Category Archives: Personal

The Wartburg Watch & The Great Shepherd

In recent weeks, Calvary Temple’s abuse has been spotlighted on a notable Christian blog called, The Wartburg Watch. Brandon wrote a few introductory posts. If you are looking for a history of Calvary Temple and the allegations of spiritual, mental, physical and sexual abuse, you can read his essay, “Calvary Temple: In a Nutshell.” Though it is long, the content makes it well worth the effort of reading. Woven throughout Calvary Temple’s history is the thread of Brandon’s personal story.

 

“I’m sorry, Joe. Dad sent me out here. You have to get out of my car.” My younger brother peered at me through tired eyes from the back seat of my 1998 Toyota Corolla where he had been sleeping. He nodded in resignation like a man who had just heard that he was going to have to sleep under a bridge that night and there was nothing he could do about it. He closed the car door behind him, walked down my parent’s gravel driveway, and disappeared into the lonely darkness. It was almost Christmas and it was snowing gently. He was fourteen. … Read more here.


The Wartburg Watch has also published a few stories of ex-CT members, like Michelle, Patty and Molly. Theirs are the stories of brave souls with lives torn apart by shepherds who devour sheep. Even I, who knew parts of these stories already, find it heartbreaking to read them. And for each of these stories, there are many more just like them. For being just one (or two) church(es), Calvary Temple is prolific in its destruction of families, marriages and lives. Note: To other Calvary Temple survivors, The Wartburg Watch is willing to publish more stories if you are willing to share.

Reading these stories is strong motivation in the fight to expose Calvary Temple, when one realizes that real shepherds don’t act like this. 

In choosing the axe instead of the shepherd’s staff, CT pastors have chosen to become devouring wolves. Instead of caring for their sheep, they beat, manipulate, abuse and destroy. They are shepherds in name only, displaying characteristics of satan and certainly NOT the Great Shepherd who loves His sheep with a great love.

I am meditating often on the pastoral words of Psalm 23, as I rest in the love and care of The Great Shepherd. It is God’s character that is the greatest indictment against Calvary Temple’s actions.

 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the L ord forever.

Psalm 23

 

 

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Taking Action Through Peaceful Protest

by Brandon

 

The Loudoun Times article has become the tipping point in the Against Calvary Temple movement. It is no longer just about religion, or Star Scott, or your particular interpretation of the Bible. It has become a community issue about sexual and physical abuse: with some covering up, others standing up, and a steadily increasing voice raising up a protest that these things shouldn’t be. The local media has helped, and we are thankful. And now, a peaceful protest is being organized for this Sunday, March 29th, at 9:15 a.m. across the street from the Calvary Temple property. Naomi and I will be attending, and we hope that you will come as well.

Of those who will attend, each has his or her own reasons for making it out. Some protesters will be ex-CT members who finally have a chance to stand against the evil they were dealt. Others will attend because they have friends or family affected by CT. Others see the direness of the situation and have decided that something must be done. None of us can stand by idly while children are repeatedly and systematically abused, maligned, and dealt lifelong damage by a leadership team who has demonstrated time and time again that their interests are preserving their own visions of grandeur, their positions of power, and their terribly ineffective racing ministry.

Why am I taking my wife and four month child four hours south for a protest in another state? There are several reasons. First, I have been directly affected by Calvary Temple. I grew up there and I was eventually kicked out, much to my own surprise. I was given a list of reasons why it was happening, all of which seemed like petty reasons to kick someone out of a church. I found out a year later that the actual reason was that they were afraid that I would influence people away from the church if the IRS investigation turned up criminal charges against Star Scott. I suppose that they were probably on to something there, as I had decided that the IRS investigation could not be persecution according to 1 Peter 4:15, which says that if you suffer because you are a thief, then do not consider it persecution.

I can remember a meeting with Associate Pastor Jeff Heglund and two others in which I made the mistake of saying the word “cult.” To give you context, I was brought into a meeting that I did not call because they wanted me to tell them any concerns I had about the church so that they could “help” me. After much prodding, I reluctantly told them that, while I would never separate over these issues because I knew that God was in control and He would be faithful to His children, if they insisted that I share my concerns, then I was concerned that the IRS investigation was a result of our own wrong-doing, I was concerned over the way that we treated former members, I was concerned that we broke off from the Assemblies of God but we didn’t let people break off from us, and I was concerned that we may have been beginning to develop the characteristics of a cult. The meeting was fine until the c-word came out. I saw the postures of the three men in Jeff Heglund’s office change. My deacon told me that I was full of demons. Sins that I had openly confessed and repented of years beforehand were brought back to the table as proof that I could not be seeing clearly.

And then Jeff Heglund said something that I have never forgotten. He said “Brandon, if you really think that we are a cult, then if you love us, you will do everything in your power to get us out of here. You will plead with us, you will beg with us, you won’t rest until you’ve pulled every last one of us out of here and seen us freed from this place.” And that is my second reason for attending this protest on Sunday: because I love these people and I want to see them freed.

It is interesting to note that if you speak against Calvary Temple, they say that you must be bitter. But in that closed door meeting, Jeff said a Truth—a capital ‘t’ kind of Truth—that I’m not even sure he fully understands. It is love, not hate, that compels us to free our families from that wretched place. And it is love that brings us all to the sidewalk of Tripleseven Road on Sunday.

The final reason that I am attending is because I am a Christian, and I have a responsibility to God for those people and for the purity of His name. The world must see that we are not all like Star Scott. They must see that Calvary Temple is not the way of Christ. To be silent is to offer tacit approval, and that is something I cannot do.

I have a responsibility to God in my response to Star Scott. We must distinguish between a right and a responsibility. Paul had a right to financial support from his churches, but he chose to forgo his right. However, as Christians we have a responsibility to “not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead to expose them (Eph. 5:11).” The Bible doesn’t say “you have the right to test every spirit.” No, it says “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone into the world (1 John 4:1).” Jesus makes it clear how you differentiate between a true prophet and a false prophet: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-16).”

It has been pointed out that Star Scott claims four of the five-fold ministry gifts that are written in Ephesians 4. He is an Apostle-Prophet-Pastor-Teacher. Which means he is either the most extraordinary man in the world or he is just another con man. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that, by claiming these titles for himself, he opens himself up to the Christian’s responsibility to test if he is a false apostle (2 Cor. 11:13), false prophet (Matt 7:15), false pastor (Titus 1), and false teacher (2 Peter 2). Ultimately, all of these tests come down to bad fruit, made up stories, fake miracles, and a false gospel. In Star Scott’s case, he fails on all four counts—an exercise which will have to be shown more thoroughly at another time. How is the church supposed to respond to a False Apostle-False Prophet-False Pastor-False Teacher? The Bible makes it clear repeatedly that we are to look out for these men, we are to expose them for what they are, and we are to warn other Christians to stay away. That is our Christian responsibility in dealing with Star Scott.

Lastly, I want to reiterate some truths that must be remembered as we go about this exposing and protesting. It is important to remember that not everybody at Calvary Temple chose to be there. When I was four and my parents decided to join, I didn’t have a choice. There are about 80 children at Calvary Temple—most of whom were born there—that were not given a choice. They aren’t legally able to run away, they can’t support themselves financially, and they certainly can’t be expected to have the mental fortitude to deal with the ostracizing that they would experience if they chose to leave. In the highest meaning of the word, they are the victims of Calvary Temple.

Not only are the children victims, but in many ways a lot of the adults are as well. Yes, there is an inner circle, and there are those that seem to be beyond hope. But all of us ex-CTers used to be CTers, and for a time none of us saw the truth. In many cases, it took extraordinary measures for us to be willing to see it. In my own case, I had to be forced to leave before I was willing to leave. So as we move forward with our plans, let us remember that we were once like them. If this had occurred at an earlier time in history, we would be the ones in the church building while a crowd gathered outside in protest. These people are our family. They are our loved ones. They have been told for years that we hate them and are persecuting them. They must see the opposite on Sunday. There are a small handful of them that need to be arrested and thrown in jail. And there are far more that just need to be set free. If it takes extraordinary measures to free them, then extraordinary measures I will take.

Join us on Sunday. Help us set them free.

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Resources for Survivors

by Naomi

It has been quite awhile since we have had the opportunity to post on Against Calvary Temple. Our personal responsibilities of jobs, college, business and family are increasingly demanding, and unfortunately keep us from putting the time and energy into voicing our objections to Calvary Temple’s cultic practices.

Make no mistake, friends, we still firmly believe in the mission of AgainstCalvaryTemple.com.

We still fervently pray for freedom for current Calvary Temple members.
We still rejoice every time someone leaves Calvary Temple.
We still shudder at every story of brokenness that we hear, every tale of suffering and destruction and despicable conduct at the hands of so-called “spiritual leadership.”
We still support ex-members of Calvary Temple with our prayers, our hearts, our lives.We hope to be publishing a few articles in the coming months. If you have been checking back often for new content, you may want to check out our new facebook page:

Be sure to LIKE the page, and then follow the page. This will allow you to see links to new articles as they are posted.

 

Also, I would like to share a few resources for those who have survived Calvary Temple.

Please keep in mind the following disclaimers:

a) We are not formally affiliated with any of these websites. As such, we do not claim to have read every word or necessarily agree with everything that is written. In some cases, we do not even know the identity of the authors — but we heartily applaud the courage of those willing to give up time and energy to stand against the spiritually abusive, contraBiblical practices of Calvary Temple. We support their endeavors and pray that God continues to use these words to bring freedom to the captives.
b) We gain nothing by bringing these resources to your attention. In the case of recommended books, we do not use affiliate links. We do not make money from this website. Its costs come out of our own pockets, and we do not attempt to recoup those costs by recommending resources. All resources have simply been a blessing to us, and we want to bring them to your attention for this reason.

Helpful Books: 

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson & Jeff VanVondoren

Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton

Related Websites:
Leaving Calvary Temple  – http://leavingcalvarytemple.blogspot.com/
Tactics of Calvary Temple – http://tacticsofcalvarytemple.wordpress.com/
Dear Calvary Temple / Letters to My Children – http://dearcalvarytemple.blogspot.com/
Just Our Stories of Calvary Temple – http://justourstoriesofcalvarytemple.blogspot.com/

 

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Holiday Pain

               by Naomi

When you’ve been shunned by family members who go to Calvary Temple, the emotions hit the hardest during the holidays. “There’s no place like home for the holidays” is ringing through every store. Coworkers and friends are asking the eternal question, “what do I buy my parents for Christmas?” People are extolling the virtues of family, talking about parents/sisters/brothers/grandparents and seeing everything through the twinkle-light-romantic-Hallmark-movie euphoria.

Those of us who are related to current Calvary Temple members have varying family situations to deal with. For some, CT parents continue in semi-normal, yet emotionally detached relationships with their former-CT adult children. They will speak to their children, invite them to dinner, give gifts and remain cordial. For others, this cordiality lasted for a short time and now there is not the slightest hint of relationship. For parents whose adult children still go to Calvary Temple, there’s much emptiness in the home on holidays. The phones remain silent, the photo frames of grandchildren are empty, and the loneliness is palpable. For others, they have been estranged from non-CT family for so long (even a lifetime), that when they come out of that church, there is no relationship to speak of. They had CT friends who took the place of family and after they made an escape from the clutches of the controlling church, they are left spinning their wheels. Alone. It can be a terrifying realization that you are alone in the world, and sadly, it is one that often drives people back to Calvary Temple. Still others have left Calvary Temple and all its members behind, and are in the midst of forging new friendships, traditions and a life outside of the CT bubble.

Our personal situation is such that we have been completely shunned. No conversation, no phone calls, no invitations, no contact whatsoever. I have never formally met my in-laws, since before they became my in-laws. Please don’t make jokes about how ‘it must be so nice to not have in-laws.’ It’s not. We are grieved by the state of the non-relationship with my husband’s parents. It is unnecessary and brings shame to the name of Christ. We are saddened and it is especially acute during the holiday season. I imagine that many former Calvary Temple members feel the same. I want to share with you a few things that are helping me to deal with the holiday season.

1. Keep my focus right. I make a conscious effort to remember the true meaning of the holidays. When I’m celebrating Thanksgiving, I spent much time meditating on how much I’ve been blessed and how much I have to be thankful for. I remember not what I have lost, but what I have gained. I possess life and health. I possess good things, daily provisions, an amply comfortable home. I possess truth and righteousness and the accessibility to God’s Word. I possess some family relationship, those who love me and those that I love. I thank God for my husband, and that even through the cultic environment that he was raised in, God’s hand was upon him–upon us–and God created beauty from pain. God gave us a marriage that is amazing in every way. And most importantly, if all else were lost, I would still be grateful for the one very important thing. That I serve a God who will never, ever, ever fail me. He will never leave and never forsake me (Psalm 9:10). When I’m celebrating Christmas, I remember that God the Father had a plan. Even though men messed it up with sin, He sent His only Son for redemption. Redemption is the key. God redeeming me from sin is enough to be grateful for every single day. Even on Christmas.

2. Acknowledge emotions. Emotions are real, emotions are valid and they were created by God. God created you as an emotional being. He created you to be in His image, to feel joy and to feel pain. Are you under the impression that truly spiritual people don’t feel things? That surely the strong ones do not have moments of weakness? Or are not bothered by injustice? Read the psalms. Delve into the torment of the psalmist’s heart. He grieves, he rages, he wonders, he prays, he cries, he mourns, he worships, he hurts, he rejoices. He is silent and he is loud. He is with the congregation, in a corporate setting, but mostly he is alone with God. The psalms are a wonderful window into the prayer life of a man after God’s own heart. The psalmist feels things most acutely. He is not ruled by his emotions, but he takes them to the secret place of the Almighty and beseeches the Most High God to bring resolution. Acknowledge your emotions this season. Acknowledge that there may be days of struggle, days of pain, days of loneliness, days when the wounds of betrayal feel fresh again. There may be days of righteous indignation and days of diving into the forgiveness you have experienced in Christ, so that you can forgive again the ones who have wounded you without cause. You may feel, but that is no excuse to sin. Christ Himself was angry and yet did not sin. Strive to live that way. (Eph 4:26)

3. Appreciate healthy community.  Newsflash: Not every church is like Calvary Temple.  In fact, most aren’t.  A healthy community does not manipulate you into cutting off family members. A healthy community does not think that it is the only church worthy of your attendance or the only church where the presence of God dwells (do you really think the Almighty God is so limited?). A healthy community does not get jealous or offended when you visit relatives in another town/city/state during the holidays. A healthy community does not commandeer ALL of your free time for its super-important (sarcastic) events. A healthy community does not use guilt; they do not manipulate or goad. Period. A healthy community knows that they do not control people’s lives. A healthy community will not fall apart if there is no Wednesday night meeting the day after Christmas. On the flip side, a healthy community consists of people who are there in times of need, are thoughtful, kind, humble, are not selfishly-motivated, who think the best of you, mind their own business instead of minding yours, work out their salvation daily with honest living, and seek God enough privately to know that the Word of God always remains higher than the words of their pastor. Granted, no church or community is perfect. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will be able to extend grace to people instead of running away the first time they offend you. But most churches do not look like Calvary Temple–and thank God for that! Keep your eyes open for spiritually abusive situations; as those who have come out of an abusive environment are more prone to find a similar situation in a different form. But don’t become overly suspicious. And remember, you are not a slave to people. You are a slave to Christ alone. People will not be able to take advantage of you, your time or your resources if you set boundaries. Community is a wonderful part of life.Set your heart to enjoy community in its proper place and in a healthy way.

4. Bear someone else’s burden. And do it quietly. (Matt 6:3) One day, I looked around and realized that everyone else was dealing with or had dealt with some tragedy or heartbreak in their life. It was a revelation to me. I don’t know if I was simply maturing out of the teenage tendency of complete self-involvement, if I had suddenly been gifted with empathy or the Lord was teaching me an important lesson. Many of my dear friends had endured and were enduring the most tragic circumstances possible. Death, divorce, abuse, betrayal, abandonment, financial burdens and the crushing pressures of life. It is important to look beyond our own heartbreak and to look into the heartbreak of others. We are not suffering more; we may be only suffering a little differently. While it is common at Christmastime to be a do-gooder, I challenge you to meet someone’s need without broadcasting it. Do something without breathing a word to anyone else about it. Open your ears to the pain of others. Listen, remember, meet the need. And allow only heaven to be your witness.

5: Create new traditions. Maybe you can’t imagine Christmas without your parents, your siblings or the same house you were raised in. It’s time to change your mindset. The most wonderful Christmas traditions are yet to be discovered. Make new memories. Stop thinking that you’re living your second-best life until so-and-so gets a clue and leaves Calvary Temple. You can only control your own life (not the stupidity of others), so create new traditions to enjoy. No matter what the Christmas movies say, we live in an imperfect world. You will never have the movie-perfect Christmas, so enjoy the one you have!

6. Look forward to the future.  There will be a day with no more tears. There will be a day with no more cults and no more estrangements and no more discord. There will be a day when the only thing that matters is Jesus. Comfort one another with these words.

Friends, I don’t claim to have all the answers. If these words help even one person during this holiday season, I will rejoice. May your hearts be filled with thanksgiving and joy.

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