"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

18 January 2016

I Fired God

Zichterman, Jocelyn. I Fired God: My Life Inside - and Escape From - the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult. St. Martin's Press, 2013

This memoir details Zichterman's childhood in an abusive IFB home, her marriage to an IFB man, and their eventual escape from the cult, along with details of Zichterman's mission to help rescue those who have been abused within the IFB.

As a person who also grew up in the IFB, attending camp at the Wilds of the Rockies, at Northland Baptist Bible College (now the defunct Northland International University); spending six years earning two "degrees" from Bob Jones University, and leaving the world of the IFB behind after six additional years teaching at an IFB school, I can attest that Zichterman details accurately the life within the IFB. To be sure, her home life was more extremely abusive than may be typical, but the church politics, the breaking of a child's will, the focus on women staying home to serve their men - all of this is seen throughout various sub-cultures of the overall IFB culture as a whole.

I myself have interacted with many of the people Zichterman mentions in her book and was not remotely surprised at the character abuse she endured upon her escape, along with multiple pleas to return to "the truth that she knew." I myself was chastised for not tithing exactly ten percent of my paycheck, which was easily discoverable at my church since one of the deacons was also the school principal. I, too, was chastised for being female and wanting to think or learn or have opinions. I, too, experience flashbacks to childhood abuse and was told the most important thing was to forgive my abuser and ask for forgiveness for any sin I may have committed while having the flashbacks to being raped as a 6-year old child. I also left the IFB behind, discovered my "degrees" from Bob Jones University were worthless, and was forced to start over again, working multiple jobs while I put myself through an accredited university education so I could get a new position outside of fundamentalism.

This book isn't an easy one to read, and I'm certain it wasn't an easy story for Zichterman to tell. But it is the truth, and it behooves us to remember that there are many of these churches scattered throughout the country where children are growing up uneducated, abused, and virtually trapped because they cannot imagine a way out and have no support system in place should they choose to leave. Recommended

Recommended for: adults, those who wish to learn more about the IFB or Bob Jones University, etc.
Red Flags: lots of descriptions of abuse, language
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

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