Why We Left Christian Fellowship Ministries (continued)
by Al & Dee Mac
Al - January 4, 2001 - Another year - Sorry we haven't posted lately; things have been kind of hectic, what with family visits over the holidays, a small year-end crunch at work, and some ongoing software development that will eventually help me maintain this site (I hope ). All in all, it's been really nice to not have to deal with CFCMI in person for the last 11 months.
As I said on Matt and Mary's message board, I'm sorry to disappoint those of you that heard a rumor about Dee and me getting a divorce. It's just not gonna happen. Perhaps some of you thought that it was "about time" that we got a "taste of our own medicine." Sorry, but at least we're confident enough to put our names to the things we've said about CFCMI. We also have court transcripts and other assorted sources of solid evidence instead of a single overheard conversation. These two things (in my humble opinion, at least) separate the gossip of "Anonymous" about our marriage from our declaration of the "screw-upedness" of CFCMI.
On the topic of marital difficulties, why would all those people (including us) that get married and subsequently leave CFCMI have some rough times? The short, simple answer is this: we men spent years in an environment that (1) portrayed marriage as a choice for spiritual weaklings, and (2) actively prevented us from interacting (in any normal way) with women in social situations. Many of us were never in a serious relationship prior to our involvement in CFCMI - consequently, we've had to learn a lot of things "on the fly." If you take some time to read some psychological literature about ex-cult members, you'll see that most married couples coming out of cults have serious difficulties.
I won't speak for anyone else, but I will say that I put Dee through some really tough times, and I am so very glad that she decided to endure me for so long. But a wife's tolerance isn't going to hold a marriage together - we men have to make a conscious effort to learn and change. Do whatever it takes: buy (and read) books on relationships, pray, spend more time talking with your wife, even see a counselor.
Sorry if I rambled a bit - I shouldn't wait so long between posts.
Al - January 25, 2001 - One year of freedom - One year ago, Tuesday January 25 2000, right about this time of day, I sent an email to Bruce Wilson telling him that I wouldn't be at choir practice that night, and that I would never be coming to CFC again. The lies started the very next day - Ed (or maybe Bruce) told the congregation that I was "spending some time with my wife" because she'd just arrived from Illinois. He hoped that I'd change my mind and come back. I still haven't looked back. And they haven't stopped lying.
In the last year, I've heard that Dee and I are deceived, evil, reprobate, you name it. But you know what? For a couple who, according to some, are on their way to hell, we're having an awful lot of fun. Sinful fun? Judge for yourself: we watch a little TV, see a movie every once in a while, read books, spend time with each other, visit family, etc. Dee is taking college courses, decorating our house, and learning new things at work. I write some software, work on websites, and even went to a computer graphics conference last year. I got the best job performance review of my life, mainly because I wasn't sleeping late any more, thanks to a lack of CFCMI workload in 2000.
Best of all, I don't care what Pete, Ed, or whoever, thinks of me. There's nobody looking over my shoulder to make sure I don't "stray." There's nobody trying to guilt me into buying my salvation from them one special offering at a time. I don't have to answer to anyone for how I spend my time. I don't have to make up stories to explain why I'm not "allowed" to miss church events. I'm free. And it's nice.
Al - March 1, 2001 - Why is it so hard to leave? ...and GROW UP!!!!- I was just reading through a five-mile deep discussion on Matt and Mary's message board in which several people were going back and forth about how Un-Christian somebody else is being. Do you all have any idea how silly this makes you look? It makes me want to stop checking the board for updates - I don't have the time or energy to read childish "am-not-am-too" squabbles.
I've learned a lot in the last year, and I think one of the most important things is that other people see things from their unique perspective, and no amount of arguing on my part will change it. That doesn't make them right, and it doesn't make them wrong. For example, I might not understand why a die-hard Republican loves George Bush and his faith-based program initiative, or his support of any number of other things that (to me, at least) are blatantly unconstitutional. We might not agree on such political issues, but why should that prompt me to attack him personally? I know somebody's going to say that Christianity is not politics, but some are certainly treating it that way. Don't we have enough problems in our own lives without wondering what somebody else thinks/wants/does?"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." I thought we didn't like it when Pete or Ed beat us up with their accusation that we weren't good, faithful followers. I can't speak for anyone else, but it certainly bothered me.
If someone had continually bashed me about leaving CFC in 1999 or even earlier, I might not have left so soon - my experiences, doubts and fears might have convinced me that the "infidel" was a madman/woman because they just couldn't stop freaking out about me staying. Everyone has their own reasons for staying or leaving, and here's something that may come as a shock to some: most of us that have departed CFC didn't fully understand our own feelings and reasons when we left. Having read through a fair amount of literature about cults, I'm left with the impression that most people leave cults in a state that approximates a fit of desperation. They may not have fully thought out reasons for leaving, but they just know they need to leave. It's not a clear cut answer for everybody as soon as they realize they're in a bad situation.
I hope I haven't chased too many people away by saying all this (I am, of course, assuming that my ramblings make some kind of sense). I just wanted to mention it because a lot of people look at these sites, and judge both sides (CFCMI and ex-CFCMI) by what they see. And I'm sure there's people on both sides that would agree with me when I say "stop making us look like a group of spoiled kids arguing on the playground!"
On a positive and friendly note , we'd like to thank the 558 visitors that came to our site in the first two months of 2001. I didn't expect the site would ever be this popular.
Dee - March 29, 2001 - Bashing?- Well, some people call this a bashing site. That Al and I aren't telling the truth. That God has nothing to do with this. Well, I think that it was a tremendous blessing that a member of this cult was able to do the one thing that no one else did, or has been able to do, get a couple of transcripts. I think that it's a miracle that my husband Al is blessed with the talents he has, working with the graphics and computers and using the experience he has in putting our site together and maintaining it. It's glorious.
I'm currently underway, and the printed copy of AbusiveChurches.com is making it's way around. Wow, some people have actually experienced this organization and they have never returned. Why you ask? Isn't it obvious, the fake personalities, the gender segregation and the sick leadership. Ugh.
Yes, God is dealing with this, He's handling this. Everything on our website has fallen into our lap like manna from th sky. No real effort was made in any of this. Yes, I am digging into the past. I want to know how this piece of garbage called CFCMI, so small, has caused so much damage to so many people. The truth is now out. I'm not laughing at my brothers and sisters still in. I'm not laughing at the leadership. This situation is not funny. It's twisted and its sick. Though I will poke fun every once in a while. It's neccessary to ease the pain. I've been out for 15 months now, and finally, I'm dealing with all the pain, the hurt. The abandonement of so-called friends. Women, who are more needy of man's approval than the love of God and true friends. Not judging, but a witness by my own eyes.
I will dig deep. I'll do whatever it takes, call whoever I need to call, talk to whatever military stripe I can. I have and will continue to strive to help people, and myself understand this mess.
I love you all, even those in the church still, and I miss you desperately. And again, as Iris said, our house is open to anyone who would like to talk. I think we should all get together one night and eat wings, yap and pray that we're stronger next year and that Ed and Pete and Dan aren't seriously hurting anyone else.
Al - March 30, 2001 - Let God handle it?- An anonymous person recently posted a message on Matt and Mary's site, and exhorted us to "let God handle the situation." Since people often show up making similar exhortations, I figured I'd excerpt some of this person's statements here and attempt to respond to them for future reference. Please bear with me.
What does that mean, "in a worldly way?" Is it "worldly" to hold people of authority accountable for evil (and in some cases, illegal) actions? Is it "godly" to allow evil to go unremarked upon? "Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard."
Just because something is painful doesn't mean it's bad. Surgery is painful. Physical therapy can be painful. Exercise is uncomfortable. Yes, dealing with all the emotions and philosophical issues surrounding a situation like this one is uncomfortable, but failing to deal with them just leaves them around to cause you problems later. I've found that, most often, people that tell us to "let God take your pain" are speaking outside their area of experience - they don't know what it's like to have someone betray their trust like LR, Pete, and Ed have.
This might not have been intentional, but it's amusing, since this is at least the second time one of you "let-it-be-er's" has said "most" of us are Godly people. Would you mind telling us which ones aren't, since you're in the judging business?
In case you missed it, I've stated several times that God did not "show me the way out of the church." It doesn't require supernatural intervention for me to know that a church run by liars is a bad place for me to invest my time and money. It might have taken me a long time to realize that, but what can I say? I'm not exactly the brightest guy in the world.
Isn't this a little contradictory? On one hand, you say it's not Godly to bring up the past, yet on the other you applaud Matt and Mary for starting a site that (last I checked) contains lots of things about CFCMI that you probably deem "negative" and "trashy." I expect the same goes for this site. Are you admiring people who are doing unGodly things?
Look - this argument is getting old. Or maybe I'm just getting old and senile. Maybe you need to define some concepts for me, like this one: what, pray tell, does it mean to "talk bad" about another person? Is it just saying that a person did something bad? If that's what you mean, then I'd like to know: can a person say they love God and still get on the witness stand and testify to the acts of a murderer? Is it wrong for a rape victim to pick her assailant out of a police lineup and then testify against him in the courtroom? Or does this rule only apply when "men of God" are the ones being accused? Just wondering.
I don't intend to sound too cynical here, but us forgetting about the church and focusing on something else would be mighty convenient for the leadership whose living depends on its continued survival, now wouldn't it? Even the judge in LR's case commented upon the possibility that the leadership might lie (or, as Mr. Clinton might say, "misrepresent the truth") on the stand because they had a financial interest in the outcome of the trial. This is, of course, based on my memory of the transcripts - you can check them and prove me right or wrong later, and if wrong, I'll apologize for making such a statement.
The leaders have continued to lie and steal for 25 years, mainly because most everyone else that has gone before decided to "move on," "focus on something else," and "let God handle it." Sorry, but you should consider that pattern broken as of January 25, 2000. As long as we can scrape together $35 per month to keep this site up, these pages - transcripts and all - will be here for all to see.
Hope I didn't take anything out of context. No hard feelings, Life.