I am a Cult Survivor

This is the Faith preacher Kenneth Copeland. Or, to put it another way, this is my childhood in 3 minutes.

 

I grew up in Bath, where Kenneth Copeland Ministries has its European office. I have Kenneth Copeland’s autograph in a Bible that was given to me on the day I was born. This is not Texas or Arkansas. This isn’t even London. This is middle class England.

When I watch this stuff, I still feel the same sense of awe I felt as a child. God, Creator of the Universe, the most powerful being in existence, had gone to all this effort to make me blessed. It’s an incredible thought.

I can’t tell you how annoying it is to know that you, reader, can just look at it and go, “bullshit.” Because from having my first doubts at 16, it took me five years to fully shake off. My Dad went to his grave believing this, and the only merciful thing is that if he’d lived, he would have given all our money to Copeland, instead of just most of it.

The most pernicious doctrine of the Word of Faith is the idea that “you can have what you say.” This doctrine of positive confession, as preached by the Copelands, says that anything you say in faith will happen. (There’s a good rundown of the prosperity gospel here, but it’s from a Christian perspective, so my atheist followers might be irked by some parts).

Anything you say in faith will happen.

For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Mark 11:23-24

Whatever you desire! How do you do this? Call those things that be not as though they are (Romans 4:17). So if you’re sick, you say, “In Jesus’ name, I am healed.”

Not “I will be healed,” please note: “I am healed.” You believe that you receive when you pray. You call things that be not as though they are.

When God created the world, he spoke. He said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. As sons and heirs of God (Romans 8:17), our words, spoken in faith, have this creative power.

If you say it, it will happen.

You know what that means? If you say something negative, that will happen too.

Never confess doubt, or anything else of a negative nature. Admitting doubt, even in a small way, will paralyze your faith. It will have the effect of withholding God’s best and His blessings from you. Therefore, we must never confess doubt.

Frederick K.C. Price, mega-church pastor1

If you say anything that is a doubt, you won’t get God’s blessing!

Picture the scene at my church on a Sunday morning. You’ve got a bunch of people who believe that if they say something positive, it will happen. They also believe that if they admit anything negative, it will continue, and the positive stuff won’t happen. These people have not seen each other for a week, and they are all asking each other how they are doing.

“How’s it going, James?”

“I’m blessed. Blessed, brother! Glory to God, I’m rich, healed, saved and set free!!”

This is not lying. This is faith. You can never have a normal conversation with someone in the Word of Faith. So once you’re in it, it’s hard to have non-Christian friends, quite apart from all the dire warnings about being unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).

There’s another thing:

All doubt comes from the devil.

All.

Doubt.

Comes.

From the devil.

Satan will try to influence you by planting thoughts in your mind. You can always tell when a thought comes from the devil, because that thought will always be inconsistent with and contradictory to the Word of God…

Satan is very clever at his job. He has learned not only how to plant thoughts in our minds, but he has also learned how to govern us in such a way that will make us think we engendered the thought.2

Any thought you have – any suspicion that what you believe might not be true – is of the devil. And the only solution is to drive it out by meditating on God’s Word day and night.

The belief that doubt comes from the devil – and speaking that doubt will stop you from receiving God’s blessings – is a level of mind control to rival any cult.

Logical thought is our immune system against believing fantasy. And the Faith Movement works by cutting this off, your only defence against deception. Your mind can’t comprehend the ways of God, it says, because His thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). Don’t expect to understand it. Just know that doubts are placed there by the devil.

Furthermore, if you’re having doubts, you can’t discuss them with anyone. The very act of discussing them will make those doubts come true. As a mechanism for control this works on so many levels. If you had only a slight doubt, discussing it with a friend might have confirmed it. Now that option is cut off. And if anyone does leave the flock because of doubt, it can’t spread to other people, because those people can’t listen to the doubter.

Mind Control

It’s a black hole. You can’t think your way out, because thinking is not allowed. You can’t talk your way out, because that’s not allowed either. You lose your non-Word of Faith friends, because it’s impossible to hold a conversation with normal people when your words bear no relationship to reality. And because you think the only way to make the supernatural happen is to speak the Word constantly until it comes true, that’s all you do.

The Word of Faith: It’s a cult, it’s got tens of thousands of British followers, it looks like Christianity, and no one knows about it.


1. Price, F.K.C. (1994: 51), Three Keys to Positive Confession. Los Angeles: Faith One Publishing.

2. Ibid., p. 37

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on May 11, 2012, in Christianity, Fundamentalism, Word of Faith and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. This blaming the devil for doubt is curious. One of the normal criticisms levelled at prosperity gospel style messages is that it normally blames the victim. Didn’t get the car you wished for you just didn’t wish hard enough, fool!

    Yet this shifts the blame from the victim to the devil…is that better or not? I can’t really decide.

    • Oh, there’s a lot of blaming the victim too. I just haven’t got to that yet. The prosperity doesn’t just have one strategy to explain why its followers aren’t seeing results. It has a labyrinth of them.

      • It would probably have to have such a labyrinth. After all, give someone advice on how to beat the devil they still won’t be able to wish cancer away. More explanations are needed.

      • Rev Ike just to promise people that God would prosper them if they ran to the altar and gave (him) the man of God money. Hmmm. I wonder why so many thousands ran to that altar and threw down their money? ( why would anyone do that except to get the results that “they were after which was “prosperity) people are not following a man but rather following the lust(desires) of their own heart. be honest! Then they attack the one who entice that lust of their heart. get rid of that lust and those messages won’t appeal to you for one sticking second!
        as for the “victim”/ i see it more that they are the volunteer. Jesus said take heed to what YOU hear, not to what they say!

  2. Blame the devil, blame the victim, it’s really all the same. Because you, the victim, let the devil get a foothold. But wait a minute…I’m sealed by the Holy Spirit, right? The devil can’t read my thoughts, he can only hear them if I say them out loud. So I never prayed aloud. Because the devil might hear. I might even get what I prayed for, but how would I know if it was of God or the devil trying to lure me into complacency? It’s all so very exhausting.

    That Kenneth Copeland video doesn’t have that effect on me. In fact, we shunned the prosperity gospel. Oh, we puffed up our chests against it, but if you were sick or having a particularly hard time it was either because a) you didn’t have enough faith or b) you were sinning. We scoffed at the idea that you could claim prosperity and get it while at the same time belittled those who weren’t seeing God’s blessings. What a crock!

  3. So they rip off of you your intellectual immune system. It hurts just to think about what it would be like to be part of it. Although, truth be told, all fundamentalist churches practice a form of that to one degree or another. That’s what I hated most. I could never say anything negative.

    “They sing that chorus every Sunday, they should try new ones.”
    “The worship was wonderful, Lorena. The worship is always beautiful.”

    Yes, at the time I was extremely negative. I have learned by now that keeping negativism to myself is a good idea. But when they make you feel guilty for even thinking the stuff, then you’re in cult-land.

  4. Donald Miller

    “Satan will try to influence you by planting thoughts in your mind.” Perhaps that’s a confession Copeland is making that his congregation isn’t picking up on?

    • You know, my gut instinct on reading that was to stick up for Copeland. I actually like him. I have stockholm syndrome, I swear.

      • Donald Miller

        I don’t know him that well. It seems like he is probably a fraud. If not, he has deluded himself, also. I wonder if he’s read two sentences of Thomas Aquinas.

  5. I wonder, in America…anyone with an exotic accent sounds intellectual. British accents almost always pass as someone who is much smarter.

    Do folks in the UK find themselves mesmerized by the unusual (to their ears) speech patterns the way us Americans do to the folks from Great Britain?

    To me, Copeland always sounded a little too much like a country bumpkin….but then again, that’s probably because I was raised in the Northeastern US.

    I have to say in regards to your post, the whole idea that you can’t even discuss your doubts is just so oppressive. That’s what makes people suicidal….the self doubt and the inability to even truly express yourself.

    • Funnily enough, I recently found some video footage of myself as a child and I had, occasionally, hints of an American accent. Despite growing up in Britain, I’d spent so long listening to those preachers, I’d begun to pick it up.

      A friend of mine from Texas also said Copeland sounded like a hick. I don’t think he comes across as exotic here, exactly. My parents always put British opposition to him down to anti-Americanism, which wasn’t totally unfounded. But those American preachers did have a certain glamour, yeah.

  6. I grew up in an environment a bit like this – it really screws with your head as an adult. I found Dr Marlene Winell’s book Leaving the Fold really helpful in unpicking exactly how some of the indoctrination has affected my capacity to think for myself – thanks for this blog – interesting stuff good luck with the book.

  7. so many of “christians” who are anti-Copeland and against the ‘prosperity movement need to see how most full time Pastors who may denounce that message somehow live better than most of their congregation. there are the write offs, the gas card allowances, paid cell phone (s) use, travel expenses, dinner allowances if they talk even for one minute about church business, mortgage AND car payments and so and and so on, and then on top of that, get paid a nice salary. Some live in parsonages, and basically only have to buy the food they eat. even the suits and electronics that they use can be written off, YET THESE WILL BOLDLY CONDEMN THE “PROSPERITY BOYS” FOR SAYING GOD WANTS THEM TO HAVE ALL THEIR NEEDS AND THAT THEY CAN LIVE THE ABUNDANT LIFE. while attempting to appear “humble’? – give me a break.
    p.s. I don’t follow Copeland or the “prosperity boys” but take the log (your desire to have all) of of your eye before you can even try to remove the speck from these preachers you hate!

    • Who is this comment directed at? Me? I am not a Christian.

      It is true that we shouldn’t be hypocrites, but I think your citing Matthew 7:5 is inappropriate here. Your comment seems like a smokescreen. There are legitimate problems here that need to be discussed, and the fact that none of the people discussing it is perfect doesn’t change that.

  8. I’m glad I don’t go to an oppressive church. I just discussed some things that have been making my life hell with my pastor the other day.

  9. I think faith in God is the only kind of faith. Just look at the disipiles. They all died a marter death except john. Where does it say we are all going to get rich in the bible. We are to take up our cross and follow him. We must remember that these people have made millions off of this message but Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world. Who am I . I was in the wof church for 16 yrs. And praise God I am living by my faith everyday. And I look to christ because he is the way the truth and the life no man cometh to the father but by him. I pray that during these tryin times people turn to the true gospell and if they are in a false gospell to get in a bible preaching church. There is plenty of information on the web that you can look up and do a study yourself.

  10. Hello there, I have been set free from this movement. This is all I knew for forty years. I am concern about you though. Did you give up completely on God? I apologize on behalf of all these wackos for making God look like a magical wand. Last few months, I have digged for the real truth. He never promised health, wealth etc… But eternal life. Please don’t give up and hope you search out real truth to shut these fools on TV up. My personal take on all this is….do you remember in Matthew when Jesus warns many will come in my name Christ and deceive my elect. He didn’t say they would come and claim they are Jesus but Christ. Christ in Hebrew is anointed one. Isn’t that interesting all these guys claim they are anointed men of God and are deceiving the elect/church. Because I believe God is Sovereign, He knew this would happen, so maybe he is seeing who is going to follow men or who desires to really know Him and study the Word for themselves. Jesus warned us several times that we would be deceived and in 2 Thess it mentions there would be a great falling away of the faith in the last days due to false teachings. Tell me what you think. It’s good your challenging folks, you need to do that, just please don’t let Copeland turn you completely off, he will get his day in court for twisting and pimping the gospel (Isaiah). I recommend John Piper and Matt Chandler. They tell the truth to cope with life and read straight from the bible, no opinions added. Take care

  11. got to http://www.cultwatch.com these people expose it all!!

  12. Name it (“word of faith teachings”), Claim it (“word of faith teachings do not exist”) therefore…..lol

  13. Check out the YouTube video of Copeland talking in tongues and laughing like a demented man.
    The other lunatic is Rodney Brown, a British evangelical nut…

    • Rodney (Howard) Browne is actually South African. I remember him well. That whole period of mid- to late-90s ‘revival’ was like the entire church started abusing drugs en masse. Just bizarre.

  14. I am pretty sure that I’m in a cult. 😦 I started to look up all the signs of cults and it’s true. this is devastating I need a coffee now. I just want to run away 😦 but I can’t my mom and her sobriety are wrapped up in the church, I don’t want to lose her again. I can’t survive on my own she’s the only family I have and my pets 😦

    I can’t believe this, is it illegal, they are always keeping me down in my faith in God, If there is something wrong, like my disorders it’s always my fault, for not believing in God. There’s even have their own vocabulary outsiders would need a crash course in just to understand a sermon.

  15. Praise The Lord he delivered you from that cult! I recently came out of the Branham cult and It feels so great to be out of utter bondage

  16. Okay,,,I need some clarity, What do you define as Fundamentalism?

    • Pretty much Biblical inerrancy + creationism. Anyone who accepts the five fundamentals (Virgin birth, historical resurrection, miracles of Jesus were literal events, Bible is inerrant, penal substitutionary atonement). So I’m using it in a broad sense, not just to identify Christians who would use the label for themselves.

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