Feb 23, 2023

CultNEWS101 Articles: 2/23/2023 (Cult Recovery, Legal, Scientology, Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN))

Cult Recovery, Legal, Scientology, Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN)

"Most therapists are used to helping their clients navigate the upheaval of ending relationships, whether it's with friends, spouses, parents, or substances. It usually requires working through tight knots of grief, ambivalence, and anger. Fortunately, the tangles are often laced with pockets of hope and promises of new beginnings. As therapists, we understand well that humans are relational at our core, and that our relationships can shape large parts of who we are. But there's one type of relationship that can be so all-encompassing, many therapists aren't prepared to help their clients end it. This relationship can feel foundational to a person's identity, family connections, and belief systems, including how they think about their own mind, body, sexuality, and self-worth. It influences how they perceive others, the world around them, and their future—even beyond death. When someone shifts out of this relationship, the change is seismic. Most of the time, every aspect of their life is destabilized.

If you're a therapist long enough, there's a good chance a client who's looking to end, or change, this kind of relationship will walk into your office. Maybe one already has. Maybe you've heard something like "I'm questioning my faith," or "I no longer want to be a part of my church" when you've asked somebody what brought them to therapy. For some churchgoers, this might be a relatively easy shift in their lives. But for others, particularly if they're coming from what's sometimes referred to as a high-demand, high-control religion, it can require a therapist to attend to all facets of their history, development, social attachments, and sense of self—all without losing sight of their presenting problem.

I know how easy it is to misunderstand what's going on for individuals looking to transition out of this kind of religion because I've been through it myself. And as a therapist who often works with this population, I know how many people looking to leave insular religious communities turn to therapists for support.

A high-demand, high-control religion is a faith community that requires obedience; discourages its members from questioning its rules, principles, and practices; expects subservience and loyalty; discourages trusting relationships outside the group; perpetuates the notion that those within the group are right and superior to those outside of it; promotes extreme or polarizing beliefs; and expects its members to suppress their authentic selves in exchange for the sense of belonging and security the group offers. Even if you haven't been part of a religion that fits this profile, you've probably encountered groups characterized by some of these elements, whether in the form of a family system, a couple struggling with domestic violence, or a political group.

The difference between a religion and other groups exhibiting high-demand, high-control characteristics is often a matter of breadth and degree. When you've grown up in a community saturated in rigid or extreme beliefs that permeate all aspects of your life, social networks, and identity, transitioning out of it doesn't mean changing one thing. It may mean changing everything. As a result, the simple act of seeking help from someone outside the group is a huge, radical, and often terrifying step. Clients who take it need support not just in leaving a way of life that no longer suits them, but in rebuilding their lives from the ground up.

"A U.S. magistrate judge has ruled that Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige was "actively concealing his whereabouts or evading service" in a federal trafficking lawsuit and declared him officially served in the case.

Judge Julie S. Sneed noted that opposing attorneys had gone to significant lengths to serve Miscavige with the lawsuit filed in Tampa federal court last April. Valeska Paris and husband and wife Gawain and Laura Baxter allege they were trafficked into Scientology as children and forced to work for little or no pay as adults.

Process servers tried to deliver court documents to Miscavige 27 times between May and August at 10 church properties in Clearwater and Los Angeles and were turned away by security. During a meeting on Jan. 25, attorneys for the Baxters and Paris asked Miscavige's attorneys if they would accept service for their client. They declined.

Parcels with the court papers sent by certified mail to Scientology properties were returned to sender with unsigned return receipts, refused at the location or lost in the mail."
"A missing aristocrat who is on the run with her rapist partner and newborn baby may have been brainwashed at a Nigerian church where "disciples" were allegedly abused by the group's self-proclaimed prophet.

Constance Marten, who has been missing with Mark Gordon since early January, is said to have been left confused and traumatised after spending six months at the Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, where she would have been forced to undergo "intense" work running the church while living in dormitories alongside some 100 other disciples, many of whom are thought to be British nationals.
On one occasion, the 35-year-old was apparently forced to eat the leftovers of the church's "prophet" and controversial leader, TB Joshua. Another time, she was placed in social exile – the customary punishment for disciples who were not "focused enough" on the church leader, or who spoke about their former lives.
After leaving the church, Ms Marten spoke about experiencing paranormal activity after meditation, which became so out of control that she once collapsed on the floor laughing while queueing in Starbucks.
The 35-year-old runaway, whose family used to own the £100m Crichel House estate in Dorset and whose grandmother was a goddaughter of the late Queen Mother, has been estranged from her family since she met Mark Gordon, who was jailed in the late 1980s in Florida for raping and assaulting a woman when he was 14.
Her father Napier, a page to the late Queen, has called for police investigating the couple's disappearance to investigate his daughter's links to the church in light of The Independent's investigations.
Ex-disciple and former British soldier Joe Hurst joined the group in Lagos in 2006. Although he left before Ms Marten joined later that year, he told The Independent that she got in touch with him some six years later because she wanted to do a documentary about the church.
Mr Hurst, who now lives in India, said Ms Marten had told him that white disciples would often be targeted and humiliated by TB Joshua.
"She said she played along but it was really weird. She said it was humiliating. Her take was that it was the white British people who were typically humiliated in this way," Mr Hurst told The Independent."
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