Church tries to distance itself from murder victim’s husband

The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, is trying to distance itself further from Tyler Deaton, the leader of a controversial religious group, whose wife was murdered.

  • On Saturday November 10, Micah Moore (23), of Kansas City, was charged with first-degree murder after he confessed to killing a woman to stop her from revealing she was being sexually assaulted.
  • Court documents claim Moore — a member of the group — was instructed to kill Bethany Ann Deaton by a fellow cult member, so she wouldn’t tell her therapist about months of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of various men in the group.
  • While some names in the Probable Cause document have been blacked out, the Kansas City Star reported Moore told authorities that he acted on the orders of her husband. The paper says prosecutors acknowledged that Tyler Deaton is also under investigation in his wife’s death
  • Moore told detectives that he and other men in the group had sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton and that the men in the group had also engaged in sex with Tyler Deaton, according to court documents.
  • Various media outlets have reported that Tyler and Bethany Ann Deaton were both involved in the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and were studying at its ‘University’ — which is not a university by accredition — to become international missionaries.
  • IHOP is a controversial ‘charismatic Christian’ organization based in Kansas City, Missouri. It is associated with religious figures whose doctrines and practices tend to vary from those of normative, Biblical Christianity.
  • IHOP founder Mike Bickle says God talks to him, and tells people he has visited heaven twice. Bickle is the former senior leader and senior pastor at Metro Christian Fellowship, Kansas City, Kansas. That church was formerly known as Kansas City Fellowship, and became highly controversial for — among other things — its so-called ‘Kansas City Prophet.’ Influenced by these ‘prophets’ — who issued often manipulative ‘prophecies’ — the church heavily promoted mystical experiences.
  • According to the Kansas City Star, Tyler Deaton’s group came from Texas to be part of the International House of Prayer. In a commentary, the paper says that Bethany Deaton, 27, came to Kansas City from Texas, drawn to do an internship with IHOP. She lived in a house full of people, including her husband, also drawn by IHOP.
  • Bethany Ann Deaton

    Bethany Ann Deaton (Courtesy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

  • Last Monday, November 12, a statement on IHOP’s website by IHOP President Allen Hood, said

    Since Bethany’s death it has come to light that over 5 years ago, both she and Mr. Moore joined an independent, close-knit, religious group in Georgetown, Texas. This religious group of fewer than 20 people was led by Tyler Deaton. They relocated to Kansas City over the last few years and operated under a veil of secrecy.

    This group has always operated independently of the university and it is important to all of us that this group’s secrecy and disturbing religious practices are fully exposed.

    Mr. Deaton led his religious group entirely independently from IHOPU, though he and some of his members were enrolled in our university.

  • But on Thursday, November 15 the Kansas City Star reported

    [A] handout and website posting shows that as of Nov. 4 — five days after Bethany Deaton’s death — Tyler Deaton was a “division coordinator” on the administrative team of International House of Prayer friendship groups. The position is unpaid, according to another person who holds the same position and attended three recent meetings with Deaton.

    According to IHOP’s website, friendship groups are small groups that meet weekly. There are more than 80 friendship groups. Deaton was listed as one of six division coordinators.

  • The next day Tyler Deaton’s name was no longer listed on the IHOP website. A statement posted on the website by Forerunner Christian Fellowship (FCF) — “the local church expression of the IHOPKC Missions Base” — explains

    A volunteer mistakenly labeled Deaton as a divisional coordinator when preparing a preliminary small groups info packet. Because the small groups director was not consulted and did not catch the error, the volunteer continued to reprint the mistake. The incorrect information has since been removed.

    In mid-June, an individual spoke to the new small groups director raising concerns about Deaton’s manipulative behavior in his independent Bible study group. The director met with Deaton and mistakenly concluded that these concerns had been resolved. This we deeply regret. This individual again voiced concerns in mid-October, and we began to investigate the situation.

    These concerns did not include any reference to the sexual perversion, sexual assault, or malicious practices that were exposed only after Bethany’s death.

    The statement also claims the church leaders believe Tyler Deaton’s “interest in our small groups was to try to promote his own agenda within our organization.”

    Knowing what we know now, we deeply regret our failure to discern the nature of Deaton’s alleged secretive, perverse, cultic practices. We further regret his admission to IHOPU four years ago and all connection he had with our organization.

  • Following publication of that statement, the Kansas City Star said

    Friday’s IHOP statement did not address questions from The Star about an earlier internal memo attributed to IHOP leader Mike Bickle that accused Deaton and his group of coming to IHOP “with the specific goal of infiltrating us and even taking over IHOPU.”

    The statement also did not speak to the status within IHOP of the other members of his group.

  • Charges: Micah Moore has been charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors have said that Tyler Deaton and other members of his group remain under investigation. IHOP or its officers are not under investigation.
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  • In a background article, the Kansas City Star writes that Tyler Deaton was a “religious force” on the Teas campus of Southwestern University, which is affiliated with the Methodist Church.

    Two things about Deaton stand out in the memory of one woman who often found herself debating him in Bible study.

    “Everything had to go his way,” Christy Little said. “One time he said there would be no discussion until everyone agreed that the King James version was the only true version of the Bible. Well, I was Catholic so I had a problem with that. So we argued and of course Tyler won everybody over because that’s what he did.” [NOTE: King James Onlyism is at best an aberrant teaching that amounts to worshipping one particular translation of the Bible is the only one that is correct. No legitimate church or Christian teaches it — RNB]

    When the sanctioned campus organizations fell short of what Deaton wanted, he started his own group, students said — one that was not an official campus group, Southwestern officials said last week.

    His group prayed longer. Sang stronger. And held its members to stricter interpretations of the Bible.

    They used the campus chapel at all hours — before the university decided to bar them from it — so they were easily discovered by students wandering across the campus. […]

    “He believed God could fix things,” a student said.

    That included, Deaton told people, fixing himself.

    One of his group’s stark positions on Scripture was that homosexuality was wrong. Deaton’s stance against it weighed heavily because members said he had “struggled with being gay.”

    “He struggled with it, but he overcame it,” a member of his group at Southwestern said. “It was a victory.” […]

    By his senior year at Southwestern, 2008-2009, Deaton had had enough of the sanctioned campus organizations.

    He told his members who still associated with the other groups that it was time to make a choice. […]

    At some point, the university administration decided Deaton’s group should not use the chapel anymore. That was fine with Deaton, the member said, because he didn’t want his to be a campus group.

    By then, he and many of its members were already setting their sights on Kansas City. […]

    Southwestern students who had moved between Deaton’s group and the sanctioned organizations described a tug of war, trying to pull some of their friends back from Deaton.

    The sanctioned men’s religious fraternity in particular lost many of its members, one of them said.

    “I asked, ‘Why are we so small? Why is there not a Christian unity? Why are we not getting along?’?” he said. “The answer was it was because of Tyler.”

    Some of the staff at Southwestern grew uneasy with Deaton’s group and the pipeline it was laying to Kansas City.

    One staff member remembered particularly wishing that Bethany wouldn’t join the exodus.

    “I was terribly worried,” the staff member said.

  • Read more: Secrets of Tyler Deaton’s prayer group emerge
    Bethany Deaton cult murder parallels crime novel

Note: this is the kind of situation that certain opportunistic cult watchers will try to insert themselves in to. If you need professional help, How to Select a Cult Expert helps you avoid the loose canons and find qualified, ethical professionals and lay experts.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday November 18, 2012.
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