I just finished reading your book Combatting Cult Mind Control a few days ago. It is the most important book I have read in 23 years. I will try to keep this brief since you probably receive many emails daily, but I know I will ramble. I do not expect or need a reply; I do, however, need to write.
I joined the Unification Church in February 1976 through the Minneapolis center. I had answered an employment ad in the paper. After a seven day workshop held in rural Iowa, I was sent to Barrytown, where I went through the 40 and 120 day training sessions. With a few exceptions I was assigned to the Barrytown staff at the International Headquarters in the New Yorker Hotel in NYC.
I left the church in the summer of 1978, a walkout, one who was driven to the bus station. During my last two years in the church I struggled with guilt, shame and could not feel God’s presence anymore. I spent hours on my knees on the cold floor of the Barrytown chapel. Nothing seemed to work. When I finally walked away from the church, it was a desperate attempt to save my sanity. I truly believed I had to choose between a relationship with God and myself, or my sanity. My first Sunday back in Nebraska, I attended church services with my parents. I prayed before the services, asking for a sign from God that I would be OK. I remembered shaking from fear when the minister began reading a passage from the Bible I have since been unable to locate (like I ever read the Bible). I remember hearing the minister reading something like, “Why are you here with these unbelievers when you have seen him, know the truth,” etc etc etc.? As if it were yesterday I remember thinking, “That’s it then; it’s true. I have given up a relationship with God. That’s just how it’s going to be.
I tried talking to ministers and counselors, but nothing worked. I read everything I could get my hands on. Finally, I just stuffed it all into a little corner of my mind and dealt with it each time something would seep out. I was married for eleven years, have been divorced for nine, have held the same teaching job for eighteen years, and thought I had put all that behind me. During the last 23 years, 23 years, damnit, I have suffered from one phobia I could never overcome. When I drove by a church, talked to people from my church (yes, I belong to one), tried to teach Sunday school, spoke with my minister, attended weddings, etc I had these reactions: my heart rate speeded up, I began sweating, I wanted to throw up, and had horrible feelings of not belonging and wanting to run away. I have not been in our church more than twice in a year.
I realized it was not God who made that sanity/relationship bargain; it was what I had been told in the UC. I faced another phobia when I became pregnant the first time. How well I remember Ken Sudo pacing the stage at Barrytown, telling us: “If you leave the Messiah, if you leave the Unification Church and have children, your children will come home from school crying, ‘Why did you bear me’?
So, how did I find your book? Five months ago I found the website xmoonies.com. I read the articles posted there and tried to email one of the authors. The email would not go through, so I next tried Gordon Neufeld in Canada. He answered my email, and we have been writing ever since. When he first mentioned your book, my reaction was, “You’re the one who’s still writing about the UC, obsessing about it; I am the one who has gotten on with my life.”
Well, Gordon came to visit and brought your book with him. I began reading it. I would read, put it down, process and repeat that pattern. Your book has changed my life already. I was in and out of hospitals seven or eight times since leaving the UC for depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, alcohol abuse, depression, and compulsive overeating. I haven’t been seriously depressed for years and I have lost the alcoholic diagnosis, so something must have helped. No amount of counseling and treatment ever dealt with the real issues crippling me. I remember throwing a book at an alcohol counselor who had told me to read it since I was agnostic. I screamed, “I’m not an agnostic. I believe very much in God. Help get this doctrine and stuff out of my head!” That was my mantra for years.
I gave up finally and figured I would go to my grave with all that UC crap in my head. That’s what your book saved me from, Steve. For that I will be eternally grateful. I know I still have work to do. Gordon helps. He sends me information; I write and spill my guts to him. I believed for 23 years believing I was without God. As sad as that is, I feel incredible hope because God was never a part of that agreement. That was a phobia implanted by the UC. I’m not sure what my beliefs are anymore. I grew up Methodist and will begin again there.
Thank you, Steve.