Review: I Fired God: My Life Inside–and Escape from–the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult by Jocelyn Zichterman

by Calulu

When I first received this book I chuckled over the title, “I Fired God” because it seemed both humorous and sacrilegious at the same time. Firing God? How is it even possible? I quickly found out that the author should have fired her IFB God much sooner.

Before reading “I Fired God” my only knowledge of the IFB was last summer’s sexual abuse incident involving IFB Pastor Jack Schaap , and the writings of former IFB Pastor Bruce Gerencser. Jocelyn explains much of the beliefs and functioning of the IFB church in a way that anyone could understand and see that they are genuinely cult-esque.

The book opens with Jocelyn describing the intense terror she was experiencing over her family’s decision to leave the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church. Most of her fear hinged on incurring the wrath of her father, IFB pastor Bart Janz.  Bart spent most of Jocelyn’s life controlling and abusing her along with threatening to kill her if she didn’t obey his every whim.

By the second chapter it ss all too easy to know that Pastor Bart Janz meant his threats as he takes pleasure in killing the family’s two cats in a gruesome and cruel manner. He killed animals and seemed to take as much pleasure from the killing as many budding serial killers. Most serial killers and psychopaths start out by torturing and murdering animals. His behavior in the rest of the book seems to indicate that he has some sort of severe sociopathy going on.

I’m not going to spoil it and tell you all what happens except to say it is compelling reading and might be triggering to those that suffered similar abuse. With that said I could not put this book down and as I was reading it on vacation my mother and friends kept taking it to read bits and pieces.  We were all fascinated and horrified at the same time as this was one  of the clearest examples of Religious Trauma Syndrome any of us had seen.

Jocelyn is a truly strong lady to have endured everything that her father Bart Janz did to her and everyone in her family.

In the book Jocelyn exposes –

  • the waste of time and money Bob Jones University and the other uncredited IFB colleges are
  • how the IFB is all about power, control and money
  • the culture of denying abuse and protecting the abusers instead of helping those affected by abuse
  • the influence of the IFB on local and national politics
  • the insular nature of IFB leadership and total control over the lives of the members

Jocelyn bravely confronts the poisonous cult-like Independent Fundamentalist Baptist culture with all of its secrets. My personal opinion is that the biggest benefit of “I Fired God” is that it exposes exactly what living in a Quiverfull cult is actually like, instead of the pretty, sanitized, TLC kinder, gentler Duggar family version. This is warts and all. A cautionary tale of Quiverfull. This book would benefit anyone that has had to leave behind an abusive Christian environment and is engaged in active recovery.

“I Fired God” is available from Amazon starting May 14th.

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 Read everything by Calulu!

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Seeking The Light and The Burqa Experience

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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