I was born and raised in a faith healing cult from birth to age 15. Members of the cult, Faith Assembly (not affiliated with Faith Assembly of God), led by Hobart E. Freeman believed and practiced the following:
- No doctors, dentists or medical care (pray to God for healing)
- Belief that if no healing occurred, your faith was too weak (a sin)
- No television
- No holiday celebrations (not even Christmas or Easter)
- No involvement in school sports or clubs (“Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers”)
- Frequent exorcisms as a common cure all remedy (especially for the mentally ill)
- No voting in political elections
- Home schooling of children highly recommended, but not mandatory
- No dating from within the church, and especially not outside of it
- Minimization of contact with the outside world, including cutting off contact with ‘non-believing’ family and friends
I was “saved” or “born again” at age 3 and baptized. I was raised and brain washed by my parents and the church. I first felt the twinge of skepticism in third grade, when more than anything I wanted to play on the basketball team. But I was forbidden to play by my parents and the church.
Even though II Corinthians 6:14 said, “Be ye not unequally yoked to unbelievers,” I felt discomfort because I wanted to play on the basketball team, further discomfort for my “sin” of desiring to disobey my parents in that regard, but most importantly, a very vague logical discomfort that something did not add up rationally.
The skepticism grew as I grew physically and mentally, and probably peaked some time around age 14, when I became an all-out rebel. During this time period, although my parents did not vote in political elections, I was raised with very typical conservative Republican political values, which I wholeheartedly embraced.
Educationally, I excelled with little effort at public schools. I am very grateful that I was one of the lucky children in the cult that was allowed to attend public schools, and I received a top notch public school education. Socially, I was somewhat of an outcast, as contact any contact with kids at school that did not take place at school was strictly forbidden.