Assemblies of God Church, Childhood, Family, Fear, Government, isolation, Poverty, United Pentecostal Church

Isolation, Bootstraps, and Fear of the Government

My mother was a very strong woman. She often worked two jobs and still made the time to do things like refinishing the living room floor. We were very poor for most of my childhood but my mother would not consider asking the government for assistance. In the 70’s it was much easier for men to get out of paying child support and my father very rarely paid anything. Because of her stubborn resistance regarding asking for help, we often were on the edge of losing our housing and we often did not have enough to eat. I would walk home from school at lunch and scoop peanut butter out of the jar because that is all we had. I also have memories of my mother fishing for dinner. If she did not catch anything we did not have dinner. At times she would keep a cooler with milk, bologna, and maybe some kind of fruit. When you don’t have electricity it can be impossible to cook or keep food cold. It wasn’t always that bad but it happened pretty regularly.

Where did her resistance regarding asking for help come from? It can be traced back to her parents and religion. My grandparents were rugged people who believed you should help yourself through hard work and determination. They tended to only associate with others from their church because of fear of the world and the devil’s influence on it. They passed that fear down to my mother. They felt that you never ask the government for assistance and you don’t let them into your life if you can help it. This means don’t call the police unless you are dying and never answer the door for social services. You should never apply for things like food stamps because you would have to fill out government forms, thus giving them info about yourself and because you should be able to help yourself through hard work.

All of this kind of thinking tends to lead to isolation. You cannot ask for help without shame, you can only associate with others from your church, and your church is pretty anti-government. On the surface, it might seem like the UPC is patriotic and pro-government, but that isn’t really the truth. My grandparent’s Assemblies of God church was pretty much the same. Once you are isolated from the community around you all you can do is hope your church will help, in our case that help never came.

I have many memories of sitting on the floor at my grandparent’s house listening to the adults talking. They often talked about the end times and the One World Government. They speculated about who the anti-Christ was and how he would take over the U.S. They talked about the government being able to watch us through our televisions and about how someday they would be able to see through the walls of our homes. They felt we were already being watched. I know this may sound crazy to someone who has not grown up around this stuff but I assure you they believed it all. My mother and her family saw the government as evil and this meant you did not go to them unless you had no other option.

This distaste for the government may have led to my molestation not being reported. Sure the church did not want the bad press of having a molestation case coming out of their church, but there is also a distrust of the government happening there. In the end, the pastor is your government. He makes the rules, punishes the sinners, and decided who rises and who falls. You cannot question him because that is taboo.

1 Chronicles 16:22¬†“Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

Anyone could be the anti-Christ. It could even be the U.S. president. He might even be serving right now. With that always being the case then how could you trust the government? It will be the government that eventually gives out the mark of the beast so…you can see where all of the fear comes from. The end result makes pastors into kings of their own little kingdoms. They are not to be questioned and if you do you will soon find yourself out in that cruel world they have warned you about. You will be shunned and subject to a different type of isolation.

All of these beliefs kept my family in poverty and kept my mother suffering for much of her life. It makes me sad that she worked herself to death trying to live and pay medical bills. It makes me angry that her mental illness went untreated for so long because she thought it was sin and not illness causing her depression. If she had not been afraid maybe she could have received help from the county with childcare, food stamps, and medical assistance. How could my life have been different if I had better medical care, enough food so that I could concentrate on school, and childcare so I wouldn’t have to be a latchkey kid? If some of these things had been in place maybe I would have not been such a good target for Steve Dahl. Being with him was an escape from a pretty hard life, at least I knew he would feed me.

D

Advertisements
A.C.E., Childhood, Education, United Pentecostal Church

A.C.E. Education

The church of my childhood had an A.C.E. school. Accelerated Christian Education. They were big about being in the world but not of the world and so they tended towards isolationism. We never interacted or socialized with people who were not in the UPC church. So it made sense to them that they should have their own school to further ensure isolation. I entered that school with so much hope and soon found out it was nothing like I was expecting. While in public school I excelled at pretty much everything. I was a very bright student and always received good grades. I never had any behavior issues and I enjoyed learning. I left that school with a crushed spirit and believing that I was not very bright.

Below is a link to an article explaining how A.C.E. works along with some photos.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism/2014/12/01/how-bad-can-christian-education-get-this-bad/

These schools have a pretty bad track record for traumatizing kids. There are support groups and FB pages where you can go to get support if you attended one of these awful schools.

What I remember most about being at Calvary Gospel Christian Academy is the loneliness. We were required to spend most of our day sitting in a tiny office with slates on either side. You had very little human contact, it was a bit like solitary confinement. My mind would drift to just about anything to take me away from my lonely situation. I am a kinesthetic learner. So reading all day to learn and never having any experiences or debates/discussions did not work for me. I did pretty well from an educational standpoint until I hit algebra. Algebra was misery for me. We had no teachers, and you were expected to figure it out from reading the booklet (PACE) you were given and then work through the problems. The problem I had with that was that none of it made sense to me. I would call a monitor (an adult who was supposed to help you) over to my office for help and usually, it would all end with me in tears and erasing holes into my Paces.

A big problem with these schools is that none of the people working there are required to have a teaching degree. They might have taken algebra in high school but that doesn’t mean they have any idea how to teach it. The adults would get frustrated because they did not know how to teach and that would roll down on the students. Not understanding algebra meant taking the class over and over. It was a nightmare. We had to get an 80% to pass. I would often clock in at 76% and be told to start over. They would send me home with whatever I could not finish in school, this did not help, no one in my home knew how to work these problems. I would return the next day with unfinished work and then be given demerits. These demerits meant you did something wrong. I would have to stay at my office while everyone else went out for recess. I would be punished for weeks at a time for not understanding what they could not teach. These adults knew I was trying but only one of them ever took compassion on me. The elementary school kid’s supervisor came to my office one time and told me to just go out with the other kids, she also helped me some with the algebra. She wasn’t a great teacher but she showed me some empathy and for that I am grateful. Those long stretches without even recess to look forward are really depressing to think about even now. Because I could not get algebra higher science was almost impossible. So then I was struggling with two subjects. On a side note, I went to public high school for my last year of school and I passed algebra with a B+. My algebra teacher told me I just needed to be shown other ways to look at it. He was a good teacher and helped to restore some of my confidence.

I was never spanked in school but other kids were. Spankings seemed to be more of an issue if you were a poor kid or child of color. I knew the score and I find it hard to believe no one else could sense it. Every part of the day was highly regimented. There was no time for asking questions or free thinking. The Bible was the main literature book. We never read any classics or really anything except for the dreaded Pilgrim’s Progress. I went to the library in my free time and read all sorts of contraband. Going to the library was frowned upon, why do you need anything other than the Bible? In order to make the honor roll we had to memorize long passages of scripture, and them repeat them to our supervisor. Some of these were passages were out of Song of Solomon and other weird sexual verses. It was embarrassing reading them out loud together and then having to repeat them to a grown adult man. I often wonder if he picked some of those passages just to make the girls squirm. The UPC is full of perverts so it would not surprise me.

I was in my late 20’s before I realized that I had received a lousy education. The history I learned was tainted with a fundamentalist view so I had to search out the truth. Even my grammar education was lacking. I struggle to this day because my grammar skills just are not as strong as other people’s. Science was from a Biblical point of view not based on fact. I had read none of the classics and had received no geography education. All that being true I have managed to educate myself as an adult. I am a curious person so when I don’t know the answer to something I search for it. I have a love for science which is a miracle considering where I came from.

As a side note, all the adults in my school knew about what Steve Dahl did to me and it was completely ignored.

My Christian school education is a deep well of pain and I’m sure it will come up again. This is just the surface. Do any of you have negative A.C.E experiences?

D