The Wartburg Watch continues their series of reports from Sterling, Virginia’s Calvary Temple with yet another account from a former member.
My husband and I have 5 boys. All of them left the church except for Joey who was 21 years old when we departed. Three short months later, the church leaders convinced Joey to get married. None of us, parents or brothers, were allowed to attend the wedding. We were told that they had a police presence at the church, just in case we did show up.
Joey now has two children-our grandchildren. The oldest is 3 years old and we have only been permitted to see her on two occasions. The youngest is 3 months old and we have not been allowed to meet him yet.
[ … ]
A couple of events had troubled me:
I was told that I could not go to breakfast or hang out with my friend who had left the church. I told him that at my age, I would not have someone tell me who I could or could not hang around with.
[ … ]
As soon as we left, the youth pastor Jeff Heglund called all the high school kids together [ed. note: Calvary Temple has a school] and told them not to talk to any of the Simoneau’s because “they were not Christians and serving God.” Our children were crushed. These were all of their friends that they had since birth. They had no other friends because the church discouraged friendships from outside of the church and school.
And on, and on, and drearily on.
Two things must be kept firmly in mind when reading these stories:
All churches are incipient cults, and Calvary Temple differs only in degree from the respectable, little white church down the street from your house.
Healthy families, with their concomitant loyalties, threaten the pastor’s total ownership and control of his church’s membership; necessarily, excepting its marketing schtick, no church is or can be truly family-friendly.
Notice the second passage I highlighted; that’s the proper, healthy response to Calvary’s intrusiveness. Recall, now, this famous passage from Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Antichrist: “Christianity finds sickness necessary, just as the Greek spirit had need of a superabundance of health — the actual ulterior purpose of the whole system of salvation of the church is to make people ill.”
Calvary Temple is a good example of what ol’ Friedrich was talking about.