I’m Coming OUT!

Today was Spirit Day in memory of several gay students who committed suicide from homophobic abuse they experienced.

What’s great is that there has been a rally of support for gays and lesbians all over the place by people today wearing purple to show their love and respect for them. Things will get better. One day, we will live in a world where it won’t matter what your sexuality is. There won’t be someone telling you you’re a sinner or a “fag” or a queer. There’s hope for humanity.

In the same spirit, I’m coming OUT today.

I’m not coming out in the, “I’m a lesbian” kind of way. I’m not a lesbian. I’m straight. I’m a straight woman who has a lot of gay and lesbian friends, and supports their right to fall in love, get married, hold hands, kiss, have sex, etc. without enduring intolerance or judgment.

I also have a lot of gay and lesbian friends who love God, who love Jesus and don’t have a place in the Church. But more on that later…

Back to me coming OUT:

I’m pretty sure a lot of people already know this, but I’m not a Christian Fundamentalist anymore. I once was. I sort of fell into it as a teenager and young adult. I walked away from it around the age 24.

Now it’s time to come out and be proud.

I’m standing with Anne Rice and those others who just can’t side with a religion (in this blog, Christianity, but any religion or group) that calls itself loving, but is hateful and judgmental. I can’t stand with a belief system that denies science, evolution, and the promotion of contraceptives, when I so believe in all those things–not because they are trends but because I have worked hard to find answers of my own. I can’t be feminist, intellectually evolving, and growing and listen to those who will call me wrong for thinking the way I do, simply because I’m using my own God-given brain. My brain isn’t smaller because it’s in a female body. I can be a woman and teach, preach, run a church, business, corporation, country as well as a man. It’s not a sin “equal to pedophilia” to ordain a woman as priest (to quote the Pope). I’m not anti-Christian, baby-hating, or a child-killer because I believe in abortion as a woman’s right to choose. I’m not even anti-Christian because I believe in all of the above.

I’m simply responding finding that after years of being a “Christian,” there isn’t a place for me after I changed.

The woman I am today isn’t welcome in the church I once attended because the church I once attended didn’t allow me to think for myself.

Mercy Ministries Anti-Gay Message; Archaic “Treatment”

Mercy Ministries runs a supposedly very successful “group home” or “treatment center” in various cities around the country and the world. They are an international success among some Christian believers which is why hundreds of women are on the waiting list (according to a Mercy insider).

However, just like many fundamentalist Christian groups Mercy has a very hateful message to lesbian young women who attend the program:

Being gay is a sin and could be a “root cause” of your mental disorder. 

As their website states:

The root cause, in a Christian program like Mercy is typically a manufactured sin that the program leaders and related ministers have concocted.

What exactly is a manufactured sin? Evangelical fringe leaders often teach ideologies that are damaging: like “purity” and “abstinence” programs, anti-gay messages which are similar to the 1950’s messages that being gay was a mental disorder.

 

I own a book that I picked up from a used bookstore in North Hollywood, CA called The Problem with Homosexuality by Charles Berg, M.D. and Clifford Allen, M.D. These were actual professionals in the late 50’s who literally believed homosexuality was a problem–much like Mercy Ministries does. Mercy doesn’t just believe being gay is a sin; but that it’s a “root cause” of something much deeper and much more problematic.

Mercy Ministries is part of the Evangelical movement that Joyce Meyer and Dave Ramsey are part of. If those ties don’t phase  you, we’ve got to look a bit closer. A few weeks ago, I noticed the Healing Place Church and Dino Rizzo on Nancy’s list of recommended ministries. There was also mention of (and a link to) Steve and Jennifer Robinson’s church and ministry. Interestingly enough, my own cult has ties to both of these pastors: Steve Robinson and Dino Rizzo. My former pastor, Daniel Jones, who I write about here is an abusive pastor. When I was beginning to find how to report the abuse, I reached out to Dino Rizzo hoping that he’d act as a liason and support the victims.

He did not.

After finding that correlation, I now know where Mercy stands in the Evangelical circle. I know the ideology, the teachings, the messages behind the sermons Nancy preaches. (Does anyone find it ODD that a “treatment center” would have  preacher for it’s founder, president and leader? No medical, organizational, or psychological qualifications here. She is not a social worker or even an activist for young women contrary to her “Christian” image.)

Mercy Ministries is just a sermon, it’s not help. Mercy brainwashes young women into “loving Jesus” and “bearing good fruit.” This is their coercive way of theologically “fighting” mental illness and eating disorders.

Anyone can tell you that eating disorders and mental illness do not get treated or solved by Jesus or a sermon. They require professional medical help. In fact, some professionals would argue that bringing young women into a center to claim treatment and denying them medical attention could be much more potent than just “wrong” or unethical.

However, if you operate on 1950’s medical and psychological ideas, which Mercy does, it’s understandable why girls would be taught that their disorders are their problem and they are to blame. This is unethical and even if Mercy claims they are not a medical facility, they are lying. According to survivors of this program, Mercy represented otherwise.

In the book The Problem of Homosexuality, the authors begin their argument by saying this:

homosexuality [is] an abomintion in the eyes of the Lord…

Now that statement isn’t what you would expect from a doctor is it? Nor is it what you’d expect from a “treatment center” like Mercy Ministries which promises young women that they will be cured.

Mercy’s residents weren’t all gay. In fact, many of the girls were straight and were reaching out to the program because they thought they would be getting legitimate care. However, those girls who were troubled with mental disorders or eating disorders and were gay, were accused of harboring “sin” which was the cause of their illness. Mercy was regurgitating the ideas about homosexuality from the 1950’s. Perhaps their “medical” treatment was just as outdated.

What I’m saying is that however archaic and hate-filled Mercy’s message is to young women, it’s completely abusive and psychologically destructive. This program needs to be shut down before a young woman dies from their maltreatment.

 

 

 

Wear Pink or Be Called Manly

A Former MCA Student tells her very personal story about spiritual abuse and discrimination that happened to her during her years in Master’s Commission of Austin.

MCL: Year you were in Master’s Commission?

 

Former MCA Student: 1998-2000, 2000-2001 Intern under MCA

MCL: City you were in Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Austin

MCL: What were you doing before Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Working and I was a youth leader at my church assisting the youth pastor

MCL: What first introduced you to Master’s Commission?

 

FS: I met people from Master’s Commission in Dallas

MCL: Why did you decide to join Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Thought it would be a great place for me to go since I did not plan on going to college (went to college in the Fall of 2001)

MCL: Who were your Directors at the time?

 

FS: Nathan Davies

MCL: Once you entered MC, what was your impression of the rules that were presented to you?  Can you remember any specific rules? Please describe them.

 

FS: I remember how we had to keep our rooms really really neat!!!!  Nathan could come in anytime and check our rooms.  If he did not like what he saw he would take everything that was “out of place” and throw it in a pile in the middle of the floor.  I remember felling like I was in the military.  I remember one girl stating that everyone should have matching bedding so it would look nicer.  I remember thinking that I did not want to look like everyone else

We had lights out at a certain time.  I really do not remember what time it was, but I do remember that if we as students broke the lights out, we would be in trouble.  If lights out was broken because we were up late working on a project that was fine.

We also had to ask permission from our staff leader before we went anywhere.  I understand that they wanted to know where we were, but if you were not able to find this one person you were not supposed to leave.  I went to the laundry mat with another girl because we were out of clean clothes.  Tim and Victoria came running into the laundry mat and said we did not know where you were and they chewed me out for leaving without permission.  Funny thing is they must have know where I was or they would not have found me.  It was quite embarrassing that it all took place in public, how weird did that look.

I remember that we had a strict dress code.  We had to dress up for prayer and class in the morning, but then we had to change to work.  If you had to go into the church office you could not go in your work clothes.  I spoke with an MC student from a different church and they stated that they have never seen people change clothes so much.

MCL: What was your impression of “20/10?” Did you ever have a hard time staying awake reading your bible? Please explain.

FS: I do not remember the 20/10.  That might have been after I left.  I do remember being required to read a lot.  I could never keep up.  It was not for a lack of effort.  I even remember having to turn in book reports. It was so hard keeping up with all the reading while we were building the coffee shop, cleaning the youth room, and working on many other projects all day long.  On the books that I could not read in time I just skimmed.  I was so afraid that if I did not finish I was going to get in trouble.


MCL: What was your impression of the “no dating” policy? Did you ever have a personal instance where you asked to avoid someone that you had feelings for? Please explain.

 

FS: I thought the dating policy was a little odd, but I just figured that it was because we were all in such tight quarters.  I figured that they did not want a girl getting knocked up and causing problems.
MCL: Did you ever have a conflict with the leadership or directors? Please explain.

FS: I had plenty of conflict, but I never really said anything.  I was actually told by a staff member at one point that I had not grown enough over the time that I had been there (first year) so I was not allowed to go to Royal Family Kids Camp. She told me that God woke her up at 3 am to tell her this.  My thought was that she was not listening to God or he would have told her sooner and when she was awake. I was so sad.  I really wanted to go and work with the kids.  I found it funny that I was good enough to work in the nursery just about every Sunday, but I was not good enough to go to Royal Family Kids Camp.  I was allowed to go the next year and I cam back from San Antonio for four years after that to go to the camp.

MCL: Was there ever a time you were put on the spot and completely embarrassed? Were you ever made to be “an example?”

FS: I was made as an example.  We were working on the set for Hell’s Alternative and I was assigned the task of pinning an extra piece of fabric to the curtain to make it longer.  The curtain did not touch the floor.  I was given a pile of black fabric that did not match the black curtain.  I wanted it to be perfect because I was afraid that Nathan would make a big deal about how bad of a job I did  if it was not perfect.  I asked two people that were not doing anything to assist me because it was hard to pin it with all the extra fabric and making sure the safety pins did not show on the outside.  After we had pinned up a good portion I went to the front pew where Nathan was sitting.  I stood there by him not saying anything (MC students had to wait until they were acknowledged to speak if a staff person looked busy).  I stood there for almost a 1/2 hour and he never even looked at me, so I went back and finished up the curtain.  We ran out of fabric before curtain, that is when I found out that the so called “extensions” were not made for the curtains specifically as I had thought.  Nathan had us all come into the youth room and gave us icecream to thank us for all our hard work.  I took a seat in an armchair.  One of the other girls wanted to sit in the same seat, but I had beat her so she sat on the arm of the chair and put her legs across to the other arm.  He then tore into another MC student and then into me.  I had wasted several hours and many people’s time.  He could not believe how bad of a job I had done and it would have to be done all over again.  I was then called into one of the offices in the youth room with Tim, Victoria, Kathie, and Nathan.  Nathan told me how I made him sick to his stomach.  He told me that I always walked around with another girl hanging on my arm.  I was shocked.  Many of the MC girls held hands, played with each others hair, and rubbed each others backs.  I did not like doing that stuff.  I was getting in trouble because someone came up to me and hooked arms with me while we skipped like in the Wizard of Oz and because another girls decided to sit on the arm of a chair that I was in (we were not even touching).  They told me that I was too manly.  They were calling me a lesbian without coming out and saying it. When the meeting was over I went to one of the Sunday School rooms and I cried for two hours.  I just imagined what things would be like if I was dead.  Then I thought it is time to leave and I thought about walking/hitchhiking back home (which was 5 hours or more away) did not tell anyone what happened.  I wondered if anyone would miss me.

 

I was able to deal with what had been set before me.  I found that they wanted me to wear pink to look more like a girl.  What a joke!!  I loved pink, never had a problem with it, but I just never found anything that I liked in pink.   I was also told that I needed to be more open with Kathie.  She set up nightly meeting with me so we could talk about what happened that day.  I informed her that I was an open book, ask and I will tell.  I was told that I knew what I needed to tell them and they expected me to come to them.  This did not last long because she did not have time to meet with me.  I was also told that I needed to stop hanging out with certain people that I had a strong friendship with and make a friend ship with another certain person.  I did not like speaking with this person because things that were said went back to staff.  I attempted, but all my attempts were ignored.

I was told that not wearing make up made me look like I was not presentable. I had put on some make up, but it was not enough.  A certain person chewed my butt  for 15 min telling me how I needed to wear make up.  Other students were walking by and could hear what was going on.  I tried to explain how I had on make up.  I was then quizzed on what I had on.  I responded that I was wearing what they had told me I needed to wear.  I was then told that I needed to wear more.  I explained that I ran out of and I was told to borrow the make up from someone else.  Borrowing others make up is gross, there are diseases that are transmitted that way.  Me being rebellious did not borrow anyone’s make up and I did not put anymore on.

Just an FYI to all those that thought I was too manly, I have been married for almost 5 years to the love of my life, and I love to get dressed up when I want too not when I am told.  I still wear blue jeans and t-shirts and I do not look sloppy.  I still don’t wear make up and my skin looks great!!  It has taken me a long time to realize that God has made me a beautiful woman and that I don’t need anything else to make me look better especially make up.

MCL: What was the most difficult thing you faced once you were back in “the real world?”

FS: I went to a church that had an MC program in San Antonio.  I never thought I would have problems because I was in MCA.  People that were in their MC group knew my name before I introduced myself to anyone.  At the new church their MC group had a meeting about me.  They thought that I was a spy from MCA that was coming to see what they were doing.  Their MC pastor had some problems and went to Nathan.  I had to explain myself over and over again that I was not in MC anymore and that I was not there to spy on them.

Being alone with the opposite sex was really hard for me when I left MC.  It was terrible to be in a car or anything without a second person to be a witness to make sure that we did not start making out randomly.  It took me a long time to get over this issue.

MCL: What were the circumstances surrounding you leaving?

FS: I just kind of disappeared.  I did not have any really tight relationships with anyone. I was made fun of for my car that had a bad fan belt, for being Native American, and for growing up in Holliday, TX (yes 2 “L’s”).  A few of the MC’s said good-bye to me.

MCL: What year did you leave?

 

FS: 2001

MCL: What was your position at the time (example: 1st year student, 2nd year student, Staff, etc.)?

FS: I did two years as an MC and then I was a part of the trial program of interns, it was not really under MC

MCL: Were you blessed when you left? Were you humiliated when you left?

 

FS: No one really cared that I was leaving.  They did not talk to me when I was an intern.  I left just about everyone my phone number and email address so they could contact me.

MCL: How many hours did you work on average during a week?

FS: I never really counted the hours that we worked, but it was sometimes around the clock.  I got really sick from the lack of sleep.