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The Way International Defined

adapted from an outline by "Steven Hassan"
Alternate Names: The Way, The Way International, The Way International Biblical Research and Teaching Institute, PFAL course (Power for Abundant Living)

blackball.GIFThe Way International Defined
blackball.GIFOrganizations Related to The Way International

What You Should Know About
The Way International

blackball.GIFIf you are thinking about joining
blackball.GIFIf you are a current member
blackball.GIFIf you are a former member
blackball.GIFHow to help a friend or relative in The Way International

Critiques of The Way International

blackball.GIFThe Hassan Model - BITE
blackball.GIFStatements by former members of The Way International
blackball.GIFArticles critiquing aspects of the group's leader and ideology
blackball.GIFArticles concerning practices of the group that are questionable

Other Sources of Information about The Way International

blackball.GIFWeb sites maintained by The Way International
blackball.GIFWeb sites critical of The Way International

Return to Help

The Way International Defined
adapted from Arkansas Democrat, October 15, 1995.
Victor Paul Wierwille founded The Way International, a Christian group based on idiosyncratic readings of the Bible, in 1942 on a 147-acre tract in rural New Knoxville, Ohio. It just happened to be his birthplace.

Wierwille founded what would become The Way after receiving what he claimed was a message from God.

"He spoke to me audibly, just like I am talking to you now," Wierwille explained in a Way biography. "He said he would teach me the Word as it had not been known since the first century, if I would teach it to others."

Wierwille began teaching unusual beliefs, which most mainstream Christians find disturbing, such as Jesus Christ is not God; today's Jews are actually an impostor tribe from Siberia, not the Bible's chosen people; the Jewish Holocaust is a myth; much of the Gospel doesn't have any real meaning today; and others.

In 1953, Wierwille began teaching "Power For Abundant Living" (PFAL) classes, which evolved into a 36-hour taped introductory course to The Way.

He defined The Way as "a Biblical research and teaching ministry." Critics have called it a cult.

Wierwille organized The Way around the structure of a tree. Individuals are Leaves, local home fellowships are Twigs, state advisers are Limb Coordinators, headquarters is the Root.

The group attracted media attention in the 1970s as it grew rapidly. Followers were easily recruited from high schools and colleges. Throughout the country, the Twigs generally met twice during the week and on Sunday mornings to sing, pray and listen to teaching tapes by Wierwille.

However, media attention began to focus on other aspects of The Way. Rumors of survival training and the buildup of a military stronghold circulated. Students attending advanced classes were required to learn how to shoot a gun. They were advised to bring a Bible, Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and "a rifle or shotgun (handgun also if desired,)" according to several publications.

Wierwille also warned followers about the Illuminati, supposedly a world cartel of powerful individuals secretly planning to overthrow the U.S. government.

Charges of anti-Semitism brought more unwanted publicity. Followers were urged to read books that cast doubt on the Holocaust. Members alleged that Wierwille and other Way leaders taught that the Holocaust was a myth concocted by the Jews.

In 1982 Wierwille passed leadership to L. Craig Martindale.

The church was beset by infighting and tax troubles after Wierwille died in 1985, and membership fell from an estimated 100,000 to 20,000.

Insiders have reported instances of weapons stockpiling, kidnapping, wife-swapping and other sexual misconduct, and financial scandal -- with varying degrees of documentation in personal testimony, and in the press.

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Statements of Former Members
blackball.GIFJohn Lynn, a former Way Leader, describes sexual misconduct, a tyrannical leadership not accountable to anyone for what he sees as abuses of power, and psychologically abusive tactics used to collect money from followers.

blackball.GIFJim Martin, No Way Out editor and former Way member, asks pointed questions of Way leader Craig Martindale in an open letter.

blackball.GIFAn anonymous ex-Way member, demands explanations for contradictory Way teachings.

blackball.GIFAnother anonymous ex-member speaks movingly of the painful shaming and ostracization he experienced for not toeing the Way line -- tactics that he blames for causing his divorce and the breakup of his family. He also describes the extreme atmosphere within the Way's inner core, where leaders defend David Koresh and speak of similar dire consequences if Way Headquarters are ever attacked.

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Critical Articles
blackball.GIFThe Arkansas Democrat gives an excellent overview of the Way -- and the heart-breaking stories of families ripped apart trying to follow destructive teachings, such as sexual promiscuity in marriage.

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Questionable Practices
blackball.GIFSexual promiscuity in marriage: The Arkansas Democrat, John Lynn

blackball.GIFMany of the Core Beliefs that Wierwille taught disturb mainstream Christians, such as Jesus Christ is not God; today's Jews are actually an impostor tribe from Siberia, not the Bible's chosen people; the Jewish Holocaust is a myth; much of the Gospel doesn't have any real meaning today; and others.

blackball.GIF"Speaking in tongues" is actually hyperventilation techniques -- alleged to be practiced to the point of damage to the central nervous system

blackball.GIFWeapons stockpiling and paramilitary training

blackball.GIFPsychologically abusive extortion of money from followers: John Lynn

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Web Sites Maintained by The Way International
None currently
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Web Sites Critical of The Way International
blackball.GIFNo Way Out
With insider secrets, news archive, personal essays, and more.

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