Following the initial 3, 7, 21day workshops and "40 day actionizing," I joined the "national MFT" (Mobile Fundraising Team) for 2 years. I traveled the US for 2 years in a Ford van with 10, sometimes 11 people, selling foil pictures ($6 or 4 for $20) to raise funds for the group - without pay, health insurance, or any other benefits. We all slept in the van, even when it was below freezing, selling flowers on the street on holidays ...even Christmas! (Imagine waking up in the morning at 20 below and scraping the ice from the inside of the windows before "washing up" in a McDonald's bathroom and being dropped off for fundraising...) But I didn't mind since I had been taught to believe that I was doing it to make God happy and help to build His kingdom on earth. We had $7 a day budget for food, no pocket money. If our parents or someone else sent us money we were strongly urged to hand it in. Keeping it was considered selfish and a "bad spiritual condition" that would allow satan to invade. My team leader even asked me to give away a nice, expensive watch my parents had sent me for a birthday present. I did. In the beginning we were also asked to give up our "Isaac" (the things we loved most, like Abraham who was asked by God to give up his most beloved son Isaac). For me that was my family and friends in Germany, my flute/music, and my country (I would not be able to return to Germany because was dodging the mandatory civil service I was enrolled to begin in December. The implicit question was, "What do you love more - God or your country?")
After 2 years I "graduated" from MFT and joined the CARP center at UIC (University of Illinois) campus in Chicago, where I "witnessed" (recruited), fundraised and lectured for 4 1/2 years until May of 1993. Again, I worked ILLEGALLY IN THE US an average of 18 to 20 hours a day, without pay, vacation, health insurance, workers' comp or any other benefits. During the 6 1/2 years of my involvement I raised a total of over $ 600,000 for the group (my average during the last 3 years was $500/day; my record was $1500 in one day selling pictures, and $2100 selling flowers), on which the group paid $0 on taxes - although CARP was not tax exempt in the state I was in (MA). I recruited 3 fulltime members who in turn recruited 3 others. Taking a low average of $200/day, that's another $60.000+ per member or $360.000/year total - no taxes paid. I was allowed to see my parents ONCE for 3 days during that 6 1/2 year time period, and only because my father had pressured the leaders, saying, "Even in Communist prison camps, families are allowed to visit their child at least for a few days each year. How come you don't allow our son to see us?"
Even when I was sent to Germany by the church in 87 to get a new visa, I was strictly forbidden to contact my family. We had a special workshop just before leaving to make sure we understood the seriousness of the situation and that satan was just waiting to destroy our eternal spiritual life if we made the bad spiritual condition to call or visit our parents. We were instructed to completely avoid contact even with German CARP because they might want to keep us there. Being a good and faithful member I followed the instructions. Some of those who didn't indeed were "invaded by satan" (according to the church) as we later were told: they left the church after visiting their family and "being deprogrammed." (Another lie, as I found out after leaving. Anita, for example, one of my former group leaders, had simply agreed to talk with someone about her faith as she believed that she had the truth. The facts she was shown about the church simply convinced her otherwise after she did some research - and she decided to leave. She is living happily in Switzerland today.) Like everyone else I was indoctrinated with the fear that "the worst thing that can happen to you is to be invaded by satan by loosing your faith and returning to the evil, satanic, fallen world." That's what had happened to those poor souls.
Dramatized examples like this were augmented by our leaders with stories of former members who had recently gone insane or been killed in a horrible car accident. One of the "36 blessed couples" (the first 36 disciples Mr. Moon matched in marriage), Rev. Hong (church leader in Chicago in 93), even told us that one of his church members who didn't obey his direction had his child born ...without ears. What nonsense... but we believed it. (How it is possible to be made to believe something you normally would not I will discuss later.) We were conditioned to do so. Not believing your leader was considered arrogance and a condition for being invadeded by satan. Besides, why would a blessed leader lie to us? -
(To control us.)
At the UIC campus in Chicago, I met, prayed and shared with a sincere, humble Christian engineering student. His pointing out the contradictions between the teaching of the UC, the "Divine Principle" or "DP," and the Bible caused me to start thinking critically again. For the first time I seriously considered the possibility that I had been deceived. (More details about the religious part of my experience under the section "Why I left.") After praying and doing my own research I walked away on Mother's Day (May 10th) 1993. When I called my mother in Germany that day and inconspicuously mentioned that I was coming home ...she cried. "And I thought you would be happy!" I jokingly responded.
It took me a few months to do more research and get myself together before I started a job in data processing in the fall. The next year I got married to my high school sweetheart (a cute German nurse) and we attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago together. In August of 96 I finished my Master's Degree (M.Ed.) in counseling psychology at Cambridge College, MA (Boston area). I am presently living in Germany again.
E-mail me your response, I'd be happy to provide more information. (E.g. an analysis of the Parallels)
"Why I left (Religious Reasons) 0"
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