Trigger Warning CONTENT: Religious Trauma Syndrome

Trigger warning content: religious trauma syndrome

Pastor Paul Strosnider, the cult leader of Ephraim Baptist Church for the Deaf, this open letter is for him alone. But what you’re reading here is probably TOXIC, PEJORATIVE, or REPETITIVE. (TRIGGER WARNING CONTENT).

Paul Strosnider

16 years have passed since I met you, during which time I also survived religious trauma syndrome. 

I was emotionally stirred up by you, Pastor Paul, who had already damaged my reputation as a scapegoat. It made me realize how lonely I became and how much I turned out to be an embarrassing pariah in the Deaf community; in Missouri, it was my wake-up call! In December 2006, I first met you when I was 14 years old. I didn’t have many childhood friends at Missouri School for the Deaf since I was deeply indoctrinated by your cultic teachings every Sunday before returning to the Deaf School. My mother made me go to your cult every Sunday morning.

She insisted that I listen to your boring-ass sermons with my eyes open for 4 hours straight every other Sunday, which I did!

It didn’t matter how tired I felt in the morning or how much I wanted to close my eyes for a few seconds because my mother resented me for ignoring her demands or being distracted. Missouri School for the Deaf was my place of residence for the weeknights. Sometimes I stay there with my peers and residential staff on the weekends. But sometimes, on the weekends, I stayed with my mama in Saint Louis, Missouri. We lived 20 minutes from Florrisant Valley Community College or abbreviated as known as FVCC. We were also within 28 minutes of Ephraim Baptist Church For the Deaf. It’s about 8 minutes away between this church and the community college.

A screenshot image of Google Maps between two locations.

Okay. There is one interesting fact. After completing ASL courses, Paul Strosnider graduated from the Florrisant Valley Community College in 2001. He started serving the Deaf community in the northwestern county of Saint Louis, Missouri as a missionary preacher.

White and Deaf people are frequent visitors to your church, we had several small numbers of Deaf BIPOC folks, but I’ve seen a higher percentage of white members than black and Hispanic members of the same church. I was the only one who was the youngest member because everyone in that church was older than me!

Everyone was in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and over!

Deaf seniors usually visit your church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, listening to your teaching in American Sign Language. You always use too much Signed Exact English, Pidgin Signed English, Total Communication, and Simultaneous Communication (SimCom).

That’s why you are so dull every time my mother scolded me for falling asleep.

You are NOT supposed to speak with your mouth opening in front of Deaf people. Deaf people don’t want to read your lips. They want to see your facial expressions, body language, and more advancing in American Sign Language. Keep your mouth closed, do NOT use your voice, and don’t move too much with your lips. Let your hands do the talking, and your body do the conference!

Especially in light of what happened to my mama in November 2015, Pastor Paul realized what I did was disrespectful and misogynistic.

When Paul discovered what I had done to my mother, he was devastated. Neighbors made some calls to the cops on my nigga ass at that time. Despite being handcuffed and arrested the same day in November 2015, I had to stop myself from carrying on the attack on my mother within two or three minutes. Ironically, 30 minutes later, these two white cops let me go unpunished and released me free from the Riverview County Police Station because I didn’t act violently towards them in their custody. One of the two cops took the knife as evidence in the police car. I was sitting in the front passenger as the car parked in front of the police station in Riverview County. When the cop realized he had forgotten to pick up the knife at the station as we were sitting in the car, the knife was next to him in the empty drinking areas. He was so shocked that I NEVER stabbed him.

He said, “Wow! You didn’t even try to stab me. You’re a good man!”

But that’s NOT what this is about. I was actually eyeballing the car’s window in front of me. I was so busy being angry at my mama! I was mad that she would call my cousin Jerome to beat me up. I shook my head in disagreement with the cop. It’s NOT because I’m a good person. It’s because I’m fuckin’ angry!

I wrote the paper and said, “No, I don’t feel like stabbing anyone right now. My mother drove me nuts. I can’t stand her. She kept messin’ with my head. I’m tired of it! I think only of how she trashed me, and that’s it!”

So they took care of the knife. I don’t want to do anything with it anymore. They released me from their custody. They uncuffed me. I was so devastatingly confused because I didn’t understand why they let me go unpunished. They said, “Your mom dropped the charges. You can go anywhere, but you can’t come back home.”

They didn’t even put me in the hospital for psychiatric evaluation. They didn’t want to do anything with me. 

I realized my mother decided to drop charges out of love for me. Still, my two biological uncles and three aunts told her that she shouldn’t have dropped the charges, although she made her choices. They told my mother that I should’ve been held responsible for what I did to her. 

My WordPress followers wouldn’t be reading today if the FELONY CHARGES against me hadn’t been dropped in the first place.

I would’ve ended up years longer in prison. The worst part is, if someone in prison had heard about what I did, they would’ve beaten me to death. Black men in prison refuse to share beds with misogynists, even if they are living with a mother under the same roof. According to the study findings, black male prisoners who enormously respect their mothers would see me unfavorably as an emasculating problem. I knew they wouldn’t have given a damn if I told them it was my mother’s fault. They’d think I could’ve handled my anger more maturely. In my culture, young black men are required to get their shit together NO matter how terrible their mothers are. Young black men are demanded to accept what they’re told to do without provoking a scene, even if raised by a single mother. The most effective way to deal with a terrible parent is to leave as soon as possible instead of waiting for things to calm down. Moving into a sanctuary is also a good option if you have repeatedly encountered conflicts of interest.

By the time Pastor Paul received the phone call from my mother the same day, he had already spread the bad news about me in his church without my consent!

You probably shared my confidential information in your temple! Church members are also untrustworthy since they’re known to propagate stories and spread gossip amongst the Saint Louis Deaf Community, which implies they may be willing to share information with non-members online or in GSLAD (deaf club). You should know that I wasn’t myself when my mental health deteriorated on that particular day. But, as you can see, Pastor Paul, your poisonous white supremacy has seriously affected my sanity, especially in light of the criminal incident with my mother.

Even if you didn’t know, your toxic behavior played a more significant role in my mental illness!

Your spiritual toxicity is the root cause of the enormous division and social distancing between my mother and me! What you did to my sanity also prevents us from understanding each other as a mother-son relationship, constructive support system, and family positivity. 

You did nothing to assist us in learning to love one another healthily. Your teaching methodology is inefficient!

While growing up in my childhood house, she did the strangest things that made ZERO sense to me, which sometimes drove me nuts to the point of no return in my sanity! I recalled many things in the months leading up to the incident in November 2015. I erupted in rage to attack her, for example, by shoving her, kicking her, or angrily walking past her. No matter how often my mother comes to ask for your help, our interaction with one another has worsened! I got mad that she put her confidence in you rather than me. She emotionally went off on you, telling you about her parenting difficulties as a single mother. She kept complaining about my sexuality, mental health, and other aspects of my disability.

So you started mistreating me: you don’t like what she told you about me, and you don’t want to help me anymore. You ignored me incredibly in December 2015 whenever I needed to talk to you or beg for your help! You declined to pay me a visit to my shitty apartment. You quit teaching me how to operate a car. You were the only one teaching me how to drive a car. Nobody in my family is going to teach me! As a result of that, I was left alone and without alternatives. Although I paid out of pocket to take a driving lesson, I still need financial assistance. Paying someone to tell me how to drive a car is too expensive.

I could’ve spent more time in high school, but the school principal told me that the students could only take one driving lesson per year and couldn’t repeat the same course the following year. 

It’s causing me a lot of pain because I had to rely on you to teach me how to drive a car. Yet, at the same time, I’m baffled as to why my mother kept asking me to come to you and beg you to teach me all I needed to know. Why do you feel the need to teach me everything? Why does it have to be you? Why? I wish you hadn’t taken me driving lessons because you still threatened me if I didn’t keep attending your religious cult.

After the November 2015 incident, I assumed that you would be there for me in emotional support. But you NEVER were! You weren’t as emotionally approachable as I would have preferred then. 

I WAS SO DEVASTATINGLY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU! 

From that moment on, that’s when I started to despise you and despise you even more! During one of our dramatic arguments with you on the Sorenson Video Phone, you told me I cannot EVER forget. I politely informed you that I have stopped attending your church to avoid conflict with my mother and other church members. Instead of expressing your appreciation for my decision, YOU already began by condemning me:

I promise you you’ll go to HELL if you don’t stop going to my church!

I belatedly realized how angry you were because you couldn’t stop losing members of your cult that stopped listening to your teachings. You also said I was your favorite student who constantly puts up my hand in the air, asking a million barrage of prying questions about God and the Bible verses.

It’s almost as if to say Lucifer was once God’s favorite angel, now the biggest disappointment. I take it I’m your biggest failure and your biggest disappointment.

You mentioned that you enjoy answering my questions about God and so on. To be honest, I owe you nothing, NOT even your ill-advised doctrines! You’re a motherfucking Republican born with white privilege! You are a mid-fifty Trump supporter who married a white woman in her 20s!

You’re a BIT too old for Rachel!

A copy-paste photo of two white married couple. Paul, aged 54, and Rachel, aged 24. Age-gap relationship. Is Paul a pedophile? Does he like women younger than his female peers?

Pastor Paul & his wife, Rachel Strosnider

This, I believed, was why pious white men read King James’ version while cherry-picking and twisting the doctrines to suit their needs. They feel that there is NO age limit on their marriage. They are free to do whatever they want as cis-hetero folks. 

“There’s nothing in the Bible that says I can’t marry Rachel,” you told me in your own words after I asked you about the age difference between the elderly-aged men and young adult women. 

PASTOR PAUL: “There is no rule in the bible that says older men cannot marry 20 or 18-year-old women.” 

For instance, you described the LGBT community as a pedophilia movement because of the age difference. That’s NOT accurately true. Every time you quoted Sodom and Gomorrah, you failed to mention older men were having a relationship with younger women because you’re cherry-picking, man! If they heard you saying that, they would call you a pedophile because you have trained and taught your woman NOT to defend herself in her own right or be financially independent of your control. You strongly believed that women are required to submit fully to their husbands, even if freely expressing themselves in public settings.

My grandma, Sandra Owens, married her ex-husband, LeAndre Owens, at 13 years old. That’s what I’m thinkin’ right now.

You also talked shit about me and went behind my back to Christopher Poole on the videophone while visiting his apartment with Katherine Virgil in April 2018. You told him, “He, not his mother, is the source of most of the problems. It’s his fault. It’s him.” Look at what you said on the video phone. You didn’t take my side when I needed you the most!

When I told you the truth about my hearing mother, you never believed me and never have! Your ears were always open to everything she told you, and you were always paying attention to her misguided allegations. I know everything that happened between her and me. You weren’t there at that time. You can’t be fully aware of what happened! Do you think you knew my mother better than I do? She might have fooled you, but she can’t fool me. I know that she’s NOT as perfect as Jesus Christ, but she likes to hide behind the closed doors that NOBODY has seen the side of her. I’ve seen many of her poisonous actions that most Christians should NOT be doing. It confused me as a Christian.

I tried my best to avoid judging her, but I did consider her badly.

You’re NEVER going to denounce her sex life if my mother keeps dating non-Christians because you give me a 4-hour lecture about why Christians should be dating other Christians instead of non-Christians. These men she “dated” don’t go to your church. They don’t believe in God that I prayed to. I found it strange that you didn’t address her about her sex life, but you only targeted me. What about these men she “dated” who also failed to provide the emotional support she needed? They were using her because they were bored and didn’t want to marry my mother. They came to her house and then went home. They didn’t want to voluntarily become my father while visiting my mother. They NEVER wanted to be around me, only her, and because she’s “too nice.”

This is why she NEVER tells you. All you hear from her at your church is “My son is too disobedient at home,” a “he doesn’t like this church much,” and a “having problems at school.” You see who’s the hypocrite now, don’t you? You always seem to think you know everything about me at home. Still, you NEVER held her accountable like you had me responsible. That’s NOT fair! Why do you only criticize me in particular? It seems like you HATED me more than her. I felt like you only FETISHIZE her in an unchristian way. You treat me like disability inferior because you’re definitely eugencizing me! You NEVER said anything good about me behind my back while whispering secretly to people who may have or haven’t known me.

You kept your distance at bay from me because you’re a fuckin’ coward!

You’re only concerned for your own safety because you’re TERRIFIED of angry black people who desperately need your emotional availability! You walk around with a big smile on your white privilege because you don’t like living next to gangs and thugs in your all-white suburban neighborhood! You NEVER share your gospels in Ferguson, Bellefontaine, Spanish Lake, Delmar Blvd, Grand Avenue, nor any other area of Saint Louis, Missouri! You wouldn’t come near the ghetto areas because you said you were traumatically beaten up by street thugs in 2005 before you met me. This is your white fragility talking!

You have been traveling a lot. I think you made reference to me some time ago. You said you’re well aware of the risks you took when you visited Africa, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Syria, or the Philippines. I recall you saying that you weren’t even afraid to die in front of strangers and non-Americans on your mission trips.

What if you crossed paths with a violent terrorist or barbarian at some point?

I’m NOT sure if you already have encountered an attack overseas, but I bet you kept it to yourself a lot. I NEVER traveled internationally with you when you were out of town. You may have met someone 10x more dangerous than me. I know they could surpass my ability since they’re most likely more trained than I am. I’m NO match for them, as you can see! 

Don’t you dare say you’re afraid of me when you see the real one on your missionary visits around the world, OK?

Where did you get the idea of being so afraid of black people who are the descendants of slaves? Some are NOT as black as I am on your gospel trips! But… You said you’re NOT fearful of non-American people while visiting other countries?

Why are you so fuckin’ calm in the presence of these strangers you’ve never met that are possibly worst than me? YOU DON’t WANT to BE AROUND ME AS AN AMERICAN, DO YOU?

Some non-Christians do harm to Christians as well as to Christians themselves. Please explain to me the difference between these ones and me. Was it possible that you would be willing to accept decapitation at the hands of ISIS terrorists since they assassinated Christians?! It can’t always be me that you think I want you dead! I NEVER told you that.

In the United States, you don’t want to be attacked by black descendants of former slaves due to gang activities, homeless folks, or people who use illicit drugs. 

But you kept acting like I was much more trouble for you than anyone you met on your international trips! Just because you were born in America doesn’t mean you must stay away from black people like me! I knew you were dealing with dangerous people all over the world! 

You successfully made it through after visiting overseas and are still alive! 

You made it seem like I was about to attack you at the police station, but I didn’t! When the cops came to arrest my nigga ass, I didn’t have the weapon on me at all! I had already been taken into custody! You HAD every opportunity to talk to me at the police station, but you chose NOT to check in with me! You were busily avoiding me when I was in the hands of police officers. It doesn’t make any DAMNING sense! They would’ve protected you because you’re WHITE! There’s NO way I could attack you in front of the police! They already HAD my weapon in their possession at the time. What was I supposed to do without it while you visited me in the police custody? 

Three white cops versus against the one that got handcuffed? Make. It. Sense! Think! And what’s more, I was poor and out of a job…

I can’t just walk into the store and stealthily steal the knife in the eyes of the surveillance camera. If I tried, I’d be locked up! I already have so many adversaries against me anyways! I’m NOT even sure how to create a knife out of thin air like a wizard. Do you believe I’m capable of doing that in a split second? 

Your WHITE FRAILTY manifests itself upon you! 

All you have to do is urge me to calm down in ASL because I have considered you my family since December 2006!

As of November 2015, I am starting to see who you are for the first time. I’ve never seen your worst version of yourself before, but now I do. I didn’t realize you were living a double lifestyle. My assumptions about you were mostly correct, but I ain’t even sure what you’re hiding. There’s something you don’t want me to know! Even Iraqi or Syrian terrorists want to see you dead for your Christian teachings. I sometimes wonder whether or not you would’ve been less frightened of black people if you had grown up in a ghetto neighborhood.

I HATE when White Christian Nationalists say, “If God wants me to die in front of Israel, then I’ll do it.” 

SERIOUSLY HATED THAT!  

When you returned to the United States of America after touristic trips and missionary journeys, I knew that you don’t want to deal with Black people who are also historically violent, gang members, drug dealers, or worse. You would rather avoid where they live, but you would play nice to them at your own church if they choose to pay you a visit! You only want to die in front of the most beautiful sites you’ve ever visited, whether it’s the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, or the mosques of Iraq. 

I’m sorry, I don’t understand your tourist trips. You would happily die for Jesus Christ in a Non-American country, and that’s beyond me! 

Just because you have a holier-than-thou righteous cause doesn’t automatically qualify you as one of God’s loyal martyrs. It’s only because you are the CLOUT-CHASER! That’s all you are! I regretted asking for your help and advice as a WHITE SAVIOR, but you FORCED my mother to tell me that you cannot be near me because of “mental health problems.” It was the first time you stopped visiting me. As a result of how you treated me, I’ve decided to punish you by refusing to attend your white-washing cult on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I place my mistrust in the white patriarchs while they are in lofty religious positions like yourself! You still get the benefits of systematic racism.

I also knew that you didn’t want to join the Black Lives Matter movement, so I became an anti-racist activist. I mean, if you happened to walk across BIPOC FOLKS who say what they are: Muslims, Pagans, practicing Voodoo, or anything different from what you believe, you still would NOT be making friends with them; instead, you only advertise, invite and persuade them to join your church AS A FIRST STEP. You manipulate them! Anything that has to do with the Islamic religion, paganism or other spiritual beliefs was openly practiced by Black Americans. I respect them for who they are and their choices.

Because they aren’t necessarily the official members of your cult that you helped establish the church for the Deaf people.

Don’t you realize how anti-Semitic you are? Your church has a deaf Jewish woman named Betty, but it’s her choice whether or not to follow your teachings. NONE of the Jewish people in Saint Louis, Missouri, would want to join your cult nor accept what you preach about! NOT even your poisonous beliefs! They’ve NEVER needed to believe in Jesus Christ that you pray to, and there is NO reason for them to do so. There’s nothing you can do to make them think differently.

Took a pic with Sawyer

I remembered a Jewish feminist named Sawyer Eevoc who banned me on Facebook because she was humiliated and insulted by my fascination with Illuminati conspiracy theory videos produced by racists and anti-Semitic people. She didn’t like what I was reading, so she quit being friends with me. Sawyer is the reason I started learning about anti-Semitism topics and sensitive subjects that are linked with Sawyer’s identity.

I didn’t realize I was a part of the ANTI-SEMITIC problem. Until NOW!

I belatedly unpacked facts about how much I offended Sawyer by evoking conspiracy theories about her Jewish ancestors. I wish I had NEVER met you because you’re anti-Semitic, and I regretted letting my mother make me go to your church in 2006.

None of this mess would’ve happened between Sawyer and me on Facebook if it hadn’t been for you! I’m devastatingly disappointed to no longer be friends with Sawyer because of your actions! YOU!

She’s the one who’s been putting in her effort to help me get my shit together! She was a continuous source of inspiration for me because of her accurate information I had never considered before. As someone unfamiliar with Jewish history and culture, I listened to what she had to say. White people think you know everything about Jewish history because you only read the King James Version, but you don’t! It doesn’t matter what you know!

You will never be an expert in the Jewish culture! Stop spreading misinformation about Jewish people!

Whoever taught you this is a liar, as are your religious elders in a Bible college. You, too, have been indoctrinated, spoon-fed, brainwashed, and gaslit!

Because of the blackmailing threats you made against me. It’s not something I would do to my members if I were in your shoes! 

You are a greedy and discriminating white man because you married a white woman 20 years younger than you! You should increase your awareness of your white privilege! Those white patriarchal preachers who behave as though they have the right to be self-centered and assholes don’t get my respect! You’re a narcissist, which means you’re out of your mind! Because I’m paying close attention to how you act around me. It all seems like you can put yourself above me.

From November 2015 to the present, I have learned much about white patriarchy. 

I discovered that I had been spoon-fed, brainwashed, gas-light, indoctrinated and blindsided for 16 years by your teaching. I should’ve learned the ugly truth earlier on. I didn’t figure it out till I was in my late twenties. As a result of the years I’ve been through, I decided to abandon my Christian faith because I was unhappy. I now follow my African ancestors’ religion as a practicing pagan, yet I am also an agnostic. I understand that witchcraft is NOT as demonic as you think, at least NOT in the traditional sense. White Christian Nationals are NO different than White Slavers because they only INVENTED the devil to control society and force people to attend church on Sundays. They only took pleasure in intimidating anybody if non-whites decided to discontinue being Christians; they will perish in hell or be possessed by demons.

No, I’m not going to believe it anymore!

Demons don’t have control over me. Since I began practicing witchcraft, I’ve had NO injuries from it, but rather, I found my experiments pretty interesting! I enjoyed my experiences. There has been NO damage done to me. Only paranoid individuals and those subjected to Christian indoctrination are susceptible to this occurrence. They are readily possessed as a result of this because they are WEAK as a result of this. They would have been fine on their own if they had been mentally and spiritually strong. There’s NOTHING that can come between you and your happiness if you quit being worried all of the time. Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, and Republicans are the most paranoid folks of all religious affiliations and groups! That’s why people think they see something weird.

The fact that they’re weak and superstitious isn’t entirely my responsibility. I don’t want to be exposed to your teaching ever again!

You preach over and over again about putting your trust in God. In your teachings, you never mention how to deal with negative energies inside human faith. Our ancestors, brought to the USA as slaves, were punished for worshipping our African deities in captivity. Because we chose to believe in African esoteric teachings, but at the same time, we’ve been prosecuted and penalized by racist white Christians who have mentally enslaved us for 500 years! It is for this reason that I have returned to my African origins. I learned a great deal about myself and where I come from.

Not your people, not your religion, not your consciousness, but mine!

Lastly, but certainly not least, I will NO longer pay the tithe of 10% of my income on Sunday mornings! Bye! I don’t want to see your racist ass again!

In the back of the church building