To Those Who May Be Shocked, Disappointed, and Hurt by the News of My Apostasy

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by Vyckie Bennett (Garrison)

This is a letter to those godly, dedicated Christians who know me (or know of me) from my articles and testimonies which have appeared in popular homeschool publications such as Above Rubies, An Encouraging Word, SALT, Unless the Lord, etc. ~ or who have followed news of our ever-growing family in my monthly column or in updates and prayer requests which I have posted on email groups such as MOMYS Digest, The Lord’s Heritage, FARBITM, and others. I have been an advocate of godly womanhood ~ I’ve encouraged fellow Christian moms in their Quiverfull convictions and have done my best to lead by example in my own family.

This is a difficult letter for me to write ~ mainly because I was so convinced of, and committed to, the Biblical family ideals espoused by what has been termed the “Quiverfull” or “Biblical Patriarchy” movement. I was entirely sincere ~ and I never hesitated to do whatever I believed the Lord was asking of me, no matter the cost to my own personal comfort or convenience.

There is a great deal of heartache and drama in the story of how I came to disavow that whole lifestyle along with the Christian religion and the Bible upon which those family principles are based ~ which could make for some interesting reading if I ever actually get around to writing a book ~ but I guess what it really comes down to is this:

My children were not thriving in the isolated and controlling environment which had developed in our home as a result of following the patriarchal family structure.

I have never been much of a pragmatist ~ preferring to ground my thoughts, beliefs and actions on revealed Truth rather than following the inherently subjective standard of “whatever works.” But when my oldest daughter, Angel tried to kill herself ~ I could not help but think, “I could have kids in the psych ward for a lot less effort.”

I had knocked myself out for my Lord ~ following His will for my life and my family though it nearly killed me on several occasions. I had done everything according to the “Old Paths” and the “narrow way” ~ welcoming children from the Lord even though my pregnancies were horrendous and deliveries life-threatening, I homeschooled, home birthed (risky business for one who’d already had 4 c-sections), home churched, “dared to shelter” my children from worldly influences ~ I was a helpmeet to my husband in every way possible, upholding his authority to the children, supporting him even when he was clearly in the wrong, trusting that in submitting to him, I was actually submitting to the Lord and that being so, I was confident that He would work everything out for good according to His perfect will.

What I finally was forced to acknowledge is that there are limits to what is possible ~ and a lifestyle of martyrdom and self-abnegation is unsustainable. The stress took such a toll on my health that I was practically bed-ridden and in danger of suffering organ failure from lack of blood pressure since my stress-response system had been taxed to the limit and no longer produced sufficient amounts of adrenaline to keep me functioning. I felt like a zombie ~ the living dead ~ but I kept going because I could do all things through Christ and I had the Holy Spirit to strengthen me. My sincere and deeply held convictions provided the motivation I needed to live such a demanding and difficult lifestyle.

But then I met my uncle, Ron ~ and we undertook an email correspondence which changed everything for me. I’m sure many of you will remember Ron from the frequent prayer requests and updates which I posted in which I explained that my uncle is not a Christian, but I really liked him and we’d been writing to each other. I was so thoroughly convinced of the truth of Christianity ~ I had a good comprehension of the best arguments for the defense of the Biblical worldview and was an articulate apologist for the faith ~ so I was not at all concerned that my uncle’s influence might in any way jeopardize my well-considered, logically consistent, readily defensible belief system.

We wrote to each other for nearly a year ~ and over time, my way of thinking began to change. For now, I won’t go into all the details of how I came to doubt the Bible’s authority and even the existence of a personal, all-powerful, all-knowing God ~ but by the time Ron and I discontinued our writing, the unthinkable had happened, and I was filled with doubts.

For a while, I tried to figure how much of my Christian beliefs I could salvage ~ what of the Bible message could I still claim as valid and acceptable? ~ was there a “core truth” that I could hold onto despite my rejection of the strict, literalistic interpretation which included such narrowly defined family roles? ~ but despite my almost frantic searching, I came up empty. None of it makes sense to me anymore ~ and the things which used to be beautiful and inspiring to me now seem hideous ~ petty, warped, and sick.

Anyone who’s read my previous writings knows where I have been, what I’ve believed, practiced and taught. Here’s how I see it now:

The Bible is an ancient text written in a time and culture radically different from our own. It was written by men who were privileged enough to know how to read and write ~ and it establishes a self-serving, male-dominated religion which uses the promise of Heaven and the threat of Hell to keep the disenfranchised content in their servitude. (OMG ~ I sound just like Karl Marx.)

It seems crazy that thousands of years later, we should be trying to emulate the family structure and gender roles of an ancient society which viewed women and children as property. Truthfully, I’m kind of pissed that I so willingly co-operated in my own oppression for so many years ~ I allowed myself and my children to be used to fulfill an egotistical fantasy of a man who desired to be king of his castle.

Patriarchy is a pretty sweet deal ~ for the man who gets a Proverbs 31 wife and a quiverfull of children like olive branches around his table. In that family set-up, Daddy reigns supreme. I know, I know ~ the teaching is that it’s actually the Lord Jesus whom the wife and children serve when they submit to and obey the father. And when I think about it ~ that’s so twisted! How convenient for the man that all this is clearly spelled out in the Word of God.

I realize that I sound like an angry feminist bitch ~ and I think to myself, “If only I could convince them that I tried my best ~ I did everything right!” Could it be that the failure is with the system, not with the burned-out and worn down women who are struggling to make it work?

The truth is, not all men are cut out for leadership in the home or church. And for those with controlling, punitive, and demanding tendencies, the practice of patriarchy in the home will only exacerbate their insatiable egos and lend an air of spiritual credence to their tyranny and abuse in the name of “protection” and spiritual covering.

The truth is, the woman who aspires to be a Proverbs 31 wife is setting herself up for failure. Often I have agonized over the overwhelming burden expressed by wives and mothers who feel they are not meeting the standard ~ they try so hard, and yet ~ there’s not enough of one woman to go around. Even with the help of the older daughters, the workload is ceaseless and the demands on her time and energy are bound to leave her feeling inadequate. Must be her lack of faith. Perhaps what she needs is to read another Vision Forum book or attend an Above Rubies conference wherein she’ll discover the KEY to making it all work, getting it all done.

Seriously ~ what Mothers of Many need is RELIEF ~ not another “revelation” about what truly constitutes the godly wife and mother. Not another pep-talk from Nancy to inspire her to “present her body a living sacrifice.” No more visions and bible verses to load her with guilt when she somehow doesn’t manage to reproduce the Garden of Eden within her godly home.

In the patriarchal world which I will no longer take part of, the Commanding Officers (the men) are forever waging war against the world and the devil. Wives and children are useful as foot soldiers and arrows in this daily battle for the Kingdom of God. Should a mother die in childbirth, she is hailed as a faithful, dedicated woman ~ hers is a martyr’s death. But if she should struggle ~ if she fails to reverence her husband despite his imperfections and failures to love her as Christ loves the church ~ if she should dare complain that she’s tired and overwhelmed ~ if she has a healthy self-preservation factor ~ or should she be a thinking woman who just can’t manage to adorn herself with that highly prized “meek and quiet spirit” ~ then she is a rebellious Jezebel ~ a reproach on the testimony of Christ. Likewise, the children are valued only in as much as they conform to the lifestyle chosen for them by their parents. If they should express their own opinions (but where would they form dissenting opinions when all influences are controlled by their protector and provider, i.e., Daddy?) they are made to fear for their soul’s salvation. It’s a world in which the only way to win (to be declared a faithful servant approved by the Lord), is to lose yourself ~ lay aside all your dreams, desires, wants, needs ~ your very life ~ and do it without complaint. That’s the way to win if you are a godly woman or a visionary daughter ~ for the man, it’s a whole different story.

Okay ~ I have to stop. Not that I don’t have plenty more to say ~ just that I know this letter sounds bitter and angry and I haven’t figured a way to convey my true feelings ~ that of betrayal and of having been used and of the frustration of having adopted a worldview which systematically denied my children their very selfhood.

To my kids, I apologize. To those who have been influenced by my articles and inspired by my family’s testimony ~ all I can say is … well, I actually don’t know what to say. I just don’t buy it anymore ~ it didn’t work for our family and my children paid the price. It’s one thing for me to lay my own life down in the service of God ~ but I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my children on the altar of “family values.”

  • Southern Beale

    Thanks for sharing your story … I wonder if you now view Quiverfull as a cult? From my outsider perspective, it seems to have some cult aspects to me. Not all Christians see the world in such absolute terms as the fundamentalists. Perhaps after some time of healing you can find comfort in faith, not oppression.Good luck to you and your family.

  • Gigi

    I came over from Salon.com. I admire your bravery in going out on your own. Although I’m the youngest of seven (Catholic parents), I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to raise all those kids, much less as a single mom. No path in life is easy, but at least you have the peace of mind to know that you’re making your own decisions. Good luck with everything you do.Gigi

  • Anonymous

    I was with you until you got to the ‘angry feminist bitches’ part. Everything you’ve written here, which you have recently figured out, has been written about by feminists over the past hundred years or so. Did they tell you feminists were bad too? Of course they did.And what is wrong with being angry when you’ve been treated so horribly?

  • Allison Reynolds

    Vyckie you did the best you could and no one should ever ask for more.As an atheist mother in Australia (it’s weird saying I am an atheist because…well it’s no big deal here in Australia) your story touches me on the human level. I have tried to imagine what it would have been like to have that many children with so little support from a partner who cared. TerribleStill, you are quite obviously very smart, positive and bright and you will go on into the future with strength from your experiences (roses do grow out of manure as they say). If I can help you with anything in some way please drop me a line.

  • Anonymous

    thank you so much for sharing this with the world. Look forward to reading more.

  • mojitogirl

    BRAVO!!!!!!!!!

  • Athaliah

    I found your article through Salon.com and it intrigued me so much because even though I’m a christian I am not immersed in everything “christian” and by that I mean that I’m not surrounded with everything holy. Quite the contrary, I’m a college student attending a very liberal University. Therefore I didn’t know about the organizations and the fundamentalist movements you spoke of; your story has opened my eyes to something I was clueless about. Nonetheless, I completely sympathize with your experience and everything you had to endure, and from what you explained about the patriarchal movement I am in complete disagreement. I don’t believe that’s how it should be in the times we live in, and the segregation, practically excluding kids from the outside world is incorrect. From my experiences I find that it is in the outside world, when you have to interact and make sense of the times we are living in, where you can form a balanced and mature knowledge of God. Where the Bible can take on its meaning in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Exclusion is not the answer. There are plenty other things I disagree with in regards to the “movement” but if I continue my comment will be too long. I just want to congratulate you on standing up for yourself and your children in the face of opposition. Be blessed,NatyP.S. I agree with you Southern Beale, “not all christians see the world in such absolute terns as the fundamentalists.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a religious person, but you are, or used to be. So why would a god make you if you didn’t matter? That seems to be what the Quiverfull movement–and much of the right to life movement–is about: that babies who haven’t yet been born, or even conceived, are more important than real-life, actual women.You MATTER. And by leaving this movement, you have modeled for your daughters the idea that they MATTER. You should be really proud of that. It doesn’t mean that you can’t lead a devout, Christian life, either. If you take care of yourself–the self that god gave to you–then there will be more of you for your kids, for other women, for other people, for the planet.In the end, much of what we need to know about how to live is realized in that boring speech the flight attendants make about what to do if something goes wrong on the airplane: “Adjust your mask before helping your child.” You’ve adjusted your mask–congratulations!–and now you will be able to keep breathing, and in so doing you can give yourself to other people and causes who need you. Any god who has a problem with that–well, that’s a childish, petty god who doesn’t deserve your attention, let alone your worship.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a mother of 1 with another on the way, and I struggle constantly with losing and finding myself again and again within the context of constant nurturing and mothering and daily chores. I am totally amazed at your fortitude, for living the life you did and for examining yourself and your families needs and getting out! I hope that you find support and friendship to help you along in your new life. The way I see it, mothering your children in the way that is true to YOU is a very powerful act. It’s so great you protected them from the oppression they were experiencing under a patriarchal family structure like the quiverfull model. I think that some of the attitudes you are describing as part of quiverfull are mainstream on a less obvious level. For example, I know many stay at home moms who are not religious who blame themselves if they can’t make life at home “perfect” even when their husbands are doing very little or detracting from the harmony of the home. Your brave choice to value yourself and your kids, and to free yourself from the most extreme manifestation of these deeply sexist attitudes can show a lot of women that it’s not OK to devalue yourself in the role of wife and mother.

  • Annie

    Congratulations on shedding the shackles of religion. How lucky to have an uncle who sees life through the eyes of reason, and who cares enough to try to enlighten others. I was never a Christian but I was a devout believer in God. It took studying my religion to realize that PEOPLE MADE ALL THIS SHIT UP! Weird isn’t it, that it just doesn’t really sink in for most people. Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    i applaud you for your bravery. i grew up in fundamentalist christian home that has now driven a wedge between me and my family. my heart aches because of it. wishing you well.

  • Anonymous

    I just wanted to say that I really admire your strength and courage. It seems to me an amazing act of bravery to totally remake yourself (or perhaps to become yourself) with so many forces within and without conspiring to hold you down. Thank you for sharing your story. I suppose I’ve always thought (without really thinking) that the women of the Quiverfull movement must be a little bit crazy, but you’ve made me see how this is really a complete system of oppression and domination. I am so glad that you saved yourself.

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations on finding your voice. Having a large family should be a blessing and something you want,not something you are commanded to do.I wish you very well.

  • Anonymous

    Way to go Vyckie! You are an inspiration to all of us. I admire your courage and strength. Way to stand up for yourself and speak out against such oppression. Your children are lucky to have you as a role model.

  • Anonymous

    LOVE you mom. We are lucky to have you as are mother. You might not know this but you are my role model. And I thank you for getting out of the whole fundamentalist Christian thing. Love you much CHASSE BENNETT ps Thank for giving me a social life.

  • raven-moon

    I admire your courage, applaud your reclaiming of yourself and your freedom, and offer support for your continued journey. You did right, and you need only see the comment before mine to know that.

  • Anonymous

    You did the right thing, and anyone who condemns you for it doesn’t really know God. I wish you and your children well.

  • Angelia Sparrow

    Hello, from another Quiverfull Walk-away.I only had four. I knew four was taxing me and I was never able to give up birth control to be “truly godly.” I also knew that at base I would never be a Real Christian ™ because I was an intelligent woman, and El has no use for those. (I don’t call the Hebrew god “God” anymore. I call him by name as I call Odin and Isis by name.)Of my four little “God-Warriors,” The Goddess called two of them and two don’t believe much of anything.Feminism is the radical idea that women are people. It’s not the great evil you’ve been taught. Read _The Feminine Mystique_ and see if you don’t identify.

  • Dee

    Good for you! I read your story on Salon.com and have nothing but kudos. I wish you a light load and an uplifted head and a welcome change of pace for your new life.

  • Nina E

    Dear Vyckie ~ I also came over from Salon.com and I am touched and heartened by your story. I do not recognize the God any fundamentalist, oppressive religious sect. But I am learning to recognize the God in my soul and in the souls of my fellow humans and I hope that you and your lovely children will too, in time. Thank you so much for your story.

  • Anonymous

    I admire you for everything you’ve been through and your courage, and for expressing it so articulately!

  • Anonymous

    You have my admiration, respect and congratulations. I come from a fundamentalist Christian background that features portions of the lifestyle you used to have to deal with. It’s all a lie, and the liars, for the most part, don’t even question their motivations. These are small men, and women, whose minds have never fully developed. I applaud you for seeing your life for what it really is… yours… and I hope you are making up for lost time.

  • Anonymous

    To quote many, I also came from Salon.com, and really wanted to thank you for sharing your story. There must have been a lot of factors that made staying in the Quiverfull community attractive, particularly its support, but I wanted to drop a few lines that this heathen/pagan/unholy/modern/messy/godless/complicated rest of the world accepts YOU, for yourself as a valuable member, along with each of your children.

  • bronxelf

    I am someone you would have been terrified of, pulling your children as far from me as possible(no I’m not a serial killer, I’m just an atheist *and* a woman, *and* a childfree woman at that.) I just wanted to say that this post clearly must have been very hard to write, and I admire and applaud your doing so. I hope that you and your kids find nothing but joy and happiness as you explore “the rest of the world”, and that even when you come upon things you don’t like; things that may confuse and hurt you, that you feel comfortable asking the “community at large”, as opposed to your former thinking of “community at very, very small” for support, because it will come. I know that in very restrictive religious environments they tell you that’s not true. That the only people you can believe and trust are the ones in the same leaky and sinking boat as you. But reality says otherwise. Watch as the comments here bear that out. :)Good luck.

  • SRR

    I come from a Christian, NOT fundamentalist, background. Mine is a questioning faith, and my belief goes up and down and in and out. I try to live by Jesus’s example: Loving and accepting others, and caring for others. Belief in personal god, or not, I feel that is the right thing to do.Best wishes in having to make so many difficult decisions and changes.

  • Michael

    Vckyie – I came over to this blog from the QuiverFull article in Salon.com and simply wanted to say that I am very impressed with how you were able to reason your way out of this movement. You seem to have a fine mind and a unique ability to express yourself. I think you should be encouraged to use your writing skills to help you move forward. Good luck to both Vckyie and Laura!

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations on accepting your own thoughts. I know it had to be painful, but you had the strength of personality to do it. I wish you and your children the best in the future.Don’t worry about sounding like an angry feminist. All women are angry when they realize how they are used by men- it’s normal. Men try to make it look like it’s the woman with the problem, but nope- it’s just that when women stand up for themselves, they are called shrews. And, as you probbly remember, other women accept this too, superiorly thinking that they aren’t shrews, and they’ve put up with way more than that other woman is complaining about. Welcome to true womanhood, where women are people. Period.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Vyckie,I read your story on Salon.com and my heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine some of the things you have been through in your life, but the depths of inner strength that you have, not only to be a mother of so many, but put your foot down and speak out against a potentially oppressive movement, is obvious.I was struck as I read your synopsis of Biblical fundamentalism and what exactly was expected of you to be considered “holy” and “trusting in God,” especially when I think of my own experience with Christianity. I think of my despair in trying to be holy, in trying to do everything “right” to somehow make God pleased to with me and others admire me. Christ words, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” were very perplexing to me at times. I agree with you: it can’t be done. I can’t EVER be good enough, though I’ve almost killed myself trying. (In your case, quite literally so.) I can never follow Christ’s commands the way He calls me to. If this is it, then it’s a wash. But what did he mean when he said that? I am in the process of discovering it: forgiveness, and undeserved favor, I think. The Bible says that “all our righteous works are as filthy rags.” I approach God and all I can see are the things I didn’t say or do and my consistent failure at righteousness. As I am getting to know Christ as a person, not an ideology, and understand that God looks on me and sees only one thing: Christ’s perfect sacrifice and holiness, I am truly free. No matter what I do in the future, did in the past, or am doing now, I am forgiven for it. This has been incredibly freeing to me.Vyckie, I am so sorry for what you’ve been through and the way the Bible has been twisted and taught to you. I don’t have answers why these things happen, but am convinced that the Bible IS truth, in need of carefully handling, studying and applying it in the RIGHT way, where Christ is the core of all of it. I will be praying for you in the midst of this, that He would find you and give this freedom, and show you the real truth apart from lies and manipulation. My heart is with you. -Heather

  • diane

    You are a feminist. It is not a bad word. When the realization of how you were duped and how the very structure of patriarchy works to snuff the life out of children and women became crystal clear, you became angry. Anger is not a sin. Righteous anger has fueled many positive changes in the world, and you are a movement for positive change. I saw my mother suffer throughout my childhood and swore I would never suffer the same fate. I have been a feminist since I was 18 years old. I am married with 2 children and adopted a child with disabilities. I am now 57 years old. Life has not been perfect, but it has been good. My two birth children have grown into strong and caring adults, who see the world as a place where everyone has equal value and equal rights. My disabled daughter still suffers from her early years in which she witnessed domestic violence and in which she suffered child abuse. Your children are watching and they will gain insight and wisdom from the strength you had to walk away from that destructive environment. It took a lot of guts, and I commend you.

  • Victoria Rose

    Vyckie:I think you're incredibly brave to leave such an oppressive and abusive environment. It's not easy, and you're lucky to have the support system that you do.If you're interested in learning how the Bible came to be the way it is today, I have an author you might want to read. His name is Bart Ehrman, and he's written such books as "Lost Christianities" and "Misquoting Jesus." He's an eminent Bible scholar who, through thorough study, examination, and textual criticism of the Bible, uncovered the many and varied human origins of the Bible we know today.You do sound like an angry feminist. You have every right to be angry after all that was done to you, and feminism is nothing more than the idea that women matter just as much as men. But bitch? Absolutely not! You're so used to being subjugated that you're not comfortable yet expressing your true opinions. That and right now you're still reeling, so of course you're going to sound bitter. It's only natural. Time and achieving your own self-realization will help take the edge off.More power to you.Good luck!~ Victoria      @}'-,–'–,—'—–

  • Anonymous

    Wow, what can be said? However, your group was far beyond a Fundamental group. Fundamentalist Christians believe in Five Doctrinal Fundamentals of the Faith. There is nothing in there about having so many babies that it kills you. Nor is there anything there about husbands treating their wives as cattle.The group you were with obviously took some of the stories in the Old Testament and made up a new religious system. It is wrong and sinful to do this.I go to a “Fundamental” Baptist church and I don’t know a soul there who believes this way or treats their wife in this manner. If they saw someone doing this, they would refute this behavior and those attitude with scriptures. I’m sorry this happened to you. And although I know you doubt the existence of God, I will pray for healing for you. (I hope you are not offended). It angers me when men/women twist and pervert the word of God for their own sinful purpose.Go in peace.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for writting this. I hope you help many other families struggling.

  • dee

    Vyckie,I believe we corresponded over a couple of weeks in the spring of 2007 while you were struggling with many of these issues. I felt a connection to you and a compassion for your searching soul. I am so happy to read your blog and to know that your search has led you to this place. I am sure it is not an easy place to be but it seems to me that it is the place that God has led you to. God is at work in you.

  • Anonymous

    Vyckie,I just came over here from a site called True Womanhood where we’ve discussed this movement quite a lot. I want you to know that much of what you said in this post resounds with me. I am not a “quivering” mother myself, but come from a large quiverfull family, in which I experienced much of what you talk about. It took courage for me to step out of my beliefs that I MUST have as many children as possible and that birth control is sinful. It’s taking a lot of courage to embrace the truth that maybe my parents (and my husband’s parents) are not always right after all, and that God gave me a brain for me to use it.Have you ever heard of Don Francisco? You can listen to his music at this sitewww.rockymountainministry.orgGo to mp3s on the left hand column.

  • Arietty

    Vicki I am very happy to read that you are out of the closet!! LOL.. you might remember me, I wrote to you about my own children’s adjustment once we left the patriarchy on a forum of Cheryl’s. I am just thrilled to read this blog!!

  • Anonymous

    Please check out the following Christian egalitarian websites. You may find some answers there:http://www.cbeinternational.org/new/index.shtmlwww.equalitycentral.comand http://www.geocities.com/about_biblical_equality/index.htmPlease especially go to http://www.equalitycentral.com. There are a lot of Christians there who believe in complete equality for women. They would love to discuss the issue with you.

  • Anonymous

    Vickie,You need to learn about the Christian egalitarian movement. These Christians do not put women under the authority of men in either the home or the church. And yet they are true God-fearing Christians.I’m glad you shared your story. There are Christian women from all shades of male domination who are re-thinking the male female relationship. I understtand that you are an atheist now. The teaching of male authority over women has led many women to atheism. But you don’t have to stay there. There is help in Christian egalitarianism.

  • adventuresinmercy

    I am extracating myself from this lifestyle (you may remember me from MOMYS as “Molly in Alaska.” I love God. Still. *smile* But the rest of it is in the dumpster. In much the same way, I just can’t believe I ever bought into it in the first place. What damage it has done to my life. What horrible damage… Our stories sound much alike, only I stopped after child #5. Good for you on speaking out. Keep it up. Yours is a voice that needs to be heard.

  • abe

    For some links to Christian egalitarianism:www.cbeinternational.orgwww.equalitycentral.comhttp://www.geocities.com/about_biblical_equality/index.htmCheck these out. I think you will enjoy them.

  • Anonymous

    I came over from the Salon.com article . . . it must have been difficult for you, seeing as how faith was so beneficial for you as a teenager, to leave this movement behind. It sounds like you did the right thing for you and your children, though. I hope you can find a community, either a faith community or some other community based on common interests, that you can feel a part of again. It frightens me how much fundamentalist Christianity is tied into men’s supremacy and into war. And how psychologically damaging to be producing a lot of children in the case of a holy war. I know that is not why mothers have children, no matter what their husbands or their church leaders ask them to do.I was raised in a moderate Catholic household and had lots of friends who were Lutherans and Methodists. I think if it’s important to you to be a part of a faith community, you can find one that does not ask you to subvert your humanity so much. I personally am not religious at all any more, and sometimes I am even an angry feminist bitch, LOL, but I can understand why people enjoy faith communities. And most of the people of faith that I know, even the old school Catholics who had a lot of kids, would read this article and tell you that’s not the God they know.Good luck to both of you women and all of your children. You are good examples to your children whether they know it or not. They are Americans and they should have choices.

  • Sarah C.

    Bravo! I am glad to see that someone who was as hardcore can repent :) and even offer a mea culpa for it. It goes to show that the mind, once expanded will never return to its original shape.I have had a hard time struggling with faith in general for the last 5 years. I am not sure I am a whole-hearted atheist just yet but I feel pretty secure in saying that much of the Christian dogma here in the U.S. is unreasonable. It’s not consistent to expect half of all human beings to be nothing but baby ranchers and the other gets to do and be whatever they want. Female benefactors who carry the whole system on their backs are being punished when the system stops functioning because we are not meant to give birth continually or be slaves to bad ideas (no matter how good our intentions were!). Our bodies- and spirits- will die. If all women were just baby incubators, we certainly would not have been given- or by analysis “evolved to have”- wonderful thinking and reasoning brains learning and creating good and bad ideas. Humans developed into complex and adaptive beings that cannot be stuffed into one idea or expected to live as slaves to a broken idea. Humans, men and women, were meant to be partners and companions. Good luck to you. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your struggle.

  • Gary Dean Purifory

    Hi Vyckie,Your decision to leave quiverfull can only be characterized as a liberation, not an apostasy. Your story is a very interesting and powerful one, and should be told as often as possible. I’d never heard of quiverfull, until I read your article on salon. Best wishes, and much success to you and Laura.Sincerely,Gary PuriforyThe Investigators Report

  • CaeruleanXII

    Vyckie,My heart goes out to you after hearing about what life was like in that movement.Guilt has always been one of the primary tools of religion, but don’t give into it. You are doing the RIGHT thing by yourself and your children now. Despite the fact that I am not a Christian (though I used to be), one thing I recall that Jesus said (that I agree with) was that we were to love our neighbors AS OURSELVES. You yourself are a worthy recipient of your own love as others are. Self-abnegation is not a good or holy thing, it is an unnatural thing that serves no good purpose.Your finding freedom from this oppressive group will help others. Good luck with everything, and thank you for sharing your story publicly. You’re an inspiration.Michael Riggs

  • Phil

    Bravo and congratulations on your liberation. One thing I’d like to comment on from previous comments is this whole “Christianity to Hebrew G-d” relationship. Christianity has as much to do with the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as Satanism has to do with Christianity. Sure Christianity is kind of an offshoot of Judaism (though it has more to do with Roman and Persian pagan cults that with HaShem Ha Kadosh Baruch-hu) just like Satanism is an offshoot of Christiantiy. Have you ever noticed how most the great feminist thinkers, strong, independent women in business, culture and politics are Jewish? Does this jive with the Christian perception of what a woman is or should be? Perhaps it’s because the Christians got it wrong and they’re still laboring under Roman cultural mores. BTW, my mom and my family was a victim of the Christian male supremacist theology in the 1970′s and I can trace everything wrong with our relationships with each other and with our own families back to the Mustard Seed church in Lawrence, KS. My only advice as a survivor is to be good to yourself and to your children and never blame yourself for the pain inflicted on you. And if you can, don’t abandon G-d. Try to find your own relationship with G-d untainted by the agendas of the men who wrote the bible. If you can’t, I completely understand. It took me 12 years before I could even start that process.

  • Holly Peterson

    Thanks for sharing your story. I don’t think people realize how so many women (and men) have been carried away little by little to this oppressive way of thinking. The new wave I’ve noticed is the “Stay at Home Daughter.” Google it, and you’ll find young women who plan never to attend college but to “serve their father’s (that’s earthly dad not God)vision until he releases her to the man she will marry and then birth many children with.I homeschool but I homeschool with people who wish to throw off the bonds of slavery of all kinds and to learn in freedom. But it sometimes can get hard to find people like that because the Quiverfull, HSLDA, Vision Forum, Bottkins, Above Rubies people are so effective at what they do.They basically paint a portrait of a utopia where if you do A and B, then C is sure to follow. And if it doesn’t, then you did it wrong.I agree that it tends to be the women who for some reason want to impose this on their families. And not only that, it seems to be the “bruised” women who came from either really difficult backgrounds or who “sinned” a lot and want something different.As Cheryl Lindsay Seelhoff says on her blog at Womensspace, many women wish to have a lot of children or perhaps see how unhealthy many parts of the American life are. They trade off their freedom for security and a utopian vision. So they get what they want or think they want (kids, safety, a big garden, life in nature, Little House on the Prairie) and then when they get it… they realize that they’ve made the bed and now…. they have to lie in it for a really really really long time. Why is the intensity growing among fundamentalists?

  • Al Barger

    Miss Vyckie- From this testimony at least, I would take you as a brave and virtuous woman. That’s partly from the long efforts at leading a proper Christian life as you understood it.But even more so, I salute your bravery and intellectual integrity in ultimately choosing to recognize the stick of harsh reality disproving your deepest convictions. Changing your mind on that level is tough.But if there is a God, the main thing he gave us is our brains and our advanced abilities to think and understand. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, if there is a God, he must surely be better pleased with honest doubt and questioning rather than shutting down our minds in blind adherence to any dogma.Indeed, I would recommend to you the Kevin Smith movie Dogma – though it would be far outside of the range of things likely considered acceptable in a fundamentalist faith. Despite some of the language and such though, Smith is a serious Christian. The movie works past dope and poo jokes to make a point about how even a very good idea can become a terribly destructive dogma.Hang in there. You’re strong, and you’ve still got your compass set on the straight and true. You’ll be alright.

  • Becky

    So sorry to hear of your traumatic experience. Please don’t paint all “fundamentalists” like the group you experienced. I grew up in “fundamental Baptist” churches and didn’t know anyone who lived like you have described. There has always been a radical side to the home school movement. I think it goes with the territory.My advice would be to not throw out the baby with the bathwater! You’ll have to decide what you really do believe in eventually. To not believe in anything, is, after all, a belief system!I’ve never read the magazines you’ve quoted, or attended a conference you’ve mentioned. I’ve heard of them, though. We will pray for you as your journey to truth. Remember that not all “fundamentalists” are as weird as your group was. Many would love you as you are, warts and all–even if you yelled at your kids once in a while!I’ll bookmark this blog and come back and read from time to time. I found it as a result of the FFF http://www.fundamentalforums.com/Where I went to college (A Christian one), we were taught “Let your moderation be known until all men”. It sounds like the opposite of this group’s motto!Sigh. It is too bad that too often the “weird” is the “norm” among us Christians.

  • Anonymous

    Wow– I am very moved by the honesty in this post. You are an incredibly brave woman to have been able to face every thing with such clairty. Hats off to you and best wishes for your future happiness and that of your children!– Laurie

  • Jadehawk

    This letter is such a great feat of bravery! I grew up in a mildly Catholic home so I’ve never known this kind of brainwashing, and therefore cannot imagine how hard it must be to realize everything you believed and lived for so long is totally wrong… you’re a very strong, brave woman! And I wish you best of luck in your future. It still won’t be easy all on your own, but freedom is worth it, for you and for your children!

  • Jadehawk

    you’re a strong and brave woman, for extricating yourself out of such a brainwashed, suppressive cult! I wish you all the strength to be yourself oand go your own path. It won’t necessarily be easy, (having to always think for yourself does get exhausting and headache-inducing sometimes!) but at least it will be YOUR life. I wish you all the strength not to fall back and give up on your newfound freedom from religion. it is worth it!

  • Paul Wright

    I’m an ex-Christian (I’d now describe myself as an atheist), though my story is nothing like as amazing as yours. Kudos on waking up and getting out.As others have said, there are forms of Christianity which aren’t as crazy as the kind you came out of. I’d still say they weren’t true, which is what mattered to me as an evangelical and what matters now.Have you connected with other ex-Christians on the net? There’s a lot of support out there: de-conversion.com is one place where people share their stories.All the best to you both,Paul

  • Cindy

    Vyckie,I did not see a way to contact you here and I would like to ask permission to put this entire post on my own blog. There are a few excerpts I could use, but I don’t want to loose any of the impact of the whole piece in the process. Could you contact me?http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2007/02/contact-cindy-at-under-much-grace.htmlCindy K

  • Anonymous

    Hello from another Salon visitor.Congratulations on stepping out into the sunlight of free thought, and thanks for sharing such a fascinating story. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your correspondence with your uncle.

  • Kristine

    Thank you for your story. It makes me want to cry. I commend you for your courage and honesty. Hopefully others can find their way, too, inspired by you.Whenever I’m troubled I reconnect with nature when I can. There is something about nature that is nothing like the dog-eat-dog little “ecosystem” that we gossipy humans create for ourselves. The wilderness and its animals don’t care what you look like, if you’re over- or underweight, what your IQ/SAT score is, all the little things I do that make me feel like Inspector Cluseau. I love music as well, and literature. I hope that you can now take some time for yourself and connect with things that you enjoy.As I always say to people, I don’t tell anyone to follow my path (atheist) – follow your own, discover your own questions, and strive to become yourself. Everybody else is already trying to be everybody else (in various forms) – you are the only one who can give yourself and your talents to the world. Best wishes to you.

  • chuck

    Self exaltation is self condemnation. You will learn this, if not now, later.

  • Jessu

    I know I’m late to the comment party here, but here’s my two yen:Pulling out of an organization like that requires a supreme effort of will and a great deal of psychological grit to pull off. You’re losing your old friends, beliefs, and identity in general. I think there is a tendency to read this kind of story as a “triumph for reason,” which is fine- but I think that the emotional implications are even heavier than the rational ones, and I applaud you for having the strength to take that step.

  • Efrique

    Thank you so much for sharing that.I don’t think you sound like Karl Marx, nor like an angry feminist bitch (yes, you sound like someone who wants a fair deal – and if that’s feminism then maybe it applies – but what’s wrong with that?) – most certainly not a bitch.The truth is, not all men are cut out for leadership in the home or church.Indeed not. I try hard to be a good father to my children, but I am very glad that their mother is there to tell me in very clear terms when she thinks I’m wrong. I would not be a better person (and certainly not a better parent) if she was not so forthcoming. I am very far from perfect, and so is she. We’re both more effective parents with the full partnership of the other. None of us are above criticism, and no man – no person – should be highly revered – and certainly not just for being male (what a horrible thing!). We have two wonderful, kind, loving children, brimming over with personality and creativity, but it takes the combined effort of both of us to deal with everything that comes with trying to raise them. I have no idea how you even begin to manage with a large family, even in the best of circumstances (and it sounds like yours were far from best).Thank you. You have my congratulations on taking a stand. It must have been a very difficult thing to do. All the best.

  • Leigh Williams

    Oh, my dear, what a brave woman you are! I came here from a link from Laurie on the Pharyngula blog, but I will check out the Salon article next.I myself am a liberal Christian, but my oldest daughter has been attracted to the Quiverfull heresy, so I try to keep tabs on it.I am sickened by the way women-hating men have twisted Jesus’s message. One of the things that is clear about His ministry is that He deeply valued women as people. Not only in the story of Mary and Martha, but in all His interactions with women, He demonstrated the egalitarian values we now call feminism. His apostles Junia and Mary of Magdala and all His female followers, who travelled with Him around Judea, were as important to spreading His message as any of his male disciples. Remember that He appeared to the WOMEN first after the crucifixion. Remember also that WOMEN were the heads of many of the churches Paul planted, and Paul wrote to them with respect and high regard. (The anti-feminist messages found in some of the putative Pauline epistles are later interpolations, according to many scholars, and in my study of the New Testament I have come to fully agree with them.)So call yourself a feminist proudly and loudly. In so doing, your are fully embracing the Christ’s own values. Let me recommend the valuable study called “Women in the Heart of God” (http://www.christian-thinktank.com/femalex.html). I think you will find it very enlightening.Let me also point out that the Quiverfull heretics have twisted and misinterpreted the meaning of Proverbs 31. In fact, they’ve ignored the plain sense of the poem. There are 7 verses in this poem that celebrate the Virtuous Woman as the chatelaine of a household, a homemaker. There are also 7 verses that celebrate her as a BUSINESSWOMAN. Don’t tell me that someone out buying real estate on her own and running a profitable business in textiles is what we’d call today a housewife, carefully protected by her husband from “the world”! That’s just absurd! The Proverbs 31 woman is fully engaged as an autonomous individual both inside and outside her home.I am infuriated by the patriarchy’s appropriation of this poem, which above all others in the Bible celebrates the full lives and value of women, for their deceitful and dominionist political agenda.All this to say, I wish you all the best in your new spiritual journey. But if your heart turns back to the faith, please know that in Christ there is a place for the complete woman, valued by Him for her mind, body, and soul, in complete spiritual freedom and equal to all other human beings.Thank you for your testimony, which must have been excruciating to live and to write. Embrace the spiritual gift of Prophecy, and continue to speak Truth to the power of the Quiverfull heresy. You’ll be in my prayers.”Her children rise up and call her blessed . . . Many women have done noble things, but you surpass them all.”

  • Anonymous

    I just wanted to say, reading this, that you are a very brave person. I can’t believe the amount of anguish you’ve been through, and I am so glad you can find a way out of it, and maybe find some happiness for yourself.I cannot believe that women read the bible and not understand, as you do now, how it was written by men, not divine or otherwise, just men with a vested interest in keeping everybody in their ‘place’. Leigh Williams, above…just read Vyckie’s account of her life..and realise as she does that biblical interpretation does NOT favour women in any way…in all cases in the bible women are below animals in the eyes of so called god.Don’t equivocate, wake up!Once again Vyckie, you are incredibly brave and I wish you all the happiness you deserve.Welcome to Reason!

  • Leigh Williams

    Well, no, I don’t agree that “in all cases in the bible women are below animals in the eyes of God”. In fact, I can’t see anything like that in the New Testament. And it’s hard to make that argument in the face of Proverbs 31, either.Of course, I am not of the literalist, inerrant crowd either. As a liberal Christian, I use the historical critical method of approaching Biblical study. A good explanation of the problematic passages in the New Testament can be found here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/nfe_bibl.htmAnd I do think the church has been retreating from the radical egalitarianism espoused by Jesus and Paul for at least 1900 of the years since they were on earth. That retreat was fueled by patriarchy and ratified by cultural and intellectual cowards. Shame on the church, then . . . but freedom from patriarchy (and many other social ills) was Jesus’s message. We shouldn’t let the distortion and outright mangling of that message stand unchallenged. We Christians need to do all we can to stamp it out. It’s a heresy.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful post. I was raised in a lenient Catholic household, and the other Catholic children I saw were truly brainwashed. Even at a very young age I realized that the Bible isn’t as easily applicable to current daily lives as it was 2000 years ago. Welcome to the new coming – one of tolerance, understanding, and change.Welcome.

  • Anonymous

    Your strength brings teras to my eyes. Thank you for telling your story… even for those of us who can’t even begin to understand what you’ve gone through, just the fact that you made a change and stood up for yourself is inspiring beyond words.

  • Bob King

    I came by the Salon.com article and read this – sadly – with recognition from my involvement with the various abuse survival communities.I call myself a diest or thiest these days, too many things have happened to convince me that there’s an absence of God. But that faith and experience tells me something that doesn’t seem commonly known in religions:”Never let your morality get in the way of doing the right thing.”Courage, healing and as is said in the survivor community – “Hugs, if acceptable.”

  • Anonymous

    I am one of those Quiverfull kids– the second oldest of 7 and at 22, I’m still reeling from the impacts of this belief system. While I have always been different and had the courage to protest and Get Out, I feel really sad when I think about my older sister who is 25, married with two kids, and ready to Fight the Fight of being a suppressed, stay-at-home wife and mother. I admire you. I feel quite lucky to have escaped now when I’m young, and to have the chance to build relationships and a family in an egalitarian manner. cheers to you!

  • Kelly

    I found this blog like many others, through Salon (and Skepchick). I wanted to say that I admire you greatly. I have never had to experience the shattering of my world view- I’m sure that had to be a terrifying time in your life. I’m in awe at how you have handled it, despite my lack of religious belief, I’m not sure how I would do in such circumstances, if every rule by which I lived my life turned out to be flawed. It took a great deal of courage on your part, I think.You and your children are lovely, hang in there, and thank you so much for sharing your story. -K

  • Richard

    Awesome post, and congrats on getting out. I just de-converted to agnosticism (from being raised Assembly of God), but fortunately, I didn’t really experience anything like this Quiverfull movement during my life. One thing that has occurred to me during my doubts and such, though, is, “I there really is a God, then he’s kind of a dick.” I mean, there’s some cool stuff that happens in the bible, but take, for example, Abraham being asked to *murder* his son. Christians tell this story to their children, for goodness sake, to demonstrate that you should be obedient to God – but nobody ever mentions that if some guy in the present day made preparations to kill his child on the supposed word of God, we’d have him in jail. But in a bible story, it’s totally reasonable for God to ask a man to kill his child – and nothing at all is suggested that perhaps a deity that would ask this is perhaps not worth serving.

  • Hopewell

    No judgment here–very brave post. I just found your blog.You might relate well to my post on the Christian Mother’s Version of the Perfect Madness http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/2007/10/christian-mothers-version-of-perfect.html

  • keori

    Vyckie,Brava to you for taking this step. It must have been very terrifying at times. I’m proud of you. It’s always hard to leave a cult-like environment after decades of indoctrination. Not only does one have to adjust her entire way of living and thinking internally, she must deal with the inevitable rejection and shaming from those who claimed to love her. If she has children, the difficulty is magnified. Well done.No need to be dissing on feminists, hun – we’re the ones who have been saying for centuries that men have no right to treat us the way your husband treated you. Feminism is merely the strange, ridiculous, radical notion that women are people with thoughts, feelings, needs, and rights equal to those of men. And if we’re angry – AND WE ARE – it’s because for thousands of years men have set us up as a serving class, as property, as LESS THAN THEY ARE, as you have experienced. Welcome to our ranks. Good to have you! If your daughters would like an online forum where they can learn about feminist issues in the context of teen years, I recommend allgirlarmy.org. Check it out and see what you think.I wish you and your kids all the best as you heal and rebuild.

  • Anonymous

    Bravo on coming out of the cult. Best wishes and good luck from a happy religion free and child free couple in Seattle.

  • Anonymous

    I got a taste of this movement myself, never using birth control and homeschooling. However, when I had my third I had such awful post-partum we decided this was not for us. Thankfully, many evangelical Christians have been deeply kind and supportive of our decision and have only helped our own Christian faith strengthen. I am so sorry you have not found the same. Suzie

  • Anonymous

    The quiverfull movement is NOT Biblical truth, and although there may be some Christian’s involved in it, I’m quite sure it is NOT of God either. Remember Satan can appear as an angel of light, and even well meaning people can be deceived. Its sad, so very sad what happened to y’all. Thank goodness you are free of it, praying for your children’s escape as well.

  • grandmayume

    You know what? When I de-converted from the S. Baptist church, I felt duped and bitter, too. I think it is natural and okay. No one likes to feel that they’ve been fooled and wasted their time. I found you from the salon article and I am cheering you on! It feels great to look back on all of the stifling things I once believed and realize I don’t have to believe it anymore- I’m free! I feel so much healthier and better about myself. I feel less guilty about every little thing and less boxed in. Like me, you followed all the rules and it just didn’t work like they said it would. I’m glad you have gotten out and I hope you and your kids have a fun and fulfilling life together- on your own terms!

  • Anonymous

    Others have already said it so well1) How brave..2) Not all christians think like this…but also:3) We do not have to strive. Receiving Gods forgiveness is to receive Jesus’ righteousness, which replaces ours. This is grace, and we can rest in it.4) Your children are special to God and he loves them. He speaks so strongly against ‘any who cause one of these little ones of mine to stumble’. ‘He carries the lambs in his arms (them) and will gently lead those who are with young (you)’. He has given them a special gift in you to be their mother.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Thanks for being brave enough to write this! I also came out of a fundamentalist background. My parents removed us while I was in my late teens and it screwed me up royally for many years. I am only now starting to really grasp what a relationship with God should look like, and how FREE it really can be. I am married to a man who LOVES me, who doesn’t want to have more kids because the last one had me on death’s doorstep. He loves kids, but wants me around too. So i can be a Missionary to my two kids, so I can teach them TRUTH, LOVE and how to live a FREE life. I know your kids are applauding you, I know as they get older they will look back and be ever grateful for a Mom who loved them enough to do the hard thing. You are a strong, wise, beautiful woman, and I am so glad you “got out” :)

  • Anonymous

    Don’t be afraid to be an atheist. All religions are, at their basis, made up by people. Some just have longer traditions than others. Choose a religion based on how it feeds you, not how you feed it. (That will come in time–you will give back with enthusiasm and love, and will receive more than you put in.) Religion should not make you weaker, or sad, or allow you to be abused. Why would you choose that?If you do not believe in God, you don’t. And you don’t need to. Hang out with other people who don’t. Or who aren’t sure. We are out there, all around you.

  • Hypatia

    This “angry feminist b*tch” is filled with admiration for what you are doing.As a side note, feminism isn’t about anger, hating men, or even hating the patriarchy. It’s about loving people as a whole– enough to recognize that the adversarial way in which men and women relate to one another is deeply flawed and is based on underlying social problems that need to be acknowledged before they can be fixed. There is anger, as there is in all things, but there is more joy.

  • Vyckie

    Thanks so much, Hypatia. I have been thinking about my “angry feminist bitch” comment ~ and that’s another thing I want to write about. Stick with us ~ I’ll get it done eventually ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure this comment has been already been posted, but one more can’t hurt. Please stop apologizing for sounding “bitter and angry” or like “a feminist bitch.” First, you have every right to be bitter and angry. You were used. You admirably found the strength to defy your abusers and you don’t owe anyone an apology for being pissed about it. Secondly, you are a feminist. That’s a good thing. It’s hard to embrace a title the patriarchs have worked so hard (and successfully) to vilify, I know, but please try. You know why they’ve crusaded to make it an ugly philosophy – it’s a threat to them. You empowered yourself and you deserve to be proud, not apologetic. I’m sure most of the anger will subside as it’s replaced with a deeper understanding and acceptance of your individuality. In the meantime, accept it while you get to know yourself. Congratulations. You are an incredibly strong person who deserves to experience the world on your terms. Embrace it and enjoy every minute of it.

  • Luci

    You are SO BRAVE!!! As a younger woman who was, for a time, quite taken with the public face of Quiverfull – thank you for sharing your story. Your children are SO LUCKY to have such a loving mother. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • Stew

    Best wishes to you Vyckie, and to Laura.

  • mom2nji

    Vyckie, I used to be a member of Above Rubies, I left the group because I just couldn’t go for the all or nothing approach to christianity. I was blasted for not being QF, not homeschooling, going back to school, ect. I am still a christian, but have fallen away from the CULT thinking of that group. And believe in SOME of the helpmeet/proverbs 31 wife ideals, but it isnt all or nothing. I dont need to be a slave, to serve the Lord. I just found your blog and am interested to see the rest of your blog.

  • Vyckie

    Welcome, mom2nji ~ good to have a fellow “ex~Above Rubies” mom here. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the stories you’ll find on this blog.

  • Pompotous Herdman

    Holy crap!I ended up here because vjack http://www.atheistrev.com posted about the importance of keeping up on what Xians are doing, and follwed a link from http://www.religiousrightwatch.com/I normally deal with Xian stupidity on the scientific and political front, which is bad enough, but the stories on this blog almost made me physically ill — in this day and age, organized efforts to make women and children behave as property?Your stories are important, for they show why real Americans (who know that God is not mentioned once in the founding document of our nation, the Constitution) need to zealously protect the separation of church and state. Given the insularity of the movement, I think that few of my fellow atheists know (or realize) exactly how far originally normal people can sink, as is described here, into the acceptance of horror and immorality as normality and ethical behavior. Thank you for telling your stories.

  • zarabeth

    Congratulations on your courage! I am 62 now and had a brief (six months) involvement with fundamentalism in 1977 when I lived in Omaha. I had moved there from Boston, a bastion of liberality where I had a responsible job and a life of my own choosing. I left Boston after losing my parents and chose Omaha because I had friends there.I was befriended by some fundamentalists and tried to fit in, but never could. They called me an intellectual and made it sound like a curse; they wanted me to stop reading anything but the Bible (I love fantasy and science fiction, which are anathema to them). Since I was single and thus had no male to whom to submit, the church elders took responsibility for me and would call me if I missed a week to make sure that I wasn’t backsliding. I tremble to think what my life would have been like if I had married one of these people. I had friends who had children that were being raised strictly and in cultural isolation; I often wonder how damaged they were in later life. I remember gays who had been “cured” of homosexuality and had married; I also often wonder how much pain those relationships caused. I left the church after 6 months after an incident which blasted me with the hypocrisy of the so-called “love of Christ” that they preached. It was all hollow. The elders kept calling until I eventually moved away from Omaha, but I never went back.I was born again during this experience and still consider myself a strong Christian. However, I no longer attend church, as I have never found one in which I (as a single woman, albeit with a long-term man in my life who is only vaguely Christian) can feel comfortable. I was raised a Lutheran and still consider myself one, but churches just turn me off.Stay true to yourself and stay on your journey to find out who you really are. Be strong, and don’t be afraid to believe in Jesus if that is where your journey leads. His Word is perverted by many, but He is really all about Love. That’s the only thing that counts in life.

  • Anonymous

    What a story… amazing. Saw your link attached to a post on an article at Alternet.org interviewing Kathryn Joyce about Quiverfull. I had a Bob Jones-style fundamentalist upbringing, and I eventually ended up leaving Christianity altogether as a result (or consequence, LOL) of my involvement in a “Bible-based cult.” Claiming ownership of my own heart and soul has been a difficult road, but I would not trade it for anything. May peace, happiness and wisdom be yours as you continue moving forward.P.S. some of my best friends are “Angry Feminist Bitches.” :-} I wouldn’t trade *them* for anything, either.

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in a cult in an abusive household. What I am finding amazing is that there are people still in the cult that live fairly normal lives, normal being what is considered normal by our present culture in the US. I never knew that there were “normal” families within our “religion”. I just thought that everyone kowtowed to the leaders like my parents expected us to do.My point is simply this. Your experiences with your very abusive husband may color your outlook. Others who can balance similar beliefs within a more normal family structure would have a totally different outlook. Even though our church would be considered more of a fundamental church, it is very highly stressed that the husband’s role is to love his wife as his own flesh. Women are NOT 2nd class citizens and we are all equal in God’s eyes.We are homeschooling, children not segregated by age, and several other things are similar but I think it is unfair to paint all of us with the same brush. Your abusive husband seems to be a large part of the problem. If the husband was not abusive it would change the whole perception of someone who held beliefs similar to what you once believed…I was raised in a cult (not the homeschool, quiverfull movement) so I know of what I speak….

  • adventuresinmercy

    Anon,I agree, in that I think I would probably be a pretty happy camper in the QF/homeschooling system in many respects, had I had a fully functioning husband. I’m not sure if I would have ever had much of a reason to question the teachings at all, had everything been running smoothly and my marriage relationship been sweet. YET, and it’s a big yet…one of the biggest criticisms of this group/movement is what they do to people and families who don’t fit the system. Vyckie (or was it Laura’s) friends who didn’t want to sell her a Bosch unless her husband had revoked his earlier no-Bosch command are a case in point. Instead of a healthy community that recognizes abuse and helps those who are being abused, the teachings of this community tend to minimize abuse (sometimes even outrightly encouraging it), often denying it altogether. This is probably the biggest indicator that something is terribly wrong with the picture. Though, yes, there are families in it who are happy and thriving—and would be happy and thriving if they weren’t in the QF/homeschooling paradigm—because they are just great families. It’s hard enough for women to recognize and escape abuse as it is, if the studies are accurate, yet when the abuse happens within the confines of the teachings of this kind of group, it’s sort of like, as one professional who works with these women regularly once told me, “the perfect storm.”

  • Arietty

    Sure some QF families are wonderful, happy families, I have known a few myself. But you can’t get away from the abusiveness of the teaching because no matter how functional and happy the family is that happiness hinges on the children embracing the beliefs of their parents. If you are growing up in one of these happy QF families and find yourself:Doubting God’s existance.. orAttracted to your own gender.. or You’re a girl who reads a copy of Scientific America in the dentist’s waiting room and your mind comes ALIVE and you want to become a scientist..Well, you know that if you pursue any of these things you will break your happy QF family. Your parents will see themselves as having failed if you pursue these ideas or feelings. This is not normal, this is not a healthy way for any family to be. Healthy families know that their children are diverse and that their children may well make choices quite different than the parents. Healthy families do not view choices outside of the parents choices as rebellion.I realize this sounds harsh but I cannot see happy QF families as healthy because that happiness is so conditional.

  • Anonymous

    I understand where you are coming from, I really do. I still think it goes back to family dynamics more that QF. Maybe QF tends to draw those that tend to be abusive, there could be a case made for that, but if the family is healthy, the way the family responds to the child(ren) that don’t agree will be very telling.Like I posted above, we are homeschooling,lean towards QF, etc, etc. Our pastor teaches we don’t want out kids to believe what we believe just because that is what we believe. We want our kids to believe because they have come to an understanding of their own accord.We expose them to the pros and cons, the “other” sides views and arguements. Sure, we want our kids to believe what we believe, but if it isn’t from their own conviction, what point is it? It surely isn’t of God, He leads us through our convictions and if we aren’t allowing them to develop their own convictions it is counterintuitive.

  • Jadehawk

    Anon, I know it’s easier to blame the individuals rather than the system, but any system that encourages flawed individuals while repressing others is flawed themselves. by your logic, dictators aren’t bad, it’s just that some dictators are. sounds silly, doesn’t it?any system, be it religious, political, business, or community, must be built in such a way as to encourage the good things in people, and discourage the bad. any system that does the opposite is must be fixed or discarded, regardless of how well it works if in the hands of good people.

  • Arietty

    Jadehawk:”any system, be it religious, political, business, or community, must be built in such a way as to encourage the good things in people, and discourage the bad.”The problem with fundamentalism is the things labeled “bad” are soooooo vast. I cannot have relatives I care about to my house because one of my teenagers might be listening to music that they would label bad. One of my kids might be lying on the couch reading Harry Potter. One of my adult children might say “shit” if they drop a can on their foot in the kitchen. It goes on and on and on.. heck all they have to do is peruse my bookcases to find plenty of bad. It would just be incredibly stressful to put my family under that level of judgment, not to mention the grilling my husband would receive later on about about why he allowed such things in the home (because of course if there is anything bad he is accountable based on his gender, LOL).

  • Jadehawk

    lol, i see i should have defined the word “bad”, or used something a bit more specific.I was talking from a humanistic, progressive point-of-view, meaning that everything that fosters inequality and suppression or does mental or physical harm is “bad”.I suppose we could start a whole new argument about the definition of and meaning of “good” and “bad”. but for the moment I guess I’ll just correct my statement and say:“any system, be it religious, political, business, or community, must be built in such a way as to encourage the freedom and integrity of people, and discourage suppression and inequality.”

  • Anonymous

    That is why we expose our kids to “both sides” and explain why we believe what we believe but let them make their own decisions. Of course when they are 6yo we do protect them from certain “bad” things but our 15yo is expected to make certain decisions on her own. Like whether or not to read Harry Potter (she does), watch movies (she does), and tons of other things along similar lines. But she fiercely protects her younger siblings from some of the very things she chooses to do. At least until they are old enough to start making some of the same decisions. I don’t agree with some of her decision, I have told her so. I have also told her her job isn’t to make me happy. We can disagree but both still be doing what is right for us.

  • jesnicole

    NOT EVEN SURE IF YOU READ ALL THESE COMMENTS, BUT FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH, HERE’S MY TWO CENTS: THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE IN FOLLOWING A CAUSE AND FOLLOWING THE LIVING CHRIST. BIG DIFFERENCE FROM FOLLOWING AN IDEA, AND FOLLOWING THE ONE WHO CREATED ALL PEOPLE AND ALL THINGS. FROM WHAT I GATHER FROM READING YOUR POST, YOU’RE HURT, ANGRY, FEEL BETRAYED, FEEL DECEIVED……ARE THOSE THINGS YOU’RE FEELING? I’D LOVE TO EMAIL WITH YOU, IF YOU WANT. I COULDN’T FIND A LINK TO EMAIL YOU ON YOUR SITE. HERE’S MINE: elocinsej@yahoo.com I’VE WRITTEN A TON ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS YOU’RE FEELING, AS THE PAST FIFTEEN MONTHS OF MY LIFE I’VE BEEN FEELING SOME OF THE SAME THINGS FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. YOU’RE MORE THAN WELCOME TO STOP BY AND READ, IF YOU’RE INTERESTED. ALSO, THIS BLOG IS VERY ENCOURAGING, AND I THINK IT MIGHT BE SOMETHING YOU’D LIKE READING: http://agenuinefaith.blogspot.com

  • jesnicole

    P.S. I WONDER IF “APOSTASY” IS THE RIGHT WORD FOR WHAT YOU’RE DOING….SOUNDS MORE LIKE YOU’RE WALKING AWAY FROM A CERTAIN GROUP OF PEOPLE’S WAY OF THINKING…….JUST WANTED TO ADD THAT ON. CHRIST NEVER CALLED US TO LIVE AS DOORMATS, BUT IN FREEDOM…..AND WHEN IT COMES TO HOW A WIFE LOVES HER HUSBAND, HE SHOULD BE WORTHY OF THAT LOVE!! EPHESIANS TELLS US HE IS TO LOVE HIS WIFE AS CHRIST DOES THE CHURCH….AND WHAT DID CHRIST DO FOR THE CHURCH??….BOTH LIVED AND DIED FOR HER….HE LITERALLY GAVE HIS EVERY BREATH FOR HER, WHEN A HUSBAND IS DOING THAT FOR HIS WIFE, IT BRINGS A DIFFERENT LIGHT INTO THE SITUATION.

  • Vyckie

    jesnicole ~ I understand how, from reading this post, you would come to the conclusion that I was merely following a “movement” rather than actually having a relationship with the living Christ.Please read “Vyckie’s Story” (found on the right-hand column) ~ the testimony of my conversion and first couple of years as a Christian. The reason that I am sharing that story ~ just as I wrote it when I believed it ~ is because I want to make it clear that I was deeply committed to Jesus Christ as my Savior AND LORD. I was never a half-assed Christian. Getting involved in the QF/patriarchy teachings was a big part of my story, yes ~ BUT my heart was always for knowing God and living for Him. I was a wholly-devoted Believer and lover of my Lord Jesus Christ.

  • LotusGeek

    Vyckie – Good response! I have to say, I was a little worried that you were simply reacting to your (horrible) situation – and that this was the driving factor for your becoming an atheist – rather than it simply be a (admittedly large) factor in your “enlightenment”, and that you are now an atheist because it is *right* for you, rather than it simply being the antithesis of what you were running away from. Does that make sense?I think that the answer is the latter – your life helped “awaken” your reason and rational thought, but you are now “comfortable in your own skin” as an atheist. And that’s a very kewl thing.Take care,–Rock, aka LotusGeekP.S. I am at a boring conference for my business, and so I have a ton of time to post today – that’s why I keep popping up all over the place ;)

  • Jessica

    OH YES, I FULLY BELIEVE YOU WERE FOLLOWING HIM WITH YOUR WHOLE SELF. THE PROBLEM IS, MANY TIMES WE ARE MISLEAD AS TO WHO CHRIST IS…..HECK, LOOK AT ALL THE DENOMINATIONS, CULTS (I.E. THIS “QUIVERFULL” NONSENSE)….WHEN ONE SEARCHES THE BIBLE AND HISTORY FOR THE MAN AND THE LORD JESUS, I BELIEVE THEY WILL FIND THE TRUTH. EMPTY DOCTRINE, EMPTY CAUSES, EMPTY FAITH, AND SHALLOW THINKING WILL GET US NOWHERE. I SURELY NEVER WANTED TO IMPLY THAT YOU WERE BEING “HALF-ASSED”. SORRY IF IT CAME ACROSS THAT WAY. HOWEVER, I BELIEVE IF YOU WERE TO COME FACE TO FACE WITH CHRIST, WITH WHO HE IS…..YOU’D NEVER WANT TO WALK AWAY. THAT’S WHY I SUGGESTED THAT MAYBE YOU’RE STILL SEARCHING AND TO PUT ANY LABEL ON YOURSELF SUCH AS “COMMITTING APOSTASY” OR BECOMING “ATHEIST”…MAYBE IT’S A LITTLE SOON FOR EITHER.?? FROM WHAT I CAN SEE, YOU’RE A LADY WHO WANTS TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH. RIGHT? (KEEP IN MIND, I’M ASKING THESE GENUINELY…..IT’S SOMETIMES EASY TO SEEM THAT ONE IS COMING ACROSS AS BEING HATEFUL ONLINE…BUT I AM DEFINITELY BEING GENUINE IN MY QUESTIONS TO YOU….WITHOUT AN ATTITUDE OF HAUGHTINESS…) IF INDEED, YOU ARE STILL SEARCHING, STILL ASKING, STILL WONDERING….YOU’LL ALWAYS END UP WITH THE HISTORICAL FACT THAT JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED AND RESURRECTED. PEOPLE DON’T COME BACK FROM BEING DEAD. THAT’S THE CLENCH IN THE GEARS OF ATHEISM. I, ON THE OTHER HAND, CAN SURELY SEE YOUR SCARS AND BETRAYAL FROM THE CRAP (WHAT I THINK WAS CRAP, ANYWAY,) THAT WAS BEING HANDED TO YOU ABOUT THE CHURCH. I COMMEND YOU FOR COMING OUT OF THAT ERRONEOUS MINDSET….BUT I ENCOURAGE YOU AT THE SAME TIME TO SEARCH FOR WHAT IS TRUE. WITHOUT THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, WE ARE A HOPELESS PEOPLE. WITHOUT HIS CRUCIFICTION, WE ARE HOPELESS. BUT IN KNOWING THAT, WHICH IS A PROVEN FACT, ONE SIMPLY CAN’T SEE AND WALK AWAY. I’M FINE IF YOU DELETE THIS COMMENT, I REALLY DON’T CARE IF ANYONE READS THIS BUT YOU. I GUESS WHAT I’M WONDERING IS IF YOU’RE WALKING AWAY FROM A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HURT YOU DEEPLY, AND DECEIVED YOU GREATLY…..OR FROM JESUS. THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE, AND I THINK ONLY YOU, NOT ANY OTHER PERSON IN YOUR LIFE, NOR ANYONE ON ANY BLOG, CAN ANSWER THAT HONESTLY. I HAVE NEVER MET YOU, BUT I WILL DEFINITELY BE THINKING ABOUT YOU. I HOPE YOU FIND THE TRUE ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS.

  • Jadehawk

    “WHEN ONE SEARCHES THE BIBLE AND HISTORY FOR THE MAN AND THE LORD JESUS, I BELIEVE THEY WILL FIND THE TRUTH.”please do NOT bring history into this. it’s one thing to believe the bible on faith, but to twist history to your beliefs is not right! there’s no hint of a historical Jesus outside the Christian texts (and for a broader, non-canonical picture on him i’d suggest reading the gospels of Judas, Thomas, and Mary Magdalene), so we’re not even sure he really existed… and there’s no historical evidence at all for anything he’s said to have done. Plus the story of the crucifixion gets a LOT of details about the roman empire of the time wrong. it’s all very suspect. so please don’t say the crucifixion (much less the resurrection) are historical facts.Also, please stop with the CAPSLOCK. yelling is impolite, and it’s hard to read.

  • Anonymous

    Jessica? Mind turning off the caps lock? It’s difficult to follow.thx :)

  • Jadehawk

    anon, I think I’m not making myself very clear. I have absolutely no problem with your own choices of homeschooling etc. because, as individuals, you’re doing it ina very positive way. what i’m complaining about is the partiarchy movement/mindset per se, because it too easily traps women and children in abusive homes. the abuse is of course the sole fault of the abuser, but the community that gives the abuser power, while not giving the victims any means of defending themselves is bad.let me make a (somewhat crass) comparison:back when slavery was still legal, some slave-owners were good people. they treated their slaves very well, sort of as part of their family. they didn’t beat them, didn’t abuse them, fed them well and didn’t work them to death. but those few good individuals can’t make slavery a less abusive thing per-se. the same way, families who live within patriarchal societies and are lucky to have a good father/leader can’t make the system good per-se.this is not to say that you can’t have a family that looks and functions in an old-fashioned way; I’m saying that neither your husband nor your community, nor anyone else for that matter should be able to tell you that you HAVE to live that way (even if you want to), and the Patriarchy movement does exactly that. and just read the posts here to see how hard it is to get out or get help when you’re in a bad, abusive relationship. the system is clearly broken, your happy, well-run family notwithstanding.

  • Jessica

    First; Yes, my “caps lock” is a bad habit. Very sorry. I was honestly not trying to be impolite, though. :) Secondly, there is absolutely no way I can speak about my faith and Christ and NOT mention history. The two go hand in hand, there’s not a thing I can do about that. There’s nothing I’m doing that is “twisting history” to my beliefs at all. Third, there are many, many, many sources outside of the Bible that clearly support the Historical Jesus. And fourth of all, I am writing to the author of this blog. I’m in no way trying to start up an argument with anyone. Thanks for understanding.

  • Jadehawk

    Jessica, thanks for switching out of capslock! don’t worry about having a discussion in the comments. if Vyckie or Laura feel we’ve gone too far, they can simply not publish our posts.I must say once more though, there’s no good non-biblical evidence for Jesus. the one supposedly contemporary text (by Josephus) was a fake from the 3rd century, and all other examples are of Romans talking about what the Christians believe, about 60-70 years AFTER the crucifixion. that’s a lot of time for things to get confused. just look at the modern world, where some people think the Holocaust never happened, that Elvis faked his own death and retired somewhere instead, etc. and this is DESPITE all the photographic and written evidence. back then, 60 years were long enough to make people completely forget what things were really like.like i said. you’re welcome to believe that all the things written about in the bible really happened, but you shouldn’t claim that you believe them because of historical evidence, because that’s just not true, Christian Apologetic claims notwithstanding. it’s ok to say you have faith that the bible tells the truth, since there can’t be evidence that there WASN’T a Jesus. there just isn’t enough to say that there WAS a Jesus, either.

  • Anonymous

    Ummmm, our whole system of time is based on BC Before Christ and AD (can’t remember what the words actually are but it refers to His death. That just may be a little “clue” as to whether or not those outside of Christianity believes in Jesus. Even the Muslims believe in Jesus. They just believe that there were other prophets that followed Him.What are some of the Roman empires details that they got wrong in the story of the crucifixtion?

  • Anonymous

    Jadehawk, I do believe in the Historical and Living Jesus. I guess, when it comes to faith, the burden of proof is on the person. Like I said, it’s a dark and hopeless life if this is all there is to it. If I look around me, at all the death and suffering…..if I don’t believe in Jesus, who He is…then as N.T. Wright puts it, “the tyrant has won”. I just posted elsewhere about my walk, and how I had to re-learn most of what I had been taught. Textual criticism has helped me abundantly. Life is full enough of hardships, I have seen many of them, and am still living through one major one. Without the hope of Easter, then death ultimately wins. -Jesnicole-

  • jemand

    Annonymous, you’re still equating the “idea” of Jesus or the “myth” of Jesus with evidence of the actual person. OF COURSE people thought he existed, and by what we now call year 524 (then was known as 247), someone who believed in him made up a new calendar. Not the first or daresay, the last time that will happen in human history. Plus, it was far from universally accepted and even today there are alternative dating schemes so also I’m not sure about your statement “our” unless it excludes some people from consideration… Islam began at around the era the calendar did, again, that people thought there was a Jesus is not to be confused with whether one actually existed. Secondly, whether one actually existed is not to be confused with whether he was actually god. Plus I’ll take issue with your “system of time” idea, the most you can mean is the yearly calendar, seconds and minutes are based on Babylonian ideas, and scientific time scales are measured in million(s) of years before the present, or billion(s) as the case may be. Anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, there is enough external textual evidence that most scholars do not dispute that there was such a person as Jesus. I am not sure why disputing that he even existed is so important. Still, this is not an apologetics discussion board, so I’m not sure it’s appropriate to go into details of historical textual support. KR Wordgazer

  • Jadehawk

    no, AD stands for Anno Domini (“year of the lord”). It was instituted in the 6th century and is used exclusively in the Georgian and Julian calendars. it is also inaccurate, since Jesus would have been born either in 6/7 AD (according to Luke), or before 4 BC (according to Matthew)Due to the imperial/colonizing history of Europe, the Georgian calendar is used as an international standard, however it is not how the whole world counts time:The official calendar in Israel is the Hebrew calendar (counted from “the beginning of the world”, it’s now the year 5769)The Islamic calendar is used in Muslim countries, is counted from the first year of the Hijira, and it’s now the year 1431 AH)Japan has officially adopted the Georgian calendar in 1973, but before that it used a calendar that started in 660 BC (when Japan was supposedly founded), and even today they use what is called the Japanese Era calendar, which counts the years of the currently ruling Emperorand so on…as for the historical mistakes in the bible: crucifixion was a punishment reserved for slaves, soldiers, traitors and those who incite rebellion. Jesus was none of the above (“render unto caesar”, and all that). neither were the thieves, for that matter. even the bible says so. but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Jesus’actions were considered rebellious/treasonous enough to get him crucified. In that case, Pilate had NO authority whatsoever to release him (or Barabbas, for that matter, who was also accused of rioting). it would be political suicide (at best) to release men who were convicted of treason. this is a situation of “having your cake, and eating it, too”. Jesus can’t both be executed for treason AND have the option of release. at least one of these parts of the story must be incorrect.lastly, it is interesting that the gospels, written after the horrific war in the 60′s, describe crucifixion, of all forms of execution, as the way Jesus died; it is interesting, because in that war, many Jews died on the cross for rebellion and treason. it’s an anachronism, adapted from post-war experience into a pre-war narrative.also, since you’ve mentioned what Muslim’s believe about Jesus… did you know that the Koran denies the historicity of the crucifixion? And that’s despite the fact that by the time the Koran was written, the NT traditions have been well established for a couple hundred years. This isn’t nearly as clear-cut as you’re making it sound.like I said: believe in the bible if you will, but don’t claim Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are historical facts. they’re not.

  • Jadehawk

    Wordgazer, “most scholars” do no such thing, that’s simply not true Most CHRISTIAN scholars do, but that’s a different animal.I’ve already explained this: all texual references to Jesus are either based on the Christian post-war tradition (directly or indirectly), or are downright fakes. The reason it’s “important” is because claiming that Jesus is historically proven is at best special pleading, at worst a lie. and in any case, it’s intellectually dishonest.

  • Anonymous

    Jadehawk, all I am going to say in response to that is to invite the readers of this blog to do their own research and determine for themselves if the non-historicity of Jesus is really so firmly established as you claim. I think they will at least determine that it is certainly not “intellectually dishonest” to read the internal and external sources and give them the same weight we would give to the same types of evidences of the historicity of any other figure of the time. KR Wordgazer

  • Jadehawk

    this is exaclty the special pleading i’m talking about.In court, the rules are “innocent until proven guilty”. this means that guilt must be proven, innocence is otherwise the default.In historical cycles, the rules are “mythical until proven true”. skepticism is the default position on all claims, including Jesus’ historicity until and unless sufficient evidence can be had to firmly establish his historicity. but Christians want us to argue backwards, i.e. to assume his existence as the default, and then try to disprove it. historical research doesn’t work that way. when you look at King Arthur, Robin Hood, Lao Tzu and other characters, none of them have their “non-historicity” proven to be regarded as mythical. to the contrary, unless undeniable evidence is found that identifies a real, historical person (established by multiple contemporary eyewitness accounts and historical documents), on which the stories are based, they’re considered mythical characters. and for one or two of those, there’s more evidence than for Jesus.what you personally believe is your own matter. you’re welcome to believe that Jesus was real, or that Robin Hood really roamed the English countryside once, you can say that what we know about them convinced you, personally, but you may not claim that the existence of either one is historical fact. that’s dishonest

  • aimai

    Uh, no, KR Wordgazer, that isn’t correct. I think Jadehawk’s point, with which I concur, is that if you *do* read the external sources (what ordinary archaeologists, scientists, and regular people would call “the sources”) and “give them the same weight we would give to the same types of evidences of the historicity of any other figure of the time” an honest person, not involved in a religious passion play of their own, would admit that there is almost *no* real historical evidence for Jesus qua messiah. As for the “internal” sources, by which I take it you mean religious documents, again I think there are no conteporaneous accounts *at all* of the historical figure Jesus. All the accounts, including the gospels, were written substantially after the fact. Again, I’d refer you to Bart Ehrmann’s work on exactly how scribal transmission differs from modern notions of historicity and authenticity. In particular it was in reading his work that I discovered that my own personal favorite Jesus story, the “woman taken in adultery” was a well known late addition to the canon. It simply was interpolated as an “for example” late mythic addition–and they *know* this by studying the documents.aimai

  • Jadehawk

    I should also add that there’s a difference between “the available evidence convinced me that x is true” and “the available evidence establishes x as a fact”.Everybody has a right to look at the evidence and be convinced by it (or not). However, it’s a long way from personal conviction to established fact, and conflating those two is very fuzzy thinking at best

  • Anonymous

    I’m not arguing for “Jesus qua Messiah.” I’m arguing for the existence of a person. There is sufficient internal and external sources for the historical existence of the person Jesus of Nazareth; we accept the existence of other historical figures based on similar evidence. I know the woman-in-adultery story was a later addition to the biblical text; this is not breaking news. I find myself asking what relevance that has.And I disagree that “skepticism is the default position” on historical research– that is one school of thought that is disputed by many historians, who believe historical documents should be viewed each on its own merits. In short, there are several schools of thought about what presuppositions we should be making with regards to historical texts, and the presupposition that “if it’s not indisputably provable, we assume it’s false” is only one possible viewpoint; one which many historians find too restrictive to be useful.As for the internal documents, many of the letters of Paul are datable very close to the time of Christ, and there is no dispute (as far as I know) that Paul was a historical figure, who was a contemporary of, and in contact with, the original disciples. Also, the synoptic gospels overlap in ways that make it clear there was an earlier source of the Jesus narratives, usually called “Q.”But look, this thread is supposed to be about whether God is patriarchal or not. I do not want to get into some big debate about the historicity of Jesus; I have said that several times. I merely want to point out that it is certainly not an established historical statement, that there never was such a person as Jesus of Nazareth!That said, I’m done talking about this. People can do the research for themselves. I don’t know why you are so set on what seems to me to be shouting me down, on a position which is hardly a threat to non-religious viewpoints. KR Wordgazer

  • Anonymous

    However, it’s a long way from personal conviction to established fact, and conflating those two is very fuzzy thinking at bestWhat on earth did I say to make you think I was conflating the two? It seems to me like you are arguing the non-existence of a person named Jesus of Nazareth as if that were established fact, which it certainly is not. I don’t understand why you two are jumping all over me just for saying most historians think there probably was such a person. KR Wordgazer

  • aimai

    KR Wordgazer,Don’t be angry. Threads take on a life of their own. I think you are taking as directed at *you* something that was really said in response to Jsnicole upthread. She asserted that Jesus was both an historical fact and that that fact was “proved” by her (erroneous) conviction that western methods of dating the annual calendar reflected some kind of true historical knowledge of Jesus’s existence as well as a generally accepted conviction of his divinity. Jadehawk explained very clearly and patiently that this kind of thinking is historically inaccurate. You joined in to explain that the historicity of Jesus was, at least, established and then got caught up in a larger discussion which really looks like this: if Jesus was an historical figure (a rabbi within a very particular jewish tradition, for example) what does that have to do with modern christian interpretations of texts about what he might have said to a completely different audience (an all jewish audience, for example) 2000 years ago?I, personally, don’t care one way or another whether there was or was not a historical Jesus. But I do care that people who are still believers in a Jesus the Messiah insist that Vyckie and Laura were mistaken for 25 years because *their* Jesus wasn’t the same one that has made lots of other people happy for 2000 years, or some people happy in the last five years. I think that is where the whole question came up. Vyckie and Laura and the Quiverful people are following an absolutely canonical Jesus and Church based on absolutely standard readings of the texts. It isn’t always nice, but its the case. If that wasn’t making them happy its not merely because they “chose the wrong jesus” and “someone else chose the right one.” It might be because they chose a jesus when no jesus would have been better. And that is where Vyckie, certainly, seems to be coming out on the thread up above called “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”aimai

  • Vyckie

    I’ve been feeling like maybe I should post a comment here to say that it seems the current debate going on here about the historical Jesus is really detracting from the purpose of this blog ~ and especially from this post in particular.I hate to cut if off because I don’t like pushing the “reject” button on the comment moderation page ~ so I’m just going to ask that we try to get back on topic please.Again, I do appreciate the respectful tone of the commenters here ~ even when you disagree, I don’t get the sense that anyone here is resorting to personal attack.Thanks so much.

  • Jadehawk

    once more: non-existence is the default until proven otherwise. this is the basis on which scientific inquiry is founded, not a “school of thought”. any scholar who takes all ancient documents at face value would be laughed at.also, keep in mind this conversation started with the following sentence: “YOU’LL ALWAYS END UP WITH THE HISTORICAL FACT THAT JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED AND RESURRECTED.”, which is incorrectlastly, what we have evidence for amounts to the following: after the war in the 60′s the basic Jesus narrative was established; after the turn of the century, this narrative was also known to non-christians.WE HAVE NO CONTEMPORARY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER FOR THIS MAN TO HAVE EVER EXISTED! Jesus the historical figure is a possibility, not a fact.

  • Jadehawk

    *sigh* of course I hit “post” before reading vyckie’s comment. feel free to not post it, and I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this.

  • Vyckie

    No problem, Jadehawk. Actually, the discussion is interesting to me also ~ especially because I was pretty convinced of the soundness of Christian apologetics. When I began writing to my uncle I figured that whatever I needed to defend my faith, I either already knew or else could look it up fairly easily. It wasn’t long before the topic of the Resurrection of Christ came up ~ and my uncle told me that if he had any evidence that it actually happened, he’d become a Christian. I thought he was just setting me up ~ it couldn’t be so simple as that. Well, it turned out that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did ~ but that’s for later on in my story ~ which I really must get to writing, huh? LOL

  • Anonymous

    If we have a comment about that, where do we post it?I don’t mind if you move this, but do you have proof that George Washington was the president of the US?I am sure you can figure out where I am going…

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate your stopping this debate in this thread, Vyckie. I hope you don’t mind if I add just one rebuttal statement: history is not science, and “scientific inquiry” is different from historical inquiry– the kind of proofs used in science are different from those used in history, and history as a discipline simply cannot establish facts to the same level of certainty that the physical sciences can. Also, Jadehawk, to simply repeat your position about what the historical “default” position is, with more emphasis, is not the way to convince me of its truth– I’d rather go with what historians actually say about their own field of expertise, which I have studied.Sorry, Vyckie. To get back on topic, I can see that you are a very intelligent, inquiring person (you write very well, too!) and I’m certain that, like me, you will continue to explore the larger questions in life. I admit I don’t “like” the idea of you deciding to leave Christianity– but what I like or don’t like isn’t important, heh, heh. You must and should come to your own conclusions about these things. I’m hoping that as you go further into your story about your uncle’s statement about “evidence” that the Resurrection happened, you’ll let us know what he meant by “evidence” — because as I said above, there are different kinds of evidence for different disciplines, and history is one of those disciplines where facts can never actually be established beyond “rational warrant.” I myself would not have taken your uncle up on his challenge if he wanted more than that. KR Wordgazer

  • Kaderin

    I’m currently bored at university and lurking here. I just discovered this really interesting discussion and hope nobody minds if I jump in.I don’t mind if you move this, but do you have proof that George Washington was the president of the US?We have a narrative of his life that aligns with official documents (birth certificates, contracts signed by him, newspapers mentioning him…), whole books, speeches and correspondence written by him, by his contemporary aquaintances and his enemies. We have pictures and statues, and nothing in his life narrative contradicts what we know of his contemporaries.As Jadehawk has said multiple times – we have no written works of Jesus himself, nor his contemporaries. Everything is written after the fact, most importantly, BY HIS FOLLOWERS. None of his political enemies offer an account, which is a huge indicator that everything written is biased and skewered. Not only that, the accounts contradict what we know of Jesus’ contemporaries (Crucified people did not get their personal tomb, they were thrown into mass graves. Herodes’ order for a census was 6 years before Jesus’ supposed birth. Not to mention that fricking violates the laws of physics! Sorry people, established miracles need to have more substance than hearsay of rumor of supposed witnesses. And so on) and the accounts even contradict each other. And of those contradicting, biased accounts a few were chosen and the rest discarded – 300 years later after his life. Yeah. Not quite the same as the historicity of George Washington.Now I’ll go so far as to say that a person named Jesus probably existed. That many followers and churches that worship him don’t coincidentally all pop up at the same time at the same place. But – and this is a huge but – we can not ascertain what he preached nor what his life was like.

  • Anonymous

    Should we be comparing the availability of historical data available on someone who lived 200 years ago, with the availability of data available on someone who lived 2000 years ago?KR Wordgazer

  • Kaderin

    Wordgazer*shrugs*I didn’t bring up the comparison. In fact, the ridiculousness of comparison between those two to is what I wanted to make clear to anon ;DAnyway, you’re right of course, it’s hard to establish the historicity of someone who lived so long ago. There is a school of thought that says we can’t really know that Socrates existed.BUT – I think in many ways that is another problem for Christianity. You see, Socrates doesn’t need to have really existed, what matters are the thoughts and philosophies attributed to him. They are valid and deserving of evaluation and in no way dependent on his person.Jesus’ – or, more accurately, the Bible’s – teachings depend on wether or not Jesus really existed, wether his sacrifice was real, wether he was really the son of God.And, you know, I think the incarnation of an all-powerfull and all-knowing deity should be capable of producing some lasting evidence. Or perform the kinds of miracles that can be tested later.Besides, isn’t this whole thing so very skewered in favor of Jesus’ contemporaries? Why do they deserve evidence – witnessing the living God – and we don’t? Thomas saw Jesus die on the cross and when he saw the risen Jesus he did not believe it until he touched the stigmate in his hands. That’s demanding more evidence than I do. Yet it was given to Thomas. For unfathomable reasons, not to us.I can value the ideas attributed to Jesus. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is something that I try my best to implement in my life. It doesn’t matter if he really said it. But I cannot believe or implement his doctrine of forgiveness for original sin and call myself intellectually honest at the same time.

  • aimai

    Vyckie,I respect your desire to end the thread but its really, really, interesting to some of us. Can’t you put up an open thread on the side “Historical Jesus/Science of History/Archaeological evidence etc…” and let us duke it out?aimai

  • Vyckie

    Good idea, aimai ~ I’ll do it. Just not right now ~ hopefully this evening when I’m back at the computer.

  • Anonymous

    Aimai,Please check the thread again, that was not my comment about the “date” thing. Thanks. -Jesnicole-

  • aimai

    sorry jesnicole! with all the anonymouses and the people who put their names only at the top or only at the bottom I must have made an error!aimai

  • Vyckie
  • Erasmus

    Vyckie,I’ve read through other parts of your blog, and I want to offer my sympathies, now that I know your story better. I admire your courage and determination, it must have been hell to break free of your former life.Also, I respect your decision to toss out your old religion, but I don’t think the entirety of the Bible needs to be thrown away. At the very least, the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” could be the foundation to a better world (Then again, this concept arose in Confucianism several centuries before Christ). But, I for one am not shocked or disappointed in you, even though I do not know you. Given your circumstances, the best choice seems to be what others would call “apostasy” (It has another name, freedom). I myself have rejected a lot of modern Christianity, it is mostly man-made religious trappings anymore, there is very little Jesus in it. So, I can empathize in some ways, though I cannot begin to imagine what life under dominion is like.In short, keep walking the path you’re on, I am one man who is inspired by your strength.-Erasmus

  • Erasmus

    Vyckie,I’ve read through other parts of your blog, and I want to offer my sympathies, now that I know your story better. I admire your courage and determination, it must have been hell to break free of your former life.Also, I respect your decision to toss out your old religion, but I don’t think the entirety of the Bible needs to be thrown away. At the very least, the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” could be the foundation to a better world (Then again, this concept arose in Confucianism several centuries before Christ). But, I for one am not shocked or disappointed in you, even though I do not know you. Given your circumstances, the best choice seems to be what others would call “apostasy” (It has another name, freedom). I myself have rejected a lot of modern Christianity, it is mostly man-made religious trappings anymore, there is very little Jesus in it. So, I can empathize in some ways, though I cannot begin to imagine what life under dominion is like.In short, keep walking the path you’re on, I am one man who is inspired by your strength.-Erasmus

  • tapati

    Your story could have been my story–except that the ancient patriarchal religion I was following was the American branch of the Indian Gaudiya Vaishnava faith, known here as the Hare Krishna Movement. Our husbands were our masters, surrender to him was surrender to God, and everything else pretty much echoed what you have written. I also realized that the scriptures we were to take so literally were written by men from a particular time and culture and also designed to preserve their power structure. I gravitated to feminism and Goddess worship after doing a lot of reading and studying an anthropology of religion course. I still feel a connection with Someone when I meditate or pray–I just see no need to set up rules and a religion around what is a private communion.Good for you in breaking away and taking charge of your own life and enabling your kids to learn and think for themselves. I see that as our biggest job as parents.

  • tapati

    Your story could have been my story–except that the ancient patriarchal religion I was following was the American branch of the Indian Gaudiya Vaishnava faith, known here as the Hare Krishna Movement. Our husbands were our masters, surrender to him was surrender to God, and everything else pretty much echoed what you have written. I also realized that the scriptures we were to take so literally were written by men from a particular time and culture and also designed to preserve their power structure. I gravitated to feminism and Goddess worship after doing a lot of reading and studying an anthropology of religion course. I still feel a connection with Someone when I meditate or pray–I just see no need to set up rules and a religion around what is a private communion.Good for you in breaking away and taking charge of your own life and enabling your kids to learn and think for themselves. I see that as our biggest job as parents.

  • tapati

    I have been writing about my own experience with an abusive husband in the patriarchal Hare Krishna Movement. His initiated name was Mahasraya. Here is a post that contains links to various parts of my story, which I think you both will find has some similarities with yours. The main difference I will note is that while we weren’t allowed to use birth control (though some secretly did), we weren’t encouraged to have lots of children because we were strongly discouraged from having sex, even in marriage. Celibacy was considered the best standard–no distraction from God by engaging in carnal pleasure. We were allowed sex once a month to have children. Not everyone followed this, but that was the standard. Too many children was a visual example of your uncontrolled lust, LOL.On the bright side, when I left I only had 2 kids to support. I don’t think I could have handled more pregnancies, as sick as I got with each one.http://tapati.livejournal.com/393607.html

  • tapati

    I have been writing about my own experience with an abusive husband in the patriarchal Hare Krishna Movement. His initiated name was Mahasraya. Here is a post that contains links to various parts of my story, which I think you both will find has some similarities with yours. The main difference I will note is that while we weren’t allowed to use birth control (though some secretly did), we weren’t encouraged to have lots of children because we were strongly discouraged from having sex, even in marriage. Celibacy was considered the best standard–no distraction from God by engaging in carnal pleasure. We were allowed sex once a month to have children. Not everyone followed this, but that was the standard. Too many children was a visual example of your uncontrolled lust, LOL.On the bright side, when I left I only had 2 kids to support. I don’t think I could have handled more pregnancies, as sick as I got with each one.http://tapati.livejournal.com/393607.html

  • Vyckie

    The discussion for this post has been moved over to our new NLQ forums: http://nolongerquivering.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=apostasyNo further comments on this post will be accepted here ~ please go to the forums. Thank you ;-)

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  • Karen

    Do you really not know that a different calendar is used by different cultures? Ours is not the only one used in the world.
    That’s a dumb as thinking everyone speaks English.

  • Karen

    You need to actually provide links to make that point. Saying its there is meaningless without documentation.

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  • Gail

    Hi There
    Thanks for your article. I admire your honesty. I agree with a lot of what you say.
    I too have been a victim of the quiverful moveent. I only have one living child, and have had multiple miscarriages.
    I have been told frequently by QF people keep trying. I have had two nervous breakdowns as a result of keep trying for another child.

    I found my refuge in a good egalatarian Church.

  • Karen

    Hi -
    your story moved me. However I’m saddened at the fact that in throwing out the bathwater you chucked out the baby too.

    Yes, the Bible was written in a time of patriarchy and naturally reflects this. And no, we should not use the cultural guidelines of an ancient middle eastern culture for our modern western culture. However, the Bible also undermines patriarchy, in my opinion. It’s both. It’s gray, not black and white.

    I know you’ve probably heard this spiel a dozen times already. I’m horrible at explaining my ideas about this stuff. However, one book that really helped me as a Christian Feminist is Finally Feminist by John Stackhouse. Check it out.

  • http://www.mysticwicks.com Kaylara

    It’s stories like yours that make me incredibly grateful to have found paganism and specifically Wicca as a teenager. (No offense intended.) Although, honestly, by then I’d already had my fill of men who claimed to be the head of the household or God in the house but abused the position and every one who lived there. Wicca only allows for people to stay in any position of power if they continue to exhibit appropriate behavior, especially in reference to their underlings in the coven, and family. But then again, we’re not really expected to be horrendously visible with our religious behaviors to begin with, and have no actual book to point out to show us how to behave, which does make things a bit more flexible. :P Not that we’re above reproach, but it’s much less likely that another Wiccan or pagan will try to influence me to behave in a particular way (and definitely not using shame or the like) unless it is a reason that truly requires it. (Abuse, etc.)

    I’m very sorry to hear about your daughter, and I realize that I found this several years after the fact. I hope that things have improved for both you and your children.

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  • Angel

    Vyckie,
    All I can say is that you are so amazing and brave! It takes strength and courage to break out the brainwashing cult that is Christianity, especially such a conservative sect as Quiverfull. I hope you continue down your path towards enlightenment and freedom for you and your children.

    Sincerely,
    A Born Again Atheist

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  • fiona

    That is some statement. Can’t imagine what you have gone through and I am really awed by your courage to break free. It can be easier to hang on to chains. Really, I feel quite humbled. What can I say, good for you sounds so inadequate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Devendorf/1249385298 Linda Devendorf

    Good for you, Vyckie! It takes tons of courage to get beyond the God As Sky King mythology. I tried to stay within even the much more open Episcopal Church and found that I could not in good conscience utter one word of the Nicene Creed anymore and left. No. I don’t believe in a god/God who will strike us dead or otherwise “get back at us” for not believing in the made-in-man image of god/God/goddess/Goddess. I just don’t believe in any Big Kahuna out there anymore. It doesn’t work, this attempting to warp oneself into some 2,000-year-old (older than that, in fact) role of second-class citizenship and personhood. All best wishes to you!

  • Ravensinger

    Vyckie,

    I hear and understand your pain and the rage it spawns, and though I don’t know you from Eve please know that I respect you immensely for your courage and strength in standing up. It is hard to recognize where faith crosses the line and becomes abuse, even harder to break away from it when that is all one knows.

    I was raised Episcopalian, even so far as to be a church acolyte, but that all changed when I asked at Easter one year as a child what the meaning of rabbits and eggs were to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was told by the pastor that it was because babies like things that are cute and fluffy. In that moment, everything changed: he DIDN’T have all the answers, or if he did he wasn’t telling me. So I set about finding them for myself and have never looked back. I was all of twelve years old. (I did eventually find the answer to that question, and a whole lot more besides, but that is my path…)

    I hope that the path to recovery has been kind to you and to your children, that you have found (or will find) a path that works for you, respects your power and femininity as a woman and a human in your own right rather than as some possession of A Man In Your Life, and allows you to begin to know yourself in ways you never could have in a Biblically-blinkered world-view. I hope that that path has begun to heal the mental, emotional and spiritual damage done to you and your children that you gave voice to in this post from years ago, and wish you all the brightest blessings in life, love, liberty and laughter for the way forward.

    You are strong. You are beautiful. You are a Star. Shine brightly and never let lesser light eclipse you.

  • Roxanne F

    Wow, I’m so glad you saw the light. I was abused in the name of Christ as a child. It amazes me how many people fall for what these people teach. But once someone sees the truth, there is no going back. I am thankful, you and your children are safe.


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