Roland and Georgette Robidoux, founders of "The Body of Christ", left the Pasadena-based Worldwide Church of God (WCOG) in Mendon, Rhode Island around 1976. The WCOG in those days was an extremely repressive, religious fringe group, whose theological makeup was an eclectic mish-mash created by founder/prophet Herbert W. Armstrong. Armstrong began this organization in 1935 and ran it with absolute authority as God's "endtime prophet" until his death in 1986. Similarities with the Attleboro group can be seen in seed form in the WCOG. Some of the distinctive beliefs and practices of the WCOG back in the 70's were: WCOG as God's endtime group and true Church, no use of cosmetics, no celebration of birthdays or holidays, avoidance of medical system, withholding medical treatment from children, radical distrust of the world and withdrawal from all government systems, use of the designation "Church of God," etc.
The Robidouxs left the WCOG in the late 70's specifically because it was such a controlling organization and "not of God." They vowed that they would "never be involved in that kind of a group again." The repressiveness and control were too much to tolerate. However, when people leave a cult, unless they receive help to process what happened to them, they frequently enter into another controlling group or recreate the very environment they left. The latter is exactly what occurred with the Robidouxs, and what led to the eventual creation of "The Body of Christ."
The time was approximately 1997 and the group had been in existence, in some form or another, for at least fifteen years. It was also flourishing. Aside from some anti-social practices and a very intense, fringe belief system, it was a harmless and benign group that was living semi-communally in a few households. Roland Robidoux has been "ordained" a pastor. Four men had married into the group and many of the women were having one child after another. Roger Daneau, a man whose family belonged to the group, had a Masonry business that was grossing well over $100,000.00 a year. Roland Robidoux's Ash Magic Chimney Sweep business was equally as profitable. "The Body of Christ" Descent from Benign Bible Study to Destructive Cult
"...this family-oriented cult was formed by Roland Robidoux several years ago when he split from the Worldwide Church of God (a group that is itself described as a mind control cult- especially at the time that Robidoux left it) and started his own "Bible study group." We know this because Brian Weeks, now a pastor, left the Worldwide Church of God with Robidoux. Weeks later split with Robidoux because he saw that he was going further and further away from the Bible." Attleboro Sect
"Whatever the leader says, followers will do. When Robidoux read the book, ''Born in Zion,'' by Carol Balizet, it led him to make more and more extreme changes. Balizet, a former emergency room nurse who now has her own "ministry", advocates natural home births, claiming only prayer is needed. Members who are legally blind have had to get rid of their glasses, believing that God would heal their eyes if they are "faithful". Former member Mingo says that several of them are "blind as bats," but refuse to wear glasses. Members do not celebrate birthdays, holidays, read newspapers, magazines, watch TV or movies. They burned all of their old photographs in order to block them from remembering the past. They were told that looking at photographs is an act of vanity. Men wear long beards and the women all wear long cotton dresses." Attleboro Sect
The Daily Free Press of Boston University had this to say about Roland Robidoux and what the cult believed:
It seems Roland Robidoux, dead Samuel’s grandfather, began the cult after a break from the Worldwide Church of God, and after parting ways with his former pastor partner, Brian Weeks, who heads the Jericho Christian Fellowship in Middleboro.
Robidoux became more antisocial with age. He hung his number in the rafters and left the game for good, running to Attleboro with a number of his devoted followers. Together, they scorned society and technology alike, spat on medicine and worshipped the words of the Old Testament. “They really believe God is in charge,” Brian Weeks told The Boston Globe, “and that God is speaking to them.”
To raise money, members of the community did odd masonry jobs in Attleboro, kept a chimney-sweeping business and, of course, were skilled carpenters. No small task considering sect members were prohibited from wearing eyeglasses (despite, as one sharp cookie from the Sun-Chronicle noted, “the near-sightedness of some of its members”).
Indeed, mind control within The Body is a hot topic. Robert Thornburg, former Marsh Chapel dean, once said, “It appears they are a group that does not allow the individual to make distinctive moral personal decisions apart from the leader.” Like Koresh for the Branch Davidians, Robidoux has led his believers further into seclusion.
This isolation remains so complete that The Body’s members don’t move to recruit new members. Instead, they sit back in their sparse rooms and languish over the ideals spread by the Old Testament, all the while dreaming of the Promised Land, of Zion, of God’s Great Kingdom. Of Maine.
I wouldn’t lie to you. The Body believes Maine is THE holy land. It has the significance to these people that Jerusalem holds to other, more traditional religions. LIVE FROM THE HILLS: The Return Of The Body
The Attleboro sect, founded by Roland Robidoux -- Jacques' father -- by the late 1990s rejected the outside world and handed down sometimes extreme visions, or "leadings," that members were to follow. Sect member G. Michelle Mingo claimed to have a vision from God that said Samuel must be only breast-fed. The reason? Karen Robidoux must atone for vain interest in her appearance.
The boy had already begun eating solid food. The breast-milk regimen left him dead in April 1999 after 51 days. Karen Robidoux could not produce enough breast milk for Samuel because she was pregnant at the time, according to the prosecutor and the defense lawyer. As part of the sect's vision, she was ordered to drink at least a gallon a day of almond milk, which did not provide enough nutrients.
Karen and Jacques Robidoux lived in the basement of Renee and Dan Horton's house during the time Samuel weakened. Karen Robidoux, 29, and Renee Horton, 33, are daughters of Roger and Vivian Daneau, who were heavily involved in the sect. Horton testified that, prior to March 1999, Samuel was sitting up by himself, crawling, beginning to explore. Once the diet began, she only saw him being held.
Horton said that the day she heard Mingo's vision, she told Karen Robidoux it was "ridiculous." Robidoux, she said, sobbed. Horton said similar moments would follow, with Robidoux saying she didn't know what to do and, at one point, collapsing in Horton's arms. Witness pleaded for her nephew's lifeAnother of the cult members, Rebbecca Corneau kept a diary that chronicled the agonizing death of Samuel:
``Our prayers should not be for Samuel to be healed but for God's purposes to be fulfilled. This is all we can do for Samuel,'' cult member Rebecca Corneau wrote in a journal entry 12 days before 11-month-old Samuel Robidoux died.
`Our prayers should not be for Samuel to be healed but for God's purposes to be fulfilled. This is all we can do for Samuel,'' cult member Rebecca Corneau wrote in a journal entry 12 days before 11-month-old Samuel Robidoux died.
The journal's shocking details were provided yesterday by Robert Pardon, a cult expert who has studied the group for years and has overseen Robidoux's deprogramming.
Robidoux, who argued the group forced her to stop feeding her son, was acquitted of second-degree murder Tuesday for Samuel's April 29, 1999, death but was convicted of assault and battery. She was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail but was credited with time served and released.
Samuel's 51-day demise was documented by Corneau in an April 17, 1999, teaching by cult leader Roland Robidoux titled ``Trial to the End.'' Referred to as ``dad,'' Roland Robidoux told his followers they had to comply with God's will, even though Samuel was wasting away before their eyes.
`Dad feels that the end is coming soon. He asks for mercy daily for Samuel because it is for us that he is going through this,'' Corneau wrote.
The boy's aunt, Michelle Mingo, allegedly prophesied that Robidoux's unborn child would die unless Samuel was switched from table food to a breast milk-only diet. Robidoux, who was pregnant, stopped producing milk, and Samuel died three days before his first birthday.
In an April 17, 1999, entry, Mingo wrote: ``We put Samuel in God's hands and leave him there.''
``What can we do for Samuel? Nothing,'' she wrote. ``God is the master. We are his servants.'' Journal shows sect let baby starve ‘in God’s hands’
Dennis Mingo, a member of the cult had this to say about its teachings. He later testified in court about the aberrant teachings of the Robidoux's:
"Dennis B. Mingo had become a foreigner in his own home.
The increasingly strict commandments of his small religious sect made him question his faith -- the faith subscribed to by his wife, her parents and her brother and sisters.
"They were ideas at first," Mingo testified yesterday in Superior Court. "If you want to call them rules later, that's what they became."
Eyeglasses were forbidden, along with visits to the doctor and taking medicine.
All books, except the Bible, had to be discarded.
Family photographs were destroyed.
And familiar holidays and birthdays were outlawed.
"Birthdays are a very selfish day, and you're supposed to live a very selfless life," Mingo testified. "And bad things happen on people's birthdays in the Bible."
He questioned the new rules, sometimes privately, sometimes to his wife, G. Michelle Mingo, the daughter of the sect's founder, J. Roland Robidoux. Distance grew between him and other members of the group.
"They felt that I had a wrong attitude, a negative attitude. I was made to feel the group was following God and there was something wrong with me," Mingo testified. "I was unwelcome on the premises -- my home."
Mingo left the group in November 1998, moving out of the house he owned with his wife and her grandmother.
But Mingo would be back.
And his return would spell trouble for the sect." Ex-sect member describes notes about boy's declineSadly, the abuse of Jacques son by his father was just the tip of the iceberg. 14 other children of the cult were also abused. One of their teachings was one of the teachings of Armstrongism concerning corporal punishment. They beat their children to "break their spirit". Like some other exCOG members who left Armstrongism
Fourteen children were physically abused and medically neglected in The Body, a cultlike organization controlled by their grandfather, Roland Robidoux, and his son Jacques Robidoux. When they were rescued, the victims included: 4 children of Jacques and Karen Robidoux; 5 children (ages 3 to 10) of Dennis and Michelle (Robidoux) Mingo; 4 daughters of David and Rebecca (Robidoux) Corneau; and 1 infant daughter of Mark and Trinette (Robidoux) Daneau. Three additional children (Jacques’s son Samuel and two of the Corneaus’ children) died before they could be removed from their parents’ custody. All the children were homeschooled.
Roland encouraged sect members “to beat their children with paddles to ‘break their spirit’ and encouraged spanking babies who were just a few months old.” Sect members opposed traditional medicine (including eyeglasses), practiced unassisted homebirths, and never took their children to a doctor. The Corneaus’ two dead children—Jeremiah, born in spring 1999, and an unnamed child born in late 2001—were stillborn due to complications in unassisted homebirths. Samuel Robidoux was 11 months old when he was deliberately starved to death after a religious vision by Michelle Mingo. Homescooling's Invisible Chidlren: 14 Children by Roland and Jacques RobidouxDennis Mingo also had this to say about the corporal punishment in the cult:
"Attleboro cult leader Roland Robidoux taught his brainwashed minions to beat their children with paddles to ”break their spirit” and encouraged spanking babies who were just a few months old as ”training,” an ex-member testified yesterday.
”As soon as they could crawl or walk, that’s when the training would begin,” former sect member Dennis Mingo said from the witness stand in Taunton Superior Court. ”Roland had a saying: All he needed was two weeks and a paddle and he could straighten out any child. That was his philosophy.”
"Mingo acknowledged that children in the sect were struck with wooden paddles which some members wore around their necks like necklaces. He testified the children’s beatings were designed by Roland Robidoux to ”break their spirit.” Children as young as 1 were made to stand at attention and remain quiet while adults held religious pow-wows in Mingo’s Seekonk home, he said.
”I found myself disciplining the kids not because of what the kidsStrict discipline: Ex-member testifies cult beat childrenLiving Armstrongism had this in 2013:
The following are quotes from articles as preserved by the Rick A. Ross Institute:
"Weeks [a former associate of Roland Robidoux] said he and Robidoux broke from a California branch of the fundamentalist group, Worldwide Church of God, and established their own small churches in Mansfield and Mendon, R.I. Back then, Weeks said, Roland Robidoux and his wife, Georgette, were community-oriented and ''great role models'' and parents to Jacques and their other children.
A few years later, Weeks left the group over philosophical differences and joined another congregation.
It was in the decades following, Weeks said, that the Robidouxes joined with a few other families and cut themselves off from society, living frugally off money earned through masonry work, carpentry and a chimney sweep business.
The church cut themselves off entirely from outside society, he said. Some sect members intermarried, including Jacques, who wed Karen, the daughter of another group member. "
Boston Globe, February 7, 2000
By Erica Noonan)
Visitors to the park with video recorders captured 23 group members on tape, hands clasped, celebrating something they called the "Feast of the Tabernacles," the men wearing long beards and tall hats and the children learning to follow the dance their parents practiced, authorities said. The women wore long-sleeved cotton dresses that covered them from neck to ankle, and avoided the eyes of strangers and ignored greetings from neighbors and strangers alike. "After little Samuel died, his father and mother prayer over his dead body for a week expecting him to be healed and resurrected. How sick can people get!
For a week after Samuel died, Karen and Jacques knelt over his body and prayed for resurrection. A few months later, one former member who had left because of concerns returned to visit family members who remained. He noticed Samuel was gone and informed government authorities. They arrested Jacques, held him on contempt charges when he refused to cooperate with attempts to locate Samuel, and began investigating the cult.
They learned that an apparently healthy baby, according to the cult’s journals, died during a home birth in the Attleboro commune because of lack of medical attention. Later, after Samuel’s death, another baby died: Investigators concluded the baby was stillborn.As Jaques has been sitting in prison these many years he is starting to wake up to what he did. Of course he "found God". While I want to believe that, it is an all too frequent a convenient excuse for those convicted of crimes. However, Rubidoux also reached out the cult recovery people who originally help prosecute him, the Pardons.
Investigators eventually discovered Samuel’s body. Trials came and Jacques went to prison for the rest of his life. Karen and Jacques’ prophecy-wielding sister had short prison stints on lesser charges. Jacques’ initial prison time was almost fatal. Other inmates beat him unconscious for being a “baby killer.” When he came to, he said, he spent an hour not knowing where he was or anyone’s name. But he says he remembered God’s name, and prayed.
Jacques says he maintained an “anti-system” outlook over this time, thinking his sentence was just something to be endured while God’s bigger plan for him and his family appeared. He still had appeals left. But about a year after his sentencing, Jacques received divorce papers from Karen and realized what he had done: He had starved his son to death.
Robidoux began questioning which of his beliefs had come from God, and which hadn’t. He began to feel emotions for the first time in years. He wanted to die. He fell on the floor of his cell and cried out, “How many times in my life, prior to these events, had You kept me from doing something really stupid? Had You sent someone into my life to give me good counsel? How many times had You blessed me with this, that, and the other? … You couldn’t have kept me from starving my son to death?”
He realizes now he was blaming God for his son’s death, but that began a conversation. Jacques mostly spent the next years alone, wrestling directly with God. The Massachusetts Department of Corrections eventually transferred Robidoux to the protective unit at a medium-security prison in Bridgewater—15 minutes from the Pardons. He reached out to them. They began visiting him, and those conversations became crucial to his healing, he says. When the fog lifts
Like almost all of the other splinter groups of Armstrongism that have broken off, it started as a "benign" Bible Study group. It did not take long for dreams and visions to start appearing to the leader of the group. People get all hot and huffy when I continue to expose Bob Thiel and this is why. Thiel, while claiming he is benign is filled with one idiotic dream after another that sounds halfway plausible for anyone easily sucked into these kinds of groups. That need to feel special, that Armstrongism instilled in church members, is still a dangerous mentality that far too many in the various splinter groups still hold dearly to today. It is easier for a man who has dreams and visions to tell them what to do than it is to think for themselves.
Bob Thiel, Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, Ron Wienlnad all exhibit the things mentioned below:
Two years ago we received a call one afternoon from a very distraught woman. With great concern and distress in her voice, she explained that her nieces and nephews were in a shopping mall parking lot up in Maine. They were with this strange religious group that her brother was a member of. They had no food or gas, and "were just waiting on God." They had also been in this condition for days, and she was deeply concerned that something was going to happen to the children. The caller was the sister of one of the members of "The Body of Christ" (as they referred to themselves), and that was our first introduction to this group that resided in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Thus began our odyssey with one of the most totalistic, destructive groups we have ever worked with. Within a matter of one year, two children would die and be secretly buried in Baxter State Park in Maine, all according to the will of God. One child, Samuel Robidoux, by God's "leading" was slowly starved to death. The other child, Jeremiah Corneau, was supposedly "stillborn." When the authorities were eventually notified of this by a former member of "The Body of Christ," thirteen children were immediately removed from the group's compound by the Department of Social Services, and criminal charges were brought against many members.When this case first appeared in the press, we were introduced by an investigator to the presiding Judge. After he interviewed us, the Judge requested we serve as Guardian Ad Litem ("next best friend") for the children removed by Social Services. Our responsibility was to produce an investigative report for the Judge that would help the court decide what was in the best interests of the children.
High-control, destructive groups like "The Body of Christ" exist on a continuum. Some exercise a minimum of destructive control over their members' lives while others destroy the very emotional fabric, and even physical lives, of those who come under their sway (People's Temple, Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate, etc.). Groups become totalistic when they invade every area of a person's life. They become destructive when the member's individuality, personhood and freedom are manipulated and destroyed. "The Body of Christ" Descent from Benign Bible Study to Destructive CultThere is nothing Innocent, benign or Biblical about Bob Thiel and the rest of these sick groups. More and more visions and dreams will come from these professional liars and more and more people will be sucked in till someone dies and there is a public outrage. Sadly even then, their most loyal followers will claim Satan is punishing them and will believe this is just one more test they have to endure.
The article about Rubidoux ends with this:
Robidoux wrote about his transformation: “The heart is a complex thing. … Thank goodness we have a Creator who knows its inner workings better than we do ourselves. Some walls come down in a day, while others take years. … The payoff is a true healing, where hurt and fear and doubt and anger no longer hold sway.”
As Robidoux considers the rest of his life in prison, he hopes his story is useful for others who might get sucked into a destructive cult. He advises those in similar circumstances to beware isolation, analyze critically, and ask questions. When the fog liftsThe people who follow Thiel, Pack, Flurry, Malm, Weinland, Kubik and all the other various splinter cult leaders of Armstrongism should follow the advice of Rubidoux in the comments above. They need to analyze critically and ask questions!
When the fog lifts
"The Body of Christ" Descent from Benign Bible Study to Destructive Cult
COMMONWEALTH vs. JACQUES ROBIDOUX