Jack had several young men living with him in his house in East Islip, the two most prominent being L. and G. Both G. and L. were handsome young men that Jack had been manipulating since they were teenagers. When they were over 18, they moved in with him. When everything was falling apart in the 1980’s, Jack blamed L. for the ultimate downfall of the cult, but I am getting ahead of myself.
The cult began to take on a weird and not very Jewish structure. During the period where people were being adopted into Jack’s secret “family” (the one where he insisted everyone call him Abba, which is Father or Daddy in Hebrew), he created all sorts of medieval sounding positions and titles for his favorite followers. Titles like prince, elder, and clan head. For a group that claimed to be attempting to recreate the practices of the first century followers of Jesus (or Yeshua as they referred to him as), the whole thing had a very medieval feel to it. This made sense since Jack was a huge Lord of the Rings fan.
As the cult became more intrusive into the lives of its members, Jack began to exercise his power over them more and more. Jack enjoyed playing matchmaker by telling people who they should marry and who they shouldn’t marry. If you are a child of the cult, Hickman himself may have arranged your parent’s marriage.
All marriages at one point needed to be approved by Jack and the “Elders,” who were appointed by Jack and ultimately did whatever he told them to do. Some young couples were told by Jack that they could not marry. Some of those young people broke up because he told them to, but a few brave ones left the group and got married anyway without Daddy’s permission.
Jack not only told people who they could love, but how they were allowed to consummate their love in their own homes. He became so consumed with his own power over their lives, that he told his married followers how they could have sex and when!
These young cult members who had spent their teenage years and early twenties with Jack eventually had children. The cult created a special school for them called Bet El Yeshua where they could learn the teachings of Hickman. Some of the children were also given special titles, but most of those so-called special children meant to usher in the era of the messiah left the cult. This includes Jo. H.’s children and some of D. S.’s, the co-founders of Jack’s cult and his first two followers. Unfortunately, there are a significant number from Bet El who remained after the regrouping in 1996.
The students at Bet El were taught to revere Jack or their “Abba” (Father or Daddy). They were told to stand up when he came into the room like he was some sort of South American dictator. The school eventually shutdown, but not before scarring dozens of small children with doctrines about fish people, evil angels, and unscientific bloodlines.
Jack continued to feed into the groups fear of the apocalypse and molded the group into a survivalist doomsday cult that was taught to fear outsiders. According to Hickman, since the cult members were now his adopted children, they would be hunted by the demon possessed minions of Satan (this gets much stranger in the cult doctrines after Jack comes out of exile) who were going to be agents of the government during the tribulation period (end times). They needed to survive the coming cataclysm that would destroy 70% of the world’s population and usher in the second coming of Jesus (Yeshua) so that they could rule the earth as the most righteous people left in the world with Jesus (Yeshua).
Cult members were encouraged to buy property in Maine. Jack claimed that the area around Moosehead Lake would be safe from Satan and the evil angels since through the use of his strong will and magic power, he wrestled the angel who controlled the area and won the contest. According to Jack, the antichrist’s people (the government) would search for them and try to kill them, but because of him they would be safe there (as long as they “tithed” at least).
Jack’s supposed angel wrestling match occurred during one of his many Maine camping trips. He loved to camp alone with various teenaged boys. On one of those camping trips Jack seduced a sixteen-year-old D. W. This was described in the article The Foibles of Abba in detail with quotes from D. W. himself.
It was quite common for parents to send their young boys to camp along with Hickman. Jack told D. W. and his parents that he was special spiritually and that he needed special teachings privately. This was a regular excuse that Jack used to justify these camping trips where he would sexually abuse teenage boys.
There were many different teenage boys that were taken to Maine with Jack and the self-proclaimed end time’s prophet gave them all special titles.
As the cult began to garner more and more attention, Jack’s paranoia grew. He insisted on having bodyguards because people had made threats against him. I actually have pictures of his security guards with their walkie-talkies standing a few feet away from him as he preached to his followers.
Jack was a devisive cult leader. He broke up families and pulled young men and women away from their parents. He also required his followers to give up 10% or more of their yearly earnings to him, which he called “tithe.” According to him, by giving Jack their money they were being spiritual. God wanted you to give Jack your money.
With roughly 900 hundred cult members at one point giving Jack 10% or more of their incomes, he was able to purchase a nice home in East Islip, NY that he filled with expensive antiques, bought with his followers’ money. Jack also loved to have feasts at his home that young men in his inner circle regularly attended.
At the height of Jack’s power, things became stranger still . . .