Exit and Support Network

Philadelphia Church of God Parents
Abandon Minor-Aged Daughter

When my 17 year-old niece told her parents she no longer wanted to participate in the Philadelphia Church of God, her parents abandoned her to the streets. "God's Will," her mother said.

For some time, my niece has been disillusioned by the Philadelphia Church of God. Her first awakening occurred when she asked her parents if she could stay with a non-member relative who lives on the East Coast (that would be my wife and me), for two weeks, as part of her summer vacation. A boy her age (a non-member), who was enrolled in an accelerated program at school studying to become a doctor, was staying with us. My niece particularly wanted to meet this boy because she is also interested in studying medicine. The relative--that would be me and my wife--planned on taking the boy and my niece to see NYC and the NJ shore. My niece's parents adamantly refused to let her visit with us. My niece's "God ordained head of the household father," who had been barred from practicing nursing in several States for violations (I believe he showed up at the care facility in which he was employed, intoxicated. First, he was suspended for 2 years, then he had his license revoked permanently), especially wouldn't even hear of the idea. My niece became distraught. Instead of letting their daughter enjoy her summer vacation with a like-minded teenager pursuing a career in medicine, her parents forced her to stay at home in the company of another girl from the Philadelphia Church of God. My niece says this member spent most of the time on her cell phone, bragging about having a three-way with two Mexican boys.

Another important event influencing my niece to leave the Philadelphia Church of God occurred while she was attending the Philadelphia Church of God Youth Camp in Edmonton, OK. Camp organizers forced my niece to play soccer in the heat, even though she had high fever. When she returned home, she had pus running out of her ears, and was deathly sick for two weeks afterwards. PCOG believes in relying on God for healing. Philadelphia Church of God ministers, camp organizers, and her parents refused to treat her medically.

The final event occurred when her parents tried to strong-arm her into a marriage with a PCOG member boy, whose mother had died from lack of medical attention. The boy had mailed her an engagement ring. This arose when my niece became particularly vocal about leaving the PCOG. My niece reports there was much arguing, screaming and threats of physical violence in her house.

Desperate for an escape from her miserable home-life, she became involved with a non-member boy at her High School, and smoked pot once. Her parents pulled her out of school, exaggerating her "drug use," claiming she was on crack, and needed to go through detoxification at home. Their real intention was to force their daughter to spend hours being isolated, "counseled," or rather harangued by a Philadelphia Church of God minister. He said she was evil for wanting to study medicine, and attend medical school (she wants to become a gynecologist. The minister said this type of doctor is particularly sinful because they perform Caesarian sections. My niece was born via Cesarean section. Also, my niece has severe endometriosis that her parents left untreated, jeopardizing her ability to become a mother). During this time period, her parents drove her to a Philadelphia Church of God congregation in Salem, Oregon, a three-hour drive from their home, locked her in their car parked at the end of the PCOG's parking lot, where she had to wait, a prisoner all day, while they attended the all-day service. At night, they let her out to be counseled by a minister. The minister demanded she fast, after she hadn't eaten a thing all day, locked in a car. He "suspended" her for six months.

When my niece continued to press her parents to be released from the abuse of the Philadelphia Church of God, her mother said she was "dead to her," and turned her photo face down on her bureau top. Her parents told her to leave the house, as they wanted to concentrate their love and affection on their other daughters, who wanted to remain in the PCG. My niece said her parents told her she was infecting the household with her "evil." While kicking her out of the house, they refused to drive her anywhere, and threatened anyone who helped her with legal action for harboring a minor. My niece was forced to walk a busy highway for over an hour alone, until a classmate saw her and gave her a ride.

Some days later, when my niece called her parents after she was out on the streets for a few days desperate to return home, her parents refused to answer her calls, or return her voice messages. When they saw her in public, they turned their backs on her and walked the other way. At one point, her parents let her return for a few days while they made sure they wouldn't get in any legal trouble by abandoning their minor-aged daughter to the streets. During these three days, my niece says she had to sleep on the floor, as her parents had turned her bedroom into a weight lifting room and removed her bed, giving it to the family dog. She was told to leave the house after the third day, apparently after the parent's consultation with their "lawyer," who must have told them they wouldn't get into too much legal trouble. If their lawyer is the one I know of, this individual is a member, whom the Bar Association suspended at one point for practicing law in their state without a license.

My niece wound up staying with her then boyfriend's family. When she tried to return to school to finish her junior year, she said her mother would call the school, and falsely accused her of possessing drugs. The security guards would detain her every time she stepped foot on school property. She said her parents also falsely accused her of being pregnant, spreading around rumors to intimidate her, so she would repent and return to the Philadelphia Church of God. Frustrated, she dropped out of High School, missing completing her junior year.

My niece called us, begging to stay with us. For three and a half weeks, she told us of the abuse she received at the hands of the Philadelphia Church of God and her parents. When we called her mother after our niece returned to her state, her mother wanted us to call the police out there and have her arrested, to "teach her a lesson." "God's will." Her mother didn't want to know where her daughter was staying. She said if we mentioned a word about the Philadelphia Church of God, she would hang up the phone immediately. Her daughter is now struggling to finish High School, bouncing from house to house, her future and her safety in serious trouble, thanks to the destructive influence of the Philadelphia Church of God.

By Harry
November 18, 2010

Update by the author (6-19-13):

My niece married her boyfriend at eighteen and a half. Within a few months, she reconciled with her parents and re-joined PCOG. Her boy friend-husband is now becoming more involved with PCG.

Also read: Identifying Marks of an Exploitive, Abusive Group

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