The Chosen: Shocking Confessions

The Chosen: Brought to Light | We’ve received countless messages requesting us to make a video on this show. Well, after some thorough research, here’s what we found… 0:00 Intro 2:56 The Chosen & Latter-day Saints 10:08 The Catholic Connection 17:36 The Knights Templar 20:48 Writing The Chosen 25:09 The Music 28:46 The False Revival

Churchome employee allegedly sold home to meet church’s compulsory tithing policy: lawsuit

Churchome, the Washington state megachurch led by Judah Smith and his wife Chelsea, has been slapped with a class action lawsuit for allegedly imposing a tithing policy on employees, in violation of state law, that requires them to give back no less than 10% of their gross earnings to the church or face disciplinary action, including termination.

One employee allegedly claimed that he was so committed to abiding by the policy he chose to sell his house during a financially difficult period so that he could afford to keep up with Churchome’s policy.

The lawsuit, a 44-page complaint filed last Tuesday in the King County Superior Court of Washington, was filed on behalf of Churchome employee Rachel Kellogg and at least 100 other employees affected by the policy during the last three years.

It names Judah Smith, Churchome’s lead communicator, his wife Chelsea, the church’s lead theologian, and Chief Executive Officer David Kroll as defendants.

“Defendants have engaged in a systemic scheme of wage and hour abuse against their employees, including the requirement that all employees rebate ten percent of their gross earned wages back to Defendants in the form of tithes on a monthly basis or face actual or threatened pressure, discipline, or termination,” Kellogg’s complaint says.

Churchome did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuit from The Christian Post Monday. Kellogg’s attorneys, Toby J. Marshall and Jasmin Rezaie‐Tirabadi of the Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC, contend in the complaint that the conduct of the Smiths and Kroll violate Washington’s Wage Rebate Act and the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

“Plaintiff and Class members are current and former Churchome employees who have been victimized by Defendants’ unlawful compensation practices, unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and unfair methods of competition,” the complaint insists. “This lawsuit is brought as a class action under Washington law to recover unlawfully rebated wages, which must be returned to Plaintiff and those similarly situated.”

The complaint also alleges that the defendants enacted the tithing policy “in pursuit of financial gain or livelihood” for themselves as well as their “marital community.”

The Scandalous Rise & Fall of Jerry Falwell Jr. | Documentary

Jerry Falwell Jr. was born into money and power as the son of TV evangelist and leader of the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell Sr. Jerry Falwell Jr. preached fundamentalist views as the president of the largest evangelical university in the world, and built a billion-dollar empire. He demanded high standards from his employees and students, while breaking every rule in the book behind the scenes as he and his wife lived a secret double life. This documentary details the rise and fall of one of the most prominent Evangelical leaders in the United States.

International Churches of Christ abused, pressured members financially to the point of suicide: lawsuit

The International Churches of Christ, a racially diverse, and theologically conservative nondenominational body of co-operating Christian congregations, along with their affiliated organizations, have been accused in a lawsuit filed by five women in California of covering up child sexual abuse and pressuring members so much for money that some left the church and later killed themselves. 

The five women include two sisters, Darleen Diaz, 33, and Bernice Perez, 31, as well as Ashley Ruiz, 31, Salud Gonzelez, 30, and Elena Peltola, 23. All are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit first reported by Rolling Stone.

The women alleged that the ICOC along with affiliates Hope Worldwide, Mercy Worldwide, the International Christian Church and the City of Angels International Christian Church, “indoctrinated” them and kept them isolated from the outside world while they were exploited sexually and manipulated through a “rigid” system of belief.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are two leaders of the church including founder Kip McKean and the estate of the late Charles “Chuck” Lucas. The women further allege that the churches and their leaders created a “system of exploitation that extracts any and all value it can from members.”

Church members the lawsuit alleges are forced to tithe 10% of their income to the church and also fund special mission trips twice yearly to the point of suicide and depression.

“If the tithing budget was not satisfied, leaders or ‘disciplers’ were forced to contribute the financial shortfall themselves, or members were required to locate the offending member who failed to tithe and sit on their porch until they arrived home in an attempt to obtain their tithe funds before Sunday evening was over,” the lawsuit says. “The pressure to comply with the church’s rigid demands was a source of anxiety and depression for many members. So much so that several ex-members committed suicide.” 

Church leaders also allegedly placed heavy recruitment demands on followers who were given quotas to convert in a bid to generate more tithing followers for the church.

In discussing their sexual abuse, the sisters Diaz and Perez, along with Ruiz, identified a man who is now a convicted pedophile, David Saracino, as abusing them at the same time. They claim that the church did nothing to protect them from the abuse.

Not Your ‘Church Next Door’: ‘Cult’ Ignored Abuse, Ran ‘Pyramid Scheme,’ Lawsuit Claims

FIVE WOMEN IN California have sued a network of organizations associated with the International Churches of Christ and two of its leaders, claiming they are victims of childhood sexual abuse and a financial pyramid scheme perpetrated by a “cult.” The federal claim, filed Friday night in the Central District of California and obtained by Rolling Stone, comes amid a flood of litigation in the state’s final days of a three-year window that gave adults additional time to sue over childhood sexual abuse.

The plaintiffs allege the ICOC and its affiliated organizations — Hope Worldwide; Mercyworldwild; and a splinter group known as the International Christian Church along with its Los Angeles headquarters, the City of Angels International Christian Church — “indoctrinated” members into a “rigid” belief system that isolated them from the outside world, then “facilitated and actively concealed” incidents of sexual abuse and trafficking while they were minors. The suit also names church founder Kip McKean and the estate of another leader, the late Charles “Chuck” Lucas, as defendants. Additionally, the women claim, the churches and their leaders created a “system of exploitation that extracts any and all value it can from members,” straining members financially, while silencing any dissenters.

Inside the South Korean ‘doomsday cult’ recruiting young Black Christians in the UK

When Joshua Adeyemi’s bible study leaders eventually told him the name of the church he was attending, he says the information came with a request – do not research it.

Joshua had been attending online study sessions for two months, 7pm-9pm, three days a week. But it would be another four months before he realised he was part of a “doomsday cult” called New Heaven New Earth (NHNE), or Shincheonji. Members believe that a South Korean man, Lee Man-hee, is a “chosen messenger of Jesus” on Earth to bring about the Second Coming. Had Joshua done that research, he might have learned sooner of Lee Man-Hee’s conviction for embezzling the church’s funds.

“The first two months they keep it very vague so you think it’s just a bible study with other Christians. But as you learn more you feel special, you get lost in it, you feel chosen and you start to believe in what they’re saying,” he said.

The 20-year-old is one of a number of ex-members who have told The Independent their concerns about the group’s recruitment techniques – said to “target” young Black people – and its practices, which many say leave them isolated after they are encouraged to abandon their family and friends.

Representatives of Shincheonji said that the group was now more open and its members were able to pursue careers and interests outside the sect.

The group has bases in London and Manchester but its reach is much wider, with hundreds of people attending Zoom meetings. Many more potential followers have been approached by members on social media after the pandemic forced the group’s activities online.

Joshua was approached on Instagram by a NHNE member in September 2020 and was soon having Facetime calls with them about his Christian faith. He went to an introductory Zoom session in December, which he thought was full of new recruits. He claims he later found out that a number of the people on the call were in fact members pretending to be going along for the first time.

From there he was signed up for one-to-one mentoring sessions, a bible study course, and he became a member in February 2021. He left some six months later in July after he grew concerned about what he was reading about the group online.

“The first weird thing they did was tell me not to tell my parents. My parents are Christian so I thought I would be able to tell them but the way they described it, they said it was too deep, and I should keep it between just us,” the Nottingham Trent University student explained.

Soon he felt the group had taken over his life. “I was cutting off my friends and family. No one in my life actually knew I was going to the sessions.”

He said there were many times when members would put pressure on him to make a choice between them and his friends, or ditch his university work so he could study their teachings.

As he was learning more about the doctrine, he grew convinced that he was witnessing the Second Coming and the imminent end of the world. “It’s like a doomsday cult,” he said. “They make it seem like it’s happening right now.”

A ‘promised pastor’

On top of Shincheonji’s study course, members are required to take tests, which evaluate their knowledge of the group’s doctrines and assess their worthiness for salvation.

Those who study to a sufficient standard will allegedly be part of a chosen 144,000 people from the tribes of Israel mentioned in the biblical Book of Revelation.

Shincheonji (SCJ) has far exceeded 144,000 members internationally, and so the UK group is said to be recruiting the “heavenly multitude” clothed in white mentioned in the apocalyptic book.

One ex-member estimated there were as many as 450 members in the UK branch.

The church, which is considered a cult by many, was founded in 1984 in South Korea by 90-year-old Lee Man-hee.

Details about Lee Man-hee’s role within the group are apparently only revealed many months into the initial bible course and when they were recruiting, ex-members said they were told not to mention Shincheonji.

Jonah, a design manager, who was in month two of the group’s course when he spoke to The Independent, was recruited through LinkedIn by a young woman asking if he could help out with a project on men’s mental health.

After a few introductory phone calls, she invited him to an online event with NHNE.

This is apparently a common tactic for recruitment to NHNE, with one former UK member telling The Independent that they were given training tools that would “deceive” people into attending online sessions. These tools allegedly included advice to pose as a psychology student doing a research project or to approach people with fake surveys.

Jonah’s initial Zoom meeting was attended by about 100 people and he was soon going to bible sessions on Monday, Thursday and Sunday each week, with around 70 others.

“I was told not to use the internet to research things. They tried to head off the online accusations that they are brainwashing people and being forceful,” Jonah explained.

“One of the concerns I’ve had and still have is about why most of the congregation are young Black people, why aren’t there any white males?” he said.

The group’s majority Black congregation has also been noticed by others, who told The Independent of their fears that young Black Christians were being “targeted”.

According to two ex-members, the significant proportion of Black people within the UK branch of the sect has been a concern to leaders of the international group, who sent a diktat in 2015 that more white people should be recruited.

Pastor Ted Haggard accused of inappropriate male touching and drug use in new ministry

Some 12 years after starting Colorado-based St. James Church in a defiant comeback from a 2006 sex scandal involving illicit drug use and a male prostitute, former National Association of Evangelicals President Ted Haggard has been accused of inappropriately touching at least two young men and illicit drug use during his new ministry.

“People are scared and worried and don’t want to be connected to him anymore,” the Rev. Kirk “Seth” Sethman, who was ordained as a minister by St. James Church in October 2012, told The Colorado Springs Gazette.

St. James Church did not immediately respond to questions about the allegations when contacted by The Christian Post on Wednesday. But Sethman, a reformed drug addict who served time in prison as a young adult for burglary, insists that Haggard has not been delivered from his wayward proclivities.

He told The Gazette that in the spring of 2012, just under two years after Haggard and his wife, Gayle, started St. James Church, the former megachurch pastor asked a young male church member to whom he was providing counseling to buy him methamphetamine.

Sethman said the young member, who was recovering from heroin addiction, told him what happened. He asked another member who is a medical doctor to help him confront Haggard. He said when they confronted Haggard, the pastor admitted to having the methamphetamine and said he was planning to use it to celebrate his upcoming birthday.

The St. James Church pastor then asked the two men to help him remove the drug from his house so he would not be tempted to use it.

Sethman said when they got to Haggard’s house, Haggard gave him a briefcase to throw away.

“He asked us to conceal the matter and said he would be accountable to us in the future,” Sethman said. “Which never happened.”

Sethman said after he left Haggard’s home, he opened the briefcase and found a bag containing a small amount of the nearly 1 gram of methamphetamine the young church member had bought for the pastor. There was also reportedly a “well-used” glass meth pipe, several sex toys, a DVD with two young males on the cover and a credit card with Ted Haggard’s name.

Sethman, who went blind in 2015 due to a medical condition, said he didn’t call the police because he wanted to protect Haggard, the church and the young man. He said he chose to smoke the remaining methamphetamine instead and waited about a year before disposing of the briefcase.

“I was protecting the young man, the church and Ted,” Sethman said. “My choice I made was wrong, but I thought I was doing right.”

The report said Sethman relapsed into drug use and drinking until 2017 when he rejoined St. James Church.

Around that time, Sethman said a young man told him that “‘it was really weird that Ted kept pushing him to go four-wheeling in the woods with him.'”

In 2006, Haggard was forced to resign as pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after confessing to “sexual immorality” with Denver male escort Mike Jones. Haggard, who said he would classify himself as bisexual if he weren’t a Christian pastor, said he didn’t have sex with the prostitute.

“We never had sex sex. I bought drugs and a massage from him, and he masturbated me at the end of it. That’s it,” he told GQ in 2011.

Haggard initially denied using methamphetamine he allegedly bought from Jones but later admitted to using the drug.

NYC cult bought $925K upstate retreat, uses ‘forced labor’ to dig ditches: source

A Manhattan cult that preys upon wealthy New Yorkers is expanding upstate, and putting new recruits to work on round-the-clock renovations and landscaping, according to public records and a source close to the group.

On June 29, 2021, a private company linked to members of Odyssey Study Group bought a sprawling compound on 100 wooded acres in the outskirts of Margaretville, a village of 700 nestled in the Catskill Mountains. The property was purchased six months after the death of OSG’s longtime leader, Sharon Gans Horn, an erstwhile actor who had a small part in the 1972 film “Slaughterhouse-Five.”

Also known as The Work and A Fourth Way School, the group under Gans Horn’s leadership has long been accused of sexual and child abuse as well as siphoning cash from its members to pay for its leaders’ extravagant lifestyles in Manhattan, Boston, the Hamptons and Mexico.

Beginning in February, a group of some 15 new recruits, who pay $400 a month to participate in twice weekly “study” sessions in Manhattan, was driven to the Margaretville property and put to work digging ditches for the construction of a pavilion, the source told The Post. The local municipality approved a permit on May 27 to build a 2,880 square foot pavilion on the property, according to public records.