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Control/Oversight (page 2)

Strict financial control - If members are kept financially dependent on the group, leaving will be more difficult. The most blatant example of this occurs in Christian Fellowship Church in Waukegan, IL. As of December of 1999 (and today, so far as we know), male "staff" members are expected (if not required) to give their entire paycheck to the church. They receive a small amount (about $20 per week) for miscellaneous expenses, and receipts can be submitted for additional "refunds" (if the expenses are "approved"). And it's not enough to write a check for the amount of your paycheck - you have to show the "money changers" your pay stub because they don't trust you.

In such an environment, accumulating the money you need to move out on your own would be difficult to say the least. I recall several occasions where the pastor and/or church treasurer warned us to keep an eye on guys that appeared to be saving up so they could bail out.

Segregation - It seems that many cults love to show how diverse they are. To quote from the CFCMI website, "Men, women, and children from every social, economic, and racial background are working together for God around the globe in Christian Fellowship Church Ministries, International." The People's Temple (Jim Jones), and the Branch Davidians (David Koresh) made similar claims, and they did indeed have people from all classes and races.

However, if you were to step into any CFCMI church building in the U.S. right before service, you'd be shocked at the glaring segregation. Not between black and white, or between rich and poor, but between male and female. There's a big group of men over here, a smaller group of women over there, and an obvious gulf in between. It's a rare visitor that sees it and says, "oh, yeah; that's perfectly normal." Part of being a good church member is coming up with several good ways of explaining it away, and learning to perform these explanations convincingly. :)

Why is it done? Quite simply, to make sure the single guys stay single. Just talking to a woman "in an inappropriate fashion" or "at the wrong time" can get you a good old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone rebuking. You have to get permission from the pastor before you start dating, and God help you if you want to date someone they don't like.

Single people can give more time and money, so it's in the group's financial and manpower interests to keep people single. Some groups won't readily admit this, but some are downright proud of it. At one point, Ed Thomas instituted a policy in Norfolk that no more than two couples per year could get married, because it "put too much of a drain on the church's resources."

Common transportation - In addition to group housing, common transportation is quite effective in keeping the faithful (and those that can't be trusted to be faithful) from having any contact with "the wrong people." Cults like CFCMI seem to be most successful in recruiting young people, and they often don't have their own cars. The group can maintain additional control over them by encouraging them not to purchase a car. After all, Brother X has a car, and it's no problem for him to drop you off at work. Besides, if you bought a car, you couldn't give as much money in the offering.

This helps the group make sure that people aren't going anywhere without them knowing about it. I worked as the "civilian ride coordinator" for a couple of months in Norfolk, and also as a "lieutenant," and I saw more than a couple of occasions where people got in trouble for getting a friend from work to give them a ride home, for taking a "non-member" to work in the morning, or for having somone not in the church take them to work. Usually, it was frowned upon because (1) they were spending time with someone from work when they could have been "with the brothers," (2) they were afraid someone's co-workers would find out what kind of living arrangements the members had, or (3) other brothers would be jealous because one person was "getting away" with being different.

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