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.


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.


  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

  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

  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

  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.


  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

  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.


    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..

    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.
      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.

  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. "


  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!

  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

  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.


  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.

    1. Since their inception as an organized religion - also oddly denied as such, yet any group that holds to a common purpose and doctrine are in fact organized even without a written charter, and if belief is in a diety of any kind, is also a religion - they have denied their origins, leading members to wrongly assume that they are the only group who are the true representatives of Jesus Christ, because, mysteriously,The Truth began in Irvine's day but was in a quietened state since Jesus' resurrection until around its re-awakening about 1896. Yet there are no records or letters or documents supporting their assertions. As the letters of Paul and other apostles are left on record since Jesus' day, why would there not be volumes of similar letters throughout the past two millennia. Odd that....
      As well, in effect, all the Christian leaders, preachers, missionaries and their labors are of no effect because,they were not in this sect that also calls itself The Way. So the wonderful words and works of Augustus, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and so many other men of God until our day with the likes of John Piper, Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias, Steve Lawson, Voddie Baucham and many others are of no effect. According to this group they are outside 'God's true way' and therefore are lost, unsaved. The very fact that they tend to denigrate all non-group ministries and members in fact denounces this group as a spiritually-abusive sect, and, added to other key feature inherent in its doctrines and practices, as a cult.

      The reports of Aussie sexual abuse, for instance, isn't limited to down under. Similar tales and court cases of sexual abuse and their way of handling offenders abound in all countries where this vile little group operates (that has up to a 1.5 million membership worldwide). Although there are some comforting features in it, it is a very much a dour unhappy group of people. They of course will attest to the opposite, but in all my time in it, little joy, individually or collectively, is integral to its core. Although contrary to some of the preaching - in an unending series of lifelong meetings - much of the 'worship' is about serving the highly-esteemed workers, and dressing according to the worldly Victorian fashions of the late 1800s. That overseers worldwide have and had unreconcilable differences for a century is common knowledge, and the fruit of their works more often than not are much less that Christ-like. Instead, there's a false 'niceness' that permeates its membership, meetings and conventions.


    Criteria for Recognizing a Religious Sect as a Cult

    by Roger E. Olson, Patheos May 21, 2015

    Note: If you are pressed for time and cannot read the whole essay below, feel free to skip to the end where I list 10 criteria. The essay describes my own history of interest in and research about “cults” and new/alternative religious groups.

    Developing Criteria for Recognizing a Religious Sect as a “Cult”

    Many religious scholars eschew the word “cult” or, if they use it at all, relegate it to extreme cases of religious groups that practice or threaten to practice violence. “Extreme tension with the surrounding culture” is one way sociologists of religion identify a religious group as a cult. By that definition there are few cults in America. No doubt they still exist, but when one narrows the category “cult” so severely it tends to empty the category.

    In the past, “cult” was used by theologians (professional or otherwise) to describe groups that considered themselves either Christian or compatible with Christianity but held as central tenets beliefs radically contrary to Christian orthodoxy as defined by the early Christian creeds (and for some the Reformation statements of faith). Given the diversity of Protestantism, of course, that was problematic because it opened the Pandora’s Box of deciding what is “orthodoxy.”

    A Supreme Court justice once said that he couldn’t define “pornography” but he knew it when he saw it. Many evangelical Christian writers of the 1950s and 1960s, for example, couldn’t quite define a “cult” but clearly thought they knew one when they saw (or read about) one. One evangelical radio preacher published a book on the “marks of a cult.” He was not the only one, however, to attempt to help people, in his case evangelical Christians, identify groups that deserve the label “cult.” Many have made the attempt. In the 1950s and 1960s (and no doubt for a long time afterwards) “cult” tended to mean any heretical sect—judged so by some standard of orthodoxy. That standard often seemed to be little more than a perceived “evangelical tradition.” Some anti-cult writers called the Roman Catholic Church a “cult.” Many labeled the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints a cult. One controversy erupted among fundamentalists and evangelicals when a noted evangelical anti-cult writer published an article arguing that Seventh Day Adventists are not a cult. Most Protestants had long considered Adventism a cult—theologically. (Just to be clear: I do not.)

    Still today, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, a difference exists about the word “cult.” It is used in many different ways. Following the trend among sociologists of religion most journalists tend to use the label only of groups they consider potentially dangerous to the peace of community. Theology rarely enters that discussion. Still today, many fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals use the label “cult” to warn fellow believers away from religious (and some non-religious) groups that espouse doctrines they consider heretical—even if the groups pose no danger to the peace of the communities in which they exist.

    Psychologists often regard any group as a cult insofar as it uses so-called “mind control techniques” to recruit and keep members. Sociologists of religion quickly point out that most religious groups could be accused of that depending on how thin one wishes to stretch the category of “mind control.” Would any religious group that claims members who leave are automatically destined for hell using “mind control?” Some psychologists have said yes to that question. Sociologists of religion point out that would make many peace-loving groups cults.

    continued below

  13. The debate over the meaning of “cult” has gone on in scholarly societies for a long time. Now it has settled into an uneasy acknowledgement that there is no universally applicable, standard definition. But there is a general agreement among scholars, anyway, that “cult” is a problematic word to be used with great caution. Calling a religious group a “cult” can mean putting a target on it and inviting discrimination if not violence against it. For that reason many religious scholars prefer the label “alternative religion” for all non-mainstream religious groups. My own opinion is that has its merits, especially where there is no agreed upon prescriptive standards or criteria for determining religious validity, where no idea of normal or orthodox is workable—as in a diverse context such as a scholarly society. Even that label, however, assumes a kind of norm—“mainstream.” If postmodernity means anything it means there is no “mainstream” anymore. But religion scholars cannot seem to abandon that concept.

    I have more than a scholarly interest in the concept “cult.” For me it is personal as well as professional. It’s professional because, over the thirty-plus years of my career as a theologian and religion scholar I have taught numerous classes on “cults and new religions” in universities and churches. I’ve spoken on the subject to radio interviewers—especially back when “cults” were all the rage in the media (after the “Jonestown” and “Branch Davidian” and similar events happened). I’ve published articles about certain “alternative religious movements” in scholarly magazines and books. While rejecting so-called “deprogramming” practices, I have engaged in sustained discussions with members of groups about their participation, even membership, in groups their families and friends considered cults—to help them discern whether their participation was helpful to them as Christians and as persons.

    It’s personal because I grew up in a religious form of life many others considered a cult. And I had close relatives who belonged to religious groups my own family considered cults.

    The professional and the personal came together recently—again. I became acquainted with a man who grew up in (but has left) a religious group to which one of my uncle’s belonged. My uncle’s religious affiliation was always a bit of a sore spot in my large and mostly evangelical family. (I say large because when they were all alive I had sixty-five first cousins. That’s a large family by most standards. I remember family reunions where over a hundred people attended and they were all fairly closely related. And that was only one side of my family!) Among my close relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins) were members and ministers of many relatively non-mainstream religious groups. But my uncle stood out as especially curious to me and to my parents (and, no doubt, many of his siblings). At family reunions, when prayer was said over the meal, he would get up and walk away and turn his back on us. My father explained that his brother believed praying with unbelievers was wrong. So I set out to discover more about my uncle’s and cousins’ religion. My uncle would not talk about his religious affiliation with anyone in our family, so he was not a source of information about it. (My father knew some about it because he was “there” when his brother converted to the group.) Over a period of years I discovered some fairly reliable information about the group even though it is somewhat secretive. The group exists “off the radar” of most people including many religion scholars, but researchers have labeled it the largest house church movement in America and possibly the world.

    continued below

  14. Some have called it the church without a name because its adherents and leaders give it no name but only call themselves “Christians,” “the Truth,” and “the Brethren.” (It has some similarities and possible historical connections with the Plymouth Brethren but is not part of that movement.) They have no buildings, no schools, no publisher, no headquarters. They believe they are the only true Christians, but they live peacefully among us and pose no physical threat to anyone. They do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ or the Trinity, but they use the King James Version of the Bible only.

    My acquaintance who grew up in the group asked me if he grew up in a cult. (His parents still belong to it.) I found that difficult to answer because of the many definitions of “cult.” Which definition should I pull out of my religion scholar’s/theologian’s grab bag of labels? I couldn’t give him a clear answer. “It depends on how one defines ‘cult’” is pretty much all I could say. I don’t think that satisfied him. It doesn’t satisfy me.

    Certainly my family thought my uncle belonged to a cult, but that started me thinking, even as a teenager, what “cult” meant. At school I had been told by friends who were fundamentalist Baptists that my church was a cult. I began to conduct what research I could into the concept of “cult” and found two radically different but contemporary treatments of the concept. One was Marcus Bach, a well-known and highly respected scholar of religion who taught religious studies for many years at the University of Iowa. (I think he founded the university’s School of Religion.) I read every book by him I could get my hands on and they were many. Eventually I had the privilege of meeting him in person and having a brief conversation with him. Bach grew up Reformed, became Pentecostal, and eventually ended up in the Unity movement. His book The Inner Ecstasy tells about his religious pilgrimage in vivid detail. He wrote many books especially about what scholars now call “alternative religions” in America and it was from him that I first learned about most of them—everything from New Mexico “Penitentes” to The Church of Christ, Scientist. I was especially fascinated by his descriptions of Spiritualism—the religion focused on séances as the central sacrament. He claimed that at one séance he did actually have a conversation with his deceased sister and asked the medium questions that only his sister would be able to answer—from their childhood. The apparition answered his questions correctly. He drew no metaphysical conclusions about that, which was typical of Bach. He was interested in, fascinated by, alternative religious movements and groups but held back from prescriptive judgments of any kind.

    The opposite book was by a Lutheran pastor named Casper Nervig and the title tells much about his approach to this subject: Christian Truth and Religious Delusions. In it I discovered that the Evangelical Lutheran Church was the “church of truth” and that both my uncle’s religion and my family’s were “religious delusions”—tantamount to “cults.”

    continued below

  15. This launched me on a lifelong search to understand so-called “cults” and “alternative religious movements.” Had I grown up in a cult? Was the faith of my childhood and youth an alternative to some mainstream religion of America? We considered ourselves evangelical Protestants, but I discovered many religion scholars (including Bach) considered us “alternative” and even some evangelicals (to say nothing of mainline Protestants and Catholics) considered us a cult.
    As a passionate Pentecostal Christian in junior high school and high school I was relentless teased, even sometimes bullied, by schoolmates who belonged to many different religious traditions. I was called a “holy roller” and “fanatic.”

    So my acquaintance’s question has often been my own: Did I grow up in a cult? Apparently it depends on what “cult” means.

    When I taught courses on cults and new religions in universities and churches I often began by telling my students and listeners that “nobody thinks they belong to a cult.” I also pointed out that if the concept “cult” (in our modern sense) had existed in the second century Roman Empire Christians would have been called “cultists.” (Of course the word “cultus” did exist but simply meant “worship.”) We should be very careful not to label a group a “cult” just because it’s different from what we consider “normal.”

    My preference has become to not speak of “cults” but of “cultic characteristics.” In other words, religious groups are, in my taxonomy, “more or less cultic.” I reserve the word “cult” as a label (especially in public) for those few groups that are clearly a threat to their adherents’ and/or public physical safety. In other words, given the evolution of the term “cult” in public discourse, I only label a religious group a cult publicly insofar as I am convinced it poses a danger to people—beyond their spiritual well-being from my own religious-spiritual-theological perspective. To label a religious group (or any group) a “cult” is to put a target on its back; many anti-cult apologists still do not get that.

    On the other hand, at least privately and in classroom settings (whether in the university or the church) I still use the label “cult” for religious groups that display a critical mass of “cultic characteristics.” Of many non-traditional groups, however, I prefer simply to say they have certain “cultic characteristics” rather than label them cults. And, in any case, I make abundantly clear to my listeners that if I call a group a cult, I am not advocating discrimination, let alone violence, against them. In the case of those groups I label cults publicly I am advocating vigilance toward them.

    So what are my “cultic characteristics”—beyond the obvious ones almost everyone would agree about (viz., stockpiling weapons with intent to use them against members or outsiders in some kind of eschatological conflict, physically preventing members from leaving, harassing or threatening critics or members who leave the group, etc.)? Based on my own long-term study of “alternative religious groups,” here are some of the key characteristics which, when known, point toward the “cultic character” (more or less) of some of them:

    continued below

  16. 1 Belief that only members of the group are true Christians to the exclusion of all others, or (in the case of non-Christian religious groups) that their spiritual technology (whatever that may be) is the singular path to spiritual fulfillment to the exclusion of all others.

    2. Aggressive proselytizing of people from other religious traditions and groups implying that those other traditions and groups are totally false if not evil.

    3. Teaching as core “truths” necessary for salvation (however defined) doctrines radically contrary to their host religion’s (e.g., Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) orthodoxy broadly defined.

    4. Use of conscious, intentional deception toward adherents and/or outsiders about the group’s history, doctrines, leadership, etc.

    5. Authoritarian, controlling leadership above question or challenge to the degree that adherents who question or challenge are subjected to harsh discipline if not expulsion.

    6. Esoteric beliefs known only to core members; levels of initiation and membership with new members required to go through initiations in order to know the higher-order beliefs.

    7. Extreme boundaries between the group and the “outside world” to the extent that adherents are required to sever ties with non-adherent family members and stay within the group most of the time.

    8. Teaching that adherents who leave the group automatically thereby become outcasts with all fraternal ties with members of the group severed and enter a state of spiritual destruction.

    9. High demand on adherents’ time and resources such that they have little or no “free time” for self-enrichment (to say nothing of entertainment), relaxation or amusement.

    10. Details of life controlled by the group’s leaders in order to demonstrate the leaders’ authority.

    By these criteria I suspect that I have been involved in religious organizations with cultic characteristics in the past. The college I attended displayed some of them some of the time (depending on who was president which changed often). The first university where I taught displayed some of the characteristics. I remember a faculty meeting where the founder-president (after whom the school was named) called on individual faculty members by name to come forward to the microphone and confess “disloyalty” to him. I would not say, however, that the religious form of life of my childhood and youth was or is a cult or overall has cultic characteristics. There are specific organizations within it that do. My recommendation to people caught in such abusive religious environments is to leave as quickly as possible.


  17. New book available on this group: "Cult to Christ - The Church With No Name and the Legacy of the Living Witness Doctrine". Available at Amazon (ebook and paperback). Reviews also available at www.culttochristbook.com Published by Adeline Press, April 2015

  18. Autobiographic tale of my twenty years in the Korean
    unifying movement of the self-styled reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Unification
    Church, very active in Japan, in United States and in Europe. A recognition in
    the language denoted of plagiarism and self plagiarism, that characterize the
    interpersonal transaction in the mystical micro-cults. Strategies “no profit”
    to recycle a remarkable huge amount of money, deriving by philanthropic
    fundraising, in normal activities “full profit”. The secrets of the fundraising
    and sales “door to door”. Entirely transposed by my time in the more
    articulate, picturesque mystical enterprise of the history: the Moon’s sect or...
    the cleverest fraud of the history! An economic empire built on the fundraising,
    making the whole world believing of feeding nagger kids and not feeding even one
    of them... An amusing narration, that unfortunately it pertains to one of the
    worse evil of our time: the speculation on the money!


    1. Ulisse, you may also want to post your comment on the following page of this blog:


  19. I am not a church goer and I grew up catholic. However, I have first hand experience with this religion because most of my aunts, uncles and cousins on my mom's side of the family were two by two's. I was well aware of the fact that they did not have an official name. I spent many farm gatherings and family gatherings with this side of the family. Yes, they were very different from me - I wore shorts, jewelry, make up, and permed hair. My cousins wore long hair, skirts, no make up, no jewelry. They didn't watch TV or listen to current music and I did. However, nobody harassed me about it and nobody tried to convert me. We talked about the differences in our faiths a little bit but it was just that - a discussion. These were some of the nicest, most peaceful people I have ever met - truly. I spent a weekend alone at my aunt and uncles house once. I remember feeling totally cared for, loved, and safe. The house was quiet because of no TV, so I remember the sounds of conversation, piano playing, and the smell of baking. Again, the whole time nobody judged me or tried to convert me. Nobody cut off ties with my mother when she left the faith. Please, don't just lump people together to make it easier to understand. This was not a cult - it's just a faith that deviates from main stream christianity. Please stop implying that the obviously horrific abuse of a child / children was somehow a part of their doctrine. This is an atrocity that happens across all religions, unfortunately. True peace comes from understanding. True peace comes from acknowledging the complexity of the world we live in.

    1. I disagree. I was the third generation born into the religion. There was definitely the attitude that if you were being abused it was covered up.

      Every sunday I was fondled by a member. I told my parents and anyone who would listen that I had seen him hopping in bed with his daughter once through the night when I was sleeping over. No one did anything. He used to feel my behind and things like that. I recall a young woman being assaulted at convention it was hushed up.

      They did cover for abusers. I know that for a fact.

      They also blamed women if their husbands beat them. Actually they refused to believe battered wives and excluded them if they reported it.

      Covering up abuse was certainly a part of something they did.

      I love my family members still in it too but that doesn't make me blind to the fact that it is a harmful religion.

      You were never a member. Non members never see the reality, they don't want you to see the reality.

    2. I'm with you on this. My family is not like this aND it is definitely not preached. Obviously criminals should be held responsible but that is the failure of the family to act not the religion and it definitely does not effect all who practice it.

      My family is a more modern side of it that use computers and wear what they want but they decide that for themselves.

    3. See my reply to you below, I'm considering deleting your comments because you've used two different names to submit your comments, and you've submitted each of them twice for some reason. That makes me suspicious about you as that's the kind of deception cult members and their apologists use.

  20. I grew up in Western Sydney, I believe my grandmother to be an elder in the 'truth'. As an adult now, I would like meet another elder or someone else I could meet in Sydney- if there is someone that could point me in the right track could you please leave a email/number (I would then be happy to give the name of my grandmother ) Thanks

    1. yes i got out of this if you need help my email is praknic@bigpond.com

  21. My story is similar to the one above...I live in Ontario, Canada. I cannot find out any information online about the Ontario Two by Two's which is odd, because my father's family is/was 80% part of that cult. My father and one of his brother's were not. But, my paternal grandmother and 7 of her 9 children were and a few of my cousins are as well. My grandma was in her 100th year when she died in 1991. I have no idea who the workers were or where she got involved in it but probably in the 1920's. I would think she was in it for all of my father's childhood, but nobody talks about it. All of the women wore below the knee plain old dresses every day of their life, wore their hair in buns, only a wedding ring for jewellery, no makeup, no tv or radio. A few of my cousins are still this way to this day. It is an odd thing to grow up knowing that grandma was deeply religious but she never spoke of it other then saying a blessing at meals. She was a faithful god fearing bible reading woman but my grandpa had nothing to do with it. As a child if I was at their home for the weekend and the meeting was at her house, I was asked to stay outside. But I did see and hear odd things that did not mean 'church' to me. Grandma had an organ but nobody played it for meeting. Everyone was sad and downtrodden looking. Everyone looked old, tiptoed and whispered. Everyone sang off key, at a horrid pitch. Everyone mumbled, there was no sermon or order to the 'service'. Even if I had been in the room I would not have learned a thing. I have my grandma's Hymnal to this day, I think the 1951 version of Hymns Old and New. I was raised in a United Church and this meeting was silly to me. My sister and I were outsiders and it was all a big mystery. I went to my grandma's funeral in 1991 and it was the weirdest experience...the two or three workers doing her service spoke in a language that not one of us in my immediate family understood...I hesitate to say in tongues but it was nonsense. Not one word was said about my grandmother, not one. It was like being on another planet. It was bizarre. She was a good grandma, very quiet, but she loved to bake and taught me how to. A woman of few words but now I know why. In my 30's I became a 'Born Again' Christian and left that after 10 years, realizing it was a man led cult and a way to control members, especially women. I remember asking a pastor of the church if he had ever heard of anything like my grandmother's religion and he was the first to name it for me. At a family reunion that year I asked my cousin what her beliefs were...I was stonewalled with her curt reply 'we follow the whole bible' and she glared at me so I would not ask anything else. Every Christmas with my family as a child growing up was so bizarre...they did celebrate Christmas but it was so somber. There was always lots of food, but no conversation, no laughter, no fun, no music, no games. Everyone stood waiting for someone else to talk and nobody did. Very very bizarre indeed! Even though my father did not follow that religion he was very stern, strict, mean and liked to verbally and emotionally abuse my mother and us girls...but his siblings weren't like that as parents and they were in the religion. My father went the complete opposite way. He is a hypocrite, a liar and an adulterer and married 3 times. So, I am just wondering if anyone knows who came to Ontario way back when and started this movement in my family. I know that they all went, and probably still go, to Picton, Ontario for these yearly secret 'conventions' but even though I live down in that area, there is never any information about it! It's all still a BIG SECRET!

    1. See Elizabeth Coleman's comment above. The book she refers to might have some answers for you.

    2. Hi, I was raised in the 2 by 2's and although I walked away from it in my late teens many of my family members continue to be involved. I was born again in 1991 and as years have attended spiritually healthy churches since then. I was with some of my family members last evening, in fact, celebrating my moms 88th birthday. My grandmother was also from the Picton area. Do the last names Hutchison, Jessup or Richards ring a bell? Those are my relatives.

  22. I need to directly address an issue with the 'head worker' in the state of Missouri. It has to do with one of his young male 'workers' being sexually suggestive and inappropriate with a very young relative of mine. This man needs to be held accountable. I am willing to get the authorities involves. Does anyone have a name and address of the 'head worker' in the state of Missouri.

    1. why don't you report it to the police??? I am still trying to figure out if this is a cult or not but I must say they are very misleading when You ask them about their faith I don't think they give straight answers.

    2. Well why are you not asking former members like myself who were the third generation born into it. We don't keep their secrets. We disclose

    3. And yes it is a cult. Myself and my siblings all have mental health issues from our upbringing. So do my cousins. Not many get out unharmed.

  23. I was brought up in that religion, from the time I was born, till I left it far in the dust of my heels around sixteen years old, after my adoptive parents had died. My adoptive parents, and two out of four of my foster families were members of that group. It does crack me up a little bit when people ask that question, 'Is it a cult?', because it's a darn good question. To me, it is both an actual religion, and a cult, depending on which way one looks at it. One of the cult watch sites lists it as determined by the govt. as not being such. The fact that it's listed at all on those sights should be some indication, though they are probably in a grey area. I didn't witness a lot of that kind of abuse within that church when I was growing up, but that doesn't mean it didn't ever happen. Their propensity to grab their own children and haul them out of the tents at convention and beat them as regular course was creepy enough, not to mention the threat of hellfire all the time. Other than that, most of them would probably be rather fun people. I just couldn't live with dismal threats hanging over me like that, so I escaped myself. Never looked back.

    1. Hi Eden, leaving was the best thing I ever did too. My upbringing is probably why I am now an atheist. Some nice people yes, but it is a horribly repressive way to live. I left home age 17 to escape. I hated my life and the church.

  24. I was brought up in this way also, head worker covered up child abusers and let them continually stay in friends home with kids. It is a disgusting way to live and they come across as nice sincere people, most are just fakes cause when it comes down to it they show their true colours

  25. I competly agree with leanne, it seem you don't leave easy! I am getting help at the minute and phycology, hard to shake off those old beliefs, also due to the rigid upbringing I am a nervous wreck in public, don't know how to act


  26. I truly pray that all of you get relief from getting this all out of you and gain the confidence you deserve to have today and the rest of your lives. And if you can't find the answers why you were in these situations in the first place, then give it up and claim peace-find peace somehow and the answers will come later,John

  27. Hi john, good piece of advice-easier said than done however! Did you belong in this cult too?

  28. I'm so sorry all of this has happened to you all.

    However, we must be careful to paint all people in this religion as the same.

    My family on my father's side are in this religion and as an outsider I was probably as close as you can get to them.

    Two of my cousins are workers...and I spent 3 wks every summer going to meeting and convention with my cousins.

    I have never heard of any wrong doing in my area (Ontario,Canada).

    My family are the nicest people I've ever met and if they don't agree with your lifestyle they keep it to themselves and loved me regardless of being an outsider. Even my cousins who have left believe it is the one true path.

    My grandfather made sure that our family was godly and good. We never had a worker that abused their position or trust.

    There will always be evil in every religion but we cannot paint all these people as a cult because it simply isn't true everywhere.

    One of the facts about this lifestyle is that the people decide for themselves what a life for God looks like and do not allow one person or doctoring govern their beliefs.

    It's based on family and community and living modestly and happy for God. Although I don't believe in what my family does I do not demonize them in a sweeping generalization.

    Thank you for reading.

    1. I'm considering deleting your comment above because you submitted the same comment twice, but under two different names. That's the kind of deception common to cultists.