Church of Bible Understanding
The Church of Bible Understanding (formerly known as the Forever Family) is a destructive cult started in 1971 by former atheist and vacuum repairman Stewart Traill in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The cult targeted teens as young as 13 by drawing on their weaknesses. Throughout the 1970s, the cult expanded to many other parts of the United States.
Traill, born in Quebec in 1936 is the son of a Presbyterian minister, who teaches that he is the reincarnation of Elijah, and that he knows the date of the return of Christ. Members of the cult live in a commune and donate 90% of their income to the cult. Traill amassed a fortune and owns four planes and a half million dollar mansion. According to former members, Traill controls every aspect of members’ lives through harsh criticism, shame, and public humiliation.
Ron Burkes, a staff member at a residential treatment center for former cult members says this:
“[Traill] has one of most effective means of shutting down critical thinking I’ve ever seen. Of the hundreds of people I’ve treated, COBU is definitely in the top five in terms of harm and psychological damage.”
The cult also runs a mission in Haiti, where some former members claim Haitian children are indoctrinated in exchange for food and clothing. According to an article originally appearing in the Manassas Journal Messenger, COBU receives government funds for its Haiti Mission as part of President Bush’s Faith Based Initiative.