An ex-cult member, of The Trumpet Call Of God, who will remain anonymous, recently got exited from this group. They graciously shared how this group used the 8 point model of thought reform developed by Robert Lifton.
A cult: can be defined as a relationship between any group and an individual in which the individual experiences such high-intensity demands on their time and resources that they experience dysfunction in one or more core life areas: family, friendships, love relationships, career or school, finances, community, law, spirituality, recreation, physical well-being, emotional well-being, and mental well-being.
Mind control: is a general term for a number of controversial theories proposing that an individual’s thinking, behavior, emotions or decisions can, to a greater or lesser extent, be manipulated at will by outside sources.
1. ENVIRONMENT CONTROL. Limitation of many/all forms of communication with those outside the group. Books, magazines, letters and visits with friends and family are taboo. “Come out and be separate!”
When I was involved with The Trumpet Call Of God I went through an entire Sabbath study on “Being Separate” and many times were told we need to “Come out” of the church and “Be separate” from the wicked and unbelievers (which is anyone who did not believe in the Bible and the Letters). I had reservations about separating completely from my family and so during the beginning of one of the Sabbath studies (the Skype call had been opened early) I asked Timothy about it. He told me “didn’t you hear the study before on it?” (a guilt and shame thing) and then told me he believes God does want us to be completely separate from our families (meaning if they weren’t “believers” as defined above). After that I sent an email to my whole family (including Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc.) to tell them if they couldn’t accept the letters I couldn’t be around them but told them if they ever wanted to know more about Jesus I would come running to speak with them. I missed family reunions, birthdays and weddings in the interest of “being separate from the things of this world”.
We were also told through letter that we should “Let go” of worldly things (both physical and emotional) and not read anything which wasn’t the Lord’s word in the Bible or the letters, or watch anything “worldly” including news and even the weather channel.
We were also told through the letters that we needed to “Silence the scoffers”, scoffers being anyone who criticized Timothy or the letters, by separating from them physically or blocking them (if it was on facebook or something they would be blocked so they could no longer contribute to the conversation threads on the person’s facebook page). The reason we were told is so the scoffer does not cause more harm to himself by persecuting God’s servant and mocking God.
2. MYSTICAL MANIPULATION. The potential convert to the group becomes convinced of the higher purpose and special calling of the group through a profound encounter / experience, for example, through an alleged miracle or prophetic word of those in the group. (this is also sometimes called “Planned Spontaneity”)
Of course all of the “letters” fall into this category, the main basis of this group is that Timothy is a “prophet of God in this modern day” and so if you believe the letters are from God than every single time we got one we were on a special kind of “high” feeling as though we were “special chosen and privileged” children of God to have him speak directly to us (even if it was addressed to another member in the group or to society at large it was always “and for those who have ears to hear”). I also received 2 letters directly to me from the Lord which heightened the sense of the Lord speaking into my life through his prophet. They both came after intense “praying and seeking” the Lord, but without realizing it I also kind of was a part of orchestrating the outcome. Both times I involved leaders from the group in my struggles and questions prior to receiving the letters. The first time was a question I had which I sent to Trent and Timothy to see if they could seek understanding from the Lord as well, I never received a direct answer from either of them but during one of the studies during the week I “divinely” got my response in a letter addressed to me “live” in the study even though I hadn’t asked the question directly during the study. The letter started off with a “correcting” tone as though the Lord was telling me I should have known the answer already out of the Truth which is how we are to follow the Lord (sorry if that doesn’t make sense trying to at least attempt at being anonymous here). Then it went into encouraging me to be forthright with the Truth at all times and in all seasons and otherwise if I didn’t I was being a horrible person who didn’t have love in me but hate. Of course the overall tone of the letter was in a Fatherly correcting but loving tone so it made me want to please Him all the more and try harder. There was also a part in the letter which was later adopted as part of our “loaded language” and became a huge part of my own “thought stopping process” as will be discussed below. Later the letter was added to the volumes but some of it was changed radically from the original and no longer was even addressed to me nor was the “answer to my question” included, and we were told that when Timothy “reads it over with the Lord” sometimes He has him change some of it in order to more accurately portray what He was telling him. The second was after a very difficult time I had at home, as I was trying to “follow” the letters and try harder, I was doing something that was only “commanded” of the watchmen (leaders) of the group so I could try and be “extra faithful”. Doing this caused tension in my life, a BIG amount of tension and though I felt justified in my response to the tension I felt extremely depressed. Taking this back a few steps, I had a very clear dream of the kind I’ve never had before prior to joining the group when I first began to obey what the letters were revealing to me. This of course confirmed my belief in the letters early on, but it also gave me a mystery which I believed came from God. After making a mistake early on in my time with the group (essentially hiding what I was doing) I was completely repentant and emailed Trent to say I was sorry (even though he likely had no idea in the first place). In that email I mentioned the dream, knowing that others had had dreams interpreted by the Lord through the letters Timothy wrote, because I wanted to know if there was something I could learn from the dream which would help me grow (I was panicked knowing the time was close and I had so far to go before I was likely to be deemed “worthy” of rapture). Trent sent the email off to Timothy and Jayse (another prophet in the group) with the disclaimer to me that it would be interpreted “Lord willing”. Less than 24 hours later I received a response from Trent that the Lord had given Jayse a message for me and he had copied part of a conversation between him and Jayse in the body of the email. Jayse said in the email body that the Lord told me that the dream wasn’t the focus but then went into how much He loved me. That tidbit made me so excited I could barely keep my feet on the ground. Trent told me that it still needed to be “scribed” which he said meant that Timothy would pray over it and Amy would spell check and format it. It was at least a month and I hadn’t heard of my letter, but seeing it as a test in patience I tried to wait and not say anything. I once emailed about it but Timothy told me they had 60 letters they had to go through and so mine was “on the list” and that the Lord had prioritized the list to make it easier on Timothy but I would be receiving it soon enough so I left it alone. Finally when the big tension I spoke about above happened and I was so depressed I couldn’t wait any longer, I needed to hear about the Lord’s love for me as Jayse mentioned was in the letter. I emailed Timothy and Amy to see if I could just read the “unedited” version I didn’t care about spelling mistakes and stuff I just needed to hear the Lord’s words to me, I explained the tension I had gone through and was going through to show why it was so important to me. Amy responded and said that Tim prayed and that the Lord said that Tim could work on my letter next. I was so overwhelmed that the Lord would put my letter over what I thought would have to have been more important letters and kind of felt bad that I had said anything. Amy told me that I couldn’t read the un-scribed version because Jayse was a “prophet in training” kind of thing and so Timothy needed to read it over with the Lord to make sure it was accurate (paraphrased of course not her exact words). Late on the night before the Sabbath study I got the letter sent to me and then we also read it during the Sabbath study. That letter was a completely different tone than the first letter, it encouraged me and made me feel loved by God as a special daughter, and even eluded that he I would be one of those raptured as his bride and told me to “take this dress and wear it well” which meant that I needed to be holy as a “worthy bride of Christ”. The letter didn’t interpret the dream but said that later he would interpret my dream through his servant so I would know he had never abandoned me.
3. DEMAND FOR PURITY. An explicit goal of the group is to bring about some kind of change, whether it be on a global, social, or personal level. “Perfection is possible if one stays with the group and is committed.”
There was an emphasis on purity in this group, as mentioned earlier we were to “rid ourselves of the world” in us by refraining from “worldly” television and books, from “worldly” people which were pretty much everyone except the group (even those who believed the Bible but not the letters or beliefs of the group were in a sense “worldly” because they were seen as similar to the Pharisees because they couldn’t see “what the Lord is doing” in our generation and were proud and clinging to the “deceit” of the church), and were not to cling to “worldly” goods (which was why some were departed because they didn’t give to others).
I remember being pretty much terrified to watch almost anything on TV with my husband and would bury myself in my computer to block out the TV from my vision or hearing (I would listen to MP3s of the letters with my earphones). I couldn’t even watch Christian TV because I saw that as deception, though for some reason they did endorse Spongebob as safe but I haven’t really been able to figure out why that is. I also remember a time when after reading one of the letters I went out to our deck (early in the morning) and fell to my knees praying and crying for the Lord to “remove the world from me” that I didn’t want anything to do with the world, only Him, I felt so ashamed of myself that I was sobbing uncontrollably out there on my knees on my deck. I prayed that the Lord would “purge the dross” in me (meaning to get rid of any impurities) and make me worthy of Him.
4. CULT OF CONFESSION. The unhealthy practice of self disclosure to members in the group. Often in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, even doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders.
The group was very open with each other, we were like family, closer than family and so we shared a lot during the studies and in prayer. Also in Skype conversations in the “off hours” the Skype windows were open 24hrs a day for anyone to come on and talk with whomever else was online (I suspect there were always leaders watching because they always seemed to show up) and the conversations were always there for anyone to view later. We worshiped “YahuShua” (which we were told was the Lord’s real name) with a passion I had not seen anywhere else. Many times I came to the group (we called each other family as well, brothers, sisters and friends) with problems I was having at home and told them how I struggled and what I was feeling inside. Once I told them that I felt like I was being unloving when I told my husband I needed to tell my kids that there was no Santa, Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy etc. and he was crying asking me not to destroy their fantasies and ruin the happiness and his favorite season (Christmas), that they were his kids too. Others in the group shared their own struggles with going through the “culture change” around Christmas and the like as well.
Later on in my time there, Trent announced that he had come across these “counseling techniques” to discover your “true self” and wanted to practice so he was asking for volunteers to pair up for him to practice counseling them. I signed up enthusiastically, but since I was still fairly new compared to many of them I hadn’t really found any particularly close friends in the group (though I emailed Trent a lot because he brought me into the group and I felt close to him because of that) I asked Trent if he knew of anyone who didn’t have a partner but then found someone on my own and off we went. The counseling took place over Skype and there were 2 sessions. The ultimate result of the “counseling” was to categorize yourself into your Primary and Secondary “self” categories of “Thinker”, “Feeler”, or “Doer” and we were told that was our “true self” which we were given by God. Then we went through and discussed our “worldly self” which we learned through events in our lives which shaped us, and thirdly how we felt and thought about God and his role in our lives in difficult times. In the part of the counseling about “worldly self” we were asked to tell him about some of the most painful memories we have and how we dealt with pain and hurt in our lives. In the end we found out how we acted, interacted and thought about things and why. The thing is, now so did Trent and he recorded the sessions which (and I’ll admit I am assuming here) probably were shared with Timothy as well. Now, I have to be honest, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m a pretty open book so the counseling sessions probably showed ME more about me than anyone else because the things we found out were probably pretty obvious to anyone else I imagine. Part of what I found out was that I have trouble with feeling accepted by others and often feel as though I am a burden on people so after that Trent continually re-affirmed me by calling me Friend and saying that he loved me (in a brotherly way of course). I felt closer to him after that and felt he really truly cared about me as his sister and I shared even more with him as he taught me and helped me through my struggles and I felt privileged to be under his tutelage.
5. SACRED SCIENCE. The group’s perspective is absolutely true and completely adequate to explain EVERYTHING. The doctrine is not subject to amendments or question. ABSOLUTE conformity to the doctrine is required.
The following is a conversation in Skype which took place in one of our studies in August, I removed the names to protect the privacy of those involved (except Timothy because I think it’s important to see what he said). It shows a good “listing” of the doctrines this group holds too, and the requirement to be in complete agreement with them. In fact, the title of the subject in the email when the study was sent out to the group included the words “This may be the last study you ever partake of” meaning if you didn’t comply with these that you might as well pack your bags and never come back. Shortly after this study we started getting “ultimatums” from the Lord that if you didn’t comply with particular doctrines/beliefs you would be “departed from the Lord’s table”. Also, there were a couple of beliefs which we were specifically told if we did not believe them that we would be left behind for the tribulation in order to be “corrected”. The thing that is interesting, is that I read an article written by Trent some time ago, about how this group is not a cult and the premise of the article was that cults tell you what to think and do, and this cult doesn’t, well… I’m not so sure about that.
6. LOADED LANGUAGE. A new vocabulary emerges within the context of the group. Group members “think” within the very abstract and narrow parameters of the group’s doctrine. The terminology sufficiently stops members from thinking critically by reinforcing a “black and white” mentality. Loaded terms and clichés prejudice thinking.
It will be difficult to really put every part of the loaded language but I will give some of the big examples below:
*Banquet = the studies where the Lord would let us “feast” on His word. It was considered an absolute privilege to be involved in these banquets.
*The Lord’s Table = Reference to the banquet as the place where members meet to fellowship with other believers and the Lord himself.
*The Lord’s little flock = The elite, small circle group which consisted of the members in the studies.
*Trust with Abandonment = To give 100% of yourself for God, no matter what happens inside or outside of you trust completely. ** this one was used a lot in my thought stopping process, any time there were any doubts or if someone was doing something to me or against me which was hurtful or making me wonder if it was worth it, etc.
*Obey without expectation = To be self-sacrificial in your obedience, don’t expect anything in return (even to be worthy of rapture), but just obey.
*Love without condition = No matter how hard something is, the Lord gave up everything for us and so there should be no conditions in our love for Him, we need to do all things out of Love for the Lord (speak about Him and trumpet, obey the letters etc.)
*Trumpet His word / Trumpeting = Telling others about the letters to spread them as far and wide as possible. (Many used internet media such as facebook, youtube, blogs etc. and others also handed out cards in person, I did both)
*FROGLA = Fresh Revelation of God’s Love and Acceptance, when someone said they had a “FROGLA” it meant they had a revelation from the Lord.
*Nothing doubting = To have nothing doubting meant that you had no doubts about the letters or the Lord’s work in our day. That you would obey at the drop of a hat because you had no doubts at all.
*Man’s doctrine = Man’s doctrine or Man-made church was the mainstream churches and their doctrine which consisted mainly of grace and “forsakes” or “desecrates” the law. There were many letters about man’s doctrine and Trent was even given a letter to tell him to “stop teaching Grace vs the Law and instead teach Grace AND the Law”.
*Wheat vs. the Chaff and immature wheat = This was “us” vs. “them”, we were the wheat being bundled and prepared for “harvest” (which is the rapture) when we would be taken into “the Lord’s barn for seven days”. The chaff were those who were unbelievers, the ones who would suffer the tribulation and would still not turn to the Lord, eventually being destroyed in the eternal fire (not tortured but destroyed in it). The immature wheat were believers in the Lord Jesus who hadn’t accepted the truth about the letters and the “truths” in them, they would need to go through the trials of fire in the tribulation but would then turn to the Lord and be martyred and taken to the Lord’s bosom for healing and be with the Lord then for eternity.
Like I said there are many more, but the above are just some examples.
7. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON. Pre-group experience and group experience are narrowly and decisively interpreted through the absolute doctrine, even when experience contradicts the doctrine.
One example of this that I can recall is this, I used to love going to church … I loved going to church from the time I was in high-school, as soon as I could drive I began to go regularly. When I came into this group though, I changed that point of view because of the doctrine of church being a deceitful place that was based on evil foundations meant to keep people from the Lord and His ways. I emphasized the “bad” things which I experienced out of the frailties of human nature and ignored the “good” things which church allowed in my life. When I told stories about my (at that time former) church I painted stories of people who were trying to make me disobey the Lord and deceive me into following the ways of the world. I changed my view of my pastor who I always regarded before as someone I could trust and learn from, to someone who was prideful and deceptive and “high-minded” (meaning he thought he knew better because of his “scholarly education” and “theology”). I even changed my view of some of my best friends who were attending that church; I saw them as people who were blinded to the truth and stubborn in following the deceptions from the church instead of people who loved the Lord and were seeking to follow Him. I also changed my view of my family, instead of the loving and caring environment that I was raised in I instead saw them as stubborn and haughty, high on themselves and the world.
8. DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE. Salvation is possible only in the group. Those who leave the group are doomed.
We felt extremely distraught over those who left or were kicked out of the group because we believed that they had “made the wrong choices” and were now going to suffer in the tribulation. If they trusted the Lord as their savior we believed they would still spend eternity with the Lord, but they would first have to be put through the trials of fire in the tribulation so they could be broken and humbled coming before the Lord in repentance. I have pasted some letters which were given to those who were “departed from the Lord’s table: below:
This is part of a conversation where we got a “live” letter for someone who chose not to follow one of the doctrines (not sure it ever made it into the volumes or not:
11:54:31 Departed flock member: Hello everyone,
11:54:47 Departed flock member: I jus want to say goodbye…
11:55:08 Departed flock member: I have been tested, and I have failed.
11:55:46 Timothy: The Lord is saying…”By 300 was My glory revealed, even as those 300 beheld My glory according to My will. Yet of that which was required of the children of Israel, only two of the first multitude entered, even the lampstand which I had set over them did not enter, remaining that example to the people according to that which the Lord requires, even unto death, even according to that much more which is required of those who lead the flock. Yet his reward was met, for though he died, he was also taken… for his service is not yet concluded.
11:56:19 Departed flock member: I had to make a decision, between leaving the church included my children and wife.
11:57:04 Departed flock member: or live alone, with nothing left…