God’s House Tenants Face Eviction Proceedings
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Friday August 1, 2003
The Hartford Courant (Connecticut), Aug. 1, 2003
By LEE FOSTER, Courant Staff Writer
PLAINFIELD — The two remaining tenants of God’s House are being threatened with eviction.
J. C. Foster – who calls himself the Mouth of God – and Sister Rachel say they aren’t going anywhere.
Anyone who tries to take them out of the white Cape-style house on Church Street will be “struck down dead” by God, Foster said Wednesday.
They believe the house belongs to God, who ordained that they should live there.
“God put us here and that’s where we’ll stay,” Foster said, seated at the kitchen table. “They have made a grave mistake.”
Foster and his followers have lived in the house in the Moosup section since 1989, when homeowner M. Benjamin Zimmerman invited them to move in.
Two months ago, the court-appointed conservator of his estate moved Zimmerman, 77, into a nursing home. Richard Asal of Thompson, the conservator, said this week he has initiated eviction proceedings so the house can be sold.
“I have to see if we can’t get those people out,” he said. “Ben’s in the rest home and they’re going to want to get paid.”
Zimmerman’s invitation to the group “expired as of today,” Asal’s attorney said Thursday.
If Foster and Rachel don’t leave, a summary process notice will be served on them next week, attorney John McGrath said.
The court will then schedule a hearing, which probably wouldn’t occur until September, he said.
Foster and sisters Etta Perry and Loretta Borodetz had been living in a park in Killingly when they met Zimmerman. Perry and Borodetz had left their families to follow the charismatic Foster and taken the names Sister Esther and Sister Magdal.
They called Zimmerman Brother Joshua, although he was never considered a member of the sect.
Sister Rachel, formerly Theresa Bellavance, left her five children from two marriages and moved into the house in 1993.
Foster instructed his followers to reject family ties, sex, medical treatment, employment and government assistance – God would provide everything they needed, he said. In 1990, Zimmerman tried to deed the house over to God, but the town clerk would not accept the deed.
Esther and Magdal, both 68, moved into senior housing a couple of years ago, leaving Foster and Rachel to live out Foster’s vision of a heavenly kingdom on earth with Rachel as queen.
“We’re the only ones left living in faith,” Rachel said.
He espouses an Old Testament view of God as demanding, vengeful and directly involved with human lives.
People ranging from a teenager who threw a rock through the front window to President George W. Bush have been notified in writing by Foster that their “sinful” actions will be punished.
Some of the targets of Foster’s “warnings” about divine retribution have taken offense and tried to have him arrested for threatening, but the charges have not stuck.
During his wandering days, he spent time in jail and the state facility for mentally disturbed criminals.
The town lost a case against the sect in 1997, when the court ruled printed messages covering the outside of the house proclaiming God’s wrath did not violate town ordinances.
Rachel and Foster are certain that no eviction process can interfere with Foster’s vision of a new perfect world – born when the land is cleansed of sinners – that he believes will rise from the white Cape on Church Street.
“There’s a great awakening starting in the town of Moosup,” Foster said.
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