My Tragic Love Story, Part 2

Men and women could not, under any circumstances, develop a romantic relationship in the ministry group that I was in. So even though Tool and I liked each other, we could not date.

I was on staff at a ministry training school in a small, bayou-surrounded Louisiana town.  At that time, I had been serving with the same pastors for around five years. Our entire staff and some students had moved from Austin, Texas in 2003 to begin a new school at the church in Louisiana.

In 2004, I met “Tool” (the guy who claimed he was in love with me). Our friendship was a love-hate relationship from the beginning. He had a real problem with women and I was his superior in the hierarchy that was our church. I later learned that the Tool had plenty of childhood and family issues that made him the jerk that he was. After our friendship developed for a year, I started developing feelings for the Tool and he fell for me.

Men and women could not, under any circumstances, develop a romantic relationship in the ministry group that I was in. So even though Tool and I liked each other, we could not date. I was 24 years old and he was around 23 years old at the time.

The steps we had to take to date were lengthy and involved male-initiated leadership. It was taught by our pastors that the man in the relationship had to initiate everything relating to a dating relationship or courtship. That man also had to ask our pastor permission to date the girl of his dreams.

And that pastor had to approve.

For Tool, these were not easy steps.

Rape Victim: Who Me?

I simply couldn’t believe the seven years of my life I’d devoted to God was actually devoted to a destructive group–a cult.

I sat on the couch across from my therapist during one session in 2005. She worked out of the California State University, Bakersfield campus Counseling Center and she was free, which was in my budget at the time.

I’d decided to see her after being referred to her by two professors: one professor witnessed me break down in front of a lecture class of over 100 students during my Freshman year when he asked me why I was attending college. He had no idea that for me, I was attending college fresh from a cult where I was brainwashed and taught that I was less of a human being because I was a woman. After my sob-fest in Freshman Shakespeare class, my professor kindly suggested I see a therapist. I took him up on his suggestion, and am happy I did.

I met with her once a week, on Thursdays. I went through about half her box of Kleenex and left with a runny nose and puffy, red eyes. One hour a week was enough to bring up enough pain to bring me into hysterical fits of crying. Sometimes I couldn’t even talk about my memories or pain.

Sitting across from her one day, she went to her desk and she pulled up the Counseling Center website. She gave me links to the resources to Cults that I have listed on this website. It was only the second time I’d ever heard anyone tell me that they thought my ministry experience sounded like a cult. I was shocked. I was horrified. I felt cheated. If this was true, then how could I have been so stupid? What about those people I loved? There was no way they’d run a cult!

I simply couldn’t believe the seven years of my life I’d devoted to God was actually devoted to a destructive group–a cult.

Years prior, a good friend of the family from our home church in Taft, CA had come to visit me on a motorcycle road trip through Texas. He stopped in our church in Austin and took me to lunch. He visited the offices of Master’s Commission there. When he went home, he told my parents, “I think the place Lisa is in is a cult.” This coming from a life-long church member and deacon shocked my parents and me.

The next thing my therapist told me was even more shocking, though. As if notifying me that she thought I’d been in a cult wasn’t shocking enough, she then told me, “I’ve counseled many, many rape victims and you sound exactly like a rape victim. You have many of the same symptoms. I don’t know if it’s possible to get spiritually or mentally raped, but that’s exactly what I think has happened.”

My New eBook – Spiritual Abuse: A Victim’s Guide to Recovery

Written exclusively for my blog readers, Spiritual Abuse: A Victim’s Guide to Recovery is now available for your Kindle.

About the eBook:

Spiritual abuse is happening in increasing numbers around the world. As Christian fundamentalism grows, so do the numbers of psychological and “spiritual” abuse victims. Spiritual abuse is becoming a common term for those harmed in churches and cults. Lisa Kerr is an ex-cult member and former reverend with the Assemblies of God who worked with a group called Master’s Commission for nearly a decade. Today, she advocates for ex-cult members and those who’ve experienced spiritual and psychological abuse in the hands of clergy.

If you enjoy the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or visit my author page for upcoming events.

An Update, Between Drafts

I’m departing the world of cults for a bit to jump into a fictional world that I can’t discuss (yet). It is beyond exciting to write this novel and I might be able to post updates here and there along the way but there’s something wonderful about keeping all my ideas totally private and just knowing that one day I’ll reveal them and until then…no one can steal them! They’re safe with me.

I’ve literally been writing morning, noon and night and I am in such a good place with all of that. Writing is my number one love and while blogging is writing, books are such different (and also wonderful) beasts. I love books and I’ve loved them since I was a kid. Blogging is such immediate satisfaction–readers read right away (oooh look! alliteration!). Books are intense, and done in bursts and when you have energy and don’t. Books are written up and down and all around and rewritten in places like parking lots, offices, coffee bars, national parks, and the list goes on. I keep a print out of my draft with me at all times, so when I have five minutes, I edit and rewrite. My book, though, is always in my head. After all, that’s where most of the writing and rewriting happens first.

I think you will all love the book, actually. It’s nothing like the memoir and nothing like I’ve ever published. Ever. It’s fun and you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, with all that being said, I still get a lot of emails from people who need help and I wish I could help you. I have, though, written exhaustively on this blog and in my eBook and covered literally everything you could need to know (emotionally, legally, for parents, for students, personal stories about being in my cult, how I felt when I left, how I left, etc.). If you’re curious about me, check out the blog a bit more, all the FAQs and Welcome pages and then check out my official website. If that doesn’t satiate you, come to my Facebook or any million other social media I’m on. Or Google “Lisa Kerr.” I’m there. Everywhere…

I really need to say this: the best resource you can have through all of this is a good therapist, not me. Instead of emailing me for help, please reach out to a professional. I am a writer and I hope my future books serve you well, but I cannot counsel you over email or the phone. Please respect that and please understand this is nothing personal, but this is a question I’m asked hundreds of times. No one on Earth has that kind of time. If you want to send me your story, I’d love to read it! Send away.

I will be back…after this draft, or maybe the final draft, is complete.

All my love,

xo, Lisa

My Tragic Love Story, The Final Chapter

The steps the pastor required for a man to date a woman in the discipleship training program was like a maze. These weren’t easy for the Tool, but I saw this jerk-for-a-boy turn into a vulnerable, trusting man as he tried to do what was required of him. It wasn’t his fault that these insurmountable rules had been set up before him, preventing him from dating. It also wasn’t his fault that I was extremely hot and intelligent—so much so that his own best friend wanted to date me, too.

The pastor that Tool had to approach was egotistical and had a huge God-complex. It was either his way or the highway. That was not something he learned from God—it was just something he flaunted due to his own insecurities. Tool didn’t know that the pastor didn’t respect him at all and constantly told me that he wasn’t good enough for me. He’d list the reasons one-by-one, and sadly, some of them were true: he wasn’t from a good home, he probably wouldn’t make a good pastor, he was rebellious, and he didn’t treat women well.

What pissed me off was not that Tool was right or wrong for me, but that someone ELSE was interfering in my love life at the age of 24 years old! Not only was this pastor making suggestions, he was out-right making my decisions for me. He was attempting to think for me, and teach me that his way of thinking was right and that there were no other options but how he thought.

My debut on Huffington Post’s TED Weekends

I’ve been an avid reader of Huffington Post for years now. Last week I was emailed by an editor asking me to write for their TED Weekends. The topic was cults and they were featuring Diane Benscoter’s TED talk from 2009 about visual memetics and how cults rewire the brain. It was fascinating and of course I was honored. I said yes.

Fast forward to yesterday. The article was posted and it even appeared on HuffPo’s front page.

That's me, on the front page of Huffington Post!
That’s me, on the front page of Huffington Post!
(On the middle left where it says “TED Weekends”.)

 

It was quite a surreal moment. I was at work and I kept telling my favorite people at work, “It’s on the front page! OMG! Next to the President!”

I worked hard on the article, reading, researching and rewriting. My faithful friends did a lot of reading and rereading and editing over the entire week. I can’t thank them enough.

The beauty of all of this is I’ve also received my own HuffPo blog. This means a lot to me because I work with so many survivors (not to mention I write often about women’s issues and other topics) and I’ve been working hard to build my platform so I could help them tell their stories. It’s a great opportunity.

ted weekends post

 

The entire article can be read here. Please comment and share it with your friends! It would mean so much to me to get the word out about Master’s Commission and the dangers of Christian youth programs. The article will remain up until this Friday when a new TED Weekends subject is posted. (The article will remain on the site, just not on the front page, so it’s crucial to share it this week.)

How has your Christian faith changed? A survey on deconversion for ex-Christians, Atheist, Agnostic, Spiritual, and Liberal Christians.

You are invited to participate in this survey on deconversion from Christianity, changes in Christian faith. The survey is particularly focused on (but not limited to) those who have previous experience with Christianity who now consider themselves non-Christian, non-religious, Spiritual, Agnostic, Atheist, or Liberal Christian.

How has your Christian faith changed? A survey on deconversion for ex-Christians, Atheist, Agnostic, Spiritual, and Liberal Christians.

 You are invited to participate in this survey on deconversion from Christianity, changes in Christian faith. The survey is particularly focused on (but not limited to) those who have previous experience with Christianity who now consider themselves non-Christian, non-religious, Spiritual, Agnostic, Atheist, or Liberal Christian. You will be asked to fill out your first and last name for validation purposes only. Your personal contact information you provide below will never be sold or marketed. By filling out this form, you are consenting to participate. You also agree to allow results to be used in and published in current and future research and writings by Lisa Kerr.
PRIVACY INFORMATION: If you agree, your identity will be made known in all written data resulting from the study. Otherwise, your individual privacy will be maintained in all published and written data resulting from the study. What this means? I will never use your real name unless you give me permission to do so below

A link to the survey has been provided here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFVyVk9hSDRzZFkxbEhNVE51UnN3QXc6MQ

 

If you have questions about the study, the research or what the results will be used for, please feel free to email me at: mycultlife AT gmail DOT com.


Radio Interview Today w/Lisa Kerr

Good morning, little monsters!

Today, I’m telling my story on WUNC 91.5, North Carolina’s Public Radio. The show is called The State of Things with host Frank Stasio. The other guests are Benjamin Zeller (Brevard College), Sean McCloud (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) and James Tabor (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), all authors and religious studies professors.

You can listen live at 9 am PST (on your computer or Iphone) or download the podcast later. To listen live, visit their site http://wunc.org/programs/tsot/ and look for the right sidebar under “Pledge Now.” You’ll see a bar that says Listen Live/Podcasts. From there, choose your media of choice and listen. 🙂

Hope to see you there!