Last July 20, 2014, a Philadelphia Church of God member allegedly committed suicide according to the death certificate issued by the Medical Examiners Coroner. Here is the letter written by her father:
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: FAMILY CUTOFF POLICY
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:35:02 -0400
From: Dan De Gennaro
To: Exit & Support Network
I would like to update you on my daughter, Mrs. Janet Privratsky (formerly Janet C. De Gennaro’s) cause of death. The Medical Examiners Coroner Certificate of Death confirms the death was by suicide.
Please publish the letters on the web.
I will be writing of the danger the PCG’s cutoff policy has on family.
The Ezekiel 4 siege has again taken its toll on another PCG member. To further understand what the prevailing condition under this siege is, let us define some words from verses 16 and 17:
“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.”
In Strong’s Concordance, the word “astonied” means ‘to stun or intransitively grow numb, that is, devastate or (figuratively) stupefy (both usually in a passive sense): – make amazed, be astonied, be desolate, bring into desolation, make desolate, be destitute, destroy self, make waste, wonder.’
While for the word “consume away”: it comes from “a primitive root; to melt; figuratively to flow, dwindle, vanish: – be corrupt, dissolve, pine away.”
This is the same as prophesied in Ezekiel 24:
“And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men. And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another.” (vv. 22-23)
God has allowed the people in His Church to do as what Mr. Gerald Flurry has done when his wife died – i.e., to appear normal in the sight of all men while still doing God’s work. During this Ezekiel 4 siege, the people in God’s Church would become emotionless – they grow numb – “ye shall not mourn nor weep” as what That Prophet has done. And the effect? God’s people could have experienced one of the following:
become devastated, (meaning: overwhelmed or overpowered)
in order to survive, they bring each other into desolation, (through betrayal to gain favor in the eyes of the ministers)
some become destitute, (in the dictionary it means: completely wanting or lacking; poor enough to need help from others)
others become corrupt spiritually,
some people destroy themselves spiritually which could lead to a physical suicide.
eventually, all of the people are astonished as to what really is happening
And if the people do mourn, they just do it among themselves and they don’t show it to the ministry. This is the reason why the PCG membership around the world dwindles and some Church areas were either utterly dissolved or consumed away because of that siege and some has fallen by the sword. Read the letter below of an anonymous sender about such a story:
My friend let me know that PCG is going to be opening a new congregation in Alabama, but what is really going on is that their membership in that area has dwindled and they can no longer afford to pay a lot of money each month for a conference room. They are looking at about half what they have been paying because according to my friend’s calculation they only have about 25-30 people!!
I believe what has happened is that for years they have had at least 100 or more people so paying a pretty hefty amount per month was not a stretch. I would guess they have lost members and that those who are left live in the north to mid-section of the state. Hence the effort to find a meeting place in the Birmingham or surrounding area. – Anonymous
Have you noticed that the PCG members around the world seem to have become so afraid of what shall happen to them should they try to speak out and reason with the ministry, they would rather resort to voicing out their concerns with what is happening inside the PCG through anonymous posting of comments in ESN (Exit Support Network) and other COG sites. To better understand why this is so, let us again define what a SIEGE is:
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. …Sieges involve surrounding the target and blocking the reinforcement or escape of troops or provision of supplies, typically coupled with attempts to reduce the fortifications by means of siege engines, artillery bombardment, mining, or the use of deception or treachery to bypass defences.
Again as for the definition of a SIEGE, it is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by ATTRITION or assault. Now let us consider the meaning of the word “attrition” in the dictionary:
1. A gradual diminution in number or strength because of constant stress.
2. A gradual, natural reduction in membership or personnel, as through retirement, resignation, or death.
3. Repentance for sin motivated by fear of punishment rather than by love of God.
4. Sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation, especially as contrasted with contrition, which arises purely from love of God
Looking at the definitions of attrition, we may ask: Has the people in the Philadelphia Church of God not experienced “agradual diminution in number or strength because of constant stress”? Has the Church not experienced a gradual, natural reduction in membership or personnel, as through retirement, resignation, or death? Has the people’s repentance for sin inside the Philadelphia Church of God, motivated by fear of punishment rather than the love of God? Is the prevailing attitude of the people inside the PCG already became such as a sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation, which is contrasted with contrition, that arises purely from the love of God?
It seems that the answers in all four questions are a resounding YES, to which any PCG member who became victims of that spiritual siege could easily identify with!
After 3 long years, Gerald Flurry finally allowed me to see my daughter. It was not in the way my family hoped. She was delivered to us C.O.D., wrapped in a plastic bag and sealed in a metal container.
My dear daughter, Janet, lived a full life while she was part of our family. She was always pleasant, respectful and obedient. She had an adventurous spirit and enjoyed traveling the world.
We are first generation Italians in Canada. My wife and I place a high value on family unity and we taught our children that we always support each other with love and respect. The PCG was never our teacher when it came to family values as it was clear to us they didn’t understand the value of a family. In fact, we were criticized, insulted and even humiliated by PCG leaders for our strong family values.
We attended the Milton, Ontario congregation. Our nightmare began in 2009, with the arrival of Tim Oostendarp, a new graduate from HWA College, eager to prove himself to the PCG hierarchy. He found my 20-year-old son, Robert, on Facebook and immediately began to spy on him. In December 2010, he reported Robert to the local minister, Fred Dattolo, for an “inappropriate” Facebook post. Fred Dattolo immediately suspended Robert. After a six-month suspension, Robert decided he didn’t want to return to such a negative environment.
In April 2011, Fred Dattolo came to me with an ultimatum from Gerald Flurry. I had 3 months to remove my son from our home–otherwise I would no longer be a deacon. The following week, Fred Dattolo told me that my son is a Laodicean and I should think of him as a rebellious and lazy son. This was nonsense. My son has always been respectful and helpful.
In May 2011, my wife, Maria, and I met with Fred Dattolo. Once again, he had an ultimatum from Gerald Flurry. The Pastor General and Prophet” wanted our son out of our home. Fred Dattolo recommended that our son move into a “small room” like other single men in the PCG. For my wife and I, this would be unconscionable because he did nothing to warrant this harsh treatment. When Maria tried to explain that our son was not a baptized member, she began to cry. Fred Dattolo looked at her and said, “I see this crying all the time.” While this experience was obviously a normal occurrence for Fred Dattolo, we were taken aback and totally shocked by his callous attitude. He was brutal, cold and showed no concern. A true minister of God would have shown mercy, love and compassion and opened the scriptures to direct us. None of this happened.
On September 14, 2011, my wife and I were suspended for not complying with “That Prophet’s” ultimatum. Janet was left behind
One month later, in October 2011, while attending the feast, Janet met David Privratsky.
On August 26, 2012, Fred Dattolo called Janet and told her that Gerald Flurry wants her to “get out of that house.” We knew Janet. She would never deliberately dishonour us and disobey God’s commandment. She thought she was obeying God by obeying “That Prophet.” She found a basement apartment, which cost her $800/month, and moved out of her room in our family home.
Though my wife, my son and I were distraught and cried for weeks, we now know that this proved to be a very heavy, emotional burden for Janet. She was the one who suffered the most by being cut off from her family.
Because she was planning to move to the United States to live with David Privratsky, she was turned over to Regional Director, Cal Culpepper. He prevented Janet from moving to Chicago until he was sure that she was totally compliant with “That Prophet’s”no contact policy. Cal Culpepper made it clear that the marriage would be called off if she had any contact with her family. After a year of counseling and monitoring, she was given the green light to marry David Privratsky and their wedding took place on September 8, 2013.
We emailed Fred Dattolo to ask if we could be a part of the wedding ceremony. He did not respond. This was a crushing blow to us. It was also a crushing blow to Janet’s extended family, which has never been a part of the church and could not understand why they could not attend the wedding. This is an example of how the PCG’s cruelty reflects poorly on Christianity! Instead of being a light and turning people to God, they were the opposite and turned people away.
We later found out that Janet and David Privratsky were not legally married. They were only married in the eyes of the PCG ministry. Once again, the scriptures were ignored (1 Pet 2:13, Titus 3:1). Because they were not legally married, Janet was buried as my daughter, Janet C. De Gennaro.
From the time Janet left our home until the end of 2013, the only contact we had with her was when she sent a generic thank you note to us for our wedding gifts.
In January 2014, Janet’s uncle wanted to send a financial gift to her. We emailed her and asked her to call us so we could work out how to best send the money. She called. This was the first time we had heard her voice since she left our home in 2012. She was subdued and spoke only a few words and that was the last time we heard our daughter’s voice. We learned after her death, that David Privratsky forbade her from speaking to us due to the no-contact policy.
On July 21, 2014, David Privratsky called us, a full 38 hours after Janet’s death! Why the delay? No doubt, he needed to seek counseling from the PCG ministry to ask permission to call us and to find out what he should say when he speaks to us.
We were sitting in the garden in the middle of the afternoon when we were interrupted by the phone. It was David Privratsky. We immediately knew that something was wrong. He told us that our daughter was dead. He said she died of a massive heart attack. We were confused. How could a healthy, young 30-year old woman die of a massive heart attack? We pressed him to find out exactly what happened. He finally broke down and admitted to us that Janet committed suicide
He went on to say that Janet had been seeing a doctor for the last 6 weeks for insomnia and anxiety. When we asked why he hadn’t informed us about her depression, he said he put God before physical family. He later admitted that he didn’t understand what he was dealing with and he should have reached out to us.
Church should be a sanctuary of safety and protection. The PCG is the opposite. It is harsh and dangerous. Janet was alone and suffered silently. She was isolated in a small town of 15,000 people in a foreign country without the support of her family. She was surrounded by people who didn’t know her and didn’t care enough about her to see she got the help she needed. We were surprised to see that less than 9 days after Janet’s suicide, David Privratsky was posting a humorous tweet about the “Rise of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” on Twitter. He obviously didn’t know Janet. They were married for less than a year and they obviously did not have the deep, heartfelt relationship with her that we did. We’re still grieving and will do so for the rest of our lives.
One timely phone call to her loving family would have made all the difference.
On July 21, 2014, after 3 years of no contact, Gerald Flurry finally made an exception and relaxed his no-contact policy just for us. He allowed the ministers and David Privratsky to send Janet home to us C.O.D., wrapped in a plastic bag and sealed in a metal container. I was able to see the damage my daughter did to herself when she realized she couldn’t go on suffering the way she was. In her enforced isolation and state of depression, she saw this as the only way out.
Shame on you Gerald Flurry, and all PCG ministers and members who carry out the dictates of a narcissistic megalomaniac who will stop at nothing, leaving a wake of destruction, as he magnifies himself.
PCG ministers and members, although many of you are trapped inside the PCG because of the cruel, no-contact policy, you need to study the Bible and beware of deceivers. By their fruits you shall know them. Ask yourself if any good fruit has come out of this destructive policy. Ask yourself why you hate others who have done you no wrong. Doesn’t the Bible teach you to be gentle to all men? Why are you fighting your brothers and sisters? God expects you to obey Him rather than men.
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” (Titus 3:1–3)
“For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” (Matthew 15:4)Gerald Flurry has done a great evil to my family and me. Regardless of what he thinks of us and what he tells you to think of us, we are Christians. We love our Heavenly Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ. We realize that we are not fighting flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high places. The Lord promises in Rom 12 that He will avenge Janet’s death.
“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:17–19)Please learn from my bitter experience. I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this.