I've resisted writing this note for some time now primarily out of fear. I've been a member of the Worldwide Church of God/UCG for some 20 years. I see more and more of my friends leaving for other organizations or just quitting.
Lately, I'm joining the ranks of those that are discontented. I'm feeling that I've wasted a good part of my life supporting a heirachy of men that have put such a load of guilt on me and I can't shake it. Every fiber in my body says it is time to leave...but I'm afraid.
I'm afraid.....of the Great Tribulation...what if they're right?!!
I'm afraid.....of turning my back on the truth, but I'm not sure I believe this "truth" anymore.. maybe Satan has won!!
I'm afraid.....of not being a first fruit ..but a "possible" 2nd fruit which doesn't have the same reward
I'm afraid.....of anything I think anymore
I'm afraid.....of undoing my "standing" in a church that I've invested so much of myself
I'm afraid.....that my wife who still supports UCG to a large extent will lose respect and love for me
I'm afraid.....that I no longer know what to teach my children.
I'm afraid.....of sending my children to youth Bible Study because I no longer agree with everything
I'm afraid.....to walk.
I am so discontented with religion anymore that I'm sick inside. I'm living in a body that on the outside looks like a fine church member that speaks to the congregation, leads songs and supports the youth..... yet on the inside is frantic and afraid.
I have no one to talk to, I'm afraid to mention anything to my wife and I really fear that I could lose eternal life even though I really can't believe that. It would be such a relief to finally leave and lead a "normal" life but am I "turning back" and am now unworthy?
God...I'm so screwed up! What would my teenage children think if I left and invalidated everything I taught them?
If anyone has ANY suggestions.. I'm open to them. Yes I know I have this view of a God who is somewhat unforgiving...but what if they're right? What if I'm part of a great falling away ( if it exists?)
Name withheld by request (out of fear).
If you have any helpful suggestions for this man. email me at: CLICK HERE FOR EMAIL ADDRESS.
Note that trying to encourage him to join your cult,
(which, of course, is much better than his present one)
will go straight to the trash.
Go Directly to Update 8/19/98 8/20/98 8/24/98 8/30/98 9/2/98 9/27/98 10/1/98 10/18/98 2/21/99 2/27/99 3/30/99 4/28/99 6/26/00
I am certainly no expert to give you advice, I wish I was.
All I can say is that I have been where you are too.
When you know something is wrong because you have contrary evidence, or when you can see that leaders are lying to serve their own purposes, you can get actually physically sick when you have to even just sit and listen to it. I have heard many others with those same feelings.
My advice to you would be to throw out all you have ever believed or been taught before and start over fresh. Don't just start with Christianity, start from scratch. Prove everything. Don't believe anybody. Prove to yourself if there is a God or not. Prove the Bible. Don't just read the Bible, read ABOUT the Bible. Research if it is really God's word. Read what the critics say about it, you already know what the pro Bible religionists think. Then THINK for yourself.
Free yourself from this book. Free yourself from religion. That is true freedom. That is true peace of mind.
Yes, it will be a shock to your teens, but they will thank you in the end for telling them the truth. My sons tell me of their regrets that they didn't get to do certain things in High School and that they put themselves under the authority of absolute assholes for four years at Ambassador College and came away with degrees that were worthless. But they would be really mad at me if I hadn't told them the truth when I found it. They are glad that they were released from this slavery sooner rather than later.
The way I look at it, if God were so cruel that He would require us to do certain things in which our eternal lives would hang in the balance but not tell us without any doubt exactly what He wants, He is not worthy of my worship. Either there is only one church that is completely right or they are all wrong. If they are all wrong, there is no reason to belong to any of them. If only one is right and it is our job to search to find the right one, what a waste of a lifetime. We are supposed to sample every religion in the world, going to every variation of the religion to find the one true church? How ridiculous.
One man wrote to me and wondered why I didn't speak out more about the way women are abused in the church. I wrote back to him that the churches get it out of the book that they worship; if you support the book, you have to take the abuse.
The whole feeling of confusion comes from all the different churches and religious types taking this one book and twisting the same words to say different things. Then they tell you that you will, roast in hell, be tortured forever, lose your one chance to live for eternity, etc., etc., unless you do it their way. Of course, they need your money so they can share this wonderful truth with others. Its all about money. This is no more than a legalized con-game with so-called religious types being the con-men. They use a sincere people's fear of the afterlife and a desire to serve God to run a scam. This has been going on from the beginning of recorded history. Witch doctors, shaman, priests, ministers, etc., all using God to control people, feel important and make money.
Little wonder that the Catholic church didn't want the common people to be able to read the Bible. Thinking people would then be able to see through this sham. Religious types don't want you to think, they want you to have faith. They are afraid of people that can think and reason. They want people to remain dumb sheep, yellow pencils. They try to convince you to be proud of your ignorance. God help them if they are not just as ignorant as those they mislead.
As I have said, I am no expert, but I have been where you are at. If I can be of help to you, let me know.
To begin your escape from slavery I would suggest that you read the book titled "Toxic Faith" by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton. "Click here" to read a summary of the book.
"The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" by Johnson and VanVonderen
" Churches That Abuse" by Ronald M. Enroth
Received on 8/19/98:
Dear Out of Fear.
My name is Yvonne. I joined the wwcg in 1980 and was a member until 1994. Yes I did leave before the shrinking down. I am an Ambassador graduate, even went on one of the Acept programs for one year. My husband and I are soul-mates and came in the church about the same time (he did not attend AC) and we left at the same time. I am from Holland and was "especially blessed" to attend, being one of the four or five Dutch graduates ever.
A very dear friend of ours, a very clear minded ministers-son, helped us in taking the decision not to attend the WWCG anymore.
You have to understand first of all that the Church placed themselves between you and God. If you didn't believe what THEY told you, you were supposedly not believing God! This is very untrue!!!! I have never in my whole life felt closer to my Creator than I do now. You have to realize that you really have been brainwashed with doctrines of the WWCG. Not with Godly truth!!! God has created you in His own Image. That means that we are part of HIM. We do have access to all Godly truths in our lives as long as we really search for them. I took marriage and Family classes in College and was taught to spank my children as many before me did. But I knew right away from the deepest feeling inside me that that instruction was made up by men as soon as I had children. What hand that loves you, hits you? Can you not come up with any creativity in the rearing of the ones that you love most? This has nothing to do with loving and caring and teaching and wanting to share. I can discuss with you any of the topics you mentioned because I have gone through them all. But first of all you have to realize that disobedience to the government of the WWCG does NOT mean disobedience to God!!!!
The step to leave the WWCG does take a mourning process of all the things that have been put into your mind for years. But once gone through that process, you will feel liberated and you will be able to look for other ways towards your Creator.
I have no grudges against the WWCG, have no stories of loss etc. because of my years in it. I look upon it as my choice then and there. Isn't it wonderful we do have a mind to choose for ourselves!!!
Received on 8/20/98:
I have read your page so often and being an ex member of the Worldwide Church of God have recommended it to all I know who also have left.
As regards Fearful, It is easy to say all the platitudes and cliches that we are all sick of but if God does exist and He is LOVE, what is there to fear. Remember that you have been indoctrinated to trust the written word of God, then why don't you? He has said not to put trust in man, that anything He has begun, He will finish, that there is only one way to Him!
When I left the church, I asked for His guidance, His help and you know, it was there, has been and has not deserted me. You are right if you believe that a normal life is wonderful, it is!
Have you not also been indoctrinated to pray, then why don't you?
Isn't it about time you worked with Him direct as Christ instructed you to?
One thing I would like you to consider, "The Great Commission" Do some research, find out how those last few verses actually did get put into Matthew. (search out Erasmus) Then ask yourself the big question. If those really were Christ's last words on earth, WHY DID THEY NOT DO HIS COMMANDS? Why did it take another ten years for God to remind Peter to go to all Mankind (= gentiles) if the instructions had been given already? Also I would like to point out that those spurious lines are the only mention of 'Father Son and Holy Spirit' together. Think about it.
You probably believe that the New Testament is Holy writ, I don't, but if you do then follow IT not any man made organization.
First of all, congratulations on a decision well made! Yes it would have been easier to stay in the Worldwide Church of God and continue to pretend to support their views and policies and (shrug!) their beliefs. But you have been liberated, if you haven't noticed already, whether you believe you did it on your own or Jesus Christ did it for you. Nonetheless, you are free or close to it.
You say you have recently joined the ranks of the discontented; welcome to the club. Many of us who visit Ed's Web site are in the same boat. So you're not alone.
Most of us went through the same handwringing and self doubt at first, But believe me, its a load off after discovering the real Worldwide Church of God and the real character of its leadership. Its also a relief off of your wallet because I'm sure you have given thought of discontinuing support---Money--to this corrupt organization.
Every fiber of your being says its time to leave. Listen to those fibers, I wish I had at first, things would have been different and better had I done so. Those fibers are your conscience telling you something was and is wrong here.
Afraid of the Great Tribulation? What if they were wrong? They were wrong about hundreds of other things, why would they be accurate on something yet to happen?
Just like every other religion, they guessed at and interpreted the Bible. And they struck fear into every sucker (including me) that believed them.
Jesus Christ brings us peace. Believe that.
Afraid of turning your back on the truth? Hey, a lot of it was lies so you're turning your back on lies. Anyone who sees clearly now will do the same....turn his or her back on falsehoods....LIES. And Satan has not won, rather you are winning because he's losing you to his brand(s) of religion.
Afraid of not being a "firstfruit"? Or a possible 2nd fruit with a less reward?
Come on now, That's old Worldwide Church of God talking and gripping its dead claws in your way of thinking. Just acknowledging that being saved should be sufficient for anyone, PERIOD. Worry about the rewards at that time, but I suspect none of us will. Everything will probably be so contrary to what we thought it should be. So don't worry about that silly notion. YOU'LL MAKE IT and that's reward enough.
Afraid of anything you think anymore? Freedom to think on your own is a great commodity. You're in control of your thoughts, Isn't that what the New testament teaches, "to bring every thought under control"?
Afraid of undoing "your standing" in a church you have invested so much of yourself? If you've come this far and seen the error of this church, you should realize that "standing" means nothing. This church has taken MUCH from you leaving little investment for you. Your new "stand" has more significance because now you're looking at your standing between you and God, not an organization.
Afraid your wife will lose respect and love for you? Don't wimp out on yourself, take the lead in what you know is right, whether she agrees with you or not. But I'll bet she'll love you and respect you for standing up for your new found convictions.
Afraid of knowing what to teach your children? Easy. The real truth without all the BS church organizations love to add to it.
Afraid to send your children to youth Bible Study; well don't. Do it yourself if they're agreeable to that scenario. Again just teach them the basics. The things that really matter.
You're afraid to walk? Don't be. Jesus Christ is walking with you. Did anyone from Worldwide Church of God walk with you? Doubt it. Now you can walk with real strength because now you're walking with God, finally, after walking away from Him.
All of us who frequent this web site have been and are sickened inside because of organized religion, particularly the Worldwide Church of God and its offshoots. Life isn't over because you now see it for what it really is a disgusting bunch of hypocrites. You can't think you're screwed up and lose out on salvation. That's what they want you to think so you'll come back and continue to be under their control. No, life is beginning.
Quit being afraid and gather courage with the Real God, who already forgave you and is calling you to believe Him, not the Worldwide Church of God or the UGC. You're not falling away, you're coming home. Trust in Him. Enjoy your freedom!
Received on 8/24/98:
I became interested in the Worldwide Church of God as a teenager in the mid- sixties and was probably amongst a very few people who were then baptized prior to their 18th birthday, so I've had a long history with that church, but I no longer count myself as a member (nor any other denomination).
I was blessed with some capable and conscientious pastors. The first one made it clear that I shouldn't think we were the only people God had ---- there were saints in other Churches. Another in my series of pastors insisted that I should never let anybody intimidate me, including HWA. Another spent much effort directing the congregation to the Bible through their own reading of it rather than the reading of official literature. I am not one to tar the whole group of leaders for the sins of the few.
The advice Ed has given you appears to be that you should question anything and then abandon everything: that seems to me to be on the same level as telling you to accept everything.
(WRONG! What I have said is that you should throw out everything you have ever thought was "the truth" and start over fresh from scratch. Start with: Is there a God? and work from there. Don't be afraid of examining all you have ever believed. If it is "The Truth" today, it will be the truth tomorrow. I think that I have made that very clear.
I did question everything, and the thing that has haunted me, the thing I cannot reason away with alternative explanations, is this man Jesus. We have ample testimony of the historical fact of a rather remarkable career: Josephus, Tacitus, plus the evidence of the gospel writers, at least one of whom (Matthew) gave his life in the defense of the veracity of his witness. I simply do not believe that a man who is an eye- witness to events will give his life for what he knows is a fraud. Yes, I know that there are discrepancies in the gospel accounts, but they are exactly the kind of variations I would expect in the testimony of eye witnesses who have each seen an event each from his own point of view (one says there were four thousand and another five thousand).
(As a matter of fact, the life of Jesus is very poorly documented outside of the Bible. Writers and historians of the time do not support the gospels on the topic of Jesus.
Suetonius (65-135) does not mention Jesus at all.
Pliny the Younger does not mention Jesus, but refers only to Christians.
Tacitus comments on Jesus in "Annals," but there is some indication that he may have merely been commenting on unconfirmed stories that Christians had been circulating for nearly a century. Tacitus may have been commenting on followers of some other christ, as there were many christs with many followers. To make matters worse, there is the distinct possibility (unconfirmed) that Christians inserted Tacitus' remark about the followers of Christ into the Tacitus text in order to make the existence of Jesus more plausible.
Suetonius' reference to a "Chrestus" in Life of Claudius does not refer to Jesus, contrary to some apologists' claims.
Josephus, the greatest Jewish historian, mentioned John the Baptist, Herod, and Pilate, and even devoted whole pages to the most unimportant details of Jewish life at the time, but does not mention Jesus.
In the third century the Christians therefore added content to a text by Josephus, the so-called Testimonium Flavianum, which mentioned Jesus.
This is the first mention:
"And so he [Ananus the High Priest] convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man called James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned."
This entry only mentions "a" Jesus with a brother named James. Certainly, this is the best evidence -- and only good evidence -- for the existence of Jesus, but considering the number of people claiming to be a christ during this time (according to writers such as Celsus), several people meeting this description might have existed.
The second entry allegedly written by Josephus:
"About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared."
Josephus, a Jew would not have used the phrase: "He was the Messiah." To a Jew, the messiah was not supposed to die but rather be a Messianic King with the power of God and smite the oppressors of the Jews. Because Jesus did not do this Josephus would never have referred to him in this way. This passage was clearly added by a gentile and one not very understanding of the Jewish beliefs.
Also, Josephus, who delighted in listing Herod's crimes, does not mention what would have been Herod's greatest crime by far. Maybe it simply didn't happen.
Just trying to keep some of the facts straight. You can't reason properly if you have the wrong facts. I won't go in to whether Matthew actually existed or not, but even if he did, he wouldn't be the first to die for a belief that was completely wrong. And, as far as I know, nobody knows who the authors of the gospels were. I would hope that those of you that are re-examining your beliefs would do a little more thorough job of research than this particular writer has done.
After critical examination I find that the preponderance of evidence (not completely without doubt, but with the balance of probability) is that he was indeed raised back to life. Now I know there is evidence of this happening to others, for example the Magyar history of Atilla the Hun raising two of his generals back to fight another day, but nobody gave up his life for the testimony that they had seen either of those generals ascend to the clouds. No, such others who have also been resurrected have all died again.
So here we have this Jesus who claims to be God. Well, was he? Or was he simply a "great teacher"? I agree with C. S. Lewis: anybody who claims to be God is not a great teacher: he is either mad (honestly believes his own untruth), a liar (doesn't believe his own lie), or he is God (not lying).
I find him not to be mad: he presented a system of morality that remains 2,000 years later as a hallmark in the development of ethics. What other expert in what other field in ancient times developed anything that has not been superseded?
I don't find him a liar: that requires a corruption of character we simply have no other evidence for. On the contrary, a man who is dying a painful death and who with his last thoughts is concerned about who will take care of his mother and with God not laying a charge against those that are killing him is not a man who is likely to lie.
So I have no choice but to find that he is telling the truth: he is God. Having arrived at that conclusion, I want to learn about him and what he is doing for me and what he would like from me, but I want to learn it from him, not from a man with an agenda. My salvation is from him, not from some human or through some human (Jesus is our high priest).
My advice to you is that you reconsider all your beliefs, and that you do it energetically and humbly (and if you decide God is there, also prayerfully), then decide what it is that you ought to do. Try to leave the heart out of it. If you are fearful, your fears will tend to color and sway your decisions. Yvonne let her heart tell her that children should not be spanked. My heart tells me differently. Who is right? While I know we all have psychic senses that will sometimes bring us to a truth that we wouldn't discover with our physical senses, I think it is too easy for our fears and guilt to produce emotional reactions which masquerade as such non-physical senses, and I believe the safer course is to find the truth in reason.
Once you decide what is best, take the lead in your family, stand up for what you believe, but be considerate of their feelings.
I have been where you are. The mental torment you are going through is a necessary evil of escaping your controlled thought pattern instilled by cults. FREEDOM awaits on the other side. It is scary to realize that all of a sudden, you might have to think for yourself. But, you are not alone! Many of us have suffered as you are, and have come through. Thank God that he is opening your mind! That is a true miracle taking place. The doubts and fears will melt away once you free yourself from the system of mind control. Fear is an enemy of faith. God's way provides peace and rest. May you find it soon.
One Who Is Free At Last
Received on 8/30/98:
After I found out what kind of a man HWA was really like, I studied our Worldwide Church of God doctrines and those of protestant churches intensively. Initially I was thrilled with the 'new' which really was the 'old' doctrines. I replaced the addictiveness of Worldwide Church of God with a new religious addiction of 'the holy spirit' etc etc.
Then I realized it was still brain washing and I studied that. We were brainwashed. There is an enormous amount of literature about brainwashing. Most cultures brainwash people. otherwise why were the majority of Germans -nazis? Why are Iranians - Muslims etc etc.? The mind is a very delicate thing and the cultural, religious brainwashing starts from birth.
My deprogramming has taken years. it has been very painful. I have had counseling. It is every bit as difficult as any other addiction i.e. alcohol, heroin etc.
While I was deprogramming my family went to Turkey. I wanted to visit the 7 churches in Revelation. I have a photo of me at Laodecea, it hangs in my bedroom. Laodecea is not lukewarm. Its actually hotter than Hades over 40 degrees Centigrade when we were there. It too is a construct in our mind we allowed an incestuous man to frighten us with.
I am no longer a Christian. I believe in some kind of god, creative force, nature, beauty, the wonder of the human body, plants, flowers. I believe our concepts of god, Jesus, the bible, are constructs in our mind. Just as we allowed others to create them for us we can deconstruct them.
I don't like the god of the Christian world, the Jewish world, the Muslim world, except that I was taught to fear him. I wouldn't give him the time of day. He's mean and vindictive.
So many very evil things have been done in the name of god and religion and every time I look at the TV here in Australia, priests, teachers, ministers, parliamentarians all professing to be Christian, are being charged with sex crimes against children.
How I live my life is not very different to my past 27 years in the Worldwide Church of God. I still look after my family and care for my elderly parents, I have been completely honest with my four sons, about denying them medical care through their childhood and causing them such pain and suffering, restricting their sporting and musical opportunities. I have expressed my sorrow to my husband for thinking he was such a sinner, it has bought our family much closer together. I express my fears, inadequacies, changing ideas with them.
As I said it has taken years to decultify but it has been worth it, no more fear.
About the tribulation, what could be worse than what some people go through now with wars, sickness poverty etc. Do you think a loving god, even an ordinary god would want to injure, damage and kill his own creation? I don't think in those terms now but could you do it to a dog? a rat? even an ant? Why do we think god could do it to us? No, my god couldn't do that.
My advice is for you to read as much as you can about the history of the Worldwide Church of God. It truly is not acceptable behavior, not in any organization, let alone a supposedly Christian one.
Read about the origins of the bible, read some proper literary criticism of the bible. Once you are freed of thinking it is inspired and all truthful etc it helps a lot. We don't know half of what the bible says. Did you know Lot offered his virginal daughters to the mobs to stop the mob from raping the angels. Later on Lot slept with his daughters, but who got turned into a pillar of salt? They are stories, myths, and legends.
Read with an open mind not a fearful Worldwide Church of God brainwashed mind. Mostly, read about brainwashing. Anyone can be brainwashed. We were and many still are brainwashed. There is life after religion.
Be honest with your wife and children. My husband and I had some donnybrook fights as I was decultifying. We had 30 years of abuse to sort out. He was not in Worldwide Church of God but took to 'being head of the house' like a real pro. I did not think our marriage would survive but it has. We are much happier now.
I am a real person instead of a Worldwide Church of God clone. However, it was very painful, it takes years.
You have to replace the religion with something. I read, garden, we travel, play bridge, go to the opera and some movies.
I decided not to read a religious book for six months. I have a library of very good religious books and I'm going to give them away now.
Most people diligently want to do what's right but each cult has a different set of rules which sets them apart as special. I accept now that I am not special, I just have this one life to live to the best of my ability. I am not giving it over to an immoral, greedy, oppressive religious regime.
All the best, it's not easy but there is life after the cult.
My dear brother! God has not given us spirit of fear but of a sound mind. If you earnesly pray to God for his direction he will guide you to the right path but first you have to believe, trust God and have faith. He is well able to take you through whatever your situation may be.
Be encouraged and keep faith and hope alive.
Received on 9/2/98:
And the warmest wishes to those most needing kindness and mercy.
If we are to believe Scriptures, and sometimes that gets to be an exercise in itself, doesn't it, there are those passages which assure us that God's mercy never fails. He is kind to people from generation to generation. God is defined as love--with a capacity for compassion and long-suffering beyond our human comprehension.
Since you mention the UCG, let me quote Robert Dick, Chairman of the Board of the Council of Elders. When I asked on the Night to be Much Observed the question of whether God would honor prayer for whom we asked help, if they were even a part of our "extended family"--in this case people who work for me--he answered, "God is always ready to extend mercy." End of discussion. No question. The point being that God will do works not to be seen of men, but because it is His nature to be merciful, kind, and loving. And if you are still in UCG, AIA, you couldn't get much higher than that.
Scripture tells us that perfect love casts out fear. I have found that to be a personal reality. If I love someone, it is impossible for me to fear them. The trick here may be the term "perfect", but we are adult enough to know intuitively what love means in this context.
The very first thing you need to do is to answer the questions: Who am I? and What do I want? You must ask and answer them in that order. To do otherwise is destructive. The reason is that we may have many wants, but if we do not know who we are, what we want will NOT be in line with who we are. Are you basically a caring person? Are you totally selfish? Answering who you are basically leads into what you want. As a caring parent, you want your children to have a future. Love is defined as an act of the will wherein you choose to care about your children's future and it is a love not based on emotion [although emotional responses may be part of the fruit of the love] but it is based on a rational choice.
Having said all that, what is the relevance to the problems you are suffering?
The next question you need to ask is whether the people you have chosen to provide you with spiritual answers fit within the framework of who you are, or did your spiritual advisors warp the framework of who you are to change what you think you want?
What you seek is clarity to these answers--and they are not abstract philosophic questions to you!
Let's restate this a different way.
A reality is that you are in pain. You are in pain because what you have been taught to believe is very different from what you now are coming to know is true. This is called cognitive dissonance. You know the truth--at least a part of it--but the feelings you have are blocking rational thought, so you are afraid. The limbic region of your brain controls your emotions and it has desires and wants. Your cortex provides logic and reason. The mid-brain has no control over your muscles and cannot make you do anything. You choose. But it exerts a powerful persuasion and perpetuates lusts using all of the resources of your brain and memory to do so. It WANTS! IT NEEDS! It wants SATISFACTION! It fears! It is the animal part of you. You must overcome it with reason.
Concerning God, you cannot really prove a thing. You have to have faith in those things which are spiritual realities to you and experience them for yourself. For myself, the reality is that there are universal principles, like trust, which work the same way each time, every time, at any time, between any two people. If you steal from me, I won't trust you. If you lie to me, I won't trust you. If you are 100% consistent, I might trust you. You have to determine whether or not, for yourself, the God who said that we should not lie, steal, cheat, commit adultery, et al had any basis for saying that. Does it work? Apparently you think so.
So who in your mind represents God?
Why would you believe that a man who openly commits adultery, when you don't, could lead you into the Kingdom of God as some following GTA have decided? If you are even normally monogamous, even from fear, you would conclude that your chances to attain some "Kingdom of God" is better than his, even if you do not compare yourself with him or condemn him, would you not?
So why would you allow charlatans and evil deceivers to intimidate you? It seems to me that this is highly irrational. So here is what I suggest: Go to those who are intimidating you, find their weakness and offer to help them. Tell them that you forgive them for their terrible example and for ruining your life and you are now prepared to lead them to the way of righteousness. You certainly have richer experiences and more meaningful wisdom that those who have not gained the good judgement you have by life experiences. You must do this with a straight face [and that may be your greatest challenge], without irony, and a humble attitude, of course, but you need to be persistent and assertive. What you will find is that the people you have feared are weak, insipid, cowardly, and in a great deal of need of help, support, and friendship.
And if they walk away to reject you, you have lost nothing. They are the losers. They need you more than you need them. That is why they deceived and abused you in the first place: To make you think you are entirely dependent upon them.
This situation took a long time to develop. It will take guts and time to come out of it. You need to abandon self-deception and embrace the truth. You are responsible for your life. No one else is. Take ownership of it. Take back what was stolen from you. Be strong and of good courage. These people have no legal right to be officious. They can't harm you. Fear them not! Or the scrap they've sold you! These are people who have created an image and illusion MUCH greater than the reality, and they've stuck it in your mind.
Look at realities: Every prophecy that Herbert Armstrong ever made has FAILED! He had a 100% failure rate! Why should you believe anything he said until you sort out the details and prove what is true point by point. Why should you fear anything he said? Do you believe the 1975 in prophecy booklet now? Is 1975 going to be the year of the Great Tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ? And is Herbert Armstrong's morality better than yours? Or does your righteousness exceed that of Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, Joseph Tkach [not that, Scripturally, that's important]? If you are more righteous than they are, why do you listen to them on points of ethics and morality? Did they rear their children better than you raised yours?
You speak of respect. The only thing that teenagers will respect in the long run is consistency. Do you do things you say you believe? Do you eschew hypocrisy? From the tone of your letter, it sounds as if you do. Well, then, be straight arrow. Speak the truth [be careful you have the facts and then go for it!]
One other consideration.
If you have a "noisy brain" with unsolicited internal input, you may have a "Shadow Syndrome". The book by the same name by Dr. John Ratey and Dr. Catherine Johnson will be very helpful to understand the condition of the "noisy brain" and what to do about it. While the UCG is a kinder, gentler place to be than Worldwide Church of God, CGI, GCG, there is still a lot of "noise" even with the passing of David Hulme. The "noise" can distract you from priorities and can even make life unbearable to you.
If you want to discuss things with me further, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would invite you to my web site at http://mind-set.com
So this was a little long, but maybe just knowing that someone does care enough about your problems might mitigate the length. Let me know if anything here strikes a responsive cord or not. If there is anything else I can do or rephrase things to make them better, let me know.
May you have peace and find kindness, love, joy, and mercy.
Received on 9/27/98:
Don't know if this will help or not...but...
To the fearful person:
I remember going through all of the exact same thoughts. You are not alone, everyone had those same fears in the church, EVERYONE!! What I finally realized is that "all cults", whether religious or political, retain power through "fear". They simply establish an unquestionable authority and find followers who need the security of one single source doing "all" the thinking "FOR them". But most of all I realized that most people are "already programmed" for such an organization "long before" they find it.
We were enticed into believing and "needing" one true way where a person NEVER makes any mistakes, NEVER takes any chances, NEVER makes any real growth, NEVER finds themselves or the things they would love to do in life, all because of fear. And above all, NEVER trusting yourself, you're too stupid, only a special person from 'GOD' or some kind of 'enlightenment' can do the decision making in life, but NEVER a human being on their own!!!
What's happening to you is probably the best thing that could happen to you. Maybe it's time to realize that you probably run your entire life based on "FEAR". Think about this for a moment. The question shouldn't be, what if "they" are right? The question that needs facing is "WHAT DO I THINK?" That's all that really matters.
Of course, you do need to understand that sometimes it takes a long time and "a lot of professional counseling" to help someone locked this deeply inside their own fear. It will take a while before you can trust "yourself". You may need to find a strong support group who can help you keep on track with examples from their lives when you feel weak and find a "good" therapist who can help you realize yourself (a "good" therapist). When we are so used to someone propping us up, we have a little difficulty finding our own feet. We need someone who will help us stand on our own instead of reminding us of how much we need "those crutches".
As for me, I was programmed by my parents to feel insecure from the time I was born, because they base their life on "absolute fear" of "everything". I was "set-up" as it were for the Worldwide Church of God long before my parents even found the church. As one of my friends in the church once said, "I would have ended up in a cult somewhere else if not here."
Most important, is you have to "want" to be better. No one could fix my problems, but ME. I was ready to question everything I knew, because I could see that nothing in my life was working, nothing was helping me find my peace of mind. Lots of talk about it, but nothing real, nothing workable. You sound like you are coming to those conclusions as well? And yes, I eventually left the church, religion and god in general, I also left my wife and a bunch of other things I really didn't want in my life, had never really wanted. But you know what, I finally have control over the things in my life, I program it now, to do what I want, what I like and most of all, what I NEED.
And you want to know what one of the best benefits of this change was? My children saw me tell the truth and that gave them permission to tell the truth. They knew things weren't right either, but they were also "afraid" to speak up because their parent was teaching by "example" that you just lay down and "play dead" when you feel you can't tell the truth, in other words, BE AFRAID, be afraid of everyone else, but most of all, be afraid of yourself, your own thoughts. I was teaching "by example" to give your power to everyone else "but yourself". My children are far happier now than they ever were when I was living in "the lies". They weren't stupid, but they were learning to "act" stupid! They know it's a lie, just as much as you do.
Remember the story of the king with no clothes? The king had no clothes on, but no one would say anything for FEAR of being called unwise. It's the same thing here, everyone in the church knew it, everyone thought that things weren't right in the organization, but they were and still are "afraid" to speak up, "afraid" to do something about it, "afraid" to face a new area of life, "afraid of everything, and living in the misery of that "fear" on a daily basis. That is not a happy, peaceful way of life, believe me. It's more of a living death than life.
The question you need to start asking yourself is "Who taught me this fear?" "Where did I learn it and WHY do I continue to accept it?" And start saying, "WHAT DO I THINK?" After you think it out, ask yourself, what's the worst that can happen if I act on this? When you do this, be sure to take all the time you need to "prepare yourself " should the worst you fear happen. Then start taking a "chance" and acting on it, start learning from mistakes as they are made, regrouping and trying it again and again until it starts to makes sense "your way". And with each decision, comes a greater feeling of strength or empowerment, which will lead you to even stronger and better decisions and you'll find yourself, trusting yourself as the ONLY ONE who can choose what's right for YOU.
Eventually you'll find you've straightened out a lot of things you never really wanted anyway. And believe me, that's when the fear will become a thing of the past. You'll no longer say, "What if?", but rather, "Well, I'll think about that and I'll decide if it's for me or not." And that will bring a peace of mind you probably have never experienced before. For once you will start to feel as if things are in control.
I know this is a lot to consider, and I am speaking from years now of change. But I never regret finding my own happiness. I do regret throwing away so much of my life on things. Of letting everyone else "choose" for me and then "blaming them all" when things didn't work out the way I wanted them too. Of always giving up my power to others, then crying out, "Foul!" Of constant fear and bitterness over a life of "pain".
I remember taking some acting lessons when I first started making my own choices. One of the exercises we had to do, was to stand in front of the class and show our "true" selves, let the real you come out as it were. It was so much fun seeing how easy it was to describe people as they did it. Their faces really did show the person inside, there was no covering up when you did it right.
Then, I stood up, I couldn't wait, because I was always the funny guy, or so I thought, I knew they would say something like, "the court jester" or something close to that, but, after a very long pause...someone finally said, "I see a life of pain", then another person spoke up and said, "I see an unhappy person living in a miserable existence"....it continued around the room, no one saw a court jester or anything remotely connected to such a person. Of course, nothing could have been closer to the truth, the acting coach had made me stand there until I showed my TRUE face. Needless to say I had a lot to talk about that week in therapy. It was a good week for me. It was good because I wanted the truth for ME.
What do you want?
What do you think?
Received on 10/1/98:
We have recently left Worldwide Church of God. It has ruined our lives in so many ways.
We are wth a church that is in our neighborhood. They are very loving, but they do not fully understand what has happened to us.
Go to a Christian book store and get a book on Spiritual Abuse. That will help you see what they did to you. Most of all, remember we made the choice to join this church, I say that not for you to beat yourself up, but to keep God in His rightful place,OUR DELIVERER. He will clear this up for you. He does let us make mistakes , But He is our savior and He will deliver you because you love Him and He first loved you. There is nothing you have done that cannot be forgiven, including joining a cult.
Let the HOLY SPIRIT lead you and pray. God hears and answers our prayers. He is faithful. If He delivered Noah and Lot, Then He can deliver you. He is the only way, get out and go to God.
It's not easy, but the end results are worth it. We still struggle trying to fit in, but we found truth in the bible through the HOLY SPIRIT not a man.
There are people who care, LET THEM. We love you and will pray for you. God Loves you.
Pray for your wife and God will open her eyes, He hears our prayers.
The Amarelo Family
I understand completely, I was "raised" in Worldwide Church of God from the age of 3, I'm now 37 and left Worldwide Church of God over a year ago.
You cannot live your life being afraid. and you cannot live your life under a cloud of "what if"........ you will go crazy! You won't be struck down by lightening,
I cannot say what your wife or your children's reactions will be, but you must follow your own heart and instincts. In the long run your family and "friends" will respect you for standing up for what you believe.
I wish you well my friend........
I understand how this man feels...he is torn between what he has believed all these years and what he is beginning to believe. It takes a while to let go of those former things and begin anew.
I would be glad to correspond with this man...if you would like to give him my e-mail address. Perhaps "talking" with someone who has had similar thoughts at one time or another would be beneficial.
My wife and I check your site on a fairly regular basis to see what's new.
(The notifier worked this time.)
Lots of helpful info.
Just sign me 'prism'.
Received on 10/18/98:
My only comment to this man is to "GET OUT NOW". My husband and I agonized for months and finally just took the BIG STEP and we have not EVER regretted it.
GOD WILL LISTEN when others won't.
I spent the first year in tears after leaving Worldwide Church of God -I left after 38 years in Worldwide Church of God - I grew up from age 7 in Worldwide Church of God - but once the tears were dried I realized I am still a chosen vessel that God wants and desires to use. Don't worry if others agree with you - just stay close to God and he WILL be there when no one else will be. Don't stop the tears, it is a release of all the pain, anger and frustrations we have bottled up for years inside - don't let it turn inward or it will lead to depression. Tell God how angry you are and how hurt - let your tears flow like a river in his presence. It is the truest cleansing you will ever have and the peace will come afterwards. It won't happen overnight but it WILL happen! Even as I write this I'm shedding tears for you because I've been there and know how difficult it is for you at this time....even as Elijah thought he was alone God revealed there were 7,000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal.....BELIEVE ME YOU ARE NOT ALONE there are literally hundreds of us out here who've been where you are!
We have begun to start reading the Bible through from Genesis and reading it without any markings from anyone. If you must, buy a brand new Bible and start fresh. You'll learn some of what we were taught in Worldwide Church of God ISN'T correct. Also realize how alone our Savior Jesus Christ felt when he hung on the cross but what was the end result of his suffering - HE was RESURRECTED and is our intercessory before the Father. Christ KNOWS our sufferings and our pain and he will be faithful in helping you through this rough time. God can also lead you to others who feel as you do and who are going through the exact emotions you have. The most important thing to remember is YOU WILL ONLY ANSWER FOR YOUR SINS not anyone elses.
We've been keeping the Sabbath at home for over 3 1/2 years now and LOVE it. Our children really look forward to the Sabbath now because they KNOW we will NOT be driving miles and miles to church or sitting for hours and hours listening to someone pontificate on things that are not of spiritual benefit to us. We did visit various splinter groups at first but were disappointed with most - we still from time to time visit indepedent groups and have enjoyed the fellowship but we just are NOT interested in joining another group anytime soon. Membership in an organization IS NOT prerequisite to being in the body of Christ. WE ARE THE TEMPLE if God's spirit dwells in us.
My family and I pray for others like you who have and those who will yet go through this heartwrenching decision. It isn't easy - but remember God NEVER promised that it would be easy. Stay close to GOD and spend many hours in reading through Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah and Job. God will grant you the peace that you need so desperately. I have come to have an inner peace that I never dreamed possible and it makes me aware everyday how much God cares for me and that he will FINISH/COMPLETE the work HE started in me IF I will let him.
Hang in there my friend - Our Heavenly Father loves you very much and HE is not but just a prayer away!
May God grant you much peace and love today and always.
Your sister in Christ, Shirley
Received on 2/21/99:
Perhaps this note is a little bit on the late side as your letter appears to have been posted some months ago. However, just a suggestion or two...or three. The old Chinese proverb says that a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. Perhaps you have taken that step by now but if not, just take it. It is telling your wife and kids about your doubt and that you want "out"--that is what your letter is saying about you. You may be surprised: they may have the same doubts as you do but like you have been afraid to voice them. Especially your teenagers. However, if you truthfully and frankly share this with them they will--and I repeat, will--respect you and admire you for your forthrightness and the courage you have displayed by telling them how you feel. We all respect people who are honest with us. This is a natural human reaction. By not expressing your current feelings and desires to your family you are failing them badly: you are living a lie and quite frankly this is going to make you sick.
In this process there is only one person in which you should put your trust. That person is You. You are not used to doing this because you have misplaced your trust in these vicious religious leaders over the years and have made a habit of trusting them and this cardboard deity with the scowly face who is supposedly is going to send you some place real bad if you doubt its existence. Get real guy! With practice, trusting yourself will become easier. Trust yourself in this "outing" of your true feelings. You will be amazed at the peace of mind which will take place and the courage that you will develop in doing this. You have nothing to lose but your bonds and much to gain. And I really do suspect that your wife and kids will follow you out of this horrible religious bondage that you find yourselves in with great joy and relief. Also, one other thing. Only explain to your wife and children. You owe no one else any explanation whatever--especially your fellow church prisoners. Simply tell them you are no longer interested in their church and bid them farewell--as quickly as possible. You will discover what kind of true "friends" they really were when you leave their "fellowship"! And indeed you will at last be free to make real friends who do not base their friendship with you having the identical religious beliefs that they do.
You must make the first step (if you have not done so at this point) and believe me it is not as hard as it may appear from your vantage point. And then perhaps expand your reading a bit. Throw the Bible out. That illogical collection of ancient writings has caused mankind more pain and suffering than we will ever know and the teachings around it certainly seem to have you tied up in knot. So think about something else for awhile.
I have not mentioned the name of any religious organization in this letter but believe me, I have had experience with the ones that you are involved in, seeing lives laid waste and family relationships destroyed all in the name of god and his "truth". It is nothing short of tragic. Save those precious teenagers of yours from these absolutely toxic religious teachings while you can.
Received on 2/27/99:
Hi Afraid It's an awful situation to be in isn't it. Hope things are progressing for you. I also note that you wrote in some time back. I've only just encountered it via its update posting. I agree with much that's been written. In varying degrees we've experienced the same thoughts as yourself. You are not alone: thousands have trodden the same slow path.
You have analyzed things already. You must be true to yourself in fact I'll warrant you won't be able to live a lie; you will eventually do what you need to. In your own mind you already know what direction you need to follow.
A couple of thoughts if they're any use, and I won't quote scripture or any man. I won't bore you with my own experiences either. Think outside of everything you've been taught by other people in any church. Don't accept other people's explanations you once embraced as being 'proofs' of any doctrine at all, no matter where they came from.
You and your God can have a relationship without any human person or organization being part of that. Yes, the Worldwide Church of God did make contact with God conditional. You could only reach God through the church and its doctrines and practices, in effect.
Consider: Could someone who is illiterate have a relationship with God? Does God require people to study Greek, Hebrew, Ecclesiastical History, Biblical Scholarship, etc. in order to have a relationship with their deity. Most in the world simply do not have the mental capacity to be full time theological scholars. It is clear that you don't have to be able to read or write or be particularly intellectual to have a relationship with God. You could even do this if you lived all your life alone on a desert island with no radio, TV, (or PT).
Suppose you acted in clear conscience, left your church and its belief, and did what you genuinely believed was what you needed to do. Is a merciful all powerful deity going to say "sorry pal, you didn't know it but you were wrong I know you didn't want to be -but it's the end of the line for you". There is no mercy, love, forgiveness or other godly quality in this judgement: no true Fatherly quality. Put another way would it be so serious and huge that it's beyond the power of the Almighty to forgive?
If you do decide you want to leave your church come clean about it to your family early on or you're likely to scramble everyone's emotions. To your children, whatever their age, I would suggest you put an arm around them and say "I got it very wrong, I'm very sorry, please forgive me, I love you." You may well find they actually love you very much for being you, warts and all. Children and young adults are very resilient and adaptable, and loyal and forgiving.
As far as you wife is concerned it will depend quite a bit on the state of your relationship. We were all taught, weren't we, that God (really meaning the church) came first, even before family. Your wife may feel this of, course, at least initially. I guess much time is essential. You both will have a lot to come to terms with (but people do).
You list many points/questions. I thought about going through them one by one, but you don't need me to. In time you will be able to answer each of these for yourself and to your own total satisfaction.
Ed can forward or publish my name and address if he wishes. I'm sure we'd be interested to hear how things turn out.
Received on 3/30/99:
I've read the various suggestions and concern sent by others on your website. I can't tell you how comforting it's been to hear from others who've felt and experienced this kind of fear. As for an update, I haven't made much progress.
More and more articles are starting to appear about the Euro, not only in church literature, but in newspapers and TV...Could they be right?
We recently received a video from Ray Wright who spoke of the "conspiracy" going on in Switzerland to overthrow the US economic dominance. He also spoke of other things going on that he didn't feel appropriate to share with us at this time. The video did not mention names and I was surprised at the number of people that were excited by this conjecture. It was a scary video. UCG is even throwing in Y2K in a Good News article for good measure. They may not be consciously trying to control by fear, but it's working.
I've been more vocal in my dissatisfaction with church to my wife. She gets quickly angry and wonders what is wrong with me. So I don't say much to her about church anymore.
I tire of the conferences that go on every few months that seem to revolve entirely around the ministry...training for the ministry...a special "password protected" internet forum for the ministry...constant elections (again the ministry) while church members are given an occasional Readers Digest insert update.
I'm attending church but finding myself wondering if God exists anymore...I don't recognize who I am now. I'm going through the motions and sitting in church listening to tired old sermons from those who seem to still be enthused. I think I'm doomed to hell (if THAT exists).
I have been SO frustrated, that I am having trouble enjoying life anymore. I've even thought that death is easier than this. I'm not suicidal, but I now understand how some people could be. In reality, no one has the answers for sure, and it drives me crazy. I pray for "proof", but that's probably foolish. I "really" want to know what God's will is....just show me!
It helps for me to write this out...Thanks to all for their input...I can't express the appreciation enough.
So long for now from the man "with a spirit of fear".
Prophesy does seem to attract those who prefer to believe conspiracies. One thing I have learned about worrying is that it does work: 99% of the things I worry about never happen.
No, I'm sure they wouldn't be consciously trying to control people by using fear. That would mean they are dirty, rotten, money grubbing rats and I'm sure these are fine, honorable men who are only warning people of the coming fall of the USA, which you can do nothing to stop even if it is true, but they need your money to warn the whole world. And, of course, giving them your money will give you protection from this coming time of trouble. And it is all perfectly legal. All religion is based of fear: fear of death. Religions give you some hope that they know what awaits us all after death and they offer you a way to be able to live forever. There is a lot of power in that. Religious con-men know it and use the fear of death for their own good.
I can understand your thoughts of life not being worth living when I think back to some of the sermons and bible studies that we had to endure from some of our local elders. Nice guys but incompetent. To think of all the time that was wasted............................ But, then again, even the ministers sermons were a waste of our time, but I guess they were a little better at it and at least made their BS a little more easy to take and more entertaining.
To think that you have read all the good advice that you have been given and still can't decide what to do, is just incredulous to me. But, I guess the advice of, "when in doubt, do nothing," is probably the best. Maybe God will make your choices obvious to you like He has for so many others. I have to admit that not having your wife on the same wavelength as yourself is a definate downer. That makes the decision all the more difficult and more complicated and you have no one to talk to about your feelings.
Understanding that nobody has the answers to life's questions is one step to finding your freedom from people seeking to control and use you. Accept it. Then draw some conclusions from it. If nobody has the answers, why bother wasting your time trying to find these answers? Why not just try to be a good person and leave it up to God to reveal His will for you if it is that important to Him for you to know what it is?
Good luck to you,
Received on 4/28/99:
A dear friend of mine gave me excellent advice in regards to fear. He said, "What is FEAR? False Evidence Appearing Real." Even the bible exhorts us to "prove all things and hold fast to that which is good".
I too am an ex-member of the wwcg and lived a life filled with guilt and fear because of the abuse I received from my church. I still struggle trying to sort truth from fiction after five years of being free from these abusers. Know that you are not alone. Support is all around you; you just need to know where to look.
Hopefully Ed's web site will provide some of that encouragement that will help you continue to relieve yourself of some of the fear. The abuse has to stop with you regardless of what anyone thinks.
Congratulations on taking steps toward a healthy life free of the ball & chain the wwcg & ucg has put upon you.
6/26/00 Afraid Returns for an update.
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