Again/Did you say CULT?

I was in Cult once but I of course didn’t know it was a cult until it was too late, until my best friend was crying hysterically outside of my door both her wrist both sliced and threatening to commit suicide. I didn’t open it, as my spiritual mentor stood next to me behind those doors whispering in my ear, I had a choice, open the door and let the devil in or stay faithful and trust God would take care of it. I of course sided with God, because why wouldn’t I? It was God after all, HE would never lead me astray. I even thought it was a sign from God when my best friend called me from the mental ward after she had been locked up 51/50 for attempted suicide, to tell me she still loved me…

If you’ve been an avid reader of my blog or if you just got curios and decided to go back to my post back in 2009 or ’10, you’ll notice I was VERY religious and not ashamed of it. I believed in God, in Christianity more than anything else. That’s how I was raised, that’s the one thing my mother installed in me. Even when I moved in with my step mother who practiced Jehovah Witness, I remained faithful to my religion, even when I decided I was going to date a woman, I remained faithful to my religion.

God for so long had been the only constant thing in my life

Its been a good 3 1/2 years since this experience and this is my first time speaking out about it. I read a post the other day about an individual who turned away from his faith and his expierence and it inspired me to share my own story.

I’ll bypass my background and spare you the details. Just know my mother raised me in the belief of Christianity. Although she believed strongly in God and the New Testament, my mother didn’t believe in organized religion and therefore churchs. I learned how to pray, read a bible and be a good person all from within my home growing up. I moved in with my dad at the age of 12 and his wife and kids at the time were Jehovah witness; this for the longest was the only religion that was practiced around me. Even then I stayed faithful to what I had been taught as a Christian all on my own. My senior year in high school I started going to this youth group at a church near by. This church became my home away from home; the people, the atmosphere, the environment I fell in love with it. That same year I decided to openly date my best friend Alex, yes thats Alex as in female, but still remain faithful to my religion. While I had this open view of my new life not everyone else I did. I left that church and my relationship with God began to waiver.

About a year and a half into my relationship with Alex things started to hit rock bottom. I was failing out of school, I was unemployed and looking for hope in all the wrong places. Alex had moved to Florida in attempt to build a life for us and I had planned to follow her that summer. Just as I thought things couldn’t get worse a friend of mine had invited me to church called the International Church of Christ (ICC). It was a non denominational church that met on campus at the University. Now there was nothing special so to say about this church but there was a woman name Shay, who had me the moment I saw her. There was something about her enrgy, she had this glow around her and I kid you not a sparkle in her eye. I approached her immediately exchanged information and had lunch plans the following day.

As soon as we started talking I broke down, I told her where I was in life and in my relationship with God and that I was search of something. She told me she wanted to start these studies with me.

The Studies: The studies are a 12 part series, each study represents a different part of the bible and there’s a challenge associated with them. The 12th study is when you are baptized. This particular church is under the belief that you’re not a Christian until you’re apart of the church and you can’t be apart of the church until you have been baptized amd of course you can’t be baptized until you’ve completed the studued.

I’m not going to go through each study. I’ll say somewhere around the 3rd study you learn you’re in fact not a true Christian according to bible. After this point your typically in a rush to finish the studies as we all desire to be true Christians. Now there was already church on Sundays, women’s meeting on Wednesday, outreach on Tuesday morning, and international meetings on Fridays; so anytime between that
I was doing a study or completing a challenge. It was an hour commute to the church, so at one point I moved in with some of the girls from the church so that I would be closer.

The further along I got in the studies two things came into factor; one I would have to break up with Alex who had returned to California because of lack of opportunity in Florida and who already in fact had a strong dislike against my new church. Two, my friends and family began to notice my lack of interest in anything else and we’re concerned. Taking this criticism back to the church, they encouraged me. Told me Jesus himself received persecution for his beliefs and I would too. So the more people didn’t like who I was becoming the more I felt confirmation I was doing the right thing.

Within two weeks I was approaching the final study and preparing to be baptized. Just to give you a little insight one of the ways you prepare for baptism is having a confessional. You and the person you’ve been studying the bible with (your dicipler) and a few other members of the church gather for an intimate setting in which you reveal every sin you can think of that you’ve committed. The goal is to be secret dree after baptism.

Dicipler: when you begin the studies, you’re basically assigned a member of the church to go through each study with you. This person becomes known as your dicipler. After you’re baptized they basically become your spiritual mentor; it’s so much deeper than a mentor though, in my opinion it was like having another parent. You needed their blessing from anything from dating to missing service to how much you contributed to offering.

Moving forward, I was baptized and became apart of the church. At the time I had limited to no contact with Alex, with a lot of my friends actually. For about a good 4 months I ate, breathed, and slept that church. I never questioned any decisions or instructions that I was given, to me it was all in the name of God which justified everything. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine stop coming to the church that I began to take a closer look at things…

I tried contacting my friend and she wouldn’t talk to me. I went to my dicipler and she advised me to just pray about it but leave her be. It just didn’t sit well with me, so one day I showed up at her house. I never expected to have the conversation we had; she basically told me she had been doing research on the church split, (the church was originally a part of a larger church but they split in two because of leadership differences a decade or so ago). When she went to her dicipler about it they were very secretive and made her feel like she was doing something wrong. At that point she went to the pastor and literally got into a screaming match and they wouldn’t tell her anything, wouldn’t answer any of her questions. So she started doing more research and that’s when she came to the conclusion it was in fact a cult. When she told her dicipler she was going to stop attending, they cut off all communication with her, (which is why she never answered my calls, she thought I would harass her).

After I left her house I was in a state of shock, I didn’t want to go to my dicipler until I had checked it out for myself. I remember sitting at my dinosaur computer going through pages and pages of research and reports and different comparisons proving that the church had a multitude of cult like characteristics. I was scared, I prayed and I cried and I prayed some more. Eventually I texted my discipler and told her we should meet up I had some questions for her. So we did and I told her everything I found I even printed out stuff to bring and show her and the only thing that she could focus on was the fact that I had disobeyed her and contact my friend; I felt like in that moment I knew something wasn’t right.

So I went to the pastors wife, who was the same woman that I met when I first started going to the church, Shay. I explained to her the situation I told her how I went to my discipler, I told her how I just had this feeling like something wasn’t right and I just wanted to know the truth. She told me the other part of the church was a cult and that’s why there was a split. It made sense for a moment, it justified my friends reaction and the way my dicipler was acting. So I held on to that for a few days, but I became obsessed with googling the church, I wanted to know any and everything possible. I literally would stay up for hours reading different testimonials of people that had been involved in the church and at some point themselves left. I read an article that broke down each study and revealed how it’s all a process of brainwashing. The studies were a gateway inside the cult. Everything I found revealed that it was my side of the church that was in fact a cult and not the other side and that we were the reason that it split.

Again following my chain of command I went to my dicipler I asked her if we could just pray, I had this really uneasy feeling and I just needed the reassurance and again this is how I knew something wasn’t right because I was reprimanded for again being so obsessed with all of this research. So now I was angry, I went straight to the pastor and I demanded to know what was going on. He gave me a bunch of bible verses and told me to pray, he very charmingly avoided all my questions and sent me on my way.

That following Sunday was the final straw, the pastor made an announcement in regards to rumors of the Church being a cult he referred to it as spiritual pornography and basically threatened anyone who pursued this information with being exiled from the church, I knew it wasn’t directed hit at me. I went home that weekend and I didn’t shown up for women’s meeting or outreach that week. I was so shaken and honestly scared. I felt like I knew the truth but I didnt want to admit it. My dicipler was blowing up my phone, a few of the girls had shown up to my house or at my school. I couldn’t go anywhere without someone trying to find me. I went back to church that Sunday and I had never felt so uncomfortable, I felt like everyone was watching me, whispering behind my back. I left during intermission and that was the last time I had ever been there.

The harassment continued for about 2 weeks. They called and showed up and questioned. I shut down, stopped trying to prove my point and get them to listen. I went to school and I went home. I just prayed and prayed and cried. Eventually it stopped, they stopped. It became them who avoided me in passing.

I had a difficult time recovering from that experience. I became afraid of religion, so many things had been contorted while I was apart of that church, I didn’t know what was real or apart of their illusion. It got so bad, I stopped reading the Bible, I would still pray but that was it. I started going to counseling and that opened a whole new can of worms. Slowly but surely religion just wasn’t apart of my life. I started making choices and doing things because I wanted to, not be because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I started studying, looking at alternative beliefs. I couldn’t stand the idea of not believing in anything, I needed to know the truth. Evolution and the big bang theory seemed the closest I could get to actual fact of life and so I stuck with it. I also fell in love with the practice of Buddhism and everything it stood for.

If you’re still reading you’re insane ! Ha I know it’s been incredibly long and I’m sure they’re questions, thank you for listening to my story and I hope this helps in some way, or at least offers some insight.

God will always be my first love; they were right when they said nothing hurts like your first love


4 Responses to “Again/Did you say CULT?”

  1. December 12, 2014 at 1:13 am

    Quite a journey you’re on, and thanks for sharing your own experiences. They are, after all, your own truth.

  2. 3 Ab.
    December 12, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Thanks so much for sharing.

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