Imaginary Defects

Another fantastic video from TheraminTrees. I'm sure many of us can relate to this. We were made to feel guilty for being human. We were shamed for things we did, or even things we thought, that never harmed anyone.


  1. I always thought it especially vile to bring beautiful children into the world, and then to smear the black paint of "sin" all over their precious minds and bodies. What massive destruction this caused for many of my loved ones, not to mention, huge numbers of very wise defections out of the "faith." I remember getting interrogated as a child by CD family members as to whether I'd exposed myself to other children, or whether I had molested my siblings, or whether I was homosexual. What did this create, for much of my family who experienced the same treatment? Neurotics, miserable and closeted homosexuals, female subordination to males, rampant sexism and sexual violence. I am sure this was unusual for most Christadelphian families, but it surely wasn't for my own. Christadelphianism was the wellspring from whence all of this filth and injury flowed. And what a trail of dead and mangled bodies and psyches it left behind us. I have a sibling who was sufficiently traumatized to the point where she allows no one to touch her, and no other human being will ever experience intimacy with her. What a horrendous gift, to have received from this destructive little religion. Bringing these charges to their attention, I have always received the same response: "Blame individuals who erred, and not our faith itself." But where were the "individuals" molded and inspired? In your S***ty little cult.

  2. About spot on Margaret - I did not experience sexual abuse my self growing up in the CDs but I came across sexual abuse of quite a few. What was more horrible was that the sexual abuse was sometimes covered up by the CD meeting in question.

    The Faith is inherently to blame because the clear message and ethos is one of "a trouble shared is a trouble doubled!!"CDs have transported the characteristics of the double standards and obsession with sex that Victorian society held when Dr Thomas was around. Thus the misogynistic use of hats as a symbol of the "special" place of women in the Meeting. In this kind of environment sexual abuse can run rampant.

    You say that closeted homosexuals, female subordination to males, rampant sexism and sexual violence is not common. I disagree - I was speaking to a CD therapist who has been counselling people including CDs for quite a few years and he told me that if someone in your (CD) family had not at some time being sexually abused you were unusual!

    I have PTSD in part, because of the emotional abuse from the CDs and I came across quite a few sexual abuse victims. On one occasion a CD was preparing a woman for baptism and he raped her!

    But yes, spot on - the "individuals" were moulded in this vile cult.

    I am so sorry to hear about your sibling and the awful things that have happened to her - they should be taken to Court for sure.

  3. I was raised in a CD family, attending Sunday school, clubs, youth days/weekends etc and was never aware of any sexual abuse or impropriety occuring. On the contrary, I found most CDs to be so sexually constipated that I'm sure they would never have dreamed of taking advantage.
    I know there was some sneaking between rooms and hanky panky at youth weekends (Swanwick especially), but this was only between consenting young people, and never in my experience by the adults.

    1. Hello Mark - I believe you when you say that CDs appear sexually constipated. But because it is unusual for CDs to "confess their sins" (reason being the negative effects of the CD grapevine) people don't talk about what's really going on. This only reinforces the secrecy and occurrence of the abuse.

      I was in the Christadelphian Care Group for quite a few years and I also was a speaker and, like you I thought that sexual abuse was rare in CD. But I was wrong. I had an in depth discussion with a CD who has been counselling CDs for decades and he, like you thought sexual abuse was rare. But as the years went by and the evidence stacked up he was persuaded by that evidence that if you did not have any one in your family who had not been sexually abused you were unusual. I came across people who were been sexually abused by 'pop star' speakers - because they could get away with it in CD secret culture.

      What's more, I found that the Logos faction of the CDs were the worst at keeping up appearances while bad stuff was going on in secret. One CD from a Logos CD meeting told me that there is a significant drug problem in the Logos meetings and because it can't be talked about and they are particularly narrow minded took longer before (and if) they sought help. So by this time they were in a worse state or maybe dead.

      I also did an anonymous poll for these kind of issues. While it was not a scientifically rigorous poll, it did indicate that the incidence of things like drug abuse within the CD world is the same as the general population.

      So I have strong evidence that these things go on in the CD world and it is part of the reason that I left the CD World - especially that this stuff is either not talked about or deliberately covered up. If it is not talked about it gets worse and the victims (as always) suffer the most.

    2. What happens is that things come to a head, and all of the "hidden" addictions, behaviors, issues suddenly reach a crisis point -- and only then are they addressed. If the individual or individuals in question are unlucky, they end up on a slab in a morgue, because the "CD help" is inappropriate (CDs traditionally "minister to one another" in many of these situations, shunning outside assistance) or the help is too little and too late. A family member of mine put on a brave face for many years -- when her life was actually disintegrating for various reasons -- and suddenly, inexplicably, was discovered jumping off the roof of a ten story parking garage in Tampa, Florida, while her children watched the event. She had not sought help from her coreligionists, because she was afraid of what they would think. She succeeded in making her jump, greatly devastating half a dozen other lives in the process.

  4. Mark, certainly at Swanwick, there was always an ongoing attempt to beat the wardens at their game and to get to grips with the opposite sex. Often with a good deal of success!
    In ecclesias there were instances of brethren leaving wives for someone else. In one ecclesia I belonged to, an older brother formed, separate from his Sister wife, an attachment with a younger unmarried Sister. Despite the couple being warned about this several times, it resulted in the brother divorcing his wife and eventually marrying the younger Sister, and they lived a very satisfactory and loving life together. They were, of course, both disfellowshipped, later accepted back. One has to remember that, certainly in the 1940`s and 50`s, there was little mingling between those of different ecclesias, and therefore the pool of available marriage partners was limited, still is, being a requirement that one chooses from within the fold. Many marriages were not between ideal partners, just between those who were available locally. It worked for some, not for others. Those who were gay or lesbian had an even greater difficulty.
    There was another brother in the same ecclesia whose overt lust for another married sister was legend, but the sister in question was able to hold him at arms length. Human nature was ever thus.
    Not sure how ecclesias handle LGBT today.

    1. Mancott,
      According to Jim Cowie recently, the "Sodomites" of the community get to meet and exchange ideas via FaceBook and websites linked from there. So maybe the wider community does not have to handle the matter as such:

      (Just after 33:42 if you don't wish to watch the whole thing).

      Normally I would not genuinely recommend a Jim Cowie talk, but this one is a bit different. He raises points with regard to FaceBook, and it's negative affects on the community, that had become apparent to me a considerable time before I left in 2008, many Christadelphians were in the thrall of it, and continue to be so, to this day.
      Well worth a spare hour actually. Disclaimer, he does drift off into his usual nutty stuff sometimes, but overall I have to say that I'd agree with him on this one.

    2. Joseph, just off on a rare holiday, so will look at this on my return. I don`t use FaceBook, by the way.

    3. Joseph, I skimmed through that presentation. I think he makes some valid critiques of social media, though he overplays them (in particular, not considering how apparently solitary phone/computer use can actually be part of community formation - consider even this very website, and to a greater extent the ex-CD Facebook group and some other "former Christian" forums I belong to).

      But as for the specifics of doctrine and teaching, the main thing he seems to be complaining about is a greater decentralisation and lack of accountability to an ecclesial structure (which in itself was supposed to be mostly ecclesial autonomy). I would argue that this decentralisation is more in keeping with Christadelphia's "official" concept that people should search out the truth of the Bible for themselves, and not just listen to "the clergy" (read: the Pioneers) telling them what to believe. I don't think Christadelphia has been good at actually allowing that, and part of this shows why it's difficult - when people go out seeking truth for themselves, it turns out they don't magically come up with the same beliefs. Who'd have thought it? Maybe it shows the Bible isn't such an infallible guide to Truth?

      But one of the funny things to me is the fact that he thinks he has the authority to police who can call themselves True Christadelphians and who can't. And to be fair I'll grant that he is probably closer to historical Christadelphianism than those he is objecting to - but my former ecclesia certainly wouldn't consider him to speak for them (though in fairness about the only item in that list of "threats to the Truth" that a majority of my ecclesia would have objected to is criticism of "diverse prophetic interpretations" - I may criticise prophetic interpretations more harshly now, but had many of the same criticisms pretty much from day 1 I heard of those interpretations...)

      And when he talks about the possibility of this generation being the "most sorely tested generation", and plans to talk about the "very last challenge", post-modernism, sorry, I think he lacks credibility. Young people today face challenges, and for Christadelphian young people among those challenges are scary people on the Internet telling them that everything they've been taught is wrong, but I find it hard to believe they are actually worse off than say Christadelphians during WW2.

    4. I've listened to enough old, male Christadelphian speakers with extremist views on many topics. I think I'll give that one a miss, sorry.

      For the record I don't think Facebook is some evil corporation trying to harvest our souls. I do think we should be concerned where business and profits (which offer many positives) don't always align with the goals of users/citizens, which is not a new issue, and there needs to be greater protection of individual freedoms and privacy whether enforced by governments or some other means. The conversation has started and Facebook is already responding to some of these concerns. Whether they will do what users want/need remains to be seen but I think the positive here is that users are starting to become aware of the risks of putting data online and of how much their data/privacy is worth. Those risks have always been here, and I think the online global community is slowly waking up and growing up to new realities, myself included.

      Rather than some evil plan to enslave us, and us having to fight back against sinister masterminds, I tend to view it as humanity just figuring this out as we go, and a bunch of self-interested agents and corporations trying to make money and stay afloat. Getting the balance right between markets/profits and human beings almost exactly describes the political spectrum. I'm slightly optimistic that the "wisdom of crowds" can ultimately steer us in a positive direction, but by no means do I think this process is automatic, hence why I take an interest and try to stay informed.

      Basically the world is far too complex to just say, "Facebook is evil", or "social media is bad". I, for one, derive a lot of benefit from it, but I am very careful to use it specifically in ways that offer that benefit, and I think it's good practice for everyone to stop and think about what data we're sharing.

      Where I differ from many of my colleagues in the tech world is that I don't care at all if companies profit from my data. Good for them. All I really care about is that I'm not harmed by them, in my lifetime. That's still an open question requiring diligence, but I'm not much of a tin-foil hat type, for better or worse.

    5. Thom, No need to be sorry, the comment was not suggesting you did listen to the talk, it was mainly targeted at Mancott, for the reasons stated. I have no idea how Ecclesias handle LGBT issues (and don't care either), but here is a Brother telling us that LGBT Christadelphians use Facebook to get in touch with each other, which (sort of) answers Mancott's question.
      Jim's talk did not in the most part seem so extreme to me, much of it seemed to reflect the concerns that governments (my own included), and wider society see as the problems associated with social media use, that is what I was suggesting, clearly Facebook, like any company, exist not to provide a free service, but to make a profit for their shareholders, surely that much is obvious to all?
      Mancott has chosen not to use Facebook, likewise, I have chosen not to. Choosing not to use the service does not put us in the realm of "tin-foil hat wearers". Good sources of news and information existed long before social media, and continue to do so.

    6. My reason for raising LGBT was, the thought of an ecclesia refusing to include in their number, a lesbian (or any other from LGBT people), should their sexual orientation be disclosed or discovered. In the light of the Equality Act 2010, which makes discrimination against anyone in the workplace, and "IN WIDER SOCIETY", against the law, would that include an ecclesia as being IWS, and might an action in law be upheld?

    7. A cake shop in the UK was successfully prosecuted and had to pay damages to a gay couple, when they refused to make them a cake. Apparently they were asked to ice a gay friendly message on the top that was contrary to their Christian beliefs. So I'm sure the CDs would be fair game!

    8. Mark, yes, it was an interesting case, but later the Supreme court reversed the decision of the Belfast county court and found that the baker did not discriminate against the sexual orientation of the person who ordered the wedding cake, simply refusing to ice on a particular message.Lots about the Supreme court`s decision online. In the hypothetical case of an ecclesia refusing to admit a gay couple or individual, it would be because of their sexual orientation, and therefore the ecclesia exercising discrimination, which is against the law. Question would be, I guess, whether an ecclesia would be considered to be in "The Wider Society" as defined by the Equality Act.

    9. There are about 6000 UK Christadelphians, or 1 in 10,000, whereas there are a million plus people identifying as LGBT, or 1 in 60. From this, we can see that, numerically at least, in the UK, it is likely that there is only one person who is both Christadelphian, and LGBT. It's a reason why Jim Cowie's talk was a bit of scaremongering. The numbers involved in any such group must be tiny.
      It is hard to imagine that a child with LGBT feelings, but born into the Christadelphian community would both stay with them and actively seek membership, such would the rejection of them be.
      I don't think the Christadelphian community would be fair game at all. It's so small, and so run like a private club, as to be in a position of ever declining size and relevance, and just would never appear on the radar of prosecutors, unlike the wider christian evangelical community.
      If I ever find a Christadelphian run cake shop, I will attempt a test case by ordering a cake iced "Happy Trinity Sunday Adam and Steve, best wishes for you life together", and see how it goes.

    10. This discussion reminds me that I recently wrote in passing about my experiences of discussion of homosexuality within Christadelphia (I feel it was always talked about as "homosexuality", and really only covered the "G" of LGBT): . I agree with Joseph that it seems likely that most people growing up with it would quit rather than fighting for acceptance (and I now know some who did do that).

      I don't know about in the UK, but usually when these kind of discussions come up believers try to assert their right to freedom of religion (and possibly also freedom of speech and freedom of association). At least as far as freedom of religion goes, I think it should only cover freedom to practice your own personal religion, not freedom to discriminate against or control others in the name of your religion. But I'm quite sure many don't agree with that...

    11. Joseph, when I used to attend Central evening meetings, I, on one evening, was accompanied by a young man with whom I worked, who was openly Gay, and felt able to discuss his feelings with me. He commented to me after leaving the Midland Institute that evening that, I might not realise it, as I was not, but he recognised two or three brethren who were closet members of the Gay community at that time. Looking back I can see that they probably were.
      In contributing to the discussion, I simply wondered that, if they had "come out" in these days, and therefore whether if being refused membership of an ecclesia, and invoking the present law of equality, what the harvest would be. Just musing.

  5. I have often pondered that being only allowed to marry a very small choice of partners from a select group makes for a very shallow gene pool? Coupled with the fact there are only a handful of families attending meetings compared to the wider population as a whole.
    By enforcing this, maybe older CDs are unconsciously practicing their own version of natural selection, using their most devout young couples to breed increasingly gullible replacements?

  6. Marge,
    Thanks for your story. No other animal is asked to deny its own nature yet growing up in a CD community in aus this is what we were supposed to do ,essentially humans are animals .i grew up scared of “the world”, believing long before shrek that donkeys could talk , and so out of touch with real human problems that when I had to go it alone I had no idea.
    Absolutely depressed that I wasn’t paired off and married by 20 I took solace with whoever I could find .I was never good enough for any of the CD girls , but was loved by a beautiful woman nearly twice my age who was also married at the time.almost 7 years later I left her , grown up, strong, and knowing everything about life I should have been taught earlier.CD “ friends” were critical and judgmental ever since I was a child.
    Later on I found out all the hidden things that went on such as a brother having an affair with my sister , and when it surfaced she and my parents were blamed and shunned.
    The list got bigger, a brother who molested his children , a brother who beat his wife, etc etc.
    Later on a story of a childhood friend who at 14 was encouraged to start a relationship with a single brother twice her age.
    Now living in another state I’m finding out about the extent of paedophlia with one perpetrator having over 50 known instances against his name but still in The flock.
    Christadelphians never have been and still are no better than any one else , why? We are all animals with a particular nature, that is not”sin” but an inherent ability to make mistakes and do stupid things, but we have also been given sexual natures that are prone to failure and prone to controlling our brains , much worse is when someone’s brain isn’t wired right or someone has such an imbalance of sexual desire or they have been mentally damaged by other humans , that they can’t control themselves.
    And this is the nature we’re supposed to suppress?
    The problem is institutions such as churches DO NOTHING because we’re supposed to forgive. CD churches are a miniature version of the world : there are classes, rich/poor. Smart / dumb . Social cliques / social outcasts, all presided over by a government, the A.Bs.
    It’s taken me many years to realise the damage that was done to me mentally
    And many years to realise the pain that this religion caused my family and ultimately seeing it come between my family .
    We inherited a sinful nature because one man disobeyed by eating fruit ? Give me a break!!
    Take one study of what fruit , trees and seed means in the bible and if you choose to believe the bible Adam and eves sin was of a sexual nature a corruption of a bloodline that was supposed to be pure.
    It is self evident in the writings that they became aware of their nakedness and tried to cover up. Later on Adam having another child in His image and His likeness, have s think about that!
    Again everything comes down to man having to control his base animal instinct.
    I have now chosen to stay away from all things CD and now for the first time in my life I feel truly free and able to see all humans ( including me ) for what they are , imperfect and prone to messing up , but also capable of heat things and much love , whether under the banner of the so called “truth” or in “the world”

    1. Roger,
      Interesting, but I'm struggling to understand your point.You grew up in strict CD surroundings, didn't find a girlfriend from your community, so went off and had a 7 year relationship with a woman twice your age. Are you blaming the CD's for this or thanking them?
      Also, your sister had an affair with a brother in the meeting, again, are you blaming the CD's for her actions, or are you claiming she was entirely not responsible for this? But you did the same thing with a married woman?
      People molest their children, and fight with their partners, this has nothing to do with being a CD, although as with any "separate" religious group, there may an incentive for the group to hide or cover up wrongdoing to save face with outsiders.
      The relationship that the 14 year old was "encouraged" to start. A sexual one? Is this anecdotal and did you name and report the "encouragers" to the relevant authorities?
      Are you seriously suggesting that a CD brother has committed 50 paedophile offences, know to his Ecclesia, and they have done nothing? That sounds a bit far fetched to me.
      Of course CD's are no better than anybody else. Why would they be? They nothing different to other people but attend a few meetings and talk nonsense amongst themselves.
      Staying away from them and similar groups is the best possible thing you can do.

    2. @ roger
      I didn’t say I didn’t find a girlfriend I said I was never good enough. What could that mean I wonder?
      Instead I would have written “ I didn’t find a girlfriend”. At this time I was 20 and not baptised .and was loved by a woman and you ask if I was blaming or thanking them ?
      Just telling a story that’s all,
      My parents were blamed and shunned regarding my sisters case.
      A brother in a position of power coercing a newly baptised 18 year old into an extra marital affair and then my sister and parents being shunned and blamed. There ya go does that make sense?i never spoke about who was responsible! Or said it was anyone in particulars fault, my sister and parents were blamed and shunned.
      The 14 year old , gee I don’t know
      Maybe its because I grew up with her!her mother encouraged it , baptised by sixteen then married to the guy at 18 .does it matter if it was sexual? Australia is not a third world country!! We generally don’t pair off daughters at 14 !!
      You downgrade someone beating their wife to “ fight with their partners” more facts for you, this brother lived next to my family home for a I think know how to write the phrase “ beat his wife”.
      Yes I am seriously saying not suggesting regarding the paeodophile brother. And yes he does still attend much like others of his persuasion who are kept in the flock by their loyal supporters. And no in that part of my story I didn’t say they’ve done nothing. I made that comment generally later in my post, I said he was still in the flock.
      My point?
      Every story has a beginning a middle and an end I thought it was pretty clear. 1 I grew up in a CD environment. 2 have seen heard and experienced bad things in relation to many ecclesias.3 now I stay away.
      Another point I made was about our lives being driven by a sexual nature not a sinful one, again just my view but a point that was seemingly missed by you as well.

  7. I think Roger is reflecting on his CD upbringing, the brethren being supposedly holier than thou, but in reality no better than "the world" that they scorn. They consider themselves superior due to their understanding of the "truth" but in reality are driven by the same basic primal urges as the rest of the human race.

  8. What I find most mysterious (or perhaps not) is the reality that a majority of Christadelphians do not perceive the extent to which they are brain fucked and manipulated by this little sect; the degree of brainwashing is perhaps epitomized by the fact that many defectors spend years or even decades regaining a reasonable degree of mental clarity after fleeing this atrophied and oxygen-sucking bunch of cultists.

    This reality does not bode well for human nature and the human condition -- inside or outside of Christadelphianism -- if we as human beings are so easily beguiled to begin with. In one congregation to which I belonged, there are now two medical doctors and one scientist! How is that possible? Perhaps their memberships are more "cultural" than "religious"?

    I went to a CD funeral after a long period of absence from membership. Within minutes, they were going through the paces of a droning, deadly dull, irrelevant and ancient liturgy. It was as if the death of the woman in the coffin was less important than what was perceived as an opportunity to proselytize the guests from the outside world. This inspired fresh feelings in me of revulsion -- despite my long period of freedom from their crap -- and I swore I'd never set foot in any of their halls again.

    We are the lucky ones. We have come out into the light of day. We stand before the universe without excuses and delusions. That is perhaps a more difficult "truth" for us. It is nonetheless a braver one for us, and one more worthy of our existence.

    1. I think one of the reasons many ex-Christadelphians have difficulty re-adjusting is that, like me, they have been in it from birth. Habits of compartmentalisation have been drilled in, some areas are unable to questioned, the fairly insular Christadelphian community is the main community they have known, and they have been to taught to trust the Bible and distrust their own reason and emotions. And so in many ways they are starting from scratch, and it can be difficult sorting through which things they've always known are true and which aren't. Some have also faced ostracism, parental overreach and outright abuse, which makes it much more complicated.

      Some doctors and scientists may be cultural members, but I think for a lot of them it's more just compartmentalisation - they have their "religious" box and their "work" box, and the two don't interact much (in that case I don't think it's necessarily cultural membership - it is possible to genuinely believe much of the Bible Sunday and ignore it the rest of the week). I do know some that try and reconcile it all - things like interpretation of the creation record as permitting an old earth, or evolution.

  9. Well said. Just as people can be intelligent in some areas, and unintelligent in others (it is said that Einstein could not remember his own phone number or cook an omelette), so, too, we may be intellectually astute and cognizant in some fields of thought (like our profession) and not in others (like the religion to which we adhere). And, yes, sometimes "intelligence" doesn't have a whole lot to do with it at all; "compartmentalization" is indeed the correct term for it.

    1. Also to quote Michael Shermer,

      "Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons"

      If you read any of the defences of faith given by intelligent folk, and especially scientists, you will find a marked difference between the way they defend things they KNOW to be true based on evidence and the way they argue for things they merely BELIEVE based on faith.

      The first will be as we expect, based on reasoning, evidence, critical thinking, etc.

      The second will be a collection of apologetic arguments explaining how the proposed belief might possibly still be true despite reality appearing to not (yet?) confirm it.

      Different standard of evidence. Different sets of rules.

      Another quote that sums it up pretty well:

      "Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
      - George Carlin

  10. LOL. So Funny! I used to find George Carlin offensive and objectionable in every manner. Now, the older I get, the more wisdom I detect in the things he said. I remember in particular one expression he used to use:

    "Keep your GOD-DAMNED religion off of me!"

  11. Hello, I'm a storyteller, I collect folk tales and true stories alike and I'd love to learn about the experiences those of you who'd be willing to share, had as members of the CDs. Is that anything of interest to any of you?

  12. Who exactly are you? What is your background? What do you plan on doing with the narratives you collect?

    1. Publishing them and making money from them at a guess.


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