The Year of Obedience
or The Shelter Cycle of Church Universal and Triumphant and The Last Days of Montessori International
Mark L. Prophet - The Man and the Myth
Part 1 - by Peter Arnone - March, 1999
This narrative is a portrait of a cult founder and leader. Church Universal and Triumphant has been a destructive cult since its inception. Founded by Mark L. Prophet in 1958 by its original name the Summit Lighthouse, this pseudo-church has been responsible for bringing turmoil, confusion, and sorrow into the lives of countless devoted members for over forty years. It has undermined marriages, broken families, and so disaffected young people, it has turned them away from God. The questions must be answered why Mark Prophet pursued his self-serving dictatorial role, and how he was able to establish his dictatorship. What was the formula for this religious charlatan's success? What was his ultimate goal? And what policies, practices, and attitudes that he set in motion survive in C.U.T. to the present?Peter Arnone
When I resigned from Church Universal and Triumphant in December 1992 (after 22 years membership) I was still, or so I thought, on friendly terms with Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the widow of Mark (two husbands removed) and present head of C.U.T. I had forgotten her "Ascended Masters" would not allow her to have a meaningful relationship with anyone other than one of her chelas (disciples). Roughly a year later, I heard that Tatiana Prophet was writing a book on her father, Mark. Though I wasn't approached as others were for input, I seriously thought of writing my own glowing account, and passing it on to Tania anyway. My emergence from the fog of C.U.T. had not yet accelerated.
Not too long ago, I saw the early 60's movie, The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra (Major Ben Marco) and Laurence Harvey (Cpl. Raymond Shaw). Marco and his company are captured during the Korean War. They are brought to Manchuria where Soviet and other communist agents "condition" the Americans. When they are returned to Korea and released, they remember nothing. Only that Raymond Shaw heroically saved all but two of the company (he killed them), for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
After the war, the men return home. They all have the same recurring Manchurian nightmare, which initiates a military investigation. Word for word, every man has the same description of Cpl. Shaw. "Raymond Shaw is the bravest, kindest, most wonderful person I have ever known." Raymond, coincidentally, was also the best friend of every man in the company. Soon, Major Marco emerges from the fog. He recalls that Raymond Shaw was a complete jerk. And that was the opinion held by everyone in the company, until they were held captive. A psychological smoke screen had been embedded in the men's minds to divert suspicion. For Raymond Shaw had been programmed to be an assassin for the communists.
Even though it was fiction, The Manchurian Candidate reminded me of Mark L. Prophet, the man and the myth. Before I joined the Summit Lighthouse, I would have thought Mark Prophet to be an ass. Most people would have thought the same. Today, having emerged from the fog, there is no doubt in my mind, Mark Prophet was a complete ass. But in between, all the years I was a true believer in the Summit Lighthouse/Church Universal and Triumphant, Mark Prophet was larger than life.
Around 1986, thirteen years after Mark died, I was working with a newer staff member. He had been through C.U.T.'s Summit University and wanted me to tell him "Mark" stories. I chuckled. No problem. I proceeded to tell him all the great things about the great man, typically stretching and exaggerating everything to the best of my ability to make Mark look good. That's the way it was. You wouldn't think, or dare tell, of the darker, bizarre side of Mark Prophet.
Before he died, Mark was a legend (in his own mind). On no uncertain terms, this was impressed upon his staff. But his deification did not begin until the day he passed away in February 1973. That was the day, according to Elizabeth, he gloriously "ascended" into heaven for all eternity. He would now be known as the Ascended Master Lanello. After his cremation, we were told his remains were "sacred ash." The staff eulogized him for hours. But I had to laugh and shake my head when I recently read a part of the Randall King Story. Though Elizabeth "did not have sexual relations with that man, Mr. King" before Mark passed away, she told us right after he died he was "enough man for 25 women." I guess Mark was too much for Elizabeth. Mark was too much for a lot of people.
To know the real Mark Prophet, you have to go back to the beginning. You need to find the pieces to the puzzle. And though you can't find them all, there are enough to see the picture. You start with PURELY FOR PROPHET, the well-researched Kathy Schmook manuscript. You add the personal experiences of John Pietrangelo in LAMBS TO SLAUGHTER, and Randy Kosp King in THE RANDALL KING STORY. And I'll add my own experience.
Bear in mind, Mark Prophet took it upon himself to start his own spiritual organization, the Summit Lighthouse, in 1958 at age 40. One must ask why he did it and what led him to do it. Before he died, Mark had evolved the story that when he was a young man the Ascended Master El Morya appeared to him while he was in mid-swing of driving a railroad spike. Calling him to be his disciple and messenger (for God), Mark turned him down. It wasn't until later in his life the "master" reappeared and Mark took him up on his proposition. But Mark carelessly entrusted to Ed K., an early member and friend, the story of the railroad spike was not true. It was merely a tale to draw people's attention and impress them at the same time. Coincidentally, Mark's decision to become a professional messenger for God came when he had exhausted, and failed at, every other means of employment he had pursued. He couldn't hold down a job. He was hounded by creditors. There was a time when he was pressured to even change his name.
Mark had other stories up his sleeve. While he vowed that "phenomena" had no place in the Ascended Masters' Summit Lighthouse, he wasn't afraid to tell the story over and again how the Summit in its early days was in serious financial trouble. But one day he opened his wallet, after complaining to Master Morya, and found several hundred dollar bills appear from nowhere. Mark said he knew they were from Morya. He could tell by the "twinkle" in his eye. Mark also liked to tell the story how he and members on a European pilgrimage in the late 60's were forced to drive through a wall. Miraculously, they did it with no damage to the vehicle or themselves. With a little push from Mark, Annice Booth would vouch for this. But today, I'm not so sure. The story has been buried for a long time.
By 1971 Mark stated the multitudes would be "practicing "Summitry" for a thousand years." The early-on ambition of Mark required something equally bombastic as this prognostication. To secure the trust and faith of his early followers, all of whom believed in reincarnation, Mark confided in them his past embodiments and the wealth of their (his) accomplishments. Sometimes with bravado, sometimes with humble heart, Mark revealed who he had been to support who he now was. He was a great actor. And he impressed upon those whose ears he could bend, the ability and virtue his soul demonstrated in those past lives over many centuries, had accrued unto their present incarnation, Mark L. Prophet. This, he explained, qualified him for the office of God's prophet and messenger. And for whose benefit? For those who were blessed, and of high enough attainment themselves, to be magnetized to, and be a part of Mark's high and holy "mission."
Among the many illustrious incarnations Mark Prophet attributed to himself were Akhnaton the Egyptian pharaoh, Origen of Alexandria, Saladin, Lot, Gideon, and Uriah the Hittite of the Old Testament, St. Mark the evangelist, St. Bonaventure, Marco Polo, Lancelot, King Clovis and King Louis XIV of France, Longfellow, Hiawatha, and the ill-fated son of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, the tsarevich Alexei. Mark explained how the momentum of the collective genius of all the aforementioned had earned him the right and privilege to become God's greatest servant among men. If you believed in Mark Prophet, with the possible exception of Jesus Christ, he was the greatest man that ever trod the face of the earth.
Mark claimed he was born with the "Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit." He had "Third-Eye Vision," which supposedly enabled him to read minds, read "auras," and read the "Akashic Records." This was God's file on the accounting of every single event that ever took place. Mark said it was like watching a movie. The event would unfold before his eyes with the actual persons, places, and things, and words spoken by the characters. But Mark Prophet was in fact, a born loser.
I lived under the same roof with Mark Prophet for over two years. We, the staff of the Summit Lighthouse, the Prophets and their children, were one big happy family. I talked with Mark on a daily basis. I worked in the mail room where he came regularly to check the day's income and his own correspondence. I was his personal home-base radio operator when he was on and off the property for a year and a half before his death. I knew where he was and basically what he was doing all the time. (Even when he went to porno movies on fact-finding missions "for the Brotherhood.") I was on all-night phone duty at the Summit for a year and a half before Mark's passing. It was not unusual for him to call me at any hour during the night for one thing or another. Occasionally, like other men on staff, I would be Mark's companion when his regular attendant, Gilbert, was taking a much needed break. I would be with him and go with him wherever he chose. Even to the bathroom.
The insecurity of Mark Prophet the man, begins with Mark Prophet the boy. As a child growing up in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Mark was a mama's boy. Unfortunately, his father passed away when he was nine years old. He was gawky and uncoordinated. He had malocclusion, such that his lower and upper teeth did not bite properly, giving him a somewhat simian appearance. He was taunted. He was the neighborhood nerd. And one can imagine he got his butt kicked more than once.
Mark was not inclined to do well academically. He never graduated from high school. He had no formal ministerial training either. But he was an extraordinary student of the Bible. And he was an avid reader of occult fantasies, and psychic and metaphysical literature. As a child and young man of the depression era, there was little else for him to do. Over several years he evolved his own religious concoction, plagiarized as it was. He found his niche where he was no longer the butt of jokes or physical abuse. While he wasn't a man's man, he was able to impress quite a few older ladies with his spiritual/religious prowess. These individuals formed the base of his later movement, the Summit Lighthouse, founded in 1958.
There was Ruth Farnam, and there was Mary Spelzhaus. There were others, but I knew these two, one of them very well. During the 1940's and 50's Mark practiced, and perfected, his impersonation of the Ascended Master El Morya in speech-like "dictations" and letters he wrote to his devotees called the Ashram Notes. Other Ascended Masters would follow. Ruth was a college graduate and headed an orphanage in Oklahoma. She was a widow struggling with two young sons. She was as sweet a lady as could be. Maybe too sweet. For Mark, and later Elizabeth, she was a pushover, and putty in their hands. Many a time she would be brought to tears under their harsh discipline. Mary, on the other hand, was a cagey cookie, until she had outlived her usefulness and was thrown out. She was a spinster, and a teacher. Mark revealed to her she was Walt Whitman in one of her past incarnations. What a feather in her cap. Mark had made a friend for life. Mary's present and assumed past achievement qualified her to write and coordinate much of the C.U.T. Keeper of the Flame lessons still in use today.
One by one, two by two, Mark's organization grew. The alluring mystique of the Summit Lighthouse was given birth. The chowder head from Chippewa Falls was making himself into a charismatic figure. Though the original members were vulnerable, having many unanswered questions in each one's spiritual journey, they were sincere and decent people. Mark had all the answers. He ingratiated them. He took full advantage of his knowledge, salesmanship, and growing power and intimidation to secure these people as the leaven for his movement. Their good qualities and character served Mark well. Their credibility gave Mark credibility. The presence of so many wonderful and articulate people whose backgrounds were of every race and religion was Utopian. Slowly but surely, the organization began to expand. But it was only the addition of the youthful, energetic, and self-assured Elizabeth in the early sixties that saved the ever-insecure Mark from fading into nonexistence. She attracted the youth. And the youth ignited the organization. But most importantly, she assuaged the mid-life crisis of her sugar daddy.
Favoritism and Punishment: Dishing out Past LivesOld enough to be her father, Mark was smitten with the sweet young thing, even such that both were already married. Elizabeth though, had more on her mind than serving her messenger. She would have to wait however, for a time and a half a time, for her rising ambition to be realized. Oddly enough, Mark continued to go up the mountain and carry back the word of God throughout their affair. This marked the first "dispensation" in the history of the Summit Lighthouse/Church Universal and Triumphant. From thence, for Messengers of the Great White Brotherhood and prophets of God, fornication was acceptable.
History was going to repeat itself in about another decade. But in the meantime, all the ladies and gentlemen of the Summit Lighthouse had no idea what was going on behind closed doors between Mark and Elizabeth in Washington, D.C. They had no idea the messenger, and messenger-in-waiting, were not the paragons of virtue they were led to believe. When their marriage was announced, there was no disputing the reunion of "twin flames." What God had joined together, through cosmic family planning, He had reunited. And let no man criticize, condemn, and judge, or attempt to put asunder.
Unlike Elizabeth, Mark was a product of the Great Depression. He knew the value of a dollar and held on to what he earned tenaciously: namely, his Summit Lighthouse organization and child bride. Anyone who threatened his success was not only his enemy, but became the enemy of God. To his followers, Mark, the Beloved Messenger of the Great White Brotherhood's Ascended Masters, was their one and only link between God and man. He let this be known on no uncertain terms. At the onset, fear and intimidation were tools of the trade for Mark L. Prophet. Guilt would be added to the messenger's arsenal.
The Summit Lighthouse began as an ego-driven organization. Past incarnations of the rich and famous, the high and mighty, and the holiest of holy, were awarded those with the financial wherewithal and ability Mark desperately needed to jump start his organization and keep his ship afloat. The cream of the cream, however, were reserved for Mark and Elizabeth, and their children. Men and women within the Summit were bestowed knighthood for their support above and beyond the call of duty to El Morya (King Arthur) and Saint Germain (Merlin the Magician). And of course Mark (Lancelot) and Elizabeth (Guinevere). While Mark arrived a few centuries too late to traffic in the sale of indulgences, he was able to capitalize on a gimmick that was the brainstorm of his predecessors, Guy and Edna Ballard and their egregious I AM Activity: "the ascension chair." Mark's followers would sit in a special seat which was nothing more than a nice chair. He would read the karmic record of their auras, weigh them in the balance, and pronounce how close they were to eternal salvation. You could take a wild guess who were the closest. They were Mark's best supporters. But woe unto those who became the enemies of Mark. Even if you were a member of the Summit Lighthouse, if you rubbed Mark the wrong way you could end up as one of the great villains of history. Among others, such was the case for two couples who, according to Mark, were the infamous Jezebel and Ahab, and Ananias and Sapphira of the Bible. The Pinocchio Syndrome was in high gear.
Once the Summit Lighthouse was underway, the conferring of prominent past incarnations diminished, knighting ceremonies became a rarity, and the ascension chair was abolished. Mark's phenomenal stories gleaned from his occult studies were no longer necessary to attract members, but were in fact becoming counterproductive. You no longer heard how black Africans were a sub-human evolution. Their money was as green as everyone else's. The sub-human "Mole People" who lived beneath the surface of the earth were rarely discussed as members were becoming too sophisticated for such stories. Likewise, entering the inner cavity of the earth through large portals at the North and South Poles. Mark dispensed with his assertion the sun was really only a few million miles from the earth. And the "Rumford Coil Effect," whereby one person would infect another's behavior merely by being within proximity of their "auric-forcefield" also fell along the way.
Mark's unique claim was that he was not a psychic channel. He despised those frauds and false prophets on no uncertain terms. He was a pure instrument of God receiving God's messages for God's children the same as God's prophets had for all time: via the Ascended Masters. Mark claimed to be the latest in the unbroken lineage of God's messengers.
Mark explained there were three methods that God delivered His words to him by way of the Masters through their dictations:
#1 - Words of living fire, spiritual words that only Mark could see, passed before his eyes like a ticker tape. He simply read the Ascended Master's message that passed before him.
#2 - "Ex cathedra." The Ascended Master would take control of Mark's tongue and vocal chords to deliver the message. Mark told what an awesome feeling it was to have the master flapping his jaw during the process while he just stood there and listened.
#3 - There must be absolute silence. (It also had to be quiet for #1 and #2. Apparently Mark never knew the exact method the dictation would be delivered until it started.) Mark's hearing would be physically amplified by the Ascended Master in order for him to hear the Master speaking out of the "Great Silence." Mark would repeat the words of the Master to the gathering. Mark told how disconcerting any noise was. He said that if a pin dropped it sounded like a stomping elephant. Mark never explained how his own voice neither overpowered the Master's nor shattered his eardrums.
We were told that El Morya and Saint Germain walked the halls of La Tourelle regularly. This was the name given by Mark to the magnificent mansion that housed the Summit Lighthouse international headquarters. It was for the tower that graced its frontside. Every now and then Mark would be talking to staff in the kitchen and interrupt the conversation stating the "Master" wanted to say something. Somehow, it didn't make sense. How did he carry on informal conversations with the Master in the kitchen and pass the message on to us? There were no words of living fire, no flapping of his jaw, and Mark wasn't grimacing in pain because of the noisy dishwasher. Go figure.
The Ascended Masters would appear to Mark regularly. After the February 1971 Sylmar earthquake, Mark came storming into the mail room announcing what we already knew. He said the "Maha Chohan" had appeared to him that morning telling him the earthquake was going to happen. But we staff weren't allowed to know about it until afterwards. We weren't allowed to decree and stave off the catastrophe in Los Angeles where we had many Summit members. It was their karma.
One evening, Mark broke into a service to announce the ascension of Mama Ballard, leader of the I AM Activity. He said she had just appeared to him in an upstairs hallway. Coincidentally, word had just leaked to the Summit through normal channels that Mama had died. While Mama never approved of Mark in life, in death she gave him her blessing. While Saint Germain was speaking from on high to both, he could never convince Mama that Mark was the real McCoy. Anyway, Mama now apologized and wished Mark the best since he and Elizabeth were presently the only living authorized messengers of an Ascended Master activity.
Mark Prophet was the Bishop of the Summit Lighthouse. In Colorado Springs he once spoke at the Unitarian church. He also associated a bit with Billy James Hargis, a Baptist minister who headed the Christian Crusade in Oklahoma City. It wasn't for Hargis' religious views that he did so, but his political ideology. One of the Summit Lighthouse group leaders even included a Unity minister. Mark was not interested in ecumenism. Mark's non-Summit religious connections were solely to give advantage to himself and the Summit. All other religions and their leaders were not held in high regard by Mark. They were his adversaries. Coarse references were made to Bishop Pike, Krishnamurti, Swami Rama, the Mormon Church, Judaism, Catholicism, and organized religion in general. Mark never held your religious background against you, though. Once you were a member of his flock, all was forgiven.
Though Mark was a large man, he was awkward. He could have been pummeled by a much smaller person. His primary weapon, as well as defense, was his voice. He could thunder and roar. On numerous occasions he intimidated staff into submission with his booming tirades. But this was only after he knew they were defenseless. It was only after Mark knew they believed he was the messenger of God and feared him. Otherwise, they would have walked out, kicked his butt, or both.
In the real world, Mark Prophet would never have gotten away with his verbal abusiveness. However, this was not limited to tongue-lashing. For those he knew he could get away with it, Mark could be physically violent. But before I get ahead of myself, let me go back to my own beginning. Let me tell some "Mark" stories.
It was January 3rd, 1971. The Summit Lighthouse New Year's conference in Colorado Springs had ended the night before. This morning I would be interviewed by Mark Prophet regarding my request to join the Summit staff. I sat before him in his office with two friends from upstate New York who also wanted to join, Jack and Ron. We were in our early twenties. Each of us had left college to join staff. We were all accepted, on condition. Each of us had to promise Mark we would never write a book on the Summit Lighthouse. Wherever he was coming from, none of us knew. But it seemed like a reasonable request, so we all agreed.
Ron had to return to New York to wrap up some personal matters. He would be back in a couple of weeks. Jack and I stayed, and were immediately ushered into a staff meeting conducted by Mark. Elizabeth was there also. All I can remember of that meeting was Elizabeth warning the entire staff that to leave, to abandon this great opportunity afforded our souls, would result in 10,000 years of karma. Wherever she was coming from, I had no idea. But only for the time being.
Mark was the lord and master of the manor. He prowled the halls of La Tourelle. We were about 40 staff members at that time, working in different departments throughout the complex. Most of us lived and slept in the buildings also. When Mark came by you were immediately at attention. You never knew when he was peering into your aura or reading your mind. You never knew when he would call you on some shortcoming. And you never knew, day and night, when he might show up. Soon, you entered a perpetual state of preparedness. You were always on guard. To the best of your ability you were always on your best behavior. You were always concerned the messenger of God might call you on the carpet. Mark called staff members on the carpet all the time, in front of whoever was present, or in staff meetings. You were relieved when it wasn't you.
It became apparent that staff members were always a little nervous in the presence of Mark. It was a game for him to read your body language and probe. Occasionally he would strike paydirt. When he discovered something out of the ordinary it was testimony to his powers of vision. And he, and Elizabeth, would let everybody know about it.
Mark would not only castigate staff members in front of others, he would also do it behind their backs. He never forgot. After you were reprimanded he would be friendly to your face. But when you were away, even days or weeks later, he would still be harping on how rebellious you were. The message was clear. You certainly didn't want him talking about you that way behind your back. So you had better be extra careful, and extra good in everything you did. In fact, it must be good enough to merit the approval of Mark and Elizabeth. Since it took Saint Germain two million "right decisions" to earn his ascension, you had better not waste any opportunity. You felt pretty puffed up when the messenger confided in you what a jerk some other person was. You must be special.
If Mark Prophet was the disciple of any master, it was Machiavelli. Divide and conquer, pitting one against another in the most subtle way, and under the guise of religion, was Mark's specialty. As long as he remained the king of the mountain, as long as he got his way and what he wanted, even revenge, it didn't make any difference who became a casualty. Over many years, this tact was honed to a fine art by his wife Elizabeth.
There were three small dining rooms where the staff ate at La Tourelle: the main kitchen, the angel dining room, and the violet dining room where the messengers and their family always ate. After a few weeks that I was on staff, Mark issued an edict that staff were no longer welcome in the violet dining room because they had been disrespectful in not showing up to eat with the messengers. It was no wonder. To eat with Mark was always to experience indigestion. He was always turned on. You could never relax in his presence. It was by no accident that Gilbert became Mark's full-time companion. He was an extremely mellow and likable fellow. I think his influence saved Mark from going off the deep end on a number of occasions. And saved the rest of us from going nuts.
The Staff Meetings
Mark conducted staff meetings every Monday morning. In addition, there were staff meetings that could be called at any time for any reason. La Tourelle, the "Citadel of Freedom" as Mark called it, could be under attack from spiritual forces of darkness, or someone might have forgotten to replace a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom Mark happened to be using. Five buzzes sounding off on every phone in the complex at the same time most often signaled an emergency of one sort or another. Everyone was called to attention. Half the time they announced another staff meeting. Looking back on those meetings, they were Mark's critique on everything imaginable. Mark did all the talking. And everything from the podium, formal and informal, was recorded for posterity. For up to three hours he would denounce everything that was wrong with the world. But he had all the solutions and answers for every problem. His greatest criticism was reserved for those who opposed him personally, Elizabeth, their children, and his organization. His greatest praise was reserved for himself, his family, and his organization.
Those who opposed Mark personally included most every staff member who had ever left, many of whom remained in the Summit. He railed against them constantly. For the two-plus years I served on his staff before he died, the same names came up again and again. Most of them I never knew. And some had left years before. There was Bob, Michael and Mary, Gary, Ida Mae and her sister Louise, among others. My friend Ron never returned from New York and he was on this list. You would think these people were the enemies of God. Mark derided them mercilessly. Some had left when Mark was away or in the middle of the night. They were cowards one and all. They had betrayed not only Mark and the Ascended Masters, but God Himself. Woe unto their souls. Their karma was great. The message was quite clear. Woe unto anyone else who contemplated leaving.
Once in awhile Mark would mention trials that were held for "recalcitrant" staff members. I never witnessed one conducted by Mark, but I did witness one conducted by Elizabeth after he died. So, I know they did happen. And I know that like Elizabeth, he was judge, jury, and executioner. Though Mark could not put a gun to your head, he had something much more effective. He put God to your head.
One day we were having a staff meeting with Mark, and even Elizabeth showed up. It was revealed to us that the messengers were in fact, the two witnesses, the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth, spoken of in the Book of Revelation (11:3-4). This was an historic announcement. All of us in attendance were true believers. We were in awe, hanging on every word. Elizabeth then asked why we were really there at the Summit Lighthouse as staff members. Some answered to serve God, to do God's will, or to earn the ascension and go to heaven. Elizabeth informed us none of these responses was the right reason. She stated we were there to serve the "mission of the two witnesses." There was no higher calling on earth.
If the significance and importance of Mark and Elizabeth Clare Prophet to God Himself and His children worldwide was ever impressed upon us, it was then. It went without saying, to impede their mission, or harm them in any way, would result in the greatest of karmic punishment. There was absolutely no crime on earth more serious.
This staff meeting made it official. The end would justify the means. "Let he who is great among you be your servants." To serve Mark and Elizabeth, the greatest of God's servants, would justify any action taken by any staff or outer member. You could forsake your parents, your spouse, and even your children. All responsibility was subordinate to "the" responsibility of serving the messengers. You could leave the world behind, consuming all loose ends with the "Violet Flame." As it became necessary, you could lie and cheat and steal. You could even deceive. (Though you were supposed to tell the truth, Saint Germain stated you didn't have to tell ALL the truth.) Often presented as the spiritual reasoning behind this philosophy were the words of Jesus, "What is that to thee, follow ye me."
Mark would parrot other words of scripture as applicable to himself. "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased," was conferred upon Edward Francis. But did Ed become one of Mark's favorite sons because, as he stated, "Ed's got brains?" Or was it because the extremely generous hot-headed rich kid from Dallas was a saint?
This staff meeting also put into perspective Mark's cardinal rule, "No unilateral action." The stakes were too high. The world and its destiny could be impacted by the thoughtless error of a staff member. Any action of every staff member that was of consequence to the Summit Lighthouse and its global mission must be reported to the messenger. If you weren't sure, check with the messenger to be on the safe side. To be remiss could result in infinite repercussions. Needless to say, with this onus on the staff, it was and is, ludicrous to think the messenger has not known every significant action ever taken by any of his/her true believers.
Mark encouraged visualization. He portrayed the experience of Lee Harvey Oswald after he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. (Summit/CUT members know for sure that Oswald killed Kennedy because Mark determined it was so.) For his despicable crime, Mark described how "on the inner" Oswald was attacked by thousands of demons who tore his soul into thousands of fragments. They all wanted a piece of the diabolical villain. There was another undeniable message. Unless anyone wanted to face a similar fate, don't mess with God's messengers, Mark and Elizabeth. To do so would be an awesome offense. The penalty for which would be horrific punishment.
It would not be unreasonable to state that Mark Prophet considered himself a god. He taught that the Ascended Masters were so possessed of God, they became one with God, and hence, they were "gods." Since Mark was their partner, he placed himself on their level. His inner circle considered the words of Mark one and the same as those of the Ascended Masters.
That Mark Prophet was enamored with himself is an understatement. In spite of outer appearances, the Summit Lighthouse was in reality, a shrine to himself. Just as Church Universal and Triumphant is a shrine to Elizabeth Clare Prophet. The Summit Lighthouse and C.U.T. are in essence cults of personality dedicated to Mark and Elizabeth. For Mark, image was crucial. Pictures of him speaking with the Dalai Lama and Indira Gandhi from the Summit's India pilgrimage in 1970 were paraded before members and the press alike. The message was clear: like attracts like. It was pure capital for Mark. His cult of idolatry was spawned by flatterers, but set in stone by his core sycophants known as "the cube." These four men exemplified more than all others, absolute devotion to Mark. They lived, and would die, for him. Sri (father), was what they called him. Subsequently, "Mother," was bestowed upon Elizabeth who had her own cube of ladies.
In early June 1971 Mark called me into his office. He showed me a mockup of the Summit Beacon newsletter that was about to be printed and mailed out notifying members of the forthcoming Freedom Conference in Santa Barbara over the 4th of July. My name was mentioned as I would be one of the musicians providing entertainment at the "Motherhouse" open house preceding the conference. I told Mark I was sorry, but I was planning on leaving staff on July 3rd when my six-month probationary period was over. I would be giving my two-weeks notice in a couple of weeks and would not be going to Santa Barbara. Needless to say, it hit the fan.
We weren't alone for long. Mark called in Gilbert and John, my music partner, to witness my rebellion when I would not back down and agree to stay. We went back and forth for almost an hour. Finally, Mark called in Stanley, Elizabeth's assistant. He announced that Elizabeth was flat on her back, and dying from my horrible energy. The argument was over. I agreed to stay. Mark made me promise I wouldn't say another word about leaving for six months. You can imagine how I felt when because of my selfishness I was accused of nearly killing the messenger.
That evening, after the Sunday public service, we had a staff meeting. The messengers announced Elizabeth was pregnant (with Tatiana). It never occurred to me Elizabeth was flat on her back from morning sickness earlier in the day.
The next day I still wanted to leave. It was agonizing. I wrestled with myself throughout the day. Finally, I accepted my fate. I went on automatic pilot for the next nine months. I did my job and was happy as a contented cow.
In the spring of 1972 the screws were turning ever tighter. I had my regular job and had been Mark's full-time radio operator and all-night Summit Lighthouse phone operator for several months. I was losing a lot of sleep and requested relief. Mark refused, but did cut me some slack with a little time off now and then. It wasn't enough. I was feeling trapped, and that was getting me depressed. I was getting to the point where I didn't care what Mark, or even God said if I left. But I wasn't there yet.
Mark was spending less and less time at headquarters, which meant I was spending more and more time chained to the radio. He was the man about town eating at Furr's Cafeteria and the Summit's new Four Winds Restaurant regularly. He didn't care too much for the rice and veggies, and no desserts, we land-locked staff ate all the time. He would also go to the health spa quite often.
In early December 1972 we had a phone patch rigged up with Mark's radio so he could talk to Elizabeth while he was mobile. It saved a lot of money not using the car phone. The problem was that I had to coordinate the talk and listen buttons between them when they were speaking to each other. It sometimes became a circus. If they started talking too fast or talking at the same time I couldn't make a proper connect/disconnect between the two of them. Mark would get upset. And I was getting to the end of my rope.
One evening the problem happened again, big time. I had enough. I hung up on Elizabeth and turned the radio off on Mark. I grabbed my coat and walked out. I went to the nearby Broadmoor Hotel and had a cup of coffee. With no money, I thought of leaving all my possessions behind and hitchhiking to California. But winter had arrived, and I still feared the wrath of God. By the time I walked back to La Tourelle, Mark had returned and had the staff out combing the streets looking for me. He asked me to forgive him, which I did. But I knew my days were numbered.
Over the next few days Mark came down with the flu and was bedridden. This is what we were all led to believe, until Elizabeth came down to see me in the mail room. She told me that in fact, Mark had nearly died of a heart attack because of my energy and what I had put him through. It was just one more nail in the coffin.
By mid-February 1973 my plan was to leave in the spring. I knew Mark would kick me out on the spot so I was taking the precaution I wouldn't freeze to death in the winter and had some time to get a few dollars together. I had my letter of resignation already written. By this time I didn't give a damn what Mark Prophet, or even God, had to say or did when I left.
Mistreatment of the elderly and violation of the priest-penitent relationship
The morning Mark had his stroke I was really upset. I had a little time off that Saturday morning in late February and was on my way into town. But when I saw the ambulance I knew nobody was going anywhere. Once again, Mark kept me locked in. Over the next couple of days, until Mark died, a lot happened in the Summit Lighthouse. But that's a whole other story. It was enough however, for me to decide to stay. Right or wrong, I did stay.
Mark Prophet believed emphatically in the divine right of kings. Not surprisingly, he believed a person of his divine office had a right to an imperial lifestyle. I think Mark's favorite past incarnation was Louis XIV, the "Sun King" of France and creator of the Palace of Versailles. This peacock of a man inspired Mark to think the same of himself. As such, Mark would engage the commoners of Colorado Springs and invariably lock horns with them. Every now and then Mark would return from an outing and call yet another staff meeting. He would relate his horrific experience with some local moron who refused to respond to his righteousness. Or was so dark and dense, they instigated an altercation when coming in contact with Mark's awesome, provocative "light." If they owned a business we were forbidden to patronize them anymore. This included a barber, a bank, an ice cream parlor, and a restaurant that I can remember.
The first time I witnessed grown men kneeling down and tying Mark's shoelaces I was repulsed. Could I ever do that? Would I ever do that? I convinced myself it was part of the path to humility. It was considered an honor to be the messenger's companion and valet. While Gilbert was his full-time attendant, others, myself included, were afforded the opportunity to occasionally relieve Gilbert. I was never in a situation where I had to tie Mark's shoelaces, but I once had to spoon-feed him while he was driving. Like every other attendant, I massaged Mark. And probably like every other attendant, I once accompanied him inside the bathroom. While he sat, he told me Elizabeth disapproved of this practice. I didn't know what to think. It must have been my "test."
While the Summit Lighthouse had a board of directors, it was in name only. I can't remember any formal meetings. And if there were, the board was merely a rubber stamp. There were suggestions, but all the members were yes men. How could you disagree with the mouthpiece of God? Mark Prophet made all the decisions. And even if Elizabeth disagreed, he had the final word on everything.
Sean Prophet was the apple of his father's eye. (This is not to say that Sean, as well as his sisters, got a free ride.) The only reference I ever heard Mark make of his other son, Danny, was condescending. All the time I was there, Mark never had any of his children from his first marriage visit him in Colorado. I still don't get it. How do your own children become virtually non-existent in your life? How does your own flesh and blood get assigned to second-class status? Come to think of it, I do get it. Mark sat on a throne. Danny, and his sisters, never knew their father as a king. Hence, they would likely treat him beneath the stature Mark had created for himself. This could shatter the illusion of Mark's new image, which would be quite an embarrassment before his staff.
Mark was portrayed as the living example of the father-figure. Unfortunately, following his example, reinforced by Elizabeth, has resulted in many sorry relationships between Summit and C.U.T. fathers and their children, as well as their wives. Mark was dogmatic, hence, a brittle man. Since most everything he preached, and even said informally, was construed as the unadulterated word of God, there was little room for flexibility. His "my way or the highway" attitude did not exempt children.
Back to Sean, we had a staff meeting regarding his going to Broadmoor Elementary School. This was before the church Montessori school could accommodate him. Sean was driven to school in Mark's Cadillac accompanied by two men, the driver and radio operator. They also served as Sean's security detail. Back at base, everything was monitored in case there was a security breach and Mark needed to be briefed on the mission. Once again, Mark had locked horns. This time it was with with the idiots at Broadmoor who failed to recognize that Sean was a genius. In the meeting, Mark explained the injustice to all of us, who unanimously agreed Sean was a genius. To verify this, Mark pointed his finger at, and questioned every staff member individually if he or she agreed with him that Sean was a genius. No one disagreed. But I recall one occasion when a staff member did disagree with Mark.
The Summit Lighthouse received a donation of a used colonic machine from a member who was a chiropractor in New Mexico. Mark had his pal Gilbert learn how to operate the machine and administer colonics to all of the men. A female nurse on staff learned for the women. Victor Higley was a young transient, and a member of the Summit who was accepted on staff for menial tasks. Victor refused to take a colonic. No threat from Mark would change his mind. Victor was fired and ordered off the property immediately. (Even though Mark and Elizabeth demanded two weeks notice from any staff member who might dare wish to leave.) From then on we heard what a bum "Pigley Higley" was.
Victor was not the only staff member put out on the street on the spot for offending Mark. There was Tom T. There was John Pietrangelo. But there was even the elderly woman Mary Spelzhaus who had been so helpful to Mark in getting his organization under way many years earlier.
I had been on staff only a few months when one morning there was an earth shaking incident. According to Mark, he asked Mary what she was doing. She replied she was "busy, busy, busy." He asked her again and the response was the same. Mark stated her flippant response was intolerable to the Masters. There had to be more to it than that. I later heard there was jealousy a long time brewing between Mary and Elizabeth, and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. It was the opportunity to get Mary out of Elizabeth's hair once and for all. Whatever, Mary was physically removed from the property along with all her worldly possessions. All of this took place in less than three hours. I was called to Mary's room by Mark to help clean it. He insisted her immediate eviction was the right thing to do considering Mary's deplorable vibration. He wanted to know if I agreed. I didn't know what to say. So I instinctively agreed.
In the staff meeting that followed, Elizabeth chided Mary for her crying, and sobbing that the messengers were killing her soul. Elizabeth confidently explained it was really Mary's oversized ego that was dying. She had become a sacred cow. Regardless of all the explanations, it was a pathetic display of heartlessness. There was no empathy. Mary was elderly and suffered from an enlarged abdominal goiter. Her life was the Summit Lighthouse. And now she was even banished from Saint Germain's Keepers of the Flame fraternity. Mary found herself in a rented room in Colorado Springs. Mark had graciously seen to it that one was found for his dear old friend the very morning she was put out.
As stated earlier, there were many older ladies that Mark was able to attract to his organization. As such, there were proportionately many more older ladies to older gentlemen on staff. The esteem in which many of these ladies were held by the messengers often had nothing to do with their work or devotion, but with how much money they had contributed, and were contributing. While Mary's usefulness had waned, she had no money and was dismissed. The Summit was not a retirement home. Everyone was supposed to work. Phoebe Hammond, the dishwasher, was in her seventies putting in 10-12 hour days, six days a week. But other ladies did even less than Mary. Only because of their financial support, were they more than welcome to remain on staff. For them, the Summit was a retirement home. Natalie Peck Phillips was the prime example. She was too elderly to do anything. While this may not appear to be unreasonable, there was an obvious favoritism toward those with money. I bring this up to contrast the stories of Ruth Jones and Ruby Williams.
Ruth Jones was a grand old lady, beloved by all. She was a graduate of Columbia University and had a career in education. She was honored, and considered to be a confidante of Mark She also prepared Sunday School lessons for the Summit. She had no children, but was like a grandmother to Erin Prophet. Her deceased husband Sydney had become an Ascended Master. You didn't become an Ascended Master in the Summit Lighthouse without making some kind of major contribution. When Ruth passed away in 1976, she too was venerated when the messenger announced her ascension. It was obvious the major contribution of the Jones' was their money.
Ruby Williams joined staff in mid 1971. She lived in staff housing. She had been the Summit Lighthouse group leader in Boston for many years and was the person who introduced Mark to Elizabeth. She had no children. She brought her savings, about $2000, to Colorado Springs and gave it all to the Summit when she arrived. It was a great day. The Summit used her money to purchase new carpeting for the Motherhouse in Santa Barbara.
Ruby was quite elderly, and like others, not suited to any meaningful work. Soon, Ruby was deemed rebellious. By mid-1972 she was placed in a private home on the other side of town. Rarely, if ever, did anyone go and pick her up for services. Rarely, if ever, did anyone go and visit her. Rarely, if ever, did Mark run out to see her with one of the tasty meals he enjoyed so much at his Four Winds restaurant. And rarely, did anyone bring food to Ruby, which was supposed to be provided by the Summit in her new living arrangement.
The lady who rented her the room was soon giving Ruby her own food. Soon there were calls to the Summit complaining. I was assigned to bring a box of food to Ruby and visit her once a week. Without exaggerating, a homeless person would have done better considering what the Summit provided. If this was anybody's mother, there would have been hell to pay. Ruby's complaints got back to Mark.
There was a staff meeting and Ruby was the focus of attention. Mark countered her complaints. He protested how Ruby was rebellious. The Summit was not a retirement home. Her $2000 was a gift. Accepting it did not mean the Summit was going to take care of her. Ruby was going to lose her ascension. The Summit Lighthouse was not responsible for her. Mark had me stop visiting and bringing her anything more. The question was never answered why Ruby came from Boston in the first place.
After Mark passed away I went to visit Ruby. She had since moved to a retirement home. I don't know how she made the arrangements or who helped her. It was certainly no one from the Summit. She called in a friend while I was there. He was a retired attorney. The two of them gave me hell.
Adela was another staunch Summit Lighthouse member who eventually joined staff. She was from Wisconsin. She was very generous and often sent the Prophet children gifts. She sent Sean the most beautiful toy fire engine I ever saw. It must have been very expensive. But I don't think Sean ever saw it. We kept it in the mail room because it was red.
Adela loved the Summit. But when she joined staff she didn't know what she was getting into. She soon found out you couldn't judge a book by its cover. She was assigned to work at the Four Winds in the kitchen. She was an excellent baker. Young people could handle the long hours, running around, and organized chaos. But Adela was getting on in years. It was proving to be too much for her. And she was also concerned about the well-being of the younger staff. The baker boys had an insane schedule. These four young men in their white jumpsuits worked the night shift. They were forever bobbing and weaving as they fell asleep during services. One of them was found asleep sitting on a toilet.
Adela was a woman of strong character. She was no pushover. She was the only person I ever saw who called Mark Prophet on the carpet during a staff meeting. She had confided in Mark something personal and Mark blabbed it to staff members. Adela found out and was crushed. In that meeting, Mark became very defensive and stated it was his prerogative, as messenger for Master El Morya, to deal with the situation as he had. Adela argued it amounted to a violation of the priest-penitent relationship. She soon departed, becoming nothing more than a fringe member of the organization.
Wine, Meatballs, and Horseplay
For those who think one has to be a moron to join a cult, they are grossly mistaken. The most articulate and honorable people imaginable were members of the Summit Lighthouse. One of those people was Sigrid Carlson. She never married and had a career with the FBI. After retirement, she joined the Summit staff as organist and secretary. You couldn't help but love Sigrid. She could be a tiger, but had a heart of gold. She also had a very bad back that everyone was aware of. During lengthy services it was necessary for her to go out and lay flat for awhile to ease her pain.
On a trip from Colorado Springs to Santa Barbara, Sigrid was the only woman among a half dozen young men, plus Sean and Mark. We all rode in the Dodge Travco which had a small rear bedroom for Sean and Mark only. The two day trip was agonizing for Sigrid. She needed to lay down, but Mark would not allow her to lay on his bed. Her vibration was incompatible. You got the feeling Sigrid was going to soil the bed or something. I can't remember for sure that Sigrid was brought to tears, but Mark finally relented and gave her a special dispensation to lay on his bed.
It was in April 1971, that a new mandate was enacted for the Summit Lighthouse staff. During the Easter conference, the Ascended Lady Master Omega came for the very first time to give a dictation through the messenger Elizabeth. It was a cosmic event. So I learned the following day.
There was a staff member who had fulfilled his six month probationary obligation to the Summit and decided to leave. Billy was no pushover. He had made up his mind and Mark could not change it. Whatever arrangement he had with Mark, Billy was not kicked out but allowed to stay even while everyone knew he was leaving. I worked with him. We had become buddies. And two days after Omega spoke, Billy would go back to his ranch in Idaho. But first, Billy and I would go out for a farewell dinner with our co-worker Alex.
Up to this time the Summit staff was allowed to eat meat, though it was not served. You had to go to a restaurant for a hamburger, or whatever. The night before he left, Alex and I slipped out with Billy to an Italian restaurant for spaghetti, meatballs, and a glass of wine for the special occasion. When we returned to La Tourelle, the karmic hammer fell. Word got to Mark we were back. He took me into a room and questioned me about where we had gone and what we had done. I told him exactly. He told me it was a disgrace to do such as I had within only hours of the dictation of Omega. I was scolded and fined only $5.00 because I was still a neophyte and the naive victim of Alex' poor example. Alex was rebuked and fined $25.00. Billy was hopeless. He was leaving in the morning and not worth Mark's time or attention. But the matter was not over.
The following morning Billy left and we had a staff meeting. Mark informed us that Billy only came to the Summit to avoid the army. He was a draft dodger, a coward, and a bum for using and taking advantage of the Summit Lighthouse ministerial program to keep himself out of the military while the Viet Nam War was being waged. This was news to me. I wasn't aware of any ministerial program. Billy wasn't doing anything different than I was for the more than three months I knew him. If there was a ministerial program it was Mark Prophet ordaining someone at his own pleasure, like Monroe Shearer. He was ordained with no formal training specifically to avoid the draft. Mark told us so. It was so Monroe could continue working for Mark and the Summit (God).
Back to the new mandate. After Alex and I returned from dinner the night before, confessed our sins and were reprimanded, we were told that Mark already knew what we had done. He sensed a tremor in the "force-field" of La Tourelle. He had felt our vibration. Meatballs and wine glasses were seen floating in our auras when we came back onto the property. In that morning staff meeting, Mark announced that henceforth and forevermore, staff were no longer allowed to eat meat. We officially became vegetarians. Imbibing of wine and spirits was forbidden. To this day, I'm not sure that included Mark drinking his beer.
While some staff could only speculate they saw things "on the inner," Mark and Elizabeth were the only ones who could really see meatballs, etc. Long before Star Wars, Mark could see "the force." But for Mark, the force was the bad guys. The force was demons and entities and discarnates. And they were everywhere. It was like the bogeyman, around every corner and under your bed. And it was after Mark, the messenger of God. Every single thing that bothered Mark or didn't go his way, or the Summit's way, was because of the force. And he told you about it all the time. The force did this and the force did that. There was a "ray" of the force on this or that. Or so and so was a "tool" of the force. Even staff members who goofed up were tools. It was Mark Prophet versus the world. He was a classic paranoid. Mark gave birth to the "us versus them" mentality that dominated the Summit Lighthouse, and yet dominates Church Universal and Triumphant today.
On occasion, Mark would open his jacket and show you his concealed revolver. He would also flash his badge. You never had enough time to read what it said, but Mark assured you he was "a law enforcement officer." It was pretty impressive because you knew he wasn't just talking about being a member of Master K-17's Cosmic Secret Service. Again, the message was clear. Don't mess with Mark Prophet. And with a pistol he was even more formidable. But true to form, Mark's display was a deception. Mark was merely a member of the posse in El Paso County. It was a vestige of the Old West. Anyone could go down to the sheriff's office and sign up to become an auxiliary deputy in the event of an emergency. You were fingerprinted and had a security check. After you were screened, you were issued an identification card. You could go down to the local police supply and buy a badge and I.D. wallet and impress your friends. After Mark died, we formed our own little staff militia. A bunch of us went downtown and joined the posse too.
Mark liked to jock around with some of the guys on staff. He would gleefully punch them and laugh. But it was pathetic to watch him wind up like a prissy and take a shot at someone. One staff member was sparring with Mark and accidentally landed one on his chin. There was silence. Mark scowled, "You struck me!" The staff member nearly died of fright. Mark would slap and push, and sometimes grab you by the back of the neck digging his nails in, laughing all the while. Russell F. can tell you he drew his blood. But no one would dare retaliate. He would shake your hand giving you his death grip and ask you what you thought of how strong it was. No one had the onions to tell him his sister could do better.
Was there anything sacred about Mark Prophet? Was he really a holy man? I think a lot can be told about a man within the informal setting of his friends. But as hard as Mark tried, we really weren't his friends. Bending over to show you his hemorrhoids, referring to a Summit member Ms. Fuchs as Ms. F__ks, or always calling the men in his presence to attention while he cut loose with a fart might have been funny at the time. But what does it say about the man's dignity? How much credibility did it lend to the man among men supposedly chosen by God to be an example for the ages? Where are all of those men today to give lasting testimony to the bedrock greatness of Mark Prophet? They are nowhere to be heard from, because in truth, Mark Prophet was a buffoon. There are a handful of priests I was taught by in high school whose holiness, dignity, and ability to relate with the common man are legendary among guys I went to school with to this day. And those priests were real friends. Mark Prophet couldn't shine their shoes.
It's true, Mark Prophet could be serious. Real serious. A kick in the pants (to Tom) or a knee to the groin (of Alex) could happen when Mark was really upset. Again, these guys were those Mark knew would not retaliate. Upon arriving in Santa Barbara from Colorado Springs in June of 1971 for the Freedom Conference, Mark was driving the Travco up the driveway of the Motherhouse when he struck the wall. I was right across from him in the passenger seat with Sean in my lap. Mark didn't even look where his fist would land, but lashed out at Stanley who was sitting behind him, accusing him of being responsible for the accident. Stanley suffered bruised ribs and was out of service for the next few days. Lester, who was with those greeting the messenger in the parking lot, received a vicious tongue-lashing for not sounding off with a warning of the collision. In front of his wife, and everyone else, Mark bellowed he'd make a man of him yet. Though Tom, Alex, Stanley, and Lester were loving disciples of Mark, they were still possessed of "human substance" and could therefore also be tools of the sinister force. Mark had the wall replaced and the driveway widened.
It seemed that most, if not all, of the "beloved staff" of Mark and Elizabeth were "tools" or "rebellious" some of the time. Because we weren't always perfect to Mark and Elizabeth, someone was always being stabbed in the back. People who were incredibly generous were not generous enough for Mark and Elizabeth. One summer (if not every summer), there was a stretch in Colorado Springs when we would have a little thunderstorm every afternoon. It would come and go like clockwork. One afternoon Alda was driving on her way from California to join staff and become Elizabeth's seamstress. She too, was getting on in years. She had not yet arrived. And for whatever reason, Mark was so upset with her that he blamed her negative energy and vibration for the storm that afternoon. The greeting and gratitude expressed to Alda when she did arrive, like for so many others, was so disingenuous, it could make your heart cry for all of us poor saps who thought we were doing good for God. I'm convinced that Mark and Elizabeth believed that everything that was given to them, was owed to them. I am also convinced that Mark and Elizabeth believed they were doing everyone a big favor just by being alive and blessing everyone on this earth with their presence. If you really have a deep love for people, how can you have such a smug attitude toward them behind their backs? How can you write them off or dispose of them when they no longer offer productive value to you? The example of Mark (and Elizabeth) Prophet answered these questions for me. Anyone giving anything less than 100% all of the time was looked down upon. Even if you were giving 100% and goofed up, you were looked down upon.
Forbidden Romance, Printing Errors and Conspiracy Theories
Florence Scott (Miller) was the most beloved and respected staff member of all time. She was the executive secretary and eventually became a board member and director of the church's publishing department. While Mark and Elizabeth valued her immensely, I'm sure they even loved and respected her too. But even Florence was not immune to the messengers' wrath. While giving 110%, Florence made the big mistake of becoming romantically involved with a really fine man on staff, Charles. Mark (and Elizabeth) went through the roof. They couldn't stand not being the absolute focus of Florence's undivided attention. She was fired. I got the call from Mark in the middle of the night around the New Year's Conference in Santa Barbara in December 1972 when most of the staff were there and I remained in Colorado. I had to wake up Margaret. Mark notified her she would be taking Florence's place. As it turned out, Florence was irreplaceable. She was reinstated, given a little vacation to bring her to her senses, and her relationship with Charles terminated. I'm not saying Florence was worked to death when she died at the early age of 43 in 1979, but it might have helped if she had taken a little time off to get proper medical attention before it was too late.
Bill was the most likable minister in the Summit. Not only was he able, well-versed, and intelligent, but compassionate and a regular guy. He was the Summit's treasurer and front-line pressman. He worked tirelessly.
Bill got into hot water when the first text signature of the messengers' long-awaited book CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN was being printed on the Summit's new high-speed press. There was recurrent fading of the purple ink. Mark was all over Bill for allowing the problem to happen and fined him $50 for the cost of the paper which had to be scrapped. Most staff salaries were less than $50 a month.
We had a staff meeting and Bill was castigated in his absence. Mark cited Bill's rebellion and refusal to give 100% to God as responsible for the mishap. It was Bill's vibration that precipitated the accident. Bill was a tool. Mark failed to mention the Summit didn't have a densitometer to measure the ink coverage. Without one, it is impossible for even a journeyman pressman on a high-speed press to maintain uniform ink coverage, especially if the color is purple. The Summit purchased a densitometer and the fading problem didn't happen again.
Mark could not stand rejection. Staff would be called to attention if they crossed their arms while Mark was speaking to them. He claimed it was body language that implied one was rejecting what he was saying. But Mark had already made his pact with the devil. In order to enjoy his power and control over others, the tradeoff was a life of isolation, looking over his shoulder, self-doubt, and absence of real friendship and intimacy, even with his own children. It seemed that Mark was always trying to be one of the guys. But the wall was always there. He was the messenger of God. And while at a certain point he was unapproachable, at the same time he could never really reach out. To do so, he would lose not the respect of his followers, but their fear that enabled him to maintain his tyrannical position and keep his little army of disciples in lock step.
There were times when you would let Mark make a fool of himself rather than reap his ire for making an innocent, loving, suggestion. If snot was hanging from his nose, or a crumb of food from his mustache, you'd hope Gilbert would notice and tell him. If he was ready to conduct a service and his suit-jacket collar was standing up, or his hair wind-blown, likewise. Mark would try to impress everyone with the interjection of foreign language and seldom-used English words in his lectures. Some of them over and again. He would mispronounce them, and to anyone familiar with that language, it was really embarrassing. But you dare not correct him. Mark thought it was chic to have discovered Raj Kumar, a Hong Kong tailor in Denver. He had custom suits made that looked like they were tailored in Russia. You said nothing. Nor did you comment on his pink suit, or golden (brown) suit with color-coordinated yellow socks.
Half the time Mark Prophet was condemning everybody and everything under the sun. 20% of the time he was trying to impress everybody what a great guy he was. 20% of the time he was whining to everybody how he was being persecuted. And I'll be generous and say that 10% of the time he was normal.
The story goes that Mark Prophet alone, the messenger for God, carried the weight of the world (karma) upon his shoulders for years until Elizabeth, his twin flame, came along. In time, increments of that weight were transferred to her shoulders as she grew in spiritual strength and maturity. When Mark died the whole load was dumped on her. As staff members, we were never allowed to forget the great sacrificial burden our beloved messengers so magnanimously volunteered to bear.
I never actually saw Mark do anything more than telling people what to do and how to do it. He hardly lifted a finger. But he was an authority on everything, including physical fitness. Mark would let everyone know when he was fasting. He would go to the health spa regularly. But the only sweat I ever saw him break was from sitting in the sauna. He died at age 54 of a massive stroke. If he had moved his body a fraction of what he moved his tongue, he might have lived longer.
Politically, Rev. Mark Prophet was not a conservative as many would think. Similarly, Rev. Jim Jones was not a liberal. While Rev. Jim was a left-wing extremist, Rev. Mark was a right-wing extremist. But they had a lot in common. They were both dictators.
Mark could not tolerate oneupmanship. He would not take a back seat to anyone. He always had to be in the driver's seat. He always had to be the authority. This included politics. A member was once expelled from the Summit's Keepers of the Flame fraternity because of his John Birch Society membership. Mark gave him an ultimatum. It was either Saint Germain or John Birch. The man chose Birch. The real reason Mark got rid of him was because he was being upstaged. Mark was further to the right than this guy. He was a conspiracy nut. He wouldn't buy Ford automobiles for the Summit because of Henry Ford II and the Ford Foundation. According to Mark, the real Henry II was stolen from his cradle and replaced with another baby by the forces of darkness in embodiment. It was a "plot" (another of Mark's overused words). It explained why Henry II was so far to the left of his father.
Richard Nixon was too moderate for Mark. Mark despised him even more because Nixon, according to Mark, refused to shake his outstretched hand when Nixon was pressing the flesh on a visit to the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. It was not only an affront to Mark, but to El Morya, the entire Darjeeling Council, the Great White Brotherhood, and God Himself. The current of blessing flowing through Mark's handshake was spurned to the detriment of America and all mankind.
To Mark Prophet, the real leader of the United States was the Ascended Master Saint Germain. Hence, it was the physically embodied Mark L. Prophet himself, who envisioned a theocracy with the Summit Lighthouse as the state religion of America, the home of the I AM race, and he as its leader. If he could not achieve it in this lifetime, his son Sean would be the next-in-line heir. If Mark Prophet had his way, all of this would come to pass.
Curiously, Mark's "chief" benefactor and sponsor, El Morya, dictated THE ENCYCLICAL ON WORLD GOOD WILL to Mark in the mid 60's. According to Morya's (God's) rock-solid advice, the world would solve its problems "under the United Nations." In consultation with his Darjeeling Council of geopolitical wizards, and with the assistance of the Ascended Master K-17 and the Cosmic Secret Service, El Morya laid the foundation for mankind's entering the great Golden Age of Aquarius. But El Morya's booklet of cosmic import was soon removed from the bookshelves of the Summit Lighthouse and no longer available for purchase.
With a little help from his mortal contacts, Mark Prophet discovered the United Nations was not the benign organization his immortal mentor had stated. El Morya, his cosmic cronies, and God Himself, had goofed! What other conclusion could be drawn?
Why did Mark Prophet become a megalomaniacal cult dictator? It was because of his acute inferiority complex. It was because of his lifelong perception of self-failure and disgust with a world that defined him as such. His abysmal self-esteem led to his lifelong re-creation of himself as the greatest among men, and a fantasy world that would support his self-delusion. Mark Prophet's insecurity led to his sociopathic behavior. He could not bear the thought of coming down from the mountain and returning to his roots. This in turn led to his pathological lying to feed and support the Narcissus he became. In essence, Mark Prophet was playing God with people's lives.
What is the legacy of Mark Prophet? In death did he become a revered religious leader, a saint for the ages, a giant among men? What has become of all his disciples who sang his praises on the day of his passing? What has become of the book his daughter was assembling to preserve his memory?
The greatest leaders lead by example. Was the example of Mark Prophet one which elevated his disciples, his religion, and their future generations? Or was the example of Mark Prophet corrupt? Has his legacy, out of necessity, evaporated?
Perhaps one more story will answer all of these questions.
Not too long after Mark passed away in 1973 I was on all-night phone duty for the Summit Lighthouse. One night around 11:00 that I received a call. There was a tearful plea for help from one of our members in Colorado Springs who had just been raped. She was calling from the police station. She was a former staff member, Barbara L. Barbara was a sweet girl who had some serious problems. Mark did not give her the boot, but excused her that she might deal with those problems in a different environment, away from the Summit. She had been severely sexually abused by her grandfather. I assured Barbara help was on the way.
I called in a Summit minister who was also a board member. I told him what had happened to Barbara and that I had assured her we would send someone down to the police station to comfort her. The minister refused to help.
This Summit Lighthouse leader looked to Mark Prophet as his father. He was the epitome of a true believer in our church of divine love. He said that Barbara had brought the rape upon herself. She was not the Summit's responsibility. Her vibration and history precipitated the assault. It was her karma.
Mark L. Prophet, everything he set in motion, established, and was built upon by Elizabeth Clare Prophet is now in the twilight of its existence. With her alleged Alzheimer's disease, Church Universal and Triumphant is without a spiritual head. As such, it is dying, running around in circles, and going nowhere. Though the present leadership believes it has a future, it refuses to address its burdensome past. It will linger, but never achieve its delusion of world recognition. Thankfully, the theocratic fantasy of Mark L. Prophet is history.
Republished in full with the permission of the author.