Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Escape by Rachel Martin (and Bonnie Palmer Young)

Another church library book...

Escape is "the true story of a young woman caught in the clutches of a religious cult"... but oddly, I really got the impression from the story -told in her own words- that she wasn't really caught in the clutches as much as she leaped into the steal trap of the cult.   

Rachel had a normal middle class Christian upbringing - including Christian school and regular church attendance, and it seemed from the outside that she had accepted the faith of her parents, and made it her own.  But when Rachel moves away from her family to begin working and saving for college, she quickly finds herself pursuing a life of too-easy relationships, pre-marital sex, materialism, and financial debt. She tries to come clean with her parents and ask for help, but doesn't want to disappoint them.

She approaches two bearded, robed men on the street one night, and it seems like they offer the perfect solutions - leave your life and troubles behind and dedicate yourself to nothing but Bible reading, study, prayer and preaching.  Rachel leaps before she looks, and is soon pressured into cutting off all ties with her past, her "flesh family" and her former sinful lifestyle.  She is an active, and for the most part willing, cult member for 18 months, during which time her family is frantically trying to track her down.  Her family members take a lot of risks to snatch her out of the jaws of the cult and take her away to be deprogrammed.

The most valuable part of the book, I think, is the final section where her parents address other parents, pointing of the potential warning signs that teens/young adults are vulnerable to the influence of a cult, and offering advice on how to rescue any loved one who is involved in cults.

On the down side, I have a hard time believing that Rachel was "brainwashed" as she was deprogrammed in less than 24 hours and seemed pretty aware of the choices that she had made throughout - I think rather that she was naive, under-educated in the scriptures and quite a bit foolish. 

Hesitantly recommended for parents - and even more hesitantly recommended for teens.

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