Empty the Pews: Elle's Story
What type of church did you attend at the time of your leaving?
Brookside Ministries Church - non-denominational/evangelical
Did you find a new church to attend?
No, I left organized religion entirely.
I grew up in an authoritarian, anti-intellectual church and I always had a lot of differences of opinion that caused trouble at a young age both with my church and family. My dad is a leader there and mirrored the same type of authoritarianism. I was often told things like if I was instructed to stand on my head all day and refused that i would be disobeying god.
I stopped going when I went to college. But then my junior year, I was raped in my sleep. My life turned into a nightmare that lead to a PTSD diagnosis a few years later. My religious family and church members blamed me for being raped, saying that I clearly wasn’t listening to god because if I had been, he would’ve warned me, and other statements like that. It was devastating.
My rapist dropped out shortly after it happened. I stayed at my college for grad school, and toward the end of that he resumed classes again. I filed a Title IX complaint. Religious family and church members discouraged me from filing a claim, using the scripture against suing as well as manipulating forgiveness doctrines, saying that I needed to forgive him or I would struggle with it forever and god would never bless me. I went through with the hearing anyway and won.
Winning changed everything for me, and gave me so much peace. Less than a year later, Trump was elected. The combination caused me to reach a breaking point with my family and church. It was difficult at first, but now I’m the happiest and most at peace that I’ve ever been.