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the sexual culture/abuse in the way and me...


annio
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Don't really know where else to put this story... Move if needed.

Well, taking a deep breath, and sharing here a brief history of the sexual abuse I experienced in what I had thought was FINALLY a place I could be cared about and where I could escape the "mental hospital" and recover from the breakdown I was experiencing in Jan '74.  At the time was a Baptist folk-song-loving hippie, abusively married, VISTA-volunteering-in-very-racist-very-rural-southern-VA as a college graduate from New England. Starting in the Family Camp where I took PFAL as a brand new believer in NY that summer, a series of sexual encounters gradually began; I had been raped twice, as a 12 year old and on my honey moon night, but had kind of buried the memories, so was particularly vulnerable. At the CF&S Family Camp in OH three weeks later, my boundaries were further broken by the class, altho I was healed of some of the bondage and trauma surrounding sex. However, the pendulum was set to swing into the license-to-sin culture of the way that has been brought to light here and other places.

Guess my path was pretty predictable- it involved being sexually abused by two young leaders and then engaging in sex with believer bros, then two guys I was "witnessing" to, etc. There were other incidents that were not (what's a cool way to say full-on intercourse?) Was invited on the motor coach corpse week '80; vpw dropped his pants, but I was again in mental distress after my interim year, and he ended up talking about my next year's assignment as we cuddled, thank You GOD! So from the Advanced Class '79 (July?) to the summer of my final WOW year in '83, I had 10 full sexual encounters/ relationships along with other activity that the culture sanctioned.  (Was too "out of it" to protect with safe sex precautions, but my female system had shut down either due to the running, all the birth control pills in traveling hippie times, or the traumas, so there you had that...) When I finally kind of realized that I was becoming an abuser, I said Enough! These are my brothers and I am their sister, and this is wrong.

I mentioned in another post how I learned that sexual abuse was A-OK with vpw et al; and of course along with it came the message that women were less than, that it was fine for men to help themselves to the young women, etc. 1 CORINTHIANS 7:1 WAS TAUGHT IN CF&S, YET. . . . . What's new??  A counselor labeled the way as misogynistic... Guess so?!  

Could of course, talk about how the way contributed to very good things in my life like meeting my future h, having my children with him, making wonderful friends, receiving some deliverance, etc. BUT! I am in full-time trauma recovery from many things, among them the cult aspects of the way and the sexual abuse. 

All for now I think...  Blessings to all!

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1 hour ago, annio said:

Don't really know where else to put this story... Move if needed.

Well, taking a deep breath, and sharing here a brief history of the sexual abuse I experienced in what I had thought was FINALLY a place I could be cared about and where I could escape the "mental hospital" and recover from the breakdown I was experiencing in Jan '74.  At the time was a Baptist folk-song-loving hippie, abusively married, VISTA-volunteering-in-very-racist-very-rural-southern-VA as a college graduate from New England. Starting in the Family Camp where I took PFAL as a brand new believer in NY that summer, a series of sexual encounters gradually began; I had been raped twice, as a 12 year old and on my honey moon night, but had kind of buried the memories, so was particularly vulnerable. At the CF&S Family Camp in OH three weeks later, my boundaries were further broken by the class, altho I was healed of some of the bondage and trauma surrounding sex. However, the pendulum was set to swing into the license-to-sin culture of the way that has been brought to light here and other places.

Guess my path was pretty predictable- it involved being sexually abused by two young leaders and then engaging in sex with believer bros, then two guys I was "witnessing" to, etc. There were other incidents that were not (what's a cool way to say full-on intercourse?) Was invited on the motor coach corpse week '80; vpw dropped his pants, but I was again in mental distress after my interim year, and he ended up talking about my next year's assignment as we cuddled, thank You GOD! So from the Advanced Class '79 (July?) to the summer of my final WOW year in '83, I had 10 full sexual encounters/ relationships along with other activity that the culture sanctioned.  (Was too "out of it" to protect with safe sex precautions, but my female system had shut down either due to the running, all the birth control pills in traveling hippie times, or the traumas, so there you had that...) When I finally kind of realized that I was becoming an abuser, I said Enough! These are my brothers and I am their sister, and this is wrong.

I mentioned in another post how I learned that sexual abuse was A-OK with vpw et al; and of course along with it came the message that women were less than, that it was fine for men to help themselves to the young women, etc. 1 CORINTHIANS 7:1 WAS TAUGHT IN CF&S, YET. . . . . What's new??  A counselor labeled the way as misogynistic... Guess so?!  

Could of course, talk about how the way contributed to very good things in my life like meeting my future h, having my children with him, making wonderful friends, receiving some deliverance, etc. BUT! I am in full-time trauma recovery from many things, among them the cult aspects of the way and the sexual abuse. 

All for now I think...  Blessings to all!

Hoping for a good outcome for you. :cryhug_1_:

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Thanks for your personal courage in sharing those morally depraved and physically degrading  incidents you experienced first hand. I BELIEVE YOU!

The after effects linger, now some 40+ years! Imagine what damage is being done by the current wierwillean cults like Frontczak and the remnants of Victor Barnard’s River Road Fellowship, “Rev” Charlie “Mr. Bless Patrol” Quillen, frontczak’s former boss, in IL, “Rev” Chris Geer and Word Promotions, now down in NC somewhere, and “Rev” Super —classified-double-secret-probation Kung fu agent, Doug MacMullan, at his family farm in MS, where V2P2 and poppa JP carry on the dictor paul legends and good ole daze.

YOUR COURAGE and honesty will help future victims Annio, as well as prevent future victims as women all around the world agree, “TIME’S UP!”. There is no statute of limitations on truth! Thank you again for your bravery and honesty, Annio!....................peace.

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Appreciate the support much all, and thanks much DWBH for naming names, holding ppl accountable, and helping me a great deal to keep processing and rebuilding.  It is invaluable beyond words to keep reading truth here at gsc about vpw's (et al's) record and modus operandi (in contrast to what healthy truly Biblical pastoring and leading are.) I pretty much simply ID myself as a Jesus-follower these days and fellowship with some local folks as well as attend CFF conferences and keep in touch with the Taurs in England, Sangat Bains et als ministering, and others who honor God and walk in love and power as best they can.

If of interest- I found out that the ex-limb coordinator who really did the damage that led to further destruction (including things that deeply affected my marriage and children), was praised to the skies for helping Jo&n Sch'heit and company in '17 or '18 mediate a leadership crisis... Rather anxiety-causing to see his name in print in the STF newsletter... He appears from Facebook to be leading the Good Life in CT these days... Not sure I am ready to do anything more than write here, but DAMN!  Maybe I could atleast write John w/whom I have had some contact... I saw the dude's name as a participant in John's online weekly meetings very recently... We'll see.

Onward!!:beer:

 

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Annio, it's brave of you to write what you have.  TWI didn't start it, but they surely perfected the sexual abuse - and all the baggage that goes with it.  Including the brave admission that it was turning you into an abuser, too.  Do what you need to do, to get rid of that baggage.  It's okay to be angry.  Or sad.  Or whatever it takes.  We understand.

I'm going to PM you.

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  • 2 months later...

I decided that what good things the Way contributed to in my life had to be re-evaluated. When I was sexually assaulted in the name of the "love of God" all things, good and bad, had to be reviewed because the good, whatever there might have been, was used to hurt. Intent doesn't matter. Like one thing I participated in, using believing to degrade and belittle others, the most obvious example being chastising people for not believing...and therefore not being faithful to God...because they had incurred some illness, in many cases things as minor as mild sniffles. Anyway, I know I am far from alone in having to associate big hurts with what was presumably God's Love being taught, and ex-Way people are not alone: I have come across some in my male survivor support group who have somewhat the same problem, being sexually abused in church, often as children. Therefore, I am re-learning God with the help of my sexual assault counselor and faith based support. Of course this wipes out the ,myth of the Way being the only place God could be really taught.

I think I have covered this before on posts elsewhere, but briefly, the teachnig by VPW that leaders (such as corps men) were entitled to have their sexual needs fulfilled (for the good of the ministry) was the reason why I was sexually assaulted by two women. Easy to understand, especially after reading Charlene Edge's account (in "Undertow") of how she discovered that even VPW had women around who went along with his sexual "doctrine".  Maybe a little irony in how I am now learning abut our Real God,  and considering forgiveness, even as I have recieved recent indications that my main assaulter still doesn't think she could have hurt me. Men, in the Way and in the world, are often perceived as sex starved animals who cannot be hurt by sex and so my "loosening up" (I overheard clearly that term being used specifically about me i the event) and it still was just "playing around" to her. I think I can extend forgiveness because I have learned from my counselor and others what it is, and more importantly what it is NOT.  I just wonder if it can be accepted. But I understand also it is for ME, not them.

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  • 3 months later...

I don't know a lot about the Way International as far as inner workings.  I know what I've read and what I experienced as a child.  I've lived with what happened since the early 80's.  It happened between the ages of 7-10.  I came here several years ago to tell my story and was immediately called a liar.  Some did support me, but the experience traumatized me and I left the forums.  I'm back because I can't believe more information does not exist.  I know that at least one incident happened at Camp Gunnison, in one of the rooms with bunk beds.  When I found the group on Facebook, I recognized one of the rooms and was especially triggered by a room with bunk beds.  I remembered that room, and I remembered a hallway with a yellow light.  I remember much more, of course, but I will not go into details.  Suffice it to say that I believe I was sexually abused while there.  I've been in counseling on and off for over twenty years.  I started having flashbacks long before I ever got into counseling.  The things that I remember are horrific, but I know there's much more below the surface.  I'm not saying everything that happened to me happened there.  In fact, I'm pretty sure quite a lot happened off site.  My father was also a pedophile.  Everything that happened could very well have happened independent of the group, after all, pedophiles are always looking for places that they can get access to children.  I wouldn't have even written this if Lifted Up had not mentioned sexual abuse as children.  It's been frustrating to not find other stories like mine, because I know they are out there.  Other than the guy who kept "maidens" for himself rather recently (and this came out a few years after my first attempt to reach out here), I haven't seen anything, even though a research book contains a passage about the Way and allegations of child sexual abuse.  So I'm rather at a loss.  But thank you, Lifted Up, for speaking out.  God bless.

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  • 11 months later...

Unruhka, I dont get into these forums much, as I did years ago. I still can't believe you made this post almost a year ago before I noticed it. I know about flashbacks. Not just my own but from several survivor friends. My best survivor friend, the one who helped me break my silence in 2017 (about my 1979 assault). was raped repeatedly by her older brother, also decades ago. In the long process of her recovery, she eventually co-founded a national child abuse fighting organization, and knows a lot. She knew, for exakmple, that despite my assault taking place at age 29, the effects of this cult, even though she has no cult background, were as if it had been child abuse, and she correctly recommended a book accordingly. She also has great knowledge about special problems faced by male survivors. And there are LOTS of people in the group she helped start also fighting child abuse. Then in addition to her personal kelp, she also gives me lots of the most critical medicine...laughs and smiles, for she is also my favorite entertainer. IShe can give me that gift in the present...I just watched her entertain a couple hours ago...or  from the past, in a role she is very well known for that she had...well, bck in the 70s when she ws being abuse. And I have some other wonderful survivor friends who suffered their hurts as children.Geez, it has been almost a year since you made this post. I hope you are doing well.

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On 7/28/2019 at 6:35 PM, annio said:

(snip)

I mentioned in another post how I learned that sexual abuse was A-OK with vpw et al; and of course along with it came the message that women were less than, that it was fine for men to help themselves to the young women, etc. 1 CORINTHIANS 7:1 WAS TAUGHT IN CF&S, YET. . . . . What's new??  A counselor labeled the way as misogynistic... Guess so?!   (snip) 

 

Just thought I'd share this, for those who haven't read it before.

1 Corinthians 7 King James Version (KJV)

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

=====================

In CFS, vpw said that "touch" in that verse meant, literally, to "help himself."      So, documented in CFS, he made it sound like twi was against hanky-panky.

When vpw went to Haight-Ashbury to hijack the hippies, he spent some time with some of them, including J1m D00p.  J1m said he was surprised how much vpw grilled him about specifics about ORGIES.  He did this for a while, and J1m was uncomfortable- and said he was thankful he was delivered from all that.  vpw told him "ALL THAT IS AVAILABLE," meaning that God Almighty was fine with ORGIES.  His rationale?  As he told J1m D00p, "if God had meant it meant man was supposed to keep his hands off,  "It would have said 'best' and not 'good.' "      At the time, J1m thought he must have misunderstood vpw somehow, because it sounded like vpw had said that he believed God Almighty was fine with ORGIES.     So, off the record, vpw said things like orgies were OK with God Almighty, and on the record, vpw said things like orgies were NOT fine with God Almighty.

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4 hours ago, WordWolf said:

In CFS, vpw said that "touch" in that verse meant, literally, to "help himself."      So, documented in CFS, he made it sound like twi was against hanky-panky.

VPW said it.  That settles it.  I don't believe it.

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14 hours ago, WordWolf said:

Just thought I'd share this, for those who haven't read it before.

1 Corinthians 7 King James Version (KJV)...

...As he told J1m D00p, "if God had meant it meant man was supposed to keep his hands off,  "It would have said 'best' and not 'good.' "      At the time, J1m thought he must have misunderstood vpw somehow, because it sounded like vpw had said that he believed God Almighty was fine with ORGIES.     So, off the record, vpw said things like orgies were OK with God Almighty, and on the record, vpw said things like orgies were NOT fine with God Almighty.

 

Thank you and WOW! And Damn and #$%@& and WT#$%@!!!

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On 7/28/2019 at 4:35 PM, annio said:

Don't really know where else to put this story... Move if needed.

Well, taking a deep breath, and sharing here a brief history of the sexual abuse I experienced in what I had thought was FINALLY a place I could be cared about and where I could escape the "mental hospital" and recover from the breakdown I was experiencing in Jan '74.  At the time was a Baptist folk-song-loving hippie, abusively married, VISTA-volunteering-in-very-racist-very-rural-southern-VA as a college graduate from New England. Starting in the Family Camp where I took PFAL as a brand new believer in NY that summer, a series of sexual encounters gradually began; I had been raped twice, as a 12 year old and on my honey moon night, but had kind of buried the memories, so was particularly vulnerable. At the CF&S Family Camp in OH three weeks later, my boundaries were further broken by the class, altho I was healed of some of the bondage and trauma surrounding sex. However, the pendulum was set to swing into the license-to-sin culture of the way that has been brought to light here and other places.

Guess my path was pretty predictable- it involved being sexually abused by two young leaders and then engaging in sex with believer bros, then two guys I was "witnessing" to, etc. There were other incidents that were not (what's a cool way to say full-on intercourse?) Was invited on the motor coach corpse week '80; vpw dropped his pants, but I was again in mental distress after my interim year, and he ended up talking about my next year's assignment as we cuddled, thank You GOD! So from the Advanced Class '79 (July?) to the summer of my final WOW year in '83, I had 10 full sexual encounters/ relationships along with other activity that the culture sanctioned.  (Was too "out of it" to protect with safe sex precautions, but my female system had shut down either due to the running, all the birth control pills in traveling hippie times, or the traumas, so there you had that...) When I finally kind of realized that I was becoming an abuser, I said Enough! These are my brothers and I am their sister, and this is wrong.

I mentioned in another post how I learned that sexual abuse was A-OK with vpw et al; and of course along with it came the message that women were less than, that it was fine for men to help themselves to the young women, etc. 1 CORINTHIANS 7:1 WAS TAUGHT IN CF&S, YET. . . . . What's new??  A counselor labeled the way as misogynistic... Guess so?!  

 

Could of course, talk about how the way contributed to very good things in my life like meeting my future h, having my children with him, making wonderful friends, receiving some deliverance, etc. BUT! I am in full-time trauma recovery from many things, among them the cult aspects of the way and the sexual abuse

All for now I think...  Blessings to all!

Hi Annio… …what a courageous and honest post !!!

 …somehow I missed this thread - so I just wanted to add my 2 cents now…

 

You got me thinking about a few of ways that a double standard played out in TWI. A   double standard   is a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people than to another group.

One aspect of the double standard in TWI is the misogynistic tendencies as you mentioned. In the bigger picture as we all know, this is something not just confined to TWI – but at least in the outside world there have been some brave survivors coming forth and things like the  me too movement    to raise awareness and empathy and to advocate changes to laws and policies. I don’t ever see that happening in TWI.

 

Another aspect of TWI’s double standard that you and others have touched upon is the role that gender plays in determining one’s “status” within the group and how others should relate to them. Again this is not something peculiar to TWI… “Some believe that differences in the way men and women are perceived and treated is a function of social norms, thus indicating a double standard. One claim is that a double standard exists in society's judgment of women's and men's sexual conduct. Research has found that casual sexual activity is regarded as more acceptable for men than for women” from     Wikipedia - double standard  

 

 

And perhaps a third aspect of the double standard in TWI is a more general application of religious-grade hypocrisyhow cult leaders exercise control over followers…see  Matthew 23     and  II Peter 2   . Those passages lead me to believe maybe the problem isn’t always with a particular doctrine but rather how TWI puts it into practice – and even further, to what degree they enforce compliance.

Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or in a belief system. Practice is the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.”  From Quora - what is the difference between doctrine and practice      

In my opinion there’s one big thing that sets apart an abusive religious cult like TWI from other groups. It’s not really about the sixteen thousandth teaching of “You Are Righteous Now”  - although I do tend to think some teachings like that can squelch one’s conscience when genuine repentance might be a more appropriate topic. The telltale signs of an abusive and controlling cult are the methods and tactics they employ to instill and reinforce certain ideas and attitudes.

 

I don’t believe the average Way-believer who has never seen anything more than the local fellowship, can really “appreciate” the intense indoctrination process of the way corps program. I thought it was going to be a college-level education in the Bible and shepherding the flock - you know, maybe along the lines of a seminary only much better cuz it was all based on "The Word" - - and I've even heard some corps refer to it as something like the school of the prophets mentioned in the Old Testament  I Samuel 19  II Kings 2  and II Kings 4  (some translations refer to them as the school of the prophets, a group of prophets, the company of prophets, or sons of the prophets ) ...

But it was more along the lines of a glorified PFAL catechism – with the student body being corralled to think in terms of predetermined questions and answers – - what does it say in PFAL about this or that?  we were drilled to know all the material of PFAL frontwards and backwards...we were often randomly called upon to give 5 minute teachings during one of the three meals in the dining room - and then we were critiqued right on the spot afterward; fyi - the teachings that quoted verbatim - with very little deviation - from one of the PFAL books received the highest praise and little or no criticism - I $hit you not!   
 

Among other things what really “helped me absorb”   this "doctrine" was the sleep deprivation, the work program (cheap labor - often busy-work and usually a big time-waster), the occasional tongue-lashing , being singled out for public ridicule over some minor infraction - after all details are important to God - - and the ever popular threat to throw your a$$ out the door if you didn’t comply with some directive. What is the point of all that? I’ll tell you - in case you didn’t click on the above link to Matthew 23 – I’ll quote verse 15 of it  here “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” ....I think ideally the way corps program was designed to make little clones of wierwille.

 

 

On a side note – if I felt compelled to address doctrine - the biggest issue I have with TWI’s fundamentalist point of view is that it is more than just your typical strict literal interpretation of the Bible (and brushing aside any dubious teachings like the 4 crucified, the unforgiveable sin = being born again of the wrong seed, etc.)  TWI’s brand of fundamentalism is also infused with   magical thinking    which is the belief that unrelated events are causally connected despite the absence of any plausible causal link between them, particularly as a result of supernatural effects – “the law of believing” comes to mind.

 

 

 

Another thing you mentioned Annio, at the end of your post really resonated with me. You reflected on the good stuff you got out of your TWI experience. I think that’s a healthy way to deal with life. To NOT paint everything in broad strokes  -  but to think more deeply about experiences - to learn from mistakes and failures and to cherish any wins. I met my wife in TWI – besides meeting a lot of good people  - and that’s where I first learned to enjoy reading the Bible. It makes me think of the duality of life – which is made up of so many different and sometimes opposite elements. That’s reality.

 

One of the many reasons why life in the way corps was often an uphill battle for me was the heavy-handed pressure from top leadership to ignore or even deny reality. I was never salaried by TWI – so my wife and I worked regular jobs ( besides all the responsibilities we had of running a branch or area, running classes and coordinating advances, witnessing, under-shepherding, getting teachings together, counseling,  visiting Twigs all over town…and in different towns…with a kid in tow )  and we made our money stretch a long way for the cost of living…sometimes coming up short since we had it drummed into our heads as corps that abundant sharing was the highest priority when budgeting finances.

Over the course of some 34 years since I left TWI, I’ve learned that acceptance of reality is a lot easier than a denial of reality. Back in the day, I wasted more time and energy spinning my wheels listening to teachings on believing, making positive affirmations, conjuring up believing images of victory to try and make something happen.

I’m not saying be a pushover in life. Acceptance takes some guts to acknowledge what I cannot change or what is beyond my control - but also to step up to the plate when I can do something that’s within my power. Acceptance is how we look at ourselves and others. And rather than have hostility or fear toward someone who is different from me – though I sometimes falter at that – I think it’s better to be tolerant – even open and honest to find common ground – and yes, I still have a long way to go on that one too. Acceptance is being at peace with my own imperfections and failures and not beating myself up every time I fail or disappoint myself. I think what goes along with that is to be thankful for the ordinary things in life – I’ve got a roof over my head, I have food in the pantry, I have a family and friends who accept me as I am - warts and all. :rolleyes: I think that stuff keeps me grounded.

 

*** bonus feature on the duality of life: Skyrider started a thread a while back    -  cult survivors and the duality of life    ***

Edited by T-Bone
formatting and typos
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/9/2021 at 10:47 AM, outandabout said:

One of the most liberating things when I left TWI was the realization the Sh1t Happens.

Out, yes!!  Back when I was in TWI, people would say that S--t happens because of my believing.  No, sometimes life is hard, and things happen we have no control over. For example, those poor people in Houston, who have been without power for several days.  They had no control over what happened to them, and they are suffering mightily from not having heat, or electricity.  Poor souls.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/8/2021 at 10:06 PM, T-Bone said:

Hi Annio… …what a courageous and honest post !!!

 …somehow I missed this thread - so I just wanted to add my 2 cents now…

 

You got me thinking about a few of ways that a double standard played out in TWI. A   double standard   is a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people than to another group.

One aspect of the double standard in TWI is the misogynistic tendencies as you mentioned. In the bigger picture as we all know, this is something not just confined to TWI – but at least in the outside world there have been some brave survivors coming forth and things like the  me too movement    to raise awareness and empathy and to advocate changes to laws and policies. I don’t ever see that happening in TWI.

 

Another aspect of TWI’s double standard that you and others have touched upon is the role that gender plays in determining one’s “status” within the group and how others should relate to them. Again this is not something peculiar to TWI… “Some believe that differences in the way men and women are perceived and treated is a function of social norms, thus indicating a double standard. One claim is that a double standard exists in society's judgment of women's and men's sexual conduct. Research has found that casual sexual activity is regarded as more acceptable for men than for women” from     Wikipedia - double standard  

 

 

And perhaps a third aspect of the double standard in TWI is a more general application of religious-grade hypocrisyhow cult leaders exercise control over followers…see  Matthew 23     and  II Peter 2   . Those passages lead me to believe maybe the problem isn’t always with a particular doctrine but rather how TWI puts it into practice – and even further, to what degree they enforce compliance.

Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or in a belief system. Practice is the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.”  From Quora - what is the difference between doctrine and practice      

In my opinion there’s one big thing that sets apart an abusive religious cult like TWI from other groups. It’s not really about the sixteen thousandth teaching of “You Are Righteous Now”  - although I do tend to think some teachings like that can squelch one’s conscience when genuine repentance might be a more appropriate topic. The telltale signs of an abusive and controlling cult are the methods and tactics they employ to instill and reinforce certain ideas and attitudes.

 

I don’t believe the average Way-believer who has never seen anything more than the local fellowship, can really “appreciate” the intense indoctrination process of the way corps program. I thought it was going to be a college-level education in the Bible and shepherding the flock - you know, maybe along the lines of a seminary only much better cuz it was all based on "The Word" - - and I've even heard some corps refer to it as something like the school of the prophets mentioned in the Old Testament  I Samuel 19  II Kings 2  and II Kings 4  (some translations refer to them as the school of the prophets, a group of prophets, the company of prophets, or sons of the prophets ) ...

But it was more along the lines of a glorified PFAL catechism – with the student body being corralled to think in terms of predetermined questions and answers – - what does it say in PFAL about this or that?  we were drilled to know all the material of PFAL frontwards and backwards...we were often randomly called upon to give 5 minute teachings during one of the three meals in the dining room - and then we were critiqued right on the spot afterward; fyi - the teachings that quoted verbatim - with very little deviation - from one of the PFAL books received the highest praise and little or no criticism - I $hit you not!   
 

Among other things what really “helped me absorb”   this "doctrine" was the sleep deprivation, the work program (cheap labor - often busy-work and usually a big time-waster), the occasional tongue-lashing , being singled out for public ridicule over some minor infraction - after all details are important to God - - and the ever popular threat to throw your a$$ out the door if you didn’t comply with some directive. What is the point of all that? I’ll tell you - in case you didn’t click on the above link to Matthew 23 – I’ll quote verse 15 of it  here “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” ....I think ideally the way corps program was designed to make little clones of wierwille.

 

 

On a side note – if I felt compelled to address doctrine - the biggest issue I have with TWI’s fundamentalist point of view is that it is more than just your typical strict literal interpretation of the Bible (and brushing aside any dubious teachings like the 4 crucified, the unforgiveable sin = being born again of the wrong seed, etc.)  TWI’s brand of fundamentalism is also infused with   magical thinking    which is the belief that unrelated events are causally connected despite the absence of any plausible causal link between them, particularly as a result of supernatural effects – “the law of believing” comes to mind.

 

 

 

Another thing you mentioned Annio, at the end of your post really resonated with me. You reflected on the good stuff you got out of your TWI experience. I think that’s a healthy way to deal with life. To NOT paint everything in broad strokes  -  but to think more deeply about experiences - to learn from mistakes and failures and to cherish any wins. I met my wife in TWI – besides meeting a lot of good people  - and that’s where I first learned to enjoy reading the Bible. It makes me think of the duality of life – which is made up of so many different and sometimes opposite elements. That’s reality.

 

One of the many reasons why life in the way corps was often an uphill battle for me was the heavy-handed pressure from top leadership to ignore or even deny reality. I was never salaried by TWI – so my wife and I worked regular jobs ( besides all the responsibilities we had of running a branch or area, running classes and coordinating advances, witnessing, under-shepherding, getting teachings together, counseling,  visiting Twigs all over town…and in different towns…with a kid in tow )  and we made our money stretch a long way for the cost of living…sometimes coming up short since we had it drummed into our heads as corps that abundant sharing was the highest priority when budgeting finances.

Over the course of some 34 years since I left TWI, I’ve learned that acceptance of reality is a lot easier than a denial of reality. Back in the day, I wasted more time and energy spinning my wheels listening to teachings on believing, making positive affirmations, conjuring up believing images of victory to try and make something happen.

I’m not saying be a pushover in life. Acceptance takes some guts to acknowledge what I cannot change or what is beyond my control - but also to step up to the plate when I can do something that’s within my power. Acceptance is how we look at ourselves and others. And rather than have hostility or fear toward someone who is different from me – though I sometimes falter at that – I think it’s better to be tolerant – even open and honest to find common ground – and yes, I still have a long way to go on that one too. Acceptance is being at peace with my own imperfections and failures and not beating myself up every time I fail or disappoint myself. I think what goes along with that is to be thankful for the ordinary things in life – I’ve got a roof over my head, I have food in the pantry, I have a family and friends who accept me as I am - warts and all. :rolleyes: I think that stuff keeps me grounded.

 

*** bonus feature on the duality of life: Skyrider started a thread a while back    -  cult survivors and the duality of life    ***

Thank you T-bone! I read and re-read your post, and am very grateful for your insights, truth-telling, and kindness. Switching from believing I was the failure to seeing that the counterfeit teachings and practices failed me/us is still taking some time... So good to be coming out the other end of the tunnel tho!  Blessings to you and yours!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

My community believes Phil, and other men trained as ministers in The Way International, are righteous, knowledgeable authorities and that the beautiful women they surrounded themselves with are lucky to be in their presence. This organization, a recognized cult, has significant claims of sexual and spiritual abuse, dating back to the 1970s. In this community, these are swept under the rug and brushed aside as “how men behave.” Is that how your community behaves? Where a man “teaches” sexually starved young women, who believe him to be a friend and mentor, by forcing his fingers inside their vaginas while asking, “Do you like it?” “Let me show you something,” he commanded right before the second assault, as he bent me over his desk and shoved his hand up my skirt. I had arrived intending to rebuild the church database; this was not the way I wanted to volunteer. (excerpted from MyRapistLivesHere.com, posted 3/21/2021)

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Rocky, that is such a heart-wrenching article – and after reading it, I thought of a whole other aspect on the sexual culture and abuse in The Way. I realized my previous post over double standards and hypocrisy just scratched the surface. While reading that article – a thought occurred to me a couple of times. How could some TWI-leaders get that fvcked up? I think it comes down to systemic problems inherent in TWI.

I believe one of the biggest systemic problems is the consequence of having an authoritarian pyramid structure with absolute power and influence being at the top – a position occupied by a sexual predator. The next step down the pyramid hierarchy of status and authority is comprised of the way corps. Now the way corps program was wierwille’s baby – he created it and was responsible for it. And one of the most subliminal methods of “teaching” the way corps was in the way he modeled what the ideal spiritual man or woman should be like in attitudes, behavior, etc.

I’ve mentioned the pajama party my first year of in-residence way corps training several times on Grease Spot – so I won’t reiterate all the disgusting and offensive details again (I’ve left a few links below of a thread where I’ve discussed it at length). One detail has always stuck with me - the far-reaching ramifications of some of the crazy things wierwille said in trying to alleviate the shock and horror that was palpable in the room after he showed the porn video: “I’ve so renewed my mind that stuff like this doesn’t bother me…Unto the pure all things are pure…Anything done in the love of God is okay…If you’re going to help people in counseling and to get healed you can’t be shocked by anything.”

For me, being raised a good Catholic boy with a sensitive conscience – I simply repressed the memory of that night – maybe figuring that it all was way beyond my current level of spiritual growth – I don’t know. Anyway, I wasn’t that impressed or concerned with how wierwille suggested we handle counseling situations. Even before I went in the corps, a TWI-clergy guy introduced me to the work of a Christian counselor Jay Adams and I got into some other non-Way counselors like Larry Crabb. These authors seemed to know what they were talking about and it was straight-forward stuff right out of the Bible without twisting words, concepts and no salacious applications - stuff I could wrap my mind around - not like wierwille's approach - his was too...too...too...out there ...after we were out of in-residence training – I’d occasionally have some vague dissenting thought like maybe wierwille had no business teaching about counseling. Later that same year, still brooding over “passing of the patriarch” – I was having even more unsettling thoughts – like "maybe we were all just playing church."

 

Our moral conscience is such a valuable and sometimes precarious thing.  I think of   I Corinthians 15: 33      Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.     I’m glad I left when I did – I probably dodged a huge bullet by getting out of The Way. Circling back to a question I asked earlier - how could some TWI-leaders get that fvcked up? Maybe some guys were already predisposed toward licentiousness. And being in the way corps – wierwille’s baby - was that a way to validate throwing off sexual restraints? Don't know...just wondering.

I’m not saying all TWI-leaders are fvcked up in that way. But on the other hand, if way corps have stuck around for a really long time and are well aware of the bad $hi+  perpetrated by the dark underbelly of the beast (TWI) and they still just look the other way, while they put together another teaching on Christians should be prosperous – that’s also kinda fvcked up in my book too.

 

== == == == =

Family Corps in my early 30s

the conscience can be cauterized

Hoe TWI-leaders model "The Word"

 

Edited by T-Bone
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2 hours ago, T-Bone said:

after we were out of in-residence training – sometimes I’d have some vague dissenting thought like “maybe wierwille has no business teaching about counseling”. Later that same year, still brooding over “passing of the patriarch” – I was having even more unsettling thoughts – like maybe we were all just playing church.

Your entire post/comment resonates with me. I believe I've said the same thing about the authoritarian structure in different words, a number of times over the last twenty years. I saw it as the accountability in the social structure was bass-ackward in twi. In Acts, the elders held themselves accountable to the people who supported them.

IMO, the entire Christian church, at least in the Western world, looks at authority in such a way that the elders were considered "leaders" who must be followed. That's dangerous stuff all around. And I believe that's why sexual abuse is pervasive regardless of denomination.

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20 minutes ago, Rocky said:

Your entire post/comment resonates with me. I believe I've said the same thing about the authoritarian structure in different words, a number of times over the last twenty years. I saw it as the accountability in the social structure was bass-ackward in twi. In Acts, the elders held themselves accountable to the people who supported them.

IMO, the entire Christian church, at least in the Western world, looks at authority in such a way that the elders were considered "leaders" who must be followed. That's dangerous stuff all around. And I believe that's why sexual abuse is pervasive regardless of denomination.

Yes !!!!

A case in point is the riveting film   Spotlight    - IMDB's brief description of it - "The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core."

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5 hours ago, T-Bone said:

Rocky, that is such a heart-wrenching article – and after reading it, I thought of a whole other aspect on the sexual culture and abuse in The Way. I realized my previous post over double standards and hypocrisy just scratched the surface. While reading that article – a thought occurred to me a couple of times. How could some TWI-leaders get that fvcked up? I think it comes down to systemic problems inherent in TWI.

I believe one of the biggest systemic problems is the consequence of having an authoritarian pyramid structure with absolute power and influence being at the top – a position occupied by a sexual predator. The next step down the pyramid hierarchy of status and authority is comprised of the way corps. Now the way corps program was wierwille’s baby – he created it and was responsible for it. And one of the most subliminal methods of “teaching” the way corps was in the way he modeled what the ideal spiritual man or woman should be like in attitudes, behavior, etc.

I’ve mentioned the pajama party my first year of in-residence way corps training several times on Grease Spot – so I won’t reiterate all the disgusting and offensive details again (I’ve left a few links below of a thread where I’ve discussed it at length). One detail has always stuck with me - the far-reaching ramifications of some of the crazy things wierwille said in trying to alleviate the shock and horror that was palpable in the room after he showed the porn video: “I’ve so renewed my mind that stuff like this doesn’t bother me…Unto the pure all things are pure…Anything done in the love of God is okay…If you’re going to help people in counseling and to get healed you can’t be shocked by anything.”

For me, being raised a good Catholic boy with a sensitive conscience – I simply repressed the memory of that night – maybe figuring that it all was way beyond my current level of spiritual growth – I don’t know. Anyway, I wasn’t that impressed or concerned with how wierwille suggested we handle counseling situations. Even before I went in the corps, a TWI-clergy guy introduced me to the work of a Christian counselor Jay Adams and I got into some other non-Way counselors like Larry Crabb. These authors seemed to know what they were talking about and it was straight-forward stuff right out of the Bible without twisting words, concepts and no salacious applications - stuff I could wrap my mind around - not like wierwille's approach - his was too...too...too...out there ...after we were out of in-residence training – I’d occasionally have some vague dissenting thought like maybe wierwille had no business teaching about counseling. Later that same year, still brooding over “passing of the patriarch” – I was having even more unsettling thoughts – like "maybe we were all just playing church."

 

Our moral conscience is such a valuable and sometimes precarious thing.  I think of   I Corinthians 15: 33      Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.     I’m glad I left when I did – I probably dodged a huge bullet by getting out of The Way. Circling back to a question I asked earlier - how could some TWI-leaders get that fvcked up? Maybe some guys were already predisposed toward licentiousness. And being in the way corps – wierwille’s baby - was that a way to validate throwing off sexual restraints? Don't know...just wondering.

I’m not saying all TWI-leaders are fvcked up in that way. But on the other hand, if way corps have stuck around for a really long time and are well aware of the bad $hi+  perpetrated by the dark underbelly of the beast (TWI) and they still just look the other way, while they put together another teaching on Christians should be prosperous – that’s also kinda fvcked up in my book too.

 

== == == == =

Family Corps in my early 30s

the conscience can be cauterized

Hoe TWI-leaders model "The Word"

 

T-Bone, excellent post!

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2 hours ago, Rocky said:

Your entire post/comment resonates with me. I believe I've said the same thing about the authoritarian structure in different words, a number of times over the last twenty years. I saw it as the accountability in the social structure was bass-ackward in twi. In Acts, the elders held themselves accountable to the people who supported them.

IMO, the entire Christian church, at least in the Western world, looks at authority in such a way that the elders were considered "leaders" who must be followed. That's dangerous stuff all around. And I believe that's why sexual abuse is pervasive regardless of denomination.

Rocky, absolutely true, unfortunately. 

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2 hours ago, T-Bone said:

Yes !!!!

A case in point is the riveting film   Spotlight    - IMDB's brief description of it - "The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core."

T-Bone, Spotlight was a very revealing movie, IMO. Until I saw that movie, I had no idea, how rampant sexual abuse, had been in the Catholic Church. Worse than knowing about the abuse, was the cover up. The Church knew, some priests were abusing members of their congregations, and did nothing to stop it. Finally, the Church was forced to pay out Billions of dollars, to the victims. However, by that time, many of the survivors, had drug, and alcohol problems. Some of the victims even committed suicide, if I remember correctly, from the movie. No amount of money will ever compensate, those unfortunate victims. 

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On 3/28/2021 at 2:09 AM, Grace Valerie Claire said:

T-Bone, Spotlight was a very revealing movie, IMO. Until I saw that movie, I had no idea, how rampant sexual abuse, had been in the Catholic Church. Worse than knowing about the abuse, was the cover up. The Church knew, some priests were abusing members of their congregations, and did nothing to stop it. Finally, the Church was forced to pay out Billions of dollars, to the victims. However, by that time, many of the survivors, had drug, and alcohol problems. Some of the victims even committed suicide, if I remember correctly, from the movie. No amount of money will ever compensate, those unfortunate victims. 

Yeah Grace, sometimes I wonder if the top leadership of The Way International like being “under the radar” (not very well known) to avoid unnecessary attention – I know they’re probably considered small potatoes compared to bigger destructive cults like Scientology -  but maybe they like it that way…being more in the public eye would leave them open to public scrutiny, criticism…and who knows, maybe even widespread demands for accountability…

I wonder how many TWI-followers  would still trust TWI-leadership if they found out even just a smidgen of the sexual abuse that’s been going on – and covered up for a very long time

How would the general TWI-public react to finding out that wierwille, Craig and other TWI-leadership were/are sexual predators?

Would there be a public outrage over the fact that all this has been covered up for YEARS ?

What would be left of TWI’s supposed reputation as a biblical research, teaching and fellowship ministry?

And who knows how much would even change if the dark underbelly of the beast was exposed to daylight…I read about another more recent issue with the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales in a November 2020 article of The Guardian (the link is below...when I read stuff like this I’m just appalled at any church’s efforts toward “customer retention” and cash inflow taking precedence over altruistic concerns for the well-being of their own followers…did Jesus Christ mean for leaders of the faith to conquer and exploit the flock? I believe he said something along the lines of he came not to be served but to serve  Mark 10:39-45  )…the following are just a few excerpts from The Guardian article :

“Pope Francis asked Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, to stay in his post, despite a damning report that criticised his leadership and concluded that the church repeatedly prioritised its reputation over the welfare of child sex abuse victims…

…The 162-page report said “the church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and vulnerable.”…

…Between 1970 and 2015, the church in England and Wales received more than 900 complaints involving more than 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse, made against more than 900 individuals, including priests, monks and volunteers…

…When complaints were made, the church invariably failed to support victims and survivors but took action to protect alleged perpetrators by moving them to a different parish. “Child sexual abuse,” the report says, “was swept under the carpet.”…

…Prof Alexis Jay, the chair of the inquiry, said: “For decades, the Catholic church’s failure to tackle child sexual abuse consigned many more children to the same fate. It is clear that the church’s reputation was valued above the welfare of victims, with allegations ignored and perpetrators protected. Even today, the responses of the Holy See appear at odds with the pope’s promise to take action on this hugely important problem.”

end of excerpts 

 

Guardian article – Catholic Church sweeps sex abuse under carpet

 

and related to above article that mentions a 162 page report done by the IICSA the following link gives some info about them

about the report by the Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse that is referenced in the article

 

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