The Way Of Many - 1981-10-13
Hannah Janney, who grew up on a farm in Northern Virginia, remembers feeling amazed the first time she saw The Way International headquarters rising out of the relentlessly flat Midwestern landscape. Amid endless miles of cornfields were meticulous gardens, man-made ponds, gurgling white marble fountains and buildings so freshly painted they gleamed under the summer sun.
Most impressive, Janney recalls, was the sight of 16,000 brothers and sisters who had flocked to this tiny hamlet outside Dayton for an annual week-long festival, called The Rock of Ages. Like Janney, they were devout members of The Way, a little-known fundamentalist Christian sect, which some theologians believe to be the nation's second largest cult.
The Way now has an estimated 40,000 followers -- more than Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. "Everybody thinks the Moonies are the big cult because they've gotten the lion's share of publicity, but the Way is much bigger and more pervasive," says Lowell Streiker, director of San Francisco's anti-cult Freedom Counseling Center. The only larger cult in the United States, said Streiker, is The Church of Scientology.