Christian Assemblies International: Former members detail abuse handed out by CAI leader Scott Williams

 By Caro Meldrum-Hanna

Updated 29 Jul 2014, 6:46am

Scott Williams

PHOTO: Former members say Scott Williams preached that women and children were to be beaten if they misbehaved. (ABC News)

A four-year investigation by the ABC has uncovered shocking claims of abuse and torment in relation to NSW-based registered charity and religious group Christian Assemblies International (CAI).

Four Corners has revealed that self-styled religious guru Pastor Scott Williams was using his warped brand of evangelical Pentecostalism to run a clandestine homosexual sex ring while allegedly misusing vast amounts of member donations for personal use.

Courageous former members broke their silence and told of their torment living inside the group, which they said is not a Christian church but a horrendous cult run by one man.

The ex-members have remained in the shadows until now out of fear and shame. They detailed shocking acts of abuse ranging from spiritual abuse, financial abuse, verbal and physical abuse, and the sexual abuse of adult men.

They said bizarre sexual rituals were carried out in secret by Williams, who described himself as “The Anointed One” with the Lord’s authorisation to sidestep biblical commands against homosexuality and sexually train his male members into submission and obedience.

Four Corners approached Williams, whose full name is Anthony Scott Williams, and senior people in the church. All declined requests for interviews and refused to answer the program’s questions.

He made himself rich. He has groomed people, particularly men and boys … for his own pleasure. The Pentecostal church which he represents is just … a facade which he has built to build his own kingdom.Former member Gunther Frantz

The CAI is one of more than 60,000 registered charities in Australia and Four Corners can reveal it has been investigated by multiple authorities around the world.

But until now, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) had no idea of the systemic abuse and allegations of corruption regarding the CAI, despite other authorities in Australia being alerted and informed of possibly illegal acts several years ago.

ACNC head Susan Pascoe has pledged to take immediate action.

“This is clearly one that we’ve been alerted to by the media, and in that instance we would certainly be investigating,” she said.

“If there was evidence that this was not acting in a charitable way or causing serious harm, then the charity can be deregistered.”

It is a pledge that should strike fear into the current leadership of the CAI, of which Williams is still a director.

Origins of Christian Assemblies International

The CAI headquarters may be in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, but the organisation began in the small German town of Feldafing in the late 1970s.

Former members say they were recruited by Williams as teenagers and young adults, with many still at school. They say they were brainwashed into believing Williams was The Anointed One, filled with the Holy Spirit and gifted with the divine power of healing. 

Williams was working in Feldafing as a pool attendant at a military school for young men.

Christian Assemblies International

PHOTO: The headquarters of Christian Assemblies International is in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. (ABC News)

Steve Forkin was converted when he was 17. He told Four Corners Williams paid special attention to young males.

“He was an Australian obviously and I’d never met anyone from Australia at that point in my life,” Mr Forkin said.

“He was very charismatic. He was very friendly. He was very outgoing, quite fun-loving, to be honest. Initially he presented himself as a missionary who’d come to Germany with a calling from God to start a church there. 

“He’s very, very eloquent when it comes to knowledge of the Bible as such, and of course the flipside of that coin is that in Bavaria kids have no concept of the Bible and very little concept of religion per se, so really he could have told us anything and we would have believed it.”

Once introduced to Williams, usually through a church meeting or a weekend barbecue, Mr Forkin says Williams began to brainwash people.

“At that stage his message was that the world was going to come to an end very soon and that we didn’t have much time and we needed to convert as many people as possible before the return of Jesus,” he said.

His beautiful saying was always, ‘I’m gonna convert the German nation, this time to do a better deed instead of what Hitler did, a bad deed’.Former member Gunther Frantz

“Also his message was very much predominating around that Russia would invade Germany, a third world war would break out, and he brought up all sorts of scriptures from the Old Testament to prove his prophetic statements.”

Gunther Frantz, Williams’s first convert in Germany, says he was 12 when he began to be indoctrinated. He says Williams brainwashed him into doing almost anything.

“He had such power over people,” Mr Frantz said. 

“His beautiful saying was always, ‘I’m gonna convert the German nation, this time to do a better deed instead of what Hitler did – a bad deed’.”

Williams’s core beliefs included a strict literal adherence to the Bible and a highly conservative lifestyle. 

Upon baptism, members would often speak in tongues. As part of their membership, they were expected to donate 10 per cent of their gross income to the CAI in addition to many different offerings every year.

Members recall bizarre homosexual rituals

Four Corners spoke to more than a dozen men around the world who all claim they were pressured and led to perform sex acts against their will by Williams.

Warping biblical scripture to carry out perverse sexual acts, Williams began to hold regular men’s nights. During these nights, the males attending would be asked to undress and participate in mass massage sessions. 

Former members told Four Corners that Williams would often be in the centre of the group receiving massages and caresses from a male member of the church.

Mr Frantz says he was often present and forced to take part by Williams.

“I think the biggest one I ever remember was 80 males in rooms covered only in naked bodies, and everybody giving massages,” he said.

“And Scott always had his personal private room with one or two at the end of any of those sessions. And then at two o’clock he sends everybody out of the room and out of everywhere else and he usually picks somebody to stay with him, to get more training.”

As the years went on and he was more sure that things were going his way or going the Lord’s way, he was more confident to express that we were a waste of space, useless heathen and would burn in hell and “the devil would rip our balls off” in a man’s case.Former member Klaus Tischer

Four Corners has been told that Williams would choose a man to stay back with him and spend the night with him, ordering them to surrender and submit to him for the Lord’s training. 

He would then order them to perform sex acts on him during a personal naked massage and during naked showers.

The shocking ritual played out for more than two decades, with victims believing they were the only ones suffering at the hands of Williams.

Mr Frantz says he, like other men, never consented to the sexual acts and that it could happen to anyone. 

“It’s possible. It happened to me. And I’m not the only one,” he said. 

Mr Frantz says the number of possible victims is staggering. 

“Firstly, he made himself rich, and secondly, he has groomed people, particularly men and boys, boys to start off and kids, for his own pleasure,” he said.

“The Pentecostal church which he represents is just … a facade which he has built to build his own kingdom.” 

Underlying it all was the peculiar policy created and described by Williams as a “bundschaft”, a special relationship between two men. 

Mr Forkin said the policy of the bundschaft was mandatory for all senior men in the CAI. Men had to have a male partner if they were to be trusted, and their bond was above that of husband and wife.

“Well, it’s basically a German word for the English word covenant,” Mr Forkin said.

“So in his, in CAI terminology, it’s a very special connection between two men, a very close friendship really, but it’s more than that. It’s like a lifelong commitment. 

“So Scott would probably view that as a marriage without a marriage certificate, but in his eyes even if a man was married to another woman, the bundschaft friend was more appropriate and more valid to him than his own marriage.”

Williams amasses impressive property portfolio

Williams, now 70, is living with his wife Ree in a luxury apartment in the beachfront Pacific Towers complex in Coffs Harbour. It is one of many properties Williams purchased using money donated by church members who believed much of it was being used for charitable purposes. 

Today, the CAI boasts an impressive multi-million-dollar property portfolio including Pitversie House and Douglas House, a hotel in Abernethy, Scotland. 

All were renovated to luxurious standards by church members, who have told Four Corners they worked hundreds of hours updating the properties while Williams monitored their work and punished them for any mistakes or minor misdemeanours.

Former Christian Assemblies International member Gunther Frantz

PHOTO: Former member Gunther Frantz says he was 12 when he began to be indoctrinated. (ABC: Four Corners)

People came to our house and checked the fridge, checked the house, the clothes, it was clean; if not, my ex-wife would be severely punished.Former member Gunther Frantz

Katja Forkin was recruited into the Assembly as a teenager living in Germany. She says women and men were expected to work on the properties night and day, and if they did not they would be severely punished or excommunicated. 

She says life in the Assembly got worse once Williams began to purchase more and more properties.

“It started to change once the Assembly owned properties in Scotland, because basically all we did from then is just work on the properties, renovating, looking after Scott and Ree more or less, and everything evolved around their lives,” she said.

“So the little spare time that we had sort of dwindled away more and more to the point that we started to have less and less connections to the outside.”

As members disconnected from the outside world, following Williams around the world and moving away from family and friends, they say their leader’s language and demeanour began to change. 

Former members told Four Corners they were regularly denigrated and humiliated, losing their self-identity, confidence and sense of self.

Klaus Tishcer says it happened gradually.

“As the years went on and he was sort of more sure that things were going his way or going the Lord’s way, then he was more confident to express that we were a waste of space, useless heathen and would burn in hell and “the devil would rip our balls off” in a man’s case, or in females other words were used,” he said.

Widows, pensioners pressured to make donations

Mr Frantz says there was extreme pressure applied to members to donate regularly to the church, in addition to 10 per cent of their gross income. 

Over the years, an estimated $20 million to $25 million flowed into the Assembly by way of donations or tithes. If you did not give enough you would be punished.

“You would be spoken to. There would be an investigation to find out why,” Mr Frantz said. 

“And if you don’t have good enough reasons, then there could be hell, blood and fire, because you might not make it into heavenly places.” 

Scott Williams

PHOTO: Former members say they were brainwashed into believing Scott Williams was gifted with the divine power of healing. (ABC News)

Four Corners has counted that at one point there were up to 20 mandated donations per year and all sources of income were targeted. Senior officers were sent out to widows and pensioners to pressure them to hand over inheritances. 

Church documents detail how members were to be targeted for financial contributions, with those on low incomes told to sell their property and belongings in order to give to Williams’s Assembly and to ensure he grants them salvation on judgment day.

But Assembly documents reveal something even more sinister. Four Corners has discovered members were also being fined by Williams for minor misdemeanours. 

Mr Tischer worked in the finance department and was assigned to be a fine collector.

“Anybody who forgot to do their normal duties and their normal scripts and was found to be wanting that they had forgotten to do their tasks, could be fined,” he said. 

“If somebody, say, did a tithe report and they didn’t send a report on time, they were fined, and I had to go and pick the tab up from all the people that were sent to me via email, ‘he is to be fined’ and so on and so forth.”

Mr Frantz says Williams introduced a disturbing culture of spying and monitoring in order to maintain control over members and their everyday lives. 

Four Corners obtained church documentation listing what members were allowed to read, what movies they were allowed to watch and what music they were allowed to listen to.

“We had a black book where people were on the black list. If they don’t perform, then they have to be excommunicated or cut off,” Mr Frantz said. 

“People who didn’t, for example, abide within the certain rules, for example, people came to our house and checked the fridge, checked the house, the clothes, it was clean; if not, my ex-wife would be severely punished.”

Women were ‘satanic beings not to be trusted’

Church documents show that Williams preached that women were Jezebels, swines, dogs and satanic beings, not to be trusted. Instead, they were to be punished.

In an extreme escalation, male members have told Four Corners that if they did not comply with Williams’s demands regarding how women were to be controlled and treated, he would order women be beaten. 

Women were also routinely excommunicated and their children given to other church members to be raised temporarily.

Four Corners also obtained church documents written by Williams detailing how women and children were to be beaten with a rod if they misbehaved.

Mr Frantz says Williams directed him to beat his then wife for not being obedient enough, something he is deeply ashamed of today. Mr Frantz says his brainwashing, like many others, was so acute that he believed Williams had ultimate power and authority on Earth.

“Otherwise we would’ve been chucked out of the church,” he said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have been together. 

Women were second-rate citizens. They were there to have children and stand in the kitchen and make food.Former member Steve Forkin

“Otherwise he would’ve had the power to separate us, he would’ve had the power to eliminate our marriage, he would have had the power to excommunicate us and burn in hell.”

Sylvia Wagner, another convert originally from Germany, says she was terrified inside the Assembly.

“We were told he’s the overseer and that’s the highest instance before [God],” she said.

“He told us he will give account on judgment day on how well we have been doing and we ought not to offend him in any way because … he will give account on all his sheep. 

“[If his account wasn’t positive] I lived under the impression that I will burn in hell. I was often told I would burn in hell. My impression was, if I had left the church and joined another church I would possibly burn in hell because it’s not allowed to leave this church. 

“I was scared.”

Ms Forkin says women were treated and used as servants inside Williams’s organisation. Their role was to cook, clean, and produce children for the Assembly. Women were told what to wear, what to cook and how to behave.

“We were supposed to be at all times what they called humble and subdued and obey our husbands,” she said.

“So they were the ones that made the decisions over us, whether they were good at what they were doing or not; that didn’t come into it. And I suppose that was the same on them, was the pressure that they were to be seen as being in charge of us.”

Katja’s husband, Steve, says women were treated as less than men.

“Women were second-rate citizens,” he said. “They were there to have children and stand in the kitchen and make food.”

Using biblical scripture, Williams also preached that children were born evil and that the evil had to beaten out of them with an iron rod. 

Four Corners spoke to many children who were born into the cult who are now adults. They detailed disturbing policies of punishment, including children being publically beaten for making any noise during a Sunday sermon or for moving off a mat laid out at the front of the Assembly.

‘We won’t stop until justice is done’

For all of the former members of the CAI who have broken their silence, they hope by going public and exposing their former leader that justice will finally be served.

Mr Frantz says CAI is not a Christian organisation, nor is it charitable, and it should not enjoy the tax-free status it currently does in Australia.

“It’s a cult,” he said. “I was abused and I didn’t understand it. For me I just thought maybe it’s me, it’s me? I just don’t understand why is this happening? 

“I said to him, ‘I don’t understand why are you doing this’, and he says, ‘Well, the Bible says you’ve got to surrender, you’re my bundtling’, and all the rest of it. 

“I remember the times where I begged, ‘Give me time’. He says, ‘You’re still not surrendering fully and I can’t use you and God is not gonna use you’.”

Mr Frantz now realises what happened to him was wrong. He is calling for more members of the CAI to come forward and expose the truth about the tormented regime run by Williams. 

“I hope that many more people out there hear the message and have the guts to come out, because more and more people are coming out,” he said.

“Whatever happened to you, come out and tell them about it. Go to the police. Go public. I hope people have the guts.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-28/former-members-break-silence-over-christian-cult-of-horrors/5627794

CHANGEMAKERS IN LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT

Richard Branson and GG Frantz

Why do we need more Changemakers in Leadership & Management than ever before? What is a Changemaker? What does it take to be a Changemaker?

Would you not agree that all of us live in an increasingly fast and every changing globalised interconnected world. A world where many of the jobs of today will be obsolete tomorrow. A world where we need to equip ourselves and our children to gain the skills and confidence to deal with some of the biggest problems facing humanity… What we need is a generation of changemakers.

While former US president Bill Clintons was among the first politicians to publicly embrace the association; and chose to encapsulate Hillary’s public service careers with one description on the campaign trail in Iowa calling her: “She is the best darn changemaker I have ever know.” 

Yet not every changemaker launches their own startup. Sometimes it is the changemaker within an existing business that’s most influential. For instance, a changemakers is a person who has the courage to stand up and say, how it is, and how it needs to be. When something needs to change, somebody has to lead the way. A changemaker takes positive action to enhance the lives and circumstances of people around them. A changemaker is inclusive in their approach, and innovative in their business thinking. They see the opportunities and understand the value of their own firm and are in a great position to innovate for the greater good.

Known as social “intrapreneurs,” these are people like many of us who desire change, by gathering knowledge and resources, and understand the mechanics of their own organisation to make change happen. Ashoka, Innovators for the Public sums it up by saying; “Changemakers identify problems and see it as an opportunity to build a solution. They apply the critical skills of empathy, teamwork and leadership to make positive impact.”

Leaders & Managers Pay Attention

Leaders & managers today need to pay attention and become more aware of the changemakers within their own organisation than ever before; or may become a changemaker themselves. By doing so, by becoming a changemaker or working with changmakers one will identify problems and see it as an opportunity to create a solution. 

Most organisation desire change; many know what they would like to see different in the firm, and some even know how it could be done best; but often fall short of the qualities a changemaker has in his DNA. This is where changemakers differ: they make their change happen. They possess and apply the critical skills of empathy, teamwork and leadership used with a combination of knowledge, resources, and determination, to make the positive impact. Changemakers are the force of reformation within an organisation; everyone can become one, and everyone should.

You Can Make the Change

As a leader, manager, employer or an employee, you can make the change you want to see in your organisation. How to become a changemaker? What does it take to become a changemaker? What can I do?

Let’s be honest; until we change ourselves, we cannot change the environment we live in. Nothing will change until you take the time to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses. The starting point is to improve yourself before you try to improve others. 

Let’s face it; if you truly want to resolve a problem, you need to get to know it first. To do that, you have to find the people experiencing it, ask questions regarding their account of events and merely listen. Listening is an incredible opportunity to build empathy, a major stepping stone towards positive change.

Let’s speak up; and let no-one silence you. Start believing in the power of your own voice. Regardless of your gender, age or background, your voice has power used and pushed in combination with knowledge, resources and determination, and see your dreams unfold right in front of you. 

Let’s do it; continuously keep doing what you know will bring positive change because a single action will bring no change at all. The process of change may take some twists and turns, sometime even a stumble and perhaps a little failure every now and then. But no matter what, regardless of the obstacles thrown into your path, you keep going forward on the path to change. 

I belief everyone is a changemaker. It is about everyone’s role as a changemaker in conversations around the dinner table, in the office, around the water cooler, in the Cafe or hanging out with your friends and family at a picnic. Everyone is a leader and role model to someone else in their life. You have the ability to create change with every conversation with everyone and anyone you choose to. Embrace your roles as changemakers within your communities. 

Everyone Can – Everyone Should! 

TO YOUR SUCCESS 

GG Frantz

THE FUTURE OF CHANGE: Change Architects – How to become a Change Architect (Part 2).

change makers in leadership and management

Why would anyone wants to become a Change Architect? For what purpose and what is really involved to be ‘classed’ as a Change Architect? 

Most people want to change their life, change themselves, change their future, and achieve a higher quality of living. Basically, most of us want to successfully conquer our dreams. Having said that, we often are unsuccessful for different reasons. For the majority of people in the world there is only a limited amount of time, a large amount of beliefs and presumptions, of which we can choose and try them, but not really knowing which one is the right or wrong one. 

We are suppose to learn from every experience we encounter and especially from the ones that challenge us the most. The purpose of this article is to share some insight on how to make decisions and what governs our success’ and failures. 

Success’ and Failures

Our minds are built over time, from the bottom up. The basic architecture of the mind is constructed through an ongoing process that begins before birth and continues into adulthood. Right from the earliest experiences we have encountered, each has affected the development of our mind architecture, which has provided the foundation for all future learning and behaviour. Similar, like a weak foundation compromises the quality and strength of a building, certain experiences early in life can be harmful to the mind architecture, most of the time with negative effects lasting into adulthood.

Our nervous system contains millions of nerve cells, called neurons. Neurons are highly specialised to transmit messages from the mind and other parts of your body to another. These connections enable super-fast communication among neurons, especially in our early years but new connections can be formed throughout life – it never stops. Depending on your early mind architecture connections you may either have a strong or weak foundation that may have taken on form later. 

Understand Your Mind Architecture

So, what has this got to do with a Change Architect? A change architect assist people to understand their mind architecture and how their own perception, limited beliefs, and words have built their reality. He then reveals the structure of their architecture, how they have created it over their lifetime and shows them how to re-build their new mind architecture. 

If you are tired of your old mind architecture and want to re-start building a new foundation, you have a few choices: hire a change architect, become a change architect, or learn to think like a change architect. 

Question Your Reality:

If you want to change your mind architecture, start by changing the questions you ask yourself from ones of negativity to ones of empowerment.

What’s great about this? What is the opportunity in this? How might this obstacle be a blessing in disguise? What can I learn from this? What am I willing to do to make it what I want and how can I enjoy that process? How are you doing in creating the conditions you say you don’t want? If you took the emotions out of the picture what would you do?

Believe the Possible: 

If you have a passion to do or be something, you need to believe it’s possible to achieve it. If you start off with the idea that it is impossible, you’ll quit at the first minor challenge. Whatever way, challenges won’t stop you when you believe something is possible. Instead, you will look for ways to overcome any challenges knowing that there are many ways that you can conquer them.

As for me, a key point is that I believed it was possible to have a better life.  With that belief alone, I pursued my dream almost every day trying new things and repeating other practices that worked. I could have just as easily decided it wasn’t possible and repeated that thought in my mind. If I did so though, I sincerely doubt I would have ever achieved living a better life. If you have a passion to do something, you have the ability to do it too. Start by believing it is possible.

“A belief is just a thought that you keep thinking.”

— Abraham Hicks

Making a Decision:

Coffee or Tea? Chocolate or Apple? We make some choices quickly and unconsciously, relying on mental ‘shortcuts’ our mind have developed over the years to guide us in the best or sometime not best course of action.

We weigh the benefits and costs of our choice, and then we cope with the consequences. Therefore, decisions underpin everything we do and apply to all areas of our lives – family, friends, money, careers, health and lifestyle, yet we rarely get ‘trained’ in how to make them.

a) You must be clear about your outcome(s) and their order of importance to you.

b) Write down all possible options whether or not you like them.

c) What are the upsides and downsides of each option? What do you gain by each option?

d) Review & Evaluate you each options from every angle. 

e) Decide and make a decision, because the clarity that these tips provide will help you take decisive action in the direction that serves your ultimate outcome best.

The choice is yours, though any of the three will get you closer of being in control of your new mind architecture: hire a change architect, become a change architect, or learn to think like a change architect. 

TO YOUR SUCCESS

GG Frantz

THE FUTURE OF CHANGE: Change Architects – the Architecture of Change within an Organisation (Part 1).

Future Change in Leadership

What does a Change Architects do? Are they the future of change in our Society, in business and the new leaders we have been waiting for?

We all know what an architect is, right? I think architect, Sotiris Tsoulos, sums it up beautifully: 

“Architecture has always been changing the world and has always been leading into changes… The whole notion of architecture is about change and making things better. It’s the responsibility of the architect to explain, to make the developer its partner and to hold the hand of the people responsible for change in order to apply it…” 

You may ask, what on earth has this to do with Change Architecture? Why would I need to know anything about a Change Architect? I am not wanting to build a house, so, what relevance has a Change Architect to offer me? How does it apply to my personal or business life? 

The duties and responsibilities of a change architect can vary, depending on the type of transformations they need to assist to create. Their tasks is somewhat similar to the undertaking performed by an architect working in construction. Architects plan out a building, such as a house or high rise building, envision the entire structure, planning it out through drawings and models, and usually supervise the work performed in its design. Similar, a change architect formulates ways in which different transformations can be implemented within an organisations or individuals.  He creates a plan and ensures that they are conveyed appropriately to get the required results. 

The Fear of Change

This means that the work of a change architect begins with identifying the issue or problem within an individual or a company. Let’s be honest, the biggest fear here for most individuals is the word “change” – not many like change, true? Today, both employer and employees share this fear about how change will affect them personally or their business. Everyone wants to be treated fairly, but how does one successfully implements those changes is the biggest challenge. 

While managing how information, and change, gets communicated within a business is important, it can have its challenges. It can backfire if a company tries to withhold important information or control everything. Everyone likes to be in the “picture” and knows what is going on. Otherwise the rumour workshop becomes the breeding ground circulating wrong information. 

Start the Process of Planning

An early planning process is just the starting point, frankly, it comes down to communication, and a lot of it.  Collecting information and feedback from employer, mangers, leaders and employees is critical to implement successful changes within an organisation. The gained knowledge assists to evaluate the readiness of each individual to support the changes and establishes the level of change required. 

Once this is established, then the change architect can create a plan of action and an overall model for how it can be implemented, similar to the models and blueprints made by an architect in construction.

The change architect then supervises the project of these modifications within the company or for an individual. This means, that the change architect does not perform these tasks; it is the responsibility of the organisation to ensure the process happens in much the same way other professionals are charged with actually constructing a building. 

Ongoing Support until the End

During the process of the projects, an architect may need to make changes to an existing plan in order to improve the building, without compromising its quality. In much the same way, a change architect may need to alter the plan during its procedure; they supply ongoing support that continues the process with the end result in mind.

During the time I lived in Vienna – it is said, “If everything is energy, anything is possible.” Vienna is a beautiful city and when it was built at the turn of the century, its leaders and architects were giving credit to its future greatness to distinction of “Memory and Prophecy.” They created the magical rich environment by blending their tradition with the exciting sensation of embracing the new. When discovering new grounds one needs to embark into engaging communication and a change architect is a master in doing so. 

TO YOUR SUCCESS

GG Frantz