The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God
Growing Pains
By Theo

 My parents were sold on the teachings of the Worldwide Church of God when I was just nine years old. Taking away Christmas and the celebration of my birthday at that age hit me really hard. It was always hard for me to accept the change in my life but I had no choice but to go along each week and sit through the long, long two hours. If that wasn't enough, we had an over zealous Minister who would often go overtime. I endured the church until I was 13. It was then I finally won the weekly argument and stayed home, looking back I wished I hadn't. After about a year the Minister decided to step in. Unknown to me at the time there was some plotting taking place. I was not doing well in school mainly because I was trying to prove that I was no "church boy" and I did some things I should not have done. To cut things short, because I did not want anything to do with the church and because my grades were very poor I found myself enrolled in a private school and living with a church member I have never met before. I had to live a five-hour drive away from home and leave my old life behind. My older brother didn't mind going to church, I think this was because he had some good friends. My younger brother and sister were still forced to attend just as I was, but I don't think they minded that much.

Now this Church member, Mr Monty who I now had to live with, was very much into the teaching of the church, much more than my parents. He was 6ft 6" and had a solid build. I was not very tall for my age and he just towered over me. My parents had given him full authority over me and he let me know that right from the outset. It did not take me long to click that I had been sent away to be straighten out. One of the first things he made me do was to get my haircut. It was 1979 and long hair was still in, not for me anymore. I will never forget how I felt the first evening I spent with him. He sat me down and went through all the things that he expected of me while I was under his AUTHORITY. I felt so sad inside, but did not want to show him this and put on a brave face. I felt very alone, without a friend in the world and was simply dumbfounded when I thought about how my parents would do this to me. I was really scared of Mr Monty, who had been given authority over me and felt so betrayed by my parents. I was 14 years old, but I cried like a baby the first night away from home.

Along with the short haircut my entire wardrobe was changed. My denim jeans and jackets and t-shirts were tossed away. Formal style shirts, short pants and long knee socks replaced them. Now although I was scared of Mr Monty I challenged him on what I should wear. This was when I was first introduced to "Mr Attitude" the paddle. I remember as if it was yesterday. This was my first Sabbath get together with the brethren in the area. As it was a country town there were not enough members to have a formal service. Mr Monty ordered me to put on a white long sleeve shirt with a red tie, grey shorts and long grey socks, which I had to pull up to my knees. Now a boy of 8 would have be seen in this kind of outfit ten years earlier but this was definitely not the fashion of the day, more so for a 14-year-old boy. Having the outfit on I confronted Mr Monty and told him that I was not going out dressed like this. I also told him that he was years behind the fashion of the day. He did not like my tone and he told me just that. He grabbed hold of my arm tightly and pulled me over to the wall unit in the lounge room. He opened up the draw and all the air seemed to leave my lungs as I found myself looking at large wooded paddle. I knew right away what was next. Within seconds I found myself squirming around his lap as he laid into my backside with the paddle. I could not bare the pain and managed to free myself briefly. But he was much stronger and eventually he pinned me down over his leg while he gave me a long hard spanking.

That experience was so humiliating for me at 14. Humility, apparently, was something I needed. Looking back Mr Monty was a very self-righteous man. He quoted scripture daily, "spare the rod and spoil the child being one of his favourites". I had numerous chores to do and was also expected to get top grades. Apart from the news, I watched no television and Mr Monty monitored the kind of books I could read. I did not fit in at my new school. Even though the school had a uniform I still appeared different. Shorts were optional, but not for me. While all the other boys were wearing long grey trousers, in the winter months I was the only one wearing grey shorts with long socks and along with my short haircut I stood out. Mr Monty explained, "You have been set apart from the ways of this world". I was lucky enough to have one good friend at school. I shared everything with him and without him I would not have survived. He could not believe what I was spanked for, but he was good enough to keep this to himself and he never told anyone about how I was punished. I was spanked for, not washing the dishes clean enough, not picking up after myself, bad grades, coming home late, talking back, not using my knife and fork correctly at meal times, having my socks down or shirt untucked, the list goes on. All trivial things but never the less I was paddled. "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much", was often quoted.

As I mentioned earlier, it was thought that I needed lessons in being meek and humble. I felt very humiliated in the way I was made to dress and more so that I was still spanked at 14 years old. Fortunately I did not suffer the indignity of having my pants taken down when being spanked I always told myself I would run away if ever that happen. Looking back Mr Monty, backed by the church, had no idea of what real humility was. My self esteem was completely taken from me and I became very withdrawn. I felt belittled more than anything. The only thing that I was proud of was that I never gave Mr Monty the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Sometimes I am sure he kept on hitting me in ordered to make me cry as I sure did not deserve to be beaten so hard for so long for such minor things. I was "soundly thrashed" as Mr Monty would say, in the first year perhaps on average four times a week. After that I was not beaten as often as I learned how to avoid it. Although I did not cry in front of Mr Monty I did shed many tears alone in my room at night. To get and idea of what I went through I will relate two events that happened when I was 14.

I hated being seen in public dressed in the clothes I was made to wear. I would stay in my school uniform as much as I could during the week to avoid changing into clothes I hated. No matter the weather I always had to wear shorts, mostly grey, and long socks. Sometimes I had to wear braces with my shorts which looked even more juvenile, remember I was 14 at the time. On one occasions I was spotted in my grey Sabbath suit by two of the boys from my school. They just pointed at me and burse out laughing. Being seen in a suit would have been bad enough, but this suit came with baggy lined shorts which came down to my knees. I also had to wear long matching grey socks which had to be pulled up to my knees. It was a cold day so I had a v-neck jumper on under my jacket and I also had a tie on. Of course on the Monday at school the boys who saw me told everyone and I was teased all week about it. When I complained to Mr Monty he said that the suit was not much different to my school uniform, completely overlooking the fact that I was the only one in the "optional school shorts". I made the mistake of bringing that up "again" and was belted for doing so. That episode was very humiliating for me but what was more crushing was the time I fell asleep listening to a church tape one Sabbath day. Every Sabbath the brethren in the area would meet at someone's house to listen to a sermon tape. This day they were meeting at our home and even though I was at home I still had to dress in my short pant suit, in fact everyone would come formally dressed. From memory there were six others at the house. There was a married couple in their late forties or early fifties, three elderly ladies and a single mum with a young infant. During the sermon I nodded off. I am not sure how long I was asleep for but I was woken up with a hard slap on my leg. I was then told to get the paddle. My stomach was in knots with the thought of being paddled in front of everyone. I was hoping that Mr Monty would at least take me to my bedroom. I came back with the paddle and he told me to get over his knee. I hesitated and eventually asked in a soft voice if we could go to another room. I was told, for all to hear, if you want to sleep while listening to the word of God in front of everyone you can expect to be punished in front of everyone. With that he pulled me over his knee and paddled me long and hard. I am sure my face was as red as my backside when he let me up. I had to listen to the rest of the sermon while standing with my hands on my head. The taped message seemed to go on longer than a Waterhouse sermon that day. After it had finally finished I was sent to make the tea and coffee. It was a relief to leave the room as I felt really awkward. The single Mother, whose name I cannot recall, came out to the kitchen and asked if she could help. I said I could manage okay, but she stayed anyway. I could tell she felt great compassion for me and eventually she gave me a few words of encouragement and told me to keep my chin up. That set me off and I broke down in tears. She was the only member of the group who seemed to understand my pain. Unfortunately for me she stopped coming to the weekly Sabbath gatherings a few months later. The only other comment came from one of the elderly ladies as she left. "I will see you next Theo. Now try and be a good boy for Mr Monty, you don't want you bottom smacked again do you". That made me feel so small, she had no idea on how to lift my spirit. After everyone had left Mr Monty gave me an hour lecture which was more like a sermon as he proudly quoted scripture after scripture.

The results that my parent desired came forth. I turned into an obedient meek boy. I stopped questioning what was taught and accepted that I was a special "called out one". My spirit had been broken (beaten out of me) and I was now a shy withdrawn young man who served the local congregation. After all this took place my parents eventually left the church in 1994 and I went through a second shattering experience. All that had been beaten into me was now changed and seems all for nothing. My teenage years were stolen from me. I will never get them back!

Theo

 


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