The process church of the final judgment


The Process Church of Tthe Final Judgment holds a special place in occult lore. Supposedly borne of disaffected Scientologists and later accused of being the inspiration for both the Manson family and the Son Of Sam shootings, the Church faded from view in the 1970s. Now however it is back where it belongs, on the World Wide Web alongside every other crazy religion.

The Process Church combined community activism with a peculiar set of beliefs: Jehovah, Christ, Satan and Lucifer were not enemies, but all equal parts of Creation. These four personalities were all venerated, though only the 'good guys' were truly worshipped at first. Like many cults that formed in the late 1960s, the Processeans depended on both youthful enthusiasm and cultish practices of separation, unquestioned beliefs that they were the chosen ones, and an apocalyptic worldview. The Church's use of Scientology 'techniques' in order to determine the subconscious drives of members (drives personified by the four archetypes), and its misuse of Alfred Adler's view of the subconscious, helped keep members in line while 'The Teacher' Robert DeGrimston and 'The Oracle' Mary Anne Maclean waited for the end of the world. The world didn't end, but the 1960s did, with the Manson murders. Manson was originally associated with the Process by several writers (he contributed a meditation on Death to a Process newsletter), most notably in The Family: The Manson Group And Its Aftermath (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1971), a book about Manson written by Ed Sanders, and now available in a revised form as The Family: The Story Of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion (New York: Panther, 1973).

By the early 1970s, the group was beginning to collapse in on itself. DeGrimston's increasing fascination with group sex, a neo-military social hierarchy and the increasing importance of Satan in his writings, alienated many unsuspecting Processeans, and Satan really made fundraising difficult as well. Predictably, it was DeGrimston's exploration of Satanic/Luciferian archetypes which attracted the most interest from critics, although Processean philosophy was closer to the Jesus Freak phenomena than neo-religious Satanic institutions like the Church of Satan or Temple of Set. The best scholarly study of this period is Satan's Power: A Deviant Psychotherapy Cult by William Sims Bainbridge (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1978).

DeGrimston was ousted and a new group arose from the ashes. The Founders kept going until the late 1970s, but were little more than a newsletter. The David Berkowitz slayings of 1977 didn't help the splinter group, as both the Process and a supposed Satanic fringe group were implicated in the murders. This worldview was widely promoted by Maury Terry's The Ultimate Evil: The Truth About the Cult Murders: Son of Sam & Beyond (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1999), a sensationalistic book written at the height of the Satanic Ritual Abuse rumour panic in 1987, and later released in a revised edition. Terry was succesfully sued by the Solar Lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) for being erroneously linked to David Berkowitz and Charles Manson.

There is no evidence that The Process had anything to do with David Berkowitz or the Son Of Sam murders, outside of Berkowitz's own confused and contradictory testimony.

Today, the Church is back, as the largely secular Society Of Processeans. Interest in the group has been bouyed by magician Genesis P-Orridge's sampling of DeGrimston in the Psychic TV classic track 'Smile", which enabled Processean aesthetics to subtly infiltrate the Industrial subculture. The Society Of Processeans group is secular (having swept Satan under the rug), but still quotes DeGrimston liberally. Their projects include Safe Houses for battered women and Retrieval Networks which solicit donations from official nonprofits. This may sound good at first, but some hallmarks of a cult are isolating vulnerable people from the world at large, and depending on the "comfort of strangers."