Monday, September 30, 2019

Repress Much?

As I wind down my time here in the belt of the Bible's waist I have found myself trying to understand the many issues that dominate the culture here but the one that most disturbs me is the one about sex. Last night on CNN I watched the Lisa Ling show about how children are learning more about sex and sexuality vie internet porn. This was not shocking, however, what I found most disturbing was it discussed the confusion around this subject that led many children to be imprisoned as a result of sexual assault or finding themselves on sex offender lists for basically behaving as adolescents do.

It is not irony nor coincidence that among the top ten states with issues that deal with sexual assaults and violence the South tops the lists.   Again Tennessee is number 5 (tied with South Carolina) for a state that is the most deadliest for women.  But again women are a confusing  lot here, they are largely responsible for family dynamics and their family support system is largely comprised of women so without the matriarchy there would be no family but clearly the men they are raising are less supportive and more resentful then should be considering their role models.

Then we have an overwhelming problem across the board in secular communities with regards to sexual assault across the spectrum.  As we have heard again and again.  And again.

There is no lack of confusion regarding sexuality and roles in the larger picture, heavy sexualized behavior and of course the role of Religion in why these fuckwits act like idiots.   It is tragic to see how young adults act around each other in denial and in turn frustration with regards to what is appropriate behavior when it comes to sex.  The one thing that the CNN show addressed is the issue of communication when it comes to sex and that crosses all lines secular or non.

I fond this article in Psychology Today which I think touches upon the issues surrounding the subject but again this is a complex one that requires a better in depth understanding that includes all things from Child Abuse, Poverty, and Mental Health. But ultimately religion fucks you up and not in a good way.

Sexual Repression
Adultery causes earthquakes? Sexual repression can cause much worse.

Posted Apr 20, 2010
Psychology Today
Christopher Ryan Ph.D

Nothing inspires murderous mayhem in human beings more reliably than sexual repression. Denied food, water, or freedom of movement, people will get desperate and some may lash out at what they perceive as the source of their problems, albeit in a weakened state. But if expression of sexuality is thwarted, the human psyche tends to grow twisted into grotesque, enraged perversions of desire. Unfortunately, the distorted rage resulting from sexual repression rarely takes the form of rebellion against the people and institutions behind the repression. Instead, the rage is generally directed at helpless victims who are sacrificed to the sick gods of guilt, shame, and ignorant pride.

Today, the BBC reports that Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, an Iranian cleric, has declared that, "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes." I think we can assume he said this with a straight face, Iranian clerics not being known for their impish sense of humor.

Lest we dismiss this as just another example of distant fundamentalist craziness, we might take a look at some examples a bit closer to home.

We can start with Christianity, a religion centered upon a figure whose holiness begins with his having been conceived asexually. Mark Twain noted the bizarre anti-eroticism of Christianity when he considered heaven:

[Man] has imagined a heaven, and has left entirely out of it the supremest of all his delights, the one ecstasy that stands first and foremost in the heart of every individual of his race . . . sexual intercourse! It is as if a lost and perishing person in a roasting desert should be told by a rescuer he might choose and have all longed-for things but one, and he should elect to leave out water!

Gay, conservative, Catholic author Andrew Sullivan has written that "the suppression of these core emotions and the denial of their resolution in love always, always leads to personal distortion and compulsion and loss of perspective."

Of course, it's not just a question of repressing homosexuality, but of all sexuality. And religions aren't the only institutions to champion such abuse of spirit and body; medical doctors have participated in some of these shameful crimes against humanity.

In 1850, the New Orleans Medical & Surgical Journal declared masturbation public enemy number one, warning: "Neither plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor a crowd of similar evils, have resulted more disastrously for humanity than the habit of masturbation: it is the destroying element of civilized society."

"Scientific" declarations like these inspired Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (brother of the Corn Flakes Kellogg) in his campaign to eradicate masturbation from the United States.

Though widely considered to be one of the leading sex educators of his day, Kellogg proudly claimed never to have had intercourse with his wife in over four decades of marriage.

As a medical doctor, Kellogg claimed the moral authority to instruct parents on the proper sexual education of their children. If you're unfamiliar with the writings of Kellogg and others like him, their gloating disdain for basic human eroticism is chilling and unmistakable. In his best-selling Plain Facts for Old and Young (written on his sexless honeymoon in 1888), Kellogg offered parents guidance for dealing with their sons' natural erotic self-exploration in a section entitled "Treatment for Self-Abuse and its Effects:"

A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision. . . . The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. . . . [emphasis added]

If circumcising a struggling, terrified boy without anesthesia wasn't quite what a parent had in mind, Kellogg recommended "the application of one or more silver sutures in such a way as to prevent erection. The prepuce, or foreskin, is drawn forward over the glans, and the needle to which the wire is attached is passed through from one side to the other. After drawing the wire through, the ends are twisted together and cut off close. It is now impossible for an erection to occur. . . ."

Parents were assured that sewing their son's penis into its foreskin "acts as a most powerful means of overcoming the disposition to resort to the practice [of masturbation]."

Circumcision remains prevalent in the United States, though varying greatly by region, ranging from about 40 percent of newborns circumcised in western states to about twice that in the Northeast. This widespread procedure, rarely a medical necessity, has its roots in the anti-masturbation campaigns of Kellogg and his like-minded contemporaries. As sexologist John Money explains, "Neonatal circumcision crept into American delivery rooms in the 1870s and 1880s, not for religious reasons and not for reasons of health or hygiene, as is commonly supposed, but because of the claim that, later in life, it would prevent irritation that would cause the boy to become a masturbator."

Lest you think Kellogg was interested only in the sadistic torture of boys, in the same book he soberly advises the application of carbolic acid to the clitorises of little girls to teach them not to touch themselves. Kellogg, the Catholic church, and Iranian clerics all demonstrate that sexual repression is a "malady that considers itself the remedy," to paraphrase Karl Kraus's dismissal of psychoanalysis.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pants Afire

Since moving to Nashville I have never met more liars and frauds in my life an irony not lost here in the buckle of the belt of the bible bashers.

My largest focus has been the former fundie friend Ethan but he has cohorts that blow my mind as their stories veer into pathological with each passing convo. 

But to understand why is to understand the affects religion has on the cerebral cortex.  I have already written about how hard core fundamental religiosity affects development as the greater hippocampal atrophy in selected religious groups might be related to stress. And yes Ethan has tremendous anxiety disorders, depression and in turn it affects his cognitive processes and emotional stability.   And in turn the reality is that the brain then becomes wired in the same way to the point it affects how the brain thinks and behaves in ways that define irrationality and often delusional.

In much the same way, Christian fundamentalism is a parasitic ideology that inserts itself into brains, commanding individuals to act and think in a certain way—a rigid way that is intolerant to competing ideas. We know that religious fundamentalism is strongly correlated with what psychologists and neuroscientists call “magical thinking,” which refers to making connections between actions and events when no such connections exist in reality. Without magical thinking, the religion can’t survive, nor can it replicate itself. Another cognitive impairment we see in those with extreme religious views is a greater reliance on intuitive rather than reflective or analytic thought, which frequently leads to incorrect assumptions since intuition is often deceiving or overly simplistic.
We also know that in the United States, Christian fundamentalism is linked to science denial. Since science is nothing more than a method of determining truth using empirical measurement and hypothesis testing, denial of science equates to the denial of objective truth and tangible evidence. In other words, the denial of reality. Not only does fundamentalism promote delusional thinking, it also discourages followers from exposing themselves to any different ideas, which acts to protect the delusions that are essential to the ideology.
 Knowing Ethan as I do his intense rages, his defensiveness and his consistent need to be alone tells me that he also hides other truths, such as his sexuality and the abuse that exists in his family that is all part of the issues of control and authority that exists in said Bible to support the antiquated concept of male patriarchy in the home.

I found another parallel in the biographical story of Clarence Thomas that in turn supports much of this type of magical thinking process and his own bizarre sexual obsession, his lack of continuity in thought and of course his glomming on to Scalia when he sat on the court. He and Kavanaugh must have fun times  in the Judges chambers talking smack about women.

Religion's damage crosses all genders, races and classes and it requires a conformity of thought and an ability to be manipulated which in turn teaches one how to manipulate others a skill set Ethan has highly developed.  I would say that in his case I would offer thoughts and prayers to him that he finds his way out of this but then again they have no affect either.  Well you get what you pay for.

I often think that much of the lying is both ordained in religion and in turn the tribalism of the south that comes from not just the Church one belongs but the family traditions and history tied to this region that dominates the dialog: "Who are your people?" And: "What Church do you belong?"  Those two questions determine how you will be perceived and believed and in turn the liars who lie feel they are forgiven as you are not a member so it does not matter.  Lying here is an affectation and just a part of living here in the good Christian South.  Bless their hearts!

But they lie as their brain is already damaged and in turn it makes it easier to do so and regardless they are forgiven. No wonder I am Atheist as I believe in Science.  

Why liars lie: What Science tells us about deception

William Wan and Sarah Kaplan
The Washington Post 
August 24, 2018

We all do it sometimes, even though we know it’s wrong.

But here’s the problem with lying: Research shows that the more you lie, the easier it gets, and the more likely you are to do it again.

“The dangerous thing about lying is people don’t understand how the act changes us,” said Dan Ariely, behavioral psychologist at Duke.

Lying is in the news this week after President Trump's longtime lawyer testified that Trump had directed him to pay hush money to a porn star named Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. The courtroom admission not only implicated Trump in a crime, it also exposed months of denials by Trump and his aides as lies.
Sanders dodges question about Trump lying: 'That's a ridiculous accusation'
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Aug. 22 that, "the president did nothing wrong," and called questions about him lying "ridiculous." (Reuters)

Psychologists have documented children lying as early as age 2. Some experts even consider lying a developmental milestone, like crawling and walking, because it requires sophisticated planning, attention and the ability to see a situation from someone else’s perspective to effectively manipulate them. But for most people, lying gets limited as we develop a sense of morality and the ability to self-regulate.

A 2010 study on the prevalence of lying in America found that in a given 24-hour period, most adults reported not telling any lies. Almost half the lies recorded in the study could be attributed to just 5 percent of participants. And most people avoided lying when they could, turning to deception only when the truth was troublesome.

Harvard cognitive neuroscientist Joshua Greene said for most of us, lying takes work. In studies, he presented study subjects with a chance to deceive for monetary gain while examining their brains in a functional MRI machine, which maps blood flow to active parts of the brain.

Some people told the truth instantly and instinctively. But others opted to lie, and they showed increased activity in their frontal parietal control network, which is involved in difficult or complex thinking. This suggests that they were deciding between truth and dishonesty — and ultimately opting for the latter.

For a follow-up analysis, he found that people whose neural reward centers were more active when they won money were also more likely to be among the group of liars — suggesting that lying may have to do with the inability to resist temptation.

Scientists don’t really know what prevents all of us from lying all the time. Some believe truth-telling is a social norm we internalize, or a result of conflict in our brains between the things we want and the positive vision of ourselves we strive to maintain. But the curious thing about this preventive mechanism is that it comes from within.

“We are our own judges about our own honesty,” said Ariely, the Duke psychologist. “And that internal judge is what differentiates psychopaths and non-psychopaths.”

External conditions also matter in terms of when and how often we lie. We are more likely to lie, research shows, when we are able to rationalize it, when we are stressed and fatigued, or when we see others being dishonest. And we are less likely to lie when we have moral reminders or when we think others are watching.

“We as a society need to understand that when we don’t punish lying, we increase the probability it will happen again,” Ariely said.

In a 2016 study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Ariely and colleagues showed how dishonesty alters people’s brains, making it easier to tell lies in the future. When people uttered a falsehood, the scientists noticed a burst of activity in their amygdala. The amygdala is a crucial part of the brain that produces fear, anxiety and emotional responses — including that sinking, guilty feeling you get when you lie.

But when scientists had their subjects play a game in which they won money by deceiving their partner, they noticed the negative signals from the amygdala began to decrease. Not only that, but when people faced no consequences for dishonesty, their falsehoods tended to get even more sensational.

“If you give people multiple opportunities to lie for their own benefit,” said Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London who led the research, “they start with little lies and get bigger and bigger over time.”

Monday, September 16, 2019

Bible Basher

To understand the numbers regarding Domestic Violence in the South look no further than the Church. The Church sanctions abuse be it of children or of women. In the guise of the Umbrella of Authority as defined by ancient text that was written thousands of years ago in a language that few spoke at the time the stories were passed on without an ability to write and in turn the lack of a say a shared ability to print as it did not exist and shit, the Bible is the authority on all things in contemporary society.  Or so I was told by my fundie friend Ethan who at 22 with no degrees, no study of the Bible or Theology is apparently an expert.  To that I say: Bitch 1:22 FUCK THAT 

Here is a much more scholastic view of how the Bible approaches Misogyny.

Religion Scholar, George Washington University Professor, Lecturer, Dr. Rollston holds the MA and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He is a widely-published scholar of the ancient Near East (Middle East), especially the Bible and the Qur’an.

The Marginalization of Women: A Biblical Value We Don’t Like to Talk About
Oct 31, 2012 Huffington Post

Augusta National Golf Club finally accepts its first women members, and so a Leviathan of gender discrimination at long last makes a move in the right direction. Conversely, Todd Akin falsely states that a woman’s body has biological mechanisms to prevent pregnancy in cases of something he refers to as “legitimate rape.” One step forward, two steps back in our battle for women’s rights. Sadly though, the marginalization of women has been going on for a long time. Some 2,000 years ago, a Hebrew sage named Ben Sira wrote “the birth of a daughter is a loss” and “better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good.” Modern readers rightly label such words misogynistic. But they’re part of the historical record and Ben Sira wasn’t alone. From Mesopotamia to Egypt, women in the ancient world were considered property — valuable property, but property nonetheless. And it’s true of the Bible’s view as well. Yes, there were biblical women who flourished in spite of the patriarchy, women like Ruth, Esther, Lydia and Priscilla. But women in the Bible were normally viewed as second class, if even that.

The Decalogue is a case in point. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, his female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything which belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). Because the Ten Commandments are so well known, it’s quite easy to miss the assumptions in them about gender. But the marginalization of women is clear. The wife is classified as her husband’s property, and so she’s listed with the slaves and work-animals. There’s also a striking omission in this commandment: never does it say “You shall not covet your neighbor’s husband.” The Ten Commandments were written to men, not women. There’s even more evidence, linguistic in nature. Hebrew has four distinct forms of the word “you” and these are gender and number specific. The form of “you” in every single commandment is masculine singular. The text assumes its readers are men. True, mothers are mentioned in the Decalogue as deserving of honor, but even here the Hebrew grammar assumes a male readership: the Hebrew verb for “honor” is masculine singular (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16). The Ten Commandments embody much that is foundational for modern society, but egalitarian they aren’t.

Women are marginalized in the book of Proverbs as well. Quite a number of times Proverbs uses the phrase “my son.” The phrase “my daughter” does not occur. And the commands in Proverbs are consistently second person masculine, never second person feminine. And the readership of the book of Proverbs is warned to beware of the evil seductress (e.g., Proverbs 5), but the reverse doesn’t occur: never does the book warn women to beware of a male seducer. The authors say living with a contentious woman is terrible, but never say the same about a contentious man (Proverbs 25:24). The book was written to men, not women. True, there is a famous text in Proverbs which praises a “noble wife” (Proverbs 31:10-31). She is wise, benevolent, hard-working, an entrepreneur, and loved by her sons and husband (daughters are not mentioned). Readers are encouraged to find such a wife. But there is a subtle problem: there is no counterpart to the “noble wife” text, nothing in the book that encourages young women to find a noble husband. After all, men were the intended readers, not women.

The New Testament contains texts that marginalize women as well. Among the harshest of these texts is 1 Timothy 2. The author is discussing worship and begins by stating that “men should pray” and then says “women should dress themselves modestly and decently.” So men are to pray and women are to dress modestly. That’s quite a contrast. But there’s more: “Let a woman learn in silence and full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to be silent.” The author’s rationale: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Timothy 2:8-14). So, according to this text, women were to be silent in worship because they were created second and sinned first. And the final blow is this: a woman “will be saved through childbirth, if she remains in faith and love and sanctification with modesty” (1 Timothy 2:15). This text is not too different from a Saying in the Gospel of Thomas (114) that says women can be saved once they become males. In any case, for the author of 1 Timothy, eternal salvation comes obstetrically.

Of course, there are even more difficult texts, with men said to be willing to surrender women to horrendous violence. For example, Genesis says the patriarch Lot was willing to force his two daughters out the door to be raped, and the book of Judges says a Levite actually did force his concubine out the door to be gang raped, and after she died he cut her corpse into twelve pieces (Genesis 34; Judges 19-21). And an unmarried woman could be compelled to marry her rapist, as long as the rapist could pay the standard bride price and the woman’s father was comfortable with the marriage (Deuteronomy 22:28-29; Exodus 22:16-17). And some fathers were comfortable, if Jacob is any indication (Genesis 34). And polygyny (a man having multiple wives) was approved of (Genesis 4:19-24; Deuteronomy 21:15; 2 Samuel 3:2-5). Some narratives even have wives referring to their husbands as “lord,” such as Sarah in Genesis 18:12. And a woman’s religious vow could be nullified by her father or her husband (Numbers 30:3-15). Within the “Household Codes” of the New Testament, husbands are commanded to “love their wives” and to avoid treating them “harshly,” but women are commanded to “submit to” their husbands (Colossians 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:22-25). And the custom of a marital “bride price” (money given by the groom’s family to the bride’s family) reveals that marriage was, at least in some respects, a property transfer, as payment had been made to acquire the bride (Genesis 34:12; Exodus 22:16; 1 Samuel 18:25; Genesis 24:53).

Thankfully, some biblical authors who pushed back against the marginalization of women. For example, according to the Bible, Job had seven sons and three daughters and the writer of the book of Job actually names those daughters but not the sons, a reversal of standard practice. Also, these daughters “received an inheritance along with their brothers,” wonderfully subverting the standard legal practice of not giving daughters a share of the family land (Job 42). And the ancients who penned the stunning narratives about Deborah (Judges 4-5) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20) were pushing back against patriarchy as well. The New Testament Paul was quite progressive for his time, as he considered Phoebe to be a “deacon” and Junia to be “preeminent among the apostles” (Romans 16:1, 7). He also wrote: “there is no longer male nor female” (Galatians 3:27). But these voices were the exception, not the rule.

People today often wish to turn to sacred literature for timeless trues about social norms. This impulse is certainly understandable. But that impulse can be fraught with certain difficulties. After all, to embrace the dominant biblical view of women would be to embrace the marginalization of women. And sacralizing patriarchy is just wrong. Gender equality may not have been the norm two or three millennia ago, but it is essential. So, the next time someone refers to “biblical values,” it’s worth mentioning to them that the Bible often marginalized women and that’s not something anyone should value

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Men Tell No Tales

There is something deep within the DNA of men to be predators and as we know that nature versus nurture can at times balance that out and during the critical seven year phases of a child's development.   Arriving in the South I have never met more damaged souls in the three years than I have ever in 60 years of living. 

The damaged children run the spectrum of learning disabilities that manifest itself in adulthood in emotional and intellectual behaviors that are almost childlike in their execution - short attention spans, overwhelmed with emotions, rage and sexual dysfunction.  I have never met more Drama Queens and Kings in my life.   It exhausts me as it depletes me and my own resources that I need to cope and to heal from my own pain. 

Last night I went to my favorite yoga studio that offers an amazing class called The Big Relax.  It is a combination of Yin Yoga and deep meditation.  During that process we are guided to find a place of thought that is about the moment and that alone.  The Chakra lights are placed into our breath and we use them to circle and enter our body through the abdomen, the chest, the heart, the lungs, the eyes and the third eye the center of the mind and emotional wellness.   It was then where the white light was to circle you and find your positive energy.   The guide in the process talked about the heart, the mind and ones intuition, one's focus of belief in self and finding self love and in turn allowing grief and through that strength.   I have said of late that I have difficulty grieving and in turn expressing grief in a sane productive way and in turn while my instincts about people are quite good they have been pushed against the wall with all that happened to me at the beginning of my seven year cycle that comes to an end on my birthday October 16th.

The white light that encircled me is one I have spoken repeatedly about how I want to leave Nashville and so that reference was not lost.  I was worried after the collapse of the friendship I had developed and in turn lost over the course of 4 months, it threw me in a place that made me question my instinct about people and my own issues and fear of men, my loathing of religion and in turn just my overall experience living in Nashville.    And when I walked out and saw the white light of the full moon and the ability to follow it home as I call my Goddess, La Luna, I knew she was watching me finding my peace and place to guide me home. 

I cannot look at Nashville in a positive light but my posse of healing freaks enabled me this broken glass to at least be repaired enough to rebuild and be better than ever.   I leave knowing that and for that I am grateful. That much is evident as I wandered Jersey City realizing my instincts were solid and in turn once I fell back upon that I thrived.  Again that is not always 100% when I had an instinct about another angry white male mover who had been sent email after email, with addresses, descriptions and details of the pods and the inventory inside, what time frame was needed and what I also would require in the move.   Just in my first 5 min contacts I disliked his tone and sure enough when I finally followed up (as I pushed that away as again my instincts told me too) he did the typical thing I have found common among this type - Gaslighting.  He had not read one of the emails, refusing to respond to any of them with a detail or estimate of what was needed.  Here was what was needed - four men for an 8 hour day at an hourly rate with an estimate of what that would be in total.  Not that hard but even the woman needed to know all that detail but she provided a proper written estimation with crew and time spelled out.   Gosh and lastly my final phone call to the movers I found on the UHAUL site meaning they knew of them and had familiarity with this process and sure enough a direct quote that oddly matched the same as the complex written estimate.  He was to the point on the phone and knowledgeable without bullshit.   Hired and done.   But the earlier call was again traumatizing and once again turned me on to a cycle of pain and self doubt that has dominated my time here in Nashville.   It is as if the whole Southern persona is an abusive spouse who desperately tries to rile one up to the boiling point to then turn around and then offer a plate of sweet tea and biscuits to salve the wounds they cause.   I have said that repeatedly and called it bait and switch but I realize now that is a Church scene and that is what they do here - preach bullshit and then have a food fest afterwards as it to compensate for the two hour bullshit-a-thon that preceded it.  And it also explains the numbers with regards to Domestic Violence, overall criminal violence and of course addiction issues.   Talking about problems, building trust and having intimacy that is not about sex that is also repressed has created a damaged culture here that frankly will never change. 

It also explains the obsession and excessive focus on the Military here and Sports. The two domains that are largely male and heavily tied to lecture, abuse, and the male gaze.  None of it good.

What does this have in common - Patriarchy. Men who dominate and control and manipulate in order to maintain power.  Look at all the institutions in America and they are all run by men - Legal, Education, Judicial, Medical and of course Religion.    

My loathing of religion I have been writing about as a way of enabling and coping with my loss of my friend Ethan.  And then yesterday I realized I no longer fear him, care about him and am utterly unconcerned with him.   I tested that theory on the way to Yoga by stopping for coffee which I used to do as I walked down the alley.  I was worried that once again the anxiety and PTSD would kick in and that I would spend most of the class working through that.  I found a coping mechanism by faking I was talking on the phone then I looked up from my "conversation" to see he was in the kitchen and from there I slowly unfolded and realized he was a sad sad boy who under the guise of religion was hiding his sexuality, his abuse and his well being  and he was not my problem any more.  So when I finally engaged in conversation I realized how he too had moved on to whatever fixation he has since developed - he was unaware of the Alabama story of the Hurricane and Trump  and that again he has nothing to say about anything even baking which was his last obsession. (Again tied to his girl crazy behavior)   Sad.Grim.Pathetic.  And I felt nothing.

His former co-workers show similar development issues and in turn they almost are bi-polar with emotional swings and histrionics that have included one shaving off his amazing hair to somehow believe that it will change who he is.  What that does is change your hair and women do that frequently as a way of expressing rage or depression.  Sad.Grim.Pathetic.  What that told me is that again trying to be someone you are not will lead to this and here sexuality seems to be the biggest issue at hand.  This follows with gender roles and the role of women which according to the Bible is one of subjugation.  That is the other good thing I learned from Ethan that the Bible is utter bullshit.   I want nothing to do with it and cannot wait to leave as it again depletes me and my needs to become healthy and functional.  When you are distracted by those whose issues are not yours you cannot focus on your own.   Shame and guilt coupled with access and availability are often reasons why people don't seek help and then when you do and are rebuffed or gaslighted surprise you don't get well. 

Reading the stories of men in the military who were raped tells you that the stories and the feelings are the same and tragically so are the results.

I urge you to read their stories and realize that we have a problem that is more complex that we truly understand.  

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Self Shame Self Hate

NYC has repealed their law prohibiting conversion therapy as a way of staving off a Supreme Court challenge and risking further LGBQT rights across the country thanks to the current wave of conservative lunatics who simply don't want to pray away the Gay but make it illegal in every way.

With this the recent revelation that the purity idiot, Joshua Harris,  has renounced that bullshit and marched in the the Gay Pride parade in Vancouver BC this year I think that another announcement is next to come.   One step at a time which again means he joins a long list of ex-Evangelicals who has done the same march, literally and metaphorically.

Since finding out that my "friend" is a Fundamentalist who hates pretty much everything progressive and intelligent I struggled with trying to reconcile that and somehow believing that if we restored our friendship I could pray away the hate he has for himself and those I believe he struggles to realize he belongs.  Then I realized that since I don't believe in this bullshit and that I have no way of ever overcoming years of religious indoctrination and abuse I bailed.  Now I just want to get as far away from this place and him as I can get.

I do "pray" for Ethan to come to terms with his sexuality and that he finds happiness and self love and from that a sense of belonging and purpose that would welcome him with open arms and loving heart something his Christian community seem to fail to do.   Funny how that works out isn't it?

Conversion therapy center founder who sought to turn LGBTQ Christians straight says he’s gay, rejects ‘cycle of self shame’

Marisa Iati
The Washington Post
September 5, 2019

McKrae Game wants people to know that he was wrong about all of it.

He was wrong to found Hope for Wholeness Network, a faith-based conversion therapy program that seeks to rid people of their LGBTQ identities. He was wrong to create a slogan promoting the idea of “freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.” He was wrong to tell people they were doomed for all eternity if they didn’t change their ways.

After 20 years working in that field, Game said he realizes the harm he has caused and that he, himself, is gay. Conversion therapy encompasses a widely discredited range of methods that purport to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice is illegal in 18 states and the District.

“It’s all in my past, but many, way TOO MANY continue believing that there is something wrong with themselves and wrong with people that choose to live their lives honestly and open as gay, lesbian, trans, etc.,” Game, 51, wrote on Facebook last week. “The very harmful cycle of self shame and condemnation has to stop.”

Hope for Wholeness, based in South Carolina and known as one of the nation’s most prominent conversion therapy centers, on Thursday said it rejected the description of “conversion therapy” to describe its practice. The group said it counsels people who are conflicted about their sexuality as it relates to their faith.

“We utilize faith-based groups and pastoral discipleship to address issues from the individuals’ past and help them reconcile their faith and sexuality," the center said in a statement. "We never use coercion, shaming, nudity, touch therapies with any individual who might come to our affiliate ministries. We believe in, and respect, the self-determination of the individual and the path that each has chosen.”

The center added that its board members love and pray for Game and his family.

Game is among many founders and leaders of conversion therapy programs to disavow the practice later. In 2014, nine former “ex-gay” leaders signed an open letter denouncing conversion therapy as “ineffective and harmful” and calling for an end to it. A Latter-day Saint counselor who practiced conversion therapy said in January that he is gay and that he “unequivocally renounces” ex-gay ministry.

Game announced in June that he was gay, almost two years after Hope for Wholeness’s board of directors fired him, the Post and Courier reported. In his Facebook post, he said all conversion therapy programs should be closed, but that he would support them becoming support groups for people who believe being LGBTQ is incongruous with their faith.

“I was a religious zealot that hurt people,” Game told the Post and Courier. “People said they attempted suicide over me and the things I said to them. People, I know, are in therapy because of me. Why would I want that to continue?”

In a Facebook Live video posted Tuesday, Game said he decided to tell people he was gay because he was scared that someone would “out” him — reveal his sexual orientation — and he wanted to control his own story. He said he slowly hinted on Facebook that he was attracted to men.

Game said he is currently doing yard work and that his wife has been “ridiculously understanding” of his coming out. The couple has two children. He said some people, including Christians and LGBTQ advocates, have expressed anger against him.

“I can see how my life could have been used manipulatively, and I’m very sorry for that,” Game said. “How can I count all the ways I did wrong? I don’t know that I can. But I’ve tried, and I’m trying.”

Leaders of conversion therapy programs rarely renounce the practice publicly because doing so involves turning their backs not just on the ex-gay community, but also on conservative faith as a whole, said Alan Chambers, the former president of Exodus International. Exodus was the world’s largest conversion therapy ministry until Chambers shut it down in 2013 and apologized to the LGBTQ community.

“Oftentimes, not only do you lose the relationships of people in the community that you’ve been in, but you lose your church,” Chambers told The Washington Post. “Sometimes you lose your family. Sometimes you lose everything.”

Chambers, who said he is “a gay man married to a straight woman,” said his decision to reject conversion therapy developed slowly over decades. He said he was particularly struck by the devastated reactions he saw to California’s passage of the now-defunct Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that in 2008 banned same-sex marriage there. Chambers now advocates for an end to conversion therapy for minors and for including LGBTQ people in faith communities.

Mel White, a former ghostwriter for high-profile evangelical Christians, describes himself as “a victim of the ex-gay movement.” White said that when he was married to a woman and believed his same-sex attractions were sinful, he tried every kind of conversion therapy in the book: He took cold showers, subjected himself to electric therapy and got an exorcism. He and his wife paid more than $1,000 for the treatment, he said, and none of it worked.

Eventually, White said he couldn’t live that way anymore. He and his wife divorced, and he has been with his ­now-husband for 37 years. He said he eventually came to believe that God loves him exactly as he was created, and he stopped ghostwriting autobiographies for the likes of Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham.

White said he believes Christianity is the greatest source of suffering for LGBTQ people, and he co-founded the organization Soulforce to combat what he sees as this oppression. The organization promotes nonviolent resistance to religious fundamentalism.

After spending years working with the conservative Christian right, White said he has “spent the rest of my life trying to redeem myself from having anything to do with that ex-gay system.”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Pray Away the Gay

Okay as I have been railing against Christianity and its bullshit I need not further prove my point that these fuckwits put the crazy in batshit.

I am not adding a single comment other than what I said above.  But really? This fucker is a sad mess and if there is logic in this please I welcome someone to point it out as I missed it among the bullshit.

Advice To Married Men Struggling With Homosexuality...

June 10, 2003 by Medinger, Alan: (RHN)

The Christian married man bound by homosexuality bears a double burden. He lives under the power of a sin which brings self-condemnation and a feeling of alienation from God. He also lives with the knowledge that he is bringing a terrible hurt to another human being—his wife. But for this man, victory over homosexuality can bring a double blessing. He can be restored to full fellowship with God, and he can experience the joy of reconciliation with his wife. The advice given here is offered by a man who has experienced victory over homosexuality, and with it has known the joy of reconciliation with God and with a wife whom he loves deeply. May God so bless each man who reads these words and needs to experience such a victory.

Recognize that which you can control and that which you cannot. You may know by now that you cannot control your sexual inclinations, or even your sexual actions once you have given in the least bit to temptation. Often you cannot even control the thoughts that come into your mind. Accept this as a fact of your life today. But then turn to the things that you can control. You can control your spiritual life (how and when you pray and read the Word of God). You can control how you behave with your wife in many areas not related to your sexual relationship. Start by concentrating on these parts of your life and you will begin to see your sense of helplessness start to fade.

Realize that love is a decision and a commitment, NOT a feeling. Feelings come and go for all of us. A love based purely on feelings is a terribly unstable and unsatisfying thing. There will be little peace or joy in a relationship where love is given and received only when both partners feel loving. But there is peace and joy in a relationship where each partner has made the decision to always (unconditionally) put the other first. This is Christian love. Through its expression over time will grow a joy deep in the heart, far deeper than the emotional happiness that we have been seeking in our relationships. The commitment to put the other first (to truly love) applies first to your relationship with God and secondly, to your relationship with your wife.

Pray that God will enable you to make this decision to love. Jesus is the source of love. Jesus is the example of perfect love, when He went to the cross for you and me. Jesus is Love. Many of us who have struggled with homosexuality have come to see that there have been hurts or rejections in our lives which have almost destroyed our ability to love others (and ourselves). Jesus is the great healer of those who have been so damaged. The one prayer that He always seems to answer NOW is the prayer that we be given the ability to love another person.

Turn your heart and mind to the hurts and needs of your wife. This will come out of your decision to love. She may need your help in a couple of areas. First, she has been terribly hurt by the rejection brought about by your homosexuality. She lives in constant fear of losing her home (her husband, her support, her place in the world as a married woman) or, if you have already separated, she has endured the constant discouragement of hoping you will return and finding that you won’t. She is incomplete because, regardless of her feelings now, she has been made one with a man, but now that oneness is being torn apart.

There may be a second but related area where she needs your help. Often, women who marry homosexuals do so because of a lack in themselves. The fact that a man was not sexually aggressive, or perhaps the man’s having a generally passive nature, may have given her a feeling of safety and comfort with him- a feeling she lacked with other men because of her own shortcomings and fears. Ask God to reveal your wife’s needs to you. It may be that your both recognizing these shortcomings will enable you to break away from a mutually destructive pattern that has come about, perhaps one in which she is the mother and you are always the bad child. As you recognize that you both are hurt, sinful people needing the Lord’s mercy, forgiveness and healing, you may experience a blessing and growth together that neither of you thought possible.

Your prayers and your entire focus should be on changing you—NOT your wife. “Lord, if only she would…, then I would…” Prayer doesn’t work that way. God knows what the desires of your heart are before you ask Him. He could grant your wishes before they are ever expressed, but He wants to do more. He wants a relationship with you, and He knows that because of your fallen state (yours and everyone else’s), that relationship is most apt to come about as you recognize your need for Him. The recognition of this need will be the opening for Him to come into our lives in a deeper way. If He did our bidding and changed someone else when we asked Him to, that would be the end of it. No, that is why His answer to these prayers is often, “No, YOU must change” (or repent or surrender or whatever). If our need is great enough, the door may have been opened for us to accept His direction. A great step will have been taken. He wants to work out our problems with us and to see us grow in obedience in the process. Also, He wants the same growth for your wife and the same fellowship with her. Changing her at your request would deny her that. Remember, our relationship with God comes first. That must be worked out to His satisfaction before our relationships with each other can be put right.

Acknowledge that your marriage is a sacred and permanent commitment. When you married, you took a solemn vow before God that this was to be a life-long commitment- for better or for worse. There were no escape clauses or conditions of release in that vow. For you to be unfaithful to that vow through homosexual weakness is serious and calls for repentance. For you to break off the relationship completely through separation and divorce is far more serious. It is a willful breaking of that vow- a defiance of God. Admittedly, this is a difficult area for Christians to come to terms with, but it may help to put it on a personal level. For YOU, wouldn’t separation be a continued, unrepentant defiance of God? What can come of your life from this?

Recognize that God created marriage and that God redeems His creation. When you were married, you and your wife were made one in the eyes of God. A mystical union was created by Him. He can no longer see you and your wife as two completely separate individuals. Apart, physically or spiritually, you are a broken part of His creation. But He is the Redeemer of His creation. Your marriage is a part of His creation and it is in need of redemption. He will redeem it. The only condition is that you allow Him to do so. You, not your wife, for He has placed you in a position of spiritual headship over your wife and family. As the priest of your family, it is only you who can approach His throne of grace on this matter. If you do, He is faithful and will restore your marriage. He loves that which He has created.

Thank God that you are married. Your homosexual orientation predates your marriage. Even though you have had this problem, you have experienced many of the joys and blessings of married life: establishing a home together, heterosexual sex, perhaps children. Ask God to bring back to your mind and heart the joys, the good experiences from earlier in your marriage. You have the knowledge and experience that many homosexuals don’t have, that much in marriage can be happy and rewarding.

Honestly examine the alternatives that are open to you. THE FIRST alternative is one that all married homosexuals have experienced—walking the fence: continue in the comforts and acceptance of family and seek sexual gratification outside. The best of both worlds? You know it is not. It’s a life of desperation, unfulfilled relationships at home and futile ones outside. The feeling is one of being torn apart, and it cannot and does not last indefinitely.

THE SECOND alternative is to come down off the fence on the side of homosexuality. Find Mr. Perfect and settle down to an idyllic existence. Only first, look around at those who have chosen this life. How many have found the relationship that you dream about, and how many are out in the bars and parks, the bath houses and restrooms night after night? If you are in a relationship with another man right now, ask God to give you a view of that relationship in the future. Also ask Him to give you a view of your relationship with Him so long as your relationship with your lover lasts.

Finally, there is THE THIRD alternative of giving yourself to your marriage, to your wife, to God. This will involve giving up your homosexual activities if you have been active, giving up your fantasies and dreams, giving up your refuge in pornography if that was your thing, giving up yourself, dying, being crucified. And all you will get in return is a new life. You will become a new creature, able to enjoy the fruits of the Spirit- love, joy, peace and all of the others. You will gain a wife whom you will truly love in every way- perhaps for the first time. This choice may seem horrendous, terrifying, but go back and consider the other two alternatives, and ask yourself which you really prefer. There are no other choices.

Recognize that Jesus can change you. Perhaps you have struggled with the problem long enough to acknowledge that you are helpless in dealing with it. Good! That is where you should be, because usually it is only when we recognize the hopelessness of our situation that we are ready to turn over the burdens of our homosexuality and of our marriage to the Lord, and to let His way work in our lives. You DO have a role to play, though- a vital role. You must make the decision to love- to love your wife. Come to Jesus with this decision as your offering to Him. He will accept it and the process will start, the truly miraculous process of change that will bring you a new heart and a new mind, a miraculous process that will make you a new creature.


In November of 1974, Alan Medinger was a man in torment. To his friends and neighbors, he was a stable, respectable man. He had a wonderful wife, two lovely daughters, a large home in the suburbs and a responsible position in the local church. Unknown to them was his other life: his exclusive homosexuality, his frequent trips into the parks, porno shops and gay bars of Baltimore to feed his homosexual fantasies and desires.

Then God miraculously intervened in his life, to heal his homosexual obsessions and to restore his love and desire for his wife and family. His complete testimony is available from our office. Alan understands from personal experience the problems and frustrations of the married man plagued by homosexual desires.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fundamental truths

I loved Church as a kid as I love theatre but the reality is I never dug any other part of it.  Never participated in Communion, Baptism, Confession, Confirmation or any other actual act of the dogma that the Church prescribed.  I just dug singing, preaching about good works and yes even prayer.  But the Sky Daddy and I were more conversationalists and an excuse to not be thought of as talking to myself and a way of working through issues that one normally does with a therapist.  It is likely from that process I became a "fixer."  Someone has an issue or question I have an answer and it works when you are a Teacher so that too became a natural fit.

When asked I would say I am Agnostic, Spiritual but not Religious or a Deist.  Then I finally moved to Nashville the buckle of the belt and man I came out of the closet in a way that would make RuPaul Sashay away! I am relieved, happy and free of the bullshit that dominates the life of those who play at Christianity.  I have read the Bible and much of it is bullshit and some of is wonderful proving that you can write verse that has kids having their heads bashed in and other verses in the same book saying love one as you love yourself and love one another.  Okay then clearly that author or the translator lost their continuity of thought when writing and contradicting themselves and their theme or hypothesis.  Grade F for Fucked Up.

I have since met a fundie who now is normal and funny and working through his abandoning his sect and another who is one step removed from going on a shooting rampage.  Good balance there.  So when I found this from the late and missed Gawker (we really need Gawker now) I could not find a better tale of what it is like to grow up without fundamental truths about what the world is like - diverse, imperfect and all great.

Growing Up Fundie: The Painful Impact of Conservative Religion
Jennifer C. Martin

In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, and with research indicating that the numbers of Americans who identify as religious are declining, the Religious Right seems to be losing its grip on American politics.

In some ways, that may be true: organized religion and church now trail behind the military, small business, and police for institutions in which the public has confidence. But for so many individuals, the effects of fundamentalist religion have left a deep, jagged scar on their lives as they suffer from the after-effects of spiritual abuse.

I grew up in a fairly conservative, religious household. Members of my family for generations back were proud initial members of the Church of God, a Pentecostal denomination with extremely fundamentalist views. The chances that I could have been subjected to that sort of spiritual abuse were fairly high, but the truth is that my parents were always a little bit different. If I asked theological questions, they answered them, or told me to research it for myself. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t abusive.

After my article on the Quiverfull movement was published, I received dozens of emails from people who had grown up in fundamentalist movements, sharing their tales of heartbreak, horror, and shame in their upbringing. It was a bleak reminder to those of us who did grow up with a more balanced childhood that it’s not just the Duggars who are subjected to ridiculous, sexist teachings under the guise of religion—but everyday people without the benefits of fame and fortune to help them along.

When I expressed interest to them in sharing their stories, there was one common response from all of the subjects: every single one of them wanted to remain anonymous. Despite having left their religions, they remain fearful of judgment, of being found out, and of disappointing their families. So in each case, the names used are not their real names.

Rebekah Washington became involved in the Quiverfull movement when she married a boy from her church while they were attending Harding University, a school affiliated with the Church of Christ. Her husband was set to become a pastor. That’s when she says her new husband became wildly abusive. When she contacted counselors and pastors for help, she was turned away.

“They would say to me, ‘What did you do to cause him to be so angry? Were you not submitting to his will? You need to pray more. Help him be the man that God designed him to to be. How can he lead the house if you’re not being the submissive wife? That must be why he hits you.’”

For ten years, she felt that her body was not her own. She explained that she was subjected to every type of abuse imaginable. When she gave birth to her second child, a son, she decided she never wanted her son to think it was okay to treat women the way that his father treated his mother, and she decided to escape—despite, she thought at the time, it meant the certainty of hell for all eternity. Rebekah convinced herself that it was more important to get out of her domestic situation and give her kids a shot at a good life on earth now. But even that wasn’t easy.

Washington received support from the church during a trial separation, but the church leaders were under the impression that she would ultimately work things out with her husband. When they learned that Washington was planning to make the divorce permanent, they turned their backs to her and accused her of not following Jesus’ command to forgive. But she stood firm.

Eventually, Washington went to school to become a massage therapist. With the help of a few relatives, she slowly began to unravel her life away from the church and stand on her own two feet. It’s been ten years since she left her marriage, but she recently started intensive counseling for a second time to unravel the effects the abuse of her childhood and marriage had in her life.

“Right now I’m starting my journey toward the truth. I have medical problems similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. I get seizures. But I want to go back to school to study religious archaeology or cognitive religion and find out why did things were put in or left out of the Bible, and why are certain churches teaching some things but not other things. Where does it come from?

I want to take my background and help teach women who are in the place I have been to believe they are stronger than they believe they are. If there is a God he will give you strength. Truth will always ring free.”

Physical abuse often runs rampant throughout fundamentalist Christian homes. Though the majority of mainstream and evangelical churches denounce domestic abuse, in a culture where a man is the superior authority, children and women who are viewed as disobedient are often punished, one way or another. Girls tend to get married young, immediately, to the first guy that shows interest in them. I was one of them.

I met my husband when we were both 18 years old the summer after high school. I attended a Christian college, Lee University, where freshman girls joked that they wanted to get a “ring by spring.” I always thought they were silly girls with no ambitions, but the joke was on me. After a lot of pressure from well-meaning family members, we were engaged a year later, at 19. Another year after that, barely out of my teens, I was married to the only real boyfriend I’d ever had outside of high school. We couldn’t even legally buy alcohol yet, or rent a car on our honeymoon.

This wasn’t unusual in my culture. I knew tons of other girls who got married in their early 20s to boys they barely knew, or boys they’d slept with and felt obligated to marry afterward: one of the many unintended consequences of the misogynistic purity culture. Most are divorced by now. But again, I seemed to dodge the fundamentalist curse, for the most part.

Getting married so young was hard, mostly for monetary reasons. You can’t get ahead financially no matter how hard you work. The need for work makes it more difficult for two people to be in college, so my husband had to put off his education until he could go part-time, and we amassed huge amounts of student loan debt.

Then you’re expected to have kids early, too, which I did. We were both emotionally immature when we got married and became parents. But my husband is a really, really nice guy. I knew from the get-go that he was a progressive and kind person. I thought he’d be a good dad one day, and I was right. And unlike typical conservative Christian marriages, ours is egalitarian. I’ve never had any pressure to “submit” or “obey” or view him as the head of the household. I got lucky, but not everyone is.

Blake Pippen grew up in Utah in a Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints polygamist household where multiple wives existed to serve their husband. He was the oldest son of his father’s second wife. Racism and sexism surrounded him: at one point, he was even told by a member of the church that he would go to hell if he married a black girl.

Unfortunately, racism still permeates even in the most progressive cultures. According to Lifeway Research, Sunday morning is one of the most segregated times in America, with churches by and large existing without diversity. And even though I like to think of my particular fundamentalist religion as more advanced, the truth is that when my sister started dating a boy who was black, there was some hateful push back against it from members of our church and older relatives. Now that they’re married, the same people pretend there was never an issue.

At 16-years-old, Pippen’s mother had become a second wife to a man twice her age with whom she would go on to have five children, the oldest of whom was Blake. He, along with the other children, other wives, and passive adults, witnessed their father beating his mother on a near constant basis, an experience which plagues him:

“Even though I hadn’t even reached the age of ten at the time, I am still haunted by the fact that I never came to her defense.”

When he was ten, his mother took Blake and his siblings and left, never to return. Pippen was later able to find solace in non-denominational Christianity, finding forgiveness for those in his past, including his father. He stated:

“Dogma and religious extremism are simply the product of broken, messed up, finite people trying desperately to harness and control a formless, limitless, infinite, almighty God who cannot be categorized or itemized and fit into packages and boxes and labeled on a shelf.”

For others, it’s not as easy to return to faith after a lifetime of guilt in conservative religion. Sasha Von Brandt felt plagued by fundamentalist Christianity her whole life. Initially, she was raised in the Plymouth Brethren tradition, where women weren’t allowed to speak in church and had to wear head coverings and long skirts. Her parents, musicians for the church, scandalized the congregation by bringing a drum set on stage.

She ended up relocating several times during her childhood, so she attended churches of varying denominations, like Baptist and Assemblies of God. At the age of thirteen, she was accused by her youth pastor of witchcraft for causing a sixteen year-old boy to “sin.” But she still saw herself as a Christian. In fact, she decided, along with her high school boyfriend, to attend a Christian university and become missionaries together.

However, when she was exposed to the missionary curriculum and met actual missionaries, she felt repulsed by their arrogant, colonialist attitudes. The professors, former missionaries in some cases, were rude and judgmental about the same people they claimed to serve. She switched her major to anthropology. And at age nineteen, she stopped going to church.

“I was disgusted with plasticized smiles and the sidelong glance when they gave you a handshake. I didn’t see anyone truly feeling anything.”

She felt she was already an atheist by this point, but she didn’t call herself one until two years later. By that point, she’d been through a proposal and a break up with her boyfriend, unable to tether herself to the ties of the Christian dream any longer.

Her family doesn’t discuss her religion, or lack thereof, with her. No one from her old church speaks to her any longer. But for Von Brandt, the benefits of her freedom from fundamentalism outweigh the social consequences. She found an escape from the prison of conservative Christianity in which she found herself. The thing she hated most about religion was the shame and the guilt, but now she says all of that is gone and she feels like she is a kinder, more sensitive, and more authentic person.

“I don’t need what religion gives me. I create my own little family. I don’t need to run away from a fear of death. I would rather live with those questions than accept the easiest answer I could find.”

Other people still live in the shadows of their fundamentalist faith and find it harder to escape. When David Cole reached out to me, I was shocked to find out he, too, was part of the same small Pentecostal denomination as me, the Church of God, and still living in East Tennessee near my hometown. This is the same denomination that would sing triumphantly, “The Church of God is right, hallelujah to the Lamb!” He’s not only still a member, but now a pastor.

Cole considers himself a moderate in the midst of extremism and legalism. Even in the same kind of church, our upbringings were so different. His was strictly sheltered, and the subjects of sex, alcohol, and cursing were never discussed or engaged.

“My stories include not being able to watch certain things that other kids could, literally never having the sex talk from my parents (had to come in other ways). I would possibly be disowned if it were known I had done half the things I have.”

In his part of the community, women wear skirts and men wear long pants. His sisters were threatened with eternal damnation just for having pierced ears. I grew up in the same region, and the same denomination, but I never experienced anything like that. Cole says the Church of God is changing for the better, but the statement on same-sex marriage proudly displayed on the homepage makes me think otherwise.

Despite this, Cole sees himself as a work in progress, and struggles to accept the more progressive notions that his millennial counterparts, including Christians with the same background, seem to be embracing. But he hopes that he can overcome his bias.

“Honestly, I struggle with a prejudice against homosexuality myself. I pray daily that love enters my life and I do not judge people due to their sexuality, but it is a daily struggle. I do think this is due to the legalism and the strict rules we had to follow.”

Dr. Marlene Winell, a human development consultant in San Francisco and a daughter of Pentecostal missionaries, believes that certain aspects of fundamentalism are so toxic to mental health that the resulting effects on individuals could be classified as a mental disorder, which she calls Religious Trauma Syndrome. Though not an official diagnosis by any means, the symptoms are equivalent to those of post-traumatic stress disorder, with fundamentalist religion as the cause.

That may be true for others, but I never experienced it. I watched people speak in tongues and get slain in the Spirit, but I was never forced to participate and never did. My parents didn’t let me watch MTV, but I didn’t have to listen to terrible Christian music. We couldn’t get facial piercings, but I did get to pierce my ears as much as I wanted. I was encouraged to wear purity rings and stay a virgin until marriage, but my mom also told me she would provide me with birth control pills if I needed them. When I went through periods of depression in high school, I wasn’t forced to go to church on Sunday mornings.

And most importantly, I felt free to be skeptical, ask questions, and get answers. They never dismissed my questions or told me what I believed or felt was wrong, or that I was going to hell for having a certain opinion. Yes, they still believe in literalist teachings of the Bible and vote Republican. But that didn’t change how they treated my sister and me. I would say that having a loving, open-minded family is the best defense against the side effects of any fundamentalist trauma. Ultimately, that’s what helped me retain my faith.

But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for everyone. And sometimes, even having a supportive family can’t untangle the negative effects of conservative religion in people’s lives. The impact of a hateful pastor, dangerous dogma, abusive partner, or a cruel missionary can still be painful.

But there are options for those who have experienced spiritual abuse or worse at the hands of religion. You can find more information on faith-based recovery at The Spiritual Abuse Recovery Resources or secular recovery at Recovering From Religion.

Faith Heels

The reality is that faith is not a healing tool it is a weapon in which conservative alternative sects use to avoid reality when it comes to medical and mental health care.

As we have learned of late that many religious groups are anti-vaxxers and in turn have been contributing to the return of a large scale measles epidemic that we had once believed was eradicated thanks to science.   Then again many educated and secular individuals are equally crazy conspiracy theorists as when one finds a child of their own off the spectrum of what is believed to be "normal" in emotional and intellectual growth one often looks to extrinsic factors to lay blame and point fingers.  Hey as Gaga says:  I was born this way.

We live in a world with massive issues from global warming that affects the environment from the air we breathe to the water we drink; there are additives to food that includes hormones; overuse of antibiotics, noise pollution, lack of sleep, genetic markers that we don't know what happens when they are matched with others hence the obsession with designer babies and well the reality is that some children are just going to be different.  And what is wrong with that other than enabling society to accommodate that.   Dell Computer has established a program to hire those who are on the spectrum of Autism to enable them to employ and work with those who have what we might just say are unconventional behavioral issues but are no less intelligent and able to do the job.   Gosh how progressive!!   Having worked with many Autistic kids I can say that many if not most are more than amply qualified to hold a job in an office setting if all those working with and around then are aware and that they are willing to change their own behavior and attitudes this can be largely a matter of perception and not a real problem.

And then we have the sects that refuse medical treatment or care of their children which often leads to death or permanent disability.  Yeah that prayer is really working for you.

And lastly pray away the gay or other forms of abuse that deny children the right to be who God made them.

The horrific reality is that they use the ancient mythical book of stories, aka The Bible, to defend and support their concept of child abuse.  And largely due to the authoritarian views supported in these fundmentalist sects much of this goes unreported and of course ongoing.  Children abused by religious figures less likely to report crimes because of belief in perpetrators' 'automatic morality', government report finds And from this we are finding that while the basic characteristics of religion-related physical abuse are similar to non-religion-related physical abuse, religion-related abuse has significantly more negative implications for its victims' long-term psychological well-being.

And lastly the sexual predators that use God to seduce and in turn abuse those under the guise of authoritarian doctine.  The one in the Bible that claims the man is in charge and the wife and children must submit to his authority as Christ did in the Church.  Sure okay then.  

I finally had to really examine what I expected to find, to do and in turn help my former friend who shows all the signs of an adult who was and likely still is abused.  The endless need to fear God, to hide and withdraw from society and burst into anger when questioned.  I tried and frankly I finally had to give up.  Even trying to engage conversation with him under the guise of scripture reading made me realize I was wasting my time and energy to help someone who simply does not want to be helped.  The cycle will continue and I cannot pray enough that he gets help.  He won't.  And he shows many of the behaviors and components of one who has including serious brain damage. I'm out and while I think he has PTSD he triggers mine. Go figure.

The sad, twisted truth about conservative Christianity's effect on the mind
Some religious beliefs may alter brain function, making us more prone to anxiety and depression

Valerie Tarico • Marlene Winell
November 1, 2014 4:00PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

 “I am 30 years old and I am struggling to find sanity. Between the Christian schools, homeschooling, the Christian group home (indoctrinating work camp) and different churches in different cities, I am a psychological, emotional and spiritual mess.” --A former Evangelical

If a former believer says that Christianity made her depressed, obsessive, or post-traumatic, she is likely to be dismissed as an exaggerator. She might describe panic attacks about the rapture; moods that swung from ecstasy about God’s overwhelming love to suicidal self-loathing about repeated sins; or an obsession with sexual purity.

A symptom like one of these clearly has a religious component, yet many people instinctively blame the victim. They will say that the wounded former believer was prone to anxiety or depression or obsession in the first place—that his Christianity somehow got corrupted by his predisposition to psychological problems. Or they will say that he wasn’t a real Christian. If only he had prayed in faith believing or loved God with all his heart, soul and mind, if only he had really been saved—then he would have experienced the peace that passes all understanding.

But the reality is far more complex. It is true that symptoms like depression or panic attacks most often strike those of us who are vulnerable, perhaps because of genetics or perhaps because situational stressors have worn us down. But certain aspects of Christian beliefs and Christian living also can create those stressors, even setting up multigenerational patterns of abuse, trauma, and self-abuse. Also, over time some religious beliefs can create habitual thought patterns that actually alter brain function, making it difficult for people to heal or grow.

The purveyors of religion insist that their product is so powerful it can transform a life, but somehow, magically, it has no risks. In reality, when a medicine is powerful, it usually has the potential to be toxic, especially in the wrong combination or at the wrong dose. And religion is powerful medicine!

In this discussion, we focus on the variants of Christianity that are based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. These include Evangelical and fundamentalist churches, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and other conservative sects. These groups share the characteristics of requiring conformity for membership, a view that humans need salvation, and a focus on the spiritual world as superior to the natural world. These views are in contrast to liberal, progressive Christian churches with a humanistic viewpoint, a focus on the present, and social justice.

Religion Exploits Normal Human Mental Processes.

To understand the power of religion, it is helpful to understand a bit about the structure of the human mind. Much of our mental activity has little to do with rationality and is utterly inaccessible to the conscious mind. The preferences, intentions and decisions that shape our lives are in turn shaped by memories and associations that can get laid down before we even develop the capacity for rational analysis.

Aspects of cognition like these determine how we go through life, what causes us distress, which goals we pursue and which we abandon, how we respond to failure, how we respond when other people hurt us—and how we respond when we hurt them. Religion derives its power in large part because it shapes these unconscious processes: the frames, metaphors, intuitions and emotions that operate before we even have a chance at conscious thought.

When it comes to psychological damage, certain religious beliefs and practices are reliably more toxic than others.

Janet Heimlich is an investigative journalist who has explored religious child maltreatment, which describes abuse and neglect in the service of religious belief. In her book, Breaking their Will,Heimlich identifies three characteristics of religious groups that are particularly prone to harming children. Clinical work with reclaimers, that is, people who are reclaiming their lives and in recovery from toxic religion, suggests that these same qualities put adults at risk, along with a particular set of manipulations found in fundamentalist Christian churches and biblical literalism.

1) Authoritarianism,creates a rigid power hierarchy and demands unquestioning obedience. In major theistic religions, this hierarchy has a god or gods at the top, represented by powerful church leaders who have power over male believers, who in turn have power over females and children. Authoritarian Christian sects often teach that “male headship” is God’s will. Parents may go so far as beating or starving their children on the authority of godly leaders. A book titled, To Train Up a Child,by minister Michael Pearl and his wife Debi, has been found in the homes of three Christian adoptive families who have punished their children to death.

2) Isolation or separatism,is promoted as a means of maintaining spiritual purity. Evangelical Christians warn against being “unequally yoked” with nonbelievers in marriages and even friendships. New converts often are encouraged to pull away from extended family members and old friends, except when there may be opportunities to convert them. Some churches encourage older members to take in young single adults and house them within a godly context until they find spiritually compatible partners, a process known by cult analysts as “shepherding.” Home schoolers and the Christian equivalent of madrassas cut off children from outside sources of information, often teaching rote learning and unquestioning obedience rather than broad curiosity.

3) Fearof sin, hell, a looming “end-times” apocalypse, or amoral heathens binds people to the group, which then provides the only safe escape from the horrifying dangers on the outside. In Evangelical Hell Houses, Halloween is used as an occasion to terrify children and teens about the tortures that await the damned. In the Left Behind book series and movie, the world degenerates into a bloodbath without the stabilizing presence of believers. Since the religious group is the only alternative to these horrors, anything that threatens the group itself—like criticism, taxation, scientific findings, or civil rights regulations—also becomes a target of fear.
Sponsored Content
[Watch Now] Today's Trending Videos

By Oath Inc.

Bible Belief Creates an Authoritarian, Isolative, Threat-based Model of Reality

In Bible-believing Christianity, psychological mind-control mechanisms are coupled with beliefs from the Iron Age, including the belief that women and children are possessions of men, that children who are not hit become spoiled, that each of us is born “utterly depraved”, and that a supernatural being demands unquestioning obedience. In this view, the salvation and righteousness of believers is constantly under threat from outsiders and dark spiritual forces. Consequently, Christians need to separate themselves emotionally, spiritually, and socially from the world.These beliefs are fundamental to their overarching mental framework or “deep frame” as linguist George Lakoff would call it. Small wonder then, that many Christians emerge wounded.

It is important to remember that this mindset permeates to a deep subconscious level. This is a realm of imagery, symbols, metaphor, emotion, instinct, and primary needs. Nature and nurture merge into a template for viewing the world which then filters every experience. The template selectively allows only the information that confirms their model of reality, creating a subjective sense of its veracity.

On the societal scale, humanity has been going through a massive shift for centuries, transitioning from a supernatural view of a world dominated by forces of good and evil to a natural understanding of the universe. The Bible-based Christian population however, might be considered a subset of the general population that is still within the old framework, that is, supernaturalism.

Children are Targeted for Indoctrination Because the Child Mind is Uniquely Vulnerable.

“Here I am, a fifty-one year old college professor, still smarting from the wounds inflicted by the righteous when I was a child. It is a slow, festering wound, one that smarts every day—in some way or another…. I thought I would leave all of that “God loves… God hates…” stuff behind, but not so. Such deep and confusing fear is not easily forgotten. It pops up in my perfectionism, my melancholy mood, the years of being obsessed with finding the assurance of personal salvation.”

Nowhere is the contrast of viewpoints more stark than in the secular and religious understandings of childhood. In the biblical view, a child is not a being that is born with amazing capabilities that will emerge with the right conditions like a beautiful flower in a well-attended garden. Rather, a child is born in sin, weak, ignorant, and rebellious, needing discipline to learn obedience. Independent thinking is dangerous pride.

Because the child’s mind is uniquely susceptible to religious ideas, religious indoctrination particularly targets vulnerable young children. Cognitive development before age seven lacks abstract reasoning. Thinking is magical and primitive, black and white. Also, young humans are wired to obey authority because they are dependent on their caregivers just for survival. Much of their brain growth and development has to happen after birth, which means that children are extremely vulnerable to environmental influences in the first few years when neuronal pathways are formed.

By age five a child’s brain can understand primitive cause-and-effect logic and picture situations that are not present. Children at this have a tenuous grip on reality. They often have imaginary friends; dreams are quite real; and fantasy blurs with the mundane. To a child this age, it is eminently possible that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and delivers presents if you are good and that 2000 years ago a man died a horrible death because you are naughty. Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, the Rapture, and hell, all can be quite real. The problem is that many of these teachings are terrifying.

For many years, one conversion technique targeting children and adolescents has been the use of movies about the “End Times.” This means a “Rapture” event, when real Christians are taken up to heaven leaving the earth to “Tribulation,” a terrifying time when an evil Antichrist will reign and the world will descend into anarchy.

When assaulted with such images and ideas at a young age, a child has no chance of emotional self-defense. Christian teachings that sound truewhen they are embedded in the child’s mind at this tender age can feel true for a lifetime. Even decades later former believers who intellectually reject these ideas can feel intense fear or shame when their unconscious mind is triggered.

Harms Range From Mild to Catastrophic.

One requirement for success as a sincere Christian is to find a way to believe that which would be unbelievable under normal rules of evidence and inquiry. Christianity contains concepts that help to safeguard belief, such as limiting outside information, practicing thought control, and self-denigration; but for some people the emotional numbing and intellectual suicide just isn’t enough. In other words, for a significant number of children in Christian families, the religion just doesn’t “take.” This can trigger guilt, conflict, and ultimately rejection or abandonment.

Others experience the threats and fear too keenly. For them, childhood can be torturous, and they may carry injuries into adulthood.

Still others are able to sincerely devote themselves to the faith as children but confront problems when they mature. They wrestle with factual and moral contradictions in the Bible and the church, or discover surprising alternatives. This can feel confusing and terrifying - like the whole world is falling apart.

Delayed Development and Life Skills.Many Christian parents seek to insulate their children from “worldly” influences. In the extreme, this can mean not only home schooling, but cutting off media, not allowing non-Christian friends, avoiding secular activities like plays or clubs, and spending time at church instead. Children miss out on crucial information– science, culture, history, reproductive health and more. When they grow older and leave such a sheltered environment, adjusting to the secular world can be like immigrating to a new culture. One of the biggest areas of challenge is delayed social development.

Religious Trauma Syndrome. Today, in the field of mental health, the only religious diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is “Religious or Spiritual Problem.” This is merely a supplemental code (V Code) to assist in describing an underlying pathology. Unofficially, “scrupulosity,” is the term for obsessive-compulsive symptoms centered around religious themes such as blasphemy, unforgivable sin, and damnation. While each of these diagnoses has a place, neither covers the wide range of harms induced by religion.

Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a new term, coined by Marlene Winell to name a recognizable set of symptoms experienced as a result of prolonged exposure to a toxic religious environment and/or the trauma of leaving the religion. It is akin to Complex PTSD, which is defined as ‘a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim’.

Though related to other kinds of chronic trauma, religious trauma is uniquely mind-twisting. The logic of the religion is circular and blames the victim for problems; the system demands deference to spiritual authorities no matter what they do; and the larger society may not identify a problem or intervene as in cases of physical or sexual abuse, even though the same symptoms of depression and anxiety and panic attacks can occur.

RTS, as a diagnosis, is in early stages of investigation, but appears to be a useful descriptor beyond the labels used for various symptoms – depression, anxiety, grief, anger, relationship issues, and others. It is our hope that it will lead to more knowledge, training, and treatment. Like the naming of other disorders such as anorexia or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), the RTS label can help sufferers feel less alone, confused, and self-blaming.

Leaving the Fold. Breaking out of a restrictive, mind-controlling religion can be liberating: Certain problems end(!), such as trying to twist one’s thinking to believe irrational doctrines, and conforming to repressive codes of behavior. However, for many reclaimers making the break is the most disruptive, difficult upheaval they have ever experienced. Individuals who were most sincere, devout, and dedicated often are the ones most traumatized when their religious world crumbles.

Rejecting a religious model of reality that has been passed on through generations is a major cognitive and emotional disruption. For many reclaimers, it is like a death or divorce. Their ‘relationship’ with God was a central assumption of their lives, and giving it up feels like an enormous loss to be grieved. It can be like losing a lover, a parent, or best friend.

On top of shattered assumptions comes the loss of family and friends. Churches vary with official doctrine about rejection. The Mormon Church, for all the intense focus on “family forever,” is devastating to leave, and the Jehovah Witnesses require families to shun members who are “disfellowshiped.”

The rupture can destroy homes, splitting spouses and alienating parents from children.

For Women, Psychological Costs of Belief Include Subjugation and Self-loathing.

Christianity poses a special set of psychological risks for people who, according to the Iron Age hierarchy found in the Bible are unclean or property, including women. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the combination of denigration and subservience takes a psychological toll on women in Christianity as it does in Islam. Not only do women submit to marital abuse and undesired sexual contact, some tolerate the same toward their children, and men of God sometimes exploit this vulnerability, as in the case of Catholic and Protestant child sexual abuse. But most of the damage is far more subtle: lower self-esteem, less independence and confidence; abandoned dreams and goals.

Why Harm Goes Unrecognized. What is the sum cost of having millions of people holding to a misogynist, authoritarian, fear-based supernatural view of the universe? The consequences far-reaching, even global, but many are hidden, for two reasons.

One is the nature of the trauma itself. Unlike other harm, such as physical beating or sexual abuse, the injury is far from obvious to the victim, who has been taught to self-blame. It’s as if a person black and blue from a caning were to think it was self-inflicted.

The second reason that religious harm goes unrecognized is that Christianity is still the cultural backdrop for the indoctrination. While the larger society may not be fundamentalist, references to God and faith abound. The Bible gets used to swear in witnesses and even the U.S. president. Common phrases are “God willing,” “God bless,” “God helps those that help themselves,” “In God we trust,” and so forth. These lend credence to theistic authority.

Religious trauma is difficult to see because it is camouflaged by the respectability of religion in culture. To date, parents are afforded the right to teach their own children whatever doctrines they like, no matter how heinous, degrading, or mentally unhealthy. Even helping professionals largely perceive Christianity as benign. This will need to change for treatment methods to be developed and people to get help that allows them to truly reclaim their lives.