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FORTNEY ROAD: The True Story of Life, Death, and Deception in a Christian Cult

One reporter said, “On the day you hear Reverend Larry Hill has died, remember to wear thick-soled shoes because hell will be stoked up extra hot.”

Dick Feagler of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said, “I’ve written a lot of stories over the years but Larry Hill left me with a real impression of something; he was creepy, spooky…”

One former member of Larry Hill’s community, who had read accounts of the physical and sexual brutality of the well-publicized Unification Church and the Children of God cults, said “ours was much worse.”

FORTNEY ROAD: The True Story of Life, Death, and Deception in a Christian Cult unfolds against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent times in American history—the 1960s and early ‘70s.

FORTNEY ROAD is the first and only book to reveal how a mainstream, fundamentalist, evangelical Christian ministry turned into a cult through the first-person accounts of 17 former followers of Larry Hill’s Church of the Risen Christ community. Theirs is a powerful and compelling tale of deception, brainwashing, and the emotional, physical, sexual and mental abuse of adults and children.

But FORTNEY ROAD isn’t only the story of a cult—it encompasses the revolutionary music of that era and relates how the James Gang and Pacific Gas & Electric’s blues-rock guitarist Glenn Schwartz (Joe Walsh’s “guitar guru”) was recruited to the sect. Glenn played with their legendary All Saved Freak Band religious group, and shares his encounters with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Fleetwood Mac as he attempted to draw them into the cult.

The story of one of the most tragic events of the 1970s, the Kent State shootings, is also told. Tom Miller, his photograph featured in LIFE magazine and one of the infamous “Kent 25,” joined the sect and is one of three who later died in the cult.

For the first time, former members of the sect of more than 50 adults and children tell their story—how they got in, how they survived almost unbearable physical and sexual brutality, and how they escaped with the assistance of family, friends, the FBI—even an official from the White House.

Three members of the Church of the Risen Christ cult never made it out alive, and another was horribly disfigured when 27,000 volts of electricity shot through his body; for those who did survive, what was left of their lives and spirits was shattered almost beyond recognition, and yet their faith endured and their courage continues to inspire.

Extreme religious cults and sects such as those led by Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, and end-of-the-world prophet Harold Camping make regular and disquieting headlines. In the United States, five to ten million Americans have been at least transiently involved with cultic groups. And the late Margaret Thaler Singer, PhD, considered to be a preeminent cult expert, set the upper figure of cults in the United States at around 5,000.

Five thousand.

This means the horrific events that happened to the people in FORTNEY ROAD are most likely occurring to individuals at this very moment.