The Maze of Reach Out Trust
Maureen Davies started Reach Out trust [ROT] as a means of making herself important and making lots of money. Much to her surprise she did both. However, ROT is a house divided against itself. Davies took an unequivocal stand against Dungeons and Dragons and its consequences. Reach Out Has turned against its former dominatrix and tells the world they got it badly wrong and they are sorry Davies ever said such a silly thing.
In amazing exposes written by two of the children of a Reach Out Super-Star, Davies is shown to have held heretical views about the role playing game she blamed for murders and suicides.
Speaking about HRH Prince Philip and his Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, a programme designed to give purpose to Britain’s youth, Davies askes her audience:
‘Did you know that “Dungeons and Dragons” is part of the curriculum on the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme?’
She goes on to say,
‘Dungeons and Dragons […] is really witchcraft or Satanism dressed up and called fantasy [and is] ‘just a way of promoting witchcraft.’
[Davies, Public lecture, Report on American trip].
She is not done at that, but extends the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons to include,
‘The dangers and the murders and suicides which are now taking place because of Dungeons and Dragons.’
[Davies, public lecture, How to Deal with the Occult in your Area].
Whether Davies is right or wrong about the power of a role playing game to snare people into being the eternal slaves of Satan and his demonic host, thus robbing them of their place in heaven with Mrs Davies and her cult members, or propel them to murder or suicide is not relevant here. What catches our attention is the turnabout by Reach Out Trust that we find has chased its own tail to the point where it is facing the opposite way to its founder, and we need to know why it has taken this step in a direction that Maureen Davies would undoubtedly consider apostasy. Has Reach Out Trust fallen foul of the occult forces it was for so long at pains to turn us from engaging?
Reach Out Trust’s website, making their case for occult dangers accessed through D&D Trying to find further information from ROT about witchcraft and Satanism, both of which are linked according to their publications, I find they have closed down. My browser says:
Sorry, the website shopping.reachouttrust.org cannot be found
However, in a 1780 degrees tunabout on the subject of Dungeons & Dragons ROT’s website now claims Davies and ROT was WRONG!
Dungeons & Dragons: This is the original of many fantasy games. Fantasy games are not necessarily wrong; they indeed might be part of our growing-up process. There certainly can be a problem, though, with any game that becomes an obsession. However, another major problem is that many open the awareness to the occult and are therefore not harmless.
Letters to a national Games Magazine a few years ago, after we had written an article for them, showed that some gamers were aware of the dangers of the occult, whereas others simply wanted to dismiss the whole idea as nonsense. I am sure that the situation is the same today. [ROT website article, “The Occult – 2]
So, Occult demonic forces lurk in the shadows waiting to capture the poor souls that play D&D, whoever they are. Even, we must assume, if they are the trusted scions of important persons in the ROT organisation. Including, even, the sons of Mike Thomas! More of them later.
‘The occult contains a large spectrum of practices. Some, at the lower end of the scale, and this is where many begin, seem harmless but they could be a doorway that leads down a path taking you deeper into the occult. Whatever the situation we must remember that Satan does not play games, if we dabble or play with areas that are his, then there must be a confrontation at some point.’ [ROT website, ‘The Occult’]
ROT also warns about the danger of levitating!
No doubt, they have actually seen people all over the United Kingdom floating around using their occult demonic power to overcome God’s law of gravity.
The witches of olden times, too, were popularly supposed to make use of some occult mode of locomotion in their nocturnal travels… As a spiritualistic phenomenon levitation of the human body became known at an early stage of the movement, being recorded in connection with the medium Gordon so early as 1851. But the most important of levitated mediums was D.D. Horne - The Encyclopedia of the Occult, (circa 1900) 1994 edition, by Lewis Spence, p.250.
When levitation is sought by means of power and not just a party game then the dangers are clearly there.
They are just as frightened of many other ‘evidences’ of demonic possession, although they fail to include credible witnesses or referents that could be questioned about their omniphobic crusades against things that most normal people do not allow to play with their sanity. Hmmn!
They even conclude that water diviners are possessed by demons and will eventually be dragged down to hell with their willow twigs. [ROT website, ‘The Occult,’ divining rods]
Most of ROT’s categories of the Occult come from a book written against occult matters more than a hundred years ago. Could it be that ROT is also anti-science? It claims to be building bridges of reason, but true reason and true science are hardly ever at odds.
Personally, I have no opinion one way or another on ‘dowsing’ as water-divining is called in my corner of the world – Yorkshire. However, our focus is on Dungeons and Dragons and Reach Out Trust and why it has changed direction on something as fundamentalist as the Satanism and Demonic Possession inherent in D&D.
We have seen how Maureen Davies, the founder and chief apostle of ROT roundly condemns D&D as Satanic and the cause of murder and suicide.
Now, we must turn to the Janus-like ROT to hear what its other face and mouth have to say about D&D. It makes interesting reading and raises questions that I can guarantee will not be answered by ROT. Two boys that are the children of Mike Thomas the acclaimed Ex-Mormon Anti-Mormon expert on ROT’s board of directors, and both of which were apparently D&D fanatics when their parents decided to oppose such Occult and satanic pursuits, nevertheless had sufficient strength of character not to be swayed by their parents’ belief and abandon their favourite pastimes. Instead, they each produced interesting essays, or, rather, defences, of Satan’s game that leads to murder, suicide, and occult bondage, and they are reproduced in their entirety from ROT’s website here:
Below are two articles that look at the subject or role play from different angles. Comments will be welcome especially from any that have had first hand experience.
An overview by Daniel Thomas
Though I can in no way claim to be an expert on role-playing games (RPGs), I do have experience at playing them; and can therefore provide an insiders [sic] view on the subject.
Many of the books written about these games are almost fanatically negative. While there is some basis for this hysteria, there is a much larger area of role-playing which is the opposite of that which most fear in these games. The obviously dangerous mistakes made by the creators of Dungeons and Dragons and other early RPGs have been carefully screened out in most, if not all, of the games popular with the youth of today.
A company named White Wolf created one of the more favoured RPG systems I have come across. This company’s main role-playing titles include; “Vampire: The Masquerade,” “Werewolf: The Apocalypse,” “Mage: The Ascension” and “Changeling: The Dreaming.” In the basic rulebooks for all of the White Wolf games you will find a set of “do’s and don’ts” which both players and storytellers alike must follow if the game is to run smoothly and safely. Most of these rules are little more than common sense. For example, “no weapons. Real or fake.” In my time as a role-play Games Master (GM) I have been asked by players why I rigidly apply this rule, and others, to my games. It is simple; children playing with toy swords may bruise each other and adults wielding plastic or wooden swords can do each other serious damage.
In the above listed games, the players take on the roles of the persons named, therefore becoming, for a short time, a vampire, werewolf, mage or changeling. This may seem to be cause for alarm; however, everything that takes place within the game is governed by a tight set of rules and a good set of ten-sided dice. Players are given a character sheet upon which they will find their character has been rated in physical prowess, social ability and mental power (called Attributes) on a scale of one to five. Innate talents, perfected skills and learnt knowledge (called Abilities) are also rated in the same manner. Once all is in readiness, the story unfolds not unlike a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ book. The players, and their characters, are presented with situations with which they must deal, and the outcome is determined by their subsequent choices and the result of the necessary dice role.
For example, a player decides the use of one of their character’s abilities would aid the group at this time. The player states what they would like their character to do and locates the appropriate pairing of Attributes and Abilities. Their character’s potential for this task is defined by their combined Attribute and Ability ratings. The GM will set a difficulty rating (1-10) for the task and a number of ten-sided dice equal to the character’s potential is rolled. The number of dice, which show a number equal to or higher than the difficulty rating, defines their success in this task. This is the method used to determine all actions within the White Wolf gaming system.
In other gaming systems, the methods will differ. One thing though remains constant throughout all modern RPGs, imagination is the primary, and in some cases, the only tool required for the game to go on. Those who lack it, or refuse to fully use it, are rarely comfortable around role-play games. From what I have experienced of role-play games, they are nothing more or less than exercise for the imagination. There are those who take things a little too far, and cause problem for the rest, but on the whole, RPGs and role-players themselves, are not evil. If you remember that it is only a game, it is so much easier to deal with and you will have so much more fun.
Evidently the younger generation of ROT has more common sense than their parents, but I wonder whether Maureen Davies and her hardliner fundamentalist friends will be comforted by Daniel’s insistence that no everyone plays by the new, cleaned up, de-demonised rules. I do not see how anyone can be so sure about what others do and not do and what rules they observe or ignore in the privacy of their own secret D&D Covens. The claim ‘It’s OK because I do it and I’m an evangelical fundamental Christian,” will not garner much support from hard core evangelicals that see demons and occult forces in everything, including their own shaving mugs! On to Thomas son number two.
An Insight by Vincent Thomas
What is it? Anyone who has ever played Cops ‘n Robbers, or Cowboys and Indians as a child has role-played. For that afternoon, your imagination casts you in spontaneous roles that seemed to create the story as it went along. It was driven by purest fantasy, evolving as you played, and then ending in a dramatic shoot out, or when you got bored and had to go home. Role-playing games have a few necessary differences, but are essentially glorified Cops ‘n Robbers. Rules have been incorporated in order to prevent the “Bang! Your [sic] dead!” “No I’m not!” argument, and to help define each character’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition, one of the players must take on the role of storyteller. Rather than taking on a character, the storyteller creates and guides the stories. It is a careful balance between narration and adjudication, between story and game. Sometimes he or she must set the scene, or describe what occurs, but mostly must decide what occurs in reaction to the words and actions of the characters – as realistically, impartially and creatively as he or she possibly can. – Paraphrased from the introduction to role-playing in White Wolf’s game; Vampire the Masquerade.
Who am I? My name is Vincent Thomas and I am a born-again evangelical Christian. I believe that the love of God means that we can be saved through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Who am I? My name is Vincent Thomas and I am a storyteller for several different role-playing games. I have been involved in the pastime for over three years, and I find it challenges my imagination and my intellect every time I play. I am the weaver of dreams, whilst my friends are the players in the game. As with other things in my life, I have had to reconcile the role-playing with my faith. This has led me to several conclusions, which may be worth considering if you are a player in the game, or a concerned parent.
To role-play, or not to role-play? That is the question. Firstly, there is a simple test to see how healthy your role-playing is. This can be used to judge almost any pastime, and involves putting the game into the full context of your life. How important is it when compared to the other things in your life? Do you spend hours in deep consideration of what your character should do next? When you are with your friends, do you talk about real things, or simply relive old adventures in role-play land? Do you live life to its fullest or just look forward to your next role-playing session? Finally, and this one may be a little scary to some people, if your favourite character died tomorrow, would you cry for a week?
Role-playing, whether you are a Christian or not, should be something you do to pass the time, to relax and unwind. Just like any pastime, it can begin to take up a little more than just a couple of hours on the weekend, and that’s when you should take a big step back – and take control.
Secondly, the nature of role-playing itself carries with it certain hidden dangers. In the case of Hamlet, if the actor’s performance is to be powerful he has to get into the part. You hear about method actors who totally engross themselves in their character, sometimes to the point at which, whilst on the set or in the theatre, they are the character. You cannot even talk to them without being marched off to a nunnery. When after interviewed about their performance they talk about how it changed their lives, and helped them discover more about themselves. Then others can turn it on at a moment’s notice. One minute they are having coffee, the next it is a duel to the bloody end. At the end of the scene, they can snap right back out of it again with a laugh and a giggle.
When role-playing you take on a character. For a time you are a vampire, or a werewolf, a Jedi knight, a Barbarian, a wizard, a man in black…etc., the list is endless. These characters should be taken on in a spirit of fun and gamesmanship, which means that upon the conclusion of the game you snap back out of it, and stop playing. The thing to remember is that, it is only a game. A bit like Monopoly only more fun!
The danger occurs when the distinction between reality and fantasy becomes blurred. It happens far quicker, and easier, than you might think. Firstly, you create your character from a blank sheet of paper, then slowly watch it grow into an emotional creature with the goals, dreams and attitudes that you have given it. Furthermore, you are the animator of your creation. It breathes only when you breathe, it speaks only when you speak, and it says only the words you utter. It is a part of you.
Secondly, your character exists in a world that is far more fantastic than your wildest dreams. He is more confident than you are, more independent than you are, and has a life filled with excitement and adventure. He has to, otherwise there would be no incentive to play the game. This combination allows each player to explore and discover new things about themselves through the character that they play. This can bring the shy out of themselves, and help with interpersonal communication skills. They can draw on the strong characteristics of the character they play and use them in their own personal development.
However, your characters are not saints, or angels. In fact, there is a big drive in role-playing, to play the anti-hero. You could be learning from, and drawing on, the strong characteristics of anything from a Barbarian to a Jedi knight. The Barbarian rejoices in murder, and the Jedi knight works tirelessly to hone his occult magical skills. As Christians, God should be the centre of our lives, with Jesus as our example. That is where all the real power is to effect [sic] our lives.
Taken to a deeper, extreme level, you may begin to aspire to your character’s personality, lifestyle and very existence. Moreover, you feel so close to it. As I wrote earlier, you have created him, and fed him, until he became all that he is now. No one knows him better than you do. How hard would it be, to be him instead of you? The excitement of role-playing all the time, only it is real! This is when role-playing is at its most dangerous. You can lose yourself in your character to such an extent that you forget who you really are. The problem, with this, is that role-playing is staged and controlled by the storyteller and, more often than not, there is a happy ending. However, real life just is not like that and by the time the fantasy comes crashing around you its [sic] too late, and everything you were before is confused.
The ways that role-playing can shape and change character for better or worse is hard to define. In many cases, you have to have been there, and experienced it, to know what it is all about. Personally, I have had my own problems, to which my closest friends will testify. There was once a character of mine called Damien Kane. He was a vampire, with an aura, romance and power about him. He was manipulative, arrogant, selfish and angry. To him the world was his to play with, and anyone who stood in his way was about to have a bad day. At the time he was everything I wanted to be, and I began to emulate the character I played. It was only after a few of my friends told me to pack it in that I even realised I was doing it! By which time half of them hated me. I count this as having been a lucky escape.
Finally, there is one other danger with role-playing that is not so hidden, or hard to define. It concerns the thought processes of the player. When you are engrossed in a good story you do not even stop to think about the atrocities you commit in the game. As vampires, we would kill the innocent on merely a whim, drinking their blood and devouring their bodies. Deciding how to go about it was half the fun. Any imaginable action can be role-played in the theatre of the mind and yet, because it is not real, it seems okay. The storyteller can put a lid on the exploration of certain actions, but only if he wants to. Otherwise, the players are free to do anything they like without fear of reprisals. After looking into it, a family forum of the Christian Life Ministries came up with the following definition of Dungeons and Dragons.
“…teaching on demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, Satan worship, gambling, Jungian psychology, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics and divination.”
Now, whilst there can be no doubt that they slightly over-reacted, you do see my point. As Christians, are these the sort of activities that we should spend time acting out in fantasy?
Researching this article, and collating my thoughts and beliefs on the subject, has finally made me face up to them. When I started writing I was a storyteller for several role-playing games – but not any more [sic]. Now I am a Christian with a clearer conscience, and more time to spend in the real world with my God, my family and my friends. It is my belief that role-playing can be played without getting too deep, without it becoming addictive, and possibly even without the unsavoury thoughts. The only problem is that it would not be any fun. Why play with fire if it is not any fun?
Neither Daniel nor Vincent is convincing that D&D and similar role-playing games are free from the taints or traps of Satan. The boys are very good at outlining stories, no doubt a skill gained from role-playing, to make them say what they want to say, and at minimising the dangers, pretenmding that playing Cops and Robbers is as likely to put you in the grip of Satan is are occult games like D&D.
So, Reach Out Trust now says, “Go ahead and play with Satan. You will be safe if you don’t let him get a toe-hold on you.” That’s a far cry from Maureen Davies unequivocal diktat that ‘Dungeons and Dragons […] is really witchcraft or Satanism dressed up and called fantasy [and is] ‘just a way of promoting witchcraft.’
The Thomas boys are either very brave to go directly against their founder, or else it is too late and Satan already has them in his clutches, which would explain why the Devil writes their scripts.
Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons [BADD] is one of the most active disseminators of misinformation about Satanism in the US. The founder, director and moving force behind BADD is Pat Pulling, who founded this organization in Richmond, Virginia, in 1983 and incorporated it in 1984.
BADD is recommended as a resource by the following supporters of Satanic conspiracy theories: Cult Crime Impact Network, Inc, WATCH Network, Dale Griffis, Reachout Trust, the International Cult Education Program (a joint project between the Cult Awareness Network and the American Family Foundation), The Ritual Abuse Awareness Network Society, the Religion Analysis Service, Carl Raschke, the Calvary Chapel of West Covina/North American Conferences, and Thomas Radecki.
Oh! Really? Where, we must ask, is Reach Out Trust’s integrity that it can be so easily subverted by two little boys with, no doubt, the full approval of their Daddy?
Janus - In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: Ianus, pronounced [ˈia-nus]) is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, passages, endings and time. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. The Romans named the month of January (Ianuarius) in his honour. Naturally having two faces gives him two mouths that do not always agree with each other!
Will the real ROT stand up for its standards or have they thrown in the towel?