A Battle Weary Man

Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day reading “Leaving the Fold.” I couldn’t put the book down. It has been an eye opening emotional roller coaster. I didn’t realize just how much Fundamentalism RUINED my life and squelched my true self. More importantly, it destroyed my relationship with God.

Castelluccio, la pineta "Italia"

This post is authored by John Wood. John is a survivor of fundamentalism and now runs the community “Homeless Faith.” This is a good community for those who still feel connected to a Higher Power but don’t have a structured home to practice. You can find his online community at https://www.facebook.com/homelessfaithhomepage.

In Christian society, your “testimony” is like a spiritual resume: telling those in your fold of your conversion experience, allowing them the chance to critique you, and to decide if you were really a “true” Christian. My testimony is different. It is the story of how Fundamentalism almost destroyed my soul. Most of these details I have never shared with anyone before, only those in my Facebook group “I Survived Fundamentalism.” I have agonized for almost a week about posting it publicly. But, I have to. There may be one of you going through this same turmoil and I want you to know you aren’t alone.

Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day reading “Leaving the Fold.” I couldn’t put the book down. It has been an eye opening emotional roller coaster. I didn’t realize just how much Fundamentalism RUINED my life and squelched my true self. More importantly, it destroyed my relationship with God.

I realized just how much of my life was wasted trying to conform to a standard that was impossible to measure up to. I realized just how contradictory the Bible is. I realized that I was both created in the image of God and an abomination in His eyes for who he created me to be. I realized that this loving God was capable of killing us all in an instant, if we weren’t satisfactory in His eyes.

I so desperately spent my youth trying to fit in. Trying to fit into mainstream society as a homosexual, only to be shunned, made fun of, tormented and cast aside. Trying to fit in to “Christian Society” as a sinner with a secret to hide, only to believe that I would NEVER get into heaven. Time and again, I walked down the aisle, “Just As I Am,” desperate to secure my place in Heaven, only to fail once again.

I want that 8 year old boy back. The one who had the shit scared out of him at Bible Summer Camp by a red-faced screaming man, telling me my 8 year old Matchbox car playing sinning soul was headed straight to hell. Yet, the next day, the “counselor” who was there to save our souls, drove me to the beach in his brown Pontiac Bonneville only to molest me on the sands, telling me how much God loved me and how much he loved me.

I want the 16 year old boy back. The one who desperately sought someone to love, someone to talk to, someone who he could be himself with. The one who threw himself into church to make himself worthy of God, yet always fell short. The one who hid his secret from the world, terrified of exposure.

I want the 24 year old man back. The one who was told by his mother that he would be considered dead if he “chose” this life. The one who had no self-esteem and sought approval by sleeping with anyone that would have him. The one who felt he was so unworthy that he had to buy love. The one who felt so guilty after every sexual encounter that he would strip the bed sheets and bleach the sin out of them. The one who lost 40 lbs from colitis from the stress of life.

I want the 32 year old man back. The man whose sin had enveloped him into a life from where redemption was not possible. The man who still sought approval through his sexual currency. The man from who love always escaped.

I want the 40 year old man back. The one who bargained with God to save his mother, the good Christian lady who did all the right things, only to be shit upon by life. The lady who’s husband was taken from her at age 33. The lady who felt her back problems were caused by God punishing her for keeping a clean house The lady who was convinced her death was because she didn’t live right and that God was once again punishing her. The 40 year old man was desperate to save the good Christian lady, so once again he became a weak and laughable character, diving in to Christian culture in a desperate attempt to be good enough to ask for a favor from God. All semblance of self reliance gone, the prayers were sent up daily, the donations sent to Joyce Meyer and the like, the library filling up with books such as “Battlefield of the Mind” and “Being Christian.” Obviously, this didn’t work since she died.

As the 40 year old man plodded along, he was punished for not being Christian enough. Panic attacks set in… you know, those attacks from the enemy. To him, fear meant you weren’t strong enough in your faith.

So, now, here stands the nearly 48 year old man. He is battle weary. He may have some cracks in his soul, but he is not broken. He is wiser. He wants the 8 year old boy, the 16 year old boy, the 24 year old man, the 32 year old man and the 40 year old man to know that they are loved by him. The 48 year old man will take care of them. He will protect them. And he promises them that they will never be subjected to that kind of a god again. He isn’t really sure where he is going at this time but, in another 8 years when we check in with the 56 year old man, he will be a much better adjusted person, with a deep connection to the God that loves us all, the God that rises above all doctrine and dogma.

Advice

Over the years, I’ve given out a lot of advice to you, my dear readers and friends. I think I’ve covered everything from suicide to sexuality to how to argue your point with a Christian. I never set out to do this but I will say it’s a natural extension of who I am and this trait comes from my mother. My mom is the best at giving advice and seeing situations for what they are.

So, in an effort to embrace what I’m good at, I’m going to post an occasional column here that talks about issues you want to the know the answer to. A sort of “Ask Lisa” place that people can look at down the road, because I assure you for every question you’ve asked me, a dozen other people have asked the same one.

Some basics: you can email me (mycultlife@gmail.com), Facebook or tweet to me your question. If you email me, please include “Ask Lisa” in the subject line and a keyword on what it’s about (depression, religion, fundamentalism, etc.). Example: Ask Lisa about depression. You can include a story or anecdote, just make sure you’re okay with it being posted online.

As a rule I won’t use your real name, but if you would include your state or country of residence, that would be great.

Your identity will never be revealed but please note that your emails WILL be published. All identifying names will be removed and replaced with fake names.

Kirk Cameron criticizes Stephen Hawking (and every non-believer) for saying ‘there is no heaven’

I used to think Kirk Cameron was cute, obviously, but lately (read: for a really long time) he’s become so emblematic for everything that’s wrong with Christianity. And by Christianity, I mean fundamentalism and by fundamentalism I mean the “bat shit crazy” of our times.

I used to think Kirk Cameron was cute, obviously, but lately (read: for a really long time) he’s become so emblematic for everything that’s wrong with Christianity. And by Christianity, I mean fundamentalism and by fundamentalism I mean the “bat shit crazy” of our times.

Kirk Cameron recently criticized Stephen Hawking’s ‘there is no heaven’ statement on his Facebook page:

kirk cameron

 

I obviously have a lot of issues with his statement. First of all, it doesn’t make sense in the “realm of reality” as he says he lives. The problem with reading fundamentalist arguments is that it’s like listening to gibberish, and the argument only makes sense within the confines of a fundamentalist belief system/community/culture. So, if you sometimes venture out to work, or a secular college, or a normal book, this stuff won’t make sense to you. Second, I have a ton of questions (see below):

Kirk says: To say anything negative about Stephen Hawking is like bullying a blind man. He has an unfair disadvantage, and that gives him a free pass on some of his absurd ideas. Professor Hawking is heralded as “the genius of Britain,” yet he believes in the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything…

I say: Do you mean that he believes God did not create the universe? Believing that God didn’t have any place in creating the universe is entirely different from believing in scientific theory. They are separate entities and not related at all. If a scientist doesn’t take into consideration the belief that God created the universe it’s because it’s not a REAL theory and it’s based entirely on a Christian world-view, not a scientific one. There are plenty of Christians and Christian scientists who don’t find the creation story legitimate.

 Kirk says: (Sir Isaac Newton called atheism “senseless and odious”) and that life sprang from non-life. To speak on issues of science and violate it’s essential laws is like playing checkers with a someone who changes the rules when he’s losing.

I say: What essential laws of science has Hawking violated? I see no violation evident here. Also, who cares if Sir Isaac Newton didn’t like atheism? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; however, unless some random statement like this about an historical figure has a reference linked to it, I am wary that it’s even true.

Kirk says: Why should anyone believe Mr. Hawking’s writings if he cannot provide evidence for his unscientific belief that out of nothing, everything came?

I say: Why should Hawking have to waste time providing evidence of a belief system? A religion? You can’t “prove” that a religion or belief system is real-by it’s very nature religion/belief systems are and idea, a cultural and societal phenomenon, that’s both useful and interesting to try to understand why communities hold on to them, but why we have religion in the world is not really a scientific question. The examination of belief systems and ideas perpetuated by beliefs is better suited for philosophers or anthropologists; it’s unrelated to science.

Kirk says: He says he knows there is no Heaven. John Lennon wasn’t sure. He said to pretend there’s no Heaven. That’s easy if you try.

I say: There is no heaven. Heaven is a sales-tactic used by Christian ministers which has successfully scared the hell out of people for years. Why take offense to someone not believing in your beliefs?

Kirk says: Then he said he hoped that someday we would join him. Such wishful thinking reveals John and Stephen’s religious beliefs, not good science. They may imagine all they want, but I lost my faith in atheism long ago and prefer to stay within the realm of reality.

I say: Okay, first of all, Stephen doesn’t have wishful thinking and John Lennon was a songwriter whose songs (like many songs) borrow from Christian culture and phrases because it’s been a part of the US and world for centuries; not necessarily because Lennon believed. Also, no one really cares if you lost faith in atheism a long time ago. Atheism isn’t something people like me care to push on anyone, even fundies like you. In fact, I could care less what you believe or don’t believe and that’s the difference–the major difference–between you and me. The only reason I care to bring this up is that you feel the need to push your views on people all the time. That’s WHY atheists are angry. Atheists are often former Christians who see through the bullshit and the stupidity of our former beliefs. We have little tolerance for these kind of lectures. They’re useless.

(h/t Washington Post)

Mercy Ministries New Public Relations Thrust

I’ve also been following Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries for months, but particularly in the last few weeks because my “Dr. Watson” has been following some censorship that Mercy is deliberately doing. That, coupled with the trends I’ve noticed on my Google alerts, leads me to believe they’ve launched a new public relations thrust.

Another Sunday morning has arrived. I find myself in the habit of reading about fundamentalism on Sunday’s. Perhaps it’s because in a former life I was a fundamentalist, and now I’m obsessed with the trends, history, and rise of Christian nationalism. I’ve also been following Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries for months, but particularly in the last few weeks because my “Dr. Watson” has been following some censorship that Mercy is deliberately doing. That, coupled with the trends I’ve noticed on my Google alerts, leads me to believe they’ve launched a  new public relations thrust.

Here are the new PR developments from Mercy Ministries in recent weeks/months:

I always give a cursory glance to my Google alerts on related topics, so I thought I noticed that Mercy Ministries has been posting their press releases on multiple Mercy Ministries/Nancy Alcorn websites which didn’t exist as independent websites before. As it turns out, they have already owned the following domain names since 2008 but only in 2012 have they created distinct websites out of them and added new content. It looks like up until recently, all of Nancy Alcorn blog postings were based on the nancyalcorn.blogspot.com website and these individual domain names below were redirected to nancyalcorn.blogspot.com (Nancy’s blog), which means none of these domain names would show up prominently on Google’s front page listing for Nancy Alcorn. Now her blog has been permanently moved to nancyalcorn.com. But in 2010 and 2011, all the following sites went to the blogspot account above as indicated below:

Now click on any of them below. They look like separate websites and none of them redirect to a single site.

nancyalcorn.com

nancyalcorn.net

nancyalcorn.org

nancyalcorn.me

nancyalcorn.us

That’s all I’ve found for now, but I’m not going to scour the web past the 2nd page of Google because we all know that’s where the vampires hide (page 3 and beyond). But I did want to point out to you that Nancy Alcorn has four new websites. For those of you who aren’t web savvy, it’s just a way for Nancy’s version of her history (minus the scandal) to remain at the top of Google searches for Nancy Alcorn instead of finding Mercy Survivors stories or The Truth about Mercy or the dozens of articles from Australia, the Nashville Scene and Lincoln Messenger.

And then, there’s the new url: http://mmoa.convio.net/site/PageNavigator/MercyTalk_Homepage.html. How do I know it’s new? Well, here’s a good indicator plus the science of deduction (Sorry, I’m recently obsessed with BBC’s Sherlock.):

For any survivors reading, take a closer look at the “mmoa” part. Of course, we all know what this means and if not, here’s a bit of history: it’s code for Mercy Ministries (the entity which is legally liable for the Australia scandals and the Lincoln, CA home controversy) trying to distance themselves from the controversies in 2008 and early 2012–something we won’t let them live down and will relentlessly document. Sorry, MM. You can attempt to erase history, but the internet is forever. Not to mention, screen shots are GREAT backup. Are you that uninformed and out of touch? We may not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing, but we know our shit.

Apparently, Mercy Ministries wishes to call their homes “affiliates” now, which would possibly absolve Nancy Alcorn of any ties to the scandals that will inevitably come out of the homes although it cannot erase her contributions to the past since that’s been documented with the government in Australia.

Here is a link from the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) indicating that Mercy Ministries was involved:

Undertakings remedy Mercy Ministries misleading conduct (Excerpt: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has obtained court enforceable undertakings, which includes payment, from seven former directors of Mercy Ministries Incorporated and/or Mercy Ministries Limited in relation to misrepresentations by those entities. The undertakings include an apology and a voluntary payment of $1050 to those people affected by the conduct. These are made by former directors Mark Zschech, Peter Irvine, Mark Caldwell, Stephen Crouch, Young Pil (Phil) Sohn, Darlene Zschech and Clark Pearson.)

In 2009, Mercy Ministries International, Inc. mentions the Australia homes in their IRS Form 990 here whereby they show that they assisted them with operating costs in 2008 and that Mercy Ministries, Ltd was set up as a holding company (which limits the liability of the Mercy Ministries “brand”) to support the dwindling down of the operations of the Australia home:

 

The entire Form 990 is here but a snapshot of the first page indicates that Nancy Alcorn is president.

 

So, while it may be true that Nancy did not live in Australia running this particular home, many former residents said Nancy played a large role in the Australia homes–as much as she does in the U.S. homes. What Nancy doesn’t realize is that when her leadership and teachings and books are the core of the home and the brand, she’s inherently tied to them no matter what sort of subsidiaries she sets up. She founded the homes. She visits the homes. Her books are the core…it’s a small level of legal protection which may work in her favor in the future. I’m sure she was advised to do this and continue to distance herself from the Hillsong debacle, even though we have documented evidence that Hillsong dropped Mercy/Nancy first.

Check out the new Wikipedia entry that mentions MMOA (Mercy Ministries of America), the affiliates and the brand, which is not entirely new language but language that has only been recently adopted for public use:

Mercy Ministries marketing department has been very busy from the above influx of new Nancy Alcorn websites, their newly established terminology of “affiliates” and Mercy Ministries of America and the press release op-ed written by executive director Christy Singleton that the Tennessean published. Oh and did I mention the above Wikipedia entry was edited BY someone Mercy Ministries hired called DownRightMighty? Mercy Survivors will be publishing a comprehensive breakdown soon but I’m terrible at keeping surprises quiet so I just had to share the above along with what the Wikipedia moderator said of DownRightMighty’s promotional edits (that included promoting MMOA, “affiliates”, and erased much of the mention of the scandal/controversy):

 

And the Mercy Ministries user was banned:

 

Let’s remember what the goal of public relations is: “The aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions.” (Wiki) Mercy Ministries public relations is on overdrive right now trying to work hard on erasing the damage that was done earlier in the year. Sure, we’ve been quiet, but we haven’t forgotten.

 

UPDATE: Mercy Survivors has detailed the history of censorship from Mercy Ministries of anyone who is critical of the ministry. Read more here.

Stuff Fundies Like

A follower of this blog and a friend posted a link to Stuff Fundies Like today. It was my first visit to this fabulous site. How could I even call myself a blogger without finding his site?! With Darrell’s great knack of encapsulating all things Fundamentalist and letting us relive our oh-so-imprisoned days of being bound by ignorance and militaristic faith to God, I find myself laughing and grimacing at the truth on this site.

Darrell was so gracious to give me permission to repost material from his site. I wanted to include some recent posts that I find incredibly insightful, sarcastic and overall hilarious.

For example, you can’t talk about Fundamentalists without mentioning their all-encompassing love for RUNNING AND RULING THE REPUBLICAN party. So, Darrell shows us this:

Darrell writes about what he knows: Baptist Fundamentalism. In his post, Baptist Distinctives Day 6: Two Offices, he’s not just writing about Baptist Ministers, but ALL Fundamenalist Ministers. See his requirements for becoming a pastor (emphasis my own):

The requirements for becoming a pastor are stringent in fundyland. You have to be male. You have to claim to have heard THE CALL™. You have to own at least one serviceable suit. You have to not be divorced. And you have to be in the good graces of a couple other pastors. Education, wisdom, gentleness, and professionalism are completely optional.

 

About Darrell,

“I’m the son and grandson of Baptist preachers. After I graduated from a fundamentalist university, I began to become increasingly aware of problems in that movement which eventually led to me leaving fundamentalism, although I still consider myself a “conservative evangelical Christian.” In November of 2008, I started SFL on a whim, just as a place to jot down a few memories and observations in a satiric and mildly humorous format. Strangely enough, a bunch of other folks who had similiar experiences began showing up to read and chat. The site has been growing ever since.

Thank you, Darrell. You’ve made my day!