Cru – “a semester’s worth of spiritual abuse and cultlike experiences”

Excerpt from: https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2010/11/21/did-you-ever-belong-to-an-evangelical-campus-ministry/

“two cents in case anyone still reads this: my freshman year in college I joined Campus Crusade. I met some overeager sophomores at an ice cream social who seemed like the squeaky clean good Christian influence types, and being lonely away from home, I joined. I met several girls from my dorm and we all went together to the weekly meetings/bible studies.

Early in the semester, one of the leaders’ moms joined us and started gradually taking over. She overstepped many leadership boundaries and our weekly bible studies started becoming very weird. She did a series on “maleness and femaleness” (still don’t know what the hell she was talking about), and when the girls met separately, the leaders would push and push people to share until someone cried. Major boundary violation.

Quite a few people started leaving, and soon our meetings were down to less than half what they were in the beginning. Our leaders were quick to boldly proclaim that “they just don’t know the truth.” I admit I ignored several of the defectors for a while, thinking they were backsliding. The messages were becoming weirder and weirder, and during one bible study the message was over the top weird, it made no sense. Afterward, the same night, I approached a girl I trusted with some questions and doubts about the night’s message. She looked at me like I had four heads and proceeded to ignore me. On the way back to the dorm, my friends and I almost in unison said, “that was SO weird! right? let’s never ever go back! K!” and that was that. From that point on, the members of “the cult” would not speak to us or acknowledge us AT ALL. (Later they all went on to marry – each other. Creepy? Also, it turned out that the leader’s mother caused a scandal in a local church and was asked to leave. Crusade got better in later years after she left.) I knew I had made the right decision. I went through a major grief & separation period after that, questioning my faith completely, and what I’d now consider a period of depression.

Luckily my friends and I stuck together. We started partying for a while, and then we checked out other groups. We visited Baptist Student Union which I found revoltingly conservative and vowed to never go back after a skit in which several boys made degrading comments about gay people.

I ended up in IVCF, “the liberal hippy group” and made several new friends there. After spending my whole life in church, I couldn’t just give up, despite a semester’s worth of spiritual abuse and cultlike experiences. I also went to a local church’s young adult service, which grew extremely popular, where I met several men involved in the Navigators at the local military base that ended up being kind of controlling toward us girls. I was involved in many more bible studies, went on missions trips, was an intern for the church’s youth group, and just threw myself in completely, despite nagging feelings that I didn’t quite agree or belong. I continually subjected myself to my own spiritual abuse, befriending people that were terrible friends for the sake of “accountability” and guilting myself when the friendships failed, believing I wasn’t good enough.

Long story short, yes I did participate, and overall, I believe I got burned pretty badly. IVCF is the only group I don’t have terrible memories of, but if I could do it over again, I’m not sure I would join that group either.”

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