Letters From Anonymous YAs and SGAs To Mama and Peter
Dear Mama and Peter,
My name is C. I love you both and admire you and Peter for the people that you are and the monumental task that you have to do. I was very relieved to hear that your eyes, Mama, have been feeling better. I admire you for having persevered so long despite your "thorn in the flesh". I continue to pray that your eyes will heal completely and your dizzy spells will subside.
To begin with, I would like to apologize for the anonymity of this letter, but I hope that after I explain, you will understand my reasons for this.
I am writing you, Mama and Peter, on behalf of a group of Family SGA's and YA's of various nationalities. We all know each other in some way—either in person or over the Internet. Although we all have some things in common (i.e. serving the Lord in the Family all our lives) we all have different backgrounds and were raised on different fields. Some of us live in the same Homes; others have been in communication via email with each other. Some of us are married, others not. Some of us have children, others do not.
Most of us are very thankful for the way we were raised, and realize that if it wasn't for the Family we would not be the people we are today, nor would we have some of the high moral standards we have today.
What is written below is a compilation, if you will, of thoughts, battles, questions, and yes, perhaps even some things that could be labeled as 'doubts', that my friends and I have had. There are many instances throughout the text where references to "I", "myself" or "me", do not refer to me personally, because the portion was inserted as is. Some of the inserted portions are more impassioned or emotionally charged than others, but I've included them in order to give somewhat of a balanced portrayal of how we feel. Although I have changed a few words here or there for the sake of clarity and readability I haven't given these comments and questions a slant of my own or altered their intended meaning in any way.
As for our reasons for writing anonymously:
I would have to say that the first and foremost reason for this is that we do not want to have whoever reads this see us as some sort of "spokespersons for Family youth", "resistance movement" and other such tripe. We do not want to be looked on as a gang for people to join or to add their murmurs or bitterness on to, we are just a group of random friends who have similar questions. Nothing more, nothing less.
Second: Unfortunately, it seems (and some of us have witnessed this, too) that there is a lot of stigma attached to a person voicing such questions, even if they are presented in a sincere undoubting manner. He or she is labeled as a "doubter", "sower of disunity" or "tool of the enemy" and the like.
Third: We prefer to assume anonymity for our own protection from people who would misunderstand our motives in writing what we have.
We apologize for any inconvenience this causes you and pray that you will understand what we have to say regardless of the nameless/faceless source.
I'd like to add here that I have read parts of the latest 'Conviction versus Compromise' series and I realize your not going to be very happy to get a letter like this right now. Maybe I'd even be excommunicated if you knew who I was. But please understand that at least I—I can't speak for anyone else—am sincerely seeking answers to these questions. Maybe I just missed something somewhere, but I don't recall these issues being addressed elsewhere in specific terms.
One of the first reactions you might have upon reading the comments and questions below is that there is an underground revolt and rebellion going on; that a few young people and YA's have banded together and have a hidden agenda to overthrow the Family and undermine its members' faith in leadership. You might think me some sort of ringleader or a spokesperson for my companions. Please believe me when I say that none of these are the case. I am simply compiling a lot of thoughts, questions and concerns that my friends and I have.
I do not believe that we are 'the voice' for all young people in the Family. Who knows, perhaps we are voicing some of their unspoken questions, but we do not delude ourselves with the idea that what is written here speaks for all Family members our age. These are question that each of us (my friends and I) has battled with—some for several years, others more recently.
As for myself, writing this is not an easy task, much less a pleasant one. I actually don't know why I, out of all of us, have ended up writing this. I am by far not the most outspoken person and conveying my own or other people's thoughts through writing has never been my forte. Actually, it has taken me several months to compile the letter since I first started. However, I'll try my best and I'm sure the Lord will help me present this clearly.
I just had a panic that another thought that may cross your mind is that maybe I am not a Family member at all, but rather some antagonistic outsider trying to pose as a Family SGA and so there's no point in answering. I completely understand this concern, given the circumstances. I guess you'll have to have faith that I and those on whose behalf I am compiling this, are who we say we are - just as we are expected to have faith in you and your Staff, Mama, although we've never met you personally or seen photos of you.
Without any further ado, below are some of the comments, notes and excerpts of letters written by my friends and I, which I have added as a sort of introduction to the questions below. I have compiled these from personal emails, conversations, online chats and even some unfinished letters to you, Mama, and have tried to organize them in such a way that, I hope, will help paint the picture more clearly.
* * *
(From C., SGA):
During our lives in the Family, many of us have heard about situations and incidents in the Family, Family leadership, WS, and even in your Home, Mama and Peter, that we have had to battle with ever since. In many cases we have witnessed, or experienced these situations in our own Homes or fields. Some of us have been battling with these questions for many years, wrapping them, as you've taught us so often, in a bundle of faith, laying them on the shelf and trusting God to take care of it for us. The truth is, for many of us those bundles are still on the shelves and for some, the shelves are not capable of holding any more bundles.
More recently, there have been the Web postings from James Penn, Ed Priebe and others that have discussed the going-ons in areas of the Family, in most of these cases the WS Family, which the average CM member has never even heard about, much less known existed.
The reasons for why and how we got hold of these materials varies and, frankly, is neither here nor there. The fact is, things were said about you and Peter that have put you in a very bad light. Although we do not agree with everything James Penn and others have written—and many of us feel that much of what was said is subjective no matter how well presented—many questions and accusations which were made against you, Peter, and your staff still remain unanswered.
* * *
(From T., SGA):
In his second posting, "All of These Things Moved Me", James Penn writes:
"Why don't some Family Members just ask them outright. The whole issue could be resolved in five minutes if someone would just do it. Do what normal people would do; ask the obvious question and demand a straight answer."
As a Family member, I take offense in that statement because he insinuates that we are not "normal". But that's not the point here. The point is: Questions were asked, accusations were made, stories were told . . . and there was silence. And James makes a valid point on this—"Silence like a cancer grows".
Sure, general answers and explanations were given, but the main accusations to which answers were challenged of them (Mama, Peter and WS) remained largely unanswered, and still do. James asked a number of very specific questions and they went unanswered or the answer that was published didn't hit the nail on the head.
To me, this is like a lawyer of the accusing side asking a suspect on the witness stand a direct question and the suspect instead begins debating the definition of a word used in the question, vilifies the lawyer and then lets people attest to how good a person he (the man on trial) is and how sweet, kind and loving he is, etc. After all the suspect's verbiage is over with, the simple fact remains: The question wasn't answered. In a normal court of law, the suspect would be held in contempt of court if he refused to answer a direct question (unless, of course, he pleaded the 5th amendment).
* * *
(From S., SGA):
I was expecting a "wham bang, sock it to the Enemy with the truth and prove him a liar" type of answer, so, in all honesty, what was published left me very disappointed. I had faith in you, Mama and King Peter. Faith that these things were not so. Faith that my loving shepherds could not be capable of such things. Faith that, for the sake of the sheep and putting the record straight, you would answer the allegations against you with clear, direct answers. Faith that you would stand up and proclaim the truth boldly and call the Enemy's bluff.
Sometimes I wonder. If I feel this way about your response to these allegations, what about some of my peers in the CM Family. I certainly know other people my age who believe that the way you handled answering James Penn's allegations was the best way it could have been handled. But I also know of others, both CM young people and adults, who don't know what to make of the whole situation and are confused by it.
As for me, I want to fight by your side and defend you. But how can I do that if I don't know where you stand?
I love you both very much, and want to serve the Lord in the Family until He returns. I want to know that what James, Hart and the others are saying about Dad, you both, and your staff is all a fabrication; a figment of their imagination. And, if it isn't, I would like to know that my loving shepherds have the guts to admit they were wrong, apologize, and we all go on serving the Lord together. Whichever it may be, I just want to know that I can stand behind what you, Mama and Peter, are saying and doing with 100% conviction that I am doing the right thing.
I've found in my life that it's easier for me to accept a correction or advice from someone and apologize to them if I know that, would the roles be reversed, they would apologize to me, too. It just helps to put that human face on them, to realize that we all make mistakes and to see the Lord in each other. I may not necessarily get along with that person so well, but knowing that certainly gives me more respect for them.
* * *
(From T., SGA):
I know that Mama and Peter said in both "Stay on the Wall" and "None of These Things Moved Me" that they don't have the time, neither has the Lord shown them to answer these accusations one by one. But I think that's, in effect, avoiding a direct challenge. To me, it made them look like the cat got their tongue and they couldn't face up to what really happened. Explaining it away with "The Lord told us not to get into this" just didn't cut it for me. If this is new policy for Family members to say "I heard from the Lord on this and he said I shouldn't discuss it with you", then, hey, I could wiggle my way out of ever having to confess or deny anything.
Mama and Peter are being challenged. James made direct attacks at both of them. He challenged them in his letter with his "Say it ain't so, Joe." When you're challenged like that you either say in a husky male baritone voice "It ain't so", or you say "It IS so! I'm sorry. I was wrong.", but you don't just keep quiet when you're challenged like that. It makes them look like they got caught red-handed. And what's worse is when they try to change the subject and avoid the simple yes-or-no answer to a direct, yes-or-no question.
* * *
(From J., 20):
I feel so helpless when guys like James Penn write stuff and throw accusations at the Family or at our shepherds and I don't know where we stand on this. I would LOVE to be able to say with full conviction, "Get lost, buster, You're full of shit!!". That would be so cool!! But then, when there's little or no feedback or counterattack, you're kind of left wondering, like "What's going on here? I thought none of this was true. Why don't they say something in answer to the real questions?"
I know it may not be my place to defend the Family or WS on this stuff, but I just keep thinking about that verse, "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you" (1 Peter 3:15 - my dad drilled us on those references. :) )
I thought that maybe the whole "Our Side" series would take care of that and there'd be testimonies from all sorts of people who where there when it happened and could say, "No, that's not how it was at all!! Here's some specifics of how it actually happened." But it was all general stuff, like "Mama and Peter are good people", or with Mene's case, "It was all done in love." So I'm like, "OK .. but that's what my OC teacher told me when he spanked me with headphone wires for something I didn't do." (Not like I'm still holding a grudge against my OC teacher about that, by the way. :) ) But it still doesn't answer the real questions. It just sort of put a band-aid on the huge open wound.
* * *
(From S., SGA):
I really had no interest in reading any of the James Penn letters even though friends and relatives had repeatedly offered them to me. I figured that I really wasn't interested in being hit with more doubts than I already had and there was no reason to inflict that on myself. But then the "Our Side" series came out, and to be honest, it offended me so much to read page after page after page of "glorify Mama and Peter" that it probably had quite the opposite affect that was intended. I had no idea what accusations James had thrown out about them, but after reading so many pages exemplifying how wonderful our shepherds are, I thought for sure he must have said the most vile, evil and unconceivable things imaginable. So I went and read his letter to find out what in the world could have been said to cause such an extremely vitriolic and defensive reaction.
That's when I was truly shocked. Not shocked by what he said, because I've heard it all before—and worse stuff from going through court case material, and it never affected my dedication. However, I was sincerely shocked—almost horrified at the reaction to what he'd said. No serious accusations were answered and the whole series seemed like nothing but a subterfuge —a distraction from the true issues being presented—A vilification of the accuser and a living canonization of the accused. It's also clearly evident that most of the people who stood up for Mama and Peter either hadn't a clue what was actually in James' letter (not having read it for themselves) or that they'd just quickly skimmed over it. There were so many misstatements and generalizations in referring to James' letter that it almost made him look like a persecuted hero the way he was "torn to shreds" by people who had no idea what they were talking about.
It's all great and fine and dandy that Mama and Peter are wonderful people. Sometimes wonderful people do bad things, too. Nobody is perfect and I don't think anyone expects Mama and Peter to be perfect either. But I do think that people expect honesty—especially from Mama who has preached honesty from the rooftops. The silence on the issues that were raised just kills me. It has cemented into my subconscious the idea that these things really did happen exactly as stated in the accusatory letters. But that's not even the worst of it. I've always believed that some of the accusations thrown out had an element of truth to them, otherwise the testifiers would've been thrown out of court for perjury. But yet, I still believed in Mama and Peter because like I said, nobody is perfect. But it's hard to have faith in someone (even the imperfect) if they're not willing to 'fess up to their mistakes—or even just clarify the inaccuracies. And basically this whole silence issue says, "Guilty as charged, but I'd like to cover it all up, publish a ton of material telling you how good I am to distract you from the issues, and then hope that you'll forget about it just like you always have so that we can go on with life like nothing ever happened."
* * *
(From R., SGA):
I'm always hesitant to write them (Mama and Peter) with direct questions because I always feel like I'm gonna get pages of prophecy telling me that I'm too low on the totem pole to be concerned with such matters—in a nice way, of course. Either that or I feel that the answer will just be a general "GBY, we're praying for you during this difficult time your going through." Or that they won't reply and I'll be left hanging.
Or, like what happened before. I wrote Mama with some specific questions I had about the prophecies in the latest GNs and all I got was, "File received safely. GBY!", or something like that. That was 2 years ago and I still haven't heard back from them.
So I just feel that if I ever wrote them something direct like that, all I'd get back is a non-committal answer like "We've answered all this stuff before." or, "Here are a few pages of prophecies from Dad on why you should have a change of attitude and shouldn't be reading material like this, Honey." or , "We plead the 5th." Or maybe I wouldn't get any answer back like the last time.
Or like happened in the case of that sister who wrote in and said, "I feel like all the latest GNs have been about the Law of Love". They almost picked that sentence to shreds when they replied, in effect, "Well, actually it hasn't been ALL of the GNs, only a few, and here are statistics to prove it." I think that all this sister was trying to say was that, to her, it felt like all of this stuff was harping on the same subject because she was going through these trials at the time. All she needed was probably just for someone to say, "Look, I know how you feel, but you're doing the best you can. Don't worry about it. It'll be clearer in retrospect." It just doesn't do any good to pick apart the letter and find fault with how things were worded
I think I'm old enough that I don't need a lecture or prophecy on doubts and their evil fruits. I know about that already. It would be so nice to just get some simple black and white, 'Yes' or 'No' answers with very little explanation or justification, and then let the chips fall where they may. I think that as a member of the Family, a group for which I've given all of my life thus far, I have a right to know the answers to these questions.
* * *
(From C., SGA):
We understand that you and Peter are very busy people, Mama, but we are expecting to hear something back. We expect that you will answer these questions, especially if, as so many people have said about you, you are wonderful people with nothing to hide. On the other hand, we also feel that we as members of The Family who are expected to follow you, your leadership and your connection with the Lord unquestioningly and loyally have a right to know these things. So, as much as this sounds like a threat—and it really isn't, but there's no other way to word it without it sounding like one—if we get vague, incomplete, general answers to these specific questions, we will, as you have diligently taught us, "ask again". If we fail to receive a reply or continue to be given the run-around we will post this letter and it's reply (or lack of it) on the Internet untouched and will send it to everyone we know. Because as we said, as Family members whose loyalty is pre-requisite to staying in the Family, we have a right to know whether these things be so, and if they are not, we'd like to know that, too.
Trust me, the answers, whether affirmative or negative will not shake my faith. What I found most disturbing about the accusations leveled in James Penn's, Ed Priebe's and other people's letters were that the accusations were not answered or confronted leaving me with the feeling that yes, they did happen but you are hoping to just sweep the issues under the carpet and hope they go away. True leadership takes responsibility for its actions—whether true or allegations. To side step the issues would irresponsible, hypocritical and would put you in the same category as Bill Clinton.
* * *
(From R., SGA):
It's like Dad always said, "Why explain? Your enemies won't believe you and your friends don't need an explanation anyway." But I think there are times when your friends do need an explanation.
* * *
- Was Dad, or any member of WS involved in trying to influence the coup in the Philippines and attempting to destabilize the Philippine government?
- While at Dad's house, was Mene ever beaten until she was black and blue, or until she vomited or fainted?
- During her time of living in Dad's house, was Mene ever tied to her bed during the night?
- Did Maria ever jokingly comment that she would like to throw Mene off the high wall of the Hilltop compound and then bury her?
- Did Peter ever give Mene a spanking in front of a group of WS staff members and/or visitors?
- Did Dad ever accuse a Family member of being demon-possessed, when in fact it was later discovered that they needed serious medical attention?
- Did Dad ever perform oral sex on Mene?
- Did Dad ever have contact with Mene that involved the touching of her genitals in any form?
- Did Dad ever have sexual contact (involving genitals) with his daughters, Deborah and/or Faithy?
- Did Dad ever have regular or irregular sexual contact (involving genitals) with minor girls (in this case, we'll say under the age of 18) in his house?
- Was Dad on cortisone for the last few years of his life?
- Was Dad's character or personality affected in any negative way by the medication (if any) he was taking in his later years?
- Was a "dead men talking" prophecy received in your Home or in WS from Art Linkleter while he was still alive?
- Have there been other cases where a prophecy given for or by celebrities contained obvious inaccuracies.
- Has a prophecy ever been withheld from being printed because it was tainted or a false prophecy?
- Is it true that a member of WS tried to obtain false passports for members of Dad and Mama's Home or WS, and the result for this person was time spent in prison?
- Why weren't these questions/accusations answered before?
We look forward to hearing from you. Please don't let us down.
Much love and prayers,
Letter To Anonymous YAs and SGAs From Mama and Peter
--By Mama and Peter, 24 October 2001
Dear anonymous kids, wherever you are,
God bless you! We love you. Thanks for sending us the compilation of your comments and thoughts. It's good to know what you're thinking, and we've been praying for you. We're sorry to hear that the James Penn and Ed Priebe material has been such a burden for you. As much as you won't like it, with this letter you won't receive the answers you have asked for. That will be a disappointment to you, but we'll try to explain why we will not answer, not even if you keep asking, and there are very legitimate reasons why. If you choose to post your letter and our response on the Internet, that's perfectly fine; in fact, maybe we'll post it ourselves, for all those who have similar questions.
To begin with, we're sorry you feel that none of the accusations from James Penn were answered. Others feel differently. We answered the ones we felt we could answer, and the most obvious accusations that we didn't address specifically were any dealing with Mene. We didn't address what James Penn said about Mene in his first letter, we will not address what he said about her in his second letter, and if he writes again, we will continue to ignore that point. There are two reasons for that, and if you can't understand them, then you're not the smart kids that we think you are:
1) As we said in "None of these Things Move Me," Mene has moved on. She's a grown woman, living in the United States, and she has her own life to live. Maybe you think she doesn't mind James Penn and people like you opening up her past for the whole world to see and examine and criticize, but we believe it's counterproductive. It's unnecessary and it will only open old wounds. We have officially apologized to Mene. We have said the book is closed, and that's it. We believe she, too, wants it left closed.
It's a funny thing. Young people are notoriously private. Even the young people that live in our Home whom we have a very sweet and close relationship with, would probably die of embarrassment and be extremely offended if any tiny bit of information about their personal sex lives or past were broadcast to even those in our Home, whom they know, trust, and love. To breach their confidentiality is a big deal, a real bad thing in their eyes. I think this is a pretty common quality in most young people. But then again, maybe not, as you young people don't seem to feel there's much wrong with delving into alleged very private experiences of a woman that's out of the Family—mind you, things that happened, let's see, almost 15 years ago--but which seem to be very much public domain and free to be discussed and explored at will amongst young people who are complete strangers to her. So I might be misreading this confidentiality question with young people. Maybe you're not so concerned about keeping your private lives private, considering what you're willing to broach publicly about someone else.
2) For obvious reasons, to get into any of the questions James Penn asks would be a legal nightmare. That's not to say those things are necessarily true, but just to address such dicey subjects in print, in today's climate, would be extremely delicate, and could put the whole Family at risk. Any time past actions have been addressed, apologies given, changes in policy made, it has required extensive consultation with lawyers and a tremendous amount of prayer. We do this, not because we have anything to hide, as you say, but because we as the shepherds of the Family are responsible for the security and safety of the Family.
It would be extremely negligent for us to, out of pride or because we feel sorry for people who can't put these accusations behind us, get into answering all these accusations at the risk of giving our enemies, the anti-cult movement, irresponsible media reporters, etc., more material to twist, pervert, distort, and thereby cause a lot of legal problems.
You probably aren't thinking about this, since you might not have been directly involved in it, but we have endured very long-lasting court cases where we were falsely charged. These caused a tremendous amount of pain for parents, children, and many Family members. It was terrible! It was time-consuming, nerve-wracking, and expensive! And whether you like it or not, we want to avoid that happening again if at all possible.
And you know what? Even if we were to answer these questions, and there were nothing at all illegal in our answers, and they were carefully scrutinized by lawyers—which they'd have to be—that still doesn't mean we would be safe from possible persecution because of answering your questions, because those who fight us are always looking for something new, something more that they can use to whip up some anti-cult sentiment and create a frenzy and cause us trouble. And even if it never amounts to anything in the end, still, it wastes a lot of time and money and can hurt a lot of people in the Family.
Did you know that as soon as the first James Penn letter was written, it was immediately scooped up by our enemies as they tried to introduce it into one of the ongoing cases against a Family couple? It's like, "Oh, hooray, here's something juicy. Sounds good, looks bad, let's go!" It amounted to nothing, but it still took our time and attention. Frankly, we have better things to do.
By the way, have you considered that James Penn knows we will not address the Mene issue? We made that clear in "None of these Things Move Me." Therefore, he then ventured to write another letter with more accusations. I suppose he felt he could say anything he wanted, knowing full well there would be no rebuttal.
Speaking of security issues, there are a few people who could write a few things about James Penn that I'm quite sure he would refuse to answer too. But we'll let that ride for now.
Okay, so that's that on the subject of Mene.
There are other subjects you ask about. You're not going to be happy about this, but we're not going to answer those either. The reason being is that some of the questions are fairly straightforward, some are very complex, some are doctrinal, and some could be security risks. Again, it's like the Mene questions. It's not that saying something is a security risk means we are guilty of illegal activities, but as many people know—at least those who have been personally involved in any actual court case—once something is in writing, every minute detail is important, the wording is crucial, and even innocent actions can be misconstrued. So to answer those questions would be extremely time-consuming, and like I said, we'd need to consult lawyers etc.
Well, maybe these questions are deal-breakers for you. Maybe they're the most important things happening in your lives. Maybe in spite of the huge challenges before the Family right now, where we're fighting for our future and working hard to get back to the level of dedication as outlined in the Bible and Letters, you still want to focus on these things of the distant past. That's okay if that's what you want. But Peter and I cannot. Even if we wanted to, we cannot, because we are swamped with timely work. We're busy trying to win the world for Jesus.
Now, that probably sounds like a miserable excuse to you, but for Peter and me, it's legitimate. Everyone has to make choices as to how they spend their time. We could probably spend a huge majority of our time answering apostates' accusations if we wanted to. In fact, the "Conviction vs. Compromise" series landed on Barney's web site within days of posting it on the MO site, and there is a whole flurry of complaints against us from former members. If we were really interested in defending our position at every opportunity, we could spend days, weeks, or months answering people's complaints, gripes, accusations, etc. But we're not going to do it, and we won't be intimidated by apostates. They won't be telling us how to spend our time, nor will we take more of our valuable time going back in time. It's ridiculous.
Right now there's a lot happening, today and in the future. There's the revitalization of the Family through the "Conviction vs. Compromise" series, which took months of prayer and seeking the Lord to prepare to publish. There's the launching of the boards, which took years of prayer and planning and seeking the Lord! There's the upcoming board workshops, which Peter needs to prepare hours of explanatory videos for. There's the upcoming Family Feast 2002, which we're praying about now. And those are just the majors. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
Now that you've received this letter—all you anonymous young people and any who feel the same—need to take this into consideration and make your choice. If getting those questions from James Penn answered is really that important to you, considering what I've told you, then I guess this isn't the place for you. I'm not threatening. I'm just being realistic. We won't be answering these questions, so now it's between you and the Lord. I'm not upset that you asked, and everyone has their right to their priorities and opinions. But I'm just trying to help you count the cost. And if the "Our Side" FSMs, which people other than Peter and myself were responsible for creating, bothered you that much, then that's another thing for you to seriously consider.
Everyone is making decisions now. Everyone is re-evaluating their place and what they want to do for the Lord. Each of you will need to do that too, so it's good you wrote when you did and that we could write you back, so you can take this answer of "no answers" into the equation, and if it's a deal-breaker, and you can't continue in the Family as a result, that's okay. We pray for you and hope for the best. If you can accept this answer, that's fine too. Really, we're not all shook up about this. It's a pretty straightforward situation. You made your position known; we have made ours known. Now you decide.
As you know, every man must give account of himself before the Lord. Each of us will have to stand before the Lord and give account of our own deeds, not another's. Bear in mind, however, that it's not going to be much of an excuse if you were to say to the Lord on that day, "Sorry, Jesus, I didn't serve You because Dad did so-and-so," or "Sorry, Jesus, I left off from being a missionary because Mama wouldn't tell us if Dad did so-and-so." The Lord will judge you according to how you live your life, not according to how Dad lived his!
We love you no matter what you decide.
Much love in Jesus and David,
Mama and Peter.
To Mama and Peter From C., 10 December 2001
(In response to Letter to Anonymous YAs and SGAs from Mama and Peter-24/10/01, received November 17th, 2001.)
Dear Mama and Peter,
(Unlike the first letter, which was a compilation, this is from me and only me.)
Thank you for taking the time to answer our letter. I know you are busy people, so I appreciate it a lot. I think most of the others do, too.
Your response was not disappointing for me. In fact, I was almost expecting something along those lines. Hey, once you've received a few hundred letters from someone, you have a pretty good idea of what their thought pattern is like. Your reasons for not answering our questions are entirely your prerogative and I (we) respect that. Although, being the 'smart kids that you know we are' (your words, not mine), we know it doesn't take a lot of intelligence to understand that there are few to no legal ramifications in denying a false accusation. The trouble only comes up when there is some element of truth involved and you have to explain your side of the coin. So even though our questions weren't directly answered, indirectly, they were, and I thank you for that.
There is one point of your letter that I'd like to comment on, and that is where, speaking of confidentiality & the questions about Mene, you said, "To breach their [young people in your Home's] confidentiality is a big deal, a real bad thing in their eyes. I think this is a pretty common quality in most young people. But then again, maybe not, as you young people don't seem to feel there's much wrong with delving into alleged very private experiences of a woman that's out of the Family—mind you, things that happened, let's see, almost 15 years ago—but which seem to be very much public domain and free to be discussed and explored at will amongst young people who are complete strangers to her."
I personally find this comment rather amusing considering that it was you, Mama, who those 15 years ago was responsible for publishing the very intimate and private details of Mene's thoughts, feelings and personal battles for the whole Family to wade through & it has been your words put in print that "demonised" or "stigmatised" her in the Family for the years that followed. Even after all this time, just the name "Mene" has very negative connotations to it for Family members. Also, I doubt that knowing as much about a person as the average Family member has come to learn about Mene from the Letters makes them a "complete stranger".—But, that's just semantics and not worth getting into.
It's also quite obvious from our questions, at least it seemed so to me, that we are not "delving into alleged very private experiences" of Mene, but rather calling into question alleged actions forced upon her. There IS a difference.
But as far as delving into Mene's past goes, our questions didn't bring any new issues to surface that haven't already been made very public by either Mene or Sara D. (you and/or Dad being responsible for the publishing of Sara's writings). James Penn didn't "shed new light" on the whole can of worms, he only claimed to be an eyewitness confirming that the things Mene had been saying were mostly, if not completely true. Your reply to Mene's allegations in the past has been, "Who are you going to believe, a crazy girl or God's Prophet". (I'd like to be able to quote you verse and chapter on that, but the Letter has long since been edited out of public existence). I took you literally and figured that of course all of Mene's accusations were lies & that she was a nut case. Now as I look back as far as my young memory can recall, God's Prophet never had a reply to Mene's accusations either (or Deborah's for that matter) & there are people (James Penn and others) claiming to verify that at least some of what she was saying was the truth—hence, the questions.
I'm happy enough that the book has been closed as far as Mene is concerned, and hey, if it spares her any more humiliation, that's great that you refuse to answer questions. I'm glad that the policy on public humiliation has changed.
As far as all of the other questions go, well, like I said above, although not addressed, they were answered to some degree. However, I can think of quite a few reasons why getting specific answers would be very important to some people—particularly those of us who have been born and raised in the Family, fed "Life with/of Grandpa" from the time we were learning to read and who have had our entire belief system established by the ideals of one man. (When I say belief system I'm not just talking about our 'unique' faith or Family doctrines, I'm talking about the way we see and relate to EVERYTHING—from the world around us to the World above us).
For some people it does make a difference and it's not a trivial difference. It's easy to throw out one-liners and say that someone left the Family (I won't say "stopped serving the Lord" as the two are not synonymous) because "Dad did so& so" or because, "Mama wouldn't tell us if Dad did so & so". It's true, as you say, the Lord will judge me by how I lived my life and not by how Dad lived his. But let's face it. Dad has influenced us all in a very large way. We learned everything from him; from how to wipe our butt to how to hear from the Lord. His life became our world. We saw the 'outside world' through his eyes. We trusted without question that the tiniest word he uttered was from the Lord. So regardless of whether we wanted to or not, how we have lived our lives has been completely influenced by how Dad lived his. Get it?
For some people, such as myself and my friends who are trying to understand or come to grips with what they believe, why they believe it and what it is based on, these things do matter and it's a "mattering" that goes very, very deep.