Diana Herrmann's United Pentecostal Church Experience

After reading over this web site I felt compelled to share my story. First, let me say that it has been 15 years since I escaped from the UPC church that I was forced to attend by my parents. However, I am still trying to recover from the damage that UPC inflicted upon me.

My family began attending a UPC church when I was 8 years old. My alcoholic step-father and my depressed mother were perfect candidates for such an organization that preys on people who are unstable in one way or another. As a young child, I completely believed in what my parents and the church preached to me.

Because the creator of this site has done such a thorough job of stating what UPC is all about, I do not feel the need to go into a lengthy description of how we were forced to live. Our pastor preached that we must follow the holiness doctrine in its strictest form. Along with following the strict dress code, we were cut off from society. No TV, no movies, no radio, no music or books that were not approved by the pastor, NO LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH AT ALL.

I would like to focus on the way that my time in UPC from the age of 8 to 13 has had a profound impact on my life and the suffering that it has caused on my part.

The first thing that comes to mind is the lack of educational opportunity that was given to me. My sister and I were forced to attend the “church school” that was associated with our church. The education that I received there was sub standard with no teachers, but rather with “volunteer supervisors,” some of whom did not even have a high school education themselves.

As a result, after leaving the church in 1987 and being placed in a public school system, I was completely behind and could not even comprehend the schoolwork that was assigned to me. The fact that I was preaching to my teachers did not help matters either. I was disliked and ridiculed by both teachers and peers for my strange dress and beliefs and was tormented on a daily basis. At 16, I dropped out of school after failing the 9th grade twice.

I would like to add that several years later at 21 I got my GED and currently have an AA degree. However, in my Jr. year of college working on my BA I have once again been stopped in my tracks because of the effects of UPC. I have to take a course in college algebra and because I have absolutely no foundation from earlier years I am desperately trying to teach myself the basic math fundamentals that I should have been taught in elementary school.

I also suffer from depression which can be debilitating at times. I believe that my depression is a result of the years of physical and emotional abuse that I suffered at the hands of my parents and the church. I lived in fear for many years of being “left behind” because of my “unholy thoughts” and what have you. I endured having “demons cast out” of me and was even forced to go without my glasses that corrected my severe myopia because the pastor had prayed over me for God to heal my eyesight and I had to prove my faith by discarding my glasses.

Life on the outside was unimaginable for years. Not only did I grieve the loss of my “church family” but at 13 I had a hard time letting go of the holiness doctrine and once I did let go, lived in fear that I was a sinner and would go to hell for cutting my hair, wearing make-up, pants, etc.

After 15 years I am still struggling to make sense of my life after UPC. Or rather I am still trying to get a life after UPC. I feel that I have led a miserable life and continue to do so as a result of the bad choices that I have made as a result of my upbringing. I have been told to stop living in the past, but when one grows up in an abusive environment that offers no true guidance and destroys the individual spirit, the result can be catastrophic. I am a living testament to the hell on earth that is created for a child of UPC.

I would like to add that to the outside observer my life is not that bad. I have three beautiful children, good friends, and a wonderful job as a school bus driver for an amazing public school system. However, I live each and every day in emotional pain, with anger and regret for my lost childhood. Thank you for allowing me to share with you.

Diana L. Herrmann


Posted April 7, 2002

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