apologeticsindex.org
Chapter 3: Abusive Churches Are Not New | Apologetics Index
People have always struggled with the same needs-to be accepted by their friends and family, to find their way to God, and to make a contribution to their world. Humanity's fear of loneliness and hope of salvation were no less real to people in the previous century than they are to us today. Unfortunately, there have also always been charismatic figures ready to take advantage of those most afraid and most hopeful. One nineteenth-century religious community, in particular, has many similarities to modern manifestations. There are other examples of authoritarian abuse but, perhaps, none as intriguing. It is not representative of all turn-of-the-century Protestant sects, but it is a good example of an extremist community based on the near worship of a single man. Frank Sandford's community at Shiloh offers insights into an abusive fringe church from its conception in the late nineteenth century to its "scattering" in 1920.