Princeton Grad Student Bill Zeller Suicide Note Indicates Spiritual Abuse

I thought this was a rather interesting story. A Princeton Graduate student dies of complications during a suicide attempt. He wrote a 4,000 word suicide note in which he disclosed horrible abuse including spiritual abuse. I wanted to add it to my blog content. I will highlight the spiritual abuse component in bold for reader interest.

I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I’ll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it’s true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning. I considered not writing any of this because of how personal it is, but I like tying up loose ends and don’t want people to wonder why I did this. Since I’ve never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely draw the wrong conclusions.

My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. In kindergarten I couldn’t use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally, but now it’s less of a physical impediment than a daily reminder of what was done to me.

This darkness followed me as I grew up. I remember spending hours playing with legos, having my world consist of me and a box of cold, plastic blocks. Just waiting for everything to end. It’s the same thing I do now, but instead of legos it’s surfing the web or reading or listening to a baseball game. Most of my life has been spent feeling dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up.

At times growing up I would feel inconsolable rage, but I never connected this to what happened until puberty. I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time by doing things that required intense concentration, but it would always come back. Programming appealed to me for this reason. I was never particularly fond of computers or mathematically inclined, but the temporary peace it would provide was like a drug. But the darkness always returned and built up something like a tolerance, because programming has become less and less of a refuge.

The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I’m trapped in a contimated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can’t concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I’m exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.

Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I wake up sweaty and furious. I’m reminded every morning of what was done to me and the control it has over my life.

I’ve never been able to stop thinking about what happened to me and this hampered my social interactions. I would be angry and lost in thought and then be interrupted by someone saying “Hi” or making small talk, unable to understand why I seemed cold and distant. I walked around, viewing the outside world from a distant portal behind my eyes, unable to perform normal human niceties. I wondered what it would be like to take to other people without what happened constantly on my mind, and I wondered if other people had similar experiences that they were better able to mask.

Alcohol was also something that let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later, though, and it was always angry that I managed to escape and it made me pay. Many of the irresponsible things I did were the result of the darkness. Obviously I’m responsible for every decision and action, including this one, but there are reasons why things happen the way they do.

Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but it was better than facing my existence honestly. I haven’t touched alcohol or any other drug in over seven months (and no drugs or alcohol will be involved when I do this) and this has forced me to evaluate my life in an honest and clear way. There’s no future here. The darkness will always be with me.

I used to think if I solved some problem or achieved some goal, maybe he would leave. It was comforting to identify tangible issues as the source of my problems instead of something that I’ll never be able to change. I thought that if I got into to a good college, or a good grad school, or lost weight, or went to the gym nearly every day for a year, or created programs that millions of people used, or spent a summer or California or New York or published papers that I was proud of, then maybe I would feel some peace and not be constantly haunted and unhappy. But nothing I did made a dent in how depressed I was on a daily basis and nothing was in any way fulfilling. I’m not sure why I ever thought that would change anything.

I didn’t realize how deep a hold he had on me and my life until my first relationship. I stupidly assumed that no matter how the darkness affected me personally, my romantic relationships would somehow be separated and protected. Growing up I viewed my future relationships as a possible escape from this thing that haunts me every day, but I began to realize how entangled it was with every aspect of my life and how it is never going to release me. Instead of being an escape, relationships and romantic contact with other people only intensified everything about him that I couldn’t stand. I will never be able to have a relationship in which he is not the focus, affecting every aspect of my romantic interactions.

Relationships always started out fine and I’d be able to ignore him for a few weeks. But as we got closer emotionally the darkness would return and every night it’d be me, her and the darkness in a black and gruesome threesome. He would surround me and penetrate me and the more we did the more intense it became. It made me hate being touched, because as long as we were separated I could view her like an outsider viewing something good and kind and untainted. Once we touched, the darkness would envelope her too and take her over and the evil inside me would surround her. I always felt like I was infecting anyone I was with.

Relationships didn’t work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn’t help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. I convinced myself that it wasn’t the darkness at all, but rather my orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn’t feel “right”. The fact that the darkness affected sexual matters most intensely made this idea make some sense and I convinced myself of this for a number of years, starting in college after my first relationship ended. I told people I was gay (at Trinity, not at Princeton), even though I wasn’t attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. Because if being gay wasn’t the answer, then what was? People thought I was avoiding my orientation, but I was actually avoiding the truth, which is that while I’m straight, I will never be content with anyone. I know now that the darkness will never leave.

Last spring I met someone who was unlike anyone else I’d ever met. Someone who showed me just how well two people could get along and how much I could care about another human being. Someone I know I could be with and love for the rest of my life, if I weren’t so fucked up. Amazingly, she liked me. She liked the shell of the man the darkness had left behind. But it didn’t matter because I couldn’t be alone with her. It was never just the two of us, it was always the three of us: her, me and the darkness. The closer we got, the more intensely I’d feel the darkness, like some evil mirror of my emotions. All the closeness we had and I loved was complemented by agony that I couldn’t stand, from him. I realized that I would never be able to give her, or anyone, all of me or only me. She could never have me without the darkness and evil inside me. I could never have just her, without the darkness being a part of all of our interactions. I will never be able to be at peace or content or in a healthy relationship. I realized the futility of the romantic part of my life. If I had never met her, I would have realized this as soon as I met someone else who I meshed similarly well with. It’s likely that things wouldn’t have worked out with her and we would have broken up (with our relationship ending, like the majority of relationships do) even if I didn’t have this problem, since we only dated for a short time. But I will face exactly the same problems with the darkness with anyone else. Despite my hopes, love and compatability is not enough. Nothing is enough. There’s no way I can fix this or even push the darkness down far enough to make a relationship or any type of intimacy feasible.

So I watched as things fell apart between us. I had put an explicit time limit on our relationship, since I knew it couldn’t last because of the darkness and didn’t want to hold her back, and this caused a variety of problems. She was put in an unnatural situation that she never should have been a part of. It must have been very hard for her, not knowing what was actually going on with me, but this is not something I’ve ever been able to talk about with anyone. Losing her was very hard for me as well. Not because of her (I got over our relationship relatively quickly), but because of the realization that I would never have another relationship and because it signified the last true, exclusive personal connection I could ever have. This wasn’t apparent to other people, because I could never talk about the real reasons for my sadness. I was very sad in the summer and fall, but it was not because of her, it was because I will never escape the darkness with anyone. She was so loving and kind to me and gave me everything I could have asked for under the circumstances. I’ll never forget how much happiness she brought me in those briefs moments when I could ignore the darkness. I had originally planned to kill myself last winter but never got around to it. (Parts of this letter were written over a year ago, other parts days before doing this.) It was wrong of me to involve myself in her life if this were a possibility and I should have just left her alone, even though we only dated for a few months and things ended a long time ago. She’s just one more person in a long list of people I’ve hurt.

I could spend pages talking about the other relationships I’ve had that were ruined because of my problems and my confusion related to the darkness. I’ve hurt so many great people because of who I am and my inability to experience what needs to be experienced. All I can say is that I tried to be honest with people about what I thought was true.

I’ve spent my life hurting people. Today will be the last time.

I’ve told different people a lot of things, but I’ve never told anyone about what happened to me, ever, for obvious reasons. It took me a while to realize that no matter how close you are to someone or how much they claim to love you, people simply cannot keep secrets. I learned this a few years ago when I thought I was gay and told people. The more harmful the secret, the juicier the gossip and the more likely you are to be betrayed. People don’t care about their word or what they’ve promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don’t blame anyone in particular, I guess it’s just how people are. Even if I felt like this is something I could have shared, I have no interest in being part of a friendship or relationship where the other person views me as the damaged and contaminated person that I am. So even if I were able to trust someone, I probably would not have told them about what happened to me. At this point I simply don’t care who knows.

I feel an evil inside me. An evil that makes me want to end life. I need to stop this. I need to make sure I don’t kill someone, which is not something that can be easily undone. I don’t know if this is related to what happened to me or something different. I recognize the irony of killing myself to prevent myself from killing someone else, but this decision should indicate what I’m capable of.

So I’ve realized I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.

I’m just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there’s nothing I can do to escape it. I don’t know any other existence. I don’t know what life feels like where I’m apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn’t understand and can’t connect with.

I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontimated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.

There’s no point in identifying who molested me, so I’m just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.

You may wonder why I didn’t just talk to a professional about this. I’ve seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I’m positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn’t help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we’d hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it’s her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molestor (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the “friends” who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I’d be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they’re based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrepect for their word and the privacy of others.

People say suicide is selfish. I think it’s selfish to ask people to continue living painful and miserable lives, just so you possibly won’t feel sad for a week or two. Suicide may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it’s also a permanent solution to a ~23 year-old problem that grows more intense and overwhelming every day.

Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do, and maybe I’m just not a strong person, but I really did try to deal with this. I’ve tried to deal with this every day for the last 23 years and I just can’t fucking take it anymore.

I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. I wonder who I’d be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great.

I’m prepared for death. I’m prepared for the pain and I am ready to no longer exist. Thanks to the strictness of New Jersey gun laws this will probably be much more painful than it needs to be, but what can you do. My only fear at this point is messing something up and surviving.

I’d also like to address my family, if you can call them that. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them, in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way. The world will be a better place when they’re dead–one with less hatred and intolerance.

If you’re unfamiliar with the situation, my parents are fundamentalist Christians who kicked me out of their house and cut me off financially when I was 19 because I refused to attend seven hours of church a week.

They live in a black and white reality they’ve constructed for themselves. They partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love. They don’t understand that good and decent people exist all around us, “saved” or not, and that evil and cruel people occupy a large percentage of their church. They take advantage of people looking for hope by teaching them to practice the same hatred they practice.

A random example:

“I am personally convinced that if a Muslim truly believes and obeys the Koran, he will be a terrorist.” – George Zeller, August 24, 2010.

If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors go to Heaven (as long as they were “saved” at some point), that’s your choice, but it’s fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.

Their church was always more important than the members of their family and they happily sacrificed whatever necessary in order to satisfy their contrived beliefs about who they should be.

I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me. A house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around. Parents who tell an eight year old that his grandmother is going to Hell because she’s Catholic. Parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it’s tiring.

Since being kicked out, I’ve interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what’s been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it’s not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen.

I wrote the above a while ago, and I do feel like that much of the time. At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best. One reason I put this off for so long is because I know how much pain it will cause her. She has been sad since she found out I wasn’t “saved”, since she believes I’m going to Hell, which is not a sadness for which I am responsible. That was never going to change, and presumably she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul.Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her. Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn’t deserve to live. All I know is that I can’t deal with this pain any longer and I’m am truly sorry I couldn’t wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I’ve wished that I’d be hit by a bus or die while saving a baby from drowning so my death might be more acceptable, but I was never so lucky.

To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far.

I’m sorry for the pain this causes. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can’t understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me.

Bill Zeller

Please save this letter and repost it if gets deleted. I don’t want people to wonder why I did this. I disseminated it more widely than I might have otherwise because I’m worried that my family might try to restrict access to it. I don’t mind if this letter is made public. In fact, I’d prefer it be made public to people being unable to read it and drawing their own conclusions.

Feel free to republish this letter, but only if it is reproduced in its entirety.


  1. This letter and story is very heart breaking. I also had a awful experience with a IFB church in my small town in GA several years ago. My sister died of suicide at age 22 after a break up with a boyfriend, parents divorce , dads major stroke, losing a job etc.. just to say things had not been good in out family for a few years. Long story , but she shot herself next to my grandparents graves. Its a nightmare, I still can’t believe and to make it worse. My mom calls in this nutty IFB preacher of a friend she knows. The night my sis is passed. We are all crying and very upset . The IFB preacher says “When people die this way they don’t get forgiven”. He seems to have no compassion for us, even in our despair and tears. He asked what music my sis likes and if she believed in God, I think its odd to ask this but ramble a bit in tears while showing her pictures. My sis was a believer and read the bible and prayed often, joined a baptist church as a child, but yes she did like some rock bands and country too. He was very strange acting when we wanted to play a slow rock song for the funeral, it was one of sisters favorites and I knew she wanted that song. I just 16 tell my mom get someone else for the funeral, my mom says its too late I already told the preacher to do it. I was so upset in shock etc.. I could barely stand or think when the funeral came. I had to do my sisters make up at the funeral home. The IFB preacher comes in there with a stone throwing evil looking fake smirky smile face. Does a awful eulogy in front of all the family and friends saying “Some young people lead their life with the Devil and it may be too late for my sis but others still have a chance”. I was so upset and I could not believe what I was hearing. My boyfriend also heard it. Basicly this IFB weirdo preacher never met or knew my sis but sent her off to HELL! He sorry soulless Bastard, had no compassion at all. My poor sick stroke victim dad could hardly walk he just hobbled , he was crying so hard over the coffin his friends held him up. Its all been a huge nightmare for me living with this, I have wanted to die my heart is so broken. On top of losing my sweet gentle hearted , kind animal loving, Bible believer, beautiful sis. I would suffer at the hands of the IFB , back words beliefs. Although this has been many years. I have never been involved with any churches much. I see too much hate and stone throwing. I do still hope there is a God. That’s the best I can do. I wanted to call the preacher and send him to HELL , but he moved away many years ago after his 10 member box church closed down. My feeling is that none of us our perfect , no matter how much we love God and attend church. No one but God himself has the right to send anyone to hell . Jesus himself says “Those without sin , can cast the first stone”. I do not know if all IFB have these back words ideas , but I would stay as far away from them as possible.

  2. This letter breaks my heart. I also have thought of suicide. Religious abuse is so damaging.

    1. Bruce L. Scheffler

      I hope you have someone you trust and that you can share your heart and pain too. I know what kind of pain one feels when suicide becomes something more than just a thought. I suffered for years and finally gave up and tried to kill myself. Most people do not know how bad the pain can get, how indescribable it is, and how it just gets worse. Reading the letter at the beginning of this page is a clear example of how bad that pain can get. So please don’t give up. You can write me or any of the moderators (I am not speaking on their behalf, they just have it together so I may be out of line, but I think not.) of this site. They will be glad to help if only to listen. I have had more grace shown on this site then in any of the churches I have attended in the past.
      I will keep you in my prayers. I will say one more thing, Jesus knows more about pain than all of us put together. Know that He is there with you.

  3. I received an invitation to attend a local IBC. My first impression was very good. As i continued to listen to the teaching, a few red flags went up. Then i did some research and came upon this blog. Thank God! I recently left a non denominational house church that had an abusive leader, and to think I was headed for more of the same…

    I think the Christian church in America is dead. Its not that there are no real Christians in America, there are, but over all the church here is influenced by the American culture, rather than being a godly influence to the culture.

  4. Wow is was hard to read this letter without tears.. I too was brought up IFB and I felt his pain.. I have about 55 years of crap buried in my head and its taken me this long to understand I serve a totally loving God compared to the God IFB preacher preached about!. I too a Christian thought there is no way God will love me.. I have been divorced, and that right there is huge!!! The pastor himself told me you will never be able to hold your head up in a church because of a divorce and guess what I believed it, becuase it was drilled in me. After going to a SBC i started learning of God’s love for me and how He only see’s me thru the blood of Jesus.. So I am pretty special, but its not to say the devil attacks me to tell me I am not.. I have forgiven this pastor who ended up having major issues himself which came out many years later, plus a divorce himself. So this IFB preaching messed me up.. I could never compare to that perfect life.. Its a spiritual abuse if its taken to the extreme! Thats what makes it so hard.. even today I try my best not to make everything black and white…not to put a label on everyone.. Thank you for this site.. I totally wish I could do somethings over in my life.. I would certainly have a closer relationship with Christ… I do now!

    1. Debbie – Oh yes Divorce, the IFB’s unpardonable sin, you can still come to church, (and tithe) you just have to sit on the back row………smiles!! Yep I’m divorced myself, not proud of it btw, but just to let you know I can relate. I remember tearing through the Scriptures to see just how badly God hated me because of what the MOG had to say about my wickedness, but a funny thing happened, I journeyed over to Jeremiah 3:8 and found that not only could God forgive me for my divorce, He could really relate. Why? Because He went through a divorce Himself!!! “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.”

      Make no mistake God does not like divorce, He also doesn’t like hypocrisy, malice, greed, envy, gluttony, hatred, bigamy……shall I go on? But the good news, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all of these sins………..I thank God that I don’t carry the burdens of my sins any more, God took them and put them as far as the east is from the west, when God looks at me, He sees the blood of Jesus….How dare any man make us carry the weight of our own sins, when, as a Christian we have an advocate with the Father!

  5. @Paul
    The Church is a body of baptized believers in Christ, the Church is Spiritual and Visible in the World, All people attend the Visible and are very religious, but very few find the Spiritual, where the True Church Worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth.The Church building with Mortar and Stones is a meeting place, but the importance is our geniune worship and I truly believe everybody can worship God from their personal point of view, but the God of the Bible is to be worshiped by True Worshipers, in SPIRIT and in TRUTH John 4:24.
    Whenever evil is exposed for whatever reason people become offended and very offensive for what? guilt! well they try to hide or cover up their evil by pointing the finger at everyone else instead of confession they get mad because they are still in their old nature.

  6. @Paul
    Paul you sound angry. Two types of people destroys the true meaning of Church they are Legalist and Modernist your view falls somewhere in the middle, ask God to come into your life.

  7. Hi J.C.,
    It sounds like you are caught in a rut. Being faithful to a church is no substitute for fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Christ and His word have to have the central place in our lives if we are going to experience real peace and joy.
    I really do sympathize for you and the difficult situation you are in, and I am sure you are doing your best to raise your children. One of the things that bothers me about many IFB churches is that they insist on forcing people into their traditional mold. I think that it is most unnatural and unscriptural to expect everyone to look and act alike, especially in a rigid and traditional environment. If your children don’t have the freedom to be themselves and express their opinions like they should be able to do in a healthy church, they are more likely to resist attending or just tune out when they are there. I really hope there are people in the church that your children enjoy being around. I mean people that they respect and who’s opinions they would value. Kids need to be around good slightly older role models that they can pattern their lives after. This is the real business of the church. Teenagers need role-models. If your church doesn’t have this, I hope you can find a place where they can build some quality relationships.
    I will encourage you to make time to focus on your relationship with Christ by spending quality time in His Word and I will pray that He will bless you and strengthen you as you do. Remember, there are no substitutes to building your own personal relationship with Christ. You’ll see!
    If there is anything else you would like to discuss just post and let me know.

  8. @bob
    My problem comes from the fact that I am a single mom of four and feel like I don’t read my bible enough to have the right to make the decision to leave my church. I started going to my church when I was in a homeless shelter and in the process of leaving a 15 year marriage to an abusive & unfaithful (many girlfriends, drugs, etc.) man. Since then, I have become an RN and have a home for my children, two jobs, etc. However, my two teenagers do not go to church with me. I still love them. I am “supposed” to be giving up on them and focusing on keeping my two youngest in the church…and am just so conflicted. I am tired and want to just love my family just the way it is. I feel like it is time for us to have some LOVE….and ACCEPTANCE for who we are. There is still so much anger in my home that needs to be worked out. My 13 yr old son who still comes to church acts perfect when he is there, and is a high honors student at school, but has the biggest anger problem at home. Right now, I barely read my bible…and feel like I am too much in sin to even make a decision. So, I keep going…keep trying to “get right”…keep watching myself sin…keep thinking of that verse “fornicators, etc. shall not inherit the kingdom of God”…

  9. I am overwhelmed. I had no experience with child molestation or anyone who had been molested til I was in my twenties. I guess maybe I was pretty sheltered. After meeting several woman who had experienced molestation, I was stunned at how often it occurs and began to realize that often you can identify them before they share their full past with you. It leaves lasting damage and truly does affect them the rest of their lives. However, this man’s letter clarifies the damage in a way I was ignorant of. I didnt realize how pervasive it is in the abused person’s head. How it haunts every relationship. How it destroys every joy. I guess I’ve been pretty naive. IBF or not, his accounting of the shadow of abuse is so disturbing. I am so sorry this letter ever had to be written but, am so glad he did.

  10. @Katie
    Hi Katie – I have enjoyed reading your comments, and I appreciate that you use scripture, and it is the matter of the scripture that I wish to discuss.

    The passage you quoted in Malachi was written to Jews that were under the law/old covenant, we are now under grace/new covenant. Now if we (baptists pastors consistently teach this) try to apply this passage to christians under grace there are a few problems. Have a look at the passage again, do you see any money mentioned at all? So please tell me how does your pastor see money here? Where were these Jews supposed to bring these tithes? To the storehouse. Where is that, well preacher Dave said that the church is now the storehouse, ok, please tell me where that verse is located, let’s keep this entire teaching biblical.

    Tithing is biblical, it’s just not christian. Tithing was for the Jews under the law, tithes were never money, this is what so irritates me with the false teaching of the Baptists, the tithes were agricultural products from the land, never money, if I am wrong please list verses. Never were gentile (non-Jews) ever asked to tithe, NEVER!

    Are we to support our NT churches, absolutely, giving is all over the NT, but tithing was for Jews under the law.

    2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    The above is NT giving, about as far away from legalistic tithing as one could get!!

  11. Chims,
    It is good to hear that you avoided a bad situation. I was in a very authoritarian type of IFB church for a short time.
    Christians who know the Scriptures have a priceless protection against ungodly men who pervert God’s truth and church. Those who fail to study God’s word put themselves in real danger. But it is young believers and new converts that I am concerned about the most.

  12. I agree Bob, and have been under spiritual abuse from this type of pastor before. Needless to say we did not stick around. We were broken but that lead to resolve to bring change within the faith rather than from without.

    I agree that spiritual abuse exists in some (perhaps many – God forbid) and pray that as time moves on and younger eyes continue to be open and resistant to this unique form of spiritual warfare that we will consciously move away from these stuck-in-the-past and nearly unbiblical ideas.

  13. @Katie

    Typing error??? I doubt it. Isn’t there anything in your IFB dogma about lying???

    I wasn’t asking you to denounce your belief in tithing. I was just using that as an example of something you could use to try out my suggestion. Glad I didn’t hold my breath.

    Just PRETEND that you disagree with your church’s stance on tithing (or something else if you don’t want to use tithing like door to door witnessing, going to movies, dancing, Christian contemporary music, etc.) and you refuse to follow that belief to see the reaction you get. Kind of like an experiment to see if I’m right. If I’m wrong then you have nothing to lose since your church will still accept you. If I’m right then you will see what I’m talking about.

    I’ll refer you to the critique of the classic IFB tithing scriptures that you quoted that’s already on this site. I’m not wasting my time arguing them since you probably won’t be interested in anything that an non-IFBer says about them anyway.

    So, no, I don’t have anything against God, just the IFB – thanks for judging me though and living up to the standards set by the IFB on judging people. Well done!!!

  14. Not suprising that you would call me out on a typing error. And I believe in tithing because
    In the Bible it says “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” that is in Malachi 3:8 and in Malachi 3:10 the Bible says “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to recieve it.” that is in the KJV ( King James Version) so why would I dispute something I believe in? I wouldn’t because that would be stupid. And my pastor says if u dont pay tithes it’s not between you and him or the church it’s between you and God. So maybe it’s not the fact you have something against independent baptist biblical teachings but the fact that you have something against God. Idk though I’m just a kid. Maybe I’ll know when i’m an adult.

  15. Chims,
    I agree with your sentiments. I know that there are some good IFB churches and you can’t lump them all together.
    One of the problems I noticed with IFB churches in general is their one elder form of church government. There is usually a body of deacons as well that have the ability to over rule on matters. The problem comes in when the only elder ( the pastor) takes control using his personal influence or ” I am your authority attitude” to get his way and wield his influence over the people. So long as good godly men are in the pastor or sole elder position, things go pretty well. But if you get a man who is selfishly ambitious and does not have the humble attitude and character of Christ, look out!
    I certainly wish you and your church the best as you serve Christ.

  16. I am IFB and hate to hear us called a cult. That said, the IFB’s I know are not all so cut-and-dried slit your throat for being a human types either. I wish we were not getting so much bad press lately but it is the individuals of any walk and faith who abuse others in any sense of the word who get all the attention. It is not the mother living quietly at home, loving her child and her God, and not angered by the lives of others.

    I feel for the soul who wrote this. I grieve for him, and for his family. I wish spiritual abuse did not exist in any religion at all, much less one that should know more about the mercy of God towards sinners (which we all are) than it appears to from the outside looking in. I will happily live my life to the opposite of the IFB reputation and hope and pray that many, many more of my generation will do the same.

  17. Katie,

    you may have or may not have been “brainwashed” in your IFB Church. I’m pretty sure about one thing though and that is there is some bloodwashing going on at your IFB church.

    “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5). From the NKJV.

    what can wash away our sins? nothing but the blood of Jesus.

    with his stripes we are healed,

    A Child of God

  18. Katie,

    First, I didn’t twist your words. You misunderstood. To question means to challenge. I’m not talking about simply asking questions. I’m talking about challenging or disputing the teachings – as in “I question (challenge, dispute) the IFB doctrine or mandate to tithe” (for example).

    I dare you to go into your SS class this Sunday and dispute the churches stance on tithing. That means that you tell your SS teacher that you disagree with tithing and that you refuse to pay tithes to the church anymore. If you would be so bold I would love to hear how that goes. I’m not holding my breath though.

    Second, YOUR words… “You can ask why the people in the church believe the way they due…”. Perhaps you should start with a dictionary to figure out what “to question” means and the difference between do and due before you try and start philosophical debates.

  19. Typical that you would twist my words around. You can ask ANY kind of question wether that question be why they teach what they teach. You can ask why the people in the church believe the way they due and trust me if you want to visit another church then that is your personal choice, and one of my friends would go to one church on Wednesday’s and then my church on Sunday’s and no one treated her any different. No one would treat you any different either because it was YOUR choice and I’m not pretending I’m just saying the truth. And just because I’m not an ” adult” doesn’t mean I don’t understand things and that I don’t understand reality. And honestly I’m not trying to change your opinion of independent baptist churches I’m just giving you my opinion and view of things. Thank you.

  20. @Katie

    Uh, Katie, I don’t recall anyone blaming the IFB for Bill’s suicide.

    Also (regarding your first comment) no one is saying that you can’t ask questions in the IFB. Of course anyone can ask questions, as long as they are the right kind of questions. The problem comes when someone questions the teachings of the IFB. There is a difference.

    If I come to your church I will be welcome, of that I have no doubt. But that welcome will only last so long as I don’t question their teachings or become a member and then later decide I want to visit another church. The “welcome” that one feels in the IFB is conditional. It’s not the kind of welcome that you are trying to pretend it is.

    Sorry, but that’s reality. I guess when you get to be an adult you might understand.

    1. I know this might be mute point, seeing the conversation happened 5 years ago as I write this. The IBF church I attended in Beltsville, MD you were always welcome, you could always ask any question, and question the belief system… The pastor incouraged it, every sermon. He and his family are genuine people. Loving, Godly and not perfect.

  21. Oh and I too feel close to God when I am in nature. My mom often says how can someone not believe in God when they see all the beauty and complexity of nature. And about the poor man that committed suicide you can blame that on Independent Baptist’s. Yes he was raped but there are people who are abused physically( raped etc) and abused mentally yet they do not committ suicide they deal with it and get help. But this is a really sad story:(.

  22. I have been in my Independent Fundamental Baptist church and never once has our pastor discouraged us from reading the bible ourselves and seeing what we ourselves think of it. In my Sunday school class and regular church we actually have people that come out with questions about the scripture and in my Sunday school class we bring our own questions about the Bible and either the teacher or us ( the students audience whatever u want to call us) answer it or we look it up. Like I’m seriously not going to feed you bull saying everyone in the church are nice because there is not one place were everyone is nice and perfect but there is real lOve in my church even if everyone doesn’t get along all the time. And our beliefs as an Independent Baptist church is that once saved always saved, to be saved u must believe that Jesus died for you and rose again and is your savior and we believe in the King James Bible only. Honestly I don’t see how that’s a cult or cult like and please don’t ramble on about how I have been ” brainwashed” and have had teachings shoved down my throat. And please don’t think all of independent Baptist churches are all alike. Come to my church and I promise you that you will be welcomed and not by a fake facade. ( just talk to mama rose everyone loves her, she will talk your head off) anyway no I’m not an adult just one or two years shy of being an official adult. But thank you for listening

    1. I agree with you. The time I was in IFB church it was never a ‘cult’ and we are strongly incouraged to read the Bible. And pray. Ask questions. Be loving, and obey the commandments. Not all IFB are cults… Furthermore the letter, said fundimentist Christians….I never saw the word Baptist… So why is it on here?

      1. @Laura – You wrote: “Furthermore the letter, said fundimentist [sic] Christians….I never saw the word Baptist… So why is it on here?

        To answer your question… because this website speaks out against the Independent FUNDAMENTAL Baptist denomination. I’m surprised you missed that. The IFB are fundamentalist Christians.

  23. Pastor Scharkley states:
    “Lurking among the Churches are some dark entity, which hides itself among the body of Christ called “false-prophets” teaching what they shouldn’t or twisting scriptures to their own advantages.”

    Dear Sir, Please be careful lest you find this to be a description of yourself. When you make the below statement, you reveal your own error.

    “Church is a meeting place for chritians, everybody in the church are not saved and are not Biblically equipped, so a person should rely on Bible truth to change us, …”

    Is God’s church really just a meeting place for Christians. Isn’t this reducing it to being that place on the corner made with brick and mortor? And who is it that makes up God’s church? Wouldn’t you agree that one must be equipped in order to help equip others?

    And what does this mean?
    “The rope of the Gospels and its teachings are tight, but they are right”.


  24. I am deeply moved that this individual had taken his on life due to those things happening to him. this is one of the reasons why Christians should get in a Church where there is more teaching from the Holy Book and than on the manipulative teachings on pocket books (money). Lurking among the Churches are some dark entity, which hides itself among the body of Christ called “false-prophets” teaching what they shouldn’t or twisting scriptures to their own advantages. But I can assure you this; God’s purpose for us is to live as Christ commands, this does not mean for us to do whatever; when ever, where ever. “The rope of the Gospels and its teachings are tight, but they are right”. It takes a very special person to accept the ways of the Lord; and that being sinners saved by grace through faith, What ever happens to a persons and their choice is still up to them, if a person choose to obey Christ and live, or disobey and die, physically, spiritually or both it is totally up to them., remember Judas Iscariot? we really can’t blame others for our choices, they belong to us, some of us must find strength within and say to ourselves, “our choice is a personal thing between me and my God”, what others say and do is not my God, so it is my declaration, “for Christ I live and “for Christ I will wait till my change come” to take my life? no! because, we are to follow the teachings of Christ not the example of Judas Iscariot”. Church is a meeting place for chritians,everybody in the church are not saved and are not Biblically equipped, so a person should rely on Bible truth to change us, people in church don’t change us, the Gospel do. and to say I suicide for a denomination or belief is lame. because in the world there is over thousands of churches, and practices, but to kill myself for a claim that I consider to be deceptive would be somewhat backwards don’t you think so? wow! it must be a belief that is so true since people are willing to kill themself over it…
    I know the Gospel is true, but we don’t have to suicide over it… sad for such a soul that could’ve been great for God, only if he knew what people say versus the Bible truth really doesn’t matter…..

  25. I am deeply moved that this individual had taken his life due to those things happening to him. this is one of the reasons Christians should get in a Church where there is more teaching from the Holy Book and now on the manipulative teachings on pocket books (money). Lurking among the Churches are some dark entity, which hides itself among the body of Christ called “false-prophets” teaching what they shouldn’t or twisting scriptures to their own advantages. But I can assure you this God’s purpose for us is to live as Christ commands, this does not mean for us to do whatever; when ever, where ever. “The rope of the Gospels and its teachings are tight, but they are right”. It takes a very special person to accept the ways of the Lord; that being a sinner saved by grace through faith, What happens to a persons choice is still up to them, if a person choose to obey Christ and live or disobey and die, spiritually, remember Judas Iscariot? we really can’t blame people for our choices, they belong to us, some of us must find strength within and say to ourselves, “it’s a personal thing between me and God”, what others say and do is not my God, so it is my declaration, “Christ I live and “For Christ I will wait tilmy change come” to take my life? I follow Christ not Judas Iscariot”. Church don’t make me, the Gospel do. and to say I suicide for a denomination or belief is lame. because in the world there are more than thousands of practices, but to kill myself for I claim to be deceptive is backwards wouldn’t you think it would be logical to leave it, than to die for it?belief, wow! it must be a belief, true since people are willing to kill themself over it…

    1. Bruce L. Scheffler

      Pastor Scharkley,
      Really? And I quote you, “It takes a very special person to accept the ways of the Lord; that being a sinner saved by grace through faith”. You have in that statement told everyone that Jesus did not die for everyone but just the “special ones”. No wonder so many people leave the Christian faith. What scares me the most is that you are doing exactly what that young man who took his life said churches were doing to him via his parents.
      Never, ever forget grace…without which you will go to hell just as fast as the one who never realized who Jesus was and is to all of us.
      If this stings so be it. I am so sick and tired of all the self-righteous people telling me and so many others that we will never know the truth unless we believe the way you do. My personal walk with Jesus is at times difficult as I try to hear His voice and obey Him, but beyond a doubt I am so grateful that He “willingly went on the cross so I ‘and I am not a special person’ could be reunited with His father forever…” My question is do you know how many people you have sent to hell because of your self-righteousness? Do you even care?

  26. Ms. Anders, please do not equate Christianity with the IFB cult.

  27. I nearly wept when I read this letter. To think that such a tortured soul was left scarred in life and death through the terrible things done to him. I have no other words.

    The pain and suffering that so many Ex-christians must endure when they “leave the fold” is inexplicable. I have felt it myself, though not to this extent.

    Thank you for sharing this letter.

  28. This is a sad story. I do believe that people who are saved and committ suicide go to heaven. Other people might disagree with me on this. I hope this guy was saved. speaking of his mom he said “she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul”. This is a true statement. If this guy was not saved he’s having a much worse time right now. Again, sad story. These IFB stories are starting to get worse every time.

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