Saturday, August 24, 2013

I am so sick of the debate over whether this cult is destructive or benign. Maybe the debate is not new, but I only recently have come to terms with the obvious. The only people defending the actions and abuses are the cult members themselves.

I used to believe the excuses, at least accept them. Then I read the Foibles article. Even if all the other accounts of abuse and exploitation were lies from angry people, this was different. Jack admitted that he performed the "passing of the seed" ritual. In other words, he engaged in mutual masturbation with young men. Not just any young men, but teen aged boys of whom he was their pastor. There it is. Indisputable. There is no such thing as consent when Jack was in that position of authority over young boys.

There are websites out there that list the characteristics of destructive groups. I'm too lazy to properly link to any of them, but you can find them easily enough. But is it needed? Even if that was the only thing (and I don't mean to minimize what happened to these boys); even if all the content on the blogs and forums are lies and gossip, what is left? The simple fact that hundreds of people have built their lives on the word of one old man who used his authority to gratify himself. He was not stable. He was a liar and a pervert. He admitted it with the knowledge that people would overlook it and believe his lies. Your "religion" was built on lies, people! Every word he spewed meant nothing. Think about it, did he ever chuckle to himself over the people's blind faith in him, or did he believe his own delusional stories?


People left, but people also stayed. A lot of people.

And what happened to those boys? To Lou R. and Dennis W.? They were cast out, shunned, thrown away like garbage because of what Jack did to them.

So people chose to remain faithful to Jack. So what, right? We have the constitutional freedom to believe as we wish and to raise our children according to those beliefs as we wish. So what makes this group destructive?

I believe the most destructive and insidious nature of this group came about after the " blow up". I of course have no recollection of the goings-on back then, though I recall hearing and reading that no one was hiding their involvement. Members were actively out proselytizing, wooing new members. Area churches, synagogues, and the Lutherans were expressing discontent over what was being done. There was a growing sense of paranoia. A seed of fear was planted, and talk of persecution was common.
The community continued to transform, with a growing atmosphere of "us vs. them".

My early memories start to come into focus during this post-blow up period, and many many things stand out as characteristics of an abusive or destructive cult.

1. Jack remained the leader, and children were made vulnerable to abuse. People stuck by Jack. People trusted him with their whole beings. Jack continued to teach and interact with teens and children. He took off out west with his new favorite young guy. People, parents, had no problem letting their kids be alone with Jack or other leaders in the cult knowing that abuse had happened. All in the name of God, right?
2. There was no system of accountability. In any sense. There still isn't. The political structure is very precise. There is a hierarchy and the people on the bottom have no real power or recourse. People pay their tithe, but you are not to ask what tithe is being used for. They can tell us, if they chose, but we can't ask. Is their a board to deliver oversight? No. Can a member for any ty? No.
3. Accountability...How about personal accountability? As a child I was taught that the world was going to end. Not to trust anyone, anyone, on the outside. We would be tested constantly, and we had to be ready. I was told that there were people out there hunting for us, who wanted us dead because of "who we are" (ie the descendants of Yeshua). We had to live within the system, but that society's system was false. Our covenant, our rules were the true laws of God. We had to answer to our clan heads, our elders. I was taught to keep secrets. We had to hide things. There were poor boundaries. So what happens? In families that were abusive, you learned to shut up. The covenant says that a wife cannot accuse a husband. A child cannot accuse a parent. If someone asks, you are permitted to answer honestly, but only if asked, and only if asked by an elder. So abuse was cloaked in secrecy. And if you were a child in this situation you could not count on those elders to help you.
Abba was accountable to no one. His cronies were accountable to no one, except him.
4. Guilt and fear. Our behavior, our intentions, our commitment was always questioned. Bad things would happen in the world because of our sinful actions. If we prayed enough we could stop the coming death and persecution. Remember the tsunami? Our fault. Members would act as security during teachings, posting themselves at every exit. In the early days of the cult, there were beatings. I can't speak for others, but in my house, fear and physical abuse was normal. As I have learned, this was not unique.
Here is a link after all:

cult characteristics

If you are reading blogs about this group, you have already heard all of this. Or you have experienced it. There is not much I can add. I want people who are reading this, who may still be caught up in it to see that it wasn't only Freckle Face or Pnina who experienced abuse and  went through the types of things they went through. It was not just the "dysfunctional" families.
This cult has not gone away. They have just become more cautious. They continue to move along their path. If anything, they have become more extreme. They still run a school in Corinna, Maine, and a preschool too. All members are strongly encouraged to send their children. There are still prophesies. They are moving further north. Don't think for a minute that they are fading away.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jack Hickman Cult: Terms to Know

Youth
The Family calls the second and third generation the "Youth". Youth can range from teenaged to people in their upper-forties and early fifties. Essentially, it is comprised of the second and third generations. These are any members who have been consecrated with a name from the dynastic line of King David. These are the "special" people, the new souls. They were apparently plucked from Guf by Jack himself at the direction of Yeshua. They are the souls meant to bring in the kingdom of God after the great apocalypse. They were also given the job of praying and being righteous and perfect enough to avert said apocalypse. It all rests on you. Go forth and be perfect.

Retreats
Back in 1996, when I was a young teenager, Jack aka "Abba" came out of hiding to resurrect his scattered tribe. There was a so-called retreat to bring the kids together to  learn our destiny. It was fun. It was more than fun, it was a self-affirming love fest. Thereafter there were retreats every six months, usually during Christmas and Memorial Day weekends. They were initially held in PA, then in CO, in Estes Park. They were "youth retreats", then were open to all family members. Eventually they were just once a year in ME. Now they are every year and back to being "youth retreats" for teenaged youth only. I only attended a couple of these. I remember a lot of lectures (aka teachings) by Jack, in addition to prayer, meditation, and ample reminders of how special we are and what we need to do. And oh yeah, the LOVE. The ultimate acceptance. Ready-made friends and family who all loved you. It felt good. The timing was good too. People left the retreats with a renewed sense of purpose and identity. It was a high. We loved God and loved each other. We were passionate about our destiny. And if these feelings began to fade as we got involved in our every day lives, the next retreat was just around the corner. Often, the youth were sent reading material prior to an upcoming retreat to prepare. After the retreats were over, youth were sent packets of that retreat's teachings. If you were in an area where there were other family members, classes were set up to revisit prior lessons and teachings. I am not absolutely sure if there are retreats now. If there are they are keeping information on a need-to-know basis.

Consecration
I remember a packet we all received titled: "Please Read This Before may 21st". I believe it was the prologue to an upcoming retreat in which the youth were learning about, or going to be consecrated. This was something new to the cult. Each youth, upon turning 13, would be consecrated with a name from the dynastic line of King David. Since this was new, all youth who were over 13 would be consecrated at the retreat. This meant that we were now an actual part of the dynastic line. When the kingdom comes, we would have a role in ruling the world. The girl names didn't mean anything. As far as I remember there was no real significance. The boy names however, they gave an actual role in the family structure. That is for another post. To prepare, the youth were given instructions on how to be ritually pure. They would dress in all white, stand before Jack or a "priest", and get olive oil on the forehead as their new name was announced. There was something about getting our feet washed too. I almost forgot, if you were female and menstruating, a priest couldn't touch you because it would make him unclean. In that case you got the privilege of being consecrated by Jack himself. You know, because he was so special that he was above all that lowly human stuff.

In the near future, a continuation of this post. Terms will include The Three Families, the Political Structure, and a breakdown of each title.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Here's another one

There are several blogs swirling around out there on the Jack Hickman Cult. Or Shoresh Yishai. Or "The Family". Whatever you want to call it. I am a born Hickmanite.  (If anyone needs some background about this cult, you can check these out, But Seriously, Moderndoomsdaycult, jack hickman cult)  I was born into this because both of my parents were a part of it. They signed the covenant that laid out the rules and purpose of the Family, and they were "finally adopted" meaning that they were now full-fledged members of Jack's family, The Family. Oh, and they were now somehow spiritually different from everyone else. By signing this covenant they were not only committing themselves for all eternity, but also their children. Those born and those yet to be born. As one of those "yet to be born" I got no say in the matter.  Has anyone else out there ever challenged this? I have, at least a few times. The answer was always always the same: "This is who you are. You were born for a specific purpose, you can accept it or deny it, but it will not change who you are or what you are a part of. " Whether it was from a parent, and elder or a priest it was the same. Some of them would elaborate by just reminding me that you can never really leave the family, even if you want to.  Even if I do leave, it won't change a thing in the long run. I will still be used for the purpose I was born to fulfill, even if it is by my death. If someone walks away they will be living a purposeless life with no identity in God's kingdom. Yeah...I'll expand on this in a future post.
So, why this blog? I have not had the desire to blog before, nor have I wanted to read them. Blogs often seem a bit narcissistic to me. Writing can be cathartic, but who wants to read all about someone else's crap? Or the details of their dinner or daily activities?  Then I stumbled onto a blog about Jack Hickman. I couldn't stop reading. My doubts, yet unvoiced, were finally validated! I questioned things I never thought to question. I got pissed. Yet I wasn't struck by lightening or hit by a car, so I let myself get more pissed. And now here I am. Writing can be cathartic, and so can reading something I relate to. I plan on writing a lot about this cult; my experiences growing up within it, and the teachings that were given over the years. I've recently cracked open my books again (the cult packets that were printed out and distributed to everyone regularly, especially the youth), and let me tell you, there were some whammies! Did I actually read this stuff without blinking before? Some of it comes straight out of Cult 101. Seriously. It is that obvious. I want to slap myself in the head. But some of it is less obvious, and it was being drilled into our heads from birth, so I'll give myself and all the other youth a break, for now.
I am not much of a writer, not very witty, and more than a little pissed off. With that said, I will do my best to refrain from too much sarcasm and self-absorbed ranting. I'm not writing any of this to be vindictive, and I care deeply about people still in this cult. I really do. Oh, and I'm a hypocrite. I would like to stay anonymous, so identifying details about myself and my story may be changed to protect myself and immediate family. I don't claim to be unbiased, and I do have an agenda- to open the curtain on the secrecy, to expose the fucked up things that have been covered up from the youth, even though it put some of us in harm's way, and others of us at risk. But I will be as accurate as possible with information, and I welcome feedback. I hope there are members of the family out there who realize they have the right to question things that don't sit right. If everything is so "right" and "spiritual" and honest, then what is the need for secrecy? A silly blog won't change anything.