The Trinity Foundation of Dallas, Texas
Date: November 20, 2006 10:28AM
In response to your long justification of Trinity, it feels a bit tedious to go through point by point. I think it would tend to have a he said/she said quality, so instead I will try to respond in a more general way.
Of course you do not think Trinity fits the criteria of a cult. I assume if you thought that, you wouldn’t be there. I did not think it fit the criteria either while I was still there and I would talk to former members like my sister, Pam & Larry, Rick, Powell, etc. I was able to mount just as articulate a defense of Trinity as you did. However, I was not being truly honest with myself. In my heart of hearts, I knew that there were serious problems there.
It was only after I left that I slowly began to gain some perspective on what it was that I had been involved in. Part of what helped me along in that process was how Wendy and I were treated in the process of leaving and shortly afterward. The fact is, I really did try to leave in a friendly, non-confrontational way, but there was no way to do that. Even though I did not want to be, I was cast in the role of an enemy. I honestly do not know if things would be different now if Trinity had handled our departure differently. I might have eventually arrived at the same view, but I think how we were treated speeded the process along.
The fact that people who are still at Trinity defend the place is not convincing. People who are currently involved in the Unification Church defend it, and they do not believe they are in cult, either. The best measure I can think of as to how to think of a group is to ask the former members, people who have left. Of course, among people who leave a group you are always going to have some detractors, even a few “disgruntled” former members. However, the thing that is so striking in Trinity’s case is that it is pretty darn near unanimous among former members who spent any significant amount of time there with more than a casual level of involvement that Trinity is, indeed, a cult. That absolutely would not be true of any group that was not a cult. In any other type of religious group you would have former members saying stuff like, “Well, I don’t really go along with what they are doing, but there are some people that it works for. It’s good for some people, just not for me.” However, to my knowledge, nobody is saying that about Trinity. Wendy interviewed dozens of people for her book, and we’ve talked to even more since the book came out. All, or almost all, of them say that Trinity is a brutally abusive place that did terrible damage to them. Even Nathan A understands what a damning fact this is if it is true, so he challenges our veracity on it. He says we are just making this fact up, because if we are telling the truth about this and it really is as extreme as we say it is, then it has serious implications. Nevertheless, I have more respect for his position than I do yours or anyone who is actually at Trinity. Neither you, Ole, Pete, the Rutledges, or the Buckners have shown the least bit of integrity in how you have responded (or, more accurately, how you have avoided responding) to the important issues we are raising.
Maybe we are making this up. Maybe Wendy and I got this idea that we would write a book about our former friends and make up a bunch of lies so we could sell lots of copies and make some money. If that was what we thought, we were pretty stupid. This has been a lot of work for what looks like a venture that we will be lucky to break even on. Financially, we would have done a lot better just to take a weekend job tearing ticket stubs at a movie theater. Nevertheless, we have accomplished the most important thing in what we set out to do, which was to tell the truth.
By the way, it was not only men who got their feet burned at the fire walking incident. At least one woman (Jackie M.) did, as well.