They say they were assigned to infiltrate a Christian organization, but Christianity infiltrated them.

The Church of Scientology, established in the 1950s, is easily the most aggressive of the world’s new religious groups. The church has allegedly framed a writer on a bomb threat scheme, staged a phony hit-and-run accident involving a Florida mayor, and directed harassment campaigns against prosecuting attorneys. At least 11 Scientologists were convicted three years ago in schemes to infiltrate the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service.

Now comes another story of intrigue. In mid-1980, Scientologists Ford and Andrea Schwartz apparently infiltrated two California cult-watching organizations. For the next two years, the pair acted as double agents, funneling information out of the “enemy” organizations to the Church of Scientology.

But now the Schwartzes have (to use the espionage jargon they have grown so accustomed to) “blown their cover.” More than that, Ford and Andrea Schwartz say they have gone from infiltrating evangelical Christendom to becoming evangelical Christians.

The admission comes after Ford worked in one of the cult-watching organizations as a deprogrammer. That put him in the strange position of deprogramming a handful of Scientologists while he was still a Scientologist. While Andrea was an undercover agent, she gained the confidence of Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP) in Berkeley, California, a respected evangelical watchdog of cults and new religions, to the point that she authored SCP’s most popular booklet on the dangers of Scientology.

The Schwartzes said they were working in a time-honored Scientology tradition when Ford agreed to infiltrate Freedom Counseling Center, for families of cult members, based in Burlingame, California. A few months later, Andrea was asked to slide into SCP, a group the church reportedly feared as one of its most dangerous enemies.

Ford joined the Scientologists in 1972, Andrea in 1973. They met and married later. Both were “registrars,” or salesmen of Scientology counseling courses that cost about $125 per hour. They excelled as registrars, Ford working in Los Angeles and Andrea in Washington, D.C.

Using what she now calls “manipulative” sales techniques, Andrea sold courses at an incredible clip of $20,000 per week, she said. “I helped people sell their houses, sailplanes, violins; I helped a guy sell his cemetery plot. It just got bizarre,” she said.

The two met at a 1975 conference of registrars. They decided to marry soon afterward but suspected that church officials would not allow either of them to move, because they were so good at their jobs.

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So, on a November Thursday evening, Andrea boarded a flight to Los Angeles. She and Ford—having too little time for blood tests and other legalities—crossed the border to Tijuana and wed. They knew the church would have to move one of them if they were already married. Andrea, after the seven-hour return flight, was back in Washington for a Saturday morning meeting. By February, following minor church discipline, Ford was allowed to move to Washington.

Both continued to work diligently for the church, putting in 14 hours a day, seven days a week. But by 1977, Andrea said, the pressure was telling. “I was at the point of a nervous collapse,” she said. She needed a vacation but got no rest. Her sales fell and she became insubordinate, which prompted a Scientology “auditor” (counselor) to tell Andrea she was a “totally evil” person. Ford was counseled to divorce his wife.

The experience soured the Schwartzes on Scientology, but they were confident wrongs could be righted if only “Ron” (L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the church) knew. From 1977 until 1979, they were marginal Scientologists, living a more or less normal suburban life outside San Francisco.

But they found suburban life empty and frustrating and were drawn back toward the center of Scientology in 1980 when Hubbard issued a “general amnesty” to members he admitted had been harshly treated.

It was a few months after the couple accepted amnesty, they said, that the church’s Guardian Office—the center of Scientology’s intelligence operations—approached them with the idea of being double agents in anticult groups. Accepting the assignment was an excellent way to prove their loyalty to the church, Andrea said.

Ford was to infiltrate the Freedom Counseling Center and find an ex-Scientologist now operating as a deprogrammer. His assignment was to turn the man “into a vacuum cleaner salesman” or, as Ford puts it, “someone who would never think about doing anything against Scientology again.”

He never found the would-be “vacuum cleaner salesman.” And his assignment soon changed. Ford was to become the leading authority of all anti-Scientologists in the United States, he was told. “If somebody from the IRS wanted to investigate the Church of Scientology, the idea was they would call me. If the FBI wanted information, they would call me,” he said.

Eventually Schwartz’s ruse worked. Trained as a deprogrammer by the Church of Scientology and thoroughly knowledgeable about the group, Schwartz said he helped police infiltrate Scientology, deprogrammed Moonies, cooperated in bringing lawsuits against other cults, and he became a respected source for the media.

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When Reader’s Digest ran a two-part series attacking Scientology, it was Schwartz the editors asked for a list of organizations that could help families of Scientology members.

Andrea, meanwhile, was to learn born-again Christian lingo, infiltrate the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, and become so influential “that I would finally end up being in the position of running SCP or closing it down,” she said. Her assignment would be eased, Scientologists believed, by the stupidity of Christians. “The opinion was that if I was an intelligent Christian, I would be an interesting commodity because there aren’t such animals in great numbers,” she said. “Most Christians are stupid; that’s what I was told.”

Ford had an identical opinion, considering Christians about as threatening as “the local pharmacy or the fire department.”

What Scientology Teaches

L. Ron Hubbard, the 71-year-old founder of Scientology, has led a colorful and varied life, according to Scientology literature.

He was born in Nebraska, could ride horseback before he walked, read and wrote by age four, became the nation’s youngest Eagle Scout, and was accepted as blood brother of the Blackfoot Indians.

Between the ages of 14 and 18, Hubbard is said to have traveled to Asia with his father, a navy commander. There, Hubbard has written, he studied Eastern religion. At 19, Scientologists say, Hubbard entered college, going on to earn doctorates of philosophy and divinity. According to the Los Angeles Times, Hubbard’s college transcript shows he dropped out after his sophomore year.

Dianetics, a book published in 1950 and said to present “the modern science of mental health,” laid the groundwork for the Church of Scientology.

Scientology recasts elements of psychotherapy and Eastern religious philosophies. A 1975 booklet published by the church describes it as “the spiritual heir of Buddhism in the Western world.”

According to Hubbard, in the core of every person is an imprisoned “thetan,” or god, trying to get out. This spirit is hampered by man forgetting that he was once a god. The thetan is also caught in a web of injuries done to himself and others (in this and previous reincarnations), injuries which are not consciously remembered but stored in the “reactive mind.”

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The “reactive mind,” roughly analogous to Freud’s id, causes the individual to act irrationally and compulsively. The thetan can be freed by the process of “auditing,” or counseling.

The counseling is done with an electrogalvanometer (E-meter), a machine that measures skin resistance and is said to expose the problems of the reactive mind. Uncovering the cause of unwanted behavior expels it and, with enough counseling, the Scientologist may ascend to the highest level—the operating thetan.

He is then a god and aware of it, free of neuroses, compulsions, and other ills humans are susceptible to. (Scientology claimed the process prevented the common cold, until the Food and Drug Administration protested.)

The operating thetan can also recover knowledge from past lives, experience soul-travel, and control the physical realm of the universe.

The use of the E-meter and concern for technique, mixed with Eastern religious ideas, makes Scientology the first of the new religions to combine technology and mysticism. This potent combination is said to have attracted more than three million members worldwide.

He also got to know some of the workers at SCP, and the Schwartzes were puzzled by obvious intelligence. Brooks Alexander, an SCP founder, “stinks of somebody who is smart,” Ford decided. “And that doesn’t fit.” He suspected Alexander as an agent of the Soviet KGB, a scheme plausible to him since Scientologists believe the entire world is fast coming under the domination of a Rockefeller “feudal empire.”

Andrea continued working as a volunteer at SCP, which paid her transportation and child care costs. But the Schwartzes’ spy ploy was beginning to boomerang. Both listened to cult experts who pointed out alleged difficulties with Scientology. When the couple went to the Scientologists for answers, they were often told there were no answers, but it “doesn’t matter.”

Although the SCP executives never lied to Andrea, she caught the Scientologists in flat contradictions. SCP executives were concerned about her family; the Scientologists never asked. Andrea went to church with Brooks Alexander and other suspected “KGB” or “CIA” agents. She could not believe it, but they looked like they sincerely believed there was a God listening to their prayers.

By spring of last year, the Schwartzes decided Scientology was spent as a vital force. But they still believed in L. Ron Hubbard and hoped they could spread his insights. It was in December that writer Paulette Cooper mailed documentation allegedly proving several falsehoods in Hubbard’s autobiography. It convinced Ford.

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“It all came together in the middle of a deprogramming,” Andrea said. “He deprogrammed himself.” When Ford returned home he kept his wife up through the night convincing her Scientology was a “hoax, a scam, con, and fraud.”

The next morning Andrea was alone to spend what she considers the worst day of her life. She had entered Scientology when she was 19 and suddenly she “felt very much back at 19 again.” She questioned her marriage: she had only known Ford as a Scientologist—did she know him otherwise? She doubted her worth as a mother: she had been raising her son as a Scientologist.

Plagued with fears and doubt, she remembered Scientology: The Technology of Enlightenment, the booklet she had written for SCP. She reread her own words, unexpectedly seeing them in a new light. She was at the point at which it was “hard to look at black and call it white, and white and call it black,” Andrea said. The booklet “fit into things I just had to face up to.” She found herself going to the Bible that had “helped me establish my Christian verbiage in my cover.” That afternoon, Andrea said, she became a Christian.

Ford describes a feeling of imbalance much like his wife’s. In fact, leaving Scientology did not actually entail a decision to defect. “It was much closer to deciding to swim,” he said. “You suddenly find that the boat you thought you were sitting in doesn’t exist and you’re sitting in water, going down, and drowning. There wasn’t a conscious decision.”

Three months passed until the Schwartzes decided to go public with their defection. By May, they were public ex-Scientologists. On May 11, fearing reprisal from the church, Ford packed a loaded revolver and moved his wife and son from campground to campground for two weeks. He lapses into spy talk as he describes “picking up the can and rattling it to see if anyone was on our tail.”

But the Schwartzes quickly decided they could not live a life on the run. They would have to exercise their new-found faith in God. They returned home and now plan a career of leading people out of Scientology.

Can the Schwartzes be trusted at this point? Or are they triple agents, adding another twist to an already labyrinthine story? Indeed, were they ever Scientology spies?

Alan Hubbert, president of the California branch of the church, said Scientology no longer practices any sort of espionage. After incidents in the late seventies that included the conviction of 11 Scientologists, “we have undergone an extensive reorganization and have no need for that sort of activity.”

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Ford Schwartz says Hubbert knew of at least one “operation” to which Ford was assigned. Hubbert denies it. The Scientology official adds that, as a matter of principle, the church is strongly opposed to deprogramming. It would never sanction deprogramming by one of its own members and, in fact, expelled Ford Schwartz because he was a deprogrammer.

Michael Flynn, a Boston attorney involved for three years in litigation against the church, said there is “no reason to doubt” the Schwartzes’ story. What Hubbert says about the church stopping such intelligence work is “utter nonsense,” according to Flynn. Has Flynn himself been harrassed by Scientologists? “Unendingly, nonstop,” he answered.

Ford Schwartz has filed sworn affidavits of his alleged intelligence activity in Boston. Harvey Silverglate, Scientology’s Boston attorney, said he has had little time to evaluate the credibility of Schwartz’s claims. But he said any such activity would not be espionage or “dirty tricks,” but rather “self-protective information gathering” by a religious body trying to save itself from unethical attackers. Silverglate hints at a renegade faction within the church that acted outside the counsel of the hierarchy.

SCP’s Mary Axton believes the Schwartz story, right down to their recent conversion. “They’re not triple agents,” she said. Evident spiritual growth by the Schwartzes “manifests their honesty now,” Axton said.

Ford Schwartz offers another piece of evidence. His case officer for one undercover assignment was a man named Michael Wood, Schwartz said. Wood sometimes used the code name Tom Randall and, at least until three months ago, could be reached at a certain telephone number.

The number is dialed. It rings. A recording answers: the phone has been disconnected. There is no forwarding number.

RON ENROTH in Santa Barbara,



Philip P. Gammon has been appointed executive director of the American Council of the Africa Evangelical Fellowship. Gammon has been with the mission 20 years—10 years as chairman of the board. He is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, and New York University.

Jerry Horner, chairman of the undergraduate department of theology at Oral Roberts University, has been named dean of the new School of Biblical Studies at Christian Broadcasting University, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Horner has also taught at Southwest Baptist University, Fort Worth, Texas.

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William J. Saal is the new United States director of North Africa Missions’s U.S. council. Former director Gregory M. Livingstone was named deputy to the general director of the mission.

Latin American Evangelicals Organize For Strength

Ninety-eight Protestant denominations pledge cooperation.

“Finally we have a continent-wide alliance that will hold the line for conservative, biblical evangelicals! We saw it come to life in Panama; and then in Lima, Peru, God taught it to walk.”

The speaker was Mexican Presbyterian pastor Marcelino Ortiz, who last April was elected president of CONELA (Confraternity of Evangelicals in Latin America), the first authorized organization to represent the majority of Central and South American evangelicals.

Evangelist Luis Palau has said that Latin America desperately needed an organization that would unashamedly espouse conversion evangelism, encourage church growth, and defend biblical theology against liberal penetration in seminaries and churches.

Ortiz and ten other CONELA officials met in July for the organization’s first executive committee meeting in Lima, Peru. Guidelines were established for the eight regional vice-presidents, permanent working commissions were nominated, and special activities were scheduled to advance evangelical growth and cooperation across the continent.

“At this point, CONELA has gone further than any previous inter-evangelical effort,” commented Assemblies of God missionary Bruno Frigoli, who serves on the confraternity’s board of advisers. He noted that several spontaneous attempts had been made during international congresses to create an evangelical cross-denominational agency in Latin America (Huampani, Peru, 1963; Berlin, 1966; Lausanne, 1974), but none succeeded. Then in 1980 during the Consultation for World Evangelization in Pattaya, Thailand, Frigoli and 39 Latin American leaders issued a call for the creation of CONELA.

“Under the auspices of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE),” reported Ortiz, “98 Protestant denominations and 74 Christian service agencies responded to the call, and in Panama unanimously organized CONELA on April 23, 1982. The assembly in Panama asked the executive committee to draw up guidelines and name the working committees.”

According to CONELA’s secretary, Eduardo Ruan, the regional vice-presidents have noted wide reception and support across the continent. That support is evidenced by several recent developments. An informal alliance in Mexico representing 80 percent of the nation’s evangelical churches reorganized itself as the Confraternity of Evangelicals in Mexico, and is adopting CONELA’S documents for its own use. The Evangelical Council of Venezuela unanimously voted to join CONELA, even though this involved a modification of its constitution. The Council of Evangelical Pastors in Chile warmly approves of CONELA, and Argentinians are mentioning the “spirit of Panama” as they cross denominational lines to build an evangelical alliance. Ruan is president of the Evangelical Council of Venezuela.

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The CONELA executives envision the organization as facilitating communication among conservative evangelicals, rather than as a decision-making council.

Ricardo Glaser, a Brazilian Baptist who is CONELA’S treasurer, said at the Lima meeting that 56 percent of the funds spent on the confraternity’s creation came from Latin America.

Glaser expects that 70 percent of the 1982/83 budget will be met with Latin American funds. He pointed out, “This high percentage of Latin American financial involvement demonstrates there is firm support for CONELA and its principles.”

The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) is gearing up for its constitutional assembly in Lima, Peru, in November. Methodists, Anglicans, and other mainline ecumenical movements are backing CLAI. According to published information, CLAI expects to spend nearly $2 million before and during the constitutional assembly. Ten percent of that amount is scheduled to be provided from Latin American sources, while 90 percent will come from North America and Europe.

Ecuadorian Galo Vasquez, on loan from O.C. Ministries of Santa Clara, California, was named executive secretary of the confraternity. “More evangelical groups participated in the formation of CONELA than have ever joined for any event in Latin America,” commented Vasquez. The organization’s statutes prohibit CONELA from relationships with either the World Council of Churches or the International Council of Christian Churches. Vasquez says the enormous bulk of Central and South American evangelicals avoid contacts with both groups.

“CONELA was born with open arms,” added Ortiz. “We encourage membership by national evangelical alliances, denominations, Christian service agencies, and even local churches. If they agree with the Lausanne covenant, they will receive a warm welcome.”

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Some Grace Brethren Want To Alter Traditional Ordinances

The question of church ordinances was a prime matter of attention as 700 delegates of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches gathered in Palm Springs, California, early last month for their ninety-third annual conference.

The Grace Brethren churches are a branch of the German Baptists, an Anabaptist group that emigrated to America in the eighteenth century. The largest branch is the Church of the Brethren. The Grace Brethren group, numbering 42,000, with another 80,000 communicants at mission points outside the United States, is best known for its schools, Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana.

A Brethren church is characterized by the practice of baptizing believers by triple immersion, and observing an agape meal (“love feast”) and washing the saints’ feet at its Communion service in conjunction with the Eucharist. The Grace Brethren teach that these two latter observances are of “ordinance” status alongside baptism and the Eucharist. The church’s statement of faith declares that the Christian should observe this “threefold Communion service.”

A controversy arose in 1981 following a series of messages delivered in the Grace Brethren Church of Long Beach, California (the denomination’s largest church, with 2,500 members and 3,000 regularly in attendance). Senior pastor David L. Hocking declared that some Brethren ordinances should not be obligatory on the churches nor serve as a standard for membership in the churches or denomination. He held that the agape meal was not directly instituted by Christ and that footwashing, as described in John 13, should have primarily a spiritual interpretation.

His church has begun to observe the Eucharist monthly by itself, and only three times annually observes it in conjunction with the agape meal and footwashing. Three other congregations in California have also started separate Eucharist services. These four churches total 4,000 members, or almost 10 percent of the denomination.

At the 1981 conference, the Long Beach church was found in violation of the denomination’s constitution, which stipulates that churches may be accepted that practice triple immersion only and the threefold Communion service only. The offending churches were allowed to continue their practice, and a two-year study committee was appointed to consider the issue. No other churches would be able to change, however, without being disfellowshipped.

A further complication arose when the Brethren Investment Foundation declared the Long Beach church in default of a $630,000 building loan for violating a contract provision that Brethren teaching be upheld by recipient churches.

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At the outset of the 1982 conference, moderator Luke Kauffman, pastor of the Myerstown (Pa.) Grace Brethren Church, reported on a doctrinal survey he conducted among the 577-man ministerium. Fully 105 ministers registered at least some reservations about the threefold ordinance.

The conference quickly set aside efforts to exclude churches or resolve questions raised by the Communion controversy before the results of the two-year study are received. In the meantime, the conferees appeared satisfied with assurances from the Long Beach church that it was in accord with the statement of faith on observance of the threefold Communion. Hocking stressed to the conference that the debate was not over beliefs but rather over the philosophical question of freedom of practice and whether these practices should be marks of identity.

Not so, say Brethren traditionalists. They believe observance of a threefold Communion is a practical expression of Brethren theology and articulates properly the sense of the statement of faith. They argue that to introduce a more frequent Eucharist is primarily a theological statement, and the new practice in effect elevates the Eucharist above the other two, thereby robbing them of equal standing and giving them lesser validity.

The 1983 conference will reach a final resolution of the matter. The intervening year promises to be a critical time for reevaluating not only ordinances but also the whole question of local church freedom versus denominational identity.


Creationism Is A Hot Topic As Evangelical Scientists Meet

Several hundred American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) members meeting August 13 to 16 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, heard geneticist V. Elving Anderson affirm the “argument from design.” In an earlier form that argument led nineteenth-century creationists to conclude that God wound up the cosmic clock and left it running. Their conclusion (deism) was wrong, Anderson said, but not the argument itself. His three lectures on “designer genes” showed how the design of human bodies, brains, and much behavior is chemically encoded in human chromosomes.

Anderson, associate director of the University of Minnesota’s Dight Institute for Human Genetics and a former ASA president, is currently president of the scientific research society Sigma Xi. He was an ideal choice to keynote the 1982 meeting, according to biochemist Robert L. Herrmann, executive director of the 41-year-old evangelical ASA. Herrmann called Anderson both a competent scientist and caring human being, “a role model for many of us. Elving not only does hard-headed research on hereditary diseases like epilepsy but counsels married couples who are carriers of defective genes. The better his scientific work, the better advice he can give to prospective parents. Doing good science is one way to serve God. That’s what ASA stands for.”

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Anderson said that only 1 percent of human DNA carries the design for known biological structures, and that today’s recombinant DNA techniques (used for “genetic engineering”) are revealing unexpected complexity in the way genes work.

How did it all begin? On life’s origins, Anderson took a position unlikely to please extremists of either the evolutionary or special-creation camps: “We cannot say that problem has been solved, but neither can we say it is insoluble.” On human origins: “Those who argue for a fiat creation of human beings must account for the remarkable similarities of humans and animals. Those who think God used previously existing genetic material must account for human uniqueness. Both positions present problems. We should be grateful for our status of bearing God’s image, which makes spiritual life possible. We should also thank God for the characteristics we share with animals. They make scientific medicine possible and remind us that we, too, are his creatures.”

With the Arkansas “balanced treatment” creationism trial past and a similar trial in Louisiana now postponed, the creation-evolution controversy was on many minds.

The nearest thing to confrontation came during a plenary session, when Louisiana State University chemistry professor Dewey K. Carpenter characterized “scientific creationism” as a view that focuses so much on events in the distant past as to rob the biblical doctrine of creation of most of its intended content. The next speaker was Dallas Theological Seminary professor Norman L. Geisler, who reiterated his Little Rock testimony that the creationism defined in the Arkansas law is not religious but scientific “in the broad sense.” In the narrow sense, he said, science deals only with repeatable events in the present, so “neither creation nor evolution is scientific.” Called on to comment, Carpenter said “I hope it’s clear that Dr. Geisler and I are expressing views about as opposite as one could imagine.” Many in the audience agreed with Geisler that “creation versus evolution is not the real issue” but doubted that his posing of “naturalism versus supernaturalism” was much help. One biologist said, “Look, science deals only with natural phenomena. As a scientist and a Christian, I have to be both a naturalist and a supernaturalist. I’m also both a creationist and an evolutionist. I believe God did it, but how?”

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One session made it clear that the Creation Research Society (CRS) of San Diego, often described in the press as an ASA splinter group, is in no sense a “clone” of the older group.

H. Harold Hartzler, retired physics professor at Minnesota’s Mankato State University and former ASA executive secretary, described the relationship between ASA and CRS, pointing to differences in their doctrinal statements. CRS members are committed to a strict interpretation of Genesis, including the flood of Noah as “an historic event worldwide in its extent and effect.” ASA members affirm belief in the Bible as “the inspired Word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct”; in Jesus Christ as the only mediator of salvation; and in science as a valid way to explore God’s creation. ASA leaves all other matters open to discussion. As a member of both societies, Hartzler said that most CRS members believe the age of the earth to be under 10,000 years, or 100,000 at the most. Some ASA members hold similar views, but most accept the evidence for an age in billions of years and many consider evolution a mechanism God used to create new forms of life. Emphasizing many common beliefs shared by ASA and CRS, Hartzler urged closer cooperation between the two societies.

Adventists Report On Bankruptcy Scandal

In 1981, Seventh-day Adventist Donald Davenport, a Los Angeles developer, filed for bankruptcy. It was no ordinary bankruptcy. A subsequent lawsuit—filed by SDA church members—charges that Adventist clergy negligently invested church trust funds with Davenport. When Davenport’s empire collapsed, church agencies lost $21 million, and individual Adventists may have lost as much as $20 million.

Now SDA president Neal Wilson has released a gargantuan (624-page) report investigating the Davenport bankruptcy. Wilson has arranged a special committee to review and analyze the report and to recommend “remedial and preventive procedures to the general conference.”

Wilson, writing in the church’s weekly magazine, the Adventist Review, said most of the problems “could have been avoided if church policies had been followed.” He said the report may indicate “some may be guilty of a conflict of interest and possibly other infractions,” but “in all likelihood most acted in good faith.”

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Wilson is apparently not letting all church officials involved off the hook. He said that “leaders who show inability to work in harmony with established financial policy shall not be continued.” The president said a conflict of interest existed if one invested personally more than “minimal” sums of money with Davenport while committees over which the investor presided also had loans with Davenport. Special favors from Davenport or higher rates of returns than the developer was granting to church institutions would also constitute conflict of interest, Wilson said.

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