Monthly Archives: January 2014

Bound in Religion’s Cell

By: Cynthia McClaskey

Dark secrets lie within the walls of Religion’s pristine cell,
They are hidden amidst TRUTHS that religion seeks to sell.
Poor souls get trapped in bondage within its walls so fair,
They see their cell as wonderful, for surely, TRUTH is there!

They cannot see the Darkness that hides behind the walls,
There is an ever-present Evil that hails to the Warden’s call.
The Simple feast on fatness, of words dressed in pure white,
Not knowing that the words they eat are poisoning them each night.

The words of TRUTH are laced with the faintest hint of LIE,
Just enough to make that TRUTH appear, to the Simple, to have new life.
This “taint” is man’s opinion, interpretations and fears;
And it’s just enough of darkness, to take them unawares.

The horrors found within this cell are covered in fear and dread,
For inside this prison of religion, lies many martyred heads;
Martyred by the church, for exposing abuse and lies
That the Warden has kept hidden, to keep control alive.

He leads them along in darkness, yet tells them they can see,
And inside the cell of Religion, are many anguished pleas.
For once you are enslaved, and bound in Religion’s Cell,
The Warden has control, as to him your soul, you sell.

For power and prestige, the Warden knows no bounds,
He masquerades as righteous, yet within, much evil resounds.
He fosters hate and judgment toward those who disagree,
He teaches abusive tactics that his followers cannot “see.”

The Warden builds his cells, to appeal to mens desires,
While making sure the Simple, do what he requires.
Those who are easily swayed to purchase the Warden’s wares,
Believe the “truths” they are handed that are meant to keep them there.

Trapped in bondage to Religion, and locked within its cell,
The Simple live their lives never knowing that they’ve failed;
Failed to see the bondage that has them bound within,
Failed to see the lies that the Warden seduced them with.

Religion’s Cell is dangerous, before it, princes cower,
It controls lives and fortunes, to keep its fame and power.
Breaking free from this cell may cost one all he owns,
Cause him grief and heartache, from those he’s always known.

But through the thick darkness, the TRUTH of God shines forth,
And severs the yokes of bondage to the Warden’s evil work.
The light breaks through the sorrow, that holds us in its snare,
Releasing the shackles of bondage that kept us hostage there.

Emma Wise’s Story – Dear Journal

From the Author: Emma’s story is a peek into the mental and emotional battles that can plague an abuse survivor. It takes a lot of courage to share one’s story and open one’s self up to others. I am proud of Emma. This is a first step in a healing journey for her.

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Dear Journal 01-11-14:  I know I don’t have to share everything, but for some reason I am compelled to share my healing journey. I need to make sure I am not hurting myself by what I say, or exposing myself to feeling alive and connected in some strange false way. I only want to share if it is healthy and helpful – not only to others but also to myself, and my friends.

People who have suffered severe abuse and trauma are often plagued by never ending bad dreams. I don’t know why some people have them and others don’t who live through the same situations. I am obviously cursed in this arena. I truly think I could have worked through a lot on my own and would have stopped thinking about the past during the day if I had not been bombarded nightly with traumatic scenarios – often new images of the same people but in different situations or a replay of the same people in what could have happened if this or if that had occurred. Daily, I often wondered why I could not simply move on and get over the past… let go, as so many well-meaning people say, but the past would not let me go. I have had many years of normalcy at night. And while I can handle a few bad nights, these negative childhood dreams that return remind me of the horrific childhood that I lived through and make me sad that such a horrible life had to happen to a sweet little girl (that happens to be me).

I sang a beautiful worship song in my bedroom one morning. In part of the song, I sang about how I am moving forward with Jesus and my past is left behind. I loved singing the song. I don’t know if they correlate. If maybe a demon put thoughts into my dreams last night to remind me that the past is not all gone or if my mind just somehow decided to circle the past, but I had emotional childhood dreams last night and awoke crying after an exhausting night.

In the dream I was secretly working with some police who were going to try and trap my abusers and bring them to prison. In my childhood, I always was afraid to work with the police or child services because I knew that if one showed up at the house and didn’t follow through with putting my abusers in prison that, when my abusers found out, that I was the one who worked with them and I would literally be killed. People who hear me say this think that this is an exaggeration but, anyone who really lived in my childhood or knew the abusers capability, understand this was a fact of life we lived with constantly – a fear that we would do something he deemed wrong enough that we would be killed. (we meaning me and my alter protectors). In part of this dream, I pin the police officer down to the ground and pound on his chest telling him if anyone gets killed before he acts (because they were taking their dear old time coming up with a timing and plan) that the death would be on him. Then I awake, shaken, crying… not for what I dreamed about, but for the very fact that I still dream about my childhood.

I think about my life that I have now and how happy I am and simply want to shake it off and move on into the day. I know I can. But I wonder why I am different… why out of all of my siblings have I been haunted by horrible dreams that effected my life so deeply. It is not like I had control of what I dreamed. But the very fact that I did dream about this junk is why I couldn’t just let it go and move on…. it had a hold on me and did not let my mind go. And then again, I do not know why. My siblings don’t talk about and share for me to know if they have such dreams. They simply move on like nothing happened. They have handled the past the best they could and I respect each for their own choice.

When a person is deeply physically injured – like from an IED explosion – the bleeding is intense and most often it is pouring out from many bodily sources… limbs may be mangled or missing. Triage is lifesaving, not cosmetic. You simply must act quickly. Pressure needs to be applied to stop the bleeding. Instinct must take over. It is either do or die. This is what my first 10 years of trauma therapy was like. I didn’t much have a choice. I was emotionally bleeding everywhere, on everyone and at anytime. Being around me was not easy and being my friend was painful a lot of the time. Enduring therapy was like having tender scabbing wounds picked at or even ripped open.

Sessions were rarely enjoyable; often I felt like I was re-entering the trauma and I very badly did not want to go… but I was compelled to go for my livelihood. But it is time again for therapy. I don’t think it will be deep level trauma therapy like before. It will be at a different level. For the past 2 years I have been trying to start again, to in a sense pick up where I left off a decade ago but of course, people and times have changed. I am now in my forties. I started therapy in my 20s. There is a HUGE gap of life I–in many ways– survived, not really lived but existed, again… a lot like my first 18 years of life. Only I was not being injured; I was healing from the initial child abuse injuries.

This time in therapy, I am facing my life in the present. I am assessing where I am, who I am and what I need to be doing with the days I have remaining in life. I do know that I am presently safe and whole and that I am deeply loved by God. Thankfully, I am healed to the point that dreams like I had last night don’t creep into my day and therefore they don’t, in any meaningful way, effect my new day. Of course, I can’t help but wonder if they make me a little different in my thoughts. I can only hope that I will use it for good and be more sensitive to others who have suffered. I thank God for His saving grace and the fact that HIS mercies are new every morning. I plan today to move forward with God and leave the past behind. I am going to live in the freshness and goodness that this day brings. I thank God for how far He has brought me and for the enormous healing I have experienced. It is time for me to press into God but in a much different way. I’m going to be learning how to LET GOD LOVE ME, to let HIM FILL ME, to experience HIM in my core and to be grounded in HIM, anchored in HIM…. not mentally/intellectually or hanging onto to Him (ha – let Him hang onto me is more like it) as I travel the turbulent storms of trauma therapy. This time I am going to press into HIM and SIT! Absorb. Rest. Learn to be STILL. And receive all that I lack and so much more that I can not begin to imagine. So today, I step off the ledge in a totally different way, and free fall into God. I want to soak in all of Him I can and thereby to be transformed.

Andrea’s Story – Precious Scars

From the Author: Andrea’s Story is not an isolated one in religious circles. There are countless numbers of abused children that suffer at the hands of their parents because of religious indoctrination. All this abuse is done “in the name of God” in order to instill extreme fear and to bring about total and unquestionable obedience. Children raised in any fundamentalist sect, will endure the abuses that Andrea endured. They have no choice. They have no voice. Sadly, the scars left behind are ones that affect and damage a person well into the future. The tentacles are binding and, seem to suffocate life and joy from the one affected. To learn more about the hidden abuse of children in organized religion, click HERE.

Andrea’s story is a compelling one. Not only is she telling her story here, she is telling it to the world through her book, “Precious Scars.” Her book is a reflection of the many scars, emotional and physical that religion has given her, sadly, at the hands of those that should have protected her – her parents.

These scars once symbolized pain, sadness and fear for Andrea. Today, they have been granted a more powerful meaning. From their midst burst a phoenix. According to mythology, the phoenix is a beautiful bird with brilliant colors and magical powers. Instead of filling its nest with eggs, it instead uses it to die, burning up in its own heat. After three days, the phoenix rises again from the ashes. Her phoenix symbolizes rebirth, life and hope. Out of the ashes of a dark and painful life came something else, something stronger, purer, better. Out of the ashes, Beauty arose.

Here’s Andrea’s Story about growing up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist home. To read more about Andrea’s story, you may order her book: Precious Scars

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My parents were once normal people. That’s what others tell me, anyway. My mother’s brother, my uncle, says that he and my dad used to hang out together, drinking, relaxing, having fun. My mom got pregnant at just 16, and she and my dad had a shotgun wedding. I came along a few years later, and my dad, with a heavier burden than he had expected, joined the military to take some of the edge off. They were sent to Germany shortly after my birth.

My father was highly educated, and you would think that that would inoculate him against spurious religions. But it didn’t. When they got to Germany, IFB missionaries began to court them. My parents were soon devoted to the church.

Once we got home, they cut ties with their families. It didn’t really happen all at once. They would alienate one person after another. After all, my aunts and uncles were living ungodly, worldly, unsaved lives, and my parents were afraid that their sin would rub off on us.

We were first stationed at a small air base in California. It was there that my mom began to have some serious problems. She was diagnosed with manic depression, which is now called bipolar disorder, at 26. Our lives had changed forever.

My parents refused to acknowledge the diagnosis. They firmly believed that prayer would get them through it, so they prayed. Psychiatric medicine was of Satan. But my mom’s manic episodes were also pretty satanic. My sister and I were screamed at while my mom pounded on us using both hands, whapping us up one side of the head before slapping us on the other. She would put her hands on our shoulders and “shake some sense” into us. She would blister us, her term for a spanking that left welts.

Angela and I spent hours plotting our escape. We were just six and 10, but we were desperate to run away. Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how to get off base without being discovered. Then my sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Even today, doctors don’t really know what actually causes T1D, but my parents knew: It was God’s punishment for their premarital sex. God punishes unto the seventh generation, they believed, and they never let us forget it.

My parents decided that we needed to be in IFB schools. Before that, we’d gone to the base schools, but an incident between a young boy and myself came to light, and my mother decided that this sin could have been prevented had we been in Christian schools. Clearly, God kept raining down punishments on our heads because my parents weren’t doing right. So we became further isolated, and the bruises became easier to hide or explain away.

When my sister reached puberty, my parents went to a Gothard Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts conference that would tell them how to handle her. I don’t know if it worked, but I do know that life became exponentially harder the older we got. We continued to be slapped, blistered and hurt throughout our teen years, and I hated myself for not being the good Christian that I knew I was supposed to be.

Screaming was the soundtrack of our lives. By the time we reached Illinois, I was suicidal. I tried to talk to my youth pastor — who else did I have? — and he told me that suicide was one of the greatest slaps in the face to God, that I would indeed be punished. Besides, I had so much to live for … but I had nothing to live for, nothing more than more violence, more pain, more fear. I hung my head, and moved on. I would try so hard to be the kind of Christian I was supposed to be, but I always failed. I hated looking so different from the other kids. I hated feeling like I had to worship and praise God even though I was pretty sure He didn’t care at all what happened to me. Maybe most of all, I hated the hypocrisy of the screaming and verbal and sometimes physical abuse that filled the car every Sunday on the way to church and how we all had to snap into insta-smiles the second we got there.

Angela went off to college, and things quieted down a bit. She attended Hyles Anderson College, and my parents were in awe of Jack Hyles. They decided that we needed to become even more spiritual. So away my makeup went, and my skirts and culottes became even longer, even baggier than they’d already been. I felt humiliated every time we walked out of the house, but I dare not express my feelings. I couldn’t express any opinions at all, when it came down to it.

Other girls at my IFB school had cute 80s hairstyles, bright makeup, neon plastic jewelry and on-trend clothes. I wore prairie dresses that my mother made using clearance gingham from Wal-Mart. It was such a small thing, but it hurt to be so very different just like it hurt to know that even though I was 14, I was still getting blistered because I was just that disobedient.

Even until that point, though, I didn’t realize that my family was not normal. I never thought to cry out, to tell someone in authority, that I was being abused because no one called it abuse. It was the rod of correction, discipline, chastening. And every time, I deserved it because I’d forgotten to wash the dishes, or smarted off, or simply been in my mom’s way during one of her manic rages. So I focused on the visible differences. I was sent off to an IFB college as soon as I graduated from high school at barely 17, and I could finally breathe.

IFB colleges have strict rules and oppressive environments, but for the first time in my life, I really was finally free of violence and pain. I studied hard, but I also fell in love. I told myself it was love, anyway. In reality, I mostly saw him as a way of escape, and as we sneaked around to find isolated spots on campus, we fell deeper into a physical relationship.

As my mother later would say, be sure your sin will find you out. I was kicked out post haste when the administration discovered the nature of our relationship. What awaited me at home was far worse. My mother began to scream that she had always known what a whore I was and then began to chant in a voice I still remember to this day that adulteresses should be put to death. She put her hands around my throat and began to shake me as she had so many years before. Her grip around my neck tightened, and I knew I was going to die.

The timing could not have been better. My dad walked into the room right as sparkly darkness began to drift down over my vision, and my mom let go.

I moved out after that. It caused no little scandal since daughters were supposed to live at home until marriage. No decent IFB guy wanted me now, though, since I’d been “defiled,” and I was not about to spend every day in fear of my life.

Living on the outside was something I’d been completely unprepared for, but I relished the freedom. I could come and go as I pleased, I could wear pants and no one was hurting me. They may have seemed like small things, but they were enormously important to me.

Over the next several years, I began to discover who I was and find peace in my relationships with other people. I sought counseling to manage some terrible coping habits that I’d picked up over the years, and I learned that everything that had happened had a name: It was abuse. And it wasn’t my fault. I began a relationship with a young man who never saw me as the horrible, sinful person everyone in my previous life had always told me that I was.

I’m nearly 40 now, married to that wonderful young man, and we have three sons together, and those memories from such a long-ago time are ever-present in my mind. My mother has since died, and my father has disowned me. There’s a terrible peace in that. I wish that we could have had a relationship, but our pasts are too damaged, too fraught with the evil of an abusive family and the religious system that encouraged it, to have been able to move past it.

The Hidden Abuse of Children in Organized Religion

child abuseFor decades, Religious Abuse has been well hidden within organized religions throughout the world. Those that bear the brunt of this abuse are women and children. In this article, I would like to focus on how it affects children that are raised within, and trapped in, an abusive religious system. My blog is full of articles and stories that cover this topic of abuse against women and children if readers would like to learn more about this type of abuse. First of all, let me explain what religious abuse is, and then I will explain how it affects children. Many have no idea what the definition of that term is. So, what exactly is Religious Abuse?

Religious Abuse – Any harm or violence inflicted by people within any religious sect toward an adult or child that results in harm or trauma physically, emotionally, psychologically and/or sexually and, may even lead to the death of the victim. There are many facets to religious abuse. They are as follows: Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, and Spiritual Abuse. Each of these areas of Religious Abuse can be expounded upon here: RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is It? The number one goal of those that inflict this abuse is complete CONTROL of others for personal gratification and/or gain, monetary greed and power.

The most destructive aspect to religious abuse is Spiritual Abuse. Spiritual Abuse does NOT allow for any of the following:

  • Individuality or autonomy
  • Independent thinking and reasoning
  • Freedom of Choice
  • Freedom of Belief
  • Questioning of authority, religious rules, religious precepts, or abuses inflicted.
  • Escape from the abuse and control

Spiritual Abuse DOES demand, in the name of “God”:

  • Blind and unquestionable obedience to religious leaders
  • Conformity to all group rules, dogmas and precepts
  • Punishment of those that disagree or question the authority or rules
  • Punishment of those that speak out about abuse inflicted by those in authority
  • The silencing of, public humiliation of, and/or death of, those that continue to disobey and/or speak out about the abuse

As stated earlier, the goal of abusive religions is ultimate control of others. In a religious setting, this can be a breeding ground for the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Because those in authority use the name of God and Scripture to justify their abuse, the psychological trauma is unparalleled.  To the victim, God becomes vengeful, exacting, merciless, unloving, uncaring AND gives permission for “his people” to be abusive in his name.

Because of this demand for religious conformity and control within an abusive system, religious abuse occurs and children cannot escape it. In an abusive religion, children have no rights. They have no choices. They have no voice. The abusive religion requires them to obey without question or suffer the consequences. Many of these consequences are criminal.  Many result in the death of the child!

In order to facilitate the programming and behavior modification process, many are put in boarding schools or behavior modification facilities to be “forced” into conformity. Many of these facilities harbor rapists, pedophiles and abusers that perpetrate sexual violence, physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and, spiritual abuse. Freedom of choice and belief has no place in any of these facilities. Those that run these facilities are given absolute and unquestionable authority over these children. This type of authority leads to religious abuse and can encompass all aspects as mentioned in my article, RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is It?  Non-conformity to the demands of leadership within these places will bring punishment in the form of spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and, yes, sexual abuse and exploitation. Here are some stories of children that have endured these abuses at the hands of those that should have been their protectors:

Kim Holt’s Story  – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia LA

Kerry Lou’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

Sam’s Story

Donna Trout’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Simone’s Story – New Bethany Homes For Girls, Arcadia LA

All of these children were emotionally and psychologically destroyed through the constant barrage of verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuses. For more stories like these visit my blog –  Also search the internet…the stories are endless.

You may be wondering how in the world abusers can get away with such crimes against children? Let me tell you how:

Sexual exploitation of women and children in abusive religious institutions is a very difficult subject matter to deal with. Exposing it is an even harder task. It has been going on not just for decades, but centuries! Abusive religious institutions have mastered the art of silencing, shaming, bullying, building loyalty, stalling and, walking away from victims without ever helping them and providing restitution and vindication for the crimes perpetrated against them. Instead they have punished and placed blame on the victims. They have used their religious authority and administrative and financial prowess to effectively destroy and silence any who dare to speak out about the abuses they may have suffered. Character assassination, death, torture, public humiliation and shunning by church members and or family members, are just a few of the tactics that victims have to deal with after coming forward with abuse allegations. To understand what I mean by character assassination, please read my articles entitled Character Assassination.”

There are several reasons why these “abusers and predators in the name of God” can get away with their abuses against children. One of the main reasons for the lack of prosecution of sexual predators is Statute of Limitations (SOL) laws here in the U.S. that prevent victims of sexual assault from prosecuting their rapists after a certain number of years has passed. It can take decades for a victim to muster up the courage to speak out! Many church leaders are working hard at keeping these S.O.L. laws in place while victims of the abuse are fighting to get them removed.

Another reason is that many of the crimes are perpetrated in foreign countries where our laws do not apply. Many abusers and rapists come back from the foreign mission field to live free lives here in the U.S., never spending one single day in jail for their crimes. Prosecution must be sought in the country where the crime occurs in order for victims to stop their abusers from hurting others. Many mission organizations and foreign churches are SILENCING and placing BLAME on the victims and, are not reporting the crimes done on foreign soil! As a result, predators are going free; many of which, are moving on to new victims.  Churches here in the U.S. are moving pedophiles and rapists from church to church instead of turning them over to police. Religiously run homes and boarding schools on the foreign field and here in the U.S. have become safe havens for abusers of children due to laws that prevent state and local authorities over site of the facilities.  Another issue is that some of the rapists are still on foreign soil and cannot be prosecuted because of this. The following video is one of the perpetrators admitting to his abuses and living freely here in the U.S.

Video: Leslie Emory admits to molesting girls in the Philipines

Despite these frustrations, victims of sexual assault must forge ahead, paving the way for changes in law that will protect women and children in religiously run institutions. Is this an easy endeavor? NO, it is NOT! It takes years to affect change. It takes years to get all the cogs out of the wheels of religiously run institutions that are in place to specifically protect the institution from accountability to victims! Can it be done? Absolutely Yes…if victims will be persistent and join their voices together with all the thousands out there that have suffered the same fate as them. There truly is POWER in numbers.

Freedom of belief is of paramount importance in the lives of adults and children alike. Freedom of belief allows for freedom of choice. Most religions do not allow for either of these and, as a result, religious abuse is rampant and children cannot escape it. Parents and missionaries within abusive and controlling religions become abusers themselves through physical violence, sexual exploitation, incest, rape and emotional abuse of children. It’s time for people everywhere to wake up to what is hiding underneath the “mantle of righteousness” many religions wear. Religious abuse is real and it is destroying lives! It is responsible for people having a distorted view of God and spiritual concepts as well as turning them away from God.  The following stories will give you firsthand testimony of what can happen to children in an abusive religion.

Sherri’s Story

HollyJane (Stewart) Belle’s Story of Child Rape and Incest

Cathy’s Story of Kidnapping, Rape, Abuse and Cover-up – Part 1

Stopping the abuse means that we must find the root of it. The root of the problem seems to stem from inequality, authoritarian leadership and, lack of freedom to believe and choose for oneself. Within abusive religions, these factors affect women and children and lead to abuses not only within religiously run institutions, but in the home.