Author: Jon Trott Source: Cornerstone, vol. 18, issue 91, p. 16 Date: 1990 Title: LAUREN S
Author: Jon Trott
Source: Cornerstone, vol. 18, issue 91, p. 16
LAUREN STRATFORD UPDATE:
THE BOOK'S WITHDRAWN, SOME QUESTIONS REMAIN
In response to "The True Lauren Stratford Story," authored by
myself and Bob and Gretchen Passantino, mail has poured in, as this
issue's letters section shows. It ran roughly three to one in favor
of us doing the article on Lauren's book, SATAN'S UNDERGROUND. And
the phone's been buzzing. Print and electronic media throughout the
country have covered our investigation.
Harvest House Publishers, on January 26, responded to the
CORNERSTONE article by stopping publication of both SATAN'S
UNDERGROUND and Lauren Stratford's second book, I KNOW YOU'RE HURTING.
They further noted that "returns of both books may be made without
prior written notice to the publisher."
According to Johanna Michaelsen on the January 30 "Live in L.A.
with John Stewart" radio program (KKLA), returned and unsold books
will be picked up by Hal Lindsey Ministries for distribution. For the
record, SATAN'S UNDERGROUND had sold 133,409 copies to bookstores
Since the article's publication, we have heard from more women
who believe themselves "victims" of Laurel Willson/Lauren Stratford.
They have provided us with further corroborative evidence, including
tapes and letters created by Lauren that underscore her pattern of
WHY'D YA DO IT?
The article provoked many questions. People asked, "Why did you
do the investigation? Were you out to 'get' someone?" That is a
story in itself.
Eric Pement, CORNERSTONE magazine's "cult" researcher and (as of
last year) the Executive Director of Evangelical Ministries to New
Religions (EMNR), was wearing his EMNR hat and organizing (ready for
some irony?) "The Rockford Conference on Discernment and Evangelism."
Through a long-winded circumstance, he obtained Lauren Stratford as a
speaker at the conference. On hearing of Lauren's inclusion, a fellow
researcher called. "I have reservations about Lauren's story." At
this time we were given the name of Lauren's mother.
After speaking with Mrs. Willson, Eric was able to contact
Lauren's sister, Willow, who was working on the mission field. Willow
offered us details which bluntly contradicted SATAN'S UNDERGROUND.
Eric then reached Lauren by phone and spoke with her for an hour and
twenty minutes. He came away with no information, though Lauren
insisted she had "hard evidence" to back her story. The Rockford
Conference decided not to have her speak at the same time Lauren
decided to withdraw.
At this point, the mantle passed to the Passantinos and me to
continue the research. Why? We felt that if Lauren's book was
untrue, it ought not to be marketed as truth. Our growing body of
evidence showed that her whole life had been made up of conflicting
stories told over a period of thirty-plus years, and that most of
those she deceived were WITHIN the Church. Proverbs 14:5 points out
the biblical principle, "A truthful witness does not deceive, but a
false witness pours out lies."
We feel that American Christianity has, like Cain, echoed the
refrain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" When our brother stumbles, we
often turn a blind eye instead of attempting to restore him according
to the biblical principles of truth and responsibility. This also
makes us responsible for his or her sin.
DOING IT SCRIPTURALLY
Throughout the time we researched SATAN'S UNDERGROUND, we
attempted dialogue with Lauren, Harvest House, and those with pastoral
concern for her. Lauren herself would not speak with us, and as the
scope of our research became apparent, her publisher refused to answer
our questions. We had hoped that the falsity of the SATAN'S
UNDERGROUND story would have been resolved, that Lauren and/or Harvest
House would have taken some sort of responsibility. Since that option
was closed to us, we found ourselves compelled by biblical truth to
make the matter as public as her testimony had become.
Initially, Lauren, her publisher, and her supporters claimed to
have hard evidence to support SATAN'S UNDERGROUND. But as our
findings mounted, and our questions became more specific, the nature
of their evidence changed from "times, dates, and places" to
"testimony consistent with other victims." We were told that hard
evidence didn't matter; a higher form of evidence, namely, that
Lauren's therapists believe her on her word alone, invalidated all the
eyewitnesses and documentation we had discovered.
The idea that therapeutic technique is the ultimate test of truth
sets a dangerous precedent. It is understandable to make a
demarcation between testimony for therapeutic purposes and testimony
for authenticity and authority. The therapist's goal is helping the
client to deal with present reality, no matter what the past has held,
and therefore is not concerned with historical verification. But such
an idea of "truth" doesn't work when we are presented with a "true
story." The responsible Christian publisher's goal is to promote
truth that can be verified: "hard" evidence, consisting of eyewitness
testimony and/or documentation.
Bob, Gretchen, and I felt our findings concerning the book
demanded our exercise of a "sound mind" and "righteous judgment." To
do otherwise would be sin. Yet our aim was not to simply present the
evidence we had gathered, not to "attack" Lauren or anyone else. We
passed no judgment as to the MOTIVATIONS of Lauren, Harvest House, or
other of her story's backers. Near the end of the article, we did
point out their biblical RESPONSIBILITIES, and noted that those
responsibilities were not fulfilled. We are adjured to "test
everything. Hold on to the good" (1 Thess. 5:21).
We don't need to have exhaustive knowledge in order to ask
intelligent, biblically prompted (even mandated) questions. The
Bereans were commended for double-checking even the Apostle Paul,
going to the Scriptures "every day to see if what Paul said was true"
(Acts 17:11). We should also examine what is laid in front of us as
The Bible respects evidence of a most tangible nature, as shown
by the Lord's own story. Christ's life story was observed by friend
and foe alike, and written down in minute detail by four different
authors. Christ's resurrection was established on the eyewitness
testimony of hundreds of witnesses. The body was missing and the
stone was rolled away! We are not asking Lauren for the VOLUME of
evidence that exists for the resurrection; we are asking Lauren for
the same KINDS of evidence (e.g., eyewitness testimony and hard
Lauren does need our prayers. But what she does not need is for
us to diminish the truth in order to make room for a lie.
In this issue, we highly recommended Bob Passantino's article,
"Fantasies, Legends, Heroes--Part One," which offers both a challenge
to think more critically as Christians, and the ammunition to begin
meeting that challenge.
--- Jon Trott
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank