An Independent and Critical Resource on the "House of Jacob"
Saturday, July 15, 2000
SUBMIT YOUR PERSONAL STORY
Key Buzzwords of the "House of Jacob" Defined
- Members fear they will suffer the public humiliation of the "backseat," this church's form of shunning or punishment -- the treatment you receive for doing "worldly" things, rebelling, or admitting to sin. For example, someone from church saw another member, a young girl, wearing pants. They would tell the pastor and the girl would be put on the "backseat." She would be required to attend every service, sit on the last pew in the church ("backseat"), but not be allowed to participate in anyway during the service: not stand for prayer, sing songs, clap hands with music, talk to other members, etc. This type of shunning is usually carried on outside of the church also. One must get up and leave before the service is officially over, so others will not be forced to bump into one accidentally and so be required to say excuse me. If one is not of driving age, one must go to one's family's car and wait until they are ready to leave. If a member sees one at the grocery store, they will not speak with a member on the "backseat." Disgraced members are rarely given a specific time period they must "serve" on the backseat. Only when the "Spirit" moves the congregation or pastor to do so is a public announcement made in church during the service and everyone welcomes the shunned member back into the congregation.
- Books, or "Get My Name on The Books":
- The membership rolls of the House of Jacob. Members believe that when they die, they will reincarnate in a miserable existence if they don't have their "name on the books." A former member writes:
"When former members are dying who fought to maintain the lifestyle this church demands, and gave up trying, they make desperate attempts to contact old pastors or church officials they're friends with (or used to be) and beg to just "please, put my name on the books"!!
- This is billed as the HOJ annual business meeting. It is, however, more of a social event, on the order of family reunions for most. Thousands of members attend these events. HOJ has four meetings or convocations. The first is at Headquarters, called the Mid-Western Regional Convocation and is held in late July. The second is in Maryland, called the Eastern Regional Convocation, and is held in late August. The third is in Florida, called the Southern Regional Convocation and is held in mid September. Finally the last convocation is held in Arizona, called the Western Regional Convocation and is held in early October. Article 29 in the book of bylaw has this to say about convocations:
"When thou cometh to the Holy Convocation, there shall be no courting or carnal love making. The married saints are to live apart during these meetings. If it is possible, all women shall sleep in the same apartment, or however it may be, let women sleep in the women's quarters, and the men in the men's quarters. During our annual convocation there shall not be romantic car rides or taking walks with the sister saints by the brothers; there shall not be night calls for 'my wife' or 'my husband,' unless one gets orders for some specific reason from the officers in charge. During the Holy Convocation, the married couples are to be as though they are not married."
- Daughters of God:
- This organization is in essence a social gathering for HOJ women, with a formal organization of weekly meetings, treasuries, officers, etc. Some areas no longer have these organizations. In the HOJ book of bylaws, under article 24, it says: "The Sons and Daughters of God auxiliaries have ceased functioning in several areas; some of them have become too discouraged to endeavor to start again because many persons have borrowed money from their treasuries and have not returned it until this day. Some persons have passed on and others having gone back into the world owing debts to the Sons and Daughters of God." Also "Sons of Gods" for men.
- Day's Labor:
- Excerpted from article 22 in the book of bylaws:
"During the earlier days of this church, a system was instituted that each member give our Founder, Father G. W. Israel, the earnings of one day's labor (8 hours). Some of the saints who had experienced the worst days of the depression, and had accepted the Truth and personal advice from Father Israel, are now saying, 'We've never had it so good.' We were informed that contributions made to this church, or to this Corporate Body are deductible by the donors from their income tax reports, which applies to non-members as well as to the members of this Body. Records are kept of all finance that is forwarded to the headquarters, therefore the amounts that are contributed to this church can be deducted legally, however, when a sum of money is given to an individual as a gift, even a personal gift to me, it IS NOT deductible. The contributing of Day's Labor is only an additional gift of gratitude and an act of love from those who care, but you cannot legally deduct the Day's Labor amount from your taxable income."
Tax professionals will generally indicate that it is legal to claim any amount members "give" to a church or tax-exempt charitable organization, as long as it exceeds a certain amount ($250 is the amount now). On tax schedule A for itemized deductions, the area for this type of deduction is called "Gifts to Charity." It does not specify church tithes or other dues. (Please note that trancenet.net nor the author of this website are tax professionals. This information is not meant to be professional tax advice: Please seek the counsel of a tax professional before completing any tax document.)
- Devil And Rebellion:
- Everything that is not endorsed by the HOJ is said to be "of the Devil" or rebellious. Similar to "worldly." The spirit of Satan, or the Devil, makes one do worldly things.
- A member is taken off the official membership roster -- they are said to no longer have their "name on the books." They are told they are no longer welcome. Excommunicated members are usually treated as separate by family members who are still involved with HOJ. Excommunication is similar to "shunning," but is not as extreme. Members are told that when "bad" things happen to them, it is because they are now excommunicated.
- He is their supreme bishop or leader. He is believed to have the same Spirit of God that Christ had. He is called "Father", "Lord," and "Savior" -- all of these meaning God himself. When members are taught to pray as children, they are told to visualize his face in their mind as they pray. They always pray using the words "Father" or "Lord." From birth they are taught that Father knows all and sees all. They are taught to fear him, worship him. He is chauffeured and rarely drives on his own. They sing songs of praise to the Father such as:
- My God Is A Man, Don't You Know
- He's Got His Eyes On You, And He Sees All That You Do
- Will You Honor The Lord Your Savior, Will You Give All You Have For Him
Members hang the Founder's picture above a throne-styled seat in the pulpit. The throne seat, which is required for each and every church, is reserved for him only. Members may not touch it, except to clean it. There is a sermon outlined in the Founder's biography book written by the second Father (JIS, see below) entitled, "I Am That I Am," claiming that God's Spirit or God Himself was placed in famous Biblical figures' bodies, which "moved on" to another "tabernacle," or body when they died, and is now within the "House of Jacob" leader. They refer to this exchange of the Spirit as "giving up the Ghost."
An excerpt from the constitution and bylaws book describes the relationship required between members and Father:
"It is disrespectful and even wrong for any member to rebel in any way against the Father of this church. The board shall go its limit to clarify and show the rebel that the voice of the Father shall be heard and recognized above the words of anyone else. A ruler's word is to be kept above all others' on earth. A great mistake is made whenever one deems the Father to be no more than other men. The ministers of this body must protect the ruler of this church from disgrace more so than to protect their own families and children from such."
There have been four fathers so far:
1910-1934 Father G. W. Israel, P.O.I. (Pope Of Israel)
1934-1972 Father W. Wright, J.I.S. (Jehovah Is Seen; some members report that this acronym stood for Jesus Israel Savior)
1972-1979 Father W. B. Israel, S.O.T. (Son Of Thunder)
1979-present Father J. Daniel Israel, J.O.G. (Judge Of God)
Members report being uncertain how the initials were given or what their "true," or perhaps secret, meanings are.
- Godly Offering:
- Headquarters, or "the Farm":
- This is the "Jerusalem" of House of Jacob members. The leader/"Father" lives there. The church owns roughly 17 houses. Families are chosen to live at Headquarters who are in good standing with the church. Some people are chosen because of certain skills they might have: They might call a family to live on "the farm" because the wife is a nurse. The church is in constant, desperate need of nurses at their nursing home at Headquarters. This is also the location of the sacred cemetery where two of the three deceased Fathers are buried. One can find a 9-foot tall bronze statue of the Founder in this area. Here, too, is their office building, known as the "Control Center." The Control Center used to be a school, which members called BESA or Bethlehem Elementary School Association. We hope to include a lengthy article on the BESA soon.
- King James Version Bible:
- This is the only Bible HOJ members may use. They claim that the New International Version (NIV), New American Standard (NAS), and Revised Version Bibles are not the true Bible. Rather these versions were written by Christians (or "worldly" people) who twisted the true words of the Bible to allow themselves privileges that would have been sin in the KJV.
- Mandatory Offering:
- According to former members, the House of Jacob has always had mandatory financial offerings. This includes the 10% "tithe, which is highly regulated and checked, as well as an additional 1% offering (1% of members' gross wages). The House of Jacob boasts that they don't pass offering plates around except on Sunday, excluding their Tuesday and Friday night services. They also claim that they are not concerned about how much money they receive -- unlike churches of the "world." Readers may judge for themselves by reading the tithing procedure below.
- Pentecostal Day:
- This is the day when HOJ people "tarry" to get the Holy Spirit or more power and spiritual strength. It is celebrated on the closest Sunday to June . Members celebrate this event all day long with three services, usually lasting about 2 hours each.
To "tarry," members kneel down in their pews and cross their arms on the seats and rest their heads on their arms. They begin chanting "allelujah" over and over again, first slowly and then faster until they are saying it as fast as they can; it soon sounds like "lalalalalalala." At some point members are said to "receive the Holy Spirit," jump up and flap their arms around in the air, and say nonsense phrases such as, "ddddd doshiah" or "see doe dee doe dee doe dee." Some members convulse so heavily that they must be carried out by four or five strong ushers. It is very common for people to become so entranced while convulsing that they rip their clothing, knock over musical equipment, chairs, people. Members actually report witnessing very violent convulsing and arm flapping in which blood was shed and members were taken to a nurse's station. (Nurses are usually kept on hand for such events.)
The above describes the experience for people who have already received the Spirit and are "tarrying" for more power. For first timers, such as small children, one must go to the front of the church and kneel down on reserved pews. When the tarrying begins, the high-ranking officers of the church come down from the pulpit and assist members so that they know when to get up. For some this comes naturally, they seem to just get it so easily and quickly. For others, it may take years: One former member reports it took 11 years. The officials come down and listen closely to you "tarrying." If the member is not saying "lalalalalalala" just so, they model it for the member until he or she repeats it the "right" way. Eventually, if one says say "allelujah" to the officials' satisfaction, they lift one up and help one to flap one's arms like a chicken, after which they slowly dance one outside, flapping one's arms, and bring one a drink. One can then cool down and wipe all the sweat, spit, and drool off one's face.
- Twice a year, on the last Sundays in November and April, the House of Jacob holds "Rally Day." During this event, HOJ churches ask members to give all their "excess income" to the church -- that is, money in addition to the 11% of their gross demanded by the church for tithing. Church officials often preach about rallies: "We don't want your rent money or utility bill money; we want your Snickers or cigarette money." They usually announce four to six weeks before the event that members need to sign up for how much money they will "vow." Members form a line to the table at the front of the church, and the treasurer marks by their name how much they vow to give on Rally Day. After that, on every Sunday until Rally Day, members may make payments on their vowed amount. The treasurer will take a seat at the same table with the tithes secretary to take payments. Usually, members pay off their vowed amount early and give even more on the actual Rally Day.
Since all money collected at every church is sent to Headquarters (except small gifts allowed pastors and various secretaries), local missions (churches) are forced to have rallies at times other than the national rally. Churches depend on this money to pay utility bills or maintain buildings because they may not keep any of the tithes or offering money.
- Reincarnation and Eternal Life:
- These are the same concepts to House of Jacob members. They believe that heaven and hell are merely states of mind. Therefore, if one is depressed, or psychotic, or having a bad day, or feeling guilty, one is in hell. If one is happy, and everything in your life is going well, and one is a member of the House of Jacob, then one is in heaven. They teach that when one dies, the spirit or soul goes back to God and He finds another body for it, usually in the form of a baby. However, some spirits or souls can go into people who are living already, and not just being born. This leads to members' belief of Fathers "giving up the ghost." Members may also believe that if one lives a good life and dies as a member of the House of Jacob, even if one recently had one's name entered on the membership book, then one's spirit will be born into the baby of a HOJ members family. This is how members define eternal life: The spirit never dies, it simply moves on and on and on. However, if one is not an HOJ member, no matter what kind of a life one lived, then one is reincarnated as a dog, fly, or some person in the "world" leading a miserable existence.
- As in cultic groups, HOJ members fear they will suffer the public humiliation if they transgress the church's rules. See "backseat" above.
- Sons of God:
- See "Daughters of God."
- This is the Spirit of the Lord. The HOJ people believe that baptism isn't enough for salvation. One must also utter the word "allelujah" over and over again once a year, on Pentecostal Day, and have a special "interpreter" hear you to listen for a special tone of "lalalalalalalalala," which former members report happens for any practitioner after roughly 2 minutes of repetition as fast as possible. Then a member is said to have received their special alloted portion of the Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit that members talk about as leading them to call on certain people to render the sermon, or lead songs, or do a good deed -- and occasionally some bad ones.
- Members must utter the word "allelujah" over and over again once a year, on Pentecostal Day, until they go into convulsions. A special "interpreter" must hear you to listen for a special tone of "lalalalalalalalala," which former members report happens for any practitioner after roughly 2 minutes of repetition as fast as possible. Then a member is said to have received their special alloted portion of the Holy Spirit. Also see " Anonymous 1's Personal Story."
- Mandatory tithing, or giving a fixed percentage of one's income to the church, is checked thoroughly -- one might say, obsessively. Members turn tithes in before the church service begins. The tithes secretary tallies the total during service and makes check marks beside members' names who paid and how much they paid. (The tithes secretary sits at a special table below the pulpit. The table has an engraved message: "This do in remembrance of me." You will find this in every HOJ church.)
Members must hand in tithes in an envelope with exact change -- cash or coins only. Members are required to mark on the outside of the envelope the amount of gross pay and their contribution, showing all the arithmetic (10% tithes and 1% offering). An example might be:
Brother John Doe, [local church name]
If a member makes a mistake or is short by a few cents, church officials approach the member before leaving church, telling him or her they are short and demanding the amount be given to them. If a member does not pay his or her tithes -- even if unable to pay because of poverty -- they receive a "talk" from the pastor. If the member still does not or can not pay, he or she and his family is put on the backseat. If despite shunning, a member is unable to pay, he or she receives a letter from "Father." Finally a member is excommunicated. At one time, so many members were not paying that the church was losing a large number of members. Their response? They raised the tithes to 14% on all remaining member to cover the shortfall for approximately 5 years. The HOJ book of bylaws has this interesting quote on tithing: "Ministers who will not pay their tithes properly .... must relinquish his credentials to the district overseer.... until the minister proves himself satisfactorily ready to preach the gospel....members, who are not ministers, shall be treated in like manner, and such persons must not be used around the altar in the services of the Lord, but may be used for secular labors only." Another section in the bylaws excuses large families -- 13 or more children -- from paying tithes until the seventh child is married or out of the family's home. One former member writes: "I know of one family recently that had nine children. The 'Father' told them that this would be their last child, to got get 'fixed,' they'd had enough fruit for the Lord."
X .10 (10%)
X .10 (10% of tithes or 1% of gross)
$55.00 total [today's date or date of pay period]
The "House of Jacob" organizes the flow of all this money through what they call their central banking system. All the churches in over 40 states count, check, record monies collected, and have cash transporters (because they don't like checks) bring all this money to Headquarters, where it's deposited into a single bank account. Local churches are forced to support themselves with bake sales every Sunday to pay rent or utilities because they are not allowed to retain any of the tithes money. According to the book of bylaws: "Some members have written to my office seeking verification for the amounts which they have paid at their local church for fuel, electric, and gas expenses. Such records are not kept for that purpose at the headquarters, and no local official of this church has been authorized to verify for the corporate body any sum of money that a member has paid at his local church for the pleasure and enjoyment of the members of that local place of worship."
- Virgin Birth:
- The birth of Jesus to Mary through the Holy Spirit with God as the Father and Joseph as the mortal head. A former member writes: "The Bible clearly says (if you read it in context) that the angel of the Lord (Gabriel, I think) came to Joseph in a dream and told him, 'Go and take Mary for your wife, she's not a loose woman, don't let the people humiliate her, she has been blessed by the Holy Spirit to give birth to the Son of God, and you will name him Jesus, and he will free all men from their sins."
- "House of Jacob" designation for anything that does not originate from the House of Jacob itself. The "world" is anyone who is not a member, including former members, and especially Christians. "Worldly" refers to any thing, organization, act, person, being, presence, etc., that is not HOJ.
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