Monday, March 7, 2011

To Trust In Man (Part 13)

Author's note: The following post is part of a series dealing with my experiences in the Jeffrey Lundgren cult and what I learned from those experiences. My hope is that my story will teach others the importance of listening to the voice of God within for their answers. Peace. cse

Breaking Away

Toward the end of the summer of 1987, Jeff Lundgren found his relationship with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at an end. They had been keeping a close eye on Jeff's activities ever since my mother had alerted church officials to his teachings a few years earlier. They now had enough information on Jeff to take action.

I believe Jeff could see the writing on the wall before they actually silenced him, which involved taking away his priesthood license so he had no more authority to teach or preach within the church. In a show of force, he began to have some of his followers officially withdraw their church membership in a formal act of defiance. I watched several of my friends begin this slow exodus. We were all so convinced of Jeff's teachings it was the least we could do to show our support for our leader when called upon. Jeff never asked me to do this directly, but I would have done so had he asked.

Never happy with what he considered the church's liberal teachings--especially that of women in the priesthood, he now began to openly attack those who had taken away his priesthood authority. He began pointing out those actions which he felt showed the church had abused its power. Having worked for the church as a tour guide, I knew some of his points were valid and could see how some actions were not always "Christ-like". Although I had not physically withdrawn my membership, my relationship with the church was also at an end.

By September, Jeff and Alice had been asked to move out of the church owned home they had lived in since their arrival in Kirtland. Between money received from Dennis and Cheryl Avery and money they received from some of their working followers, the Lundgrens were able to rent an acreage a few miles away from the Temple. Alice set about making the old farmhouse a little more liveable, organizing people to clean and paint before they moved in. She even had an idea for using the old barn on the property. She wanted to set it up as a little country store to sell handcrafts she and some of the other girls in the group would make. As usual, Alice was good about putting a positive spin on life.

Jeff's actions proved to the church and himself he had a loyal band of followers. His power over the group now seemed complete. It would only take time and "revelations" to take the group past the edge of reason.

The story continues:

*(For more information on this incident, one of the best books written is Prophet of Death. the Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings by Pete Earley. It's very detailed and uncomfortably graphic, but he did his research well. Earley gets to the heart of why Jeff and his followers acted as they did, without bias. Also, A&E did a segment of their show American Justice on this topic: American Justice: The Cult Murders.) 

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