Information was deliberately held back. A lot of the workings of the Community were on a need to know basis. If you were picked to be part of a group, then you would know some things, but you did not share your information outside of the particular group. If you were not part of a group, you knew better than to even ask. The inner group would meet, but the rest of us had no clue what they were meeting about. We would just be told the decisions and how it affected our daily lives, where we lived, work/life schedules.
This was true even with something as huge as building the new church. It was not a group decision. We were told God had given the go ahead to do it. We did have Chapter meetings that everyone attended and we did vote to go ahead with it and to borrow money to pay for it. But for me, and I suspect for most of the others as well, I would have rather died than to have publicly disagreed. I can’t tell you how many elections we had that put the current leader in charge where I held the black and white balls and told myself, put the black ball in, no one will see you, vote your conscience. And at the time the box reached me I put the white ball in. I was too scared that someone would see me still holding the white ball, and I would be “spoken” to. (Being spoken to was being raked over the coals)
Information was distorted to make it more “acceptable”. This happened a lot about the founders’ illnesses, and certainly hiding any suspicion that they might have a drinking problem, mental problem,s or be lesbians. We were told that their living together in the “Study” and sharing a bedroom was a holy partnership, and had no sexual involvement. They wanted us to think they were mainline Christians, and their stance was that homosexuality was against the teaching of the Bible. At the same time they were living opposite to what they told us. The hypocrisy is the sin.
Deception was also used in how they handled the Chronicle articles of 20+ years ago. They told us that the articles and videos were full of lies, that the members who had left, the dissenters, were blowing everything out of proportion, and the media loved scandals and so were exaggerating everything, and that it was all biased against us. We were told to not watch the video or read the newspaper, that it would “just upset us”.
Since leaving and watching the full content of the Chronicle videos I can testify that all the accusations from the “dissenters” were true.
The leader has lied outright on the Chronicle TV interview when she said there were no more light sessions going on. At that very time they were going on, and there have continued to be light sessions. We just didn’t use that term anymore, but the structure and format and what goes on in them had not changed. She also lied when she said children were not taken away from their parents and put into other houses. Over the years we did change slightly and go through the formality of “asking” the parents if they agreed to the move, but the social pressure has always been there to say yes, whether you agreed or not.
As far as “critical information” goes, I seriously had never heard this term before leaving CJ and did not know that critical thinking was a positive and valuable thing to do. It was considered worldly and rebellious to think too much about spiritual things. The mind was supposed to take a back seat to the spirit, as interpreted by the leaders.