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What was the eye opener for you? - ready_to_leave - 03-27-2017

What was the issue or situation that made you realize that the IFB world wasn't what you thought? For me it was the issue of gay marriage. For most of my life, I had believed it was a sin to be gay, despite having a gay sister. What changed my mind was when my sister's partner was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. I thought about how awful it would be if she was lying on her death bed in the hospital and my sister wasn't allowed to be with her because some people thought it was wrong and wouldnt allow it. I started getting really annoyed with the sermons and Sunday school lessons railing against homosexuality. Who are THEY to judge and criticize someone as wonderful as my sister and her partner, who have been together longer than a lot of people have been married. Once the curtain started to fall, I saw so many things that made me realize I needed to get out.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - First Time Caller - 03-27-2017

Seeing my church pursue, harass, and ultimately discipline women for leaving abusive marriages. Seeing people stripped from their ministry roles because they refused to submit to the church and see a counselor that the church assigned them to see, even if they had extremely bad vibes about that person, even if they were willing see a different counselor in the church instead.  No appeal process or options available.  Watching as confidential and embarrassing information about people's private lives became gossip.  When an opportunity arose for me to try to correct some wrongs done in the past, being told by a counselor to stop pursuing it immediately, simply because he disagreed with my perspective. Favoritism among some members based on their status, income, family connections, etc.  Watching verses taken grossly out of context in order to fit their agenda (i.e. - The story of Hagar being used to counsel a woman who left her husband; God told Hagar to go back home and submit herself to Sarah's abuse, so this woman was to follow God's command to Hagar and return to her husband.)  Being asked to give access to my checking and financial information to a counselor so that he could help determine what my "idols" were, and then being told that my children, God's gift to me, are my idols.  Being pressured to put my daughter into church counseling to cure her of Tourette's syndrome and ADHD.  Having a friend who received counseling for her anxiety tell me that she still struggles with anxiety, but now she has a great deal of guilt for not being able to conquer her "sin."  When I suggested medication, she admitted that she probably needed it but was afraid of getting in trouble.

Sitting with men who claim to be more spiritual than us "little people," baring my soul at their request, and trusting that they had good intentions, while they look me in the eye and boldly lie, and then ask if they can pray for me.

Seeing Christian ministries lay off employees with no notice, giving them no reason, and leaving them in horrible situations with no apparent concern for their well being.

Seeing Christians be divisive, argumentative, downright hateful and cruel to other Christians because they don't agree with their particular interpretation of the Bible.  Realizing that they are either ignorant of the pain that's in the world, or they simply don't care.

Realizing that people who claim to love God seem to have no more concern for the hurts of others than those who don't believe in God at all.  Watching how they are content to let the end justify the means as they pursue revenge for those who have hurt them, not caring if they hurt others in the process.  Seeing them participate in wounding others with their words, causing great distress to those who are already wounded, essentially reabusing the abused.  Sharing private and embarrassing things publicly, calling names, ensuring that those ugly names and those private details are publicly available to harm that person in the future, because revenge tastes so sweet to them.  And when they've had their revenge, they feel no need to try to make things right in any way, simply moving on with their lives, having accomplished their goals; no regrets.

Seeing evil people protected and excuses made for them.

Knowing that "Men of God" can do unspeakable things that they know are pure evil, and not feel any guilt or remorse.  They can live a double life, pretend to be godly, and fool just about anybody.

Realizing that Bible versions, music standards, and pet doctrines are more important to people than doing something meaningful in the lives of those they believe are unworthy of God's love.

I feel like many Christians have no desire to become the good Samaritans that Christ implored them to be.  They see someone wounded and in need of help, lying on the road, and they not only "pass by the other way" but before they do so, they make sure to kick him in the teeth before they cross the street and pass on.

This is harsh, I realize.  But it's honest.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - ready_to_leave - 03-27-2017

(03-27-2017, 11:26 AM)First Time Caller Wrote: Seeing my church pursue, harass, and ultimately discipline women for leaving abusive marriages. Seeing people stripped from their ministry roles because they refused to submit to the church and see a counselor that the church assigned them to see, even if they had extremely bad vibes about that person, even if they were willing see a different counselor in the church instead.  No appeal process or options available.  Watching as confidential and embarrassing information about people's private lives became gossip.  When an opportunity arose for me to try to correct some wrongs done in the past, being told by a counselor to stop pursuing it immediately, simply because he disagreed with my perspective. Favoritism among some members based on their status, income, family connections, etc.  Watching verses taken grossly out of context in order to fit their agenda (i.e. - The story of Hagar being used to counsel a woman who left her husband; God told Hagar to go back home and submit herself to Sarah's abuse, so this woman was to follow God's command to Hagar and return to her husband.)  Being asked to give access to my checking and financial information to a counselor so that he could help determine what my "idols" were, and then being told that my children, God's gift to me, are my idols.  Being pressured to put my daughter into church counseling to cure her of Tourette's syndrome and ADHD.  Having a friend who received counseling for her anxiety tell me that she still struggles with anxiety, but now she has a great deal of guilt for not being able to conquer her "sin."  When I suggested medication, she admitted that she probably needed it but was afraid of getting in trouble.

Sitting with men who claim to be more spiritual than us "little people," baring my soul at their request, and trusting that they had good intentions, while they look me in the eye and boldly lie, and then ask if they can pray for me.

Seeing Christian ministries lay off employees with no notice, giving them no reason, and leaving them in horrible situations with no apparent concern for their well being.

Seeing Christians be divisive, argumentative, downright hateful and cruel to other Christians because they don't agree with their particular interpretation of the Bible.  Realizing that they are either ignorant of the pain that's in the world, or they simply don't care.

Realizing that people who claim to love God seem to have no more concern for the hurts of others than those who don't believe in God at all.  Watching how they are content to let the end justify the means as they pursue revenge for those who have hurt them, not caring if they hurt others in the process.  Seeing them participate in wounding others with their words, causing great distress to those who are already wounded, essentially reabusing the abused.  Sharing private and embarrassing things publicly, calling names, ensuring that those ugly names and those private details are publicly available to harm that person in the future, because revenge tastes so sweet to them.  And when they've had their revenge, they feel no need to try to make things right in any way, simply moving on with their lives, having accomplished their goals; no regrets.

Seeing evil people protected and excuses made for them.

Knowing that "Men of God" can do unspeakable things that they know are pure evil, and not feel any guilt or remorse.  They can live a double life, pretend to be godly, and fool just about anybody.

Realizing that Bible versions, music standards, and pet doctrines are more important to people than doing something meaningful in the lives of those they believe are unworthy of God's love.

I feel like many Christians have no desire to become the good Samaritans that Christ implored them to be.  They see someone wounded and in need of help, lying on the road, and they not only "pass by the other way" but before they do so, they make sure to kick him in the teeth before they cross the street and pass on.

This is harsh, I realize.  But it's honest.

That's a lot of heavy stuff and I have witnessed a lot of the same things. Once the curtain fell, so many things were revealed to me in a way I had never noticed before and everything, big and small, just drove me crazy. It's like unraveling a sweater.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - WalrusWrangler - 03-27-2017

It was a long, slow process for me. The first thing that really made me say, "Huh?" was their reasoning for opposing music. As a kid and teenager I was a hardcore fundy. I wanted to learn the whys behind our beliefs and become an apologist, take the fight to the world and the fake Christians. Then in my fundy high school I got the chance to learn in Bible class, and I was unimpressed with what I saw. The reason to oppose music is that Ephesians and Colossians both have a verse that says, "Speaking in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs." I noticed, however, that it didn't forbid other types of music in that verse or its context. Their reasoning made no sense.

I buried it in my mind, though. I decided that their handling of scripture was wrong, but they were still right about music. Look at all the hellions who played and listened to worldly music! Of course it must be evil. I was unsettled, but I buried it. I had similar responses to their reasoning for KJVO and the rapture. I was never willing to voice my concerns, though. The best I could muster would be, "What should I say to someone who says ____?" Their answers didn't satisfy me, but I dared not question their authority.

In college (a state school, not a Bible college) I stuck to the fundy path, but my cognitive dissonance was growing stronger. I had friends from non-IFB Christian circles and even non-Christian friends. They didn't try to persuade me away from the IFB, but I was ashamed to even bring up the IFB distinctives like music and KJVO. I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on if it came to a debate. Still I didn't waver because, in my mind, the IFB was still right. Their logic was often wrong, and I didn't like their attitude most of the time, but the core was still right. To deny it would be to throw out almost two decades of my life, lived for the IFB.

You could say my eyes were open a smidge during this time. Occasionally something would jar them completely open, but I always threw my hand up to hide what I saw. They never stayed open wide long.

The real eye opener was seeing a church more extreme than my own. I moved to a new city after college for a job, and the IFB church I attended there was of a Hyles flavor. My original church was more country, more relaxed. I was an outsider in the new place, and for two years I was miserable. This misery culminated with me being kicked out of the choir for going to a movie theater (a rule that they didn't actually tell me existed for choir members). I realized that I would never be at home in that church, and I saw all the things that I had written off as small disagreements as the large barriers that they were. This clear look at that church gave me boldness to take a look at the IFB as a whole, including the church I had once called home. I studied scripture, prayed, and thought hard for several months before finally deciding to wash my hands of the IFB. This forum helped a lot.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - Josh - 03-27-2017

While I was affected by the shame-based culture and picked up my fair share of internalized issues from my time in the IFB (from when I was eight-ish to 19 or so), my parents didn't agree with some of the weirder stuff, like King James onlyism, strict music standards, or dress codes (though I also benefitted significantly in the latter thanks to male privilege), so I had a bastion of sanity on those matters at home. What led to us leaving the IFB was not so much the doctrinal side, where we mostly held our noses and looked the other way, but the authoritarian behavior of the new pastor that our church hired. He wouldn't tolerate any disagreement on any matter, no matter how small, and it was when he started stripping my parents of the responsibilities and roles that they'd held, that they realized that there was no room for them in the church any longer. I had already checked out mentally, so leaving bodily wasn't an issue, and I joined my parents at the not-IFB Baptist church they had started attending while I was away at [secular] college.

Curiously, my process of mentally checking out from evangelicalism has followed a continuity from leaving the IFB. Tangential to Ready to Leave's experience, my own [mental] departure (I still attend the aforementioned Baptist church) was precipitated by the outcome of dealing with the internalized shame and self-loathing that was brought upon by coming to the realization - at the ripe young age of 25 - that I was gay (I still am, in case you were wondering). Seeing how the evangelical Baptist church I attend talks about and treats people who are out of the closet, whether celibate or "practicing" (LOL), put too great a strain on my relationship with evangelicalism for there to be any real relationship left by the time I had come to terms with who I am. So yeah, there's that...


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - Durandalski - 03-27-2017

I worked at a shelter for troubled teens straight out of fundy U. I was pretty hurt from how I had been treated but was still deeply indoctrinated. I hadn't processed it at all yet. My new co-workers took me under their wing and offered support, love, and healing I desperately needed. Among them were folks from Lutheran churches, holiness churches, a pentacostal pastor, and varying non-denominational backgrounds. At first I was polite and friendly and avoided talking about faith. But all of them lived their faith out in such a real way that I quickly realized they really exemplified Christ in a way I hadn't seen before. They didn't need petty rules and standards. They were living out the two great commandments to love God and love your neighbor. They all had different doctrines but focused on their shared love for Christ and people. We had sweet fellowship. I could never really be fundy after that. It took another year to fully examine my beliefs and free my mind, but those good folks were my wake up call.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - leo the lamb - 03-28-2017

I grew up bouncing around from one Russian church to another, mostly Pentecostal but also a Charismatic one for a short time and a Baptist one or two. None of the sermons specifically stuck, but the angry preaching style and guilt-and-shame emphasis got to me on a deep level. My siblings and I would chuckle at the more ridiculous rules and ideas like 'no chewing gum during church' or 'shiny dress shoes are holiest', but I figured some of the other stuff was obviously legitimate (don't drink, don't smoke, don't have premarital sex, in fact don't think about sex until you're married, and don't believe lies the world tells such as evolution). All that stuff was minor compared to the guilt for being human and the fear of a capricious God. In my teen years we stopped attending Russian churches and went to a non-denom American church for a while that was generically Evangelical in doctrine with an emphasis on grace. That, along with Adventures in Oddyssey and various radio preachers, was a breath of fresh air, and I felt like I was getting my theological and spiritual shit together. After we again moved, we visited Russian churches of a familiar flavor, and some of my brothers and I really got into internet ministries and videos like Prophecy Club, Kent Hovind and Gail Riplinger. I became KJVO, was happy to have some YEC 'proofs' against evilution, and dove headlong into the abyss of End Times prophecy and fearmongering. It took a side trail into a different kind of internet ministry for me to begin to see the folly of works salvation and endless arbitrary rules. These new people pulled the curtain on the end times bullshit, and yet they crafted their own narrative with their own end times predictions and 'revelations'. And they were against pretty much all other ministries. Extra-separated. "The Remnant". I thought I had found my home, my tribe. But, unable to really fit in and feel what they felt, I started on my long winding journey of doubt and disillusionment, walking away from all 'ministries' to give my soul a rest. This period of rest was helpful, though I never could keep from looking back and wishing that I could be part of the breakaway flock. Eventually the distance allowed me to look at things more objectively and see how scarily fundy and cult-like this group was, though they exposed so much of the same in other groups. I'm not there yet, and there are flashes of self-doubt and wondering where I missed a step. The end-times hole is deep, but I can see some light now and am beginning to feel human again (this time without shame). The eye-opening ideas that I'm currently exploring include radical self-love and Pagan mythology. Being able to trust anyone again, though, that's a tough one. In the end I find that I have only myself to trust. In that context, I believe I've always been the one to open my eyes, taking in a little reality at a time as I felt I was ready for.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - Miss TTU Runner-Up - 03-29-2017

It was a pretty slow process for me. It started in my fundy high school English class. It was senior year, I think. We had to do a research paper in a controversial topic, and I chose to write about different versions of the Bible (this would only be controversial at a fundy school, of course!). My research convinced me that non-KJV versions did not deny the virgin birth or any of the other stuff I had heard. Thus began the slippery slope! At Fundy U, a friend introduced me to the music of U2. She played their song "40," and asked what was wrong with it. I couldn't see anything bad about it, especially since it was based on Bible verses. Also at Fundy U, I was invited to a skating party. I had never been roller skating before. When a friend heard that, she told me I needed to wear jeans to protect my legs if I fell. It made sense, so I went out and bought my first pair of jeans that afternoon.
One thing that made a big difference for me was taking a class in persuasion at Fundy U. It was a public speaking class, and it opened my eyes to the tactics used by many preachers (that wasn't the goal, but it's what I got from it!). I have never listened to a preacher, a politician, or a car salesperson in the same way since!
There are many other events that led to my departure. Our church got a new pastor when I was 11, and he was the worst kind of IFB preacher. I was the editor of the Fundy U yearbook, and got to see "behind the curtain." I met a vibrant Christian who did not follow the IFB rules. I could go on and on.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - myotch - 03-30-2017

Fundy Prep. It's a paradox how a fundamentalist Christian sect insist on self-study of Scripture while being at odds with Scripture on many teachings and cultural aspects, while holding an incredible amount of "traditions of men" while insulting every other denominations' traditions.

It was also a place where they were producing fundies of the future. If you see how sausage is made, you'd probably lose a taste for it.


RE: What was the eye opener for you? - captain_solo - 04-24-2017

Strangely, as I grew up and went to Fundy U I gradually ended up in increasingly less nutty school institutions, so I had the chance to process some of the crazy from my earlier years in fundy day schools that were not really affiliated with my church and were much more extreme.  After school was done, moved to an unfamiliar state for work, there were no churches from my particular fundy circles, so I ended up in 2 different churches affiliated with Bob Jones University over a period of about a decade.  This looking back was the beginning of the end.   



Leader Worship - I didn't experience this growing up, but a later foray into Bob Jones affiliated churches shocked and woke me up
Strange inconsistencies in discernment:  
Part 1: Sex - Specifically obsession with a variety of stupid minor external cultural mores while excusing, covering up, and pandering about serious sexual offenses (including more than one criminal sex abuse situation) both among congregants and pastors in every BJU style churches I ended up in.    
Part 2: Music - "contemporary music is from the devil" (as you know he was the head worship leader in heaven so he knows a thing or two about the drums) while their own publishers (Majesty, the Wilds, etc) just cranked out poorly written stuff the sounded exactly like 5 year old CCM and make a mint off their captive audiences by claiming to be the only ones producing modern "God-honoring" music.  
*I got a bit nauseous writing those two...

Been gone for quite a few years now.  There are a couple pastors at my current church who have come out of fundamentalism.  One said to me recently "It was a long time ago, and I was quickly shunned after leaving school because I didn't stay on the shining path"  He expresses a great deal of sadness about the movement, especially around lost friendships and people that have only recently begun to talk to him again after decades.   Also, he is regularly shocked when he meets someone like me who grew up in fundamentalism and gotten out but hasn't lost their faith.  It seems like its a rare thing.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons this site resonates with us so strongly.