A Place of Support for Ex-Cult Members, People Facing Major Transition in Spirituality
I Was Born into a Religious Cult called Branhamism.
In 2013, after a period of deep and profound questioning, my family and I escaped.
There’s a part of my life that many people know very little about. And yet, I would describe it as he most impactful thing that’s ever happened to me.
We don’t choose the circumstances we arrive into at our birth. For me, my parents (and most of our extended family) were members of a religious group that followed the teaching of William Branham.
For most of my life, whether directly or indirectly, Branhamism had an enormous impact of my life and all the choices I made. I was unaware of how it affected me through my younger years. As an adult when I embraced the religious practices, it’s something I didn’t talk about to most people because while it was the most central part of my life, I knew it was unusual. If ever I opened up, it was in a moment when a ‘door’ seemed right to share it. That didn’t happen often – and so most people wouldn’t know at all what I was involved in.
At 35 years old, after serving as an Associate Pastor for the better part of 10 years, I arrived at the realization I was a member of a religious cult. To say that was a pivotal moment in my life would be an incalculable understatement.
Since 2013, I have been in a ongoing process of recovering and healing what broke upon walking away from everything I knew and believed. The fallout is hard to explain.
I had lived my life under an extraordinary amount of fear. My views of myself, the world around me (politics, economics, education, morality, spirituality, individuality, history, science, etc) had been defined by this upbringing. Suddenly, all I knew collapsed into a heaping pile of uncertainty. Most of all, I was left with the realization that I had given away years of my life to an ideology that wounded me personally. It’s hard not to take inventory of the losses with deep, sorrowing regret; it’s beyond painful.
If ever you’ve been a friend to me in years past, and you found it strange how I walked around the edges, sat in the corners, avoided connecting, distanced myself when you emotionally reach out in friendship – and in some cases, walked away altogether – my heart remembers with sorrow. I was not popular. I was rarely rejected. But it was me who closed doors and shrunk away.
I was afraid. I was always afraid. But I’m healing.
In 2013, I launched a support website for people impacted by Branhamism.
As a former pastor in a fundamentalist, ultra-conservative church – I am very familiar with how hard it is to ‘walk-away’ when an individual develops legitimate concerns. I have been a voice of support for members of my former religious community, offering perspectives and supportive content that informs and encourages them towards the issues they face. Interestingly, there is a common thread between all groups which practice forms of ‘undue influence’ to control behavior and group-think. Over the years, I have received hundreds of messages offering gratefulness or stories of shared experience, even if they were not members of our particular sect.
I do not write often with Morning Mercy now, as it took an emotional toll. But it’s something I proudly maintain.