Sinners in the Hands: When is a church a cult?

Antichrist with the devil, from the Deeds of t...

Antichrist with the devil, from the Deeds of the Antichrist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)(PD)

Depending on which definition (2, 5A&B) of cult, all churches can be one. They all certainly start out as one, perhaps sect is a more polite term. Sometimes a cult is non religious altogether, we here at disinfo can be perceived as one. Depending on how loosely one views the definition of course. I digress, this article talks about a family that has lost their daughter to a nondenominational New Testament church. Called the Church of Wells.

via Texas Monthly

Andy and Patty Grove never planned to settle outside of Texas. Their roots in the state reach back many generations. Patty’s ancestors came to Texas on a wagon train from Tennessee in the 1830’s (an elementary school in Houston is named for her great-grandfather); Andy’s father owned a tract of land that is now part of the posh Houston neighborhood of Hedwig Village. The two grew up a mere five miles away from each other in West Houston, where they attended Stratford and Memorial, rival high schools in Spring Branch ISD. They met while volunteering with Campus Crusade for Christ as undergraduates at the University of Houston in the late seventies. After marrying, in 1982, they settled in Arlington, where Andy took a job as the campus director of the University of Texas at Arlington’s branch of International Students, a Christian organization that works with foreign-exchange students. In the early nineties, on a camping trip to Arkansas with some of these students, the Groves fell in love with the natural beauty of the Ozarks and traded their brick house in the suburbs for a 140-acre farm in Arkansas’s War Eagle Valley. There, in a one-hundred-year-old house built from rough-cut oak, they set about raising their five children in a rural idyll. They bred quarter horses and cattle and hunted and fished throughout the year. Summers were spent swimming in the clear waters of War Eagle Creek, picking blackberries, and horseback riding on the trails that crisscrossed Seven Saddles Farm.

They also worked to instill in their children a love for the Lord. They attended the First Baptist Church of Huntsville, and all their kids regularly participated in the church’s youth group. Their third child, Catherine, showed a particular devotion. She was bright and inquisitive, with a warm, broad smile. In addition to attending Sunday school and singing in the choir, she toted her Bible along with her to Huntsville High School, where she participated in a Bible study after class. She excelled in secular pursuits as well, playing forward on a competitive club soccer team and earning induction into the National Honor Society. After graduation, in 2005, she went on to study Spanish at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Having formed many friendships with the international students whom the Groves had hosted, she hoped to travel widely throughout South America doing mission work.

Just one semester short of a diploma, however, she shifted her studies to focus on nursing. She was living with her grandparents at the time, helping care for her grandfather as he battled leukemia. His death, in December 2010, left her rattled, and about a year later she decided to leave school and move back to her parents’ farm. She eventually earned her license as a certified nursing assistant and got a job in the ICU at Washington Regional Hospital, in Fayetteville. But in early 2013 her behavior began to grow erratic. She would say things like “Why go into nursing as a career when God’s going to kill everyone anyway?” She seemed to withdraw from the world, dropping out of her choir and quitting her job. Her parents were flummoxed. “We found her planner,” Patty recalled this past October, “and it was packed with church meetings and her work schedule. But after May there was nothing. It was blank.”

A couple of months later, on July 2, Catherine gave all her belongings to Goodwill and disappeared without a word. Her parents had no clue where she had gone. On July 7, their phone rang, just after eleven-thirty at night. “I’m in Wells, Texas, with a group of people who are taking good care of me,” Catherine said. “But I can’t listen to you anymore, I can only listen to my elders. I have to keep my hands over my ears. You’re going to see a lot of bad stuff on the Internet about them, but none of it is true.”


  • InfvoCuernos

    When is a church a cult?-answer: when its somebody else’s church.

    • Laugh You Bastards

      When it doesn’t have tax exempt status.

    • Dingbert

      Or, like in the article, when you ask someone in town where to find the church and they say, “Oh, you mean the cult.” That’s usually a pretty good sign, too.

  • echar

    Run like hell If any person or group requires or even suggests that you distance yourself from people in your life who positively support you.

    • alizardx

      That’s a good start.

      If you have to evaluate an organization on the basis “is it a cult”,
      this will give you a framework to tell you if it is or is likely to
      become hazardous to its members or the community:

      The only thing Deepak Chopra ever said worth repeating:
      ‘Walk with those seeking truth… RUN FROM THOSE WHO THINK THEY’VE FOUND IT. ‘

      • echar

        Thank you.

  • lifobryan

    When is a church a cult?

    Hmmmm … maybe if it’s located on Muskrat Road in rural buttfuck Pennsylvania, where the “Chosen” meet four times a week to quiver in fear of anything post-1959, begging God to “rapture” them away before marauding hordes of Evolutionists penetrate their mighty fortress of well-armed pickup trucks, where they’ll force church women to wear pants & perform abortions & dance & vote Democrat; and where its in-house Christian high school teaches students to avoid making friends “in the world” or even to associate with “unsaved” relatives, who might corrupt their young minds into doubting that Satan buried dinosaur bones in the cursed earth, casting demonic disbelief on God’s holy & completely literal Word … But so long as the “Remnant of True Believers” can hold on tight until the Second Coming, and keep any rock music from reaching their ears, they will be blessed with front-row seats at the Battle of Armageddon, where they will cheer as Jesus swoops in on his literal white horse, and finally smites that smirking gay agenda off the liberal faces of his enemies with divine nuclear glee.

    Sorry … just having flashbacks ……