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Traumatized by Christian Dogma & The Evangelical "Good News Club"

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posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:27 AM
I have changed the title of the article to reflect the part I want to emphasize: how damaging Evangelical hell-fire dogma is to small children. I've placed it in this forum rather than Religion Faith & Theology because I feel that IT IS A CONSPIRACY - and while this is certainly NOT "another Christian bashing thread", I want to bring to light again (yes, I know, it's been discussed here before) how certain fundamentalist teachings damage people - sometimes (if not OFTEN) for life.

The author first describes how his mother 'introduced' him to "Hell."

Mom told me that God hates sin—that is, disobedience—and to punish sin, He prepared a place of eternal fire and torment called Hell. When sinful people died, they went to Hell. It was God’s punishment for sin. Two thousand years ago, God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross. If I believed this, and “accepted Jesus into my heart,” I could escape the torments of hell and enjoy the promise of heaven, where I would live with God forever.
My five-year-old mind pondered with terror and horror a God who hated disobedience so much that He would condemn people to a place of eternal fire and torment. I felt abandoned and alienated. I stared toward the window. The sunlight that once warmed me felt alien, hostile and cold. The sun’s rays symbolized the distant foreboding flickers of a hateful eternal fire waiting to torment the souls of the lost.

I stood there in that room all alone, condemned, diminished and stripped of all human dignity. God hated me for who I was. I didn’t stay in my bedroom long. I went out to the kitchen and asked Mom to help me pray Jesus into my heart. And so I became a Christian. But the alienation I felt on that summer afternoon stayed with me. It became the fearful cornerstone of my understanding of God.

Poor kid. I remember feeling that way, and I was raised in a mainstream Christian Protestant faith - Episcopalian. Much less dogmatic, but the message came through loud and clear - to my young ears.

This man's childhood was extreme, however - much less 'loving' than the way God/Jesus is portrayed in more moderate churches.

Evangelical Christianity employs the Stockholm Syndrome to full effect. God gains obedience and worship by reminding humans of their utter unworthiness, dangling them over hell, and then “saving” them, in exchange for submission, from the very torments he threatens

The author briefly and correctly describes the Stockholm Syndrome:

Stockholm Syndrome frequently manifests when a captor strips the victim of all forms of independence, self-worth and dignity, alternately terrorizing and offering kindness to the victim. The victim embraces the kindness and views the captor as giving life simply by not taking it.

So, the author grew up and adopted a child, an orphan from Ukraine.

I pondered these dogmas with the newly acquired insight and sensitivity of a father. As a vulnerable child, these dogmas had repeatedly attacked, and ultimately destroyed, my self-image and sense of intrinsic value. As early as my pre-teen years, I struggled with low self-image, depression and suicidal ideation. Now it was unmistakably clear: my religious upbringing was the cause.

Next, painful memories surfaced of the countless stories from Good News Club lessons I attended every week of every summer between the ages of 7 and 10. There are thousands of GNCs operating in public schools, churches and backyards. The sponsoring organization, Child Evangelism Fellowship, is the largest and most influential evangelical ministry directed toward young children, with over 700 staff members and 40,000 volunteers.

Almost every GNC lesson intones that sin—“anything you think, say, or do that breaks God’s laws”—must be punished. The worst sins, of course, are thought crimes: doubt and unbelief. The punishment for sin is death and eternal separation from God. The lessons repeatedly admonish children that they deserve death. One typical GNC lesson text states: “God hates the sinful things you do, like pouting and complaining, or hitting someone. He says you deserve his punishment, which is separation from Him forever in a terrible place called Hell. Have you been set free from the death you deserve for your sin?”

Another recurring GNC lesson theme is about the basic depravity of human nature.

One GNC lesson text informs children that: “your heart, the real you, is sinful from the time you are born.”

Says another: “[t]here was nothing in me, nor in you, that should cause the Lord Jesus to want to love us. All that is in us is sin and selfishness and pride and hatefulness.”

And another: “Even the good things you do aren’t good enough. The Bible says those things are like filthy, dirty rags.”

This is the stuff that sickens me. Small, innocent, gullible children's lives are forever filled with shame and guilt.

GNC’s repeated themes about sinfulness and unworthiness are always “balanced” by reminders of God’s “love,” manifested by the opportunity that each child has, through submissive “belief” in the dogmas with which they are being indoctrinated, to be saved. Children are admonished that even though they are undeserving of love, Christ died and suffered on the cross for them, and so they owe God their worship and whole-hearted surrender.

The author decided he would NOT do that to his own kid; and in the process of fathering his son, he is regaining himself, he is nurturing them both.

I tell him: You are precious; you are beautiful; we longed for you before we ever saw you; before we ever knew who you were, and in the month you were born, I was thinking of you and composing a melody for you; you enrich our lives, and the lives of so many others, with your presence; we will always love and cherish you. Nathan just soaks up the love, and then gives it back. As I tell Nathan these things, I tell them to my inner child too. As I gather Nathan into my arms, pressing his cheek against mine, I embrace my inner child too. As I comfort him, I comfort myself.

PLEASE do not do this to your children, or grandchildren. Do not allow others to do it to their children. Children are our future.
We are seeing now, on the ground, the devastating effects of hard-line fundamentalism - in U.S. Politics attempting to disenfranchise people who don't toe that line - and in the Middle East, where people are being slaughtered, even Chaldean Christian children being beheaded.

CHILDREN, beheaded. That is what happens when extremism is taught to young children. They hardly even have a chance to become functional, tolerant, cooperative adults.

They become monsters....and they show it as violently as their societies allow it.

This sort of "religion" - of ANY faith - is one of the worst problems we have.

Is there any hope?
How do we deal with the now-adults who were indoctrinated like this? Palestinian kids learning to hate all Jews. Evangelical kids believing they are worthless pieces of crap lucky to be alive at all, just to wind up in eternal torture. Preachers hoping Ebola will annihilate those people who live different lifestyles from their own.

Every day, all over the world. It breaks my heart.

edit on 8/8/2014 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:35 AM
fully agree with you, OP.
I grew up under exactly those same circumstances, but thankfully I could see through all the lies and indoctrination, and then people still dare to ask me why I despise Christianity.....

+3 more 
posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:35 AM
a reply to: BuzzyWigs

Evangelical Christianity employs the Stockholm Syndrome to full effect. God gains obedience and worship by reminding humans of their utter unworthiness, dangling them over hell, and then “saving” them, in exchange for submission, from the very torments he threatens

I've been thinking this for a while now. Thought about making a thread about it, but then decided against it since I didn't want to create another Christian bashing thread. But the statement is true.

I've even likened God to an abusive and then absent father. In the OT, God just kills hundreds of people for the sins of a few in his anger (why God would have the human flaw of anger is beyond me, but ok). At one point he even allows the killing of a handful of humans so he can win a BET with Satan (uh... pride too I guess...). Heck half of the ten commandments are about recognizing him (I guess you can throw insecurity into that mix too). Then in the NT, he disappears from all interaction and since then we haven't seen God at all. Yet Christians strive to please this absent father by doing all sorts of things in his name.

Also, I'm an ex-Catholic. So I know ALL about the Christian guilt and hellfire. Such a sick way to get converts. Tell them they will suffer eternally. I would have thought that getting converts through the message of your supposedly "good word" should be enough. Nah, gotta shame them into compliance.
edit on 8-8-2014 by Krazysh0t because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:37 AM
removed post as not valid
edit on 8-8-2014 by pennydrops because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:40 AM
Thanks for your responses.

We have to also remember that each person has unique "sensitivity", and what a child is told about themselves by people they love and trust has a huge impact on their life.

My upbringing was not like that, yet I still suffered from low self-esteem, bewilderment, fear, and confusion. Others brought up in the church I was taken to heard messages of "love, mercy, kindness", etc. But we all hear things differently.

I just wish people could understand that, and realize that raising kids requires being tuned in to who the CHILD is.

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:41 AM
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edit on 8-8-2014 by pennydrops because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:43 AM
a reply to: pennydrops

You are referring to the Great Flood. I was referring to Sodom and Gomorrah. Both are horrific and HUGE overkill for problems that God could have solved with pinpoint precision (he is after all supposed to be omnipotent). So either case could fit.
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posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:46 AM
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posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:47 AM
The concept of hell never really bothered me. I personally think, this is much-ado-about-nothing. Avoid going to 'church,' and find Christ through personal introspection. Most 'church-people' are not good folks, they go to church because they feel they have to, not because they love Christ and want to venerate him. Why? Because you're partially right, people DO fear hell, because they don't really believe in Christ's love, they believe in hell. Why focus on the part where people are punished? Because folks need something to be afraid of. When all you can think about, is the inevitable punishment, I'm pretty sure you've missed the main message. If you walk with God, there is no hell. Not sure why people don't seem to understand that. I hope you find what you're looking for, apparently, it was not in a church. You're in good company though, mine wasn't there either.

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:49 AM
I was raised as an evangelical Christian. I went to a private Christian school from grade 5-10.

Around sixth grade I realized something was very off about my education, about the religious practices.

I used to get in trouble at school, because instead of doing the overly religious school work books (total creationist bs) I was reading the encyclopedia. This caused me to get detentions, and spankings (at school).

I was able to escape to the local high school, where everything that was being taught there at the high school I had learned in 7th grade at the private school. I floated through 11th grade, and spent 12th drinking and smoking with some girls, never going to class. I dropped out three weeks before graduation, and had my GED a week later, where I tested in the upper percentiles.

I struggled with my spirituality for many years. Then I went to Iraq, as an Infantryman. I saw hell. I lived there for a year, I came to realize that Heaven and Hell are here on earth. That we make it.

I truly believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and that we all go back to the creator in the end.

Today I am still a Christian. I do not go to church, because I find most church going Christians to be fake. I believe it was Ghandi who said (and I'm paraphrasing) "I like your Christ, but care nothing for your Christians".

The point is, I have a son, and he is only two, how will I approach his spiritual needs? Easy, I'll answer his questions to the best of my ability and help him make those decisions for himself.

I benefited from my time in the evangelical Christian movement. Today I am far more loving, intelligent, and wise because of my time. I understand why my parents did it, they didn't do it to abuse me, or because they were stupid, they did it because they thought they were doing the best thing for me. I love them for that.

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:51 AM
Since when is making kids fear a loving thing, isn`t fear something of the "Devil," ?

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:52 AM
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edit on 8-8-2014 by pennydrops because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:54 AM
Change it from being about religion and make it about the liberal agenda
being shoved down children's throats in our public schools and I might get it.
You sound like another Liberal trying to take another constitutional right away.
Once the school system gets a hold of them they will squash it out anyway.
Just look at your own experience.

Freedom of religion.
Leave the constitution alone.

By the way Im no fan of fundamentalist, but I am a fan of the constitution.

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:55 AM
Some additional reading about hell:

There is no Hell in the Bible

What is "hell" like, really? Where is it located: here on earth, or in some other dimension? Is it true, or a sinister fabrication? Can the Bible lead us to the truth? Where is "hell" first mentioned in the Bible, and why is it so difficult to find? Why was the punishment of "hell" never mentioned to sinners like Adam, Eve and Cain, or to unbelievers like the people of Sodom and the Pharaoh who defied God repeatedly? Are there Bible verses that clearly describe "hell," explaining its origins and defining its purpose? Hell no! If you study "hell" in the Bible, starting at the beginning, you're in for a long, fruitless search for facts, definitions, explanations, reasons, references and images. Why? Because the Hebrew prophets never mentioned a place where human beings burn in "hell fire," writhing in eternal torment, gnashing their teeth forever. Nor did the prophets ever mention the possibility of any other form of suffering after death. Isn't that extremely odd, if there really is a hell and God wanted human beings to know? The Jewish Bible (Old Testament) mentions a place called Sheol, but as I will demonstrate immediately below—quoting book, chapter and verse—the Hebrew word Sheol clearly means "the grave." The same is true in the New Testament, where the Greek word Hades also clearly means "the grave." Nor does Gehenna mean "hell," as I also explain below. So "hell" is not a biblical teaching at all, but a harrowing mistranslation used by charlatans to brainwash believers into forking over their hard-earned money while toeing moral lines they never bothered to observe themselves. It seems hell hath no fury like a hypocritical moralist out to control other people's behavior while raking in lots of loot. Unfortunately, the people who suffer most from this hellish dogma are highly impressionable children who trust their parents, pastors, youth directors and Sunday School teachers not to mislead them ...

And further from the same source:

Here is a simple, logical proof that there is no reason to believe in "hell," according to the Bible itself:

• There is no mention of "hell" or any possibility of suffering after death anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament (OT).
• The Hebrew word Sheol clearly means "the grave," not "hell." This can easily be confirmed because if Sheol is translated as "hell" the Christian dogma of hell as an inescapable place of suffering apart from God is immediately refuted. This is true because: (1) in Psalm 139:8, King David said that if he made his bed in Sheol, God would be there with him; (2) in Job 14:13, Job asked to be hidden from suffering in Sheol; (3) in Psalm 49:15, the sons of Korah said that God would redeem them from Sheol; and (4) the prophet Ezekiel and the apostle Paul agreed that all Israel would be saved, and yet in Genesis 37:35, Israel himself said that he would be reunited with his son Joseph in Sheol. How can all Israel be saved if Israel himself is in "hell"? In each case Sheol clearly means "the grave" and cannot be interpreted as "hell" unless "hell" is heaven!
• This has been confirmed by conservative Bible scholars because there is no mention of the word "hell" in the OTs of the NIV (the best-selling Bible), the NABRE (published by the Roman Catholic Church), the HCSB (published by the famously literal Southern Baptist Convention), and most other modern translations of the Bible.
• Furthermore, in biblical chronologies spanning thousands of years, the God of the Bible and his Hebrew prophets never mentioned any possibility of punishment after death. Nothing like "hell" was even remotely suggested to Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, et al.
• In fact, "hell" was never mentioned even to the worst people at the worst of times. "Hell" was never mentioned to Cain (the first murderer), nor to the people guilty of the wickedness that led to the Great Flood, nor to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, nor even to the Pharaoh who enslaved the Hebrew tribes and defied God repeatedly.
• We can further verify this because there are also no OT warnings about the need to repent in order to avoid suffering after death. In the OT, people were being warned about the need to repent in order to avoid suffering and death here, on this planet, in this life.
• Of course it makes absolutely no sense to only warn people about temporal (earthly) punishments if they face eternal suffering. Therefore according to the Bible, "hell" clearly did not preexist.
• But there is no mention of the creation or purpose of "hell" in the New Testament (NT) either. Nor is there any verse in the entire Bible that ever announced that the penalty for sin had changed from death to "hell." Why would God clearly announce the penalty of death before it was enacted, but then fail to mention the far more serious penalty of hell before it was enacted? That makes absolutely no sense.
• A loving, compassionate, wise, just God could not create an "eternal hell" and fail to immediately warn the whole world about it. But obviously the whole world was not warned about the creation of "hell." Native Americans knew absolutely nothing about "hell" before 1492. Billions of people have lived and died, never having heard a word about hell or Jesus Christ. Would anyone who had never read the Bible consider God to be just if he died and woke up in hell? Of course not!
• An eternal hell would make God monstrously unjust, if he created it or knew about it and didn't immediately warn the entire world, but according to the Bible "hell" did not preexist and was never created because from beginning to end the Bible is absolutely silent about either the preexistence or creation of "hell."
• Furthermore, the Greek word "Hades" does not mean "hell." As with Sheol, everyone went to Hades when they died: both words clearly mean "the grave."
• Gehenna is not "hell" either, but a physical location in Israel known in Hebrew as Gehinnom, or the Valley of Hinnom. Today Gehenna is a lovely park and tourist attraction. Wonderful archeological discoveries have been made there, such as the healing pool of Siloam and the oldest Bible verses ever discovered, inscribed on small silver amulets. Those verses are the benediction "The LORD bless thee and keep thee; the LORD make his countenance to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee." Those are wonderfully comforting words to have been discovered in "hell," don't you think?
• What does all this mean? If you believe in a loving, compassionate, wise, just God, you might conclude that "hell" has always been either an error of translation or an outright human fabrication. Why would human beings invent hell? Well, as ancient Greek philosophers like Celsus pointed out, "hell" was a good way to control the behavior of the unwashed masses. And "hell" has always been a handy way to increase conversions (perhaps we should call them "coercions"), church attendance and revenues. But what about the emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing of little children? Surely their innocent hearts, minds and souls are vastly more important than the head counts and coffers of churches!

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 09:58 AM
a reply to: pennydrops

I find that hard to believe. There were certainly children among those people in those cities. Newborns up to tweens don't have sex so they certainly wouldn't be raping anyone. I also find it unlikely that the women were raping people as well. That whole account is dubious. Also the idea that EVERY person who entered that city got raped is also highly questionable as well.

I'd actually wager that the Hebrews just didn't like the people there and made up a snuff piece to account for a natural disaster that befell those two cities. It's a lot easier to justify the wholesale slaughter of everyone when you demonize the whole lot of them, but then when you step back and realize that women and children also exist in these cities who wouldn't be doing this things attributed to the citizens all becomes clear.
edit on 8-8-2014 by Krazysh0t because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 10:05 AM
a reply to: Krazysh0t

Not trying to burn you here, but you need to google female rapists. Secondly, pretty sure there is a passage in the Bible about children and teens under a certain age, going to heaven automatically, so child death is not nearly so harsh as it may seem.

posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 10:08 AM
a reply to: Chronogoblin

I know female rape happens, but you are deluding yourself if you believe that is nearly as widespread as male rape is. Children and teens automatically going to heaven doesn't excuse God snuffing out their lives before they have a chance to even do anything wrong.

But ok, if we want to rationalize away wholesale slaughter of entire cities I'll let it slide (I still find it reprehensible though). How about addressing God's little bet with Satan? How is that justified? I'm sure when Job's first family got to heaven and found out that they were killed in horrific ways all so God could win a tiny bet with Satan that one man worships him unquestionable, they'd be more than a little miffed at that.
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posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 10:09 AM
removed as not valid to the thread
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posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 10:14 AM
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posted on Aug, 8 2014 @ 10:15 AM
a reply to: pennydrops

I lost my faith years ago. It wasn't an overnight thing. It happened over the course of my teens, into my service in the Army and finally I came to the conclusion that I am agnostic in my mid-twenties. It took a good 10 - 12 years for me to wipe the brainwashing of the Catholic church out of my head and look at things a bit differently. Since then, I've come to the conclusion that the stories in the bible are GREATLY exaggerated accounts due to them being passed down orally until they could be written down. It's tough to get someone to tell the same story between two different retellings, let alone between MANY generations.

Today, I despise the Bible for its lies. If it could just be looked at for what it is, a collection of mythological beliefs from a time long past, then it would be fine. But too many people try to shape what is written in there to confirm to whatever belief they have in their head. The only redeeming passage I can think of from that book is, "Do unto others as they would do unto you." But you don't need a book of many chapters to say that.
edit on 8-8-2014 by Krazysh0t because: (no reason given)

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