Recent developments, the news is reporting, are raising concerns for the wellbeing of Melody Bannister’s children, whom she abducted in June of 2019. (In my previous blog s US MARSHALS issue warrant for MELODY BANNISTER’S Arrest I posted links to her writings and various news reports, for those interested in the backstory).
What are those recent developments?
The only obvious new development is that Melody Bannister started blogging and sharing publicly of the vile sexual abuse allegations against the children’s father, grandfather and other men in the community. How sharing their allegations publicly puts the children at risk is beyond me. I would think with public accountability comes greater safety.
That’s all I could find that ‘due to recent developments’ could have put the children in danger.
But… then LIVE PD WANTED interviewed the detective on the case…
When questioned about this risk to the children (Video), Detective James Wright said, (transcribed verbatim): “We believe they’re in danger because they’re… they be..uh.. be.. belong to a religious organization that … ah… in it’s clandestine nature we just don’t have a whole lot of information on.. and… we’re concerned about the welfare because they’re unable to take care of themselves.. they don’t have any means to take care of them… Melody doesn’t have any means to take care of them…”
How does this have anything to do with risk to the children? Let alone new risk? Firstly, that is not a recent development. Melody Bannister left the cult she was part of when she married Mr. Bannister. More on that later…
Det. Wright goes on to say that Melody Bannister, herself, calls the group a cult…. (Read her comments here… she is referring to one of the alleged abusers in her comment about a cult; Charles Simpson). He also states they don’t have the means to care for themselves. While true, other people DO have the means and ARE taking care of them. (Since I started blogging, without asking for help, people have been reaching out to me to offer what they can!)
I’ve heard from several individuals who have known Melody Bannister a long time. They have filled in some of the following gaps for me.
Charles Simpson, one of the founders of the Shepherding Movement cult became the “spiritual father” to a man named Jim McNally and often had McNally participate in his Charles Simpson Ministries conferences.
The confusion comes from this…. Mrs. Bannister was part of a cult called VISION FORUM BUT she left that cult when she married Mr. Bannister at age 19! (This movement folded after its founder, Doug Phillips was accused in 2013 of sexual activity with his children’s nanny.)
Melody and Mr. Bannister were then part of the religious cult, Harvest Christian Fellowship (HCF), which was founded by Jim McNally. This church allegedly promoted unquestioned church leader authority, unquestioned male dominance and corresponding female submission, even to the point of wife spanking. As Jim McNally traveled all over the world, allegedly preaching his doctrine of “fatherhood,” Harvest Christian Fellowship branched out into Harvest International Ministries. It was in this cult that the Senior Bannister raised Bill and his other children. And it is into this cult that Melody Bannister entered upon marrying Bill.
(Interesting rabbit trail… that Ephrata-based Charity-type church I mentioned in my previous blog, where they made a paddle with holes to spank children without leaving marks… There was allegedly wife spanking among them too, and an infestation of child sexual abuse. And they also promoted unquestioned male dominance. What is with these cults?! See a pattern?)
However, Harvest dissolved in January of 2015 when McNally, his health deteriorating, moved with his wife to Florida to be near their son. He died November 2015. It was only after this movement folded that the Bannister family began visiting other churches.
Only then did Melody begin to see and experience what normal life is like outside the cult. Her whole life until 2015 was entangled with cults. Now that she is finally free from all cults, suddenly, when she begins speaking out, her children are in danger because of a religious group that is ‘clandestine in nature?
Vision Forum, for context, is the same cult with which the Duggar family were entangled. The cult that taught the Duggars to blame victims, in their case, the daughters, for the abuse. (Most of us remember the Josh Duggar scandal. And to the “you can’t bring it up, he was sorry” crowd: save it. The Bible is full of forbidden, forgiven stories). Even Michael Pearl — whose teachings I abhor for their abusive and ‘perverted form of patriarchy’ tone, and training gullible parents to be abusive parents — allegedly has spoken out against the extremist patriarchal approach of Vision Forum. And if I’m endorsing something Michael Pearl said, those who know me (and know my opinion of his parenting teachings) will know that only one thing could motivate me to do so; the belief that (in this case) he is speaking truth. In this case, he has some a few good things to say. … and then… some not so good. So this is no endorsement of him or his teachings.
Google them and do some reading. Interesting stuff. And if Melody was involved with them, I’d be tripping over myself to help Det. Wright and the US Marshals find them.
HCF cults… they seem to have been truly obscure. If anyone has info on them, please send it to me. I’m trying to research them, but the bulk of info will likely need to come from those once involved. The bit I know is the teachings on Fatherhood… Father MUST be listened to and obeyed without question. Always. And the ‘Father’ position, as I understand, extends to the leader (ie; Jim McNally) who must also be obeyed without question. Therefore, if church leaders tell you to “beat the devil out of the children” (which members were allegedly told), then that is what you must do. They were required to beat their children.
This, again, is not something Melody is part of. It is something she married into when she married Bill. It is what they left in 2015.
IF THE CULT CONNECTIONS really was/is the cause for concern, why were things silent from June until now? Why was the law not frantically trying to find Mrs. Bannister and the children, and notifying media all along? Why, immediately after Bannister publicizes the horrendous allegations, is a group to which she is no longer connected cause for concern?
Especially since she IS NOT part of any cult, and has not been since 2015.
I would be interested in hearing more from Det. Wright regarding cults and the Bannister’s involvement, and why this is a concern now that they are finally out.
Mrs. Bannister is KEEPING HER CHILDREN SAFE FROM THE ALLEGED ABUSERS.
SHE IS FLEEING FROM the group she referred to as a cult (or the ‘clandestine group’), IT WAS ONE OF THE ALLEGED ABUSERS, CHARLES SIMPSON, SHE CALLS A CULT LEADER… She is fleeing from the accused men and the law BECAUSE SHE BELIEVES HER CHILDREN HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN APPROPRIATE CARE OR VOICE. (No forensic interviews done by Stafford VA police in spite of horrendous allegations! Read about that in her blog by clicking this link.) And Mr. Bannister IS part of whatever ‘clandestine group’ the alleged abusers have formed…. if they are actually a group.
I continue to state that I do not know if the allegations are all true, or some, but I am 100% confident that SOMETHING is very wrong. What would make children so desperate that they would make such allegations and maintain the story while police investigate them? There are two things that I can think of:
- They experienced every bit of the horror they allege to have experienced
– or –
- They experienced other horror to make them speak agains their dad… horror that deserves deep investigation
The latter is problematic because it would require four children maintaining accurate testimony about a lie, without contradicting itself and/or each other. One child lying and keeping the story straight is hard. Any more than one? Not gonna happen.
What I wouldn’t give to sit with these four children and have a conversation with them! I have a list of questions… But that’s not my place any more than declaring that the allegations are all true.
In any case, if it the children reneged their testimony, and there was evidence it was all the work of their mom, heaven knows I’d be tripping over myself to bring truth to light.
My questions remain unanswered. What was so very wrong in their lives and household that children bring forward such allegations? And, if Det. Wright and the CPS worker are right, and the allegations are their ‘imagination’, then how did these children manage to all lie convincingly enough to dupe “two of the most prestigious forensic psychiatrists in the country: Dr. Michael Stone and Dr. Carole Lieberman“? And why was their professional testimony not considered when it was brought forward?
Last, but not least, let’s assume Mrs. Bannister did in fact have some mental health issues… That wouldn’t answer the above questions as to how children could keep their stories straight. And unless a parent is a threat to their child, since when do we take children away from parents who have mental illness based on that assumption? (I say ‘assumption because in this case Dr. Stone and Dr. Lieberman have refuted it).
Regardless what is true in this case, it goes without saying that these children need help. Mrs. Bannister needs help. And Mr. Bannister needs help. By the time a man calls his wife insane and manages to convince a judge to such an extent that the testimony of forensic psychiatrists means nothing, there is already something badly wrong.
And I stand firm on that. There is something badly, badly wrong for kids to make these allegations against their father and grandfather and maintain those allegations after it has cost them this much. And when two forensic psychiatrists determine they are not lying.
The way this is being handled by professionals in Virginia raises many unanswered questions.
Those questions deserve to be addressed.
For the sake of the children.
NOTE: To the best of my ability I have collected information that is true and accurate. If you know me at all, you know I love truth. And you also know I apologize freely and publicly when I get it wrong.
The urgency in this case requires the conversation to continue, which creates higher risk of error. I am doing my utmost to avoid that.
Again, please sign the petition. Since it began a few days ago, we are at almost 30,000! Keep the momentum going. Keep sharing even if you’ve signed. Let America know that the children’s well being is of #1 priority. And then, for a little ‘feel good’, sit with the tab open and watch the numbers rise. It’s so satisfying.
And for easy access to the backstory and Melody’s blogs, other news reports etc, I’ve included them them in my previous blog.
Be careful not to despise — disregard or think little of; not give proper value to — these little children. I’m telling you… their angels in heaven are always before the face of my Father in heaven. ~ JESUS ~ (Matthew 18:10)
The children are safe.
© Trudy Metzger 2019