Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
By Sam Redman
On the blog beyond90seconds.com, a contributor, David Mead, has made some very excellent postings. David was formerly a minister in the cultish group led by the now incarcerated leader, Wayne Bent (you can scroll down a few posts to find more of a description of his antics which resulted in his criminal conviction, if you are not familiar with recent media reports about him). Many of Mr. Mead’s recent posts have been amazingly well stated, but his last two are unusually good and have inspired me to make some follow-up comments.
David Mead’s presentation about Wayne’s friends not being really friends to him is especially perceptive. How Bent was able to reduce his followers down to a group of fawning sycophants and parasites is also worthy of examination.
Wayne simply went through a winnowing process in eliminating those who offered him guidance and warnings that he was going down the wrong path. Those such as David Mead, Tim Bowman and Allen Armstrong and others tried to reach him, but found that they were removed from the group before they could influence remaining members any further. One by one, when people came to him and told him that what he was suggesting or the course of action he was following were not scriptural, he simply “dis-fellowshipped” them (“pack your stuff, you’re gone”). It was a reverse evolutionary process in which the perceptive and caring and communicative members were slowly eliminated, leaving only those who would show Wayne complete and unquestioning loyalty. What he was left with were four kinds of people who would not oppose him in his acts, even though what he was doing or saying often violated the very principles of their Christian religious foundations. In addition they would not question what he said or wrote, even though it contradicted facts that they knew or reversed positions he had taken in the past or was diametrically opposed to the scriptures they said they were following.
First, those who were (and are) evil themselves and enjoyed being a part of a what was really a “new age” religion (open sex, destruction of loving marital relationships, violation of biblical principles with a generous addition of astrology mixed with arcane ancient mystical writings). Probably they were primary influences in warping or reinforcing (or inspiring) Wayne’s demonic thinking and convincing him that what he was doing was divinely inspired (the two witnesses and perhaps his daughter-in-law seem to fit that category). Just read that “Finished Work booklet to gain perspective of how the “two witnesses” had Wayne’s ear and were actually the authors of much of his “new” religion and took over much of the leadership of the weaker members after they became Wayne’s concubines (sex partners). Maybe the silver-tongued Gabriel is one of these as well (we heard him lie on the witness stand).
Two, naive misfits who had become so vulnerable through their own life experiences (Allasso seems to fit this category, as well as some of the young ladies who had been sexually abused earlier), because of tragedies, failures and rejection that they were ready to cling to anything which allowed them to belong, to be accepted, even if it meant leaving all logic behind. “You are wanted. You are needed. You are accepted,” is a common mantra in Wayne’s message to this kind of follower.
Three, those who were so sheltered from the outside world (like Esther, Healed and maybe Danielle), probably from early childhood, growing up inside the cult (and groomed constantly) so that they simply were programmed as believers in the only reality they had ever known. These are the ones who truly believe that Wayne is the returning Christ and that laying naked with him was being in the presence of God. For them, Wayne could make new rules and new principles and could not lie, so that any distortion of the facts becomes acceptable (using logic, such as, in the old testament Hosea married a prostitute and Moses committed murder, therefore God can make sins become permissible) or because Wayne is now God a lie can miraculously now be transformed into the truth (like when he testifies in court or writes that he wasn’t the leader or that he didn’t ever claim to be the actual Messiah or that the laying naked was unrelated to his, “Vision” of consummating with all those virgins). If Wayne says it… they accept, it’s true, because to them he is God incarnate.
Four, those who were locked into a state of financial dependence (living rent free with food and clothing provided on what is essentially a wealthy man’s estate) where the thought of leaving that material wealth behind was just more than they had the character or moral fiber to do. And so they learned just to shut up and not make waves or to offer standard lines of total support and compliments for whatever Wayne said or did. Some of those most likely came in while what was going on was actually quite legitimate (Wayne’s early writings are wonderfully true to Christianity and very well done). But, after they had given up all their possessions and become dependent after many years, they probably felt locked into an untenable situation which they couldn’t (in their minds) afford to leave and so they began to compromise their own consciences just to physically survive. Jeff Bent probably fits this category in a special definition. He is the heir. I think that he still has enough of his wits about him to realize that what his Dad is doing (and has done) does not meet any criteria of logic or sanity, but he knows that if he hangs on there is a lot to gain financially from the private Bent Family trust. Police often ask the question in a murder, “Who would stand to gain by this death?” Jeff was the one who was most encouraging for Wayne to go all the way with this fast and for him to be allowed to die (he was protesting the life saving tactics which would be employed to save Wayne’s life). That’s very suspicious. Ahh… the lure of riches can do strange things to a man.
There is a lot of overlap in these varied groups (and probably some other profiles that I haven’t considered) so that the message of “You are needed. You are accepted” plays across the different situational categories. Seeing others who were long term members (and their close friends and associates) booted out for creating some dissension or questioning the “divine ruler” will cause lots of anxiety. When you are afraid to face the outside world, the message that, “You are secure. You are wanted” is a very powerful controlling device in a climate where the absolute leader has the ultimate authority to remove you on a whim.
Much of this kind of undying loyalty and sycophantic behavior I have seen previously in the cadre of those who are part of the entourage of the extremely wealthy who have allowed their power and resources to corrupt their judgement and their morality. The term “yes men (and women)” applies so well. Sexual domination of the attractive women (and sometimes men) in those groups parallels Bent’s “religion” almost exactly. It’s take-your-pick if you are totally in control and everyone goes along who wishes to stay a member of the inner circle.
The end result of having reduced your followers down to a flock of people who, for whatever reason, won’t tell you that what you are doing is evil or insane puts you into a position of having no friends at all (as David Mead so aptly stated). And as that old saying goes, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”