Brother Trickster:

The Cultism of Zac Kijinski's Gladstone Neverland Part 3 of 6


By Rev. Rafael D Martinez, Director, Spiritwatch Ministries © 2023 (All Copyright Reserved)

As 2015 arrived with all of the sunny clarity of a snowless Ohio winter, the Orwellian world of Gladstone became colder than ever before. The hidden curricula of their oral tradition, passed down from elders to disciples by their verbal and personal interactions, kept the formative power  of their calculated indoctrination as firm as ever.  And as always, the Community never missed a beat in its self promotion as a people in whom “good work” was being done. Their archived website exulted in their diversity and salvation, as works of God’s grace shining in the light of the Son:

Who are we?

At first glance we appear as a very random assortment of people. Men and women from different backgrounds, with different styles, different interests, different gifts. Yet we are brought together because of the love that we have received from God through Jesus Christ.


Liars, thieves, alcoholics, workaholics, shopaholics, drug addicts, people who were immoral, angry, proud, self-centered, depressed, indifferent, lazy, unforgiving - we’ve got them all. Each of us has a testimony of the saving power of Jesus Christ. He has saved us and is changing each one of us a day at a time. He is teaching us, individually and corporately, to live a life of faith, hope and love.

We by-no-means have it all together. We have a long way to go, both as individuals and as a community. Yet, we are so thankful to say that by God’s loving mercy found in Jesus, we are not who we were! We’re not interested in playing games. We want to know and love God, to know and love each other, and to live out our faith in Jesus Christ in every area of our lives.


Church is so much more than large meetings, but those meetings are a great place to come and meet us and to see the good work that God is doing in our lives. We welcome you to come and join us on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning. We’d love to meet you! (107) 

Many people within the Mariemont church were captivated by the youthful energy and zeal of Gladstone and were among it’s most ardent supporters. This also worked both ways, as many who were not involved with MCC directly or any other church often found their curiosity and spiritual hunger piqued by the draw of Gladstone. The appeal of an imagined Christian community penetrating a cold and cruel world drew so many outside Gladstone to lend an ear, a hand and a lot more temporal support.

Since 2013, one couple’s fascination actually moved them to find a place in the Community’s daily life. While Ernie and June Stickler never moved into the community or signed on to any of its community covenants, they were universally welcomed among them as June remembers here:

n December of 2013, I made a church visit to the Mariemont Community Church. That was my first introduction to the young adults who are part of the Gladstone Community. Because it is so unusual in this day and age to see percentage-wise so many of this age group so enthusiastic about their faith, my husband and I were intrigued enough to keep coming back to see what this church was doing to be so motivating for them. We soon learned that Mariemont Community Church and the Gladstone Community were two separate "churches" that were only meeting together – presumably because at that time both groups were relatively small in numbers, and because Gladstone did not have a meeting place large enough for all of their group. In between MCC’s two Sunday morning services, they held a light breakfast so those of both services could be together and interact with each other. We enjoyed those times of getting to know the Gladstone young people (108).

They would come to enjoy a very close relationship with Gladstone that seemed rather paradoxical at first. They were accorded a respect and honor granted to few others who didn’t join Gladstone and came to know them quite intimately as she continued to describe:

Over the next few years, every Sunday morning and Thursday evening, my husband and I joined Gladstone for their services. In addition to being with Gladstone for these services, we typically ate lunch with them after the Sunday service and had supper with the community before the Thursday evening meeting. We were very accepted by those within Gladstone, even though we were old enough to be some of their grandparents. On more than a few occasions, Zak or an elder asked us to move close to their community. Over the next two years, we spent a good deal of time seriously considering doing so.

At one point, one of their elders picked out a house they thought would be suitable for us and approached the owners to ask if they would consider selling it, should we be interested. It was very tempting to move and live near these young people who had become precious to us. In retrospect, it had to have been God that kept us from moving there. While we would not have entered fully in covenant with them by joining their common purse, we were very generous contributors.


The selective legalism Gladstone enforced about divorce and remarriage was a crisis of conscience that Zac and the elders never bothered to remind the Sticklers about. They could rob young single Christian girls of their dreams to find a godly man and create a Christian home under Gladstone auspices because they were supposedly carnally idolatrous for even countenancing this .. but this suspicion would never be cast upon Ernie and June:

I mentioned above about Gladstone’s stance on remarriage after divorce. Prior to marrying me, my husband was divorced by an unfaithful wife who left him for someone else. That happened in 1972 and my husband and I have been married since 1974. We never hid this from those in Gladstone. No one within Gladstone ever said anything to either one of us about my husband remarrying or of my being married to a divorced man. They accepted us and wanted us to be part of them.

Joe Busken (who started Busken Bakery) in his later years and widowed moved into Gladstone and was cared for by them until his death. He, too, had a divorce and remarriage. I hate to think that it wasn’t an issue with Gladstone for him or us because we were big supporters and contributors of them, but it does make one wonder. (110) 

With the whispers of controversy put in their place by their rationalizing love of the young believers, the Sticklers would persevere in their faith in the group. They would speak up on behalf of Gladstone and commend them to all they knew, even defending them against those who saw the questionable activity behind the scenes and believed them to be a cultic group.

But this was not a blind faith they offered. Ernie and June were free of the driving Work Gospel mind control and were able to critically reflect upon the “choices” these beloved young men and women were being compelled to make. Even as they willingly offered a gentle and warm connection to the young men and women there, they began to start taking note of what was going on right in front of them in the community settings they freely moved around in.  And what they were seeing was alarming, disturbing and profoundly saddening.

Their initial observations plainly revealed the acute toxicity within Gladstone during the years from 2014 onward.  They shared these with us as part of their own testimony to what they saw there. We will quote from these to help illustrate the depths of extremism that the Gladstone hothouse was descending into, and what the terrible consequences were for the young people who had to bear the full weight Gladstone’s abusive community: 


Leadership constantly on a witch hunt to know everything about individuals (so they can lord over them)

- Every sin of commission or omission

- Every bad attitude

- Every disobedience

- Every unsubmissiveness

- Every impure thought

-Have them feeling so guilty, they confess and repent of things that aren’t sin.(111 emphasis mine)

The elders had been well schooled by Zac in the excruciating art of cataloging human nature for the express purpose of critical and biting abuse. They would routinely access “sin lists”, compiled inventories that detailed an individual’s iniquities to determine which buttons they could push to guilt or shame them into submission to their direction. This would include just how often they might fail a community rule or standard. These grotesque times of public sanction would regularly materialize in community social circles in anything from the demand for private and public confessions and even the group’s surveillance and ridicule (“you got to die, man” was a popular retort based upon a perverted allusion to the discipline of Christian self denial). It was involving their housemates and workforce members up to and including all of the community applying a punitive criticism in a surreal pecking order.

And after a time, these strident rebukes started to use the same verbiage and accusations:

“Put downs” heaped on them


- “You are the most selfish person I’ve ever encountered.”

- “You are not being submissive.”

- “You are “mentally unstable” and need therapy.

- “You have to go to the designated therapist with a housemate.” 

- “You are evil and dangerous.”

- “You will go to hell if you leave us for departing from the faith.” (112)

The emphasis is ours and should be noted for later reading.

This short list of the vicious verbal abuse heaped upon community members was so often used that it would become just a normal part of the social background noise that was, of course, an oral tradition completely hidden to all outsiders, as we’ve noted. The Sticklers saw how it was executed regularly, freely and without a single mediating filter.

This crushing influence, they went on to recognize, was directly contributing to an appalling mass psychological, emotional and religious breakdown of individuality within the community which we’ve already noted here. In terse, rapid fire delivery, the Sticklers gave a chilling summary that cannot be dismissed or refuted since it has been the experience of every survivor we’ve spoke with from Gladstone:


- Teachings are strong and convincing

- Leadership acts like they are the direct link from God

- Operate “in Jesus’ name,” as if it were by His authority

- Twist Scripture for their interpretation of passages

- Ridicule any other positions

- “Visions” and “dreams” declared specifically for an individual or group

- Told what God’s will is for them

- Confusing and conflicting declarations spoken over them

- Tremendous internal confusion and turmoil in individuals

. difficulty determining what is right and what is truth

. question their own ability to think clearly

. difficulty understanding who they are or who they should be

- Conclude they must be wrong about whatever they question

. not submissive enough

. didn’t have a servant attitude

. convinced they had a bad attitude

. community must be right

. continue to keep their mouths shut

- Only look to leadership and follow their mandates as their absolute authority (113)


Perhaps one of the most devastating observations made here, as if the reports of the mental and spiritual  torment weren’t bad enough, was the plain fact the Sticklers had noted about how the nature of truth itself in this “Christian” community had become completely disconnected from the foundations of Scripture itself:


Not having time to read Scripture for themselves. They had assigned study sheets with questions to answer from designated passages. (114)

The one time “Bible study” had now become an exercise of drone programming. With the Gladstone Work Gospel and all of its man made traditions filled with the tyranny of the urgent, the time study and the demand for compliance to schedules, the time for personal Bible study and personal reflection was coldly rechanneled into the completion of handouts between daily chores. Inner lives had been exploded outwardly for ready access by the demands of the arbitrarily vicious influences imposed by young men thinking their angers, frustrations and ugly insults were the voice of God.    

“No new couples were forming,” they also wrote, and this was a direct testimony to the “marriage idolatry” mandate there:

“Girls entering will never marry while living there. No dating, no pursuing a relationship for a spouse. Any guy who thinks he is interested in a girl must present that thought to his house; the house decides whether he can or not, typically they will tell him it is not the time or he or she is not ready. Girls cannot pursue a guy. They are to consider their elders as their ‘spiritual covering.’ (They never) will have biological children. Parents will never have grandkids through them. (They may) “wake up” in their 40s realizing child-bearing years were robbed from them. 

… (The elders would claim that) no dating was allowed without permission of house leadership and ultimately elders. But in reality NO DATING WHATSOVER was allowed. Celibacy was spoken of as it was the highest spirituality of life, and the most devoted spiritually..” (115)

This monstrously mundane tsunami of Gladstone religious abuse and mind control was transforming their children into pliable, mindless robots conditioned to present aloof, cold distancing to their anxious parents. The Sticklers, being of parental age themselves, painfully recognized how the “community” really felt about such unwelcome outsiders:

Parents of those within Gladstone feel devalued

- Feel their young adult children are trapped and imprisoned, held captive by Gladstone

- See their young adult kids very little

- See them only at a Gladstone event or when someone has to accompany their son/daughter

- See the personality of their son/daughter change

- Know they are totally controlled by the community

- Phone and internet contacts are limited and monitored

- Community takes precedence over the biological family

- Some parents have been cut off  …..

- Treat divorce and remarriage like the unpardonable sin

- Those born in a remarriage have told parents they are living in sin.

- Parents who have divorced have been essentially cut off.

- Told if they had a divorce, they can never remarry.  (116)


Hundreds of parents, thinking their children were getting help from a Christian ministry, had become virtually pariahs to them. Anyone reading this ought to stop a moment and think about what we’ve just shared: out of their arrogant and deceptive oral tradition, Zac and elders were determined to exercise a diabolical control they’d successfully captured over the hearts and minds of these young Christian men and women.  Zac’s obsession to keep the Lost Boys and Girls firmly chained to their workstations in Neverland was a ruthless moral absolute he exercised without pity or apology.

The grotesquely hypocritical irony of Gladstone’s alienating influence upon its members can’t be lost when you listen to Zac’s soaring dilation on the need for Christians to honor their parents which he delivered to the MCC:

This command is to all of us. Honor your mother and your father. .. You see, as we come into the world, we are actually trained how to relate with God as children, to our parents. And so God has a special place in his heart for parents and their relationship to their children. It's also the same reason that many people will not want to have the conversation with God on the day of Judgement when he asked them how they did in raising their children. Because it's both a special place in God's heart and a supreme responsibility to raise them up in the fear of the Lord. 

Most of us in this room are .. where both we and our parents are independent from each other. Now, this does take a major change. This takes a major change in the fact that at this point, we begin to walk in a way of honoring our parents, but the relationship is no longer obedience to them. It doesn't they don't have responsibility for our life anymore. Therefore they don't have authority to simply tell us what to do. However,  that does not mean that they become just one in the crowd like anybody else. Parents are always to be held in a place of honor.

When someone in your life is due honor, there are things that you cannot say or do towards them that may be appropriate and other relationships. .. a very simple phrase in the Law of Moses says,
The righteous rise, when the aged enter the room. “The righteous rise when the aged enter the room” you see, we live in such a culture, where everyone's an equal. .. But in God's economy, honor is due to certain people that it's not due to others. Yes, everyone should be treated with dignity, and respect.

But honor is something that God expects us to do towards parents, towards those older than us towards those in government positions, towards those in leadership in the church. Those are such important things for us to understand because we live in an honorless society. And it breaks my heart. Now when I see an older person come into a room, and a bunch of 17 and 18 year old to sprawled out on all the chairs, there's something wrong, it's not only rude, there's something sinful about it. There's something that just strikes you this is wrong! 


You see, the way we honor our parents, in this stage, is the way we speak to them. We don't condescend to them. We don't speak over them. We don't argue with them. .. You see in the first stage, honor your mother and father has the word obedience added. In the second stage, honor your mother and father stands alone. But in the third, it's honor your mother and your father and repay. In fact, Paul says this last stage is so important that if you're not willing to do it, you might as well stop calling yourself a Christian, because you have denied the faith, you are worse than someone who refuses to believe in Jesus. Powerful. 


Now hear me, our honoring of our parents is not dependent on them being honorable, it's a command from God. But my message to parents is, live in such a way that you did not create stumbling blocks for your children. That's very, very important. Are you an honorable parent. And that doesn't mean being perfect. Sometimes the most honorable parents are just the ones who admit their faults to their children. Sometimes that's the most basic thing you can do. These things are very important to the heart of God. Very, very important to the heart of God. And we all need to learn to honor and respect and where it's appropriate to obey. (117)

This pious grandiloquence of Zac is Zac at his deceptive best. He kept his straight, earnest face during all of this oration before his public audience. For all of the stern indictments he serves up on rebellion against established human authority and his passion for honor to be given to human parents, even when they are found in faults, he comes across as a figure of moral rectitude. And as the Sticklers saw firsthand, the exact opposite is what he and the leaders of Gladstone actually foment among his followers.  

Their ruthless undercutting of parental perspective and connection within the Gladstone community by glibly phrased verbiage that sounded affirming of it while casting it simultaneously as an idolatrous attachment to “the world” is classic cultism at its worst. Multitudes of families divided by cults from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to Remnant Fellowship and the Funny First Church down the street can testify to this acutely agonizing reality as the darkening of their lives. The division of young Gladstone members from their parents and the disruption of families as a result was what came of Zac’s “honor and respect” and the toxic aftermath was poisoning them all.

These documents written by the Sticklers contain page after page of appalling first hand observation. We only recounted a few of them here, but they are singularly telling. Ernie and June were unwitting ringside eyewitnesses to the power of cultism and the impact of the cruelty of Gladstone’s heretical traditions of men.

Even as they defended Gladstone against the charges by those outside of it looking in that the group was a cult, the Sticklers were struggling with what they were seeing and understanding. There’s little else to do when truth overwhelms the idealism you walk in with a far more bumpier reality. The moments of truth that they had to face certainly have to be some of the most painful things to document in personal reverie. But through the crisis of conscience they grappled with, being the people of integrity they were , Ernie and June knew what they would have to do. 


As indicated by the Stickler’s horrified observations, the Gladstone Community Church was a massive exercise of humanly powered and oppressive enterprise continually seeking advantage over all involved in it. Ever being the spiritual opportunists they were, stealthily engaged in a never ending search for new territory, it was inevitable that their pursuit of new markets would take them to the proverbial four winds to explore every avenue their influence could invade.

Christian mission is at the heart of Evangelical Christian faith. Reaching others across the street and around the world with the message of the Good News is the sacred task churches are to be about. The churches of Cincinnati have a long standing commitment to supporting world missions projects and Gladstone from its inception leaped into the effort as well through their giving and even their deployment to foreign mission trips. Many of the young men and women of Gladstone had been involved in this support as an extension of their personal faith to their credit. 

But as with any of their involvement with causes not originating from their own initiative, for the Gladstone leaders, they viewed their efforts to support local world missions as a cunning way to continue currying good will and a facade of Christian propriety. Using their ability to mobilize their community workforce for the funding and material support of a variety of mission outreach projects, Gladstone achieved even further renown for their movement in the region and while the bloom was still fresh upon their joint work together, during the MCC/GCC partnership, Gladstone drew upon the extensive church and ministry networking to identify and then support a variety of Evangelical world missions projects to underwrite.

The work of the Gladstone Community Church in helping third party missions organizations in global settings all over the world is one of the only efforts they can be commended for. They sent clothing, Bibles and financial aid to several missionary organizations in India, Guatemala, Israel and Mexico among other places, even if their assistance had strings attached and recruitment agendas. The agencies they became deeply involved in ranged from Bible colleges to medical ministries, from orphanages and community development efforts and Gladstone’s insinuating offer to help certainly was seen as a godsend. And as their relationships with these agencies grew, Zac and those mission minded Gladstone members would find invitations and opportunities to go and participate in missions work, which for many of them was one of the most truly momentous accomplishments of their lives that combined their spiritual passion with mission vocation. Who can fault travel to deliver supplies, food and personal labor in building and encouraging other believers?  We certainly can’t.

But despite the seemingly noble motives behind their daily frenetic energy they expended to empower these initiatives, and despite the fact that it all genuinely aided the Christian mission agencies they worked with, the personal cost they bore was enormous, weighed down with a burdensome reality that would become ever more apparent.. 

An entirely new level of even greater burden was impressed by Zac upon the church to shoulder for the “Gospel.”  The preparation for travel to the missions field along with the provisions, supplies and funding necessary to sustain a visit by a missions team is staggering. I’ve led two missions trips myself just to inner city situations in America and understand what’s involved. So when Ernie and June Stickler had noted how the Gladstone members were goaded into an
“all-consuming of their time … to work extra jobs to fund these trips – not just for themselves but for people in Mexico, Guatemala and India,”(118)   they were bearing witness to a trainwreck in action. The ever increasing mandate by Gladstone leadership for the group to engage in endless amounts of fundraising required an unreal amount of pressure upon their members to even deeper levels of servitude, labor and sacrifice to raise funding, gather material support and other resources to be transshipped overseas to mission churches and organizations.

As they connected with the local pastors and church leaders they came to know in their visits to the mission fields, once again resorting to an arbitrary extravagance, Gladstone’s leaders would take it upon themselves to provide for them all paid vacations to Israel as a luxurious sabbatical of sorts for them, not to mention stops in Cincinnati. Out of a strange sense of piteous mercy, they chose to devote themselves to serving these workers, who’d only known lives of bare subsistence in ministry, by offering to give them opportunities to be flown to the lands of the Bible they’d preached about all of their lives - to see Israel in a jet age pilgrimage/sabbatical. Such an unimaginable offer beckoned to so many ministers and mission workers who graciously accepted their offer, thus creating a massive call upon Gladstone’s cash flow.

As the requests were honored by the bean counters on Gladstone’s financial team, the demands upon the budgets of the community grew exponentially. These weren't going to be fulfilled using the common purse funding for their group of course. The community members who were at first commended to give liberally into this need and then compelled by hard fisted divine fiat delivered by the elders and Zac  knew what was coming. 


They’d already been prepped for ever increasing liberality in their local charity drives, and to ensure they please God, they all took on joint support for a wide variety of fundraising campaigns ranging from extra Uber driving to babysitting. Anything that someone could do - on their own time - was lavishly regarded as a sign of obedience and submission. And in a cultic movement, personal image is everything. So everyone became committed to even deeper levels of hard labor and sacrifice, even down to the last dollar of their $100 monthly stipends drawn from their own salaries sucked right into the common purse. 

The physical cost of this laborious effort imparted by the communal drive for the almost ceaseless activity centered around their “Work Gospel” as well as their Evangelical travel agency was crushing. The community’s resources meted out to their drones was grossly insufficient: in their list of observations, the Sticklers noted that there was

enormous time and work involved in fund-raising. In addition to their regular work, all must work many extra hours. Saturday work assignments until at least 4 pm. (This) physically exhausted) them. Every minute of their time is consumed by Gladstone mandates.

(There is an) extreme amount of extra work required for fund-raising and Israel or mission trips .. Little sleep. Told when to get up. What to do all day. When to go to bed. Poor nutrition – small portions, mostly cheap carbohydrates, small food budgets per house. 

Despite the barely concealed slavery they labored under, the comforting ideal of sacrificing so deeply for their foreign brothers was somehow shared by Gladstone membership. It helped them to retain some sense of  fulfillment that helped them to weather their abject servitude and the daily driving harangue of the elders to do and give more. Giving of themselves in service to believers around the world helped them forget about their own struggles with the “believers” they lived with. And that’s how Zac wanted it as he partnered extensively with every ministry he could to keep the community busy and involved, running them ragged for the “Kingdom,” 

The never ending drive to fulfill his Work Gospel as well Zak's “suggestion” that even more hard labor was to be owned by all actually served his Gladstone vision well
Busy, driven people don’t often think critically when tasked with another job - they just quickly do what they’re told, especially when bound to an unforgiving schedule that keeps them busy. In cults, this is a classic mobilization of their group members to slave away at a task single mindedly, requiring their complete absorption into the task to prevent thinking, reflection and maybe even realization that they were indeed the slaves that they had become. 

As commendable as their individual efforts to exhaustively fund and support these world missions efforts were, it must not be forgotten that their labor of love was being despitefully mobilized by a grotesquely unethical coercion. They were being involuntarily driven to provide charity, utterly expending themselves in the effort. Christine Hilton spoke of how effectively this misguided personal vibrancy radiated by the genuine faith, sacrifice and compassionate love of the Gladstone members served the cult’s aims well:

In the beginning, for years they were very involved in other international mission trips with other churches. That all seemed to die away though.  .. It was hard to say that it was wrong, because a lot of people looking into the community saw people (there) go to India serving the orphanage where children had been sex slave traded, people going to Guatemala, serving churches there, Mexico, serving orphanages there .. It’s hard to. You’ll accept them because they’re doing so much work for the Lord. (120)

The objectives of these mission agencies were diverse. Some were as mentioned orphanages and youth ministries in India; others were Bible schools in Mexico, and still others churches in Guatemala and Honduras. The work of pioneering mission pastors like Melvin Kincaid and Ofer Amitai was favored by them as well. Amitai, a Messianic Jew who’d worked closely with a Pentecostal mission home in Zion, Illinois was a pastor of a messianic congregation who enjoyed Gladstone support (121) Kincaid’s Guate-Mex Incorporated organization, according to one online source indicated that their work involved the

maintaining (of) 4 Bible schools among a group of 350 national churches in Mexico (including auto/air travel & insurance expenses for missionaries & national school directors, & upkeep of vehicles & vans for missionaries and school directors) ..Property & building expenses for churches, parsonages, & Bible Schools in Mexico …assistance for missions trainees, national pastors, & students in Mexico, including equipment and literature for ministry, as well as radio programs, retreats, & conferences, plus assistance for widows, orphans, and needy in Mexico and Guatemala.  (122).

We have no way of knowing, yet, how much of Gladstone’s members provided for the Guate-Mex mission but as you can see, their own needs were considerable. As we’ve said, world missions efforts have always needed and entirely rely upon the stewardship of the Christian church to provide critical support and resources. What we do know is that their cooperation with these and other missions provided many opportunities for the cult to insinuate itself into the missions on a regular basis. Many Gladstone laborers and builders came to renovate and rebuild missions facilities, transport clothing, food and Bibles and opened other doors for preaching and teaching there. Zac and others became keynote speakers at Bible conferences, feted as godly church leaders from America empowered by a divine and apostolic mandate. This continued for several years since the early 2010’s but isn’t continuing to the extent it once did for reasons that will become apparent.

As a result of their close work abroad, believers from these mission lands were extended invitations to actually fly to Cincinnati for further rest and fellowship with their supporters. These mostly came from Mexico and Central America and what they thought was a refuge among fellow believers turned out to be anything but. The anonymous testimony offered spontaneously to Christine from a Mexican Christian bears a gentle yet uncompromising witness to the sheer viciousness of Gladstone’s actual, real-time example as it sought to compel their submission to them: 

I share some of my TESTIMONY.


I am very grateful to my heavenly Father for having taken me out of this community, now more than ever I enjoy a more intimate relationship with Dad God. At the beginning of the community in Mexico we saw the Holy Spirit guiding us, using us because he saw our sincere hearts and he supported us in everything, there was no arrogance, arrogance, manipulation, false humility and love as in the leaders of Cincinnati.

They were amazed by how we were .. but they would NEVER accept their mistakes that they have made since the beginning of their community and what they hide. They do not accept that they are wrong and will rebuke you and will not be humble. I always saw their attitudes and how they acted. They contaminated the work of the Lord because little by little they were quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit, I saw it.

I know there are many members who are honest but
they are using the word of God to manipulate, this is known as the BITE model today . When I left, I regretted having made my decision to be there, but Dad God showed me that it was part of my purpose to teach me to love and learn more about false teachers. When I lived there I saw that there are many things that they condemn and they themselves do, they judge those who leave and manipulate saying they are in sin and are traitors, serious accusations, sadly they will be measured with the same measure.

Dad God reminded me who I am in him and that his word is the TRUTH and NOT a human COVENANT and the words of men. They have not understood that every day we commit sin and they deceive themselves without realizing that before God sin is sin, the Holy Spirit opens their eyes. True LOVE is UNCONDITIONAL not CONDITIONAL because when you leave the community they will stop treating you as before and even stop talking to you, I know that there are many (this has) happened to .. and they condition you if you are with them you are welcome, loved and accepted by them and by God but if you go... NO.

When Jesus said they will be known by their FRUITS, he was not referring to good works but to the FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, which are ATTITUDES that we manifest, that is why the fruit of the Holy Spirit is about knowledge, sacrifice, good works, that reflects a son of God. Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13. They have not understood Corinthians 13, God's unconditional love. If they feel attacked they will feel like martyrs "for Jesus" without knowing the reality of things. Sadly there are many people who have suffered at their hands. Let us continue to pray for those who have a good heart and the Father guide them, heal them and freedom in Christ!


This Mexican believer certainly was not alone. Many other third world Christians who came to learn of the nature of Gladstone’s hot house of religious abuse saw the same arrogant and prideful attitudes of the cult’s leaders in person as they traipsed around their Grace Street properties and city businesses. They realized what they’d learned of the essence of Christian faith was almost entirely absent among Gladstone’s godless governance. Their guests beheld the absence of authentic humility and the arrogance of posturing humanity in the belligerent swagger of their hosts. “They knew”, to quote a Bible verse, “and their eyes were opened.”

We’ve seen that Zac and the elders didn’t commit resources to any cooperative effort with outside parties in which they didn’t have hope for a reciprocal payback. The attention of Gladstone leadership for years has been largely dominated by the principle of gaining advantage so as to advance their own agenda of enlisting more slaves for their cause. The community’s investment of time, money and resources in any project is never without strings of some sort and the bridging they made from the third world churches to the American church experience was intended to be that conduit.  This is especially true when they came and stayed illegally without green cards.


Aware of the vast potential for new souls and new drones for their cottage industries, Gladstone clearly was seeking to build a firm bridge for the recruitment of Christians from other countries. During the heyday of the cult’s infiltration into this Christian mission work, when it was at its busiest, the visitations Gladstone hosted were quite frequent. They targeted foreign believers who weren’t brought to America just to chill out but to be lured and be actively remade into their image.


And when the sharp corners of fallen human nature found among their Third World brethren couldn’t be rounded off quickly enough, it wasn’t hard to jettison them like a used solid rocket booster:


“Carlos” and his wife came to the community with the hope of prospering spiritually since Carlos struggled with his character and some vices. After working for a while without money, Carlos became desperate and began to be "rebellious." He left the community but they did not let his wife and daughters see him again.


Carlos was waiting for his renewal of his green card, unfortunately he relapsed into drugs.  Then in a few months he wants help from the community because his family was there and they say they will give it to him with the condition that he has to return to Mexico to a rehabilitation center. He accepts.


And when the green card arrives, they return it to immigration. They practically made him lose his family and his green card by manipulating them -  now he can’t do anything because you cannot travel out from the U.S. when you are waiting for your green card to Mexico. Sorry for my English. (124) 

It was a business decision that Gladstone’s leadership coldly executed - the cutting off of a struggling brother from his family by duping him to return back to his home in a foreign land while awaiting his legal document to clean up on his own in a secular recovery center there. His dysfunction was effortlessly cast off from the community. He was just another Mexican miscreant that Gladstone could easily dispense with while retaining his family to augment their labor force. There were others like him that could easily carry his workload on the streets to deceptively razzle dazzle into their orbit - especially when the carrot of a green card was dangled. No additional expenses would be made to rehab him there, and his family would become newly installed and far more compliant recruits for their ready utilization. 

How many others felt this unique form of pastoral “visitation” is unknown. But this is what could come up during the toxic interaction and connection Gladstone had with recruits from around the world. It simply begs the questions: Did the mission leaders like Amitai or Kincaid ever really recognize this corrupt manner in which the true nature of Gladstone’s activity was made manifest?  How much of their “charity” led to the breaking of immigration law? What did all who drew support from Gladstone’s wells really know about the rank cultism that roiled under the surface of their contact with them? This last question alone deserves an investigation we simply don’t have the time to pursue answers for. That such evil as that felt by the destroyed family of Carlos took place is indicative, given what we know about Gladstone’s twisted utilitarian usage of its' meek membership, that it was a regular season of human misery that was so deeply hidden to all.

We cannot pursue any more of this story other than to say that it was a tale that deserves more coverage. We can say that those in the community who were Latino and/or spoke Spanish such as Chris Velez, a zealous and young Puerto Rican member, were in high demand to help convey the Gladstone pitch to their Latin prospects. It was certainly an experiment that Zac and the community had high hopes for. Their charitable public image, groomed by so much of the community’s zealous piety was an effective cover of the entire recruitment operation. The church, in essence, was a front group for a human trafficking enterprise out of sight and out of mind to the outside world.


But as these two Mexican believers shared, the true nature of Gladstone’s cultism, a massive socially cancerous growth among them, couldn’t be ignored. They were a person of conscience who would not be bought and the vast majority of those who visited didn’t stick around either. Their fate remains unknown, anonymous and remote.  And Gladstone would make sure this kind of “ministry” would be observed in perpetuity among them.


One thing is clear: they two believers understood the old Mexican proverb very well and had no desire to replicate it:

El que con lobos anda, a aullar se enseña. "He who runs with wolves will learn to howl.”

 Zac The Bearer Of Comfortable Whips
“When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.”


Churches and Christian faith communities are supposed to be places of light where those seeking hope in a dark world can find it freely offered through compassionate caring provided in the name of Jesus Christ. People ravaged by the onslaughts of life, tragedy, sickness and immorality which poison human society have sought refuge, acceptance and a new way of living as they sought healing from the injuries they endured by just being on the flight of life.



The ministry of a church is a service offered freely to those seeking help from it (we won’t argue with those who have found their requests for aid from all too many churches go unheard or ignored, thus resulting in a ruthless lack of tact or concern). Each congregation’s ministry has its own unique projection of presence and investment in the care of the victims of a darkened world’s pitfalls. All usually involve the classic forms of prayer, confidential counsel and spiritual direction, as well as personal encouragement whether from an uplifting text to an inboxes email, from a handshake or smile to the group hug.

So at the core of any Christian ministry is heartfelt love and care for the people who have chosen to commit their care and trust into it, following the guidance of God the Spirit to alleviate the pain and sorrows of people in crisis all around them:" The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4) That has always been the divine and shining ideal.

Unfortunately, it has been the heavy hand of human ego that has perverted this vision into a gaudy spectacle across time. We are fully aware of the church’s failure to provide that for so many, even if many others have indeed found church guidance beneficial.  And the sectarian clutch of a cult’s ensnarement of hearts and minds  is accompanied by its own unique cold-blooded dialogue, which, as we have repeatedly pointed out is an inner language not known to those outside its reach. This group narrative is obsessed by a goal of complete domination of those who hear it and always confirms what level of “compassion” actually motivates them.

At this point the story of Zac and his Gladstone puppetmastery blackens to a greater degree, if that is even possible. Their “counseling” of those in deeply personal struggles who came to them for help are exhibits A through Z of some of the most repugnantly cruel exercises of wanton power tripping we’ve ever seen in human society. We’ve mentioned this also repeatedly in our expose here, but it cannot be overemphasized.  Zac and the Gladstone leadership’s  “spiritual direction” and “counsel” were and are fraught with an unsavory degree of intentionally inflicted innuendo, insult, verbal abuse and condemnation of those who submitted to their authoritative “advise.”  The “counsel” always seemed to find counseling subjects as victims of their own sin, found
somehow wanting or deserving of punitive pressure.


This “counseling outreach” of Gladstone included their internal, invisible and never ending efforts to manipulatively oversee whoever they could within their circles of influence. Their elders and leadership exercised a spiritual mentorship that commanded their submission to regular counsel and admonition that took place daily among the community’s live-in membership. Provided ad hoc to the diverse populace of Gladstone as required by the group’s self-confirming agenda, the counseling influence was able to impact so many as it flowed throughout the group’s social circles. It could occur anywhere at any time in the community. It has been an ongoing “ministry” of mostly manipulatory effect that began during the Bible study days at the old Mariemont apartment, long before the first Gladstone house was purchased. And it set the tone for how the community would function.

But two of the major venues where Gladstone’s critical counsel were most intentionally offered up were in their “Lazarus Rooms” and in formal spiritual counseling settings. These dual efforts were used to impart Gladstone’s direction upon the captive audiences of Gladstone disciples who sought help with their personal issues. These levels of struggle which they grappled with couldn’t be just resolved by a song, a prayer and obedience to community rule.  Gladstone counseling input was therefore enthusiastically mobilized by Zac, elders and the community as a divinely focused way to meet their needs. These incidents were not confined to private, behind close doors settings whatsoever. As we mentioned, there were and to this day still are daily "coaching" moments of this experienced by every Gladstone survivor we’ve spoken to. It could take place on job sites, over coffee at a breakfast table, in the living rooms of a Gladstone house. Their incidence was so regular that “counseling” was a mundane affair in the cult whether they were subjects of their house family fury or mute witnesses hoping to avoid the short words and trenchant stare of spiritualizing scrutiny by their self-righteous “shepherds.”

As the pool of potential prospects for Gladstone grew, they came from all of the cultural strata of life. Struggling with deep inner conflicts that created dysfunction in their lives, they sought grace from God which they thought would be exhibited at Gladstone. Among those were people who were raised in the church who shared elbow room at Gladstone tables with recovering drug addicts who had never known a family.  They would be single mothers who’d been homeless with their children as well as older divorced men grappling with mental health issues. This was especially true when they were sent as referrals by the many different regional churches and parachurch ministries who couldn’t provide such counseling themselves and had heard of Gladstone’s own in-house testimonies of spiritual counsel by word of mouth. These Christian ministries would call upon Gladstone’s ability to provide temporary emergency shelter for those fleeing domestic violence situations, those who were recovering addicts and even halfway house services providing social services such as job training, shelter and support.

City social services were a secular norm which had their own limitations and restrictions, but spiritual alternatives were and still are in high demand by the religious organizations in the area. They wanted a faith-based connection for those addicted to drugs and alcohol who had made their fearful moral inventory and determined they wanted to kick their habits “cold turkey” by embracing the fire of detoxifying with Christian faith fortifying them. And it was made evident to Cincinnati church circles that Gladstone had begun to intake people struggling with addictions to begin nonprofessional social detoxification among their own community’s “covenant” Houses.

These Christian ministries who referred people to Gladstone were all told that such a program was rigorous and needed a supportive community to foster the voluntary breakaway of addicts from the power of substance abuse. Of course, what better place could be found but in the embrace of their church? Gladstone already had identified the many opportunities that arose as they made room for street people, the abused and the hurting among them to find healing and restoration while under Gladstone’s watchful care. It all seemed like a win-win situation.

Halfway houses that provide the first safe havens for those seeking freedom from drugs are a common feature of  many recovery organizations in Western society today. People bound by drug or alcohol excess are guided into programs to help them kick their habits by a variety of interactions and monitored self-denials among supportive people facilitating the event, which can be quite harrowing as it proceeds. Their operation and diversity are explained as follows:

“Social detoxification programs are defined as short ­term, nonmedical treatment services for individuals with substance use disorders. A social detoxification program offers room, board, and interpersonal support to intoxicated individuals and individuals in substance use withdrawal. … in actual practice, social detoxification programs vary greatly in their approach and scope. Some programs offer some medical and nursing onsite supervision, while others provide access to medical and nursing evaluation through clinics, urgent care programs, and emergency departments.

Some social detoxification programs only offer basic room and board for a “cold turkey” detoxification, while other programs offer supervised use of medications. Sometimes medications are prescribed at the onset of withdrawal by healthcare professionals in an outpatient setting, while the staff in the social detoxification program supervises the administration of these medications. Whatever the particular situation might be, there should always be medical surveillance, including monitoring of vital signs, as part of every social detoxification program.”  (124) 

As a Christian church, Gladstone was allegedly offering spiritual counseling principles based upon Biblical precept and compassionate conversation. That was what was an unspoken expectation the external church agencies were going by. It was a high bar they set upon their work as they set out to extend compassionate care for those in crisis and personal struggle within their group. 


Gladstone was also fully aware that none of them were professional counselors and that their offered counsel was only pastoral in nature. But their counseling tenor certainly wasn’t lost upon the counseled. A revealing assertion that Gladstone made in another one of their all but invisible publications aimed at their own private audience about the spirit of their counsel bears repeating:

A person may not receive full healing in this life. It is not until the Resurrection that we are promised an end to disease and disorders of all kinds. That being said, what we can contend for and should contend for in every way possible for the person we are ministering (to) is that they would have a sober mind, so that they can pray and seek God.  While we need to be open handed and humble about the method God may use to bring this about, whether supernatural or natural means, we should earnestly contend in prayer that any persons we are ministering to would receive the sober mind necessary in following Jesus Christ.   (125)

Notably, Gladstone’s leaders are instructed to adopt a contentious mindset over their authority over “the person we are ministering to.”  They were to assert, out of a supposed humility before God, an argumentative and directive manner in relationship to those they were seeking counsel for. This penciled in nod for zealotry in counsel of those submitted to Gladstone is a wide open door for the misuse of spiritual authority by those who submitted to it.  

Remember that the publication this was found in was called “Psychological Disorders” and was clearly intended to be viewed by Gladstone elders and leaders as a “ministry field guide”, a “quick reference guide for ministers as they preach the Gospel, make disciples and shepherd believers” (126).  The booklet is filled with concise descriptions of a variety of mental health crises involving anxiety, mood and psychotic disorders as well as the detailing of what they called “neurocognitive” and “somatic symptom disorders” in distinctions that are far more detailed than a mere “quick reference guide”.  There are discussions of the symptoms for each classification and even the medications used to treat them.
Gladstone’s leadership tries hard to have its cake and eat it here as they inform their ministry leaders to not use the book as a “one stop shop” (127) for understanding those struggling with mental health crises, but the detail of the discussion is meant to provide leadership guidelines on how to approach and understand them. The fact that none of the leaders this book was written to apparently had any professional certification or training on mental health treatment didn’t faze them either. They were to
contend in their ministry, ready to argue or press a case with the situation – which inexorably became a focus on the struggling of the counselees themselves. This was the guiding principle to the "healing journey" that Gladstone required of them: that a "no bull" and straightforward directive guidance was key to their deliverance from addiction.

We already are quite aware that Gladstone leadership from Zac on down had no compunction in hyper focusing on the failings of the young Christians already submitted to their authority and counsel, so a renewed focus upon those grappling with mental health issues was certainly an expected development. The “care” of
those struggling with besetting sins, trauma and phobias and other deep personal problems became an even deeper way that the Gladstone leadership could manipulatively steer and compel their disciples and the anecdotal evidence is that they took every liberty to command such influence. It was another cultic community ruse of using a little carrot and a lot of stick to “inspire” their subjects.

Typically the process began when someone innocently presented to the elders a personal confidence about their problems and would be immediately directed to someone supposedly able to provide for them spiritual counsel meant to aid them. Despite some of the initially helpful influence it provided (the carrot) the nature of counsel usually would conclude with exhortations to repent of sins they were said to be in (the stick). This monotonous template was used regardless if the counselee was the actual victim of some outrage, abuse or injury out of their past. They were enjoined to work harder at their jobs in the community and were endless admonished to “die to yourself.”  This latter rejoinder was part of Gladstone’s directives for the troubled to quit thinking about their struggles and immerse themselves in service to and for others. Submerging their desires and pains under prayers and hard work was the prescription for the pained. They were to just forgive whoever for whatever and move on.

The demand made of Gladstone members to “die to yourself” was part of the cultic verbal shorthand within Gladstone culture that was essentially a thought stopping cliche, a proverb meant to end all discussion, reflection or question. It could be shouted at someone who disagreed with an elder’s direction or juggled about in group discussions in the covenant homes. It was no less a blatant reinforcement of Gladstone’s cultic authority when it was whispered sweetly and even prayerfully in counseling sessions. It was a mandate to completely ignore your pain as well as a standard recommendation to forgive and forget the past and deaden one’s wounding by endless prayer to elevate one’s brokenness above all struggle. You “died” to your self, quite literally. Your pain was not to be pandered to again.

This by-your-bootstraps attitude was an avoidance of the hard realities those who struggle have to face.  Scott Morrison, a Gladstone survivor who struggled with his own addictions while among them in two stints from 2012 through 2018 , flatly reflected in a terse reverie that as Gladstone’s spiritualizing approach made personal prayer the main thrust of “counsel”, it was meant to disengage one’s personal responsibility for critical self-examination:

.. prayer is the ultimate treatment, but you know, you still have to work on yourself. You can't just pray the drink away. If I offend anybody, I apologize. But it's true. You have to go through your alcoholism, drug addiction ..  That's the tip of the iceberg. What lies below that ? A lot of wreckage. (128)

Scott makes an important point about the nature of personal struggle with trauma and substance abuse.

People who have lived under the clutch of personal bondage to things like drug usage, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence and alcohol usage often suffer greatly with the personal inner mental and spiritual impoverishing that the lifestyles surrounding these excesses and wounding inflict. As a result, there is a terrible amount of what’s called the “fearful moral inventory” in recovery circles that needs to be intentionally done. It’s a time of deeply personal assessment and reflection upon their unique challenges as they navigate their valleys of personal decision and struggle.

In so doing, men and women seeking freedom from their addictions are often unable to see their way out and are so willing to receive aid and direction to that end. As we’ve seen, Gladstone has no compunction or reservation in boldly dictating to those who submit to their leading on how to engage reality from its own short-sighted perspective. The regimented lifestyle mandates of the average Gladstone drone were the most applicable admonitions which their pastoral counsel would bring forth. Since the cult was and is a communal group, these remonstrations emerged regularly over dinner tables, in work places and when chilling together. The Gladstone environment was a uniquely enveloping lifestyle where 24/7, the recovering addict or abuse victim who had taken up residence would hear their counsel drilled into them
over and over.

Other churches and parachurch ministries sent people to Gladstone's care whom they thought might be helped by them and these counseling and mentoring dimensions of personal ministry became distinct outreaches of genuine Christian concern by the young Gladstone disciples. And their example was to model what level of deference to Gladstone’s authority they needed to submit to so as to get with the program. They readily shared on this to those in crisis, who had the choice to meekly submit to them or to find their dissent or lament crushingly rebuked as weakness and selfishness.

And as the demand for counseling grew, it would become readily apparent in their discussions with elders that Gladstone’s remedies were often a regimen of unworkable piety. They didn’t need their field manual to quickly determine when people exhibited struggles that could only be addressed by actual professional counseling. So David Barr, a member of the Mariemont Community Church who was a licensed therapist was contracted by the church to provide this assistance to those within the group who needed it. With a practice in Norwood, a nearby suburb in the area, Barr’s involvement with Gladstone became quite extensive as he addressed many in the community with his counseling perspective which he’d been honing since 1989. 

From the outset though, Barr’s work immediately became a source of even greater anxiety and oppression for all he supposedly was to help from Gladstone.

One of the inviolable principles of counseling, whether lay, pastoral or professional in nature, is that all interaction and content shared in a relationship between a counselor and a counselee is to be confidential and private. What is shared in a therapist’s office, a private room or a pastor’s study between someone unburdening themselves to another is expected to be kept in full confidence between each other. Such has been the standard of care among those practicing it to the extent that counseling is a legally safeguarded field which even a court of law cannot intrude into except in extreme circumstances directly involving safeguarding abuse victims from self harm, or situations where criminal acts were done.  The confidentiality between a minister and a congregant is viewed as a confessional whose privacy is to be unbroken in all circumstances. The laws described in the Ohio code relating to the standards of ethical practice and professional conduct are quite explicit:

Counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists shall have a primary obligation to protect the client's right to confidentiality as established by law and the professional standards of practice. Confidential information shall only be revealed to others when the clients or other persons legally authorized to give consent on behalf of the clients, have given their informed  consent, except in those circumstances in which failure to do so would violate other laws or result in clear and present danger to the client or others. Unless specifically contraindicated by such situations, clients shall be informed and written consent shall be obtained before the confidential information is revealed. (129)



This standard of counseling practice is sufficiently elevated enough that all of the records, notes and dialogue in a counseling interaction are considered legally as privileged and confidential communication whose breach is viewed as a serious offense. The circle of the counseling relationship between a counselor and the one they seek to help is to be completely unbroken.

In more instances then we want to face, the ideal versus the reality is often quite shockingly and shamefully opposed. While Barr, whose website describes him as a “Licensed Independent Marriage and Family Therapist”  who takes half of his “clients (from those who) come individually, (with) the other half (being from) marriages and families”(130)  is on public record there affirming the necessity for absolute confidentiality in his counseling work, his actual example is execrable. He assures site visitors and potential clients that

my job is to walk with you through your pain and celebrate with you in your growth, to provide tools and insights that can help along the way, and to do this with the utmost respect for you.


It is important that you know that our work together is private.  I will keep all elements of our work strictly confidential, to the extent permitted by the Ohio Law; I must break your privacy only if I suspect a child is being abused, if I believe you are a serious threat to your own safety or the safety of another, or if I receive a court order from a judge. Aside from these exceptions, I will always need your written permission to release any information about you. (131)

Many former members of Gladstone who’ve stepped forward to discuss the bedside manner of Gladstone’s “counselor” would beg to differ.

On multiple occasions, Barr was observed admitting Gladstone members into his counseling office
while accompanied by Gladstone elders or leaders who sat with them during the sessions. It was a common practice which Ernie and June Stickler had noted. The details of each incident in which these Gladstone authority figures took a physical position in the room flatly and factually contradict the claims of Barr to ensuring his Gladstone patients enjoyed privacy in their “therapy.”  Samantha’s remembrance of her own counseling times with Barr being flanked by Gladstone’s arrogant intrusion into the private lives of their captive disciples is typical:

Barr) is essentially one of .. the only outside therapists that they'll use. In the three years I was there .. using really outside counseling .. was primarily David Barr.  .. Every single appointment I went to, I had to have somebody with me, and it was always someone at leadership.  ..

All of the houses have different names. I lived in a house called the Branch and my house pastor there, she would go with me. And then after about a year and a half, I was moved to a new house called the Magdalene and my house pastor there would go with me, so I always had one of those two with me. And I can tell you genuinely I don't recall ever signing a medical release. I don't recall ever signing any kind of paperwork saying legally that they can have access to being in my therapy. Anytime I've ever had anyone else come with me to therapy in the past before Gladstone, we always had to sign paperwork stating that they were allowed to be in that appointment. And I don't recall ever signing anything to allow them into my appointments. It was just .. like ‘we're coming with you.’

(Q: He never said anything about them being there?)

No, nope, he seemed very overall supportive of the community. I wouldn't say my time and his counseling was necessarily bad in the sense of therapy, as he helped me in certain things. But it was never what it could have been. .. I had really severe anxiety in the community because of (their) structure,  the way that you come to feel like you are constantly doing something wrong. And I never had the ability to openly talk about those things.

And I couldn't, because my leadership was with me, I can't, I can't speak against leadership. You can't go against leadership. There's no room for that there


Barr, when confronted recently about his allowing Gladstone church leaders into the counseling settings he conducted, didn't seem too concerned about the law. According to Christine Hilton,  he answered the challenge in a pathetically dismissive answer that  “he had concerns about it but Zak and Eric told him that's how it was going to be!” (133) 

This absolutely grotesque presumption by Gladstone to require this level of intrusive spying on the professional counseling of their flock is what you’d find authoritarian governments and corrupt police doing .. but here we find a brash and unapologetic intentionality pursued by the cult. Barr’s gutless submission to the demands of Gladstone leadership to allow this kind of intrusion into the very room that counseling privacy demands confidentiality within completely undercuts this foundational condition that counsel should be offered. And he suffered this violation again and again.

There’s not much about the extremism of cultic power tripping that surprises anymore. The autocratic leaders of cultism have a shrewd way of gauging human nature and appealing to its dubious morality of outsiders to underwrite their work quite readily, especially when the starry eyed prospective supporters are caught up in their projected delusion. Even with that kind of jaded excess, Gladstone’s demand for leaders to sit in on counseling should have been a wake up call for Barr, but for whatever reason, he chose to become a willing accomplice to their religious terrorism. While Barr may have offered counseling aid in some way to those who’d been brutalized by personal tragedy in their lives before they ever heard of Gladstone,  his assistance had an audience who had no business being there to do what they did and gather confidential information to fulfill their own hidden agenda.

The newer crushing burdens which Gladstone’s cruel manipulation had weighed them down with were  incidents they instinctively knew they couldn’t talk freely of and not risk potential retaliation later for. In the midst of their sharing, Gladstone was there, padding their unwritten files they kept upon everyone in the cult. They were there as spies, collecting intel for Zac and others to use in their next round of manipulative pressure upon them. There is no way this “counselor” could not have known this. Barr’s admission of these figureheads of abuse into what should have been a healing environment is absolutely unconscionable.

Allowing third parties from Gladstone into these supposedly private sessions just because Zach wanted it is evidence that his moral duty to uphold confidentiality of his charges been repeatedly and intentionally crushed, violating all counseling ethics in the most shameful of manners. Consider that his attempt to abrogate responsibility for the ongoing admission of Gladstone leaders into these therapy sessions were the same sort of evasions that the pastor Dennis Beausejour had engaged in while partnering with the group. He just took the pathway of least resistance to avoid the friction Zac and the elders would have offered, risking possible choking of the cash flow for therapy fees.

If someone has been beaten up in life and is revictimized by living in an abusive environment, taking them to a counselor supplied by the abusers who sit in on a private “therapy session” is like a rape victim having to allow their rapist in the emergency room exam to watch their rape kit done behind the curtains. Barr in essence held the jackets of those whose compulsions for obedience and violations of privacy imposed upon helpless and defenseless victims. He gave them band aids for their terrible wounds, and then helped the abusers put their
jackets back on, empowering them to rip open their injuries and smear trash into them .. later.

Samantha as well as others have observed that Gladstone’s entry into the professional therapy business has been ongoing for some time:

They've since trained other people or had them get certified. I think there's at least two people maybe more at this point that were performing internal counseling. .. One person is doing it for the women, one was doing it for the men, I think they might have two for the women now. So they train their own people. I know that one of the women got a certificate but I don't think she's had any formal college. I know that there's one woman in a program to get her degree in psychiatry. And I believe they're probably going to try to use her for medication purposes.

So now they’ll have the counseling side and .. the psychiatric side, They can do both. Once she graduates, they'll have that. I'm positive, actually, that they don't have a degree. But at the time, only one of them had like a certificate. She was taking some classes. It wasn't any kind of formal training. And, nevertheless, we're not meant to be a therapist, to our close friends and family. That takes away the point of therapy, where it's supposed to be an outside source that can speak into your life without knowing your life without being in it. You know, that's the whole point is that it's somebody who can't be impacted who can't go and tell your mom, for example. They have to be a trustworthy source that is independent of your life. It's not appropriate to have any outside relationship with a therapist.


What Samantha refers to are the critical dual principles of objectivity and personal boundaries that professional therapists embody in their care. This is something which Gladstone shamelessly violates with their attempts to create counselors from among their community who will operate in the secretive manner that counsel operates by there. In light of the high handed way that this cult’s leadership operates, there is no way any Gladstone-employed  “therapist” can be trusted to offer professional therapy without ultimately serving as an informant for Zac and leadership at their beck and call. There simply are no inviolate social boundaries within the group that respect privacy and uphold fair perspective. There can’t possibly be any behind its many closed doors which hide from the public view how they really live and act.

And the community’s ability to trot out people with “certifications” supposedly documenting any “professional” education or proficiency in mental health care is no guarantee that their “care” could be considered professional counsel. Their “counselors” training certificates or diplomas neither proves or safeguards their vocational authenticity whatsoever. The activity we document here proves the dangerously opposite. But that won’t stop them from soberly seeking such a feather for their caps.

As a pastoral counselor of many years in a wide variety of settings, I deliver spiritually based counsel based upon dialogue that is confidential. To be objective, you stand apart from people’s control or bias and you listen to understand a situation not encumbered by your prejudice. To respect personal boundaries, you come alongside them in conversation that is kept private. Pastoral care is what was once called “soul care” a long time ago and I don’t offer professional therapy and make no claim to do so. I respectfully come alongside to help people and interact with them as the conversation opens to it using compassion and Scriptural truth to provide perspective from that source as well as Christian tradition. As needed, I will direct people who struggle with deep set personal dysfunction to therapists and don’t feel threatened or defeated if I need to.

At the same time, at the end of the day, whatever is shared in a room stays in the room. When I leave my office, I close the door and walk away. The only other way it should engage my mind is in private devotional intercessory prayer for the person and their need. I don’t have an agenda of coercion for those I counsel, since in the end, I leave it up to the work of God between Him and that person. I respect the boundaries of those struggling through their crises trusting they, with the help of Scriptural teaching and the Spirit of God, will find their way and remain available and supportive. This is the objectivity in any kind of counseling and the respect of a person’s personal autonomy that is kept in a confidence that one should be in agreement with them about. 

And this is diametrically, scandalously the opposite of Gladstone’s “counseling ministry” when empowered by a “therapist” whose criminal duplicity has been prefaced by the shocking example of the “pastor.”


The other major extension of Gladstone’s “counsel” focused upon the personal rehabbing that was to be facilitated in their “Lazarus Rooms.” 

It initially started in 2014 out of a glaring need to assist those coming off the streets bound by drug and alcohol addictions to put these debilitating cravings behind them and each of Gladstone’s covenant houses were all expected to help underwrite these efforts. The process of assisting those struggling to detoxify from addictive substances would be laborious, intense and chaotic. To be free from these addicting influences that they had fallen prey to, the strugglers were charged to start their journey into sobriety by immediately stopping all usage of their chosen addictive substance and to weather the physical buffeting that their withdrawal from them would bring. There was no gradual easing into the struggle: each addicted man and women were to face their own individual purgatory of pain.

Each person would be housed in a special bedroom furnished and prepared for in the covenant house they were assigned to and a watch of house residents set over those who stayed in them. The physical impact of withdrawal from their chosen drug of abuse as the pain and mental torments began could last for hours and even days. Gladstone members monitored and supported their struggling wards in the best way that could be done for them. After this agony finally began to recede as their physical craving for their addiction subsided, the “real work” would begin through  Gladstone “counsel”, but the rooms served a distinct purpose in enabling the community to help addicts break their physiologic bondage to drugs and alcohol, so the “Lazarus” moniker, an allusion to the man who Jesus brought back to life out of a graveyard in John 11 is perhaps now more clearly understood. A person who was bound by addiction was given a new chance at new life through a stay in a “Lazarus Room” by getting clean of their habits. Such a radical process did indeed change many lives, some of whom finally got sober for the first time ever.

One anonymous former member remembers how the “Lazarus” ministry emerged in the community and how it began to morph into the image Zac and others wanted it to be:

At first there was no program, no commitment. It was an attempt to help people who needed to get off the streets.  .. All the elders were super on board but not at first: none of the elders lived in a house (where they realized) just how chaotic it was. And I think when they started to realize how crazy it was, to actually bring people into your house and detox and all the chaos that comes with that, I think that's when they realized, “this is gonna fall apart, this is gonna blow up in our face if we don't have someone full time managing this”  .. We (were) already taking care of our own house, we were bringing people in. All the other houses (looked) at us as kind of just like pioneers, because we were doing something so new and so different.

.. Initially, we were just trying to get them into a program after they detoxed .. to figure out another place or if they .. would want to stick around or whatever. But within a short amount of time, the elders realized that .. the main thing was to get people into the door to help them start detoxing and preaching the gospel to them and, you know, loving on them and, and stuff like that. I mean ..  the goal was just to get people in the door, so we could continue to evangelize them as they detox. The ones that made it through the detox .. (were on an ) individual basis, in whatever that person ended up. And whatever we thought that person needed to do, whatever that person thought they needed to do, (we put in) effort .. getting (them) connected to other programs to send people to .. Unless the person was kind of like a troublemaker and not really on board with what we were doing in the community, the automatic answer (was that), of course, they need to stick around and work through stuff like that.


.. By the time I left, a third of the community were Lazarus  people. We had 250 people come through five houses, and detox or attempt to detox. And, you know, out of the 250, you know, there was a couple of dozen who detoxed and decided to stick around the community and were there permanently. .. I would say that the shit really happened when things started to get really crazy as far as energy and controlling and stuff. They used the excuse of ‘well, we have these really vulnerable and mature drug addicts now. So we now we really need to put the pressure on, you know, as far as rules and expectations.’ Wow. (135)


The reveries of a former anonymous member who was a Lazarus Room participant provide a harrowing glimpse into what kind of “encouragement” that the recovering could expect, which was dubiously done for “their own good”:

They absolutely DO NOT allow ANY medication for an addict coming in to detox. They originally started by not even allowing ibuprofen or Tylenol, as they thought feeling the entire weight of the detox was important.  As far as prescriptions go, they took my anxiety medicine away as soon as I got there and told me we would try without it. Then when I ran away they filled my script and let me take it, while being monitored by house leadership .. I believe they tend to want to strip all of that away.

About 2 months after I had detoxed, they had a meeting saying ibuprofen and Tylenol were okay to give to people but nothing else. In one Lazarus house, they had a nurse living there (the house I was in) but no, they do not check your vitals or anything like that. She’s merely someone to check and make sure it’s not being dramatized by the person detoxing. otherwise, there were no medical supervisions.

I was actually put with someone who was detoxing from alcohol WHILE THEY WOULDN'T LET ME HAVE A PHONE and I was terrified she would start seizing or something dangerous due to her detox without a way to contact help.

The haphazard, arbitrary approach that Gladstone leaders  took in ensuring Lazarus Room and Gladstone members who took maintenance medications actually did so is another example of it’s abject failure to safeguard those who trusted them. They were often left alone unmonitored, as they endured the pains of withdrawal alone. Some were cut off from needed medications while others continued with taking their prescriptions unabated. It all depended upon the ruling of the covenant house leader where the Lazarus Room in them was located. It could be wildly different from place to place. 



Scott Morrison somberly noted that while many of these detox sessions took place after he left for a brief time in 2015 to return in 2017, the Lazarus concept of control by confinement was brutally simple and highly questionable:

some people it worked;  some people, they could leave if they wanted to, but they couldn't readily leave. They couldn't just grab their keys and their wallet, they’d have to ask to be let go. … It's pretty radical to detox  (where) they would lock up the person's keys and wallets and just leave them in that room to detox… You have somebody who's dependent upon heroin, locked up in a room without medical care. (137)

Being at that time one of the only people in Gladstone with any professional medical training, having been an Army combat medic Scott understood how potentially life threatening a person withdrawing from a drug or chemical dependence could be. Frequently in other recovery settings, addicts fighting their addictions were under prescription regimens issued by actual medical doctors, and many other organizations seeking to provide recovery services involving social detoxification made room for medical interventions by trained staff. But as the Lazarus Rooms were created not long after he left the community for the first time, he had nothing to do with whatever oversight that Gladstone set up for it. When he returned, he recognized immediately that the lack of medical monitoring that was going on was indeed a perilous situation.

Such concerns never stop those who rationalize their plain threat away in cultic organizations that don’t feel that rules apply to their conduct since their divine perspective is infallible. This arrogant presumption, drawn from the example of Zach’s past directives, emboldened them to take the gambles they did. Like many other questionable practices in Gladstone, they readily redefined the Lazarus efforts as mercy missions of spiritual heart transplantation and that the Rooms were intensive care wards where God’s deliverance was being accomplished. The exact number of Lazarus participants isn’t known, but it was easily in the hundreds.

And as always in Gladstone, the energy and passion that could be mustered to keep the Lazarus Rooms stocked, furnished and occupied was drawn directly from each house they were in, as well as the community itself. And then there came the fundraising burden that was added to the already stressed labor force of the community to raise even more income to fiancé the Rooms.

As one anonymous former member recalls, 

.. every person was needed in order for all those things to succeed. I mean .. we needed hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It was .. it was crazy how burned out people got in having to raise the amount of money that we had to raise .. between people's normal jobs and fundraising. So I mean people were working 80 hours a week. 

With this additional pressure came the loss of even more personal choice and time off from the Gladstone grind in a pattern that we’ve already become all too painfully aware through this expose’s detail

… then whenever anything personal did come up, it was flipped on its head. And you were made to feel guilty about your family and personal things. And that's where a lot of the manipulation and twisting on stuff comes in. Because they're not telling you to not spend time with their family. They're saying, “well, don't you believe that God has you here? Well, what God's doing here in the community is X, Y, and Z. So don't you want to be faithful to what God has you doing? Well, then you should be putting your time toward this. So I'm not telling you to not go spend time with your family. I'm telling you to be faithful to what God has put in front of you.” So that's the manipulation. Is the “need” really something God  put in front of me, or is it Zach wanting to go to Israel for the 14th time? And he needs $90,000 by next month? (138) 

As we have seen, this reductionary guilting was already a well used tool within Gladstone. The visages of sweating, puking, crying victims of addiction needing a redoubling of the community’s sacrificial giving was the blatantly coercive imagery set before them to resolve in their head. Such cognitive dissonance could only be resolved one way .. and it was no surprise that the money got raised and the family, friends and personal social well being of Gladstone members were once again put on the shelf, for the sake of their “real family.”

The counseling and Lazarus Room ministries were created to be a great enterprise set up to help people get free of their besetting personal struggles and addictions in a supportive environment. Its underlying agenda to use them as twin funnels for the recruitment of the many impressionable men and women sent their way, however, never quite got off the ground. For all of the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent and all of the incalculable loss of personal time given up for the cause,  most of those who were taken in from local Christian agencies and sent to their Rooms for personal deliverance stayed only a few days or weeks afterwards. The vast majority of those who were referred or sent to the Gladstone outreaches came, and only found the situations too oppressive. They didn’t become slaves to the elders seeking to rob them of their autonomy.
Their faculties of independent thinking remained intact and they were suspended in their encounters of  the strutting posturing of Zach and his leaders as they informed them that their indoctrination was divinely appointed.

The Sticklers confirmed this in a recent conversation we held with them about what they saw of Gladstone’s Lazarus efforts. It was their uneasy realization that even back when the Lazarus Rooms were being fully exploited. it was largely fruitless. There was some retention of individuals like Samantha and others but by and large, they couldn’t resist the pushback from most of the recovering addicts against Gladstone’s spiritual seductions. Those whose minds and hearts could not be captured, even if they sullenly endured a voluntary custody in the Rooms, speedily  departed from the church’s circles as soon as they got their keys and wallets again. They saw this occur again and again, as did others.

Gladstone’s attempt to turn the Lazarus Rooms, like their missionary partner hosting, into a source of newer and more malleable recruits quietly wound down over the years and may be still continuing in some degree. But the Gladstone grind, its' agenda of blatant manipulation of people they thought they could hoodwink, still treads onward.




(108) “Gladstone Community and Our Involvement.” Unpublished document by Ernie and June Stickler, undated

(109) ibid

(110) ibid

(111) “Initial things we noticed that began to draw concern about Gladstone.” Unpublished document by Ernie and June Stickler, undated

(112) ibid

(113) ibid

(114) ibid

(115) ibid

(116) ibid

(117), July 30, 2014

(118) Stickler, ibid

(119) ibid

(120) Christine Hilton, interview 2022



(123) Anonymous ex-member 5 . The “BITE model” alluded to by this perceptive individual is a reference to a well qualified and observable perspective on cultic mind control first formulated by ex-cult member and therapist Steven Hassan to help explain the process in which behavior is changed by the control of thinking.

In seeking understanding of how Gladstone achieves their behavioral transformation - apart from any real supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit - this Mexican Christian through personal reading discovered that Hassan’s BITE model so well described it. How Gladstone ensnared the hearts and minds of its followers, and those they saw, was by their usage of a documentably verifiable pattern of social conditioning replicated in Gladstone’s daily life and this was described using Hassan’s BITE acronym as described here -


(125) “Psychiatric Disorders,” Community document, n.d. p. 4-5

(126) ibid, p. 31

(127) ibid, p. 31

(128) Scott Morrison, interview, 2022


(130) http://www,


(132) Samantha, interview, 2022

(133) Anonymous ex-member 6.

(134) Samantha, ibid

(135) Anonymous ex-member 7

(136) Anonymous ex-member 8 

(137) Morrison, ibid

(138) Anonymous ex-member 6, ibid

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