Rachel's Story - Part 7
Betty Teaches on Families, and We Finally Leave
During this time I began to hear about strange things Betty was claiming. Cornerstone Academy, the school operated by Ginger Geftakys under George and Betty's ministry, is required by law to give some sort of sex education. While discussing what the class would include with the teacher, my grandmother asked how she intends to present sex outside of marriage. The teacher (Lorraine Bush, I believe) told her that she was going to suggest the students consider the effects of immoral sex on their body and soul and the risk of pregnancy. Betty suggested the teacher also give for consideration the effects of immoral sex on any child resulting from the sex.
Betty stated that God sees children born out of wedlock as eternally different from those born in wedlock.
Somehow, what she called "bastard" children were entitled to less grace than other kids. So much for God being a father to the fatherless. Now I began to understand why she had been so distant to me and my baby, who was her great-grandchild.
My husband's name is Dave Steepleton. Three months after Daniel was born we started dating. We had been friends for quite some time at that point and our relationship had become closer. We went to the leadership to see if we could start "spending time together." However, we were told we couldn't. Now that they knew of our interest in each other as more than friends, we were told we were not to see or speak to one another, let alone do anything together.
We ended up dating anyway. Even though we were not supposed to be dating, Dave S. was still supposed to meet with the leadership about our relationship. When Dave started meeting with my dad, the other leaders told him not to discuss our relationship with David because he was too close to the situation. When Dave went to Jeff Lehmkuhl, whose house he had been moved into, and asked if he could marry me, Jeff told Dave that Dave did not know God's will, that he had never found God's will, and that when it was God's will Jeff will let him know. Somehow, at the time, we didn’t think it was strange to ask a third party if it was alright to marry.
Then end result is that after waiting, then going back to Jeff, then waiting, then going back to Jeff, we finally decided that we were getting married, in spite of what they might say and if we had to we would go somewhere else. Jeff told Dave that if we went against his counsel the leading brothers had decided no one would marry us.
He spoke as though he was speaking for all the leading brothers. However, when we finally got engaged we find out that he had only spoken with Roberto Sanchez and no one else. My father, who was still very much in leadership at this time, said he would marry us.
They would not announce our engagement on Sunday. They wanted us to meet with the Leading Brothers because we got engaged against counsel. At that meeting Jeff quickly apologized for "mistakenly misrepresenting the leadership" in how he counseled Dave regarding whether the leadership would marry us or not.
Then, quickly changing the subject he told David G. that, "Dave S. has lied." Jeff was referring to and incident in late April of 1999. Jeff had asked Dave if he had seen me since my son's birthday on April 16th, 1999. Dave had told him, "No," which was untrue. Dave should have said it was none of his business. However, we didn’t have the confidence and maturity to stand up to the leadership in that way, especially after all we had been through.
David G. became enraged and his face was red as he yelled at my husband-to-be in front of the Leading Brothers. They told my husband he must write a letter of apology and could not partake until they had seen his repentance. This is the usual result of this sort of a situation and it hardly even crossed my mind to ask how Jeff, who also lied, did not have to write a letter of apology and not partake for a while.
A couple of weeks later George and Betty came to town. George and Betty asked us to come and see them. However, they wanted us to see them separately. We went to see George first. He was pretty nice. He said he was glad we were getting married but that we went about it the wrong way. He later told a leading brother that he was glad I was getting married because then he could recognize Daniel as his great-grandson.
Then we went to see Betty. After sitting down, Betty asked Dave S. for a worksheet she had given out at a recent Brother's meeting. It was from a book on marriage, written in the 1600's. She began to read down the list of things a husband should do. One says a husband should not treat his wife cruelly. She asked what would be cruel behavior to a wife.
"I guess if you were to humiliate your wife by correcting her publicly," Dave said.
"Ok," said Betty, "but what else?"
"Well, if you were to hit her," Dave responded. Her reply was chilling, "If your wife was hysterical and going to harm herself or the children, then you could slap her to get her to snap out of it. Then she would be grateful that you helped her snap out of it."
At this point I got up to leave the room because I was about to cry. It was obvious to me that Betty intended to use this situation to excuse David G.'s behavior. When I came back Dave S. was saying, "I would never hit my wife. If she were hysterical I would hold her to prevent harm until she calmed down. If you hit your wife you cross the line between protector and have become the attacker." After this, we prayed and I got up to leave. Betty stopped me and asked me what was said.
I responded, "You said,
'If your wife is hysterical and out of control and going to harm herself or the children then you could slap her to get her to snap out of her hysteria and she would be grateful that you did so.'"
"That's right. I just wanted to make sure that it didn't come back that I said something I didn't," Betty said.
Brent and Suzie T., Eric and Sheila F., and Tom W. also have heard her state this same idea at a couple's meeting. The essay that she quoted from is still in circulation. This is a fact.
Then came the wedding preparation. I was told not to wear a white dress. It was suggested, by Betty, that I wear a blue suit. The reason given was that my child was evidence of my sexual immorality. They thought it would be a bad testimony to the world. (Note: Wouldn't you want me to wear a white dress as a sign of how Christ forgives sin and restores what he did not take away? I mean, isn't He going to make our garments white someday?)
Since I had already ordered an off-white dress this created a problem. After much discussion and argument a compromise was reached between David G. and George. Neither my husband nor I had been involved in any of these discussions.
The compromise was presented to my husband and I in the following manner: Jeff Lehmkuhl and Roberto Sanchez came over and sat down with us and gave us the following options: I could wear an off-white veil that covered my dress or I could have a wedding that is not an "Assembly wedding." A non-Assembly wedding was explained as a wedding that they would not announce and would not suggest the saints go to but rather "encourage" us to only invite close friends and family. Since my only friends and most of my family were saints, this was strange.
Would they act as they did at my child's birth and tell the saints not to come? We decided to go with the compromise. At my rehearsal David G. was an hour and a half late because he was working on his car.
At my wedding David G. preached on the woman who was known to be a whore and who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. The passage ends with Jesus saying he who is forgiven much loves much. During the reception, George went around saying how, "David G. called a spade a spade," and that he is so proud of David G. George then committed a minor social indiscretion and asked my mother-in-law if the child with her was her son. She said, "No. That is your great-grandson."
A year after we got married we finally left the Assembly. Read my story "How I Figured It Out" to see what opened my eyes to the abusiveness of the Assembly.
For Judy's sake, I have left out the details of the sexual abuse because it is extremely degrading. Just know that when I heard it from Judy it was very disturbing. You need to know that this is not an isolated case. More so than any of the physical abuse is the way people and especially women's lives are eaten up.
This is bigger then a problem in my immediate family. It reflects the physical and psychological abuse David Geftakys suffered at George and Betty's hands. It reflects Betty's hatred of woman. It reflects an attitude that it is OK to consume people's lives for your own pleasure or comfort.
The whole ministry is corrupt and needs to come to an end. God is no longer in that place. I hope you can see how this extends further than just my family.