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AN OPEN LETTER TO CHURCHES

Page 3

Cult Leader
This is a serious accusation, and I will take care in trying to explain how it came about. Understandably, people are afraid of the notion of a mind-controlling, Svengali-esque minister who used to be a hypnotist and for good reason: There are still Jim Joneses out there leading people to destruction.

My background as a hypnotist was not the only thing that contributed to the notion among certain people that I am a cult leader. By unfortunate coincidence, we started a branch of the Foundation of Human Understanding in Southern Oregon just around the time the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was terrorizing people in Antelope, Oregon, and not long after Jim Jones had engineered his suicidal massacre in Guyana. The presence of an unorthodox church, led by an ex-hypnotist, talk-show-host minister with a national following, made many local citizens nervous. Not surprising.

It didn't help matters that the town newspaper was extremely liberal, having, for instance, extreme editorial contempt for pro-lifers. When that newspaper joined certain local politicians in harassing us, I fought back and announced-rather foolishly, I would say in hindsight—that I was encouraging my radio listeners to come to the area to live. Obviously, after the Bhagwan experience in Antelope, that just made matters worse. This was during the Carter era when the economy was in a terrible state, and many people were moving out of the cities anyway. Needless to say, some people who had been touched by my ministry did move and, while some suffered boycotts and the like, in general, they have not regretted it.

Despite harassment by the local paper, most townspeople have realized we are just Christians and good neighbors. Grants Pass is a beautiful area. However, back in 1979 I played right into the hands of the local paper and the various liberal politicians. They were openly antagonistic toward us, encouraging discrimination and boycotts, and trying to deny the Foundation of Human Understanding tax-exempt church status. (Both the Oregon Tax Court and Supreme Court eventually vindicated us and ruled in our favor.) Also, politically speaking, considering the liberal profile of the local politicians and media, it didn't help matters that we are pro-life Christians who are staunchly supportive of conservative values.


I know there are people who claim the FHU is a cult. Some of these are legitimate Christian leaders who have come to this belief honestly, either due to my past errors, or because they heard quotes out of context, or perhaps because they have relied on another's opinion a bit too much. However, there is another category. Some Christians have simply believed what they read in the press about me. Granted, I have made it easy for the press to attack me, but beyond that, the media are essentially secular and often outright anti-Christian. This is not news to any of you since we have all seen decent men of normal Christian ministerial background viciously and persistently attacked because of their positions on homosexuality, abortion, sex education, or pornographic "art."


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