Diane McMillan may not be drugged or brainwashed but she has certainly been “indoctrinated” and thinks her family are “nuts” for reacting the way they have to her marriage to self-styled mystic Amadon.
This is what Diane’s mother, Karene, had to say after arriving home this week from her visit to the Living Love Fellowship (LLF) in the US state of Oregon.
She says that Saturday Star incorrectly reported a few facts last week and she wished to correct them as the LLF made a point of reading the stories on the Internet every Saturday and she did not want to give the impression that they were lying to the press in South Africa.
“We did not go and visit Diane with the intention of bringing her back. We just wanted to check that she was OK as we thought that she might have been brainwashed or drugged and we wanted to know for sure that this was not happening.
“I feel she has been indoctrinated because she can see no wrong in Amadon: the two of them feel completely blameless. She listens to everything he says and does not question it.
“She doesn’t seem to understand that our reaction to her actions is completely natural. She thinks everything we have done is ‘nuts’ – that it’s perfectly natural to ‘fall in love’ over the Internet and the age gap is not significant either.”
Karene says Diane was not arrested. The US police had thought they had grounds to arrest her, but discovered they did not.
“Laurie and I didn’t even know the immigration officers were going to take action. All we wanted to do was visit Diane and for that we needed a sheriff’s escort. We were actually surprised to find this support.”
She says that she and Laurie, Diane’s elder sister, were not invited into the LLF home at Myrtle Point but were instead told to meet them at their rented house.
“They made it quite clear that they did not want us on their premises. They threatened to arrest us if we arrived unannounced. They rented a house in nearby Bandon where we visited them for tea.
“Amadon and Sarah (a former wife of Amadon’s) were not there. We would have liked to have seen the group dynamics with Amadon present, as the young people we met seemed sweet.”
Karene says the reason she refused to apologise to Amadon, as he and Diane had each demanded, was that he was trying to “manipulate” them.
“We had a very pleasant evening at their rented property. We came away thinking we had mended fences a bit and we told Diane we were glad that she was happy and that we would leave her alone.
We also established that she was not drugged or badly treated and we felt we would have to leave it at that.
“Laurie and I returned home and went to bed. Later, when we were already asleep, there was a knock at our door. It was Diane with two large brown envelopes.” (Karene explained that someone must have brought her there as she cannot drive.)
“In Laurie’s covering letter, Amadon said he didn’t think she had grasped how unpleasant the emails from us had been – he wanted her to know this so he included all the emails he had received.
He implied that a lot of the hate mail sent by the public was actually from Ian (McMillan, Diane’s father) and me.
“These e-mails contained swearwords and perversion. Neither Ian nor I sent any emails with bad language.
One person sent this insulting email using bad language over and over again to Amadon, so he printed many copies of this same email to try to illustrate to us how much pain he had had to endure.”
In his letter to Laurie, Amadon wrote: “Something had to happen” before he met Karene.
Karene said: “He was quite sarcastic in his covering letter to me, saying: ‘It’s all very well to be cordial but you need to know the weight of the pain you have caused me.’
He wanted us to apologise for these emails before he would have anything to do with us.
“If he was an authentic spiritual leader, would he behave in this way? Would he wake us up in the middle of the night, confronting us with piles of public hate mail, demanding an apology when we had travelled halfway around the world to visit our daughter?”
The next day, Diane phoned her mother, begging her to apologise to Amadon. Karene says Diane does not perceive Amadon’s or her actions as at all wrong.
“Laurie then said to Diane: ‘we came in a spirit of reconciliation.’ I also declared that there was nothing loving about what he had just done.
“How could we apologise to such a conscienceless person who lures a 15-year-old over the Internet, waits until she is 18 and then whisks her out of the country into a marriage?
“I do not want to condone this man’s actions: I want my daughter to know that I believe he is wrong. She is married to a man who I have never spoken to or met. We asked her some pertinent questions such as: ‘Do you ever go out on your own?’ and ‘Do you have any personal freedom?’ She didn’t answer.
“We were never able to take her out on her own. She is under their control and we only have access to her if they allow it. I believe she is in the wrong hands and I cannot pretend about this. I believe she is happy but she is deceived.”
Karene said people had started to judge her and her family. Her youngest daughter, Angela, had told her some of the things children had said to her. They were saying that the family do not seem to be too upset about what has happened to Diane.
“The opposite is true. Our family are devastated: we are battling to cope and we have had to endure stories by a SA tabloid magazine which described us as miserable and abusive.
In the US, Laurie and I were beside ourselves most of the time, not knowing what to do or how to behave.
“Laurie was in tears frequently and, being frail, often physically exhausted. It is very, very hurtful and inexplicable – and a good man would never encourage his wife to treat her family in this way.
“I found myself praying for guidance and reading the Bible every day. We so desperately wanted to do the right thing but we didn’t always know what that was.
“It was like being on an emotional roller-coaster where they called the shots. But I am sure that she was left in no doubt as to how much we love her.”