It’s been brought to our attention that COG groups, UCG in particular, could be charged with abuse of elders, as their lack of consideration for senior citizen members may violate state and federal laws.
Elder mistreatment, or elder abuse or neglect, is any action that harms or puts a vulnerable senior citizen at risk — whether intended or not — inflicted by a caregiver or other authority figure of trust. Elder mistreatment can be perpetrated by family members, friends, peers, caretakers or strangers. This broad definition could certainly pertain to COG pastors, whose decisions can impact the lives and comfort of all members, including the elderly.
In the COG, this could inadvertently become a huge issue as cult leaders usually like to treat members in ways roughly akin to dirt and often take advantage of and defraud the average follower. The church’s rapidly-aging demographics make such abuse even more egregious, common and potentially illegal.
There are a couple federal laws that aim to protect the elderly from abuse, neglect and exploitation and more legislation has been considered by Congress. Pretty much every state has some law against elder abuse as well.
So how might the COG be screwing over the elderly? UCG, for example, has reportedly setup restricted FOT sites where seniors are expected to attend and flip the bill for their stays, instead of being able to stay with family members. Deborah had this to say across multiple comments:
Perhaps a more pertinent question would be to inquire about some of these new restricted Feast sites of UCG’s where seniors on fixed incomes are forced to register and pay for rooms potentially meals at a hotel outside of their budgets to attend a required festival?
Can anyone say, “Elder Abuse?”
If you are an elder or if you have an elderly family member or friend who is being misused and/or socially isolated by someone in an authoritative or pseudo-authoritative position, don’t hesitate to report the matter to the DOA.
It’s absolutely ridiculous. If we want to take our aged parents or relatives on fixed incomes to the Feast with us on our dime, that’s our business, and they should not be subjected to getting into trouble with these corporate chiefs for having attended the wrong group.
And, they should not be forced to attend sites and stay at pricey hotels picked out by these corporate guys that are outside of their limited, fixed incomes. It’s time to take back our Church and send a clear message once and for all to these corporatists – hands off!
Meddling is among a COG pastor’s favorite hobbies, so this doesn’t surprise. They might think it’s an awesome idea to send elders off to Senior Citizens Camp come Feast time in a misguided attempt to lump them together with their peers and somehow cater to their needs. But if they are being isolated from their families and support networks and being forced, despite their fixed incomes, to pay for it all themselves, that is indeed abusive.
We usually avoid attributing to malice what can be attributed to stupidity, but in the case of COG leaders, their unwillingness to admit mistakes or see past their own nose could make this an issue unsolvable via complaints. Getting the authorities involved seems like a better option. As Deborah suggests, suspected elder abuse should be reported to the proper authorities. If you know or are related to an elderly COG member being placed in an exploitative situation, don’t hesitate to place a call to the appropriate department.
A comprehensive list of state phone numbers can be found here.
Reggie, who claims to be a UCG employee, says this in response:
Employee of UCG here. There are NO mandatory Elder Feast sites. We do not force elders, seniors, or even señors to attend any site. If they are unable, or if it is a hardship, we encourage them to stay home. We will be broadcasting church services everyday for those that can’t attend. (For free in case you didn’t know)
We do have small Feast sites set up for those that are unable to travel far, and we do require that those attending to be a senior or a family member of a senior. Why? Because those sites are not set up for large numbers. They are not required to stay at the hotel, nor required to eat the food, or pay for it. (There choice in case you didn’t know)
We have our own response to him in the comments.