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LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND RELIGIOUS
OUR EXPERIENCES WITH KENNETH COPELAND by Tom Killingsworth @ exwordoffaith.blogspot.com
I would have left the Word of Faith on the basis of that denomination’s Gnosticism and the abuses of the Prosperity Gospel. But I would have parted peacefully. The abuses of human beings that I saw at the hands of leaders in the Word of Faith, particularly Kenneth Copeland, his daughter Terri Pearsons, and other leaders at Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) and Eagle Mountain International Church (EMIC) are the reasons that I am blogging all this. Copeland needs to be exposed as a tyrant and a fraud!
Let me tell you what happened and you can judge for yourself.
My wife and I had been followers of Kenneth Copeland since 1990. We believed everything he said. While not members of Eagle Mountain International Church (the church affiliated with KCM and pastored by Copeland’s son in law), we did go there. We always wanted to work for KCM, and in August of 2003, we both got our chance. We were so excited! This was the opportunity of a lifetiime — to be able to help Brother Copeland put legs to his vision and help expand the Kingdom of God!
Yeah. We were in for a rude awakening! It was one thing to see KCM and EMIC from the outside. It was quite another to be insiders.
What we saw was nothing short of spiritual abuse and Shepherding. Remember, in a previous article, I mentioned two separate sources that prove that Kenneth Copeland married the Word of Faith with Shepherding. Keep that in mind as you read our experiences.
While I was at KCM, a nationally famous minister came in to encourage us at one of our staff “chapels.” He said “Don’t ask questions. Just do what you’re told. If you ask questions, then you aren’t in faith.” If we were going to do our job, didn’t we need to know what we were doing, and didn’t that mean we had to ask questions? This was nothing less than Shepherding, a restatement of “Don’t touch the anointed!”
A friend of mine who attended EMIC, began to become concerned about the direction the church was headed. It seemed all he heard were sermons on prosperity. So, he wrote the pastor a letter outlining his concerns. The next week, the pastor stood up and held up my friend’s letter and said “I have received a letter from a member outlining some concerns with our church. These are legitimate concerns and questions and I want to answer them. So, next week, I will answer this letter, question by question.”
The following week, the senior pastor remained seated, in a very submissive manner. His wife, Terri Pearsons, the senior associate pastor and Copeland’s daughter, stood up and took the microphone. In front of a congregation of 3,500 people, she said “Some of you have questioned what is taught in this church. If you don’t like it, I suggest you go find another church that you can more easily manipulate, because it won’t happen here.” My friend said that his blood ran cold because he knew the pastor’s wife was talking about him. Then the pastor’s wife led the congregation in an oath of allegiance to the pastor. I was there that day. I refused to take the oath, and I never returned after that Sunday. Oddly enough, KCM did not have a job requirement commanding employees to be members of EMIC, so we left and went elsewhere. An oath of allegiance? Total obedience to the pastor is a concept of Shepherding. I no longer ask myself why this woman said what she said. If Shepherding is a part of the official doctrine of KCM/EMIC, then she was just doing what she thought she was supposed to do.
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That was not the only occasion, either. We later learned that the pastor’s wife also publicly humiliated and eviscerated the head of the greeter department, simply because the head greeter refused to require all her ladies to wear dresses, and allowed a few to wear pants suits. In other words, the pastor’s wife, a member of the Copeland family, enacted the Shepherding practice of telling someone how to dress.
I have a friend who worked at KCM at the same time I did. While she worked there, her mother “came out of the closet” and declared herself to be a lesbian. A coworker took my friend aside and said that her mother couldn’t be her family anymore because she was going to Hell. Her coworkers were her family now. This cut my friend to her core! I don’t know the motivations of the woman who said this to my friend, but the end result was spiritual abuse. This is a sign of Shepherding, a belief that they have the right to tell us who our friends and family ought to be.
During my tenure at that ministry, I experienced quite a bit of indirect Shepherding. I say indirect, because these were rules that were hinted at, not given to me directly in writing or as a verbal warning. The appearance of what was appropriate was more important to leadership than our spiritual walk with God. So I knew I had to wear a mask of correct behavior and not admit to liking things that were frowned upon by the Copeland family (in my case, comic books, science fiction stories, unbridled sex for pleasure with my wife, and the theological works of non-Charismatic ministers). If any of us employees did mention these “unspeakables” in public, it was not uncommon for us to be silenced and told that if management found out, we could be fired. It grew wearying after a while, and I felt dehumanized after working there for four months. I was told that it was a great honor to work at that ministry, yet I felt totally dishonored as a person.
Shortly before my wife left KCM, it imposed a gag order. In a rather stridently written memo, management said that employees were not to talk to anyone, including family members, because they never knew who they would be talking to. That person could be a news reporter. I should think that an employee would know if his or her spouse or child is a reporter! This memo did nothing to help build marriages and strong families. Instead, if taken literally, it would build suspicion, distrust and paranoia within the families of employees. I’m sorry, but to me, this is Shepherding; management by fear and coercion, putting loyalty to the church above loyalty to family.
Parties are meant to be fun, to be celebrations of accomplishment, a holiday season, or just for the heck of it. But it is difficult to celebrate when your invitation to the party pretty much says “you are required to attend, required to have fun, and if you don’t, you will be fired.” While not putting it in exactly those terms, we knew that when the ministry invited its employees to a party, that if we valued our jobs, we should go. This is not just a rhetorical reading of the memo, either. Another friend of mine who worked at that ministry, decided to not attend the Christmas party one year. They were serving barbeque beef, something he doesn’t care for, so he went off site for a sandwich. When he returned, he was hauled into his supervisor’s office, given a written reprimand, and told me that the only reason he wasn’t fired was that he was too good at his job. His supervisor told him that when the ministry invites you to a party, it is a high honor and privilege so he better go!
Invitations to special conventions and teaching engagements were treated the same way. Like it or not, we knew we had to go, or lose our jobs.
That kind of action did nothing to enhance our spirituality or walk with God. If anything, that kind of action tore it down.
Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?
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I was a licensed Word of Faith minister for several years, and during that time I had a friend who was a pastor at EMIC. At one time, we were very close. But when I became a minister, things changed. He began to take it upon himself to mentor me, without my permission. At the time, I had a ministry to Goths, and he would tell me to teach prosperity to the Goths, tell them to stop wearing black, tell them to stop reading poetry, and go get jobs in the corporate world. I was trying to reconcile Goths to Jesus; if I had done what he said, I would have alienated them further. When I didn’t do what he said, he called me rebellious. Uh … I was licensed by a totally different church, so he was not part of my ecclesiastical chain of command, so how could I be rebelling? When I found out that KCM/EMIC was merged with Shepherding, I saw his actions for what they were – part of the theological platform that made up his job.
I left KCM as part of a massive layoff in 2004. My wife was fired in late 2007 … for posting a photo of her Halloween costume online. Before you go and scream at us for celebrating Halloween, I have to point out that she and I are old theatre people and take any opportunity to put on costumes. To us, it’s a reason to “dress up.” If we could do it in April and July, we would. We weren’t engaging in any sorcery or fright fests. Yet, a Halloween costume photo, on my wife’s personal blog, was a reason for this ministry to fire her. They were actually looking for a reason to fire her; her opposition to the Prosperity Gospel was becoming well known. My wife did something that was against the written and spoken doctrines of the church. Shepherding allows no independent thought or feelings by congregation members.
As soon as my wife was fired, I began to be stalked on my Xanga blog by employees of KCM. As many as 50 anonymous “footprints” (ISP addresses) would appear on my blog daily. Through Xanga’s footprint tracking system, I could easily tell that they originiated inside KCM. This lasted from mid-October, 2007 until early 2008. I guess they grew weary of me after I made my blog private. Stalking of ex-members is a Shepherding technique. I was perceived as a threat and had to be monitored.
Six friends left me. Two were very close, and I considered them to be two of my best friends. These friends left me, not just because of a theological dispute, but because they chose loyalty to the doctrines of men and to EMIC over loyalty to a human being. This was shunning in action.
The day after my wife was fired, several of our friends who worked at KCM at the time were hauled into their superiors’ offices and grilled about their connection with my wife and me. They were told that KCM had checked out their background thoroughly … one can only ponder what THAT meant! Most were given a “clean bill of health.” Two of these friends had restrictions placed on them by the pastors of EMIC, preventing them from having any future contact with us. I did not hear what the consequences would be if they ever ran into us in Wal-Mart. Shepherdists dare to tread only where our mothers did … in believing that they have the right to tell people who their friends will be. Some people are gullible enough to believe they have to obey.
Since our departure from KCM and the Word of Faith, we have found out more about Kenneth Copeland and his true nature. The way he is behaving is so much like a Shepherding preacher, or a cult leader, that I can’t tell the difference.
First, Senator Grassley launched an investigation into six televangelists. I’ve read the questions Grassley sent them. The questions to Copeland are the most extensive and the most damning. To read them yourself, click here. Why did Copeland use a church owned airplane to fly to Colorado on a vacation? Why is there a for-profit cattle company operating on ministry land? What happened to the funds donated for investment in the Revival Capital of the World theme park, which shows no signs of being built? These are legitimate questions, and Grassley would not be investigating if there were not some evidence of wrong doing by Copeland. Did Copeland answer Grassley? No. He refused. What he sent as an answer to the Senator was a mere pie chart, their IRS statement, and the address to the IRS. In other words, KCM gives the appareance of having much to hide. If they had nothing to hide, then why not tell all to the Senator? Maybe that’s why KCM erected a wrought iron fence, complete with lockable gates, around the ministry property … to keep IRS and ATF agents out. They place does look more and more like the Branch Davidian compound.
Following an impromptu interview by a local reporter, Copeland attended what was supposed to be the dedication ceremony for KCM’s new Partner Services Building. Instead of reading the Bible or praying, Copeland spent half an hour blasting the reporter and calling him names. Gloria Copeland had to publicly remind him that he was there to pray for the building.
Two friends of mine, who are also ex-KCM employees, and now ex Word of Faith, agreed to be interviewed for a news broadcast in which they pretty much called Copeland a liar. The day after the local news broadcast (to read the transcript, click here; to see the actual broadcast, click here), which was also two days after Senator Grassley launched his investigation into KCM, Copeland convened a “chapel,” which is more of a business propaganda meeting than any spiritual event. During the “chapel,” Terri Pearsons called Grassley, the local news reporter, and my two friends, Nazis and possessed of the anti-christ. Her rant was published on the KCM website, and everyone that I know who saw it all said the same thing; “She’s demon possessed!” The hatred and terror at someone catching her father’s hand in the cookie jar was palpable.To see her rant for yourself, click here.
In late November, Copeland had presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on the Believer’s Voice of Victory broadcast, giving a politician a week’s worth of free publicity. This is from a man who demands that Senator Grassley respect the separation of church and state, but is unwilling to recognize that same separation where an Evangelical candidate is concerned. That was just blatant hypocrisy. To see them for yourself, click here. You won’t have to scroll down very far. The dates are November 26 – 30, 2007.
It gets better!
Copeland revealed his true colors at his Ministers Conference, held January 22 through 24, 2008, at EMIC. He didn’t appear as a Shepherdist, but he did use the U.S. Constitution as toilet paper.
First, he turned the conference into a fund raiser for Huckabee. It was supposed to be a conference for ministers and by ministers. Instead, he turned it into a political platform, raising $111,000 in cash for Huckabee, and a million dollars in pledges. Oh, sure, the KCM spin doctors are saying Copeland did everything right. They say that Copeland never endorsed Huckabee, and that he dismissed the conference (early), and said that if anyone wanted to come back, they could. So, it was a private meeting. They also say that Copeland rented a room at EMIC to Huckabee, and that the fundraising happened there. The KCM spin masters say that EMIC has a tradition of renting rooms to ministers at the conference. Well … my wife was responsible for the Ministers Conference from 2004 through 2007, and began to set up for 2008. She told me that at no time did Copeland, KCM or EMIC rent rooms to anyone, especially during the Ministers Conference. The conference is tightly controlled, and KCM does not want a lesser known party trying to sell books behind the scenes. So, the publicly stated habit of renting rooms is a bold faced lie! This is total political pandering, using a religious meeting to garner money for a political candidate, and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. If this fund raising had happened in a hotel room after the conference, there would be no problem. But it happened inside a church, during the dates set for a ministers’ conference. That is a total violation of the separation of church and state. To read one news article on this, click here.
As if that wasn’t enough, during the Ministers’ Conference, Copeland declared war on the U.S. Senate. First, he said that his reply to Senator Grassley was “a six page lesson in ‘no!’,” meaning Copeland didn’t reply to Grassley’s request for information. Copeland said that the ministry’s finances belonged to God and that Grassley had no business looking at them. Furthermore, Copeland said that he could tell Grassley the truth, but wouldn’t, because Grassley didn’t know the truth. Finally, Copeland dared Grassley to subpoena him, throw him in jail, or execute him. That is sheer arrogance, and total hypocrisy from a man who for decades has preached patriotism and obedience to Romans 13:1-7. The website, Wittenburgdoor.com, has posted clips from Copeland’s rant. To see them for yourself, click here.
Now, CBS Evening News thinks Copeland has gone too far and has accused him of fraud, finding two more ex-employees who spoke out about their former boss. To see CBS’ video, click here.
So … Kenneth Copeland. Preacher of the Gospel, or Shepherdist madman? You decide.
Some of you may not like what I said about Copeland. You know what? I don’t care! What I wrote is the truth. I suffered much abuse from the hands of this man, and I owe it to Jesus to expose the apostasy in KCM. I do not want revenge, but like any rape victim, I do want to see justice and see the rapist go to prison. So does God.
You have to decide what the truth is for yourself. If you can continue to follow Kenneth Copeland with a clear conscience, then please do so. But I cannot. My conscience demands that I stand up, say something, and oppose what I see as a Gnostic-Shepherding preacher who is leading many sheep into destruction.
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