Editor's note: Wendy Duncan used to be part of the Trinity Foundation in
Dallas, Texas, led by Ole Anthony. The Trinity Foundation has been well-
known as a televangelist watchdog group, and it has helped mainstream
media outlets bust hucksters like Robert Tilton. However, as Duncan outlines
in her book, Anthony was spiritually and emotionally abusive to his
followers. The following excerpt talks about her struggle to re-establish her
relationship with God after she left the cult.

One of the leading cult experts in the country is Paul Martin, who, along with
his wife, founded Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, a residential
recovery center for ex-cult members. Dr. Martin stated in his article,
“Dispelling the Myths: The Psychological Consequences of Cultic
Involvement,” that spiritual problems are often present in ex-cult members;
however, the spiritual problems “generally originate with the group’s unbiblical
teaching rather than having their source in the individual’s own relationship with
God.” In Dr. Martin ’s experience, almost all former members of religious cults
or extremist sects are “confused about such things as the grace of God, the
nature of God, submission to authority, and self-denial.” Dr. Martin goes on to
say that “it is noteworthy that groups with widely varying doctrinal
stances…uniformly distort God’s grace and character.” Thus, an essential step
in the recovery process is rethinking the group’s theological, intellectual, and
ethical practices and beliefs.

Re-establishing my relationship with God was the most difficult task in my
recovery process. It has been a monumental task in my spiritual pilgrimage—
one in which I continue to struggle. After my husband and I left the Trinity
Foundation, we were encouraged by a good friend and former member to “find a
way to stay connected to God.” Matthew explained that he left Trinity
Foundation twice. The first time he separated from the group he eventually went
back because he had not been able to fill the spiritual void that he felt after he
left. When he broke away the second time, he and his wife found a loving
Catholic church and received spiritual counseling from a wise priest, which was
instrumental in their healing process.

After leaving the Trinity Foundation, I visited different churches each Sunday.
Not knowing anything other than the Southern Baptist denomination and Bible
churches, I gravitated toward evangelical churches. Each time I attended this
type of worship service, I heard Ole’s critical and mocking voice. When an
individual or a group of vocalists stood on the platform at the front of the
sanctuary and sang, I would hear Ole contemptuously talking about how the
modern church is focused on entertainment. Or when there was a time when
members greeted each other, I would hear Ole ridiculing this activity and telling
us that churches today know nothing about true community. I wanted desperately
to be able to go to a church and experience God, but Ole’s words flooded my
mind and poisoned any experience of worship. Week after week I would attend
yet another church, but I was beginning to lose hope—that I wouldn’t be able to
find God again.

During the time I visited various churches, Doug told me that he could not go
with me to an evangelical church. “Ole ruined them for me, Wendy ,” he
explained. He suggested that we try a liturgical church, such as Catholic or
Episcopal. Eager to find a church that we could attend together, I located an
Episcopal church near our home. One Sunday morning we went to the early
worship service at All Saints Episcopal Church. There were only a handful of
people at this service, and we hoped that we would not stand out since we did
not have a clue about the protocols in the worship service. When the time for
communion came, the congregants gathered at the altar. Doug and I sat there
watching.

In an apparent departure from the formality that had encompassed the service,
the priest came out from behind the rail of the altar and asked if we wanted to
take communion with them. Doug answered that we were not members of the
Episcopal Church. Father Ray replied, “We invite all baptized believers to have
communion with us.” My husband had tears in his eyes as we went to the altar
and kneeled to take the Holy Eucharist. Later, Doug told me that the priest’s
words had a powerful effect on him. “On some level, I thought that leaving
Trinity Foundation was synonymous with leaving the faith. Although I
intellectually knew that I was a believer, Ole’s teachings over the years left me
fearful that I was now one of those 'almost disciples,' forever separated from
God. When Father Ray invited us to take communion, I felt that here was a place
where I was welcomed as a fellow believer.”

A liturgical church proved to be what both Doug and I needed at this juncture of
our journey back to God. I had lost the capacity to pray while I was at Trinity
Foundation. I had a deep need to worship, but I no longer had the words or
method by which to do so. However, in this Episcopal church the means to
worship was given to me — in the scripture readings, the spoken prayers, and in
the Holy Eucharist. The liturgy gave me a way to worship God once again.

Additionally, we needed a place where we felt safe — a place that would accept
all our doubts, confusion, and questions, and patiently allow us to sort through
our beliefs. We found that refuge at All Saints Episcopal Church. In some of the
cult literature, the experts suggest that the ex-member find a church that is
radically different from their cultic group. Our new pastor was the polar
opposite of Ole. Father Ray Ball was a church historian with extensive
education. He was a humble man with a servant's heart — exactly the type of
minister we needed during this period of our spiritual healing.
LiturgicalCredo.com LiturgicalCredo.com                                                           
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Cult survivor discovers liturgy
Wendy Duncan shares an excerpt from her book,
I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult
Wendy J. Duncan has worked in the mental health
field for more than 20 years. He holds a master's degree
in Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary. For more information about her
book and her experiences in a Bible-based cult, visit
www.dallascult.com.
Return to LiturgicalCredo.com's home page.
My husband said, 'On some level, I
thought that leaving Trinity
Foundation was synonymous with
leaving the faith. Although I
intellectually knew that I was a
believer, Ole's teachings over the
years left me fearful that I was
now one of those "almost
disciples," forever separated from
God.'
Buy the book at Amazon.com; click below:
I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult