5 Stages

1. Denial.

Nothing is wrong with fundamentalism. The crazy is out there somewhere, not in my church or my school. Sure we have a few problems but doesn’t everybody? We’re still seeing SOULS SAVED and that’s all that matters, amen? Besides, who else out there is right on all the doctrine that matters?

2. Anger

How dare they hurt ME and MINE? I always thought the people who left were complainers and backsliders but now they’ve hurt my kid. They’ve taken my livelihood. They’ve ruined my career goals. I have rage. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

3. Bargaining

Ok, so I have a lot tied up in this whole fundamentalism thing. Maybe it can be saved. Maybe I can be the voice in the wilderness that calls it to change. I’m going to talk to some people. I’m going to write some things. I’m going to see if we can make this church straighten up and fly right. These are good people, surely they’ll listen to reason if I approach them with kindness and logic right?

4. Depression


4b. A Whole Lot More Anger

(It’s right about here that a lot of people start blogs.)

5. Acceptance.

Well, that whole fundamentalism thing was a really weird trip. Hard to believe that was part of my life for so longer. I’m just going to sip this beer and shake my head about it for a while and then I’m going to get up and go live the rest of my life. I’ve got a lot going on these days and some of it is pretty cool. But man, those were some crazy days.

Which stage are you in as of today? I’m somewhere at the end of 4b. and drifting straight into 5.

210 thoughts on “5 Stages”

  1. And I’m a solid 5.

    I’m not really (and I don’t think I ever really was) angry at them. I think some of them really are trying to make it work and do good things, just with a terribly misguide. Some people actually do come to Christ under them, and I’m thankful for that. They just do most things in a misguided, doctrinally skewed way.

    It’s more pity I guess. Where’s the pity stage?

    1. Good point. Where I am depends upon who makes the judgment – former church probably thinks I am just backslidden because I don’t attend their church.

      People who believe that all IFB churches are inherently corrupt or cults or wrong think I’m still in Denial – #1.

      For myself, probably #5 – I remember the shocks when I found out that they weren’t terrible careful with the truth; I didn’t like it, but didn’t think I had any other choices, because all other churches were “liberal” and not “preaching the whole counsel of God”. The leadership regularly did character assassination on those who left; it happened to a friend of mine, and it was clear that the stories being told were at best, exaggerated. This led to depression (#4); feeling trapped with nowhere to go.

      Then a job move came up, and we could get away. Thanking God for that — still in an IFB church, but so much better balanced, and not much pressure to conform; they believe in allowing the Holy Spirit to transform people.

  2. I’m at 5, but visit 2 when I’m watching bits of a fundy sermon ~ not sure where the eye rolling stage is, but I’m there too.

    1. Yes; my family occasionally listens to messages from those held up as “great leaders” by our previous church – but more for entertainment value than anything substantive. We often wind up yelling at the speaker. Sometimes we pause the playback and discuss the errors being promoted.

  3. Nice twist.

    I thought I was at stage 5, with the exception of the type of adult beverage. But then I noticed that my former fundy CEO had gussied up his website in apparent hopes of creating a more pleasant self-image of professionalism and orderliness. The fact that I actually went back on the website tells me that I must not really be in the acceptance stage after all.

    My blood pressure went up and I once again became angry and disgusted at a system that treats their so-called servant-leaders like kings, runs the church like an American corporation, and twists the word of God into a nice and neat piece of candy filled with fundy-relevant proof texts and fundy jargon. This stuff leaves a bad aftertaste.

    Finally, I’m here commenting and reading the thoughts of my friends on SFL, which also tells me that I can’t be in Stage 5. I’d be moving on with my life while putting this series of chapters on the shelf to collect dust until my children come along and put my fundy library in a dumpster or sell it on eBay.

    So why do I still have my fundy library?


    1. I got rid of my entire fundy library. Cleared out fully 1/3 of my books.

      Then I summoned a young priest and an old priest.

  4. Darrell, please tell me this doesn’t mean you’re thinking about giving up this blog

      1. A fear that this is hinting at the rapture of SFL is where my mind went as well….

        But the question is good. Generally, I’m a 5, with bouts of 4b & 4. But are we meant to always be at 5? Has the survivor of abuse who commits their life to counseling those who have been abused somehow never reached a healthy place because they haven’t become nearly apathetic about their past? Let us not, like our funny friends, oversimplify what in real life is complicated and messy.

        More than anything, I’d just enjoy sitting down with Darrell and other SFL friends and discussing this face to face over that beer…

      2. At least wait till all that sweet coffee and wordpress template money stops pouring in…

      3. I hope you don’t give up this blog. I’m a PCC grad as well (2004) moving on from fundamentalism. I just found your site about two weeks ago and I love it. Cheers.

  5. How do you distinguish between 1 and 5? How do I know if I think I’m in 5 but I’m really just in denial? I think I’m in 5 but the closest I come to any adult beverage is a little almond extract in my coffee. Or maybe my homebrew kombucha. Whichever, I’m happy where I am.

    1. My point is, the fundy paradigm of either IFB or unbeliever is false. I reject the notion that being post IFB means I no longer believe in the fundamentals or have somehow moved beyond a deep and abiding faith in the Jesus found in the Bible. I think that is where a lot of folks here are.

      1. Mr. Crosby,

        It sounds to me like you are implying there is a “notion” that being former IFB is a tacit rejection of the fundamentals. I don’t believe that is the purpose here, though there are some here who have certainly rejected the faith as a result of the apparent abuse within fundamentalism.

        For me personally, it was that “abiding faith in Jesus” that actually saved me from fundamentalism. I mentioned above that I have a “fundy library.” After I posted that comment I began to look through the hundreds of theological volumes picking out what I would call “fundy.” Aside from a few BJU Press volumes, I could not really call C. Haddon Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer, Thomas Watson, William Bradford, P. Schaff, or G. Campbell Morgan fundamentalists in the contemporary use of the term. So in all reality, I have hundreds of resources from which I can refer to today without attaching a “fundy” label to any of them. Now, the association will never be severed, nevertheless the value is still present and/or accounted for.

        Now I will say this; some years ago I did locate a Jack Hyles volume which, even before I left fundystan, I considerd unacceptable. I can’t even remember how this cancer worked its way on my shelf. I removed it and refiled it in the circular file on the floor near my desk and next to the shredder.


        1. I agree BR1 I think, practically, the rejection of fundamentalism means thinking for yourself. Whatever it is that you think, do it from your own mind not from the dictates of others.

        2. Certainly the grace aspect of Jesus all-encompassing payment has become more heart-understood since those days. The value for me in this site – even on top of my appreciation for well-crafted snark – is to define the tropes about the lifestyle that I did not realize were common themes. Heck, i didn’t even know how close I was to Hyles-stan until a few months ago I asked my mother why she was so familiar with so many of his sermon titles. It was like I had opened up a box in the attic and discovered I was adopted.

  6. I think I am at 5. Cannot be bothered. There comes a time when they are just no longer part of your life and other things start to fill up the empty spaces. It got better….for me anyway.

    If it wasn’t for the newly escaped who are struggling to find their way I suspect a lot of us wouldn’t be here but then we remember what it was like to leave and not have any support. Don’t want to wish that on anyone. so we try to help where we can.

    1. That is important, elfdream. Having someone who has somehow gotten over things more quickly than you for whatever reason, (not as much abuse, not the depth of betrayal, a sunnier disposition) tell you that they have moved on and no longer want to hear about your hurt and if you stop talking about it you will get better, is very harmful.

    2. I’m here for the good times.

      When I first came I still had kind of a fundy mentality. Now, not so much.

      I need the levity despite having left the compound physically and mentally.

      I also need to hang with like-minded people.

  7. Acceptance. Although I still see evidence of my past rearing its ugly head from time to time.

      1. Just exit stage right as I enter in grand fashion from stage left and you can pick whatever river makes you happy.

  8. Darrell clearly can see right into my soul. Its a little scary.

    I am a solid Step 5 – with only occasional visits to the early stages

    I could put dates on the transitions if I thought about it long enough. But that would require me to leave Step 5 where I am perfectly content to stay thank you very much.

  9. I’m a 5 (about 9 years after leaving fundyland), but all it takes is a fundyland trigger like some facebook foolishness or some screamin’ fundy wannabe preachers to send me back a couple of steps temporarily. And yes, unfortunately wannabe fundy preachers do exist even for Catholics, and I don’t listen to anything from St. Joseph Communications for this reason.

    Call me Lot’s wife, but there are still some days if I wonder if I made the right choice to leave fundyland. I KNOW that I did, but there are still some days….

  10. You forgot 6. Not remembering being a fundamentalist.
    Old farts are blessed to have this stage.

  11. I think I left early enough that I am at acceptance in terms of my own life. In terms of friends still trapped in Fundystan, I’m angry.

  12. And all Gods Presbyterians said amen. Actually we never said amen to anything regarding so-called fundamentalists. We just view them with mild distain and are glad to not associate with them.
    Then some of us feel empathetic, in case they truly are believers, albeit misguided. So we get optimistic at the opportunity to mingle with them once again.
    Then we get incensed at their behavior and follow the cycle of emotions/thought pictured above.

    1. A presby preacher was very influential in my breaking free of the chains of fundy thinking. 🙂

  13. I’m at stage 2 for sure. I grew up in a fundamentalist church, went to a fundy high school, and then went on to a fundy college for 4 years. I never really felt a connection, though, with anything I was taught. Everything was forced onto me: what to believe, what to wear, how to act, what music to listen to, what movies to watch, etc. I was at church more than any other place in my life, and I absolutely hated it every minute of it. I felt very angry with having my life controlled 24/7, but when you’re under 18 what can you do?
    Everyone in fundyland seemed insincere to me; however, they managed to sneak into my brain somehow and plant their little seeds of terror. I grew up being afraid of everyone and everything. It truly is a horrible way to live.
    I’d been pondering for a long time why I’ve always been so timid, so afraid of everything, always afraid of confrontation, afraid of questioning authority…and, then I stumbled across this website, and the light came on!
    What a relief it is to know I’m not alone in feeling this way and that it is OK to question things and that God is not just sitting up in heaven waiting to strike me down for every little infraction.
    I still have a loooooong way to go in the healing process, though. I am very angry right now because I feel like all of my life up until this point has been wasted, if that makes sense. Although I haven’t been to a fundy church in 11 years, I had the hardest time shaking off the feelings of fear and inadequacy that fundamentalists like to inflict upon people. Walking around in constant fear most of your life and then just giving up completely on everything because you think it doesn’t matter because God is angry with you and has turned His back on you is most unpleasant. But, that’s how fundies want you to feel unless you can manage to live up to their impossibly high standards, and even then that didn’t seem good enough. It’s funny (sort of) how something that just doesn’t seem right to you can have such an effect on you and makes you wonder sometimes if it isn’t right after all and you’re the one who’s wrong. I guess that’s what happens, though, when it’s hammered into your head week after week, year after year. I tried to block most of the sermons out, but more than I thought managed to seep in.

    I will say, though, after discovering this site, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I hope the angry feelings will go away soon. I don’t like the fundies having that much power over me. I have found some books recently, that have been very helpful, and like I said before, this site has been very helpful as well.
    My journey continues! 🙂

    1. Good for you and I know what you mean about timidity – it’s hard to overcome

      1. Dwelling in Imladris, it really is. I thought by age 37 I would have overcome this by now, but it’s a daily struggle. Of course, growing up female in a fundy church didn’t help matters. I was never taught to speak up or stand up for myself.
        Baby steps, though. I’m optimistic that one day I’ll get there. 🙂

    2. Rebecca A.,
      I wonder if you would find helpful a book by Bryan Chapell titled “Holiness by Grace”. What a weight is lifted to fully realize that God is not happy with us because we managed to check off the right boxes today, but rather because when He looks at us, he sees only the perfection of His own Son.

      1. Thank you for the recommendation, Joshua! 🙂 I just downloaded it to my Kindle. It sounds like it will be most helpful to me on my journey.

    3. Welcome home! You described my upbringing perfectly. I was in a fundy church from 5 years old to 26. I never felt good enough. You can heal. It will take time but you can.

        1. I just thought of one more thing that helped me a ton . A southern baptist preacher said in a sermon about forgiveness that, “God forgave all of your sins. The ones you’ve already committed and the ones you will commit in the future. ”
          The ‘future’ part really hit me in the face. Of course He did. He died 2000 years ago for my sins. There is no way for any of my sins to not be forgiven. I’m already clean. Being made to feel guilty on a weekly basis was morally wrong in my opinion.

        2. Bert, What you said goes along with the Fundy question that is asked at so many altar calls; What will you do with Jesus?

          Some precious soul decides to follow the Lord, and as soon as they get up off their knees, it’s as if they begin hearing, “Now what will you do FOR Jesus?”

          And depending on the strictness of the church, they receive instructions to do some or all of the following: read their bible every day, pray, keep a prayer list, attend every church service, cut their hair(men), don’t cut their hair(women), buy a suit (or modest dress), learn the Romans road, tell everyone at work to come to church with them, hand out gospel tracts, get an accountability partner and confess everything to them (have you ever heard any confessions of sin from the preacher, no, they only make an occasional mistake), etc. etc.
          When one is taking a proper look at it, the question remains, “what will you do with Jesus?” I will continue to trust that He is faithful to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Especially now that I am His own. The stuff I do FOR Jesus is immaterial to the outcome of my forgiveness. So why do so many preachers seem hung up on that?

        3. Bert, in my wordiness, I hope I made it clear that I am agreeing with what you said….

        4. Yes, “Dr.” Eric, I could tell you agreed with me. I never thought otherwise. You and others have fleshed out what I said very well and brought back some bad memories. what you described is exactly what happened in my church. It seemed to me that you had to get yourself right THEN ” come forward” . All while singing “Just as I am”. Hypocrisy in all of its glory.

      1. That’s a great point, Bert! A lot of fundies seem to not get that. My pastor would teach that God would not hear us if we had unconfessed sins in our lives. He also would say that if something bad happened in our lives, it was most likely because we had done something wrong and God was trying to get our attention. I thought that was one of the reasons Christ died for us. It was all very confusing to me when I was growing up in the church. And, just recently I finally realized what most fundies view as “sin” are really just their personal preferences.

        1. ah yes the “keep short accounts with God” otherwise he will not hear you when you pray… because God is capricious and vindictive like that. The more I look the smaller the IFB god really is. Of course their god has to fit in the mind of the man standing behind the sacred desk…
          HE cannot be almighty, sovereign, all knowing… no the IFB god is a reactive god who is often surprised by the actions of his followers and has to react to the whims and dictates of the same. Great big Universe… itty bitty god.

          Welcome aboard The Black Pearl of Great Price Before Swine! Glad to have you sailing with us Rebecca.

        2. Wow, Lord Don! The more I sail with ye on this ship, the more I realize how similar to the IFB the PBs are. See I was told we were unique and special. We had been given the Truth and nobody else. Pfft. The same words, keep short accounts with God. How often have I heard that.

        3. The whole thing about what restricts answers to prayer always got me. I was too entrenched in the system to leave at that point. Part of me always felt that there was no point in trying because it was impossible to meet the standard.


        4. Wow. It is scary when I read my own emotions and memories coming out of someone else’s mouth.

        5. Thank you, Lord Don! 🙂 I’m happy to be on board.

          And, yes, the IFB god is indeed very small, and that makes me sad for those continuing to follow that way.

    4. My advice is go ahead and rage. Be angry, let it burn the garbage out of your brain. You were subjugated. In this enlightened age, in a country of free and empowered women, you were subjugated. That is worthy of anger. When the anger is properly directed, outwards not inwards, there is healing and there will come a day when you realize that you are no longer angry. I am not nearly as angry as I was but I suspect that had I bitten my anger back it would still be controlling me. Every time you speak out against them, you break their hold on you a little more.

      1. Thank you, MiriamD!!! 🙂 You are so right! I never felt like I was “allowed” to feel this way. I’ve carried that with me for a long time. I also think I’ve experienced stage 4, depression, for a long while, too. You make a great point about directing the anger outward. I was directing inward for so long which, as we know, causes depression.
        How freeing it is to finally be able to find the source of my sadness and anger after all this time! There were so many times when I thought I was literally losing my mind because I would find myself crying uncontrollably for no reason at all, but having this overall sense of unease and dread; or, I would just feel total despair because I truly felt there was no hope for me and God had just tossed me aside. It was terrifying! Now I know the problem wasn’t me.
        I’m still really angry, though, at fundamentalism for causing all of this anguish; but, I do agree, unleashing the anger is very helpful. 🙂

        1. No-one truly understands unless they have been there. I spent a long time in depression, too. Welcome to the beautiful world!

        2. True story. Not to be too cheesy, but it’s heartwarming to be among kindred spirits. Thank you!

        3. You find yourself in the same place John Bunyan found himself. Then one day walking along the road, the Spirit brought to his mind, “your righteousness is in Heaven”. Not my standards, not my lawkeeping, his unassailable righteousness imputed to me.

        4. Nailed it! You are so right! And, what a freeing feeling it is. 🙂 I’ve felt more peace the past few weeks than I ever felt in my entire life. I know there will be a lot of struggles ahead, but at least I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel…

    5. That’s a really powerful account, Rebecca. It’s scary to think how long the stuff we absorbed as children can stick with us. I know exactly what you mean about doubting the IFB and yet being scared just in case they were right and leaving them would make God angry at me.

      I can’t tell you how free I feel when I consider some of the questions I used to wrestle with now. The freedom to recognize the value of mystery and dispense with the need to put everything under an earth-bound microscope to validate human understanding of heavenly things is just incredible.

      1. Seanchaigirl, it really is crazy how long those things can stick with you, huh? I stopped attending the IFB church when I was 26, and it’s still taken this long for me to finally break free from their teachings. But, better late than never, I guess. 🙂 I’m just glad my immediate family has started to see the light, too. My parents and sister still go to an IFB church, but not the one I grew up in. I really do like their current pastor. He’s a pretty great guy. But, just being in the IFB environment really send my anxiety through the roof. Fortunately, my parents respect my feelings and do not give me any grief for not attending with them when I go home to visit; and, for that I am most grateful.

        I see below that you’ve recently joined the Episcopal church. How do you like it? I’ve been wanting to try other denominations. My brother goes to a Presbyterian church now and really loves it. So, I think I might visit a Presby church as well.

        1. I still have the occasional knee-jerk reaction of fear when I’m in fundy settings, too. I have an uncle who is a fundy-lite pastor and he called and read me the riot act when he found out I was joining the Episcopal church. I had a really, really hard time dealing with that because he’s always been kind of a dual-authority figure in my life – and he was unkind enough to bring my dead mother into his tirade. The priest at my church was amazing in helping me work through weeks of fall-out from that.

          It’s funny that you mention the Presbyterian church. I ended up at a Reformed Presbyterian college after I nearly got booted from Fundy U. Looking back, that was the beginning of my journey to the Episcopal church. I went from there to a conservative Congregationalist church, left church altogether for a couple of years, flirted with Catholicism and finally found my home in the Episcopal church. I still have enormous respect for the Reformed church – my brother and his wife attend a great RP church – but it wasn’t where I belonged. I think one of the main things that put me off was how many of the fundy-lite churches and people I grew up around kind of rebranded themselves RP. I still see disturbing trends toward cults of personality and legalism in many of those churches. But there are great ones, too.

          I wish you all the best as you search for the place you truly belong. I never dreamed I’d end up where I did, but something in me recognized it as home during the very first service I attended. I hope you find the same thing.

        2. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that with your uncle! I’m sure it’s especially hurtful to have to deal with that from someone within your own family. 🙁 I am glad your priest was so compassionate, though, and able to help you work through it.

          I really appreciate your kind words and encouragement! I know the journey ahead will probably be long, but at least now I’m headed in the right direction. 🙂

    6. Afraid, Afraid, Afraid. That is, I think, 90% of the motivation of much that is done in Fundystan. We want to be seen as good little fundies, and so we’re afraid of not keeping all the rules right. We want to be accepted. And preachers prey on people and tell stories intended to put fear in the hearts of young people growing up in these churches. They live their lives in fear that God is going to bring lightning and thunder crashing down on them if they wear slacks or use an NIV. I lived in fear.

      1. You are so, so right, Bob! If the fundy pastors can keep their congregants in line with fear then they can control them, which the ultimate goal, in my opinion.
        As I look back, I realize now that my former pastor was afraid of those he couldn’t control. He tended to avoid those people as much as possible and only harass those who were “yes” men and women.

        1. Oh man. I was on staff at a fundy Baptist church. I had a really smart, godly, inquisitive young man in my campus ministry. he started a bible study and determined that the rapture was post trib. He was a serious bible student. I argued with him and argued with him and I could not win. So I went to the head pastor and asked him what to do. He told me to call the guy on the phone and ask him to stop teaching on the tribulation, and to tell him I would remove him from his place of leadership in the campus ministry organization if he didn’t. It worked. He stopped. But he walked away. And he became a Presbyterian. Which I have no problem with at this point. but the head pastor of that church would decry as liberal. But my point is that his method was to tell me to intimidate. And I bought into it. I was a fool.

        2. Bob M. I do not believe any one of us has come out of Fundyism unscarred. I have much to regret but I did learn, thankfully,what not to do to be a good and loving person.

        3. You were not a fool, Bob. You were fooled, which is entirely different. We all were.

        4. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Bob! I don’t know your whole experience in the fundy world, but if you were raised in it your whole life as I was, you’re taught that the pastor is always right and to never question him. And, if you have no exposure to the real world and fundamentalism is all you know, you naturally trust the pastor and follow his teachings. I think everyone here has been in the same or similar boat.
          I’m glad you have found your way out! 🙂

        5. I am probably at 4b sliding into 5. I have asked God many times to drain this bathtub of anger that resides in me. There are times I want to go back and shake the preachers I listened to. Not all of them, but most. Shake them till their ears bleed. But that is not how my Savior would treat anyone. So I pray that their eyes are opened to how deceived they are.

        6. I feel the same way! I’ve done a lot of housekeeping on Facebook lately because it keeps me from saying things I shouldn’t and helps keep the blood pressure down. I hope I can get to 5 some time soon so the things fundies say and do won’t bother me anymore.

        7. I will probably remain at 4b for a while. Fundamentalism has done a lot of damage, and I was a part of it. It isn’t in me to let it lie and leave quietly. I feel a need to defend those vilely treated by fundamentalism and to speak out against the loudmouths who live to enslave others.

          At this point, anger is not even an issue. Fundies like to fling around their “righteous anger” and wrath. They need a counter.

          Frankly, I think the Church could use some persecution, real stuff. It might purge the dross. I can’t imagine idiots like Steven Anderson surving such a purge. Those who do would need to focus on the real things of the gospel, not the culture wars.

        8. Rtgmath, you are right on the money with that. I don’t think many fundies can handle real, actual persecution, either. I get very upset when I hear fundies lamenting the fact that their religious freedoms are being taken away. Hogwash. Judging others and condemning them to hell just because they don’t believe exactly the way they do is not a religious freedom.

          And, I also hate when fundies proclaim that they will never let the government step in and tell them how to run their church, but they are perfectly OK with trying to tell the government how to run the country.

          Hypocrisy much?

  14. I’m 4b, then 5, then 4b again, then 5 again. I think I’ve gone from being stage 4b 80% of the time and stage 5 20% of the time to gradually shifting to 20% stage 4b and 80% stage 5. Eventually it’ll be 100% 5.

    Well, 98% stage 5, and 2% stage 4b. Damn scars, you know.

    1. 4b. Definitely 4b. Probably forever 4b.

      At least that is how I feel about now. I am angry at fundamentalism. I am angry at their judgmental, punitive god. I am angry that so much of my life was spent “submitting” to this crap.

      But when you are taught to submit to more punishment “because God is showing how much He loves you by chastening you” in fear of “God’s wrath,” it is hard to break out of that cycle.

      As a person looking for work, I am finding that the laws “good Christians” have put into place are especially punitive for those who have fallen on hard times. There are a myriad of “gotcha” items, just waiting to punish you further for your misfortune. It hurts desperately.

      I find it ironic that fundies fight so hard to claim that Jesus Christ is God, since their idea of god and godliness is nothing like Jesus Christ either in attitudes or actions.

      1. Yeah, I don’t know if that image of God will ever go away for me. It was enforced by a dad who during my early years was also like that. He changed midway through my childhood, though, and I cherish every moment I have with him now.

        But even then, the idea that there is a god who is teaching you to love him by humbling you enough to depend on him still sounds inspirational. As if that’s how it should be. That’s how all relationships work.

        How much sense does it make for the epitome of relationships, one with the creator of the universe, is about pounding you into the ground with problems until you call on him? What happened with just responding when you call on him in your moments of doubt?

        “Dear God, I’m having a really hard time believing that you’re there. Please comfort me and let me know that you are”

        “Nah. I’ll wait until you no longer believe in me, then I’ll flood you with trouble, trials and tribulations.”

        4b is bubbling up again.

        By the way, I wish you the best in finding work. It’s better than it was a few years ago out there, but still tough.

  15. I’m at 5 and getting ready to pop the tab on my 6th….beer.


    I’m at 4 and fixin to polish off my fifth.

    1. Maybe there could be mojitos for Stage 5. I like beer well enough, but mojitos make me happy.

  16. I go back and forth between 4 and 4b, which is where I’ve been for probably the last decade. Over the past two years or so, I’ve made more and more pragmatic toeholds in 5 – as in, “I’m not going to change the minds of my fundy family through any amount of logic or rhetoric. They have to come to it on their own.” But then I see them boast about crushing their children’s wills as my parents did to me and my brother as Good Christian Parents, and I get depressed and angry all over again. I think I have accepted what happened to me under the guise of fundamentalism, but I have a much harder time accepting that many of the same people who hurt me are still out there crushing the life and the faith out of others.

    On a happier note, I’m thrilled to say that I took a big step away from the IFB this weekend, and was confirmed in the Episcopal Church during the Easter Vigil. It took me a long time to get there, but I’m very much at peace with my decision and excited to travel the Way with my new church. I’m mostly a lurker, but I’ve been very encouraged here at SFL over the years as so many of you have been open and honest about your own faith journeys.

    Thanks, Darrell and everyone else, for making a welcoming, encouraging and often hilarious spot for seekers to congregate here in the wilds of the Internets.

    1. Welcome, Seachain girl! The Episcopal Church holds a huge variety of folks, including many, many ex-fundies.

      Be sure to tune in to the lovely essays each week on http://www.AnglicansOnline.com. This week’s is especially fun; it’s about Easter food traditions.

      Goat’s head soup, anyone?

        1. Hot Cross Buns! I remember learning to play that song on the recorder in music class when I was in elementary school. 🙂
          Sorry, I read about hot cross buns in the article and that was the first thing that came to mind. 🙂 Very fun reading! Thanks for sharing the link!

      1. Thank you for the welcome and the link! I had goat a few times while traveling in Morocco and Greece, and was surprised by how much I liked it. I never tried the head, though. Cooked right…I might give it a try.

  17. I just thought of one more thing that helped me a ton . A southern baptist preacher said in a sermon about forgiveness that, “God forgave all of your sins. ALL of them. The ones you’ve already committed and the ones you will commit in the future. ”
    The ‘future’ part really hit me in the face. Of course He did. He died 2000 years ago for my sins. There is no way for any of my sins to not be forgiven. I’m already clean.
    Based on that, being made to feel guilty on a weekly basis was morally wrong in my opinion.

  18. I spent the latter half of high school and most of college in stage 1. I knew something was off, but I the IFB was still the one true way. Soon after college I ran into some problems with my new church, though, and I entered stage 2. I spent a lot of time cycling through stages 2, 3 and 4. At some point I found SFL, and I managed to slip bargaining out of the mix. Then I was just angry and depressed. I was going to leave the IFB, but I didn’t know how.

    I finally left almost exactly one year ago, and though things were scary for a few weeks, I started sliding into 5 almost immediately. I found a solid group of friends at a new, non-IFB church, and that helped a lot. Now I spend most of my time in 5, but occasionally I’ll hear something from a fundy that makes me slip back to 4b.

    A lot of my friends from back home still don’t know that I’ve left the IFB, though, so the cycle could come back in full force when that crap hits the fan. I have a solid enough base now, though, that I’m not even going to consider going back. The leeks of Egypt are nothing like the milk and honey I have now.

    1. Walrus Wrangler, remember: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, . . . will be able to separate us from Jesus Christ our Lord.”

      Not even your “friends” in IFB churches.

  19. I’m at 5. I was a regular reader of SFL during the 2 stage, and skipped right over stage 3 by just leaving cold turkey.

    Now, I’m reaching the stage where I can be thankful for my experiences in Fundystan, because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t wish hurt on anyone else, but if I’d never been hurt or exposed to hypocrisy, I wouldn’t have left for the freedom on the other side of the Fundy wall.

  20. Folks, if you are here reading and/or posting regularly, you cannot, by definition be at #5. Don’t fool yourself. You’re not over it just yet. I’m not.

    1. Acceptance and “over it” aren’t quite the same thing. I accept my friend’s death (which happened several years ago), but that doesn’t mean I’m over it.

    2. So long as the damage persists, and let’s face it — it will never be undone — we can’t ever be totally “over it”.

  21. I’m not sure where I am, but I just enjoy coming here and learning and listening to Darrell and everyone else here. Truth!

  22. I’m probably a mix of 1, 3, and 5. I’ve overcome 2 and 4, but still vacillate between the others. I keep thinking if I stay, maybe I can help others see the light. Then I realize I’m miserable and decide to leave. Then someone comes to me or the missus for help they feel they cannot get from current leadership, and I get sucked in again.
    Eventually someone will hear me ask the wrong question or make the wrong (even though it is technically correct) statement and I will need to leave. I can ignore the foolishness to try to help those who don’t seem to know better, but does that eventually become a form of spiritual suicide?

    These are the things I’ve pondered since I saw the post this morning. Still no closer to a decision, though. Maybe it would be better to have “seen the light” in an uber Fundy church instead of a possibly transitioning one. We had two narrators for the Easter Program yesterday. It wasn’t a Ron Hamilton type death program, and and it wasn’t closed by an add-on mini-sermon like in the past. The lady narrator had on slacks, something that would NOT have happened at our church a few years ago, so even our pastor is allowing change, though he doesn’t admit it out loud.

    I still probably ought to move on. I dunno. We are still pretty fundy officially, I just don’t big deal my differences.

    1. The statement “We are still pretty fundy officially,” is supposed to reflect the church attitude, not my wife and I. That could have been written a bit more clearly.

      1. Darn you, George. I thought I fixed the grammar. Please substitute “me” for “I”.
        Thank you.

  23. Thankfully I am out of stage four but still on meds to help (getting over the stigma of taking meds for depression was one of the areas of fallout for me). Pretty much in stage five, but went to Baptist church with the in-laws yesterday. Went through a lot of what is covered here. Went back to pity (in place of rage) when the mog began saying, “If I were God, some of you’d be in trouble for not being in church every Sunday…. If I were God, some of you would have some explaining to do about not being a good witness… If I were God…”
    I leaned over to my wife and said, “If He were God, I’d never go to church again!”
    What a sad, sorry manipulative bunch.

    1. I went to my mother-in-law’s Southern Baptist church yesterday.

      Fortunately, I went to an earlier Episcopal service, where I received encouragement. The SBC service was about “doubting Thomas.” It wasn’t about the Resurrection. That was secondary — no — third or lower. Thomas didn’t believe right away. So the pastor pummeled Thomas. At least Thomas believed when he saw Jesus. But we don’t get that chance, so don’t blow it!

      Along with the foolishness of “missing salvation by 18 inches” (the head and the heart, as if the “heart” believes anything!) — I wanted *SOOOO BAD* to go to the Pastor and say, “Let me introduce myself. My name is Thomas.”

      From what I read in Matthew 24, Jesus said NOT to believe tales about Christ being here or there. Jesus said “the very elect” would be deceived. So Thomas’ decision to Not Believe was actually an act of faith in the words of Christ He had heard personally.

      But this MoG didn’t think about that. This MoG didn’t think about John’s report of Thomas’ loyalty, or Thomas trying to understand when Jesus said He was going away. No! Thomas wasn’t present with the disciples when Jesus first appeared, and Thomas did not believe their words, so “Doubting Thomas” was the topic on Easter.

      He didn’t note that people need to experience the risen Christ in different ways, and that Christ moves to meet those needs. He didn’t talk about how gracious Christ was to his disciple to come to him in the intimate fashion he needed.

      If I hadn’t been to Eucharist earlier, I couldn’t have stood it. As it was, I will remember this fiasco for a long, long time.

      1. 18 inches between the head and the heart? I think it’s more like 12, except for giants.

        I’ve always felt a strong identification with Thomas. His intellectual honest is inspiring.

        1. The preacher said he envisioned Thomas as a mathematician or a scientist who relies on evidence to make decisions–almost as if he were making fun of those of us who look at evidence!

          I was rather disgusted. Of course, he wants faith on his witness and sayso. I want God to show Himself. People — especially fundies — are too unreliable. They misrepresent God. Or, if they are representing God correctly, God is more of a monster than a Savior.

        2. Rtg, everyone knows mathematicians and scientists are going straight to hell……..,.

        3. I have found several preachers online who seem to do a great job of teaching the law and the gospel and discerning between the two. I am also learning a lot about church doctrine from the early church (I guess it didn’t have its roots in America’s prohibition era). These preachers have kept me sane and in the faith.

          Rtg, when I read the Bible, I am under the impression Jesus died and rose again for everyone, including mathmeticians and scientists. I’m always amazed when a preacher jumps the gun and starts separating the “sheep from the goats”. Not his job to do that. He is not even remotely qualified.

        4. Same here on the identifying with Thomas.

          I was SHOCKED the first time I heard anyone characterize him badly based on not having been in the room for that first appearance. I’d just always figured he was the one who finally ventured out after supplies once the Sabbath restrictions lifted.

          And of course he wasn’t going to believe the others if he was the logical, evidence-seeking one out of the group, because then it would have conveniently happened exactly when the person most likely to call “Scam!” was gone.

          He was also probably in that nasty painful ‘please let me wake up and discover this was all a dream’ initial stage of grief, in which case he actually was seeking physical confirmation of not only the resurrection but of the crucifixion at the same time.

          And he gets exactly the proof he asked for, without anything you could call reproach without twisting it.

          (And it also gets to me because I’ve had my little bits of proof I was on the right track when I started wondering, but Thomas gets used to make needing that a bad thing when people who get the same experiences without the wondering first are Oh So Blessed. So I’m supposed to feel bad and spiritually deficient for needing to look back and see the single line of footprints “Footprints”-style every now and then after going through dark emotional stuff, but the lady in church who never had a flat tire or empty gas tank an angel wouldn’t fix for a $20 in the plate next Sunday is smiled on by heaven. Because I’m the logical one who needed reassurance, even though I trust completely that the evidence I need will eventually show up.)

  24. I’m a 4 to 4b and have resigned to being there for the rest of my life most likely. The wife is a pretty solid 1 with bouts of a 3 on occasion. She also continues to try to make me a 2 and I just can’t seem to extricate myself completely without loosing her.

    So do I tolerate attending a fundy church and keep the wife of over 25 years that I love or completely leave fundy land and start life anew without her? Tough choice and for now I continue to stay.

    1. I personally chose to stay, and not leave Fundystan alone, because I knew leadership was adept at “dividing and conquering” and did not want that to happen to our marriage. I would not begrudge anyone who chose differently, but that was my decision.

      It was extremely difficult to keep attending that horrible church, and took about 18 mos or so for my spouse to realize there was no going back to happy peon status. It became clear that I was not going to attend a retreat and experience a Fundy revival of sorts (yes, they tried)…I was seeing through the manipulation and there was no turning back. I began skipping some services and keeping the kids home with me, and would make comments to my spouse about the blatant errors in sermons – mainly Sunday night ones (where pastor was more likely to rant). My spouse believed the lie that our kids would go to the devil if we dared leave the “Umbrella of Protection” the church supposedly offered.

      After we left, we became somewhat more “safe” to talk to, and began hearing stories of other friends who had been mistreated. My spouse is now glad to be gone and would not want to subject our kids to that legalism again. I shudder to think how that crap would have hurt our kids had we continued going to church there.

  25. I’m in 2 but not because of the fundys but because @RobM mentioned Moe’s and they took all the Moe’s out of Oklahoma City like 2 years ago

    1. Bahahahaha! That made me laugh out loud.

      There are still Moe’s in Texas. Come on down!

        1. Big Gary, Moe’s is a fast casual, Tex-Mex restaurant. They have burritos, tacos, quesadillas, chips and salsa, etc. If you find one near you, check it out. You’ll love it!

        2. I don’t know. As a native son of Texmexia itself, I’m pretty picky about Tex-Mex food.

        3. Of the big fast-food chains, I probably like Taco Cabana the best.
          Or El Pato (it’s only in the Rio Grande Valley, I think).

        4. I love Moe’s! But, I am not a picky eater and will pretty much eat anything, so you may not want to just take my word for it. 🙂
          Taco Cabana is good stuff! I really like their food. I checked and we don’t have an El Pato anywhere close to Dallas. 🙁 So, I will suffer in silence….

        5. I totally refuse to go near any establishment called “Taco Bell.” Yuck!

          There’s too much delicious, authentic Mexican food out here in California, too.

        6. Linn, my Texan brother says that Taco Bell has the best Mexican food in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he lives now.
          But that’s pretty much by default, of course.

        7. Yes, Big Gary I live in Dallas. Let me know when you’re up here next, and I can show you the greatness that is Moe’s. 🙂

        8. OMG, I LOVE ME SOME MOE’S!!!!! I’m going there for lunch today. If you like hot sauce their hotsauce is better than any other burrito place both as far as how hot & how tasty. I tend to order my burritos without cheese or sour cream cause those tame the hotness of the hot sauce. My friends some times call me wax lips/wax tongue.

        9. Awwww! Thanks, RobM! 🙂
          And, I agree with you about their hot sauce. The hotter the better for me! I love me some hot wings, too, but that’s a whole other story…. 🙂

        10. When Moes was on Under Cover Boss like 2 years ago, the Moes where I live had their staff all wear fake glasses/mustaches etc and wear name tags with “not “.

        11. OK, that makes more sense about the name tags now. 🙂 But, I also got a good laugh about the fake glasses/mustaches.

  26. When i arrived here I was a 4C.
    A 4C is one that is angry at themselves for being so blind, so stupid, so deep in the kool-aid line. I am now a 5. closer to a 5.75 actually.

    The IFB is no longer relevant to my life. It is part and parcel of my history but I have left it behind and shaken its dust off my feet. Evey now and again I’ll read something or hear of something that will trigger me to anger and rage against the IFB machine… but all in all I’m done and have alienated myself from that particular cult.

  27. You guys have helped me lose some of my anger. Thank you. You are a caring, funny, funny bunch.

  28. Dear Darrell:

    I’m afraid I don’t fit the model. I have too much time goading those staunch defenders of fundamentalism to have any credible testimony as to having walked with them at one point. While I did walk with them at one point in life, it doesn’t tell the whole story not to point out that I was never actually one OF them in that I retained my own judgment about to many things, and I was more than ready to stand up for what I believed.

    I saw too many things too high up at Snob Clones, and I saw what was happening to too many round me. I announced my departure in my second year. I think they knew better than to try an hatchet job, or to manipulate me into prostrating myself before the reichadistration.

    It is what I see the movement do to others that gets me animated. I regard that as a millstone issue, and as necessary, I’ll say so. It amazes me how easily and consistently fundamentalism’s generals collapse when faced with principled resistance.

    Christian Socialist

      1. Reich — having to do with government (assuming it is a German word). “-a distration” makes me think of bureaucracy.

        So my guess is that he was comparing BJU’s disciplinary process to a government bureaucracy, even more inefficient than similar structures in the corporate world (and those are pretty bad).

        Just my guess. I don’t know German.

        1. “Reich” is German for “kingdom” or “empire.”
          The official name of Germany until the end of World War II was “Deutsches Reich,” although Germany had a repbulican government structure from 1919 until whatever it had under Hitler (beginning 1933).
          Austria’s name in German is Österreich, meaning “eastern kingdom.”

      2. “Recastration?” Is that a procedure that becomes necessary because things didn’t come out all right on the first try?

    1. Dear CS,

      You fit it. You’re just too angry and depressed about it to realize you’re in denial.


      — TIILS

  29. A previous commenter made an interesting point, which hopefully I can paraphrase and expound upon without mangling too badly. People who are at the self-described ‘Stage 5’ look at people who aren’t mad or bitter or whatever and claim they are in denial. That may be sometimes true, but it’s not fair to apply it universally. If you assume that everybody that disagrees with you is wrong, then you have become the very thing you are satirizing.
    We went through something resembling this process , not with ‘the IFB movement’ ( whatever that is), but rather with an individual church. My experiences with that church didn’t make me decide the Bible wasn’t true, or that our standards were wrong, but rather that a handful of influential individuals in that one local assembly were wrong. Now they are part and parcel of a larger movement manifesting itself in independent churches, and that deserves to be addressed, but we didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead we rolled our eyes at goofiness and moved on to serve God in another field.

    1. Michael, local assembly? Throw the baby out with the bath water? Do I sense Brethrenism here? Roll your eyes all you want, move on to another field all you want, but understand that some of us are here, “satirizing” because we suffered under so much spiritual abuse that just moving on is not an option, not yet.

      1. I have to plead ignorance here, I ‘m not really sure what ‘Brethrenism’ is. I would never belittle the very real abuses that go on, but at the end of the day, I would hope the failings of a man or a group of men wouldn’t discourage me from serving God.

        1. Sorry Michael, when I hear assembly instead of church I wonder if someone has come from the Plymouth Brethren. They are just another flavour of fundy

  30. With regards to the “Acceptance” phase, in my case, it’s more like resignation. At the risk of griping, the timing of my entrance into Fundamentalism along with my years spent there seemed almost perfect for maximizing damage. For example, if I had grown up in a Fundy home and left the movement at, say 30, with my current knowledge I would have time for a course correction. If, on the other hand, I had entered Fundamentalism in my 40’s and left in my early fifties, in spite of the damage, I might at least have a decent job and some sort of pension to look forward to. As it was, after having had a solid conversion experience while in the military, I entered Fundamentalism soon after returning to the States. Anyway, financially/career wise and relationship wise I don’t see any way to fully recover at this point.

    Life stinks, but on occasion, alcohol makes things seem a little less bad temporarilly. My father was one of the smartest people I ever knew, but alcohol ruined his life. Before he damaged his liver, my dad had a high tolerance for alcohol and I seem to have inherited, at least to some degree, his earlier abilty to metabolize ethanol. Still, based on his experiences, along with biblical warnings against drunkenness, I am aware of the dangers of excessive drinking.

    As far as the “Anger” phase goes, I have a great deal of anger and rage as well as shame and embarassment directed at myself. After all, ultimately I listened to these people. On that note, when I consider the mediocre intellects and the profound ignorance of some in Fundamentalism, my humiliation at having been involved with and listening to those involved in the movement is possibly made worse– maybe like having lost an arm wrestling match to a six year old. At the same time, in spite of my own culpability, if God were to miraculously give me the authority of Henry VIII, I can think of a number of men I would probably have hanged.

    1. ^ Sorry– this is an example of why it’s a bad idea to ask some people how they’re doing.

      1. Ben, I get it but I am not sure that there is a good time to get into Fundamentalism. I was in from birth to almost fifty. Women were encouraged not to work, HA. Not to work for money. There is very little market for a fifty something woman even if she is a hell of a cook, can sew, knit, and grow almost anything you can think of. I’m good at a lot of things but at my age none of them are marketable, so I have to become good at getting by. I am angry that I was taught not to be able to look after my family financially. Angry? Oh yeah. Probably shouldn’t ask me how I am doing either. Still, the humour and the insights here help a lot.

        1. I agree with MiriamD, BP. There is no good time to be in Fundystan. Damage persists for longer than the period of time you were in it. Some things you can get back, some you can’t. That promise about restoring what the locusts have eaten just doesn’t hold.

          If you grow up and stay in the fold until 30, you might not be able to make a “course correction” in terms of career and stuff. You might have a college degree from FU, and that is almost universally worthless in the real world. At that point you might be married and have a bunch of minions to provide for, making getting a real college degree as much a sacrifice as tithing and being in church 18 times a day, 32 days a week.

          Even if you get out at 25, it’s still tough.

          There is no good time of life to be in it. The best time to get out — completely physically out — is right now.

        2. MiriamD, you’re right. Thing is, I don’t even have the excuse of having grown up in the system. On a different subject, it’s too bad your talents are so undervalued. Someone who is an expert at knitting and sewing should be able to earn a good living making things such as custom clothing and the like. Same thing goes for someone who can grow organic produce and for someone who is a master chef. Our society often seems to have a strange sense of values.

          Your point about women in the Plymouth Brethren not being taught how to ‘look after their families financially’ has or had an analgous situation in the IFB. The extreme IFB pays lip service to the idea of men being the providers for their families, and then attempts to psychologically arm twist everyone they can into attending Bible “College.” They do this by giving people the impression that these unaccredited schools are the only real choice for those with a genuine heart for God. For those guys who rise to the level of Bwana or The Big Kahuna, life can be sweet. These guys can then look down from their lofty IFB thrones and wonder why the peasants who can barely pay the bills are so bitter and disgruntled.

          The humor/humour on this site is great. This is a wonderful congregation. It’s too bad nobody has organized an SFL convention. If somebody were to do that, I’d try to find a way to attend. Anyhow, won’t ask how you’re doing, but best wishes for better days ahead.

        3. Thank you, Ben. I really am mostly good. I want to enjoy life and I am happy that I have my children and husband. The damage is done and intellectually I know that I must go forward from where I am. Usually I do just that and I am getting better at it.
          A SFL convention? That would be worth what it took to get there 🙂

        4. Miriam, my heart goes out to you as I read your words. My wife and I were also Fundies from birth to about our mid to late thirties. She was working in a floral shop and learning how to do arrangements when we got married. Being a good fundy man, I made her quit her job and raise our children. Some time after we left the IFBC and had been attending a denomination that allows/encourages women to be successful, I asked my wife to forgive me for making her put her life on hold. I told her she was free to do anything she wants to do outside the home. She was so moved that she cried. She said it was exactly what she needed to hear from me. She is now doing childcare (!) in the home for pay and working at a floral shop on the weekends. She hopes to eventually become an owner of a flower shop. I only wonder how far along she would be if we hadn’t gone the fundy route.

          Ironically, both pastors at my old church “let” their wives have a job. They each were making more than $50,000 a year plus housing allowance, plus automobile allowance. Plus whatever their wife made. Sigh. Hindsight is 20/20.

        5. Thank you, Eric. We are still fortunate to have our spouses, that they didn’t stay behind physically or emotionally. As hard as it is, it isn’t that.

        6. The Illustrious and Inimitable Lady Semp,

          “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.” Joel 2:25-26 KJV

          It often doesn’t feel like we’re experiencing that, does it? As usual, you make some excellent points including how difficult it can be for someone to change the direction of their life even when they leave the IFB system at 30. And of course you’re right when you say that, “Some things you can get back, some you can’t” Still, I’m not sure knowing that necessarily helps a person feel better when they think about the possibilities that are gone and ain’t coming back.

          Thank you though, and by the way, how are your minions?

        7. IFB screws over so many people in order that a few men can boast of their empires. Young men sacrifice their chance at a college education or vocational training in order to go to Bible College. When they get out they’re still young, but they still have years of detox ahead. I do think women have it worse. A 50 year old man with no education who is starting over can still often get a manual labor job that pays something. A 50 year old woman in the same situation has very limited options most of the time, none of which pay well. If there were anything that angers me about IFBdumb, it’s the way they destroy lives.

        8. Ben,

          I don’t know if there is a way to feel better about never being able to reclaim what Fundystan has taken. There is always sadness when I look back at how certain things played out. Being angry about it doesn’t help, though it’s easy to go there sometimes.

          I think we need to be aware that while getting out is very helpful to our physical and emotional health, there is some stuff that we will be stuck with.

          I’m very happy that I left. I’m unhappy that I lost so much and received fool’s gold for my trouble. I feel that I built my house upon the sand and lived in a substandard structure all those years. Sure, I’ve learned lessons. Sure, the experiences made me who I am today. But I’d be a better person had I never been there.

    2. I think, after a long time, if I am still in the anger stage it means that “they” won. I do have the advantage of not being raised in Fundystan (so far from it, but that is another story), but it just happened to be the first church I fell into because they were kind to me and my family was falling apart. We didn’t have some of the strange MOGs that I read about on the site, but we did have so many rules, regs, and official disapproval for not keeping same that it was stifling. Although I officially left the church after two years because I went away to college, I kept up the associations and attended when home on break/work vacation, so the relationship extended out almost ten years. Involvement in healthy churches did lead to anger (especially when it was thought that I had deserted the faith; if anything, my faith and relationship with God were stronger than ever). It also didn’t help when family members were insulted when they had contact with them. But, I chose to leave and forgive and get on with God. During the past two years, some of them have found me on Facebook, and they have definitely changed, as have their churches. Forgiveness, and time, can change perspective and lead to healthier choices (in terms of church/lifestyle) and outcomes.

    3. It’s because fundamentalism takes things “seriously”. Adult conversions must have it hard. You get saved, turn your life around, maybe have some childhood religion that you are trying to get around/away from, so you look for people who take things as seriously as you do. More Bible, more study, more witnessing. And fundamentalism excels at this, because they are above all focused on the Law, whether it’s obscure OT laws, new NT laws the MOG comes up with, or something as simple as “the Law of the Word”.

      I’m a second generation believer who literally grew up in fundamentalism, but I had an experience as an adult walking willingly into pentecostal fundamentalism. We’re all looking for someone with more answers, who takes things seriously, who walk the walk and talk the talk.

      And it all turns out to be deceptive lies. We missed Jesus. We missed grace.

      My sympathies.

      1. it’s a distinct irony that the churches that take the Bible “the most seriously” are often the most corrupt churches that are farthest away from what a Bible taken seriously would produce

        1. “i want to join a church that takes the bible seriously”

          “that church doesn’t preach the bible enough in services”

          “the congregation doesn’t do enough study of the bible themselves”

          i suppose it takes maturity for us to realize how wrong all that thinking is. who cares how much bible they know. or if the church preaches verse by verse. or if they take the bible “seriously”.

          what is their fruit? do they look more like jesus? do they act like jesus? are they loving? are they serving others?

          the ends justifies the means. that IS the end of christianity, the natural fruit it should produce. if something isn’t producing that, however pure the means are, the means are wrong.

  31. What stages you go through and when will also probably depend on why you left fundamentalism in the first place. Those who suffered criminal abuse will be more likely to feel anger for longer than people who simply developed doctrinal differences.

    I’m in a few different places. In my personal life I’d say 4b-5. I’m making changes in my life, making plans for my future. I’m in a great relationship and experiencing things I never thought I would. I’ve even got a church that I (sometimes) go to. Attendance isn’t full on but I feel safe there.

    BUT I still remain angry for those who are particularly vulnerable in fundamentalist churches, because I was there. Particularly in cases of criminal abuse, domestic violence, and in bullying/harassment that could lead to self harm or death. Because many of them don’t have someone to speak for them. I hope that I don’t lose that, honestly.

    1. Oops. I probably don’t mean 4b to 5. Just… mostly 5. Not quite. But most of each day I’m having a mostly normal life. 🙂

  32. I’m definitely a 5 (or maybe a 6+). But as anyone with family and friends still in that world knows–you’re never really all the way out. Sort of like the mafia.

  33. I read something a while back that, I think, gets to the heart of the IFB.  It was a discussion between a regular Christian and a fundy.  The Christian was listening to Chris Tomlin and the fundy started questioning him about it and rebuking him for listening to ‘that type of music’ because it is clearly wrong.  The Christian’s reply was something along the lines of the Bible makes no mention of what is bad music and what is good and asked what is wrong with Chris Tomlin.  The fundy’s reply is EXACTLY the problem with the IFB.  He said, “We have STANDARDS”.  Hymns are the only approved type of music, so therefore, everything else is wrong.

    It is not good enough just to follow the Bible, even to the letter of the law.  You must also follow all of the arbitrary standards that have been created by fundies so that you can ‘avoid even the appearance of sin’.  Such as:  “What would someone think of you if they were watching you and you went to a movie theater, where “R” rated movies are shown?” and “Would you dig through a dumpster in hopes of finding a steak?”  This was always what going to a movie theater was compared to:  a dumpster.  And rock music?  You are going to ‘split hell wide open’.

    I’ve gone to movies and listened to rock music from at least 8 years old and I turned out alright, according to my family and friends.  I’m only 49 though, so there is plenty of time for that slide straight down to hell to start.

    1. And they are really good at poisoning the well of freedom you can find when you choose to “just do what you want”.

    2. What I’ve discovered, in my experience, is that the standards thing extends throughout all of evangelicalism, of which fundamentalism is just the hard right. There are always standards and things “we don’t do”. So, for the fundys, listening to rock music or CCM is evil, but for evangelicals it’s screamo or whatever. Christians don’t watch R rated movies? But American Sniper is ok…yet somehow Game of Thrones is not.

      It’s either all open for individuals to decide, or it’s not.

      1. And there’s also situational limits.

        I grew up in a Southern Baptist church.

        There were fairly loose standards, by IFB metrics, for what one could do on one’s own time.

        At church events?

        Hi, I’m the kid who kept others awake during an overnight activity more than once because of being used to listening to music to calm down enough to sleep and not owning anything that was Christian enough to be permissible. Because 15 minutes of instrumental music would be a distraction from God to me, and ten girls being up for two hours after official lights out when wake-up was precisely set to give us just enough sleep to be awake for devotionals wasn’t going to be a distraction from God for anyone.

        I also got weird looks from adults for bringing the liner notes – just the liner notes – to a Supertramp CD with me to same event different year so I could show them and other kids the lyrics to “Lord Is It Mine?” Which was apparently still not acceptable enough because Secular Artist.

        But secular boardgames and books were actually FINE at the same events, within broad limits. (Which led to interesting things, like instrumental music from Star Wars being distracting from God but reading Star Wars: The Power Of Myth which is significantly about world mythological systems not being distracting from God. Still trying to figure that one out.)

        The most annoying thing was that the rules weren’t set down anywhere in any form, other than “Christian Music Only” on event permission forms. I guess we were just supposed to assume that it didn’t count as Christian if the local Christian bookstore that has hardly any music wouldn’t give it shelf space. For all I knew, humming my favorite song from childhood at night in a youth retreat from the same church I learned it in could have gotten me in trouble – I had no clue it was originally by Petra until someone here told me so!

        1. megaforte84,
          I was once asked to supply some music for a Fundy High skating event. The girl that asked me was a senior at the school, and asked me because I have a rather broad music collection. There had been a complaint that the music previously used was from movies, and that that caused offense since movies were not allowed and to promote Hollywood is sinful. [I thought the previous selections were fine, but I guess I’m showing sinful rebellion.]
          I was asked to stick to classical music, so I did. Almost every piece I put on the mix had been used in movies, but were also easily recognizable classics. I doubt anyone involved saw the irony, but it made me feel good.

      2. Oh another thing: And it’s always THEIR choice where the line is. You don’t get to set additional ones if it rules out something they want you to do.

        One of the really traumatizing-in-hindsight ‘No you aren’t listening’ moments of my youth group experience was when our Sunday School time was after the early service. They split everyone up into teams based on counting to two and had one group from each class brainstorm what Christian thinking about something was and the other brainstorm what the strawman nonChristian way of thinking about the same thing was.

        And I was a horrible disobedient person for not wanting to be in the ‘nonChristian’ group at all and have to get in that mental space, much less be the randomly assigned note-taker, less than thirty minutes after we’d celebrated the Lord’s Supper for one of only four times in the year and for all they knew it might have been my first time given how old I was at baptism.The only reason they assigned a different note-taker was that I was crying too hard to see through my glasses and shaking too hard to write. I was not permitted to switch groups and was made to feel like a horrible person. Oh and the spiritual high I was on from the Lord’s Supper went away and stayed away.

        (I am in a church that has no Sunday School for adults. A relative finds this questionable. I have been in ONE Sunday School class in my post-elementary life that was not damaging spiritually in some way and love not having to personally express a choice against attending Sunday School.)

    3. “It is not good enough just to follow the Bible, even to the letter of the law. You must also follow all of the arbitrary standards that have been created by fundies so that you can ‘avoid even the appearance of sin’. Such as: “What would someone think of you if they were watching you and you went to a movie theater, where “R” rated movies are shown?” and “Would you dig through a dumpster in hopes of finding a steak?” This was always what going to a movie theater was compared to: a dumpster. And rock music? You are going to ‘split hell wide open’.”

      As far as other entertainment is concerned, especially television, all of it, to them at least, is “immoral.” It doesn’t matter if there is no sex whatsoever and it’s an old Chicago Bears football game from 1985; it is still “immoral” due to the fact that it was on television then. Apparently, it’s that magic word–“television”– that makes it immoral. That’s just how I assess how fundies think.

      1. It’s all immoral — unless they want to watch it. In which case it becomes magically sanctified.

        “Standards” don’t mean a thing if you can move them around at your convenience. The word “standards” just means “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

      2. Yep. I was taught in that church to be afraid of pretty much everything outside of it’s walls. What should be taught is ‘discernment’ not fear or a strict series of rules and made up laws.

        1. Ben Masters, it was a video that my wife showed me. It was 2 years ago or more. We are both trying to find it right now, but aren’t having much luck.
          The words “getting to the heart of the fundy” are mine, but to me this video does exactly that. The video was created by someone feeding typed text into a program and the program created simple drawings of two people talking to each other, saying their respective lines to each other. The audio sounded like Stephen Hawkin’s computer.
          The part that I described as getting to the heart of the fundy was an exchange between the figures that went something like this: ( this is highly paraprased. I doubt I get much right but I do remember the jist of the conversation)

          fundy: What are you listening to?
          christian: Contemporary Christian Artist Chris Tomlin.
          fundy: that type of music is wrong.
          christian: why?
          fundy: because it is rock music.
          christian: Chris Tomlin is a highly respected singer of Christian music. why is his music wrong?
          fundy: it’s the wrong type of music
          Christian: Where in the Bible does it say what type of music is right or wrong.
          fundy. It doesn’t.
          Christian. then, where are you getting this?
          Fundy: we have STANDARDS.

          I don’t remember the rest. I feel that last statement truly is the heart of fundyism. ‘Take the Bible, add a bunch of strict laws, and then try to live up to that’.

          I’ll keep looking for the video, though.

  34. I sway between 4, 4b & 5, yet sometime feel ‘tempted’ to “backslide” back to 3. All in all, I largely drift between “3.5” & 4.5.

  35. Solid stage 5. I found myself looking up the term “deist” the other day. I still believe in Jesus, that He died for my sins. I still pray. I still wake up every morning thankful for another day. I just have bad vibes about church. I’m taking a long sabbatical. No irony intended using that word. A long break for personal discovery was recommended by my therapist. As well as traumatic stress therapy, but that’s another story all on its own.

    I also spent Easter Sunday gleefully shopping for new running shoes (perhaps my new religion?) and avoiding all things church. And saying the word Easter as much as I wanted without fear of being corrected that it’s Resurrection Sunday. so that was maybe a bit of 4 thrown in.

  36. I’m headed into step 5, but have gone back and forth between all the other steps at various times throughout my life.

  37. I don’t know where I am.

    My path was different. We’d already given up KJV-onlyism, women wearing only dresses, and not going to movies while still remaining KJV. I did listen to Steve Green and Michael Card and eventually started tentatively listening to KLove radio (lured in by Casting Crowns’ “The Voice of Truth”).

    My husband tried to help guide our church into following Christ’s words more than fundy tradition resulting (as those of you who’ve been around here know) in losing most of our congregation.

    I probably was in denial for a long time, for most of our ministry — we were fundies but we were “balanced.” We fellowshipped unofficially with other BJU-circle churches in our area but didn’t officially join their state organization. I definitely was angry — especially when people I’d loved and considered family rejected us and lied about us. And I certainly sunk into some pretty deep depression.

    Right now, other issues in my life are way, way, way more overwhelming so I’m a bit apathetic. Maybe that’s a form of depression or a different sort of denial or maybe just a sad, flat sense of acceptance (instead of the joyful triumph I once anticipated).

    Every time I thought I was moving toward healing I just ended more broken. One of these days I’ll be so broken you’ll be able to sweep me up in a dustpan.

    1. GEORGE!!! “While still remaining KJV” should read “while still remaining IFB”.

      Way to make my ramblings look incoherent there, George.

    2. George. I hate him.

      Pastor’s Wife, I know why fundies value “brokenness.” Ps 34:18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

      But we are only supposed to be broken hearted over our sins. Not ourselves! Brokenness is not supposed to be a permanent or recurring ‘quality’ of our lives.

      I can’t tell you and your husband what direction you should go. But you shouldn’t be subjected to perpetual abuse. It might be Time For A Change.

      The fact is that you are worth respecting — by others and by yourself. Your heart shown here is a person who does right, who wants the right things.

      It is time for you and your husband to recognize your own worth and to reject the voices saying otherwise.

      Leaving family, friends and ministry for something better takes time and planning. But for the sake of your immediate family and your own sanity you may have to start.

      You are important. You do not belong in the trash.

      1. Thank you.

        We have taken steps (sorry I can’t be more specific), but life has just ended up finding more ways to crush me than just through the church. It’s truly exhausting. I feel like we followed God into the wilderness only to be deserted there. I keep swinging between praising Him in this storm and saying, “Why have You forsaken me?”

        1. Yeah. Me too.

          And I am bound emotionally to the same faith system that produces despair because we are supposed to expect better from God in all areas of life. And we don’t get it.

          I am not sure how my faith “battle” is going to work out. I feel a bit like Jacob, demanding God’s blessings that He has promised but is unwilling to deliver. But I am going to keep wrestling and fighting, no matter how He tries to cripple me.

          It is either that or collapse in despair. Perhaps the future is mine to grab, not His to give.

          If He wants to start acting like a Good God, I’d be willing to observe that and listen. But while He acts like an unreasonable Bully, I can’t. Not anymore.

          I am saying things that frighten me terribly. I have always been told to trust God and wait on Him and depend on him. Now I am having to ride the bike without training wheels.

  38. Okay, after much deliberation I’ve decided to chime in….. really to just add this YouTube video of a Lauryn Hill song from a few years back….https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0HdzTvH8mvw..

    My understanding is that she wrote this song after defecting from the zionist propaganda music industry and their efforts to corral her into the pre planned image of their choice and then make use of her to deceive and mislead multitudes…….anyhow, the reason I bring to the attention of you folks is because I think that you are correct in many of the things you say on this blog…….that being said the words from this true singer/songwriter does justice and hopefully might be of some comfort to those who have been subjected to the unreasonable conduct of the ones who are supposed to care for and build you up on your most holy faith…..

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