When I was ten years old, my younger sister became increasingly ill. She had always been frail; pale, thin, and lethargic — even her hair was thin and dull. This time my sister Missy (not her real name) was much worse. My older sister (who was then a teenager) tells me that my younger sister was too weak to walk to the bathroom and my father would carry her there frequently. My older sister would barrage my father with demands that Missy be taken to the doctor. My little sister was too weak to even attend Saturday church services where she might have been anointed by a minister in a ritual called the “laying on of hands.” The minister would take the sick person, and the parents if the person was a child, and go into a coat closet and close the door. There, everyone would kneel and the minister would take a small bottle of olive oil out of a pocket and place a dot of oil on the sick person’s forehead. He would hold his hand on the spot where the oil was placed and begin to pray. Everyone would bow their heads as the minister beseeched God to forgive this sick person of the sins for which she was being punished. When a person was too ill to attend services (which for us were an hour drive away from our hometown) the minister would send home an anointed cloth. It was a piece of gauze with a drop of oil on it that the minister had prayed over. The small square of guaze was ceremoniously placed in a small manilla envelope for safe keeping. At home, our parents would take us into their bedroom where we would all get down on our knees and one would hold the oiled cloth to our forehead and all heads bowed, praying that God would heal us. Some people take a spoonful of medicine. Not us. We got down on our knees and put oil on our foreheads and prayed. Sometimes we got better. Sometimes we did not.
Prayer and anointing were not working for my little sister. In her six years of life we couldn’t imagine what horrible sins she had committed to be so drastically ill. Armstrong explained, however, that “you might not have been guilty of any wrong, yet nature’s laws were violated or you wouldn’t be sick!” How’s that for double speak? Sickness and injury are the result of sin. Unless they’re not. But, hey, something caused it!
So my mom searched herself for what sin she must have committed to cause her daughter to be so deathly ill. I heard her murmered prayers from her room (Armstrongists go behind closed doors to pray in private) asking God to forgive whatever she has done to make my little sister sick. She always emerged from those sessions wiping tears from her face having sobbed the entire time.
Read the entire story here: Growing up in a Faith-Healing Cult
Make sure you read the comments section about the WCG member who was hit by a falling tree and what happened.