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Re: Credibility

Posted by JJF on June 23, 2005 at 13:33:33

In Reply to: Credibility posted by random comment on June 23, 2005 at 11:09:44:

In the past, TFI could get away with labelling former members who speak out as "liars" or "mentally unbalanced" or "sexual profligates" because there were only a handful of witnesses willing & able to give testimony. Balancing TFI claims about a former member's lack of credibility against how people in the system verify the truth of a former member's testimony has been difficult until very recently--largely because there were so few witnesses speaking out publically. Where once there were fewer than a dozen survivors speaking out, now there are hundreds. They can't all be crazy, lying sluts.

(Sorry if that's offensive, but this is essentially how TFI has labelled survivors who gave testimony, and TFI has used this tactic fairly successfully to intimidate more survivors from giving testimony.)

Another part of the credibility problem has been the extreme, bizaar nature of the abuse that took place. Pedophilia happens in all sorts of organizations and institutions, but only TFI has actually preached it as a doctrine and promoted it as something for the membership to actively pursue. Even with the document evidence (Berg's writings), TFI has been able to argue (somewhat successfully) that he's talking in "metaphoric hyperbole" and that he's not talking about real behavior. There IS a difference between talk and practice, and there aren't that many unpurged MLs that explicitly say something like, "Father David had oral sex with nine-year-old Davida, and here's the prophesy he got about it."

However, for those who have eyes that see and ears that hear, there are MLs like 1281, "The Test of Faith--And Time with Kids!" The purged presence of this document points out how the defense mechanism of denial works to control the painful burdon of shame. People who follow Berg & Zerby do not want to admit that what ML1281 describes is Davida's violation because it is such a shameful reality to face. Or, if they are shameless and can admit it, they don't want to acknowledge that the violation had any lasting, negative consequences for the child. Current SG members such as Techi who know about or experienced such violations are urged by their own denial mechanism to say, "No harm done. See? I'm happy & healthy."

When forced to admit there could be lasting, negative consequences for the child, TFI members will argue that it's because the child didn't grow up into a an adult who lives according to God's will. "Rick went psycho because he fell under the influence of detractors. If he'd stayed in TF, he'd be as healthy and happy as Techi." There is an element of truth to this, btw. SGs who leave TFI and live in the world for any length of time will eventually face a painful realization of the horrible, shameful things that were done to the child. So will FGs, for that matter.

Techi may have made the right decision to stay in the TFI fantasyland where evil = good, because she may not have the psychological strength to make the adjustment to life in a world where crime = consequences. Rick tried and failed. I imagine it was a terrible, crushing awareness that haunted him: "My mother is an unrepentant child abuser who destroyed thousands of young lives." What does it say about me to admit that I am the offspring of morally depraved monsters? As a former member with no biological connection to Zerby & Berg, what does it say about me to admit I followed them blindly?

Shame is so painful, and denial blocks awareness of that pain.