Dan comments on writing Stew


“All were baptized into Stewart Traill. In every sense of the word: his teaching, his concepts, his view on life, his skepticism of other Christians. Go and learn what this means”.

Blessed is he and blessed is she who is able to get free from the grip of Stewart Traill and the Church of Bible Understanding, and those who are able to overcome his lies and curses will have a great reward.


Sometime in the early 80s, I left COBU.

Breaking away from such an all-consuming way of life, for most of us who were captivated and captured by it, has not been an easy thing to do. You don't just, on the spur of the moment, get up and walk away, and that's that; although there were undoubtedly quite a few moments of enlightenment when we should have gotten up the nerve to follow our better judgment, and just walked away.

For me there was much regret and doubt involved, though I knew deep inside that I had taken a necessary step towards personal responsibility. It seemed that few and far between were the times I really felt good about myself.

It was at one of these times, I'd say, when I wrote a letter to Stewart. The only one I would write. The only attempt to have some kind of fellowship with him, to let him know how I really felt, and ask him a question or two. And to get free, or at least to get some things off my chest.

Not keeping a copy of it, I don't remember much of it, but a letter like that you don't forget, not the gist of what you were trying to communicate. Nor the way it was received and any answer you may have gotten back.

Well, I wonder if anyone ever received an answer to such a letter to his highness, other than through the grapevine, which is not a nice way to get bad news. What I was told was that he used my letter to warn the fellowship of me, waving it ominously, and asking who knows Dan Cooper. No doubt ridiculing me for not speaking to him directly, and using the opportunity to intensify the fear of leaving COBU or of taking a contrary view of it or its creator.

Yet I recall writing of Hope. For myself, and even for the fellowship, as if refusing to believe that all hope was yet lost for true reform. For when you escape the bonds that hold you to such an oppressive existence, and find any blessing in doing so, you feel that there really is hope for getting free from it. This is the spirit in which I addressed my would-be, former mentor and slavemaster, with honesty and without malice. And to do so without fear, even if for a moment--this would have infuriated him.

But his main concern would not have been me--that is, to do what he could to help me. For he did not know me. He never took the time, nor did he care to know what was going on with me. He would have been more worried about others following my example, of getting out and thinking for themselves.

I ended my comments with a hopeful benediction. Yet I was candid about my conviction that nothing good was happening in COBU, that it was going nowhere--and was I not free to see if life existed outside our unhappy merry-go-round?

At some point I mentioned sarcastically that, of course, we never talked about his sins. I was probably speaking confidently of dealing with my own sins, and no longer living in fear of them, and of impending judgment. This would have been a testimony of my finding grace outside of his teaching and sphere of influence. But he was not interested in goodness for goodness sake. It was always about him and his wisdom and his plans.

But to mention any of his shortcomings at all was to break a major taboo of COBU. And to risk his wrath. For he could not endure scrutiny, or even a simple question that might injure his pride or make him look bad in the eyes of his followers.

I came to at least one Big Meeting after this, and when it was over he finally recognized me, or someone told him I was there. I think I was lingering, because I was, like, one of the last out the door. I may have been trying to get the courage to approach him, but it is more probable that I was half-expecting him to address me. Either way, I don't know what I expected to gain. Would he respect my courage to speak my mind and heart, and really listen to a professed victim of his failed system, as I had the nerve to call it? Or would he look down with disdain and continue to call me names? You guessed it. When I was at the door he called out, Hey Woman! I turned abruptly and saw him and Gayle acting like they hadn't said or heard anything. I knew I had been had, as if answering to that name, and that inside they were laughing. I was just another lame threat to his image of perfection.

Like the wizard of Oz, he'd cowardly remain behind his curtain, intimidating with his scare tactics. And finding pleasure in emasculating his male servants, and de-feminizing the sisters. So he could exalt himself up as the only real man.

But real men love Jesus. They don't bully and intimidate, and exploit everything for their own advantage. Stewart Tanner Traill therefore is not the man he exalted himself to be, and that we foolishly followed and venerated. Like any man, his sin has found him out.

And I'd say that anyone who does not answer a letter written in good faith by someone who poses no threat to him; who cannot humble himself to speak face to face with a little kindness; and instead maligns and calls names upon one who has the temerity to disagree with him: that person is a... Well, you fill in the blank.

Dave Simmons

Many brothers and sisters wrote Stewart over the years. Some wrote about personal matters, spiritual matters, as well as biblical concerns. Sometimes he would actually write you back. If your letter happened to prick his curiosity or his interest or if it had any large ramifications for the fellowship. He would sometimes use some of the topics from the letter as talking point for a meeting.

One of the things that bothers me about Stew, was that he dealt with responding to the members who wrote him. He would often leave a message with the secretaries at the situation office so that many could know your personal issue. Your counsel that came from him became counsel for all, whether it applied to you or not. I feel that this was purposefully done as part of his control tactics.

I finally got the nerve to write Stewart about my interest in pursuing a relationship with Cynthia. It was darn near impossible to have or start a relationship in the Church of Screw-ups.When anyone tried, they were always thwarted, and told that they were not right with Jesus or, they did not have spare zeal for Jesus. We know know that this is Zebra snot.

I knew I needed to have an answer on the question I raised to him. I said in my letter, "I demand an answer from you. I hope to hear from you soon regarding this matter." Fate had it so that I did not wait for him to give me as answer on the matter, but I took matters into my own hands, and acted on my own convictions and insight.

I had been praying and seeking the Lord about starting a relationship with Cynthia for over a year. I spent at least 10 or 15 minutes daily seeking the Lord over her. This prayer time became the high light of my-day. During our relationship, we continued to seek the Lord daily.

The question that I asked Stewart was this. "The brothers and sisters feel that Cynthis's relationshio is not right with Jesus." In your oponion, do you think that it is good for me to start a relationship with her, In this state? This is the note that I got back from Mr Trail. His message said the following:
"Marriage has nothing to do with Christian life. it affects it but it has nothing to do with Christian life."

I started a relationship with Cynthia before I got a response from him. The funny thing was that I started the relationship on Sunday evening, and I got an answer from Stew on Monday evening. His message was read to me by Kathy when I walked into 515 to pick up food for my apartment from the food room. His reply had no effect on the decision that I had already made. The mad house and Traill did everything in their power to stop me and Cynthia from having a relationship. Once we started, there was no stopping us. Marrying Cynthia is the best thing that has happened to me from this nut house.

That was the only time that I ever felt the need to write him. His response was typical.