I grew up fundamentalist. Twelve years in darkness, twelve years in fear. I lived so close to death that I could feel it brushing against my fingertips. Always around the corner was the Rapture, the Tribulation, the falling bombs, the assaults of the devil. I tried to root the evil out of myself, first by starving, then by systematically divesting myself of the things that I loved. All my efforts seemed hopeless. God didn’t want me – or so I thought. It turns out that the root of the evil wasn’t inside me at all. It was in the mental virus that plagued my church and those around it. My homeschool community. My world was full of it.
It was the Christian Patriarchy Movement, disguised in a church that fancied itself very different. “The Message of the Hour,” the believers in the prophet, the last remnant of God’s chosen people. It turns out that we were no different from the others, really. A splintered church, eagerly sipping from the pot of the Religious Right. We absorbed courtship, purity balls, pledges and lockets with keys that belonged to our fathers. We rejected music, we rejected dating and above all the public sphere. Women especially were kept at home, reading Elsie Dinsmore and books from Vision Forum. We bought I Kissed Dating Goodbye and read Zionist novels. We believed we were so very, very unique.
We were part of the network. In my blogroll, you’ll see the variety of denominations that subscribe to the Patriarchy Movement. It never begins or ends with just one person. It’s a movement in every sense: a rolling wave of beliefs that seek to engulf the United States and finally the world, to re-establish Christendom.
The first installment of my story was posted at No Longer Quivering in October 2009. I am nearly done.
You can find all of the entries of my story here, arranged from most recent to earliest:
I have written a lot about William Branham here, the man who founded the Message. I believe he’s much less an anomaly than Message believers would have you think. Was it just a cult I escaped from? That’s far too easy a dismissal. The similarities are hard to ignore. Read. Learn. Ask me questions. I am holding out my hand – if you are leaving the Message, or a fundamentalist church of any stripe, don’t be afraid. I survived. You will, too.