Tag Archives: Religious Abuse

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.

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!!!

muslim killing20muslim killing19muslim killing18muslim killing17muslim killing16muslim killing15muslim killing14muslim killing11muslim killing10muslim killing8muslim killing5muslim killing4muslim killing3muslim killing131.1234713151732

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).

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

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.

The Hidden Abuse of Children in Organized Religion

child abuseFor decades, Religious Abuse has been well hidden within organized religions throughout the world. Those that bear the brunt of this abuse are women and children. In this article, I would like to focus on how it affects children that are raised within, and trapped in, an abusive religious system. My blog is full of articles and stories that cover this topic of abuse against women and children if readers would like to learn more about this type of abuse. First of all, let me explain what religious abuse is, and then I will explain how it affects children. Many have no idea what the definition of that term is. So, what exactly is Religious Abuse?

Religious Abuse – Any harm or violence inflicted by people within any religious sect toward an adult or child that results in harm or trauma physically, emotionally, psychologically and/or sexually and, may even lead to the death of the victim. There are many facets to religious abuse. They are as follows: Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, and Spiritual Abuse. Each of these areas of Religious Abuse can be expounded upon here: RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is It? The number one goal of those that inflict this abuse is complete CONTROL of others for personal gratification and/or gain, monetary greed and power.

The most destructive aspect to religious abuse is Spiritual Abuse. Spiritual Abuse does NOT allow for any of the following:

  • Individuality or autonomy
  • Independent thinking and reasoning
  • Freedom of Choice
  • Freedom of Belief
  • Questioning of authority, religious rules, religious precepts, or abuses inflicted.
  • Escape from the abuse and control

Spiritual Abuse DOES demand, in the name of “God”:

  • Blind and unquestionable obedience to religious leaders
  • Conformity to all group rules, dogmas and precepts
  • Punishment of those that disagree or question the authority or rules
  • Punishment of those that speak out about abuse inflicted by those in authority
  • The silencing of, public humiliation of, and/or death of, those that continue to disobey and/or speak out about the abuse

As stated earlier, the goal of abusive religions is ultimate control of others. In a religious setting, this can be a breeding ground for the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Because those in authority use the name of God and Scripture to justify their abuse, the psychological trauma is unparalleled.  To the victim, God becomes vengeful, exacting, merciless, unloving, uncaring AND gives permission for “his people” to be abusive in his name.

Because of this demand for religious conformity and control within an abusive system, religious abuse occurs and children cannot escape it. In an abusive religion, children have no rights. They have no choices. They have no voice. The abusive religion requires them to obey without question or suffer the consequences. Many of these consequences are criminal.  Many result in the death of the child!

In order to facilitate the programming and behavior modification process, many are put in boarding schools or behavior modification facilities to be “forced” into conformity. Many of these facilities harbor rapists, pedophiles and abusers that perpetrate sexual violence, physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and, spiritual abuse. Freedom of choice and belief has no place in any of these facilities. Those that run these facilities are given absolute and unquestionable authority over these children. This type of authority leads to religious abuse and can encompass all aspects as mentioned in my article, RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is It?  Non-conformity to the demands of leadership within these places will bring punishment in the form of spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and, yes, sexual abuse and exploitation. Here are some stories of children that have endured these abuses at the hands of those that should have been their protectors:

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

Kerry Lou’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

Sam’s Story

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

Simone’s Story – New Bethany Homes For Girls, Arcadia LA

All of these children were emotionally and psychologically destroyed through the constant barrage of verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuses. For more stories like these visit my blog – http://www.religionscell.wordpress.com.  Also search the internet…the stories are endless.

You may be wondering how in the world abusers can get away with such crimes against children? Let me tell you how:

Sexual exploitation of women and children in abusive religious institutions is a very difficult subject matter to deal with. Exposing it is an even harder task. It has been going on not just for decades, but centuries! Abusive religious institutions have mastered the art of silencing, shaming, bullying, building loyalty, stalling and, walking away from victims without ever helping them and providing restitution and vindication for the crimes perpetrated against them. Instead they have punished and placed blame on the victims. They have used their religious authority and administrative and financial prowess to effectively destroy and silence any who dare to speak out about the abuses they may have suffered. Character assassination, death, torture, public humiliation and shunning by church members and or family members, are just a few of the tactics that victims have to deal with after coming forward with abuse allegations. To understand what I mean by character assassination, please read my articles entitled Character Assassination.”

There are several reasons why these “abusers and predators in the name of God” can get away with their abuses against children. One of the main reasons for the lack of prosecution of sexual predators is Statute of Limitations (SOL) laws here in the U.S. that prevent victims of sexual assault from prosecuting their rapists after a certain number of years has passed. It can take decades for a victim to muster up the courage to speak out! Many church leaders are working hard at keeping these S.O.L. laws in place while victims of the abuse are fighting to get them removed.

Another reason is that many of the crimes are perpetrated in foreign countries where our laws do not apply. Many abusers and rapists come back from the foreign mission field to live free lives here in the U.S., never spending one single day in jail for their crimes. Prosecution must be sought in the country where the crime occurs in order for victims to stop their abusers from hurting others. Many mission organizations and foreign churches are SILENCING and placing BLAME on the victims and, are not reporting the crimes done on foreign soil! As a result, predators are going free; many of which, are moving on to new victims.  Churches here in the U.S. are moving pedophiles and rapists from church to church instead of turning them over to police. Religiously run homes and boarding schools on the foreign field and here in the U.S. have become safe havens for abusers of children due to laws that prevent state and local authorities over site of the facilities.  Another issue is that some of the rapists are still on foreign soil and cannot be prosecuted because of this. The following video is one of the perpetrators admitting to his abuses and living freely here in the U.S.

Video: Leslie Emory admits to molesting girls in the Philipines

Despite these frustrations, victims of sexual assault must forge ahead, paving the way for changes in law that will protect women and children in religiously run institutions. Is this an easy endeavor? NO, it is NOT! It takes years to affect change. It takes years to get all the cogs out of the wheels of religiously run institutions that are in place to specifically protect the institution from accountability to victims! Can it be done? Absolutely Yes…if victims will be persistent and join their voices together with all the thousands out there that have suffered the same fate as them. There truly is POWER in numbers.

Freedom of belief is of paramount importance in the lives of adults and children alike. Freedom of belief allows for freedom of choice. Most religions do not allow for either of these and, as a result, religious abuse is rampant and children cannot escape it. Parents and missionaries within abusive and controlling religions become abusers themselves through physical violence, sexual exploitation, incest, rape and emotional abuse of children. It’s time for people everywhere to wake up to what is hiding underneath the “mantle of righteousness” many religions wear. Religious abuse is real and it is destroying lives! It is responsible for people having a distorted view of God and spiritual concepts as well as turning them away from God.  The following stories will give you firsthand testimony of what can happen to children in an abusive religion.

Sherri’s Story

HollyJane (Stewart) Belle’s Story of Child Rape and Incest

Cathy’s Story of Kidnapping, Rape, Abuse and Cover-up – Part 1

Stopping the abuse means that we must find the root of it. The root of the problem seems to stem from inequality, authoritarian leadership and, lack of freedom to believe and choose for oneself. Within abusive religions, these factors affect women and children and lead to abuses not only within religiously run institutions, but in the home.

Religious Bondage – Information Control

indoctrinationMy first part of this series, Religious Bondage – Behavior Control, touches on how behavior reform can cause people to act in abusive ways toward others that disagree or expose abuse within the religious setting. It also explains the tactics many religious followers use in order to silence someone that speaks out about or reports sexual assault, child molestation and rape, or other abuses. One of the key areas of manipulating and controlling people is to control the flow of information within the group. Doing so, allows leadership to rally the group toward their goals, their preferences, their rules, etc. It also allows for abusers to hide their abuses. Information control is one aspect of Religious Bondage. Religious Bondage is the product of Thought Reform, Information Control and Behavior Modification and, leads to abuse.

As I stated in part one, in order to explain this phenomenon that so few know anything about, I would like to break it down and keep it simple. I will call it, “Religious Freedom vs. Religious Bondage.” There are three parts to religious bondage as stated above. This will be the second part of this series and, once again, I will use Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two to show the Religious Bondage, I will compare this to my own model for Religious Freedom. At the end of this chart, I will then summarize.

INFORMATION FLOW

INFORMATION CONTROL

 No deception:

  • Flow of information not monitored and controlled
  • Honest evaluations and input

Access to non-cult sources of information is encouraged

  • Allowed to read whatever they want to gain knowledge and truth.
  • Free access to internet, books, articles, social media
  • Association with former members
  • Free time to enjoy family and friends

Equality: Equal access to information by leadership and non-leadership

  • Information freely accessible
  • Everyone receives the same information

No spying on other members

  • No “buddy” system present
  • Outside professional counseling encouraged
  • Leadership is not “all knowing” and therefore encourages secular professionals where needed.

All information provided is from outside sources

  • Books, magazines, journals video tapes, CDs, etc.
  • Non-cult sources studied and discussed in order to understand proper context

No Shaming or Manipulation

  • No use of public confessions which is the same as public shaming. This is abuse.
  • Confidential information shared in counseling is kept confidential and not used to manipulate and control congregants.
  • No sharing confidential information between leadership of like churches.

 

 Use of deception:

  • Deliberately holding back information
  • Distorting information to make it acceptable
  • Outright lying

Access to non-cult sources of information is discouraged

  • Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, internet, social media
  • Critical information
  • Former members
  • Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

Compartmentalize information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines

  • Information is not freely accessible
  • Information varies at different levels and missions within the hierarchy
  • Leadership decides who “needs to know” what

Spying on other members is encouraged

  • Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
  • Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda

  • Newsletters, magazines, journals, video tapes, CDs, etc.
  • Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

Unethical use of confession

  • Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
  • Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution

(Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two)

My thoughts on Information Control:

Information Control allows for leadership to rally congregants to THEIR cause instead of a victim of abuse or an outsider. Congregants readily believe what leadership tells them and, believe that all victims of abuse are liars that are trying to “take down the man of God” or, “destroy God’s works.” Because leadership limits information, twists truth, and/or outright lies about abuses, congregants have no way of knowing what truth IS due to lack of correct information. But, when in doubt, the congregants will naturally lean toward leadership’s views because all information points to that view as “correct” due to information control.

As shown above, information control is paramount in controlling “perception” in the minds of others. Those who control information, control thoughts. Those who control information, control behavior. Abusive leadership will ALWAYS encourage shunning to stifle the truth.  Shunning is very important because it prevents current members from listening to and believing those that have been abused or, have witnessed abuse, from being heard and believed. This is why shunning all former members is mandatory in an abusive religion or cult-like church. Those that continue to speak out after being shunned, will then be stalked and harassed either emotionally or financially by existing leadership and members for not remaining silent. Many different techniques are employed in taking down someone that won’t stop talking to authorities, but the number one technique used time and time again is getting them fired from their job.

Information control also keeps congregants dependent on leadership for “correct” information. Only leadership has the “real truth” regarding every situation; not those falsely accused by leadership or targeted by leadership in order to silence them. Congregants:

  • Will not believe media reports.
  • Will disregard facts if those facts go against what leadership has told them.
  • Will disregard witness testimony as lies meant to destroy their leadership or work of God.

Congregants become secondary abusers to victims of sexual assault, rape, incest and physical abuse who report crimes within the church.

  • They will stalk those that go to the authorities to report crimes (psychological abuse).
  • They will harass privately and publicly those that go to authorities to report crimes.
  • They will use their influence to get them fired from their jobs if they work with members of the same abusive church.
  • They will alter important documents to make it look like the victim is dishonest, using those documents against the victim to destroy them professionally.
  • They will outright lie about victims to others.
  • They will make fraudulent claims against victims to state boards in order to cause victims to lose their professional licenses.
  • They will use the legal system to attack victims that step forward to report by placing frivolous lawsuits on them.
  • It will affect victims socially – they will have no friends.
  • They will pit spouses against spouses and children against parents.
  • They will use the internet to write articles about them to discredit them and their testimony.
  • They will use social media to harass a victim.
  • They will slash tires or break in to the homes or offices of those that expose the abuses, sometimes killing beloved pets in a heinous manner in order to scare and intimidate into silence.
  • They will commit murder to ultimately silence a victim.
  • They will rally other family members against those who report crimes. Thus destroying familial relationships.
  • They will character assassinate any who dare to speak out about their abuses.

Any information told in “counseling” sessions with a pastor is used to spread gossip and slander against anyone who dares to speak out about abuses they have endured or expose them, within the church. This information is also used to blackmail congregants into conforming to leadership’s agendas, demands, desires. This information is then shared between pastors of various churches of the same sect in order to control members that leave to go to another church within the same sect. Pastors across the country work together in applying the same pressures and abuses on a congregant that tries to flee the abuse by attending another church within the same sect.

Information Control allows for abuses to continue, hidden. It allows for abusers and rapists to move on to new victims. It ensures that a victim will remain silent. Silence stops the secondary abuse.

The best way for victims to combat and stop these secondary abuses is to report all instances of it to law enforcement and victim advocate attorneys assigned to the case of a victim. Press charges against every person that threatens, harasses or slanders. By using the legal system to show a definitive pattern of harassment and abuse from the abusive church or group, it allows the authorities to either prosecute and/or stop the secondary abuse. If you have pressed criminal charges against a person in leadership within a religious organization, you must understand that witness tampering and harassment is against the law. Reporting every instance to the police ensures that every individual that is involved is held accountable legally. Don’t be afraid to press charges. Don’t be afraid to speak out. By speaking out about abuse and exposing criminals within the religious system, you save lives – lives of children that won’t be molested and raped, trafficked, physically abused and emotionally abused. You will save lives of teenagers from the same abuses. You will prevent rapes and untold trauma to others.

Religious Bondage – Behavior Control

Religious Bondage – Behavior Control

Religious Abuse (Narrated Powerpoint) is the foundation upon which many religious leaders and organizations build their empires. Yet, many people do not understand what Religious Abuse involves. Members of cults and cult-like organizations will use their influence and power to ruin any victim that speaks out about the religious abuses that they have endured. As a cult survivor that spent more than 18 years in an abusive fundamentalist Baptist cult, I will summarize  the chart below based on the experiences I have had to deal with personally while in the cult and, while helping other victims of religious abuse. Though it is very difficult to wrap one’s mind around these facts, it is vital that everyone understand that RELIGIOUS ABUSE ( Link to “Religious Abuse: What Exactly Is It?”) is real, it’s dangerous and, it can be deadly. Religious bondage is the product of  Thought Reform, Information Control and Behavior Modification and, leads to abuse.

To explain this phenomenon that so few know anything about, I would like to break it down and keep it simple. I will call it, “Religious Freedom vs. Religious Bondage.” There are three parts to religious bondage as stated above. I will cover each part separately in three different articles.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM vs. RELIGIOUS BONDAGE

Religious Freedom allows an individual to be who they are meant to be as an autonomous human being. They are free to develop their own beliefs, standards, likes, dislikes, hairstyles, clothing styles, ways of doing things, etc. They are allowed the freedom to choose their education and career field. Religious freedom allows for equality between men and women. It also allows them to be the best that they can be for themselves, their families, others and God. But, Religious Bondage leads to inequality; which in turn, leads to emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, incest, rape, mind control and manipulation, hatred and fear for those trapped in it.

Sounds a bit shocking to contrast the two, doesn’t it? These two types of “religion” are diametrically opposed and lead to very different results. One leads to freedom in Christ, balance, happiness and joy; the other leads to imbalances, fear, control, thought reform, behavior modification, abuse and destruction. What many do not realize is that they may be in religious bondage instead of enjoying religious freedom. This happens when bondage is all that a person has ever known (raised in it); or, when a person succumbs to being spoon-fed their beliefs, doctrines and standards. Some, having never experienced true freedom in Christ due to isolationism and extreme control within the system, fight within themselves against the transformation into that mirror image of the system. These are usually the ones that escape it later on – but not after suffering much abuse and trauma. Many others passively accept the rules, doctrines and standards and then become abusive toward those that do not accept them wholeheartedly. This can lead to hate crimes, stalking, harassment, character assassination, rape, sexual assault and/or trafficking, incest, physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse and death for those that do not conform.

Let me break the first characteristic down into two different categories. Using Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two to show the Religious Bondage, I will compare this to my own model for Religious Freedom. At the end of this chart, I will then summarize.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM                                                      RELIGIOUS BONDAGE

FREEDOM TO CHOOSE

BEHAVIOR CONTROL

 No regulation of individual’s physical reality:

  • Choose one’s beliefs
  • Choose one’s friends
  • Choose clothing styles, hairstyles, etc.
  • Choose what to eat
  • Choose one’s career
  • Choose where to spend one’s money
  • Freedom to travel
  • Freedom to make own personal decisions
  • Freedom to set one’s own personal boundaries and standards
  • Critical reasoning skills can be exercised
  • No FEAR of retaliation for expressing opinions, thoughts and concerns
  • Autonomy allowed
  • No spoken or unspoken rules to be followed
  • Independence
 Regulation of individual’s physical reality:

  • Where, how and with whom the members live and associate with.
  • What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
  • What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
  • How much sleep the person is able to have
  • Financial dependence
  • Little or no time for leisure, entertainment or vacations.
  • Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
  • Need to ask permission for major decisions
  • Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors.
  • Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative)
  • Individualism is discouraged; group think prevails
  • Rigid rules and regulations
  • Need for obedience and dependency

(Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two)

My thoughts on Behavior Control:

Controlling a congregant’s time is key in controlling their behavior and modifying it (behavior modification).  Excessive demands on time “in the ministry” or “attendance to every meeting, service and event,” leads to passivity and the ignoring of abuses and reality. Peer pressure plays a HUGE part in behavior modification and is used to influence congregants toward group “rules” and “group think.” Those that fight against the rules will find themselves on the receiving end of punishment from the group. This could entail such things as shunning, public humiliation, gossip and slander,  until the person conforms.

normWhat any normal person would view as abuse becomes “normal” with each instance of it in an abusive environment.  For example: In the cult I came out of preachers used the pulpit to publicly attack, chastise and humiliate congregants that disagreed, believed differently or, questioned leadership and their doctrines. This IS emotional and psychological abuse; and, it instills fear of speaking out further against leadership.  The first time this is done, it is shocking, but as each occurrence of it happens, the gradualism of these attacks becomes normal and even okay in the mind of the congregants.  It is seen as “right” and necessary to keep the flock in line with God’s rules; which are usually nothing more than leadership’s rules and preferences.  Through this gradualism, the abuse becomes “normal” and congregants become blind to it. Because this abuse is seen as “normal” and “right,” it then is duplicated by congregants against others that disagree as they transition into positions of leadership.

Another example of abuse is toward victims that speak out about their abuse at the hands of leadership and others within the organization. Leadership, because it controls the congregation’s behavior, can rally their members together to:

  • Use their power and influence to affect a termination of employment, crippling a person financially.
  • Use local authorities to file bogus complaints and law suits against those that speak out in order to cause them emotional trauma and financial trauma.
  • Stalk victims that speak out or file criminal charges.
  • Harass victims that speak out via email, phone, social media and, through personal threats.
  • Influence other family members to shun the one speaking out.
  • Influence a spouse to divorce the one speaking out.
  • Influence children against the parent that speaks out.
  • Spread gossip and slander about the one speaking out.
  • Influence family members and others to do bodily harm to the one speaking out.

Those that allow their time to be controlled are the ones that are easily duped into believing the lies and twisted theologies taught from leadership. They are also the ones that rally to the side of the abusers in any given church instead of listening to and supporting sexual assault victims and other abuse victims.  Staying busy constantly interferes with critical reasoning skills, stunts spiritual growth and, results in thought and behavior reform. It leads to congregants being obedient, unthinking, “do as they are told” followers of leadership. Because of this, it also leads to blind loyalty to the system and its leadership instead of supporting those that step forward to report the abuse. Followers lose their ability to discern reality and truth; thus, believing the lies they are spoon fed by leadership. They will interpret scripture in light of what they are told by leadership; judging others as leadership dictates. They will be the pawns used in order to mete out attacks against those leadership tell them have falsely accused them or their church.  Facts of a situation then become irrelevant in the mind of the congregants and they will fight against those facts and the ones that present them. This leads to abuse as listed above and, even death to anyone that dares to go against the system or its leadership.

Behavior Control is dangerous. It leads to abuse of others. This facet of Religious Abuse must be recognized for what it is and members must flee those religious organizations that practice this in order to control and manipulate them.

Power, Money, Control and Religious Abuse

From the Author: Words cannot express how proud I am of my son for approaching the subject of Religious Abuse and sharing his perspective on it. This is his first time addressing the issue and, what is even more amazing is that he has allowed me the privilege of putting it on my blog so that others may be helped by it. His name is not on it because he has asked me not to put it on it. He is also the one that put together this presentation to help victims of religious abuse escape. I simply put my voice to it. So, here it is. Please be sure to adjust your volume on the presentation!

religious abuse

(Click to play)

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Introduction

Religious abuse is an evil which can be difficult to recognize and can lead to chronic depression, rape, intimidation, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicide. Corrupted church leaders of today can use their power and influence to control, extort money, manipulate, and sexually exploit their victims. The effects of religious abuse are vast, but the steps which can be taken to escape from them are not. When victims learn to identify signs of religious abuse in churches and realize that they have personal liberty, they can break free by leaving the abusive church immediately. Victims of religious abuse who completely cut ties and cease contact with the abusive church can recover what is left of their scarred lives.

Power, Money, Control, and Religious Abuse

            A dangerous, well disguised evil is sweeping across American churches like a dark beast of destruction, which preys on the lives of even the most devout. It is an evil which is most difficult to recognize, at first, and can lead to chronic depression, rape, intimidation, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicide. Some might argue that this evil originates from the very Devil himself, an attempt to destroy that which is seen by many as holy and pure – the church. This evil comes in the form of religious abuse and can be brought to life through corrupted church leaders in power, monetary greed, and demand for total control of people’s lives; escaping victims must learn to recognize the warning signs, be aware of their personal liberty, and take immediate action to leave the abusive situation.

What could cause such destruction in a person’s life? It’s simple; the impression of absolute power and authority supposedly given by the bible or Jesus can cause almost anyone tempted to become corrupted by it. Once that individual in power decides to abuse the “biblical authority” given to them, believers can become trapped under its rule. There are many ways that victims become trapped under this oppression, but according to David Johnson, two of the main reasons are “they are literally powerless to leave,” perhaps like children born into it, or “because the spiritually abusive system [itself] is a trap” (1991, p. 54). This may be difficult for those who haven’t experienced it to understand, but the cycle of abuse can look something like this: “Out loud shaming, focus on performance, manipulation, idolatry, preoccupation with fault and blame, and obscured reality” (Johnson & VanVonderen, 1991, p. 56-58). Once a person submits to the “authority” of an oppressive church leader, their own sense of personal liberty can be replaced with a sense to obey the “rules” and not to question what is said.

In some positions, a religious leader can become additionally motivated by monetary greed. With the cycle of abuse already in place, they use manipulation in their teachings to convince their victims to give exorbitant amounts of money towards their religious cause or even a personal salary; often attempting to bring guilt on those who do not (McClaskey, 2012, p. 106). Some victims are required to hand over more than 10% of their gross monthly income plus an extra equal or greater margin for regular “gifts” to the leadership, as tokens of their servitude or “commitment” to the organization (McClaskey, 2012, p. 75). This money is often used to build the personal wealth of the leader and to fund the church, continuing the cycle of abuse.

Corrupted power and monetary greed are directly related to a leader’s obsession with having total control over his victims. This begins with a church leader’s power and usurping the authorities they claim were given to them by the Bible, Jesus, or some other religious authority. Victims become convinced their leader has the authority to control them. The control doesn’t stop within the walls of the church; it often “infiltrates into the homes of their believers, with their strange doctrines and rules” (McClaskey, 2012, p. 36). Victims are intimidated, threatened, or in some cases physically beaten into submission (children, teens or spouses) if they don’t comply with the church leader’s rules (McClaskey, 2012, p. 56). Group conformity and total submission to the church “system” are ideas that are not allowed to be questioned in these abusive situations – questioning might lead victims to break free. In many cases, victims who escape are verbally attacked and scorned in front of the church; they lose all group interaction, including immediate family support. Many victims still feel the far reaching, abusive arms of control many years after escaping them. It is this corrupted power, greed and control within the abusive church system which leads to even worse damage in a victim’s life.

Religious abuse can also directly affect other areas of a victim’s wellbeing. If victims believe the abusive teachings, they can have a distorted view of God and spiritual ideas; thereby inadvertently abusing others themselves, like their own children. This often ushers in emotional abuse also; where love and trust can be based upon one’s loyalty to the church or its rules. Paranoia becomes constant, fear of being humiliated or punished is endless, and the pressure to perform and not fail is elevated (Johnson & VanVonderen, 1991, p. 73-77). Sexual abuse is another factor which often associates with religious abuse. A church leader with total control of his victims can easily manipulate them into rationalizing his sexual assault, rape, or exploitation. Sexual exploitation is one of the most common abuses linked to religious cult-like organizations across America (Lalich, 1996, p. 4). Emotional and sexual abuse, along with distorted thinking could eventually lead a victim to consider suicide as an escape, thus multiplying the destructiveness of religious abuse.

How can victims of religious abuse escape? First, they must learn to recognize signs of abuse within a church. David Johnson lists some signs as “power posturing, performance preoccupation, unspoken rules, lack of balance, paranoia, misplaced loyalty, and secrecy” (1991, p. 63-78). Some abusive churches are initially very friendly and appealing, that is also why their trap is effective. Victims often rationalize their abuse, so recognizing that it’s ongoing is vital. Second, recognize that the Religious control is based upon submission of those who believe in it; thus victims must understand their true personal liberty, and that they really don’t have to put up with the abuse. The final step is to break free from the abusive church, including everyone associated with it who could still affect the victim. Victims should completely and immediately separate from every area of interaction with the church. The victim should note that any attempt to change the church is usually futile. Attaining total separation will initiate a healing process.

Once on the outside, victims may immediately begin to recognize the traits of abusive churches. This can empower them to break the cycle of destructive control in their lives and begin to recover from commonly reported experiences such as chronic depression, rape, fear, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicidal thoughts (Lalich, 2013). Victims who have broken free also become some of the best people to help others escape abuse. Escape is one of the most difficult and painful actions that victims can take, but the freedom, healing, and fulfillment that comes afterward is worth more than money could ever buy.

In conclusion, religious abuse is more widespread than one may think. In 1996, there were over 5,000 religious cults in America with more than 185,000 new recruits reported annually (Lalich, 1996, p. 1). If victims are attentive enough to see the warning signs present in an abusive church and they understand that they don’t have to submit to abuse, they can escape and eventually heal from it. The dark, evil beast of religious abuse can be defeated, but only if its tactics and weapons are understood. There are many thousands today who are becoming new victims. When will it ever end?

References

Johnson, D., & VanVonderen, J., 1991. The subtle power of spiritual abuse: Recognizing and escaping spiritual manipulation and false spiritual authority within the church. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

Lalich, J. (1996). Dominance and Submission: The Psychosexual Exploitation of Women in Cults. Cultic Studies Journal, 14 (1). Retrieved from http://cultresearch.org/pdf/csj14-1.pdf

Lalich, J. (2013). The Violent Outcomes of Ideological Extremism: What Have We Learned Since Jonestown? Retrieved from http://cultresearch.org/2009/10/the-violent-outcomes-of-ideological-extremism-what-have-we-learned-since-jonestown/

McClaskey, C., 2012. Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the church that lead to bondage and abuse. Bloomington, IN: Author House.

The Casting – By Nancy Bicknell

the CastingIt is fall on the small religious campus in Wisconsin. The leaves have turned and the frost is steaming up from the ground changing the season to winter. The auditorium is filled with people who do not know why they are assembled since it is not Sunday services or Wednesday prayer meeting but, there they are, waiting.

Like feathers floating from the skies little pieces of paper fall from the sky through the ceilings. Each person picks up the note paper closest to them that has a caption entitled “The Casting.” There is a word written on the parers. Some were cast as Orchestra, Church Leaders, Preacher Boys, Inner Circle, Bystanders, Victim or Abuser. It seems that a play is going to be produced this very day and everyone has a role.

One bewildered young Preacher Boy steps forward after he realizes his paper says ‘Director.’ Taking his role, he starts to divide the people into their parts. “Bystanders are to all take a seat in the audience,” he announces. To his surprise, all but a handful of people took seats in the audience. He directed the others to go onto the stage. He sent the Orchestra to the Pit. Once the cast was before him he asked each one to read their role out loud.

The Church Leaders proudly stepped forward followed by the Inner Circle. Looking at the cast of players, the Director notices two players still in the back of the stage. He asks them to step forward. ” Who are you he asks?” The man opened his paper and looking surprised, as though he had not seen his role before, stated, “Well, I guess I am the Abuser.” He fades back into the darkness of the stage hiding behind the Inner Circle. The director then calls on the young teen girl. “Who are you?” he asks. She announces that she must have picked up the wrong piece of paper because she was the Victim and did not want that part. She did nothing wrong and was sure the part was a mistake. The Director said he was not in charge of the casting; and, that it appeared that every role was connected to each other and the play was happening as a spontaneous event based on the reactions and free will of all the players.

The director asked some Bystanders to run the lights and control the curtains. Suddenly, there was a scream.

The Victim ran out on stage having blood on her heart saying, “See, I am not supposed to have this role. I am innocent.”

“Who did this to you?” the Director asked, followed by the church leaders questions.

She said, “It was the Abuser. He hurt me in the dark when the curtain was closed.”

The director asked the Abuser to step forward. He did not. Noticing a stir in the audience, the director sees the Abuser.

“Sir,” he says, “Did you hurt this girl?”

The Abuser says, “No, I was was here in the audience all the time.”

The young girl cries, standing on center stage.

The director again asks her saying, ” He says he did not hurt you.”

The Abuser yells out from behind the church leaders now. “She walked into my sword and then she fell in front of me.”

The girl continues to cry.

The director wanting to get on with the play, sends everyone to the costume room to be fitted with their robes. The make-up is completed and the hair is groomed. The curtain opens and all begin to play their roles.

A Bystanders calls out from the audience, “The Victim is still crying and I can not hear the Church Leaders! Can you ask her to stop?”

She tries to stop as she hears the complaints. The music begins from the orchestra pit but, the sobs of the girl interrupt the symphony.

The victim calls out, ” I need help here, I am hurt.”

The Church Leader says, “I don’t see blood anymore. So you are fine. You just need to trust Jesus, go to church and leave the stage. You are interrupting the work of God here.”

The audience responds with praises and an Amen.

The girl attempts to leave the stage but is too weak to walk now. The Inner Circle tells the Church Leaders to call upon the Director to remove her from the stage. The director says, “I am not writing the script here. So you do as you will.”

The Church Leaders walk up to the Victim and tell her that Jesus has dried her tears. She moans in pain. The Church Leaders tell her to “Let it Go” since the Abuser is innocent and she must forgive him. She faints before them. The Church leaders are fearful she will not get well and ask the Director to let them off the stage.

The Director says, “This is your play.”

The Abuser encourages the Church Leaders from stage right saying,”She obviously has sinned and you must hold her accountable for ruining the play.” The Church Leaders decide to leave the stage followed by the Inner Circle.

Standing on stage left in sheep’s clothing is the Abuser who slips off the stage into the night following the Church Leaders and the Inner Circle. The lights are lowered to center stage and the girl is too weak to stand. The Bystanders tell her to get off the stage, but she cannot.

The Bystanders notice the Director has also left. No one is left but the Bystanders and the victim. Some yell out, “Forgive and get over it and you will be well.” Others cry out to her, “Stop telling us your sob story,” and still others, say nothing at all.

It seems the girl is bleeding now onto the stage’s wood floor, but no one moves from the audience. Only the Bystanders are left. The majority of the cast are Bystanders and they do not seem to know what to do. Silence.

A bright spot light from above shines down and, there before the Bystanders, is a new actor on stage. It is Jesus. He looks at the girl and swoops her up in His arms. He turns to carry her away but stands still for a moment to turn and look at the Bystanders. His eyes are glaring in anger.  They all hang their heads in shame, realizing they could have picked up the child themselves.

Jesus’ eyes pierce their hearts and He turns with the child in His arms and disappears. The Bystanders sit alone as the lights go off and the curtain closes.

Blinders – By Nancy Bicknell

blindersTAKE YOUR BLINDERS OFF I.F.B. PARENTS

A messaged for children who were abused in the I.F.B. (Independent Fundamental Baptist) church whose parents will NEVER stand up for them:

This is what I would like to say to you as a mom who is trying to stand up for her kids.

I am sorry for the abuse you endured. I am unhappy that your parents cannot stand up for you. Many parents are too indoctrinated in the I.F.B. beliefs to leave the church to protect their children. Yes, I said LEAVE the church  because, if parents stand up for their abused children in the I.F.B. church, they know they will be shamed, shunned and pushed out. My husband and I have finally stood up for our two boys. But, it took them being sexually abused in the I.F.B. church before I stood up. And even then, I was so fearful of the I.F.B. and their tactics, that I had to have a lot of support to stand. I did this by telling my boys it was time for them to tell their stories of abuse since they were adults now and only needed my permission to tell it all. However, the victim has to be strong enough to go through the I.F.B. secondary abuse that will be thrown at them. If they are not emotionally strong then they are not ready to tell their story.

As a Mom, I wanted my boys to talk about their abuse and I would come in as Mom and defend them, protect them from the IFB darts and, validate that I was there and everything they told in their stories was true as I experienced it with them as their Mom. So, I say this to those who’s parents may never see the light: You can find that loving support (the love you wanted from your parents but didn’t get) in others who have seen the light. I guess if you are ready to reach out, then others who understand, will reach back. No one can do this alone. The abuse in the I.F.B. church surpasses that of the Catholics according to G.R.A.C.E. We try to band together and help each other, but yes, in the end, you alone will stand on the stage of the public forum and tell your story if you choose. Many never will and they also have that choice. When all we have left is our story because the statutes of limitations is up, we know we stand together, and yet, alone. There will be no police help for us.

Perhaps some are gifted and can help change the laws. But in the mean time, find a good substitute Mom and Dad that will emotionally support you.  Lean on other abuse survivors. There are those who can write articles and play songs to bring attention to the I.F.B. abuse. I shout out to and for my boys that they are HEROES and stand behind them in the wings of the stage when they tell their stories; and I cry because I was too late and am doing too little. Yet, as they tell their stories, I see other victims standing in the audience and giving them a standing ovation; and their parents look at their children in amazement as they attempt to tell them “Sit down” Sit Down. We haven’t sat down yet…we are standing…keep standing.

Blinders
by Linda Mary Schaap

Look the other way!
Hide the shame, the tears, the ruin, the fear…
Gloss the truth, squash the ‘lie’ –
So no one will interfere…
Blinders.
Deeply festered is a wound so raw
Yet hidden beneath the acceptable.
Pain not erased even by law
For it wallows in a life susceptible…
Blinders.
Looking only straight ahead
Missing the clues of deception,
While atrocious actions multiply
And hearts are broken without detection…
Blinders.
Tear them off! Reveal the truth!
Shed the light on a tragedy!
See what’s right beside you
A soul in need of majesty…
Finders.
Diminish the hurt by reaching out
Avoid the shock, the awe, the no!
Listening, unfolding each awful truth
Of a story that just couldn’t be so…
Finders.
Please, don’t look the other way
And cover the deeds of darkness.
Nor silence an innocent voice
Who cries of confusion, shame, and brokenness…
Finders.

When Alarm Alerts Yell Fire! Fire! – By Nancy Bicknell

denial picA couple years ago I asked my son, Doug, to go to an addiction program at the IFB church where he was sexually abused to get some help for his drinking. Now, I know that was like taking a burn victim back to the building where they were scarred for life from their severe burns! But not then. It did not occur to me that this would harm him and not help him. After all, I was taking him to God’s church to find healing.

I had been going back into the abusive IFB church for a few months and I had developed a tolerance for the smells, sights and sounds of that church. Well, Doug walked into the church with me and said “OH God! I feel sick!” And ran for the mens bathroom to throw up. I had forgotten about the first time I walked into that abusive church after being out for years. I too, was physically sick. Unfortunately, I kept going into that church where my boys were abused until I could walk through the halls without throwing up. I was forcing myself to develop a threshold of tolerance for the emotional alarms going off in my head warning me to RUN….RUN. Like many others who try to go back to an abusive IFB church, I was taking my son into a burning church to heal his burn scars. That is what we call spiritual denial.

Our mind and body remember the abuse and, if we subject ourselves to the same triggers over and over, eventually the triggers will get less so we can stay in an abusive church. Doug was sick for a reason. That should have been the time to walk out of the church again rather than try to tolerate the puking. I know that now.

To cope with overwhelming experiences of distress, the brain will send out an alarm message like saying, “FIRE! FIRE!” The brain of a child who is raped may react by reducing the connectivity of the Alarm Alert regions in the brain that were hurt in order to survive if they are not removed from that church environment. Doug was helpless to remove himself from the abusive IFB church/school, because his parent taught in the IFB system. Doug’s child brain, in order to survive, went through a decrease in his emotional Alarm Alert as a self-protective response. He developed a tolerance to being in that abusive church as a child but, now as an adult, all the messages of Alarm Alert came flooding back and he vomited.

Sexual abuse of children can leave its victims prone to depression, moodiness and extreme or dulled emotional responsiveness, PTSD and addictions. This tolerance to emotional pain can ultimately prove harmful because it interferes with subsequent healthy Alarm Alert messages . Therefore my idea of taking a burn victim back into a burning building, turned out as one might predict –  very badly and, caused us all more burns.

The brain can change dramatically and begin to heal when provided with the right type of support and emotional nourishment. In our case, that would not be the IFB church where my boys were sexually abused. Understanding what goes wrong during and after abuse will help  IFB abuse survivors figure out how to make it right. Our long-term hope is to heal mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Those who have suffered abuse in the IFB will be more sensitive to disrespect of their pain and any empowering by others for the IFB pastors or IFB churches where they were abused. Their Alarm Alerts will begin working again in time. Getting away from that abusive IFB church environment is good thing. So if you feel like throwing up when you go into your old church environment….perhaps you should puke and walk out.

Adultery and the “Put Away” Wife

From the earliest of ages, men have transgressed God’s laws and forced women into abusive situations, stripping them of the protections that God put in place for them. Men have manipulated, twisted and changed scripture in order to use “God said” as a weapon of force against women. The damage done is huge!  As a result of this inequality, women the world over have been subjected to physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, sex trafficking, prostitution, rape, incest, polygamy, child rape and abuse, sexual mutilation, torture physically and emotionally and, the list goes on. It is religion that has caused a race of people to be treated in-humanely for centuries. It is time for the lies, the twisting, the corruption to be exposed and women given their equality, honor and dignity back. Laws must be changed in the process to protect women and children in all settings of religious and secular society. The old stigmas that religion has placed on women will only disappear when MEN realize the magnitude of what they have done and take action to reverse it. Sadly, it all starts with the corruptions that still exist in our modern day Bibles, the corruptions preached from the pulpits of America and the world, the corruption of doctrines based on opinions of men, being set right. These changes that have been purposely done to give men the preeminence and force women into subjugation, are the ultimate “hate crime.” It has removed “accountability” away from men and allowed for them to do as they please against women in most cultures. These corruptions have been used to proliferate abusive attitudes in men, against women and young girls, throughout history. If we begin to set right what has been corrupted, then I genuinely believe that the attitudes regarding women will change slowly but surely and, the abuses will lessen against us and, our equality, honor and dignity will be restored. This will allow for laws to be put in place, and enforced, that protect women from the abuses mentioned. Men will then be held accountable for their crimes against women and young girls.

On this blog, it has been my goal to not only give victims of religious abuse a voice, but, to “unmask” these corruptions of the religious system, “unmask” the twisting of scripture through “implied” meaning by men, to set right what man has corrupted. The following excerpt is from Every Woman & Child, by Adele Hebert, and is used by permission from the author. It is a follow up to the article I put out several days ago called, “God does NOT Hate Divorce.” If you have time to read that article, I promise that it will be the most enlightening truth you will ever learn.  It is worth the read for every Christian and non-Christian no matter the religious sect, just as this article is.

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ADULTERY AND THE “PUT AWAY” WIFEdivorce

You will never read a bible study quite like this one.

Jesus gave some radical new teachings about adultery and the “put away” wife which are rarely mentioned, let alone explained. Even though these teachings do not apply to us exactly, they are extremely vital points and must not be dismissed. You will see how Jesus completely eradicated the stigma of the put away wife. You will also find out how Jesus liberated women from the penalty of adultery and turned it onto the men. It was very demeaning for the men to be called adulterers.

Nowadays we don’t use the word adultery much; we say people are having ‘an affair.’ It seems that the sacredness of marriage is not as valued as it used to be, and it is not only men who ‘fool around.’ In most countries, there is no punishment for committing adultery anymore; people just get divorced and carry on with their lives. (Tragically, not all countries.)

Matt. 5:32 – But I say to you, Whoever puts away his wife, apart from a matter of fornication, causes her to commit adultery. And who ever shall marry the one put away commits adultery. (KJ3)

In the Old Testament and right up until Jesus’ day, adultery was the most serious accusation for a woman. It meant certain death.

Jesus declared that if a woman is only “put away” (separated but not divorced), then her husband “makes her,” “causes her” to commit adultery (Matt 5:32). This is equivalent to a parent who starves a child on purpose, (making them, causing them) forcing them to steal food. The parent is responsible for the child, therefore the parent is guilty.

Jesus maintained that the husband is responsible for taking care of his wife until he divorces her, therefore if he simply sends her away, he is now declared guilty for “her” adultery! “Whoever puts away his wife, causes her to commit adultery.” This was outrageous! In reality, Jesus was saying, “Don’t just send your wife away or you’ll be blamed and held accountable for what she does.” Imagine men being told they are guilty for their wife’s future actions!

Then Jesus takes the matter one step further, to avoid any exploitation of the woman. Jesus stated that the man who takes her who is only “put away,” is also guilty of adultery, like a partner in crime. “And who ever shall marry the one put away commits adultery.” This was shocking! Men better not even look at a single woman without seeing her divorce certificate first. What protection! The original husband cannot get off the hook, and the second husband better not act impulsively. Like any other business transaction, there is justice and order. Women were not to be tossed around and taken by men, to be used and then thrown away.

The first husband was not allowed to go free of his responsibility until he paid his wife in full. That’s the procedure. A similar analogy would be if a person owed the bank some money on the mortgage. Another person cannot just come along and take the property without the first owner paying the bank all the money they owe. Jesus reinstated marriage as a serious business, a holy covenant, with the utmost protection and provision for the woman. Men cannot cheat women or play games with God.

Mark 10:11 –  And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

Even if a man sent away his wife and he married another woman (which men allowed themselves at the time, for any excuse), he was also guilty of committing adultery “against her,” meaning his original wife (Mark 10:11). Who ever heard of that? The men had never been accountable to women. Jesus blamed men for committing adultery in every situation. That was unbelievable! This would certainly have elevated the status and dignity of women, but can you imagine the men who heard this?

Please read this slowly. So, no matter if the “put away” wife found another man, the husband is guilty for “her” adultery. Or if another man took the “put away” wife, before she got her divorce, then that man is guilty of adultery. Or if the husband “put away” his wife and found another woman, the husband is guilty of adultery “against” his original wife. Unless the woman was divorced, Jesus declared that the men were always to blame! Even if the “put away” wife committed the adultery, Jesus indicted the husband! The women were completely exonerated! How revolutionary! These words would have infuriated the men. In all these situations, Jesus declared that the men were guilty of adultery, never the woman.

Mark 10:12 – And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

The final extreme teaching about being “put away” is in Mark 10:12, where Jesus announced that a woman could also “put away her husband.” Traditionally, only men could put away their wives. Women had been totally at the mercy of men. This was all completely new! What radical equality! That meant women could leave if they were being abused! And still get a fair settlement! Wouldn’t that make the men stand up? I am surprised that these teachings even made it in the gospels…very surprised.

To the men, Jesus was saying, “No!” “No, you can’t just throw her away without giving her a divorce.” “No, you can’t just take her before she has her settlement.” “No, you can’t just send her away and marry another woman, that’s cheating against your wife.” “No, you can’t hurt your wife; she can leave you.” “No more abuse! These women are daughters of God.” “No excuses or loopholes! Either you love her or you hand over the money, and give her a divorce!”

To the women, Jesus was saying, “No more!” “No more blame for adultery, if he sends you away.” “No more tolerating abuse in marriage; you can leave him.” “No more being cheated out of your property; it’s your entitlement.” “No more condemnation for women, if they are put away.” (“No more condemnation” did not give women permission to cheat on their husbands. Jesus was advocating for the wives who were abandoned, sent away.) No more shame or blame for women …at last!

Every detail of every possible scenario was looked after, to give women their full dignity and protection. Every hint of shame and blame was taken away from women and put on the men. Jesus made men respect women as equal partners in marriage and divorce. He made men give women their share of the matrimonial property. Notice that Jesus also acknowledged getting married again, confirming remarriage (only after getting divorced). Jesus did more for women’s rights than we can ever know. What an outstanding champion and defender of women!

These teachings were more than earth shattering for the men! Their entire culture had revolved around men making their own rules with few responsibilities towards the women. Now Jesus reminded men of the old rules, which had great responsibilities, to protect the women. Jesus’ teachings go completely against all the traditions of blaming women; He blamed the men. No wonder the men thought it was better not to marry, if they had to be that responsible for a wife (Matt 19:10).

For the rejected women, all these teachings were elevating and completely liberating! What an awesome Savior! Society was forced to start seeing women as equal. Unfortunately, Jesus’ declarations were not accepted by the men at that time, but His Words were not forgotten. It took two thousand years before women won their matrimonial property rights, but the battle is still not over. The patriarchal leaders are determined to keep Christian women from getting divorced and remarried.

It takes a long time for people to change attitudes. Many lives have been lost for the emancipation of women. Many court battles were fought for the freedom women have today. Two thousand years later, Jesus’ words are the basis for our divorce laws. But we still have a long ways to go.

If men listen to the false teachings of the boy’s club (church), marriage can be a nightmare for women and children. If men follow Jesus, marriage can be fulfilling for everyone: men, women and children, too.

As for women wanting to commit adultery, do you really think there were many at that time, knowing they would get stoned to death? I believe the woman in John 8 was very likely a hungry, put away wife, who was set up, so that men could trap Jesus. She was legally married or she would not have been accused of adultery. And why were there so many men witnesses and accusers? And where was he??

Jesus never condemned the woman caught in adultery because she was not guilty. She was a victim. Men had “caused” her to be in that situation, whatever the circumstance. Jesus simply wrote in the sand, and each of those male accusers left, from oldest to youngest. Then He spoke to her alone, and told her she was free. She was no more at the mercy of men. What a wonderful Savior!

The most overlooked point about the woman caught in adultery is that she was a believer. When Jesus asked, “hath no man condemned thee?” she said, “No man, Lord.” (John 8:11) This poor woman has been given a pornographic reputation throughout the centuries, and is always portrayed horribly in art. She was a believer and Jesus loved her.

Ann Brown wrote a wonderful book, Apology to Women, (Inter-Varsity Press, 1991), where she “confesses that the Bible has often been used to devalue women, illustrating this fact with abundant examples from Christian writing and art through the centuries.” I was truly blessed by her title.

There is a definite connection between the teachings of the church and how women are treated in the home, behind closed doors. These teachings affect all of society, just like the attitudes and oppression in the days of slavery. A Wife’s Submission, is a fantastic blog http://hupotasso.wordpress.com/; Charis Hart examines the toughest passages using Greek and Hebrew word studies. Charis Hart’s new website is Christian Egalitarian Marriage http://2hold.wordpress.com/. Submission Tyranny, in Church and Society, by Waneta Dawn, is another great blog.

You will want to read Woman Submit by Jocelyn Anderson, (One Way Café Press, 2007), an excellent book about the dynamics of religion, family and community towards an abused woman. Another awesome book is A Woman’s Place? Leadership in the Church by C. S. Cowles (Beacon Hill Press, 1993). Other recommended authors include: Lundy Bancroft, Patricia Evans, Gilbert Bilezikian, J. Lee Grady, Susan C. Hyatt, Aida Spencer, Alvin J. Schmidt, Tikva Frymer Kensky…. The best reference I can give is Christians for Biblical Equality http://www.cbeinternational.org for books, articles and the CBE Scroll.

One Way Press is proud to announce that in Spring of 2013, Shirley Taylor will be releasing her book, Dethroning Male Headship, Because it Doesn’t have a Leg to Stand on. You will definitely want to check out her website, Baptist Women for Equality. Shirley has an excellent resource page.

Assimilation of the Church to the World

ASSIMILATION OF THE CHURCH TO THE WORLDassimilation

For those that claim the title of “Christian,” it is very important to understand that the religious systems of the world are full of corruptions. It is my humble opinion that none are exempt. To think that there is a pure religion out there would be ludicrous. It doesn’t matter what one thinks, the historical evidences show that man corrupts everything he touches.  There are countless millions following the “doctrines and commandments of men” and not God. Many of these corruptions have an agenda in mind. What is that agenda? Control of others for self-indulgence, personal gain, power, control and money.  History supports this premise and shows it with glaring clarity.

In order to separate tradition from truth, in order to separate truth from the corruption, in order to genuinely understand and know the truth, we must study history and textual criticism. Studying the Bible, for many, is of no avail because the understanding of the times in which it was written is not there. One must understand the culture, the events taking place at the time of penning of scripture, and so much more in order to truly understand what the authors meant. How can one KNOW what was “meant” if you are interpreting based on the current culture and word usage? Jesus and his disciples spoke in terms that the people of their day were familiar with. Today, we are not familiar with many of the colloquialisms and terms they used. They were dealing with the real problems of the day and age in which they all lived; thus, learning history is important to correct understanding and interpretation.

We also must understand the “tares” that man has inserted through translation, that have become foundations for many. There is so much truth wrapped around a “cloak of deception” aimed at leading people to believe and act in a manner that is in direct opposition to truth and love! There were some insertions, changes and deletions through translation that have affected one particular race of people throughout history – women. As a result, women have been robbed of equality, honor and dignity. They have been treated in-humanely and, even today, still are, in some countries.

All this said, today’s history lesson will cover how the church assimilated with paganism. Throughout, I will interject my thoughts and enclose them in brackets. What will become apparent is that the church system has not changed. The corruptions then, are still around today. Let’s dive in and see what we can learn from this tidbit of early church history.

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Early Church History to the Death of Constantine

Edward Backhouse, 1906

With the increase of the Church in numbers and wealth, the introduction of infant baptism and the growth of a sacerdotal religion, there came an increased assimilation to the world. The dividing line between Pagan and Christian lost its sharpness, or was drawn from a new and entirely different point.

The Christians of the earlier ages were marked out from the rest of mankind by their life and conduct: “They are in the flesh, but live not after the flesh. They dwell upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.” But now the difference turned more especially upon external and ceremonial distinctions. [Think about this for a moment. Today, one’s Christianity is based on church attendance and service, looking outwardly holy in all manner of one’s life. What is considered “holy” living? Following all the many rules, spoken and unspoken, that the clergy within the religious system tell us to follow! Salvation is based on these same factors as well as baptism. If someone does not fit into our perceptive “mold” of what a Christian should be, then we label them as “lost,” “sinners,” “not right with God,” “reprobates,” “heathen,” etc. Standing in God’s place of judgment, we treat them differently and shun them. We isolate ourselves and our families from them as if they had a plague of sin that would affect and corrupt our righteousness. By doing these things, we break the most important commandment of all – to LOVE our neighbor as ourselves. Additionally, we give off a “better than thou” attitude that leaves a stench in the nostrils of those we are trying to reach for God!]

The Christians were those who had been baptised with water, those who partook of the bread and wine, or as it was now called, the Sacrament or the mysteries [calling it such was one of the many corruptions by clergy]. Not that there were wanting other tokens of discipleship of a less formal kind; the martyrdoms, the conduct of the Church during the times of famine and pestilence, and the holy watchful life of thousands, both in and out of office, still affording a shining testimony to the world around of the vital and energetic power of the Gospel. But in proportion as more importance was attached to the ceremonial distinction, the moral difference was overlooked.  [This is a very important statement here. When religious leaders put more weight on outward appearances and rules, the wicked thoughts and intents of the heart will manifest themselves in hidden abuses such as rape, domestic violence, incest, physical abuse, pedophilia, sex trafficking and other such crimes. As we have seen in overwhelming evidence on this blog, the internet is full of stories of these atrocities taking place hidden under the mantle of the church. The “church” has become a safe haven for criminals because they look and sound good on the outside!]

When a man like Gregory Thaumaturgus could adopt a pliable policy, and make the holy rule of the Gospel bend to the vicious habits of the newly baptised heathen, it is easy to account for the decline in morality. And after the edicts of Milan, when admissions into the Church took place in a still more wholesale manner, the maintenance of morals and discipline must have been extremely difficult, not to say impossible. [Throughout the early church, moral corruption was rampant – just as it is today. If we just do our homework and search the internet, we will find countless thousands of articles of such abuses and crimes as well as many victims speaking out about their abuses.]

Moreover, as the danger became more urgent, the voices of the watchmen on the walls grew fainter. [The “watchmen” were supposed to be church leaders. Their voices grew fainter because they had no desire to rid the church of the crimes, many of which, I believe, they were complicit in.] After the second century the influence of the Montanists rapidly declined, whilst the Novatians and others who pleaded more or less earnestly for a return to primitive manners and discipline, seemed never to have gained the ear of the general Church. Here and there, however, the cry of warning was still heard from individuals. [Those that are trying to expose the corruptions and deliver truth to the people, will always be ignored and/or silenced. This still takes place today. We must also add to this the use of character assassination — used against those that try to get the truth to people.]

Amongst these was Aerius. He was a native of Pontus or Armenia, and a friend of the semi-Arian Eustathius, bishop of Sebaste, by whom he was made a presbyter. Disputes arose between himself and the bishop, which widened into a rupture with the Church; and Aerius and his followers, who were numerous, openly separated from their fellow Christians. They also renounced the possession of worldly property. The teaching of Aerius on some points remarkably anticipated that of the most enlightened Protestants at the time of the Reformation, and drew upon him the hostility of the orthodox Church. Epiphanius, who attacks him in no measured language, brings forward four special counts upon which he charges him with heresy. The first is his assertion that the Holy Scriptures make no distinction between a bishop and a presbyter. Next, that prayers and offerings for the dead are not only useless but pernicious: if they avail to the benefit of the departed, no one need trouble himself to live holily, he will only have to provide by bribes or otherwise a multitude of persons to make prayers and offerings for him, and his salvation will be secure. Although a monk he condemned all set fasts: a Christian man should fast when he feels it to be for his soul’s good; appointed days of fasting are relics of Jewish bondage. Lastly, he ridiculed the observance of Easter as a Jewish superstition, insisting that Christians should keep no Passover, because Paul declares Christ, who was slain for us to be our Paschal Lamb. [Aerius was telling the truth here and the church leaders wanted him silenced! A rule of thumb is to “label” those truths as “heresy.” Then, label the truth teller as a “heretic.” By doing so, no one will believe the truth and continue to believe the lies instead.  These same tactics are still being used today within religion as a whole.]

“Aerius,” says his biographer, “brought scriptural weapons to the attack of the fast growing Sacerdotalism of the age; dared to call in question the prerogatives of the Episcopate; and struggled to deliver the Church from the yoke of ceremonies which were threatening to become as deadening and more burdensome than the rites of Judaism.” The warning voice was uttered, but it fell on closed ears. “The protest,” he continues, “was premature; centuries had to elapse before it could be effectually renewed.” But alas ! the rulers of the Church not only rejected the warning; they persecuted the messengers. [This sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? Persecute and silence the messengers of truth. Persecute and silence those that expose abuse or speak out about their own abuse at the hands of the church and its leaders. Persecute, silence and discredit those that expose the corruptions in translation of scripture. Church leaders and church people can be vicious about their attacks on those that speak out or expose what’s hidden or corrupted. Look at what they did to Aerius.]

Aerius and his associates were denied admission to the churches, and even access to the towns and villages, and were compelled to sojourn in the fields or in caves and ravines, and hold their religious assemblies in the open air, exposed to the cruel severity of the Armenian winter. Aerius lived about A.D. 355.

[Make life unbearable for these “heretics.” Follow them where ever they go and persecute them. Stop them from being able to get the bare necessities of life. Slap lawsuits on them to cripple them financially. Take to blogs and websites to slander and discredit them. Show the world the “genuine, unconditional love of God you have” for your fellow man that you exude by doing such things (Being facetious here). THIS is the FRUIT of the religious system at its finest. Is there any wonder that people are fleeing the faith?

By these tactics, you will know who truly AREN’T God’s people. For they fill many of the churches of today and, instead of extending love toward others, they extend hatred and slander toward victims of abuse who speak out, hatred and slander toward those that expose corruption in the church, hatred and slander toward those that expose corruption in translation of scripture;  and, they offer up murder against those that live or believe differently. “They should be stoned!” they say. It never occurs to them that the intent of their heart is MURDER. They are guilty of murder in their heart, and believe it is justified – all in the “name of God.”   Instead, they should be showering their fellow man with love, letting “unconditional” LOVE do its work in the hearts of men, leading them to the “unconditional love of God” that can penetrate even the hardest heart and lead many to repentance and faith.

For those that do these things to their fellow man “in the name of God,” they are not only exuding hatred, abuse and slander, but they are breaking the Third Commandment. Since when is hatred, slander, abuse and murder justifiable? Sadly, there are some Christians that think it is if it’s done in God’s name.]

The Fruit of Silence

There are countless women out there that genuinely believe that what religion teaches about women is “of God.” They have been taught that:

  • Their value is “less than” a man’s in God’s eyes.
  • They are to keep silence in the church; that GOD does not want to hear them in “his house.”
  • They are to be in submission to their husbands, or other men.
  • They cannot teach men or, have authority over them.
  • They are to endure abuse and abusive marriages.
  • They have no rights or autonomy, but are a product and reflection of the religious beliefs of the sects they are a part of, or a reflection of their husbands.
  • They should not be educated or hold jobs.

Sadly, there are countless women the world over that have been brainwashed into believing they are worthless because of these religious teachings.  Their value as women, have been stripped from them. The abuses that women endure even today defy conscience and morality. Sexual abuse and mutilation are rampant and affect all ages of women even down to the smallest little girls. Sex trafficking and prostitution are rampant. Physical abuse and emotional abuses are widespread.  All of these things are a result of religion propagating a mindset in men the world over that leads to all of these abuses. But the truth is that GOD did not say or teach any of these things listed above about women! Consistently, on this blog, I have been exposing the corruptions in translation and teaching by the translators of the early centuries. I have cited the evidence from re-known scholars of today and the early centuries; as well as historians. The evidence is clear and, it is damning to religion and those that use it as a weapon to control, dominate and abuse women.

As usual, I will cite one of several Hebrew and Greek Scholars of the early centuries on this subject – Katherine Bushnell. She has taken great pains to expose the lies of the religious elite and the errors in their teachings and translation of scripture.

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That we might make no mistake as to God’s own approval upon women of old who broke the silence of public assemblies, we have it expressly told us that Miriam, Deborah, Huldah and Anna were all “prophetesses,”—for they are so called where their names are mentioned. It behooves us to ask, What is it to prophesy, in the Biblical use of the word? Scholars will agree that the primal thought of the word is that of one who is acting as a spokesman for another. The idea of prediction is not necessarily implied. But as a true prophet in the Bible is one who speaks for God, and as God does not live nor necessarily speak, within the limits of time, by which mortals are bound (but, to Him, yesterday, today and tomorrow are all present), therefore it follows that what He causes mortals to say for Him often relates to a future as yet not experienced by them; hence we use this verb in a secondary sense, “to foretell.” But let us keep in mind its proper meaning, – to speak for God.

It is certain that women were not, as theology has claimed, subordinated to men from the day Eve sinned. History proves that that subordination was gradually brought about by men themselves, and was not accomplished for hundreds of years. It is as certain that not one syllable can be found in the Old Testament ordering women to “keep silence” in the Jewish public assemblies; and it would be astounding, since women were NOT silenced under the Old Covenant, if it were true that they were silenced for the sin of Eve under the New, and strike at the very heart of the teaching of which is, “There is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

The congregation of Israel, a religious body called by God out of bondage and into the wilderness, was certainly a “church.” Indeed, Stephen spoke of it as “the church in the wilderness,” Acts 7:38. The very first note of praise raised by God in that “church,” was responded to by Miriam and her women, with timbrel and dance—“Miriam the Prophetess” (Ex. 15:20). And why should she have been called by the inspired Word “the prophetess,” if God had never, and did never use her voice to declare His will to Israel? God gives no empty (lying) titles. And this woman prophetess, was one of three great leaders of whom God said: “I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. . . and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron and Miriam” (Micah 6:4).

And women were not silent in the Tabernacle, after the children of Israel became a settled people in the Promised Land. Where else did Hannah sing that wonderful psalm of praise she composed for the dedication of Samuel to the Lord’s service at the Tabernacle? All the context here goes to show she “prayed” it (1Sam. 2:1) in public (compare 1:28 and 2:11); and it became public property, preserved to us to the present day, and its comforting words re-echoed in a dozen Psalms, composed in later days, like this, for the service of the Temple.

And women were not silent in the Temple: We have high authority for believing that two Psalms, at least, were meant for women’s voices alone (Psalm 8 and 45). Hannah must have been gifted in music. Her Song proved this; and her son Samuel, as can be gleaned from many incidental statements in the Bible (and as has been so well brought out in a book by Dean Payne-Smith. “Prophecy a Preparation for Christ”), taught his young prophets, whom he had in training, to praise the Lord in song.

This writer says: “One of that choir [of the prophet Samuel] was Heman, the son of Joel, Samuel’s first-born (1 Chron. 6:33, 1 Sam 8:2), who there acquired that mastery of music which made him one of the three singers selected by David. . . to arrange and preside over the Temple service (1 Chron. 25). Blessed with a numerous family, who all seem to have inherited Samuel’s musical ability, he trained them all for song in the house of Jehovah, with cymbals, psalteries and harps (1 Chron. 25:6), and it is remarkable that no less than fourteen of the twenty-four courses of singers were Samuel’s own descendants, and that as long as the first Temple stood they were the chief performers of that Psalmody which he had instituted.”

“God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord.” This certainly proves that women did not “keep silence” in the Temple. We know this also from the mention of the “woman-singers” in Ezra 2:65, and Neh. 7:67. The same thing is made clear by the description of a religious procession, Psalm 68:25. If, as Dean Payne-Smith says, “Psalmody commenced with that hymn of triumph sung by Miriam and the women on the shores of the Red Sea, with timbrel and dance,” surely psalmody was introduced into the Temple service by the Song of Hanna, taken up by Samuel and his female as well as male descendants, through Heman, and extended through the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, by both women and men. There is no just reason for supposing that women ever ceased to have their part in prophecy with song, up to the days of Anna, the aged prophetess, who never left the Temple, but preached there, to the worshippers, that Messiah had come (Luke 2:36,38).

It was not until after woman had brought the Redeemer into the word,–not until after she had given her testimony to the most important facts in the Christian’s faith, and convinced the early disciples of their truth; not until long after Paul’s days, when “grievous wolves” had entered the flock, as Paul said they would do (Acts 20:29); and wrested Paul’s language, as Peter said they did (2 Pet. 3:15-16), that the teaching arose that Paul had silenced women, veiled them, and subordinated them to men. We have shown that his language is capable of more consistent interpretation.

–Katherine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, pgs 340-342.

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Consistently, I have given voice to the corruptions regarding women. Once again, I give voice to the corruption that women have been silenced. They have not. What is taught by religions the world over regarding women is either abusive or, leads to abusive mindsets, attitudes and actions. Women have borne the brunt of some of the most heinous crimes against humanity as a result of religious teachings aimed at subjugating and controlling women. Their value has been stripped from them so much so that many men regard them as nothing more than property to be used and discarded. In countries where they are allowed to be part of the work force, they are underpaid for the same jobs that men do; and in many instances, they are bullied and sexually discriminated against by other men.  Their dignity and autonomy has been stripped from them as well. They are being forced into servitude to wicked and abusive men as a result; with no protections afforded them from such abuse.  The culture that has mutated from these mindsets is a rape culture. Women are not protected by laws, instead victims of rape are being held up as the “guilty party” instead of holding men accountable for their crimes against women.

Women need to educate themselves outside of mens teachings of what THEY say “God said” and really study what God actually says. In doing so, we will find that much of what we believed is rooted in the “opinions and doctrines of men” and is only aimed at sexual dominance and control. It has taken centuries for the religious mindsets to proliferate and create the culture we live in today. Today, not only are women being raped, children and infants are being raped!  But it’s not too late for that to be changed. It just takes the courage of victims everywhere to step up to the plate and speak out about the abuses they have endured. The problems are all rooted in “silence.” Silence breeds corruption, violence and abuse and, those that bear the putrid fruit of the violence – suffering, psychological disorders, physical pain and suffering, death—are women and children. Laws need to change drastically to hold MEN accountable for their own actions, instead of punishing victims. These changes in law have to start with voices being heard – victims voices from every corner of the world.

Character Assassination – Part 3

CAThroughout this three part series, we have discovered that there are many tactics that can be used to silence and discredit those that expose abuse and lies, or, question the dogmas, doctrines and rules of the church. History is fraught with the use of these tactics against God’s people who would not bow to the authority of the Church of Rome or its leaders. The religious crowd has become very proficient in Character Assassination because they have had centuries of practice to really get good at it.

Throughout history and today, Character Assassination is the tool of Evil men and women. It is not a tool of God. Those that use it to spread hate and slander against others, are not God’s people. During Tyndale’s era, it always led to death. Today, in many countries, it still leads to death. This tactic, we must realize, is a tool of Evil and always lends itself to such. But let’s look at the final tactics of Character Assassination as it pertained to William Tyndale.

The Martyrdom of William Tyndale (1536)william tyndale

       The New Foxes Book of Martyrs,

                    Pages 129 – 133

When Tyndale had translated the Book of Deuteronomy, he wanted to print it in Hamburg, Germany, and so started by ship in that direction. But his ship was wrecked on the coast of Holland, and he lost all his books, writings and copies, money and time, and had to start over again. He continued to Hamburg on another ship, and with the help of a Master Coverdale, re-translated all five books of Moses — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy — from Easter until December of 1529, in the house of a pious widow, Mistress Margaret Van Emmerson. After finishing, he returned to Antwerp.

At the end of his English New Testament, Tyndale inserted a letter asking any who read the translation to inform him if they found the least error in it, or if there was any of the translation that they thought was wrong and should be corrected. But the papist clergy, not wanting the book to succeed, cried out against it and said there were a thousand heresies in it, and that it was not to be corrected, but totally done away with.

Tactic # 10: LIE, LIE, LIE – while continuing to perpetrate tactics #7, #8 and #9!

Some of the clergy said it wasn’t possible to translate the Scriptures into English. Some said it wasn’t lawful for the lay people to have a New Testament in their common language. Some said it would make all the lay people heretics. And to persuade secular rulers like Sir Thomas More to be on their side, which he already was since he was an unswerving Roman Catholic, they said it would make the people rebel against the king.

These English clergymen, who should have been guides of light to the people, would not translate the Bible themselves or allow anyone else to translate it. All they wanted was to keep the people in darkness and manipulate their consciences with foolish superstitions and false doctrines. In that way they could satisfy their personal ambitions and greedy covetousness, and exalt their own honor above that of any king or emperor — even above Christ Himself.

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Ok, it’s time for me to interject some thoughts here. WOW! I have been shouting this truth for over a year now in my books, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse and, The Truth About Tithing. I have also been shouting this truth on this blog at every opportunity in my articles! NOW, we see the root causes once again, that are the reason for all of this garbage the clergy have been dishing out to Tyndale; and they are the same root causes that exist today! They are the reason for the Character Assassination of those that speak out against the lies of the religious system and the abuses they hide. The root causes are: GREED, POWER and PRESTIGE. If you have not read the Balaam Phenomenon that I have on my blog, I would suggest doing so as it covers this topic in today’s terms. Now that we know what drives the church “system” and its leaders, let’s continue the story.

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The bishops and other church officials never rested until the king agreed with them.

Tactic #11: Get the secular authorities involved! Believe it or not, but religious leaders have connections within government. When they need to use them, they do. Lawsuits are one of the many favorite tactics religious leaders use against those that speak out or expose abuse. Religious leaders also use the legal system to separate and destroy family units.

And so in 1537, a proclamation was hastily written and published under secular authority prohibiting Tyndale’s New Testament translation anywhere in England. Not satisfied with that, however, the clergy proceeded to make plans to entangle Tyndale in their nets and take his life from him.

Tactic 12: Kill the “heretic.” Unfortunately, I know personally, religious abuse survivors that have had numerous death threats because they exposed lies and abuses within their respective churches. Yes, it still takes place even today. These death threats came from “Christians.” 

They did it this way.

Tactic 13: KNOW your heretic well. This helps in entrapping them.

From examining the records of London, it is obvious that the bishops and Sir Thomas More had in their custody several who had been with Tyndale in Antwerp, and they carefully questioned them to find out all they could about Tyndale, what belonged to him, in whose house he stayed, where the house was, what he looked like, how he dressed when he went out, where he usually went, and where he met with others. When they had learned all these things, they set about to work their ungodly deed.

Tactic 14: Find someone who will pretend to be the “heretics” friend and then betray him, or, bribe and existing friend to betray him. In Tyndale’s case, they did both.

In Antwerp, William Tyndale had lived about a year in the house of Thomas Pointz, an Englishman who kept a boarding house for English merchants. A Henry Philips, whose father was a merchant and did business in Antwerp, came to the city seemingly on business for his father. He had a servant with him and seemed to be a trustworthy gentleman. Tyndale often ate dinner in a place frequented by merchants, and there he met Philips, who somehow quickly gained Tyndale’s confidence and friendship. So much so, that Tyndale had him over to Pointz’s house to visit and once or twice to dinner. He even obtained temporary lodgings for Philips at the house, and so trusted him that he showed him his books and other secret things in his study.

Thomas Pointz, however, had no such confidence in Philips and asked Tyndale how he became acquainted with him. Tyndale replied that he was an honest man, well educated, and quite in agreement with his plans. Seeing that Philips had such favor with Tyndale, Pointz said no more, thinking that they probably became acquainted through some mutual friend.

After some time in the city, Philips asked Pointz to show him around the commercial area where he might make some purchases. During their walk they talked about various things, including affairs of the king of England, but nothing was said that made Pointz suspect anything. After awhile, however, Pointz began to understand that Philips was trying to determine whether for money he would help him in a plan he had. Pointz knew that Philips had plenty of money, for several times Philips had asked him for help in obtaining certain things, always of the best, and Philips always said, “I have enough money.” The plan and money were eventually discussed, and Pointz agreed to what Philips wanted him to do.

The next day Philips went to Brussels, about twenty-four miles from Antwerp, and brought back with him the procurator-general, who was the emperor’s attorney, and several officers of the law. About three days later Pointz went to Barrois, eighteen miles from Antwerp, where he said he had business that would keep him away from his house for four to six weeks.

A few days after Pointz left, Henry Philips came to Pointz’s house about midmorning and asked his wife if Master Tyndale was there. When told that he was, he left and positioned the officers he brought from Brussels in the street and around the front door. About noon he came back and went to Tyndale’s rooms and asked him to lend him forty shillings, “for,” he said, “I lost my wallet this morning on the trip from Mechelen.” So Master Tyndale gave him forty shillings, which was easy to get from him if he had it, for he was a trusting man and inexperienced in the deceptive ways of the world. Then Philip said, “Master Tyndale, you shall by my dinner guest here today.”

Tyndale replied, “No, I’m going out today to dinner, and you are welcome to come with me and be my guest.”

So when it was dinner time, they left Tyndale’s rooms to go out. At the front of Pointz’s house was a narrow entryway that only one could go through at a time. Tyndale courteously offered to let Philips go first, but Philips made a show of it and insisted that Tyndale go first. Master Tyndale was a short man, and Philips was quie a bit taller. When they got to the door where Philips had positioned the officers in such a way that they could see who came out, he pointed downward toward Tyndale from behind him to let the officers know that he was the one they should arrest. After they put Tyndale into prison, the officers told Thomas Pointz that they felt sorry for Tyndale when they saw how simple and trusting he was.

After Tyndale’s arrest, the procurator-general and some officers went to Tyndale’s rooms and took away everything that belonged to him, including all his writings and books. They then took Tyndale to the castle of Vilvorde, eighteen miles from Antwerp.

In prison, Tyndale was offered the services of a procurator to represent him, and an advocator to speak for him, both of which he refused, saying he would speak for himself. During his imprisonment, Tyndale preached so much and well to his jailers and those who came to know him, that they reported that if Tyndale wasn’t a good Christian man they had no way of knowing who was.

Tactic 15: Use the legal system against the “heretic” to finish the job. Believe it or not, many abusive men and women have used the legal system to intimidate and destroy people’s lives. If you can destroy someone legally, you can utterly destroy them.

Although Tyndale answered the questions of his inquisitors truthfully and with good use of reason, no reason was enough to save him from their hate and determination to destroy him and his work. Although he did not deserve to die, he was condemned by reason of a decree made by holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, when the emperor and the Roman Catholics rejected the Protestant position that was presented to the assembly.

On October 6, 1536, in the town of Vilvorde in the Netherlands, William Tyndale, God’s first translator of the New Testament into English, was brought to a place of execution, tied to a stake, strangled by the hangman to the point of death, and then burned in fire for doing God’s work. As he met the Lord, Tyndale cried with a loud voice, “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes!”

So powerful was Tyndale’s doctrine and the godliness of his life, that during the year and a half of his imprisonment, it is said that he converted the jailer and his daughter and several others of his household.

Concerning his translation of the New Testament, because his enemies found so many faults in disagreeable ways and claimed it was full of heresy, William Tyndale wrote from prison to his friend, John Frith, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before the Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would I do so this day if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches might be given to me.”

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Now, let me wrap up this story by bringing this subject of Character Assassination around to today. Injustice is always a tragedy. When those that try to expose corruption, abuse, lies and deception step forward, it automatically brings with it the possibility of Character Assassination. But, don’t let it stop you from coming forward because, if enough do, it can totally change the playing field for the better. There really is power in numbers!  If you see someone slandering another person and their work, think about William Tyndale and this tactic. If you see a blog that attacks others by name, and tries to discredit their works, think about William Tyndale.  REAL Christians should NOT do these things. They should have the genuine LOVE, GRACE and CHARACTER to reason, agree to disagree, and move on. There is a way to disagree with someone in love and, history also tells us how it is done. Read, Handling Opposing Beliefs, that I wrote back on July 12th. It will tell you how it’s done.

Anyone that cannot disagree with others while still being respectful and gracious toward them, has a problem. They are not concerned with treating those they oppose with respect, honor and dignity.

Any person whose main goal is to attack and discredit through any of the mentioned tactics of Character Assassination, those with opposing views or beliefs, those that expose lies in doctrine or dogma, or, those that expose  abuses, should be ignored. Don’t help them spread their hate toward others by sharing their articles expressly aimed at hurting, humiliating, discrediting and destroying someone else.

Also, did you know that you CAN disagree with someone while not naming them? Those who use names with the express intent to hurt the individual and publicly humiliate them are practicing Character Assassination. Let’s do our best not to participate in Character Assassination by spreading gossip and slander or, spreading hateful blogs and blog articles whose sole purpose is to publicly humiliate and destroy an individual’s credibility. Otherwise, this makes us complicit in this evil called, Character Assassination, and, speaks volumes of the type of character we are projecting to others.

It takes a conscious effort to “see” the effects of our actions toward others. Many participate without even realizing that they are! It’s time to be more aware of this tactic in our lives. It’s time to tell ourselves that we will not participate in it any more. It’s time to treat people with love, respect, honor and dignity while still being able to disagree.

Character Assassination – Part 2

CAIn part one of this article, I chose to cover the topic of Character Assassination by taking some early church history and dissecting it to see the tactics the church uses against those that have differing views or beliefs, question or oppose the church’s dogmas, doctrines or rules, question leadership, or expose lies and abuses. This tactic of Character Assassination shows itself throughout church history. It is not an isolated weapon used only a few times. Even today, this weapon of choice is used against those that oppose religious teachings, rules, doctrine, etc., or expose abuses.

In part one, we discovered five tactics thus far, used against William Tyndale that are currently used today in religious institutions. When I left off with Tyndale’s story, he had just moved to Germany in order to flee the persecution from religious leaders in England. Because of the nature of some of the truths expounded in his story, I would like to also take the time to extract them for the reader to see. So, not only will I continue to highlight tactics as we get to them in his story but, I will also highlight certain truths that are important for every religious person to understand and realize. Why? Because what Tyndale dealt with is the same stuff that we deal with today in TODAY’s churches with religious leaders of all walks of faith.  There is a reason for deception in teaching – that reason is control, as we shall soon see.

Let’s look at the rest of his story.

The Martyrdom of William Tyndale (1536)william tyndale

The New Foxes Book of Martyrs,

Pages 125 – 129

After meeting with John Frith, Martin Luther, and other colleagues, Tyndale decided that the only way he could obtain the benefits he wanted from his translation, was to put it in the language spoken by the common people, so that they could read and see the simple plain Word of God. Undoubtedly he was influenced in this decision by seeing Luther’s translation and the effect it was having on the German people.

Tyndale knew it wasn’t possible to establish the lay people in any truth unless the Scriptures were so plainly laid out before their eyes in their own language that they could understand the meaning of the text. Otherwise, the enemies of the truth would destroy it by using likely but misleading arguments, traditions of their own making that were without scriptural foundations, and by juggling the text and expounding on it in such a way that it was impossible to determine if what they said was the right meaning or not.

Tactic #6: Keep the lay people ignorant of the TRUTH of God’s Word by manipulating and twisting scripture and meaning.

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Okay, let me stop here and interject some thoughts. The truth that is brought to light here is very important for everyone to digest and consider. The enemies of the TRUTH were the religious leaders of the church! They were not the heathen/pagan people.  They were not even other religious sects!  How could that be? Think about it. Tyndale knew that the religious leaders of the church had SKILL. What was that skill? Deception“Using misleading arguments, traditions of their own making that were without scriptural foundations, and by juggling the text and expounding on it in such a way that it was impossible to determine if what they said was the right meaning or not.” Does the reader realize how exceptional a skill this is? To be able to twist scripture and expound it in such a way as to gain follow-ship and keep them blind to the REAL TRUTH, is a great skill! Does the reader also realize that the clergy KNEW Tyndale was telling the truth and this incited them further to silence him?  They were not interested in TRUTH, they were interested in control. Why? Because he who CONTROLS has power to generate wealth.  Could it be that the power, prestige and money afforded them by the Church was not something they wanted anyone to mess with?  If people knew the truth, it would affect their position and income.  Another thought to consider is that these religious leaders had the ability to be able to incite to violence those same followers against someone trying their hardest to get the truth to them! Using deception to gain control is a tactic of many religious leaders and, they hone those skills with practice.

Now, back to the story.

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He was certain that the chief cause of all the trouble in the Church was because the Word of God was kept hidden from the people, and so for a long time the abominations and idolatries of the hypocritical and self-righteous clergy could not be seen. For this reason, the clergy did all they could to keep the Scriptures hidden so that they could not be read at all. And even if someone COULD read them, the clergy so twisted their meaning that the unlearned lay people who despised their abominations could not solve the riddles in their doctrines, even though they knew in their hearts that what the clergy taught them was false.

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Herein lies another great TRUTH that resonates with me in a big way. One of the biggest frustrations that I had for many years was that my study of scripture showed me things that were being taught that were not true. BUT, like these people in Tyndale’s day, the word acrobatics and twisting by clergy was so good from the pulpit that it caused me to dismiss the truths that I was seeing. My thought was, “they are more educated than me, so surely THEY must be right.” In my heart and mind, the conflict raged within me for years. Every Bible study I did was revealing truths that contradicted doctrines. Every time I came across truths, it made me angrier and angrier because, I was SEEING truth in scripture and angry that what I was taught contradicted it! It became such a mental battle that I had a sleep disorder for years. I also knew that to question clergy about doctrine would bring me under ridicule and attack from the pulpit.

What was happening to me can happen to anyone. I was interpreting scripture based on what THEY told me it meant, not on the truths that God was revealing to me through his Word! When we dismiss truth to continue to believe the lies we are told, we become pawns to be used to suit the whims of clergy. Sadly, we will even be the ones incited to hatred and violence against those that oppose us or believe differently. We will be incited to violence against those that expose the lies or abuses. We will fight against the ones that try to point out the truth with vigor and continue to believe the lies we are told.

Now, let’s get back to the story.

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For this and other reasons, God stirred up this good man to translate the Scriptures into English for the benefit of the simple people of his country. Tyndale began printing his New Testament translation in 1525 in Cologne, Germany, but was interrupted by a legal injunction and completed the printing in Worms in 1526. Soon after, his translation appeared in England. When Cuthbeth Tonstal, bishop of London, and Sir Thomas More, speaker of the House of Commons, saw the translation they were much offended and began to devise ways in which they could destroy what they called “that false, erroneous, translation.”

Tactic #7: Any works written that show TRUTH must be labeled and shown to be FALSE. This is done by twisting scripture and meaning to reinforce that the truth is a lie and then, to LABEL the work so that people will be more likely to dismiss it as such. Works can be labeled the same way that clergy label people. It works the same in both areas. However, to label the work also transfers the label onto its author.

As it happened, Augustine Packington, a textiles merchant, was at Antwerp in the Netherlands on business, and there met bishop Tonstal, who was there because Tyndale had moved there from Worms.

Tactic #8: Follow the heretic everywhere you can. Enlist the aid of others in other areas to help in your cause to destroy the heretic and his works that expose truth.

Packington liked Tyndale but told the bishop he did not. Tonstal and Thomas More had devised a plan whereby they would buy all of Tyndale’s books before they reached England, and he told this to Packington. Packington replied, “My Lord! I can do more to help you in this matter than most of the merchants here, if it would so please you. I know the Dutch men and strangers that have bought Tyndale’s books from him to resell them, so if you will give me the money I need, I will buy every book from them that has been printed and is still not sold.”

The bishop, thinking he had God “by the toe” and in his control, said, “Do your best, gentle Master Packington. Get them for me and I will pay whatever the cost, for I intend to burn and destroy them all at Paul’s Cross church in London.”

Upon receiving the bishop’s money, Packington went immediately to Tyndale and told him the whole plan, and an agreement was made between them to sell the bishop all the books he could be sold. So the bishop of London had the books, Packington had the thanks, and Tyndale now had ample money to print more books.

After this took place, Tyndale revised and corrected his New Testament and increased its printing so that three times as many books were sent to England. When the bishop learned that more books were appearing in England, he sent for Packington, who was in London on business, and said to him, “How can it be that there are so many New Testaments here? You promised me that you would buy them all.”

Packington answered, “I bought all of them that were available, but obviously they have printed more since then. It will probably get no better so long as they have stamps with which to ship the books, so you had better buy the stamps also if you want to be sure.” At this answer the bishop smiled, realizing that he had been hoodwinked, and so the matter ended.

A short time after, a George Constantine, who was suspected of certain heresies, was taken into custody by Sir Thomas More, who was now lord chancellor of England. More said to him, “Constantine, I want you to be frank with me about what I’m going to ask you. If you are, I promise you I will show favor to you in all the other things that you are accused of. Across the sea is Tyndale, Joye, and a great many like you. I know they cannot live without help. There are some that help them with money, and since you are one of them and you know where their money comes from. I urge you to tell me who is helping them.”

“My lord,” Constantine said, “I will tell you the truth. It’s the bishop of London who has helped us, for he has given us a great deal of money for New Testaments so he may burn them. He has been and is our only help and comfort.”

“I’ll keep my pledge,” said More, “for I thought that’s what it was, and so I told the bishop before he went about doing it.”

Soon after, Tyndale translated the Old Testament, and wrote introductions to each chapter that were well worth being read over and again by all who saw them. These books were taken into England by various means, and it cannot be told what a door of light they opened to the eyes of the whole English nation, which before had been shut up in darkness. Tyndale’s books, especially the New Testament translation, were of great spiritual benefit to the godly lay people, but of great harm to the ungodly clergy, who were afraid that by the shining beams of truth their deeds of darkness would be clearly seen. So they began to rouse themselves and plan how they might stop Tyndale.

Tactic #9: Spare no means to destroy the truth and those that bring it!

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I would like to offer up some more thoughts here. The clergy had done their best to keep the Word of God out of the hands of the people. By doing so, it afforded them an opportunity to manipulate and control the common people. Once the truth came to light and began to spread, people realized that they had been deceived and began to fall away from the Church of Rome. This affected the church leaders because it also affect their pocketbooks. Stomping out the root cause – the reading of scripture by the common people – was the only way they could regain control of the masses and secure their livelihoods. Church leaders wanted to maintain control of people. Control brings wealth and power. What church history tells us is that eventually, the printing of scriptures had to be banned under penalty of death because masses of people were finally being freed from the bondage to the church, and leaving it.

. . . Click Here to Continue to Part 3

Rape, Incest and Sexual Abuse

This article is a prime example of a male-dominated religious environment. Whenever there is inequality of the sexes, rape, incest and sexual abuse are rampant. Religious denominations, no matter the sect, should not have autonomy from the law like this Mennonite community has. The law needs to intervene to protect the women and young girls from this abuse. Those that have been raped, have been denied counseling AND have not been protected from further abuse.

PERPETRATORS WERE CAUGHT, BUT THE CRIMES CONTINUE

By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky

Click the following link to read the original Article:

http://www.vice.com/read/the-ghost-rapes-of-bolivia-000300-v20n8?Contentpage=-1%3Futm_source%3Dvicefbus

mennonite

All photos by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky. Noah Friedman-Rudovsky also contributed reporting to this article.

For a while, the residents of Manitoba Colony thought demons were raping the town’s women. There was no other explanation. No way of explaining how a woman could wake up with blood and semen stains smeared across her sheets and no memory of the previous night. No way of explaining how another went to sleep clothed, only to wake up naked and covered by dirty fingerprints all over her body. No way to understand how another could dream of a man forcing himself onto her in a field—and then wake up the next morning with grass in her hair.

For Sara Guenter, the mystery was the rope. She would sometimes wake up in her bed with small pieces of it tied tightly to her wrists or ankles, the skin beneath an aching blue. Earlier this year, I visited Sara at her home, simple concrete painted to look like brick, in Manitoba Colony, Bolivia. Mennonites are similar to the Amish in their rejection of modernity and technology, and Manitoba Colony, like all ultraconservative Mennonite communities, is a collective attempt to retreat as far as possible from the nonbelieving world. A slight breeze of soy and sorghum came off the nearby fields as Sara told me how, in addition to the eerie rope, on those mornings after she’d been raped she would also wake to stained sheets, thunderous headaches, and paralyzing lethargy.

Her two daughters, 17 and 18 years old, squatted silently along a wall behind her and shot me fierce blue-eyed stares. The evil had penetrated the household, Sara said. Five years ago, her daughters also began waking up with dirty sheets and complaints of pain “down below.”

The family tried locking the door; some nights, Sara did everything she could to keep herself awake. On a few occasions, a loyal Bolivian worker from the neighboring city of Santa Cruz would stay the night to stand guard. But inevitably, when their one-story home—set back and isolated from the dirt road—was not being watched, the rapes continued. (Manitobans aren’t connected to the power grid, so at night the community is submerged in total darkness.) “It happened so many times, I lost count,” Sara said in her native Low German, the only language she speaks, like most women in the community.

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Mennonite children attend school in Manitoba Colony, Bolivia.

In the beginning, the family had no idea that they weren’t the only ones being attacked, and so they kept it to themselves. Then Sara started telling her sisters. When rumors spread, “no one believed her,” said Peter Fehr, Sara’s neighbor at the time of the incidents. “We thought she was making it up to hide an affair.” The family’s pleas for help to the council of church ministers, the group of men who govern the 2,500-member colony, were fruitless—even as the tales multiplied. Throughout the community, people were waking to the same telltale morning signs: ripped pajamas, blood and semen on the bed, head-thumping stupor. Some women remembered brief moments of terror: for an instant they would wake to a man or men on top of them but couldn’t summon the strength to yell or fight back. Then, fade to black.

Some called it “wild female imagination.” Others said it was a plague from God. “We only knew that something strange was happening in the night,” Abraham Wall Enns, Manitoba Colony’s civic leader at the time, said. “But we didn’t know who was doing it, so how could we stop it?”

No one knew what to do, and so no one did anything at all. After a while, Sara just accepted those nights as a horrific fact of life. On the following mornings, her family would rise despite the head pain, strip the beds, and get on with their days.

Then, one night in June 2009, two men were caught trying to enter a neighbor’s home. The two ratted out a few friends and, falling like a house of cards, a group of nine Manitoba men, ages 19 to 43, eventually confessed that they had been raping Colony families since 2005. To incapacitate their victims and any possible witnesses, the men used a spray created by a veterinarian from a neighboring Mennonite community that he had adapted from a chemical used to anesthetize cows. According to their initial confessions (which they later recanted), the rapists admitted to—sometimes in groups, sometimes alone—hiding outside bedroom windows at night, spraying the substance through the screens to drug entire families, and then crawling inside.

But it wasn’t until their trial, which took place almost two years later, in 2011, that the full scope of their crimes came to light. The transcripts read like a horror movie script: Victims ranged in age from three to 65 (the youngest had a broken hymen, purportedly from finger penetration). The girls and women were married, single, residents, visitors, the mentally infirm. Though it’s never discussed and was not part of the legal case, residents privately told me that men and boys were raped, too.

In August 2011, the veterinarian who’d supplied the anesthetic spray was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and the rapists were each sentenced to 25 years (five years shy of Bolivia’s maximum penalty). Officially, there were 130 victims—at least one person from more than half of all Manitoba Colony households. But not all those raped were included in the legal case, and it’s believed the true number of victims is much, much higher.

In the wake of the crimes, women were not offered therapy or counseling. There was little attempt to dig deeper into the incidents beyond the confessions. And in the years since the men were nabbed, there has never been a colony-wide discussion about the events. Rather, a code of silence descended following the guilty verdict.

“That’s all behind us now,” Civic Leader Wall told me on my recent trip there. “We’d rather forget than have it be at the forefront of our minds.” Aside from interactions with the occasional visiting journalist, no one talks about it anymore.

But over the course of a nine-month investigation, including an 11-day stay in Manitoba, I discovered that the crimes are far from over. In addition to lingering psychological trauma, there’s evidence of widespread and ongoing sexual abuse, including rampant molestation and incest. There’s also evidence that—despite the fact that the initial perpetrators are in jail—the rapes by drugging continue to happen.

The demons, it turns out, are still out there.

Eight Mennonite men are serving sentences in prison for the rapes of more than 130 women in Manitoba Colony. One of the alleged rapists escaped and now resides in Paraguay.

Eight Mennonite men are serving sentences in prison for the rapes of more than 130 women in Manitoba Colony. One of the alleged rapists escaped and now resides in Paraguay.

At first glance, life for Manitoba’s residents seems an idyllic existence, enviable by new-age off-the-gridders: families live off the land, solar panels light homes, windmills power potable water wells. When one family suffers a death, the rest take turns cooking meals for the grieving. The richer families subsidize schoolhouse maintenance and teachers’ salaries. Mornings begin with homemade bread, marmalade, and milk still warm from the cows outside. At dusk, children play tag in the yard as their parents sway in rockers and watch the sunset.

Not all Mennonites live in sheltered worlds. There are 1.7 million of them in 83 different countries. From community to community, their relationships to the modern world vary considerably. Some eschew modernity entirely; others live in insular worlds but allow cars, TVs, cell phones, and varied dress. Many live among, and are virtually indistinguishable from, the rest of society.

The religion was formed as an offshoot of the Protestant Reformation in 1520s Europe, by a Catholic priest named Menno Simons. Church leaders lashed out against Simons’s encouragement of adult baptism, pacifism, and his belief that only by leading a simple life could one get to heaven. Threatened by the new doctrine, the Protestant and Catholic churches began persecuting his followers throughout Central and Western Europe. Most Mennonites—as Simons’s followers came to be known—refused to fight because of their vow of nonviolence, and so they fled to Russia where they were given settlements to live unbothered by the rest of society.

But by the 1870s, persecution began in Russia, too, so the group next sought refuge in Canada, welcomed by a government in need of pioneer settlers. On arrival, many Mennonites began adopting modern dress, language, and other aspects of contemporary life. A small group, however, continued to believe that they would only be allowed into heaven if they lived in the ways of their forefathers, and they were appalled to see their fellow followers so easily seduced by the new world. This group, known as the “Old Colonists,” abandoned Canada in the 1920s, in part because the government demanded school lessons be taught in English, and hinted at standardizing a country-wide curriculum. (Even today, Old Colony schooling is taught in German, is strictly Bible-based, and ends at 13 for boys and 12 for girls.)

The Old Colonists migrated to Paraguay and Mexico, where there was ample farmland, little technology, and most importantly, promises by the respective national governments to let them live as they wished. But in the 1960s, when Mexico introduced its own educational reform that threatened to limit Mennonite autonomy, another migration began. Old Colonies subsequently sprouted up in more remote parts of the Americas, with a heavy concentration in Bolivia and Belize.

Today, there are about 350,000 Old Colonists worldwide, and Bolivia is home to more than 60,000 of them. Manitoba Colony, which was formed in 1991, looks like a relic of the old world dropped in the middle of the new: a pale-skinned, blue-eyed island of order amid the sea of chaos that is South America’s most impoverished and indigenous country. The colony thrives economically off its members’ supreme work ethic, ample fertile fields, and collective milk factory.

Manitoba has emerged as the ultimate safe haven for Old Colony true believers. Other colonies in Bolivia have loosened their codes, but Manitobans fervently reject cars, and all of their tractors have steel tires, as owning any mechanized vehicle with rubber tires is seen as a cardinal sin because it enables easy contact with the outside world. Men are forbidden from growing facial hair and don denim overalls except in church, where they wear slacks. Girls and women wear identically tied intricate braids, and you’d be hard pressed to find a dress with a length or sleeve that varies more than a few millimeters from the preordained design. For Manitoba residents, these aren’t arbitrary rules: they form the one path to salvation and colonists obey because, they believe, their souls depend on it.

As all Old Colonists desire, Manitoba has been left to its own devices. Except in the case of murder, the Bolivian government does not obligate community leaders to report any crime. Police have virtually no jurisdiction inside the community, nor do state or municipal authorities. The colonists maintain law and order through a de facto government of nine ministers and a ruling bishop, all of whom are elected for life. Beyond being mandated by the Bolivian government to ensure that all residents have a state identity card, Manitoba functions almost as its own sovereign nation.

Abraham Wall Enns (center) with his family. Abraham was the chief civic leader of Manitoba Colony, Bolivia, during the time of the rapes.

Abraham Wall Enns (center) with his family. Abraham was the chief civic leader of Manitoba Colony, Bolivia, during the time of the rapes.

I covered the Manitoba rape trial in 2011 for Time. Haunted ever since my first visits to the Colony, I wanted to know how the victims were faring. I also wondered if the heinous crimes perpetrated on its residents were an anomaly, or if they had exposed deeper cracks in the community. Is it possible that the insular world of the Old Colonies, rather than fostering peaceful coexistence unmoored by the trappings of modern society, is perhaps fomenting its own demise? I was compelled to go back and find out.

I arrived late on a moonlit Friday night in January. I was greeted by the warm smiles of Abraham and Margarita Wall Enns who were standing on the porch of their small home, set back from the road by a manicured and tree-lined driveway. Though notoriously reclusive, Old Colonists are kind to outsiders who don’t seem to threaten their way of life, and that’s how I’d arrived there: I had met Abraham, a freckled, six-foot-tall leader in the community, in 2011, and he said that I should stay with him and his family if I ever came back. Now I was here, hoping to see Old Colony life up close while interviewing residents about the rapes and their aftermath.

Inside the spotless house, Margarita showed me to my bedroom, next to the two other rooms in which her nine children were already sleeping. “We had this installed for security,” she said, grabbing a three-inch-thick steel door at the bottom of the stairs. There had apparently been some robberies (blamed on Bolivians) recently. “Sleep well,” she told me before bolting shut the door that separated me and her family from the rest of the world.

The next morning, I rose before dawn with the rest of the household. On any given day, the two eldest daughters—Liz, 22, and Gertrude, 18—spend the majority of their time washing dishes and clothes, preparing meals, milking the cows, and keeping a spotless home. I did my best not to screw up as I helped with the chores. I was exhausted by lunchtime.

Housework is outside the domain of Abraham and the six Wall boys; it’s possible they’ll go through their entire lives without ever clearing their own plates. They work the fields, but since this was the farming off-season, the older ones assembled tractor equipment their father imports from China, while the youngest pair climbed the barn posts and played with pet parakeets. Abraham allows the boys to kick around a soccer ball and practice Spanish by reading the occasional newspaper delivered weekly from Santa Cruz; however, any other organized activity, be it competitive sport, dance, or music, could jeopardize their eternal salvation and is strictly forbidden.

The Walls told me that luckily no one within their family fell victim to the rapists, but like everyone else in the community they knew all about it. One day, Liz agreed to accompany me on my interviews with rape victims in the community. A curious and quick young woman who learned Spanish from the family’s Bolivian cook, she was happy for an excuse to get out of the house and socialize.

We set out in a horse-drawn buggy along dirt roads. During the ride, Liz told me about her memories during the time of the scandal. As far as she knows, the perpetrators never entered her home. When I asked her if she was ever scared, she said no. “I didn’t believe it,” she told me. “So I only got scared once they confessed. Then it became real.”

When I asked Liz whether she thought the rapes could have been stopped earlier if these women had been taken seriously, she just wrinkled her eyebrows. Hadn’t the Colony given the rapists liberty to attack for four years, in part, because people had blamed the crimes on “wild female imagination”? She didn’t reply, but seemed lost in thought as she steered us along the dirt road.

We pulled into the pebbled courtyard of a large house, and I went inside for an interview while Liz waited outside in the buggy. In a dark living room, I spoke with Helena Martens, a middle-aged mother of 11 children, and her husband. She sat on a couch and they kept the window shades drawn as we talked about what had happened to her nearly five years ago.

Sometime in 2008, Helena told me, she had heard a hissing sound as she settled into bed. She smelled a strange odor too, but after her husband made sure the gas canister in the kitchen wasn’t leaking, they fell asleep. She vividly recalls waking up in the middle of the night to “a man on top of me and others in the room, but I couldn’t raise my arms in defense.” She quickly slipped back into a dead sleep and then the next morning her head throbbed and her sheets were soiled.

The rapists attacked her several more times over the next few years. Helena suffered from various medical complications during this period, including an operation related to her uterus. (Sex and reproductive health is such a taboo for conservative Mennonites that most women are never taught the correct names for intimate body parts, which inhibited certain descriptions of what took place during the attacks and in their aftermath.) One morning she woke in such pain that “I thought I was going to die,” she said.

Helena, like the other rape victims in Manitoba, was never offered the chance to speak with a professional therapist, even though she said she would if given the opportunity. “Why would they need counseling if they weren’t even awake when it happened?” Manitoba Colony Bishop Johan Neurdorf, the community’s highest authority, had told a visitor back in 2009 after the perpetrators were caught.

Other victims I interviewed—those who awoke during the rapes, as well as those with no memory of the night—said that they would also have liked to speak with a therapist about their experiences but that doing so would be nearly impossible because there are no Low German-speaking sexual-trauma recovery experts in Bolivia.

All of the women I spoke with were unaware that the greater Mennonite world, particularly progressive groups in Canada and the US, had offered to send Low German counselors to Manitoba. Of course, this meant that they also had no clue that it was the men in the colony who had rejected these offers. After centuries of tension with their less-traditional brethren, Old Colonist leadership regularly block any attempts at direct contact with their members initiated by these groups. They saw the offer for psychological support from afar as yet another thinly veiled attempt to encourage the abandonment of their old ways.

The leadership’s refusal likely had other underlying reasons, too, such as not wanting these women’s emotional trauma to stir things up or draw too much attention to the community. I had already been told that a woman’s role in an Old Colony was to obey and submit to her husband’s command. A local minister explained to me that girls are schooled a year less than boys because females have no need to learn math or bookkeeping, which is taught during the extra boys-only term. Women can neither be ministers nor vote to elect them. They also can’t legally represent themselves, as the rape case made painfully apparent. Even the plaintiffs in the trial were five men—a selected group of victims’ husbands or fathers—rather than the women themselves.

But while it was tempting to accept the black-and-white gender roles in Manitoba, my visit also revealed shades of gray. I saw men and women share decision-making in their homes. At extended family gatherings on Sundays, the women-only kitchens felt full with big personalities and loud laughter, while men sat solemnly outside discussing the drought. And I spent long afternoons with confident and engaged young women such as Liz and her friends, who, like their peers anywhere, see each other when they can to vent about the annoying things their parents do and get updates on who broke whose heart last week.

When it came to the rapes, these times of strong female bonding—and the safe space provided by such a segregated daily routine—offered comfort. Victims told me they leaned on their sisters or cousins, especially as they tried to adjust back to regular life in the wake of the trial.

Those under the age of 18 named in the lawsuit were brought in for psychological assessment as mandated by Bolivian law, and court documents note that every one of these young girls showed signs of posttraumatic stress and was recommended for long-term counseling—but not one has received any form of therapy since their evaluations. Unlike adult women who found at least some solace with their sisters or cousins, many young girls may not have even had a chance to speak with anyone about their experiences after their government-mandated assessments.

In Helena’s living room, she told me how her daughter was also raped, but the two have never spoken about it, and the girl, now 18, doesn’t even know that her mom is also a rape survivor. In Old Colonies, rapes bring shame upon the victim; survivors are stained, and throughout the community other parents of the youngest victims told me that it was all better left unspoken.

“She was too young” to talk about it, the father of another victim, who was 11 when she was raped, told me. He and his wife never explained to the girl why she woke with pain one morning, bleeding so much she had to be taken to the hospital. She was whisked through subsequent medical visits with nurses who didn’t speak her language and was never once told that she had been raped. “It was better she just not know,” her father said.

All the victims I interviewed said the rapes crossed their minds almost daily. In addition to confiding in friends, they have coped by falling back on faith. Helena, for example—though her clutched arms and pained swaying seemed to belie it—told me she’d found peace and insisted, “I have forgiven the men who raped me.”

She wasn’t alone. I heard the same thing from victims, parents, sisters, brothers. Some even said that if the convicted rapists would only admit their crimes—as they did initially—and ask penance from God, the colony would request that the judge dismiss their sentences.

I was perplexed. How could there be unanimous acceptance of such flagrant and premeditated crimes?

It wasn’t until I spoke with Minister Juan Fehr, dressed as all ministers in the community do, entirely in black with high black boots, that I understood. “God chooses His people with tests of fire,” he told me. “In order to go to heaven you must forgive those who have wronged you.” The minister said that he trusts that most of the victims came to forgiveness on their own. But if one woman didn’t want to forgive, he said, she would have been visited by Bishop Neurdorf, Manitoba’s highest authority, and “he would have simply explained to her that if she didn’t forgive, then God wouldn’t forgive her.”

One of the youngest victims to speak with prosecutors was as young as 11 during the time of the rapes. Most of the victims have had almost no psychological counseling, and according to experts, are probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

One of the youngest victims to speak with prosecutors was as young as 11 during the time of the rapes. Most of the victims have had almost no psychological counseling, and according to experts, are probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Manitoba’s leaders encourage residents to forgive incest, too. It’s a lesson that Agnes Klassen learned in a painful way. On a muggy Tuesday, the mother of two met me outside her two-room house off a highway in eastern Bolivia, approximately 40 miles from her former home in Manitoba Colony that she left in 2009. She wore her hair in a ponytail and was sweating in jeans and a T-shirt.

I wasn’t there to talk with her about the rapes, but once inside her house, the subject inevitably came up. “One morning I woke up with headaches and there was dirt in our bed,” she said, referring to when she lived in Manitoba, as if remembering an item she had left off a shopping list. She had never thought much about that morning since and wasn’t included in the lawsuit because she saw no reason to come forward after the perpetrators were nabbed.

Instead, I had come to talk to Agnes about other painful parts of her past—namely incest—the origins of which aren’t even clear. “They kind of mesh together,” she said of her earliest childhood memories, which include being fondled by several of her eight older brothers. “I don’t know when [the incest] started.”

One of 15 children, growing up in the Old Colony of Riva Palacios (her family moved to neighboring Manitoba Colony when she was eight), Agnes said the abuse would happen in the barn, in the fields, or in the siblings’ shared bedroom. She didn’t realize it was inappropriate behavior until the age of ten, when she was given a stern beating after her father found her brother fondling her. “My mother could never find the words to tell me that I was being wronged or that it was not my fault,” she recalled.

After that, the molestation continued but Agnes was too scared to go to anyone for help. When she was 13 and one of her brothers tried to rape her, Agnes warily notified her mom. She wasn’t beaten this time, and for a while her mom did her best to keep the two apart. But the brother eventually found her alone and raped her.

The sibling assaults became increasingly commonplace, but there was nowhere for Agnes to turn. Old Colonies have no police force. Ministers deal with wrongdoing directly but because youth are not technically members of the church until they are baptized (often in their early 20s), bad behavior is handled inside the home.

Seeking help outside the colony would have never entered Agnes’s mind: from her first day on earth, she, like all Old Colony children, was taught that the outside world holds evil. And even if someone managed to reach out, there is virtually no way for a child or woman to contact or communicate with the surrounding non–Low German world.

“I just learned to live with it,” Agnes said haltingly. She apologized for her stops and starts, for her tears. It was the first time she had ever fully told her story. She said the incest stopped when boys began courting Agnes, and she filed it away in her mind as a thing of the past.

But when she got married, moved into her own house in Manitoba, and gave birth to two daughters, family members began molesting her children during visits. “It was starting to happen to them, too,” she told me, her eyes following the movements of her two young platinum-blond girls darting past the windows as they played outside. One day, her eldest daughter, not yet four at the time, told Agnes that the girls’ grandpa had asked her to put her hands down his pants. Agnes said that her father never molested her or her sisters, but that he allegedly routinely abused his grandchildren until Agnes fled Manitoba with her daughters (and still allegedly abuses her nieces, who remain in the Colony). Another day, she caught her nephew fondling her youngest daughter. “It happens all the time,” she said. “It’s not just my family.”

Indeed, for a long time now there has been a muffled yet heated discussion in the international Mennonite community about whether Old Colonies have a rampant incest problem. Some defend the Old Colonists, insisting that sexual abuse happens everywhere and that its occurrence in places like Manitoba only proves that any society, no matter how upright, is susceptible to social ills.

But others, like Erna Friessen, a Canadian-Mennonite woman who introduced me to Agnes, insist, “The scope of sexual violence within Old Colonies is really huge.” Erna and her husband helped found Casa Mariposa(Butterfly House), a shelter for abused Old Colony women and girls. Located near the town of Pailon in the heart of Bolivian Old Colony territory, they have a continuous influx of Low German-speaking missionaries ready to help, but the number of women who have made it there are few. Aside from the challenges of making women aware of this space and convincing them that it’s in their best interest to seek help, Erna told me that “coming to Casa Mariposa often means leaving their families and the only world they’ve ever known.”

While Erna admits that exact figures are impossible to calculate due to the insular nature of these communities, she is adamant that rates of sexual abuse are higher in the Old Colonies than in the US, for example, where one in four women will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Erna’s whole life has been among these groups—she was born on a Mennonite Colony in Paraguay, raised in Canada, and has spent the past eight years in Bolivia. Of all the Old Colony women she has met over the years, she says, “more have been victims of abuse than not.” She considers the Colonies “a breeding ground for sexual abuse,” in part because most Old Colony women grow up believing they must accept it. “The first step is always to get them to recognize that they have been wronged. It happened to them, it happened to their mom and their grandmother, so they’ve always been told [to] just deal with it.”

Others who work on the issue of abuse in the Old Colonies are hesitant to pinpoint incidence rates, but say that the way abuse is experienced within an Old Colony makes it a more acute problem than in other places in the world. “These girls or women have no way out,” said Eve Isaak, a mental health clinician and addictions and bereavement counselor who caters to Old Colony Mennonite communities in Canada, US, Bolivia, and Mexico. “In any other society, by elementary school a child knows that if they are being abused they can, at least in theory, go to the police or a teacher or some other authority. But who can these girls go to?”

Though it wasn’t by design, Old Colony churches have become the de facto state. “Old Colonists’ migration can be understood not just as a movement away from society’s ills, but also toward countries that allow the Colonists to live as they choose,” said Helmut Isaak, Eve’s husband who is a pastor and Anabaptist history and theology professor at CEMTA, a seminary in Asuncion, Paraguay. He explains that before Old Colonists migrate to a new country, they send delegations to negotiate terms with the governments to allow them virtual autonomy, particularly in the area of religious law enforcement.

In fact, the serial rapes stand as one of the only times that a Bolivian Old Colony has sought outside intervention regarding an internal matter. Manitoba residents told me that they handed the gang over to the cops in 2009 because victims’ husbands and fathers were so enraged, it’s likely the accused would have been lynched. (One man who was believed to be involved and caught on a neighboring colony, was lynched and later died from his wounds.)

The Old Colony leaders I spoke with denied that their communities have an ongoing sexual abuse problem and insisted that incidents are dealt with internally when they arise. “[Incest] almost never happens here,” Minister Jacob Fehr told me one evening as we chatted on his porch at dusk. He said that in his 19 years as a minister, Manitoba had only one case of incestuous rape (father to daughter). Another minister denied that even this episode had happened.

“They forgive a ton of gross stuff that happens in families all the time,” said Abraham Peters, father of the youngest convicted rapist, Abraham Peters Dyck, who is currently in Palmasola Prison, just outside Santa Cruz. “Brothers with sisters, fathers with daughters.” He told me that he believes his son and the entire gang were framed to cover up widespread incest in Manitoba Colony. Abraham senior still lives in Manitoba; he considered leaving in the period immediately following his son’s arrest because of hostility from the rest of the community. But uprooting his family of 12 proved too difficult, so he stayed put and says that over the years and despite his perspective on his son’s incarceration, he has been accepted back into the fold of Colony life.

Agnes thinks the two crimes are flipsides of the same coin. “The rapes, the abuse, it’s all intertwined,” she said. “What made the rapes different is that they didn’t come from within the family and that’s why the Ministers took the actions they did.”

Of course, leaders do attempt to correct bad behavior. Take the case of Agnes’s father: at some point, his fondling of his granddaughters was called out by church leaders. As procedure dictates, he went before the ministers and bishop, who asked him to confess. He did, and was “excommunicated,” or temporarily expelled from the church for a week, after which he was offered a chance to return based on a promise that he would never do it again.

“Of course it continued after that,” Agnes said of her father. “He just learned to hide it better.” She told me she doesn’t have faith “in anyone who after one week says they have turned their life around,” before adding, “I have no faith in a system that permits that.”

Younger perpetrators have it even easier; according to Agnes, the brother who raped her admitted his sins when he was baptized and was immediately expunged in the eyes of God. He now lives in the neighboring Old Colony, Riva Palacios, with young daughters of his own.

Once an abuser has been excommunicated and readmitted, church leadership assumes the matter has been put to rest. If an abuser flagrantly continues his behavior and refuses to repent, he is once again excommunicated and this time permanently shunned. Leaders instruct the rest of the colony to isolate the family; the general store will refuse to sell to anyone in the household, kids will be banned from school. Eventually the family has no choice but to leave. This, of course, also means that the victims leave with their abusers.

Yet it wasn’t sexual abuse that finally prompted Agnes and her family to abandon Manitoba, which they did in 2009. Instead, her husband had bought a motorcycle, after which he was excommunicated and the family shunned. When the couple’s toddler drowned to death in a cow trough, the community leaders wouldn’t even let her husband attend his own son’s funeral. That’s when they left Manitoba for good. In the end, driving a motorcycle was apparently a larger affront to the Colony’s leadership than anything Agnes, her daughters, or the rest of the women in the community had suffered.

Keeping a colony like Manitoba together is getting harder and harder in modern times. Agnes and her family aren’t the only ones who’ve fled. In fact, the nearby city of Santa Cruz is populated by Mennonite families who have become fed up with the Old Colony way of life—and the situation may be reaching a crisis point.

Johan Weiber, leaning on his pickup truck, is the de facto leader of a dissident group of Mennonites in Manitoba.

Johan Weiber, leaning on his pickup truck, is the de facto leader of a dissident group of Mennonites in Manitoba.

“We no longer want to be a part of this,” a young father named Johan Weiber told me one day when I visited him at his home in Manitoba. Johan and his family were one of 13 others still living in the colony but who had officially left the Old Colony’s church. For months, they’d been saying they wanted to leave—they even owned vehicles—but Manitoba Colony leaders refused to compensate them for the land they wanted to abandon. Now, instead, they’d decided to build their own dissident church inside Manitoba.

“We are [leaving the Old Colony church and starting our own] because we have read the truth,” Johan said. By “truth,” he meant the Bible. “They tell us not to read the Bible because if we do, we realize things like, in no place does it say a women’s hair has to be braided like that,” he told me, leaning on his white pickup truck as his ponytailed daughter played in the yard.

Curious about the specifics of religious instruction at Manitoba, one Sunday I attended a service at one of the colony’s three nondescript brick churches. I soon realized that the solemn 90-minute ceremony is not a priority. Heads of households might go two or three times a month, but many go even less frequently.

For children, the core school curriculum is based on selected Bible readings, but aside from a silent 20-second prayer before and after meals, there is no specified time or requirement for prayer or Bible studies in the adult Old Colony world.

“Many [people have] lost their biblical literacy,” said Helmut Isaak, the Mennonite historian. He explained that over time, as Mennonites stopped having to constantly defend their faith against persecutors, other more practical concerns took precedent. “In order to survive, they needed to spend their time working.”

This has created a crucial power disparity: the small cadre of church leaders have became the sole interpreters of the Bible on Old Colonies, and because the Bible is seen as the law, leaders use this control over the scripture to instill order and obedience.

Ministers deny this charge: “We encourage all our members to know what is written in the holy book,” Minister Jacob Fehr told me one evening. But residents admit in quiet that Bible-study classes are discouraged and Bibles are written in High German, a language that most adults barely remember after their limited schooling, while Low German versions are sometimes banned. On some Old Colonies, members face excommunication for delving too deeply into the scripture.

This is why Johan Weiber was such a threatening presence—he terrified the leadership and community at large. He also reminded them of the troubled past of the Old Colonies. “This is exactly what happened in Mexico and that’s why we came [to Bolivia],” said Peter Knelsen, a 60-year-old Manitoba resident who arrived from Mexico as a teenager with his parents. It wasn’t just the Mexican government that was threatening Old Colonies with reform, but also an evangelical movement from within that sought to “change our way of life,” said Peter, who explained that in his colony in Mexico dissenters tried to build their own church, too.

For more than 40 years, Bolivian Old Colonists had escaped such an internal rift. But with Johan Weiber’s attempt to build his own church—he also wanted land in Manitoba on which to farm and build his own independent school—Peter and others spoke of an impending “apocalypse.” Tensions nearly exploded in June, after my visit, when Johan’s group actually broke ground on their church. Soon after construction commenced, over 100 Manitoba men descended on the site and took it apart, piece-by-piece. “I think it’s going to be really hard to maintain the colony intact,” Peter told me.

If this rift continues to widen and the crisis comes to a head, Manitobans already know what to do. Centuries ago, the original Mennonites in Europe, faced with persecution, had a choice: fight or flight. Given their vow of pacifism, they fled—and they have been doing so ever since.

Manitoba leaders say they hope it doesn’t come to that. In part, this is probably because Bolivia is one of the last countries left that will let them live on their own terms. So for now, Minister Jacob Fehr says he prays. “We just want [Weiber’s group] to leave the colony,” he said. “We just want to be left alone.”

Heinrich Knelsen Kalssen, one of the rapists, is led out of the courtroom by police in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Heinrich Knelsen Kalssen, one of the rapists, is led out of the courtroom by police in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

On my last day in Manitoba, I got a shock.

“You know that it’s still happening, right?” a woman said to me, as we drank ice water alongside her home. There were no men around. I hoped something was lost in translation, but my Low German translator assured me it wasn’t. “The rapes with the spray—they are still going on,” she said.

I peppered her with questions: Had it happened to her? Did she know who was doing it? Did everyone know it was going on?

No, she said, they hadn’t returned to her house, but to a cousin’s—recently. She said she had a good guess about who was doing it but wouldn’t give me any names. And she believed that, yes, most people in Manitoba Colony knew that the imprisonment of the original rapists hadn’t put an end to the serial crimes.

As if in a strange time warp, after dozens of interviews with people telling me everything was fine now, I didn’t know if this was gossip, rumor, lies, or—worse—the truth. I spent the rest of the day frantically trying to get confirmation. I revisited many families who I had previously interviewed, and the majority admitted, a bit sheepishly, that yes, they had heard the rumors and that, yes, they assumed they were probably true.

“It’s definitely not as frequent,” said one young man later that day whose wife had been raped during the first series of incidents before 2009. “[The rapists] are being much more careful than before, but it still goes on.” He told me he had his suspicions about the perpetrators’ identities as well, but didn’t want to give any more details.

On a subsequent reporting trip by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky, the photographer for this article, five people went on record—including three Manitobans as well as a local prosecutor and a journalist—and confirmed that they had heard the rapes are continuing.

Those I spoke with said they have no way to stop the alleged attacks. There is still no police force in the area, and there never will be any proactive element or investigatory force that can look into accusations of crimes. Anyone is free in the colonies to report somebody else to the Ministers, but crimes are addressed on the honor system: if a perpetrator is not ready to admit his sins, the question is whether the victim or accuser will be believed… and women in Manitoba already know how that goes.

The only defense, residents told me, is to install better locks or bars on the windows, or big steel doors like the one I slept behind each night during my trip. “We can’t put in streetlights or video cameras,” the husband of a victim of the rapes told me—two technologies not allowed. For it to stop, they believe they must, as before, catch someone in the act. “So we will just have to wait,” he said.

That last day, before leaving Manitoba, I returned to visit Sara, the woman who woke up with rope around her wrists nearly five years ago. She said she’d also heard the rumors of ongoing rapes, and breathed a heavy sigh. She and her family had moved to a new house after the gang of nine was captured in 2009. The old house held too many demon-filled memories. She said she felt badly if others were now living her past horrors, but she didn’t know what could be done. After all, her time on earth, like that of all her fellow Mennonites, was meant for suffering. Before I left, she offered what she considered words of solace: “Maybe this is God’s plan.”

Editor’s Note: Abuse and rape victims’ names have been changed at their request.

Fruit of Religion – The Spanish Inquisition

spanish inquisition“The Spanish Inquisition was a perverse attempt to save people’s souls by torturing their bodies. Since only Christians of pure faith could go to heaven, the Inquisitors reasoned, and all others would be sentenced to the eternal torments of hell, it made sense to temporarily torture people of impure faith until they accepted Jesus, and thereby save their souls from the never-ending tortures of the next world.

Contrary to a popular misconception, the Inquisition was not directed against Jews, but against all supposed heretics, particularly former Jews who had converted to Christianity. Since these Jews had generally converted under duress, either to save their lives or their livelihoods, the Church had good reason to mistrust their sincerity. Inquisition officials, aided by informers, continually and carefully scrutinized these new Christians. If any of their actions indicated that they might be secretly practicing Judaism–perhaps they were observed never to eat pork or cook on the Sabbath–these “new Christians” were summoned before the Inquisition. The Inquisitors, all of whom were priests, asked the accused if they were secret Jews. If they confessed immediately, and supplied the Inquisitors with names of other secret Jews, they got off lightly: a religious ceremony at which they made public confession, and suffered various humiliations. If they were convicted of being secret Jews and only then confessed, they were guaranteed a less painful execution: They were strangled before being burned at the stake.

Those people who refused to confess even after being convicted, or who were courageous enough to acknowledge that they were still Jews, were repeatedly tortured to force them to concede the truth of Christianity. During the centuries in which the Inquisition had power, thousands of secret Jews were put on the rack, had water forced down their throats after their noses were pinched shut, or subjected to other tortures. All these actions carried out by priests who claimed to be motivated only by love of the people they were torturing.

Those Jews whom the Inquisitors couldn’t win back to Christianity were burned at a public ceremony known as an auto-da-fe. . .” – – Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, pgs 194-195.

The fruit of some religions has always been forced conversion of others. The bigger the religion, the more secular power it has. The more secular power it can yield, the greater the atrocities it produces toward those that act or believe differently. Hatred between some religious sects is as strong today as it was centuries ago. The crimes against humanity have never disappeared because the hatred proliferates and spreads. Hatred toward those that espouse variant beliefs is taught at the youngest possible age in order for religion’s followers to grow to a place where they are willing to kill for their religious beliefs; or, die for them. Religious indoctrination has been at the root of millions of tortures and murders throughout history and, even today. Not only this, but religious indoctrination is also at the root of the suppression, control and abuse of women and children worldwide. Religion is responsible for centuries of teachings against women’s autonomy, authority and equality. As a result, women have become the most abused race of people in human history. For a brief list of the fruit of these atrocities, see my article: The FRUIT of Male Leadership – A Shocking Reality.

Is the picture becoming clear yet? After all the many articles on this blog that have exposed the truth of history, can one see the bigger picture? The corruption that hides under the righteous mantles of religions the world over have caused religious followers to be ready, at any time, to bear arms and attack those that disagree or believe differently. Bloodshed, war, torture, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse are the biggest fruits of religion. History shows that clearly. The articles on this blog show this clearly! Religion’s weapons are Bibles, religious doctrines and rules, labeling (of those who disagree), slander, public humiliation and shaming, shunning and, damnation in hell. It’s time to remove the power and control of religion and give it back to the only one that deserves it; one who is merciful, gentle, loving, kind, compassionate, long-suffering, all powerful — God. God loves those that religion hates!! Why can’t people understand that? He blesses the just and unjust because he loves mankind as a whole.  Men have taken too much upon themselves in the “name of God.”  The fruit of this religious take over by men, is heavy laden on the annals of world history. Let’s get men out of God’s shoes and put God back in them. Let’s undo the damage that has been done through corruption of the religious system. Women need to be given their equality, honor and dignity back. Those who believe differently need to be freed from antisemitism and hatred and turned over to God’s hand to do the work in their lives. Forcing religion is wrong; especially when it’s done in the “name of God.” God doesn’t need religion or men to force-feed people their corruptions, man-made doctrines and rules, or hatred toward others. God is bigger than that and more loving than that. He can do what man cannot do in the hearts and minds of his creation. Let’s get religion out of God’s way so HE can work in people’s hearts and lives; so HE can control the hearts of men and women; so HE can have the preeminence. . . instead of religion and its leaders. Religion’s fruit is abhorrent to God and, a crime upon humanity. Sure, religion looks good on the outside, but on the inside, it’s rotten to the core and has a lot of innocent blood on its hands.

What Kind of Faith in God Can One Have After an Abuse has Occurred?

christian_atheistOne of the most common characteristics I have seen amongst religious abuse victims is the shattering of their faith in the Living God. Many struggle with the reality that, at the time of their abuse, God did not help them and rescue them from it. Since God did not save them from the abuse, then surely there is no God!  Because of this, the common question is: “If God is real, then where was God when I was being abused?” Another common characteristic that I have not only experienced, but also see in others, is the fact that through the deception of religious dogmas and rules, one’s faith can also be shattered once one comes to the realization of the lies believed. Then, there is the reality that the abuse was perpetrated by those that the victims trusted and/or loved – their pastor, other church leaders and, even family members!  Following the abuse, is the secondary abuses where no one believes the victim and, those closest to the victim (family and friends) actually work to discredit their testimonies of abuse and shame and shun them!   As a result of these traumas, it is easier to choose not to believe in God for many of these victims.

Because this is an issue that many struggle with, I want to share an excerpt regarding the Holocaust, from Jewish Wisdom by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. If ever there was a race of people that rightly should NOT believe in God, it would be the Jewish people! How can a Holocaust survivor still maintain faith in a God that did not rescue them from the torture, nor save their family members from it?  After this excerpt, I will then draw a conclusion that I hope will help many with this issue.

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What Kind of Faith in God can Jews Have After the Holocaust?

Can one still speak to God after Auschwitz? Can one still, as an individual and as a people, enter at all into a dialogue relationship with Him? Dare we recommend to the survivors of Auschwitz, the Jobs of the gas chambers, “Call to Him, for He is kind, for His mercy endures forever?” — Martin Buber, “Dialogue Between Heaven and Earth,” in Will Herberg, ed., Four Existentialist Theologians, Page 203

We learned in the crisis that we were totally and nakedly alone, that we could expect neither support nor succor from God nor from our fellow creatures. Therefore, the world will forever remain a place of pain, suffering, alienation and ultimate defeat. — Richard Rubenstein, After Auschwitz, pages 128-129

A principle teaching of the Hebrew Bible is that God, Who created the world, intervenes in history. Thus, when Pharoah enslaved the ancient Hebrews, God acted to free them. (His intervention, however, came only after two centuries of slavery.)

God’s inaction during the Holocaust led Rubenstein to conclude in After Auschwitz, that, contrary to the Exodus story, there is no God Who acts in history. His work is among the bleakest and most disturbing Jewish books ever written. The alternate position (articulated by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, among others), that the Holocaust represented God’s inaction but rather his punishing of the Jewish people for their sins, was rejected by Rubenstein as repugnant: “If indeed such a God holds the destiny of mankind in His power, His resort to the death camps to bring about His ends is so obscene that I would rather spend my life in perpetual revolt than render Him even the slightest homage” (Power Struggle, page 11).

With the publication of After Auschwitz, Rubenstein became identified with the mid-1960’s “death of God” movement. But while the movement’s radical Protestant thinkers (e.g., Thomas Altizer, author of Radical Theology and the Death of God) saw God’s so called “death” as a fortunate event that would liberate human beings from God’s “heavy hand,” Rubenstein, who has a bleak estimation of human nature, found it cause for despair. Because the Holocaust has already happened once, he argued, similar acts of mass murder are more, not less, likely to recur, to Jews or to other people (see his The Cunning of History).

While empathizing with Rubenstein’s pain, two other Jewish thinkers, Eliezer Berkovits and Emil Fackenheim, view his conclusion that there is no God Who acts in history as representing an unintentional triumph for Hitler:

What, on account of the Jewish experience at Auschwitz, attempts to emerge as a Jewish version of a death-of-God theology has both an ironic and a tragic aspect. Its starting point is the problem of faith raised by the German barbarism of the Nazi era. In search of a solution to the problems, it arrives at a position from which one may not only not reject Nazism, but, indeed, find a “moral” validation for it as one of the man-created truths. [For if there is nothing higher in the universe than man, who is to judge which man-made truth is higher than another?] This is the bitterest irony. . . and presents us with one of the truly great triumphs of the Nazi position. It is of the very essence of [Rubenstein’s] proposition that there is no personal God who is concerned with justice, morality, or human suffering. . . — Eliezer Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust, page 72

There emerges what I will boldly term a 614th commandment: the authentic Jew of today is forbidden to hand Hitler yet another, posthumous victory. . .

We are, first, commanded to survive as Jews, lest the Jewish people perish.

We are commanded, second, to remember in our very guts and bones the martyrs of the Holocaust, lest their memory perish.

We are forbidden, thirdly, to deny or despair of God, however much we may have to contend with Him or with belief in Him, lest Judaism perish.

We are forbidden, finally, to despair of the world as the place which is to become the kingdom of God, lest we help make it a meaningless place in which God is dead or irrelevant and everything is permitted.

To abandon any of these imperatives, in response to Hitler’s victory at Auschwitz, would be to hand him yet other, posthumous victories. — Emil Facenheim, The Jewish Return into History, pages 22-24

. . . The most cogent, if coolly rational, critique of Fackenheim’s 614th commandment was delivered by the Orthodox Jewish philosopher Michael Wyschogrod:

Let us imagine that there arises a wicked tyrant who sets as his goal, for his own depraved and psychotic reasons, the extermination of all stamp collectors in the world. It is clear that it would be the duty of every decent person to do everything in his power to frustrate the scheme of that tyrant. Let us further imagine, however, that before the tyrant is made harmless, he succeeds, in fact, in murdering a large proportion of the world’s stamp collectors. Does it not follow [according to Fackenheim’s 614th commandment] that subsequent to the tyrant’s demise it becomes the duty of the remaining stamp collectors not to lose interest in their stamp collecting so as not to hand the tyrant a posthumous victory? . . . Would it be a posthumous victory for the tyrant were stamp collecting to disappear from the world as long as this disappearance is due, not to force, but to free choice? I cannot see why, if I am a secular, non-believing Jew, it is incumbent upon me to preserve Judaism because Hitler wished to destroy it. What was incumbent upon me was to destroy Hitler, but once this is accomplished, the free choice of every individual is restored and no further Hitler-derived burdens rest on the non-believing Jew. — Michael Wyschogrod, “Faith and the Holocaust,” a review of Emil Fackenheim’s God’s Presence in History, Judaism, Summer 1971 (20:3), pages 288-289

For Wyschogrod “the Holocaust was a totally destructive event which makes my remaining a Jew infinitely more difficult than it has ever been.” He can only marvel at Fackenheim’s attempt to deduce a commanding voice out of Auschwitz.

. . . Rabbi Irving Greenberg represents a position close to Berkovits and Fackenheim, but one that also acknowledges Rubenstein’s despair. According to Greenberg, the Holocaust has blurred the boundary lines between believers and nonbelievers, perhaps permanently:

After Auschwitz, faith means that there are times when faith is overcome. . . We now have to speak of “moment faiths” . . . interspersed with times when the flames and smoke of the burning children blot out faith, although it flickers again. . . The difference between the skeptic and the believer is frequency of faith, and not certitude of position. — Irving Greenberg, “Cloud of Smoke, Pillar of Fire: Judaism, Christianity and Modernity After the Holocaust,” page 27

— Excerpts from Jewish Wisdom by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, pages 311-315

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The Holocaust is one the most tragic events in human history. How could anyone condemn the survivors of this tragedy if they willingly chose to not believe in God? Wouldn’t they be justified in their positions that there “is no God?” Would a God that one believes to be full of Love, Mercy and Compassion punish further those that are broken and bruised that lose their faith as a result of abuses perpetrated by evil people? The answer: Of course not! So, does it matter to God if someone loses faith in Him? I believe it does matter, BUT, I also believe that He will “suffer it to be so” for the sake of the victim and hold the abusers accountable for the loss of faith when all is said and done.

Today, the reality of religious mutilation, torture, sexual exploitation of women and children, sexual mutilation and abuse, physical abuses and, all the horrors that take place against men, women and children that are hidden under the “mantle of religion” have led to countless numbers of people that have given up their faith in God. The number one question being the same as the Holocaust survivors: “Where was God when I was being raped, molested, tortured or abused?”

I have come to realize that there are two groups of religious abuse survivors.  There are those religious abuse survivors where, throughout there abusive experience, the closeness of God is imprinted on their hearts and minds. They can say with all sincerity that, “God was there with me and carried me through.”  I am in this category of believers. God was very near, although I believed he hated me and I could never be “good enough” to please Him (a mindset derived from the brainwashing). As I look back, I see his hand of protection and his hand of blessing in my life and, remember feeling “wrapped in his arms of love and care” even when I thought I could not go through another day. The memories of the sweet communion with God after extracting myself from the abusive cult and its brainwashing will forever be emblazoned in my heart and mind. Although I was deceived and acted in accordance with that deception, I WILLINGLY chose God. If I had not done so, then in my mind,  the Great Deceiver would have won the victory.  For if I give up my faith in God, I would be carrying out the will of the one who wishes for me to do so — Satan. Therefore, Satan wins.  Is maintaining my faith easy? No. It is difficult. Especially when I read the countless stories on my blog of abuses of women and children where the perpetrators of the abuses are still free and not behind bars; especially when I read the countless news stories of women and children abused and killed at the hands of Islamists the world over under the guise of “Honor Killing.”  This is where I reflect on Irving Greenburg’s quote mentioned above – “We now have to speak of “moment faiths” . . . interspersed with times when the flames and smoke of the burning children blot out faith, although it flickers again. . . The difference between the skeptic and the believer is frequency of faith, and not certitude of position.”  We will all experience lack of faith only to have it resurrect again.

Is my position regarding my faith, right? Yes.

The second group of abuse survivors are those that have turned away from not just religion, but God. God does not exist to them and is only a figment of the imagination.  There is so much evil in the world that takes place every day against men, women and children, that there is no way there is a God that is “Love” that could allow such tragedies. Since these tragedies take place and God does not stop them, then there must be no God. Many of these abuse survivors have found peace in removing God from their lives. In doing so, they have been able to answer the question, “Why did God allow this to happen to ME?” If there is no God, then what happened was the result of circumstance and evil people. This removing of the “why” eliminates the emotional and mental anxiety that the mere question poses in the mind of a victim. Truly, it can free them from the emotional trauma that this brings and, for many, give them the strength to move on with their lives.

Is this position regarding turning from the faith, right? Yes.

Now, let me say this from my own personal standpoint.  I am sure many will disagree with me on this, but please, allow me to have my opinion and let’s “agree to disagree” amicably.

Because I now know a God that is full of Mercy, Love and Compassion INSTEAD of a God that is vengeful, exacting, incites hatred toward those that believe differently, or will send people to hell if they don’t believe, I now understand “unconditional” love.  Unconditional love allows people to believe what they believe in order to cope with the trials and evils that will come their way. God will not judge them for their lack of faith. He will “suffer it to be so” in order for a victim to cope and move forward. If God is LOVE, then he will love regardless of belief or lack thereof.  Therefore, what right do believers and non-believers have to judge each other and condemn each other? They have no right to do so. God knows circumstances and motives. He knows the responsible party to every single abuse. He knows victim’s inner most thoughts and struggles. He’s seen every tear shed and, more than anything, desires to see victims of abuse and tradegy have their pain and heartache eased.  For those that lose faith and it eases their burden and gives them strength to carry on, “suffer it to be so.” For those that retain their faith and it eases their burden and gives them strength to carry on, “suffer it to be so.”

For me, my many years in an abusive religious cult and the struggles that I went through, have molded me into who I am today. The experiences have enabled me to be a help to those who feel alone in their pain and are emerging from abusive religious institutions.  Had the tragedies in my life not happened, I could not have written my books or be able to handle the many burdens of other survivors.  Truly, I would crumble under the weight of the emotional turmoil and, the question of “Why, God?”

If you do not believe in God, do not believe in God, still. If you believe in God, believe in God still. He KNOWS. HE UNDERSTANDS. He loves you UNCONDITIONALLY.  Let that sink in! NO CONDITIONS ARE NECESSARY!  Religion puts conditions on God’s love and acceptance; God does not. Religion tells us we will suffer eternal punishment for turning from God; God does not (read my book, Religion’s Cell on this subject.). Religion judges you for your sins; God does not! He SO loves us and desires for everyone to have peace and happiness.  It is time that we realize that whatever faith, or lack thereof, you have is OKAY. God is for peace and is compassionate toward broken and wounded people. Find that peace however you can so that traumas inflicted by evil people do not destroy you AND, give the abuser the victory or, Satan the victory in your life. When you find that peace, you win, you overcome and you can move forward. Peace allows you to find happiness and, to be able to love again. Sometimes, I believe that the biggest struggle in a survivor’s life is the struggle between believing in God and not believing in God. Until one makes the choice, one will not find peace. Because I know how great and compassionate MY God is, I say make the choice that allows you to move forward and gives you peace. In doing so, you are released from emotional turmoil and bondage to “theology” and freed to be who you are in the Lord (even though you may not realize this).  God understands. HE IS THAT BIG AND THAT AWESOME!

FREE Chapter from my Book, Religion’s Cell

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RELIGION’S CELL:

Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse

By Cynthia McClaskey

I am giving this free chapter of my book because I want everyone to see how man has corrupted “translation” to put women into a place of inferiority and blame.  Placing blame on women has been the number one reason for the inequality and abuses that women have suffered for centuries. Because of what happened in the Garden of Eden, Eve and subsequent generations of women have been “forced” into a “curse” that God never made regarding women; but MAN did.  Today, many women in other countries have no rights, no autonomy, no protection from abuses. These lies of the “religious system” need to be exposed so changes in law can be made to protect women from abuse. It is time for women to be given back what was taken from them — their honor, dignity and autonomy.

I want to make sure that everyone understands that these passages do not in any way promote male power and control over women. It is when they are taken out of context and twisted that they become the tool of an abusive spirit and lead to the abuses that are pervasive in today’s churches.  Many other verses have also been corrupted by men to suit their agendas of keeping women in manipulative roles.  This corruption of scripture is covered at length on my blog, as it pertains to women, through the many articles .  My goal here is to shed light on how women became the brunt of religious abuse and corruption and how they became “labeled” as inferior to men.  In order to be thorough in presenting the truths that are about to follow, it means going back to the beginning of creation and starting in the Garden of Eden.  This information will require a different mindset on the part of the reader.  My prayer is that those who embark on this chapter will do so with a mind that is void of all bias and prejudice.   As mentioned in Chapter One of my book, “perceptions” of “truth” can hinder a person from understanding the real truth.  One must be able to lay aside all religious views.  Religious views will usually stand in the way of the acceptance of the truth.  This unbiased approach to what you are about to read is an absolute necessity as we embark on the following subject and weigh out the evidence regarding this topic.

— Cynthia McClaskey

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Male and Female Created He Them

Genesis 1:26 – 28And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.   And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

 Genesis 5:2  – Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam, in the day when they were created.

When I first came across these passages, and the realization sank in for the first time that both Adam and Eve were called “Adam,” I was totally shocked.  As many times as I have read the book of Genesis, these passages never jumped out at me until about four years ago.  From these passages we see that God called both male and female “Adam.”  God said, “Let us make man [or “Adam”—same word] in our likeness. . . in the image of God made HE HIM, male and female made HE THEM.”  Notice that man is spoken of as both singular and plural.  Has anyone ever wondered why this is so?

To answer this question, it would be appropriate to refer back to history.   One cannot interpret scripture without researching the history behind it to find out culture, customs, laws and problems of the day that were being dealt with.   Historical research can usually bring to light obscure passages that many struggle with as to their interpretation and meaning.

As far back as the days of Jesus, there was a theory that had been held among the Jews regarding Adam.   These views that were held are recorded in the writings of Philo of Alexandria and tell us that the Jews believed that man was, in the beginning, both male and female in one person.  This belief was also found among other writings among other peoples.  The term for a person who is born both male and female is Hermaphrodite.  Webster defines Hermaphrodite as “the union of the two sexes in the same individual.”  According to The Evolution of Sex by Patrick Geddes and John Arthur Thomson, there are three stages of development of the reproductive organs of an individual:  1) Germiparity, 2) Hermaphroditism, 3) Differentiated Unisexuality.  In this book we are told, “One view of the matter is that hermaphroditism was the primitive state among multi-cellular animals” (Thomson, 1889, 1908 p. 84).  There are people today still born this way.  They are born with both female and male reproductive organs.  In such a case, the parents decide which sex they would like their child to be and an operation is done to make the transition to one particular sex.   This said, it was believed that after Eve was separated from Adam, human beings were born in pairs, male and female twins.  If this held true, then there would have been a male and female Cain, a male and female Abel, etc.  This would account for how Cain secured his wife.

If this belief or theory is true, then this would explain the Lord’s words in Matthew 19:4, where he speaks about the sanctity of marriage.  “Have ye not read, that He Who made [no “them” in the original] from the beginning made them male-female [no “and” in the original]” (Bushnell, 1923).  The rabbis of early history had always read this passage as male-female, not male and female!  One must realize too, that Jesus was speaking to men who were probably familiar with this theory.  Dr. Heeshon, in his book Talmudic Miscellany, says, “There is a notion among the rabbis that Adam was possessed originally of a bi-sexual organism, and this conclusion they draw from Genesis 1:27, where it is said, ‘God created man in His own image; male-female created He them’” (Heeshon, 1880). This view is not unreasonable, as we know that Hermaphrodites are still being born today.  Assuming this theory or early belief is true, let’s follow it through and see where it leads us.  Before we do that, let’s finish with Genesis 1:28, where God pronounces his blessings on Adam and Eve.  This verse literally translated would be as follows: “Be ye fruitful and multiply ye, and fill ye the earth, and subdue ye her; and have ye dominion” (Harper, 1886).  Notice that the plural is clearly expressed in each form.   When God said this to Adam and Eve, he was saying it to both the male and the female.  He shows us that we are to observe perfect equality of the sexes in obeying this command.

Keeping in mind that “Adam” is used to refer not only to Eve’s husband but to “mankind,” let’s follow through on the above theory mentioned. The following excerpt is from the book God’s Word to Women by Katharine C. Bushnell.  This excerpt goes to the end of this chapter.  I have entered it word for word as stated in her book due to the profound importance of the information that she shares with us regarding this theory we are discussing.  Here it is:

The second chapter (of Genesis) describes the elaboration of the first Adam into two sexes.  The second chapter nowhere uses the word “create” of Adam, but a totally different word — “formed.”  Please look up this same word, “formed,” in Isaiah 44:2, 24 and 49:5, and convince yourself that it is used there exclusively of all idea of creation.  Then turn to Isaiah 43:1,7; 45:18, and see how it is used of a process additional to creation.  This is what St. Paul refers to, where he says, “Adam was first formed then Eve,” – I Tim. 2:13.  He is speaking of development, not of original creation.  Adam and Eve (so far as their primal state is concerned) were created simultaneously; but Adam was “formed,” elaborated, first.

After Adam was created, Gen. 1:31 tells us, “God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”  Therefore Adam was very good; but this condition did not last.  2:18 tells us that presently God says: “It is not good that the man [or “Adam”], should be alone.”  The “very good” state of humanity becomes “not good.”  What had wrought signs of this change?  We are not told, but the following points should be weighed:  (1) Adam was offered “freely” the tree of life (2:16), but did not eat of it (3:22); (2) was made keeper, as well as dresser of the Garden, (2:15), but Satan later enters it.  (3) Had God simply meant by the words “not good” that one person alone was not a desirable thing, the Hebrew expression for “one alone” in Josh. 22:20, Isaiah. 51:2, etc., would seem more appropriate.  This expression means, “in-his-separation,” – and from whom was Adam “in separation” but from God?

Attention to some of these matters has been called by more than one theologian, only to be ignored by the generality of Bible expositors.  For instance, William Law, a learned theologian and one of the most accomplished writers of his day, declares: “Adam had lost much of his first perfection before his Eve was taken out of him; which was done to prevent worse effects of his fall, and to prepare a means of his recovery when his fall should become total, as it afterwards was, upon eating of the earthly tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ‘It is not good that man should be alone,’ saith the Scripture.  This shows that Adam had altered his first state, had brought some beginning of evil into it, and had made that not to be good, which God saw to be good, when He created him.”

The late Dr. Alexander Whyte, of Edinburgh, in his book Bible Characters, set forth some of the views of William Law, and also of an earlier writer, Jacob Behman, the great German philosopher (whose writings Wesley, in his days, required all his preachers to study), Whyte quotes Behman as teaching –

“There must have been something of the nature of a stumble, if not an actual fall, in Adam while yet alone in Eden. . .Eve was created [he should say, “elaborated”] to ‘help’ Adam to recover himself, and to establish himself in Paradise, and in the favor, fellowship and service of his Maker.”

As to Adam’s need, God said, “I will make a help meet for him.”  This word for “help” does not imply and inferior, but a superior help, in O.T. usage.  It occurs 21 times in the O.T.  here it is used twice of Eve.  In Isa. 30:5, Eze. 12:14 and Dan. 11:34 of human help; but in every other use made of the word it refers to Divine help, as, for instance, Psa. 121:2, “My help cometh from the Lord.”  Please notice, further, that the expression is not “helpmeet,” or helpmate, as is often quoted.  The word “meet” is a preposition, and Gesenius, the greatest authority as to the meaning of Hebrew words, defines this preposition as often implying, “As things which are before us, and in the sight of which we delight, are objects of our care and affections, hence Isa. 49:16, ‘Thy walls are before me,’ they have a place in my care and affections.”  With this preposition “before,” or “over against,” is coupled the adverb “as,” – the whole meaning “as before him.”

By the elaboration of Eve, and her separation from Adam, God intended the development of the social virtues, as an aid for Adam.  Again William Law says, “Could anything be more punctually [pointedly] related in Scriptures than the gradual fall of Adam?  Do you not see that he was first created with both natures [male and female] in him?  Is it not expressly told you, that Eve was not taken out of him, till such a time as it was not good for him to be as he then was?”

We do not know certainly how the decline in Adam began, but we should not overlook one fact:  The man (the woman side of humanity being as yet undeveloped), was placed in the garden “to dress and keep it” (2:15).  Two duties, not one, were laid upon Adam.  This second word is the same as used in 3:24, where the “Cherubim, and a flaming sword” are placed, “to keep the way of the tree of life.”  Lange’s Commentary says, “Adam must watch and protect it [the Garden].  This is, in fact, a very significant addition, and seems to give a strong indication of danger as threatening man and Paradise from the side of an already existing power of evil.”

That “power of evil” manifests itself a little later in the form of Satan.  Did not Adam let him enter the garden?  Verse 17 goes on to warn Adam as regards “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and it seems legitimate to infer that he was not only to refrain from eating of this tree, but also to protect this tree from being tampered with by others, as it was, later, when Satan induced Eve to partake of it, and then the youthful Eve gave of the fruit of it to Adam, who ate also.

Overlooking some interesting points for the present, we pass on to Gen. 2:21.  The last clause of this verse is literally translated by Dr. Harper, in his Method and Manual, as follows: “He took one from his sides, and closed the flesh instead of it,” and the learned author of Genesis in Ellicott’s Commentaries, Canon Payne-Smith, speaks of the woman as coming from the flank of man, “so curiously from ancient times rendered ‘rib.’”

On the same point, Archdeacon Wilberforce has written interestingly to the following effect: “I do not profess to manipulate the Hebrew a single step in advance of the possibilities of any student who may possess the Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance, [the same can be said of Young Analytical Concordance], but the ‘rib’ seems to be a mistranslation.  The Hebrew word translated ‘rib’ in both the Authorised and Revised versions, occurs forty-two times in the O.T., and in this instance alone it is translated ‘rib.’  In the majority of cases it is translated ‘side’ or ‘sides,’ in other places ‘corners’ or ‘chambers,’ but never ‘rib’ or ‘ribs,’ except in these two verses describing the separation of Eve from Adam.  In the Septuagint version, which was the Scripture quoted by our Lord, the word is pleura, which in Homer, Hesiod and Herodotus is used for ‘side,’ not ‘rib,’ and in the Greek of the N.T. is invariably translated ‘side.’  There is a word in the O.T. the true translation of which is ‘rib’ and nothing else, and it occurs in Dan. 7:5, but this is a totally different word from the word translated ‘rib’ in the passage before us.”  We could have said all this, in fewer words, not quoting Wilberforce, and others, but then, we might have been accused of straining a point, because of sex bias.  Had God taken only a rib from Adam, the latter would not have exclaimed, “she is flesh of my flesh,” but merely, “she is bone of my bone.”  Let us never forget, when we hear a rationalist ridiculing the “rib” story of “creation,” that he is not in reality ridiculing the Bible, though he may think he is.  He is holding up to contempt a stupid mistranslation.

The separation of Eve from Adam was, then, an exceptional instance within the human race of what is well known to take place in lower orders of life.  Professor Agassiz, the naturalist, in describing gemmiparous or fissiparous reproduction, says: “A cleft or fission, at some part of the body, takes place, very slight at first, but constantly increasing in depth, so as to become a deep furrow . . . At the same time the contained organs are divided and become double, and thus two individuals are formed of one, so similar to each other that it is impossible to say which is the parent and which is the offspring.”  Each human body retains still abundant traces of a dual nature, in almost every organ and part.

The Bible is not a treatise on science, but wherever rightly translated it is found not to contradict science.  Nothing could be more unscientific than the representation that Eve was made from a single bone taken from Adam’s body.  We have already commented on the possible original bi-sexual nature of the human being — the androgynous, or hermaphrodite state, which persists, imperfectly, to the present time within the human family.

The idea that Eve was made out of one of Adam’s ribs has its origin in rabbinical lore.  One story says that “Eve was made out of a tail which originally belonged to Adam.”  Rav, the great head of the Babylonian rabbinical school, declared, “Eve was formed out of a second face, which originally belonged to Adam,” and another rabbi declares, “Instead of a rib taken from Adam, a slave was given to him to wait upon him.”  But Rabbi Joshua, in his commentary, has given the fable which has most pleased Christian commentators on the Bible.  It is quite general for them to quote it in part, or give some of its many variations.

Rabbi Joshua says: “God deliberated from what member he would create woman, and He reasoned with Himself thus: I must not create her from Adam’s head, for she would be a proud person, and hold her head high.  If I create her from the eye, then she will wish to pry into all things; if from the ear, she will wish to hear all things; if from the mouth, she will talk much; if from the heart, she will envy people; if from the hand, she will desire to take all things; if from the feet, she will be a gadabout.  Therefore I will create her from the member which is hid, that is, the rib, which is not even seen when man is naked.”  And this is the inane fable which lies at the basis of the idea that Eve must have been made out of Adam’s rib, whereas the Bible says God took one of Adam’s sides (or one part of Adam’s being), out of which, He “builded” her.

(Bushnell, 1923 pp. 16-17)

With this theory in mind, let’s enter into the next chapter and talk more about Genesis and God’s Law of Marriage that He instituted and, how this law was supposed to work. . . .  (For more, please see my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Leads to Bondage and Abuse.)

Two Corruptions with Huge Consequences

corruption2The people, according to the example of the apostles, were chief in authority, (a regulation necessary at that time,) and had the power of electing their own rulers, and of rejecting any laws [or rules] proposed by them; they could also excommunicate or restore unworthy members. These privileges they had obtained in consequence of their general and public oblations.

A perfect equality [this includes an equality between male and female] and harmony reigned among the members of the church, as appears by their feasts of chanty, and by their mutual salutations of ” Brethren,” and ” Sisters.”

. . . All other churches chose their deacons in the same way ; and some chose also deaconesses, from among their devout widows and matrons.

— Mosheims Ecclesiastical History, 1822

The many articles on this blog continually point to the corruptions that have taken place in the church and in translation, that were done purposely by men of old to subjugate and control women. These changes went against scripture and were not the teachings or examples of God or his Christ, but man. Because the “fruit” of these corruptions and changes has been . . .

  • The sexual exploitation of women
  • The abuse of women – physical abuse, rape and incest
  • Subjugating women to men
  • Inequality of the sexes
  • Servitude of women to men
  • Emotional and spiritual abuse
  • Removal from authoritative positions in the world and in religion
  • Lack of protections from these abuses through civil laws

It is imperative that these corruptions be revealed for the sake of those women still suffering the bondage that these changes have brought into the world.  My books focus narrowly on several of the biggest lies ever propagated by men in order to control not only women, but the masses through fear. This blog focuses narrowly on even more corruptions not mentioned in my books.

Church history and the earliest manuscripts do not support many of the doctrines taught today in churches and religions across the globe; especially, regarding WOMEN. Therefore, these corruptions must be made known for the sake of equality, honor and dignity of women AND, to show the depravity, the pride, the arrogance and control-mongering to which men have resorted to gain sexual dominance.

Women had equality in the early church. They were leaders, deaconesses, had churches in their homes, and were apostles.

The members of the “assembly” of believers were in total control over every matter within their “assemblies.”

Corruption:  Women were removed from leadership positions in the church and relegated to servitude. As a result, they were denied autonomy, honor and dignity in religion and the world.

Corruption: There is one “man” as head of each assembly that has unquestionable authority in the lives of the believers and dictates “God’s” will in their lives [usurping the Holy Spirit’s position]. As a result, the masses blindly follow these “men of God” willingly doing what they are told to do….even to the point of murder and violence against those who disagree or believe differently.

The state of the church today is far from holy, pure and undefiled. The atrocities and abuses that lurk under the mantle, especially toward women and children, are criminal. These abuses thrive because of corruptions like these two that I mention and, the many others mentioned on this blog. It’s time to bring the corruptions out and set the truth before us; purging the filth that has permeated the church of God.

Another Twist of Scripture to Subjugate Women to Abusive Husbands

michalThroughout the twenty years I was in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult, this next topic was one that I heard often in the preaching. Without fail, the theme of the message was that Michal was barren “as a punishment” from God for her words with David. The underlying message that was given was this:  If a wife disagrees with her husband, she will be punished by God.  This instills “fear” and causes emotional trauma to the woman because what she has to say becomes unimportant. It tells the woman that she has no say so in the way her spouse treats her. If he desires to be mean, hateful, and abusive, that she must endure it or God will punish her too.  Her desires and wants have no value in the marriage relationship and are of no VALUE WITH GOD.  This twisting of scripture places the man in a position of control and abuse that God never intended. Let’s look at this passage and hear from an expert whom I hold in much higher regard than the unlearned and secularly uneducated men that hold positions of leadership in most I.F.B. churches, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. According to Telushkin, it makes no sense to believe that God is punishing Michal for her words. Here is a paraphrase of what Telushkin talks about in his book, Biblical Literacy and then I will expound further on this subject.

“David whirled with all his might before the Lord” (II Sam. 6:14). The text tells us that Michal looks out a window and sees David dancing in the streets and despises him for it. Afterwards, when David returns, there is an exchange between Michal and David. Michal meets him after his return with anger and scorn saying, “Didn’t the king of Israel do himself honor today–exposing himself today in the sight of slavegirls . . . as on of the riffraff might expose himself?”

David responds to this verbal slap with an arrow to the heart of Michal: “It was before the Lord who chose me instead of your father and all his family, and appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel [that I danced]” (II Sam. 6:21). The chapter concludes with the verse “So to her dying day, Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children.”

Most Bible commentators generally sympathize with David; many explain Michal’s barrenness as God’s punishment for her angry words to David. But in truth, if Michal’s words were tactless, her husband’s were cruel. There is no reason to assume that God chose to punish Michal. More likely, after this brutal exchange the two never again were intimate.

— Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Biblical Literacy

One wonders, when Michal went to sleep every night in the palace, was she thinking of David or Palti, the only man who ever loved her and that she had five children with. 2 Sam 21:8,9 – “But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, . . . And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.”

No one stops to consider that Michal had been married for quite awhile before David took her from her husband! What kind of emotional attachment would she have to David by being FORCED to leave her husband and children!! The emotional TRAUMA alone is enough to chill one’s bones.  God is NOT going to punish further someone that is already suffering and is broken. If you think differently, then you do not serve the LIVING GOD that is full of compassion and mercy and love.  Michal was a broken women who was torn from her family by a King who showed no mercy,  compassion, love or care for Michal.  He did not love her. She was a tool used to keep Saul’s followers, and his enemies, at bay.  Michal, more than likely, was never intimate with David, because she KNEW he did not love her and did not care about her or her five children that she was taken from. David destroyed her marriage and family for his own SELFISH reasons.

David was human. He committed murder. He made some bad decisions. This was just one more to add to his list. BUT, to use this example in scripture to tell women that if they do not let an abusive husband have is way, that God will punish them is preposterous! More than likely, Michal did not have children WITH DAVID because she didn’t love him or want any children with him because of his cruelty toward her. And David. . . well, he didn’t FORCE himself upon her! That alone should make men realize that they DO NOT have a RIGHT to force themselves on their spouses and God does not expect women to submit to abuse.