A Google translation from an
article in Swedens largest
evening newspapper 'Aftonbladet' 2011-10-14
Seeking Truth. "To me it's obvious to hear things from more than one source, I would never let anyone fool me again," said Emma Massey. Photo: Joi Grinde
Massey, 28, grew up in the Christian movement 'Two by Twos', with a
constant fear of making mistakes.
When classmates were in jeans and t-shirt Emma was forced wear full length skirts, and even on school outings.
At the end of adolescence, she and the family are excluded from the Two by Twos - it was the start of a whole new life.
The end of the world was always near. It was always afraid that the world would perish just when you thought a bad thought, when it knew that it would go to hell.
Emma Massey sits on the floor of her room in Gothenburg. All around her are photos, showing a young Emma together with friends and family. In many of the pictures she is wearing a long dress, vest, buttoned up shirt and low shoes. For Emma these images present not only her childhood, they're also a reminder of life in the Christian movement Two by Twos.
It's not just negative to look at old photos. I have both good and bad memories, like most others.
Emma had no conventional childhood. Born in Sweden, but grew up partly in Canada, she spent much of her teens, with strict prohibitions on appearance and behavior.The movement, which is estimated to have about 600,000 members worldwide, despite its size, is totally unknown to most. The association is normally not registered with government agencies and usually, and either own or rent meeting rooms. Instead, members socialize with each other in the home. It has happened that they occasionally rent a school to invite the public to worship, but the rest of the group, lives a shadowy existence. Members are not permitted to have meaningful contact with outsiders or be influenced by the outside world.
Despite the fact that we actually did not live isolated from society, the group used other tactics to isolate us. We were taught to be wary of people outside the group and not to establish ties with the outside world. It is an effective strategy because you have no one to turn to if you were to leave the sect.
In addition to isolation, there were many other restrictions. Television, movies, music, and alcohol was strictly forbidden. Revealing clothing was banned, the female members were only allowed to wear long skirts and have long hair. This ban made Emma feel very different in school, which was not easy for a young girl who preferred to be like everyone else. Neither her classmates in Sweden or in Canada knew that the family was involved in the Two by Twos, and Emma did her best to try to blend into.
When my classmates talked about different TV shows, I learned to bluff. I remembered what I had heard someone say about Beverly Hills and then I repeated the same thing for others. In reality, I had not seen a single episode.
The strict dress code also made to the practical problems in school.
On trips, I was the only one who was wearing a skirt. When my teacher asked me why, I tryed to explain away the fact that I forgot, or that it was myself who would not wear pants. One time my friend tried to give me their old clothes, because she thought that I simply could not afford to buy new.
Constantly trying to do the "right thing" as Two by Twos teachings, thereby securing his place in heaven, was a constant source of concern for Emma.
It was about as bad to think a sin to actually perform it. But if someone tells you not to think about the pink elephant with a monkey on his back, then one can help but to do just that.
Each year, Emma participated in a four-day summer camp for the movement's members, in Sweden or Canada, depending on where she was. Three worship services of two hours each was the agenda every day, and reflections on the past year would remind participants about how they failed to live up to the group's hard demands.
It's very daunting to realize that mistakes have been made again and again and again. It was terrible to think of the horrible and bad person you've been in the past year.
When Emma was born, she was the third generation of Massey's that belong to Two by Twos. Her grandparents had met preachers in her dads native Canada, and joined as adults, but for Emma and her father group membership was obvious from the start.
As a native of a closed group, one has no own frames of reference, nothing basic to compare their lives with. The birth of many children is, in this way the sect's main recruitment method.
When Emma was six years old her mother died. Emma's father then remarried and lived in Sweden with his family, where Emma has five half-siblings. The family was still members, but as Emma got older, her father began questioning some of the group's methods, as members were expelled and remaining supporters were banned all dealings with the excluded. He turned also and began critisized aspects of the preachers lives, who according to the movement's teachings will live in poverty, when in reality they owned shares and other equity without admitting this to the members. Emma lived during this time with her aunt in Canada, but she kept in constant contact with his father in Sweden. He kept her updated on what he was doing.
My aunt in Canada was very conservative, so even if we belonged to the same sect we were on different sides of the conflict. It was really tough, but I was, after all, quite behind my father and was never angry at him for what he did.
When the relationship between Emma's father and the movement deteriorated Emma, then 17 years, eventually moved back to Sweden, and a year later was expelled along with her family.
It felt almost like to die in a car accident. One moment you are there, the other you are not. Leaving a cult is leaving the only thing you know, their social contacts, their life's purpose - to get rid of everything.
The family's ties to Two by Twos were cut short and the remaining members were forbidden to contact them. For Emma the former friends' disapproval was a very hard blow.
I was very angry at first. I did not understand how people who previously cared about me could just dismiss me so totally. Now I'm grateful that it was so, although they did not do it because they wanted my best .
Today, ten years later, relations remain strained between the in Emma's family who formally belong to the movement and those who do not. In addition to Emma's family also one of her uncles left the Two by Twos, while her three aunts and one uncle are still members. Contact is permitted, but the few times the whole family come together stops the conversation on superficialities.
They are still very hard to cooperate and compromise with us. If a clean river and a contaminated river meet, is all contaminated, -- that's how they reason.
Emma is now working as a nurse and is also involved on the board of the association Humanist. Religion is a closed chapter.
At the time of exclusion searched Emma, whose family lived in Trollhattan, mostly supported by her cousin and friends as well as she herself lived in Gothenburg. For those who emerge from a cult are often in need of support, 'Help Source', an organization that offers help from people who themselves have experience of cult-like groups. On the 'Help source' can Emma use their experiences to assist others with similar backgrounds.
It may be sufficient to have one person outside the sect, a single person to turn to for help and answers to their questions. Those who grow up in a cult know that you sometimes do not how the outside world works, things like looking for an apartment or going to the Employment Service may seem completely foreign.
Even before the family was expelled from the Two by Twos, Emma began to show signs of seeking a different kind of life. She bought a TV that she covered with a cloth so it would not show, and started thinking about maybe leaving Two by Twos for a short while.She gently began to distance herself from the teachings, according to Emma which is in her nature. The family had not ruled on the other members of the initiative, she might have left the movement voluntarily to end.
- I've always been a questioning person so I hope I would have taken me out of it anyway, but it was of course delayed much longer.
Willingness to ask questions and discuss their way is even stronger today. She is careful not to accept anything as truth before it is tested properly, which can sometimes be stressful for her friends and acquaintances.
- I once had a boyfriend who claimed that there was caffeine in chocolate, which I refused to believe until I heard the same thing from a friend. My boyfriend was also a chemist, so he was hurt that I did not trust him. To me it's obvious to hear things from more than one source because I do not take anything for granted and never want to let anyone fool me again.
To be suddenly left in the lurch is also something that made its mark in Emma's attitude to his surroundings.
- I rode in a car with a friend and would go out to retrieve the mail in the mailbox. A moment I thought: "What if he runs away and leave me here?". I realized it was a bizarre idea, but I'm probably always a little prepared that people may turn their backs.
Despite everything that happened Emma knows that she has come out well from her experiences. And she sees no negative impact on her or her families environment. Quite the contrary.
It's so wonderful to see the goodness and compassion in people without religion taking the credit.When I or someone else does something good, it is entirely our own merit. Being thrown out of the sect has also made me a strong, critical thinking person.
I do not know if I would say
that my childhood was happy or not, but I know I'm happy
Written by Adrianna Jalming