Question: Since the Followers do not accept outsiders into their congregation, are they concerned about running out of potential mates for their children?
Answer: No, they are not worried. Followers are allowed to marry cousins, as long as they are at least second cousins. It's not unheard of for a girl to keep her maiden name because she has married someone with the same last name. A side note, some worldly people think the Followers are called “kissers” because they are kissing cousins, rather than the practice of the “Holy Kiss.”
Question: Are the number of childhood deaths increasing due to the shallow gene pool.
Answer: Maybe. I haven't gathered genetic samples and run tests. More likely, the number of childhood deaths are more visible due to more recent legislation and news coverage, not actual increasing numbers.
Question: If a Follower decided to become a doctor, would it be OK to go to him/her? Seems like trusting your own to aid in your own health care would be allowed?
Answer: If a Follower decided to become a doctor, he/she would not be welcome at church – the heretic!
Question: Do the midwives have any training? If so, who trains them? Do they sign the birth certificates?
Answer: Yes, they have practical training. They have to have given birth themselves. They also have to help at a set number of births before they can be an official midwife. No formal training though – and many do not have even a high school diploma. They do sign the birth certificates. In the box labeled hospital, it says “Followers.”
Question: If there are no ministers or Bible teaching, what are church services like?
Answer: Every Sunday morning and Thursday evening, the women and young children enter the sanctuary and sit according to their life situation (by age and gender for children, the newlyweds sit together, new parents sit near the back so they can take their babies out if they cry, after this life stage, people sit near relatives and friends). When it is time for church to start, all the men file in and find their wives to sit by them. The piano player sits at the front at a grand piano (the pulpit is deserted, though it is set up just like it was when there were men to teach and preach). If there is an announcement to be made – someone needs prayer, someone needs care, there is an upcoming wedding, etc – one of the five men who are appointed as the church leaders will make the announcement from the microphone near the piano. The piano player announces a song number and everyone stands to sing all the verses of the song. Next the congregation kneels at their benches and prays silently for two minutes. Everyone takes their seats, and eight more songs are announced and sung. The piano player will announce, “last song,” and everyone stands to sing the last song. The men file outside to talk amongst themselves and the women and children stay inside to socialize. That's it. Takes about twenty-five minutes start to finish.
Question: When a Follower is taken to the hospital from a car crash, do they get shunned?
Answer: No, church members come and visit them and pray for them. When I was a kid, I remember a really bad crash where an older lady broke something like twenty bones. The doctors gave a very poor prognosis, but we all prayed, and the next day, the bones had miraculously healed. The doctors said they had never seen anything like it. Incidents like that really reinforced the idea that God was on our side, and doctors/hospitals were irrelevant at best, but more likely harmful and deadly.
Question: Why won't Followers talk to the media and defend themselves for their beliefs and practices.
Answer: One of the biggest rules is to keep our business private. We are convinced that anyone who talks to outsiders about our religion is a heretic and blasphemer. Even those who leave often live the rest of their lives in fear of breaking this rule not only for their own soul, but for the social repercussions of the relatives they left behind who are still in the church.
Question: Do you regret leaving? Are you in fear of your immortal soul for going public with this information?
Answer: I do not regret leaving. I do not believe I am sinning, or wrong, by going public with my experiences and opinions. My writing is meant to be informational, helpful, and enlightening.
Question: When will your book be finished?
Answer: I have another six months of writing left before I go into the editing and rewriting stages. All final edits will be complete by this time next year.
Question: How does your family feel about your blog and memoir?
Answer: They haven't disowned me yet.