A Follower’s Confession

The New London Day, Eastern Connecticut, May 30, 1999
By Paul Choiniere

Why would people confess to doing what they did not do?

It was a common experience in The King’s Chapel, according to once-loyal followers.

Sallie Bowen, who joined the church with her husband, Tom, in 1980 and left in 1998, says pastors and prophet Syro exercised such extraordinary power that they could persuade members of most anything.

The 34-year-old recalls a confession she made in the late 1980s when she said she desired another man in the church. In fact, she says, she had no such desire.

Her story follows:

It began with a telephone call around midnight. She was awakened.

“It was Sam Wibberley, and he said that the Lord had told Syro I wanted to have an affair with Syro’s granddaughter’s husband. And, of course, I said no, that it was absurd and had no foundation in truth.”

Wibberley began quoting scripture and told her that her “heart was deceitful and wicked.” She continued her denials, but he warned, “You’re trying to fool us, but you can’t fool God.”

The call dragged on in this manner for about an hour. All the time, Wibberley was consulting with Syro, who was with him at his home. As time passed, he grew angrier.

“He continued to say whatever I sow I shall reap, and through my actions and my lies I was reaping sin and reaping destruction. I am going to ruin my family, I am going to ruin my life because I won’t go along with what he is saying.”

On the other end of the phone, Syro was getting more divine inspiration.

“She now knew not only that I wanted to have an affair, but the reason why, which was because I wanted to ruin her granddaughter’s marriage.

“So Sam just kept at me, and at me, and at me. Because you fear them and respect their authority you don’t hang up on them. You just keep trying to explain yourself.”

Ninety minutes into the conversation, tired and confused, she tried to make an “admission” that would satisfy them.

“I said, ‘Well, Sam, maybe I did think about him.’

“Well, once I said that, I was done for. He just got very mean and sarcastic. He said, ‘Maybe you did? What are you trying to do? What is this, just a big game for you? Either you did or you didn’t.’

“What could I do? Syro said where you live, so you live there. She said where you should work, so you work there. She said who should baby-sit your kids, so that is who baby-sits your kids. Now she is saying you want to have an affair.

“You feel so trapped. I was totally doubting myself. I didn’t know what I thought anymore. And so I just gave in and I admitted. I said I was so sorry. That I didn’t see it before, but I see it now.”

Wibberley ordered her to tell her husband.

“It hurt him. They hurt people’s marriages. They cause divisions. We had been married several years at that point. I loved him. I never had any inclination not to be faithful to my husband. But here they are making me confess that I did.”

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