I grew up in a ‘religious’ home. More like I grew up in a cultish home. Not like the typical live on a compound and reject all outside influences cults, but one that is a little more odd. The cult I grew up in is called a Pseudo-Christian Cult. The definition of a Pseudo-Christian Cult according to an essay written by Kevin Bywater, “a Pseudo-Christian Cult is one that looks like Christians on the outside, but they don’t teach truth. They use the bible to twist things to make them say what they want them to say.” http://www.summit.org/resources/essays/discerning-pseudo-christian-religion/ Whether this twisting is on purpose or not, I don’t know.
I grew up being taught by my parents what we had to do whatever the pastor said because he was the mouth piece of God. According to my parents, if the pastor said to come to church naked on Sunday, we would have went to church naked.
In our home, my parents never opened the Bible to teach us from. They just quoted scriptures. There were a few times I was being mouthy and asked where those scriptures were found, but they never could tell me. On my last conversation with my dad in November, he told me,”God says, if you raise your hand against a Child of God, He will strike you down. ” I am sorry, but I laughed. I really did. It isn’t in the bible. It is just another example of how they twisted stuff to make it sound how they wanted it too.
Growing up, I was always grounded for something. Usually it was questioning what they had told me. Sometimes it was rolling my eyes, and sometimes it was because I didn’t get my chores done because I wanted to read. Sometimes my siblings would tell on me, other times my mom claimed God told her.
One such thing that God told her I did was hold hands with my best friend. I liked him off and on and my parents hated him. Anyways, we held hands for about five minutes. No one saw us. I go home and am in my bed when she walks in. She says she was laying in bed when God told her I was holding hands. I got grounded for a week for that.
There was another time that I had to do the laundry. We all hated doing the laundry and would take as many short cuts as possible. The girls were the ones that did the chores, the boys would play outside. Sometimes we would have 6 loads of laundry to do on our day. That is sad because we had laundry everyday. I am not saying I did the laundry perfect, and I would take shortcuts. Sometimes if there was half a load to fold, I would put half of that back in the dirty clothes to be washed the next day. Laundry would take hours and as a teenager, you have homework, and fun stuff to do. I didn’t want to be stuck doing laundry all day. So, one day, my dad said that God told him what I was doing.
I grew up with a very judgmental God. One that is just waiting to trip you or cause you to fail. My parents forced me to sit on the front pew right next to the pastor’s wife. There I had to worship, or they would have preacher’s lay their hands on me. They would try to pray demons out of people. Sometimes my mom would egg preachers on to pray for her kids so she could go up there and start crying and begging me to pray that my soul was saved.
Most of the time she just sat back on her bench in the back and watched us. If we didn’t worship like good little Pentecostal kids, we would be grounded until we learned to participate. So, as a way to preserve myself there were times when I didn’t want to shout at church but I did anyways. I tried to limit the faking to just when she was looking. There was a time when the women of the church ran around the sanctuary and my mom told me to run. I refused. I thought it was stupid for women to run. She looked at me and said, “God said if you don’t run you are going to Hell.” I was terrified, so I ran. When I got home, I was grounded for not listening to God’s voice.
To prove we were not lying as children, we had to swear on a Bible. We sometimes walked around wondering when God was going to strike us down with cancer or something. If we did something really bad like make a bad grade on a test, my parents would pray down curses on us. We would have family prayer meetings to pray for the sibling that needed God’s touch. We would all gather in the living room in our special places. We would hear our parents pray some thing like this: “O God, I pray for Morgan. You know she is so disrespectful. I just don’t know what to do with her. I lift her up so You can teach her a lesson. God, make her sick. Make her sick until she learns to be respectful and not question authority.” I would get sick, but not from God. It was from power of suggestion.
Another perfect example of this praying curses down. My brother calls me one day to tell me that when I left I hurt him. He went on to say he got on drugs. I was thinking he was on pain killers and such. Well, it turns out he was calling smokeless tobacco a drug. Our mom found out about it. I called and talked to her about it and she said she already took care of it. She talked to him and prayed with him that if he did it again he would be so sick to the point of death. A few weeks later, I got a call from my mom. She was so happy that God answered her prayers. My brother did it again and got sick.
I know now that God isn’t a tattletale. My mom was using God as a way to manipulate us into self incrimination. We were not bad kids, I was not a bad kid. We were just products of our environment. We were taught awful things about God that were not true. God is not waiting to beat people over the head with a baseball bat. He isn’t waiting around the corner to trip you as you walk by. He is loving and kind. He wants to see you succeed and be happy. My parents were just that controlling that they didn’t want us to have a true grip on who God really is. By making us think that God would tell on us, they were able to control us even when we were not around them. My parents were that hateful that they wanted us to think we served a God that hated us. I am so glad they were wrong. God is healing and loving and one day I will fully begin to understand that. For now I will just settle for knowing they were wrong.