Fear Christianity: The Religious Terrorism 

Of Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship And Weigh Down Workshop 

by Rev. Rafael D Martinez and Dr. Elizabeth Grace Chavez

What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope.
Publilius Syrus - Moral Sayings

Why are so many of the Remnant so fearful?

Try as they might to cast themselves as liberated and healed people free from bondage, the cold reality remains: Remnant members are a deeply fearful people who simply mask it very well. Beneath their uplifted hands and energetic worship services, beyond the bright, shining eyes of Remnant royalty who gaze into cameras and gush about how beautiful their lives are, and behind the pristine surfaces of the "Zion Curtain" there is a reality that few Remnant Fellowship members really come to terms with. 

It is the plain fact that deeply implanted fear drives their religion and spirituality as well as their personal lives. It is the proverbial elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. This unsettling human dynamic is largely responsible for much of the cited "healing" that Remnant likes to point to in its' members personal lives, which is supposed to prove its divine inspiration. The reality, however, is far more humanly centered, a reality that runs like a dark river through the places Remnant Fellowship and the Weigh Down Workshop hold social and cultural sway. The "healings" and "restorations" often heard come with a lot of string attached, namely, a potent and virulent dimension of fear that drives people into seasons of transformation and behavioral modification that just so happen to include loss of weight. In this article, we are examining how fear is the main ingredient of the cultism of Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship and Weigh Down Workshop and how it is utilized to turn ordinary God fearing people into compliant, mind controlled victims of her fear-based spirituality.  

Fear is what you experience when your deepest misgivings about hidden troubles, secret shames and private trials suddenly confront us. It is among the most powerful stimulations a person can experience, yet it is used so mundanely by every human institution under the sun, from parenting to advertising, from socializing with others to religion and politics. And to be afraid of someone or something will often change your life profoundly when that person is in a position of authority over you. Although a proper respect of one's fears can be healthy and counterbalancing, it can also become a powerful tool in the hands of unscrupulous leaders everywhere. When those wishing to dominate you are aware of what you are afraid of, they can use that human impulse against you, your will and your very soul in some of the most manipulative of compulsions known to man. Fear can be used to drive you to do anything others might command of you.  

From a Biblical perspective, the fear of God is man's privilege. What does it mean to fear God and view it as a blessing?

A healthy fear of God, according to Scripture, is part of a balanced Judeo-Christian spirituality. We learn of His divinity as the Creator of all, and of His majesty as the Holy One ruling over all creation. We behold the severity in His justice and judgment on rebellion as well as His unspeakable charity bestowed upon an unholy creation through merciful grace that belies His Triune nature. A sober, personal grasp of these divine characteristics is what the Bible describes in Proverbs 9:10 as "the fear of the LORD" which it goes on to say "is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding." Such a fear is the start of true spiritual growth in our lives, the foundations for a worshipful life devoted to honoring His glorious Being. 

As we become more familiar with God, with His handiwork in our individual lives, the spiritual distance that dread has inspired in us becomes tempered by the intimacy that His fellowship with us can bring (John 14:23). His character as a truly loving Father becomes revealed as we understand that it is actually a delight to submit to the Lordship authority He commands of us, and that obedience to His commands is not only possible but enjoyable. For when we understand His direction of our lives as we deal with our sinful nature, inner troubles, our sickened bodies and all the outrages of our fallen world itself, we see more personally just how great His Lordship truly is and how we can unhesitatingly trust it. As the saying goes, "to know Him is to love Him," and to develop our relationship with God through trusting His Son's work of salvation for us becomes more and more precious, endearing and enriching.

Those who we call "God-fearing" are people whose life is steered by observable personal convictions about the nature of God and their relationship to Him. We call them as such in deference to the moral and ethical choices they make out of their reverence and respect for His Lordship over their lives. Out of such "fear" we learn to love God for all of the blessings of life and liberty He so freely bestows upon us all, and we come to sincerely love others as the creation of His handiwork. In time, the personal morality that this inspires in us should be expressed ideally in at least the plainest of civic courtesy we extend to all people in our communities, serving them in any way we can.

In short, from the Christian perspective, fearing God means to properly realize our position as God's creation over which He has complete claim. To fear God is to maintain reverence of Him as God Almighty, and a right relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ so that His nature might be manifested in our very lives. This is what it means in the Bible to e walk in "newness of life" (Romans 6:4) as one who has been truly "born again" (John 3:3, 7).

This is the glorious Christian reality tragically perverted in the realms where Gwen Shamblin has anointed herself both dietician and prophet.

 "Mere" Christianity Or Fear "Christianity"?

Shamblin likes to calls her Weigh Down Workshop and Remnant Fellowship beliefs "mere Christianity," in her brash and clumsy attempt to associate her teachings with C.S. Lewis' own well known description of the basic tenets of Christian faith. Her convictions, however, are anything but Christian in essence. The foundations of her faith are more rooted in a phobic fear of weight and a demand for performance-based piety than a love of God in Christ by the Spirit. Whether through personal counsel or public teaching, she inevitably evokes in her followers a morbid focus on their own fears, thus compelling control of their thoughts and behaviors through her moral legalism. It is this fear-oriented leverage resorted to by Shamblin and Remnant leadership in the "shepherding" of the Remnant faithful that is often little more than an immoral coercion of their consciences. Such blatant manipulation is something Mr. Lewis never intended or alluded to in his seminal work, but it is the stock in trade tool of authoritarian cultic movements, of which Remnant Fellowship is a painfully real example.

This fear mongering begins with the very premise of the Weigh Down Workshop (WDW) itself - that fear of not having enough to eat is what drives people to overeat in the first place.  This fear is then inevitably compounded by immoral greed for food that results in bingeing and what she calls "gluttony". Let's review one of Shamblin's autobiographical vignettes in the first chapter of her 1997 book, "The Weigh Down Diet," Through recollections about her past, delivered with a disarming transparency and self-abasing humility, Shamblin drives home how her personal fears and insecurities became her undoing - and how she used her personal history to create the Weigh Down philosophy:

My father had been correct at one time about my eyes being bigger than my stomach — but by now, after years of strengthening the stomach and freely feeding my head hunger, my stomach could easily accommodate my eyes! Besides the increasing greed, fear was already a part of my life. There were four children in our family, and if I did not “get mine,” there might not be any left. I was older and freer to make my own food selections, and I had not been trained even to consider true stomach hunger and fullness. I quickly crept up five to ten pounds. The problem with even five excess pounds on my body type is that it all went to my waist and not to the area of my body that was in dire need of some extra meat—my legs! ..

.. I loved to eat and eat and eat. Although it felt good to stuff myself, I felt enslaved. As lightly or as humorously as I might describe this out-of-control situation, in reality, it was a very insecure time for me. ..

.. The ever-vigilant scales always told the truth of my wasted efforts. I had netted no weight loss. I was getting nowhere! .. It was baffling me, since I seemed to be fairly successful at other things in my life. Why couldn’t I do this? I started to feel that something was wrong with me. I started to feel like a failure for the first time in my life, and that started affecting other areas of my life. (1)

Those struggling with personal introspection over their weight problems will readily identify with Shamblin's reminiscences over her past and therefore entertain her thinking. Here, we see that fear, in her own mind, was a powerful force behind her overeating and was then reinforced by a personal lack of control she describes as greed. Her homespun reverie then engages in like manner the same kind of fears her audience struggles with in a far more personal and persuasive manner, making her teaching immediately more personally identifiable and therefore, personally applicable.

This premise, which is the foundation for her Weigh Down Workshop philosophy, is often completely missed by those who consider it. For Shamblin, this is the cornerstone of her worldview and belief system. In her whole Weigh Down dieting approach to improve one's lifestyle and self-image, you can see how many times she alludes to this, while adding her own homespun observations about the inner promptings of those struggling with their own dietary regimen:

The goal of the Weigh Down Workshop will be a decreased desire to eat large volumes of food. If you are less active because of an inability to exercise, your hunger will decrease to meet your fuel needs. You never have to fear missing an aerobics class or workout again. (2)

You have spent years disregarding your body’s signals. You need to see others who feel good from following their bodies’ signals. Pray for a focus on God and not on your fears. You will get there. (3) 

We have made eating—something intended to be enjoyable—into something complicated and burdensome. The food industry has picked up on our fears and has capitalized on them. (4)

Some participants actually open the package of cookies as they unload the newly purchased groceries and put some in a plastic bag for themselves. The family can have the rest of the package that they place in the pantry. This works well for the person who lives in fear that “If I don’t eat it now, it will be gone.” (5)

If fear that the food will be gone is driving you to eat when you are not hungry, then eliminate the source of the fear until you can have the confidence that food really is available abundantly and, more importantly, that God loves to feed you and will never let you starve. (6)

None of this, of course, is news to you if you've been a participant in Shamblin's programs in the past. It is from these seemingly on target premises that Shamblin's march down her "narrow way" begins, following her "Exodus" motif to describe permanent weight loss as a "promised land" her WDW students are to strive for.  

At first, in the "Weigh Down Diet" book, Ms. Gwen's self-disclosures of her supposedly sage-like wisdom seem to focus more upon a fear of God that sounds at once respectful and pious - but they are actually expressions of her own personal phobias and biases which she sanctifies as divine perspective that cannot be questioned. . Certainly anyone who takes a position and writes about it can speak as authoritatively as they wish;  freedom of expression is Shamblin's right. Still, her purely personal perspective claims for itself a moral and philosophical high ground which she never relinquishes throughout the whole course. Her cited life experiences and credentials are only a means to establishing this end, that of seasoned dietician, university faculty member and Proverbs 31 wife and mom of two. 

This lofty authority is supposed to be self-evident based upon her view of dietetics, human nature and religion and is essentially self-asserted. Yet it has resonated with thousands of people, assuring them that she is a Christian woman who would only speak truth in love and in balance. However, Shamblin's followers often fail to consider how much of a factor that fear was in compelling her weight loss journey or how this shadow would soon completely blacken her worldview and, hence, her teaching and practice. 

The Fear Factor Continued  

Such an ominous and troubling change of spiritual tempo became immediately evident in Shamblin’s 2000 "Rise Above" book  In it, she alternates nimbly between being an all knowing, loving mentor and a driving coach as she introduces a whole new perspective on fear.

Shamblin's dual approach is a potent combination for compelling personal transformation that strikes a deep chord in her audience. Strong voices asserting deep truths always gain a hearing. 

Imagine a nurturing Naomi Judd channeling a driving R. Lee Ermey and you can possibly see how Shamblin's example might come across with all the sweetness of the proverbial lace glove covering an iron and ruthless fist.

What many of her audience came to realize was that Shamblin's example and preaching had begun to foster and demand a deeper emotional, psychological and spiritual dependence upon her guidance within the hearts and minds of her followers. Many of those now in Remnant who have joined in the last seven years or so simply don't realize how many past WDW members saw this between 1999 and 2002. This manipulation, as well as other far darker things in Gwen's manner and vision, caused them to realize just how imbalanced her approach to spirituality had become. This perfect storm cost many of the most faithful of the Remnant Nation dearly: they became lost at sea , thinking themselves safe in a harbor that was nothing more than a monstrous maelstrom ready to drown all caught beneath it's vortex of abuse, twisted Scripture and deceptive spirituality.

That's why more than 30,000 chapters of Weigh Down evaporated in a matter of months. For all of Gwen's spinning of the incident, the fact remains that hundreds of thousands, even millions of people weighed Shamblin's presumptuous authority and found it wanting. This factual, historical event and its implications are, however, routinely ignored by Shamblin and her Remnant followers. For them, her revisionist perspective on history doesn't include a fair view of the truth behind her sect's origins.

To address the heightened sensitivities to anxiety and fear that her writing created in WDW adherents, and in her uniquely ponderous and grandiose writing style, Gwen's voice of reason in "Rise Above" became more self centered and authoritarian as seen below, if you will but carefully consider it:

The solution that was introduced in The Weigh Down Diet is to trust God with the way He made our bodies. He has created the instincts of all animals, all infants, all children, all men, and all women with the ability to sense when they have eaten too much. Man-made rules have unplugged and confused this instinct to sense fullness and appropriate volume, and they have caused us to be greedier and to expect more self-indulgence than ever before. Dieting, which is the use of man-made rules, works only on making the food behave—not the heart of man. This is big! ... (7)

We are not lacking for information now; we are hurting for motivation and heart-changing cultivation to employ God’s plan for permanent weight control. This is the book to keep by your bedside for morning motivation, to keep  on your desk at work for heart-grabbing temptations, to keep in the kitchen to convict you into a wholehearted response to the heavenly Father, and to leave by the nighttime reading chair for tearful conviction. It is full of Scripture that will soften your heart, make you satisfied with less, and therefore bring you to permanent weight control.

A major goal of this book is to introduce a holy fear of God. I am convinced this is a foundational characteristic in my heart that has moved me to obedience. Jesus delighted in the fear of God (Isa. 11:3); it cleared His mind and His path for doing God’s will daily. Second Corinthians 5:10–11a says, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether  good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. I pray the words in this book will help you develop this holy fear. I truly live for that one day called Judgment Day, and my prayer is that instead of being a dreadful day for me, this day will be romantically delightful, like a bride meeting a groom (Rev. 21:2). I picture it as a huge reception hall with everyone dressed in the most elaborate clothing. The King will spot me as I enter and allow me to walk into His presence, seeing Him face-to-face.

You are not a failure. You are a prize to be won, and there are two contenders for your heart: food (the world) and the invisible jealous God. We are a passionate people—that is why we will see people anywhere from twenty to three hundred pounds or more overweight. This represents our longing, our passion, and our lust. We salivate for more. Passion is not the problem. Our problem is where we direct our passion and our hearts, and where we are grabbing for more.

Dear weary ones, God can make you thin. Don’t give up. (8)

By making these grandiose assumptions about how the fear of God should engage personal fears of being overweight, Shamblin intentionally taps into the deepest concerns of her audience in order to exploit them. Alternating between the soft strokes of gentle admonition to the whip crack of forceful demands, Shamblin's modus operandi is clear to anyone with a basic understanding of human psychology. The Judd-Ermey persona I suggested a moment ago was not an idle joke. She employs behavioral modification through positive and negative reinforcement all the while exploring and probing her audiences' spiritual, emotional and personal boundaries with her presumptuous teaching and preaching. She sobers her potential recruits with a frightening review of social diseases both in the world and the church and how powerless they've been to deal with them in their own lives. 

After indoctrinating them through their interaction with the Remnant culture with the fear of being overweight and with unquestioning trust in her ability to relieve them from their fears using "God's laws", Shamblin then drives home her true agenda. She uses her views on fearing God and hating sin to warn her followers, supposedly from the Bible, that there will only be a "remnant" of people on the earth who will please God and trust Him enough to follow what she claims are his appointed boundaries in terms of hunger and fullness, holiness and profanity. She paints a shining, radiant vision of a perfect land called Zion where God is exalted, the people are pure, the children obedient, and the faith of its inhabitants is undefiled by the carnality and sin of the age. It's a refuge of the steadfast "remnant" of true Christians, holding their own in a world doomed to judgment, a land of attractive, well dressed and slimmed-down men and women all too ready to extend their undying love to you - once you join in their quest to remain "pure" by becoming a baptized member of Remnant.

 Shamblin's approach brings to mind one of the most disturbing scenes from George Orwell's classic novel "1984." A mass political rally regularly attended by members of an authoritarian society  Oceania is engineered to incite violent expressions of outrage from them directed at the country at war with them, Eurasia, and against a hated political enemy, one Emmanuel Goldstein. Called the "Two Minute Hate," the meeting involves accounts of the treachery, evil and abominations committed by them as depicted in propagandized programming everyone views and reacts to. Images of Goldstein speaking are drowned out by their roars of rage against him and his oratory which are paid no attention to whatsoever.. Suddenly it is abruptly interposed with a soldier firing a machine gun marching directly at the audience who had been screaming  denunciations only a few seconds before and they are momentarily startled by the violence. Then the imagery of the heretic and his executioner is then abruptly contrasted with a fade into the benevolent portrait of Oceania's godlike ruler, Big Brother. The relief and joy is palpable, resulting in a "deep sigh of relief from everybody" that becomes a veneration of him in a communal chant of his initials in what is clearly adoration and reverence ("B-B ... B-B...").

In Shamblin's spiritual dogmatizing, the same thing occurs. She moves between playing upon the primal terrors she's elicited with her effective teaching, then smoothly, sharply counterbalancing it with the "divine" relief concocted through her Weigh Down and Remnant enterprises. To impressionable people seeking spiritual and physical change involving their very bodies and souls, this alternating current of transformative influence impacts them in ways impossible to underestimate. Scores of ex-WDW and ex-RF members have pointed to this group dynamic as the most personally difficult and damaging to move beyond after having left the groups. It is a shrewd, seductive proselytizing ploy for Shamblin's "remnant" vision that is a wile no different than what any other cult uses.

In essence, this is a literal phobia indoctrination, an intentional conditioning by the use of fear. This indoctrination shapes your view of life through the reaction to the fears instilled in you by a mentoring/parental figure. This mortal fear directly influences your every choice, your every moment, your every heartbeat and even every decision you'll make in life. The fear imparted into your thought life dominates it as stealthily as a computer virus would infiltrate a computer's operating system, controlling your thinking and therefore your behavior. It becomes abundantly clear in WDW and RF circles that the incorporation of this kind of dread into your own soul can only be alleviated by embracing her own set of biases to escape its terrors, by submitting to Shamblin’s authority and by dismissing the perspectives of others around you (such as non-RF/WDW husbands, parents, friends and family).

Shamblin's fear-mongering only escalates as she continues to write:

In my experience and in my opinion, it is best to work out this relationship with God with fear and trembling. Show some respect. (9)

One participant .. asked God to make it clear to her—very clear .. (wanting) to know if overeating was indeed a sin. She thought she needed to see the word sin associated with overeating. She needed to see it in black and white. After praying for God to convict her, she opened her Bible (or let her Bible fall open) to the allegory in Ezekiel 16, where God referred to Israel as a baby girl whom He raised, loved, and clothed. But then she became a prostitute. The passage states, Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned (Ezek. 16:49). Well, there it was—the verse where sin and being overfed were linked. It moved the participant to repentance. There are others who have told me of times they have felt overfed and unconcerned, so they cried out to God to scare them, so to speak, to put this holy fear back in their hearts. They knew they had be-come too casual with Him, and we cannot allow this to happen, for Isaiah 8:13a tells us, The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear. (10)

The Israelites were fearful at Mount Sinai. What kind of fear do you have of God? Are you afraid because you know you have been disobedient, or do you have the fear of God that will keep you from sinning? Our God is very powerful. Commit yourself daily to obey His will for you that day. (11)

This new remnant, through Joshua, would cry out, As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord! (Josh. 24:15b). This remnant had seen God’s wrath, and they rejoiced in the fear of the Lord. (12 )

Finally, God ended this exclusive relationship with Jerusalem and decided to allow any willing to hear—even the Gentiles—to have a chance at this wholehearted, fearful but loving relationship with Him. (13)

The first Christians correctly worshiped seven days a week in public places and from home to home. They grew in number and were unified because they didn’t establish a kingdom on every corner under a different name. And there was only one church, with one set of elders or shepherds, per city—even when there were 1.5 million people in Rome and 650,000 in Corinth. That was the new picture of the New Jerusalem, and God was going to walk among His people and be in His people. Now He could have this relationship that He had been longing for. (14 )

.. Hear me when I say that God is shaking us all up now as we begin the twenty-first century to help us to restore this true picture of the church. Recently, God did a mighty shaking inside me that has led me out of complacency and contentment with the way things are. He has opened up my eyes to see the current state of His church and to warn all of the judgment that we are now under. John 9:39 tells us, Jesus said, For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’ In other words, many will recognize this counterfeit religion, and many will not.

He is calling His church to unify. People can do that—buildings cannot. He is calling the called out to repentance, and He is calling all lambs to understand this holy priesthood—that they are to be pure and holy in this choice of devotion. Instead of relying on a few people in the front of the building to lead us in worship, He is calling for us to get the foundations right in our hearts—in this temple (the body)—and for us to grow up because God is judging the counterfeit church. (15)

While Gwen sees this kind of preaching as "telling truth," it actually is little more than a brazenly manipulative exploitation of the inner fears among the Weigh Down and Remnant communities she effectively dominates, people already inclined and conditioned to respond to them. The church, an institution she shows nothing but contempt for, is one of the chief whipping posts she encourages others to fear and hate as well. It becomes quickly obvious that the church is far from the only one that Shamblin leads people to revulsively fear and hate. Not surprisingly, other objects of Shamblin's scorn center around therapeutic institutions that might compete with her own self-help mummery, such as other weight loss programs, weight reduction procedures, support groups not focused on her phobic ideology, the usage of anti-depressant medications and even professional counseling itself. She systematically narrows down for her followers any option of independent thought or action contrary to her own "advice", phrased in "suggestions" that are implicitly understood to be followed as a course of corrective action.

This fear factor of Shamblin's religion and the church culture she has created in Remnant Fellowship is magnified to an even greater degree when the usage of her handpicked leaders follow her mandate to purge their fold of "sin." To achieve the moral purity that Shamblin deems essential to true spirituality, she anoints her RF or WDW leadership figures as her chosen channels for valid objective truth, being a part of the hierarchy of authority she calls the "authority line."  Under such intrusive and authoritarian governance based upon peer pressure and shaming, WDW and RF members then reject alternative perspectives about life as invalid or immoral and, out of a real fear of displeasing God, they cut themselves off from the wisdom and input of people outside their groups. This is very real group isolation by indoctrination - while they don't live in a compound apart from the larger world, RF/WDW members effectively shut themselves socially away from it in this manner, and they do so out of fear of displeasing "Ms. Gwen", her inner circle and the leadership they directly control.   

This coercive form of "correction" is explained in excruciating detail by a former member of Remnant:

“Leadership” bases this correction upon I Corinthians 5:12. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13.God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you. Most of Gwen’s teachings revolve around this Scripture. She teaches one to judge another person under the pretense of lovingly correcting them. Fear and manipulation is the motivation behind people “dropping their sins”.  For example, a member since the very beginning of Remnant Fellowship, three years into being a part of this fellowship, burst into tears because she had overeaten and felt she was going to go to hell. It begins subtly with the fear of God by what God might do to you if you overeat in Weigh Down and then leads into all other areas of a person’s life. Gwen says this is not a works oriented fellowship, but you tell, me, is this legalism or not?

..  After two years of receiving “correction” and “correcting” others myself, I became fearful and oppressed, wondering when I was going to receive that dreaded call from “leadership” about not living up to man’s standards. Every Remnant member has this underlying fear. FEAR of “leadership” which in turn equals God, is the motivation to laying down their strongholds, which is what they call the “fruit” (16).

A former member's testimony readily attests to this in the most heartbreaking of ways in a recounting of 12 ways this abusive church readily exploits fear for control:

Fear is used in many ways in Remnant. Some of the fears I learned through the classes and sermons are:

1. Fear of gaining my weight back after losing it.

2. Fear of disappointing God by gaining weight or overeating.

3. Fear that overeating by one bite is a sin.

4. Fear that continuing to sin by overeating will not be tolerated by God and that He will get to a point where He will no longer forgive me or have a relationship with me, turning His back on me if I am overweight.

5. Fear that I am bringing sin into the camp (Remnant Fellowship) by overeating and endangering the other saints, because God will not bless us if I continue to sin.

6. Fear of having Gwen or any of the leadership to approach me and correct me about my weight.

7. Fear of not eating the right thing or the right amount when eating in front of other Remnant members.

8. Fear of never being good enough, thinking everyone else was doing well and I was never going to "get it."

9. Fear that if the many long time members I saw who got up and confessed in a worship service about gaining back some of their weight couldn't keep it off, then I would never be successful in keeping my own weight off.

10. Fear of God not loving me anymore.

11. Fear of not being able to worship anywhere else, if I left, because all other churches were said to be counterfeit.

12. Fear of going to weddings or funerals for family or friends not in Remnant, because it is forbidden to attend because the religious part of the ceremonies are counterfeit and not pleasing to God. 

I was told when I considered leaving Remnant, that things would only get worse for me, if I left. Gwen would tell us that if we left Remnant, we would gain all of our weight back, because we were no longer surrounded by like minded people. (meaning the saints) And because we were turning our backs on God and his one true church.

At the end, before I left, my fear was that I would never be able to get things right before God. I couldn't live up to the things I was being taught in Remnant and so I was a failure to the leadership and to God. I felt like I would take one step forward and two steps back. I was obsessed about my appearance and how much I was eating and then I began to wonder if anything I was doing in my life was right before God or not? Did God even care about me anymore? 

I must be a really bad person to not be able to keep my weight off. 

I would see others in Remnant and in the classes doing great and they were so happy, but I wasn't, I was miserable, and depressed. Every class and sermon focused on weight, being submissive to the line of authority, and being pure. I was good in being submissive, but believed myself not to be pure, because of my weight struggles.

Fear can destroy a person from the inside out, and I have experienced that as a member of Remnant.

This member's painful testimony is hardly an isolated example. Their experience is shared by many current as well as former members of Weigh Down Workshop classes and Remnant Fellowship members and the extent of this personal intrusion into Christian liberty and personal conscience is profoundly disturbing. It illustrates how the "holiness" of "Permanent Weight Loss & The Solution to All Addictions" is actually achieved and what it will cost those aspiring to it. No other civil, moral or spiritual objectives can exist apart from Remnant's direct control, indeed, as Remnant has cast it for its membership, the world is a far more fearful place away from the "tender mercies" of their fellowship that likens itself to be a "Zion."  And this is the bitter truth behind the alluring promise to reveal "the secrets to losing weight quickly and permanently while finding a new relationship with God" (18).

The New Masks Of Fear

Since the dawn of the Remnant Fellowship era, Shamblin has used dietary license, religious legalism and relentless marketing of the need for a "perfect church" to further suspend the better judgment of her audiences. Beginning with her "Weigh Down Advanced" (WDA) courses, Shamblin's phobia indoctrination continues to this day as seen in her fear-oriented WDW curricula. Her skill in concealing this has grown over the years: the heavy-handed and ominous undertone of the WDA has been cunningly obscured by her subsequent product line additions, namely the "Last Exodus", "Exodus Out Of Egypt: The Change Series", "Breakthrough" and "Legend To The Treasure." 

Each course, which is essentially a rehashing of her WDW philosophy and spirituality, is written with emphases that are rife with this unhealthy dimension of indoctrinating pressure. The targeted audiences for Shamblin's product line are all people already troubled by carnal perfectionism and pious obsession with one's "temple" - namely overweight people and her WDW/RF flocks. And Gwen expects her followers to not only agree with her fear-ridden view of God's severity but to adopt it into their own mindset with all of the spiritual, emotional and philosophical implications such fearful assumptions will personally bring to them.

Obsessed as she is with a desire to lead people in a church she would head and control, Shamblin has been repainting her entire WDW superstructure with all the bright colors her marketing successes could display. Gaining exposure on national and local TV markets provides for her new opportunities for market share. Such publicity is color coordinated seamlessly with the  promotional scheme of her Remnant programming, down to the "Before/After" photos, the teary testimonies by glowing, well dressed members, and the supremely self-assured visage of a beaming Gwen "loving on" her followers. But beneath it all to this day are the beautifully concealed snares of fear and dread Gwen had set for her audience to walk into. 

Shamblin has long known what she is doing. By continually making these fear-invoking moral and social codes binding upon all who join her Remnant movement, beginning with a rebaptism, she has established in essence a new body of pseudochristian religious law. Drawing from her obsession with Old Testament Judaism's perspective on Yahweh, and by adapting Jewish festivals and holy days out of her fertile religious imagination, Gwen Shamblin has - as she likes to point out through what others say about her - become a Lawgiver of a Remnant "Law" that her flock is to enthusiastically keep. 

In effect, she has become a modern day Ebionite, having created her own diet-oriented religion and culture, complete with its' own unique customs, rules and language using reinterpreted Christian and Jewish terminology.

 Many WDW and RF members and their families, tragically, never knew what hit them when they were seduced out of their Christian churches into this new cultic one. They smile and reckon themselves to be a "pure" and "free" people, but bear within themselves hidden wells of apprehension, terror and anxiety all the while hiding it so well from their fellow members of Zion. They are people of scarred and burnt out conscience in Remnant who will stand by it no matter what outrage of principle and practice evolves there, primarily because they are too petrified or fearful to come to grips with the consequences of freedom from it - namely the loss of their Remnant spouses, friends, even job connections and family circles. 

This supreme terror that binds the tongue and shackles the consciences of the faithful in Remnant is a horrible bondage as literal as any actual fetters of iron. Afraid of losing their children, their friendships, their livelihoods, their very souls in spite of their inner struggles over the confusion, double standards and doctrinal twisting they've seen, many have resigned themselves to remaining under Shamblin's control. So to allay their fears, no matter how contradictory they finally realize their belief system to be and how hypocritical they may feel in practicing it, they persist in their stubborn, defiant obedience and submission to it. 

A lifestyle dominated by Scripture twisted out of context and doctrinal fantasy, a mind-controlling culture where groupthink is the norm and hidden in plain sight by beaming pictures of young and old: this is supposed to be the abundant "Christian" life in the gospel according to Gwen Shamblin, a gospel heralding fear, terror and humiliation. Life in such a world of subtly imposed religious terror makes the brutal Islamic legalism seen in the Taliban almost pale in comparison: there is no greater terror than that inflicted upon you by those most trusted in your life.  

The Good News Versus "The Message"

The Christian faith did not begin in a vacuum: it is the final and complete fulfillment of the revelation of divine truth first given to the nation of Israel before and during its journey through the ancient Middle East and fully revealed in the person and gospel of Jesus Christ Himself. The Greek word gospel literally means "good news."  And what good news it is indeed, heralding God's completion of His great quest to save mankind from itself! Most lamentably, God's divine initiative to bring Himself and sinful man together at the cost of Christ's death on the Cross is what Remnant Fellowship piously ignores by the fear-mongering of its blonde "prophet". While the eternal holiness of God's nature has never changed, how men can approach such a holy Creator actually has. And this precious truth is what the religious slaves of Gwen Shamblin never truly see - because they've been taught to shut their eyes to the Gospel truth that Jesus died for them to receive.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, as God introduced Himself as a holy and righteous God at Mount Sinai to ancient Israel He instilled in His people a healthy respect for the vast chasm that exists between His holiness and and their imperfection.  This has been the greatest issue to confront sinful humanity throughout the ages - this same distance is still set between Him and us due to our sin and sinfulness that defies His holy essence. It was Israel's diligent intent at keeping the letter of His law, as given to Moses, which was God’s divine remedy to make it possible to approach Him once more - even if their example eventually showed how miserably they failed to do so (Nehemiah 8-10). In response to this tragic national failure, at God's direction the prophets foretold the coming of a Savior who would finally resolve the issue of sinful humanity once and for all through His Lordship and final sacrifice for sin (Genesis 48:10, Hebrews 10:10-23). 

The New Testament, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, God the Son, became God's final Word on not only who He was, but what He commanded all humanity to do: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15). When Peter received his heavenly vision to take the gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles shortly after Christ ascended into heaven, God showed how determined he was for humanity to understand their need to return to Him by accepting the Lordship of His Son over their lives. This Biblical invitation to embrace God's wonderful mercy in Christ now stands for all men to accept or reject.

History and human nature have abundantly revealed that man can't fulfill the demands of His law perfectly, as we have seen time and again in the Biblical account. Our sinful human nature has us bent irrevocably towards breaking it; no matter how determined we are to do otherwise.  The Bible's illumination on the depravity of man as set forth by the apostle Paul is painfully blunt:

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips .. (Romans 3:9-13) 

Remnant Fellowship's exaltation of its sacred science, a perfect doctrine called "the Message", boldly presumes its members as being able to "rise above" their fundamentally sinful human nature and engages in all of the doctrinal and practical novelties that Gwen Shamblin bids them to perform to do so. The whole of Remnant's religious feast keeping involves demands for both public and private introspection over its sins and moral failings. Even RF leaders aren't exempted from being set before the group to engage in self-criticisms involving confession of sin aimed at sending warning to the rank and file that their sin will find them out.  Such public admonitions for Remnant to purify itself by endless reapplications of Shamblin's commands are a pathetic yet cautionary warning they just don't seem to recognize: in the end, they are no different than any other sinful people and they still do sin!   That is Paul's entire point in Romans 3:9-13 and in verses 14-18 as well as that of John's sobering admonition:

Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8) 

The perfect keeping of the law is achieved only by a perfect practice of the deeds of the law. It is at this point that all of the "Remnant law" keeping utterly fails both Gwen Shamblin and her flock. They stubbornly and desperately lay crushing burdens of piety upon their hearts, minds and bodies to purify themselves and congratulate themselves behind their "success" at meeting a target weight that proves they've "arrived."  

But they can never rest on these laurels, never truly take comfort from all of their well intended starving, socializing, self-criticism, religious bullying, and Bible reading. Why? Their "Remnant law" are the commandments of human tradition turned into a new body of religious laws decreed by Gwen Shamblin and not Yahweh.. She continually keeps calling these social customs she imposes upon her followers "God's laws," when they are anything but. They have nothing to do with Old Testament law, which, as we have seen, cannot help either.  

Continuing in Romans 3:19-20, Paul says that 

.. We know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

He further explains in Galatians 5:1-5 by contrasting law keeping with trust in the grace of God instead:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

It is impossible to please God by appropriating any part or the whole of the law itself, no matter which part of it we arbitrarily decide is the most important to our particular doctrine. Paul's plain meaning is abundantly clear here: if one seeks benefit from the practice of the law of Moses, then all of it is to be practiced. The keeping of the feasts and holy days of Israel have, for millenia, very specific procedures and practices to be adhered to. This is something that Shamblin and her leaders have never done. As far as I know, Remnant has never sacrificed a single animal for any peace offerings or the sealing of covenants with God and man, which are all commanded by the Law in Scripture. Sinful or wayward family members have never been literally stoned to death yet. The actual blood of sacrificial lambs has never been actually applied to any lintels of any Remnant member's homes during their observation of the "Passover" as a ritual remembrance of God's deliverance. These and so many other strict practices are completely absent from Remnant religion, revealing the unbelievably ragged spiritual impoverishment that Shamblin and Remnant labor under, showing how far from the grace of God they actually are, substituting fanciful religious piety and cuddling for adherence to Yahweh's law. 

 That "grace" is given to us by trust in the freedom from sin that faith in Christ alone gives, a "grace" that is frustrated and made completely powerless to save us when any kind of trust in the details of keeping religious law occur. That is the sobering Gospel truth that a  people conditioned to work for their salvation do not want to hear, do not want to consider, and will do all that they can to ignore. 

While many persist in their wilful blindness, however, there are also just as many who earnestly long for deliverance from the terror and burden of keeping a "Remnant law" that they intuitively know will not save them. Having once known peace by trust in grace, they now labor under bondage to compliance with Shamblin's legal code. They dimly realize this while never admitting it to themselves, knowing deep within that they are still daily confronted by their own sin. The apostle John summarizes this as the fate of any sinner separated from God in Christ by their sin:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4 )

It's the testimony of God's Word that makes clear to such broken people that the one true God never left us to live a life of frustration and fear. He loves us just where we are, at whatever weight we might be, at whatever struggle with sin we may be under and His plan includes a provision for all mankind (including Remnant Fellowship) to be delivered from its own fear, from its own dread, from its own shame. Knowing that we are unable to ever sufficiently fulfill the letter of the Jewish law or any other, God's wonderful deliverance is a plan is spelled out in that wonderful word of grace:: 

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed… through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3: 21-24).

Is it too much to ask to be filled with peace and joy in our walk with Christ? Not at all! This is part of the abundant life we are to experience through the Good News of Jesus Christ and missed completely by the "Message." His sacrifice was totally sufficient “to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1:20). Peace has been made. Peace has been given to us and all fear is cast out through the personal visitation of Jesus Christ to the lonely places where our sin, shame and weakness has exiled us:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  (John 14:27) 

As those who have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1). 

Despite all the scorn Shamblin heaps upon what she mockingly calls a "false grace" message, it is clear she completely and utterly rejects the freedom that faith in Jesus Christ alone brings. Out of such faith comes our desire to manifest the fruit of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22 with James 2:14-18) that reveals His life-changing presence. The Christian life is not to be a journey of fearful perfectionism “for God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33). Once we grasp the implications of living by faith in the freely given grace of Jesus and not by the workings of religious piety alone, there is freedom to “speak and act like those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom. For judgment is merciless for the one who shows no mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12-13, NASB)

The Wake Up Call Has Come

Not long ago a religious organization was very much like Remnant Fellowship, teaching a grotesquely twisted perversion of Christianity that also involved total obedience to an "apostle" with unquestioned authority and the keeping of their own "laws."  In an all too rare visitation of God's grace upon their community of faith, they came to recognize that it was teaching erroneous doctrines resulting in abusive leadership and legalism that enslaved its members in fear. Through a difficult transition of doctrinal change, people began to realize that their salvation did not depend on keeping a list of rules but on the grace of God. Listen to what happened as recounted by their leadership:

Something unexpected also happened: Many members, after struggling to understand the doctrinal change, began to experience a new sense of peace and joy through a renewed faith in Jesus Christ. Their identity was in him, not in the particular laws they kept  … Members focused more on their relationship with Jesus Christ; they also had an increased interest in worship. Organizationally, the doctrinal changes had catastrophic results. But spiritually, they were the best thing that ever happened to us. (19)

The organization itself lost half its members who could not accept the plain fact that their church had been engaged in the creation of false doctrine and practice that had deeply distorted the Christian faith and kept so many of them fearfully bound to religious lawkeeping. Thankfully, it embraced the arduous and painful path toward seeking the truth behind what they'd been taught and fought to rebuild their faith on Biblical foundations. 

Could such a thing happen in Remnant Fellowship? Could Gwen Shamblin wake up out of her delusional belief, shed the hardness of her heart, recognize how far astray she's led thousands to live, and repent of her errors? Would she have the moral courage to swallow her pride and face the music, that is to say, the implications of her dysfunctional spirituality and leadership? Would any of her "Remnant royalty" leadership be daring enough to press the issue of the failure of her "Message" to truly change lives in their community and not let go? How much of the firestorm of controversy would Shamblin be ever willing to embrace even if she recognized how truly self-deceived, destructive and antichristian her church's leadership has become in an effort to truly change?

Anything is possible with God. But one thing is certain: as it stands now, the "Message" of Remnant Fellowship as force fed into it for too long by Ms. Gwen is wrong, hideously and grotesquely wrong. Far too many people have been spiritually, psychologically and socially devastated by the false teaching and toxic influence of Gwen Shamblin for me to conclude anything else. At the heart of her message is fear and not faith. And fear is the complete opposite of a real faith. No one ever learns to completely trust a God that they utterly dread. Shamblin's fearful example is no model of true Christian faith, but of a paranoia that is hell bent on replicating itself in anyone it can control and dominate.  

In my (Rafael) capacity as a Christian minister with a burden for countering cultic activity, I have had many opportunities throughout the years to study, assess and firmly grasp the belief systems of many such groups. By far, Remnant Fellowship's "fear Christianity" is among one of the most unbelievably warped systems of cultic authoritarianism I've ever seen. It's religious terrorism is supposed to be the kind of abundant life Jesus Christ died to give those who trust Him. Instead, it fosters pride, arrogance and judgmentalism and utterly crushes freedom of conscience, true faith in God and real peace in one's soul. It is alien to the Word of God, a dogma with an antichristian spirit that resists the person and work of the Holy Spirit and set forth "another Jesus" that has nothing to do with New Testament Christian faith whatsoever. 

As I've said in the past and have actually seen lived out by some of those who've endured its cruelties, if Remnant's god and religion are "the truth", then the choice to live life as an atheist is perfectly understandable. If God and faith are actually as Shamblin and Remnant present it, being an irreligious person having nothing to do with the church is the most painless exit from that vicious scene. These are the saddest consequences of living on the edge of a cult's poisonous doctrine and practice, especially if one truly wanted to believe in something larger than themselves and lost all connection or trust in faith in Him, His Word and His Son. Far from being a holy lawgiver leading God's people out of bondage and into a life of faith, Shamblin's stature truly is every bit that of a false prophet whose unbiblical teaching overthrows real trust in God.

The alternative is far better. May God illuminate the hearts and minds of those who continue to be enslaved by Shamblin's fearful faith and help them realize that the more excellent way of faith in Christ alone still remains for them to return to. For Jesus alone is the way, the truth and life, the only one who can bring them back to God again. It is His yoke that is easy and His burden that is light, the one He holds out for all who are weakened, burnt out, and despairing of life itself as they totter under the crushing weight of Remnant religion (Matthew 11:28-30). The way back to God is not through association with any church under the sun but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. He is the path back to spiritual and personal freedom that the fearful slaves of Gwen Shambin urgently need to reconsider, even as the house of cards she rules in Franklin, Tennessee continues to wobble with the defection of increasing numbers of members and leaders.

The Word of God has a sobering warning about Shamblin's "Mere Christianity": something those contemplating involvement with it would do well to remember.   

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. 

He that feareth is not made perfect in love.   

1 John 4:18 


(1)    Shamblin, Gwen. The Weigh Down Workshop (Doubleday, 1997), p. 14, 15, 16

(2)    ibid, p. 32

(3)    ibid, p. 55

(4)    ibid, p. 78

(5)    ibid, p. 86-87

(6)    ibid, p. 87

(7)    Shamblin, Gwen. Rise Above (Thomas Nelson, 2000), p. 4

(8)    ibid, p. 5-6

(9)    ibid, p. 237-238

(10)  ibid, p. 161  Contrary to Gwen and her student's assertions, Ezekiel 16:49, when taken in the full context of the chapter is not an indictment of overeating as an ironclad sign of spiritual apostasy. This is an example of imputing guilt by association to back one's personal biases, not sound interpretation of the Bible - an example that Shamblin's twisting of Scriptural truth has long been established in her "ministry."

The participant was already looking for something that would prove that to overeat was a sin before God, a concept Shamblin obviously had impressed upon her and their class. It delighted Shamblin to be able to point to this woman's conviction about what she thought she needed to see as opposed to what the verse in context actually meant.. Shamblin emphasizes this as she writes that "she thought she needed to see the word sin associated with overeating .. she needed to see it in black and white."  Here, we see that both they held a mutual assumption about sin in relationship to food for which the Bible was used to "prove" beyond any shadow of doubt.. But one can use the Bible to "prove" a lot of personal convictions, which is why so much diversity, non-conformity and division exists in Christendom today. It doesn't mean that every interpretation is correct and that is especially the case here.

The question revolves around whether their assumption about overeating and sin is legitimately based upon sound Biblical precept. In this case, Shamblin's student takes the verse at face value the same way Shamblin herself had and automatically assumes that "overeating" was sinful and that the Bible said so. While overindulgence is a sign of carnal license here and in other places in the Bible, the context of Ezekiel's prophecy was to record the word of the Lord, in which Yahweh indicts Jerusalem, Samaria and Sodom for their apostasy against Him. This was a complete societal rebellion against any godly restraint, a rejection of His law that regulated the diet as well as one's sexual and interpersonal desires. The sin of Sodom involved a complete abandonment to gluttonous impulse in which ravenous appetites ran wild. The kind of "surfeiting" and "gluttony" that took place in the ancient world was an orgy of frenzied degree that often led to dire physical illness and injury as well as a general deadening to spiritual and physical restraint (as warned against by Jesus in Luke 21:32). While such gluttonous behavior then harmed one's self and others, Yahweh's judgment was not specifically aimed at "overfeeding" as much as the underlying uncontrolled lust that inspired it. Many people today are dominated by the same kind of excess today in other areas like money, sex, relationships and material things, and as we study Ezekiel 16 along with the many other verses mentioned in the Bible about overindulgence, we find that God's decrees against them are binding upon all who give in to it in any form. The world is under His judgment for its rejection of His righteousness and mercy extended to it and its devotion to gross carnality.  That is the central truth of Ezekiel 16, a sobering point Shamblin and her student miss by their narrow association of sin with "overfeeding."   

The problem of excess weight in modern Western society isn't caused by the kind of grotesque surfeiting that the ancient societies such as Sodom engaged in which we've described above. They are caused primarily by the intake of excessively fatty foods and our sedentary lifestyle as well as emotional eating stemming from stress and physiological factors that stifle bodily metabolism, thus leading to retention of body fat. These are the primary reasons why people are overweight and even grossly obese. We won't argue the point that there are people who are out of control of food due to a deep and morbid obsession with it that does stem from uncontrolled desire, and for them, this could truly be a manifestation of sin which should be addressed by loving counsel (Romans 14:1), but this is not what is behind the struggles of the vast amount of overweight people seeking weight loss. To assert so, as Shamblin does, is more proof of how out of touch with reality she actually is and more documentation as to her cultic black and white worldview. In fact, people coming to a Weigh Down encounter are among the millions of Americans who do make efforts to lose weight by self control of a hundred different diet persuasions and have typically been exercising, dieting and pursuing self-control for many years! Listening to the testimonies of many RF members online proves that abundantly as well.

Shamblin exploits the misguided conclusion of her student to "prove" that Ezekiel 16:49 shows that "overeating is a sin" to further the phobic angle of her religion and philosophy. There can't be anything more terrifying for an obese man or woman to discover in the midst of their WDW class busywork what Shamblin teaches, that they are actually sinful objects of God's wrath because of their being overweight. The fear imparted to one's very body mass index by such a grotesquely unfounded claim certainly are potent ways to drive them in to deeper obedience to the arbitrary demands of their Weigh Down group coordinators. Because they want to keep the warm glow of fellowship around them and become like their skinnier, hipper and "holier" new friends, especially the "victorious" Ms. Gwen, it is a diabolically powerful motivation to stick with the diet as well as the relationships they've formed, no matter how abusive they become. This is life in the Cultworld - and the band played on.

(11)  ibid, p. 223

(12) ibid, p. 276

(13)  ibid, p. 280 

(14) ibid, p. 284

(15)  ibid, p. 284-285

(16) Excerpt from a private email of a former RF member on file.

(17) Excerpt from a private email of another ex-RF member on file.

(18) It is the classic bait and switch technique, the proverbial carrot on a stick. The bait dangled like a carrot before prospects is the promise of permanent weight loss and personal transformation using Shamblin's "mere Christianity" as the guidelines, made as accessible as possible even for those who "aren't spiritual" (using her dictum that "religion is simply what you adore.")  This luring doesn't impose such draconian control immediately but over time as WDW/RF prospects become indoctrinated and socialized into their chosen level of involvement. In time, these ideals becomes the exalted goals dangled before them as the true social agenda becomes imposed, one that involves "insider doctrine" that reshapes the individual with an entirely new worldview that uses ruthless control of mind and behavior hidden in plain sight. No one would join a cult if its abuses were so visible or its real values actually trumpeted in their face. 

(19) http://www.gci.org/aboutus/history

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