By Gregory Reid <email@example.com>
May 13, 2002
Many of you have never heard of the name Lauren Stratford. She was a war hero of a bloody battle a decade ago, a soldier dedicated to saving victims of satanic ritual abuse. No one suffered more. No one suffered braver. No one suffered better.
In the early 1990's, our national network of law enforcement, probation, therapeutic and pastoral workers were working 24/7 in the war against satanic crime and the occult. We had burned a significant trail and saw no defeat in sight. Then, a soldier fell. She was not hit by enemy fire. She was felled by our own butchering, journalistic wolves in sheep's clothing - Cornerstone Magazine, Jon Trott, Bob and Gretchen Passantino. With one article, they fairly destroyed her ministry and her life. But not completely. The test of a real Christian is how they react to evil, malicious, ungodly attacks on their character, motives and faith.
In this, no Christian I have ever met stood the test better. Despite the unbelievably evil attacks on her, she never stopped loving God, nor lost faith in Jesus, nor stopped ministering to the hurting.
Lauren's book Satan's Underground was a major blow to the powers of darkness. Her testimony of child abuse and satanic crime was an astonishing message of the power of God's love to heal. It was a book she was reluctant to write. It was destined to be read by pastors and survivors worldwide. Soon she became a reluctant spokesperson for victims everywhere. But she used each opportunity, interview and talk show to tell people about her beloved Savior.
I saw her appearance with Johanna Michaelsen on Oprah Winfrey, opposite Michael Aquino, head of the Temple of Set satanic church. He was NOT happy. When Lauren testified to Jesus saving her life, the look in his eyes was frightening. Was this where it all began? For within a year, the devastating article from Cornerstone was released. I was stunned - first, by its sarcastic, biting tone - but more, of the totally contradictory portrait of Lauren I had gotten from her book. They painted her as mentally disturbed - unstable - a manipulator who destroyed people's lives.
I KNOW disturbed people - I've worked with them all my life. A disturbed person could NOT have written that book!
So I called her. We talked for a long time. She was sane, loving and full of the Spirit of God. How could the things they wrote be true?
I did not ask for her explanation of the discrepancies in her story the article brought out. Frankly I thought the whole piece was nothing but "bait and switch" - "Well, these people said this, (we can't tell you who they are) so voila! she's a fraud!" Of course her family members claimed she lied. They were the ones she said abused her. I've never heard an abuser say, "Oh yes, of course we abused her." I wasn't buying it. I know firsthand how the media - and media wannabes - twist the truth. More, I KNOW a fake survivor story from a real one. I AM a survivor. Lauren was as real as you could be.
There is so much about what happened that people don't know. While the writers of the article portrayed themselves as sympathetic, caring "truth lovers", the reality was starkly different. They harassed Lauren. Their lackeys showed up at her home church, "demanding to talk to her" or they wouldn't leave. Pastors were pressured into taking a secret oath not to tell Lauren about what they were going to do until after it was too late for her to defend herself or even prepare. One of the Cornerstone people, in a phone conversation with Lauren - while she wept and pleaded for them not to contact an ill and elderly aunt - screamed, "Shut up and listen to me!"
Lauren's weakness was her trust and innocence about the capability of these rabid, agendized individuals of shredding people without a pang of guilt.
She wept. She bled. She didn't understand. She watched in horror as conference after conference she was booked for was canceled after "someone" mailed the Cornerstone packet to the sponsors. She cringed as the article was posted on hundreds of web sites - false memory syndrome sites - and most telling, satanic web sites.
I walked with my dear sister through all of these passages. I watched in awe as she reached out to my own hurting family to heal their wounds suffered through satanic terrorism. And, I personally became the recipient of Lauren's compassion, through the death of my mother, and then, through the consistent phone calls during the illness, and passing, of my father.
A fraud? Don't even DARE tell me that. She was one of the most genuine Christians I ever knew.
The measure of a believer is love. (I Corinthians 13) It is FRUIT that matters. Any objective look at the tactics, terroristic methods, arrogance and heartless pursuit of this little woman by the Passantinos et. al., speaks - no, SCREAMS loudly as to who they are.
As to Lauren, the record is clear. She never wavered. She never recanted one word of her testimony (when it would have benefited her to do so.) She continued to love the wounded, continued to write and be published, and continued to represent her Savior with dignity and truth with all she had left. And she had little left. In the last few years, her health declined and she was in constant pain from her debilitating ATIII blood disease. She had found comfort and purpose in the L.A. Jewish community. She hid herself there, looking for final answers to the mystery of her origins and her life. She wanted only to be left alone. But, quickly, she was discovered by the Passantinos again (did they ever stop watching her?) and they planned another devastating article on her based on flimsy facts and disregard for her need to be alone.
Lauren called me in a tearful panic. A man had shown up at her post office in the town where she had recently moved and had demanded from her postmaster that he give him Lauren's home address. He showed "credentials" but it was still against the law - so he angrily left. The postmaster alerted Lauren.
I suspected Lauren's spiritual stalkers were at it again. That's when I called Bob Passantino and had a two hour blistering conversation with him. He feigned ignorance; rather than lie and say they weren't doing a second article, he just said, "Well, Greg, is there a reason we SHOULD do another article on Lauren?" Two months later Gretchen Passantino called to gather information about the article Bob seemed to deny they were writing. So much for "lovers of truth." Now I understood firsthand how calculated, cruel and SCARY Lauren's adversaries really were. I could not prevent the second article; all I could do is make it VERY clear that if they even dared to get close to Lauren, I would be right there to make them back off.
The article was the last straw for Lauren. She gave up. She got rid of all her files. She began to delete her life in increments; not out of despair, but because she was tired, and in pain, and just wanted to go home. Last summer, Lauren told me she had six months to live. I was in shock - and denial. I could not bear the thought of losing my precious sister, the one who called me "Big brother", although I was sixteen years her junior. We e-mailed frequently; called too infrequently. Then came a letter asking for friends to send a card to her, so she could be comforted by the love of her friends in her final hours. I sent a card and prayed it would comfort her fragile heart.
Her e-mails grew more infrequent. "Where's my big bro? I'm worried about you." So like her; always worried about everyone else. The e-mails stopped. My cousin talked to her; I had sent her the CD of my story; she had heard it, and was proud and impressed at the effort. On April 10th Lauren's dear "Sis" Johanna called me. "Dear brother, I have sad news. Lauren went home to be with the Lord Monday." I wept silent, deep tears.
It was the end of an era. It was the end of so much. But it was a beginning, too. For me, it was a rekindling of my calling. I had been Lauren's "big brother" - her friend - her spiritual bodyguard for so long. Now I was relieved of my commission and bereaved of my precious friend. Lauren's memorial was an extraordinarily holy moment. I drove 800 miles to be part of it and share my heart; it was a promise to her I would keep.
The chapel was filled with friends. Her dear "Pastor Scott" flew in to give the message, a caring godly man who had stood by Lauren when nearly the entire pastoral world abandoned her. The Michaelsens were there. Johanna had been with Lauren when she died; Johanna, Lauren's dear "sis" who was perhaps closer to Lauren than anyone in her life; her loss is profound. Lauren's niece Tristie spoke about her Aunt, the only person in her family, she said, who had love. This was the niece that had not met her Aunt Lauren until AFTER the Cornerstone article; a niece who had been abused by Lauren's abusers; a niece who had a court order to keep Lauren's family away from her son. The same relatives Cornerstone painted as innocent victims of Lauren's "fabricated story." I am thankful Lauren had one relative to come forward and say, "I believe you because they did it to me too."
So many came forward to testify of Lauren's profound effect on their lives - her compassion and love - her commitment to Jesus. She never really knew in life how dearly she was loved. She does now. It is difficult to know how to close this tribute to my dear friend. I have been reenergized by her departure - renewed in the fight for abused children and victims of satanic and sexual crimes. Renewed in my determination to bear witness to the truth, and the power of Jesus' love to heal.
I will miss my precious sister deeply. I will miss calling her and hearing her sweet, "Hi, Big Brother!" I'll miss our get-togethers at Marie Callendar's. It will feel lonely going on without her. But I, and those who remain, must continue this noble fight - to honor this fallen soldier, this pioneer - this wonderful Gift given to us for such a brief moment. There was no one like her. May her grain of wheat - her surrendered life on the altar of God - produce a harvest of souls far beyond even the thousands she reached for Jesus in her life.
Goodbye, sweet Lauren. Thank you for showing me the heart of a true servant. Thank you for letting me serve YOU. We will finish this battle well, and we will not forget the price you paid for it. Thank you - for giving to the Lord.
a) Satanism, Sexual Abuse and the Church: Out of Touch, Out of Time
b) Ritual Abuse, MPD and the Church
c) A Survivor's Heart
d) The New Inquisition
e) Links for Survivors and Helpers:
“Write, `Blessed are they who die in the Lord from now on.'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.” - Revelation 14:13.
Lauren Stratford 'Observations' (May 5, 2005)
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