Письмена на стене, часть третья: The Seattle Years
We moved to Seattle on our 4th wedding anniversary. We were very excited, as
we had visited Seattle on our honeymoon and were anxious to move here and get a
new start. My first reaction to the church was that I thought that the San Diego
leaders had given us the wrong address. This church wasn't even remotely like
any of the other churches I had been a part of, not by a long-shot!
This could have been a good thing, but frankly, this place was a mess. Jim
did not like the church at all. I tried to dive right in. By this time, I
considered myself a veteran at moving within the "Kingdom."
We were discipled by a couple who had been recently married. They were
well-meaning, but extremely inexperienced and naive. I found them to be a bit
anal-retentive, immature and legalistic; and after my San Diego experience, I
had had enough legalism! I actually liked the young woman discipling me -- we
got into interesting conversations -- but as soon as the topic veered towards a
spiritual issue, problems started. She told me she found me intimidating. (If I
had a dollar for every time I heard that, I would have a hefty retirement fund
Since our lives were in a state of flux, between the move and trying to find
employment, church was not our main focus. I am glad that we had the church to
move to because, without it, I think we would have felt estranged and lonely. We
still felt lonely to some extent, as we had left some great friends behind in
San Diego; however, with all of the church activities, there are always things
I tried to get involved right away and attended a newly-formed group for
sisters with weight, health and appearance issues. I was asked to preach a
message to the women about appearance and decorum; and the intern asked me to
talk about -- get this! -- not farting and burping in public! Can you imagine?!
Jim actually thought that the intern was playing a joke on me to see if I would
actually do it. But she was not joking. (Apparently, there were some sisters who
had gone on dates and farted right in front of the brothers!) I heard one story
of a sister saying that they had better crack a window! What kind of church was
I found it nearly impossible to make friends in the Seattle church. I am
naturally extroverted, so this really bothered me. There were some disciples I
had met several times who had absolutely no recollection of ever having met me.
One woman, who used to lead the church in Portland, could never remember that
she had already met me. It was disconcerting to say the least.
The Seattle church was extremely shallow -- hardly anyone has friends in the
church. I found it especially difficult to make friends with the marrieds,
especially the marrieds with children. So I began to focus my attention on the
single women instead, and I was able to develop relationships with a couple of
them. Thank God for them.
At the end of March things radically changed in the Seattle Church of Christ.
Scott and Lynn Green moved to Seattle and brought with them new administrators
and new leadership. This is where it begins to get interesting. For a few
months, the leadership stayed fairly low-key. Then, during his "final address to
the Seattle church" before he left for Hong Kong for the summer, Scott Green
told us that we were lousy disciples and needed to get our focus back. He said
he felt that none of us were disciples, and that this needed to change.
It was decided that the church would undergo a reconstruction by the orders
of Kip McKean. Apparently he came up to Seattle one day to assess the situation.
What is interesting is that Kip never came to a service and thus, did not see
the body. How he was able to make this assessment without personal observation
is unclear to me.
The leadership called for a mandatory meeting on a Monday evening in July. We
decided to not attend that meeting as my in-laws were in town and were leaving
the next day. They live out of state and, as Jim and I are both only children,
we take to heart the command to "Honor your father and mother."
The next evening we went to church and I approached (per leadership's
request) my Sector Leader (Carol Kelly) in order to set up a meeting with her
for my "Life Talk." She promptly informed me that since I did not come to the
meeting the night before, I was not considered a member and that she was not
getting with anyone who did not come last night for at least a month. She told
me that I needed to pray and seek God at this time.
I was stunned. I said nothing; I simply stared at her. After her brief
tirade, she said, "Amen" and then told me to ask her husband for a meeting, as
he may be more willing.
I stalked away fuming, went up to Jim and told him what happened. He didn't
understand what I was talking about, since he was able to get a meeting with the
City Sector Leaders for the following week. I was so angry at Carol that I wrote
a letter to her. I never actually sent it, but it was cathartic to at least have
penned the thing. I was angry for several reasons. First, I had been a member
for nearly nine years, and because I miss one meeting, I am no longer considered
a member? How shallow and stupid! Second, she never asked me why I wasn't at the
meeting, and assumed I could not possibly have had a bona fide reason. Third, if
the meeting was that important, why didn't my discipler call me personally to
tell me that? Fourth, what inference am I supposed to gather by her statement
that I "need to seek God at this time" -- that I'm lost and going to hell?
At this point, for probably the thousandth time I began to consider leaving
the church. I had had enough. We requested to meet privately with the Sector
Leaders for approximately one hour before Jim's scheduled "Life Talk." We felt
that there were some things that we needed to express to them about our
discipling relationships, and we also felt that there were some things about us
personally that the Sector Leaders needed to know.
I spoke for both of us, as Jim tends to shut down at meetings like this. I
described to the Leaders about both of our childhoods. Although we are both only
children of loving and caring parents, there were nonetheless events that
transpired that were exceedingly difficult. This is what we had wished to make
them privy to, which we felt would give them some insight as to why we felt it
was extremely important for us to honor our parents.
Despite our reasoning and explanations, the leaders still felt that we needed
to be at the mandatory meeting, although Jay Kelly was more sympathetic than his
wife. She told us to be careful and not get too fixated on one Scripture -- in
this case, to "honor your father and mother". She felt that we really should
have considered that the meeting was more important.
I told her that I had worked through some very difficult issues pertaining to
family relationships, and that, in light of God's Word and due to my
relationship with Him, I had conclued that I needed to honor Jim's parents.
Thus, it became an issue of conscience for both of us.
This explanation was of no avail. I asked them what right they had to
overstep a command from the living God and insist on my attendance. I also asked
them why I was not considered a member -- simply because I had missed one
meeting? And that, not because of rebellion or laziness, but out of personal
They sprang on this statement. Jay said that they had total authority over
this decision because God gave it to them! Jay told me that God absolutely
stands behind his leaders and that whatever they "bind on earth is bound in
heaven." Thus, if they deem that a meeting is mandatory, it takes precedence
over everything else!
They proceeded to show me a Scripture (Numbers 12) in which God rebukes
Miriam and Aaron for questioning Moses' authority, and tells them that Moses
sees God face to face. Jay told me that I am like Miriam and because I dared to
question their authority, I was questioning God and being incredibly
disrespectful. He noted that Miriam contracted leprosy and told me to be careful
because something terrible could happen to me for daring to question God!
I couldn't believe my ears! Here was the leadership deifying themselves!
Since when is a command written by the finger of God superseded by what a mere
mortal decrees? Yet, this is what they actually told me. I just couldn't get my
mind around it. This experience troubled me -- it troubled me for a long time.
It was this issue that, in the end, I couldn't get past.
My husband and I weren't put on the membership list for several weeks. We
weren't put back on for several reasons. First, the leaders felt we were not
submissive to our disciplers and we needed (in the words of Carol Kelly) "to
respect them for being over us in the Lord." (Gee, they were ten years younger
than we are, lacked Biblical knowledge, newly married, young Christians, but
they are "over us in the Lord?" Does anybody else have a problem with this?)
Second, we hadn't given enough for our Special Contribution. (They said they
were "disgusted" by it, and that it called into question our spirituality.)
Third, we did not recognize that we were wrong to not attend the mandatory
I was so sick and tired of the whole thing that I seriously contemplated
leaving, and was just about ready to turn in my resignation. I called a dear
friend who had converted in Boston in the early 80's. I told her that I was sick
of the fact that I could never have a good year in the church, and that there
were always problems and spiritual strife. I told her that I in no way viewed
church membership as synonymous with God's Book of Life and yet, I felt that
that was what leadership was making it out to be.
She heartily agreed with everything I was saying, but then told me that she
believed that I really loved God. (Translation: loving God equals staying with
I also phoned "Dan and Kristy Pryor", friends from the San Diego years. I
spoke with Dan first, for quite a long time. I had become perplexed suddenly
because, despite my lengthy tenure in the church, I was not able to prove that
discipleship partners as we practice and teach them were mandated by the Bible.
Since the Pryors had both been part of the mainline Churches of Christ and the
Crossroads Movement, I felt that they could shed invaluable insight on the
I asked them why I shouldn't go to a mainline church, since I couldn't find
any biblical teaching on discipleship, and I knew this to be one of our
differences with the mainline churches. Rather than be alarmed by my statements,
the Pryors calmly listened to me. Dan suggested that I read Gordon Ferguson's
new book on discipling. After much discussion, I felt better and promised that I
would read Gordon's new book.
Although I still felt disgruntled and perplexed, I also felt very guilty.
Part of me thought that perhaps I wasn't really a disciple. During my two and a
half year career as a high school English teacher, my discipleship was shoddy at
best. I basically came to things and was surprised that they even kept me on the
membership list. I rarely had quiet times -- after 200 kids a day and all of
that grading and correcting of papers who wants to read? My relationship with
God ranged from poor to mediocre. I felt really guilty about all of this, never
mind that I was a good teacher and tried to be as Christian as I could with my
students (some of them were very cruel).
However, the ICC measures your spiritual status by your performance -- that
is how each disciple is assessed and graded. I had thus learned to view my
Christianity in the same way. Since my performance (by ICC standards) stank, I
thought I must stink as a disciple.
In early September the Seattle leadership declared the Reconstruction to be
at an end, and had a "special meeting" where all of the "new members" were named
out loud. Jay and Carol Kelly told us that we were not on the membership list.
My husband was infuriated. He felt that it was done to personally humiliate and
embarrass us in front of everyone so that we would repent. He also felt that
since we were the "older disciples spiritually" that they wanted to humiliate us
in front of the younger disciples by making us out to seem unspiritual.
I told him that since we didn't know anyone in this church anyway, and those
we did know couldn't even remember having met us, did it really matter whether
or not our names were called?
The group made a big deal about the names who were on the list -- so much
hollering, screaming, and boot stamping went on that it was ridiculous. Scott
Green got up there and preached his guts out, stating that, if you were not on
the membership list tonight, you were in a very frightening place and that Satan
was ready to snatch your soul.
I was gripped by fear and succumbed to it. I ran up to Carol and told her
that I would be willing to do anything and I begged for her to help me. I
actually believed that I was cursed by God and hellbound. Scott had also
mentioned that, since so much time had already been taken up by the
Reconstruction, they were ready to move on and weren't going, "to waste their
time with people who hadn't already repented." This is Christianity?
This is the second time that I was like putty in their hands. I was willing
to jump through whatever hoops I needed in order to be, "deemed by the
leadership as right with God."
It is funny, but every time I wanted to leave the church, Jim got strong and
full of convictions; and every time he wanted to leave, I got strong and full of
convictions. I spent the majority of summer wanting to leave the church and he
felt committed to it. Then when we were publicly humiliated by not being named
as members, Jim wanted nothing to do with the church. He vaguely went through
the motions and did what Jay told him to do, but I knew that his heart was not
into it at all. Nonetheless both of us were put on the membership list.
Before placing membership, Jim was asked to serve in Children's Ministry. I
was upset by this, since he wasn't on the membership list and the Kellys had
made such a big deal about it; I wondered how the Brumleys got Jim's name in the
first place. I also wondered why the full-time ministry people never serve in
children's ministry since they constantly preach that, "if we fail to convert
our children, we've failed as a movement."
We were put with new disciplers at this time and things went fairly smoothly
for a few months. By January, all of our doubts and misgivings began to
resurface. Kip had developed some new studies and all of the churches were to go
through them together. For two weeks, the church met every Tuesday and Thursday.
It was very tiring. They also taught us the timeline of church history and
claimed that the ICC started in 1979 in the Gempel's living room. Since the vast
majority of disciples in Seattle are recent converts, none of them have a clue
I had some real trouble with Kip's studies as they focused so little on
Jesus. Jesus IS the GOSPEL! In the preface, Kip notes that, if someone even has
a rudimentary knowledge of Jesus, we should delve into the studies rather than
go through the book of John with them first.
I also saw another disturbing trend. The leaders decided to talk about
finances. Ron Brumley and Tom Snyder preached to us that we need to be, "good
shepherds of our money" and that it ws fiscally responsible to buy a house! I
couldn't believe my ears! For years, in the San Diego Church we were trained to
be "go anywhere, do anything" disciples. This usually meant NOT buying a home,
since that would hamper one's mobility. Now, the doctrine was changing?! I
actually had a friend whom Donna Harrigan insinuated was not spiritual for
wanting to purchase property!
Another disturbing trend was the never ending mention of Mack Strong, a
football player for the Seattle Seahawks. Last autumn Tom Snyder made a special
point of mentioning his name at every service. So infectious were his laudatory
comments that Scott Green, Jay Kelly, Darren Overstreet and John Causey followed
Personally, I could care less about someone who throws pig skin for a living
and gets paid a lot of money to do it. The church's focus on this brother
bothered me because it showed pronounced favoritism and was extremely worldly. I
was so upset by this that I called Jay Kelly and talked to him about it, and
quoted passages from the book of James which forbid the church to show
Jay told me that (and I quote), "The reason that the leaders mention the
prominent is because it is an effective tool for evangelizing and a lot of
people become Christians because of it." "Really?," I countered. "I must have it
all wrong; I thought that people became Christians because of Christ!"
Jim got so sick of everything that he couldn't take it anymore and yet again
seriously contemplated leaving. He complained that, in order to be successful in
the "Kingdom," one must be a loser, have no life, no goals, and be happy with
having your whole life planned for you.
Things got so bad that I knew that he was going to "fall away." I immediately
called the elders, spoke to Scott Green in person, called Jay Kelly and Jim's
discipler. It was to no avail. Not one of them responded! Jim's former
discipler, with whom he had had such a hard time, was the only one to come to
Jim started to do a lot better spiritually and he was on the upswing again.
From the pulpit one Sunday Scott Green had told us he had been called to Los
Angeles for an "Emergency World Sector Leaders Meeting" that sought to redress
the problems in the church. I decided to write a letter to Kip McKean, in order
to give him a pulse check from an ordinary disciple.
I wrote my letter to Kip, and expressed to him some problems that I felt were
endemic to the movement. I showed Jim the letter. He liked it very much and
encouraged me to finish it and send it.
For some reason, instead of working on my letter, I got on the Internet and
started fooling around. During the reconstruction, I had gotten on the Internet
and came across some things about the ICC, but I wasn't ready to hear the truth.
However, this time I came across stories, accounts and personal testimonies that
not only matched my own, but basically re-iterated everything I had written to
Kip! I was stunned!
I was fascinated by what I was reading and gulped down as much information as
I could. I will never forget the moment when I realized that the ICC was a cult!
I got up from my chair and stumbled down the hall muttering expletives. I
remember feeling a sense of relief that I was no longer responsible for
"evangelizing the world," and then intense anger at having been duped,
manipulated and controlled for so long.
I shared my findings with Jim, and also printed things off of the 'Net for
him. We began to discuss all of the articles that we were reading. I also headed
to the bookstore and purchased several books on cults and destructive
After reading about what had really happened with the Indianapolis Church of
Christ in 1994, I told Jim that he needed to listen because I had a lot to tell
him. By the end of the conversation, we decided to leave.
Jim decided to leave right away. Since I had been in the church for so long,
I wanted to conduct a thorough and lengthy investigation of the church. Thus, I
decided to stay and pose as a member.
We also felt that it was prudent for me to remain a member officially because
we were renting our apartment from a disciple, who had rented to us because we
were members. This disciple and her husband were both kind people, and had been
warm and generous with us. However, we felt that, had we both left, they might
have kicked us out. Since our finances were in shambles, this would have
resulted in homelessness. I don't think that they would have done this on their
own, but when someone is in this church, they have to do what they are told to
do. So it was hard to gauge.
On April 5, 1998, instead of coming in to service, Jim sat outside. (He
didn't want to be included in the "stats"). He approached his discipler and
another mid-level leader, and informed them that he was leaving the church due
to doctrinal reasons. That was all he said.
They were stunned by Jim's departure, because they had viewed him as "doing
well spiritually". Recently he had helped convince someone else not to "fall
away." He ended up discipling this person, and Jay "lifted him up" for the
singles to imitate, instructing two of the singles to observe Jim's discipling
technique. Then, without warning or explanations, he walked.
Jay called him the very next day and asked him if there was anything that he
wanted to talk about. Jim told him that he was not interested, but thanked him
for calling. Jay asked if he could call him the following week and Jim told him
that he could. He never called again.
Everyone was stunned by Jim's departure, and I was treated like the Queen
Bee. Anything I wanted, I got. I was even asked who I wanted to disciple me and
what group I wanted to be in. Everyone felt so badly about Jim's "spiritual
At mid-week service, though, I had an encounter with one of the lower level
leaders. She told me that she was concerned about me and that she had heard that
Jim had left the church. I smiled at her and told her that I was absolutely
fine. This rattled her and she got angry with me. She told me that if it were
her, "life mate", she would be totally distraught. "What do you want me to do?
Cry? Would that make you feel better?," I asked. She got really upset with me
and proceeded to rebuke me for not being open with my feelings. "The problem
that I have always had with you is that you are never open or vulnerable with
your feelings," said the ice queen herself.
I found this statement amazing since, two weeks earlier, I had spent the day
with her and her husband and was extremely open about my weight/food issues. I
told her about what I was learning at Overeater's Anonymous. I had always been
more real and open with her than she ever has with me.
I was so angry at her lack of sensitivity that I almost beat the living
daylights out of her. (I am not kidding.) Luckily (for her), a small voice told
me to simply walk away, which I did. I was so angry that I was shaking. As I
stalked away, she turned around and said, "But, I love you, Athena." "Yeah,
RIGHT!," I hissed so loudly that the entire fellowship could hear me. (Typical,
dysfunctional ICC behavior: abuse, abuse, abuse -- but I love you!)
That Thursday, April 9th, Carol met me for lunch and wanted to see how I was
doing. I told her that I had been through much harder things in life; this was
no big deal. (Yeah, wouldn't everyone be devastated if their spouse left a cult?
What a joke!) She told me that she understood what I was saying as her
discipler, Denise Snyder, (the wife of the Lead Evangelist), told her that her
tuberculosis has been harder to deal with than the death of her father. (Are
these people really considered spiritual?) Funny how the leaders use other
leaders to validate statements.
She then probed me with some questions about Jim, but I told her that I
didn't want to answer them since I felt that it would be gossip. "Amen," she
replied and then she proceeded to ask me about a sister in our Sector! I
couldn't believe my ears! Here she was "amening" my desire to not gossip and
then she turns around and starts gossiping!
I believe that God showed me this so that I could see the travesty of the
leaders and the falsehood of their teachings. Although I was convinced that the
group was not sound, I still was not fully enlightened. Let's face it, ten years
of indoctrination is a long time.
Carol also brought up the incident I'd had with the low-level leader. So
intense was my anger that I insisted that Carol needed to keep this girl away
from me until I cooled off! I told her that I found the girl to be insensitive,
abusive, and was amazed that she was in leadership. I added that I felt this
type of personality could be damaging to a lot of people.
Jim was so angry that he called the girl and left a message on her answering
machine instructing her to keep away from me, and threatening to hire an
attorney and sue for harassment if she didn't! Boy, did the leaders heed that!
The girl avoided me like the plague for a long time.
That week my discipler commented that, since I only knew Jim in the church,
wasn't I worried that he might become a drug addict and have an affair on me? I
actually started laughing, but she was dead serious. How sad, that a "Christian"
would actually speculate about such a perverted thing.
I had another conversation with Carol Kelly on May 19th. It was quite a
conversation! I mentioned that the gossip is of epic proportions in the City
Sector, and mentioned to her that people had been gossiping about Jim. She
stated that, since we are a family and Jim committed "spiritual suicide," it was
like a, "dog returning to his vomit." (They say that about everyone who leaves.)
Because of this, she felt they had a right to talk about him.
"Well, if they are so concerned, then why don't they call and talk to him. He
hasn't been marked or anything," I said. "They probably don't know him that well
and would feel funny calling him," she replied. "If they're 'family', then why
would they feel 'funny' calling him?", I asked. "What you're saying doesn't make
any sense!" She didn't know what to say to that!
She got into a tizzy arguing with me, and finally blurted that she hated
talking with me because, "You get so fixated on one thing." "Yeah, you're right!
I do tend to get fixated on the Scriptures!", I responded. In desperation, she
told me that she was concerned about my "weakening convictions," because I would
not admit that Jim was not saved. I had told her that since I am not God, I am
not privy to the Book of Life, and that all of us must work out our salvation
with fear and trembling. I asked her if she actually believed that, just because
a person was a member of this church, that guaranteed they were going to heaven.
She agreed that it did not.
She countered that God had given us the ability to judge who was lost and who
was saved. I told her that this is simply not true. She looked incredulous when
I said this.
I continued to challenge her on the gossip and slander that goes on in this
church and particularly in leadership, and basically pummeled her with the
Scriptures. It was beautiful. I am sorry to sound so mean spirited, but for
years I had been beaten down and held under by their oppressive demands for
total obedience and submission. For the first time in ten years, I felt
empowered to say what I thought and to challenge their authority! I realized
that I no longer lived under their oppressive, totalitarian legalism and that I
could say whatever I want!
During the conversation she resorted to typical ICC manipulation tactics. She
told me that I needed to be "humbled by the situation", adding that "God has put
me in your life as a leader." I challenged her to be willing to learn from me
and to be discipled by me and to believe that God put me in her life so that she
could learn from me! I asked her if she believed this and if she were willing to
learn from me. She looked like I had just smacked her hard across the face!
"Why, of course I am, " she replied. "Good, " I said, "because I don't always
feel that from you!" Man, I couldn't believe that I said that! It felt good,
After this conversation, she avoided me, and when she couldn't, she was
extremely friendly and superficial with me.
I knew I had intimidated Carol a great deal. Apparently I did so much that
she called a meeting with Linda Brumley, and told me that she has asked Linda's
advice because "she wants to help me" and feels that she "lacks wisdom." Carol
had been in the movement for 19 years at that time, and yet was so easily
disarmed by a rank and file member. Doesn't the Bible say that we should be
ready in season and out of season? She couldn't even defend her beliefs with a
I could tell that she was choosing her words carefully and was talking in a
calm and soothing manner. Each time she set up a meeting, Jim would call and
cancel it at the last minute! He would inform her that, "My wife will not be
attending as I do not wish it." (He knew it was an ambush/breaking session). He
also knew that, according to their game, I had to be submissive to him. Boy,
they did not like that at all!
I continued to conduct my research, and read everything I could about cults
and destructive groups. It got frustrating to be part of a cult when I knew what
it was, and there were times when I wanted to scream. On the other hand, I also
enjoyed being a spy. I forwarded information about the group to interested
parties, and was able to say things to get members to think. I also helped to
pull some people out, and to better inform those who had already left.
The more I came to church, though, the more preposterous and stupid all of it
seemed. I did not enjoy being a deceiver, even though I had good reason; there
is no justification for sin, ever.
There are some other stupid pet tricks that come to mind. I got asked about
my mail, which the disciples living above us withheld from me for awhile.
American Family Foundation had sent me a packet and since it says "International
Cult Education Program" on the return address. It sparked some concern.
Carol also told me that she was studying Ephesians, and had read in a
commentary that the Bible really wasn't saying that wives needed to obey their
husbands. She eyed me carefully as she said this and quantified her statements
with "I'm not sure what to think. I am still mulling it over." Is this
manipulation or what?
Someone actually questioned my convictions, while the day before this same
person admired my recent 50 lb. weight loss. (It takes conviction and
determination to lose weight!) I was also told that I "needed to keep things
from Jim so as to not harden his heart." I was actually told this by a Bible
I was also "challenged" incessantly about my contribution and was told by a
leader that I needed to get in a fight with Jim and show him my convictions. She
told me that I have gotten in fights "over dumber things," but that contribution
is important and he needs to see how important it is to me.
During my "last days" as a disciple in the ICC, I met with one of the deans
at a local university. I wrote a seven page informational letter, and told the
dean to expect non-students to come and proselytize on her campus. She was
wonderful -- sympathetic and knowledgeable about the ICC. She told me that she
not only planned to alert their security personnel, but would like for Jim and I
to come and teach the incoming freshmen during their orientation about cults and
destructive groups. I cannot tell you how intoxicating it was to begin to
undermine the impending "Fall Harvest" of the Seattle Church of Christ! I also
met and interviewed with the editor of the student newspaper at a major
I knew that I was convincing and that none of the members had a clue that I
was an impostor.
I had written to Rick and Sarah Bauer in May and they had corresponded with
me. A close friend of mine had also left the church. She sent me an excellent
video that profiled a series of reports done by various television news
magazines. It was interesting to read about mind reform and thought control, and
to watch it in action. The more I read, the more aware I became of the tactics
that were being used to manipulate the members. It was odious.
Finally, I could take no more. I attended the Seattle Church of Christ for
the last time on August 25, 1998. Walking into mid-week service, I had just
finished conversing with my then discipler, and told her that I felt that church
took up too much time and was absolutely meaningless. She seemed surprised that
I felt that church was time consuming. In a beautiful stroke of irony, Tom
Snyder distributed the church calendar. Basically, the leaders had planned
everything through the end of December! All kinds of meetings, classes, Hope for
Kids stuff, etc. had been scheduled. I had to resist looking over at my
discipler, however. Oh, it was too delicious!
I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I spoke to a friend of mine, and
told her that I would never be back. During our conversation, I cast an eye at
Carol Kelly, who was deep in conversation with my discipler. I knew that they
were talking about me. As soon as I left, Carol Kelly waylaid two of my friends
and told them to be careful, stating that "Athena is in a bad place."
The irony is that my friends were loyal to me -- one of them told me about
this. What Carol Kelly didn't realize is that her actions mirrored her true
self. My friends are not stupid and they have not only watched, but know in
detail, many events that have transpired. I am certain that at some point
(hopefully soon), they too will leave the movement.
The writing had been on the wall for many years; it just took me a while to
decipher it. An obvious question is: why did I stay in the movement for so long?
I stayed because I had made a commitment to God to be a "go anywhere, do
anything" disciple of Jesus. That resulted in me putting up with a tremendous
amount of abuse. For years, I believed the never ending mantras of "God is in
control" and "things are getting better."
Things never got better. I gave the movement a fair shot -- ten years of my
life which I will never get back. I also came to the realization that, because
God had given me "free will", He (by His own choice) was not in control of this.
I was. No, I don't control the universe, but I do have responsibility for my
life and what happens in it. Finally I realized my responsibility to blow the
whistle on abusers and abusive groups. (That is why I wrote this essay).
It greatly angers me to hear "old timer" disciples telling me that, "God is
in control." If this is true, then I guess we could use this line of reasoning
with Stalin, Hitler, Mao et al. (To acknowledge that Hitler murdered six million
Jews, and then excuse it by saying that "God is in control," has an absurd ring
to it). This type of passivity is disgusting. It is, in effect, contributing to
the very evil it excuses by allowing it to exist unchecked and unchallenged.
Thus, the passive person becomes guilty by association.
As evidenced by what I have written, things have not gotten any better. I
experienced purges ("reconstructions') in Paris, New York, San Diego and Seattle
-- all four churches I was in during my ten years in the ICC. I have been
controlled by abusive leaders in all four churches. (Although Paris ranks as the
"kindest & gentlest" in my memory). I have witnessed cruelty, and abusive
and tyrannical behavior, by many leaders. I have witnessed a panoply of other
stupid pet tricks as well. I have watched people get suicidal and depressed
(myself included) because of this. This is the greatest horror in the
My greatest area of concern is how the leaders have done profound
psychological damage to members and former members. The worst was when they
asked people to leave the church during a "Reconstruction" or "Revival." What
kind of human being would knowingly relegate someone to hell? They preach that
"to leave this movement is to leave God!" Since they teach that
they have cornered the market on salvation, and most disciples actually believe
this, they leave the people whom they throw out without hope.
This, to me, is the most odious practice of all. How can this be of God, from
God and for God? This type of behavior is so far from God in every way. It
reminds me of inquisitions -- religious leaders became judge, jury and
executioner by deciding who the heretics are, condemning them, and executing
them. The only difference is that, instead of killing the body, these modern day
inquisitors kill the spirit.
I clung in desperation and frustration for years -- desperate, because I
believed it to be "the true movement of God"; frustrated, because things weren't
right. When I confronted the ungodliness, I was given pat answers, justification
for sin, and told to trust without question.
When I finally sat down and penned my concerns, thought about what was
happening (I was once told by my discipler that I should have children, because
then I wouldn't have time to think), and did some serious Bible study, I
concluded that to continue membership in the ICC would not only make me guilty
by association, but that I would have to answer for all these unrighteous
practices. Thus, leaving the ICC became an issue of conscience -- I could no
longer in good conscience sanction the practices of this church. To do so would
require an unacceptable compromise of my integrity and ethics.
As I read over my account, I am struck by the seeming duality of my
personality. It has become obvious that over the years I desperately wanted to
leave the ICC due to the abuse, boredom and frustration that I felt. I hope that
it becomes evident to the reader, that despite how easy it seems to leave such a
group, when under the influence of mind control one cannot. One is inculcated
with the notion that to, "leave this church is to leave God."
Marty Fuqua is known for saying that "you can't run off true disciples."
There is some sort of perverse pride in exhibiting your war wounds and saying,
"Yeah, I survived the tyranny of so and so and lived to tell about it." In your
mind, it becomes proof that you love Jesus so much that you are willing to go
through anything, even intense and insane abuse.
This also means that the leaders have free range to abuse their followers,
and abuse them they do. There are absolutely no checks and balances within the
system. How can there be when disciples are always subordinate to their abusers?
To repeatedly abuse, rebuke, make scathing accusations, use "breaking sessions"
openly embarrass and humiliate, deceive and then tell the person that you love
them is sick, indeed. Moreover, this is what discipleship in the ICC
The only way to break free from it is to run from it. However, "if you leave
this movement, you leave God." This statement has so much pull that you
compromise your integrity. For some people, I believe it has compromised it to
the point of no return.
Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. I am angry with myself for not having read
the "spiritual pornography" a lot earlier in my involvement with the ICC. It
amazes me that a once-avid reader would suddenly stop reading per someone else's
advice/command. The fact that there is information out there that could "damage
your faith" calls into question the validity of that faith. I slowly realized
that, for far too long, I had not only listened to, but followed, man.
The price I paid for this was years of my life. Thank God I got out before it
cost me my soul! The Bible teaches in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to,"Test everything.
Hold on to the good." Since ICC members are denied access to material critical
of the ICC because the leaders term such material, "spiritual pornography, they
are forbidden to follow this Scripture.
What seems so obvious to those on the outside is not at all clear to those on
the inside. Mind control is real. I hate to think that I had succumbed to it,
but indeed, I did for ten years. It helped me to understand how Hitler could
have gained the control that he did over the German people. He had charisma,
gave them a greater purpose and a cause, made them feel like an elite group,
etc. -- all of the same ingredients are there.
The ICC is just as destructive and detrimental to people, but on a spiritual,
emotional and psychological level. Thus it is much more difficult to see the
"walking wounded," or fathom who is in bondage in the spiritual concentration
camp, let alone be able to ascertain the true "death count."
Another thing that I would like to point out -- everyone is susceptible to
mind control groups at some point in their lives. People are conned all of the
time, and cults are just another con game. Con artists actually play on a
person's intelligence and benevolence -- smart and good people get conned all of
the time. Whether you are conned to give away your money, get involved in some
multi-level marketing or get rich quick scheme, or whatever, everyone, at some
point in their lives, is vulnerable.
What I find particularly insidious about this group is that it uses the Bible
as a vehicle for the promotion of mind control. Everyone in the group goes
through the same studies, undergoes the same process and once baptized, attends
the "First Principles" class. Members are indoctrinated on a continual basis
through mandatory "meetings of the body", constant demands on their time,
thought stopping language and meaningless sermons. Even the messages are
punctuated by "Amen's" and "You go, brother's" shouts from the audience, which
serve to reinforce the indoctrination process through interruption and validate
meaningless drivel. This kind of thing also carries people along emotionally,
but not intellectually. The fact that these leaders can use the Scriptures and
twist them so badly (and so effectively) is frightening indeed.
This is what makes it so difficult for the member to detangle himself from
this web of deceit. The Bible is used and abused to make it appear that God
sanctions all of their actions, their teachings, and their practices. Members
are taught to believe that the Bible is God's word and to accept it at face
value. Members are taught to obey and submit to their leaders. Once these pieces
are in place, the victim is under their control.
Moreover, since one is given very little free time for actual study and most
of us are not biblical scholars, we accept these teachings without question. I
am amazed at how quickly I forgot to "be a Berean" and search the Scriptures to
test what I was being told.
It was by remembering this Scripture and doing it that I was able to detangle
myself from their grip.
Another frightening aspect that I have observed amongst the members and
particularly those in the full-time ministry, is the lack of actual thought.
Everything and everyone is relegated into thought stopping labels, such as
"prideful, not open, not teachable, great heart", and a million other stupid
phrases like, "awesome, unsubmissive, independent, etc." In the ICC, everything
is based on quick and very superficial judgments. Actual thought and reasoning
Whether we choose to realize this or not, all of us are subjected to
information control. A good example of this would be President Kennedy's
assassination. Thirty-five years have passed and we still don't have the full
story. Having control of information gives one a lot of power. If the
information that you have has been controlled and manipulated by another than
how could you possibly ever learn the truth? Indeed, the truth is elusive. At
some point in time, all of us have been victimized by some form of "information
control" be it our government, media and/or another entity that propagates
information. Thus, my involvement and that of thousands of others in the ICC is
not as far-fetched as it seems.
Я не могу передать читателю, насколько глубоко раненной я себя чувствую. Я чувствую себя духовно изнасилованной. Я чувствую себя ограбленной и обруганной. Психологический ущерб также глубок и для многих других бывших членов. Я одна из тех беглецов, кому повезло больше - я сумела излечиться через уйму "библиотерапии". Я прочла всё, что смогла найти о Движении Крёстного Хода, Международных Церквях Христа (МЦХ), Бостонском Движении, а также любую другую информацию о культах, умственном контроле и деструктивных группах. Благодарю Бога за организации как AFF и веб-сайты как REVEAL (www.reveal.org) и TOLC (www.tolc.org). Эти организации сыграли решающую роль в моём восстановлении.
Бог сказал: "Мои овцы знают мой голос". Я пришла к выводу, что тот, кто действительно духовен, кто искренне голоден в поисках правды, способен установить, находится он или нет на истинном пути. Я недавно прочла книгу Нансук Хонг (бывшей муновки). Её история очень утешила меня ,потому что, хотя она выросла в культе, она сумела установить, что является частью гигантской лжи. Таким образом, "мои овцы знают мой голос" звучит здесь правдиво. Нансук знала, что хорошо и что плохо, и её совесть больше не смогла терпеть эту гигантскую пародию.
Я надеюсь, что дети из движения также придут к тому же выводу и увидят, что из себя представляет МЦХ.
С течением времени я поражаюсь всё более растущим лицемерием лидеров Международной Церкви Христа. Я верю, что чем сильнее будет становиться их лицемерие, тем больше и больше людей покинет её. Фарисейское поведение лидеров становится всё сильнее - только страус с головой в песке не способен это увидеть. Кип может метаться и прятаться, лидеры могут требовать абсолютное повиновение и подчинение, новые чистки могут быть проведены и новые члены могут быть добавлены во вращающуюся дверь МЦХ, но рано или поздно всё это их настигнет. Правда всегда выходит наружу.
В конце концов, лидеры добьются своей собственной кончины. Ведомые на бойню Кипом МакКином, они охотно последуют за ним. Несмотря на то, что я сердита на некоторых лидеров и то, что некоторые из них причинили мне боль и надругались надо мной, частичка меня всё-таки чувствует к ним жалость. Они всего лишь услужливые льстецы, как предупреждает Писание: "Злые же люди и обманщики будут преуспевать во зле, вводя в заблуждение и заблуждаясь" (2-е Тимофея 3:13). Матфея 23 также является метким описанием лидеров МЦХ и их плачевного состояния. Как же это печально, ужасно печально! Действительно, узок путь, и немногие находят его.
Чтение 23-й главы Матфея дало мне большое понимание себя самой. Я осознала, что по истечении десяти лет моего членства (в МЦХ) я стала как раз тем самым фарисеем. Так как ученичество работает по теории подражания, и лидеры должны быть самыми достойными подражания, то это к сводится к тому, что члены МЦХ в конце концов становятся такими же как лидеры - фарисеями.
Даже Кип МакКин сказал: "Я - лидер движения. Во мне много фарисейского".
Делая выводы о своём пребывании в МЦХ, я столкнулась с жестокой правдой о том, что во мне не было абсолютно ничего христианского. Я никогда не была отдающей, щедрой, доброй, милостивой, любящей и заботливой. (Как сказал Иисус: "(Вы) делаете его сыном геенны, вдвое худшим вас".) Я глядела на весь мир через очень узкий объектив: "спасённый" равен "члену МЦХ" и "потерянный" равен всему остальному. Тот факт, что я смотрела на мою семью таким образом и не особенно беспокоилась о них, показывает, каким мерзким человеком я стала. Не чувствовать ни капли сострадания к их якобы плачевному состоянию просто отвратительно - абсолютно ненормально как психически, так и социально. Мне пришлось задаваться вопросами: "кем я стала?" и "что я сделала другим во имя Иисуса?".
Постоянный вызов стремиться к чему-то острому и выдающемуся сильно противоположен тому, чему учит Библия. (Как я могла на это купиться!) Как же извращённо и ненормально фокусироваться только на чём-то "остром" потому, что "нам нужны лидеры, чтобы двигать Царство Бога"! Евангелие ясно говорит, что Иисус фокусировался гораздо больше на "больных и грешниках". Он фокусировался на любом желающем поправиться как физически, так и духовно.
Членство в МЦХ означало, что я ограничивалась шедшими на поправку. Я выбирала тех, кого считала достаточно открытыми для "деления верой". Поскольку я фокусировалась на "острых", то моя программа помощи была ещё более ограниченной, так как я редко фокусировалась на бедных, больных, лишённых прав, бездомных или любых других непредставительных социальных группах. (Джим и я однажды привели в церковь бездомную семью и получили за это нагоняй.) Вся принятая мною предпосылка является по самой своей природе сатанистской. Во мне не было абсолютно ничего похожего на Христа, так же как нет ничего похожего на Христа и во всей группе.
Я была пресыщена постоянным обманом. Годами мой обман мучил меня. Меня беспокоило то, что я могла "играть в игру", формально говорить и поступать, но Бог ни разу не был обманут моими выходками и лицемерием. Никогда и никому я не рассказывала истинную историю о церкви. Я лгала и говорила всем, насколько всё это здорово. Я даже скрывала эту информацию от родной матери!
Но самым страшным было то, что я на самом деле верила тому, что говорила. Помню, как я говорила Катерине, что она не должна сбегать и выходить замуж, потому что она пропустит благословения женитьбы "в Царстве"! (Как же быстро я забыла "благословения", полученные мной!)
Я благодарна за то крохотное семя совести, которое Бог дал мне сохранить. Этот голосок мучил меня все эти годы. Я ставила под сомнение сплетни на лидерствах; я испытывала неприязнь к очевидным барьерам, создаваемых лидерством между лидерами и не-лидерами; я была недовольна кликами, возникавшими в секторах и зонах; я обвиняла лидеров в фаворитизме и кричащем мирском поведении; я задавалась вопросом, какова была стоимость Всемирных Миссионерских Лидерских Конференций в Маниле, Йоханнесбурге и Стамбуле, и откуда они финансировались; я ставила под сомнение всё, что шло вразрез со мной или против Писания.
Нужна огромная смелость признать, что группа, частью которой ты являешься, совсем не то, на что претендует. Годами ты пытаешься втянуть в неё знакомых, а потом встаёшь перед объяснением, почему ты её покинул. Группа также обеспечивает сильное ядро поддержки и является очень прочной и надёжной оболочкой. Ты отрезан от общества, твоё время и жизненные события запланированы для тебя. Многие находят в этом чувство безопасности и поддержки. Освободиться от этого весьма тяжело.
Другие чувствуют угнетённость от такой скованности, но для большинства быть в "Царстве Бога" - это нечто замечательное. Это заставляет чувствовать тебя особенным, как будто Бог лично избрал тебя для Его цели. Кто не захочет чувствовать себя таким образом!
Ты также чувствуешь себя частью чудесной семьи и, что все её члены на свете разделяют с тобой общие интересы. Это является единой и духовной связью. У нас даже есть свой собственный язык и код действий. Это похоже на принадлежность к очень элитному секретному клубу. Ты также заставлен чувствовать себя духовным, поскольку ты имел проницательность и мудрость вступить в "Царство Бога".
Есть и другие привилегии быть членом церкви. Ты выставлен на показ множеству людей, так что тебе легко найти друзей. Ходить на свидания становится легче потому, что тебя не беспокоят дальнейшие мотивы человека, но ты можешь просто ходить на свидания и узнавать его. Находясь в МЦХ, замкнутая личность становится более открытой. Люди помогают тебе (хочешь ты этого или нет) обучиться правилам хорошего тона, улучшить внешний вид и тому подобное. Кроткие, как правило, люди учатся быть лидерами. Могут быть (и даже есть) и другие привилегии от пребывания в группе, пусть даже деструктивной.
Я даже признательна за мой опыт в МЦХ, за то, что он многому меня научил. Может быть, теперь я стала немного циничней и измученней (и перестала быть наивной и идеалистической), но зато всё это заменил опыт. Опыт - это лучший учитель, позволяющий тебе учиться на нём и набираться мудрости. Было бы неправильно сердиться и горевать по поводу случившегося. Я вижу все мои испытания как часть пути, ведущего меня к Богу.
Я никогда не была в состоянии понять это до того, как ушла из церкви, поскольку, находясь в МЦХ, я видела Его постоянно разочарованным во мне. Сейчас я в состоянии принять тот факт, что я никогда не буду идеальной и никогда не смогу жить по библейским стандартам - но как раз поэтому мы имеем Иисуса. Наконец-то я в состоянии, после столького времени, принять Божий дар спасения и быть благодарным Ему за Его нежную милость и вечную доброту. Наконец-то я могу совершать своё спасение со страхом и трепетом, без хора критиков, "наставляющих" меня, в чём мне нужно меняться. Так приятно знать, что Бог любит меня и принимает такой, какой я есть - в МЦХ я редко чувствовала это.
Я благодарна моему опыту в МЦХ и за то, что он научил меня иметь сострадание и сочувствие к такому большому количеству страдающих людей. Как часто мы смотрели в полном изумлении, как жена возвращается к своему мужу после того, как он её бьёт, и спрашивали, почему! Теперь я знаю, почему, хотя я больше не имею права судить, был ли этот выбор глупым или нет. Я понимаю, как глубоко ты можешь любить кого-то или что-то, насколько бы ошибочным и идиотским это ни казалось людям со стороны.
Я надеюсь, что любой, читающий эти строки и опутанный сетью обмана, найдёт в себе силу и стойкость уйти. Для тех, кто ни разу не вкусил горький и терпкий фрукт деструктивной группы: я надеюсь, что вы почувствуете милость и сострадание к тем, кто его попробовал. Культы, деструктивные группы, пирамиды, оскорбительные отношения (как бы вы это ни называли) являются общественной угрозой нашего времени. Всё человечество является потенциальной жертвой, и только просвящённый может устоять.
"Есть пути, которые кажутся человеку прямыми, но конец их - путь к смерти."
"Кто имеет уши слышать, да слышит!"
Автор: Этина Каррейро Хиггинс, Международая Церковь Христа с 1988 по 1998. (оригинал на reveal.org)
Перевод с английского Гуцу Анатолия, (c)2002-2003 by exicoc.narod.ru. All rights reserved.
Некоторые части текста переведены силами редакторов и посетителей сайта Revel.ru
Copyright © Церковь Христа, МЦХ Все права защищены.
Опубликовано на: 2003-09-12 (5771 Прочтено)[ Назад ]