Re: Sometimes You Feel Like a Cult...

Categories: Cover Story

I got an e-mail from cult expert David Clark about last week's item concerning his upcoming seminar on Ole Anthony and the Trinity Foundation. Clark says, ya know, thanks and all, but he also says I mischaracterized his explanation of his involvement with 60 Minutes and Diane Sawyer when I wrote that "he had worked for months with Sawyer for an expose on cults."

Well, he's right. In the interest of simplicity, I had condensed his involvement on that project. But my wording didn't convey an accurate depiction of Sawyer's piece or Clark's contribution. With his permission, I quote from Clark's letter after the jump.


I worked with (CBS News) 60 Minutes for months on a (feature) story about an heiress of the Dayton Hudson Corporation who had been a member of [a group called] The Bible Speaks. I was the professional cult intervention specialist that worked with Elizabeth Dovydenas when she decided to leave The Bible Speaks. The Bible Speaks filed suit and went to federal bankruptcy court against Elizabeth Dovydenas and lost that legal action for more than 6 million dollar judgment appealing all the way to United States Supreme Court.

Diane Sawyer was the 60 Minutes correspondent that featured the Elizabeth Dovydenas story and her legal battle with The Bible Speaks. She had spent months researching this group, years before her Prime Time Live broadcast with Ole Anthony. Although I was extensively involved in the 60 Minutes investigation of The Bible Speaks and Elizabeth Dovydenas, my contact was with 60 Minutes producer Susanne St. Pierre and I did not meet with Diane Sawyer due to another Bible Speaks intervention I was processing...

"I believed The Bible Speaks CBS/60 Minutes story was the first story of this kind that I remembered Diane Sawyer doing on this kind of group...The expose was about one group known as The Bible Speaks that included charges of brainwashing but not about numerous cults [though] cult allegations were levied. The cult charge was narrated by Diane Sawyer citing James Bjornstad, Academic Dean of Northeastern Bible College stating The Bible Speaks, "operates much like a cult." One might infer cults in general where included, but I will let the individual reader determine that for themselves.

Since our initial item ran, Clark has formally asked the Trinity Foundation for a response to the book I Can't Hear God Anymore by Wendy Duncan. He got a response from the elders, including Anthony, that they would have no public comments about the book or the Duncans.

"They prefer the Duncans pursue the Matthew:18 approach," Clark says. That refers to the Matthew 18:15-18 passage in the Bible, where it says: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

When I interviewed Anthony last fall, he told me he hadn't even read the book and wasn't inclined to. It seemed odd to me that a pastor or spiritual leader of whatever stripe wouldn't feel an obligation to investigate further. It seems Anthony isn't interested in the pain experienced by the Duncans and many other former followers, just his own. --Glenna Whitley



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