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Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Questions For the" Born-In the church": What's Your Story?
In the days of old, generations ago, many of us in the Worldwide Church of God were victims of a culture of conformity. A culture that refused to accept that differences and diversity, not just of personality, but of opinion. The expectation was of assimilation into the precise expectation defined specifically by Herbert Armstrong as to exactly what defined not only a Christian, but a human. Not only a father, but a king. Not only a leader, but a ruler. The definitions were intrinsic, the calculations exact. You were a Worldwide-er. And if you did not fit the mold, you certainly got told. And for those who did not assimilate, in no time you were shown the gate.
Growing up in the Church, however - was a slightly different story. There was no gate. What there was, was a two-punch indoctrination - first, from your parents, and then, when you understood, from the Church in general. Once you entered into school, the contradictory information began to infiltrate your mind. Then, the counter-information to fight the contradictory information came forth from your father, mother, pastor, and church leaders. You were told that what the counter-informers said was wrong and from the dark side, even though it made sense. You were told that what the church and parents said was right, even though it was obviously - except for some elements - wrong.
Yes, you knew the basics were common sense and made sense. The ten commandments - sure, those made sense. Respect and honor - yeah, that made sense. It was everything else that didn't make sense.
We have to stop eating leavening for seven days. But yet, this seems to be leavened - doesn't it?
We have to stop eating and drinking for twenty-four hours. What bad thing will happen if we do?
We must avoid working from Sunset to Sunset on the Sabbath. But yet, we're all working, aren't we?
We can't eat pork because it's an unclean food. Yet, my friends eat pork, and they're healthier than I am. What gives?
We are commanded to go to tithe three tithes - yet we're dirt poor and impoverished, and can't live, while our ministers live high on the hog and the big guys out west live in luxury. Why don't they see this as a problem?
And this isn't even scratching the surface on the questions of a young person in the Church. There were many more questions and not enough answers. The expectation of the young person in the Church was to simply answer any question with "Maybe I don't understand now, but someday I will." Or, "Perhaps I don't get it because I'm not baptized yet". Or, and I heard this from other youth lots of times... "This isn't for me, but I have no choice, but once I'm old enough, I'm out."
There was a sizable portion of Church Kids - the Y.O.U., if you will - who never really bought into the game. They had no choice to attend or not to attend - they were going, and that was that and case closed. So they went. They attended sabbath services that were absolutely inappropriate for them. They went to the feast, they skipped school sports and activities - but internally, they felt angry and deprived - and in some cases, even robbed. Certainly, misunderstood, rejected, and a fish out of water from everyone else. The questions, such as those examples above - were never sufficiently answered. And what this caused was, for many, a mass rebellion of the youth and a slammed door shut on the church that they grew up with. But for these young people, the damage was done.
The Church had attempted to do damage control with such programs as S.E.P., Y.O.U., Church sports programs, talent shows, youth trips, outings, Bible bowls, district weekends and the like - but did these really do the trick in retaining the youth of the Church? The answer is a resounding no for the majority. How many of the youth in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, out of the nearly 100,000 that were in the Church in and around that time - remain in Armstrongism now? Why didn't they stay?
Here's the question that I am posing specifically for those who grew up in the Worldwide Church of God, who were raised in the Church from birth, and are no longer: 1) In Armstrongism, 2) A Church-goer, or 3) Religious. Why did you leave?
What was your rationale? What was the breaking point? and finally, where are you now? Do you have anything additional to add? What's YOUR story? Please use the comments to answer, I'm looking forward to your answers.