Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why People Leave

Many ex-Followers tell the media that they left the church because they were tired of seeing children dying, but I don't remember anyone leaving for that reason. Sure, many Followers are upset about it and secretly disagree with it. But they don't leave for that reason. If you read this, and you’re an exception, please feel free to respond and tell your story. I don’t claim to know what everyone is thinking or feeling.

Here is a list of the top five reasons I believe people leave:

1.      Freedom. A young women comes of age, eighteen years old, graduates from high school and finds no suitable husband. We are raised to know our place as women, and that is in the home, as somebody’s wife. Women are not to move out of their parents’ homes and live independently, they are to go from a father ruling over them to a husband. Related to this, we have been witness to hundreds of wedding ceremonies where young women – usually seventeen or eighteen years old – are asked if they will “love, honor, and obey” their husbands. That always pissed me off. To think I would have to obey one of those ignorant boys – ew!

2.      Divorce. Divorce is not accepted among the Followers. If a couple divorces, regardless of who is at fault, typically the woman leaves church, via shunning. If a man commits adultery, the Followers interpret the Bible to say that his wife can either forgive him, or divorce him and live a celibate life. If a woman commits adultery, the man can throw her out and get a new wife. If a man feels his wife is disobedient he can use physical punishment. Not every man does this, but plenty do. If a man wants to divorce his wife, he can usually just do it and wait until she leaves. Once she has left church, he is considered “free” to remarry. Women can only remarry if their spouse dies.

3.      Sin. Some people leave because they want to do things that are unacceptable as a Follower. Some identify as homosexual, which is not tolerated by the FOC. Some, mostly young men, want to date around (have premarital sex) without being tied down as a husband and father.

4.      Faith. There have been a number of families who have left to become “born-again Christians.” I know of maybe two ex-Followers who say they do not believe in God. We believe, but come to realize that the rest of the world is not necessarily damned to Hell just because they weren’t born into that Oregon City group. Followers often have to go through counseling or some other form of “de-programming” to realize that they can accept Jesus as their personal savior and be assured of salvation. We were taught from early childhood that the only way to heaven was to be baptized by a preacher who was “called” to preach by God himself with many outward signs, such as speaking in tongues, seeing visions, etc. This preacher would have to be called from inside the Followers of Christ church since the rest of the world is damned already and this man’s  “calling” would have to be confirmed by other Follower men of good standing, through dreams or visions of confirmation. While some Followers leave to attend other churches, others leave for less reputable causes (divorce/freedom) and then come to find a personal relationship with Jesus later. I think most ex-Followers consider themselves Christians.

5.      Apathy. After attending a “church” where there has been no religious teaching for more than twenty years, many people just don’t see the point of going. This one probably is tied to the desire for freedom as well. Why let this group control you? Many apathetic Followers still attend church but do as they please behind closed doors. After all, they would be giving up too much to officially leave – friends, family, and security.

So these are the motives I know of why people leave. In my next post, I write about why people stay.


  1. I left church in January 1987. I left because I was going through a horrible divorce. I no longer was accepted at church. I thought I was going to HELL. Everything I believed and knew was no longer real. I had no idea how to re-invent my life. I spent twenty years confused and lost. I moved to another state shortly after I left. However because I was still a teenager I really had no skills for the real world. My life and my kid's lives were effected because I had no idea how to live outside of the church.

  2. I look forward to reading each and every one of your post. As a person that grew up in Oregon City and was "school" friends with several from the FOC church I have always had many curiosities on "why" people do what they do or "why" they believe what they believe. I remember you from school as you are only a year younger than me. Back then I really don't recall stories of children dying, but I very much remember the story of Tracy Crone dying at if I recall correctly the ripe age of maybe 28 or so. Young none the less with a beautiful wife and two young boys whom literally had to watch their father die over many agonizing months from something that could have easily been helped. I got angry then. Why would he let himself wither away and die like that? How could he let his children see him suffer and die under their very own eyes, how does anyone justify that? Now with all the news over the past few years of children dying and now having children of my own I find it incredibly unreal how any parent regardless of a teaching or brain washing could possibly just let it happen. I find it hard to believe that ones own human pull and need to protect their children at ANY cost doesn't take over in these cases. My husband grew up in a very strict religion that his family didn't leave until he was 12, but since then many areas of the religion and the beliefs have adapted with current times. I get that nobody is "technically" in charge at the FOC, but those men that seem to rule all better get their act together and make an executive decision on "seeing the light" or "hearing the voices" and get this crap figured out. Our society has about had it with all of this nonsense of letting innocent children die. Can't wait for your next post. A couple of us joked today that you need to get a book deal...we would all buy it!


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