Apologetics Index

Michael Travesser / Wayne Bent — Strong City

Quick Look at Wayne Bent and The Lord Our Righteousness Church

  • What: The Lord Our Righteousness Church is a small religious cult
  • Where: The group is located on a small plot of land near the New Mexico, USA, community of Clayton, close to the New Mexico-Colorado border. The group calls their community ‘Strong City.’ Media reports have often referred to the group by this name.
  • Who: The group is led by Michael Travesser (real name: Wayne Bent; Wayne C. Bent), a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor
  • Controversies: The teachings and practices of this group identify it as a cult, both sociologically and theologically. Theologically, it is a cult of Christianity.
  • Wayne C. Bent was sentenced in 2008 to 10 years in prison sentence after having been found guilty of sexual misconduct with teenage followers. He admitted lying on his bed with two naked teenage girls in what Bent and his followers maintained was a spiritual healing rite. He was released on supervised parole in February 2016.

News about Strong City

Apologetics Index research resource News Archive: Strong City.

Update, July 2022

Wayne Bent, 82, has posted a video said to represent his “last words.”

During the YouTube video titled “Messiah’s Last Words,” Bent likened his persecution to that of Jesus.

“I was put in prison and charged with crimes that I didn’t commit,” he said.

During the video he said he was not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted, blaming “innuendo, fake news, the mob.”

He later said that everyone involved in his trial lied.

“I was put in prison for seven years and 42 days … and it fulfilled prophecy,” he said,

“Before that time, while I was sitting in my house, here in this land, God told me I was Messiah,” he said.

“Just as Jesus was crucified for his testimony, I was crucified for mine,” he said.

He said that just as Jerusalem was destroyed after Jesus was put to death, so the United States is being punished for what it did to him.

“The government is destroyed, no president will ever be accepted, the presidency is destroyed, the congress is destroyed, Washington, D.C., is destroyed all because they destroyed me and my children and my city,” he said.

Documentary video: End of the World cult

On Dec. 12, 2007, British TV station Channel 4 broadcast a documentary about Michael Travesser (real name: Wayne Bent) — leader of Strong City (more recently referred to as “The Lord Our Righteousness Church”).

The group’s followers believe that ‘Michael, the Spirit of the Son of God’ lives in Wayne Bent.

Strong City is a cult, as defined both theologically and sociologically [See the difference between the theological and the sociological definitions of the term ‘cult’].

Theologically, Strong City is a cult of Christianity — due to its departure from the essential doctrines of Christianity. In addition, the cult’s practices included many cult-like elements (sociologically), and fall outside the norms of acceptable Christian behavior.

Measured by the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, cult leader Michael Travesser — real name, Wayne Bent — is consider to be a heretic.

Michael Travesser says he’s the Messiah and that God has told him the world will end with an apocalyptic event at midnight on 31 October 2007.

As leader of a cult in a remote corner of New Mexico called Strong City, this 66-year-old former sailor, previously called Wayne Bent, has spent nearly 20 years preparing his 56 unquestioning and devoted followers for Doomsday. They say they are all preparing for death, to go to a better place.

In this Channel 4 programme, filmmaker Ben Anthony goes into the heart of the cult to discover how Michael exerts his influence. He hears teenage girls talking about desiring sex with their leader, discovers that this sexual activity extended to Travesser’s own daughter-in-law, and meets parents who have left the cult and are desperately trying to prise their children from his grip. Strong City has come to the attention of the FBI, who are keeping a watchful eye on the group.
– Source: The End of the World Cult, Channel 4, UK, Dec. 12, 2007

The End Of The World Cult | Lockdown Documentaries
Strong City — End of the World Cult, Channel 4, UK

Wayne Bent’s Background

Bent said he grew up in Compton, Calif., and joined the Navy Reserves when he was 18. After a two-year stay with the military, he got married and had three children.

One of them is Jeff Bent, who now lives on the Union County property with his father and is extremely loyal.

Wayne Bent said he smoked for nine years, drank the occasional beer and was a fan of Southern California professional sports teams, such as the Dodgers and the then-Los Angeles Rams. He also liked to hunt.

But, in 1967, he had a religious conversion and all that changed.

“All I know is my desires changed, and I didn’t want to do those things anymore,” he said.

He earned a master’s degree in religion at Loma Linda University and became a minister. As it became clear that he was devoting his life to God, he said, his wife left him in 1981 after 19 years of marriage.

“She was never happy to be with a converted husband,” Bent said. “But she did the best she could for 19 years.”

He moved to Idaho in 1982, where he was a pastor for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He left the church in 1987 after having a falling out with a fellow pastor there.

Bent continued to preach and lead seminars teaching the Adventist faith until 2000, when he says God told him to move to New Mexico. His role here changed, he said, that July morning when God spoke to him.

Bent said God gave him three Bible verses during that moment that forever changed him.

“I wasn’t just Pastor Bent,” he said. “Now I was Messiah; and the people knew it.”

Bent spoke matter-of-factly about his transformation, pausing to acknowledge most people doubt his claims.

“I know how unbelievable it sounds, but that is how it happened,” he said. “I know how crazy it is.”
– Source: ‘Messiah’ and His Followers Fast As His Trial Approaches, Vic Vela, Albuequerque Journal (New Mexico, USA), Oct. 26, 2008

Research resources on Strong City / Wayne Bent / Michael Travesser / The Lord Our Righteousness Church

Article details

Category: Lord Our Righeousness Church, Michael Travesser, Strong City, Wayne Bent
Related topic(s): , , ,

First published (or major update) on Sunday, February 10, 2008.
Last updated on July 07, 2024.

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