Saturday, June 5, 2010

Networking

Networking is the key to ATI's mission. When I was knee-deep in it, it didn't occur to me that that was what our life was about. Now that I'm out, I see it for what it is.

As a kid, I was taught to be an ambassador for Jesus/God. Every move I made, every word I spoke, every thought it my head was a testimony to Jesus Christ. I was taught to be publicly charming and self-less (JOY). The goal in this, on the surface, was to be that perfect presentation of a young lady in Christ. In reality, I was a recruiter. Parents who saw my family and the way us children behaved would have to ask themselves if their children could ever be so controlled and self-less. My parents would gladly tell them that it was a possibility...if they would just give themselves over to the Lord and familiarize themselves with this program they knew. If that family was interested, numbers were exchanged and there would be an invitation extended for them to come to our home for a barbeque. The house was spotless, the children were spotless, the grounds were spotless and we all JOYfully hosted the family. We'd take the younger children from the visiting family and keep them so occupied and focused that the adults could forget they even had children and focus on listening to dad and mom sell this lifestyle. They'd encourage them through "Christian fellowship" to seek out and pray for the guidance to make the appropriate sacrifices (maybe a paycheck so mom could stay home, maybe pants for modesty's sake, maybe family planning so there'd be more "flowers", maybe public school). If the family joined up, the next phase kicked in and that was encouraging them to think of others to pass this fantastic way of life on to. Who did they know that could be prepared to accept these "truths"? If the family had international connections, my dad was especially interested and if other members knew a new family with ic's, they'd call my dad. The international connection was important for exploring international growth. Sounds like a company, right? More and more I feel like my childhood wasn't a religion as much as it was a business. We were in the business of growing a corporation and a brand. That's sad.

33 comments:

  1. That is sad. (((Ruth)))

    May the rest of your days be a celebration of life!

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  2. Wow I completely your childhood sounded more like a business then a normal one. I have question for you, was your family able to change some of these families minds and if so do you know if they stayed or not. I am so sorry that this was how you were raised.

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  3. After reading this I realize how much a few evangelicals had over my more mainstream Methodist church. I have no idea why those evangelicals were there, whether they were Methodists who became more evangelical or if they were evangelicals who intentionally infiltrated our church, or a little of both.

    I remember learning that I always had to put on a good face in public. It was never stated outright, but it was heavily implied that I should suppress all negative feelings or at least hide them until I was alone. I was supposed to never be angry or sad, so that people would see me "get through" a hard time with ease, and then they would want to be just like me and I would tell them the secret of it. So I tolerated everything, expecting that some day someone would ask, "Wow, that person was mean to you and yet you are at peace. You are always cheerful and pleasant not matter what happens. How can I get that life for myself?" And then I would jump in and "save" them. That never actually happened because most people really don't want to pleasantly tolerate abuse. And some leaders actually scolded me (along with others) for not bringing in converts every week. I always felt the pressure to lie just to make my religion look good, and I always felt dirty for doing it.

    My mom is still in that church but they just got a female pastor and the organist is gay, so all the evangelicals are running away from that church as fast as they can.

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  4. Ruth -
    Have you ever seen the documentary "Jesus Camp"? It's about evangelical Christians and how they brainwash children with the religion to be God's warriors. It's a pretty interesting movie.

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  5. sounds like Amway...

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  6. He, He...the Amway comment is funny as growing up a hadful of our church acquaintances were in Amway and other MLM's. I purposefully used the word acquaintances because as soon as they joined the MLM's they pretty much drove all the "friends" away!!
    Sue

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  7. Ditto on the Amwzy reference. Stepford wives, husbands and children, and if you aren't for us you are against us. I never bought in but the errant husband did and it was a horrible time. He left our church for mega church because his sponsors told him it was a good idea because the church our family went to wasn't "the right kind".

    So instead of showing the plan for MLM riches, your family showed the "plan" for salvation.......

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  8. Regarding the Amway observation from a few posters above, I concur. That's exactly what I was thinking too. :)

    Ruth, another interesting post. Sounds like your parents could certainly turn the "crazy" button on or off as needed. They'd be "normal" with others when they were in the ATI/BG recruiting mode, then turn into control freaks when the Dog & Pony show was over with. This is what I've thought about the Duggars for a long time too. These families travel around the country in order to "recruit", let's not kid ourselves about it. Of course, it's all done "for Jesus" so everything's cool (NOT, but what the heck).

    Hope you're having a good week-end. :)

    (((Hugs)))

    Donna

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  9. Amway is exactly what it made me think of too - my mom's foray into legalistic Christianity went hand in hand with her years selling Amway products.

    Does ATI sell anything? Do they demand high tithes? I can see why people want to attract others, but the discipline seems like it has to have a more hardcore motive.

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  10. Ruth, to add to my post above, I just wanted to say that it's all making sense now as to why your father is so worried about maintaining his "image" and why he and his minions are so bent on discrediting you and your experience(s) growing up ATI. If he was one of the original 100 charter families, then he is probably pretty high up in the organization; he's like some sort of "Blue Diamond Director" and is in danger of losing his "downline" - all the people he's sponsored in the business over the years. Yes, from what you've described, he and your mom were definitely in the direct selling/networking business. Of course, Bill Gothard is the super salesman who started the whole thing.

    The thing that bugs me the most is how you kids had to suffer through the years in order to prop up BG's and your dad's (and others') pipe dreams and business. To be truthful, BG is not the only one doing this, but he's the one that is relevant in your life and your story. I think that seeing this for what it is - is important to the whole healing process. As a reader of your blog, this is all making sense now.

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  11. i was also taught that i needed to put on a good image so that other people would be attracted to christianity. of course it wasn't NEARLY as crazy as your family. i just remember being a teen and not being allowed to wear my goth/punk stuff because it "portrays a violent image". :P in some ways i don't think you can be an evangelical christian and have any sort of self-identity. you're supposed to give up your whole life to serve some skewed idea of morality.
    i'm sorry you, as a child, had to sell your parent's lifestyle. :( i feel very strongly that children should not be indoctrinated into a religion until they are old enough to decide for themselves that that's what they want.

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  12. I just wish the pro Duggar supporters would open their eyes to the darker side. On one blog supporters kept calling the anti-Duggars haters and bullies. I didnt know how to react. We dont hate them. We just have concerns. When you try to educate them on something they take such offense.

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  13. Rodma, I am quite sure that the pro-Duggar supporters call "anti-Duggars" haters and and bullies. I'm sure that they also call them "jellus" (oh, yes, that's how one person actually spelled it on a forum). For me, I'm not "anti-Duggar" as far as the actual people are concerned, as if I don't like them for existing or something. I simply call them on the facade they present as "reality", much like the facade your father and mother presented to their "prospects." People looking for answers to life's complicated twists and turns (which is many of us), fall for this illusion hook and sinker. What gets to me the most is the suffering the children go through in order to accomodate mom and dad's decision to buy hook, line and sinker into Bill Gothard's vision. Thinking about what it was like for you and your siblings to grow up in your household with all the mind-bending obedience games, mental, physical and spiritual abuse, and so on, would you wish this upon any other person, especially a child? I know you wouldn't; neither would any other sane, rational person. If Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are ATI proponents (which they are), then there can be no doubt that their children are also being raising with the whole "character quality" talking points, etc., and that their goal also is to "recruit", whether or not they actively "sign people up" or are just merely the bait and someone else does the sign-up, they are still involved. If that wasn't enough, both the Duggar parents are not satisfied to live and let live as they say they are. Jim Bob Duggar has very real political aspirations to legislate his own religious beliefs and Michelle Duggar is also involved in his politics (making phone calls to appeal to their base of Arkansas voters in order to support their candidate). She was also involved in the protest of a local store getting a beer license because she didn't want children to have access to beer so easily. "The reason that this is a big story now, is that it seems Michelle Duggar was successful in her tear-filled plea to the board. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied the permit to the EZ Mart gas station, meaning that they won't be able to sell beer there. It's a big surprise to the story, because nobody had told them that there was a risk they wouldn't get it, and no public official hinted that there was a chance that the license wouldn't be approved. To make it even odder, the board approved several other locations to get a license, including one that hasn't even finished being built." It IS odd that the other locations were approved, but the location that Michelle Duggar got involved with got their license denied. I'm not a beer drinker or alcohol drinker so this does not personally affect me, but the point is that they ARE interested in denying other people their rights in various areas. Jim Bob Duggar would also like to outlaw birth control for even married couples! How is it his business what other married couples do? See, I would never even think to get involved with what other couples do for birth control, etc., yet, he sees it as his moral duty to "stand up for his beliefs" while denying yours. We already know that their older daughters are denied the right to be a young girl and teen-ager, but instead are ushered directly into duties befitting a grown woman, but apparently, they are allowed to do that. So basically, they can live their life in their protected bubbble when they feel like it and then come out whenever they feel like it to burst other people's bubbles because their choices, their beliefs, etc., are so much more superior and noble. THAT is the major problem I have with the Duggars.

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  14. Sorry, Roddma, when I said "your mother and dad", I meant Ruth's mother and dad (presenting the ATI vision to the people looking into it).

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  15. Roddma, I have to apologize again because as I re-read my post it sounds like I'm referring to you (for example, growing up ATI), yet I'm again referring to Ruth. Please accept my apologies for constantly mixing you and Ruth up while writing my long post.

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  16. "A smile, a smile, to make it all worthwhile...."......or something like that. Now, twelve years after all that I can really smile and then roll my eyes. I'm so glad to be free of all that!!

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  17. A real poster family for Titus2 (though I'm not sure of the relation to ATI) is the Maxwell family. Two of the children are 30 and 27 and still live at home and work in the family business which is to travel the country and promote an ATI-like vision of the perfect Christian family. They also published numerous books, many of which Michelle Duggar used (chore packs).

    Mr. Maxwell has essays about protecting children from "worldly christians" even if it means severing familial connections with one's own family. Scary stuff.

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  18. Unfortunately, the mods at Duggars Without Pity won't allow posts to go through that discuss ATI. I'd refer them here in a heartbeat, since they're not likely to read TWOP. I guess another way to get to them is the facebook page. They really need to know the truth behind that family and Ruth's story is a wonderful illustration of what those older girls (save Jill, I think she's deep into the Kool-Aid punchbowl to be rescued) will face regarding marriage VERY SHORTLY.

    Blogs like this would hopefully allow the people who fawn over that family as a shining example of Christianity to see the truth behind the shiny, happy faces that are "keeping sweet" and ill-equipped to face the real world, the one in which the rest of us reside. I've never been a trusting person AT ALL, and have learned to to my research and it would behoove many of the Duggar synchopants to not take everything they see at face value and that Duggar Christianity is conducted through the medium of Bill Gothard, not Jesus Christ. That said, I don't hate the Duggars, but criticize how they are portrayed, leaving out details like Michelle's liquor store protest a week after Josie was born (in Tonitown, no less...the only reason she cared was that the store was about a mile from the tinker toy house) and her robocalls during the recent Arkansas primaries for extremist candidates seeking office (thank goodness they got slaughtered, including Holt). That doesn't make me a hater, just critical; I don't hate their supporters either, I feel sorry for them. (Donna, don't forget "elitist," right wing code for "educated women who are going to the hot place"). :)

    Ruth, thank you for your candor.

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  19. The Greater Good. Haha. Made me think of the movie Hot Fuzz.

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  20. Right you are Suzie...Gothard has elevated himself to "god". Isn't that breaking the first commandment? It is also the pre-dominant feature of a bona fide cult.
    Sue

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  21. Isn't Bill Gothard in his 70s by now? Since many cults are driven by the personality of their leader, is there any signs that he is slowing down or losing any charisma? If so, Ruth, what do you think that means for the future of ATI? Are his successors already being well-groomed, chomping at the bit to take his place? Is he still the most influential guy at the top?

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  22. Are there any ATI families in which Dad stays home to homeschool the children and Mom works? Or is that forbidden?

    I used to work for a woman who held 2 PhDs, one in Chemistry and one in Physics. Her husband homeschooled the children while she worked for a major chemical research company. I know they were very religious, but having learned more about ATI on this blog, I don't think they could have been ATI, they were probably just going their own way.

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  23. @pumpkin:

    I highly doubt it. I think that both Jim Bob and Joshua Duggar have used the term "babysitting" when taking care of their own children. A large part of QF is built on the idea that men and women are just plain different, so they're each suited for a particular role and they can't switch them. I think a stay-at-home father would be as weird to them as a dog wearing pants or a kid driving a car. It's just not what God designed men to do, in their viewpoint.

    And I think they would especially frown on women having careers, because of the possibility that they could be in a position of leadership over men, which apparently makes Jesus angry or something.

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  24. Okay... in response to anon wondering how old Gothard is. I have wondered that as well, and I remember hearing thatis 84. Maybe he is not that old but it's time for him to let go. As for training up someone to take his place who knows. I've heard rumors that IBLP is not doing well because re-enrollment is not happening for ATI as well as the children of families who enrolled 10-15 years are not enrolling. I honestly don't remember where I heard this from and I have not been in "the program" for years. For what it's worth let's hope BG's movement is floundering and on it's way out.

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  25. No Longer Quivering is featuring a series called "Time Heals All Wounds," which is about being on the receiving end of this kind of relentless lifestyle bait-and-switch. Reading this post alongside it gives a clear picture of what was going on. Brrrr!

    Jenny Islander

    BTW, Ruth, you might find the Preparation for Ministry course useful if you decide to do some digging into the roots of mainstream Christianity. It isn't, despite the name, about getting ordained. Rather it's a four-year class based on the premise that if people know you're Christian, they'll look at the things you do as an example of Christianity and probably ask you questions sooner or later--so be prepared. First year is Old Testament, second is New, third is Church history, and fourth is a survey of theology (ow my head). There's lots of individual study, prayer, and DEBATE, which is where it differs drastically from US conservative Christianity. The course is taught at Anglican churches all over the place. It does require considerable time, so it might not be a good idea right now.

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  26. Forgot the other drastic difference. Education for Ministry (not Preparation--my mistake!) leaves it completely up to the student what his or her ministry actually is. You are given the tools for meditation to help you figure it out, but sharing your conclusion with the class is your option.

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  27. Margaret/CappuccinoLifeJune 9, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    It does sound like Amway. And Amway always sounded to me a little like a cult, as do other MLM corporations. The bait and switch is classic cult behavior though. It is weird how similar ATI is in cultic practice with the cult our family was in, even though they'd probably hate each other and denounce each other's heresy. "Our" cult jumped at international recruiting opportunities too, not satisfied with messing up only Americans.


    On a different note: I find the terminology some use a little confusing.

    When I think "evangelical Christian" the first image in my head is *not* the Duggars, but charismatic, non-denominational, "culturally relevant" folks who shun hymns and like drums and bass guitars in their worship service. :D Some are politically to the right, others to the left, others rabid libertarians. Most would probably view ATI as a weird fringe cult, and wrinkle their noses at the legalism. Technically Gothardism might be "evangelical" (seeking converts) but Evangelicalism as a whole isn't all, or even mostly, Gothardism.

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  28. Margaret:

    Love the comments on true evangelicals...I consider myself one and I have a two piece bathing suit (shock!!); I listen to alternative, hard rock Christian music, wear capri pants and flip flops to summer worship services and am a registered Libretarian!! Hey...I'm also 47 years old:)

    Duggars and ATI are extreme fundamentalists!!

    --Sue--

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  29. Margaret/CappuccinoLifeJune 9, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    Sue-I want to clarify, I dont' think all libertarians are rabid. :p

    I dress similar to the Duggars. But I like my reggae. :)

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  30. Groovy Margaret...I am Libertarian because the other two "major" parties have gone to H-E-double hockey sticks!!

    Reggae...are you by chance a fellow Californian??

    Take Care...~Sue~

    ps...Hope the Nanny job is going well Ruth!!

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  31. Margaret/CappuccinoLifeJune 10, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    No. PA, so I alternate the reggae with a little country sometimes. :p

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  32. Wikipedia lists Bill Gothard's birthday as November 2, 1934, making him 75, turning 76 this fall.

    He's not ancient, but he's hardly a spring chicken.

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  33. How is infertility viewed in the ATI community? Do couples undergo testing or treatment, or is it viewed as maybe a punishment from God? Does there appear to be more blame (as subtle as it might me) toward the woman? Has it ever caused divorce?

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