Category Archives: Religion’s Cell Articles

Unfairly Judging Others is Dangerous

John 7:24 – Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

judging4One of the areas of life where many people fail is in judging others fairly. In today’s society, we judge people based on whether or not they agree with us.  If a person does not agree with us, the tendency is to attach labels to them and talk bad about them any time their name is brought up in a conversation.  Some will even go a step further and orchestrate situations that will further make the target of their slander, appear as they say.  I have even watched many religious zealots twist words and scripture to their viewpoint to “prove” themselves “right” and their opponents wrong in order to incite other believers to violence against those who disagree with them.  Sadly, there may be agreement in many areas, but one area of disagreement can make any individual become an enemy. Judging others unfairly leads to division. Division leads to fighting; and, fighting can lead to war.  The two main areas where this type of unfair judgment is exercised is in religion and politics. Within these two areas of society, it is nothing to bash or harm those who disagree; not only this, but publicly!

What we fail to realize is that by doing so, we are practicing slander and hate against our neighbor. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  In my mind, anyone who steps on someone else to elevate themselves, their opinion, or belief, is not to be trusted no matter who they are; no matter their credentials. If they will do it to others, they will do it to you as soon as you are in disagreement with them or their beliefs.  There is a way to disagree with a person and allow them to retain their integrity and character without trying to attack and destroy it.  Everyone should read my article, “Handling Opposing Beliefs.”

unfairly judgingAny time we tear another down because of differences, we are propagating hate, not love, toward our neighbor. This is the same neighbor that God commands us to love and to do good to! Any time we use our words to attack another because of disagreement, it shows the true lack of character of the individual voicing the slander. That person has some more growing to do. It does not make that person a “bad” person. It just means they need to grow more.  However, we must not be ignorant of the fact that a person who does such things can eventually become dangerous because they could get to a point where they stop at nothing to destroy the one whom they oppose. This holds true in religion and politics.

Has it ever occurred to any of us that just maybe the person we think so negatively about may have some good traits or qualities about them that are admirable? Could there even be some really fantastic accomplishments done by the one in whom we judge unfairly? What have they endured to get to where they are today?  judging2Could these ones we oppose be moral, upright, God-fearing men and women who have great marriages and families, but along the way, made a mistake or two?

It’s time to stop the hate and slander and remember the good of the individual. It’s time to let go of pride and arrogance and humble ourselves enough to be willing to consider an opposing view for the good it may contain, or, the truths it may reveal. We should not be afraid of hearing truth just because it is opposite of what we have been taught to believe. Be slow to judgment, quick to hear, slow to act.

When we spread slander and attach labels to people, we are automatically telling the world they are less than; they are worthless; they are to be opposed; labelsthey are to be silenced. I see cyberspace filled with labels such as: haters, bashers, feminists, Democrat, Republican, Atheist, Gay, conservative, liberal, fat, ugly, liar, etc.  PEOPLE are not the labels we attach to them. People are all human beings with feelings. We all have good and bad qualities. We are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. We are not the labels attached to us in order to divide us and bring harm upon us. Labels divide! Men and women are using labels to divide and/or destroy the ones they’ve attached labels to, whether they realize it or not.

In religion:

  • I see religious leaders slandering, discrediting, and attaching labels to abuse victims.
  • I see religious leaders asserting their beliefs as the only truth and attacking publicly, those who present a differing truth or belief. One religious faction is actually murdering their opposition (ISIS)!
  • I see religious followers physically attacking, stalking, harassing, and slandering sexual assault victims who step forward to the police.
  • I see religious followers entering into chat rooms, forums, and private facebook groups to spew their slander in order to win more people to their cause and to motivate others to attack the same person(s) they oppose.

ErhmanMany have become too arrogant to search out the truth about what they have been taught to believe. Many religious people do not realize scriptures have been changed to suit a particular faction’s agenda and belief. The thought of which, is abhorrent; so it falls on deaf ears. My blog is full of Greek and Hebrew Scholar’s findings on scripture corruption that is fully ignored in order to believe the ones who “believe as they do!” “They” are the experts, not the ones I quote who truly are.  I say this with much sorrow and disappointment.

Sadly, the desired outcome is to destroy the target in every instance. It would be wise to beware of those that spew negative and hateful comments about others, whether publicly or privately. Think twice about acting on what they tell you against another human being even if they quote scripture to do so. Many innocent people have been destroyed by such conduct and we will all have to give an account to God for it.

In Politics:

  • I see Republican and Democrats alike advertising their slander and hate on television and the internet against their opponents running for office.
  • I see Republican and Democratic followers alike fighting and arguing amongst each other.
  • I see Republican and Democratic followers looking to be offended at every opportunity so they can rail on some poor unsuspecting soul for sharing some article that had a political statement in it they did not notice.
  • I see a country divided by political faction.

politicalThe level of anger and emotion across this country is at an all time high. The deceitfulness, the slander, and the division taking place in our country is all due to unfair judgment of others; and even worse, it’s due to an insatiable appetite for control of others, money, and power!  There are agendas out there. Everyone seems to have one. If we don’t get rid of the agendas and change our thinking in order to look out for the common good, our country is doomed. It will become a hotbed of tyranny and deception in all areas of society. The ones who will suffer as a result will be the weak and vulnerable – the aged, the disabled, women, and children.

In order to judge fairly, we must be willing to remove politics and religion from the equation. Politics and religion cause war. Politics and religion imprison.  Politics and religion divide. Politics and religion distort truth.  Only then, can judgment be based on facts and fairness.  It’s time for Americans to get outside of themselves and realize that we are all human. We all do good. We all do bad. The problem lies in our focus. Let’s stop focusing on the negative and work on building upon the good! God calls it “edifying” our neighbor.  Each individual has within themselves the ability to do good. When that ability is stifled through deception and influence, the outcome is negative and the impact, far reaching.

judging0We should consistently make an effort to acknowledge positive traits in those we disagree with and develop a habit of not mentioning anything negative, attacking, or slanderous in the same sentence. Too often, I hear a positive comment followed up with at least half a dozen or more negative comments! THAT is not how we as human beings should be conducting ourselves. If more people would force themselves to acknowledge the good and then shut their mouths, we would not see much of the division we currently see in society. Just because you don’t like someone does not give you the right to broadcast their weaknesses, faults and other things you don’t like about them. As difficult as this may sound, we must always keep in mind the good things done by those we disagree with or oppose –  even if you know of negative things they’ve done.  If we don’t, we will dehumanize them.  Dehumanization leads to abuse, and possibly the death of, the individual. Currently, ISIS has dehumanized Christians. They can be murdered, tortured, and raped because they do not agree with Islamic belief! Recently, a man was beheaded by a Christian in Oklahoma because he was practicing witchcraft and the killer disagreed with him doing that! Unfairly judging others can incite people to violence and murder of those who are dehumanized.

Over the last five years I have seen the public slander, humiliation, and character assassination of people by religious zealots who do not even know the people they are destroying! How can this be? They are basing their actions on the “opinions” of others who believe as they do and/or, in many cases, corrupted or twisted theological teachings.  unfairly judging2This is why it is imperative that we “park” opinions about others, publicly.  How foolish to destroy people you don’t even personally know just because you disagree with their viewpoint, religious belief, or lifestyle! This is the biggest problem in America right now.  Everyone is sitting in the “Judgment Seat” exercising judgment based on false assumptions, other’s opinions, religious belief, political belief, etc. People are being dehumanized all around us and attacked and destroyed.

If you disagree with someone or do not like them, keep your mouth shut about them! Anything you say will not be fair. If their name comes up in a conversation, hold your tongue and your opinion! No one can see the “good” in those they oppose. Keeping the mouth shut and parking one’s opinion is for the common good as well as the good of the person disliked. Parking one’s opinion has to be practiced. It is not an easy thing to do in today’s culture where everyone believes they have a right to their opinion, even if it is hateful, destructive, and attacking. The truth is this: God commands us to judge fairly. When you are emotional, it is very difficult to judge or speak fairly; especially, if you are in disagreement with someone.  The best position to take in a disagreement is this: whatever you are going to say should be fair, gracious, and kindly stated while allowing the opponent to retain integrity and save face. It should not be loaded or anger inducing. It should not “point” the hearer into a place of hostile judgment or action.

There is so much more I could say on this topic of judging others unfairly. It is because of this practice that the weak and vulnerable suffer. It is because of this tactic, our country is divided. It is because of this tactic, thousands suffer loss. Let’s stop judging others and judge ourselves instead. If we all changed ourselves for the better, America could be a great nation again.  As long as our nation is divided, it cannot be great. It is only through unity we can remain strong. Division allows the enemy to enter in and destroy.

The REAL change begins with each of us changing our attitudes and perspectives, exercising HUMILITY with those we disagree with, and making a conscious effort to use words that allow our opponents to retain their integrity. The real hope and change for America is within ourselves, not the government, not religion. If we change ourselves, America changes.

We are Not Entitled to Anything

We are not Entitled to Anything

entitlement picOne of the prevailing attitudes in society today is the attitude of “entitlement.” Countless multitudes of people believe that they are “owed” or “deserve” things based on who they are or what they have done.  As an adult, I often find myself saying, “I deserve better than what has been handed me.” Sometimes, I have even felt I deserved the love and respect of my children as their parent. However, I no longer feel that I am owed or deserve better in life; nor do I feel that I deserve, or am owed, my children’s love or respect. Let me explain.

Today’s culture has instilled a mindset of entitlement here in the U.S. Advertisers are very adept at telling us what we deserve. We are taught that because of ______, we deserve _____.  You can fill in the blanks.  However, this is not true. As hard as it may be for you to hear this, no one is entitled to, or deserves, anything.

By way of example, I will use my relationship with my husband to show you how destructive this attitude can be.

My husband worked very hard for his employers. As a matter of fact, he worked on average about 70 hours per week, year in and year out, all our married lives. There were countless weeks where he exceeded that 70 hours and he continually brought his work home and let it interrupt “our time” together. He has always had a fantastic work ethic and has even instilled the same work ethic in our children.  This said, when he did have any amount of time with me at home, he felt he “deserved” to be catered to and waited on by me for whatever he wanted. He didn’t feel he needed to do any work at home.  After all, because he worked so hard at his job, he felt he was “entitled” to not fix things around the house or help me with anything at all!  He made me feel like a servant in my own home when he was off!   If I did not do what he wanted, then he would get angry at me and we would end up in a fight. He felt “entitled” to do nothing and be catered to.

While he was working, I was taking care of the kids, the pets, the house, the yard, the finances, the grocery shopping, kids activities, church responsibilities, etc. My days were just as full as his with stuff to get done every day – and night, if the kids were sick! He expected me to work a minimum of 8 hrs a day every day and if I didn’t, he would get angry.  I felt I deserved and was “entitled” to be treated better than a hired servant and, I felt I deserved to have more of his time too!

While my husband was “expecting” certain things from me, I was “expecting” certain things from him. When either of us did not get what we expected, it caused us to get angry and argue. This “I deserve and am entitled to” attitude was further exacerbated by the teachings of the churches we served in. The women were degraded to nothing more than servants to their husbands and the men ate it up! They felt entitled to a sex slave, a servant, a cook, a housekeeper, a bookkeeper, a teacher to the kids, and so much more! This led to lots of arguments, it led to abuses. Eventually, it almost led us to divorce! Because we both felt we were “entitled” to be treated a certain way, we would get angry when we weren’t.

As a result, our marriage began to crumble.  When our marriage began to fall apart and my husband realized he was about to lose me, he had a change of heart and attitude. My husband suddenly realized that he did not “deserve” anything from me! He stopped taking me for granted and began to treat me with genuine love and compassion without expecting anything in return. Did he “want” my love and companionship? Yes. But he was no longer demanding it!  He would tell me, “Honey, I love you so much. I don’t deserve your love, or you. But if you choose to love me, I will be the happiest man alive.” His change in attitude and actions toward me opened my eyes to my expectations of him and helped me to see that I needed to eliminate any expectations in my mind!

As a result of letting go of what we each felt “we deserved,” our relationship developed into a respectful, caring and loving relationship that transcended anything we had ever experienced before in our marriage.

The “we want” mentality, instead of “I demand,” led to each of us appreciating the little and big things that each of us did for each other on a daily basis. When you expect and don’t get, it causes anger and resentment; or worse, bitterness! When you want something and don’t get it, it just causes disappointment. Disappointment is much easier to deal with than anger and bitterness! My husband does not “owe” me his love. Do I want his love? Yes. Because I want his love, I treat him with loving care and do not get angry because he works all the time. I also go out of my way to please him and he does the same for me.  Because he wants my love, he doesn’t expect me to wait on him like a servant and instead, pitches in on his off days to do what I need help with and, even give me a break!  It’s okay to want things, but we have no right to demand, expect, or feel entitled to anything. It’s okay to want better; but it’s not right to feel entitled to better.  Am I making sense here? The difference in attitude is a huge difference! It determines how we act and react toward others.

When we feel “entitled,” we do not appreciate what we have and, we become angry, resentful, and bitter toward others when they do not meet our expectations of what we think we deserve. It also causes us to take for granted what we do have and what we do have then becomes not good enough.  When we want something, and do not get it, we are simply disappointed and move on to something else.

We are not entitled to anything. Entitlement produces anger, resentment and bitterness. It is a kiss of death to a relationship. If you want a sure path to destruction, just believe you are entitled to something. Entitlement thinking will cause people to neglect the emotional and physcial needs of others while focusing entirely on themselves and their wants and needs.  This is selfishness personified!  The sooner we let go of this mentality, the sooner life becomes new and relationships blossom.

The Most Ignored Commandment

Lev19_15The Most Ignored Commandment

“in justice shall you judge your fellow man” (Lev. 19:15 – Heb) Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. (Lev. 19:15- KJV) You must do no injustice in a case, neither showing partiality to the poor nor deferring to the powerful, but judging your fellow fairly (Lev. 19:15 – AAT)

Many read this commandment and automatically assume it only applies to magistrates. In making this assumption, people fail to realize this commandment requires everyone to be fair in their judgment of others. There is no room for prejudice within the scope of this command. Everyone, no matter their economic status, their educational background, their sex, or their religion, must be treated equally and fairly. In today’s society, such a thing as fair treatment has been lost in the attempt for control, power, or revenge.

In order to be fair, we are not allowed to listen to the side of one person without the other person being present. It is wrong to talk about someone to people and make them look bad when they are not there to defend themselves.

“You shall not go about spreading slander among your kinsmen; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake . . . (Lev. 19:16 – NAB) “Don’t gossip. Don’t falsely accuse your neighbor of some crime . . . (Lev. 19:16 – Tay) “Do not whisper calumnies in the public ear, and swear away thy neighbor’s life . . . (Lev. 19:16 Knox)

We are also not allowed to judge a person based on the one-sided information. Sadly, most people today, ignore this command regarding justice. Instead, what we find are countless individuals who are harsh and unfair. While this is true in all of society, I have found this especially true among God’s people and this should not be so. Let me explain.

There are many of God’s people (doesn’t matter the religious affiliation) who have a higher regard for their own character than of those they judge. Let that statement sink in for a moment. Not only do people regard their own character above others, but many also believe religiosity determines character.  Religiosity does not establish character! Yet, religious people have a belief that the non-religious lack character and/or ethics.  This is very sad.

Also, many religious people judge themselves based on their good intentions and others by their actions. For example, if we don’t visit a friend or relative in the hospital, we usually rationalize in our mind that it’s okay. After all, I “wanted to go visit them, but didn’t have the time.” My intentions were good! Yet, when we are in the hospital and others don’t visit us, we don’t spend the time rationalizing excuses for the non-visitors. Instead, we judge them by their actions and become offended because they did not take the time to visit us.

Many people also judge themselves by their intentions when their actions are bad. If they are being rude, callous, hateful, condescending, hurtful, etc., they rationalize in their mind that their behavior is justified because they are doing so in righteous anger on God’s behalf toward the offending soul. Hurting and/or judging others because they don’t believe or act like you is wrong. Hurting others because they sin differently than you is also wrong. Just because your intentions are good, does not justify unethical treatment and bad attitude toward others.

Have you ever been wronged by a person who saw nothing hurtful about their attitude or behavior toward you? I have – too many times to count. And, sadly, I have dished out the same and rationalized in my mind the deplorable attitude I meted out. Oh, how I wish I could go back and retract my words!

When I was in the fundamentalist Baptist religion, we were taught by example how to mete out judgment and condemnation to the point that we even dished it out upon those who were dealing with tragedy in their lives. Why would we do such a thing? Because we were taught, for non-believers, that tragedy was God’s hand of judgment for sin in their life. This belief affected our thoughts and behaviors toward that individual and caused us to judge them unfairly. I say this with much sadness. We condemned and judged those who did not believe or act as we did while being compassionate and understanding toward those who DID believe and act as we did. We had a double standard! The same tragedy on an unbeliever was dealt with differently than that of a believer! Thus, we stood guilty of breaking God’s commandments.   And to top it off, we had no facts to base our assumptions on, only the “word” of our religious leaders. Sadly, this realization brings me much sorrow as I reflect on the negative talk many of my preachers said about so many good people. As a result of this gossip, these precious people were shunned and the attitudes of the rest of their church family toward them inflicted much hurt. To the hurting, this is secondary abuse and many do not realize it.

How sad when we hurt the people we love most and rationalize our behavior; and, when we are confronted by our harsh treatment, we make excuses. What is even sadder is when we hurt the already hurting by violating this commandment; even worse, is when we do psychological and bodily harm to those we judge because they act or believe differently than we do! We are quick to judge, we are quick to reach a negative conclusion about others, and we are quick to condemn.

It only takes one negative action on the part of a good person and we rush to crush them. Wow. Have we deteriorated to such an extent in our humanity that we rush so quickly to condemnation? Where is the compassion and love that causes us to be longsuffering toward others? If we truly followed God’s command to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” we would not be passing judgment on others so quickly. Instead, we would be seeking out excuses for their behavior in the same way we do for ourselves. In doing so, it would cause us to be more compassionate, longsuffering, and forgiving.

If we are not in a position to know both sides and the facts of a situation involving two people, don’t make a judgment about either!  NEVER believe someone else’s negative words aimed at discrediting another! In most instances, guaranteed, they will be slanted to the accuser’s agenda! ALWAYS stand back and wait if you are not privy to the side of both parties and the facts!  To believe a one-sided view, will cause us to automatically gravitate to a hostile standpoint. Once our mind becomes hostile toward and individual, there is nothing too cruel that they deserve and we will gladly dish out that cruelty. It breaks my heart to see God’s people dishing out cruelty in his name.

Of course there are instances where we will find ulterior motives too. While many may be subtle, still there are others that are hard to ignore. For example, there are religious organizations and people that provide aid or benefits to the less fortunate in order to build a following or recruit members. An example of this would be a church bus route that uses candy and prizes to entice children to church in order to get to the parents. The ultimate goal is to get the parents as members so they can give money to the church. Some organizations also provide aid in order to sexually exploit women and children. In these instances, we should not judge favorably until restitution is made to the victims. There are even some that extend aid to the less fortunate for murder. An example of this would be terrorist organizations. Hamas provides clothing, food, and other forms of aid to the poor in order to gain a following that will enable them to recruit suicide bombers. These suicide bombers are used to hurt and murder those whom Hamas hates.  Also, beware of those individuals that extend to you their aid and then call in the ‘favor’ later.

We should never condemn a person based on hearsay. We should always check out both sides of the matter before assuming the worst about a person or attacking them. To do otherwise is not only foolish, it is unethical and, makes you complicit in the sin! “You shall not nurse hatred against your brother. You shall reprove your fellow-countryman frankly and so you will have no share in his guilt (Lev. 19:17 – NEB) Beware of those who gossip! Don’t believe what you hear! Always give the other person the benefit of the doubt until you have both sides of a story as well as the facts. I cannot express how often I hear bad things about good people. I cannot express adequately the pain this brings me.  I remember one time where I was discarded as a friend because I refused to believe what I was told about another friend of mine and continued friendship with the accused.  I had both sides of the story and the facts showed the accusation against this person to be false.  Sadly, this is the risk we take for judging fairly by those who do not. We may lose friends.

I have made a choice that I intend to live by. I will not believe gossip and slander. I will patiently wait and assess the facts for myself and make a decision based on those facts. Sadly, many don’t understand why I do this and criticize me because of it.  What I have found is that in almost every instance to date, with a little patience and some digging, I was told wrong information with the intent to create animosity or, the accuser made big assumptions based on someone else’s opinion! In other instances, it was a matter of a poor decision that hurt others and the individual was literally crucified for it, even after apologizing and making restitution for the mistake made. When gossip is believed, it can incite people to violence against the victim. I have witnessed this first hand with many religious abuse survivors. Usually, when this has happened, the gossip was being spread in order to silence truth. This incitement breaks another commandment: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18 – KJV).

This leads me to another area of concern – that of passing on negative or defamatory information to those who don’t need to know it. Usually, this is done to destroy a person’s character so that no one will believe what they have to say. Many institutions utilize character assassination in order to silence truth; especially if the truth exposes their wrongdoings. Those who judge others unfairly and spread gossip, commit a far greater sin than the wrong for which they are condemning in someone else. Usually, the religious, will disguise their slander and gossip under the mantle of “pray for so-and-so because . . .” Beware of those people who do such things. Don’t believe what they say!

“If you do not judge others fairly, how can you be judged fairly in your time of need? The Talmud promises a divine reward to those who judge in a merciful manner: “He who judges his fellow man favorably is himself judged favorably [by God]” (Shabbat 127b). On the other hand, those who judge harshly will be judged similarly: “In the measure with which a man measures, so is he measured” (Sotah 8b)” [A Code of Jewish Ethics]. We must be careful about passing judgment on others because, in reality, it will really be ourselves we may be judging.

Since the Bible teaches that “There is no person on earth so righteous, who will do only good and not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20), we should not set standards for others that neither they nor we can meet. All of us occasionally stray off path. It would be wrong to attack, label, gossip or shun such a one because of a sin committed (unless it’s a wrong of huge proportions or is a deliberate attempt at destroying another), or because they have done something we don’t like.  Usually, in this category of sins of ‘huge proportion,’  would fall rape, murder, slander, sexual assault, physical assault and those attempts at destroying the life and liveliness of others.  Any others I would assess less harshly.

In order to judge fairly, it often involves overlooking insignificant matters. On the other hand, if someone is repeatedly mistreating you, then it is probably a good idea to break ties with that individual. It is not a good idea to tell everyone you know about their behavior toward you. There may be a valid reason why this person treats you so unfairly. Just because they treat you this way does not automatically mean they will treat others the same way.  Also, if we are going to criticize flaws in others that we ourselves have, we should first acknowledge the flaws in ourselves so that we will be less harsh in our criticism.

What is best? To not judge at all. We should avoid having strong feelings and views on too many subjects. Those who are quick to condemn and judge usually believe that there is only one right way and one wrong way. They do not understand that there are many right ways and many wrong ways. How something is done is based on preference.  So before passing unfair judgment on others, or spreading that gossip about them, remember this: You are not as good as you think you are, and the world is not as bad as you think it is. Don’t judge others unfairly and don’t let other’s opinions influence you to judge unfairly no matter what position that person holds. Treat everyone with dignity, compassion, honesty, respect, and love.

Candidly Speaking

realitycheckaheadCandidly Speaking

For over 18 years, my life revolved around ‘serving God’ in a fundamentalist religious sect. I never dreamed or considered that it might be a cult. After all, who sets out to join a cult? Time and time again, my husband and I ignored the many ‘red flags of abuse’ to follow and please Christ. After all, pleasing God is the most important thing in life, right? We all want God’s hand of protection and blessing in our lives. We sincerely believed there was nothing more important than being ‘right with God.’ And of course, this is something that is hammered home in every sermon preached. But what does ‘being right with God’ mean? Think about it. If Jesus died to take away the sin of the WORLD, then we are all “right with God” through Christ — There is therefore now no condemnation. Christ is not the Savior of a few, but Savior of ALL. He said so himself. So what does “right with God” mean if Jesus already made us ‘right.’ This is a thought to be considered.

And, WHY do we need to be ‘right with God?’  We don’t have to be ‘right with God’ to go to heaven.  God does not require perfection to please him.  So, is it to gain his hand of protection and blessing?  And if this is the case, then who is it that determines our wrongness to the extent we need to ‘get right?’ Religion would have us to believe we are wrong with God because we are sinful. Does this mean our sins cause us to forfeit God’s hand of protection and blessing?  We all know unsaved people who are quite blessed.  Many of us were blessed BEFORE we believed. So this can’t be the reason.

I was taught by religion we were all born into sin and needed forgiveness of those sins.  Well of course religion would say that! But God says we, and our sins, were bought and paid for thousands of years ago and our sins are not held against us. Because of Christ, we are forgiven. So, how can we be wrong with God if our sins are no longer held against us from birth? And does God treat certain people differently based on this ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness?’ Is God partial? After all, some do teach he blesses those who are right with him and troubles those who are not.  If this was true, then God would be partial and He himself says he is not partial.  So who on this planet determines what makes us right or what makes us wrong with God? Who determines the rules and beliefs we need to adhere to in order to please him? Well, of course, religion does that, right?

But what does God say pleases him? Faith. That’s it plus nothing.

So, all we have to do to please God is believe and trust in Him? Yep.

God has already told us we are right with him through Christ but religion just wants to make double sure we are? Or, could it be that religion is out for itself? Could money, power, control, prestige, and sexual dominance be influencing religion? One certainly has to wonder this.

What many of us fail to understand is that we already have God’s hand of protection and blessing regardless of what we do. He rains trial and blessing on the just and the un-just the same way. He is not partial or biased. He is not prejudiced. He is no respecter of persons. He treats everyone as equal. He does not practice sexual discrimination. He does not practice ethnic discrimination. He does not practice religious discrimination. He only bases his decisions on one thing and one thing only – HIS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE toward us. God chooses love over everything else because God IS love. Love gives freely, shows compassion, edifies; is merciful, patient, longsuffering, kind and humble. God exercises all these things with us freely regardless of what we do. We just have to partake of the treasure of his love for ourselves to live in fullness. There is not one single sin that can separate us from the love of God – not one! The price for sin has been paid and the work for the salvation of the world is finished. Sadly, there are many who don’t believe his work is finished; or worse, that he really didn’t mean it when he says he died once, for ALL. Some even believe he did not pay the penalty for ALL sins and live their lives exercising their prejudice and animosity against those who commit  certains sins. They actually judge people who sin differently than they do, not realizing sin is sin and they are sinners too! There is none perfect, no not one.

Please notice that I said “salvation of the world” and not salvation of those who believe. Christ died for all sin and all sinners. There are no exceptions. He is the savior of all and “especially of those that believe.” He didn’t say he is only the savior of those who believe! Non-belief does not null and void this free gift to ALL. It is a gift to all and we must remember that. EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue shall confess Jesus as Lord (This happens AFTER physical death.).  Religion would have us believe we need to accept the free gift – that this gift is not yours unless you accept it here and now. Here we go again putting conditions on God’s UNCONDITIONAL and all-inclusive love!  Religion teaches it cannot be accepted after death, the teaching of which, is nowhere stated in scripture – interesting.  Isn’t it amazing how man continually wants to limit God?  By teaching this, religion is effectively saying salvation is exclusive. Really? What part of “all” does religion not understand, I wonder? God’s gift is ALL-inclusive while man’s teaching about him and his gift is exclusive.

The reality is that Jesus died whether we like it or not to pay our sin debt whether we believe it or not. Jesus died for my sin before I ever heard of him. I was already a child of his before I knew him and before I believed he was the Savior. But religion will argue this point, of course.

Religion also wants me to believe in hell so strongly that it instills fear and ascribes to God a merciless character trait. Religion wants me to believe God is cruel, heartless, torturous, vengeful and full of uncontrollable wrath – all of this disquised by the term ‘Justice.’  hmmm…  I believe Hell is a masterful tool used to manipulate and control others through fear (Read my book on this topic.).

Religion also hates those who oppose its doctrines and rules. It will slander and harass you until you concede and conform to its beliefs. If you don’t concede, it will hurt you and incite its members to violence against you. Sadly, some religions will even try to murder you if you don’t come around to their way of thinking and believing. Ever heard of “convert or die?” It’s taking place right now with ISIS and, it took place during the Reformation and Inquisition.

Religion would also have us believe its particular BRAND of Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Islam, Buddhist, must be followed to enjoy God’s hand of blessing. Religion teaches us to adhere to its many rules and restrictions. Religion proliferates and teaches inequality. Religion teaches us we can never be good enough in God’s eyes because we are just that sinful. Religion is biased. Religion is prejudiced. Religion propagates hate and harm toward those who disagree or live differently. Religion is racist. Religion is a separatist. Religion corrupts scripture. Religion is a murderer. Religion is abusive. Religion dehumanizes. Religion divides. Religion slanders. Religion is operated and controlled by human beings for personal gain, not God.  Religion is not patient, compassionate, merciful, or kind unless you are a part of its MEMBERSHIP; and even then, you may not be extended these things!

Religion teaches people how to exercise CONDITIONAL love. Therefore, multitudes do not truly know God even though they spend their lives trying to serve him with all they have. Let that sink in for a moment. To only love those who love and believe as you do is conditional love. That’s not God. While we were yet sinners Christ died. While we were sinners, he loved us. Religion is responsible for so many evil attitudes, behaviors and beliefs! Remember that more people have been murdered, tortured, maimed and killed because of religion than in war. Look at what is taking place in Syria and Iraq! RELIGION is the reason these men are raping and murdering women, crucifying the men, and beheading and starving the children! God has no part in that, yet they are doing it in the name of God and their religion. These terrorists are taught that human beings who are not of their BRAND are worthless and worthy of sexual abuse, torture and murder (dehumanization)?  Really?  I would not want to associate with a God who condones such things. I would not want to spend eternity in the presence of such an EVIL entity. Would you? Think about it? If you have to commit atrocities in his name and harm others to please him, why would anyone want to associate with Him or you? We have to remind ourselves that God is no respecter of persons. God is no respecter of religion. God does not care what BRAND you are because he loves you unconditionally.  BUT, religion IS a respecter of persons, brand, and religious affiliation. RELIGION wants you to believe that God is a hating, murderous, vindictive entity that will ‘get you’ if you don’t follow religion’s rules, beliefs, dogmas, precepts and commands;  or, if you don’t convert to their BRAND.

What we fail to consider is that religion is man-made. It is not God made.  When Jesus walked the earth, were there Catholics? Were there Methodists? Were there Baptists? Were there Pentecostals? Were there Mormons?  Religion is a tool used by people to control others and to extract personal gain. If you don’t think it is, think again! Religion wants to dictate your life.  For example: There is nothing wrong with meeting together to worship. There is everything wrong in telling people WHEN and HOW they can worship. Religion has everyone successfully brainwashed into believing they can only worship God in religious buildings. Religion teaches that unless you go to church, you are not a good Christian. Your character is determined by whether or not you attend a church or other religious building? What rubbish! God says no such thing! I would suggest you read my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse, on this issue. It is man’s teaching that you must attend an actual church building to be considered a good Christian, not God’s. Church buildings allow men an avenue to gather people together in one place in order to control them for personal gain. We really don’t need church to have a relationship with God. We don’t need over-seers to have a relationship with God, either. The God I now know has a personal one-on-one relationship with me. We have each other’s full attention and affections without any distractions or interferences from others or religion.  God will show me what he wants me to see. He will teach me what he wants me to learn. God doesn’t need men to teach me anything!  He is fully capable of taking care of his own.  Think about this.   Religion has spent the majority of my life interfering with my relationship with God and preventing me from doing what God wanted me to do! Religion used abusive and deceitful tactics to deceive me into believing I needed to do what IT wanted me to do in order to be ‘right’ with God – all at the cost of my family!

Because society as a whole naturally trusts religion to be honest, helpful, and fulfilling, we allow ourselves to get sucked into some very abusive situations. This is especially true with religion because we walk right into the abuse trusting those who have leadership over us. As a result, countless multitudes are walking themselves right into abuses they never bargained for. Abusive religions instill in us that we are NOT worthy, that our faith is NOT good enough, that we DESERVE hell, that we can NEVER be pleasing to God because we can never live up to the standard set by religion and its leaders. And because our faith is not good enough, we are not good enough. Religion will gladly make up rules in order to help us be good enough while it reaps the gain.

The degradation, the labeling, the shunning, the psychological games all aimed at innocent people in order to force conformity to religion and its rules, is astounding. These psychological games are some of the most destructive instruments religion uses to gain control over the masses. Using FEAR to force conformity is one of the most treasured weapons of choice of religious institutions. If you don’t believe this, then maybe you should take a look at the history of Islam and Christianity. These religions used, and still use, fear tactics (inlcuding murder) to prevent anyone from going against them. It works very well, I would say.

The truth is that other religions use fear the same way! As a result, these fears do some major damage emotionally and spiritually to vulnerable, unsuspecting people. There is an ever increasing number of people who have become fed up with being abused and are walking not only away from religion, but God. They have had enough! They are broken, bruised, slandered, hated, despised, and ill-treated because they have decided to break the yoke of bondage to the religion and its leaders who continue to destroy them and their families. Good news, though! Though they walk away, God STILL loves them and will be compassionate and merciful to them. He will continue to BLESS them!  He will wait patiently for their return as he continues to guide their lives.  Religion wants us to believe otherwise! Shame on religion!

Marriages are being destroyed and families are being divided due to religious belief all over the world. Women and children are being physically and sexually abused due to the teachings of some of these religions. The atrocities committed by religious zealots are innumerable and the reality regarding these atrocities is at the forefront of news media all over the world right at this very moment. The world sits in shock as ISIS slaughters thousands of innocent people who refuse to convert to their brand of Islam. Sadly, man-made religions can produce some pretty mean, controlling, and merciless people. The tentacle of destruction these mean-spirited, controlling people inject into our life is shocking, destructive, and far reaching. The religious attitudes alone that degrade women and children have birthed a full generation of mysoginistic men, pedophiles, and sexual deviants. It has created cold and heartless women and men. The fruit of this mindset across the world is sex trafficking, pornography, rape, physical violence, murder and victim blaming.

Using religion to control and manipulate people has to be the most effective, yet destructive, invention of man ever created. Using religion to instill in people they are not good enough for God is tragic! Yet, this is happening everywhere. Religion tells you that if you do not do what it says,  you are not good enough or worthy enough for God’s love and, you DESERVE Hell.

Religion and its followers use God and his name to force others to conform to THEIR will, wants, and desires, not God’s. To the abused, God is abusive and God’s people are controlling and abusive. Abusive religions destroy self-esteem and self-confidence. Many of them devalue women and children making them feel worthless and setting them up for abuse (dehumanization). They instill in you that you are not worthy of God’s love, you are only worthy of going to hell. And if you are not worthy of God’s love, how can you be worthy of anyone elses love?  You are not allowed to have friends outside the sect you serve and you certainly cannot fellowship with ‘the world.’ The isolationism abusive religions teach is not only for maintaining control, it is used as a means to punish those who stray outside of their rules and precepts.

Religion is very good at telling people what to do. It has had thousands of years of practice in learning how to manipulate people and scripture. I give religion an A+ in these areas. Religion is the master of deception and deceit. The façade it wears is beautiful and magnificent.  However, that façade is a lie. The sooner we realize this, the better.

Don’t believe religion! Study to show yourself approved unto God. Follow Him, not man. When we get religion out of our lives, our true CHARACTER reveals itself. Religion has become a mask for poor character, evil, hatred, envy, strife, murder, sexual abuse and more. Take it off! Draw close to God and he will draw close to you. Let God help you fix yourself while enjoying a truly intimate and loving relationship with him. He will treat you better than religion and its followers ever will! Your failures and imperfections don’t bother him at all! He doesn’t expect you to be anything but yourself with him. How refreshing! Because of Christ you are “right with God.” Your sins are remembered no more. Stop beating yourself up and stop using Religion’s MEASURING STICK to determine how good or bad your relationship with God is. God is ready and waiting for an awesome relationship with with you if you will get the interference out from between you and him – RELIGION.

The Teen Years and Recovery – by Aaron McClaskey

From the Author:  When I embarked on the task of writing about the steps I took in order to heal from religious brainwashing, I did it with the sincere desire to give other cult survivors some “options” to take in the healing and deprogramming process. However, I am not sure that most people would be willing to go to the lengths that I went to in order to deprogram.  After all, I did what worked for me.  Remember, that in my Recovery and Healing Series, I clearly said that, “. . . what worked for me, may not work for you. Everyone’s situation is different?”

When I received the initial post and email from a mother who was hurting because of the damage the cult indoctrination did to her and her children, I felt it would be helpful for people to hear from one of my children regarding what he did in order to deprogram.  So, I enlisted the aid of my third oldest, Aaron, to give his story regarding recovery and healing from cult brainwashing as a young teenager.  I believe you will find his ONE STEP Process quite easy; and at the same time, possibly difficult. We all know that sometimes it is easier to say something, than to actually do it.  However, I just wanted to give people one more “option” in the healing and recovery process. I hope it is helpful not only for the adults, but for the teens and young adults who are Aaron’s age, to hear his story of growing up in a cult and his one step recovery “option.”

The Teen Years
By Aaron McClaskey

From the day I was born, to the age of roughly 17, most of my life was saturated in the Baptist dogma.  When I was three years of age, I was enrolled into a private Christian school. As far as I was aware, it was a fun environment. I remember going to school, meeting with my friends, and mostly having a lot of fun. At that young of an age, there was little I understood. However there was one rule that I never quite fully understood (even till this day), and that was discipline. There were times when I would do something wrong at school, and being that this school was a private one, the teachers had permission to discipline students. If I was spanked at school, then I would get spanked again once I got home. I never understood this. If the punishment for being tardy is a spanking, and I receive one from the principal, then why should I get another one when I get home? I remember strongly disliking a particular teacher. She was always mean to me and often times would pull me by my hair and yell at me for things that I had no idea what she was referring to. However, when you’re the parent and the teacher says your kid was bad and needed disciplined, then there’s not much I can say to state my case. After all, I was considered too young to have a say about it. Anyways, if the punishment was meant to “fit” the crime, then was I over-punished?

At the age of six, I – along with my brother and sister, were pulled out of the private school and out of the church that ran it. We were then homeschooled from that point on. There were several reasons, some of which aren’t related to the church or school, but for the reasons that were related to the church and school, I didn’t understand until many years later. My parents told me why we were leaving, but I simply couldn’t comprehend the size of the situation. After leaving this church and school, my family and I spent many years at a few different churches, and every church we left was for the same reason; corruption.

My purpose here isn’t to give you a full biography on myself, or to say that all churches are bad, but for you to understand the toll that the cult environment took on me. I like to relate the Baptist dogma to smoking; many people start out enjoying themselves, but years later they realize that they’ve been infected with a cancer. As a child, they begin to teach you what you should and shouldn’t do. Some of these teachings are moral, and the others are opinions which are usually disguised as “Bible Truths.” The moral teaching, although some fell under the opinion category, still sticks with me to this day, and I can honestly say that I’m grateful for learning these values at a young age, for example; respecting my parents, respecting others, working hard, and (to an extent) representing myself appropriately.

As for the opinions disguised as “Bible truths,” here’s a list of things that were said to me…in literal form, and while you’re reading the list, I want you to imagine an older preacher yelling these things from behind his expensive pulpit:

   “It is a sin for women to wear pants!” (Yet they never touched on the fact that Jesus never said that.)

   “Woman are subjective to men and should be silent in the church!” (Yet, God allowed women to fulfill his purpose without silence.)

   “Protect yourself from all appearances of evil… It is a sin to go to a movie theatre!” (This one I never understood, especially since Christian films such as Fireproof have played there, and for nearly $10 a movie ticket, I doubt I’ll do anything other than watch the movie.)

   “What’s with all this MySpace and YouTube trash?? YOU DON’T NEED A SPACE!!!” (Funny they said that. Their social media bias was spoken with true conviction, but when you fast forward to present day, almost every church and pastor has a Facebook account… WTF – which clearly means Welcome To Facebook!)

These are just some of the legalistic and opinionated views that were directed my way through the years. There’s many more, and the worst part of it all, I believed it. I didn’t believe these things because of my research in scripture, I believed them because I was told to. I wasn’t allowed to question pastors on their beliefs, as I would have the ‘‘hammer of God’’ brought down on me. I was to believe what I was told, say what I was told to say, and maybe – just maybe, I’d be right with God. I behaved and acted in accordance with the truth as I perceived it to be. I remember participating in what they called “Soul-winning” or “Visitation.” I also remember how judgmental and opinionated I was when I would interact with complete strangers, and tell them what I was told to say in order to “bring them to Jesus.” I know for a fact that a lot of people probably looked at me as I walked away and thought “That kid was an a**hole.” They would’ve been right to think that.I was rude and judgmental to people, all in the name of Jesus. I didn’t care though. As far as I was concerned, God was going to bless me for “not letting people be comfortable in their sin.”

In my younger pre-teen years, I was sold on the Baptist cause. However, as I began to enter my mid-teen years, things began to become routine, and I began to get bored. I’m one of those people who begin to think about things when I get bored, and this is when my internal conflicts began. One of the yearly activities I would partake in is summer camp. I loved summer camp, but not for the reasons that I was meant to love it for. Honestly, I liked being able to eat a lot of food, go swimming, and have fun with my friends. What did I dislike about camp? All of the preaching services. Why? Because nearly every service involved the preacher literally telling us just how problematic we were. The preachers would always tell stories about individuals who became “casualties of the faith” and how they succumbed to lust and temptation and made life altering mistakes. Most of those mistakes in correlation with opposite genders locking lips (kissing) or any kind of touching for that matter. It sounds crazy, and it is, but it’s true. I can tell you now, just because the opposite gender is in close proximity does not mean that sex will ensue, yet that’s exactly how we were all treated every time the church would have any type of gathering. Even in Sunday school, boys sat on one side and girls on the other. It was in my mid-teens that I came to the realization that my Sunday school teachers weren’t concerned, they were paranoid!

The main agenda that all the Sunday school teachers and preachers would push is “Do you want to be right with God?” If we said yes, then we would literally be told the things we needed to do, which is quite formulated and legalistic if you ask me. So what is the list of things one would need to do in order to be considered “right” with God? Good question, here you go:

   Attend church three times a week (And yes, Wednesday services are unquestionable!)

   Show up for Sunday-school, morning service and afternoon service (Because you need to make sure you’re right with God).

   Be involved in the church! The more involvement the better, which include but are not limited to:

o   Attending “revivals” that take place during week days (Whether or not you have to work is irrelevant, you should get your priorities straight!).

o   Attending visitation every Saturday (So what if you work a full time job and want to spend time with your family? The church… I mean “God” comes first!).

o    Give at least 10% of your gross income to the church… I mean God… (Doesn’t matter if you’re struggling to provide for your family, the pastor said that God needs your money!).

o   Join the church choir! That is, after you have signed the terms and conditions (And no, I’m not making this up. They actually make you sign a document).

As you have read above, you can easily see how feeling that you have to do all these things can seem overwhelming, especially to a kid in their teens. Yet most teens are so naïve that they’ll do it because they literally do not know any different. I had to ask myself at a certain point, “If this is what being Christian is all about, do I want to be Christian?” Do not misunderstand me or this article I’m writing. My goal isn’t to tear down anyone’s personal beliefs, but to challenge you to think on your own and ask the questions that lay in the back of your mind, questions that you never wanted to ask yourself out of fear, fear that you may face rejection by everyone you know, or that you may face the reality that everything you have believed in and stood for in your life has all been a lie. I challenge you to ask the hard questions because in reality, the projection of your life depends on it.

As I reached the age of 16, significant events in my life took place, due to the church. I will not elaborate on those events here, as that is another topic for another time. However, In order for me to question myself and what I’ve believed, I had to face pain. My family had to face pain, and all of it stemmed from the very place we went to find joy and happiness – the church. Earlier I listed some of the things you had to do to be considered “right with God.” Some of you may ask why I mention those things in a negative connotation. Honestly, if you believe in doing those things out of your own merit, then by all means do it. But if you’re trying to secure yourself a place of prestige in the church by publicly doing these acts, then are you acting for God or for man? I’ve noticed many people put on a façade for others by demonstrating how self-righteous they are, and it was irritating to say the least. No one likes self-righteous, arrogant people, yet that’s exactly how you are taught to be, and it gets promoted constantly in the church (although no pastor or deacon will admit that to you).

In my eyes, I felt many times that I couldn’t live up to these standards, and as time went by, I found out I was right – but I’m happier knowing that. I felt that in order for me to fulfill the requirements of the church, I had to be nearly perfect. As a result, I always fell short, and I always felt disappointed with myself. It wasn’t till my later teens that I was made aware of an interesting fact. My dad and I often went to the gym together. There were many people that we would talk with and work out with, but one man in particular said something during a conversation that has stuck with me for many years now. He made the remark;

Everyone is so caught up with trying to be perfect, yet the last person to walk the earth who really was perfect was killed for it. Do people really want to be perfect?” 

That statement was profound, and it certainly will resonate with me for the rest of my life. Jesus never asked for perfection from anyone, any time in history, and therefore no one should ever be required to attempt to live up to this kind of status. This is why I no longer partake in an organized belief system. I no longer attend a local gathering for that belief system. Why? Because religion is man-made, not God-made. A Baptist preacher once made a statement regarding Christianity, and I thought it was also profound, considering it came from Jack Schaap who is currently in jail for corruption. He said the following;

Christianity has brought alienation instead of unity. Imbalance instead of balance. Christianity is a divider of men.”

 To all the young individuals who may be struggling to feel their worth, just know that there is more to life than the church and religion. Jesus wasn’t of any religion, nor did he attend a church. His message was about truth, love, beauty, and unity. He did not alienate himself from people based on their lifestyle, ethnicity, race, gender, or sexual orientation. The bible says “For God so loved the world…” I am responsible for my life and for what I do. It is no one’s place to judge and condemn others just because they sin differently than you. What helped me recover from the Baptist mentality was simply having the will to think on my own terms. I realize that thinking on your own may be difficult, as there are many influences surrounding us every day, but I encourage you to take that leap of faith, and ask the hard questions.

There’s only one word that can appropriately sum up my life after the church: Freedom.

            Some of you may be reading this with the hopes of finding out how to go about deprogramming yourself from the religious dogma. If you are anything like me, then you will find this reading beneficial, and something you can relate to. However, if you are not like me, then unfortunately I cannot explain to you any other way that you would be able to relate to. For me, deprogramming was simply a choice. I acted in spite of what I had been told for so many years. For many people, that may come easy. For others, not so much. What works for me will not work for all. This is just my story, but I hope it’s one that you can benefit from.

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

As you will see from Aaron’s story, he simply chose to think for himself. Cult brainwashing is all about thinking and believing like the ‘religious leaders and religious system’ one is serving. Independent thought and reasoning is frowned upon and punished in all abusive religions. Aaron, as young as he was when we extracted ourselves from the cult, was smart enough to realize as a young teen that there were ‘red flags’ raised throughout his life. Aaron not only refused to ignore them, he also refused to ignore the reality of the pain we went through as a family because of the religious teachings. What my husband and I went through greatly impacted him and the rest of our children.  Amazingly, this shows us that children are more perceptive than we give them credit for as parents. They understand more than we give them credit for. They have the amazing ability to see through the lies that religion tries to pull over their heads once they begin thinking on their own.

I would have to say, that as a parent, I am very proud of the way he chose to recover. For him, it was a choice to simply think differently. That’s how it was for my husband as well.  He simply chose to start thinking differently and to question everything he was taught, developing his own belief system based on independent reasoning and experience.  For me, I needed to educate myself to prove every thought and question I had because I had almost 20 years of brainwashing to undo. My personality and way of doing things was different than my husband and son’s.  I was too AFRAID to accept the truth as truth without evidence to support it because my self-worth and self-esteem had been destroyed by cult teaching.  Thankfully, Aaron graciously and wisely accepted our extraction and realized as a young teenager that it’s not about ‘religion,’ it’s about love. It’s not about ‘following rules,’ it’s about following God. It’s not about going to church, it’s about have a relationship with God.  It’s not about separating yourself from the world, it’s about being a light and example to follow.  It’s not about self-righteous, separated, holier-than-thou living, it’s about exercising humility, kindness, mercy, love, compassion, patience, honesty, and integrity toward others.  It’s not about judging others, it’s about accepting them where they are, loving them, encouraging them . . .  and letting God do the work in their lives because only HE can change them and only HE can draw them near.  As a young teen, he realized these basic truths and life principles and, as a result, he has become a young adult that has gained wisdom beyond his years. Son, your Dad and I are so proud of you!

Healing and Recovery Series – Step Three

Today I would like to talk about another step that religious abuse survivors can take in the healing and recovery process. If you have not read Step One or Two in this series, I would encourage you to do so Here and Here.

As a religious abuse survivor, one of the most helpful steps that I took in the healing process was to sign up for Facebook and get involved in one of the groups for Cult / religious abuse Survivors. At the time, I had no idea that a social media group would be so beneficial to me in my healing process. The very first group I joined was a small group of a little over 300 people called Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (and their supporters).  When I joined this group, I was still hurting and scared. I was nearing the end of my two years of isolation and my depression seemed to be letting up somewhat.  So, I decided to step out and take a chance to see what I would find.

One day I was watching 20/20 on television and saw a story about a young girl named Tina Anderson. She was a victim of child rape from the same religious sect that I had just left. In the news story, they also interviewed another victim named Jocelyn Zeichterman.  Jocelyn had a group on Facebook for abuse survivors of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. As soon as they gave the name of the Facebook page, I found it and joined. Within  just a few weeks after the episode on 20/20 aired, the group grew to over 2000 members.

This particular group was instrumental in the healing and deprogramming process for me and my oldest sons. We all joined this group and upon doing so, realized there were others that we personally knew that were in it as well. Together, we all found healing through fellowship and telling our stories to each other.

STEP #3: Get Involved in Cult Survivor Groups and Pages on Facebook.
Join Forums, Subscribe to Blogs.

Associating with other religious abuse survivors allows you to fellowship with those who have gone through what you have gone through. There is a common bond; an understanding. Just realizing that you are not alone in your pain and suffering is like salve to your soul. You will make new friends in these groups as well – friends that will encourage you in your journey out of religious bondage. They will support you and lift you up when you feel you can’t go another day.

I caution you though. These groups have all walks of faith in them. Many of these victims of abuse are angry and hurting too.  They are all in different stages of the deprogramming and healing process. They all express themselves differently. Be aware of this and don’t allow yourself to get offended easily. Understand that these are hurting and broken people too. These groups are not a place to bring your cult mentality into. They are also not a place to proselytize. These groups are based on acceptance and love for everyone. I encourage you to join as many as you can, and watch and listen. You don’t have to post in them, but listen and quietly take in what many say. You will know when the time is right for you to speak up. In the beginning though, just ABSORB. Here are a few groups, websites, and pages to get you started.

Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (and their supporters) – Facebook group
Do Right Hyles Anderson – Facebook group
Do Right First Baptist Church of Hammond – Facebook group
Independent Fundamental Cult Abuse Surviving – Facebook group
Survivors of Abuse in Fundamentalism – Facebook group
Care – Facebook group
Together We Heal – Facebook group
Religion’s Cell – Facebook page
Religionscell.com – website
Wickedshepherd.com – website
Jeriwho.net – website
Tentmaker.org – website

Ask around in these groups for other groups, websites and blogs to visit. There are so many, it is impossible to list them all. Many of the survivors in these groups have some fantastic blogs and have written some really awesome books that will help you to recover and heal!  Don’t limit yourself with just one group. By all means, branch out and become part of many. Like me, you will eventually just narrow it down to the ones that meet the emotional needs that you have.

Associating with others that understand what you are going through is great medicine to the wounded soul that is struggling. This step in the deprogramming and healing process is one that can be used for as little or as long as you need it in order to recover. For me, this step rescued me from the absolute and total fear of people the cult mentality instilled in me.  Go ahead and give this step a try. After all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so.

Healing and Recovery Series – Step Two

reading picRecovery from religious abuse can be a long and arduous process. It takes conscious effort and positive, decisive actions to undo the damage from such abuse. Many are at a loss when it comes to knowing what to do. They extract themselves and their families from an abusive religious environment and then struggle under the emotional load and strained relationships. Still, there are others that are struggling with chemical dependency as a result of some of the abuses they have endured.

In step one I talked about how important it is to first “accept the truth and take responsibility.” Denial of truth and responsibility will never lead to full recovery. I also talked about the importance of professional counseling in the recovery process. Professional counselors will always be highly recommended for all stages of healing and recovery.   Together We Heal is one such organization that I recommend often to survivors of childhood sexual assault. Together We Heal offers free counseling services to those who cannot afford to pay for a professional counselor.

I also emphasized in Step One that these are steps and thought processes that my husband and I used. While they worked for me and my family, they may not work for you. Everyone’s situation is different. Please keep this in mind as I let you inside my personal “bubble” again for this next step. Also, remember that the steps I give can be done in any order best for you and your situation. You can even combine some of them. You decide what you feel is best for you!

There are countless religious abuse survivors out there who have shared their testimonies, written books, and hosted blogs in order to help other survivors to cope, deprogram, find aid, locate professional help, recover, and heal. In order for any of us religious abuse survivors to live the remainder of our lives with any semblance of peace and happiness, it is imperative that we deprogram our minds and reprogram them. This is why my second step in the deprogramming process is to READ.

STEP #2: READ, READ, READ!!!

I cannot emphasize the importance of this step! Do NOT leave this step out. As cult survivors we MUST deprogram ourselves. If you want to deprogram faster and with less pain, READ!

WHAT I DID

I delved into books on early church history and Jewish Biblical Literacy. I wanted to find out if all the religious dogma, beliefs, and rules I was taught were true.  Did Jewish teaching and biblical history line up with the dogmas and beliefs I was taught?  Did the Jews degrade and oppress women like Christians do? Did Jewish Scholars interpret and translate Old Testament passages the same way as our English translation? What about New Testament passages? I had so many questions!

I bought and read all Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s books. I downloaded all copies of the Bible from the 1500s and 1600s and many of the Apocryphal books that are available. I read and compared these. I bought almost all of Bart D Erhman’s books and read them. I delved into Greek and Hebrew scholar’s works from the 16th – 18th centuries – Backhouse, Heeshon, Thayer, Jukes, Bushnell, etc. I visited countless blogs and websites to read and learn. I googled everything I had ever been taught. I bought and downloaded countless resources and articles. From all these sources I took notes. I filled countless notebooks so I could have all the “important” stuff in one place. What I found was that many of the doctrines Christianity taught me as “truth,” were LIES. These were not small lies either! The lies had long term and abusive consequences for women and children.  As you study, you will discover what’s been twisted too; especially if you read the works of Bushnell, Thayer, Backhouse, Telushkin, or Erhman.

Learning new truths through the experiences and expertise of others along with documented history, was key in helping me to change my perception instilled by the cult religion I had been a part of for many years. Many of the articles on my blog were birthed because of learning new truths that debunked the lies I had believed all my life. As I read, I came across information that in my heart I was not ready to accept. I warn you ahead of time that this does not mean it is not true. It meant I was not ready for it yet. Some truths needed me to grow a little bit more before I could accept them. The ones that were not true, I figured out along the way.  I Just set the stuff I was slightly ‘choking’ on aside and kept on reading. Please understand that not everything we read and learn will be used right away in the healing process. We may have to go back to it later.

In order to change my perception of myself, I had to get educated. I had to find “truth.” As I read and learned and grew in knowledge, I began to change. The twisted scriptures I was taught to believe by religious leaders that were abusive, began to stand out with glaring reality. The evidences I discovered gave me fact-based information to re-establish new beliefs and foundations. As the change began to take place, I realized that I had been poisoned by religious bias and sexual bias!  This is when I began to systematically extract all this “poison.”  As truth entered, the toxic waste began to erupt out . . . like vomit. I found myself angry. However, I did not give “public” place to this anger. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to express it in bits and pieces to vent it. However, “vomiting” out my anger in front of others could have caused hurt to other survivors who were in different phases of growth and healing.

So, I waited and continued learning and writing. Writing down my thoughts was so therapeutic and helpful! If you can keep a journal, I highly recommend doing so during this stage. After the anger subsided, I was left with a feeling of loss. I cried for weeks over the fact I had been deceived and had wasted almost 20 years of my life for nothing. What did I have to show for it? Nothing. My foundations the church helped me build upon the opnions of men and lies, crumbled completely. The next phase was uncertainty. I felt “undone.” If I was taught to believe lies, what am I to believe now? How do I rebuild new foundations? As I continued to read, however, the anger dissipated and gave away to new understanding and perception; not only of myself, but others. It also automatically began rebuilding my new foundations of faith; except this time, my faith was not “blind.” It was now based on evidence uncovered through my research. There is nothing wrong with having a foundation of beliefs built upon facts while exercising faith in the most important area of all – the saviour. Faith in the Savior is all that is required; not faith in the church, religious leaders, rules, dogmas, or theologies. Faith in the Savior that he is sufficient to keep that which I have committed to him is all that is necessary.

Perception is everything to a religious abuse survivor because perception is “fact” in our mind. Changing my perception, changed how I viewed the facts that I uncovered. It also enabled me to accept the facts and change accordingly based on them. This is why reading was vital for me. I had to change my negative perception of myself and the world around me by analyzing the evidence of truth I discovered. I was taught that I was worthless and the cause of evil in my life. I was taught to fear the government, child protective services, public schools, law enforcement, other religions, and ‘worldly’ people. I was taught to fear drinking, wearing pants, going swimming, going to the movies, and a whole host of other ridiculous things. I was taught God would kill me, my children, or some other family member if I did any of these things!  I had to change that perspective or I would never come out of isolation! Yes, I isolated myself. I lived in such fear of so many things that I could not even go to the grocery store alone. I was afraid God would kill me or send someone else to because I was no longer in the “church.” I believe “fear” is the hardest of all things to overcome.

My fears caused depression, kept me isolated, induced panic attacks, kept me from making new friends. To this day, I still find it difficult to make new friends; not because I can’t, but because I do not trust. Trust issues will probably follow me for the rest of my life. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but, it can sometimes prevent me from enjoying others’ friendships and fellowship. There is more to life than we were taught in the cult, and fear can often keep me from enjoying life like God intended. Education and action overcomes most fears. I have been taking action and doing what I have been afraid to do. Now, I am in a much better place than I have ever been in my life. Life has joy. My relationships with my family are the best they have ever been. Life is FUN.

Am I fully recovered? Not yet. I continue reading and learning. For me this is something I will do for the rest of my life. I never want to find myself in the place of bondage to a religious institution and its leaders ever again. I never want to find myself in a place of manipulation, control and oppression ever again. And to top it off, I never want to lack the appropriate knowledge to be able to see through religious lies, men’s opinions, and false teachings! I am like a sponge, I absorb the knowledge and do my best to use it wisely for the benefit of others.

Here are some recommended books for those who don’t know where to start:

  • The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment – Thomas B. Thayer
  • God’s Word to Women – Katherine C. Bushnell
  • Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse, by Cynthia McClaskey
  • The Truth About Tithing, by Cynthia McClaskey
  • Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen
  • Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experience, by Ken Blue
  • Toxic Faith, by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
  • Combatting Cult Mind Control, by Steven Hassan
  • Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, by Steven Hassan
  • Misquoting Jesus, by Bart D Erhman
  • Jewish Biblical Literacy, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
  • The LIES We Believe, by Dr. Chris Thurman
  • People of the Lie, by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

Get some education under your belt with some of these books mentioned and you will find release and freedom from the lies that have held you in bondage to institutions, attitudes, behaviors and corrupted thinking. There are many more books, but these will at least get you started in deprogramming. This step could take many months. It’s okay to take your time on this step. There is a lot to digest and a lot of contemplation to be made. What you will find after reading a few of these is that your foundations built by the cult will crumble. You will feel like I did – undone, sad, angry, etc. You will feel a whole host of emotions because you will have realized many of the lies you believed. You will have also realized the destruction these lies brought to you and your family. This is all normal! In order to heal, we must let go of the old foundations built upon lies and rebuild new foundations based on truth.  Let’s get rid of the corrupted foundations. Let’s get through, and deal with, all the EMOTIONS that will ensue as these foundations are chiseled away and removed. We don’t want to try and build a new foundation over an old, corrupted one!

Let me remind you again that there are many religious abuse survivors that have written books. Don’t be afraid to read their books! Many of them are helpful and give amazing insights! These authors want to help others to recover and heal. They, too, want to help untwist the lies and corrupted domgas of religious teaching. On my blog I have a few of these authors, if you wish to check out their works. In the next step I will be giving more resources. These resources will enable you to come in contact with more religious abuse survivors that have authored books.

I hope this information is helpful to you as you embark on your road to recovery and healing from religious abuse. Please stay tuned for the next step I took in this journey to recovery and healing!

Healing and Recovery Series – Step One

wrongThe question below was sent to me recently through my Religion’s Cell Facebook page. It expresses so well what families are dealing with as a result of religious abuses in a cult-like church and Christian school:

I’m looking for some healing for kids who were treated as if they were worthless and a waste of space at their church’s school, at church, and then punished by their father when they got home if they didn’t obey the church’s and the church’s school’s rules every day of their growing up years. Rules set up by the cult leader — the pastor Jack Hyles. How do you tell the inside of you that you ARE worthy, that you ARE a good person, that you HAVE talents, that people DO like you, after a childhood of the above? — Joanne

In the quote above, we can see that this individual is hurting. Her children have suffered greatly due to the abusive teachings and control tactics of the church leader they served. She also wrote me a lengthy email in search of help for her daughter. In Joanne’s case, I connected her with Together We Heal, an organization that has professional counselors available at no cost to the victim.  I also told Joanne that in response to her plea, I would write a series on how our family recovered. In this series, I want to talk about the steps me and my husband took in order to heal our family, to deprogram, reprogram, rebuild foundations, and gain new perspectives.

Please understand that what I am about to share with you is MY thought processes and steps based on MY experiences. The steps in this series are what WE did. Everything I am about to say to you is to let you into our personal “bubble” and see what we did for ourselves and our children. Are these thought processes and steps the “right” way? They were for me and my family; but they may not be for you and yours.

Like, Joanne above, there are countless religious abuse survivors struggling to know what to do and how to overcome religious abuse. Religious abuses have destroyed innumerable people. That is why my blog and other blogs exist amongst religious abuse survivors – we want to help others to deprogram, heal, and know HOW to recover themselves.

It is my opinion that Abusive religions devalue people. They are masters at making men, women, and children feel worthless in order to control them. They are masters at instilling fear in order to control them. It is important we realize that sexual, physical, spiritual, and emotional abuses are being perpetrated in those religions where there is devaluation.  Again, any religion that devalues other human beings will be abusive toward those they devalue! It is important for everyone to realize this.

Also rampant is spiritual dependency and blindness. These things can cripple us and prevent us from thinking independently and rationally. They also lead to our control and manipulation. Spiritual blindness and dependency will cause good people to do and say bad things to other good people.  It will also cause us to turn a blind eye to abuse.

In order to heal, we must change. We must learn how to deprogram from the abusive behaviors and thought processes that some religions instill in us. We must also learn how to reprogram ourselves in order to recover.  Healing and recovery will bring you joy and freedom in a way that truly is remarkable.  More importantly, every change we make, every step we take, every action and reaction we exercise, must be rooted in humility and genuine, unconditional love for everyone involved – including self.  So let’s look at some of the things my husband and I did that helped us and our family to heal, grow, and recover. I would also like to say that the steps in this series can be done in any order that is best for your situation.

The first step I want to talk about in this series is a very important step. Sadly, we have countless adult  survivors that skip this step. They refuse to believe or acknowledge that raising children in a system of control and manipulation does any harm to them. They are deceiving themselves; and, when their children try to voice those feelings of hurt, they are being chastised, called liars, or ignored.  All systems of control and manipulation DO harm in some way emotionally and psychologically; and you won’t know how much harm until you extract yourself from it.  Many parents refuse to believe their children have been harmed by the way they have been treated by them and others within the system. So, here’s the first step I want to cover:

STEP #1: You MUST Admit The Truth and Accept Responsibility

Too often, we find that some people are too proud to admit to themselves they were wrong. This can also be true when it comes to admitting to our children we were wrong. I know of parents who refuse to admit to themselves or their children they did anything wrong in raising them in a system that devalues them, controls them, and does not allow for them to be autonomous!  They refuse to take responsibility for the abuses they dished out to their children as a result of the religious teachings!  Some even refuse to believe the abuses their children suffered at the hands of religious leaders, along with their abusive attitudes and treatment of them, is abuse.  Furthermore, many refuse to believe the abuses they dish out to their spouses are abusive! Wow. Just because your religion sanctions the abuse, does not make it right at all. Just because your religion says it’s the right thing to do does not make it NOT abuse.

In order to recover, heal, and change, there is no place for ego or pride. When pride somehow manages to get in the way, all it does is stifle growth and create animosity. Sadly, many people will literally die for their religious and doctrinal beliefs rather than admit they are wrong in any area of them. Not only this, they will divide their family and destroy friendships because of them. Understand that religious beliefs and teachings are the ‘root’ of the problem and that you may have been lied to by the religious leaders and system you served. Understand that the teachings you accepted may have been abusive to you and your family and, you will never know just HOW abusive until you are WILLING to re-evaluate those teachings through an unbiased lens or, the lens of “questionable doubt.”

When a person is set in their pride, they refuse to believe the truth even if it is staring them right in the face. Realize that you are human and make mistakes. “To err is human.”  It’s okay to make mistakes! We all make them! Don’t let pride be the cause of the destruction of familial relationships because you are too proud to admit you were wrong or that your religion might be teaching abusive and twisted doctrines. Admit that you made a mistake in following the abusive dogmas and rules and don’t beat yourself up over it. Admit to yourself that your children may have been negatively impacted as a result of the religious teachings, rules, and standards.  Accept responsibility for the schisms with your famiy members. Then, forgive yourself and ask your children for their forgiveness. You will know by their reaction to your apology if they were impacted negatively. You will know by their reaction if they are harboring hurt, anger, and bitterness toward you because of it.

WHAT MY HUSBAND AND I DID

The first thing my husband and I did was to admit we were wrong.

  • We were wrong in how we were treating each other and responding to each other. We apologized to each other and made a commitment to change.
  • We were wrong in raising our children in a fundamentalist religion.
  • We were wrong in how we treated our children as a result of the teachings, rules, mindsets, and attitudes we were taught by the church leaders.
  • We admitted to ourselves the “root cause” of our relationship problem –  religious teaching was entirely responsible for the schism in the relationship between us, as husband and wife. It affected how we treated each other and responded to each other in given situations. So, we acknowledged to each other and ourselves that we were harmed and our thinking contaminated. We just didn’t know to what extent yet.
  • We admitted to ourselves that we were fully responsible for any schism in relationship between us and our children. They had no choice in being raised in a fundamentalist religion! Just as the teachings affected our response, attitudes, and behaviors, it probably affected theirs too.

Not only did we admit it to ourselves, we admitted it to our children. We went out and bought each of them flowers and a gift, sat them down, and with genuine tears of remorse, apologized for raising them the way we did. We apologized for OUR behavior over the years toward them. We PROMISED them we would change; promised them WE would get better; promised them WE would never go back to the way we were. We took full RESONSIBILITY for any hurt, anger or bitterness they might be holding against us. It was OUR fault, not theirs. We did NOT give excuses. We did NOT place blame on the religious teachings even though they were the root cause of the problem.  That day, we did an about face and completely changed. For the ones still at home, it was like culture shock, but in a good way.

I cannot tell you the tears that flowed between them and us when we did this. It was like releasing a pressure cooker lid for some of them. We realized for the first time in our lives that some of our children WERE carrying a huge load of hurt and bitterness toward us. We had no idea!  It was so heartbreaking and eye-opening at the same time.  Did all our children believe us when we said all these things? No. We had one that didn’t believe us right away.

Our oldest lived 1500 miles away when we did this. So, we did this with him when he came back to visit. He needed time to watch, listen, and evaluate whether or not we really did change; that we really meant what we said. He took our apology with a grain of salt.  It took almost three years for him to finally believe that we were not the same parents anymore.  While this was painful for my husband and me emotionally, we knew that it was something we had to accept. He didn’t live at home with us, so of course it would take longer for him to decide if we were for real or not. He wasn’t here to see our day to day living. We did not let this stop our growth. We continued to change and grow while he watched and tested.

Did he test us? Absolutely! He tried to push every button he knew of to get us to react like we used to. While we were changing and growing, he was trying to prove we hadn’t changed at all.  He baited us and accused us often to see how we would respond. Did we fall for it? Every now and again, Yes.  He had so much hurt and anger pent up against us that he needed time; and, he also needed to express that hurt. He vented his hurt and anger a number of times when he would visit us, or we, him. These are some of the most painful and heartbreaking memories of the recovery process because they pierced us and hurt us. Was it his fault? No. It was our fault. We accepted it. We continued to apologize. We worked through it. We never stopped loving him and continued to support him. Sometimes, we have to endure the pain for a while before we see the growth and change. We must remember that.   Today, we are so very proud of the man our son has become and the relationship we now have. We are also proud of our other children as well. All of them have continued to grow and now understand that humility and exercising unconditional love is the key to happiness and success, not religion and rules. They also understand fully that you can walk with God without religion around and that, sometimes, religion gets in the way of a genuine relationship with Him and each other.

It takes TIME and EFFORT to UNDO the brainwashing, instilled habits, and old beliefs. Did we eventually overcome and conquer the old ways? YES! Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

We had to keep in mind that our children would experience a wide array of emotions from the extraction we made from the abusive religion and its environment. It was vital, however, that we did not criticize, condemn, or place blame on them during their healing process. We, as parents, were responsible for raising them in a cult-like and abusive religion! We took responsibility for it. We decided to help them heal and recover by showing love, patient endurance and, by accepting responsibility. On the other hand, we didn’t beat ourselves up over it. Accepting responsibility does not mean we continue to beat ourselves over the head with negative self talk!  We have to find a balance. We had to learn not only to forgive others, but ourselves. No negative self talk allowed! We are all human. We all mess up! What’s most important is that you LEARN from your mistakes.

The younger children were so much more resilient than our young adult children when it came to forgiving and moving forward. Younger children want to make things right with their parents immediately, therefore they are more likely to forgive and move forward than young adults.

It was our older children that needed time and expression.  When they unloaded their feelings on us, we listened and sincerely apologized. We tried really hard to not fight back, argue, or place blame on them when they did this. We tried really hard to not give excuses for our behavior. We understood that this was not what they needed. They needed to release the hurt and anger.  They needed to know we understood their feelings and that their feelings were being validated by us. We had to realize their perception of us was their “truth” whether we believed it to be right or not. We accepted their truth! We let them know we were sorry every time they expressed it. Our children needed to know we believed them, supported them, and loved them. Most of all, they need to know we were genuinely sorry. Going through this was very painful for all of us.

Now, let me say something important here: Sometimes our children can really press our buttons and make it easy to fall back into self-protect mode where we find ourselves in a full blown argument. If you do, don’t let it derail you. Just work harder on not going to that place the next time you are confronted by them for things in their past that you did that hurt them.

I warn you ahead of time that your children will place blame on you. Accept it and apologize. Placing any blame back on them or anyone else, any excuses at all for your behavior, will shut them down and stunt their growth and recovery. You are dealing with their “truth.” It will be different from yours.  If we cannot as parents accept someone else’s truth without placing blame, giving excuses, or getting angry, then we will never have the fullness of relationship with our children. There will always be an underlying “seed of hurt and contention” that will continually rear its head.

Eventually, our children came to the realization that we were manipulated and controlled by the cult teachings; that those teachings affected them the way they did. At the point when this realization hit them, was the point we started seeing the most progress and change in our relationship with them. It’s one thing to come to this realization for yourself, but when your children finally grasp this truth, it is life and relationship changing!

On the flip side of this, let me say that you should not allow your adult children to continually heap abuse onto you. Use some wisdom here. If all they want to do is attack you repeatedly, and live in the past, back away from them. Set boundaries and do not allow them to cross them.  Discussion is okay, attacking is NOT okay. Distance yourself and allow them to find healing on their own while you work on your healing. Don’t allow their anger and bitterness to sabotage your progress. Fix yourself FIRST; then, you will be better able to help them and be what they need you to be in their healing process. Remember, sometimes just seeing the change in you from a distance can affect a positive change in them.

Let me say something important here.  Enlisting the aid of a professional can sometimes be the BEST avenue for recovery from religious abuse in all its forms (See my blog article, Religious Abuse – What Exactly Is It?). While I did not utilize this step, many others do and it has made all the difference in their recovery. Find a professional counselor, outside of the cult, that deals specifically with cult survivors and/or religious and sexual abuse survivors – especially if the child has been physically or sexually abused in any way! Do not take them to a church counselor, pastor, or other person who is connected with the religious sect you are escaping from!  Do not take them to a pastor or church counselor of a different religious sect! These are usually not licensed professionals who are trained in dealing with RELIGIOUS abuse in all its forms. You must enlist the help of a licensed professional who knows what they are doing. When a child has been abused by “religion,” the worst thing you can do is force them to be “counseled” by a religious leader. The harm done can be irreparable!

Also, let me say that sexual and physical abuses have lasting effects.  Don’t think that children can deal with them on their own, they can’t!  That is why chemical dependency is very high among survivors. Suicide rates are also high.  Don’t use the excuse you cannot afford it. There are many services out there that are free. Find them by searching on the internet! Your children are worth it. If we as parents can sacrifice for the things the church wanted us to do, we can sacrifice for our children to get them the help they need.

During all this, be very careful not to spew out all the religious poison you will be vomiting up, onto your children. Do, however, share new knowledge and truths with them along the way. I continue to share with my children what I learn and this makes for some very valuable discussions.  I often turn to my children for their input and advice. I treat them as the adults they are and as the individuals they are.

I hope this step that we used in healing and recovery is helpful. If you can go through this step and accept responsibility and truth, the journey to recovery will be much better. Stay tuned for the next step in this series where I will give specific sources to aid in the reprogramming and recovery process.

More LIES We are TAUGHT to Believe

  • lieswebelieve2“God cannot use me. My life is a mess.”
  • “God cannot use me. I am not good enough.”
  • “God cannot use me. I am not strong enough.”
  • “God cannot use me. I have been sexually assaulted.”
  • “God cannot use me. I have been sex trafficked.”
  • “God cannot use me. I am a victim of incest.”
  • “God cannot use me. I drink alcohol.”
  • “God cannot use me. I don’t go to church.”
  • “God cannot use me. My faith is too small.”
  • “God cannot use me. I suffer from mental illness.”
  • “God cannot use me. I am depressed.”
  • “God cannot use me. I have a chemical imbalance and have to take meds.”
  • “God cannot use me. I am too sinful.”
  • “God cannot use me. I suffer from panic attacks.”
  • “God cannot use me because. . . (You fill in the excuse.)

There are multitudes of people who believe they cannot be used of God because of their failures, shortcomings, sins, abuses, etc.  What’s worse is that many even believe God is angry at them because of these things and his wrath abides on them. May I say that God does not react to us the same way we react to each other?

From early on in one’s Christian development, church leaders instill in us that we need to live holy and separate from the world. They also place an unreasonable expectation on one’s own personal faith and standards.  We are expected to have a very strong trust and faith in God no matter what happens to us or our families.  If we waiver the slightest bit in that faith, then we are told we are sinning against God and he is angry with us. This is a LIE. May I remind everyone that Jesus did not tell Peter he was sinning when his faith waned and he began to sink into the water. He reached out to him instead and showed Peter love and compassion by pulling him back up. God will reach out to us too, in our time of need – when our faith is small. He won’t condemn or punish us. Wavering or small faith is not a sin! It opens the door for God to show how great and wonderful he is. Weaknesses are not sin, they are avenues for God to show himself mighty in our lives.

The religious tell us those who suffer from emotional and mental disorders lack faith in God;  they are told they are sinning against God. This is a LIE. It is one of the most damaging lies that can be told to someone suffering in this way. We must remember that God made the blind man blind so that his power could be manifested. Religion told him he was born blind because of sin. It was not the blind man’s faith that healed him. It had nothing to do with his faith or lack thereof. He was not blind because of sin. The blind man was born blind to manifest God’s power.  We must understand that God doesn’t rain judgment and wrath down upon the weak, weary, down-trodden, and broken. He extends love, compassion and grace. Don’t listen to religious leaders who tell you otherwise. If you suffer from emotional and mental disorders, it is an avenue for God to show himself in your life. It is not sin and God is not angry with you.

Because we fall short of religion’s standards, we are ridiculed, chastised, and looked down upon by those who believe their faith is stronger than ours. These holier-than-thou, self righteous people do everything in their power to instill guilt in us for not adhering to their set of rules and standards. Sadly, we are judged by our weaknesses instead of succored and extended love and grace to help us grow in spite of our weaknesses. Genuine Christian love is more interested in helping us GROW and MATURE than interested in forcing us to conform to religious rules and conditions. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is Long-suffering and gentle. Love is interested in benefiting others, not self. Love does not label, attack, slander, call names, or abuse, to force conformity. Genuine love, when extended to us, wants to encourage us, lift us up, gently teach us, and coax us along in order for that growth and maturity to happen.  Love will not give us an ultimatum – do as I say or God will punish you and we will too!

If we do not follow religion’s rules, dogmas and precepts during that growth:

  • We are shunned.
  • We are labeled (backsliders, rebellious, bad influences, worldly, haters, unsaved, and on and on. The labels placed on those who do not conform to religion’s rules are too numerous to list.)
  • We are told we are going to hell.
  • We are gossiped about.
  • We are harassed.
  • We are slandered.
  • We are guilted.
  • We are called names.
  • We are physically harmed (women and children)
  • We are the recipient of destructive mind games.
  • This list can go on and on.

Religion says to us that in order for God to truly use us in doing great things we must:

  • “Separate ourselves from the world.”
  • “We must not drink, smoke, or dance.”
  • “We cannot cuss.”
  • “We cannot wear certain clothing styles.”
  • “We must memorize scripture.”
  • “We must be chaste, monogamous, or celibate.”
  • “We cannot be divorced.”
  • “We must attend every church function.”
  • “We must serve in a ministry of the church.”
  • “We must give our life to God in service to the church.”
  • “We must give our money to God through the church.”
  • “We must go out and ‘win’ souls to Christ as a member of a church.”
  • “If we can’t win them, cut them off, or destroy them,”

The reality is this:  It is through our weaknesses God can show his power; through our imperfections God can be glorified. Through our sin, God can show us He is God. God uses flawed people to bring his purposes to fruition.  Don’t believe the lies you are told. We all can be used of God – saved and unsaved. For whatever reason, the religious do not believe this. They are looking at outward appearances (works), but God is looking at your heart and motives. Your character, motives, and how you treat others are more important to God than works of righteousness done for him.

When we admit to being weak, flawed and insufficient, it enables us to fully understand that it is not about US, it is all about God working through us to do great things. No matter our situation, no matter our religious affiliation, no matter our abuses suffered, it is all about God and what he can do through us.  It is not about the church. It is not about Christianity. It is not about denomination. When we treat others with the same compassion, acceptance, grace and love God has extended to us, we are being used whether we realize it or not; whether we have faith or not.

God accepts us where we are and works from there to help us grow toward Him. He is very long-suffering and patient toward us during the process. God extends to us his loving hand to guide us no matter how long the process takes. You see, God knows we will mess up. God knows we will make mistakes that will get us off track. But he is ever faithful to gently lead us along until we get back on track, mature, and become like Him – loving, kind, caring, patient, long-suffering, humble and gentle. This is true maturity.

Religious leaders expect us to change immediately and PROVE ourselves to THEM in order to receive their hand of blessing — God doesn’t. We do not have to prove anything to the religious crowd. There are countless multitudes who love their religion and church leaders above God. They want the church’s hand of blessing instead of God’s. As a result, they will follow the church’s rules and commands even if it means shunning, slandering, and spreading hate.

God loves us unconditionally. Let’s all remember that. There is not one single sin we can commit that will separate us from the love of God or his mercy. Every sin ever committed has been paid for. Our sins are remembered no more and God views us through the shed blood of Christ. Our goal in this life, according to God, is to walk humbly, to do justly, and extend to others the same things God has extended to us. In doing so, everyone can be used no matter their situation. We don’t need religiosity for God to use us. All we need is some good old fashioned character – loving-kindness, honesty, ethics, gentleness, humbleness and patience. When we extend these things unconditionally to others, we are mirroring God and God is pleased. By the way, you don’t have to be a ‘Christian’ to mirror God in this way. Anyone can do these things.

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?

silenceShall Women Keep 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.

 

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

The Evil – How to Identify Them

goodorevilOne of the problems religious abuse survivors have voiced over and over again is that the “Church” is full of pedophiles, rapists, misogynists, narcissists and physical and emotional abusers. Repeatedly the roar of the voices of the multitude of the victims of these crimes against humanity, drown out the church’s attempts to defend the evil they hide underneath their façade of righteousness. It’s very hard for those who have been victims of evil to understand they are indeed “victims not just of abuse, but of the Evil.” However, once we have a diagnoses and a name to what has been projected onto us, we can then take the necessary steps to escape the evil.

Let me say the Evil are not those who fill jail cells across the world; howbeit, there are evil people in prison. Evil people surround us. They are professionals, politicians, business owners, parents, employers, religious leaders, friends and neighbors. How can this be? All these people have the ability to gain dominion over us. While some of them may have perpetrated crimes of murder, rape, incest and physical abuses, still others may not be designated as “criminals” because their “crimes” are more subtle. They are criminals in that they commit “crimes” against life and liveliness. They attack the soul by destroying growth, self-worth, self-esteem, autonomy and individuality. They are not always direct with their evil. Their “crimes” are so subtle and covert they cannot clearly be designated as crimes. Those who stay in the presence of evil people will be contaminated and destroyed. The Evil are dangerous. The best thing one can do when faced with evil is to run the other way; get away from it as quickly as you can. But in order to IDENTIFY those who are evil, we need some way of being able to do so.

First, we must put a distinction between evil and ordinary sin. “It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the REFUSAL to acknowledge it (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). According to Dr. Peck, there is a kind of randomness to their destructiveness. Evil people deny responsibility for their evil deeds. However, evil deeds do not an evil person make. Otherwise, we should all be evil, because we all do evil things.

Sinning is defined as “missing the mark.” This means we sin every time we fall short of perfection. Because we can’t be perfect, we are all sinners. We will “routinely fail to do the very best of which we are capable, and with each failure we commit a crime of sorts – against God, our neighbors, or ourselves, if not frankly against the law (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). Everyone sins.

Evil, on the other hand, is different. Evil begins when we deny our lies and abusive actions. The consistency of the sins is what separates evil and sin. While usually subtle, the DESTRUCTIVENESS of evil people is remarkably consistent. This is because those who have “crossed the line” are characterized by their ABSOLUTE refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness. This is why they deny, deny and deny they have done any wrong or harm to others. Instead they place blame.

The poor in spirit do not commit evil. Evil is not committed by people who feel uncertain about their righteousness, who question their own motives, who worry about betraying themselves. The evil in this world is committed by the spiritual fat cats, by the Pharisees of our own day, the self-righteous who think they are without sin because they are unwilling to suffer the discomfort of significant self-examination. . . And it is out of their failure to put themselves on trial that their evil arises. – M. Scott Peck, M.D.

“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 (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).” Not only this, but evil people will use their influence to rally others to their cause of protecting their self-image. We see this consistently throughout the country across all denominations where sexual crimes and abuse are exposed against church leaders. As a result, countless “good” people perpetrate evil on other “good” people even though they have not crossed the line to becoming evil. Or have they? When we see consistency in evil actions being perpetrated, then we can say they have “crossed the line.” Many have crossed the line.

Take a simple example of a six-year old boy who asks his father, “Daddy, why did you call Grandmommy a bitch?” “I told you to stop bothering me,” the father roars. “Now you’re going to get it. I’m going to teach you not to use such filthy language. I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap. Maybe that will teach to clean up what you say and keep your mouth shut when you’re told.” Dragging the boy upstairs to the soap dish, the father inflicts this punishment on him. In the name of “proper discipline” evil has been committed. – M. Scott Peck, M.D.

This example is very common in religious circles. Many religious leaders teach that washing a child’s mouth out with soap is perfectly permissible in order to teach the child not to say certain words or, voice their displeasure, or for questioning authority, rules and doctrine. Without even realizing it, good people are taught to do evil things to the vulnerable who have no voice in anything that happens to them. Not only this, the evil teach good people how to become evil and, even believe the evil they perpetrate, is right.  In the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult I came out of, we were taught to “break the child’s will.” We were instructed to spank them for every infraction, CONSISTENTLY! This “breaking of the child’s will” could start as an infant!  This is evil and it is perpetrated consistently in this sect by seemingly good people.

Parents have complete dominion over children. This puts children as the number one targets of evil. As a result, “when a child is grossly confronted by significant evil in its parents, it will most likely misinterpret the situation and believe that the evil resides in itself. Add to this fact that evil people, refusing to acknowledge their own failures, actually desire to project their evil onto others, and it is no wonder that children will misinterpret the process by hating themselves. (Peck)” This is why children suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. This is why they attempt suicide, run away from home, or lean toward alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms.

To children – even adolescents—their parents are like gods. The way their parents do things seems the way they SHOULD be done. Children are seldom able to objectively compare their parents to other parents. They are not able to make realistic assessments of their parents’ behavior. Treated badly by its parents, a child will usually assume that it is bad. If treated as an ugly, stupid second-class citizen, it will grow up with an image of itself as ugly, stupid and second-class. Raised without love, children come to believe themselves unlovable. We may express this as a general law of child development: Whenever there is a major deficit in parental love, the child will, in all likelihood, respond to that deficit by assuming itself to be the cause of the deficit, thereby developing an unrealistically negative self-image.—M. Scott Peck, M.D.

Another indication of the evil is the way they are influenced by raw power. When an evil person has power or dominion over others, they are only interested in controlling them. This control causes the evil to neglect the needs, desires and wants of others. It also causes them to treat others disrespectfully; not allowing for their opinions, thoughts and desires to be voiced. The evil will sacrifice good people to protect their self-image AND in order to maintain CONTROL. This is why questioning rules and dogmas is taboo in churches with evil leadership. The evil want blind obedience and unquestionable loyalty. Those who do not meet these criteria are sacrificed in the most vicious and humiliating ways. Many do not recover from the evil projected onto them when they are scapegoated and cast off.

Since the evil, deep down, feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad. They 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. The father (in the example above) perceived the profanity and uncleanliness as existing in his son and took action to cleanse his son’s “filthiness.” Yet we know it was the father who was profane and unclean. The father projected his own filth onto his son and then assaulted his son in the name of good parenting (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).

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 for their evil behavior and words.

Strangely though, evil people also attempt to destroy evil in others. But instead of trying to do this, they should be trying to destroy the sickness and evil within themselves. The evil are quick to judge sin and sinners and condemn them to hell. They are quick to isolate themselves and their families from others so they can have complete control over their families. They are quick to take action against those that speak out about their abusers and abuses within the church. They are quick to inflict physical punishment or harm to those that disagree with their beliefs, lifestyles and/or do not follow the rules. The EVIL also kill in God’s name.

“The evil are completely dedicated to preserving their self-image of perfect holiness. They are continually engaged in an effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity and righteousness. The evil dress well, go to work on time, pay their taxes, and outwardly look like good people. “The words “image,” “appearance,” and “outwardly” are crucial to understanding the morality of the evil. They intensely desire to appear good. Their “goodness” is all on a level of pretense. It is a lie (Peck).” They cannot and will not look within themselves at the evil they commit and project onto others. They only see themselves as “righteous” and others as “sinners.”

Because the evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable. 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.

. . . . . click here to continue

Are You Good or Evil?

zombieSometimes it is easy for people to commit Evil and not even be aware of it. There are countless people that harass, character assassinate, stalk and verbally abuse people who step forward to report their abuses at the hands of clergy. There are countless Christians who do the same to those who expose lies in doctrine or teaching. What they do not realize is that they are committing Evil in God’s name. These two things should never go together! God and Evil are opposites. Let me explain.

What many do not understand is the working definition of EVIL. “Evil is in opposition to life. It is that which opposes the life force. It has, in short, to do with killing (M.Scott Peck).” When I say this, I am not necessarily talking about murder as we understand murder. Evil can also kill the SPIRIT. Some attributes of human life are growth, autonomy, will, self-respect, dignity, self-worth. It is possible to kill or try to kill one or all of these attributes in a person without physically hurting them. This is done through psychological, emotional and spiritual abuses; or, religious indoctrination through mind control, information control and behavior modification techniques. Let me say emphatically this: Any belief or teaching that causes a person to perpetrate Evil is, itself Evil. It’s fruit will be Evil. The end result will be “soul murder” for the victim.

Religious indoctrination can employ this “soul murder” in order to make others controllable. Soul murder fosters dependency on leadership and the religious system and discourages a person’s capacity to think for himself. This prevents questioning, originality, autonomy and unpredictability in people. It produces “zombies” that are easily managed and told what to do and what to believe. The victims of “soul murder” are innumerable and God will hold religious leaders accountable for each “zombie” they create. Then, these “dead” people are used as pawns to further EVIL by attacking and killing others “in His name.” Yet these “dead” individuals do not know they are dead! They do not realize that their life force has been sucked out of them and replaced with Evil. They don’t know they are Evil because they are zombies. They are only interested in creating other zombies!

Evil then, can be said to be a force that resides inside of us that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness promotes life and liveliness. Some think that because they go to church, live a good life, are separated unto God or, know scripture that they cannot perpetrate Evil. This is so far from reality and truth! These “Zombies for God” go about killing the souls of those trying to escape the EVIL who are already broken, abused and wounded. The cycle never ends.

Evil is in opposition to God. God wants us to not just have life. He wants us to live life ABUNDANTLY. Satan, however, is a murderer. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning.” “Evil has nothing to do with natural death; it is concerned only with unnatural death, with the murder of the body or spirit (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).”

God is love. UNCONDITIONAL love promotes healing. Wherever there is this kind of love one can find healing.  Wherever one finds unconditional love there will be peace, joy, liveliness and contentment. Evil is deadly. Wherever there is Evil one will find brokenness, pain, depression, anxieties and fear. There will be a loss of dignity, autonomy and self-worth. It leads to death.

By hurling insults at victims, by harassing them, by stalking them, by calling them all manner of names, Satan has just effectively used you to do his will – to KILL. To kill the life force in a person is the worst possible crime against a human being. It is the greatest sin of all. Physical death at least puts an end to suffering. Soul murder does no such thing. It is either done to manipulate and control others or, it is done with the specific intent to cause more suffering and pain far into the future. Life, then, has no joy. Life is painful to get through. Physical death then becomes preferable to life.

Evil is a “choice.” One can CHOOSE to love others and lift them up in order to promote healing and autonomy as human beings. Or, one can CHOOSE to degrade, accuse and hurl insults in order to KILL their soul. If you truly want victims of abuse to HEAL, then stop the verbal abuse, the accusations, the name-calling, the harassment, the stalking. By showering them with UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and support, you will then enable them to heal. Anything less than this is EVIL.

Suffering as a part of Salvation?

inquisition picOne of the areas of interest for me, as a student of early church history, is the Emperor Constantine. What this emperor did by merging pagan and Christian concepts, was to create a man-made religious “system” that would take the world by storm. This new brand of Christianity was able to give Constantine a position that allowed complete domination and control of the populace through secular strength and power. The corruptions that ensued as a result of his leadership, helped to bring his agenda for control of the masses to fruition. The religious system developed, for the first time in human history, merged secular strength with religious control. This one man was responsible for the mutilation and murder of hundreds of millions of people “in the name of God” for the salvation of the world through Christ. Most of those mutilated and murdered were women and children. Because of his new brand of Christianity, the world and its view of women, was forever changed. Inequality and oppression toward women proliferated and emerged victorious through force.

Throughout Christendom today, countless multitudes have no idea that the brand of Christianity they serve is a by-product of this merger. Through the process of time, corruptions and mutations have occurred within this system that have set up mere men with the ability to sway governments, incite people to violence, and affect secular laws. The power and control wielded through “religion” is a phenomenon that very few talk about. I talk about this merger in my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse.

“The cross signifies the problem: When suffering is seen to serve a universal plan of salvation, its particular character as tragic and evil is always diminished.” – Constantine’s Sword, James Carroll, pg 6

Because of this merger between government and religion, those in control throughout the religious system had the power to confiscate wealth, the power to put anyone to death, the power to rape and torture – all in God’s name for the salvation of the soul of the victim. From the time of Constantine till now, this religious system that was created has reached its tentacles into every era throughout history with its evil. What is the evil? The mindset and/or belief that all this suffering, meant to bring about the salvation of others, was necessary and good. Does the end justify the means? What is it’s fruit? Let’s look at one example and see.

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(Excerpt from my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse.)

The Inquisition of 1320

During the Inquisition in 1320, when Pope John XXII formalized the persecution of witchcraft, women were the first target to be persecuted. In order to rid Europe of sorcery, millions of women were accused of being witches and were sent to torture chambers, burnt at the stake, mutilated, sexually abused or drowned. Since celibacy for priests was put into law by the church over 360 years earlier, this opened a huge door to sexually deviant or perverse priests. Countless numbers of priests used their confessional, to threaten female penitents with the “Holy Inquisition” if they refused to have sex with them (News1675).

In the Inquisition, pain inflicted on sexual organs was very prevalent, another clear sign of the sexual obsession brought on by the perversions of celibacy. This sexual obsession quickly grew to the point where a woman lived in fear that, out of the blue, she would be accused by some nameless wretch of being a witch; since accusation equaled guilt, that woman could expect a slow, torturous death at the hands of sexually deviant celibate priests.

 

This statement is historic fact, found in the official document of the Roman Catholic “Holy” Inquisition, “The Malleus Maleficarum”. (News1675)

The Inquisitors who wrote the Malleus Maleficarum, “The Hammer of the Witches,” explained that women are more likely to become witches than men:

 Because the female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh than men; because being formed from a man’s rib, they are ‘only imperfect animals’ and ‘crooked’ whereas man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged. (Ellerbe)

 Over the period that the Inquisition lasted, over 75 million Protestants lost their lives. King James I estimated that the ratio of women to men who “succumbed” to witchcraft was twenty to one. Of those formally persecuted for witchcraft, between 80 to 90 percent were women (Ellerbe, 1995).

Many styles of torture were invented during the inquisition so as to inflict the most horrific pain on the victims without killing them. The worst of these were used on those accused of witchcraft. Millions of innocent people were tortured and killed during this time. The Inquisitors followed the procedures set forth by the Dominican Monks of Pope Innocent VIII. During the early stages of the Inquisition those accused were simply urged to confess. The women were usually stripped naked, shaved, pricked with needles and knives for insensitive spots and then examined for marks of the Devil up close and personal. Before the torture started the victim was informed of what was about to happen. This gave them an opportunity to confess to whatever the inquisitors wanted them to. If anyone refused to talk even under the torture, they were accused of being aided by the Devil. While being tortured, another person was on hand to record anything that was said by the victim. Each round of torture became worse and worse (News1675).

Some women, says a person who was present, having been surprised in the church, were stripped of their garments, and the barbarians, making them join hands as for a dance, compelled them, by severely pricking them with their daggers and pikes, to march round the castle, amidst shouts of laughter and outrages, of which they were the objects. After this they took them, already covered with blood, and flung them, one after another, from the top of the rock upon which the castle was built. Many others were taken elsewhere and sold . . . A young mother, who was fleeing across the corn-fields with her infant in her arms, was seized and violated by these soldiers, or rather brutes, whilst she still continued to hold her babe pressed to her breast. An old woman, whose age secured her from similar outrage, was treated by them in a way which insulted both humanity and their own religion. They shaved her in the form of a cross, and having decked her with some worthless ornaments, dragged her through the streets, chanting in derision, after the manner of priests. This took place at Lauris, on the way between Cabrieres and Avignon. The procession arrived where there was an oven ready for baking bread, and the soldiers, pushing their victim forward with their weapons, said to her, “Go in there, you old damned wretch!” The poor woman was going in without resistance, so much had she been tormented, when those who had heated the oven objected, and prevented her from being thrown into it . . . Amidst such brutalities, a thousand times repeated, under different and more revolting forms, the army came to Cabrieres. (Muston, 1875 pp. 66-67)

 The exact methods of torture varied from place to place. The rack was used. Horsewhipping was used. A sharp iron fork was used to mangle breasts. Red hot pincers were used to tear off flesh. Red hot irons were inserted up vaginas and rectums. A device was used to tear out fingernails and then needles were shoved into the quicks of the nail bed. Special instruments were used to lacerate flesh and crush bones. They crushed fingers and toes. Acid was poured on victims. Limbs were immersed into pots of boiling oil or water. Eyes were gouged out with irons. Victims were set on fire. Water was poured down the throat of some victims with a knotted cloth and then jerked out, tearing up the bowels. There was no limit to the types of cruelty and torture used. Anything was allowed during the Inquisition. The inquisitors were sadistic and merciless. Even if a victim confessed, they were still subjected to more torture. Victims were sent to the gallows or burned at the stake. They were flogged, flayed alive, burned, branded or had their tongues cut out. Many were buried alive. By the seventeenth century, millions had died including men, women, children and babies (Inq11).

But how shall I describe the scene which took place in the church? It was the most horrible and sacrilegious scene of all; for it was there that a great number of the women and young girls of the place had taken refuge. The soldiers rushed upon them, stripped them, committed the most shocking outrages upon them, and then some were thrown down from the steeple; others were taken away to be still further abused. Pregnant women might be seen with their bellies ripped up, and the bloody fruit of their womb fallen from them. Mutilated bodies, still breathing, lay scattered before the porch. The advocate Guerin, who was present there, said in his deposition, “I think I saw four or five hundred poor souls of women and children killed in that church.” (Muston, 1875 p. 68)

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Because of the power and control that the church gained from Constantine’s merger of government with religion, the outrages upon humanity defied conscience and flew in the face of the God they claimed to serve. For centuries into the future, all this EVIL was perpetrated in the name of God for the salvation of the world. Millions suffered. Millions died. Millions were mutilated, burned, buried alive, and sexually abused. Inequality was ushered into the world on a level that was so massive that it has affected the mindsets of men everywhere for centuries; thus, paving the way for a worldwide culture of domestic abuse, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, rape, incest, emotional abuse and pedophilia of women and young girls across the world from then until now.

As a further result of what Constantine implemented, the religious leaders of his brand of Christianity began to change religious texts to point women into positions of servitude to men. The culmination of these changes was the production of a Bible translation that gave control of “religion” to men and men alone. It was the first translation to take all the corruptions of the manuscripts by men and use them to dominate and control women and point them into positions of servitude to men. All the while, this translation also gave these men the permission to oppress and abuse women, in the name of God. Once again, EVIL and suffering perpetrated as corrupt and base religious leaders used their influence and power to gain greater control. The difference this time was that now they had it in writing! Because King James I decided to give the world HIS translation of the Bible, which is specifically designed to POINT women into positions of servitude to men, as well as instill fear into the minds and hearts of the people through the concept of Hell, century after century it has been the root cause of the attitudes in men and young boys that lead to abuse of women. Century after century it has been the root cause of antisemitism, hate crimes and terrorism throughout the world.

It is time for “religion” to be wiped clean and for the abuses against women and children to stop. The fruit of male dominance and leadership has been war, murder, violence and hate throughout history. Equality is key in breaking through the evils and stopping the suffering and abuses. Equality in religion is key in setting right what man has corrupted that affects half the human race abusively – women. The time for this change to come, is now.

Honor Killings – Worldwide Index of Religious Abuse

RELIGIOUS ABUSE encompasses many religions  and religiously run systems across the world. It is not a problem that is just happening within U.S. borders.  Within each religion the abuses vary but, one facet of religious abuse crosses all denominational and systemic barriers; that facet is that the majority of the abused are women and children. Women and children have no protections from these religious abuses because RELIGIOUS LEADERS have been allowed to have free reign in establishing the rules and guidelines that followers must adhere to for their respective religions and/or religiously run systems. They use man-made religious writings of the early centuries to enforce their dogmas and rules on the present culture and times. What many do not realize is that these writings were written for the culture and times of their day, not for today’s time and culture.  God is a God of TODAY, not yesterday.  And, most religious writings have been tampered with and changed by religious leaders and scribes throughout history to point people in the direction of their preconceived opinions and ideals. These changes have been made in order to bring women and children under complete and total domination of men for sexual exploitation.

For centuries, religious leaders have used BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION, THOUGHT REFORM and INFORMATION CONTROL to bring about conformity to man-made rules. Those that do not conform have been murdered and/or mutilated.  As a result of this free reign across the world for centuries, inequality exists in the world whereby women and children are the primary targets of the abuses meted out. To escape the abuses can mean any or all of the following for an abuse victim: shaming, shunning, financial destruction, labeling, mutilation and/or death.

HONOR KILLINGS are a very strategic part of certain religions and religious systems; strategic, because it has one goal – to CONTROL by FORCE and FEAR women and children in order to prevent them from exercising personal liberty and autonomy as human beings.  Because religious beliefs are interwoven into civil laws in many Muslim countries, women and children are left unprotected. The abuses are rampant and allow men and women free reign to murder, mutilate and maim in the name of “honor” and “God.” Any “perceived” wrongdoing for a woman or child could be a cause for death, burning or mutilation. It is time for people to see the reality of the horrible RELIGIOUS ABUSES hidden within a system that is designed to proliferate a male-dominated society where the value of women and children are worthless. Before we dive into this extensive list of murders, mutilations and attempted murders, let’s learn a little about how Islam operates and what it is. The following video will help the reader to understand how an abusive religion or religiously controlled system can infiltrate, spread and take over whole nations.

WHAT ISLAM IS NOT!

For more articles and videos on how Islam is affecting America and the reality of what is taking place, click HERE.

The following indexes need to be viewed by EVERY AMERICAN. These reflect a TRUE picture of the FRUIT of this system. After these indexes, will be some pictures of Islamic Religious Abuses perpetrated upon women and children. WARNING: These pictures are graphic!!!

This index is provided by WikiIslam and can be accessed HERE . This Index is not updated weekly on this BLOG like the Clergy Abuse Archive is. You MUST access WikiIslam to see new updates added to this list.

linedividerThis is by no means a comprehensive list as many honor killings are covered up just as U.S. religious sects cover up their abuses.  The reality is that RELIGIOUS zealots and fundamentalists can be dangerous. Those religions and/or systems that harbor these abusive zealots and fundamentalists, need to be identified and the populous made aware of them. It doesn’t matter what people say about their religion, if women and children are being abused, suppressed, oppressed, strictly controlled and harmed, then we will know them by their fruit, not their words.  Any silence on this issue from those within the religion or system, makes them complicit in the crimes committed. Anything less than 100% support in stopping these crimes and changing laws to protect women and children, makes them complicit in the crimes.

Please share these indexes with everyone you know so they can see how abusive this religiously controlled system can be. Share the pictures as well. It’s time for our eyes, as well as the eyes of peace-loving Muslim people, to be opened to the truth about the dangers of this religious system’s dark side. Let me say that EVERY religion has a dark side. The dark side of this one just happens to be the LEGAL right to burn, mutilate and murder women and children. These indexes are provided for reference purposes only.

Honor Killings in Muslim Majority Nations

Honor Killings and Violence in Non-Muslim Nations

Honor Related Violence or Danger to life in Muslim Majority Nations

 linedividerThe following photos are only 30 of the countless photos of mutilation and murder of women and children that I have found on the internet. Many of the photos could not be put here because of the graphic nature of the sexual mutilation done to the women by Muslim men because they were non-Muslim women.  It is time for American Citizens to open their eyes to Sharia and the cruelty and murder it condones in the name of “Honor.” There have been many honor killings here in the U.S. As Americans, it is time for us to take the blinders off and see the danger that ALL religions can pose when there is no escape from them and their abuses. When a religion is completely male dominated and it influences laws toward male dominance and control, women and children will become the targets of the worst crimes against humanity; especially sexual crimes and pedophilia.

WARNING!!!     WARNING!!!     WARNING!!!     WARNING!!!

GRAPHIC PICTURES!!!     GRAPHIC PICTURES!!!

WARNING!!!     WARNING!!!     WARNING!!!     WARNING!!!

GRAPHIC PICTURES!!!     GRAPHIC PICTURES!!!

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Picking Up the Pieces and Moving On

Picking Up the Pieces and Moving On

By John Woods, Survivor of Religious Abuse

This week marked the third anniversary of my exodus from Christianity.  There has been much healing during this year, especially over the past three months.  I am now free to explore all of my beliefs in greater depth, without fear, and without a need for confirmation of their validity.  As Robert Plant so eloquently put it, “there are two paths you can go by,” and I chose the one that emphasizes the good and concentrates on now.

About the only thing that I have retained from the past is my belief in a Higher Power, a Divine Source that guides and provides, that watches over all of us with nothing but pure love.  Out of habit, I still call this presence God, but find myself addressing it more and more as Divine Spirit.  I have indulged in a life long interest in Angels and have been learning more about each of them, as well as the Archangels, and how each of them play a role in my life.  I have long believed that there are “angels on this earth, masquerading as humans” who are in just the right place and right time in my life.  I have even started acknowledging and learning about the “realms of the faeries.”

I have also found that interacting with others who have been through the same journey as I have emerged from, is helpful to both me and to those who are just beginning their way out.  I have met some awesome people, and their stories and support have been invaluable.

I will continue to share stories about those who cause hurt and pain by invoking their beliefs upon others.  While I try to respect the paths of all, that doesn’t mean I will sit back and not protect those who are persecuted.

I will also continue to share items that I feel are uplifting, inspirational and thought provoking.  We all need encouragement along the way, and as Rumi said “we are just walking each other home!”

To Read John’s Story of Abuse: John Wood’s Story

RELIGION – Satan’s Biggest Weapon

Religious BondageI originally wrote this as an outline on August 20, 2006 to teach in the nursing home. To me, it is a testament to the fact that God had already started opening my eyes to how dangerous man-made religion can be in the lives of its followers. Little did I know at that time, when I was teaching this in the nursing home, that God would extract me from the grips of religious bondage to a fundamentalist baptist sect that was abusive toward women and children and set me on a course to do His will in warning others about the dangers that lurk underneath religion’s mantle. Looking back, I am amazed at how much God allowed me to see of the truth and, I am severely disappointed that I ignored it and continued in my bondage. What a sad reality it is to comprehend that I was being shown truth but could not fully understand the seriousness of it due to religious indoctrination and religiously instilled fear.  I have made a few changes and additions to this outline for better clarity and understanding. I sincerely hope that what I am about to cover falls on an open mind and heart that is not blinded by man-made doctrines, rules and religious precepts (the doctrines and commandments of men).

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RELIGION – SATAN’S BIGGEST WEAPON

John 3:1-21 – There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

(3)Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (You mean you cannot CONTROL the Spirit of TRUTH in God’s people just like you cannot control the wind?)

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

(10) Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?  And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (It does NOT say, “That whosoever believeth in the Pope, Pastor, Priest, Rabbi,or any other religious leader, or the Church, should not perish, but have eternal life.”)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (You mean believing in religion, the “man of God” or the “church” won’t save you?)

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (Say it isn’t so! Men’s deeds EVIL?). For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (It doesn’t say that his deeds are perfect, because mankind is sinful. It says that his deeds are wrought in God. There will be many sinners coming to the knowledge of the truth that desire to warn others about the “greatest deception of all.”)

Verse 3 (highlighted above) tells us that we cannot get to heaven unless we are born again of the Spirit of God. Most people do not understand what being born again means. Some people actually think that means going to a man-made church and serving men who call themselves by religious titles.  Verse 10 tells us that Nicodemus, although a religious leader, had no understanding of spiritual things. His RELIGION was keeping him blind to the truth that had the power to save is very soul and set him free from religions bondage. However, he did recognize that Jesus was a ‘teacher come from God’. (verse 2) He was confusing works with faith.  Notice how he addresses Jesus as “Rabbi” and “teacher.”  He understood that the miracles meant that God was with him. However, he was not willing to let go of a LIFETIME of man-made religious dogma, precepts and rules, coupled with religious tradition, and acknowledge Jesus as “Lord.”

The same is true today. Religious people from all walks of life refuse to let go of a lifetime of religion and tradition to embrace the truth. God has given us his spirit to guide and teach us so that “we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.”  Instead, religion has replaced His Spirit with a Pastor, Priest, Rabbi or other religious designation, so that these religious leaders are now leading and guiding God’s people. The Holy Spirit has been SUBSTITUTED. The people have erred and do not even realize it. Because of this, they foster hatred toward those that oppose a wicked religious leader. They persecute, malign and shun those that find the courage to speak the truth and expose the lies and crimes. And, they themselves become secondary abusers complicit in the crimes perpetrated – all because of blindness and refusal to listen when truth is spoken.

(1Co 2:12)  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.

(1Co 2:13)  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

(1Co 2:14)  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

— RELIGION BLINDS ITS FOLLOWERS TO THE TRUTH —

It causes people to turn a blind eye to truth instead seeing and understanding it. The reason for this is clear as we shall see from the up coming passages. The Pastors (religious leaders) have caused their flocks to go astray. God holds religious leaders accountable just as he did the Pharisees. Just as the Pharisees instituted their rules aimed at controlling the people, so Pastors of all denominations have done today. As pastors have built unto themselves financial empires off the backs of the poor, they have fallen to corruption. Power, prestige and money are the root of this corruption. The abuses abound and are well hidden by the church and its leaders. Those confronted with the abuses, turn a blind eye to them and support the abusers. Religious followers cannot see past the titles and labels that religious leaders wear that affect clear thought processes. Therefore they both fall into the ditch and it causes followers to become abusers themselves of those that step forward to speak truth. They have rested their lives, their money, their families and their time in religious leaders and church institutions instead of Christ. They have forgotten their true resting place.

2Ti 4:3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

2Ti 4:4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Jer 50:6  My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds (PASTORS) have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.

— IT TEACHES AS TRUTH, MAN-MADE ORDINANCES AND RULES —

Man-made ordinances and rules fill the churches of all religions. It is not isolated to any particular sect. Countless multitudes believe every word that proceeds from religious leaders within their respective institutions. As a result, they are led astray through corruption and false teaching.

Just for the sake of an example, I would like to take a look at what the Roman Catholic Church teaches it’s priests about the Pope and compare it to what the Word of God says.  What you will notice is that their many rules are based on what MEN SAY Peter is “perceived” to have said or done and not what “Christ” has commanded, said or done. It is also based on man-made religious precepts. This is where corruption rears its head – listening to men and not God. Men can make their own rules in God’s name and force implementation of them. This is exactly what has transpired from the beginning.

In considering this doctrine of the papacy, I will only use the teaching of the church as contained in the dogmatic definitions, the official documents of the ecumenical councils, and the teachings of the Popes. These represent the actual teaching of the church, regardless of what some Catholics believe, what certain priests teach  today, or even what some bishops may have written. The following statements are duly documented.

The acceptance of the authority of the Pope and submission to him is necessary for salvation!

“Furthermore, WE (mere MEN, not God) declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the SALVATION of all men that they submit to the Roman Pontif. [Bull Unam Sanctum of Pope Boniface VIII,1302. The Teaching of the Catholic Church by Neuner and Roos, S.J. p. 204, No.342.] (SUBMIT to a MAN and not GOD?)

The Primacy of the Pope

WE (mere MEN, not God) decree that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy in the whole world, and that this Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and true “Vicar of Christ” head of the whole church and father and teacher of all Christians; that to him in blessed Peter was given by our Lord Jesus Christ the full power of feeding, ruling and governing the universal church as it is contained in the acts of the ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons. [Council of Florence, 1439. Ibid., p. 206, No. 349.] (This is not in scripture anywhere. As a matter of fact, Peter states the opposite about himself in 1 Pet 5:1, 5:3, Acts 10:25)

“If any one, therefore, shall say that blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the Apostles and the visable head of the whole church; or that he directly and immediately received a primacy of honor only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction [right of power] – – let him be anathema [excommunicated and condemned] [Vatican Council I, 1870. Ibid., p. 223, No. 374.]” (God does not imply or command this anywhere in scripture. This is a THREAT aimed at silencing those that speak the TRUTH. See 1 Pet 5:1, 5:3, Acts 10:25)

“Hence WE (mere MEN, not God) teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a superiority of ordinary POWER (Yes, it IS all about POWER, not about God.) over all other churches, and that this POWER of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly Episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of whatever rite or dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters that pertain to faith and morals, but also in those that pertain to discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.” [Ibid., p. 224-225, No. 379] (Well, well…it IS about POWER and CONTROL through SUBMISSION.)

“If then anyone shall say that the Roman Pontiff has merely the office of inspection and direction, but not full and supreme POWER of jurisdiction over the universal church, not only in things pertaining to faith and morals, but also in those things that relate to the discipline and government of the church spread throughout the world; or that he possesses only the principal part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power. . . Let him be excommunicated and condemned!” [Vatican Council I. Ibid., p. 226, No. 382] (MORE FEAR tactics through THREATENINGS.)

Many more quotations could be given from papal decrees, councils and dogmatic statements; but, let’s hear how the dogma of papal infallibility is defined by Pope Pius IX in 1870 at the first Vatican Ecumenical Council:

“Therefore, faithfully adhering to the TRADITION (Not from God. God has no tradition.) received from the beginning of the Christian faith (Says, Who? MEN?), for the glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian peoples, the sacred Council approving (MEN), We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed (Really? DIVINELY REVEALED? – Not by God, Jesus or the Prophets – so this is a lie.):  that the Roman Pontiff, when He speaks ex-cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, by virtue of His supreme apostolic authority He defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church, by the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, is possessed with that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals: and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church.  But if any one which God avert – presume to contradict this our definition – let him be excommunicated and condemned!” [Ibid., p. 229, No. 388] (God says no such things in scripture; so this is a man-made religious dogma aimed at CONTROLLING people through threats and fear.)

Catholic Statements About the Pope

The Pope is usually and formally addressed as: “Most Holy Father.” [See encyclical by Leo XIII as introduction to the Douay version of the Bible.] (Mat 23:9 – And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.)

In the Cardinal’s Oath, Pope Pius X is addressed as: “Our Most Holy Lord.” [From the Article “Scriptures for Roman Catholics,” by Dr. Bartholomew Brewer.] (Now they are placing a mere MAN in the place of Christ and making him Lord. In case you didn’t know this, this is deception. 1Co 8:6 – But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and ONE LORD Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.)

The famous historian Moreri writes: “To make war against the Pope is to make war against God.” [Ibid.] (This is a good way to PROTECT a DECEIVER; through fear of God.)

WHAT POPES SAY OF THEMSELVES [Ibid] 

Leo XIII (mere MAN, not God) (1902) said:

“The supreme teacher in the church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete SUBMISSION and OBEDIENCE of will to the CHURCH (Not God) and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself.” [Ibid.] (Interesting. Another RULE instituted by MEN to bring about UNQUESTIONING obedience and control to the church and a MAN.)

Pope Pius X (mere MAN, not God) stated:

“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but He IS Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of flesh. ‘Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks.” [Ibid] (In this statement, we are told that the POPE is CHRIST. This is DECEIT. He is a mere MAN, not God, placing himself in the place of CHRIST – a SUBSTITUTION – a fake in place of the real.)

Pope Pius XI (mere MAN, not God) once declared:

“You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on the earth.” [Ibid.] (Well, well…another SUBSTITUTION aimed at POWER and CONTROL of People.)

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As stated earlier, there are other religious sects that can be used as examples where man-made doctrines are being taught that go against the Word of God…. and countless multitudes blindly believe they are necessary in order to please God. So, let’s look at the scriptures and see what they really declare.

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— WHAT THE SCRIPTURES DECLARE–

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder . .” 1 Peter 5:1 (You mean he wasn’t a “CHRIST and head of God’s People?”)

“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:3 (Not LORDS over God’s People?)

“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you . .” Acts 14: 14-15. (Even Paul and Barnabas KNEW that no mere MAN should be worshipped nor placed in the position of Christ.)

“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.  But Peter took him up, saying, Stand Up; I myself also am a man.” Acts 10:25. (What! Peter did not demand WORSHIP? You mean he was just a mere MAN and not a God?)

Acts10:25-26 “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven.” Mathew 23:9 (This is self-explanatory.)

In the light of the Holy Scriptures, certain dogmatic definitions and statements on the Pope sound blasphemous!  This his how Religion keeps people blinded to the truth of God’s Word.  Religion keeps people in bondage. Religion makes up its own rules and institutes punishments for going against them. Salvation frees us from this bondage so that we can worship in “Spirit and in truth”. Religion seeks to control people through their many religious rules backed by threats. Those that do not conform, are killed and/or silenced through threats, coercion, harassment, etc. Remember the Reformation and Inquisition – Over 90 million men, women and children were  tortured, mutilated and killed by CHRISTIANS of the Church of Rome under the direction of religious leaders.

Joh 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Joh 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

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Religion usually teaches a works salvation. If you live a good enough life (works), you might make it to heaven.  If you serve in the ministry of the church (works), God will be pleased with you.  If you follow all the church’s rules and precepts, God will bless you abundantly (works).  If you give of your MONEY (works) to the church, God will bless you.

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Here’s what God says:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Tit 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, . .

Heb 6:1  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

(You mean all these works are considered DEAD WORKS?)

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Religion DEMANDS obedience to the MAN-MADE ordinances, dogmas and precepts instead of obedience to God’s Word.  It demands obedience to a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” in order to please God. It demands obedience and loyalty to “the MAN of God” or, the “Religious Institution,”

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God’s Word says:

Mat 15:3 – But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Mar 7:9 – And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Mar 7:13 – Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye (Who are Ye? MEN, usually religious leaders.) have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Col 2:8 – Beware lest any MAN spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

1Pe 1:18  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

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— RELIGION CREATES CONFUSION IN THE HEARTS OF MEN AND WOMEN —

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The masses would prefer to follow anything but the truth. Why?  John 3:20 – “ lest his deeds should be reproved.”

God did not invent religion, man did. Man uses religion to keep people in bondage to an institution instead of setting them free to worship God and obey his will in their lives.  Religion is the biggest weapon used by Satan to keep people blind to the truth and in bondage to men, religious institutions, and religious leaders. Religion propagates HATE toward those that disagree or question the lies being taught. Religion harasses those that expose those lies and/or any abuses. Religion tries to silence the voices of TRUTH that God has placed in the world to WARN others about the biggest DECEPTION of all time – that deception is man-made religions owned and operated by MEN who have corrupted the scriptures and would have all POWER, CONTROL, MONEY and PRESTIGE for themselves. Religion has been murdering and abusing for centuries. Please remember that more than 90 million people lost their lives “in the name of God” during the Reformation and Inquisition. Right now, women and children are suffering at the hands of religion and its leaders across the world.  This is serious. It’s time to wake up and realize the deception. Religion starts wars, murders its own and others, oppresses and abuses women and children setting them up for sexual exploitation, and incites hatred and violence toward those that disagree or expose the lies and abuses. RELIGION IS SATAN’S BIGGEST WEAPON.

Uncovering the Darkness

By Cynthia McClaskey

I am sure many of you may be wondering about this topic that I will be writing about. You may be wondering what exactly IS the DARKNESS?  I realize that this subject matter will be delicate and, will evoke a lot of emotion in people. But, I also understand that many of you may not realize that the subject I will be covering even exists; and if you know it does exist, you may even believe that it could not be possibly happening in your church.  Countless multitudes do not even realize that what I am about to talk about has been going on for centuries and is alive and ongoing today in religious institutions across the globe. As a matter of fact, it has been taking place since the third or fourth century; that’s how long this DARKNESS has been growing.

Before I get started, I would like to tell you about two organizations that are trying to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the DARKNESSG.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and Together We Heal.

Together We Heal works to provide victims of sexual abuse, rape and incest – aka, the DARKNESS with the free professional counseling services they so desperately need in order to begin the healing process. But, they cannot help victims without your donations. A victim’s help is only as available as the funds are to hire these licensed, professional counselors for them. Right now, the link on my blog is set up to fund an account that will help to pay for victims needs and to aid them in recovery and healing. Your tax deductible donations go directly to this fund which goes directly to help victims of this type of abuse. As fast as we get money in, it goes out, because the need is so great and so few people give. Right now, we have ZERO religious organizations donating to help victims of this abuse. Why is that? Answer: Because churches don’t really care about these victims. The love of God must stop short when it comes to victims of abuse, rape, incest and sexual assault (the DARKNESS) in the church.  Not one church has had the genuine Christian character to step out and do the right thing regarding these victims and support Together We Heal’s fund for victims through my blog. They give to missionaries, but not the abused, victimized, raped, tortured, broken and poor that they are responsible for creating.

Religion’s Cell is also a supporter of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). This organization is a legal and professional team whose sole purpose is to defend these victims of sexual abuse and, to educate church congregations on the signs of abuse and how to respond to it in a religious environment. If you can afford to support GRACE through the link on my blog, I can assure you they NEED the funds too. Legal and professional help is not free.

Now, let’ talk about this DARKNESS. It is also known as Religious Abuse. I would like to explain what it is, what it encompasses and how it has affected societies and cultures around the globe. When I am done, you should be able to understand and see the scope and magnitude of the true DARKNESS that lies hidden underneath religion’s mantle.

But, before I get into the subject matter, I would like to give you some excerpts from a few recent news stories and then afterwards, ask everyone a few questions. I am warning you up front that these stories will evoke an emotional response in many of you. But I ask that you be patient with me as I cover these because some of these stories are difficult even for me, to read or listen to. All of these stories are recent, by the way. They are cited on my blog HERE, HERE, HERE AND HERE.

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BIRMINGHAM, AL. Pastor, Richard Shahan, of First Baptist Church arrested for the murder of his wife. A minister nabbed by police on new year’s day moments before trying to get out of the country.

Reena Ninan has the details. Reporter: Richard Shan was an Alabama-based Baptist preacher with a devout following. This morning, he’s accused of murdering his wife.

Arrested New Year’s day trying to board a plane to Germany. I think he was totally shocked when they — pulled him out of line. And detained him.

Reporter: He was nabbed after a customs official recognized his passport. But the pastor’s lawyers said he was traveling to Germany and then Russia to work for a children’s ministry. Once he got to Russia the chances of extraditing him were nil. (abcnews.go.com 1/6/14)

Alabama Pastor Allegedly Killed His Wife

State says murder suspect planned to wed boyfriend

Pastor Arrested and Charged With His Wife’s Murder Just Before He Boarded a Plane Out of the U.S. Video TheBlaze

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MUSCLE SHOALS, AL. Authorities say children’s minister Jeff Eddie told them he had so many sexual experiences with children at his church he could not recall all the times he had done it.

A felony complaint police filed against Eddie, 41, said the Highland Park Baptist Church children’s minister admitted to performing oral sex and masturbating children when Muscle Shoals investigators questioned him Sunday.

Eddie, who was arrested Sunday, is charged with 31 counts of sodomy, 2 counts of possession of child pornography, and 2 counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12.

In the sodomy complaint filed against Eddie, police said the abuse came to light after a church member walked in on Eddie with his hands up a minor’s shirt. One of the victims says Eddie engaged in sex acts with him downstairs in the church’s electrical room at least once a month going back to 2011, when the child was 11 years old. The incidents happened until July of last year, the child said, and then happened twice after that. (waaytv.com, Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 11:24 am | Updated: 9:13 pm, Wed Feb 5, 2014)

New details in minister child sex arrest – Huntsville News WAAYTV

New Details Children’s Minister Facing Sex Abuse Charges, Multiple Victims Confirmed WHNT

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SEDRO-WOOLLEY, WA. On the night of May 11, 2011, sometime around midnight, 13-year-old Hana Williams fell face-forward in her parents’ backyard. Adopted from Ethiopia three years before, Hana was naked and severely underweight. Her head had recently been shaved, and her body bore the scars of repeated beatings with a plastic plumbing hose. Inside the house, her adoptive mother, 42-year-old Carri Williams, and a number of Hana’s eight siblings had been peering out the window for the past few hours, watching as Hana staggered and thrashed around, removed her clothing in what is known as hypothermic paradoxical undressing and fell repeatedly, hitting her head. According to Hana’s brother Immanuel, a deaf 10-year-old also adopted from Ethiopia, the family appeared to be laughing at her.

When one of Carri’s biological daughters reported that Hana was lying facedown, Carri came outside. Upset by Hana’s immodest nakedness, Carri fetched a bedsheet and covered her before asking two teenage sons to carry her in. She called her husband, Larry, who was on his way home from a late shift at Boeing, then finally dialed 911, telling the operator, “I think my daughter just killed herself. … She’s really rebellious.”

Hana was pronounced dead at the hospital, the cause hypothermia compounded by malnutrition and gastritis. The following day, when Child Protective Services tried to check on the other children, Larry Williams refused to let them in. When police followed up, a deputy noted that the family acted as though Hana’s death was “an everyday occurrence.” Twelve days later, detectives and CPS conducted interviews with the children, but their answers seemed rote and rehearsed, all repeating that Hana was rebellious and refused to mind Carri; one child said he thought Hana was possessed by demons. According to investigators, Immanuel said that “people like [Hana] got spankings for lying and go into the fires of hell,” just before Larry abruptly ended the interview.

When Hana died, she became one of at least dozens of adoptees alleged to have been killed at their adoptive parents’ hands in the past 20 years, and part of a far larger group of children who become estranged from their adoptive families—frequently, as it turns out, large families with fundamentalist beliefs about child rearing. Just within the Seattle area, and just among Ethiopian adoptees who came from the same orphanage and adoption agency as Hana, there has been an unreported crisis of “forever families” that fail. These are adoptions that, in an absence of any real oversight and in environments of harsh discipline, began with good intentions but went profoundly wrong….click here to read more.

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Esther Comb’s Story of Rape and Torture

Courtesy Of ABC News.

Joe and Evangeline Combs were Independent Fundamental Baptist. They perpetrated the most heinous crimes against a child. They are now serving 179 years in prison for their crimes against Esther.

Here’s Esther Combs story of abuse as told by ABC News – Part ONE.

Part Two:

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Now, I have some questions I would like to ask everyone:

  1. What do all of these stories have in common? They are all abuse related to religion and/or its teachings/belief systems.
  2. Who are the victims? Women and children
  3. Was justice served in every instance? Yes, when it’s murder or, multiple victims come forward, or,  the major media gets involved.

Now, let’s look at sexual assault, rape and incest where the victims were silenced and the abuses hidden and ask the same questions.

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Stephanie Davies Story of Rape, Suicide and Child Abuse

Ten Thousand Days in Hell – Sherri’s Story

HollyJane Belle’s Story of Rape and Incest

Louise’s Story of Spousal Rape

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  1. What do all of these stories have in common? They are all abuses related to religion and/or its teachings/belief systems.
  2. Who are the victims? Women and children
  3. Was justice served in every instance? No. None of these victim’s perpetrators is behind bars.

Why is the punishment not meted out for these horrible abuses? Because it took decades to pass for these victims to find the courage to speak out. For child abuse, there is no law that allows for prosecution after the fact when such time has elapsed. For sexual assaults and rape of children, the Statute of Limitations has expired in many states. Also, keep in mind that as long as the victims FEAR speaking out, the perpetrators remain free to abuse others. Such is the majority of cases.

What many do not realize is that religious abuse is a broader scope than we think it is. Believe it or not, but the average person has never heard of such a thing.  And yet, religious abuse encompasses the following:

Rape Incest Torture
Sexual Abuse Sex Trafficking Child Rape
Child Marriage Prostitution Child Pornography
Physical Abuse Emotional Abuse and Trauma Spiritual Abuse
Domestic Abuse Honor Killings Polygamy
Victim Grooming  Sexual Mutilation Abusive Control – information, time, behavior

 To learn more about the scope of this abuse and what it encompasses more specifically, click here: Religious Abuse – What Exactly Is it?

Throughout history, every single one of these items mentioned in my list has been going on. Does anyone have any idea who the victims are of every single one of these that I have stated?  Women and children.  What we need to realize is that these abuses against women and children are going on underneath the church’s mantle. Many people I come in contact with refuse to believe that it is, and yet the reality has been all over the internet in the last several years. If you have an opportunity to peruse my Religions Cell blog, please do.  My blog contains an alphabetized list by state and city of news stories of convicted and/or charged clergy for sexual crimes, murder and abuse. This is in no way a comprehensive list. There are thousands of more articles to add. To enter this archive, click here: Clergy Abuse Archive.  My blog also has numerous personal accounts of religious abuse survivors and what they endured. I have to warn you that the victim testimonies will make you angry – and here’s why – because most of the perpetrators of these crimes are still free and serving in churches across America. Most of them never served jail time.  They are STILL in contact with YOUR children!  The number one reason for this?  The church leadership covered up the crime and silenced the victims through public humiliation, threats and fear tactics. As a result, the Statute of Limitations ran out on these victims.

Can I ask another question? Why do you think a victim of rape or incest in the church setting would decline to come forward immediately? The answer: FEAR. Victims are threatened by family members, church members and church leadership. Victims are harassed by the same. Victims are humiliated and shamed. Victims are sometimes tortured. Victims are psychologically conditioned by this fear to keep their mouths shut. This is why it can take decades for a victim of childhood sexual assault and abuse to come forward.

As a result, the statistics on these crimes are vastly skewed. The numbers are much greater than what is reported.

Many of these victims of abuse are being blamed by the churches that hid their abuses. This is done to discredit their testimony. Many of these victims are being called liars. This is done to discredit their testimony and protect the abuser. The fact is this: Religious indoctrination has a lot to do with this secondary abuse to survivors of sexual assault and abuse within these institutions. Here’s why:

  • Religious people may be programmed into believing only what church leadership tells them is true. If leadership says a victim is lying to “hurt the cause of Christ,” then they become militant against that victim.
  • Religious people may be programmed into supporting religious leadership even if evidence PROVES the crime! Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN., is a prime example of this. He is serving a 12 year jail sentence for sex trafficking a minor and STILL has a huge following, even in jail.
  • Religious people may be programmed into doing what leadership tells them to do against victims. Remember that I stated that they can become militant when they are told someone is “hurting the cause of Christ.”
  • Many religious people even believe they are doing a God a favor by harming these hurting and broken people who are just trying to seek justice for the crimes committed against them.

These are so-called CHRISTIANS that perpetrate the secondary crimes of harassment, slander, public humiliation, stalking and attempted murder! Why? Answer: To SILENCE their voice of truth and protect their religious leaders from prosecution. Why? Because they are “clones” of the religious system they serve through indoctrination. What these victims are doing is speaking out about lies in teaching and/or crimes committed against them. If you are a clone of the system, your mind cannot accept these things as true and it rejects them. That’s the power of indoctrination. It keeps people blind, obedient and willing to do what you tell them to. This is why religious fundamentalism can be very dangerous to any society.

Let’s look at more examples of abuse. The following victims, to date, still have not received justice regarding the crimes perpetrated against them. By the way, there are many more than these from this girls home.  Even though many of them reported to police in Arcadia, La., the man responsible for raping and torturing them and allowing others on his staff to do the same, is still a free man.

Kimberly Ann Howard’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Kim Holt’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Simone’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Donna Trout’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia, La.

New Bethany Book – MORE Girls Testimonies of Abuse

Those complicit in the crimes are still free as well. How can this be?  Answer: I don’t know. But I am sure you have some ideas floating around in your head at this point. Read the New Bethany Book (link above) and then try and figure out how this could possibly be so.  Could it be a huge cover-up? I have heard some victims say it is. Honestly, I don’t know.  These were children!  Needless to say, three decades later, they are STILL trying to get justice served and have Mack Ford arrested. The police have done nothing, to date, on this issue.

Religious abuse carries with it psychological trauma. Many of these victims, as a result of their trauma, suffer with flashbacks of the abuses, PTSD, panic attacks, physical illnesses, cancers, alcohol and drug addictions and mental illnesses. The list of maladies is large and those that are the ones that were to look out for these victims, failed them, shunned them, shamed them and silenced them. Many of these victims need professional help, but cannot afford it. The institutions that allowed these crimes against them to happen, have deserted them, leaving them without hope of help and healing.  It is time for religious institutions to be held accountable for the crimes they have hidden (the DARKNESS) and, for protecting the perpetrators from prosecution. It is also time for them to bear the financial load of helping them recover.

This DARKNESS has affected societies AROUND THE GLOBE with the implementation of civil laws in some countries that restrict and oppress women and children, protect rapists and pedophiles, and punish victims that dare to escape or speak out about the abuses. In some countries, it is perfectly legal to burn, torture, maim and kill women and children without recourse. Forcing victims of rape to marry their rapists, is another civil law some of these countries have. And some of these abusive laws can be seen spilling over into America’s laws. For instance, did you know that many states give visitation rights to a rapist if their victim gives birth to a child as a result of the rape?  This is no different than marrying the rapist! The psychological trauma and abuse is the same.  As a result, more abuse and torture for these poor women and girls.  How’s that for the influence of religion on civil law?

As a result of religious indoctrination, victim-blaming has reached pandemic proportions across the world where victims are concerned. Why?  Because men and women are not being held accountable for their physical and sexual crimes and murder if it is done in the name of “honor,” “religion,” and “God.” Protecting the religious mindset and keeping laws that propagate this kind of power and authority over defenseless human beings is ludicrous!! The perpetrators of the crimes you are about to see are RELIGIOUS people. They are people that LOVE GOD. They are SERVING God. They THINK they are doing GOD a favor.  Yet, they are committing atrocities in his name against women and children. Something just isn’t right with this picture!

Let’s look at some examples of this religious influence across the world:

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muslim killing1muslim killing2muslim killing3muslim killing5muslim killing11muslim killing14muslim killing15muslim killing18 muslim killing19

 muslim killing20

But these abuses are a result of Islam, not Christianity, you may be saying to yourself. Have you already forgotten your history? Remember the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the Inquisition. It was CHRISTIANS that tortured and mutiliated and murdered over 90 million men, women and children.  Look around you and see the abusive religious influences and MINDSETS that are seeping into America. How long will it be before RELIGION influences our civil laws? If you don’t think it has, you are mistaken.  Women and children need MORE protection from these crimes against them in the religious setting. Religious Institutions that hide these crimes and harbor rapists and pedophiles need to be dealt with harshly. Tax-exempt status needs to be pulled and arrests should be made in order to deter the crimes and protect our precious women and children.

Religion CAN be good. It can help people. When it is good, it is very good. But religion CAN be bad. When it is bad, it is an EVIL of the worst kind toward women and children.

Thus, the reason for this blog. Educating the public on this hidden DARKNESS is vital. People must understand that it is real and that they may even be suffering from it. Victim’s voices must be heard. This platform is for victims to tell their experiences. They will not be harassed here and their voices will not be silenced. Next, victims need a place to go where they can deprogram. The articles written here are to help them with that deprogramming so they can better respond to life around them as well as overcoming the fear that religion has instilled in them through false doctrine and twisted theologies. Next, victims need resources to help escape the abuse and, in their healing process. This blog provides resources. Victims also need help financially so they can get the professional help and/or medicines necessary to keep them healthy. That’s why this blog has teamed up with Together We Heal to provide a special fund that will provide these victims with the help they need. But, as stated earlier, we cannot help them without your tax deductible donations! Their help is only as available as the funds we have to give. You have no idea how many victims we have had to turn down due to lack of funds! Not one church has stepped up to the plate to financially support a large and growing populous of abused and hurting people. They give to missionaries, but not the broken, bruised, victimized and poor that they are responsible for creating.

To learn more about this serious subject matter, please peruse my blog and read the articles that I have written on this subject. Become knowledgeable and become a supporter of this sect of society – women and children – that have been suffering silently for many countless decades. Also, become a financial supporter. It is only through the donations to Together We Heal and G.R.A.C.E., through my blog, that these victims can be helped and start the healing process.  They need help and they need support. It is time for their voices to be heard and laws to change to protect others from the abuses they have endured.

Christian or Mutant?

Christian or MutantMany of today’s Christians have no idea that what they believe is not what early Christian’s believed; although they are being told it is by their religious leaders.  Countless Christians actually believe they have found truth. Sadly, they interpret and believe based on what they are taught without questioning and researching to see if it IS truth. This allows corrupted leaders to spoon feed them their beliefs and influence their behavior.

As a result, through invented doctrines and rules, through corruption of the written texts and translations, what we have been handed today in no way mirrors the early church and what the early Christians gave their lives for. We have a mutant form of Christianity that blinds and abuses. It leads its followers toward the way of judgmentalism and hate and, incites them to violence against those that disagree or believe differently than they do. It also suppresses and oppresses women and children. None of these things are reflective of Christ. Christ never instigated violence toward those who believed differently. Christ never cast a stone at one single sinner. Christ treated women with respect, dignity and honor. He treated them as equals, not inferiors. Christ would not even allow his disciples to raise their hands, nor given powers, against those that disagreed or hated them. And, Christ NEVER raised his hand against a woman or child to force conformity to his teachings. Christ did, however, spew his anger at the religious leaders of his day. Interesting. We Christians will raise our hands against women, children and unbelievers, but not against corrupted religious leaders? Very interesting.

Today’s Christians, no matter the denomination or sect, are being taught to hate those that hate them. They are being taught to hurt those that live differently than they do. They are being taught to punish those that disagree or speak out about the lies and corruptions they see. They are even being taught that anyone that speaks out about abuse within the “church” is a liar that must be silenced. You see, religious leaders tell their followers that these abused individuals aren’t just liars, but, they are “hurting the cause of Christ.” Why would they say this? Answer: to hide the crime.

Today’s religious leaders are controlling the flow of information, instituting rules that bring about thought and behavior reform and, coercing poor and needy people to give away their substance – all in the “Name of God.”  The result of this is the ability for religious leaders to stifle truth, propagate lies and, control lives and fortunes – all in the “Name of God.”

How in the world did Christianity become such an abusive system that harbors pedophiles and rapists, murders and abusers of all kinds (see my Clergy Abuse Archive). How did it become a system that degrades women, setting them on an unequal plane that will always lead to their abuse? What about the children? Followers within this system are taught to raise their hands against them in order to force conformity to all the rules and precepts. Sadly, today’s Christianity is abusive and is creating abusive mindsets and behaviors in those that truly believe they are doing the “will of God.” How blind many have become! They are justifying abuse in the “Name of God?” How can this be? Propagating inequality – which always leads to abuse of those slighted by it – in the “Name of God?” How far we have fallen from God! How far we have fallen and Woe unto us!

Today’s religious institutions and leaders make a mockery of God. They wear a facade, but underneath are full of dead mens bones and every wickedness. They sell the Gospel for money. They sell a twisted truth of God for money. They exact tithes they have no right to. They vie for position and power. They sell their wares to the poorest in their congregations without care for their financial welfare. They hide sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children. They pit the brethren against each other. Today’s Christianity has become an  “Us vs. Them” war.

It is time for people everywhere to open their eyes; to pull the blinders off! It is time to LISTEN to the CRIES of the ABUSED. Listen to the cries of innocent CHILDREN, MEN and WOMEN who have fallen victim to the perverted men and women worshipping amongst them; many of which, are even LEADING them! What will it take to wake you up out of your intoxicated state, people of God? You have drunk the wine of religion and it has you in a stupor! Wake up out of that stupor and look around you and see all the victims of abuse lying by the wayside in need of help and healing. These are the very ones that Christ gave his life for! These are the very ones that he spent his days with helping and healing! He didn’t spend his time with the religious crowds! Understand this fact.

It is not too late to change. It is not too late to help. It is NEVER too late to make right, what is wrong. There are countless victims of abuse, incest, childhood sexual assault, rape and sex trafficking that need help. You can start by GIVING to GRACE and Together We Heal through the links on my blog. These two entities are working to make right, what has gone wrong. Instead of giving to an institution whose only goal is to control you and your finances and live off the backs of the poor, break free! Start giving to those that are TRULY making a difference in the lives of those the church has cast off as trash.