Re: R.B. Thieme Jr., Berachah Church Houston, Robert B. Thieme Jr.
Date: November 07, 2011 12:05AM
I stumbled across this forum this morning and have spent several hours reading it from the beginning. I have not gotten through most of it. I intend to, however, as time permits, read everything that's been submitted over the years.
I was compelled to comment, though, because when I saw the name of the discussion and started reading, I was hit with so many mixed emotions, it was almost overwhelming!
I was raised in a Thieme-doctrine home. I have no memory of him and his teachings NOT being in my life. I'm 34 now, and have been away from this "Bible doctrine" for several happy years. I was horrified and yet pleased, because it provided confirmation that I was not alone, to read how many other people we given the impression, even if not in direct words, that Col. Thieme had learned and was teaching the truth, and that almost no other Christian pastors had a clue. I remember as a child having serious issues with so much that I was being told, but whenever I asked a question about something, the answer was invariably the same: "Don't ask questions. You must have faith. If you question the word of God, you're sinning. If there are things you don't understand, you're not meant to understand them, because your inadequate human brain cannot possibly conceive the intricacies and motives of God."
Wow. I cannot even explain how damaging that was. I was 30 years old before I started realizing what incredible guilt I had lived under for years! I couldn't tell you how many times I "rebounded" each day, convinced that every little thought or question I had in my head that might have asked for rational answers to a Biblical problem were actually mental attitude sins, and that I was building up scar-tissue on my soul!
I have seven brothers and sisters, and we were all brought up in this thinking. Since then, two of my brothers and one of my sisters have become atheists. I do not consider myself an atheist. Agnostic would be more appropriate. I do believe in things that are bigger than me, whether you call it a higher intelligence, or simply a collective universal energy, I don't care. I don't claim to know. My siblings who have become atheists are very, very resentful of the things that were crammed down our throats the entire time we were growing up. They are angry that they wasted so many years feeling guilty for questioning things they didn't understand. They feel anger that they were led to believe that Christians were really the only people worth knowing, and that our "brand" of Christians were really the only ones in the know. They're appalled by the incredible hatred, intolerance, and violence that is the result of religion in general, Christianity obviously not being the only one, but certainly not being historically exempt!
I, too, have these feelings. I do not hold anything against my parents. They were doing what they believed to be right. My mother is a fantastic, giving, king, generous, honest woman for whom I have immense respect and love! However, I am disturbed by the long-term after-effects of the teachings that came from Col. Thieme, and now his son, Bobby. I do not doubt them to be intelligent, good, well-educated men. I do not believe them to have taught the things they've taught in order to cause harm to others. I believe they truly believe the things they're teaching. However, I also believe they have caused far more damage than they have generated good.
The thing that I do feel resentful for is the fact that even though I've been away from Berachah's teachings for years and no longer even consider myself a Christian (which by the way, has nothing to do with the Thiemes or their teachings, but rather the fact that NONE of it makes any sense at all!), I still find myself struggling, almost daily, with the little things that were instilled in my everyday thinking. We were led to believe that so many things were sinful, from just about every emotion we had, every thought, and definitely every desire or participation in anything that was remotely pleasurable, to the study of or involvement in any other religion. We were taught that the reason people had stupid or incorrect political philosophies, etc. was directly linked to their lack of true Christian doctrine education. In other words, "If their spiritual thinking is all screwed up, the rest of their thinking is going to be as well!" I was led to believe, both by example and through direct language, that women were to submit to men. That when a woman married, all final decisions and authority were to be given to the man, because God had mandated that men are the head of the household. (Hmmm, could it be the Bible was written by men? Who liked being in charge? And wanted to keep it that way? Wow, what a concept!!) I catch myself thinking I've committed some sin and having this brief terrible thought that I'm building up scar-tissue on my soul! Then I feel like an idiot for still having those thoughts. Then I have a flash of guilt for having thoughts AGAINST those thoughts! It becomes a vicious cycle.
I do not believe that the Thiemes have ever intended to hurt or cause damage. However, that does not change the fact that they have. I don't think calling it a cult is completely fair, because I know for a fact that people are welcome to come and go as they like, without fear of intimidation, anger, etc. I have never seen that. However, I never cease to be amazed and appalled at the amount of unconscious cultish behavior and thinking that takes place among the "tapers." My mother and two of my siblings still listen to Bobby religiously (sorry, I had to use that word! Ha!), and despite the fact that they are all very caring, kind, generous people who give of themselves endlessly, they still have that snobbish attitude that they are among the few lucky Christians who happen to have found the truth, and that other Christians are misled and foolish! Wow! The scary and sad thing is, none of them have any inkling of the arrogance of their attitude. They simply believe it to be true! And I'm ashamed and embarrassed to say at one time, I felt the same. I have been SO, SO much happier since I realized what a dangerous, controlling, non-sensical thing the whole thing was!
Thank you so much to all of you who have shared your experiences! This has felt like a therapy session, and I look forward to reading the rest of the posts as I can!