FLDS vs WOFF – How People Who Leave are Treated – part 8

    The subject matter of this post is hard to begin. During my years at WOFF, I was guilty of treating those who left in the manner that I am about to describe. All I can say is that now that I am out and looking back, it is a convoluted way to treat those you may have spent hours along side working or “worshipping”.  Those who leave are shunned and it is a known reinforced rule from the top – “Do Not Call someone who leaves or speak to them unless you find out from Jane if it is okay. You could loose an attack on them and/or the church.” That was made very clear. If you talk to them without “checking it out with authority”, then the sin that caused them to leave is in you! Your devils will hook-up and you will be out of here!”

    ( One side note: most every phrase in these posts that is in quotes, has a unique meaning to WOFF and in a future post I will attempt to explain how the unique language of this group was used to further their control over members. It is a VERY common practice in religious control groups to re-define words or add new meanings to words in order to prohibit individual thought. This happens at WOFF like NO OTHER group I have been a part of or read about. As I heard recently, “He who names the game, owns the game.. )

     As mentioned in previous posts, frequently fear was pronounced on the members about what would happen if they left WOFF. Many times, those who have left would have their names brought up and used as examples of what happens when “you don’t deal with your sin”, “when you don’t open your heart”, “when you allow one thought to take you over and the devil drives you out of WOFF”, “when you hide the “unclean”, lose hold of the “call of God”. Only one time on 16 years do I remember Jane Whaley ever saying a person was better off outside of WOFF and “back with their parents..” Every other time it was a big deal when someone left. Three times, that I can remember families were “sent out”, but the underlying presumption was that they would stay in fellowship with Jane and the church and the things taught by WOFF; two families did and one family did not. (as far as I know..)

     Sometimes we would be told right away when a person left. Other times it would be a while before Jane would mention that “so and so” is gone “They did not want to serve God.” There were no good reasons to leave for most folks. Many times a “Judas spirit took them over…” or “Their rebellion took them over”.. It was no mistaking the spoken and unspoken meanings to these descriptions of those who leave- they were in trouble!

     Sad to say that when folks I had been close to left, I succumbed to the pressures to not call or speak to them. I do regret my participation in that whole scene. You just knew that there would be “hell to pay” if you were caught “fellow-shipping with the Judases”.. How much true love can be in that? It set a bad example for the children to see adults cut off long relationships over a choice made to leave a church. That is another part that I deeply regret. Our children learn by the example we set. I cannot say I set a good example while spending time at WOFF when it came to talking to those who have left or showing true love to those when may have been “put out to find a place of repentance”.

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

     WOFF has never to my knowledge had a traditional “homecoming” as seen in other churches. Former members were RARELY allowed to come back and be a part of special meetings of any type. And as you read these posts, can you see why? The turmoil of the time at WOFF leaves so many with intense emotions, hurts and scars that coming back for even a visit is too emotional to consider. Recently, I heard there was some type of meeting where some folks were invited in and told they could ask questions. I am not sure how that went. It sounded more like a “damage control” or “prospect” meeting. Yes, not only is getting out a big deal at WOFF, but being allowed to join is at the sole discretion of Jane Whaley. Every visitor is screened or watched carefully. Invitation lists for members to invite relatives or other folks to graduation services or special meetings of any kind, are screened in the office. “This is to stop two or more folks from inviting the same folks.”  Over the years, the number of visitors just coming in off the street to general meetings was very small in comparison to the number of services that were held. Jane and/or Sam would always make it a point to meet them after the services. That greeting served many purposes.

     To this point, I have been sharing the way people who leave or join WOFF are treated. This is from my personal experience of what I saw, heard and participated in myself. As well as what I saw others do or not do. It is also consistent with what I have experienced after leaving WOFF in July of 2008. Two folks have called me by accident since I left. Their reaction to having accidently dialed my number was comical. Other contacts with members will be discussed later.

     Now, lets look at how FLDS treats members who leave. Flora Jessop in “Church of LIES” (copyright 2009)  writes about her experience of trying to visit her Mom after she left. She was told she would have to speak to her Dad and Uncle Fred. She asked her Mom how she and the children were doing? “We’re all fine.” (No, they were not doing “fine”. They lived in a polygamous cult, if they were “fine” they would be leaving that group! ) During this exchange Flora saw that seeing her family had become a church matter not just a family matter. (page 127)

     Later in the book, Flora recounts an impromptu meeting with her sister at a grocery store parking lot. The sister shunned her and refused to be polite or talk to her in a civil manner. It was an intense exchange. During this conversation, Flora said, “I believe in the Heavenly Father too, Maryett. But, the Heavenly Father I believe in doesn’t say, ‘Throw your family away because they don’t believe the same way I do.” Five men came running out of the store and surrounded the two in order to intimidate Flora. (sound familiar?   see previous post   http://religiouscultsinfo.com/?p=157 )  Flora continues to express her love for her sister, but it is never returned. (271)

     Elissa Wall in Stolen Innocence (copyright 2008), explains the FLDS terms gentile and apostate. “To be an apostate was even worse than being a gentile. Gentile was a term given to all non-FLDS people, no matter their religion, but as apostate was someone who had lost faith or had left the church, turning their back on the priesthood. Apostates were viewed as the worst kinds of evil.” (page 83) These excerpts seal for me the similarities in how people who leave are treated the same with both FLDS and WOFF.  

     Yet, another service with a strange twist. Before my leave of WOFF, I was witness to a service that sums up many things about the subject of this post. A young man had left several years previous and after him,  a family in leadership had left. The young man had his wedding pictures posted on the web and they showed several ex-members. The pictures were printed off and passed around the congregation with this disclaimer- “See if you leave here, you will gain weight, drink beer and wear short dresses.” The fear being placed on folks was too obvious! This took the better part of half the time for a service just to pass the pictures and talk about those who had left. More will be posted at a later time about fears used to keep members in both groups.

    Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are readers at WOFF. I KNOW for sure and will share that post soon.

     Look on the right side of any post for “Categories”, select the drop down box and view any previous post by selecting “Uncategorized”. Use the slide bar on the right to scroll down to the bottom. Select “Previous Entries” to review older posts.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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5 thoughts on “FLDS vs WOFF – How People Who Leave are Treated – part 8”

  1. Nice blog…I’m a former WOFF member, main leadership, lived with Jane, K____ and B____ C________ and R_____ and L_____ M________ for over 6 years. Saw the light a few years back…since then I have stumble across some very interesting information concerning…shall we say…a rather luxurious resort home on the east coast that just happens to be owned by some fine folks that are main leadership at WOFF. I have pictures, property tax information, etc…I wonder how the several hundred cult members would feel if they knew that all those offereings were going to purchase boats, skis, houses, etc….hmmmmm. Email me if you are interested in this information. Enough stones are being removed from the wall…I percieve the wall will fall soon.

  2. I heard that the church found pictures of everyone who left the church and was making a powerpoint show for the congregation. They were going to show how everyone looked so bad when they leave the church. Many who left the church was laughing about it, hoping they found really bad pictures of them to show. I have not heard if this took place or not. Everything you have said in your blogs on “What Thoughts Helped me Leave WOF” were true. I have listened and seen very similar situations many times. I also compare WOF with the FLDS church as well. There was a movie on tv recently about a woman who left a cult with her children and how they seduced the older daughter to come back to marry a boy she liked while there. But, they did a switch and an elder in the church was going to marry her. Sounds like WOF they use the girls and boys as bait. I tell everyone they prostitute the girls. They have them marry someone, it usually is not the one they start out with being “friends” with and who they really like. They are told to hear from God who they are to marry. But, they get help along the way from leadership. Once they marry, that is when the men can go off to college. The girls stay behind with the church and in Spindale, so the men have to come home on the weekends. I believe there may be exceptions, but that is the way it is. You have to be married to go off a distance away to college. There have been several who wanted to leave once they got out and found the truth. If you do not have someone to marry there, God will bring you someone. Thank God for the Brazilian churches, God has brought many to the U.S. to marry the WOF girls. A few of the Brazilian girls have come to the U.S. and married Americans. So, there is a plan! But, the way they use the young girls is sad. They are encouraging early engagements. The last class to graduate, almost everyone was engaged prior to their high school graduation. They may string along the engagement, but it has kept many hooked into staying in the church. The young ones are getting married. But, if you are older and have a family, WOF uses the family to stay in the church to keep one wayward spouse in the church. So, if that wayward spouse leaves, they cannot see their family ever again. They also tell the spouse still at the church not to file for divorce, but to wait for the other spouse to divorce them. This way they have more leverage on child custody. They are quite smart, with all the lawyers in the church now, they can figure out all the legal ins and outs. Again, like you post, this is from my memories and recollections.

  3. Jerry, do not forget the nice lake home in South Carolina where they jet skiing, boating and fishing. All of those items where outlawed from the pulpit many years ago. The leadership goes to the coast and boats and swims with different sexes and wears their shorts. Again, items not allowed to the general fellowship. It was made a strict rule that no one could talk about their trips or ask each other about the trips. This was to prevent children from feeling left out. It was to prevent anyone talking too much and everyone finding out about the homes and the outings. But, if anyone in the fellowship wanted to go away for a few days it had to be okayed. You would have to explain in detail why you would need to go anywhere, the “purpose” and who would go with you to be a “guard”. Such an ordeal. It was usually funny when one of the leadership’s children would slip and say something about where they went and what they did. They liked to keep the fellowship in the dark on their trips. Oh, and the shopping, shopping, shopping on these trips! Again, this comes from my memories and recollections.

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