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Former Member Post #2

Below is BCCTheTruth's second Former Member Blog Post. We've been receiving messages with an array of opinions about the site. Many give praise, others denounce us all together. Some don't even bother reading anything before attacking us. We feel the necessity to implore current, former and non members alike to keep open minds to ideas and experiences that run contrary to your own. Like anything ever created, our site isn't perfect; bear with us. Thank you,

-BCCTheTruth


Former Member Blog Post Two:

I recently shared my history with a friend about how I grew up in the church of Brunstad Christian Church. I showed him photos from when I got to travel the world, make friends overseas, and have an overall happy childhood within the church. He said he was jealous and wished he had that growing up.


Most people don’t have this kind of reaction when I talk about the church I was raised in. Usually, it’s something along the lines of “sounds like a cult,” to which most of those who had the same upbringing would say that isn’t true. We may have been raised in a bubble of isolation from the world, but it was a very large bubble to the point where we couldn’t see it.


I think I had doubts about the church from a fairly young age but didn’t come to the decision I was actually going to leave until I was 20. My main reasoning for leaving was because I realized I was agnostic, but along with this I also knew there was a lot about the church that I disagreed with. Their anti-feminism, queerphobia, and how they prided themselves as being better than any other religion. They would openly laugh at other religions during our meetings saying “how could they ever believe that?” Which I always found confusing. Didn’t everyone on Earth think that they were in the right about how to live life? Whether you’re part of a religion or are an atheist, you most likely believe you have it all figured out on how to live your life and what comes (or doesn’t come) after death. So how does my church know for sure that they are the correct ones? I can’t say that I regret the way I was raised because it made me who I am today. However, I know that I would never raise my own children in the same way. Many may say that my childhood, as well as most of those who also grew up in the church, was a dream for any young one. It seemed like a life full of fun, laughter, music, and an abundance of friends. Only now am I able to look back and see just how isolated from the world we all were. Like several others from BCC, I was born into the church and part of a large family. That world was quite literally all I ever knew.


When I was in elementary school, I had a very close class friend. She had come over to play at my house several times, but one day she asked me to come to hers. I asked my mom and she said I couldn’t because she didn’t know my friend’s parents, but I know she didn’t even want to get to know them. I was faced with an agitated friend which became one of the first signs to me that I had a different life than most children. My mom used this excuse for most of my life to keep me from spending more time with “outside” friends. Throughout school most of the time I talked about my “outside” friends, I would receive judgmental eyes from my parents. Little comments of “be careful…” and “remember to not fall into temptation”. It made me feel as if I wasn’t allowed to have school friends at all, especially those of the opposite sex. The church had what I like to call “gender segregation”. In the meeting hall, brothers of the church would be on the left and sisters would be on the right. Almost any youth event we had, boys and girls are separate. There was once a time when we would have activities with a mix of people, but eventually, they started getting stricter. I’ve had older members physically put themselves between me and another youth to discourage us from getting “too close”, as it was deemed as inappropriate.


Needless to say, this level of separation between girls and boys, and how discouraged it was to even speak to each other, it caused me to develop social anxiety especially around men. In high school and during my first job, I felt it unimportant to make new relationships. For my job, I was there to work. Not to make friends. In school, I was a loner who avoided eye contact with everyone and ate my lunch in a bathroom stall. I felt physically sick with guilt when a couple of friends tricked me into getting pizza with them during our lunch break and going to eat it at one of their houses. That doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, right? It shouldn’t be, but I believed it was. I thought I could never tell my mother about it because I was afraid she would scold me for getting in the car with them in the first place. If I did make any relationships in school, I never got too attached because I knew it wouldn’t continue after high school since those friendships were worldly anyway. There was no room for them in my Christian life.


The church had always painted the LGBTQ+ community as evil and full of sin. I remember when gay marriage was finally legalized in the states, and just about everyone in the church was disappointed and called it disgusting.

We averted our eyes as we had to drive through a Pride Parade during a youth group trip. I met a coworker who was openly lesbian and she began to become a good friend of mine. I decided to be honest with her about how I’ve been raised to disagree with the queer community. She was completely understanding and okay with it, knowing that this is just how I was raised and it’s all I knew so of course that’s what I would still believe. I was in shock. This lesbian whom the church would deem as a heathen is showing me kindness and acceptance. So why did I feel like I couldn’t do the same without going to Hell for it? Why would the church tell me to stray away and despise the queer community when all they want is peace and love like us? It was around this time when I finally began to think for myself more.

One day during a phone call with a college friend of mine, we were talking about the church and its views on the LGBTQ+ community. She then asked me “well, what do you think about it?” Wow… I had never thought about it before. This was a tipping point for me. The moment I realized that I had just been going along with whatever the church preached. This also helped me realize that I was only attending church for the friends. I didn’t truly believe in anything. I didn’t want to be homophobic either, I wanted to be supportive of my queer friends without feeling guilty… over the course of the next couple of months or so after this conversation, I decided I was going to tell my parents I was leaving the church. It went better than expected, but the transition would not be so easy. I met up with two older sisters from our youth who I always looked up to. One was left speechless while the other almost seemed angry with me. She told me that I would fall into sin if I were to get involved with gay people. I didn’t see the point in trying to argue with them, so I let them think what they wanted to. A couple of months later I cut my hair into a pixie cut. This was something I wanted for years, but was always met with church members reminding me of a verse from the NKJ Bible which stated in 1st Corinthians 11;14-15:


“Doesn’t nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.”


In other words, I wasn’t allowed to have my hair short like a man’s. If I wasn’t presented with this verse, I was warned about the influence I may have on the children in the church. Let me tell you though, cutting my hair short was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.


I became more depressed after I left the church. It made me question my decision, and that maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I came to realize that this was once again something that the church lacked in; mental health awareness. They never spoke about mental health, much less how to get help. They tended to just expect everyone to “pray the sadness away” and to just “put all your burdens on God”. I started seeing a therapist for the first time once a week to help with my transition. When I would occasionally see church members for whatever reason, I could tell I was being treated differently. They looked at me like a lost sick puppy. Their voices changed, some wouldn’t even speak to or acknowledge me. Others who would talk to me would ask if I was happy as if it wasn’t a possibility since I had left. I now had anxiety anytime I had to see them. I was afraid of both being confronted and of being ignored. I am still in contact with a couple of members, but we scarcely converse with one another. What also made leaving such a difficult transition was that I suddenly had nowhere to go to celebrate a lot of holidays. Easter, Fourth of July, the summer, Halloween, Christmas, New Years', these were all celebrated at the church property with at least weekend-long conferences that involved friends, food, music, and sometimes fireworks. But now I found myself sitting alone in my room, not knowing what to do with myself. Luckily, I had a couple of good friends who brought me to my first public holiday events, like the 4th of July or New Year’s fireworks at the local park or baseball stadium, and I had a fantastic time.


I do not hate the people of the church. Like I said before, I don’t regret being raised there. Those who are still attending and claim to be happy, I truly hope that they are and that they continue to do so. However, my heart is heavy for those who are still there when I know how much happier they could be if they left. I know that it is a relatively safe place, especially for children, but it still has its own kinds of dangers. Throughout my time there, we were always changing the public name of our church because there had been new negative press about the church and we didn’t want outsiders to find the bad stuff if they Googled us. To this day I’m not totally sure what they call themselves, so I just say “BCC Church of (insert church location).”


Over the last 3 years since I’ve left the church, I’ve been able to find my people. Friends that I have met through college or work who have shown me more love and acceptance for who I am than the church ever did. Sharing my story has been very important to me, not only for me to sort of look more into my childhood for answers on the reasons as to why I am the way I am today, but also for those who may find themselves in something of a similar situation. Maybe they’re stuck in a strict religious environment as well, or maybe they’re still attending BCC too, and they’re looking for a way out. Perhaps they want to know if there’s hope for them if they do leave. Well, I’m here to say there is. I’m openly non-binary and queer, and am living my life in a way that has made me happier than ever before.

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