Monday, November 22, 2010

The Abuse of a Patriarchal Cult

The are soooo many little nasties of emotionally abusive practices upon which the P/QF dominionists rely. It's usually these elements of their movement that they dodge and weave to avoid questions concerning. When asked about how she would handle an adult daughter who refused the courtship process, Kelly Crawford told me recently, "Answering that would require an unraveling of everything I believe about authority." I wish to God it were within my personal power TO unravel everything she believes about authority.

Many of you who read here have minimal relationships with your parents because of your choice in a spouse. Some of you have been cut-off entirely from your parents, and beloved siblings, for your choice in a spouse. Some have experienced the same things for simply leaving home, against your parents "wishes", as an adult. Most of you made these choices while still completely dedicated to the Lord, which much prayer and consideration. Some of you were in more precarious situations than others, but I don't know of any who've communicated with me who made the choice to leave casually. You knew it came with significant (and usually unnecessary) consequences.

From Margaret T. Singer's "6 Conditions for Thought Reform"...

Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group’s ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors.

Most P/QF parents like to use the term "request", as in "We're making this request of you." My former future in-laws had mastered this art. Unfortunately, this is the set-up for emotional abuse. A genuine "request" never comes with a corresponding punishment, whether emotional or physical. Theirs, as those of most P/QF parents, always did. Her punishment for failing to heed their "requests"? The silent treatment - one of the most severe and damaging forms of emotional abuse. Several of you who read here are right now getting heaping helpings of the silent treatment from parents who've estranged you. Shame on them. Not on you. From the linked article...

Kip Williams, Ph.D. validates what victims of silence episodes feel, that there are detrimental effects to physical health as well as the mental health. Those who have been ill-treated on a repeated basis report a sense of not belonging, loss of control, low self esteem and unworthiness. They also have increased stress levels, headaches and depression.

Many of you can relate. My ex's health deteriorated when essentially cut-off from her parents and a continent away from me. They had minimal communication with her (because of her plan to marry me with or without their approval) and most of what little communication took place were accusations of rebellion and threats of permanent estrangement, along with repeated vows to do all possible to destroy our relationship. From Sally Singer Horwatt, Ph.D...

Ostracism - a.k.a. the silent treatment - is the actions of individuals or groups that ignore, exclude or reject others. Ostracism is intended to deprive the target of the sense of belonging.  It has been called "social death."

It's a brutal thing to do to anyone. Much less to your own son or daughter, particularly when you've raised them to be in no emotional shape to deal with such, and equipped them with no skills to deal with life outside of the collective.

There's no recourse for the adult child in this milieu. Again, from Margaret Singer...

Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order. The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leaders must have verbal ways of never losing. Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain -- if they do, the leaders allege that the member is defective -- not the organization or the beliefs. The individual is always wrong -- the system, its leaders and its belief are always right.

Regardless of what the adult child has or hasn't done, it's THEM, not the parents or movement, in the wrong by manipulative and cultic reasoning. This, in and of itself, makes this an abusive system of belief. Typical adults who get caught up in cultic movements have a choice about who and what systems of belief they get involved in and with. 2nd generation (and beyond) P/QF homeschoolers aren't extended any choice. They're born into it, force-fed it, and ostracized if they grow up and choose something different.

More from Horwatt...

In my experience working with couples and families, ostracism is the single, most destructive tactic employed...worse even then affairs.  It, effectively, terminates the relationship, giving the other no sense of parity or control.  In any human relationship where partners are honest there is always conflict. A committed relationship is one in which the partners agree to continue to work it out until, at the very least, they agree to disagree.  Ostracism makes this impossible.  It makes honesty impossible.  It makes self-esteem impossible. Sometimes, the ostracizer finds he cannot stop.

Horwatt also describes the silent treatment as a manipulative tactic. What a cruel and selfish thing to do to anyone. It's a bonafide relationship killer, yet it's the FIRST option in many, if not most, P/QF families. And, it's entirely about one person controlling another. Lording. Domination. Nah, nothing cultic there.

The most disturbing thing about the silent treatment/ostracization/estrangement, is these parents think this is their God-ordained duty - not their own overwhelming insecurity. In my last post I mentioned Professor Eileen Barker's cult checklist. Let's break it down just a little bit...

  1. A movement that separates itself from society, either geographically or socially; (home schooling, with a whopper of a cultural bias - meant to indoctrinate rather than educate...and family integrated churching)
  2. Adherents who become increasingly dependent on the movement for their view on reality; (can anyone say "biblical worldview"?...and extra credit if you can tell me what it means) 
  3. Important decisions in the lives of the adherents are made by others; (How about courtship for starters - and don't forget the 200 year plans and multi-generational faithfulness, i.e. decisions being made and mapped out now for generations who are decades from birth)
  4. Making sharp distinctions between us and them, divine and Satanic, good and evil, etc. that are not open for discussion; (Dear Lord help me...I wouldn't even know where to begin with this one)
  5. Leaders who claim divine authority for their deeds and for their orders to their followers; (Ditto my last comment...This one would almost generate an "LOL")
  6. Leaders and movements who are unequivocally focused on achieving a certain goal. (Dominion, anyone?)

It really is scary how perfectly it lines up.

Sadly, these parents don't realize exactly who they're subjecting to these emotional abuses...

For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

Ostracize that.

It's frightening when the health and well-being of a movement is more important than the people, particularly those with no choice in the matter, who populate it.

Much more to come...


  1. "Kip Williams, Ph.D. validates what victims of silence episodes feel, that there are detrimental effects to physical health as well as the mental health. Those who have been ill-treated on a repeated basis report a sense of not belonging, loss of control, low self esteem and unworthiness. They also have increased stress levels, headaches and depression."

    This is very interesting because one of the things that spiritual abusers claim when you leave their group is that illness will come to you. We once had a pastor tell us that if we left his church, "death disease and divorce" would come to our family.

  2. Lewis, the phrase "Biblical worldview" is used more often among broadly evangelical Christians than it is within the patriocentric groups. I think in more recent years they have hijacked the term to make themselves look more normal but they used to always camp out on phrases that used the word "vision."

    I think we need to be careful to not assume that the use of the phrase "biblical worldview" means what the patriocentrists mean. I use this phrase often and to describe the importance of Christians fulfilling the great commands to love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself in whatever way you have been called to do the arts, in law, in medicine, etc. That is how I believe it is used by nearly everyone who coins the phrase. There are lots of these words and phrases that the patriocentrists are now using in order to look more mainstream and they are pretty wily and have no qualms about lifting writings from someone else, putting their own spin on it,and reproducing it for sycophant consumption.

  3. Thatmom, I agree. The cultists always co-opt terms for their own use and drag legitimate uses down with them. For example, I have homeschooled because it is the government schools that indoctrinate. I tried a few "Christian" curricula but eventually went with some cheap but well-done books at Sam's Club, of all places, plus a few used public school textbooks. Whenever we come across something I strongly disagree with, I don't just say "this is wrong" but get my kids to ask questions and reason things out. Every school system has bias; the question is whose bias it will be. Parents have the right to "steer" their children, but wise parents do so by presenting all sides and then giving their own reason for the choice they made.

    I'm also a compulsive "reducer": I look for the simplest solution to problems. That's why I wrote Three Laws Saved" not long ago, as an attempt to boil down the Christian faith and life to a minimum.

  4. A little off-topic but I want to post this before the editors at "Steadfast Daughters" change it.

    ChristendomBuilder is Robin Phillips.

    Here's the web addy for "ChristendomBuilder"s about page:'

    Someone made a big blunder.

  5. Thanks, Anonymous...That confirms what a lot of us suspected.

  6. And the blunder has now been corrected.'s gone.


  7. I get such a kick out of how they talk about wanting people in the QD book to NOT write anonymously yet these "contributors" on SD are all under fake names.

    Pot, meet kettle.

    And gosh, it's a good idea Lewis writes this blog. SD wouldn't know what blunders to fix and what to edit and what to change if it weren't for all of us! ;)

  8. Thatmom and Paula totally prove the point about using a catch phrase like "Biblical worldview". It means something different to everyone. I used to think it a shibboleth that identifies one as a politically conservative fundamentalist Christian of some sort, but now apparently any religion (Glenn Beck?) that includes the Bible can claim the term.

    I know people on both sides of just about every hot potato issue that have come to their position because of their study of God's Word and their faith in Christ. Which one is "biblical"? (The one I hold, of course! snark snark)

    And oh, how familiar the ostracization of the one who asks uncomfortable questions or dares disagree with the authority. Yeah, I feel ya on that one QDs.

    Great post, once again, Lewis. You lay it out plain for all to read. I pray many people's eyes will be opened to the damage their brand of religion is doing to people they love. I think most of these parents are blinded to the reality of the damage because their intentions were good, and the patriarchal Christian home school industry in continually urging them to just work the paradigm a little bit longer, a little bit longer, just keep doing what you're doing a little bit longer...

    Here's to waking up to the truth. I pray that many families will be restored because you are bold enough to write truth, even in the face of animosity. Keep it up, brother.

  9. Erika,

    Are all of the SD contributors under false names? All of them? Maybe just two out of five?

  10. Sorry, Erika...I was wrong. Make that two out of six are anonymous. All of them?

  11. I think it was just an expression, anonymous.

    That's 1/3 of the crop - still a significant amount considering the attitude that's been conveyed at SD that seems to frown on the anonymous contributors to Quivering Daughters. And so far, that 1/3 has contributed close to half of the materials at SD, so it's a vocal minority.

  12. Thanks, Lewis, for conveying what I meant. When it's the vocal majority going anonymous, it certainly feels like "all" of them. Regardless of how many, the attitude against anon writers is hypocritical.

    It makes it even more interesting that I'm responding to an anonymous commenter.

  13. Wonder why Robin Phillips doesn't have the guts to write under his own name? And I wish they would allow comments. Seriously, his latest post made my blood boil. To bad he wasn't there as a fly on a the wall when my father was beating his daughters into submission. To bad he wasn't there to see the pain, fear, and despair caused by the emotional abuse my father heaped on his daughters. On the outside we looked like a big happy family with cheerfully obediant children. But as adults we still all have nightmares about my father attempting to kill his daughters. (No he wouldn't have done it literally, but he certainly tried to kill us emotionally, and we all have nightmares about him attempting to kill us literally.)
    Lewis, don't stop writing about the terrible effects of patriarchy. I for one am happy for the girl who's boyfriend is showing her the guivering daughter information. Wish it had been around when I was 21! (And my parent most definately labled the young man who wanted to marry me back then as "bad news". As they do my husband as well as the two men my sisters married. Anyone who doesn't fit into their narrow mold is bad news...)

  14. Kateri my question was what does "bad news" mean? For true Christians bad news would be someone outside of the faith or someone who was on drugs, a womanizer, an abuser, etc. I could even see a parent calling a spouse bad news if he had no job and no plans to obtain a living but I suspect the definition of "bad news" for the patrios is something different. I suspect this person is "bad news" because they aren't quiverfull, don't believe in courtship, don't attend a FIC church, and they have no desire to homeschool.

    I have heard of one family stating that their daughter and her husband have "fallen away" because they chose to leave their FIC and attend a "big" church with GASP Sunday School classes, a youth group, and Contemporary Christian music.

    No one is fooled by the adjectives "bad news" being applied to a young man when coming out of the mouth of a patrio. We are all aware of what their definition of "bad news" is. I agree with you Kateri I am glad her boyfriend is showing her the quivering daughters site and I hope many more will show this site to all caught up in this cult-like teaching.

    We all need to start blogs, get the word out as much as we can. So many of our Christian brothers and sisters need to liberated.

  15. "Bad news" is a thought-stopping buzzword for those still entangled in the patriocentric belief system.


  16. Yup. A guy could be a patrio home school only dominionist FICer and STILL be bad news if Daddy doesn't like him for ANY reason!

    The real reason could be that Daddy just doesn't want his little girl to ever leave him, or that the son-in-law shows no signs of being subservient to Daddy or even that Mom needs help with a new baby on the way, so no suitor will be accepted for the oldest daughter/scullery maiden period.

    Bad news. Another buzz word. Yup.

  17. What Kelly Crawford said...yeah. It really is true---it will unravel everything. It puts you in a box where you can really only see events and situations in a certain way...because to look at them in a different way will cause your whole structure to come crashing down. For me, as a die-hard in the movement, it was the questioning of the Pearls that was my undoing...and that happened only after I spent some years defending them heartily, known for my online stance, in fact.

    But because the question I asked was about authority, it reverberated into other areas as well...and suddenly my amazing godly husband started looking, well, abusive. Yup, like Kelly said, the whole thing began to unravel, and when that happened, the perfect little minister's family wasn't so perfect anymore.

    It's amazing that it took me so long to see it, because the abuse was SO overt, and yet...under the guise of the "godly authority/wives-obey" mantra, I was blind as a bat. :( Kelly recently had a post up about how she was praying to become a wife who could be LED (as opposed to a wife who could lead herself). Sigh. It's all so stupefying now, and yet when I was in it, it all made perfect perfect sense. And made perfect sense to my abusive husband, who happily utilized my love for God to get total control over me. Oh, but that was righteous. After all, he was made to be oriented outwardly, towards God and community, but I was "made for him," or so the typical patriarchal teaching goes...

    Journey from NLQ

  18. My sister's family is deep into one of these cults and I feel so helpless. I can't reason with my sister anymore. She completely shuts me out and focuses our conversation on farm animals or gardening. She never asks about what is going on with anyone in our family. It's like she can't rationalize the rest of the world into her narrow existence. She and her husband recently "married" their eldest daughter off to a high ranking family in their church. The parents arranged it. The groom is ten years older than my niece and the wedding felt more like a business transaction with a bride's price paid than a Christian wedding. They have several more daughters at home with one coming of age this year. I know that all the children are victims in this family, but I have witnessed the abuse first hand and know the girls/women suffer more severely. I have watched my sister transform from a strong independent Christian woman into someone who acts like she has battered wife syndrome. It breaks my heart that there is nothing I can do to help.

  19. Don't assume that just because someone is cut off from the cult group that that automatically means the cut-off person feels low self esteem. On the contrary, seems to me that a lot of people who finally figure it out could have very high self esteem to assert their independence of thought and behavior.