Faith Assembly really has a story to tell, and I hope that your experiences can be part of the story that I tell.
The most common reaction that I get from people reading my Faith Assembly blog is, “Wow, you must be bitter.” No doubt Hobart E. Freeman was an evil man, intentionally or not.
For years I was bitter, but hardly any bitterness remains at all. Why? Well, my father and mother, before they got into the cult, and before I was born, were attending Indiana University. He was pursuing a pre-med degree and she was pursuing a nursing degree.
Had they not gotten wrapped up in this cult, I probably never would have been born! What luck for me, whatever turn of events that it took, that I actually was born, against all odds! I am fairly certain that had they stuck to their college plans, and not gotten involved in the cult around age 19, I never would have been born, when they were 21.
So do I think that I was raised in an environment of child abuse? Absolutely. Did it take years longer for me to mature to the level that most people are at at age 25? No doubt about it. Was I emotionally unsound enough to not excel at college, and to even turn down 20 full free ride scholarships? Sure.
But, I am of good cheer, and bitterness is nearly exclusively a thing of the past. I exist, I live, I dealt with my past, and now I’m planning my future. What luck to be alive! What luck to be born! What luck to still survive, and what luck to live in this technologically advanced age. And finally, what luck that I have some ability to contribute to the scientific world, and what luck that I took an interest!
I live in Sarasota, FL, where it’s sunny and 70 degrees almost every day of the year, and I am ecstatic to be alive!
Info and Forums
Wikipedia – The most comprehensive, fact based history
Tomax7 – Thoughts from a former attendee, and current Faith Assembly apologist
Feedback to Tomax7 by former members, as edited by Tomax7 – Tomax7 has not posted some of the negative feedback that I have requested that he post, so don’t take the list as all inclusive.
01-08-15: Tomax7 responded to my assertion that he did not post my negative feedback:
Well it is sad when people who are bitter post that they are not.
I for one don’t recall you ever asking me to post negative posts, I post them as they arrive in my mailbox. HOWEVER if they are slanderous, swearing, and just plain old bitter, no, those (all 2 of them) I don’t post. If I didn’t post yours, possibly it is one of those two. I remember someone going off on the deep end, so please tell me you are more intelligent that that.
Oh, would be nice to get credit for my pictures you have on your blog. Something about Integrity that your blog is missing.”
I’ve since added credit to the pictures. Thanks Tom!
Faith Assembly Forum – A forum run by people that still believe the teachings of Dr. Hobart E. Freeman
This forum is dedicated to Jesus Christ and to serving Christian believers
and most specifically, those who were a part of the previous incarnation of Faith Assembly and it’s various outreaches under the direction of Hobart E. Freeman, Th.D.
Factnet.org – A less biased forum about Faith Assembly
Faith Ministries and Publications – Order cassette tapes of sermons and books written by Dr. Hobart E. Freeman here
Two Controversial Religious Sects From The 1970’s Have Impact On Noble County -Unknown date article by The News-Sun in KPC News archives. Faith Assembly is the second religious sect discussed in the article
The result was that more than 100 deaths among sect members were attributed to a lack of medical attention.
My family was friend with the Ricks, and I knew their oldest son, Michael, quite well.
Another Noble County couple, Michael and Dianne Ricks, pleaded guilty in April 1991, also in Noble County Superior Court, to one count each of neglect of a dependent in connection with the April 8, 1990, death of their son, John David Ricks. He died of bacterial meningitis after developing a fever and a common respiratory illness five days earlier.
More than 103 deaths occurred among Faith Assembly members in various locations as a result of following their religious beliefs, according to AFF, a Bonita Springs, Fla.-based nonprofit, tax-exempt research center and educational organization that studies psychological manipulation and cultic groups.
Hobart Freeman: Mystic, Monk or Minister – 4 page 1983 article in the Times-Union by John J. Davis
Refusing Treatment Brings Death In Sect – November 27, 1982 article in the Free-Lance Star by John M. Doyle
Death Joins Choir At Indiana Church – November 28, 1982 article in the Milwakee Journal from AP and UPI
Indiana Faith Healing Couple Convicted In Child’s Death – September 12, 1984 in the Lakeland Ledger from the Associated Press
Parents Convicted – September 8, 1984 Herald-Journal article from AP reports (2nd article in National Digest section)
Faith Sect’s Beliefs Tied To 88 Deaths – September 29, 1984 article from Eugene Register-Guard from AP
Two Sentenced In Baby’s Death – October 30, 1984 article from the Star-News from AP, NYT News Services
Faith Healers Convicted Of Child Death – August 30, 1984 article in the Lewiston Daily-Sun from AP
88 Deaths Documented in Faith-Healing Sect – September 26, 1984 article in The Fort Scott Tribune from AP
This post was edited 7-26-11 to add the Children of Faith Assembly Facebook Group link and information.
Churches that Abuse, by Ronald M. Enroth discusses Faith Assembly and Hobart Freeman, particularly Chapter 9. Search the pdf for “Faith Assembly” and “Hobart Freeman” to read the discussion.
Here are some pictures on the web relating to faith healing cult Faith Assembly, led by Dr. Hobart E. Freeman, located in Noble County, IN, near North Webster, IN.
I originally posted this on Factnet.org several years ago. Please pardon the grammar, as I left it largely intact.
Parents joined in ’74, I was born in ’75
2 years old:told my grandpa that when he got saved, he would not drink beer anymore or need to wear his glasses. Horrified the grandparents, heh.
3 years old:
got ‘saved.’ Was the happiest day of my life at the time. Ran around in the yard celebrating barefoot till I stepped on a thorn. Ouch, damned satan! I have very vague memories of the glory barn in this era.
5 years old:
Went to stay at the Nei’s house while my mom had a baby. I was so excited too have a new brother or sister. When I came home to see the new baby, I found out it ‘went to be with Jesus.’ The baby was kicking 2 hours b/f birth and was born strangled by umbilical cord
6 years old:
started 1st grade at public school with ear infections in both ears. I’d had these for 2 years, and my ears would constantly ‘run.’
I took a handkerchief to school and wiped them when no one looked. The teacher caught me once and sent me to the nurse. Somehow they believed that it wasn’t too bad when I told them that I wasn’t sick (because I was healed, but it just hadn’t manifested itself yet, but I didn’t explain that to the noob teacher.
At school, several times an hour, I’d close my eyes and repent. I wasn’t always sure I had sinned, but I was super paranoid about dying w.o repenting for last sin sinned and therefore going to hell. My teacher asked me what I was doing once, and I told her the truth.
For instance, I knew that if I picked my nose, since my mom had told me not too, and since ‘Honor thy father and mother….’ that this was a sin.
I was about as guilt ridden as a kid as anyone could be IMO
General note. Since about age 3 had horrible vivid nightmares about the demons and demonic forces the Freeman talked about. I was scared to death. I have never had happy dreams since, and most are scary. I’ve done some research and found that this is not too uncommon, so I’m not really blaming the church/HEF here.
A girl on the schoolbus said ‘f*ck.’ I had never heard the word before, so I asked my dad what it meant. I got whipped for asking and was told to repent.
It was about this time that I got an ‘S’ for satisfactory on my report card. I ws scolded for not getting an S+. This pattern continued for any A-‘s and especially for B+’s.
9 years old: I was heartbroken that I wasn’t allowed to play on my 3rd grade basketball team. I was the 2nd best player in my class (knowing from gym/recess), but was not allowed to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
This is when I considered telling on my parents to the authorities (about my ears, still running/infectious as ever, hearing pretty bad too).
Had I known at the time that my grandparents would have gotten custody, I would have turned them in so that I could play basketball. I was just a scared 3rd grader at the time so I never followed through.
However, this was the changing point. I ‘knew’ that it was okay to play basketball just like I ‘knew’ that 2+2=4. Logic was kicking in and I slowly realized how illogical my parents beliefs were, but this was the infancy of that.
Such was the awe-inspiring persona of Hobart E. Freeman to his flock, that even people like Tomax7 who are “saddened” to hear of people neglecting personal hygiene due to the faith message, that even he still holds Freeman blameless. He was literally put on a pedestal; his pulpit l was at least 8 feet higher than the rest of the congregation. He had the persona of an old time Pentecostal revival preacher. At times, he preached a positive faith message, but as time elapsed, he increasingly called down fire and brimstone upon the congregation.
On his website, Tomax7 wrote:
But does this mean the faith message and Faith Assembly were a cult or false? I don’t believe so. While one can “justify” a cult mentality crept in, I believe there was a divine happening going on where God was present at the meeting.
But I am saddened to hear about what happened to people there or even to this day how some cannot fellowship with other Christians or neglect personal hygiene like brushing their teeth because they think it is sin to go to the dentist. – heck I too thought that once
The scene was very much like the church depicted in the movie ‘Borat’. There was a genuine sense of excitement, like nothing I’ve experienced today to this point. The song leader, Jerry Irvin, was playing jazzed up hymns, accompanied by trumpets, pianos, bass, drums, violin. Two thousand people were singing their hearts out. People were dancing in the aisles overcome by the Holy Ghost. The saints were ‘speaking in tongues’, hundreds of different tongues that no one on this earth could translate.
After the sermon, there would be a song or two, and people would line up at the sides of the stage where Freeman preached, to feel the Lord’s anointing emanating from him. When a true believer was touched, he would often fall down, slain in the spirit. Or some nights, they might line up for exorcisms. We didn’t call it that, it was simply ‘casting out the demons’. I witnessed seizures, people fainting, and a host of mass hysteria.
“In the name of JESUS, I CAST OUT THIS SPIRIT OF ASPIRIN!!” Sometimes, the demons would talk back: (Hissing) “She’s mine, you can’t have her.” “In the name of JESUS, I CAST YOU OUT!!” Eyes would roll back into heads, hands would shape into claws.
As an impressionable kid in grade school it was terrifying, and it was awesome. At night I dreamed of demons attacking me. Big black shapes, so black that I could not even see any face, just a vague form. So macabre were these dreams that I would often wake up hyperventilating. I was often scared to go to sleep.
Nearly three decades later, I vividly recall the upcoming birth of my third sibling, and second brother. I was so excited. Myself, brother Jesse, and sister Leslie were staying at the Nei’s house because mom was having a baby. Mom and Dad looked sad when we got there, and we learned that it was because baby Joseph Michael ‘went to be with Jesus’.
I can still recall the crushing feeling that pervaded the room at that point. It turns out that Joseph Michael was alive and kicking 2 hours prior to birth, but was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, easily solvable at the hospital.
But we believed that God spurned doctors (although I never did figure out ‘Luke the physician’ in the New Testament), and that even taking an Aspirin pill would possess your soul with demons. I often wondered, in later years, just what was going through poor Mr. and Mrs. Nei’s heads as we rode in the back of their station wagon en route to meet our new sibling. We were celebrating as young children do, and surely they knew that Joseph was stillborn, but we were speculating his sex, name, hair color, and arguing over who got to hold him first. It must have driven a chilling wedge right through their hearts.