Although these sites contain great information, we do not endorse everything on all of them - be discerning.
Apologetics Index - The Dutch webmaster was involved for seven years in an abusive evangelical church group in the USA, and now lives in Holland. This is a huge Christian site packed with good information. They also have a new site devoted to the subject of Grace and Mercy--scroll to the bottom and click "Start Here" to read some encouraging chapters from the book, Grace Plus Nothing, by Jeff Harkin.
Battered Sheep - "The purpose of this ministry is essentially twofold: to educate, and to encourage Christians regarding authoritarian and abusive churches."
The Blog of Lema Nal is run by a former member of a spiritually abusive group. Nal does a great job searching out internet resources on spiritual abuse on the internet.
Carol Giambolvo's Cult Information and Recovery - Carol is a former cult member who has been deeply involved since 1984 with the International Cultic Studies Association (formerly AFF) and reFOCUS, organizing and conducting recovery workshops, writing and counseling. One of her excellent articles is Coping with Triggers, something that plagues many former Assembly members in certain situations.
Church of the Open Door bookstore - This is a charismatic Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Minneapolis. We don't necessarily recommend all their teaching, but they have a heart for those who have been spiritually abused. Jeff Vanvonderen teamed with Pastor Dave Johnson here for a Spiritual Abuse Conference, available on tape from their online bookstore. Other tapes/CDs available: Marks of False Spiritual Leadership; Deception Exposed; Fortifying the Family; How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth (by Greg Boyd); Marriage Enrichment; Spiritual Abuse Seminar; Wounded by Shame Healed by Grace.
Cognitive Impairment In Thought Reform Environments - Ron Burk's PhD. dissertation for the University of Ohio, 2002. "This work and all my publications to this point, are dedicated to those to whom the words of a pastor, guru, mentor or spiritual master have become wounds to the soul." Ron and Paul Martin were both long term members of the Discipleship Movement. Ron was a counselor on staff at Wellspring for several years.
Cult Awareness and Information Centre - Mainly a recovering Jehovah's Witness and ex-Mormon site, but has a lot of good general information as well. It's creepy, by the way, how similar the Assemblies were in some ways to the JWs--going door to door, shunning those who leave, not celebrating Christmas or Easter, and on and on....
Ex-Cult.org - Lots of links and several good articles.
Exit and Support Network - A site for former members of the Worldwide Church of God, which was, and still seems to be in spite of a reorganization, a cult in the traditional sense of the word, i. e. not having the Gospel. Because of this, we want to reiterate that we do not agree with everything on this site - proceed with discernment. That said, Worldwide was quite similar to the Assembly in many ways - legalism, elitism, special leader, special seminars, special theology, etc.
FACTNet - Big site, general cult information, links, book recommendations, cult news and a discussion board. Lawrence Wollersheim, the original director, was personally mentored for 20 years by the late Dr. Margaret Singer of UC Berkely, one the world's foremost authorities on thought reform.
Freedom of Mind - Homepage of Steve Hassan, former leader in the Moonies, now a clinician and author of Combatting Cult Mind Control and Releasing the Bonds, two excellent books on recovering from cultic groups.
Geftakys Assembly Bulletin Board - The Assemblyboard, hosted by Brian Tucker out of Charleston, IL., is a separate entity from this website, having no connection other than a common background in the ministry of George and Betty Geftakys. Posts in 2003-2004 have a lot of valuable Assembly information and support. Be prepared for anger and opinions you don't agree with. Much of the discussion in 2005 degenerated into rudeness and manipulation. Mark Campbell has an insightful series of profiles (anonymous and composite) of various post-Assembly folks. The Rick Ross Cult Education Forum also has a thread on the Geftakys Assembly under the topic, Recovery from Destructive Cults and Groups.
How Cults Work - Excellent brief easy-to-read overview about cults, that gives a lot of good basic information and dispels many misconceptions. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a link to the parent organization, Cult Watch (same URL). One of the best features is the "Mind Control Toolbox" under the "Cults" tab.
International Cultic Studies Association website - ICSA is the premier secular research organization worldwide on the subject of cults. There are links on their homepage to articles, the Cultic Studies Journal, and their excellent bookstore. Some of the more scholarly articles are available only by paid membership. ICSA hosts an annual conference, as well as workshops around the country, where presenters include all the major cult researchers and authorities, as well as clinicians, including Dr. Paul Martin and Dr. Ron Burks of Wellspring Retreat. The history of AFF/ICSA is very informative.
National Association for Christians in Recovery website - Christian site that offers substantial help for recovery from trauma and spiritual abuse, as well as addictions. A goldmine of good articles. One example is an interview with David Augsburger, Forgiveness and Its Imitations. Very clarifying.
Stanford Prison Experiment - Slideshow and explanation of Stanford professor Philip G. Zimbardo's famous 1971 experiment showing how good people can be induced to do evil things to each other.
The Plymouth Brethren - Miles J. Stanford's page on the Brethren. Someone formerly with the Exclusive Brethren said, "The similarities [between the Geftakys Assemblies and the Brethren] reach right down to the style and language of the meetings, and, of course, to the rank immorality of the leader and the orchestrated cover up." Peebs is a site critical of the Exclusive Brethren. Here is Wikipedia on the Brethren. SimpleGathering, a forum of young Open PB's, has a thread on the Geftakys Assembly
Post-Assembly Musings - Editor's blog, mostly related to the Assembly and spiritual abuse in some way.
reFOCUS - A network of referral and support for former members of closed, high demand groups, relationships or cults. Many resources and articles. Here is one, Dr. Michael Langone's description of what happens when you get into such a group - Deception, Dependency and Dread.
Reveal website - An organization of former members of the International Churches of Christ (ICC), also known as "Crossroads" and the "Boston Church of Christ". REVEAL stands for research, examine, verify, educate, assist, and liberate. Many lifestyle similarities between the Geftakys Assemblies and the ICC, and many of the same adverse effects on people's lives.
Rick Ross - The most comprehensive site on cults, including information on specific groups. There are many articles and short pieces about the Assembly that have been submitted by former members. There was also an article on Jan. 21, 2003, on Rick Ross's "Cult News" about G. Geftakys' excommunication.
Stop Spiritual Abuse - A very comprehensive Christian cult recovery site, primarily for former members of the United Pentecostal Church. Many good links and resources on this site.
Spiritual Abuse Recovery Resources - Jeff VanVonderen's website provides resources and support for people recovering from spiritual abuse. Jeff is one of the authors of The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse (the best book on the subject, in our opinion) and one of the main speakers on the "Spiritual Abuse Conference" tapes (see Church of the Open Door above).
Watchman Fellowship, a ministry of Christian discernment - A Christian counter-cult and watchdog ministry since 1979, with a mission to educate and equip, and to evangelize the cults.
Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center - Brian Steele, formerly of the Santa Barbara Assembly, has been to Wellspring. He says: "I left the Assembly about 10 years ago. My experience, and yours I'm sure, is common to everybody who leaves an abusive, manipulative group. I had nightmares for years, seeing a particular leading brother in my dreams. I also ached for others still in. There is a whole host of spiritual, social and psychological baggage that we bring with us when we leave. It takes years to work through the issues. I was helped tremendously at a counseling center for cult victims called Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Ohio. A number of ex-Assembly members have gone there and can also testify to how helpful it is. The people who run Wellspring are ex-cult members themselves so they have a personal knowledge of what you are going through. They have tremendous resources in-house: professionally trained and educated psychologists, brilliant Biblical scholars, and internationally renowned cult-experts. I can't overstate their qualifications to help you. Please sincerely consider attending Wellspring. At least give their website a look to see what they have to offer." Although director Dr. Paul Martin died this August, Wellspring is still in operation, and is offering several special arrangements, including a concentrated one-week program, and a 35% discount to one guest each month.
Working Psychology - Website of USC professor Dr. Kelton Rhoades dedicated to the scientific study and application of social persuasion. There is a section devoted to cults and mind control, under the topic "Introduction to Influence." The influence of high-demand tactics is examined from the perspective of science, in a presentation that is very accessible to the non-scientifically minded reader. Also available for download in PDF format is a lengthy propaganda analysis of Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Comments from Readers
July 3, 2008 An anonymous reader sent in a recommendation for links to Sovereign Grace ministries, blogs, etc. Another anonymous reader replied: "That is the wrong place to look for help in cult recovery. I barely made it out of SGM alive. Check out these links: Sovereign Grace Ministries Survivors, SGM Refuge, a safe haven, and SpiritualTyranny.com."
This is very instructive. As with the Assembly, SGM looks okay in the area of doctrine, if you're into Reformed theology, but the practice and conduct of SGM ministries is problematic.