A leading expert in cult organizations called the group hoping to take over the Pocono Dome specialists in brainwashing, ruining families and separating its members from their money.
The World Mission Society Church of God hopes to purchase the Pocono Dome in Sciota and convert it to a retreat. On , a Hamilton Township hearing will consider the church’s application for a special exemption to use the facility for its activities.
Rick Ross, an author and the director of the Trenton, N.J. based Cult Education Institute said the World Mission Society Church of God believes that their female leader is God. They call her Mother God and believe that God is embodied in her.
“They are responsible for bankruptcies because of excessive donations, and people have lost jobs because of the excessive demands of the group and because of excessive sleep deprivation,” he said.
The members are often put up in group housing and shared apartments. They become estranged from family and friends, Ross said.
“There are families that haven’t spoken to their adult children for years because of their involvement in the group. It’s ended marriages. This is a very intense group and similar to the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon, whose followers were called Moonies. Their techniques of indoctrination have often been compared with the Unification Church,” he said.
Ross claims the group entered the U.S. and very soon thereafter established a hub in Ridgewood N.J., spreading its organizations throughout the northeast.
“Recently, they had a conference that thousands of people attended. The group has been spreading into Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, an aggressive group growing rapidly throughout the U.S.”
He said the church recruits members in malls, on university campuses and have even attracted followers in Costco.
Ross said the group is lacking meaningful accountability of its leadership.
“It is run by a dictatorship from Korea,” Ross said. “This organization takes in millions of dollars a year, which has been disclosed in court records. There is no financial transparency like a budget that discloses disbursements from funds collected annually.”
Ross lists The World Mission Society Church of God alongside organizations like the Waco Davidians, Neo Nazis and the Manson Family in a database of cult groups (https://www.culteducation.com/group.html).
A representative for the church did not respond to calls for comment for this story.
Ross refers to himself as a leading expert on cult organizations. His book, “Cults Inside Out,” has been translated into Chinese and Italian. He’s a cult specialist, court qualified as an expert witness in 10 states and the U.S. federal courts as a consultant on authoritarian groups. He said he has given expert testimony and lectures at universities across the country and in Asia since 1982. He’s also done more than 500 interventions across the globe, many regarding The World Mission Society Church of God, one as recently as Dec. 2016.
Ross said he has worked with law enforcement, including the FBI, the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms and as a consultant to the Israeli government, and has also been consulted by the U.S. Congress.