Alongside several members, the two leaders of an extreme Christian sect based in New Mexico have been arrested on charges of kidnapping, child abuse and child sexual abuse. Deborah and James Green are being held on a $500,000 bond for their role in what experts call a “destructive cult,” the Associated Press reports.
Inflecting their ministry with a hierarchy borrowed from the military, Deborah and James Green built a commune in Sacramento, California, eventually drawing around 50 members to the four communal-living residences that made up Free Love Ministries.
Things went south, both literally and figuratively, after a former member, Maura Alana Schmierer sued the organization, saying she had been locked in a shed against her will and made to relinquish the parental rights to three of her children. Schmierer was awarded over $1 million in compensation, but the Greens, along with their followers, fled California, eventually turning up again in New Mexico.
There, the spiritual leaders founded the Aggressive Christianity Mission Training Corps, an offshoot of Free Love Ministries occasionally referred to as the Shim Na Ra Holy Tribal Nation or the Life Force Team.
The couple took on military-style pseudonyms – James is referred to as General Jim, Deborah is General Deborah. There are Brigadier Generals (including James Green, seen in this Youtube video railing against the iniquities of Christian rock music), Commanders and Cabinet Secretaries, all led by the two Generals who, in 1979, began receiving prophetic messages from God.
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Loosely based on the organizational structure employed by the Salvation Army, the Aggressive Christianity Mission Training Corps, often described as a cult, believes that the human race is speeding toward a final showdown between good and evil, a battle only Aggressive Christianity members will have the good grace to survive.
A summary on the group’s founding reads like a propaganda pamphlet from North Korea, replete with tortuous repetitions:
“In 1979 James and Deborah Green entered the prayer closet and God was there. Speaking to them prophetically, He made it clear that He was raising up an army – His Spirit army. True, there had been other armies claiming the Lord’s name, but this was something new. It was by the prophetic Word of the Lord that the Aggressive Vision came to be. Believing what God had said, the Generals took it to heart and began to give their lives so they could live their lives to fulfill the vision. True to His Word, after many years of seeking and sacrifice, determination and hard work, God has brought into existence an army.
And that’s just the beginning. Over the years God has expanded and embellished the vision, bringing others into the revelation as well, until today God’s Holy Tribal Nation shines like a beacon on a high mountain, lifting others up and calling people around the world to give their lives in His service. Yes, God is raising up His army, an army of fearless, obedient disciples–The Army That Sheds No Blood! This is how the Aggressive Vision came to be. The Word of the Lord shall never fail!”
In reality, the Aggressive Christianity Mission Training Corps’ practices, prosecutors say, was far from bloodless.
Numerous missives containing virulent anti-Semitism and anti-gay screeds are freely-available on the group’s website, but the Aggressive Christianity Mission Training Corps’ members aren’t being prosecuted for their extreme beliefs.
When 13-year-old Enoch Miller died (likely due to an untreated infectious disease), the Cibola County Sheriff’s Office began to investigate the group’s Fence Lake compound. Their investigations revealed a series of troubling allegations from former members.
The Greens and other members of the ministry treated young children as “slaves,” former members say, beating adolescents and forcing them to work. Several ex-followers claim to have been sexually abused, including one woman who says she was raped four times a week, beginning at the age of seven, by Deborah Green and her son-in-law, the aforementioned Peter Green.
The woman was smuggled from Uganda as a young child and quickly became Deborah Green’s personal slave, NBC News writes. She was “whipped bloody for the most minor of infractions with the equivalent of cat-o-nine tails.” Members were told they had to be “hard on the children to raise them up to be Christian soldiers,” Maura Schmierer said in an interview with NBC.
Driven by fears of child abuse, including reports of outrageous sexual misconduct from former members, law enforcement officials raided the compound, eventually arresting the Greens and four other members who were found attempting to smuggle 11 children out of the area.
Those followers have now been charged for failing to obtain birth certificates for their children. Criminal prosecutors say Deborah discouraged her followers from getting birth certificates in an attempt to hide the children from New Mexico authorities. As for Deborah and James Green, both “prophets” face 18 criminal charges a piece, including kidnapping and child abuse.
Peter Green has been charged with 100 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child. A series of new charges were recently added, in which prosecutors accuse the Greens of participating in the scheme to hide children and tamper with evidence.
All of the arrested members have pleaded not guilty; Deborah and James Green insist, the Associated Press writes, that “they’ve done nothing wrong.”