Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Hi, my name is Beth and this is my story:
I was born Catholic, was even attending a Catholic school when the person raising me (my uncle… no need to get into that whole story…LOL) decided to join Armstrong’s Bible Thumping League of Pretentious Bigots and Fools… otherwise known as the Worldwide Church of God. That was January 10, 1980 (3 days after my half-sister turned 7 years old.) I was 5 when I was dragged into it, and I still remember the first Day of Atonement that I went through. I kept thinking, "What did I sin this bad about?" To this day I have no clue what a child could ever do that would be redeemable only by fasting from sunset to sunset. It’s ridiculous!
I am agnostic. I believe there’s something more than us, but i don’t really care what it is. I am actually an apathetic agnostic. Being blanket trained to sit on a floor and hear someone scream about the lake of fire for 2 hours is enough for serious therapy, but I know I am not the only one. It’s kind of nice to know that, as demented as that sounds, and I think in a way I am better for a lot of the stuff i learned… or didn’t learn, but chose to do the opposite of to be more of a MORAL person to myself.
I have distanced myself from everyone that is in the cult, and aside from a few friends that were from the area I went to every saturday, I don’t talk to anyone at all. It’s pretty funny, because up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even like talking about this part of my past… just kind of hoped it would be like a bad nightmare and someday I would just get amnesia and forget all of that horrible rhetoric that they attempted to brainwash me with. One of the ones I still talk to found a website about If you grew up in the Worldwide Church of God… It’s kind of scary, but true.
Glad to know you made it out fairly unscathed as well…
I was in the Kingston, Ontario chapter or whatever you would like to call it, went to Y.O.U. camp in Orr, MN, and most of the time the FoT in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
I was not one of those wealthier cult children… I had a horrible authoritarian Bible thumper as dictator in the house I grew up in, and the things I have to remember are not pleasant. Does anyone remember having to take SHAKLEE products because HWA endorsed them? Or when we had to get a TOYOTA (might just have been in our area) because it was the "maker of godly quality vehicles"? One word: REBOUNDER. If you did not have to participate in getting one of those personal trampolines, you are fortunate. We even had to have goldfish in our homes at one point, because they were a symbol of "purity and simplicity."
I went looking for a site like this, so I could state my life and have others understand. I don’t need sympathy, but it’s nice to know someone out there can empathize with my situation! here are some other things i know were a bit off the charts for me, maybe they will register some cathartic process for you… hope you don’t need a psyche exam after this though!
Things I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but endured in the WCG:
- Being 5 yrs old and hearing in one day, there was no more birthdays, no Santa, no Easter Bunny, no Hallowe’en, nothing! All gone in one day. I remember my older half-sis and i not speaking to my uncle for the rest of that Saturday…
- Being blanket trained to sit through services, then forced to take endless sheets of notes i never read again about what the sermonette and sermon were about.
- Having to read the Bible 5 times cover to cover to make sure my life was in order. It’s just a book people! That’s it. Call me a blasphemous heretic if you like, but it’s just a book.
- Having to go over to other members’ homes and sit through hours of incredibly boring and vastly stupid talk about how "Herbert Armstrong is one of the prophets sent by God" and "Herbert Armstrong is the full embodiment of what we all should try to be" *rolls eyes* Yeah… I would rather do something like hurl myself into a brick wall than attempt to be anything like that freak.
- Having older men leer at you because you and a few other young females are the only "chosen ones" that are available in the cult. The worst was when I was 14 and there was a 63 year old guy… To this day I remember having to go out to dinner with him and listen for hours on end as he bragged about himself. But i couldn’t date anyone near my age… NOOOOO! That would be considered a show of sexual advancement and i would not be regarded well in the eyes of those who were ‘above us’… EVERYONE’S EQUAL!
- Lecture after lecture about my reputation (I didn’t drink or smoke or do drugs or go out or anything! I was an ‘A’ student, but if my grade dropped below a ‘B-‘ there would be a lecture about the "right way, and the worldly way" – at least I developed good study habits. Makes life easier for me now when I have to learn something new.
- Geographically touring all over Canada trying to get away from my past. As i said before, I have very little contact with those in my past, and there are only a few I trust… even then, there’s only one I trust completely, because he left the cult (his family started when he was 14) and i know he won’t go back…
- Waking up in the middle of the night sometimes with songs running through my head "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken" and stuff like that… but then again, I watched a lot of Little House on the Prairie when I was little, and "Bringing in the Sheaves" does the same thing… LOL
- That almost euphoric feeling knowing you will soon be out of Y.E.S. and into Y.O.U. … how sad!
- Those freaky pictures in those Bible Story books… Nightmare city!
- Not being allowed to watch Sesame Street due to it’s "graphic portrayal" the "wrong way" and how it stunts children’s minds by showing images too fast… They actually thought there was subliminal information being passed! nothing was subliminal in Sesame Street! It’s a big bird… nope… I was forced to watch BIG BEAK instead… Cheap knockoff…
- Getting together with ‘friends’ once a year at the Feast and trying to do as many things as you could that were unacceptable in your own area without being caught…
- Knowing someone in the cult for 11 yrs, "marrying them" (the marriage was performed by a mininster who did not have his certificate, so the marriage I found out after a year was never legalized… thankfully!) and having them beat you in the name of Christ… I hated to go to services with bruises, because the minister and elders wouldn’t reprimand him for hitting me, they would question why I wasn’t a "better wife" and "what did I do to provoke him this time?" That was the turning point for me.
- Getting ‘counselled’ for baptism, and being told, "Your heart and mind are too opinionated. You have a nature about you that will probably challenge everything, and it’s not right for you at this time. Try again when you are willing to submit and realize you are nothing without the CHURCH." (you would have thought I would have been upset at that statement, but I actually laughed at the minister. He promptly told me I could leave.)
- The aforementioned SHAKLEE, REBOUNDER, GOLDFISH, TOYOTA, and many other dumb things that were forced upon us
- Having to stand out in the hallway every morning while they recited the Lord’s Prayer in school (well I wasn’t alone, cause there was a Jehovah’s Witness kid there who had to stand out during the National Anthem… we just talked for 5 minutes together.)
- Days of Unleavened Bread. Trying to explain a Matzoh "sandwich" to classmates
- Tithing on $5 a month allowance… all three tithes… I would take a resounding $20 or so to the Feast of Tabernacles *WHOOPIE!* LOL
- Having the person raising you write endless poems about Herbert Armstrong, and having to recite them at the winter potluck (otherwise known to the "REAL WORLD" as Christmas Dinner!)
- Having to "go out of town" on Hallowe’en and knowing the house was going to get egged. Secretly wishing I could have been one of the ones egging it for being so dumb.
- Never seeing my mother.
- There are a lot more, but I think that’s a good start…
*Wow, I just realized I am still a bit bitter about this cult!*
Please feel free to post my information, if you are still updating your site… Thanks
Beth email@example.com if anyone wants to contact me