The leaders loved to be spiritual. And they put into practice for us a lot of spiritual practices. Fasting was one of these. They said they also did the fasts, and in public they did. I never had any reason to doubt them, especially since I wanted to believe that they were the special, holy role-models, but what I have heard since leaving makes me doubt how much they lived what they put on us.
Every year we had to fast during Lent, the whole 40 days. It started out with each of us choosing what we would give up. Then they started reading up on spiritual practices. One year we could eat only bread and water. Several years we went on the grape fast – only grapes, grape juice or raisins. This was supposed to be healthy and cleansing as well as a spiritual purging. I was sick through most of it, and starving for protein and vitamins. Others would get so thin it was scary.
The second year we did bread only, some of us started adding extras to the bread like cheese and jam. Someone even invented a spaghetti bread with tomato sauce and meat in it. The leaders found out about it of course, and everyone who had done this had to start all over again and do an additional 40 days on bread, this time with someone watching and reporting.
Then we had the cytotoxic years where you had to get tested and you could not eat the foods you were allergic to. In my family we had milk, wheat, soy, sugar and other allergies, so it was extremely limiting. In each family, we had to cook what everyone could eat, so none of us could eat what the others were allergic to. It was crazy. We were sending the kids to school with peanut butter and honey sandwiches on homemade rye bread. They would throw them out and beg from the other kids. We also had to eat only 3 foods a day, and not repeat a food for 5 days. Over the top.
At first we were told not to drink any alcohol. It was that way for years. Then it started to be served at the special holiday dinners, then at personal parties. By the time I left, I knew of several people who had serious drinking problems. It was hidden, not spoken of, but they were my friends, and I knew. Also the younger generation would get drunk when they went to the local park for camping or dinners out. Drugs were too far out for our legalistic minds, but for some reason alcohol was an escape that many could rationalize away. Because it would blow our image, the leaders kept these problems hidden and did not help the people who were in trouble. A lot of people also were taking anti-depressants.
One of the members, before they joined, were in a church in another state. They started a Christian diet program. The leaders got all excited about this, and started “helping” her run it. They would fly out to this state and do their teaching. It was making enough money that they hired a private jet and pilot. I was told by someone who knew and talked with this pilot what he had to say about them. He had flown many business men on their trips, and there was always a certain amount of drinking that went on. He said he had never in his life seen so much booze brought onto his plane before. They brought cases of wine and beer and hard liquor, and drank the whole flight. He said the leaders were drunk the whole time. It was so excessive, he had never seen anyone put down so much booze in so short a time, and this continued for the whole year or more that he was their pilot. This is how our spiritual leaders acted when we could not see what they were doing.
We went through a lot of teaching about “healthy” eating, growing our own vegetables, preparing for the end times; buying food that was vacuum packed, buying wood stoves. We even had one year where they found out that a local weed was edible. Someone from Holland said that it was a pot-herb over there. So that whole summer we had to pick the weed, wash all the sand and dirt off of it, and cook it. Every household was required to do this. If you didn’t, you faced public “correction”. Every family had to have a garden and grow their own vegetables for years. If someone’s garden looked neglected, they were publicly dressed down, and given a deadline for getting their garden up and running, bigger than before.
So this gives you an idea of how even our food and drink were controlled by the leaders.