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An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four)

October 15, 2019

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 21.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seventeen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,068

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

John Collins is an Author, and the Webmaster of William Branham Historical Research. Jennifer Hamilton runs Casting Pearls Project. They discuss: the overview of the abuse, the sexual abuse, of those who were or are followers of “The Message”; common sentiments among ex-followers; standard reaction to victims and individuals making claims of sexual abuse within “The Message” community; the activity of law enforcement; the consequences of the sexual assaulters, the rapists, and the sexual sadists abusing men and women, boys and girls, within “The Message” community; and facing justice.

Keywords: abuse, Christianity, John Collins, justice, Seek The Truth, sexual abuse, The Message, webmaster, William Marrion Branham, women.

An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham: Webmaster, William Branham Historical Research; Lead, Casting Pearls Project (Part Four)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Do many ‘Message’ followers of WMB raise issues or concerns about the sexual abuse in the community?  What is the overview in terms of the abuse?

John Collins: For this portion of the interview, I’ve asked my friend and colleague Jennifer Hamilton for input.  Jennifer has experience working with former members of William Branham’s “Message” cult, specifically with females who suffered many forms of abuse while they were part of the cult group.  Jennifer runs the Casting Pearls Project, which is a safe place for women who suffered abuse in the “Message”.

According to Jennifer, victims are pressured into keeping silent about abuse.  As a result, many members of the group are unaware that sexual abuse exists.  Worse, some people that are aware of the abuse have become accustomed to it and view the abuse is “normal”.  Some message followers rarely speak up against sexual abuse within the church because they are conditioned to keep silent.  In many cases, there seems to be an unspoken rule that “if you speak about the problem, then you are the problem”.

When a religious cult becomes destructive, members of the group willingly submit supreme authority to a central figure (or figures) and do so without applying critical thought or raising questions when situations arise worth questioning.  This often leads to sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse by those with unquestioned power or control over their members.

2. Jacobsen: What is the common sentiment among ex-followers?

John: In my experience working with former members of the “Message” and other religious cult groups, it takes time before former members recognize the existence of abuse.  With the conditioning for acceptance of certain types of abuse, some former members are unaware their environment was abusive until adjusting to a non-abusive environment.  This is especially true of second and third-generation cult members who were raised under abuse.  Those raised under parents practicing verbal or physical abuse as means of “correction” have limited or no understanding of positive reinforcement and continue the tradition with their own children.  As awful as it sounds, some former members describe the transition from thinking sexual abuse was “normal” to realizing they were abused.  Years of sexual molestation had become their “normal” life.

Jennifer Hamilton: Because abuse is so normalized within the church, it takes some time of de-programing to understand how toxic their church environment really was.  For other former members, surfacing stories of sexual abuse may come as a shock because of the required silence of victims and families involved.

3. Jacobsen: What is the standard reaction to victims, or individuals making claims to being victims at least, of sexual abuse within the “Message’ community?

Collins: I personally know abuse victims whose “Message” cult pastor became informed of the situation during private consultation and was asked to intervene.  One case in particular, the father was abusive to the mother and children.  The pastor further victimized the mother and children by shaming them further into submission.  In many cases, victims are shamed into silence, no matter how they badly were abused.

Hamilton: Typically, one of three scenarios happen when sexual abuse occurs.  Unfortunately, more often than not, the victim of rape or sexual assault is afraid to speak up and the abuse is never mentioned to anyone in church authority.  The second scenario is that the victim does speak to their pastor or church leader, but the pastor ‘handles’ the situation by either admonishing the abuser privately or dismissing the situation all together.  The third scenario is the less common of the three, but the pastor might bring the offender before the congregation to reprimand them openly. In both instances of speaking out, the victim is almost always shamed and found at some fault.  For sexual abuse towards girls and women, teachings of WMB place blame on the female body for being seductive and therefore a temptation.

Because of victim shaming and lack of appropriate response, there is a psychological sense of no escape for victims.  If they did speak up at one time, they eventually feel trapped into silence.  This creates the vicious cycle of abuse in some cases to continue on for years.

4. Jacobsen: Has law enforcement been active or not?

Collins: I know only of a few situations where law enforcement was involved, and only at the request of victims.  “Message” cult churches are not properly trained in how to properly respond to abuse, and in many cases, make attempts to conceal abuse rather than report it.  In most cases the statute of limitations has expired long before the victim escapes the cult, and correction is outside of the boundaries of the law.

Hamilton: Leaders and members distrust the secular legal and social services system. Very rarely is law enforcement involved.  Therefore, when sexually abused members do speak out, the leader dictates complete control of the situation without reporting it to the local authorities. 1 Corinth 6:1-2 is most often used to justify this: “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest laws courts?” Message pastors have no theological or counseling education and erroneously fail to understand that this passage is about settling civil cases, not criminal ones. In a criminal case, such as physical or sexual abuse, the state opposes the perpetrator in court, not the victim.

5. Jacobsen: What have been the consequences of the sexual assaulters, the rapists, and the sexual sadists abusing men and women, boys and girls, within the “Message” community?

Collins: There have been a handful of convictions in cases involving sexual abuse, usually in cases where the pastor or an elder in the church victimized others.  Because of the shaming and silencing of victims by pastors, most cases reported by former members result in little more than a slap on the wrist.  In one case, a pastor’s daughter was abusing male children in the church and was allowed to keep her position.  In other cases, the fathers were not properly reported to authorities, and continued to abuse their daughters.  Unfortunately, most of the situations described to me by former members were past the statute of limitations for the State they lived at the time.

Hamilton: Consequences for rapists and sexual assaulters is rarely appropriate for their actions.  Most are never confronted, and if they are approached by church leadership, they are usually verbally admonished in private. In the cases of the abuser being the pastor or in leadership, the victims are likely labeled liars and disregarded.  Abusers in the Message are more protected than their victims through the forced silence. The Message teaches that if the rapist or assaulter confesses, their sin is “placed under the blood of Jesus”, making them as “blameless” as if the crime literally had never happened. Therefore, anyone who speaks about it is shamed for bringing that sin “back out from under the blood”.  In some very rare instances, law enforcement may be involved with or without the pastor’s consent.

6. Jacobsen: For those who have not faced justice, how can they face it?

Hamilton: Time unfortunately impedes most abusers from facing the justice they deserve.  Victims that are now speaking out about the abuse are sometimes unfortunately past their state’s statute of limitations.  After leaving the cult, there is a processing period for de-programming and realizing that the abuse had been normalized and that justice was not served.  No matter the length of time, victims can contact their local police station or Salvation Army for resources and advocates.

Collins: The only way justice can be served is through education and accountability.  Members of any church – cult or not – must hold elders of the church to an acceptable standard of accountability.  Leaders of church bodies must be trained in how to respond to abuse, when to report abuse, and how to properly warn members of their church when another member has abusive tendencies.  As the proverbial “shepherd of the flock”, they must be held accountable to provide protection for their congregation.

At the same time, members of the church must be educated to recognize signs of abuse and recognize abuse of power.  This becomes problematic for leaders, however, in the case of a destructive cult.  In all cases where members are trained to recognize abuse of power, those same members become former members.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, John and Jennifer.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Author; Webmaster, William Branham Historical Research; Lead, Casting Pearls Project.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four) [Online].October 2019; 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, October 15). An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A, October. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A (October 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 21.A (2019):October. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with John Collins and Jennifer Hamilton on the Women in “The Message,” Casting Pearls Project, Abuse, and William Marrion Branham (Part Four) [Internet]. (2019, October 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-four.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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