The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Discussion of cultural, religious, political or irrational subjects of any type, such as UFOs, wacko cults, mad dictators, horrible cult bands, ridiculous publications, whatever
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The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:27 pm

On the old board I started a thread that evolved into "Strelnikov tells stories about all the crappy religious schools he went to", but it started off as a "let's tell personal horror stories about crazy things happening at church/synagogue/temple/mosque, etc." As that went nowhere, I just started recounting what happened in chapels and it grew from there. I don't want that again, so I am opening the thread up to news stories of religious abuse, weird preaching, church crime, so on. I really don't want this to become a Scientology-bashing thread; they are too easy a target now. If you want to knock the House that L. Ron Built, start your own thread, please.

There are some pieces from the original thread that need to be saved, like my Ken Ham story, or Mr. Barbour's story about the Baptist church that split in two with the congregants screaming at the other church on Sundays.
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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:37 am

Something found on Christian Nightmares:
(Original video was yanked so here is an Everything is Terrible remix of a Mike Warnke "Christian comedy" videotape) https://vimeo.com/271257353

"I went to a Pentecostal messianic Jewish cult school where I was taught to exorcise demons from my classmates and speak in tongues, and had these insane engineered psychedelic experiences,” he elaborates. “People were lifting my arms up to worship while kids lay convulsing on the floor, talking about seeing their dead grandparents. It was flat-out insanity, and I should have been writing about that.” Why wasn’t he? “I didn’t want anyone to know about my upbringing. It’s still a major source of pain and confusion. I didn’t get to choose my childhood, and I felt doomed. The further I get from those experiences, the more of a sense of humour about it I have. In a broad sense, I mean. I don’t think it’s hilarious or anything.”

- Father John Misty (Joshua Tillman) talking about his background to The Guardian newspaper last year. Quoted by ex-Fundamentalist-pastor-now-atheist Bruce Gerencser in a blog post about Tillman.


The song declared by many to be the theme of law school graduates,
"Bored in the USA" by Father John Misty.

https://vimeo.com/28393855
Everything is Terrible! goes after Peter Ruckman (1921-2016).

An oldie but a goodie: Chicago Magazine in 2012, recounting the generational sexual scandals of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana....from Jack Hyles, his son David, to the son-in-law then-pastor Jack Schaap, this shows it all plainly without the sanctimony of the Fundamentalist press.
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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:08 am

Posts taken from the old board:

Insane chapels

They won't tell you this, but Christian religious education in America heavily rips off Catholic models, even in the Fundamentalist Christian schools. I went to both secular and religious private schools (the ragtag collection of private schools in my area was slowly collapsing during my primary school education) and Wednesday morning was always blown on "chapel." In Episcopal school it was mostly music and a short message, but inside Fundamentalism it was either the pastor/principal ranting about something after a few crappy hymns, or a guest, and if the topic was broad enough, the entire school would wind up in the church to listen. We had some real characters come and speak in chapel:

There was this bitter Scandinavian man who had been sneaking Bibles into the Soviet Union though the Helsinki "entrance" (the most common way Western tourists entered the USSR.) I can't remember how he did it (secret bottoms in luggage?), but that he was dour and scowling the whole time, I never forgot. They had to be Russian translations of the King James Bible because it is the only one that counts inside Fundamentalism.

At another school we were "lucky" enough to get "The Donut Man" before he had his Christian Cable TV show. It was a full-school chapel of two campuses in one room (had to be more than five hundred children) and all I can really remember is that he yelled at some second-grade student for moving in his pew in the back. As with the Bible smuggler, I can't remember a word of what he said.

Same school as Bible smuggler, they had a layman preach and he had whistling teeth. Older guy, possibly had dentures, but whatever the case, he whistled when he talked.

Elderly female missionary to India; made dolls of the Indian villagers she dealt with, unfortunately wore a sari which did nothing for her. We had a full-school chapel for her.

The family of country western missionaries who showed up in a converted Greyhound bus; I think it was husband-wife-son. We also had full-school chapel for them.

A common thing for the high school seniors was to sit through (with the rest of the school) one of the traveling song and dance crews sent from the big Fundy colleges to attract possible students. They changed the theme every year. I had to watch college students debase themselves to a Hee Haw knockoff called "Country Corn", and all I could be was embarrassed.

All of the schools (and they were three) where I saw these bizarre performances are now defunct, the Donut Man became a Catholic, and God only knows what happened to rest.

Sketchy Areas

A real problem with religious schools are the areas they are in. The Episcopal school was in a town that had really gone to seed, so we had crazies yelling at the students running the block, or street people asking for rides as parents picked up children after school. The Bible smuggler school had a series of break-ins during a number of summers, culminating in a break-in of the church itself. All of it was extremely minor vandalism, which makes me think it was an inside job. They also had teens and/or winos jump the fence and booze up/smoke cigarettes in the massive playground, we found the broken beer bottles and cig butts. The worst place was this Lutheran high school where we used the park across the street for gym. One student was mugged for his obnoxious Chicago Bulls full-length jacket, two were threatened for a basketball after school, and derelict car was burned to the ground over the Christmas holiday. They later moved the school to another location.

The Ultimate Insane Chapel?

It should be said that not all of the chapel guest speakers stuck out - there were a number who were just white male ranters, or who had lame gimmicks.....

And then there was Ken Ham, the Australian creationist loony, who came because the kids asked him to show up.

It was a rainy day, we had to stay in, by sheer luck the church had rented some anti-evolution 16mm film, and Ken Ham was the most exciting thing on it. The pastor-principle made some calls (Ham was in the area, "working" at this young-Earth creationism institute that later moved to Texas) thus two or three weeks later there he was in the chapel room. And it was an unmitigated disaster. Why? Have you ever seen Ken Ham? He's built like a skyscraper and he has the face of a bad chainsaw sculpture. He scared the piss out of the students present, and to make it worse he had no lecture, he wanted a Q and A session. I lobbed a couple weak questions* just to keep the dead air at bay, but it was an anticlimax.

The reader has to understand that I had gone to more sane private schools before this one; I knew about evolution and dinosaurs, I read science magazines so I knew our knowledge on evolution and palentology was rapidly changing. But at the school I'm dealing with crazy ideologues who have American Jesus as their sky buddy, so I have to play this game of not being outspoken about what I know to avoid being yelled at. Their view of the topic pretty much evolved (no pun intended) into the Internet's Right-wing Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, that academia created a monster and it is destroying American culture - in CM it's political correctness, in Creationism it's evolution. Evolution is this endless boogyman that birthed all the problems of the 20th century (the Scopes trial drove the Fundies crazy) because it lead to doubting Jeebus. Question any of it and you are a bad person, even though Creationism was changing because scientists were shooting down every debunking of evolution the "creation scientists" were coming up with. Ken Ham believes in the Noah story, believes that Tyrannosaurs are somehow vegetarians* because of the Book of Genesis, believes that nothing is changing because God made it that way.

_________________________________________

* He told me himself that T. Rexes have weak teeth so they had to be vegetarians, even though herbivores have flat grinding teeth. If you actually know how biology works, none of his worldview makes sense.

Lame gimmick preachers included people with trick "bibles" that had flames coming out, used popular culture as a hook, or had stupid slogans on T-shirts.

Having lived religious private school, I have no love for the charter school movement, even though most of those clowns are backed by "education companies" and not Bible-bangers. Without (illegal) government money these places would live as long as the average Fundie school, which is about twenty years. I spoke to one ex-Fundie teacher online once; she had been with one school for five years and they had changed names three or four times in the fifteen years the school had lasted. She didn't say but my guess was that churches had been picking up and dropping the school after finding out what a drain it is to run one. Twenty years is long enough to cycle through two or three pastors with the last guy recognizing that the kids in the school are no longer the children of his flock, who are all working or going to college, so the prime Fundie rule of "we only take care of our own" comes in and the school ends....or all the bad debts from running the school finally kills the church, though I have seen pastors change locations to save both.

Notes:

All of these stories happened in the same county over a fifteen-year period. Every school but the Lutheran high school is defunct, and that place had a history of changing locations before and after I attended; they started out of a small two-story building behind a Lutheran church, then moved to a closed public school, then back to the two-story building (I went there the first year they were back), then moved a few blocks to the buildings of a Catholic church they converted to a school and then sold back to the diocese after a few years. Their present location is next to a large tract housing complex, where they work out of modular trailers ringed around a chapel/administrative building. At one point they wanted to build a snazzy permanent school building, but they don't have enough students now to pull it off.

The school where Ken Ham and the Scandinavian Bible smuggler and Ol' Whistling Teeth had "performed" at carried the unimaginative name of [town the school was located in] Christian School which was a ministry of [street the church was on] Baptist Church. They were a church from the early 1960s and a school from the mid-1970s. By the 2000s it had gone though a series of pastors, and the last guy decided to sell the buildings a few years ago after changing the name of the church. He moved the organization to a defunct Lutheran church (one with a large Sunday school building) in a neighboring town, and started a new school under that same name, Shiloh.

The school the Donut Man had preached at was far less hard-core then Unimaginative Baptist Church, and so you saw less ranty missionaries show up. They even had a week of them, so you could go from room to room seeing these guys do their "acts." This is where I got to see the worst version of Jeopardy! possible, the missionary with the fake flaming bible (open the cover and flames came out), and the guy who tried to convert people in Brazil who had this endless looping videotape of a Candomblé service intercut with drums and shots of African-style fetish statues. He called that "witchcraft", and condemned the syncretic nature of most Brazilian religion. This place went under by the time I graduated from high school.
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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:41 pm

A dumb Lutheran High story

So when I showed up at Lutheran High, they had just moved from an abandoned public grade school campus back to this church* and it's two story outbuilding. The entire property sloped up from the street the church was on then stopped because the rest of the property was a slope, and the outbuilding was built into that bank, which was staggered and there was a chain link fence to keep people from falling off the property. Below our school was a Mormon church which was probably the stake center for the area because it was pretty large, and they had this large open parking lot. One of the seniors (I'm calling him Curlyhair McDouche) had pulled some stunt the previous year and it was decided that he would be suspended for one day, and this was the first day of the first week. I knew this because I saw the principal (who looked like he should have been managing a Cadillac dealership - 1958 flat-top haircut in a suit) and the math professor (who looked like John Astin with Sonny Bono's hair) pretty much lay the law down on McDouche the first day in public. I think McDouche was shocked, because the next day he drove his Jeep down to that Mormon stake parking lot at lunchtime and blared whatever crap he had on a mixtape, then did this goofy laugh and peeled out after five minutes of music and (I think) drinking a can of beer. I think they gave up on him because he was nearly done anyway.
___________________________________

* That place was always cold even in May.

The outbuilding school was also below the grade of the Lutheran church parking lot so you would only see the roof and the tops of door frames from a distance, and it was further obscured by a short fence to keep parking cars from driving off the edge. There were two small, short stairways to access the building and the second story had a railed walkway to get to the rooms in the back - the environs of the building were cement, dirt on the pad below, and this cliff covered in iceplant.

If I could do a memoir of my time in religious school, I would title it God Farts: an adolescence wasted.
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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by ericbarbour » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:20 pm

Reposted:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pensacola_Christian_College

Heh heh. Fought over like crazy since 2006, repeatedly grows and shrinks as the years go by thanks to PCC students/staff/whatever showing up to fight with resident freaks like Will Beback, Orlady and especially Doug Weller, plus random IPs and assorted characters. 33k bytes right now, it once reached 45k. This is one of the great unnoticed editwars. PCC has been trying to "go straight" in recent years and become accredited and accepted as a "mainstream Christian college" but you would have trouble believing that after reading their WP article. It is NOT neutral.

Two people/socks/whatever are clearly on Wikipedia to either shit on PCC and related subjects or glorify it. I seriously wonder who these really are.
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit ... &redlink=1
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit ... &redlink=1

If anyone else wants to repost anything, here is the archive.org link. Maybe it will work for you--I can't access pages after the top one. Weird error message.
http://web.archive.org/web/201607202120 ... or-stories

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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:45 am

Jack Hyles, The First Baptist Church of Hammond, and all the misery Hyles caused.

Eric Barbour wanted me to write about this subject....Jack Hyles (1926-2001) was the pastor of one of the first megachurches, the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana located thirty miles from Chicago. He was not the first pastor of the church (which had been around since 1888) but on being installed as pastor in 1959, Hyles switched the church from being a mainline American Baptist Convention house of worship to the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist theology Hyles had preached in his native Texas, though he himself had started out in 1949 as a stock Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated preacher. Hyles grew the church using the bus ministry, bussing kids and carless adults in from all around the Chicagoland area in repainted schoolbuses with the slogan "world's largest Sunday school" and the church name and address on the sides. Within a few years Hyles was able to grow his church from 15,000 to 30,000; he had a private Christian school, and Hyles-Anderson College. As with all IFB churches, there were insane rules (some unwritten) about how to dress, hair length, what sort of clothes the women could wear while attending services, and the schools had similar crazy rules and a demerit system, which means that you can be expelled from Hyles-Anderson for not having a clean dorm room.

Of course, all of this authoritarianism hid the rot at the center - Hyles was the IFB version of Jim Jones; he had gotten these people to give up their old religion for his crazier version of it, and he was creating a system of mind control. What blew everything up was the 1989 revelation that Jack Hyles had been keeping his married secretary Betty Nischik as an paid escort in a decade-plus affair, and that he was forcing Victor Nischik (the husband) to live in his own basement and yet pay rent to his wife! Nischik later wrote The Wizard of God (1990) to explain what it was like to be a deacon in Hyles' church. He also went on the tabloid TV show A Current Affair in 1991:



This 2013 article in Chicago magazine lays out the sort of control-freak, child-abusing cult the First Church of Hammond, Indiana still is. What makes it worse is that, through Hyles-Anderson College's seminary program, there are all these Jack Hyles clones running around. For example you get:

William A. “Andy” Beith, 44
Former principal at Liberty Baptist Academy, Lake Station, Indiana
Convicted in 2002 of crossing state lines with the intent to have sex with an 11-year-old girl.
The defunct website Conservative Babylon says this about Beith: Had sex, on multiple occasions, with one of his students, an 11-year-old girl, then took off with her across the country, landing in Las Vegas, where Beith planned to “set up housekeeping,” marry, and have babies with the child....[captured] in Las Vegas, where he pleaded guilty in 2001 to crossing state lines with the intent of having sex with a minor. Local and state charges were dropped so that federal prosecutors could take care of the case. (He did, after all, transport her across eleven state lines.)


or

Joseph D. Combs, 67
Former pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Bristol, Tennessee
Convicted in 2000 of kidnapping and abusing a minor.
Conservative Babylon says: In May, 2000, Judge Jerry Beck sentenced Joe Combs to a total of 114 years in prison, and Evangeline Combs [his wife] to 65 years. Combs was also "ex-head, Hyles-Anderson College Bible Department."


or

Mark Foeller
Claim to fame: Yet another in a long line of Hyles-Anderson College graduates (who also served as deacon and
volunteer bus driver for Jack Hyles‘ First Baptist Church) accused of molesting children
The lowdown:Mark Foeller, the volunteer bus driver, has four counts of first- and second-degree child sexual assault pending against him in Washtenaw County, [Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie] said. Seven additional charges were brought against Foeller last week [in 1992] in neighboring Jackson County. (Source Conservative Babylon.)


or

Christopher Settlemoir, 33
Former pastor of Antioch Baptist Academy, Warren, Michigan
Convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting a minor.


The list is endless....one of the names that should be mentioned is David Hyles, son of Jack Hyles. Bruce Gerencser, former IFB pastor and now atheist, has a number of posts on David Hyles, becuse Hyles is trying to "restore" himself so he can preach again. Why isn't he preaching now? Bruce has a quote from the good ol' Conservative Babylon:

Claims to fame: Son of Jack Hyles; former Youth Minister, First Baptist Church of Hammond; ex-pastor, Miller Road Baptist Church (Garland, Texas); accused serial adulterer; divorcé; cohabitator; alleged child abuser; suspected child killer

Moral apex: As the story goes (we don’t know; we weren’t there), somebody at Hyles’s church discovered porn magazines containing ads for group sex which, they reportedly claimed, featured photos of Hyles having sex with church member Brenda Stevens (by some accounts, the daughter of a deacon). A story soon surfaced that Hyles had had extramarital sex with some 19 female members of the church.

Every one of these women was apparently stupid enough to think she was Brother Dave’s “one-and-only,” according to a voice on a taped phone conversation attributed to Dave’s wife Paula. And, as you can guess, it appears more than a few marriages where destroyed when the truth came out.

What happened next: It appears to outsiders that Miller Road Baptist threw him out, and his wife divorced him and took off with their two kids, and he started living with Stevens (out of — gasp! — wedlock) in Illinois.

Where it gets really tragic: Stevens had a small son, Brent. Dave Hyles was suspected of abusing the boy — who had suffered some eight or nine broken bones in his short life, which had never been treated. Brent was taken out of Hyles and Steven’s Illinois home and given to his biological father in Texas. Within a few months, for reasons beyond comprehension, Brent was returned to Stevens.

And then, in late 1985, 15-month-old Brent was found dead in his crib. Hyles, who had been alone with the child, claimed he found him not breathing, and called police. It has been suggested in a few online articles that Dave’s father Jack arrived before the cops did.

A coroner’s inquest into Brent’s death (at which Hyles took exercised his Fifth Amendment rights — and which the baby’s mother doesn’t appear to have attended) was apparently thwarted because the little boy had been embalmed and buried (reportedly the very next day after his death), before a proper autopsy could be performed. (An empty bottle of Actifed — for which a prescription had been filled only the day before Brent’s death — was found at the scene.)

Without any physical evidence of wrongdoing, Hyles was not indicted. The case remains open.

If those who follow the Hyles story are correct (waving at the Fighting Fundamentalists!), n the mid-1990s Hyles went to work teaching Sunday school at a Pinellas Park Baptist Church in Florida — which reportedly expelled him on charges of adultery. It’s also been reported that he was thrown out of the next church he attended (Berean Baptist Church in Orange Park, Florida), for “sexual misconduct” with three different women.

(One of those women is assumed to be church secretary Joyce Phaneuf, who appears to have been arrested for prostitution in 2003. Assuming this is the same Joyce Phaneuf, her mug shot and arrest report — which notes the tattoo on her right-upper thigh, reading “David’s Girl” — are available at everybody’s favorite finger-wagging site, The Smoking Gun.)

Just when you think it can’t get any more tragic: Hyles, it’s said, finally married Stevens and they had their own child together, a boy named Jack David. In March, 1999, when the child was five years old, Stevens was reported to have run over him with her car, killing him. According to news reports, she claimed he must have fallen out of the vehicle, and she didn’t know it….


And we haven't even gotten into the insanity of the hand-picked successor of Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap (pron. "Skop") who is rotting in jail right now for sexually abusing a church teen in 2012. Hyles is dead and nothing changes.


Above: the ol' Skopster "polishing his shaft" in 2010 at a youth conference.

(Forgot to mention A.V. Ballenger, the FBCH deacon who liked to molest church girls and was at it for twenty years before he was caught.)
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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:02 am

Lutheran High is now defunct

Somewhere in the last year and a half my old Lutheran high school was absorbed by one of these annoying megachurches. It's still a Lutheran school in name, but I'm guessing it will slowly transmogrify into yet another Evangelical high school or middle-of-the-road Protestant school.

Lutheran High moved around a lot - they started at Faith Lutheran Church in the mid-1970s, took over Grover Cleveland Elementary in the 1980s (this was the site of the "I hate Mondays" school shooting in 1979), moved back to Faith Lutheran in 1988 or 1989. I was there during the lead-up and carrying out of the first Gulf War, and I didn't come back for the fall of 1991 for a number of reasons. After my short time there, somewhere in the early 2000s they moved to Holy Spirit Catholic Church on 55th street and occupied their Sunday school or former church school for about a decade. I drove up there once to get some papers and it was a steep drive. They finally wound up trying to start a campus in Eastlake, a planned community outside of Chula Vista and not even within San Diego city limits. That place never went farther than utility trailers around a constructed church and administration building, and it's still like that nearly ten years later.

I would guess that they moved to the Catholic church because it had it's own (primitive) gym facilities and they could avoid the muggers and goons of Colina del Sol Park. I don't doubt that things got dicier after I left, that and the inadequate size of the Faith Lutheran building made moving an inevitability (two stories and built into a hillside, some of the rooms could only fit sixteen students at maximum.) So yes, that was how rinky-dink my schooldays were....and I have survived the implosion of every religious school I went to.

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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:43 am

Mormon Missionary Leadership Cheats Its Own System: The Tokyo South Story, 1978-82

I found this one on exmormon.org years ago - pretty much there was a Mormon missionary leader in Japan named Delbert Groberg, and he, with a Japanese convert businessman named Yoshihiko Kikuchi, decided to get the miserably poor conversion rate up in Japan by using sneaky techniques in the "Tokyo South Mission." The plan worked like this:

....The plan was to alter the methods of consumer targeting, contacting, teaching, and baptizing. It was streamlined and tailored to appeal to and/or take advantage of certain general behavior patterns in Japanese culture. It was designed to establish and increase a charismatic approach to conversion, not unlike that of American Fundamentalist tent-meetings and mass-baptisms, but again refined to take advantage of Japanese culturally normal behavior patterns.

Please keep in mind that the language used to sell this plan to church big shots and missionaries was probably VASTLY different than the language I'm going to use to describe it:

1. Missionary apartments were relocated to areas near major pedestrian shopping and transportation traffic centers.

2. In Tokyo, existing chapels were used as teaching centers, and when distance from a chapel rendered that option unfeasible, offices were rented with the intent to use them for the same purpose and as branch meeting-houses. In outlying areas, missionary apartments were to be used as teaching centers as well as branch meeting-houses.

3. Missionaries were no longer to waste their time tracting. They were instead instructed to use the major traffic centers as a resource pool, and make street contacts through a variety of cheap tricks, the most popular being to offer English lessons and tutoring (imagine a 19-year-old farm boy tutoring someone in English...).

4. Missionaries were to target teens, young adults, and needy types in their street contacting. These were "easy marks." They were to take advantage of a certain Japanese reluctance to directly disagree or contradict in face-to-face interaction, and were given techniques on how to establish an easy rapport and how to get the "mark" to constantly agree with the missionary. A patter was developed so that the missionary could steer the conversation and control it. Then the missionary would get the "mark" to agree (easy by that time) to go with him/her and talk briefly about Something Very Important.

5. The missionaries were to MAKE CONTACT AND NOT LOSE IT. They were to bring the "mark" to whatever teaching center had been designated and begin indoctrination immediately.

6. The six missionary discussions were rewritten and condensed into six five- to ten-minute presentations. It was dramatized and made very charismatic. Missionaries were advised that they could "teach" all six discussions at once "if so directed by the spirit."

7. Following the mini-discussion presentation, missionaries were instructed to challenge the "mark" to baptism, immediately.

8. If the "mark" accepted, missionaries were to contact their zone leaders and schedule a baptismal interview. Zone leaders were never more than ten or fifteen minutes away by train.

9. Apartments/teaching centers/meeting-houses were all equipped with makeshift "baptismal fonts." If the "mark" accepted and passed the "interview" (who would not? almost nobody failed it!), the "mark' was loaned a white jumsuit or shift, and baptism immediately followed the six lessons and interview, witnessed by the Zone Leaders. Confirmation followed, again witnessed by the Zone Leaders.

10. The entire process (contact to confirmation) was timed and refined until it was streamlined down to approximately 1.5 HOURS. It could be - and most frequently was - all done at the same time.

11. The missionary was to exchange contact information (address and phone #) with the "new member," give them a Book of Mormon, and give them a small map showing them where church services were held, times, etc.

12. The contact was "allowed" to depart.

13. New baptism statistics were posted weekly in the mission newsletter, to increase the level of competition among the missionaries.

14. Missionaries were required to meet regularly for "mutual encouragement" meetings (rah-rah sessions). Zone or All-Mission Conferences were scheduled to raise the excitement level even further and sustain it at fever pitch.

15. Never let up on the pressure to perform.

I'm probably missing a few details here. The whole concept was packaged and sold as a Two Hour Secret Adventure!!! I honestly have no idea how those six mini-lessons appealed to Japanese teenagers, but that is the closest thing I can come to for an explanation. Naturally when they went home and talked to their parents about what they'd just gone through, they were probably met with a huge negative response.

In retrospect none of this sounds like very much, but at the time, it was revolutionary in Japanese missions. Baptisms SOARED. Suddenly missionaries who couldn't baptize one person in two years were baptizing dozens of people EVERY MONTH. The mission swiftly averaged over 1,000 baptisms every month. News of this naturally spread like wildfire: something was happening in Tokyo! What nobody knew, realized, or admitted at the time was that the huge bulk of these "conversions" were teenaged Japanese girls. -flattopSF, exmormon.org poster


Before missionaries were going through their two year stints in Japan without any conversions, and few actual contacts. Through this scam, Tokyo South was becoming a world leader in conversions. Of course, it fell apart:

....A few additional details. Regarding the Groberg/Kikuchi model, the basic premise was a relentless focus on sheer numbers. If one in 100 (?) who hear the lessons are baptised and one in three (?) converts remain active, then teaching 300 lessons produces one active members. It follows that teaching 30,000 lessons must result in 100 active members. This quantitative logic is all that matters, since no individual human is valuable enough as a mere child of God to warrant personal attention. The rule, effectively, was to dump Japanese in the waters of baptism and then let the Lord sort them out.

Manipulative techniques. I should add, as Flattop intimated, that not all of these practices came directly from Groberg and Kikuchi; a lot were innovations by missionaries who functioned under intense pressure. The leaders retrospectively claim that they did not know some of these things were happening--and that may be true, though I think there was, and still is, a lot of intentional ignorance.

With that caveat, we were taught to teach only young people, ideally men between 18 and 22, because they baptized the fastest. We were explicitly ordered not to teach families because they took too much time; and I know of one instance in which a companionship was punished for insisting on teaching a family. The entire lesson plan was condensed into one hour, and during that hour each missionary was to shake hands with the investigator at least ten times. This worked because Japanese don't normally shake hands and the sudden, repetitive physical contact tended to facilitate persuasion. During that hour we were also to speak frequently in broken English, saying things like "berry, berry goodo" because that made the investigator feel like he was engaged in an English language conversation. Finally, once the baptism was done we were ordered to see each convert a maximum of one time, since it was now the members' responsibility to develop and maintain a human connection. Friendships between missionaries and Japanese converts were virtually proscribed.

Of course, the missionaries were manipulated with equal cynicism and zeal. Status and approval were based on the number of baptisms a person could perform. This gave an advantage to the charismatic, strong personalities at the expense of quieter, often more sensitive and spiritual missionaries. The former rose fast through the hierarchy, becoming zone leaders and APs while the less forceful characters were continually condemned as inadequate, a disappointment to God, because they did not produce enough. Nor did personal "worthiness" matter. Missionaries turned to their old vices to let off steam; and if the leadership found out about their chemical or other indiscretions, the consequence was a demotion followed--assuming that the requisite number of baptisms was achieved--by immediate promotion back into the ranks of the godly. There was thus very little connection between the moral and ethical codes of our childhood congregations and the definition of success in the mission field.

So what happened as a result of all of this? Baptisms skyrocketed for a couple of years, until Groberg was replaced and some of his senior missionaries excommunicated for things that he had not wanted to see. The Church then tried to turn back the clock, but the prominent comedian "Beat" Takeshi [Kitano] made "accept baptism!" routines a staple of late night television and Japanese people, for various reasons, lost much of their interest in American culture and religion. As the rate of new baptisms fell through the 1980s and 1990s, one or two mission presidents tried to resurrect parts of the Groberg system but, frankly, the moment had passed and there was no Kikuchi to provide support.

Meanwhile, the missionaries returned to their home communities having been through hell. These were the years of Spencer Kimball, when "every young man must go on a mission and he will like it," so our families and friends could not comprehend the stories we had to tell. We were shunned, avoided by members who were uncomfortable with us and in many instances condemned by local leaders who thought that we must surely be to blame for our pain. After all, the Lord's Church could not possibly have done what we described. Some missionaries and their families complained to apostles--I am aware of two such conversations by friends' parents--so it is pretty clear that SLC knew the depth and breadth of the problem. But rather than reaching out to help the missionaries or, at the very least, warning bishops and other leaders of the difficulties the RMs were bringing home, the brothren in SLC swept the whole thing under the rug, leaving the isolated and traumatized missionaries to work through the social ostracization, self-condemnation, and disillusionment in solitude.

Even today we cannot share these stories with Mormon friends. The truth is that the one thing the religion can never forgive--other than diety's intransigent decision, contrary to the urging of his prophets, to create a certain percentage of his children gay--is the arrogance of those who dare to have been harmed by the Church. It would be inconvenient and embarrassing, after all, to ask leaders to admit mistakes... - Laotzu, exmormon.org poster and witness


The reader has to understand that COJCOLDS ("Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints") has a very corporate structure and is deeply into statistics - they want to convert, but they want to do it efficiently, and if regular methods don't get what they want, they bend the rules; missionaries (who are, after all, just older teenagers) serving in France will lie to get inside apartment buildings if only to slip tracts under doors, even though it is illegal. The Japanese LDS church spent years getting their records straight, and one missionary spent part of their time in the mid-1980s carrying out reams of "excommunications" on these trick conversions. Groberg had the brass balls to turn his experience into a Ph. D. dissertation (!!) titled Toward a synoptic model of instructional productivity (1986), which he got from the academic snowjob artists at Brigham Young University's Department of Curriculum and Instructional Science. Yoshihiko Kikuchi left Japan for Utah, then went back to Japan to harass missionaries about their crappy shoes, even though they were leaving in a few weeks.

The stats:

Total Baptisms: 11989 [half of 1978, half of 1981, rest full years]
Number of Missionaries: 171
Baptisms per Missionary: 70.1

Gender:
Male: 9159 (76%)
Female: 2830 (24%)

Age:
Child: 679 (6%)
Youth: 4884 (40%)
Adult: 6426 (54%)

Method of Contact:
Street: 8680 (72%)
English Class: 965 (8%)
New Member Referral: 1579 (13%)
Old Member Referral: 354 (3%)
Other: 441 (4%) [investigator referrals]

Length of Time from Contact to Baptism:
2 Weeks or Less: 9122 (76%)
2-4 Weeks: 1579 (13%)
4-8 Weeks: 503 (4%)
Over 2 Months: 785 (7%)
Approximate Average: 2.7 weeks

Proselyting Statistics - Average Per Companion Set Per Week:
Books of Mormon Placed: 3.5
Number of Introductions: 13.1
Number of Lessons: 11.6
Total Introductions and Lessons: 24.7
Total Teaching Hours: 17.3

Comparison to other missionary areas:

Japan Fukuoka: 484 (2.5) [average number of baptisms per missionary in parenthesis]
Japan Kobe: 477 (2.9)
Japan Nagoya: 440 (2.5)
Japan Okayama: 542 (3.0)
Japan Osaka: 274 (2.8)
Japan Sapporo: 491 (3.4)
Japan Sendai: 235 (1.5)
Japan Tokyo North: 437 (2.5)
Japan Tokyo South: 4718 (24.1)
Korea Pusan: 880 (6.9)
Korea Seoul: 593 (5.1)
Korea Seoul West: 1055 (8.4)

(Source: Groberg's Nazi-concentration-camp-experiment dissertation.)
Still "Globally Banned" on Wikipedia for the high crime of journalism.

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Graaf Statler
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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Graaf Statler » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:04 am

It is very interesting for me to read this kind of topics. Because it shows me the huge culture differences between America and Europe. And I have found out it are two different planets. Because in Holland the mainstream of the churches are run by a few middel aged lady's who are visting the elder and are making coffee every Sunday after the service. It's complete innocent. Yes, there have been some sexual abuse in the past, and I think there still is, but not more than what happens in a sportclub and churches are aware of this problem nowadays. But a church hardly give any morel advice anymore. Only in some mosques and some small religious communities it can be different.

I have never been in America and I think I never will travel to America, my only impression of America I had was from the television, I always had the idea America would be a kind of Europe.

That was wrong. Because I found out the differences between America and Europe under the surface are as big as between America and China. We don't have this christian religious fanaticism in Europe. Like many other typical American fanaticism like that gender mania we don't have in Europe. Or a free source culture. And that is interesting, because it made clear to me why the Wikimedia culture mainly is supported by fanatics and people with a mental defect, and never will fly in Europe. It's because it simple doesn't fit in our culture.

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Re: The New Religious Horror Stories thread

Post by Strelnikov » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:42 pm

Graaf Statler wrote:It is very interesting for me to read this kind of topics. Because it shows me the huge culture differences between America and Europe. And I have found out it are two different planets. Because in Holland the mainstream of the churches are run by a few middel aged lady's who are visting the elder and are making coffee every Sunday after the service. It's complete innocent. Yes, there have been some sexual abuse in the past, and I think there still is, but not more than what happens in a sportclub and churches are aware of this problem nowadays. But a church hardly give any morel advice anymore. Only in some mosques and some small religious communities it can be different.

I have never been in America and I think I never will travel to America, my only impression of America I had was from the television, I always had the idea America would be a kind of Europe.

That was wrong. Because I found out the differences between America and Europe under the surface are as big as between America and China. We don't have this christian religious fanaticism in Europe. Like many other typical American fanaticism like that gender mania we don't have in Europe. Or a free source culture. And that is interesting, because it made clear to me why the Wikimedia culture mainly is supported by fanatics and people with a mental defect, and never will fly in Europe. It's because it simple doesn't fit in our culture.


Europe had religious wars centuries ago, then wars between nation states, then two world wars fought on it - that's why standard Protestantism and Catholicism has all it's edges worn off (in Europe). America is different, being a breakaway colony of Britain (which had absorbed other people's colonies before the split) and the place where "outsider" Christian sects fled to from Europe.

Everything I have written about Fundamentalist Christianity is an insider's view, like with this post on Mormon missionaries - unless you lived inside these churches, you would never know. And that goes for tourists from outside America along with Americans who came from non-religious homes - you have to go to the one or two hotbed towns where Fundamentalists/Evangelicals preach on street corners to see this stuff being done openly, but even then most of that is on weekends in certain months, because most of these preachers have second jobs. (And those towns are miles away from the standard tourist destinations.) Religion, like gun ownership, is a private thing in America, and the only way you know a sect is obnoxious is if they leave flyers on car windshields. You want to buy CDs/DVDs/record albums of these preachers ranting? You have to do it by mail order from a website. Only the wealthiest/craziest preachers get on TV (outside of public access cable*) and it is mostly on religious cable channels or a Sunday morning slot on this local channel or that. What I am trying to say is that you can easily avoid most religion in American life, also that Fundamentalism has been declining for years. Hell, the Mormons are themselves reaching a point of no growth within the United States - all of their growth is within Africa.
____________________________

* Also buying time on shortwave radio. When I lived in Philadelphia, you could catch the bizarro Black Hebrew Israelites ranting on public access television, and sometimes on street corners by certain colleges, so it's not just a white Fundamentalist thing; it's a form used by anybody obnoxious enough to get their message out.

Example of an old-timey 1950s-1990s TV ranter:



Peter Ruckman (1921-2016) was one of those clowns I didn't know about when I was going to crazy Christian school....he was a "King James only" preacher who did "illustrated preaching" in the 1950s using art he drew while he talked, and he did this on TV. He got more extreme over time and the clip above dates to the 1980s; it's an insert if Ruckman's rant of the week ran too short. It rambles from talking about how the King James version of the Bible is "authorized" and how everybody needs to "get right" and read the Bible four times a year....somehow he brings in and slams gay pride marchers using gutter language. He lived down in Pensacola, Florida, and possibly this ran on Southern TV stations. Things have not gone well for his son Peter, a political-science professor in Rockford, Illinois - the divorced father committed murder-suicide, killing his two adolescent sons by gunshot and then shooting himself.
Still "Globally Banned" on Wikipedia for the high crime of journalism.

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