My name is Rose Belle and I am a cult survivor. I never would have dreamed that I could ever be a part of something as abusive as a religious cult. What’s even worse? I never would have dreamed that I would raise my daughters in such an abusive environment. I spent 28 years in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult. Exiting was the most difficult experience of my life, but, it opened my eyes wide to the reality of what I was really involved in. Much of what I was taught to believe was done using deception. The preachers in this cult would twist the scriptures to suit their opinions and man-made rules. Many of these ‘rules’ were invented to give men power and control over women in every possible way; to suppress them, to manipulate them, to prevent them from thinking for themselves. Oh, how I wish I would have been able to see the truth sooner! Now, I’ve been left feeling dumb and weak-minded because I allowed men, for 28 years, to have all the power over my life. I feel betrayed. I feel angry. I am the by-product of years of indoctrination that leaves one feeling like they are the refuse of the earth; useless, and of no value.
The man I was married to for 25 years loved being in the Independent Baptist Church (cult)! Being a cruel and proud man, it gave him the authority to treat me anyway he wanted and I was not allowed to leave him. The church told me that I had to stay in order to be right with God. My children had to endure the abuse also. If I dared to stand up for myself or against the abuse, I was told that God would hurt my children! Well, that’s what the church would tell me. Let me say that when I use the word ‘church,’ I use it generically. It really means, the pastor, my husband, the church leadership, the flock. . . those that have the influence to make my life miserable through their words and actions such as gossip, slander, shunning and the like.
My husband was so influenced by the indoctrination of the cult that he hurt my relationship with my Mom and Dad and brothers for 25 years. The church told me THEY (the church) were my family. They told me that my real family would be a bad influence on me and my children. Whenever we would drive the 45 minutes to go to their house, it entailed a huge battle between my husband and me. He usually made sure I was in tears by the time we would arrive to see them. Often, he would threaten to turn around and go back home before we would get to their house. My husband did not want to be bothered by them. He didn’t want them influencing ME to see the truth. After a while, making the trip just did not seem worth the pain and agony that was involved in fighting my husband. Not only this, my husband kept me so busy raising my three daughters, cleaning house, paying bills, taking care of the yard, doing all the grocery shopping and everything else that needed done, that I just did not have the energy to fight him anymore. On top of all this, we attended church three to four days a week! He made sure I had no time for myself, or anyone else.
I have heard it preached countless times over the years that people who leave the church are the most miserable people in the world. Often, they would preach about the awful things God does to those who leave the church. They scare you into believing that God will take your children or some family member whom you love dearly. These fear tactics keep you isolated to the cult and its members; and, even after you exit, you are left with the belief that God is going to bring evil upon you! Well, I have been out of the Independent Baptist Church for 10 years now and I have never had such PEACE in my entire life. All of that misery that we were told would happen, never happened. Instead, God has blessed beyond measure. I believed the church, but God proved the church was lying to me. If the church will lie in one area, surely it will lie in other areas too. If the church will lie in other areas, what else is the church capable of doing? Well, let me mention one of the things it is capable of doing: Hiding Evil.
I want to mention the cover ups that went on in my IFB church in a small town in West Virginia.
1. One of our pastors left and moved to Florida. After they moved his 15 year old son hung himself.
2. The secretary to one of our pastors left her husband because he was having sex with their 10 year old daughter. She was not a foster child, she was his biological daughter.
3. A couple who went to our church started a boys home and ended up having to shut it down because the wife had sex with one of the troubled boys.
4. One of our deacon’s wives, who was a teacher in our church school (where my daughters went to school), had a sexual relationship with one of the 15 year old boys who went to the school. He was the assistant pastor’s son.
This was all covered up. The police were never called about #2,3,4. I don’t know what happened on the #1 situation.
Covering up abuse seems to be rampant in the cult I came out of. Many victims of this abuse are silenced through intimidation and fear tactics. The IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist) men are arrogant and self-centered. This is only my opinion, but I am sure that others that have exited will echo this same opinion. I think this cult attracts the type of man who is arrogant and wants to control and have power over people. They think they are all powerful and above the law.
We were told by a pastor that my daughter (who has ended up mentally ill) has demons in her and that is her problem. My ex-husband said that if she would go soul winning with him that it would cure all her mental illnesses. If you have a problem with depression then you need to get right with God. Instead of getting my children the REAL help they needed, we were told that it all boiled down to “getting right with God.” Thus, my children suffered greatly. The abuse they endured drove them to the mental illnesses they now struggle with. Dealing with the abuses they suffered at the hands of the church (remember that I use this term generically) was too much for them to deal with.
This has been a hard 28 years. We have been out of the cult for 10 years now. Me, and two of my daughters, live together now with two of my grandchildren. Sometimes we talk about all we have been through but most of the time we can’t bear to think about it. We wake up each day happy to be free at last. We live each day in peace.