Torben Søndergaard

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Torben Søndergaard is a Danish Christian evangelist, self-proclaimed apostle, and faith healer, who claims to receive revelations and visions directly from God. His organization, The Last Reformation, has been described as extreme, dangerous and a cult by former followers, former board members of the organization, the press, other churches, and professionals.

Søndergaard and his cult are elitist and teach that only Søndergaard's "True Gospel" as well as Søndergaard's methods will result in the true doctrines and true discipleship that can bring about the final reformation of the worldwide Christian church before the end of the world.

He has been criticized for numerous things, including teaching that autism is caused by demonic possession and can be cured by immersion in water-filled trash cans, as well as claiming to be able to cure homosexuality, cancer and remove "the Spirit of Reiki Healing" from Reiki practitioners in the same manner[1].

Søndergaard was living in Denmark until 2019, where Danish politicians stated that they would be looking into Søndergaard's organization in Denmark and the potentially illegal actions carried out by it [2]. Shortly after this, Torben Søndergaard left Denmark and has shut down his Danish organization and started a new one in the US by the name "The Last Reformation Inc."[3] Søndergaard now falsely claims he is religiously persecuted in Denmark, one of the most democratic countries with the most religious freedom in the world.

As of September 2019, Søndergaard is now in North Carolina where he claims he is preparing "Noah's Ark", referring to his disciples as "animals" and has a continued public appeal for donations, for example encouraging you to "pray if you are one of the 'animals' (people) God is calling to help with the rest of the money." [4]

Cult warnings and other warnings against Torben Søndergaard and The Last Reformation[edit]

Søndergaard dismisses critics, such as former members, as bitter, dishonest, angry, or evil, and when Søndergaard is criticized or questioned, he sees himself as being wrongfully persecuted.

Yet, The Last Reformation has been described as a "cult" by former followers, the press,[5] other churches,[6] and professionals. In 2019, a key member and member of the board of the organization spoke out against Torben Søndergaard and stated that the movement had become "extreme" in its methods and leadership.[7]

Also in 2019, a Danish anti-cult organization shared a story of how Torben Søndergaard's cult had abused a young handicapped woman causing her to go into deep psychosis and needing for psychiatric care 24 hours a day for years following the abuse.[8]

Prior to that, many others have warned against Søndergaard and the Last Reformation, for example:

  • A spokesperson from Autism Rights Together has criticised the group as "highly organised, sophisticated and dangerous", and accused them of exploiting vulnerable people and the mentally ill.[5]
  • International Cultic Studies Association has listed Søndergaard and his organization in their news section, calling it a "Danish cult that claims demons cause autism".[9]
  • Associate Professor Kjetil Aano at VID University of Science warns that the form of "exorcism" Søndergaard practices may be classified as abuse.[10]
  • Lars Johan Danbolt, professor at the Faculty of Theology and Head of Religious Psychological Center, states that specifically Søndergaard's method "has little to do with Christianity, but is a show with strong quasi-religious elements."[10]
  • In 2013, the interdenominational and ecumenical Danish church organization "Dialog Center", that worked with monitoring sectarianism in Denmark, tied Søndergaard to the sect Evangelist led by Christian Hedegaard and the cult "Faderhuset".[11]
  • A former follower describes Søndergaard this way:
"I was part of this movement from approximately June 2015 to July 2017. I firmly believe it is a cult. I know Torben personally. I was a “green dot” on the map as a recommended contact. I know what TLR is about in-depth. I left the movement because of the false gospel (works based religion), the cult-like behaviour of his followers (including the strange things they do), and Torben’s cult behaviour towards me.... They lean on many oneness Pentecostal heresies in many ways... The TLR signs and wonders is very questionable, none can be medically verified. I recommend people stay away from."[12]

Documentary 2019[edit]

In 2019, a documentary series in three parts aired on Danish TV. Prior to the release, Søndergaard hired a lawyer and unsuccessfully tried to block the documentary from airing as he feared how people would react.[13]

The programs were sent on the channel TV2 the 2nd, 9th and 16th of January and gave a rare insight into some of the most closed and radical Christian environments in Denmark where children and adults are exposed to traumatizing exorcism and dubious healings. The documentaries show a world where preachers abuse their power both psychologically and in several cases sexually—without the authorities being able to stop them. In Søndergaard's sect, a man had his leg amputated after a healing session went wrong and several child protection organization are warning against children being traumatized.

Søndergaard falsely claims he is persecuted in Denmark[edit]

Søndergaard seems to be at odds with the law in his home country, yet he claims that he has been wrongly framed and persecuted by former member, authorities, organizations and others.

And following the documentary, Søndergaard claimed that he experienced 'a call from God', making him move to the United States. In reality, Søndergaard was thrown out of the facilities hosting his headquarters.[14] Later, Søndergaard changed his story and stated that he left voluntarily but now due to governmental persecution in Denmark. Søndergaard claims a new law was passed in Denmark that prohibits him from praying for others and this has caused him to leave the country.

Such as law does not exist, but some politicians did state that they would be looking into Torben Søndergaard's organization in Denmark and the potentially illegal actions carried out by it as several child protection organizations warned against Søndergaard's practices.[15] Shortly after this, Torben Søndergaard left Denmark and has shut down his Danish organization and started a new one in the US by the name "The Last Reformation Inc."[16]

In a video released on July 2019,[17] Sondergaard states that he is now seeking asylum in the US because of religious persecution. He fears the government will imprison him and take away his children if he ever returns to Denmark. Again, no such law exists. Denmark is among the most democratic countries in the world,[18] as well as countries with the most religious freedom.[19]

The law Torben Søndergaard refers to is a law that protects children and mentally ill against repeated psychological abuse - and not religion.[20] Both Karsten Nissen, a Danish bishop emeritus and initiator of a think tank for Christian persecution, as well as the Institute of Human Rights state that Torben Søndergaard is not persecuted in Denmark because of his religious views.[21] He is simply making it up.

Recruitment of physically and mentally ill[edit]

Søndergaard recruits people through conferences, YouTube and training schools. He promises “that for many of you will be the start of a whole new life, that continues afterwards and elsewhere in the world” as people will “be trained to healing the sick, preaching the gospel, leading people to salvation and so on.” [22] Mentally and physically ill are attracted to this promise of a new life and supernatural abilities but, according to former members of the cult, are later left unhealed and broken [23] [24]. And a former board member of the formal organisation behind Søndergaards “The Last Reformation” says Søndergaard’s movement, in reality, is extreme in its methods and leadership.

Documented attempt to recruitment physically and mentally ill at hospitals[edit]

Søndergaard and his disciples are aggressive in their recruitment. For example, it is well documented that intentional and conscious effort is made by Søndergaard to seek out those in vulnerable situations such as patients at hospitals.

In 2019, several patients at a Danish hospital reported that they had been sought out by people who promised them divine healing. The media contacted Søndergaard as students of his in the past had gone to hospitals to seek out sick. Søndergaard denied publicly that his students were involved. [25] [26] [27]

A Danish media outlet, TV2 Nord, was subsequently able to demonstrate that it was indeed members of Søndergaard's movement, "The Last Reformation", who had sought to recruit patients at the hospital[28]. They also documented that Søndergaard welcomes and encourages his followers to contact people in hospitals, who have been affected by illness and are in a difficult situation in their lives.[27]

TV2 Nord documented how Søndergaard, on his open Facebook profile, had posted several videos in which he praised his followers for going to the hospital, seeking out sick patients and promising them salvation - even the very same hospital Søndergaard denied trying to recruit new members.

Following articles in several media outlets, Søndergaard tried removing this evidence by deleting the videos on his Facebook profile and then refused to give any further comments to the press.[27]

TV2 Nord has described the videos in the article prior to their deletions. In the videos,[27]

  • Søndergaard stands at an airport with a young follower, praising him for, in many cases, have found patients at Aalborg University Hospital and having cured a woman who was hospitalized in Aalborg with blood poisoning.
  • Søndergaard's followers walk around among sick patients at Aalborg University Hospital, where they offer to pray for patients.
  • Søndergaard explains that “this is in a hospital in Denmark - not in Brazil. We need to go to several hospitals. God wants us to do these things ”and urged more followers to do the same.
  • Søndergaard and his followers claim to have cured several patients in a hospital, including a man who had been operated 35 times in his leg, a woman with cancer, a man with diabetes as well as removing pancreatitis in a little girl a hospital in Brazil and so on.

In Hundborg, the Danish city where Søndergaard's headquarters were established after Søndergaard was thrown out of his former facilities, a woman told that Søndergaard's followers could be found outside the local grocery store, where they would offer prayer, as well as at the local medical center, where they promise people healing without medicine.

Criticism and response from Søndergaard[edit]

Lisbeth Kjær Lagoni, who is a nursing director at Aalborg University Hospital, criticized Søndergaard for his practice of visiting patients in hospitals. Afterwards, Aalborg University Hospital has “put an end to religious groups accosting patients in this way, and the hospital management encourages patients and relatives to notify the staff if it should happen again."

A parish priest and church debater, Christian Roar Petersen, called it an abuse of religion as well as "religious fraud" and "compared it to predators who go after the weakest of the flock.[29][30]

After being exposed, Torben Søndergaard deleted all evidence on his Facebook page, did not want to give any further comments but merely stated "that he has emphasized to his followers that they should not seek out patients at Aalborg University Hospital." [31]

Quackery[edit]

Søndergaard believes in supernatural manifestations such as physical healing, claiming "about 90 percent of all the people, that he or others in his team pray for, are healed".[32] Lack of healing is caused by a lack of faith[33] as in classical Word of Faith Christianity.

Despite having such a high success rate in supernatural healing, in 2008, Søndergaard was thrown out of a Danish music festival for "quackery" after supposedly convincing a drunk festivalgoer to remove his arm plaster so that he could be cured with prayer.[34] Søndergaard denied this, calling the expulsion a "regrettable misunderstanding" and explaining how it got mixed up with another incident where he made a young woman remove her arm sling [35].

In 2019. a man had his leg amputated after a healing session with Søndergaard went wrong and several child protection organization are warning against children being traumatized.[36]

Threatening others[edit]

In 2006, Søndergaard was accused of threatening an author when he asked critical questions as part of the research for a book called ‘Sects in Denmark’. The author describes the incident by writing:

"Many who have dared to criticize a charismatic leader have experienced threats and getting warned that God would let them drop dead like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. This also happened to me when I dared to ask critical questions about the notorious Danish evangelist Torben Søndergaard (cast in the television program "Sick with Jesus") in connection with my research for this book."[37]

Faking miracles[edit]

In one of his videos, Søndergaard shows the word “real” appearing in the sky and says: "A woman prayed for a sign in the heavens and God answered her prayer. Yes, it was a plane (we think – we didn’t actually see it), but for us and everyone there, it didn’t make it any less of a miracle, because it happened right there in that moment…"[38]

While “real” did appear in the sky it was not as presented in the video. Instead, the skywriting was from 2014, when an Australian marketing company, The Works, ran a campaign for Sunbeam, a company selling electric home appliances. Targeting men with the slogan “Real men don’t watch football, real men cook”, they hired a plane to write “Real men cook[39] across the sky. In Søndergaard's video, the words “men cook” are conveniently left out.[40]

What Søndergaard believes and teaches you[edit]

Søndergaard has created a rather strange belief system that is very simplistic and yet confusing.

The main claim of Søndergaard and the cult is that Søndergaard, his organization and followers are tasked with radically transforming individual lives and the entire world; those adhering to the True Gospel are the chosen ones that will start a final and last reformation of the worldwide Christian church before the end of the world, when Jesus returns.

Søndergaard claims his teachings and ideas have come through revelation directly from God, such as visions of heaven. The teachings are made available on Youtube and in several books. One such book is named “Sound Doctrine”, the title created to underline how Søndergaard has the correct doctrines.

Søndergaard often stresses that other churches, denominations and religious teachers are wrong, instead, he now teaches his followers the "True Gospel”. True salvation is achieved through this "True Gospel", a three-step salvation program: real repentance, faith in Jesus, baptism as an adult and receiving the Holy Spirit proven by speaking in tongues.

As nobody else got it right, according to Søndergaard, he created his belief system by "taking a little from some different" denomination,[41] for example, baptismal regeneration from the Catholics, speaking in tongues as the sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit from the Pentecostals, believer’s baptism as Baptists, and baptism to Jesus Christ not using the Trinitarian formula as Oneness Pentecostals.[42][43] It may be the easiest to categorize Søndergaard's teaching as primarily those of the Oneness Pentecostal sect.

Contrary to almost any other Christian denomination, he teaches that salvation for a Christian is completed through baptism in water not using the Trinitarian formula,[44] as well as through baptism in the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of speaking in tongues, often saying "dadadaadadadaa."[45][46][47][48][49] He also teaches that just as Jesus received the Holy Spirit through water baptism, it is through baptism that a Christian receives the Holy Spirit. Søndergaard regards receiving the Holy Spirit as having substituted receiving Jesus.[50]

Unsurprisingly, he teaches that children are better at reading and interpreting the Bible than adults.[51] This explains how he got these ideas, but none of his followers seems to question this hotchpotch of nonsense.

Søndergaard also encourages and teaches excessive fasting (for up to 40 days), long prayer, chanting in tongues and what professionals have described as hypnosis.

Visions and receiving a book from God[edit]

Søndergaard claims to receive visions of Heaven and Hell directly from God. According to Søndergaard, God made him time travel back to before he was born as a confirmation.[52]

After fasting for 40 days Søndergaard also believes that God revealed a self-help book for him,[53] saying "I will give you one chapter each day".[54]

Baptisms[edit]

Søndergaard endorses wheelie bin baptism if you can't find a rainwater barrel

The Last Reformation holds indoor baptisms in plastic rainwater barrels filled up under a shower.[55] At a 2016 event in Ireland, more than 40 people were baptised on stage in plastic wheelie bins.[56] When the Last Reformation hosts a baptism event, people are approached on the street by Last Reformation followers, asked if they are ill and encouraged to attend events to be baptised.[56]

The Last Reformation's baptism process can involve speaking in tongues.[57] During the baptisms, exorcism is often performed on the baptized, also on children.[58]

Todd Bentley and Torben Søndergaard[edit]

In 2003, Søndergaard invited the controversial tele-evangelist and faith healer Todd Bentley to Denmark[59]. According to people present, Todd Bentley said:

“In the Bible, in John 5 provides a healing outpouring – the Pool of Bethesda, which means an outpouring of grace. The Bible says that a quantity of sick, blind, lame and crippled came to this place, the pool of Bethesda… " [60][61]

In 2015, Søndergaard quoted this as a prediction of his work in Denmark:

"10 years ago, a man came from the US to Denmark with a prophetic word to us our country. The word was that Denmark would become known as the Pool of Bethesda. That is a place where the sick could experience salvation and healing. He said that it would not only be one or two places, but it would be all over the country. Yes, no matter where you came in Denmark, there would be people who would ask for one and set one free... Yes, I believe we are seeing the fulfilment of the word that sounded over Denmark.” [60][62]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. https://mennoknight.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/toren-sondergaard-and-gospel-plus/
  2. http://nyheder.tv2.dk/politik/2019-01-17-politikere-vil-have-praedikant-undersoegt-for-kvaksalveri
  3. http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/ConvertTiffToPDF?storagePath=COR%5C2019%5C0214%5C70447327.tif&documentNumber=N19000001536
  4. https://www.facebook.com/torbenksondergaard/posts/894554504248946
  5. 5.0 5.1 https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1164689/cult-whose-leader-says-he-can-cast-out-demons-that-cause-autism-spreads-to-britain/
  6. http://gccsatx.com/torben-sondergaard-last-reformation-cult
  7. https://www.tv2nord.dk/artikel/bevaegelsen-er-blevet-ekstrem-og-alarmklokkerne-ringer-siger-medstifter-peter-rasmussen
  8. https://www.facebook.com/helpaftercult/photos/a.520480624789166/1062143600622863
  9. News Archive, International Cultic Studies Association, 16 June 2017, via Archive.org
  10. 10.0 10.1 https://www.vl.no/nyhet/drev-ut-demoner-pa-norsk-hotell-1.961311
  11. http://www.dialogcentret.dk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1393:guruen-fra-gorlose&catid=102:dnd10
  12. http://www.spiritoferror.org/2017/07/one-to-watch-torben-sondergaard/6865#comment-138688
  13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvMlMYbZ1M8
  14. https://www.dokumentarkompagniet.com/gudsbedsteboern
  15. http://nyheder.tv2.dk/politik/2019-01-17-politikere-vil-have-praedikant-undersoegt-for-kvaksalveri
  16. http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/ConvertTiffToPDF?storagePath=COR%5C2019%5C0214%5C70447327.tif&documentNumber=N19000001536
  17. https://thelastreformation.com/seeking-asylum-in-usa-torben-sondergaard-a-very-emotional-and-special-video/
  18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index
  19. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/slideshows/the-10-countries-with-the-most-religious-freedom-ranked-by-perception?slide=4
  20. https://www.retsinformation.dk/Forms/R0710.aspx?id=208457
  21. https://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/dansker-soger-asyl-i-usa
  22. www.thelastreformation.com/pts/
  23. http://tv.tv2.dk/guds-bedste-boern/2019-01-16-torben-soendergaard-mener-at-han-kan-helbrede-alt-fra-gigt-til-psykisk
  24. https://www.tv2nord.dk/artikel/bevaegelsen-er-blevet-ekstrem-og-alarmklokkerne-ringer-siger-medstifter-peter-rasmussen
  25. https://www.avisen.dk/kristne-opsoeger-patienter-paa-sygehus-de-sagde-de-k_535268.aspx
  26. https://www.limfjordupdate.dk/religioese-grupper-opsoeger-patienter-paa-hospitalet
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 https://www.tv2nord.dk/artikel/praedikant-opfordrer-foelgere-til-opsoege-syge-mennesker-paa-hospitaler
  28. https://nyheder.tv2.dk/samfund/2019-01-25-missionaerer-forsoegte-at-hverve-nye-medlemmer-paa-hospital
  29. https://www.avisen.dk/kristne-opsoeger-patienter-paa-sygehus-de-sagde-de-k_535268.aspx
  30. https://www.limfjordupdate.dk/religioese-grupper-opsoeger-patienter-paa-hospitalet
  31. https://nyheder.tv2.dk/samfund/2019-01-25-missionaerer-forsoegte-at-hverve-nye-medlemmer-paa-hospital
  32. "110 mennesker døbt og mange helbredt på gaden »". 2012-05-02. https://udfordringen.dk/2012/05/110-mennesker-dobt-og-mange-helbredt-pa-gaden/. 
  33. The Last Reformation (2016-05-30), Kickstart seminar #2 in Ireland - Torben Søndergaard, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6x9e-MnnI8o
  34. http://nordjyske.dk/nyheder/nibe-smed-evangelist-paa-porten/bbad591c-e11f-4e92-907b-42fd34eb04b6/112/1513
  35. http://udfordringen.dk/2008/08/festival-exit-var-en-fejl/
  36. http://tv.tv2.dk/guds-bedste-boern/2019-01-16-torben-soendergaard-mener-at-han-kan-helbrede-alt-fra-gigt-til-psykisk
  37. Birger Langkjæer, Sekter i Danmark - Hizb ut-Tahrir, Faderhuset, Scientology, InJiva-behandling, 2006 p. 83.
  38. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxhJhCilGRE&feature=youtu.be
  39. https://www.applianceretailer.com.au/2014/09/skywriting/
  40. http://freethinker.co.uk/2018/02/11/dangerous-danish-cult-recruits-world-famous-singer-lou-bega/
  41. Søndergaard, Torben: Freedom from sin, www.torbenSøndergaard.com/reading, p. 12.
  42. Søndergaard, Torben. Freedom from sin. p. 12.
  43. Søndergaard, Torben. Rebaptism and deliverance. p. 6.
  44. Søndergaard, Torben: Freedom from sin, www.torbenSøndergaard.com/reading.
  45. The Last Reformation (2016-05-30), Kickstart seminar #4 in Ireland - Torben Søndergaard
  46. De 3 bud (6:8) - UDLØBET | TV | DR (in Danish)
  47. Hvordan bliver man egentlig frelst? »" (in Danish). 2014-01-30.
  48. The Last Reformation (2016-05-30), Kickstart seminar #3 in Ireland - Torben Søndergaard
  49. "He is moving, he is alive...! »" (in Danish). 2014-12-12.
  50. The Last Reformation (2016-05-30), Kickstart seminar #4 in Ireland - Torben Søndergaard
  51. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdzZv-XMXPU
  52. https://thelastreformation.com/i-was-in-heaven/
  53. https://thelastreformation.com/about-us/
  54. https://thelastreformation.com/shop/books/sound-doctrine-2/
  55. https://youtu.be/PpfF_d9GAHk?t=2727
  56. 56.0 56.1 http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/religious-group-claims-can-cure-8030025
  57. Wow! "We got set free and are speaking in tongues" - YouTube
  58. The Last Reformation (2016-02-06), Café talk: Rebaptism - teaching with Torben Sønder
  59. https://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/kirke-tro/håb-om-helbredelse-i-herning
  60. 60.0 60.1 http://www.cults.co.nz/_printable.php?listing=sondergaardt
  61. http://udfordringen.dk/2015/01/danmark-kendt-som-betesda-dam/
  62. http://sand.omvendelse.dk/torben-Søndergaard-anbefaler-profetier-af-todd-bentley-5172.htm