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Prophet's daughter is writing a book about CUT

Bozeman Chronicle/March 16, 1998
By Scott McMillion


Erin Prophet is writing a book.

It's not a kiss and tell book and it's not an expose. It's about her and it's about her mother, Elizabeth Clare Prophet. And it's about other church members, those who left and those who stayed.

''Who are they, why did they come to Montana,'' will be a major theme of the book, she said.

And it will look at the Church Universal and Triumphant and its complicated theology.

''Is it a bomb shelter cult or is it a religion,'' is one question she will explore.

She said she doesn't have the answer, though she's in a unique position to try to find it.

She's been out of the church for five years but she was at its core for the 27 years of her life before that. She was born into it, became a minister and a board member shortly after she turned 21, and trained for years at her mother's side to become a messenger, a mouthpiece for divinity.

''It's not an expose but it will probably reveal things that haven't been revealed before,'' she said. ''I would call it a sympathetic but honest history of the church.''

As a child in the early 1970s, she traveled with the church to camps in Northern Idaho and Colorado, the first time the apocalypse didn't happen.

She served as the church's official media spokesman for a time during the ''shelter cycle'' of 1989 and 1990, a job later taken by Murray Steinman, who is still with the church but has moved on to other duties.

She said Ed Francis, church business manager and her former stepfather, often disapproved of the way she did that job.

''I didn't always do as I was told,'' she said.

On March 15, 1990, when thousands of church members entered the shelters for an overnight ''drill,'' she was pregnant with her second son and pondering a life without civilization. Astrology, messages from heaven and her own mother had all told her to be prepared for the end of the world as we know it.

In the shelter she had stored clothing through size 10 for her two sons, one of them still unborn. Printing presses, ink, paper and decades worth of school supplies were in the shelter. There was a surgical unit, tons and tons of food.

''This was preparation to live without civilization,'' she recalled. ''It was highly intelligent people wracking their brains to think of everything they could need for the rest of their lives.''

People maxed out credit cards and mortgaged their homes to pay for the supplies. And there were illegal weapons purchases by Francis, and others, although ''they kept all that stuff even from me,'' she said.

The book will give both church members and the general public food for thought, she said.

''It's something that needs to be understood,'' she said. ''The church needs to admit it went overboard on encouraging people to prepare for disaster. There was and still is a lot of anger and disillusionment over the fact that they went overboard.''

''And the public needs to know that people in the church were intelligent, well meaning, idealistic people who believed they found a better way of life,'' she added.

She said she believes her mother has a ''spiritual gift'' but that she may have overused it. Elizabeth Prophet and her former husband, church co founder Mark Prophet, where ''chosen'' as messengers by the Ascended Masters, Elizabeth Prophet has said.

But messengers can also be trained.

Erin Prophet said she studied for seven or eight years to become a messenger, a process that involves lengthy meditation, prayer and ''putting aside your rational mind.''

She began the process when she was 19 years old.

''I broke it off. I decided I had a problem with the concept of what a messenger is. I saw too much room for abuse in the whole concept of messenger.''

She said she was uncomfortable with the prospect of giving people advice from the heavens on subjects such as whether to marry or have children, on what they should study in school. She also didn't like the way ''people were giving too much of their individuality'' to her mother.

''In many cases, it turned out to be a detrimental thing for those people,'' she said.

People would suspend their own judgment in favor of the messenger's, she said, and that wasn't right.

''It becomes almost like fortune telling or something instead of a high spiritual message,'' she said.

She said she no longer accepts the Ascended Masters as ''objective reality'' although she occasionally decrees.

After she left the church in 1993, she wrote for a business publication in Denver for a while before returning to Montana. She also wrote a book about reincarnation and Christianity for the church. Although it bears her mother's name as main author, Erin said she did 90 percent of the work.

Since leaving the church she has divorced, married a local man, and lives quietly in Livingston.

When her sister, Moira, announced that she was writing an expose about the church, it alarmed people, who decreed against Moira, co author Kathy Grizzard Schmook and their publisher.

Erin Prophet said she doesn't know how church members will react to her project, whether they will decree against her ''energy'' or not.

''I'm just going to write my book and not worry about it,'' she said.

She said she hopes to have the manuscript completed by summer of 1999.

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