Brother Trickster:

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


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



Plumbing Zak’s Neverland
All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.

Currently, the surreal subculture of the Gladstone/Madison community keeps on keeping on.

Their army of militant evangelists still plunge into the night to hail the users or offer free Bible studies to coffee drinkers. The unwary still fall prey to the love bombing and the misguided trust invoked there to become new recruits from across the social spectrum. The businesses still grind on, the common purse gets replenished weekly  and the inflammatory invective still flows during the social times there. Zak still doesn’t lift a finger in honest labor there and praises God by texts for his first class upgrades as he jets all around Europe and Israel while his community slaves away to pay for it. And with fixed grimaces of feigned joy and fellowship, the slaves grin and bear their daily crosses of oppression, a hidden curricula of twisted Scripture and tormenting social domination that robs them of any hope or expectation and compels utter resignation to their chains.


This situation is one of the faces of cultism in our world today, within the greater Cultworld and Zak’s Gladstone Neverland is a poster child for what a dangerous and deceptive cult looks like. 

I cannot think of the Gladstone/Madison cult without remembering the existence of the equally heretical and abusive Xenos/Dwell group in Columbus. The wastelands that both movements have created in Ohio are vast wildernesses of spiritually scorched earth and incinerated lives whose agonized devastation cannot ever be fully gauged or overstated - and are largely out of sight and out of mind to most everyone living around them. It is almost a certainty that a Xenos/Dwell ministry house’s oppressive influence over its own clutch of victims was what Cebastian Hilton observed in Columbus, providing an organizational cross-pollination of Gladstone’s formative years which he, Zak and others drew from to create their own egocentric empire.  The invisible  litany of horrors goes on and on and is drawn from first person eyewitnesses all over in both Cultworlds. But despite its much smaller size and more recent history, Zac’s cult is pound for pound as toxic and twisted as the Columbus movement: this cannot be said too loudly or often enough.



There are many third party organizations outside Gladstone/Madison who invested in sowing the wind among them and have found out at terrible personal cost that they are now reaping a cult’s lethal whirlwind that has blasted so many souls, hearts and minds into rubble. These errant Christian groups have used their extravagant largesse to buy into  “partnering in ministry” with Gladstone/Madison’s supposed outreach. In so doing, they gained an unsavory and temporary vitality which they initially attributed to the hand of a holy God but which was an exercise of purely human group dynamics. The inner bargaining within the power lunches of these religious posses to seal deals would be called “kairos moments” `of critical import. They were instead just business deals that trafficked in souls, making merchandise of manipulation (2 Peter 2:3).   

The long departed Reformed pastor and professor J.K. Van Baalen reminded us four generations ago of an old proverb in his classic book “The Chaos Of The Cults” that predated him and certainly all of us .. “The cults are the unpaid bills of the church.” Van Baalen ruefully wrote that “this saying contains more than a grain of truth. Elements of truth that have been neglected by the various Christian denominations have .. occasioned the rise of cults that unduly stressed such ignored or belittled truths the point of creating a lopsided religion.”  If there was ever a real prophet to cite in this work, Van Baalen’s oracle fits this to the proverbial T. Whether an adherent’s spiritual paradigm involves the liturgical catechism or a tongue-talking ecstasy, the imbalance between truth and error wobbles onward throughout Christendom today and the good reverend spoke well here.

The Gladstone/Madison movement arose because of the lack of community and spiritual passion that all who were lured by it were languishing under in their own spiritual backwoods they dwelt in. The energy and of course the love bombing that was crackling in the gatherings and Mariemont Bible studies were irresistible. And Zac’s co-opting of the passion of so many earnest and sincere Christians longing for a deeper spiritual walk was perfected to a fine art of persuasive finesse. He masterfully played upon the wearied longing for belonging that his audiences struggled with, appealed to their gleaning for meaning in a cold church world full of deadened religion. The community's public persona and example was a dream come true for so many, too good to be true - but the hidden waving of the red flags didn't faze the recruits. It all felt so good, so holy and so much the refuge where the name of Jesus - a Name of salvation, restoration and hope so dear to Christians of all ages - was appealed to continually.

This points back to the core challenge behind cultism’s spiritual lure.

The Christian church’s abject failure to provide sound Christian discipleship through Spirit-bestowed love and mercy to every professing convert is the greatest unpaid bill of all.
A faith remaining unproven by unlived profession is just another empty religiosity for which the spiritually impoverished will not be suffered long in our postmodern day. Cults would have no traction among church members if they were actually taught to discern truth and error, to ask questions and think critically when confronted by smooth talk that sounds so convincing - and above all, they saw love and truth in the lives of their congregations that ardently motivated them.  To be fair, the church circles of Cincinnati are hardly the only ones falling so short in this. After a lifetime of ministry, I’m all too depressingly aware of how great a problem this is among Christian circles globally. Too many churches out of which Gladstone/Madison recruits may have been affiliated with which should be colonies of heaven are instead compounds of the earthly or even hellish. All of our Christian life should be compelled by God’s love manifest in His Son and given to us by the Holy Spirit through the lives and witness of maturing Christian leaders and disciples.
But it isn’t.

Tragically, there have never been enough real role models and examples, never enough true mentoring influences within churches to keep this expression of His law of love paramount in their ministries. The superficial image is paramount in our myopic world and that translates within spiritual communities quite easily. Churches want to believe the promotional campaign that the pretentious young radicals for Christ meeting before them are real, with sincerely youthful zeal and winsomely loving manner that is godly and divinely inspired. 
They are a breath of fresh air when compared to the rise of the cold tribes of clergy and church organization which have become a deadening institutionalizing of inertia. Science fiction novelist Frank Herbert in his Dune Messiah work well describes such spiritual bureaucrats on the planet Arrakis who champion clerical mechanics: “he betrayed by every action that he preferred machines to men, statistics to individuals, the faraway general view to the intimate personal touch requiring imagination and initiative.” (221)

This frigid reality of human nature’s preference for disconnected interaction is why, in our present degeneracy of the modern church world, many are the church leaders who put more value in spreadsheets and pragmatism than the labor of self-discipline and reliance upon Biblical truth to inspire and guide. It’s why people can just believe what they are told, if they never actually see the reality - and why the reputation of Gladstone/Madison became a ten feet tall and bulletproof super Christianity towering over the local churches around them. This massive bluff of cultism remains unchallenged everywhere by the one institution that should be able to put it to flight. 

Christendom’s infatuation with metrics about the numbers of souls saved, people contacted and lives supposedly changed are the fuel for organizational advocacy of cultic movements that disguise themselves as cutting edge churches. The numbers of others always beckon ambitious church leaders as a flag to rally around and the inspiring mass gatherings of them are the classic social bandwagons that beckon them to join. The blind idealism lent by churches and civic groups who should be more discerning readily point to this public imagery as proof of their beneficial place in making the world a better place. Yet it is never so blind as when it stubbornly points to a cult’s member’s shiny-eyed testimony or starry-eyed group industry as the criterion proving their truth. They have been directly responsible for the birth of too many cultic tricksters in the world today, with the Buckeye state’s suffrage of them there as one very real and lively social scourge.


Cultism’s deft exploitation of the credulous in Christianity is also an established reality. Churches by and large are almost clueless about defending the Christian faith to begin with and when these tricksters play them like a harp, it is a repulsive yet all too familiar reality of our apostate age. Spiritwatch Ministries came to that conclusion quite early on in our ministry when we first launched in Tennessee in 1993 in the buckle of the Bible belt as part of a church's pioneering ministry vision to help combat cultism. Thirty years later, nothing has really changed. In 2022, as our ministry podcast called “Where Are We Going?” shifted into high gear while engaging survivors of both the Gladstone/Madison and Xenos/Dwell cults to share their stark testimonies of what they’d endured, their painfully shared personal histories only reinforced this conclusion. Hearing from so many sharing how churches utterly failed to help them discern, escape or deal with the Cultworld's shadows over them is, for this old Mexican preacher both singularly infuriating and heartbreaking .. yet grimly expected.

From the winter through the fall of that year, in an effort I still cannot believe we launched and prospered at, we did two podcasts a week giving the voices of the victims our online podcast platform. Only the grace of God enabled us to get through some of the most frenetic and distressing times of testimony our ministry has had to collect in our own history. Yet each voice mattered and every life had a story all of its own to tell which, when stepped away from, pointed to the plain truth that we were dealing with two very aggressive and destructive engines of oppression that boldly present themselves as churches.

Worst of all, we heard of the catastrophic degeneracy of innumerable church communities from all across Christendom whose abominable failures to serve and care for their own led to their confused flocks being successfully beckoned to by the pied pipers of Columbus and Cincinnati. And among these harrowing accounts, which are all still online, were interviews of several Gladstone/Madison survivors whose testimony we have drawn from for this expose. They have given an insight into the bleak corners of the Gladstone/Madison cult influence that no one and - predictably - no church could reveal in the stark and factual manner we’ve sought to detail here. The factual truth is what we were pursuing and at times, it pursued us, with people lining up to share their stories.

The church of Cincinnati has a lot of soul-searching it needs to be doing .. yesterday. And we are reminded of the
wisdom of the great theologian Dark Helmet who tersely expounded that "evil will always triumph because good is dumb."

The perspective of this expose has always been from that of a Christian minister, not a journalist or a sociologist of religious research. That brings with it a bias that I make no apology for because, despite our explicitly Christian perspective, we have been as objective as we can be in presenting the factual evidence at hand that has accumulated in broken and impacted lives for the past twenty years. I have shared this to the best of my ability yet clearly with an outrage impossible to conceal over the violation of conscience and religious abuses I have seen. Our examination of the claims and character of the Gladstone/Madison cult have always sought to bring to bear the sharpest perspectives of Biblical truth that transforms by first discerning the error around it. As an uncompromising expositor of Biblical ethics and values, however, my assessments have striven to avoid a preaching to the proverbial choir but to clarify what the Christian Scriptures teach about the questionable and the plainly heretical nature of this movement, and this assessment must now be unflinchingly made by addressing the very core of Zac’s cultic deviance.

The Evil Behind The Crazy: The Core Violations of Gladstone/Madison's Cultic Spirituality 

Any movement rises or falls by the motivation of its leadership, and when we find a Peter Pan in the soul of a Zak Kijinski who is given a blank check by the church pirates they enjoy their tensions with, a Neverland inevitably will always be found. Zac and his leadership posse are immature young men - and women, even if they don’t bear the title - whose wisdom is drawn from school cliques and whose personal character gravitates toward enthusiastically bullying others into coercive conformity with their antisocial ideals.  They fancy themselves to be pastors and ministers and, despite the sincere zeal toward Christ and His Gospel they display, simply fail to realize how utterly and terminally deficient their “pastoral caregiving” actually is. 

Our quotation of 1 Timothy 3:6 earlier in this expose details the apostle Paul’s prohibition of giving spiritual leadership to “novices”, any new and untried converts, for the all too obvious reason that they have no life experience in taking such a solemn responsibility. They’ve had no opportunity to follow a verifiable, mature Christian leader .. only come under the goofy and cruel hierarchy of Zak’s spiritual tricksterism. People like Cebastian Hilton and others may have had the capacity and innate ability to organize and lead, but their painfully human example was not that of Christ Himself but their attempt to imitate the abysmally rotten and self-exalting preening of their narcissistic leader for whom all life is just a game.

Zach's devotion to vicious punitive venting as replicated in his warped eldership's own oppressive presence brings to mind the stark Biblical narrative in 1 Kings 12:1-17.  This grim narrative again proves how profound is the danger of spiritual guidance when applied by the immature who are granted spiritual authority by those who make them their leaders. Reading the passage, we read that when seeking advice on how to rule over ancient Israel in a time of national crisis, a newly crowned King Rehoboam asks both elder counsel and his own youthful peers what to do. His choice of the absolutely reckless and arrogant dictates of his young friends proves disastrous for ancient Israel:

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?”

Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’ ”

The king's "wisdom" was drawn from the brutally self-centered suggestion that people seeking compassionate redress should instead take a concussive rebuke meant to crush them down. And that was a dictate sent up by profoundly ignorant youth drunk with the absolute power they could wield in spite of better advise given by older counsel. The kingdom of Israel split in two and the geopolitical consequences of this grotesque power play rock our world today.  In the same way, Zac and his elders also rule as abusive religious despots, capriciously and recklessly haranguing those who submit to their "leadership" with absolutely no one to stop or correct them since they practically view themselves above and beyond such things.

So the devastated victims of the Gladstone/Madison Neverland who either walked away or were cast away by an abusive gang-tackled excommunication walk in shadows that, again, cannot be overstated. Young men and women, who are still developing social and personal boundaries and belief are particularly vulnerable to the crushings of life’s cruelties and none are so damaging as the furious influence of their peer leadership around them. What the victims of this cult have endured is a soul-shattering trauma, years of immersive religious abuse that has crushed the dreams, hopes and faith of hundreds, if not thousands of people. They innocently looked to what Zak and others cast as the only stairway to heaven, gave their all for it only to discover that it was a gate to hell. Many wallow in silent brokenness, seeking to make their way through life while bearing the crushing weight of condemnation, guilt and dread that they are hellbound just because they left.

The personal dysfunction they grapple with daily, even moment by moment, has plunged many of them into the sorrows and dead ends that their struggles to cope with have led them, from promiscuity, domestic violence and substance abuse.  For others who have doggedly determined to bring order into their inner and hidden chaos, years of professional therapy and Biblical counsel are paths they arduously endure in the hope of regaining some sense of stability.  They seek to understand  what they’ve faced, what was done to them and to reconcile the lost years and struggle with some personal path to recovery, healing and even redemption.

These are the same victims whom Gladstone “elders” readily characterize in their warped community as sinners in love with the world, out of God’s will and who therefore lost their salvation.  Such spiritual losers, they snarl, were evil, lazy and rebellious,  a dangerous infestation of mentally unstable and demon possessed idolaters who worshiped the gods of family and marital desire so shamelessly. All of this vicious vituperation - as recollected by a survivor -  is part of the inner lingo of the hidden Gladstone/Madison culture that is freely and contemptuously spat out about those who’ve left their movement. This loaded language, circulated among Gladstone/Madison’s inner social circles is yet another objective proof of their quite literal cultic mind control (222), a troublingly evocative yet utterly factual description of the cult’s shackling mental bondage.

It also goes to show what manner of “love” that Zak and his movement actually live by: their stinking hypocrisy needs to be called out for what it is, a vile hatred presented as “loving counsel” that fools only the mind controlled who have been psychologically battered into submission to it. The hateful dismissal of the existence of those who left their circles stands for what it is, a feral enmity that is typical of any other cult that relegates its lapsed and struggling to a blasting of divine judgment as wicked apostates unworthy of attention or further recognition.

But Biblical apostolic judgment already has done that calling out of Gladstone for us. 

The apostle John, who was one of the closest disciples of Christ Himself, nails it pretty well as chronicled in his own words in 1 John 2:11, 3:10-15, and 4:20:

But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. ..

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

.. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 


The bottom line of the Christian faith is the gracious and tolerant love of God He expresses and the living presence of His love for others found in godly Christian examples. There is simply no other standard for truth in any circle of Christendom: anything else is smoke, mirrors and religious room noise, no matter how steep the steeple or synced the sanctuary might seem. 


The leadership of Gladstone/Madison that claims to love God and walk in His truth and yet treat those who meekly submit to them with such deliberate hatefulness delude only themselves and the slaves they abuse behind closed doors. John pulls no punches here - their “anointed” abhorrence they freely indulge in is as depraved as the sin of murder, coming from “elders” who “abide in death.”  Such, he says, was the primal sin of Cain who, out of a fallen and evil nature, killed his brother Abel in the years after their parents were driven from the garden of Eden (Genesis 4). 

This same species of wickedly egocentric human spirituality that lusts after amassing power and self-aggrandizement was the evil that the apostle Paul knew would shatter the peace of the first Christian communities he helped found.  The terrible psychological and emotional weight of what Paul prophetically knew was coming haunted him so terribly that he wept for three years among the Ephesian elders warning them of its coming (Acts 20:31) , broken that such spiritual savagery was at their very door - and everyone seemed clueless. Tragically, in the case of Zac and his elders, such error was viewed as the highest truth and the fanatical protest of Anna Potticary in the home of Ernie and June Stickler over the dangers of hellfire for those who failed to meet Gladstone’s legalism is a chilling example of how the savagery of delusionally punitive legalism is at the heart of their being, not the Spirit of God.  Such "eldership" is no mark of any leadership whatsoever. The elders of Gladstone, who have made it their business to defending their place in an abusive religious system and the rule of a spiritual tyrant, are not actual Christian leaders of any sort but are the goon squad for a cult's leader. They have been accorded that honor too presumptively for too long.

It’s an unsavory reality of how hatred is behind most cultic sectarianism and a very plain reading of the revelation about divine love found 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  is the greatest inoculation against its perversion as Paul explain what it really is:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

No such godly passion as this animates Zac or any of the elders there. The humble, enduring and optimistic spirit of divinely bestowed love is alien to Gladstone/Madison - instead there is some hollow sort of temperament they incarnate that is fickle, poisonable, moody and easily turned toward animosity instead. At its best, it mimics a purely human animation of religious goodwill in public, but in private they presumptively believe their hatefulness to actually be the summit of Godly care and compassion. 


And for they - or any other -  “Christian” who would choose hate, strife and evil speaking about those they are to care for essentially shows what they really have become, mass murderers whose destructive depravity spills out of their daily deeds and words. They beat, oppress and kill others by rejoicing in their error. No horror story or urban legend about evil can match this account - except in that of other cults who’ve gone the same well beaten path.  

It is Zac and his leadership who’ve taken up a satanic spiritual flagellation of the younger believers there in Gladstone/Madison. This is to be expected since they have become actual free agents of Satan, inspired by his own evil influences and their own fallen nature to be certifiable accusers of their own oppressed brethren. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. The name “Satan” literally means adversary, or accuser, one who contends against another - an antagonism which the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up displays against all who might spoil his fun. Out of a desire to see divine condemnation upon those who resist his demands, Zac and his band practice a theological thuggery that uses railing and accusation upon all who displease them. They take pleasure in their self-appointed God Squad roles Zac has cast them to play, with no inspiration by the love of God in their lives whatsoever.

The apostle Paul’s timeless entreaty to the Thessalonians about his own ministry team efforts to provide godly governance are in the sharpest of contrasts with Zac and his leader’s execrable example:

For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness.

Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.
  1 Thessalonians 2:3-8.

The Christian church from its earliest days followed the path of nurturing exhortation to spread the Gospel truth about reconciling fallen man to a holy God through the sacrifice of a loving Savior, Jesus Christ. His greatest love for the world was shown at his bloody slaughter on the hill of Calvary over two millenia ago and his ministry of teaching, healing and the miraculous in three public years scrupulously chronicled in the New Testament.  The divine wellsprings of God’s love then came forth to pour out through changed believers’ personal example and compassion in the ancient world. Widows and orphans were provided families, lepers cared for and the deepest needs of human hearts answered by the Gospel truth Jesus’ words preserved. That’s how a pagan world of darkness was changed after the Day of Pentecost by a church charged by His baptism of power to go forth and proclaim the revelation of Christ’s saving work on the cross. 


To hostile cultures in a world completely lost in its own deceptions, misery, pestilence and violence, the church lovingly sought to bear witness to what changed their own lives and in that same loving care, impacted the world forever. By the year 350, the original first band of 120 eyewitnesses to Christ’s life, death and resurrection would explode to well over several million followers. We won’t pretend it was all done perfectly and will readily point out that the same kind of fractious division and cultism we see today that shatters peace and unity also kindled its own strange fires back then. But it is undeniable that the early church’s history was drawn from innumerable sacrifices, generosities and networking all done to the glory of God and through the power of His Spirit’s love which is simply unmatched today by the anemic shadow of “modern” Christendom today.

To our jaded modern perspectives, it might seem sloppily sentimental to say, but it’s still the truth:  the foundation of God-given love is what is behind spirituality that transforms the world, incarnate in people whose lives truly have been changed by it.
Love indeed never fails.

Yet while this divinely bestowed love underlies true Christian faith as an Everest of spiritual bedrock, many churches of Cincinnati and beyond lamentably  failed to manifest this when the cancerous growth of Gladstone began to metastasize among them. We’ve seen far too many opportunities in which the prophetic ministry of a variety of church leaders there should have responded decisively to the heresy of Zac’s Neverland -
and did not. Upon hearing about its hateful doings, the churches, who were supposed to be pillars of truth and that divine love of God they sang so much about, instead checked themselves out of any corrective confrontation. 

The mitigatory influence which institutions such as the Northstar and Mariemont church leadership under Matt Massey and Denis Beausejour should have interjected was completely undercut by all manner of waffling, disavowal and ducking of responsibility. They could have sounded clear warnings to the body of Christ there after hearing of the hateful tidings going on there, but did little but wash their hands of it. These local ministries are just two of the most visible influences that could have made a difference and they are far from the only ones, when so many other churches, parachurch organizations and church leaders readily embraced them. 

At the very core of this unimaginably vast failure of these religious institutions is a calloused and studious attempt by too many of their leaders to ignore the pleas and refusal to heed the cries of so many individuals and families whose lives were devastated by the hatefulness of Zak and his cronies. Their malign antisocial tenor should have been recognized by any and every pastor and spiritual leader for what it was, and that Gladstone/Madison, despite its sanctimonious claims to the contrary, had become a spiritual ruin as wicked as the accursed place called Babylon in Revelation 18:2. It was showing itself to actually be “a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!”  Zac’s megalomaniac enterprise is one of both demonic and fallen human spiritual influences that is a ground zero for religious abuses almost beyond telling.

And the churches involved should have known what was going on. They should have known who they were giving sanctuary to. The studied pleading of ignorance by church leaders in Cincinnati to the concealed true nature gets no one off of a hook of accountability that all share in having some part of enabling and empowering their divisive abuses. 

Aggrieved or just plain angered ministry leaders will call this out and say "well, how could we have known?" Such defensiveness is exploded throughout the New Testament epistles of the apostles, where you can read of the networks of ministerial relationships among the earliest church leaders that were both accountable, transparent and honest. There were tensions, difficulties and even quarrels that had to be dealt with in the Christian communities across the many scattered cultures that they were seeking to reach with the Gospel.  And that was because there was a determination for their fellowship to be one of integrity based on genuine connections with one another.
If apostles living in primitive first century times hundreds of miles from one another could somehow maintain the relational unity that their letters reveal over years and distances shadowed by persecution and controversy, how can any of modern Christendom’s leaders truly be that ignorant of one another? 

The modern church has no such excuse today, with all of our ability to maintain immediacy and intimacy via media and modern travel, to claim such disconnection it wallows under now. Rather, it has been our own introspective and inwardly turned religious busywork and factionalism that almost fatally preoccupies us, as surely as it has in Cincinnati. The churches should have known who Zac Kijinski was and what his infantile imitation of Christian socialization really amounted to. The tribalism of the non denominational as well as the denominational has its own blinding and blunting impact upon discernment we don’t have time to unpack any further, but it certainly contributes most ominously to the spiritual poverty of our day, an austerity of the spirit so many want to find certainty and prosperity for. Cults know that quite well and fiendishly exploit this dire human need because of the church’s miserable devotion to its own institutional idolatry.

There are many churches and church leaders who came into alignment with Zac and his organization who should have known better and who actually did. While there were scattered voices over the years calling them and others to repent and flee Gladstone/Madison’s spiritual fornication, there were far more who allied themselves with his cult as just another household of faith that was just misunderstood unfairly. This clique took up offerings, defended his public image and ran interference for him at meetings - or - they removed themselves out of earshot of their doings and pretended they had no responsibility to speak out. But many church leaders to this day still laud Gladstone/Madison even in full knowledge of a controversial past they choose to not look into (223).

The so-called “spiritual fathers” of the area should have done what they could to apply and maintain an apostolic admonition and intervention in their activities to ensure no young man or woman be carried off into their excess - and how utterly did they fail their churches, the community at large and the Gospel of Christ. Some may have left off as soon as they “found out” and others expressed their “concerns”, but for all of them, a guilt is shared, no matter their degree of involvement. They should have known what was going on, and upon the first whispers of extremism about a group they had no governance over, should have not only investigated far more thoroughly by asking the hard questions and having the tough conversations that went there. Instead, one of the ugliest and harshest realities we’ve seen is that so many, so very many Christian churches, ministers and ministries readily accepted the Gladstone/Madison cult into their sanctuaries as an extension of the Body of Christ, where love was supposed to be winning ..

So where was the love there in the Queen City in this hellish situation? It has been silently asked again and again in every anonymous incidence of religious abuse that Gladstone commits in their “ministry” which had claimed so many victims. The local church essentially stayed silent, even aloof, from the plain truth about the cult. In so doing, they perpetuate an unholy “Christian”
omerta, a code of silence among the Christian society of the region that actually empowers evil by a deafening silence on every controversial twist and turn there. In so doing, they shout a message from their rooftops that is unmistakably clear, a politely civic moral ambiguity that only  serves to conceal a black evil in shining robes of virtue.  As an old truism well put it, silence before any face of evil is itself an evil which God will not hold us guiltless from. To not speak is to speak and to not act is to act.

So many church leaders to this day still laud Gladstone/Madison even in full knowledge of a controversial past they choose to not look into. removing themselves out of earshot of their doings and pretending they had no responsibility to speak out.

In what’s perhaps the worst example of this level of compromise,  one of these organizations going by the self-declared moniker of Pure Life in northern Kentucky recently sent enough new prospects to the Gladstone/Madison cult to fill three pews of their church house.(224) This came about even after the embarrassing conversations that we heard had took place at Pure Life in 2022 about its involvement with the cult, according to one anonymous individual who was in the midst of them and advised us of their ongoing internal wrestling. It would appear that PL leaders have decided to persist in remaining allied with Zac and his organization. They are the most visible figures of those Who Do Know Better - even after years of hearing scattered voices calling them and others to repent and flee Gladstone/Madison’s spiritual fornication.

On this basis, therefore, "Pastor" Steve Gallagher, Pure Life’s founder and chairman of its board has quite apparently come to believe Zac’s cult as just another household of faith that is misunderstood unfairly. Their vote of confidence has been to regularly and intentionally ship their program graduates to go live with Gladstone/Madison’s community. In so doing, Gallagher - like the good pastor Beausejour at the Mariemont Community Church - does what he can to boldly affirm Gladstone’s public image and thus run interference for them. His willingness to consign the fragile hearts and minds of PL’s recovery disciples to Gladstone’s high-demand structure is understandable however. It seems that their tacit approval stems from the mindset of a “Christian” leadership that follows its own species of high handed and abusive control for many years. Pure Life’s program is stamped with its very own strain of authoritarianism that doesn't make it to their promotional materials.

With a ministry ethos and philosophy of equally intrusive and abusive control, it has contributed to their acceptance or at least toleration of the extremes of Gladstone's practice. In such a lifestyle situation where an absolute hierarchy of institutional authority is based upon a residential recovery environment, the motivation of genuine compassion for a resident fighting relapse to their inner cravings for the mindset of addiction can tragically be lost quite quickly. When direction and discipline are asserted to uphold order even if it seems heavy handed, the balance can easily be lost - and has been. This “tough love” standard has to walk the razor's edge of caution to avoid committing the same grave errors regarding authority which people can so easily make in the name of God, speaking in God's name and judging those around them as if they were the Third Person of the Godhead.

Yet when you restrict a group of struggling and rebellious people entirely caught up in their own spiritual, sexual and addictive challenges, the answer of regimented lifestyles often doesn’t limit itself to simple spiritual exhortation to stick by house rules and PL’s example, like Gladstone, reveals they don’t stop there.
“Tough love” without authenticity becomes a travesty entirely alien to godly love. A dear friend and ex-member of another cult group, years after escaping it, sent their son there to PL in Kentucky for help in 2020. Within a week's time, he left, forfeiting a $1000 dollar application fee, because the program’s climate of shaming, coercion, forced confession of sins and manipulative manner of the counselors was virtually the same as the kind of abuses the ex-cult member and her family had experienced in their past time in a cult (225).  It reminded her and her son so badly of the past they’d been trying to put behind them only to see it emerge from a supposedly trustworthy source. This almost destroyed him, but he's somehow survived that and has moved on, yet with deeper healing needed for cuts into old scars he didn’t need reopened. 

The latest batch of new recruits for PL arrived in Cincinnati in August, 2023, a full year since the 2022 Spiritwatch podcasts on Gladstone/Madison had been widely circulated among audiences in Cincinnati that included many an anxious church leader whose public embracing of the cult now is a horrific personal liability to them. We know that PL was aware of what was said and have made their decision. The people at PL who were shipped off to Gladstone/Madison are graduates of their self-created and monitored residential treatment program in Northern Kentucky with the ambitious aim at spiritual and physical rehabilitation of people struggling with addictions. This is a process fraught with struggle and we’re not blind to the dire need of people in crisis to be confronted with truth and reality as they live out a daily struggle with addictions. But a Christian organization that freely resorts to this level of abuse is, qualitatively, no different than a cult.

To Pure Life leaders, their seal of approval of Zac and his chambers of horror there remains unbroken and even spit-polished. For them, Gladstone/Madison’s ruthlessness seems to resonate with them at several levels somehow, especially when they reportedly operate in the same authoritarian and abusive way among their program participants (226). Both groups see no problem in their brutalizing and objectifying manner they treat members and residents, especially if Pure Life’s vote of confidence approves the spiritual and mental shackling of submissive people just barely with their own heads above their individual recovery deep waters. How dare anyone, their legions of defenders will cry, to say otherwise except it be out of backbiting and jealousy!

When you see the shepherds of defenseless, helpless flocks become feral wolves proud of their wolvery, it doesn’t get any worse. When the friend becomes an enemy wearing a smiley face mask, it simply can’t be any darker. After a lifetime of battling cultism to find it being nurtured by churches it has fatally infected, this spectacle has profoundly haunted and infuriated me all of that time. And Zac and his elders continue to be aided and comforted by twisted people who claim to be Christian leaders who proudly reckon themselves above accountability to anyone for their “ministry.”

Yet again, as it should, the word of the Lord Himself brings the ultimate perspective upon the fierce rapacity of Gladstone’s false religion.

The prophet Ezekiel recorded almost three thousand years ago Yahweh’s utterance that speaks directly to this modern travesty of religiously abusive hypocrisy. Any supporter of Zac and Gladstone/Madison would do well to hear His view on their evildoing as well as what it implies for their support of his flagrantly sinful ways:

Ezekiel 34:1-10

The word of the Lord came to me:  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?  You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.”


“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”

This divine indictment of the most High upon the “shepherds” needs no further explanation other than to say that beholding the Almighty’s furious wrath upon these who mistreat their flocks is a fearful thing to behold - when He pronounces a “woe” upon a person or institution, it is always an oracle of His hand of judgment that is imminent, sure and for the world to behold. They will soon find it smiting their authority, their fortunes and their daily bread. He will use the wrath and the justice of an outraged populace to force change they never would call for.  The day has already begun, as we’ve seen it, and God’s will shall be done on earth, in Gladstone/Madison, as it is in heaven. 

Zac and his elders who boldly and shamelessly stood before the people of the region as spiritual shepherds years ago are squarely in the sight of this awful stroke of God’s wrathful hand that is soon to come. He has spoken it and it has begun to pass. And the blood of those souls starved and crushed by them will be required by Him in a way that will be undeniably seen as His shattering of their cruel yoke and His calling to them to take up His own. The shaking has already begun and the captives will somehow be freed. 

This isn’t
my oracle. It’s not the product of bigotry or jealousy - it is that of the Almighty Father seen in the tidings of His Son and brought down among us by His Spirit. It’s a spiritual determination that will be seen in the execution of divine power in the real world in real time.

And none of Peter Pan or his Lost People will fly on that day. A more pressing posture, that of bowing their knees in repentance, is hopefully one they will resort to.  The loquacity of Zac and his glib, pretentious shepherds staggers under a Biblical perspective showing their arrogance to be in the bullseye of God’s own judgment:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Proverbs 15:1-4

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Matthew 12:36-37

I am glad to hear consciences might actually be finally thawing within the ramparts of Christendom that have empowered Gladstone’s galloping heresy. Maybe they are finally being pricked by the plain thrust of the truth, sadly amplified by an undeniable history that cannot be sanitized any longer. It's too bad the Holy Ghost has to use the Internet with some of these people to open their eyes when the Bible isn’t enough. 

May every victim of Zac and his leaders' tender mercies be compassionately found, genuinely cared about, abject apologies given by genuinely repentant errant Christian leaders, and given every opportunity to get professional help since "the church" so completely failed to discern the situation. If there is any redemptive path out of this current housefire within Cincinnati's church world, it would take that direction in an immediate repentance for its' sin and an intentional humility of ongoing house-cleansing and victim-helping after a full disclosure of errant direction in the past over this cult's bloated comfort in their churches.

This old Mexican isn't holding his breath. But our ministry stands ready to help.
 Sola Deo Gloria. 

Epilogue: Zac’s Dying Garden of Delights

   In the old days at home the Neverland had always begun to look a little dark and threatening by bedtime.

In any flight, there’s a take off and a glide path to a landing.  Our expose's final approach to its completion must start with some final observations.

June Stickler’s personal reverie of her relationship with a member of Gladstone is all too familiar about the typical kind of lifestyle havoc that a member there can expect, and which many live by:

One individual expressed in more than a few private conversations with me of being confused, and not knowing what is true. What was being communicated within Gladstone and what the individual read in scripture and with personal thoughts conflicted. This person at one point went to an elder and shared the desire to leave community. The answer given was that not being certain about leaving just proved the need to stay. I shared at various times that there is always freedom to leave. I even expressed that if there was ever the desire to do so, I would help in whatever way I could. I was thanked, but a blank look came on this person’s face and said, “I don’t think it’s possible to leave.”

I watched this individual lose personal confidence, develop an eating disorder, agonize mentally with confusion, and become totally robotic to the commands of the Community. A dream by another community member declared that this individual would rise to a certain position by a stated date. Being convinced that the dream must be of God, this individual took on assignments in the work place beyond the individual’s capability which were failures and needed bailing out by others. Rather than see the “dream” was untrue, this individual felt like a complete failure for not being able to fulfill it.

I heard and watched this individual’s struggle with emotional, spiritual, and mental conflict over trying to discern what really is truth. With Gladstone leadership speaking with such authority and using the Bible, they completely parallelized this individual with fear and with brainwashing, in spite excelling through school with advanced degrees. The individual began in community before we started meeting with them, and is currently still there.

It is heartening to know that the unfailing love of God still calls out to such broken people with an invitation to come out of the shadows and into His light. There are so very many just like this person who live in a bleak existence laboring under the traditions of men like Zac, almost incapable of the dare to dream of liberty and life elsewhere for whom change is indeed still very possible.

But where there is life, there’s always hope. Where there’s slavery, the desire for freedom always beckons. The escape and recovery of so many from the cultic maelstrom called the Gladstone/Madison community is an irrefutable actuality the group refuses to acknowledge.  Yet those who have been interviewed for this expose and for our podcasts on the Gladstone/Madison cult are those who have studiously done all they can to get perspective and then a life of recovery from it. The lives of Christine, Scott, Samantha, Eric and many others are defiant  and – newsflash – didn’t go to hell or abandon a walk with God. They’ve found it tough rebuilding an existence destitute of so much, but they soldier onward, and proved abundantly that people who leave can do so and still make a good life, even rebuilding their own relationship with God apart from the idolatry of Gladstone’s attempt to take His place.


And leaving a place like Gladstone is a daunting challenge. The sobering reality of recovery from cultism is that it involves a long, hard and arduous road that is a trial almost as intolerable as being enslaved by it. To find a new grasp on the nature of one’s personal reality, to gain a perspective that liberates and empowers and to somehow find a redemptive and healing personal progress in a post-cult self-determination is a pursuit filled with struggle. Each person we’ve shared with who found their way out of Zac’s Neverland has borne witness to this. Yet each of them would readily testify that the process of regaining their ability to think, choose and follow their own consciences was well worth it. And the seeking a renewed faith in God that seeks no reference from the evil spirituality they’d been all but drowned in has been no less challenging, yet just as liberating. 


Healing from life in a Cultworld begins with understanding that the unbound love of God actively pursues all humanity everywhere. C.S. Lewis once called the arenas of struggle in this present world order (of which Gladstone is a part) the Shadowlands “where real life has not really begun.” Yet even so great an intellect and heart as Lewis regrettably overlooks a principle about human reality in his yet insightful comment. The spark of life that glimmers under a deluge of the deathly holds on as best as it can. And it is there, as Christ teaches, that all of the potential of the presence of the Kingdom of God truly exists  - in the faith and hope of those who seek it (Luke 17:21). Every former member of any cult I’ve ever counselled and shared with has found that, even in the midst of their most viscerally crushing doubts and fears about their existence, that hope for a new life still beckons them onward. Where life is there can always be found hope. It helps them keep moving one stride and even one footstep at a time - even if their faith or belief in God has been all but destroyed.

From there this journey toward the balance of personal autonomy and equilibrium is what all ex-cult members, including those from Gladstone/Madison, do their best to live out. Some find it profoundly difficult to keep this daily hope in their daily lifestyles. The path is torturous in trying to get a grip on reality in the midst of poverty and a decompression from the bends of the cult atmosphere they’d been under. However, those who’ve made the most progress have been those who seek help and not hide from it. And the input of Biblical counselors and professional therapists as well as the patient compassion of family, friends, employers and neighbors still reaches out: it’s these multiple guardrails that a sovereign Lord, seeking to bring His care to bear, extends to all.  We hope - we yearn - and pray daily that those who struggle to fan these flames of a reality beyond the environs of the Gladstone community are able to keep it kindled.

One of the most touching things I have found over my years of ministry to those in cultic movements which exhibit so much antipathy to those they’d call apostates is how many of those same hated “losers” departed from them and who still hold so much genuine affection, care and love for those they left behind. Some of the most heart-rending discussions with departed ex-members of Gladstone/Madison have centered around the profound longing and lament over their lost connections to those they left behind. There was and is love and affection for the relationships that, however tainted, were authentic places of personal encounter. Nothing has broken my old pastoral heart than to hear the genuine mourning over the broken relationships in the tone of our sharing. Despite the abuse, dysfunction and exploitation, friendships and fellowship did take place that somehow was a treasured part of their experience there.

In any gathering of human society, the joining of hearts and real connections ultimately always occur. We have no doubt that these are what keep so many clinging to Gladstone or within any other cult and what becomes one of the most burning of memories for the former members we have known. I can only hope that such love ultimately helps to loosen the grip of iniquity over those for whom it’s held out .. and that a day of reunion may come in which those who love can reason with those who have to distrust it.


Regardless which direction Gladstone/Madison may turn, it’s just as uplifting to hear another part of the oracle of Ezekiel about the destiny of the corporate existence of Gladstone/Madison.  How Yahweh Himself first looks upon the abusive leaders like Zac, Cebastian, Eric and others who rule like gods is starkly prophesied:


Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16


“For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. … I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

The oppressed can expect deliverance and healing under His personal search for them, while their oppressors will only find the decimation of God’s divine judgment a bitter diet of affliction. That’s not my doing but His declaration. How He chooses to do this is His doing. I’m just the messenger of His own tidings about the totalitarians abusively crushing their victims. Gladstone’s just one of the thousands of evil haunts He sees. I simply report what He decides and Zac and his cronies are, we know, already feeling the Lord’s bullseyes. Such healing may come through time, can only be helped by professional therapy, and meditation on the Scriptural precept we’ve shared here to show how corrupt the experience was, but it will come. The healing power that real community has is something that can bring it as well.

Remembering that God’s grace is extended to all in need of it, we know it’s possible for anyone to turn and repent and those sorely in need of it are the twisted leaders of Gladstone, with Zac at the top of that list. Repentance is the changing of a mind, the breaking of a will, the realization that a personal grip of sin will drag you into judgment of hellfire and has to be renounced once and for all. Unlike their own example, it is the indescribably patient kindness and mercy of God that leads the sinful to a personal moral inventory leading to their own repentance (Romans 2:4), a repentance that leads the sin-sickened to the ever present mercy of a forgiving God through the mediation of His Son as His Spirit draws them to consider. He will
lead, the Scripture says, but he will never force the issue - leaving the choice to earnestly follow that leading up to those who need to do so.

That’s where the pride and rebellion of a person in need of repentance can find their self-justification, their greatest snare and slippery slope into the abyss of judgment. It’s hoped that the errant leadership of Gladstone will find the convicting power of God working upon them. But the sensitivity to their own evildoing may have been fatally crippled by their repeated wrong doing that has hardened their consciences to it, as our review earlier in this work of 1 Timothy 4:2 sadly has related. But it can still happen. God is still merciful.

We do know that over the past year, several elders have left the community altogether, and it is the weight of conviction upon seared moral faculties that finally made the difference. It can indeed still take place - but we are not holding our breaths. With so much at stake, the pride of their cult thuggery weighs heavily about them, with Zac the greatest instigator of it all.

But we can still pray and I have and will continue to do so. God is answering prayer there even now ..


Under the pressure they now are presently feeling, partly due to our 2022 podcasts on Gladstone and due to the fact that their oppression just couldn’t be ignored any longer, there was a change of Gladstone/Madison’s social window dressing. A variety of reports have confirmed that rank and file Gladstone/Madison members suddenly found it quite easy in the past year to obtain permission to visit family. Furthermore, they went alone since no more chaperone accompaniment was required. They were granted free access to avenues of personal communication once more, enabled to call out to friends and family and even do road trips out to them. Suddenly, those old idols about family ties aren’t so bad anymore .. 

Zac’s evasive aversion to being personally confronted by challenges to his example is, of course, well known in Gladstone/Madison. It is ossified in their web statement “on controversies.” He makes it clear through the Madison Place Community Church website that he’ll never bother to answer for anything since everything that casts a critical eye upon them are, well,  just evil lies, intolerance and persecution of their sect that they maturely ignore:

Of course, vicious slander, pernicious rumors and terrible libel are nothing new, but now the situation has only worsened, with the most salacious accusations and slanders able to be easily leveled online with almost complete immunity. Even fellow Christians can say the most horrendous things about one another through internet forums and social media, in full sight of the world. Our little community of Christians has not been spared from this. .. while we are aware of some of the gossip and slander spread about our fellowship, we have made the decision together not to engage with it, or spend time defending ourselves.

The purpose of this writing is simply to explain to anyone who is looking for our “responses” to various gossip about our little Christian community why they will not find it. We want to set our eyes on the Lord, doing good to as many people as we can in this world, and we do not want to allow our lives to be embroiled in any meaningless strife. .. It is our sincere prayer that the Father would, by His grace, give us the humility to admit and change when we are wrong, the compassion and love to forgive when we are wronged, and the wisdom and light to walk wisely before him in these dark days.

Meekly assuming such a harmless, lamblike posture in the midst of their storms, even as they ease back on their manipulative control certainly helps them seem like they are seeing “the light” about their excess. But such moves as these, which Gladstone’s third party apologists might approve as “baby steps” of reform, are little more than optics, opportunities to visually sanitize their public image and past history of a stain that their denials can never scour away. It utterly fails to address the root causes of the endemic religious abuses among them which, as we’ve shared, are a foundation of Gladstone/Madison life deeply ingrained into the cult’s collective psyche.

The people there have been indoctrinated to accept as well as inflict abuse upon one another according to the social stratum within the group they abide in.  So these  “reforms” are yet the latest twitch of the Gladstone hidden curricula, more unspoken stop gap attempts to use a band aid upon a severed main artery of a fatally wounded sect that is now bleeding out. Zac and the elders can’t honestly engage their community about the systemic abuse structurally built into itself. It is impossible. Such intrinsically deep failings can’t be faced directly without raising an incredibly unacceptable inner tension within it, for which a nervous group governance is ill equipped to prepare for.

For the “elders'' are creations of their own warped environment. They still exert control over every phone, vehicle and penny of income coming in. They still intrusively block and filter emails, internet services and personal cell phones. Their business plans are still jealous idols, secular Molechs demanding to be fed. They are part of the problem, and even if some twisted faculty such as a conscience still functions to some extent internally enough to keep some of them writhing internally with cognitive dissonance over the massive hypocrisy they champion, they simply have no way to get traction up the slippery moral slope they are mired in.

ongoing homeschooling is keeping a new second generation of Gladstone/Madison children heavily conditioned to slavish obedience to their parents and the community (we haven’t adequately reviewed the uniquely poisonous situation of being married with family under that kind of Orwellian subculture simply due to lack of time). The verbal pistol whipping by Zac and his leaders of errant members may only last a few minutes instead of a few hours now, but it still goes down. The oppressed still remain seriously depressed behind their fixed smiles, and when sickness emerges, they might actually receive medical care and not find their physical ailment attributed to demons as much in the past.

And Zac’s life of play rolls on. He remains at the center of his personal empire with fawning sycophants all around him in his house. His grip upon the finances, the adoration and above all, the props to his narcissist’s ego tripping remains just as firm as ever. The old proverb about leopards not being able to change their spots comes to mind. In effect, Gladstone’s history has painted itself into a corner they can’t readily escape, so their “baby steps” thunder like those of a theatrical T. Rex’s
Jurassic Park strides.

The road ahead for Gladstone/Madison, colored by the hubris of its leadership’s arrogance will be a very messy one whether reforms come, or conflicted members leave the community (a reality that some long time elders’ departure over the past year has imposed on them). The existential land mines strewn by their leaderships for decades are affixed all around and will make rethinking their involvement almost insurmountably difficult, as one Redditor so starkly described it:

You see, for the longest time, Zak, Brian, Alex, Chelsie..the whole gang...had me believing that the only way to be a "true Christian" was to do it the way they were doing it. They had us believing that it was Us vs. Them. "Them" being the American Christian church; "Them" being our family; "Them" being our coworkers; "Them" being our friends from before The Community; "Them" being a college education; "Them" being society as a whole. The list goes on.

This is such a dangerous way of thinking, and you should know that it will possibly take years to heal from it. And that's not because there's something wrong with you. They will have you thinking that everything I just said is spiritual warfare and that this is hard evidence of the persecution you will face because you're following God so closely

Zak’s dramatics will color the conversations with the outside world and it should be understood and accounted for. If change is ever to come, this barrier to transformation has to be kept in mind.

The entire spectacle of Zack’s indoctrination of his Gladstone Neverland in doublethink is the great hundred pound stone of offense that hangs around all of their necks as they tread water trying to look like they walk on it. Doublethink is the terminally delusional state of mind they all labor under, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies to cover their deception. It is this deepfake about their deficits that they must repent of, make restitution and own a responsibility for that comes of a serious come to Jesus moment among them. We pray it comes but soberly know it may never.  

For that reason, we've made no attempt to seek dialogue with Zac or his eldership because of their proven history of complete evasion from real conversation. Their determination that all opposing perspectives concerning their work are simply a product of jealousy or meanspiritedness not worthy of their time proves it would be a waste of time. Yet we are still willing to do so. We leave it up to them to make the first move.

In closing this expose, it’s important to realize that you don't have to cuss to curse and once again, we turn to Scriptural precept to illuminate that principle:

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.


For every kind of beast and bird, reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.


With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?


Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.  James 3:6-12

We cannot overstate this: Gladstone/Madison is energized by the fickle, poisonable, easily perverted faculty of human affection and sentiment we call "love." It is not the Good News of godly love bestowed through the Gospel we see proclaimed there. It is instead a moody human love positive regard, in a place like that, can be turned in an instant to hateful, vicious criticism. It's inconceivable that Zac and the culture he created, which reflects the way he expects and wants people to act around him, can be as grossly jaded and pliable as that. But it is.

The Scripture is clear on this. What "love" and "Good Works" they do has an agenda. It may be sincerely delivered and even felt, but when it turns to serve evil and abuse, there's no longer anything "good" about it. Flying pastors out of India for sabbaticals may seem noble, but verbally abusing someone for an hour about a slight says much about what kind of spring flows out of them. What's in the heart always manifests in the tongue.

We’ve seen that the standard of Christian character described in 1 Corinthians 13 says all that we need to be aware of regarding a fouled spirituality running on the loose without Godly love. And most importantly, we are made plainly aware how the narcissistically feral nature of Zac and the elders' is starkly contrasted to the Biblical standard of character and practice found in Romans 5:5:

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The love of God comes from the Holy Spirit from above .. not from the cesspool of human affection Gladstone dresses up as the "waters of life."  As we’ve read, 1 Corinthians 13 keeps it real - for all of their religion and idealism, it is worthless in God’s economy and makes the Work Gospel of Zac’s creation nothing more than a stinking miasma of smoke and broken mirrors.

As absolutely crushing all of these tidings about the nature of Gladstone have been up to this point, it’s difficult to conceive how much more brimming with dysfunction this cult can be. As in any outsider’s point looking in, however, our perspectives are always limited. Only the avowed testimony by those who have been there have fleshed out this morbid skeleton we’ve erected here and what’s even more distressing about its creation is that it lives still today, a terrifying corporeal reality posed as the Body of Christ doing recovery work. It is an abomination far more ghoulish than any Frankenstein’s Promethean monstrosity. It is the foulest of evil being cloaked by the fairest visage of good.

And that visage of good is found in the deceptively self-effacing and playful figure and legacy of Zachary Kijinski, the cult leader that refused to grow up.


To this day, Zac retains his wild and untamed golden child status even as his inevitable slide into middle age fast approaches. Regardless, he is every inch an incarnation of Peter Pan, with all of his world around him the oyster he continues to have his slaves dredge pearls from for him to gloat over. His terminal narcissism is a black hole of radiant charm which wins him hearings all around. The Barrie estate would be proud for Zac to suit up for any stage play about the vain and self-absorbed Boy That Wouldn’t Grow Up.

But the Christian Church doesn’t need any more of his tribe skulking around it to charm offerings and influence that build up Zac’s Mighty Man Empire and not the invisible Kingdom of Heaven where Jesus alone is Lord.

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

Romans 16:17-18


Spiritwatch Ministries offers the humblest and most indebted of thanks to every single former member and individual involved in the Gladstone affair who approached us to offer invaluable information, documents, photos and interviews for this expose. Their willingness to speak through the deep fracturing of their lives by this cultic movement and their abiding concern for everyone, including Zac Kijinski, to shake off the cultic delusion was singularly touching and humbling. May truth, accountability and real healing come to all.
For more information about the Gladstone/Madison cult movement as well as contacts and resources for helping those who were castaway or walked away, please contact

Gladstone Exposed





(221) “Dune Messiah.” Frank Herbert (Ace, 1987), p. 211

(222) By definition, therefore, cultic mind control is a process of either unconscious or intentional change of an individual's behavior, thought, and emotional patterns through subtle, deceptive, and damaging means by unethical spiritual leaders who hold positions of trust and authority over them. It involves a process whereby an individual's means of independent thought is effectively controlled and even overcome by degrees, and an entirely different mode of thinking is adopted by them which is supplied by these leaders. It is this kind of power that leads men and women in cultic groups to accept as normal various kinds of abuse, outrages and privation that those outside the groups would recognize immediately for what it is.

This cultic mind control is achieved in a variety of situations and settings that are as diverse as they are common: they may involve social interactions from political groups to close-knit family relationships, all of which are found in civilizations world wide. Yet as seemingly unrelated as these settings may be, the operation of social dynamics intentionally aimed at controlling behavior and thought are found among them, and hence, the fundamental ingredients for mind control will also be present. For more information, click here to read our article on the subject.

(223) This is a partial list of the churches and ministries that entered into an established orbit around planet Gladstone/Madison: identified as “Our Ministry Partners” in a 2017 Gladstone meeting document, their involvement and assistance provided a certainly unintended yet irrefutable legitimization of their evildoing, even identifying their contacts there :


  • City Gospel Mission (Lucreta)
  • TeenChallenge West Virginia (Mike)
  • TeenChallenge Dayton (Rusty)
  • TeenChallenge Cincy (George)
  • Hope House (Geneo)
  • PureLife (Jahmaal)
  • Mariemont Community Church (Burr)
  • Church on Fire (Tyler)
  • Genesis Program (Josh)
  • Women of Alabaster (Scarlet)
  • City of Refuge (Kim)
  • City Church Cincinnati (Yvonne)

These organizations were hardly alone as other eyewitnesses, Gladstone documents and web postings from that timeframe have revealed: a partial list of churches, church leaders and ministries that worked alongside and who undiscerningly affirmed the work of Zak and others includes

  • Crossroads Church
  • The Lord’s Gym
  • Cincinnati House of Prayer
  • Equipping Ministries
  • Christian Life Center
  • Ofer Amitai
  • Focus Ministries
  • Melvin Kincaid
  • Back2Back Ministries
  • The Church of Cincinnati movement
  • Northstar Church - Matt Massey in 2012 taught with Zak at a “School of the Spirit” at MCC, in a bizarre rapprochement.

(224) Christine Hilton, interview 2023

(225) Some of the questions I asked of “Carrie” about her son’s involvement offer some harrowing answers, and are echoed almost perfectly in the doings of Gladstone/Madison:

At the Sunday service I visited, Stephen Gallagher was the preacher. For the first 30 minutes, we all sat in silence and men (including X) opened their Bibles and read. The men sat at the front but X could sit in the back with me since I was a guest. Pastor Ed (one of the head people) had a list of people in his hand who have lied and whoever has lied to their counselor needed to come up to confess.

Counselors would often challenge the men in session if they thought they were lies. My son felt a lot of shame and blame and guilt in those sessions. The counselors would listen to the lies in private counseling and then go tattle tale to the pastor.

The counsel not only involved being honest about sexual sin, but men had to be totally and completely clean shaven the first 30 days. X was clean-shaven the first 30 days so he took it upon himself to allow a beard to grow on day 31. The counselor got mad at him for not asking permission, so he had to be clean-shaven for more days. X did but felt forced.

In a church service I was not at, he was told to confess and he knelt down and did it in his head. He went back to his seat and was plotting his escape in his mind without being forced to stay. About 10 to 20 people came up to confess, then everyone went back to seat and sang for hours. .. It was the same at (the cult we were in) in that he had to be obedient to counsel there much like he had to be obedient to leadership in (the cult). There, he was spanked and admonished by leaders…when he was 10. He was totally freaked out by that last service and planned on running away in the middle of the night.

Shame is a huge factor because the focus was always on how bad people were and how they should confess their sins. When X would confess his sins about a relapse, the counselor would make him feel so bad about himself that he never wanted to tell him the truth after that. Everyone else felt that way too. If they didn’t confess, they would have write-off’s much like write off in school when you misbehaved. It the person refused the write-off’s, they were kicked out of the program.

All the men worked somewhere which took most of the day. Personal counsel time varied from week to week. When people would want to leave, they would put pressure on them to make them stay. Some people would leave almost as soon as they got there and lose the $1,000 non-refundable application fee. .. The ministries believed that the Bible all they needed.

All counselors were former participants of Pure Life Ministries. X’s counselor was only out of the PLM program for a year.
To be a counselor, all you had to do was be in the program as a participant for 1 year. None had formal training. (emphasis mine)

She called and asked me about PL in 2020 and I didn't even know they existed, but we’ve known of questionable organizations like theirs which exist across the nation (underscoring how cultism exists in recovery movements and reform schools, whether religious or not, but that’s a subject way outside the scope of our expose).

(226) “Gladstone Issues”, Ernie and June Stickler, unpublished document



Back To The Cultworld         Back To The Spiritwatch Home Page