Sometimes it is just easier to hear the truth from a totally unbiased source. It can be very hard to listen to people's stories and not wonder if their memory is truly good, if they are exaggerating the truth in any way or if they might be outright lying. I understand this.
One of the most helpful things for me in this whole process was to read from those who were not talking about my particular group or even denomination. It was in looking at what they were saying and seeing the stark reality of how closely our group paralleled an abusive environment that I was able to understand that what we were doing was harmful.
I found another resource this week that again will cause you to re-evaluate all that we did and participated in while at this Church.
Stephen Martin, a counselor from Wellspring in Ohio (a group that helps people coming out of controlling groups and/or cults) has written a clear, concise book about how mind control works in a group.
He says in the introduction, "Suppose you move to a different area, and are keeping your eyes open for a good group to belong to (a social club, a church, a synagogue, or service organization). You visit one such group where the people are very friendly, loving, and give you individual attention. The group has a variety of programs: a rehabilitation program for drug addicts, services and nursing homes for the elderly, help for the poor, and free clinics. The leader inspires the disillusioned, the disenchanted, and those who have been rejected elsewhere. He is well-known and respected in the area, and the mayor gave him a position as Director of the City Housing Authority. Would you join this group?" - You just joined Jim Jone's group! He goes on to explain his book this way, "Are there any warning signs that a group and its leader are dangerous? That’s largely what this book is about. "
Now I'm NOT saying that this Church will start passing out the Kool-aid next Sunday. I am saying that if you will read this it will become clear to you why the abuse keeps happening and why story after story continues to churn out of this group of people's lives being destroyed and their faith shaken.
It is NOT WRONG to read and consider an opposing viewpoint. If you went to a dealership and wanted to buy a particular model of car and the salesman, after explaining all the wonderful features of the car urged you to NOT go and read Consumer Report's review on this car nor hear anyone's concerns on the web about this car, you would be the FIRST to go and look that up. Information, even from those who are in disagreement, is not "Poison" to read. If you cannot look at the opposing viewpoint and refute it within your own heart and mind then you truly are not "free" as you claim.