Monday, December 19, 2011

Who are the Shepherd's Heart and what do they believe?


February 2013 update: Since publishing this article in December 2011
, a number of people have come forward to indicate they know (or knew) the Darnells. These contacts have come from several Australian states, and from overseas. I have met with people who tell me their lives were ruined by the Darnell's counselling practices, or who knew them personally and testify that their beliefs were embarassing, and well on the way to dangerous, when they knew them. This testimony is being brought before the relevant lawful and regulatory authorities, as well as the media. Stay tuned.

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If you have had a harmful encounter with this group or another like it, please contact the author, the Australian False Memory Association (AFMA), or the Cult Information and Family Support network (CIFS).


When reading, please keep in mind that I am reporting the words and beliefs of John Darnell and the Shepherd's Heart Church. The sources quoted are the Darnell's own writings, videos and radio interviews.

Those who are here to find the video of the TV exposés of the Shepherd's Heart and of the Blue Mountains cult who took Kylie should scroll to the bottom of this piece. In March 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne 'Age' carried a major investigative piece on the beliefs of the Darnell's. See this link for more.

After you have read this first part of our story, then you are encouraged to go to part two, which is about the Blue Mountains cult who took my wife to the Shepherd's Heart in the first place.
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Today, I'm putting on my hat of citizen-journalist.

John Darnell and his wife Glenys run a church in Canberra called the Shepherd's Heart (earlier, The Fold Christian Fellowship). Because I have no aversion to calling things by their right name, I say they are dangerous lunatics. I know this because they wrote the treatment program provided to my wife (now ex-wife) which contributed to the ruination of her life.
I am writing, obviously, to warn others.

The Darnells believe they have a special calling. For years, they have received people (disproportionately, women) whose initial presentation may only be of emotional distress. Some may have diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illnesses. They believe that their calling is to assist their subjects recall, acknowledge and then heal from trauma, even abuse, experienced earlier in life. Critically, the subject may be entirely unaware they had endured this abuse and trauma until the Darnell's techniques produce distressing recollections that then have to be interpreted and processed.
But what happens if these recollections are false?
The implications are devastating, both for the subjects of such counselling and for their families.
There is also an uncomfortable implication for those poor souls who may actually have endured some form of abuse in their past, and for whom this style of counselling muddies the waters no-end.

This is a well known phenomenon called False Memory Syndrome. It is otherwise known as Repressed Memory Therapy (RMT). It has been widely reported, even in the Australian media, and the archetype case, that of a woman named "Sybil", has been comprehensively discredited and debunked.

In the more bizarre and extreme cases of RMT are interwoven fantastic claims that the abuse that subjects have endured (and note, never remembered, and had no prior awareness of) was of a sinister occult character, involving Satanic rituals, sacrifice, cannibalism and quite spectacular end-time conspiracies. This related phenomenon claims there is a concealed epidemic of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) in the world.

Enter, John Darnell and his tinfoil-hat wearing ilk.
.       John Darnell, radio interview, 18th August 2011.
Belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse has been around for years, confined to the most disreputable and wild-eyed fringe of the Christian church. Despite this dubious benchmark, John and Glenys Darnell have brought fear-mongering about SRA to a histrionic and dangerous pitch never before seen in Australia. There is, according to Darnell, a Satanic conspiracy that has pervaded our mainstream churches and civil governments alike, to the highest levels, to cover up the wholesale kidnapping, sacrifice and cannibalism of thousands of people.

There are, apparently, spiritual beings named Nephilim, who are demons, walking the earth in human guise and mating with women in unwilling trysts. There is a secret breeding program, aimed at producing half-demon "super soldiers" implanted with some kind of ingrained subconscious programming, ready to be activated at the advent of the apocalypse. They look human. You might be one of them, without knowing. Some women are kidnapped by demonically piloted UFOs, taken to a secret underground base near Mt Hermon in Israel, and have their half-demon foetuses removed. Some people with a strong demonic bloodline occupy the highest stations of power in the world (for example, the Royal family). Lastly, to cap it all off, the post WW2 Satanic strategy springs, in large part, from the work of Dr Mengele and other occult-crazed Nazi scientists imported to the West in Operation Paperclip at the close of the war.

John and Glenys Darnell believe all this and extraordinarily, they preach it with a straight face. Darnell has written a book on the subject, and these beliefs are the disturbing background of his program of counselling, therapy, treatment; call it what you will; inflicting it upon people who are in reality desperately in need of proper psychiatric care. The Darnells have been the subject of Government investigation, yet insufficient censure by the Health Services Commissioner in the Australian Capital Territory. They have been forced to modify the presentation of their material, but their core beliefs remain unfettered. As Darnell explained to host Richard Grund in an extended radio interview on 17-10-10"So what? I'm prepared to go to gaol. I'm prepared to die, to help these people... They may sue me. I don't care!"
Well they may, John. And well they ought to.
This is why I call Darnell dangerous. He claims to have a holy calling. Mere government censure is irrelevant, and probably demonic as well. Where there is no accountability, save to God, evil is always sure to flourish.




And what impact is Darnell having? In August 2011, Darnell was asked how many people are presently under his "ministry". His cagey answer was "a couple of dozen", adding he "doesn't keep notes". The ministry, however, has run for over a decade, and "hundreds" have been "touched". Here's what just a few of those who have been "touched" have to say. One Internet poster states in 2008, "BE VERY CAREFUL OF 'SHEPHERDS HEART' operating out of Canberra. It is run by 'John Darnell and Glenys Darnell' and they claim to do 'deliverance ministry' and remove 'psychic intrusions'... What they don't tell you is that they are worse than the problem you may be having. The spirits behind them and who use them are are NOT OF GOD."
Another undated warning comes from a person who states "I very unfortunately got involved with a 'pentacostal deliverance ministry' called 'Shepherds Heart' in Australia, in Canberra... Glenys mentioned that her husband John had communication/contact with 'celestial beings'. I asked her 'Were they angels of God?' She replied , 'Well, no'. I responded 'Well, they must be demonic then'. She said, 'well, they are still 'celestial beings'. Her response actually quite surprised me. They ended up getting quite nasty, particularly John and his pseudo Christian clairvoyant/medium/witch. I ended up leaving before the intensive finished."
Yet another warning stated in May 2007, "I decided to try out ‘Shepherds Heart’ in Canberra & Moss Vale Australia. John and Glenys Darnell run it, who supposedly ‘help’ others get ‘free’ from spiritual attacks and psychic intrusions. I had the worst ongoing experience I have ever had... This is what these so-called ‘deliverance ministers’ are doing. Nothing to do with Christ, just apostate, preying on those who are vulnerable and need help... They are so corrupt, BEWARE ! Pray for their victims."

Now, I freely admit that these claims cannot be verified. Indeed some of the people who post rants like this confirm my thesis that they're a little unhinged to start with. I find it alarming, however, to see the same claims of manipulation and malpractice dating back years and years.

However, let's back up a little and unpack some terms first. What are the Darnells purporting to treat? Dissociation is a medical word, a psychiatric concept, to describe a certain lack of integration in an individual's conscious experience. The popular conception is the person with Multiple Personality Syndrome (MPS), who has allegedly internally partitioned their mind to wall off an unpleasant experience, and who has created "alters" who present by turns. These personalities may possess separate, even contradictory and mutually exclusive, memories, intentions and traits. Think United States of Tara for a glib and pablum rendition.

The mental-health profession now deprecates the term "multiple personalities" in favour of a new term, Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D). It is a controversial and hugely disputed diagnosis, attracting advocates and detractors of uncommon passion. The Darnells possess no qualification to make or treat such a diagnosis. But for over a decade, the Darnells were happy to promote via manuals, workbooks, seminars and videos, and in their one-on-one counselling, a program which explicitly used medical and psychological terminology to describe the "formation of memory", and which, superficially at least, sounded more clinical than pastoral.

Glenys Darnell uses pseudo-medical and pseudo-psychological terminology (here, talking about role of the pre-frontal cortex in the formation of memory) in a video now withdrawn from use after an official complaint was upheld.
(Click for larger)
John and Glenys Darnell only recently placed a mild caveat about their lack of qualification to treat a condition whose name only appears in the medical literature, after they became the subject of official complaint. Their website has only recently acquired this rider:

"Disclaimer.
Where medical or psychological issues are discussed they are from a layman's understanding and not intended to be a substitute for qualified professional opinion. If such opinion is required please consult with suitably qualified personnel."


...and they have now substituted the term "Dissociation" with "Spiritual Dissociation", which is as weaselly as it's possible to be when you know you're being subjected to uncomfortable scrutiny. "No!", they say, and probably now with some panic; "This isn't... medical, this is a ministry to the body of Christ."
St Paul's conversion could not have been more convenient. It won't wash.

Why? Because there is proof that this has been portrayed by the Darnells as more than a "ministry". A letter from a Sydney-based psychologist, Sue Bartho, wrote that my wife "is undertaking a D.I.D treatment program from the Shepherd’s Heart centre in Canberra, which is being administered by a team of women. My role has been to monitor this treatment during the integration phase."
So, a Psychologist was prepared to write and endorse the Shepherd's Heart program (some materials from which are available at this archived site, predating the incriminating material being removed from their current website) as being fitting, perhaps even clinically endorsed in some way, for the treatment of a specifically psychological malady. I also have a letter from a general practitioner who has fallen for the same ruse and uses similar terms.

Was Sue Bartho duped by the Shepherd's Heart into thinking that this therapy was clinically endorsed, or was she an enthusiastic advocate for a therapy which included a belief in Nazi-demon-UFO-impregnation and exorcism? Criminy, the preceding sentence sounds like a Weekly World News headline. At the least, did she give enough scrutiny to the "treatment" she was "monitoring"? All the warning signs were present, and Sue Bartho was warned repeatedly of the misdirection of my wife's psychological care and chose to do nothing. Thus, sadly, I must provisionally conclude the latter. Bartho was invited to repudiate the beliefs and therapy practices she has confirmed she was "monitoring", and she declined to do so. This puts her self professed claim as being "a spiritually sensitive therapist, who believes that we benefit from being connected, not only with ourselves and our loved ones, but also with God" on doubtful footing, considering this very therapy has robbed at least one women of her family. (This blog, as always, stands ready to publish a corrective, should it arrive.)



.            Beliefs appropriate as an underpinning to the treatment of Dissociation, according to Psychologist Sue Bartho. 

The "team of women" mentioned as providing this treatment are Virginnia Donges (who now goes by the name "Gina Donges"), Jenny Buckingham-Jones and Annette Wotherspoon, who travelled from a cult group in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney to confer with John Darnell and attend a seminar intended to teach the treatment program. They are, in many respects, fellow travellers with John Darnell, and share a great deal of common belief, especially in the area of "spiritual warfare".  Their role has been the subject of two television exposés, and a speech at Parliament House in Canberra. Their role has been told in a separate article, which you can find here.

John and Glenys Darnell demonstrate a feature of their
"repressed memory therapy", the regression to infantile states
where "trauma" can be relived. In this role-play, Glenys
pretends to be a toddler, while John Darnell elicits the
bad memories, without skepticism. (The Latin word "elicit"
means "drawn out by trickery or magic", which seems
apposite). The source video (since removed from
the Shepherd's Heart website) is bizarre and disturbing.
Imagine how the life of a mentally vulnerable person would be devastated if their therapy was perverted  by unqualified people causing them to believe in abuse that never happened? Which causes a person to make false accusations against family members? Which separates them from the very family who should be there to support them through their illness?


Imagine therapy predicated on a belief that a sufferer has been kidnapped by demonically piloted UFOs, or has been impregnated by demons, or which suggests the victim may possibly be less than human because they have a "demonic bloodline"?

Darnell reported once that a subject he was counselling said "if you can't help me, I'll kill myself". I'm hardly surprised. My wife was assessed by Darnell, then treated extensively by others from the treatment program he authored. She subsequently wrote a suicide note, addressed to our 7YO son.

Will someone come to catastrophic harm as a result of these beliefs?
Yes. I believe it is only a matter of time.

I end this piece with a selection of quotes from John Darnell's own mouth, largely given from an August 2011 radio interview. Consider the impact of the following beliefs on people who need professional psychiatric care and who instead receive... this, as any kind of substitute.

About the nature and treatment of Dissociation:
"The main person doesn't know about the abuse. And the Satanic groups know this and use it to split off hundreds or thousands of parts, who they train to do cult work. You can meet them, and they will not have a clue of what's going on in their life... These people are planted in churches, they're planted in society, in government. The Lord told me last year, 'John, start speaking out'."

"...But we can't call it 'Dissociative Identity Disorder' because we got in trouble from the Health Services Commissioner, so we don't. I don't treat Dissociation. I don't treat Dissociative Identity Disorder. I minister to a spiritual phenomenon."

John Darnell: "I don't treat Dissociation. I don't treat Dissociative Identity Disorder..."


Right: Cover of John Darnell's workbook,
"Ministering to Dissociation: Course Manual"

Cognitive dissonance?

John Darnell: "...I minister to a spiritual phenomenon." 

Right: Part of the table of contents of John Darnell's purely "spiritual" course manual on Dissociation. You be the judge about whether this looks like its from the Bible or from a medical textbook.
(click for clearer version)


Above: The warning Darnell placed on his therapy manual.
This material has now been banned from use by the
Health Services Commissioner of the ACT after an investigation.


Q: How many alters do you see in victims? 4? 5? 10? 20?
Darnell: "You can go from the dozens, where there's sexual abuse; not a lot of occult. If it's a highly sophisticated [cult], and most of the ones we deal with are, it can go to the tens of thousands... It's highly technological. They have machinery and equipment to cause these people to split over and over. What my book talks about is, there's thousands of personalities, but they're in the second heaven. All those who have recovered from this will have some recollection of system, which is a construction in the second heaven. You can best think of the system as a small, city-sized prison [for split off personalities]"
The Blue Mountains cult's own notes on John Darnell's advice
concerning the "system" containing Kylie's
alternate personalities. (Click for larger)
About Nazis, the Fourth Reich, and the New World Order:
Darnell is asked "Is it true that this D.I.D and S.R.A really started at the end of World War II, and that this is based on the work of Dr Mengele?",
John Darnell: "Absolutely, that's a common thread... Go onto the Internet, look up Operation Paperclip; it's well documented. Nazi scientists were taken into the west, but those scientists were heavily involved in the occult; they were involved in the research to re-create the 'sons of God', which were the Nephilim. American governments, Australian governments. I believe they are in high positions in every western government. There are people in government departments, who do not know that they have 'multiples'. There are Nephilim planted in governments. Everyone wants to see people with horns.. but these people are in suits. They are in government departments. The vast majority don't even know what's going on in their lives... These people will be switched to their New World Order personalities when it happens. The personalities who know nothing about this will be pushed out of the way, and the ones who do know will come forward, and you'll have an already functioning government. I believe it is already in place... It's the Fourth Reich. Based on the evidence I have, the people I've ministered to... Every single person I minister to, sooner or later, you come across the Fourth Reich. They're trained, they have the ideology."

"(The Demonic Super Soldiers) that I have seen all have personalities, dissociated parts, who are trained to execute; to go on the rampage... They are what we see in ministry over and over again." (the implication here is all spree killings we see, such as those of Anders Breivik or Jared Loughner, are test runs performed by satanic operatives, and which will be repeated "x1000" at the appointed time).

About UFOs
"Fallen Sons of God have been materialising in physical form, doing things, usually sexual, with victims of Ritual Satanic Abuse. You discover there have been pregnancies... I did not want to believe it! But we discovered there are births that have happened, and that they weren't human... We've chosen to go with what God has shown us; the jigsaw pieces start to fit together. We became aware of a breeding program. A UFO. In the Second Heaven. A living creature... I can promise you that this stuff has been confirmed again and again and again. Oh, I believe there is hardware, there's all sorts of stuff that's under wraps, but I'm dealing with spiritual stuff... People are being abducted, people are being taken. There is a breeding program going on... In working with Satanic Ritual Abuse survivors, and what is happening out there with UFOs, and UFO abductions, they are one and the same thing!"

About the Demonic Breeding Program:
"What I have discovered is that every high ranking, international satanic group, they are all involved in the breeding program. All the women get used. If you're really working in the Holy Spirit, if you're really being guided by the Lord, sooner or later you'll encounter the hybrid breeding program. The eggs get harvested; their womb's get used."

"All the girls get used for breeding. I hear story after story about rapes by fallen angels, or by Nephilim hybrids. I hear of abductions. I understand that a lot of this happens underground, in huge places, under the earth... They are here. They look human. They are positioned."

"[Victims] have Dissociated parts, that don't know they are Nephilim. They don't know! They haven't got a clue as to what they are!" (consider the injury to a mentally ill person when they are counselled that they might be a fragment of a demon!)

"Until the last couple of years we were as much uninformed about the UFO phenomena and abductions as the average citizen. We had encountered the reality of horrific creatures materializing in satanic rituals, and, raping girls who we were later helping. It just never occurred to us that a conception may have taken place as a result of the rape. We certainly did not make any connection with the UFO phenomena. We had our first experience with a girl as she relived the birth of what seemed to be a non-human baby, but even then we did not make any connection. Sometimes the Lord has to keep our noses pressed against the window until we see what it is He is trying to show us. Then, in ministry, the Lord led us to renounce involvement with the US military, and her being twisted with "sons of God‟. We saw deliverance and freedom as we did so, but had no understanding of what was beginning to be revealed."
(This extract from John Darnell's latest book "Satanic Strategies")

...And generally:

"I can't prove any of this, but I believe there is cannibalism, there is eating of flesh, drinking of blood... You tell me there are one hundred thousand people who go missing every year in the United States? Let's think about that. That's 2000 a week. Why aren't bodies found?

Listener Question: "My question for John is: I heard an interview stating that the British Royal Family turn into reptiles. There are deep occultic ties in the Royal bloodline. What is your stance? Do people actually turn into reptiles?"
John Darnell: "The Lord has had my nose against this particular glass for three months now (laughs). All the evidence that I have. All the stories, all the tales are that this is real. The things I've been learning about is that they probably have a high concentration of Nephilim blood, or fallen angel blood. Sometimes, with the genetic stuff that they do in the world today, there may be other species spliced in, which facilitates what goes on. But do I believe it happens? Yes! Can I say it happens to the Royal family? No, but I believe so... There is an International, world-level conspiracy where families, politicians, bankers, the entertainment industry are in collusion with fallen angels in exchange for power and money, and it's gone on for a long time, but it's exploded since World War 2. But do I believe that people shape-shift into other creatures? Unfortunately, I do. I've been dealing with people who have actually done it. We've seen it happen. It is very, very deep level, occult power."

Postscript:
In a pluralist, democratic society, we fiercely defend the rights of individuals to believe whatever they wish, and to follow their lights. To the frustration of some, this includes the right to believe things that are absurd, embarrassing, palpably wrong, incompatible with any society founded on the principles of the Enlightenment, and yes, even beliefs that are personally harmful.

However, society also draws lines, and we hope that these expectations are adequately reflected in our laws. We properly say that a minor cannot give informed consent to a sexual relationship with an adult. We say that a mentally ill person should be protected from the aberrations of their own mind that might bring them to self-harm. We award the custody of children, even occasionally going against the grain of parentage, on the basis that some choices place children at risk.

If you inflict a sexual abuse, or commit a financial fraud, or attack a person in an act of battery, there are laws standing by to bring you to book. If, however, a person is subjected to a gross act of psychological abuse; an abuse that takes a vulnerable person and weans them off the attachments of their family by convincing them that their family are Satanists, or misdirects the course of their medical care, or causes a person to adopt beliefs that rob them of their dignity, their career, even their name... well, I'm sorry to tell you that in Australia there is no law against such a crime (and make no mistake, it is a crime).

My quest over the last three years has been to meticulously collate evidence that demonstrates that this deficiency in the law is overdue for amendment, and to prosecute that argument to a conclusion that makes society safer from such quacks, prophets and deluded fools.

So profound and distressing are the changes in my wife that many of us despair of regaining the smiling and vivacious woman she once was, although we always hope for just such an event. But if writing, and warning others prevents a single family from having to fall prey to evil such as this (and I use that word entirely deliberately), then my time, and any risk entailed in the exercise, will be well spent.
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VIDEOS:

The Shepherd's Heart, and the Blue Mountains cult that took my wife have been the subject of two television exposés in late 2011 (with many thanks to "A Current Affair" journalist Nick Coe for his interest and professionalism). I also spoke at the CIFS international conference on cults at Australia's Parliament House in November 2011, a conference I am pleased to report was co-sponsored and hosted by Liberal Senator Sue Boyce, and which was attended by a number of Federal MPs, foreign dignitaries, and Australian of the Year (and leading advocate for mental health issues), Professor Patrick McGorry. It was heartening, for example, to hear the chief public prosecutor of an Australian state, after hearing our stories, say that these criminal acts should not go unpunished and that the law should be strengthened.

My suggestion is you watch these videos in the order they are presented here.

Video of second "A Current Affair" piece (17th November 2011):

Video of Parliament House speech (2nd November 2011):

Video of first "A Current Affair" piece (2nd November 2011):

Remember: After you have read this first part of our story, then you are encouraged to go to part two, which is about the Blue Mountains cult who took my wife to the Shepherd's Heart in the first place.

6 comments:

Joel said...

That's a powerful story you have. I've only had experience with less lunatic variations on the inner healing movement: Ellel ministries, and Isaiah 61 ministries. I'm wary of the rituals and the propensity towards diagnosing hidden personalities in these, although they aren't as crazy as this cult. Good on you - I hope the law will soon recognise the damage that is caused by these kinds of groups.

Sydney Psychologist said...

Thanks for posting this! I'm trying to find information on psychological assessment, intervention and counselling for children, adolescents and adults and this has definitely helped me in this process.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

I just read your story in yesterday's Good Weekend. How sad. I'm sorry this has split the family. In particular, I am sorry for your son.

If there is a way you can convince Kylie to demand to see a properly qualified psychologist who has experience with DID (or Multiple Personality Disorder) patients, they may be able to work with her.

It sounds like she was 'mentally incompetent' when she signed an enduring power of guardianship to that 'Bible study group', and as such, I would think it should not be legally recognised. You could check with a lawyer. If true, she should be able to see any psychologist, etc that she wishes, without their permission. It should be up to her, and only her.

I once read a book that included a chapter on a patient with DID. This patient had up to 8 different personalities, I believe. All personalities manifested with different physiological measurements. Treatment involved selection of a preferred personality (of the 8), and working towards enabling that chosen personality to dominate over the other 7. (I can get the exact title of that book if you are interested. Mind you, it was only 'successful' for a short-term. However, it is still worth investigating.)

I'm not an expert at all on this topic. However, to me, it sounds like Kylie needs to 'drop' this personality (as a 6 year old girl named Hope), and allow the former Kylie to dominate again. Only a professional psychologist with DID experience can do this. I think you owe this to your son to get Kylie to a qualified psychologist who is familiar with DID. Good luck! S

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan
Dear Nathan
I knew these people in England, before they ever went to Australia. I have a deep personal connection with them.
If there was one person who should NEVER be in an authoritative position, it would be John Darnell. His wife too. I have very much more I could tell you but I couldn't on this page as they would probably see it but would be happy to talk with you.
You are not alone, nor sadly is your wife's situation unique.
Warm wishes.

Anonymous said...

Go to any Airports in USA like Miami, LA or New York, etc etc. and look at the Depàrtment of Homeland Secrity Personnel in Black Uniforms. Most have Dark Eyes. They are true Nephilim Babylon Whigger Warrior Enforcers, just like the Senators and Representatives, Lawyers and Judges and other Governemnet Agencies. Your right about Nephilim Control of Governemnts. And also Witches and Warlocks and Satanism fit all right in....

Nathan Zamprogno said...

In regard to the above comment, all I can say is: "This is what crazy looks like, people."
You might laugh it off, but consider this person may have children they are attempting to pass these views on to. They may be a teacher (regular or Sunday-school). People like this, when society's guard is down, even make it on to school boards.
Make no mistake, these people are dangerous.
I now regard the correct strategy towards these people (and I extend this to people like the Darnells and their ilk) is to expose and ridicule their strange beliefs (and lets remember they make mainstream Christians cringe in embarassment), and to ensure they are shamed out of any offices of influence or honour they hold.