Thursday, December 13, 2012

"The Great Sham"

I've seen many people fall so hard after being in a controlling church/cult. It seems that they run as fast as they can away from God and anything related to God. I didn't do that because I was able to separate God from my pastor because I've always believed in the love of God - even though I never saw it demonstrated from my former pastor. For a while after leaving my church I couldn't read my Bible because all I heard was the pastor's harsh voice and his bogus teachings, so I just tried to concentrate on the fact that God loved me. I basically had to put everything I learned at that church on the shelf and say to myself, "God loves me and that's all I can think about right now."

But I've noticed that some people can't even do that. The reason being...the controlling, narcissistic pastor carefully and convincingly teaches week after week that he is your "man of God." He makes you believe that when he speaks it's equivalent to God speaking. He has "words from God" for you and over time you really do begin to see him as God. I know that sounds absurd to some, but that's how cult leaders brainwash people. They do enough good to earn your trust. They actually demand your trust and you basically begin to trust them with your life. You feel like you can't make a move without their consent. Of course these self-promoted, controlling pastors know exactly what they are doing and they take pleasure in the loyalty of their followers. You are punished for a lack of loyalty - you fear that you will be the subject of his next message.  My former pastor once told me he was thinking of requiring his staff to watch 'The Godfather' movies so they would learn how to be loyal to him. It would be funny if it weren't so true...and sad.

When a person finally sees the light and realizes what they are a part of they can't separate the two - their pastor and God. That's clearly why the Bible teaches for us not to put our trust in man. It's sad to say that so many Christians have their trust in a man who doesn't even care about them. So when the pastor lets them down, lies to them, and hurts them, they run. They run away from God, when all along God had nothing to do with what they were a part of. God is love and if a pastor is not demonstrating the love of God and pointing you to that love at all times, he's not a true pastor.

I can remember sitting in services and hearing the pastor call people idiots and use phrases like "you should beat their brains out" while referring to your children. I would think to myself, "I sure wish my children could see the real love of God that I experienced when I was first saved. But dummy me...I just kept sitting there listening to his foolishness. My kids are suffering for it and I hate it. Come to find out now, they were afraid of him. They were afraid that if they weren't perfect, he would embarrass them. They were afraid the "devil would get them." The pastor would use phrases like if you do something wrong you will "open the door to the devil." Can you imagine how a child feels when they hear that? They are walking on eggshells, afraid of the devil, when what a child should be focused on is the love God has for them. These controlling, manipulative churches are backwards! They have people more devil conscious than God conscious. And the sad thing's all planned by the pastor to keep people right where he wants them - under his control.

If you have found yourself in a place like this, get out now. Get your kids away from the fear that's produced in these churches and expose them to the real love of God. Run away from the control and into the arms of God's love. I know that's easier said than done, because once you've invested your whole life into something and then find out it was all a sham, you're cussing mad, you're hurt, you want to punch somebody for doing you that way, and you want to try to forget it all (which is hard to do). God's not upset that you feel this way either - He understands. Try to put your trust in Him and don't ever allow yourself to put so much trust in a man/pastor again. Just try to think about how much God loves you. Don't throw it all away because one day you will need God.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cult Or Healthy Church? Questionaire To Help You Know

I began talking about the subject of abusive churches and controlling pastors a little over 4 years ago when I left my church (cult) of 22 years.  If you go back to the first post on my blog, you’ll see that I could not use the word “cult,” but after being away from that environment and seeing the horrible effects it has had on countless people, I can unmistakably call my former church a full blown cult.
If you have left a controlling pastor/cult, chances are you are having a difficult time even thinking about attending church again. You probably feel bad for not going and you tell yourself, "I need to raise my children in church." There are situations where people leave a cult and find a new church right away, but for most people it's hard for them to trust again after being so hurt, betrayed and lied to by a "man of God."
Here's a reminder of what you need to look at when choosing a healthy church. If you are attending a church and keep feeling like something just isn't right, asking yourself these questions may help you make the right decision.

1.  Does your church tightly control the flow of information within its ranks? Does it seem like the pastor, his family, and those closest to him are extremely secretive?

2.  Does your spiritual leader use public shaming as a method to gain the compliance of followers? Does he give enough information so that everyone knows who he's talking about and yet he never uses a name?

3.  Is your spiritual leader intolerant of questions or critical inquiry? Are you supposed to be a submissive member and just go with whatever the leadership says?

4.  Is your spiritual leader the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation? Does he discredit other churches in the area and make it sound like his church is the only one doing it right?

5.  Does your spiritual leader have unreasonable fears about the outside world such as evil conspiracies or persecutions? Does he use phrases like, "God will set ambushments against our enemies" or "God beats down our foes" all the while referring to the people who have left the church?

6.  Are you discouraged to associate with former members, being warned that they are “evil” or “defiling”? Are the people you thought were your good friends refusing to allow their children to remain friends with your children?

7.  Is leaving your group to join another church equal to leaving God? Have you been convinced that leaving will be your downfall?

8.  Does the surrounding community view your church as a cult? Are you embarrased to say where you attend church?

9.  Does your spiritual leader consider it evil persecution when criticized or questioned? Does he point out "bad" things that happen to those who have left the church and insinuate that it's because they left, but when the same thing happens to him or his family, does he call it an attack?

10.  Do the goals of your spiritual leader seem to supercede any personal goals or individual interests? Does he require you to serve him even to the point of neglecting your own family?

11.  Do you fear being rebuked, shunned, or ignored for expressing a different opinion? If you are a man, do you feel like you've been emasculated and that you must accept what comes your way? Have you allowed your family to be mistreated, all the while saying nothing?

12.  Do former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances?

“If you answered “no” to all of the above questions, your church is very healthy. If you answered “yes” to three or more, your church is showing signs of being unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to six or more, your church is very unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to eight or more, your church is a full-blown authoritarian cult.”