The Strange Saga of Pastor Don LaRose (AKA Mayor Ken Williams)

The Mayor of Casterbridge meets “Satanic brainwashing”…

Nov. 2007 69-year-old Ken Williams had been the mayor of Centerton, Arkansas for 6 years when he announced that his name was really Don LaRose. Over 30 years earlier he had been LaRose (now 67 years old), a married preacher and father of two in New York state, until members of a Satanic cult abducted him and “brainwashed” him to forget all about his former life. In 1975 he was injected with a truth serum and suddenly remembered what the Satanists had done to him. Williams/LaRose says he underwent 5 years of therapy to recover the rest of his memories.

The disappearance of Reverend Don LaRose from Maine, New York, had made area headlines in 1975. According to a February 13/76 article in Christianity Today, some members of his congregation at the First Baptist Church even speculated that he had been abducted by angry Satanists who had written a threatening letter to him. However, when authorities located LaRose three months after his disappearance, they determined he had vanished voluntarily. (They didn’t believe his bizarre story, that he had been hauled into the back of a van by Satanists and “brainwashed” with a portable electroshock device they attached to his forehead.) He had taken the name Bruce Kent Williams from a car-crash victim who died in 1958, but implied the Satanists had “given” him this identity; according to LaRose, he had simply woken up in Minneapolis as a homeless drunk named Bruce Williams, with no memory of his previous life as a Baptist minister. He became a baker’s assistant in a downtown cafeteria, spending his free time at a mission. A preacher there recognized him as the missing New York pastor and arranged for LaRose’s wife and father to pick him up.

LaRose was “happily” reunited with his unremembered wife, Eunice, and their two daughters, but his former church washed its hands of him. And that seemed to be that.

The LaRoses moved to Indiana in ’77. Don became pastor of Hessville Baptist Church in Hammond, and continued to tell his story about Satanic abduction and brainwashing, claiming he had recovered the memories of the events only after a dose of sodium amytal administered by Dr. Marvin DeHaan.

Those pesky Satanists just wouldn’t leave him alone, though. In June 1980 he claimed to have seen them sneaking around his church, peeping in windows. On June 10, he told Eunice he was going to the church to meet someone. He didn’t return home; 7 years later he was declared dead, and Eunice remarried. Despite his presumed death, family members continued to search for Don LaRose and hoped to learn his fate.

On his website, LaRose/Williams admitted his second vanishing was deliberate, but only because the unknown Satanists had threatened to kill his family unless he disappeared again. He bicycled away from home, bought a bus ticket to Wyoming, and became “Ken Williams”.

In the early ’80s Ken Williams popped up in Centerton, became a radio personality on KURM, and remarried. He founded Ken Williams Ministries, which now focuses on the “4 Rs”: Retracing the Jewish roots of Christianity, Researching Creationism vs. Evolution, Rescuing Christian History from Revisionists, and Reveling in the Country Gospel Music of Dale Johnston. Williams was elected mayor in 2001. But earlier this year he put up a website about Pastor LaRose’s disappearance, written from the perspective of LaRose. It contained an autobio of LaRose, a recap of the initial “abduction” (“may have been SATANIC inspired”), and his “amazing story of survival” after being forced to abandon his family. A member of LaRose’s family discovered the site, and it was easily traced to Williams. On Monday, November 19, the Benton County Daily Record phoned Mayor Williams to confirm his true identity. For a day he denied being LaRose, then “came clean” about his past to the newspaper.

LaRose has resigned as mayor of Centerton. Though he has expressed interest in seeing his daughters, his grandchildren, and his 96-year-old father, he plans to remain in town with his current wife, and will continue to use the name Ken Williams. He is reportedly not under investigation.

LaRose/Williams says the people who abducted and brainwashed him were probably not Satanists, just “Satanically inspired”.

Poor Eunice! Not every man will fake being abducted and brainwashed by Satanists twice just to get away from you.

Sources:

– Florida wftv.com article (erroneously gives pastor’s name as “LeRose”)
“Being Don LaRose” by Eleanor Evans and Tracy Neal, Benton County Daily Record online, Nov. 21/07
“The Two Reappearances of Don LaRose”, Benton County Daily Record online, Nov. 22/07
http://www.donlarose.com/(Williams’ website)

Pimp My Tomb

I immediately recognized the Canadian filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici, who (alongside James Cameron) is touting the 27-year-old discovery of tombs bearing the names of Jesus and members of his family, including a son. I taped Jacobovici’s 1999 documentary Quest for the Lost Tribes off CBC when it originally aired, intending to watch it in more depth at a later time. I see I’ve taped over it or dumped it.

Anyway, the Quest documentary was intriguing and more than a little suspect. Jacobvici believes that Isreal’s lost tribes are still living as Orthodox Jews in Africa, South America, Siberia, and other far-flung locales. No matter where they settled, they retained the language and customs of ancient Judaism to some extent and are enigmas to the people who surround them. Slowly, they are making their way back to the holy land, a sign of the endtimes. One group of over 10000 was airlifted out of Ehiopia in 1984-85 and dropped in Israel (“Operation Moses“) because Israel’s Law of Return permitted them to “return to their homeland.” Wild stuff. I didn’t know what to think of it then and still don’t. But I do know this – after all that fuss over the ridiculously bogus ossuary of “James, Brother of Jesus”, I’m not making any bets that these tombs are the real McCoy. Nearly every country claims to hold the tomb of Christ, even – I kid you not – Japan. And let’s not even go into the fact that about a dozen churches claim to possess the “authentic” foreskin of Christ, or the fact that if you assembled all the splinters of the True Cross you’d probably end up with something the size of the Chrysler Building…

Update: On Larry King Live, Jacobovici argued that the authenticity of the James ossuary is still being debated (in the trial of four men charged with manufacturing and selling fake antiquities) and has not been proven a fake. Hmm. Several scholars continue to defend the ossuary against allegations of fraud, pointing out the Israeli Antiquities Authority hasn’t released an official report on why it concluded the ossuary was a forgery.

Rediscovering an obscure tomb and touting it as the final resting place of the historical celebrity of your choice isn’t uncommon, particularly when it comes to TV documentaries. Marianne Luban and Joann Fletcher (an expert in ancient hairstyles) each theorized the “younger woman” (actually a man) entombed in KV35 in the Valley of the Kings could be Nefertiti, but it was the flamboyant Fletcher who appeared on the Discovery Channel’s The Tomb of Nefertiti(2003), picking through the remains of the mummies to the chagrine of Zahi Hawass. She declared that Nefertiti had been murdered and/or mutilated after burial. Egyptian scholars dismiss Fletcher’s theory.

Holy Blood, Holy Crap: The Da Vinci Code Lawsuit and Michael Baigent’s The Jesus Papers

“You stole my ideas! Even though they’re not mine!”

The Da Vinci Code lawsuit was a prime example of wanton, greedy litigiousness. Two of the three “historians” who wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) sued Dan Brown over alleged theft of intellectual property, even though Brown’s book is a work of fiction and theirs was supposedly nonfiction. If the stuff in Holy Blood, Holy Grail is truly factual (and I doubt it), how can Brown be accused of stealing the “ideas” in it? You can’t steal facts. The questionable documents and standard historical sources on which the authors based their weirdo premise (“Christ faked his crucifixion and eloped to France”) are available to anyone with a library card.
The third Holy Grail author, Henry Lincoln, was smart enough to capitalize on DV Code‘s success by appearing in related documentaries and whatnot. The other two guys, Baigent and Leigh, are just freakin’ lazy. And calling them “historians” is an insult to real historians. It would be like calling Anna Nicole Smith a nutritionist.

In March, Dateline NBC aired a story about Michael Baigent’s new book ,The Jesus Papers, exploring Baigent’s “startling new theory” that Christ survived the crucifixion. I guess no one remembered that Holy Blood, Holy Grail briefly went into this idea over 20 years ago. From the 1983 Corgi edition of Holy Blood, Holy Grail:

“Is there any evidence that Jesus did indeed survive the Crucifixion – or that the Crucifixion was in some way a fraud?” (371)

“There is, quite simply, no reason why his Crucifixion, as the Gospels depict it, should have been fatal.” (372)

“He should have survived…for a good two or three days. And yet he is on the cross for no more than a few hours before being pronounced dead.” (372)

“In the Gospels Jesus’s death occurs at a moment that is almost too convenient, too felicitously opportune. It occurs just intime to prevent his executioners breaking his legs…Modern authorities agree that Jesus, quite unabashedly, modelled and perhaps contrived his life in accordance with…prophecies, which heralded the coming of a Messiah…And the details of the Crucifixion seem likewise engineered to enact the prophecies of the Old Testament.”

Baigent speculates that the sponge soaked in vinegar offered to Christ might have been soaked in opium or belladonna. “But why proffer a soporific drug? Unless the act of doing so, along with all the other components of the Crucifixion, were elements of a complex and ingenious strategem – a strategem designed to produce a semblance of death when the victim, in fact, was still alive.” (374)

“According to Roman law at the time, a crucified man was denied all burial…Yet Pilate, in a flagrant breach of procedure, readily granted Christ’s boy to Joseph of Arimathea…In the Greek version [of Mark] when Joseph asks for Jesus’s body, he uses the word soma – a word applied only to a living body.” (376)

“the priest-king would seem to have had friends in high places; and these friends, working in collusion with a corrupt, easily bribed Roman Procurator, appear to have engineered a mock crucifixion…an execution was then staged – in which a substitute took the priest-king’s place on the cross, or in which the priest-king himself did not actually die. Towards dusk..a ‘body’ was removed to an opportunely adjacent tomb, from which, a day or two later, it ‘miraculously’ disappeared.” (377)

On Dateline, Baigent rehashed his “Jesus faked the Crucifixion” theory, then discussed new evidence that Christ was writing letters to his followers years after his supposed death. He admitted he has only seen two such letters; the others he “knows” about haven’t been photographed, copied, nor even seen. He’s not actually certain they exist. The letters he did see are squirreled away in the basement of a wealthy European collector who prefers not to be named, Baigent says. So that’s it! That’s the evidence for his book The Jesus Papers. A bit underwhelming, isn’t it?

Significantly, it was pointed out that Baigent’s new book is nearly identical to one written some 40 years ago: The Passover Plot, by Hugh J. Schonfield.

Dan Brown won the lawsuit.

BTW, if you’re interested in messages concealed in artwork, check out my post on a new documentary that claims that the blame for the Catholic abuse scandals lies in subliminal sexual/occult imagery hidden in religious paintings…