Sect disappears after city didn't

Leader predicts killer Oct. quake for Denver, then vanishes with 75 followers to await millennium

New York Times/November 22, 1998
By James Brooke

DENVER: Denver did not disappear in an apocalyptic earthquake on Oct. 10, as a Christian sect leader had predicted. But he has disappeared with about 75 followers and their children.

Members of the sect, Concerned Christians, had sold their cars, furniture and houses in advance of the expected disaster. They told relatives of vague plans to travel abroad, probably to Israel, with their leader, Monte Kim Miller.

Last week, about 10 of the missing followers were found in Israel, said Brig. Gen. Hezi Leder, the police attache at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The list of located Americans did not include Miller, who has prophesied that he will be killed in the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999, setting off an apocalyptic end to the millennium.

"We are very concerned about people worried about the end of the millennium coming to Israel and trying to do something," Leder said. "If there is any evidence that they intend to commit a crime, we intend to prevent them from coming into Israel."

Already, about 100 American Christians, none of them related to Miller's group, have moved this year to the Mount of Olives section of Jerusalem to await the end of the millennium, said one expert on the phenomenon, Brenda Brasher [Ms. Brasher has shared news conferences with seeming cult apologist Lonnie Kleiver who is recommended as resource by Scientology], a religion professor at Mount Union College in Alliance.

Referring to the Concerned Christians group, she said, "I would be very surprised if this is the only one that takes such an act -- dropping out, severing all ties and heading to Israel."

In Denver, Miller, a charismatic 6-foot 5-inch former marketing executive for Procter & Gamble, was known for speaking in what he said was the voice of God.

"He said, `I will have to let God answer that,' " the Rev. Bill Honsberger, a Baptist pastor, recalled Friday of an encounter he had in Denver with Miller two years ago. "He shifted his position in his chair, contorted his face and opened his mouth -- and it was `God.' He kept threatening us, making it clear that God is going to kill us.

"One member was in the room, and he became enraptured," said Honsberger, who has warned Christian radio stations about Miller's violent prophecies.

In the mid-1980s, Miller spoke out against cults in Denver churches. But, more recently, he seemed to have adopted some of the practices he once preached against.

As his preachings became increasingly apocalyptic, he mailed letters to Denver churches, accusing them of "Satanic" preaching.

"The Lord's grace has been with the church for 2,000 years; his judgments are ready to begin," Miller told a Denver television station, KUSA-TV, two years ago. "He died on the cross for our sins. Now we're to go to our deaths as well."

Miller wants his followers to be in Jerusalem, because according to his teachings, the world will end at the end of next year. Only he and his followers will be saved in Jerusalem.

At the same time, Miller appeared to secure strong control of his followers. His followers appeared to support him financially after he sought bankruptcy protection a year ago in the face of $600,000 in debts.

"Kim has such control over this group," said Honsberger, who has talked to many concerned relatives of members. "They telephone and ask him: `Can we go to the movies tonight? Should I talk to my mother? Should I wear the blue outfit or the green outfit?' "

In the only known incident when the sect conduct escalated above the level of death threats, John Weaver, a retired police officer, recalled that a church member armed with a pistol banged on his door three years ago when his daughter, Nicolette, left the group.

"I had a rifle, and when he tried to get in, I stuck it in his face," Weaver said "They came back a few nights later and tried to pry the front door open."

Weaver's ex-wife, Jan, is believed to be Miller's right-hand assistant. Weaver has sent his 16-year-old daughter out of state to military school.

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