Thursday, April 26, 2007

Suffer the Little Children

I missed this story by Paul Kix when it first appeared in D magazine, but it's still worth a read.

God speaks to Doyle Davidson. It is a still, small voice that he not only hears but feels in his stomach. He feels it, hears it, often. He heard it about 20 years ago when God told Doyle he was a prophet and an apostle and a conduit through which God Himself would speak. That's why, today, when Doyle—a short, fit man of 74 with full but graying hair and small eyes set behind an aquiline nose—stops mid-sermon to blurt out a misogynistic non sequitur about the corruptive influence of women, he follows it up with, "Lord, are you trying to get me assassinated today?" The congregation at Water of Life church in Plano, where Doyle is pastor, laughs. Because the faithful know these aren't Doyle's words. These are God's. And over the years, God has said all sorts of things.

God told Doyle in 1981 that a Jezebel spirit ruled Plano, a spirit of witchcraft that originates in a woman and operates through her to rule men. God told Doyle—he prefers first name only—to inform a married woman named Lisa Staton that she was no longer married to her husband, J.R.—but to Doyle. (Never mind that Doyle himself was married at the time. God's law is above that of man.) The Statons have since gone into hiding. Yet Doyle has continued to write Lisa e-mails—sexually suggestive e-mails, threatening e-mails, loving e-mails—and post them on his web site. This is, after all, what God told Doyle to do.

God told Doyle—tells him still—that ministries other than his teach heresy. This gets Doyle in trouble with the local religious community and nationally with the television executives who broadcast his sermons. Doyle has been on television since 1984. Today he's seen on five stations in Dallas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; South Bend, Indiana; Joplin, Missouri; and Springfield, Missouri. Stations have dropped Doyle for statements he made about other televangelists, about how, say, Kenneth Copeland isn't following the true faith. Doyle even once said a victim at Columbine, a girl shot dead for her Christian beliefs, would have lived if she had had enough faith. And he has often called members of his own congregation "stupid," "a bitch," and, worse, "nonbelievers." But Doyle is unrepentant about all this.

. . .

But members who've left the church call Water of Life a cult and say its doctrines amount to brainwashing. Some fear consequences for having left the fold. One former member has organized a support group at a Garland church for ex-Water of Lifers struggling to escape its grip.

To hear this tests even Doyle's faith. Testing it more, though, is Dena Schlosser, a church member who attended services sometimes seven nights a week. In 2004, psychotic, off her medication, and thinking she was doing God's will, Schlosser used the biggest knife in her kitchen to cut off the arms of her 10-month-old baby. The murder and the trial that followed made international news. The media scrutinized the health system that failed Dena, investigating the doctors who diagnosed Dena
with postpartum psychosis; investigating Child Protective Services, which had a case file on her. Even Dena's husband, John Schlosser, came under fire for the role he played in the murder, by working to keep his ill wife out of the hospital and at home with their children.

But one man has largely escaped that scrutiny: Doyle Davidson. After all, John was just following Doyle's teachings. Doyle is the one who has declared that "medicine is witchcraft" and that physical and mental illness should be treated with prayer.

The rest is here.

1 comment:

Rod France said...

Doyle Davidson is a deceiver and an antichrist.