The International House of Horror (IHOP)

Today, I feel a little bit like Dr. Sam Loomis. He was the psychiatrist in the classic horror movie Halloween who ran through the streets of Haddonfield telling anyone who would listen that Michael Myers had just escaped from the insane asylum. As he frantically warned the residents, they looked at him as if he were a paranoid crank.

Similarly, I warned in May that something was seriously amiss at Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Grandview, MO, an exurb of Kansas City. Part of my job is monitoring extremist organizations, which brought me to the IHOP’s worship center at midnight, a time I expected the cavernous hall to be practically empty. Instead, I found a far more disconcerting scene.

Here is what I wrote on May 4:

There was a gigantic 24/7 prayer room filled mostly with teenagers, many of whom appeared to be of high school or college age. A band played hypnotic Christian music while the audience of 100 or so youth engaged in a diverse set of worship rituals. Some were seated, as if they were in a traditional church setting. Others danced and skipped, like they were in some sort of fundie rave. One youth twirled a purple fan, as if he were at a gay circuit party. About a quarter of the participants walked in a trance-like state through the aisles muttering to themselves — a practice that I had not seen before. Some of these youths walked non-stop for over an hour, with no signs of stopping to rest.

Beware Grandview and Kansas City. You have an aggressive, militant, angry, fundie cult growing under your nose. It’s time to wake up before you become the next Colorado Springs. Don’t be caught flat footed wondering, “How did this happen?” Consider this your first warning.

My warning wasn’t heeded, and residents of Grandview now appear mystified by the murder of a young woman who belonged to a religious sect with close ties to IHOP.

The Kansas City Star reports that a charismatic youth leader, Tyler Deaton, had persuaded members of a church youth group he started at Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas to move with him to Kansas City, so they could be close to the IHOP.

His group allegedly began drugging and sexually assaulting Deaton’s wife, Bethany, 27, for what they deemed spiritual reasons. Deaton, who identified as an “ex-gay” healed through Jesus Christ, also began having sex with male members of his cult.

Afraid that Bethany was going to reveal the group’s crimes to her therapist, Deaton allegedly ordered one of his followers, Micha Moore, to murder her, and make it appear to be a suicide. The plan seemed to be working until Moore cracked and confessed to authorities.

It would be unfair to portray this episode as representative of what occurs at the IHOP. However, it cannot be denied that this church has become a magnet for extremists with a militant End Times view of the world. From my experience, it is an ideal incubator for young narcissists with Messiah-complexes, like Deaton, who fancy themselves prophets.

In my work with Truth Wins Out, I have seen many bizarre activities on the fringe. Nothing, however, has freaked me out as much as my evening at IHOP. The young people there were nothing short of zombies who looked disconnected from the world. Any ordinary person would walk away from the experience and instinctively know what he or she had witnessed was abnormal, teetering on dangerous.

If this weren’t scary enough, it appears that IHOP is attempting to take over the city of Grandview and turn it into a hotbed of fundamentalism. It appears they are using Glad Heart Realty, which is located in the converted strip mall where the IHOP is based, to help move in followers. In a town of 25,000, it wouldn’t take too many transplants to control the city’s politics.

There may already be allies in government expediting the takeover. Here is what the city wrote about the IHOP coming to town a few years ago:

International House of Prayer leadership intentions are that the new campus ultimately will result in…new activities and excitement for Grandview. Grandview was extremely pleased in the IHOP decision to make the City the movement’s new “home.” Since the decision was made in 2008, the City has seen a rapid influx of IHOP-associated individuals and a “quickening” and positive upswing in hope and optimism for the future.

I’m not sure the rise of a youth sect that led to the murder of Bethany Deaton was the kind of excitement that Grandview had anticipated. With other radical cults now in the area, such as Lou Engle’s The Call and Andy Comisky’s Desert Stream, Grandview residents might want to take a fresh look at IHOP, before everyday seems like Halloween.

  • you got it worng

    hey boy. you have no clue about your words. you better go and repent, and seek the true Father’s heart. before you go off mouthing about men and women of God. Even in Jesus camp of 12 one was a murderer. hey you, you got a Judas on your team too. look around you.

    • Marshall

      Nothing he said in this article is incorrect. I am very familiar with who these people are. I’ve even been to one of their “healing” services, and it is a complete sham. It is, by definition, a cult. And surely you must realize that your threats mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. There was no Jesus, no Judas, no true Father, and no God. Spoiler alert.

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  • Marshall

    I live less than one minute from the IHOP church. Me, Bolten, Mike and Jack used to go to their coffee shop to try to engage in conversation. Every time I go to the gas station across from that church, and see an IHOP security guard getting coffee at the same time as me, I ask him the same question: “Why does a church need armed security guards?” I’ve asked him three or four times now. And yes, they have their own IHOP armed security squad. Btw, I have witnessed, on several occasions, the 24/7 prayer room. It is 100% exactly how this writer described it.

    • mirele

      Next time you do it, you might tell him that only organizations with something to hide have security guards like that. You know, like Scientology. They have lots of security guards and lots to hide.

      • don3345

        Ever been to a Jewish Synagogue or Community center? They have Police and private security and locked doors.

        • Marshall

          I have not. I understand having security and locked doors, but if the security is armed, then that is ridiculous for a supposed non-violent organization.

          • John

            Hey guys, if IHOP is a cult why is it supported by so many pastors in the city (200-300 pastors citywide group, Midwest Ministers Fellowship) and so many evangelical leaders, YWAM, Campus Crusade for Christ……? Check out there website for their credentials. They are doing awesome things there. I have been there many times and have been impressed by the depth in the Bible they teach and the regularity to which they insist people only believe their teachings if they can see it themselves in the Bible. The people pacing in the aisles are meditating on bible verses by talking to God about it or singing about it, it helps to walk sometimes or sometimes legs get stiff. It would probably look weird for somebody to walk in on your quiet time with God too, would they not see you doing similar things in prayer?

          • http://www.facebook.com/chad.golani Chad Golani

            Hey John, if IHOP’s not a cult, why isn’t it supported by scripture

  • David

    Time will show that the actions of Mr. Myers were in stark contrast to the lifestyles promoted at IHOPKC.

    Regarding your experiences in May, apparently, sir, you have never seen anyone truly pray.

    Before you judge people you don’t understand (IHOPKC) ask yourself why there is so much intolerance in the world. Allow me to answer… It’s because of the same type thoughts and actions you entertain. You see something that is different than what you want or expect, and so your immediate reaction is to judge it as wrong.

    BTW, I am not part of IHOPKC or affiliated with them in any way, nor do I plan to be. Just someone that can see through the words you have written down.

    • mirele

      If you look carefully, there are a number of conservative, evangelical Christians out there who strenuously object to Mike Bickle and IHOP. They object to Bickle and IHOP on doctrinal grounds, i.e., Bickle’s teachings and the practices of IHOP are not “biblical.”

      I’d also note that it’s not intolerant to point out organizations which want to exert dominance over their local communities (or the world, for that matter). IHOP-KC wants to do both. Since I do not believe in IHOP’s political world view, I strenuously object to that particular aim of the group.

      My last concern with IHOP is that it appears to be a very controlling organization which brings in a lot of young people and attempts to indoctrinate them as an army of God. The young people fulfilling internships or attending the unaccredited IHOPU are on strict schedules and required to fast (unless they buy their own food) certain days or days of the month. Controlling the milieu and the food intake, limiting the sleep, these are all signs of a cult.

      IHOP reminds me a lot of Scientology’s Sea Org–and no, that’s not a good comparison at all. It’s one IHOP should strive to avoid, but if it did, it wouldn’t be able to control the young people it has within its grasp the way it does today.

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  • Mark

    YOU’RE NOT ALONE IN PERSECUTION
    Luke 23:11 “And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.”
    LUKE 23:11
    All of Christ’s sufferings did not end when He finished His earthly ministry.

    He still takes the persecution of His people personally as is revealed by His statement to Saul on the road to Damascus: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” He didn’t ask Paul why he was persecuting His people. He said, “Why are you persecuting Me?” When we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, it is actually Christ who is being persecuted.

    One of the most trying aspects of persecution is the feeling that God has forsaken you. “If God wanted to, He could stop the persecution, right?

    Therefore, He doesn’t care.” That’s the way the devil tries to make us think.

    However, the Lord is with you in persecution. If you remember this, it will keep you from being discouraged when persecution comes.

    True Christianity is exactly the opposite of the whole-world system. We are heading in a selfless direction, while the world is consumed with self. Jesus teaches us to love, while the world is full of hate. We are suppose to turn the other cheek, while the world takes opportunities to hurt us. The world and Christianity are in conflict. The only reason a Christian would not suffer persecution is if he is heading in the same direction as an unbeliever. When we go God’s way, we will bump into the devil.

    Christ is still suffering persecution today when His people are persecuted.

    He will continue to do so until the establishment of His physical kingdom.

  • Cheryl Preston

    Well I can say that I have listened to the worship and what this man calls a hypnotic state is people feeling the Presence of Almighty God. I was in a church where His presence was so strong that people walked, or were in the floor or on their knees. It is called the ANointing.