Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
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11-09-2018, 03:01 PM
Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
Warning: I'm talking about sexual assault and psychological child abuse here so if that kind of thing is something you can't handle, you might want to skip this one.

So I am having what we in the church call a "crisis of faith". I still attend the Methodist church (it's complicated) and go to a weekly bible study at a different church with a friend, mostly for the people and conversation. It was during this class on Thursday night where the leader brought up that maddening concept that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan in everything. Then she challenged us to think through our lives and try to find a single situation where we couldn't see God's hand or God's plan, I don't remember how she worded it exactly because I've basically been in a seething ball of rage and emotional upheaval since then just going over and over what happened to my family and how utterly fucked up it was and still is. Sorry, can I say 'fuck' in here?

I grew up in the Christian church...that's an actual denomination, not just the religion. It's a very liberal church from what I now understand, and this one in particular had been founded by hippies with social activist roots and it was awesome. By the time my sisters were adopted, my parents decided to switch to the Methodist church, which is Liberal Christianity Except Without The Hippies. The youth program was involved, there were a lot of kids there and there was something for everyone. It was great. Then just after my sophomore year of high school, we moved three hours away to a very small town where the education system was twenty years behind...actually most of the town was twenty years behind. Women were very much second class, education was sub-par, and the social norms were still stuck in the 60's somewhere. I spent my last two years of high school doing independent study, as there were literally no classes I hadn't already taken. (Don't even get me started on the sex ed because that's a whole different rant) It was chaotic, but I'm an introvert anyway so it took the strongest toll on my sisters. I have two sisters a few years younger than me...twins. They'd always been the "good" girls who got good grades, met nice boys, and generally seen as the perfect products of a godly upbringing.

This place stifled them....and as it happens quite frequently in small towns with nothing to do, they fell in with a crowd of teenage hellraisers. Sneaking out at night to go drag racing down main street and having sex in the bushes, contraband Ritalin, all that stuff that parents react to with horror when they've never been exposed to REAL problems. When we moved back, unfortunately the hell raising didn't stop. It did a number on my mother, who in her self flagellation of "where-did-I-go-wrong" started going to and then insisting we ALL go to a new fundamentalist Megachurch with a charismatic preacher who railed against sex, drugs, video games, TV, holding hands, rock music, Halloween, and everything else on Jack Chick's checklist. All three of us balked. Naturally the solution to this was...more immersion.

My sisters were enrolled in church sponsored sports. Both were privately coached. My 'youngest' sister became pregnant by a classmate and was yanked out of school to finish high school at a private facility where no one would have to look at her disgracing the family name. I was busily being completely overwhelmed by college because I had done almost no serious studying for the last two years and getting back into an educational environment was screwing with my head. The house my parents had just built had a foundation problem and cracks in the basement wall and it'd flood every time it rained. The cat died. Grandpa had a heart attack and landed in the hospital. And in the midst of all this chaos, my other sister reveals that she was having a sexual relationship with her married coach and didn't know what to do.

She was fifteen. He was 48. I believe they call that "statutory rape" in the legal circles, as well as child abuse and abuse of authority, etc etc. My parents decided not to file a police report....because the coach's day job was, I'm not kidding, a police officer. As far as I know, he never faced ANY consequences, at least not legal ones. I don't know if his wife or his kids ever found out. My god-fearing parents turned on my sister and instead of getting her counseling or....I dunno...asking her if she was okay...they hauled her off to a Christian girls home and left her there. We did not see her for two and a half years.

She was not allowed to use the phone, to talk to any of the other girls there, or speak to either of the male staff. She was labelled a homewrecker, a jezebel, and a whore. Every day. For over two years. They attended a pentacostal church led by the home owner's elder son and the entire congregation knew exactly which girls were guilty of which sin. She spent her last year of high school surrounded by people she didn't know, away from family and friends, and trapped in a culture of judgmental silence. This has utterly destroyed her.

It's been twenty years and she won't come to my parents house for birthdays, holidays, gatherings...without drinking or smoking 'something' first. They're not welcome at her house. She has problems with drinking but thankfully not to the point that it's stopped her from having a successful career as a surgeon's assistant. But I can't help thinking how much further she could have gone if this hadn't happened. Would she be the one holding the scalpel? I don't know. She won't talk to our parents on the phone and won't set foot in a church. She broke the unspoken 11th Commandment of Southern White Families (Thou Shalt Not Date A Black Man) and has formed her own separate family that my parents are no longer a part of. It still hurts and I'm still angry.

I guess the thing that enrages me the most is that this veil of faith has made it all but impossible for my parents to apologize or even acknowledge that they screwed up big time. They're so insulated against anything outside of their faith that they can't even see how deep the wounds really go. My other sister has left the church as well, had another kid (whom the parents absolutely adore, and I don't....the hypocrisy there just makes my teeth hurt and I won't go into it) and I go from being secular to agnostic to atheist to Methodist to Just Plain Pissed Off on a daily basis. This question that my friend posed on Thursday has dug all this up again and it's all I can do not to pick up the phone, call her, and unload both barrels.

If she is right, if God does EVERYTHING for a reason and there is a plan behind everything that ever happens to us, then I can't come to any conclusion other than such a god is evil and I want nothing to do with it.
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11-09-2018, 03:34 PM
RE: Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
At the risk of sounding like I'm jumping onboard the #metoo movement----I was nine. He was the father of a neighborhood friend. She helped him recruit and groom his victims. Looking back it was probably an effort to deflect his attention from her.

He would be in his eighties now and as far as I know he never had to pay for his crimes. I live with it by picturing him as old, decrepit, wheelchair bound and too far gone in the head to even remember what he's done. Alternatively I picture him all of the above except fully able to remember and be tormented by his own evil past. I was over fifty before I shared the secret of that abuse with anyone. Secrets kept own the person keeping the secret. In telling it, we start to own IT. Each telling of it makes me more free of it.

Divine plan? Happens for a reason? BULLSHIT (and by the way, yes you can say fuck here)! It's all chaos of nature and man's doings/decisions.

How much does your friend know about your family history? If she knows everything you just told us here, then I'd be of an opinion that this is one friend you'd be better off losing. If she's in the dark then you can't really justify getting mad at her for posing the question. And if you share all this with her, you may just find yourself with a friend who starts questioning her own religious beliefs. There is no such thing as a god who is all-knowing, all-good, and all-loving and still allow such atrocities----so many of which even occur in "his" houses. Bullmotherfuckingshit.

I've just about come to the conclusion that people who cling to their "faith" beyond all reason (like your parents) are suffering from a mental illness that has not yet been assigned a DSM-IV code. I don't blame any of you for distancing yourselves from them. They are toxic. I don't understand why your sister would even go to their home under any circumstances. I would be worried about any children (related or otherwise) who are allowed to be in their care, even for a short time. Like, even the amount of time it would take for their parent to just go to the bathroom. They sound like they've proven themselves to have poor parenting skills. That's putting it as nicely as I can.

You posed the question of where your sister would be, career-wise, if she had not been subjected to this abuse. I wonder that too. I believe that childhood sexual abuse profoundly affects who we were meant to be.

You sound well-adjusted, compassionate and intelligent, despite your childhood. Please be careful not to let them screw up your adulthood.

Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?
"Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know." ~ Morticia Addams

"You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." Robin Williams
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11-09-2018, 04:09 PM
RE: Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
(11-09-2018 03:01 PM)Mimzytoo Wrote:  If she is right, if God does EVERYTHING for a reason and there is a plan behind everything that ever happens to us, then I can't come to any conclusion other than such a god is evil and I want nothing to do with it.

You said a mouthful, and I am sorry for all your troubles. Religion does that to people. The power of "belief" can be so strong that it blinds people to what the reality actually is.

As a lifelong atheist, I spent my time actually researching and learning about belief systems such as the one you were exposed to. Here at our forum you will find that many of the atheists here actually know more about the bible than any clergyman could ever hope to know. If you stick around, you will find some of the most educated people you will ever meet right here at this forum.

We are atheists for the simple reason that there has never been one single successful attempt by anyone in history to prove the existence of any supernatural entity regarded as being some kind of a god. Therefore, we conclude that no such god exists. We don't even say that god is evil because from our point of view how can something be evil if it doesn't exist?

You are a victim. A victim of religious indoctrination. The path ahead of you to escape that indoctrination will be a rocky road indeed, but if you train yourself to think rationally and employ your reasoning abilities, you will come to the same conclusion that we have all come to; that God does not exist.

Fear will be your enemy. If you conquer your fear of "going to hell" that will be your greatest accomplishment. This is the common fear that people who leave religion have to deal with. We can help you there.

Welcome to our forum.

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11-09-2018, 05:30 PM
RE: Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
Edit: I forgot to add some points.

1.) She did come out of that place totally brainwashed for a few years. She kept up the Pentecostal church for a few years until she finally had her "this is fucked up" moment. That place tortured her mentally until she believed it hook line and sinker that she was going to hell for the terrible crime of being a stupid kid that some asshole with considerable authority over her groomed her into an abusive, illegal, immoral relationship that was her own damn fault for tempting him into.

2.) Yeah, the bit about my mom and her "upholding the family name" extended into not filing a police report because not only was being repeatedly abused like that my sister's own damn fault, doing so would drag the family name through the mud, not to mention "ruin this man's life" via public exposure.

3.) My dad still hasn't forgiven her for that. We had a conversation five or six years ago I think wherein he told me that, but he was working his way around to it. Because as well all know, the Bible clearly states that we should hold grudges for years and parental love is unconditional except when it isn't and it's totally okay to judge people and/or throw rocks at them. Nice parenting.

4.) Sorry, I'm still stuck on the "blame the woman" bit. Girls get indoctrinated from day one into this mentality that we should save ourselves for marriage, and some even go the whole 'promise thing' route (which is creepy as fuck, by the way it's basically an engagement ring to your own dad until another man comes along and then you give it to him as this weird sort of receipt/declaration of purity) The schools taught and still teach sex ed classes on the 'abstinence only' BS that give teenagers no useful information, and the church-taught sex ed classes taught me was a profound sense of "What the Actual Fuck Am I Doing" during a lively session of "Genitalia Pictionary"

At the same time they're teaching us all that, they're also telling us (le females) that we should date men who value us for our personalities, not our looks or our bodies, because those are the Good Men. Our looks and bodies don't matter, it's the intellectual soul that a Good Man will be attracted to.

Unless we have sex outside of marriage and then suddenly our looks and bodies are way more valuable than our intellectual souls because we are like a stick of gum: Men love and deserve sticks of gum that they alone take the wrapper off of and chew - and by the way we need to watch out for that because men simply cannot help cramming as many pieces of gum into their mouths as humanly possible for it is their nature- and if we let a man chew our virginal Juicy Fruit and then spit it out, the only man we now belong to is the garbage man, because what Good Man wants a piece of gum that someone else has already chewed on?

That....is seriously fucked up. There's no provision in that for rape survivors or abused children. They're nothing but chewed gum and go straight into the trash bin and then everybody's all surprised that 3/4 of rape victims never go to the police.

Also, re: the rape victims it was also a woman's job to "Don't be that girl!" If you go to a party and a random dude bro offers you a drink, don't drink it because it's probably roofied and we're going to wake up naked, pregnant, and riddled with AIDS from the entire football team. "Don't let it happen to you!" I'm sorry, but that reeks very strongly of "Make sure it happens to a different girl!" Don't accept that drink, let him give it to someone else Never once, in all of that, did I ever hear the boys addressed with "Don't fucking rape people."

Ugh.
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11-09-2018, 06:38 PM
RE: Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
I'm finding it difficult to disagree with you on any point Mimsy, even if I wanted to. The best defense that I can offer your parents is that they were the product of brainwashing too and that's a pretty poor excuse. They're a litany of imbecilic decisions based on faith, victim blaming, making a bad situation worse in the worst possible way... Hell, you know their rap sheet better than I do. That coach should have been arrested a flung into jail. The fact that he was a policeman makes it worse! This is what faith-based child raising looks like.

The whole "God has a Plan" tripe is their way of trying to justify anything and everything. The truly lovely thing about it is that it's a double-edged sword that anybody can wield.

Feeling pissed off at the church and your family for years of criminally bad decisions, neglect, and child abuse? That's part of God's Plan! Go ahead and tear them a new one. Make sure they know it was part of God's Plan.

Feel like hollering "Fuck!" at the top of your lungs? Go for it. Cursing like a sailor must be part of God's Plan too. By the quivering tits of the unfucked mother of Christ this is one piss-poor plan, but who are we to question Divinity? Did you laugh sinfully at that? God's Plan.

If this is all part of God's plan then why is anybody going to hell for being a sinner the way God wants them to? It isn't my fault that I don't believe that He rented himself cheap for the weekend Jesus Christ died for my sins. That's clearly part of God's Plan and I'm pretty sure it'd be wrong for me to go thwarting God and whatnot.

If they can use it to justify any act, no matter how morally backward and absurd then so can you. At the end of the day that just goes to show how utterly useless it is for explaining anything. Piss poor excuse for theology.

I'm very glad you didn't take suffer the worst of your parents mistakes directly. You should still consider seeing a counselor. You don't want that messing with your head any more than it has.

Other than that the best thing you can do is to be there for your sisters. They're the victims and they're the ones who'll need you most. I'm fairly impressed with the way that they've managed to outgrow the worst of the religious conditioning.

There's little point in trying to change your parents. They're so invested in their religion that they'll just keep doubling down from bad to worse. That might change eventually but I wouldn't be holding my breath.

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Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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11-09-2018, 07:23 PM (This post was last modified: 11-09-2018 07:57 PM by HU.Junyuan.)
RE: Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
Satan is created for a purposeful reason. Look at all the coal being wasted there! Hasn't a power engineer ever gone to hell? We should have had free energy already a long time ago, yet we are still paying our electricity bills! [Sarcasm]

Our ancestors frabricated religions to manage their emotions: to provide (false) hope, to overcome fear (blindly), to channel anger, saddness and frustration, and above all to maintain the happiness in their hearts (which some Catholic priests always attempt to find in a paedophilic way).

The wilderness had been too dangerous, so there was Yahweh. A god throwing meteors around had not been very amenable, so there was Jesus. 2018 years after that, we should have gotten some awesome upgrades and replacements already.

Such I do have. Here's my testimony:

(1) Meditation and physical exercise. The brain often behaves like a muscle, and the muscles sometimes think better than the brian.
(2) Human contact and communication, sometimes preferably touch (nothing weird though, just hand shaking, a pat on the shoulder and things alike). Don't need to very sophisticated in degree, yet should be administered regularly in sufficient dosages.
(3) An joint endeavor with like-minded people. It gives you a so-called sense of mission.

Want something? Then do something.
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11-09-2018, 07:35 PM
RE: Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
The entire Christian religions survives because everyone must be brainwashed and completely convinced into believing that they were born bad, evil, horrible, unworthy, miserable sinners and the only possible antidote, the only way out of this problem is Jesus. Furthermore, if they don't accept Jesus they're threatened with eternal hell. This is extortion, it's how the Mafia works. "Pay up to the Godfather or you'll end up in the East River swimming with the fishes."

This is the most vile religion on earth. Babies are NOT born sinful because of some dumb story in a mythical book about a talking snake and a magical tree. No court in the civilized world would condemn and jail the ancestors of say, Stalin or Genghis Khan for the many people they killed. But Christianity sure does. It blames everyone for the Adam and Eve fiasco, the outcome of which their omniscient god would have known in advance.

And this doesn't even include the fact that the gospels writers were not eyewitness to any of the events. They were written anonymously, decades after Jesus died, based on oral storytelling by very superstitious people.... but that's a whole different discussion.

Fuck Christianity and the mythical donkey it rode in on.

Yes, you can say "fuck".

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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13-09-2018, 12:01 PM
RE: Evangelical Fundamentalism destroyed my family
I've heard so many atheist activist say something akin to, "Most people who claim to be a Christian have no idea what the Bible actually says", when it comes to the horrifying things in the OT about women and how they are nothing but property and/or the spoils of war. But then you hear countless stories like this of abuse and rape, and the lengths people go to either cover it up or make it go away. It seems clear they know exactly what their Bible says, since they're obviously doing exactly what people were doing with women/girls 5,000 years ago.

Your frustration is entirely justified and I commend you on the restraint it takes to keep your emotions in check. However, do not bottle it up entirely; it isn't healthy. Find an outlet for it, even if it is nothing more than driving to some deserted back road and screaming at the top of your lungs until your voice is gone, or finding a gym with a punching bag.

If you approach the Bible study leader, I would do so from a street epistemology point of view. Rather than bringing up your specific examples and asking how God could possibly be directing/allowing it (which usually puts the Christian on the defensive, with the walls flying up), ask about the recent revelations about the continued abuse in the Catholic church. The first time, the church said it was appalling, but God has a plan and we will rectify the problem. The second time, oops, we missed something. The third time... some other inane explanation. Here we are, again, not only with more reports of continual abuse, but even confirmation of the church budgeting money to assist with the clean-up (even cover up) of the aftermath and relocation of the offending priest. Ask her to answer her own question - where/what is God's plan in this? How does he continue to allow his children to be abused, over and over? I would expect you'll receive something akin to the "mysterious ways" BS, so remind her the question isn't "how does God allow this to happen" - the question is "how does God continue to allow this to happen". It's the equivalent of a parent walking into a room where their child is being violently raped and walking away without doing anything about it. This is not a plan; it's gross negligence and its own form of abuse.

For the most part, you're talking about things that happened in the past... we have to accept we can't change what happened. By all means, be mad. Be extremely pissed off. But don't let it drag you down to the point it affects your mental/emotional/physical health. Be the positive, uplifting person in your sisters' lives. Take their hand, talk to them about the good, even great things happening in their lives today, and help them move above all this. It sounds like she has an amazing career. Where is she going with it? Where does she want to go with it? How can you help her get there? Take the focus away from the negative crap that may have left her below where she should have been and onto the positive things she's doing and will do with what she does have. Lift her up and she might just take you with her.

Good luck. We're always here to listen...

D
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