Sunday, July 13, 2014

FLDS Film Premieres Tonight on LMN

They've been playing cult-related films all day, but this one airs at prime time.  Wish I'd have known about all of them in advance!  Link to LMN.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Be a Weed!

Courtesy of Planet Natural, with a hat tip to Gina Catena, a successful, accomplished SGA Extraordinare!

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Instructions RE: Registering for ICSA in Silver Spring!

It looks like the online registration system isn’t working in the way that I understood that it would.    

So here’s the new plan…

(that is -- if you couldn't register online...)

For both pastors who would like to come on Wednesday to learn about the Safe Haven Project and for those from in recovery from Sovereign Grace Ministries:

1.  Make sure that I have both the first and last names of all who are coming.  THE MOST CRITICAL PART of the process is getting your names to those who are in charge of registration so that you can get the scholarship.  If I don’t have your name in advance, I can’t ask for the scholarship.

2.  The conference agenda can be found HERE.

3.  Pre-conference events (held on Wednesday) can be found HERE.  There is a session on family issues, and there is a very good talk at 2PM for former group members (members of a spiritually abusive church).  This is separate from the Safe Haven Project workshop by the Pardons.

4.  Complete this registration form and email it back to me.  If that’s a problem, try to bring the completed form with you to the conference when you register.   (Again, it is more critical that I have your name.)

5.  If you’re coming to a Pre-Conference workshop, please also fill out this online questionnaire

6.  I’ll pass everything on to registration.  (You can also complete the form at the conference, but we would like to have the forms in advance if possible.)

7.  Please give a donation to ICSA if you are able, considering that they’ve generously offered scholarships.

Concerning the SGM survivor meeting on Thursday Evening with Bob and Judy Pardon:

We will have more detailed information at the registration table.  Plan on 7PM, but I believe that we will have access to the room beforehand.

Contact me by email if you have any issues.  (I now have internet access!)

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Calling all Pastors and those in the DC area who are in recovery from Sovereign Grace Ministries!

I am happy to announce that after dinner on July 3rd, at the International Cultic Studies Association conference at the Sheraton in Silver Spring, Rev. Bob and Judy Pardon have offered to hold a discussion session for former members of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) if they would like to come. (Think of it as a care group that is really the best kind of care group!)

I've obtained permission to get scholarships for people in the area who attended SGM churches. You need to contact me for instructions about how to get the waived fees if you would like to come. 

There are several good discussion sessions on Thursday about boundaries in high demand groups, a session about “Who am I” after leaving spiritual abuse, and one about how grief becomes disenfranchised within families within spiritually abusive groups. There are also two sessions specifically dealing with spiritual abuse in Christianity, and I'm giving a presentation on the abuse of Christian counseling programs in Evangelicalism.

I can also arrange for a scholarship if anyone would want to attend the Pardon's presentation on the Safe Haven Project on Wednesday at 2PM, geared at training pastors how to respond to the needs of the spiritually abused.

To get the waiver/scholarship, please contact me for instructions. I would ask that you consider giving ICSA a donation, however.

I hope to see you there!

More about Reverend Robert (Bob) Pardon:

"We live, in fact, in a world
starved for solitude, silence, and private;
and therefore, starved for meditation
and true friendship."
C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis is a favorite author of Robert Pardon, M.Div.,Th.M. When Lewis wrote the above statement about the lack of solitude and true friendship, he might have been describing the reality in which so many cult members find themselves.

It was in order to respond to that desperate reality that Reverend Pardon, along with others, founded MeadowHaven, a long-term rehabilitation facility, which opened in 2002. Earlier on, during his 15 years as a church minister, Rev. Pardon had begun to sense the need for a place where those abused by cults could find refuge. Eventually, he and several others were able to acquire a building in Massachusetts that had previously been used as a nursing home. After extensive renovation and repair, they opened the residence to former cult members, with Rev. Pardon as Executive Director.

Because it is a full-time facility, people who have exited cults may stay for as long as a year. There they can gain the peace and solitude necessary to heal from the often horrific cultic experience they have endured. In discussing his work, Reverend Pardon says that he feels "enriched by having the privilege of sharing in the pain of others." He loves his work and feels that his own experience has been enhanced by "knowing our efforts have literally saved some lives."

Bob Pardon studied at the University of Michigan, earning a B.A. in Religious Studies, followed by a Master’s in Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Master’s in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. For eight years he pastored a church in Middleboro, Massachusetts and then, for seven years another church in Watertown, Massachusetts. 

It was during this time that he was confronted by what he describes as people "brutalized in the name of God." With the Bible at the center of his life, he felt the need to respond to the suffering he saw. Always striving for personal integrity, and "a deeper walk with Christ," he was compelled to get training himself in dealing with the unique and complex issues that excult members have to deal with.

C.S. Lewis once said, "The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift," and this seems to be the guiding principle of MeadowHaven; Rev. Pardon shares that the thing he finds most inspiring is "seeing severely damaged lives salvaged and made meaningful." MeadowHaven is located in Lakeville, Massachusetts. Rev. Robert Pardon is also Executive Director of the New England Institute for Religious Research.

More about Judy Pardon:

Judy Pardon is living the life she always wanted. "My ultimate desire was to help others change their lives for the better," she says. Judy is Associate Director of MeadowHaven, a long-term rehabilitation center for people who have survived the trauma of cults.

As a young teacher, Judy became aware of the problem extremist and destructive groups caused. She educated herself about the issue, and, spurred to help, became involved. She earned a Master's in Counseling and eventually became a founding member of the New England Institute for Religious Research. Side by side with her husband, Robert Pardon, Executive Director of MeadowHaven, she helped found the center, working on the renovation of the building, along with many volunteers.

What MeadowHaven is meant to provide for its residents is sanctuary, a place to rest and recover. For Judy, one of the saddest things is that people are abused "in the name of God. Their experience of God has been tainted." The center is non-denominational. Judy explains, "We never 'preach....' I simply live my life as a Christian before them and pray that they gain a different understanding of God."

After so many years' experience with former cult members, Judy's advice is that "their experience in the group was not all 'bad. '" At MeadowHaven, "Part of the healing process is to sort out what they want to keep from their experience and what they want to throw away. They will gain the categories with which they are able to make such assessments and then they will be able to help others to heal as well." One of the things that Judy admires most about ex-cult members is their perseverance, loyalty, and commitment.

Judy Pardon loves her life. "We have had so many incredible moments.... We are so blessed."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Educational Workshop About the Experience and the Needs of the Spiritually Abused in Silver Spring, MD

A note from Cindy Kunsman:

Rev. Bob Pardon and Judy Pardon who operate Meadowhaven, a recovery center for those who have exited high demand groups, will be giving a workshop discussing the phenomenon of spiritual abuse.  If you live near Silver Spring, MD and can attend on Wednesday, July 2nd at 2PM, please feel welcome to attend.  The workshop will be held before the Annual International Cultic Studies International Conference at the Sheraton Silver Spring on Georgia Avenue.

From the little formal information we have on the subject, those who suffer harm in a spiritually abusive environment find that most ministers lack understanding of what they have endured.  This effort aims to help educate Christian pastors about spiritual abuse, equipping them to meet the needs of this underserved but growing population of people.  The very best experts in this area will be in attendance at the conference.

I’m honored to be part of this developing ministry.  If you live outside the area, we have developed a speakers bureau and may have someone who can visit your church or group.    Please contact me if this time is inconvenient but you wish to attend.  I may be able to work out a time to review the material at a gathering in the evening sometime during the week following the workshop.

From the ICSA Webpage

People who leave a Bible-based cult usually have great difficulty integrating into a church because of the spiritual abuse they have suffered in the “Name of God.” This spiritual abuse can be so destructive that it harms the deepest and most intimate aspects of a person’s being, making trust and commitment to spiritual counseling near impossible. Often, they have been “inoculated” against the Church by their group, and are filled with fear and anxiety. It is not unusual to hear former members say, “No one in my church understands what I am still going through – not even my Pastor.” Simply understanding the cult’s destructive doctrines is not enough for the former member, or the church. Former members' anxieties are often so severe that if they find no one who understands, they may see only four options: stay in the church and be miserable; church hop; leave the church entirely; go back to their group. 
We are looking for people who are interested in expanding this program into Jewish and other faith communities; so please join us.
This workshop attempts to open up the world of former cult members to the Church, and to sensitize it to the hurts and needs of these people. Topics to be covered are:
  • Tactics and strategies, denominationally and locally 
  • Necessary approaches for a “safe” church or synagogue
  • Understanding categories; heretical vs. aberration, “wounded sheep”, etc. 
  • Components of a competent lay and pastoral approach

~   ~   ~  

Please contact Cindy at UnderMuchGrace AT gmail DOT com for information and questions about tuition.  ICSA does charge a tuition for the workshop, but if this is a hardship, please contact me to pursue a scholarship.  I’ve asked for special consideration of the survivors of Sovereign Grace Ministries who may wish to attend.

~  ~  ~  

About the Pardons:  

Judy Pardon, MEd, has been a teacher and a counselor. Since 1992 she has been Associate Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research and Meadowhaven, where she has worked with former cult members, including some who have experienced profound trauma. She has also spoken widely on the subject and conducted training programs for human service personnel.

Robert Pardon, MDiv, ThM, is the Executive Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research and MeadowHaven. During the past several years he has specialized in Bible-based communal groups. Much of his work involves counseling, support groups, working with those born and/or raised in groups, and helping former members rebuild their lives. To facilitate the recovery process MeadowHaven, a long term rehabilitation facility was opened in 2002. It can accommodate individuals or families who require long term (up to a year) care to recover from trauma and cult abuse.

About MeadowHaven:  

MeadowHaven exists to provide a refuge for former members of high control, destructive groups to rest, heal, and grow. By understanding their experience in an abusive environment and acquiring the skills necessary for life outside the group, MeadowHaven helps former members recover their ability to be thriving contributors to society. Healing is fostered in the context of healthy community, relationships with other former members with similar experiences, and a supportive staff who understand the processes of thought reform, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), identity confusion, chronic emotional disturbance, etc.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stages of Leaving a Diseased Culture (Considering Homeschooling)

Leaving a “worldview” like the high demand end of Christian homeschooling usually happens in stages because we're trained to defend our Sacred Science at all costs. Sometimes we get stuck. And sometimes, we don't realize that we're only half way out.

Some of the elements of the belief system, that worldview's sacred cows, are easy to give up. Some lead to our disillusionment. Some created pain for us while living fully according to the worldview. Those are easy to give up. We're usually relieved. When we learn about thought reform and that the sacred cows that trampled over us like a bull in a china shop, we feel validated. We might even feel vindicated when we come to understand that we were forced to accept and even laud these sacred cows because they were part of the sacred science.

But the ones we like? Sometimes we try to keep them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The New Patriarchs Abandon Patriarchy? Scapegoats and Other Drama

Dangerdust @ Twitter and Etsy
In the wake of the Vision Forum scandal, HSLDA and others abandon the appearance of patriarchy in high demand Christian homeschooling while ignoring the problems in the culture.

Not long after Doug Phillips “resigned” from the now defunct Vision Forum, his cohorts were quick to abandon him. Scott Brown who heads up the Family Integrated Church group quickly denounced Phillips. One almost imagines that some of the big names in this group were thrilled to hear of his failure.

On the heels of Phillips' resignation, Bill Gothard resigned because of more than thirty reports of sexual misconduct as reported by the Recovering Grace community. An article popped up about the poor handling of sex abuse at Patrick Henry College. Other articles (here and here) noted the same issues at Pensacola Christian College. All this took place while GRACE investigated Bob Jones University, was fired, and then was reengaged to complete their review of the claims that the university did not properly handle reports of sexual and physical abuse.  Patriarchy's having one rough year!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Visit Spiritual Sounding Board for the Latest Discussion of Bounded Choice and the Second Generation Adult

Drop on by at Spiritual Sounding Board for more discussion on the Second Generation Adult (SGA -- the adult child who grew up under a high demand ideological system) and explore the problems that they face when attempting to exit the mindset.  

The adult who signs up for a system or follows a strict paradigm has the benefit of remembering what life outside the group was like for them and can rely on that to help them exit.  The SGA doesn't have that luxury, but they can certainly make up for lost time!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Self-Oversight as Christian Transparency and Self-Control

Esther Lucile Brown
Would self regulation and accountability in homeschooling truly prove to be a bad thing? Are there any stops between no requirements at all governmental control? Why is self-regulation such an impossible thought?

An Example from the History of Nursing

Though human beings have been caring for the sick as long as there have been people, the modern practice of nursing began during the Crimean War, midway through the 19th Century. The profession functioned very well autonomously after the tradition forged by Florence Nightingale. By the 20th Century however, nurses became low cost laborers who served at the discretion of physicians, and nursing care became something of an amenity that was included with room and board. Hospitals also subsumed the training of nurses, downplayed the need for academic training, and focused on practical/vocational nursing skills. This contrasted with the tradition that Nightingale and other pioneers of her era built.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What “Old Guard” Homeschooling Parents Must Realize: First Generation Homeschoolers Must See, Hear and Speak No Evil (Part VI)

Dangerdust @ Twitter and Etsy
First Generation homeschoolers (the "Old Guard") must hear and cooperate with their Second Generation Adult children (SGA) or they will destroy what they intended and fought to create. Regretfully, they may also destroy relationships with their SGAs in the process of resisting perspective and truth.

Part VI in a Series
  • Part I   (Sarah Hunt on homeschooling problems)
  • Part II  (Scapegoating the SGA in Sex Scandals)
  • Part III (Homeschool Apostates and HARO)
  • Part IV (Accommodating Perspective of the SGA)
  • Part V  (Becoming a Safe Person for the SGA)

The previous post discussed ways in which homeschooling parents can work to build relationships of trust with their adult children, the SGAs who have exited homeschooling and hope to improve outcomes for those who follow after them. While this post ends by pointing to helpful strategies, it also carries messages that the Old Guard has been reluctant to hear.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Become a Safe Person for the Second Generation Adult: First Generation Homeschoolers Must See, Hear and Speak No Evil (Part V)

About Dangerdust  (@ Twitter and Etsy)
Exploring strategies to help homeschooling parents repair their relationships with their “Second Generation Adult” children (SGA) so that they can work together to benefit and improve homeschooling for generations to come.

Part V in a Series
  • Part I   (Sarah Hunt on homeschooling problems)
  • Part II  (Scapegoating the SGA in Sex Scandals)
  • Part III (Homeschool Apostates and HARO)
  • Part IV (Accommodating Perspective of the SGA)
  • Part VI (What Old Guard Parents Must Realize)

What is a “Safe Person”?

A number of years ago, I discovered a great book called Safe People by the authors of the Boundaries series. I read it with the intent of improving my ability to discern whether people were safe or unsafe for me. Along the way, I started to think of a dear friend who was struggling in her relationship with her homeschooled daughter, an unhappy older teen who was angry about what she felt was a lack of education. Certain pages were burned into my mind, and I wept while I pleaded with my friend to consider that she needed to learn to be a safe person with her daughter. I read sections to her over the phone and wept, for I didn't want to see her make the mistakes that I believe that my own parents made with me.  (Read more about Boundaries HERE.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Respecting the Perspective of the SGA: First Generation Homeschoolers Must See, Hear and Speak No Evil (Part IV)

DangerdusTwitter and Etsy)
How can the First Generation homeschooler begin to make room for their Second Generation Adult Children (SGA) and their perspectives about the homeschooling process, despite the discomfort?
Part IV in a Series

  • Part I   (Sarah Hunt on homeschooling problems)
  • Part II  (Scapegoating the SGA in Sex Scandals)
  • Part III (Homeschool Apostates and HARO)
  • Part V  (Becoming a Safe Person for the SGA)
  • Part VI (What Old Guard Parents Must Realize)
I'd labored for a long time to avoid the inevitable, but eventually the little bit of earth covering the surface of crevasse that developed between my parents and me. I did all I could to avoid it and pretend that it didn't really exist while I clung to the fantasy that age would temper all of us as love filled in the gaps.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rejecting “Homeschool Apostates” and Alumni Reaching Out: First Generation Homeschoolers Must See, Hear and Speak No Evil (Part III)

About Dangerdust:  (Visit them @ Twitter and Etsy)

Understanding the threat of painful truth: First generation homeschoolers followed an ideological system to protect their children that tragically resulted in their harm.

As a consequence, many
resist confronting the problems and will reject the Second Generation Adult (SGA) to avoid the terrible pain and grief.

The parents try to survive the pain of consequences of heavy price that they paid personally to achieve the promise of safety and benefit for their families.  

Even more painful for them to consider is the great cost that they inadvertently passed on to their children who are now adults.

Part III in a Series
  • Part I   (Sarah Hunt on homeschooling problems)
  • Part II  (Scapegoating the SGA in Sex Scandals)
  • Part IV (Accommodating Perspective of the SGA)
  • Part V  (Becoming a Safe Person for the SGA)
  • Part VI (What Old Guard Parents Must Realize)

Reflecting the Image of the Second Generation Adult: Becca's Tea Blog

I'm deeply honored and am excited that Becca's Tea Blog decided to repost the recent item that I wrote for Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB) concerning Lourdes Torres-Manteufel. It explains the Second Generation Adult (SGA) phenomenon within high demand groups and families, especially the constraints that SGAs face when exiting high pressure situations. There has been little written about it among former followers of the Quiverfull/Patriarchy Movement, though the community knows much of the constraints and limitations. They also face the friction that they encounter when relating to those who were or still are part of the first generation followers.