Tag Archives: Leaving a Cult

Resource for Help: Celebrate Recovery

     In the last couple of weeks, I was made aware of a program sponsored by a church in area. The program is called Celebrate Recovery®. It is described as a help for those with “hurts, habits and hang-ups”. This program was started by John Baker from Saddleback Church. The Celebrate Recovery® program began in 1991 and has grown to serve folks in over 10,000 churches. You may have heard of Saddleback Church in California, as their Pastor Rick Warren wrote “The Purpose Driven Life”© series.

     The brochure for this program lists the purpose as helping those in need “to embrace God’s healing power by sharing our experience, strength and hope with one another. Through the process, we become willing to accept God’s grace in solving our problems, pain, shame, and addictions.”  There are explicit guidelines for what to expect and what is not included in the program. It is very clear this program is not for therapy. Leaders are not professional, licensed counselors.

    This program could be a resource for those leaving religious mind control groups. Some of the issues being addressed include: Depression, Divorce, Anger, Hurtful Relationships, Codependency, Eating disorders and Addictions. The program provides a safe place to share with others. There is respect given and expected from each participant.

     The list of things not to expect includes a place for selfish control, secrets or dating relationships. No long term commitment is required as well as no quick fixes are guaranteed. There are sharing guidelines that allow all who are willing to participate, to feel safe. Support for those in the group is expected, but no one is there to “fix” one another. What is said in the group stays in the group. Those outside the group environment need not know what is said in the group – even in the form of a prayer request!

    Continue reading Resource for Help: Celebrate Recovery

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November Seminar 1994- What is the worst thing that can happen?

     At the beginning of a November seminar at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF)  in 1994; (could have been 1993) Jane Whaley came  in and started the service with this question- “What would be the worst thing that could happen to you?” She then listed things like illness, divorce, death of a parent or child. After some discussion, she stopped and told the congregation that God had showed her the worst thing. Reading from Matthew 7:22-23. (New International Version)

22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    Jane went on to say that the worst thing for her would be to come to the end of her life and stand before God and having Him say to her: “I never knew you. Away…”  At that time, it was a very serious thought. Obviously, it has stuck with me all these years. Could this time have been a turning point for Jane? What happened?  How could the thoughts about this passage of scripture be so serious and yet not produce lasting changes in a person’s life? Certain things in life are a mystery.

    Continue reading November Seminar 1994- What is the worst thing that can happen?

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Hope for Those in Cult Mind Control Groups

     One common concern of many who are outside of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) is the children now in the group. Over the years, the children have grown up, married and begun to have there own children. WOFF is clearly into the second generation growth stage. There is a group of children and youth who have known only the WOFF “cult-ture”. They are marrying and having children. Recently, a person expressed concern and regret for the second generation of WOFFers (WOFF members) – will they ever have a chance to leave?

     In Steven Hassan’s book – Releasing the Bonds.. (copyright 2000) he explains in chapter 2 the answers to “What is Destructive Mind Control?” The chapter is rich with a detailed explanation of his perspective obtained over many years of research and helping people who have affected by mind control. At the end of the chapter, he closes with these thoughts, “Everyone has an authentic self. Although a healthy individual will grow and mature over time, his personality type should never change. Changes in a personality type often indicate unhealthy social pressure that forces a person to act as if he were someone else…. It is also verified the existence of a cult identity which binds and gags the authentic self.” (page 60)

     This explains the results which the person shared in a comment for the previous post..One minister who moved up from Greenville ( he has a military background) even said to another (now former) member that they (the church) did everything they could to break (my son) but they just could not. My son just would not “submit his heart”.   I do not doubt at all the WOFF attempts to suppress or annihilate the authentic self of this young person and replace it with a robotic, cult identity. I witnessed it first hand. The perverted “love” he was shown by WOFF members in his household and in the church nearly destroyed him.  Members who do not assume the cult identity do not fit well in the WOFF “cult-ture”. It truly is a sub-culture in Rutherford county as well as other places abroad. Pressuring folks to change identities by cult mind control methods is one source of the major emotional trauma seen in many who leave WOFF. But, that too can be worked through.

    Hassan goes on and his words bring hope. “When interacting with your loved one, (in a mind control group) it is essential you recognize the differences between pre-cult identity (before recruitment), and the cult identity (during membership), and the person’s authentic self, which stays in them forever. Even people who are BORN into cults have an authentic self which was suppressed at birth. It is the strength of the authentic self that makes it possible to rescue people from cults years, even decades, after becoming involved in the group…. (page 60- emphasis added..)

     Jane Whaley and her cohorts in “identity theft” can never steal away a person’s authentic self. When that “self” begins to yearn for expression, then the hope turns to action. In WOFF, it was described as a person was “under the dealings of God”. In some ways, YES! In many cases, it was the authentic self, struggling to break free from the cult identity and explore and express itself – as GOD DESIRES! A few folks test what is considered normal when they come out of WOFF. After a while, many find inner strength and harmony, then they begin to live a life of the true expression, of who God intended for them to be.

     This answers the questions and assumptions of some folks who think their family members are “happy” in WOFF. In that environment, their relatives are not living their true, authentic self. They are struggling to fit into the WOFF “cult-ture” with a manufactured WOFF identity. If you have family or friends in WOFF, you really may not know them because they have had to suppress their authentic self in order to continue in the group. Has anyone seen their friends or relatives enter into WOFF and go through a personality change? Should I list names! Consider why after reading this post. It is becoming obvious to me that in order to continue in WOFF, I suppressed thoughts, questions and basically lied to myself that those things were not important. Reviewing that is for another day… I encourage all to read Hassan’s book.

   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. Comments are invited from all readers, including present or former members. Polls are not scientific and no private information is gathered.

     Look on the right side of any post for the option to subscribe by email for notifications or RSS feeds notifying of new postings. It is a great feature. Also, find more posts by selecting “Categories”.

      (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. ) This is post number 92.

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Permanent Dependent Underclass? at WOFF? (2)

     Towards the end of the last post, I wrote this about Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) – This is the closest thing I have seen or been apart of, that would be classified as the development of  a “permanent dependent underclass”. Jane Whaley needs “regular” members to be submissive, “stay in their places”, “tithe and give offerings” and not stray, so others can grow dependent on her “spiritual”, as well as natural provisions. 

     After reflecting on these words, I do not want others to get the wrong impression. For the most part, on the outside; these WOFF members who helped others in the church performed their services as a ministry of helps, with a great attitude. Not once did I hear grumbling from a WOFF member about helping others. Many would donate the labor and use of their tools, if the receiving member could pay for the parts. At times, a person helping another member, would even donate the parts or supplies. There was great sacrifice for many folks- since who has a water heater start leaking in the day time or during the  weekdays?? Some repairs were planned, but many were needed right away.

     Many folks would volunteer to watch your children on the spur of the moment, no charge. Others would cook and provide meals. Some community folks and relatives of Jane Whaley, would be the benefactors of WOFF ladies cooking during family funerals or sickness situations. Jane always wanted to be made aware of who in your neighborhood might have a serious issue where WOFF members could “reach out”. WOFF even put out a cookbook years ago. I have mine! Yes, there has been outreach to non-members on occasion. One person in the community voiced there shock to me, when they heard of WOFF donating several gifts at a baby shower to a non-member. Actually, this person regularly attends another church. Many folks giving the gifts were not known by the mother-to-be.

   Continue reading Permanent Dependent Underclass? at WOFF? (2)

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What Thoughts Helped Me Leave WOFF – Part 3

        This is the third post in the series which explains the events and thoughts during the events which proceeded my leaving the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). The previous post outlined a meeting held on church property in which several minsters tried to “help” me see the error of my ways. Jane Whaley’s “adopted” daughter presented several intense arguments that were warnings of my decadent, sinful condition. Once there appeared to be no progress, Jane Whaley was called in to deliver the “strong rebuke”.  She screamed as she pointed her finger in my face- “You are full of wickedness and sin!”. Next, she screamed at the person next to me and told them- “And you let him be so!” Jane left and on cue, this person begins commanding me to give up my sin. This meeting had a profound affect on me. The shocker was the leadership in the meeting considered this a normal course of events. How do I know? Because they all supported each other and raised the bar of attempted behavior modification – together. I was evidently not the first person subject to such measures and I suspect not the last. These meetings were the WOFF modus operandi. Why should I think any different? Are there any former members who also went through such a meeting?

     Regardless, at the end of the meeting, I was fired for not giving up my part-time work. (and not bowing to the group control efforts.)  Incidently, at that time, I was in the middle of a three year contract with a website provider. My part-time work included support of this site. Buying out of the contract, would not have been feasible. In a few days after this meeting, I had found another contract for work and started working and providing for my family. But, in the days and weeks that followed; the attempts to modify my behavior would only intensify. Much of the efforts used are not appropriate to recount in this public forum. In the future, this consideration may change.

     A side note, in the days after the meeting on April 9th, there was a scheduled meeting at the community college where the Holocaust teacher from the church, taught and still teaches. A Holocaust survivor was coming to give their testimony. It was directly related to the class I had taken over the Internet from that community college.  I had completed the class but, after a fellow in leadership and the Holocaust teacher conferred;  I was banned from the meeting. Yes, I was banned from a meeting where the featured speaker was a Holocaust survivor! Think of the deep irony in that scenario! The Holocaust teacher was a direct influence on that decision. Is that crazy or what? The lady who studied the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich- banned one of her students, who passed the class with a high grade, from a class meeting- why? Does this mean she mixed her classroom responsibilities with her perceived role at the church, and chose the administration of church doctrine or practice, over the student’s interests? Are there any readers from the community college- yet?

    Continue reading What Thoughts Helped Me Leave WOFF – Part 3

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What Thoughts Helped Me Leave WOFF?? Part 2

    This post will layout more events which led to the thoughts which I had in order to decide to leave Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). My time in the group as a member living locally, was six years. That period followed the ten years of involvement through the Greenville, SC church. In March of 2008, Jane Whaley had called a “closed door” prayer meeting during which I had been rebuked my immediate (job) supervisor. This all led up to the meeting on April 9, 2008.

     April 9th was a Wednesday. There was a “normal” church service. After the service, I was told to be in a meeting in one of the leaders church office. He happened to be the father of the family that owned the property management company for which I had been working. Another person, who was close to me, was standing in the hall way waiting to go in with me, to the meeting. Actually, I thought that was odd. The folks needed for the meeting squeezed into this small office with me sitting in a chair sorta backed into a corner. This position would be critical to the presenters of the case against me. Each would take their turn.

       The son of the family of owners of the company I worked for; opened the session by saying he had heard some of the things I had been doing- through the supervisor. He said, he was shocked and though I had asked permission from the supervisor to tend to some other business; if he had known- it would not have been allowed. From there, the son and father presented me with an ultimatum- “Quit your part-time obligations or you will lose your job-be fired- tonight.” I hung my head to gather my thoughts. After I did not jump and say “Praise, God- thank you for cutting me off from that part-time work!”  The conversation rachetted up and other “ministers” more experienced and skilled in abusive tactics came into the room. The first was the woman who had put me in discipleship several weeks previous for reading headlines of newspapers and telling someone about it. (read here.http://tiny.cc/cpmlw ) She had a lot to say- but the subject changed into warnings about sin and how I was walking a thin line and needed a heart change! She got louder and louder. When she would take a breath, other “ministers” would begin from another angle. I felt like I was drawn within  my body and watching a nightmare unfold of which I had no control. This was such an intense attack that I was reeling emotionally. I admitted some things to try to stop the frequent volleys and the barrages of accusations, to no avail.

     Continue reading What Thoughts Helped Me Leave WOFF?? Part 2

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What Thoughts Helped Me Leave WOFF?? Part 1

     Truthfully, I have put off writing this post for several weeks. But, after certain emails and comments which I have received; I believe it is time to share these events. This post will reveal several of the thoughts I had while I was going through the process of leaving Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). In previous posts, I have shared certain ones, but here the events that led to the thoughts will be put together for a more accurate picture. There came a point where I was forbidden to be on church property. What happened that would cause me to leave the group all together? Not all thoughts and events which occurred are fit for this public forum; but those may be shared under different circumstances. In reality, I did not think the path of separation from WOFF would take the path that it has. But, who can really know the future except God, Himself?

     Readers should not make the mistake of thinking that these exact same thoughts would help their friends or relatives leave WOFF. Everyone had their certain individual thoughts that allowed them to go into WOFF and they must have their own unique thoughts, in order to leave. No two people go in or come out the exact same way. There can be “freedom thoughts” tailored to each individual and those help the most. The struggles of those who leave should be an indication of the mind control and turmoil that goes on inside the group. No other church that I have attended -EVER- has had the intense emotional baggage and wreckage with leaving, as when I decided to leave WOFF.

     Let’s go back to August 2005. During several years previous, I had worked for the property management company which is owned by a family in the church. The hours were long. (Read this post to learn about an event previous to 2005- http://tiny.cc/6ii3q ) August 12, 2005 was a Friday. That was a long day and I ended up working until mid-night in Gaffney, SC. The thought that day was- “That is it! I done. I am looking for other work.” After the events in 2003, I had pushed away the thought because of the junk I went through the first time I went looking for other work. Within weeks, I had secured a contract for other work and approached the owner about training someone else. I was leaving. Over the next few weeks, I trained someone else as my replacement.

     Continue reading What Thoughts Helped Me Leave WOFF?? Part 1

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