The daughter of a woman in New Haven, CT, who has broken all family connections says her mother has been lost to a cult, the Order of Christ Sophia, or Center of Light, which has chapters across the country. Reverend Michael, who runs the local group, based in an apartment building in town, says people are free to come and go. In response to the charge of a cult expert that Christ Sophia is “a destructive mind control cult where dependence and obedience is demanded,” founder Peter Bowes says (on YouTube): “A cult is a new religion that people hate. I think we can say we are one then.” Bowes, who was a psychologist in Wisconsin until he gave up his license, says there is sometimes strain between members and their families, but “We don’t take people away from their parents.” Reverend Michael maintains: “We teach meditation, and we have classes on the Bible.” The New Haven woman’s daughter says: “What it seems to me is that they are being taught to judge the people [family members] closest to them who have known them for years, and they [Christ Sophia initiates] are being taught to take in these new people [Christ Sophia members] as almost a replacement for the family that they used to have.” [csr 8.1, 2009)
Cult-like Controls Alleged
Former member Nancy Wainer says the Boston area branch of the Order of Christ Sophia, a self-described mystical Christian organization devoted to meditation and prayer, is a dangerous cult that breaks up families. “They use deception, mind control, hypnosis, all kinds of devious tactics to get you to follow them blindly.”[csr 3.2 2004]
Wainer’s adult daughter, Andrea, now with the new name Michelle, given her by the Order, has moved to Oakland, CA, to be with the group’s leader, the self-ordained Rev. Peter Bowes. Bowes was forced several years ago to give up his license to practice psychology in Wisconsin after patients filed complaints that he used his position to recruit them into the Order.
Wainer laments: “They’ve taught my daughter that I’m a terrible person. My daughter doesn’t have any memories anymore of the loving relationship we have.” Says Andrea’s father, Paul Cohen: “There are times I can talk to Andrea, but then Michelle takes over, and when she is in control, she is in control.” Another set of parents has similar complaints, but two who are current members feel their family’s association with the Order has been good.[csr 3.2 2004]
Order co-founder Mother Claire Watts said, when visiting Boston recently: “The thing they call brainwashing is visualizing yourself in a bubble of light, letting go of negative energy. I feel sorry for their sons and daughters whose parents get on TV to say how stupid they are.” (Boston Channel, Internet, 6/28/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]