My name is "Brittany" and I stumbled across your blog quite by accident but I am glad I did. I have a story to share with you and your readers. I am keeping this post anonymous and have changed my name because I am afraid of being discovered with my story.
For seven years I was an active member of a small non-denominational church in the Northern United States. While I noticed some controlling behavior, it didn't bother me because I came from a broken home and loved the idea of being accepted into a family. Aside from Sunday services, I also went to church meetings and functions throughout the week and I was well liked within the congregation. One summer, I was offered a chance to be a missionary to Haiti with an outside church group. I jumped at the chance and my church family seemed to be behind me as it was a longtime dream. The only real trouble I noticed was that my church leaders seemed to have much more communication with the people I was travelling to Haiti with than I did. I also found that they were warning this group that I was 'immature'. (I am a professional adult with a good, stable life and they had nothing to base their accusations).
I went to Haiti and felt VERY controlled by the group that I was with. I told my home church about what was going on and they urged me to come home, so I did. When I got home, they were eager to pick me up and get me feeling better. Unfortunately, all I wanted to do was be alone and process things. They did not like that. I noticed things started to get really tense with my church. They stopped inviting me to functions and started to hold their gatherings in secret. I was promised to be included on certain activities but then they held them without me. People started blocking me from their phones and once great friends would no longer speak to me. Saddened and confused, I asked the pastor to arrange a meeting with myself and one of my church friends to get to the bottom of this excommunication. He agreed and I was relieved that this was all going to be settled. I arrived at the meeting expecting things to be worked out--but instead I was verbally assaulted and abused. Vile, horrible untruths were spoken about me; the pastor pointed his finger at me and spewed so much unholy anger. We didn't pray, we didn't try to reconcile, it was an all-out attack.
I have a medical illness that the church group knew about. When the stress of the situation started to put me in serious medical danger, they laughed at me and ignored my cries for help. I used my cell phone to make calls to people from the church that I knew. No one offered support for me. In fact, in the coming days no one would even confront the pastor about his behavior for fear that he would exile them as well.
During that meeting, several elders walked in unannounced and continued the ambush. I now believe that it was planned.
Aside from the PFA I obtained, there is nothing the police will do to shut this church down because of the separation of church and state laws in the United States. To this day I am haunted by nightmares and I always fear running into a church member when I am out and about. I know that they have tarnished my name in the town where I grew up and attended that church.
I would do just about anything to shut them down so that no one else has to go through what I went through. Physically, it took me 20 months to recover fully from their neglect of my medical condition. Spiritually, I am forever changed. I no longer support organized religion of any sort and have made it a priority to tell my story so that other people do not become spiritually abused.