Children of the Cultic

Children of the Cultic February 6, 2019

by Cindy Kunsman

Editor’s note: Cindy is speaking about a recent development in her life. The Botkin Sisters, Anna Sophia and Elizabeth, children of Geoff Botkin, seem like they are threatening to sue over a ten year old blog. They’ve sent Cindy Kunsman a letter to an address she does not even use, filled with pious manipulation, false claims and signed in a childish scrawl. I will be posting the entire letter tomorrow.

You remember the Botkins? The sisters have a site that is mostly moribund. Mel kindly reviewed their courtship book “It’s Not That Complicated”

Geoff Botkin was once enmeshed with with Doug Phillips long-closed Vision Forum ministry, and with Voddie Baucham’s own daughter-controlling ministry. Geoff has trotted out his daughters as the pinnacle, the apex, and the golden reward of the father-led courtship model. Yet here we are, many years later with zero courtships or marriages for these girls on the horizon. Endlessly pimped out by Daddy to sell his ministry, yet he’s failed at the very thing he has said was the most important.

The girls are disingenuously trying to claim that some ten year old blog posts by Cindy have ruined their reputation, not the fact that Daddy continually pimped them out.

Cindy’s response to these gals:

I remember the day when my parents admitted to me that a close family friend of ours who was like another father figure for me had a reputation for lying. I knew of some workplace conflicts where he’d sided against my father to protect his son and his own reputation, all at my father’s expense. I was about ten years old, and I basically pretended that I had no knowledge of the conflicts. It was too much! When the subject came up separately with both parties when I was about thirty years old, I stopped everyone and explained that it wouldn’t listen. I decided that it was inappropriate, and I stopped the conversation.

But much had happened to me over the course of a few decades. I’d become an adult. I’d married and moved away. I was not a part of the daily lives of my parents or our friends. I could set boundaries on the topics that we discussed, and I refused to listen to anyone if they tried to draw me into a discussion that had absolutely nothing to do with me. I had means which I could use to retreat from the discussion. Children don’t have that luxury. I also had the perspective of an adult with much more experience of my own, with both parties and with other adults like them. I knew that children idealize their parents and role models. Adults learn to humanize others and learn to defend their own boundaries when other adults overrun them.

Adult children don’t enjoy the luxury of perspective when they live under bounded choice (the appearance of choice, but none of the options are achievable and their possibilities are deemed as sinfully unthinkable). Our society also has social rules, and in some instances, societal laws guard against the lack of perspective to which people are subject when their family loyalties are challenged. Courts even allow citizens to appeal to the US Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. Most people protect those whom they love, and they cannot truly see them objectively.

If you have no standard of comparison, there is nothing questionable or unhealthy about your own norm. It is your healthy normal. For me, the challenges started quite early. Before there were counselors, there were school teachers that triggered confusion for me. Then came the daily experience of living in the dorm to study nursing. My peers and the curriculum itself challenged everything, it seemed. Childhood growth and development standards were very hard for me to learn because I had been expected to be a tiny, precocious adult.

None of nursing could be considered pagan culture. I attended a religious school — and that venue was chosen for me by my parents because of religious concerns. Was it better for me to learn nursing lab skills from a computer in a huge class of state college students or in a small one from a nun who had been a nurse all of her life? Which school showed more honor to the personhood of the ill? I struggled tremendously with how I defined myself and how I would manage to fit into the wider world.

For the first several months when I lived on campus to attend college, I found that something new challenged my norm every day. I not only had to figure out dorm etiquette, the coursework challenged me daily in the beginning. The cognitive dissonance (the stress created by the competing set of rules about the norm) overwhelmed me. What I knew to be normal growth and development of children through experience in my life differed greatly from the standard set by the coursework.

Had I commuted from home, I would have been under more immediate pressure to ‘choose a side,’ and in their home, my parents would have to win. That’s how our dynamic worked. Maybe I would have decided that my whole widening world was wrong, but in my mind, to live with my family, they would have to be reckoned as pure and right. I existed to validate them and their system and their view of the world — the endpoint of the bounded choice within my family.

Had I been raised in a home that followed the teachings that Kathryn Joyce wrote of in her book, Quiverfull, I don’t believe that I could have survived. Without my experience in nursing, would I be able to accept it if someone pointed out that my father had lied to them? Even with college under my belt, I was in my late thirties before I could admit to myself that the norms of my upbringing were not the norms for most, nor were they healthy.

Most people will throw themselves on a sword to save those who set the norm for them. If my own transition in a home that did not isolate me from secular life posed such pressures as I transitioned into independent adult life, what would someone face if they lived in a home that believed that if a girl ventures out of the home without a male covering, they would be swept away like the Old Testament’s Dinah to be raped in body and mind? Would the pressure to remain devoted to their norm be lesser or greater than those that I faced?

Adult Children of Patriarchy

If I learned that my father dropped out of college after he joined a Christian group on campus, and people who left the group considered it a cult, would I want to believe it? If the cult was known to select the spouses for their members, would I feel at ease thinking about how my parents met in college? What if my dad aspired to save the world for Jesus by getting very involved with his church? What if I’d read that college students from the same campus where my father went to witness about Jesus were so ill affected by my church that they were admitted to psych wards? Would I want to believe any of it? Would I be permitted in any reasonable way to entertain the possibility that such things could be true?

A former member of a cultic Christian group told me of an experience that he had years after he left that cult that was once very active on his college campus. His old acquaintance from college, now on his way to becoming a leader, told him that he would be given the same treatment that Right Wing magnates enjoyed when they visited his home. (He remained involved with the group until he found a niche in the burgeoning patriarchy movement.) This former member told me that the man had their little girls ask if they could please remove his shoes to make him more comfortable, even though he was a stranger to them. The family considered this to be an act of Christian ministry. If you were the child, now grown, would you have cause to question whether this was a perfectly good and normal thing to do in our society? (I never blogged about it because it sickened me.)

Could it be possible that those we admire greatly have feet of clay? I guarantee it. My counselor liked to say that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross. There are no pedestals there. Do religious leaders lie or try to bend the truth? Is it possible that the people we love have a way of downplaying the things that they don’t want us to know? Would I be inclined to believe that those I loved are just as human as everyone else? Welcome to the human race. But what if such ideas were unthinkable, and what if the money I earned was tied to that belief?

If you grew up like the Von Trapp children in formation in the Sound of Music before “the problem like Maria” arrived, consider that the film elucidated that the life they lived was not so healthy. Consider that adults lose perspective , and children have only one perspective when they’ve never known anything else. It worked for a time for the Von Trapps, but their father never claimed to be a religious expert in raising children, selling his insights to support his family. Love that was not duty and deadness swept into his home and set his family free.

What do you do about the problem of critics that challenge your parents — the parents who put you in a storefront to make you a poster child for their personal preferences? What if they
claimed that it was for your survival in a dangerous world? Do you even have any viable life choices? I had one….the one that my parents chose for me.

Would it be fair for an educated adult to perform a vivisection on the writings of a child? I never thought so. It seemed like exploitation to me. It’s rather like an adult using a child at that child’s expense [which better men than me have defined as (non physical) cover incest].

I wrote in generalities about how the parents used their children because I know what it’s like to live under bounded choice. I didn’t do so out of kindness.

What do you think? Might you have been the Trojan Horse that adults used to exploit your youth so that they could avoid scrutiny themselves? That sounds a bit like emotional blackmail to me. Will you follow in the footsteps of the thugs that preceded you, now that you’re an adult? It seems that you’re off to a fine start, but there’s still time to turn it around.

Why wait so long, Botkins? I wonder if they have another set of books or a whole new ministry shift that makes them frantic to remove any hint of negative press from online? They will have to cyberly fire-bomb Bitch Media, Free Jinger, this site and dozens of others. I don’t  know. What I do know is every time I hear this particular OutKast song I think of them.

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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jcoelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 32 years. You can read more about the author here.
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