Many people have found the blog recently who don’t have firsthand experience attending the sect. Their only knowledge of it is through a family member or loved one. The more you hear, the more red flags pop up. Sirens go off in your head, but you don’t know enough to do anything about it.
But the more you take the time to learn about the sect, the more your loved one’s behavior can start making sense. Only then can you get inside their head and help them rethink their commitment to the teachings of men. That’s why this blog exists, to deepen everyone’s understanding of Stanton’s historical roots and the premises of their often bizarre unbiblical doctrines.
Don’t get me wrong, understanding them doesn’t justify their behavior. But at least it will help you understand why your loved one acts the way they do. I want to give loved ones of Stanton members some tips for (a) understanding, (b) maintaining a relationship, and (c) helping those in the group find their way out.
I offer this advice with a profound sense of humility, since the main reason I started this blog was to help my mom see the chains she’s placed on herself. I wanted desperately for her to taste the freedom in Christ that I have, and that is hers for the taking. But after nearly 30 years of trying, she’s still entrenched in the Stanton sect. She helped start it. It’s a huge part of her identity as a human being, much less a Christian.
The fact that she’s resisted my efforts to convince her she was deceived nearly 50 years ago is no doubt a badge of honor in her circle of friends. I’m sure her superiors lavish praise on her for “standing firm” against my efforts to reason with her. But the truth is, there is always hope. Something could still click with her, and maybe someday she’ll be honest with herself that she’s been deceived. But it’s not as likely now as it was a decade or two ago.
Not everyone who reads this is in the same situation. Maybe your loved one is not as entrenched as my mom is. Though I have lost hope in ever seeing my mom free of the chains she’s placed on herself—free of the darkened pair of glasses through which she views our loving and gracious God—I know others whose loved ones are on the brink of leaving. Maybe they have doubts, and already see through some of the teachings of men.
For them, they might just need a little more courage to slip the chains off their feet and walk away. If that’s your loved one, this article is for you. Read the history here, study your Bible with renewed zeal, and develop a strategy for influencing your loved one to reconsider their undying commitment to fallible teachers.
Here are some tips for dealing with your loved one who is a Stanton member:
- Avoid a document dump. Giving them a document dump on all the cults and their techniques for manipulating members doesn’t work. “I’m in a cult”—said no cult member ever. They obviously don’t believe they’re in one, and they’ll just point out all the differences from the examples you bring up to justify their beliefs. You’ll need to invest in the relationship enough to filter through factual information and only bring up to them what you think they will see as persuasive objections to Stanton’s doctrines or practices. Take the time to understand their unique motivations for getting involved in Stanton, and work backwards from there. Ask them outright, why did you join? What convinced you? Show a genuine desire to understand their train of thought.
- You’re not a Christian. You are not a fellow Christian to them. This is why they leave their heads down after the “amen” when you pray over a meal. They can’t acknowledge that your prayer was actually heard by God, because you’re a “sinner.” You are either in a false church, or the “off church” if you’re from a mainline Church of Christ. Approaching them from the standpoint of a fellow Christian will just bring out their need to convert you and/or disregard your opinions. If you want to reach them, you’ll need to swallow your pride and humor them enough to communicate to them with the understanding that they have zero respect for your faith in God, no matter how deep it may be.
- They consider themselves Bible experts. They consider themselves experts on the Bible, although they’re clearly not. So unless you have a good grasp of scripture and are familiar with their lines of reasoning AND their objections to your lines of reasoning, pulling a few verses out for their consideration will have no effect. They will completely disregard what your pastor says about this or that verse, and pick apart any superficial arguments from Scripture—especially if it’s John 3:16 or any other popularized verse. If you want to base your reasoning with them on scripture, really get to know your Bible first so you can talk intelligently about the context of the verses they twist.
- Don’t be a hater. When you do bring up your objections about Stanton, don’t bash everything about it all at once. Just create food for thought. Ask questions that will help them reach the right conclusion. “Why do you have to ask permission from a Teacher to go to your niece’s wedding, just because it would require you to be out of town on a weekend?” Then ask where they see that in the Bible—because as far as you know, it’s not. A little humility and tact goes a long way in getting your concerns heard and taken seriously. Don’t be shy about planting seeds of doubt about lies they believe.
- Relationship is key to influence. I’m a foster parent, and a common truism for foster parents is “connect before you correct.” Kids, especially teens, need to feel a connection before they’ll be receptive to you correcting their behavior. This is true in dealing with your loved ones in the Stanton sect. Develop a genuine relationship, as much as is possible, and communicate clearly to them that you care—long before you bring anything up about the sect. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Great post, Kevin. Much needed advice.
Very enlightening! As I look back some things that appeared odd to us and friends and family of those in this cult are becoming easier to understand. Thank you!
Wonderful and timely post, Kevin. It's well thought out and excellent advice! The thing I fought most when I was with the group was it's being called a cult-I thought ones just didn't know the group very well! But this website has folks on it that know the group very well, as most of us were in it at one time.If I had known others had doubts too, it would have helped me to leave sooner. I didn't know that one of the reasons folks got withdrawn from for "murmuring" was to keep them quiet, and from causing others to… Read more »
Debby yes I agree. If I had known others had doubts I too wouldn't have felt like I was the only one. It would have helped me search sooner. But the leaders in Merie's church deceive and go around one's valid doubts. Instead of talking about the real reason our family left, they gave vague references and instead blamed it on sin and wanting the world and on Google. But it's ok to Google all you want about other religions and use it in your sermons! Just like other false religions, they don't want to admit or revisit their nasty… Read more »
absolutely Seeking! The last May meeting that I was in the group still was the one about nylons and-get this-that the bread for the Lord's Supper can only be broken ONCE! The Spring Valley evangelist said-and I quote-"We can prove Christ only broke the bread once!"I went to my bible and looked up ALL of the scriptures that talked about the Lord's Supper, and not one of them said he only broke it once. They simply state that he broke it, that's it!Yet it's now doctrine for Merie's group that when the bible says Christ broke the bread, it means… Read more »
Funny you say that Debby they only speak where the Bible speaks also they of course add to be silent where the Bible is silent. One you know well said in a class this past year it was their church motto. I could've fell out of my chair when I heard this one say that if they only knew how deceived they are thinking that. Merie's cult followers being deceived is a scary place to be.
Kevin, one more thing that I would like to add to your advice and tips for loved ones, is to continually reaffirm their love to their loved one. Let them know that you still love them, and welcome them to family get togethers and events. That they welcome them to come over any time to visit, etc. This is very important! They need to know that they have ones outside of the group that still love them-that way if they decide to leave they have someone to help them!I would caution the loved ones to not say that to the… Read more »
I would like to add that members are taught to be superstitious. I was taught Ecclesiastics 7:14 in the day of adversity consider; if you see three or more things going bad or wrong this is God telling you he is unhappy with you. Members believe they have an understanding of God's mind and will by the little things that happen in ones life both the little good things and the little bad things. A persons car breaking down is a sign of God's displeasure and not a lack of maintenance. Getting a raise is a sign of God's pleasure.… Read more »
I had not put two and two together but with the teaching of "three times it happened I knew it was God trying to tell me something" and then getting threatening phone calls at different times (once I star sixtnined the blocked call and it dialed the last number which called me and it rang and rang and finally went to voicemail which was one of the Christians homes) I see how the SCOC taught a superstition and then played upon that fear to control its members. This method of control has to be understood and the false teaching of… Read more »
The method to teach this superstition was very subtle now that I look back on it. First someone would share a story about another church in which one of the members, a wife of one of the members, would get threatening calls during the day; someone would call and ask if her husband was home and she said no, then the caller would say "good! I be right over, and this is what I am going to do to you when I get there." It was shared that this church turned out to be very wicked. Then the subject would… Read more »
With the teaching of: bad things happen to disobedient Christians, especially to ones wife when your at work, this would motivate you to be super obedient to your teacher to receive the protection of God. The threat of external enemies will build internal cohesion; even to an unpopular leader. If you wonder why your relative is so devoted to a particular group, even to the point of extremes, it might be they are being manipulated through fear. Adolph Hitler used this technique with the fear of the Jews. The Jew was vilified as a rat who attacked women and children… Read more »
Psalms 34:7 is the scripture used to enslave members to their teachers. The angels of the Lord encampeth around them that fear him and delivereth him. If you are being disobedient it is because you don't fear God and you don't have Gods protection. However Christ said in John 8:32 that ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free; free from religious oppression. I have learned that whether protected or not protected, whether blessed or cursed, whether full or empty, whether having a home or being homeless, to be faithful and believing in God. The SCOC's… Read more »
Very interesting especially knowing the preacher you are referring too.
Yes I've heard the rule of 3s though I've also heard it from nonSCOC Christians
The rule of three's is not an indication of god trying to tell us or teach us anything, but it is implied that this is how God speaks to Christians. With this false teaching in place then the teachers can "manufacture" three events to influence members under their control to do the teachers will thinking this is God's will. Subtle very subtle control.
Is this crazy or what?
Denial is a humans first response. Consider how Judas had all the other Apostles and followers fooled except for Christ; when Christ said one of you will betray me they did not have a clue who Christ was talking about, asking it is me? This shows how good Judas was at deceiving others. When Judas came with the Roman soldiers he betrayed Christ with a kiss, more deceit. Many false teachers have fooled the church, some for quite a long time, but in the end they are revealed for the grievous wolves that they are. The woman in Des Moines… Read more »
Did he run you out of the church Anonymous 3:40?
No my first teacher did not get rid of me, rather got rid of him by encouraging him to go and start a church in Prescott and when he tried and back down I wouldn't let him; I encouraged him all the more, saying "there are people up here who want to hear the gospel". Then he gave his "chosen men" lesson in which he put out the unwelcome mat and told us in Phoenix that we were no longer welcome in Prescott. Six months later after no baptisms in Prescott his wife started asking us why no one in… Read more »
I wanted to add that another problem was members cars getting stolen during the Sunday worship service made it difficult to stay. The preacher from Albuquerque had men patrol the parking lot at fifteen minute intervals during worship and bible classes so everyone's car was there after class to drive home. Phoenix was a rough place to be if you were a sincere Christian, but if you were one of the insiders of the preachers ruling circle then it was great for you. The inner circle did commit felony child abuse with no reproof, rebuke, or withdrawal. Members of the… Read more »
Are you speaking of WP?
Kevin has asked us not to use initials so I use the city where he came from: Albuquerque. I also dream of a congregation where the men are required to work and support the women and children in their lives (such as wives, daughters, mothers) and not, as is done, have the men leech off of the women. I have one man leech off of his mother, another divorced his non member wife, a H.R. director, and took half of her retirement, and the evangelist in Spring Valley allowed one woman to pay his legal fees. I have paid alimony… Read more »
I left out that I dream of a church that requires all the men before they share in class, lead in prayer, stand before the people of God that they be current on both their child support and alimony and further more these men should not be allowed to give away their skills for free to anyone in the churches until their child support and alimony is current and no member is to accept a free services from any man who is not current on his child support and alimony and yes I am and have been current on my… Read more »
Anon you bring up a very good point about the evangelist-actually, I would like to expand that to both evangelists. One thing that caused me to wonder, and then to doubt, about the evangelists and Merie's group was the secrecy about how much we were paying them.One woman in Tampa dared to insist on knowing how much the evangelist in Spring Valley was getting, and from which congregations-she got withdrawn from. The reason? They figured that the only reason she would be asking those things was because she had been in touch and reading some of the things written by… Read more »
The other thing that goes along with the secrecy in how much the evangelists are getting paid, is the hypocrisy when they call out requesting other bills to be paid for them.Usually when a member is in need, he or she has to agree to answer some questions. Have you tried to raise money some other way? Have you sold your car or furniture, etc. to try and pay this bill? Have you tried to work out a payment plan with the company? etc.Yet the evangelist can call any congregation, month after month, and request assistance without having to follow… Read more »
Excellent points Debby concerning the "evangelists" support as I have difficulties calling them such. I have a suspicion this may be part of the reason it was decided after 4 months of being a nonmember they chose to make me a member again with no explanation. Than 5 days later they withdrew from me. I began on this blog as a nonmember as I still am a nonmember to question the amount of GP and TC support because of the exact points you made. Me the nonmember still support them as my wife attends. This is very nauseating to say… Read more »
Yes the "no paid preachers" mantra is a farce, isn't it? It's all in how you define "preacher" vs. "evangelist."
Absolutely Kevin. I can't believe you'd get withdrawn from for asking the question about the amount of the support of the two. Incredible what would the offense be?
I actually think if GP and TC can be paid preachers that all the "preachers" in Merie's cult should demand to be paid.
Yup, for many years Gary Preman has been collecting money for his "taxes" from the San Antonio congregation on a quarterly basis. I once brought up this issue publicly about why he was being supported on a consistent basis ( money sent quarterly). You could have cut the air with a knife. I had clearly brought up a taboo topic. A mumbled explanation was given with a let's think about it and bring it up later if anyone wants to. But no one did and neither did I. It clearly did not feel like I could. Gary hadn't even gone… Read more »
Likewise Portland helps with GP quarterly taxes. Does anyone ever object. Haha no. Likewise Portland hasn't been visited by one of those two for 8 years come this July.
I'm curious as to how much he was asking for? Can you remember the dollar amount?
I was thinking the same thing. 🙂 I wonder if we could crowdsource to figure out his annual income from all the congregations. Lol
You wrote this so many times I believe I can quote it word for word.
I know rough amounts Portland contributes to GP monthly and for his taxes. Whatever the amount is it's too much. Doesn't deserve a penny. Matter of fact if they withdraw from members who ask, they should be withdrawn from for not revealing what it is. Are they not suppose to be serving the members? They know so much about others they can't answer a simple question. GP, TC and KS should be withdrawn from for all the unscriptural withdrawals including mine being a nonmember that have taken place under their watch. They should be withdrawn from for their unscriptural teaching… Read more »
I saw one of the letters DC wrote that was about GP and TC's money from the treasury. The Christian Debbie spoke of apparently read the letter and wanted to know what he made. Like Debbie said she was withdrawn from, they said for speaking with DC.
Infopages.com list his pay as average of 37,230.00. I don't know what the breakdown is between his church salary and the pay he receives for working at his son's roofing company. I do respect him as a man though because he works and provides for his own. Proverbs 30:24-28 Solomon give a metaphor, that is a comparison of four things that show the wisdom of workers. The ants prepare for a future event and an example of this is John the Baptist who prepared the way for Christ(preparation is a field of work where a person often does the preparation… Read more »