Craig Cusick’s Story
My upbringing had little religion in it, though my parents did have good morals and raised me well. I attended some summer bible schools as a youth and some on Sundays at a few different religious places through my later teens and early adulthood. I studied with the JW’s for a little over a year or so in my mid 20’s. I was never a studier of the Bible on any consistent level.
My first introduction to the SCOC was with my then-girlfriend who would later become my wife. I was introduced to members here and there at different events or places between 1992 and 1997. One year into my marriage, my wife was baptized. However now I do not personally recognize anyone’s baptism in this cult as a real baptism; they are only becoming members of Merie’s cult.
I began to attend some worship services with my wife and daughter. I attended about four nonmember classes in five months. All I knew was I had never been baptized. At these nonmember classes,“ baptism is fed to you. I was 31 at the time in 1997, expecting a baby, and moving into a newly built home. I felt some pressure why it was “taking me so long,” from an esteemed member in Portland at the time so I was baptized—but I now believe I just got wet, along with everyone else in this cult. If you know their teaching which condemn themselves, you cannot argue that point. I don’t believe there are Christians amongst Merie’s cult.
As I became a member, I was a very slow learner, as I was one who did not buy into the rules of the cult at first. The scriptures were different, so I had some difficulties getting past what I had learned from the JWs. If the JWs or anyone else would have offered baptism at that time, I would have been baptized elsewhere. Early on and throughout my time with the cult, I questioned my baptism.
I did not receive teaching well in the beginning. It makes sense now why I did not. I was never convicted or converted to Merie’s ways, though I eventually followed along with the marching orders. Hearing the same thing over and over again you become somewhat brainwashed. Such as they are the one and only true church. It’s a tactic to instill fear and intimidation with members. I regretfully taught and preached it myself, to my shame, even going against my own conscience in doing so.
About nine years into it, I began giving talks to my hometown cult members, preached, taught nonmember classes, and would give talks at various cult meetings in different cities. All went well for a few years, though as I think back on my beginnings, I never bought into the “one true church” claim. That was always disturbing. How could this dead cult be the “one true church?” There were so many troubling things and situations I’d hear about throughout the so called “brotherhood.”
Over the years, there were areas of disagreement. The “marriage bed” teaching was one. All the unscriptural withdrawals, which were eventually lifted, were disturbing. All the talk about “Merie said this” or “Merie said that” was also nuts. Who is this lady? She means nothing to me.
As a support preacher in 2013, I began questioning why Portland was not baptizing. We hadn’t at that point had one baptism from the work in 3 1/2 years. To me that was a concern. The preacher would tell me that we were just needing some work internally before God would add to our numbers.
It never got better, and I began to question the preacher’s priorities concerning his business, family matters and the handling of the congregation. I brought these things to his attention, and it was discussed with other preachers and teachers as well, why was Portland not growing? That was my concern, but the preacher started coming after me over trivial things. We butted heads on this, and after some disagreements, I sat myself down in 2015, knowing at that time I would never preach or even share again. I felt I was under a liar, hypocrite, gossiper and murmuring preacher. I had this guy’s number. I was really done with the cult at that time as he and the teacher both lied to the congregation about me, with me in attendance. Before both rebukes, neither came to me to see what they would state were facts. I challenged their lies, which only made the bullseye on myself bigger.
A grudge with the preacher was dealt with, and in late 2016 I began to go over my baptism once again, considering the unbelief, lack of faith in the church, and even questioning why are we baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when all examples were in Jesus name. “Unbelief” before baptism was sufficient enough. After getting counsel on two occasions, I walked away knowing what I already knew: that I was a nonmember. I felt freed and happy! I attended on Sundays, unless one of my children or I was sick, just to be with my family.
After the meetings with the two unqualified counselors, and our mutual decision that my baptism wasn’t good, I decided to take the paid preacher “evangelists” GP’s challenge, and began reading the blog about Merie’s history. What I read was utterly disgusting and very troubling of how this cult began and the horrific stories about them. How the cult’s teachings and understandings were also so off in many instances. These people claim to have, and are guided by, the Holy Spirit. No way! I had no fear now as a nonmember, so I even put my name on my comments. Never would I have done that if there had been a shadow of doubt that I was a member. I was not being served communion from January 2017 through May 2017 when I attended purely as a visitor.
Crystal clear nonmember I was, and even more so now. I’d attend worship and the members who would greet me would ask how I was doing. Good, great, and excellent, to their astonishment would be my answer. The preacher and teacher rarely acknowledged my presence. I thought that’s no way to treat a visitor. As I learned about the history of the cult I was utterly disgusted. I would tell my wife some things, and of course she would refer me to the preacher and the teacher.
My conscience would never allow me to become a member as I’d be asked if I was going to get baptized. I knew my time was short attending as I would not give my attention to the preacher and his lessons. Often I’d shake my head in disagreement. The teacher sat in the row behind me.
Well, come the 2017 May meeting, the preacher and teacher returned and I was notified by the preacher that the counsel I received in January was wrong, and that if I came they would begin to serve me the Lord’s Supper. I disagreed, and was not sure I’d be back anyway.
The preacher told me my baptism would be brought up before the congregation. This I had never heard of before. The preacher would text me telling me I misunderstood. I was clear with what he had said. I would ask for who and the phone number of the one who gave him the counsel about this. Neither was provided.
Anyhow, later in the week he asked me to call him. I chose texting instead as I didn’t want to hear his voice. At this point he told me the congregation would bring me up for murmuring and sowing seeds of discord. Really, coming from the king of both? I disagreed.
Well, my texts afterwards would go unanswered for an explanation of what I murmured about, and to whom. Likewise with the sowing seeds of discord. So I was withdrawn from. I chose not to attend the meeting because of my wife’s pleas to spare the children. I was going to challenge MM. Though what matters is what I and my God know: I was a nonmember of the cult. My mission now was to worship my God in a healthy Christian Church.
I also want to expose the cult for what and who they are. If I’d known the dark and dirty history of this cult I’d never have given them a sniff of my attention. In my 20 years I did meet some wonderful people, not unlike I’ve done in a real church and life in general.