Brother Trickster:

The Cultism of Zac Kijinski's Gladstone Neverland Part 5 of 6


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

Zac The Puppetmaster With A Playstation
Odd things happen to all of us on our way through life

without our noticing for a time that they have happened.

The most incriminating abomination of the Gladstone/Madison movement in Cincinnati has been it’s pathologically foundational devotion to deception and manipulation.

The Christian faith is devoted not just to the redemptive work of God in Christ by the Spirit within the individual but also the restorative and exhortational dimensions of a life of community based upon the highest
truth and devotion to the ethics it inspires. It is this social dimension which Zac and his band of elders - like all other cults and abusive communities - have so readily and willingly exploited in the cruelest of fashion and which is its' most well hidden of secrets.

We’ve already touched on how exquisitely the “church” leadership can dress up its whips and chains to appear entirely beneficial and even necessary. Throughout our almost 2 years of research into Zac’s Neverland, we’ve heard of innumerable Lost Boys and Girls under his absolute control who ceased being human beings long ago to him. They have been morphed into miniature action figures he deploys in the board gaming of his own fantasy world where he is both god and hero. As needed, he befriends them with his disarming aplomb when his narcissist temperament requires human stimulation. This has been the one horrific constant throughout our time of sharing with family and friends as well as ex members of the movement and we will review just a few of the more egregious examples of this confusion and abuse Zac has imposed there, hidden in plain sight. Cults dehumanize and objectify their slaves and the Gladstone/Madison community is no exception.

We’ve mentioned that the insincere and manipulative process called “love bombing” is one of the hallmarks of any cult recruitment and former member Scott Morrison as well as another former targeted recruit Rebecca both saw it up close and very personally. Their parallels of encounter are striking case studies how the paradigm of coercion that the church applied could differ so widely. Struggling with deep inner trauma and spiritual yearnings, Scott’s life was intersected by Gladstone members at a local gym who invited him to their Bible study. Once he went, he was blown away by the jolt of attentive affirmation he received:

People would just come out of their way to talk to me and come out of their way to tell me how much that they loved and cared for me and going out of their way to pray with me. And it was unlike anything I'd experienced before in my life. .. I was there every Thursday night. And on the weekends, I would sleep on a couch to be with these people.  And I was thinking, you know, I could really, you know, help these people out. You have people that are coming in off the streets that had nowhere else to go basically .. and they received the same love bombing that I received. (173) 

Rebecca’s experience was a mirror image of Scott’s though in an inverse manner. She initially went to the Gladstone study at the request of an overzealous family member who thought she needed their apostolic presence in her troubled life, even if she wasn’t particularly looking for it. Out of curiosity, upon arrival she faced Gladstone’s coercive power as it ruthlessly sought to force it’s society into her life:

So we're sitting in this first church service and all of a sudden two young guys tap us on the shoulder. And that was Sebastian and Brian. So they go, we felt really led to speak to you today. We can sense there's something going on with you. And we wanted to invite you to dinner. .. It's almost crazy to look back at it. Now it feels like a bad infomercial. There was no genuine conversation really going on, because I was just being approached with “This is what being here has done for me.” “This is why I'm here.” “And I'm so happy here.” “You  just can't believe how happy I am here.” “I don't ever even think about what my life used to be like.” They were like one person in different bodies. It seemed like everybody in the whole community was just focused on us the whole time we were there. (174) 


This family member let slip that Rebecca was the beneficiary to a sizable trust fund.

I'm sure they came up with some reason for that to be relevant. .. So a member of the community had started reaching out to my family member who I was living with at the time, and they were just talking about me and my situation. I barely knew this person worked at Gladstone. They were sharing what they thought was wrong with me and what I could do I mean .. It was all you know, stuff about taking away all of the connections I had with anything else, taking away my phone, at one point taking my door off my bedroom doorway was discussed. They're trying to tell this person that this is a life or death situation, like I could die if I didn't do this. I felt like I knew what I was doing, I was going to church. I was going to Gladstone, you know. and I was just so confused. I felt like I was trying to do everything right. But I didn't want to move in there. And I wasn't ready to make a commitment. (175)

While Rebecca experienced one of the most ruthless campaigns of love-bombing I’ve ever heard of in my 40 years of countercult activism (it was dragged out over several months), Scott readily gave in to the answers to every question and the supply to every longing he’d ever had which the group offered. While she steadfastly resisted their cajoling to sign up,  he readily agreed to join the community. He signed the covenants for common purse and housing and saw his thousands of dollars worth of house goods, furniture, weights and large screen televisions offered up to the community for their usage as well as his substantial income:

I was probably one of the more successful as far as finances went. I was pulling in a little over 100k a year working for Mercy Hospital doing oncology computer programming. (When offered through the common purse) I kind of justified the fact that I already gave Gladstone $300,000. .. I was like, what's the church doing with this money? I have no idea what they're doing with this money.  (176) 

If a recruit gives any indication of having means of any sort, no shortage of special efforts will be expended to make the entire Gladstone community a massive source of recruitment. That’s another grim certainty of life in the Gladstone/Madison cult, that an “all hands on deck” call will go out to make everyone a part of the machinery of coercion. Both Scott and Rebecca became the projects for the group’s communal attempts to ensnare them for that very reason. They weren’t the first ones to experience this and they haven’t been the last.

The cult elders wanted Scott to relinquish his car for their own usage and didn’t care about his need to have his own transportation. Upon being criticized during an argument with Gladstone leadership over whether he could go visit his seriously ill mother,  Scott began to debate leaving but now had a serious problem:

.. I was asked to give my car to the community by one of the elders. And it seemed like it was like if I chose the other way then that wouldn’t be obeying God. The idea behind me signing over my car to become a community car was that I no longer would have ownership. And I could not use it when I needed to use it right there.  .. I left Thanksgiving 2015.  My mom had been diagnosed with cancer. I wanted to go see her for Thanksgiving. And I left to go home .. and they called me 20 minutes down the road and asked why I didn't ask permission to leave.(177) 

In like manner, Rebecca was confronted with a challenge presented to her by two Gladstone members who dutifully warned her in drastic terms that her sense of sardonic humor had to be repented of and that it was a behavior that they were determined to curb within her:

I'll never forget this one time I was with someone I knew. And we were laughing like one of us made a sarcastic joke and two of the members go. “You'll stop doing that. You won't be like that forever.”  .. They didn't like sarcasm. And (while) I forgot what they said about sarcasm, it was something about it being negative and not of God. (178)

The arrogantly meddlesome interference by Gladstone members in the relationships they impose upon recruits is the bitter fruit of Zac’s sowing, a discipling energized not by love but by demonizing. This well-hidden curricula of manipulation he imposed first upon his elders simply flows down from them into the body politic of the community following his pattern. It is the behavior of hunters setting traps that instill fear in their targets, not believers offering faith to others who may not actually be errant, except that they commit the sin of independent thought and action. It’s the replication of a depravity within Zac he freely resorts to whenever “the spirit” moves him and which he enthusiastically recommends the elders there to also embrace.


This has sadly resulted in an antichristian spoiling of the hearts and minds of young Christians who have “caught” from the influence of their disciplers that they have a special supernatural ability to read the lifestyle of another and are fully authorized by a divine commission to call out their “sin” or risk hellfire and damnation. They have become just as bellicose and judgmental as their leaders are. Others might be nicer and just insist that if they really love God, and others, they will just obey and do X or not do Y. Regardless, this manipulative micromanagement that cajoles, pleads or threatens to this day is the mark of life in the Gladstone/Madison hothouse.

This bitter harvest reaped daily by all has cost so many in ways beyond all telling as we’ve been observing. It has established a toxic culture within the “church” which has warped and damaged so many there that Gladstone/Madison members are actually the walking wounded, blind members led by blind leaders. An anonymous member is spot on about this when they observed this:


The thing that makes the control so cunning and powerful is the "subtle" manipulation that fuels the control. Some are certainly told  explicitly that they cannot visit their family either at all or very often. But most of it is implied. Implied through teachings, passive aggressive comments by leadership, and a barrage of suspecting questions when someone brings up their family.

And of course there's the "unofficial" score keeping of who is most dedicated to Jesus and Gladstone and this makes them among the spiritually elite. All of that  pressure and manipulation is too much for most to handle so they either abandon outside relationships or do the bare minimum. So whenever there is ever any sort of "change" it is easy for Zak to say, "Well I never said you couldn't (fill in the blank)...." The manipulation continues and Zak is in the clear. It's one of Zak's best moves out of his playbook and is very different from repentance.

The depth of abusive structure embedded in Gladstone community life is without question one of the existential realities so many have accepted as normal and as the teeth of a trap they cannot escape. With Zak as the prime example of snarkitude, it goes on with little to no filter whatsoever.  The sharp, critical and arrogant rebuke of Zac, the elders and the house leaders is delivered as needed in the 24/7 micromanagement of all life within community culture. It was often entirely arbitrary and capricious as Samantha recalled:

I remember going on a trip, we went to the Bible Museum, it was about 15 of us. And I was one of those people that got to go. And Zach went, Zach goes on every trip to every country, every place he gets to go. I remember me and one of the guys went to go get a Mountain Dew out of the fridge. And the community has a really strict culture with food - you can't drink two sodas in a day, as if suddenly you're idolizing soda. Like it's very sensitive to those things. So we went to get a soda; I think it was kind of later in the evening. And Zach looked at us both and said “No, put it back.” And I was like “what?” And he was like, “put it back right now.” And I looked at the other guy, his name was Josh and kind of said like," okay,” and we both put them back in the fridge. And I remember I was shaking. I didn't understand what I did wrong. And that's not a sin issue. That's a soda. 

So that's just like, that was just one small moment. I remember the next day on that same trip. It was kind of chilly outside, but I didn't want to wear a jacket. And Zach told me I had to wear a jacket. And I was like, “Oh, I'm not cold though. I'm okay.” He's like, “go put a jacket on right now, go back inside.” And I had to go do it. And I had no choice in the matter. And it was just bizarre. .. it felt like an abusive father. I think it's kind of the energy it gave me. That's like how it felt and like what in the world is happening? Like, I just never had that interaction with him. And that would have been in 2019.(180)

This bizarre lockdown over their lifestyle choices, their finances and property in addition to a never-ending submission to their covenants they agreed to follow created a potent control of their information and a shutdown of their freedom of choice. With this kind of absolutism, the power of cultic mind control that scrambles the identities and mindset of the average member helps pacify and manage them by controlling behavior by the control of their very thoughts.

With the Work Gospel enforced by the Work Contract stipulating ruthlessly regimented daily schedules as their overriding marching orders, the Gladstone/Madison membership are actually a slave labor force cut off from the outside world, even if they can freely come and go from their settings, because of the driven scheduling. An ongoing disconnection from family and outside relationships is maintained, further isolating them from any objective third party source of input. Many a parent who came forward to be interviewed about their sons and daughters’ involvement in the Gladstone/Madison cult cannot go on public record because of the very real probability that if they were to do so, their children would cut them completely off.

In this manner, many families have labored under the exquisitely intentional social distancing imposed by these cultic influences which has divided parents from children and friends from intimates - to be identified is to risk the terror of absolute rejection from them. And even personal relationships within Gladstone can, in an instant, be turned into sources of surveillance that provide human intelligence back to elders on the perceived struggles or doubts of others. Parents of one well known Gladstone/Madison member have plaintively related how their own compassion and gentle manner with the group for the sake of the wellbeing of their child there has actually empowered their recruiting efforts in so many ways. As uplifted this individual has become in their social position there, it has led them to openly despair of ever engaging the member due to all of the relational conditioning they have been a part of.

Perhaps one of the most haunting of cult-induced traumatic experiences experienced by those who left the Gladstone/Madison cult is their struggle with the memories of abuse doled out by Zac and others which they could not resist or stop. They became eyewitnesses to a toxic spirituality weaponized into a cruelly perversion of the holy into the hellish.  To even imagine abusive behavior and verbiage proceeding from people claiming to be holy and redeemed believers of Jesus filled with his divine love is beyond the capacity of most of those hoodwinked by their gentle visages and seemingly mild manners - especially the Christian pastors and ministry leaders they so easily deceived, who had
wanted to believe they were who they appeared to be. But the evidence has been clear that for years this is the legacy of Gladstone/Madison for which they will be most remembered.

It’s been my observation after a lifetime of working with them that brutalized victims of cultism are always left in the same devastated mindset as the child recipients of actual physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Whether violated spiritually or emotionally by deviant adults, both children and cult members are wounded in a way they cannot articulate or ever fully give voice to. The confusion and fear instilled by the sensation, memory and utter helplessness before heartless authority figures is the same and truly horrific to behold. From my high school athlete buddy who gave up a path to the Olympics to become a dull eyed Jehovah’s Witness publisher at my door to the slack faced recollection of an ex-Xenos member whose illicit sex life was disciplinarily dissected in a public meeting of women, the face of utterly primal violation and terror in a victim of cult brutalization is a sight and spectacle never easily seen or ever forgotten.

Both populaces come away with tormenting memories and a personal internalizing of these horrors that stores up phobias, outrages and terrors deep within them. And their individual expression of how this trauma manifests in their lives runs the gamut of human dysfunction: they expend a vast amount of personal energy weariedly trying to out-run, cover up or mediate through every coping mechanism they can which their torturous memories drive them to seek. Years of therapy and personally imposed self help disciplines ranging have helped blunt the pain, but the shadows of their devastated souls are long, dark and looming influences they daily grapple with. This is the toxic stuff that fuels death wishes, mental illness and so many personal crises that all too often lead people to suicidal ideation .. and it’s achievement. 

There is nothing more haunting than to hear a cult victim explicitly testify in a remote voice and tearless gaze to what they were reduced to as they did as they were told and yet were still found wanting. My heart has been continually broken for decades hearing the confessionals of calamity from so many shattered victims of cultism in attempts to understand their plight. In many ways, it has been personally traumatizing to hear and process. But my struggle with the emotional, spiritual and psychological weight of bearing their witness is absolutely nothing compared to the excruciating testimony cult victims offer to the devastation in their lives. The hidden tears you can sense dancing within their shattered gaze never quite break free as their feet tap or their fingers writhe. And the evocative word “broken” barely begins to provide any concise understanding of the utter shattering of mind, will and hope that a cult member endures - and the victims of Gladstone/Madison are no exception.

The private inner crisis management they intuitively and automatically resort to as they walk these wildernesses is beyond belief. And yet, it is fearfully and tragically quite believable when it is seen again and again .. and again. In a cult, learning how to mask one’s crushed inner spirit is a survival skill, and Zak Kijinski is just one of the vicious demagogues of our day whose narcissistic ruthlessness bids Gladstone/Madison members to embrace such a critical inner self defense. 

And such pain is inflicted in the name of Jesus Christ by scamsters who delight in being called servants of God, with all the cultural perks this brings in the bloat of Christendom out among the children of Adam.

Kijinski’s domineering presence in Gladstone/Madison regularly deploys endless bombardment of Scripture twisted out of context as the means to indoctrinate and mesmerize the membership there. He weaponizes scriptural mandates about sacrifice and commitment as Biblical bludgeons to their freedom of conscience, to compel them to believe that a select menu of Scriptural principles are actually divine instructions for them to obey Him explicitly, immediately and cheerfully. Testimony after testimony to this has been heard by myself and others. Out of his judgmentalism, Zac sloppily associates someone’s weakness or failing to a verse of Scripture that he says reveals God’s wrath upon them as well as a Christless eternity of wailing in hellfire’s torments. And they believe him. They take his shrill egotist’s excoriation as the all knowing voice of furious divinity in a shamefaced humility and accept as gospel their publicly rendered devaluation.  This ungodly lordship these thirtysomethings wield over those who submit to them runs so deep with a belittling that is impossible to overstate.

In what is truly a testimony to the power of deceptive charisma, and despite their terror of him, Zac’s scruffy visage to this day stirs many of Gladstone/Madison’s members to seek his attention and approval of their labor. Many young women there are particularly drawn to his warped authority and seek him out to submit to it on a regular basis there. It’s not his bed or his right hand they desire, but something far more humanly piteous:  just his positive regard, a flash of approval or at least recognition of their presence around his own. The Lost Boys and Girls seeking Peter Pan’s boisterous approval and risking his pirate’s sword thrusts.

(Zac) always made it seem like if you needed it, his office was right there. I know a lot of different women would go to him for counsel. …  And you know that he knows everything about everybody …  he has a lot of knowledge. And he uses it whenever he wants to. He can use it to gossip if he wants to. But if he's doing it, it doesn't seem so wrong.  … There's things that he would say at times where I knew if I did it, it would be wrong. I would have gotten rebuked or corrected. (181)

In his classically textbook example of narcissistic temperament, Zac’s trigger to extreme behavior was pulled when things didn’t go his way in his interactions with others.  He was so used to being socially and personally dominant over a situation he was manipulating to his end, a behavior well modeled to his leadership team, that when someone crossed his purposes, his attitude became quite ugly, just as it had been seen since his childhood days:

There was a time that he had a conversation with me when I was working on moving out on my own again.  My conversations with Zac took a drastic turn as I asked him about his thoughts about me getting my own place, as a therapist had suggested it for my mental health. His demeanor and tone of voice immediately changed. Prior to this, he had been pleasant, patient in conversation with me. I had been going through a mental breakdown and he had been with me several times mid-panic attack, etc. and had been extremely patient and helpful.

But this time he had a nasty look on his face and began slinging rhetoric about who he thought I'd become (all negative), how I would suffer by leaving the community. He even wrote me a letter pleading with me to stay. He accused me of not actually wanting his opinion and guidance and already having made a decision.

It was the change in facial expression and tone of voice that really put me on edge. I felt like I was talking to a whole different person. It was unpredictable. And most of them had short fuses/tempers.

I have an email Zak wrote me from all of the elders when I left. I had asked them to send an email out to everyone detailing my reasons for leaving and welcoming others to stay in contact. They replied they would not be doing that. (182) 

It was this kind of childish tempest as modeled by Zac that was elevated to be the boilerplate template that all community “counsel" should take, a brusque direction that took all kinds of individual expression among the leadership. One well known leader of women’s ministries within Gladstone/Madison was noted by ex-members for her calculatedly cruel treatment of the women under her sphere of influence, which in turn was seen as a manifestation of how shabbily Zac treated her (183). Her exceptionally ruthless humiliation she imposed upon Gladstone/Madison women was seen as a manifestation of the abusive direction which Kijinski would exert upon her daily life, moment to moment. And along with all of the berating came the leader’s free utilization of their tech of choice for further amplification and expression of their shaming dispositions. The tools they would also resort to were familiar enough such as texting, emails and messages to convey each change of direction, as well as personal influence face to face ... or house to house. The pressure was unrelenting, 24/7 and pervasive - members worked, bathed, ate and socialized within this manipulative miasma as a normal part of “Christian” life.

In essence, Zac and his cheerful band of loved and feared leadership became tyrants and cyber bullies and extended their serial abuse into social media that augmented their control. From cajoling people to joining the movement with the flattery of lovey-dub love bombing to a critical verbal assault for failing to do something, the tools would be deployed anywhere for anything. Gladstone members would never know what to expect when looking into the youthfully twinkling expressions which Zak and the elders would set in their visages, whether the soothing invitation to fellowship over joe in a Gladstone kitchen or the searing glare of a scheduled haranguing after Bible study. One Reddit report related how a certain elder caught up with non Gladstone/Madison visitors outside the cult’s coffeehouse, and, in the broad daylight of public, screamed abuse at them for some issue and warned them never to return to it or any other Gladstone/Madison property (184). Any example of a public railing by a cult’s leader that surfaces outside the four walls of a cult environment are moments that should be noted. When the mask slips and sanitizing of an uncuratable situation can’t be done, volumes are spoken about the “transformation” it really engages. It’s certainly involving a spirit that is human, not Holy.

Not surprisingly, this calculated and dehumanizing objectification of the Gladstone/Madison members extends directly into their local community workforce. The routine demanded by the Work Gospel of Zac essentially requires their passive and mute submission to a regimented life of drones driven to extended labor for their hive, even as he paints his toy soldiers to sell on eBay and games all night on his VPN in his Gladstone home. The elders and house leaders turn blind eyes to the mental, spiritual and physical suffering many endured as they worked day in and day out and told to grin and bear it for “the Kingdom.” This cold pragmatism greased the razor edged wheels of the Gladstone/Madison social and industrial complexes.

Scott Morrison’s combat medic training was pressed into one vividly remembered instance where a work crew of young men in the church contracted MRSA infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The loss of productivity and the cost of actual clinical medical care was unacceptable to the leadership and Scott was compelled to help medicate with over the counter remedies as well as an actual draining of the skin pustules of men suffering with this serious malady which left them with perilous health threats. One Gladstone/Madison man’s infection became so severe in its spread that it required a trip to an emergency room (185)   


Other accidents that occurred among the several Gladstone/Madison businesses were far more visible, such as the break down of equipment that resulted in someone getting injured on the job, or the requiring of people to use power tools who weren’t trained in their usage, thus risking further injury and violating Federal OSHA standards by not reporting them as mandated by Federal statute (186). Many Gladstone workers would work on roofs, for example, without safety harnesses which the business tool rooms had, but never bothered to use. Such utilitarian concerns, after all, could have led to something like accountability for a community used to living above the law and doing as it pleases. Instead it led to other mishaps and incidents that went unreported and unaccounted for by the community to any regulatory body.

Jeremiah Zoltani recalls cleaning the gutters of community  houses out without wearing a safety harness, and thinking that “being young, I just told myself ‘you’ll be fine. Just be careful.”  Unfortunately, a moment of truth arrived while he was cutting concrete one day on the job: upon feeling a pop in his lower back, a terrific wave of pain seared into him, an agony so severe he could barely walk. This was an injury incurred on the job, but Jeremiah was never sent to get medical care, His “leadership” just gave him a back brace and told to show up to work as if nothing happened. “They belittled the injury and my pain and basically told me to pray about it.”   .. I now have persistent pain in  my lower back and have been diagnosed with sciatica.” (187)

Christina remembers the horrible suffering of a young woman in the community who was a victim of a gang rape so violent that she had suffered not only the soul shattering trauma of sexual violence but severe physical damage to her body which a colonoscopy confirmed.  Referred to Gladstone/Madison by some church or individual in their solicitous network of Christian churches and ministries, it was learned that she required ongoing and serious medical care as well as medications to keep the pain in check. The ever thrifty Gladstone leadership made sure these costs would be curbed and the female leader in charge of custody of the medications the community needed to supply them was the willing arbiter of their direction: “She ended up locking up the stomach medications and a non prescription one, because she was pissed and wouldn't let her have it, unless she asked for it once a day. “ (188)


This was the same woman who was told by one of the elders that “ ‘well, you were on heroin when you were getting raped, and they were on heroin when they did it so it's a wash.’ ”  This hideous brutality, the leader had judged, should magically cancel out the injurious personal effects of the attack on her and she just needed to get over it (189). The spiritual, mental, and physiological agony that this poor woman suffered was turned into a 2-year torture chamber within the Gladstone's community in which she was viewed as damaged goods and more of a nuisance than anything else.

These living nightmares of pain-filled lives in the Kingdom of Zac are prime examples of what kind of so-called "ministry" one would behold at Gladstone/Madison. This “mercy” was excruciatingly meted out by people who wore Francis of Assisi masks but who actually operated like incarnate Torquemadas overseeing dungeons of an Inquisition.

The monstrous insensitivity of these examples alone speak for themselves. The community’s spin doctor elders will certainly deny these things happened. And that is to be expected, for, as one writer has noted about the actual reality behind the Peter Pan persona, they cannot be expected to recognize any of the rank and file membership as anything other than just props in a Saturday matinee performance of some dubious stage play Zac organizes - in the same way J.M. Barrie characterized his Pan trickstering:

Barrie would never care to look at Peter from the perspective of a Lost Boy, because he didn’t create the Lost Boys to be characters with their own perspectives. He created them to be objects in a game. That’s how both book and play treat them. It’s also how Peter treats them, because Peter is a child.

The ability to think of other people as people, and not just as objects in the game of your life, is a characteristic of adulthood. For Peter the eternal child, thinking of other people as people is utterly impossible, and both book and play make that abundantly clear: Peter, who represents youth, is “gay and innocent and heartless,” and no one truly matters to him beyond himself. (190)

That is truly the Zac we have come to know here in this expose, as testified to by so very many people throughout the years.

You cannot make this stuff up: as a Christian ministry dedicated to telling the truth about the lies of our day, we have no such agenda. We’ve chosen our words carefully and intentionally about the nature of this alleged “elder” of the Christian faith. Zac is who he is and none of his affective ad print, adoring band of disciples or any of his winsome charm can change his corrupt character or dismiss a history of calloused and vicious temper. Only Christ can change human nature and Zak is content with keeping Him on the shelf of his dark and depraved life.

                                           Knocking On Neverland’s Doors: When Reality Bites 

             The difference between him and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was     

                  make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing.

Life continued on for the cult as the final years of the second decade of the 2000’s wound down. The new sources of income by entrepreneurial initiatives became a great source of focus for the community’s industry, keeping them busy, preoccupied and productive in their Madison Community Church rebranding.  Illan’s Chocolates was incorporated under Cebastian Hilton’s agency, with Zak and the elders ever in the wings, in 2018 stemming from his friendship made with Israeli entrepreneur Ilan and Merav Rosenblit (“Cebastian understood the unique quality and potential of raw chocolate. .. and sparked a partnership that feels like family.”) (191)  As 2019 arrived, the preparation for the opening of The Madison Place (TMP) coffee house on Plainville Road in Cincinnati arose to a fever pitch. It was going to be the most ambitious for-profit business enterprise they would launch. 
In the meantime, the evangelists of the community still plunged into the nights to herald people on the streets, fund raising drives for the missions they were committed to supporting continued, and the communal life steered by Zac’s smothering micromanagement continued. And the never ending “suggestions” for members’ sacrificial living and giving to raise offerings for the community’s subsidizing of a variety of projects only increased.  It was business as usual and the slaves continued to shovel the coal down in the boiler rooms of the Gladstone/Madison liner, trusting the helm was being directed by God’s Spirit manifesting in the mighty men of Zac and the elders.
But even in the eternal Elysium of Zac’s Gladstone Neverland, the blazing shadows of mortality began to insinuate themselves into the community’s black light that its existence radiated. Change was afoot that they could not easily counter without great cost as Zac and his elders were about to discover as storms both perfect and imperfect began to rock them all.
One of these tempests would occasionally flare up during the Thursday night Bible fellowship at the Madison Place church when the entire community gathered there. The slow trickle of people breaking away from the cult became a gush more often on these evenings then ever before. They were community member whose disillusionment with the deception of their existence could no longer be borne. And they would choose to vote on their continued participation with the community by moving out of it that night, becoming walkaways usually during Thursday evenings. It was when different men and women would somehow arrange to gather their personal effects and just leave without having to see anyone since they were in the community meetings. It was easier that way.
They would often forfeit their personal belongings and have to get their financial connections with Gladstone/Madison severed by some long and drawn out dialogues with them, but they left so much behind in their personal flight out of the Gladstone/Madison compounds. These individuals regarded their material and personal ties to the community as expendable and departed anyway. People would turn up with trucks and cars outside community properties to pick up their numbed friends or family members and get out. 
Scott Morrison remembers leaving with his car and a few things but left much of his own furniture. Among his possessions was a pretty substantial cache of alcohol (which he’d accumulated secretly while fighting his own battle with it) which, he found out to his surprise, was readily absorbed into the community’s storage space:

I had an alcohol or liquor cabinet that when they moved me out, they said, “we're not going to throw these out. We'll put them in our storage stuff in the basement (to) use it for bartering when the end of the world comes.” They were going to use alcohol for bartering. I don't know if they used it for bartering or private parties. But there was a lot of liquor! (192)

Citing an apparent belief in a post apocalyptic world that the end-time warriors of Gladstone/Madison would to scrap their way through, the Gladstone leaders felt a certain Biblical justification for storing and then using hard liquor as a haggling tool with those outside the community in an apocalyptic yet immediate future for supposedly non-alcoholic resources like food. This certainly would be another excellent spiritual adventure, another quest scenario Zac would envision. It was determined that in toe to toe encounters with the pagan denizens outside their community, in a world of the “End Times”, their subsistence struggle for survival might rely upon how much food or ammunition their Hennessy or Don Q might get them.

Such a speculation is what peppered the judgment of Gladstone/Madison leaders .. remember that the angst over the “end times” was well implanted in Gladstone by Zac and other leaders and was an impulse that served them well, as in this case. Perhaps the memory of a smooth burning draw of fine whiskey helped. One wonders how much of the booze remains today and if Gladstone/Madison denizens actually might have gone on a bender of sorts with Scott’s property. It just wouldn’t surprise us if all of that liquid purchasing power was misplaced somehow.

Predictably, Scott and all other defectors were socially qualified among the membership as being spiritual losers who were mentally unstable and who were bound by a spiritual infatuation with carnal worldliness. Since the community defections were niggling reminders of just how much of a charade the cultic “community” really was, it was a standard operating procedure to demonize those who left. Maintaining the polarizing “us versus them” mindset in a cult group is vital to sustaining its cohesion when challenged by the undeniable reality of those who became walkaways, not castaways. Such attrition was, of course, the reaction of spiritual losers!


When 2020 arrived, so did the arrival of the great COVID 19 pandemic that globally shook all humanity. Even as the world masked up, socially distanced and saw all human life shaken to its foundations by the silent affliction of viral pestilence, the Gladstone/Madison community did its best to keep running. There’s so much that could be said about the response of Zac and the elders to the crushing wave of public health peril that COVID 19 brought to their own community, but we don’t have the time for it. The closing in of the world due to the public health crisis that was  pushing back upon their public activity was a profound one.
We can, however, say that the watchful financial bean counters within the cult did everything they could to take advantage of the financial aid set up by Federal response to the economic crush of the plague. Everyone within the community readily signed up for the first two rounds of “Economic Impact” stimulus checks which were duly signed over by each of those who applied and received them directly into the common purse account. And payroll relief initiatives that provided tax credits and other benefits directly to businesses that were impacted by COVID 19 were extended to the business units of Gladstone/Madison as they readily applied for them. 

They missed no opportunity to seek whatever advantage they could - just as anyone else might - and they managed to rake in a tidy bit of cashflow just from the stimulus checks alone. The first round in 2020 could go as high as $1800, with $1400 issued the following year in 2021. With the total amount of assistance being $2200 per person, and the membership being right at about 100 or more adult aged taxpayers, you can do the math and see that the Gladstone common purse coffers had a pleasant surplus that year and into 2021.

It was perhaps this unexpected 2020 IRS bonanza that provided for the cult a burst of financial aid that enabled them to complete the Madison Place coffeehouse, which had been a hardware store at one time. On September 5, 2020, it opened, originally incorporated under Nathan Standeford in 2016. Another Gladstone business, Ilan’s Raw Chocolates, had been installed in the basement of the place complete with brand new, shining commercial kitchen fixtures and layout and much of it found a home in the refrigerated cases of the Madison Place displays. 

The pandemic had become a cash cow for the Gladstone/Madison cult, especially their coffeehouse. Tastefully decorated after a painstaking remodel, it opened up to a wildly enthusiastic local reception that was drawn by its prime location in the region and by the fact that there were still scores of people largely clueless about the dark side of the business ownership. Few knew an abusive cult was being benefited by their patronage, and to this day probably fewer even care, especially when chocolate and wine are so deftly served up in a cool urban ambience, as well as yummy paninis and lattes deftly served at a church’s business meeting held there.

And the Gladstone/Madison “church”, for all of its posturing as a “community” institution, continued to build more community tension between itself and those around it. How they toxically projected in public and private the control-freak vibe Zac had conditioned them to submit to for years became more visible and displayed to what extent his twisted indoctrination would go in seeking domination wherever he could leverage it.
For years since the Bible study apartment days, aggrieved parents, friends and even spiritual mentors of some of those who joined Gladstone would seek to approach and dialogue with Zak and the elders concerning how they’d been cut off by them. They’d only find the elders to talk to, since Zak always hid himself when parents came around and confrontations came. With a group conditioned to defend and deflect itself when directly confronted, he didn’t need to be actually there as one Reddit poster from the neighborhood chillingly reported:

Without going into a ton of details, what I saw was someone attempting to leave the group, they had their belongings packed and (I assume) someone from outside the group to drive them. Ultimately the person attempting to leave was talked out of it by other members. Those same members sat on the porch watching the non group member until they drove away. The whole thing went on for 1.5 - 2 hours and was so disturbing to see.

It reminded me of that show
Escaping Polygamy, except with less fanfare. Anyway, the person that was trying to leave seems fine when I see them in the neighborhood, but groups like this are all about optics, so who knows. I know it’s technically their choice to be in the group or not, but when you have half of your “church” on the lawn watching you try and leave, that makes it pretty hard to actually leave. (193)

This disturbingly occurred enough that it became a point of pride among the elders over who would respond most effectively to a weeping mother or an angry brother who weren’t allowed to see a Gladstone-enslaved family member there. And inevitably the community itself would involve themselves to say and do all they could to engage the upset visitors. They’d smugly quote Bible verses about preference of godly relationships versus family ones and kept their loved always working somewhere away from the confrontation, serving notice to them about how they were doing the work of God and couldn’t be disturbed - the same dodge Zac would take. (194) 

Not all families would be gulled that easily and would fight back but often fruitlessly. Scott Morrison remembers how the family of one member who was moving out of their home to go live in the community slashed the young woman’s car tires to prevent her travel back.  Several women who drove out to pick her up anyway had him tag along to provide, as he called it, “muscle” as their bodyguard. The Gladstone members had called the police to press charges on the young woman’s behalf and required Scott’s solid, bodybuilder presence to keep the family away as they took custody of her.  “They bought me up there to like kind of stand ground to keep the argument at bay and I just thought to myself ‘what's going on here? I thought we were doing church. How has this become so extreme that I have to be pulled along as a bodyguard to go pick somebody up?’” (195)

During those same years, when Gladstone members did finally navigate the Byzantine regulations that the leadership put upon their authorization for time off to go visit family members, they would be authorized to leave but only if they were accompanied by a Gladstone elder or leader. It was a bizarre  demand for families to give into which their loved one’s leadership would require of them. They literally had to make room in their own private lives for a church authority figure to monitor the Gladstone member, but this was the cost they’d have to pay - an intrusive extension of the same kind of control that Gladstone required of its members. It was the same kind of practice that Gladstone members sent for professional counseling to David Barr in Cincinnati were used to as we’ve previously read. There was no difference whatsoever here between the whip or the paddle.

And the Gladstone member would have to pay for the expenses, upkeep and board for their leader while they sat in on their family time, never leaving them alone, in the same kind of manner that a Mormon missionary duo treats one another in their own two year missionary tours. These Latter Day Saint “elders” provide a level of personal surveillance over one another at all times that was the same as that provided by the Gladstone chaperones to “cover” their charges. On one occasion, a parent tried to engage the Gladstone leader who was present among them about why they needed to be there:

I just sort of asked him like, “can you tell us the reason for the chaperone all the time, because X  can't explain it.” His only explanation was that he has a person with him for accountability. And I sort of gave him the out by asking “so is it because you think X will end up in jail or somewhere else worse?” And I shouldn't have given the answer, I should have listened to his answer. But he just sort of “Yeah, that's it.” (196)

This repugnant personal violation was a fact of life for those in Gladstone who retained enough inner autonomy to want to see their family, but knew how it was going to be a community controlled event. It was an effective way by Gladstone leaders of ensuring that anything their family might say or do to engage their controlled loved one could be readily curbed, redefined or rebuffed. Nothing could chill their only remaining ties to normalcy than for the perpetuation of this grotesque brinkmanship which innumerable family members had to suffer to have contact with their mind controlled son or daughter.

This malignant assignment of elders and leaders to monitor church members is yet another example of the hidden curricula of Gladstone’s toxic influence hard at work. Their oral traditions about safeguarding themselves from the evil outside world were passed down from Zac’s mandates from on high and would surface in backyards hundreds of miles away to captivate family groups. These were the hidden struggles that many have had to deal with for decades which, of course, didn’t come up in their public self-recommendations among the church culture they continually sought to infiltrate.


Zac and his elders were increasingly finding that infiltration more and more difficult as an aggrieved public took to many discussion boards and comment sections around on the Internet to lament - and curse - Gladstone’s deceptive ways. The internet isn’t the only place for public unrest to be gauged. A significant number of those who reside in the area have raised their own grievances with the community’s presence that range from concerns about their aggressive recruitment to possible zoning violations among the homes there, with the housing of several individuals in single family homes. Rumors of local civic leaders holding allegiances with Gladstone/Madison leaders who help advance their agenda abound. This is to be expected as any and every cult living in an active tension with the world outside it works overtime to build bridges to local leaders (197). It only stands to reason that if Cincinnati church ministries have been readily bewitched and exploited by their young, offbeat and cheery countenances then many business and figures in governance likely are a part of Zac’s network of influence. These residents and others have rehearsed some of the deeply personal grievances living around them have caused and which we’ve alluded to which we have no time to get into.

Googling is still one of the best ways to find information about anything -
but weighing it carefully becomes an even greater burden. When looking to the Web for a collected wisdom painfully imparted by so many anonymous contributors, citation has to be careful. We’ve done our best to verify all that has been written here in this expose where possible. In so doing, we’ve heard over and over about the many ways Gladstone/Madison has deployed every means at their disposal to be as appealing and communally integrated as they can. In the case of this pernicious cult, who’ve regularly recycled sanitized versions about themselves using their websites, the web has been a deep well of narrative about the movement’s inner doings. It was like this long before we first heard about the Gladstone/Madison movement in 2021 as we mentioned in the start of this expose and will continue to be long after we lay aside the word processing, interview recorders and stop taking calls and emails about them. 

The person who originally informed us about the Gladstone cult as led by Zac Kijinski pointed us to places like the scattered stories found in Reddit, Twitter and other social media sites. We learned that, unsurprisingly, aside from the tentative concerns raised by the online
Cincinnati Magazine article, there hasn’t been any organized and extended effort by any other individual or organization to sound the alarms about their cultic activity that we could see. We know of individual pastors and church leaders who have challenged them in private conflicts that have never seen the light of day over their “fellowship” that has involved division, religious abuse and spiritual deception, yet never went any further to warn the larger community outside the four walls of their own assemblies.

But you
will find a glowing testimony to the sensual coffee shop ambience filled with the fragrance of fresh roast and sandwiches fielded by a local television news broadcast that was glowingly reported about the Madison Place coffee house in November of 2022 (198). “Very cozy,” cooed the host as she chomped on dark Ilan’s chocolate, “a home away from home!” It’s unlikely that the WCPO news staff who produced the puff piece had a clue about the direct connection of the shop to the cult, but that’s only because of human nature that tends to take at face value the validity of anything. No one likely tried to find out a little more about just who Nathan Standeford’s “business partners”  really were - namely, Zac and other elders. Once again, a cultic institution got another free bit of priceless media marketing from a local media outlet that was blissfully unaware that they were promoting the work of an established and destructive cult. And the band played on and on. This is just one of the many ways cultism grows in our world and the materialistic obsession with amassing market share and business opportunities is one very big way that the Gladstone/Madison movement demonstrates where its’ real priorities are.

As pointed out, the World Wide Web contributes to the memory of Gladstone’s predatory presumption. For example, the aggressive recruitment by Gladstone/Madison’s membership has never stopped and has even been extended to the luring of children in the area to their services. A harrowing story told by a furious parent living in the area lays out in stark terms to what level of luring Gladstone will lower itself to ensnare new recruits:


They've approached my kids twice as they were playing in the neighborhood, trying to recruit them. Told them both times that "it's ok if your parents don't want you to go to church, you're welcome anytime and you should come by." I've confronted them when my son came home extremely uncomfortable after one encounter. A lady with 12 other people with her at the local playground told him he looked sad, and offered help through the church. He told her he was just hot after running around, but she kept pushing the sad bit. He came home and told me right away. Another time it was a lady in a hospital gown, wandering the street. We've had family talks, and now they're just waiting for the next encounter, totally empowered to scream like banshees and yell "Get away from me!" We talk about it regularly since those people are everywhere here, and I don't want their independence hindered. Creeps. (199) 

Others have testified to similar attitudes found among Gladstone members who had secular jobs and connections that kept them in contact with the external world’s masses. Among these who have come and gone at Gladstone are individuals who found the communal lifestyle initially attractive yet exhibited certifiably imbalanced behavior that ultimately showed they were there for the room and board - and the possible game they could bag, not for Jesus, or even pleasing Zac.

It was the Christian membership who genuinely tried to live an upright life that would suffer outrages from them that the leadership were indifferent to. Of the “troublemakers” within the community, these kinds of deviants actually seemed to be able to get away with more than one might think possible in the Gladstone straight-edged moral atmosphere, as Samantha had to painfully recall:

A guy who hadn’t signed covenant showed me his penis once and made a sexual pass at me, but I told his house pastor. He left a week later and I don’t know what came of it, or if they even addressed it.

However again, the boss I had to report to and obey often made me uncomfortable. Nothing ever happened, but it was triggering often and he did kiss my head once very wet and slow. It was weird. Especially because I wasn’t allowed to be alone with the men, but they never cared about John crossing my boundaries or being inappropriate.

He could basically do what he wanted. I was allowed to be alone with him often, we even drove to grocery stores (which would have been forbidden with anyone else) and he gave off an energy that he wanted me in a romantic or sexual way. He is almost 60, I am 25 and was even younger at the time. Anytime I raised concern about his behavior, I was gaslit and told I needed to submit and respect him as my boss and for being an older man. (200 emphasis mine)

Samantha’s testimony sheds light upon the corrupted vibe within Gladstone/Madison’s social circles as organized and governed by Zac’s dubious leadership. They can command obedience to questionable leadership just because of age or standing and declare  that this is a divine social order, despite any plain evidence that it is faulty, even deviant. And among the smiling, energetic celibate rank and file, the few married couples, scattered single parents with children and a few, almost invisible older members there are indeed people who are certifiably of depraved moral standing who gravitate toward their own carnal ways.

While that’s just life on our fallen planet, and certainly not exclusively a Gladstone/Madison issue, the reality seen among them is that the church’s leadership readily suspends judgment quite selectively upon those who flagrantly violate their own moral code. Out of this outrageous depth of hypocrisy, they can choose to be ruthless on one hand with someone for talking too loudly and permissively forbearing with another who might possibly fondle a community child or proposition a co-worker. This dubious partiality they extend, as we’ve commented upon, is a warped attempt to provide some kind of redemptive trust to the struggler.  But for a group that prides itself on requiring personal sanctity and moral uprightness, it’s a revolting daily duplicity that exists when real discipline and scrutiny should rather be applied toward those who really need it. And of these for whom Zac and the elders made room there included more than just dirty old men whose lustful skulking was tolerated among them as a display of how “grace” should be extended.

There’s a real issue within the Buckeye State about mandated legal restrictions that govern the interactions of convicted criminals who have perpetrated sex crimes, whether against adult or child victims. Ohio’s antiquated laws on sex offenders have only just now started to finally get review and reform, and as one activist pointed out, Ohio typically looks to other states when  legislative consideration is being contemplated by lawmakers and policy makers(201) . In part, due the averting taboo of culture of society itself against confronting sex crime when a friend or family member is a perpetrator, a historical and yet still egregious laxity by Ohio lawmakers to press for legal reform persists there.

A non profit foundation there, after years of research, has found that Ohio ranks higher than the national average when it comes to children who have adverse childhood experiences such as sexual abuse and that they disproportionately impact handicapped, lower income, and minority children (202) . The traumatic violation of sex crime victims by sex criminals destructively wounds them for a lifetime. Yet despite the grim reality of this social scourge, until just
this past year (2023), it has been legally permissible in Ohio for child sexual criminals to work with and come into extensive contact with children as part of their daily work and life. As one activist has said “Ohio is probably the safest place for a hidden predator to hunt.” 


It’s been no secret that among Gladstone’s many properties there lived at least two known and registered sex offenders (203), as verified by the search of an online official Ohio state sex offender registry. One of them is named John Franck and the other listed by the name of Robert Lavigne. Both still live there, as of August, 2023. The Gladstone home they live in is outside the radius of distance to a school in the district, so they are there legally. We don’t wish to denigrate what apparent attempts at personal reform both men might sincerely be pursuing or impugn them as worthless trash: all people should have a second chance in rebuilding their lives when they fail so terribly if they truly are seeking that.

But their paths in the church’s communal lifestyle have been woven deeply into the daily lives of those who have been sexually victimized and others who could be potential targets for new crime should a lapse in their judgment and behavior occur and they are largely unknown by the outer community at large. This has been documented by what Samantha and others have shared.

In at least John’s case, his moral rectitude and that of Zac and the elders stands in even further serious question when his attempts to allure a young woman in authorized private instances were virtually signed off on by the cult’s leadership. Could there be others who have been impacted by John’s routine treading upon their personal boundaries, knowing that nothing would be done, and could there have be new outrages afoot? The silence of the lambs among the flocks of Gladstone endures.

For within the community, there was apparently no safeguarding transparency by Zac and other leaders about the dark pasts of these two men.  Christina, who helped operate the community homeschooling operation that was created for the children who were born into or entered Gladstone/Madison, was completely unaware of their existence until after she left the group (203). One can imagine how the parents of children in the Gladstone/Madison community might actually feel knowing that their children are in potential reach of not one but two men convicted of sex crime whom their leaders authorize to be there. It’s a distinct possibility that others could be there, unregistered, yet fully enabled by Gladstone leadership to be obeyed and listened to just because of their age and because they should be treated as forgiven people. Franck is guilty of charges that a different individual, now jailed, was convicted of (204) and his boldness in trying to lustfully ensnare Samantha is certainly enabled by his position of authority with the community.

The Gladstone/Madison cult can do all they can to religiously sanitize the plain truth about Franck’s lack of integrity, but they still elevated him to the standing he held while she was there. It speaks volumes about the blindness of Zac and the leaders about what real sexual purity is, and how it doesn’t seem to register with him that appearances matter. Their immunity to the fear of a victim is documented and with such insensitivity a well known tenet of their oral tradition, it’s not surprising that their hidden curricula involving an illegitimate deference to an older male by a younger female is part of what we see here.  Perhaps Zak’s scorched conscience about this when it comes to his own behavior is what has contributed to his housing many known effeminate men in his own house (205) , blissfully uncaring about what others might think, even as his own celibacy as a lifestyle choice still raises a lot of questions in light of his teen aged same sex proclivities.

What was known was that another member of Gladstone named Adam had apparently committed an act of sexual abuse according to a family member. It is unclear if law enforcement was ever involved. The former member immediately advised the leadership about it in an attempt to establish accountability, only to find that they already knew of this incident and yet continued to leave Adam’s installation in the Gladstone work disposition unchecked. He left the community briefly but within the last few months of 2023 has returned to it and is still there and - none too shockingly - had an access to the portions of the community that involved actual supervision of its children.  “
Adam was scheduled for childcare but when Elders found out they took him off childcare.”  The former member drily added that “to the best of my knowledge this was not reported to authorities .. and in Ohio the elders would be mandatory reporters of such.” (206) 

Is Adam a convicted sex offender? We don’t know. If he is, he is not on the Ohio registry and should be. As the registry graphic we have posted shows, only John and Robert are shown within the Gladstone/Madison enclave there. But as Adam apparently has an established history of coming, leaving and then returning again to the community quite frequently, (207)  he certainly hasn’t found any conflict with the straight-edge morality of the group and his own disturbingly fluid one.

Ohio statutes prohibit convicted sex offenders from habitation in a community they reside in without registering with the state attorney’s general registry (208). Yet by this same law only the presence of Tier III convicts (tiers being the level of criminal offense) will mandate a notification by local law enforcement about their chosen residency to a local community. Tier I and Tier II convicts don’t apparently warrant that same concern and both John and Robert are Tier I offenders. This shows the abysmally disconnected view of legal statutes in Ohio regarding sex crime. As we see here, Zac and his elders know about the deviance of those among them who they should be monitoring yet show little to no concern about it. The utilization of two or more charming drones in the hive work is their priority. “God forgives,” is the implied pushback, “so why don’t you get over it?”

This is an example of what is known as
“sloppy agape” in the Christian church - a ready willingness to extend grace that excuses the questionable behavior of those who otherwise should be soundly corrected, questioned and even rebuked. There’s more that could be said about this lurid side of things which we take no pleasure in rehearsing, but we have no further time to press this point. But Zac and Gladstone/Madison leaders excel at such pathetic presumption and it should come as no surprise that these kinds of episodes are part of that which goes on behind their closed doors and crowded houses filled with young men and women clutching their celibacy to themselves, some far more dubiously than others (209).

Despite their stark message of a world going to hellfire and damnation and their need to check that where possible,  Zac’s drive to involve play where he possibly can in his daily activity has never stopped. He will drive past people and continually pretend to be pulling guns with a pointing hand to shoot them. Many are the tales of his requirement for the young women of Gladstone to kiss his ring finger and even curtsy before him as they came across his wandering around the community settings. His obsession with warfare and armed conflict is unquestioned and every person we’ve spoken to attests to his constant involvement in recreational horse play even as his subjects fought to keep their time management and hard work going.

He would often play sword fight with people, organize nerf gun wars, he just was super childlike all the time. He would have me and another sister kiss his hand like a king—I wish I could better explain it but his personality is as if he is always playing. He was ALWAYS acting this way, randomly pretending he’s in a medieval place or a war zone and just goof off like that. (210)

It is this feckless attitude, a Zac personality standard, that has contributed to a far more disquieting reality his behavior perpetuates there which is what should be remembered.

Zac essentially plays at life on a regular basis and is certainly an advocate of letting his inner child run free in his daily lifestyle socialization. Even as he harasses and harangues Gladstone’s slaves, he does so with a grin of delight over what he sees as a great big human adventure in mass movement manipulation.  To him, being a cult leader is fun, with all around him ready to join in his gamesmanship at a moment’s notice. He takes a daily pleasure of being able to goof off with his disciples at one minute and pin them down for a vicious hours long scolding the next. It is perhaps this dominant aspect of his personality that emboldens his immature displays of temper and tantrum within Gladstone which become embodied in his abusively railing, black/white worldview and a self-centered perspective about what he wants done. The warping of the lives of the young men and women who find themselves the object of this kind of socialization is without question one of the most damaging legacies of Gladstone/Madison that exist today.

Regardless of the agonizing tension created by his studious ignorance of the freedom and consciences of others, Zac endlessly compels these amusing diversions among his slaves to preoccupy them. And his elders, being completely given over to magnifying and articulating his pleasurable directives for domination, are his consummately devoted servants of his message. Throughout Gladstone/Madison years of existence, they contextualize and articulate Zac’s impulsively egotistic demands for getting his way. Their own
playing at life under Zac’s lead during the ruthless pacing of the community’s lives actually contributes to a lot of his allure among Gladstone/Madison members who readily suffer their juvenile impacting of their lives and souls. 

It is a testimony to the power of cultic thought reform that so many Gladstone members readily rationalize their slavish submission to Zac’s coercion as a divine leading of God’s Spirit, even as he picks the songs to play and the dance steps to skip to. The old saying says that to attract flies you should use more honey than vinegar, and the disarming play of Zac is such a ploy, one that helps to disarm their ability to resist it.  The silly fun that sugarcoats primal fear is a powerful combination that helps keep them all focused upon an utterly thoughtless conformity, as the Lost Boys sang in the Walt Disney adaptation of Barrie’s Peter Pan:  “We're one for all, and all of us out for fun / We march in line and follow the other one.” (211) . 

While making the burden of obedience more palatable by fun, Zac freely indulges himself with it whenever he can, as we’ve seen, and this may help explain a mysterious 2021 purchase by a wealthy Gladstone/Madison member in rural Ohio that bears noting.

An 80 acre farm was purchased in August, 2021 by one Ben Swanson, for $342,000 dollars in Willow Wood (212), an unincorporated community located in Windsor Township, near to the tri-state region where Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia’s borders meet.  A long one way drive of almost 150 miles is needed to get to the area, where there are no municipalities in the entire area but the property prices and taxes are low, and the I
nternet access is said to be quite fast. The 80 acres sprawls on a rolling land with the three bedroom and three bathroom home located on a small hill at the conjunction of two small and well forested ridges complete with their own hollows and small glades. These are among some of the most remote foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with the nearest city of Ironton almost 20 miles due west.

It’s not known  why Swanson purchased a property so far from any centers of Buckeye population. The apocalyptic views of Kijinski not discussed to this point could be a factor. As we’ve seen, his views of an imminent judgment upon the world by God were always a vital part of his preaching and teaching through the years. Former members who sat under his teaching have indicated that Zac (and therefore, Gladstone/Madison) rejected the dominant Christian concept of the rapture, a time in which God physically removes believers out of the earth before sending the seven years of judgment (the Great Tribulation of the book of Revelation) upon the unbelievers who remain and who will come under the rule of the Antichrist. Not surprisingly, this was a view foisted by the International House of Prayer circles that Zac and other early Gladstone leaders originally frequented (213).

For both groups, the Christian church was going to face and then victoriously endure the seven years of Tribulation upon an earth shaken by disaster, pestilence and hostility unlike any age before. An inordinate amount of time was spent in Gladstone/Madison explaining why such a view had to be rejected, with a great emphasis upon enduring coming trials.  “I would say he focused more on talking about the aspect of suffering during that time than anything else. He never disclosed any ways he or the others were prepared for such a thing. There was a lot of focus on persecution and martyrdom.”(214)

Zac therefore asserted that true Christians would have to persevere through such fearful times and that they were to live in preparation for it, to live as cunning survivalists who would resist the evil the Antichrist and his control of human society would bring. His position, of course, came to be supported by community individuals who “would say things like that they had a word of prophecy or vision from God about how we would survive the tribulation.”(215)  This is not the time for any of our own argument upon this view other than to identify it as a powerful influence that leavened every thought of what their group’s future was to be. (216) 

With such community confidence in their spiritual durability, as encouraged by Zac’s cryptic rumination over the years, it’s easy to see how they all could envision their Gladstone/Madison affiliations as an ark of safety.  And when the opportunity for prudent preparation for the new world order through their frenetic industry came within their grasp, it was seized upon by Zac and the elders, who found the concept of a redoubt of sanctuary being raised up in the backwoods of Appalachian Ohio most appealing. The increasing pressure they were facing from the godless external world around them in the Queen City was proof that the luster had worn off their original belief that they were to dwell under a divine fiat of refuge there. It was as good a time as any to flee and hide away from the imagined wrath to come.

For Gladstone’s vision casting had also included a hope of purchasing a large land tract to be able to farm and perhaps live off of. This desire had been part of the community conversation among leaders during the 2016 shaking and the concealment of the Gladstone community beneath the Madison Place camouflage (217). It’s understandable how, out of their proven ability to organize the community’s finances and resources in an urban setting, such a dream of a wilderness fortress could be seriously entertained by Zac and his lieutenants. With the cash flow of a wealthy community member who was fully bought into the community’s progress at hand as a useful resource to have on hand, the property purchase seemed almost ordained.

This remote backwood vibe also likely appealed to Zac’s deep seated obsession with adventurous road trips as an extension of the playfulness in life he relentlessly pursues. He certainly couldn’t but find that the creation of a hidden place away from the urban sprawl and hassle most intriguing, likely a reminder of his free roaming Knight riding in the forest groves around the Atheneum and in Mount Washington in the dark nights of his teenage years. The 80 acres could be a private place where he could retreat and bear his flock along to the security of a fold afar off, while planning one heck of a paintball or laser tag weekend with them (as long as everyone ensured their chores were done). Since the purchase in 2021, such usage of the property has been ongoing, with groups from the community regularly visiting. Whole houses have come and gone on retreats with the conclave of Zac and his leadership team being among them.  

But between the sleepovers, communal meals and late night campfires, there is more activity that should also be duly noted. The emptying of ammunition fired from handguns and rifles into their own private berm areas on the property regularly echoes across the hills and hollows at the Ohio property.  This recent development, as far as we know, continues and the sharp crackling reports of gunfire volleys as fired by community members is nothing that can be mistaken for firecrackers. While sport shooting is certainly not illegal - we’ve engaged in it ourselves - we are also very aware of how costly ammunition and guns themselves actually are. It’s hard to reconcile this kind of expenditure as a wise stewardship of personal recreation. Yet all of this is enthusiastically pursued by Gladstone/Madison socialization there, even as they continue to suffer the unrelenting grind of fund raising drives for giving Indian pastors vacations in Israel, and first class accommodations for Zac’s jaunts around Europe and living on 200 dollar stipends.

Who owns these weapons, how many of them and just who pays for all of this activity is yet another open question, as well as a far more sobering one:
how much of this comes of Zac’s warrior play and how much of it comes from his belief system that weapons training is needed since an Armageddon is at hand?  We have already seen how the questionable theology of Gladstone/Madison as advanced by Zac has shaped their warped sociology. And the history of cultism ominously includes far too many instances where a self-inspired tension with the world around it is heralded by a cruelty to those bound up behind its closed doors. Enough of that grim precedent should be a cautionary potential we dare not ignore.

Observers may see a lot of smoke here, and to be fair to Zac and his flock, there may be no fire. They may just like to shoot guns and crow about how ready they are to endure hard times. Or they could be drilling in firearm instruction for a far more darker reasoning involving a stiffening black and white worldview rejecting any restraint from the outside world and a new readiness to take up arms as part of their faith. Reports are unclear at this point. The Gladstone/Madison dog may have a lot of bark but no real bite.
But we really don’t know.

Keep in mind the play shooting mannerism that Zac so easily affects in his daily life and a willingness to sweep everyone along under his influence. If Zac is willing to verbally pistol whip people for hours as well as beat, ironically, a dog with a belt (218) unwatched, who really knows what manner of indirect  passive-aggressive hostility he is capable of? Narcissists are uncannily gifted at inspiring people into fighting their supposed battles. They just set the stage and provide the reasoning, but they lead their warriors into but not through the conflict they curry with those perceived as targets to be knocked aside?  If the pressure mounts again upon his cultic enterprises in Hamilton county, could he compel a mass exodus to Lawrence County, where Windsor Township is a legally constituted “gun sanctuary”, (219) a place where any gun law that seems restrictive to personal firearms freedom can be readily overruled locally?

Lawrence County. Ohio is a good place to get off the grid and hide. It’s still more likely that he and a select few might make that bolt for the woods there to become their own Wild West heroes enjoying the benefits of their Work Gospel the drones back in Cincinnati will continue to pursue.  

No local county zoning laws there seem to exist to really govern such a possible community relocation, and enough property for structures like trailers exist for quick occupancy. With the deep construction resources and experience Gladstone has, any projects such as these are well within their ability. The fact that they readily moved once corporately doesn’t preclude another. Watching any application, if even needed, at the township level for construction permits for Gladstone/Madison work crews to visit the property might be a good way to find out.
But again, we don’t know, and it’s a development that sorely needs more monitoring. 

We’re not advocating any kind of witch hunt of anyone involved with this movement, but too many other cultic experiments in community started the same way and became horrific exercises of authoritarianism(220) and a close monitoring of Gladstone/Madison’s activity in so remote a region should not be discounted just because they look so clean and act so “pure.” 
Zac and his misguided community have modeled enough antisocial behavior behind closed doors for decades which demonstrates their willingness to allow physical and mental harm there. That is the plain, stark truth that can’t be ignored. Their demand for privacy and freedom of religion repels any calls for scrutiny or accountability and the present indifference of American society to the cries of the oppressed echoing from its darkest corners ensures they will continue to do as they please.

That has been the state of affairs in the tension of cultic oppression versus social laxity as commemorated in the worst possible way. In 1979, after the hellish events in Guyana that cost the lives of 918 of his followers, it was discovered that over “Reverend” Jim Jones’ chair in the center of his Jonestown pavilion was a sign mounted that gave a stark warning: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” After a lifetime of watching cults destroy human life, I am doing just that.

We are remembering the checkered past of cults for the sake, Jesus tarrying, of a future for many in Gladstone/Madison who just don’t see one at hand except whatever Zac mandates it should be. A close observation of their questionable doings only seems a prudent thing to proceed with for, as Jonestown’s signmaker indirectly implies, the proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions as well as a lot of unanswered questions.




(173) Scott Morrison, ibid

(174) Interview with Rebecca, former Gladstone prospect

(175) ibid

(176) Morrison, ibid

(177) ibid

(178) Rebecca. Ibid

(179) Interview with an anonymous member 2022

(180) Interview with Samantha

(181) ibid

(182) Anonymous ex-member 5

(183) This is one of the darkest interludes found amidst the wilderness of Gladstone’s spiritual topography. That so many could remark how this one woman was so aggrieved by her treatment by Zac and others that it regularly surfaced in her own abusive manner of leadership is a testimony to the power of the hidden curricula of cultism.


(185) Morrison, ibid


(187) Zoltani, ibid

(188) Christine Hilton, interview 2022

(189) ibid



It sounds like a jaded question but what the "potential of raw chocolate" has to do with the Gospel of Christ or world missions is a fair question. But what should be asked quite directly is where Cebestian got his investment funding for his personal stake as an elder who had access to resources his Gladstone/Madison serfs did not.

(192) Morrison, ibid


(194) Multiple people interviewed for this expose attest to the fact that, in the end, Zac literally would conceal himself when angry or emotional people came to the community demanding he explain why their loved ones had stopped relating to them. He truly is a legend in his own mind.

(195) Morrison, ibid

(196) Anonymous Gladstone member’s parent interview 2022

(197) Cultic leaders since the dawn of time, in a typically sectarian obsession with consolidating influence and power within the larger community surrounding their movement, have always sought to ingratiate themselves with local politicians and people of influence. In the West, where democracy advocates accessibility of all interest groups to them, cultic leaders have flourished. With such free interchange of charismatic personalities, critical masses of joint cooperation inevitably come that often overlook the thornier side of the connections.

The infamous “Reverend” Jim Jones’ ties to California politicos in the mid-1970’s were quite extensive as are those today of Japanese political leaders with the so-called Unification movement, the splintered cult created by the equally infamous “Reverend” Sun Myung Moon. In East Chicago, Indiana, near where our ministry is located, the mayor Anthony Copeland enjoys the support of the local congregation of La Luz Del Mundo, a Mexican cult created by now jailed cult leader Naasón Joaquín García and publicly proclaimed by him in 2016 to be “an Apostle of Jesus Christ” is part of a more local story that needs to be told.

Gladstone’s own ties to local Cincinnati politics are just part of their own networking rendered as equally mundane as their ties to local church ministries. Individuals close to Zac and the elders not living in its communal bubble with local political vocations are known to be involved at some level with the cult. How this may have impacted the more prosaic interactions they had with building code enforcement, zoning permits and public advocacy is another side of this story we just don’t have time to engage in. For more information on how cults curry this sort of governance access, read this article on one very visible example found in Japan’s enthusiastic love fests with Unificationism at

(198) There’s nothing like coffee to help a cult gain community traction, market share and a positive cashflow. Apart from the cozy and warmly casual ambience where richly warm smells and overstuffed chairs beckon people to take in their favorite caffeinated tonics, the social life swirling around it's pleasures is a favorite haunt for cult recruiters to assess and target prospects there. Open a Bible or a book with a spiritual topic there and you'll soon be in the bead of an invite for discussion or a question about what you're reading. That is one of the ways Gladstone/Madison evangelists quietly work their harvest field there, one that walks in from the neighborhood and requires they be tried out, in some way. There are Christian small groups and church fellowships that regularly use the place for their interaction and time, and the Madison Place staff know how to set the trap, with extra caramel toppings to boot.


(200) Samantha ibid


(202) News5, ibid

(203) Christine Hilton, interview, 2022


(205) Multiple witnesses like Jeremiah and Scott have attested to this housing of young men with the same kind of ambiguous sexuality and mannerisms that strongly infer same-sex inclinations.

(206) Former member, ibid

(207) ibid


(209) Christine’s contacts have reported that within a couple of the women's houses there are apparently members and leaders who struggle with same sex attraction, aware that community rules sternly forbid it. How far this has proceeded within the group and to what extent their celibacy is intact is unknown. Whether it reflects yet another unspoken community social more which in this instance relegates those with same sex inclinations into assigned living situations as a way of retaining some other kind of control of them is also unclear. Our observation here is not meant to be an indictment of anyone’s sexual orientation in Gladstone but to illustrate how certain sides of human nature within it can be managed in a curatable fashion but only at great effort.

(210) Samantha, interview, 2022




(214) Anonymous ex-member 3, interview, 2023

(215) ibid

(216) The teaching of a pretribulation rapture, or physical removal of the populace of Christians from the earth prior to God's judgment are the most solid Biblical position on the destiny of the Body of Christ during the end times. I realize there's much debate and argument over this issue, but this expose doesn't seek to settle the question. For an excellent treatment on the variety of views on Bible prophecy, I recommend Robert Lightner's "The Last Days Handbook" (Nelson 1990). Although the major advocates of each view date the book, his discussion on their positions is balanced and objective.

(217) Anonymous ex-member 3, ibid

(218) Multiple testimonies exist which describe Zac's beating of a dog within one of the women's houses with a belt for it's unruly behavior that caused a bite injury of one of them.

(220) The infamous cultic phenomenon known as the People's Temple led by the "Reverend" Jim Jones began a move to Guyana in 1974 after media reports of abuse and fraud were reported by ex-members and concerned parties around their San Francisco, California stronghold. Scandal followed by critical press has a powerful effect on cultic corporate existence and tragically, it historically has shown to include some of the most desperate and destructive extremes of human behavior involving excesses of behavior that are beyond our ability to fully describe here.



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