More AssemblyBoard Comments on Child Training
Scott McC. from Tuscola, 2003: "The best thing about being an Assembly Kid is other Assembly Kids! Our Assembly was loaded with families. I grew up with dozens of brothers and sisters.
We saw each other half a dozen times a week. We stayed at each other's homes. We sat next to each other in meetings - if we were behaving. We went to Youth Fellowship. We camped. We had crushes on each other. We got into A LOT of trouble.
We had lunch together every Sunday. We passed notes. We made faces across the room during prayer meetings. We guarded tents together. We went to Six Flags. Hay rides. Rented a local gym to run around in.
Through it all we stuck together. Had to. No other kids knew what we were talking about half the time!
Now 15 years later, I'm talking and reconnecting with these same people and we're picking up right where we left off. And I'm meeting people from all over the country that I never knew before but know exactly what I'm talking about.
That's the best thing about being an Assembly Kid."
A year later Scott posted about the other side of being an Assembly kid.
February 9, 2004 "Assembly kids (referred to as "AKs") were taught, whether blatantly or subtly, that basically anything not a part of the Assembly was a part of the Satanic world order.
Sports were denied because they fomented a competitive attitude rather than cooperation, they glorified man and set man up as an idol, and as an institution they became an idol.
Extra-curricular activities were denied because they took time away from proper Assembly functions and allowed too much contact with unsaved people.
Outside friendships were denied because other children might contaminate an AK with worldly views or tempt them to carnal activities.
Fellowship with other Christians was denied because other Christians were (take your pick) either playing games / apostate / without the true vision / worldly / carnal.
Relationships with family members not in the Assembly were denied because they were either not saved and a bad influence, or saved but not "walking with the Lord".
Dancing was denied because it led to temptation and an overpowering lust.
Holidays could not be celebrated because they purportedly had pagan implications from centuries past.
Comic books could not be read because the heroes' powers were derived from demonic influences.
Secular music was denied because the beat led to sexual arousal and demonic possession.
Basically, an AK with fully involved parents (especially those who were leading brothers and Workers) could expect in a normal day to wake up to morning devotions (both private and household), morning stewardships, school, afternoon stewardships, a meeting, homework. They were expected to prepare a chapter summary, eat dinner properly and in relative silence, recite memory verse or share a thought from a devotion, attend pre-prayer, set up chairs, perform and behave properly during the meeting, take down chairs, go home and do homework if there was time, sleep, do it again (the only variation being the type of meeting to attend-- prayer, chapter summary, tape, witnessing, all night of prayer, etc).
The bottom line was that an AK was required to be an Assembly adult. Any attempt to be a child and enjoy childhood was forcefully quashed.
AKs were not taught to make choices (good or bad) on their own. They were not taught to relate to people outside the Assembly. They were taught that the Assembly was more important than family. They were taught that they must to be prepared to survive a horrible period of persecution before the return of Christ in the year ________ (depending on George's latest revelation). They were not in any way prepared to be autonomously functioning adults in the real world.
AKs were taught they will never succeed in doing anything in accordance with God's standards. AKs were taught that God is harsh and demanding and there is no joy in a relationship with him until his return - and then only if you have lived a life of hardship and denial in full Assembly participation - and then only if you enjoy sitting in meetings and listening to George, because that is what we will be doing in eternity.
These things AKs learned on our own: Our parents preached joy and were miserable. They preached freedom and were slaves. They preached Christ first and worshipped the Assembly. They preached love and looked down their noses at their fellow man. They preached humility, piety, sexual purity and truth, and bound themselves to an arrogant, lying adulterer.
Brent T., January 2003
Here is my opinion about child abuse in the Assembly:
Children are NOT sytematically abused. If called upon to testify, I will vehemently assert that we did NOT physically abuse our children by following Assembly protocol.
Mat-training and no-fussing are not the worst things you can do to a child. If used moderately, they are actually helpful in a certain sense. Spanking is a biblical method, and the Assembly used books by Christians who had no involvement with the ministry. I remember when the Fugates taught in Fullerton. They thought we were a little looney, but they put on a good seminar even so. Child training, according to Betty Geftakys, is detrimental, but it does not constitute physical abuse, at least in my mind.
I was very zealous with mat-training, etc. but I did not abuse my kids! What did occur, in my case and in many others, is that all the control and performance based pressure and expectations, resulted in TOTALLY turning the kids off to anything that had to do with God. I began to notice this tendency in our ten year old, right when we left, and most of the leaders have lost their first-born sons, due to the overemphasis on control.
There is nothing wrong with spanking, or teaching children to be quiet. The problem comes when we equate these things with "faithfullness," and demand that the children look a certain way to be, "good examples." This trains into them a very false idea about who God is, and causes them to despise the Lord, or to become proud and arrogant because they are able to perform.
"Guest", March 2003
The question to ask is how severe have these "spankings" been. Have these "spankings" ever been so bad that parents might not take their kids to the doctor for medical care including potentially serious medical issues because of the fact that the doctor may find bruises on them from overly zealous "spankings"? Have there been assembly members that have bruised their children? If you are bruising a child, I think that this would go a way beyond "spanking". Has this happened in the assembly? I assume that in most cases, no serious permanent "physical" damage would be done from the spankings, but this could still stop the parents from taking a child to a doctor for some serious medical condition, because the doctor might also see the bruises and report this to the authorities. In other words these bruises may result in a situation that is very harmful to the child, other than the physical injury of the "spanking" itself.
Brent T., December 2002
Child training was a major focus for years. This included mat training, no-fussing, teaching first time obedience, etc. In the 80's and 90's the average Assembly kid got more than a dozen spankings a week, some much more. Again, all I am telling you is my own first hand account. This is totally accurate info. I don't know if they have mellowed out on childtraining lately, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Over the years, some of the saints, even leaders, have had their kids taken away for a time by DSS. Again, I am not saying that the kids should be taken away, I am only stating a fact. One woman, who grew up in The Assembly, told me this recently, "When I think that there are 3 year old girls out there, being treated like that, I just can't stop crying." This woman has vivid memories of angry parents and spankings before bed etc. I think this is more the norm in the Assembly than the exception. There are some exemplary parents in the Assembly as well, but they are few and far between.
There is tremendous pressure to conform. Very little, if anything was left to individual conscience, at least up until 2000, when I left. If it wasn't dictated outright from the pulpit, it was dictated via "suggestions" in times of discipling. Dress, hairlength, diet, manner of speech, and much more was quite regimented. Again, these are my direct observations over 17 years. I visited from coast to coast and had my eyes wide open the whole time.
I don't think anyone would contradict what I have just said, and I know many out there could add a great deal to it. I have decided not to go into detail about some of the childtraining techniques in my writing, because I don't want the authorities to use my words to remove the children from their homes. I do not think that is right at all.
Interestingly, here in SLO several leader's and other families had their kids taken out of school and interogated by DSS about two years ago. They took the opportunity to blame me for it, telling everyone I had accused them. I did no such thing, and abhor the idea. However, someone did report them for child abuse, and I hope they have toned it down. The simple fact is that their kids are not happy. Everyone in town knows it, except the Assembly parents.
The saddest thing about the Assembly is that innocent people, like the kids, are damaged spiritually and emotionally. There is physical abuse as well, but let's be fair, it doesn't just happen in the Assembly. The tragedy is that an abused kid from the "world" can find comfort in Christ by getting involved in a church youth group, etc. An Abused Assembly kid has no such resource in the Assembly. They only get legalism, deception, and a pharisaic influence. Being a normal child is not allowed in the Assembly. Oh, sure there are a few that seem OK, but history has shown, beyond any doubt that this group is not growing and thriving, and for good reason.
John Steinke wrote in 2008, "There are volumes that could be written about the child abuse I observed during my first visits to Fullerton, and during the times I lived in various homes. When my wife and I started our own family, the child training which we were expected to subject our daughter to, who was born in February ’92, had a lot to do with our leaving in July that year.
An AK wrote, "I feel that anyone who was involved with children or teens (the most formative years of a persons' life) should be held in a sense more accountable for the negative impact they had in the lives of those young, defenseless people- b/c believe me, that impact is still present in our lives today. I simply want some people to start being honest and start taking some accountability, especially those who are speaking out publicly. "I left when I was still young (in high school more or less) and I have struggled ever since with my walk with the Lord (not that I didn't struggle while I was in the Assembly). It is only in very recent months that I have, for the first time in my life, begun to find the freedom to truly walk with the Lord. "However, as I have been keeping up with what is going on, I am learning that much of the reason I haven't been able to "stick at it" is b/c for so many years I equated the Assembly way with walking with God. That whole "their way is the only way or better way" ideology has stuck with me. I have a really hard time trusting people who claim to be Christians. How do I know what is true and right when everything that I learned from the time I was born to the time I was about 17 has been tainted? How do I know that anyone who writes on that board or submits articles is being honest? These are the things I have been struggling with and yet they are things that should be addressed b/c I believe with all my heart that anyone who was ever involved with the Assembly has a lot of healing to do and I know that God will be instrumental in that process. But honesty from those by whom we have been hurt will immensely help us to make sense of this whole mess. Does that make sense?"
Nate-Dogg from Champaign: "We were exhorted to literally repeat the Selfers Prayer every time we felt self getting on the throne, and this was at 12 years of age! I dont know if AKs have a full idea of how much this teaching has damaged and straightjacketed them-- I am only beginning to come to some understanding."