DVDS

The Marks of a Cult The Marks of a Cult: A Biblical Analysis by The Apologetics Group- This does mention Oneness Pentecostalism and the United Pentecostal Church. From Amazon: "In today's religiously diverse and relativistic culture, labeling a group a cult may seem extreme to many people, not to mention rude. Even people who believe in absolute Truth and further believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal life can get confused about just what constitutes real Christianity. Just why are Baptists properly considered Christians, but Mormons are not? Or why is the Jehovah's Witness religion classified as an anti-Christian cult while Presbyterians or Wesleyans or Pentecostals are simply seen as denominations within the Christian faith? With the explosion of different sects that claim to honor and follow Jesus, how does one differentiate between true Biblical Christianity and an aberrant religious movement? Just what are the marks of a cult? Join us for 'The Marks of a Cult' as it takes you on a journey into the heart of Biblical revelation and the constant struggle of truth against lies, the apostolic faith against the "doctrines of demons."" Rent from Amazon.com here. Watch it free on YouTube.




Audience of One Audience of One Directed by Michael Jacobs- This documentary that was first seen in early 2007, revolves around Richard Gazowsky, a United Pentecostal Church minister, who believes God directed him to make a $50 million biblical science fiction film. According to his blog, he still believes this as of March 2012. From Amazon: "AUDIENCE OF ONE is a documentary that chronicles the making of "Gravity". This verite-style film goes inside a Pentecostal church, where the charismatic Gazowsky leads his loyal cast and crew on an incredible journey that tests the limits of faith. From pre-production at their church, to shooting principal photography in Italy, to leasing an enormous studio on an island in the San Francisco Bay, AUDIENCE OF ONE keeps pace with an embattled church production looking to God in order to keep their dream alive. Full of humor and pathos, what transpires is a story of obsession, faith and delusion." If you get the DVD, watch it also with the director commentary. It isn't exciting, but you should be blown away by what Gazowsky says will happen with their church.


B0038RC2DA: Three Generations of Pentecostal Women Jesus Loves You Where You Are: Three Generations of Pentecostal Women- This documentary is about three generations of a family that was involved in the United Pentecostal Church. It is about 30 minutes long and a main focus of the film is on the outward standards. It could have been better made.







Joy Unspeakable Documentary- This is an old film from 1981 that is just under an hour. From the website: "Joy Unspeakable is an ethnographic film that examines the question, what does it mean to be Pentecostal, through the documentation of three types of Oneness Pentecostal services in Southern Indiana: a gospel-rock concert, a regular Sunday service, and a camp meeting. Religious behavior, doctrine, and social values are discussed by several Oneness Pentecostal church members and ministers in interviews interspersed with footage of the various services." It may be watched in its entirety for free at the link provided. In addition, some might be interested in a book by Elaine Lawless, one of the people involved in the film, that also covers Oneness Pentecostals. It is from 1988 and titled God's Peculiar People: Women's Voices & Folk Tradition in a Pentecostal Church.



Marjoe Marjoe starring Marjoe Gortner- Highly recommended, but you are warned that it may be difficult for some to watch. From Amazon: "There's more to Marjoe than the exposure of an evangelical fraud. Directed by Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan, this Oscar winning 1972 documentary operates on a number of levels as it follows Marjoe Gortner, a fire-and-brimstone preacher who had been raised, since becoming an ordained minister at the age of 4, to preach the Gospel to a large flock of believers. It didn't matter that young Marjoe was himself a non-believer, or that he would eventually trade his Bible-belt revival tours for the hedonistic pleasures of the 1960s counterculture. What we witness in Marjoe is the power of charisma, and the sheer vitality of a born showman whose fervor--regardless of its falseness--had a profound effect on Christians all around the country, to the extent that Marjoe Gortner achieved a kind of spiritual celebrity by the time he exposed himself as a phony in the early 1970s. Smith and Kernochan capture Gortner's essence with such candor that he emerges as an amiable narcissist, betraying his own selfishness and self-loathing yet honest enough to confess the "business" of harvesting cash donations from his Pentecostal audiences." You may also view it below.


Pint-Sized Preachers Pint-Sized Preachers starring Kanon Tipton- This is a 2011 show from the National Geographic Channel on young "preachers." It features two child ministers, one being Kanon Tipton, whose family is heavily involved in the United Pentecostal Church. From an editorial review: "Still only a pre-schooler, Kanon Tipton takes the pulpit at his family's church and like a seasoned evangelist fervently preaches the gospel, mopping his forehead, shouting, waving his arms, the congregation hanging on his every word. But he's just 4-years-old. Go inside the controversial world of child evangelists to follow two rising-stars and one established child minister as they spread God's word and bring congregations to their feet." I cannot help but think of the story of Marjoe when I hear about this boy. The UPC even gave him time to "preach" at the 2012 General Conference for a few minutes, where he said some of the same things repeatedly and mentioned the devil numerous times. You may view it in its entirety below. After that is part of the National Geographic show.


Paradise Recovered Paradise Recovered an independent film- Released in April 2012 and definitely recommended. Very few movies tackle the subject of spiritual abuse. It was written by Andie Redwine, who was involved in an unhealthy group. This is not about any one group, but is a compilation of about 18 different groups. The chemistry between the main three actors makes the movie especially enjoyable. The more I have seen the film, the more it has grown on me. From an Amazon review: "It is the story of a young woman caught up in a Christian cult who discovers what she believes and is taught by the cult, is not what the leadership of the cult lives out. In a delightfully light, humorous manner the movie presents the recapture of her own freedom and grace while she forms a relationship with a young man questioning his own spiritual beliefs and heritage." Watch an interview with the author and director here.



Divergent Divergent- A film with many parallels to unhealthy churches. See my article about The Movie Divergent & Unhealthy Churches for more detailed information.








Martha Marcy May Marlene Martha Marcy May Marlene starring Elizabeth Olsen- This film does not address religious issues but is about a woman who leaves an unhealthy and dangerous group of people, who are led by one man. Through flashbacks we see how she was assimilated into this group of people, who are not what they seem to be. You need to pay attention while watching the film due to the many flashback sequences. While the title of the film is unusual, you will understand it as you watch the film. Warning: the film has nudity and sex scenes. The ending leaves you hanging, wondering what will happen next. May be triggering to some. John Hawkes, who plays the group leader, is also in the movie "Higher Ground."






Higher Ground Higher Ground starring Vera Farmiga- John Hawkes, who appeared in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," is also in this film. The film was inspired by the memoir, This Dark World, written by Carolyn Briggs. Briggs stated, "The characters on screen found their genesis in my life and my memoir, but they take on a life of their own in the film. There are some invented scenes in the film, three major scenes in particular. Conversely, some episodes from my life that didn't make it into my memoir now appear in the screenplay." The film does briefly show and mention speaking in tongues in about three places. Warning: The film has sexual content. From the DVD: "Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, Higher Ground, depicts the landscape of a tight-knit spiritual community thrown off-kilter when one of their own begins to question her faith. ...The film tells the story of a thoughtful woman's struggles with belief, love and trust. A woman who learns that no matter how many times she loses her footing, she has within herself all that's necessary to get to a higher place." Read a review by former UPC member Brian LePort here.



the Wave The Wave- From a review on Amazon: "The Wave is set in modern day Germany. A high school curriculum has students enrolling in special projects based on different forms of government. A popular teacher (a great Jurgen Vogel) tries to invigorate his seminar on autocracy by stimulating discussion in unorthodox ways. He leads the class in exercises in discipline, uniformity, and communal ideals. The students are so taken, they start really coming together. It's as if by providing order and structure, the kids are getting something they didn't know they were missing. But this new group spirit also brings about a certain elitism and brashness. Some are taking the experiment a bit far, and those that oppose them must face the repercussions. As the days progress, the situation becomes increasingly tense." The original made-for-tv film may be purchased here and watched on YouTube below.



The Village The Village starring Joaquin Phoenix- Though not about unhealthy churches, The Village has spoken to a number of people who have exited them. The manufactured fear over a creature meant to 'protect' the people from the outside world and the control of the community members, keeping them in the dark about the truth of their situation and forcing them to live as people did years ago---many former members have connected with these aspects of the film. Since it is not about any church group, some may be able to more freely watch it and gain some insight into their own situation. Watch it on YouTube below.


The Shunning The Shunning starring Danielle Panabaker- From Amazon: "The Shunning refers to the ultimate punishment among the Amish--someone who's committed an offense against the community may not be spoken to or looked at until true repentance is achieved. It's not revealing too much to say that it's Katie who becomes the target of this punishment. But the threads of drama surrounding the crisis--expertly directed by Michael Landon Jr.--keep the viewer, and most of the townspeople, guessing about the "whole story." The Shunning is a drama about people, connections, love, and loss, and it's told with respect and heart."




Beyond the Gates of Splendor Beyond the Gates of Splendor with Steve Saint- For anyone who is struggling in the area of forgiveness, I highly recommend watching the movie. I don't know a better story of human forgiveness than what happened with the families of five missionaries who were murdered by those with whom they were sharing the Gospel. The documentary interviews many people who were involved and includes actual footage shot by the men in their last hours. Through their deaths and because of the forgiveness of their families, an entire brutal tribe of people were transformed by the Good News. Of particular note to me was when one of the relatives asks to be water baptized years later by some of the very men who were involved in the murders. I love this movie- it is powerful. You might also like the movie End of the Spear, though this isn't all accurate.






Revival of Evil/Cult Explosion Revival of Evil/Cult Explosion with Walter Martin- I don't list this for the first film, Revival of Evil. It is recommended for the Cult Explosion section. From Amazon: "Cults sound like Christianity and look like Christianity; they even claim to have the truth. Surprisingly, 78% of all cult groups are made up of people who have previously attended Christian churches. Cult expert Dr. Walter Martin and former Hindu Guru Robi Maharaj, explain the attraction of cults. Testimonies from ex-cult leaders disclose the secret inner core of: People's Temple, Worldwide Church of God, Moonies, Hare Krishna, Christian Science, Scientology, Mormons, Jehovah s Witnesses, T.M., Black Muslims, Unity and the Manson Family."






Join Us Join Us from Ondi Timoner- This documentary spends some time following people from this group while they are seeking help from Wellspring in Ohio. From Amazon: "There are thousands of cults in America...this is the story of one. Join Us explores the subject of mind control by following four families and the cult leader over two years as they leave the group - seeking treatment and justice against him. Using an intimate verite' style and hidden cameras, award-winning filmmakers Ondi Timoner, Vasco Lucas Nunes, and Tim Rush infiltrate the cult and its leaders to create an emotional and human portrait, exploring why America is the number one breeding ground of cults in the world, and how mind control can happen to anyone." Watch some clips from it on YouTube below.



The Source Family The Source Family starring Jim Baker- Warning: This film has nudity. This documentary is about a group from California in the 70s that went through numerous changes. The 'father' was Jim Baker, who had a criminal past. He had some health food restaurants and his place was very popular during its days, even with Hollywood celebrities dropping in. He started out calling himself "father" and the film points out that during this time of turmoil in the USA, there were many young people who did not get along with their fathers and were glad to find a strong father figure in Baker. Their activities caught the eye of the law and things started changing more and more. Near the end it looked like it could have gone the step further to be like Waco or Guyana, but thankfully it did not.

Baker decided that people needed to marry as one of the problems law enforcement had with the group was the young girls. They all moved in together at a home they rented until neighbors, concerned by what happened in the Tate/LaBianca murders nearby, pressured the owner to move them out. Then as time went on, though he was married to a woman much younger than himself, he decided to take on more wives. Group members legally changed their names to the ones he gave them, names such as Isis, Electricity, Sunflower and more. Middle names were "the" and last names were "Aquarian." It appears some former members yet go by these names.

They had many unhealthy practices and included the use of marijuana into their daily ritual. The leader seemed to incorporate a bunch of different beliefs into what he taught. And they believed they were a special group of people....this should speak volumes to those who have been caught up in unhealthy groups. They all think they are somehow special and set apart from others.

He later proclaimed he was God and the group sold their restaurant and moved to an island in Hawaii, where they were not welcomed. (At least several of them yet live there.) This seemed to bring about some paranoia and Baker spoke of them protecting themselves and they had some guns. Near the very end he renounced his proclamation that he was God and died in 1975 after a hang gliding accident. (As I watched the film, I wondered if he didn't do that as a way to commit suicide without it being obvious.) The group stuck together for about two more years when the members that remained went their separate ways in 1977.

The woman who was appointed the historian of the group, as she took pictures and kept records of their activities, still believes she is in contact with Baker and has not been released of her duties. She wrote a book about the group and helped in the making of the documentary. Because they had a historian, the documentary is filled with actual pictures, home movies and some audio. There are several people interviewed who were part of the group and most of those still seemed influenced and affected by Jim Baker. Some claimed to see miracles. Some said they did not regret their time in the group, though they would not wish to do it again.

This is a good example of how a group of people came together and ended much differently from how they started. It shows how the leader increasingly became more self important and took on more unhealthy practices until he declared himself to be God. And many of the people just continued to follow him, though some left at different points of time, such as when he took on more wives.

Some will be interested in the blog of a former six year member of this group.

Prior to this, a young man put together a documentary of interviews with former members of the group and it is titled "Re-Visiting Father and the Source Family." It may be watched on YouTube.



Kumare Kumare starring Vikram Gandhi- Warning: There is a brief period where you see most of him from the back when he is over in India and wearing a thong type garment. This is not a Christian film and Christianity is hardly mentioned but Christians should watch it. What interested me is that it showed how easily some people can get pulled into a belief system. This was made by a son of first generation Hindu immigrants to the USA. He is from NJ and I believe he was in his 30s.

Vikram comes from a long line of religious Hindus. He was brought up with being taught Hindu mythology, philosophy & ancient rituals. He stated that at times some of the rituals were embarrassing. He began to question why people needed religion in the first place and his study of religion in college made him more of a skeptic than what he already was. At the time this was happening with him, yoga was becoming the answer to all western problems and was a 5 billion dollar business. (For those unaware, Yoga involves more than just an exercise regimen.)

He wanted to know if spiritual leaders were for real, so he started making a documentary. He found what he believed to be lots of fakes (you see some in the film) and shared that everyone acted like each were different from others in some significant way, but he didn't see it.

He left the USA and traveled to India in an attempt to find a true spiritual leader, but felt they were just as phoney as in America. Some claimed to be more authentic than others & he felt they were trying to out guru each other. Then he guessed his problem wasn't with spirituality, but rather with spiritual leaders and wondered why we needed them. He decided he wanted to prove to others who were looking for answers, that no one is more spiritual than anyone else. He felt spiritual leaders were just illusions and that we're the ones who decide who and what is real.

This led to the thought - could people find the same peace from a made up religion that they found in a real one? He remembered a peace he felt when his Hindu grandmother would say her prayers. Vikram decided that he could look like a guru and grew his hair long, grew a beard and started practicing yoga. Then he started appearing in public.

At first he said it was fun and like a prank. He made up chants, nonsense rituals and yoga moves. Then he decided to go far from where he lived to see what he could do. Two women were in on it with him and helped him get people to come hear him and helped teach. He made up a philosophy, chants, yoga moves, a blue light teaching, and more. It was said that everyone's truth would be different as the answer was inside each person and Kumare (the guru name he gave himself) would bring this out in people. He basically wanted to teach that the guru was inside each person and so was their happiness.

Here is where it got interesting to me, as he began meeting people. Some said they felt a connection with him or felt something special or different about him or that they felt better in his presence. A woman who read auras told him that there was a white glow around him that was pure. She claimed that she felt he was very special before they met. Then there was the past life psychic woman, who claimed she felt warmer than normal with him and felt that was due to his energy. She saw a sea of other Kumares (keep in mind that Kumare is a totally made up thing) behind him and like they were pointing to this being his time to be here as Kumare (like he was marinated in energy). She added that he had ascended master status and saw purple with red above and saw the archangel Metatron (sp?).

Time goes on and he has a small regular following of men and women. Near the end of their time together, he sets up an unveiling time, where they are to reveal their true self. He was to come clean then but couldn't. So that part comes a little later in the film where we find his followers watching him on film after he had been away for awhile. Then he shows up clean shaven and his hair cut and in normal clothing.

It was interesting watching their reactions as they watched him first on film and then he arrived as he really was. One woman who operated a Yoga facility walked out and I think it said she had no more contact with him (she had incorporated some of his teachings in her classes). It said that 10 out of 14 people still kept in contact. The majority of the people accepted him and what he did and some still seemed to believe he had something/was something special.

While I can't say I like how he pretended to be the guru Kumare, it reinforced for me how much fakery is out there. These "psychics" and what not normally don't tell you they see that you are a regular person. It is most times something special, something great or unique. The past life psychic stood out, as did the aura reader, because a few members of my family (& myself) had been caught up in some of these things when I was younger.

It appears most everyone never looked into who this guy was or researched his teaching. One man (who teaches God is sound and does a strange session with people) mentioned he looked him up on the Internet.

The Cult Of Faith- There is a short documentary from the UK called The Cult of Faith that may be watched on YouTube. It briefly touches on several groups, including the Children of God and The ICOC. Warning: There is some graphic content.

Updated September 2, 2016


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