‘Life Goes On’ for N.M. Cult Followers
SANTA FE — After Judgment Day failed to arrive as expected this weekend, members of a northeastern New Mexico cult are left to ponder one question: What now?
Members of the Lord Our Righteousness Church near Des Moines believed they would escape their earthly bondage and ascend to heaven Friday night. Their once-active Web site came down, and a church representative sent the Journal an e-mail saying he didn’t anticipate having anymore contact with the media.
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But as a small crowd of people and a TV news crew looked on from the gate to the wind-swept compound, midnight came. And then midnight went.
“They were looking for deliverance from God,” said Sarah Montoya, an attorney for the church’s leader, Wayne Bent. Montoya spoke with Bent’s son Jeff on Saturday. “They’re disappointed, but they understand that life goes on.”
What that means for the time being is that Bent’s 45 adult followers at the Strong City compound have ended a two-week fast, in which they had also stopped drinking water last weekend. The fast was launched in protest of criminal charges that Bent had illegal sexual contact with underage girls.
Montoya said Jeff Bent was surprised by how weak the fast had left some members. They’re going back on food and water slowly, she said, and a nurse is on the compound.
The church members believed Friday night ended their “Year of Jubilee,” with a deliverance by God from their “earthly life.”
Bent, who considers himself the Messiah, was arrested Wednesday after a judge issued a bench warrant when Bent failed to appear at a court hearing. Montoya said she has not talked to Bent and does not know if he was still fasting.