Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Church of the End Times

Pastor David Stanley
A little ways north of Rhode Island, off 146A on Industrial Drive in Uxbridge, Massachusetts sits The Church of the End Times which has been pushing hard to become New England's most out there Christian church.

There's a great history of the church on Worcester News Telegram.com that's well worth a read. In it, Pastor David Stanley and his brother Dennis Stanley are described as:
... a thickly muscled duo who favor tight, embroidered shirts unbuttoned to the sternum, engraved silver belt buckles, reptile skin Western boots and long hair in '80s rock star style. 
David Stanley, 40, tells followers he is an anointed prophet and an archangel and that his brother, 36, is a “half-breed” angel, according to Dennis' wife, Beth.
The brothers own a paving company, Driveway Corp.,  that "rates a grade of F from the Better Business Bureau and has been the subject of some scathing commentary for its high pressure sales tactics, shoddy work and beer drinking on the online business review service Angie's List."

Is this part of a bigger scam? Apparently yes.
The Stanleys are part of a large Romani Gypsy clan, according to family members.

“The way they dress, the way they talk, the way they think is all influenced by Gypsies,” Beth said, who described her own ancestry as French-Indian.

Stephanie said David and Dennis made Gypsy culture look much worse than it really is.

“The Gypsies treat their women like princesses, not Stepford Wives,” she said.

News stories including a 2010 series in the Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph have reported that many families with the Stanley surname around the state and the country are involved in paving and painting scams.

Dale Vinnicombe, who worked at Driveways Corp. for years in sales and said he was once a close friend and roommate of David Stanley, said he finally left because he couldn't put up with the shoddy quality of work and service being provided.

“They did one-third of the quality for the full cost,” he said.
The Church of the End Times claims to get at risk teens off drugs. That may be true, but Beth Stanley, wife of Dennis Stanley, said:
... that Dennis would flirt and lure teenage girls into the church, and bedroom, from stores and fast-food restaurants around the area. In their home, the girls would sit on his lap and caress him. It was another “hoop” that David allegedly taught was necessary for her to go through to find real love.

Mrs. Gault [the Stanley brother's mother] said outside the courthouse Oct. 5, “There's definitely sex going on with these young girls.”

Mrs. Stanley found explicit text messages on his cellphone, from September, between Dennis and one of the young women. His messages included vulgar slang terms for female and male genitalia.

Dennis denied accusations that he was having sex with the girls. “I'm friends with all the girls. We hang out — maybe give a massage; nothing sexual.”

He explained one suggestive text message as meaning, “'Clean my house up for me good.'

“They always want to come over and clean and take care of me. I talk to girls like I'm a male. It's not perverted. That's the way God created me to be.”
Accusations of scams and abuse are just the tip of the iceberg. David Stanley performs exorcisms and supposedly believes his baby will be born with angel wings. These beliefs are more than bizarre, they are downright dangerous.

Now comes the latest report that members of the church are involved in a series of robberies up and down Route 146, from the Blackstone Valley in Mass. to parts of northern Rhode Island.
Courtney Bish, 20, who gave her address as 19 Industrial Drive, the same address as the Church of the End Times and Driveways Corp., was arraigned on multiple charges in Northbridge, Blackstone and Sutton of breaking and entering for a felony, larceny, destruction of property and receiving stolen property ($250 or more). The alleged crimes took place in recent months.

Ms. Bish and Gina Elliott, 41, also of 19 Industrial Drive, had been arrested by Sutton police in September on other burglary-related charges. Police estimated the pair had been involved in eight to 10 burglaries in the Blackstone Valley in Massachusetts and in northern Rhode Island.

Jewelry and prescription drugs such as Vicodin had been stolen, according to court documents. Some of the jewelry has been retrieved by owners and some stolen jewelry was sold to a kiosk in the Auburn Mall, Sutton police Detective Matthew K. Bohanan has said previously.
Aside from the overt criminality on display, there's no one thing particularly unique about the Church of the End Times, but the situation could go very bad very quickly:
Matthew N. Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies at The College of the Holy Cross, said the Church of the End Times clearly shares characteristics with “Millenialistic” groups, which talk of conversions and changes in personal relationships to give witness to the end times.

“The problem is when you have these small groups, things can go off the rails very quickly,” Mr. Schmalz said.

“One of the problems is this person (the leader) becomes the message,” he added. “The group leader's desires and feelings become automatically the word of God.”

Mr. Schmalz said that the church could now be in a volatile situation as pressure is put on it from the media, government and law enforcement.

In some instances, such as the siege in 1993 on David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, the outside pressure contributed to a bunker mentality in the compound and the group reacted violently.

“It takes someone willing to engage with the group on terms they understand,” Mr. Schmalz said about how to defuse religious movements run amok.
It disturbs me that Schmalz talks about engaging "the group on terms they understand" rather than focus on educating the group about the dangers of irrationality. Are those involved in such groups truly beyond saving and only capable of moderating their behavior slightly, that is, moving from "dangerous cult" to "mainstream religiosity"? Or is it that those who purport to be experts in "cults" tend to be members of mainstream religions, and therefore not inclined to lead people all the way out of the holes they have found themselves in?

7 comments:

  1. I went to this church for a period of time. It truly is a scary place once you've been believing everything they "teach". They claimed they were free from any man made law and that they could do anything they wanted without feeling consequences. The scariest part for me and the reason why I left was how they would treat any female when they were in a relationship. I'm so glad all of this is getting out in the open.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brandy, if you would like, please email me at atomicsteve@gmail.com so that I can ask you some questions about the church. I would be happy to respect your anonymity if need be.

      Delete
  2. These are my neighbors and to say we are a little nervous is the understatement of the year. I hope to God the police have checked to see if they have any registered weapons for our sake.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully all will go well. Please think to let me know if anything interesting happens out your way regarding this church or its members.

      Delete
  3. Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck! Driveways Newcastle

    ReplyDelete
  4. Superb ! Your blog is incredible. I am delighted with it. Thanks for sharing with me. Driveways Sunderland

    ReplyDelete
  5. These are my neighbors and to state we are a little tense is the understatement of the year. I hope to God the police man have checked to glimpse if they have any registered tools for fighting for our sake.
    http://www.hknightlifeescort.com/.

    ReplyDelete