American Horror Story: ‘Ex-gay’ evangelical formed murderous cult, police say

The headline in The Kansas City Star seems innocent: “Secrets of Tyler Deaton’s prayer group emerge.”

But those “secrets” refer to allegations of prolonged cruelty, manipulation, assault, abuse and murder. Some may want to avoid reading more of this story, which reads like one of those horrifying texts of terror from Genesis or the book of Judges. It ends the same way those stories do, with an innocent woman tormented and left for dead.

The Star’s Joe Robertson and Donald Bradley report:

Tyler Deaton gathered his followers one more time to his wife’s Kansas City funeral.

It was Nov. 6, and they wept for Bethany Deaton, dead at 27. … While Deaton spoke in calm and assuring tones, at least one of his closest inner circle apparently was starting to come undone.

Three days later, investigators say, 23-year-old Micah Moore would go to police and uncork the terrible secrets that allegedly occurred over several months at a Grandview home where Deaton and other members of his religious group lived.

Witnesses told of a clan of young adults making sex part of their religious experience, of men in the group sexually assaulting Bethany over months, and of Deaton’s role as their “spiritual leader.”

But Moore’s darkest admission, according to court records, was that Deaton feared Bethany was about to reveal the group’s secrets.

Moore confessed that he had murdered Bethany and tried to make it look like suicide, and, according to court documents, he said Deaton told him to do it.

Robertson and Bradley paint a portrait of Tyler Deaton as a charismatic, dogmatic and driven young man. He gathered a core of followers while attending Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and led them to Kansas City, to study at the International House of Prayer (Wayne Besen provides some background on IHOP at Truth Wins out):

“He believed God could fix things,” a student said.

That included, Deaton told people, fixing himself.

One of his group’s stark positions on Scripture was that homosexuality was wrong. Deaton’s stance against it weighed heavily because members said he had “struggled with being gay.”

“He struggled with it, but he overcame it,” a member of his group at Southwestern said. “It was a victory.”

Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin notes that this idea of “victory” or “deliverance” from being gay is part of IHOP’s religious teaching. And here’s IHOP leader Mike Bickle sharing his view that homosexuality “opens the door to the demonic” and to “flaming missiles of the Evil One.”

I suppose Bickle and the folks at IHOP would say that is what happened to Tyler Deaton, and thus, as a result of his “opening the door to the demonic”:

Bethany was sexually assaulted over a period of months while drugged with someone else’s prescription anti-psychotic, witnesses in the house told authorities. This was happening, the witnesses alleged, in a period of time that male members in the house were involved in sexual relationships with Deaton, one saying it was part of a “religious experience.”

An alternative possibility is that Deaton was stressed past his breaking point by a delusional “therapy” that promised miracles it could never deliver.

Take someone under that sort of strain, then teach him to embrace the duplicity and dishonesty of such delusions, and then train him to view the world as a Manichaean struggle between good and evil. That’s a powerful recipe, but not for anything good.

A friend of many of the people who went to Kansas City is haunted now, remembering the close friendship and like-mindedness she saw in Moore and Bethany.

“They were both introspective, quiet-mystical people,” she said.

She watched them go from Southwestern, the same as so many others year after year, to join the evangelical adventure.

“It’s like they believed they were going into a storybook,” she said. “They were going to be equipped for the end times. For them it was heroic.”

Here’s the local KCTV 5 news report (via Joe Jervis). And here’s IHOP’s “Statement Regarding Tyler Deaton.”

  • Jim Roberts

    How utterly horrifying.

  • pharoute

    I suppose Bickle and the folks at IHOP would say that is what happened to Tyler Deaton, and thus, as a result of his “opening the door to the demonic”

    I’m sure that’s what they’ll say. Conversion “therapy” can never fail, it can only be failed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/graeme.sutton1 Graeme Sutton

    I suspect that the treatment this guy underwent for being gay is just a symptom of the problem- i.e. that the kind of family and/or community that would force that on a man is capable of all sorts of other crazy stuff that also tends to turn up on a serial killer’s psych profile.

  • GDwarf

    I could see one person breaking under a life of anti-gay therapy, but what excuse do the others give?

    I just…I want to know why things like this happen. So that we can make sure that they don’t happen again.

  • Jules B

    Thank you to everyone on this blog who urged me to leave this group when I posted about it in the comments to one of Fred’s posts back in March. In retrospect, you were all right. I’m glad to have left when I did.

  • Ben English

    What’s most frightening to me is that these horrific cults are able to function and thrive practically out in the open. The mass hysteria over mythic satanic ritual abuse was effective because the details always put it in the shadows, always made it dark and sinister with clear gateways (like Dungeons and Dragons or heavy metal music…)

    Okay, dumb as that is, the fiction was built to be convincing in that context. In the 1980s you couldn’t just go look it up on Snopes. But here, these cults operate practically out in the open, with the cooperation of civil authority, and yet no alarm bells are set off.

    A cult in the name of Satan doesn’t scare me. People who seem to think those things are scary insist we take the Bible literally, but they seem to gloss over the part where Satan lost at the cross. Satanic Baby Killers? That’s the stuff of  scary stories for emo teens.

    But cults that operate in the name of God? Those are fucking terrifying….

    Except…. where’s the terror? Kansas City didn’t seem to be to terrified or even concerned until it was too late for Bethany Deaton. How many more people have to die before we realize that cults don’t get any less vicious just because they’re nominally on the side of angels.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stanley-James/503792594 Stanley James

     I know two ex gays.

    One of them told me that gays support the nutcases of the westboro baptist church, whose fred Phelps gang hates virtually everyone.  These are the nuts who celebrated happily at the funeral of Matthew Shepard in WY in 1998 after he was beaten and left to die by a mormon eagle scout – Russell Henderson and a catholic named McKinney.

    He also told me that “matthews parents should have fixed him.  This freak fixed gay who blamed the prents for matthew’s death.

    the other fixed gay – a woman said the same thing re Matthews parents

    All the fixed gay biz does is drive them further and furhter into a closet of denial and get them to say the most heinous things to ‘try and save their soul – eg hteir churches actually use them for more hate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stanley-James/503792594 Stanley James

     at the NGLTF meeting in baltimore just about 1 year ago two ex gay victims of this fraud therapy -

    they told us that of 12 total  kids in their two “classes”  5, no kidding, 5 of them committed suicide in less then a year.  time to bring back the death penalty for the creeps behind this therapy

    BTW George rekers, head of NARTh which claims to fix gays -

    he coudnt even fix himself.  But he made enough money in the fraud biz to pay for a multiple week trip to Europe, and hire Lucian (code name) from rentboy.com

    if you check rentboy.com website – no porn as long as you dont log in,  the cost of a male escort is about $1000 a day.

    Rekers, not surpisingly, using  REACTION FORMATION, founded the hate group FRC.

    http://www.ranker.com/list/top-10-anti-gay-activists-caught-being-gay/joanne

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaction_formation

  • Lori

    I just…I want to know why things like this happen. So that we can make sure that they don’t happen again.  

    There
    has been quite a lot of research and writing done about how and why
    people become enmeshed in cults. Not to be discouraging, but the the
    short version is that there’s really no way to entirely prevent them.
    There certainly isn’t any way to prevent them that doesn’t involve a
    cure that’s worse than the disease.

    People have needs for connection and to be part of something larger than themselves and
    sometimes someone who is very, very broken, or evil if you prefer,
    manipulates those needs. There’s more that we could do to make people
    aware of the warning signs of an unhealthy group*. There’s definitely
    more we could do to make sure that there are fewer people who are
    vulnerable to the kinds of manipulation used by cults. Still, people
    have needs and sometimes someone really bad is going to use those needs
    against them.

    *For example, if you’re part of a religious group
    and someone in a leadership position tells you that you should have sex
    with him/her because it’s god’s will, run. I say this in all
    seriousness, because it doesn’t end well. It usually doesn’t end in
    murder, but there’s a lot of bad territory between “healthy” and
    “murder” and you don’t want to be there.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    John Waters, the direction of Pink Flamingoes and Hairspray, once said that cults always fascinated him because they scared him.  He said they’re basically groups of people who develop a collective form of insanity that’s greater than the sum of its parts, where dysfunctional people build their own dysfunctional family and become even more dysfunctional…..

  • Mary Kaye

    One practical, if difficult, thing we can do as writers is to fight the conflation of “this group has a theology I don’t agree with” and “this group uses abusive psychological control practices.”   Those are two absolutely different things, and when people equivocate between them it can create a dangerous impression that the only thing you see wrong with a psychologically abusive group is its *theology*.  And then, of course, someone who doesn’t have a problem with the theology receives no useful warnings.

    We can publicize instruments like Bonewits’ cult danger awareness scale.  We can apply them to our own groups and teach them to those around us.  Bonewits’ scale has NO theology in it–it’s purely about how much control the leadership is trying to take over the participants’ lives.

    We can also–practical but difficult–fight for good support services for people in crisis.  My state’s Crisis Hotline and the related support services has been extremely valuable in helping me deal with my son’s mental illness.  Cults prosper when people are in distress and have nowhere else to turn.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Wayne Besen’s bit about IHOP in the linked article is frightening:

    There was a gigantic 24/7 prayer room filled mostly with teenagers, many
    of whom appeared to be of high school or college age. A band played
    hypnotic Christian music while the audience of 100 or so youth engaged
    in a diverse set of worship rituals. Some were seated, as if they were
    in a traditional church setting. Others danced and skipped, like they
    were in some sort of fundie rave. One youth twirled a purple fan, as if
    he were at a gay circuit party. About a quarter of the participants
    walked in a trance-like state through the aisles muttering to themselves
    — a practice that I had not seen before. Some of these youths walked
    non-stop for over an hour, with no signs of stopping to rest.

    I remember the first time I ever heard of IHOP.  It was late 2008 and I’d just gotten back from a trip to Kansas City to see a friend who lived in Dallas and a concert (Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, because the closest thing I get to cult membership is worshiping minor deities of rock) for the weekend.  It made sense, since KC is exactly the same distance from Dallas and Chicago and kinda-sorta in between.

    Anyway, I was back and I was in a coffee shop in Wheaton.  I ended up striking up a conversation with a comely young lass who was pretty obviously a Wheaton College student.  I mentioned that I’d just been to Kansas City and she said, “Oh, I totally want to go there.”  I asked why and she said, “I want to go to IHOP.”  When I stared at her blankly she said, “The International House of Prayer,” and gave me a quick description of the place.

    This pretty much set off a, “Say something facetious about the International House of Pancakes, then back away slowly,” message in my brain.  I was still not that far removed from my own extrication from Evangelicalness and the idea of driving several hundred miles just to go to a play with all-night prayer services creeped me the hell out.

    On some level at the time I didn’t think I had much of a leg to stand on.  I’ve driven hundreds of miles over the years to see rock shows, after all.  The difference there is that if I want to see a band live there’s only one place they’re going to be on any given night.  And usually I use it as an excuse to go somewhere new and hang around for a bit.  Really, it’s a brilliant strategy for weekend trips and whatnot: you go somewhere, you know you’ve got three to six hours blocked out on a schedule, and if you’re there for two days you just go see what there is to see.  I know people who just follow bands around to follow bands around and, quite frankly, I find that more than a bit odd and obsessive, but those people are usually just harmless eccentrics who were looking for something to hold on to and found music.  The bands I know of are more than happy to take their love and money, but the bands also then will maybe hang out, have a drink, shoot the crap, and then go on their way.  Sure, they could start a cult but I don’t usually see a big impetus or desire to do so.

    The whole “I want to go somewhere just to pray,” thing, though, is freaky.  I think what it gets down to is that on a general level god is supposed to be everywhere and hear every prayer.  So you don’t need to go a thousand miles to pray.  Part of it too, though, is that I was fully becoming aware of the social control imparted by fundamentalist organizations and just how dangerous all of that can be.  So to see that sort of devotion and desire to go do something that you can really do anywhere at any time set off all kinds of red flags.  It boils down to the realization that religious leaders see social control as an end.  Most of the evangelical/fundamentalist pastors I knew were controlling on some level and most of the people I went to church with were perfectly happy to ask what the pastor thought before they did anything.  That’s a dangerous combination in and of itself.  But if you have the sort of organization where young, impressionable  people want to travel a few hundred miles just to go to your prayer service…the temptation to misuse that sort of power must be overwhelming even for people who started with the best of intentions.

    That said, one thing about Wayne Besen’s article that bugs me is that he refers to Deaton et. al as “a youth sect.”  These were college grads in their twenties.  That’s not “youth.”  These are (theoretically) responsible adults.  They really should have known better and to call them “youth” is to basically say, “Eh, kids, what’re you gonna do?” on some level.

  • Persia

    I was just reading elsewhere on Patheos about two sex scandals in the American Buddhist community. Unfortunately, this groupthink can happen with just about any faith.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    One thing to realize, besides what Lori and Mary Kaye have said, is that the horrific activities grow over time. No one signs up on Monday and then on Tuesday is participating in orgies and rape and drinking cyanide-laced fruit drinks. It’s a “boil the frog slowly” sort of situation. 

    I studied a specific subset of cults, but one thing they all had in common is that while the cults indoctrinated the new member, one common element was to put them to work, preferably doing something repetitive, and slowly increase their workload.  Repetitive work that requires little thinking can create a sort of hypnotic state when done for a long enough time. Over time, the new member is devoting so many hours to the cult that they have little time for anything else. Add in physical exhaustion and emotional manipulation, and you’ve set the groundwork for brainwashing. Keep someone in that state for a long enough time, and you can brainwash pretty much anyone.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    This pretty much set off a, “Say something facetious about the International House of Pancakes, then back away slowly,” message in my brain.

    Heeeeeee. But yes, very much so.

    Jules B: I’m glad you’re safe.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Over time, the new member is devoting so many hours to the cult that
    they have little time for anything else. Add in physical exhaustion and
    emotional manipulation, and you’ve set the groundwork for brainwashing.
    Keep someone in that state for a long enough time, and you can brainwash
    pretty much anyone.

    Which is why this bit of Besen’s article is TERRIFYING:

    About a quarter of the participants walked in a trance-like state through the aisles muttering to themselves — a practice that I had not seen before. Some of these youths walked non-stop for over an hour, with no signs of stopping to rest.

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    one common element was to put them to work, preferably doing something repetitive, and slowly increase their workload.

    I think one of the dirty secrets of American colleges is that the indocrination process isn’t all that different from pledging a fraternity or sorority.  Obviously, most never get to the stage of cults, but it’s the same path.   I say this someone who participated in a co-ed fraternity and took a year and a half to realize I had been a bit brainwashed into thinking I enjoyed it.  Once I realized how much I hated it and how self-delusional it all was, I ran. 

  • MaryKaye

    Religions which have been practicing trance-state work for a while tend to have methods in place for (a) reducing the risk to participants and (b) fending off the danger that these techniques will be used for abusive mind control.  When the techniques are picked up without the safeguards, the results are disastrous.  Look at the people killed by James Ray’s New Age sweat lodge event a few years back.  Traditional sweat-log practice has safety rules.  Ray didn’t know or didn’t care and ended up killing three people and injuring many more.

    I’ve done the chanting-overload thing.  It was an interesting experience.  But I had a support structure of people to make sure that during the event I wasn’t preyed on or indoctrinated, and after the event I had some grounding, safe space to recover, a chance to reconnect with reality, and that I didn’t drive home in an altered state or otherwise hurt myself.  In a healthy community these tools can be used in a healthy way.  But they’re really sharp tools and if they’re in the hands of greedy, evil, or mentally disturbed leaders, watch out!

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    if you’re part of a religious group and someone in a leadership position tells you that you should have sex with him/her because it’s god’s will, run. I say this in all seriousness, because it doesn’t end well. 

    As others have said, it doesn’t happen that way. No cult (at least, no successful cult) has you show up for orientation at 6, get your robes at 7, and engage in the Baptismal of the Holy Meat Pipe at 7:30. It’s a gradual, corrosive process that works to isolate the person from their existing support structures and replace those structures with the altered environment of the cult.

    If your boss tells you you should have sex with him for the good of the company, you know that’s wrong, because every other job you’ve held didn’t require that. Even if you weren’t sure, you have friends, family members, and co-workers who would all tell you that no, that is neither normal nor acceptable behavior. 

    A cult works to isolate you from those safeguards. By the time the Grand Pooh-Bah asks you to participate in the Sacred Summoning Rite of the Two-Backed Beast, everyone else around you either has already done so, or they will tell you it’s a normal, reasonable thing for this unique environment you all share. The techniques used by cults are common tools for manipulators: love-bombing, grooming, gaslighting, isolation, physical fatigue, sleep-deprivation, etc. 

    It’s not entirely malicious; if you define a “profound religious experience” as involving an altered state of mind, then a lot of the ‘cult activities’ (monotonousness work, fasting, vigils) are proven, non-drug-using methods of creating a state of altered consciousness. 

    Cult leaders don’t always start with malicious intent; from the perspective of an outsider, it’s difficult to distinguish between self-confidence, religious devotion, and grandiosity. 

  • LL

    So … being gay is wrong, but rape is OK? And murder, too, I guess. 

    They’ll probably just blame it all on Satan. That’s one of the things that comes of blaming some  big bad evil for everything – nothing is ever your fault. 

    And as always when I read about cults or cult-like activities/scandals, I kinda wish I had no morals. Because OMG how easy it would be to start a cult and make tons of bank from it. I mean, what a racket. There is no shortage of people dumb and/or insecure enough to entice into a cult. Just takes an absence of integrity and a little knowledge of human nature. You don’t even have to be that smart yourself, just smarter than the people who join a cult. Which ain’t very smart at all.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Intelligence has nothing to do with it. Plenty of very intelligent people fall in with cults. The people who are most likely to fall in with a cult are often emotionally vulnerable. Someone who’s just lost a loved one. Someone who left a bad relationship. Someone with little or no friends. That happens even to smart people.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    The whole “I want to go somewhere just to pray,” thing, though, is
    freaky.  I think what it gets down to is that on a general level god is
    supposed to be everywhere and hear every prayer.  So you don’t need to
    go a thousand miles to pray.

    However, although God is everywhere and one big part of Protestant belief is that everybody is a priest, there are no laypeople, churches still exist for people to be together.

    It’s exactly what Mary Kaye said – it’s not that gathering together for prayer in itself is bad; it’s bad if used as method of brainwashing.

    The Taize community http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiz%C3%A9_Community is also a gathering of young people who pray and sing together, and it’s very uplifting.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    And as always when I read about cults or cult-like activities/scandals, I kinda wish I had no morals.

    It’s a categorical error to assume that cult activities involve people without morals (amoral), or to assume that they act in willful opposition to morality. (immoral) 

    Most cult leaders at least start out from a position of strongly held morals. You can question whether those morals become increasingly distorted, or if at some point they are abandoned, but at the beginning, there were morals.

    Because OMG how easy it would be to start a cult and make tons of bank from it. I mean, what a racket. 

    Saying “I am going to start a cult to make tons of money” is a lot like saying “I’m going to open a business and make tons of money”. If that’s the extent of your model, you’re going to have a bad time. This is why it’s important to remember that cult-leaders are operating from a strong internal sense of morality and belief; that’s what the cult is ultimately selling: the leader’s sense of belief, the outward appearance of confidence. 

    There is no shortage of people dumb and/or insecure enough to entice into a cult. Just takes an absence of integrity and a little knowledge of human nature. 

    You don’t have to be “dumb” to join a cult, or even “insecure”. Part of human nature is to respond to confidence with confidence; if someone seems genuinely certain of the truth of their actions, we as human beings tend to want to be certain as well. That’s not stupidity, either; if Bob is an expert, and Bob is confident he’s right, then I’m going to trust that Bob is right until something contradicts that. 

    You don’t even have to be that smart yourself, just smarter than the people who join a cult. Which ain’t very smart at all.

    Lots of smart people join cults. Lots and lots of them. (waves at the Scientologists) Cults don’t recruit with intellectual appeals; “smart” isn’t much defense against gaslighting or lovebombing. You don’t need to be insecure to be vulnerable, just a little unsatisfied with some part of your life. 

    Thinking “only dumb people join cults” is dangerous thinking, because it blinds you to risk and leads nicely to “my aunt/sister/cousin/mother isn’t stupid; she wouldn’t get mixed up in a cult” dismissals.  (Or the equally popular “This can’t be a cult; I’m too smart to be mixed up with a cult!”)

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Thinking “only dumb people join cults” is dangerous thinking, because it blinds you to risk and leads nicely to “my aunt/sister/cousin/mother isn’t stupid; she wouldn’t get mixed up in a cult” dismissals. (Or the equally popular “This can’t be a cult; I’m too smart to be mixed up with a cult!”)

    This can’t be quoted enough. 

  • Darkrose

    “…And the voice said, ‘Daddy, there’s a million pigeons
    Waiting to be hooked on new religions
    Hit the road, Daddy, leave your common-law wife
    Spread the religion of the rhythm of life!’”

    Mind you, when I learned that song in children’s choir, it was “Brother, there’s a million reasons/Why you should be glad in all four seasons/Hit the road, brother, leave your worries and strife…” I kind of prefer the original version.

  • Mary Kaye

    The accounts of L. Ron Hubbard I’ve read (two or three, I guess) seem to agree that he wasn’t a true believer, and that it’s pretty unclear he ever thought he was helping anyone but himself and maybe his inner circle.  But he does seem to have been the exception rather than the rule.  And maybe he did come to believe in his results after a while–I can easily see how that would happen.

    I think if Jim Jones had been a cynical conman preying on his flock, he wouldn’t have killed himself along with them.  I see him as more in the “Wait!  Ohio *has to* turn red!” category–he thought he was in control, and when he found he wasn’t, he couldn’t cope.

    (I read a lot about cults as a teen–I was a teen when Jonestown happened and it made a huge impression on me.)

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    He could’ve also done it because he knew he was done for after his people killed Congressman Ryan and the others on the airstrip. 

  • GDwarf

    I realize that we can’t stop cults, that the cure is indeed worse than the condition, but it’s just…bah.

    And yeah, I know in general how these things work, but it’s still just…argh. How terrible it must be to be slowly ground down by such a thing, until the atrocities seem normal.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2VVHGFY6INZQ5SX4HLNUF4NSIE Stanley J

     REligionf rom its earliest days has made lots of people crazy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2VVHGFY6INZQ5SX4HLNUF4NSIE Stanley J

     tiem to shut down these ex gay cult groups  its going to be a long battle but they know as much about fixing gays psychologically as I know about doing heart surgery.

    CAL has done it, other states are looking at it

    EX gay is not only a farce but its just another way of blaming gay people for being gay.

    George Rekers of Narth – who claimed he could fix gays couldnt even fix himself.  He also founded the hate group FRC, whose pres is tony perkins , also a racist.

    http://www.ranker.com/list/top-10-anti-gay-activists-caught-being-gay/joanne

     

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/picture-worth-thousand-memories

  • Jules B

    “I think if Jim Jones had been a cynical conman preying on his flock, he wouldn’t have killed himself along with them.”

    According to journalist Tim Reiterman, who was in Jonestown on the day of the shooting, there’s some serious speculation that Jones planned to escape Jonestown, but was killed by one of his own guards.

  • Lori

      As others have said, it doesn’t happen that way. No cult (at least, no
    successful cult) has you show up for orientation at 6, get your robes at
    7, and engage in the Baptismal of the Holy Meat Pipe at 7:30.  

    I didn’t say or suggest that they did. I am well aware of how cults work.

    My point is that, as with a lot of things, it helps to have a line in the sand going in. The leader telling you that god wants you to have sex with him/her is a good one because nothing good ever comes from that. A lot of the other kinds of things that happen in cults can look a lot like things that happen in perfectly healthy groups. “God wants you to have sex with me” (regardless of whether you actually want to have sex with me and regardless of your current relationship status) is one of the things that really doesn’t have a perfectly healthy counterpart. As such it’s a red flag moment.

    The same can be said of other things that happen in cults. I specifically mentioned the sex because it’s quite common in groups that are or are becoming truly dangerous.

    Yes, indoctrination can make it difficult to realize/remember this, but as is the case when dealing with many emergency situations thinking it through a bit in advance so that you have less mental work to do in the moment can save your life.

     Cult leaders don’t always start with malicious intent 

    No, but by the time they start manipulating people into having sex with them because god said so it no longer really matters how they started out.

  • http://twitter.com/ElijahsFury Elijahs Fury

    Why do prayer groups even exist? The bible says to do it in private. Its supposed to be just you and God. 

  • Lliira

     One thing we can do is teach both men and women that women are not objects to be used and abused sexually and then thrown away. That women are human beings, not things. Right now, we teach everyone that women exist to be sex objects. We might be allowed to do other things, but if we do not fulfill that function, we are deemed completely without value. And men are nearly never objectified sexually. So being sexually abused and then tossed aside is what we are taught women are for.

    Let’s not pretend that the victim in these sorts of things is just as likely to be male, and let’s stop skipping lightly over the fact that nearly every time with this sort of thing, it’s women and children who end up enslaved and murdered. Until we confront that fact, we will never, ever get anywhere.

  • Hica Cotx

    If you don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, we don’t expect you to understand. 

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     It’s exactly what Mary Kaye said – it’s not that gathering together for
    prayer in itself is bad; it’s bad if used as method of brainwashing.

    Oh, yeah, I’m not bagging on gathering together to pray as a thing in general.  that’s why I kept circling around and around the issue.  It’s the whole thing about wanting to leave the place where you know people and they’ll be (theoretically) watching out for you and going somewhere really far away just to pray that’s disturbing.  That’s basically the first step in cult initiation.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     If you don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, we don’t expect you to understand.

    Who is “we,” exactly?  is that the royal we, are you speaking for god, or are you assuming that you’re speaking for all Christians in general or the IHOP folks in specific?

    And, although I’m assuming that you’re just a drive-by troll going for boilerplate apologetics, believe me when I tell you this: I know exactly what that kind of “relationship with the Holy Spirit” is like.  I know it because it once got me worked up into such a holy lather that I spent five months breaking my brain because I’d been taught to listen to the Holy Spirit and trust it over reality itself.

    So don’t you dare presume to tell me what I do and do not know about.  Don’t you dare presume to tell me that because I disagree with your stance on something that must mean I do not understand what’s going on.  I disagree with and am terrified by IHOP and its ilk precisely because I understand all too well what happens when a young and impressionable and lonely person starts to think that they have such a special relationship with god that the Holy Spirit speaks directly to them.  It’s been nearly a decade since that happened and no long-term damage was done but I still don’t like to think or talk about that time.

    So, in short: fuck off.  You don’t know me and it’s the height of arrogance to pretend you do just so you can be superior and dismissive.

  • Daughter

     There are plenty of other ways that cults can hurt people, long before they get to the “have sex with the leader” stage. And some cults have abusive practices that don’t involve sex at all. A lot of unhealthy cult practices are a lot more subtle.

  • 1Catolives1

    Science does not back up the claims in California that there is no therapy for homosexuality. 
    In an interview with NARTH on the same day, Cummings
    recalls his own work with homosexuals who wanted to leave the gay
    lifestyle during his tenure at Kaiser Permanente.

    “It’s a difficult therapy, and it’s not huge in terms of numbers, but
    yes we have seen success, and this is why the stance that ‘you can
    never change’—Ronald Reagan said ‘never say never’—it’s absurd. All you
    have to do is find one exception and it knocks down the ‘never.’ But
    yes, I’ve experienced more than one exception,” said Cummings.

    “Admittedly we had failures. The recidivism along the way with some
    would be intense, but we experience the same thing with treating
    substance abuse and alcoholism. Falling off the wagon is part of the
    treatment.”

    Cummings’s position as a past president of the APA

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    It’s a difficult therapy, and it’s not huge in terms of numbers, but
    yes we have seen success, and this is why the stance that ‘you can
    never change’—Ronald Reagan said ‘never say never’—it’s absurd.

    Yeah, nothing like tossing in a common platitude and attributing it to Ronald Reagan to signal to everyone, “I’m being scientifically rigorous.”  I believe that Nature and Scientific American actually judge their articles based entirely on the preponderance of Ronald Reagan quotations…

  • Lori

    I’m apparently not explaining this well at all.

    Yes, I know that there are other ways that cults hurt people. I thought I had mentioned that. There are many things that people should know about cults and how to identify unhealthy groups. I didn’t say, and didn’t mean, that as long as the leader isn’t trying
    to get in your pants because god says so then the group is A-OK. What I
    said was that if the leader is trying to manipulate your beliefs to get
    sex the group is definitely not OK and you need to get out.

    My point is strictly that the sex thing is a major red flag. Not the only red flag. Not the only thing people need to watch for. Not the only sign of a problem. A major red flag. Other things that cults do can seem “gray area” and hard to differentiate from normal religious group behavior. Other signs of an unhealthy group can seem ambiguous or hard to read for a person immersed in the experience, but the sex thing is pretty black & white.

    Not to open a whole other can of worms, but there are a lot of aspects to unhealthy personal relationships. Ideally people would be able to see them and get out long before it ever turns physical. It’s still serves a purpose to help people understand that if their partner ever raises a hand to them it’s time to go.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    There exist medical interventions that in some cases allow people born male to live happy lives as women. They are still relatively primitive, and will no doubt improve with time, but they’re good enough to work in some cases. I know a few. Of course, it doesn’t follow that males ought to seek such interventions. Living their lives as men, instead, is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

    There may also exist medical interventions that in some cases allow people born homosexual to live happy lives as heterosexuals. I don’t know any, but they might exist.

    It similarly doesn’t follow that homosexuals ought to seek such interventions.

  • Lunch Meat

    Substance abuse and alcoholism are different from sexual orientation. For one thing, if people are happier, healthier and more functional the way they are than with relentless attempts to change them, then it’s not therapy–it’s brainwashing.

    Also, one person’s anecdotal experience claiming “more than one” success is not a scientific study proving that it works.

  • Madhabmatics

     Man, I love pilgrimages and the idea of pilgrimages, but a person has to know they are aiming for the low fruit when they are saying “Let’s make a pilgrimage to a place who’s name is a parody of a restaurant chain.”

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     Man, I love pilgrimages and the idea of pilgrimages, but a person has to
    know they are aiming for the low fruit when they are saying “Let’s make
    a pilgrimage to a place who’s name is a parody of a restaurant chain.”

    Y’know, now that you mention it, I do make occasionally pilgrimages up to Madison, Wisconsin for a rock show and tacos at the closest Fuzzy’s Taco Shop to Chicago.  And Fuzzy’s, it occurred to me after about a year is most likely a restaurant named as a parody of a slang term for female genitalia.

    So the lesson, as always, is what do I know?

  • Vdejesus1985

    I may be totally out of line but who is the Police officer  escorting Moore. He is very attractive.

  • Imightbewyatt

    ‘An alternative possibility is that Deaton was stressed past his breaking point by a delusional “therapy” that promised miracles it could never deliver.’

    I wish I could read that and agree with it, but I find it difficult to feel such compassion for someone in that situation – but it might be that it hits pretty close to home. As a teenager in a Southern Baptist church, I “knew” that homosexuality was a sin and a choice. We were told that anyone who identified themselves as a “practicing” gay or lesbian person would be forbidden from attending, and “help” was available for anyone inflicted with these tendencies.

    I remember dating a girl for a couple of years, thinking that either I would grow out of my attraction for men, or that Jesus would lift this burden, as was promised to any faithful followers. My prayers often turned to mantras of “please make me straight please make me straight”, but to no avail.

    The reason I finally admitted this to myself, that I was attracted to men, was not so I could go forth and sin. I didn’t even realize it made me “gay” – as I had learned about homosexuality only through the church and the book “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…”. (I remember thinking “I’m not gay, I just want to one day find a man and live together as a couple, the way heterosexual couples do…”)

    Instead, it happened because I realized that my girlfriend felt something about me that I was completely unable to understand or reciprocate. In essence, by being her boyfriend, I was lying to her in one of the most hurtful way. I remember breaking up with her – I intentionally broke her heart, and at the time I was unable to really express why I didn’t want to be together anymore. I was seventeen at the time.

    So when I hear about other men who marry as a means to “straighten” themselves out, I feel a lot of anger. How can someone continue to rob their spouse of the intimacy that we all crave?

  • 1Catolives1

     There are more than one. You act as if you do not want there to be an effective therapy.

  • 1Catolives1

     Yes but it does not follow that there should not be an attempt to find a cure,treatment or therapy,process or method. Choose you own word.

  • 1Catolives1

     Hey Ronald Reagan was president of the United States. I suspect if the quote was attributed to Obama you would be less critical. As an example who gives a hoot what Obama thinks about gay marriage. I consider Obama to be my intellectual inferior. Regardless you could care less what I say as well. Remember the quote was from a president of the American Psychological Association.
    I think it more likely you simply pick and choose to please your own bias.


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