I just started listening to the podcast. I’ve known about it for some time. But, I was afraid to listen to it. I don’t know if that makes any sense. But, I was.
I was raised to be a die hard IFB follower. “Baptist born, baptist bred and when I am dead, I will be baptist dead.”  was one of my dad’s favorite things to say.  I listened to J.Cs story last night and I have to admit to crying through it. Sharing my story isn’t easy. I have already lost all of my family and my husband and I are now divorced.
Growing up, my dad wasn’t the abuser. My mom was. We attended Metro Baptist Church and I still think of that as my home church even though we tossed back and forth among many churches. Andy Edwards, Dr Hobbins…. ETC
We were way more extremism growing up than even those in the churches we attended. I grew up watching my dad write letters to the pastor blowing him up because his daughters were on the platform singing and their skirts were too short in my dads opinion. Going home and hearing my parents talk about what sluts they were for a pastors teen.  I grew up wearing ankle length skirts. My mom and dad were adamant that any school we would attend would end up ruining us. So, we were homeschooled. (Or that’s what they told people) In reality, we weren’t schooled at all. My mom called it “Unschooling” And if we were reading a book, it was all good. Math and science was not something that we as children (Or even as adults) know how to do.
I should add that I am the oldest of 15 children.  My mom was a screamer and very jealous of even us kids.
My sister and I were the ones who got up with the babies in the middle of the night. Got beat if we didn’t get up fast enough. We did ALL of the babysitting. Almost every day while my mom and dad were out.
In church, we were not allowed to leave my parents side. We didn’t go to Sunday School. We didn’t go to church activities. And we certainly were never allowed to have anyone over. Because of the bad influence that even the church members were.
We were what you would call pretty secluded to our home and only our home. Outside contact was pretty much a no go. When we had a penpal and I mentioned to her that I didn’t know math and asked her for help. Our contact was very quickly cut.
My parents were/are both big on “spare the rod, spoil the child” So, one offense would easily get you 100 swats with a thick wooden board. Things would fly across the room very often. Water spots on a cup would mean that all cups got broken as they were thrown across the kitchen.
It was often that we’d go all day without food to teach us to work. Quoting Zana Reichans song or singing it “Would not work, neither should ye eat.”  My dad was a piano/organ player in almost every church we went to.  And as kids we were made to sing. Something about big families singing that everyone seems to like. So, to those in the church, we were the perfect large family and my “Parents were saints.” While us girls did all of the work. Including teaching the kids to read. ETC…
We thought my dad was oblivious to the abuse going on in the home as he never did or said anything. I quickly learned that he knew about it and both deny it ever happening and have cut contact with several of us kids.
In my moms words “I don’t care to have contact with any of the kids until they can make something of themselves. And that means more than having a house, car and good job.” referring to being in a church they agree with.
When I was almost a teenager, Dr Vaprezsan made mention of a time that his son did something and earned 100 swats. My mothers new rule of thumb became “If bro John didn’t die from it. Neither will you.” And many of our offenses meant 100 swats with a wooden board (That was given to her by the church) every day at a set time for a week. And it didn’t even have to be an offense that made sense.
That’s just a tiny  bit of what went on in the house. While the conversation in the house was constantly belittling someone in the church. How little scripture a pastor used and such things as that.
We worked the bus routes as a kid. (Tech we were made to feel like we worked the bus routes. And to an extent we did. But, the bus captains became family. And picked us up when my parents couldn’t or wouldn’t go to church in the morning) One Sunday afternoon I had taken one of the babies to the nursery to change a diaper. And in the nursery was a bus captain (female) laying in the lap of a young teenage man whom she had taken into her home out of a bad living situation.
At the time I had no idea what was going on. Sex was a taboo topic in our home and def not something I even thought of at that time.
A couple of months later, that same bus captain was accused of molesting that young man. Authorities were never called,  instead it was swept under the rug. That bus captain was sent to another church and we were only told that she moved away. Meanwhile, the young man was kicked out of the christian school and told that he was old enough to know better and could have stopped it. It became clear at that point what was going on in the back room of the nursery that day. We only learned the details because again, it was talked about in our home a lot. We had that young mans brother in our home and he quickly became like my big brother (Still is to this day)
What led me to question the way we were raised? The day everything came out about Jack Schaap…. Whom our family worshiped. When it became clear that David Hyles had the same past and kept getting away with it. And when I went to my pastor about the abuse that we went through and some other things going on. And my pastor told my dad. Who in turn made things turn ugly. When my sister went to a church in Fort Wayne and tried to get pastoral counsel about the abuse we endured. (Of which I have only gone into a tiny bit) And was receiving help until my dad contacted that pastor. And they found out who my parents were. (My dad is pretty outgoing and well known in churches. ) And my sister was told that she was a liar and asked to find another church. When my pastor a couple of years later (Where my ex husband was the song leader) showed up at our house uninvited and found me drinking a wine cooler outside, and we received a letter cancelling out our church membership. When that same pastor told my ex husband that I wasn’t saved and needed to get his house in order.  When I realized that our churches were a big fake. They weren’t at all concerned with protecting the children whom had been abused. But instead protecting the abuser and helping them hide in the church as a safe haven and backing them up. When my dad was accused by 3 brothers (Yes I am including the young man whom lived with us) of sexually molesting them. And every church has backed my dad up. When asking for advice on what to do about something quickly became a problem that was taken to my parents again. And there was no privacy in counsel. When I was told by people in the church “We knew something was going on in your house but we didn’t feel it was our place to say/do anything. Because it isn’t normal for that many children to come into church. Quietly sit in a pew for that long and never move or talk.” When I was told that I needed to keep my story of depression silent in a church where my ex husband and I were youth leaders or else we wouldn’t be able to be used because the teens didn’t need to know that.
When another pastor handed me a book about emotional strong hold and forgiveness and basically blamed my past on me.
I could go on and on about what made me leave or question how we were raised.  but I won’t.
I feel less alone when I hear these podcasts. And I know that it seems to be a common thing and I am not crazy or alone.
Keep up the good work. Some of us really needed to know that we weren’t/aren’t alone in this.
I am still searching for what I believe. Getting out of the movement is hard. Habits don’t leave easily. And the guilt is strong.  One thing I am realizing is that you can have a relationship with Christ and not follow all of the man made rules. I am learning the real meaning behind “A friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Bre Rottenstein.