How Bad Was It, Really?
I know there are a lot of wcg horror stories out there. If you would like to share them anonymously or under your name, please send them to me at:
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New on 8/7/98:
I've been thinking about something... I have a lot of questions about some things. So I'm going to recount my experiences and observations here and see if any of you have any other observations...
As you all know, I was raised in Worldwide Church of God, I was born there and had been involved in it (in one way or another) until about a year ago or so. Essentially everything in my life was either influenced by or revolved around the cult for that amount of time, about 21 years.
There were a lot of kids who went to church with me - they grew up to be somewhat normal - with all of their faculties - even though their parents seemed to be, under certain circumstances, even more severe than mine. I have to wonder what was different.
The Worldwide Church of God (or any organized religion, as I'm beginning to find out) is very difficult on a child. The child is born with a preconceived mold fit around them that the parents feel obligated (as a "highest calling", if you will) to force the child to fit into. The preschool years, at least in my case, could only be described as the "period of molding", when my parents were making a very concerted effort, pushing, prodding, stomping, paddling, whatever, in an effort to make me fit into that little mold. I can't forget the Y.E.S. lessons we were required to do every week, or the "memory scriptures". The memory scriptures were particularly virulent because the Toledo minister at that time, George Kackos, would look at my parents askance if I (or my brother) did not have them memorized like good church kids. Sometimes he would have "a talk" with them, if I remember correctly. The long and short is that the minister was actively involved in trying to force me into that mold.
During this time, I had no friends my age outside the church (or even inside the church, come to think of it), so the only point of view I was ever exposed to was my parents' and the church's.
At this point in time I can remember thinking reverently about the minister - fearing him - like he was God himself. I remember even revering things as stupid as his haircut, or the types of shoes he wore. The church literally was my life at that time. I was thoroughly brainwashed as a little child - as much as it pains me to admit it. There could be no other...
I was not put into kindergarten. In all fairness, I was actually too smart for kindergarten...
My first experience with "normal" kids my age was in the first grade. At this point I was a complete fish out of water. I had already been trained, like a good kid, not to celebrate birthdays, or any of their "pagan" holidays, and I'd been given nice pre-digested reasons as to why not. My experience with the church and their inherent judgementalism made it very easy - in fact, I thought it was my duty - to "tattle" on all the other kids as much as I could. I didn't even remember that until an old schoolmate told me that when I was a teenager. Needless to say, this made my life a living hell - even in first grade I didn't fit in. And, to make things worse, my mother would come in to the classroom and help out. I'm not really sure why - I think one of her reasons was to make sure I wasn't filled with "pagan garbage". Or something.
I never recovered from this, as a reputation thing goes. The church never lost its sway on me during my elementary school days. In fact, it got stronger. I remember my brother and I sitting in the backyard playing "church", which would consist of screaming at the top of our lungs "you shall not keep Christmas!", while pounding on the lectern. The other one of us would be sitting on a chair in the "audience", listening. There was a little neighbor lady who thought we were completely whacked out cause of this.
Towards the end of elementary school, 4th to 6th grade, I did make a few neighborhood "friends". Wanna know why I put that in quotes? They didn't want anything to do with me, except my parents told them if they didn't play with me they couldn't play with my brother. So in all honesty the only "friends" I had really didn't want anything to do with me either.
Around the 6th grade or so my parents were having some marital problems. My father was being abusive, as all good church men are, and my mother just didn't want it anymore, so she wanted a divorce. My father found out about it and used every tool at his disposal to stop her, including turning the two of us boys against our mother. He made us hate her by telling lies up the wazzoo... and then stating he wasn't lying and that she was in the wrong for telling us anything about the truth. You know, in retrospect, those are classic Armstrongian tactics.
So eventually they "patched" everything up. My father was disfellowshipped at this point - for his "attitude" and for not having a job. Was his attitude bad? Yes... but the minister, at this point a Mr. Dave Fiedler, was the pastor. He was extremely authoritarian - but a part of the problem here was, again, my father, who decided that he was lord and master over everyone in his household. So they butted heads for six years. All this time my father was feeding me misinformation about both my father and the minister (who was also very much at fault) and being generally an abusive SOB. He and I butted heads very frequently. He'd always win, of course, because that's just the way bastards are.
About this time I was pulled out of school - I was in junior high and my reputation had preceded me. I was one of the five smarted kids in that school - but I had severe problems by then. This was probably the toughest jr. High school in Toledo, and they were trying to kill me. So I was homeschooled from 7th grade until graduation. From the ages of about 12 to 15 I had zero interaction with kids my age. Zero...
I was not attending church, but I decided to rejoin at around 15 because I knew I had zero friends and I was going insane with depression. So I went back, and acted like a bulldozer with the social cliques there. That's not allowed, you know. The "unwritten policy" of the church was openness and "no cliques", so ostensibly they couldn't exclude me, but I wasn't wanted by then and I knew I wasn't. The Worldwide Church of God didn't want me. All of the years of oppression, etc, had taken their toll and I was already too weird to successfully integrate. Not even with the people I was raised to integrate with. So I went to district meets and stuff and tried my hardest to fit in, but I was too much of a loose cannon. They wanted nothing to do with me. I wasn't in the "in" crowd. Believe it or not, most of those kids were not near as badly brainwashed as I was. I think it was because of the influence of their friends. Or maybe just because they had them... dunno...
So, around 17, I went to college. You know, come to think about it, this was THE FIRST TIME I'd ever had any integration with people my age who wanted anything to do with me. They liked me, and I liked them, and I just couldn't deal with it. So I began a period of culture shock. I had no idea what to expect from people my age, I thought they were all evil, wicked sex fiends. It just never crossed my mind that any of them could be decent people. For two years I did nothing but try my hardest to stay away from them and their culture. I was completely incapable of integrating with them on anything more than a completely academic level. I still can't. This is the effect the church had on me.
So eventually the culture shock got to be too much for me and I dropped out. By this time I had stopped attending the church and even the keeping of the laws fell by the wayside because I was just fed up with it. Then I met a young woman my age over the internet, and we became friends, then boy/girlfriend, and I went to Denver to visit her for a couple of weeks - we ended up just being friends and nothing happened. But this was around christmas time, and I went to a pageant at her old high school. The culture shock led to an actual panic attack that lasted for three hours. I just wanted to run. I was 20 years old. It was around this time that I began to realize what a load of bull the Worldwide Church of God had pulled on me. And you know, my parents still blame her for "ruining me". They still blame her...
So then I got a job at an ISP, things were looking up... and I met another woman on the internet, and it turned... well, sexual. I went to meet her, and then I came home, and all sorts of stuff happened, and the point is I'm not sure why I did it... but it was yet again just as much of a culture shock as anything else.
You know what? The culture shock still hasn't gone away. I went to college last quarter. I liked it the first day. The second day I just went bananas. I haven't been the same since. Things really haven't changed, you know? I still subconsciously thought of every single person there as evil sex fiends or whatever, even though consciously I knew that by my definition, I'm one too. I just can't cope with this culture or world or actually anyone else in general. They took that from me the day I was born.
You know how I spend my days? I go to work, I work, I come home. And on weekends I just stay home. I STILL don't want anything to do with "the world", even though consciously I beat myself up for that over and over again because I know it's completely irrational. I wish I could do things people my age do, I wish I could have fun that way, I wish I could just "live". But they trained me too well.
I am a walking legacy of the Worldwide Church of God. Anyone who says that they weren't so bad should just talk to me. They ruined me.
I hope those who run the Worldwide Church of God get wind of this letter. I hope they read it well. And I hope that somewhere deep in those vast expanses where their heart should be, they get a twinge of conscience for having a part in doing damage to myself and hundreds or thousands like me. This is my story - this is the story of a child who was ruined by the narcissistic perverted vision of one man and those lemmings who followed him. And I don't know what the ending is going to be. I just don't know. But maybe a twinge of conscience is too much to ask from those narrow-minded greedy bible-peddlers they call evangelicals.
And you know what? I can "forgive" them. I probably haven't, but I can. But I can never forget. And I don't know whether I could ever look George Kackos, or David Fiedler, or Eugene Noel (who once told me I was too full of myself because I was more intelligent and perspective than most people and knew it), or Joseph Tkach, or Warren Wilson, or any of those people in the eye. Or even my parents. Because I only had one chance at childhood, and they, in true Organized Religion fashion, took it for their own purposes in the name of a possibly nonexistent higher power and shaped and twisted and perverted it until it was useless. And they still have the nerve to say "it's all in the past".
Anyway, thanks for listening. I needed to get that off my chest.
New on 9/27/98:
We have a horror story to tell and will try to be brief. We should have gone to the police with this but the PCG's use of fear as their most powerful weapon kept us from doing that.
Upon joining our "local congregation" some 3 hrs. drive from our home, we became well aware that there were some very strange people in this church. First, an elderly couple who had followed Armstrong for over 40 years always just a "short time" till going to the place of safety. They have rented a pittifully modest home for 35 years, never invested in a pension plan, wouldn"t need it in the place of safety and had no health insurance - divine healing! The old man has had 2 strokes and no money to see a doctor. They are old, poor and sick with no means to care for themselves because they gave over all they had throughout the past 40 years to Armstrong and now the PCG. Very sad!
Now the very dangerous. My husband was appointed area coordinator so we could have a truly local congregation. One of the long time members had a peculiar habit of explicit sexual conversation always involving children, usually the sexual torture and mutilation of children. This conversation was always very graphic and very upsetting to us as the parents of 6 children.
When we approached our regional director about this, his only concern was that no one know anything about it. We had to promise him that we would never mention this to anyone. We did as he asked thinking he would take action regarding this pervert in our midst. Nothing happened.
Upon returning from the Charleston, West Virginia Feast site in 1997, this pervert told our small congregation what he did to a 12 year old girl while at the Feast. He said he finally got to fulfill his every desire and knew he was safe keeping it in the church. We immediately got on to our local minister, a big mistake, who did nothing.
The pedophile would not shut up and the details became frightening. Now his goal was to castrate young boys, even telling us how he would do it. Back to our local minister who reluctantly traveled to us and with my husband went to council this pervert. The advice to this dangerous man was to watch his language and since he was now uncomfortable around my husband, he could go to another congregation. Then the minister wanted my husband to hug the pervert to ease any hard feelings. My husband does not hug men!
The crazy point of all this is the other congregation is filled with young boys, we had no children in our local congregation.
Now the kicker! We wrote all our dismayed feelings to this minister, with copies to regional director and to Mr. Flurry. We were disfellowshipped, marked and personally told we had lost our eternal lives because we were against government.
The pervert continues his evil deeds but as long as he "sucks up" to the ministry, he is fine and is awaiting the call to flee to the place of safety. What a crock!!!!!!!
Please use this letter if you wish, however never reveal our names nor e-mail address for this pervert and other members have an arsenal of guns and would surely use them to help fight the good fight against all of us who have lost our eternal souls.
Everything I have written is the absolute and very painful truth.
New on 11/29/98:
If you want to put this on your webpage with my name, be my guest. I want those Worldwide Church of God lunatics to know what they've really done and if there is a hell or some other equivalent, I hope they burn there slowly.
Okay, I guess the first place to start is at the beginning. I was introduced to the church when I was in 6th grade. My divorced mother was going through a phase, one that we have all gone through, and she was searching for answers. Well, she found the Worldwide Church of God through a friend of hers, and she finally found the "answers" to her questions. She introduced me to her beliefs and I immediately thought she lost her mind. How are you going to tell an 11 year old that from now on, there would be no more Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and birthdays? On top of that, she started forcing me to attend services with her. Big mistake. Forcing religion down my throat turned me away from God, it did not make me want to know him or love him.
Well, as the years went by, I suffered greatly. She did not spare the rod like HWA taught. I got my ass kicked well into my early teens. I had irons thrown at me, beatings with the belt (buckle side), and got hit and kicked often. One time she kicked me so hard that she broke her toe in two places and later required surgery because it didn't heal right. (Hah, hah!) I really wonder what she told the doctors when they asked how she injured herself. I was also grounded regularly and restricted from even the most normal pre-teen and teen activities. Friendships with my schoolmates were strongly discouraged, my favorite radio station was a no-no because the music encouraged "sinful" thoughts, the things I watched on TV were closely monitored, and even at 13 years old, I was banned from rated PG and PG-13 movies by my mother. So, as a young teenager, I was pretty much considered a weirdo by my piers. I had no social life, I dressed funny (remember those lovely clothes from the church's white elephant sales?), I was always crying, and I was always angry, so people generally wanted nothing to do with me. To this day I try to be normal and accepted, but no dice.
My Saturday's were always horrible. I was forced to go to church, no matter how many tears I shed or how many tantrums I threw. I was a Worldwide Church of God parent's worst nightmare. How I envied the attention and love she gave to the other "obedient" church kids. (If only she knew the things they did when their parents weren't around.) I was a thorn in her side, and she never made it a secret. I never felt a whole lot of love from her, I guess because I was so evil and I was "hostile" towards God. That pissed her off immensely.
As time went on, she could no longer control me. My hurt, hate and anger dictated my actions. When I was almost 15, she finally gave up on forcing my to go to church. She couldn't physically intimidate me into going either, because I was almost her size and could easily retaliate if I had to. The speeches and the lectures and the cramming of her beliefs down my throat still happened, but I let it go through one ear and out the other. I always had a rebellious streak, and I let it show sometimes, but most of the time, I tried to suppress it, because I didn't want to be punished. Well, at 15, I no longer hid my rebellion. My goal was to shock my mother and be the complete opposite of what she wanted. I did drugs, had sex, cut school, swore, stayed out all night, ended up in rehab, etc, etc. I wanted attention and I got it, but not the good kind. I slept around for love, but unfortunately, I didn't get anything but a bad reputation. My mind got so messed up. And many of the kids that went to church eventually ended up screwed up as well.
I am almost 24 now and even though I don't feel like a normal person with normal thoughts, I have done okay. I am responsible and independent. My mother has since left Worldwide and joined The Church of God, headed by David Hulme. I don't agree with her beliefs, but I believe she is sincere and I know she is happy. She is also raising my little brother like a loving parent, not a tyrant. I have gotten many apologies from her for her treatment of me in the past. Unfortunately, no "I'm sorry" can erase years of hurt, but I have forgiven her. One thing I haven't let go of is my distrust for organized religion, and unfortunately, I doubt I will ever have much of a relationship with God. I still envision him as being a stern and cruel punisher, not a loving father. I hope I can get that image out of my head.
As I am writing this, I can still remember the mentality of Worldwide Church of God. Those memories are still so vivid. Remember how the fathers would always strut into church with their obedient wives and tons of children in tow? And how the women looked liked corpses because they were so haggard from taking care of their increasing families? God said be fruitful and multiply? If you say so. And the women couldn't even look alive with the help of a little makeup. I remember how it pissed me off that no women were allowed to speak to a congregation. The highest post they could hold was piano player or deaconess. I also remember how respected and feared Mr. Tkach was and how high and mighty HWA was long after he was pushing up daisies. (That man is lower and filthier than the dirt he is buried in.) And who can forget all those annoying little old ladies who were so inspired at the end of the sermon that they enthusiastically thrashed their heads about while practically screaming the lyrics to the ending hymnals? I used to want to die laughing, and I wondered how they could do all that without going into cardiac arrest.
Those are some of the memories I have. Some are funny, some are not. I have kept in touch with some my former church piers. Most of them did not conform to the churches standards after they became adults. Many had children out of wedlock, many got into drugs, some have been married and then divorced soon after, and some of them just turned out weird. All I can say is that the church did more harm than it ever did good, whether it was for the members or for their children.
Sincerely, Linda M.
New on 2/21/99:
What a nice surprise to find this web site where unfortunates like ourselves can share our hellish experiences with the Worldwide Church of God. I spent most of my life in this church and had a lifetime of miserable experiences as a result. My story begins in 1973 when my parents began attending church in Gadsden, AL and were quickly baptized. I was 5 years old at the time. I don't recall my life being particularly miserable before this time. But after about a year of attending, life quickly became unbearable. My father ( who wasn't the greatest person anyway) began drinking heavily and stopped attending. My mother continued to attend and my father would have periods when he would go back, stop, back, etc. This pattern would continue for many years.
As time progressed my father's conduct grew more violent. I remember a Saturday when I was 7 that my father, who wasn't drunk, took a gun outside and went into the woods. When my mother went to investigate, he began shooting at her. She wasn't hit. Then there were the innumerable "fits" my father would throw; these were practically an every day event. Sometimes several a day; always violent, with things being thrown, kicked, and my mother being hit. We kids would scream and cry for him to stop, but to no avail. Eventually, I began asking my mother why didn't she leave. Of course, it was too late for that because she had already been thoroughly brainwashed by the gods of Worldwide Church of God. You know, "divorce under any circumstances is a sin, let God handle it, men are the heads of their women" and so on.
My father was able to be the personification of evil; yet when he decided for whatever self-serving reason that it was time to go back to church for a while, he was welcome with open arms. This was a man who would go off on business trips for 2 or 3 weeks and leave us at home with no money, eating whatever my mother could scrape up. We kids wore rags, or whatever some kind hearted soul would give to us. That is the only way we ever had coats to wear in the winter. Once I got old enough that people didn't really give clothes anymore, I did without a coat. I finally bought my first brand new one when I was in my 20's. This is a man who killed the only friend I had ever really had, my 6 year old English Sheperd whom I had since I was 6 and he was a puppy. He killed him on a Saturday in the front yard in front of myself and my brothers and sisters. For no reason. I cried for 2 weeks over that and still to this day feel horrible that I didn't prevent it. That particular day I had just been sitting out in the yard with that dog talking to him, telling him that he would live forever. I don't know if my father heard me or what. I, like the pathetic little person my parents and the church had already made me into, looked to God for a reason why this had happened. And guess what? I concluded that it must have been God's will. Don't ask me how I ever got enough of a mind of my own to leave that quagmire.
Finally, when I was 13 yr. old, I began to try to do something about our miserable life. My mother had 8 years to do something and had not, so I figured I had to take some kind of action. As usual, this was a Saturday (for some reason my father's worse tirades were always on Saturdays) and my father was doing his normal violent routine. I'm not even sure what the "reason" was this day. He was standing at the kitchen table where there was sitting a ceramic quail. In the midst of his rage he picked up this bird and threw it against the wall, where my 3 year old sister just happened to be sitting in the floor playing. It was all in slow motion; watching this piece of ceramic hit the wall and explode into pieces and then hit my little sister in the head. Then there was blood all over her and the floor. I was sure he had killed her. I just went ballistic and ran to a neighbor lady's house which is something I would never have done before, because good little Worldwide Church of God'ers had to keep this kind of thing to themselves. But I went to her house in hopes that she would help. Anyway to make a very long story short my sister did not die, but she was never the same after that. It took many stitches to close the gash on her head. Finally the truth about my dad was out because that neighbor lady told everyone and I was glad. I thought it meant that finally the ALL POWERFUL MINISTERS would kick my dad permanently out of church and would help my mother make him leave. But that would be the sensible thing, and as we all know the Worldwide Church of God was never about sensibility.
Once so many people knew about my dad, my mother began to feel as if she could go to the ministers for help. She was told that she could do nothing unless she could prove physical abuse. It didn't matter that she had black bruises on her arms from being punched. It didn't matter that he had almost killed my sister. It didn't matter that he had on numerous occasions threatened to kill her. They needed proof. I still don't understand what they meant by that.
Anyway, to try and get to the point here; this all begin to culminate in 1982 when my parents separated. I was happy; but my happiness was short lived when my mother got a backbone and went forward with a divorce against the wishes of the minister. She was suspended from church and my father was allowed to remain. We kids were told that if we wanted to attend church it had to be with our dad, our mother wasn't allowed to take us. I had good reason to refuse, aside from all the years of torture with this man, my father had recently begun barging in on me in the bathroom and my bedroom at the most inappropriate times. It had happened way too many times to have been accidental. I was very ashamed and afraid of what was going on. Although he never touched me in a sexual manner, I am afraid to speculate as to what was going on in his mind.
So when I refused to go anywhere with my father, the minister kicked evil little me out too. It would be a year and a half before I would be allowed back; two years for my mother. Unfortunately, we did not have enough brains to make the most of the situation and allow ourselves to be enlightened by our freedom. No sir, the church was our entire pathetic lives, and we were not going to let anyone keep us out of God's one-and-only TRUE church. Not even corrupt ministers.
Eventually, I did give in to the demands of the minister. Although when I did it was a new minister in a new church, Anniston, AL; he just had the same message as the other one. So with my twisted mind, I started thinking I was letting my dad come between me and God and his church. That's when I began attending with my dad. Fortunately, that did not last long because my dad could not stand to be around my brothers, sisters and me. Eventually, my mother was allowed back too. She still thinks of the man who let her attend again as some kind of god. My father quit attending altogether shortly after this because he married one of the women with whom he had been having an affair.
So anyway my life in this church of fools continued until 1993 when together with my husband at the time I left the church. For myself, church was becoming increasingly dull, unchallenging, monotonous, and pointless. I began recognizing that my attitude was much better on the days I didn't attend because of sickness or bad weather. It was so nice not having to listen to the same old cookie-cutter sermons I had been hearing for years; especially when I was beginning to think I knew more about the Bible than those ministers did. The Feast had become a total waste of money and time; and the endless sermons were useless. I was also noticing that it seemed as if there was a standard "give your money" sermonette on offering days. I was tired of trying to make conversation with people I felt couldn't care less about me. I had only a few friends in the church at any one time, throughout my life. And there was a long time when I had none at all.
This, along with my own ignorance, led to my marrying a man I never should have. I thought he was amazing because he could talk about "spiritual things", my mother had kept me so sheltered that I had not dated many men before my husband. She would not allow me to date until I was baptized, which happened when I was 21. Unfortunately, I was never rebellious toward her, until my later 20's when I finally got my own brain. One of my sisters, who was always rebellious (and whom my mother labeled as demon possessed because of it) left home and the church to get married at the age of 19. By this time my mother had remarried. Between my mother and her husband, life was unbearable for my sister.
My youngest sister left the church for awhile; but for a reason which I will never understand, she is attending the United Church of God along with my oldest brother; this is also the church my mother now attends. I guess some people never learn anything.
Now, after years of struggling, my life has stabilized somewhat. I am now remarried to a man who has never attended any church. At the age of 31, I feel that I am still looking for my identity. I know that sounds very cliche, but it is true. Thanks to the church, I never pursued a career that would be profitable and fulfilling for me. I got a teaching degree because it seemed like a good job for a little church wife. I taught for a short time before and after my first marriage and hated it. My real loves were dancing and animals, which of course I couldn't pursue because I figured the church would find something sinful about being a dancer- plus I figured it would require a lot of Sabbath work. As for working with animals as a veterinarian; I never figured that was an option either, for whatever reason. I guess I am whining now; please excuse me. I'm sure there are many other young people with similar stories to tell. At least my life did turn out decent once I broke free of all that restricted me: the church, my parents, my ex husband. Now I work for myself doing options day trading. It suits me because I don't have anyone to boss me around but myself.
As far as church, I attended many different denominations in the first year after I left Worldwide Church of God. It didn't take long to see that in their own ways, they are all very much cults. I don't know if I believe in God, though I certainly don't discount the idea. I have learned to be open to many concepts, because this is the only way to learn. I guess I would consider myself a hopeful agnostic. I would love to think that our lives amount to more than just that. I have a real problem with the idea that we live and die; some suffer, while others live lives of plenty and happiness, and that in the end it is all the same. That none of it mattered. I feel every day as if time is so short; I always feel pressured to hurry up and find out what life is all about, while at the same time trying to enjoy what I have and the time I have. Maybe this is common for people who feel they wasted so many years of their lives being deceived.
Thank you for letting me write to you and thank you so much for this web site.
Anita Smith Bean.
I just am so relieved to find a site exposing the Worldwide Church of God and it's many branches for what it really is! It is a money grubbing, life sucking cult that is still existing by inflicting fear into the minds of the miserable souls that are members today.
I am 26 and unfortunately was born into the cult. I too lived in fear my entire church life. I remember praying for 3 hours when I was 6 years old because me and a school friend put on makeup and I thought I was going to be put in a stew pot by the Germans when the world ended if I didn't repent of the sin of wearing makeup. I too recall the Nazi like treatment at camp Orr. I remember being told to call the Ac students MR. or Miss when they were only a year or two older than myself. I didn't obey that rule by the way.
I remember being treated like shit by Kermit Nelsons wife in the camp kitchen. You know a church is bad when you are sitting there in services thinking of ways to harm the people that are doing you wrong. I am still haunted by the memories of that cult. I could go on and on but my sister wrote in and she pretty much tells all. I just wanted to let off some steam. I am currently not attending any church. I never will again. I find peace in animals and nature.
The opportunities that I had in school I will never forgive the church for. It was a "sin" to participate in worldly activities or on Friday nights. I will never forget having to go without food when I was 6 just because the church said children need to learn to fast. ON and on and on.
I hope to see some familiar names on this site. I feel a little better now.
Thanks for your message. It looks like you don't mind if your name is used so that is what I will do unless you tell me otherwise.
My sympathy for all you went through.
One of my youngest son's best YOU friends commited suicide this past week and they buried him today. 22 years old. What a shame. I wonder what the percentage of suicides are for YOU former members and how they compare with "the world". Of course, the wcg would think that its past beliefs and teachings had nothing to do with these things. They screw people up with their teachings and then throw them away while they move on with their new-found beliefs. Ain't Christianity, Worldwide Church of God style, wonderful? You will know them by their fruits.
Apologize for MAKING my parents divorce.
Apologize for the sermons empowering men to be the absolute "head" of the house. For telling my father it was his duty to make his wife SUBMIT to him causing him to become unbearable to live with. For telling my father he needed to SPANK her "like she was child" because she refused to become friends with the minister's wives.
When my mom filed assault charges and my father spent the night in jail the ministers dropped him like a hot potato (can you imagine the black mark that would be put on them if word got out to Headquarters (I hate that word to this day)? Then for actually calling my father back to tell him how they could get back at her for the embarrassment , they suggested to get a divorce and they would "make sure" that my father got custody of the children (there were 4 of us, age 6 14).
I remember vividly going to court and being told to sign a paper, by a minister in a closed room, affirming (swearing would be bad) that my mother was not "emotionally sound" to raise her children. He even held the pen in my 6 year-old brother's hand for him to sign the paper because he was so young.
My father was given a job at Headquarters (there's that word again) soon after. We all moved to California 2 weeks later.
My mother, however, had the privilege of checking into a mental hospital. I would like an apology for that.
-Please withhold my name or e-mail address.
New on 3/2/99:
Although I believe my involvement with the church caused me tremendous emotional pain and suffering, I don't feel like many of the minister's I dealt with personally, necessarily did anything on purpose. They were completely incompetent in dealing with emotional, physiological and mental conditions. They had absolutely no training or business dealing with these important subjects. Keeping members away from trained, qualified professionals was a grievous act of self righteousness that extracted untold pain on many sincere people trying to please God.
Under the mantra of obeying God, I was personally told by several ministers to not interfere with my husband's abuse of our children because he would have to answer to God and I was supposeD to answer to him. One minister went so far as to tell me I was wrong to interfere with my husband choking my 10 year old son. That I was suggesting motives and that was Satanic. My husband is choking our son and I'm the one being called Satanic. The abuse was never reported to authorities as was legally required by the state for anyone who counseled people. All three of our area ministers knew it was going on, but my husband, as most abusers, was a great manipulator and could sweet talk the ministers into believing anything.
I could write books on all the things that happenED to us. I was told to give all my money to my husband, even though he was not providing for the kids. I was told to be submissive to the point of being ridiculous so I would be without sin before God. These were ministers I was going to in desperation for help out of a horrible life. If I had not had the heavy hand of the church telling me marriage was forever and encouraging me to obey God by staying, I would have had the strength to get out of it. Several times I did leave my husband, only to be told by the ministry I was the one sinning. I was trapped beyond despair. I was so "religious" I didn't want to do anything to risk not being in God's kingdom. So I stayed and watched my children and sometimes me, suffer at the hands of an abuser. All the while he was being encouraged to be the leader, reinforcing his feelings that he was right. The three ministers involved most in our situation over the years, was Randy Dick, Allen Bullock, Ross Flynn (by far the worst), and Arnold Clauson.
Mr. Gerald Flurry (of O.K.C before he broke away) told me to stop my relationship with my mother because she had been put out of the church for smoking and was not to be communicated with. She had been a member of the church for 20 years. When she died a few years later, not one person from the Worldwide Church of God came to her funeral. She had given all she had to the church, been devoted to it for all of my life, gotten caught up in the D&R mess and left her husband and stayed loyal to Mr. Armstrong until the day she died. Yet no one even noticed she was gone. We had to go to a Baptist church to have her funeral. This was a member of the Worldwide Church of God and we had to bury her in a Baptist church. This wonderful congregation (the Baptists) not only provided for the funeral meal, but raised $800.00 to help with the costs. Worldwide Church of God didn't lift a single finger and between my mother, husband and me, we had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. It will required God's direct intervention for me to ever forgive them for what they did to my mother. She died lonely and defeated. It didn't matter to them that she had overcome a lifetime of drinking and had been sober for nearly 15 years. All they could focus on was her smoking. Self-righteously they left her to die alone with the fear she would not be in God's kingdom.
One time when I was trying to leave my husband, he secretly tape recorded all of mine and my kids phone conversations. This was illegal in Dallas, but the ministers not only supported it, they used the tape of my teenage daughter talking to a girlfriend, to throw her out of the church because she went dancing on a Friday night. When she needed the support of the church the most, they kicked her out. And they would not have known about her going out on a Friday night, if my husband had not illegally taped and then given the tape to the minister. My husband was not even "corrected" for this illegal, harmful and hurtful act.
At another time my husband planned on throwing me out of the house, file for divorce and kept my 2 year old son from me. (Remember he is the abuser) The very day he did this horrible thing, he had outlined it all to Mr.. Bullock before I had a scheduled visit with him. He never once alerted me to what was about to happen, knowing my husband was kidnapping my son and changing the locks on our doors. Later Mr.. Bullock said he didn't tell me because it was clear to him I planned on leaving my husband, which was against God's laws, and that my husband had the right to protect himself.
I had to sell everything I had to come up with the money to hire a lawyer to get the rights to see my son. And there were no charges against me in any way, either legally or religiously. Mr. Bullock couldn't come up with anything I had done wrong, expect that I was planning on leaving my husband. My husband locked my baby son away from me for two weeks, with the full support of the church ( he was attending every service) until we finally got to court. To make a very long story shorter, I won everything in court. The judge was outraged at my husband's behavior, etc.. and was ordered to turn over my son that night. However, the damage to my child was done. He is 10 now, but he still remembers being locked in a closet to keep him away from me. All of this horrible, unchristian evil, with the full knowledge and support of the church.
My older son also suffered at the hands of ministers. No matter how much my son complained that his step dad was being mean to him, they always supported my husband. He called my 8 year old daughter a slut and the minister never did anything about it.
I now know I was in the victim mode and there are many things I personally should have done. I blame myself for allowing anyone to have control over my life, especially a church full of self-righteous, self serving, control-freak men. I should have been strong enough to protect my kids. I will never forgive myself for what I let my kids suffer in the name of God. But we were trained to believe we should be willing to give up our children if necessary to obey God. Like Abram. There were so many misguided fools. I, the biggest of all.
My children are all grown now, but they still suffer from the scars of my involvement with Worldwide Church of God. And even with all the knowledge I have now, even knowing it was just a cult built by a sick man, in the deepest part of my soul lays a fear of being rejected by God. They planted and nourished that fear and it will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. I truly loved God with my whole being and gave everything to serve him the way I had been trained. Most dear of the gifts were my children. The costs have been immeasurable.
There are so many other stories, I don't know if I could ever recount them all. Not only mine, but many of the people I knew then. It would take hours to cover all the stuff fully.
If there ever is a suit, I have plenty of damages and proof of their complete incompetence. I wish they could be disbanded so they wouldn't hurt anyone else. Their new-found changes are just a cover up for all that they did wrong. If they were truly sorry for all the unbelievable hurt and pain caused at their hands, they'd close the church down themselves.
Thanks for listening. My life is completely different now and I'm finally healthy. I'm a psychology major in college and plan to make it a profession some day.
New on 9/8/99:
How Bad Was It, Really?
I know not whether you want to post this or not, seems like its just me whining. . . but perhaps you will see more in it *smiles* Thank you so much for creating this page it has been a Haven to me and many others :o)
The things I remember the most in how Worldwide Church of God effected my family and friends is when my best friend's teenage brother was hours from dying from pneumonia. He had been getting worse for weeks and all that her parents would allow was for him to be anointed by the minister, because if it was God's will to take him then so be it. At what they thought to be the end for him, they did end up taking him to the hospital to die. He stayed there for weeks till he actually recovered from what the church proclaimed to be God's will and an answer to our prayers.
Aside from that, I remember my Worldwide Church of God friends waking in the night screaming of nightmares of the "end time coming" This because we had heard in a sermon that all things that we took with us from this world would turn to dust in the place of safety. The dreams consisted of love ones and pets turning to dust or horrible deaths as we were taken to the place of safety.
As for me, I grew up excluded from society, having my only friends be in the church. Being home-schooled so that I wouldn't be tainted from out side "sinners". Being "protected from these sinners" inside this safe church, I was raped and frequently abused from the age of 6 by deacons, ministers and members,. I didn't realize these acts were wrong until someone outside of the church raped me in my later teenage years. Then it occurred to me that how could "holy men of God" do the same as a outsider sinner?
I withdrew and blocked most of the memories of the abuse until I left the church in '96.
Then upon leaving Worldwide Church of God scattered memories came flooding back to me. At first I thought I was crazy but upon my closest girlfriend calling me one day in tears telling me about her past abuse in the church, I realized I wasn't the only one. That this was a regular thing with almost over half of my friends in the church. They had experienced similar childhood experiences.
At this point of my life I'm not bitter nor angry much any more towards the church. I do sometimes regret the childhood I lost but am healing each and every day.. I still can't seem to step inside a church or say the word "God" out loud with out a cold feeling come over me. But hey its progress.
My heart goes out to all of you who have suffered trials linked with the church. You are all in my thoughts, wishing you peace and love.
PS. Thank you so much for this site. It is a GREAT relief to see others express their personal experiences.
This is certainly not meant to be a "complaint-fest" on my part, but it has been weighing heavily on my mind lately.
I do not understand why so many members of the ministry swept under the carpet the fact that I was being physically, sexually and emotionally abused for almost ten years by my step-father.
My mother went to the ministers repeatedly pleading for help, but all she got in return was that she was the evil one that was allowing Satan to work with her mind.
She was so afraid of being "put out of the church" that she stayed with the man at my brother's and my expense (I think that is why she stayed).
Is it possible that they were really unaware that the abuse was going on in spite of our pleas?.. In spite of the fact that my stepfather molested at least one of my other friends that attended our church?
The reason I can't believe this is that there was one associate pastor that truly believed me after his attempts to stifle what I was telling him. Even though he believed, no support came from the pastor. Iit was only hatred and ridicule of my mother, brother and me.
We were the ones being beaten down every day of our life, and it was certainly not helpful to have the ministry add to that when they should have been there to help.
You need not do anything with this message if you don't want to. It is just a good outlet for me at this time since my family is in such denial.
Thanks for your time.
New on 9/10/99:
In reading the many, many sad recountings of people whose childhood was spent (literally) in the Worldwide Church of God, I believe a great deal of the problem was that teaching us subordinate ourselves to the ministry also left us venerable to anyone else with a dominant personality.
I had girl friends who had been routinely molested by an active (read: "very active") member of the "church". He would offer to take the girls on "nature walks" during which he would threaten horrible things if they told their parents that he was forcing them to perform oral sex on him, and forcing them to "offer" themselves to him in the same manner.
They would resist his offers of nature walks after which they were sternly lectured by their parents to be respectful and obedient to all adults in the church. So, in their obedience to adults, they became perfect little victims until one of them finally balked and literally told him to take a hike.
In their case, the parents were convinced not to prosecute because it would make the church "look bad." The toll that this took on the family was immense! Curtailing their father's natural instinct to protect his family had an emasculating effect that was incalculable. In our sincere desire to "protect the church" some us became cowards, immobilized by guilt, shame, helplessness and profoundly conflicted feelings.
How does one present their prize daughters as "damaged goods" to the sons of "better" church families? The shame, humiliation, and psychological damage to all parties is with us to this day.
And the "active" member? Well, he tried the same stunt with the daughter of someone NOT in the church, and HER parents had his ass hauled off to prison where he belonged!
I guess her parents need to learn a thing or two about true Christianity. They were so vindictive, they couldn't bear to see one more victim to this man's credit. They probably didn't understand the concept of forgiveness thoroughly enough to take it to God on their knees, so they took it to court after which he spent years in prison. On one hand, my friend was so relieved to see this fellow put in prison, and on the other so sad that the injury done to her was not enough to merit punishment or rebuke of any kind from her parents or the church.
Amazingly enough, this man was so confident in our system of doing things that he actually asked my friend in letters to marry him after he got out of prison based on the fact that they already had carnal knowledge of one another and she was now old enough to marry. She trembled as she read his letter to me between the sobs. And speaking of S.O.B.s, he reminded her that Boaz had taken a young bride, and it could be very fulfilling to be married to a much (MUCH) older man. I don't remember who, but someone finally did summon the testosterone to tell this lunatic to keep his distance.
If there is a moral to this story perhaps it would be, "Don't be a Putz!" Listen to your instincts, listen to your mate, and listen to your children before you listen to some self-serving idiot minister who has a financial interest in maintaining decent and orderly appearances for his salaries' sake. It's okay to ask a woman or child, "WHY do you feel that way?"
Remember, we were told CONSTANTLY to avoid the appearance of evil, but we were NEVER told to avoid evil's appearance.
For love of the injured,
As a sophomore in high school, I found myself one day during lunch to have an annoying ringing sensation in my ear. By the evening, the ringing was a crackling sensation that had spread to the entire left side of my body. I had difficulty sleeping and woke my parents. In the morning I could hardly walk, as the left side of my body was numb. My parents took me to the hospital, and some tests were taken by a neurologist. My examination results were normal. The sensation continued and worsened for 2 days, causing further numbness, and no one was able to provide a physiological explanation for the condition. I remained in the hospital until I was able to resume normal bodily functions (I was unable to urinate through means other than through a catheter). My condition finally improved and I was discharge after the 3rd day. I missed a week of school because of the occurrence.
The day I had been admitted to the hospital, my parents (at my request) called Mr. H. to anoint me. He arrived and started asking me questions . . . had I been doing anything unusual that would have caused this to happen (as a punishment). I still remember a line of Mr. H's prayer: "God, please forgive (name withheld) for all sins that she committed that caused her illness." This prayer saddened and angered my parents. I was unable to hear most of it and was weak at the time.
Until this point in my church "career," I had always been the good, exemplary teen who strove for quality (I played classical piano music on a regular basis for special music). I attended every church service, bible study, social event, etc. But this illness prevented me from attending a church service, as I was in the hospital. Many people made remarks about my "skipping" a service the next week.
My physician believed that the illness was really a psychological reaction to intense pressure and stress (he spoke to me privately, in absence of my parents. I indicated that between my schoolwork (I was taking many advanced courses), my piano lessons and practice time, church activities, and expectations of performing for special music and choir that I was out of energy. I also told the physician that there were many conflicting expectations I had to worry about being both successful academically and active in the church. I was referred to a psychologist, who advised me to decide which activities I should devote less time to in my schedule. He indicated that the reaction was likely to recur if I didn't adjust my habits. I decided that I would stop playing piano temporarily and focus on my academic work.
As soon as church members and the minister found out that I made the decision to stop playing piano, there were many selfish responses that bombarded me. The minister advised me to continue to put the church and God first in my life. Many members asked me about the piano rather than how I was feeling, for weeks after the illness.
And one ninety-year-old, wheel-chair-ridden woman, who allegedly loved young people, wrote me a 6-7 page handwritten letter that arrived in the mail. The indications were that she herself always has to be on the look-out for "Satan's wiles" and that I should not submit to them either. Satan clearly wanted me to stop playing the piano. Satan had caused the illness. Satan was beginning to eat me alive. I was losing the innocence I once had. I should immediately resume playing the piano. I should "not throw my god-given gift away." This letter frightened me and made me cry. My mother provided some support by saying that she "meant well in writing it." I was resolved to contact this woman and ask her never again to write such a letter anyone. The next Sabbath, it was announced that she had died in her sleep during the week.
Ed, the reason I started to feel I had to leave the church was primarily to stop seeing the members and hearing their unrealistic expectations of me. I was genuinely trying to avoid a good percentage of the members by the time I stopped attending.
This "illness" or psychological reaction occurred the following year in the fall, shortly after the Feast of Tabernacles. I was unable to keep up with my courses after returning to school. My grades became "C's" instead of "A's". I was overburdened with work and the demands of the Church. I lost another week of school because of the illness. I told my mother that I was thinking of possibly "ending it all." I told her that school work seemed unimportant to the Church and that I didn't care about it any more. I told her I couldn't stand facing people that were judging me. She became very alarmed. I had to see my school guidance counselor for counseling as a result.
During this period my parents were constantly arguing about the Church. My mother was thoroughly convinced that it was having a bad influence on the family, including me. My father was still deeply fearful of abandoning his faith in the Worldwide Church of God. I think most of my psychological turmoil was caused by the spiritual uncertainty and the tumult in my parents' marriage.
Ed, I finally stopped attending the Worldwide Church of God when I left for college in fall 1990. I have made a steady recovery since then. Many people probably believe by now that I was swallowed up whole by Satan and his army of demons. Many people believe I threw away God's gifts, that I shirked my responsibility of serving the church.
I never regretted my decision, and this illness has never recurred since.
Click here for Page One,
Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.
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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.
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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.
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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.
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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.
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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.
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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.
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