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Group Information
Title Greater Grace World Outreach
Founder Leader/Founder: Carl Stevens (aka Dr. Stevens, Pastor Stevens)
Description Alternate Names of the Group: Greater Grace Church, The Bible Speaks

The following information was submitted by former members of the Greater Grace World Outreach:

Description of Group:

On the surface it appears as a healthy evangelical Christian church on the outskirts of Baltimore, which moved to that location in June 1987. It is, rather, a personality cult revolving around Carl Stevens, who twists passages from the Bible to further his own ends, that of controlling the lives of the members of his congregation.

Several âbranch ministriesâ of 10 to 200 members exist, scattered throughout United States, with some in foreign countries.
Behavior
Control
1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
  a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
  b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
  c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
  d. How much sleep the person is able to have
  e. Financial dependence
  f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations

2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals

3. Need to ask permission for major decisions

4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors

5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).

6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails

7. Rigid rules and regulations

8. Need for obedience and dependency.
Regulation of individualâs physical reality

Pastor Stevens has a heavy emphasis on members attending the ministryâs 30-90 minute services a week, along with at least one or more informal ministry meetings held daily referred to as ârap sessionsâ or âthe rapâ, which is basically a 20 to 30 minute sermon with a few carefully chosen questions from the congregants so as not to open the pastor up to any legitimate challenging questions on some of his questionable interpretations of the scriptures.

Need to ask permission for major decisions

The need to ask permission for decisions is definitley strongly implied by Carl Stevens. He doesnât come out and state his opinion on a congregantâs decision, and says something similar to âI never tell anyone what to doâ but has also added within the memberâs earshot, ââ¦but I know what I would do!â then goes on to suggest what the member should or shouldnât do regarding a personal decision.

Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superior

When my wife and I were members living near the churchâs headquarters, and we were going somewhere, we were expected to tell others within the church where we were going and when we would be back. If we were going to be at all in proximity to any former church members we were always forewarned of the âreasons they left the ministryâ and to be very careful.
Information
Control
1. Use of deception
  a. Deliberately holding back information
  b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
  c. Outright lying

2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
  a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
  b. Critical information
  c. Former members
  d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
  a. Information is not freely accessible
  b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
  c. Leadership decides who “needs to know” what

4. Spying on other members is encouraged
  a. Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
  b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
  a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
  b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

6. Unethical use of confession
  a. Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
  b. Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution
Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged

If in conversation I let it be known that I listened to and found benefit from another Christian teacher or pastor on a radio program, it was made known to me that there was a certain amount of âerrorâ in that non-memberâs teaching. As a member of Greater Grace, it is frowned upon to listen to teaching tapes by anyone other than Carl Stevens or the ministry pastors who line up their teaching with Stevenâs. His heavy emphasis upon the âanointingâ and âauthority of the pastor/teacherâ crosses the line into paranoia if challenged.
Thought
Control
1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
  a. Map = Reality
  b. Black and White thinking
  c. Good vs. evil
  d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".

3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.

4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
  a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
  b. Chanting
  c. Meditating
  d. Praying
  e. Speaking in "tongues"
  f. Singing or humming

5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
Need to internalize groupâs doctrine as âtruthâ; Us v. Them

An âus versus themâ attitude prevails behind the scenes at GGWO. It takes on a more deliberate form of good versus evil.

Adopt âloadedâ language (characterized by âthought-terminating clichésâ)

Pastor Stevenâs sermons or âmessagesâ are replete with loaded language that members are familiar with.

No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

Serious questions about Pastor Stevens or his son and their past misconduct is outright denied or rebuked as being âfrom Satanâ, as I personally witnessed.
Emotional
Control
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.

2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.

3. Feeling-stopping. Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling "homesick" or feeling "depressed" or feeling "resentful".

4. Excessive use of guilt
  a. Identity guilt
    1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)
    2. Your family
    3. Your past
    4. Your affiliations
    5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions
    6. Social guilt
    7. Historical guilt

5. Excessive use of fear
  a. Fear of thinking independently
  b. Fear of the "outside" world
  c. Fear of enemies
  d. Fear of losing one's "salvation"
  e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
  f. Fear of disapproval

6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.

7. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".

8. Phobia indoctrination: programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
  a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group
  b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.
  c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
  d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.
Group
Websites
Greater Grace World Outreach
Critical
Websites
Index of Cults and Religions, by the Staff of Watchman Fellowship, Inc.
Other
Resources
(articles, videos, information)
NEIRR: Eight Distinctives Of An Aberrational Christian or Bible-based Group