Reviews: ‘Undertow’ and ‘The Cult That Snapped’

undertow-300pxIn 1999, journalist Karl Kahler self-published The Cult that Snapped: A Journey into the Way International. It was riveting, both as a history of the Ohio-based cult and as a personal account of one man’s experience within it.

Kahler’s approach to the material was effective. He began by giving readers a seat at the turning point in the history of The Way – the reading of a document called “The Passing of a Patriarch.” The document was written by the Rev. Christopher C. Geer, head of the Way’s European arm. Geer had been personal bodyguard to Victor Paul Wierwille, founder of the Way, and in 1986 Geer recounted Wierwille’s last days before his death a year earlier.

More significantly, Geer accused The Way’s existing leadership of straying from its mission. No one was spared. Not the Way’s second president, L. Craig Martindale. Not the vice president, Wierwille’s oldest son Donald. Not the Way Corps, the energetic and fiercely loyal group of Way followers enrolled in a four-year program of education and indoctrination.

The Passing of a Patriarch would ultimately prove to be The Way’s undoing. The cult still exists today, but it is a shell of its former self.

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