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Mike D

Pentecostalism, a cult within a cult

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I had posted my testimony on one of the other forums awhile back but decided to update it. Here's my update.

 

When I was a kid of about 4 or 5 years old, I was taught about God. Although my mom took me and my sister to church every Sunday, all I really knew about God was that he was some big guy in the sky who created the earth and animals and all the people, and that he loved all of us very much. At that point I didn't really know who Jesus was, or anything about the Bible. But I was told that all good people went to heaven when they die, a place where we would all live happily ever after. So as long as I tried to be good, God would continue to love me, and if I happened to die I would go to Heaven to be with him. This worked fine until I was about 10, until my parents discovered the pentecostal church and conservative Christian fundamentalism.

 

As we attended the pentecostal church, I started to get a little more exposure to Jesus along with concepts like sin, forgiveness, salvation, etc. Being a 10 year-old however, most of this stuff didn't mean much to me I didn't really pay all that much attention. At that time church was a time of trying to sit still, not hit my sister and not get dirty looks from my parents when I got restless. But at some point I started to pay attention to what were called "alter calls", where people would come to the front of the chruch and "open their heart to Jesus", by saying the sinners prayer. I never really understood what this was all about, but it seemed kind of messy with people crying and shaking and basically getting a little out of control. So one day I asked my mom what exactly was going on during these alter calls. She proceeded to tell me that people were being "saved" by repenting and accepting Jesus as their personal savior. When I asked her exactly what that meant, I was rather disturbed when she told me that anyone who wants to go to heaven needs to believe Jesus died for their sins, repent, accept him into their heart and live their life for him. I was rather suprised at this news, because prior to that I was told that god loved all of us, and as long as we were good we would go to heaven when we died. Nobody ever said anything about all this Jesus stuff and saying sinners prayers and everything else. To make matters worse, I found out later by someone else in the chruch that if I didn't do those things, the God I loved and that I thought loved me would toss me into hell when I died, to be burned alive and tortured for eternity. I was totally shocked by this news (not to mention rather terrified), I didn't know what to think. As a few weeks passed however, I realized that I was so frightened by the possibility of ending up in hell that I better do whatever they wanted.

 

At some point later, I told my mom that I wanted to do the alter call and do whatever I had to do to "get right" with god (at 10, heh). But, in order to do that, I needed her to explain it to me so that I understood exactly what I was supposed to do, and why I was doing it. At that point this all seemed very vague and confusing to me. She said, "all you have to do is believe". "Believe what?", I asked. "Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. It's called faith". This left me feeling more confused than I was before. So basically, I was supposed to believe that some guy 2000 years ago was born of a virgin, was the son of god, performed miracles like walking on water, turning water into wine, and then had to die on the cross for my sins because I was bad and evil. And all I had to do was believe all this stuff and I would be saved and get to go to heaven? For whatever reason, even though I was only 10, this just seemed a little wacky. What I really struggled over, was what exactly it meant to "believe"? I wasn't alive 2000 years ago, I never met this Jesus guy, and I never saw anything that he did. How could I say I believed any of that when I had nothing to base my belief on? And furthermore, why was going to heaven dependant on whether or not I believed something that happened thousands of years before I was ever born? What makes someone who believes something worthy of heaven and someone who doesn't believe something worthy of hell? It didn't even make sense. At that point I pretty much just had to give in and say "um, well ok I believe", knowing perfectly well that in the back of my mind I really wasn't really buying all of this. How could I?

 

As I grew into a teenager, we continued to go to the same pentecostal chruch. And the more I learned about these beliefs the further removed from reality they seemed. Aside from the whole Jesus thing, there was "speaking in tongues", becoming "drunk in the spirit", "on fire for Christ", etc., which I think are all signs of a raving pentecostal. The speaking in tongues thing was the most difficult thing for me..... not only did it seem un-natural to me (nor could I do it), but it was just whacked. Here you are in a church were everyone is babbling mindlessly in a trancelike state, there was just something about it that wasn't right. But, ask any Pentecostal and they will tell you that they are the true chruch and people who can't speak in tongues do not have the indwelling of the holy spirit, which brings the state of their salvation into question.

 

Eventually I finally had to admit it, I was becoming very uncomfortable with these beliefs. No, it went further than that.....I was embarrassed by these beliefs. I was ashamed by them. I knew that if I had walked by my church as a stranger, never having been exposed to it before, and witnessed people speaking gibberish and jumping around like they had ants in their pants I would have wondered what kind of an idiot or freak you had to be to get into such a nuthouse. But yet here I was, I was in it. The worse part of it all was that I was starting to become ashamed of my own parents, and I hated myself for feeling that way because I loved them very much. In additon to all this, I was going through my own personal struggles with life as a teenager, dealing with the usual high school peer pressure issues like drinking and sex, etc. And most of all, trying to be cool. But then somehow on Sunday I was supposed to forget all that and focus on stories of the ancient middle east and what happened thousands of years ago. That seemed so far removed from my life as a teenager in the modern USA that at times I just couldn't relate to it at all, and it was a struggle to maintain even a remote interest. I couldn't understand why God wouldn't have a book for modern people that they could relate to their modern understanding of the world.

 

As time passed, I still tried to be involved with the church, mainly for one reason only....fear. Even with all the lunacy and shame, I was so conditioned to believe that all this was true and eternal hell awaited anyone who rejected it or even questioned it, I was too terrified to let any of it go. So I pushed all my bad feelings into the back of my subconscious as far as they would go and I tried to delude myself that they weren't there. I thought if I pretended everything was ok then Jesus and God would too, and everything would be just fine. But that only works for so long.

 

I think the final straw came when I started realizing as I became a young adult that I had a very strong attraction towards men, and basically none towards women. In other words, I came to the realization that I was gay. Ugh, that was just what I needed. All I had heard in my church for years and years was how evil and perverted homosexuals where, they were an abomination to god and would never see the kingdom of heaven. But the thing was, I wasn't choosing to have these feelings, they were just "there". How was this evil? Women are attracted to men and they aren't called evil. Isn't it just possible that whatever makes women attracted to men can also be found in some men? I mean we know from science that there's alot of things that the Bible can't explain or that are just plain wrong (for example demons cause mental illness, lol) so it seems homosexuality is just another thing it has no clue about. I didn't know, but I couldn't see how this was "evil". It just made absolutely no sense. But I finally decided that if the Bible was all true and God really loved me and could free me from the shackles of evil, he would take this away from me. So I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to take it away, but he never did. All that did was make me think maybe god couldn't free me from the shackles of evil, or maybe it wasn't evil to begin with. But even with that I still tried to stick with Christianity as long as I could, even though I saw how much hate and disdain Christians had for gay people. Oh sure Christians will say things like "love the sinner hate the sin" blah blah, but that won't change the fact that in the OT god says to murder gay people (leviticus 20:13), and many Christians still will quote that verse today to show us the disgust and contempt god has for homosexuals. Uh yeah like I am really going to get down on my knees and worship a being that desires me to be killed he is so disgusted by me. Gee and this whole time I thought it was the devil that hated me and was out to get me, lol. And it doesn't matter if the OT is the "old law" or is N/A because Jesus died for our sins. If God is unchanging, it just doesn't matter. If he didn't mean it, then he wouldn't have said it in the first place.

 

Anyway a couple years ago I decided it was time to make some decisions. Either Christianity was true and I needed to come to some place with all this and do what god wants, or it was false and I needed it out of my life once and for all. It was clear to me it wasn't doing me any good, in fact for me it was causing alot of stress and was getting to the point where it was no longer healthy for me anymore. It was then I did alot of thinking, reading and searching into the originations of the Bible and Christianity, as well as talking to others about their experiences with it. After about a year of this, I came to the point that I found that not only is there little evidence that Christianity is any different than any other pie-in-the-sky fairytale whether Islam or Hinduism or Judaism or any other religion, but even my idea of what "god" is no longer seems reasonable. I now no longer believe in god at all, so I guess that makes me an atheist. As far as how life started? We don't know. But just because we don't, doesn't mean we should run to religion for "answers" when it seems pretty clear to me it has none.

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I am happy you are free from that wacky church, but I am sad that you are gay =(

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I am sure you meant that you are sad because he is gay in a positive way, right? It sounded bad... ;) I am sure you meant that you are sad he had to deal with being gay in that environment or something similar. I hope. Otherwise, I had no idea that anyone could be against homosexuality that wasn't religious.

 

Anyway, thanks for posting Mike D.

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I am sure you meant that you are sad because he is gay in a positive way, right? It sounded bad... ;) I am sure you meant that you are sad he had to deal with being gay in that environment or something similar. I hope. Otherwise, I had no idea that anyone could be against homosexuality that wasn't religious.

 

Anyway, thanks for posting Mike D.

 

I think she means she digs him Pandora. Those cats and birds of yours must be keeping you up at night :HaHa:

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Otherwise, I had no idea that anyone could be against homosexuality that wasn't religious.

 

That's very possile...

I was once having a discussion with an Agnostic conervative about it. He asked m if I thaught people should have sex with animals if they wanted to. I said no, since that would always be a form of rape. He said that if the enimals enjoyed it for whatever reason, it would be the same as homosexuality.

Impossible to argue against this mindset...

 

*sorry for the interuption*

 

Mike, you were certainly very smart to see through the curch at 10. :grin:

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Thank you for sharing your story, Mike. I don't think I'll ever cease being amazed at how the church polarizes people instead of uniting them like they'd like to think they do.

 

But at some point I started to pay attention to what were called "alter calls", where people would come to the front of the chruch and "open their heart to Jesus", by saying the sinners prayer. I never really understood what this was all about, but it seemed kind of messy with people crying and shaking and basically getting a little out of control.

 

And this brought back a memory I'd since buried. My home church wasn't pentecostal in nature - in fact, altar calls weren't looked favorably upon at all - that was too "weird", etc. But, I visited a Baptist church with a friend for awhile and they did this frequently, especially at Sunday night services that focused on the youth. I didn't know what the heck was going on at all, but it intrigued me, frightened me, and made me curious. Being a questioning person, I asked my friend why they were crying.

 

Her answer?

 

"You just don't get it."

 

Needless to say, I never visited her church again, but when a very pentecostal youth leader came to my home church and took the place by storm, I "got it"...although the truth of the matter is, I was like you. I never really did. I just kind of bought into it b/c my friends were there and I wanted to belong. :ugh:

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Uh yeah like I am really going to get down on my knees and worship a being that desires me to be killed he is so disgusted by me. Gee and this whole time I thought it was the devil that hated me and was out to get me, lol.

Preach it, Brother Mike! Thanks for posting your story again. It sent shivers down my spine as it resonated so closely to my own Charismatic experience. Replace "homosexuality" with "pornography", and it's nearly identical.

 

I prayed and wrestled with my "sins" so much, that I nearly wore out my knees. And the heavens were brass. Either "God" was powerless to help me, or "he" wasn't there AND there was no problem. I figured that it was the latter. Today, I'm very comfortable with my "lustful flesh", as I believe that I am normal and healthy.

 

Screw the church. :woohoo:

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We used to live in a small town. It was a dry town meaning they did sell any alcohol in the town. It had six churches in a town of 3000 people. The elementary school and a church shared the same parking lot, and a lot of the after school activites were in the church. (So much for separation of church and state.)

 

My daughter was friends with a boy. They would play dress up and do each others hair and make-up. His mother found out he was gay. She called social services and told them he was gay and was molesting my daughter. My daughter was a couple of years younger than him, and they would spend a lot of time together just hanging out. She had her son put locked up in a psychiatric facility and he was ordered by the court to no longer do hair and make up, something he loved to do. He was also ordered to see a psychiatrist to "cure" him of being gay.

 

A friend of mine who was a neighbor to him, took him in as a foster kid. No one mentioned the gay thing. When he turned 16, he did something she considered horrible. He met someone and had a boyfriend. She called the state and told him he was no longer welcome in her home. I guess it was all right for him to be gay as long as he pretended like he wasn't. He was sent to a youth facility for youth offenders. This woman is no longer my friend.

 

Another friend of mine, has some relatives in a nearby town whose kids had grown up and were feeling the empty nest syndrome and took him in. They accepted him as being gay and have taken care of him as if he is their own.

 

In this horribly homophobic small town lived the pastor and his entire family of the church were I was "saved". It's non denominational charasmatic penticostal as far right wing as you can possibly get. The church has 1500 members and all the pastors family are either associate pastors or counselors of this church.

 

My daughter was in the same grade as one of the pastors grandsons. She told me that the grandson was gay. I have never known her gaydar to be wrong, and if this boy is indeed gay he is going to have a horrible life. I have moved away from there, but I still think of him and worry.

 

Taph

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I am sure you meant that you are sad because he is gay in a positive way, right? It sounded bad... ;) I am sure you meant that you are sad he had to deal with being gay in that environment or something similar. I hope. Otherwise, I had no idea that anyone could be against homosexuality that wasn't religious.

 

Anyway, thanks for posting Mike D.

 

I think she means she digs him Pandora. Those cats and birds of yours must be keeping you up at night :HaHa:

 

 

DUH!!! Heh heh... he is rather attractive if that is him. ;)

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Wow Taph.. that is some crazy shit going down in your old town! I can't believe they got away with it.

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Guest Anton P.

Mike- My experience is the same as yours. Actually identical including an absolutely horrendous battle with homosexuality. I can empathize with the whole Pentacostal thing. I grew up in a church that very much encouraged "gifts of the spirit". I equate the trance-like state of the Pentacostal congregation to a form of mass self hypnosis. When I look back at those experiences of people convulsing on the floor and speaking gibberish that someone else in the church was supposed to interpret into English, I really laugh now. Albeit as a teenager I didn't know what the hell was going on and figured I'd better just go along with what my parents wanted. Fear of hell and the Holy Ghost and all of that silliness.

 

I too asked God to take away the burden of my sexual orientation time and time again as I was guilt ridden over who I was. You know what? No assistance from the big Man ever came my way after many years of prayer. I am in my mid thirties now and am much better adjusted with a great career and a wonderful loving group of people in my life. I've grow a lot since then and survived a lot of personal tragedy. I've also made some major adjustments in spiritual attitudes and concepts.

 

Indeed the Old Testament does proscribe the death penalty for homosexual practices, but then again, just about every offense was punishable by death (witchcraft, idolatry, beastiality, etc) in that era. The whole Bibical narrative is just so paradoxical it makes your eyes roll back. Think about it. God is lonely (but supposedly complete in himself wanting in nothing??)so he creates angels. Lucifer wants to be God because God made him so beautiful and powerful he takes one third of heaven's angels to earth. They become demons. God then restores the earth, makes man for more companionship and then gives him free will. The serpent deceives woman who deceives man, the whole human race plunged into chaos. God then kills all the people by flooding the Earth except Noah and crew. Then the law and punishment a la Moses. Then Jesus enters the scene who restores man to God. Jesus rises and ascends into heaven. Christianity is born. Then lots of killing of Pagans and other Christians in the name of God (Crusades, witch trials, etc.) Jesus comes back one day (allegedly and if you pay Jack Van Impe 19.95 for his latest video on end time prophecy you might find out when) defeats Lucifer and the Antichrist. Sinful man is cast into the Lake of Fire. The few who managed to know Jesus personally make into eternity. What the hell is this????? It takes an omnipotent God who can create a whole Universe billions of years to go from hot-cold. cold-hot, etc.??? He loves us, wants to kills us, dies for us, sets us on fire....Many of his creatures he creates for companionship tell him to kiss off at some point if you notice. Seems to me if there's anyone with an issue with his love life it's God. If He wants companionship and worship sooo badly what the hell is He doing? He hasn't done a very good job of managing his interpersonal relationships. He should get it on already. Also, how does one know Jesus "personally". It's kind of hard to have a personal relationship with someone you can't hang out with or talk to in an interactive way. Would a couple or a family say they are in a relationship if they never met or spoke? This crap is sooo lame.

 

For intelligent people to really put any creedence in this myth is just utter nonsense. It's actually the root of a lot of the world's problems: Wars, political uprisings, terrorism, control of the world's oil supply, genocide and racial superiority, crusades, mass exterminations of peoples of different beliefs, communisim, fascism, etc. You get the point.

 

Especially I get what you mean by the Evangelicals and Pentecostals as a cult within a cult... they are militant to the bone.

 

Anyhow, stay well. Be strong in yourself. This is a journey. My thoughts are love everyone to the extent possible. Stand up for yourself and who you are. Don't be afraid to fight back against people with a limited world view and who are ignorant. Keep a good group of real friends close to you. Have an open mind and explore lots of different ideas continually. Travel. Your education never stops. Remember also your entitled to all the love this life has to offer and never ever feel guility about that :-)

 

Warm wishes,

 

Anton

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Hi Anton,

Welcome

 

I cannot even fathom being a Christian and realizing you are gay. All I can say is that I consider Mike and you to be very brave.

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Hey everybody thanks for the replies.

 

Surlymermaid, thanks I am going to take that as a compliment :)

 

Anton, thanks for the post. Glad you got out of that unscathed too. I always wondered why it seemed there was such a high % of homosexuals that rejected Christianity. At first I believed what the church told me (they love their sin more than god), but now I realize it's because they are forced to look at it critically, and I think most see that it's nothing but bs. If nothing else, I would say that people who spend their time jumping around in a trance yelling "shucky fucky lucky coocky foocky kackaa poopy" are hardly in any position to tell us we're the people who have the problem :grin:

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In terms of Pentecostalism being a cult I've noticed pentecostalists like to use a lot of jargon like "filled

with the spirit", "relationship with God", "witnessing", etc etc. Use of jargon is of course a standard cult practice. Has anyone else noticed this?

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In terms of Pentecostalism being a cult I've noticed pentecostalists like to use a lot of jargon like "filled

with the spirit", "relationship with God", "witnessing", etc etc. Use of jargon is of course a standard cult practice. Has anyone else noticed this?

 

Hi Toxic

Welcome.

 

I call this jargon "Christianese."

 

Taph

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Thanks Taph,

 

"blood of christ" is another one they love to use

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I would say that people who spend their time jumping around in a trance yelling "shucky fucky lucky coocky foocky kackaa poopy" are hardly in any position to tell us we're the people who have the problem :grin:

 

:lmao:

 

it's funny cuz it's true. Though I have only been out of the church for a couple of weeks, I must say not having to pretend that I am disgusted by gays is a big relief. That always felt like such an unkind attitude, and kindness is important to me.

 

Thanks for sharing your story Mike.

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In terms of Pentecostalism being a cult I've noticed pentecostalists like to use a lot of jargon like "filled

with the spirit", "relationship with God", "witnessing", etc etc. Use of jargon is of course a standard cult practice. Has anyone else noticed this?

 

Yup. Bigtime. In fact I nearly went rounds with someone on CF about the manipulative misuse of language by evangelicals. It seems like they have a language all their own, which uses the same words as a lot of people do, but assigns totally different meanings to them.

 

Religioustolerance.org has a good article about this phenomenon here.

 

Meanwhile - if I didn't say welcome already, welcome, Mike D.

 

I hear you about wacko Pentecostal churches. The first church I attended regularly was one of these; AoG, in fact. They're nuts. That glossolalia thing, I couldn't ever do it. Weird.

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I've got a local pentecostal group that has given me lots of trouble for years,

they are freaking obsessed with spiritual power

 

calling down the power

infilling with the spirit

annointing people

 

It boils down to one family really, they have three churches

and have aquired a large kingdom,

in the multimillion dollar range

 

and, it's my opinion that they are flat out demonic

 

majic power from god if you never cut your hair

 

and when they possy up for some spiritual warfare

or "draw the sword of the spirit"

or "cast out demons"

 

well, all hell breaks loose

 

and, they preach in jesus name, three times a week

 

completely US tax exempt too

 

If I could shut them down,

it would spare lots and lots of people like you

 

 

Find me an IRS agent that is willing to go after them

or a States Attorney or something like that

 

Beverly

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I'm brand new here, but was overwhelmed by your story, Mike. I wanted to add that I never understood why the "alter call" was Sunday after Sunday and the same people went up. How many times could on person be saved? I always wondered this. I went up and tried the whole ritual. A good cry felt like a relief, but I felt stupid afterwards. I mean, life just went on like it always had. Nothing changed.

 

I once went up during service to be "slain in the spirit." Some guy stood behind me and the pastor, get this, pushed me with his hand on my forehead. I didn't like being pushed so I didn't fall. This was in front of about fifty people. The pastor calmly explained that I had "trust issues" with god. (I hope I don't offend anyone, but I refuse to cap "christian" and "god.") He explained that I needed to work on my faith. I could never understand how one "worked" on one's faith or gained more faith.

 

That pentecostal stuff is so strange, but then a ton of my christian experience was so strange.

 

I've enjoyed reading all the stories at this site. I could really relate to yours, Mike. Its nice talking to real people who don't speak in strange unspeakable languages, use a bible verse in every other sentence, talk about my "walk with the lord", or obesse with "trust issues" or "faith issues."

 

Great to meet you all!!! I'm not alone.

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I'm brand new here

Welcome Seabusicut! :wave:

 

Thanks for reading my testimony. I too enjoy reading others' testimonies on this site, there's some pretty interesting stories, plus I usually get a good laugh out of how similar so many of our experiences are.

 

And no you are definitely NOT alone! :)

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