Thursday, June 30, 2011
Before we get into the story of Lauren Stratford, let's take a quick look at another woman who had a powerful influence on the Satanic panic of the '70s, '80s, and '90s.
Without Johanna Michaelsen, Stratford and other "former Satanists" might not have achieved superstardom within the Christian community. As a former New Age believer who had been born again, Michaelsen used their stories to support her ongoing crusade against the occult and all "non-traditional" religions. She turned a blind eye to the implausibilities in these stories, and never sought confirmation that they were actually true. When the stories were exposed as fabrications or fell apart on their own, she either strenuously defended them or simply moved on to the next one without comment.
But she's not content to just spread the lies and misinformation of others. Michaelsen herself has thrown out a great deal of nonsense about the paranormal, Halloween, and earth religions. In a single interview with The 700 Club in 1999, she attempted to tie school shootings to the occult and industrial/metal music (blaming Rammstein for the Columbine massacre, even though Klebold and Harris didn't know German); stated the Celts used Ouija boards; and warned that Satanists are grooming our children for their imminent "reign" by indoctrinating them with Halloween festivities. Because we all know that Satanists like to dress up as Disney princesses and beg door-to-door for Laffy Taffy, right?
Johanna, born in the '40s, was raised by American parents in Mexico. She began having paranormal experiences at the age of eleven, starting with horrific visions of severed body parts. These gave way to more pleasant encounters with angels. As an adult, Johanna still believes these visions were real and that she inherited the supernatural abilities of her great-great aunt, Dixie Jarratt Haygood. In the late 1800s, Haygood performed as Annie Abbott, the Little Georgia Magnet (as did several other women, it seems). She hoisted grown men and furniture into the air, balanced heavy objects on her fingertips, and exhibited other signs of superhuman strength, but as fellow "wonder girl" Lulu Hurst later revealed in a tell-all memoir, these were fairly simple parlour tricks. When the vaudeville acts grew stale, Mrs. Haywood turned to trance mediumship. In other words, she was a magician. That Michaelsen actually believes this woman possessed superpowers indicates she is far removed from reality. Or as they might say in Georgia, "Porch light's on, but nobody's home."
Johanna wanted to become an actress, but in her twenties grew so fascinated by psychic phenomena that she instead devoted herself to an array of what she now considers "occult" practices: yoga, meditation, Silva Mind Control, etc. After her acting class experimented with mental telepathy, Johanna attempted to psychically influence others and was, she claims, partially successful. She even summoned Jesus during visualization sessions and received guidance from him.
In 1970 she apprenticed herself to a Christian psychic surgeon in Mexico, the famous Pachita. This elderly woman claimed to be possessed by the spirit of a powerful healer she called Hermanito Cuauhtemoc, an Aztec warrior who appeared to perform miraculous healings in the name of Jesus.
Over a fourteenth-month period, Johanna assisted over 200 psychic surgeries that were mostly successful. But she gradually realized that some "patients" experienced intense pain during Pachita's procedures, that not all of them were healed, and that Hermanito was a jerk.
One night in 1972, Johanna felt a "black cloud" descend over her and heard voices threatening to kill her as demons pressed their faces against a window, leering in at her.
She ultimately decided all of her mystical experiences had actually been demonic counterfeits, and turned away from them to accept the true Christ.
This had a lot to do with her younger sister Kim, who had been a fundamentalist Christian throughout this time. It was Kim who advised Johanna to meet with Os Guinness and other Christian counselors at L'Abri, Switzerland, where Johanna fully embraced Christianity for the first time.
Kim became the third wife of Hal Lindsey.
Johanna married Randolph (Randy) Michaelsen, then an associate pastor at the Tetelestai Center church in Torrance, California. He is currently the pastor of King's Harbor Church in Torrance.
The Lindseys and Michaelsens all attended Tetelestai Center throughout the '70s and '80s, at the peak of Hal's popularity as a Christian author. His Planet Earth books, which blended pop eschatology with dire prophecies about geopolitical trends, were bestsellers.
In 1982, Harvest House published Johanna's first book, The Beautiful Side of Evil, with a foreword by Hal Lindsey. It documented her "occult" experiences and conversion to Christianity. From then until now, she has appeared on numerous TV shows and given presentations to expose the dangers of the occult, with particular emphasis on New Age "infiltration" of Christian churches. Her appearance on The John Ankerberg Show, alongside The God Makers author Dave Hunt, is available on Youtube.
At the height of Satanic panic in the U.S. (the late '80s and early '90s), she warned of widespread crime and ritual abuse supposedly being perpetrated by devil-worshipers.
In 1987, the Michaelsens took a middle-aged woman known as Lauren Stratford into their home for a month. She claimed she had recovered memories of belonging to a murderous Satanic cult in the '60s, and needed help healing from the trauma. They introduced her to Hal Lindsey and several other prominent Christian authors, who all encouraged Stratford to write her life story. Her memoir, Satan's Underground, was published by Harvest House in 1988. Johanna wrote the introduction to it. In February of that year, she and Lauren appeared together on Oprah to describe the Satanic atrocities Lauren had survived. They also appeared together on Hal Lindsey's TV show.
In 1989, Harvest House published Michaelsen's second book, Like Lambs to the Slaughter, a guide for parents on how to prevent the occult from encroaching on their children's souls. Among other things, she warned against letting kids watch The Smurfs because one episode featured Gargamel standing in a pentagram, casting a spell. This was cited by a few anti-occult crusaders of the '80s (see Phil Phillips' hilarious Turmoil in the Toybox, for example), but what Gargamel really did in the episode "Winged Wizard" was draw a hexagram on the floor and bounce up and down on one foot chanting, "Upsis downsis hoozie whatzits, rara avis 31 flavours." Which is probably more product placement than Satanic ritual, if you ask me.
In the '90s, Hal Lindsey left Kim for one of his Bible study students. She became his fourth (and current) wife. This probably eroded the relationship between Lindsey and the Michaelsens.
In 1991, Cornerstone magazine investigated Lauren Stratford's background and discovered that it bore little resemblance to the stories she told in Satan's Underground. Among other things, Stratford had claimed to have inside information about ritual abuse supposedly occurring in California daycare centres during the mid-'80s. She imposed herself upon the parents of the alleged victims and told bizarre stories that could not be verified - not that they had any direct bearing on the abuse allegations, anyway. Johanna admitted to the Cornerstone researchers that she knew of Stratford's more outlandish tales before Satan's Underground was published, but failed to explain why she unquestioningly accepted Stratford's other stories. She also admitted that Hal Lindsey had been "bluffing" when he told his TV viewers he possessed documentation of Stratford's claims (see "Satan's Sideshow" by Bob and Gretchen Passantino and Jon Trott).
In 1992, when Cornerstone exposed the lies of "former high priest" Mike Warnke, Michaelsen fired off an angry letter to the editors. Without addressing any of the information the authors had uncovered, she accused them of trying to "annihilate" Warnke. Her message seemed to be that if someone is a strong voice for Christ and brings in new believers, deception and fraud are beside the point.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
In Closet Witches, Brown and Chick lay a guilt rap on fellow Christians who don't take ex-witches into their homes or at least counsel them. Chick gripes that a pastor at Melodyland (the California megachurch despised by John Todd and Mike Warnke) refused to believe that witches could be brought to Christ. As a result, 60 former witches gave up all hope and died of drug overdoses. It's unclear how Chick acquired such information. Did he track down all of these ex-witches? Did he hear second-hand reports of their fate? As with the mission field fairytales of Kurt Koch, anecdotes take the place of hard information.
Dr. Brown's Story
Rebecca Brown's story, as told in Closet Witches and in her books, is every bit as weird as Elaine's. It includes religious persecution, demonic possession on an epidemic scale, and sinister medical conspiracies.
Bailey was born in Indiana in 1948. Though her parents were Christians, she came to believe that their church was evil because "drunkenness and adultery were rampant". As a result of attending this ungodly church, her parents became "evil and demonically controlled". (1)
Brown claims the hospital in which she met Elaine (not named by her, but known to be Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana) was a hellhouse where the forces of darkness had been loosed, not alike Lars von Trier's Kingdom. According to her, this is because most of the staff had turned away from Christ and were immersed in New Age/Satanic practices.
First of all, the hospital was plagued by mysterious deaths. When Brown expressed puzzlement and concern to her superiors, they warned her to keep quiet about it. So Brown did her own investigating, and discovered that a staggering 75% of the patients were suffering ICU psychosis, and all of these people were experiencing vivid hallucinations of demons. At least, most people would consider them hallucinations. Brown, as a fundamentalist Christian, decided the demons were real. (2)
This mass possession coincided with local religious persecution and Satanic activity, as well as New Age beliefs among hospital staff. A local pastor (unnamed) spent months in the hospital after he was kidnapped, beaten, partially skinned, and burned by vindictive Satanists who didn't appreciate his prosetylization efforts.
To Brown's dismay, nurses told an elderly patient she should let go of her will to live so she could be reincarnated. One laid hands upon the old woman and uttered strange incantations, trying to summon "higher powers" that could ease her transition into death. Instead, she summoned a terrifying demon.
At Bible study, Brown met a nurse named Lynn who confirmed that certain nurses were witches trained to encourage some patients to die. She also discovered that her town was located just 20 miles from the second-largest centre of Satanism in the US., next to L.A./San Francisco (possibly Chesterfield). "There was a whole town that was made up of Satanists and they had a Satanists' church, but they also had a lot of denominational Christian Churches they attended to put on a good front." Lynn revealed that many of the nurses and several of the doctors on staff at the hospital were Satanists.
The elderly woman was so frightened by demonic apparitions that Brown agreed to stay by her bedside through the night, and for the first time she experienced intense demonic oppression, feeling as though "something was literally trying to squash my body into the floor." (2)
Brown took it upon herself to protect every patient in the hospital from demonic interference. To her mind, this was a spiritual battle: Jesus and Rebecca against nearly every doctor and nurse in the hospital. Every night, she walked through the wards quietly uttering prayers for protection. After she started doing this, the death rate in the ICU dropped by 50%. (2)
Though she didn't know it at the time, Brown's most powerful enemy was Elaine. As Satan's wife, Elaine was in charge of the community's Satanic underground, and her husband explicitly ordered her to kill the obnoxious doctor who was stymying all his efforts. It was Elaine who sent out the order for the pastor to be abducted and tortured, but two such incidents in a single year would have attracted too much attention. "So I organized a national effort between [sic] top witches nationwide to get rid of Rebecca." The witches, knowing that Brown suffered a rare muscle disease, prayed for the disease to worsen. It did.
Brown's minister friend, "Pastor Pat", didn't know about any of the goings-on at the hospital. Yet he realized that Brown was suffering demonic oppression, and could soon die. He had his 200 parishioners pray for her. Thanks to Pat's efforts, Brown was freed from the influence of the witches and her disease was miraculously cured. (2)
The demons were so annoyed by this turn of events that they physically manifested and beat the tar out of Elaine. Satan was also highly displeased with her. He demanded to know why Brown wasn't dead yet, and ordered his wife to hurry up. This is around the time she was saved. Even after turning to Christ, however, Elaine continued to cling to witchcraft. The result was that Man-Chan and "several hundred" other demons stuck around, making her life difficult. (2)
Brown claims she experienced severe personal losses as a result of her fight against the Satanists. But she's cool with that, because God had warned her she would have to make sacrifices to do His work properly. On Closet Witches, she tells Jack Chick she resigned from her job to devote herself full-time to the battle against the Devil. As we'll see, this is not what really happened.
Brown contends that most, if not all, Christian churches have been infiltrated by Satanists, meaning Satanists-cum-Christians like Elaine face opposition even from their new faith communities. This is an absurd statement made by many ex-witches/former Satanists, and I would like to see some hard evidence for it. The notion that a Satanist would spend hours of every week attending a Christian church, posing as a Christian, is every bit as ridiculous as the idea of a devoted Baptist joining his local Satanic church to spread the gospel. It just doesn't happen.
At this point in Closet Witches, Chick complains that he and other Christians faced the same sort of persecution when God commanded him to launch a vicious, hoax-based attack against the Catholic church.
Then he makes a very strange confession. He admits that when he suspected a witch of sending curses against him, he prayed that God would return those curses tenfold. Wow, dude. If that's not persecution by paranormal means, what the hell is? How can he bellyache about mean ol' witches when he behaved worse than they (allegedly) did?
Though he expresses contrition for his behaviour, he also warns Christians not to return curses because it could kill them. Not because it's unchristianly to curse people. Not because curses are nonsense. Because uttering a curse could kill them. Sheesh, it's like time travel; I swear we stepped back into the Dark Ages for a second.
One story in Brown's Prepare for War concerning this period defies explanation. In this account, an angel descended from Heaven to kill Elaine because God considered her a "nuisance". Brown prostrated herself before this angel and begged to be killed in Elaine's place. The angel settled for making Brown severely ill for a brief period.
Brown's friends and former colleagues supposedly abandoned her when she left her job at the hospital, and family members even tried to commit her to a mental institution. People close to Brown, including her pastor, also disapproved of Elaine's presence in her home, possibly because Elaine attacked her with a butcher knife one day. Brown sensed that this attempted murder was really the work of Man-Chan, so she continued to let Elaine live with her. Pastor Pat performed an exorcism on her, expelling hundreds of demons in the span of eight hours. Unfortunately, he didn't get rid of all the demons. Within a week, Elaine was in the full grips of possession again. For two months poltergeist activity, psychic attacks, and other supernatural phenomena plagued Brown's house. Both women were brutally beaten and abused by discarnate entities. Elaine repeatedly tried to strangle herself to death with a belt, which Brown viewed not as self-abuse but as more manifestations of the demonic. "I'm convinced that most suicides are actually not done by the person themselves, but by a demon within them controlling their body," she told Chick. This echoes John Todd's assertion that many medical conditions, including epileptic seizures, are caused by demons. Brown even contends that Satanic and "Voodoo" curses are highly effective, capable of blocking a person's spiritual growth. (2)
It was only after Elaine renounced all her witchcraft powers and prayed for forgiveness that the nightmare abated somewhat. Another deliverance session with Pastor Pat expelled the last of the demons, including Man-Chan.
Brown warns that partaking in any "occult" activity (such as Satanism, Freemasonry, Catholicism, Dungeons & Dragons, or rock music) can open the door to demonic influence.
You have to wonder just how many witches and Satanists there are in the U.S., if each ex-witch has brought hundreds of other witches to Christ - as nearly all of them claim to have done. The numbers would be truly staggering. In reality, there are roughly 200,000 to 1.2 million neopagans, Satanists in the U.S. The number of Satanists is unknown, but would be extremely low relative to other minority religions. Needless to say, these numbers were considerably lower in the '80s.
Chick expressed concern about the number of Freemasons and Catholics who have infiltrated Protestant churches, a concern shared by John Todd and Bill Schnoebelen. Elaine told him you can always spot a Mason by his flamboyance and arrogance. Chick trotted out his absurd claim that Masonry, at its highest levels, is controlled by Jesuits. That's a neat trick, considering that Catholics are not permitted to become Freemasons. To prop up this incredibly weak conspiracy theory, Chick reads a letter from an anonymous former Mason and ex-Nazi who alleges that the Pope is the master of Freemasonry, just as "Dr." Rivera says. How convincing.
But Elaine obligingly confirms Chick's suspicion that "the Evil Trinity" (Catholics, Masons, and witches) works together to infiltrate and subvert Christian churches. That's not surprising; the testimony in Closet Witches seems tailor-made to appeal to Chick's own specific theories and prejudices. Elaine flatters him by saying it was one of his pamphlets that persuaded her of Christ's power, and by identifying him as one of the targets of the Satanists' wrath.
After resigning from Ball Memorial Hospital, Brown set up a private practice in another town (not named by her, but known to be Lapel, Indiana). Here the harassment escalated. Somehow, the Satanists played a role in the death of Brown's mother, and possibly struck Elaine with leukemia. Elaine was confined to her bed for half a year, semi-comatose, as Brown worked desperately to save her life.
Their church and their families turned against them, refusing to help in any way. This is when the Satanists broke into Rebecca and Elaine's home, murdered their pets, and trashed Rebecca's office. Though Elaine was still severely ill, they had little choice but to flee Indiana.
The number of preposterous statements made by Brown and Elaine are too numerous to count. We've seen a lot already: Satan getting married in a Presbyterian church, the Pope ruling over a horde of "flamboyant" Freemasons, etc. Here are a few more, told by Brown on Closet Witches and in her books:
- A teenage girl found herself suicidally depressed and "bound" by demons because of "weekend experimentation with street drugs during a slumber party around age 13." Come on. A kid's spiritual life is destroyed because she used an illicit substance once in puberty? Are you freaking kidding me? Where is the evidence - Biblical or otherwise - that one-time drug use is sinful and injurious to one's spiritual well-being? Even if that's so, where do we draw the line, here? Would a single toke separate you from God? What if you don't inhale? What if someone slips you a mickey - would the spiritual effect be the same, even though you don't realize you've taken a street drug? You see how silly this line of reasoning can get. (1)
- Most herbalists and health food purveyors are witches or yogis who utter incantations over their merchandise. Consuming any of this stuff leaves one vulnerable to demonic attack. Unholy granola! Satan's supplements! (1)
- It's wrong to be a vegetarian. Vegetarians lack the physical strength required to fight demons, as they consume only "incomplete proteins". Remember, this woman is a doctor. (1)
- "Be aware that many children’s toys are actually statues of demon gods." (2)
- Because of African tribal warfare, today's African-American communities have been cursed with violence. (3)
- "Every Rock music record and tape has a demon attached to it." Again, this is straight from the mouth of John Todd, who claimed that record producers took master recordings into Satanic temples and literally inserted demons into them. She urges parents to destroy any rock albums or D&D merchandise owned by their children, citing Deuteronomy 7:25-26, in which God urges his followers to slaughter the Canaanites and destroy all their religious stuff. Because that would be a sane and humane thing to do. (1)
- If you don't inform your Catholic friends that they are "witches" destined for Hell, then you are basically a witch yourself. Really? I wonder if Brown told her Catholic financial backers this, right before they handed her a substantial sum of cash to open up her private practice. (1)
- Brown herself suffered 13 years of demonic attack just for viewing the King Tut exhibit, because all Egyptian artifacts are cursed. (3)
- Sorority and fraternity members are particularly prone to demonic attack. When they pledge loyalty to a deceased founder, they are actually declaring their devotion to a demon. (1)
- A minister's family experienced Amityville-style paranormal activity (blood oozing from walls, objects whizzing through the air of their own accord, etc.) because the minister's 18-year-old stepdaughter had become demonically possessed after her natural father molested her. The belief that sexual abuse causes possession in victims, rather than perpetrators, is disturbingly common among Christians interested in demonology (notably Bob Larson and the late Dr. M. Scott Peck). On Brown's advice, the minister ejected the young woman from his home and this ended the demonic phenomena. (1)
- Satanic ritual abuse is real, and its primary aim is to "place demons" into children. She offers some appalling advice to parents who discover their child has been abused: "The first decision is whether to notify the authorities. You must carefully seek the Lord's wisdom on this issue. We are most certainly in the last days and our country is almost totally corrupt." In other words, don't even give the authorities the chance to do the right thing. Just let child molesters, rapists, and even murderers run amok in your community if God "tells" you to do so. What Brown is suggesting would actually place her readers on the other side of the law, as most states require you to report suspected child abuse. (1)
- Brown portrays Satanists as homicidal thugs. Without giving a single solid detail, she told Jack Chick that a Satanic coven slaughtered a fourth of its members for betrayal (briefly becoming Christians). In other words, Brown knows of 25 murders and she's not naming names. This is quite typical of the former witches in this series. They claim to have witnessed human sacrifices, rapes, and a host of other atrocities - but they don't report these alleged crimes, nor provide enough information for the alleged crimes to be exposed. That's very odd behaviour for people who are "fighting Satanism" and "saving souls". If they really want to protect the rest of us from baby-eating, virgin-slaughtering Satanists, they can start by learning to dial 9-1-1.
Unless, of course, they're bluffing about all this carnage. And I think the evidence will show that Ruth Brown and "Elaine" were doing just that.
The Exposure of "Elaine" and Dr. Brown
Surprisingly, one of the Christian media outlets that called the Elaine story into question was the Personal Freedom Outreach Newsletter, which had promoted the anti-Wiccan agenda of Tom Sanguinet back in '83. In 1989, writers G. Richard Risher, Paul R. Blizard, and M. Kurt Goedelman delved into the backgrounds of Ruth and Elaine. What they discovered flatly contradicted much Jack Chick's material about the two women.
First of all, Rebecca Brown did not exactly resign freely from her job at Ball Memorial Hospital. She was asked to leave when her deliverance rituals and religious paranoia began to disturb patients and staff. She left Ball Memorial and set up a practice in the town of Lapel. She and Elaine set up housekeeping in the nearby town of Pendleton, telling locals they were sisters.
Interestingly, Brown's funding came from a Catholic hospital. She certainly didn't mention that to Jack Chick when they were discussing the Catholic-Masonic plot to destroy Bible-believing churches.
In 1984, under her original name, Ruth Bailey, she was stripped of her license to practice medicine in the state of Indiana. The events leading up to this are deeply unsettling. On October 17, 1983, Elaine was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis after receiving a near-fatal overdose of painkillers, her body covered with bruises and lesions from multiple injections. Significantly, she was not suffering from leukemia or any other serious medical condition.
Officer Samuel E. Hanna of the Madison County Police found that Edna had been under the treatment of one Dr. Ruth Bailey. Subsequent investigation revealed that Bailey, in a six-month period, had written prescriptions for 330 vials of Demerol. She had regularly administered 600-900 cc of phenobarbitol to Edna, when 150-200 cc is typically a fatal dose.
The following May, when Bailey was summoned to appear at a hearing of the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, she was residing in Niles, Michigan. She was found guilty in absentia, and her medical license was revoked.
The witness testimony at this hearing was profoundly disturbing. Several people testified that Bailey brandished a handgun and threatened to shoot them because they were possessed by demons. Ruth's former live-in housekeeper testified that Ruth and Edna were more than just friends and housemates; they shared the same bed. Far from living in the sanitary conditions a cancer patient would require, the two women lived in squalor. Their house was strewn with garbage, used syringes, food, animal feces, and overflowing ashtrays. Some of the witnesses had watched Ruth injecting not only Edna with morphine and Demerol, but also herself and teenage Claudia. Ruth explained to them that God had allowed her to "share" her patients' illnesses, to ease their burden.
Worst of all, Bailey had misdiagnosed several patients (including Edna and Claudia) with serious ailments including leukemia, gallbladder disease, blood disorders, and brain tumours. She told the women that these conditions were caused by demons, and claimed that God had granted her the ability to diagnose diseases other physicians could not. She prescribed massive amounts of painkillers without adequate instruction, supervision, or record-keeping; some of her patients subsequently had to go through detox, and underwent withdrawal. She falsified patient information on charts and records to convince other doctors that her patients were severely ill. (4)
There are many unanswered questions about this incident. Who checked Edna into St. Vincent's? Did Ruth flee to Michigan alone, or did Edna accompany her? Where was Claudia while her mother was in hospital? Why was Edna diagnosed with leukemia and given massive quantities of drugs? Was Bailey drugging her friend to keep her dependent, or had the two women fallen into a dangerous folie a deux involving delusions of terminal illness and Satanic persecution (not to mention drug addiction)?
These questions may never be answered, but we can address some of the other claims made by Ruth Bailey. For instance, did Satanists have any role in the death of Ruth's mother, Lois Bailey? It's unlikely. Mrs. Bailey was 75 years old when she succumbed to a heart attack on December 31, 1982. (4)
What about the mayor of Muncie and the chief of police being Satanists? Brown gives this as her sole reason for not turning to law enforcement when Satanists started harassing her.
Well, the late Robert Cunningham was the ougoing mayor (1980 was an election year). Brown may have considered him a badass, but his gravestone tells a slightly different story. I don't think there's a self-respecting Satanist on earth who would choose such a fuzzy-wuzzy epitaph. At any rate, even if Cunningham was the nicest Satanist in the world, he was replaced by Republican Alan K. Wilson, and Wilson was replaced in '84 by the late "Big Jim" Carey. Were both of these men devil-worshipers, too? Watch the classic 1982 documentary The Campaign, part of the PBS series "Middletown", and decide for yourself. It chronicles the 1980 mayoral race between Wilson and Carey.
In 1986, Ruth Bailey legally changed her name to Rebecca Brown. She continued to refer to herself as a doctor, though she never acquired a license to practice medicine outside Indiana.
Like the other people in this series, Bailey declined to give the names of witnesses who should have been able to corroborate parts of her story. For instance, the doctor at Ball Memorial who learned of the Pavulon in Elaine's IV, or the nurse who confessed to helping poison her food. Neither she nor Elaine reported any of the attempted poisonings and bombings. She does not name any of the murderous doctors or nurses at Ball Memorial, which would be quite inconsiderate if her stories were true - shouldn't the public be warned?
"Elaine" was Edna Elaine Moses (nee Knost). Her witchy background turned out to be solidly Christian, though I suppose she could argue this was actually evidence of her infiltration efforts. Her high school yearbook (1965) listed her as a member of the Bible Club, and she married in a Foursquare Gospel church. (4)
Throughout the late '60s and the '70s, Edna/Elaine lived with her mother and stepdad in her hometown of New Castle, Indiana, working at a series of low-paying jobs. She then became a Practical Nurse (LPN) and worked in nursing homes in and around New Castle. If she lived the jet-setting life of a Regional Bride of Satan, no one seems to have noticed.
Strangely, Edna used an array of aliases after meeting Ruth Bailey. She sometimes used the surnames Bailey or Brown, her maiden name, or various combinations of her given names. Though she could have argued this obfuscation was necessary to shield herself from the Satanists, Edna's location was usually known.
After their adventures in the Midwest, Edna and Ruth packed their bags and headed to California, home of Chick Publications (and a large number of the other ex-witches in this series). Chick not only published their stories, but hired them to work for him. They also landed speaking engagements at several churches.
Edna eventually drifted away from Ruth, and passed away in 2005.
Ruth married the Daniel Michael Yoder (real name William Joseph Stewart) on December 10, 1989. (4)
Yoder/Stewart has a very mysterious background. He claims he was born into a very wealthy Jewish family of international bankers (hinting at the Rothschilds, which brings to mind the "Satanic Nephilim" nonsense of Doug Riggs) and schooled by Rabbinical and Cabbalistic scholars at an exclusive Swiss boarding school between the ages of 6 and 19. He was ritualistically tortured by the staff of this school. As soon as he arrived, the rabbis locked him in basement dungeons and dumped poisonous spiders on him. This is when Jesus appeared to Daniel and miraculously healed the spider bites. But he didn't become a Christian until his 30s.
Upon completing grad studies in Switzerland, Yoder went to work in his grandfather's business. He later inherited it, and started some businesses of his own as well. When he was 30, his parents forced him into a strategic marriage with a woman named Kai, also a victim of "Cabbalistic abuse". She soon converted to Christianity, which so enraged their families that hitmen were hired to kill the young couple. They were captured on the run and shipped to Israel. Daniel was chained to a wall, forced to witness Kai being tortured to death for her refusal to renounce Christ. She was with child at this time, having miraculously conceived in spite of a non-medical hysterectomony performed upon her in childhood at the behest of the evil rabbis.
Yoder fled to a remote cabin in the United States, where Kai's martyrdom and her copy of the Bible finally persuaded him to accept Jesus.
Like his second bride, Yoder offers no verifiable details of any of his stories. (3)
At the time of his marriage to Brown, Yoder was using another man's social security number. The newlyweds relocated from Arizona to Lake Park, Iowa, where Yoder passed himself off as a retired neurosurgeon whose father had also been a doctor. He befriended Dickinson County Sheriff Greg Baloun, telling Baloun tall tales about his days as a surgeon. In one fairytale, he used a modified Chevy Cordoba with a 40-gallon gas tank to make emergency trips between California and Nevado, speeding along the highways at 200 miles an hour.
Within a six-month period, Yoder and Brown lived in three different communities in northeastern Iowa and set up a ministry called Wells of Living Grace. The authorities discovered that Yoder was using several aliases and forging documents to prop up his false identities. He had served time in Minnesota and Missouri for simiar offenses. Perhaps knowing the law was at their door, Yoder and Brown returned to Arizona.
In 1991, Yoder was arrested in Pheonix and extradited to Iowa to face charges of falsifying motor vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, and social security records. He ultimately pled guilty in exhange for a modest fine, then resumed life in Arizona. Later the couple would relocate to Arkansas.
Together, Yoder and Brown established a ministry called Harvest Warriors. Their website describes Yoder as a "prophet, healer, and evangelist", and claims that in 2002 he was presented with the National Republican Congressional Gold Metal for leadership, on the recommendation of Newt Gingrich. (5)
Yoder's real background remains largely unknown.
In 1992, the Christian publisher Whitaker House reprinted the first two books by Rebecca Brown, and they have remained in print since that time.
The Reverend William W. Woods, pastor of Deer Valley Church of the Nazarene in Phoenix, the minister who married Yoder and Brown, wrote the foreword to their first book, Unbroken Curses (1996), and continues to support their work. (5)
Yoder and Brown continue to travel and preach, spreading curse theology and misinformation about neopaganism and the the "occult". Last March, Yvonne Kruger of Prophetic End Time Ministry invited Brown to speak in South Africa.
Though Brown's star has definitely fallen since the mid-'80s, she retains a small corps of fans who enthusiastically recommend her books. Last year, a sixth-grade science teacher in Brooklyn was mildly reprimanded for distributing and selling copies of They Came to Set the Captives Free to some of his students.
1. Prepare for War by Rebecca Brown, M.D. (Chick Publications. Chino, Calif., 1987)
2. Closet Witches summary @ Monsterwax.com (reposted @ James Japan's homepage). Retrieved June 26/11.
3. Unbroken Curses: Hidden Source of Trouble in the Christian's Life by Rebecca Brown, M.D. and Daniel Yoder (Whitaker House, 1996)
4. "Drugs, Demons, and Delusions: The 'Amazing' Saga of Dr. Rebecca Brown" by
by G. Richard Fisher, Paul R. Blizard and M. Kurt Goedelman. Originally published in The Quarterly Journal of Personal Freedom Outreach. Vol. 9, No. 4, October-December 1989. (reposted @ Cult Help and Information)
5."The Curse of Curse Theology": The Return of Rebecca Brown, M.D." by G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman @ Personal Freedom Outreach.org
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The two-for-one account of Dr. Rebecca Brown and "Elaine" plays out like every B movie you've ever seen. Satanic nurses out for blood...a marriage to the Devil...snoozy Midwestern towns run by witches...a hospital showdown between the forces of light and darkness...
The "Elaine" hoax was wholly facilitated by our old friend Jack Chick, the same guy who incorporated John Todd's nonsense into comic books about a vast conspiracy of murderous Satanic witches, and continues to spread Bill Schnoebelen's warnings about the occult dangers of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, I have yet to find a Chick source who wasn't a hoaxer or crank. It's like the man is allergic to accurate information.
So it isn't hard to believe that in the mid-'80s, when two women approached Chick with a mind-boggling story of Satanic conspiracy and evil, he bought it wholesale.
The two women identified themselves as Elaine, the former high priestess of a Satanic cult based in Indiana, and Dr. Rebecca Brown, a GP who ran a small practice in the same state. Both women were in their late thirties.
Dr. Brown had been taking care of Elaine, emotionally and physically, since her escape from the cult. She was Elaine's housemate, physician, protector, and spiritual mentor. Elaine suffered leukemia at this time, and was often confined to bed. They evidently felt it was essential to share Elaine's story with the world before her time ran out, and Jack Chick was just the man to help them do it.
Even by ex-witch standards, Elaine's story was incredibly bizarre. It involved a literal marriage to Satan, summer camps where children were forcibly initiated into Satanic witchcraft, and nearly every form of diabolical misdeed imaginable. She was even schooled in the art of bomb-making by her Satanic superiors.
On examination, however, her testimony appears to be culled from all of the other stories we've seen so far in this series. The werewolves and the marriage to Satan come from Bill Schnoebelen. The witch camps are quite similar to the witch schools described by John Todd, and the notion that all rock musicians must sign themselves over to Satan comes straight from him. Elaine's crowning as a witch queen perfectly mirrors Doreen Irvine's account. And according to Elaine, she belonged to The Brotherhood, the same cult Mike Warnke supposedly joined in the '60s. She also claims The Brotherhood is described in Hal Lindsey's 1972 book Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth. These are telling statements, because Hal Lindsey was of the belief that Warnke knew nothing about the real Satanic/Illuminati network, and Satan Is Alive and Well... described general trends in various forms of occultism, rather than a single cult.
Chick sold his audio interviews with Elaine and Brown as two cassette tapes, Closet Witches 1 and Closet Witches 2.
Typically, Elaine's account contains virtually no time markers or specific names (not even her own), so verifying any of the events she describes would be a tough task. What we do know is that Elaine was born around 1947 to the Knost family of New Castle, Indiana. She spent most of her life in that area. (2)
Elaine said she was unwittingly bonded to Satan by her own mother when she was a small child, who offered up a tiny amount of Elaine's blood in exchange for surgery to correct her cleft palate. A nurse told Mrs. Knost the blood would be used for experimental purposes, but it was actually used in a Satanic ceremony in which Elaine's soul was "sold" to Satan without her knowledge. As we'll see, this was just one part of a vast conspiracy involving Indiana hospitals.
Elaine did not have the same sort of dismal, abusive childhood described by most of the other ex-witches in this series; her life was normal and relatively carefree until her teen years. Sometime in the early or mid '60s, she made the fateful decision to visit a "witch camp" with her friend Sandy. Though Elaine didn't name this place, her description of it as a community of fortunetellers and psychics indicates it was probably Camp Chesterfield, Indiana. It was here, Elaine alleged, that she was initiated into the Satanic witch cult known as The Brotherhood (once again, a "former Satanist" fails to distinguish between Satanism and witchcraft). She refused to join at first, so the palm readers locked her in a closet and brainwashed her with an audio loop that told her Jesus was dead and Satan was king. (2)
Like Warnke, Doreen Irvine, and Bill Schnoebelen, Elaine signed herself over to Satan in blood without being fully aware of what she was getting herself into. This is quite different from real covens, in which initiates are required to have at least some rudimentary knowledge of the tradition to which they are pledging themselves.
Elaine got with the program right away, though. She devoted herself to occult study and rose quickly through the ranks of The Brotherhood (not as rapidly as Mike Warnke, of course; he became a high priest in about six months). She became a high priestess and was assigned a powerful demon guide called Man-Chan. She was appointed to the International Council of Witches. (2)
At some unspecified time, she took part in a national witchcraft competition and beat out all her opponents to become the cult's "top witch". This part of her testimony is nearly identical to Doreen Irvine's story of winning a magical contest and being made "queen of the black witches of Europe" for one year.
In Irvine's account, she was given a crown of "pure gold" and ensconced on a throne, with the other witches prostrated before her.
In Elaine's account, a crown of gold was placed on her head and the other cult members "bowed down and gave homage" to her. (2)
The Brotherhood was like Irvine's UK cult in that it focused primarily on subverting Christianity. Elaine and cohorts infiltrated Bible-believing churches and worked to undermine the faith of members. She and Brown described to Jack Chick how the first church Elaine attended after becoming a Christian was infiltrated and systematically destroyed by a high priest masquerading as a born-again believer. He lured the church's members to weekly Bible studies with appeals to patriotism and godliness, then gradually undermined their religious faith until they were spiritually bankrupt. (3)
Even the brutal human sacrifices performed on each "Black Sabbath" centred around mockery of Christianity, taking the form of bloody crucifixions. Keep in mind that Mike Warnke witnessed no such rites as a high priest of The Brotherhood. (1)
In no other ways does Elaine's alleged cult resemble Irvine's. While Irvine remained in a life of heroin addiction and poverty, selling her body on the streets of London, Elaine was given royal treatment not unlike that supposedly experienced by Mike Warnke when he was a high priest of the Brotherhood in California. It's interesting that the two never met, if they both held high positions in the same nation-wide cult and traveled widely to network with other members. They were even the same age (both graduated high school in 1965). Clearly, the left hand had no idea what the left hand was doing.
Elaine did have one thing in common with Irvine, though: Awesome superhero powers. Thanks to the protection of a demon horde, she could levitate, stop bullets in midair, turn animals into other animals, and astrally project herself anywhere in the world. She could beat up high school bullies nearly three times her size. She could even injure and kill people while out of her body, though she apparently attempted astral murder on only one occasion. She and the other out-of-body witches were prevented from harming their intended victim by a perimeter guard of angels.
Who had the witches been intending to kill? Jack Chick, of course. Satan viewed his comic books and mass-produced tracts as serious threats to his empire.
So, yeah. Um, the Devil apparently reads Christian comic books. (3)
Warnke was booted from The Brotherhood for being a paranoid speed freak in '66, while Elaine's Satanic star continued to rise. She was such a special specimen that her higher-ups (the Illuminati?) selected her for the ultimate honor: Getting hitched to Satan.
According to Elaine, there are five to ten Regional Brides of Satan within the U.S. at any given time. It's a very great honor for a high priestess.
We don't know when this marriage occurred. As researchers would later learn, Elaine was married to a human in 1966, when she was 19 years old, and divorced him the following year. The marriage to Satan presumably occurred after this. (1)
The Devil manifested as a normal-looking dude for the wedding, and rented a Presbyterian church in which to hold the ceremony. If this makes any sense, let me know.
For irony's sake, apparently, the groom wore a white tux and Elaine wore a white dress.
After the honeymoon, Elaine's status in the league of Satan naturally rose. She became her husband's official delegate to the Vatican (where she met personally with the Pope), oversaw international arms deals, traveled to the Far and Near East, and met with associates in Mecca and Israel. This indicates that the Brotherhood was organized on an international level, at the very highest levels of government, which is somewhat at odds with Warnke's description of a nationally-organized cult controlled mostly by witches.
Elaine also met with many rock musicians to oversee the signing of their pacts with Satan, just as John Todd described. (2)
Weirdly, though, Elaine didn't mention the Illuminati, which Warnke identified as the power behind The Brotherhood.
Elaine's dramatic conversion story, like her dramatic Satanic initiation story, is nearly identical to Doreen Irvine's. She entered a Christian church in order to infiltrate it, but the spiritual power of the congregation was so strong that Elaine's demons tried to get her out the door as quickly as possible. They were too late. Elaine had already read a Chick tract (The Contract!), and now fully understood that her pact with Satan was null and void. She was saved. (3)
Elaine's relationship with Satan was more or less over by 1980. He was so furious over her betrayal that he cursed her with a serious illness. She was admitted to Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie and made the acquaintance of Dr. Rebecca Brown, a GP who was busily combating the powers of darkness in and around Muncie.
Brown immediately sensed that Elaine was surrounded by a demonic presence, and demanded to know if she had been involved in witchcraft.
Eventually, after Dr. Brown had earned her trust, Elaine told her all about her cult experiences and expressed a desire to break away from the Satanists. She said her (human) husband, also a member of the cult, had recently abandoned her and their mentally disabled daughter, Claudia. This was not true; she had divorced in 1967.
While she was in hospital, the Satanists tried to kill Elaine by slipping Pavulon into her IV. Fortunately, God informed Brown of this plot. She and a doctor were able to save Elaine just in time.
Brown discovered "firebombs" resembling dynamite inside her stereo, her car, and even her phone. Elaine showed her how to dismantle them. God also warned Brown that her food and coffee were being poisoned by other hospital staffers, and on some occasions miraculously removed the poison. A nurse later confessed she was in on the poisoning plot, and expressed amazement that Brown had survived after eating a poisoned lunch. (4)
After Elaine's release, she and Brown both received a letter from the cult, indicating that their every move was being observed. If they didn't cease their anti-cult activities, the writers warned, they would be ritually sacrificed at an Eastertime Black Mass. Neither woman reported her threatening letter to the police, because they knew the chief of police (along with the mayor of Muncie and other public officials) worshiped Satan.
Dr. Brown was a Christian, so she prayed for guidance on how to deal with Elaine's situation. God immediately told her to take Elaine and 12-year-old Claudia into her home, warning her that Elaine would kill herself rather than surrender to the cult. Though Elaine had embraced Christianity, her faith was still too fragile to give her the strength she needed to stand up against a powerful coalition of Satanists who wouldn't tolerate defectors. As we've seen, John Todd and Mike Warnke both had to dodge a few bullets after betraying the Satanists, while Irvine and other ex-witches faced no repercussions at all. These "well-organized" Satanists are anything but consistent.
Brown then became a one-woman conversion machine, operating a sort of underground railroad for former Satanists. She claimed to have saved about 1000 witches from murderous covens in the first half of the '80s. Her greatest success story, however, remained Elaine and Claudia.
They persisted in their mission even though the Brotherhood tried everything in its power to frighten the two women into silence, including breaking into Brown's home and slaughtering all their pets.
They bravely revealed that Catholics and Freemasons are devil-worshipers, that Dungeons & Dragons is Satan's favourite game, and that Eastern religious practices like yoga are of the Devil. Never mind that every other ex-Satanist in this series said the exact same things around the exact same time.
Elaine may have been unique in her relationship to Satan, but everything else she said was boilerplate anti-occult stuff. Chick had already churned out a multitude of tracts and comic books dealing with these subjects. Still, he was so awed by Brown and Elaine's story that his Chick Publications printed two books by Brown, He Came to Set the Captives Free (1986) and Prepare for War (1987). The first book detailed Elaine's years as a Satanic witch and her rebirth in Christ, while the second served as a manual on how to combat the Satanic menace with spiritual warfare. He Came to Set the Captives Free contains some truly bizarre scenes, like Brown's encounter with a talking werewolf. Prepare for War is full of weird anecdotes about all the ways people can become afflicted by demons, as well as the reasons why Catholicism is actually a form of witchcraft.
Brown's later books deal extensively with purging or blessing demonically-infested "unclean objects" (geisha paintings, role-playing games, tattoos, museum exhibits, certain hairdos, secondhand items, the citizenship papers of ancestors, rosaries, etc.). This preoccupation with transmitted evil is sometimes referred to as "curse theology". It offers a profoundly paranoid and negative view of the world, in which most cultural and religious artifacts that aren't Christian are vessels of the demonic.
Chick also incorporated Elaine's information into several of his comic book tracts: The Poor Little Witch, Why No Revival?, Satan's Master.
In Poor Little Witch (1987), an outcast named Mandy is lured into witchcraft by one of her schoolteachers. She learns to cast spells by the power of "Bruth", and witnesses the ritual murder of a baby "especially conceived" for sacrifice. She is told the chief of police is a Satanist. Meanwhile, the local church the schoolteacher attends turns out to be a Satanic coven in disguise. Its members are able to manipulate and exploit their new pastor, Reverend Smiley, because he isn't a fundamentalist. Mandy runs to this church for help, but of course Smiley is in the pocket of the witch-cult and turns her away. So she seeks help from a former witch, Mrs. Grayson (who somewhat resembles Rebecca Brown). Grayson attends a real church, of the Bible-based storefront variety. Its members are able to save Mandy's soul in just three panels.
Why No Revival? (1986) contains this note: "Most churches have been successfully infiltrated by witches." This reflects claims made by both Elaine and Bill Schnoebelen.
In 1987, Brown and Elaine appeared on one of Geraldo Rivera's shows about Satanism. Perhaps significantly, they were not included in his '89 special Devil Worship: Exposing Satan's Underground. By that time, the most popular ex-Satanist testimony was that of "Lauren Stratford". She'll be the subject of the next post in this series.
Brown's books appealed strongly to daytime TV viewers and Chick's target audience (naive, slightly paranoid Christians of the fundamentalist strain). Outside those circles, however, they raised deep skepticism in readers.
Part II: Dr. Brown's Story and the Exposure of "Elaine" and Brown
1. "Drugs, Demons, and Delusions: The 'Amazing' Saga of Dr. Rebecca Brown" by by G. Richard Fisher, Paul R. Blizard and M. Kurt Goedelman. Originally published in The Quarterly Journal of Personal Freedom Outreach. Vol. 9, No. 4, October-December 1989. (reposted @ Cult Help and Information)
2. He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown, M.D. (Chick Publications. Chino, Calif., 1986)
3. Closet Witches summary @ Monsterwax.com (reposted @ James Japan's homepage). Retrieved June 25/11.
4. Prepare for War by Rebecca Brown, M.D. (Chick Publications, Chino, Calif., 1987)
Friday, June 10, 2011
So far, most of the ex-witches and former Satanists in this series have either faded into obscurity or died. This is not the case with Bill Schnoebelen. He was one of the very first "Ex-Men" to dominate the Christian conspiracy lecture circuit, beginning in 1984, and he is still with us. He might be with us for a long time to come, too, because he has an uncanny knack for tapping into the conspiranoid zeitgeist, claiming to possess inside info on every new menace that looms up to imperil Western civilization (I call this Forest Gump Syndrome).
Schnoebelen claims to have been, at various times between 1968 and the present:
- a Wiccan
- a "high Druidic" priest
- an Ordo Templi Orientis initiate (2nd degree)
- a channeler
- a Satanist
- a member of the Illuminati
- a Mormon
- a Catholic priest
- a 90th Degree Freemason
- a 9th Degree Rosicrucian
- a Knight Templar
- a Gnostic bishop
- a spiritualist priest
- a vampire
- a naturopathic physician
- a member of Elizabeth Clare Prophet's Church Universal and Triumphant
- a fundamentalist Christian/ordained minister
There is evidence that Bill Schnoebelen actually did do many of the things he talks about. But like John Todd, he smeared Mormons, Freemasons, and many other groups as closet Satanists, and made some claims that are profoundly absurd.
The Road to Everything
Schnoebelen was born into a devoutly Roman Catholic family in 1949, the only child of a tire shop co-owner and a housewife. He was raised in Jessup, Iowa. (3)
Bill says he was a faithful Catholic throughout his young adulthood, and even aspired to the priesthood, but was always prone to the dark and mysterious forces of the world. Trick-or-treating at the age of 8 or 9, he saw leathery, bat-like creatures filling the night sky. At 12, near his family's lake cottage in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, he saw a gigantic black figure rise up from the horizon to "bestride the heavens". It walked over him and vanished beyond a hillock. He believes this was a Wendigo. He also had more typical childhood fascinations like UFOs and haunted houses, but someday he would consider these further manifestations of evil in his life. (2)
After high school, Bill still intended to become a priest. First, though, he enrolled at a small Catholic school called Loras College, in Dubuque, Iowa. It was here, in that crazy year of 1968, that a few New Agey professors and the counter-fundamentalist influence of Vatican II persuaded Bill that man can become Christ. Christ, his liberal teachers taught him, was basically a magician or ascended master who had studied the occult. So, Bill began studying the occult to become more Christ-like. This was his first step into a revolving door of religious traditions that would keep him walking in circles for over 15 years. (1)
Step 1: Witch
After some occult study, Bill decided to become a witch. He wrote to Alex Sanders, the self-proclaimed "King of the Witches", who referred him to a Massachusetts-based coven. Bill ultimately reached the third degree of Alexandrian Wicca. Note, please, that his initiation didn't involve roosters or blood like the bizarre rites supposedly experienced by Doreen Irvine and Mike Warnke. Note also that Schnoebolen has not mentioned any Satanic scripture, like most of the "former witches" we've seen so far.
Bill graduated from Loras College in May 1971 with a major in music and a minor in education. (He claims he received his Masters in Theological Studies degree from the St. Francis School of Pastoral Ministry in 1980 and his Master of Arts degree in counseling from Liberty University in 1990.)
He says he took a leave of absence of absence from seminary in the early '70s. He taught music at a Catholic school for a couple of years, and met his future wife while volunteering as a counselor at a drug rehab clinic. Sharon Mullen, apparently one of the clinic's patients, was a married mother of two. Like Bill, she was deeply into witchcraft and the occult. Around 1973 she left her husband and kids to be with him. (3)
That summer, the couple traveled to Hattieville, Arkansas, to study under the "Grand Master Druid of all North America". Bill doesn't name this fellow, but he was Barney "Eli" Taylor. (3) Taylor ran something called the Mental Science Institute and taught herbal magic in the druidic witchcraft tradition. He made Sharon and Bill a high priestess and high priest, which basically means he issued them a certificate similar to the ones dispensed to John Todd and Tom Sanguinet by Gavin Frost in the '70s. It is incredibly unlikely that Bill and Sharon "learned all the mysteries of hermeticism and metal magic and natural medicine and more" in three months, as he claims. (1) Occult study is not a cram course.
They also saw hovering UFOs every single night, as they studied under the stars. Schnoebelen later contradicted this claim by saying he has seen UFOs about three times in his life. (2)
Bill and Sharon returned to the Midwest to "spread the gospel of witchcraft" (something witches generally don't do). They had a handfasting ceremony in Zion, Illinois, supposedly attended by 200 witches. (1)
They settled in Milwaukee to teach witchcraft and establish covens. Bill claims they drew in hundreds of eager followers, but one of those followers, Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, begs to differ. He claims the Schnoebelens founded just two covens in Milwaukee, containing 30-40 members. By this time, Bill had legally changed his named to Christopher Pendragon Syn, and Sharon called herself Alexandra. They both appeared to possess a great deal of occult knowledge, and at first the covens operated smoothly. According to Frater Barrabbas, things turned sour when Bill and Sharon formed complex romantic entanglements with their followers and began playing them against each other. He attributes the mental collapse of one of Bill's lovers to these cruel mind games. (3)
Step 2: Warlock, Mason, and Illuminati Member
As a result of his occult studies, Bill was a spiritualist priest and a trance channeler. He often consulted numerous spirit guides, the highest of which Frater Barabbas identifies as Ambrosius and Parlemanon. (3) Bill read Anton LeVey's Satanic Bible at the suggestion of one of these spirit guides, and promptly joined the Church of Satan. He reached the second degree, "Warlock", before realizing that LeVey's brand of Satanism was harmless "kid stuff". He aspired to what he calls "hardcore Satanism", and to enter that realm he had to become a Freemason. (1) (The supposed connection between Satanism and Freemasonry was also trumpeted by John Todd in the mid-'80s.)
Frater Barrabbas says it was his father who sponsored Bill into Freemasonry. After Bill reached the third degree, his interest waned and he stopped participating on a regular basis.
Bill then branched out into esoteric Freemasonry. He claims he reached the thirty-second degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, as well, and in his lectures displayed the certificate issued to him. He says he also became a Rosicrucian (9th Degree) and a Knight Templar. (1)
Schnoebelen offers up a wealth of misinformation about Freemasonry and the Knights Templar. For instance, in his Prophecy Club lecture (c. 1996), he declared that Freemasonry is "basically Babylonian witchcraft" and is anti-Christian. He said Jacques de Molay was a pedophile (de Molay confessed under torture to homosexual acts; it's not known if he was really gay or not, much less a pedophile). He also talked about Jesuit mind control, claiming that Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises are "profoundly occult" in nature, and formed the basis of Illuminati mind control techniques. This is absurd. Loyola recommended meditation and daily prayer to achieve deeper devotion to God and indifference to the material world. If that's occultism, then virtually all priestly and monastic disciplines are occult.
Here's where Bill's story goes seriously off the rails. So far, none of his claims are particularly outlandish. But after he had covered "all the branches of Masonry there are to do", he signed his soul over to Satan in a Black Book (in blood, of course). The contract entitled him to seven years of anything he wanted, at the end of which he would be killed and taken to Hell. This wasn't such a bad thing, he explains, because hardcore Satanists view Hell as a sort of eternal party. (1)
This nonsense comes straight out of medieval folklore and has no basis in actuality, of course. You cannot sign a pact with Satan any more than you can sign a pact with God, or an angel, or the evil monkey who lives in your closet. Ask yourself, why did Schnoebolen admittedly work at a series of menial jobs throughout these years, if Satan had granted him anything he desired?
The silliness hits a new high with Bill's claim that he was recruited into the Illuminati when fellow Freemasons noticed he had an occult background. This is contradicted by Frater Barrabbas, who says the Masons were unaware of Bill's occult interests. (3)
Bill implies that his entry into the Illuminati wasn't assured, that he slipped in via some arcane loophole. Spirit guides provided him with the appropriate "secret passwords".
He describes three steps that each Illuminati Mason must go through, in addition to learning the arts of tantric sex and opening the third eye with hallucinogens. The first step is illumination. Bill described this as being "deluged in the blinding white light of Lucifer. It felt like my brain was being parboiled in pure light." Step two is communion with the dead, something he had already mastered as a trance medium. Bill claims he had long chats with Jesus, Buddha, Zoraster, Hitler, Aleister Crowley, and others.
Step three is sex with a fallen angel, an "appalling and bizarre" process. Bill was formally married to his angel, a ceremony we'll see again in the case of Dr. Rebecca Brown and the "former Satanist" known as Elaine. Apparently this is not considered bigamy, as Bill was already married to Sharon when he became an Illuminati member.
To accept this nonsense, one must accept that Richard Nixon and other high-level politicians did these things, too, because Bill informs us that many of the world's elite were fellow Illuminists.
Step 3: Priest
Wait, it gets stupider. To "level up" to the hardcore Satanic high priesthood, Bill had to recruit seven people to sell their souls, and become a Catholic priest. He says medieval literature supports his contention that all Satanic high priests are also Catholic priests. (1) However, it isn't required that you become an orthodox Catholic priest; it's good enough just to be "ordained", as both Schnoebolen and Mike Warnke were, as a "bishop" of the Old Catholic Church. This wasn't difficult. Bill found a "bishop" who was willing to ordain him in exchange for being made a witch priest. Frater Barrabbas identifies this man as Edward M. Stehlik. (3)
Bill then became involved with the Patriarch of the Gnostic Catholic Church in Chicago, and was also made a bishop in that church. Oddly, he refers to this church as the Order of Memphis and Mizraim. They are not the same thing. The Gnostic Catholic Church is a branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), and is not officially affiliated with esoteric Freemasonry.
At any rate, Bill claims to have reached the ninetieth of ninety-seven degrees in the Order of Memphis and Mizraim (never mind that it only has ninety degrees). He was also initiated into the OTO at some point. Now the story reaches its zenith of ridiculousness.
Step 4: Vampire
His mastery of Freemasonry in all its forms allowed Bill to "cross the abyss", an occult term referring to a state of enlightenment. Under the system of hardcore Satanism he had chosen, he now had to decide between two paths: Lycanthropy or vampirism. He selected vampirism, because the werewolves he knew had undergone some unpleasant experiences.
As it turned out, vampirism wasn't so jolly, either. In the church of a Chicago vampire cult, Bill was made to drink the blood of what he believes to be a fallen angel, and underwent a physical transformation: His blood type changed, he could consume only blood and Catholic hosts, his skin blistered in the sun, and he couldn't be near garlic. He carefully notes that he could not turn into a bat. Whew. For a minute there, I thought his imagination was getting the better of him. I mean, fallen angels and garlic are one thing, but bats? Let's not be silly.
A small harem of witches provided Bill with blood, but as time went on he required more and more of it. As a Milkwaukee Sentinal deliveryman, he would see a hooker and "it would be all that I could do not to leap on that woman and rip her throat out and just drink every drop of blood out of her body." Only his love for his wife prevented him from doing it. (1)
This is quite easily one of the most bizarre and least plausible claims ever made by an ex-witch in North America. It is also profoundly disturbing. I think it goes without saying that Bill Schnoebolen was not physically transformed into a vampire, so why on earth would he tell us about his homicidal fantasies? "Former Satanists" like to exaggerate their evil nature to make their Christian conversion stories as dramatic as possible (Mike Warnke essentially admitted as such on The Jim Bakker Show), but wanting to rip out the throats of prostitutes is beyond the pale. Even inventing such fantasies is indicative of mental imbalance, in my opinion.
Schnoebelen also claims to have been a cocaine addict during this period, though he was a peer counselor for addicts before and after his years as a Satanist. How and when he kicked the habit is unknown.
Step 5: Christian
As we have seen, all the testimonies of former witches and ex-Satanists feature dramatic conversion stories. This is the ultimate purpose of the testimonies; to show that anyone, even the most debauched devil-worshiper, can be saved by Christ.
There are problems with Schnoebelen's conversion story. He claims that in 1984, one of his "tithe checks" to the Church of Satan bounced and was returned to him with a note scrawled on it by a Christian bank teller: "I'll be praying for you in the name of Jesus."
This makes no sense in the context of his hardcore Satanism/Illuminati stories. Bill clearly stated that the Church of Satan was "entry level" Satanism, and that he had surpassed it by becoming a real, hardcore Satanist. So why was he still a member of the CoS nearly a decade later? To make a bad analogy, that would be like paying your Brownie dues long after you've become a Girl Scout.
The prayers of the unknown Christian bank teller triggered a chain of events that ultimately led to Bill's salvation. First, he lost all his magical and vampiric powers. This was a major setback, as he was "probably one of the most powerful warlocks on the west coast of Lake Michigan." This was when he decided he needed to become a Mormon. (1)
Yeah, you read that correctly. He had to become a Mormon. This is because the LDS church was founded "by witches, for witches", as a sort of deep cover. Schnoebelen later wrote a book about it: Mormonism's Temple of Doom. (1)
There is a minute grain of truth in this assertion. Certain practices of Joseph Smith, including the use of scrying stones, are indicative of folk magic. But to call Smith a full-fledged witch would be absurd in the extreme; he was a Christian, not an adherent of any earth religion or occult belief system. The modern-day beliefs and practices of Mormons in no way resemble witchcraft.
The allegation that Mormons secretly practice witchcraft or worship Satan is not unique to Schnoebolen's testimony, unfortunately. For instance, prominent conspiracy theorist A. True Ott, a former member of the LDS Church, claims that Mormons ritually sacrifice humans in their Salt Lake City temple. It is a smear intended to utterly discredit Mormonism, a sect that has been despised and feared by mainstream Protestants since its inception.
Schnoebelen also claims he belonged to Elizabeth Clare Prophet's Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT), a cult-like New Age sect. CUT is currently based in Montana, but in the '70s it operated out of California. So it's not impossible Schnoebelen had some dealings with Prophet's followers. (2)
Like all the other people in this series, Bill portrays witchcraft and Satanism (falsely) as the exact same thing. He also claims that one of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, Elder James E. Faust, personally told him that Lucifer is the god of Mormonism.
In a Prophecy Club lecture given around 1996, Schnoeblen openly encouraged Christians to fear, reject, and disdain Mormons and Freemasons. At the same time, he displayed a disdain for homosexuals, and a total lack of knowledge about the nature of sexual orientation. "If you've got one Mason in your congregation...you're gonna end up with a kind of bad apple spoiling the whole barrel routine...You never have one of these dudes in a church, 'cause they start recruiting. Masons are like homosexuals, they can't reproduce themselves naturally - yeah, amen! - they can only recruit." (1)
Though Mormonism was just another one of Bill's spiritual dead ends, it led him to true salvation by spurring him to read the Bible for the very first time (rather strange for a former seminarian!). He realized that St. Paul could never have been a Mormon - he doesn't explain why he reached this conclusion - and finally gave his life to Christ on June 22, 1984. (1)
As a Christian, Bill penned many books and tracts about the alleged evils of witchcraft, the occult, UFOs, Satanism, Mormonism, and Dungeons & Dragons. He claimed the creators of D&D consulted his Satanic coven in the late '70s because they wanted to make their game "authentic" (Dungeons and Dragons was created in the early '70s, and it's about as authentically Satanic as Taco Bell food is authentically Tex-Mex). His article "Straight Talk on Dungeons and Dragons" is still available on Jack Chick's website, along with the nonsense of John Todd. Chick is a strong supporter of Schnoebelen, and offers his book Lucifer Dethroned for sale.
Though he knows perfectly well that witches are not Satanists and Mormons are not witches, Schnoebelen continues to spread this misinformation via lectures, DVDs, and his With One Accord ministry.
In 2006, Stephanie Relfe's 9-hour interview of Schnoebelen was packaged as a DVD documentary, Interview with an Ex-Vampire. I've mentioned Mrs. Relfe on this blog before; she and her husband, Michael, used kinesiology to unlock Michael's buried memories of being a U.S. government slave on Mars. Both Relfes, back on Earth, experienced extensive contact with aliens (Michael was also repeatedly abducted by military personnel). Their first child was teleported out of Stephanie's womb by Reptilians.
The Relfes saw Schnoebelen on TV in 1998 and were "greatly impressed" by his knowledge of Freemasonry and other "secret societies". They believed he was doing more than anyone on earth to expose the evil machinations of these organizations, so they subscribed to his ministry newsletter. In 2003, when Schnoebelen revealed that his wife was seriously ill, the Relfes recommended kinesiology. Bill and Sharon traveled to Florida to meet with Stephanie that April. In the course of the kinesiology work, Schnoebelen casually mentioned that he had once been a vampire, something he had kept to himself until the publication of Lucifer Dethroned in 1993. Stephanie was intrigued. She promptly recorded a four-hour interview with Bill. In 2005 she recorded a second interview, and combined the two to create Interview with an Ex-Vampire. The film had a slick-looking booth at Cannes in 2006. It received good reviews from Sherry Shriner, WingTV, Rumor Mill News, and several other conspiracy-themed websites.
In Interview with an Ex-Vampire, it's obvious that Mrs. Relfe accepts Schnoebelen's stories at face value, even the most absurd and fantastical ones. She listens patiently as Bill describes how a fellow Satanist summoned a mighty demon in his garage. Bill was a scribe at this ceremony, so he witnessed everything. The man successfully summoned a slithery, tentacled monster that filled the room, but made the mistake of stepping outside his magic circle to answer the phone. As it turned out, the ringing was a demonic illusion and the man was whisked away to another dimension by the demon. Because the story wouldn't be believed, Bill said, he and the man's wife never bothered to alert the authorities to his disappearance. He doesn't provide names, a date, or a location.
Step 6: Naturopathic physician
"Naturopathy" is an extremely loose term that encompasses a broad range of alternative medicine, holistic health practices, and quackery. There are a few institutions that offer real degrees in naturopathy, but as Schnoebelen has not revealed where or when he received his, we have no idea if it's valid or not.
As the alternative health biz is hot these days, Schnoebelen gave another Prophecy Club lecture on the "medical conspiracy", explaining how the evil pharmaceutical companies are suppressing miraculous natural cures and whatnot. (4)
In the '90s, Schnoebelen said he was working as a counselor specializing in addictions treatment. This is a bit alarming, as he doesn't have any formal education or training in this field. Even more alarming is the fact that he believes there are about two million victims of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) in the U.S., and treats some of those victims. In the '80s and '90s, even many fully-qualified professionals who treated SRA patients used highly questionable methods of treatment such as recovered memory therapy. I don't even want to imagine the psychological damage an amateur therapist like Schnoebelen could do. But then, I don't have to imagine it.
Schnoebelen says Dissociative Identity Disorder is caused by "scientifically inserted demons". This medieval notion - that mental illness can be attributed to demonic possession - has no place in modern therapy. Even if deliverance has some limited efficacy in alleviating a patient's symptoms, it doesn't address the underlying cause(s) of the condition.
Schnoebelen is also of the misguided opinion that once a person becomes a Christian, he/she is fully healed of all psychological trauma resulting from childhood abuse and has no further need of therapy. Therefore, his goal as a counselor is probably just to convince emotionally vulnerable people that they must accept Christ as their personal saviour. Using "therapy" as a cover for proselytization is unethical in the extreme.
Schnoebelen's take on history is equally mangled. He believes Josef Mengele was brought to the U.S. under Project Paperclip (he wasn't; he fled to South America with a Vatican-issued passport). He says Mengele had experimented with mind control and cloning in Germany (he had nothing to do with either).
He says we've been successfully cloning animals since the 1940s. Dolly the sheep was just a cover.
As evidence that a UFO crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in the year of Aleister Crowley's death, Schnoebelen produced an artist's rendering of a "long-range photo" showing two military policemen walking a tiny alien on a leash. Since the object that crashed in the desert was not extraterrestrial, this drawing-of-an-alleged-photo is obviously a crude hoax. No sane, rational person would accept it as evidence of anything.
Schnoebelen also gives credence to Eisenhower's supposed meeting with aliens, Betty Hill's "map" of Zeta Reticuli, and Reptilian sightings in malls beneath Salt Lake City. He speculates that aliens are really fallen angels, paving the way for the Antichrist. He wonders if SRA victims and alien abductees have implants that are really "tiny remote-controlled neutron bombs". (1)
His Biblical exegesis isn't much better. Schnoebelen believes that in I Corinthians 11:2-16, Paul seems to be warning women to be under the headship of men so they won't be screwed by fallen angels. He suspects Adam and Eve may not have had blood until they ate the forbidden fruit, and that fallen angels must drink human blood to become sexually functional. (1)
When it comes to witchcraft, however, Schnoebelen shows himself more knowledgeable than his peers. He acknowledges that witches are just ordinary people, capable of love. He admits that Wicca is probably not ancient; Gerald Gardner's New Forest coven was, in all likelihood, fictional. He knows that the Druids had no written language, and that our knowledge of their practices and beliefs is limited. This is quite a contrast to John Todd, Irene Park, and Tom Sanguinet, who attributed all sorts of evil deeds to the Druids. (2)
Some (Very Obvious) Problems with Schnoebolen's Testimony
Why was he studying for a Masters degree in theology at a pastoral school and practicing Satanism at the same time, four years before he was saved?
Mormons are not witches. Mormons do not worship Lucifer. Witches do not worship Lucifer. If Mormons are secretly worshiping the Devil, why would Elder Faust confide this to two relatively new converts?
Freemasons are not Satanists, and Satanic high priests are not required to become Freemasons. Though rumours and hoaxes have attributed all manner of evil doings to Freemasonry, it is generally a benign fraternal organization.
Satanists are not required to become Catholic priests. Catholics are not permitted to be Freemasons. It is far more likely that Schnoebelen, like Mike Warnke, was drawn to the Old Catholic Church for reasons of his own, such as receiving the grand title of "bishop" without having to earn it.
Schnoebelen likened the Illuminati to Communist cells, compartmentalized in such a way that each member knows only one or two others. How, then, can the members engage in tantric sex with each other? How do they oversee and instruct one another? Who performed the ceremony in which he married his fallen angel? How can you even be sure the Illuminati truly exists, if you only know two of its supposed members?
Schnoebelen identifies Aleister Crowley as the key figure in his occult life, but gets many of the details about Crowley's life and work seriously wrong. He claims Crowley was "probably the most highly honored Mason in the world". In the recent Crowley autobiography Perdurabo, however, author Richard Kaczynski states that Crowley was not recognized as a Mason at all. Nor was Crowley a raper of children who "boasted of slaughtering 150 boys in a single year." Crowley did write of child sacrifice in his book Magick in Theory and Practice, but made it clear that not everything in the book should be taken literally. There is no evidence that he ever physically harmed a child. On the contrary, most children enjoyed his company.
Schnoebelen also blames Crowley for Hitler, the Tunguska explosion, and "Transyuggothian magick". Like John Todd, he suggests that H.P. Lovecraft had access to secret knowledge about demonic/alien entities. He says the Simon Necronomicon contains about half of the "real" Necronomicon, which is utter b.s. He points out that in both "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "The Dunwich Horror", human women breed with nonhuman creatures. "I believe these stories are absolutely true..." (1)
Schnoebelen claims the Royal Secret of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is the sodomy of young boys, which occultists believe allows them to access a realm of "trans-Plutonian space" and gives them an illusion of immortality. He says even "good" Masons can be drawn into pedophilia and homosexuality. (1)
Again, he's betraying a total ignorance of sexual orientation and attributing atrocious crimes to an organization that is, for the most part, benevolent. Predatory pedophiles are not over-represented in Freemasonry, and no occult tradition requires one to rape children.
Schnoebelen makes similar allegations against Michael Aquino, founder of the Temple of Set. He says Aquino was charged of child abuse three times, but the charges didn't stick "probably because of government involvement." (1)
First off, it was the government (the military) who investigated Aquino in the first place. Secondly, he was never charged with any crime. The investigations dead-ended, not because of government intervention but because the allegations were made by hysterical parents who feared that Colonel Aquino, an out-of-the-closet Satanist, was the child-raping, virgin-slaying devil of modern legend. It is very interesting that Aquino was never accused of a single crime until he outed himself as a Satanist.
In addition to his ridiculous stories about Catholic mind control and the Illuminati, Schnoebelen pulled out some of the same discredited conspiracy myths used by John Todd, such as the factoid that Freemason Albert Pike was a Satanist (a feature of the Taxil hoax). Also in common with Todd, he criticized Star Wars, soap operas, and romance novels. He told his Prophecy Club audience that because the U.S. government treats its citizens like "idiot children", they turn to drugs and booze and fantasy (Star Trek, Star Wars, soaps, etc.). "As a result of this, most people end up on the dole, or in mental hospitals." (1)
Excuse me? Most Americans are welfare recipients, and Star Trek is responsible for this? Since when?
If Schnoebelen legally wed a fallen angel, then I suggest he produce a marriage or divorce certificate to verify his story. Or at least pull out some wedding photos.
The stupidest and least tenable of all his claims, of course, is the assertion that he was a "real" vampire. Though Bill would have us believe that lycanthropy and vampirism are real supernatural phenomena with physiological manifestations, there is zero evidence to support that. No one needs to subsist on human blood. Blood type cannot change under any circumstances. If you are born AB positive, you will die AB positive. Faux vampirism and delusional lycanthropy certainly exist, but real vampires and werewolves do not. Duh.
1. Schnoebelen's Prophecy Club talk "Exposing the Illuminati from Within" (c. 1996)
2. "Interview with an Ex-Vampire" (Schnoebelen's 2006 interview with Stephanie Relfe)
3. Frater Barrabbas Tiresius' 4-part blog series on Schnoebelen @ Talking About Ritual Magick
4. Schnoebelen's Prophecy Club talk "The Medical Conspiracy" (date unknown)