Bill Castell 1/9/80
RELATIVE OF MEMBER SAW TRUTH
Naomi Kelly spent several weeks as a member of the Vine Christian Community Church,
living in one of the church-owned houses in Dalton. Her sister, Sarah Mosley,
visited her frequently in her repeated effort to persuade her to leave
What she saw in the home made her only more determined to, get her sister out
environment, she said. She spoke of improper diets, inhibited children, cluttered
nurseries and "half way presentable living conditions while relating her experiences
inside the communal home. "When they knew we were coming, they served
something like hamburgers." "When we visited unexpectedly, they served
collards, black beans and corn bread." -They received only two meals a day,
one at 5 in the morning and another at 4:30 in the afternoon."
Mrs. Mosley, who, along with her mother and two sisters, tried in vain to
stop Miss Kelly from joining the church group and then spent weeks pleading
for her to leave. They described living quarters at the church home as half
way presentable "if they knew we were coming. When they didn't know, it was
pretty rough. Three or four cribs occupied one room. It just didn't appear
clean, and it was very cluttered."
These conditions, she said, bothered her greatly. "The children were so shy
and inhibited. "They weren't playful like normal children." "There was a couple
in this group who had a little boy about 20 months old." "He was extremely inhibited
and wouldn't talk. " "When they finally left the church, the child was the first
one to snap back to reality." "After being out of that environment for about
three days, he turned back into a normal child and started talking." "When the
parents saw this, they snapped back" "Their change in their child brought them
around. " It really upsets her, she added "that they are messing up the minds
of little children."
Mrs. Mosley said her sister drifted toward the church shortly after their father
died. Miss Kelly earned degrees in psychology and sociology and was a Baptist
missionary for two summers. Then she became youth director for the Baptist Church
in Gadsden, Alabama. 'She became upset and dissillusioned with the church because
they wouldn't let her do what she felt needed to be done. Our father suggested
that she quit the job. Shortly after that, father died. He was a very good father,
and very wise. Naomi always looked to him for decisions. When he died, she no,
longer could turn to him for advice."
Naomi Kelly and some other young people in the area decided to start
a Bible study group. "Some of the Vine Church group was sent down here to
have Bible study with them. Naomi reached the point where she couldn't
even take meals with us. She slept at her mother's home but spent the rest of
the time with the church group.
"Within a month, her whole personality changed." "One day she'd say one thing
and then say something differently the next day after conversation with church
officials." When Naomi told family members that "God was telling them they needed
to go to, Chattanooga," Mrs. Mosley and her family "talked to Naomi non-stop
for about six hours."
"We seemed to make progress with her," she said, "until a community member came
in. " It was as if Naomi received a shot of adrenalin. Before, she couldn't
answer our questions. But when this girl came in, Naomi started popping back
with answers." "We begged her to wait one day and asked her to talk with Melinda
Horton (a former group member). She agreed to speak with Melinda only if I would
Weak with Gene Spriggs. I agreed to thatbut then she said no, that she needed
to leave that night. -
When Naomi left, she was highly confused and crying. " She was pulled emotionally
between us and the church." In a letter, Miss Kelly later told her meter that
they could never be as close as before unless she joined the group. I asked
her what if my husband didn't want to join and she suggested that I
should leave him, and bring the children with me."
Naomi remained in the church a short period of time because "we were on it right
away." "I started the day after she left home."
Mrs Mosley began her own investigation of Spriggs. She said court records showed
that Spriggs had three unsuccessful marriages. When she told Naomi of Spriggs'
divorces, - she didn't believe it." So I came to Chattanooga to check the divorce
records. Naomi said that didn't mean anything because the divorces occurred
before he became a Christian and that those wives didn't count."
The family contacted Patrick after learning that Miss Kelly was scheduled to
transfer to the church operation in Vermont. 'We knew,' Mrs. Mosley said,
-That if she moved to Vermont we wouldn't have much chance of ever getting her
out." The 'rescue" came after Miss Kelly arrived at a Chattanooga restaurant
thinking she was going to a birthday party for her sister. "Deprogramming" took
about two weeks, Mrs. Mosley said.
"She snapped after three or four days, but more time was needed for the rehabilitation.
It takes longer for some people If a person is very emotional and has strong
ties with the family he comes out much quicker But Naomi is not emotional. We
reached her through facts about the inconsistencies of the doctrines and practices
in the church.'
Mrs. Mosley is in possession of books containing some of the teachings spriggs.
She said she picked up the books, thinking they were part of her sister's belongings
when they went to the church home to collect Miss Kelly's personal possessions.
"The messages emphasized communal living and being submissive to the elders."
The child rearing teaching says you should begin disciplining a child at 6 months
of age, with a rod."