A former member of The Order of Christ/Sophia speaks out

August 2003
By a former member

As a former member of The Order of Christ/Sophia, I feel compelled to share with others what my experience within this group entailed.

It is my opinion, having been a member for quite some time, that The Order of Christ/Sophia is a destructive cult.

While the organization appears to be harmless to newcomers, the further involved people become, the more likely they are to experience a great amount of stress psychologically and physically.

The Order of Christ/Sophia describes itself as a "mystical school" offering classes and individual counseling to those who choose to become a "student."

However, it is my observation that members did not really just simply choose to become students, but were instead manipulated into taking classes and becoming deeply involved.

This manipulation often comes in the form of guilt, shame and other coercive persuasion techniques, such as group pressure and trance induction through "meditation."

Retreats, workshops and classes also appear to utilize classic thought reform techniques to break down the potential member.

For example, at almost any given lecture there are "blessing groups," which is really another label for a process more frequently called "the hot seat."

Those attending the lecture are each placed in a group with a trained facilitator, addressed as "master teacher," "priest" or "deacon." The facilitator instructs each individual to sit in the designated chair and share something about their personal life. The facilitator then attempts to draw out of the individual personal information, which makes that person vulnerable and more open to suggestions from an authority figure.

The "blessing group" environment seems happy and loving. However, it can easily be seen as a method of breaking down and taking control over those involved.

Probably one of the more disturbing features of The Order of Christ/Sophia is that those in its hierarchy, such as master teachers, priests and deacons, all claim that they hear God in an audible voice. They also claim they can bring you face-to-face with God.

These claims can be seen as a device, which enables leaders to put themselves in positions of control that cannot be questioned and makes their disciples increasingly dependent.

As a student you are asked for total obedience.

Leaders then typically break you down psychologically, encouraging you to "tell God everything." They claim that if you do not tell your teacher, who represents God, then you are not allowing God in to love you and help you.

This is yet another example of how the group manipulates people and pressures them into confessing their "sins" in order to gain greater control.

Members are often drained physically from the hierarchy on down.

Priests are always working hard to gain greater influence over their disciples. And disciples are constantly being encouraged to keep a daily journal, attend as many classes and services as possible, participate in extra activities and volunteer to help The Order in any way possible.

Every student is given an "exercise" to complete daily and then report to their personal teacher. Students who do not do their exercise everyday are reprimanded. The daily schedule is rigorous and many individuals are sleep deprived.

The Order of Christ/Sophia consists of highly intelligent people who present very well to the "outside" world. Many are well educated and/or in school and most have the best of intentions.

Group members truly believe that they are doing God's will.

However, in my experience it seems they are really doing the will of the group's leader Peter Bowes.

Peter presents himself as a Christ-like figure who knows all things. I recall being told by one of the priests that I should take Peter's word as God's word.

Bowes second-in-command Clare Watts is called "Mother Clare" and she likens herself to Mother Mary, telling disciples that she has direct revelations from The Virgin Mary.

These are only some examples of the destructive nature of The Order of Christ/Sophia. I have not mentioned other features in any depth, such as intense manipulative psychotherapy sessions and encouragement to emotionally detach from family and friends.

The list could go on and on.

My intention is to give those interested and/or concerned a glimpse into how the group operates and manipulates good-natured individuals who are seeking a way to bring more love into this world.

Perhaps it is hard to understand or believe everything I say. Anyone interested in The Order of Christ/Sophia should do as much research as possible before becoming involved.

If there is one thing I have learned from being involved with this group, which I now consider a "cult," it is to always make informed decisions.

People concerned about this group will hopefully become as informed as possible about "cults" generally and The Order of Christ/Sophia specifically.

Personally, based upon my own experience, I would not recommend The Order of Christ/Sophia to anyone under any circumstances.

Copyright © 2003 Rick Ross.

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