A Message From Inside the Looking Glass
It occurs to me that I should write a note or two with concrete suggestions on how to help members trapped in the CoG-PKG, over and above the connect-the-dots warning for how Weinland may (if I am right and I truly don’t want to be) end his days, after his predictions fall flat before Passover.
First of all I want to state that I am doing this simply because it is the only thing I can do. I want to be proven wrong, and I want everything to pan out the same way “1975 in Prophecy” did. If it doesn’t, though, I will at least know I made the attempt to try and warn others.
From the very first moment I heard of Weinland and his predictions I had an awful feeling about the group. I’ve been a faithful Sabbath-keeping Church of God-er, I know what the mentality is like, and I know there are those who believe in Weinland without question. Maybe not the tens of thousands or millions that Weinland would like everyone to believe, but there are still people out there who want to be lied to, and want to abdicate responsibility for themselves, their families, and their lives to a self-professing profit I mean prophet who will tell them the answer to life, the universe and everything.
There are many phrases second generation adults who grew up in the WCG share, and it’s not just the cult buzzwords, they are descriptors of the way we felt. One of the key concepts to understanding what it was like when, is “the bubble”.
As long as we kept the Sabbath and the holy days and the clean/unclean meats laws, tithed over thirty percent of our income and ponied up more whenever a special offering was called, we were still in the bubble.
As long as we believed every word coming from the pastor’s and lay-ministry’s mouths as being direct from the lips of God (no matter how inane or mundane-seeming it often was), we were still in the bubble.
As long as we believed we were in the one true church, and that our parents had been called to the truth to keep us out of the world (long portrayed by the church as a filthy, horrible, disgusting place, which we had to distance ourselves from at all costs), we believed we were invincible, because we had been born in the bubble.
I can speak to you about what my experiences were like, as someone who was born and raised on the inside of the looking-glass. That does not mean I am qualified to offer expert advice on how to get a loved one or family member or even yourself out of the cult. I can offer you pointers towards those who may be able to, though, and I urge you to take this information and use it in a way that best befits your situation.
First of all, if you are facing an immediate crisis and you believe you or your family member or friend is in real immediate danger, call your local authorities. That’s the first step. Stay calm. Tell whoever you contact that your family member or friend is in a closed high-demand religious group, and explain the situation as clearly and fully as you are able to.
Fortunately it has not come to that yet, with Weinland’s group, but if it does come to that, do not hesitate to make the call. After all, if you’re wrong, all you’ve got to lose is a little bit of face.
If the person you know is just getting involved with Weinland’s group, they may be at a point where they are still reasonable. Show them sites like The Painful Truth, Ambassador Watch, Ambassador Reports, and Purplehymnal. Explain to the person that these sites are about the Worldwide Church of God.
Do not say anything about the CoG-PKG. If they are still reasonably uncontrolled by the PKG, let them explore these sites, and find their own correlations to the demands Weinland and his ministers are making on them today. If they do have questions, listen to them. Do not be confrontational. Listen. Only listen. Let them do the bulk of the talking.
If they begin to see correlations between the WCG, and the CoG-PKG, let them explore this site if you feel they are still open-minded. Do not assume showing them this site will clear their minds. More likely, it will be branded “ungodly” and “an instrument of Satan’s deception”. Or they will simply refuse to accept any of it.
If things are a bit further gone than that, and your friend or family member is baptized and paying tithes to the CoG-PKG, it is time to get the expert advice of a qualified professional. This site does not fall under that category. I can only provide a pointer to any one of several directions in which you might go. You, your friend, your family member, and your situation is going to be completely unique, and you need to keep that in mind.
The first thing you want to do, if you are not in an immediate crisis, is go to your yellowpages, and look for a crisis information hotline. When you get through, ask for a referral to an exit counsellor, or a cult psychologist or a cult recovery counsellor. (They may be listed under any of those names.) You may get a referral to someone in your area more quickly that way.
If you cannot find anyone in your area, I offer the following links which may be of help.
http://knappfamilycounseling.com/cultqual.html – Knapp Family Counselling in New York. This site also offers e-counselling. Their links page is an excellent starting point. There are other exit counsellors listed here, some of whom may be in your geographic area.
The important thing to remember is that the Church of God Preparing for Kingdom of God is very small. Weinland may be asserting he has tens of thousands of followers, but he’s lucky if he’s got enough members to go into four digits, never mind five. This can be a double-edged sword, however, as none of the cult awareness groups (with the exception of the XCoG sites and forums) have picked up on the CoG-PKG yet.
This is a drastic oversight, I feel, which is why Weinland Watch exists. Especially now that lay-members of Weinland’s sect are also touting April 17th as a prophetic date as “something that may happen on the religious front”.
My point is, when you do find an exit counsellor who you feel comfortable with, and who you think might be able to help you will have to educate them. Not only about the CoG-PKG, but about the Worldwide Church of God, as many cult awareness networks have shifted their focus away from the cult since it has outwardly claimed its practices are now protestant (this is false). The sites I have linked to can help you in that. One last piece of advice and I cannot stress this enough:
Before you do anything get professional advice.
Contact somebody, anybody, who has experience of or knowledge in dealing with getting members out of closed high-demand groups. They don’t like to use the word “cult” anymore. If the counsellor you talk to (and please talk to somebody) knows what you’re talking about when you use the phrase closed high-demand group, you’ve found a good one.
Good luck, and know that you are not the only one out there.