Clubbed by Victory?

UPDATE (9 March 2007): The lawsuit has now been withdrawn. See here.

Nashville-based NewsChannel 5 reports on accusations against a religious club in the local Hillsboro High School and affiliated to Bethel World Outreach Center:

Thursday, two families filed a lawsuit against their daughters’ public high school because of religion. The girls claimed a school club put their lives in danger.

One girl claims that she attempted suicide after being put under severe pressure to speak in tongues, while the second girl

…became so consumed by trying to recruit and save others at the school that she had a total breakdown.

According to a lawsuit just filed against the school and church, the girl has now spent weeks in psychiatric hospitals and has been diagnosed as suffering from something called religious indoctrination.

I’m not sure about that for a diagnosis, but the mothers of the two girls also allege that the group tried to hide its activities from them:

…after the 17-year-old finally did speak in tongues she insists she was repeatedly warned by church members, including her teacher Meghan Therrell, not to tell her parents about it…Bethel’s Youth Minister, Shino Prater, said that’s just not true…But the girl’s mother claims that when she confronted Therrell about it, she didn’t deny it.

The club is known as the Victory Club, and Bethel runs around seventy of them around the USA.

NewsChannel 5 includes words from Bethel Senior Pastor Tim Johnson, who has apparently only been in the position for a short time. Over to the Bethel website:

We are pleased to announce that Tim Johnson has been appointed the Senior Pastor of Bethel’s Brentwood congregation. He has served as the Senior Associate Pastor since his move to Nashville from the Washington, D.C. area in 2000. Rice Broocks will continue with Bethel in the role of Senior Minister, overseeing the various congregations that make up Bethel World Outreach Center.

Rice Broocks yet again! Now, why does this guy keep popping up? As this blog has noted before, Broocks is the leader of the neo-Pentecostal grouping known as Every Nation (formerly Morning Star International); Bethel is the HQ, and the Victory Clubs are just one of the grouping’s many ministries. Only recently, similar accusations of abusive practices were made against another Every Nation outreach, based at the University of North Carolina (see here); and it should be remembered that Broocks was formerly a leader of Maranatha Ministries, a campus organisation that folded in the late 1980s over accusations of “cult-like” and authoritarian behaviour (see here; and various other Maranatha figures are involved with Every Nation).

I’ve posted on this topic several times before, and I’ve received a few critical emails. The problems at Maranatha were due to youthful inexperience; Broocks has learnt from the past; it’s unfair to judge the modern Every Nation grouping by what happened back then. Stephen Mansfield has also recently written a spirited defence of Broocks along much the same lines (which I critiqued here).

(Thanks to Darrell Lucus for the tip-off)

11 Responses

  1. There’s video on this story too–and it’s chilling. If there was any doubt that Rice Broocks and friends have learned and forgotten nothing from their Maranatha days, this should erase it. It’s not entirely surprising, since Morning Star is little more than a repackaged and reincorporated Maranatha.

    There’s really no good news for them here. About the only way for them to avoid serious trouble is if the judge tosses the suit out of court or finds there’s no grounds to sue Bethel. If this goes to trial, regardless of the result, the publicity will dog these guys like a mosquito. I don’t think I want to be Rice Broocks right now …

  2. Here’s a related article that ran in the Tennessean:

    http://tennessean.com/education/archives/05/03/69478163.shtml?Element_ID=69478163

  3. I wonder — what does Randall Terry have to do with Maranatha, which I have read a little bit about on this blog? His press releases used to be carried by Christian Communication Network, which used to have a web address ‘maranatha.tv’.

  4. I just came across this website and I’m not exactly sure who you are or how familiar you are with Morning Star International…but I want to urge you to continue to research and investigate this movement, because you’ve only just begun to tap into the corruption and cultish, dominating behavior that these people represent. I was a member of a Morning Star church for 4 years and experienced the hypocrisy, the manipulation, and the controlling behavior firsthand more times than I can count. If you haven’t already been tipped off to this message board, check it out:

    http://www.factnet.org/discus/messages/3/8123.html?1129013876

    Oh, the stories I could tell you! Thank you for bringing this issue to light. I truly hope this group of corrupt people will be revealed for what they truly are sooner rather than later, because their ultimate goal is to take over the world (i.e. their slogan “Every nation in our generation.”) And that’s scary.

  5. Thanks, I know FACTNET and some of the people on it have been in contact with me.

  6. […] has been accused of coercive behaviour. One of these, concerning Hillsboro High School, has been discussed on this blog already; the second, however, is news to me: …in January, Judy Peters, a former […]

  7. […] allegations, which I blogged on here, concerned “brainwashing”, pressure allegedly put on two school pupils to speak in […]

  8. […] years ago, in particular in relation to a neo-Pentecostal grouping called Every Nation (e.g. here, here, and here). Also involved with Maranatha in the 1980s – and based in Gainesville – was Lee […]

  9. […] and Campus Ministries (I previously blogged on this controversial organisation here, here, here, and here). Nuttle has apparently been an advisor to Jim Inhofe, and, among other roles, “a […]

  10. […] with it have since re-emerged as a group of churches called Every Nation (blogged by me here, here, and here; Pastor Terry Jones was also previously associated with Maranatha). Louis P. Sheldon […]

  11. […] with it have since re-emerged as a group of churches called Every Nation (blogged by me here, here, and here) Louis P. Sheldon heads the Traditional Values Coalition, which is known for anti-gay […]

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