58 Comments

I love that you pushed for the correct information and did the dance around specific wording with him. You're an incredible journalist. Thank you for your work

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Do you know, somehow without knowing, that is EXACTLY how I imagined Graeme R. Kirkwood, church board leader, to look.

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founding

And for the record I was not naked, I was wearing slippers actually, lord.

In Jesus name, Amen

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I've been watching the excellent adaptation of Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven and I learned that Mormons have a term for questions that may come up while a person is studying scripture, which is they are to "Put those questions on a shelf" until they have learned more. The idea is that instead of sitting with any questions one has about their faith, they should wait until they either learn enough to find the answer or, more likely, forget about it altogether and simply accept the religion as is. I see a lot of shelves whenever any type of Church misconduct is afoot, people being told that the matter is being handled internally and not to concern themselves because the overall good that the Church is doing is worth putting up with a little bit malfeasance. However, that shelf can only hold so much and when it breaks, it breaks big and bad. Good on you for breaking that shelf.

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Reminds me of this unfettered U.S Political "it's just a prank brah!" type Character - Madison Cawthorn that has run amok.

https://news.yahoo.com/why-madison-cawthorn-lost-race-174806310.html

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Thanks David and Hayden for shining light unto the path of Brent Cameron running down the hallway naked, and holding a blowlamp unto the feet of the Arise board - divine!

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I just don’t understand why admitting at least one thing that’s been said is actually true. People might be more inclined to believe they’re going to grow from this if they actually acknowledged any wrong doing instead of dancing around technicalities to avoid guilt.

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Hi David. I'm a Canadian living in New Zealand for 20 years now, and I don't know what "weedy" means in this context, but I would like to encourage you to send this out as a newsletter. I only saw it because it popped up in my Facebook feed, and I am glad I did.

Those people just reek of bad faith. That guy looks exactly like a televangelist. I didn't know that stuff about Billy Graham that you said in Flightless Bird. That was a fascinating episode. I found it in Pocket Casts - have subscribed to Armchair Umbrella now.

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Thanks for your hard work pursuing this story. As a Christian I am grateful that this story is being told. Institutions and brands should never have priority over humans. Thanks for exposing these issues to the light.

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Every time I read "the Board is unable" I found myself saying "the Board is unwilling" .

Thank you for your persistence - and may it be catchy, because I think NZ media needs many more like you to pin down the spinners, the liars, etc. Kia kaha!!

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Nothing enrages me more than shifty statements that play with words to sow doubt and confusion. Weasels.

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Talking about America and Hillsong's franchise churches - some more news: https://nypost.com/2022/04/20/hillsong-pastor-punched-by-carl-lentzs-wife-quits-megachurch/

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Unless my memory has completely failed me,I seem to remember every American nut job used to have the first letter of his middle name included.It appears to have gone out of fashion ,unless your someone desperately in need of some added gravitas which graeme R kirkwood is an obvious example.

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Thank you for your tenacity and nuance in chasing Arise down. Also, I loved the part in Flightless Bird - while also being infuriated by it :) - where he was talking about how we are so conditioned by our childhood beliefs/brainwashing that we may not be able to unlearn it. "Oh fuck" indeed.

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In Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China Robert Jay Lifton outlined the concept of thought control in totalistic groups. It will interesting to see how many of these criteria are present in the Mega Churches. The criteria are:

1) Milieu Control: is the restriction of information and communication within an environment;

2) Mystical Manipulation: refers to the MNL’s claim to embody an absolute value, to know it fully, and to incarnate it. High-pressure leaders might claim to be Allah’s Secretary of State, an economic savior, or any unverifiable ultimate, providentially mandated with an imperative mission. Leaders further manipulate followers through charged experiences, induced by drugs, repetitive chanting, or mass enthrallments of the Nuremberg type. Such mystical manipulations credential the leader’s mad claim of ultimate status to followers.

3) Demand for Purity: pertains to the induction of split object relations, whereby the MNL’s primitive good/evil ideation precludes the adult recognition of the moral complexities of existence, preferring to divide the world into extremes of black and white, good and evil. Such all or nothing thinking postulates that those in good standing with the MNL are utterly good, and those who are not, utterly evil.

4) Confession: orchestrated cultic rituals that include denunciations of life that exist outside the MNLs scope of approval. By denouncing pre-group existence, the subject surrenders the self to the leader and his totalist agenda.

5) Sacred Science: refers to the mystique of sacredness maintained around the leader and his vision. Questioning or criticizing either is represented to constituents as anathema.

6) Loading the Language: corresponds to Orwell’s (1950) newspeak, which includes terms denoting the partisan seizure of language to constrict individuated analysis of the MNL or his norms. To dismiss MNL abuses, for example, loaded language might terminate mature analysis with phrases like “brilliance from on high” or “test of faith” or “executive privilege.”

7) Doctrine Over Person: involves elevation of the leader’s doctrine/ideology over any other, especially a constituent’s lived experience, regardless of the latter’s obvious truthfulness or veracity. Pressured from the malignant normality of the cultic milieu, critical thinkers may believe that their doubts reflect insanity, criminality, or evil.

8) Dispensing of Existence: pertains to the leader’s claim that the legitimacy of any person or project resides only under the MNL and his vision of reality. All else is nothing, impure, or evil. Whereas the group purportedly flourishes amid the leader’s perfect vision of reality, out-groups are defective, half-human, and un-entitled to exist.

Source: Lifton, 1989; paraphrase Zeiders.

Zeiders, Charles; Devlin, Peter. Malignant Narcissism and Power (p. 71). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

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You might also be interested in this Medium post from Leona while she was Nannying for the Lenz's. There are a number of common themes in terms of abuse, manipulation and control.

https://leonakimes.medium.com/writing-my-voice-back-69febd4f3e5e

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