Article

Mark Prophet, The Man and the Myth: Part 1

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Mark Prophet with followers c. 1965

I have recently read Alex Reichardt’s flamboyantly fictional account of his years with Mark Prophet All For the Love of God, and his interpretation of the events at the origins of the Summit Lighthouse. I will have much to say later about the true implications of Reichardt’s Paul-Bunyanesque spiritual tall tale, having compiled a dozen pages of detailed notes.

In the meantime, until I can get that book review completed, I’m posting another document in several parts. It’s something I think all CUT members and ex-members should read and digest. It was written in March 1999 by Peter J. Arnone, one of the original staff members during those same founding years. Arnone worked right alongside Reichardt, and has since left the church and become one of its biggest critics.

Because of my atheism, Arnone’s hostility originally directed at TSL and CUT now extends to me personally. Recently, on the Amazon site, as part of his review of Prophet’s Daughter, he has publicly spoken of me as being "damaged." As evidence of that damage, he claims I’ve turned out just like my parents: "A guru in his own right, he has become the high priest of his own church of atheism, Black Sun."

Arnone’s charge is profoundly ridiculous. There is no church. I run an opt-in site for rational inquiry which people are free to visit or not. I volunteer my time, there are no membership requirements, nor has anyone ever been asked for money. Atheism, agnosticism and deism are philosophical not religious positions. All three reflect a logical response to the total lack of evidence for gods or masters. As an atheist and a former minister, I point out the shortcomings of belief and cite the damage it causes. I forcefully argue for objectivity, philosophical precision, and the efficacy of the scientific method. I have no desire to be a "guru," or lead anyone. I encourage independence of thought in all areas.

To underscore the fact that I don’t shy away from difficult information, nor take things personally, I’ve decided to finally post Arnone’s full story about my parents here on BSJ (it used to be posted elsewhere on the web). In the interest of posterity and truth, his important document deserves–in fact needs–to be read. That Arnone may have failed to take the final step away from irrational faith does not in any way diminish the importance of this work.

One disclaimer: Arnone uses insults and epithets toward my father that make me cringe. He often doesn’t separate his opinions from fact. I agree with his basic message and conclusions. Though I was just a young boy, I can vouch for the truth of at least some of the events he describes. Still, I wish he would have realized that the story itself is bad enough, and did not need any embellishment. Bitter personal attacks like calling my dad a "chowder head" an "ass" or a "born loser" added nothing to the account. Still, given the gravity of the situation and the severity of the manipulations my parents employed, I can see why Arnone was angry.  And angry or not, he is mostly right about my parents abuses and outlandish claims. I have to respect that he took the time to commit his thoughts to paper, and braved a great deal of animosity from church members for doing so.

Please keep the following in mind as you read this story: Whatever Arnone’s concept of God may have been, it was his desire to follow God’s representatives which made him a sitting duck for my parents schemes. Arnone must acknowledge that it was my parents’ awareness of this near-universal desire for divine contact and guidance which provided the opening into his world. When they claimed to be the "two witnesses," people ate out of their hands. It was like they were handing candy to babies. All the manipulations in the world would have fallen on deaf ears if not for their successful pretense of divine revelation.

Until Arnone accepts this fact, he has not learned the most valuable lesson about CUT. Nor has he become objective. He can still be swayed with the wind, and is therefore still vulnerable to the "true religions" of other "God pushers." The story of self-abdication could repeat itself for him the next time a particularly imaginative preacher tickles his fancy.

 


Mark L. Prophet – The Man and the Myth – Part 1 – by Peter Arnone

March, 1999

Preface

This narrative is a portrait of a cult founder and leader. Church Universal and Triumphant has been a destructive cult since its inception. Founded by Mark L. Prophet in 1958 by its original name the Summit Lighthouse, this pseudo-church has been responsible for bringing turmoil, confusion, and sorrow into the lives of countless devoted members for over forty years. It has undermined marriages, broken families, and so disaffected young people, it has turned them away from God. The questions must be answered why Mark Prophet pursued his self-serving dictatorial role, and how he was able to establish his dictatorship. What was the formula for this religious charlatan’s success? What was his ultimate goal? And what policies, practices, and attitudes that he set in motion survive in C.U.T. to the present?

Peter Arnone


When I resigned from Church Universal and Triumphant in December 1992 (after 22 years membership) I was still, or so I thought, on friendly terms with Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the widow of Mark (two husbands removed) and present head of C.U.T. I had forgotten her "Ascended Masters" would not allow her to have a meaningful relationship with anyone other than one of her chelas (disciples). Roughly a year later, I heard that Tatiana Prophet was writing a book on her father, Mark. Though I wasn’t approached as others were for input, I seriously thought of writing my own glowing account, and passing it on to Tania anyway. My emergence from the fog of C.U.T. had not yet accelerated.

Not too long ago, I saw the early 60’s movie, The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra (Major Ben Marco) and Laurence Harvey (Cpl. Raymond Shaw). Marco and his company are captured during the Korean War. They are brought to Manchuria where Soviet and other communist agents "condition" the Americans. When they are returned to Korea and released, they remember nothing. Only that Raymond Shaw heroically saved all but two of the company (he killed them), for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

After the war, the men return home. They all have the same recurring Manchurian nightmare, which initiates a military investigation. Word for word, every man has the same description of Cpl. Shaw. "Raymond Shaw is the bravest, kindest, most wonderful person I have ever known." Raymond, coincidentally, was also the best friend of every man in the company. Soon, Major Marco emerges from the fog. He recalls that Raymond Shaw was a complete jerk. And that was the opinion held by everyone in the company, until they were held captive. A psychological smoke screen had been embedded in the men’s minds to divert suspicion. For Raymond Shaw had been programmed to be an assassin for the communists.

Even though it was fiction, The Manchurian Candidate reminded me of Mark L. Prophet, the man and the myth. Before I joined the Summit Lighthouse, I would have thought Mark Prophet to be an ass. Most people would have thought the same. Today, having emerged from the fog, there is no doubt in my mind, Mark Prophet was a complete ass. But in between, all the years I was a true believer in the Summit Lighthouse/Church Universal and Triumphant, Mark Prophet was larger than life.

Around 1986, thirteen years after Mark died, I was working with a newer staff member. He had been through C.U.T.’s Summit University and wanted me to tell him "Mark" stories. I chuckled. No problem. I proceeded to tell him all the great things about the great man, typically stretching and exaggerating everything to the best of my ability to make Mark look good. That’s the way it was. You wouldn’t think, or dare tell, of the darker, bizarre side of Mark Prophet.

Before he died, Mark was a legend (in his own mind). On no uncertain terms, this was impressed upon his staff. But his deification did not begin until the day he passed away in February 1973. That was the day, according to Elizabeth, he gloriously "ascended" into heaven for all eternity. He would now be known as the Ascended Master Lanello. After his cremation, we were told his remains were "sacred ash." The staff eulogized him for hours. But I had to laugh and shake my head when I recently read a part of the Randall King Story. Though Elizabeth "did not have sexual relations with that man, Mr. King" before Mark passed away, she told us right after he died he was "enough man for 25 women." I guess Mark was too much for Elizabeth. Mark was too much for a lot of people.

To know the real Mark Prophet, you have to go back to the beginning. You need to find the pieces to the puzzle. And though you can’t find them all, there are enough to see the picture. You start with PURELY FOR PROPHET, the well-researched Kathy Schmook manuscript. You add the personal experiences of John Pietrangelo in LAMBS TO SLAUGHTER, and Randy Kosp King in THE RANDALL KING STORY. And I’ll add my own experience.

Bear in mind, Mark Prophet took it upon himself to start his own spiritual organization, the Summit Lighthouse, in 1958 at age 40. One must ask why he did it and what led him to do it. Before he died, Mark had evolved the story that when he was a young man the Ascended Master El Morya appeared to him while he was in mid-swing of driving a railroad spike. Calling him to be his disciple and messenger (for God), Mark turned him down. It wasn’t until later in his life the "master" reappeared and Mark took him up on his proposition. But Mark carelessly entrusted to Ed K., an early member and friend, the story of the railroad spike was not true. It was merely a tale to draw people’s attention and impress them at the same time. Coincidentally, Mark’s decision to become a professional messenger for God came when he had exhausted, and failed at, every other means of employment he had pursued. He couldn’t hold down a job. He was hounded by creditors. There was a time when he was pressured to even change his name.

Mark had other stories up his sleeve. While he vowed that "phenomena" had no place in the Ascended Masters’ Summit Lighthouse, he wasn’t afraid to tell the story over and again how the Summit in its early days was in serious financial trouble. But one day he opened his wallet, after complaining to Master Morya, and found several hundred dollar bills appear from nowhere. Mark said he knew they were from Morya. He could tell by the "twinkle" in his eye. Mark also liked to tell the story how he and members on a European pilgrimage in the late 60’s were forced to drive through a wall. Miraculously, they did it with no damage to the vehicle or themselves. With a little push from Mark, Annice Booth would vouch for this. But today, I’m not so sure. The story has been buried for a long time.

By 1971 Mark stated the multitudes would be "practicing "Summitry" for a thousand years." The early-on ambition of Mark required something equally bombastic as this prognostication. To secure the trust and faith of his early followers, all of whom believed in reincarnation, Mark confided in them his past embodiments and the wealth of their (his) accomplishments. Sometimes with bravado, sometimes with humble heart, Mark revealed who he had been to support who he now was. He was a great actor. And he impressed upon those whose ears he could bend, the ability and virtue his soul demonstrated in those past lives over many centuries, had accrued unto their present incarnation, Mark L. Prophet. This, he explained, qualified him for the office of God’s prophet and messenger. And for whose benefit? For those who were blessed, and of high enough attainment themselves, to be magnetized to, and be a part of Mark’s high and holy "mission."

Among the many illustrious incarnations Mark Prophet attributed to himself were Akhnaton the Egyptian pharaoh, Origen of Alexandria, Saladin, Lot, Gideon, and Uriah the Hittite of the Old Testament, St. Mark the evangelist, St. Bonaventure, Marco Polo, Lancelot, King Clovis and King Louis XIV of France, Longfellow, Hiawatha, and the ill-fated son of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, the tsarevich Alexei. Mark explained how the momentum of the collective genius of all the aforementioned had earned him the right and privilege to become God’s greatest servant among men. If you believed in Mark Prophet, with the possible exception of Jesus Christ, he was the greatest man that ever trod the face of the earth.

Mark claimed he was born with the "Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit." He had "Third-Eye Vision," which supposedly enabled him to read minds, read "auras," and read the "Akashic Records." This was God’s file on the accounting of every single event that ever took place. Mark said it was like watching a movie. The event would unfold before his eyes with the actual persons, places, and things, and words spoken by the characters. But Mark Prophet was in fact, a born loser.

I lived under the same roof with Mark Prophet for over two years. We, the staff of the Summit Lighthouse, the Prophets and their children, were one big happy family. I talked with Mark on a daily basis. I worked in the mail room where he came regularly to check the day’s income and his own correspondence. I was his personal home-base radio operator when he was on and off the property for a year and a half before his death. I knew where he was and basically what he was doing all the time. (Even when he went to porno movies on fact-finding missions "for the Brotherhood.") I was on all-night phone duty at the Summit for a year and a half before Mark’s passing. It was not unusual for him to call me at any hour during the night for one thing or another. Occasionally, like other men on staff, I would be Mark’s companion when his regular attendant, Gilbert, was taking a much needed break. I would be with him and go with him wherever he chose. Even to the bathroom.

The insecurity of Mark Prophet the man, begins with Mark Prophet the boy. As a child growing up in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Mark was a mama’s boy. Unfortunately, his father passed away when he was nine years old. He was gawky and uncoordinated. He had malocclusion, such that his lower and upper teeth did not bite properly, giving him a somewhat simian appearance. He was taunted. He was the neighborhood nerd. And one can imagine he got his butt kicked more than once.

Mark was not inclined to do well academically. He never graduated from high school. He had no formal ministerial training either. But he was an extraordinary student of the Bible. And he was an avid reader of occult fantasies, and psychic and metaphysical literature. As a child and young man of the depression era, there was little else for him to do. Over several years he evolved his own religious concoction, plagiarized as it was. He found his niche where he was no longer the butt of jokes or physical abuse. While he wasn’t a man’s man, he was able to impress quite a few older ladies with his spiritual/religious prowess. These individuals formed the base of his later movement, the Summit Lighthouse, founded in 1958.

There was Ruth Farnam, and there was Mary Spelzhaus. There were others, but I knew these two, one of them very well. During the 1940’s and 50’s Mark practiced, and perfected, his impersonation of the Ascended Master El Morya in speech-like "dictations" and letters he wrote to his devotees called the Ashram Notes. Other Ascended Masters would follow. Ruth was a college graduate and headed an orphanage in Oklahoma. She was a widow struggling with two young sons. She was as sweet a lady as could be. Maybe too sweet. For Mark, and later Elizabeth, she was a pushover, and putty in their hands. Many a time she would be brought to tears under their harsh discipline. Mary, on the other hand, was a cagey cookie, until she had outlived her usefulness and was thrown out. She was a spinster, and a teacher. Mark revealed to her she was Walt Whitman in one of her past incarnations. What a feather in her cap. Mark had made a friend for life. Mary’s present and assumed past achievement qualified her to write and coordinate much of the C.U.T. Keeper of the Flame lessons still in use today.

One by one, two by two, Mark’s organization grew. The alluring mystique of the Summit Lighthouse was given birth. The chowder head from Chippewa Falls was making himself into a charismatic figure. Though the original members were vulnerable, having many unanswered questions in each one’s spiritual journey, they were sincere and decent people. Mark had all the answers. He ingratiated them. He took full advantage of his knowledge, salesmanship, and growing power and intimidation to secure these people as the leaven for his movement. Their good qualities and character served Mark well. Their credibility gave Mark credibility. The presence of so many wonderful and articulate people whose backgrounds were of every race and religion was Utopian. Slowly but surely, the organization began to expand. But it was only the addition of the youthful, energetic, and self-assured Elizabeth in the early sixties that saved the ever-insecure Mark from fading into nonexistence. She attracted the youth. And the youth ignited the organization. But most importantly, she assuaged the mid-life crisis of her sugar daddy.

Next in Part 2: Favoritism and punishment: dishing out "past lives."


Comments (26 comments)

AmenAS/H&F: .) / November 6th, 2008, 6:52 pm / #1

Had to comment on this one:

Peter Arnone sounds like an Ass himself w/ a capital A.

Mark & Elizabeth were modern human phenomenas that give humanity an idea of how Human Gods & Godesses were created. At the end, it's the flow of this "Big Bang" that is outplaying it self. What we see in others we have to, especially if we were them, living in their skins, shoes, life.

Mr. & Mrs Prophet have their faults but at the end we are "products" of Life's invention & not our own. Peter Arnone & exmembers quick to degrade & insult should first do so of themselves, then continue from there, their critical outlook they intend to out picture of these figures in Organised Religion's History.

At the end the word God from Humankind's psyche just means Power. And power for a long time has been manipulated to only be male, when history shows this to be otherwise. Woman is a powerful force & liturature & archeological findings thru history always shows this to be so.

Peter Arnone is not any more honorable than the man he writes about! No Human Is without evil.

Black Sun Journal » Mark Prophet, The Man and the Myth: Part 2 / November 7th, 2008, 1:24 am / #2

[…] Continued from Part 1 […]

BlackSun / November 7th, 2008, 1:58 pm / #3

Amen,

Peter Arnone is not any more honorable than the man he writes about! No Human Is without evil.

Partially correct. Both were suffering from a delusion and both wanted something from the other. But it does not follow that their actions were equivalent. Mark Prophet rationalized his actions toward his followers on the basis of “spiritual office.” As such, he bore the greater responsibility. But without the followers to prop him up, he would have had a much harder time perpetrating the manipulations.

Cults are a form of collusion between leaders and followers. Once they get started, it’s a hard cycle to break. Even today, CUT members still rationalize (and, like Joseph Genito, (previous article) say it doesn’t matter what the messengers’ shortcomings were).

It takes strong repudiation by former believers to begin to punch holes in the delusion. But the groupthink of the cult prevents many members from listening to disconfirming information. Instead, they circle the wagons and lambaste the former members as bitter, having an “ax to grind” etc. so they don’t have to go through the painful process of acting on the information.

Over time, as more people speak out, the delusion becomes harder to maintain. It is why I’m committed to keeping up the pressure. I’ve posted Arnone’s document because it covers a pivotal time in the organization’s history and is therefore vital to this process.

David Vaughn / November 7th, 2008, 4:24 pm / #4

Sean,
Well, obviously Peter Arnone does have an axe to grind. That doesn’t mean what he’s saying is without merit..But it’s taking him a long time to grind it because it’s such a very big axe. When he finally gets around to wielding it, he’s going to split the world in two- the sheep on one side and the goats on the other.
Mark Prohet’s story was never going to appeal to everyone, but we who followed it merged that story with our own. As long as your personal story flows into the super-objective validity of group belief you’ll never want to emerge from its beautiful illusion. There is no great harm here until the group begins to invade the sanctity of your personal (for lack of a better word) wholeness. If you don’t want to see that that has happened, no one can make you, but once you have seen it, a few perjoratives directed either at yourself or the makers of the illusion you believed can feel quite therapeutic now and then.
That said, there was real harm done, but the real harm done to members of such groups is ultimately psychological and could only have been perpetrated by one who’s psychological need was himself or herself quite desperate.

AmenAS/H&F: .) / November 7th, 2008, 4:31 pm / #5

Sean hello,
yes, no one’s evil or imperfection is ever equivalnt. I’m just simplisticly stating what I leave the reader to naturaly asses & are fully capable of adjusting on their own, that no one’s free from evil no matter how little or how significantly diobolicle it is. Imperfection is imperfection no matter the degree, put us in a diferrent setting & maybe our imperfection might be as bad as this or that individual we think we could never be like.
Your father & mother dispite their wrong doing, are a tremendous part of human history & have contributed to humanity’s growth. Not everything they said was always off the wall. They were very intelligent individuals. Look how well written & independent u, Tatiana & Erin turned out. Your parents didn’t do all that bad. Thier mythology isn’t unique to past characters in history, if one take’s the time to look at it that way. At the end, why do humans have the tendency to put alot on one person or person’s. One really needs to place alot of responsiblity on themselves for following ur parent’s & anyone else for that matter, especially the idea of following a God. The very reason why many of us even were a part of SLH/CUT & Organised Religion to begin with.

AmenAS/H&F: .) / November 7th, 2008, 5:50 pm / #6

I realised I should add my logic towards leaders & leadership roles. Castro wasn’t where he was because of his own efforts, Kadafe, Saddam Hussien etc. Obama isn’t President elect because he just simply wanted to be so. It takes people to make this possible. So the same with Mark L. & Elizabeth C. Prophet. They were where they ended up because people at the end helped them get there, be there & stay there, never once anyone in Unity challenging them for what our minds & hearts could clearly see to be wrong.
The image & power of the leader is the forefront of a people working behind that individual(s). A leader is not until The People hand their power to that individual to then become a leader, otherwise they would just be like the rest of us, taking care of what needs to be taken care of in cooperation with their fellow human brothers & sisters, instead of strangers we intrust so much decision making to. At the end we all have self doubt, otherwise we wouldn’t spend so much time giving power to individuals to lead. Life designed it that way & so we are.

Mirele / November 7th, 2008, 6:44 pm / #7

Hi, Sean:

I stumbled upon your website a week ago and have been reading avidly and been passing along your website to my friends and acquaintances. I was never a member of CUT, but I have a real interest in cult groups, in particular, $cientology. (I’m one of the 50 or so people that $cn hates with a passion, even though I was never a member and can honestly state that I’ve never been in a church of $cn.) Back in the mid-80s, my father once called me into the room to watch your mother speak on a public-access show on in Houston. He was incredibly fascinated with the 15 or so rings on her fingers and thought she was Yet Another Smooth Televangelist Preacher Type (along the lines of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker). Shortly thereafter, I went to law school and read US v. Ballard in constitutional law, but I didn’t connect the two together (CUT and the I AM movement) until I started reading your website.

I ordered and got your sister’s book this week and consumed it last night. I think her book is profoundly important as first-person documentation of the craziness that can escalate in a closed community where there are no checks or balances. I was particularly interested in her descriptions of how she heard from “El Morya” during the shelter cycle and how all that played out. I think this ought to be required reading for anyone who claims to be hearing from God, spirits, angels, demons, etc., AND their followers.

I do want to thank you for posting this very interesting document by Peter Arnone and I look forward to reading the rest of it, obnoxious name-calling and all. I’m also looking forward to your review of Alex Reichardt’s book. Along those same lines, is there a good, objective (even scholarly) overview of the “I AM” Movement and its offshoots that you would recommend?

Again, thanks for this website, your recollections and your sharp and insightful commentary. It’s wonderful.

Nancy Couick / November 8th, 2008, 11:50 am / #8

Thanks for posting Arnone’s material. Does anyone ever comment on any physical miracles that Mark accomplished? I read Alex R’s book last week, and wonder what the change in weather looked like to other bystanders? Did a car really go through a wall? (Arnone mentions this, but doesn’t really say anything specific.) Miracle phenomena tends to be quite persuasive. But I’d like more solid evidence, since I’ve never seen any miracles personally. Was Mother’s dress really partially invisible, or was it a film problem? Can any of this stuff be collaberated? Maybe Peter will elaborate in part 3?

Tatiana Prophet / November 8th, 2008, 4:16 pm / #9

Hi, Nancy –

Regarding the car going through the wall in Europe in 1968, I interviewed two people who were in the car with our dad at the time. This was back in 1994 when I was working on a book of my own. One of them recalled that she had said to him “Oh my stars, you’re in the wall.” When I pressed her, she said there was no way the car could have made it through the space without hitting the wall. Apparently our dad was making a difficult three-point turn, and from everyone’s vantage point, he navigated the tight space with so much expertise that he even rearranged some atoms in the process. This is a FAR cry from actually driving through a wall, and as you can see, is not substantiated at all. I don’t even believe they check the wall after the incident. I’d have to check my notes on that one. If they did, I think, as would be expected, they found the wall perfectly intact.

Also, I always wondered why Dad didn’t keep the note from El Morya that he found on his pillow after he had dismissed the master on the railroad tracks.

Tatiana

BlackSun / November 9th, 2008, 3:00 pm / #10

@Mirele, I agree completely re: Scientology, a corrupt and greedy organization, with virtually no useful product, and a hostility toward psychologists and the pharmaceutical industry.

For the expose on the I Am movement, you can check out Psychic Dictatorship in America, which is out of print, but seems to be available used. I haven’t read it, but it’s the classic debunking of the I Am.

@Nancy, I never saw any miracles. Even the supposedly borderline supernatural phenomena I witnessed always ended up having an explanation. For example, the highly vaunted photo of my mom which had “transparency” was actually a double exposure, one shot was the altar, then the second was with her in front of it. The camera was on a tripod, so the illusion was credible. Another example was the phenomenon of the “exploding glass” which my mom often chalked up to some kind of negative energy. Turns out this is a known phenomenon with tempered glass, such as “Arcoroc” which any web search will turn up the explanation: tempering pre-stresses the glass and under certain conditions it can shatter, releasing the stored energy and scattering the pieces over a wide area.

The other miracles, such as weather changes and sick people being healed are simply impossible to pin down, and usually rely on “confirmation bias” and “counting the hits and ignoring the misses.” Both these human cognitive illusions are discussed in Carl Sagan’s book Demon Haunted World, which I recommend highly.

Tatiana’s explanation is typical of how these stories get started. As time goes by, the original people involved are nowhere to be found, and the story takes on a life of its own. What’s more compelling? That a car went through a wall unscathed? Or that you were driving around and got so close that it appeared to? Humans are always suckers for a good yarn.

becky lipinski / November 9th, 2008, 11:26 pm / #11

Hi Sean,
I strongly refute Mr. Arnone’s suggestion that you have become a photonegative image of our father–“a high priest of athiesm.” Your remarkably measured reactions to this claim, along with the re-posting of his essay, make this quite clear. Nevertheless, his document is valuable and, at times, almost painfully insightful. I too bristle at the epithets he hurls at dad–“chowderhead” and “born loser”–but if those words insinuate that Mark Prophet was himself damaged, I agree.
If I retain an undue degree of sympathy for him, it’s only because I’m his daughter. I also plead guilty (and I say this with more than a little embarrassment and shame) to feeling “perversely proud” of the fact that he was able to achieve something extraordinary–in spite of the fact that I decry and detest and despair at what he did with his life and what he did with the lives of others. I like to believe that, had he known what he would become, his inate humanity and capacity for kindness (which did exist) would have taken him down another path. But once he set foot on the path to CUT, I know he could never have turned back again. His pathological need for acceptance and recognition and love/adulation was far too strong.
Of course, that brings us to something else–the collusion of his followers, without which he could never have possibly become the tyrant Mr. Arnone so accurately describes. I’ll never forget how I felt, as a very young adolescent, when I observed the dedication and blind obedience of his first disciples, men like Tom Miller and Bill Harper and Alex Reichardt. (In spite of the hagiography which Alex has recently penned, I personally witnessed Dad treating him as little more than a whipping boy–“Alex, you twerp!” was a familiar refrain, uttered after the smallest of infractions or, quite often, after no infraction at all.) Most of these men witnessed the private drama of Dad’s life, including his divorce from my mother, the poverty of our family, and the residual problems with our brother Dan. Bill, in particular, was present on a number of occasions during my parent’s often vociferous arguments and must have been aware, at least on some level, of the emotional and financial upheaval in our lives. And yet, these men followed Dad, revered him, believed in and promulgated his position as the appointed messenger of the “masters.” Talk about suspension of disbelief.
On a personal note, my upbringing has made me wary of organized religion in general, but it has also made me suspicious of ANY kind of personality cult. or cookie-cutter dogma.
I look forward to reading the entirety of Mr. Arnone’s essay. He obviously knew our father and I’m glad you’re reprinting what he wrote. It has value.
Thank you, Sean! -Becky

becky lipinski / November 10th, 2008, 12:15 am / #12

Nancy Couick:

I’ve heard those stories too. Admittedly, I’m not prone to believing in miracles but, even if I were, I doubt very much that I’d ever attribute any to my father. The more important questioni is: did my father believe in miracles? I think he did, and there’s nothing he would have liked better than to perform one. Throughout my childhood (and even before the formation of TSL or CUT) he told us about feats he accomplished, sometimes (supposedly) in front of our eyes: he turned traffic lights green, levitated a table, read our minds. I never saw any evidence of any of these things (although occassionally a traffic light WOULD turn green, if the cycle complied with his request!).
For what it’s worth, I personally put no stock in the tall tales perpetuated by dad or CUT. If he was capable of changing the weather, why wasn’t he able to pay our mortgage? Or hold onto a decent job? I only wish that he could have put his talents–and he had many–into a different, less destructive life.

AmenAS/H&F: .) / November 10th, 2008, 12:24 am / #13

Yes, thk u for informing us on Mr.Arnone’s writtings/bk. Something I failed to express in the beginning. I took this for granted as I typed away anoiyed by Mr.Arnone’s self rightous tone in his writting, as if he is without any failure of having impowered Mark because of his own psychological weakness in his beliefs for God!

Becky, you have got to write your book too! I enjoy reading your style of thinking & expression! It’s pleasant, old school yet original. Smart too! Very!
Nice to read from you again! = )

AmenAS/H&F: .) / November 10th, 2008, 12:50 am / #14

Yes, Mark was an Ass but so was everyone else who saw all the rediculous things going on & giving into his hirarchical position as Messenger! Geez Luweez, my god, goodness gracious, great balls of fire! How could any one seeing what he was failing to do for his other family, keep following him?! Some humans are destined to be as pitiful as those they idolize. It reflects something bk about themselves!
My heart breaks in two Becky to read what I have on what your family went thru! Good life took him away when it did, because I’d buy a white glove & personaly find my way to him & slap him with it !!! Saying “Shame On You!” for failing as a WW II Veteran, Father, Religious Leader, Human Being & Human Brother! I’d use the same glove on Elizabeth aswell, giving it to them to remind them of my repremand! I, keeping the other to remind me to never stop standing up for truth & against neglect !
Becky how’s your brother Dan now?

Justinn DM / November 10th, 2008, 11:30 am / #15

After escaping many years of torment within Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s organization, fortunately I was able to escape and regain my sanity.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet was and will always be the personification of Evil to me the Anti-Christ if you will. The suffering and injustices that she has inflicted upon so many innocent people is truly horrendous in it’s magnitude.

It now appears that Elizabeth is receiving her own karma (evil) back on on herself, which she truly deserves. If ECP is God’s perfect – Karma free – Messenger as she proclaimed to be for so many years. Why then has she sunken so deeply into dementia, alzheimers, breast cancer and an almost vegatative stage?

Perhaps then there is a God and there is truly Divine Justice!

I for one will be glad when the world is rid of all the spiritual frauds like ECP who is one of the many false “Prophets” on earth today, leading genuine seekers away from Truth and ultimately destroying their belief and faith in good and true God.

amina / November 11th, 2008, 5:57 am / #16

thank you Sean for posting these stories
it helps a lot in the healing process
sometimes I miss that state of mind I once had wile in the teachings, my “spiritual” me
I still yearn sometimes for that fusional state I once felt in this organization, the protection, the reassurance of belonging to a group of people, a new “family”
there were many positive things that I remember from my CUT years, like when having to deal with conflict or difficult people, or being cheated at, or wronged in some manner in everydays life
the Teachings helped me resolve those things : it was “disolved” in the violet flame and dealt with by the Masters and the person’s own karma
it was easy to deal with, easier than now sometimes !

I happen to miss my former “me” while in the Teachings, this “spiritual” side of me that I have not yet recovered
sometimes I think profoundly of what made me come to this Teachings and I think it has to do with recovering my innocence, or my puriy, ot some kind of child-like part of me that needed to be expressed or reconstructed from early chilhod trauma
like the part that is held by the picture of “the great divine director” that is very child-like , very pure
that picture was key to my entering the teachings
I felt drawned to it
Iguess I projected my own purity into ECP and CUT as a whole, since I disowned that part of myself, had little contact with it, it was buried from childhood
this is where the problem of Guru-chela manipulation comes in : the guru needs the “chelas” and the “chelas” need the guru, it’s a system of co-depedency
but still there is something wrong in taking advantage of people’s pain when you know you are ling
although ECPand Mark were pathological liars and got caught up in theit own lies
Peter Arnon’s story really exposes this phenomema of building a whole organizatiion based on fantasies and a need for recognition
even ECP got caught in a way, and the children of ECP and Mark, unfortunately, are also victims of this craziness
Sometimes I feel that they are the most hurt, because even if they had some priviledged treatment, etc (as you have said, Sean), they were mistreated in an everyday basis by a whole organization and totally trapped inside
think of it, some of us had families and a past life before CUT to turn to once the nightmare was over, they did not, all they knew was CUT’s disfunctionnal family
the same for all the kids who were raised in the cult, they had to reconstruct themselves alone after the cult
it’s hard to do so
I would like to thank you again Sean for this web site and for being available for exchange and discussion
it is very valuable for me and I am sure it is also for many of us
but I think you should not take responsibility for your parent’s abuses, since they are not your own
with love

becky lipinski / November 11th, 2008, 12:31 pm / #17

Amina:
I’m very moved by your words, as I am by the words of “Amen.” I find your insights very profound, especially when you describe your quest to recapture and reconstruct your “purity”, defiled by childhood trauma, and your projection of that purity onto ECP. I also think you’re right when you say that CUT was based on “fantasies and a need for recognition.” I believe that my father and Elizabeth were both very damaged people, narcissistic and insatiably needy, and it’s a tragedy that they were able to ensnare so many people into the phantasmagoria of their lives. The more they were empowered, the more dangerous and abusive they became.
I also agree that Sean, Erin, Moira, and Tatiana were uniquely victimized. I’m proud of them all for surviving and becoming the people they are today.
Sean, I read your Amazon review of Alex Reichart’s book and was so impressed by both your compassion and your unyielding dedication to the truth. I think everyone should read this review.
Justinn: I’m sorry to hear that you were so hurt by your involvement with CUT. I find nothing to admire about Elizabeth (or my father) and would not be surprised by any abuses she subjected you to. But an “anti-Christ” can only have power if we give it to him/her. In the end, her house-of-cards began to collapse and she is being exposed for what she was: a pathetic, mentally ill woman whose cruelties were exacerbated by power and a sense of entitlement. I wish you the best.

Black Sun Journal » Happiness In Slavery / November 12th, 2008, 8:19 pm / #18

[…] So how to analyze this book? It’s utterly incomprehensible without the spiritual component. Otherwise it reads like the narrative of a non-consensual slave, and comes off painful and pathetic. It’s surprising how similar "All for the Love of God" actually is to Mark Prophet: The Man and the Myth. Both recount nearly identical events. Peter Arnone rejects the supernatural component, and Alex embraces it. Peter’s account makes much more sense. I’m sorry to say that it portrays Mark Prophet as a very ordinary weak, self-centered and manipulative human being. […]

BlackSun / November 12th, 2008, 11:46 pm / #19

@Becky, thanks so much for your feedback, and for getting involved in the discussion. I agree with you and in some ways am also perversely proud of the way my parents moved people and got them to do things. They were great organizers. However, their methods leave a lot to be desired–and their goals were also illusory. So what’s left?

If the goals were valid in human terms, (eliminating poverty and disease, improving education, etc.) then it might be possible to cobble together some justification for their methods.

But what you had was a fraudulent guru-chela relationship (fraudulent because it claimed to hold the chela’s highest interest at heart) guiding people toward a fraudulent goal (the ascension, or spiritual attainment).

So people put their lives on hold to engage in a regimen of rituals and servitude. Much of this was directed toward the promotion and replication of the teachings themselves. But a not insignificant portion of the organization’s people and resources were directed toward the personal whims and comfort of the messengers. This is where the corruption set in. I know you saw this as it was happening.

@Nancy, precisely. If they could have, they would have “materialized” money and would have never needed to ask for donations. George Carlin has a great riff on this:

Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

@Justinn DM

I for one will be glad when the world is rid of all the spiritual frauds like ECP who is one of the many false “Prophets” on earth today, leading genuine seekers away from Truth and ultimately destroying their belief and faith in good and true God.

Justinn, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. If God exists, where are his “true” representatives? I have yet to see one.

@Amina

I miss that state of mind I once had wile in the teachings, my “spiritual” me
I still yearn sometimes for that fusional state I once felt in this organization, the protection, the reassurance of belonging to a group of people, a new “family”
there were many positive things that I remember from my CUT years,

Disillusionment. It’s kind of like falling out of love. Once you see the reality, it’s hard to get the “spell” back. But I would say wiser is always better. Life hurts, and sometimes when we take the easy way out, using religions to shield ourselves from the harsh reality, we only delay the suffering.

Knowing I’ve helped you come to terms with your pain in any small way is extremely gratifying. Thanks for reading.

becky lipinski / November 16th, 2008, 10:04 am / #20

Hi Sean,

Yes, there might have been SOME justification for their means if they had achieved any certifiable good for humanity–alleviating hunger or suffering, etc. etc. . Apologists may argue that they "awakened" spiritual connectedness but, even if this is/was true, at what cost? Some of the negative consequences can be seen in the stories related on this site.

Can human idolotry ever contribute to "spirituality"? I suggest not. Throughout history, people seem to have put their faith in charismatic teachers–human intermediators who breach the chasm between God and man. I personally will never tell anyone that their quest for "God" is utterly futile (anything's possible) but I HAVE formed the opinion that no amount of spiritual power can be safely conferred on any human being, no matter how "pure" or "wise" or "beyond reproach" they may appear or present themselves to be.

Sister Mary Ignatius / September 3rd, 2010, 12:40 pm / #21

Dear Becky:

I simply want you to know — and maybe you'll actually see this posting (Sat. 9/03/10) — as my first concern at time I decided to "involve" myself as a student of "Teachings of Ascended Masters" — it was an educated, informed guess that Mark Prophet would have been married BEFORE he met Betty Clare. He is a few years older than my own mother, so. . . there MUST be children from a first marriage, who would be same age bracket as myself and older siblings. So, I wanted to find out FIRST: (1) Did Mark Prophet, the "messenger" of supposed Saints in Heaven (in presence of God and His Son, Jesus) actually honorably discharge his moral and legal obligations to provide financial support to minor children of first marriage when he left them? (2) Would Mark Prophet's "first" children even respond to this inquiry, and how do I contact any of them? Adultery is.. . . well, adultery. Had I known the true story of Mark Prophet failing to honor child support obligations — both legal and spiritually "mandated," I would have never involved myself.

becky lipinski / September 12th, 2010, 11:35 pm / #22

Dear Sister Mary,

My father discharged part of his legal obligations by forwarding approximately 100 dollars per month in support of 5 minor children (in retrospect, this was a surprisingly small amount even for the early 1960s). However, he faiiled to purchase a home for our family, which was a provision clearly stipulated in my parent's divorce settlement. I loved him,, but was well aware that he was a deeply flawed human being . Our family was known to his early followers but, as the years passed (and particularly after his death) I don't t believe our existence was widely acknowledged.
IIf you've read the previous posts, you''re aware of my feelings about "gurus" in general. In many ways, I feel privileged to have been born "behind the curtain", where I witnessed and learned about hypocricy at an early age. I don't believe my father was unique in this–and II'd advise everyone to think twice before giving allegience to any spiritual leader.
I hope this helps. :) – Becky

Imma / May 13th, 2009, 11:56 pm / #23

Hi everyone,
I belong to the CUT since 1988 and have never met Mark Prophet and have never exchanged more than 2 words with ECP in my life. I can witness to you all that when I came into the teachings I saw ECP in visions, she did very much needed healings on me, she helped me when I was dating by showing me previous lifetimes that held important keys to me, she brought me back to reality when I was trying to avoid facing my responsibilities. She comes to me at crucial moments when I make strong calls to her and helps me out. I feel so much love for her. Mark also has been with me helping me to deal with difficult situations, difficult landlords, keeping my spirits up and explaining a lot. I was traumatised by my human father in my youth and Mark has been to me the father I never had. Fortunately now my relationship with my human father (86) has been restored through a lot of forgiveness and reflection from my side.

Imma / May 14th, 2009, 12:03 am / #24

I just want to tell you all, Sean, Tatiana, Becky etc, that no matter what your parents have done, you can love them. You need to open up to them and allow that contact to happen. They love you all so much!
And yes, they did make mistakes, they were human, and you all did get hurt in the process. But choose love over biterness and resentment. It gets you so much farther in life!
Your parents are wonderful ! You can be really proud of them!

Roark Barron / January 22nd, 2013, 2:41 pm / #25

Do you, or anyone out there, know what became of Donald Ballard, son of the original I AM cult founders. I have read that he died in 1973, in Tarzana, California of a massive heart attack on the supposed day he was putting to print his expose book on his parents bizarre organization. He was born in 1918, the same year as Mark Prophet. He was groomed, [a bit like Krisnamurti was] to be the next big thing in accredited messengers. Some claim his book was then covered up and never published after his death by the original I Am foundation's board. He would have had a lot to say, like only he could, similar to you being part of the family and growing up with this limited, yet privileged world around him. His Mother, Edna Ballard [lotus ray king] died in 1971. I sense a story in all this.
Be great to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks for putting out some great information. It has been helpful to me. Roark Barron

Roark Barron / January 28th, 2013, 11:45 am / #26

Do you, or anyone out there, know what became of Donald Ballard, son of the original I AM cult founders. I have read that he died in 1973, in Tarzana, California of a massive heart attack on the supposed day he was putting to print his expose book on his parents bizarre organization. He was born in 1918, the same year as Mark Prophet. He was groomed, [a bit like Krisnamurti was] to be the next big thing in accredited messengers. Some claim his book was then covered up and never published after his death by the original I Am foundation's board. He would have had a lot to say, like only he could, similar to you being part of the family and growing up with this limited, yet privileged world around him. His Mother, Edna Ballard [lotus ray king] died in 1971. I sense a story in all this.

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