Gretchen’s Story – Part 3

Mystical Manipulation

“The group attributes supernatural influences where none are present: attributing an accident to a member who left to be due to “God’s punishment”, or manipulating situations so they appear spontaneous. Members believe that their new feelings and behavior have arisen spontaneously because of joining their new group. The effect is enhanced by the milieu control because dissenting or alternative ideas are not present.”

Now that I was being isolated in my thinking, the next step for me was to move into a group communal living type home with other “sisters” from this group. A member was placed in a home that was “best suited” for them, based on the decision of the main group leader, which in Omaha was Mike Zach.

In this sister’s home, I was entering into the second phase of mind control, which Robert Lifton calls Mystical Manipulation. In this phase all aspects of your life are given divine meanings, which persuade you to believe that the teachings of the group are the only true way to live for God.

When living in a communal Assembly home, your whole life became immersed in the “group think” of this cult. Everything was done for a purpose and everything you did was either a sign of God’s pleasure or displeasure with you.

We were taught that everything we did in the Assembly meetings reflected the dynamic life of the New Testament church in the Book of Acts. We were brainwashed to believe that most churches were missing out on God’s blessing, because they weren’t paying attention to the many details and high standards that we were being taught especially by George and other ‘gifted Assembly leaders’ like Mike Zach, Tim Geftakys, and Danny Edwards. This teaching was used to justify the very difficult life that a member of the Assembly lived.

We worked, were discipled or discipled others, or attended meetings constantly. In the group home you were given duties called stewardships. These were tailored to train you to be a servant both in your new home and in the “work of the Lord”. I was taught in this home that the place of a sister was to submit to the authority of the leadership, their wives, and also the authority of other “brothers” in the Assembly.

You were taught that your choices were constantly reflecting either a life full of God or a life full of the sinful person that you are. The way you cleaned your room, helped with meals, talked with your roommates, used your free time (the list was endless) all showed the state of your heart towards God.

»» Gretchen’s Story – Part 4

More on mystical manipulation in the Geftakys Assembly here and here.

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Margaret Irons and her husband Steve and three children were in the Fullerton Geftakys Assembly for twenty years. We left in March, 1990. We are still recovering and learning in Orange County, CA.

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