In the 1970’s there was a big Jesus Movement going on and many cults formed, some famous and others went underground. One such group formed out of a network of fellowships of young people who wanted to follow Jesus. I met and joined this group but unlike the majority of the others I was already a Christian, joining to gain more bible knowledge. This was a very nice loose knit trusting group of young people whose lives were later irreputably damaged, some beyond control and others are still captive to what turned into madness.
A narcissistic sociopath who married a 16 yr old girl and saddled her with 5 children, was a HS grad with plans on making a cyclotron and later through his mental illness and greed for power and money was living in a broken down bus and later low income housing as an outcast heard of these young people.
He did some research, made up some off the wall bible studies and introduced himself to these kids and gradually brought in his ‘special knowledge’ bible studies. He was charismatic, ingenious, a con man and visited often and started slowly to use his cunning devilish understanding of human nature to gain trust and encouraged the kids to keep witnessing and making the group larger and larger for the kingdom of God or so they thought. He always talked of the day they would have 1000 members together to give God glory [failing to mention he was setting himself to be the God they had to glory!]
AS the time drew close, his wife then about 30, knew what he had been doing to her all those years and was now preparing to launch on these unwitting youth, stood up to him and tried to stop him. Being the narcissist he was, he cleverly devised a plan to discredit her, long before the 1000 meeting arrived and by that time he convinced his then followers to start to support him in his studies ,as he was going to be the one to expose the Antichrist when the end times arrived.
He meanwhile was beginning to brainwash a young impressionable teenaged girl that had become one of his many secretaries and his wife tried to tell everyone that he planned on dumping her for this young girl.
This guy was then about 39 yrs old. The time came for the 1000 meeting and he announced that the group was now large enough and committed enough to apply for status as a ”real church’, mind you he had no bible degrees. Everyone was excited to be recognized as part of a ‘real church’. He then pretended to have every vote on a new name for the church and after the voting, since there were so many possibilities, that he suggested the name [he already chosen ahead of time] which was the Church of Bible Understanding, later referred to as the COBU.
Shortly after he staged different events to drive his wife away and discredit her enough to be able to gain sympathy from the group to divorce her and have the group pay for it and help him gain custody of his children. He said he needed his children to fulfill the requirements of being able to lead the new church, since he claimed he ‘had to have rule over his own household and all agreed.
In summer of 1975 his wife was cast out and he was in the driver’s seat. Until that time everyone had their own ‘worldly’ jobs and only contributed to the costs of their own fellowships, like roommates do and when a meeting was held that he spoke at, a love offering was taken up.
Now the change began in Spring of 1976. Word was sent out that tax status was approved. Now instead of some who were out of work and didn’t eat [ as they didn’t share food in the fellowships, since IF you don’t work you don’t eat” was the justification in the bible. I was by then in my 4th fellowship, that I began to feed everyone, regardless to if they worked and paid for it or not, out of my own earnings.
He came and asked me why and I told him that it was cheaper for me to cook a large meal and share it than to simply eat out in restaurants and know somebody was hungry at home. He pondered it and said I had a good idea. What I didn’t realize he was going to use my idea to further swindle everyone.
Word was sent out that we now were going to take advantage of the new tax exemption by ‘donating our entire salaries’ and as a group could buy things wholesale, including food and clothing and all benefit from it. If you needed something, you simply had to put in a request [however doing so would indicate you were in the flesh and not sacrificing so few put in any requests]
Some center leaders left as they knew it was wrong, but he placed new leaders in power to encourage everyone to give it their all. After all the bible said all who believed were together and shared everything in common. He found verses to back up all his new militant actions and the majority complied. Disgruntled were quickly discredited and most left. He no longer needed them, there were many new ones joining every day.
His next move was to announce that since his wife ‘backslid’ that Jesus wanted him to have a family with a wife that obeyed Jesus and amazingly it was the same girl his wife said he was after a year earlier!
This caused more to leave the group, who knew the truth. He didnt care, because as he often spoke about priming the pump…once we passed the 1000 mark, he had plenty to fall back on.
Now all the salaries were being collected and he gradually had his lieutenants close down the regular houses and they bought up old dilapidated warehouses and began filtering people into the warehouses, most were uninhabitable by any legal standards. He uprooted people systematically from the cities they lived at and moved them to the ‘PIT’ as it was called in NYC. He didn’t care who skipped out or escaped because he had a dedicated workforce that went out daily recruiting, thinking they were serving God still and bringing in new converts. The difference was that everyone was split up and those meaning well didn’t know what he was actually doing, but thought they were serving God still. He now had a following, money and power and by dislocating his followers kept all off balanced, created the jobs he wanted them to do in NYC and he reaped all the money of their labors and still does to this day.
To cover up some of his game, he opened a ‘mission’ in Haiti to make his new ‘church’ look legitimate and to fool any new converts, as they were working for a “good cause”. What really was happening was that he was collecting enormous donations, supposedly to help the starving children in Haiti, taking the physical donations and selling them on e-bay and in a sub store making millions!
Meanwhile he had a slave labor force estimated at about 1000 and for years afterwards varying amounts of people. He had his followers target many homeless people in NYC and take them in, give them showers and a change of clothing and put them to work. In exchange people were given $1 a day and still do, but some don’t even get the$1~ To maintain control, people are continuously brainwashed that to leave is to backslide and go to Hell. While ‘in’ they are deprived of all outside news and social activity, so they are then unable to re-enter the world. These people have become collectively ‘his wife’ and he abuses them all, as any narcissist would. He doesn’t live with them.They live in squalor. He now has 4personal jets, and a condo in Florida that no one can approach. He has cultivated ‘underlings’ running it and reporting to him. He comes and mentally beats everyone up telling them such, “If you leave you will commit suicide” and ” You will be a homosexual and homeless” and the like.
Out of fear and mental exhaustion, some have now stayed ‘in’ for over 30 yrs and he has them so brainwashed and isolated that no one can do a thing.They are powerless to change. Many current and former members can not even agree as to whether this is a cult!
They have been told that if it were a cult that they believed in vain and that shatters them even more. Some have already committed suicide and other have died. He exploits the deaths as God’s wrath for disobeying him and therefore keeps many captives and many on the outside impotent to lead normal lives. I am talking about 40,000+ people over a 34 year span!~~~
There have been a few investigations into the group. One of their side businesses “Christian Brothers Carpet Cleaning” in NYC has even been mentioned jokingly in an old Seinfeld skit. People that finally break away are often too afraid to talk as they fear going to Hell… He has them sewed up in believing his lies. SOME, a few hundred anyway have banded together on line in a private group to discuss all that has happened to them in the group and since they left the group. Some have rejoined the cult at times and left again. Some have re-entered organized religion and have survived although deeply scarred for life, others have become recluses and misfits , mentally handicapped or entered abusive marriages with lesser narcissists because of the brainwashing they received and familiarity to being mistreated as being normal.
This leader, however, still lives in luxury, did marry that 19 yr old over 30 yrs ago and now that her health is failing from an accident, has already lined up the young daughter of an outcast member who is powerless to save his daughter!
Everyone can agree that he is a narcissist and not of God. Some do however still have conflicts as to whether he ever even believed in God. Marriages were basically banned since no one was worthy to be married [as an unnecessary expense] and there are few that have managed to marry and remain in the group. Marriages were broken up routinely and he took on a series of ‘half-wives’ who were women not allowed to marry anyone but to become part of his harem.
The survivors group is getting stronger and some have gone in and out of the cult trying to rescue others they care about. Til now no gov’t agency has been able to crack the group and hold this maniac accountable. Some members have been in for 30+ yrs and fear the outside too much. The leader is now in his 70’s and the consensus is, that he will someday be causing them all to commit mass suicide once like Jim Jones.
If you have dealt with lesser men of his nature, who have devastated their families and or communities, if you can address this issue you might help save the lives of hundreds of people and help heal the hurts of all those in the survivors groups, who still struggle daily over this injustice and inhumanity that this fiend perpetrates on us all.
I was witness to many of the things that took place during the transition and have access to many files dealing with the things he committed to back up what I have told here. I am in contact with some of the survivors privately online and if you can bring this to light you can do a tremendous service to God and mankind.
I hope this story isn’t overlooked and that you can bring it to the public’s awareness. I have alot of research to support what I am telling you and can probably supply you more witnesses to prove it all. Many are afraid to come forward or have their names known. Others, like me are no longer afraid for ourselves but for those still in his clutches.