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Former PEOPLE OF PRAISE member Coral Anika Theill Speaks Out! Judge Amy Coney Barrett

"The traumatized person who accomplishes the work of recovery and healing has the potential of becoming more integrated and more aware and conscious than the person who has endured no blatant trauma and has never had to piece together a shattered psyche." - Coral Anika Theill, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark

I was a "handmaiden" and member of the "People of Praise Community" [cult] in Corvallis, Oregon. I experienced abuse, shaming, interrogation, humiliation, torture and shunning by the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY [cult] leaders and my husband, Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon, as well as threats, turning my young children against me and a smear campaign when I finally left.

For safety, I legally changed my name and have lived under a state address protection program from my ex-husband for the past 20 years.

Former members [Coral Theill] of the group, called People of Praise, say it teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands.

The PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY, founded in South Bend, Indiana in 1971, teaches that men have authority over their wives. They believe that only married couples should have sex and that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Their beliefs are based on domination and the absolute submission of women - not respect. They believe male power is absolute over women and great harm will come to those who question and/or defy that power. I believe this is the mentality that causes and perpetuates abuse. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is a member of the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY [cult] in South Bend, Indiana.

Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth. Authoritarian religion is already pathological and leaving a high-control group can be traumatic AND TERRIFYING – it is very SIMILAR TO LEAVING A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ABUSER. Shunning is a cruel and inhumane practice within many church groups and cults, a form of silent ridicule. Many former members are suffering. They need to be recognized and helped.

Allowing others to make choices for you allows them to create your worth, and when they do, they always make it TOO SMALL.

I no longer embrace the ideological rigidity and doctrines of patriarchal religions and "fundamental Christianity," but wish to help those who are being abused 'in the name of God." *Patriarchal Oppression of Women and Children.

Steven Hassan M.A., M.Ed., LMHC, NCC

Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Inc. 716 Beacon St. #590443,   Newton, MA 02459 P: 617.396.4638 F: 617.628.8153

I hope by sharing my story American citizens and Senators will ask critical questions about Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s involvement in the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY and her qualifications to be confirmed as SUPREME COURT JUSTICE.  

During my marriage I was required to be a "helpmeet" in a world like the one from Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel "The Handmaid’s Tale. My abusive husband, Marty Warner, and the People of Praise Community [cult] leaders in Corvallis, Oregon, used coercive control, isolation and intimidation tactics to strip me of my personhood, safety and freedoms as a United States citizen.

I had learned as a child that if I didn’t do as I was told, my personal safety would be endangered. My experience in the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY [cult] reinforced these experiences---isolation and emotional and mental pain would follow any questioning of others motives, power and control of me.

My memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark, was published in 2003. I revised and re published BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark in 2013. You can order my memoir HERE. In the 17 years since the publication of my memoir, there have been NO lawsuits against me. I have decades of documentation, affidavits and statements from physicians, custody evaluators, neighbors, friends, medical reports, transcripts, 1,000 pages of court documents, the audio and videos tapes of 50 court hearings, video tapes of 45 hours of depositions to substantiate my life story and published memoir. You are welcome to read FIVE STAR REVIEWS HERE.

BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark shares my search for freedom and light in a society based on patriarchal religion and laws. It openly speaks about the ideas and beliefs in our society which foster sexism, racism, the denigration of human rights and the intolerance of difference. My documentation exposes the dark side of human nature when all people are not valued. A healthy society must have the courage to address these issues, speak about them, examine them and bring them to light. Indifference encourages, "silent violence"-the type of violence I experienced in my home, in the community, religious circles and judicial system. Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel states, "The indifference to suffering makes the human inhumane."

There are not always two sides to every story. Our determination to pursue truth by setting up a fight between two sides leads us to assume that every issue has two sides--no more, no less. But if you always assume there must be an 'other side' you may end up scouring the margins of science or the fringes of lunacy to find it. This explains, in part, the bizarre phenomenon of Holocaust denial, among other denials, and that river flows through lots of courtrooms. What happened to Coral is pure evil and a testimony to the vulnerability we all have. Whose side are we on?

- Christine Pahl, MS, LPC, Oregon - Forward to BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark

"I recommend this book for health care providers, those in the criminal justice system, and volunteers or helpers of any kind to get insights and clarity about the complex dynamics of domestic violence and its toxic effects to individuals and society-and what needs to be done to eradicate this pandemic problem." – Barbara A. May, PhD, RN PMHP, Professor of Nursing, Linfield College, Portland, Oregon

"Every so often a book is written that touches the heart. This is such a book. BONSHEÁ is an unforgettable story that will leave an indelible mark on your psyche." – Adaline Archer, Court reporter, (Ret.) Washington

"BONSHEÁ illustrates the degree to which the legal system can also be used as a vehicle to further perpetuate abuse even after the victim has chosen to take a stand against the abuse." – John Haroldson, District Attorney, Benton County District Attorney's Office, Corvallis, Oregon

"I would love to discover that every judge, every minister, every person who seeks justice, would read this book! I have consulted thousands of abused women and know that the injustice Coral suffered, the loss of her children, is an all to common experience of abused women seeking to protect their children and to save themselves." - Patricia Evans, Author,The Verbally Abusive Relationship, California

"A must-read for anyone impacted by abuse, marriage, divorce/family court to prepare to fight for your children’s lives in the current family court system. Advocates, attorneys, judges, and other professionals working in family court must read this account to understand the lengths abusers will go to continue to control and torture their abuse victims. I applaud Coral Theill for the courage she shows making light of the dark secrets within the fundamental churches and the collusion of the family court system." - Debra Wingfield, Trainer, Author, and Case Consultant, North Carolina

"You stand TALL amongst many. We're all wounded but some choose to heal so that they can heal others. Continue your incredible work. Even here in Africa, we tell your story....God bless you for this gift to all womenfolk. Look at what it's doing for all of us in the world. It's reaching beyond the sea and cultural divides. I'm at a loss for words. Thank you, Coral, for your light." - Nana Ngobese​-Nxumala, Director, Woman Forward Political Party, South Africa

"The brutal misery you have endured and comeback from is astounding. The way you have harnessed that unspeakable and unstoppable pain leaves me along with many others in awe. The impact you are making is important and vital to ALL women who can easily find themselves in this scenario." - Sandy Earley, Chicago, Illinois

"Your memoir, BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark, is an amazing revelation of the corrupt underbelly of our government. Abusers thrive with the help of the institutions that are supposed to protect. Your survival is even more amazing and a testimony to the power of our inner selves." - Donna Buiso, Author, Nothing But My Voice

Even though I left the People of Praise cult, I had "no rights" due to being married to my husband, who was a PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY member. I was under the authority of my husband and his authoritarian "head," Ed Brown, Corvallis, Oregon." Under their "authority" I was required to attend their meetings.

BONSHEÁ – Yaqui Indian –meaning ‘out of the darkness into the light’

A startling memoir of one woman escaping an abusive marriage and oppressive religious cults [PEOPLE OF PRAISE] and trying to find "justice" in a failed system. Anyone concerned with issues of abuse and injustice in

America should read this book. 

I was forced to sit on the floor, outside of the PEOPLE OF PRAISE Community meetings by leaders and my husband, because I would not conform to the cult ideology (subjugation of woman, abuse, etc.) I sat in the hallway as a form of punishment at the recreation hall at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Corvallis, Oregon. Members of the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY would pass by me and shun me. I was an outcast but NOT ALLOWED to leave the PEOPLE OF PRAISE community as my husband still was a member. I was forced in the car and taken to meetings to be humiliated, shamed and shunned.

Dr. Paul F. Hessburg, Sr. is a witness to the abuse that I suffered by PEOPLE OF PRAISE Community leaders and my husband.

ON THE NIGHT my father was in the hospital in 1984 for heart problems, my husband would not allow me to go see him. My father died that night.

A foundational doctrine of the People of Praise is the complete obedience of a woman to her husband. My husband had complete control and was permitted to abuse his power over me. I had to ask him if I could leave the house, go to the store, etc. A "handmaid" - a woman from POP assigned to look over me - monitored my thoughts and emotions and reported to cult leaders and my husband. I was forbidden to take birth control and was even accompanied by my husband to OBGYN appointments. I was required to submit to my husband's demands for sex at any time - even immediately after giving birth. My husband could rape me whenever he wanted. Marital rape laws were 1passed in 1993. The constant threat was that they would say I was crazy and take away my children. Ultimately that is exactly what happened.

I lived under the threat that I would lose my children if I left the community or divorced, but it was Family Court that took my children away. The judge ignored all the documented violence and abuse by my husband, gave him sole custody and me visitation, and allowed him to alienate my children from me.  (For more information on women losing custody of their children to their abusers,

I miscarried in 1984 and had to have D & C surgery. After I returned from the hospital, I was forced to attend a "People of Praise Community women's meeting." They wanted to go shopping. I couldn't due to just returning from surgery and feeling weak. I left the meeting to go home and rest. Connie Hackenbruck, my assigned "handmaiden head," called and reported me to the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY [cult] leaders and my husband because I left the meeting.

My crime: I was in disobedience to the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY.

When I arrived home, I was met by my husband and forced [KIDNAPPED] into the car. I was taken to ED BROWN'S, the cult leader's home. Bruce Berning, a PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY cult member, was at our home to babysit our three young children. I was interrogated and psychologically abused until early morning. The next morning the community was informed to SHUN me.

I would never allow anyone to treat me this way today and it traumatizes me to admit this was my life at that time.

Photo published in AP article: Coral Anika Theill with her twin daughters, Corvallis, Oregon 1984

Former members [Coral Theill] of the group, called People of Praise, say it teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands.

My trusted physician, Dr. Charles South, Albany, Oregon, intuitively knew I was "in trouble" and not safe. He said, "When deer are hunted they lose their young." During my marriage, my husband forced me to have "home births" so I would no longer have contact with my physician. In 1995, Dr. Charles South. encouraged me to retain an attorney and seek safety and a divorce. He was caring for me during my 8th child's pregnancy and birth.

I was not allowed to see or talk to friends and family or see my physician alone. The PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY asked members from the Vancouver, Washington PEOPLE OF PRAISE community to "watch" me in my own home when my husband would be away so I could not LEAVE, CALL FRIENDS OR ESCAPE. All my incoming and outgoing mail was read by my husband. I was forced to attend a PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY women's retreat. The women were not allowed to speak to me or look at me. They shunned me.

The People of Praise community was similar to the Jim Jones cult, "The Handmaid's Tale", "The Keepers" Netflix 10 part documentary, the "Spotlight" and "Stepford Wives" films.

Members of the People of Praise Community marry one another for life and believe they are the remnant of Christ - and of course, the rest of us are LOST.

Members turn a blind eye to abuse within the community - in their minds it is just "business as usual." Judge Amy Barrett is a member of the PEOPLE OF PRAISE community/cult. Cruelty is their message.

I asked too many questions while I was forced to be a part of the PEOPLE OF PRAISE community and was abused, interrogated, humiliated, shamed and then shunned.

Phil Kerns wrote PEOPLE’S TEMPLE PEOPLE’S TOMB. His sister and mother died at JONESTOWN. He called politicians warning them of what he knew was about to occur. No one would listen to him – until after the 909 mass suicide deaths.

Photo taken by Debbie Dresler, Portland, Oregon: Wings of Love Half-Way House, 1996, Killingsworth

Spiritual Abuse by Coral Anika Theill

"During the period of my severe post-partum depression/collapse in the spring of 1994, my husband, Mr. Marty Warner, and his AME and Baptist pastors left me at the "Wing's of Love" half-way house on Killingsworth in Portland, Oregon, to punish and "break me" (their words) to the will of God. "The house was a shelter for ex-cons, street people and prostitutes. It was filthy and infested with rats and lice. My husband’s debt-free estate, at this time, was over a quarter- of- a million dollars. It was a frightening experience during the period of my illness/breakdown for my “abuser” ex-husband, his Christian cult leaders and religious supporters to be in charge of my “recovery program.” Three months earlier, I had a D & C due to my 3rd miscarriage from being raped by my husband. I was helpless and physically and mentally incapacitated during this time due to my collapse, post-partum depression and partial stroke." - Coral Anika Theill, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark

Head coordinators and their wives from South Bend would visit our PEOPLE OF PRAISE community branch periodically presenting teachings at retreats. Paul and Jeannie DeCelles and Bud and Sharon Rose were frequent speakers. Bud and Sharon Rose eventually moved from South Bend to live in Corvallis for a year.

Even though I was "deemed mentally ill" by community leaders and my husband, I babysat Bud and Sharon Rose's youngest child as well as other children in the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY/CULT.

Paul DeCelles taught that the covenant relationship one shares with another member of the People of Praise is more important than any relationship with any other person. They likened the covenant of the People of Praise to the marriage vow. (I felt that my husband shared a deeper relationship and commitment to the “community” than he did to our marriage.)


“The wife, as a good member of the community, has a prima facie obligation to obey her husband as the bearer of God’s will. In practice, this means that the two do not—indeed, cannot—relate as equals. His will reveals God’s to her, whereas her will is merely human. The two cannot meet as equals, because the husband always has divine authority on his side.”

We were expected to tithe at least ten percent of our gross income each month to the leaders of the People of Praise Community. Father Harris, a retired Catholic priest and former professor at Notre Dame, required each member to “recruit” a certain number of new members by specific dates. In 1984, community members participated in a ceremony similar to a marriage where they vowed to keep the “covenant of the community.”

This is the “covenant” we lived by: “We covenant ourselves to live our lives together in Christ our Lord, by the power of His Spirit . . . We agree to become a basic Christian community, to find within our fellowship the essential core of our life in the Spirit: in worship and the sacraments, spiritual and moral guidance, service and apostolic activity . . . We accept the order of this community which the Lord is establishing with all the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially with the foundational ministry gifts of apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists. We agree to obey the direction of the Holy Spirit manifested in and through these ministries in full harmony with the Church . . . We recognize in the covenant a unique relationship one to another and between the individual and the community. We accept the responsibility for mutual care, concern, and ministry among ourselves. We will serve each other and the community as a whole in all needs; spiritual, material, financial . . . "

The trauma experienced by cult members results from being powerless and abused day after day, year after year, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually – souls are literally emaciated. The Word of God is used like a thrust of a knife, constantly reminding the cult member (victim) of God’s displeasure and eternal damnation.

Cult leaders create a phobia indoctrination. A member will have a panic reaction at the very thought of leaving the group (cult). A member will perceive that it is almost impossible to conceive that there is any life or spirituality outside of the group. There is no physical gun held to the member’s head, but the psychological gun is just as, if not more, powerful.

Spiritual and mental bondage is often soon realized by those who are under submission.

Invasion of privacy is a signature feature of cults. My husband opened my mail and read outgoing mail. The PEOPLE OF PRAISE cult demanded we hand over our deed to our home.– WHICH MY HUSBAND COMPLIED – THANKFULLY the property deal fell through.

Spiritual abuse is the use of spiritual knowledge to deprive, torture, degrade, isolate, control, or (in rare and extreme cases) even kill others. It is used by evil-minded church and cult leaders, to gain advantage, dominate, or exercise control over others. The type of trauma individuals experience from cults and their leaders is similar to that described by POW’s.

My ex-husband, Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon, abused women in the workplace. He told them they should be home having babies – not in the workplace. He told them they should be homeworkers. An affidavit from one of his victims, Debbie Custis, in the workplace is available in the court files, in my published memoir and at my website. Read Affidavit by Debbie Custis HERE.

My ex husband, Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon, was a chairperson to OREGON RIGHT TO LIFE OREGON.

My husband MADE THREATS THAT I WOULD LOSE my CHILDREN IF I LEFT THE PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY [cult] or MARRIAGE. I eventually lost custody of all my 8 children, including my nursing infant, when I sought safety and a divorce in the family courts in Oregon. Affidavits from neighbors, friends and People of Praise Community members filed in the court file can be read HERE.

I have many painful memories as a former member and "handmaid" of the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY. I am comforted knowing that I was on a journey of remembering who I truly was. I believe we all long for freedom from oppression and bondage - that was what I secretly long for and hoped to experience. I am grateful for each brand new day and the experience of "being." Through it all I learned to honor and love myself. This painful period of my life was a catalyst to my spirit waking up and learning how to function beautifully.

When I visit the Corvallis, Oregon area, I am shunned in stores by the PEOPLE OF PRAISE COMMUNITY cult members. This is a dangerous cult. Their members are also members of St. Mary's Catholic Church, Corvallis, Oregon. Many of the leaders work at Hewlett Packard, Corvallis, Oregon. Although members of St. Mary's Catholic church knew of the abuse occurring in this cult that is affiliated with their church, THEY TURNED A BLIND EYE. I am still awaiting apologies from cult leaders in CORVALLIS, OREGON - Ed Brown, Connie Hackenbruck, Phil Monaco, Tim Wagner and other members who perpetrated the abuse that I suffered while I was a member.

It is a sad day when you have to pray, "Jesus protect me from your followers."

I choose not to participate in the silence that protects perpetrators and isolates survivors.


Coral Anika Theill



Author, Advocate & Military Reporter

D.V., Rape & Ritual Abuse Victim/Survivor

Alienated & Erased Mother of 8

Contributing Writer for Leatherneck Magazine, "Short Rations for Marines"

"A victim's first scream is for help; a victim's second scream is for justice."

Coral Anika Theill IN THE NEWS AP WASHINGTON Amy Coney Barrett tied to faith group ex-members say subjugates women Former members [Coral Theill] of the group, called People of Praise, say it teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands. Undue Influence, Judge Barrett and the People of Praise Covenantal Community by Steven Hassan, M.A., M.Ed., LMHC, NCC

Coral Anika Theill's interview with Steven Hassan,M.A., M.Ed., LMHC, NCC My Thoughts on Former Cult Member Coral Anika Theill's Interview With Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! PARIS, FRANCE Coral Anika Theill in the news: Aux Etats-Unis, la nouvelle juge suprême est membre des « People of Praise PEOPLE OF PRAISE Cult: Spiritual & Ritual Abuse - Marks of a Christian Cult Trump’s SCOTUS front-runner Amy Barrett is in a ‘cult’ — according to an ex-member (Coral Theill) who ‘experienced abuse and torture’ As U.S. Supreme Court nomination looms, a religious community draws fresh interest Coral Anika Theill Interview with Amy Goodman DEMOCRACY NOW! People of Praise: Former Member of Group, Coral Anika Theill, Tied to SCOTUS Front-Runner Amy Barrett Calls It a “Cult” NEWSWEEK:  Amy Coney Barrett's People of Praise and the Role of Women, According to Former Members [Coral Anika Theill] Judge's faith becomes early flashpoint in Supreme Court fight Fr. member Coral Theill, who belonged to a branch of People of Praise in Oregon in the ’70s and ’80s, cites alleged abuse she endured as part of the experience

(CORVALLIS & DALLAS, OR, QUANTICO, VA)  Coral Theill's case history in Oregon courts has been documented by physicians and advocates, including her counselor and mentor of 18 years,   Barbara A. May, PhD, RN PMHP, Professor Emerita of Nursing, Linfield College, Portland, Oregon, as one of Oregon's most violent and obscene rape and domestic violence cases. Ms. Theill has lived under a “state address protection program” from her ex-husband, Marty Warner, Independence, Oregon, since 1999.  In honor of Mother’s Day 2014, The Pixel Project featured Coral Anika Theill's Interview in the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project. August 13, 2014, Ms. Theill submitted a request for a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and on August 1, 2015, August 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017 Coral Theill's Oregon case history was filed with the Claim Submitted to the United Nations on Modern Day Human Rights Crisis. On January 5, 2016, Ms. Theill's Polk County Oregon case history was submitted to the United States Supreme Court as a 'Declaration of Support' in Adkins v Adkins #15-754 addressing the due process violations in family courts across the United States.  Coral also participated in YOKO ONO'S ARISING PROJECT in Iceland, October 2016.

BIO:  Coral Anika Theill's published works address abuse and trauma recovery and most recently, wounded Marines and Montford Point Marines. Her writings have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines and service members recovering from PTS and TBI. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, professors and authors.  BONSHEÁ has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon. In July 2011 Coral received the Lester Granger Award from the National Montford Point Marine Association. In 2002 she received a Writer's Award from iUniverse Publishing Co. She is also a contributing writer for Short Rations for Marines. Her October 2011 Leatherneck Magazine article, "Invisible Battle Scars:  Confronting the Stigma Associated with PTS & TBI," is used as a college text for the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia and is cited in the U.S. Army War College "Psychological Health Notes."    Coral Anika Theill's story of survival was published March 1, 2018 in RECLAMATION:  A Survivor's Anthology by the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault & Survivor's Magazine.


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