It is my privilege to introduce to you a budding and inspiring writer, Rachel Young. I’ve known Rachel and her family for well over 10 years. I first knew Rachel’s aunt and uncle and family, and through them, met Rachel’s mom, Rachel, and her little sister and brother. Rachel’s mom and I had an instant connection and became fast friends.
Unfortunately, all of this happened while being part of what we didn’t know then, but certainly know now, is an authoritative and abusive cult called Calvary Temple, located in Sterling, VA. Headed by Star Robert Scott, this little, but powerful cult is located right smack dab in affluent Loudoun County, part of what is known as Northern Virginia.
Rachel is about to embark on a journey, and she is starting with her story. Afterall, where else should all of us begin?
Joining our little band of ex-CTers, this warrior who has already been through so much – too much, really – is standing for her family, and the victims of Calvary Temple. Please read on:
by Rachel Young
Cynic – a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.
I suppose after all these years I have become quite cynical. Most people view that as a horrible thing, but as for myself, I believe if you look at the definition of the word and you hear my story you’ll understand why.
My name is Rachel and I had my whole life turned upside down by a cult even though I never was truly a member of it. I got caught in the riptides of the world that my family was living in and I got burned and scarred.
Where do I begin? I have so many different elements to my own story that I truly could start where ever. Let’s go back to a different time.
It was 2005 and I was becoming a young woman. I was 14 years old and summer was in full swing. I remember tryouts for field hockey at Fairfax High School, band auditions, and being very active with taking acting classes. I felt like I had the whole entire world at my finger tips and I was ready to grow into the person I always wanted to be.
My life was never picture perfect. When I was 10 years old my father had unexpectedly died after having surgery for a hiatal hernia. I was rocked to my very core when that happened. It felt like a dream and I had the faith of a child that I would see him again one day. I had my faith shattered by a family friend when she told me that I would never be able to see him again the way I remembered him. I was angry and confused; no one could console me.
My mom always tried her best to help and when she got the call from my “aunt S” one July morning, she probably figured it could be the best thing for not only myself, but for my siblings. “S” had told Mom that God put her it on her heart that my family needed to move from Fairfax City to Sterling that way we could attend Calvary Temple. Before we made the complete dive in my mom talked to me about it. I knew she needed help as a single parent with three children. She saw how amazing my cousins had turned out and she wanted to give us a chance to become like them. Plus, she told me if we did move I would finally have my own room and wouldn’t have to share one with my sister Wendy anymore. SOLD. Yes, that last sentence is what made me say okay. If only I could’ve warned my 14-year-old self what would happen next.
In late July of 2005 we began to attend services at Calvary Temple. At first it seemed like a normal church; everyone was loving, kind, helpful, and were so passionate for the word of God. It was like that for a couple weeks while we were still on visitor status, then it got weird fast. I noticed that they always loved to have us at church as much as possible. We would have service or some activity almost every single day. On Sunday’s we would have to go to service in the morning and then again in the evening. All of this was in addition to me going to school there. My life was eat, sleep, breathe CT. My family members pressured my mom into making me give up my extracurricular activities; no more field hockey, no more playing the saxophone, and above all no more acting. According to my extended family members acting was a “secular” and “immoral” field of work and I should not feed my flesh that way.
My life had become consumed within a month and a half by nothing but Calvary; I was miserable. I could only hangout with other kids that went to school with me (I honestly thought they were all jerks and overly religious) and the biggest thing for me was that I could only listen to Christian music. I remember “principal K” telling us to bring in all of our secular CDs one day so we could have a huge bonfire to burn it up to God (I lied and told her I had left them all at home and I’d remember to bring them in next time). To this day I still remember having one of my classmates come over to my house and she deleted my whole entire iTunes library because it was full of “secular” music.
Within a matter of three months of constant church services in addition to going to “school” there, I realized that “church” was not for me. The way out of there was not simple though. All the kids within the high school age range knew if you decided to leave the “church” you would lose everything. What is everything you ask? You lose your family, your home, your friends, your support, and most important love. If you didn’t live your life the way Calvary wanted you to you lost everything. If you wanted to leave Calvary, you were walking away from God and your family would shun you. It was their way or the highway. I remember the fear I had when I knew I wanted out, but I felt like my hands were tied. My mom had just done so much for my family by moving us out to Sterling, how could I tell her how much I hated it and felt like I was being suffocated?
Unfortunately, I had discovered self-mutilation at that point in my life. I began to cut my arms and thighs to release the pain. I would eat tubes of toothpaste to try to get out of going to service. I would cry myself to sleep asking God to bring my dad back to save me from what was happening.
I guess in a way God answered my prayers eventually. January 2006 is when everything started to change. I was in math class and I got called outside to talk to the youth “pastor J” who also happened to be my math “teacher”. “J” and another “teacher” took me into a utility closet and started asking me if I really wanted to be at Calvary. “J’ told me that someone had come forward and told him that I was extremely unhappy going to “school” there and I was desperate to leave (later on I found out the one who had come forward was not a class mate of mine; it had been my own “aunt S”). I told “J” yes, that I wanted to go home to Fairfax; I wanted more than anything to go to Fairfax High School. The next few moments felt like a blur. They told me I could go pack up my things from my locker and someone would drive me home. It all felt like a dream. Was I truly free? The answer was yes, and also very much no. I had freed myself, but since I was only 15 at the time and my family was still there, I was in for a roller coaster ride.
To be continued.