I was raised in the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church from birth. Nearly every aspect of my life was controlled through the church. The IFB is a very strict fundamentalist sect of Christianity which has a large overlap with the Quiverfull movement. As a member of this cult, I attended Hyles-Anderson College and Pensacola Christian College, two of the strictest fundamentalist Christian colleges in America.

I had doubts about the IFB for a few years, but my eyes were truly opened in 2012 when a pastor I had known for most of my life was arrested for sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl who was a church member. This was the catalyst that led to me leaving the IFB and the evangelical movement as a whole.

My journey and deconstruction has been a long process that has taken many years. This eventually led me to start a podcast to tell my story and share my research, in hopes of helping other people who are on their way out of the IFB or any other oppressive religious group. This podcast is called the Leaving Eden Podcast. I am excited to be in a place where I feel comfortable talking about my experiences!

Ask me anything about cults, high pressure groups, christianity, fundamentalism, and the history of fundamentalism!

Proof: Here's my proof!

Edit: 3:08 pm - I’m taking a break but will be back later this evening to catch a few more questions. And yes, I promise to get to all of the Q-anon related questions!

Comments: 751 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

knitmeriffic509 karma

What's something that surprised you about how people outside of the IFB connect and relate to one another?

LeavingEdenPodcast1068 karma

It's still strange and shocking to me that men and women outside the IFB ride in cars together and exist in rooms together without a chaperone. We were not allowed to be alone with the opposite gender, ever, because the IFB taught that that was too much temptation for anyone to handle. Of course, I've existed in cars and rooms with men alone and managed to survive without throwing myself at anyone or being struck down with lightning from above, but the whole thing still feels "off" and strange to me.

Rob_T_Firefly282 karma

How do you react to the concept of people who aren't heterosexual being alone together with someone of their own gender?

LeavingEdenPodcast540 karma

I'm not heterosexual (I'm proudly bisexual, just didn't know it while I was in a cult), but I don't feel as awkward alone in a room with a woman. The cult sees any non-straight identity as a sin, not a real part of who a person is, so it's not addressed in the rules. Therefore, it wasn't brainwashed into me.

awaregarurumon96 karma

Oh, excellent question. I feel this way with the people that "doesn't allow" their partner to hang out 1on1 with a person of the gender they're attracted to.

Bi/pan folks are doomed with that mentality lol. I assume that in a this cult homosexuality wasn't disclosed or "treated" so there aren't people who "isn't heterosexual"

LeavingEdenPodcast236 karma

Yes, the rules don't account for non-straight people because that's a "sin". The rules about not being alone are also related to the concept that men have uncontrollable sex drives and if a woman tempts them, it's not really their fault if they have sex with her or assault her. Which, of course, is a mentality that is harmful to everyone and twice as harmful to women*.

*I use the binary language here because that's what the cult believes.

marlenshka405 karma

When did you first notice that your family was different from the outside world and how did you process that back then?

LeavingEdenPodcast831 karma

I always knew we were different, because being "different" is seen as a positive in the fundie world. I was hearing about how "God has called us to be a peculiar people" and "if you look different and act different you're doing it right" in church pretty much from birth.

The main things I noticed as a kid were clothing and TV shows - by age 4 or 5 I was definitely noticing that other kids on the playground were wearing pants, while I was wearing skirts or culottes, and I wasn't allowed to watch the same shows as other kids my age (Teletubbies and Barney were both banned). But I was hearing about "being different" and why those things were sinful in church, so I knew why I was different. My perception was "I should feel bad for those kids, because their parents don't love them enough to teach them to do right." Which is terrible, both because it's self-righteous and also because little kids shouldn't have to be concerned about things like that.

Not-A-Lonely-Potato47 karma

What were you allowed to watch then?

LeavingEdenPodcast167 karma

Mr. Rogers was allowed. Really old Tv shows like I Love Lucy, the Andy Griffith show, Leave It To Beaver, Bonanza, Gunsmoke. My parents watched Star Trek (TOS) but only let us watch the episodes without fanservice women in revealing clothing….so only a few episodes. Old tapes of Bugs Bunny and Looney Toons cartoons that had been edited down to remove anything potentially offensive (like when Bugs Bunny put on femme clothing 🙄).

BravesMaedchen61 karma

I just met a woman the other night whose mom edited Disney movies so they were free of anything "sinful" and let her watch what was left. She described The Little Mermaid plot as "She wants legs, all of a sudden, boom! She's on land and has legs!" and had no idea who Ursula was when she watched it as an adult. I guess they didn't care about Ariel only wearing a seashell bra.

LeavingEdenPodcast68 karma

We weren’t allowed to watch the little mermaid because of her “immodest” seashell bra! I also didn’t see Aladdin or The Lion King until I was an adult, but some older Disney movies like Cinderella and Snow White were okay.

Incantanto18 karma

what on earth is sinful about the teletubbbies?

havingababypenguin33 karma

This is the correct answer. This is what IFB believed.

LeavingEdenPodcast24 karma

Can confirm.

oregonspruce309 karma

I know of a cult on the coast of Oregon. I did some construction for them. It was the creepiest thing I've ever seen, the leader called himself Amadon, he was in trouble for grooming a young woman from south Africa and getting her to the US and married her in a state where it's legal for the bride to be 14 if I remember right. The parents couldn't do much because she didn't want to leave. He called all the young women monkeys and all the older ones dogs, would whistle for the and they would come running. Long story short, I started asking questions with the locals and was told by all of them to STFU about it and leave it alone, on top of that one of the local cops followed us around town and harassed us. Well one night I was walking back to my hotel from the bar, I turned a corner and there was that cop. That was the last thing I remember, I woke up on the side walk jaw broken in two spots and my bottom teeth was kicked through my lip. Story gets crazier from there but I want to get to my question. What if anything can I do to stop this?? He had a building like a hotel on the property that easily had 50 to 75 rooms.

LeavingEdenPodcast134 karma

I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but there's not much you can do to shut down an institution if the members are there voluntarily. Now, if there was a whistleblower who had escaped and would tell their story/press involuntary imprisonment charges, that might do something. I don't know our state laws on whether an underage marriage from another state is recognized here, but if you could prove that there was an underage marriage maybe the state would have to investigate? However it sounds like from your story that this group has well-placed allies. Oregon gets the reputation for being full of pot-smoking, Subaru-driving hippies, but it's also full of cults.

religionscholarama298 karma

Was there any variation among IFB families in how extreme some families were compared to others? Were some families more radical and others less?

What was the attitude of the IFB toward health care?

This last question might be a strange one, but from my studies I’ve found if there is any commonality among people from different religions and even different cults you will always find people who love ice cream. Do IFB people, at least some of them, like ice cream?

I’ll keep this to a minimum because if my handle is any indication I study cults and fundamentalists and I don’t want to bombard you with questions.

LeavingEdenPodcast507 karma

  1. Yes, there is a LOT of variation. And it does typically go by family, and also by church. I talk a lot about this on the podcast, but Independent Baptists fall into "camps". Each church is independent and makes its own rules, but they tend to fall into association groups based on what prominent pastors they follow and what Bible college the pastor of their church attended. So a church will be at a certain point on the scale of fundamentalism - let's say the church is a 7 on a 10 point strictness scale. Families within that church might range between a 6 and an 8 on a 10 point scale, but it would be rare to see a family that's a 4 on the scale attend a church that's a 9 on the scale, or vice versa.
  2. The attitude toward health care in the IFB has a lot of variation as well. There are some churches that are fairly anti- modern medicine, likely to have an anti-vax bent (for all vaccinations, not just Covid), and do a lot of home remedies and homeopathy, and there are other churches that are much more moderate, in line with typical American evangelicalism. The beliefs of the pastor's *wife* actually have some bearing here.
  3. Yes, many IFB people love ice cream. Food is the one allowable vice in a group that bans premarital sex, gambling, smoking, drinking, and movies, so dessert is A Big Thing. I also personally love ice cream.

religionscholarama157 karma

What might a less-extreme IFB family do that a more-extreme family would not?

LeavingEdenPodcast444 karma

I hope it's okay to continue using my completely arbitrary 10-point strictness scale:

A family that's a 4/10 might have a TV but watch only PBS and other kids' programs, rent G and PG rated movies for their children, and rent PG-13 rated movies for the parents to watch after the kids go to bed, but feel bad about the cuss words.

A family that's a 6/10 might have a TV but watch nothing on live TV except for Fox News, and rent or own only G-rated movies and 1950's type movies for their kids, and maybe PG rated for adults. (This is roughly where my family was in childhood, we got a little less strict when I was a teen).

A family that's an 8/10 or higher would not own a television.

foohydude5108 karma

At this point I feel the need to ask about books. I realize that this is all contingent on how strict the family is, but what sorts of reading materials were frowned upon?

Also, would you say that less extreme "churches" within the IFB would still be classified as a cult? Why or why not? How can the entire movement retain a cult identity if the churches are only loosely associated with each other?

LeavingEdenPodcast189 karma

I read Anne of Green Gables (fundies LOVE it!), Nancy Drew books (shockingly feminist!), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, and other pre-1950's childrens' classics. I also read abridged childrens' versions of classics like Black Beauty and Oliver Twist. As a teen, frustrated with my education, I read a lot of classics of my own volition: Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, Shakespeare, and Poe were some things I enjoyed. Modern childrens' books were seen as suspicious but not overtly banned, but YA literature was not allowed. I grew up during the Twilight era (graduated high school 2011) and Twilight was seen as uber-Satanic and immoral. Harry Potter was also outright banned. We did an episode on what literature was taught in my school if you're interested in more, it's the August 23 episode "Back To School Special: Banned Books"

I use the BITE model to classify what is and isn't a cult. There are IFB churches that show some of the elements of cult control but not all, so I would call them "cult-like" but stop short of calling them "a cult". The churches are independent in governance but depend on each other so heavily for doctrine, rules, and interpretation of scripture that they behave more like a denomination with no formal structure or head. The formal leadership structure doesn't exist, but the informal structure and hierarchy is very strong. While some individual churches might not be cults, the movement and the group as a whole shows every element of cult control from the BITE model.

zotrian157 karma

Does the IFB practice shunning? As in, are you still in contact with loved ones inside the group?

Anzu-taketwo224 karma

Not OP, (sorry if I'm overstepping)but I was in the IFB for 20 years. Most churches do what OP said. one church I attended was an exception. Fairhaven Baptist Church taught shunning. If your kid left the church you were expected to cut contact completely. The only exception to that was if you were inviting them to church or otherwise trying to bring them back in. Siblings wouldn't speak to each other. I was there to attend their "college" and if a student left we couldn't speak to them anymore. If we got caught emailing or texting them, we risked being expelled ourselves.

The pastor at the time actually preached several times while I was there that the reason the former church members weren't coming back was because the family members hadn't cut contact. As in, if they would follow his teachings teachings not speak to them, they'd come back. So, he placed the blame for them staying away from church on the family for not shunning them hard enough.

LeavingEdenPodcast172 karma

Hello Anzu! <3 I'm glad you stepped in here, I knew there were some IFB churches that did practice shunning but didn't have a personal example. That second paragraph is so terrible and so typical of the blaming and shaming that happens in the IFB.

LeavingEdenPodcast222 karma

They don't practice shunning in the way you're probably thinking, where people are not allowed to speak to or acknowledge those who have left at all. There is a definite loss of community and structure when someone leaves, but in most IFB groups it isn't a strict shunning. If a person left, their family would still be "allowed" to speak to them - but the family would be encouraged not to spend a lot of time around them lest they be infected with their "worldly" thinking. If a person left, they would still be invited to family Christmas, still be allowed to text and call their family, but the family would be encouraged to try to re-convert them and not to be around them if they are doing anything sinful, like drinking alcohol for example. So the way this plays out is that the person who left and the family end up having a lot of tension because their beliefs are in so much opposition, and often they eventually cut each other out and stop speaking just because the pressure and disagreements are too great.

I am still facebook friends with a few people from inside the group. I'm not what I'd call "close" to any of them anymore, but a few years ago when I was newly out I had friends who got out more slowly/later than I did. There was a certain coolness in the relationship until we were both out and that tension was gone.

Opus_60141 karma

I’d love to hear about your experience at Pensecola Christian? My boyfriend’s younger sister just started her first year there (was raised IFB and homeschooled through Abeka before), and I’m just worried about her development and lack of exposure to the real world. ALSO, adore your podcast.

LeavingEdenPodcast283 karma

Pensacola Christian College is strict, and they absolutely have toxic traits, but I'd rather do a full semester there than two weeks at Hyles-Anderson. I don't mean to praise them too much but they are FAR from the worst. PCC has a healthy subculture of students who don't take the whole thing too seriously, and she will at least be exposed to people outside the IFB. I had a Presbyterian roommate there who was great at challenging my beliefs, although I appreciate her input much more in retrospect than I did then. I also had a friend who got through chapel and mandatory church services through clever employment of a tie flask. I hope she finds that type of people to keep her grounded in the real world.

The separate stairwells for men and women thing is just weird, that's the kind of thing that makes transitioning to the real world awkward.

If you want to gently shove her in the right direction, tell her to ask fellow students about "Club Egypt." DO NOT mention this to staff, she will get sent up to whoever is running DC now real quick.

Edit: ok since everybody wants to know: Club Egypt is a PCC campus legend about an underground “nightclub” that was run out of one of the boys’ dorm rooms for a period of time more than a decade ago. I think it was probably real but that the stories of sneaking girls in in trench coats and the rumor that they had a disco ball are probably exaggerations, just because I think the logistics wouldn’t have worked. Now, it serves as a shibboleth - if you’re a PCC student who knows about that legend and is willing to talk about it, you’re “cool” and you identify yourself as someone who is willing to bend or break the rules. Mentioning it around staff will get you in trouble.

Darryl_Lict124 karma

Are you still a Christian? Do you belong to a new church?

LeavingEdenPodcast229 karma

I would still consider myself a Christian, although my beliefs are a bit "out there" even for regular Christians - for example, I think God is real but I don't think that Hell or the Rapture are likely real. I am in the process of converting to Catholicism, and I went into detail on my reasoning for that in another comment downthread.

Rather_Unfortunate139 karma

For what it's worth, in the UK that's pretty standard for Christian beliefs. People who believe in the Rapture or eternal punishment for non-Christians are very much seen as the ultra-fanatical odd ones out. The question of Jesus' divinity itself is often met with a shrug and a "who cares?"

LeavingEdenPodcast29 karma

I like that. I have my opinions on those "big" beliefs like Jesus' divinity or even the existence of God, but as weird as this sounds, they aren't the foundation of my faith.

smilemeditation121 karma

I have family in the Homestead cult in Waco TX. It BLOWS MY MIND that they haven’t been arrested or disbanded yet. It’s a horrible community. Thankfully many of my cousins have escaped. How come so many cults can just keep on going without investigation or disbandment?

LeavingEdenPodcast67 karma

The other commenters on this question all have good thoughts similar to mine. Groups that don’t hold members physically captive can get away with a lot because the members just say they’re there willingly. It’s the downside of freedom of religion. Of course I support freedom of religion, but it makes it almost impossible to shut down cults.

13ventrm103 karma

May I ask how your initial doubts were seeded, and is there anything outside folks can do to help in that regard for others in similar situations? I imagine it must have been so difficult to even entertain them having been stuck in that environment from birth.

LeavingEdenPodcast179 karma

I went VERY into detail on this on the episode we released today, but I'll give you the short version! I felt that the beliefs that the IFB had about salvation and hell didn't match with the beliefs they had about a merciful God. That opened the door of doubt when I was a preteen. Through my teens, there were more things that didn't make sense to me and I couldn't reconcile. Then a trusted pastor who I had been taught to be very devoted to committed a crime (linked in my original post up top) and that pushed me over the edge into "this is not for me."

It was really difficult. This group had determined every aspect of my life and my worldview, and I felt like I had lost everything. I was completely bewildered and I didn't know what I believed about anything.

What you can do for others is let them know that you are a safe person to come to when they have doubts. They need to know that they can trust you to keep confidentiality and not to judge them when they are working through cognitive dissonance. Ask them questions and let them talk it out. If you build enough trust that you are the person they come to when they have doubts, if they trust that you are going to be there without judgment and without an agenda, you will be able to help them.

Hbheathen93 karma

Hi we went to the same church, are you doing ok after leaving? I left a while ago and I know some of us got out ok but there are others who are just so damaged and it breaks my heart.

LeavingEdenPodcast74 karma

Love your username!!! I'm doing alright. Some days better than others, but overall I'm very happy with my life and I feel like healing is going really well.

WiserandUnsure80 karma

How common is the sister-momming seen in the Duggar family?

How well do you think children are prepared for life? It seems like the Duggar girls were so busy trying to tread water with the outsized responsibilities placed on them that they didn’t learn a lot of skills that would actually help them in running a household. Again, is this just this family or do you think it’s a product of girls being taught by other girls who haven’t had great educations, training of the time and space to really learn? I ask because I grew up in a patriarchal religion (not related to IFB) but a small family and was surprised at the lack of basic life skills being shown for the girls in spite of their appearing to essentially run the house.

On a related note, what are typical employment situations for men? Are the boys encouraged to get higher training and education to be able to provide for large families?

Congratulations on your podcast! Leaving an oppressive religious group is difficult. I hope you’ve managed to get the help you need.

LeavingEdenPodcast83 karma

I think it's fairly common, but the probability goes up with the number of children. I only had two siblings (both younger) and I did a little bit of sister-momming myself because my parents were busy with church responsibilities. It's a trend even outside of the IFB that people who focus so much on women's role being domestic don't actually teach excellent homemaking skills - you'll see this in tradwife content as well. I haven't formed a theory on why it's this way yet.

Typical employment for men would be anything that doesn't require Sunday work. The IFB in particular is geared toward blue-collar workers, which I talk about in the Hyles First Family of Fundamentalism episodes. Jack Hyles in particular, who was the de facto leader of my section of the IFB, purposely marketed himself toward steel mill workers. The IFB seems to attract construction workers as well. Men are encouraged towards traditionally "manly" jobs but it isn't a requirement.

That last paragraph refers to men who join the church as adults. Boys who are raised in the IFB from birth are expected to go to Bible college and become pastors or missionaries. I talk about the reasoning behind this in depth in episode 23: "Called to Preach".

Thank you! I have gotten a lot of help, done a lot of work on myself, and talking about this is actually very cathartic for me.

Journalist-Recent65 karma

Is the csa as rampant as it’s said to be? (Sorry not a nice question)

LeavingEdenPodcast185 karma

It's a valid question and a horrible reality for so many people. Short answer, yes.

According to RAINN about one in nine girls and one in 53 boys are sexually assaulted before age 18. Based on the stories I have heard and the small sample size of people who have chosen to share their stories with me, I estimate that at least 25% but as high as 50% of girls growing up in the IFB are sexually assaulted. It's an environment that gives unchecked power to men. Not all men and not all IFB men are abusers, in fact, far from it - but those who are inclined to hurt women and children have way, way too much access and lack of accountability.

claradox55 karma

We have many churches in our area (Central Virginia with both very small parking lots (12 to 15 cars, maximum) and extremely few, if any, windows. This has always made me uncomfortable. Would you consider these warning signs for churches?

LeavingEdenPodcast91 karma

Great question! I wouldn't necessarily consider this a warning sign. I worked for a small Methodist church that fits this description and they were the least culty, sweetest, kindest people. (Actually, they didn't even have a parking lot, people just parked on the grass/gravel outside the building.)

What you're seeing is a function of the direction evangelicalism has gone. Often churches will split over issues big or small, and after a few generations of that you get a town of 16,000 people with 40 churches, and 20 of them are splintered off from one original church. It wouldn't be enough for me to worry about them being a cult, personally.

That being said, I agree that churches with no windows aren't the most aesthetically pleasing and I don't particularly like being in them.

AnuZLeakage49 karma

If you had to choose between elastic arms or being able to produce electricity shocks like an electric eel what would you prefer?

LeavingEdenPodcast98 karma

I would love elastic arms so I wouldn't have to crawl under my baby's crib every day or two to confiscate her pacifier stash.

casa_laverne48 karma

Hi Sadie!! I'm so glad you (and probably Chuck) are here!

I'd love to learn more about your choice to become Catholic, how you reconcile that decision with the systemic sexual abuse, abuse and murder of indigenous children, and irish unwed mothers and babies (shoutout to Behind the Bastards for coverirng that one). This is something I have a hard time with as someone very culturally Catholic.

I'm also curious about the rest of your family's journeys out of the IFB and where they've landed, though those stories might not be yours to tell.

Baptist is such a huge umbrella term. Which other subgroups within it raise red flags?

LeavingEdenPodcast71 karma

Chuck is indeed nearby, she's watching Law and Order in the living room with her dad.

I knew I'd get asked about Catholicism, and I also know that no answer I could give is going to be perfect, but I'll do my best. I've described myself as a Christian Humanist. At this time in my development and growth, I don't believe in "one true way to Heaven" or the concept that people who don't believe the right things go to Hell. I think if there is a hell, and I'm not convinced of it, people who are truly evil go there. So the idea that someone else has to believe what I believe is completely irrelevant to me.

I also can't buy in to the idea that I am (or my religion is) somehow The One that's magically right about everything. Instead, I believe that religion should serve people, should give them peace, give them structure, and motivate them to be better humans - that's what my faith does for me. Catholicism happens to be the subset of religion that, out of the ones I've explored, makes *me* want to be a better *me*.

The church has done and supported some unspeakably horrible things, and my only answer to that is that the church, corporately and individually, needs to repent. Now. Apologize. Make reparations. Change anything that needs to be changed to make sure those things never happen again. I recognize and try to live out every day the fact that by choosing to join the church I am taking on the responsibility of living out that repentance in my personal life (through educating myself, personally paying reparations, supporting causes both with my time and money, etc.) and doing everything I can as a member of the church (one day) to bring about that corporate repentance.

So to sum it all up: I'm joining the church because it's best for me, but I believe that I am taking on the responsibility of change both in my personal life and in the church as a whole, to the full extent that I am able.

I don't go into detail on my family's stories, because like you said, they aren't mine to tell. But I can say they're all still Christian but not IFB, and that I'm very proud of every single one of them. I've watched my family grow into more loving, compassionate people and I couldn't be prouder of them.

For your last question, I've become wary of the Southern Baptist denomination recently - if you google "southern baptist pirates" you can read more about the fractured groups within the denomination. Any independent Baptist church has the potential to show the signs of being a cult, although there are many that aren't truly cults. It seems like the SBC is going the same direction, although I think the ratio of "not cults" to "cults" is far better for the SBC than the IFB.

booobsmcgeee46 karma

I’ve been TTC for over a year now. I’ve learned SO MUCH about my body that I didn’t learn in school and I’m so shocked at how little I knew. We were taught a decent amount in public school but not enough.

As someone who grew up in a cult that heavily encourages abstinence AND a new mom, how do you feel about your prior “sex” education? How did it affect you while trying to get pregnant, your pregnancy, and delivery?

LeavingEdenPodcast63 karma

Fantastic question. At risk of TMI, I had zero idea about ovulation until I started TTC. I knew about sperm/eggs/implantation from having researched to find my new beliefs about abortion. I don't remember when I learned about the mechanics of sex but I'm sure it was sometime in the 18-20 range. If I hadn't done some rebellious research, the cult would have intended for me to learn about that about 90 days before getting married.

I am really glad I didn't get pregnant sooner into getting out. I think I was far enough removed from it that it only affected me minimally during pregnancy. I did have a PTSD flashback during labor, which, 0/10 do not recommend. Baby Chuck is worth it though.

I am very much in support of better sex ed for everyone. I had to give the "this is how pregnancy works" talk to a secular, never-fundie coworker - she knew about sex of course, but nothing about the actual physical mechanics of pregnancy.

Edit to add: good luck TTC! <3

Southernderivative13 karma

Is there any reason behind the 90 days out from your wedding date? I’m actually surprised it’s not closer to the wedding date just from my own research on fundamental Christianity.

LeavingEdenPodcast22 karma

It’s what Jack Hyles said to do, and people just took it as the ideal.

agirlnamedbreakfast38 karma

So stoked you're doing this AMA, Sadie! I have two questions, one more general and one more personal:

  1. If someone is proselytizing at me (not sure that's exactly the grammatically correct way to say it, but, you know, trying to convert me) how can I "escape" the situation quickly without being mean to them/hurting their feelings? (Where I live, I mostly come across this with Scientologists, and I feel bad because I know these are folks in a legit cult doing emotionally draining work for little or no pay and I don't want to make their day worse by being a jerk.) What were the nicest/kindest ways people told you "no thank you" back in your soul-winning days? What did you actually appreciate?

  2. Did you explore any other religions or Christian denominations between leaving the IFB and finding Catholicism?

LeavingEdenPodcast82 karma

  1. I recognize your username from our sub, so I figure you've heard the "break the script" episode, but for those who haven't, it has several options for how to treat people who are trying to convert you. The biggest thing I appreciated when out soulwinning was when people gave me a bottle of water or a snack - it's so hard out there and that kindness goes a LONG way towards helping people get out, they WILL remember that when they examine their beliefs about "everyone outside our group hates us and are horrible people". I feel like saying things along the line of "no thank you, I'm happy with my current beliefs" or, if they continue to press you, "I'm not going to discuss that with you today, but I hope you do have a nice day" can work to end the conversation. It really hurt my feelings when people said that second one with a sharp tone, because I was not familiar with the concept of boundaries! So if you're going to use it and your goal is to avoid hurt feelings, you'd want to say it warmly.
  2. I at least did some cursory research into most major Christian denominations. I also looked into some other major world religions, and I do not deny that brainwashing may be a large part of why I did remain within the Christian multiverse - see other comments on not being at all convinced that this is the one and only true way! The ones I came closest to considering joining were the Episcopal church and Unitarianism. It came down to how deeply the Mass speaks to me and how it doesn't trigger me because it's so far from my upbringing.

maxito988 karma

Did you at any point become so disillusioned with religion because of IFB that you considered becoming atheist? As you said, "brainwashing" could have effected your remaining christian, but was there ever even a short moment when you thought about dropping religion? Perhaps the fact that you couldn't decide immediately which denomination to convert to may have triggered thoughts of doubting the religion overall? To be clear, I'm not criticizing you or general religion, I'm just curious about one component of your thought process throughout the entire ordeal.

LeavingEdenPodcast45 karma

Yes! I actually considered myself an agnostic for several years. I would have said "God probably isn't real, but I don't really know." Now I'm more in the camp of "I'm 99% sure God is real." Religion for me is a balancing act of building a life that I will be proud of and happy with regardless of the outcome. I'm working to live in such a way that if I die and find out God is exactly what I expected, I'm proud of what I did, and if not, I'm still proud of what I did.

CommercialUpset37 karma

How was mental health handled and not handled in IFB? I kind of assume it depended on whether someone was a man, woman, or child? What were the repercussions?

LeavingEdenPodcast87 karma

We just did an episode on this a few weeks ago! Mental health issues were typically seen as either fake, sin, or demon possession. It was primarily seen as a women's issue, with the presumption that men don't have mental health struggles.

Members are told to go to their pastor for "counseling" rather than going to a therapist or psychologist, and the pastor will try to find out what sin they are committing that is making them have mental health symptoms.

NewspaperWide119737 karma

Hi Sadie! First of all, I want to say how much I have enjoyed listening to your podcast. I was raised by fundamentalist evangelical (not IFB) parents, homeschooled, and taught many of the same things you were (including that Kent Hovind was a brilliant scientist 🤦🏻‍♀️).

My question is: what advice you would give to someone who is navigating or walking away from relationships with family members and friends who are deep into fundamentalism and/or conspiracy theories?

LeavingEdenPodcast52 karma

Hello there! My advice is: put the oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth before helping the person next to you. If you’re able to try to help them, great, but don’t ever feel bad about going no contact if you need to. Short of walking away, learning to set healthy boundaries can help; a lot of us who grew up fundamentalist never learned how to do that. Use phrases like “this conversation is getting heated, let’s talk about things we agree on today and if you have questions, let’s come back to this another day” - and then see if they’re able to respect that boundary.

screaming_buddha34 karma

Was your family in IBLP/ATI?

LeavingEdenPodcast76 karma

No, we were not, but we knew families who were and I wanted to be! IBLP kids got to hold hands and side hug before marriage and I was so jealous!

I attended fine arts competition at Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln, Illinois, and their pastor at the time, S.M. Davis, was fairly well known in the IBLP at the time due to his writings about "rebellious children" and how to "cure" them. Through that I was associated with quite a few IBLP/ATI kids.

KoffinCat29 karma

I've always been curious about the process of escaping a cult.

Is it typically a slow burn, or do people just one day decide to leave? And what is it like?

LeavingEdenPodcast38 karma

It’s a slow burn. The people who look like they up and left one day had been thinking about it for a long time.

Leaving is such a long process. I felt like it took me about 3-4 years to gain an identity and get my footing outside the cult. I also can’t see a future where there’s not some aspect of life that’s affected by my past. But fortunately, those parts that are affected get smaller and smaller over time.

i_dont_know_h3r28 karma

Thinking about doing an episode on the Plath Family? It’s like Leaving Eden in real time…on TLC of course

LeavingEdenPodcast29 karma

Yes definitely. I feel like I need to watch a good bit of the show to be able to cover it appropriately and I have a seven month old so finding time is a struggle. But this episode is absolutely on our master list of future topics.

kimchiandsweettea17 karma

Hi Sadie! I am a huge fan of the podcast!

I was raised fundie lite, and your podcast is really helping me deal with some trauma I have associated with my upbringing. It’s also helping my partner understand me a bit better when she happens to listen in (and we’ve been together for 6 years!).

I’d like to know if any members of your previous church family dealt with a teen pregnancy. How was the situation handled?

LeavingEdenPodcast19 karma

You would be surprised how many people play the show for their never-Fundie partners! I hear this all. the. time! The ironic thing is my husband doesn’t listen - he’s never listened to a podcast, and my past stories upset him, so we’ve agreed that it’s okay for him only to know the basics.

Teen pregnancy never happened that I was aware of in my church. Most of our teens were staff members’ kids, so we were 1. True believers and 2. Too scared to even hold hands with someone. I feel like there would have been a situation with the potential parents having to confess to the church, and being encouraged to marry if they were old enough, although I don’t think they would have been forced to marry, just a ton of pressure to do it.

WonderfullyWrong16 karma

What is the best PCC story you have? I know a lot of folks who went there and i think because of the whole can’t be around the opposite gender thing, I have heard some absolutely wild stories.

LeavingEdenPodcast47 karma

I got called before the discipline committee because a staff member saw me sharing an umbrella with a male student and it LOOKED LIKE we were touching. She took a picture, which is probably the closest I'll ever get to paparazzi. I talked my way out of it.

I also had a guy tell me he wished my boyfriend at the time would die so that he could date me, but I'm pretty sure that's just a "creepy man" thing and not a "cult" thing.

Stormcrow8615 karma

Were you home schooled K-12? I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist church where my dad was the pastor and I was home schooled the whole time. It was very eye opening when I got my first job.

LeavingEdenPodcast14 karma

My church had a Christian school that used ACE curriculum and then switched to ABEKA towards the end of my time. It was a small school, I think the most students we ever had was about 35-40.

jroddie415 karma

Were the colleges accredited?

LeavingEdenPodcast30 karma

HAC has zero accreditation and is proud of it. Pensacola Christian has TRACS accreditation, which is not on the level of a “real” college but it was enough to get my credits accepted at a “real” college.

pokerchen15 karma

(Re: Fundie and its history) How much of the history of church have you learned before versus after you left? Were you ever taught the lineage of IFB beliefs?
Like, say, like looking at the great family tree of christian denominations as a part of justifying why your beliefs are the right ones.

LeavingEdenPodcast21 karma

I was taught the IFB side of the story through the book Trail of Blood - based on the idea that Baptists are not Protestant because they never exited the Catholic church, but are actually the original Christians. Their information was hit and miss on historical accuracy.

Throwaway0000276311 karma

What are your thoughts about Steven Anderson?

LeavingEdenPodcast41 karma

For my own good, I really try to keep the list of people that I hate very small. Many fundamentalist preachers I'm able to keep off that list and on the "strongly dislike and disagree with" list. There are four people that I absolutely hate and Steven Anderson is one of them.

We did a two part series on him, it's episodes 30 and 31 from April 2021.

Aside from my personal feelings, I think he is the harbinger of the "next thing" in fringe Christian fundamentalism. He is what happens when the fringe isn't extreme enough anymore. The people he attracts, he attracts BECAUSE he is extreme, unlike other fundamentalists who I think attract people because they are so charismatic that people are willing to accept their extremism. It's like an addiction to extremism.

morganam129 karma

Am I your best friend?😂😂😂 (hiiii love you long time)

LeavingEdenPodcast15 karma

You are my best friend but please don't tell Gavi, he'd be offended hahaha

AnotherThat9 karma

Do you have a favorite color?

LeavingEdenPodcast22 karma

I was hoping someone would ask! It was purple for most of my life but over the past few years I’ve developed a strong affinity for rich, deep blues.

Eats_Dead_Things8 karma

What's the 1st movie you saw after escaping the madness? What did you think?

LeavingEdenPodcast33 karma

My first time EVER going to a movie theater was the week of my 22nd birthday and I saw....Get Hard. Hahahahahaha

Imagine how big and loud a movie theater is to an adult who's never been to one. And remember, I was a cult survivor who was just stepping out of purity culture. There's an extended scene with full frontal nudity in that movie. Now imagine how that went over with me.

(I honestly never learned to like going to the movies. Nothing to do with the 20-foot floppy dick experience, just that I never got used to how BIG and LOUD everything is there.)

spasticspetsnaz5 karma

What distinguishes the IFB from the NIFB? If you're not familiar with NIFB that's totally understandable, just curious.

morganam126 karma

They did an entire episode (maybe 2) in the NIFB!! Super interesting.

spasticspetsnaz7 karma

Good to know. I've seen a lot about them and I was curious about why there was a split. Generally when a group of crazies split, it's the craziest saying the crazy aren't crazy enough.

LeavingEdenPodcast16 karma

Yeah, this is the right idea. Specific end-times prophecy differences, stricter rules on some things, antisemitism, and also "the craziest saying the crazy aren't crazy enough."

Revanov-6 karma

Any orgy parties?

LeavingEdenPodcast9 karma

Certainly none that I was ever invited to, but there are persistent rumors about the son of one of the most prominent IFB pastors.... for more details our October 6, 2020 episode "First Family of Fundamentalism Ch. 3: Sins of the Father" has much more backstory on this.