Homestead Heritage: Does This Group Remind You of Your Former Church?

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it." -Albert Einstein

taken from his blog

Alex Hannaford Link

Once again we ask our readers to bear with us for the rest of the week. I will be assisting in an annual retreat from medical and dental students, along with some allied health professionals. The focus of our group is to help caregivers to recognize and apply faith in their practice of health care. It’s one way I am looking out for myself since I am rapidly approaching my dotage and want great faith based practitioners out there! Deb will also be away so we will be managing this by quick checks of the blog.

Last week, a reporter in Texas, who thought TWW might be interested in an alleged child abuse story about a Christian community in Waco, contacted me. My first I thought, “Oh no, just another wacko group with wacko theology. “ But the more I read, the more surprised I became. It is, in my opinion, another wacko group but their theology is being lived out in many evangelical churches tabour which we have been writing. I had an eerie sense of déjà vu while reading this.

Here is my wish for our readers as you slog through this stuff. Think about groups that you have been involved in and ask “Did my church believe or practice any of this stuff?”  You may find that there is a very fine line between normal and abusive.

Here is a link to Alex Hannaford’s article, "Heritage of Abuse" in The Texas Observer in February and updated in April.

Here is link to Brett Shipp’s story, Waco Religious Commune Accused of Masking Abuse" on WFAA. Read or watch the video. Take some notes as you do. I will provide some observations after the video.

My first thoughts come from the article, Heritage of Abuse, by Alex Hannaford and linked to before the video.

Here is the opening statement from the article.

“A Texas Observer investigation has found allegations of child sex abuse involving at least six members of the Homestead Heritage community. Three members have been convicted of sexually assaulting minors. A fourth has been charged and will likely soon plead guilty. The Observer found more allegations of sexual abuse of children that have never been reported to the authorities. Church elders failed to promptly inform law enforcement of sexual abuse of children, as required by state law. Church policy, according to internal documents, states that religious matters within the community are not “the proper province, of the corporate State and its investigative, police and judicial services.” In fact, our investigation has exposed a litany of tragedy: families broken apart, child abuse and allegations of mind control, cover-ups and secrecy.”

1. Acccording to Hannaford, this ministry got started in the 1970s.
It is important to remember that, during this time frame, the abusive shepherding movement was still going strong. TWW has written two posts on that movement here and here. What other ministry have we written about whose leaders got their start during tho same time period?

2. Over the years it has changed it’s name approximately 5 times.
Now, why does a ministry change its name, a lot? And which current day ministry has changed its name a few times?

3 .Women wear long dresses and long sleeves. The children are all home-schooled

4. Apparently the group claims a “plurality of elders. As usual, the devil is in the details. Apparently Blair Adams is at the top of the food chain and the elders are beneath him. He also gets to choose the elders.

5. “There appears to be frank patriarchy in which the fathers are above wives and children.

6. The group projects a happy, wholesome image. Kids playing, members merrily working together. This image is so ingrained in the Waco area that they appear ot have successfully duped outsiders, in cluding Dr Roger Olson, of whom I am a fan.
“According to Hannaford In 2005, Roger Olson, a professor of theology at Baylor University, wrote a gushing piece about Homestead Heritage for Christianity Today, headed: Where Community is No Cliché. The story served as an introduction to the church to anyone outside Texas. Olson described the sect as a mix of “Pentecostal fervor with Anabaptist simplicity and accountability his “close questioning” detected “no aberrant teachings about God.” Olson also noted that “the group made decisions by consensus; babies were typically born at home.” Hannaford claims that Olson refused to speak with him about his article.

7. ”Anyone who leaves the group, is shunned and denounced as being the spirit of the antichrist.”

8. Outsiders are not allowed to attend the church on Sundays because it is viewed as a time for church discipline. Some examples, according to a member, would include“ sullen countenances, wearing cowboy boots with tall heels, plucking eyebrows or eating chocolate.” (Editorial note: Dee would be gone first day, guilty of all 4 offenses-her Dixie Chick boots click clacking their way out the door).

9. Apparently, one had to confess ones’ sins to a leader in order to be forgiven. Can we say “Redemption Groups” anyone?

10. Corporal punishment is practiced for children. One member reported to Hannaford that Adams would “quoting scripture as he went into some detail about what fathers should use to beat their children with; what kind of switches to utilize and what they could be made of.” There were also reports of a child being locked in a room for weeks.

11.This was the most poignant statement in the article .”After he left, Adam Alexander went to church for a few years but then stopped. “I believe in God but I don’t believe in religion,” he told me. “The two controlling factors in life are fear and love, and I think churches have so much potential to be a positive thing, but in the end they end up controlling people by fear.”

Next, we move to the Shipp article, link above for a few more insights.

12. Adams rules by fear and authority. According to Shipp “The doctrine is that the leadership is put in place by God himself and speaks authoritatively, as speaking the very word of God.” Where have our readers heard this one before?

13. They practice the infamous Church covenant approach. All members, according to Shipp “must sign a covenant of silence. 

According to Homestead’s membership contract, the aspiring members agree "to never bring before the public outside our church… any accusations or wrongdoing or any charge, lawsuit or court action." Agreeing, "that all disputes be settled within the confines of the church."… And in return… "the church agrees to never expose a member's shortcomings and sins to any outside it's covenant."

Remember our rule here at TWW. Never, ever sign any covenant that has not been vetted by your personal attorney. In fact, we believe it is the better part of valor to not sign a covenant even if it means that you attend your church as a non-member. (The 9 Marks boys are having seizures as they read this.) If you have signed it, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some nasty “discipline.” We have written about church covenants, including how to get out of one, here and here.

14. According to Shipp there are reports of child and teen sexual and physical. “

News 8 has learned that in the past seven years, five individuals, either members of, or with close ties to Homestead, have been convicted of sexually abusing a child within the Homestead community”.

15. The community reportedly asks the victims to forgive their abuser and the community spends time ministering to him. The victim claims that she was ignored. And even sent back to live with him.“ The step-father was never reported to law enforcement, despite state law requiring church officials to report child abuse within 24 hours.”

16. One convicted abuser explains the discipline procedure in the Shipp article." They tried to remedy the situation,” Delong said. “I think, within the church first because that's scriptural – that's what's in the Bible.

17. Finally, and our astute readers knew this was coming. Guess what the ministry calls the members who are speaking out?? That’s right “bitter.” Hmmm, I know a former church who called Dee by that name. I wear it with pride and consider it is the wind beneath my kite.

Finally, SNAP has released a statement here. 
"We call on local law enforcement to investigate Homestead Heritage. And we urge current and former members of that community to find the courage to violate the harmful secrecy edict and, for the sake of innocent, wounded and vulnerable kids, tell police and prosecutors what they know and suspect about possible child sex crimes there."

I commend Alex Hannaford and Brett Shipp for their dogged pursuit of this group. When the church will not police itself, maybe God appoints the media to do what the church will not. By the way, Brett Shipp did the expose of Ed Young Jr.’s ridiculous lifestyle and has written on our good friend, Tom Rich.

I bet this will prompt much discussion since much of what apparently transpires at this community is seen in regular old SBC, Reformed, and nondenominational churches around the world. I am not so sure we should call this group a cult. If we do, the finger might point right back at us.

Lydia’s Corner: Ezekiel 29:1-30:26 Hebrews 11:32-12:13 Psalm 112:1-10 Proverbs 27:17


Homestead Heritage: Does This Group Remind You of Your Former Church? — 70 Comments

  1. I cannot comment on this, being in Waco, except that the place is remote and other than their public events, few people other than members go on the site.

  2. Another fan –

    Your statement is scary in itself . . . “Those mysterious people over there.” They don’t seem to be emulating Jesus, being out and about amongst the people.

  3. My husband and I have gone, with my in-laws, to HH’s yearly festival in November for several years now. I have always felt that they were a cult, but the festival is truly the highlight of my in-laws year, so I haven’t said much. My in-laws had actually looked into joining the group, but had “a few doctrinal differences” and did not pursue it. It is very disheartening to read about the abuse, but I cannot say that I am surprised.

    For further information, here is a link with a statement from HH to WFAA, and WFAA’s response. Notice how HH’s statement wordsmithed, but doesn’t really say much of substance. They just (attempt to) attack the reporter’s methods.

    HH has set up a page on their site concerning the allegations:

  4. I’m really disappointed to read that Dr. Olson endorsed this group, and that he has refused to be interviewed about it now that this abuse has been brought to light.

  5. This is a really hard topic for me to comment on, but you’ve just described and listed the perfect environment for sexual abuse (or other abuse). A very telling comment here:

    The officer asked him if his wife ever told him to turn himself in and he said “they just prayed and were hoping something would change.”

    It shows a woeful ignorance of paedophilia.

    In the police statement, the interviewing police officer wrote: “I asked him if he and and his wife had been having any problems at the time…”

    Same. Hello folks, an absence of sexual marital problems does not prevent this.

    Dee and Deb, I don’t know if this is the right place or time to discuss, as paedophilia is really dark stuff, but I honestly don’t believe that the perpetrators can be ‘healed’ or ‘cured’ of this behaviour. I think they’re hard-wired to crave this behaviour. I’m sorry if this flies in the face of grace and forgiveness, which is how I think some Christians faced with this type of sexual abuse approach it.

    I’m open to hearing from other commenters and psychologists or psychiatrists who work in the field but I’m not about to start a google search on it. I thought the film “The Woodsman” with Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon handled the topic sensitively. There was a documentary here in Australia about the abuse in the Catholic Church which explained the mindset of the paedophile, with interviews. I can provide the link if anyone is interested, you’ve probably seen it. As I say, it’s really dark, damaging stuff. The less a lid can be put on it, the better.

  6. Homestead Heritage does not remind me of any of the churches I’ve attended over the years. Mine have always been protestant evangelical churches with mild doctrinal differences.

    The Pastor I sat under with the most absolute control was the late Homer Lindsay Jr. He was a fine man but if you didn’t see things his way you were free to leave. The church was so big it was impossible to be shunned, or missed for that matter. ( You probably could have snuck in a side door without being noticed.)

    No hint of scandal ever with Homer Lindsay Jr. He had an absolutely wonderful wife who is also deceased.

  7. Here’s the part that stood out to me. In #6:

    “According to Hannaford In 2005, Roger Olson, a professor of theology at Baylor University, wrote a gushing piece about Homestead Heritage for Christianity Today, headed: Where Community is No Cliché. The story served as an introduction to the church to anyone outside Texas. Olson described the sect as a mix of “Pentecostal fervor with Anabaptist simplicity and accountability his “close questioning” detected “no aberrant teachings about God.”

    Now I got burned pretty bad in the Seventies from what I later found out was an independent splinter “fellowship” which was very much into “shepherding”. Here’s how overcontrolling/abusive groups like that got under the radar of all those Christian cult-watch groups:

    …his “close questioning” detected “no aberrant teachings about God.

    Those Cult Watchers defined “Cult” entirely by the group’s Theology, NOT controlling or abusive behavior towards their congregants. As I found out the hard way, a group can cross all the “T”s and dot all the “I”s in their theology (Usually Dispensationalist Evangelical) and still act like North Korea towards their people.

  8. Haitch –

    I don’t think many people understand the problems with pedophiles or the hidden death grip the condition holds on the person. The more people know about it, the better off society will be. The more people are willing to look at it instead of pretending it could never happen, the better we will be able to protect children. And you are correct, everything I have read indicates that this group has created a safe haven for the perpetrators. A pedophile will even look for a situation like this, become a member, and follow all the rules simply to have access to children. Many people are naïve and believe it is a one time problem when it occurs. The statistics say otherwise as Dee and Deb have referenced in other articles.

  9. With respect to cheating on one’s spouse, available data suggest that men appear to fall into three groups, with no evidence of a substantial difference in the percentage of men in each:

    Men who never cheat on their spouse.
    Men who cheat once, were terrified by the experience and never cheat again.
    Men who cheat every chance they get.

    Without considering percentages, I suspect that there are three groups with men with respect to pedophilia (with prepubescents):
    Men who never.
    Men who find themselves in or close to it once.
    Men who are habitually involved.

    I think it is also similar with true pornography (not Playboy, but hard core stuff). There is a great deal of crossover with child porn and child abuse, however, it is not 100% and some child porn consumers are merely voyeurs. BTW many jurisdictions treat possession of child porn as a sex offense for reporting purposes, even without distribution or production.

  10. I wonder if we don’t need a new term which describes the behavior of a cult without making any statement about theology. Kult(ala Krab dip), perhaps?

  11. Acre,
    “BTW many jurisdictions treat possession of child porn as a sex offense for reporting purposes, even without distribution or production.”

    As well they should because even if it is not distributed or mass produced, there is still a child that has been victimized.

  12. It never ceases to amaze me how all these groups can be outwardly so diverse, yet the dynamics of abuse are always IDENTICAL, and there are remarkable similarities in the language. I am pondering why this should be so.

    As regards paedophilia, all sexual addictions are dark, but the dynamics required for someone to lust after children and feel free to indulge that lust, and build so much of their lives around providing a cover for that lust, are dark beyond most people’s imagination. I believe it is theoretically possible for a paedophile to reform, but almost impossible in practice, because of the degree of pain that would be involved. The paedophile (I think, I’m not officially qualified to declare on this, just commenting from general knowledge on the psychology of addiction) has already made choices to be pain avoidant and self gratifying, no matter what the cost to others, finding the long-term courage and motivation to totally rebuild their moral framework and face their inner pain, and the true ramifications of their actions would take a special heroism.

  13. Well, point 7 is red flag #1 of a cult. My mother grew up across the street from a family whose adult daughter got sucked into a communal cult in the 70s. When this woman’s parents brought baby clothes to the commune (for their grandchild), they wouldn’t take the clothes because they were the “work of the devil.”

  14. According to one website Homestead Heritage IS a cult. Here’s what they say:
    “Homestead Heritage is an intentional community in rural Texas.

    Rooted in Oneness Pentecostalism, it denies the doctrine of the Trinity and teaches an anti-grace message — denying salvation by grace alone. Theologically it therefore is considered to be a cult of Christianity.

    Sociologically, some cult-like problems have been reported as well — particularly in the area of a shepherding-type leadership approach.”

    So accordingly they could be considered a cult both theologically and by their behavior.

  15. One thing I don’t get about biblicists that quote all this garb about submission Dee, is that Paul never never taught unlimited submission. He advocated on Philemon’s behalf to his owner. Here is another good example, Roman 13 and submission to authorities. Most likely Paul was writing about was not advocating a revolt against Rome. Instead of what many assume in reading Romans 13 Paul was simply saying as just going along with Roman laws but THIS WOULD BE impossible when one considers all the Roman laws. The Romans were stringent in their laws on participating in celebration to idols during different parts of the years and would call for being jailed if you didn’t comply. So Paul’s wording for submission NEVER meant to go along with the Roman leaders own authority or decrees. It simply meant to not start an aggressive uprising.

  16. ok…I read often, but rarely comment. I agree with so much of what has been said. It is true that sexual abuse is pervasive. I don’t know what the solution is to preventing a culture where so many people (primarily men) choose to abuse children. I suspect that the internet age of easy access to pornography serve to increase the problem, as it “dehumanizes” the recipient of the abusers sexual cravings. I am not a professional expert on this topic, but I have been in full-time christian ministry for over ten years. During that time I have counseled numerous adults who were sexually abused to varying extents in their childhood. Initially the stories shocked and surprised me. Then I chose to dig a little deeper with people in my life. I discovered, to my horror, that three of my five siblings had sexual abuse in their childhood… two from an uncle, one from a teenage neighbor boy, and then one from my brother who was first abused by the teenage neighbor. (on the scale of severity, I would consider the abuse more “mild”… inappropriate touching, etc. But still weird, abusive, and emotionally damaging.) Then I continued my inquiries. Turns out my father-in-law also had a youth leader “expose himself” at their youth group. This must have been way back in the fifties. Why am I writing all this junk? I think that for those who are inexperienced or uninformed in this topic they can be very naive and blind to just how pervasive a problem this is. From my own personal experience, over fifty percent of the people that I have known and/or counseled have had sexual abuse in their past… I challenge any of you to make inquiries among your friends and families. I suspect you will be shocked to find a similar percentage.

    So all that to say, what to we do from here? As a mother of young children, here are some things I do to protect them. (I know it is impossible to completely 100% guarantee that no abuse will ever happen to them, and we will trust God for healing if something terrible does happen, but I will do everything proactive in my power to limit opportunities for abuse.)

    1)My children know that there “private areas” are only for them or their future spouse. They know that anyone who tries to make them touch or be touched in private areas is WRONG, an they should say NO and come to us immediately.
    2)We will NEVER have a male babysitter for any reason. Not a cousin, uncle, neighborkid, pastor. No male babysitters! Not even for ten minutes while I run a short errand.
    3)We never let our children use public restrooms alone. We always go in with them.
    4) We will never put our children in a church nursery where males help the children in the bathrooms.
    5) So far, (we may adjust this as are kids get a little older), if my kids want to play at someone else’s house, I go with them and hang out with the mom. Similarly, sleepovers with friends are when our whole family sleeps over at our family’s friends’ house. Sleepovers without mom and dad, in our perspective are unnecessarily risky.

    Not to be a downer, but I do hope this advice helps to serve families and help them be wise about protecting their children. I think we all should err on the side of being overprotective on this issue rather than naive and “trusting.” Our children’s lives are worth it!!!

  17. My son, now an adult, was never allowed to do any babysitting. One real or false accusation and his life ( and yours ) gets really, really stressful.

  18. EAGLE said: “I guess the point I am trying to make is that evil is everywhere. And it manifests itself in many forms. Child molestation is but one form.”

    How very true is that my friend – sadly

  19. relative

    You are more informed than many. I found out that a childhood friend was molested by the priest down the street. He kept it quiet until the more recent revelations. I have met many, many others who have been abused since that time. I believe that the number one reason that abuse continues to flourish is the gag rule that many churches institute-don’t talk about, they need their privacy, don’t gossip, you don’t know the facts, etc. We MUST talk about it, we must stand up for the victims, and we must shout it from the rooftops.I did this a few years ago and paid a tiny price and the price was well worth it because it led me to understand the abuse of the dear people who visit this blog.

    You protect those beautiful children of yours.Thank you!

  20. Eagle
    Thank you for your input. The Dahmer story was creepy. I got the calendars-awesome! Thank you. And thanks for you postcard advertisement-That is one to share with the blog. Smoking hot, my foot! 🙂

  21. The commenters here have made profound contributions, thanks. I’m thinking on your words Lynne. ‘Relative’, you sound fearless – the one thing I thought was protecting your own home, and who you invite in. I’m not advocating a suspicious approach at all, but often it’s who you already know, as your ‘litmus test’ revealed. And I think your guesstimate of 50% may be much higher. Personally, I think incest is more prevalent that we would like to believe.

  22. Haitch

    Your comment is very, very important. “I honestly don’t believe that the perpetrators can be ‘healed’ or ‘cured’ of this behavior.” In fact, the statistics indicate that you are correct. Sometimes, Jesus does not heal us in this life. If so, what to do with pedophilia? We must institute strict laws for monitoring and strict laws for contact with children. If a pedophile violates the rules, then jail or some form of assured restoration of movement needs to be enforced. These folks can be ministered to within the confines of their restrictions.

    i want to make myself clear. I am not talking about some 18 year old kid who had sex with his 15 year old girlfriend. I am speaking about molestation here. Pedophiles, at the time of being arrested the first time have molested male to female child 50 times and male to male child 150 times. This is serious!

  23. relative,

    Thanks so much for your comment. As you have clearly indicated, parents can’t be too careful these days with their children. The advice you gave is fairly close to what I followed when my daughters were growing up. They did a lot of different activities, but often I was involved (especially when they were young).

    I think many decisions parents make for their children should be common sense. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  24. Thanks for the feedback… it is fun to find like-hearted internet friends 🙂

    (I think I like this blog particularly because of some shared experiences with you Dee and Deb. I was born and raised in NY, went to Duke for my undergraduate and graduate work, and then lived in central Texas for four years post graduation…)

    Anyway, I can happily report that I have never been a part of a church that had some kind of a “gag” order, as you described it, in place. Based on the statistics you have provided before, an abuser often has abused 50-150 times before being reported or caught. So when those who are uninformed or inexperienced in this topic hear of a child abuse situation, they rightly are sad or outraged, but probably still dismiss it as a “rare” event and remain naive about how prevalent this problem truly is in our day. Think of it this way, for every story you DO hear, THERE ARE LIKELY 50 STORIES YOU WILL NEVER HEAR.

    I don’t think church policies are really the reason so much child abuse goes unreported until into adulthood. I think much of it has to do with children lacking the education from their parents to know that what happened to them is very wrong, also they may lack the vocabularly to communicate. Shame is another issue. Fear also comes into play. Even sadness, as in the case of my family, as the uncle (the abuser) was our favorite fun uncle whom we all loved and adored… who would want to bring a bad report about this beloved family member? In some families deep honest communication is not practiced or stressed, so even when children wish to speak out, they feel more comfortable sharing with their friends than their own parents.

    I’m glad this is a hot topic here at TWW. I think society in general, parents, and church leaders will be greatly benefited the more people are made aware of just how pervasive this problem really is.

  25. relative,

    We are so glad you have joined our discussion! Since you’re new to TWW, perhaps you haven’t read our “About Us” page.

    I earned my undergraduate degree from Duke in May 1981. After working a few years, I enrolled in the Executive MBA program at UNC, receiving my degree in May 1990.

    For much of my adult life I have been wife, mother, and ‘professional’ volunteer. BTW, my husband and I were married in Duke Chapel.

    Dee and I began The Wartburg Watch over three years ago (after talking about the possibility of blogging for several years), and we are so blessed by these internet friendships.

    If you ever make your way back to Duke for a reunion or whatever, I’d love to meet you since I live in Raleigh. 🙂

  26. I would love to meet you! My husband and I are overseas missionaries, but we will probably be passing through town next summer… maybe a cosmic cantina burrito on ninth street in a year?

  27. 1. Doesn’t “People of Destiny” sound creepy? — Eagle

    Sounds more Pretentious than Creepy. Obviously these “People of Destiny” have a very high opinion of themselves.

  28. Eagle and HUG –

    PDI (People of Destiny) does not exist as an entiry any longer. That name was dropped for SGM (Sovereign Grace Ministries) which could be considered a bit pompous. I don’t know how much grace was experienced or exhibited by or to people in this ministry. I am now awaiting the next possible name change for this ministry since some (CJ et all) may want to distance themselves from that name because of the slander and gossip that has been spread (right?) (eye roll) regarding that ministry.

  29. Bridget2,

    AMWAY changed its name to QUIXTAR (in the US) a while back. It didn’t take people long to figure out that it was in fact AMWAY.

    Well, now they have reclaimed “AMWAY”.

    If SGM morphs into something else, we’ll do our best here at TWW to do a public service announcement about it.

  30. I agree that sexual abuse is pervasive and children are often the victims. These religious groups, I believe, cater to at least one fundamental desire of people: to belong. Many folks do not feel they belong to anyone, anywhere when they are growing up, hence, they seek a sense of belonging and join these cults or cult-like churches like the mega one in Seattle; so, they sign the “membership covenant” to belong, to have “privileges” only to find out about the abuses going on in the group later or end up being abused themselves.

    I have advised people (students) within my influence to be extremely careful before signing any contracts, agreements, covenants… with anybody, any religious group or churches. I learned from my personal experience. Better yet, sign NO covenants whatsoever with any church group…

    I am a member of the Body of Christ, who is the Head, that’s all. That’s my one and only membership. I grieve for the little ones who are victims of sexual abuse; they are in my prayers.

    Dee and Deb, thanks for the story on Homestead Heritage.

  31. One more comment: for those who are in leadership position in any church setting. Ezekiel chapter 34 is a direct warning from the Lord our God. God will take care of His sheep and hold the false shepherds accountable for their actions.

  32. “One more comment: for those who are in leadership position in any church setting. Ezekiel chapter 34 is a direct warning from the Lord our God. God will take care of His sheep and hold the false shepherds accountable for their actions.”

    We need more “sheep” like Dee and Deb.

  33. Deb –

    You might find it interesting that my 3rd great grandfather was president of Duke University and I live in and around Trinity College, the first home of Duke University and my parents are long-time Iron Dukes! 🙂

    I knew I liked you! We really must meet up sometime. Gotta get it penciled in.

  34. PDI (People of Destiny) does not exist as an entiry any longer. That name was dropped for SGM (Sovereign Grace Ministries) which could be considered a bit pompous. … I am now awaiting the next possible name change for this ministry since some (CJ et all) may want to distance themselves from that name… — Bridget2

    Historical reference: CheKa dropped that name for OGPU which dropped that name for NKVD which dropped that name for KGB…

  35. Relative:

    That is a great list and you are more informed than most people. On the babysitter point, though, I just want to add that it was a female babysitter who forced my best friend and I (we were 9) to have sex while her and her friends watch and laughed. It is more rare, but women are abusers, too.

  36. That did not happen in Waco and Homestead Heritage is not in Waco, but in Gholson. The ATF-Koreshi thing happened some distance (miles) out of town (like calling something in NJ as if it had happened in Manhattan). It is just that the nearest decent hotels were in Waco, so that is where the news media were when they did their reports. Did not happen in Waco!

  37. Waco, Little Egypt Tennesee, or the town of Tull in Mid World; the location is incidental. The point is that hopefully the governing authorities have learned that restraint and common sense go a long way in preserving lives and property.

  38. Jeanette…

    Your story is horrifying. I am so sorry that happened to you. I am thankful you shared it though… I can’t say this enough. The more people share their stories, the more that society in general will be made aware of just how commonplace this junk really is. I feel continually educated and reminded of the importance of being a wise, discerning and protective parent. Thanks.

  39. Muff
    You would not like it if someone told a big lie about your town that was having the effect of reducing tourism, job creation, and increasing poverty in a city where poverty is a real, day-to-day problem. For a county with our population, we are among the highest poverty in the country, and I see it every day in my law office, where I take way too many pro bono cases to help people who have legal problems. And I do not do criminal law.

  40. Arce-

    You live in Waco? I lived there for four years. Do you mind my asking what church you are a part of?

  41. I came across this website as I was reading more about HH and the recent articles about them. I’ve visited HH over the years. I was never a member, but I did attend some of their services. I have learned a lot from them, and I’ve also been in contact with ex-members who have had bad experiences. Examples of ex-members reporting bad experiences at church can be found in many main-line churches in the USA, so HH is not special in that regard. Almost 90 ex-members of HH have signed a petition supporting HH against these allegations.

    I surely don’t agree with HH on everything, doctrinally or in their community life, but I am confident that they are not child abusers. My experience there and the evidence shows otherwise.

    HH has created a response to the Texas Observer article; it helped me see things better (I was pretty upset to read on a UK website about accusations against HH). The video is here:

    I imagine that many commentators and Dee didn’t know about it. I suggest that you watch the video or read their response/defense before assuming the magazine article is unbiased and accurate.

    For instance, at one point in the article, the author talks about a boy who is abused by a member of the church who comes into the boy’s room to abuse him; Hannaford purposefully hides the fact that the ‘member of the church’ was actually the boy’s father. That in itself is disingenuous and indicates to me that Hannaford was trying to score points rather than be truthful. It’s also important to note that two of the abusers were not members of HH (though they were affiliated in some way). And I am NOT defending the abusers. Please don’t think I’m doing that.

    A few other things stand out. Of the four cases of child abuse discussed in the article, in every case the leaders of the church turned in the guilty parties as soon as they found out. In one case, a lay leader didn’t report immediately, and I think he was wrong for that. But the elders of the church immediately reported the crimes as soon as they found out. In all four cases, the men who committed the crimes have been found guilty and are currently in prison. These events are not ‘hidden’ by HH; the actions of the leadership show the opposite.

    Local law enforcement authorities have investigated the situations fully and support the way HH handled things. As I said, the abusers are now serving long prison sentences; HH was active in exposing their crimes.

    Any other allegations of sexual abuse (the other two mentioned in the article but not discussed) should be immediately reported to authorities; however, this apparently has not been done. The article mentions 6 alleged cases, and four of the six were exposed by the leadership of HH. The other two allegations are not discussed in the article, and people who know details about them may be in violation of the law by not reporting them (including the author of the article and the people he interviewed). The leadership of HH has shown that they WILL report sexual abuse as soon as they find out about it.

    The quote about not going to the court in legal matters was written for situations in which members of the church are enjoined not to sue one another; that’s strait scripture. HH believes that all criminal activity should be reported immediately.

    From all my reading over the past few days (including emails that Hannaford sent to HH), I think Hannaford wrote a hit piece, using old stories to inflame fears. He was clearly biased against HH and started writing the article with a particular perspective that he was/is not willing to change in light of the facts.

    I’m not saying HH is perfect (really, what church is?), but these charges of rampant child sexual abuse seem to me to be slanderous.

    I do understand how a magazine article like this can touch very sore spots and bring up conversations about other situations of cult abuse. I am so very sad that people have suffered terrible abuse at the hands of religious leaders.

    However, just because a website says HH is a cult doesn’t make them one, and just because a magazine article says HH is hiding child sexual abuse doesn’t mean that they actually are. I have learned that it’s always good to get the other side of the story.

    HH has something like 40,000 people a year visit; they attend book fairs where they share their homeschooling curricula; they publish books about their church; they teach classes in various hand-crafts; they’ve always been very open with me to discuss ANY topic related to their community or their doctrine. They certainly are not hiding out of view, trying to avoid interaction with people outside of their church. They even have an out-reach ministry in downtown Waco that is in partnership with Christians who are not a part of HH.

    Thanks for taking time to read this. I hope I haven’t caused pain or given insult to anyone. This is not my intention.

  42. Dee/Deb,

    Please send “relative” my email address. Thanks. Then she/he can ask me that question off line.

  43. haitch,

    Thanks for sharing this ==> Rabbi ignored warnings on sexual abuse say parents

    I am including what I believe are some of the most shocking parts of the article:

    ONE of Australia’s leading rabbis told a man whose son had been allegedly sexually abused by a youth group leader at a Melbourne Jewish school that the child would not need counselling because he was under eight years old, court documents say.

    David Samuel Cyprys, a former security guard at the Yeshivah Centre in St Kilda East, has been charged with 53 offences, including six counts of rape, allegedly committed against 12 boys between 1982 and 1991…

    In court documents, the parents of two separate boys said they went to Yeshivah Centre director Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner in the 1980s to complain about alleged molestation.

    The parents of both boys said no action was taken, with one woman saying her son was abused for another three years after her complaint.

    One father said he told Rabbi Groner in 1984 that Cyprys had ”interfered” with his son. ” He told me that [the boy] wouldn’t need counselling because [he] was under eight years old,” the man said in a statement.

    “Rabbi Groner told me he had spoken to psychologists before and they had told him because the children are so young counselling would not be necessary. Since that day I never heard another word.” …

    ‘The accused was seen as a role model by members of the Jewish community who trusted him in the company of their children,” the summary of charges says.

    The alleged victims, who were aged between seven and 17, say they were abused by Cyprys at locations including the mikvah bath house, Elwood houses, his van, Gan Israel youth camps and Yeshivah College.

    ”He was known as the ‘key master’. People knew this, and still do, and we were afraid of his reputation as being able to access everybody’s houses and also because of his martial arts prowess,” one alleged victim said in his statement.

    “Cyprys was never shy about touching up kids. He was never violent, but you were scared, because he had the keys to everything, and he was a black belt at karate.”

    Read more:

  44. Maybe there is another side
    We are always willing to contemplate another angle at TWW. you need to understand, however, that abuse of children is one of our hot button issue and that we are prone to take the side of the victims in such circumstances.

  45. Again, watch the the video.
    Now ask yourself one question, If these allegations are unfounded and actually turn out to be slanderous attacks on innocent people, would your honesty and care for the “victim” (who in this case is the entire HH community) compell you to put as much effort into restoring these folks reputation as has been exerted into tearing it down with your site’s comments and assumptions? Seems like when allegations like this surface, before jumping to conclusions, it is the responsibility of those who claim to defend the innocent, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, who the true victim is and who is the true culprit. It seems to me what appears to be the truth is the victim is actually this peace living community and the culprit is the media and the people who believe everything they are told without first getting all the facts.

  46. Having been through my share of abusive church situations myself (nothing of the magnitude of this situation), I can say this with certainty: Abusive church leadership provides an ideal breeding ground for pedophilia–in short, all legitimate communication is stifled, especially communication with the outside world.

    Probably you are familiar with the following books, but all readers should know that they remain in print–probably because there are continued sales for obvious reasons–the problem continues and is far more common than most realize.

  47. Correcting myself, it appears that the above books are out of print. However, they are still available–both new and used. Apparently “Churches That Abuse,” by Ronald Enroth is really in demand with two new copies selling for $275 and $375. I have no intention of selling my copies…

    The human race is indeed fallen–I only wish that the redeemed did would not live as such…

  48. “The human race is indeed fallen–I only wish that the redeemed did would not live as such”

    Duncan, None of us have sinless perfection. But sinless perfection/total depravity is a false dictonomy for believers. The redeemed live like the redeemed. One of the biggest problems is that teaching lacks the topic of living as the Kingdom of God right now with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Molesting a child is not a sort of “moral failure” for a believer. It means the Holy Spirit was not indwelling and they should fear for their salvation. We simply do not teach this anymore because it sounds mean. People really believe that one can have the indwelling Holy Spirit and molest children or hurt others consistently with no conviction unless caught. They do believe this. Astonishing.

    I really think some people could use a dose or two of NT Wright who is really pointing this out these days. We live from Cross to Second coming but with nothing inbetween. We tell people they are saved if they “believe” even though they bear heinous rotten fruit. But even the demons “believe” and shudder. When we are saved, we do not continually and consistently live as depraved sinners. We are new creatures and Born Again. We are not perfect and we sin but seriously it is amazing what some think they can continually do and cover up and think it is Kingdom living. The really scary part is much of the heinous sin is done by those who make a living in ministry. Not sure when or if people are going to wake up to what this is really telling us. But most churches are not safe anymore because the depraved are told they just “fell” and it is no big deal. It is almost expected and is the new normal. Just say “sorry” and all is forgiven. It simply does not work that way. Where was the Holy Spirit when molesting the child? Where was conviction of this crime/sin before caught?

  49. Maybe there is another side

    If there is proof that these well known and respected reporters (Shipp has been well known to me for a long time and he is known to be both fair and honest) set out to harm your community or there is proof of total fabrication, then, of course, i will write another article.

  50. There has been child abuse at Homestead Heritage and there was a bit of a coverup. There is a very strong hierarchical governance structure there, and with those, there is a primary motivation to cover, and it is hard for leadership to respond by outing abusers, both by reporting to law enforcement and by putting them outside the community. It is highly likely that spiritual abuse has also occurred, given the number of people who have left and have made some kind of complaint about their treatment.

    However, that is not to say that the situation is as bad as reported.

    However, the reporter has a reputation of honesty and having the particulars to back up the reporting, and not of smear tactics. Though often accused by those exposed, there has not been a case made that proves any abusive reporting. And the exposed make the argument for him that those that are exposed are the only ones complaining.

    HH is on a big campaign to counteract the reporting, including a full page placement in the Waco paper this morning. But here in Waco, we know about cults in the surrounding area, and HH has many features of a cult. One of the principles here is that, being secret does not help with a cover up, only having a good story with some public face activities that are attractive to the community. HH is very good at that.

  51. “Fowling The  Mouthpieces?

    HowDee YaAll,

     “…This is one reason why we feel the public news media is not an appropriate forum to seek as a mouthpiece for airing grievances, as that course inevitably tends to drive wedges deeper.” -HH


    fowled mouthpieces?

    wedges that drive deeper despair?


    “TWW Takin’ It To The Streets” (With High Quality)

     There is a reason for a grieving public? Let none call them fowled mouthpieces!

    Yes, there are those who feel that the public news media is not an appropriate forum to seek as a mouthpiece for airing grievances, as that course is seen as the inevitable tendency of driving wedges deeper?

    Yes, there are also those who feel that the public blogging venue is also not an appropriate forum to seek as a mouthpiece for airing grievances, the aid of victims, as that course also is believed to lead to the inevitable tendency of driving wedges deeper?

    Go figure…

    However, there are those who feel that the public blogging venue  is an appropriate forum to seek as a mouthpiece for airing grievances, as that course inevitably tends towards the exposure of the darkness driving the despair.  The dark deeds of mankind have always hated the light, Jesus said it was because the deeds done in darkness were evil, resisting the light. 

    TWW is “a shining lamp” of “God’s love” into the darkness. Exposure of darkness, is but one of it’s aim. 

    Comic relief: True Grit – “Bold Talk for a Couple of Middle Aged Ladies…”

    The bringing of God’s lamp, the good news story of what Jesus did for everyone, that He lived again to tell about it, and demonstrated God’s unfailing love for humankind, and thereby un-fowling the pathway and restoring the fellowship with God Almighty, is another. The rescue of many of darkness’ victims is also one of the aims of TWW.

    How can TWW not rejoice over similar efforts elsewhere, that provide similar relief, that aids the negation of further abuse, and the means that drives it?

    * Il a, il dosent, il désire.

    * (Fr. Tr. : “It has, it proportion, it wishes.”)

    Comic relief:

    God ‘s eye is still upon the sparrow…

    The darkness saw a great light.  That light was Jesus, God’s precious Son. The darkness seeks to extinguish that light.

    This is not possible. 

    …no matter how hard the darkness tries.

    >>>====> God speed Wartburg Watch!

    Takin’ it to the streets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (grin)


    Sopy 🙂
    Glen Campbell – “True Grit”

  52. A Wacoan

    I have always liked Brett Shipp. He has done a yeoman’s job in exposing many inconsistencies both in religious issues and government. He handled Tom Rich’s thing very well. I tried to read an editorial this group wrote that was in the local Waco newspaper but I do not want to buy a subscription. Do you know how it was handled? Any info would be appreciated.

    This is a classic case of he said; she said. I am prone to belief both Brett Shipp and Alex Hannaford of The Texas Observer. Why would two guys just decide to persecute a nice group of people? Form what I know, Brett is a nice guy and sympathetic to people of faith.

  53. I have not seen the Texas Observer piece. And do not know, but Shipp has been attacked by FBC Dallas, Ed’s zoo, and others.

  54. A Wacoan
    He was right about Ed Young and I can imagine what he said about FBC Dallas. I will try to read that as well. I finished watching all 50+minutes of the Homestead response. They did a good job of showing how “nice” everything is at Homestead. They picked their representatives as well.Here is what I am stuck with. Shipp and Hannaford are decent guys and good reporters with solid histories. Why in the world we they choose, willy nilly to “attack” a nice group of people? It makes no sense. I do no subscribe to the “all media is out to destroy Christianity” stuff. There are some jaded reporters but I do not believe that Shipp is one of them. So, I will do more reading.

    One thing bothered me about the response. There was very little said by the head honcho which was deflected by the contention that this is run by a purl leadership. This seems to be little question that there is a central figure. Well, I will sleep on it.

  55. The Texas Observer piece is well reported and references official documents and can be checked. So I suspect that what is reported there is accurate. I had heard a lot of rumors, and there have been local news media articles (before the Waco Trib changed owners from conservative to rabidly conservative).

    Keep in mind that HH is not IN Waco (neither were the Koreshis at the time of the ATF raid), but miles out in the country, and fairly isolated. The site has the Brazos River on one side, and there is one road in from the Farm to Market state highway.

  56. JJ
    I will be talking about Francis Collins today with some new developments in the Creation Wars.

  57. I posted this on the Mothers’ Day thread, but it’s appropriate here due to great similarities to Homestead Heritage. HH is just much larger, but SDC does have some significance as a publisher.
    Catching up on reading, and found a very peculiar webpage from “Sound Doctrine Church” discussed by E G, Haitch, and Sallie on Sat.
    The “Wholesome Talk” page encourages us, “GOT ANYTHING TO SAY? GO AHEAD AND LEAVE A COMMENT!” The caveat is that the comment must be wholesome and moderated according to scripture. Only ONE (1) (slightly less than 2) comment has made it through in over 2 months, which was, “Why leave a comment you never post any.” 
    This commenter is a Christian author who apparently had a really hard time getting her “story” removed from the Winepress publishing website by now-accused-child-rapist and associate pAstor Malcolm Fraser. She is castigated by moderator “Hard Truth”, whom I assume to be pAstor Tim Williams. (Of course, pAstor Williams is standing by his man.) One good line, “So you are drawn into leaving accusatory, derogatory, and non-constructive comments instead of obeying the Bible and engaging in wholesome talk.”
    I wonder, if some of us tried commenting in a wholesome manner using appropriate scripture, if “Hard Truth” would publish our comments. Not me, however… I’m still recovering from Challies deleting the scripture I posted there……

    PS: I noticed their headline verse is Prov. 18:17 The first to present his case seems right until another comes forward and questions him. This verse seems to be very popular of late amongst those wanting “the other side” to be heard, while considering the first side nothing but gossip and slander.
    PPS There’s not much out there about “Sound Doctrine Church” but this: is excellent. Links to an excellent, lengthy article by Glenn Miller on “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority” as well.