Conversation on Uncomfortable Histories of Ideologies with Rebekah Woods
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. You can follow her blog www.rebekahcwoods.ca. She is spiritual/agnostic. Here we talk about Humanism and The Message of William Marrion Branham, and gender role expectations in The Message.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Young nonbelievers come in a variety of types. One of those is Humanism. Humanism, itself, has a mixed history and content. It has positives and negatives, as an incomplete philosophy. Some famous historical intellectual founders of modern humanist thought were grounded in eugenics. Julian Sorrell Huxley (1887–1975) used terms like “evolutionary” and “scientific” to justify eugenic thought advancement and social planning, as laid out in “Julian Huxley and the Continuity of Eugenics in Twentieth-century Britain.” With a break from religious terminology, even Humanist Manifesto I (1933) spoke about “Religious humanists,” “religious humanism,” the Amsterdam Declaration 1952 spoke about “ethical humanism” even, “Ethical humanism is thus a faith…” So, Humanism became a singular term for a unifying sentiment, while growing out of religious sensibilities and terminology and proposition as a new ethical philosophy. Around the same period, one speaks of ethical and another talks about religious, while leading thinkers wrote about eugenics as a good and provided ideas about social planning around eugenics. This is the history of Humanism. I know some work to ignore this history. Fair enough, it’s uncomfortable. One grounded in ethics linked deeply to “faith” and ‘religion’ in arrogation of the goods of traditional religions, while adhering to eugenic thought, eugenic social planning, and eugenic ideational promotion. Other humanists who showed interest in eugenics were George Bernard Shaw, Marie Stopes, Herbert Spencer, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Francis Crick, J.B.S. Haldane, and probably others. All ideological commitments come with histories. With Humanism, though idolized by some, it comes with its own blemishes and avoided, undiscussed unsavoury histories. Some evolve while others remain, become stagnant. The Message of William Marrion Branham, as an aberrant branch of the religion of the poor of Jesus Christ, Christianity, is one such decades-long abusive supernatural philosophy or theology. Young humanists may not know about it. What is this theology, The Message?
Rebekah Woods: Branham’s teachings emphasized the Bride of Christ as noted in the Bible. She was a whole body of people and he was their messenger: Elijah, the prophet, predicted in Malachi, the 4th chapter. They were persecuted, but superior and divinely protected, as they would not endure the bombs falling, the devastating earthquakes soon to happen, etc. His theology was very much Christian-based. However, since he was now elevated to the level of modern-day prophet, he was vindicated by God and could interpret secrets of the Bible not yet revealed. All of his theologies were founded on that. They appealed to power-hungry men, Caucasians, and women looking for a false sense of security. I’m shocked that people of color choose him. That just shows the extent of his brainwashing and eerily reminds me of Jim Jones.
Jacobsen: How were you impacted by this theology as a younger person in the teens and twenties?
Woods: I transitioned into society a total disaster. I had no education, no proper etiquette, no social skills, no knowledge of slang, celebrities, or world events. Jobs were part-time, minimum wage and hard to keep. I eventually found a dangerous way of living that put food on the table.
Jacobsen: How were others, boys and girls, impacted in adolescence with these theological commitments?
Woods: The boys suffered harsh beatings and ridicule from outsiders. The girls suffered, too, but I feel that standards were higher and their mistakes (especially around makeup or dress code) were not easily forgiven.
Jacobsen: What are the rules for girls and women in The Message?
Woods: Skirt length was crucial. No make-up, no pants, no earrings, no hair cuts, shoulders covered, no voting, no jobs in authority positions. The man, always above them, and making the final decision. I’m sure that’s just a fraction of the rules.
Jacobsen: What are the rules for boys and men in The Message?
Woods: No shorts, no outside music, no dancing, no alcohol.
Jacobsen: Why is there such a disparity between the rules for men and the rules for women?
Woods: Some rules are shared, such as with music and drinking. I still believe the women are more restricted in their appearance and lifestyle than the men.
Jacobsen: What is the Serpent Seed Doctrine? Why is this important to The Message theology?
Woods: The Serpent Seed doctrine promotes sexism. It is the belief that Eve, the first female, seduced a Serpent instead of eating fruit. Through the Serpent, she gives birth to an inferior bloodline. This, as you can predict, is where the racial divide sets in. I can say with certainty that the doctrine is both sexist and racist. Instead of accepting all bloodlines and celebrating a woman’s strength and courage during childbirth, we see discrimination.
Jacobsen: How are women viewed as products of the devil and the source of most evil in The Message theology? How is this played out in the community?
Woods: The woman is evil and perverted by design, therefore she must prove herself with humility and obedience.
Jacobsen: John Collins is a great resource on this topic. Jennifer Hamilton from the Casting Pearls Project is a great resource for women who have been abused while in The Message theology. Any other important resources for people?
Woods: I can recommend the immediate resource I used which is Battered Women’s. Right now there isn’t many. I have reached out into my local community and was granted free counselling through Victim’s Services. There are government safe homes if she’s in danger. I hope one day to create various exits for these women and give back when I am able. This is the start. John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton are people I respect greatly, and we’ll do this together.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Rebekah.
Woods: Thank you for yours, Scott.
Image Credit: Rebekah Woods.