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JPUSA : Jesus People USA

spacerjpusa, jesus people usa, cornerstone magazine, jon trott, cult apologists, anson shupe, spiritual abuse, authoritanianism, rez band

JPUSA : Jesus People USA

ChristianGrey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey JPUSA : Jesus People USA

Jon Trott; Cornerstone Magazine

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A controversial, Christian commune known for its ministry to the poor and the elderly, Cornerstone Magazine, the REZ band, and its Cornerstone Music Festivals.

While the JPUSA (Jesus People USA) commune has many positive aspect, over the years, the group has grown increasingly controversial due to, among other things, charges of authoritarianism and other forms of spiritual abuse, as well as the movement's increasing support for - and use of - cult apologists, including the late Jeffrey K. Hadden, J. Gordon Melton, and Massimo Introvigne - men who, under the guise of defending religious freedom, support cults, promote religious pluralism, and attack apostates (whom cult apologist generally view as liars whose testimony is unreliable).

Dr. Ron Enroth has written about former JPUSA members in his book Recovering From Churches That Abuse.

''The JP story is a tragic tale of good intentions gone bad,'' writes a former member of the Jesus People USA. JPUSA (''ja-P00-zah''), as it is commonly called, is a Christian community founded in 1972 in inner-city Chicago. It ministers to the poor and the elderly and operates a Crisis Pregnancy Center in the Uptown section of the city. It is perhaps best-known to the evangelical world through two highly visible ministries, Cornerstone magazine and REZ, a Christian rock band. JPUSA's annual Cornerstone Festival features Christian rock music, conducts seminars on various topics, and draws thousands of young people. In 1989 JPUSA joined the Evangelical Covenant Church. A council of nine elders-pastors presides over de community of about five-hundred members.

There is a side to the JPUSA story, suggested in the opening statement, that is largely unknown. I became aware of problems in the group after receiving letters and phone calls from former members who had read Churches That Abuse and saw parallels with their own experiences. The pain and frustration they expressed point to a long-standing pattern of abuse within the organization that cannot be denied, despite some evidence of amelioration in recent years.
Source: Recovering From Churches That Abuse, Ron Enroth, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. P. 121-122

It is telling that in its defense against Dr. Enroth's comments, JPUSA has relied on, among others, cult apologist Anson Shupe (See this interview with Shupe in the special issue of Cornerstone magazine that includes pre-emptive rebuttals to Enroth's then forthcoming book).

Jon Trott

In fact, Jon Trott, senior editor of JPUSA's Cornerstone Magazine, uncritically accepts the views of cult apologists - and actively promotes their work. In addition, like the cult defenders whose work he admires, Trott attacks those who use proper terminology such as "cult" and "cult apologist." He also objects to the identification of the Church of Scientology as a "hate group," even though hate and harassment activities are specifically condoned and encouraged in that organizations's scripture (and consequently evidenced in the cult's group's behavior).

Trott also co-edits the Sacred Tribes Journal, a magazine whose principals put stock in the ideas of several notable cult apologists. The magazine is hosted on web space provided by JPUSA's Cornerstone Magazine (with the following disclaimer: Sacred Tribes is neither a sponsored project nor an official publication of JPUSA/Cornerstone.)

Though Trott apparently has little practical experience in dealing with actual current and former cult members, and is not considered to be a cult expert, he vehemently defends his views, often getting downright nasty in the process.

Recently, Jon Trott also re-opened JPUSA's attacks on Ron Enroth, with the inclusion of a chapter in cult apologist Anson Shupe's book, Bad Pastor: Clergy Misconduct in Modern America. Enroth's response to Trott can be read here.

Not Recommended

Cornerstone's Associate Editors include Bob and Gretchen Passantino, whose criticism of brainwashing theories also is reflected in the magazine's editorial stance. (Incidentally, for the Apologetics Index viewpoint regarding 'brainwashing' or 'mind control', which has been misrepresented by Jon Trott, see this statement)

Though Cornerstone Magazine, and JPUSA's ''Cornerstone Apologetics Research Team (CART)'' in the past provided good information about cults, JPUSA's current direction is a serious cause for worry.

Regarding information about cults and alternative religions, the publisher of Apologetics Index recommends the earlier (pre-2000) articles written by former JPUSA and CART member Eric Pement, but can not recommend JPUSA's current views on these issues - nor the direction in which these views are moving.

- Articles -
Secular The Dark Side of Jesus People USA: Bringing Down America's Happiest Christian Cult Jesse Hyde, BuzzFeed, August 28, 2015. In 2014, Jaime Prater self-released No Place To Call Home, a film documenting his years inside Jesus People.
When Prater set out to make his film, he didn’t have any professional experience; he simply wanted to explore what it was like growing up in a religious commune. He raised some money on Kickstarter and set out across the country, reconnecting with kids he’d known growing up, capturing their stories on film. What he found shocked him. While the broader Christian community has long been aware of allegations of strange behavior from within the walls of JPUSA, such as adult spankings and group confessionals of masturbation, few outside the commune knew of its darker secrets. Of the 120 people Prater reached over two years, 70 said they had suffered some form of sexual abuse growing up in the commune. [...] Prater found that the Jesus People leadership had not only been aware of dozens of complaints of abuse, but had conspired to hide those crimes and silence the victims.
Secular Chicago Tribune series A critical look at problems within JPUSA Commune's iron grip test faith of converts and Exodus from commune ignites battle for souls
Despite an onslaught of criticism that the group is overly authoritarian, secretive about its finances and psychologically abusive, Jesus People USA continues to attract largely the same clientele it has for nearly 30 years: troubled, disillusioned, needy youth.

ChristianGrey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey JPUSA Official Response to the Chicago Tribune Series See also other documents JPUSA refers to regarding the Chicago Tribute series
Christian Christianity Today's reaction to the Chicago Tribune Series
Christian Jesus People USA: An Examination of an urban, contemporary communitarian religious group [Internet Archive] [Academia ] Thesis by John M. Bozeman
ChristianGrey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey Cornerstone answers Enroth Special Cornerstone issue pre-emptively rebutting the then forthcoming book, Recovering From Churches That Abuse, by Dr. Ron Enroth [Chapter 7 is devoted to Jesus People USA]
Christian Reply To Cornerstone Magazine (Down the page a bit) Dr. Ron Enroth responds to Cornerstone Magazine's articles that attack his book, Recovering from Churches That Abuse. Published in the journal of Wellspring (counseling center for ex-cult members)
Christian Response to Jon Trott by Dr. Ron Enroth - addressing Trott's chapter in a recently-published book edited by cult apologist Anson Shupe.

- Magazines -
ChristianGrey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey Cornerstone Magazine JPUSA's magazine

- Message Boards -
Christian JPUSAinfo (Contra) The JPUSA diaspora site for critical thinking and reflection on community life, sharing old memories, contacting old friends, and maintaining relationships. Includes a discussion forum. (This is the site mentioned in the Chicago Tribune two-part series on JPUSA). Note: People within JPUSA may not be able to access this site, as it reportedly has been blocked.

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(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database)

See Also


ChristianGrey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey Jesus People USA (JPUSA) (Official Site)
Christian JPUSAinfo (Contra) The JPUSA diaspora site for critical thinking and reflection on community life, sharing old memories, contacting old friends, and maintaining relationships. Includes a discussion forum. (This is the site mentioned in the Chicago Tribune two-part series on JPUSA). Note: People within JPUSA may not be able to access this site, as it reportedly has been blocked.

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JPUSA : Jesus People USA
First posted: Dec. 18, 1997
Last Updated: Feb. 28, 2014
Copyright: Apologetics Index
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