Tim and Sarah Gayman Discuss Growing Up in the Anti-Semitic Christian Identity Movement
SARAH: I wasn't allowed to. One of Tim's sisters substitute teaches in a local town, and maybe some of the other women do part-time work, but it is definitely frowned upon. I was not allowed to do anything, and I was bored out of my mind. They just wanted me to get pregnant and have babies constantly.
They all live like 20 miles from the nearest town and they promote home birthing. Really, you're not allowed to have children in the hospital, or at least it's really looked down upon.
At one point, they tried to force me to have a home birth. With Jared, our second child, [Dan's wife] Deloris refused to take me to the hospital. She said, "Get into the bathtub, you can have this baby at home. You can do it."
Tim came home and I just looked at him. I probably gave him a desperate look, like, "Please help me!" She finally said okay after Tim said, "Let's get her to the hospital." I almost gave birth in the van — I had Jared within 30 minutes of getting to the hospital. And they were furious with me.
IR: What about other medical emergencies?
TIM: Well, the medical profession is looked down upon because...
SARAH: ... it's Jewish.
TIM: That, and they feel like doctors don't really heal, that they just write a prescription but are not really healing people.
IR: Did these beliefs affect you directly?
SARAH: I had sick children and they refused to take me to the doctor. I finally got one of Tim's aunts to take me with Jared, when he was a baby. It turned out he had a double ear infection and the doctor was ready to hospitalize him, he was so sick.
Their idea was if you take him to the hospital then the doctor might do something bad. Like they don't believe in immunizations.
IR: Both Dan Gayman and the Church of Israel generally seem very well financed. How did they find enough money to continue growing?
TIM: My dad would roll out the red carpet for people with money. One guy named Gerry Gentry gave something like $500,000 in a matter of six years, to the church, to different things.
And there are countless others who have given. There is one man who was very faithful and would come every feast day and even between feast days. He would give about $900 a month to the church.
SARAH: There was this very elderly man from California named Harry Uridge. He'd been saving his money his whole life and getting the Watchman from Dan. He went out there right before he died. Dan does not value older people, and this man was almost completely deaf, but Dan realizes that this is a big tither.
Dan sent his brother to buy earphones for this man right away, so he could hear the sermon. Next thing I know, Harry is living there with one of Tim's uncles. He's buying tools for them, buying farm equipment for him. Then he's buying farm equipment and tools for the church.
Then he's buying land and he's putting it in some kind of trust. He's giving land to Tim's brother and Tim's parents and Tim's uncle.
Then Harry moves in with another couple, he dies and leaves all his money to the church. And so they build this big building and they call it "Harry's Ark" for about a year before they call it something else. This man was just used.
IR: In the end, both of you decided to leave. How did that occur?
SARAH: I left before Tim, and it was very, very tough. But there were things that had bothered me a lot. There was a family who came to the church who had two Native American kids who were dark-skinned. They were the most sweet, obedient, well-mannered kids. After a while, Deloris told them that they couldn't bring their children any more.
And I just agonized over that. I could not believe it. I realized that's what these people are all about. I was really having a crisis, spiritually and emotionally. It made me really examine what I believed.
Dan was saying to Tim, "Do you think she has demons? Maybe she's having a nervous breakdown or is a schizophrenic." There was no basis for it, except that I was real unhappy. But that's the way they are. What they can't control, they destroy. All women who disagree with them are insane or possessed by demons.
It was a slower process for Tim because he'd been raised in it. But after I moved out, he joined me in Springfield, where we lived in a liberal neighborhood with Jewish families. They were nice normal people, and they weren't going to sacrifice our children. Tim got to be friends with a black guy and a Jewish guy he worked with. So we both changed.
You are sometimes forced by your circumstances to realize that these other people are human beings.
IR: And how did the church react?
TIM: When somebody leaves, they just trash that person.
SARAH: A lot of people who have left the church are real intimidated and scared. I know I was. I remember thinking Tim's dad was going to hire a hit man to take care of me.
IR: Do you think now that any of those fears were realistic?
TIM: They just want to scare and harass us. They might talk like that, but they have got too much to lose — too much land, too many assets, that they would lose if they had a bunch of people with guns storming around there and the authorities came out.
They want for it all to look legitimate. But the reality is a little different. It's like, "I'm a Christian and I know who I am and I hate everybody."