Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape from—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult” as Want to Read:
I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape from—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape from—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  746 ratings  ·  115 reviews
A compelling memoir and investigation into the Independent Fundamental Baptist church and its shocking history of religious abuse.
Jocelyn Zichterman was born, raised, married into, and finally, with her family, fled the Independent Fundamental Baptist church. Founded by the fiery preacher Bob Jones, with several hundred thousand, IFB members are told they mus
Hardcover, 293 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by St. Martin's Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about I Fired God, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about I Fired God

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  746 ratings  ·  115 reviews

More filters
Sort order
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Being raised as a fundamentalist we were taught that we were the only ones who were right. Those who worshipped God differently, well they were just wrong. ALL of them were wrong and deceived. We were raised (particularly the females) to dress separately from "the world" in order to let our light shine. We were told others would see us and want what we have...strong emphasis on our appearance. Mainly we could only wear skirts or dresses but many pastors and churches would take it much further to ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: I saw this on someone's feed in Litsy!
I live ten miles up the road from Bob Jones University, and the many varieties of baptists were never as rampant until we moved to South Carolina. So it was surprising to read this book, about a woman leaving the independent fundamentalist Baptist variety of Christianity tied directly to the far-reaching empire of Bob Jones, which I requested via interlibrary loan from the library at Bob Jones. Even though it came with a disclaimer sticker, I'm still shocked they have a copy there. It is very damnin ...more
Rachel Powell
Mar 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
Zichterman's book does not portray both sides of the story. Here are a few of my thoughts after reading her book (although definitely not all of them!):

I agree that abuse is horrible and should be reported to the proper authorities. However, Zichterman makes it sound as if all independent Baptist churches are full of abusive, horrible parents who always cover up abuse. I grew up in a great church with wonderful, caring teachers and pastors. I know my church is committed to reporting abuse whene
Sarah R
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
So, this is a hard book to review. On one hand, it was interesting reading a book written about the cult I grew up in for the first time. It contained a lot of emotional triggers for me, bringing up some things I thought I had dealt with but that made me realize I hadn't. But on the other hand, it was not very well written. I would probably never recommend it to either someone in the IFB cult who is contemplating getting out or as an informative book to introduce someone to what the cult is abou ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
I should preface my "review" of this book by saying I have no use for organized religion. My experiences with it have all been bad. While I have a very strong belief in God, I will honor him and talk to him in my own way....not the way a church tells me I should, while taking my money to boot. I have a cousin, who I love dearly, who has slipped away from our family completely all due to a religious cult. Not this one, but one that is even more out there than the IFB. I found this book fascinatin ...more
Jeri Massi
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Much to my surprise, I was contacted by George Witte, Editor-in-Chief at St Martin’s Press and asked to review Jocelyn Zichterman’s new book, I FIRED GOD. After I picked myself up off the floor, I agreed to the request and soon received a review copy.

Anybody familiar with me and the work I have been doing for over a decade will appreciate that there is a certain dilemma that I face in evaluating anything by Jocelyn. I am the victim, unjustly, of a tremendous character assassination c
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book resonated with me because I also escaped from the world of Independent Fundamental Baptist cults (although I call them Christian extremists). My own experience wasn't as horrific at the authors, but I could identify with so much that she went through in her childhood. Luckily, I never bought into any of the religious bullshit I was being taught and as soon as I could get away from home I did. I started thinking for myself and became an atheist (unlike the author that just moved into a ...more
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book has quite the audacious title. How do you fire God? Or, as my boyfriend quipped, “Does she have the authority to do that?” Given the author’s experience with religion, I can definitely appreciate her position. This book is part autobiography and part memoir and part political call to action. Jocelyn Zichterman (neé Janz) recounts her abusive childhood, her attempt to find her place in the world as an adult in the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church/cult, her subsequent liberat ...more
The writing was so-so and toward the end she transitioned from storyteller to activist. Overall a good luck at IFB from an outsider's perspective.
Drelisha Weismann
May 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Jocelyn Zichterman's experience with her father was traumatic, but most of these abuses occur in a home setting or in group homes that were poorly supervised and committed by selfish individuals. JZ's caricature of the IFB is very atypical of the majority of independent Baptist churches.

There are many Baptists who have sounded the alarm against abuse but those men and churches are never mentioned in critiques against the IFB.

Sadly, Jocelyn's experience has produced a grou
Rena Sherwood
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Just to let you know, I'm an atheist, but I'm going to somehow avoid quibbling about religion in this review. Religion was not what the book was about. It was about surviving a really shitty life.

That being said, this is the best "I fled the cult" book I've read (so far.)


Zichterman gives people who have never suffered abuse a good picture of what it's like. (I am a domestic abuse survivor, so sadly I speak from experience.) She also gives a wider perspective of the IFB cult and recent abuse cases in the
Aug 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Over the last couple of days, I read I Fired God. This book is a memoir, an account of the author's life growing up in Wisc & Colorado. She recounts numerous examples of abuse of every sort: physical, emotional& sexual. In just trying to review the book, it was full of generalizations & over reaching. Was the abuse real? I don't know. To cast every church, pastor & ministry in the same light is unreasonable.

From my experience, which is the same standard that the author has used,
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been reading a lot of books by cult survivors lately: FLDS, Children of God, Scientology, etc. I saw this book, I Fired God, at work (I work at a library) and thought “independent fundamental baptist...I’m not familiar with that one!” Ironically the book about a cult I “wasn’t familiar with” is the one that triggered an extreme fight-or-flight adrenaline fueled anxiety. My heart was racing. I could feel my blood pressure rising. When I stopped after the first 4-5 chapters I had a complete b ...more
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, the title of this book put me off for the longest time. I was intrigued and really wanted to read the memoir of someone who grew up in a church much like the one I did, so I finally bit the bullet and pushed past the title. I am glad I did, for when she talks of firing God, she isn't speaking of the one true God. Rather she is speaking of a God created by man as a harsh, judgmental entity waiting to crush us for the least infraction. This is the God I was raised to believe. I enjo ...more
Jenni Frencham
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This memoir details Zichterman's childhood in an abusive IFB home, her marriage to an IFM man, and their eventual escape from the cult, along with details of Zichterman's mission to help rescue those who have been abused within the IFB.

As a person who also grew up in the IFB, attending camp at the Wilds of the Rockies, at Northland Baptist Bible College (now the defunct Northland International University); spending six years earning two "degrees" from Bob Jones University, and leavin
Elizabeth Stolar
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this as a memoir, although there were places where it was repetitive and occasionally it would jump back and forth in time, which could get confusing. I enjoyed the information about these independent churches and their cult-like aspects, although I found myself wishing there was a more in-depth analysis of the various churches and leaders out there. This, though, was a memoir from someone who lived within this community, so it wouldn't be fair to expect a more encyclopedic or scholarl ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, recommended
Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first.

This book is poorly written, at times reading like a series of blog posts strung together in need of editorial tightening. The author plays loose with chronology, such as mentioning DVDs in the early 90s. Her excellent point about the proliferation of honorary "doctorates" in IFB churches and schools is played out when every single name has "Dr" in quotes next to it. These and a few other things (such as a major spelling error in a chapter title) de
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jocelyn exposes the blatant lies and deception of the cult. She clearly expresses how extreme forms of discipline such as brutal "spankings" are used as power trips for the adults and can lead to sexual molestation.

Her book does a great job of explaining how hard it is for a family to get out of the IFB cult. The manipulation, use of illegitimate "Dr" entitlements, and the strategy of blinding the eyes of its members keep people in the dark to services such as law enforcement, Child Protective
April Bailey
May 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Quite possibly one of the worst books I have ever attempted to read. Zichterman attempts to write an sffidavit against a cult that only exists in her imagination. Her arguments are very flawed, and in some case are outright false. She insists she was forced to watch a movie as child (Left Behind) that wasn't even produced until she was nearly 30. Her claims that that particular movie was nightmarish is laughable. She insists that saying the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the Christian fl ...more
Melissa Fletcher
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing


A damning memoir of life under the thumb of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, from former member Zichterman.

Although it appears that the author’s father is a seriously disturbed individual in his own right, the teachings of the IFB leave little to the imagination regarding the place of women in their worldview, where submission is their due—and they pay for even the smallest infraction with bloody lashings. Not that the boys went unbe
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Still processing this one, but I would definitely recommend it. The power and control the IFB (and similar groups) maintain over their people
is paralyzing. From suppressing abuses on every level to issuing degrees from unaccredited colleges that are not recognized outside of their widespread group, Bob Jones University and it's affiliated churches have created and maintain a cult of miseducated families who appear polished on the outside, but face utter destruction if they question the system.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Long before her introduction to the church, the author suffered at the hands of an abusive parent. A situation made worse by a church organization that was truly corrupt. Her story is tragic. I do feel that in her zeal to make sure that this never happens again, she is indicting not only the man and the organization that abused her, and turning her wrath on any organization she feels might lead to the same end. Unfortunately this only alienates folks with no malicious intent, who have never, and ...more
Mary Blye Kramer
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having been a member of this sect for 2 years as an adult, and another 10 years in a church that behaved like that, I was shocked at how little I knew about them. The extent of child- and sexual abuse is beyond shocking. This brave author is an amazing woman, a great writer, and a passionate advocate. This is a book everyone needs to read carefully to the end

I do hope the author one day understands that egalitarianism is more than respecting women - it means giving them full rights i
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-bio
This is a brave, honest book written by the survivor of horrible sexual and psychological abuse on a scale that blows my mind, and this was my legal field.

The reviews written by others are truly fascinating: either one supports the author or wishes to humiliate her. I am the daughter of a (mainline protestant, graduate of fully accredited schools, and not Baptist) minister and have seen some sick churches and personality cults in my day--and that's before I practiced law. I have no trouble beli
Carlos Eliseo Ortiz
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Jocelyn Zichterman’s true-life story is a nightmare that felt honest and real. On the same day I finished this book, my newspaper wrote that the Chancellor of Bob Jones University, “(…) apologized for saying in 1980 that gay people should be stoned.” I do not know of any horror stories linked to his “reckless” rhetoric, but Zichterman tells of a few horror stories attributed to that sort of Biblical literalism. I think it took a lot of courage for the author to publish her story.

In this age of
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good read! A lot of new perspective at the end.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellently written book, especially considering it is an autobiography/expose. The biggest fault with the book, is it really wasn't made clear on the cover, that the book contained very graphic descriptions of animal and child abuse, including physical, sexual, and psychological/spiritual. While this was touched on in the preface, many people skip book prefaces. This is a surprising lapse, since the author talked about her own "triggers." The graphic abuse starts within the first pages of th ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it
*deep breath* Okay. Obviously the author’s experiences growing up in an abusive home and going to a deeply abusive church are horrible and should never have happened. It is clear that she was groomed from a very young age to simply obey and to be vulnerable to abuse and control. That is truly terrible and I hope she is able to find healing. I’m no fan of Bob Jones 1, 2, OR 3 and I think that they and their ilk are responsible for a LOT of spiritual damage that occurs, which is the real problem t ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I couldn't stop reading this, but it was incredibly disturbing. Jocelyn was raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church, and while what she describes definitely meets the definition of a cult, it's a scarily widespread one in the US. There's an IFB church down the street from me, and when I went to one of their services once out of curiosity, I was shocked at how misogynistic the pastor was. Some Googling told me that 2.5% of the US population identify as members of this church- incl ...more
Tina Hilton
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having grown up and lived within the IFB structure for 38 years, and having been free of it now for 17 years, this book was both difficult to read and hard to put down. Knowing first hand that the IFB is a haven for abusers and pedophiles, I don't doubt Jocelyn's account of her experiences within this socially accepted cult. Is everyone involved with IFB churches evil, horrible people? Certainly not, but the atmosphere supports and protects that evil. I have people I still dearly love from my fo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Keep Sweet: Children of Polygamy
  • In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family
  • Heaven's Harlots: My Fifteen Years as a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult
  • The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult
  • Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl
  • Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy
  • The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in a Polygamous Mormon Sect
  • Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
  • Secrets and Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy
  • God's Brothel: The Extortion of Sex for Salvation
  • Holy Ghost Girl
  • Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement
  • fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science
  • Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge
  • Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism
  • Waiting for the Apocalypse: A Memoir of Faith and Family
  • Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future
See similar books…
Jocelyn Zichterman is an abuse advocate and whistleblower fighting against the IFB Church. She is the author of the book I Fired God: My Life Inside---and Escape From---the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult. Zichterman was a critical source and interview for the ABC News 20/20 investigative hour Shattered Faith as well as the "Ungodly Discipline" series featured on CNN's And ...more
“One of the greatest accusations against us by the cult was that we were “broad brushing” all the IFB churches, but with an estimated eight to ten thousand survivors speaking out on the Internet, telling the same stories from their experiences within IFB churches from all over the country, we finally put that accusation to rest. Dozens of public and private Facebook groups and blogs are now highlighting their abuses. That was precisely what the mob bosses feared: We could prove the entire cult was rife with sexual abuse cover-ups and we had a mountain of evidence to back up our assertions. To my knowledge there is no religious cult anywhere with more people speaking out through social media about their physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse than the former members of the IFB.” 0 likes
“what those men did to you, none of that was God. That was abuse. That god, the one they believe in, that’s a fictitious and false god. He doesn’t exist. God is a God of love and compassion and humility. And you should FIRE that god from your childhood! Just fire him!” 0 likes
More quotes…