My life there and afterwards

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An interesting article follow-up

I was asked how these “red flags” played out for me in my life at CJ. My response to each point is italicized.

So what constitutes a cult? Eichel listed several factors: (LaRosa, 2017)

  • “Beware of any kind of pressure. That’s probably the single most important advice I can give anyone. Any kind of pressure to make a quick decision about becoming involved in any intensive kind of activity or organization.”
  • Pressure was put on me from the very beginning. I speak some about this in my blog posting of March 2014 entitled “Thumbnail History and Teachings”. In our first meeting with Cay and Judy, Judy yelled at us, expressed a great amount of anger, and made sure we knew that we were to be obedient to the letter of the word, and that we were not to take any independent action. The teaching centered on exposing daily, continuous sin and a lot of pressure was put on us daily in the households to tell each other where we were wrong in everything we did. The new people (us) did not get to speak to others, but were the recipients of this “wisdom and love”. I was pressured to take vows, not overtly, but peer pressure, the desire to be seen as dedicated and spiritual, and knowing what the leaders wanted all contributed to me making a quick decision about vows. If the leaders said they thought I should be in a group (Band, Choir, Art, an office, etc.)I felt great pressure to acquiesce right away. There was no opportunity to go away and think about it. If I said ‘no’ I was considered to have a rebellious spirit.
  • “Be wary of any leader who proclaims him or herself as having special powers or special insight. And, of course, divinity.”
  • Cay and Judy pretended to be humble. According to them, they were just 2 housewives who read the Bible and tried to apply it to everyday life. In word they said they were not special. But they also said that they heard God speak to them directly. Betty P. once said to me that when she prayed she heard God’s voice audibly. C&J taught as if they had the truth, the whole truth. They taught absolute obedience, and came down hard on anyone who questioned or doubted their teachings. By this negative reinforcement they showed that they believed they were always right. Betty said that because God had put her into the role of leadership, that He guided her, and what she heard in prayer was always His will. I dared to semi-question her once when we were talking about how to handle a problematic sister, and she shut me up abruptly and severely. A few weeks later she said I had resisted her and “fought” her. Hardly. I was meek and was just trying to give my viewpoint about that sister, which happened to differ slightly from her viewpoint. I didn’t think she was as bad as Betty and the other sister were saying she was.
  • “The group is closed, so in other words, although there may be outside followers, there’s usually an inner circle that follows the leader without question, and that maintains a tremendous amount of secrecy.”
  • We were very closed from the outside world. We even went through a year of discipline/training where we were not allowed to watch TV or read newspapers or magazines. I also behaved very differently when strangers were around. I was always smiling and saying how blessed and happy my life was, even when I was crying inside. New members were treated well at first, especially if they had money to donate. But even they, after years of commitment, were subjected to humiliating treatment, ostensibly to deal with their sin. The vowed members had meetings that the non-vowed people could not come to. In those meetings we talked about the ‘deeper life’, that life we were supposed to get to through “the daily cross of dying to our sin”. Even for vowed members, there was an inner circle. Cay and Judy, and then Betty would pick those people who were the most compliant to be close to them and help with the running of the organization. They were called the Council, and on paper were supposed to be advisors, and a check and balance for the leadership. I knew that was in word only and that Cay and Judy, and then Betty, held sway and gave all directions. Their word was law, and more important than God’s. I did not compare what she said to the Bible to see if it was in line with God’s word. I accepted her edicts as the word of God.
  • “The group uses deceptive means, typically, to recruit new members, and then once recruited will subject its members to an organized program of thought reform, or what most people refer to as brainwashing.”
  • I wish I had the transcripts of the early teachings. They would show the progression of mind control that we went through. We are all lovey-dovey to the outside world, proclaiming how wonderful our life is, and how happy we all are. And yet in the Convent and in the homes I saw every day how miserable, unhappy, stressed and anxious everyone was. Once someone becomes a member, they are put in a household, and the head of that household is their ‘counselor’. That counselor makes sure they learn obedience. “God Blesses Obedience” is a clarion call of CJ. It might be true in some cases, but it is used at CJ to make you give up your own thinking. The mind control is insidious because it is cloaked in Christianity, and scripture is used in a warped way to make you think God wants this of you.
  • “Typically cults also exploit their members…. mostly financially. Within the group, they’ll exploit members financially, psychologically, emotionally and, all too often, sexually.”
  • My husband and I were exploited financially in that we could never save any money for our own future or our children’s future. We were pressured all the time to give money to CJ. We could never get ahead, even when he had a good paying job. Those who came with lots of money gave most of it to CJ. I have heard rumors of sexual abuse, but have no proof. The emotional and psychological abuse/exploitation was extreme. I suffered greatly because of it. It would take a book to go into all the ways this happened, and I am trying to write that book. A few of the ways: constant humiliation, constant fear of having my inner life exposed (sin-hunting), having my children taken away from me and raised by others, never having my talents recognized, never receiving any help for my emotional turmoil – being told I should just ‘give it up’, etc.
  • “A very important aspect of cult is the idea that if you leave the cult, horrible things will happen to you. This is important, and it’s important to realize. That people outside of a cult are potential members, so they’re not looked upon as negatively as people inside the cult who then leave the cult.”
  • The leaders taught, often, that if you left your ‘call’ you would be out from under the protection of God, and all manner of bad things would happen to you, your life would spin out of control, you would end up on the streets, homeless, a junkie, a whore, etc. When someone did leave we were told to not think of them, not contact them, refuse to answer any contact from them. They were dead to us. And yet someone kept track because we would hear of any bad things that happened, and it would be said that proved how God would not protect those who left. An even greater pressure was the teaching that if you left, you would be breaking your promise to God, that you would be a Judas, an unforgivable sin. You would be turning your back on God if you left. That is why it took me so long to leave, and I was afraid God would strike me down. I took my vows seriously. Cay and Judy said they may be Christians out there somewhere that were living a committed life, but they had not met them. Betty P. said that everyone outside of CJ was “dead” (meaning spiritually). We were the special group with the special call.

 

An interesting article

ICSA shared this article with its members, so I am sharing it here with my readers also.

How to Identify a Cult: Six Tips from an Expert

The groups are secretive, exploitive and closed to outsiders – and they’re still with us

04/29/17

CBS News

Up to 10,000 cults still exist today in the United States, according to psychologist Steve Eichel, a recognized international cult expert and president of the International Cultic Studies Association. He outlined several ways to identify cults.

“Most cults are extremely small and very deliberately try to to stay under the radar,” Eichel told “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant. “Unless they commit a crime, unless they do something that draws attention to them–negative attention and criticism to them–we generally don’t know about them.”

Van Sant interviewed Eichel for his “48 Hours” report on the Australian cult The Family. The cult was led by self-appointed mystic Anne Hamilton-Byrne who, with the help of LSD, convinced followers she was female reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Hamilton-Byrne had up to 500 followers and collected 28 children during the cult’s height. Some children were the offspring of cult members, some were newborns whose unwed mothers believed they were going to a good home. A few were out and out stolen, according to former detective Lex de Man, who has studied The Family for years.

Many of the children had their hair bleached blonde because Hamilton-Byrne wanted them to resemble brothers and sisters. It was not until the children were rescued by police that they learned Anne and her husband Bill Hamilton-Byrne were not their biological parents.

Although The Family was headquartered near Melbourne, Australia, it had a presence in Kent, England, and the Catskills region of New York State. In fact, the Hamilton-Byrnes were arrested at their Catskill house and extradited to Australia to stand trial.

A discussion of The Family naturally raises the question of whether cults still exist in the United States. Many Americans, especially baby boomers, tend to think cults are a remnant of the 1960s and ’70s but that’s not true, as Van Sant learned.

“As an American, when I think of cults in the United States I think of the Branch Davidians. The Waco situation. I think of Charles Manson,” Van Sant said. “I think of just a handful of groups, ’cause those are the ones I’ve really heard of. You’re telling me there’s much more than that?”

“Certainly. And of course you haven’t heard of them, and neither have I, for that matter. I don’t keep track of all the cults,” Eichel replied. “Cultic groups tend to try very hard to remain secretive. They don’t want a lot of notoriety or negative attention.”

So what constitutes a cult? Eichel listed several factors:

  • “Beware of any kind of pressure. That’s probably the single most important advice I can give anyone. Any kind of pressure to make a quick decision about becoming involved in any intensive kind of activity or organization.”
  • “Be wary of any leader who proclaims him or herself as having special powers or special insight. And, of course, divinity.”
  • “The group is closed, so in other words, although there may be outside followers, there’s usually an inner circle that follows the leader without question, and that maintains a tremendous amount of secrecy.”
  • “The group uses deceptive means, typically, to recruit new members, and then once recruited will subject its members to an organized program of thought reform, or what most people refer to as brainwashing.”
  • “Typically cults also exploit their members….mostly financially. Within the group, they’ll exploit members financially, psychologically, emotionally and, all too often, sexually.”
  • “A very important aspect of cult is the idea that if you leave the cult, horrible things will happen to you. This is important, and it’s important to realize. That people outside of a cult are potential members, so they’re not looked upon as negatively as people inside the cult who then leave the cult.”

________________________________________

Written by “48 Hours” producer Paul LaRosa. Watch “48 Hours:” The Family : A Cult Revealed”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-identify-a-cult-six-expert-tips/

 

Would you like to leave?

Your Reasons to Leave the Community of Jesus? Here is a start…

Sometimes it helps to write things down. For those inside of The Community of Jesus (CofJ), it may not be prudent for you to write down your reasons, so allow me to do this for you. After all, writing things down can bring clarity and helps you focus. Of course, I am out and have been for several years. What I write may not be exactly your reason, but it may come close. These are in no particular order.

  1. You are tired of being told what to do in every part of your life including how to dress, where to work, where to live, what car to drive, who to love, who to hate, who is your “friend”, who is your “enemy”…
  2. You see the shallowness of the life and teaching in the alternate CofJ reality and crave genuine relationships based on true character and not someone’s interpretation of your thoughts, your desires, your world…
  3. You are not happy with the guilt of actually not believing what you are supposed to believe.
  4. You did not choose CofJ – someone else chose it for you.
  5. You see the charade for what it is and need a fresh and new start to find out who you really are and who you want to become.
  6. You are tired of being broke – financially.
  7. You are tired of working for free or minimal pay.
  8. You are tired of being broken – emotionally.
  9. You are tired of being told you are full of sin and living on the edge of intense correction over the simplest of things.
  10. You want your own friendships outside of CofJ.
  11. You want to finish college, but were told it’s not the “will of God.”
  12. You are tired of hiding the CofJ secrets.
  13. You are not sure of the consequences of what CofJ practices.
  14. Your family is out and you want to be with them.
  15. You are tired of the constant questions about your thoughts and feelings as if everything you do is wrong – everything.
  16. You are tired of the constant pitch for money.
  17. You question the ethics of being so much in debt while continuing to expand.
  18. You love your children and begin to question the policies of separation.
  19. You are not sure that all the restrictions on holidays and vacations are needed.
  20. You want to watch television – or at least have the freedom to make your own choices.
  21. You want to freely choose what information you access.
  22. You just don’t feel right about all that you see going on and you are tired of the constant loud voices of intimidation.
  23. You suspect God is not full of hatred and emotional abuse – you believe – “God is love.”
  24. You wonder why there is so little outside contact if there is nothing to hide and you are truly among the “people of God.”
  25. You can’t excuse what is really happening inside CofJ – any longer. The weight of the cover-up is too much to carry.
  26. You just want to leave and don’t have 10 reasons, it is just your choice. You are not angry- you just want to leave and begin life in a different state.

This list is only a start. Obviously, I can’t read your mind or know the secret thoughts of your heart. No matter your reason, it is your choice. Many have left before you and after you leave, others will follow. Contrary to what you may be told there are valid reasons for leaving CofJ. And life outside of CJ is good.

Your reason(s) may not be listed here. That is fine. You know what they are and that is all that counts. Writing something down can help you focus and find a better way to think or feel or express what is in your heart. The choice to leave may be made several times at several different points before you actually physically leave CofJ.

There are resources to help you. Many of us who left CofJ are willing to help in different ways. Contact local authorities by dialing “911”- if you feel your choice to exit is not respected or allowed. You can always contact me via this blog. I will not post your response unless you want me to.

Thank you, for taking time to visit and read this blog. Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. The author is not a licensed mental health professional and encourages those that need professional help to seek it. The intent of the material is to inform and be a resource. Be sure to tell every member that you know at CofJ about this blog.

Comments are invited from all readers, including present or former members. Polls are not scientific and no private information is gathered. Also, find more posts by selecting “Categories”.
Guest posts reflect the opinions of the writers. Their opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Carrie Buddington or any other persons affiliated with this blog.

Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, for posts written by Carrie Buddington, any information about CofJ is from her memories and recollections as perfect as that may or may not be.

Focus

There are many, many ways in which we humans hurt each other. The news is full of tragedies and violence as well as political insecurity and fear. It can be very distracting. I am working on finding a balance in my own life. I listen to the news because I want to know what is going on. It can be depressing sometimes because I cannot stop the madness that I see and hear about, so I need to find how I am going to handle those feelings of depression and fear and frustration and sometimes anger. Those feelings that have no practical outlet do me no good and sap my energy and focus. There are things I can do, of course. I have joined an online group, and I go to talks once in a while. I have written my Congresswoman and Congressman to state my views, and these things do make me feel better.

I think it is important not to forget about our daily lives. Or even to not make them less important. Life is lived, after all, in the small things that we do every day.

May all of you find your own healthy balance also.

Passive Resistance

I’m studying History, specifically what different groups of German people did to resist Hitler and the National Socialist Party, or Nazism. It’s so easy to look back at that time and to wonder why more people didn’t resist and overthrow Hitler. It is so obvious now how evil that regime was. One thing I have learned about human nature, through my experience in a Christian religious cult, is that we try to make things work, we rationalize the bad times as temporary, we endure bad things always thinking they will get better. Seldom do we stop and take a realistic look at the world we are currently living in.

And yet at the same time we do resist, we do speak up, we are aware of all the terrible things that happen all around us every day.

One of the things I have found hard to deal with since leaving that group is just how much bad news I am bombarded with every day. I have had to concentrate first on re-building my own life, and have not been able to deal with anything broader than that for a while now.

I find myself more accepting now that this is the way life is. A lot of people are messed up, a lot of government is messed up, and it affects us all.

I am not the kind of person who can resist wrong doing actively or violently, but I am discovering that I can resist passively, by writing and speaking. It doesn’t matter if I see the results of my words. It matters that I speak, verbally and in writing.

Many people think Trump will be good for our country because he will approach leadership as a business. No matter what expertise he may have in that area, I cannot condone his total disrespect of women and minorities. Anyone who can be so prejudiced and rude towards other people does not represent me or the majority of our country. I cannot sit passively by and say nothing. For my own self-respect I will voice my concerns.

I don’t believe in war or violence. Passive resistance doesn’t seem to gain much, and yet it is the only route I will take. In a few cases it did work in a big way. Gandhi and Mandela.

My teacher said something in class this week that really struck me. “If you see an instance of a man disrespecting women, do something about it.” I believe this is a call for all of us to notice what goes on around us and to live up to our ideals. We can make a difference.

 

Speak and write

It’s important to speak against injustice and for humane treatment of each other. If I have any hope that society can grow more humane, than I feel a responsibility to voice my thoughts; against injustice, for empathy and compassion.

I truly do not know if society, or mankind as a species, can evolve into a gentler breed, but I do believe that some of us can. We may always be a minority, but we do exist.

Violence and control, by their nature, are more loud, visible and domineering than love and care, but I believe they are shorter lived. Respect and empathy endure, albeit quietly.

Writing is my form of speaking

I can never know whether my writing will have any affect on others, so my primary reason for writing is to satisfy my own sense of responsibility to take a stand against the injustice of human actions.

Just as I have no satisfaction of justice against CJ, I have no real hopes of personally influencing the American society I find myself in. However, just as I was/am propelled to write and tell my story of life at CJ, I am also drawn to speak out about societal ills, and to express my opinions and hopes of constructive human interactions.

In the History class I am now taking, I am impressed by the stories of resistance to Hitler that I am reading about. Although they did not “succeed” in stopping Hitler’s madness, they are a testimony to the bravery and ethics of those who would not be controlled by his regime. I don’t believe outward success should determine what I do to resist wrong-doing. While their efforts did not give them the success they hoped for, they did create a story and a witness for future generations, those of us who can look back and be enlightened by their efforts. The same is true for us today.

Commentary on the Rule of the Community of Jesus

I wish to speak here of the process of leaving the Community of Jesus, what their own Rule says about this subject, and what I experienced in my own leaving. It is my purpose to point out the hypocrisy between what they profess, which sounds like it is based in love and reasonable logic, and what they practice, which seems arbitrary and cruel.

In the Community of Jesus’ Rule, it states on pg. 30-31 that the leadership cares for “…the welfare of the one who is leaving as well as for that of the whole Community”. I did not experience this. To give credit where it is due, they did care for me by giving me $1,000 when I left. At the time that seemed generous, but once I got out into the world I soon realized how little that was and how fast it disappeared. I did not receive any offers of counseling help. No one sat down with me and asked what could be done to help me with my inner turmoil and conflicts. My repeated requests for a leave of absence were denied and I was told to leave for good. From the frame of mind I was in at the time, I was looking for help to resolve my conflicts, and was still trying to find a way to live within the Community. For them to so cruelly and blatantly kick me out after 40 years of hard labor and full-given-ness service to the place was beyond imagination. It was the shock I needed to wake me up, to help me realize the full hypocrisy of the leadership.

Also on pg. 31 it states “The request for a leave of absence by the member is normally submitted to the Superior in writing, stating the reasons for the request, and such a request may be granted by the Superior with the consent of the Council.” I did hand in a written request 3 times. However the Superior flatly denied my request each time. The 3rd time she did not consult the Council, as she gave me a blunt reply in person the moment I made the request. The other 2 times I suspect she did not consult the Council, but cannot say for sure.

On pg. 33 it states “Separation from the Community by any Solemn Professed member is a matter of great seriousness. It is expected that such a decision will normally occur only after a significant period of serious prayer and consideration.” I had been in my own inner turmoil for several years, but had never spoken of it to others. When I finally did admit that I was struggling with wanting to leave, I said it in great conflict and anguish. Once I made this confession, it only took a few months for the leadership to boot me out. Again I have to point out that this was a surprise to me, and happened without talks or counseling or investigation into why I felt this way or if there was any avenue we could take together to resolve my issues.

Also on pg. 33 it talks about “Dispensation from Solemn Profession” initiated by the member. I did not initiate a request for Dispensation. I asked for a Leave of Absence. On pg. 34 it talks about “Initiation by the Superior.” This was the case with me. The Rule says “After consultation with the Council, a warning may be given by the Superior that a dismissal is being considered, including the reasons. Such a warning is to be given in writing or in the presence of two members of the Council.” This was not done in my case. I received no warning, either verbally or in writing.

“A solemnly professed member may be dismissed for grave reasons including the habitual neglect of the obligations of one’s profession, illegitimate absence, obdurate disobedience, or grave scandal.” None of these reasons were applicable to me. I met all of my profession’s obligations, I was never absent, I was obedient to a fault, and was never involved in a scandal. The Superior did issue a “Dispensation from Vows” to me, and it was told to me that I had to sign it in order to leave. At first I said I would not sign it, that I had asked for a Leave of Absence, not a Dispensation. I was then told I would not be driven to the bus if I didn’t sign it. After many hours of inner turmoil passed, I gave in and signed the Dispensation. This was all done through an atmosphere of coercion, not through a mutual agreement.

It states on pg. 35 that “…arrangements may be made at the time of separation to provide financial assistance. Such arrangements, if made, would be based upon the values of charity, equity, and justice.”  I contend that after 40 years of sacrificial, unpaid service to The Community of Jesus, $1,000 was not a charitable, equal or just compensation to start me off on a new life that I was unprepared to face. I also received no help in finding a place to live or employment. I received that help from family, friends and strangers after I had left.

Following are 2 quotes from people who wish to remain anonymous. They are from 2006 but what they say is still pertinent.

Posted on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 by Laetamini

“I would like to chime in about the leave-of-absence, since it was my post that was being quoted. You’re darn right it’s loosey-goosey. And while that sounds great, all that means is that there’s loads of wiggle room for leadership and a very unstable foundation for the membership on which to stand. Leave-of-absence is like many other aspects of life at the community, whether stated in the rule or merely understood in daily life. The allowance made for some and not at all for others are arbitrary, and in my case were not open for discussion.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 by Exmonk

“Your explanation of the “rule” and specifically, “leave of absence” only confirms the stated opinion (if not actually factual) that the individual in leadership uses that loose translation at his/her discretion. So in fact, the rule is manipulated as that individual leader so chooses to serve his/her designs and members requesting some time/space away are given varied responses.

So it potentially is at great risk for a member to request leave of absence since some who have were given the choice to permanently leave the organization under unfavorable circumstances or be denied temporary leave and receive disciplinary action and disgrace.

No one person should have that much power over one person much less a large group of people. God has given man free will to live and choose. This is a violation of that gift and is high demand cult oppression. And for the group to put complete trust in the free will of one person elected through proper or improper means, as the case may be, should not assume, under the mantle of Christianity, that such practice and control without other checks and balances in place…”