Word of Faith Fellowship (Spindale, NC) Accused by Ex-Members of Being a Cult – Part 1

"Congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to "purify" sinners by beating out devils, 43 former members told The Associated Press in separate, exclusive interviews."

Associated Press

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-IL5xG-UcEScreen Shot of Church Sign from AP Video

TRIGGER WARNING!!!

The information in this post is NOT for the faint of heart. Please proceed with caution…

Several days ago there was a barrage of information from news outlets about a church in western North Carolina – Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) – which former members accused of being a cult. The Associated Press conducted a year long investigation and broke the story (see opening commentary below).

SPINDALE, N.C. (AP) — From all over the world, they flocked to this tiny town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lured by promises of inner peace and eternal life. What many found instead: years of terror — waged in the name of the Lord.

Congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to "purify" sinners by beating out devils, 43 former members told The Associated Press in separate, exclusive interviews.

Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies, who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked to banish demons.

And if that's not horrible enough, here is an AP Exclusive video that reveals how terror continues to haunt former members of Word of Faith Fellowship.

WYFF Channel 4 filed the following report.

And WSPA Channel 7 News aired two segments about WOFF (see below).

Word of Faith Fellowship has issued a statement in response to the AP investigation.  Go here.

This isn't the first time Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) has come under scrutiny. In October 2015 a former WOFF member was interviewed by WLOS News 13. His name is John Huddle, and he has written a book entitled "Locked In". In it he describes what it was like to be a member of this large, controversial mountain church from which he escaped in 2008. Unfortunately, Huddle still has family involved in WOFF, and he is understandably concerned about them.

But there is MUCH MUCH MORE to this story. Believe it or not, Inside Edition did a shocking segment on Word of Faith Fellowship way back in 1995. And that's not the only instance where it has garnered scrutiny in the past. Next week we will continue our coverage on this terribly disturbing story and share some of the history of the church and its leader.

Please keep those who have been hurt by leaders in Word of Faith Fellowship in your prayers — from grown-ups to babies. 🙁


Comments

Word of Faith Fellowship (Spindale, NC) Accused by Ex-Members of Being a Cult – Part 1 — 319 Comments

  1. Here is psychologist/author/Undue Influence expert Steve Hassan’s website about
    how high control groups/Thought Reform groups work to exert Undue Influence over
    people. It is the BITE Model. That stands for Behavior Control, Information Control,
    Thought Control, and Emotional Control. (It is based on the work of Hassan’s mentor,
    Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, former Air Force psychiatrist now at Yale University, who
    studied the Chinese Communists and their control of people.)

    https://freedomofmind.com/bite-model/

  2. I noticed it before and here again, another instance where a church sign strikes me as one I would expect for a cemetery. It may be my prejudice or it may be a symbol representing truth.

  3. No root beer, Cheerwine, TV, ping pong, or Christmas… 🙁

    In all seriousness, let's pray that this so-called church will finally face justice.

  4. Oh good, the fourth news video in the article about this “church”/cult has psychologist/author Steve Hassan at about the 2 minute mark. Good stuff that Steve presents.

  5. Deb wrote:

    No root beer, Cheerwine ,TV, ping pong, or Christmas…
    In all seriousness, let’s pray that this so-called church will finally face justice.

    Yes.

    It always makes me want to put together care packages for the folks who got out, whose parents won’t speak to them, so that someone honors those who left on their birthdays,
    Christmas, etc. Does anyone do nice things for them during these special times?

    I join Deb in saying we need to pray for them.

  6. deb wrote:

    @ Velour:
    I’m impressed that they interviewed Hassan. They have obviously done their homework!

    Indeed, Deb!

  7. I looked over Hassan’s BITE model and it describes my former cult quite well.

    In behavior control, I was required to report my sinful thoughts, feelings, and activities to superiors or risk eternal damnation. They attempted to modify my behavior with rewards that only leadership could hand out. They restricted my leisure time, requiring fasting on certain special days. They regulated what I could eat on certain days.

    In information control, they required that I submit my mind with docile to their teaching. Only they could properly interpret the word of God. At least once a year I was required to meet with my superior and give an account of my thoughts and feelings.

    In thought control, I was instilled with “us vs. them” thinking. I was reminded often that salvation was only available through them. All other sources of truth were deficient. They encouraged inducing trance states through repetitive prayers to indoctrinate, using excessive meditation. Many of the leaders, including the head honcho, we’re required to change their identity, their name. One changed his name an identity from Jorge to Francis.

    In emotional control, I was instilled with irrational fears of questioning or leaving the group. I was told that I could not be saved outside the group. I was told that anyone who knew the groups teachings and refused to enter or stay in the group were damned. I was told that they spoke for God, that the leader was the spiritual head of all the earth. They were the only ones who could make Jesus come down to earth. They claimed that they were “alter Christus” – another Christ. They promoted feelings of guilt and unworthiness.

  8. Velour wrote:

    It always makes me want to put together care packages for the folks who got out, whose parents won’t speak to them

    these ‘parents’ betrayed their babies long before the children left the cult ….. so, not speaking to their children seems a continuation rather than an abrupt ending to the way the children were treated all along

    I read about the infants being beaten and I said ‘cult’ . . . . for me, that was enough, although the rest of the story is so very horrible

  9. @ Dale:

    I am glad that you found Steve Hassan’s BITE Model useful in evaluating your former
    cult.

    I too found it a useful tool in evaluating mine.

    In case anyone is looking for this information in the future, I have saved it at the top of the page under the Interesting tab/the Books/Movies/TV/ETC. tab for future reference.

  10. Christiane wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    It always makes me want to put together care packages for the folks who got out, whose parents won’t speak to them
    these ‘parents’ betrayed their babies long before the children left the cult ….. so, not speaking to their children seems a continuation rather than an abrupt ending to the way the children were treated all along
    I read about the infants being beaten and I said ‘cult’ . . . . for me, that was enough, although the rest of the story is so very horrible

    I know, Christiane. I had to brace myself as I listened to the news stories.

  11. @ Velour:
    I wonder if the abuse-supporting monsters known as the Pearls originated out of this very sick ‘tradition’ of child and infant abuse?

    I wouldn’t be surprised. Pretty sick stuff, yes.

  12. Christiane wrote:

    @ Velour:
    I wonder if the abuse-supporting monsters known as the Pearls originated out of this very sick ‘tradition’ of child and infant abuse?
    I wouldn’t be surprised. Pretty sick stuff, yes.

    I’ve wondered that myself.

    We had that horrible case here in California of a “Christian” couple in Northern California (Paradise, CA) adopting two girls from an African orphanage and beating them with plastic plumbing pipes. One of the girls died. All of the children were taken out of the home and put in protective custody. The prosecutor and law enforcement had never seen a case this bad.

    The Pearls defended the practice. Smiles on their faces, in their own twisted world.

  13. @ Velour:
    I remember that story. The parents were sent to prison. The little African girl who survived was also terribly beaten. The pictures of the parents looked like ‘normal’ people ….. which shows you how evil cults like these are to poison and spread their destructiveness into the minds and hearts of their members ……

    it occurs that some people are drawn to the very settings that validate their own meanness, and there they find a ‘god’ worshiped who is small and hateful and cruel

    May God have mercy on the children in such places

  14. “Congregants…were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to “purify” sinners by beating out devils…”

    These thugs have managed to make Scientology auditing look like a walk in the park.

  15. Christiane wrote:

    it occurs that some people are drawn to the very settings that validate their own meanness, and there they find a ‘god’ worshiped who is small and hateful and cruel

    Indeed.

    And such people would be threatened by a God that is loving and ethical, because then they would have to rise to the occasion too.

  16. Listening to these videos really got to me. When I heard Jane Whaley scream “Stop it” it actually sounded like someone demon possessed or that she has a mental illness. I am so glad that the God I believe in doesn’t teach hurting people,(slamming people to the ground, punching them, etc.) like this cult does. My God is a God of ultimate love for you and I. Not this garbage cult that this is. My heart goes out to all those hurt by this cult. I pray they find the true loving God that I know. I like the rest of you believe this cult needs to be punished to the nth degree. Jane Whaley belongs in a mental institution. The others who did all the physical harm belong in jail.

  17. Harley wrote:

    Jane Whaley belongs in a mental institution.

    I think she belongs in prison. These are crimes — felonies. This a criminal conspiracy, an agreement among two or more people.

    The “insanity” defense is very hard to use in a court of law. Basically if someone can tell the difference between a judge and a grapefruit than they are “sane”. It’s a low threshold.

  18. I’m reading “Young, Restless & No Longer Reformed” by Austin Fischer. Regardless of the church or theology, when you believe you have a mandate from heaven, all cards are off the table.
    There are so many parallels between this cult & People’s Church that I sincerely hope the authorities intervene.
    This woman is dangerous. Look what Jim Jones did when the jig was up.

  19. Jack wrote:

    Look what Jim Jones did when the jig was up

    My father used to take us kids by the Peoples’ Temple in San Francisco and describe the bizarre behavior of Jim Jones. And that was before the mass murders in Jonestown, Guyana.

  20. Deb wrote:

    No root beer, Cheerwine, TV, ping pong, or Christmas…

    In all seriousness, let’s pray that this so-called church will finally face justice.

    When I read St Thomas More’s Utopia I knew I wouldn’t want to live there because in that “utopia” there were no pubs.

  21. Harley wrote:

    When I heard Jane Whaley scream “Stop it” it actually sounded like someone demon possessed or that she has a mental illness.

    I think she does have a mental illness and she has sucked some people into her delusions. It is very sad.

  22. Dew wrote:

    When I read St Thomas More’s Utopia I knew I wouldn’t want to live there because in that “utopia” there were no pubs.

    This is mankind’s search for rules to follow instead of understanding grace. More can check off *no pubs* on his holiness list and that means that he is going to heaven.

  23. NJ wrote:

    These thugs have managed to make Scientology auditing look like a walk in the park.

    Congratulations Word of Faith Fellowship (Spindale, NC)! You’re worse than Scientology in one area!

    The head of Scientology, David Miscavige, is (credibly, in my mind) accused of smacking and beating up on people in the Sea Org. But he’s just one person. This appears to be throughout the Jane Whaley cult.

    On a more serious note, I would like to say thank you to the reporters who pursued this story and the people who came out to give us this information. It takes a LOT of work to get the stories of 43 people corroborated and get it past lawyers (and you know the TV station/reporters ran this by the attorneys). I’m hoping the former members are now finding healing as well as vindication. This took exceptional bravery. Thank you!!!!!

  24. Velour wrote:

    And that was before the mass murders in Jonestown, Guyana.

    Interesting that this group has satellite churches in Guyana & Brazil. Preparations for a move to the “promised land” away from the scrutiny of US law enforcement?

  25. Jack wrote:

    This woman is dangerous. Look what Jim Jones did when the jig was up.

    When they said they had a church in Ghana at first I heard it Guyana. Watch out if they try to move for sure. What a terrible story.

  26. @ Dale:
    Thanks for the correct information. Either way, it seems like they are preparing bolt holes. I sincerely hope that in this day and age they will have a much more difficult time taking children out of the country.

  27. Harley wrote:

    When I heard Jane Whaley scream “Stop it” it actually sounded like someone demon possessed or that she has a mental illness.

    Good is evil. Evil is good.

  28. Dale wrote:

    One of my sinful pleasures: Cheerwine float from Cook Out. I didn’t know it was of the devil.

    Oddly enough Dale (no offense meant, merely an observation), in evangelical protestantism, pleasure = sin.

  29. In reviewing Word of Faith Fellowship’s website, I discovered that they hold to five ordinances. Baptism, repentance, communion, the laying on of hands, and government.

    Of course, “goverment” refers to Heb. 13:17. Submit!!!!! Or experience the ordinance of the laying on of hands.

  30. Dale wrote:

    I looked over Hassan’s BITE model and it describes my former cult quite well.

    From all the little indirect hints, “My former cult” = Romish Popery.

    Ex-Catholic gone NO POPERY! Same Communism-to-Objectivism dynamic you see in Furry Fandom with pathological Furry Haters, just as FURRRREEEEEE as any 500-pound Furvert from the pages a Shawn Keller comic, flipped one-eighty but equally zealous.

  31. @ Muff Potter:
    for the Whalley cult, pleasure may have been ‘sin’, but it looks like violent abuse was their acceptable entertainment ….. I wonder if they had ‘designated victims’ that they always abused as a way of bonding together as a cult, kind of like poor Piggy and Ralph in ‘The Lord of the Flies’? Or maybe Whalley chose victims at random for sacrifice? Mentally ill? Or just a breakdown of the civilized codes that keep supposedly ‘normal’ people from descending into savagery?

    The more ‘puritanical’ the society, the more witches will be burned…… yet sooner or later, the prideful purified become the real monsters, you bet.

  32. I thought about the possibility of mass suicide, but the theory of emigration to avoid prosecution is also valid. I hope the FBI is keeping an eye on their movements.

    Isn’t it amazing that members were so afraid of this religious Nurse Ratched that nobody ever thought she might have a few demons needing to be whacked out of her?

  33. NJ wrote:

    These thugs have managed to make Scientology auditing look like a walk in the park.

    You’re right, auditing isn’t this bad. But the Co$ can be just as violent, thanks to its current dictator, David Miscavige.

    He even made a kind of gulag especially for Scientology executives who had fallen out of favour with him.
    It was nicknamed “The Hole”, and hazings, humiliations and beatings were allegedly a part of daily life there.

    Sadly, the WOFF seems to have its own version of that: https://www.apnews.com/10ec0dce8ddb437e80e6052cbc4f6576/Former-disciples-describe-storage-annex-for-'worst-sinners?utm_content=buffer6207c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Be warned: Sick, sick stuff in this article.

  34. Again from there website: “God has revealed to us that demonic oppression is present in those who have been born again as well as those who have not.”

    Blast: “Any strong demonstration of the Holy Spirit… including shrill cries for Christ (ed.) to be formed in us and others and to come against the temptations of the devil.”

    My observation: What a toxic combination. Can you get a sense of what it would be like to be a child in such an authoritarian environment where the adults are screaming in shrill voices and commanding demons to come out?

  35. One thing I would like to know based on some of the allegations: has anyone, adult or child, sustained permanent brain damage from their demon expelling sessions?

  36. NJ wrote:

    One thing I would like to know based on some of the allegations: has anyone, adult or child, sustained permanent brain damage from their demon expelling sessions?

    Shaken baby syndrome is a real possibility!

  37. Christiane wrote:

    for the Whalley cult, pleasure may have been ‘sin’, but it looks like violent abuse was their acceptable entertainment

    I think it’s just a natural outgrowth of the influence Hellenism had on Christianity. The Hellenistic ideals of ethereal perfection do not allow for Earthly pleasure as a legitimate source of enjoyment. No such ethos exists in Judaism, it’s foreign to their religion.

  38. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    flipped one-eighty but equally zealous.

    I have a theory about that sort of thing. A close relative had a father-in-law who had been raised in pre-vatican II catholicism and had wanted to be a priest but had a police record which he said would have prevented that. He converted to fundamentalist style baptist-ism and became an ordained baptist minister and a missionary in a predominately catholic country. He was zealously anti-catholic and zealously fundamentalist baptist, zealous being even too mild a word almost, or so it seemed to me.

    I do not think he went 180 degrees, however. It has been said that the opposite of love is not h*te; the opposite of love is indifference. Perhaps that is the explanation. Indifference precludes zealotry, and perhaps the zealotry itself is the ‘fix’ that some people may need for whatever reason.

  39. These accounts break my heart. As a cult survivor, I can certainly relate, to the accounts presented here, and account for their accuracy. Dee and TWW covered a series on Calvary Temple, a cult located in Sterling, VA, to which I contributed. Unfortunately, these abusive cults exist all over the world. I protested across the street from CT for a year. The Loudoun County sheriff’s office still has not moved forward to help the children that came forward with accounts of sexual abuse, and convict the perpetrators. These cult leaders are smart. They know, like in the cases of some of WOFF, that fear keeps people from coming forward until it’s too late and the statute of limitations has run out. One of the clips showed a gentleman who is trying to get these laws changed…not sure what he has in mind, but unfortunately, it is too late for so many of these victims. I stand against places like this. I stand Against Calvary Temple #exposecalvarytemple.

    And lastly, I wanted to say HI! to Dee and TWW. Keep up the great work, Dee! Sending you love and prayers.

  40. Christiane wrote:

    @ Dale:
    where do you get this stuff, Dale???

    Jack Chick, Alberto Rivera, Maria Monk, Papa Chuck Smith, Raul Rees, Chiniquy, Hislop, 500-year-old Reformation Wars propaganda?

    Funny thing about Bible-Believing Christians. The only reason they HAVE a Bible to believe is the Bishops of that Romish Cult (and the EO – the Eastern & Western Churches hadn’t divorced at the time) prevented all the Shirley Mac Laine types from rewriting it in their own image back when years AD were in the low three digits.

  41. @ Christiane:
    Muff Potter wrote:

    The Hellenistic ideals of ethereal perfection do not allow for Earthly pleasure as a legitimate source of enjoyment. No such ethos exists in Judaism, it’s foreign to their religion.

    By ‘Hellenistic, I think you mean the Spartans rather than the cultured Athenians?
    I found something in Wiki that suggests a modern Spartan influence in Israel which makes sense for their survival, being surrounded by enemies:
    “Certain early Zionists, and particularly the founders of Kibbutz movement in Israel, had been influenced by Spartan ideals, particularly as a model for education. Tabenkin, for example, a founding father of the Kibbutz and the Palmach, was influenced by Spartan education. He prescribed that education for warfare “should begin from the nursery”, that children should from kindergarten age be taken to “spend nights in the mountains and valleys””
    I do know that military training is mandatory for both males and females in Israel, and they are very serious about it too. So maybe the Wiki report has some teeth. Traditionally, Judaism is more inclined to celebrate life with joy, as opposed to the Spartan influence except for the strange group outside of Jerusalem in the mountains: the people of Qumran, whose way of living was spare and minimal or you might say ‘spartan’ in the Hellenistic sense of the word, if not monastic.

  42. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Headless, one of these days, I’ll ask you ‘what on Earth is ‘furry fandom’ all about. Would have done it before, but was afraid of the possible answers. 🙂

  43. @ Dale:
    Just taking one thing that you find a negative, I know that the Church may give a new name when there is a special reason to do it,
    but that is not so much ‘catholic’ as a part of our whole Judaic-Christian tradition …. Abram became Abraham, Simon Bar-Jonah became Cephas (Peter) …
    when I was confirmed, I received a confirmation name which I use here ‘Christiane’.

    So when Bergoglio became Francis, was it so strange considering the situation? I don’t see it as problem but I do realize that you have a negative view of it, yes.

    There are so many other issues, but this is not the place to discuss them and certainly not in a way that is disrespectful.

    If you care to ever share your home parish (name and location) which you were so troubled by, I can take a look at it and try to understand better. But only if you are inclined to share … no pressure from me.

  44. Christiane wrote:

    By ‘Hellenistic, I think you mean the Spartans rather than the cultured Athenians?

    No, not necessarily. The culture of Sparta would be incidental. Greek philosophy in a broad and general sense is what I meant, and that it was indeed incorporated into Christianity via Stoicism and Platonism. The writings of St. Paul are redolent with it.

  45. Muff Potter wrote:

    and that it was indeed incorporated into Christianity via Stoicism and Platonism.

    Along with their view of easily angered gods who require appeasement through torture and and human sacrifice.

  46. @ Muff Potter:
    Sounds like you have explored the influences of difference philosophies on early Christianity. I am aware that Western Christianity has been impacted differently than Eastern Christianity, but I do not know all of the finer points involved.

    I do know that if the best of Eastern and Western Christianity could be put back together again, we would all benefit from the enriching balance that resulted. (my godmother was of Ukrainian descent)

  47. The problem of physically and emotionally abusing people in some Christian Churches and thinking it is Christian ‘discipline’ or in some cults, ‘driving out demons’ …… finding out more about where this thinking comes from may be VERY apropo to the topic of this post.

    But I suspect the answers are complicated, maybe more philosophical than theological. (?)

  48. Dale wrote:

    Can you get a sense of what it would be like to be a child in such an authoritarian environment where the adults are screaming in shrill voices and commanding demons to come out?

    I can’t bear to think of it.

    Why does it take so long to get something done about abuse like this?

    I was reading another story yesterday, about the so-called “Christian” boot camp, “Solid Rock Ministries.” The policeman who investigated and witnessed egregious behavior spent years trying to get officials to care and do something about it.

    I cannot understand how people can do things like this to children and I cannot understand the people who don’t care- who have the power to do something about it and won’t bother. Why do the images that haunt you and me mean nothing to other people?

  49. Has this blog become a Catholic apologetics blog? I am all for live and let live but honestly the subject is not the Catholic church and I’m sick of how every subject seems to turn into this, can we just let it go?

  50. @ siteseer:

    And Dale, I’m not aiming that at you. I believe you have every right to speak of what you’ve experienced without being censured.

  51. What a terrible situation. I don’t even know what to say. I never heard of Spindale before, down on the SC border it seems. Please don’t think that everybody in our mountains and foothills do this sort of thing. I do know the cause however. Evil. Not inbreeding or ignorance or poverty or white lightening or evolution. Evil. But what if somebody like this woman is mentally ill? There is no scientific evidence that mental illness protects anybody from the influence of evil. Just saying.

  52. Dale wrote:

    I looked over Hassan’s BITE model and it describes my former cult quite well.

    Dale, what you wrote seems applicable to many Protestant churches today that are not considered to be cults. The elements of the BITE model are there, but may not be as obvious as you have experienced.

  53. okrapod wrote:

    There is no scientific evidence that mental illness protects anybody from the influence of evil.

    Even our perfect ‘first parents’ before the Fall succumbed to the influence of evil.

    Huge controversy in Christianity:
    ‘what is the origin of evil?’

  54. Ken G wrote:

    The elements of the BITE model are there, but may not be as obvious as you have experienced.

    Speaking from experience as a slow learner, subtle is much more effective for some people. The Evil One has something for everyone’s taste.

  55. @ Ken G:

    Several times in my life I was in a situation which had some of the characteristics of a cult. They controlled my time and what I wore and when I ate and they required me to believe what they told me. I even had to prove to them that I had personalized their teachings. There was pretty routine sleep deprivation and even hunger at times. I had to keep my emotions under control regardless of the situation. And they threatened me with being banned from the situation if I failed to meet their specifications. But I was allowed to go to the bathroom as needed.

    That would have been (1) a hospital based nursing school program (2) med school and (3) four post-grad years (PGY). Pre-med at the university was a piece of cake compared to that.

    Hint of something I learned during all that: you have to have either sleep or food but you do not necessarily have to have both. You can survive and function for quite a while as long as you have one or the other even if you do not have both. True. I am not being silly. Really true. I prefer sleep.

  56. @ Dale:

    Dale,

    Would you please take the Catholic discussion over to the Open Discussion thread and see if anyone joins you over there. Thanks.

  57. okrapod wrote:

    Several times in my life I was in a situation which had some of the characteristics of a cult.

    It sounded like you were describing military training…

  58. okrapod wrote:

    Several times in my life I was in a situation which had some of the characteristics of a cult.

    The distinguishing factor in your situation was you voluntarily signed up to go to school — nursing, medical — and knew what you had signed up for. Your thoughts and decisions were still your own and were not subjected to Undue Influence, where others noticed a radical change in your personality and you were no longer “you”. You could walk away from it all and still keep your relationships to your family and friends.

  59. Ken F wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    Several times in my life I was in a situation which had some of the characteristics of a cult.
    It sounded like you were describing military training…

    That was my thought as well, although I knew where she was going!

    None of these things are really cults but they might have some elements. That’s why, as Gram said, sometimes subtle is very effective. Where something tilts over into cult is not always clear, but I think this WOF stuff is not one of those unclear cases.

  60. Ken F wrote:

    It sounded like you were describing military training…

    In the nursing program many of the instructors and some of the floor supervisors had served in the navy as nurses during the war. There was definitely some military-like influence to some extent in how they worked and what they expected and how they taught. But it was a Baptist hospital. Meanwhile two of the Catholic hospitals in town had some nuns involved in nursing education and supervision and where I interned the hospital was owned and operated by nuns-before Vatican II-and there was some influence of convent life in how they did, or so they told us. Very strict and detail oriented.

    Things were very different back when. When we were doing introductory first aid in med school one of the female students was reprimanded for wearing slacks to first aid class-slacks were not permitted for women at all at all. Pendulums swing widely with time.

  61. Velour wrote:

    You could walk away from it all and still keep your relationships to your family and friends.

    That’s not always true. Many young adults are pressured (for one reason or another) into careers involving training such as this. Or there might be big student loans or required military service involved. For many, walking away is a theoretical choice at best. I can understand this type of training for professions requiring people to work and think while under intense pressure, such as firefighters, search and rescue, medical trauma, police, military, etc. But I have a harder time understanding circumstance where performing under pressure should be required in church.

  62. Loren Haas wrote:

    Just got back from seeing The Shack

    I saw it this morning. TGC, Challies, and DG have all posted articles against it, but none of the big names have weighed in yet. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. I’m guessing the big name YRRs will stay out of it so as to not bring attention to the movie, it unless the movie gets a lot of attention on its own.

  63. Lea wrote:

    That’s why, as Gram said, sometimes subtle is very effective.

    It is. What nurses’ training, as it was called back then aimed to do, and in fact accomplished was not just to teach us nursing but rather also to form in us the identity of nurse. Once a nurse always a nurse-that was the goal and that is what happened. And the regimentation and the gradations of uniform and the stratification of skill level as represented by slight changes in the uniform, and the standing when certain people entered the nurses’ station, and the rules about who had to stand back for whom when entering the elevator, and the rules against socializing outside one’s realm (no socializing between students and RNs for example) and the rules against getting married before completing the program. no going out the front door of the dorm while in uniform, elaborate procedures for when you did or did not wear your cap, curfew, limited access to phone, TV for two hours in the TV room followed by prayer meeting (that was optional)-and goodness knows what I have forgotten.

    Now like Velour pointed out we were free to drop out of the program, but we would lost everything that we had gained in doing so. It was not like college where you can lay out a semester and go back. You either saw it through or you did not. Even so, we were not in any way prisoners, that is for sure.

    I showed my DIL our group graduation picture and she burst out laughing and said ‘it looks like the Borg.’ Well, to some extent we had become identified with both a skill and a way of life. But we were very proud of ourselves. I got a phone call from my old roommate on our 50th year reunion and she reminisced and then said ‘we were so tough’. Yes, we were. That was very useful actually until the culture changed and everything with it and new ways had to be learned.

  64. @ Ken F:
    The book was very, very moving. I never got the controversy though. Wade Burleson wrote about it on his blog, and I read a lot of the comments, but it just didn’t make sense, all that commotion. It was a good book. It was ‘fiction’ using powerful theological themes, but it was fiction. So many people were offended ….. ????

  65. Christiane wrote:

    I never got the controversy though.

    Me neither. But based on what Challies and other have written about it, I am now some kind of idol-worshiping heretic. If the YRRs keep writing like that, it will probably encourage more people to see it.

  66. Christiane wrote:

    It was ‘fiction’ using powerful theological themes, but it was fiction. So many people were offended

    That is why. It was mixing fiction with theology and many people thought it could be misunderstood and could be misleading to a lot of people. There are indeed people who cannot flip into and out of fantasy to well. I did not like the book and threw it into the garbage after reading it (as opposed to giving it to goodwill to keep it in circulation), but I did not have some sort of religious nervous breakdown over it. I just thought ‘for crying out loud’ and tossed it.

  67. Ken F wrote:

    If the YRRs keep writing like that, it will probably encourage more people to see it.

    ‘forbidden fruit’ …. I bet they will run into each other in the theater 🙂 (karma)

  68. Ken F wrote:

    Many young adults are pressured (for one reason or another) into careers involving training such as this. Or there might be big student loans or required military service involved. For many, walking away is a theoretical choice at best.

    There is a world of difference between people being in high-control Thought Reform cults and people obtaining an education that requires focus and sacrifice for a specific period of time.

  69. Velour wrote:

    There is a world of difference between people being in high-control Thought Reform cults and people obtaining an education that requires focus and sacrifice for a specific period of time.

    Maybe not. I’m thinking of people who have signed up for ROTC scholarships or attend military academies but change their mind on serving in the military after they have completed a certain amount of their scholarship. After their first year (sometimes two) they have incurred a military commitment whether they complete the full program or not. If they quit the program they must serve an enlisted commitment, or they can appeal to the military branch to see if they can pay back the funds. If they don’t have the financial means they will be in a bind. There are also young adults who are pressured into military service by their parents. There are also young adults who enlist in the military and change their minds after they are obligated. Quitting is not such an easy option at that point. There are quick ways to get out, but they mostly involve other than honorable discharges, which is a record that stays with one for life.

    I’m not arguing that the thought reform cults are not all that bad or not that hard to get out of. But they are also generally voluntary. Okrapod brought up a great point that there are other non-cult organizations that have some cult-like characteristics.

  70. Ken F wrote:

    If they don’t have the financial means they will be in a bind. There are also young adults who are pressured into military service by their parents. There are also young adults who enlist in the military and change their minds after they are obligated. Quitting is not such an easy option at that point. There are quick ways to get out, but they mostly involve other than honorable discharges, which is a record that stays with one for life.

    So what? The same can be said for any financial commitment from a car payment to a mortgage to having a cell phone service plan. Contracts involving money can be difficult to get out of, although not impossible.

    Obligations involving contracts and money, however, have nothing to do with how cults operate. Yes, cults are technically “voluntary”. But they don’t operate that way. They deceive and use Undue Influence to trap people in their system. Once people are in they usually undergo personality changes as the brainwashing takes over. Getting out is very difficult.

  71. @ Velour:

    I heard Mother Angelica years ago on EWTN talking about what it was like to enter her order when she was young. I am not going into details because I don’t want to get the whole catholic thing started, but what she described was a bit of an eye opener. She was telling it in the context of thinking it was not necessary and not helpful. I don’t see that she was brain washed, but what she described sounded very similar in some ways to cult-like procedures.

  72. It’s tragic that the WOF situation involves children. Indeed, I believe all of the videos of the TWW post feature the testimony of then minors being unlawfully assaulted and traumatized in the name of religion (god).

    This would be an enormous difference regarding WOF and some of these other commitments that single adults make for themselves (military, religious orders, etc.).

  73. Christiane wrote:

    I do know that if the best of Eastern and Western Christianity could be put back together again, we would all benefit from the enriching balance that resulted. (my godmother was of Ukrainian descent)

    Agreed. Schmuley Boteach’s Judaism for Everyone would also contribute to the same goal. Does that mean I agree in toto with everything Boteach says? No it does not. It simply means that Judaism has good and admirable truths that all peoples can rally round’ regardless of creed or religion.

  74. That list the former member read in the last video reminds me of my former Christian cult. The pastor/leader compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts as well as The Ten Evils. Oh, and The Six Steps of Love, that had more to do with manipulation and control than love. It seems these cults are a dime a dozen. No surprise that this Word Faith cult sprung up in 1979. Quite a few cults started up in the 70’s & 80’s.

  75. Velour wrote:

    Obligations involving contracts and money, however, have nothing to do with how cults operate.

    I think you missed my point. I was building on the list that Okrapod started – it was a good reminder that cults use many of the same techniques as legitimate organizations, such as the military. Maybe that is why the cults are able to make it work. People going under intense military, medical, police, etc., training also undergo personality changes, but usually for the positive. One of the pressures that people in these circumstances face is loss aversion – will quitting cause them to lose respect, security, relationships, integrity? Cults likewise leverage loss aversion – making people fear for the salvation, relationships, security, etc. I wonder why some people are more easily enticed by cults than others? Could it be because they are somewhat familiar with the legitimate use of these techniques, so they are not able to mount an appropriate defense? Okrapod’s list made me think. It was a good reminder.

  76. Ken F wrote:

    Could it be because they are somewhat familiar with the legitimate use of these techniques, so they are not able to mount an appropriate defense?

    I don’t know that there is a big correlation between groups like the military or nursing school and cults, but if you have data that says so I would certainly be interested in hearing it.

    I think there are other things that make people susceptible but I”m not a cult expert so I couldn’t list them off hand. Lack of connection maybe?

  77. Darlene wrote:

    It seems these cults are a dime a dozen.

    I am beginning to think so too. Maybe we are overlooking some things because they are common and therefore go unnoticed. Some people from where I used to live were never happy with the fact that our fundamentalist FWB church was not strict enough (yes, you heard that correctly) so they joined a different sort of group in a town in the next county. The group was very secretive and also strict but nobody heard about any abuse. I think Gram 3 is right about subtlety. Without actual abuse it gets very hard to know where to draw the line.

  78. Lea wrote:

    I don’t know that there is a big correlation between groups like the military or nursing school and cults, but if you have data that says so I would certainly be interested in hearing it.

    I don’t know of any data. I was just struck by Okrapod’s comparison, which caused me to think out loud. Maybe the cults twist techniques that are used for good into something damaging. It still makes me wonder what makes people vulnerable. Is it some kind of group think? Loss aversion? False core beliefs?

  79. Lea wrote:

    adults have some choices here. Kids do not.

    The trauma and torture the children experience in their formative years is the direct result of the choices of their parents.

    It’s a miracle the children, now adults, got out of the cult/church. It’s a miracle they are doing well, it seems, after all they have been through.

    As a very poised young woman in the videos pointed out, she still loves her parents and would so much like to have her family of origin, yet that it not possible. It adds to the suffering she has already been through.

    Courageous kids, now adults – they have my prayers and admiration. They are the witnesses. They bear testimony to an evil in our freedom of religion society.

  80. Ken F wrote:

    I was just struck by Okrapod’s comparison, which caused me to think out loud. Maybe the cults twist techniques that are used for good into something damaging. It still makes me wonder what makes people vulnerable. Is it some kind of group think? Loss aversion? False core beliefs?

    What makes people vulnerable? I would say that in Christian cults, what makes people vulnerable to this kind of abuse is their desire to be faithful to God. The leadership/pastor/s observe a situation where they recognize they are able to manipulate that good desire to control people. The naive members in that cult put their trust in the leadership to the detriment of ignoring their consciences. They do so because they believe God is speaking through the leader/s and to question or reject their teachings is tantamount to rebelling against God. But I think it begins with giving over your (generic you) will over to another person. As I’ve said on many occasions, the degree to which you give over your will – put complete trust into the hands of another human being – to a cult leader, is the degree to which you will be brainwashed. Hence, why some members are unable to leave or take much longer to leave the group than others.

  81. Ken F wrote:

    I saw it this morning. TGC, Challies, and DG have all posted articles against it, but none of the big names have weighed in yet. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. I’m guessing the big name YRRs will stay out of it so as to not bring attention to the movie, it unless the movie gets a lot of attention on its own.

    It’s gotten generally not so good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and appears to be swamped at the box office by people going to see the new Wolverine flick. ($60 million for Logan versus $12 million for The Shack.) It cost $20 million to make. I think it will make its money back. This has been your movie money report from someone who generally doesn’t go to the movies.

  82. Ken F wrote:

    I think you missed my point. I was building on the list that Okrapod started – it was a good reminder that cults use many of the same techniques as legitimate organizations, such as the militar

    Again, I’m not missing the point.

    I just wonder if you folks watched the news videos in the above article about this cult in particular, about its horrific abuses, including beating people, screaming at them, false imprisonment, accusations of other forms of abuse…and how this discussion got side-tracked into sentimental discussions about the rigidity of getting a higher education
    and now the ROTC.

    In light of what is being discussed, I don’t think it’s on point or the least bit funny.
    I think it dishonors these victims in this cult, the ones who got out and the ones who are still stuck, including vulnerable children.

    Much of what has been described about the cult under discussion and what they’ve been doing constitutes (alleged) felony crimes that they have committed against people.

    I think that’s sobering and horrific.

  83. You know what else is fiction with deep theological themes? Narnia! But none of the YRRs seem to have a problem with those books. Maybe it’s just because they’ve been around longer? Or perhaps they think theologically-themed fiction is okay for kids but not for adults?

  84. Lea wrote:

    I think there are other things that make people susceptible but I”m not a cult expert so I couldn’t list them off hand. Lack of connection maybe?

    Sometimes people are going through loss or have been, which makes them vulnerable to a cult’s initial love bombing. That includes break ups (dating or marriage), death of a loved one, job loss, and illness, to name just a few. Some people were raised in abusive and dysfunctional families that make them susceptible to a cult’s influence and unable to properly discern how unhealthy it is.

    And then other people had none of those losses and are still subject to Undue Influence
    in a cult, as we are seeing with these highly controlling NeoCalvinist groups/cults which are setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies. People are kept so busy and so tired in the groups that they don’t have a break away for a significant period of time to think long and hard about what they have been exposed to and how it has changed them for the worse.

  85. Darlene wrote:

    That list the former member read in the last video reminds me of my former Christian cult. The pastor/leader compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts as well as The Ten Evils. Oh, and The Six Steps of Love, that had more to do with manipulation and control than love. It seems these cults are a dime a dozen. No surprise that this Word Faith cult sprung up in 1979. Quite a few cults started up in the 70’s & 80’s.

    Yes these high-control cults issue orders that control the last detail of peoples’ lives.
    It’s bizarre and unhealthy.

  86. Darlene wrote:

    What makes people vulnerable? I would say that in Christian cults, what makes people vulnerable to this kind of abuse is their desire to be faithful to God. The leadership/pastor/s observe a situation where they recognize they are able to manipulate that good desire to control people.

    Spot on, Darlene.

  87. Velour wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    Several times in my life I was in a situation which had some of the characteristics of a cult.
    The distinguishing factor in your situation was you voluntarily signed up to go to school — nursing, medical — and knew what you had signed up for. Your thoughts and decisions were still your own and were not subjected to Undue Influence, where others noticed a radical change in your personality and you were no longer “you”. You could walk away from it all and still keep your relationships to your family and friends.

    And none of what Okrapod experienced was done in the name of God as some test to her faithfulness.

  88. Muff Potter wrote:

    Judaism has good and admirable truths that all peoples can rally round’ regardless of creed or religion.

    Yes. And when people watch the documentary ‘The White Helmets’, I think they can recognize the decency and humanity and goodness of these men of the Islamic faith also …….. out of the Abrahamic religions flows a common theme of human decency that can be mutually acknowledged.

    I am a great admirer of Judaism and of Islam (although the misguided extremists in ALL of the Abrahamic faiths are to be condemned for their destructive hatreds and abuses);
    what I admire is core to all three of the Abrahamic faiths as the foundation for the good will and hope and decency on which humane treatment for people is based, and among all three of the great Abrahamic faiths, the gifts of the One Creator God are to be received with thankfulness.

  89. Velour wrote:

    in a cult, as we are seeing with these highly controlling NeoCalvinist groups/cults which are setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies. People are kept so busy and so tired in the groups that they don’t have a break away for a significant period of time to think long and hard about what they have been exposed to and how it has changed them for the worse.

    the complete opposite of ‘He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul’

    in a lot of cult type thinking, I imagine people are warned away from being led beside the still waters and from ‘pondering’ the deep things of God

    and yet that is one of the ways we are spiritually nourished …. to find time and place and quiet to listen to the still, small Voice of God

    yes, I can see that being told to be ever fearful and to be controlled and kept frantically busy would prevent all opportunity for restorative contemplative prayer

  90. okrapod wrote:

    That would have been (1) a hospital based nursing school program (2) med school and (3) four post-grad years (PGY). Pre-med at the university was a piece of cake compared to that.

    This level of self-discipline involves a REAL commitment to overcome difficulties and persevere through hardships …. a kind of commitment that must come from the depths of a person’s own will, I think

    Okrapod, something within you wanted and needed to accomplish what you did in order to self-actualize your OWN dream, having been given the gifts by God to use in the pursuit of your profession. No outside ‘cult’ can impose that drive at THAT level of personal commitment to task and to ‘willing’ to endure and press on. That God helped you is undeniable, certainly with the gifts of intellect and personal drive alone, but also with ‘calling’ you to the healing professions.

    ‘Cults’ take over someone’s will.
    What Okrapod went through was because of her own strong will to endure the training.

    The difference is one of a human person being able to ‘set their face toward’ a daunting goal and willingly take it on without fear, and then to be able to give up one’s own temporary sleep or food in order to persevere and overcome the challenges of professional training ……

    my brother ‘set his face towards’ being a doctor when he was very young, just a boy, and he overcame many difficulties because it was within him to do it, not because someone pushed him or bullied him or commanded him …. he once said, ‘I don’t know why I’m putting myself through this’ in a moment of exhaustion,
    but he took PERSONAL responsibility for the direction he had chosen and for the effort it required of him

  91. Velour wrote:

    these highly controlling NeoCalvinist groups/cults which are setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies.

    Didn’t you just complain about comparisons between regular organizations that use certain techniques and horrific wof abuses?

  92. Lea wrote:

    I don’t know that there is a big correlation between groups like the military or nursing school and cults, but if you have data that says so I would certainly be interested in hearing it.

    An interesting request

    Lea, you might want to look at what happens when a cult-like entity comes into a military academy and puts pressure on cadets that are of different faiths. The following involves a situation at the USAF Academy in Colorado, a situation so severe that it required major intervention to stop abuse:
    http://truth-out.org/archive/component/k2/item/92042:underground-group-of-cadets-says-air-force-academy-controlled-by-evangelicals
    “The MRFF and allies from a myriad of civil rights and interfaith groups sent a letter Tuesday to the Department of Defense (DoD) detailing the cadet’s email and other startling complaints, including testimony from the parents of an academy graduate who believe their daughter was “methodically brain washed” by a fundamentalist group there, demanding an investigation of the academy and the evangelical academy ministry Cadets For Christ.”

    In this case, the cultists actually USED the set-up at the military academy to their advantage unfairly and the affected cadets reported the abuse to their families. An investigation followed, and changes were instituted to stop cultic religious abuse of cadets at this government academy.

    I think the responsibility for the cult-type abuse might be tracked to high places where pressure is put on soldiers by certain ‘pastors’ who are not ethical and who are proselytizing instead of ministering to the soldiers under their care.

  93. Lea wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    these highly controlling NeoCalvinist groups/cults which are setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies.
    Didn’t you just complain about comparisons between regular organizations that use certain techniques and horrific wof abuses?

    No, Lea, I didn’t complain about that. My specific complaint was that certain comments have drifted off topic into the rigors of obtaining a higher education and the ROTC when the this thread is about horrific abuses that these church members endured, much of what has been described all constitute (alleged) felony crimes that were committed against these former members.

    Perhaps you are unaware of authoritarian NeoCalvinist groups/churches which have crossed the line into cults and absolutely have the potential to go as far over the line as Word of Faith has gone.

  94. Velour wrote:

    Again, I’m not missing the point.

    I really think you did miss my point. I was not at all trying to minimize WOF abuses by trying to create an equality between it and the good programs I was describing above. Nor was I trying to minimize or make fun of WOF. Please don’t think I was trying to compare the worst of WOF with the best of the others. Rather, I was trying to voice my wonder about some of the similarities. It makes me wonder if the cults get their start by mimicking what the other programs do, such as tapping into the desire to rise about one’s circumstances, to be a part of something bigger.

    Groups like WOF don’t start out one day with out-of-the-blue “beating people, screaming at them, false imprisonment, accusations of other forms of abuse” because no one would fall for it. They get that way over time, after they have sucked people in and convinced them in one way or another that there is no escapte. While it is very important to highlight the extreme forms like WOF, it is also essential to highlight the path that lead to WOF so that people can be spared. I’ve read that emotional abuse is more damaging the physical abuse. If that is true (and I don’t know for sure that it is), then emotionally abusive cults could be just as damaging as physically abusive cults, and equally difficult to escape even though the means of control are different.

    As for proselytizing in the military, the proselytizers truly have a captive audience, which is why it is so particularly egregious.

  95. @ Dale:
    Thanks, DALE.
    I’ll take a look at it. I do believe you were Catholic as was your family. I do think you may have been influenced by John MacArthur, from some of the things you have noted, but I am not sure of that, unless you tell me it is correct. Whatever happened, you seem very wounded by your past, and I hope you find peace and healing. Thank you for standing up against 9 Marks …. that was important. Have a good Sunday and God Bless.

  96. Velour wrote:

    Perhaps you are unaware of authoritarian NeoCalvinist groups/churches which have crossed the line into cults and absolutely have the potential to go as far over the line as Word of Faith has gone.

    Everybody is aware of cults, religious and otherwise. It is a much larger problem in our culture than just in religious groups. How many here speak repeatedly of scientology for instance? It is also true that some of the ideas and practices that cults use can be seen in milder forms which fall below the cult level. For instance the recent discussion here about prep schools in England.

    I believe that we need to look at the culture as a whole, ask ourselves if we as a culture accept some behaviors which can, when taken to the extreme, lead to situations line Spindale. You seem to be saying that sure we can just so long as it is restricted to things like Mother Angelica described, or I described, or sometimes go on in the military. I am saying that we need to look at the entire culture and not wait until it reaches the extremes like those at Spindale, and if we do not, if we continue to say that lower levels of this sort of poison is okay as long as nobody overdoes on it, then we have not taken this whole subject as far as we need to go.

    We need not just the cops in Spindale but also the entire culture needs to take another look at itself and we need to quit tolerating interpersonal violence and oppression in whatever form and at whatever level and for whatever reason. You heard the guy on one of the videos say that changes need to be made in the laws. Exactly. But that does not happen until everybody looks at the entire picture and sees the need for change. As long as people continue on only (only) say what a pity about ‘those’ people and leave it there, then laws do not change and attitudes do not change and massive rethinking does not happen.

    I do not mean to offend people with this attitude. But even if it is offensive I believe we need to do this as a culture for the greater good.

  97. okrapod wrote:

    we need to quit tolerating interpersonal violence and oppression in whatever form and at whatever level and for whatever reason.

    “we need to quit tolerating interpersonal violence and oppression in whatever form and at whatever level and for whatever reason.”
    Amen, Amen, Amen

  98. okrapod wrote:

    How many here speak repeatedly of scientology for instance?

    Ah. I was just thinking about Scientology and how when cults pass a certain level of membership something has to give. Maybe they cease to be like other cults in many ways but still retain some of the aspects?

  99. Ken F wrote:

    While it is very important to highlight the extreme forms like WOF, it is also essential to highlight the path that lead to WOF so that people can be spared.

    There has been a great deal of research about how highly controlling, Thought Reform, groups work. I have already read some of the research by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, Ronald Enroth, and Steve Hassan to name three researchers/authors.

  100. okrapod wrote:

    am saying that we need to look at the entire culture and not wait until it reaches the extremes like those at Spindale

    If that’s what you and Ken F. would like to do, then please use the Open Discussion thread for that purpose and see if anyone joins you.

    The topic of this article are the abuses, many of them felonious, against more than forty-five former members as well as the abuses that are still occurring in the Word of Faith.

  101. okrapod wrote:

    How many here speak repeatedly of scientology for instance?

    I speak frequently of Scientology because it’s my go-to gold standard for cult behavior. It’s also the cult I’m most familiar with, not because I was a Scientologist (in fact, I’ve never been in a Scientology edifice), but because I had to learn a little bit about their beliefs to understand what was going on. Ultimately, the original reason I was picketing (they were hiding their documents and suing people who discussed them online) faded before “OMG Scientology practices actually kill people!” (See, for example, Lisa McPherson, but there are others.) Currently the big push is over disconnection–where Scientology forces its adherents to stop contact with family and friends who may leave the cult. It’s a way of keeping the members isolated.

  102. Velour wrote:

    And then other people had none of those losses and are still subject to Undue Influence
    in a cult, as we are seeing with these highly controlling NeoCalvinist groups/cults which are setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies.

    In the Seventies, it was Calvary Chapel and its clones who were “setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies”. That’s how I got sucked into that not-a-cult during my junior college days — a Campus Bible Study/Christian Fellowship.

  103. Darlene wrote:

    Wow. And now I’ve got to be concerned that those wonderful Catholic neighbors down the street are just deluded cult members. They just might end up drinking poison-laced Kool-aide. I better warn them!

    Jack Chick and Raul Rees already have. Loudly and at great length.

  104. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    Currently the big push is over disconnection–where Scientology forces its adherents to stop contact with family and friends who may leave the cult. It’s a way of keeping the members isolated.

    Isn’t “Disconnect” clamspeak for “Shunning”?

  105. Velour wrote:

    No, Lea, I didn’t complain about that. My specific complaint was that certain comments have drifted off topic into the rigors of obtaining a higher education and the ROTC when the this thread is about horrific abuses that these church members endured, much of what has been described all constitute (alleged) felony crimes that were committed against these former members.

    Which provides Word of Faith with a ready-made “SEE? EVERYBODY’S DOING IT! SEE? SEE? SEE?” defense.

  106. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    And then other people had none of those losses and are still subject to Undue Influence
    in a cult, as we are seeing with these highly controlling NeoCalvinist groups/cults which are setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies.
    In the Seventies, it was Calvary Chapel and its clones who were “setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies”. That’s how I got sucked into that not-a-cult during my junior college days — a Campus Bible Study/Christian Fellowship.

    Yes, cults are quite deceptive in how they set up shop and get new recruits.

  107. Christiane wrote:

    I am a great admirer of Judaism and of Islam (although the misguided extremists in ALL of the Abrahamic faiths are to be condemned for their destructive hatreds and abuses);
    what I admire is core to all three of the Abrahamic faiths as the foundation for the good will and hope and decency on which humane treatment for people is based, and among all three of the great Abrahamic faiths, the gifts of the One Creator God are to be received with thankfulness.

    Same here. I’d venture to say that TWW is the only ixtian blog-site that we (generic we in terms of similar sentiment) can say that without getting piled on.

  108. Muff Potter wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    I am a great admirer of Judaism and of Islam (although the misguided extremists in ALL of the Abrahamic faiths are to be condemned for their destructive hatreds and abuses);
    what I admire is core to all three of the Abrahamic faiths as the foundation for the good will and hope and decency on which humane treatment for people is based, and among all three of the great Abrahamic faiths, the gifts of the One Creator God are to be received with thankfulness.
    Same here. I’d venture to say that TWW is the only ixtian blog-site that we (generic we in terms of similar sentiment) can say that without getting piled on.

    Well said, Muff. I agree.

  109. okrapod wrote:

    As long as people continue on only (only) say what a pity about ‘those’ people and leave it there, then laws do not change and attitudes do not change and massive rethinking does not happen.

    I have an overwhelming desire to derail this thread with an example of where this really needs to happen but will not because people are unwilling to re-think due to Politically Correct thought ossification. Uncharacteristically, I will restrain myself. I have learned that people really only are concerned when “those people” create a problem for them.

  110. Velour wrote:

    If that’s what you and Ken F. would like to do, then please use the Open Discussion thread for that purpose and see if anyone joins you.

    Velour,
    I’m puzzled by your response. If the comments on this thread must stick to to the alleged felonies of WOF, then most of the comments, including yours, have been out of bounds. By the standard you imposed on me and Okrapod, I don’t see how our comments were any more egregious than yours. Since very few on TWW have direct relationship with WOF, the felony stories have no personal impact on most TWW followers other than moral outrage (and perhaps trigger response). I don’t see why it would be out of bounds to compare and contrast WOF with our own experiences so that we can think of practical ways to identify and oppose similar groups/ideologies in our own environments before they get as extreme as WOF. I think the main point of this blog is to expose abuses for the point of preventing future abuse, and I think my comments were appropriate for that.

  111. Ken F wrote:

    I’m puzzled by your response.

    Ken F.,

    Did you miss my response to you above about how high-control groups function?

    Here it is again:

    Velour UNITED STATES on Sun Mar 05, 2017 at 09:34 AM said:
    Ken F wrote:
    While it is very important to highlight the extreme forms like WOF, it is also essential to highlight the path that lead to WOF so that people can be spared.

    There has been a great deal of research about how highly controlling, Thought Reform, groups work. I have already read some of the research by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, Ronald Enroth, and Steve Hassan to name three researchers/authors.

  112. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “setting up shop on college campuses via Bible studies”. That’s how I got sucked into that not-a-cult during my junior college days — a Campus Bible Study/Christian Fellowship.

    Well, I dare say, there’s overreach in Christian ministry across the board and down through history, from the missionaries who mandated nationals to abandon their drums and dance, to the college ministries that captured fresh young recruits to be sent out doing street evangelism (in sometimes unsafe circumstances). “Faith” can be folly.

    Sometimes the instigator is the local leader at the ground level, other times it is a misguided policy or practice of a grand ministry (IVCF, CCC, Navigators, etc.).

    Personally, we have fallen into those traps from time to time. It has been the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and our inner circle of critical thinking like-minded close friends that have guaranteed we have not been completely derailed in our faith and on our life journey.

    Today, the internet helps – a lot of information is available, including the deprogramming offered through TWW. Thank you all for posts, comments, and stories. Ever grateful, God bless you all.

  113. Velour wrote:

    Did you miss my response to you above about how high-control groups function?

    No, I saw that comment. I’m just still trying to understand why you would write this about my comments: “I think it dishonors these victims in this cult, the ones who got out and the ones who are still stuck, including vulnerable children.” That is quite an accusation against me, leaving me feeling stunned. I guess I’ll just let it stand as something I will not be able to clear up in this venue.

  114. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    That’s how I got sucked into that not-a-cult during my junior college days — a Campus Bible Study/Christian Fellowship.

    darn …. all the trouble I got up to at university was to hang out and raise ‘H E double hockey sticks’ with the Newman Club kids ….. we had fun, we were a great team for good in those days :), it looks like I dodged the ‘cult’ bullet that a lot of kids encountered

  115. Ken F wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Did you miss my response to you above about how high-control groups function?
    No, I saw that comment. I’m just still trying to understand why you would write this about my comments: “I think it dishonors these victims in this cult, the ones who got out and the ones who are still stuck, including vulnerable children.” That is quite an accusation against me, leaving me feeling stunned. I guess I’ll just let it stand as something I will not be able to clear up in this venue.

    Thanks Ken F. for your response. I didn’t mean to hurt or offend you, or the fact that you care for these victims. I apologize to you for hurting and offending you.

    I work in law. When we’re discussing felony crimes we have a laser-sharp focus and do not digress into anything else.

    I hope you have a good Sunday and remaining week. I value you and Okrapod here.

  116. Velour wrote:

    When we’re discussing felony crimes we have a laser-sharp focus and do not digress into anything else.

    Some tangents seem to be encouraged though. I do not believe discussing other cults and cultish tendencies is a tangent, however.

    I will leave it at that.

  117. @ Velour:
    Thanks. With sensitive topics like this it is easy to both misunderstand and be misunderstood in a purely written venue. You and I normally don’t seem to be far out of synch, but I think I can see now where you are coming from.

    The BITE model is a good source, but I have a few questions. Could a group be criminally charged based on the items listed in the model, or does that have to wait until they cross the line into actual gestures of physical abuse (including threats)? How many of the factors must be in operation to know for sure? For example, the military uses almost all of the items under “B” but only a few from among the “ITE.” They use it to promote obedience (but not dependency) to some leader or cause, which makes it sound like it meets the definition for “destructive mind control.” Yet I don’t think the military qualifies as destructive mind control (but others might not agree). Still, it seems like a good model.

  118. Gram3 wrote:

    I have an overwhelming desire to derail this thread with an example of where this really needs to happen but will not because people are unwilling to re-think due to Politically Correct thought ossification. Uncharacteristically, I will restrain myself. I have learned that people really only are concerned when “those people” create a problem for them.

    Let er’ rip Gram3. I too have grown weary of political correctness. What started out as common human decency toward those different from us (generic us) has advanced into Orwellian idiocy.

  119. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Isn’t “Disconnect” clamspeak for “Shunning”?

    Scientology takes it to a whole different level. That cult was formerly off my radar but Muslin, fka Dee Holmes, has often mentioned it here and that prompted further study. Scientology leaders are extremely abusive and my admiration has grown for anyone that openly opposed them. Opposition to them did not just risk shunning but much worse, it is an organization that would focus back on you and was determined to destroy you. I doff my hat to Muslin.

  120. Velour wrote:

    Yes, cults are quite deceptive in how they set up shop and get new recruits.

    You bet! There are corporate cults, marketing cults even diet & exercise cults.
    I think what marks a cult is the level of control exercised, particularly over the minutia. What to wear, who to marry, what you read, how much sleep and so on.
    Anyone can be co-opted into a cult.

  121. The military is most definitely not a cult. I was free to leave, I got plenty to eat. I could read what I wanted. Free education. Sure there are issues with Military culture. When I was in, it wasn’t easy on women members. But not a cult.

  122. @ Deb:
    It should have to face justice but it will with God! They cannot use God like this and I know God is angry. Look out cult!

  123. @ Muff Potter:
    I’m a little confused as to how these statements pertain to cults.
    Up thread someone mentioned addressing the culture.
    It’s not perfect but I like our culture in North America.
    I don’t think it’s any more prone to cults or cultic thought than anywhere else.
    It’s becoming more pluralistic but that’s not bad.

  124. Christiane wrote:

    changes were instituted to stop cultic religious abuse of cadets at this government academy.

    Thank you for pointing out that effective action was taken after this case in 2010. Not just at the Air Force Academy but throughout the Air Force. Proselytizing in anything close to an official capacity is very much frowned upon these days. The culture has changed.

  125. @ Friend:
    That is one incredible list! I read through it this morning. If you buy a dress identical to someone else in the congregation, it has to go back to the store!

  126. @ Christiane:

    I read through the Open Discussion after I posted above. Thanks, but I prefer not to get into an involved discussion on the matter.

  127. Deb wrote:

    @ Friend:
    That is one incredible list! I read through it this morning. If you buy a dress identical to someone else in the congregation, it has to go back to the store!

    What??? Well that made me want to look but it seems to be down.

  128. In one of the above videos, former member John Huddle made the comment, “Religious Freedom stops when abuse starts.”

    This should be the case, but too often it is not because local media and more specifically, local law enforcement, have a hands-off mentality towards intervening on abusive church situations. I believe they do this in an effort to try to honor “religious freedom” because no one wants to be told how to worship their deity, even when the methods used seem abusive or plain bizarre.

    However, decades of turning a bling eye towards abuse by media and law enforcement has only created a vacuum in which unscrupulous leaders can control and abuse. With the billions and billions of dollars now up for grabs in the mega church world, more charlatans and con artists than ever are being drawn to this industry.

    Trump has already vowed to abolish the Johnson Amendment, meaning more and more political operators will create churches for no other reason than to run multi-million dollar PACs with zero accountability. With Trump telling the Dept of Justice to back off looking into churches, the abuse is going to get far worse, not better. If you look at the 15 pastors who are on his Spiritual Advisory Board, you will see some of the most abusive televangelists in the industry. It’s only going to go downhill from here.

  129. @ Jack:

    Hard to say there Jack unless Gram3 is willing to elaborate a bit on what she meant by political correctness. Suffice it to say I’m a rogue anomaly here at TWW and have a tendency to rub people’s fur the wrong way on both sides (progressive and conservative) of the aisle.

  130. @ Jack:
    That’s not what I meant, anyway. It is that there are certain no-go zones of thought where Wrongthink is ruthlessly punished. That is how cults thrive, and there are stubborn pockets of cultic reality-denying non-thinking which perpetuate rather than solve problems in our culture. That’s all I’m going to say.

    The military is not a cult. The military trains our armed forces to perform as a disciplined fighting force dedicated to a goal which transcends their individual interests and the interests of their commanders (ideally.) A cult is dedicated to promoting the interests of the cult leader and his/her inner circle, and each individual must be broken down to serve the leader.

    This WOF person and her husband who submits to her are doing the work of the Evil One. It is not fashionable, but I do believe in a personal Evil One, and I believe I have seen people be used by him/her/it.

  131. Ken P. wrote:

    138. Don’t place the toilet paper on the roll unless it rolls over the top.

    Everyone knows this. it’s just common sense.

    You people are all violating Commandment #137:
    “Don’t complain about the list of “don’ts”.”

  132. Friend wrote:

    Thank you for pointing out that effective action was taken after this case in 2010. Not just at the Air Force Academy but throughout the Air Force.

    I can’t help thinking that this going down in the AF Academy had some connection to all those Christian Culture Warrior “Ministries” relocating to Colo Spgs.

    Proselytizing in anything close to an official capacity is very much frowned upon these days. The culture has changed.

    I remember Christianese AM radio in the Eighties (probably Focus on the Family, but not sure after 30 years) bragging that Born Again Bible Believing Christians now dominated the Armed Forces and that the Rot of Vietnam had finally been expunged.

    The problems with aggressive proselytizing under authority of rank some years ago and the calls from pulpits for a military coup (during that congressional gridlock) a couple years ago fit those Eighties broadcasts so well. Culture War Without End, Amen.

  133. Christiane wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    That’s how I got sucked into that not-a-cult during my junior college days — a Campus Bible Study/Christian Fellowship.

    darn …. all the trouble I got up to at university was to hang out and raise ‘H E double hockey sticks’ with the Newman Club kids ….. we had fun, we were a great team for good in those days :), it looks like I dodged the ‘cult’ bullet that a lot of kids encountered

    I didn’t get associated with the local Newman Club until I was out of college for around three years. Then I started showing up at the local Newman Center (which wasn’t far from where I lived at the time); though I was out of college (and they went off on Social Justice tangents), those were pretty good times. Completely different from my time in-country with the Calvary Chapel clones.

    But to Dale they’re just the biggest CULT CULT CULT, much more insidious than WoF.

  134. JYJames wrote:

    to the college ministries that captured fresh young recruits to be sent out doing street evangelism (in sometimes unsafe circumstances). “Faith” can be folly.

    That not-a-cult was very into “street witnessing”, usually during the weekly Cruise Nights on Whittier Boulevard.

  135. okrapod wrote:

    As long as people continue on only (only) say what a pity about ‘those’ people and leave it there, then laws do not change and attitudes do not change and massive rethinking does not happen.

    “Massive rethinking” can also mean Universal Thought Reform, Comrade.

    (Ourobourous, the serpent which curls around to devour its own tail…)

  136. This nasty cult is about as bad as another place in NC called The Twelve Tribes of Israel (I think the main camp is above Charlotte, but they are world-wide). I met what used to be the #3 guy there last week. Had an indepth conversation with him about how he spent most of his life inside that place. Really is amazing how long it takes people to wake up and have the courage to get out, but the costs are extremely high. They make young people marry if they have any form of physical contact. Said the top dog’s wife is really the one who runs it all. Crazy.

  137. Gram3 wrote:

    The military is not a cult.

    No. It is most certainly not.

    Gram3 wrote:

    This WOF person and her husband who submits to her are doing the work of the Evil One. It is not fashionable, but I do believe in a personal Evil One, and I believe I have seen people be used by him/her/it.

    I too believe there is a personal evil one. And yes, definitely fallen out of fashion, relegated by most progressives to a quaint and superstitious past.
    And yes even in those circles if you (generic you) dare and disagree, you’re suspect.

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    — Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio —

  138. Ken F wrote:

    YRR’s seem to be united in their hatred of The Shack.

    I’ll wager that the Arminian leaning Calvary Chapel brand will find a way to skewer it too.

  139. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Culture War Without End, Amen.

    2000+ years and then some…

    – from Galatians 5 of yesteryear…, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherein Christ has set us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. … For, friends, you have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty for an occasion for the flesh, but in love serve one another…”

  140. In case I gave the impression that I think the military is a cult, I want to clarify that I definitely do not believe it is a cult. My point bringing it up is that the cults use many of the techniques used by the military, which I suspect could be one of the reasons that people get sucked into them. The military uses the techniques for good, the cults use them for evil. I apologize if I did not make that clear enough.

  141. brian wrote:

    I went and saw “The Shack”, it was a good movie.

    More power to ya, Brian, et al, enjoying this film.

    Read the book. Not my cup of tea.

    (This is on topic since TWW, as far as I know, does not have a rule about everyone thinking the same about a commercial film. Therefore in contrast to WOF, that is my opinion about aforementioned film/book.)

  142. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Christian Culture Warrior “Ministries” relocating to Colo Spgs

    I’ve wondered the same thing. And yet weed is legal there. Land of Contrasts. And Joe Kenda. 😉

  143. kin wrote:

    Said the top dog’s wife is really the one who runs it all. Crazy.

    Both cults (word of faith and the twelve tribes) are run by folks who are as crazy as outhouse rats. No doubt about it.
    I’m wondering if Word of Faith is just a coincident name for the one profiled here at TWW. Usually word of faith refers to the health and wealth hucksters that ply TBN and Daystar.

  144. Jack wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Yes, cults are quite deceptive in how they set up shop and get new recruits.
    You bet! There are corporate cults, marketing cults even diet & exercise cults.
    I think what marks a cult is the level of control exercised, particularly over the minutia. What to wear, who to marry, what you read, how much sleep and so on.
    Anyone can be co-opted into a cult.

    And imagine when that cult is communal. The folks who are in that cult live in that cult. It makes it even more difficult to leave, because one is monetarily dependent upon that system. Such was the case in my former Christian cult. We handed in our paychecks and lived on a meager allowance.

  145. It’s not a coincidence; Jane Whaley was indeed a follower of Word of Faith Pentecostalism, although she put her own extreme spin on that theology.

    The idea of punching demons out of people has been part of Pentecostalism ever since Smith Wigglesworth. Some might regard that practice as inherently abusive (Wigglesworth’s own critics did). Again, however, Jane Whaley took it to a far greater extreme than any mainstream Pentecostal or WoF person would.

  146. Ken F wrote:

    In case I gave the impression that I think the military is a cult, I want to clarify that I definitely do not believe it is a cult. My point bringing it up is that the cults use many of the techniques used by the military, which I suspect could be one of the reasons that people get sucked into them. The military uses the techniques for good, the cults use them for evil. I apologize if I did not make that clear enough.

    I don’t know if I would compare military techniques to cult techniques. Certain techniques are used, but everyone knows the end goal. The end goals of cults are secretive, evil.

    As a wife of a now retired soldier, I just want to say that I believe certain types of people/ personalities are more drawn to certain segments of the military. My husband was 5th Group Special Forces, Operational Detachment Alpha. These guys are almost a different species (the wives are different, too. Sheesh! What sane woman would marry a Green Beret???? ). I also know some men who are now retired from the old school Operational Detachment Delta – the infamous Delta Force. A former Delta was my husband’s team leader. Believe me, these SF guys are different – and they were different before they enlisted!

    My thoughts about the military make me wonder if certain if people with certain personalities are more likely to be drawn into cults? I don’t mean to insult anyone. The world would be so boring if we all were alike. I’m just wondering if maybe the way we are raised, or where we are raised, or just certain inborn personality traits make us either more or less vulnerable to being drawn in to a cult. I know some of the commenters on here are former cult members and some commenters have researched certain cults, so what do you think? Do you think these cult leaders target certain types of people? I dunno. We all have our weak points in some form or fashion. Maybe cult leaders just look for and take advantage of our weak points.

    I have a friend who is a former cult member. Her husband got involved and drew her into it. When it was finally all over, they had nothing ….. No home, no money, and their adult children were estranged. They lived in a junker car for several months. It took a long time for them to get their lives sort of back. I don’t really know the husband, but my friend is just a natural people pleaser. She is very intelligent, well educated ………. but she is prone to making serious personal sacrifices just to make others happy. A desire to make others happy is a good thing. But, there are people who will take advance of that, and these cult leaders certainly took advantage of my friend.

  147. From Challies' article concerning “The Shack”

    “Conclusion

    The Shack presents God in human flesh. It makes the infinite finite, the invisible visible, the omnipotent impotent, the all-present local, the spiritual material. In its visual portrayal of God it diminishes, it obfuscates, it blasphemes, it lies. Even though I would watch the film to help others interpret it and to bring correction to error, I would still be subjecting myself to a false, blasphemous portrayal of God. I cannot allow myself to watch it even for that purpose. I cannot and will not watch or review it.”

    I cannot tell you how utterly ironic this is concerning how many of the YRR / neo-Calvinists etc are concerning what they do to the “image” of God. The do with letters on a page what they accuse the shack doing with images. I really believe some of these folks think deep down that the 1-17 century Christians had their own bible and everyone read etc. I found in the Shack the book a view of God that I use to have when I first became a Christian, then I learned to loath because that view was not effective, efficient, successful, got over it, moved on, went in for the big win, overcame…. I won’t go into it but the movie touched some real raw nerves because of loss, murder, family that went missing etc. It should not as we all have it coming, which was what I had drummed into me for so many decades concerning God.

    The grief scenes with “Mac” were the ones that hit the hardest because it was drilled into my soul is that a true follower of Jesus lets the dead bury their dead and you move on and get over it before it even happens. I guess the reason the movie got to me the most, and it should not have I admit, but it was that most of the folks I work with all these years do not read. That is a sin in the evangelical inc., one among many God can’t forgive. I know that is not “preached” but it is “lived” out daily from what I have observed. The Christian religion is so totally exhausting it literally sucks the life out of a soul in so many ways at times.

  148. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    (and they went off on Social Justice tangents), those were pretty good times

    I identify: in those days, we Newman kids were all about Social Justice …. we had all kinds of ‘missions’ going on from tutoring in the inner city to helping people on their way to Washington DC for a civil rights rally (Poor Peoples’ March on Washington), and what I remember most about it was the strongly spirited sheer joy of it all…… our energy was boundless and we were out to make a difference 🙂

  149. Nancy2 wrote:

    make me wonder if certain if people with certain personalities are more likely to be drawn into cults? I don’t mean to insult anyone.

    there are studies concerning how mental and emotional illness correlate with extremist religious affiliations …

    ““Someone who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology — we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance,” Taylor said. “In many ways it could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage.”

    The author went on to say she wasn’t just referring to the “obvious candidates like radical Islam,” but also meant such beliefs as the idea that beating children is acceptable.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/kathleen-taylor-religious-fundamentalism-mental-illness_n_3365896.html

    I think a ‘cult’ tries to ‘normalize’ what healthy people view as aberrant behavior, so can I appreciate the work of people like Dr. Kathleen Taylor, yes.

  150. Ken F wrote:

    The BITE model is a good source, but I have a few questions. Could a group be criminally charged based on the items listed in the model, or does that have to wait until they cross the line into actual gestures of physical abuse (including threats)?

    Thanks Ken F.

    I can only speak to California law, where I live and work, and not to North Carolina law.
    I haven’t looked up all of the laws in North Carolina. But in most states many of the things in the Behavior Control category — restricting people physically, harming them physically, sexually abusing them, punishing them (i.e. violence, food restrictions, water, etc.) could result in criminal prosecution.

    The group couldn’t be prosecuted, but the members who participated in the criminal acts could be prosecuted. It is commonplace, as you probably know, for prosecutors to arrange plea bargains on lesser charges, or even immunity, if some members testify against more powerful members of the group.

    I hope a grand jury is convened and indicts members of this cult.

    I also hope some good litigators get involved and sue the pants (or the skirts) off of this Word of Faith cult.

  151. Christiane wrote:

    there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage.

    My point exactly, but from the mouth of a neuroscience writer.

    There are also things that did happen or are happening which we see as necessary but for which people have to cross boundaries in their own thinking in order to do them. We do train people to be warriors and cops and expect them to exert extreme violence against certain designated peoples when necessary. We do take people and teach them to form teams for the purpose of slicing and cutting on living human beings; it is called surgery. But all this is done in a good cause.

    And if anybody wants to see some stuff you may wish you had never heard check out the history of treatment methodologies for the seriously mentally ill. As recently as that year I spent as a psychiatry resident I personally pushed the button on many a patient while we shot electricity through their brain from side to side; not to forget ice water baths and isolation. When I was a student nurse on psych rotation insulin shock therapy was all the rage. I personally administered many a dose of insulin and then watched the patient until they went into insulin shock and just before it went too far gave them sugar in orange juice. But if you look back when-and not that far back, you will read about stuff that is unthinkable. But all this was done in a good cause.

    And remember the old CPR methods which would start with a powerful blow to the distal sternum to try to shock the heart. Alll in a god cause. Now there are defibrillators but then there were not.

    How easy it would be to convince people that extreme measures might be indicated to exorcise some demons. All in a good cause of course. So how easy might it be?

    This from the link:

    Taylor also noted that brainwashing, though extreme, is part of a the “much more widespread phenomenon” of persuasion. That is, “how we make people think things that might not be good for them, that they might not otherwise have chosen to think.”

    IMO is that perhaps it is just that easy to convince people to submit to cult ideas/techniques/abuses once they are convinced that it may be unpleasant but that it is all in a good and righteous cause.

  152. @ Dale:

    It is a passive-aggressive technique to label somebody as ‘hurt’ or ‘damaged’ or ‘dealing with their own issues’ or any similar statement, absent any objective and concrete evidence to establish that accusation. I saw when that happened to you, more than once. It is unfair and unjust and is pure raw aggression poorly disguised. It has happened to me and lots of people from time to time in various circumstances. I can barely restrain my fury when it happens, but it is necessary to do so, because once you show anger the one who aggressed against you can claim ‘got-ya’. As in ‘see, I touched a nerve so I must be right’. They win, you lose, and the game goes on.

  153. Jack wrote:

    There are corporate cults, marketing cults even diet & exercise cults.
    I think what marks a cult is the level of control exercised, particularly over the minutia. What to wear, who to marry, what you read, how much sleep and so on.
    Anyone can be co-opted into a cult.

    Spot on, Jack.

  154. From Challies’ article concerning “The Shack”

    “Conclusion

    The Shack presents God in human flesh. It makes the infinite finite, the invisible visible, the omnipotent impotent, the all-present local, the spiritual material. In its visual portrayal of God it diminishes, it obfuscates, it blasphemes, it lies. Even though I would watch the film to help others interpret it and to bring correction to error, I would still be subjecting myself to a false, blasphemous portrayal of God. I cannot allow myself to watch it even for that purpose. I cannot and will not watch or review it.”

    brian wrote:

    I cannot tell you how utterly ironic this is concerning how many of the YRR / neo-Calvinists etc are concerning what they do to the “image” of God. The do with letters on a page what they accuse the shack doing with images. I really believe some of these folks think deep down that the 1-17 century Christians had their own bible and everyone read etc. I found in the Shack the book a view of God that I use to have when I first became a Christian, then I learned to loath because that view was not effective, efficient, successful, got over it, moved on, went in for the big win, overcame…. I won’t go into it but the movie touched some real raw nerves because of loss, murder, family that went missing etc. It should not as we all have it coming, which was what I had drummed into me for so many decades concerning God.

    The grief scenes with “Mac” were the ones that hit the hardest because it was drilled into my soul is that a true follower of Jesus lets the dead bury their dead and you move on and get over it before it even happens. I guess the reason the movie got to me the most, and it should not have I admit, but it was that most of the folks I work with all these years do not read. That is a sin in the evangelical inc., one among many God can’t forgive. I know that is not “preached” but it is “lived” out daily from what I have observed. The Christian religion is so totally exhausting it literally sucks the life out of a soul in so many ways at times.

    It’s also ironic because none of these YRR’s have anything bad to say about C. S. Lewis (they sometimes needle him for not being Calvinist but they’re still fans of his) or the Chronicles of Narnia.

  155. Clay Crouch wrote:

    Anecdotally, all of the former and current catholics (and that’s a lot) that I know have never described their experience with the RCC they way you have. So, please forgive my skepticism.

    I’m confused myself, I admit it. I have attempted to understand also. The only thing left for me is to respect that this is Dale’s personal journey of faith.

  156. @ okrapod:
    Good morning, OKRAPOD
    I wrote about the experience of my best friend on the ‘Discussion’ section; that she had undergone a tremendous loss and subsequently changed her faith from Quaker tradition to Judaism in the years that followed. She also experienced bitterness and anger towards her former faith, and it WAS tied to the loss of her son. I’ve never seen such grief.

    Sometimes people go through seemingly unbearable experiences that redirect their lives. That is what I know because I have seen my friend’s suffering and witnessed her own responses to it.

    We all bring to the conversation our own experiences and perspectives. I stand by my comments.

  157. Darlene wrote:

    And imagine when that cult is communal. The folks who are in that cult live in that cult.

    I think the more things that a group does to make it difficult to leave (cutting you off from others, communal living, etc) brings it closer to a cult in my eyes. There are obviously other aspects, but any group (or person for that matter) that consistently does things that make it more difficult for you to leave is suspect. There are many parallels with abuse, because it’s all about control.

  158. @ okrapod:
    Hi OKRAPOD,
    glad you saw Taylor’s link ….. what stood out to me were her remarks, this:
    “The author went on to say she wasn’t just referring to the “obvious candidates like radical Islam,” but also meant such beliefs as the idea that beating children is acceptable.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/kathleen-taylor-religious-fundamentalism-mental-illness_n_3365896.html

    My concern for people trapped in the alternate world of cult life is that a cult’s brainwashing can make what is unspeakably inhumane seem like ‘normal’ and acceptable behavior ……

    hence the Schatz parents beat the little seven year old Lydia Charity Schatz for many, many hours until her death, following the child discipline advice of the Pearls

    a better outcome? well, the little girl won’t be mispronouncing a word again or getting a scripture verse wrong anymore …

    I see what you are saying, and how it can be something that makes ‘normal’ people undergo changes in behavior ‘for a better outcome’, hence the danger of cults, especially when authorities permit cult abuses to occur under the guise of ‘freedom of religion’ …. a heavy, heavy topic, but very apropo to the Whalley situation.

  159. Nancy2 wrote:

    I don’t know if I would compare military techniques to cult techniques. Certain techniques are used, but everyone knows the end goal.

    True.

    Back to Word of Faith, I got to that list. Mind Boggling that people put up with this, to me.

    This was my favorite: You will be required to smile on command. This is called keeping your happy face.

  160. okrapod wrote:

    It is a passive-aggressive technique to label somebody as ‘hurt’ or ‘damaged’ or ‘dealing with their own issues’ or any similar statement, absent any objective and concrete evidence to establish that accusation… It is unfair and unjust and is pure raw aggression poorly disguised

    In talking about abuse over on A Cry for Justice, they listed this sort of thing as ‘Covert Aggression’ which I think is a good way to think about it.

    I associate passive aggression with happy memories of my grandmother getting us to make pies for her when she couldn’t, but no malice.

  161. Lea wrote:

    You will be required to smile on command.

    I visited a charismatic church once. At one point, the pastor shouted that it was time to get the Holy Ghost … the people promptly responded by speaking in tongues and running around the sanctuary waving flags! They got the Holy Spirit on command?! I looked at my daughter (who had been invited to sing there) and said quietly “Reckon where they want a back door in this place. I’m about to make one!”

  162. okrapod wrote:

    I personally do not see it as oppressive for some church (let us say catholic) to have procedures and doctrines, per se, but I have been told by my former husband that it is impossible to control me because most of the time I don’t even realize that anybody is even trying to do that.

    Ha! I love that anecdote. I think what Nancy said about everyone knowing the end goal is important. There is nothing wrong with someone trying to persuade you, it happens all the time. Where does that line get crossed from persuasion to control? It’s touchy and as you mentioned may personal.

    My uncle was talking about how he learned hypnotism one time, and the key was to pick the person out of the crowd who was capable of being hypnotized, iirc.

  163. Nancy2 wrote:

    Do you think these cult leaders target certain types of people? </blockquote
    Yes, I think they do. The clown out in Moscow has doctoral buddies who attracted highly educated people. Many Wartburgers and nonWartburgers think that the Federal Visionists and their predecessor, Reconstructionism, are cults. Yet both sought to recruit and were successful recruiting very highly educated people. They were drawn to it because it seemed deep and more fulfilling than the fluffy evangelicalism they came out of. Of course, many of them have now moved on to other things, but the damage done by the cult-like thinking while they were in it remains in their families and other relationships. I hope the young woman in college is able to reunite with her family, because I know some who were never able to do that.

  164. @ Dale:
    Wow. Setting aside the Catholic issue, that is put together very well and appropriate food for thought for any ministry/denomination/church.

  165. LT

    Could you revise your comment make it a bit less political. Maybe focus specifically on. the spiritual advisory committee?

  166. okrapod wrote:

    It is a passive-aggressive technique to label somebody as ‘hurt’ or ‘damaged’ or ‘dealing with their own issues’ or any similar statement, absent any objective and concrete evidence to establish that accusation.

    Exactly. That was the tactic used by our pastor on Gramp3 and me when we asked questions and were ultimately keyed out. Once you have seen the tactic, you cannot unsee it.

  167. Darlene wrote:

    What makes people vulnerable? I would say that in Christian cults, what makes people vulnerable to this kind of abuse is their desire to be faithful to God. The leadership/pastor/s observe a situation where they recognize they are able to manipulate that good desire to control people.

    Velour wrote:

    Sometimes people are going through loss or have been, which makes them vulnerable to a cult’s initial love bombing.

    Christiane wrote:

    there are studies concerning how mental and emotional illness correlate with extremist religious affiliations …

    Some vulnerability may correlate with age or stage of life, or stage of faith walk.

    Despotism targets young idealistic adults – old enough to commit but not yet mature enough to know better – such as the Brown Shirts of Hitler, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and the Cultural Revolution of Mao.

    The Desiring God group of Piper – running his org – for example, is homogeneously young adult Caucasian males.

    Among my friends, we went through a stage of faith commitment, naively laying down our lives and taking up our cross to serve. However, once we figured out it was more about the Dear Leader and less about Jesus, we grew up and moved on.

    Furthermore, today, the Dones that I know are highly mature, experienced, and knowledgeable Christians. They study the Bible, are guided by the Holy Spirit, serve in their communities, exercise their spiritual gifts, and with critical thinking (like the Bereans) consider the religious practice that crosses their paths.

  168. WOF:
    61. Don’t wear sleeveless dresses or tops
    62. Don’t wear dresses above the knees

    This rules out 90% of my summer wardrobe!

  169. Gram3 wrote:

    That was the tactic used by our pastor on Gramp3 and me when we asked questions and were ultimately keyed out.

    Ouch.

    Step 1:
    Assumption: Unless there were something wrong with you then you would agree with me.
    Observation: You do not agree with me.
    Conclusion: Therefore there is something wrong with you.

    Step 2:
    The accused now has to prove a negative or else stand intellectually emasculated.

    Step 3:
    The accused then has now indeed sustained an ego wound, and often a social or professional or interpersonal wound, and indeed there now really is ‘something wrong with you’. But since it is dang near impossible to prove a lot of negatives, or to even be believed once (s)he has submitted evidence, the accused is not only wounded but also frustrated.

    Step 4:
    The now wounded and frustrated and discredited accused may find the pain of this far too consuming and areas of the accused’s life may never recover fully.

    So why would this be so potentially lethal? Because some accusations can be disproved (you stole money for example can be investigated and disproved) but ‘there is something wrong with you’ can never be disproved because in fact there is something wrong with all of us. It just may not have anything to do with the step one issue of disagreeing with the accuser. How does one prove or disprove motivation?

    Step 5:
    This can lead to none and done, all the while the initial accuser can claim that they did not do anything wrong. All they did was surmise, and the only reason they did that was for the accused’s own good so that the accused could be healed of whatever was wrong with them. And to complicate things, it is possible that the initial accuser was not trying to be malicious and may themselves be a victim of his/her own ideology of ‘if I think it then it is right/correct’ which pretty well labels all of us to some extent.

    This can come under the heading of spiritual deadly force.

  170. okrapod wrote:

    but ‘there is something wrong with you’ can never be disproved because in fact there is something wrong with all of us

    And we’ve all been ‘hurt’ at one time or another by someone.

    So all of our intellectual conclusions are invalid? No.

  171. okrapod wrote:

    the better reasons that people evangelize

    I remember commenting about ‘evangelizing’ on the last post as a response. I am not an ‘evangelical’ in the cultural sense of denomination or politics, so I thought well,
    what DOES ‘evangelizing’ mean,
    and I came up with this:

    “roebuck wrote:
    ‘evangelical’ (what does that even mean?)”

    well, let’s see …. it contains the word ‘angel’ which means ‘messenger’, so I instinctively thought that it mean ‘the People who bring the Good News’

    So maybe these people aren’t perfect? Maybe they are human and mostly’works in progress’? Or broken vessels? And some are complete messes?

    The way I see it is that only the people who have been humbled by their own weaknesses and failures can speak of ‘the Good News’ authentically in a way that other broken people can understand. WHY? Because their humbled state has brought them into an encounter with grace. They KNOW they are sinners on whom God has looked.
    They are like the leper who was healed who returned when all the others who were healed did not.
    They have a story to tell. They carry the mark of their healing within.”

    I wonder a lot about how ‘evangelical’ turned into it’s present meaning(s). The one I like to think about best is that to ‘evangelize’ means the proclamation of the Good News. 🙂

    When you look at the Whalley youtube beatings, you realize how far they have wandered from that proclamation. I feel so sorry for the children.

  172. okrapod wrote:

    Step 5:
    This can lead to none and done, all the while the initial accuser can claim that they did not do anything wrong. All they did was surmise, and the only reason they did that was for the accused’s own good so that the accused could be healed of whatever was wrong with them.

    The initial accuser wipes his mouth and announces “I HAVE NOT SINNED.”

    And all the pre-groomed third parties cheer “HAYYYYY-MENNNN!!!!!”

  173. Max wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    You will be required to smile on command.

    “Stay Sweet!”

    I visited a charismatic church once. At one point, the pastor shouted that it was time to get the Holy Ghost … the people promptly responded by speaking in tongues and running around the sanctuary waving flags!

    Why do you think they call them Holy Rollers?

  174. Lea wrote:

    And we’ve all been ‘hurt’ at one time or another by someone.
    So all of our intellectual conclusions are invalid? No.

    Good point.

  175. okrapod wrote:

    And if anybody wants to see some stuff you may wish you had never heard check out the history of treatment methodologies for the seriously mentally ill. As recently as that year I spent as a psychiatry resident I personally pushed the button on many a patient while we shot electricity through their brain from side to side; not to forget ice water baths and isolation. When I was a student nurse on psych rotation insulin shock therapy was all the rage. I personally administered many a dose of insulin and then watched the patient until they went into insulin shock and just before it went too far gave them sugar in orange juice. But if you look back when-and not that far back, you will read about stuff that is unthinkable. But all this was done in a good cause.

    You didn’t mention the cure-all of it’s day — FRONTAL LOBOTOMY via icepick inserted through the eyesocket.

    “Free brain surgery from Doctor Icepick!”
    — Aqua Teen Hunger Force, “The Broodwich”

  176. @ Christiane:

    Thank you, Christiane, you have just demonstrated what I said when I said that you (and personally I think Dale) evangelize for all the better reasons that people do it.

    But evangelize and evangelical are not the same thing, as you point out. To evangelize is to proclaim whatever one is proclaiming, and let us hope that it is the gospel, but any more what with redefining the gospel one can be mislead on that point; just ask some of the neo-cals.

  177. Max wrote:

    I visited a charismatic church once.

    I have been in pentecostal services which were not like what you have described. However, when I was about 12 or so I was asked to play my violin at a certain pentecostal church, and they did act like that. It totally took me by surprise and scared me so badly that I made a solemn promise to God that if He would get me out of there safe and sound that I would never do that again.

    I guess He hears that a lot about a lot of stuff, and probably files it under ‘remains to be seen’.

  178. @ okrapod:
    agreed:
    to proclaim the Good News (Euongelion) is called in the Church ‘the first Gospel’

    and what I have heard in the many versions of ‘the biblical gospel’ of evangelicals is different from ‘proclamation’ ….. it gets confusing, the different versions of ‘the biblical gospel’; so I have a preference for what I know from my own background: the Euongelion for me is synonymous with ‘to evangel’

  179. MY RULES

    1. DON’T go to or join a church that has a list of 5 “Do’s” and 145 “Don’ts.” Run.

  180. Max wrote:

    I looked at my daughter (who had been invited to sing there) and said quietly “Reckon where they want a back door in this place. I’m about to make one!”

    Remember this? ….Wendy Bagwell – “Here come the rattlesnakes”. I have some distant kin in Eastern Kentucky who are of this persuasion. All I can say is that I’m glad Kentucky is an open carry state.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wne0Q3ZnjU

  181. Nancy2 wrote:

    I don’t know if I would compare military techniques to cult techniques. Certain techniques are used, but everyone knows the end goal

    And I don’t recall the military being known for ‘love bombing’ recruits.

  182. ANOTHER RULE:

    2. DON’T go to the movie theater to see a movie that gets less than 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. [The Shack movie is at 16%. Not good.] Rent it on Redbox – Maybe.

    I’ve heard interviews with Paul Young, who wrote The Shack at the insistence of his wife so his kids could understand how he thought. She thought it would be 6-8 pages, not a whole book. He sounds like a great guy. But great books don’t always translate into great movies.

  183. okrapod wrote:

    services which were not like what you have described. However, when I was about 12 or so I was asked to play my violin at a certain pentecostal church, and they did act like that. It totally took me by surprise and scared me so badly that I made a solemn promise to God that if He would get me out of there safe and sound that I would never do that again.

    Some of my kin were/are Pentecostals. My great-grand day had a brother, of whom I have ver clear and fond memories, whose family was Pentecostal. He and his wife moved here from Eastern Kentucky in the late 1940’s. When the wife, Aunt Hannie became very ill, my mom and I helped Uncle Sam and Aunt Hannie on their farm. My mom and Uncle Sam went down to the barn to feed and milk the cows; while I did chores close to the house – tended to the chickens, the dog – so I could keep a close watch on Aunt Hannie.
    The last couple of weeks of Aunt Hannie’s life, all of their children and several of their grandchildren gathered from far and wide. I had just turned 12. One day while we were there, about 15 of them decided to gather in the living room and pray. Well, they all started shouting (boy, were they loud) and speaking in tongues …….. They tried to roll on the floor and jump up and down, but there just wasn’t room to do those things. And there I was, 12 years old and trapped in a straight-back chair against an interior wall. …… couldn’t get to a door or window without literally climbing over my kinfolk…….. I wasn’t really afraid of the people. (After all, they were family. I had known Uncle Sam and Aunt Hannie my whole life. Cousin Emma cut my hair.) I was afraid of their behavior, and just plain dumbfounded. I definitely wanted out of there that day, but I continued to go to their farm and do what I could to help. But after that, I made it a point to choose a seat by a window or door when I sat with Aunt Hannie – and I did exercise the ability to exit the premises a couple of times.

  184. GSD wrote:

    MY RULES

    1. DON’T go to or join a church that has a list of 5 “Do’s” and 145 “Don’ts.” Run.

    Can you imagine joining a church and then getting this list??

    My favorite was ‘don’t worry if you forget something, we will constantly tell you if you get anything wrong’ bit at then end!

  185. @ Nancy2:

    I hear you. A family from eastern KY moved to Louisville and into the house next door to us when the mines closed due to the railroads taking up diesel instead of coal. There was a fair size empty lot between us. The patriarch of that clan had been a preacher who was know to ‘take up serpents back home, or so one of their kids told me. They held prayer meetings in the front room with the windows all pushed up so it would be a witness to the neighbors. All my information came from one of their kids. So one summer I cut my hair and they held a prayer meeting for me because of that unbiblical act-loud and long so that the sound would get past that half acre between us. It was summer, nobody I knew had air conditioning, so our windows were up also. It was a less than inspiring moment.

  186. @ okrapod:
    That is a perfect description of this person’s plan. It did not go exactly that way. We were keyed out, but it was not very neat and tidy. That is for sure, because Gram and Gramp were not born yesterday and that was not our first rodeo, and we are sometimes wise as serpents and gentle as doves. And sometimes other people actually are paying attention. Even people who are not in that church.

  187. Gram3 wrote:

    Gram and Gramp were not born yesterday and that was not our first rodeo, and we are sometimes wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

    Oh, I can believe that. Way to go.

  188. Nancy2 wrote:

    They tried to roll on the floor and jump up and down

    we were a bible-study of women from many faith traditions (Christian) and I was invited to attend the Pentecostal Church of my friend from the study. I had never seen a service at a Pentecostal Church, so, although no one rolled on the floor, I did see a lady in front me begin to stamp her feet really hard and fast ‘in place’ …. I never forgot that, and I wondered at how many varied are the ways people express their faith

  189. Christiane wrote:

    I did see a lady in front me begin to stamp her feet really hard and fast ‘in place’ …. I never forgot that, and I wondered at how many varied are the ways people express their faith

    My momma’s daddy’s whole family moved to Todd county from Breathitt county in the 1940’s ……. My great granddaddy, 2 of his brothers, and most of their children. When I was young, I attended a very conservative, stiff-upper-lip General Baptist church. Most of my mom’s kin went there. But, I had this great aunt, my granddaddy’s brother’s wife that kinda leaned Pentecostal. She didn’t jump or roll, but occasionally she would stand up and get ta hootin’ and hollerin’ and wavin’ her hands during the preachin’ and singin’. She didn’t speak in tongues – we could all understand what she was hollerin’. Nobody said anything to her ……. we just smiled. She passed away about 5 years ago.
    I am very close to the family, as is my daughter. When my daughter’s horse was young, she didn’t get along well with the cows, so we kept her on this aunt’s and uncle’s farm, next to our farm. Back in the mid ’90s, this aunt’s doc forbade her to eat sweet corn because of her severe diabetes. Lemme tell ya, this aunt had herself a chest freezer full of sweet corn, cut off the cob. She adored my daughter’s horse, so she’d just cook a little of her corn everyday…… Wait for it to cool a little …… Then she’d take the skillet over to the corner where the pasture met her yard, call for Bellestarr, and feed her the horse corn right out of the skillet …. while she would either talk to or sing old gospel songs to the horse! …….

  190. @ Christiane:

    My concern is with Dale’s very early comment to this post in which he describes how he had been in a religious cult for a number years. I thought he was comparing his experience, minus the physical abuse, to the WOF church in Spindale. I was surprised to read in a subsequent comment that his “cult” experience was the RCC. I find that comparison extreme. One may have issues with dogma, doctrine, and theology, but that is not the same as cultish behavior. Don’t even get me started on John “Grace to You” MacArthur.

  191. JYJames wrote:

    Among my friends, we went through a stage of faith commitment, naively laying down our lives and taking up our cross to serve. However, once we figured out it was more about the Dear Leader and less about Jesus, we grew up and moved on.

    Good for you and your friends.

    I hope many people stuck in these groups that are about Dear Leaders will wise up as well.
    I had to see many people I loved and admired, dear Christians, get up and walk out of the NeoCalvinist/9 Marxist/John MacArthur-ite church that we went — and say nothing about why they were leaving — for me to realize that there was something terribly wrong with the church. I had begun to suspect it on my own. Their leaving confirmed it.

  192. Nancy2 wrote:

    But after that, I made it a point to choose a seat by a window or door when I sat with Aunt Hannie – and I did exercise the ability to exit the premises a couple of times.

    Hysterical.

    That’s why you are a Fearless Leader at Camp Backbone. You are one smart cookie!

  193. Nancy2 wrote:

    Back in the mid ’90s, this aunt’s doc forbade her to eat sweet corn because of her severe diabetes. Lemme tell ya, this aunt had herself a chest freezer full of sweet corn, cut off the cob. She adored my daughter’s horse, so she’d just cook a little of her corn everyday…… Wait for it to cool a little …… Then she’d take the skillet over to the corner where the pasture met her yard, call for Bellestarr, and feed her the horse corn right out of the skillet …. while she would either talk to or sing old gospel songs to the horse! …….

    I LOVE THIS!! I would have loved to know this lady, I think …. she sounds like she was my kind of people. Anyone who spends time singing gospel songs to a beloved horse is honoring the Creator. What a sweetheart!

  194. Nancy2 wrote:

    while she would either talk to or sing old gospel songs to the horse! …….

    Well I guess I’m not losing it after all when I talk to my fence lizards, humming birds, and the red-tailed hawks wheeling on the thermals.

  195. Gram3 wrote:

    there are non-Calvinista Reformed readers of TWW who regularly read comments about Calvin’s Geneva-and-no-wonder-the-Calvinistas-are-so-bad-and the 5 points makes God a monster and on and on. Think about it.

    *raises hand* (although I’m not really reformed I’m in a reformed denom).

  196. Muff Potter wrote:

    fence lizards

    From Wikipedia: “Male fence lizards often do ‘push-ups’ to attract mates and to warn other males encroaching on their territory.”

    I’ve seen that at Gold’s Gym!

  197. We lost one of our dogs a little over an hour ago. Amos Moses – he turned 4 last month. We live near the corner of a highway and our dead end road. My husband was working on the yard. Amos saw a squirrel run across the highway and ran after it …… the driver tried to stop. ………. Amos died instantly.
    It hurts. I’m fighting back tears as I type this, but it’s okay. You see, Amos had been having seizures for a little over a year. The seizures frightened Amos immensely, and left completely exhausted for a couple of days. They were gradually getting worse. We did what we could for him, but the seizures kept happening. 3 weeks ago, he went into a series of seizures that lasted almost 3 hours. Maybe Amos’ sudden death, in God’s infinite mercy and wisdom, was just a way to keep him from getting progressively worse …….. maybe so that we wouldn’t be forced to make the choice to put him down intentionally.
    I post this, in large part, because of John Piper’s article on dogs. If JP goes to heaven, I hope Amos bites his fanny when he walks through the gates…….. just to …… you know ….. give God some glory.
    I already miss Amos, but no more seizures for him. No more holding him for an hour or two, or three, to keep him from choking on his own tongue. He’s buried under an oak tree where our meets the hayfield. Amos, rest in peace.

  198. Lea wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    but ‘there is something wrong with you’ can never be disproved because in fact there is something wrong with all of us

    And we’ve all been ‘hurt’ at one time or another by someone.
    So all of our intellectual conclusions are invalid? No.

    And the stares and sighs of Pity and condescending “There There” pat-pat-pats on the head are worse than flat-out hostility.

  199. Velour wrote:

    I am a Protestant, raised between two major faiths in my family — Presbyterians and Russian Orthodox Christians.

    That’s quite a combination.
    How explosive was that mixture?

  200. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    I am a Protestant, raised between two major faiths in my family — Presbyterians and Russian Orthodox Christians.
    That’s quite a combination.
    How explosive was that mixture?

    Quiet Scottish Presbyterians and quiet, hardworking, farming/ranching Russian Orthodox Christians got along just fine. And the meals and celebrations were out of this world! Everyone was kind and grew to love and respect the other side of the family.

  201. @ Friend:

    Thanks for that link. I was wondering from where I am in California why members of that cult haven’t been prosecuted.

  202. Velour wrote:

    Their leaving confirmed it.

    Actually, a lot of confirming here on TWW. When it doesn’t pass the smell test, it doesn’t pass the smell test. However, it helps to know others are sensing the same.

  203. When I first got saved, I went to a charismatic church with friends that was very much like this Word of Faith church. They violently pushed me over during an altar call, then claimed it was God that did it. They did the same thing to others. Some of the other students I knew who were members of that church said and did utterly ridiculous things, and often claimed if you didn’t stay emotional all the time that you weren’t “in the Spirit”.

    I didn’t continue to go to charismatic churches, and I’m sure there are some decent ones out there, but many of my friends from that background lead very unstable lives. They are stricken by every whim, and believe that anything bad happens is God punishing them and they deserve it. It’s a terrible way to live. Churches like this want to keep people unstable fearful, and dependent on emotional highs, so they can abuse them and keep them coming back for more.

  204. @ Nancy2:
    I am so sorry about what happened to poor Amos! Losing a pet is always difficult when you are a dog lover.

    This tragedy has brought to mind what happened to my very first dog. She was a mutt named Sally. We got her as a puppy, and the first day we had her she got away and started running up our road toward an intersection. I was chasing her in an attempt to catch her.

    Just as she got into the intersection, she was struck by a VW Beetle and killed. The driver didn’t stop. I was 7 years old, and I realized at the time that it could have been me in the path of that car as I chased her.

    I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  205. Nancy2 wrote:

    We lost one of our dogs a little over an hour ago. Amos Moses – he turned 4 last month. We live near the corner of a highway and our dead end road. My husband was working on the yard. Amos saw a squirrel run across the highway and ran after it …… the driver tried to stop. ………. Amos died instantly.
    It hurts. I’m fighting back tears as I type this, but it’s okay. You see, Amos had been having seizures for a little over a year. The seizures frightened Amos immensely, and left completely exhausted for a couple of days. They were gradually getting worse. We did what we could for him, but the seizures kept happening. 3 weeks ago, he went into a series of seizures that lasted almost 3 hours. Maybe Amos’ sudden death, in God’s infinite mercy and wisdom, was just a way to keep him from getting progressively worse …….. maybe so that we wouldn’t be forced to make the choice to put him down intentionally.
    I post this, in large part, because of John Piper’s article on dogs. If JP goes to heaven, I hope Amos bites his fanny when he walks through the gates…….. just to …… you know ….. give God some glory.
    I already miss Amos, but no more seizures for him. No more holding him for an hour or two, or three, to keep him from choking on his own tongue. He’s buried under an oak tree where our meets the hayfield. Amos, rest in peace.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Nancy2. Losing a beloved pet is difficult under any circumstances. You will one day see him over the rainbow bridge. Yes, I believe that ALL creation will be redeemed.

  206. @ Nancy2:

    I missed your comment about Amos and then saw Deb’s comment. I am so sorry about Amos. And the seizures, poor creature. Under an oak tree is a good place; it shows that people loved him.

  207. Nancy2 wrote:

    I post this, in large part, because of John Piper’s article on dogs. If JP goes to heaven, I hope Amos bites his fanny when he walks through the gates…….. just to …… you know ….. give God some glory.
    I already miss Amos, but no more seizures for him. No more holding him for an hour or two, or three, to keep him from choking on his own tongue. He’s buried under an oak tree where our meets the hayfield. Amos, rest in peace.

    Oh beloved friend Nancy2,

    I am so sorry that you and your husband lost a family member, your dog Amos.
    Even in your grief, you are still as funny as all get out!

    Love and hugs from California,

    Velour

  208. Friend wrote:

    @ Deb:
    New Associated Press piece about WOFF Spindale: “Ex-sect members tell AP: Prosecutors obstructed abuse cases”

    https://apnews.com/7f8b11fa9b544f5e9a81efef90c52101/Ex-sect-members-tell-AP:-Prosecutors-obstructed-abuse-cases

    If the allegations that assistant DAs participated in helping the sect prepare for testimony are true, the state bar association can accept a complaint from anyone with knowledge of this. This article is quite frightening as far as the control over potential testimony that is exercised. I do understand the prosecutor’s that if “upstanding” members of the community are saying that the accusers are lying, it’s going to be hard to bring a case. It actually sounds like it might need an undercover operation.

  209. ishy wrote:

    When I first got saved, I went to a charismatic church with friends that was very much like this Word of Faith church. They violently pushed me over during an altar call, then claimed it was God that did it. They did the same thing to others.

    I am so glad that you got out of there, Ishy. I hope others get out of there too and lead stable lives.

  210. Abi Miah wrote:

    . I do understand the prosecutor’s that if “upstanding” members of the community are saying that the accusers are lying, it’s going to be hard to bring a case.

    District attorneys, sheriffs, and judges in most jurisdictions are elected to office.
    If this cult comprises a major voting block in the county, then you can see why elected
    officials in the judicial system are hesitant to take action.

  211. Velour wrote:

    and judges in most jurisdictions are elected to office.

    ^above

    Exception: federal judges are not elected but are appointed.

  212. ishy wrote:

    I didn’t continue to go to charismatic churches, and I’m sure there are some decent ones out there, but many of my friends from that background lead very unstable lives. They are stricken by every whim, and believe that anything bad happens is God punishing them and they deserve it. It’s a terrible way to live. Churches like this want to keep people unstable fearful, and dependent on emotional highs, so they can abuse them and keep them coming back for more.

    This is such a good observation. First, I want to say that I am not charismatic in any sense of that word, but I am not necessarily cessationist, either. Charismatic has unfortunately been hijacked by some crazies. Since you went to seminary, do you agree or disagree that perhaps some of the Calvinista guys are compensating for the same fear and instability with extreme intellectual rather than extreme emotional means? I hear the same themes of unworthiness, self-hatred, fear, worship of the guru, dependence on the guru for affirmation, etc.

  213. Friend wrote:

    New Associated Press piece about WOFF Spindale: “Ex-sect members tell AP: Prosecutors obstructed abuse cases”

    https://apnews.com/7f8b11fa9b544f5e9a81efef90c52101/Ex-sect-members-tell-AP:-Prosecutors-obstructed-abuse-cases

    Gee, it sounds like the very successful cult of greed and power, which has a number of attorneys in its organization. (That’d be Scientology.) Next we’ll find out that they have private investigators. You watch…

    But seriously, this is looking bad for the church and the assistant DAs. I’m hoping this causes WoFF some real hurt.

  214. Nancy2, I’m so sorry that you have lost your beloved pet. Our furry friends sure do tug at our heart strings.

  215. Velour wrote:

    @ Friend:

    Thanks for that link. I was wondering from where I am in California why members of that cult haven’t been prosecuted.

    Assistant DAs who were WoF members.
    Laws of Men or Word of GAWD and all that.
    Well, that’s one of the more important of the Seven Mountains…

    Velour, isn’t that Obstruction of Justice?

    And when I looked up Spindale NC, it seemed to be in the Appalachian foothills in the western part of the state. Does anyone know anything about that area, i.e. “buckle on the Bible Belt”?

  216. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    But seriously, this is looking bad for the church and the assistant DAs. I’m hoping this causes WoFF some real hurt.

    Or whether Spindale is an Appalachian Moscow Idaho.

  217. Velour wrote:

    Abi Miah wrote:
    . I do understand the prosecutor’s that if “upstanding” members of the community are saying that the accusers are lying, it’s going to be hard to bring a case.

    District attorneys, sheriffs, and judges in most jurisdictions are elected to office.
    If this cult comprises a major voting block in the county, then you can see why elected
    officials in the judicial system are hesitant to take action.

    “Some will say what we do is illegal. Before that can happen, make sure WE are the ones who define what is legal and what is not.”
    — L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology

  218. JYJames wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Everyone was kind and grew to love and respect the other side of the family.
    Lovely. Need more of that.

    I’m inclined to think that one day in Glory, when we are no longer dwelling in this Vale of Tears, we will finally love and respect those who were so different from us on earth. In a flash, a quick moment of time (albeit time as we know it will very likely not exist) – it will come to us. All those I considered deceived Christians of that other denomination/church are here with me in Christ’s eternal kingdom. And I have no doubt hugs of joy will abound. I know, I know – it’s a bit saccharine, but I can dream, can’t I? 😉

  219. Abi Miah wrote:

    I do understand the prosecutor’s that if “upstanding” members of the community are saying that the accusers are lying, it’s going to be hard to bring a case. It actually sounds like it might need an undercover operation.

    Out here, that would mean a corruption investigation at the State or Federal level. The higher the better, as local authorities are definitely compromised.

    What’s the corruption level in Raleigh?
    (And in the Age of Trump, I have doubts about a Federal-level investigation – the FBI/DOJ is too busy trying to ride the chaos.)

  220. Gram3 wrote:

    Cultic thinking can arise among lots of different religions and denominations. In fact I cannot think of any exceptions. None.

    Indeed. And that is why it is advantageous to separate between a denomination and the various people within it. There are some extreme, what I would call alt-Right folks in the Orthodox Church. They are fearful that the church will be taken over by the Radical Liberals. And there are those on the opposite side of the spectrum who fear the alt-Right will increasingly influence people’s thinking. It doesn’t take long for people to be swayed by cultic thinking when fear is the motivating factor.

  221. Friend wrote:

    @ Deb:
    New Associated Press piece about WOFF Spindale: “Ex-sect members tell AP: Prosecutors obstructed abuse cases”

    https://apnews.com/7f8b11fa9b544f5e9a81efef90c52101/Ex-sect-members-tell-AP:-Prosecutors-obstructed-abuse-cases

    Including this little excerpt:

    Inside the church’s 35-acre compound, located between Charlotte and Asheville, Whaley took critical steps to cripple the two-year investigation, 21 former members told the AP.

    “They would have meeting after meeting every time DSS was coming,” said Rick Cooper, whose family was among those investigated. “They’d ask: ‘How would you answer this question?’ If you answered it wrong, they would severely scold you in public and say: ‘No, this is the way you should answer that question. This is the way that God would have you answer this question.'”

    Former member Jamey Anderson said parents and children were ordered to tell social workers no abuse had taken place and to lie about beatings and other physical discipline.

    “We were too scared to say anything — too scared to tell them the truth,” said Anderson, 28, who left Word of Faith in 2006 and is now an attorney. “We were told if we didn’t answer the questions the right way, we would go to hell.”

    And somebody upthread mentioned Scientology?

    The former members said they also witnessed Whaley grilling dozens of congregants who had been in the Lower Building with Lowry, including some who said they had seen him beaten.

    “She would scream if somebody started telling the truth about what happened,” said Rick Cooper, who spent a year imprisoned there.

    Sec Check…

    Whaley’s team also took part in a campaign to smear Lowry’s character, according to two former members.

    Consulting his legal notes, Jeffrey Cooper recounted a meeting where the lawyers collectively “put together bullet points on how to discredit him.”

    Fair Game Law LRH…

  222. Thanks to all for the kind comments concerning the loss Amos, our dog.
    If you would, I ask you to please remember other dogs, Lizzie, Allie, and Bumbles. I’m afraid the next few days/weeks will be a difficult time for them – Miss Lizzie (aka Queen Elizabeth III) in particular. She is only 3 months older than Amos, and we aquired each of them as very young puppies (less than 9 weeks old). The two grew up together – the dynamic duo. Lizzie feels the loss – her behavior has been very out of character these last few hours.

  223. @ Darlene:
    Yes.

    http://bit.ly/2lQeqSb

    “I see [friends] from ev’ry nation
    Bowing down before the throne

    Like the sound of many waters
    Like the rushing wind around us
    Multitudes join the song

    And a symphony of praise arises
    Tears are wiped away from eyes
    As [friends] from every tongue
    and tribe all sing

    Holy holy, God Almighty
    Who was, who is and is to come …”

  224. Nancy2 wrote:

    under an oak tree where our meets the hayfield.

    Thanks for sharing this visual.
    Sorry for your loss, and God bless you all.

  225. Nancy2 wrote:

    It hurts. I’m fighting back tears as I type this, but it’s okay.

    Me n’ Mrs. Muff are with ya’ Nancy2. We have two little rescued dogs that we love as if they were our own human children.

    “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
    — From the Revelation of St. John the Divine —

  226. Nancy2,

    Praying for your pups and I am sorry for your loss of your faithful dog.

    Hugs,
    Velour

  227. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    @ Friend:
    Thanks for that link. I was wondering from where I am in California why members of that cult haven’t been prosecuted.
    Assistant DAs who were WoF members.
    Laws of Men or Word of GAWD and all that.
    Well, that’s one of the more important of the Seven Mountains…
    Velour, isn’t that Obstruction of Justice?
    And when I looked up Spindale NC, it seemed to be in the Appalachian foothills in the western part of the state. Does anyone know anything about that area, i.e. “buckle on the Bible Belt”?

    They were supposed to recuse themselves where they had a conflict of interest and be open about it.

  228. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “We were told if we didn’t answer the questions the right way, we would go to hell.”

    Isn’t it strange how a person can be convinced that he’ll go to hell if he tells the truth! God requires you to lie yet the Bible is very clear that lying is evil. It’s just so amazing that a person’s mind can hold opposing views for such a long time, a lifetime for many people. How does this happen.

  229. siteseer wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    “We were told if we didn’t answer the questions the right way, we would go to hell.”
    Isn’t it strange how a person can be convinced that he’ll go to hell if he tells the truth! God requires you to lie yet the Bible is very clear that lying is evil. It’s just so amazing that a person’s mind can hold opposing views for such a long time, a lifetime for many people. How does this happen.

    Siteseer, as I’ve said on various occasions, fear is a great motivator. We were encouraged in my former Christian cult to lie, because lying served a Greater Purpose. The ends justify the means. In fact, the leader/pastor convinced us at the time that even Jesus lied when he told his brothers that He was not going up to the feast, but in the end He showed up anyway. (ch. 7 of John’s gospel) Well who can argue against that? If Jesus did it then so can I.

  230. Gram3 wrote:

    do you agree or disagree that perhaps some of the Calvinista guys are compensating for the same fear and instability with extreme intellectual rather than extreme emotional means? I hear the same themes of unworthiness, self-hatred, fear, worship of the guru, dependence on the guru for affirmation, etc.

    Hmmm, interesting question. No, and yes. I think people are attracted to Calvinista churches because of wanting that intellectual superiority or they believe everything will be done “right”. It starts out with a very different perception of God and the church. I think the manipulation is much more subtle until you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of the law. I think from many of the stories we’ve read here, people believe they are doing the right thing, but suddenly awful things happen to them and the church says they it’s their fault.

    In those charismatic churches I went to, a lot of people were raised that way and had never known anything different. I don’t think neo-Calvinism can last that long, but maybe it will start having people with the same sort of dependent mentality in twenty years. That constant searching for an emotional high is much like that of addicts (good bit of addiction in my family). It’s almost if they try to think deeply about it, they stop thinking, because the emotional high stops.

    I think that desire to be superior and/or in charge in the neo-Calvinista crowd does become an addiction for some, and definitely for those at the top, but it’s not what attracts the majority to it. I think a lot of people just think they are doing the right thing, and haven’t even noticed their churches don’t talk about Christ and have become very insular. But I think eventually there will be those who’ve been raised in it who are relentlessly seeking that leadership “high”, and have never known any different, so they can’t stop.

  231. Darlene wrote:

    Maybe Amos’ sudden death, in God’s infinite mercy and wisdom, was just a way to keep him from getting progressively worse …….. maybe so that we wouldn’t be forced to make the choice to put him down intentionally.

    I am so, so sorry you are hurting over losing the little Amos. Without doubt, you loved him dearly. I read your comment about the ‘maybe’ of the mercy of God to take Amos quickly and spare him suffering over a long time,
    and I thought: that would be 2 merciful gifts:
    the sparing of progressive illness for an innocent creature of God that couldn’t understand and was frightened by it;
    AND the Comforter coming along side to put that thought into Nancy Two’s heart

    It is said that the ‘chesed’ of God is a ‘loving-kindness’ that ANTICIPATE our needs, and it is also said that the ‘chesed’ of God is His greatest characteristic.

    Our whole wounded Creation awaits its renewal. In the meantime, we ARE being cared for by the great mercy of God. I believe this. In heaven, there will be puppies, beautiful healthy happy puppies. Yes.

  232. ishy wrote:

    I’ve always tried to make a distinction between classical Calvinism and neo-Calvinism. For one thing, I believe most classical Calvinists do not abandon Christ in favor of the lordship of the church.

    I know this to be true, from seeing my friends who are Dutch Reformed in NJ. The difference is day and night, or if you will, ‘light’ versus ‘darkness’. 🙂

  233. siteseer wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    “We were told if we didn’t answer the questions the right way, we would go to hell.”
    Isn’t it strange how a person can be convinced that he’ll go to hell if he tells the truth! God requires you to lie yet the Bible is very clear that lying is evil. It’s just so amazing that a person’s mind can hold opposing views for such a long time, a lifetime for many people. How does this happen.

    I was reading the other day a woman who was told they couldn’t report sexual abuse because they would cause the abuser to go to hell! Apparently this errant judgement is being peddled in all sorts of places.

  234. Darlene wrote:

    Well who can argue against that? If Jesus did it then so can I.

    Darlene there are examples of people lying for good purpose in the bible to protect israel. I do think there are occasions where lies serve to protect. This is maybe where you get into following the spirit not the letter of the laws? But how lying to protect evil could be justified (as in WOF) is beyond me. Then again, I’m sure they were convinced they were good and not evil. What a tangle.

  235. Christiane wrote:

    @ Lea:
    It would help if you gave links. Thanks.

    It was on tim’s blog, and came from an old NYTimes link. I don’t have time to look it up right now.

  236. Christiane wrote:

    ‘extreme’ breeds ‘extreme’

    Communism begets Objectivism.
    Totally 180 opposite, equally One True Way, equally extreme, equally zealous/on fire.

  237. Velour wrote:

    @ Friend:
    Thanks for that link. I was wondering from where I am in California why members of that cult haven’t been prosecuted.

    Helps to have the DA in Pastor’s pocket.

  238. @ Nancy2:

    Thank you Nancy! Yes, specifically this comment “The person who supposedly counseled me told me if I reported a person like that to the police, I was damaging the cause of Christ, and I would be responsible for the abuser going to hell.”

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Helps to have the DA in Pastor’s pocket.

    It sounds like all the witnesses just lied convincingly? At least that’s how I was reading it. Because they apparently did go to trial at some point. “Court records show that three of the defendants were acquitted, while charges against the fourth were dropped.”

  239. @ Nancy2:
    Thanks, NANCY TWO

    oh my goodness, it’s Bob Jones U.

    if what is in this article is true, then the university has much guilt for how they’ve treated victims

    it says they are not affiliated with a denomination, so are they considered a ‘cult’ or just extreme ?

  240. Christiane wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    Thanks, NANCY TWO
    oh my goodness, it’s Bob Jones U.

    The same Bob Jones U where Republican Presidential Candidates used to kick off their campaigns, making pilgrimage to BJU to receive the Anointing from the ManaGAWD himself.

  241. Bill M wrote:

    You people are all violating Commandment #137:
    “Don’t complain about the list of “don’ts”.”

    Isn’t that the First Commandment of Fight Club?

  242. Velour wrote:

    District attorneys, sheriffs, and judges in most jurisdictions are elected to office.
    If this cult comprises a major voting block in the county…

    Like what the Rajneeshees attempted in Antelope, Oregon?

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