Initiatives of Change
In her book, Call No Man Master
, Joyce Colin Smith devoted a chapter to the Buchman movement. She was part of the Oxford group and served as a secretary. She was warned by a friend that the group showed signs of being authoritarian. While tidying up the office, she was appalled to discover that files were kept on all the members - without their knowledge. On discovering this she left the group.
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glenn close moral re armament cult
Buchman Moral Re Armanent
Examples of some of the fascinating chapter headings itemized in Misandyangie's series on Moral ReArmament
Buchman’s cult speak
One classic cult tactic he adopted was cult speak. He redefined everyday terms for group members, words like sanity, guidance, and surrender. In this way, he could craft a message that sounded innocuous or agreeable to outsiders, while also communicating extremist messages to indoctrinated members. This enabled Buchman to simultaneously exert mental control over members while sounding ecumenical or benign to the outside world.
Read part 3 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
The Oxford Group engaged in public confession, frequently and to great social upset. They believed confession served two purposes, to unburden the confessor and to serve as testimony to potential converts. As such, meetings usually started with a period of public confession of sins, often sexual in nature.
Read part 4 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
As previously discussed, Frank Buchman was talented at gathering followers and converts, but what did he do once he had them? He treated them with an intoxicating, debilitating mixture of love bombing and verbal abuse, gentleness and unruly anger, promises of salvation and constant reminders that they were weak, sinful, and insane without the Group. Cult leaders are domestic abusers not content with a mere one household to rule and terrorize.
Read part 11 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
Rich and famous
While Buchman yelled and screamed at his regular followers, he simply fawned over people of high status. He defended this behavior by arguing it was better to “change” (convert) a “big sinner” (a person of power and influence) than a small one. He promoted a top-down style of spiritual salvation, one that worked within existing systems of power, rather than seeking to dismantle them.
Read part 12 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
Frank Buchman did not simply want the financial support of his wealthy patrons. He wanted their fame and glory too. If a famous person made a remark even slightly favorable to Buchman, he would have the quote reproduced in Group pamphlets as advertising. He would suggest that any celebrity he had met was not simply polite or agreeable, but a follower. Even when this was not true.
Read part 13 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
Frank Buchman’s support for fascism and the Nazi Party became increasingly unpopular as it looked like Britain was going to war with Hitler. By the early months of 1938, Cardinal Hinsley of Oxford had reached the limit of his tolerance and he banned the Group from campus. Buchman urged his student followers to move house parties and meetings off campus to their parents’ homes, and he rebranded the cult.
Read part 14 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
Frank Buchman decided to bring his cult, then called Moral Re-Armament (MRA), to the United States in 1939. To appeal to Americans, he made patriotism a feature. While he had never particularly valued it before, and it conflicted with his own teachings about rising above national boundaries to work together, it was an effective marketing strategy.
Read part 15 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
When WWII began in September 1939, Frank Buchman and several of his British followers relocated to the United States, a then neutral country, to avoid war service. They relaxed in the Florida sunshine at the DuPont family summer mansion and in the forests of Maine at their Tallwood retreat.
Read part 16 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
Asking for special treatment
The British MRA members avoiding war service in the United States claimed they were “lay evangelists of an established religion”, a specific exemption within British draft law. That’s how it came to pass that Parliament debated in September and October of 1941 whether MRA recruiters qualified as ” regular ministers of a religious denomination “. Parliament decided they did not.
Read part 17 [misandryangie.wordpress.com
Henry “Fuckhead” Ford
During the pre-war years of the 1930s, when Buchman was saying “Thank Heaven for a man like Hitler” and advising Prime Minister Chamberlain to appease the Nazis, a rich and famous American Buchmanite was spreading antisemitic propaganda. The automobile magnate Henry Ford (Senior) went from being the most celebrated employer in the United States to a violent union buster within twenty years, arguably a consequence of joining the Oxford Group.
Losing Sam Shoemaker
Reverend Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopal priest and early Buchmanite, had been crucial to the Oxford Group’s success in the United States. He was essentially the American leader of the movement, and had let the Oxford Group use part of his church, Calvary Episcopal in New York, as their US headquarters. But between their creeping takeover of his church and the erasure of Jesus from the message, Shoemaker reached his limit. In 1941, he informed MRA they would need to find new offices and publicly left the group
Anti Gay Hatred
Frank Buchman may have been homosexual himself. Rumors to that effect certainly followed him across national boundaries and decades. Buchman never married or publicly courted any woman, and there was never a suggestion of sexual impropriety between him and any woman. There were however hints of scandal when it came to men, particularly the much younger undergraduate men he tended to surround himself with.
Castle in the Alps
Frank Buchman’s wealthy Swiss patrons bought three resort hotels in the mountains of Caux , Switzerland and had them renovated for the new Moral Re-Armament headquarters. As discussed previously, Buchman had lost his US headquarters when Rev. Sam Shoemaker left the group and stopped letting them use his church facilities. The property was gorgeous, with breathtaking mountain views and intricately detailed architecture.