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Churches that Abuse #6

Manipulation and Control

    
                          CHURCHES THAT ABUSE #6

                             RONALD M. ENROTH

                               Written 1992



CHURCHES THAT ABUSE

                          


MANIPULATION AND CONTROL 

Abusive Churches Use Fear, Guilt, and Threats


     Tom Brown's story of his involvement in the Korea-based
University Bible Fellowship (UBF) typifies the victimization of
young, idealistic college students on campuses across the
country. In their intense desire to seek and serve the true God,
they are taken advantage of by sometimes sincere individuals who
exploit their ideals to achieve personal goals and fulfillment.
Fortunately for Tom, he was not left with a "shipwrecked faith"
as so many others have been.
     Tom's involvement with UBF began in 1979, during his junior
year at Northwestern University. His fraternity roommate of the
previous year had been studying with UBF missionary "Sweety"
Rhee. When he roommate did not return to school, Sweety turned
her attention to Tom. Although at first he hesitated to accept
her invitation to attend a UBF worship service, Tom felt that God
may have been answering his prayer for a good Bible study to
attend. So he accepted the invitation. Ile was impressed by the
earnestness that UBF members displayed, as well as their
spiritual intensity, which he found very refreshing. Most of the
congregation happened to be Korean missionaries who had come to
evangelize on American college campuses.

     During his years at Northwestern, Tom had been struggling to
grow as a Christian and sincerely desired to find a Bible study
in which he could participate and minister to other college
students like himself. UBF seemed to be an answer to prayer.
Sweety "took very good care" of Tom during this initial phase,
teaching him to write "sogams"-personal confessions based on
Bible passages selected by the leader-calling him every week,
walking him home, and buying him dinner.
     Tom now realizes that he was "love bombed" by Sweety during
this phase, particularly since Sweety was derogatively known as a
"no-sheep missionary" among the other UBF Korean staff. Tom was
her only student in an organization where individually teaching
the Bible to many students is the chief goal. Along with the
"love bombing" came initial subtle manipulations of Tom's time
and behavior, as well as mystical stories of God's providence and
judgment toward the Fellowship. All of this left a deep
impression on Tom.
     Over time, Sweety learned all about Tom, including his
desire to earn a Ph.D. degree and become a nationally recognized
expert in his field of study. It was at this point that "Sweety
told me that I should give up my own plans because they were a
result of sinful selfishness. She said that I should serve Jesus
instead." Having set the barb of guilt, Sweety waited until Tom
"made the decision to cut off my own future direction and wait
for God's new direction for my life." Tom suffered a good deal
due to that drastic decision. "Sometimes I cried because of my
sense of loss and frustration."
     After his first four months with UBF, Tom met the leader,
Samuel Lee, a short man who spoke broken English. Lee began doing
things that made Tom feel special. In turn, Tom responded to the
attention and recognition, and, for the group's Spring Conference
of 1980, he was asked by Lee to deliver a message. At this point,
Tom's intense indoctrination began.
     "Message training" is one of the ways UBF leaders "help"
students to deepen their commitment to the group. Tom began by
studying 1 Corinthians 15 with Samuel Lee. He was required to
memorize and recite the passage for Lee each time they met. Tom
was then to write his own message on the passage using Lee's
previously written message as a guide. After several revisions,
essentially Tom had Samuel Lee's own message to deliver at the
Spring Conference. The point was that he had had the opportunity
to "struggle with the Word of God and learn from Samuel Lee" as
all the Korean missionaries already knew. What Tom and the other
Americans did not know at the time was that the Korean
missionaries considered Americans to be spiritually inferior to
them. "Many of the Korean UBF members call Korea 'Mt. Zion' and
refer to non-Koreans as 'Gentiles.'"
     As Tom acknowledges, his behavior and perceptions were
already changing by the time of the conference. He had
manipulated a number of his friends to attend, and, when one
balked at the registration fee, Tom told him that payment was a
sign of his "commitment to God" and a measure of his "spiritual
desire." By the end of the conference, Tom was praying that God
would establish him as a Bible teacher for American college
students, all past aspirations of doctoral work having been put
aside as fleshly, human pride.

     Further indoctrination was carried out when Tom and several
other American UBF students were invited by Lee to accompany him
on his annual "world mission report" journey to Korea. Tom began
preparing on his own for the trip by sleeping on the floor,
knowing that Koreans did not sleep in beds. He was quite
disappointed when Lee and his entourage stayed in hotels
and slept on the beds. He was also instructed to write an
autobiography of his life, which would be the basis for the
testimony he would give in Korea.
     Although his parents were terribly concerned about his
making the trip, given the civil unrest in Korea at the time, Tom
put aside their fears as evidence of their lack of faith. During
the flight and the first day after their arrival, Lee made the
students share their autobiographies, after which he would
comment about their characters and basic problems. They were then
told to condense their writings down to a six-page testimony. It
was at this point that Lee began comparing Tom to the apostle
Paul; hence one of Tom's UBF nicknames, Tom Paul.
     While in Korea, Lee focused his attention on Tom's
"training." He made Tom team leader over the other students,
encouraged him to focus more on the other students than on his
own testimony, and yet continually had him revise and rewrite his
testimony, which by this time was retitled, "True Greatness." Tom
explains the point of the title: "I had lived my life up to this
time seeking human greatness for myself. My decision now was to
live as a great servant of God like the apostle Paul."
     Lee also began to drive wedges between Tom and his parents,
telling Tom that they didn't want him to become a man of God but
only a dutiful son. By the end of the journey, Tom had a great
vision to become the apostle Paul for the 21st century-through
UBF, of course.

     Upon returning to Illinois, Tom commuted one hundred miles
each day to minister to his sheep in Chicago. Because it was
summer break, he lived at home with his parents and worked for
his father, but was committing all of his extra time to UBF and
the Summer Conference. Sweety put great pressure on him to leave
his home to minister full-time in Chicago, and, after a few
weeks, he told his parents that he was leaving. His parents, not
understanding the power of UBF influence on Tom, spoke to him
about his responsibility to make money for his senior year. After
Tom responded that he must also do the work of God, his father
gave him an ultimatum. Tom packed and left the next day, fully
believing that to stay would mean going against God's will. He
reasoned that this was part of the persecution ene must expect
when serving God. Further, his action insured that his "human
relationship" with his parents was severed. As Tom says, "Now I
was only a servant of God."
     After his move, Tom suffered a great deal over his emotional
separation from his family. Several of the women missionaries at
the UBF center consoled him. According to Tom, many male students
in UBF develop a kind of maternal dependency on the women
missionaries, related perhaps to the sexually repressive
atmosphere of the organization.
     He also began to have an attraction for Lee's teenaged
daughter, Sarah. At this point, another form of spiritual
discipline became an integral part of Tom's indoctrination.
"Sweety hit the roof. She harshly rebuked me over and over for my
'sinful desires' for Sarah. Whenever I opened my mouth to
protest, she rebuked me more." This response, according to UBF
philosophy, was actually demonstrating love for the American
students who were lost in their "fleshly desires." Sweety was
eventually rebuked-by Samuel Lee-for badgering and rebuking
Sarah.
     Tom, not able to control his feelings for Sarah, entered
into a pit of guilt, shame, and depression. Sweety continued to
berate him. He became physically ill. Lee entered into "no-mercy
message training" with him. He was given the passage Mark
8::27-38, on Peter's confession of Christ, to prepare for the
Summer Conference. Tom was required to write and rewrite the
message many times. Each time, Lee would rebuke him more and give
him additional rewriting directions. As Tom says, "This served to
completely break down my ego. After a week of this training, I
felt like I was at the bottom of a deep pit of my sins and
weaknesses. No one could help me. I felt I had betrayed God in my
sinful life. All I had were sins and sinful desires." He was now
ready for additional "training."

     Preparation for Summer Conference usually reached fever
pitch the three weeks prior to the event. It was during these
times that extensive spiritual manipula tion and indoctrination
occurred. Lee would meet nightly with all the UBF staff, accusing
some of "playing Satan," and actually saying that he had prayed
they would die if they did not repent. He rebuked some, praised
others, and made the "no-sheep" missionaries get together to
repent, ridiculing the students' personal problems. He led them
all in shouting prayers of repentance that sometimes lasted for
hours. These prayers, when spoken correctly in a group of people,
could communicate a great deal without one's ever having to speak
directly and substantively. Lee would often pray, "Our Father,
have mercy on Shepherd Tom Paul (Tom's nickname). He has no
spirit." That kind of ambiguous prayer left the victim in a state
of confusion and guilt, especially, "when you ask God to forgive
someone of something of which they are not aware." Tom himself
was to use this same technique later on in his "ministry"- with
UBF.
     After struggling a great deal over whether to complete his
college studies, Tom decided to finish out his last year.
However, since up to this time his parents had supplemented his
income, he was now forced to make up the difference by working as
a park grounds keeper. This was heavy work for a man of only 121
pounds. It was at this point, after the rigors of the Summer
Conference, that Lee entered Tom into "eating training" and
"international stomach training." That meant he was forced to eat
far beyond his capacity and to "eat all kinds of foods so that I
could become a missionary." Lee would make comments about his
picky eating habits and encourage Tom to "overcome" himself by
eating foods he knew were too much for his digestive system.
Although he did gain fifteen pounds, he suffered greatly. "I ate
so much food at dinner that my fraternity brothers could not
believe it."
     Believing that equipment failures at the park were God's
message to him about his unbelief in providence - an emphasis on
suffering typical of UBF - Tom quit his job and wrote home
demanding that his parents support his schooling. His parents did
not budge. In the fall, after completing his "eating training,"
Tom embarked on "hair training," supposedly to give him a more
pleasing appearance. He was given a permanent and was not allowed
to cut his hair. He also had it curled before every worship
service. According to Tom, "My hair grew longer than everyone in
my fraternity except the house hippie." His appearance was
further altered by his wearing of suits (the pants of which
always had to have belt loops according to Leeone of Lee's
idiosyncratic and unexplainable quirks). "Voice training" was
next, in order to make Tom's speaking voice more powerful,
especially since he was beginning to preside over many meetings.
Lee would alternately tell Tom after each of these meetings that
he "did not have enough spirit" or that he was "grandstanding"
and that "he needed to repent." The inner conflict and confusion
left Tom baffled-and open to further "training."
     At this point, Tom was in his last year of school. He
refused to return home for Thanksgiving since it was purely a
"human" celebration and not one of God's concerns. He had given
up all extracurricular activities and had thrown away his entire
collection of classical and Christian music and most of his
books, and he sold his guitar. This last sacrifice was the result
of his decline into poverty - he needed the money to survive. He
was tithing twenty percent of his income (which increased to
forty percent upon graduation) and was pledging $50 per month to
the UBF world mission offering. Sweety often had to supplement
his "offering" because Tom's income was so minimal. Failure to
meet the monthly offering resulted in severe rebuke. Tom himself,
at Lee's direction, would shout and pound on tables in his rebuke
of a student's "bad attitude toward the offering."
     In the spring of 1981, his last quarter at Northwestern, Tom
moved into an apartment with his UBF sheep, Mark, partly due to
perceived persecution on the part of his fraternity brothers,
who, at this point, were sure that he was in a cult. Tom also
believed that the "spiritual environment" of the fraternity house
was too decadent.
     Lee began "testing" Tom in different ways to determine the
extent of his commitment - and indoctrination. Once, he was told
that he was to leave North western to go and pioneer the UBF work
at Harvard University. He was ready to go the next day. Lee also
would say things in order to see others' reactions and thereby
assess their "spiritual condition." At one point, he told a
missionary to give Tom his new car. The "test" got to the point
of Tom nearly driving away before Lee was satisfied with the
missionary's loyalty.
     Upon graduation, Tom visited his parents who again debated
his involvement in UBF. His mother expressly stated, to no avail,
her view that he was in a destructive group. Tom was unaffected
by her concern and her emotional distress. "I told her that I did
not want their human (as opposed to spiritual) love, and that
human love had made me very sick in my soul." The next day he
returned to Chicago to begin life as an "intern" in UBF.

     The main emphases of UBF intern training are service and
learning "faith." In preparing for leadership positions, interns
must learn to serve others and to obey their leaders. The
training may last several years, and may involve even more severe
spiritual and psychological abuse. Tom had heard that interns in
Korea may be beaten by their shepherds in order to break them of
their stubbornness and independent spirits.
     In the United States, during weekly meetings, the American
leaders are required to share their sogams on the passage they
had been studying the week before. They use Samuel Lee's messages
as the basis of their sogams. Their "sharing" gives the Korean
leaders an opportunity to "check their spiritual condition."
By the 1981 Summer Conference, Tom's internship experience had
intensified. He was rebuked by Lee as having "life security" and
"marriage" problems, accusa tions not hard to understand when one
considers that Tom was living in poverty, often skipping meals,
and, because of his experience with Sarah, afraid to even talk
with any young women. "All through the conference Lee rebuked me
and prayed for me to repent. When I told him 'I am a great
sinner,' he said, 'No, you are only a small sinner.'" Tom slept
only four hours in four days and finally had to have Lee dictate
the message he was to deliver. It took him almost two weeks to
recover from the humiliations he had suffered.
     Tom then entered into "driving training" and "humanity
training." Because of a car he received as a result of someone's
UBF-arranged marriage (dating is considered sinful indulgence and
a lack of trust in God for one's future), he became chauffeur for
the Chicago chapter of UBF. This he found hard to do, but he was
told "to do it for the glory of God." Also, because of his
supposed legalistic character and lack of human compassion, he
was told to "listen closely to many life test imonies and sogams,
read books, and see certain movies." (The "certain movies" were
intended to inform members about society, the nature of people,
and so on. These movies included "Ben Hur," simply because it was
a favorite of the leader, "Ordinary People," and "ET," which
supposedly depicted the alienation and plight of the American
teenager!) He thus learned to understand people - for the sake of
manipulating them.

     Tom began finding that he was adopting the same methods that
had been used on him in order to "train" his sheep. He would make
people stay up all night to repent, hit them with sticks for not
remembering passages, force them to run distances to "restore
their spirits," and squash "rebellion" in the same way that his
own abilities to think independently had been squashed. "At that
time, I was working out many of my personal frustrations on those
who were under my authority."
     Lee decided to deal with Tom's "marriage problem" once and
for all. He forced him to deliver a sogam entitled "Not a Dog but
a Shepherd" to the entire congregation of the Spring Conference
of 1982. Supposedly, he was "like a dog barking around a hen
house." After delivering that message before hundreds, Tom was
numb for almost two weeks. "My feelings were totally burned
away."
     Two weeks after that, Lee allowed Tom to go to Michigan
State University as part of the pioneering team (which also
included Sweety Rhee and her husband, who had joined Sweety in
the USA after living in Korea for some time). Without the
"protective environment of Chicago" and no more strong people to
depend upon,

     Tom began to have a difficult time and began losing his
direction as a "campus pioneer." The MSU Summer Conference,
designed both as a training conference for younger leaders and as
an opportunity for evangelism, was "long on rebuking and short on
sleep," and Lee dictated another message for him to deliver. Tom
began to wonder if he was being used.
     Tom got a full-time job as a maintenance man for a group of
apartments and worked for two months prior to the beginning of
the fall quarter. He gave up full-time campus pioneering for the
time being. By the time Spring Conference rolled around, his life
had become somewhat smoother, but he had actually run away from
the dissonance his doubts had caused, and was again struggling to
keep up his "ministry." Samuel Lee then "decided that he should
fight a fire under me." Tom was told by one of Lee's messengers
that "if I did not have seven one-to-one Bible studies each week,
I would have to come to Chicago for additional training."
     Tom went out every day to invite students to study the Bible
with him. After two weeks, he had twelve Bible students. He also
was successful in recruiting three women students, unusual in
that UBF has proportionately more men than women (the goal being
to raise up male leaders). Sweety strongly disapproved, but Tom
had declared that "by faith I would be the 'father of all
American women.'" And Samuel Lee had approved.
     Summer Conference of 1983 was pivotal for Tom. He was to
prepare a message on Luke 5:1-11, the calling of the first
disciples, and, for the first time, Samuel Lee did not want to
check it before delivery. As Tom says, "It was sink or swim."
Because of car problems and the need to get visas, he and his
passengers arrived almost a day late to the conference site in
Canada. Lee was livid. Tom was asked to write a sixty-page sogam
of apology for disappointing all those who had prayed so much for
him over the last year. Lee told him that "the most important
thing was for us as God's servants to participate in God's
history. There was no excuse for being late." Tom was told, "You
should have left three foreigners behind in a different country
and hitchhiked to the conference in order to arrive on time." He
wrote all night to prepare his message. Fortunately, Lee thought
that he was able to deliver it "with one main point and with
spirit." Tom was spared for the final round.

     In September, Tom was told by Lee that he should have a new
car for his ministry since his old one was out of commission. Lee
personally promised him four thousand dollars and UBF would also
contribute five hundred dollars. However, he was told to ask his
father or an additional four thousand dollars because "a young
man like you should have a new car." His parents, of course,
refused, saying that UBF should be responsible. After several
rounds of pointless negotiation, Tom began to get the idea that
he was being tested again. Lee told him, "You are very sharp."
Tom was to use any means available to extract the our thousand
dollars from his parents. Lee did not care how it was done. After
several attempts. Tom began to realize that "Not only was I
beginning to attempt to exert control over my parents, but I was
also beginning to actively try to control the students at the MSU
- chapter. I used my position and the Bible to get them to make
'decisions of faith' that would conform them to the image of a
servant of God that I held. I even began to rewrite messages that
students were to deliver, just as Samuel Lee had rewritten mine.
Those students who accepted my direction in writing were 'good.'
Those who did not were 'rebellious.'" Tom had become a little
Samuel Lee, and he was appalled.

     On April 1, 1984, after four years in Samuel Lee's
University Bible Fellowship, Tom was convinced to leave through
the efforts of his parents and several other concerned persons.
He says, "I give thanks to my parents for the best April Fool's
joke of my entire life."

     Spiritually abusive groups routinely use guilt, fear, and
intimidation as effective means for controlling their members. In
my opinion, the leaders consciously foster an unhealthy form of
dependency, spiritually and interpersonally, by focusing on
themes of submission, loyalty, and obedience to those in
authority. In all totalitarian environments, dependency is
necessary for subjugation. Jerry MacDonald, a student of
autocratic religious movements, noted in a 1986 paper that
authoritarian religious groups manipulate "rewards, punishments,
and experiences to systematically sever from members their past
support systems, which include their own powers of independent
and rational thinking, their ability to test, define, and
evaluate, as well as their ability to freely interact with others
about their experiences. These internal support systems are
replaced with exterior support systems under the control of the
leaders."

(How true all this is. I well remember about 1970 the WCG under
Herbert Armstrong had "secularized" the Plain Truth magazine. You
could not find the word "Christ" or "Jesus" in it. Not even the word
"God " was there. It was supposedly so the magazine could reach
more of the "unconverted" world and the "high officials" of the
world, including Presidents and Prime Ministers. At that Feast of
Tabernacles up gets Hermon Hoeh (a top guy alongside HWA) and
shouts out to us, "I know some of you are questioning the new
state of the Plain Truth magazine. Well let me tell you if you
disagree with the way it is now being written, then you are
disagreeing with God and the man God is using to do
this end time work." I sat there and said to myself, "Say what
you want Hoeh, I do disagree and this is NOT the way to spread
the Gospel of Christ." God took me out of that organization a few
years later - Keith Hunt)

     One of the areas in which manipulation is exercised in a
number of the groups discussed in this book is dating and
marriage. Young people who were members of Maranatha Christian
Ministries, also known as Maranatha Christian Churches (MCM),
including the former Miss America, Debbye Turner, were not
permitted to date. As a result of a so-called "dating revelation"
received by the leadership, MCM discourages dating practices and
cites extreme examples of sexual misconduct in the collegiate
subculture (including Christian college students) to justify its
stance. Instead, members were told to focus on serving God and
then he would bring a mate into their lives. An ex-member of MCM
comments: "The doctrine is put into practice by church members
submitting the names of other church members whom they feel God
may be leading them to as potential mates, and if the leadership
confirms the name submitted, you wait on God to speak to the
other person. If God speaks to that other person, he or she will
submit your name to the church leadership and you will get
married."

     Pastor Phil Aguilar also does not permit dating. A woman who
had been a member of Set Free Christian Fellowship from its
inception, gives this account of her daughter's pairing. "In the
fall of 1989, my daughter expressed an interest in a young man,
and the young man was instructed by Phil to propose to my
daughter. She accepted. Of course, they never dated. Phil planned
the entire wedding, changing the date several times. They were
finally married about six weeks after the proposal.

"Prior to my daughter's wedding, she was advised to quit college
and her job. When I questioned Phil, I was simply told that they
wanted to see how obedient she would be." When the mother asked
her son-in-lawto-be why the daughter needed to quit school, she
was told, "... the only things we need to know are what Pastor
Phil tells us."

     Pastor Phil demonstrated his need to control in the case of
his own son's wedding. The bride's parents state that "Phil
transformed what should have been the beauty and joy of our
daughter's marriage into a nightmare, a personal tragedy of such
magnitude that only the grace of God could get us through." Phil
asserted that the bride's side of the family was to have no input
into any of the wedding plans. He explained his thinking by
noting that the earthly wedding is a picture of the bride being
given over to the Bridegroom. Therefore, since the Bridegroom in
Scripture is a reference to Christ, who is the Head of all
things, it is the earthly bridegroom (and his father) who is to
be the dominating factor in the earthly wedding event. When the
wedding took place, the bride was allowed to be dressed in white,
but all attendants wore black. Black balloons and black crepe
paper were used as decorations since black is Pastor Phil's
favorite color. The ceremony was performed in a black asphalt
parking lot.

(Talking about dating and marriage. The WCG under HWA had also
this cult type "dating and marriage." It was all guided by the
local minister/s in the local congregations. And at Ambassador
College/s it was very much guided and ruled by whoever head-
minister was put in charge of that department. Needless to say
all dating and especially marriages were "ordained by the
minister/s." I had a friend in the WCG local church. He was a few
years younger than I, and I was only in my early 20s. He was
accepted to go to Ambassador College. Two years later he came
back into town, only called me to come and have a visit with him.
We sat there in his parent's car and he revealed to me his
depression and why. "Keith, I was dating this girl in College. I
was in love with her and she with me. When the ministry found
out, I was hauled in and they told me, 'You will not date this
young lady again, you will have nothing more to do with her. You
are not ministrial quality, but she is ministrial quality to be a
ministers wife.' I am deverstated Keith, just deverstated." I
tried to understand his position. I tried to put myself in his
shoes. Our visit was never forgotten. I never did see my one time
friend again. But when other things began to unravel in the WCG
like the Plain Truth going secular, you can bet that visit with
my friend was fully in my mind once more. It was all part of the
revealing to me what was now an abusive church, a church that was
becoming a cult - Keith Hunt)

     Traditional evangelical churches value and respect
individual differences. For the most part, they encourage people
to become unique persons in their own right, not mere photocopies
of someone else. Authoritarian, manipulative fringe groups, on
the other hand, encourage clones and promote cookie-cutter
life-styles. Flavil Yeakley, in his book "The Discipling
Dilemma," suggests that such groups value conformity, not
diversity. "They tend to make people over after the image of a
group leader, the group norm, or what the group regards as the
ideal personality.... They are made to feel guilty for being what
they are and inferior for not being what the group wants them to
be."
     Yeakley discovered in his research that the Boston Church of
Christ (also known as the Boston Movement) was producing in its
members the very same pattern of unhealthy personality change
that is observed in studies of well-known manipulative sects.
"The data... prove that there is a group dynamic operating in
that congregation that influences members to change their
personalities to conform to the group norm..... The Holy Spirit
changes people when they become Christians, but not by making us
identical in psychological type. The growth that comes from the
Holy Spirit produces a body with many different members that
perform many different functions in many different ways."

     Another effective control mechanism employed by abusive
churches is fear; fear of not measuring up, fear of losing out
with God if one leaves the group, and fear of spiritual failure.
As one observer colorfully described it, "An incredible
environment of fear is created where the hens huddle together
within the walls to protect themselves from ravenous wolves,
while allowing weasels to guard their chicken coop."
     Kim, an ex-member of Maranatha Campus Ministries, clearly
recognized one of the tactics of control used in that group - the
fear of demons and spirits of deception. "Fear also that if you
don't straighten up, God will step on you." Kim's overseer
determined that she had a "spirit of deception" that was causing
her to be "rebellious." The leadership concluded, "We'll pray
over you and cast out this demon." But Kim protested, "'Wait a
minute. There's no demon; you don't need to pray.' For a moment I
was scared. I thought, well, what if there is?"
     Several times that night, Kim woke up terrified, scared that
she had fallen from grace and was doomed to go to hell. "In my
mind, I had equated my salvation with my membership in MCM, even
though I had become a Christian two years before I had ever heard
of Maranatha."
     Kim explains how the process of "deliverance" and "inner
healing" was facilitated in Maranatha. "It's the belief of the
group that although our sins were dealt with at the cross and our
freedom gained at the Resurrection, there is still a big clean-up
job that remains. Since a11 of the saints came out of the world,
they are packed full of demonic influences, and are still in the
believer until properly dealt with.

"The overseer would usually 'discern' a demon or maybe would
receive a revelation about their disciple while in their prayer
closet. What was required of the deliveree (the one with the
demons), was to pray and think way back to when this particular
demon could have gained entry. Sometimes these memories were of
the womb when, perhaps, the mother would think something sinful
and the demon would enter the unborn child. Ironically, it was
usually the overseer who 'remembered' this incident for the
disciple. Also required was an admission to guilt. The disciple
had to confess all the sins that he had done in that particular
area in order for the deliverance to work. This usually was
accompanied by a barrage of tears and humiliation, since these
memories were often painful. The disciple was instructed to then
repent from those past sins and renounce the demon. Then the
overseer proceeded to cast it out. As far as control is
concerned, I believe two things are accomplished with
deliverance. First, the disciple feels a certain bond to the
person confessed to, a pseudo parent whom he can respect as an
authority and someone who cares about his personal interest.
Secondly, at any future date, the overseer may drag out this
dirty laundry to discredit the disciple or make him feel guilty.
That happened to me when I was trying to explain my position. My
overseer blurted cut, 'I hate to bring this up, but. . . .' and
this was done in a room full of people. My immediate reaction was
to curl up and shut up. I had nothing on her but she had a lot on
me. That's how it is in Maranatha. The bigger the sheep, the more
infallible he is. In short, dirty information about someone
travels up the ranks, never down."

(The "fear" tactic was mightily used in the WCG under HWA. People
were told that leaving the WCG was leaving the one and only true
church of God, that they would be outside of salvation; they
would be in the clutches of Satan the Devil. HWA would rant and
rave about he alone used by God to do the end time work. The
older he got the more vain and the more ego poured forth from his
mouth to the people of the WCG. Then that was picked up by the
hundreds of clone ministers under HWA, who also backed him up
with fear and control dictatorship attitude - Keith Hunt)

     Most abusive churches make use of some kind of reporting
system or surveillance pattern to insure conformity with group
norms. Don Barnett's Community Chapel was very blunt about the
mechanics. They put it in the Sunday bulletin. "It is a worldly
concept, inspired by the devil, which makes us think it is doing
someone a favor to keep their sins hidden from those who are in a
position to help. Remember we are our brother's keeper. Please do
your friends a favor when you see them making serious mistakes;
tell your pastor or an elder so something can be done in time."


(Wow....you ex Worldwide Church of God people...is this sounding
bells in your mind. You talk about the secret SS, the "reporting
system" the WCG had under HWA. If you cannot remember it or you
do not think it was there in no uncertain terms, then you are
either in full self-denial or you've got Alzheimer's disease -
Keith Hunt)

     An obvious form of control is the teaching or preaching from
the pulpit. According to a former member of the shepherding
movement, so-called because its members had "shepherds" who
required full submission and taught the need for "spiritual
authority," these "leaders had the true story of what was going
on. Pastors exercised control and manipulation through their
sermons. Certain themes came through regularly: covenant,
authority, obedience, submission, serving, honoring. . . ."

(You bet, you bet that is so. It was all over the WCG under HWA,
especially as the older he got - Keith Hunt)

     Another more subtle control mechanism was identified for me
by an ex-member of a well-known network of shepherding churches
known as the Fellowship of Covenant Ministries and Churches
presided over by Charles Simpson ("brother Charles" as he is
called). "There were promises on the part of leadership to
individual members, like: 'It won't be long before you'll be
married.' Well, here it is fifteen years later and I'm still
single. My pastor said that some men have the capability of being
a captain of tens, but he had a vision of my being a captain of
hundreds. That's a promise that's been largely unfulfilled. He
told me, 'Wait until you're thirty.' Things were deferred until
the age of thirty. I was told I would be a leader by the time I
was thirty. So I was really looking forward to being thirty.
Well, at age thirty, I was still not a leader."

(Yes abusive church are full of promises and lies, held out to
keep the people. One apple given to the WCG memebers was the
"place of safety" promise. If you remained faithful to them, God
would use HWA to lead the people to the ONE place on earth where
they would be protected from the Great Tribulation and have a
special training time to be mighty great leaders in the World
Tomorrow. I well remember this fellow I was interviewing to do
some construction work on my apartment building I had in 1984.
One thing led to another and he finally said he was a member of
the WCG. I told him HWA was a false prophet. He responded by
saying HWA was the Elijah to come and that HWA would take them to
a place of safety from the Great Tribulation. I looked at him and
said, "Well I will give you a prophecy. HWA will be dead and
buried LONG before Jesus returns." In less than two years Herbert
Armstrong was dead in 1986. Jesus has still not returned. Now
whose the true prophet of God? - Keith Hunt)

     Control also can be exercised by regulating contacts with
family members and friends from the past. Members who go home to
visit friends and relatives are encouraged to keep the visits
brief because, "you may lose the vision." When prospective
members consider joining Emmaus Christian Fellowship in Colorado,
they are told to read a document that spells out the
ramifications of their baptismal vow. "Because our lives become
intimately intertwined with others in our new family, our lives
will profoundly affect our new brothers and sisters. We recognize
any disobedience to God's patterns [read: patterns of that group]
will necessarily affect others. This makes it necessary that we
should submit to God's discipline in our lives not only for our
own sake, but for all others as well.... God tells us that no
earthly relationship should draw us away from our commitment to
His covenant Body, thereby bursting through the covering of the
Body and making both our own life and the entire Body vulnerable
to infection. We must instead be willing to lose our family, our
friends, our nation, even our own life if we are to be worthy to
be His disciples."

(The WCG had no such document to sign but the teaching of the
above was certainly there. People were inevitably pulled away
from family and friends. There is a time when family and friends
must come second. But by and large that is not the case for most
of us in this age. Certainly when such times come, usually under
great persecution by the secular powers, like as it was in the
dark ages when the Holy Roman Empire beast was ruling the hub of
the world, then ALL things must take second place to living and
following the way of God and Christ. But for now it is "as much
as lies in you, live peaceably with all men" as the apostle Paul
was inspired to tell us. You should love your family and friends.
You should explain to them in kind words your way of life under
Christ, that it may be different than how you lived before. But
you should try to keep their friendship. If you are as wise as a
serpent and as harmless as a dove, you will be amazed how many
will understand and still desire to be close to you. Any group
that tells you to denounce and cast away your family and friends
(and of course we are not here talking about family and friends
that are into crime and drugs and the obvious sick way of life),
well they are abusive and wrong - Keith Hunt)

     Members of a now defunct Southern California fundamentalist
group had to sign a covenant promising to date only Christians,
and then only Christians within that particular group. "I will
keep these dates 'clean' and refrain from any kissing until six
months of dating the same person. I promise God I will not go
steady without the approval of those in authority. . . ."

     Members of this same group had to "agree to get prior
approval from those in authority before making any engagement or
marriage plans. The timing of any engagement or marriage plans
will be coordinated with those in authority." Members also
promised God in writing "to try to take vitamin supplements every
day" and to refrain from "watching channel 40 on television" (the
TBN charismatically oriented channel in Southern California).
......


Note:

Well such are the crazy ideas and teachings and control tactics
of churches that abuse. The Word of God is truth. You are to live
by it not the dictates of men or organizations. I hope and I pray
as you study from this Website, you will not only find the truths
of God, but will also see clearly how to live a BALANCED life. I
believe as you read all that I have written, from mine own hand,
that you will see I've done my best to bring out to you, that I
am a balanced person, with a balanced life, and that YOU should
be also. God is a BALANCED person. He has a balanced nature. Look
at the creation around you, see the balance of the Lord, when
mankind does not mess it up. Read the Gospels, see that Christ
was a balanced human person when in the flesh on this earth. You
are to be a LIGHT to the world, but a good balanced light. The
spiritually blinded of the world may not understand your
"religious beliefs" or practices, but they should be able to say
about you when you depart this life in death, "I was sure glad I
knew him/her - they made my life better, yes it was a pleasure to
have known him/her."

Keith Hunt

To be continued


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