The Legacy of the Worldwide Church of God

What it was like growing up in a cult and its impact on my life and others like me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Up close and personal continued...

People dont understand how other people get taken in by cults. They think they must be dumb, or losers, or weak. That is why I write this from my personal experience. I want them to know how the manipulation works. I want them to know that when someone, like me, is raised hearing the things I heard, learning the things I learned that their lives are shaped by what they hear and what they learn.

As I grew up my life was shaped by The Worldwide Church of God. Earlier I discussed what my life was like from about 5 years old to 10. But as I entered the preteens things took a different turn. It became an awkward time. I didnt fit in with normal school kids because of my religion and gawkiness in general. "Worldly" kids questioned my religion. When I was smaller and eager to please I would give people a mini religious lesson on why I didnt celebrate Christmas or why I kept Saturday as a sabbath. But as a preteen I was embarrassed and teased by the other kids. I retreated into the solitude of my room and stayed there for hours at a time. The church continually preached that the end of the world was near and that we had to prepare ourselves. "To watch always" so that we wouldnt get left behind in the tribulation. During those hours of solitude I often daydreamed about having a life. Growing up, traveling, marrying, living in my own house. I didnt know if I ever would really grow up before the tribulation and so I would spend all day just trying to imagine what growing up would be like. I cried because I was afraid of dying. I felt unworthy and sinful because of the past abuse. My mother finally noticed that I spent all my time in my room and decided I needed piano lessons to keep me busy. I then would daydream of becoming a famous muscian because I knew in my reality that would never happen.

By the time I entered my teens I sought the companionship of the other kids in the Worldwide Church of God. Scince I didnt fit in at school I wanted to fit in somewhere and so I started to concentrate on the church. Suddenly I found favor with my mother and peers. It became important to be churchly. I studied the bible fervently and started taking notes during the sermons. The ministers had an aura about them. I tried not to be noticed by the ministers. They were stern and authoritarian and beyond rebuke. I tired hard to be perfect. And perfect meant following the laws and doctrines of the church completely. We heard 2 hour sermons about many things. Avoiding the appearance of evil. Seperating ourselves from unbelievers. Not thinking lustfully. Not saying darn or jimeny crickets because those were just replacements for saying damn and Jesus Christ. Not questioning authority. Sacrificing and long suffering because in the long run it brought us closer to God. Preparing for the world tomorrow and escaping to Petra the supposed place of safety for Gods chosen members. All the things the world would suffer for its sins. Sometimes I spent more time on all the things the Worldwide Church of God taught than school work.

By the time I was 17 other parents in the church had told me they wanted the other children to spend time with me because I was such a good example. In fact such a good darn church goer that the congregation took up a collection to send me out of state to the summer camp run by the church. My mother cried she was so proud. Thats the only time I remember my mother crying because she was proud and pleased with me. The only other time I made her cry was in disappointment and she has been displeased and disappointed ever scince. That happened once I left the church.

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