3. I am assuming, with some justification, I believe, from the way your questions were formulated and the material you chose to discuss, that your primary source of 'information' was a newly created anti-NCCG website called 'NCCG_concern'. Since this is the sole website of its kind that we are aware of, I assume this is where you get your perspective of us (as you did say on the telephone to me that if I did not respond you would be writing an article based on "other sources"). I should inform you that the author of this site not only has never met with us or spoken with us, but refuses to be identified and make himself accountable, refuses to name the names of alleged complianants or supply substantiatable information, because he knows I will sue and expose him if he does. As a researcher myself, trained as a scientist at Oxford University, both in the biochemical and historical fields, I am more than aware of what constitutes bona fide research and what does not.
I do not know how old you are, what your political or religious views
are, whether you promote certain values, whether you are a typical
journalist from your newspaper, or whether you are a 'neutral'
journalist. I do not know what your experience with people is, whether
you care about people and society, or whether you are one of those
unscrupulous journalists who just takes pleasure in muck-raking and
'exposing' for its own sake without regard for anyone's true welfare.
Certainly you wrote to me in such a manner as to suggest that you had
some kind of 'right' to be as rude and unprofessional as you wanted to
whilst having little or no idea who we really are and, judging by the
nature of the questions, having very literal interest in truth.
Certainly you uncritically used terminology and asked loaded questions
from a source which is unapologetically hostile, inaccurate and
unaccountable, even going so far to call my home a 'compound' and
implying that we practice 'slavery' with all the associations such
words have with genuine cults such as the Branch Davidians and others.
Since we find all forms of slavery repugnant and have no 'compound' but
just a house and a garden like anyone else's in Värmland, as all
who come in and out of here on a daily basis from the local community
know, I shall set aside such questions until you have done some proper
research and must seriously question your intentions. I cannot believe
that you are a regular reporter from a reputable newspaper like Nya
Wermlands Tidningen so I am assuming you are freelance. At any rate
I shall be talking to the editors/owners of the newspaper to see if you
are indeed one of their own.
B2. Refused Telephone Interview
did indeed change my mind about a telephone interview and a
photographic session, and rightly so, when I received a list of
questions from him (which I will be publishing soon) and I could see
what his intent was. I have met this kind of man before and I had every
right to refuse such a disreputable rogue into my home. And I would
unapologetically do the same again.
from NCCG_Concern: be
aware that Chris did not receive the questions until after he had
refused both interviews. Chris appears to have lied in the above
B4.7. Given this information, it should be obvious to anyone with any sort of intelligence that we are neither trying to be inconspicuous nor trying to isolate ourselves. Obviously, we involve ourselves in those activities which interest us and don't attend those which don't, like ordinary human beings do.
Therefore the headline and material claiming that we are isolated
is a malicious lie, deliberately inserted to promote the crafted image
of a cult based on misinformation, bad research and dishonest intent.
B5. Your Article, Page 1
every single paragraph in Sjöholm's article contains a lie or a
distortion in which words are carefully manipulated.
B6.1. Throughout this lengthy article, Sjöholm sets out to create an image - a false one created in his own fantasy - of a dangerous Jim Jones-type cult who at any moment might compell its members to do something drastic drink poison and commit suicide. It is pretty obvious that that is his intention from the way he writes. He tries to create a picture of a dangerous cult steered from a sinister looking building in the middle of the Swedish wilderness luring people to its headquarters to get slave labour and doubtless to steal their money too. The fact of the matter is that in 9 years of being in Sweden we have lived a frugal lifestyle, with a tiny income, with 6 permanent adult members, half of whom were old age pensioners (until one died and the other was transferred to a home- both retired pastors) to whom we devoted our time and efforts to take care of (as ther local people all know). They were/are all quite ill, we work together voluntarily to make their life as pleasant as possible. The others serve here without coercision, to serve our ministry abroad.
We are little more than an office that answers
enquiries, distributes literature, raises money for our orphanages, and
invites pastors to come for training, as stated in a letter to
Sjöholm. We have actually met far less than 1% of our members. Our
congregations govern their own affairs and do nothing more than send an
annual report of activities. They pay us no tithes or offerings because
they are too poor and we do not expect it of them anway, as is clearly
documented on our website They elect their own officers, evangelise in
the normal way (outdoor preaching mostly), and actually have very
little access to internet. People come and go all the time, they know
exactly what we believe from our detailed website, and I have never met
anyone who was 'surprised' to find we believed different things to what
we have published, or have 'secret rules', because they weren't
surprised and there are no secret rules. Discipling and residency is by
consent, not compulsion. Sjöholm, however, has bought into the
misinformation Crapo (herself seemingly influenced by the unaccountable
and libelous slander site on the internet), and simply chosen to
believe what he wants to.
B6.2. If our little office were to fold up, I doubt most would even notice. They would probably miss our weekly sermons but that is about all. Members and friends would fellowship online as they do in this Group. We are not some centrifugal hub on which all our members are totally dependent with which can 'manipulate' or 'control'. Indeed, our policy is the very opposite of what Sjöholm would like people to believe: we encourage all our groups to be self-sufficient and independent.
B7. "Views as destructive and dangerous"
In view of what I have written on brainwashing and
conditioning above, a heading in bold face such as this is downright
conditioning. There is no balance in the article anywhere. There are no
interviews with any of our thousands of ordinary members or pastors.
Chris' makes the complaint " There are
interviews with any of our thousands of ordinary members or pastors.
Nowwhere". Chris had
the opportunity to be interviewed and threw it away, plus, he had the
opportunity to put Gustav in contact with any one of these "thousands
of ordinary members" for an interview. Chris had demonstrated principally uncooperative
Gustav's contact with him,
and is blaming Gustav for his own missed
opportunities and lack of initiative).
the only people who are interviewed are one or two
untested and uninvestigated critics, an anonymously produced and
unaccountable website, some local people who have nothing bad to say of
us (because we have good relations with our community) except a
Lutheran Pastor who, according to Sjöholm's (clearly demonstrated
inaccurate) reporting implies she has no contact with us, when in fact
she knows one of our cooperative members very well and has visited us,
and we her.
B7.2. We can present testimonies from dozens of members and non-members alike who actually know us and have stayed with us and can say just what we are like. And I myself have numerous character witnesses from professional people, who have known me intimately over many years, who have no connection with my religious beliefs and who in many cases have no religious beliefs at all, who will vouch for my own character. They are all published on-line and Sjöholm was directed to them, but clearly ignored them.
from NCCG_Concern: The URL Chris
, contains 6 references. 4 of them are from the year 1979 (27 years
old!). This was long
before he started the cult and are in any case way too old to be usable
a present-day reference by anyone. The remaining two are professional
1995 and 1996 (10 and 11 years old) indicating that he was an effective grade-school
teacher. Those two looked like strictly employment references to me,
not character references.
27 years old:
10 - 11 years old:
Links to the certificates are:
Using Crapo as an authority, someone who does not know us, who has got
our theology completely wrong (no doubt because of the 'research' done
for her on an anonymous slander site, which we have extensively
critiqued), has not made a cross-sectional study of our people (her
reasons are another matter and the subject of another investigation)
Sjöholm makes many ad hominem accusations through
suggestion (read 'conditioning'). If either he or Crapo had wanted to
test their theories, they could have joined our online discussion
groups openly (and not dishonestly, either they or their 'informants'
lying in order to gain admission, as we know they did), and openly
asked questions of anyone on the groups. There they would have
discovered (and know it, actually, Sjöholm never reported it) that
people are free to expore any way they want and to criticise me. There
are numerous posts criticising my beliefs by non-members and members
B8.1. "Change of Personality"
So-called 'cult deprogrammers', who make a great deal of money out of their profession in some cases, as I have unapologetically alleged, themselves display cult-like tendencies, brainwashing and conditioning. In fact, it has been conclusively proved in courts of law in the USA and various watchbodies are strongly advising that 'cult deprogrammers' be closely monitored alongside the cults they seek to expose. I supplied this information to Sjöholm who was clearly not interested in the truth and only made passing reference to 'my' allegations, ignoring the public watchdogs themselves. Indeed, he nowhere recognised or so much as hinted that the public was very concerned about the 'deprogrammers' and simply reported that I had stated my disbelief in their impartiality.
B8.2. Sjöholm cites only two cases in his entire article and then, using his biased criteria, conditions Migrationsverket to think along his lines as well. He fails to note - because he is not interested - that Migrationsverket has already accepted the basis on which we recruit assistants from abroad as a result of negotiations with them in the past. All of this is documented. He also failed to note that we insist that visitors to our co-operative can finance a return air ticket and maintain savings to that they can resume their career or education in their home country should they wish to return. Indeed, as he would testify, a recent convert, who is not an official member, whom Sjöholm reports anonymously in his article, was told by us that he should leave all his savings back home in case he wanted to travel back and forth or permanently return home. This he can verify. But Sjöholm is not interested in anything that would make his "destructive, dangerous and isolated" cult theory look absurd, as indeed it is. And if he had done his research properly on our website, he would have read that anyone wanting to settle at the cooperative (remember, no new people have settled in the whole of our 9 years in Sweden) are given a considerable numbers of rights, including the right, should they leave, to take the equivalent of all they brought with them materially and financially.
As for a "change of personality", as I have stated elsewhere, people
change all the time. The vast majority of people report huge positive
changes in their lives who come here. A handfull of others, who have
personality problems associated with drug abuse, alcoholism, and
psychological problems stemming from abusive and unhappy homes, come
and go. One of our ministers works exclusively on the streets of Oslo
helping drug addicts, works closely with the local municipality ot kommun
and rehabilitation organisations, and occasionally brings clients here
for weekends to get out of the city atmosphere with all its drug
temptations. Of course, Sjöholm is not interested in this. If
there are psychiatric visitors, we involve the parents if they are
alive and interested (we've had three in total), who are usually not
members, as much as we can. Last year we had a woman from the Balkans
visit us for 2-3 months with psychiatric problems with whom we worked
with the full cooperation of her parents, the father a renowned poet in
his home country - neither parent belong to our church. B8.4. When it
was clear that she would be best served by professional counsellors, we
sent her back to her parents, who have written positive and affirmative
testimonies of us. But of course such material would have spoiled
Sjöholm's imaginary world of a "dangerous, destructive sect". In
this particular case, there was no personality change at all.
B9. "Undermining Freewill"
B9.1. In another example of Sjöholm brainwashing and conditioning, he cites Crapo again, arguing from his bogus 'isolationist' theory, who says: "Many groups exist without being noticed. What people do not know is that they undermine people's free will". I am sure many do just that. But as Sjöholm very well knows - or would have known if he bothered to do an honest day's work and do his resaerch work properly - is that people know who we are, visit us, and have received literature from us telling them of our beliefs.. Until she moved to Arvika, a Pentcostal lady (who never joined us) from the nearby village, used to meet with us.
B9.2. I am not sure what Sjöholm is trying to accuse us of here, but if it is that we deny people free will, this is a total lie and fabrication. We are the total opposite. He has not one iota of proof that anyone is ever denied free will. If, on the other hand, he means that people coming to the cooperative cannot drink alcohol or play violent computer games are somehow denied their 'free will', then it should be pointed out that visitors know the rules before they come. People are free to say 'no' if they don't like the rules and don't want to come or want to leave. That is free-will.
B9.3. So once again, Sjöholm is trying to condition the readers' minds with devious techniques by making indirect implications. Clearly he knows something about human psychology and how to manipulate an audience. At any rate, it is dishonest and bad journalism.
B10.1. Sjöholm knows very well that we do not believe in slavery though he is determined to flog a dead horse for all its worth without bothering to find out what we mean by such terms. He likes to spice up his fatastic pot of alleged cultic ingredients with anything 'spicy' that he can find. He seems to have no idea that 'slavery' in New Testament culture refers to indentured service, and probably doesn't even know what that expression means. Indentureship is a mutually agreed contract sealed by two or more parties. When you hire someone to do a job, that is 'indentured service', or 'slavery' as some Bibles translate it. That is what we believe in. The Gospel we teach is one of voluntary service by mutual arrangement. In fact, we are a lot more generous than your average contractor. If someone wants to break their contract and leave our fellowship, we let them go and send them with our blessings. There are no penalties.
B10.2. Slavery and a few other topics are just Sjöholms straw men. He is very subtle and devious in the way he attempts to character-assassinate. He has broken the law in his article and knows it.
B11. The Beliefs of Other Minorities
B.11.1. People believe in different things for different reasons. Sjöholm is quick to point out our beliefs about the occult, tarot cards, violent TV games, Hinduism, Islam and the sexual practices of people we don't agree with. What he doesn't tell you - because it would destroy his carefully crafted false image of us - is that we believe that people should be free to practice their own religions and sexual lifestyles any way they want to so long as they do not try to coerce me into them. What Sjöholm doesn't tell you is that I have friends who are Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, occultists, new agers, homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, and many, many others. They all know what I believe in, I know what they believe in, we disagree with each other, and interact in those spheres of life that interest us both, respecting one another, agreeing to disagree. We do not hate or persecute each other even though there are for sure persons with similar beliefs who are abusive and hate-filled. I am sure, however, that Sjöholm would like his readers to believe that we totally shun these people or would wish to harm them. And I am quite sure that he would not like his readers to know that one of our leaders was a celibate gay. The fact is, we embrace nearly all people, meet them where they are, share our beliefs, and let them decide what they want to believe and go where they want to.
B12. Not Interested
B12.1. At the conclusion of his article, Sjöholm reports that I told him that the leading deprogramming group, with which Crapo is affiliated, "has been judged for insurance fraud, kidnapping and breach of human rights". He carefully omits "by the US courts" to give the false impression that this is just my own personal allegation. This man is a very dishonest reporter indeed. I gave him extensive references to all the facts (and they are facts, and not mere allegations - many of these people are genuinely dangerous criminals known to have imprisoned and raped the 'cult victims' they were 'deprogramming') about the 'deprogrammers'. However, for obvious reasons, he did not want his readers to make their own investigations, let alone summarise the truth about the deprogrammers. He has a single agenda - to make us look like a "destructive, dangerous, and isolated" cult.
B12.2. No, indeed, I am not interested in criminals who are guilty of hate-crimes, abuse and kidnapping. I have all the information. It's all on the net and in court records of the USA. I am in contact with lawyers who have defended religious minorities who have successfully prosecuted the 'deprogrammers'. The facts are available for everyone who is honest enough to get the whole story and expose the lies. You would be shocked at the personality profiles of some of them.
C1. Sweden is a pluralistic society. It tolerates diverse lifestyles, freedom of thought, and its laws protect minorities. We respect that and honour it. We believe in sharing our opinions and criticising those we don't accept, which is the basis of true democracy. When people refuse to allow criticism, you have the basis of a dictatorship. However, criticism must be moderated by certain standards of behaviour. And the conduct of Sjöholm is outrageous and scandalous. His reporting belongs to the type of gutter press that civilised countries refuse to have anything to do with.
C2. And whilst we do indeed believe in a world to come that is very different from the world we live in, we happily accommodate ourselves to this one, making sure we do not go out of our way to disturb people who do not want to be disturbed, and interacting with all those who want to friendship us. One of the reasons we evangelise in the West using the internet is because it allows people to come and go as they please - they find us, rather than the other way round. And whilst Sjöholm likes to find some sinister implication with this (along with everything else we do in order to make his 'story' as spicey and alarmist as possible), the facts remain. In fact, we warm people who might find their life style or beliefs criticised not to read any further and require them to take personal responsibility for their choices. We believe in 'live and let live', and whilst we certainly believe God (with a capital 'G') will create the world in the way He wants it in the future, it certainly should not be a problem for those who do not believe in Him to simply let peacefully-minded minorities live the way they all want to. They can call it religious fiction if they want to, it really doesn't matter. At least it is honest, unlike Sjöholm's reporting.
I demand redress and satisfaction before I take this further. I wish to
state for the record that I will not tolerate this kind of harrassment
and as a free citizen I mean to defend my rights along with those who
share my views against the likes of Sjöholm and the current NWT
editorial staff. I am hoping that this was a careless and thoughtless
error on the part of NWT which it will correct and save its reputation.