ANGELS & DEMONS Bizarre history of Straitway Truth Ministry after ex-NFLer’s missing son found at ‘compound’ in early morning raid

The U.S. Sun/July 3, 2024

By Brandon Cruz

The history of Straightway Truth Ministry has come to light after the missing son of an ex-NFL player was found on one of the church's properties after not being seen for two weeks.

The Straightway Truth Ministry's pastor, Charles Dowell, has spoken about Bryson Muir and the raid that led to the boy's discovery.

Dowell is the leader of the religious group and uploaded a video on YouTube just hours after police raided one of their religious compounds in Indiana on Wednesday.

The teen's family is part of the religious group.

In a series of videos uploaded on Wednesday, the pastor compared the raid that took place that morning to the 1993 siege of cult leader David Koresh's compound in Waco, Texas.

Despite teen Bryson Muir's face being visibly bruised and swollen, Dowell says that things are not what they seem and that he stands with Muir's parents, former NFL player Daniel Muir and wife Kristen Muir.

The parents were both taken into custody and charged with obstruction of justice on Wednesday after three SWAT teams, cops, K-9 units, and a bomb squad were used in a raid on Straitway's Indiana compound during morning prayer, according to law enforcement.

The teen's grandmother previously told local Fox affiliate WXIN-TV that she believes her grandson is being “brainwashed” by his parents and the religious group they belong to.

“Bryson is so conditioned or brainwashed to their way of living that he wanted to go back,” Wright said of her grandson after discovering his bloody and bruised face when she picked him up on June 16.

The day she picked him up was the last time he was seen before his discovery by police on July 3.

“As I tried to get my daughter to leave he ran out of the house and left with them," Wright said.

Wright says that her grandson said his father is the one who caused the injuries to his face.

Daniel Muir was also charged with domestic battery in addition to the obstruction of justice charge.

Wright also detailed that her daughter, Bryson's mother, said the teen had it coming, and that he "deserved it," according to NBC affiliate WTHR-TV.

"It hurts me that my daughter would allow anyone to do that to her child.”


Straitway Truth Ministry is headquartered in Tennessee but has chapters throughout the country, including in Indiana, where the teen was found.

The church promotes a life of separation from mainstream society, advocating for a return to Biblical law and the commandments as they interpret them.

Some reports suggest that this includes large, communal living, bartering systems, and living conditions so basic that some do not have any running water and use buckets as toilets.

Straitway Ministries have been accused of cult-like behavior, including implementing extreme control over people's lives, financial exploitation, and even social isolation of members from family and friends outside the church.

Former members have also claimed that emotional, psychological, and even sexual abuse, as well as misogyny, are part of life on the compound

Straitway displays a hyper-masculine culture, due to a strict following of the Old Testament, according to former members.

“As a female there, you don’t matter,” former member Esther told Sports Illustrated.

“I grew up learning to hate myself and learning how to be basically a man’s b***h. But men are taught they are Yah’s gift to Earth," she said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights cases, has received several tips about Straitway potentially being a hate group - however, the SPLC has not categorized the group as one.

Dowell says these claims are untrue, that the ministry is simply practicing faith as they believe and strictly following Biblical teachings to live a life outside of what they view as a "corrupt mainstream society," according to New Religious Movements.


Another notable member is Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who was arrested in 2019 for posting threatening messages to his children's school after he objected to their participation in a Christmas program put on by the district.

Police later arrested the former Hall-of-Famer after people described as his "followers" showed up at the children's Christmas event armed with handguns later that same day.

He later explained that Christmas is against his religion, and since three of his children were meant to perform in the pageant against his wishes, he had asked Jordan Salmi, 25, and Ryan Desmith, 22, to go on his behalf and record the performance.

In March 2020, Gbaja-Biamila was arrested again and sentenced to six months in jail after being held in contempt during a divorce hearing where the ex-football star had to be tased and subdued by 10 officers.

Representing himself during the hearing, the ex-NFL player unsuccessfully argued that he is “not a citizen of the republic,” suggesting his religious beliefs are above the law.

"I have my own laws which are superior," Gbaja-Biamila said to the judge, who tried to inform him it does not work that way in a courtroom.

After the situation escalated, the nine-year NFL veteran was eventually handcuffed and confined to a chair and eventually agreed to sign the document, which dropped the contempt charge.

Gbaja-Biamila was released later that day on bond after being charged with resisting arrest.

"She hates me for my religious beliefs," Gbaja-Biamila said in a video after the incident, referring to his ex-wife.

Since then, Gbaja-Biamila has reportedly cut off the outside world, including his children, and remarried within the church, saying he hopes to have new children so the ones he "lost" can "be forgotten."

A call from The U.S. Sun to Straitway Ministries and Dowell was not returned as of publication.

Attorney information for the Muirs was not yet available.

What is The Straitway Truth Ministry?

The Straitway Truth Ministries are a series of Hebrew Israelite church compounds throughout the country and led by Pastor Charles Dowell

Based in Lafayette, Tennessee, the ministry is about "working together and creating a community at each church branch which will always consist of a church, community garden, livestock and housing which are all used for the local community/church members," according to their website.

The group’s practices include communal living, with members often selling their belongings and donating the proceeds to the ministry. This communal life is centered around shared property in multiple states.Reports suggest that living arrangements can be quite basic, with some members residing in trailers without running water, using buckets as toilets and a fire pit for disposal. Financial arrangements within the group have also brought allegations of financial abuse, including elders signing over their Social Security checks to Pastor Dowell​​, according to former members.

Straitway Truth also has been at the center of allegations regarding cult-like behavior. Former members say this includes extreme control over members’ lives, financial exploitation, and the social isolation of members from friends and family outside the church, making it hard to escape due to threats of eternal damnation and loss of community.

Former members have also reported emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse taking place on the compound's ground

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