This will probably be pretty long, but I’ll do my best to keep it as short as possible. My family and I attended a church up until a couple of weeks ago in Cartersville, Georgia. Our pastor was raised in a very well-known church in Resaca, Georgia. I’m sure you know this church I’m talking about as I’ve heard y’all mention the church/pastor. I was raised in churches like this all my life. My pastors have been Austin Gardner, Billy Goolsby, John Dorsey, and then recently this one in Cartersville. I have worked at Philadelphia Christian School in Calhoun for 8 years, but am homeschooling this year because I couldn’t handle the double standards being taught anymore. I’ve been questioning the legalism and certain rules I’ve had to follow for a very long time now. My parents and I have had conversations since I was a teen about how we didn’t believe some of the standards taught in these churches, but we stayed. Why? I don’t know. I guess in a way we felt like we would be outcasts/sinners/reprobates or whatever. Well, my daughter is 17. She met a boy from the Christian school I taught at in 4th grade. They’ve been talking and have had a little on again/off again relationship (nothing serious at all) up until a few months ago they decided to start dating. His dad is a pastor in Resaca at a small church and is VERY legalistic. He got on to his son and my daughter for sharing a straw because it was like kissing. His wife would text my daughter what to wear the day before they would see each other. Their son is 18, and he couldn’t even call, text, write letters to my daughter up until about two months ago. All texts had to go to his mom. I’m talking I have been raised around strict people, but they take the cake. My daughter is a very good person. I’ve never had any trouble at all out of her. And that’s saying a lot for a 17 year old lol. She loves going to church. She dresses modestly but does wear shorts/pants. But she was never good enough for her boyfriend’s parents. Her boyfriend was under so much pressure at home. I mean they wouldn’t even let him close his bedroom door. They keep a baby monitor in his bedroom (eww). He couldn’t even meet us for lunch for my daughter’s birthday. His whole family invited themselves to come with him because “he couldn’t be trusted” and we also couldn’t be trusted because we believe it’s ok to hold hands before marriage. He kept coming to me, my husband, and my daughter about how he couldn’t handle the pressure anymore and wanted to move out. My parents live next door to us and they are disabled and need help on the farm we live on. So my parents said he would be welcome to come live with them until he got a job and could get an apartment (his parents wouldn’t even allow him to work). So he took them up on the offer. This is when all hell broke loose. His parents and grandparents went crazy and texted literally every Christian they know about how he was being “fleshly” with my daughter and that we were awful people because we were letting them live together. They sleep in separate houses! I guess it’s a sin to date your neighbor. Well, we have had 7 churches in our group or circle of people we know to call and ask if my daughter was pregnant or to tell us how sinful we are. How dare we not honor his father and mother. My daughter’s boyfriend had his arm on the back of the pew in church and as soon as our pastor got up to preach told a story about how he put his arm on the pew behind his girlfriend and his mom smacked it off in church and hit him in the head with a flip flop. Mind you, he thought this was a good thing. He proceeded to preach a whole message about how an unmarried couple in our church was so sinful (hemlines, not honoring parents, etc.). They were the only unmarried couple in the church that night. We have not been back to that church again. And will never go back. I watched a couple of his messages on YouTube after we left and he is telling people (without using my name but everyone knows who he is talking about because it’s a very small church) that I am Judas, that I am to be shunned, that if someone “doesn’t follow OUR commandments, then we are to mark them and don’t talk to them”. I only follow God’s commandments, not my pastor’s. We have lost several friends (almost all of them actually). We’ve had pastors/missionaries/evangelists shun us. There are youth pastors calling my daughter a whore and not letting their children talk to her. Even one of her so called best friends won’t talk to her because she is continuing to “living in sin”. My heart is so broken. I am furious, sad, lonely all at the same time. Any advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated. I could go on and on but I will end here. Thank y’all so much for your podcast. I found it through a Facebook post that a preacher named Daniel Waters posted about how shallow and weak-faithed “recovering fundamentalists” are and someone in the comments suggested to listen to y’all, and I thought that’s exactly what I need! I’ve had these thoughts and felt like I was crazy for years for believing there is a different way. When I hear y’all talk, it’s like y’all are reading my mind, and I just had to share this with y’all. Your podcast feels like it has given my friends during one of the loneliest, darkest times in my life. And for that, I am incredibly thankful. Keep up the good work!
A Fellow Recovering Fundamentalist