Saturday, April 29, 2006

(Yeah, whatever, Tom. I was in my OWN cult, so there, nyah)

Sometime ago in Blogland, I told Madge that at age 17, I had joined a cult and, then, escaped. She asked for the story. So, I give it freely.

I really am going to try and make this is as interesting as possible, but I don't know if I'll succeed.

At age 17, I had lost a lot of weight. I was skinny and looked a bit like a bobble-head, but I got a lot of attention (furthering my hypothesis that even if you are disproportionately thin, you'll get a date).

My mother worked at a fabric store. The owner of the store and most of the associates belonged to The Church of Christ, a seemingly innocent enough sounding church. Mom had said they never really hassled her about her faith, so she didn't have any qualms about her co-workers.

One of her co-workers, Rico Suave (name changed to protect the innocent), was a twenty two year old man of Mexican descent. He was very polished and well-educated and mannerly and all dark and handsome. All the things a mother wants in a beau for her daughter. So, here I would come to visit Mom on her lunch hour and here would be Rico Suave, asking me about what college I wanted to go to and how nice I looked and all the things that a recently-fat-girl-turned-skinny wanted to hear from a good-looking Latin man who was actually taller than she. Eventually, we went on a date.

We went to see 'Contact' and I think I was a bit put off on how much Jodie Foster was crying (again) in a movie. We ate at Waffle House to discuss the movie. And that's when he moved in on me. No, not sexually. He moved in on me CULTISHLY.

"What faith are you?" he asked.
"Episcopalian." I said.
Long sigh from Rico.
"You know, it's really too bad," he muttered into his food, "Because I really like you but I will not date anyone outside of my faith."
My heart leapt and then sank.
"Of course," he continued, "if you attended a Bible Study with some of the sisters, we could probably go out on a few more dates. Even though we really shouldn't date outside of our race. But I'm sure we could make an exception to that, no?"
I was hooked.

I'd NEVER been on a date or had a boyfriend (well, except for that lughead John who managed to wreck two of his parents' cars in the span of a week trying to stalk me).

I went to the Bible Study. This is what I found out:
-If you are not baptized in The Church of Christ, then you have not been properly baptized.
-If you are anything but a member of The Church of Christ, you are going to Hell.
-Women and men should never study the bible near one another.
-Musical instruments are forbidden in the House of Worship
-Jesus is not really a social activist but more of a Terminator, who is going to destroy anyone who doesn't belong to The Church of Christ.
-I had to get my ass to the church before God smote me with irascible pleasure.

I arranged for some lady to pick me up. I asked Rico Suave, but he said he couldn't have any more contact with me unless a chaperone was present or I had been re-baptized. So, some stranger picked me up and took me to the service. The 'church' was actually a rented portion of the Atlanta Civic Center. This is worrisome (in retrospect) for a number of reasons:
1. They didn't believe in actually worshipping in a church
2. There were so many damned people who believed this shit to fill up the Atlanta Civic Center.

The first thing I noticed during all this was a key member of the choir.
It was Speech, from Arrested Development. Yeah, that's right. This talented musician abandoned his band to become a gospel singer for The Church of Christ. It's all rather disappointing.

After my communion of grape juice and saltine crackers, I watched some novitiates get baptized in a fish tank specially made for the occasion. Two thirteen year old girls almost drowned (but appeared ecstatic about the whole process), one fifty year old divorcee almost peed his pants get pushed in by the pastor, and there was an elderly lady who was not spared any indignity either. The woman at my side, with horrible body order, whispered to me, "Soon, dear, you will be baptized into the One True Faith." I shuddered involuntarily.

I tried to ask the 'pastor' about the baptizing. He was twenty-four years old, had bleached blonde hair, and a wife who had had more cosmetic surgery than Liza Minelli and Cher combined.
"So, uh, if I've already been baptized, why do I have to be re-baptized?" I asked him.
"You look a little bit like Marilyn Monroe," he responded.
"Thanks. Why do I have to be re-baptized?" I asked.
"Because the other one wasn't for real," he said.
"Not for real?"

I think this was about when I started to have some doubts. But still, I went to the Bible Studies. I hung out with these annoyingly chipper and good-willed girls. I learned about how Catholics are worse than any other kind of pseudo-Christian out there. I was really having some issues with it, and my parents were, too.

"I don't like it," said my Mom. "You're a cradle Episcopalian! You can't just ABANDON the Church!"

In the end, an elderly lady of the Church of Christ's congregation informed me that I had to have courage to split from the demon-ridden Episcopal church. She told me it wouldn't be easy to let down my parents, but she felt she had found the perfect verse to uplift me and fortify me in my path to Salvation.

"Here's a verse from Revelations," she quoted to me over the phone, "'The cowards shall burn in a lake of fire'. Remember that as you tell your parents you are turning your back on their sinful faith."

Something in me turned over, like a dying starter in a car.

Did she just threaten me with HELL?

I'm seventeen! I haven't even DONE anything worthy of Hell at this point! I've never gotten drunk, I've never had sex, I've never cussed out my mother (to her face), I've never done any of the fun things that bought a ticket to Hell!

"Whatever, lady," I said, as I rolled my eyes. "I think I'd rather go to Hell than hang out with you freaks."

And that, Madge, is the brief story of my brush with a cult.
Edit: In doing some research on the web, it appears it was a good thing I got away. The International Church of Christ is now beyond a's a schematic way of making money for the 'leaders'.
Written by FRITZ
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