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 is...it'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.