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Church of Bible Understanding

News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals

This has a group page. Church of Bible Understanding (COBU) leader Stuart Traill, an eccentric since high school, dropped out of Lehigh College when, after persuading US Steel and General Electric to donate parts for a cyclotron he said he’d build, his professors realized he really had very little scientific knowledge. When he became a father, he decided there was a higher power, and chose to become a Christian, although he was convinced that his co-religionists misinterpreted the Bible. Saying that the Bible was written in a code only he could understand, he preached his version of the Gospel on street corners in Greenwich Village, focusing on repentance, retribution, grace, and forgiveness. His followers, from the 1970s, could be found in many cities around the country. At meetings, he gave brutal and relentless critiques of attendees, former members say. He bullied followers to continue their self-criticism and mutual bashing when he wasn’t there, saying their salvation depended on it. A former assistant said Traill was a “master manipulator” and a genius at using the weakness of others against them. The clinical coordinator of Ohio’s Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center for cult victims says Traill is one of those rare people leading a group like this who is not terribly sincere … His thing started as a con, and I think he’s come to believe some of his own con, but he’s not sincere at all.
(Scranton Times-Tribune, 12/18/13) [IT 5.2]

The Church of Bible Understanding has dwindled to a few hundred members at most, according to observers. Some of them live in and around the group’s large Scranton, PA, architectural artifacts business warehouse. Ex-members, supported by psychiatric counselors, say that COBU, which also runs three orphanages in Haiti, remains a destructive cult devoted to founder Stewart Traill. (Christopher J. Kelly, Scranton Tribune, Internet, 2/9/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

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