A year after Waco, I had had enough.
As a child I had attended a grades 1-10 SDA school located between Battle Creek and Berrien Springs until the 10th grade when I escaped to public school Hell, instead.
In the 9th grade I had had a very painful ulcer, and often had to leave school early. Not only were my parents no help, but there was no help at my SDA school. You see, the local SDA youth pastor would not stop trying to seduce me. He would even abuse his ‘pastoral’ authority by calling me out of my teacher’s classroom during school hours in order to try to get me to agree to go on a canoeing and camping trip with him. I was a fast-growing tall kid or I would not have been able to fight him off when he got me down one time.
My father hated the SDA church. When I tried to tell my SDA mother, all she said was, “N-o-o-o !” So my San Francisco-‘Hippy’ guitar teacher became my ‘pastor’ and I didn’t learn a lick of guitar while he listened to my sad song. One Friday winter night, after my mother turned off my James Taylor record for not being ‘Sabbath music’, I locked my basement bedroom door, crawled up through the tiny window and hitch-hiked down to Andrews University where I discovered that my student-sister was away from campus with the women’s quartet she performed in. So as the cops cruised Berrien at bar-closing time I snuck into an all night laundry and called ‘home’. I stopped going to my SDA church and the next year I enrolled with the boozers and dopers at the Public High School in Otsego, Michigan, where Ellen had her vision regarding the Health work. . . .This is merely a part, of merely my own, small struggle with SDA ‘authority’-gone-wrong.
(As a hormone-diseased teen-ager, I myself was in no way ‘without sin’ as a hetero-sexually-oriented, acne-plastered ‘geek’ . . . but I myself was in no way in a position of ‘authority’,
and abusing that ‘pastoral’ ‘authority’ ‘with sin’ in mind. And, like too many of my pathetically ‘captive’ peers at the time, I was raised to feel guilt for dis-respecting any of my ‘elders’.)
So, when I learned that ‘official’ SDA GC leaders were distancing themselves from ‘Koresh’ as if ‘his’ sin was some new thing in SDA circles . . . instead of seeing ‘Waco’ as a warning and encouragement for the GC to publicly confess to having also committed such abuses of authority – on behalf of the whole SDA church – and repent before, and thereby also evangelize, the whole watching world . . . well, let’s just say I was not going to be the one getting the ulcer, again.
A year after ‘Waco’ I tried to have my name erased quietly from SDA membership records. Nope !
I was told that I had to contact the pastor where my membership was, and I was given 3 abusive choices for obtaining freedom from the abuses of SDA ‘authority’: 1) Die. 2) Be legally missing for 2 years. 3) Apostasy. This ‘fundamental doctrine’ had not been mentioned to me in ‘Baptismal classes’ when I was 11.
Over the phone, I tried to get the new pastor – whom I had never even met, and whose name I had not even known – to agree to let me at least write a letter to the older church members who knew me, explaining my move, in order to avoid the inevitable rumor-and-gossip-fed misunderstandings
. . .“No.”
I suggested that it would be fine if the letter was locked in a drawer in the church office and only shown to those requesting its answers
. . . “No.”
Then he insisted on meeting me because he – this strange man who had never before even attempted to contact me, a church member – repeatedly insisted that he was my ‘pastor’ ! ?
( I was nearly 37 years old and in business for myself at the time and was, nevertheless, being ‘patronized’ like I was a dependent witless baby.)
Finally, amazed at his ‘authoritative’ arrogance, I followed my father’s example and cussed at him,
“You’re NOT MY F_ _ _ _ _ _ ‘pastor’ !”, at which point he dared to play the ‘offended party’ !
But, just who was wanting to ‘get into’ whose ‘pants’, yet again ?
Then, according to church ‘policy’ and ‘by-laws’, he dragged this ‘apostate’s’ silenced plea before the whole ‘constituency’ of the church I was raised in, and the ‘constituency’ blindly voted that ‘Scarlet Letter’ ‘choice’ in return for setting me free. Of course I got a letter from a ‘little old lady’ who had watched me grow up, begging me to, ‘. . . come back to the Lord.’ And, of course I wrote back, explaining that I had not left the Lord. . . . Yet, brainwashed as she was in believing that SDA positions of ‘authority’ truly meant ‘Lord’-ship – regardless of Koresh-style abuses of that ‘lord-ship’
– I’m sure she died, still ‘weeping’ for my ‘lost soul’.
In 2009 I rejoined the SDA church, only to run head on into ‘Spiritual Formation’ with my new ‘Pastor’. . . So, just how did you vote while leading in that small, ‘authoritative’ GC committee that mandated ‘SF’ classes for all SDA ‘authority figures’ dealing with the public, around 2001, ‘Pastor’ Wilson, before you ‘authoritatively’ anathematized ‘SF’ at 2010’s far larger ‘constituency’ meeting ? Maybe I could more heartily submit to your unclear ‘pastoral’ ‘authority’ if you and the voted representatives of the SDA ‘constituency’ would simply choose one of the following 3 clear paths on which to lead me:
- Die. 2) Be legally missing for 2 years. 3) Apostasy. . . !
So, my birthday this year, will be the 24th anniversary of my escape from SDA GC ‘Waco’.
Why did I return ? . . . This time I’m not going to be the one getting an ulcer !
What other SDA publication allows its readers to tell stories like this ?
Thanks ‘Hippy’- Spectrum !