“Here's an easy way to figure out if you're in a cult: If you're wondering whether you're in a cult, the answer is yes.” ― Stephen Colbert link
The picture above is one of the last pictures of this family smiling together. They are now estranged. Sadly this happened after they all joined Calvary Temple. This is a story of abuse, manipulation, control and submission. Caveat Emptor. If you have children and enjoy being a family, read what happened to this family. It is the hope of TWW that this church and its activities will become common knowledge. We thank Molly for her willingness to share this painful story of the breakup of their family.
Is Calvary Temple a cult? You decide.
Next week, we will be moving on to some other stories. However, if ex Calvary Temple folks wish to share their stories, we will be happy to post them on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
As I write this, four of my five children, Jonathan, Sarah, Joshua and Christina, are in Calvary Temple in Sterling, VA. I have not seen them since the fall of 2012. I have not met three of my grandchildren.
The beginning of the ending of family togetherness.
We lived in rural New York, until the fall of 2008. Our story began when my daughter Gretel and her friends planned to run away from home. Two of my children were in Virginia for college and attending Calvary Temple church due to the excellent recommendation of New York pastors and elders we knew. Our oldest son Jonathan offered to bring Gretel to Virginia to complete her senior year at the school in Calvary Temple. My husband, our son Joshua, our daughter Christina and I headed to Virginia to have a meeting with the pastors. We agreed that Gretel would attend the school and that I would temporarily stay and take care of her. We purchased a run-down townhouse, remodeled it and moved in. My husband returned to NY, coming to visit us every other weekend. We continued this for some time until he decided to join us permanently.
We had no alarms about Calvary. Many young adults that my kids had befriended came up to NY often to stay and ski or hunt. Many in our circle of family and friends thought these kids were a joy and blessing, and they sure loved their church. We were all impressed. One person did say they had read on the Internet that the church was dividing families. I asked some families we had come to know if there was any truth to that. They said it was not true. That was just the excuse of some people who were just walking away from God.
I was planned to homeschool our younger two children while Gretel finished her senior year. However, the pastors offered to take in our kids so they could make some friends to ease the difficulty of our temporary move. Gretel loved school but the younger two did not. All the youth activities seemed to be just what she needed. However, later she admitted that she did see some things that were not kosher. The hypocrisy grated on her, but being our 'free spirit' she doubted we would believe her observations.
Gretel leaves home and become pregnant.
After graduating from Calvary, she left home twice. Much later, I learned that the pastors/deacon had told her that she was "using us". They made her feel like a burden to us. She did not want to leave our home but thought it was best for the family. This was an awful time for our family. At this juncture, I told our deacon Waleed Zarou, that I believed we were failing her. She was so sad but would not open up to us. Waleed and his wife spent a lot of time counseling Gretel. He advised us to let her go. We postponed our plans to return to NY. I began to feel that I had no energy. At the same time, my husband was spending a lot of time in one-on-one talks with our deacon and other men in the church. He rarely shared with me what those talks were about.
Molly is rebuked by the pastors for allowing Gretel to live with them.
Then we learned that Gretel was pregnant. I was in contact with her regularly, but our deacon requested me to have nothing to do with her. I thanked him for his concern, but reminded Waleed she was my responsibility before God, not his, and I would do as I saw fit. She asked to come home, and, of course, I said yes. The pastors rebuked me for not seeking their approval.
I believe that this incident marked the beginning of my fall from favor at Calvary. I observed that they were treating Gretel rudely and harshly. I began to asking other parents and our deacon why they condoned such behavior. They always seemed to agreed with me that such treatment was not right.
Calvary Temple endorses shunning.
However, in 2014, we heard from two people in her graduating class that the pastor instructed all of the young adults were instructed to shun Gretel. (After leaving Calvary themselves, they came to apologize to her for the cruel treatment. That was so brave of them.)
Noah, Gretel's son is welcomed by the family.
Following the birth of her beautiful son Noah, Gretel proved to be a wonderful mother. My husband and the pastors insisted she had to go to work when he was one month old. I objected, thinking she should continue college and work part time. She had a large enough inheritance with which she could manage on until the baby was school age, if she was frugal. And she could live with us. But the pastors/deacon rebuked me, saying that I should raise Noah while Gretel worked.
I had been offered a full time position with a neurologist in Reston, but my husband told me to turn down the job and raise Noah, according to the pastor's orders. I told them all that I disagreed strongly, but would submit. And I did. I was asked to work a couple days a week at the Calvary school, helping the teachers. I was allowed to take baby Noah along to classes.
During this time at the school, I never saw any spankings, nor was I asked to sign a paper permitting it. I was always very involved with my children's education, in and out of school. I got to know the teachers and their families well or so I thought. They seemed to be the best of people, of high integrity.
None of the young people ever shared with me any stories of abuse. Only one of the adults in those three years hinted at bad things in her marriage. The wife of our kids high school teacher, while on a family vacation with us, shared in vague terms she would leave her husband if she could. I was shocked, and encouraged her to talk to the pastors for help. She dismissed the idea, saying she had but they didn't believe her. I went to our deacon Waleed and said they were struggling. He told me that she was a complainer, and to not listen to her if she tried to talk to me again about it. I had only known this lady for about a year, and thought they knew more about people in their church than I.
Pastor Zarou flees Kenya, allegedly to avoid an arrest warrant and returns to Calvary Temple.
In January of 2011, Pastor Ron Zarou returned to Calvary Temple from the mission field in Kenya. At the time, I did not know he had actually fled Kenya because there was a warrant for his arrest. He was being accused of breaking up families and having underage girls marry members of the church. At Calvary, we were told his life was being threatened for the gospel's sake. We had not met him before this.
A husband is to be obeyed even when he is wrong.
Shortly after Pastor Ron Zarou's return, he informed my husband and me that we would be coming to him for counseling (although we had not sought counseling). They wanted to see how we were getting on with Gretel and the baby in our home The meetings were awful. Pastor Ron Zarou can be cruel with words and no matter the subject, he always took the man's side. It was in these meetings I first heard the concept, that even when a husband is wrong, he is right, and therefore to be obeyed. I told pastor Zarou that when someone's wrong they are wrong, and when they are right, they are right. They do not get a pass on sin because they are a man.
She is accused of being unstable.
This angered pastor Zarou. He said my knowledge of the Bible made me puffed up. Pastor Zarou inferred constantly that I was not a Christian, because I did so many good works. Therefore I must just be a Catholic, trying to earn my salvation. He accused me of trying to influence my husband and said that I was hindering the children's relationship with their Dad. He implied that I was unstable and manipulating because I often cried. He often asked me to start taking anti-depressants because he said my emotions were "over the top." Our New York doctor disagreed, saying my reactions to events were quite normal considering the stress I was under.
Marital stress begins to build.
The stress in my marriage built up. My husband made frequent trips to New York to run our business, but increasingly, on occasion, didn't even tell anyone he was leaving. He started not answering phone calls and I sometimes had to locate him through his mother. One day he announced to our deacon he was going to give away our business! I strongly objected, and was rebuked. He was increasingly irresponsible towards his family, and deferred to the pastors in making decisions.
Was Pastor Scott trying to divide Molly and her husband?
I became afraid. Never in my life had I been timid. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. Was it me, my husband, or pastor Ron, whom I disliked? Never did I think we were being systematically divided through subtle means by Pastor Scott. Although I know at every meeting, we were told that what was being shared was coming from Pastor Scott's heart. He was aware of our situation, cared, and was trying to help us. Only one time did I ask to meet with him personally, and he told our deacon "no." I still believed that we were loved and decided to trust God.
Molly is kicked out of the church and turned over to Satan. She was not allowed to be with her family.
In June of 2011, unable to reach my husband, I returned to New York for a visit, bringing our daughter Christina with me. We had a good week but when I wanted to extend the visit, my husband insisted that we return to Virginia. I didn't want to go back, but obeyed. When I arrived in Virginia I was immediately called into a meeting with all my children, two pastors and Pastor Scott's wife Greer. I was accused of being rebellious and told I was being "marked." This meant I was turned over to Satan for the destruction of my flesh so my soul would be saved. I was told I was leaven and could not be in church or with my family. There was no explanation. Sobbing, I asked why. I was told to submit to chastening and then I would be allowed back. I was told my husband approved of the discipline to "break" me.
She is rejected by her husband and oldest son and her daughter is taken from her.
When I returned to my home after the meeting, I was left with only my youngest daughter Christina. I begged my children to stop this, but my oldest son told me I was rebellious because I had gone to New York without asking Dad. By phone, my husband said that the pastors were going to take Christina from me due to my rebellion. He was yelling, I was sobbing and asked why. He said because I was in rebellion to the pastors authority. They took Christina away a day later, having her go live with her brother. They got her to say I was 'leaven to be purged.' My husband came to Virginia and informed me he was putting me away in a motel until I was broken. I protested saying it was wrong and that Pastor Scott would never agree to that. I said it was cultish. He said they had told him to put me out in the street. The motel was a kindness I didn't deserve. In front of me, he called the pastors and I heard them tell my husband that it was a great idea.
She is told to live out of motels and is not given enough food.
I lived in a series of motels for nearly 6 weeks. My husband took my wallet and car, bringing me food every other day or so. I lost 35 pounds during that time; so he accused me of manipulation by not eating. Pastor Zarou called about once a week to talk to me, warning me not to commit suicide even though I had not threatened to do so. I was crying and said he could do anything he wanted to me but begged him to let me go back to my children. I was warned me that I would not see the children again unless I submitted to the chastening. I was told to not contact any family or friends in New York. I later learned that my children had been told I had left home and abandoned the family.
At the end of six weeks, my husband was told to bring me my wallet, key and car. I was told to pick up some clothes at home while the kids were in school, and get a job to support myself until the pastors felt I was entirely broken. I was cautioned again to not contact anyone in New York or my kids. I was not supposed to call my husband. If he wanted to talk with me, he would initiate the call. I was told to wait for calls from Pastor Zarou and he would see if I was broken enough to come home. Pastor Zarou called me every ten days or so to question me to see if I was broken and repentant. I prayed constantly for God to show me how to answer him, because nothing I said made him happy.
I was rebuked for reading the Bible too much and told to read a Catholic mystic's writings.
Ron Zarou rebuked me for reading the Bible so much and encouraged me to read more of Fenelon, a Catholic mystic. I was rebuked for knowing so much of the Bible and for losing my phone twice, proving my instability. I was so frightened of Pastor Zarou's reaction that I lied about denting our car. I was afraid he would not allow me to see my children and come home. I ended up telling him the truth, to which he told me Pastor Scott had been considering letting me come home, but this proved I was not right with God. He said I should tell them everything even if it meant I could not see my family for two more months. And so it was two more months before I was allowed home.
Those days and weeks are a hellish memory. I was able to get a job as a greeter at Dicks in the mall. I had been offered a job at a doctors office near the church. But Ron Zarou told me to turn it down because other Calvary members worked there. He said it would be too conflicting for them because they could not talk to me, as I was marked. My husband paid a down payment for me to rent a room from an older Taiwanese woman who barely spoke English. Pastor Zarou's wife Tara brought me the cash, from my husband, to pay for it. My paycheck was deposited in our joint account.
Through all of this I somehow existed. Family and friends from New York tried to reach me, but I did not answer the calls. I was too afraid. When my two youngest children had their birthdays, I asked Pastor Ron if I could give them a gift. He said they would let me know, and when it was approved, his wife Tara picked up the gifts to give to them.I was not allowed to call them at all.
Finally. Molly is allowed to go home.
After ninety three days, my husband texted me. I was so scared I actually called Pastor Zarou to ask if it was ok to respond. He was pleased that I did this he said. He asked me then if I thought I was ready to come home. I responded "I don't know pastor Ron, what do you think?" He told me that was a very encouraging response. Please hear me clearly, I knew that this was wrong, what they were doing. But I also knew my kids needed me and were under their control. And I would do whatever it took to get back with my family.
That night my husband brought me home. My two youngest children asked their dad if the pastors knew that I had been brought home. They were actually afraid of me. Instructions from Pastor Zarou were that I was to let my husband make all decisions and not to tell the children anything about the past three months of chastening, as it might elicit sympathy for me.
Upon my return, I learned that Gretel and her son Noah had been kicked out of my daughter Sarah's house a month earlier. The reason? She had texted Noah's father in New York and agreed to meet him. At the direction of leadership, my husband took Noah from Gretel and kept them apart for a week. Noah cried so much that my husband finally gave him back to Gretel. She found a room in a basement. I don't know how she existed. but she was a wonderful mother. Upon my return, my husband would not let me see Noah or babysit him unless he was present. I was not allowed to talk to Gretel, and the other children avoided me.
Molly's life is rigidly controlled.
Life became a cycle of working, silence, and tears. I worked several jobs, was not allowed to make any decisions, and could not have any input into my children's lives.I was to be silent and work. I rarely was in church because I worked a lot of evenings and Sunday's. I did not need to work because we owned a profitable business. The pastors wanted me to work, so my influence would not be felt in the home. I cried when no one was looking. When I went to New York, everyone worried about me, saying I seemed like a robot. I could not tell them anything because I was afraid the pastors would find out.
Early December of 2011, my husband insisted I go with him to New York for 10 days. It meant leaving the younger (ages 18 and 15) children behind in the townhouse, but I was told to obey. When we returned, Gretel came to speak with my husband. When our eldest and his wife saw my husband and Gretel talking, they were extremely displeased. In church the next night, our two eldest children rebuked my husband, in front of several people, for talking to Gretel who was put away!
Kicked out of the church and her family because she was 10%in darkness.
Then my son Jon asked me if I had anything to say. This was the first time since I was brought home that I had been acknowledged as having any say in the family. Although I knew I he wanted me to agree, I was so ashamed of my son that I told him he had no right to humiliate his father like that publicly. That night I was kicked out of church a second time. I was given no reason why. My husband was a pawn in the pastor's hands; he did whatever they said.
For the next two weeks I was not allowed to talk to the family, go to school events or to church. On Christmas Day, 2011, my family told me I was still in darkness and needed to be broken further. I was to told to leave our home and find a way to support myself. They said that perhaps in 2 months, or perhaps 8 months, I would be allowed back if I submitted to the chastening of the Lord. My husband said that I was "a good wife" and my eldest son said that I was "a great mom", but I still had to be broken because I was "90% good, but 10% darkness"
What followed is crazy. My husband was told to file for custody of our youngest child. He cleared out our bank account, changed the locks on our home without telling me. He never answered any calls, neither did any of the children. My husband told the court I was rebellious, as did my older children. Ironically it was the court that showed I was probably too obedient, and that was how the church gained control of my family.
Finally I was offered custody, but was told that if she ran away from my home she would have to put into foster care. I finally gave up the battle, allowing her to live with one of my other children. I could not subject her to foster care; at least I knew she would be with her siblings. Through this whole mess, the pastors and their wives were behind the scenes, calling the shots to my children via cell phones. They listened in on our conversations without our knowledge. A policeman noticed it and let me know.
The pastors directed the children what to do and say along the way. But they were to own the decision as from themselves. During those days, I could not understand why the kids were behaving like this. It was like they had become mindless robots. It was only after people who had already left or been kicked out of the church, came to me and shared identical stories. They said that the children were being prepped by the church to eventually ditch their families when Pastor Scott said to do so.
This has been a nightmare but one that has been shared by other former members of Calvary Temple
It has been a nightmare and I held back from telling my story at first. It is longer and worse than space here permits. I now know that many families, like mine, have been destroyed by this church. People say little, because by and large, like me they are just plain, good folks and can hardly believe it is happening; let alone try to explain HOW it is happening.
Former pastors will not speak out.
I keep reaching out to my children, thinking that somehow they will listen and realize how evil it is to do this. I have reached out to Pastor Scott, but he does not respond. Every pastor or deacon that has left Calvary Temple is afraid of him and will not speak out. I have asked some of them for help.
- Pastor Richard Miller is a former CT pastor who now pastors his own church. He has a son who is a pastor in CT with Pastor Scott. He told me to just forget my children and move on until God opens their eyes.
- Pastor Wayne Hughes,a former Ct pastor in NY, said that he would not speak against his former pastor.
- Pastor Tony Wozniak, a former missionary for CT and now operating a church in New York, to trust God, and that writing about what happened with my children is not right.
She is reunited with her husband and her daughter, Gretel.
How does anyone explain this? How does a mother forget her children? So I stay hidden, cry privately, write my children (not knowing if they read my letters), and pray. I know God is going to bring justice one day, and that my children will be with me again. I am waiting for them. We are all waiting for them. My husband and I are together again. Our daughter Gretel has forgiven her dad for putting all of us away, and forgiven her mom for not seeing through the pastors sooner.
Many former Calvary Temple members are suffering.
I hope people will be kind to all who speak up. We are suffering. This could happen to any person who is not accustomed to devious men. When you speak to anyone in CT, by and large, you will be impressed with how well spoken, kind, thoughtful, gracious, ethical, hard working and Christlike they are.
Unfortunately, underneath and behind-the-scenes, wicked deeds are being done in Gods name and it is shipwrecking the faith of many. Calvary Temple is not what it purports to be. We arrived in the fall of 2008, welcomed with our wayward child, and the church slowly divided us from each other. They did this very quietly through the youth programs until they were able to get rid of me at the end of 2011, and my husband a few months later. What parents hear in church is not what they (pastors, teachers, coaches) are telling the children when they are alone with them.
I am grateful for Brandon's willingness to start his blog to warn people early in 2012. His courage gave me courage to start mine to my children. Brandon and his brother Josh were friends of our eldest son Jonathan. I did not know Brandon's story of abuse until after I was "put away."
Please join with TWW in praying for Molly's family as well as spreading the word about the allegations of abuse by the leaders at Calvary Temple.