A Pastor’s Family in Saxony Experiences Members of the Holic Group (1997)
At the twenty-seventh Protestant Church Convention in Leipzig (editor’s note: 1997), my wife met a young man with whom she got into a conversation “about God and the world.” He presented himself as very faithful, scriptural, and critical of the church. We don’t know his full name, only his first name, Matthias, and that he came from Berlin. He asked my wife for our telephone number, in order to perhaps get in touch again. My wife complied with this request.
The following Thursday, the call came. Matthias wanted to travel into the Harz Mountains for the weekend to visit friends there, and he wanted to stop by our place on the way over and back. We agreed. On Friday, three young people arrived, who conversed with my wife, because I could not be there myself. They talked with her until well into the night about the Bible, faith, and the church. At first tentatively, but then more distinctly, they made their views of the church clear. They repeatedly asserted that they were not a cult, but referred to themselves as the truly faithful believers on the basis of their break with the church. They supported this repeatedly and prolifically with quotes from the Bible. Despite this, the evening passed in a rather friendly atmosphere.
On their return trip on Sunday, they visited us again, and I was able to get to know them more directly. Their arguments became more pointed, especially toward my wife. They expressed that, from the Bible itself, they could prove that the church has nothing to do with Jesus and His message any more. On the contrary, the church nullifies it.
As we learned in these conversations, the two women [who were speaking with us] were former church workers, who left the church “with a big fuss” because of negative personal experiences. In this phase they had been forbidden to speak in churches by the regional church office, and they had been fired by their congregation. They indicated that the reason for this was their Bible-centered proclamation.
Their message to us was that we already knew what the Bible says, and because of this knowledge about the errors of the church, we must leave it. In conversation with my wife they became even more vehement. They argued that we surely know the church is guilty of distorting the Biblical message. In addition, my wife is a church worker and married to a pastor. That means that she receives money from this organization. In order to be saved, she would have to break away from the church, and if I didn’t want to take this step with her, then my wife would have to separate herself from the family (pointing to Jesus’ true family!). [The Holic Group exploits the New Testament narrative about Jesus comparing the church to His biological family (Matthew 12:48, Luke 8:21).]
My wife naturally rejected this as absurd, and she emphatically distanced herself from [these ideas]. Our visitors told us that they meet with others of the same belief every weekend at a freeway exit, and then visit friends. During the week they work and share their money in order to rent a car (a van or some larger vehicle).
After the visit on Sunday evening, they departed and promised to come back “as they had opportunity.” This opportunity occurred on the following Friday (July 4). After several explanations from me that we were not interested in further contact, I turned the doorbell off around 10:00 PM; the door of the apartment building was locked. Around 10:30 PM, they knocked on our apartment door. Our “visitors” had gotten into corridor of our apartment building, because they had stood in the yard and called for my wife so long, that the resident of the ground floor apartment asked who they were. [They said] they were my wife’s friends, but they weren’t being heard. They wanted to visit her. The woman naïvely opened the door to the building.
The situation had become somewhat scary for us. We were sure that we must dealing with a cult. It was not clear to us what they would do next. Because we have three small children, we decided not to get into any discussion with them. I made it extremely clear to the intruders that they were not desired in this building. If they didn’t leave, I would consider myself forced to call the police because they were disturbing the peace. They remained unusually friendly, [saying that] they only wanted to talk to my wife; she should tell them herself that she didn’t want to have anything to do with them. They said that she was entrapped by evil (meaning by me, as an employee of the church!); that they knew that my wife would gladly be freed of this; but that I would prevent [their] contacting [her]. My wife was naturally not ready to speak with these people!
This conversation between me and these people transpired through the closed door to our apartment. Nonetheless, I had the impression that neither of them was in full possession of their intellectual faculties. I suspected the influence of alcohol or drugs, but on the other hand, that would have contradicted their statements from the previous weekend (“Pastors are the nemesis of Jesus’ teachings, but the pastors who smoke and drink alcohol are worse. But the very worst are the homosexual pastors.”) Perhaps they were in a type of religious delirium or had a kind of mental illness? I repeated my threat to call the police. Their answer: “We have a mission to complete, and even the police can’t keep us from it.” The police came, the “visitors” reacted very nicely, and their personal data was written up. The officer in charge explained the legal situation to them again. [He said that] if they trespassed on the property again, they would have to reckon with legal charges being filed. They listened to all of this, understood it, and the police escorted them out of the building. One of the women asked the officer in charge (apparently absent-mindedly): “Did K. (my wife) tell you why she doesn’t want to speak to us?” The police officer corrected her: he wasn’t there to explain why their presence wasn’t desired, but rather to restore peace and quiet.
The next morning, five people from this group were suddenly on our property, and made futile efforts to hide this fact. As we later learned, they had parked their car at a remote place in the area, from which they could clearly observe the parsonage. They’d slept overnight in a sheltered bus stop. In the morning they asked the children who were passing by on their way to the bakery, or who were playing outdoors, about us, about our children, and about our routines. We found this threatening, primarily for our children, because we didn’t know which type of a cult we were dealing with, and in the meantime we thought them capable of kidnapping and extortion.
A congregational excursion was planned for this day, and we went as planned. The group still hung around the entire day in our town, asking people about the life of the church, about upcoming worship services, and about us. Saturday evening came and went without incident, and there was no disruption of the worship service on Sunday morning, although I had expected this. But on Monday morning, the phone started ringing continuously at 7:30 AM. At first, they told my wife (I was at the school) that they’d be there at 3:00 PM, but then they didn’t talk any more, they simply let it ring a few times and then hung up. The neighbors were likewise tyrannized with phone calls. But the announced visit didn’t take place. Since then, we’ve heard nothing from these people.
We learned from friends that they, too, had been harassed with similar methods a while ago. The message, too, was the same, and they had said that they had a location in Hausdorf, a town on the Mulde River (in the area of Colditz). According to their statements, they have around 40 members or sympathizers, primarily in the area of the former East Germany. The centers [of their activity] seem to be Berlin and the Harz Mountains. They said that they also had friends “in the area of Döbeln,” but whether they meant Hausdorf or not, I don’t know.