I finally left the ICC in 2012, ten years ago.
The final straw, after enduring years of emotional manipulation and abuse in ICOC and ICC congregations in several cities, was when I had my second child.
I knew in my heart that there was no way in HELL that I wanted my children to grow up in the environment that I had lived in for the preceding 15 years.
The church had done an excellent job at conditioning me to be afraid to leave. All of my friends were in the church, since as part of joining the cult I had to pretty much cut off any close relationship outside of the group.
Since leaving the ICC and ICOC, I have gone back to school to get a series of nursing degrees: RN BSN and then nurse practitioner.
My years of abuse continue to echo in my mind.
I try not to think about it. I focus my attention on positive things in the present and hopes for my future.
It's kind of embarrassing to look back and know that I fell for everything at all, and that I fell for it for so long. But humans are stubborn (or at least I am). So once I went down the wrong path it was very hard for me to steer away from it. I mean, when I got baptized I swore that I would remain in the church until my death! That is no small thing.
So do I regret leaving Kip's church?
Not for one second.
I DO regret taking as long as I did to leave though.
The fifteen years wasted .. burned out of my life, forever. My prime years of youth and vitality. Donated to a cynical and corrupt man and system who immediately threw me away like a piece of trash the moment it was clear they could wring no more value from me. And then trash-talked me to all of my friends and acquaintences in the church about what a terrible person I was. Not because they cared about me at all. Only because they wanted to continue to wring money and whatever else from all of them, and the last thing they wanted was for anyone else to wake up and leave the fold.
But they say that when life gives you lemons .. make lemonade.
So after going through all that trauma, it allowed me to relate with other people who had also suffered.
When I went to nursing school, I figured I would get a job working in an ER somewhere. However, I discovered psychiatric nursing - something that I literally did not even know existed before I started nursing school.
I was one of the tiny minority of nursing students who felt right at home in psych.
I went into psychiatric nursing straight from graduation, landng a very well-paying job. Then with the encouragement of my boss and mentors, I went back to school to become a pschiatric nurse practitioner. Now I work from home making four times more per year than I ever did while in the church, while working way, way fewer hours.
As a grown man, I enjoy not having to endure stupid, ridiculous "advice" ordering me around from anyone in the church. (Oh, they had me indoctrinated very well. I was convinced that it was a spiritual virtue to be humble and directable and do what other people told me to do. I wish I could reach every single other person in that position now and somehow help them to realize that the church truly does NOT care about them. Very sadly and bitterly true, and verified so many times by so many people - the church cares about its leaders, its income, and its image. Individual members are resources to be used up and then discarded the way corporate America does or the way a narcissist does.)
I enjoy not having to do the mental summersaults to try to continue convincing myself that the beliefs of the church could somehow make some sort of sense.
I enjoy not living in fear. Fear of failing. Fear of not living up.
Is anything that you ever do in the ICC or ICOC ever good enough?
I enjoy no longer feeling that I am being emotionally manipulated.
I enjoy not having to endure eternal sermons about how I need to sacrifice even more money. Money that overwhelmingly goes to support extremely comfortable lifestyles for the organization's top leaders.
If you are a member, do you realize that over 90% of all your donations goes to pay for staff salary and perks? The church as a whole could hire triple the number of staff, or more, and have them live reasonably well-off. They demand that YOU make the sacrifice, so that THEY can spend it on themselves. You can see it in all but the very smallest congregations - the evangelist makes more money than any other person in the entire church, except for, in some cases, possibly one exceptionally wealthy member. Is that anything like Jesus' example, or that of Paul or any of the other apostles? No, of course it is not - it is the complete opposite. And so much of your effort goes to that offering, and special contribution. You know that the often-touted "rent for this room we are in" is something like 3% of the contributions right? And "giving to the poor" is literally 1% of the church's contribution. One freaking percent to be spread among possibly dozens or hundreds of people, while ~90% goes to the lead evangelist couple. Sick.
So yes, I am glad to not be constantly scammed out of my time and my money. Glad to not be lied to. Glad to not be the annoying religious person at work, family gatherings, or other.
I am glad to have my life back.
And yes, I am very, very glad that my children are not growing up in that place.
I have a few thoughts:ReplyDelete
First, you left 10+ year ago, but what have you done for God since? You have excelled in life (congrats) but where has the "fruit of the spirit" led you to produce the fruit of discipleship? You felt controlled, manipulated, deceived, traumatized & unvalued; it is impossible to measure, but how much of this was due to your own independent spirit? How much due to your love for money? How much due to you being self deceived and not wanting to "give up everything?" No one will ever say you were treated flawlessly, or claim various mistreatments occur, but if I see ANYTHING whatsoever in this blog, it is that after leaving, you went and turned yourself into a god. If I was aware someone around me was feeling ANY of the ways you say, I would want to love, listen, & gently help the catalyst of those feelings disappear. While not everyone in every church is mature enough to consider others greater than their own needs, you claim to be well travelled. As a result, surely SOMEWHERE you encountered at least one shepherd. Based on what I read from you, it doesn't seem like you "made every effort." If you did, your heart would be resolved this many years later. Additionally, you didn't "make every effort" to make peace with your fiscal complaints. As someone with access to a multitude of finance spreadsheets, the distribution is virtually the opposite of your claim. I don't know what your source is, but it certainly isn't anything recent or official. I want to see data to support those claims. This especially rings true regarding the staff salary and missions. Again, to echo my sentiments at the start of this commentary, it just seems like you left church, to become your own god. This "itching ears" styled writing feels more like an overflow of oppositional defiant disorder and not someone genuinely looking to righteously separate themselves from sin in order to seek God with all their heart.
^^ I'm sorry and I don't mean to be rude at all... just sounds like lots of condemnation in that first comment, with little compassion for the tough transition that's taken place. No desire to start an argument or anything but just wanted to point that out..ReplyDelete
Author, thanks for sharing your story. I pray you find a healthy way to relate to Jesus. I am wrestling through finding the balance between grace and truth. Between following Jesus and setting all my burdens down under his peaceful yoke. (Matthew 1128).
^^^ I apologize for coming off that way. It wasn't my intention of course & no, you weren't rude. I understand and appreciate your concern. While i agree that greedy ministers shouldn't exist, too many people leave the body of Christ in exchange for the fruit of the world basically doing the same sin. I'm not Jesus, so I'm not here to call people vipers or but the occasional hard line question is reasonable. Much love stranger.ReplyDelete
To "Anonymous January 10, 2023 at 12:37 PM":ReplyDelete
Many of the points that you make *might* be valid *if* someone interprets the Bible the same way you do and/or believes in the same concept of "god" that you do.
But in reality, many of us (not all, or even most, but many) who have left the ICOC/ICC have, after leaving, done a lot of introspection and truth-seeking and have come to a point of no longer believing in the divine inspiration of the Bible, or even in the existence of "god" as defined by theistic religions such as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.
I consider myself in this latter camp. Though I am hesitant to call myself an outright atheist, I am quite sure that if such an entity as "god" exists, he/she/it is probably far beyond our ability to comprehend or put a label on. Our best guesses, or the guesses of the founders of the thousands of religions that ever existed, are no more likely to be correct than if a thousand dogs were to try to guess how quantum physics work.
As for the Bible: it is so loaded with scientific and historical inaccuracies (and even absurdities) that I cannot take it as a literal source of truth. And if it’s wrong about these basic things, then how can we expect it to be accurate about *anything*?
So, you see, many ex-ICC and ex-ICOC people have evolved in their outlooks to the point that your rantings about "God" and of Biblical topics like "fruits of the spirit" and "itching ears" and "discipleship" no longer resonates with them.....because they no longer believe that these things are true. It's as if someone were to preach at you from the Book or Mormon.
Finally - if your version of Christianity (ICC/McKeanism) is true, then why is your church every bit as filled with heinous behaviors as every other church? Greed, arrogance, abuse of leadership authority, widespread pornography addiction among members, and now we hear of pedophilia and statutory rape??? Just like the Catholics, who ship offending priests off to different parishes to continue their abuse while doling out secret NDA-protected payoffs to victims, the ICOC/ICC does the same.
And if so much of Christianity and the world of churches in general is polluted with the same sewage as the rest of the world - then how can any reasonable person think that Christianity in *any* form is a legitimate faith, let alone the one true faith.
You have to have been a member to understand the author. The author is showing he was able to be independent. Many in the church preach doom and gloom and you will fall on your face if you leave the church. To the author I hope you found another church home as a psych NP I am sure you identified the patterns of spiritual abuse and the environment of narcissism in the church and those with personality disorders. It does take time to process and Heal from the experience because you convince yourself that you can not be a Christian outside of the ICC and ICOC. This is why a lot of people lose their faith when they finally leave and have enough the brainwashing often times still work because the person lost their faith, engages in self loathing, have a spirit of suicide due to time lost or relationships that were severed. I like many aspects of the ICC or ICOC but it is dangerous for those who are not able to have a healthy experience while members and those who leave due to having an unhealthy experience. The ICC or ICOC experience can be life changing for the positive or the negative a lot of people have negative experiences due to the cycle of spiritual abuse and the normalization of it and the pattern of spiritual drama, forgiveness, and guilt associated with speaking up and not forgiving and forgetting. It’s alot of mind games and wrarped beliefsReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing. I just got restored to ICC but I realised I made a mistake that I should not be back to this church. Now I feel like I'm stuck and don't know what to do with that. Afraid to leave.ReplyDelete