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Attleboro Cult (The Body)



 

Religious cults, sects, and alternative religions Home Pageattleboro cult, the body, rebecca corneau, jacques robidoux, karin, michelle mingo, samuel, carol balizet, born in zion, home in zion

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Attleboro Cult (The Body)

Attleboro Cult

The Body


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Overview

A strict, pseudo-Christian cult in Attleboro, Massachusets. While it appears the Bible study group has no official name, news reports refer to it as the ''Attleboro cult,'' or ''Attleboro sect.'' Members loosely refer to the group as ''The Body''.[Source]   The terms ''cult'' and ''sect'' are ambiguous (see: cults; sects). However, theologically, the term ''sect'' refers to ''[a] religious group formed as the result of schism, especially one which is fairly small and of relatively recent origin.'' [Source]. As the group's teachings - which include ''following Old Testament scripture and advocating faith healing over modern medicine,'' - place it outside of historical, mainline Christianity, use of the term '' sect'' is justified.

In addition, since the group's religious views and practices also lead to abusive situations - such as described in various news articles - it can also be considered a cult - both theologically and sociologicallyoffsite.

Heavily influenced by Carol Balizet, the group's members reject doctors, schools, and outsiders. The ''Attleboro cult'' gained public attention after the group was named in Boston Globe news reports regarding a baby who died of malnutrition, and the disappearance of another child, believed to also have been buried by the group's members. (The body of that baby has now been located).

It began more than 20 years ago as a bible study group, formed by a group of community-oriented people who were ''great role models.'' But philosophical differences caused a rift, and one small faction went on its own to become a tiny self-sufficient church unwilling to recognize laws made or enforced by a secular society.

The group of several extended families lived together in a duplex here, following Old Testament scripture and advocating faith healing over modern medicine, viewing themselves as a bastion of biblical faith in an evil world.
Source: Missing children reveals insular sect in Attleboro, Boston.com/AP, Feb. 7, 2000

Brian Weeks, a local pastor, said

he and Robidoux broke from a California branch of the fundamentalist group, Worldwide Church of God, and established their own small churches in Mansfield and Mendon, R.I.

Back then, Weeks said, Roland Robidoux and his wife, Georgette, were community-oriented and ''great role models'' and parents to Jacques and their other children. A few years later, Weeks left the group over philosophical differences and joined another congregation.
Source: Missing children reveals insular sect in Attleboro, Boston.com/AP, Feb. 7, 2000

In Jan. 2000, Bob Pardon, head of the New England Institute of Religious Research was appointed guardian of the sect's children.


Cult Experts describe the group

The fringe religious sect now at the center of national attention bears all the characteristics of a ''destructive'' group similar to larger more famous ''cults'' such as the Branch Davidians or Heaven's Gate, experts in the field say.

''The Attleboro group is a microcosm of these larger groups,'' said Robert Pardon, a former pastor who is an expert on religion and cults who has studied the activities of the Robidoux and Daneau families.

Pardon and other religious experts do not like to use the term cult. Instead they say the sect is under a form of mind control of a ''high-control destructive'' group that suppresses individual thought and freedom.

''It appears they are a group that does not allow the individual to make distinctive moral personal decisions apart from the leader,'' said Dr. Robert Thornburg, dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University.

Pardon, who has interviewed current and former members of the sect led by Roland Robidoux, said the group started out as a benign Bible study group.

But over time, Pardon said, the group began to become more under the influence of Robidoux, who interpreted Scripture, and later his son Jacques, whom he ''ordained'' in 1997.

Pardon said Jacques Robidoux's elevation to a ''defacto leader with dad'' marked a turning point in the sect's history.

''They were Bible-based, but they got into hearing revelations from God,'' said Pardon, who has studied the thousands of pages of journals the sect kept and were seized by police.
[...]

''The reason why they were writing it all down, writing journals, is that they believed they were writing Scripture,'' Pardon said.

Like many other destructive religious groups, the leaders claimed to have a ''direct pipeline to God,'' which enabled them to make decisions with no accountability, Pardon said.

''You had a system with no checks and balances,'' Pardon said. ''With no checks and balances it was shifting sands. Ultimately it got to the point where Samuel paid the price.''

The deaths of Samuel Robidoux, the 10-month-old son of Jacques and Karen Robidoux, and his infant cousin Jeremiah Corneau, are now the focus of a criminal investigation into the sect's activities.
[...]

The sect does not believe in conventional medical science even to the point of not wearing glasses despite the near-sightedness of some of its members.

Pardon says the sect was ''weaning themselves from the system'' and was moving further away from mainstream society. The children were home schooled and Robidoux started to only take cash transactions in his chimney sweep business, Pardon and law enforcement officials say.
[...]

The families eventually planned to move to Maine, which held special significance for the sect, Pardon said.

''It was prophesized that they were going to live in Jerusalem. Maine was the Promised Land. Maine was Jerusalem. They called it Zion,'' Pardon said. ''They believed they were in God's presence in Maine, and that's where they were going to reside.
(...)

Unlike many other destructive groups, Pardon said, the Robidoux and Daneau clans did not try to spread their beliefs or recruit members.

''They are not con artists,'' said Judith Barba, an associate of Pardon's, ''but people who sincerely believe they are right. They believe they are going to be vindicated.''

Pardon went so far as to say the group believes they are chosen by God.

''It would be documented that they would be God's people,'' Pardon said the group believes.

Thornburg says the sect might have some sort of ''apocalyptic control vision'' in which ''they seem to know something about the future that we don't know.''

The strong mind control, Thornburg said, is evident by the fact no one in the sect has broken their silence despite the jailing of some of the members and now the forced protective custody of pregnant member Rebecca Corneau.

''No one's cracked even under that kind of pressure, legal and media pressure, they've had. You've got to believe that there's something there in the form of mind control,'' Thornburg said.

Pardon and Barba say that's exactly what has occurred in the sect.

By all accounts, people who knew members of the sect years ago are astonished by the behavior of people they once knew and associated with.

''They are not evil people,'' Barba added. ''They did not decide to wake up one day and kill somebody. They are just misguided.''
[...]

Pardon and Barba, who prepared a 20-page report on the sect for Judge Kenneth P. Nasif, say the sect members do not feel guilty about what happened to Samuel Robidoux or about losing their children.

The New England Institute for Religious Research also provides counseling for people who leave destructive religious groups.

Dennis Mingo, the former sect member who left the group before the two infants died, said he found it difficult to leave despite the radical turn the group began to make.

Mingo said the radicalism of the group made him leave, but he found the decision difficult because it meant leaving his wife Michelle and their children.

''Groups create tremendous dependencies,'' Pardon said. ''You often hear people say `I'll never get involved in something like that' or `why didn't that person just leave?' It's just like battered women's syndrome.''

Pardon often repeats a quote about people who end up falling under the influence of religious-based control groups.

''Nobody ever decides to join a group, they just delay leaving,'' he said.


Cult experts and a former sect member recommend two books on recovering from mind controlling groups, both by cult expert Steve Hassan in Cambridge.

The books are ''Combating Cult Mind Control'' and the recently published ''Releasing the Bonds.''
Source: Experts: Cult wants total controloffsite, The Sun-Chronicle, Sep. 2, 2000
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Ex-member describes the group

According to former member Dennis Mingo, the sect's beliefs are rooted in denouncing ''seven systems'' of mainstream society, including education, government, banking, religion, medicine, science and entertainment.

They were heavily influenced by the book, ''Born in Zion,'' by Carol Balizet, who heads a Florida ministry. Balizet, a former emergency room nurse, advocates natural home births, claiming only prayer is needed to bring life into the world.

''The book had a profound effect on the group,'' Mingo says. ''Every week, they made little changes and became more and more radical. They were basically pulling themselves out of society and I just couldn't live that way.''

While they run their own masonry business, they do so on a cash basis and keep their own records on a computer, which has been seized by prosecutors.

They home-school their children, have unassisted home births and use herbal remedies, not medicine. While many have vision problems, they refuse to wear glasses because they are not ''God's will,'' Mingo says.

''Most of them are blind as bats without their glasses, but they refuse to wear them'' he said.

They think evolution is ''a crock,'' Mingo says.

And recently, they burned up all their old photo albums, saying photos are a symbol of vanity.

The women wear cotton dresses and the men sport long beards. Completely withdrawn from society, they don't watch TV or movies, celebrate holidays or birthdays, or wear wedding bands.

''They see these seven systems as counterfeit systems,'' Mingo said. ''They think God will provide them all of these things and that these systems were set up to take your attention away from God.''

The family-oriented sect was formed by Jacques Robidoux' father, Roland, several years ago when he split from the World Church of Christ and started his own Bible study group.

The group feared the millennium and had ''visions'' that the world would erupt in violence and turmoil, but they would be saved.

''God'' has led the group repeatedly to upstate Maine and Mingo says they were - and may still be - planning to set up a commune there.

''It's like they're on a different planet,'' he said. ''They're not a part of our world anymore. They've gone blank. They're not the people that I know them as.''
Source: Cultists convinced only God will provide, Boston Herald, Sep. 3, 2000
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The group's theology

According to former member Dennis Mingo, the sect's beliefs are rooted in denouncing ''seven systems'' of mainstream society, including education, government, banking, religion, medicine, science and entertainment.

They were heavily influenced by the book, ''Born in Zion,'' by Carol Balizet, who heads a Florida ministry. Balizet, a former emergency room nurse, advocates natural home births, claiming only prayer is needed to bring life into the world.

''The book had a profound effect on the group,'' Mingo says. ''Every week, they made little changes and became more and more radical. They were basically pulling themselves out of society and I just couldn't live that way.''
Source: Cultists convinced only God will provide, Boston Herald, Sep. 3, 2000



• Articles
Christian A brief history of ''The Body''offsite Article on the site of the New England Institute of Religious Research. In January, 2000, NEIRR's Bob Pardon was appointed guardian of the sect's children.
Christian "The Body of Christ" - Descent from Benign Bible Study to Destructive Cultoffsite by Bob Pardon.
Secular The sect: Led by a father's religious zeal, family spurned society's rules This history of the ''Attleboro cult'' - officially known as ''The Body'' - was reconstructed by the Boston Globe from interviews with family members, former sect members, excerpts from family diaries, government documents and other materials
Christian Where are they now? The Attleboro Aftermathoffsite by Eric Francke.


• News
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• News Database
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• See Also
» Carol Balizet / Born in Zion (Influenced The Body's theology)
» Cult of Christianity (Definition)
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About this page:
Attleboro Cult (The Body)
First posted: Nov. 19, 1999
Last Updated: Sep. 25, 2003
Copyright: Apologetics Index
Link to: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/a97.html
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