A letter from a reader:
"Dear Susan, I don’t normally write to the author of books I read but in this case I felt I needed to send this note. I read House of Lies and it brought me to tears because I know exactly what the book is talking about. I’ve been in that prayer room, I’ve listened to the bigotry and the hate in the name of our Lord, I’ve seen the hollow stare in member’s eyes and shamefully, I’ve participated in wrangling scripture in my own mind and in front of others. I felt convicted in my soul when I read how Skylar was fighting to save her sister, because my family fought to try and save me. I realized how much they went thru and the pain they went thru and how poorly I had treated them all that time. I know you said House of Lies isn’t about IHOP, but for me it is. I was with IHOP for almost two years and during that time I saw things that I wish I could forget. Your descriptions of the demonic activity and the hypnotic chanting and the twisted scripture is very real, and how you describe the journals being used to administer fake prophetic words is very real. Even the leaders like Lou and Mike and Misty are shown accurately and I felt like I was back in that place when I read the story. Lou rocks back and forth on stage and screams into the microphone and Mike lies and uses false doctrine to scare people into believing his way is the only way. The whole thing is a lie from the ground up but from the minute you walk in the door you are taught to not question Mike and he answers every question before you even ask it, so when it comes up you dismiss it because it’s already been answered. He teaches us to expect to offend others with our love for Jesus, and that is deceptive because it was never my love for Jesus that offended anyone. It was my elite attitude and arrogance that told my loved ones that something was wrong. Even the conversations between Skylar and Tess in the book made me think of things I said to my own family. I argued almost verbatim as the book and defended the false prophecies just like Tess does to Skylar. I was arrogant and believed I was chosen but I couldn’t see it at the time. Now the elite-ness makes me sick and I see that I was just like a drug addict, just like the book says, it felt good at first but the deeper I went into it the more I began to see that something wasn’t right. I have prayed for forgiveness and asked my family for forgiveness and I know God is so good and gracious and He has forgiven me. When I left IHOP I was like cast out and they acted as if I never even existed or was a part of them. They said I was deceived because they truly believe and I did too that everyone else is deceived and not a part of God’s plans. A part of me wishes Skylar were real and she and Braznovich and Ernie and all the townspeople of Grandview would really blow the place up without anyone getting hurt of course. But that’s not probably going to happen because people in Kansas City are too afraid to go against them. They’re very powerful and not only do they have weapons there but they have eyes and ears everywhere. I wanted you to know that your book is real to me and will be real to anyone who has been inside IHOP. Just like in the book, IHOP looks good from the outside and feels good for a while and then the darkness of its foundation begins to seep upward and wrap around ankles like thick clay, holding them down and even pulling them down like quicksand. I am praying your book, even though it’s just a fictional story, will reach people and show the world what IHOP really is before its too late.
Praying God’s blessing on you,
I read this email and my heart ached because this is just one of many, many letters I have received sharing the same things. It makes me happy that people are able to relate to the story of House of Lies; but it also makes me sad…. sad that organizations like IHOP and Westboro (to name a couple) spread a message of hate in the name of God.
[IHOP is not nearly on the same level of hate mongering as Westboro Baptist Church; but in listening to Lou Engle preach and push his anti-gay and anti-abortion agendas, there are nauseating similarities. For example, Lou Engle announced to the media that the “Joplin, Missouri tornado was God’s punishment for abortion,” and that "Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for homosexuality." This statement is not far from the statement made by Westboro that the “Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was God’s punishment for homosexual marriage.” Having family involved in IHOP, I hate that there are any similarities between IHOP and Westboro; but, sadly, there are.]
Each letter I receive confirms that there is a problem and that the problem is growing bigger.
To everyone who has been involved in IHOP or any other cult group, you are not alone and there are people and resources out there to help you. Here are a couple:
It takes courage to write me a letter and to speak up, and I admire that courage. I want to encourage everyone who has written me to take your story and share it to a broader audience. Every time you tell the truth about your experience with IHOP or another cult group, you could be stopping someone else from enduring the same fate.
Blog about your experience. Share it with friends, family and other churches. If you witnessed or went through any form of abuse, report it to the police. You can file a police report without taking action against the cult group. A report is simply a written record of what occurred.
Lastly, consider taking your story to the media. Your experience can empower the media to investigate further and could stop abusive action from happening in the future. Your voice matters.
I know it is scary, but you are not alone. In speaking out, you are protecting others. If more people had spoken out, maybe Jeremiah Candler would still be alive and maybe Bethany Leidlein Deaton would still be alive. How many others will die before we have the courage to stand up together and say this is wrong.
If you are in the Kansas City area and if you have witnessed or experienced any type of abuse from IHOP or any other cult group, consider sharing your story with these people. They will listen and will not use your name unless you give them express permission. If you know anything about the Bethany Deaton murder, contact these reporters.
Kansas City StarJoe Robertson
Fox 4 News Kansas CityGia Vang
New York TimesErica Goode
To everyone who has written to me…. Thank you. Your letters mean a lot and I hope you will consider sharing your experiences with a broader audience. Your voice can make a difference in someone's life. ~