Founded by Doug Perry in 2004, the Fellowship of Martyrs (FORM), in Liberty, Missouri, is billed as a Christian ministry that operates like a co-op — with about 70 members sharing apartments.
But James Todd, who two years ago joined the group together with his wife and kids, says he now considers it a cult.
He told Texas station KHOU that his wife started hearing voices telling her to leave him to be with another man — which she did.
According to the station Todd also says the fellowship allowed addicts and former criminals — one of whom, Greg Weiler, was recently arrested and charged in a plot to blow up churches in Oklahoma.
Todd is now back in Texas, and is fighting for his marriage and the custody of his children.
‘If I leave, I will die’
The KHOU report doesn’t go into details, but the Kansas City Star Magazine earlier this month posted an extensive article on the group — including a closer look at what happened with the Todd family.
The couple began to have problems almost immediately after arriving in Liberty, and the situation deteriorated to the point where Jennifer told him one night that God had instructed her to end the marriage.
The magazine says
James attempted to convince her to leave the ministry with him so they could deal with their marital problems somewhere separate from the Martyrs.
She told him that if she left the ministry, she would “die” — that if she followed James, she would fall from God’s grace.
In an episode of “Our America With Lisa Ling” broadcast last week, Ling questioned FOTM leader Doug Perry about the effect the violent language in his sermons may be having on his potentially unstable followers:
Perry is a prolific YouTube poster. Local newspaper the Liberty Tribune says, ” In these hyperbolic sermons, he promotes his own brand of back-to-basics Christianity that stresses good works and a “vow of martyrdom” as some of the core tenets of his ministry.”
The group’s reported teachings and practices may also mark it as cult-like from a sociological perspective.