‘House of Lies’ is a story about a 29-year old woman who tries to save her sister from a Kansas City cult group called P3, led by Maxwell Sagan. The book probably wouldn’t have drawn as much media attention were it not for the likeness between the circumstances surrounding IHOP member, Bethany Deaton’s death, and what happens to cult members in the story.
A Fictional Political Cult Suspense
A strange message sets Skylar Wilson on a perilous journey to rescue her sister from a deadly cult. Searching for answers, Skylar discovers that the cult stretches far beyond its pseudo-evangelical veil, penetrating the upper echelon of the United States government and pushing a lethal international agenda. To expose the truth, Skylar must first unravel the lies, each one leading her down a trail filled with dangerous scandals and mysterious deaths. For this nightmare to end, Skylar will have to go back to where it all began.
Piecing The Story Together
Could House of Lies hold the truth about IHOP and other current cult-type organizations? Claridge won’t say, but advises anyone who is considering joining these types of groups to “educate yourself before jumping in.”
IHOP is certainly no stranger to controversy and has come under fire since the ’80’s. Founder, Mike Bickle, admits that the entire operation has been built upon the prophetic visions of Bob Jones and Paul Cain, both of whom “have been discredited as dangerous false prophets.” Further scrutiny came with the Gruen Report and the secrecy surrounding Bickle’s Blueprint Prophesy, a document supposedly given to him by God, but has been altered three times to fit the ever-changing make-up of current Christianity. Investigative findings and testimonies from ex-IHOP members lend credence to the speculation that something dangerous is happening behind closed doors, though IHOP denies all claims against them and takes drastic measures to distance itself from controversial issues, such as the starvation death of baby Jeremiah Candler and the murder of Bethany Deaton. In both cases, IHOP stated the persons involved were not members, though evidence suggests otherwise.
Claridge’s blog gives insight into some of the groups she may have researched for House of Lies, leaders which include Jim Jones, David Koresh, Westboro Baptist Church, IHOP and many others; though the author remains vague in naming all of the groups and we’re guessing it’s because of the backlash.
Bickle currently leads the International House of Prayer. He told Charisma magazine in July, 1993:
1. We had an elite spirit. That’s become more and more real to me — it’s so repulsive.
2. We promoted mystical experience in a disproportionate way and it was disastrous.
3. We were careless in the way we communicated prophetic words. This was hurtful in a lot of cases.
4. We were wrong in the way we promoted the city church concept. I still believe in it, but now I believe it’s a unity based on friendship.
Had his confessions been a sign of repentance and a changing of his ways, this would have been a positive thing. Instead, Bickle and IHOP grew worse on all accounts.
Bethany Deaton’s Murder/Death Revisited
Members of these groups believe they have been hand-selected by God to pray in the Apocalypse, the Second Coming of Christ and become a raised up End-Times army. They are taught to expect opposition from those that are not chosen of God. The greater the opposition, the greater the proof they are on the ordained path.
“The dangers of this movement are many,” said former member Stephanie Belmont. “They teach exclusivity and elitism that damage familial relationships and have misguided, anti-Scriptural philosophies that lead to sexual misunderstanding and abuse.” Belmont also said that Tyler Deaton’s group was a welcomed part of IHOP and IHOPU and the fact that IHOP leaders are now lying to distance themselves is an abomination.
Based on false prophecies, the IHOP movement with its many off-shoots and branches appears to be a giant growing tree of life, but the fruit is deadly. Former member, Beth Cavete, blogged this: “To discern IHOPKC’s fruit, you need to track its impact. Not its entrants. Despite all their protests, Tyler and Bethany Deaton are IHOPKC’s fruit. After almost a decade of faithful ingestion of their teachings, Tyler’s blog was in its doctrinal skeleton, pure IHOPKC doctrine. The perverse “cult” was formed years after their whole-hearted jump into IHOPKC teaching, doctrines, and practices. THIS CANNOT BE IGNORED. The bright new faces are not IHOPKC’s fruit, the state of the faithful adherents over years are.”
Many Branches with Deadly Fruit
As the International House of Prayer [IHOP] works hard to cover its tracks and distance itself from Tyler Deaton and his group of so-called “misfits,” other houses of prayer make the headlines while scrambling to mask their relationship with Bickle’s mothership in Kansas City.
“To Close For Comfort”
Claridge wrote: “I will end this blog by asking you one question: Could it be that House of Lies offended you because deep down you know you are indeed dwelling in a house of lies? Could it be that it is just too close for comfort?”
Now, IHOP members are bringing it even more attention with their angry threats. In relation to receiving hate mail about the book, Claridge commented in a thread on her Facebook page: “It doesn’t hurt me anymore because I know they are speaking from a brainwashed view… but it saddens me.”
Accusations toward the book and the author from IHOP members have been outlandish and Claridge states on her blog that she finds them “humorously ironic.” One such complaint is that the book doesn’t show IHOP accurately. Any reader or mildly intelligent individual will tell you that there is neither accuracy nor inaccuracy in fiction. It is whatever the novelist wants it to be. However, IHOP members have gone as far as to post negative reviews on Amazon, stating the book shows that the author has a personal vendetta against IHOP.
Despite the fact that Claridge has stated in a Fox 4 news interview, on her Facebook page and in her blog that the book is not written about IHOP, IHOP members refuse to listen. “I studied five cult groups before writing this novel. IHOP was merely one of those five,” Claridge told Fox reporter, Gia Vang.
“They’d rather attack the author and place blame on her for their own insecurity about their cult group than face the truth,” said one ex-IHOP member.
Alan Hood of IHOP-U Denies Deaton Cult Connection
Immediately following Micah Moore’s confession to murdering Bethany Deaton, Alan Hood of IHOP-U (International House of Prayer University) made a statement denying that Tyler Deaton and the members of his group were an active part of IHOP.Hood said: “Mr. Deaton led his religious group entirely independently from IHOPU.” Following this statement, it became clear that Tyler Deaton was listed as a Division Coordinator of the IHOP “Friendship Groups.” Also, Tyler Deaton wrote on his blog that he was an active member of IHOP.“ I am student in Kansas City, MO at the International House of Prayer, in the second year of a 6-year preparation to overseas missions.” There is now more evidence to support the fact that Tyler and his group were indeed actively involved in IHOP.
What role does IHOP play in all of this? One ex-member says it is the distorted teachings of the Bridal Paradigm that adds a sensual undertone to the relationship of humanity and Christ, sending hormonal surges through the mass hypnotic worship sessions.Did this message pave the road to Bethany’s sexual assault? Several friends from the tight knit group say YES.
God Needs IHOPers (So Tyler Practiced In Apocalyptic Fashion) To Effect The Tribulation & Bring Christ Back To Earth – Mike Bickle
From the Rolling Stones article:
Bickle believes that unceasing, euphoric worship and song at IHOP and in prayer rooms across the globe, which should never close or be empty, will promote passionate intimacy with the Lord, revive the church and demolish demonic strongholds. And so IHOPers pray all day and night, through blizzards and blackouts, in hours-long sessions of mesmeric, musical worship, repeating the same phrases over and over, expecting to precipitate the Great Tribulation and the final battle between good and evil that precedes the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
This is IHOP’s most alluring tenet: God needs IHOPers to effect the Tribulation and bring Christ back to Earth. “The church causes the Great Tribulation,” Bickle has preached.
Moore’s initial confession made, not to detectives, but to leaders of IHOP -after ‘God inspired’ question – encouraging his confession to detectives
Eventually, Moore wrote, he was asked a “God” question by a “prophetic” IHOP leader and responded by saying that he had killed Bethany Deaton
Update published September 14, 2015
As mentioned in the editor’s note above, the case against Micah Moore was dismissed in October 2014, in light of new evidence that suggests overwhelmingly that Bethany Deaton committed suicide and that Moore and Deaton are innocent of any crime. (Moore himself has written about this experience.) Moore’s initial confession was made not to a detective but to leaders of IHOP. According to Moore, at a meeting convened by IHOP leaders to break up a “demonic” prayer group founded by Tyler Deaton, IHOP leaders told him that Deaton was using demons to control him and blamed Moore and the other group members for Bethany Deaton’s suicide. Moore wrote that he considered the IHOP leaders “exceptionally prophetic” and placed an “inordinate” amount of trust in them. He had a history of psychiatric problems, and several years earlier had suffered a psychotic break related to his fear of demonic possession.
The meeting lasted late into the night. People were praying in tongues, collapsing, crying; at one point, according to Moore, he was writhing in a chair and screaming as three men shouted at demons to leave him in the name of Jesus. IHOP leaders pointedly asked group members about their conduct prior to Bethany’s death. Moore became delusional. He said that he was supernaturally responsible for the illnesses of relatives; he said that he had used “spirit vision” to observe Tyler and Bethany Deaton on their honeymoon in Costa Rica; and he said that he had used witchcraft to induce Bethany’s suicide. Eventually, Moore wrote, he was asked a “God-inspired” question by a “prophetic” IHOP leader and responded by saying that he had killed Bethany Deaton. Two IHOP members and the IHOP leader accompanied Moore to the Grandview Police Department. According to Moore, the IHOP leader continued to question him in the booking room. Moore said he thought he might not be Micah Moore but Tyler Deaton. He said he was a serial killer and named a victim – someone the leader knew to be alive. Despite these delusions, the leader encouraged Moore to confess to detectives, which he did. Not long afterwards, while still in custody, he recanted. (“We were shocked when the [sheriff’s office] notified us that Micah Moore had been charged with murder,” IHOP’s president said in a public statement released the following day.)
Every verifiable statement Micah Moore made to detectives was proven false or contradicted by other evidence. For example, Moore provided a single detail from the alleged crime scene, and that detail was inaccurate: Bethany Deaton’s body was found in a van in a county park; Moore said she had died in the front seat of the van, but she was found in the third row. Moore said that he killed Bethany before 10 a.m., but transaction records show that Bethany used her debit card after 10 a.m., and surveillance video shows that she was not in the park until after 10 a.m. Meanwhile, attendance records show that Moore arrived at a class at 10 a.m. Moore claimed that others were present at the scene of Bethany’s death, including Boze Herrington (a major source for this story), but the subsequent investigation invalidated that claim. Moore claimed that he had drugged Bethany with Seroquel, but no Seroquel was found in her system. Moore claimed that he and his roommates sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton, but the medical examiner found no evidence of sexual assault and there is no evidence of it on Moore’s iPad, as he had claimed; detectives interviewed Moore’s roommates and found no reason to suspect them. A counselor Bethany was seeing observed nothing to indicate that she had been sexually assaulted, and Bethany’s journal and emails suggest that she was a virgin when she died. No one was ever charged with sexual assault.
According to the lead detective in the case, no evidence besides Moore’s confession indicates that a homicide – or any crime at all – ever occurred. Initial forensic examination of the van yielded nothing incriminating. The prosecution subsequently sent multiple items from the van to forensic experts at the FBI Laboratory, in Quantico, Va., for DNA analysis. Micah Moore’s DNA was not present anywhere. The prosecution also sent a suicide note found in the van to FBI handwriting analysts, who determined that it had been written by Bethany Deaton. Walmart video shows that she bought the Equate Acetaminophen PM that was found at the scene of her death.
Forensic and circumstantial evidence indicate that Bethany Deaton’s death was a suicide. She was not just depressed but suicidal in the weeks before her death. Bethany’s close friends openly worried that she might take her own life. One week before she died, her husband Tyler Deaton found her holding a cup of windshield wiper fluid, intending to drink it. Tyler took the cup away and called the police. To the responding officer, Bethany said, “It would be easier to die than to change.” She was taken into protective custody and hospitalized. In the hospital, she told doctors that because she was damned and could not attain salvation, she “needed to end her own life.” Two days later – and five days before her death – she was released.
Tyler Deaton argued against her release, insisting that she was still suicidal. In response, a nurse asked Bethany whether she might attempt suicide again. She answered, in part, “Well, it could come to that.” Despite that comment, and despite the fact that she refused medication, she was discharged.
Bethany Deaton was found with a plastic bag over her head; near her body were two bottles of Equate Acetaminophen PM. One bottle was empty. An overdose of sleeping pills followed by self-asphyxiation is a recognized method of suicide. After a physical examination and toxicological screen, the medical examiner determined the cause of Bethany’s death to be asphyxia and the manner of her death to be suicide. He reexamined the body after Micah Moore’s confession, and changed the manner of death to “undetermined,” but the cause remained “asphyxia,” and no evidence of homicide was ever discovered.
‘IHOP-KC played a role in helping Micah be charged for a crime he didn’t commit’ – less than transparent
After the tragic death of Bethany Deaton in the fall of 2012, details about the controlling cult-like community lead by Bethany’s husband Tyler Deaton began to emerge. Several days later, Micah Moore, a member of the community and friend of Tyler, was charged with murder in the first degree after he confessed to killing her. The members of this community were part of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOP-KC), many of whom were staff members and students at the International House of Prayer University (IHOPU). In a public statement, IHOP-KC said they were “committed to transparency as we discover more information related to Tyler Deaton.”
Since these events, an overwhelming mountain of evidence has emerged pointing to Micah Moore’s innocence. Chief among these is prior to Micah’s confession, only a few days after Bethany’s memorial service, leaders of the International House of Prayer, including Shelley Hundley, Allen and Rachel Hood, and a group known as “Prisoners of Hope” conducted an “exorcism” (they prefer to use the term “deliverance”). Tyler’s former community members were gathered together, informed they had demons, were interrogated about their sexuality, and subsequently subjected to hours of exorcism that multiple witnesses attest consisted of yelling, screaming, shouting in “tongues” (an unintelligble prayer language), and people shaking and falling on the floor.
According to a psychological evaluation, this experience, combined with the trauma of the previous weeks, pushed Micah Moore into a “reactive psychotic episode.” During this “reactive psychotic episode,” according to Moore, Shelley Hundley insisted “that [he] had something to confess, saying ‘You have something to tell me, don’t you, Micah?'” After this, Moore gave a confession that was filled with clearly irrational statements and many pieces of information purportedly about Bethany’s death and other supposed crimes that evidence proved demonstrably false. In the wee hours of the morning, Moore was driven to the police station by two IHOP leaders, Lenny LaGuardia and Kevin Hardy, to repeat his confession to the police. After sleeping for a few hours, Micah was questioned again and retracted everything he said, but was nevertheless charged.
In the ensuing months, IHOP-KC was less than transparent with the case, as a court motion was required to obtain evidence that showed Micah Moore in IHOP-KC’s prayer room on their own webstream video no less than 12 times the afternoon of Bethany’s death, and that he had signed into class at IHOPU that morning. Evidence began to mount that both Bethany had very likely committed suicide (including video surveillance of Bethany buying the bottle of sleeping pills and FBI handwriting analysis that confirmed she had written the suicide note) and that Micah Moore had not committed any crime.
It appears that IHOP-KC played a role in helping Micah be charged for a crime he didn’t commit, were not forthright with relevant evidence, attempted to block investigators from speaking to witnesses, and did not help exonerate Micah even as evidence mounted.
We believe that while many of IHOP-KC’s actions were not illegal per se, they lacked the honesty and integrity that should be expected of a large, public, religious organization with an international influence. We also believe that this behavior can potentially be seen as part of a larger leadership culture that avoids taking responsibility for its actions.
Furthermore, they caused considerable harm to Micah Moore and his family, who have had to live with false accusation for nearly two years.
Sensual/Erotic Spirituality Regardless Of Mike’s Downplay
One July day in 1988, Mike Bickle was sitting in his office, reading a wedding card inscribed with a verse from the Song of Solomon. “Jesus, seal my heart with your seal of love,” Bickle spontaneously prayed. Unaccountably, he began to weep. The phone rang. A prophet had heard the “audible voice of the Lord” for Bickle: The Song of Solomon, a dialogue between King Solomon and his beloved, should become a focus of Bickle’s ministry. It eventually came to Bickle that true believers must see Jesus “through the eyes of a bride with loyal, devoted love” – they must “feel loved and in love” with Christ. Without this intimacy in worship, Christ would not return to Earth.
But the Song of Solomon is a paean to sexual desire. “Let the king bring me into his chambers” and “kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” the beloved says. “His fruit” is “sweet to my taste.” IHOP’s website states that one of its prayer guides, Bridal Intercession, “presents prayer as the joyful and romantic communion between the lover and his beloved. . . . Readers will find themselves . . . eager to encounter this lovely Lord who is their bridegroom.”
Many critics, observing that IHOP recruits post-pubescent youth, have wondered where, if they are to approach their Lord as Solomon’s beloved approaches Solomon, their imaginations are supposed to go. “[Jesus] is not coming until the people of God are crying out globally in intercession with a bridal identity,” Bickle has preached. If the Second Coming depends upon “romantic communion” with Christ, and the alternative is satanic hegemony, then any error in worship should be made on the side of erotic intimacy – to lust and repent is surely better than abandoning Jesus in his hour of need.
Bickle makes a point of warning his followers that bridal theology is not sexual. To IHOP’s detractors, though, the introduction of any suggestion of sensuality into worship invites transgression. Aggravating the libidinal diciness, they argue, is the nature of that worship. IHOPers spend 20, 30 or more hours every week in the prayer room, often for three or four hours at a time.
Across the IHOP complex, in cafeterias, hallways and the prayer room, music composed to enhance the ecstatic experience is “omnipresent,” according to an ex-member. Among the lyrics to two popular songs: “God is a lover looking for a lover/So he fashioned me” and “Do you understand what you do to me? . . . How you ravish my heart with just one glance?” Some former IHOPers have talked of being addicted to it – they become nervous and irritable when they turn it off. Another IHOPer has written about addiction to the sedative atmosphere of the prayer room itself: “A common refrain around anxious, discouraged IHOPers is, ‘I just gotta get to the prayer room.’”
“Very quickly, there were sensual escapades with God,” a former intern says, meaning that some people’s private imaginings turned explicit after exposure to IHOP’s “bridegroom” Christ. She says that an instructor told her, “God is using his word to kiss you.” The intern heard stories of IHOPers fantasizing about having “orgies with Jesus” and “sex with God.”
Could House of Lies hold the truth about IHOP and other current cult-type organizations?
Could House of Lies hold the truth about IHOP and other current cult-type organizations? Claridge won’t say, but advises anyone who is considering joining these types of groups to “educate yourself before jumping in.”
Investigative findings and testimonies from ex-IHOP members lend credence to the speculation that something dangerous is happening behind closed doors, though IHOP denies all claims against them and takes drastic measures to distance itself from controversial issues, such as the starvation death of baby Jeremiah Candler and the murder of Bethany Deaton. In both cases, IHOP stated the persons involved were not members, though evidence suggests otherwise
House of Lies’ is a story about a 29-year old woman who tries to save her sister from a Kansas City cult group called P3, led by Maxwell Sagan. The book probably wouldn’t have drawn as much media attention were it not for the likeness between the circumstances surrounding IHOP member, Bethany Deaton’s death, and what happens to cult members in the story.