I thought that some might be interested in reading excerpts from various letters I have received in response to this web site. Names and e-mail addresses have been removed. Letters used here may be slightly edited, but are not taken out of context. These places have been noted. I have also removed any personal references. Any errors in spelling, etc. have not been corrected. (For additional feedback from 1999 to mid 2003, see the links at the bottom of this page.)
October 16, 1997
"Lois, I have read your spiritual abuse website and liked what I saw. (personal info omitted)......
A former JW described the subject of spiritual abuse as the "lingua franca", or language of commerce, among all the cults. If you were knowledgeable on SA you could help anyone in any cult without knowing their specific doctrines. For that reason I have found the many books on SA very helpful in helping everyone who comes to me with cult related questions.
There is one book I recommend to you that you may not have heard of. It is Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur. It is Christian fiction and very therapeutic for abuse victims."
September 9, 1997
"I have been to see your web site and am impressed. You have done a lot of work. I will add a link to your site soon (when I get my act together).
Be encouraged. Persevere. There are very few with the courage to speak up/out. Elijah lived in a time like ours, with spiritual decline on every side. He finished up believing that he was the only one left, but God rebuked him saying that there were another 7,000 others.
But who were they? And where were they? I'm sure Elijah would have liked a bit of support from them... You will feel very much alone, sooner or later. But you are doing good work."
November 1, 1997
"...My wife attended (location & pastor of a UPC church omitted) ...
I had attended a UPC church (location & pastor omitted). My experience is more of "spiritually capping off". Let me explain. The pastor used the typical methods of control and manipulation. A friend who was the son of a UPC pastor (which was so sick and fed up with the hypocrisy, in his own words) said that what happens is the pastor encourages people into prayer, worship, getting involved, and they do this, then once they start to grow spiritually they tend to step out more and more...in the things of the spirit. Once the pastor notices this he feels threatened he will lose his control and does something to keep them under his control. Like telling them it's not the will of God for them to be a preacher..etc...or not go to bible college..what he did to me...so I would remain a faithful tithe payer i guess would be his reason in my situation. So this person gets hurt..the pastor notices something is wrong spiritually and encourages them to get right with GOd, get up and run around the church during service. I even spoke a message in tongues in one service and it was powerful..the entire congregation of 200+ people were silent waiting for the interpretation. but because i went against the grain, the pastor ignored me and gave some announcement. After I had left...many many incidents occured to one day I simply left...I don't have time to tell about them all...once I got out of the forest I was able to see the forests from the trees.. and see the methods of control and manipulation...and it is sickening.
...One thing i have decided in my heart is to keep the message of acts 2:38...and the other doctrines of Oneness..but not in a legalistic sense ...l do believe in modesty in dress and a woman having long hair..men having short hair..the scriptures concerning headship... and shorn..shaven..it describes headship paralleling it with the teaching that nature gives us about men-short hair women-long hair...I believe the pentecostal women are the most beautiful in the world if there hair is long and they have a sweet, meek and quiet spirit inside..but if not there just a pharisee...I dont think trimming dead ends off is a salvation issue..actually people in these churches who's conversation consists of about 50% on that have very shallow walks with God...and that is the pastors fault..they want them there... so they don't lose control..."
October 22, 1997
"Greeting in Jesus, I spent two years in bondage to the UPC church, the way that came about was I was raise in the trinity Pentecostal Church. ( Church of God) I went though a divorce and when I met a woman that I'm married too, she was raised in the UPC. I guess the reason we attended was that they are not judgemental towards divorcees, as the Church of God use to be. My experience was one of not being accepted, because I would not allow them to baptize me in Jesus name. ...I since moved on and God has bless us with a closer walk and a Church that teaches holiness. When I left the UPC I felt like one coming out of bondage."
September 19, 1997
"Thanks ours was a bible based or not bible based as it were. Church is in (location omitted). "Apostle/prophets" became more and more power hungry and as time went by they became more and more unchecked. Elders and deacons were powerless to challenge doctrine. Thought reform was prevalent and actually perfected. lot's of psychological abuse.
Time is the answer and I am currently re-evaluating doctrine after doctrine one freind actually suggested part of our problem was to much doictrine. We created more and more works to attain to all the while no one could actually attain excpt those who made the rules and then only because they made hte judgement as to what attaining was. ..."
October 24, 1997
"Have just visited your site and what Praise and Glory you show in the Lord I gave you a great big Amen... I liked you style and the way your handled the issue with love and respect.... I have been dealing in this area for over five years, counterfeits teachings of Christians Churches and Denominations, I run a website for this very thing (omitted). I am right now re-doing my site to include much more on this area of ministry.
Again I Praise you for a job well done, so many Churches today and people within there walls could learn much from what you have said........ Thanks you....
I will link to your site from mind site and God bless you....."
October 25, 1997
"Lois, I came across your home page while doing research of my own on spiritual abuse. I was a member of a church of Christ from 1981 to 1986 that was affiliated with the Crossroads Church of Christ. They are now known as the International Churches of Christ and are considered by man --that words should read "many"--to be a cult. At the very least, they have certain unhealthy practices and teachings.
I also grew up in a Southern Baptist church and read with interest the Baptist viewpoint on women's hair. I was struck by the comment that the preacher made about how all six of his daughters had long hair, "And how beautiful it is!" When I told my husband about that comment, his answer was, "As if they had any choice!" In other words, the girls had no say in how they were to wear their own hair.
I never personally struggled with the hair issue (I have short hair now because it's easier to take care of) but there are other issues I deal with that are as significant as I'm sure the hair issue was for you.
Thanks for allowing me to comment."
November 28, 1997
"Hello, I suppose you have had a very rough time in the UPCI during those 13 yrs. It may have been the Lord's purpose that u get tangled up with more legalism than with Holy Ghost fire in the Oneness UPC church u attended.
I am sorry about that. I was just telling Jesus as I read these Web pages concerning UPC as a cult etc. that He must be sad about it. But God is God and He controls everything. It may well have been His will, for what cause I cannot figure out and will rather not as human minds trying to analyse things usually will find a 'fault' some where along the line. I wonder why we humans we're even given the right to doubt the written Word of God??? (ooops there I go questioning as well!) Anyway Sister I pray u find real peace in whatever situation u r in now.
Let me introduce myself. My name is (omitted) (20 yrs)and a daughter of a UPC pastor in (location omitted). I help my dad in almost any ministry I can. And if I feel I'm starting to do things out of duty or responsibility I make sure Jesus renews a right spirit within me. And I love to serve the Lord in whatever form it takes. I have long uncut hair and like every other woman, I get sick of it esp. during summer.
Recently Bro. (name omitted) visited our main Church (as we are a daughter church) and ministered on the subject of uncut hair. He took some great readings with original translation backup from Corinthians etc. and caused the church to feel an anointing and understanding of the matter.
What I distinctly remember was why the apostle Paul wrote about women using their long hair whisch was God-made vs. a veil which was man-made. It was written during the time when the heathen women sacrificed their hair to the gods of their day and was telling the Corinthian Church that the women their do not need to sacrifice their hair to Jesus like the pagans did. The angels bit in I Cor. 11.10 showed that our uncut hair (the issue is not long but uncut) gives the sign to the angels that we r submitting our lives to God, which u probably already know. And only eternity will tell how many times an angel has saved us from destruction how the angel sof the Lord encamps round about them that fear Him, not the pastor.
Ok sis what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter what the commandment is that we read from the Word of God, if we love we will do it. And for most of us we don't see the 'earthly' or 'spiritual' purpose of it that's why we find it hard to obey and we doubt and question. But God is so much greater than all our little whims and weaknesses, He can deliver us even from those! If we feel differently against what those over us and what they teach then let God deal with them. We don't have go around 'sharing to others' our 'bad' experience with a certain Church. It's all for Jesus anyway. As Bro. (name omitted) said, 'It doesn't matter that in the wake of the rapture we find we could have lived 20 miles from the line or standards of holiness that 'we' have set as long as it is all for the Lord, lover of our soul anyway. We were doing it out of love for Him, out of thankfulness, because of what He has brought us from. As it is written somewwhere in the New Testament (don't even know! but u may be familiar with it) that he who has been forgiven from much will love Him more than he who lived righteously most of his life. A delivered drug addict wouldn't mind the standards of holiness set b4 him and certainly will learn it when he sees people in the church who r living holy. Plus he would be too in love with Jesus to even question any teaching. But for him who grew up in the Church and have seen all the legalism there is, he is sure to leave it and give out a 'testimony' to the world of how he has been treated. Jesus had totally been forgotten. Don't u think so? He starts doing research to prove his mistreatment etc. And the Holy Ghost becomes frozen inside. But He's still there.
I know that we have differing convictions, but the bottomline is always going to be Jesus......is Lord of our heart, mind, thought pattern, lives? Do we love Him with all that we have as was commanded to us. Imagine, the One who gives us everything we need, even COMMANDS us to love Him when it should be automatic don't u think? Mark 12:29-31
The Lord's peace and understanding be with u sis!"
November 15, 1997
"Lois, I just stopped by your site. You have done some great work there. I have focused at my sites (as you have) on things I am familiar with. I haven't had time to update my sites in the last several months and am doing so tonight (in the middle of the nigh <g>). ..."
November 1, 1997
"Hi Lois, Thank you for the address of your site--it has been very helpful already, and I haven't been able to spend very much time there yet. I can tell it's a place I'll be spending a lot of time at for a while!! It is obvious that the leaders of the shepherding movement will have a lot to account for when they stand before the Lord. Unfortunately, this movement has not been limited to the UPC but is very widespread, and, once entrenched is guarded carefully by those who benefit most by it. There are many other churches who spiritually abuse the body of Christ but are not a part of the shepherding movement, but they have the same motives and they are bound up in the same type of deceptions. There really is nothing new under the sun, and man's heart truly is deceitfully wicked. I'm so thankful that we serve a mighty God who can work miracles, He is not blind to what they are doing, and He loves his children." (Note: This person was notified that the UPC is not a part of the shepherding movement.)
November 4, 1997
" ...This ministry is very important, and the facts and testimonies will stand for themselves. Over time, you may find more people willing to tell their story or tell how UPC demands were dividing their attention from the Lord.
Both UPC and the old WCG (and current WCG in some ways) belong to an isolationist philosophy which exalts and worships the organization more than the Lord. Many inside this thinking do not see it this way, since they think that what they do for the group is also for the Lord -- but that is not true. What we do for the Lord extends far beyond people who are Christian, to our everyday walk. And when we share our money and time with people who are even not in our religion (like the Good Samaritan) then we are also serving the Lord. Getting over this time and money connection is hard for most all religious organizations because they have a vested interest in raising money and paying salaries -- but thankfully, there are many who see beyond this potential trap and can fund organizations in ways that don't isolate their membership from other Christians. ..."
November 19, 1997
"I am currently an active member of an UPC church and I want to thank you for your website. You made some very valid points. The greatest holiness standard God required of His church is that we love each other as Jesus (our example) loved. He poured out grace and mercy even when it went against the law as with the woman caught in adultery. I appreciated your attitude and spirit in representing your experiences. May God baptize us with His love that we can do what He has called us to do.....reach this lost and dying world."
October 29, 1997
"Thank you for your response and kind words. I have looked at your page and founnd it to be supportive. I think that I should start a group called "relig-anon". I am a Christian, but mainstream. To see what these grouyps can do is scarry, and against Chistianity. I'll think more anout it and see where it goes."
December 14, 1997
"My thoughts today were about how the group destroyed my self (thoughts, feelings, and perceptions). Slowly the group taught against things that were important parts of my self, ie family, friends, school, the world, babylon, ect. As I choose to not be part of these "worldly" institutions I replaced (or censored ) the self with a new self, one that I thought was the "new man".
I now reallize that what was developed was the cult persona or pseudo self. It eventually replaced my old self. We were taught that these old thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, was our "old man". It was actually our real self.
The self is not supposed to be replaced in Christianity; it is supposed to be regenerated and restored. We are not supposed to become zombies or clones but authentic and real. God does not want to destroy our self but direct and use it.
Once I left the cult I felt like a house of cards fell. Most of what I believed fell apart, when I no longer held to the doctrine of modern day apostles/prophets. Much of what I would have died to protect for 18 years vanished into thin air. Now I am left with the basic belief in Jesus, and the resurrection. I am currently trying to revive the old self that I had censored for years in hope of finding myself again.
Have you read or experienced any good marriage material for those who have left a cult? Was the UPC abusive toward women? My marriage has been 18 years in a cult that taught that women were of lessor value and as you read in my letter the abuse was rampent. I would like further study and or discussion.
Any thoughts along this line? Any interest in discussion?"
January 6, 1998
"I was in a UPC church for fifteen years and have just recently left. I could not have a book large enough to list all the abuses that occured there. The former pastor was forced down about two years ago and replaced.
He had abused his wife terribly foy years while pastoring. At one time he ran the church while living there seperated from his wife for almost six months. People were disfellowshipped and church fasts were always followed by roll calls in service to see who was fasting and who wasn't. Those that broke that fast were screamed at in front of the whole church. My father ate a piece of taost on the fourth morning of a seven day fast and was made to feel like a reprobate. He lasted about a year before he left.
Money was given in huge sums with no account as to where it went. We were told in leadership meetings about who participated in special offerings and who didn't. needless to say at this point I'm quite a mess. I don't pray and I don't read my bible. I am disgusted in some of the church activities I took part in. My wife and daughter are currently going to an assembly of god. I go on Sunday morning but that's as far as I will commit right now. Believe me this is the short version of this story but if it will help someone else that's new in the lord stay away from these abusive situations you can print it.
ps we did stay for awhile under the new pastor who promised he was not going to be abusive. There have already been new disfellowships. Need I say more. Meet the new boss same as the last guy."
December 27, 1997
"Hi there, Lois ..
Haven't seen you on aol for a while. Thought I'd send you an email to your juno address. Wanted to tell you that I've really enjoyed reading your website information. It has been .... enlightening to me.
Hope you keep it up and continue to update it. I've given the address to a few upc and xupc friends. The links to upc sermons are good as well."
January 16, 1998
"I want to start by thanking our Lord Jesus Christ for your ministries here in these pages. I am 28 yrs old and have been exposed to UPC's the majority of my life.
When I reached an age of about 16 my family was not involved in any church. I began seeking God on my on accordance. I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church. After about three years I felt as if my soul became thirsty for more spiritual truth. I began to understand the Baptist faith. I backslid at this point in my life.
Now I'm back in God's will and never been more blessed. I'm writing to testify that all UPC's are not of the same spirit that is spoken of here in these pages of this web site. My wife and I both was divorced in the past she has two beautiful children (from her previous husband)that I now call my own. We were married and baptized the same night by the pastor of the upc where we attend. We didn't think the Pastor would do it. And according to these letters I read here most upc pastors would not. She wears cut or short hair and even sometimes jeans to church. We are loved and well respected by the people of this church of approx. 200 people.
P.S. I also wear a beard and a mustache.
May God Bless us all."
December 21, 1997
Just got finished reading your WEBsite. I am a Pastors son. We are Apostolic. Although i am not a member of the United Pentecostal Church, i hold the same view on Doctrine as they do (We do NOT hold the same views regarding "outward" Holiness!). Although i do not agree on all the things that were said on your site..i must admit that it is well done! I hate to hear of all the problems that people have with Apostolic churches, but i must remind myself that these problems happen in all movements. I am convinced that the Apostolic doctrine is the true way to Salvation and knowing God. Thank You for your time!"
...& in a second letter the same day....
Glad to see your speedy response! I think that i may need to rephrase my statement reagrding not agreeing with your site. It is not that i do not agree with your site. I do not personally know the people in the court cases surronding the UPC, nor do i know of the pastors involved. I do tend to side with the pastors in a lot of cases (not necessarily in these cases). Seeing firsthand what an "accusation" in the church can do to a pastor, i do know that some of those that are the accusers tend to exaggerate a lot of facts. It has happned numerous times in my church. I have followed the Jason Scott case pretty well, and do side with him. His mother was clearly in the wrong, or at least her motives to remove her son were a little drastic.
I do not disagree with anything that you have stated (Besides possibly the Hair issue). I wish i could help you find a church in your area. You may want to contact World of Pentecost Church in Austin, Texas (www.wop.org) or you may want to contact (name removed) at Apostolic World Christian Fellowship (www.awcf.org) These men are Apostolic in Doctrine, but do not follow all of the so-called "Standards" of Holiness.
My church is not UPC. We do however encourage our Women to refrain from cutting their hair. We also encourage our women to wear clothing that are womenly in nature (to whatever personal conviction that pertains to is strictly held to the individual). We do allow Cosmetics, Jewlery, and TVs because we do not feel that they are dealt with directly in scripture. Of course, a church with 600+ people will have their opposing views held within the congregation. We allow ALL personal convictions to be paramount!
If i can be of any assistance..please feel free to let me know, or our Church."
February 16, 1998
"I have Pastor for the last 30yr as well as working as State Evangelisam Director for the Church of God in (city & state omitted). Back when I first started preaching I would preach some of the teaching of our church on Hair,Cloths.Makeup and so on thinking I was doing to help God out. The only thing I doing was killing brand new baby for God. One day the Lord told me to stop killing his sheep, I ask him what do you mean? His reply to me is this "I have called you to preach, so let the Holy Spirit do the work. We have for year try to help God only to find many do not get saved because of our judgemental view. I'm so gald God looks at on the inside not on the outside. Jesus love for you is determined by the lenth of your heir. May God keep you in his Love."
February 16, 1998
My name is (omitted) and I am 14 years old and attend a UPC church. I have only one thing to say to some of these experinces. You say that the UPC is to controling. I for one have not felt that way and here is why. Many people say they had a bad experince and say that the world is better but let me tell you something. You can not judge the pentecostal religion by just puting part of your body into it and in the world case your whole body. What you need to do is go all out in this way and try it for a while and then make your own decision. I am not judging you because it is not my place. So please before you guys write something try it.
Thanks and God Bless"
February 22, 1998
Though i was involved with a church that later became UPC when I was a teen, by the time I returned to my faith I was led to an POAC church and, then later to Pentecostal Holiness where I hold Mission Workers papers, at the moment because of work restraints I do little that is directly linked to the church.
Having been abused Spiritually by men in their efforts to dominate me in what God has shown me to be ungodly as in Christ there is neither male or female. I have found most abuse seems to come in the form of personal kingdom building and I doubt any denomination is totally free of it just some are more open to correction or have better systems of over sight.
It seems of late that many well meaning men and probably women too have forgotten we are called to serve not to rule. I am begining to believe that this is one of the marks of the end time it sure is doing the work of anti-christ.
It is so sad to people that you know are called of God getting decieved into abusive methods and ego trips, building their own kingdoms instead of God's.
God bless you and continue to share your walk and recovery with the body there are many out there that have suffered abuse at the hand of men of "God" who have lost their way. Our God is a big God and He is able to bring us through in victory!!!
One of my faveroite verses is :
Jer. 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
And as we get to know our God it is amazing the freedom He has given us, and how He loves us!! Anything that takes our attention from Him has got to be abusive.
Sorry I got so long winded but this is a topic that i hard not to run on about. I too have a page I hope it will be a page for recovery (omitted).
Thank you for your page.
In Christ's Service"
February 21, 1998
" ... (portions omitted) I am a little concerned that many people just want a forum to express their disgruntled and embittered statements. Please try to keep a balance in reporting the experiances of the hurt and disappointed. There are many wonderful people in the group and much good is being done by the group as a whole. I have endured slanderous and maliciousness from some after leaving but also some have treated me with respect. Please make it clear that not all UPC preachers are ignorant and isolationist. Many are and that is unfortunate. People must learn to exercise the grace they say they have found after leaving. I also socialize with some who are out who are still arrogant but now it is against the organization. Arrogance is still wrong no matter which direction it is pointed. We can learn to accept people who do not accept us. I have read much of your page with amazement and consternation. I feel for the hurting but everyone must move beyond the past into the blessed future. God bless you."
March 9, 1998
"I was so very sadden to read the many testimonies of the people that had left the UPC. I realize we are not perfect and there are certainly those that are less than kind, but this has been the case since the early church. I left a Trinity church 24 years ago and I have never been hapier, I raised my two children in the UPC also and they are most happy. One is 21 and the other is 27. They are free to choose and they chose to stay on the UPC. Had they decided to leave it would have broken my heart but I would have still loved them. I still love people that do not agree with me and we are not the only ones with the truth."
March 7, 1998
"(part omitted) For those who sent in letters about their experience in the UPC and recieving the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues as "magic or mystical" I feel sorry for it appears they have been decieved.
Having spent almost 3 years in the UPC movement, I agree there is control, manipulation and spiritual abuse. Presently, I am not involved in the UPC but still regard these folks as my brothers or sisters. If you really want to see where the rubber meets the road, perhaps the UPC can be labeled "pharisees". If you do a study you will see the parallel between the pharisees in Jesus day and the UPC organization. No, not ALL UPC organizations are the same, No, not all ministers are power hungry and controlling, but, it is ALL of the same system, whether it be UPC, AOG, COG, SBC, or whatever. You see, the early church was guided by a "plurality of elders", this modern day system of a "one man pastor" is something handed down from the Roman Catholic Era. The early church met in homes, the Edict of Milan back in the days of The Roman Catholic Empire, brought on the building of Christian Edifices. It is sad to see these so-called churches passing an offering plate for money to pave the parking lot (which only gets used 2-3 times a week) or laying new carpet when there is a family sitting in the back pews who may not have enough money to buy groceries that week or decent clothes for their children. It is sad to hear the pastor begging for money to build a new building when the building they have now is 3/4 empty! Don't tell me it doesn't happen, I have sat in those kind of services myself and seen it happen.
One thing that may help anyone wanting to study the scriptures objectionally, is to learn to apply the rules of hermanutics, apply the laws of historical and cultural context to the scriptures. Our society, has modeled and shaped the church of today into a business. The church in America has been "Americanized". Started like a corporation, run like a corporation, and behaves like a corporation. The pastor being the CEO and the rest of the congregation the employees. The "one man pastor" being what may be called "a surrogate Jesus"
Realizing that many may think or suppose I'm kooky, rebellious, or even the anti-christ for speaking out like I have, the Berean's searched the scriptures to see if those things be so..."
March 21, 1998
I just found your site the other day. I haven't had a chance to look at everything yet, but I'll be back!
About 1 1/2 years ago my husband and I came out of a spiritually abusive church (not UPC). While we were still there one of the women made a comment to me about my hair. I used to wear it very short and at the time I had one long thin braid in he back. I never thought twice about it until this woman convinced me that the hairstyle was demonic. She had been a believer much longer than I, so I believed her and had my husband cut my tail off.
It's just amazing to me how people can get so far from the truth by twisting Scripture and taking Scripture out of historical context. Like in the Scripture ou had mentioned about men's heads not being covered and women's heads being covered, I've heard that at that time male prostitutes wore a certain type of head covering, so that would be offensive to God. I can't remember where I saw that, but I found it interesting.
If these people would put as much zeal into the truth of God's word, can you imagine what could be done?
Keep up the good work!
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August 23, 1997
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