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Author Topic: ALIENATION in GCx Churches  (Read 216 times)
Janet Easson Martin
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« on: February 25, 2019, 09:19:24 pm »

ALIENATION in GCx Churches

“Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.”
Galatians 4:16-17

It is fascinating to find the two principles that are key to building an atmosphere of cult control spelled out in this New Testament verse - love bombing and isolation. The Greek word for zealous here is zeloo. It actually means “to be jealous”. It is used to mean “eager to possess”.  The Greek term for alienation here is ekkleisia. It’s meaning is “to shut out”. It is used as shut out, exclude, and separate. (This Greek term comes from ek - from, from out of, suggesting from interior outwards; and kleio - to shut, to shut up, close, closed, locked. In other words, ekkleisia implies to prevent and exclude the approach of others).

Both the New and Old Testament call out these very deceptive methods to warn us of trouble among a gathering of believers. This strategy is not for our welfare. The Word of God above very plainly states that the people who practice such measures will not benefit us though they eagerly imply that their group gives much spiritual advantage and advancement to any who join (as is also highlighted in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians).

“Therefore, this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘See, I am against the magic charms with which you ensnare souls like birds... I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people from your hands, so that they will no longer be prey in your hands...
They have not taken up the cause of the fatherless, so they might prosper, nor have they defended the rights of the needy. ... The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority.”
Ezekiel 13:20,21,27,31

Christian or concerned parents, families, and friends (like the Apostle Paul) have been perplexed about loved ones unhealthy attachment to this kind of “church” group. The member’s excessive commitment to leaders and the group and their increased isolation from them is a biblically founded cause for great concern. They are being “charmed” and “played”, and soon will be dangerously detaching from genuine voices of sound Christianity and reason in their life. Their exploitation is essentially the object of Lovebombing and Alienation. The group goes so far in alienating others that members’ genuine sources of love, concern and affection have actually been labeled “the enemy”.

The GCM Warning Forum Website here shows a long and continuing history of these coercive methods in GCx Churches.  The testimony excerpts that follow focus on the prominence of the “Alienation (or Isolation)” component in GCx Churches.  It’s counterpart, “Loveboming” is a very necessary measure to making alienation successful. Though lovebombing has been strongly evident in previous testimonial excerpts, it will be highlighted separately. Here are what those once inside this culture of intense control say about alienation in GCx churches.  In a couple of cases they are the concerned parents observing the strange behavior of their children as a result of this coercion in the group.

...realizing that the outward appearance of the seeming harmony, unity, friendliness and caring is how they are supposed to act, not truly a manifestation of inner peace and joy that comes from following Jesus. ... They give up desires they once had in order to serve the church more fully. (Notice I did not say serve God.) Their hopes and dreams and activities that are not church or outreach related are strongly discouraged. True friendships are discouraged so everyone can be "best friends" in the system. ... No one is encouraged to seek therapy outside the church, but this system is powerless to help anyone find real answers that lead to true peace and joy - the way Christ intended for us to live.

...I noticed that there was.. something different.. about the way my new friend group thought and acted, as compared to my previous Christian experiences. I slowly began to feel the pressure to go to every meeting and event, and be a part of every service held. My free time and my life outside of GCM was very swiftly vanishing.
-puff of purple smoke    [left ~ 2005]

I had been sure that their Christian walk was so right because they kept telling me it was right, that they were different, that we were special. ...Then my eyes were opened and all of those things took on a sinister bent. ...My GCx church was full of sincere, kind people.  I still miss them and the fellowship.  But I can't go back because THEY are TRAPPED. They are oppressed. They can't see it. I still love them, but I'm embarrassed for them too.
-Agatha L’Orange

How I wish we all would have known that back then...but their isolation techniques were quite effective. Especially the "if you listen to Them, you're in sin and not really One Of Us" nonsense.

I ...spent some 5 years with the East Lansing, Michigan [GCx] fellowship in the late 1970s through the early 1980s... Any group that insists on isolating their members from family, friends, and... orthodox knowledge of other reputable authors and believers - such a group has an agenda that is not biblical. The modus operandi within the pre-GCA [GCx alias] ministry that I knew was very reminiscent of “Animal Farm” and “Lord of the Flies”. They changed the rules to accommodate their own selfish purposes and they ruled like petty dictators who act on whim and without mercy.

My choices while in the GCx church were very much persuaded, manipulated, pressured and pushed through guilt and fear into a certain lifestyle that was not only awkward but downright isolationist. ... I hadn’t really read or listened to many voices outside my church in nearly ten years (except Dr. J. Vernon McGee who was permissible, probably because he had very little commentary).  We were strongly discouraged from reading other Christian commentaries. I was also advised to spend little or no time with those outside the church which included my own friends and family (unless they were supportive of the  GCx group).  
-Janet   [left ~ 1991]

Other abuses were... Isolation from outside influences (parents, professors, former friends regardless of religion, mature Christians from established churches). ...we were discouraged from having any outside activities, hobbies, or friendships because such things weren't "profitable”.

I attended Summitview and The Rock in Fort Collins [GCx Church groups in Colorado] from 2006-2011. ... I am an artistically inclined person and I was pretty actively discouraged from this because the majority of what I enjoy is "secular"- a completely pointless classification. I remember once saying to someone that I had recently reread The Chronicles of Narnia and the leader who was not even a part of that conversation told me if I was reading anything other than the Bible or a book directly about the Bible I was wasting my time.

I have always sensed that they subtly teach an isolationism by having you break off ties with former friends and family if they don't buy into what you now believe, even if your friends and family are Christian! Then, you cannot build long-lasting relationships with non-believers that give a steady witness to the power of God in your life because you don't have time for relationships. You are at meetings or events or Bible studies or serving 5 evenings of the week, and the weekend is reserved for the sports outreach and church. ....if you are in the system, the culture doesn't encourage you to marry outside of the system; although that happens on rare occasion.

Identity with the group, isolation from family/friends, no legitimate reason to leave (the person leaving is always in the wrong), these are all warning signs of potentially unsafe groups. ... I noticed they also took down the talk RW [GCx Pastor/Leader] gave at Faithwalkers [GCx Commitment Event over College Winter Break] 2008, I think it was. The one on committing to GC [GCx alias] for the rest of your life, where he told parents that their college aged kids now answered to their local elders and parents should not interfere. Smart of them to... remove [from the website] the controversial stuff so parents remain uninformed.
-Linda   [Left ~ 2005]

I had never heard of GCM [GCx alias] until my son was about to leave for the summer to work at the YMCA in Estes Park and had also decided to participate in the LT [GCx “Leadership Training”] Program. ... As the days went by, we occasionally got a text, but no letters or much other communication. ... He could have come home a day earlier and we asked if we could come and get him so we could see him quicker, but he said he would have to "pray" about it.  Seriously, we hadn't seen him all summer and He had to pray about it before he came home!?! ...I feel like they stole my son and I didn't do anything about it.

We were encouraged to pick roommates within the church, so I reserved a dorm room along with another new member from my hometown, on the same floor with a couple of other guys. We were also encouraged... to stay in town for the summer, so my roommate and I rented a room from one of the guys in the church, and worked as painters for another church member. That's when things started getting weird. ... My boss, who was a church leader, was very secretive about his business, which wasn't much more than a bunch of ladders and underpaid church members. ... [Later,] after making the decision to leave GCI [GCx alias]... I took my first professional position. Out of sheer luck, I was a new hire along with an excommunicated GCI elder. ... He told me that he had been party to conversations where church leaders had targeted individuals to be "challenged" to drop their friends or other connections for the express purpose of increasing their commitment to GCI.
-Valley Noir

I had so much zeal that I separated from my parents (who were VERY concerned about the ISU [Iowa State University] Bible study due to the news coverage in the Des Moines Register about the cult label being applied to the group and to it's charismatic leader, Jim McCotter). ... I was deeply embarrassed for the way I treated my friends and relatives while attending the Ames [GCx] Church. That spiritual elitism really dampened my relationships and to have to admit I was mistaken and in error was shattering.
-lone gone

I kept having the feeling of "mental disconnect" as every so often I would "wake up" and say to myself "Wow! Why do I feel like my life is being controlled by the Church." I found my family relationships deteriorate and the pressure to be "all for God and the lost" was overwhelming me.

This assignment of new authority occurs often in my GC church.  A "new family" replaces the old, thus disregarding the commandment: Honor your mother and your father. This is a great illustration, though, of how dishonoring such behavior is to our biological family, and how disrespectful GC is for using such tactics.  I would consider this divisive.
-Daisy   [left ~ 2006]

My mother was very sick at the time, and I had gone to visit her a few times.  ...she was having emergency surgery. My pastor didn't want me to go visit her. He felt my responsibility was with the church.  ...[I was] pacing on my front porch having a near panic attack about leaving Atlanta without the blessing of the leader.  My father found me - set me straight - drove me back to Atlanta to gather my things and later we ate the fatted calf... GCI [GCx alias] was WAY out of step. Used cult-like methods of controlling persons...

Every decision had to have a basis around the church. You couldn’t just do something (go on a trip, attend a non-church event, hang out with someone) without a church or evangelical reason. Personal pleasure, joy, and desire had no place in the life of the church. Of course, if you did everything you were supposed to, you wouldn’t have time for anything outside the church anyway!

Loyalty is preached endlessly, and if you are single it is HIGHLY encouraged to live with other singles. ... I was told I could become selfish if I did not move in with other singles because then we all could serve the church together in "unity". The thing is, I knew I would not be true friends with these people due to the fact that we did not have the same interests, etc. Church interests reign supreme in GC [GCx alias].
-Grounded    [left ~ 2008]

The first thing that I was corrected for was not isolating myself with Candlewood [GCx Church] peeps. I had been meeting with and enjoying the fellowship of other Christians that weren't a part of the Rock [GCx ministry] on campus. It was suggested that I get to know Candlewood people, look for the lost, and let the found find the lost.
-Hope    [left ~ 2013]

Beyond not inviting outside speakers, in the church I attended you were rebuked if you were attending small group/church functions while at the same time visiting another church. Reason given was that you were not being of a “single eye.” ... Outside counseling was also greatly discouraged, even on issues where special training may be needed, such as depression and eating disorders. Instead you would be referred to a GCM [GCx alias] pastor whose advice would basically consist of “pray more.” The belief of my former GCM church leaders was that all of your life needs could be met through that church.

I was told not to see a psychiatrist or a therapist. ...saw a "counselor" that was a member of the church that had no experience in psychology and was basically told that my mental health wasn't a problem with my brain, it was a problem with my soul.

I wanted to go to counseling but my pastor repeatedly told me that the “Lord had provided him.” Such a strong statement made me feel sinful for wanting to go to counseling and ashamed that the pastors counseling wasn’t helpful and actually made things significantly worse for me.
-Cult Proof    [left ~ 2016]

We began to read other good books about God and godly Christians from the past ~ not just books on evangelism, which was all we really heard recommended... One time we wanted to go to a conference on prophecy by a gifted Bible teacher ~ and we were told not to because it might cause us to learn something they didn’t believe.  I had never heard any teaching on prophecy at all in the years I had been there, yet we were told it was wrong for us to learn from someone else.
-Truth Lover

We were told not to listen to James Dobson (after all he graduated from a secular school) or anyone outside the church.

[GCx says] ...if you listen to other spiritual leaders -- no matter how educated and how they've proven their love for God over and over -- it's still wrong to receive teaching from anyone else but us. This is our movement. Our church. For life. Keep filling our pockets with money and devoting yourself to unnecessary un-Biblical works and subjecting to our endless guilt-trips too.

Barnes Notes commentary on Galatians 4:16-17 pronounces “When False Teachers have designs on a people, they begin by alienating their confidence and affections from...” [other] “pastors and teachers”. Thus, the negative bashing of other Christian groups becomes necessary. ‘They undermine their confidence in other people or groups so that there is little difficulty drawing them over to their own purposes.’

Barnes summarizes the two methods of securing our affection for these false teachers that practice cult control. ‘First, they attach themselves to us through implying enthusiastic and intense friendship, manifesting special interest for our welfare. Second, they alienate us from those who practice a sound gospel’ (by making them a negative influence or an enemy).

False teachers declare concerned outside influences as enemies, causing severe division and ultimately, alienation. As Paul declares in Galatians 4:16, he is actually labeled as an enemy. This group’s goal is not to better our relationship with or increase our commitment to Christ, but to secure our loyalty and devotion to them.

“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

Romans 16:17-18

« Last Edit: March 02, 2019, 08:07:44 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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