Gretchen’s Story – Readers’ Comments

Comments from Readers December 2004, Bob Franzese, an AK from Omaha: "I would like to commend Gretchen W. on her well thought-out and extremely well written article about the Assembly in Omaha and the major issues that surrounded it. It was flat-out spot-on accurate. I am sure it took a lot of courage to write…

Gretchen’s Story – Conclusion

We now know the Assembly is a cult Wellspring Retreat has characterized the Geftakys Assembly as a T.A.C.O. -- a Totalist Aberrant Christian Organization. Refer to the article "Identifiying a Cult" for a good summary of cult characteristics. The Omaha Assembly was led almost exclusively by Mike Zach. He still holds a strong influence over…

Gretchen’s Story – Part 9

"The group's totalist environment emphasizes that the members are part of an elite or special group. Outsiders are considered unworthy or unenlightened. This leads to the thinking that their whole existence centers on being in the group. If you leave, you join nothingness. This is an extension of doctrine over person. Existence comes to depend…

Gretchen’s Story – Part 8

"As members rewrite their own personal history or ignore it, they are simultaneously taught to interpret reality through the group concepts and ignore their own experiences and feelings as they occur. Members learn to fit themselves into the group's way of life and individuals are valued only as they conform to group doctrine." My counselor…

Gretchen’s Story – Part 7

"The group's language serves the purpose of constructing their thinking and shutting down critical thinking abilities. "Groupspeak" forces members to censor, edit and slow down spontaneous bursts of criticism or opposite ideas. Soon members find it easier to talk among themselves than with outsiders, who are given derogatory names such as "of Satan," "unconverted," etc."…

Gretchen’s Story – Part 6

"The teachings of the group are viewed as the ultimate, unquestionable truth. The leader of the group is likewise above criticism as the spokesperson for God on earth, whose Truth should be applied to all humankind. Anyone who disagrees or has alternative ideas is not only irreverent, but also unscientific. Mystical manipulation often lends credence…

Gretchen’s Story – Part 5

"Past and present behavior, and undesirable feelings are to be confessed. However, the information gained about you can be used against you to make you feel more guilty, powerless, fearful and ultimately in need of the group and the leader's goodness. This environment is set up by the unreasonable demand for purity." There was a…

Gretchen’s Story – Part 4

Demand for Purity "Unreasonable rules and unreachable standards are imposed upon the members. The critical, shaming essence of the cult environment is gradually internalized by the members, which builds lots of guilt and shame, further magnifying their dependence on the group. Individuals easily feel inadequate, but are more willing to submit to this because the…

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…

Why call it “cultic”?….

In her book Not of My Making Maggie Jones discusses the horrible treatment she received in several mainline churches. Those churches were not cults; they were just your normal boulevard churches. So if even ordinary churches can sometimes be so hurtful, why do we imply that the Geftakys Assembly was somehow "cultic"? Are we just "disgruntled"…

Dr. Jones’ answer….

Saturday I posted my question to Dr. Jones regarding her book, Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches. Here is Dr. Jones' reply: Margaret Irons asked me, “What can persons who have formerly been abusive do now to make amends and help their former victims (with whom they are no longer in…

Virtual book tour….

Dr. Margaret W. Jones, author of Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches, will stop by here Monday on her virtual book tour to answer questions. One question I have for her is this: What can persons who have formerly bullied folks and been abusive do now to make amends to their…

False teachers and fruit….

Reading in Matthew I came across the passage in the sermon on the mount about false teachers. Jesus gives a strong warning - "Watch out for them!" He gives one way - and only one -  by which to recognize them: their fruit. Gal 5:22 immediately comes to mind - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,…