Friday, May 1, 2015

Financial Fleecing

Another aspect to finances in the COG/TFI was that each home was supposed to be completely self-supporting in addition to their required tithing. This wasn't so hard in the early days, when we were relatively unknown and people seemed more trusting of random strangers asking for donations on street corners.

As the years passed, however, TFI had to get more creative. "Flirty Fishing" opened up a new and bigger method of raising funds. We women were instructed to, in effect, give men sex, proselytize them, and receive in return a "donation for our work." This process, religious persuasion aside, can be called nothing if not prostitution - and it paid well.

Naturally, some women found this harder than others. I enjoyed the chance to go out and meet people, have a nice meal, dance, socialize. As for sex, I was completely inexperienced and self-conscious. Perhaps in a subconscious rejection of any mental association with prostitution or the dehumanization of the men I met, I could never refer to them as "fish" or "kings" as they were called in the publications and therefore by group members.

As awkward as this behavior was, the hardest part was dealing with my leaders in the Homes regarding the money brought in. During my early days of Flirty Fishing, I was publicly shamed by the leader for being the one in the Home that brought in the least money for a certain month. I was deeply mortified. 

A few years later, I felt so much pressure from another particularly avaricious leader that just the thought of coming back from a trip abroad where I had gone to meet one of my "friends" without a substantial amount of money filled me with such fear that I actually wrote the man a note after we had parted and left it at the hotel front desk for him. This, after his kindness and generosity to me, as well as his tolerance of my "witnessing." He had even given me money for shopping which I used to buy the items on the list given me by my leaders. (Far be it from me to buy anything for myself.) Gentleman that he was, he found me and gave me more money. That was the last time I ever heard from him.

My fear of facing the leader with whom I lived was greater than the fear of offending my friend. The leader won, and I lost a friend.

For about 8 years I had a another dear friend who was a lawyer. He was very generous in his care for me and his gifts to the group. Among other kindnesses, he would take me grocery shopping for our big Home each week. If, perchance, we bumped into that greedy leader in the store, my friend would offer to pay for his shopping, too. Whereby Mr. Greedy would pick up all kinds of expensive items he normally wouldn't buy as we made our way to the cashier. Yes, that annoyed me, but I was in no position to correct my "elder in the Lord."

Misplaced loyalty, indeed.

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