1. What is the purpose of this site?
The Phoenix and Olive Branch aspires to be a source of comfort and affirmation to those who have left or are considering leaving the Christian Patriarchy Movement. A significant number of posts deal with the problems specific to my own church, but I believe the common themes are the same across denominations. My group called itself “The Message of the Hour,” and was founded by William Branham in the mid-20th century. Branham, like other charismatic ministers in the 1930s-1960s, preached divine healing by faith, the imminent return of Christ and the patriarchal order of the family. He is regarded by followers as the last of several prophets including Elijah and John the Baptist, sent to restore the Bride of Christ to her original faith before the Second Coming of Christ. In practice, however, Message believers take more than just his word on things: they readily accept more mainstream evangelical movements. Courtship, purity balls, modest clothing, patriarchy, quiverfull, father-daughter pledges, and stay-at-home daughters – all of this is familiar to me. I grew up on the front lines of the culture wars, inculcated with anti-abortion and anti-gay beliefs and taught to see myself as the subordinate of a future husband. Then I got out.
Living after fundamentalism involves a sort of new birth, hence the metaphor of the Phoenix. Leaving behind all you know, love or hate, leaves you feeling a bit breathless, winded. Awash with survivor’s guilt. But then you smell the lilies, hear the birdsong, see the sunshine and finally feel it on your skin. Life outside is beautiful. Hence the olive branch. The storm is over.
I don’t blame the people I grew up with. I miss some of them dearly and I know that they were doing what they believed was right. I do, however, hold those beliefs entirely accountable. The Christian Patriarchy Movement is founded on an evil belief, a sense of entitlement and dominion that crushes diversity and mocks the poor. It is the very opposite of Jesus.
2. Who are you?
My name, for blogging purposes, is Sierra. I was in a fundamentalist church from the age of 7 to 19. I escaped in college, finding a world that welcomed me with open arms at last. I’m now enrolled in a PhD program, having already completed a master’s degree abroad. I blog because I care, though my studies often prevent the clockwork regularity I would like to observe.
5. How can I contact you?
In order to protect against spam, the email address below has been broken up. Please replace the bracketed text with the appropriate symbols:
nonprophetmessage [at] gmail [dot] com