Rebekah Woods is a Canadian writer, settled on the coast with her spouse and beautiful toddler who fills the hours with challenges unequaled by the healing his life brings. Originally from Ontario, her father moved his family near a large Message Believer’s church when she was ten months old. Her siblings include five brothers and one sister. The struggle to sort memories on paper began in early 2012, but addiction held her back. Clean living away from illicit drugs started November 16, 2016, and continues this present day. She completed a memoir in February 2020. Now her goals are to publish her work, uplift others, publicly speak and build the role of Human Rights Activist. Woods is spiritual/agnostic. You can follow her blog www.rebekahcwoods.ca. Here we talk about The Message of William Marrion Branham in regards to women.
*Interview conducted on July 15, 2020.*
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s focus on the theistic aspects of justification of abuse within the cult of The Message of the late William Marrion Branham. Many will ask themselves, including myself earlier, “What is The Message? Who was William Branham?” Well, dear readers, he’s dead, while The Message theology continues. No need to give a fully outlined account here. What is the relevant theology of The Message and attitude of Branham towards women?
Rebekah Woods: Hi Scott. Thanks for having me. The Message theology states that a woman is below a man, and caused him to sin. They may speak well of their obedient wives, but as a female and a member, should you err for a moment, you could suffer severe consequences. There is little hope crossing the line of mercy. Like me, they could abuse you, shame you, and cast you out.
Jacobsen: Can you provide some examples in the theology?
Woods: Eve, the first woman, committed sin by seducing a Serpent, the fruit reference just a metaphor. She’s by nature evil and perverted. Also, Jezebel wore makeup and God fed her to the dogs. Branham envisioned souls lost in Hell, moaning, tormented, and wearing green eye shadow. That’s the punishment for modern femininity.
Jacobsen: Can you provide some examples in the speeches, homilies, or statements of Branham?
Woods: In his words, no one is designed to stoop so low and filthy. He’s encouraged his followers to call women Dog Meat to their faces. He’s been quoted saying that any woman who comes home drunk to her husband isn’t worth a good clean bullet. Branham disapproved of alcohol but I don’t recall such harsh suggestions for the men. He suggested beating his daughter with a 2 by 4 til her hide fell off though I’m afraid in this case, boys suffered equally.
Jacobsen: Branham taught a doctrine called the Serpent Seed. What was the personal experience for you?
Woods: My cult experiences began as a child and ended in my mid-teens when a Message preacher snapped scissors in my face, yelling Dog Meat! and came at me with his crutches; I heard the doctrine preached but because of my age, was only expected to obey. Upon reading John Collins’ newest book, The Preacher Behind The White Hoods, I’m able to scope its Klan origins and shocking purpose. Growing up, it disturbed me we couldn’t marry any race we chose, and that mixed children were frowned upon.
Jacobsen: How did this life experience limit worldview inside of The Message about women, girls, and yourself?
Woods: The Message limited worldview in complex ways, more so than a single doctrine. There’s too many to count. Yes, we were the Chosen Seed, we were Bride, yet born female had its disadvantages. There was a general feeling of male superiority. Women could not make life decisions without a man – either her father or her spouse. I didn’t experience the racial side of it because I am Caucasian.
Jacobsen: How did you liberate yourself?
Woods: I’ve always had a curious mind and even from a small child, knew something didn’t seem right. As a girl, my mother told me leaving meant the world would abduct me, rape me, or that I’d sell my body. Part of what she said was right, seeing that I was vulnerable, broke, and uneducated. That being said, I’d already experienced Hell inside the cult and at least the Hell outside had a taste of freedom. So I jumped. I dialed a radio show host in the middle of the night and explained that my family held me hostage with baseball bats. She directed me to Battered Women’s Services.
Jacobsen: What is life like for you now?
Woods: Life is beautiful, imperfect, and safe. I made a life-changing decision in November 2016 to get clean and keep my pregnancy. I am blessed with a loving spouse and father of my child who also grew up in the same Message Church. My toddler son has healed my deepest wounds in ways I can’t describe. Then, I completed a memoir of my secluded childhood and the dangers I faced thereafter. It was the wildest ride! PTSD can sometimes impede my everyday life; however, I believe I have a purpose. I host a small blog, strivetoinspire others on my journey and update those who are interested. They can follow me at www.rebekahcwoods.ca
Jacobsen: How many women and girls simply never get out and remain bound to the rantings and theology of a dead preacher?
Woods: To my knowledge, a fair majority. I’m very grateful to the ladies who left and have joined together. We’ve found our voices and reclaimed our power. Now I deeply wish that Message women will feed their curiosity and hear us!
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Rebekah.
Woods: Thank you very much, Scott.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
*Associates and resources listing last updated May 31, 2020.*
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
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Image Credit: Rebekah Wood.