I weep for the children who are victimized by their spiritual leaders

December 27, 2007 at 11:59 pm 41 comments

Jesus and the childrenEarlier this month, one of the elements of the church service I attended was the confirmation of Chloe, a seven-year-old girl, as a junior member of the congregation. This is the first of two confirmations that my denomination typically holds: the first for youngsters, the second for adolescents no younger than fourteen.

The guest pastor who was conducting the ceremony noted that, prior to the service, the girl’s mother had asked, several times, “Are you sure that you’ve repented of your sins and asked Jesus to forgive you?” The child answered affirmatively, and her mother and the pastor were satisfied that she was indeed ready to be confirmed.

As the pastor recounted that story, I had to suppress a shudder. I could not help thinking, “The child is seven years old! What sins could she possibly have committed that would require repentance and divine forgiveness?” I also realized, to my horror, that in order to have learned something about the doctrines of repentance, forgiveness and salvation, Chloe may also have learned something about the corollary doctrines of human depravity and hell. After all, the reasons to repent and be “saved” are to have one’s soul “cleansed from sin” and to avoid spending eternity in hell. In my denomination, we don’t focus on hell very much. This girl would have been taught mostly positive stuff: having Jesus “in your heart,” living in heaven forever after you die, being a good girl and so on. Somewhere along the line, though, the consequences of not choosing repentance and salvation probably were taught too. Chloe’s parents were proud of their daughter and pleased that she had reached this milestone. I was saddened that she had been coerced, regardless of how gently and lovingly, into making confessions, that at the age of seven, she cannot possibly comprehend.

Richard Dawkins would likely assert that Chloe has been abused. As I watched Chloe, beaming with joy, I had to concede that Dawkins might have a point. I’m sure Chloe’s parents haven’t browbeaten her with horrific tales of hellfire and brimstone. And I’m sure that the youth leaders in my church have not intentionally frightened her into making this confession. Nevertheless, if she has been exposed in any way to the doctrines of inherent sinfulness, eternal damnation and hellfire, she has been emotionally and psychologically abused.

Sad to say, Chloe’s situation is much less objectionable than that faced by the children of Christian parents elsewhere. These children are enduring vicious persecution that has not been incited by the Taliban, nor is it sustained by the Wahhabi. Oh, no! In Nigeria, thousands of children have been abandoned, tortured and killed by their Christian parents and pastors. These heinous acts are being perpetrated in the name of evangelical Christianity’s loving God! Why are these children being treated so violently? Well, you see, they’re witches! Thousands of them! They are causing crop failures, floods, droughts, job losses, disease … whatever the problem is, some evil child is its cause. Can you imagine the terror and confusion these children suffer as they try to understand why their parents hate them? Does this not chill you to your core and make your blood run cold?

Are there any qualitative differences between these two cases, or are the distinctions merely those of degree rather than kind? Does expecting a child to repent of “sins” at the age of seven differ very much from believing that a child of seven (or two, or ten) embodies evil? In both cases, children are being taught that they are flawed beings. In fact, not only are they flawed, they are wicked to the core. Exactly how and why does one repent for existing in his or her natural state? I can no more repent for being “inherently depraved” than I can for being female. It’s simply who I am. How can children in Nigeria be held responsible for being “sorcerers”? They didn’t choose to be who they are. They simply are. Children like Chloe are relatively lucky, for they at least believe that they have a hope of redemption. The terrorized children in Nigeria are being taught that they are beyond redemption. Sadly, many of these children will never realize that they don’t need redemption at all, that, in fact, they are wonderful, exquisite individuals just as they are. This the real travesty of Christianity. Any religion that requires people, particularly children, to despise their humanity is utterly inhuman, inexcusable and intolerable. Until such religions are rejected, I will weep for all of the children who are victimized by their spiritual leaders.

– the chaplain

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The Myth of God’s Unconditional Love Time Is on My Side

41 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Thinking Ape  |  December 28, 2007 at 3:56 am

    Well written article – I actually enjoyed this much more than I did Dawkins’ chapter on child abuse in “The God Delusion.” However, the discussion I think warrants more than what is at face value and strict literalism. I wonder how many people actually believe the heinous doctrines of total depravity and eternal punishment. I don’t just mean some sort of indirect acknowledgment of what is written in their sacred text, but rather in their deepest conscious mind. I only wonder because if I was ever pushed enough, when I was an evangelical, I might have rather easily denied such doctrines – or at least the extremity of them. Do religionists possibly accept such horrific beliefs because the concepts are more imaginative than they are real?

    Quite honestly I think it is a stretch to agree with Dawkins’ idea that the nature of religion leads to various forms of child abuse. I think it depends on the people within the specific group of specific ideas. Obviously the acts and beliefs of any form of child-raising will have both positive and negative outcomes, and none of us have all of the world’s answers – we all live in delusions of one sort or another, some are harmful some are not. Comparing a moderate Christian family with that of a Charismatic family will obviously have serious differences, and even moreso if compared with something like People’s Temple. The problem I find is in the extremism, because it is in fanatic religiousity that our concepts – those things that we “believe” more with words than with the mind – become “real” to us. So what happens when an entire part of society becomes increasingly extremist, such as in areas of the United States, and then they gain political power?

  • 2. Anonymous  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:16 am

    Thank-you for providing the links about the witch hunts in Nigeria. I wonder why Tracy McVeigh is the only journalist to report on this? Everything I can find on this subject in a quick Google search that is not her article, uses her article for their only reference. I’d think this was important enough that other newspapers might look in on it.

  • 3. Quester  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:37 am

    Comment #2 was from me. Sorry, didn’t realize I wasn’t logged in.

  • 4. TheDeeZone  |  December 28, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Well written article.

    I would like to respond to the comment of about what types of sins a 7 year old would have. I can speak for all churches but only my personal expericene.

    My conversion experience occured at the age of 7 after over a year of asking my parents questions about God. Yes, I knew about Christ’s death on the cross and had heard about hell. However the emphasis was on God’s love not on the negitive. For me scare tactics were not used.

    I have observed, heard about or know of other instances where this is not the case. It is never appropriate to use scare tactics with anyone especially children.

  • 5. Ardegas  |  December 28, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Is discipline child abuse?

    If we are going to see things through big lenses, then there are a lot of ways that a child can be abused in a normal family.

    What about atheist child abuse?

    If you teach your child the atheist belief that there is no afterlife, would’n that hurt her?

  • 6. John Pageless  |  December 28, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    I have to admit that there is an element of abuse in teaching young children to fear eternal hell. The more extreme and conservative the religion, the more abusive and stifling it tends to be for children.

    At the same time, I have to raise the question whether this is the fault of the religion itself, the religious institution, or the society in which the institution resides. While the societies and institutions which you use as an example are both Christian. Despite what many Christians may believe today, there was once a period in time when some Christians believed in universal salvation. The fact that this sect lost out during the evolution of the original church points the fault at society and the institution.

    I make this distinction because I don’t believe it to be fair to judge all religions based upon the doctrine of extreme and conservative religions. Liberal religions are far from being abusive, and can be nurturing for children.

    I think sometimes atheists see mainstream Christian and Islamic institutions and society as being representative of all religions. It’s more important to see these occurrences as symptoms of a sick society or corrupt institution.

  • 7. karen  |  December 28, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Great piece, chaplain – thanks! I read a story in the New York Times probably a week or so ago about an African immigrant congregation in New York City that has brought a lot of its customs into the U.S. They spend all night at these exhausting services where they “do battle” with the devil and his demons – literally jumping around and punching the air, flailing their arms and kicking.

    The sad part is that children are dragged to these services and made to participate. How terrifying it must be to believe the empty space around you is filled with evil spirits! That article seemed to border on abusive behavior to me, especially since I am such a stickler on children getting a good night’s sleep every night.

    TA asked:
    I wonder how many people actually believe the heinous doctrines of total depravity and eternal punishment. I don’t just mean some sort of indirect acknowledgment of what is written in their sacred text, but rather in their deepest conscious mind.

    I don’t know about what others feel deep in their psyches, but I can tell you that I took the original sin and hell doctrines 1000% seriously. It took me several years after deconversion before I could even begin to think of myself as an inherently good person. I was so convinced of my depravity, just entertaining the possibility that I was able to make good choices on my own felt like breathtaking arrogance and pride.

  • 8. JustCan't  |  December 28, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    TheDeeZone wrote…
    “My conversion experience occured at the age of 7 after over a year of asking my parents questions about God. Yes, I knew about Christ’s death on the cross and had heard about hell. However the emphasis was on God’s love not on the negitive. For me scare tactics were not used.”

    Although this looks less harmful to a child, it doesn’t really let the young child know what they are agreeing to, does it? How can you give yourself fully to something if you don’t know exactly what you are even accepting. I personally believe that it is not right for a child to be exposed to this stuff at all — either they just can’t comprehend what they are agreeing to or they are scared into it by people they look up to.

    Unfortunately the “get ‘em while their young” mindset says a lot about Christianity (and other religions for that matter). If you push it early on then they won’t ever question it — it’ll just be a part of who they are. If you don’t question it (either because you’ve only heard the wonderful things or are scared stiff by the bad things) they’ve already got you. It is a powerful way to propagate a pathology of any kind.

    It is for these reasons that I find it very hard to respect a fundamentalist Christian — they spend their time plotting to scare (or make the story sweet enough for) children in order to have one more like them. Abusive, harmful, selfish, and dishonest are all words that could be used to define this system.

  • 9. LeoPardus  |  December 28, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    As Quester points out, this whole story stems from a single source. Some substantial confirmation is needed. While it may turn out to be true, it may not. As it is, I am not willing to simply accept this at first glance.

    This does however point up perfectly what I lamented about the tendency to demonize one’s former beliefs. Some are jumping right in with, “Yeah Christianity is abusive, evil, etc.” No skepticism about the article. No consideration of abuse among non-Christians, or non-religious. No effort to think about millions of people growing up Christian and being nice, normal neighbors and workmates. No balance.

    How about consideration of the abuse and damage by non-belief that makes people view the majority of the world as either perpetrators or victims of abuse and evil?

  • 10. TheDeeZone  |  December 28, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    John Pageless: Regarding the Christians believing in Univerisal Salvation. Historical and theological Univerisalist and Fundmentialist Baptist are opposite ends of the same spectrum. There are 2 divisions of Baptists general and particular. The general varitey believe(d) that salvation is available to all. The extreme verision of this is Universialist and the opennes of God theology. The particular Baptist are Calvinist in nature and the extreme would be Primiative Baptist who believe in predestination and that God will or has already saved those who are going to be saved. For see H. Leon McBeth’s The Baptist Hertiage

    Karen: About children being dragged to church. For the most part I enjoyed going to church especially when I was younger. We were in a large church with many excellant programs for children including music. One thing I have noticed is many times parents drag their children to church on Sunday but fail to practice what their faith the rest of the week. I saw my parents live out their faith the rest of the week. It was something we did as a family and was a big event.

    TA & Karen: I believe in total depravity of man, eternal punishment and original sin. I also belive in forgiveness, mercy and grace. A faith that makes no impact on ones daily life is pointless.

    Just Can’t: While at the age of 7 I did not have the spirtual understanding that I have 30+ years later and after a degree in Theology. I understood enough. It is morally wrong to scare a child into good behaviour. Whether it is threatening that God will send them to hell or the policeman will put them in jail it is wrong. In my case that just didn’t happen. Instead I had parents who focused on how God’s love & lived practice their faith in front of me. Yes, we read Bible stories every night, sang Bible songs and learned Bible verses. Most if not all were used to provide encouragement to me. (i.e. “God did not Give me a spirit of fear …”, Jesus Loves me, & I Am Promise).

  • 11. confusedchristian  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    DeeZone, I was raised similarly to you. I had the feel good Jesus and the Promises of Love and Joy and most importantly, peace.

    Let me ask ya Dee, hypothetically, I understand that you may never come to this conclusion so bear with me. If you came to the conclusion that your theology was dead wrong, and that you were living a lie, would you want children to go through the same thing as you?

  • 12. TheDeeZone  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Confused Christian,

    My parents used their religous convictions to teach me how to be a good person not just a good Christian. Growing up more emphasis was placed on things like the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (See Gal. 5:22-23) and to treat others the way I wanted to be treated. Those are charactistcs that are beneficial for anyone beliver or not. My parents were good example parents period.
    To answer your question would I want other children to be raised in the same type of enviroment? Yes. The lessons I learned from my parents and grandparents made me a better person.

  • 13. confusedchristian  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    That wasn’t the question…

  • 14. confusedchristian  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    I didn’t ask if it benefited you or not, I asked if you came to the conclusion that your theology was dead wrong and you were living a lie would you want children to go through the same thing?

  • 15. societyvs  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Just stopping by to wish all the Deconversion crew a great holidays and happy new year. I think your blog raises a lot of good questions and there are many great thinkers on here – at the least it gets the convo’s moving in the right direction – us looking at something and examining it. I appreciate the blog and I will be stopping by in the new year to participate in the threads.

  • 16. Asymptosis  |  December 28, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Ardegas said:
    If you teach your child the atheist belief that there is no afterlife, would’n that hurt her?

    This sounds a bit like “I know you are, I said you are, but what am I?”

    There is great peace in accepting that one day the mind will go silent, and the body will fertilise new life. Best of all, this expectation of peace is no mere contrivance, but simply stems from observing and meditating!

    Furthermore, there is a contradiction in assuming that for people to live a healthy and happy life, it is necessary to focus on some “afterlife”. It makes more sense that if you want to live a healthy and happy life, you will focus on living a healthy and happy life.

  • 17. TheDeeZone  |  December 28, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Confused,

    Read the last sentence of #12. I did aswner your question. Yes, I would want another child to grow up in the home I grew up. Most of my religious instruction came from my parents and grandparents. For the most part I enjoyed attending church espeically as a young child. I attended Sunday School, Mission classes, music classes and other activites. I wasn’t forced to go to church. Ok, yes I had no choice in the matter but I wanted to go to church.

    DH

  • 18. confusedchristian  |  December 28, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    So you’re saying if you found out that your religion was completely false and that you were living a lie you would want children to do the same because you liked your childhood?

  • 19. tobeme  |  December 28, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    You pose some excellent questions. Is this abuse, is it simply a matter of degree? How should an adult who has made a decision on what doctrine to follow share that with their children. Should children have to await until they are free thinking adults to go through the rituals of religion. You have given us much to think about.

  • 20. exevangel  |  December 28, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with Dawkins either on the use of the word “abuse” in this context but I definitely think there is a strong element of programming or even brainwashing that goes on in Christian communities. The idea that a baby is born sinful and must be rushed to the baptismal fount in case something bad happens to him or her is only one example of the irrational behavior exhibited by otherwise rational human beings in the context of things the Church says you should do. By starting early, by encouraging children of 4 or 5 or 7 to repent, become saved, ask Jesus into their hearts, or whatever else terminology is used, the parents and the church start to establish a new “normal” in which doing irrational things is encouraged and never questioned. This sense of normalcy then carries on through the child’s upbringing into adulthood where it continues to seem important to do things that are irrational but that your parents did. It’s the sense of never questioning “why” that bothers me about the whole thing. You just use the weapon of kings of the middle ages by saying “Jesus says so” even though much of what is done is not biblical. So I do think it is very bad parenting to encourage this sort of behavior, because if the religion is as air-tight as Christians would like to suggest it is, then a little questioning would not likely cause the child to turn away. A child old enough to make a decision about their faith (arguably not a child of 4 or 7 but certainly by the mid-teen years) should be taught to make a thoughtful and reasoned decision, and thus by definition not one that could be made by a child of 4 or 7.

    Regardless of how loving and positive it seems, telling a small child that they need to be “saved” definitely implies something negative.

    Many of the functions of childhood church activities can be carried out in non-religious contexts. The girl scouts would have served many of the same purposes for me as did years of AWANA. And the added bonus would be not having children of 7 going around trying to “save” each other, which was always encouraged in the childhood church activities. It was all about proselytizing in my evangelical childhood–bringing friends to Sunday School, wearing your AWANA vest to school–telling your friends that they too were in need of being saved. Trying to establish a new sense of irrational normal.

  • 21. TheDeeZone  |  December 28, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    CC: Yes, I would not be opposed to other children having experiences similar to mine. It really wasn’t that bad.

    Tobeme: You make an excellant point.

    Exevangel: I am very wary of many “conversion” tactics used with children under the age of 10. Yes, my own conversion occured under the age of 10 and I was not pressured. That is not always the case. It is one thing to invite a friend to Sunday school or other activities. It is another to turn young children into little evangelist. From what I know about AWANAs they are little militant for my taste. Our church had music classes which focused on teaching us to read music. We also had a missisons class where we did several projects like collecting food for the homeless, making things for the elderly, etc.

  • 22. Thinking Ape  |  December 28, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    In response to those who answered my (somwhat) rhetorical assertion that people may not really believe the doctrines of depravity and hell: what I was getting at was that the doctrine of hell is managable because we don’t actually see hell. For me, I do not actually live my life thinking that we are all capable, at any given time, to open up another Auschwitz, or else I would live in constant fear. However, if I actually had been placed in Auschwitz and survived, I would be much more capable of such a fear.

  • 23. karen  |  December 28, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Unfortunately the “get ‘em while their young” mindset says a lot about Christianity (and other religions for that matter). If you push it early on then they won’t ever question it — it’ll just be a part of who they are. If you don’t question it (either because you’ve only heard the wonderful things or are scared stiff by the bad things) they’ve already got you. It is a powerful way to propagate a pathology of any kind.

    Exactly why it is so difficult to begin questioning in midlife when you went through that indoctrination early on, as I did, and were taught it is a sin to question.

    I read once that children around the age of 7-9 first start questioning what they’ve been taught and looking at the world more analytically. Probably not coincidentally, this is when most realize that Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny are fantasies. I think it’s telling that it’s the same age when many/most religions begin formal conversion or confirmation programs (Catechism, Hebrew school, baptism class, etc) for children. At my former church, by FAR the most popular prayer request at infant “dedication ceremonies” (we didn’t do infant baptism) was for the child to “accept Christ at an early age.” Parents were very much afraid to have a child who questioned or doubted!

    As it is, I am not willing to simply accept this at first glance.

    I am fairly willing to accept that this is probably accurate reporting, in that the story is extremely detailed and includes photos and a video. The Guardian journalist involved could be writing fiction or grossly misinterpreting, but it seems unlikely. EbonMuse (of the Daylight Atheism blog) wrote about it here:

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/12/the-witch-children-of-nigeria.html

    This bold statement would be unbelievable if the story itself didn’t provide so many first-hand examples. There are numerous children quoted whose own parents, inflamed to frenzy by Christian preachers, have thrown boiling water and acid at them, who have left them tied to trees for days, who have forced them to drink poison. The children who are not killed by this torture are invariably driven out of their homes to live as homeless orphans in communities that despise and fear them and often attempt to kill them on sight.

    He’s also written about similar practices:

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/04/rebuking-the-devil.html

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/01/witch-hysteria.html

    Also, in the 90s I worked for a Christian humanitarian relief agency that did a lot of work in Africa, and we often got field reports that were similar to this story, so it doesn’t sound that far off the mark to me.

    Dee:
    Karen: About children being dragged to church. For the most part I enjoyed going to church especially when I was younger. We were in a large church with many excellant programs for children including music.

    I don’t have a problem with parents expecting their children to attend typical churches, as you describe. However, the story I referenced was anything but a typical church. Keeping very young children up all night at services populated with boogie men, ghosts, demons, the devil and adults whipping themselves into a frenzy is a very different matter, and does sound abusive or potentially so to me.

    societytv:
    Just stopping by to wish all the Deconversion crew a great holidays and happy new year. I think your blog raises a lot of good questions and there are many great thinkers on here – at the least it gets the convo’s moving in the right direction – us looking at something and examining it. I appreciate the blog and I will be stopping by in the new year to participate in the threads.

    Happy new year to you also, society! Thanks for the kind words and looking forward to your participation here. :-)

  • 24. TheDeeZone  |  December 28, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Karen: I couldn’t agree with you more about that is wrong to keep a child up forever & use scare tactics. I taught in a Christian school & saw many abuses of that by parents. It is just plain wrong.

    About “Get ‘em While they are young”: The principle of “Train up a child in the ways he/she should go…” applies more morals and how to live rather than just early conversion. Parents need to live out their belives & teach with actions not just words.

    According to my parents I questioned everything from an early age. My dad thought it was his responsiblity to explain not only what he believed but why. He encouraged me to use reason and logic not just emotions or feelings.

  • 25. Thinking Ape  |  December 29, 2007 at 3:35 am

    What is the difference between a “spiritual leader” and a “self-help counselor”?

  • 26. TheDeeZone  |  December 29, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Asymptosis: You decipt the kind of “spiritual leaders” that are really neither spiritual nor leaders. Those kind of “leaders” make me very angry. Ugh!!! I am reminded of a line from a DCTalk song “The greatest condeemnation agaisnt Christianity is Christians.

    TA: Very interesting question. A spiritual leader approaches things from a spiritual or religious prespective which may include self-help and self-help instruction. A self-help counselor foucses on self-improvement. It is possible for someone to be both a spiritual leader and a self-help counselor.

  • 27. Asymptosis  |  December 29, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Thinking Ape,

    Certainly, they are neither mutually exclusive, nor equivalent. As TheDeeZone says, it is possible for someone to be both. It is also possible to be a spiritual leader and anything but a self-help counselor.

    I quite liked this about wowsers. (It seems relevant.)

  • 28. Thinking Ape  |  December 30, 2007 at 3:44 am

    TheDeeZone says:

    A spiritual leader approaches things from a spiritual or religious prespective which may include self-help and self-help instruction. A self-help counselor foucses on self-improvement.

    Asymptosis states,

    It is also possible to be a spiritual leader and anything but a self-help counselor.

    It seems like you are both saying one can have spiritual leadership without attempting self-improvement, correct? Granted, spiritual leadership, just like many self-help gurus, are actually more harmful than they are helpful, but we are speaking about intention and purpose are we not? I readily recognize that a “spiritual leader approaches things from a spiritual or religious prespective,” but how does this pragmatically differ? Are there any manifestations of the two that one can see an actual difference (and I mean more than just invoking the name of God)?

  • 29. TheDeeZone  |  December 31, 2007 at 12:42 am

    TA: I’m will have to think about your questions some. The first answer that comes to my mind is that not all spiritual leaders are in the self-help realm. For example my Dad was Minister of music & considered a spiritual leader. However most of his teaching at church related to music and not self-help. Of course that isn’t a good answer. It has been a long day of travel & my brain needs some rest.

  • 30. Asymptosis  |  December 31, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Are there any manifestations of the two that one can see an actual difference (and I mean more than just invoking the name of God)?

    Hi Thinking Ape,

    I’m sorry, could you please clarify this question? Thanks.

  • 31. Thinking Ape  |  December 31, 2007 at 7:00 am

    Asymptosis,

    I’m sorry, could you please clarify this question? Thanks.

    No problem. What I mean to say is, are there actual actions that someone, who maybe is not familiar with the lingo of the Christian subculture, can see a difference between what you might call a “spiritual leader” and what you might call a “self-help counselor”?

    Keep in mind that I am surrounded mainly by evangelicals and some pentecostals in my life and part of my de-conversion process has been a result of the inability to see any real transformative power in people who call themselves “born-again” Christians (including my previous self). I found only a shallow act of “joyfulness” on the surface, but every person has the same dark secrets, same troubles, and same seriously flawed responses despite their religiousity (and it is even more pronounced among the so-called leaders of the church) – all things that many Christians say are suppose to be remedied by the transformative power of the Spirit.

  • 32. Asymptosis  |  December 31, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    (Sorry if this already got posted. I’m having Internet problems today.)

    Hi Thinking Ape,

    I don’t think I can answer that definitively. I can’t say I actually know any self-help counselors. My personal experience with spiritual leaders extends to three Lutheran pastors and a Pentacostal minister.

    These spiritual leaders were (are) involved in at least one activity that I don’t envisage self-help counselors taking part in: ministry. The Pentacostal minister in particular actively and bravely evangelises and helps the needy. On the other hand, I would never seek him out for counseling, self-help or otherwise. He speaks openly about having problems with Satan in his household, and brags about how he “helped” a homosexual by doing an exorcism. (This of course was very noble since the man had already been banned from many churches for his “sinful ways.”)

    I can’t think of any activities that a self-help counselor would do that a spiritual leader definitely would not do.

  • 33. TheDeeZone  |  December 31, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Please excuse my spelling errors. My arch nemsis dyslexia is really acting up today.

    TA & Asymptosis,

    I think Asymptosis provides an excellant answer. My exprience with spiritual leaders includes ministers in several demonations: Baptist, Assembly of God, Evangelical Free, Catholic, Presybetrain, Angelican, Espicolain, Methodist, CMA, Pentecostal, Church of God, Church of Christ, Bible Church plus many more I can’t remember. My Dad, Grandad and Uncle where ministers.

    I would make the following additions. I think the role a minister plays determines if the minister is also a self-help counselor. Counselors, Outreach ministers, Social ministry pastors, education minsiters, pastoral care pastors, missions pastors and recreation pastors more concerned with self-help issues than Sr. ministers, evangelism pastors or adminstration Ministers.

    I have observed one differance between spiritual leaders and some self-help consuelors. Self-help counselours tend to place more emhasis on putting one’s self first. Spiritual leaders tend to place the emphasis on God first, other 2nd and self third.

    Once I appologize for the spelling errors. I am stressed today due to my grandma being seriously ill. When I am stressed I have more problems with my dyslexia. If you stuck it out this far thanks for reading.

    DH

  • 34. Christian Education or Indoctrination? « de-conversion  |  January 2, 2008 at 10:52 am

    [...] 2, 2008 The focus of my last post, I weep for the children who are victimized by their spiritual leaders, was about various ways that churches manipulate, and sometimes even abuse, children. The second of [...]

  • 35. Casey  |  January 6, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I was 5 when I “converted” I barely even remember it. I don’t know if hell was used as a motivator but I do remember being desperate to make my parents proud of me and confessing my sins really thrilled them. Is it not as bad to use a parents love and a child’s desperation for approval from their authority figures as it is to scare them with hell. A 5 year old neither has sins which need confessing nor has an understanding of anything deep enough to make a commitment that is considered permanent.

  • 36. Kelli Stowe  |  February 22, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I have been researching this for a while and have created three petitions that let our voices be heard. Please sign them for the children.

    Copy each line of the urls and paste it in your browser.

    Thank you,
    Kelli

  • 37. Kelli Stowe  |  February 22, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Sorry the urls didn’t show up.

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/

    children-are-targets-of-nigerian-
    witch-hunt

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/

    stop-liberty-foundation-
    gospelministries-from-hurting-
    anymore-precious-children-for-
    money

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/

    stop-the-churches-in-nigeria-from-
    endangeringchildrens-lives-to-
    extort-money-from-there-parents

  • 38. LeoPardus  |  February 24, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Kelli:

    A ways up the thread someone mentioned that the only source on all of this was the one article by Tracy McVeigh. I couldn’t find anything more when I looked. Since you researched it more, can you tell us what other sources confirm the events?

  • 39. peter oroche bosire  |  April 30, 2008 at 11:44 am

    very interesting and sad. I would like to be associated with you. Thank you.

  • 40. Anonymous  |  April 30, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Chaplain is right. There’s much that needs to be done to change our views about God. Many people teach that we are going to hell for just being human. It’s just that I believe in God and yet I have no one in the media to represent my beliefs about God. All that’s in the media and in the majority of the U.S. are deluded, greedy Christians who use such messages to control and talk down on others. I wish that the Christian paradigm would change.

  • 41. Onward, Christian Children « de-conversion  |  September 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    [...] 13, 2008 Regular readers here may recall a piece I wrote several months ago about the confirmation of Chloe, a seven-year-old girl, into a local Salvation Army congregation. I recently came across a post [...]

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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