ORLEANS (CBS) – Tucked away in the town of Cape Cod in Orleans, from the outside, the Community of Jesus is an idyllic feature of architecture, art and music.
“People don’t realize the mind control that’s going on in the background,” said a former member whose identity I-Team at WBZ-TV has agreed to protect.
Another former member named Carrie Buddington agreed.
“I was certainly traumatized on several occasions while I was there,” she said. Buddington left a decade ago, still haunted by the moment she says she was forced to give up her baby to be raised by a group of teenagers in the community for three years in the 1980s This is an allegation the church will not comment on.
“I think it’s a pain that will always be with me,” she told I-Team.
This is because others in her group home noticed her daughter was crying a lot, she said. “I would go get her to comfort her and sit in the rocking chair with her, and the head of the house would come and yell at me for being gentle with her,” Buddington said. “She was reacting to my sin, and the best thing for her was to get her away from me.”
She says she was allowed to visit her daughter remotely.
“She bonded with them, and when she was finally reunited with me, she remembers wondering why she was reunited with a strange woman. She didn’t know I was her mother, ”Buddington said.
Last year, a Canadian judge ruled in favor of students who sued a now defunct Community of Jesus-affiliated school, saying it “created an abusive, authoritarian and rigid culture.”
“You just exist in fear because you feel trapped,” said the anonymous former member, who was raised in Community of Jesus. The person alleges a disciplinary practice in which people were singled out and placed in the center of a circle. “And they yell at you about something you’ve done and make you feel like the worst person on Earth.”
The I-Team questioned members of the Community of Jesus about these stories and was referred to lawyer Jeffrey Robbins.
“Of course, none of these things you say were claimed by anyone to have happened… The suggestion to the contrary is not just offensive, it is outrageous,” he said. “It is shameful.”
“There’s the presentation that’s for public consumption, and then there’s the life behind the scenes,” said Judy Pardon. She and her husband Bob Pardon are advisers who run the New England Institute of Religious Research. They have helped members like Buddington and over a dozen others break with the Community of Jesus.
She says that when members of religious groups lose their ability to make individual choices, it is a sign that they are getting involved in something destructive.
“Are you able to be yourself? Can you make your own decisions? That’s when you know something’s wrong, ”Pardon said.
“The manipulative groups exist,” Buddington said. “They’re causing harm to the limbs, and it’s happening now, and it’s in our backyard, and I just wish people wouldn’t ignore it.”
Robbins says Buddington was a member for 40 years, a long time, he says, to stay in a place she now has her life’s work scorned.