1-My Crime

I was once an "elder" and teacher in the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC) and am the son of Ramon A Haas, founder of this  new denomination. About once per week I taught in various home meetings throughout the Portland OR / Vancouver WA area and at no time was I ever a paid teacher. Despite the ordination paper given to me in 1976 (shown below), I did not regard myself to be an "elder", and did not seek payment for this position.


This title of "elder" was bestowed on me when I was very young, was a title I did not seek, and was bestowed on me simply because I was the son of Ramon A Haas, founder, and not based on my maturity or merit at the time. I was just twenty-one when I was "ordained", was quite immature, and did not deserve this title then.

I taught in the ABC for over thirty years; with the exception of a several-year period during which I was ex-communicated by my father. This excommunication lasted until several years after my father’s death and I will give the details on that ex-communication in a later post.

The day of my "crime", a Saturday, I was teaching at a man's home named Mark in Vancouver Washington. Saturday nights were "communion nights" and only those baptized by a member of the ABC were allowed to attend these meetings. We would gather in a small group each Saturday to sing, pray, eat a meal together and have a teaching. When I juxtapose the secrecy of these meetings to the day of Pentecost, when the whole town heard the clamor of that meeting, I find this secrecy just a bit absurd.

The ABC has other nights, called "Foundation Nights", usually a Thursday, and these meetings serve as "gateway meetings" to introduce others to the ABC. The premise of these foundation meetings is to teach the basic doctrines of the ABC, with an emphasis placed on persuading others baptized elsewhere, or who have never been baptized, to join the ABC through their own form of baptism. 

These foundation meetings are an introduction to the basic doctrines of the ABC. A thing they call "The Foundation Truths" but is actually a term passed down from a man named Derek Prince. He likely adopted that term from his acquaintances in the Latter Rain Revival movement at the Sharon Orphanage in Canada. More on the Sharon Orphanage later.

Once an ABC style baptism is completed, usually after "demons are cast out of the person", someone will then tell this individual about the "communion" meetings on Saturday. To all others these meetings remain secret.

I was the teacher most Saturday evenings at Mark's house. On the day of my “crime” I loosely referred to the story of Christ when he, at age twelve, went missing from a caravan headed into the desert. Jesus, along with his parents and siblings, intended to travel a great distance to another place and, unbeknownst to his parents, Jesus stayed behind to teach in the temple. When this was discovered his parents found it necessary to turn back from the caravan, after an entire day had passed, so they could go find him. They then searched Jerusalem for three days before finding him. It is interesting to note there is no record of any of Jesus history for the remainder of his adolescent years, and this is actually important to the story, as he submitted fully to their parental authority after this event. This is further backed up by Second Samuel to show he was raised as a normal child. This scripture references the foretelling that from the seed of David would come one that would create an eternal kingdom:

I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Samuel

Here is the story found in the book of Luke:

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that you sought me? knew you not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Luke 2:41-52

After relating this story a woman asked me this question: "Did Christ sin when he stayed behind in Jerusalem? I mean, he made his parents come back and get him, didn't he? I thought He was perfect."

My response to this question was: "No, Christ did not sin against God, however he may have trespassed against his parents by making them go out of their way to retrieve him."  I said nothing more about the subject, no one balked at my answer that night, and my teaching, and the rest of the meeting, went just as planned. Days later an individual named Cammie felt my answer was blasphemy so she reported my "crime" to Bruce Leonard, a man who considered himself to be the "ruling elder". He then reported this "crime" to Gilbert Larson, who considered himself to be "the apostle". Together these two men determined this was "blasphemy" on my part. The offended individual did not, at any time, approach me to voice their concern, or even make any attempt to get this point clarified or attempt to see what I meant in the context of the rest of the teaching. 

Bruce Leonard is an individual who, on several occasions, had attempted to bring me under his personal control through various means of outright bullying. More on that later. He used this alleged "blasphemy" as an opportunity to condemn me, then have me ex-communicated from the church. I was forbidden to speak to anyone in the church unless he, or a "trusted elder", was present. I was "eternally judged", forever and ever, as one who "blasphemes". 

Bruce Leonard and Gilbert Larson had a close relationship as friends and neither had been at this meeting. Neither discussed this comment with me at any time; yet both determined I had "nearly blasphemed the Holy Spirit" (Bruce's exact words) and must now be "eternally judged" (Bruce's exact words), then be put away. The reason this was to be "eternal" is they alleged this type of blasphemy is considered unforgivable. No one involved in this "eternal judgment" spoke to the participants of that Saturday meeting to get their views of my statement.

Backtracking a bit, to give more detail, a few days after that meeting I received a telephone call from Andy Atwell, ("The Evangelist"), and Mark (singer and owner of the home where the meetings were held and spouse of Cammie, the one who reported this "crime"). The pair wanted to meet with me so I invited them over to my house. They refused, stating rather abruptly they would prefer to meet at the local International House of Pancakes (IHOP) instead. They stated they planned to be there in half hour and asked if I would meet them there. It was late at night, nearing nine or ten o’clock, and I was instructed to come alone. This should have been a clue, as the ABC believes it is “unsafe spiritually" to enter the home of someone who has "become unclean”.  It is actually a ploy used by leadership to attack a person in a public place so they can then leave quickly, if necessary, and the individual will feel emotionally restrained by the public environment and have much less opportunity to fight back.

I met Andy and Mark at the IHOP that night. The only topic discussed was a statement they claimed was made by another man; Wayne; at a meeting I had not attended. They alleged Wayne had stated Christ sinned; same accusation they would soon level at me; and it was their intent to confront Wayne about this statement, then pass an "eternal judgment" on him and "put him on discipline". That discipline meeting was to be held the following Superbowl Sunday morning at Bruce Leonard's house. 

I told Andy and Mark that night I did not feel Wayne would believe such a thing and, if he had said something that sounded like this, they must have misconstrued it. I also told them I had seen many people's lives destroyed by the ABC's "disciplines” and made it clear I did not agree with their plan. I told them I would attend their discipline meeting, but I would not be on Wayne's side, nor would I would be on their side, wherever the truth fell, that's where I would be. That was the exact phrase I related to them. In all honesty, I knew Wayne well enough to know he wouldn't believe this. I did not see much truth in what they related to me that night and knew I would not, and could not, defend their view because it was completely fabricated. Nothing was mentioned to me that night at IHOP that I had allegedly stated Christ had sinned and had therefore “blasphemed". That would come later.

I arrived on time at the Wayne "discipline" meeting the following Sunday at Bruce Leonard's house in Battle Ground Washington. Nearly every  elder from the area was there (a few refused to attend then  suffered later retribution to the point they too left the church). Wayne, the purported subject of the meeting, was not in attendance, which I felt was odd. Bruce Leonard opened the meeting with a lengthy prayer about eyes being opened and such, then brought out a legal pad with pages and pages and pages of accusations against me scrawled on it. This is when I became aware this was an ambush and the IHOP meeting was just an  "evidence gathering" session. It was a fraudulent ruse to entice me to this ambush and I had seen this scenario play out many other times in the ABC, with other people as the target. This was also not the first time Bruce had ambushed me but, this time, it was with a whole room of guys staring at me. This was serious business.

After first telling me I was being "eternally judged", and my "crime" had been “witnessed by two elders”, so it must be true, I was informed I would not be allowed to speak on my own behalf, or defend myself in any way. I was essentially tied and gagged while Bruce began whipping me with his list of accusations from the pad. The only thing I could think at the time, as he was reading this list of accusations, is I thank God he is mercy and truth because these things being read to me exhibited neither mercy or truth. I could not help but think the scriptures Bruce purported to know tell us Satan, the enemy, and not God, is the accuser of our souls. 

There was never an explanation on how "two elders had witnessed it" since the only two persons at that meeting recognized as "elders" was myself and Mark. Neither Bruce nor Andy, the messengers of the accusation, were present at that meeting and could not possibly have "witnessed" it. Lying, among the upper echelons of the leadership is an accepted practice and is believed to be "righteous" if it "protects the body". More on that later.

The great dragon was thrown down, the old serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now is come the salvation, the power, and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ; for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:9-10

I was condemned by all present that day as a "blasphemer". As far as the "ABC" was concerned, the judgment was final, eternal and could not be rebutted by me or anyone…ever!  I was forbidden to speak to anyone associated with the ABC unless another "trusted" elder was present.  I was forbidden to continue “Foundation Meetings” in my home, or even invite another person to my house unless I also invited a "trusted" elder in good standing.  It was the spiritual equivalent of an ankle bracelet and electronic monitoring.

After this meeting every person I knew; some whom had been my "friend" since I was a youth; received a phone call telling them I was a "blasphemer" and they should have nothing more to do with me. I had grown up with many of these people; having spent over thirty years being "family" with them but was now forbidden to speak to any of them. It was a lot to bear emotionally and caused a great deal of life and marital strife and I did not hold up well under the strain at first. I had seen this treatment inflicted on other people enough times and knew when a person is beat down and destroyed like this, the leadership of the ABC will then point to this as "proof of sin". It is a sick practice.

A few disobeyed the orders of the elders and dropped by my house anyhow. Some came to inquire what I had done that made me such a pariah while others came to offer encouragement and show a little love. All were eventually pressured into not talking to me and were told  in definite terms they must decide if they wanted to remain ”in the body". They were instructed if they spoke with me they would be deciding to "leave the body".  Most stopped visiting. 

A couple continued to visit but only, it seemed, to question my life and pressure me to return and "just go along even if the accusations were not true". “For the sake of unity” is a phrase I heard a lot from people. Most did not realize had I  returned I would forever be a marked man in the ABC and would never find peace. The grief of losing every “friend” was overwhelming and it took years to recover, if that's actually possible. I ended up leaving my employer of many years soon after because I was unable to handle the life stress this caused my family. I sold my house, which I had just bought, and moved out of the area to hide from the harassment that followed this "discipline". When you are a member of the ABC you find yourself  isolated from those on the outside already so life overnight became quite lonely. It was as if I had lost my entire family in one day.

If I were the only one this has happened to, it could be considered an anomaly. I am not. Most just end up disappearing with a broken spirit, afraid to speak out, thinking God will deal them a punishment. I was in a different position because I was “Ray’s son” and my father started this whole thing. It was a power play on Bruce and Gilbert's part, but I had no intent of "taking over the church" as they apparently assumed.

I make no excuse, nor feel any regret, for my statements the night I am alleged to have blasphemed. When taken in context my words were completely accurate. If I step on a person’s toe, by accident, have I not trespassed against that person?  It would seem so.  But was it a sin?  Of course not. Sin and trespass are two separate things. Even from a scriptural standpoint one need only review the Old Law to see that sin and trespass are not the same thing.

In the story told in Luke, Christ made his parents leave their caravan-- it is not clear if his siblings stayed behind in the caravan or not--travel a day back to Jerusalem, through the desert, without protection--a very dangerous thing in that day and age--then spend three additional days searching for him. Considering this story, he indeed trespassed against them as he was not at the place he was to be--he was a youth and should have been in the caravan with his family--and made them worry while they spent days searching. It would appear from this story he did not do this intentionally, or out of spite against God or his parents. In his youthful mind, he thought he was doing good by staying behind to teach at the temple. However this unintentional act caused his parents to suffer hardship and worry for many days. Was that a sin? No. Was he where he was intended to be? No, he was not.  Was he in perfect obedience to his parents' wishes?  No again. But it was a minor infraction, a trespass, a stepping on their toes if you will. His parent’s reaction when they found him was to scold him;

 "Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing."

If one believes the scripture, they tell us Christ on earth came as a man and had to learn obedience by the things he suffered.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Hebrews 5:7-9

The scriptures tell us Christ put aside his Godhead status and made himself not just lower than a man, but also lower than the angels.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Hebrews 2:9

I see no example where Christ was anything other than a normal child as he was growing up, yet without sin against God. For certain his mother, father and siblings knew him only as a normal child. He was just part of the family until his ministry began as a young adult. We see evidence in scripture his family did not recognize him as being different. After this incident the story told takes a sudden very lengthy pause as he in fact subjected himself to his parent's authority for a time;

"And they understood not the saying which he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them:"

The scriptures state God sent Christ to earth in the flesh, as a man, lower than the angels even, so he could know and suffer our human frailties. If one states they believe the scriptures, yet denies this basic truth, the scripture itself calls them deceivers and part of the antichrist.

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 2 John 1:7-8

Isaiah, when prophesying about the coming Messiah, states in Isaiah 7 that Jesus would be no more or less than any other child as he grew up and would have a time when he would not know to refuse evil and choose good,

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that you abhor shall be forsaken of both her kings.  

If Isaiah were a member of the ABC his "controversial" statement would have been considered "blasphemy" and he too would have been  ex-communicated.

Well, that is the short story of my faux pas but here is much more, which I will share in later posts. I have heard this was the final act of Bruce Leonard’s quest to gain apostleship through the trampling of others he saw as a threat as he won his pursuit of being a paid "leader". 

There is much more to the Bruce Leonard story I will relate in a later post but, as stated previously, this was not the first time he  sought to bring me under his personal control in a cruel manner. He considered me to be his "employee" and the ABC a business of which he was one of the "bosses". 

Even if I had been in error in my words, I am saved by grace, not by Bruce Leonard. My faith in God, and his grace, is all I need to see me through to the end. If someone removes mercy and grace from me, well, it is they who must wrestle it away from God, but I am certain that is not possible. It is difficult for the leaders of the ABC to understand mercy since it is not a part, nor has it ever been a part, of their Pharisaical dialect. They regard my words here as one who is a fool. If we look at what Jesus considered the "unforgivable sin", of which I was accused, it was when a group of men stated his power was "of Beelzebub" and accused him of having an "unpure spirit".  Those who call a man a fool are in danger of hellfire.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10

I am not alone. Over the years, many others have also been accused   of similar or lesser charges. My hope is they too will  someday tell their story but most become too devastated, afraid or are unable to speak about these things. I have taken on this endeavor to write my personal history in the ABC, even though it is actually quite painful. I hope my words serve as a warning to others to stay away. Not just from the ABC, but also from the many other ultra-fundamentalist groups who assume God has given them an exclusive franchise on truth. There are no franchises on truth.


1 comment:

  1. I have found this most interesting,I have been doing research because the Doctor I work with belongs to this group and has said some very bold statements to me , for instance I have been told I do not have the Holy Spirit because I do not speak in tongues because I was not baptized by someone spiritual and I get the feeling he doesn't believe in saved by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1, 2:1-9. dl