I was raised Catholic. My mother embedded the morals of God into the daily lives of my brothers and sister and me from the moment we could speak. We would go to church on Sunday, volunteer at church events and attend Bible school two days a week every spring. My mom knew that eventually we would grow up and make our own decisions in life, and she always supported us because she knew that our decisions would align with God’s teachings.
About a year ago, my sister moved to Paterson New Jersey. She is 25 years old, and a nurse who attends night school. As soon as she moved into her new home, she began searching for a church nearby that she could become a part of. That is when she found World Mission Society: Church of God. She thought that she had finally found a church that teaches without the lies and man-made scriptures of the Catholic church. Shortly after her first visit, she became baptized in this church and committed more than 4 days a week to Bible study and attending mass.
At first our family was skeptical about this church. After hearing some of its practices, it became quite evident that it was not a typical church. Parishioners would cover their heads with veils as they prayed, sit segregated by gender during mass, and the members didn’t have much of a life outside of the church walls.
As my sister became more involved in this religion, she began to change. She would spend all her time at the church, and when she wasn’t there she was preaching about its teachings or planning her next visit. <!–column–>My mom became increasingly worried and disappointed. She would cry endlessly, and pray that my sister would leave this cult-like church for good.
It was exactly one year after being baptized that the pastor started pressuring my sister into coming to the church more often. He and others would tell her that in order to be closer to God and to become a preacher, she would need to come more frequently and for longer periods of time. My sister then realized that she was being coerced into quitting her job at the hospital, and guilted into dropping her classes in order to be “closer to God”. The church consisted of mainly young members, typically in their twenties, all of them fully committed to the church.
One day as my sister was talking to a friend about the church, her friend who had discussed this matter with a psychologist questioned the church and its practices. After explaining to the psychologist about what happens during mass, she realized for the first time in over a year of being a part of this church, the control it had over her. She was hypnotized—for real.
For an entire year, this church was hypnotizing my sister into believing everything its leaders taught. It suddenly hit her, as she was speaking with her friend about this, that before every mass the pastor would stand in front of the entire room of people and say “You’re getting sleepy, you’re getting sleepy”.
My sister saved herself. She managed to escape this church before it took over her life for good. She broke the hypnotic trance she had been in for a year and is now able to discuss this serious matter with her friends who were also hypnotized. For some of them, it is too late. They won’t admit to the fact that the pastor hypnotizes them nor will they associate with people who leave their church. Our family, of course, is thankful to have my sister back. This experience will forever stay with her and has reminded us all to never trust a person’s actions unless you know the motives behind them.