James

I was born in 1966. I grew up in this church, and I will regret that the rest of my life. We lived in Monroe, Louisiana. I think back on those days and only wish it had never happened. My parents were I guess weak minded, or something, they never questioned anything, just did as they were told. The first blow to my family, and I guess childhood was that my mother had been married before my father. The church did not allow second marriages at the time, so my parents were filing for divorce. I was around 9 years old. This really stressed my parents’ relationship. But, before it was all done, the church changed their view on it so they did not have to divorce. But the damage was already done.

As time went on I don’t think they ever really got over the fact they must still be living in sin. We did all the holy days, none of the holidays, and we were distant from family like Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents etc. My parents said they were not chosen as we were to go to the place of saftey, and they might hurt me or my brother if we got to close, because they would be jealous. We NEVER went to the dentist, or doctor, and all illnesses were treated with home remedies. When I was 13 and got super sick during the Days of Unleavened Bread, with tonsils and severe flu. Still they only got pills, no shots or surgery.

My mother felt like she was such a bad person because of her first marriage. Our pastor would come a couple times a week to see her, and fortify her fear and depression. I never understood why we changed pastors so much, but the last one I saw was Brisco Elliot! I was 16, and he was the new pastor. I am 44 now. He was very hard on my mother: she had gained weight, smoked cigaretts, and remember we still had the issue of the 1st husband. He did not like the smoking. A month before her 47th birthday, Mr. Elloit came to the house to put oils on her and pray. I still to this day only remember a few times in her life when she was happy. Well, because of the weight gain from trying to quit, and still smoking he decided to use some tough love on her: he kicked her out of the church. Being so brainwashed this crushed her: she was so worried about not going with her family to the safe place, and that we would not get to go because of her. She would tell us, the others in the world would kill me and my brother to get her and dad to switch to their religion, and all she wanted was for us to be safe, and because of her past sins we would not be.

So on May 17th, we went off to school. It was her 47th birthday. My brother and I got home as usual at 3:45. Mom took a nap in the afternoons during the soap operas she loved, but, because of the nap never saw me come home! I had asked some of her friends from the church to come over that afternoon, but none would, so I quickly as a teen could made a cake from mix. And she loved stuffed peppers, so I tried to make that too. Well, the cake slid over some, and the peppers did not look like hers, but they were done. I went to her room, and when I opened the door I was met with a sight I will never forget. My mother had shot herself in the head.

I have not been to a church since, and my brother still lives with me after all these years. I have to say the next few years were very tough. The church had nothing to do with us, and as I said we did not even know our family! I have emailed the church and written angry letters from time to time. The last email I got from them said for me to just grow up: things happen and we move on from there.

I am no longer able to keep my mouth shut, I have to do something, this CULT almost destroyed my life, and it DID destroy my family.

21 thoughts on “James”

  1. Dear James,

    I am at a loss as to what to say, I do not know how to respond to your heartbreaking account of your time in the WCG, and which led to your mum’s suicide. I have been following this site for the past 18 months but this is the first time I have felt compelled to comment. I was born into the U.K. branch of the WCG, and its negative effects have plagued me for over 20 years (I am now 35 and utterly non-religious). However, reading your account makes my own experiences fade into insignificance, and I guess I just wanted to reach out to you in some way. I have no words of wisdom, all I can say is that your account touched me deeply and I wanted to let you know that I really feel for you.
    With warm regards, Suzy B.

  2. Dear James,

    I think one of the things which troubles me to this day was how my dad, an intelligent and self-educated person, could ever have allowed himself to be drawn into such a cult. It completely baffles me. Then, when he and my mother left the church approximately 15 years ago I was doubly baffled, not to mention angry. After all, we did not have a choice about attending the church and observing its ridiculous rules and rituals, and were subjected to what can only be described as spiritual abuse throughout our formative years. To this day I cannot quite trust my dad’s judgement (although this is no bad thing). And, perversely, I owe my dad thanks because had I not been brainwashed and then smashed through it, I would not be the critical thinker that I am today. At the same time however, I have perhaps become overly cynical regarding spirituality more generally because I am terrified of taking on yet another set of someone else’s beliefs. Forgive me, I am rambling… Suzy B

  3. I am so critical when it comes to religion. All religions. Did growing up this way make me stronger? Yes. I have done therapy, it helped. I am not a mean person, but, anger is not the word I to say how I feel, even after all these years. Mr. Elliott said to me three years ago he would still make the same decision then about my mother. That he had done the right thing, so her taking her life was just one of those things that happen.

  4. James,

    I’m not a lawyer, so I really can’t answer that. But even if you can and you won, it wouldn’t bring back your mom. I know there’s no “just getting over” something like this, but your pain and anger would probably serve more good in the world if you put them to constructive use by educating others about the hazards of believing blindly, or something else that gives meaning to the hardships you’ve suffered.

  5. Just a thought, I have fought that church and all others my entire life, I don’t know who James is without the pain, nor the anger.

  6. Go for it, James! I’d love to see that cult get hit hard where it means the most to them–their pockets! I’m so sorry to read your story. I hate that it happened to you. I, too, grew up in that cult. I remember hearing through the years that a couple of my parents’ friends from church committed suicide when leaving or after leaving. I can’t say enough how much I think that church is so evil. I say–if you can, try suing them!! I’ve thought about it myself just to mess with them & recoup years of money my dad gave them. But you have more of a reason.

    I left the church in my teens (thanks to my mom who was not such a \believer\) and refused to touch a Bible until I was 28. It was like a lightbulb going off! God is not like the head of the Wizard of Oz damning all of us! LOL! Anyway–about the only thing I can think of to be thankful for from being raised in that cult is a lifelong friend (who’s no longer a member either) and a healthy skepticism and distrust of people in authority or power.

    And I’m luckier I guess–I don’t think it has affected me like my friend. I don’t feel that pull or whatever about damnation or guilt or anything. Christ represents freedom!!! And I’m not a church-goer, but consider myself spiritual. (Maybe I don’t belong on this board because I still believe in God–just not the kind of God from that effin’ cult!!)

    I’m so sorry for your loss!! For your ownself–don’t let the bitterness eat you up inside–that would seem to let them win even more. Try a lawsuit if you want–but don’t let it consume you!!

  7. Thanks Scoots, Going to be a long shot, but, I have to try, Had to leave the face book page, someone brough up New York and the win on equal rights, I fought for that and will keep fighting. I dont think religion will ever have a place in my life again. ut I will never say there are not good people in all of them. Just a power, money hungry double whammy to me.

  8. Your account is very sad. I don’t see how you could sue the Church (WCG), does it even exist any more. It’s all changed now, and split and splintered or whatever. Sounds like you mom needed help and understanding, not punishment, but at least she had a wonderful son. Your love and concern for her is expressed strongly in your story.
    WCG was pathetic at helping people with problems, it was all about ‘the power of positive thinking’, and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.

  9. I dont know what to say. This cult ruined my percepction of life. I have been a person lost from what I was taught. The guilt the horrow of it all is unbeleivable.
    Was spanked constantly for anything. They believe in breaking your spirit. Every Sabbath or Saterday was the most hated Day of week. Had to drive for hours to find a church. Spend all our money , that my poor father made for us,he worked very hard to support us my mother gave it all to the church! Shes still beleives the resurection is tommorow. I m 50 and this cult is a specter. Thats why I turned to drugs , achohol, sex. & Things I m not proud of. I dont push any beliefs on people
    & so glad I can express my real feelings. I feel so sorry for any child raised in this cult. My mother is 75 still sending her tithes. 30%.
    This a very rural area many land owners have gave the land (worth millions) to this cult. WHEN DO I GET MY LIFE BACK?

  10. It makes me sick how much I can relate to these kinds of stories. I know what the terror is all about of thinking about the “place of safety” and all the other stuff the Worldwide Church of Cult put in people’s heads. I have broken away, but still have the scars myself, and I’ve grown to see the falsity of hypocricy of religion.

    Hearing about all the damage that was done, having experienced it also makes me cry, litterally.

  11. I woke up this morning searching to see if there was anyone out there who had suffered from the religious practices of the worldwide church of god and here I found you (the children who grew up under this stuff)

    First, I want to say to you James, you are not alone. Hurt is hurt no matter who sends it or who receives it. I really don’t know anyone who grew up in wwcg around the late 70’s and early 80’s to not suffer personally, including myself.

    I was a victim of molestation from 7 to age 13 in that church. I really believe that I struggle with social relationships because of those religious practices. I remember a 16 year old who decided to enter into the second resurrection with her friends so she took her life. I remember being called into a room as an elementary aged girl and was interrogated and questioned about something my older brother did along with some other teenagers.

    That religion left me and others in my age group with feelings of exploitation, inferiority, racial discrimination, anxiousness and condemnation.

    James, I had to let go. I had to learn how to live. I had to learn how to fight to keep my peace. I had to learn how to fight for joy. I had to learn how to not live with regrets. I would live every 12 seconds of my life as a nightmare. I had to forgive every pastor general, pastor, elder, prejudiced adults, my mom, violator of my innocence, my coaches (Y.O.U.),and myself. Those of you who grew up around that madness know that I can go on and on . I overcame all that mess by living one day at a time.

    I left that church first chance I got at age 18. Now at age 34, I can say that the first 22 years of my life was triumphant. Now I look back and can get very angry, too.

    But there are some of us who are making it out of that horrific time of our childhood being stolen.

    In spite of it all, I am happy to be alive. I am waiting for the best part of my life.

  12. I’ve spoken witha few members of the various offshoots recently and it seems that brain washing by a cult is harder to get rid of than being dunked in tar. I have had friendly corrospondences witha few pastors after having asked them a basic question here and there and the auro of WWCG is still present in those who will never recover but actually think that, as my mother put it, “HWA is God’s chosen opostle and end time prophet.” For me when anyone says anthing close to those words, conversation is over.

    I have personally found that all osrts of people think they feel a calling and the most unreliable and undependable creature to walk the earth is man, who sellects many Gods and paths and with all of them, is sincere, yet they are all contradictory.

    I have personally gone toward deism, the belief that nature teaches us of a creator, but based on personal experiences I have no faith in man and his words. Thbere may come a day when that changes, but looking back I can see that my days in WWCG were littered with untruths and the dominations of ungodly men who were either willingly or unwillingly teaching the words of a SELF professed dictator who was nothing more than a vehicle by which other religions were copied.

    I truly feel deep sorrow and compassion for any young people in particular who’s lives were impacted, and continue to be impacted by the offshoots of this messed up church. There were members who were turly heartfelt Christians, and that is why they followed what they thought was truth. I think I feel sorriest for them. I knew some good men and good pastors, and some who needed to go to prison at the very least.

    Hopefully the collapse of the church sent a clear message to enough people.

    Mike, former member of the Grand Junction Colorado Church.

  13. I would like to thank you all for your comments, and encouragement. I still have anger issues and depression. But I found a therapist I trust and am making progress. And I have the most supportive partner on the planet. Can’t tell ya how much that means to me. Wishing everyone warm hugs, and a happy life. And thanks again, it is a strange comfort to know you all are.out there. We survived, and I am very proud of that. James

  14. I understand the anger issues and depression bigtime. I have both of those problems. The depression almost kills me at times, and there are times when I am sure I will ultimately eat a bullet. I have gotten to where I really cant stand religion. I have come to see religion as clay, with a clay God who is molded and shaped to fit the needs and wants fot he person who ascribes to him, and the bible is more of a stage prop. People dont take what it says seriously and they dont see that their actions speak loudly.

    Religious people range from the ones who barely believe or embrace anything to the hardcores like the ones at Demon Busters who believe that everything is sinful and related to paganism. It was incredible when I found that web site that so much of it sounded like HWA and it was so hardcore. It makes me sick thinking of the people who’s lives are damaged because they believe this stuff and as a result they change their family’s lives and hurt themselves because they falsely believe that is what God wants. Do as the minister says without question, obey unconditionally, do not think. Smash your kid’s records and burn clothing, dont hang around the Goth kids because they work Satan’s work, yada yada, so it goes. Can you imagine what their “heaven” must be like? With a condemning God who sits on a throne in harsh judgement, banning most things because of some pagan two thousand years ago, not permitting any recreation and only allowing soft music of praise. Wow. According to Christians I’m going to hell. Maybe it’s better that way.

    I gave up trying to reason with them. If there is a God he knows what I think and how I feel. Maybe one day he will clear up the confusion, or maybe one day I will be just another body in the graveyard like everyone else.

  15. I am so sorry to read your story..how awful for you and your family. How torn, alone and depressed your poor mother must have been. So tragic and so sad. I am sorry.

  16. All i can say is :wow:…i have found a home where ppl feel as i do. I suffered the loss of my father(non member) and the only thing i found any happiness in was playing basketball. And was pretty good (a team) until friday night or saturday games, which , after u miss 2, you are no longer the a team, or on the team anymore. My mother started dating only 3 months after my dad died and moved me from a small town in Catahoula parish, LA, to a whole different world. Depression didn’t even begin to explain it. My step dad was in the church, but still smoked and was a daily drunk, plus smoked pot every day. His brother would talk about me in a sexual way daily from the time i was 12, but they were so strict with me that i wanted to kill myself. I still to this day fight the teachings of this church in my mind and i quit at 16(i’m 44 now)…..I even have a family member who remembers when i was little(under 5 yrs old) who would feel my head after church and ask how i got the “knots” on my head and mom would tell them the pastor “thumped” me on the head when i fell asleep during church!!! Briscoe Elliott told us we shouldn’t even wear deodorant if we bathed enough, we wouldn’t need it! As a small child i believed Christ died for our sins and these so called days and works were a buncha crap! These ppl hardly got dressed without asking the leaders how and what they should do. It truly was a cult for sure and i’m too tired to say what all this did to me….i’m not fully over it now, but if any of you care to vent to someone who was there and knows, i’m here!pumpkindew06@sbcglobal.net……it truly made me think i was the only one who felt this way for many years, and reading these posts has helped me feel that i am not alone!

  17. i was also raised in the WWCG cult in the early 60’s and 70’s. i am now 57 . i was in the church for 20 years. i never received a birthday card or christmas present until i ran away from home like most of us teens did. i remember one day the minister came to our house unexpectedly to measures my brothers hair and made them get a hair cut. it was touching their ears. them they went through my sister and i clothes ( which we always got from the rumage sale at the church) and threw out all our bellbottoms . i was made to quit school in 10th grade. i got a babysitting job at 15 and had to give 30% of my earning to the church. i was making 50 cents a hour. i couldnt get a real job because i never graduated and could not work on the sabbath friday night sunset threw saturday night sunset. i was beaten on a regular basis… to break our spirit, our minister actually made big black paddles with holes drilled in them and passed out to all the parents to beat us with. i buried it in the backyard first chance i got. moved 17 times in 5 years trying to find a school that would let us attend without getting vacinated. i heard my best friend who at the time was 8 die in the other room because her appendix burst and was not taken to a doctor.( she died because she didn’t have enough faith in god) per our minister. i could go on for days on the abuse this church put us through. i am proud to say i am an atheist now. i wish there was a way to get all the abused survivors together to talk about what Herbert W Armstrong has done to destroyed so many families. that is the painful truth…

  18. James, I just read your narrative. While I also endured a problematic childhood in the WCG—I was nine when my father began to listen to GTA—none of my sad or absurd life experiences approaches the tragedy which you suffered. While I still believe in a divinity or divinities, I don’t trust any church or religious system. I’m now 60-something and clearly remember so many experiences in WCG. I finally decided that if WCG or its offshoots were of God, then I couldn’t love or respect that being, and I haven’t changed my mind.

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