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Feb 1, 2010

For The Sake of Being Right

Hi all,

As I read and research, research into fellow fundamentalist leavers a few trends are appearing, and I really want to explore them. My perspectives may prove to be somewhat controversially put, but I am just saying it how I see it.

1. They either leave the faith completely, or return to a more mainstream standing. 

Those that choose to continue on with some form of Christian belief system include Hillary from Quivering Daughters and Cindy from Under Much Grace

And yet, on the other side of the fence as it were, are those of us that chose to leave it all behind and completely reject the Christian faith. Vyckie from No Longer Quivering, Laura from Redheaded Skeptic, and myself are part of this group.

With both Hillary and Cindy there is a subtle and ever-present predisposition to encourage the QF/Fundamentalist leavers to remain in the more liberal faith circle.

In Cindy's case, it can very blunt. In one of her recent posts, she wrote:

As a Christian, I hope that the person exiting the group would choose Christianity, but I must be careful to allow that choice to be their own, something that is between them and God . If I coerce a vulnerable person or use undue influence to achieve my own ends before they are ready to make their own choices, I am behaving no differently than their abuser, in some sense. So my desire to see people seek Christ and an Evangelical perspective that is similar to my own, I must consider that this is a secondary motive. I am not out to sell hell insurance, I want to see people healed and whole. I am responsible to provide reasons for why I believe what I believe with meekness and patience.It is the responsibility of the person to choose what to believe, and that choice rests between them and God.

I am the first to put my hand up and say I don't read those blogs (Cindy's in particular) as deeply and as often as I otherwise would because of lines like those; to me it is a slightly "righteous" perspective (i.e, the secondary motive stuff: I am still ultimately on the right path, you are not). And I would think they would have similar problems, reading my mostly anti-christian blog.

Ultimately, however, I still do check them out, and even communicate with the authors (in Hillary's case). I also rarely comment when I feel I have something to add to the conversation. And, I do consider (particularly in the case of Hillary's site) them a valuable resource, albeit one with a very opposing view to my own.

2. All believe that there needs to be a better support network for leavers. 

Every single one of  the blogs I have come across believe there is a need out there for bigger and better help for those leaving fundamentalism/quiverfull. All of them agree that something needs to be done.

But the question is what and how.

Some are writing books, some are doing media interviews,  and yet another is starting the Take Heart Project (a charity). All write blogs.

Some want God to be at the centre of the healing process, others believe the God issue should wait for till after the dust settles and the person on his/her own decides what to do about it/him (or not do). Some believe God to still be the ultimate solution, but others do not.

Some think we are not doing enough, or that we are "doing it wrong". Some think we are doing too much, and will push away those we seek to help.

3. These differences are becoming more noticeable...

When I first joined the former fundamentalist/QF communities, and followed their blogs, I was struck by the unity, by the chorus of voices that cried out "this is wrong, abusive, and controlling. We need help!", regardless of belief system, or point of view.

I hate to say it, and be the first to point it out, but as each person sticks to their point of view and belief system etc, the us vs. them perspective which are so prevalent in their fundie/QF pasts, comes to the forefront.

Right now it isn't a big issue. Veiled, mild mannered, opposing comments on a blog, do not make for an uprising or a blogging war.

In the future however, it could be a different story. Small cracks can become huge canyons under the right circumstances.

I guess what I am trying to say is that perhaps everyone needs to refocus on the one thing they all agree on: these (mostly) women and children need help. That people if they disagree (and they will, it is inevitable), should speak up on the forums that they disagree with, not just mumble warnings under their breath on their own blog. We should be sharing and caring about the experiences that bind, not the belief systems that ultimately separate.

We left behind the petty judgements when we left fundamentalism/quiverfull. But yet we (and yes, I include myself) continue the old cycles, just in a slightly less offensive manner. We forget the old lessons, hard earned, and well won. Old habits are more entrenched than we are often willing to admit.

Consider this: do we want the women and children yet to come to find a society similar to what they left?

And at what cost are we willing to help? Are we willing to continue to look past religious (or lack of) prejudices?

Right now, we stand on a precipice, a choice. Let us not make the wrong one, for the sake of being right. 



shadowspring said...

An "us vs. them" mentality is a huge part of the fundamentalist mindset. I suspect that everyone who leaves that group is inclined to still think that way, even after changing groups.

The brain does not embrace change easily. Getting rid of that tendency to demonize "outsiders" is an indispensable part of the healing process. You are wise to recognize this way of processing dissent as one that needs to be sloughed off.

May all find complete healing in the way/time that is most soothing to them.

Mum said...

I liked what you wrote Jo ;-)

Human nature is one that easy falls into the trap of intentionally or unintentionally tearing another down so that what we believe (or not believe) is right and made known to the other party.

How do we define who is right, who is wrong?

When will we learn how to truly love each other?

Vyckie Garrison said...

Jo ~ thank you for this very thoughtful commentary. I understand (I think) your point that we need to focus on working together to provide resources and support for women whose lives have been devastated due to following the QF/P teachings.

From my perspective, I believe that for the most part, those of us who want to help are doing an admirable job of cooperating ~ while at the same time, maintaining our respective beliefs (or lack of belief) and respecting the beliefs (unbelief) of those we are working with.

For instance, Cindy has provided mega-helpful resources for the Take Heart Project as well as supporting the project financially. You (an atheist) and Hillary (a believer) worked together beautifully to come up with a totally rockin' "checklist" for THP ~ that was pure awesomeness. KR Wordgazer has created some outstanding FAQs ~ all bible-based, and I'm featuring them prominently on NLQ ~ not because I believe the bible, but because I recognize the value of that resource for those QFers who do not want to leave behind their God when they leave the abusive patriarchal teachings.

So ~ coolness.

I, for one, am encouraged. Sure, there are disclaimers, qualifications, and a bit of equivocating ~ but overall, I think there's been a spirit of cooperation and respect within the growing community of former QFers which I'm pleased to be a part of.

That there ARE a variety of believers and ex-believers making themselves a part of this project means one very positive thing: QFers with doubts ~ who are looking support and practical help to leave the mental trap of QF/P ~ have options. And choice is always good. These women have the freedom to leave QF following whatever path suits them ~ they have to go my way ~ they don't have to go Cindy's way ~ they get to choose/make their own way. That multiplicity of paths is the antithesis of Quiverfull.

Today, I am working on pairing a volunteer counselor with a former QFer who discovered NLQ and is looking for support. This woman has left neither God nor her husband (though she may eventually end her marriage) ~ and I am glad to help her and have the resources available to assist her in whatever way she feels is best for herself and her family.

Which ~ makes me feel like the Take Heart Project is really official now, eh? LOL

Thanks again ~ I'm loving all the good things going on and I appreciate you being a part of it. :)

vyckie Garrison said...


I wrote:

These women have the freedom to leave QF following whatever path suits them ~ they have to go my way ~ they don't have to go Cindy's way ~ they get to choose/make their own way.

But I *meant* they DON'T have to go my way. LOL

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your thoughts here.

I think a major factor we must always keep to the forefront is this: there is no one way to leave QF/patriarchy.

There will be as many different "ways" to leave that camp as there are people leaving it....which means that a diverse group full of diverse experiences, but all gathered around one banner (No Longer part of the camp), is something I see as a very valuable strength as opposed to a weakness.

That's not to say that it doesn't get annoying for some, sometimes, having to rub elbows with so many different kinds of NLQ'ers... but that just means we have to learn even deeper the lesson that we never learned inside the folds of patriarchy/QF world: treat all with respect, even when they don't hold to your party line. :)


Hillary said...

Thank you for your kind words, Jo, and your compassion for those wounded from fundamentalism. I'm sorry I haven't been around more, both here and on NLQ ~ this book is like my own child, taking up literally ALL my time, LOL!

I agree, Vyckie ~ those I've seen involved are finding the balance of maintaining personal beliefs with respect for others.

It's always good to have a reminder, Jo, and a gentle one such as yours I take to heart.

Hillary said...

Also, you wrote: "And I would think they would have similar problems, reading my mostly anti-christian blog."

Speaking for myself, I don't mind reading viewpoints other than my own. Religion and its effects intrigue me. I am always fascinated how a very similar lifestyle or experience can have vastly different effects on different people.

However, I do want to apologize if I've come across superior in my beliefs. That's the last thing I want! When I started writing my book(over a year ago ~ I don't even think any of this was available; the only one I remember seeing was Womensspace with Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff) and then blogging, I wanted to share my own journey and essentially write the book I wished I'd had when I began questioning my upbringing, seeking to understand the shame, guilt and pain that never seemed to go away.

I realize my book and perspectives aren't for everyone; a small minority, actually. I think Vyckie's will have a more mass appeal. But I hope that for those who have found peace with the Christian faith, separating what was done in God's name from God Himself, my lil words might make a difference.

At any rate, I'm glad you have this platform and continue to challenge, reflect on these matters, and spread awareness.


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