The Strong City Cult – Starring Michael Travesser as the self acclaimed Messiah
What is it that drives certain people to proclaim themselves as God? Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated by opportunistic, sexual predators who play with our souls; our mind to feed onto our bodies? The case at hand is the tale of one such predator; Wayne Bent aka Michael Travesser; the leader of the Strong City Cult who managed to dupe a decent number of people into thinking that he’s God’s son; The Messiah who was ordered by God to sleep with naked virgins.
An internet research alone will reveal thousands of active cults engaging a great mass of people into delusional beliefs. A cult could have a positive connotation, such as a fan group, i.e. Iglesia Maradoniana (Maradonian Church) or a negative connotation, i.e. extreme religious groups, like Al Qaeda.
Michael Travesser (Wayne Bent), 67 was the leader of a cult group (Strong City Cult) of the latter kind; a self-acclaimed Messiah who had been spreading false prophecies of the Judgment Day. Bent had predicted that the world would end on October 31st, 2007, but obviously that did not happen. What happened before and after follows:
The Strong City Cult; also known as the Lord Our Righteousness Church, was based out of Travesser Park in New Mexico. The leader; Wayne Bent, known in the church as Michael Travesser claims to have conversed with God in the year 2000, when God told him that he is ‘The Messiah’. Since then Bent has been stating; “I am the embodiment of God. I am divinity and humanity combined”. Abusing this self-proclaimed position, he has been having sex with several women in his Church; married and unmarried virgins; including his own daughter-in-law to gain control over his followers. In his defense:
Bent claimed that as part of his being the Messiah he was told to sleep with seven virgins to mark the destruction of the earth. Two young girls first came to him, soon followed by five others, two of whom were underage. Bent said that God told the girls to come to him.
Observe the video below: The End of the World Cult, Part 3 of 6
Following Oct 31st, 2007, when Bent’s prediction turned unsuccessful; members of his Church ended their two-week fast and their website was no longer active. Then on May 6th, 2008 Cult leader, Wayne Bent was arrested and charged with:
Three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, said Sgt. Bobbie Long of the Clayton Police Department.Bent has acknowledged having sex with followers — including his daughter-in-law — and lying naked with virgins. He said the virgins asked for sex, but he refused.
Wayne Bent was convicted on December 15th, 2008:
On one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was found not guilty of a second charge of criminal sexual contact with a minor, having shared a bed with her, consensually and without intercourse. On Dec 30th, Judge Gerald Baca imposed the maximum sentence of 18 years but suspended eight years. He will have to serve at least 8½ years before becoming eligible for release.
Seems like a bad fairy tale come true; the protagonist turned out to be his own antagonist; Wayne Bent. Too bad he didn’t see it coming in his interactions with God. Let’s hope his followers can find another short route to Paradise; nude beaches maybe?
Morale of the Story:
The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. Richard David Bach