Chubby Kids (Like Me) Love Sammiches

When you were a kid did your mom ever make something to eat that was special–just for you? Mine did. It was mashed avocado on toast. Come to think of it, there was also bbq chicken in the crock pot (just for me) and pork chops.

What can I say?  I was a chubby kid.

Well I haven’t made an avocado sandwich since–well I’ve probably never made one. My mom always toasted the bread, buttered it and smashed up the avocados and OMG it was so good. A few months later, my savvy mother would say things like, “Why don’t you butter the toast?” So, I would. And then she’d say the next time, “Why don’t you smash the avocado?”

Pretty soon I was making the whole damn sammich on my own!

New York Legalizes Same-Sex Marriages

Last night was a major win for marriage equality supporters, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill making gay marriage legal in New York. The vote came down to the wire as state senators voted on Friday evening. The bill passed with a 33-29 vote, as news of the success spread, crowds celebrated in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village at The Stonewall Inn. Nearly 42 years to the day since the riots at The Stonewall Inn gave birth to the gay rights movement, homosexuals are no longer considered second class citizens in New York.

Read More of Ben Tegland’s Post Here

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About Ben

My name is Ben Tegland. Quick and dirty version, I grew up Pentecostal. Went to Bible college, got my pastor license. After doing all of that, I gave up on the faith before taking a pastor job. Now I’m an irreligious former Christian making up for lost time.

The Cycle of Abuse: Discipleship Programs

This blog deals nearly entirely with Master’s Commission abuse and recovery, but since December or so I’ve maintained a friendship with some of the Recovering Alumni from Teen Mania who’s stories are so similar to mine.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Teen Mania and Master’s Commission are both abusive discipleship programs. After all, they both take students away to be discipled away from their family and friends, and focus on militaristic rules, rituals and leadership, and force prayer and Bible study on their students.

When I first entered Master’s Commission, I’d heard of Teen Mania but didn’t know anyone who attended nor did I have access to seeing them or meeting them. Later, in my first year in Master’s Commission my roommate Tiffany kept trying to set me up with her friend who was in Teen Mania. She told me stories about all the missions trips he’d gone on and I have to admit, I was a little bit jealous–missions was my thing at the time.

Today I read Keith’s story on the Recovering Alumni site, and was (again) surprised how similar Keith’s story was to mine in ways. We had an unrelenting loyalty and obedience to our leadership. If they told us to jump, we’d say how high? Keith was obedient like I was. Keith always tried to be moral and do the right thing, and I was a lot like that when I entered Master’s Commission. My mom taught me to be respectful to people, and I interpreted that as obeying my teachers and elders.

Part of Keith’s story really hit me:

Other than these two minor things, the trip was going great and I was making good friends. Then one day, out of nowhere, while we were in the town square preparing to share the Gospel, my team leader came up to me and told me I was no longer allowed to speak with my closest male friend on the trip, Shane. I couldn’t even respond to my team leader because I was so taken aback. Shane seemed like a good guy and I thought we had a positive influence on each other. My team leader asked me if I understood what he was asking me to do and I said yes. He never told me why I shouldn’t talk to Shane but I just figured he would tell me later. For the rest of the day, I kept my distance from Shane as I was told.

Keith describes this incident and how he reacted in a way that I consider accurate to how I reacted every time I was told what to do in Master’s Commission. If I was told to do something that didn’t make sense, I was sometimes too shocked or scared to ask WHY and I assumed that (like a normal person) my leader would tell me later.

That talk, reason or excuse never came later.

Because we’d get rebuked or punished if we questioned our leaders, many of us were too scared to question our leadership. Like Teen Mania, Master’s Commission had a set of rules that were to be followed and if not, the ultimate punishment was being told to leave the program. However harsh our leadership was, we never thought that it would be a good thing to be kicked out. Such shame and disgust was surrounded with getting kicked out and we were taught that we’d be completely out of the grace of God (and walking with Satan) if we got kicked out.

And this is how the cycle of abuse held it’s power over us as new students. Eventually, we came into a position of leadership and the same tactics were used to make us behave in a way that was sometimes threatening to the students. We were threatened if we didn’t rebuke the students harsh enough.

Please read Keith’s Story and if you are a Master’s Commission Alumni please consider checking out Recovering Alumni. The site is a great resource for recovery.

How to File a Complaint When A Church Endorses Political Candidates

Every year I lived in Louisiana, a new politician took the pulpit to talk about why they were running for office. When I lived there, Our Savior’s Church gladly welcomed Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Bobby Jindal into the pulpit to talk about their take on “Christian” issues.

Did you know that it’s against the law for churches to endorse a political candidate?

To be specific, Churches cannot engage in any of the following activities under the federal tax law:

  • Cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office
  • Cannot make any communication—either from the pulpit, in a newsletter, or church bulletin—which expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate for public office
  • Cannot make expenditures on behalf of a candidate for public office or allow any of their resources to be used indirectly for political purposes (e.g., use their phones for a phone bank)
  • Cannot ask a candidate for public office to sign a pledge or other promise to support a particular issue
  • Cannot distribute partisan campaign literature
  • Cannot display political campaign signs on church property

If your church is violating the federal tax law, this is how you can file a complaint:

How to Complain

If after reading the above information, you believe a church has violated the law, fill out a Department of the Treasury—Internal Revenue Service Form 13909, available as a regular pdf to print and fill out by hand, or as a pdf form version, which allows you to fill out the form on your computer and then print.
Send the completed form by one of the following methods:

Mail:
IRS EO Classification
Mail Code 4910DAL, 1100 Commerce Street
Dallas TX 75242-1198

Fax:
214-413-5415

E-Mail:
eoclass@irs.gov

To complain to the IRS about its tax regulations permitting churches to politick over referenda, write to:

Douglas Shulman
Commissioner of Internal Revenue
10th St & Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004

For more information, please see the IRS “Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.”

 

Please visit Freedom From Religious Foundation for more information.