For starters, a little about me and my background.
The result of an unplanned pregnancy, I was adopted at birth into the family of an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) pastor. I was raised in a strictly conservative baptist home and an equally strict IFB school through 4th grade. After that we home schooled, moved to a new church in a new state where we stayed for the rest of my formative years. After I finished high school, I spent the summer working at an IFB summer camp in Louisiana, followed as expected but rather reluctantly, by my first semester at the “best school there is” – Bob Jones University. My time there is in itself a post for another time. For now, I’ll let you know a little about the IFB cult.
The Independent Fundamental Baptists are not traditionally considered a cult, but to those who have been on the inside, it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. The IFB is considered ultra-conservative – no music with a rock beat, contemporary christian music, or anything other than orchestrated chorale music. Women’s dress must be ‘modest’ – the knees must be covered at all times, no pants, nothing sleeveless, and everything must have a sufficiently high neck so as not to show back or cleavage. Everything worn by both men and women should be sufficiently loose so as to not show too much of their form. This forces them to either make their own clothes or buy things one or two sizes too big, creating the signature ‘frumpy’ look of the IFB. Hair on men is to be trimmed off the collar and ears, and is to be styled in such a way as to all lay in the same direction. Gelled or ‘bedhead’ styles are not allowed. Alcohol and tobacco are not tolerated and are considered sinful even in small amounts. Piercings are only allowed in the ear lobe for women (in some cases not at all), but are never allowed for men. Tattoos (like alcohol, tobacco, and piercings) are seen as ‘defiling the temple'(I Corinthians6:19) and are not allowed unless you already had the tattoo(s) before ‘finding the right path’, and even then it is expected and encouraged that you have them removed.
Young members of the opposite sex are not allowed to touch or to be alone together until marriage. ‘Dating’ and ‘engagement’ are not allowed and are considered ‘worldly’, but rather ‘courtship’ and ‘betrothal’ are acceptable in their place. Women’s place at homemaker and mother are strongly taught, and your godliness is questioned if you 1) wait too long after marriage to have children (9 months is perfect!), 2)do not have enough children(oh, at least 5!), or 3)do not have children at all, whether by choice or not (God said to multiply and you’re disobeying God!).
I’m sure that there is a lot more that I have failed to mention, but those things will come in time. As the title states, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The IFB get’s a lot stranger and more sinister the deeper you dig. Thankfully, I and a lot of others have managed to get out, but it is no easy task to leave. By definition a cult is “a group that tends to manipulate, exploit, and control its members”and the IFB definitely fits that bill. Everyone in the IFB is taught absolute obedience without question, and that they are the only church that is doing it right. To leave is to leave the ‘baptist faith’ and places your salvation in question. It is an environment controlled by a spirit of fear that makes if difficult to leave, and leaves kindness and grace at the door.