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Dear Mom,

By ex-Pastor Dan ~

Dear Mom,

I am writing this letter as an explanation of where I am in my life now, and what place you may or may not have in it, from this point forward. Over the past 23 years (since leaving Salem and the ministry) I have been on a quest to figure out my life and to find TRUTH. I don’t think that you could argue with the fact that the search for truth is a noble and worthwhile goal. Because of my upbringing, I had never been allowed the freedom to question the things that were forced down my throat from the time I was born. My earliest memories are those of sitting on the prayer room bench at the old Foursquare Church in Ventura. I recall watching you weep and speak in an unknown gibberish. I didn’t know why you were so sad, but it upset me greatly! Perhaps it was then, at age 3-4 years, that I first began to equate prayer rooms and churches as places of torment and sadness……who knows?

I am in process of writing a book. I am up to Chapter 10 in my life’s story entitled, ‘Screwed Up Beyond Belief’. I hope to have it published someday, then you can read all about my thoughts and feelings as I chronicle my early years. My hope is that this book will help others who have suffered similar childhood, mental abuses. There is now a recognized psychological conditioned that is suffered by thousands such as I. It is called Religious Trauma Syndrome or RTS. I have met and been in communication with the Doctor (PhD) who has made this her life’s work. Dr. Marlene Winell was raised in China, the daughter of Fundamentalist Christian missionaries. She later spent several years working in the Assembly of God organization, before De-Converting and researching this condition. She spent years trying to figure out her own brainwashing and the destructive trauma that her childhood abuse caused to her mental stability and general wellbeing. Her book, ‘Leaving the Fold’ has helped thousands of us re-discover sanity and put away the residue of guilt and fear that once controlled our lives and warped our minds. The delusion of religion in general and Christianity in particular is a hideous monster! It is destructive and morally reprehensible!
I have also counseled with a Psychologist from Seattle, Dr. Valerie Tarico. Dr. Tarico was also raised a Fundamentalist, Evangelical Christian. She has written extensively on these same issues, and has helped me tremendously in my journey back to sanity.

Here are a few thoughts that I formulated as I began putting the pieces of my mental health back together. Yes, I believe that I was partially “insane” during my decades as a believer. If you balk at the word “insane”, replace it with this; “deluded”. When you replace reality and facts with make-believe delusions and faith, you are left with willful ignorance, or as I have named it…….Insanity! Now for those quotes:

“True Religion should be the search for TRUTH, not the casting off of truth to embrace wishful thinking – which is carried along by myth!”

“Faith is a four-letter word! The concept of Faith has done more to destroy our world than any other notion invented by MAN. It was born out of ignorance and fear and survives by the same!”

“Science is the search for Truth through reasoning & experiment. Faith is the search for God through wishful thinking and self-delusion.”

“Faith is like magic – it is not real, and it only works at the hands of illusionists & con-artists!”

“Prayer is speaking words into the air, to a God who is NOT there…..Oh what despair!”
“The most vile form of child abuse is the brainwashing of fertile, little minds – teaching a child that fairy tales (Bible Stories) are TRUTH and that reality (Scientific Fact) is EVIL….is unforgivable.” XPD (Ex-Pastor Dan) Your son…..

I told you a few years ago that I no longer believed in the fairy tale of Jesus nor the Bible. I have done much research over the past several years and I now know that none of the things that were pounded into me as a child were true. I have discovered much Truth and I have put away childish things as I have emerged from my early childhood brainwashing.
I have come a long way and I am mentally healthier than I have ever been in my life! I have become a much, much better human being as I have slowly cleared away the ignorance of my past and replaced it with solid, understanding, intelligence and TRUTH.

I no longer judge people. I no longer try to control people. I don’t consider people wicked or unworthy, just because they don’t believe in some biblical, narrow version of right and wrong. I no longer live in constant fear and lingering guilt because of my sin. I no longer believe in Sin, especially “original sin”; the fallacy that we are all wicked sinners because we were BORN into a sinful world! What lunacy! What a deranged concept to engrain into innocent little human beings! I believe that this is the root of Religious abuse! Instilling fear and teaching NON-truths, just to control them and get them to fall in line with their controlling and deluded religious leaders and parents………………as I said earlier, UN-forgivable! It also sets them up for more abuse, which many times takes the form of physical and even sexual abuse.

Thankfully I never experienced any real physical or sexual abuse, but my mental abuse was COMPLETE and THOUROUGH! I was destroyed by the age of 8. The night that I walked into the baptismal at the Oak View Full Gospel Lighthouse, my chances at living a NORMAL life were over!

I believed you, mother. I believed you because I had no reason not to. Why would my mother lie to me? My mom would not deliberately harm me; mentally or physically…..right?
But, you did! Great harm was done! I’m not sure of all your reasons. I know that you suffered great pain when Dickie was killed. I know that probably had a lot to do with your going over-the-edge mentally, but to turn me against my own father?! To relegate dad to the sidelines of my life because he refused to join you in the “insanity” of the church world… turn him into the “guy that we pray for” and nothing more. To make Bro. Mac more of a father figure to me than my own flesh and blood daddy; another thing that is UN-forgivable!
These are just a few thoughts to let you know where I am coming from. Also, let it be known; NO one has influenced me in this! I have come to these conclusions totally on my own. I have read books, done research and gone to counseling…..all on my own! These are my truths that I have come to over the past 23 years - through great distress and agony. It is not easy breaking the chains of brainwashing. I have struggled greatly to de-program and make a 180 degree turn-around. I’m sure that I will carry many scars and much ignorance to my grave. At 60 years old, there is not a whole lot of time left, and my mind is not as quick and fertile as it was in the early days. It is a shame that my 130 I.Q. was wasted on so much nonsense and non-realities. All of the scriptures memorized, the books read, the degrees earned; all of the money spent……a waste of unparalleled degree!!!!!!

The worst part is what I did to my own precious wife and children! The agony that I put them through, as I arrogantly and ignorantly drove them as a “godly father”……What a sick joke! I have begged all of them to forgive me, and they say that they have, but the damage is done and they each struggle with their own scars and deep hurts. I don’t blame them; I totally understand their feelings!

All I can do now is move forward and create a new and real life for myself, my sweet wife and our family. I do that each day, as I strive to re-create myself into a REAL man. A non-judgmental, kind, caring, happy, non-controlling, accepting, and I hope, more loving person. I think that it is working, at least they all say that they can see a “new man” in me, and they like him!

So, dear mother, in the light of what I have shared with you in these few pages, I extend to you once again, the hand of forgiveness. Not in a churchy, sanctimonious way, but as your flesh and blood son who is not willing to shut the door without one final attempt to reach out to you. I truly wish to have a relationship with you mom….I do still Love You!

But, I will no longer allow you to lay guilt and fear back upon me. I have put away guilt and fear and they are not my constant companions any longer. It’s like asking someone who has been cured of cancer to receive it back into their body……NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!

As I told you a couple of years ago, we can have a relationship based solely upon our positions of “Mother” and “Son”. We have a history that no other two human beings can share. I was born of you! I want to be able to share in your few remaining years of life. I want to talk about our forefathers; our family history and heritage. I want to share funny stories about our family “characters”. I want to hear the tall tales and unique history of “US”. I want to see pictures and try out old recipes, etc. You know, NORMAL FAMILY STUFF! Without RELIGION! It seems that you have lost the ability to speak one sentence without invoking the words God, Jesus or the Lord. It’s truly worrisome!

From this point on, any conversations or correspondence that takes place between us must no longer contain the words “prayer”, “Lord”, “God”, “Jesus”, “Repentance”, “Salvation”, “Sin”, “Lord”, “Faith”, “Bible” “His Will”, etc..………………….You get the picture. These things are very hurtful to me. They are like daggers stabbing at my mind. NO, it is NOT conviction from the Holy Spirit! These words and phrases remind me of my wasted life. To me these things are truly EVIL, and hurtful, and I want NO part of them. I recognize them for what they are; attempts to lay guilt and instill fear.

I know that I can’t ever expect you to join me in my new found TRUTH and De-convert at 95 years old (although I wish for this with all of my might!), but we can still have a mother/son relationship, if you will follow the few simple rules that I have laid out in this letter. If you can’t, then I am very sad to say, any further communication between us is over.

The ball is in your court mom. I need to see a note written by your hand (as you did in the recent Christmas card), stating that you accept these ground rules. I hope that you find a way to take that step toward our reconciliation! I Love you mom, and I want to be part of your life. Will you take the step?

You will notice that I have returned the check that you sent with the Christmas card. I cannot accept any more money from you. I appreciate all of the monetary help that you have given us through the years, but it is time for me to be my own man and provide for my family in a good and honest way. Being raised in the church, watching all of my “Preacher” relatives and friends, and then spending time in my own ministry has left me with some very bad habits, not the least of which is finding it easy to take money from people. That is one of the many bad habits that I am now trying to break.

So we will start here; don’t be hurt by the return of your generous gift, be encouraged that your baby boy is finally growing up. I will NEVER return to the church or to a God that I am convinced does not exist. But, I am returning to you this one last time.

I eagerly await your reply,