While these disgusting parents were not typical of COG parents, they did represent many in the fringe element of the church that had the same attitude. Armstrongism has always attracted a fringe group of people who are attracted to all the death, doom and destruction supposedly to be coming on the world. These people are also the ones who are into the conspiracy theories, concentration camps, into survivalist/white supremacy and other aberrant beliefs. These people also look at any writings of the founders, HWA/GTA, Rod Meredith, Gerald Flurry and Dave Pack and others, as God inspired and therefore equal to the Bible. These people have bought into the aberrant beliefs of Armstrongism and have taken it to a darker level.
You all know who I am speaking of. Every church area had a couple of families or members who were like this. Their women wore long dresses with sleeves, no make up. Personal hygiene was not a necessary part of life. Their cars were old run down things that somehow miraculously got them to church each week. They either lived in low income areas or on land outside of town that was set back from the road, hidden from view. Abandoned cars, trash, run down homes and trailers was the scenery. Their Bibles were the Moffat translation with it's wide margins so color coded that you would never recognize it as a Bible. They were almost always hard core legalists who would get bent out of shape at the slightest infractions by others. Their church face was one of pious humility in following God to the letter of the law. Their mantra was. "God looks at the inward things of the heart and not at the outward appearances."
However, once they got in their cars to go home they were returning to a different world. Husbands beat their wives, parents beat their children, children were starved and locked up. Child abuse was rampant, mentally, physically and sexually.
Now back to the Oregon Church of God couple. Their names were Robyn and Graydon Drown from Turner Oregon.
The Drown's took Herbert Armstrong's, Garner Ted's and Rod Meredith's child rearing tactics to heart and to the extreme. In the early years of the church the Church of God advocated corporal punishment as the highest form of child training. HWA, Merdith and others thundered from the pulpit child rearing sermons. Parents were to spank their children for being rebellions. In the Dayton area, Carn Catherwood, fresh out of Ambassador College Pasadena, told parents from the pulpit that they were to spank their children 25 times and that he wanted to hear the swats carry out into the meeting room. Spokesman Club, as a fundraiser, sold one inch thick paddles with holes drilled through them to cut down on wind resistance. These paddles were covered with scripture advocating spanking.
The Drown's actually moved from California which has harsh corporal punishment laws to Alaska where they could dish out punishment without restrictions while maintaining their ties to the WCG. After the WCG started making its theology changes the Drowns then jumped ship to be "Jewish". Graydon had been injured in an accident and claimed that his recovered lead him to Judaism. It was eventually the Rabbi that help put them into prison. No Church of God minister ever intervened in these kids lives.
Robyn Drown (nee Lewis) and Graydon Drown both grew up in Alaska. As children she and Graydon attended church congregations of the Worldwide Church of God about 100 miles apart, but their families knew each other. Graydon Drown then moved closer to Anchorage and began attending the same church as she did. Robyn Lewis and Graydon Drown were married, with Robyn's parents consent, when Robyn was 15. Their first child was born a few months later. Following their marriage Robyn and Graydon Drown lived in California, Alaska, Oregon, and Hawaii. Leading a sparse and insulated lifestyle, at one point the entire family set up camp near Mill City in a sport utility vehicle and a tent. The children who testified this week said they never attended school or saw a doctor or dentist. Portland IndyMedia
Robyn and Graydon Drown were raised in Alaska, about 100 miles apart. Both of their families attended the Worldwide Church of God, a fundamentalist sect dictated by oversight from church elders and stringent moral codes.When Graydon Drown moved to Anchorage, Alaska, as a young man, it was closer to Robyn Drown's family, and they began dating.Later, while he was studying at Ambassador College, the church's college in Texas, Graydon Drown wrote a letter to Robyn and told her that God ordained her to be his wife, just as Rebecca became Isaac's wife in the Bible.Robyn Drown's parents, Roger and Sandra Lewis, described to the jury how their daughter increasingly was under the control of her husband. The Lewises spoke of times when Robyn left Graydon to seek shelter with them, but eventually returned. Statesman Journal
While pregnant with their fourth child, the oldest of the nine who have recently been placed in protective custody, it is alleged that Robyn and Graydon Drown fled California to Alaska to ensure they could raise their newborn with their harsh form of discipline and avoid paying child support for the oldest three. The Drowns and her family, by the last name of Lewis, of Anchorage, were members of the radical Worldwide Church of God in Alaska. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldwide_Church_of_God ) The Drowns moved to Oregon a couple of years ago and claim to have recently converted to Judaism, however acquaintances say that they are not Jewish and their religion changes to suit their circumstances. http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/12/383631.shtml
"...witnesses for Robyn Drown's defense, her younger sister Heather Larson described to the jury how she and her sister were raised in Anchorage, Alaska, under the faith of the Worldwide Church of God. Larson described the ministers having nearly complete control over the family's lives, including relationships, child-rearing and financial decisions.Larson said the church sanctioned""...Graydon Drown believed he was the Messiah and told Robyn Drown that his orders to her came from God. The two were both raised as believers of the Worldwide Church of God and lived in remote parts of Alaska during their marriage before moving to Oregon in 2004.
Holstedt described how Graydon Drown often would recite passages from the Old Testament as arguments for why she should obey him."http://www.statesmanjournal.com
As a witness for her sister's defence, Robyn Drown's younger sister Heather Larson said she and her sister were raised in Anchorage, Alaska under the faith of the Worldwide Church of God. ( link to en.wikipedia.org) Members of the Worldwide Church of God consent to giving the ministers nearly complete control over a family's life, including relationships, child-rearing and financial decisions. Larson said the church sanctioned punishing children using belts, but that she never struck her own children. ("The Plain Truth About Child Rearing" by Herbert W. Armstrong) Robyn Drown's supporters outside the courtroom, however, deny that family and extended family have had any affiliation in over twenty years with the Worldwide Church of God or its offshoots. Robyn Drown's family supported her marriage to Graydon throughout.
Larson said the church sanctioned punishing children using belts, but that she never struck her own children.
The Drwon's methods of punishment were 2"x4".s, metal and plastic pipes, whips, and fiberglass tent poles with rope at the end with knots.
At one of the court proceedings one of their daughters said this:
One of the older boys still at home got tired of the abuse and secretly videotaped his father beating his younger sister while their mother stood by watching and not intervening. He laid the camera on the bed so all that could be seen was some clothing and a blanket, but is what was heard that was frightening. It records the sound of Graydon beating his daughter with a fiberglass tent pole with a rope with knots on the end.
The oldest daughter recently described being spanked numerous times for the infraction of holding her aunt's hand without permission during a walk, court records show.According to a 1991 California appellate case that was filed on behalf of child-welfare officials, a psychiatric evaluation of Graydon Drown was done at that time. The report described Graydon Drown as adamant that he would continue to discipline his children in accordance with a religious treatise, which called for punishment immediately upon disobedience to the point of pain, but not bruising.
Marion County sheriff's Detective Mike Myers testified that he was one of the deputies who went to the couple's home in a rural area of Turner. Myers identified two of the alleged weapons seized during the investigation, the switchlike device and a four-foot pipe made of galvanized metal, allegedly used in beating one of the teenage sons.
The camera lens was apparently nestled on a bed, capturing a home video of jeans and a towel.But what was unseen was most telling, as the soft and indistinct tones of a child's voice suddenly gave way to pistol-like cracks of what sounded like a whip, followed by bawling and shrieks of pain.
A man's voice was speaking, at most times inaudibly, in a stony, staccato tone.
The oldest boy secretly videotaped one of the beatings against his younger sibling. He gave the recording to Salem Rabbi Avrohom Perlstein, who then turned it over to authorities.During Perlstein's testimony Tuesday, he identified the voices on the tape as Graydon and Robyn Drown, the child being beaten and the background voices of other children.Morris showed the jury Tuesday the alleged weapon thought to have been used for that beating, a fiberglass tent pole segment about two feet long, with an elastic cord tied in a knot that dangled from one end.On the video, a murmur of voices were exchanged. A man's voice was heard on the recording, asking,
"Where's the stick?"Then, nearly a dozen sharp cracks are heard. The girl was heard to sob "Daddy," and then a second series of cracks was heard, lasting twice as long. The girl's cries persisted.
The man also was heard to mention the "land of promise."
The children described how Graydon Drown would preach his doctrine, telling them that he was the Messiah.Agnes Opgenorth, now caring for some of the Drown children, wrote in a letter to the judge about the shifting blame - how Robyn blamed Graydon, and Graydon blamed God."And yes, Graydon, I said you blamed God because I am completely sure that God has never had a hand in any of your deeds," Opgenorth wrote. "If, as you claim, you hear a voice, I can promise you that it's not the voice of God because you are not a man of God ... If God ever even noticed your lowly existence at all, it could only have been a passing glance, while intervening to save your suffering children."Perlstein, who runs Chabad of Salem, said that it wasn't until after the Drowns' arrest that Perlstein learned Graydon Drown lied about being Jewish. During the trial, Graydon Drown wore a yarmulke, but was not wearing it when he was sentenced on Wednesday.Les Gutfreund testified how he employed Graydon Drown on a few carpentry jobs with his contracting business and was able to closely observe the family. He noticed bruises and red welts on some of the children, who always explained they were from horseplay or accidents. Later, he discussed his concerns with Rabbi Perlstein.Perlstein described in court the emphasis on secrecy and the expediency of reporting the abuse to authorities without Graydon Drown knowing."From what we've learned from the kids, and me, personally, there was no doubt that if Graydon knew, he'd pick up the house and go."rliao@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6941
Monday, July 21, 2008
To the Honorable Judge Tom Hart
To the Attorney General of the state of Oregon
And to whomever else it may concern
My name is Anya Warde and I am the oldest child of Graydon and Robyn Drown. I understand that they will have a bail hearing in August. I was very relieved when you denied my parents bail. I know that they are incapable of raising any bail and that their family members are not disposed to raise it for them. But it is possible that some other group or individuals might raise the money and that cannot happen. As you are probably aware, this is not the first time my parents have had children taken away from them. A sister, a brother, and myself were taken away because of child abuse when I was four years old. When it became apparent that they would not be getting us back, my parents left and moved to another state, Alaska. They stayed in the secluded areas of Alaska for the next 13 years, moving around and never giving us their physical address. My father and mother call infrequently, perhaps 2-3 times a year when I was a young child. These were not pleasant calls. Rather, they would contain 3-hour sermons from my father, attempting to raise his firstborn from a distance in what he believed. Every conversation ended with a promise to "rescue " us from our "kidnappers. " This was very upsetting to me, and for usually a month after one of these phone calls I would be very difficult to handle. I grew up with the fear of them lurking in the shadows, and even today I have a remnant of anxiety every time I go into a dark room. During one of these infrequent phone calls, my father told my grandparents, my guardians and his parents, that he had a "follower" that had offered to come down to California, snatch us up, and beat up my grandparents. I think a gun was also mentioned. I believe that not only is my father a flight risk, but that if he did have a disciple, and he has always had someone whom he had convinced for a while, or someone wanted to make a statement by helping him out, that he would be a threat to my brothers and sister, and a threat to their foster parents. I believe that even knowing that my father was out of jail could cause my siblings to be afraid. Please do not grant him any bail, however high. To my mind, it is not worth the risk.
As to my mother, I have heard from people who talk to her that they believe that she will be out of jail come August, whether by a small bail amount or by being released to her own cognizance I do not know, and that she will have access to the kids. I do not know if she is completely controlled by my father or not. However, if she is, I believe her fully capable of saying things that would make her children feel guilty about testifying against both herself and their father. If she has not been controlled this whole time, then she is as responsible as her husband in all of this, and she should not be allowed near them for the same reasons my father should not be. She has had practice with getting around the social workers during supervised visits, and I fear what influences she would have, one way or another, over the fragile peace and stability that the foster parents are trying to build for my siblings.
I understand that Graydon and Robyn Drown have rights, and that they are innocent until proven guilty. But the possible damage they could do to my brothers and sister, if there is even the slightest chance that they are guilty, does not seem worth giving them the chance at bail and I ask you to take these things into consideration on August 13th.
Religion News Blog reports on their sentencing:
Marion County Judge Thomas Hart sentenced Graydon Drown on Wednesday to 29 years in prison. Robyn Drown got 20 years. The sentences were longer, by at least two years, than what was recommended by prosecutors.
“God did bless you with these children,” Hart said when sentencing Robyn Drown, 42. “And you did not do for your children what God did for you.”
Sadly this is not an isolated case. Child abuse has been rampant in the church. Just one more sad legacy that the Churches of God cannot ignore.
You can read more here:
Graydon & Robyn Drown have 9 kids taken from them for abuse & neglect
Child-abuse victims' lives were 'a horror story'
Disturbing details - Robyn and Graydon Drown CHILD ABUSE TRIAL continues
Turner, Oregon residents Robyn and Graydon Drown to face 25 each in charges of CHILD ABUSE
Children of Robyn & Graydon Drown will remain in Protective Care
Fox News: Prosecutor: Oregon Couple Beat 9 of Their Children With Boards, Pipes and Spoons
Mother in child-abuse case says she also was victim She seeks bail, but judge asks why she stayed silent for years
Stunning admission in Robyn Drown CHILD ABUSE case