NOTE: This article was written several years ago. But since that time, there have been even more reasons to keep this article posted. Bob and Gretchen Passantino of Answers in Action, the co-architects of the Stratford/Warnke slaughter, continued to attempt to pursue and ruin Lauren Stratford. I had two conversations with them, which
were truly enlightening and in some ways sobering as I realized how completely unable to comprehend the depth of the hurt that they caused – and continue to cause. Most recently, it has come to my attention that these people, who have been absolutely unmerciful in their attempt to “expose the truth”, are now themselves under intense scrutiny, ironically, for misleading people as to their OWN credentials! Which begs the question: If people who claim to be defenders of the truth cannot be truthful themselves, does that not bring into question the truth – and the MOTIVE – behind the Stratford/Warnke articles? If you are interested, go to:
http://www.cultlink.com/ar/passan.htm for the full and ongoing story.
I’ve seen a lot in my 23 years as a Christian. Ministries have come and gone, mighty leaders have fallen.
The church has never been good at getting along. The Catholic church persecuted Luther, Luther persecuted the Swedes. So it has always been, even until recently when the Baptists denounced the Charismatics and the Charismatics attacked back.
In the 80’s, major authors such as Constance Cumbey, Dave Hunt and Texe Marrs went after New Age dangers, even inside the church. The result was one bloody counterattack after another. Was anything accomplished – really?
Now, a new wave of witch hunters is here. Only, they aren’t going after witches. They’re after Christians, but not just any Christians – they’re attacking Christians who have dared to expose the occult. Does that sound peculiar? It should. Their agenda is not to burn heretics at the stake, but to destroy careers, credibility and reputation with the seeming tenacity of a pit bull. Most disturbing, they have thus far gone totally unchallenged.
The Cornerstone Offensive
It began around 1990 with an extensive article written by Bob & Gretchen Passantino and Jon Trott in Cornerstone Magazine, the official publication of Jesus People USA, or JPUSA. It was a full scale, devastating attack on the testimony, character and ministry of Lauren Stratford, author of SATAN’S UNDERGROUND. The book was a detailed and deeply disturbing account of victimization by organized satanists and child abusers. It was followed up by a wonderfully healing book, “I KNOW YOU’RE HURTING”. Then, Cornerstone dropped the bomb with their written attack on Lauren Stratford.
I was in a difficult position. Since 1987, I have been a key figure in the battle against criminal satanic activity as a trainer and consultant for law enforcement agencies, probation departments, rehab hospitals and educators. In 6 years I have spoken to dozens of groups, including law enforcement academies, government agencies, drug agencies, homicide conventions and therapeutic professionals. In addition, I have worked first hand with teen devil worshipers, been to funerals of kids who were
caught up in satanic groups and were “sacrificed”, and most painful, I have worked first hand with the child victims of organized criminal groups operating under the guise of satanism. To me, and my associates, the existence of criminal satanism wasn’t speculation. It was fact. Along the way, I found Lauren Stratford’s book. Every word rang true. We began a correspondence. When I received Cornerstone’s expose, I was sickened. I had an obligation to read it objectively, because the church had been fooled before with false prophets like John Todd. I had to know the truth.
The article raised questions. Still, I knew the media well enough to know how quickly they can find “sources”, quote “insiders” and turn it into “truth” even though it isn’t, or at the least can’t be proven. Could I trust them? After all, Cornerstone was an established magazine that went back to the roots of the Jesus revival of the 70’s. Who hasn’t heard of “JPUSA” or their house band, “REZ”?
I stood back and prayed hard. I decided to talk with Lauren by phone. I did what 1 Corinthians 13 said: “Love believes all things”. In other words, regarding a brother or sister in Jesus, they ARE innocent until proven guilty, and I owed it to the truth to hear her side. I listened, I heard her reaction, her words, her heart.
Then, I reread the article. Many serious questions arose. Why did they pick Lauren? I was disturbed that the tone of the article was neither objective nor fair, but it was in truth degrading in a condescending way, and cruel. The artwork was especially disturbing. It was dark, demonic, little different than the bloody satanic drawings of teen satanists I had met. Why?
I wrote a response. I received no reply.
Time passed. I met Lauren, and she agreed to help my cousin and her kids who, unfortunately, had been touched firsthand by the awful nightmare of ritual abuse Cornerstone said didn’t exist. One thing I concluded: If Lauren was a phony, she was an absolute expert. She gave my family hope and love. She was kind, compassionate, loved Jesus and loved His Word. The Lauren Cornerstone wrote of and the one I knew were worlds apart. Something was very, very wrong.
At the very least, I couldn’t any longer support the idea that God was behind an expose that had in one move could so deeply wound a servant of our Lord Jesus like it had Lauren.
More time passed. My work put me right in the middle of a deluge of crimes committed in the name of satan, everything from murder to child rape to torture and everything in-between. I saw photos of a “sacrifice” of a woman and her 6 month old baby too brutal to describe, not done by a “crazy psycho” but by a well-respected professional deeply enmeshed in organized satanism. I held a 5 year old in my arms who had been brutally abused by adult satanists. I corresponded with an inmate who had murdered for satan at 15, but before that, at age 11, had been raped in an organized ritual conducted by adults, including military men. My file cabinets filled with documents. No one could see what I have seen and ever buy the pathetic lie that it’s all just “satanic panic”.
There They Go Again
Yet, to my shock, shortly after Lauren’s ordeal, Cornerstone was on the offensive again. They began printing articles to disprove the existence of satanic abuse and to write off victims as the product of overactive imaginations and therapists’ overzealousness. Then, the Passantinos began getting plenty of air and print time with groups like Christian Research Institute to continue their campaign of gross disinformation and ridicule of Lauren Stratford.
I was outraged. Knowing what I knew, it was the same to me as White Supremacists saying the Holocaust never took place. Worse, they did it in the name of “defending the faith”.
I wrote to the late Dr. Martin’s CRI director, Hank Hannegraff, with a carbon copy to the Passantinos. No reply came, nor a response to my offer to tell the other side. What was going on here?
Subsequently, Christian publications nationwide began printing similar attacks on the so-called “satanic panic”, all quoting the same “experts” – the Passantinos, Jon Trott, and unfortunately, the most often quoted, Ken Lanning of the FBI. He is the “expert” on satanic crime for the Behavioral Science department at the the FBI. Unfortunately, His mind appears to have been made up before he ever got into the arena that satanic crime was nonexistent. He has publicly stated that far more people have died in
the name of Christianity than satan. His agenda appears to be to disprove the real experts on satanism rather than investigate the possibility of the existence of a satanic criminal network.
I continued to pursue having these publications let our side be heard, without success.
The most disturbing aspect of this for me was that Christian authors and magazines were now parroting the same party line of denial that every occultist, every witchcraft group and every public satanist was proclaiming! They quoted the same experts, used the same weak arguments and blamed the same sources for the “satanic panic”. More, they too were seeking to discredit anyone who claimed satanism was a threat, just as the “other side” did!
The First Attack
Cornerstone had already dropped their bombs on Mike Warnke. I knew about it beforehand. I read it when it came out. I could only weep. It was like reading the National Enquirer. I wept for Mike, for his kids, for the thousands of kids he’d led to Jesus.
I also knew it was time to write this. Time has confirmed that, as I realized not one Christian publication was going to raise a voice to protest this practice of destroying people’s lives and ministries.
I’m not going to defend Mike. He’s in God’s hands now. I pray for him, and I love him. I know that “but for the grace of God, go I”. I thank God for him and for the lives he’s touched. But at issue here is not whether Mike sinned or lied or to what degree. The issue is why the attack came on him and Stratford and anyone who attempts to help victims of satanic abuse, and why no one was asking why.
Before I set out to ask those crucial questions, I need to bring into question the spiritual and scriptural qualifications of at least two of the players in this horrible conflagration, Bob and Gretchen Passantino, the architects of the Stratford attack and helping hand in many of the written and media denials of “satanic conspiracy”. Shortly after the Cornerstone article, the Passantinos released WHEN THE DEVIL DARES YOUR KIDS, a poorly researched attempt to downplay satanism written as a “help”
for parents and teens. It contains the following quote which to those of us who understand the true demonic nature of all occult practices can only be seen as an apologetic defense for the occult:
“…Most contemporary witches do not practice all of the occult arts denounced in the Bible and are understandably offended when well-meaning but misinformed Christians dismiss their beliefs with a few trite references to inapplicable scriptures….Contemporary witches are generally positive, gentle,
creative, and respectful of others and of nature. The contemporary witchcraft system…doesn’t encourage violence, destruction, criminal behavior, or divisiveness within families. Many witches are positive assets to their communities, responsible citizens, good employees, and devoted family members. The average teenager who dabbles with the goddess religion is at little risk for destructive occultism.” (Page 58) (Emphasis mine)
Now, you may think that’s misinformed, but relatively harmless. Not when you understand that it is the “white light” of occultism, crystals, Ouija boards, Tarot, etc. that is in fact more spiritually destructive to curious, vulnerable kids who can easily use this quote to justify their participation in “good, earth-centered magic”.
But, that’s not the worst of it. Imagine my shock when I received a pro-witchcraft publication with the following from a review of the Passantino’s book: “At last a Christian book on the occult I can recommend! The Passantinos have continued their fine work they showed when they researched the claims of Lauren Stratford…with this excellent work on young people and the occult…THANK YOU,
PASSANTINOS!”(From Cult Watch Response, Vol. 4 #1)
I have since received other pro-occult publications with similar endorsements for Cornerstone, the Passantinos and other Christian “cult apologists”. If this doesn’t disturb you, if it doesn’t make you question the validity of the expertise of the ones we have accepted as experts, then you simply don’t understand. To me, it is as disturbing as the pro-abortion lobby thanking Christians for not opposing abortion. Yet, these are the ones many consider the Christian source for the truth regarding satanism! If this doesn’t bother you, it really should.
Is it a coincidence that at the same time Cornerstone et.al. were printing their devastating articles here, a massive secular backlash was taking place far overseas in Great Britain in the wake of horrible ritual abuse cases which were almost identical to ones here? Says writer Rosie Waterhouse: “…there has never been a proven case of ritual abuse…the phenomenon was entirely the work of fundamentalist Christians who had imported bad research from the United States…” (The Making of Satanic Myth, published in Independent Sunday.) Like the Passantinos, Waterhouse was grossly misinformed. She continued, “There have been police investigations across the United States, in Canada, the Netherlands, and now in Britain. They have produced no evidence. No bodies, no covens, no underground tunnels, no animal carcasses, no bloodstains. Nothing.” Like the Passantinos, Waterhouse refused to speak to anyone whose views opposed her own. For the record, tunnels with pentagrams etched on the walls were indeed found beneath Nottingham, just as the children said, just as the Mc Martin children claimed and were later verified by former FBI expert Ted Gunderson. We must ask ourselves: Who stands to benefit most by the patent denial of the existence of criminal satanists? Certainly not the children whose future may depend on us being willing to act to investigate their claims.
1. Are these written attacks on Christian ministers and ministries right? Are they scriptural?
2. Why do the writers only go after former occult practitioners and victims?
3. Should we support those who are praised and supported by the occult world?
4. To whom are JPUSA, Cornerstone, the Passantinos, etc. accountable for such a monumental responsibility as taking down and publicly disgracing those they do?
5. How much money is being spent on such enormous investigative ventures?
6. Why are they totally unwilling to tell the other side?
I offer the following observations:
1. The Bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Cornerstone, et.al. have instead exposed people’s sins, not scripturally, but in the presence of the secular press hungry to find dirt on evangelicals. The only difference between what Cornerstone did and what the secular press did, is that Cornerstone paid for and did all the work for the secular press. That’s why Paul said not to go to court against a brother in a worldly court. It gives the world a reason to mock, and to reject our message.
2. Although they justify their attacks as “defending the truth”, it bears no resemblance to Biblical defense. Paul did not hire investigators to harass family members of heretics for an interview. He did not assassinate people’s character. And he did not go to the Jerusalem Post to air his allegations.
But, they may say, if their testimony is invalid, they need to be exposed! Not says Paul: “What, then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; in that I rejoice, and will rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18) Yes, Paul did name people – false prophets. There’s a time for that.
However, being false prophets is something not even Cornerstone dared accuse Stratford and Warnke of, because they are not. And, if a “false testimony” gains ground in the church, it merely shows our gross lack of discernment, and we shouldn’t need an expert to find out the truth. We need discernment, not tabloid exposes in the name of Jesus, and certainly not for public display.
3. The overwhelming support the occultists have offered Cornerstone and associates should in itself cause us to withdraw our endorsement. The scriptures are very clear about occult practices. Paul angered occult merchants because he exposed the demonic forces behind their practices. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11) Isn’t there something really wrong, when those attempting to expose occult lies are being destroyed by people
whom the occult community praises? The Passantinos uplift witches as “positive”, never confronting the demonic power behind witchcraft. Can you imagine the occultists actually thanking Paul? I don’t think so!!
4. Cornerstone and friends are welcome to attack anyone they wish. Unfortunately, if they claim to be defenders of the truth within the church, they should be willing to allow equal access to them, to be held to that same standard of truth they claim to uphold. However, they are inaccessible. JPUSA is a highly insulated, family run business and virtually immune from inquiry. Perhaps before anyone prints anything further of theirs, we should require an accounting of these matters.
5. If anyone takes even a cursory glance at the extensive interviewing done for the Stratford/Warnke articles, you can surmise that the cost for such ventures had to be enormous. We should ask (a) Out of which ministry account did these funds, used to dig up so much dirt, come from? After all, they went to incredible lengths to track down ex-wives, friends, family, court records, background searches and exact accounts of ministry incomes and divorce settlements. That kind of dirt is expensive. And (b), No
matter where the money came from, should we ever support anyone whose sole purpose seems to be publishing every bit of scandalous news they can find on a brother or sister in Christ, especially with the secular press watching?
(6) Regarding such a serious issue as satanism, and with so many credible law enforcement, probation, therapeutic, medical and educational professionals willing and equipped to tell the other side, why is the Christian media not giving them a fair hearing? Why?
A few closing thoughts. First, I’m not ready to believe Cornerstone and friends are closet satanists or witches. I grudgingly grant them sincere motives, however twisted, dangerous and misinformed their point of view. They are beyond question not experts on satanic crime. However, I will say that at the least they are unwitting pawns and spokesmen for occultists, and a great asset to those who worship satan and practice occult arts. It is too similar to the widespread support much of the German church
offered to Adolph Hitler before they knew the truth.
Secondly, we can never forget satan’s #1 job according to Revelation 12:10 is to accuse Christians. The expose of Warnke and the attempt to discredit Stratford, true or false smacks of the same smug pride and callous accusation that is so like satan, so unlike our Lord. Are these accusers willing to undergo the same humiliating public exposure of the intimate details of their lives, sins, weaknesses? Are any of us? God forgive them: To the words of our Lord, “Let he who is without sin cast the first
stone” came the whistle of a rock in the air with the names of Cornerstone and friends, landing with a sickening thud into the hearts of two of our own. Does that sound like Jesus to you?
Finally, we should not be afraid of the truth. Neither should we use it to terrorize others. We need to turn from the personality war to the facts. Is satanic crime real? If so, to what extent is it affecting our land? Some of the facts, as I’ve learned firsthand, are very real and very unpleasant. But we cannot fight a spiritual war without the facts. “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. (Hosea 4:6) The entire campaign against those seeking to expose the occult for what it is, seems nothing more than satan’s
attempt to focus on people rather than an issue demanding a serious Christian response.
God grant us the boldness to seek out the facts without fear. “…the honor of kings is to search out a matter”. (Proverbs 25:2a) If it proves no satanic criminal network exists, well, then at least we’ve thoroughly sought the truth. But if it indeed exists, if children are being tortured, raped and abused in the name of satan, if there truly is a threat and we choose to live in denial and only listen to unproven one course experts, then we stand guilty before God for refusing to hear the cries of the innocent.
For the record, Lauren is doing well. She remains a true – and trusted – friend. For the record, we should deal with these issues soon. Cornerstone has just released its latest attack on yet another servant of God.
Dr. Gregory R Reid