Thursday, January 29, 2009

Support Group for Spiritual Abuse

This is information from the VM Life Resources web page. The site has a wealth of information on recognizing and exiting spiritual abuse.

Support Group for Former Members of Cults,High-Demand Groups, or Spiritually Abusive Groups
What the support group is:
Opportunity to discuss experience in a safe place
Peer support in a nonjudgmental group
Provides basic educational information
What Does It Cost?Just your willingness to come. We do not charge for attendance at the support groups.
When Does the Support Group Meet?
On the 4th Saturday of each month from 3:00 to 5:00 pm
How Can I Join?
In order to ensure a safe environment for all participants, an initial meeting with the facilitators is required prior to an invitation to attend the support group. The purpose is to:
Explain the purpose and guidelines of the support group;
Determine if the individual can benefit from this support group; and
Screen out individuals who are posing as former cult members.
Please call 214-607-1065 or e-mail us at for more information.

Questions To Ponder

What would you think about a church or pastor that taped all incoming and outgoing phone calls of everyone without them knowing they were being taped, or calling up someone having them follow another in order to try to catch them doing something (according to the pastor) they shouldn’t yet saying “mark my words the Lord will reveal”, or sending someone over to another’s house to peek and see if they had a TV and were watching it when you were forbidden to own one of your own, or taking up offerings telling the people it was for the visiting speaker or for whatever reason and then go back into the room where the money was being counted and pocket some of it for other things, or cater to the elderly (complaining all the while) in order to get them to leave you their money when they die, or repeat to all around them all the secrets told them in confidence by their members as well as many things which they themselves made up in their own evil minds about people, or a pastor who knowingly came across a boy that had committed suicide and have all the evidence destroyed (including the trial notes the boy had written and thrown away in the garbage) saying it was an accident because they didn't want the police to come in and do a thorough investigation, or when a member leaves the church their kids are kicked out of school (although its school is open to the general public) and their kids school stuff is hand delivered to the members home in a paper sack on the weekend telling others that it was the member who took their kids out when actually the member specifically asked that their kids be allowed to remain.

How do you explain that to a small child especially when they have aunts and uncles still attending the church yet they cut off all contact.

These are only a few of the things I personally and many others have witnessed going on in a Dade City church.

Someone mentioned about going to the person and facing them. This has been done more times than you can even imagine. This is why the church has dwindled down to only a few. If this place was of God, where is the fruit?

These things are being shared in hopes that even one that’s still there might see this and would have their eyes and minds open to the truth as well as any new members to spare them.
Many things have been shared since we have all left and I’m shocked to even begin to think that someone calling themselves a PASTOR could still hold up their head.
I pray that God will have mercy on your soul.
By: Grace Awakening

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blinded By False Love

My Sister and I entered "the Cult" life when I was 12 and she was 10 when our parents enrolled us into what seems a very innocent church/school. Unbeknown to my parents this was a very big mistake. They were quite impressed by the warm greeting they received from the teacher and principal , even some of the church members greeted us with extreme courtesy. I remember thinking where were all the kids , not realizing that "the church kids" I were my age , but were dressed and looked as if they were in there 20's and 30's. The girls wore dresses and skirts that I had seen at the "old lady " departments in Dillard's and Bealls. The boys were wearing dress coats and old style pants that I had seen on older men of their 50's.I couldn't even imagine conforming to wearing those clothes and styling my hair the way they did. Well soon after we starting school , I was immersed into how kind I was treated and gifts started to get laid down at my feet. I was honored with "people person" and varies other awards. I couldn't help but think WOW they must really think I'm special and I just ate it up ! I began staying after school more and helping around the church property with the "church kids". Slowly I fell into a pit of FALSE LOVE. The Principal asked me and my sister to call her Granny and made us feel obligated to give her Grandmother cards for Mother's day and Birthday presents on her birthday. In fact I will never forget her birthday and it was always a feeling of panic that came over the church on what gift would be honored to her sight.Me being the very observant person that I am , watched consistently to see the give and take of what I thought was a "family" love. Everyone was called Sister and Brother , and if you were really blessed in her sight than some were called Aunt and Uncle. My sister and I began going to every service Tuesday night, Wed Night, Sat Night , Sunday Morning and Sunday Night....each service we hid the many journals we were made to write it from our parents. "Granny" made us think our parents were "worldly " and "living for men" , so we began to rebel against them , saying that our "real family" was on that hill (the cult) and that we wanted to walk with God. Looking back I know I hurt my parents probably very deeply for some of the comments we made to them. Unlike the families in the church we owned TV's and had pants in our closets, this gave us the advantage to stay in tact with everyday life. But when my family wanted to get together to go swimming or the movies we made excuses that we were too busy and didn't want to join them.

We became the "CHURCH KIDS" and with that title we were ridiculed in church for having " the look of Satan" on our faces and I in particular wanted to sleep with every man in church and was called several times at Harlot and had the Spirit of Lust allllll over me. My Sister had the Spirit of Pride and was told that she was getting fat and could start wearing the pastor's hand me downs (sizes 16 plus) she was humiliated over and over again. We were matched with two boys in the church and we told that it was the Lord's perfect plan for us to be there for them.

There are many stories of pain I could write , but the one incident that stopped the insanity of following this false love was a prayer meeting on the Tuesday night before Feb 4th (my sister's birthday). My so called "Granny" shook me violently in front of all the church members and screamed into my ear that "I was letting the Lusting Spirit take over my life". Well to my sister that was the straw that broke the camels back. That night she went home to our parents and told them everything that was going on for 6 years while we were there. I begged her not to, but later on realized how right she was for reaching out for help. The next day my parents withdrew us out of school and we were pulled away ,literally forever from those (sisters, aunts, uncles, brothers) we loved and depended on while we were in that place.....they looked at us in horror and I'm sure some of them wished they could go with us . It was like we had to learn how to live all over again, we were so hidden for so many years.

Perfect by Nature

Icons of Self Indulgence
Just what we all need
More lies about the World

That never was and never will be
Have you no shame, don't you see me
You know you've got everybody fooled

Look here she comes now
Bow down and stare in wonder
Oh how we love you
No flaws when your pretending
But I know she....

That never was and never will be
Have you no shame, don't you see me
You know you've got everybody fooled

Without a mask
Where will you hide
Can't find yourself
Lost in your lies
I Know the TRUTH now
I Know who you are
And I don't love you anymore

By Blinded By False Love

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Defeat the Piper's Call

A random whimsy of thought on the Pied Piper of Hamelin married into the subject of spiritual abuse in the strange consciousness I call my brain space.
According to the wikipedia article several variations exist to explain this 1284 town record entry:

"It is 10 years since our children left"
Apparently a stained glass window in the Hamelin church of a colorfully dressed piper with children in white around him gave credence to the Pied Piper tale of luring children away.
To discover more click the wiki link:

In my opinion, the Pied Piper is an allegory for the leaders in a cult/spiritually abusive church.
The church members follow his (in my case, her) words blindly, entranced, oblivious to the world around them. All that matters is to follow the seemingly golden tone of the piper.

When I left my cult of twenty-four years (my story is :
I left behind friendships of the same amount of years. A particular friend that I worked with at the church's 'mission' for eleven years.

Through the adversity of functioning in a poorly managed work environment, this person and I had grown quite close. We could finish each other's thoughts, know what the other's opinion was on most subjects, and for the most part, work in perfect harmony for eight to sixteen hours a day.

Leaving the cult behind meant leaving all contact with this person behind as well (When one leaves the 'fellowship' behind, one is now part and parcel with Satan according to the 'pastor'). I foolishly thought that a kind note or two might lure said person out of the magnetic sway of the cult's 'pastor'.

I found out quickly that this was not the case. Said person came to my house and brusquely delivered this letter:

Dear [ my name],
A short reply to your note. [husband] and I want you and everyone to know that we are more thrilled with God and His family than we have ever been.
I boast in my God in His continued closeness and guidance through His Word. We have never had the presence of God on [ a Dade City Church] as we are experiencing Him present w/us in every way! The Word of God has never been so full of deliverance, hope, vision, and assurance that He is our God and we are His people. "Happy is the people whose God is their Lord".
Our fellowship is w/ the Father,the Son, and the Holy Ghost and His called out and chosen children. God chooses for us.
We do pray for you and trust that God's mercy be w/you.
Because of Calvary's Love,
[said person]

To the untrained eye, the letter appears a simple expression of Christian sentiments.To an experienced Piper (cult) follower, however, alarming phrases pepper the verbiage. For the sake of brevity, I will call attention to just one:

"Our fellowship is w/ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost and His called out and chosen children. God chooses for us."

This follower of a cult Pied Piper will not be dissuaded from their march to the river of the destruction of spiritual abuse. Attempts to brake them from the trance only result in a greater determination to follow the piper more vehemently because as they themselves declared:

Happy is the people whose [god] is their Lord
Sadly, I can but watch this poor battered sheep as theysacrifice their person hood. Words, tears, kindness- nothing will reach them. I stand, watching, armed with prayer. A solider half-way across the world in war-torn Iraq was instrumental in interrupting my mindless marching. I pray that some such person invades the trance of said letter writer. May God end the destructive march of the spiritually abusive Pied Pipers and let the children come home.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Letter to Ex- Pastor

This letter is one more step in my healing process. Because of all the abuse (spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical) that happened to me in my years at a Dade City church, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.Guess what triggers my PTSD episodes?You got it- church!!!!One day I hope to be healed to the point that I don’t throw up when I walk into a church.
God, grant healing to all who have suffered spiritual abuse and grant us restoration.
God, grant understanding to our abusers. Let them come to the knowledge that they are abusers. Let the abused and the abuser find healing in Your love.
God, break the circle of pain.

Dear [name withheld], pastor of a Dade City church,
It is a strain to marry a polite greeting to your name, but as we live in a polite society and I am conforming to society rules of formal opening, the greeting remains.
Enough blathering.
The point of my letter is to inform you that are a spiritual abuser.
I don’t know if your abusive tendencies arise from your past?Perhaps you were a recipient of abuse from your family or even another church leader?This I don’t know the answer to, and in actuality, it is a moot point as you are the only one who knows in certainty. Perhaps you have never heard the term “spiritual abuser”.
Let me clarify.
In the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse”, authors Johnson and Vonderen explain how spiritual abuse is parallel to family system abuse:

“In a healthy, functional family system, the parents occupy a place of authority
in order to provide need-meeting relationships, experiences, and messages to the
children…When a parent uses his or her position to force the children to perform, or uses a too-harsh standard to judge by, or uses the position of power to gratify [her] own needs…the parent has crossed the line into abuse… When a child trusts, and then is emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually used for an adult’s gratification, that is abuse.”

[name withheld], you haven’t just crossed the line into abuse- you have built a kingdom with it and into it.
In your belief that you are God’s judgment stone you have made yourself and those who support you into ‘God’s lynching crew. You have spiritually, emotionally, and physically ‘lynched’ people’s God-given right of person hood and equality. I hate to be the one to tell you, but God never advertised for a ‘judgment stone-spiritual lynching assistant’.
Perhaps you should check your hiring papers- you might find a signature on there you wouldn’t like.
Nathan told David a parable of a rich man who stole the poor man’s sheep to feed his guest.
[name withheld], you didn’t just steal your poor neighbor’s sheep to feed your guest. You, the ‘shepherd’, took your own sheep to feed yourself.
You are the woman.
I say this, not as a judge- that isn’t my place.
I say this a fellow child of Christ.
In Matthew 18: 15 Christ says,

“If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just
between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two along, so that every matter maybe established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

You have had many ‘private pointing outs’, so I am coming with two or three witnesses of this blog.
As God created you, [name withheld], a creation in His own image, He loves you. He provided you a Sacrifice that will cover every abuse you have perpetrated. Christ will take every destructive action, word, and thought you have committed on His very own Body of believers on Himself- He will cover them with His precious blood. As a fellow child of Christ, I urge you to take the Advocate God has allowed you. He will take your sentence, as He has mine, on His very Self.
If you choose to ignore this Advocate, I would remind you that, as God is mercy, He is equally justice.A dire warning for offenders is in Luke 17:1:

“…Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied about your neck than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.”

As you are so fond of saying-‘I didn’t say that, God did’.
In the name of grace of peace, I ask you to come forward, admit your abuse, and break the cycle of pain. Remember Zacchaeus? Christ came to his house and the tax collector turned from his abuse of the people.
Let Christ come to your house.
Turn from your abuse.
Repay back what you have stolen.
You often portray yourself as a ‘David’ to those who have turned from you ‘Saul’.You say they plot for your life, awaiting your ruin. I say to you that the opposite is true. Those you have abused and stolen from haven’t taken you to task for your wrongs against them. They have moved on with their lives, growing and maturing into the humans they were meant to be be, the people they would have been without your abuse.They go on bravely, facing years wasted in your service, money given to bolster your kingdom (not God’s) that you have built.You, on the other hand, pursue them with prayers for their demise, for their destructive and violent end. You see God as your ‘long arm of the law’.I would re-think the whole Saul and David scenario.
You aren’t David.
I don’t wish to descend into a ‘Jerry-Springer-ish’ orgy of blame throwing, so I will bring this letter to it’s close.I want you to know that you are an abuser. I also want you to know that there is forgiveness and grace.If you choose forgiveness, I want you to know that with about ten years of good counseling I will able to stand in the same room as you to hear the true account of your life. By then I will have gotten over my ‘house- elf’ mentality and won’t cringe or throw-up when I see your face.
And I was a good house-elf for you. I took your abuse and your mentality that I was less than human and put here on earth purposely to serve you.As you were the ‘master’ and I but the lowly house-elf, I kept your secrets. My mind and soul punished me severely when I dared think or say that you were wrong.
No more!!!!!!! I am free!
You are not material of Voldemort proportion- however; you are definitely Malfoy status. As Dobby the house-elf says in ‘Prisoner of Azcaban’:

“You are a bad, dark wizard”.
Now I am a free house-elf and I may work for when and for whom I choose.
If the ‘Harry Potter’ references offend you, I was glad to be of service one last time.
[name withheld], for your immortal soul’s sake, choose repentance.End the abuse.
Restore what you have stolen and come into the waiting arms of forgiveness,

A fellow child in Christ

This is my ‘Amos 5:24’ prayer:
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-ending

Pray God His justice will roll through a Dade City church and wash away the pain and abuse.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

House of Cards from DeTox Church Group blog

This amazing post can be found on the DeTox Church Group blog at:

One of the hardest parts about leaving a controlling environment is watching the entity still continue on in their quest for dominion. They continue to exist, for one thing, which is bad enough because we now know that they are Dominionists who believe that they are going to inherit the hard-earned money of those in the world who have no clue that this is why they working so hard for their money. If the organization itself no longer existed maybe they'd figure out they aren't here to take over the world any time soon and their building could be used for something else like a charter school or a post office.
If the Dominionists were only delusional and not so harmful to others, then I'd have no problem with them staying in business. But when they continue to exert their control using spiritual manipulation over the fine people that remain, then it's hard to keep quiet.
Some of those fine people we randomly run into at the store. I must say, some of them can be really nice, politely acting like nothing ever happened even though we can still feel the pity through their kindness since in their minds we are the crazy ones. There are others, however, that treat us like we are the untouchables, no longer acceptable, since we deserted their camp. You know the type, they either pretend they don’t see you (which actually works out best) or, if they deign to speak, it’s with a hint of condescension and distain. They are judgmental and patronizing, with a smile, in the most aggravating way. These are the types you would leave town because of to start a new life in a new city. It’s actually a clue to us that the worship-fest for the pastor family is still going on over there which means not much has changed.
If nothing has changed, why does God still allow it to still continue? Lucky for them, His forbearance has depths we can’t even fathom. I readily admit he’s been extremely patient with those of us who have left. He doesn't rush us to hurry and get over it, giving us time to heal, as he guides us toward more and more truth that helps us understand what we endured when we were there. So, God, not being a respecter of persons, must be holding out till he absolutely has to do something to stop the bad behavior over there.
Waiting for God to deal with former world is a bit like waiting to see if the bail outs help the American Economy. I guess only time will tell.
Posted by NoJoke at 10/23/2008 10:39:00 AM

Escape the Silver Chair

"Quick! I am sane now. If only I could get out of this enchanted chair, it would last. But every night they bind me, and so every night my chance is gone. But you are not enemies. I am not your prisoner. Quick! Cut these cords."
-C.S. Lewis- The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis, I find is an accurate analogy of a fundamental cult. Aslan, Lord of Narnia, sends two children, Jill and Eustace, to find the lost prince, Rillian.

After many wonderful adventurers with a fellow searcher (a delightful creature named Puddleglum) they discover the prince. Much to their horror, however, the prince is seemingly enchanted with his captor, singing her praises and vowing life-long loyalty.

At midnight, the prince's tone changes. The spell fades and he struggles against the silver chair the witch ordered him bound to. He begs the three adventurers to cut him free during his scant minutes of sanity.

Anyone who has experienced mind and emotional control can identify with the prince. There is a window of opportunity where the force of fear and oppression lose their strangle hold and the terror of continued bondage outweighs the terror of repercussions.

In my own particular window moment, there was a "adventurer" who assisted with the destruction of my 'silver chair' of a controlling cult.

It is my prayer that all those bound in terror by spiritual abuse have that 'window of opportunity' and God sends them an 'adventurer' to cut their bonds to their silver chair.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happiness is a Journey

I am writing in response to the threats received to certain EX-members of a Dade City church compound facility. First and foremost, I would like to say, there must be truth in the “Letter” for the accused to know whose home to come running too and bang down the door while screaming threats and “trying” to intimidate, while two other “yes-men” from the compound stand nearby as witnesses, how pathetic! Oh, did I mention, I too am an escapee from a Dade City church! And this is my story.

I must say, this is a very difficult situation for me because I still have family that I love dearly, still in this compound. My mother and sister are still held captive there by a force that they can not even see for themselves. They will read this and will be very upset with me, and I am sure that they will make sure it gets back to me that they are not by any means being held captive or feel they have to stay, but the truth is, I have been there and I know that there are times they feel insecure about the environment in which they exist, we all did at some point and time, but because of the deep-set mind control, you ignore those feelings and continue your mere existence in the world that has been “created” for you. So, mom and sis, I do this because I love you!

I was one of the so called “fortunate” ones that got to actually live with the pastor. This was a very weird time for me, and thankfully I have been able to block most of these memories. I knew things that would make your hair stand on all ends, from evil plots to intimidate and destroy families and individuals, to stalking members at work, home or family vacations or one day trips, to embezzling monies from the tithes and offerings as well as family savings, to tapping phones lines, and the list goes on and on. I guess the most traumatic thing for me in leaving was my children, then 10 and 7, they were the reason I lived! And the “leader” knew it and she would use this against me. It was embedded in me that if I dare left the flock, my children would be lost and their souls would burn in hell for eternity. My kids were very close to their grandmother and aunts there, and I knew that if we left they would be cut off, sure enough, to this day, they still have nothing to do with them, yes they occasionally receive a birthday card, Christmas card, etc…or maybe a dinner night out once a year, but wait did I mention, that was only if they “the church” wanted to pump them for information about those of us that had left. I still struggle to believe that my mom truly realizes what she is doing and has missed some of the most important years of their lives; they are now 18 and 15.

I was the back up piano player for church since I was about 15 until a couple of years before we left, she FORCED me to play on a regular basic, all the while, criticizing me, that I was not following the lead of God, or wait, I think she meant “her lead”, whatever! I would go home at night and cry for hours because of the mental torture, throw up, and get myself back in check for the next service, just to go through it again and again and again! My kids were in 4th and 1st grade when we left. We tried to leave in good graces, wrote a letter to the “pastor” asking that our kids be allowed to remain there for just the remainder of that year and that we were not angry with anyone, but we felt that in order for us to grow spiritually, we needed a change. That weekend, two trustees from that place, showed up at our front door, with our kids personal belongings in a black garbage bag, and we were told “May God have mercy on your souls.” Needless to say, I was absolutely petrified leaving, my kids were sure to be struck by lightning and killed by nightfall. Going from school to school, trying to find a place I felt secure with for my kids was another story in itself. Every Pastor I came upon would stop and pray for me, telling me they could see the hurt and pain in my eyes, and would lovingly try to express to me that God was a caring and loving God, not a malicious, murderous being. It took months for me to even begin to lighten up and realize I didn’t even know God! All those years, 25+, I had been serving a person, the “pastor”. I slaved for her, cleaning buildings at all hours of the night while holding down a full time job; when I prayed, I was praying in an unconscious manner, because I knew if I didn’t pray through as she thought I should, she would be down on me, criticize me, mock me, ostracize me, so I prayed in a fashion that would be pleasing for her. I played the piano, not for the Glory of God, but that I might please her, I studied the Bible, testified, not for the Glory of God, but that I might please her in all I say and do! As sick as this may sound, it is the truth!

I was not able to even have my own family over without her (the pastor) permission. She would decide for us when we could go out for dinner, family vacations, have birthday parties for my kids, or have someone over for dinner, if we did not get her permission and she found out, we would be lashed out upon from the pulpit. Many times, she would buy us things when she knew she had gone too far, which would put us back in that “feeling obligated” mode. We did not have much, money wise, and at times we could not tithe like we should, plus knowing what happened to the tithes, didn’t help matters either, but during a very hard time when we couldn’t tithe like normal, she told me to my face, I had no right to pray or ask God for anything!

One service, out of the clear blue, she accused me and another member of the band, of lustful feelings for each other, right from the pulpit, and had me move my seat to the other end of the room. My jaw dropped to the floor, I turned 20 shades of red, I had no idea that was coming! Later, a few years ago, I finally found out what that was all about, it was because we were having a picnic, a 4th of July holiday at the church, I had started blowing up a slide for the kids to play on, and because this other member came over and offered to help, and DID NOT WIPE OFF THE MOUTH PIECE AFTER ME, that we had a fling going on! Do you see how warp and demented this is! And this is just my story.

I could go on and on and tell you of things that would just floor you, but I have to stop somewhere, so here is where I will stop. Since we have left about 9 years ago, we are doing wonderful and we thank God everyday that we finally saw the light and our kids did not have to be raised in that environment. I pray that my family left there, will one day come to an understanding too that will allow them to see it for what it really is.
By Happiness is a Journey

Clarity Rediscovered

This is an informative check-up by a blogger at "Clarity Rediscovered".
Unfortunately, they are no longer allowing random visitors- you have to be invited to read.
Hopefully they will soon re-open their blog to the public.
"I decided to compose a simple, and of course, very unscientific, test which can be taken by those who have left the former church or one like it. With the help of my husband and a good friend, the questions were designed to help everyone see how differently the former church affected people during our unfortunate captivity there. If you would like to, get out a sheet of paper and see how you do.

1. How long did you attend this church? (1 point for each year)

2. Were you there every time the doors were open? (10 points)

3. How many years were you actively involved in a helps ministry? (1 point for each year in each area of helps. Example: 16 years in music=16 points, plus 5 years in the nursery=5 additional points)

4. Were you ever a department head, either paid or volunteer? (10 points)

5. Were you ever a paid staff member? (20 points for each family member on staff)

6. Were you or a family member ever on the board? (10 points)

7. Did your children grow up in this church? (20 points)

8. Did they ever have an unpleasant experience with the former pastor and/or his family members? (20 points per incident)

9. Did you or anyone in your family ever have to meet with the former pastor, his wife, or his son in order to be corrected? (20 points)

10. Did the former pastor ever make you or an immediate family member cry? (10 points per incident)

11. Were you forced to follow the dress code? (10 points)

12. Were you ever expected to choose the pastor and the church over family and friendships? (20 points)

13. Did you ever discover that you were the subject of the dinner conversation of your former pastor and his family? (10 points)

14. Did the former pastor ever pit you against staff members and/or church members, demanding information, and giving you no choice but to answer? (10 points)

15. Were you ever personally corrected from the pulpit, knowing without a doubt that he was talking about you? (20 points per incident)

16. Did you give your tithes and offerings to this church? (20 points)

17. Did you give out of obligation, and did this ever create financial difficulties for you? (20 points)

18. Were you ever made to feel inferior because you didn't have an impressive amount of material things, and because of this, then felt pressured to acquire them? (10 points)

19. Did you ever feel left out of the former pastor's clique? (10 points)

20. Did you or your family experience any kind of loss or pain that you believe you would not have experienced had you not attended the former church? (50 points)

21. Were you ever strongly advised by the former pastor (from the pulpit or in private) to make an important decision regarding your personal life or finances which ultimately proved to be wrong? (20 points per incident)

22. Did the former pastor ever lie to you by giving his word that he would do something and then not do it? (such as a Christmas bonus for 2 years in a row) (10 points per incident) 50 bonus points: Were you asked to leave this church? 50 bonus points: Were you fired from a position in this church? 50 bonus points: Was your spouse fired from a position in this church?

If you scored 150 points or above, then you have probably been adversely affected by this church. Some more than others. I am sure that there are a wide range of scores.

As you can see from all of the possible responses to the questions posed in this test, people have had largely varying degrees of involvement and experiences, leading to a countless number of different reactions. It is a very personal thing. As unique as your fingerprint. No one has the right to decide when it is time for someone to get over a hurtful situation. Some have needed an opportunity to vent, which in turn has helped others to do the same."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can't You See That I'm Dying?

I was part of a Tampa/Dade City church for twenty-four years. If I sat at this computer for a year and typed continuously, I couldn't begin to record the horror perpetrated on me and those I love.

At the same time, I have experienced God's amazing deliverance from destructive cult and the amazing concern from those who walked with me as I left behind a spiritually-abusive hell.
My history begins with my parents attending the church when I was pre-school age.
The pastor at the time tried to 'sever ties' with the movement called the 'Body'; being a young child, I didn't understand what this meant.
There was a woman in the church who was the 'youth-pastor'. I understand this was very 'unusual' for this organization of churches as women were generally repressed and thought brainless.
I was too young at the time to attend the 'youth' meetings (THANK GOD!!!)
However, the congregation would hear at the Saturday night meetings how 'amazing' the meetings were- they were so 'Spirit'-packed they would last until four in the morning! Oh, holiness was reigning!!
What they mostly consisted of was the 'youth' minister or her 'favored' young people sensing demons in the other young people and then hours of 'casting' said demons 'out'.
It is my belief that the Salem witch trials got a great revival in Tampa in the 'West' wing of the church. Had execution been permissible, these 'zealous' 'Christians' would have obliged the world in wiping out a few more heretics!
When I came out of the church, I heard from the 'young' people who had also left that the senior pastor had repeatedly warned this 'youth' minister that she was not to keep the youth over an hour. So, she told the young people that they would keep the length of the meetings a secret between themselves.
BIG RED FLAG HERE! Anytime someone wants seemingly 'normal' things kept from those in authority (i.e. when and where meetings occur, length of meetings, who was there, etc.) please do yourself a favor and spread the word- there is danger somewhere.
Time elapsed, and the senior pastor found out that he was dying of cancer. He elected a young man to take the church- believing he was circumventing this woman 'youth' minister from taking power.
There are events and happenings, layers of story that would take me days and hours to recount. If I have the time, I will come back to this part of the story in the second section.
Suffice to say, the woman took control of the church.
Almost twenty years later, the pure hell of this event still affects people's lives.
She was pastor of the church and principal of the 'church' school that now resided in Dade City, Florida.
One of the most debilitating things that stand out in my mind was when I was thirteen.
The school had a very stringent 'six-inch' rule between the sexes- of course I see the wisdom in this, but in this abusive environment the interpretation of this rule actually was:
And you can be sure the principal will be called and told what a sex-maniac you are.
A group of the girls were playing a clapping game called "Miss Mary Mack". The game consisted of children standing in a circle and taking turns clapping each other's hands in fast succession while reciting a rhyme.
(As you can tell, obviously someone pulled this game straight out of the kinkiest dating sex secrets section from Playboy)
We (the girls) were a few people short to form a circle. I called to one the boys and ask him to come help us making the circle (where my brain was I'll never know- I should have known by then what happened to those who touched boys)
I was reported to the principal.
She came to my house at 10:00 that night and told my parents that they had to come to the school for a conference.
In the office, she called me a 'female dog in heat' (a bitch) lusting after the boys and leading them into sin. She said she could see the lust demons coming out of my eyes and that I needed to be whipped to save my soul.
She took my dad's belt and whipped me, telling me to pray at the same time that God would save me from my lust.
I could hardly hold my head up for days.
And in such a manner, life carried on.
Anytime she came into the school, I would cower in my 'cubicle', pretending to be busy, so I didn't have to talk to her.
Usually this just got me in trouble: I obviously had something to 'hide'.
In 1996, a boy shot himself after having been yelled at by her.
I heard that there was a suicide note- but it was destroyed before the police could find it.
She told the church that it was "God's will" that this young man ended his life- obviously, God had "arranged' it to happen because he (the young man) would have defected from the church and "God saved him from this fate".
As I sit here and write this I can hardly keep from screaming. To blame this tragedy on a loving, caring Creator makes me hope she burns in hell for eternity.
There, I finally said it. My prayer is that God has mercy on her as He had on me; and in His mercy which is equally justice I hope that she finds out what the Scripture means about it being better to tie a millstone about one's self than to offend a little one.
I have heard from many other people, some of them still in their teens, that suicide was often the solution that seemed the easiest.
For about a year, it seemed the easiest solution to me, also.
There comes a place and time when you feel so 'dead' after all the yelling, lies, and rejection that it seems a good idea to just make it true.
If you are reading this and you feel that you would be at 'peace' if you could 'end' it all- PLEASE DON'T! THERE IS HOPE! Talk to a councilor, a real pastor, family member, somebody, anybody!
You are loved by God! You are a special creation- this world needs you in it- so, please, GET HELP! YOU ARE WORTH IT!
When my family of ex-church members get together and talk over all our experiences, we all agree on one thing: Thank God there wasn’t sexual abuse.
As I read back through all the accounts of sufferers, I mourn for those who were victimized that way. May God grant them justice and peace.
Today I opened the Bible I had used in the Dade City church days- in it were some ‘sermon’ notes I had scribbled during services.
As I sat by one of the ‘favored’ people, I had to pretend to scribble vigorously every fascinating, ‘God-inspired’ word out of her mouth, or be ratted on, then yelled at, etc.
One of the things I managed to scribble in between the words of "Worldly, Worldly thoughts and desires!" was this: "It will be a cold day in Hell before I testify again!"
I actually was able to laugh about it- thank God the absurdity of the situation overrode the pain!
I had been accused of being prideful because of quoting Lucado.
She had become so twisted that in the week before I left, she told the church that there was no need of reading the Bible, everyone just needed to listen to, and I quote, "The Word of God over the pulpit".
There was also the times when God would "reveal" things about different members divinely to her.
The actual trick to it all wasn’t all that mystical: she had her home and the church phone tapped.
I found out because I heard two of the young women (who lived at her house) talking together about how you should be careful about what you said on the church phone. Another friend found a tape in the church storage room in which the pastor ranted on and on about different members of the church.
I have also heard that different members of the church were sent to spy on each other to see if anyone had a TV hidden in their house. Only the pastor was allowed to have one- the flock didn’t have enough moral control to be responsible viewers!
And then there were the services where the "Dreams" were revealed!
She would have dreams about different members- in which ‘God’ revealed the member’s heart to her.
My heart was full of leprosy- because I was of the --- family.
I knew I was in for a bad time when she would glare at me from her seat behind the pulpit. She would stare at you in the most hateful way, all the while moving her lips. You knew she was ‘praying out’ the evil spirits that had taken residence in your soul.
And there were also the prayer meetings in which she asked God to bring an 'end' to those who had defected from the church.
I don't know what it sounds like to you, but to my understanding, she was asking God to kill them because they had the gall to disagree with her.
And then there was the evil sexuality of the flock!
As much as the woman thought about sex, she should have owned an adult store- maybe she could have put all that thought time to use.
I remember one time a family member and myself were being berated in her office for talking to a ‘rebellious’ member. In the middle of her tirade, she brought up the fact that one of her ‘favored’ members could no longer have sex with his wife because of medicine- induced
I could never figure out what his impotency and talking to rebellious church members had to do with each other- like I even cared about someone else’s sex life. It was none of my business, and more importantly, none of hers.
She accused everybody of lust, heterosexual and homosexual.
If all her accusations were true, that church was the biggest group of lustful, wife-swapping, incestuous pedophiles under one roof.
During song service, she would walk up to different young people and say she saw ‘lust demons’ coming out of their eyes. Therefore, the poor humiliated people had to be ‘prayed’ through the clutch of their evil and there had better be some ‘coughing up’ of some demons into napkins if you ever wanted to get out of church that night.
As she was morally responsible for all these young lives, it was up to her to pick the young people’s mates for them. And you better take her choice and be grateful for it!
Thank God the young man she ‘picked’ for me fought her decision. There were never two more incompatible people on the face of this earth- we would have divorced in a year.
Young people were discouraged from pursuing college- Christ was coming back in the next year or the year after that and there just wasn’t time for a degree!
What there was time for was cleaning her five, six, seven, or even more buildings, all the while maintaining a regular forty hour job.
I remember at one time when she had seven offices that had to be cleaned bi-weekly. These buildings were up to forty miles apart and had to be cleaned in the same day.
To my knowledge, no one was ever paid a regular salary for doing this work.
Oh, and did I mention that she would ‘help-out’ only about ten times a year?
I would love to send her a bill for fifteen years of hard work.
Actually, I would love to see her have to do backbreaking work for someone else at no pay.
Let me not forget those poor souls who did ‘God’s work’ in the church-school. I really don’t know how it (the school) is still up and running. There are so many rules and laws being broken that surely some state or federal office is aware of it somewhere.
What makes me most infuriated, however, is the mental and emotional torture the older students are put through.
I’m not talking about church member older students, but rather NON-member students.
I have heard of two girls (thirteen and fifteen) who were pulled into the office and told to stop their lesbian activities.
Another boy was taken aside during a competition trip and asked point blank if he and another male student had had sex because the door was partially closed between their room and the supervisor’s room.
Two brothers were also made to change rooms because they supposedly were also engaging in bedroom activities.
I could go on and on, for a decade, and not tell every nasty, horrific thing that happened.
Since that is not my purpose in recounting all these incidents, I won’t try.
My purpose is to speak the truth, for as the Bible says, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free".
That is my hope- that all members of this Dade City church or any other spiritually abusive church will be free of the lies and horrors that have been perpetrated on them, or that they have perpetrated on others.

As a family member of mine put it, "No one walks away from a situation like that without guilt. We all came away from the church with cookie crumbs on our faces’".
If you are a member of a controlling church reading this, know that there is God and life away from the cult you are trapped in.
There are arms of forgiveness waiting to help you down the path of freedom and into the arms of the true God- not the god that a crazed narcissistic woman has dreamed up.
Find help!
Yes, there is life after that church.
I hope there will be justice, also.
As it says in Amos 5:24, "But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream".
God knows and he cares.
As I and others have said before-
"There is life after a controlling church."
I was very, incredibly blest in that I had a group of family and friends waiting for me when I came out of the church.

I also had the help of a wonderful psychiatrist.
He talked to my whole family for over three hours.
As we told him as much of our story as we could in the space of three hours, he told us that, based on our information, the pastor most likely has an Antisocial Personality Disorder. As I read over the many testimonies on this site, I began to wonder if that was a disorder in many of the other leaders.
Or was it just that, as in many cults, the congregation took on the cult leader’s personality.
As I read over the symptoms of antisocial behavioral characteristics, it was as if I was reading about most of the church: i.e.
1. Refuses to meld to accepted common social behaviors- total disregard to what is "lawful" and "law-abiding". (Everything the pastor says is "right" and "God’s Word". Church members have lied, cheated, renounced family because it was "God’s will".
2. No remorse when others are injured by one’s actions. (It was ‘God’s will’ that a young man committed suicide.)
3. Repeated lying perfected methods of deceitfulness. (The pastor would take other people’s stories and make them her own. When confronting my family member about a letter their ‘defected’ sibling sent them, she lied and said "God had revealed it to her in a dream". He hadn’t- I had told her of it the day before.
As I mentioned before, the congregation is eerily ‘taking on’ these behaviors- they have become their own twisted version of this pastor.
As I am on my journey of healing and learning to live anew, I find myself looking back over the progress of seven months.
When I first left the cult, I was not emotionally healthy. In fact, I was an absolute wreck mentally, emotionally, and most likely physically as well.
I would have panic attacks in the new wonderful church I was attending.
I had thought that if I could just leave, just get away from the horrific situation- all would well all at once.
Now, don’t misunderstand me- I was immediately relieved from the abuse.
When the abuse left, however, a healing process had to take its place.
A healing process that included a rage I hadn’t thought I was capable of, as well as mourning for the ‘lost’ years of exclusively doing a human’s will, not God’s.
I believe, and will continue to put my trust in Romans 8:28- "…All things work together for GOOD to those who love HIM…"
He promises ALL THINGS- all the rejection, rage, hurt… and the list goes on forever.
When I look back on twenty-four years of mental torture, I think of pain and rejection. As I look back farther and deeper, however, I also think of a few miraculous facts:
1. I have no family at all left in that cult.
2. God always, always let me know somehow, someway that He loved me.
3. There was always someone there when I needed them most. There are two I remember with all the gratitude in my heart: Scott, who, as I cleaned the business he worked at, would tell me how special and beautiful I was. After living in the desert of total rejection all week-and then to come in to see someone smile at you and mean it, and give you a brotherly hug when you looked down- it was like an amazing rainstorm of hope and joy drenching your soul. I hope that somewhere, somehow, Scott will know that he helped keep a despairing soul from ending it all.

God bless you, Scott.

Then there was Randy, who while on active duty in Iraq, e-mailed me hope and strong encouragement, till I had the strength to leave the terror behind.
You are the brother of my soul, Randy. If God were to bless you a third of what you blessed me, the world could not contain it. You were the hands of Christ to my life.
Behold what God has done! It is marvelous to my eyes!"

Now I Thrive...

Where does a person begin to tell about the mental abuse? I’ll just tell the truth.
Friday night youth meetings did last for hours - and, [name with held] did in fact tell us not to let the Pastor know how long she kept us in youth meeting. These meetings were not times of fellowship, sharing or “God moving,” but more {name with held] yelling at us and chewing us out, telling us how we were not measuring up to God’s standards (as she defined them). I remember reading my Bible on my own, and coming to a saving knowledge and a loving relationship with Jesus during this time, understanding my life’s purpose to become more and more Christ-like. This was definitely not the message being preached on Friday nights. It was made clear to all of us that no matter what we did, we would never be good enough – we would always be a disappointment to God, unless we surrendered our lives to her direction, without question. This was also the time [name with held] started to exert control over behavior. We were shown how to shun kids that didn’t meet her expectations, and other social pressures were brought to bear. Many of those kids grew up to be very good at shunning at her command.

Without going into all the gruesome details, [name with held] continued to “work” with the youth. When the Pastor passed away from an illness in the late 80’s, she began to work to take control over the church, undermining the successor the Pastor had chosen. By about 1990, [name with held] had become head pastor, and church began its dissent into becoming a cult. Once she had control of the church, she began working on individuals.

After high school, my life became more and more enveloped by the “needs” of the church, and[name with held]. By 1990, there was room for nothing else. My life consisted of working a full time job, attending church services, prayer meetings, etc, 4 days a week (twice on Sunday), working for a cleaning company 2-3 times/week for which no one was paid except [name with held] (she owned the company, but did not work there), with stories about what a hard worker she was as a young person (something we later found out was greatly exaggerated), we were to do maintenance on the church, and prepare for numerous “special” events (Christmas, graduation, etc.) Not to mention keeping the church clean. What little time there was for social time, we did what [name with held] wanted, when she wanted. This went on for 15 years.

There were many just truly awful times – most originating from ideas, ambitions and dreams I had for my life that were not in line with what [name with held] thought I should do or be. I very much wanted to live within my means, but[name with held] was very big on trips, gifts, etc. Whether I, or she, had the money for these things was of little consequence to her. One time she paid my share of a trip to Washington D.C., where I had to share one hotel room with six other girls. A trip I was MADE to go on. Then I was chewed out for charging (I didn’t have the money) a gift for my boss because they covered for me while I was gone. If you received gifts from her, they had strings attached. One time I remember wanting to be out of the doghouse so bad I took cash out on a credit card to give her spending money. Never did she say “Can you afford this?” Another time I bought her ticket to Denver. So many people in the church came to financial ruin, many being forced into bankruptcy, just trying to buy their way out of her wrath…the crazy thing it only fed the ego that so dominates that controlling behavior. Not only that time but, many other times I “couldn’t afford it.” It’s like an unwritten law that if you want a new dress, you could have one IF you bought her one too. Oh, and by the way a great number of people have had to file some sort of bankruptcy. In retrospect, I should have known I was never going to please her, because I would never completely “sell out” to her. One desire I had ever since I was a young woman was to have a husband and a family….this was definitely not in [name with held] plans for my life (a husband and family means less focus on her)

I remember in a Tuesday night prayer meeting, we were in a circle, all of a sudden she grabbed my arms and started to shake me trying to cast “nasty lustful” spirits out of me. Another incident happened when I was younger (where to this day I feel I was set up for), one of the guys was just hired at a shop and he wanted to show me the building along with another young man—he was a friend, so I got into the car! Oh, how could I have been so bad! Well, I paid! The door to hell was wide open! I was as nasty as a prostitute and should be shunned, rebuked and have weeks of youth meetings spent on casting out of the evil in my putrefied heart. BUT, I have to testify at this moment. In that season of my young life, I (in my tiny room at my Father’s house) found myself on my knees crying out from the depths of my soul for God to take the natural desire for a family of my own away if it was ungodly. THE MOST AMAZING THING HAPPENED! God didn’t. Instead He gave me a dream and an Angel visitation! It’s been about 22 years ago, but the visit and dream was like yesterday. No one could take that from me. God loved me and (although ending my life at times seemed the only answer) I loved Him. As years past, I was kept (as were others) so busy (it was assumed) I wouldn’t have time to think for myself yet the years past and the control grew tighter. Every time it was time to go to church my stomach would ache. I knew for the next 2 to 3 hours we would sit, stand, worship and beg to her heart’s content. I know everybody loved it when she was out of town because they were relaxed and church was short and everyone was in a good mood, and I mean even the ones who lived in her house. Don’t even start thinking about what goes on in the house. There’s not enough time to touch on that subject.

Early on my father (a super dad) disagreed with [name with held] and she told me to stay away from and move out because he was under a spirit. Yeah! He had the right spirit. Ohhhhh, the all nighters. Getting ready for Christmas and graduation was always a nightmare! First I go to my job, then cleaning the buildings then cleaning at church. Scrubbing and stripping the flooring, painting (I was not a painter-never was good enough to earn that one) Toilets! Now that’s what this “Non-soul seller” could do well. It has been 11 years since I “ran away” from GAC. What I found was God has LOTS of wonderful people! Real people, smart, (so smart it would blow your mind) godly people who really do the real work for Him. I’m not in the doghouse at church; my pastors are both creative and very educated. We have many professional people who go on mission trips and work in soup kitchens. Education is not our enemy, it’s one way God can free us. People can be freed. Therapy is OK.

I am living my dream. I am so happy. Married to the most wonderful Godly man. He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. We get to do things that really make a difference in this world. Like, host home Bible studies (which we actually study the Bible—something [name with held] would start and never really do), feed the poor, and help widows. We pray together. And best of all, we have the pleasure of sharing the True Gospel. Oh, I still have a moment now and then where an association will try to raise its ugly head but, being a part of the solid Bible believing Church and with my husband’s support (who is the head of our home, as the Christian Men should be) I am able to keep the past where it belongs. No longer a part of a horrid cult! I am not just in survival mode—no! I Thrive!

by Real love in Christ.

“Spiritual Abuse Hidden in Plain Sight”

Jim Jones in Guyana: gruesome images of 931 rotting corpses gunned down or felled by cyanide spiked Flavor-Aid cocktail.
David Koresh in Waco, Texas: a holocaust of a charred compound and sixty-seven victims, twenty-one of them being children.
Heaven’s Gate and the latest cult scandal of FDLS compound in Texas.

Perhaps a ‘Brittany Spear’ question must be asked of organized religion: what cult flagrancy could possibly happen next?

I submit that the ‘next’ is and has been happening for decades.

The four examples presented in the first paragraph bore the same symptoms: members confined in a compound setting.

Essentially, is this not the photo identification of a cult: Aberrant clothing, social and sexual behavior, and RESTRICTION OF MOBILITY?

Exhaustive study of resources, communication with abuse victims, and my own veritable abuse span exceeding two decades have conveyed to me an inescapable truth.
The cult, the spiritual abuse that thrives in the church next door, down the road, i.e. NOT IN A COMPOUND is as lethal, as fatal as the cult of restricted mobility.

To the untrained eye, the spiritually abused church member’s freedom and autonomy is passable. The dress code is perhaps inhibiting and the relentless church attendance might be a little excessive. “But”, thinks the unaware observer, “they have their own house which is not on church property and a car of their own AND THEY COME AND GO AS THEY PLEASE.”

It is in this that the spiritually abused are dammed and double dammed. As long as the abused member has an ‘outside’ job, a car, money of their own, they seemingly cannot fall into the salvageable category of a cult.

Abused spouses instantly would call this assumption ‘a load of bull’.
Captivity of the mind is in every way debilitating as restricted mobility.

I have lived on both sides of the abuse/freedom from abuse ‘coin’. On the abuse side, the pastor of a Dade City church held absolute authority. I didn’t go out of town, go to a friend’s house, or go on dates without her permission. On the freedom side, I rejoice at the empowerment of the every day decisions I make on MY VERY OWN- no permission phone call required!

Unless you have been the victim of spiritual abuse, you can never fully understand the devastating fear that surges over the abused when the abuser walks into the room.

I vividly remember the first instance I was aware that I had been abused. An “Are You a Victim of Abuse” sign hung over the sink where I was washing my hands. As I read over the bulleted warning traits, I thought, “My God, I’ve been abused”. I almost fell onto the floor I was so shocked. I had lived most of my life in an abusive environment. To me, abuse was normal.

In ‘Toxic Churches’, Marc Dupont says in regards to the Pharisees: “These abusive leaders believed they were above the law and had a legal license from God Almighty to judge, harm and shame anyone who tampered with their authority and power.” Dupont goes on to quote Pastor Ken Blue’s summarized list of warning signs of a spiritual abusive environment:
1. Abusive leaders base their spiritual authority on their positions or their office rather than on their service to the group…
(For me this meant being totally available and totally transparent to the pastor. Availability included serving on her cleaning crew. She had an upwards of five buildings that church members cleaned on a volunteer basis. All proceeds went to her. Total transparency meant just that- she knew of your doctor visits, your financial troubles, etc.)

2. Leaders in shame-based churches often say one thing and do another.
3. They manipulate people by making them feel guilty for not measuring up spiritually…You know that you are in an abusive church if the loads just keep getting heavier.
4. Abusive leaders are preoccupied with looking good… They stifle any criticism that puts them in a bad light.
5. …They promote a class system with themselves at the top.
6. Their communication is not straight. Their speech becomes especially vague and confusing when they are defending themselves.

Yes, in a Dade City church I had mobility of body. My emotions and mind, however, were wound tight with fear. What if I made the pastor angry with any thing I said or did? She had direct access to God- She could decide if I burned in hell or not.

I lived in terror as confining as the Koresh compound. My god was my pastor and she WASN’T unchangeable with everlasting love. Just as I thought I had all her rules down to a science, she would set new higher boundaries. This was ‘God’s refining process’. He required much of us because much had been given us.

Ha! Given us, my south end! As Wanda Mason so aptly put it on her site, “I suffered for my cult!” It was the pastor who was given much, and in the strange equation of spiritual abuse, it was she of who the least was required!

I find it particularly nauseating that spiritual abuse apes spouse abuse. For as followers of Christ, isn’t our relationship with Him exemplified as a marital one? “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…”. In the healthy marriage, both partners strive to meet the other’s needs. Giving, sharing, standing on equal ground of mutual respect is meat and drink of the relationship. In an abusive marriage, the dominant spouse fulfills their own needs with and in the control of the other spouse. So it is with abusive churches: No matter what the cost the dominant leadership will have their needs fulfilled.

To all spiritually abused: Know the truth. It will set you free.

Notes: Quotes from Toxic Churches pg. 170-171