DENVER – One member of the religious group calling itself Concerned Christians has finally returned home, but more than 75 others are still missing, presumed to be overseas.
Denver preacher Kim Miller attracted a large following from his radio shows and taped sermons in the 1990s. He claimed to be the prophet of God.
“He speaks through my mouth,” he told 9NEWS in 1997. “He just tells me, like the Old Testament prophets of the old days, and he speaks through my mouth.”
Miller told his followers that America is Satan’s kingdom, and in 1998 he told them to drop everything and leave. The faithful abandoned homes, jobs and families to follow him to Israel. Former members said that Miller wanted the group to be in Jerusalem for the second coming of Christ at the millennium, and that he himself expected to be martyred on the streets of that city.
“Jesus died for us on the cross,” he preached. “Now, we’re to go to our deaths.”
His message alarmed Israeli authorities, and in 1999 they deported the cult back to Denver.
Hundreds of family members waited at the airport, but the cult members boarded buses without a word and eventually made their way to Greece. Greek authorities were also worried, and 20 Concerned Christians were again deported. Some stayed in Pennsylvania for a time, another settled in Wyoming, but all maintained their allegiance to Kim Miller.
“It just amazes me that he has that kind of control,” said Mark Roggeman, who has studied Concerned Christians. “All of their information is controlled. Even if they can listen to something outside the group, it’s always filtered through the leader, Kim Miller.”
Roggeman is a police officer who has testified in court as an expert on cults. He estimates that more 100 people followed Miller in the 1990s, most of them from Colorado. Many took children with them, and many more children were born when the group was in exile.
The only member confirmed to have left Miller’s group is now in New Mexico with friends. She refused to talk with 9NEWS. Her friends say it took her a long time to get over the cult’s control, and she doesn’t want anything to do with Concerned Christians.
The families of other cult members hope she will relent and tell them about others in the group.
Kim Miller and the Concerned Christians maintain a Web site containing many of his audio-taped sermons. At the bottom of the homepage is this message:
“Send e-mail to us. We usually don’t reply.”