Cult Documentaries and the Women Who Love Them

Hi, it's me, I'm the problem. The streaming service algorithms know me all too well, because they're always offering up documentaries about various cults. I can't seem to stop watching them. Here are a few I've seen in recent months.  First is Daughters of the Cult on Hulu. It is about the children of Ervil LeBaron, a leader of a polygamist Mormon sect based in Mexico and the southwestern US. There are several such branches of the fundamentalist Mormons (or FLDS) but this one was notable for all the bloodshed. Between Ervil and his followers, there are about 35 murders attributed to this group as he fought to obtain and maintain power. He even murdered some close family members, including a daughter and a brother. I really liked that this series focused on his children and how growing up in this group affected them. It was very moving to see how they have forged much better lives for themselves after escaping the group. Next is Preaching Evil on Peacock. This one

The Church of Christ and Its Top 5 Sermons

 I had a long chat with a friend who is a Catholic priest the other day, and he said one of the hardest parts of his job is coming up with a homily every week. He said that there are basically only 3 homily templates: God loves you, you should love God, and we should love each other. I laughed and told him that many years ago, my sister and I came up with a list of the top 5 sermon topics for COC preachers. 1. Everything Fun Is Sinful      It's pretty self-explanatory: no drinking, dancing, smoking, gambling, wearing of shorts or swimsuits, cursing, or sex allowed. They would also prefer it if you didn't play card games, watch movies or TV, or listen to secular music. If it's enjoyable, it's wrong. Life is supposed to be a vale of tears and suffering until we get to go home to be with Jesus. 2. Here's Why We Are Right and Every Other Church Is Wrong and They Are All Going to Hell     I truly wish I had a dollar for every sermon I endured on why the Baptists are wron

The Church of Christ and Rush Limbaugh

 I've been debating all day about whether to put that hateful man's name on my blog, but since I really first heard of him through the Church of Christ, it seems appropriate to discuss him here. I've never been a fan of talk radio. The idea of starting my day by listening to two drive-time knuckleheads or some shouting shock-jock yammer on and on about something stupid is my idea of hell. Thus, I never listened to his show and wasn't even aware of him until he had been on the air for quite some time already.  But I knew a LOT of CoC people who were his fans, and boy did they not shut up about it. At one point in the mid-1990s, it seemed like everyone at the church of my childhood was avidly listening to his radio show. I knew a few people in the CoC who were just as turned off by him as I was, but naturally it was his followers who were the loudest and most obnoxious about inflicting their beliefs on everyone else. So it seemed like after every church service the topic

Another Year of NOT Being in the Church of Christ

I was scrolling through old posts and realized that I've been doing this blog off and on for over 14 years. It does not seem that long, but so much of my life has changed since I first started. Back in 2006, my nephew and niece hadn't been born, my dad was still alive, and I hadn't been laid off twice in one year. I've also joined an Episcopal church and started singing in the choir since then, something that I never dreamed was even possible when I was growing up in the church of Christ.  It has been over 20 years since I finally hit my breaking point and realized I needed to leave that church. The process was full of twists and turns and missteps, but I have absolutely no regrets except that I wish I had left sooner, but I probably wasn't ready before then. The important thing is that I finally got out. If I had stayed, I would have been miserable. There simply is no place in that church for a smart opinionated woman who asks difficult questions. I sometimes wonde

Can the Church of Christ Survive a Pandemic?

In the year since I last posted, my life has entirely changed. I started a new job, my father and step-mother died, I moved, and just as I was getting settled in the new place and thinking about having a housewarming party, the COVID-19 pandemic started. As much as I miss my dad, I keep thinking that I'm glad he's not around for this mess. Not only did he and his wife have several underlying conditions that would have made them prime targets of the virus, they both were hardcore Church of Christ members who believed that they had to attend each and every church service no matter what. I would have been living in terror every week, worried that they were going to that church and bringing home a deadly infection. Honestly, I think you would have had to post a member of the National Guard in front of my dad's door to keep him from going to church. They were my last link to the congregation they attended, so I have no idea whether that church is continuing to meet in defian

The Church of Christ and Amway

I have lost count of all the times someone in the COC tried to get me involved in Amway or some other multilevel marketing (MLM) scheme. If it wasn't Amway, it was baskets or scrapbooking supplies or "gourmet" convenience foods or knock-off Tupperware or makeup or jewelry or home decor or some other junk no one needed. At one congregation I attended, there were people who NEVER invited anyone from church to their house unless they were trying to sell them something. It was mostly the women, although a few men were involved, too. I just cringed every time some guy tried to get me to come to a "business meeting" on a Friday night, because I knew I was in for the hard sell on how I could achieve financial independence through Amway. Heck, you practically had to sell Amway in order to be considered a member in good standing. On the basis of my reading, I realize now that this phenomenon is not unique to the COC. It's quite prevalent in many fundamentalist and

The Church of Christ and Education

Not long ago I read Tara Westover's memoir "Educated," in which she recounts her childhood in a Mormon separatist group that did not believe in formal education. She didn't go to a school until she was 17, when she went to college. Her family disowned her for doing so because they believed that getting a secular education was a sin (her story is more complex that that, but this is the nutshell version). Even though my upbringing was not nearly as extreme as hers and I was sent to secular schools from preschool onward, I also encountered similar antieducation sentiments growing up in the church of Christ. The mainline churches of Christ are actually affiliated with some prestigious schools , including Abilene Christian University and Pepperdine University, and kids who grow up in that branch of the church are encouraged to attend those schools. Unfortunately, I grew up the noninstitutional branch of the church, which is much more conservative and, to my knowledge, i