I am a Marine gunnery sergeant stationed in Yuma, Ariz. When I arrived here in March of 2006, I took over as a supervisor for an office of about 10 Marines. Almost immediately upon my arrival, one of the Marines who worked for me started aggressively suggesting I go with him to Generations Church. I didn't want to, and I told him so. Although I made my feelings about being recruited clear, it didn't stop him from using his aggressive recruiting tactics on other Marines who arrived for duty in my office.
At first, I didn't think much of it; I figured that if a Marine wants to go to this church, then he/she could. However, within a couple of months other Marines in my office approached me because they were beginning to feel "harassed" and "pressured" into attending Generations Church. I immediately put a stop to all church recruitment activity within the office.
The Marine who was bent on recruiting members for his church eventually did get a newly arrived PFC to join Generations.
This Marine began to have financial difficulties that caused me some concern. Although the Marine maintained that he would be ok and that he would be taken care of, his finances were suffering. I made arrangements for the Marine to get professional budget and financial counseling, which he attended and later indicated was beneficial.
Eventually, my discussions with the Marine turned to his tithing behaviors and his feelings toward giving money to God. When I inquired how much money he was giving to Generations Church, the Marine explained that he tithed 10 percent of his gross income. I then asked him how much that came out to be, and he said that he gave somewhere between $250-$300 per month. When I pointed out that a PFC only makes $1,427 a month (10 percent -- a "tithe" -- of which is equal to $140), he explained that he was supposed to tithe everything that the government gave him ... before taxes.
This is what the government gave him:
- $1,427 for base pay -- this is the actual monthly salary taxable by the IRS.
- $850 (approx.) for housing -- but the government immediately deducted this money because the Marine lived in base housing, so he never even got this money.
- $250 (approx.) for food -- not taxable.
The Marine was basing his "tithe" on the sum of these payments, even though the Marine was never even seeing the $850 for housing in his paycheck. After all taxes and deductions, the Marine took home barely over $800 per month. To me, a tithe of over $250 of a take-home pay of $800 seemed excessive -- it was almost 35 percent of his net pay! Yet, the Marine explained, this is what his church taught him.
I told the Marine that I thought he was paying too much in tithes, and I asked him if I could speak to his pastor about it. The Marine enthusiastically permitted me to speak to the pastor on his behalf, and I made an appointment to do so.
I made an appointment to speak with head pastor Rich Witmer at Generations Church on Aug. 24, 2006. We spoke for almost two hours, and I became increasingly suspicious of the pastor's motives and his theological qualifications. My concern about my Marine's finances and tithing behavior grew into a concern for everyone who attends Generations Church. I recorded the conversation, and have posted portions of it on this Web site as examples of Witmer's UN-Christian and UN-pastorlike attitude, which comprise my concern for those affected and sucked into this predatory "church."
This Web site is the result of my quest to expose what I believe is a cult that preys on young Marines and civilians in the Yuma community.
I started on MySpace, where the head pastor himself, Rich Witmer, publicly berated me, called me names, and made threats against my Marine Corps career. His actions and words (and those of many members of the cult) are not only immature, but they are also very un-Christian. Examples of what they have said are located throughout this Web site.
My goal is simple: I aim to increase awareness of the cult-like behavior of Generations Church.
I am more than happy to answer your questions. However, I will not entertain silly and rude comments containing nonsensical and lengthy Bible quotations from cult members.