Monday, January 20, 2014

May 24 2010, Conversation Series, Religion, Coversation Series: Cults From the 70s--Israel Love Hippie Cult, by PapaGiorgio,,

During conversation the other day (originally posted at my old blog July 26, 2007) with someone I bumped into it was revealed that this person was, is, enamored with a “hippie movement” from the late 60’s (some say 68′, others 69′) that was situated for many years in the Seattle Washington area. The group is commonly called Love Israel, named after its founder… who’s real name is Paul Erdman. But this “organization” has gone by a few names: Jordan Village Farms, Love Is Real Family Inc., Love Family, Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon, Church of Armageddon.

Is It a Cult Though? (click to see)

Israel Love’s (Paul Erdman) followers renamed themselves in like fashion, for example: Patience Israel, Serious Israel, Charity Israel, Abishai Israel, Honesty Israel, on-and-on. With “love” being the central tenant, this New Age cult – like most others – quickly fell into drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, family's torn apart, bankruptcy, mind-control tactics, and yes… even death. In fact, Erdman's sexual activities were the subject of much scandal, not to mention the fact that he fathered a dozen or more children with many different women. One dispute after another involved the group in various legal battles, which included zoning and housing violations. All this combined with the many lawsuits from families of cult members led to a mass egression in the mid-eighties of most of its followers. (The lawsuits were mainly to get back savings accounts, property and possessions back after they ere “donated” to Paul Erdmann.)


This movement got its start with revelation Paul Erdman received that indicated that he represented the authentic message of the New Testament. Thus, he and his followers felt they were the “true” Christians as well as the “true” Israelites. Old Testament dietary laws were incorporated into this group’s lifestyle while at the same time Old Testament restrictions on “altered states of consciousness” were ignored. Speaking of which, altered states of consciousness were reached by ritualized inhaling of the vapors from an industrial solvent called toluene. Paul Erdman taught that inhaling these vapors was a religious ritual that his members must follow. Follow, that is, until two members died from it in 1972; at which time this practice was “stopped.” I say “stopped” because the group continued to use hyperventilation, hallucinogens and marijuana as aids to altering consciousness. Reportedly all members of the group had visions, dreams, and revelations that explained their purpose on earth. Duh! You could include most of the “Orange Sunshine” consuming hippies in this “revelational” category. Cocaine, of course, later became the drug of choice for Paul Erdman. Shortly after the egression of about 350-or-so people in 1983, the Church of Armageddon was officially disbanded in 1985. While officially disbanded, a small core of people still follow the religious leader Love Israel. Recently Brotherhood Israel sold ecstasy to two undercover agents reconfirming the addiction to drugs this cult has.

Hollywood Connections

As with other cults of the day (Manson Family for instance), the Church of Armageddon had its own connection to Hollywood. The son of the father of talk television, Steve Allen, was part of this group for some time which prompted Steve Allen to write a book on the subject. The book is entitled Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults, and is currently out of print (I have a copy of course) and should be considered a dated read, however, it is still “chalked full of nuts,” literally!

The Communal 60’s and 70’s

The hippie movement of the sixties produced a mix of Marxian communal living arrangements with a dash of Christianity and New Age (Eastern) thinking thrown in for authority in edicts and lifestyles. Groups such as At Twin Oaks (Virginia), East Wind (Missouri), Ganas (New York), The Farm, and the like popped up all over the place.


Similar to these groups the followers do not marry each other with the classical understanding of the monogamous relationship, but considered themselves married to each other in the universal marriage of Jesus Christ and are not bound by “worldly traditions” of matrimony. Love Israel and other leaders had the prerogative (still does, just with fewer people) of permitting couples temporary bonding for the purpose of having children. The humorous question is has thinking spread to the modern left of today? The Church of Armageddon got its name from Revelation 16:16 where Armageddon is mentioned as the gathering place of the end-time.

(1977 “Love” Passover)

Positive Aspects?

Of course. Nothing is purely negative. The group farmed and fished and they developed a free restaurant and a 24-hour inn where guests were housed and fed at no charge. Members distributed food from their farms and fishing boats to needy neighbors. But the good is outweighed by the bad theology, brainwashing, and fear tactics.

Bankrupt! (2003 article By Jennifer Langston)

No longer in the “Queen Ann” area of Seattle, likewise no longer in Arlington, the cult has had to move after declaring chapter 11 bankruptcy. Something ironic since the“Church” rejected worldly laws and governing bodies. The few members (about 30) have moved due to this bankruptcy, selling its spiritual center to a Jewish organization in late 2003. They then moved to the Canadian border and at last report had fewer than 50 members. The Love Israel Family has set up tents along 52 acres near China Bend, a scenic river bench about 10 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border in Stevens County.

Interesting Factoid

Because of the growth of the many cults during this time, there were many kidnappings and deprogramming done. Family members would pay for the cult member to be kidnapped and then have cult-deprogrammers talk these people through what constitutes the movement as a cult and try to deprogram the influence of the movement on this individual. The first taken from the Love Family was Cathy Crampton. Cathy’s parents allowed CBS to film the kidnapping and deprogramming, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Exit counseling got its start in these times, and many great books and insights have come from the study of brainwashing since.

Modern Day Thinking

Of course, in our Politically Correct environment, all opinions and actions are considered equal in weight and judgment.What is true for you may not be for me! Who are you to say I am wrong in my choice? There are no absolute moral laws. Moral choices are decided by the individual or by society and are not subject to intervention by you… if you do you are considered intolerant. This type of thinking will create more cults and more people who will unite and I am sure in the future we will hear of it. We will hear of the punch being drunk to catch a ride on a comet or to leave this horrible life for a better one. The more the West steps away from the Judeo-Christian-Grecian culture, the less rational and logical thinking will be applied to peoples personal lives. Thus, relativism will “seize the day.”

The below is from Steve Hassan’s site:


Founded by Paul Erdman, aka “Love Israel” in 1968 in Seattle, Washington. Purports to be fulfilling the vision of Jesus Christ on Earth by working toward a vision of a community that is committed to “love” one another and forgive one another.

Reached zenith of membership in the mid-80′s with nearly 400 members. Dissolution of the majority of the group came about when families of members sued for return of property turned over to the family and allegations of monetary and property mis-management occurred.

The remaining members moved to a 290 acre ranch near Arlington, Washington. During the 90′s the leader and his lead “elder” Serious have formed multiple “corporations”, one of which is The Love Is Real Family, Inc., reportedly a non-profit corporation. Additionally, Serious is the registered agent for: The Jordan Village Corp., The Golden Triangle Development, Inc., The Bistro, Inc., and The Love Is Real Family, Inc. The Bistro is a restaurant concern in Arlington, Washington, reportedly owned and operated by the family. Also reported in the Seattle Times is a evening coffee club called the Compassion Cafe. Members confirm that this is a Family concern but at this point I’ve been unable to obtain documentation to confirm this connection.

I. Behaviors

Great cultural pressure to adhere to group’s norms of dress, styles, manner of talking.

Communal living idealism, so food is regulated by the core group. Key members of the group do not go without food or sufficient provisions. Out of favor members tend not to be taken care of as well or poorly.

Early morning meetings are de riguer and the lifestyle encourages late evenings as well, therefore, not much sleep occurs.

Members are encouraged to contribute all to the family upon joining. Households are reportedly self-sufficient, but must contribute (as of 10/00) 1/3 of their income to Love so that the payments on the property may be made.

Leisure activities of the members revolve around the family actitivies. Love Israel frequently takes trips around the world, particularly Europe. Lesser members never, if ever, travel.

Must always ask permission to make major decisions. Marriages must be “sanctioned” Otherwise, less formal couplings are neither discouraged nor encouraged, although couples are encouraged to experiment outside their union.

Morning “prayer” meetings are often used for getting to what people think/feel.

If you are in favor, you get more food, greater benefits, more freedom. Out of favor and you get job assignments that aren’t as welcome… punishments, group pressure, etc.

There are many rigid rules and regulations. Dependency is wrought first by financial dependency developing into emotional dependency and “learned helplessness.

Perhaps the only real autonomous people there are Love Israel and Serious Israel.

II. Information

Leaders decide who needs to know what. Likely only Love Israel, Serious and their most trusted companions know key areas of the business dealings of the two men.

III. Thought

Must internalize the group’s truth as truth

Loaded language techniques are rampant.

No critical questions about Love, his doctrine or his policies are legitimate. You are a traitor if you question him.

IV. Emotional

Excessive use of fear. Many of the people who have been there for 20 or so years have developed such an indoctrination to the culture that living outside the “family” has become extremely difficult.

(Wiki Source for Photo)

References and Sites Used For This Bio

Websites used:

Israel Love's website is at:*/

Page cannot be crawled or displayed due to robots.txt.

Steve Alan Hassan’s Freedom of Mind Center is a good resource;

Context Institute (member[s] of old group)

Margaret Singer and others.

Some books I used:
The Encyclopedia of American Religions, vol II. By J. Gordon Melton;

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Active New Religions, Sects, and Cults, by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi.

Read more:


March 3, 2003, Photo Essay from: Seatle Post Intelligenser, For the Love of Family, Photo Credits: Meryl Schenker, Special to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

For the Love of family
The glue that has held the Love Israel family together for 34 years is common spiritual beliefs. But its culture has evolved from deep faith and dedication community.

Morning spirtual meeting

During the Monday morning spiritual meeting the family assembles to talk and pray. Love, center, is flanked by his wife, Honesty, and Serious. They end with a chant. Says Love, "The one song we all know is one chant. We can all do that. We are saying, 'God, here we are, and we want this to be our prayer to you. A prayer beyond words that everything good happens to us and everybody we love. We don't even know what to ask for, so we are going to do this chant instead.'"

Crossing generations

Three generations interact easily in the Love Israel family. Almost every activity and party has a wide range of ages. The boundaries that usually exist between generations in mainstream American culture are vitually non-existent in the Love Israel family.

Easter king for a day

The Israel family's culture, which has evolved over the 34 years of its existence, is marked by special events and traditions. During one of these, the annual Easter egg hunt, one lucky hunter finds the "Golden Egg" and becomes "king for a day" at the next golden egg party, which the adults throw for their children. Before the start of the 2001 party, Center is carried by his brothers to Meditation Knoll, where he will relinquish the throne to next year's king. The brothers are, from left, More, Brotherhood and Clean.

Family council meeting

Joshiah gives Fortitude a chiropractic adjustment after a family council meeting in the sanctuary, a large room that serves as both Love Israel's living room and a place of frequent gatherings. Joshiah has been a family member for seven years. "My parents thought I was crazy," he says, "but this has been the happiest time of my life." Fortitude who has been with the family 22 years, managed the family restaurant, The Bistro, before it was sold several months ago.

Cleaning up

After pruning a cherry tree, Strong, left, and Order, right, attempt to burn the rain-soaked branches with the help of Won, wearing hat, who has been in the family for 26 years. Won, a professional entertainer and comedian, leaves the ranch to perform. Strong and Order, who were raised on the ranch but now live in Arlington, come back for the Saturday morning meeting and to help with chores.

Coffee roaster

Steadfast roasts shade-grown coffee in a small workshop at the ranch. "Stedy" came to the family in 1970 when he was 22. His coffee can be purchased at the Sno-Isle Natural Foods Co-op in Everett.

Joshiah and Commitment

Commitment protects Joshiah from the rain as they leave his cabin at left. When these structures were first built, they served as outhouses for visiting parents. Now they serve as sleeping quarters. Joshiah is a member of Love and Honesty’s household, where he eats his meals and showers and which is just a few steps from his cabin.

Ease's baby-to-be

Ease, 27, shows off her baby-to-be at the annual Arlington Garlic and Music Festival. Ease and her partner named their baby boy Real. The family's festival, now in its 14th year, is a three-day event the second weekend in August.

Ammishaddai and her 13-year-old son, Peace, relax in their home. After looking for people to gather with, Ammishaddai joined the family at age 20 and has been a member for more than 21 years. All of her five children have been raised on the ranch. She operates New World Graphics, a graphics and Web design business, from her home.

Serious Israel, right, spokesman for the Love Israel family, shares a light moment with a new friend.

March 4, 2003, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Faith and community bind the Love Israel family, by Meryl Schenker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photographer,


See more photos from Meryl's time with the Love Israel family.

I started hearing rumors about the Love Israel family soon after I moved to Seattle in 1996.

"Oh," people said to this newcomer, "do you know about that cult that lives in the Queen Anne section of Seattle?"

Having always been interested in alternative lifestyles and communities, the questions occasionally piqued my interest. Eventually, in 1999, I would have the opportunity to pursue my curiosity.

What I found was a Christ-based group, living communally near Arlington, that had somehow survived since 1968 and figured out how to maintain their values in today's world. They originally came together as a family based on "spiritual revelations" rather than blood.

Love Israel is their leader, although they strive to achieve consensus in their decision-making processes. For most of the family, building relationships with each other and their children is the most important aspect of their lives.

My involvement began when I went to a restaurant called The Bistro in Arlington, which happened to be owned and operated by the family. They were friendly and modern, and didn't seem "cultish." Rather than being isolationist, they believe in being an active part of the community.

A few months later, I met Forgiven Israel at his organic vegetable stand in Pike Place Market in Seattle and told him of my interest in meeting and possibly photographing the family.

The next day the phone rang. It was Love Israel, and he invited me for Thanksgiving dinner.

As I drove up the gravel driveway, I was astounded by the beautiful place in which these people live. And, I was amazed at how much they seemed to like each other: There was a feeling of true friendship.

I knew I wanted to learn more about the family. I told Love that I wanted to dedicate at least one year to photographing the family -- to really get to know them. More than three years later, I am still photographing life in the Israel family.

To me, it's important to document a group of people that could live together for more than 34 years and who strive to reverse the isolationism of the American family. Most communal groups that formed in the 1960s disbanded long ago. And though the Love Israel family is struggling to keep their property (last week they filed for Chapter 11) they plan to stay together as a family.

For more information go the Israel family Web site,

Meryl Schenker can be reached at

Read more about Everett, Marysville


August 2, 2008,, Teens spend summer in Love family's footsteps at Camp Kalsman near Arlington

Dan Bates / The Herald
Staff leader Rebecca Papageorge (right) canoes out onto Lake Selig, formerly known as Butterfly Lake, last week at Camp Kalsman, the summer camp at the former Love Israel compound southeast of Arlington.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Staff member Rayna Dushman of Portland, Ore., foreground with guitar, leads a group of campers in song last week at Camp Kalsman.

Dan Bates / The Herald
New yurts and a swimming pool are among the additions made for the camp by the Union for Reform Judaism.


By Gale Fiege, Herald Writer
ARLINGTON -- Where the children of the Love Israel commune once played, kids from Jewish families from throughout the region are attending summer camp.

The landscape has changed. Many of the Love family's ragtag dwellings are gone. Yurts still stand on the property, but they are new and reserved for the use of teenage campers.

Now in its second summer season, Camp Kalsman is located southeast of Arlington on the 300 acres once owned by the Love family, a counterculture religious and communal group that was a fixture in the Arlington area for about 20 years.

Kids at the camp, run by the Union for Reform Judaism, play among the mature orchards, canoe on the property's lakes and ride mountain bikes in its forests. They harvest herbs and vegetables from the camp's long-established gardens and walk in the shade of its grape arbors.

Whatever one may say about them, said camp director David Berkman, Love Israel family members were good stewards of the property, and their former farm is a benefit to all who attend Kalsman.

In its heyday, the Love family numbered 300, and for many years it opened up the ranch for an annual garlic festival, an event that attracted thousands.

Most of the Love family's buildings at the compound, however, did not meet building codes and were razed to make way for new construction, Berkman said.

Much of what defined the site's former use as a commune is gone. There are new cabins, offices, a dining hall and craft center, an outdoor worship amphitheater, soccer and softball fields, basketball and volleyball courts, a swimming pool, and a 50-foot alpine climbing tower.One of the buildings left by the Love Israel family is a house that was to be used as a bed-and-breakfast establishment. Camp Kalsman uses it as a retreat center and a place where visiting rabbis stay.Recently, camper Shoshana Glickman, 12, of Seattle had to put up with the presence of her dad, a rabbi who was on staff to lead religious education classes and worship.But no mind, Shoshana said; she loves camp, and besides, Dad was only there for one week.At Kalsman she likes to sing, make art projects and hang out with her new friends."It's cool that everyone here is Jewish," Shoshana said. "Even at my temple there are not as many kids, and at school I'm always having to explain stuff about my religion."The Union for Reform Judaism purchased the property for $4.2 million in late 2003 after Love Israel declared bankruptcy. It cost about $21 million to build the camp and get it ready to open in 2007. The camp is named for the late Red and Lee Kalsman, a Los Angeles couple who made a bequest to promote Union for Reform Judaism camping on the West Coast. Parents pay anywhere from less than $1,000 to more than $2,000 to send their children to the camp.For its inaugural season, the camp each week played host to 90 children and teens, from second-graders to those heading into their senior year of high school. This year, 150 campers a week are at Kalsman over a stretch of about nine weeks. During the next six to 10 years, the Union plans to add housing to accommodate 360 campers a week, Berkman said.About 65 percent of the kids at the camp come from the Tacoma-Seattle-Everett region, the director said. Others hail from Vancouver, B.C.; Portland, Ore.; and smaller cities in Montana, Idaho and Alaska.Though Everett's Jewish congregation currently is without a rabbi, Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region have the fastest-growing Jewish population in North America, Berkman said."Clearly there was a need in the Reform community for this camp, and it's clearly a demand that will grow," Berkman said. The Union owns 11 other camps around the country, several of which are more than 50 years old, and all of which offer religious, cultural and recreational experiences, he said.Berkman, 33, is in the middle of weeks of long days as camp director. During the winter, his office is in Seattle, where he does camper and staff recruiting. About 35 young adults from across the country serve as program directors and counselors.Several of the office, kitchen and maintenance employees are from the Arlington area, including Leslie Wargo, who works as an office manager."I've been really impressed with the staff here," Wargo said. "I enjoy all the young people."As she prepared to mail letters from campers to their parents, Wargo reminisced briefly about the Love Israel family and their time in the Arlington area."It's a lot different now," she said.Reporter Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427 or

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