Episode 383. Andrew Pledger-Cult Survivor, Coach & Content Creator
In the beginning, long before he was born. His parents were both devout fundamentalist Christians, & his maternal grandparents raised his Mother Methodist until they converted to fundamentalist Christianity & his paternal grandmother was a fundamentalist Christian & his grandpa eventually converted. Andrew’s parents met at Hyles Anderson College in the late 1980s; Hyles Anderson is known for being a strict fundamentalist school.
His Father studied to be a pastor & his mother was going to be an English teacher. They got married in the early 90s & were excited to have children but had difficulties & after contemplating adoption, they prayed about it until it finally happened! They had 3 boys & Andrew was the middle child. They interpreted the birth of their children as a prayer answered & dedicated their children to the God of Christianity. Homeschooling was popular among fundamentalist Christians because of the separation from the world, outside influences & TOTAL control of their children’s lives.
Andrew grew up in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement known as the IFB cult at Gospel Light Baptist Church in Walkertown, NC, pastored by Bobby Robertson until 2018. Robertson was called “America’s Pastor,” & Gospel Light is one of the larger IFB churches in the U.S. It is known for its extensive bus ministry, bringing in thousands of kids every week.
Andrew idolized Robertson & acted like he was Jesus Christ. The most psychologically damaging was the hateful sermons on the LGBTQ+ community because Andrew is openly gay & growing up gay in fundamentalist Christianity is unacceptable because they are considered “perverts that go around raping people & hurting children.” Adding to this trauma was being a child sexual assault survivor and keeping this a secret; he felt shame for his assault & hearing how he deserved nothing good. Loving yourself is difficult when you feel like the closest to you find you unacceptable & he was extremely hurt that the people who were supposed to care for him denied him healthcare.
His trust in his parents eroded & was forever destroyed, & he read books constantly to expand his mind & get rid of “black-and-white thinking.”
Today, Andrew is an influencer to bring awareness to religious trauma, & has shared his story on many podcasts; & as of this taping, he works for 1 of the world’s top cult experts Rachel Bernstein & helps her with her social media marketing, for her podcast “IndoctriNation.”
Andrew is on a mission to pursue psychology to become a therapist & eventually, a psychologist by researching religious trauma & helping present & future survivors of spiritual abuse!