by Cindy Foster cross posted from her blog Finding Fundamental
As of June 28th, we have celebrated 16 years outside the Bible-based cult church I formerly referred to as “The Baptist Taliban.”
Although the exodus was traumatic, the effects lasting and the damages permanent, I have never regretted leaving. Not even for one moment.
Sixteen years. It’s a long time. Years of days and nights– much time spent chiseling out my own personal beliefs from the mountain-sized, rock-solid, absolutes petrified by generations of fundamentalists whose interpretive ideals became the very substance and essence of my identity.
These predecessors, both biological and idealogical, doggedly held to the literal interpretation of scripture as the inerrant, infallible, unchanging Word of God. To question this basic, most essential truth would threaten an earthquake-like disruption to every accompanying belief arising from it.
It was never even a question of ‘IF’ it could be questioned. I never did. Never wanted to. Never felt a need to.
Until, sixteen years ago when my family left the church we helped establish from the first day of its birth; the church family of which all eight of our children were reared and entrenched.
Nineteen years and three months of living as if nothing on the outside was of any value except to the furtherance of our little kingdom.
There were difficulties from the beginning, predictably, when two related families work so closely together in a ministry where one assumes authority over the other. But the ‘difficulties’ became all-out abuse, culminating in a preacher-dictated and policed, church-enabled, Amish-style shunning of twelve teens and young adults.
Shunned for varying amounts of time relative to the degree of ‘offense’ as determined by the preacher alone. A shunning that involved prohibition of ANY communication including: verbal greetings, letters, cards, emails and/or phone calls–inside the church walls and outside– that was directed to The Shunned.
Shunned. Not for engaging in ‘illicit’ sexual activity. Not for drinking or doing drugs. Not for doing anything that could be considered wrong or unhealthy by even the most conservative of expectations.
Except, this was not just a very conservative preacher and this was not just a very conservative church. This was a church that if it could make the laws, it would be a Baptist Taliban….literally, separated only by degrees.
Two of The Shunned were our daughters.
The Shunning was my Rude Awakening and the catalyst that necessitated my questioning which led to my search for a better, more inclusive understanding of everything spiritual.
So, after 16 years of rehearsing, grieving, writing, seeking, re-evaluating–you know–chiseling, I have come much closer to extracting my own, authentic beliefs concerning this life and the next from the rock-solid ones externally ingrained.
It has been a grueling process wrought with fear, anxiety, anger, intense grief, disagreements, loss of friends and family, loss of dreams, loss of direction, re-defining purpose and learning to live patiently in the tension.
But, I am much more secure and confident in my ability to discern for myself, now that I am free from the pressure to conform to the Baptist Taliban’s pleasure.
This will be a scary process. I am not comfortable revealing all, just yet, because I was born into a system that discourages, at the mildest and excommunicates, at the severest, too much deviation from the Fundamentals that define the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.
But, I must…
So. In my next post, I will reveal the very first Baptist Taliban preacher’s ‘truth’ I questioned and the events that provoked it.
Cindy Foster is “Mom” to eight gorgeous, talented, temperamental, noisy, opinionated, alike-but very different kids. She has been married to their daddy, Paul, for 36 years.
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