Cults from Recent News

https://nypost.com/2018/11/24/how-a-psychosexual-cult-tried-to-tear-apart-my-family/ https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/terrifying-cults/ https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/cults https://www.news24.com/World/News/south-korean-cult-leader-jailed-for-raping-followers-20181122 https://cultnews.net/ https://www.vice.com/en_us/topic/cults

Interview

United Pentecostal Church

 

What would you like to be called and how old are you?  

Miss T., I am 28 

 

What is the name of the cult you were in?  

Pleasant Hill United Pentecostal church 

 At some point, I started going to a different church Oloh united Pentecostal church 
Where was it located?  

Pleasant hill UPC is in Foxworth Mississippi 

Oloh UPC is in Oloh Mississippi, I believe. 

 

How many people were a member of it?  

 At pleasant hill, I’m not exactly sure. 

At The church in Oloh, there were roughly 15 members 
 

Were you born into it or converted?  

Converted the summer before being in 10th grade 
 

How did people become members?  

I just showed up one day with a friend and kept going, that’s how I became a member. Most people speak in tongues, though I have never spoken in tongues. 
 

How many leaders were there? 

At Pleasant Hill, maybe 5. 

At Oloh, 2-3 

 

Who kept the leader (s) in check, or was he the only authority?  

Everyone answered to god. Although, what the pastor said goes. He is. Considered a man of god, gods vessel, so you must go by what he says. 
 

What happened if someone questioned his authority or what you believed?  

No one questioned his authority as far as I know, but I am really quiet and didn’t talk to many people. They did kick quite a few people out of the church from not listening to him though. 

 

 

Where did they get their information? (Bible, God, Music, etc.)  

Bible, god. And the Occasional other book. The KJV bible was mostly the only book they read and went by. 

 
 

What were some of the strangest beliefs?  

You can’t cut your hair. You can’t watch TV. Listening to any music other than Christian music is strongly discouraged. The very strict dress code. You can’t wear a swimsuit, pants, shorts, jewelry, makeup etc. 

 

 You must speak in tounges to get the holy ghost. You must speak in tounges period. Even though, according to the bible, if there is no interpreter you aren’t supposed to speak in tounges. If you don’t speak in tounges you don’t have the holy ghost. 

 

Having Christmas trees is discouraged. 

 

You must be totally separate from the world. You are not to be a god, and not participate in any worldly things. At the time, they seemed to truly love everyone. But, they were very judgmental. They did not accept anyone that was different. 
 

What were some strange practices?  

Foot washing. Anointing people with holy water. Having prayer cloths. Being in the middle of a prayer circle pretty much, with everyone’s hands on you. The style of worship to a certain point is strange. 

 
 

Were members punished for asking questions?  

Yes. 

 

When did you notice things were different than other religions?  

From day one. We were to not live “for the world” we were to only live for god. We had to be separate from the world and live “holy” lives. Outward worship is strongly encouraged. Hands raised, dancing, praying out loud, etc. 

Even though the bible says not to pray out loud. 

 
 

To you, what is the difference between a cult and religion?  

I am not sure if there is a difference.  

 

 

Were there any books you regularly read about what you were being taught?  

Other than the bible, No, but I did research online to find out more about it. 

 For the most part, we only read the bible, and our research came mostly from the bible. 
 

How did you get out?  

I quit going to church. I was the only Pentecostal in my family, so leaving the church wasn’t the hard part for me. 
 

What was everyone’s reaction when you left?  

My parents were a little surprised. 

People I went to church with avoided me and quit associating with me. Before leaving the church, I was going to Oloh UPC, and after service everyone would be talking to each other, and they avoided me. They said that they wanted me to give me space and to not push anything on me, but they were really avoiding me. 

Seeing how people you went to church with all the time avoid you, told me that if you are living differently than them, they did not want to associate with you anymore. Now that’s some loving church folk right there. Ha ha yeah right. 
 

How does your family feel about it?  

They were surprised but didn’t say much until I came out and told them I didn’t believe in god anymore. Before i came out to them, they treated me the same for the most part. (They were not Pentecostal and rarely went to church at all) Needless to say, all hell broke loose. My husband was the scapegoat, and they threatened to kill him. They treated us totally different from that point. We were pretty much outcasts. My family wanted nothing to do with us. I had finally found myself and my one true love, and they couldn’t even be happy for me. They were so focused on me not believing in god, instead of being happy for me, I was told by my family that I was about to be a widow. My husband makes me the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life. And all they care about is that i dont believe in god, they blamed my unbelief on my husband. 
 

How did you adjust to the world?  

It was really strange trying to adjust to the world. It felt weird. Not bring around people I was friends with at church, I felt like an outcast. I just lived one day at a time 
 

What kind of help do you wish was available to you to help you ‘deprogram’?  

I wish i could have read other people’s stories of how they dec-onverted, how they adjusted to their new lives.  
 

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your experience? 

When I got involved in the Pentecostal religion, I became very judgmental. To the point where I pretty much was convinced my own family was bad. For the most part, I quit associating with people who weren’t in my church and locked myself in my room for hours at a time, just to avoid my family. 

Church family tried to force the holy ghost upon me and speaking in tongues. I am a very quiet person, so them trying to force me to be more outward in my worship was going against everything about me as a person. They tried to get me to be more open about my worship, even praying out loud. That just has never been me. I am a very quiet person.  I felt like They trying to change who I was. 

At one point they kicked out a young girl that went to the church because she wore pants.  
 

De-converting is hard, but there are people that have been where you are. You may be struggling, but You are not alone.  

 

*Read more of her story here: https://misstishere.wordpress.com/?wref=bif

Introspection #1

I have had a couple people want to know about my perspective or have me write more about my experiences. So, I just thought I would write about a behind the scenes post.

I find music to be very healing to me, as I am sure a lot of you do too. So, as  I sit here reading the interviews, reading the survivor’s stories, I have to have something in the background that keeps me grounded. As there are many different artists  I love to listen too, I feel that I should share this particular song, as it is what inspired this whole project.

When I first heard this song, it was around the beginning of August. I had just discovered the artist and I was in love, so I wanted to know what else he had published on YouTube. So, I put his playlist on and this song came on. I froze. It spoke to the deepest part of my heart.

When I heard this song, I was researching different ways of reaching people that were affected by cults and the impacts that it had on their lives, there was not much. So, I was contemplating making this blog in interview people, to give them their voice. For them to share their stories to help others. Then this song came on.

 

“All my life, I’ve been fighting.”

 

“I found peace in your violence. Can’t tell me there’s no point in trying”

 

“I’ve been quiet for too long.”

 

This song inspired this whole blog and I listen to it while I work on it. So, I hope you find it as inspiring and healing as I do. Enjoy-CV

 

What song(s) inspire you? What helps you heal?

Diane Benscoter

*If any of these videos seem to be trying to get people to join them in their beliefs, I am not advocating joining them. I was just looking for source material for a discussion to understand who they are, how they get people to follow them, what they believe, and what happens when people try to leave.

 

 

The Followers of Christ

Multiple Founders

*If any of these videos seem to be trying to get people to join them in their beliefs, I am not advocating joining them. I was just looking for source material for a discussion to understand who they are, how they get people to follow them, what they believe, and what happens when people try to leave.

Videos

 

Linda Martin-YouTube

 

History

https://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2009/07/the_history_of_the_followers_o.html

News/ Scandals

https://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-city/index.ssf/2017/03/followers_of_christ_investigat.html

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/tag/followers-of-christ

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/13/followers-of-christ-idaho-religious-sect-child-mortality-refusing-medical-help

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/2459-followers-of-christ-church

https://idahonews.com/news/truth-squad/fatal-faith—an-investigation-into-the-followers-of-christ

Survivor Letters

http://idahochildren.org/articles/letter-survivor/

 

 

 

Interview

Followers of Christ

 

What would you like to be called and how old are you?

Linda – 64 yrs. old

What is the name of the cult you were in?

Followers of Christ

Where was it located?

Ada County, Idaho

How many people were a member of it?

Unknown

They are secretive. There are several churches. The only church records kept are in family Bibles.

Were you born into it or converted?

Born into it. My ancestors started the cult in the 1800’s.

How did people become members?

Born into it. They don’t believe in marrying outside the church. There are very few members from outside the cult that married into it.  They believe anything and everyone outside of their church is from Satan.

How many leaders were there?

It varies from 0 to maybe six or more. They believe preachers and elders are called by God and have to be verified by other preachers/elders being told by God that this man was chosen. It can be years after a leader dies before another is “chosen”.

Who kept the leader (s) in check, or was he the only authority?

Only authority. Not allowed to question the authority of preachers and elders.

What happened if someone questioned his authority or what you believed?

They could be shunned by family, church, and friends. Children are often punished for questioning the faith. Corporal punishment was common when I was a child. I doubt that has changed.

Where did they get their information? (Bible, God, Music, etc.)

Bible, indoctrination from previous generations of family members, preachers, and elders. If you dared ask why the answer was always “That is the way we were taught. It is the way it is. It is the way it always will be.”

What were some of the strangest beliefs?

Drinking poison and handling poisonous snakes wouldn’t kill you if your faith was strong enough. Medicine and doctors are from Satan. It was a sin for women to cut their hair and a shame for men to have long hair.

It is an End of Times cult. They are always preparing for the end of the world.

What were some strange practices?

Faith healing, talking in tongues, snake handling, foot washing and greeting other church members with a kiss.

Marrying relatives. Letting children die from medical neglect.

Were member punished for asking questions?

Questioning the faith was not allowed.

When did you notice things were different than other religions?

When I started school. I was taught that our church was the only church that wasn’t a cult. All outsiders were out to destroy us.

To you, what is the difference between a cult and religion?

No difference.

Were there any books you regularly read about what you were being taught?

No. The Bible was the only source of information.

How did you get out?

I got married at 16 to escape the abuse.

What was everyone’s reaction when you left?

My mother beat me and choked me until I passed out, my father told me to never ask him for anything because it was up to my husband’s family to take care of me. 

How does your family feel about it?

I have been shunned by all family members that are still associated with the church and other family members who left that still choose to protect the church.

 I went public in the media in 2013. I have received threats. I am seen as a disciple of Satan.

How did you adjust to the world?

Trial and error. I left in 1971. There was no internet, PTSD wasn’t heard of back then, I had no friends or family support. I didn’t trust doctors or therapists. Therapists knew nothing and still don’t know much about being born into a cult unless they lived it. They are more experienced with people who joined a cult. If you are born into it you have been isolated and don’t know what normal is.

What kind of help do you wish was available to you to help you ‘deprogram’?

I deprogrammed years ago. I always knew the cult was abusive and their practices were wrong. I don’t trust people who claim to be cult experts because many of them have ulterior motives, like selling a book and appearing on talk shows.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your experience?

I wish people could understand that what they teach children about the Bible, God, Satan, and Hell is abusive. Children process information differently than adults. It can be very harmful and scary for young children. I had nightmares for years because of what I was being taught as a child.

Just because someone appears to be a very religious, kind parent to the outside world, doesn’t mean they aren’t abusing their children. If a child is unusually quiet and well behaved it might be because they are being abused and are afraid to speak out. “No one knows what is happening behind closed doors unless they are behind the closed door.”

Just because an activity is sponsored by a church doesn’t make it safe. I feel churches are one of the most dangerous places for a child. Just read the news about pedophile religious leaders every day. It doesn’t matter how large or small a church is, abuse happens.

Children are not possessions or property, they have Constitutional rights the same as adults and any other citizen.

Religious Freedom is not a free pass to rape, kill or deny another person of their human rights, especially a child. Too many times people use religion to discriminate or believe they are above the law.

Above all, “Listen”. When a survivor of abuse or a child talks, BELIEVE THEM. Not too many people are going to talk about humiliating/degrading experiences if it didn’t happen.

If a child talks about abuse or you see something, report it.