Author Topic: I personally escaped this Cult  (Read 20240 times)

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Offline TC_Saved_Me

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I personally escaped this Cult
« on: December 09, 2011, 10:31:47 AM »
Well, I've been reading through some of these Discussion Boards, and thought that my input might carry some weight.  Since I have actually been enrolled in Teen Challenge, and successfully completely both phases of the program, unlike some other people who are posting on here...

When I went into Teen Challenge, I was court ordered because I had been arrested three times in just under a year.  All of the arrest were drug-related offenses.  To make a long story short, I was raised in a church, and never even liked going to church when I was invited.  But by the time I was arrested for the third time, I was completely addicted to drugs & alcohol, and was desperate to get myself clean, so I thought I'd try Teen Challenge.

The program had a very strict curriculum, and I wanted to leave the program several times (Once you are in the program, you are free to leave whenever you choose, but you cannot come back for a certain amount of time once you do).  If I wasn't court-ordered to finish Teen Challenge, I probably would have left to be honest.  But I stuck it out, and did my best to follow all of the rules that were enforced.  The consequences for breaking the rules vary, but you normally will have to do extra chores, and memorize more scriptures out of the Bible.

The program is basically: very structured, work responsibilities, Bible classes, required church attendence, scripture memorization, etc.  It was EXACTLY what I needed!  I'm not going to claim to be an expert on cults, but I believe most cults brainwash you to believe that someone or something in the confines of that cult should be worshipped.  Teen Challenge is not like that at all.  You are required to attend church services, but that's about it.  They don't strong-arm anyone to believe anything, they simply take an approach like most parents should when raising their children, "You're living under my roof, you will follow my rules.  If you don't follow my rules, you will have to pay consequences.  If you don't like the consequences, you are free to leave at any time."  It's that simple!

Anyway, as I stuck with the program, I tried to give this "Christianity" thing a serious try, and started praying and reading my bible daily.  Before I knew it, God had healed my body and my mind.  I was a new person by the time I left that program.  I never "worshipped" or "served" Teen Challenge while I was in the program, I was encouraged and learned how to "worhsip" and "serve" God.  That's it.

If you're still reading this, I have long been removed from Teen Challenge.  I am no longer affiliated with the program in any way.  But because of that "Cult," I have now been sober for 6 years, and have a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters.  I'm a pretty decent husband, father, and man.   I attend church every Sunday, and pay my taxes.  I have a great job working for the US Army.  Basically, I'm now a normal person, and my family - who couldn't trust me as far as they could throw me when I was addicted to drugs - loves me more than ever before.  Teen Challenge did all of that for me.  If that's what a "cult" is, then I encouraged anyone with a life-controlling addiction to find the nearest cult, and get involved as soon as possible!  God Bless!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cmack

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2011, 12:05:31 PM »
Quote from: "TC_Saved_Me"
Well, I've been reading through some of these Discussion Boards, and thought that my input might carry some weight.  Since I have actually been enrolled in Teen Challenge, and successfully completely both phases of the program, unlike some other people who are posting on here...

When I went into Teen Challenge, I was court ordered because I had been arrested three times in just under a year.  All of the arrest were drug-related offenses.  To make a long story short, I was raised in a church, and never even liked going to church when I was invited.  But by the time I was arrested for the third time, I was completely addicted to drugs & alcohol, and was desperate to get myself clean, so I thought I'd try Teen Challenge.

The program had a very strict curriculum, and I wanted to leave the program several times (Once you are in the program, you are free to leave whenever you choose, but you cannot come back for a certain amount of time once you do).  If I wasn't court-ordered to finish Teen Challenge, I probably would have left to be honest.  But I stuck it out, and did my best to follow all of the rules that were enforced.  The consequences for breaking the rules vary, but you normally will have to do extra chores, and memorize more scriptures out of the Bible.

The program is basically: very structured, work responsibilities, Bible classes, required church attendence, scripture memorization, etc.  It was EXACTLY what I needed!  I'm not going to claim to be an expert on cults, but I believe most cults brainwash you to believe that someone or something in the confines of that cult should be worshipped.  Teen Challenge is not like that at all.  You are required to attend church services, but that's about it.  They don't strong-arm anyone to believe anything, they simply take an approach like most parents should when raising their children, "You're living under my roof, you will follow my rules.  If you don't follow my rules, you will have to pay consequences.  If you don't like the consequences, you are free to leave at any time."  It's that simple!

Anyway, as I stuck with the program, I tried to give this "Christianity" thing a serious try, and started praying and reading my bible daily.  Before I knew it, God had healed my body and my mind.  I was a new person by the time I left that program.  I never "worshipped" or "served" Teen Challenge while I was in the program, I was encouraged and learned how to "worhsip" and "serve" God.  That's it.

If you're still reading this, I have long been removed from Teen Challenge.  I am no longer affiliated with the program in any way.  But because of that "Cult," I have now been sober for 6 years, and have a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters.  I'm a pretty decent husband, father, and man.   I attend church every Sunday, and pay my taxes.  I have a great job working for the US Army.  Basically, I'm now a normal person, and my family - who couldn't trust me as far as they could throw me when I was addicted to drugs - loves me more than ever before.  Teen Challenge did all of that for me.  If that's what a "cult" is, then I encouraged anyone with a life-controlling addiction to find the nearest cult, and get involved as soon as possible!  God Bless!

Thanks for sharing your story, and congratulations on getting your life back on-track. You didn't say what your drug of choice was, but I'm assuming it was something more potent than marijuana. After three arrests in under a year it sounds like you were ready "desperate" to get clean and straighten your life out. I believe people change when they're ready to change. You found solace and redemption through faith. Others follow different paths to sobriety. But I don't think any program can be effective if the person isn't ready to change.

Are you willing to answer a few questions?

How much of your success do you attribute to the program, and how much to your own resolve and determination?

Do you believe all the rules and structures of Teen Challenge are necessary or are there changes you think could be made to make it a better program?

During your time with TC did you witness anything that think might be considered abusive?

Are you involved in any ongoing recovery work, 12-step, etc?

Thanks
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline TC_Saved_Me

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 03:31:35 PM »
I agree with you about the "prerequisite" of change being that you have to hit "rock bottom" first.  And I believe that "rock bottom" is very different for everybody.  I personally would have never entered the program if I hadn't been court ordered.   Like any rehab, Teen Challenge does not work for people who are not ready to change.  I have personally seen alot of men enter the program who hadn't hit rock bottom, only to leave the program and start using again.
 
To answer your questions:
I attribute my success to both myself and the program.  But mostly, as a Christian, I attribute all the credit of my sobriety to God.  Through faith, I believe that God gave me the strenght to endure the difficult curriculum of Teen Challenge, and He used that curriculum to change the way I think about things - the way I approach my life.

I'm really pumped that you asked me about the necessity of the rules, and I think I'm a great person to answer that question because I've actually been involved with about four difference Teen Challenge facilities, and each of them is run just a little bit different than the next.  The TC in San Diego, for example, is ALOT tougher than the one in Pittsburgh.  For me, I lean toward the importance of the rules and the structure because I believe that if it weren't for the rules enforced in San Diego (where I completed the first phase of the program),  I wouldn't have been humbled to the point where I needed to pray for God's strength to endure it.  I do believe that some people are different than me though, and respond better for grace and love.  I personally needed tough love.

In the 20 months that I was in Teen Challenge (2 weeks in Philly, 4 months in San Diego, 8 months in Riverside, CA and 6 months as an Intern in Pittsburgh, PA), I never witnessed anything that could have been considered abusive.  Although, there were times when I was too prideful to accept responsibility for my own behavior, and tried to construe my discipline as being abusive.  

To give some examples of times I was disciplined:  
1)  I lost phone privledges, and could not call home.
2)  I once was put on a "word fast" for talking back to staff and was not aloud to speak to other students for a week.  

In my mind, I tried to convince myself that they didn't have the right to do these things, so I could justify my own pride.  The fact is, I still had food to eat, I still had clothes to wear, I still had a bed to sleep in.  I had medical care available if I ever needed it for whatever reason, and I still have all the essentials I needed - not to mention that I could have left at any time without any repercussions.  
It wasn't abusive.  It was strict, and it was designed to teach me to lean on God for strength, and proved to be VERY effective.

As someone who has been through Navy bootcamp, I used to explain it like this to people:  Navy bootcamp is designed to break you down mentally and physically, so you learn to rely on the rest of your division - Teen Challenge is designed to break you down spiritually, so you learn to rely on your faith in God.

I have never been involved in any kind of on-going treatment since I left Teen Challenge (in March of 2008).  I could not, with good conscience, stand in front of a bunch of people every week and say, "Hi, my name is Barry and I'm a drug addict."  That is contrary to everything that I have come to believe while studying the Bible.  What I believe is that, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things have passed away, and all things have become new."  2 Corinthians 5: 17
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cmack

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 04:46:30 PM »
Quote from: "TC_Saved_Me"
I agree with you about the "prerequisite" of change being that you have to hit "rock bottom" first.  And I believe that "rock bottom" is very different for everybody.  I personally would have never entered the program if I hadn't been court ordered.   Like any rehab, Teen Challenge does not work for people who are not ready to change.  I have personally seen alot of men enter the program who hadn't hit rock bottom, only to leave the program and start using again.
 
To answer your questions:
I attribute my success to both myself and the program.  But mostly, as a Christian, I attribute all the credit of my sobriety to God.  Through faith, I believe that God gave me the strenght to endure the difficult curriculum of Teen Challenge, and He used that curriculum to change the way I think about things - the way I approach my life.

I'm really pumped that you asked me about the necessity of the rules, and I think I'm a great person to answer that question because I've actually been involved with about four difference Teen Challenge facilities, and each of them is run just a little bit different than the next.  The TC in San Diego, for example, is ALOT tougher than the one in Pittsburgh.  For me, I lean toward the importance of the rules and the structure because I believe that if it weren't for the rules enforced in San Diego (where I completed the first phase of the program),  I wouldn't have been humbled to the point where I needed to pray for God's strength to endure it.  I do believe that some people are different than me though, and respond better for grace and love.  I personally needed tough love.

In the 20 months that I was in Teen Challenge (2 weeks in Philly, 4 months in San Diego, 8 months in Riverside, CA and 6 months as an Intern in Pittsburgh, PA), I never witnessed anything that could have been considered abusive.  Although, there were times when I was too prideful to accept responsibility for my own behavior, and tried to construe my discipline as being abusive.  

To give some examples of times I was disciplined:  
1)  I lost phone privledges, and could not call home.
2)  I once was put on a "word fast" for talking back to staff and was not aloud to speak to other students for a week.  

In my mind, I tried to convince myself that they didn't have the right to do these things, so I could justify my own pride.  The fact is, I still had food to eat, I still had clothes to wear, I still had a bed to sleep in.  I had medical care available if I ever needed it for whatever reason, and I still have all the essentials I needed - not to mention that I could have left at any time without any repercussions.  
It wasn't abusive.  It was strict, and it was designed to teach me to lean on God for strength, and proved to be VERY effective.

As someone who has been through Navy bootcamp, I used to explain it like this to people:  Navy bootcamp is designed to break you down mentally and physically, so you learn to rely on the rest of your division - Teen Challenge is designed to break you down spiritually, so you learn to rely on your faith in God.

I have never been involved in any kind of on-going treatment since I left Teen Challenge (in March of 2008).  I could not, with good conscience, stand in front of a bunch of people every week and say, "Hi, my name is Barry and I'm a drug addict."  That is contrary to everything that I have come to believe while studying the Bible.  What I believe is that, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things have passed away, and all things have become new."  2 Corinthians 5: 17


Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I can see how a strict program might be beneficial for some people. I can also see how certain people could be emotionally damaged from such a program. Truly, there is no one-size-fits-all program. I'm glad TC worked for you. I only hope others who seek help will have the options available and sufficient information to be able to choose the path/program that best suits them. Unfortunately for too many, especially minors, they are forced into programs that do more harm than good.

I agree with you that temporary loss of phone use and a 'word fast' don't seem to be particularly abusive.

I'm also glad to hear that you aren't involved in any kind of aftercare support group. You shouldn't view yourself as broken or as a prisoner of your past addiction. You've found the strength and salvation you needed through your Christian faith, and as you said "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation". Your past is just that, your past. It's not something you have to be shackled to as you move forward in your life.

Congrats again, and best wishes for your future.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline TC_Saved_Me

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 05:01:35 PM »
Thank you Very much.  It's very refreshing to get an open-minded and respectful response from someone on here.

I just cannot understand how people think they can argue with someone's personal experience.  "No!  That's not what you experienced!  This is what you experienced!"   :beat:  It's hilarious!   :seg:
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Offline cum guzzler

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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2011, 05:13:08 PM »
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Offline Anonymous

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2011, 05:14:48 PM »
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« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 10:34:21 PM by Anonymous »

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2011, 05:34:56 PM »
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N.O.S.O.B.

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2011, 05:36:54 PM »
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Offline cmack

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2011, 05:54:35 PM »
Quote from: "TC_Saved_Me"
Thank you Very much.  It's very refreshing to get an open-minded and respectful response from someone on here.

I just cannot understand how people think they can argue with someone's personal experience.  "No!  That's not what you experienced!  This is what you experienced!"   :beat:  It's hilarious!   :seg:

Some people were so traumatized and harmed by their program experience that they are unwilling or unable to accept that some others received any benefit at all. I am opposed to any kind of forced or coercive treatment. I think that many who run programs are in it just for the money and they lack the skills, knowledge, or heart to truly serve the individual needs of those placed in their care. I also realize that some people's pre-program life had become so bad and desperate that they were/are willing to overlook the faults and shortcomings of programs and cling to any tiny morsels of help they can find.

You have to realize that there are people on this forum who've lost years of their lives in programs who had done nothing to deserve being removed from their homes.

For a different perspective read this: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=36821&p=398796#p398796

Here's a brief excerpt:
Quote
The well hidden secrets The Seed used were in reality fear, intimidation, brainwashing, rape, violence, imprisonment, confinement, ratting on peers for reward, and kidnapping. This was the daily life of anyone unfortunate to have been forced into Barker’s web of deceit.

Unfortunately, the author of this article’s mother was one of the parents that attended a Seed parent indoctrination. “My mother had done no research, or investigation into what the program was really all about. Parents that attended these meetings were given license plates to put on their cars to show their support for a program they actually knew nothing about. They were also expected to turn over their wallets. Those that couldn’t afford to pay large “donations” spent their time making hundreds of peanut butter sandwiches, and gallons of Kool Aid, which was the program’s main source of nutrition.”

“I was fourteen-years-old and oddly my mother volunteered to give me a ride to the beach so I could go surfing. This would be the first, and only time my mother ever offered me a ride to the beach. Instead of going to the beach, I was taken to an old abandoned blimp hangar that The Seed now called its home. This was to be an initial stop under the pretenses of paying a visit to my sisters, who had disappeared only a few days earlier. My mother drove into a well guarded gate and stopped as the barricades were removed. The guards waved my mothers car into the compound. These “guards” didn’t look like your typical security guard, they looked instead like low-level body building thugs. Once inside the gate, I was informed that I would not be going anywhere. That night would begin my indoctrination were I would spend twelve hours a day confined to a single chair, and then turned over to a complete stranger where I would spend the nights intentionally being deprived of sleep. Welcome to The Seed.”

“During the entire year I was forced to remain at The Seed, I wasn’t allowed to attend school, or to socialize with any of my friends. If one did so, they did it at their own peril, as this meant starting the entire program over from day one.”

“Earlier that same week my thirteen year old sister was removed from her junior high class by complete strangers, and dragged to a awaiting car where she would be rolled up in an old rug, thrown into the trunk, and ushered off to what would become a nightmare that stole a full year from her life. My older sister, who was sixteen at the time, had also been duped into the program.”

Having never used drugs or alcohol — a popular kid that loved to surf, play sports, run track, play music, and bike ride to the beach was suddenly forced to spend full days, day after day, after day listening to “druggies” tell horror stories of how drugs had turned them into sex slaves to obtain the cash they needed to get their next high. “My father who had no idea what was happening to his kids, was out of town in the northeast, and to make matters worse my parents were in the throws of a nasty divorce.”...

----------
Unlike most when I was incarcerated/imprisoned at The Seed, I refused to conform. I never participated in any of the mandatory “rap sessions,” instead I remained silent and oppositional. If they sat facing North, I sat facing South. If they stood up, I sat down. When they put their arms around each other singing stupid songs in praise of Barker, I would push their arms off of me. When they shouted “I love you, Jack.” I shook my head in disgust. When they kicked me and yelled at me, I refused to show any signs of fear. And to think I was merely fourteen years old at the time. I spent countless hours watching spiders make webs up in the rafters.

After about six months of being in that mess, The Seed staff decided to send me to a psychiatrist to find out how they could “reach” me. After being kicked, beaten, starved, deprived of sleep, and screamed at for months they couldn’t figure it out? Really? They were never going to “reach” me.

Upon entering the psychiatrist’s office I told him, “Lay down (on his sofa) and tell me your problems.” This surprised him; he asked me why I didn’t like The Seed. I said, “They force me to lie, and say I used drugs when I hadn’t. They told me if I don’t admit to using drugs, I’d never be allowed to go home or school again.” I told the “doctor, “I wanted to go to school, and I wanted to go surfing, but they wouldn’t let me.” I left the appointment with a letter from the doctor giving me “life-long” permission to surf. Wasn’t that very nice of him?

When it was someone’s birthday, they’d force us to stand, hold hands and sing happy birthday. On my fifteenth birthday, they sang, “Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more. Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more.” I stood up and defiantly proclaimed that I had had enough and I was never going to come back ever again. Ever again! They had a good laugh about that, but, I had decided that I was never going back to that place and I didn’t. That was the best birthday gift I ever received and I gave it to myself. In reality, my mother probably couldn’t afford the long drives to south Miami, and then Fort Lauderdale, and probably lost interest. I’m sure the staff was equally as tired of a kid that they knew was not going to conform. After all, what did I have to lose as I was already not allowed to attend school for an entire year.

I stayed true to my word, and like nearly ever child that left The Seed voluntarily or throught the “graduation” process, never returned. Like most kids that left The Seed, I never returned to live with his family either.

I will never stop hating that pedophile known as Art Barker, and his demonic staff of criminals who thrived on causing pain and anguish to countless children. To this day, I can still see several of those constantly crying faces, and the stream of tears that often flowed down their faces, out of sheer helplessness....

---------

If Dante’s Inferno became a reality, no doubt Barker would face the gallows one day, a firing squad, lethal injection, and the electric chair in following succession. In a more humane hell, Barker deserves to be beaten to death, again and again by the scores of children that he physically, psychologically and emotionally raped in that experiment that had gone bad. But, then again… Who am I to judge? It’s not like after 35+ years that my time spent in that grotesque experiment had any long lasting and lingering affect on me. Right?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 10:08:42 PM by cmack »

Offline Awake

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2011, 07:00:07 PM »
@ TC Saved Me. I am also glad to hear you have had success handling your addiction problems, and if your Christian faith was the answer that worked for you that is geat. For me some questions are, how does TC treat kids who don’t believe in Christianity or don’t want to subscribe to that religion? What if TC enforced following a different religion, a Muslim faith, Judaism, Hunduism, whatever? Would that have ended up being successful for you? Would you espouse those beliefs as you do Christianity? Would your support for the program now be different under those circumstances?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline TC_Saved_Me

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2011, 12:04:54 PM »
Quote from: "Awake"
@ TC Saved Me. I am also glad to hear you have had success handling your addiction problems, and if your Christian faith was the answer that worked for you that is geat. For me some questions are, how does TC treat kids who don’t believe in Christianity or don’t want to subscribe to that religion? What if TC enforced following a different religion, a Muslim faith, Judaism, Hunduism, whatever? Would that have ended up being successful for you? Would you espouse those beliefs as you do Christianity? Would your support for the program now be different under those circumstances?

That's very difficult to answer without offending some people, but I'll give it a shot.

First off, I don't know anything about how Teen Challenge treats kids.  I went into the program when I was an adult (the name of the program is pretty misleading because most Teen Challenge facilities are for adults 18 and over).

For adults, however, I actually went through the program with a person who was raised Mormon.  I know that's not exactly Judaism or Islam.  People in TC are allowed to believe whatever they choose to believe.  There are no repercussions for believing in something other than Christianity.  TC is a Christian program though (everyone who comes into the program knows that), and there are Bible classes and chapel services that each student is required to attend.  If the student does not want to follow these rules, they will be disciplined (extra work chores, extra scripture memorization, etc.)  If the student does not like that discipline, they are free to walk out of the program at any time.

Here comes the part I anticipate might not be received well, but this is what I believe... As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ is "The Way the Truth and the Life," and that "anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.  Old things have passed away, and all things have been made new."  Only through Christ, do I believe that I would have found salvation and sobriety.

I don't know what "espouse" means.  I would not personally financially support a program that was not Christian.  That's just my personal convictions though.  I believe that "faith" is the most obvious answer to curing an addiction though.  I believe that a person can put their faith in Allah or Buddah, and use that faith as a means to get sober - more because of psychological reasons than anything else though.  I do not believe that is a soul-saving kind of faith that will get them to heaven though.
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Offline none-ya

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2011, 12:32:58 PM »
Quote
TC-Saved-Me wrote;
I would not personally financially support a program that was not Christian.

I guess you won't be donating to fornits then.
Oh,and by the way,Buddha is not a god.
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Offline TC_Saved_Me

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2011, 03:35:51 PM »
Quote from: "none-ya"
Quote
TC-Saved-Me wrote;
I would not personally financially support a program that was not Christian.

I guess you won't be donating to fornits then.
Oh,and by the way,Buddha is not a god.

No, I would not financial support Fornits.  

And I never said that Buddha was a god.

Have I said something that has cause you to constantly challenge everything I post?
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Offline none-ya

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Re: I personally escaped this Cult
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2011, 05:23:04 PM »
Quote
TC-Saved-Me wrote;
I believe that a person can put their faith in Allah or Buddah, and use that faith as a means to get sober.

Buddhists do not pray to Buddha. In fact they do not pray to any god.
And yes to your latter question, just about everything you've written rubs me the wrong way. Organized religion is responsible for most of the worlds woes.Just because your blind faith got you sober, that's no excuse to ignore 5000yrs. of human history. I guess even the scientologists have cleaned up some people.(does that make them benevolent?) Trading drugs for religion is simply swaping addictions.
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