Although this post will focus on Christianity I believe it belongs on this board, not Journeys, because the Family environment was steeped in a warped ultra-controlling version of Christianity. Anybody care to disagree with that? It's like Sam Ajemian says when talking about sexual abuse in the Family. It's no more possible to talk about the Family and sexual abuse than it is to talk about the Arctic and not mention snow. It's the same with the whole Christian element of the Family. So the point I want to discuss is this:
I believe that some exmembers hesitate to stand against or expose the Family because they believe that "nevertheless the gospel is preached." What this works out to mean is, "Sure the Family was crap station central when it came to controlling people, beating down, sexual abuse, victor camps, etc. but you know, you have to forgive them just like God does because after all, they made their mistakes but they're doing so much good preaching the gospel. And obeying God by preaching the gospel is really in the end, what counts."
I think in a truly sane environment this discussion would not even have to take place, but it takes a while to come out from under the cult's mindset, so bear with me.
The first thing that comes to mind is that the above is not necessarily a conclusion that exmembers come to after giving the matter a lot of thought. Rather, it comes from having read so many Mo Letters and PR brochures where this very line of reasoning was promulgated by the cult to protect themselves from "persecution".
I think people that are willing to wink and turn a blind eye to the horrendous abuses that the Family is guilty of, and either say, "Well, I have good memories. I'm sorry if other people suffered." Or if they say, "Leave them alone cause they're just trying to do good works and preach the gospel" have simply refused to even read the Bible where Jesus condemned such hypocrisy (Mat.23). They're in a state of Mo Letter-induced denial, sort of like taking morphine to nullify the pain when they've been wounded, and the people around them have been all shot up to shit in a battle.
Family denial reeks of the Pharisaical stench of nicely-whitewashed tombs covering up tombs full of dead men's bones, ravening and wickedness. Yes, I understand that some individual Family members have sincere faith and are not completely stained with all the sins abuses and criminal policies of the group, but we also know that a significant number of members embrace a harsh, legalistic, totalitarian brand of Christianity that allowed all these abuses.
Now, if the Family was just a kooky group with weird beliefs I wouldn't be so bothered. But the strange doctrines and beliefs are not the primary issue. It's not like you can say, well, if they only hadn't gotten into the sexual abuse and the victor camps, then let them believe what they want. No. The underlying issue is that David Berg made the Family a replicate of his harsh, unmerciful, self-righteous, controlling personality. And once you control people you can get them to grin and believe WHATEVER new doctrine showed up in the mailings. Control was at the heart of everyone buying into the weirdness and at the heart of all the abuses.
I also think that some first generation adults refuse to process the information about all the sexual abuse, mental/physical/spiritual destruction that took place in the victor camps frankly because they don't want to deal with it. To admit they were in a destructive cult, they would have to realize that they wasted 15, 20, 25 years of their life! Instead of saying, "Yes, bad stuff happened, but we did a lot of good," they'd have to realize they were used, deceived and abused in a mind-control cult and wasted almost every bit of those years and devastated an entire generation of the children raised in the group.
For some people, that's a lot to deal with. It's like somebody comes along and just tears out a 20-year gap from your life and you're left having to explain why in hell you could have been so deceived and mucked up so bad and stayed in a group that long. It's like the morphine starts to wear off and your left naked and exposed, facing the pain. Well, all I can say is that that is the ONLY way to healing.
To continue to live in denial may seem to be a "nice" way of keeping your world together and making sense, and to avoid dealing with the pain, but it is NOT the way to find wholeness as an individual, and it is NOT facing the facts.
I apologize to any SGAs reading this who wonder why in hell basic stuff like this even has to be written, but obviously I'm writing this for FGAs (and maybe a few second generation) who need to come to terms with why they are still drifting in a candyland type of mindset about where the Family is at. To explain why people can be in denial about such institutionalized abuse in the Family, there is no way to avoid discussing the "Christian" reasons.
While some Family members are genuine Christians, I certainly do not think there is any way to view the Family as a "Christian group." I don't care how many sweet songs they can sing or how much they moan that they love Jesus as they masturbate to him, when we are looking at the group we are looking at a perversion and a cheap imitation. For exmembers with Christian faith trying to disentangle the truth from what had become an abusive cult, this can be pretty devastating to come to terms with.
With all due respect to the coordinators, I feel that when Christianity is tightly entwined with spiritual, mental and physical abuse, we should not simply dismiss a discussion of the issues to the spiritual "Journeys" board.