Familiar story of infidelity

Carol Askhew and Bob McCue share common ground.

Edmonton Sun/April 19, 2006

Five years ago, the Washington state woman moved to Edmonton to support John de Ruiter, the self-styled "embodiment of truth."

Her trust in him fell apart, as did McCue's faith in Mormon founder Joseph Smith, when the guru was caught cheating. Infidelity is common among spiritual leaders: at least a dozen from around the globe have been caught either cheating on spouses or used supposedly "divine" powers to justify sex with followers in the last 15 years alone.

Justified promiscuity

As some historians contend was the case with Smith, de Ruiter also initially denied, then justified, his promiscuity by saying his manifestation of power - in his case "inner truth," in Smith's "God" - told him it was OK. Many supporters stuck by him, just as Smith's stuck by him.

"He was pretty ballsy when the whole thing came down," says Askhew, who has since moved back to Washington state but has kept in touch with friends she made while part of the group. "I asked him whether he felt responsible for the group and for being a guide to how to live his teachings. And he basically said he wasn't forcing anyone to do anything.

Outward Appearance

De Ruiter's outward appearance of being a good family man to his wife and three kids initially cemented her interest.

"He always said we have to honour marriage," she said. "But when I heard what was going on, it just seemed very mean, very mean to his wife and children. To me, the decision to leave came down to how he actually lived day-to-day.

"Anyone can talk about how love should be paramount. But it's how you live day-to-day, when all the shitty things happen to you or the people you love, when you have important decisions to make. Those decisions are what's important."

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