Story of Recovery: April G.

For 19 years I was a member of what I would consider an abusive religious group.

I joined the group not long after graduating college & moving to a large city. I was vulnerable in many ways. I saw the world around me as often times not making sense. I was disillusioned with the faith of my family. I met a person in college who gave me audio tapes from a "tape ministry" of an independent baptist preacher (though he has been known to say he's non-denominational, you know, denominations are not "biblical", but they call themselves "baptistic" yeah...whatever...rolleyes...)

Anyhow, It was very hard preaching. When I say that, I mean...lots of yelling. In a way it was confrontational & evoked lots of emotions in me. It certainly got my attention. I never heard that type of preaching being raised a Catholic. Over time, to my detriment, I was sucked into the group.

The leader's interpretations of the bible became the standard of truth, it seemed.
There were no real checks & balances for the leader.

God help the person who would dare to question the pastor.
You had absolutely no outside recourse. Once you seriously questioned or doubted the pastor's pronouncements or doctrinal stance, you could expect to be sermon fodder & blasted from the pulpit. You might even get a letter of rebuke, informing you that your doubts (questions) were of the ?devil?. That in itself is traumatic, after all, when your pastor is telling you that you are tantamount to being influenced by devils, it is very unsettling to a person's psyche.
This was justified that it was the "loving" thing to do.
It was taught that the flock has ?desperately wicked? hearts like the old testament says, & it was taught we couldn't trust our feelings because of this.
And nobody leaves that group on good terms. When we left, we were told to ?watch out for God?s fiery indignation to devour the adversary??..evidently WE became God?s enemy for leaving that abusive group.? We were called ?murmurers & complainers??we were called ?fools??we were told ?those having their hands to the plow & looking back are NOT WORTHY of the kingdom". It was implied that if we were to leave god's "true church" that He might just be so pissed at us that He would kill us.
Fear was & probably still is, a primary motivator in that group.
We were church disciplined, excommunicated, shunned & slandered.

Putting it mildly, it was really painful.

If the leader screams it from the pulpit, it must be true, right??
They all seem to believe, without thinking, without questioning.
Because I was totally a ?true believer? & believed that the leader was truly the ?man of God? & preached the truth, it was devastating for me to come to terms w/ this was NOT right & NOT good.

It seemed to me that the group was not about God or love?it seemed to be more about ?we are doing religion better than anyone else!?
"This church!!" "This church!!"

In the group we escaped from, the pastor is considered the ?man of God? & who would want to displease the ?man of God??
So, you capitulate & you try to believe what you are told to believe, & do what you are told to do. I began to see a pattern of guilting folks, breaking them down & pressuring for conformity.

It took years, but over time, I could no longer continue to squelch my doubts.
Yearning for the freedom to live MY life, this life God gave to ME?NOT to my xpastor, for me. It was as if the pastor & church became the mediator between God & man.
There was so much I no longer agreed with. I could not in good conscience continue to stay.

Just my opinion. SO thankful to have escaped !
I?m sorry this is long?.believe me, I've only touched the iceberg.

My journey to FREEDOM began with the courage to ask the very difficult questions.
When I began to think of the verse about how the truth will set you free, I wondered, why did I feel oppressed & imprisoned if this "truth" is supposed to set me free?
I had to hope that God would understand my doubts & questions.
I think He does understand.
The "simple believe every word", right, so God wouldn't be mad at me for questioning the "doctrine" or pastor's interpretation of the bible?
I have hope that God is not insulted when we seriously question.
I believe God knows who He is & that his ego is not so fragile as to go ballistic if someone questions.

I have often asked myself...why is there so much animosity & out & out hatred between some denominations? (btw, that's a rhetorical question because I certainly don't want to argue "theology" with anymore ;) Been there, done that, no thanks
For example, when Independent Baptists scream that the Catholics will burn in hell, or are "deceived" or they are "mystery babylon mother of harlots & abominations" from the book of revelation...
I have to wonder what motivates those hurtful & condemning words!?
Is this religion thing all just a grab for power?

The group I escaped from believes that, their group is doing religion by the bible, better, than any other group. They believe they are the "true church".
Think the K-L Ration song "My Dog's better than your dog!" tune:

My church is better than your church....
my church is better than yours....
my church is better 'cause we...(insert denominational or non-denominational distinction)
my church is better than yours!!
(repeat as necessary to keep the flock in lock step)

Why all the factions & divisions within "Christendom" itself?
I think it's obvious.
These various sects all have "their" take, or interpretations on what the bible teaches.
If the bible was so clear, why so many denominations & sects arguing with one another over jots & tittles?

Doesn't the bible say "God is not the author of confusion?"

I've said enough for now. I hope this website becomes a respite for those who have exited abusive groups.

Surprisingly, I do believe in God....but religion, that's a whole different thing.

As Blaise Pascal has been quoted to say,
"men never do evil so completely & cheerfully as when they do it with religious conviction"