“Is anyone familiar with the “para-church” called the Navigators? They tend to latch onto military bases and college campuses. My ex-husband was in the Army and we were stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. While there, we were “recruited” (their word, not mine) into the group. We met twice a week for our official meetings, and at random times throughout the week for our fellowship time. The Navigators operates out of the facade of being extremely welcoming and inviting. Honestly, there were many good people in this group who were completely sincere and would give you the shirt of their backs… but the leaders, I saw right through them (eventually). We always met in homes or the chapel. There was a slew of type-A military men that had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to rank high in the ministry. A few things this group did were:
-Ranking systems (disciples/discipleship)
-Oppression of women. We were not to speak up, teach, or challenge our husbands decisions. Our modesty was a fundamental aspect of our acceptance in the group… Most of the wives stayed home and if a few did work or were single they were essentially treated as outsiders. I remember one time a particular young lady began to question the group on their theology – and my husband at the time was encouraged to have me, his wife, never talk to her again because she was a bad example to me. Because of her questioning, she was suddenly considered an enemy.
–Generous tithing was expected and pushed heavily. The tithe was given [edited] to the leader over all the groups, from what I believe. We were never given an exact answer as to where our money was going. We had about 5-10 sects, if you will. They were spread out by location, although most of us lived in the same neighborhood. So you could imagine, a lot of money was being poured in. I remember the first time the leader sat my husband down and drew a childish illustration showing “why” he should give money. Of course, he agreed and money was taken out of our bank account monthly.
-Legalism was HUGE but they would preach grace. There were unspoken rules, and even spoken ones. They were experts at guilt trips. We were expected to memorize scripture every week and were quizzed then shamed if you did not remember. To these people, knowledge was everything to combat the outside world and gain recruit$.
–You were discouraged from visiting local churches. The Navigators believed themselves to be the real image of how a church should be. The only church you could attend on Sunday was the chapel that supported them.
The hierarchy was the biggest way in which they took advantage of young military men and their wives, and I believe now looking back the motivator was money and power. Everyone seemed miserable, and I was too. Thankfully I only had to experience that for a few years, then we moved. But looking back, it pisses me off. I want to call them out on their bullshit but wonder if I should even waste my time. Have any of you had similar experiences with a so-called “para-church”?
From a Reddit thread titled: My Cult Experience