutes but also their male customers, and on university campuses where almost one in four women say they have been raped, withholding federal funds if the universities don’t vigorously prosecute the campus rapists.

CARTER: The college presidents and deans don’t want it to be known that rape takes place on college campuses, so they discourage the girls from reporting the rapes, and we have the same problem within the military.

FAW: Carter and others agree very little real progress or change is likely without a change of mindset.

. . . . to finish reading transcript, click HERE.

 

Vincent’s Story – Surviving Priest Rape

If you, or someone you love and care about has been, as a child, sexually abused, raped, sodomized or molested, there’s one thing you’d have learned or know intimately and that is; you lose your ability to chose. Your world gets smaller and the ability to choose shrinks and narrows to the point where all you can decide on is which option best allows you to survive. No matter your intelligence or education these traumas beset upon you before you can even identify what the hell it is that was done to you – yet still knowing it was all wrong – these feelings and chaos and hell that pedophile rape, molestation and sodomy force you to experience are way beyond most peoples’ ability to process – yet alone having it done to you at 3 years old! What this does – oh and most of these sick fucks also give the child booze and drugs (as in my case) – what happens is akin to… the best image I’ve come up with… you ever see a tree that’s grown around a fence or power line? It looks painful but also like the tree has done the only thing it knows to do and that is to keep going. To keep on growing, grow past the trauma and incorporate it into its foundation, into the core of it’s being. The main problem here though is that trauma weakens the tree and in a storm, it will certainly snap at that weak point. A tree, although it’s alive, it’s not sentient and doesn’t think and can’t fear and plan or anticipate (lucky tree) because those feelings are at the very root of the problem of losing the ability to chose. You begin to operate – at the time the events occurs – in survivor mode. These pedophile rapist fucks destroy a young boys mind with the trauma of rape, sodomy and molestation because – as bizarre as this may sound – when it stops, when they stop being your friend and raping you and paying all this attention to you and giving you drugs and alcohol and toys, when it stops, you’re hurt and scared and worried and at 3 or 5 or 7 years old, you try to figure out what you did wrong? Why don’t they like you anymore? Are they going to kill your parents now? What’s wrong with you? Are they going to get you in trouble? Many times they threaten to kill your parents (that’s what Uncle Al told me he’d do if I told) or your pets or break your toys because they say you’ve done something that made them angry or as a way to show you what they’d do if you told but – with any of it and all of it – you don’t know why or understand what’s really happening but one thing is certain, the child’s outlook on life becomes skewed, twisted and very rudimental. Stay alive. Keep your parents alive. Make the abusing rapist happy and when they stop and/or go away, try and make them come back because you’re 3 or 5 or 7 and don’t understand any of it. If an adult tells you you’ve been bad, you believe them. That’s what you’re told to do. What else can a child and almost toddler do? In my case repeat this abuse scenario 20 to 30 more times from ages 3 to 11 (family friend / Biz partner “Uncle Al”, babysitting hippy couple, Priest, Janitor, and a few I don’t want to mention). With this childhood as my foundation – the core of my reasoning and thought process – how my brain is hardwired, when I reached the age of a teenager and later I’d find myself making choices and decisions that left me baffled and up to my chin in shit. Ten years of therapy in my 30’s has – at best – gotten it down to realizing I’m hurting myself (or my loved one) when just up to my knees in shit – knowing that I need to stop and get out of it – whatever it is – at that point, is real growth and progress. I’ve learned that you don’t get cured, it can get better (and then go right back to being worse – up to your chin – without warning or being able to figure out why) but all in all it takes a lot of work and a near constant vigilance. Until I read some books, attended a ‘survivor of rape and incest’ group and shared and learned that many others share the same childhood trauma and think and process things as an adult the same way I do, that I wasn’t alone – I thought there was something really really wrong with me (not that there’s not but I know I’m not as messed up as I thought – but am pretty broken.

I write all of this for a few reasons; One is I was recently accused of making my life turn out the way it did because I chose it to be this way and two, in hopes that someone else who is as hurt and confused as I was because of the trauma realizes that it’s not all their fault, they’re not alone, that there’s hope and someone cares.

The worst thing I can say to someone with children is that “I wish my childhood on them” and the worst thing I can say to my asshole family is “not only do I wish my childhood on your kids but that you treat them exactly the same way you treated me.” They treated me like shit for most of my life – when most families would lament the burden a troubled loved one brings to them ending most conversations with “but they’re family, what can you do?” there was no such talk in mine. I was thrown out of the house at 14. When an option for a state run reform school or private school was presented my father said something like “he’s your problem – educate him till he’s 18” when he could have easily afforded to send his gifted child (superior to genius on the tests) to a boarding school. Later, I was tried, convicted and kicked out – literally – the moment I turned 18 (with nowhere to go and no degree or no real ability to care for myself).

The ability to recall and talk about the still very foggy memories of the abuse and telling them what I remembered when these repressed memories surfaced at 26 years old DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO CHANGE THE HORRIBLE WAY THEY TREATED ME. Things were exactly the same as before – actually worse – because now we all knew what had happened to me yet for the next 24 years these right wing republican humps blamed me, the victim and although their types are the first to call psychology and therapy b.s. – suddenly they’ll put 100% faith in the idea that one can be cured and would be if “they only pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, do a little work, stop their whining and put a little skin in the game.”

OMG!!! I wanna puke.

I’ve had little choice in my life and have suffered because of many of the choices I’ve made only knowing I needed to make the ones that allowed me to feel better than the all encompassing 24 hour soul crushing despair that occupied my every waking moment. Not wanting to die is a huge relief and anything, be it a beer or a joint (or prayer and meditation – which is what I know now) bestowed that sweet relief from a near constant suicidal tendency, well hell, anyone – especially a 13 year old who knows nothing from nothing but the very basics of survival – would do (and I did) anything to make the hell stop. The rapist pedophile Priest saw to it that I had no faith or trust in God or the Church and my right-wing, beating the life out of me with a strap or yard stick until the child abuse board was in our living room parents – who didn’t do the most basic of basic parenting responsibilities, which is to keep me safe – made sure I had no ability to trust in anyone else (btw: my father got out of it because he was a law enforcement officer and called it a corporal punishment spanking – even though I was 13 and had black and blues all over my legs and body to the point that my gym teacher called the police). I had it coming at me from all angles. Sorry but if a little beer or weed did for you what nothing or anyone else was supposed to – make you feel safe and not wanting to die and gave you a little hope to continue on for a little while longer you’d be making the exact same choices I did. Actually, maybe not. Statistically, out of 10 abused men (9 + me), most of them would have become child rapists and be in prison for it. Statistically most abusers were abused themselves. Women, on the other hand, go into sex work to become empowered over the memories. Perpetrating is something I didn’t do. There was an incident when I was 12 and baby sitting for a 10 year old neighbor girl but that was it. Although mostly at a loss, I credit this to my heightened sense of empathy and morality. I did my fair share of stupid crap but when I became old enough to become a predator I knew the difference between right and wrong, knew the 10 commandments and knew how being hurt by others felt and had no desire to make another feel that way.

Being told that I chose this life was the most hurtful, ignorant thing I’ve ever heard from a family member. It not only showed me how little they care but that they’ve also never done any research into what I went through as well as never learning anything about what happened to me or someone who is sexually abused as a child. I should have expected it. Whenever they say and do incredibly insensitive shit I’m still hurt and surprised. I should know better, especially about this, being that I’ve never been asked about or shown sympathy over what happened to me as a child, by any of them. Not once, ever.

Warning Letter in 1993 to Jack Schaap and First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana

From the Author: I am re-blogging this warning letter so that people can see how religious leaders stealthily and deceptively cover up crimes and hide criminals in their midst.  I also want readers to see how religious leaders attack and malign those who come forward to report abuses witnessed. Church leaders set out to “discredit” the witness and the victim.

I would like to point out some POSSIBILITIES here based on my experiences with other abuse victims who have reported. Here they are:

  • It is possible that in setting out to discredit the witness and the child, the church leaders created new abuse victims (the witness and the child’s parents) and perpetrated secondary abuse onto the small child.
  • It may have possibly created enemies out of long-time friends in this church who this family or witness may have had as leaders rallied church members to the defense of the pedophile they were trying to protect. Not only this, but this letter shows that the church was more concerned about their reputation than the trauma this child endured and the needs of this family.
  • It is also very possible the witness and the child’s parents may have lost any paid positions they may have held in the church as a result of reporting.
  • It is possible the church leaders may have used scripture and God to inflict emotional harm to this poor family and witness in order to try and shame them and silence them.
  • The witness and the child’s parents possibly suffered great emotional and psychological trauma as a result of the church’s treatment of them.

This is only my thoughts on the possibilities. All of this possible abuse, is aimed at silencing the truth and the truth tellers. Truly, only Voyle Glover and those that knew this family can validate if any of this took place. But I just want people to “think” about the affects their words and behaviors have in situations like this when they try to victim blame and hide criminal behaviors. It causes good people to do and say bad things to other good people.

Sadly, this is the pattern that religious institutions and religious leaders are following all across America. They not only secondarily abuse victims, they leave a trail of new victims in their wake as a result of the slander and lies they put out to their congregations regarding victims and witnesses. They have no problem dividing families and destroying lives in order to hide the abuser and the abuse. Reputation trumps truth.  What is even more sad, is that this letter was ignored and today, Jack Schaap, is in federal prison for taking a minor across state lines for sex.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Warning Letter in 1993 to Jack Schaap and First
Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana
By Voyle Glover

THE DEACON CHILD MOLESTER
Years ago, a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, molested a child in the Sunday School class at the church. The deacon, A.V.
Ballenger, was a long time respected member of the church. Upon the arrest of Ballenger, Hyles came out in support of Ballenger from the pulpit, preaching an entire sermon that can be summarized as mostly a defense of himself for not investigating the case when he was told about it by an eye-witness, and it was a defense of Ballenger.

Example: “A.V. Ballenger should not be judged in the courts of Hammond. He should be judged by wise people in the First Baptist Church of Hammond, if he’s judged at all. And I’ll explain to you after awhile whether or not he should be judged at all….” -sermon by Jack Hyles 10-23-91

Jack Schaap, the son-in-law of Hyles, also spoke out publicly on the matter, saying that the little girl “was one of the most affectionate children I’ve ever known…” and then relates how she was on his bus route and was always hugging on him. One had to come away from that sermon stunned because the clear implication there was that somehow, due to the affectionate nature of the child, she was to be blamed, and that somehow her affection was the cause of this injustice (Ballenger being charged with child molesting).

Now in the past, I have represented Jack Schaap on some minor things, mostly giving advice on various things and I believe a contract here and there. I genuinely liked Jack Schaap. So, when I heard Hyles’ sermon, followed by Schaap’s position, and the church’s horrific treatment of the witness to the molestation, a Sunday School teacher who was a loyal-to-all-things-Jack, I could not resist writing a letter to Schaap, and even sent him a copy of my book, though I am sure he’d already read it by then. What follows is the letter (sans my letterhead) I sent to Jack Schaap. I never got a response. Subsequently, in July 2012, Jack Schaap was fired for having sex with a minor and was indicted. His sentencing is scheduled for January 2013. He has entered a plea agreement with the United States (see links at the end of this piece to download the plea agreement).

April 1, 1993

Jack Schaap
*************

Dyer, IN 46311

Dear Jack:

I found Mr. Ballenger’s case so extremely ironic and sad, indeed, pitiful. Your pastor advanced the “one witness” doctrine (called “Justice,” I believe) and in my book (p. 240-42), I took issue with his teachings on that and even advanced a hypothetical where a young girl is molested. I proved, based on your pastor’s own words, how a molestation was likely to be covered up with his rationale, rather than exposed and dealt with. Little did I know that the Ballenger case would prove my hypothetical to be exactly true. I predicted how an alleged molestation would be covered and not dealt with properly using your pastor’s rationale. And it was so.

Dunno if you’re still interested in truth anymore, Jack. I know you used to be. If you are, read the hypothetical I posed in the book (enclosed). And then think about it. And ask yourself what possible gain Tamara Wenger could have had in coming forward with her story. And wonder, with me, at the terrible things being said about her. How much Christian love is being shown to her? Is she not a sister in Christ? And even if you can somehow conjure up a rationale to advance the notion that she is not, are you not commanded to love your enemy? Even those who “despitefully use” you? God has said: “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 17:15. I would greatly fear, Jack, of
being as an abomination unto my Lord. But, what you and others have done is to condemn a woman who was just, who reported something she saw. Even your pastor says: “I do not say it is not true. I said I do not believe it.” Thus, to call Mrs. Wenger a liar, is to condemn the just. I’ve never spoken with the woman, but from all reports, she is a good woman, although I think she had absolutely no idea of the storm that would swirl around her. But I thank God she stood firm in spite of the ugly treatment accorded to her by Christians who purport to love but in fact, love only those who love them. And Jesus said that was easy and not really commendable, didn’t He? Thus, even if she was an “enemy” (and she could hardly be characterized as that), the terrible things said about her are unchristian and contrary to Scripture.

. . . to read the rest of the Letter click HERE.

The Evil – How to Identify Them – Cont’d

goodorevilDeciding to write about this topic was one I thought would interest survivors of abuse. Many survivors are currently dealing with evil in their lives – whether it be evil perpetrated against them to silence them or, just plain evil people – either way, evil will leave a person afraid, hurting, confused and a whole host of other emotions. Surrounded by evil behaviors from good people and evil behaviors and words from evil people, we must understand how dangerous the evil are and how they affect us. This information is so much more involved than just the little I share with readers here. I recommend everyone purchase and read a copy of M. Scott Peck’s, People of the Lie. He covers this topic so well and identifies so much of what we deal with as survivors from the people in the religious cults we came out of. It is a must read for every survivor. I am sure when he wrote this book, he never dreamed it would be applicable to the church and its followers!  Sadly, it is.  Knowing how to identify and avoid evil and those who are evil will save us so much trauma. All this said, let me take up where I left off in the first part of this topic and discuss the next characteristics of “the evil” that will help us to identify who they are.

People of the Lie

Peopleofthelie

Another characteristic of the evil is Narcissism, or self-absorption. According to Dr. Peck, some forms of it are normal in childhood, but not in adulthood. Some are more distinctly pathological than others. He talks about a particular pathologic variant called “malignant narcissism,” a term given by Erich Fromm.

“Malignant narcissism is characterized by an unsubmitted will. All adults who are mentally healthy submit themselves one way or another to something higher than themselves, be it God or truth or love or some other ideal. They do what God wants them to do rather than what they would desire. “Thy will, not mine, be done,” the God-submitted person says. They believe in what is true rather than what they would like to be true. . . what their beloved needs becomes more important to them than their own gratification. In summary, to a greater or lesser degree, all mentally healthy individuals submit themselves to the demands of their own conscience. Not so the evil, however. In the conflict between their guilt and their will, it is the guilt that must go and the will that must win.”—M. Scott Peck, M.D.

He goes on to say the evil are extraordinary in their willfulness. They have a strong will and are determined to have their own way. There is remarkable power in the manner in which they attempt to control others (Peck).

This said, a strong will does not determine that a person is evil.

“It is a characteristic of all “great” people that they are extremely strong-willed—whether their greatness be for good or for evil. The strong will—the power and authority—of Jesus radiates from the Gospels, just as Hitler’s did from Mein Kempf. But Jesus’ will was that of his Father, and Hitler’s that of his own. The crucial distinction is between “willingness and willfulness.”

This willful failure to submission that characterizes malignant narcissism is depicted in both the stories of Satan and of Cain and Abel. Satan refused to submit to God’s judgment that Christ was superior to him. For Christ to be preferred meant that Satan was not. Satan was less than Christ in God’s eyes. For Satan to have accepted God’s judgment, he would have had to accept his own imperfection. This he could not or would not do. It was unthinkable that he was imperfect. Consequently submission was impossible and both the rebellion and fall inevitable. So also God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice implied a criticism of Cain: Cain was less than Abel in God’s eyes. Since he refused to acknowledge his imperfection, it was inevitable that Cain, like Satan, should take the law into his own hands and commit murder. In some similar, although usually more subtle fashion, all who are evil also take the law into their own hands, to destroy life or liveliness in defense of their narcissistic self-image.”—M. Scott Peck, M.D.

What is the cause of this malignant narcissism, this arrogant self-image of perfection? How come it doesn’t afflict everyone? No one knows why. They have not even succeeded in distinguishing between all the different types of self-absorbtion yet. At the time Dr. Peck wrote his book, People of the Lie, there was no definitive answer. Some people can be grossly narcissistic and other not at all.

Another characteristic of the evil is that they are masters of disguise. As mentioned in the first part of this article, because the evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable (Peck). The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability. Everyone becomes expendable in order to maintain the façade.

And the last characteristic of the evil that I will cover is this: The evil always hide their motives with lies. The lies are not necessarily blatant or gross lies. “Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by the evil is most commonly the pretense of love (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). “Because we are good, loving parents, we are deeply concerned about Timothy.” “Because I am her pastor and I love Susie, I am only looking out for her best interests.” “Because we are your parents and we love you, we are doing this to you.” And yet, not everyone is operating under this disguise. So, then, according to Dr. Peck, it must be a matter of degree and it is difficult to know where to draw the line between those that are “falling” into evil and the “fallen.”

First there is a matter of the degree to which they are willing to sacrifice their victim for the preservation of their narcissisitic self-image (Peck). There seems to be no length to which they won’t go. It will not bother them at all to label their victim and use him as a scapegoat. Then there is also the degree — the depth and distortion — of their lying (Peck). The lies are so many that it is a web of deceit so vast that it is nauseating and overwhelming to those affected by it.

Evil is contagious. It affects those surrounded by it in harmful and destructive ways. It leads to many abuses and crimes. So, it is imperative we are able to identify those that are perpetrating evil AND those who have “crossed the line” and are Evil. Let’s review what we’ve covered thus far:

  • Evil begins when one denies his lies and abusive actions.
  • The consistency of the sins is what separates evil and good. The destruction is consistent.
  • Those who have “crossed the line” are characterized by their absolute refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness.
  • Another predominant characteristic of the behavior of evil people is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, the evil must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection.
  • The most typical victim of evil is a child because parents wield absolute power over them. I will add to this that religious leaders can also wield this same power over children.
  • The evil love raw power in order to control and manipulate others.
  • The evil project their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil: on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others.
  • Evil, then, is most often committed in order to scapegoat, and the people labeled as such are chronic scapegoaters and blamers. They are consistently placing blame on others for their inadequacies, short falls and wrong doing.
  • The evil are completely dedicated to preserving their self-image. They are continually engaged in an effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity and righteousness.
  • The evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable.
  • Another characteristic of the evil is Narcissism, or self-absorption.
  • The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability.
  • The evil always hide their motives with lies. The lies are not necessarily blatant or gross lies. “Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by the evil is most commonly the pretense of love (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).

In conclusion, because of the church’s attempts to defend the evil they hide underneath their façade of righteousness, I have endeavored to help readers understand how to identify the evil no matter where one may be. For the last several years, survivors of religious abuses have been doing their best to tell the world the evil they have endured at the hands of those they should have been able to trust.  The evil are in the church and outside of the church, they are family members, they are neighbors, co-works, employers, politicians – everyday people.

Identifying the evil that surround us will enable us to avoid the contamination to the best of our ability. It will allow us an OPPORTUNITY to avoid it, if at all possible, and not be blind-sided by it. Usually, evil is so subtle that by the time we do realize what is happening, it is too late and the harm has been done. Since there is so much evil lurking underneath the mantle of righteousness that many people wear, we must be all the more wiser and our radar needs to be on the highest possible alert level in order to avoid becoming victimized by it, or worse, fall into it. It’s that serious. Identifying evil and “the evil” can mean the difference between happiness or destruction, life or death. What I have come to realize is there is evil in the church system. The Evil have also made their home there. Yet, there are good people in the church system and they too have made their home there. It behooves us to know who our enemies are and avoid them. We also must be aware that because the evil and the good operate alongside each other, good people can be contaminated and influenced by the evil to do evil things to other good people. Those contaminated by evil can recover and be recovered. They are not lost to it. Only those that have “crossed the line” and ARE evil cannot be recovered. This said, one thing rings true where evil is concerned – its primary agenda is to protect self-image. Any organization where you see a complete focus on preserving a righteous and respectable facade; where the focus is to hide all the dirty laundry and corruption – you will find evil lurking. Be Aware.

**M. Scott Peck, M.D.,  is the author of, The People of the Lie, and The Road Less Traveled.

 . . . . . . click here for part one of this topic