The contents of these pages is now available as an ebook called The Tangled Web: Letters from the Cult. Or, you may continue to read an earlier draft of this book right here on these pages.
“O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” – Walter Scott
You may have read my first book, Captive Congregation, but if you haven’t, that doesn’t matter much. In that book, I wrote all about how I joined the Church of Bible Understanding (COBU), which some people say is one of the worst mind control cults of all time. And I agree, because I was there. I wrote of my many experiences there and how I finally left. It only took me about ten years to begin suspecting I might really be in a cult after all, and about another four years to get out.
Some people might think that was an awfully long time to realize something might be amiss, but I joined the cult when I was young, naive and idealistic. At my tender young age, I didn’t have the discernment and life experience to know about cult leaders who appear to be working for the common good but who really have evil intentions. I thought I was part of a benevolent organization that was promoting the salvation of humanity.
Along with The Tangled Web (and my book Captive Congregation) you can also read the journals I wrote during my final years in that communal organization known as The Church of Bible Understanding. You can read the journal at: A Day In The Life Of A Cult Member.
The Tangled Web mainly consists of essays and letters I wrote while I was in the Church of Bible Understanding. I wrote most of this material to clarify my thinking about life in the church, which as I said, was really a cult. The leader of our cult, Stewart Traill, provided plausible reasons for everything he did and said we had to believe. He hurled much abuse at us in meetings. We spent our time running in fear and desperation to obey Stewart Traill’s plans for our lives. This pressure was not only coming from Stewart, it was coming from other church members who were watching you. And we had meetings every morning and night, even when Stewart was not there, to find out who was carrying out his orders and to put pressure on those who were not living up to the level of zeal and fanaticism Stewart expected of everyone. There were no breaks and no days off from the treadmill and the constant bombardment of what Stewart called “Jesus pressure.” We read “warning verses” and had “hell bible studies to stir up our fear.” We lived in, worked for and went to meetings in the Church of Bible Understanding and we were in working groups all the time. Being alone was considered to be sinful behavior. I needed to draw away alone to think my own thoughts and write down my observations, and I did this whenever I could.
I wrote My Exit Statement to hand out to other church members to read. It was ignored. I also have included some essays I wrote about the church after leaving there.
There are also letters I wrote to my mother, who was what Stewart called a “Church Christian” (Christians who weren’t in COBU, and as a result – according to Traill – but didn’t have the same high calling we did). And I wrote to authors of books about spiritual abuse and I wrote to David Wilkerson, who was the pastor of Times Square Church. I don’t have a copy of the letter I wrote to David Wilkerson. But I do know that he read my letter and then told some former COBU members who went to his church to “help that brother any way you can.” They offered me a place to live and that’s how I was able to leave COBU.
All of these are essays I wrote to explain what life was like in COBU. They explain the group dynamics of the church and how Stewart Traill manipulated us.