The Power of Cults: Recovery from Religion podcast

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I stumbled upon this podcast the other day. When I was 33 and entering a cult, there was little public awareness re cults or religious abuse, and when I was 38 and exiting, there still was little circulating on the subject. There were a few books re cults or religious abuse, but you had to search for them. That’s now changed. There’s now a lot of information circulating re cults, and the public is more aware. I’ve listened to several episodes on this podcast, all personal interviews with people who had experiences similar to mine. This episode, The Power of Cults, Podcast #15, is an interview with Dr. Janja Lalich whose work I’ve long admired, and who is an excellent resource for explaining the phenomena of cults, and how intelligent people get swept up by them and don’t leave.

Schmierer v. The Tribal Trust, 2018-NMCA-058 – ObiterDictum

—>Source: Schmierer v. The Tribal Trust, 2018-NMCA-058 – ObiterDictum

Informational article, but once again, I just want to say I wasn’t physically locked up. I feared leaving, because I was duped into believing that if I left I’d go to hell. This was my last chance. My prison was mental. Plus I couldn’t just leave my children.

And I didn’t escape. I could have left at any time. After 6 months of shaming, THEY kicked ME out.

This was clear in my deposition presented at trial in 1989 at the Sacramento Superior Court. In fact, the Judge said to me, “but you were free to leave.”

Yes, your honor,” I said, “but Deborah Green told me over and over that if I left I’d go to hell, and I was too afraid not to believe her. I was convinced that she was God’s prophet.”  

Moving away from fundamental Christianity

Yup, I am no longer a Christian fundamentalist. I no longer believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, or for that matter even inspired by a God. I wrestled with my faith after 30 years of holding it tight. Too many things made no sense.

In the beginning, questioning triggered night terrors: was I forsaking God, and was he therefore forsaking me? I visited a psychologist to help me get through, and I began researching the historical jesus, and the beginnings of Christianity. As a Christian I only read books to support my faith, and defend it. Now I was curious about the evidence on the other side.

What most set me free from a biblical mindset were the teachings of Bart Ehrman, professor of the New Testament at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Ehrman attended seminary to become a teacher of “God’s word,” but after examining the historical Jesus, the origins of Christianity, and the origins of the Bible, he became un-converted. I wanted to learn what he learned that changed his mind, that caused his paradigm shift.
My questions were answered by reading Misquoting Jesus: The Story of Who Changed the Bible and Why, and listening to The Historical Jesus, a class Ehrman teaches through the Great Courses. Like, do you know the gospels were not written by Jesus’s disciples? They were written 30–70 years after his death. Nobody really knows who wrote them. The names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were ascribed to them decades after they were written.
Ehrman points out errors in the gospels progression, like how Jesus became the “son of God” after baptism by John the Baptist in the gospel of Mark (scribed about 30 years after death), to “the son of God” in the womb in the gospel of John (scribed about 70 years after his death). And how in Mark Jesus had passover with his disciples before his death, but in John he died during the Passover, signifying that he was the sacrificial lamb of God. Ehrman’s study and writings opened my mind and liberated me from the ancient dogma of the Christian faith, and once again, the fear of hell.

 

MAURA SCHMIERER v. THE TRIBAL TRUST

—>Source: MAURA SCHMIERER v. THE TRIBAL TRUST JIM GREEN BRIGADIER GENERAL JIM GREEN LILA GREEN BRIGADIER GENERAL LILA GREEN FREE LOVE MINISTRIES AGGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY MISSION TRAINING CORPS

It’s been a long drama, but after nearly twenty years the verdict regarding the transfer of my 1989 CA judgment to New Mexico, against the Greens, or ACMTC, is finally in, first from the court of appeals, then from the NM Supreme Court: my law suit is NOT time barred. Unbelievable, I know: it’s so ancient! Once again, my thoughts are that we reap what we sow. The Greens and their army of followers eluded this CA judgment for over 30 years, moving, changing personal names, changing organization’s name multiple times, purchasing property with cash, money orders, hiding properties under another’s name, and further hiding properties in fake trusts. Basically, their deceitful actions voided any time bar.

the incarcerated Deborah Green

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Nailed, but not to the cross. This is not persecution, not martyrdom. This is incarceration for horrible crimes committed.

I swear I can sometimes feel her suffering. I feel Jim more though.

 

 

TEDx talk: I grew up in a cult. It was heaven and hell.

OUTSTANDING, POIGNANT, POWERFUL, UPBEAT!  What a light! Lilia Tarawa intricately and eloquently describes how heaven and hell can be entwined within the cult environment.

Jim Green’s sentencing

With a plea deal Jim received 10 years of incarceration, followed by 3 1/2 years of probation. Word is that during sentencing he cried and apologized to M.G. for the terrible way she was treated.
Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 11.57.29 AMJim is the one with the heart. Yes, he was Deborah’s accomplice, he’s culpable for the abuse done, and he lied to cover things up. But my thoughts toward Jim have always been that he was duped just like the rest of us. He honestly believed that his wife received visions and prophesies from God. Per recently defected ACMTC members, Jim grew conflicted over the years because of Deborah’s demands.

Such was the case in 2005 when this article appeared in the Gallup Independent: https://culteducation.com/group/801-aggressive-christianity-missionary-training-corps/1454-general-sense-of-well-beings.html

plea deal

No second trial for Deborah Green. They did a plea bargain. Deborah pled no contest to first degree child abuse in the case of 12-year-old Enoch who died of the flu (autopsy suggesting sinus infection) on ACMTC’s compound. Enoch had no birth certificate, no death certificate, and received no medical care. Law enforcement had long received multiple complaints and concerns from families who hadn’t seen nor heard from their loved ones in years, cut off by command of “General” Deborah Green. Discovering Enoch’s death prompted a deeper investigation into the Greens, giving authorities reason to dig.

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Deborah received an additional 18 years to her already 72 year sentence. She will die in prison. Alone. Justice served.

But Enoch’s life was far too short-lived.

 

all pending matters hearing

All pending matters hearing is tomorrow at the Valencia County Courthouse, so I think by tomorrow night it should be known if Deborah Green faces a second trial. Or not. It could go either way.

Sarah Green

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 10.38.25 AMThirty-five years ago in my mind Sarah and Joshua Green were the lucky ones. I mean, what applied to my and other’s children didn’t always apply to them. They had hamsters, dogs, Josh had model cars, model airplanes, and Sarah collected antiques. Steve made our kids throw their fun into the garbage: Nathan his legos, Ruth her doll, Simon his guitar. Plus Sarah and Josh got away with doing things the other kids couldn’t.

But today I look back, and I realize I was wrong. They suffered immensely. Joshua because he could never break free of his mom and dad’s will, their grip, their claim on his life for their “army.” It was all he knew. If he left, where would he go, what would he do? Sarah because she had her own mind, her own dreams apart from what her mom and dad planned for her. I remember the first time she ran away as Jim and Lila prepared to leave for the Philippines. They had to cancel their flight, and after finding her the next day, they rebooked their flights, and they took her with them, and when they returned they left her there for five long months. They were going to teach her a lesson.

I can only speculate why Jim and Deborah arranged for Sarah to marry Mike Brandon, then Peter Royce, now Peter Green, when she was 17 years old. Mike was a favorite of the Green’s, a diehard believer (as into her as my ex) that Deborah received daily “words of the spirit” from God.  And Peter’s family not only supported their son’s choice “to serve god,” they also financially gave to the “ministry.” So it was a win-win for Sarah to Mary Peter, plus it would keep Sarah put, at lest for awhile.

(This was Peter’s second marriage within ACMTC. His first wife, Mary Royce, apparently didn’t buy all the way in. Deborah told Peter to drive her to Reno, and to drop her off somewhere on the side of the road. She was several months pregnant. Former members say Deborah despised Mary, declaring her evil, and ordered Peter to drive to her to Reno to get rid of her.)

Sarah and Mike had two boys, plus Sarah cared for M.G. (who landed Deborah in prison on charges of mental, physical, and sexual child abuse) as her own. Sarah loved M.G. I can only imagine the conflict she endured as she watched the very fabric of her life being torn. She loved those babies, but because of her parent’s psychotic claim on her life, and now on the lives of her children, she knew that if she left, she couldn’t take her babies. Peter and her mom and dad would not have it. They’d stand in her way, block her from going out the gate.  So on the most difficult day of her life, Sarah ran away, leaving her children behind, hitchhiking from New Mexico to Washington where a former ACMTC member lived, staying in homeless shelters along the way. She would later return to N.M. to try to get her kids, but to no avail.

Last month I was anxious to see Sarah again. I knew she was also subpoenaed to Deborah’s trial. I’d tried in vain over the years to find her. She was 12 years old last I saw her, and now she’s 46. Was she angry with me for exposing her mom and dad, and all the trouble I’ve caused them? Was she really going to testify AGAINST her mother?

I met her as we being escorted to the courthouse in a car. “Okay, let’s do this, she said, “I love my mombut she’s crazy.” And on our last night in NM, on the day she gave testimony against her mother, she said, “I felt absolutely no emotion seeing her. She’s like an empty shell.” 

I gave her a card with a painting of a cactus on the front, with the inscription, I’m sorry I’m such a prick. I told her I was sorry for all the pain and heartache she’s suffered over the years, and sorry if I added to it by my lawsuit and all that occurred after.

Tears fell down her beautiful face and she flung her arms around me, holding me tight. “My mother’s a monster,” she said,  “All the shame I felt, leaving my babies. I had to escape, I just had to, and there’s no way I could have taken my babies with.”

“Those memories will never go away”, I said, “but the shame, the blame, the guilt: those don’t belong to you, they belong to Deborah. 

In the end she gave me something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Holding me tight she says to me, “thank you for paving the way.” 

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 9.03.18 AMBack row: Deborah, Jim, Joshua, Peter (behind Filipino man), and Sarah (Circa 1983). Peter was about 10 years older than Sarah, and he currently awaits trial for 100 counts of child rape. 

IMG_2715                                                              Sarah and my son Nate, reunited after 20 years.   

IMG_2717                                                                Julie and Sarah.

So Sarah left ACMTC running, and she hasn’t stopped. Today at age 46 she’s a triathlete. She’s run 27 marathons, and says it’s how she copes with her past.