I got the article below via email and it really touched a chord in
me. When I think of my time in COBU and some of the things I did that I am
now ashamed of, I have resolved that the bottom line is my taking personal
responsibility for my actions. I also know had it not been for the
environment...one in which it often took every ounce of energy to keep my
sanity, sometimes feeling like my head was between two cymbals; there was no
time to be by myself to think, rest, search God on my own and have the quiet
to hear his voice or to question. Without all of those things I probably
would not have done some of the things that I did. While the member of this
group is faced with actions way more severe than my own, I cannot help to
think how different he would have been had the group not gotten a hold of him.
God only knows the jumbled up condition of his mind. I think about the
times in COBU when we would get into what I called the "gung-ho spirit" (I
called it that when I was in since I had a relationship in the group, I often
was the target of that spirit). I would notice that when brothers and
sisters got real gung-ho collectively they would be like a steam roller.
There would be so much fervor, but it was more like a lynching than anything
Christian. Of course, Stewart, by setting us up to be against each other in
how we tried to prove in front of him that we were faithful or in how he made
insinuations about our spiritual condition, was behind it, but he did it in
such a way that it looked like it came from some deep evil within our own
hearts--that was really sick and manipulative on his part. In that
atmosphere, no matter how much God is talked about, there is no room to be
able to hear God's voice for oneself. Has anyone ever read Lord of the
Flies? I find it chilling how much it reminds me of how we treated each
I'm saying all of this because I'm thinking of this man. I wonder what
kind of environment he was in. How much sleep did he lose, how was his diet.
Was he constantly under siege by his fellow members. While his actions are
wrong, and it is right he be punished under law for them, who knows how far
he cracked under the pressure of the group. I believe that needs to be taken
into account. In different courts here in the U.S. mitigating circumstances
that arise out of cult involvement and undue influence are often taken into
consideration when sentencing someone. There was a case in Ohio that a man
killed a family at the command of a cult leader and pressure by the group.
While he was found guilty, the reason he got life in prison and not the death
sentence was because of the circumstances under which he committed the crime.
Hope everyone doesn't mind my rambling, but it is a sad situation and
brought to my mind many of the inner wrestlings I've had when it comes to my
time in COBU and how it was between us. Keep this person in your prayers.
Cult member may face hanging
Monday, May 31, 1999 Published at 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Twelve died in the gas attack in Tokyo in 1995
By Tokyo Correspondent Juliet Hindell
A member of the Aum Doomsday Cult could face the death penalty after
prosecution lawyers recommended it at his trial. Masato Yokoyama is one of
the many cult members on trial for his part in the sarin gas attack, which
killed 12 and injured thousands more on Tokyo commuter trains in 1995. But
this is the first time that the prosecution has asked for the death penalty
for a cult member for taking part in the gas attack.
Masato Yokoyama is accused of releasing sarin nerve gas on an
train. As no one on the train he was riding was killed, the decision to ask
death penalty is surprising. But lawyers said that did not mitigate the fact
that he had taken an active role in the fatal attack. If he were convicted
he would face hanging. About five people are executed in Japan each year.
Fear of Aum growing
The Japanese government has become increasingly concerned recently
that Aum may be regaining its former strength. A government committee met on
Monday to discuss how to crack down on the cult. Cabinet ministers have
already expressed regret that the cult was not banned outright after the
sarin incident under the anti-subversive activities law. A panel of experts
ruled in 1997 that Aum no longer posed a threat to society and therefore the
law could not be used. The government is now considering revising the law so
that it can be invoked against Aum.
In recent weeks several of Aum's sites, including computer shops,
raided by the police. Aum is known to be actively recruiting and raising
funds through its computer sales. However, the cult says it is the victim of