3 Dec 2010

The Cult With No Name


Chain The Dogma - May 3, 2010

The Cult With No Name

by Perry Bulwer


This past February there was a brief report in the Michigan newspaper, Huron Daily Tribune, on the sentencing of a Christian minister for the sex assault of an 11 year-old boy. It's the kind of story that is all too common these days, as my fast-growing archive of news articles related to religion-related child abuse demonstrates. The details in the article are similar to other cases of child sexual abuse in a religious context, except for one thing. The report makes no mention of the name of the organization to which the minister belonged, simply referring to “a non-denominational Christian organization” and “the ministry”. But have you ever heard of an organization with no name? When people organize themselves into groups, even for trivial purposes, one of the first things they usually do is decide on a name. So, who is this Christian organization and why do they claim to have no name?

One clue as to who this group is comes not from that news article, but from one of the comments posted at the end of it by a person named Sal who writes: "This ministry, known as the Two by Two's needs to be exposed.” Well, Sal, here's my little effort. After an easy web search, that clue leads to the revelation that this secretive group that claims to have no name does have a name after all; in fact, it has many names. It is referred to both by members and outsiders by many different names, including “The Truth”, “The Way”, “Two-by-Twos” and several others, and it is officially registered in the U.S. as “Christian Conventions” and in Canada as "Assemblies of Christians", and various other names in other countries. This particular religious ruse is used to perpetuate the conceit that this group has no modern founder, but can trace its origins back to the first Christians, and therefore it is the true church, not a sect or cult. However, as a survivor of a Christian fundamentalist cult I've heard that story before, so when I now hear people claiming to have "the only truth" and living "the only way" cult alarm bells sound off to warn me of the dangerous deceit.

When a reader of my blog recently alerted me to that news article mentioned above, she referred to some of those names for the group, but it was “The Truth” that most sounded familiar to me. I checked and, sure enough, just over two months ago I posted in my news archive an article from the student newspaper of the University of Illinois. It tells the story of a student, Jennifer Hanson, who escaped from the fundamentalist Christian sect she was born into so she could attend university and live her own life. Her's is a familiar story of religious repression, suppression, indoctrination, spiritual abuse and denial of human rights, but familiar only because of media reports of similar religion-related abuses in other more well known groups.

Having no name, or actually, many different names, helps this group fly under the radar by causing confusion as to who they really are and making it difficult for outsiders to 'connect the dots'. It is a common cult tactic, changing names or using many alternative names in different countries or for different aspects of their ministries. It appears to have worked for this no-name cult because “... none of the University professors of religion contacted had heard of Hanson's former group.” Get that? Professors (plural) of religion had never heard of this Christian organization that numbers at least in the hundreds of thousands and possibly in the millions worldwide.

So, is this no-name group a cult? According to the Apologetics Index, [see Update Note below] which keeps track of such groups, “... from an orthodox, evangelical Christian perspective, the movement is considered to be a cult of Christianity.” And according to a Canadian lawyer representing the father in a child custody case the group is a cult:

"We compiled a list of 47 different cult characteristics," says lawyer Arends. "The Two-by-twos meet all the points. They are extremely secretive, have no written doctrine or records, you can't get a straight answer from them, and yet they claim to be the only path to salvation. Their 'friends' must give unconditional obedience to the workers, or they're guilty of backsliding. And if they backslide, they're damned." Mr. Arends says his case is bolstered by California academic Ronald Enroth's work Churches That Abuse, Port Coquitlam author Lloyd Fortt's In Search of 'the Truth', and the testimony of a dozen former members in Alberta.

But it is the next paragraph in that magazine report that convinced me that the cult designation is an appropriate one. That paragraph cites J. Gordon Melton, a notorious cult apologist who thinks there is no such things as cults, only 'new religious movements':

However, Gordon Melton, the California-based editor of the Encyclopedia of American Religions, argues the Two-by-twos are simply an "old-line, 19th-century Christadelphian sect," an isolated subculture of non-Trinitarian Christians. They are not a cult because "there's no real threats or violence," he says.

Alberta Report, "Doubts About a Mystery Church", September 15, 1997

Of course, the absence of real threats or violence are not enough to determine whether or not a group is a cult. Furthermore, what does he mean by “real threats”? Melton seems to imply that spiritual threats, common in such fundamentalist groups, are not real threats, therefore they don't count. As the Canadian lawyer pointed out, he compiled a list of 47 cult characteristics and of those he mentioned none involved violence or real threats, as opposed to spiritual threats. There are many sociological and theological characteristics used to determine whether a group is a cult or not, which Melton, a supposed expert on religion, is well aware of, yet he simplistically dismisses the evidence. It's not the first time he's done that. Here's part of what I wrote about his working regarding the cult, the Children of God, now known as The Family International:

In both the 1986 edition and the revised 1992 edition of the Encyclopaedic Handbook of Cults in America, Melton wrote critically about The Family for five pages, concluding that “The sexual manipulation in the Children of God has now been so thoroughly documented that it is doubtful whether the organization can ever, in spite of whatever future reforms it might initiate, regain any respectable place in the larger religious community.” 20 Yet just two years later, in 1994, he co-edited a collection of essays favourable to The Family entitled Sex, Slander and Salvation; Investigating The Family/Children of God. 21 Kent and Krebs describe 22 how that book was a result of Family representatives seeking advice from certain scholars, including Melton, on how to create a positive public image in the face of negative publicity revolving mostly around allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation. They also describe the substantial efforts The Family took to make sure any potentially discrediting information, such as sexual material involving children, was not available to researchers, and that researchers had access only to special, sanitized ‘media homes’ that were not at all representative of regular Family homes. Unsurprisingly, The Family touts that book, which they offer for sale on their Website, as “…proof of its legitimacy and the group has distributed copies to media in an attempt to gain favourable press.” 23 The Family considers Melton, as well as Chancellor, experts on the group, 24 and in 2000 Melton received USD $10,065.83 from The Family. 25

A Response to James D. Chancellor's "Life in The Family: An oral history of the Children of God"

By the way, I used the term “researchers” lightly as the book of essays is merely propaganda that was entirely financed by The Family cult. In other words, they payed apologists like Melton to write favourable essays for public relations purposes in the wake of child sex scandals. So, if J. Gordon Melton says “The Truth” or the “Two-by-Twos” or the church with no name is not a cult, it probably is. From what I've read about it so far, and comparing it to other well-documented cults, there is no question in my mind it is. Jennifer Hanson's story provides enough details and warning signs for me to come to that conclusion, but there are also other stories out there that corroborate her's, many at the websites listed below. It turns out that a cult by any other name, or no name at all, is still a cult.


REFERENCES & WEBSITES:


University of Illinois student shunned by 'cult' for sake of education



Veterans of Truth - information about abuses in "The Truth" ministry.


WINGS For Truth - created by victims/survivors who have suffered sexual abuse within the "Truth" Fellowship along with individuals who have been both directly and indirectly impacted by CSA.

Christian Conventions - wikipedia entry


Apologetics Index - Two-by-twos [see Update Note below]


Apologetics Index - J. Gordon Melton [see Update Note below]


Rick A. Ross Institute on the Apologetics Index [see Update Note below]



Alberta Report, "Doubts About a Mystery Church", September 15, 1997


A Response to James D. Chancellor's "Life in The Family: An oral history of the Children of God"


xFamily.org - a collaboratively edited encyclopedia about The Family/Children of God cult.


exFamily.org - a source of truthful information about The Family


Cult survivor reveals deceptive recruiting tactics used by Scientology and similar cults


Update on Friday, May 7, 2010 by Perry Bulwer

Note on the Apologetics Index, a source cited in the post above


After asking the question, "So, is this no-name group a cult?", in the post above, I provided two sources to illustrate two different perspectives on that question. One source is a lawyer who provides an answer from a sociological point of view. The other source, the Apologetics Index, provides an answer from a particular Christian perspective. My purpose was to show that regardless of their position, many people would view this group as a cult.

However, it has now come to my attention that the person behind the Apologetics Index, Anton Hein, is a fugitive from U.S. law and is a registered sex offender in California for committing "lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years.” That child is his niece, who was 13 at the time. There is an outstanding warrant for his arrest should he ever attempt to enter the U.S. again.

Hein is not a credible source of information, and I should have been more careful to check into his website before citing it. I was in a hurry, but that's no excuse, because a quick search of cult expert Rick Ross's website would have alerted me to the problem with Hein. He has a page on Hein that would have been enough for me to omit any reference to or quotation from him. Lesson learned.

13 comments:

  1. Friends and enemies, truth and lies

    By Chris Johnston, The Border Mail Sept. 23, 2013

    Elizabeth Coleman grew up in Canberra in the furtive religious sect known as either the Friends and Workers, the Two by Twos, or The Truth. Most people have never heard of them - and this is how the sect likes it.

    They have no churches or headquarters and no written policies or doctrines. They are highly secretive and paranoid about scrutiny: when questioned about new allegations of child sexual abuse within the sect's ranks, the ''overseer'' for Victoria and Tasmania, David Leitch, 56, of Heidelberg, says: ''We are not an organisation.''

    Members are told to either deny the existence of the sect or, next best, deny it has a name. Yet the ''non-denominational'' Friends and Workers has 2000 members in Victoria, making it a global stronghold; internationally there are about 200,000 members. Core beliefs come from a very literal reading of certain sections of the Bible. But they don't call themselves Christians because they consider themselves the only true religion.

    The sect is sometimes called the Cooneyites, and while the two have much in common, the Friends and Workers are strictly speaking an offshoot. The Irish founder of the Cooneyites was the Protestant evangelist Edward Cooney, who moved to Mildura and died there in 1960 - hence Victoria's strong membership.

    In Canberra in the 1970s and '80s, Elizabeth Coleman's father was a sect elder, which meant Sunday morning worship was held at their home. There were always the same 20 or so people there, she says, no outsiders allowed, very formal and dour. ''No one greeted each other as they walked in. No one talked.''

    Women wore long hair pinned up on their heads; short hair is still forbidden on sect women. Long hair is forbidden on men. Television, radio, movies, dancing and jewellery were banned back then, and in most sect families still are. If they do have a TV, it is often hidden in a cupboard.

    These Sunday mornings at the Coleman house were about singing hymns and saying prayers and there was also a series of confessions called ''testimonies''. Coleman remembers these mornings as being very closeted and unwelcoming.

    Then on Sunday afternoons were the more open ''mission meetings'', still held throughout Australia today as they were then, in public halls, organised by the religion's itinerant ''workers'' - the highly ranked ministers who, in pairs (hence the sect's Two by Two name), go into communities, country towns or regions and stay for up to a year in the homes of lesser-ranked ''friends'' such as the Colemans to do ''the Work''.

    None of this is in any way wrong. Unusual, but not wrong. However, when Elizabeth Coleman turned 19 she wanted out because while she remained under the sect's control she was not allowed to believe anything other than what they preached.

    Children in the sect are told that if they stray, bad things will happen - a lightning strike, for example, being hit by a runaway bus, or an illness.

    ''They believe that all other religions in the world are the work of the Devil,'' Coleman says. ''Going to worship at another church or finding another set of beliefs is considered worse than leaving the religion.''

    When she did leave - because she wanted to explore other more open kinds of Christianity - she says she was called ''the Antichrist'' by sect members, was sent offensive mail referring to her ''coldness'' and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder on account of the ''fear'' she carried into her decision.

    continued below

    ReplyDelete
  2. But what worried her most were the persistent rumours of male ''workers'' and elders sexually abusing young - some very young - sect girls and getting away with it. There was, she says, a culture of secrecy, cover-ups and denial, and a dismissal of outside authority, which meant sex crimes stayed hidden.

    ''If something happened between a minister and a young girl, or a young boy, it would be swept under the carpet,'' she says. ''The minister would be moved away and nothing would be said. The families would be outraged - but they would also be scared of being kicked out of the tribe. I have reason to believe this is still going on.''

    The sect's method of sending itinerant, celibate ministers into family homes for extended periods of time, she says, was, and still is, dangerous.

    The Victorian and Tasmanian leader of Friends and Workers, David Leitch, is known to be close to Chris Chandler, the former senior sect member who Fairfax Media today reveals will face 12 child sex charges in a Morwell court next month.

    Chandler grew up in Dromana. He lives now on French Island in Western Port and describes himself as a ''self-employed ecologist''. Last year he came back from 14 years as a ''Christian teacher and counsellor'' in Uruguay and Brazil, according to his LinkedIn profile.

    Last June, Chandler and Leitch wrote a letter to all Victorian sect members announcing Chandler would step down ''from the Work'' because police in Gippsland had begun questioning him about the allegations that have now led to charges involving several alleged victims.

    The charges all relate to alleged indecent acts on young girls in the 1970s when Chandler was aged about 20. Some alleged victims were under 12. Chandler claims in the letter he was not a sect member at the time - but he joined only three years later.

    Sources say senior members of the sect knew of the allegations that had already been made about him within sect circles at that time, but did nothing. In fact, in 1991 they promoted him to the senior position of ''worker'' - meaning he was travelling throughout Victoria and Tasmania and staying in family homes.

    ''He was around lots of children from that point on,'' a former sect member says. From 1991 until 2004, Chandler was in Wodonga, Shepparton, Launceston and rural Tasmania.

    Sect sources have confirmed that later in his time as a ''worker'', he positioned himself within the sect as a counsellor and a point of contact for victims of child sexual abuse.

    ''People were drawn to him as an advocate,'' the source says.

    Fairfax Media understands that after he announced he was standing down last year because of the police investigation, Chandler attended an overnight sect convention where children were present at Speed, near Mildura, and continues to attend sect meetings at Crib Point near Hastings, the closest town on the mainland to French Island.

    The convention at Speed is the biggest in the state; the others are on a farm belonging to the Lowe family - sect stalwarts for several generations - at Thoona near Benalla, in Drouin and also in Colac. In New South Wales the strongholds are at Glencoe, Mudgee and Silverdale.

    David Leitch denies sect leaders knew of Chandler's alleged past.

    ''If that had been the case he wouldn't have been involved in the way that he was.''

    Leitch says he does not know if Chandler has continued to attend sect meetings since resigning.

    ''We would not tolerate any matters that were not upright and in accordance with the teachings of the Scripture,'' he says. ''You might have seen it in the Catholic Church and so on, but we would not tolerate any such stupidity.''

    continued below

    ReplyDelete
  3. In 2011 another senior Victorian ''worker'', Ernest Barry, was convicted in a Gippsland court on five indecent assault charges over four years on a girl, a sect member, in the 1970s.

    He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail, but was given a suspended sentence on appeal after Melbourne forensic psychologist Wendy Northey - who has also profiled gangland drug trafficker Tony Mokbel for an assessment used by his defence lawyers - gave a psychological profile of Barry to the court.

    Police say they knew of another 12 alleged victims, but could not lay further charges against Barry, who now lives in Warrnambool, because the additional alleged victims would not come forward or press charges. Police also say David Leitch wore a wire to help convict Barry.

    Leitch says he ''greatly assisted'' police in their investigation - to improve the sect's image, sect sources say - but he declined to confirm whether he recorded conversations with Barry for the police. ''I don't think that's a proper question to be putting to me,'' he said.

    When Chris Chandler was a ''worker'' in Wodonga in 1995, the co-''worker'' with him in family homes was Ernest Barry.

    Then last year - this time in South Australia - the issue of child sexual abuse emerged in the secret sect again. A South Australian ''worker'', who has now moved to Victoria, alleged to David Leitch that another fellow ''worker'' had been allegedly sexually abusing children.

    Leitch sacked the worker who raised the allegations because he says the allegations were not true and he knew they were not true because he investigated them himself.

    ''I investigated with the actual people involved, with the people who were supposed to be the victims. They said nothing happened. [The worker] brought forward false child sexual abuse allegations and he was removed from his posting.''

    Leitch says if further allegations against sect members were raised he may or he may not tell the police.

    ''First I would assess how genuine the allegations are. I wasn't going to involve police in that other case because I know it was totally wrong. That would be a waste of resources and it's not common sense, it's stupidity.''

    In the Bible, Matthew 10 sets out much of what the sect believes. In it, Jesus sends out his disciples to cleanse the world of ''impure spirits''. Jesus ordered them to go with few belongings and seek out the homes of worthy persons to ''let your peace rest on it''.

    But ''be on your guard'', Matthew 10 says, and ''when they arrest you do not worry about what to say or how to say it … for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.''

    continued below

    ReplyDelete
  4. A former Victorian sect member now living in NSW says that during her time in the sect as a child and teenager it was ''95 per cent wonderful'', but the older she got and the more aware she became she realised the clandestine culture she was born into was ''misguided''.

    ''The culture fosters generational abuse,'' she says. ''There's little knowledge of legal matters, there's a real naivety about the wider world. Workers were highly trusted and held in the highest esteem. They had absolute authority. Worship was and still is highly conservative.''

    As young sect members got older, she says, they could feel trapped and silenced. In 1994 at Pheasant Creek near Kinglake, a 14-year-old girl, Narelle Henderson, and her 12-year-old brother Stephen, shot themselves with a rifle to avoid attending a four-day sect convention.

    Narelle's suicide note read: ''We committed suicide because all our life we were made to go to meetings. They try to brainwash us so much and have ruined our lives.''

    That year the then leader of the sect in Victoria, John ''Evan'' Jones, then 84 years old, made a statement to police at Surrey Hills in Melbourne confirming he knew the children, but adding: ''I cannot for the life of me think of any reason why they would do such a thing.''

    His statement said the sect was ''financially well-off'', with donated money controlled by a trust fund of three elders. Jones died in 2001 and is buried at Narracan East cemetery in Gippsland.

    David Leitch declined to elaborate on the sect's financial affairs now, but sources said it is still well-off, with money held in private bank accounts rather than a trust, to pay for senior members' overseas missions.

    In New Zealand and the United States the sect has registered companies called either United Christian Assemblies or Christian Conventions, but no such companies exist in Australia.

    A heavily redacted submission to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious groups by an organisation called Wings - an online group of former members - says the sect is ''haphazard'' in dealing with allegations from within its ranks and ''the main focus has been on protecting the reputation of the Workers and not on helping victims''.

    (The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began in Sydney last week.)

    According to the submission, contact by sect leaders with victims has been minimal and ''threatening, unwelcome and intimidating'', according to Wings' submission. Victims are discouraged from making contact with police or lawyers.

    One recent victim, the submission says, was asked if she ''really wanted to open that can of worms'' when seeking advice about what to do; another victim was told by sect leaders to ''heal herself in silence''.

    Elizabeth Coleman, who now works at a Christian school in Canberra, says speaking out was considered the gravest of betrayals in the sect. ''You would be widely seen as selling the group out.''

    But like all whistleblowers, she knew about the secrets within and knew they needed to be revealed.

    http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/1793857/friends-and-enemies-truth-and-lies/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Former sect leader pleads guilty to child sex charges

    by Chris Johnston, Senior Writer for The Age March 20, 2014

    A former leader of a secretive Victorian sect has pleaded guilty to child sex charges in a Gippsland court.

    Chris Chandler, 56, of French Island, a former senior member of the shadowy Bible sect known as Friends and Workers or the Two by Twos, pleaded guilty in the LaTrobe Valley Magistrate's Court on Thursday to nine charges including unlawful indecent assaults, indecent assaults and gross indecency on three young female victims.

    Several charges were dropped during the committal mention hearing on Thursday but Chandler faces court again in May after entering his guilty plea.

    The charges date back to the 1970s when Chandler was aged in his 20s. Some victims were under 12. Chandler was not a member of the sect then but joined only three years later.

    A Fairfax Media investigation last year established senior members of the sect knew of the allegations yet promoted him, in 1991, to the senior position of "worker", or minister - meaning he was travelling throughout Victoria and Tasmania and staying in family homes as a "missionary".
    From 1991 until 2004 Chandler was in Wodonga, Shepparton, Launceston and rural Tasmania. He later positioned himself within the sect as a counsellor and contact for victims of child sexual abuse.

    Chandler, a self-employed ecologist who recently returned from several years in Uruguay and Brazil, resigned from the sect in 2012. Yet he went to an overnight sect convention where children were present at Speed, near Mildura, and last year went to sect meetings at Crib Point near Hastings.

    A submission to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious groups - by an organisation called Wings, an online group of former Friends and Workers sect members - said the sect is "haphazard" in dealing with sexual abuse allegations and "the main focus has been on protecting the reputation of the Workers and not on helping victims".

    The sect has 2000 Victorian members and an estimated 200,000 worldwide. It is an offshoot of the Cooneyites. The Irish founder of the Cooneyites was the Protestant evangelist Edward Cooney, who moved to Mildura and died there in 1960 - hence Victoria's strong membership.

    Matthew 10 in The Bible sets out much of what the sect believes. In it, Jesus sends out his disciples to cleanse the world of "impure spirits".

    continued below

    ReplyDelete
  6. The sect was linked to the suicides of Narelle and Stephen Henderson, aged 14 and 12, of Pheasant Creek near Kinglake, in 1994. It holds five conventions a year at Speed, Colac, Drouin and at Thoona near Benalla.

    They have no churches or headquarters and no written policies or doctrines. Short hair is forbidden on sect women. Long hair is forbidden on men. Television, radio, movies, dancing and jewellery are usually banned in sect homes.

    The Victorian and Tasmanian leader of Friends and Workers, David Leitch, is known to be close to Chandler. In 2012, Chandler and Leitch wrote a letter to all Victorian sect members announcing Chandler would step down "from the Work" because police in Gippsland had begun questioning him about the allegations that have now led to Chandler's sex charges.

    In 2011 another senior Victorian "worker", Ernest Barry, was convicted in a Gippsland court on five indecent assault charges over four years on a girl, a sect member, in the 1970s.

    He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail, but was given a suspended sentence on appeal.

    Police say they knew of another 12 alleged victims, but could not lay further charges against Barry, who now lives in Warrnambool, because the additional alleged victims would not come forward or press charges.

    When Chandler was a "worker" in Wodonga in 1995, the co-"worker" with him in family homes was Ernest Barry.

    Then last year - this time in South Australia - the issue of child sexual abuse emerged in the secret sect again. A South Australian "worker", who has now moved to Victoria, alleged to Leitch that another fellow "worker" had been allegedly sexually abusing children.

    Leitch sacked the worker who raised the allegations because he says the allegations were not true and he knew they were not true because he investigated them himself.

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/former-sect-leader-pleads-guilty-to-child-sex-charges-20140320-3562h.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In 1940s50s I was living in Western Victoria (Australia) Victim of then known worker paedophile and another person who later joined the Irvine (Founders doctorine 2x2s ). Wish we had the voice available today,speak up in those days you were branded a trouble maker with a dirty mind and through life made sure you would leave then you would be classed as an unwilling,good ridence was all the Pastoring compassion you got.If you turned up to a "christian assemblies of australia (reg'd then)evening or outing and heard the words "who invited him",you knew God wanted you somewhere else..

      Delete
    2. I grimly smile in compassion for what you must have experienced, but you were and are not alone. Glad that there now are online support groups for you and others who have suffered from their lowlife self-righteous arrogance.
      I was in that same group in Canada for about 25 years as a professing person and another 12 or more years as a child. That there were sex offenders in the group all those years is now common knowledge. When I was in the group before my last departure in the late 90s,I had been a registered interdependent psychotherapist for several years specializing with survivors of sexual abuse. I therefore am all too familiar with the journey as a sexually abused man, as a former 'friendly,' and as a therapist.
      And so I want to acknowledge the journey you've been on, and I do hope, that you and so many others, land on your feet after the turmoil has settled down.
      A warmest of smiles.
      Bruce
      PS I am retired now, but if you or others have questions that I might be able to venture a response to, please feel free to ask. After all, when we seek to live in Christ, what else in all the world is there left to do but to support one another on the journey into his loving arms.

      Delete
  7. "....... in a blog conversation between a current 2x2 member and Mike Garde, Managing Director of Dialogue Ireland and an acknowledged cult expert, Mr.Garde declared ' I repeat I do not regard the 2×2′s as a cultist group under any defintion.(sic)' "

    Mr. Garde further states:


    "He (Irvine Grey) concludes that they are a dangerous cult. I disagree.
    However, on coming down on the side of the Two by Twos I do not believe his definition of it being a cult of Christianity is accurate. "

    dialogueireland.wordpress.com/about/cultism/

    ReplyDelete
  8. Of course we all have our own views on such things, but if our experience and the testimonies of others who have left or who have been kicked out for the enactment of only a few of the characteristics of cult religions, then why not conclude that any group that purports itself to be the only path to the Lord is in fact a cult.
    After all, if any religious organization proclaims openly that it is the only right way led by the only true sent ones, then it's a closed-circuit system that is then automatically subject to any and all forms of spiritual, organizational, monetary and sexual abuse. That The Truth is such a one then qualifies it as spiritually abusive at the least, and, at the worst, a falsely-indoctrinated body of people who commit and/or allow what I term as 'soul rape' in the name of salvation.
    What horror!
    What arrogance that any sect proclaiming itself as The Truth would be allowed to perpetrate untruthes, deny its essential dishonesty on any member or even worker, with impunity, worldwide!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Secrets lies and sex abuse as ex sect leader chooses life on the inside

    by Chris Johnston, Senior Writer for The Age Australia July 28, 2014

    Guilt can be a heavy burden - and this seems to be the case with the latest chapter in the disturbing story of a senior Victorian sect leader now in jail on child sex charges.

    Ten days ago Chris Chandler, 56, drove to Melbourne from his property on French Island, in Western Port. Then he went to the Melbourne Magistrates Court to hand himself in.

    Chandler was a leader of the secretive Bible sect known as Friends and Workers, or the Two by Twos, who have 2000 Victorian members. He had already admitted his guilt in eight charges in a Gippsland court including unlawful indecent assaults, indecent assaults and gross indecency on three young female victims.

    But Chandler baulked at his sentence of a year's jail with a non-parole period of three months, telling his lawyers that while he was guilty, he wasn't guilty to that extent.

    But then something changed. He decided he wanted to go to jail. When he turned up at Melbourne's central magistrates court to surrender - not the Morwell court his hearings had been held in, and not the one closest to his home - he hadn't told the policeman who made the charges stick what he was about to do.

    Sergeant Darren Eldridge of Moe police was surprised to hear Chandler had given up his fight. He had been working on the case for two years. ''We were assisted in different ways by a number of congregation members,'' he said.

    The sect is a strange offshoot of the Cooneyites; it adheres strongly to Bible sections of Matthew 10 to do with Jesus sending out disciples to cleanse ''impure spirits''.

    They do not have church buildings or headquarters and do not have written policies or doctrines. Travelling missionaries live with sect families for extended periods.

    Television, radio, movies, dancing and jewellery are banned. It is strong in Victoria because the Irish founder of the Cooneyites was the Protestant evangelist Edward Cooney, who moved to Mildura and died there in 1960.

    A submission to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious groups by WINGS, an online group of ex-sect members, said it has been ''haphazard'' in dealing with many sexual abuse allegations.

    continued below

    ReplyDelete
  10. The sect was linked to the suicides of Narelle and Stephen Henderson, aged 14 and 12, of Pheasant Creek near Kinglake, in 1994. Narelle's suicide note read: ''We committed suicide because all our life we were made to go to meetings. They try to brainwash us so much and have ruined our lives.''

    The sect holds five Victorian conventions a year at Speed (near Mildura), Colac, Drouin and Thoona near Benalla, where a prominent sect family has a farm.

    A Fairfax Media investigation last year established sect leaders knew of the allegations against Chandler but promoted him, in 1991, to the senior position of ''worker'', or minister - meaning he was staying in private homes until 2004 in Wodonga, Shepparton, Launceston and rural Tasmania.

    He later positioned himself as a counsellor and sect contact for child sexual abuse victims. He recently returned from stints for the sect in South America and Africa.

    The Victorian and Tasmanian leader of Friends and Workers, David Leitch, of Melbourne, is known to be close to Chandler. He would not comment but an ex-sect source claimed he has a file on alleged sexual offences by Chandler which he has not given to police. Leitch sacked a sect leader for reporting sexual abuse in 2013.

    Ex-member ''Ruby'', of Gippsland - not her real name - said Chandler was close to her family and that she was sexually assaulted by him in 1989 when she was 10. Her allegations led to one of the eight charges against him. She says the pair were at a beach when he rubbed his erection against her and asked if she ''wanted to make him happy''. He later tried to have a conversation with her about sexual rights and consent, she said.

    She said the sect had a ''culture of secrecy'' and distrust of outsiders. Sexual abuse of young people and children was common. She said she was visited by sect head Leitch before she went to police. ''He said to me 'if you go to the police there's not much they can do'.''

    She said Chandler messaged her through Facebook claiming he was molested as a child, that he had a different memory of the beach incident and that he was not a paedophile but rather suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder.

    ''It is not so much what he did to me,'' she said.

    ''I know he did worse things to others who are not emotionally strong enough to act. I want to get it all out in the open.''

    Sergeant Eldridge said Chandler had made contact with family members of other alleged victims before handing himself in.

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/secrets-lies-and-sex-abuse-as-exsect-leader-chooses-life-on-the-inside-20140727-3cnnc.html

    ReplyDelete
  11. I wss born into this controlling sect oo. My whole childhood was based around meetings where we kids were expected to follow with intetest every hymn and bible quote with our own bibles and hymn books. If we didn't or looked bored we were punished. We were constantly compared to other "role model" children and told we would go to hell if we didn't change. They even mapped my life out for me from an early age. I never professed but as a result have been wiped off by these "christians". Most of them go around looking for ways to criticize other members and refer to people like me as "going to hell". I could only see through this sect once I had gotten away totally.

    ReplyDelete