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The tale of Tyler and Bethany Deaton

Timothy Kincaid

November 21st, 2012

The International House of Prayer is a church in Kansas City which hosts a 24 hours per day, seven days per week prayer service. They have a decidedly dominionist bent and are affiliated with some of the more radical (and definitely anti-gay) elements of conservative Christianity including Lou Engle , Michael Brown, the Brownsville Revival, and the Kansas City Prophets movement.

One consistent element that seems to be present in all of those who move in this circle is a hands-on opposition to homosexuality. Lou Engel held one of his The Call rallies to support Proposition 8 and his son was part of an effort to have “spiritual confrontation” in the Castro in San Francisco. He also is a stealth supporter of Uganda’s “Kill-the-gays” bill. Michael Brown is a voice in Charlotte, NC, not only in opposition to equality but apparently to the peaceful assembly of gay people. He annually leads a group of red-shirted protesters to engage in “spiritual warfare” through prayer against Gay Pride events. And Brown had, for several years, been a regular presenter at the Love Won Out ex-gay conferences.

Mike Bickle, the founder of the International House of Prayer, is also complicit in the effort to execute gay people in Uganda. Earlier this year, he played a video at his church which lauded one of the bill’s principle supporters. (Talk to Action)

But today, Friday April 27th, 2012, IHOP is slated, according to a news release from ChristianNewsWire, to publicly screen a movie-length video featuring a Ugandan religious leader, Julius Peter Oyet, who has stated that “even animals are wiser than homosexuals.” and has openly called for practicing homosexuals to be hunted down and imprisoned or even executed.

Oyet even claims (see video at end of story) to have played a central role in a pending Ugandan bill, the internationally condemned Anti Homosexuality Bill, designed to make that happen; in a 2010 interview with French journalist Dominic Mesmin, Oyet stated that he had served on a committee that picked MP David Bahati to introduce the bill in Uganda’s parliament and had a special government commission to rally public support behind the bill, which has been internationally denounced – including by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hlllary Clinton.

The House of Prayer movement, being dominionist in ideology, sees homosexuality as a battleground in their war to take over the world for their religion — one in which the forces of good and evil are clearly defined and one in which God’s power is particularly evident. Take, for example, the opening “testimony” from the International House of Prayer, Atlanta:

Delivered of Homosexuality, 10/3/10

For as long as I can remember, I have lived as a homosexual. I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. I was the youngest child and my siblings were very rebellious. When I was in 7th grade, I made the decision that I was gay and realized that the world around me really accepted gay people. I got saved two years ago, but I walked away from the Lord this past summer. I was pretty much living for myself and I knew that I was hurting God’s heart by living a homosexual lifestyle. During the Awakening Services, God really romanced my heart and gave me revelation that He loves me no matter what. Last week, I was completely delivered from homosexuality! Praise the Lord!

It’s important to note that the key word here is “delivered”. To those who espouse IHOP theology, homosexuality has a demonic element, influence or oppression.

As part of their outreach efforts, the International House of Prayer established IHOPU, the International House of Prayer University, which equips Bible students with a hardcore dominionist view of Christianity. And it is without doubt that the theological teaching of this group heavily stress deliverance from homosexuality and that this is not only God’s intent for a person so tempted, but to do otherwise would be a victory for Satan.

Meanwhile, in Texas, young Tyler Deaton was attending Southwest University, a private Methodist college. He was charismatic and engaging and had earned the respect of fellow students by struggling with and overcoming Satan’s influences. (kansascity.com)

One of his group’s stark positions on Scripture was that homosexuality was wrong. Deaton’s stance against it weighed heavily because members said he had “struggled with being gay.”

“He struggled with it, but he overcame it,” a member of his group at Southwestern said. “It was a victory.”

Over the course of his studies Deaton gathered around him a group of students that were drawn to his personality. He also became intrigued with the International House of Prayer and began trips to Kansas City with his entourage to participate in their worship. Eventually he and several in his fellowship of like-minded students moved to Kansas City to enroll in IHOPU.

Among Deaton’s crowd that migrated to IHOP was a girl named Bethany. She had been home-schooled and was quiet and into service. Like the others, Bethany became part of IHOP, attending a six-month internship at IHOPU in 2009 before going on to become a registered nurse working in a local hospital.

And Tyler began to seek to increase his influence at the church (IHOP statement)

After Deaton graduated from IHOPU in May 2012 he began to show interest in our [Forerunner Christian Fellowship] small groups. That summer our FCF small groups came under a new director, who formed a temporary, think-tank-type discussion group made up of volunteers, who met to discuss ideas on how to improve small groups. Deaton attended this group, though he made it very clear to our small groups director that his independent Bible study group would not be connected in any way. On one occasion in October 2012 Deaton facilitated a breakout discussion of seven or eight people.

Deaton was listed as a divisional coordinator in IHOP’s preliminary small groups info packet. (A “mistake” that has now been “corrected”).

It was a joyous time in their group and with friends back in Texas when Tyler and Bethany became engaged this past May. Perhaps finding in this engagement a sense that he was becoming the “real” him, the one God sees, Tyler took to his blog to say.

In the last blog, we discussed how to arrive at true personality, namely by not defining oneself prematurely and by allowing all qualities to go through refinement through interaction with Jesus over a longer period of time. The desire to find “true personality” and not be stifled by premature definitions is a great and good enough reason to not define yourself or those around you prematurely by certain qualities or traits. It is a great reason to sign up for a journey of transformation instead of a premature self definition. However, there is in my estimation, a still more glorious reason why we are to aim to not box ourselves or others in with, “I am this or I am not that” but are instead to seek a long process of near limitless expansion. That reason is simple but breathtaking: we are to be imitators of God.

The young couple married in August but it was not a lengthy marriage. On October 30th, Bethany was discovered in the back of her van with a bag over her head and by her side a bottle of pills, and a suicide note.

My name is Bethany Deaton. I chose this evil thing. I did it because I wouldn’t be a real person and what is the point of living if it is too late for that?

I wish I had chosen differently a long time ago. I knew it all and refused to listen. Maybe Jesus will still save me.

Everyone was saddened by the tragedy of a newlywed, only 27, being so distraught that she took her own life. But this sadness took on a new depth on the 9th of this month.

That is the day that a member of Deaton’s prayer group and an IHOPU student, confessed that he had killed Bethany. And had done so at Tyler’s instruction. (ABC)

Micah Moore, 23, last week confessed to killing Deaton, the wife of the community’s religious leader, Tyler Deaton, 26. Moore told police that he and others in the group’s shared home had sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton, and that he had been instructed by Tyler to kill her, according to police records.

“Moore stated that Tyler Deaton told him to kill Bethany Deaton, saying he knew Micah had it in him to do it,” a police report by detectives read. “Moore said he told Tyler Deaton he had killed Bethany after it was done.”

Moore told detectives that he had filmed the alleged sexual assaults on his iPad, and that the group was afraid Bethany would tell her therapist about the assaults. Moore also said there were poems written about the alleged sexual assaults.

Court documents revealed that they had given Bethany the prescription anti-psychotic drug Seroquel, which has the side-effect of somnolence, before engaging in sexual assault.

The sexual activity was not limited to Bethany.

The Deatons and Moore lived in a house with at least four other men in Kansas City, three of whom told police that they all had sexual relationships with Tyler Deaton. A fourth said he felt “groomed” to fit into the group of men, and that Tyler Deaton had once gotten into bed with him and held him.

“He stated that he realized now that Tyler was attempting to make him a member of their sexual group,” the detective’s report said.

Another roommate said Tyler Deaton had told him that the sexual activity “was part of a religious experience,” according to the report.

So far, only Moore has been arrested. Whether it turns out that Bethany’s murder was at Tyler’s command or that Moore was delusional, the verification of the sexual activity may prove to be a black eye on the International House of Prayer and has invited scrutiny and revealed additional concerns.

And I can’t help but note that yet again we are reminded that the sex drive is powerful and that if we do not direct it into healthy relationships but instead seek to dam it up, it can result in twisted harmful behavior. And Bethany’s murder might have been avoided had Tyler Deaton not been convinced that he was required to struggle against his orientation.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
November 21st, 2012 | LINK

This poor young woman was yet another victim of homohatred.

And this very sick young man will be held up by the homohaters as an example of everything that is wrong with homosexuality, while the true culprits continue on with their homohating ways.

Sick and sad.

jpeckjr
November 21st, 2012 | LINK

Separatism from general society and external systems of accountability.

Secrecy about internal practices.

Certainty about what God wants for all people, not only their adherents.

Hubris, an over-developed sense of our group’s power and influence.

All characteristics of abusive and corrupt religion, regardless of which diety it worships, or which group it hates.

iDavid
November 21st, 2012 | LINK

I have read a few articles covering this story and this one is the most complete picture. Great reporting.
This is cult activated mind control at it’s seediest and most debilitating. Shades of Manson come to mind. I could see Deaton getting indicted as an accomplice.

Bruce Wilson
November 21st, 2012 | LINK

“Gender transcendent” theology at Mike Bickle’s IHOP: in bizarre contrast to IHOP’s virulently antigay behavior as an institution, Mike Bickle teaches male IHOP acolytes to “transcend” their gender and become spiritual lovers of Jesus. But, warns Bickle, “We are NOT to think of kissing Jesus on the mouth.”

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/11/21/94137/183

tristram
November 21st, 2012 | LINK

“One consistent element that seems to be present in all of those who move in this circle is a hands-on opposition to homosexuality.” Not to make light of a terrible situation, but I have to commend your phrasing. We well know what a lot of these guys had their hands on. No homo!

Norm!
November 21st, 2012 | LINK

Maybe I’m just naive, but what evidence is there that Deaton ordered his wife’s murder? It seems prosecutors will need more evidence than the confessed killer’s accusation to prove beyond reasonable doubt. The scenario that Deaton ordered the murder to protect his alleged cult-leadership power and secret gay sex commune would seem hard to prove. Could the murderer have killed the victim out of a more typical rape or affair?

Also, why wasn’t a thorough autopsy conducted on the victim the first time? It seems to me that suicide through self suffocation would be so unusual as to warrant a more thorough investigation.

Michael C
November 21st, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, Thank you for your in-depth reporting. I do worry that your last paragraph oversimplifies potentially extreme and complex emotional problems with Deaton. To shout out “penises and vaginas!” as if it explains away this tragedy seems reckless. It is evident that the denial of his sexuality was harmful to him and to those around him but “ex-gays” don’t normally form crazy sex cults and murder their beards. These kids were an extra kind of nuts.

Reed Boyer
November 23rd, 2012 | LINK

TK – What a twisted case this seems thus far. I almost want to bathe or shower after reading this account. Sick, sick, sick.

P.S. Anent “Penises and vaginas.” Is that what “sex drive” in relation to “healthy relationships” (and repression, frustration, feelings of failure and other EMOTIONAL factors) conjures? An organ recital? “Penises and vaginas?” Say it ain’t so, Mr. Peterson.

PatC
November 24th, 2012 | LINK

I have spent time at IHOP. The truth is there are a lot of wounded young men there. A lot of them have practiced homosexuality in their lives leading up to there ‘exodus’ to IHOP from scattered parts of the country. They agree with the ideology that homosexuality is ‘sin’ and believe IHOP is: 1) a safe place for them to be 2) the place to be ‘delivered.’ What IHOP and these young men are not doing is openly addressing the fact that there are a lot of gay people there who are practicing homosexuality when ‘nobody’ is ‘watching.’ Its like an alcoholic moving to Cancun to get sober without being treated for alcoholism. The cure for an alcoholic is total abstinence right? Half true. We must be rid of the obsession to drink. How, Jesus right? Almost there. This is where we stop, we accept Jesus believe we’re cured of the obsession but never actually got to the root of the condition at all , we just treated the symptom…this is where IHOP has zero experience at all AND cannot receive help with this until they are able to see/admit the problem…that the leadership has fell short of finding and healing the root of their own issues because the religious spirit has them so entangled in the lie that the answer lies in will power or hard work or religion instead of a deep rooted relationship with the man Yeshua’s own personal (his)story of each and every moment in our very personal lives that have completely taken over our (imagination) mind [gr. dianoia] to have led up to this sad situation we are in now….what is needed before we move into what their answer is (spirituality) is a complete, thorough, honest inventory of the entire story starting at conception and before that from generation to generation that we are paying for today….

Timothy Kincaid
November 26th, 2012 | LINK

PatC

Gay people do not “practice homosexuality” whether anyone is watching or not. Not does one practice heterosexuality.

One’s orientation is an aspect of their person whether a virgin or a slut or committed lifelong to one person.

m deaton
December 7th, 2013 | LINK

If you believe in the Holy Bible, you know that being queer is an abomination. it is unholy and a sin. To allow any other interpretation, would be to change the meaning of the Holy Bible. This cult is about as far away from the Holy Bible as you can get.

Richard Rush
December 7th, 2013 | LINK

m deaton,

If you believe in the Holy Bible, you should know that you are living in a fantasy-land. This cult is about as far away from reality as you can get.

Ben In Oakland
December 7th, 2013 | LINK

Miss deaton: Eating shrimp is an abomination. Judging others is a sin.

specks and beams, missy.

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