1993, 03/12. Little Toy Soldiers.

Friday March 12

Paul B. was talking about marriage as we were driving in the van.

[He walking about why he wanted to get married and the impossibility of marriage in COBU, although Paul only talked about that impossibility without speculating why this was the case. He only spoke about his own shortcomings as reasons why he could not marry. He also talked about the various frustrated feelings he had as an involuntarily celibate person and about how frustrated he was about a certain sister whenever he saw her. The brothers and sisters implicitly understood that we were not to even consider going on dates or to spend time together with someone. Stewart did not do the monitoring himself – all the others got anyone’s case who tried that.]

I had to restrain myself from expressing my thoughts. There is no one I can trust who will not blab my inmost thoughts to everybody else. [If I said what I really thought about the matter, I was running the risk of having Paul report on me at the next meeting]. Why does nobody get married? Paul quoted something he heard Stewart say about a year ago, that in other churches men get married (and also get thoroughly controlled by their wives), but here the brothers don’t have this problem, because they avoid it by avoiding marriage altogether.

Believe that lie and I will tell you another. The real answer is as plain as the nose on your face. Whether or not I am willing to deal with it is the question, because if what I think is true here really is true, then it is very horrible. What is true is that Stewart forbids marriage. One of the ways he does this is by portraying the situation in gory detail, about the problems in marriage and also the problems with us. He makes it clear to us that we are so bad that we can’t even consider marriage. He creates a scenario that we all believe, buy, live in and sell to each other. Who would dare disagree with Stewart’s portrayal of life? [* more notes further down on this page]

[Stewart Traill may also have wanted to keep the sisters away from the brothers, because if they ever got close, such as in marriage, then the women might open up and tell the brothers about Stewart’s sexual relationships with other sisters, or even possibly his sexual relationships with them, if they had been involved with him. If the sisters were that close to someone, that is, married to them, they might open up and talk to them about this. At the time I was living in COBU, I was not aware of Stewart’s relationships with other women besides his wife.]

I am considering what legal recourses I have access to if I should ever need it, if I get thrown out.

Today, I thought about something that is a cause for someone to have great power over me: I absolutely need to be here in this church (or so I think) and there is somebody who has power to thrown me out of here. There was a joke I saw today: “Never argue with the man who packs your parachute.” Something else I read is, it is a great danger to blame someone who is in a position to do concrete and real-world harm to you.

I see also that it is good to write out my own conclusions in detail as I go. I get amazed to see so many correlations in these books I am reading, such as what I have read about coercion.

[Many books of the books I read about cults and organizational behavior explained what coercion is and how it is used on people to further the aims of a leader, a totalitarian government or an organization.]

These books also explain that in these groups, thinking for yourself is the unforgivable sin. I thought of something similar before reading this, though my version was that saying “I want” or “I don’t want” is the unforgivable sin here.

I must write, hopefully as a way of not losing my mind, and as a way where I write out and face what I really think, behind all the fronts I present all day to everybody.

*[Continuation of note about marriage]: That way Stewart doesn’t have to deal directly with us about marriage, because we accept the view he has created for us, and our actions flow from there. But I also can’t help thinking that Stewart directly opposes marriage as well, that he is directly inveighing against marriage as a matter of policy. This seems clear to me; it seems exude from his personality – that his answer is clearly no — no matter what innocent words he may pronounce over it as a version of the story to cover up his actions.

I can’t believe this is really true. It is so horrible. But this is how I see it. I don’t believe all the little lies – or should I say, the great big lie, the mass deception. What is this place? How could it be? Why is it so? All I can come up with – if it is true – is that we exist for Stewart’s personal gain and glory. The church is his alter ego. We play out the scenarios in his mind that he provides for us.

And, if these things are not true, then why isn’t somebody here able to get married? It is always by groups, en masse, everything is always by category.

[No individuals are able to be different than what Stewart declares the groups they are in to be guilty of.]

That is what makes me wonder if it is not something outside of me that is preventing me from being married, and not any personal reasons or shortcomings. If some could get married here and some couldn’t, then I could see, because I could see individual differences. Then I could more clearly see that something is wrong with me specifically that keeps me from marrying. But when it’s a wholesale prohibitiion, then I feel locked under a category or rules and that somebody is determining this thing for me.

[I could understand if some people could not get married if there were specific reasons for that person, but here entire groups were not able to get married and there was no individual in that group who was different or exempt from the reasons Stewart gave about the members of that group (such as, all the older brothers, all the older sisters). Stewart pronounced judgment on one group in the church, then would turn his attention to another group a few months later, removing the pressure off the previous group which he had formerly declared as evil. This, among other things, contributed to forbidding marriage. “All the brothers have a conspiracy to thumb their nose at Jesus,” would then turn, several months later to, “The sisters are in rebellion.” While Stewart declared that the brothers doing better now, I would wonder how could we have relationships with sisters who were rebelling against Christ.

Directly after Stewart’s confession after the so-called Grace Meeting, he declared that he had been making it too hard for the brothers to get married and issued a mea culpa on the matter. He immediately went on the war path against the sisters, declaring that until now, they had enjoyed their control over the men in the church and that they were now at war with the brothers’ new-found freedom and would do anything in their power to bring the brothers down and into bondage again.

Stewart said that all of the sisters were doing this. There was not an individual sister who was not. I believed this at the time, and was now dismayed that I would not be able to start a relationship until the sisters changed. And the sisters sure looked angry and in rebellion. Though actually they were not in rebellion and what I was seeing was their unhappiness at Stewart declaring them to be this way. Stewart turned the sisters attempts to disagree with him back on them as evidence of rebellion, because look, see how much they’re fighting? A year later he was done with the sisters, but soon it was the brothers’  turn. This is why I often thought we were like toy soldiers that Stewart played with, pitting one group in the church against another.

This was my first experience in Stewart’s tactics, at least up close. Until recently, Stewart had ruled the roost from afar, but now he was in our lives daily, even hourly, whether by being present or by continual messages that we had to follow, orient ourselves to and be judged according to by all the others.]

Also, many new brothers who now have become middle brothers are exhibiting the Dave S. syndrome. Why does this always happen and how come nobody can survive this place intact?

[Dave was a new brother, who soon moved to the category of middle brother, who was “seen as” doing well. He had a sudden and irrevocable fall from grace when Stewart declared him to be rebellious and cheating on Christ. At the time, I did not completely understand the process Stewart used on the new people who came to the church. Older brothers spoke among ourselves about how we were discouraged at new people who seemed to do well for a while and then something went wrong with them and they could never do right after that.  I actually thought it was some behavior or attitude they had chosen, rather than that Stewart pronounced them to be that way and then harassed and mocked them from that moment on. Dave had been leading meetings and voted on in favorable categories when we made our divisions between the faithful and unfaithful people. It was time for Stewart to sack Dave, the lesson that we are worthless sinful rebels was more important than any pseudo leadership the church might need.]

You can read the next section of this journal here: The Truth Hurts.

These journal pages are part of the source material for my book, Captive Congregation: My Fourteen Years in the Church of Bible Understanding, which is available as a Kindle book or in paperback


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