Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When in doubt, protect the children...

Because of the religious system that I was brought up in, I was taught not to question anything from “authority”, unless of course that authority was not a part of my beliefs.  I was not to question the elders of the congregation, those who answered to the elders, the bible, God or anything that could lead to thinking on my own. We were supposed to just trust the directions that were given to us concerning our lives without a second thought.

The problem that I often encountered back then, was that I had so many questions and no one to ask. I lived in a constant state of perplexity about my life. What’s worse, if something inappropriate happened to me by way of an adult in this setting, I never told. I especially did not tell on anyone who had the authority to spiritually punish me. It was something you just didn’t do. There were too many systems put in place to protect the men in position around me which were a part of this religion. I saw speaking up as a lose-lose situation. So consequently, I heard and experienced some pretty creepy things within the confines of this religious cult as a child. It would be years later as an adult, while living many miles away, that I would begin to talk this out as a means of healing.

I found out that I was not alone and that there were other young girls and boys who had been affected by this closed community who policed their own behaviors. I also found out that some cases were so extreme, that the perpetrators were “set aside” to be dealt with in a disciplinary fashion by the heads of the congregation.  Sadly, the authorities were never summoned. Of course the victims of molestation and inappropriate behavior with a child were rarely ever cared for.  Not to mention the embarrassing labels that got attached to the innocent. The whole set up was a nightmare for anyone who needed an advocate.

There are many factors that have occurred in my life over time that have led me to choose a life outside of organized religion and I would dare say that spiritual abuse ranks number 1 on my list of reasons to stay clear of self-governed groups. Spiritual abuse is inevitable when the only authority that you are to adhere to is the one that also runs the congregation and the one to whom everyone answers. Many, without realizing it, have put the welfare and safety of themselves and their entire family in the hands of those who cannot even control their own actions, let alone keep you safe from “evil”.

Once we become ingrained in the thinking that someone else can hear from God better than we can for ourselves and that we are protected solely under a spiritual covering i.e. man, a feeling of helplessness and deep submission to ‘the powers that be’ set in.

One of the saddest things about my experience in this cult as a child was that my own father would have protected me and raised holy hell if I would have told him anything inappropriate that was happening to me. He was not a part of this robotic mindless belief system, so he was not held captive to their lies but he was helpless to take care of me in a way that would have served as my own personal protection, because I was too afraid to tell him what was happening. I was afraid of being blamed or called a liar and then punished and shunned for speaking out.

I know my father would have gone through great lengths to protect me because he proved it to me when I was in a similar situation with an authority figure outside of my religion. He went through hell and high water to seek justice for me through the court system but to no avail. It was a time when children weren’t so easily believed when it came to molestation. But my dad still acted as my defender and that made me feel safe and protected even though I was deeply scarred.

As confusing as it sounds, I differentiated the perpetrators because of who they were in my life although their behaviors were the same.

The difference (in my mind) was that one was a part of my “congregation” and the other was not. There was asylum for the “religious figure” but not for the outsider. Weird isn’t it, that a child would protect the reputation of a sleazy pervert no matter who he was.  This is what brainwashing and fear does to a child. It causes them to split right and wrong in half and protect someone who wears a spiritual title even when his/her actions are harmful. This is more common then we care to imagine.
Recently, there has been a lot of pathetic rhetoric on social media protecting a man who is a religious figure in his community. He is part of a family which has its own reality show. However, it has been discovered that this man violated little girls when he was a teenager. Part of me doubts that this behavior has ever really stopped but has simply transferred victims over time. Yes, that’s pure speculation but highly likely. His advocates want to dole out ‘God’s grace and forgiveness’ and ‘judge not’, applying verse to a situation that cannot be gracefully flowered over with scripture. Tragic.

What I know about the cult mindset is that it doesn’t think well for itself. The cult mindset has to be told what to believe and how to believe it repeatedly, until it automatically reacts and responds to life like everyone else within its teaching. It is one of the most dangerous ways to live and one that is most accepted within some sects of Christianity. There are those who worship their pastors, elders, deacons, presidents of their denomination, priest, prophets, evangelists, ministers of music and anyone else that has been placed before them and deemed ‘highly favored and anointed by God’. In some cases, these men and women have been given total authority to run rough shot over the lives of all those that submit “under” them, without so much as a simple question why.

When this occurs, children who have the misfortune of being raised in these environments become neglected and mistreated. They can be overworked “for the sake of the church” and under supervised because of busy parents trying to please the powers that be. These children are being told that to look good is better than to feel good and pretending and smiling will keep the family a float and in good standing with the church community. In short, children’s lives are being ruined out of ignorance and blind devotion to man, which leaves the door wide open for rage, addiction and even suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives.

I know this all too well, particularly the rage and suicidal thoughts that followed years after escaping that cult.  (Okay, I was kicked out but thank you just the same.) This was my chance to finally encounter Christ on my own, which was a life changing moment for me. Insert gratitude and relief here.

The sad truth is that Christians are losing the respect of the world in record levels and no, it’s not because of persecution. It’s because a large segment of the population cannot see what everyone else on the outside sees about them. It’s because some forget that they live in glass houses and yet decide to throw stones anyway. It’s because some have mindlessly given themselves to man and not to Christ. It’s because some sacrifice their family’s well-being in exchange for title and position.
Here’s a statement that’s bound to increase my popularity… I believe that many Christians are ruining Christianity and tainting the reputation of Christ Our Redeemer, by being ignorant of their own lives and protecting wrong doing within the four walls of the church. This is sad, but it doesn’t have to be.

What has helped me to continually strive to maintain balance and understanding between the difference of God given authority and self-appointed authority over the years, is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Without truth and knowing, without God’s divine guidance, we follow the masses. However, when we pull away from the many voices that surround us, to tune in to the only voice that truly matters, God speaks to us individually in His own way concerning our lives.  When we make this our lifestyle, we stop depending on man to be our spiritual leaders in every aspect of our lives. We are then more prone to pray for one another because we recognize that ALL sin and fall short of the grace of God on a daily basis. Not just the peons.

It removes the hierarchy mindset from church and makes for a more ‘eye to eye’ relationship with one another. It also keeps anyone from being above the law because we do not perceive anyone as being perfect.

If you subscribe to a traditional church setting, then there will always be those who are put into position to carry out the various tasks of the ministry. These people will have titles. The important thing to remember is that these titles should not compete with God’s place in your life. You can respect the title and position and still maintain your own constant communication with God, allowing Him to be the highest authority in your life. This is sure protection from spiritual abuse and blind following.

To reiterate; Cults consist of people who answer to human ‘spiritual’ authority over God’s authority, as if the leader is God himself. The act of acquiescing to a man or woman because of his congregational status as if they are God is extremely dangerous and compromises our lives greatly.

When we can clearly see the difference between man and God, we do not excuse abuse of any kind simply because it occurs within the confines of religion. We do not hide illegal activity and sweep it under the rug. We openly acknowledge such things and allow justice to be served on behalf of all those involved. We care for the victims. We protect our children. That’s what Jesus would do…

To speak specifically to this current news story about the man I mentioned previously who has confessed that he is guilty of being a molester: There are so many great causes to stand up for that scripture is against; racism, sexism, abuse, violence, poverty, exclusion etc…  So why in the world would anyone want to waste their God-given time by blindly supporting criminal behavior within the church and risk the reputation of the gospel?  This is not sound thinking… it’s an example of following without thinking.

The Emperor with no clothes is not the brother who is suffering exposure so that God can be shown as a just and forgiving God that covers over his bare body. He is simply just another naked man in denial…

*I feel compelled to acknowledge that I am in no way suggesting that Christianity as a whole is a cult. I am suggesting that cult behavior can come from any religious group that worships man (his opinions, judgments and actions) over God. This behavior can manifested even with those who call themselves Christians.


  1. Bonita your gift of writing Is Holy Spirit inspired. So well written. You represent a heart of love and compassion...a heart to see others free in Christ! When it is all said and done only Christ has our answer? I love you my sister! I could say so much, but you said a mouthful.

    1. Thank you Darlene. Thank you for reading my blog and encouraging me so much on this journey of truth. Feel free to share it as a means of comfort to others.