Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.1
The ten characteristics outlined below are features commonly found in cult leaders2. I would ask those that know Edward Byskal whether these traits are exhibited in his leadership of Cloverdale Bibleway Church.
1. Glibness/Superficial charm
Glibness, the ability to perform with a natural, offhand ease, is a hallmark of cult leaders. They are able to use language effortlessly to beguile, confuse, and convince. They are captivating storytellers. They exude self-confidence and are able to spin a web that intrigues others and pulls them into the leader’s life. Most of all, they are persuasive. Frequently they have the capacity to destroy their critics verbally or disarm them emotionally.
2. Manipulative and Cunning
Cult leaders do not recognize the individuality or rights of others, which makes all self-serving behaviors permissible. Their hallmark is interpersonal manipulation based on charm. The manipulator appears to be helpful and but is covertly hostile, domineering. He discharges powerful feelings of fear and rage by dominating and humiliating his victims. He is particularly successful when, through an overlay of charm, he makes an ally of his victim.
3. Grandiose Sense of Self
The cult leader enjoys tremendous feelings of entitlement. He believes everything is owed to him as a right. He presents himself as spiritually superior, enlightened, a vehicle of God, a genius, the group’s rightful leader, and sometimes even the most humble of humble. He has an insatiable need for adulation and attendance. His grandiosity may also be a defense against inner emptiness, depression, and a sense of insignificance. Paranoia often accompanies the grandiosity, reinforcing the isolation of the group and the need for protection against a perceived hostile environment. In this way, he creates an us-versus-them mentality.
4. Pathological Lying
Cult leaders lie coolly and easily, even when it is obvious they are being untruthful. Confronting their lies may provoke an unpredictably incense rage or simply a Buddha-like smile.
Cult leaders tend to create a complex belief system, often about their own powers and abilities, in which they themselves sometimes get caught up. It is often difficult to determine whether the lies are an actual delusional distortion of reality or are expressed with the conscious or unconscious intent to deceive.
They are extremely convincing, forceful in the expression of their views, and talented at passing lie detector tests. For them, objective truth does not exist. The only “truth” is whatever will best achieve the outcome that meets their needs. This type of opportunism is very difficult to understand for those who are following the cult leader. For this reason, followers are more apt to invent or go along with all kinds of explanations and rationales for apparent inconsistencies in behaviour. “I know my leader must have had a good reason for doing this.“
5. Lack of Remorse, Shame, or Guilt
At the core of the cult leader is a deep-seated rage which is split off (i.e, psychologically separated from the rest of the self) and repressed. Some researchers theorize that this is caused by feeling abandoned in infancy or early childhood. Whatever the emotional or psychological source, cult leaders see those around them as objects, targets, or opportunities, not as people. They do not have friends, they have victims and accomplices-and the latter frequently end as victims. For cult leaders, the ends always justify the means. Thus there is no place for feelings of remorse, shame, or guilt. Cult leaders feel justified in all their actions since they consider themselves the ultimate moral arbiter. Nothing gets in their way.
6. Shallow Emotions
While they may display outbursts of emotion, more often than not they are putting on a calculated response to obtain a certain result. They rarely reveal a range of emotions, and what is seen is superficial at best, pretended at worst. Positive feelings of warmth, joy, love, and compassion are more feigned than experienced. They are unmoved by things that would upset the normal person, while disturbed by seemingly insignificant matters. They are bystanders to the emotional life of others, perhaps envious and scornful of feelings they cannot have or understand. In the end, cult leaders are cold, with shallow emotions, living in a dark world of their own.
Hiding behind the “mask of sanity,” the cult leader exposes feelings only insofar as they serve an ulterior motive. He casts himself in a role of total control, which he plays to the hilt. What is most promised in cults–peace, joy, enlightenment, love, and security are goals that are forever out of reach of the leader, and thus also the followers. Since the leader is not genuine, neither are his promises
7. Incapacity for Love
As the “living embodiment of God’s love,” the leader is tragically flawed in being unable to either give or receive love. The leader’s love is never tested; it must be accepted at face value.
8. Need for Stimulation
Cult leaders live on the edge, constantly testing the beliefs of their followers, often with strange behaviour or rules. Other mechanisms of stimulation come in the form of unexpected, seemingly spontaneous outbursts, which usually take the form of verbal abuse and sometimes physical punishment. The cult leader has a cool indifference to things around him, yet his icy coldness can quickly turn into rage, vented on those around him.
9. Callousness/lack of empathy
Cult leaders readily take advantage of others, expressing utter contempt for anyone else’s feelings. Someone in distress is not important to them. Although intelligent, perceptive, and quite good at sizing people up, they make no real connections with others. They use their “people skills” to exploit, abuse, and wield power.
Cult leaders are unable to empathize with the pain of their victims. Meanwhile, part of the victims’ denial system is the inability to believe that someone they love so much could consciously and callously hurt them. It therefore becomes easier to rationalize the leader’s behavior as necessary for the general or individual “good.” The alternative for the devotee would be to face the sudden and overwhelming awareness of being victimized, deceived, used. Such a realization would wound the person’s deepest sense of self, so as a means of self-protection the person denies the abuse. When and if the devotee becomes aware of the exploitation, it feels as though a tremendous evil has been done.
10. Failure to accept responsibility
Cult leaders rarely accept blame for their failures or mistakes. Scape-goating is common, blaming followers, those outside the group, a member’s family, the government, Satan–anyone and everyone but the leader. Blame is a powerful reinforcer of passivity and obedience, producing guilt, shame, terror, and conformity in the followers.
On a more personal note, this will likely be my last blog. Why? I had only originally wanted to do a couple of blogs on the women’s issue and then found out way more than I wanted to know.
But now I don’t really have much more to say. I have said all that I wanted to and think it is enough. Also, I don’t like to repeat myself. Have I said that before?
If anyone does have more information that they want me to deal with, please feel free to send it. But I have gone through all of the stuff that I have been sent and would just end up mowing the same part of the lawn again.
There will be some that are unhappy that I am
putting down my pen hanging up my keyboard and others like Mr. Mad that will probably think that my first blog was one too many.
I may start up another blog in the future if I get real upset about something else but we’ll see.
Thanks to all of those that posted comments, whether you agree with me or not. I certainly have learned a lot in the process. Thanks in particular to those like IGWT…AOPC with whom I have had a lot of email exchanges. We have discussed bringing this to an end and I have appreciated his advice.
The blog will stay here for those that are googling for answers. Or those that are looking for questions that a certain Canadian minister should answer before they give him any money. Comments will be able to be posted for 2 more weeks and then they will be closed permanently. But if I don’t approve something for a couple of days, don’t get to upset. When you are out of internet range because you’re traveling, there’s nothing you can do.
My final statement is simply this: There’s never any reason not to ask questions. Do it nicely and in a civilized way but always ask questions. And if you’re in a church and they tell you not to ask questions, it’s really simple. Just leave. It’s probably a cult.
If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.3
On November 13, 2010 I published a piece titled “Don’t Take My Word For It – Listen for Yourself“. That blog contained a link to a sermon by Edward Byskal that was delivered by him at the Cloverdale Bibleway Church on October 3, 2010.
As I said then, while most of the sermons of the church are posted on their website, you can’t get this one. It is mysteriously missing from their website.
Because Edward Byskal does not want you to hear this sermon.
Because perhaps those that heard it would be less likely to send him their hard earned cash.
Unfortunately, the link that I used in the earlier blog was only good for a couple of months and no longer works. Hopefully, the links below will last a lot longer. I want to thank one of my readers for allowing me to use their link on Dropbox.
Here are 2 links(right click on one of them and then save the linked file to your computer):
This is the sermon Edward Byskal does not want you to hear.
Titled “The Age of Deception”, ask yourself while you are listening to Edward Byskal:
Who is being deceived?
Who is the deceiver?
Your comments are welcome.
So are the people that attend the Cloverdale Bibleway Church all asleep? Do they have any clue about what has gone on in their church?
I will confess to not having put up the section in the September 12, 2009 letter on financial issues because they were all looked at in a previous blog. I don’t like to repeat myself.
Have I said that before?
Some have suggested that I am adding commentary to the questions but the questions posted in the prior blogs and in this one are exactly as in the letter of September 12, 2009. The only thing I have done is remove references to anyone other then Edward Byskal, the person to whom the letter was addressed. Any commentary was included by the elders in their original letter.
In this final installment, the church elders raise questions relating to the overall personal conduct of Edward Byskal. The standard warnings from the previous installments continue to apply.
Here it is:
Conduct of a Pastor, Bishop or Spiritual Elder
The following scriptures outline the character and conduct required of a spiritual elder or Pastor:
A bishop then must be blameless… of good behaviour … no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler… I Timothy 3:2-3
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate… Titus 1:7-8
We raise the following specific concerns regarding your conduct and behaviour which we consider to be inappropriate for a pastor:
- 1. Requiring [Mr. Y] to apologize to your grandson after they attempted to deal with his inappropriate behaviour in church. They were not required to apologize to another unrelated young brother who participated in the problematic behaviour with your grandson. It is troubling that you interfered with deacons that were simply trying to do their job and that the interference was only in respect of your grandson and not the other young man.
2. Challenging [Mr. Y], the chair of the deacon board, as to whether “he believed the Message” in referring to your interpretation of a specific quote in a meeting with him.
3. Informing [Mr. L] (a deacon) and [Mr. A] (the church treasurer and a trustee) that they were under the influence of a demon.
4. Physically assaulting [Mr. S] in a meeting that was witnessed by [Mr. J];
5. Verbally and again physically assaulting [Mr. Y], in June 2009 in an incident witnessed by several including [Rev. J], a minister in the church.
6. Verbally abusing [Mr. X] in a phone conversation in November 2008 in which you requested that he and his wife meet with yourself, [your son-in-law] and [your daughter]. You informed him that he was being led of the devil, that his wife was a gossip, and that if he didn’t like the way you did things, he should go to another church. [Mr. X] stated that he had never in his life been spoken to by a brother with such lack of respect.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves… II Timothy 2:24
He [Jesus] was both pastor, prophet, trustee, and deacon. Sure was. So then you see what He did, let that be your example in the house here at this Branham Tabernacle, that we want to be a house that He will be honored in with everything, every office, every place, that there be no taking back. There’d be gentleness, and sweetness, and kindness, but just straight on the line; every man’s at his post of duty. See? That’s the way, that’s the way He wants it. He never slagged. When it come time to say, call what was what, He called it. When it come time to show gentleness, then He showed gentleness. He was sweet, kind, understanding, but stern; and everything was right to the dot with Him, and He did that for your example. CHURCH ORDER 63-1226 (emphasis added)
While we understand that you have apologized to [Mr. Y] in an email for the June 2009 incident, we do not believe that these are appropriate actions for a Pastor or minister of the Gospel. We also believe that apology via email, which has occurred in several situations, is not the appropriate venue for a pastor that has wronged someone.
You have stated to [Mr. A] on several occasions that you “welcomed” the movement of this issue into the courts and that you think that the courtroom is the proper place for dealing with sexual abuse as “it is not a church matter”. That you would make statements such as these is difficult for us to comprehend. However, it is clear that your failure to properly address these issues or to show true humility to [the minor child] [the minor child’s family] or his family have caused them to turn to the police. They did not feel that their concerns would be dealt with properly within the church. This is shameful.
1 How far, Brother Branham, can or should a deacon go to keep order in the church? Should we keep the order or wait until Brother Neville tells us what we should do?
That isn’t Brother Neville’s job, that’s your job. See? You don’t tell Brother Neville what to preach on, how to preach it. See, that’s your job, you deacons, you’re supposed to do that. You take care of that. That’s nothing to Brother Neville, that’s your job. See?
Now, if a policeman’s out here on the street and he sees a man stealing property out of a back of a car, should he call the mayor and say, “Now, Mayor, your Honor, sir, I am working for you here on this police force. Now, I find a man up the street here, he’s–he was stealing some tires off of a car last night. Now, I just wonder, what’s your opinion of that?” Huh! See? See, that wouldn’t be sensible. Would it? No, sir. If he was doing something wrong, arrest him. CHURCH.ORDER_ JEFF.IN COD THURSDAY_ 63-1226
- 1. Why did you indicate to [Mr. X] that the situation had been dealt with, when restitution to the victim had never been made?
2. Although [Mr. X] outlined his concerns to you, why did you not consider at any time that his concerns had any merit but rather were frivolous in nature?
3. Although the concerns regarding [your son-in-law]’s actions have been explained to you on several occasions, why do you still not consider that he did anything wrong? Why are you still defensive of inappropriate business dealings?
4. Why did you resist having [your son-in-law] resign as a trustee? It has already been pointed out that he was ineligible to continue in his position because of his wife’s unfaithfulness. Inappropriate business conduct should also not be acceptable behaviour for those holding spiritual offices within the church.15. In light of all of this, why do you still strongly insist on having [your son-in-law] play his [musical instrument] on the platform?
On we go to Part 4. The following are 7 questions from the September 12, 2009 letter to Edward Byskal about a relative that was holding a position within the church. Edward Byskal never even attempted to meet with the elders to try to answer these questions.
Again we are perplexed by your use of non-scriptural standards when dealing with your family members:
- 1. Why was [Mr. J, a non-relative] asked to step down when [Mr. Z, a relative] was not, even when you were questioned by several brothers as to the appearance of a lack of fairness in the issue?
2. Why did you ignore the advice and concern of Trustees, Deacons and senior members of the church concerning the public revelations of [Mr. Z]‘s alleged unethical business practises? Even if the charges were completely false, prudence would dictate that he step down until he had the opportunity to clear his name. These are standards that the business world generally applies but the standards you have applied appear to fall woefully short of those of the world.
3. Why wasn’t [Mr. Z]’s immediate resignation required from the Board of Trustees when you became aware of [additional problems]?
4. Why were you not forthright in informing the trustees that as pastor you had requested [Mr. Z]’s resignation? Again, simply informing the Trustees that [Mr. Z] had resigned would have been sufficient. However, you appear to have done everything possible to avoid having him resign and to hold on to his positions, notwithstanding his obvious personal and business issues. Were you simply hoping that his personal issues would blow over so he could continue uninterrupted in his positions?
5. Why did you mislead the board and allow [Mr. Z] to attend the trustees meeting in June 2008 after you had requested his resignation? Why would you want him in a trustees meeting in any capacity at all, knowing his questionable dealings?
6. Why was [Mr. Z]’s resignation produced only after you were told the issue would be raised at the trustees meeting if a letter of resignation was not received immediately?7. Why have you not kept your word and obtained [Mr. Z]’s resignation from [another] board when you promised that you would do this?
Here are unanswered questions 11 to 15 which I am presenting as part 3. Standard warnings from the prior 2 parts apply equally here.
- 11. Why have you refused to let this issue be judged by spiritual brothers in a scriptural fashion? [A member of the minor child’s family] met with you shortly after he became aware of [the minor child’s] sexual abuse and requested that the deacons investigate and judge the issue. You indicated that it was completely inappropriate for the deacons to be involved, when Brother Branham indicated that he would support the deacons, would never interfere with their decisions and said the gift of a deacon is to “keep the church clean”.1 Instead you suggested that a lawyer that you had consulted on the issue (who was not a Message believer and who none of us has met) should be used to settle the matter. [Mr. A] specifically requested that you consider allowing senior respected pastors or ministers within our assembly to mediate the issue. Again, you have steadfastly refused.
12. Why did you indicate to [a member of the minor child’s family] that your daughter’s sexual abuse of his brother was not a “church issue”? This appears to be in direct contravention to the principles outlined in I Corinthians 5. Overtly sinful conduct on the part of a church member, particularly one that regularly partook of communion while seated on the platform in plain view of the congregation for a period of over 9 years, is something that should be dealt with and addressed by the church.
13. Why did you not require [your son-in-law] to step down as a trustee as soon as it came to your knowledge that his wife was unfaithful?
The scriptures require that the wife of a deacon (which qualification also applies to a trustee) must be faithful3. [Pastor X], pastor of [another church], came to you several years ago for counselling regarding a brother in the church whose wife had fallen into sin. [Pastor X] confirmed that your advice to him was that, “because of his wife’s transgressions, this brother could not hold any office or responsibility in the church, not even as a song leader.”
Why would you advise others to do certain things in accordance with Scripture – but you yourself are not prepared to follow the same scriptural requirements? Given your advice to [Pastor X], [your daughter]’s infidelity should have caused you to immediately remove [your son-in-law] as a trustee. You did not. Instead it appears your conduct is akin to those whom Jesus referred to in Matthew 23:3 – All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
14. You have indicated to various brothers that you handled the matter of [your daughter]’s infidelity with [the minor child] correctly by the Scriptures and Message. You stated that your daughter’s repentance was sincere and, as a result, her sins, although horrendous in nature, were forgiven and under the blood. You have accused some of us of attempting to take these sins “out from under the blood”. You have stated that the revealing of the sin to [Mrs. Y] “could not have been the Holy Ghost.”
We strongly disagree and, given that [your daughter]’s sexual relations with [the minor child] continued until he was 24 years old, this proves the repentance in 1990 and again in 1996 was not sincere; the sin was not under the blood and was thankfully revealed by the Holy Spirit to various ones in order to cleanse the church of this sin.
15. In emails to several brothers, you indicated that your daughter had lived an exemplary life for the past 18 years, while in fact for 8 of those years she continued to live in an adulterous relationship (as indicated previously the relationship was not discontinued until 1999). You have ministered many times that you are always wary of repentance that results from being caught. Why were you not wary in this case?
It appears that your actions have been based on your daughter’s apparent willingness to repent when she was caught and on your earnest, although misplaced, desire to believe that her lies were the truth. You have sought to bring her to repentance twice but in both instances she fell back into the sin that you had thought she repented of. We would ask the question – has there ever been true repentance or does she continue to live with unforgiven sin in her life?
1 We wonder today, what, why the gifts and things are not in the church, operating the way they should be. Why, the gifts are put in the church to separate and take sin out, to keep the church clean. THE WORLD IS FALLING APART 63-1115 (emphasis added)
In the decisions that was made by the board of trustees and deacons here in the church, of course, they can’t please everyone. We cannot do that. I have not one thing to do with the trustee board or the deacon board. I have not even a vote unless there’s a tie, and I have to be here to do it then;…But what the trustee board and them board’s decision they make, we certainly stand behind them one hundred percent, ’cause that’s what they’re here for. And their decisions is between them and God. I cannot, cannot and would not, by any means, contrary that decision. EVENTS MADE CLEAR BY PROPHECY 65-0801E (emphasis added)
2 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I Timothy 5:20
3 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. I Timothy 3:11