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He didn’t care about the abuse

TW: Child abuse

Looking back, one of the most disturbing aspects of a cult like this is how blind so many parents were despite having “discernment” from the Holy Spirit. They could see a negative “spirit” or “rebellion” in their kids but not that they were being molested by church members.

Most of all, the head of the whole cult was the first to say he was the most discerning of all, so he was either blind to it or didn’t care.

The more I learn, the more I realize they didn’t care about abuse brought to their attention.

It was “boys being boys” or leadership squashed it with the parents so no charges were filed. As you saw in a prior post, the leadership brought the abused and their parent to see their abuser face to face and did nothing to protect the defenseless.

I was fortunate to not be exposed to the cult until my teens. By that time, they were picking up to move to Kansas City and I already lived in KC. I was at the age where many kids who grew up there for the prior 4-6 years were my age. I hung out with people close to the cult leader and families who had become close to the core of the movement.

Sadly, many of these families had let an adult single man into their homes while the kids my age were younger. He was charismatic and seemed to love being around kids. In a house full of families after Sunday service, you would find him downstairs with all the preteen kids, talking and playing on their level. Looking back, he was grooming many of them for abuse.

As a 16-year-old looking for acceptance at a new church, I gravitated toward people who showed interest in me. This mid-20s man with a teenager level of maturity was one who was very friendly.

In fact, he became a very good friend through my high school and college years. He bought me beers and cigars when I was underage and we regularly stayed over at friends houses after church to partake. At no time did my parents or church leadership question this man 8 years older than teenagers spending significant time with them. After years of looking him in the eye, letting him serve on stage with them in Smithton Community Church, where was the discernment?

One my my earliest memories hanging out with this person out of church was at his apartment not far from the cult where he laughed about buying some other kids Zima. At that time, I was too stupid to know that this wasn’t a “cool friend” situation and looking back these kids were 12-13 years old when he was feeding them alcohol during sleepovers. Where were the parents and why would they send their kids to stay with a single man 10-12 years older? Why did no one “discern” this child predator?

I could go on and on about the red flags with this individual. This isn’t actually about him.

It’s about a place that promises to be safe, promises parents that their kids will be safe because the leadership is so discerning. And parents so hungry for a religious experience or belonging that they choose not to see what is happening in their own basements.

After leaving the cult, the grown survivors of abuse began to speak out and share with other people their age who grew up together. They gave extremely similar details about what happened to them at the hands of the men and older kids that had been victims themselves. Even as a teenager, I didn’t see what had happened from someone I trusted.

Sadly, several of the young men died tragically and committed suicide before they could get help. As you have read here, several reports to the leadership were swept under the rug using bully tactics in the name of “forgive and move on” because the older boy preyed on a younger boy while they were both minors.

As for the adult abuser, he continues to live a relatively normal life from what I have heard. I cut ties after hearing from those abused and looking back to see a decade of red flags. My heart hurts because I wish I had done more but was too trusting in the cult that fostered and protected abusers. After all, I had faith in the leadership (and parents) to be discerning and not let the wolves get close to children.

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