NOTE: On May 25, 2012, a few weeks before he committed suicide, Scott Nevins created the Elder Ephraim Facebook Community Page. The purpose of this page, which has recently been deleted from Facebook, is stated thus: “This facebook page was created to expose Elder Ephraim…I speak for all of the monks and nuns who were buried alive by Elder Ephraim; one-thousand voices crying out, ‘justify me!’”
On September 13th, 2014, a young man named Philip Ephraim Aaron Drake trolled the page and posted the following comment on the page’s wall:
May Jesus Christ Our Lord have mercy on Scotts soul, and healing for his family. I disagree that this was Geronda Ephraim’s, or Geronda Piasio’s fault. When someone decides to commit suicide that person is deeply depressed, and needs to find treatment, support, and love the latter of these two were not lacking in his life. This is mental illness, and sadly Scott did not seek appropriate treatment. Please look at the real enemy, and stop doing the devil’s work by sowing the seeds of enmity and division. Over the years I stayed many times at Saint Anthony’s Monastery, at one time I was thinking about becoming a monk. I have spent time with both Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Piasios and have had discussions that were truly life changing. I was never coerced into doing anything that would be destructive to me or my body. This page needs to shutdown because it is purely for evil ends, and does nothing good for peoples salvation. You are preaching the devils word, not God’s. You may say hey people need to know about this and that, ok, write SCOBA, write to the Bishops, and write the Patriarch if needed. I hope you find healing in Christ, but please stop dragging the Church and her monks through the mud.
Photo Album with captions from the Elder Ephraim Facebook Community Page
The next photo is of a monk beside a pile of skulls which is the only photo with no download option [thus is not here]; it is also the cover photo for this Facebook page.
On June 25, 2012, David Constantine-Wright posted:
The ends never justify the means. If deception and wrongful practices have to be used to support something, thinking people will call into question that which is being supported.
NOTE: The following is a transcript from a Youtube video uploaded on February 10, 2015, entitled, Why Elder Ephraim is a Fraud:
I’m going to present my case of why I think Elder Ephraim is a fraud and why most of the things we hear about him are exaggerated hype. Greeks have a tendency to exaggerate and embellish the lives of their heroes, rulers, and people they believe to be holy. Before I get to Elder Ephraim, I want to quote a quote of Scott Nevins made here on Youtube about Elder Paisios, the abbot of St. Anthony’s Monastery:
Fr. Paisios is totally evil. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, absolutely. He has complete control over the monks. He can do whatever he wants. Once I had toothpaste on my face because there are no mirrors and Fr. Paisios asked sarcastically if it was sperm! Why would there be sperm on my face?! I had been a novice for about three years at that point. He was just trying to be degrading.
I do not believe such a spiritual man would ever say such an enticed thing to one of his spiritual children. I believe Elder Paisios is spiritually and psychologically unhealthy and thus reflects poorly on Elder Ephraim.
[Ed. Note: During the time Scott was a novice, there were rassaphore and novice monks and nuns who had been falling into carnal sin, primarily masturbation. For those who witnessed a monk or nun in the Lity saying, “Forgive me I am disgusting/filthy in both soul and body,” this was a penance for masturbation or some other carnal sin].
When talking about Elder Ephraim, Scott Nevins also wrote:
He’s no ascetic either! He has two refrigerators full of expensive, imported foods all to himself, and his own, personal cook. He eats lobster, imported cheeses, and fine wines, daily.
If what Scott said was true, and we have no reason to dispute his words, wouldn’t that prove that Elder Ephraim was a fraud?
[Ed. Note: This is true. The fridge is also full of Tofurkey and other meat flavored soy/tofu products. Furthermore, the outside fathers under Hieromonk Nektarios direction also get to partake of the Veggie Burgers and Veggie Dogs as a reward for good work. Elder Ephraim’s exquisite eating habits are usually justified by the fact that a large portion of the fine foods are given to him by pilgrims and if he particularly likes something, he’ll tell them and they repeatedly send more. The allowance of Tofu/TVP meat flavored products opened the door for all the monasteries to use these products—only for the monastics, of course, because “the lay people scandalize easily.” The justification for the monastics’ laxity in renouncing fine foods and desserts is that they are the monastics of the last days and have given up so many other things that tasty delights are not that important. As well, all the emphasis is placed on the “virtue” of blind obedience, i.e., “You can fast all you want but if you don’t have obedience it is in vain and of no benefit.” As for the personal cook, Elder Ephraim as said on more than one occasion, “Gerontios’ food isn’t fit for animals”].
Some of Scott’s claims about that monastery may be false, others may be true. It would be fallacious to assume that because some of his claims are false therefore they are all false. His claims may be a combination of truth and falsehood. Since he lived in the monastery, he was in a better position than you and I to know what was going on.
According to Wikipedia, the Hindu guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was worshipped by thousands of people and he never allowed anyone to treat him special or receive special gifts. I would argue that this is closer to the Christian concept—and, no, I do not recommend Hinduism.
If an orthodox monk receives a gift from someone, he should sell the gift and give the money to the poor. This is the New Testament teaching of selfless Christian love and a monastic understanding of detachment. But I wonder if these people even read the Christian Scriptures.
[Ed. Note: A monastic is required to read one chapter of the New Testament daily as part of his/her daily prayer rule. They also hear the Scriptures during the Services (if they understand the Greek language). However, more emphasis is put on reading the Gerontikon, the Ladder, and of course, Elder Ephraim and Elder Joseph the Hesychast’s books because “these contain the entire Scripture and the proper interpretation of them. As well, it helps the monastic acquire the ‘fronima’ of Elder Ephraim”].
A Christian should not seek the closest parking space or the shortest line in a store. A Christian puts all other human beings before himself. A monk should give his very last penny to someone in need.
[Ed. Note: Elder Ephraim has gained a reputation in and around the Phoenix area for giving homeless people up to $50. One of his favorites was a man who had a sign saying, “Need Money for Beer”].
Now attempts may be made to discredit Scott Nevins. Demonizing former members of one’s religion is one of the signs of an unsafe group and a cult. But I want to emphasize that a person could be completely insane but I want to emphasize that personal attacks and trying to change the subject by questioning people’s motives and trying to discourage them, are fallacies. And I refuse to be intimidated by such childish comments.
[Ed. Note: When a monastic leaves the monastery and returns to the world, a common practice is for the Abbot/Abbess to call all the monastics together and give them a homily about the individual who left. This homily will usually give some detail of their private confessions and weaknesses. Almost always, the common factor will be “this monastic hid their thoughts, didn’t do obedience and accepted thoughts against the Elder, and became deluded. Then the devil drove them out of the monastery.” Now when a former monastic speaks out, as part of damage control, lay people will be informed that the things they say are “ridiculous” and will then hear in detail about how this monastic had psychological problems, was deluded, left jaded and is now retaliating with slander. Or worse, that this individual was/is possessed by demons and is acting as the devil’s mouthpiece].
I also want to say a word about the ridiculous comment that I read online that said “Elder Ephraim cannot visit zoos because the animals would go crazy trying to receive a blessing from him.” This is absolute nonsense. Zoo animals do that with everyone because they think you are going to feed them. It has nothing to do with them wanting a blessing. They don’t want a blessing, they want to be fed. This is another example of the Greek tendency to exaggerate and embellish the lives of people they believe to be holy.
NOTE: The following account is a testimony from a young man who lived as a sub-novice in Arizona for six months. It was written on November 21, 2008 and is found on a forum called Ex-Christian.net. Nikos writes a little bit about Scott Nevins near the end. This blog has elucidated on some of Nikos’ words with “[Ed. Note].”
For anybody that has read my posts, I now have documented evidence of the mind bending that went on with my life, all after doing a simple Google search.
It seems that I was involved with a cult that has not only gained National attention but Global, extending especially back to Greece itself, Mt Athos in particular.
I was 6 months in residence at the monastery when I left, I decided not to become a novice despite the attempts of my Hieromonk and elder monks to convince me to leave the world, not because I didn’t believe their doctrine, I was about as convinced as anyone there of the beliefs, but because I wanted to marry, I wasn’t being healed of my depression or physical pain and because I think some deep part of me knew to run.
This is a video I found of St Anthony’s as they were being investigated, I knew Fr Nikos from seeing him around a lot but I was friends with and worked side by side with Fr Paul (Pavlos) who was conveniently re-named, while I was there, apparently the same time as a lot of inquiries were taking place, I did not know of the controversy nor the inquiries at the time, I believed we called him Father although he was not yet tonsured since he was so in step with the monastery, like an honorary title, when he was tonsured he was given a different name, as is custom, but I know it is to further the disassociation with the self in hindsight…On to the video, it is cut into two parts and i included the link to a webpage because it also exposes the monastery as a cult and was my initial source for the video…… http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/[Dead link; there is a back up site here: http://gerondaephraim.tripod.com/backup1.html%5D
Fr Paul, I decline to state his new name out of respect for his adult decision to become a Monk at St Anthony’s, became a quick friend to me due to his sincerity, his friendliness and the fact that before I became involved in the Eastern Orthodox Church I was training to become a Navy SEAL, and Fr Paul had asked for a discharge from the Navy while preparing to do the same thing, he had been a medal winning Swimmer in his high school and I think joined the Navy right afterwards….so we had common ground and that sparked many discussions as we labored in the blazing Arizona sun, planting trees for Jesus, intermittently reciting the Unceasing Prayer, Kyrie Iesou Xpiste Eleisov Me (Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy On Me).
The other monk I do not know by face as its not fully bearded nor partly covered with a cassock in the picture shown, nor by name as that would have been changed (maybe I missed something)….I have my assumptions though, yet another close friend during my stay.
This is just an insight into my definition of cult mentality when I refer to myself on the forum here, I WAS THERE!!!!!! I lived the life.
I am going to continue to post as I find new information, as for know I would like to get the ball rolling.
This is tragic, truly tragic to learn, although the truth is what I want, and need.
For the record,
I was told the Elder Ephraim was taught this by his spiritual Fr on Mt Athos, Father Joseph (Papou Josef) and that one time Fr Ephraim had been plagued with pride and was found beating himself mercilessly with “the cane” in his cell, or a small church on the mountain. The story goes that he was heard to be confessing his sinful pride, beating the shit out of himself while at the same time screaming at himself to “Stop…STOP”, he continued on and was purged of pride and it has never returned to him to this day.
I began to use this practice of caning myself while at the monastery, I continued with it a short while after returning home.
I was also told that martyrdom would be my only salvation unless I was a baptized Orthodox Christian following the standards perfectly, even then I was told martyrdom most likely awaited all of us Orthodox….and that the monks and nuns would be the first to be eradicated by the government and so on. And even then, after death I would be taken to 20 toll booths where I could still fall and be dragged to hell by demons. St John Climacus created an icon depicting the saints ascending the ladder to heaven, while being surrounded by flying demonic presences, being pulled down at different points by failing.
One story that haunted me mercilessly was that of a monk who had died, passed 19 of the tolls and when he had done this looked at Satan and exclaimed “I beat you, you were defeated by me” which resulted in his being cast into the lake of fire for failing the test of the 20th toll, the test of “Pride”.
A MONK!!!!!! Who had devoted his life to Christ and left the world, living a damned near sinless life and working out his salvation to the extreme, wasn’t even safe after death…which by the way, isn’t pretty either, at death your soul is ripped and cut from your body by angels or demons, a myth is that it is so horrible the virgin Mary prayed to her son that she be spared this torment and so was granted to be taken to heaven by Jesus himself as he fended off the harvesting angels (demons).
These are the thoughts I deal with daily, to remove them from their etched position in my mind and heart……years and years of this stuff and i am about 5 weeks out of the box, 5 weeks into de-conversion.
I wonder if any of you had gone this far into your cult? If so please leave a testimony on this thread. Someone asked Nikos: I watched one of the news videos, and they said there were “improper teachings” in the monastery, but I didn’t really get what they were referring to. Do you know what they meant with it?
There are so many…let me add a few I was taught off the top of my head:
• You’re abbot has become Christ for you, if you follow the abbot to the letter you fulfill your requirements as a Christian, if you have done anything wrong under the abbot’s guidance you will not be judged, he will [Ed.Note: In essence, the only way a monk can err in obedience is by doing disobedience. Things that would be considered sins, even ‘minor’ things like lying, white-collar crimes, etc. are not wrong if done under obedience. The elder is responsible for the order given; the monk is responsible and will be judged on whether he did it or not]
• If you disobey the abbot it is the same as disobeying god.
• The more you dedicate your life to Christ, the more accountable you are for your sins, thereby raising the bar hourly of whether you will make it into heaven
• Married couples should live as brother and sister, only engaging in sexual intercourse for the purpose of conception, and having to confess the sexual act nevertheless as a “weakness of the flesh”
• The Aerial Toll Houses, after death you are ripped from your body to the astral plane and are questioned by demons for 2 days each at 20 levels, although this is a conceptual image of a spiritual teaching, it is basically 40 days worth of judgement, the 20 levels being the 7 deadly sins plus 13 extra variations. At anytime you may fail and be cast into the lake of fire. You DO NOT WANT TO GO TO THE ORTHODOX LAKE OF FIRE….it’s the revelation of St peter but worse. Therefore the Orthodox pray for 40-42 days after the death of a baptized Orthodox Christian to assist them in their ascent through the aerial toll houses. Many monks even are said to fail these judgements and be thrown to perdition.
• The Elder can levitate [Ed.Note: Many stories are in circulation of children seeing the Elder walking in the air. As well, there is the story about the woman who went to stab him in the confessional and he was levitating so she couldn’t reach him].
• The Elder can read your thoughts [Ed.Note: This is one of the main things that make new monks and nuns tremble around the Elder; especially if they’re having sinful thoughts].
• The Elder has reached Theoria and already been perfected, he walks as Christ on the earth (this is gleaned but not actually said) [Ed.Note: This is not gleaned, it is outright said. The writer was only a sub-novice and would not have been privy to inner circle knowledge, unless an older monk blabbed things he shouldn’t have].
• The Elder can bi-locate in order to check on his monasteries in different parts of the world [Ed. note: In 2006, Geronda Ephraim was giving a homily to lay people in the Trapeza at St. Anthony’s Monastery. While his explaining this ability to them, he stated, “I’ve already left twice to check on my monasteries while I was talking, and you didn’t even notice.” One Geronda stated, “Geronda isn’t omnipresent like God, but he’s almost like God. He sees and knows everything that happens in his monasteries. He’s watching us and protecting us.”]
• The Elder’s prayers can pretty much guarantee you entrance into heaven [Ed.Note: Furthermore, for the monks, Geronda Ephraim talks about a vision where it was revealed that the monks and nuns who stay with him until the end will be saved. Of course, there is still the clause of doing blind obedience and the other monastic duties, but if a monk and nun remains in the monastery until death, he/she are pretty much guaranteed salvation].
• You must confess your thoughts. Whereas most Xtian teachings condemn behavior and make mention of lustful thoughts and prideful thoughts….at the monastery you are to confess your every thought, good or bad. [Ed.Note: Elder Ephraim has repeatedly told the story from Agapios’ Salvation of Sinners about the nun who was virtuous and seemed holy. After she died she appeared to her Gerondissa and told her she was in hell because she didn’t confess a thought out of embarrassment].
• I was taught that the day the Roman Catholic Church was allowed to hold mass in Constantinople, the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) who had been protecting the city from the Turkish invasion, left and that is why Constantinople fell.
• I was also taught that within the walls of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, where this occurred, there was a secret Liturgy going on hidden inside the walls, Turkish soldiers stormed in and as the sword was about to pierce the presiding Priest time was frozen in such a manner that special Orthodox who are completely gifted with the holy spirit have spiritually visited this room and seen over the centuries that there is a slight movement of the sword towards the priest, we were taught that when the sword strikes the priest time will unfreeze, this will be like the last martyr and this announces the reign of the Antichrist. [Ed.Note: The marble king myth is not a teaching accepted or taught by the Orthodox Fathers. It originates in gnostic and apocryphal texts, and was taught to Geronda Ephraim by the bishop who ordained him. However, in some homilies, the Elder mentions he has seen it, or he gives updates on how far the sword is out of the sheath].
• Demons are everywhere, especially at the monasteries, since the world is already run by the devil.
• I was told of a 3 month exorcism that took place and met the man who this was done to. I do not know if he was severely mentally disturbed during this time and brought back to sanity or what the hell happened because everybody backs up what they saw and heard, I am at a loss with this one, this was a biggie when I was there.
• I was taught that during this exorcism, many saints including Paul and Michael the Archangel joined in the exorcism fighting the demons within this man, but that the Elder’s Elder, from Mt Athos wielded the most power (no shit hah?)
• Priests were “worldy” if they trimmed their beards
• Women should be avoided as they caused the fall
• Women are blessed by the theotokos as she brought the Savior into the world
• Mirrors are forbidden [Ed.Note: This stems from the teachings of St. Nikodemos On Guarding the Sense of Vision: “I beseech you, dear friend, have nothing to do with such vanity and condemnable pleasure. Have nothing to do with such mirrors. And if you happen to have them, please have them taken away as altogether improper for the Christian way of life.” This is why all the mirrors are covered in the monastery bathrooms. Also, monks or nuns who remove corners of this covering get huge canonas when they confess this sin-or if it is discovered first through the random cell searches the Abbot and Abbesses perform]
• Orthodox chanting and Classical music are only allowed (thank the lord I brought my Bach and Wagner)
• Wake up is at 12 AM, you are to pray and meditate performing prostrations and.or work until the morning service begins at 3AM, Liturgy follows immediately lasting until 7-8 AM then there is breakfast and work, lunch (trapeza) is around noon, then work, there is church again at 3 or 4 until dinner around 630 then compline service until approx 730, 8PM-12AM is quiet time.
• That’s about all I care to remember for now, I have to watch the video again, I thought it and the website offered more info.
TBH, there is so much in Orthodoxy that most ExCs here wouldn’t even know due to lack of exposure that I am probably passing over what are considered to be small scale erroneous teachings to them but outrageous to a protestant or Catholic in the first place…..let me find some links and I will post them as I can, believe me when I say the followers of Elder Ephraim do a lot within the church to stop members of the Orthodox Church from speaking against him, and not many non-orthodox know anything about him or the monasteries.
I believe I am moving forward and facing the past. I know my first few weeks of de-conversion, right when I started here on ExC I was very bitter and enraged, confused, frightened full of hatred and blame. I took a few days off from even talking about it, I think almost a week, which for me these days is a long time. I tried to find some peace, make some sense and decided to look towards solutions more than looking at the problems, I think I am doing well in widening the gap between the two. I also am finding moments where I feel a peace, just for a moment and I remember what life was like before Xtianity. And at other times I feel a sense of “now” that I can live with, it is my hope I can experience these moments for a longer duration. When I am in them I feel a distance from what I can only describe as living in a nightmare, and in those moments I feel the nightmare may be ending. I’m only a handful of weeks into the deprogramming state and its been a rough battle finding the proper information out there to help me as a guide, when you’ve thought one way about everything for so long, there’s nothing really to revert to, so I need a lot of outside stimuli.
So as far as leaving it all behind, I cannot learn from what I have been through and undo the thinking patterns I was taught, nor get out of it if I don’t know what I am getting “out of”, thus the search, the questions, the confusion.
I don’t hate the people at the monastery, in fact I have more love in my heaRt for the monks than anything, I don’t believe they know what is happening to them at all, and the ones that do realize or see what is going on are the ones stepping forward. I don’t want to blame them I want to see them for who they really are and the things they teach for what they really are.
They are of the nicest, caring, loveable humans I have ever met, and there is definitely a “presence” of some sort there at the monastery, it’s a very peaceful feeling, a loving feeling, it’s quite tangible, I don’t know how to describe it other than to say when I got there, I believed that to be “God”, and now that I don’t believe the same things I am hard pressed to define it, but whatever it is it is beautiful and they are a part of it.
Perhaps by a power or just the workings of nature they are rewarded for being such kind and loving people in spite of what they believe I do not know.
They have a leader and this leader was raised in Greece in a strong Orthodox home, I believe he went to live on the mountain of Monks at 19 and came to America in the early ’90s, he’s like 78 or so now, so he probably spent 40 years as an Athonite Monk, and they really have no outside influence except the select few daily visitors (all male) which are restrained by regulations not to discuss certain things anyway…so the man knows only this life, its like he’s in spiritual Flatland. He probably believes and practices what he preaches to the bone, but i am giving him the benefit of the doubt. The Orthodox Church has a pretty rigid hierarchy and he has people to answer to.
The abbot of the monastery is a different story, I felt he was very political rather than spiritual to be honest and he is one sharp tack so I wasn’t impressed by his evasive answers or his snobbery when I was in confession, but he did me no harm personally ever….that I know of.
I guess what I am working through here is that I believe you are correct in that they are just as lost as I was, except the possibility of a couple of the elders, they are mostly all True Believers IMHO. So that is why these things need to be discussed and talked about, the controversies surrounding the monastery are also vehicles to bring these matters to the attention of the spiritual leaders of the Monastery and thus the “innocence” begins to wane and they become more and more accountable for their actions, so far there has been no change in the workings of the place, the last I heard while I was there was that when the Elder hears of people who denounce him or accuse him he claims that Christ will “Give me more crowns”….perhaps he is absolutely convinced and yet another pawn of this Religious structure……
Sorry for being so “long winded”, I have to really work through these things when I write of them and I want to be as accurate and open minded as possible because I want the truth and I share a responsibility to others reading this that I will not deceive them as well concerning these matters.
As for the positive things I took from the Monastery, the Byzantine Chanting is friggin’ awesome…the head Cantor was handpicked by the Elder and he is a master of sound, I used to refer to his singing as being “Not of this world” and I meant it, I would love to be able to find my St Anthony’s Vigil CD that they sell at the bookstore, it’s all in Ancient Greek, the words are written in English and Greek inside the jacket and if you don’t know Greek, it won’t indoctrinate you =)
Mind you this man is speaking for the entire Orthodox Church and he is not of the cloth, this isn’t Protestantism, this is the Orthodox Church, they go by the book, not going before the unbelievers, they try to keep everything “In-house”….I just found this youtube series and will be watching it and posting according to what I know, I know it will be a healthy way to separate the wheat from the chaff =) in my head
This may give you some insight into the “Don’t think, just follow” mindset of Orthodoxy, as far as I know they are the strongest proponents in Christianity concerning blind obedience to the Clergy, I’ve never seen anything like it in Christianity.
… Women have very strict dress codes in many of the churches, depending on the Priest or the Abbott if it’s a Monastery and I’ve kinda seen them treated as “necessary functions” in the human race, instead of well…women.
I was told by the Abbot of St Anthony’s Monastery that marriage was only necessary in order to create a way for me not to sin, absolutely bewildered by what I was hearing I said “If nobody had sex, the human race would end, in fact it would have ended before Christ could be born..IN FACT Christ’s mother wouldn’t have been born in order to bear Jesus, so I don’t understand”…I was told that the necessity for sexual relations occurred at the fall, when I asked “Then how could Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply?” I was told that it would have been done without sexual intercourse. I said “How?” and I was kinda scoffed at and told “God is God, He can make a way for life to be reproduced without sexual relations, don’t ask me how, I don’t know how because we never made it that far so we have no way of knowing”……
I was like ….UHHHHHHH????
The Orthodox, like the Catholic Church allow no women to be clergy, only the exception of female monastics in higher ranks than the common nun, in any other case they are forbidden to teach.
Im sure there are exceptions as this is a worldwide organization but this is the general rule.
Men are over women, as Paul stated, they go by the book on that one.
And they are treated with respect, mind you, but there is a lot of unspoken rules and regulations concerning this, but here in America it pretty much remains unspoken, but the general answer you will get when asking about a woman’s status is that she is less than the man and that Woman brought sin upon the man.
Now the reason I put the statement about the Theotokos in Juxta-position to that is going to be something unknown to you unless you had been in these circles, so I apologize again for not being clear, like I said, I was in this so long I sometimes forget what is and isn’t “normal’ in mainline Xtianity.
Besides God, the Theotokos is THE MOST VENERATED SAINT, but they claim so much more knowledge and revelation about her…to be honest, this is the one part of discussing this that makes me uneasy, I always have and still do have love for the idea of Mary, and my daughter who passed away was named after her because of the love I was given for her while Catholic (Never confirmed, only went through Catechism partially), and then more so in Orthodoxy, she is probably the most overwhelming Archetype for me due to personal reasons.
In Orthodox Iconostasis you will always find Jesus, the Saint the building or site is named after and an icon of the Theotokos. And the emphasis about her is due, considering the belief that God brought salvation into the world through a human mother…they go into great detail about her life and how she was THE ONLY WOMAN who could have bore the Christ child, so in that sense you would get the impression that they see women as equals or even as greater like we see in some cultures and religious practices, but you don’t get that, you get the dirty, sinful, necessity of the woman in order to produce children.
I have never seen women treated cruelly though, it’s just an underlying atmosphere of women being less than men, and some off the wall shit from certain people that make them look like they almost shouldn’t exist….I’m guessing the Abbott had something in mind like that movie where Arnold was pregnant….CREEPY.
Hope that clears that up…yes it is a contradiction.
I also saw in many cases where women were respected very much so it’s all about who’s doing the teaching and what church you are in…it’s not written in stone exactly, it’s one of those things you pick up when you’re amongst them.
…In Orthodoxy you don’t get personal opinions on the true gospel, you join the Orthodox Church only if you swear to adhere to the teachings of the church, if you don’t believe their version of it then you don’t become a member, so I am guessing that you can have two improper views this way
An improper view within Orthodoxy being contradicted by the Monastery and Improper according to a personal belief of anybody that doesn’t believe the gospel according to the Monastery, but what is in question amongst the Orthodox who are saying this is former, the monastery is deviating from what the Orthodox church teaches, therefore if the Lady is orthodox, she has it within her stance as a baptized member of the Church to cite Canon law against the teachings of anybody within the church, in this case the Monastery.
… the Eyewitness news reporter “For the past 8 months, the Eyewitness News 4 investigators have been documenting several families claims of brainwashing and inappropriate teachings at St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery…..” … she’s reporting on THE DOCUMENTATION OF SEVERAL FAMILIES CLAIMS OF BRAINWASHING AND INAPROPRIATE TEACHINGS AT ST ANTHONY’S GREEK ORTHODOX MONASTERY.
She’s reporting on the claims of the 3 families. She later stated that 3 families had come to them, 2 of which are Greek Orthodox, this would be the families of Nikos Pantanizopoulos and Paul Aleck.
The Orthodox families are part of the Church proper, so they can state that the teachings of the Monastery are inappropriate in both ways, any way that is dehumanizing to their child, and in the realest sense, inappropriate as determined by Orthodox Canon Law. The reporter never spoke for her own opinions, she is speaking on their behalf, and speaking OF THEM.
The other father, the non-Orthodox can certainly find out what Orthodox proper teaches and ascertain that his son is being taught inappropriate teachings according to the Orthodox church simply by speaking with clergy on the matter, and again, his son is beating the shit out of his thigh with a wooden stick for having imperfect thoughts, believing in the aerial toll houses where the demons are judging the souls of baptized Orthodox Xtians, being taught that the Elders of Sion are plotting against the Monastery and the Orthodox Church etc., etc.
Again, she isn’t taking a stance, she’s speaking on behalf of the families….Also, inappropriate isn’t judged by 30,000 denominations, the Orthodox Church doesn’t even consider Protestants to be Xtians, they consider them heretics, schismatics, a Protestant must go through Catechism and baptism, including an exorcism before becoming Orthodox, they believe that only the Orthodox Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ due to their sole claim of Apostolic Succession and their belief that the Holy Spirit doesn’t bless the Communion of the schismatic Roman Church, in their eyes the Protestants are completely lost and know nothing of the Gospel and need to find true salvation though the Orthodox Church, and the Roman Catholics were a Patriarchate until 1054 AD when the final blow, the Filioque clause was added to the Nicene Creed and the Patriarch of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople Ex-communicated each other, later the land of Rus was brought in to create the missing 5th Patriarchate and in their eyes Rome is worse than being a Protestant.
They don’t care about any gospel but the Orthodox gospel, anything they deem as inappropriate is deemed so by looking into their own Tradition and Teachings collected over the past 2000 years and if it is out of whack then it is labeled heresy and is worthy of ex-communication.
They are so strict and rigid for a reason, they are in no way like the Protestants who have now come up with 30,000 sects in 450 years. They don’t believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, they believe in the inerrancy of the Orthodox Church, in their eyes, the Xtians wrote the gospels and epistles, passed them through Apostolic succession until the council of Nicea and the Orthodox Church voted on the Canon of scripture, the Orthodox Church preserved it through the ages by copying manuscripts, spreading the gospel and by shedding the blood of the martyrs to preserve the faith, right on through the Great Schism with Rome in 1054, through the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, right up to this very day….There is no Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide, there is Ortodoxon Xristianon. BTW I just realized who Scott Nevins is, the non-Orthodox convert.
I was at the Monastery when he came back from Mt Athos, that’s when I met him. He was made a novice while I was there…holy shit..we sat for hours on end telling stories about the Xtian life and about becoming monks, he lost so much weight it was frightening during the 49 days of fasting in Lent, thats why they make special mention of his photographs. He took on this real brooding appearance, began to walk in a hunched posturing for humility or something, barely ate, shit he cut out tomatoes, potatoes and peppers because the man that was supposedly exorcised there for 3 months said that since those food belong to the nightshade family they are neuro-toxins, which they are, AT TRACE LEVELS, so he had to eat even less of the little food allowed for thos entering the novitiate or the rest of the monks AND it was during Great Lent with all the food regulations, he got real pale and gaunt, he was dragging his boots as he walked, none of us knew he was entering the novitiate, he kept that to himself, out of humility I guess….I never understood why he thought that. Then one day he was a Man In Black.
Feel free to visit anytime, just call ahead to reserve a cell, ask for Pater Markellos, he’ll do you right up
Kyrie Iesou Xpiste Eleisov Me
Eper Ayia Theotoke Soson Emas.
Click on the little doo wah ditty button on the left for a sample of their chanting, the best thing to come out of that place……. http://www.stanthony…y.org/index.php
Tais tov tha criov sou roes….
I was just checking this thread to find the Youtube link to my Home Church priest, see I had a home Church cult and then the Monastery, so I actually left 2 cults at the same time, one is Antiochian Orthodox and the other was the Greek Orthodox, they are both in communion so there was no qualms about me having the Ant. as my home base church and also become a Greek Orth. monk.
Back when things were real bad, while I was a catechumen the priest-monk told me not to seek medical care in certain instances, I was pushed away from seeing a psychiatrist or even any counselling. I was told that the Nous, the eye of the soul which is the power, the I in Greek understanding was energetically destroyed and fragmented, that Satan had 100% rights over me and that I COULD NOT become psychologically well until baptism, they dangled baptism over my head for more than 3 years, I was forced to confess many sins that were committed due to my physical and psychological imbalances then had the cure withheld from me, by telling me not to seek secular help as well as not baptizing me.
So I was basically being broken down on purpose.
It was officially confirmed that I needed an exorcism of my house, and my home priest never even got around to doing it, a priest in a neighboring city came by to perform the rituals. I was told by my priest-monk that the Elder of the monastery wanted me to be so spiritually strong that I could be sitting in my house with things flying around the room like in the movie Poltergeist, and sit without being affected and be able to repeat the Jesus prayer non-stop, I was told by my priest-monk that this was my spiritual goal. Therefore the exorcism was done by my request in secret at my home base.
So I was being told that on the one hand I was to become a spiritual warrior and NOT have the proper Orthodox exorcisms and cleansings and be immediately baptised to protect me…….then I was being told that I had absolutely no power to do so because of the condition of the Nous before baptism.
I was told all psychological problems were to be spiritually healed, yet I was denied the healing which is Exorcism of the Catechumen, denouncing Satan, having hands laid on, being baptized and born of the spirit immediately aligning the Nous, then receiving the “True Eucharist”, the body and blood of Christ which would absolve me of every single sin committed, all this on the day of baptism.
In fact talking about it now, my mind is saying “You are deceived, you are now in the dark, you were so close and you blew it….” That’s how powerful they made my becoming Orthodox seem to me.
For years I was enticed with what would happen at that event, how i would become alive from the dead.
I was told so many stories of miraculous baptisms, the Orthodox pride themselves concerning their spiritual powers…I was told numerous miracle stories about first communion, that the neophyte would experience total catharsis as well as euphoria, I was told that at baptism I would be absolutely in touch with god until the first sin committed after baptism, which would begin the cycle of sin/confession/absolution/communion. The stories of baptism are so amazing that many plan ahead to go and be alone somewhere for days and weeks after baptism in order to retain the full blown connection with God, pray for all their needs at this time and they would be answered, read books and know their meaning, read scripture and be instantly enlightened. I was to be baptized at the Monastery when the time came and was to spend weeks alone in my cell with pre picked books, audio tapes, CDs and food brought to me.
As I have found out how much psychological damage was done to me now that I have learned what it was they were doing and teaching and how it affected me, I am trying to find a specialist in de-programming….to be honest, I am going to post this but I am sure i will have to EDIT a lot of it later today, I can actually feel my mind fighting itself and becoming confused.
I am willing to bet this entire post is fragmented and hard to follow…I can’t get my thoughts straight, the words aren’t coming out the way I would normally be able to.
I am going to post it as a testimony to the power of the brain washing and finish it up later, hopefully it made I have sent numerous emails to the monastery and have received no replies
As far as I know, they know nothing of my de-conversion, these attempts to contact them were made over the last year, I think that they somehow got wind of me telling my home priest to shine on and have labeled me a paraya (sp?).
I think I am going to get a professional involved as well as contact the media who have already looked into the problems there, I want some closure and I want my voice heard.
I want to be able to put this behind me and I can’t do that without making my story heard, they need to know and I need to know that they know. enough sense for you to understand how much control they had over me. http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/27554-st-anthonys-greek-orthodox-monastery-now-im-on-psych-meds/#.VHkCCmfp-Sp
In 2011, a lay disciple of Geronda Ephraim, using the name zealot777, posted the following: “Saint Anthony’s Monastery is in perfectly good standing with the Greek Archdiocese and World Orthodoxy as a whole. There is nothing cultic about them. If they were operating in an independent fashion outside their jurisdiction, yet claiming to belong to it, then I might have some concerns. But everything they do is Orthodox. The author of this thread is probably just unfamiliar with the Orthodox ascetical lifestyle. I have visited the monastery twice. They’re wonderful people. That the author is now on psych meds, does not prove the monastery is to blame.”
Chikirin responded, “We are ex christians therefore we believe all of Christendom is a cult (at least I do any way)”
And a moderator reiterated the forum rules: “Christians are not allowed to evangelize or debate their beliefs in the Testimonies Forum. The Lions Den forum on this site is open for that. Please carefully read and respect the rules of this forum before posting in here”
The forum is now locked.
Milieu Control: St. Anthony’s is located in a remote Arizona desert. Scott was physically isolated from the world during the years he spent at the monastery. His forays into the outside world appear to have been limited to doctor and emergency room visits. Letters and phone calls required permission, and permission was granted infrequently and stingily. Personal mail was screened. Phone conversations were monitored. A visit from his parents, who had traveled a great distance to see Scott, was strictly limited: two hours only. Even contact with other Orthodox was discouraged if that person was not an Ephraimite, as was any involvement with non-Ephraimite parishes. Scott’s contact with his family was further limited after the KVOA report, and after his father developed his website. When their control appeared to be slipping, the monastery began advancing personalized and bizarre conspiracies, such as the “murder plot,” to show Scott that the outside world was not safe.
Mystical Manipulation: Scott’s communications with his family, infrequent as they were during his monastery years, were filled with “examples” of Archimandrite Ephraim’s supposed spiritual gifts.
• “The Elder” performs successful exorcisms, including that of Michael Fowler, even when other clergy are unsuccessful;
• “The Elder” can levitate;
• When “The Elder” meditates he glows so brightly that you will be temporarily blinded if you walk into the same room;
• “The Elder” can’ t visit a zoo because the animals will go wild;
• People who reject “The Elder’ s” teachings will drop dead;
• “The Elder” can ascend to heaven and talk to God;
• “The Elder” knows people’s thoughts;
• “The Elder’ s” breath smells like myrrh;
• “The Elder” “divined” to find water for the Arizona monastery; and
• When “The Elder” first came to America he was confronted by the devil and stabbed with Satan’s big pitchfork tail. Although he was wounded, the archimandrite defeated the devil. “The Elder” has a scar where the devil stabbed him with his tail.
Demand for Purity: The quest for perfection had Scott eating and sleeping less and less to curb him his “passions.” The Nevins’ son was 6’3″ tall and weighed approximately 220 pounds when he entered the monastery. A year later his weight had dropped to 150 pounds and he was sleeping only 4 to 5 hours a night. During the 4 months after Scott returned from Greece, it is doubtful whether he managed to get any meaningful sleep at all, given the size and location of his assigned cell. Malnutrition and exhaustion clouded this young man’s formidable intellectual gifts.
Confession: Confession was a regular part of Scott’s experience at St. Anthony’s. He wrote daily in a “Confession book.” However, this was not just ordinary confession, rather it was used to insure that Scott was thinking and acting in accord with the group. The fact that Scott believed that “The Elder” knew all of his thoughts insured that absolutely nothing would be withheld, and absolute control could be maintained.
Sacred Science: The ultimate “Truth” preached at St. Anthony’s was that there was no salvation outside of absolute obedience to its leaders. To reinforce this, the monastery taught a heretical and Gnostic doctrine concerning life after death called the “Toll Houses.” Scott, along with many others, believed that absolute obedience to “The Elder” in this life was his only protection from the demons who would judge him in the hereafter.
Loading the Language: In his infrequent communications with his family, Scott used certain catch phrases. While some are common to Orthodoxy, according to another former monastery insider, the phrases acquired a different meaning as taught by the leadership of St. Anthony’ s.
• “Obedience is a shield” which protects you from “demonic assaults.” (Ironically. Archimandrite Ephraim was not obedient to his own superiors, as when Scott was received into the Greek Church by baptism rather than Chrismation.);
• “The Elder” is a “doctor” for troubled souls, and the monastery a “spiritual hospital;”
• “Daily martyrdom;”
• “Love and chastisement always go hand in hand;”
• “If a man is not willing to give up his father and mother for My sake then he is not worthy of Me;” and
• “Sometimes it is better to suffer.”
Doctrine over person: Scott was proud of his emaciated appearance and his new-found ability to survive with very little sleep. Common sense should have told him that lack of rest and malnourishment were not healthy, but he instead he accepted the group’s insistence that this was a positive and healing experience for him, despite the frequent emergency room visits which resulted.
The Dispensing of Existence: Scott insisted that his parents speak with “The Elder” because “he can help.” When his parents instead opposed the Archimandrite, they become unworthy of interaction. Local Greek Orthodox churches, religious schools, and even Orthodox believers (such as Dr. Bradley Nassif) who did not accept the Ephraimite teachings also weren’t ” pure” enough and thus could be ignored.
Scott was clearly under the influence of thought reform during his years at St. Anthony’s Monastery. While still believing that he was making his own decisions, he had unwittingly adopted the criteria for making those decisions given to him by the monastery’s leadership.
The side-effects of leaving a group which engages in thought reform are severe. Their altered thought patterns need to be undone before they can be truly free to function normally in the outside world. Simply leaving the group, as Scott did, does not erase the marks that thought reform has left on the person. The rational structure of adult thinking and how he dealt with the world outside of the monastery as an adult had been damaged by thought reform that had undermined his emotional development during the critical adult emotional development time of his 20’s.
The leadership at St. Anthony’s spent a great deal of time telling Scott that it was the end of the world, leading him to expect imminent death. “Daily martyrdom” was exalted and expected. Everyone outside of the monastery was viewed as an evil heretic. Irrational conspiracy theories abounded at the monastery. When Scott left the monastery, he rejected the depiction of the outside world as evil and began to regard the monastery as a threat to himself and others. Scott, a working college student and teenager before entering the monastery, was not suicidal. The man that St. Anthony’s unethically had thought reformed was quite capable of suicide. This person was very different from the Scott that his parents, hi s siblings, his relatives and his friends knew. The thought reform that Scott endured led directly to his decision to end his own life. Had Scott not been subjected to this methodology, or had it been addressed in time. he would still be alive today. Scott’s death was not an ” unfortunate circumstance.” It was entirely predictable and preventable.
The predictable aspects of the emotional trauma’s Scott Nevins experienced were told to Metropolitan Gerasiamos by the Nevins’ and they spoke directly to him about preventing it. Their concerns were both rejected and ignored and they were told they could not be believed as parents, were questioned about Scott’s potentially being a homosexual as a reason why he wanted to become a monk, that forgiveness and a book on monasticism was what they needed to be focused on as the Metropolitans remedy. None of these ideas or remedies stopped the emotional trauma Scott Nevins experienced or the psychological damage done to him at St. Anthony’s Monastery.
The Greek Orthodox Church of America discusses some of the problems associated with these kinds of thought reform groups as warning to not become involved in them. That information can be found at the Archdiocese website:
Scott Nevins did not become involved with St. Anthony’s because he was emotionally unstable, unintelligent, a traumatic event or trying to trying escape his home life. He was subtly manipulated into making decisions that he normally would not have made, without ever realizing that he was being carefully influenced by the monastery’s leadership. This is the essence of thought reform.
Eight Signs of Thought Reform
Thought reform has been well-researched and is not an unsubstantiated theory. In order to achieve the necessary degree of control over an individual, eight criteria are required to be present. The eight criteria, as outlined by Dr. Robert J. Lifton are: 1. Milieu Control: This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large. 2. Mystical Manipulation: There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes. 3. Demand for Purity: The world is viewed as black and whi te and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here. 4. Confession: Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders. 5. Sacred Science: The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism. 6. Loading the Language: The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating cliches, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking. 7. Doctrine over person: Member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group. 8. Dispensing of existence: The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group’s ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also.2 (Lifton, 1989)
On June 9, 2012, Scott left Oregon and drove approximately 20 hours to the monastery in Arizona. He arrived at St. Anthony’s late on the evening of June 10, 2012. Scott drove up to the gate. Clint Allen “Damian” Berrier, who lived at the monastery, was working security. Scott drove up to the monastery entrance, but when Father Philaret (Berrier) approached his car, he turned around quickly and sped away. Berrier followed Scott in another vehicle. According to his witness statement to the police, Berrier stopped before he reached Scott’s car. Only after hearing a gunshot did he approach Scott’s car. The Nevins’ only son was bleeding, but still moving. Berrier called 911. When the police arrived Berrier was still outside of Scott’s car. Soon after Berrier completed his statement, Archimandrite Paisios drove to the scene. Only then did the abbot give the detectives documentation of threats Scott had made against the monastery and those in it. Scott died two hours after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at 0214 hours on June II, 2012.
A Modesto police officer came to the Nevins’ home that same clay and told Ashley about Scott’s death. The two of them then went to Diane’s work place to let her know the terrible news. Later that day Ashley contacted the San Francisco Metropolis to inform Metropolitan Gerasimos of Scott’s death. The Nevins never heard a word from the monastery or from the Metropolitan. Ashley tried on three separate occasions during the week following Scott’s death to talk directly with Metropolitan Gerasimos. He never succeeded in reaching the bishop. His first call to the Diocese informed them of Scott’s death and where it had taken place, the first they had heard of it. Metropolitan Gerasimos saying that he was praying for Scott’s salvation. He did not invite the Nevins to call him back to discuss Scott’s death. However, the diocesan attorney did attempt to contact the Nevins. The family did not try to make contact with Metropolitan Gerasimos again, nor did they return the lawyer’s call.
On three occasions during the month of June 2012, someone in the Greek Church called the police, falsely accusing Ashley of threatening physical harm. The first contact was by the Pinal County Sheriff s Department, the second contact was a day later by two Modesto City Police officers, the third contact was a phone call a couple of days later by another Modesto City Police officer.
In contrast to the Church’s reaction to Scott’s death, all of the lawmen who responded to the false accusations against Ashley told the grieving father that he was living in a nightmare, and apologized for the intrusion. The Phoenix office of the ATF also called Ashley after they learned of Scott’s death to offer any assistance they could provide.
Ashley visited the Clergy Laity Congress on its last day, Thursday July 5, 20 12. Most of the delegates were in the front lobby and the loading zone, getting ready to leave the hotel and the conference center. Many of the attendees saw Ashley, but he did not say one word to any church member there as he handed out obituaries of his son in silence, and he left peacefully after about 15 minutes. A hotel security man approached him and asked if he was staying at the hotel. Ashley told him he was not and asked him if he would like him to leave, the hotel security man said yes, and Ashley immediately left. As Ashley was driving out the hotel driveway two Phoenix City Police cars came racing into the lobby loading zone area. Scott’s father drove from the conference to the sheriffs’ office in Florence to pick up the personal effects of his dead son. From there he went straight to the Phoenix airport to catch his flight back to Sacramento. He and his wife later donated the car his son died in to the Pinal County Sheriffs’ Department.
Since Scott’s death he has been portrayed by many monastery supporters as having had emotional problems prior to entering the monastery. The Nevins dispute this, for many reasons; Metropolitan Gerasimos who is a PhD Clinical Psychologist told the Nevins he was going to interview Scott to see if he had entered the monastery of his own free will. One follower of Archimandrite Ephraim, and a good example of the kind of person the Nevins have had to deal with during this long ordeal, claimed Scott’s death was the result of the government trying to control people by placing probes in their heads. He has developed an internet YouTube outlining his conspiracy theory as to what happened to Scott. The YouTube is entitled, Scott Nevins: Suicide At St. Anthony’s Monastery.
Archimandrite Paisios, the abbot at St. Anthony’s Monastery, also made statements to an investigative reporter for the The National Herald concerning Scott’s psychological state while he was at St. Anthony’s. “He did not show any signs [of peculiar behavior]. A year before he left he was in contact with some people who were acquaintances and friends and he had some concerns. I remember one time he had said to me that the white flowers in the oleanders in the Monastery’s garden is the symbol of Satanists”. He did not do anything about what he observed; he did not address those issues with either the parents or the Metropolitan. Scott stayed there growing ever worse in this condition and no one did anything to address this issue. Scott’s parents during this entire time kept speaking to the church about the concerns they had with the Archimandrite’s leadership, teaching and practices. They observed in Scott what Archimandrite Piasios had admitted and spoken to them about.
Mr. Michael Jaharis, the Co-Chairman of the Greek Orthodox Church of America Clergy -Laity Congress, made a speech in October 201 2 in reference to many issues in the church, among them the monasteries of Archimandrite Ephraim. He spoke about the monastery issues calling them a ‘disease’, spoke about the death of Scott Nevins, that the monasteries refused to fully cooperate in an internal church investigation of them by the Congress, and he said “we expect to take severe and appropriate action to remedy this existing issue, since not doing so could have long term grave consequences.” He also spoke about another monastery with a sex abuse problem in Astoria, New York not affiliated with Archimandrite Ephraim. He expressed his concerns about how the Ecumenical Patriarch has handled that situation since that particular monastery is under his direct authority, the same as the Greek Orthodox Church and Archimandrite Ephraim monasteries here in America are to.
A practicing Chicago Attorney and laity Congress member, Mr. William Stotis, was assigned the responsibility by the Congress to investigate the monasteries under the leadership of Archimandrite Ephraim. A report was developed. The report has not been made public to the church; the hierarchy will not allow it with their reasons not made public to the church. This is the same investigation that Mr. Jaharis made reference to the monastery not being fully cooperative with their investigation. This investigation began prior to the death of Scott Nevins.
It was not until after the death of Scott Nevins that Metropolitan Gerasiamos then formed an internal committee to address issues with the monasteries led by Archimandrite Ephraim. The Metropolitan and the committee have yet to report any lack of cooperation of the Archimandrite Ephraim or other monastic’s with their efforts to address the issues there.
A practicing Chicago attorney and former Clergy-Laity Congress member, Mr. Louis Atsaves, has developed a website called, Greek Orthodox Christians for Truth and Reform http://www.gotruthreform.org . The website challenges the attitudes, teachings and practices of the Archimandrite Ephraim, the hierarchy that supports him, and the followers of the monastery. Mr. Atsaves, with other like minded associates, have met with members of the hierarchy to express their concerns about the monasteries, Archimandrite Paisios and Archimandrite Ephraim. A second website addressing these issues called, We Are The Orthodox, has been developed by a Greek Orthodox Church lay person, Yanni Pappas (www.wearetheorthodox.com).
A second KVOA Tucson Channel 5 News report with the same previous lead reporter has been developed on St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona and will air shortly after Archimandrite Ephraim, the church Metropolitan hierarchy and the Ecumenical Patriarch have received this letter. That report will then be put on the internet.
Other forms of media reporting of the issues around the monasteries, the archimandrite leadership practices, the hierarchy relationship with the archimandrite leadership, the role and responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarch in all of this, are coming forthwith. All such reporting will be done in the context of the death of Scott Nevins at St. Anthony’s Monastery.
The list of unresolved problems from both monasteries and church alike, how they came about, and what is not being done by the hierarchy to address them is very long. Michael Jaharis addressed some of these issues of monastery and hierarchy behavior in his October 20 12 speech to the Congress. The Nevins will address this pattern of church and monastery leadership behavior and its horrible impact on their son and family both in the media and if necessary in court. The Greek Orthodox laity is now finding out that there is an undeniable and growing division taking place in the Greek Orthodox Church of America regarding Archimandrite Ephraim and the monasteries. Much greater church wide knowledge of hierarchy treatment of the monastery issues being raised by the Nevins, the media and concerned Greek Orthodox is now becoming known.
The Nevins started addressing these issues with the church, monastery and hierarchy in 2004 or 8 years ago.
This overview of the facts does not include every factual detail the Nevins have and what other concerned parties have given them pertaining to the involvement of Scott Nevins in St. Anthony’s Monastery and the Greek Orthodox Church of America, his time spent at the monastery, the resulting traumas Scott Nevins experienced while involved, admissions, and other information about how the church hierarchy and Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios has treated these issues.
In January 23, 2011, Scott called his parents and told them he no longer wished to be a monk. The young man had confronted Archimandrite Ephraim over not being holy in a confess ion. Scott also related to his parents that the Archimandrite ate special foods, had monks chauffeur him, and received special gifts. In addition, Scott reported that Archimandrite Ephraim’s living quarters were far better than any of the other monastics with lots of imported furnishings. Finally, he said that the Archimandrite could not prove his special powers, and that he now believed that the monastery only existed for the benefit of the two archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios. Scott continued, saying that the monastery was not honest about what went on inside it, especially concerning money. Finally, Scott admitted that Archimandrite Ephraim could not heal anyone, and that anyone as materialistic as the Archimandrite was could not be holy. After Scott left the monastery he called Archimandrite Ephraim a charlatan and told the Nevins that the ER doctor who had treated him had said that as well.
On February 25, 20II, at 2 a.m., Scott fled from the monastery. He told no one he was leaving that night. He had told them previously that he was going to leave, but he was now afraid, saying, “They were casting spells on me.” He left in such a rush that he neglected to take all of his personal items. He walked on the road for hours and was helped by two different strangers who got him to the Phoenix airport. Scott was terrified that he would be found and brought back to the monastery, to face a horrible retribution, perhaps even death, for his defection. He was afraid that the monastery might cook up some scheme to ‘frame’ him with. Scott was also scared of the many monastery supporters, especially those who believed in the various conspiracy theories put forth at St. Anthony’s.
The 27 year old man who left the monastery that night was a hollow shell of his former teenage 19 year old self. The younger Scott was full of life; he had meaning and purpose, and had a great potential future in front of him. He was a kind, gifted, highly intelligent, emotionally healthy, easy going and a sensitive young man with a dry sense of humor, who thought he might become a philosophy professor or child psychologist. Scott had a talent for working with young children, and was a skilled intellectual thinker. The Scott who fled from St. Anthony’s in the middle of the night, afraid for his life, was deeply distressed, traumatized and sleep-deprived. The abused Scott that came home to the Nevins was not the same Scott who had lived with them for 19 years. The different and nearly unrecognizable Scott that the church and monastery had created was terrified, discouraged, and emotionally traumatized.
Scott returned home briefly and was still afraid of the monastery and its followers; he then decided to start a new life in Oregon. He first moved in with his grandparents, who offered to help him get a college degree. After living with them for several months he eventually got his own car and an apartment close to them and to his school. He tried to find a job. His family in Modesto kept up good and consistent contact with him. Scott was surrounded by people who loved and cared for him. He returned to Modesto on occasion to visit with his family and his old friends. Everyone noticed that this was not the same Scott they had known before. Even Scott knew that something was not right with himself as a result of his years at the St. Anthony’s. Although he could not articulate exactly what was wrong, he recognized that he had been seriously damaged.