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Saturday, 13 March 2010

My Story
















know but told them that I was contacting the spirit world". 

Well!...
Shock, horror! I was told that it was very dangerous and that I was really










"Other people were dangerous influences" (If the world hates you,
know that it has hated me before it hated you:
John 15;18)
"Satan was working on me... I had to get right with God"?
"Time was running out".. The Lord could come back at any time
and I was not ready"! (Therefore you also must be ready, for
the son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect:
Matt 24;44).

Now I had to think every moment of the day...Think... Think... Think... and Think again! The "FEAR, NIGHT SWEATS, STRESS AND ANXIETY... were too much
to bare! I wanted God to
"Save me", I needed God to "Save me".
I tried and tried and tried. I told God I would give up my old life
for him... I would love him more than my family.. I would stop
sinning (if I could)! I prayed every moment of the day...
until I could pray no more. Tired and exhausted and terrified...
I would eventually fall asleep, not knowing if I would wake up
again? This went on for the next 25 years.. I can barely believe
it myself! I don't know how I got through life... but I do really...
FEAR!

Just before that time I had just started to sleep with my then
boyfriend! He was the first man I'd slept with... So then I
thought now I would have to marry him because I couldn't
have any other sexual relations with any other man... in God's
eyes that would be adultery... (Don't get me wrong, I did love
my then boyfriend, who later became my husband) but I
thought I had no other option. We stayed married for 20 years
and in 1998 separated. I was told if I got
"Saved" I'd then
be a "Christian". Also if my husband rejected the gospel, then
I would have to consider leaving him because:-
"Christian vs Non Christian" marriage's won't work! Eh! So I thought 'no matter what I had to stay with him and/or never
be with another man again! Now at that time I wasn't thinking
anything of the kind anyway, but it left me no choice!


No matter how hard I tried, I could never "Feel Saved", I was told to
"stop trying and just do it", I "would know when I was saved"
because God gives 'assurance of salvation'. (He has put his seal
upon us and given us his spirit in our hearts as a Guarantee:

Corinth 1:22). I never knew... I never felt saved! And also If I didn't
get "Saved Right Now" God might give up on me and leave me to my
worldly sins! And harden my heart to the Gospel!..
(This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me,
in vain do they worship me:
Mark 7;6). What! Eh! Help!...
Now I was in deep trouble... I had no way out... but to be "Saved"!
(He who believes and is baptized will be saved, he who does not believe
will be condemned:
Mark 16;16. I thought! I was, thinking, doing, being,
what God asked!
But still never felt "Saved".
(Why do you call me 'lord, lord' and do not do what I tell you?:
Luke 6;46).

This might give you an idea of what were the beginnings and continued
fears about my life. Through all this I managed to raise a family
(I think that is what kept me sane or at least functional)!
It was hard tho' because I had to inflict my views on my children but
not wishing to terrify them the way I had been, but could not lie to them
about the facts... It was very hard... I was also made to feel accountable
for my family and friends in telling them about the
"truth",
(Even tho' I was not a "Christian" (saved) myself, I still had to preach).
They, (my family and friends) were not interested! Which made me feel
scared for them and Isolated. I had friends but could not really share my
biggest fears with them, because they didn't understand. My friends were/are
lovely people, who are kind, caring, good people. "Just not Christian"...
Everything outside 'their' Born Again
Beliefs...
"Was not of God or was evil"...
Even the church going people that I knew very well! (Beware of false
prophets:
Matt 7;15), (Many will come in my name saying -
"I am he and they will lead many astray":Mark 13;6).


When my dad died in 1990, they told me he would be in hell because he was not a Christian...
I did keep busy in my life, by getting involved with community projects.
Even though in my mind I could think of nothing else but being saved.
So in a way it was a slight distraction for me especially to the people
outside my world, because that's how it felt. (Like I was on another planet).
Hardly anyone I knew was in the same position as me.
So I felt very isolated.
It was a good cover up and got me through life in general,
But there would always be...
'Every day and every night' the fear chipping
away at me inside. ("You are not saved". "You are going to hell").
How could I share my thoughts with my friends and family of my true fears!
They would think I was mad!
When I did talk about it or try to convert other people.
I would only get myself into a worse state of fear because I was
reiterating what I needed myself. I would start to tremble...
Genuinely shake with fear.
I did have good times when I would laugh and have fun and
I enjoyed raising my children.
But guaranteed,
I was never free from my thoughts of...
"Hell and Damnation".
A bit like "Ground-hog Day" for 25 years.


Meanwhile as I tried to cope with everyday things e.g. Family, work,
my failing marriage, my health. I started to lose weight and went
down to 7 stone (98lb's). Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep couldn't function
anymore. Lost interest in everything. My mind had been racing for years
and suddenly
'stopped'!


Life took it's toll on me and 25 years later, I ended up separated
from my Husband and in 1998 ended up in a psychiatric
unit with depression for 2 months of my life. That's when I
started to
"Question God"! Which terrified me, because
("Who are we to Question God")?
I felt suicidal, felt trapped,
because if I died... I would go to...
"The Deepest Part of Hell"
Because I knew enough to be
"saved" and rejected it.
It felt like Hell that I was living...
There was no-way out... I was trapped! I had a breakdown!


And I still wasn't saved yet,

I was a wreck!





"Leaving The Fold"
by Marlene Winell.
(Highly Recommended)


"The Book Your Church Doesn't
Want You To Read"

by T C Leedom
Quote from "The Book"Interesting!

"Everyday Enlightenment"by Dan Millman
Well worth a read!



We are good people, who care!..
And that's all that matter's.


Here are a few of quotes that I try to keep reminding myself of:- (Just helps a little)

Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest” Emile Zola.
Atheism Is A Non-Prophet Organization.
Don't Believe Everything You're Told.
Guilt, Fear, Mass Insanity... 3 Cheers For Christianity...
Its Your Hell You Burn In It!
Jesus is Coming Look Busy!
Anyone Who Claims God Is On Their Side Is Dangerous!
You found God? If nobody claims him in 30 days, He's yours!
Jesus is coming. On three, everyone yell 'Surprise!'
God Protect Me From Your Followers!
Are We Talking About The Same God?
Believing Bullshit Will Not Make it Come True!
God Doesn't Believe in Me Either... Things Even Out!
The Virgin Mary Was An Unwed Teenage Mother!
I Wasn't Created in Your Image of God.
"God made me an atheist. Who are you to question his wisdom?"
I've Studied the Bible, That's why I'm an Atheist!!!

43 comments:

  1. This is a powerful story and well written - I am quite sure many ex fundamentalist would identity with many aspects of your struggle. I love the badges - especially the Born OK the first time one!

    Thanks for sharing it with us. I hope you gain some healing from writing this blog - I think you will!
    Very best wishes on your journey - keep on writing!
    Jill

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  2. Your story mirrors mine quite closely except for a few details.

    Imagine living in a rural isolated setting with a emotionally unstable mother 40 years of age and an emotionally distant and passive stepdad 16 years her senior. My mother and myself were converts and didn't have close ties to the church families nor be able to learn their lifestyles.

    The church even discouraged hanging with other churchgoers who were "out of grace" backsliders, so I had very little contact with any of the other "young people's" family life. We were expected to follow old-fashioned sex roles where the wife would be the housekeeper and the husband be the breadwinner.

    Being male, I was never taught how to keep house or how to date outside the old-fashioned ways of the church where most of the kids in church dated and married other kids from among the other established church families.

    We were told that "friendship with the world is enmity against God", so even though I attended public school, close contact with classmates was forbidden.

    Even 20 years later I still suffer effects of isolation and neglect imposed by the church and my dysfunctional mother. I think the church has modernized somewhat nowadays but back in the '70s it effectively functioned as a cult with certain members encouraging isolation and dissociation from anyone whose lifestyle they disagreed with.

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  3. Hi F. Bacon
    I really empathise with you.
    Although I had many people about me, I did feel isolated, but it must have been worse for you, how awful! And your mother and step father being the way they were...

    I was also discouragerd from hanging about with "non Christian" people, (which was mostly everyone I knew), But due to having children to raise, it was quite impossible. I also stayed at home and my husband worked, but he was not a believer which also would have put me in a predicament, "if I got 'saved'"!

    Yeah, I didn't want to give up my friends, even though they were not Christian, they were lovely people, so this made me think, 'is that why god is not saving me'! Because I tried to lead the christian life otherwise!

    I know what you mean about all this time later! It has now been 30 years for me and I thought all the fears about living in this life would leave the day I decided to walk away, have not gone completely! I still have fears that I could die if I put myself at risk... But I am getting help with my travel phobias at the moment, and now!
    The Group of people that I got involved with in the 70's stand rigid in their beliefs and will not move one way or the other even now!
    I feel so angry, relieved and more relaxed, but angry and don't want anyone else to go through this... So If telling my story and listening to stories like yours can help just one other person, then it is worthwhile to get our stories out there... All the best to you! and thanks for taking the time to write.

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  4. The life I most likely would have had. I could foresee this even coming, but only because my life was my brain, not my family. Lost within my own thoughts since I began to read, I have learned. My mother is a Christian, my father ignored teaching me choices on my faiths, and instead my mother taught me that Christianity is the only option. I am still finding myself, and I wish the best for you. To be honest, I think you should try and make a book out of your story.

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  5. Dear Anonymous
    Thank Goodness you have not lived this life, and had your freedom to think for yourself. :) You were very wise to see it coming and do something to stop the process... I hope you continue and succeed to be content within yourself! I wish the very best for you too, dear friend. I wish I had the skills to write a book, I would love to.! Thanks for taking the time to comment.
    Kindest Regards
    Ex Fundy!

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  6. Thanks for writing about your experiences in the bible cult. I too, was a full fledged bible fundamentalist believer for almost 2 decades. My story is probably somewhat like yours.
    There was a lot of spiritual abuse, manipulation & tons of guilt, guilt, guilt.
    There was also a whole lot of "doublespeak".

    I tried my very best to live & "be perfect as god is perfect"...which is realllllly hard. I was sincere as anything. I didn't celebrate Halloween, Easter or Christmas for 19 years, thereby alienating myself from my family (who fortunately were not involved in the group I was in, but I thrust them at arms length because I should "prefer the brethren" which my family weren't "true believers"). The cult was KJV only, our church was right, all the rest of christianity are deceived & lukewarm...no where to worship & please god, except in the cult church. The experience was really bad.
    We finally had enough of the abuse, the silence & unwillingness of the leader to see anything other than his own dogma. We were excommunicated, slandered from the pulpit & church disciplined. It was stated in the pulpit & implied that if you left that group that god might just be so pissed that he would kill you or your family, or curse you for leaving the "truth". It was really, really difficult.

    I have written about some of my experiences on different blogs. The good thing is that there is LIFE & a GOOD LIFE after the bible cult. I am sooooo happy that we had the courage to leave that stifling & oppressive group.
    It has taken time to undo the cult brainwashing, but it can be done. My life isn't perfect, but it is so much better being free from the bible cult. I wish others would see it for what it is, but they have so much invested (as I did too) & it's really painful to realize that you gave your life for something that is a sham. Not many people are willing to question the dogma, the pastor or anything involving the "sacred science" of the group. So they stay in The Matrix. *sigh*

    I guess I've said enough.
    TAKE CARE & all of the best to you in your journey out of fundymentalism. :) :)
    April Galamin - Griffiths
    PS LOVE the pins! :)

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  7. Hi April
    Thanks you so much for your post...
    It truly sounds as if we have went through the same 'Mental Abuse' and that is what it is! Manipulation and the Guilt, Guilt, Guilt, like you say...

    I, like you tried my very best to be as perfect as I could, and then they would tell me, "you can't be perfect, the only one who was perfect was 'Christ'"!
    I was confused!!! "And anyway", they said, "you can't do good works to get into Heaven", you have to believe and trust in the lord", blah, blah, blah!
    And yeah, they thought they were the 'Only True Religion'... They said my church going friends and the local minister were watering down the truth'...
    And if you left the group... 'Woe betide you', God could take your life... 'Just like that'...

    Good for you and me for writing our stories April, I hope more people see these if they are suffering in any way, and our stories might help the next person to get out while they can and back to enjoying 'Life'... Because you are right in what you say... There is a good life out there away from all that abuse...
    My life isn't perfect either April as I am still dealing with my phobias that the mental abuse left me with, but I am damn sure now after widening my reading knowledge, that there is no 'god' anymore and never was... I can see the contradictions so clearly now, It has taken me a long time to see it, and what a relief it has on my mental state now...
    I know what you mean when you say about having invested so much of your life (like me) in this sham... I still feel a little bitter and angry with them, well actually quite a lot angry, I would sue them if I knew how to go about it... Seriously... Because that was more than 25 years of my life living in fear, for me anyway...
    But hey we are away from it and we can lead a happier life now...
    You take care April and keep having fun... So glad you took the time to write... Thanks

    Susan
    Alias Ex Fundamentalist

    PS Glad you love the Pins... So do I... lol :)

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  8. ((Susan)) I am glad when I hit blogs like this where people are speaking out against the abuse of "fundy-mentalism". Again, thanks soo much for speaking out. I am sure that others who are suffering will be helped by your writings when they realize they aren't alone in their struggles.

    There are several blogs out there & I know that when I was really struggling, I would read of others who had the same doubts, struggles, experiences and thoughts as I did. It was very validating in that I realized that I was NOT ALONE in experiencing the abusive nature of the bible cult. ( that's just what I call it, be it jehovah's witness, primitive baptist, calvinist, The Way International, etc.)

    Funny how many of the controlling pastors believe the internet is evil...HA!!! The internet has helpful information that opens peoples minds & the controlling preachers don't want anyone thinking outside of the box of their religious teachings. One thing I have found out is how similar the abusive groups are to one another. And the manipulative leaders seem to use very similar tactics.

    The number one tactic I saw was, as you have mentioned, FEAR. Fear of displeasing god in disagreeing w/ the preacher, fear of hell, fear of god striking one down, fear of missing god's perfect will for ones life, fear of believing the wrong doctrine, fear of celebrating holidays, fear of outsiders, fear of ONE ANOTHER in the group & not being able to fully trust each other on a human level. I have no doubt the leader had spies, giving him information about each other, so you couldn't be fully honest because you never knew who would go running to the "pastor" with the latest news...UGH
    Quite dysfunctional.

    From my experience, I began to really see the system for being fear based & NOT love or truth based.

    again..lots of contradictions too, as you mentioned as well. We were told we were saved by grace, but the burdens were sooooo heavy. There was nothing I could DO to be saved, but so much I HAD to DO ...(that's another story...rolleyes) Seems you experienced something very similar.

    I began to censor my own thoughts, being afraid that god would kill me for questioning, as that wasn't looked on highly by the pastor or other "true believers". The leader had absolutely NO accountability, not even an associate pastor. He was the "man o gawd" & god help the person who would dare to disagree.
    It was certainly a big crime to disagree w/ the pronouncements & proclamations from the pulpit for sure.

    Every thought is filtered through the dogma. I'm convinced that that is why there is mandatory church attendance, & weekly bible studies, to keep you from having any thoughts that differ from what is being shoved down your throat. and cassette tape ministries keep folks indoctrinated constantly, pop in a tape & get your automatic indoctrination session. If you start to think differently, there are always the sermons directed specifically to you where you & your situation can be made sermon fodder...that usually keeps the doubters in lock step. *sigh*

    I was quite damaged by it all on every level, emotional, spiritual, physical, psychological, financial, relationship. After it all, I have no need for religion in my life. I might consider myself a deist, but religion I can NOT Trust in any way, shape or form.

    Susan, I've rambled, but I am always soooo glad when I run into these sites where people have gotten free, even if it's just the smallest baby steps towards thinking for themselves & what their truth is.

    Yaay for you! thumbsup!

    I'll be stopping by from time to time.
    Take Care & all the best to you
    April Galamin - Griffiths

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  9. Hi April... You are right to call it a 'Bible Cult', I agree... I know what you mean exactly about these 'controlling Preachers'. They made me burn all my other books when I took up with them at the age of 17...

    And Yes! Fear is the Tactic...
    From the off, I was terrified... And even more terrified to leave, and I never got any comfort from it as I was not 'saved', for all that time! So fearful, I was scared to take my own life even... I felt trapped, in this world, damned in the next!
    I, as you did censored my own thoughts, I was told "Who are we to question God", and on the other was told to "watch out for wolves in sheeps clothing"! So is that not a contradiction in itself?
    We only ever met in 'A House' There was no church building so no attachment to anywhere specific, except for the 'Saved' Christians (Born again believers) who met on a Sunday in the Minister's house for bible study and worship... They had 'nonchristian' meetings in the middle of the week or they would come to your house and hold a prayer meeting, or meet in someone's house... There would also be contact by phone...

    You say April... "I was quite damaged by it all on every level, emotional, spiritual, physical, psychological, financial".
    Me too, although not so much financial, I did contribute some of my wages now and again...
    But damaged in every other way...

    April, I have enjoyed your rambles, so feel free anytime... I love it too when you see that someone has got out and free to think for themselves...
    All this damages your confidence a whole lot and that takes time to build up again...
    Like you say, "baby steps" they will get you there in the end...
    Stop by anytime April, I hope you are not to shocked at some of the posts I put up!
    But I hate ANY kind of "Fundamentalist Teaching" with a passion now...
    Your old Church of Scotland (Here in the UK), are not a threat to anyone and people can come and go as they please, these churches don't harm people so much, so I don't have a gripe with them, even tho' I no longer believe in God, I don't mind the beliefs that are not out to destroy a person Country or race...
    I think I've blabbed on a bit too now...

    Catch up with you soon April and You take care of yourself... Kindest Regards to you.
    Thanks for taking the time...
    Susan xx

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  10. ((Susan))

    You wrote, "But I hate ANY kind of "Fundamentalist Teaching" with a passion now..." I am SO there with you. The self righteous & judgmental way of that type of teaching is so damaging to people. I'm so done with abusive religion & pretty much religion of any kind.

    How interesting that the group you were involved with had cult worship time in homes. The cult I escaped didn't own a building, therefore making it very easy to stay under the radar. They've rented out Legion/VFW halls, they rent places for bible studies (read=mini indoctrination session) Because of this, people who come to church are usually brought in by members & rarely were there ever strangers coming in. The group can be found on the internet, but one would have to search hard. I find it funny because as believers you aren't supposed to hide your light under a basket, which is what it seems like they are doing.
    And many preachers have their videos on youtube, you know they are so convinced they have the "truth"...I don't believe that the cult has anything on youtube. I think someone wants to stay hidden.

    I was forced to conform too, as you mentioned the burning of your books....I burned some of my artwork that had nudes in it in the preacher's fireplace. I now realize that I was pressured to do rather outrageous things because this solidified my adhesion to the group. Engaging in these outrageous actions, I believe bonds a person to the group because you force yourself to think "it must be REAL...after all, I burned my artwork! I left my extended family & moved out of state to be with the believers! as there was no "true church" where I lived....(yes, I did do that...*sigh*) It is all very manipulative & they are deceptive as you really don't know what you are getting into, they just want to get you in & quick. then they begin to load you up with burdens, after you believed you were completely "saved by grace"! What BS.

    And I believe the leader, who prides himself of being a people watcher, knows how to read those folks who can be broken easier than others. He would even blast from his pulpit that "this church isn't for everyone!". I realize now that yeah, it's for people the preacher believes he can CONTROL.

    I have had to process much of what I/we went through. I too have read a lot of books about cult recovery & have come to see how manipulated & used I was. It had nothing to do with any god, it had everything to do with an abusive religious system & supplying the leader with his needs.

    When we were guilted to uproot our lives for the church...I mean CULT, the leader,on more than one occasion commented on how when believers move to be closer to the church, it makes HIS LIFE EASIER. I was astounded...I thought, fuck, he didn't care what we suffered or our burdens of uprooting our lives or the damage it caused us. It was all to "make his life easier". gawd.........how could I have believed the shit I was fed?

    Enough for now Susan, I'm sure we both certainly have experienced a HELL of a lot.
    I am very glad to be out, & that our children wont be brought up in that hell on earth. I am trying to move forward, but it takes time. I know I am feeling better than I did when I left. I never thought I'd ever feel 'normal' again, but I DO! The person they tried to break down is BACK. :) It takes a LOT of time & everyone heals on their own schedule.

    You take care of yourself Susan. I also send you thoughts of compassion & that you will continue to heal.
    April G
    PS thanks for letting me write.....

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  11. I'm glad that you've pulled through and are enjoying life with your new partner. It makes me so sad when I see people's lives being blighted by fear of the supernatural or, come to that, of falling foul of whatever ideological leaders they follow. Controlling individuals who put themselves at the apex of religious and political groups and terrorise those beneath them make me livid. All of the monotheistic scriptures strike me as evil, as they are full of so much violence and hatred of women.

    Scepticism with respect to life, the Universe and everything it contains strikes me as the most humane approach. Although not that keen on politicians generally, some words used by FDR are inspiring: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Take care.

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  12. Thanks Durotrigan. I feel the same as you, when I hear of anyone's life being blighted by fear of God etc! I am so glad I've got out, even tho' I am not over it yet! Still using therapy to help me!
    Thanks for taking the time to write... ;)

    Regards
    Ex Fundamentalist...

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  13. This is an absolutely amazing story. I definitely identify with a lot of what you wrote. The constant struggle of saved/not saved, the push to get others saved, etc. Glad to find another Ex Fundamentalist out there!

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  14. EX-Fundie. Thank you so much for your comment. It saddens me but pleases me at the same time that there is someone else out there who I have so much in common... Sad that you had to suffer the same atrocities as me, but knowing that you understand where I'm coming from... It is shocking that we were made to feel such lowlifes if we didn't have or believe in God, as if we were incapable of being good human beings without a God...
    I'm so glad you are an 'Ex-Fundie' now too my friend... Hope you are happy and contented from now on...
    Ex Fundamentalist...

    ReplyDelete
  15. I can identify with your story too, having been a Christian for most of my 62 yrs. and for 15 or so years, part of fundamental christianity. I bought into the "born again" experience while I was a member of a traditional denomination and then decided I had to move on to a pentecostal church..."they had it so right, you see" haha

    That was the beginning of getting in so deep that I was constantly striving to do better, listen to God, pray without ceasing, being guided by the Holy Spirit....on and on....

    Then I found a local fellowship that in the end turned out to be a cult and this really put the finishing touches on my faith journey!! (in a very negative, harmful way...leading to my having a breakdown and being in a psychiatric unit for 4 months). I was so fearful during my time in hospital, had so many vivid nightmares and determined on my release that I would never go back to this kind of fellowship/church/cult.

    I should say that my breakdown happened a full 3 yrs. after leaving the cult...so that shows what impact the experience prompted and its long lasting effects! I am still on anti-depressants and expect I will be for the rest of my life.

    Right now my main struggle is that I am very fearful of "coming out" as an Agnostic/Atheist and I suspect a lot of my Christian friends (who have abandoned me, by the way) have sussed that I am no longer a believer. In fact one person actually posed the question to my son during my hospitalization "Has she lost her faith?" I question now what all those years were about....and how, after leaving the faith, I am still held captive by teachings, memories.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am happily married to my non-Christian husband for 40 yrs. and peace finally reigns in our relationship after my years of trying to get him "saved"....I am free of that burden too! Hurray.

    Just to say I found your story via Marlene Winell whose book I have recently read and found very helpful.

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  16. Hi Jacquie
    Thank you for identifying with my story,
    I think the problem is when you're in the deep of it, like me, you don't see the wrong in it, and you don't dare question it... And really why not? They used to tell me I just had to have faith, well, No, I don't just have to have faith, I have to have proof, and now that I'm questioning it, there is no proof...
    And on the other hand they tell you to beware of wolves in sheeps clothing, so you have to question to try and find the truth (That doesn't exist) It's madness Jacquie, eh! (Contradiction 1, there's thousands).
    My cult group was also negative... The minister's wife was a nurse and should understand Psychiatry, they told me when I was in hospital with acute clinical depression that 'it was a sin to be in dispair', and I needed God in my life, and proceeded to tell me when the "non-Christian" meetings were starting... I just stood open-mouthed...
    I could not even function anymore then...

    It just shows you Jacquie that your so called "christian friends" who are supposed to be the nicest of nice people are really the nastiest, horrible, fake, self-righteous, people you will ever meet... That's proof enough...
    I can totally understand and empathise the impact it had on you... 13 years after leaving and it has left me with a lot of phobias... I am also still on anti-depressants...
    Don't ever go back Jacquie and have you sought help or counselling from your doctor?
    Please don't struggle by coming out as an Atheist/Agnostic, you have done no wrong... You are already condeming yourself for being what you want to be... It is they who have a problem with you and they are just proving that they are not even true christians... Because if Christ was here what would he do...? Just change your group of friends, look for interests in your area and get involved again with "nice" people! Get witty and when the next person asks "has she lost her Faith"? Just be ready to say, "oh no, she couldn't wait to get rid of it", lol That should stop them in thier tracks...
    It takes a long time to get rid of a lifes-time of habit and way of life... I too had the same problem J... I questioned everything I did, thinking was I right to do this, or that, when I just had to start believing in myself and trusting my own judgement on things, and hey, If I made a mistake... So what, I learned from it... Life's not so bad... I'm not a bad person just because I'm not a christian... That's what really gets me... I have morals... And even some and I 'emphasise' that some of the bible has good sayings and guidence. Not that I rely on it at all, no way, but I do not believe it is the word of God because I do not believe in A God, anymore...
    You enjoy your life now with your husband Jacquie, thank goodness you are free of that burden too...

    Thanks for letting me know how you found your way to my blog... I am so glad I have told my story too and don't feel so alone in my thoughts when I know that someone like you has also broke free... Hurray, like you say... lol Hurray! :) It has made it worthwhile for me if just one person can relate... :)
    Regards
    Susan
    AKA Ex Fundamentalist

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  17. Thank you so much for your blog. I also appreciate reading the stories that were written in response. It is easy for me to feel very alone in my healing of these experiences. So this is a great comfort. It's warming to see that there is a community of shared torment and the Courage to Stop the Abuse. My father was a southern baptist minister of a very large congregation in the south. That makes me an expert -Ha. (Maybe the craziest of all). But my life now is so sweet and I am putting together the messy bits and pieces as best I can, and the imagrey is very calming and appealing for me. I Do believe in a Power, a Force, whatever. But it doesn't have a face or a gender and has nothing to do with religion. That discovery has brought me in to a Whole New Wonderful World of delightful freedoms. I am so grateful to have found this site. From my heart I thank all of you, and Congratulate your bright minds and Courage to see thru the debris. ♥

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  18. Hi Anon
    Thank you for posting. I appreciate that you have taken the time to read and post on here too. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the loneliness in healing. As I am from the UK and there are no support grougs of this kind of thing around that I've found and you really need to talk with someone who has total understanding of what you are going through. I get great comfort out of guys like you who are reading my story and can relate to it, because we do feel so alone at these times when your friends are true believers or they have never had to go through "Religious Trauma Syndrome" (This is what Dr. Marlene Winell a psychologist is calling this 'abuse'. So glad you are getting it together now Anon! :) And whatever you believe, is ok as long as it does you good... Freedom of mind is the best thing though... Thank you Anon for your comments and as I said Taking the time to come and read these wonderful stories of people just like you and me... Take care my friend... :)

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  19. I am excited about a book I have been reading and I thought of You First. The book is called "Serpents in the Manger". It is so beautifully written and is so affirming. It is very thorough and is about Overcoming Abusive Christianity, primarily fundamental beliefs and how they have been passed through generations, and the chaos and pain that result. It's like they read my mind and wrote a book about it. Awesome!! It's your story, it's my story and I just had to share this with you. Thanks again for your support, understanding and of course, your blog. ♥

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  20. Left the madness16 July 2011 at 13:48

    Thank you for sharing your story and path to healing on this website. You went through a rough road but give hope to others who can untangle the web of lies and come out on the other end someday into the bright sunshine of freedom. I was raised in a fundie family and my mom who is now 65 is almost going off the rails of sanity believing that the end of the world is near and that a new age religion of Satan is taking over. She is so utterly brainwashed and deluded that I am past bitterness and just feel sad for her tormented life. It took me over a decade to unravel the devastating effects of guilt, shame, fear, and confusion of my fundie Christian upbringing. My harrowing fear and shame of God began around age five when I was convinced that God was going to punish me horribly for any sins I committed. This continued well into my early twenties until I developed a social anxiety disorder due to all the years of fear and shame. I can get so enraged if I think about it all but have been able to release most of that anger and focus on raising my own children as well as possible free of that man-made horrifying awful doctrine. Instead, I teach them to simply meditate and get in touch with the one Spirit that exists in the All. We are all One and what the fundies teach is horrifyingly at odds with this reality.

    Thanks again for sharing your story with others to help them get out.

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  21. Dear Anon...
    Sorry my reply is late... I will certainly look up the book you are talking about... Interested to read about similarities in our lives/stories... Thank you again for thinking of me... And you are most welcome... I hope you go from strength to strength.. <3

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  22. Hi Left the madness
    Brilliant name! Very apt!

    It gives me great pleasure to hear comments like yours...
    I always wondered if I should ever go public with my story, and replies like yours makes it all worthwhile!
    Even just to get one reply has made it worwhile, and I am so happy to have helped someone feel more relaxed with themselves and to finally stop beating themselves up! (as I did for so long).

    It is really sad that we still see people/family who we love, continue to be fooled and miss out on a better life. But then they think they have the better 'afterlife' that we now know doesn't exist!
    I too like you are a lot further down the road now, (13 years for me) and still needing help with my phobias... Improving with each little baby step... :)
    So glad you have found your way again LTM...
    Thank you for your kind comments...

    Take care my friend...

    Ex Fundamentalist...

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  23. Fortunately I grew up a moderate christian, by grade 6 though I was a total atheist, I only admitted it to myself by grade 7, and only became proactive about it by grade 8, now nearing grade 9 I'm reading your blog. I think things are looking up, although I still have an undeniable psychological scarring, I still say I'm a christian in public, I go to a catholic school, and still say to myself "god if you exist" :)
    I think this applies to me:
    http://www.spiritualatheist.co.uk/2011/02/no-first-generation-atheist-is-possible.html

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  24. Wow buddy,this is the first time I've read this (even tho we've been interbutz homies for a while now. sorry) and it is awesome. The thingy about being saved, or feeling saved, is that it is self fulfilling. You can make it happen or you cn make it not happen. Buddy, you are awesome. Thanks.

    Kriss

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  25. Hey Kriss... No worries at all... And Thanks... You are right about the "Being saved" thingy... Guess I didn't really believe in myself enough at the time... So who cares now anyway... Way beyond that, thank goodness... You are awesome Kriss... Take care my friend...
    Sue xxx

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  26. William I do apologise for not replying sooner...
    I'm so glad that at such a young age you are thinking free thoughts for yourself, and it's only natural for you to slide back into that - "When in doubt, when in fear, and when in need of self preservation - they resort back to religious believes, incantations, and to mother church, synagogue, mosque or temple." kind of thing... Don't feel guilty or bad over it and I'm sure it has become a habitual thing rather than actually deep down beliefs anymore and as you grow up and learn more and read more and see that "hey it's alright to be atheist", then you will feel more and more comfortable with it and the answer will come to you and you will be able to evaluate each and every situation without having to resort to a "God that doesn't exist". but you will have to believe in that by yourself... My answer is to - read, read, read, as much as you can and things will start falling into place themselves. We all don't profess to know the truth about life, but there are things out there that we are finding out about all the time, which is a bigger help than just trusting in something that there is no evidence for!!!
    You take care William and I wish you all the luck in the world, pop back from time to time and let us know how you are getting on eh!
    Regards
    Ex Fundamentalist...

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  27. Susan, Just a brief hello and thank you for your poignant story and the sharing of others here, so I am just sending out a warm hug to all. Although I was not a mind-control victim of Christian fundamentalism, I was nonetheless a mental prisoner of a cultish but widespread group that started back in the 1930's and to which my mother belonged and which eventually tainted my psychology for many decades after I was born in early 1940's - and I am still releasing myself from some vestiges of chains of superstition which I have finally been able to address with a lot more thought-time in retirement. I especially want to commend you, Susan, for your wonderful site and YouTube presence as they are a labor of love and are packed with interesting material. I also thank you for making them available from your Facebook page as they can be discovered by others, like myself. My best to all in your liberation journey in space-time. Well, wasn't as brief as I thought I would be! lol

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  28. Thanks Dave and sorry for the delay in answering. Thanks for the hug too, much needed to us all I think... Great that you have been able to address the chains of superstition. Thank you so much for your kind comments. And kindest regards to you Dave and the information and interesting links etc that you are providing for us all on Facebook...

    Susan, AKA Ex Fundamentalist...

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  29. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for sharing.
    My story is slightly different, in that it started out as a Qi Gong class (similar to tai chi). It was then taken over by a husband and wife who came from a very fundamentalist background. They turned it in to a cult. And after reading many people's experiences with religion, it turns out that they were just feeding me religious bs. I did not realise as it came as part of the Qi Gong. I now know that they were straight teachings from a relgious group, nothing to do with Qi Gong. I was too young and vulnerable to realize at the time. (Qi gong can be very useful to improve health and well-being, just like tai chi and yoga can.)
    Have left that group behind and am dealing with the emotional damage. Very similar to your signs and symptoms. Getting better though. Still very angry, with them as well as with myself for getting suckered in.
    Working on making people aware of the damage that religion causes. The economic cost, for one, must be huge. The environmental cost too (all those printed watchtowers, bibles, korans etc.). It is unsustainable for a human to follow religion, but also for the earth and its resources.
    Am sorry to see how many of us have been damaged...
    Thanks

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  30. Hi Anonymous,
    My goodness, it just goes to show how devious these kind of people are eh! I can empathise with you for being young and vulnerable, and you know that it was not your fault, right! These people know how to manipulate people like you and me, we are too trusting at the beginning, then we get snared! I am angry with them too and myself but we should be kinder to ourselves as we were not in the wrong!
    I think there is more openness about the dangers of
    "A Religious Cult/Belief" and hope that through the internet etc (which I didn't have when I was young) that there is more education and more people like you and me to fight back and help those who were/are just like us! Power to you my friend... Keep up the fight!
    And thank you... :)

    Regards Susan...
    AKA Ex Fundamentalist...

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  31. I am very fortunate that I was not exposed to any religious Fundamentalist brainwashing. I had a pretty ordinary nominally christian upbringing but was always taught to question everything in life. Because of this, I am uncertain of my right to contibute in this forum or at least question the validity of my views.
    I just recently came across our host Susan and her spirt and experiences and indeed sheer common decency have inspired me to contibute in whatever little way I can to support he quest to help others going through what she suffered.
    As ever, anyone who doesnt like what I am about to write or thinks it unworthy of this site do what we all have the right to do. Dont read it.
    I probably grew up wanting to follow they route if not the roadmap of christianity. It was associated in my mind with being a good and honest person but as soon as I began to ask the simple suplimentary questions I found that asking questions was not really encouraged. I have few issues with religious theologeons (issue will spelling perhaps) as I am happy to discuss their faith or almost anything else with anyone.
    I tend not to come from an agressively antagonistic position but certainly a firmly sceptically opposed one.
    I guess I must be trying in my simple way to test their doctrine as I do try to find the depth of their rational thought process. At what point they stop thinking and studying and debating and simply accept an unprovable and scientificaly discredited notion for sooner or later they will.
    This is the get out of jail card, a matter of faith.
    Never the less, I can see that many religious people are fundimentally good human beings. I dont speak of true fundamentalists as they wish nor deserve my time and company.
    My fortunate counter balance to religion was to become interested in politics. Not party politics neccessarily but day to day social politics. I am a socialist by instinct but the world of broad politics does allow and indeed encourage debate and questioning. I hadn't strong but I had undeniable prejudices as a young man. Politics made me examine my assumptions. Why did I think people of other races were in some (albeit vague) way inferior? Why did I degrade and ridicule gay people? Why did I believe that I, as a baptised if armchair protestant was in some strange way more valid that a catholic or jew or muslum or hindu? These things and more were discussed and debated openly in political forums. I was forced, although forced is not the correct word, I was inspired and excited by these open forums, to really question and analyes these prejudices.
    I met people who would help me intelectualise my prejudices in a way that allowed me to dissect and examine them.
    To use a corrupted religious phrase, my eyes were opened.I saw the light.
    I did not perceive difference at 5 when my friends went to one school and me to another. Black people were intersting and exotic to me, not inferior. When did all these negitive these ideas creep into my brain?
    I would suggest through first and second hand media propoganda. Racist and sexist jokes in the playground or workplace were now stimulating my need to challange these and I do so to this day.
    This has been a long, rambling and almost certainly incoherant contibution to the page but my point being that the only safe approach to anything you are being told no matter how often you hear it is question, research, debate and challenge. Ask the difficult questions and if they are answered to you satisfaction fine. If not, persist! read, challenge. Is religion a route to a good life and salvation of your soul? or could it perhaps be a meens to control and manipulate us? If we are meek and accepting in this life do we not reap our reward in the next? Is it worth antagonising and agetating now if it costs us eternity in agony and torment? To me it is clear. Religion is a means of control and subdugation. Not an enlightenment but a blindfold.
    The way, the truth and the light is not though any god but through education, learning, questioning and challenge.
    CGN

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  32. Hi Colin...
    Wow! Thank you for taking the time to comment, and you and anyone else are most welcome to comment no matter what (or not) your Religious background....

    You have been indeed very fortunate in being taught to question everything in life. I don't blame anyone for my decisions or lack of inspirations at a young age. I know for one that my parents wanted the very best for me and they did not know how much - Indeed, I did not know how much of a profound experience this would have had in my life... I believed it was the way for life, and death, and eternity itself!

    Thank you Colin for the short time we have had communicating and you already offer your support, (I must have made an impact on you. lol). How decent of you!
    I as a youngster was not encouraged to question things but I think it was a case of, the generation of parents at the time, like - "You will do as you are told by an adult and not give cheek", so learned to accept your lot and adults know best etc!!!... I was a quiet, shy child into the bargain so would not make a fuss. And I was not threatened with abuse in any way as punishments, I just learned to do as I was told... Like millions of other children around the world, I was no exception!

    I do think that the regular churches like here in Scotland for instance, (Church of Scotland) are not a danger in themselves, but they do, do the ground work for inquiring minds, the blank sheet, that knows nothing of an "inferior being"...

    I know that my mother had not intended to frighten me insomuch as being told when you were small, "If you are bad you will go to the burny fire". This made kids stop and think about what they were doing... (Some didn't mean a thing)... I did tell my own daughter (as I was under conviction at the time), that "if she was bad, and mummy and daddy wasn't there then Jesus was watching her all the time". OMG how I hate myself for that, But I know I believed I was doing her a favour at the time... I will never forgive myself for that.

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  33. What you said Colin about being a 'Socialist', well I think, that was the beginning of me thinking again about life in general, although it used to torment me too. I had started a sociology class when my youngest daughter started nursery, around the same time our Local History Group started too in fact. And I think Learning about Sociology made me begin to think about things, although at the time I would often argue the case against what religion did to a person and it sometimes contradicted with my beliefs.
    You see the group I was with, made me burn all the books I owned, and I had nothing to learn about how Society works, so it truly was an eyeopener for me, and fascinating... But I had to fight hard with my beliefs and doubts. If It was true, or not, then I would get threatened with hell and damnation again and again if I left the group.

    But the seed of doubt was sown. My curiosity was tempted, and I think that was the start of my long road to Depression and mental health problems. Because I tried to fight against my thoughts and beliefs while it became impossible to deal with that alone never mind life in general. I had a breakdown eventually.
    Now, I am on the road to recovery and getting out and about and refuse to believe in a god with certainly, no evidence for it (Now I see that), and more evidence that I 'Can see', for Evolution. You are so right Colin, 'Question, research, debate and challenge', and the truth will out and not damage you in the process, no threats of hell and damnation from Science now is there, if you don't accept it, eh!

    Now I don't believe we have a soul, which got changed along the way from 'Spirit' and the translation of Spirit in either Hebrew or Latin, (can't remember which one) means 'Breath', so when the 'Soul' leaves the body, it simply means your breath as you die, and they have somehow construed this into 2 entities... Body and Soul! Pahhh!
    Religion is definitely a means to control and manipulate is big time.

    Thanks again Colin.

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  34. Sorry it's in two parts... I must have rambled on too much for one go... lol

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  35. Wow. I just stumbled across this website. I am a christian, but so sorry for all the pain that you all have been through.
    The cults can really help you get messed up. I agree.

    Take care and may you find truth, whatever that may be. :)

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  36. As Colin called it brainwashing, so do I. I can't believe how many stories I read about 17 year olds becoming born-again. I guess it's because it's such an age of discovery. That is when I was sucked in as well. I began blogging about my views as an ex-fundy among other things last month. I am glad to have found your blog. Our stories are important for the protection of minds. Keep it up. Thanks.

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  37. Hi Susan, I think you are right about the age 17 (vulnerable time)! I agree with you so much about getting our stories out there... Glad you are out of it now too...
    Take care my friend... :)

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  38. I love your story and I love your site, even though I am a Pastor! However, I'm a very liberal one, and am myself a convert from fundamentalism. I'm not sure of the existence of God, but I do believe humans are called to love others, to strive for justice and to protect our mother--Mother Earth.
    Thank you.

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  39. The major problem I found in the Fundamentalist type churches I used to frequent was being asked "Are you saved?". When I'd answer in the affirmative, they'd just press the issue evem more,and if I said Well, I certainly believe I am, the usual response would be "You believe you are, but you're not sure"? When it finally became obvious that I was never going to get in good graces with them, or their "God" I decided to explore some alternative paths. I finally decided on the Unitarian Universalist! Rather than preaching any "absolute truth" doctrines, they encourage people to be true to themselves, and to choose their own path! As for myself, I decided on the Buddhist path, because it doesn't teach any absolute concept of God, and it also seemed to parallel the seven principles of the Unitarian Universalist! You can find a lot of information about the Unitarian Universalist on their official website!

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  40. Thank you Anonymous, for taking the time to comment... and for your kind comments... I will continue to get the message out there to help protect our Earth too... :)

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  41. Dear Ex-fundamentalist, your ex testimony is heart-wrenching, but not surprising. So many wolves out there who use Scripture for their own ego - at the expense of 17-year olds undergoing conviction-of-sin.

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  42. Dear Sue,Thank you for taking the time to comment... Yes many, many wolves out there indeed... Here's hoping that these days Young people will have a little more knowledge at their fingertips and be aware of the 'whole world' and beyond. Out there has more to offer them than these restricted, blinkered, damaging, bloody man made, not 'God' made rules and laws and scriptures, and see how science has progressed and that there is more wonders and amazing things to learn on how we really got here on the first place... :) Make kids feel good about themselves and the world in which they live... And not be brought up in FEAR!!!

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