I opened my mailbox today to find a copy of a book called The Great Controversy. It’s unknown to most sane people, but it’s a second bible to the brainwashed followers of the Seventh-day Adventist cult. People who know anything about me will know that finding it in my mailbox did not brighten my day.
At first, I thought some Adventist robot had come by and dropped it in my mailbox. As the postman made his way down the other side of the street, I asked him if he’d delivered it. He was very apologetic.
“Believe me,” he said, shaking his head, “I don’t like delivering it anymore than you like getting it. But they dropped off six pallets of these things last night. They went to everybody in town.”
I’ve written at length about my upbringing in the Seventh-day Adventist cult, so I’m not going to rehash any of that here. If you’re interested, Google me and you’ll find it. Right now, I’m more interested in the fact that the cult is obviously so desperate that it’s resorting to something called “The Great Controversy Project,” an effort to distribute massive numbers of this book all over the country. It’s pretty funny, actually.
The Great Controversy was written by Ellen G. White (pictured above), the founder and so-called “prophet” of the Seventh-day Adventist cult. (The cult likes to call her the “co-founder,” giving some of the blame to her enabler husband, but it doesn’t fly — it’s Ellen’s baby.) The current edition was originally published in 1911, but it’s been around in one form or another since 1888. There are volumes of her writings, much of which are taken up by her descriptions of the “visions” she claimed god showed her. That’s what Adventists believe, anyway. It is widely known — and has been for 30 years — that White was an accomplished plagiarist who shamelessly lifted at least 80% of her writings from the work of others, and not only did she fail to give them credit, she claimed that god “showed” her all of these things.
She was a stern, power-hungry woman who admitted in a 1911 letter (which was reprinted in her book Counsels on Diet and Food) that she was an alcoholic. It’s also believed by many that, after being hit in the head with a rock when she was a child and being in what sounds an awful lot like a coma for weeks, untreated, she suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, which frequently results in religious fanaticism. Her combined writings are a toxic blend of stolen work, emotional terrorism, ignorance, lies, and just plain lunacy.
She wrote, among other things, that god showed her that “other races” were the result of humans having sex with animals; that reading fiction can cause physical paralysis and insanity, and that masturbation — one of her favorite topics — would cause a long list of ailments including diabetes, bleeding of the lungs, insanity, cancer and death; that god took her to Jupiter, which she claimed was inhabited by “a tall, majestic people, so unlike the inhabitants of earth”; that England would attack and defeat the U.S. during the Civil War and that slavery would exist in the U.S. until the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Adventists are very proud of the “health message” that god showed Ellen and that she passed on to them. This “health message” has at its center a vegetarian diet, which Adventists today will tell you is strictly for health reasons. The sad fact is that even they don’t know the truth behind it because the cult has done a crafty job of covering up some of the more embarrassing claims made by their infallible prophet of god, especially to the faithful, who continue to be deliberately lied to about everything. One of those embarrassing claims — the one that started the whole Adventist vegetarian thing — was that eating meat (and spicy foods) would inflame the “animal passions” in a human being and make him or her want to masturbate, and at the very foundation of Ellen’s “health message” was the claim that virtually all of the ailments that plague humankind come from masturbation.
Those are only a few examples of what the Seventh-day Adventist cult really is. It’s all insanity. But the cult places Ellen on the same level of significance as biblical prophets, which means all that insanity is the infallible word of god.
The fact that at least 80% of her work was stolen has been known for some time, but it wasn’t until the arrival of the internet that the information became available to anyone who was interested in finding it. That has had an enormous impact on the Seventh-day Adventist cult, as it has on all religion.
In 2011, Josh McDowell of the Campus Crusade for Christ said that the internet was the biggest threat to Christianity in the world. He claimed, “I made the statement off and on for 10-11 years that the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism. And, folks, that’s exactly what has happened.” That “pervasive skepticism,” of course, has been aimed specifically at what McDowell and others are peddling. They don’t like it. It’s bad for business. That “abundance of information” is inspiring people to turn their backs on religion’s lies.
Nothing damages the nonsense claims of religion more than access to information, and it has been devastating to the Seventh-day Adventist cult, because it has much more to hide than most. Between 2000 and 2005 alone, 1.5 million people left Adventism. I have nothing to back me up on this, but I’m guessing that most of those people left because they figured out it’s nothing but a scam on the same level as pyramid marketing or chain letters.
It’s one thing for someone like Ellen White — a Victorian-era alcoholic plagiarist who possibly suffered from brain damage, was obsessed with masturbation, and amassed a following of largely ignorant rural people who had trouble spelling their own names — to write the things she did at the time that she wrote them. But it’s quite another for the fat, expensively dressed executives of the Seventh-day Adventist corporation to support what she wrote, to insist that it came from god, and to condemn anyone who doesn’t accept it in 2012 when they know it’s all a bunch of crap.
Adventism makes tithing a salvational issue. If you’re an Adventist and you don’t hand over 10% of all your earnings to the church, you are damned. That might sound silly to you, but imagine if you were raised to believe that. My parents, Ray and Pat Garton, had very little in their lives. They were uneducated and struggled to get by. And yet, they never failed to give 10% of their meager earnings to the Seventh-day Adventist cult — because they were afraid not to. In return, the church has done absolutely nothing for them. When I was a boy, my mother used to clean the Anderson, California, Seventh-day Adventist church. That was her job. She was the janitor. And they treated her like shit. I watched it. I was there. I saw the contempt, the disdain. And yet she practically wept with gratitude whenever any of those arrogant, hateful people so much as spoke to her. She feels no different to this day. She’s 82 years old and has told me more than once that her religion is the most important thing in life to her — more important than her family.
The cult has a vast private school system, second only to the Catholic church, which it despises and claims is the “beast of Revelation.” However much the cult may rail against the Catholic church, it follows their lead in shuffling around any faculty members who get caught fondling or fucking their children; their crimes are covered up and they are transferred to other positions in other schools. At the school I attended (then Lawncrest Junior Academy, now Redding Adventist Academy), we had a principal who, unknown to us at the time, had been a teacher at another school in the system and had been caught fondling little girls. They covered it up and moved him, promoting him to the position of principal at our school. The Adventist school system encourages its students to go into lucrative fields. The “my son the doctor” syndrome is not limited to the Jewish faith — it is alive and well in Adventism, where the great hope is that all Adventist students will be financially successful so the 10% it sucks out of them will amount to as much as possible.
The Seventh-day Adventist cult is a corporation and the brand’s logo is Ellen G. White. That logo has been tarnished for a long time, and word is spreading far and wide that the only thing the cult has to stand on — the lunatic writings of this perverted madwoman — is a lie. Without White, the Adventists are nothing more than Seventh-day Baptists or Jews for Jesus. Ellen is what sets them apart. And she has been exposed. (If this sort of thing interests you, all the information you need about White has been assembled at two large websites here and here.)
How does the cult respond to the fact that it’s hemorrhaging members? By launching “The Great Controversy Project” and sending out massive numbers of this plagiarized book of fear and insanity that it hopes no one knows anything about. It might show up in your mailbox soon, if it hasn’t already.
Hey, when your postman actually apologizes for delivering something to your mailbox, you know it can’t be good.
The cult puts up a great front for outsiders and has managed to fool many who know little or nothing about them into admiring them. But within the invisible walls that surround this isolated, insular cult, Adventists are like spiders and snakes — they eat their own. The damage they do to their own people, especially the children they raise in fear and ignorance, is incalculable.
I’ve been on Facebook for a few years. I started an account mostly to promote my books, but I ended up meeting a lot of wonderful people who have, much to my surprise, actually brought a lot of enjoyment to my life. The downside is that all the people from my Seventh-day Adventist past oozed out of the woodwork. These were people I’d gone to school with or known in church as I was growing up, people who always disapproved of me, though they frequently assured me that they loved me “anyway,” to let me know they were such righteous folk that they were willing to love scum like me even though I didn’t deserve it. On Facebook, they went to work on me immediately. They did not see me as a person, of course, but as a project, as someone who needed to be fixed, brought back, saved.
Bob Mason, pastor of the Ceres, California, Seventh-day Adventist church, was one of the most active. He was soooo nice. Just gushing with sweetness. He frequently pointed out to me, without hesitation or shame, that he was being nice to me even though I’m a horror writer and a non-believer, as if he expected some kind of reward. When Christopher Hitchens died last year and I posted about it, Pastor Bob revealed his fangs when he made an intentionally nasty comment suggesting that I saw Hitchens as a secular Jesus Christ. Up to that point, I’d tolerated his cloying, artificial sweetness — knowing full well that it was artificial — but after that, I deleted him.
Then I purged my Facebook page of the most offensive people from my Adventist past. People like Sherrie Fuller-Wendt and her husband Scott, who can’t seem to open their mouths or type on a keyboard without saying something about Jesus or god or Ellen White, so deep is the trance in which they live. Or David Blue, who wanted to know if I had any requests for him to pass on to god the next time they spoke. Or any of the others who simply could not shut. The fuck. Up. About their insane beliefs. The contents of my Facebook page leave no doubt about who I am today and that I’m not interested in what they’re selling, but they didn’t care, because they don’t see me as a human being. They see me as a possible “get,” someone they could lure back to their cult. They are sad, pathetic people who, due to fear and willful ignorance, are unable or unwilling to see just how vile their behavior is and exactly what horrible people it’s turned them into.
I don’t seek them out. I want nothing to do with the Seventh-day Adventist cult or its followers. But it keeps popping up in my life. I don’t want to hear Adventists — or anyone else — express their concern for my soul. It’s none of their business. The Seventh-day Adventist cult has done more than enough damage in my life, thank you very much. All I want, more than anything, is for it to leave me the hell alone. But it won’t.
And today, I opened my mailbox to find that perverted madwoman’s book, The Great Controversy. It was there thanks to the pastor of the Anderson Seventh-day Adventist church, a sweaty-palmed little English homunculus named Terry Mason (no relation to Pastor Bob, as far as I know). He gave the eulogy at my father’s funeral. I walked out on it. It was clear to me from his first few sentences that he did not know my father, not even a little. Mason described him as a good man who “deeply loved god and his family.” Nope, he didn’t know Dad at all, and couldn’t even successfully pull off pretending to have known him. But those first few sentences were the only ones that even mentioned my father. He then launched into a commercial for his cult with a retelling of the story of Lazarus, one of the zombies in the bible. (Somehow, what I do — writing horror fiction — is wrong, but Pastor Mason has no problem with telling zombie stories at the funeral of a man he claimed to know but didn’t.) So my wife and I stood up and left.
Like all clergymen, Mason is a professional liar. But he’s a liar for a corporation/cult that is made up of nothing but lies. Therefore, he has no qualms about sending to everyone in town a copy of a book that is known to have been plagiarized by a woman who admitted to being a drunk while she was telling everyone not to drink alcohol, a woman we now know — we don’t suspect, we don’t speculate, we KNOW — was full of the worst kind of steaming, glistening, fly-drawing shit.
All religion is a form of self-imposed mental illness, but the Seventh-day Adventist cult is a gothic insane asylum. It’s members cling desperately to the lies it has indoctrinated into most of them from infancy onward, lies that come with crippling fear and paranoia and have rendered so many of them unable to function productively outside the cult. And now it’s trying to spread its insanity in the form of this book of stolen words and deliberate falsehoods. It may be coming to your mailbox soon. If it does, it came from your local Seventh-day Adventist church.
My advice? It should go straight from the mailbox into the garbage can. With apologies to your garbage can.