To those who weren’t raised Independent Fundamental Baptist

I don’t think you really understand.

You didn’t spend a minimum of 35 hours a week surrounded by the same people in the same building all teaching you the same thing. 30 hours a week at the church-run school from K5-12th grade (with near-daily chapel services) plus a minimum of 5 hours spent at the same place for church services. This does not include the countless hours spent preparing for children’s ministries, attending/assisting with Vacation Bible School every summer, being the child of a teacher at said school, doing special projects, and attending revival services multiple times a year. 

You didn’t spend over 35 hours a week being taught that the (King James version) Bible was the final authority on everything, including science. That psychology and philosophy  were questionable fields because they put too much emphasis on man’s reasoning. That women were subservient to men because, in the Biblical story of Creation, Eve made a mistake. That men were responsible for the spiritual welfare of women, to the point that a father had “headship” over his daughter until he passed that onto her husband one day. That, as an impressionable 3rd grader, God saw it as sin when women wore pants (so I went home and cleaned out my drawers). That, as a tender 6th grader, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4) and all the sins of America were the cause for events like 9/11. That Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgement for the “homosexual agenda” in America. That the end of the world was near and you should make ready for Christ’s return. Did you ever discuss with your friends whether or not it was worth getting married and having kids because the Rapture was imminent and we wouldn’t have time to raise a family? 

Did your Sunday school teacher instill in you a fear that black men were dangerous sexual predators? Did your Sunday teacher ask you to sign a paper saying that you would “keep yourself pure” until marriage, even though you were too young (and uneducated) to have a clue what that meant? Did you grow up with constant body policing, because one wrong move would cause a brother to stumble and lust after you? Were you told you were responsible for what someone else thought, felt or did – to the point that a rape victim was probably “asking for it” or otherwise responsible. Were the concepts of women wearing makeup or cutting their hair topics of heated debate? Were the women you knew and respected instructed to remain silent and submissive while the men ran everything? Were those women only allowed to use their skills and talents in certain positions (teachers of children, nursery workers, musicians, secretaries) and absolutely prohibited from being in positions of leadership? Did your church seem like it was stuck in the 50’s or perhaps the Old Testament times? Did you ever hear Scripture used to say that black people were cursed, or any other support of racism? Did you hear a pastor repeatedly say the Roman Catholic Church and some other religions were evil and that adherents to other faiths were deceived? Were you told you had the truth and all other ways were Satanic and led to Hell? Did you repeatedly hear about the gruesome death of Jesus (even as a young child) and how much you owed him because of it. 

Were you constantly scrutinized and held to ridiculous standards based on radical interpreting of an ancient holy text? Were you told that all music with a pop/rock/non-marching band beat was “the Devil’s music?” That if you were riding in a car with someone playing “bad” music you should speak up and have them turn it off, because your testimony was on the line? Were you expected to judge everyone else for their choices? Were you expected to tell random strangers that they were bad people who were destined to an enternity in Hell? Were you told you were responsible for the souls of millions around the world, because if you didn’t tell them or have a good enough testimony then they wouldn’t know Jesus and be saved from Hell? Was “the will of God” constantly used as the supreme tool of manipulation against you by others?

Did your college require you to attend three religious services a week in addition to daily chapel services and many credit hours of religious classes? Was your college considered liberal because women were allowed to wear pants (not jeans though) after class hours? Did you have to have all non-skirts personally approved by a live-in supervisor in your dorm? Did you have to attend and participate in nightly Bible-reading and prayer times in your dorm? Did any of your friends face potential expulsion, strict monitoring, threats, and religious “counseling” due to admitting they were questioning their faith?

Did you ever have a therapist look at you compassionately and tell you that you grew up in a cult? Have you ever felt panicked at the idea of going to church? Does religious music which speaks of sin, salvation, blood, and death trigger a panic attack? Have you had to completely relearn how to live? Have you spent hours in therapy trying to make sense of it all? 

I undertook liberty four years ago but I will spend a lifetime recovering and relearning.


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