THE PROCESS CHURCH TIMELINE
1931: Founder Mary Ann Maclean was born in Glasgow, U.K.
1935 (October 8): Founder Robert Moore was born in Shanghai, China.
1936: Moore returned with his mother to England.
1960s: Moore and Maclean met through Scientology and married taking the name de Grimston.
1963: The de Grimstons left Scientology to found Compulsions Analysis in London, England.
1965-1966: Compulsions Analysis attracted clients and the de Grimstons changed the group’s name to The Process.
1966 (June 23): The Process left London for Nassau, Bahamas before ultimately settling at Xtul, Yucatan Peninsula.
1966 (October 7): The Process endured Hurricane Inez, viewing it as a religious experience and leading to the establishment of The Process as The Process Church of the Final Judgment.
1966-1968: The Process returned to London and set up chapters in San Francisco, New Orleans, New York, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Munich.
1970: The Process settled in the United States and the de Grimstons separate themselves from the group giving themselves the name “The Omega”; within the Process Robert is referred to as “the Teacher” and Mary Ann “the Oracle.”
1974 (March 23): Robert de Grimstonwas was removed from the Process by the Council of Masters and left the United States.
1974: Mary Ann de Grimston and the Council formed the Foundation Faith of the new Millennium, later referred to as the Foundation Faith of God.
1979: The Process was reestablished under new leadership
1987: The Process expanded with chapters focused on helping the homeless; these chapters later became known as the Society of Processeans.
1993: The Process Church of the Final Judgment ‘s faith and teachings were declared obsolete, the archives were destroyed, and the church disbanded although the Society of Processeans continued to exist as secular community action organization.
Robert Moore and Mary Anne Maclean lived two very different lives until they met each other in the Scientology church. Robert was born in Shanghai, China on October 8, 1935; however before he was a year old he and his mother returned to England. There his upbringing as he describes it, in William Bainbridges’s Satan’s Power, “was fairly conventional middle-class English, reasonably happy and uneventful” (Bainbridge 1978:21). He received a private Christian education but joined the British military rather than going on to higher education. After the military he spent several years in architectural training.
Mary Anne’s childhood was very different. Her mother took a minimal role in her upbringing leaving it mostly up to other relatives. She was never formally educated and seems to have not had a decided direction in her life until she became involved with Scientology and Robert. William Bainbridge suggests in his book that it is these differences in Robert and Mary Anne’s lifestyles, skills, and needs that made them such an effective partnership (Bainbridge 1978:23-26).
The two met and fell in love in the early 1960’s while they were both members of the Church of Scientology. Both Robert and Mary Anne chose to enroll in a course which trains one to be a Scientology practitioner. This involved them in intense therapy sessions with each other. It is during these sessions that Robert and Mary Anne realized their shared interests in the work of psychoanalyst Alfred Adler and their negative opinions of Scientology. They fell in love. After they were married Robert and Mary Anne changed their name to de Grimston.
In Satan’s Power Robert describes Adler’s theory “in terms of compulsive goals meaning he assumed each person was in pursuit of something, and he wasn’t speaking of the conscious aims and ambitions that we all have, but the unconscious driving forces that really motivate our actions. This both [Mary Anne] and I were in agreement with. And we also agreed with Adler that bringing these unconscious goals to consciousness could relieve the tensions, the pressures, the conflicts, the problems, and the sense of failure to which every human being is subject” (Bainbridge 1978:27).
The couple became disillusioned with Scientology’s leader and his teachings and rules. They did think that the techniques they had learned from the course were easy and effective in discovering Adler’s unconscious goals. In 1963 Robert and Mary Anne left Scientology and developed Compulsions Analysis in London, a therapy group which can also be called a client cult. Robert described the group in 1965; “Our aim is to make people become aware of themselves, and so more responsible to themselves and to other people. We are not so concerned with healing the mentally sick as are the more orthodox psychoanalysts. We want to help people fulfill themselves” (Bainbridge 1978:33).
Compulsions Analysis quickly began to attract clients through friendship networks and it was those people who entered therapy in the first two and a half years that formed the core of The Process, which they changed the name of the group to, later on. These clients took part in individual therapy sessions with Robert and Mary Anne and group sessions so bonds were quickly formed between all of them. Thus the participant’s bonds to people outside the cult weakened causing distrust among the community. The result of this is what is referred to as a social implosion. “In a social implosion, part of an extended social network collapses as social ties within it strengthen and, reciprocally, those to persons outside it weaken” (Bainbridge 1978:52).
William Sims Bainbridge points out that the trigger for this implosion was the heightened intimacy which was formed by the therapy sessions. The group became completely absorbed in each other and the therapy and so lost ties to outsiders. This fact stopped the recruitment of new members through social networks and resulted in a social implosion (Bainbridge 1978:52).
Bainbridge also suggests that Robert and Mary Anne did not train other members to be therapists fast enough so they had to take on all the therapy sessions limiting the group’s size. He proposes that if they had trained therapists “this new culture might have spread widely in English society rather than producing an implosion” (Bainbridge 1978:52).
The group became separated from the rest of the society and thus they were no longer confined to behavior that was acceptable with regard to the social norms of that society. This meant that “…they [were] especially free to deviate in developing beliefs and practices”(Bainbridge 1997:248). Thus the group was free to begin to move towards a religious outlook and it did. All of these elements played a factor in The Process’ decision to leave London for the Bahamas on June 23, 1966.
The group did not remain in Nassau, but ultimately settled in a grouping of ruined buildings at Xtul (sh-tool) on the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. The Processeans set about repairing the buildings and growing their own vegetables. They also began to participate in various conventional religious activities, such as prayer, fasting, and meditation. It was at Xtul that the group also began the practice of taking new names, here they were just chosen but in later years they were assigned by Mary Anne or other leaders.
The most important thing that happened while the Processeans were at Xtul was their survival of Hurricane Inez which blew for two days. The group members believed that their survival had not been just chance but that they had met both the good and bad sides of the God of Nature, an idea which leads to their later beliefs about gods. One group member is quoted in Satan’s Power as having said, “Xtul was the place where we met God face to face. It was the experience that led to the establishment of the Church. In terms of commitment, it was the point of no return where each one of us, plucked by fate out of a workaday world, found that we had a God-vocation” (Bainbridge 1978:68). A disturbance involving the parents of three group members forced the Processeans to return to England.
Thus The Process returned to Balfour Place in London a religion rather than a therapy group. The members began taking on traditional church roles of recruiting and donating (soliciting money). The next few years were a time of growth for The Process. The group set up chapters in San Francisco, New Orleans, New York, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Munich.
In 1968 due to financial problems Robert de Grimston ordered his followers to go out into the world, particularly into Germany, in pairs without any money or belongings to spread the Word and solicit money. Robert supported this plan with scripture from Matthew Ten, 1.1. In Matthew Chapter 10, Christ instructs his disciples, before sending them out in pairs to go from city to city preaching the Word. 1.2 The Instructions he gave apply now , possibly even more precisely than they did then. 6.3 Take no money. For the individual [Processean] has no need of it for himself. For our physical needs will be met by those to whom we give spiritually…” (Bainbridge 1978:92) and so it is referred to as the Matthew Ten phase.
Ultimately the group settled in the United States in 1970 and established fixed chapters in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, and New York and an unsuccessful one in Toronto, Canada. After the experience at Xtul, Robert and Mary Anne separated themselves from the rest of the group and gave themselves the name The Omega. Throughout the group’s most successful years the pair traveled and lived very well off money obtained through donating done by the messengers.
In the early 1970’s The Omega began to have internal problems and these problems lead to a splintering of the group. Robert De Grimston tried to implement what he called the New Game which was a kind of sexual liberation within the group. It has also been suggested that a there was “dissatisfaction with the growing emphasis on Satan” among the members of the group (Melton 1996: 229). His behavior and actions with regards to the group caused tension between not only him and Mary Anne but also him and the Council of Masters, the ruling body.
Money and theological problems lead to an increase in this tension and it all resulted in the Council of Masters removing Robert De Grimston from the office of Teacher of The Power on March 23, 1974. He then left the United States and was never able to reestablish his position or following. Mary Anne and the Council of Masters changed some of The Power’s doctrines and practices and so formed the Foundation Faith of the New Millennium or the present day Foundation Faith of God (Bainbridge 1978:227-30).
There was a successful attempt to reestablish The Process under new leadership in 1979 and in 1987 a vigorous expansion began. These chapters were founded upon the practice of helping the homeless. This group came to be known as the Society of the Processeans and was generally a secular organization. The faith and teachings of The Process were declared obsolete, the archives destroyed, and the Church disbanded in 1993. Members of the Society of the Processeans continue today as a secular community action organization (Church of the Final Judgment).
The Process’ primary sacred text was the Bible, in particular the Book of Matthew in the New Testament. The group also utilized several of Robert de Grimston’s essays and the works of other church leaders as scriptures; these include “Xtul Dialogues”, “Exit”, “As It Is”, “For Christ Has Come”, and “The Tide of The End” which is a sequel to the Book of Revelation. Some examples of The Process’ scriptures that can be found on the Internet are “A Candle in Hell”, “Satan On War”, and “Humanity is the Devil”.
The Process’ beliefs can be separated into two distinct periods. The first of these periods focused on God as the supreme being and was the founding ideology and remained the only one until 1967. The second period was ushered in when de Grimson wrote his essay “The Hierarchy” in 1967. This essay introduced the belief in Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan, the Three Great Gods of the Universe (Bainbridge 1978:176).
In the early years, The Process considered God the supreme being that was perfect and infinite (God Is). They believed that Humanity was the opposite of God, “humanity is a snare of confining inhibitions, while God is limitless” (Bainbridge 1978:174). Humanity was even labeled as Satan, God’s ultimate enemy. Their apocalyptic beliefs focused on the destruction of those aspects of humanity that defied God. Thus, the purpose of most of their rituals and therapy was to escape this hopeless realm of Humanity by aiding Christ in the task of unifying the universe.
These desires to escape the fate of humanity lead to the naming of the group. The various rituals and therapy exercises which they employed came to be called “processes”. Thus, “they decided that their entire enterprise was a change-oriented process and so they adopted the name Process” (Bainbridge 1997:250).
Members of The Process also believed, like Christians, that God had sent his only son Christ into the world out of his love for man. Christ’s duty was to act as a communication link between the gods and humans and to ultimately reconcile the three gods (Bainbridge 1997:253). Christ and Satan were opposites and thus had various opposing values attached to them such as love and fear and unification and separation. This belief lead to de Grimston’s theory that all reality could be “interpreted as the intersection of pairs of polar opposites” which he reveals in his book The Two Pole Universe (Bainbridge 1978:175).
These types of dichotomous relationships are evident during the second period of Process beliefs which focuses on the three Process gods and Christ. Process doctrine stated that these gods had been created when the universe was created and God had splintered into the four distinct personalities (The Gods). It was believed that the gods represented “three basic human patterns of reality and each one represents a fundamental problem”; or in other words, “each God can be seen as a basic perspective on the best way to live” (Bainbridge 1978:176).
Each god was representative of certain personality traits. Jehovah was “the wrathful god of vengeance and retribution” who demanded discipline, courage, and dedication to duty and purity (The Gods). Lucifer, also called the Light Bearer, was fun loving and kind. He valued success and peace. Satan instilled in his followers two very distinct qualities; the first being the desire to rise above the human realm, to be free of its needs, and to become “all soul and no body” (Bainbridge 1978:177). The other quality is a desire to sink below the human realm and become absorbed in violence and other forms of excessive physical indulgence. Christ is the god’s link to human beings and provides humans with all the skills they need to overcome problems and difficulties in life. Each person had a particular god with whom they shared the most characteristics (Bainbridge 1978:176-78).
These gods were organized into dichotomous pairs. Jehovah and Lucifer were opposites and Christ and Satan were opposites. They were also combined into four main personality types: Jehovian-Satanic, Jehovian-Christian, Luciferian-Satanic, and Luciferian-Christian. People outside the group could discover their personality type, or god pattern, by answering a questionnaire. While members of The Process would interact with their superiors and peers in the group, then discuss their ideas, and finally decide upon a god pattern. These labels became very commonly used among the members of the group. Later each pattern was assigned a top(positive) and bottom(negative) level by Robert de Grimston.
It was believed by members of the group that the “Game of the Gods” was coming to an end and with it the world. Jehovah and Lucifer were to join in union after the conclusion of their fight of the conflict of the mind. Process scripture reads, “Through Love, Christ and Satan have destroyed their enmity and come together for the End, Christ to judge, Satan to execute the judgment…. Christ and Satan joined, the Lamb and the Goat, pure Love descended from the pinnacle of Heaven, united with pure Hatred raised from the depths of Hell…The End is now. The New Beginning is to come” (Bainbridge 1997:245).
Members of The Process were involved in various rituals throughout their time in the group. Some of these rituals were open to the public while many were privately held. Many rituals were similar to those seen in Christian practices, such as marriages, baptisms, and the Sabbath Assembly. However there were many rituals that were endemic to the group.
Most marriages within the church would be labeled as normal, although there were certain marriage practices which the church advocated that are seen as different. For instance the church carried out the marriage of same sex couples. Also it was believed that members of the group were primarily married to the church and so it was a common practice for married couples to be separated, as one may be sent to a different center in a different city (Bainbridge 1978:162).
Baptisms were the rituals which accompanied a member’s move from one status to another. They occurred at each step along the way in the hierarchy. These rituals were generally private, except when an Acolyte became an Initiate. As in many Process rituals. Chants were used. In baptisms the Chants were the Hymn of Initiation and Cleanse Us in the Water of Life. The person being baptized was given a certain symbol which represented their moving on to a higher level. For example the person moving from Initiate to Messenger was given a Mendes Goat badge which was representative of Satan, in later years this was changed to a silver cross with a red serpent on it (Bainbridge 1997:256).
The Sabbath Assembly was held every week on Saturday night and was the time when all the members could get together. It took place in the alpha ritual room which was organized in a particular fashion. There was a circular altar in the middle of the room with stands on either side of it, one with a bowl of water on it and the other with a bowl of fire. The participants sat in a circle around the altar on cushions on the floor, and the two priests sat on opposite sides of the room facing each other on chairs. The two priests are called the Sacrifist and the Evangelist. The Sacrifist symbolizes Christ and the Evangelist represents Satan. The Sacrifist presides over most of the ceremony while the Evangelist delivers the emotional sermon. The ritual included the Sabbath Assembly Chants. Much of the symbolism in the Sabbath Assembly is concerned with the main tenet of Process beliefs, that of the “dual relationships of the gods and the unity of Christ and Satan” (Bainbridge 1978:190-94).
Along with rituals The Process utilized therapy exercises in their quest to “cure their souls.” The primary therapy session was the Telepathy Developing Circle. The TDC, as it was referred to by members, consisted of a number of group and pair exercises intended to develop participants’ Telepathy powers. Members of The Process considered telepathy as “becoming more aware, increasing sensitivity around other people…being able to understand what a person’s feeling, going through, without talking to him about it” (Bainbridge 1978:198). Another similar exercise was the Midnight Meditation which took place both nights of the weekend. The meditation in this activity would focus on a pair of ideas, one negative and one positive, and was intended to serve as a resolution of the conflict between blessings and burdens for the participants (Bainbridge 1978:203).
Progresses were the most significant meetings for the Outside Messengers, Initiates, and Disciples. These dealt with education about The Process and were meant to be therapeutic. The meetings lasted for about three hours with a short break in the middle and generally took place on Monday and Wednesday nights. Activities took up the first part of these meetings and the second half was for studying Process theology. One such activity was called Training Routine Zero. For this two members sit completely still and unresponsive staring into each other’s eyes for an extended amount of time. To “pass” this test a person must be able to completely ignore all attempts to distract him/her (Bainbridge 1978:203-06).
The Process employed an electronic device they called a P-Scope to uncover subconscious feelings and goals. The P-Scope is built much like the Scientologist’s E-Meter, which in turn is a heat sensitive instrument similar to bio-feedback and lie-detector machines. The P-Scope was used in sessions that involved a therapist and one or more clients. The therapist asked questions of the client and recorded the machine’s readings. These readings were organized into a Goal Line and thus the client’s ultimate subconscious goal could be discovered (Bainbridge 1978:211-16).
There were several similar therapy/discovery sessions which higher level members of the cult participated in. These sessions, like those for other members, were focused on developing the person’s telepathy and bringing to the surface the subconscious goals and fears which affected their behavior. William Sims Bainbridge suggests that the use of these sessions for all members was a means of instituting control over those who participated. He says in Satan’s Power, “Several of the therapy exercises forced the participant to express all his feelings and admit all his actions. Individual therapists, or groups of fellow [Processeans], would then bend the person in the desired direction, controlling him in a subtle but absolute manner”(Bainbridge 1978:222).
The members of The Process were organized into a very detailed hierarchy. It was said that the hierarchy was based on function and not quality, that the people on the top were not better but served particular functions (Bainbridge 1978:153). Bainbridge states that this “…system exploited and controlled middle-ranked members through the actual provision of gratifications and the promise of greater gratification to come” (Bainbridge 1978:142).
The roles in order of status were: Acolyte, Initiate, Outside Messenger (OP), Inside Messenger (IP), Prophets, Priests, Masters, and the Omega. To move from one status to another a person underwent a baptism. Acolytes were people who had taken the first step towards joining the group but had no true significance. To become an Initiate, Acolytes attended some classes and participated in meditation and fasting. The Initiates did not have any specified functions within the group and only some were recruited to be messengers.
The process to become a messenger was much more entailed and difficult. However once a person achieved Outside Messenger status they were given their Sacred Name, moved into the Messenger Flat where they remained for twelve months, and began donating. OP’s were also expected to remain celibate during these twelve months. It is not clear how a person moved on to the other higher statuses but each is accompanied with more responsibility and a larger role within the church. The number of people who achieved these higher roles was generally limited.
The only status which was ascribed rather than achieved was The Omega. That is because it consisted of only Robert and Mary Anne and was reflective of the fact that they were the founders and leaders of the group. The Omega generally kept itself separate from all the other members and ruled from a distance.
A pamphlet that was distributed by the group in 1972, “Fax ‘n Figgers,” claimed membership to be in excess of 100,000 and “As of December 1971, at a conservative estimate, the number of [Processeans] stood around the 100,000 mark, and is growing rapidly” (Cited in Bainbridge 1978:144). Bainbridge, who studied the group as a participant observer, estimates that the actual numbers at the group’s peek were in the range of 200 to 250 (Bainbridge 1978:144). He speculates that the figure of 100,000 is an estimate of the number of persons who contributed to street solicitations, or were otherwise engaged in some nominal way. Since membership involves a series of complex initiation ceremonies, it is inappropriate to equate causal contact with membership (Bainbridge 1978:144).
When The Process was in its prime it attracted a great deal of attention. People called members of the group devil worshippers because of their belief in Satan as a god. They were also accused, as are many new religious movements, of participating in violence and lewd sexual acts and attempting to bring about the end of the world (Information on Anti-cult Groups). William Sims Bainbridge refutes these charges, stating that “there was no violence and no indiscriminate sex, but I found a remarkably aesthetic and intelligent alternative to conventional religion” (Bainbridge 1991:1).
Today there exist several groups which appear to have branched off the original Process Church of the Final Judgment. These groups share some of The Process’ beliefs but have combined these with various different ideals to form their own theologies. One of these groups is The Society of the Processeans which is a community action organization and seems to be mostly secular. Another group is the Foundation Faith of God. This group is the result of the great schism of The Process and was lead by Mary Anne. It is not clear how strong this group is today. Another successor of The Process may be the The Terran Order however, little is known about this group.
Bainbridge, Sims William. 1978. Satan’s Power. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.
Bainbridge, Sims William .1997. “The Process Church of the Final Judgment.” Pp 241-66 in The Sociology of Religious Movements, edited by William Sims Bainbridge. New York: Routledge.
Bainbridge, Sims William. 1991. “Satan’s Process.” Pp. 297-310 in The Satanism Scare, edited by James T. Richardson, Joel Best, and David G. Bromley. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Melton, Gordon J. 1996. ” Process Church of the Final Judgment.” Pp. 229-30 in The Encyclopedia of American Religions, edited by J. Gordon Melton. Detroit: Gale Research Co.
8 October 2016