Cult leader's wife delighted with magazine's portrayal

Abilene Reporter-News

While many Abilenians might consider "Texas Monthly's" cover story on cult leader Yisrayl Hawkins an embarrassment, Kay Hawkins calls it a godsend.

"The Heavenly Father has granted my prayers," the ex-Mrs. Yisrayl Hawkins said Thursday, shortly after reading the article. " " 'Texas Monthly' shows you the true man."

The magazine's July issue boasts an ominous black cover with the warning, "Abilene's House of Yahweh believes ... Satan is a woman, the Pope is her puppet, and the world will end in three years." The accompanying article probes Hawkins' rise as leader of a cult based on rigid adherence to 613 laws.

The chipper Kay Hawkins could barely suppress her giggles Thursday morning as she read a borrowed copy of the magazine while awaiting a public hearing before the Abilene City Council. She successfully sought a rezoning of property she inherited in her divorce settlement three years ago.

Afterward, she raved about the article, deeming it "hilarious."

"I was raised in a very religious home," she said. "Something like this would have been a scandal beyond repair. In today's society, people blink once or twice and say, 'Oh well.' "

While Kay Hawkins has been agreeable to interview requests, her former husband has met with only a handful of television reporters. He reportedly thought "Texas Monthly" was a TV show, asking senior editor Robert Draper the whereabouts of his camera crew when he arrived at the cult's Eula compound.

Draper's piece chronicles Buffalo Bill Hawkins' rise from rockabilly ne'er-do-well to Abilene cop to preacher.

Sources accuse Hawkins of manipulating religious texts and his idealistic followers for personal gain. And Kay Hawkins admits she helped, doing much of her husband's research and writings for him, believing she was married to one of Yahweh's two holy messengers.

Not until Hawkins sanctioned multiple marriages did his wife come to believe he was a fraud.

"This man is not the man I thought I knew," she said.

She praised Draper for painting a "right on the money" portrait of her ex, saying he erred only in reporting the couple had two children instead of five.

She said even learned a few things about her former husband, chiefly that his family despises him. His late brother, Jacob, who led a House of Yahweh congregation in Odessa, allegedly wrote his sibling was "deliberately deceiving" followers. And the magazine quotes a brother-in-law calling Hawkins one of the world's biggest liars.

Although Hawkins has preached the world will end in nuclear holocaust in October 2000, Kay Hawkins is certain the cult won't do anything rash as did the Branch Davidians or Heaven's Gate members.

"There's no profit in a person dying," she explained, saying Hawkins has stashed an "enormous" bankroll somewhere.

"When 2000 comes and it's a bright and sunny day ... he'll change his story like he has before," she said. "In the Bible, the Messiah says, 'No man knows the day or hour, not the Son of Man, but my Father only.' He's put his foot in his mouth this time."

She added, "It's my prayer the House of Yahweh one day will return to the purpose of serving the creator and not the man."

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