On Friday, June 12, 1998, around 13:00 to 14:00, I was accosted by two men in an Anaheim, California Mexican restaurant named "Antonio's." I had approached the counter to see if my pick-up order was ready (it was) and noticed that these two men who were also waiting for their orders were looking at me very strangely. They were giving each other quick glances and, while one of them appeared to be apprehensive for some then-unknown reason, the other was exhibiting a hostile demeanor. Both were around 45 years of age, both white, both dressed in laborer clothes -- in other words, no suit and tie -- both overweight, and both with short gray hair.

My first thought, before either of them said one word, was that they were Scientologist eforcers who had recognized me by my GIF on my web page. After Mr. Hostile pointedly looked at my T-shirt and asked me what "Dragon Fest" was, I decided that they were simply curious about my T-Shirt.

At the time I had been suffering from an exposure to poison ivy and was wearing a short-sleeve cotton T-shirt to reduce the irritation. Before entering the restaurant, however, I had put on a long-sleeve dress shirt so that the horrible rash on my arms wouldn't concern anyone in the restaurant. What remained visible of my Dragon Festival T-Shirt was a drawing of five interlocked forearms comprising a pentagram with the caption, "Dragon Fest, '95" at the top and "Building Community" at the bottom. Note the positive wording. There's nothing that one could assume would anger anyone.

Rather than explain the festival, I made the mistake of offering a very brief, glib description of Dragon Festival. I never interrupt or talk with strangers on the street and I didn't wish to reward these men's rude behavior with a lengthy answer. In retrospect, I should have ignored them knowing that something about the two just didn't feel right. Instead I told them that Dragon Festival is a festival in a Colorado forest where there is singing, dancing, and workshops, and where fornication takes place all night.

The two men shared another strange look and then Mr. Hostile asked me "Are you from around here?" thereafter I told him I was from Arcadia. He said, "Yeah, you're from around here" to which Mr. Apprehensive gave a nervous laugh. He then asked me what company I worked for to which I said, "I'm not going to tell you that." I collected my lunch and then he then said something along the lines of "I thought so" and he said that he had hoped "the spirit" would show itself to me. Mr. Apprehensive again laughed nervously.

At this time I still had no idea who these two were or what problems they were having. I mistakenly thought that the freakish "spirit" comment was in reference to something the guy had heard about Wicca or Pagani or, after second thought, was told that the pentagram has something to do with the Christian "Satan" god. Since the two were acting strange and were rude, I ignored the comment entirely and left.

Back in my old 1981 Toyota, I removed my dress shirt. Backing out of the parking slot I noticed these two guys getting into what looked like a company utility van. Having no concern, I had no reason to check for any identification on the van but I made conscience note that it was white and dirty.

At the first stop light on La Palma street in Anaheim (Imperial Highway) heading toward Lakeview, I was applying calamine lotion to my arms and noticed that the white van had pulled to a stop to my right, leaving a long gap of cars ahead of it waiting at the stop light. I thought that I might be in trouble. Highway shootings for no apparent reason are very common here in California and, with the way these two had been exchanging glances, I thought that they might have silently agreed to pick me.

After traffic started rolling again, the van forced its way into the left hand lane behind me, prompting the car that was behind me to lay on the horn. With the van inches from my bumper I knew I had a problem.

All of the cars ahead of me eventually peeled off to the left turn lane as their drivers returned to work from lunch and when the way was clear, I hopped my old Toyota to its highest acceleration and made a run for it. The van fell back about 10 feet, its engine screaming and misfiring badly as the idiot behind the wheel tried to keep up. The light ahead was red and I considered running it except that there was no way I was going to jeopardize innocent people just to save my skin. We came to a stop and I watched the left view and rear view mirrors to see if the driver -- It was Mr. Hostile behind the wheel -- was going to get out with a gun.

When the light turned green, I pulled away smoothly at normal acceleration. The van pulled along to my right (nearly missing another driver who, like the first one, laid on his horn) and started screaming at me. The only things I could understand was something about how he "used to think like you do until the spirit of the lord showed himself to me." A lot of it was what's termed "verbal salad" and, as near as I could figure, consisted of disjointed words which obviously made sense to the guy but which was unconnected and uttered highly emotionally. I now realized the guy was an extremist Christian cultist and, with the aggressive, criminal behavior he was showing, knew that I was doubly in danger. The "Hatred is NOT a Family Value" bumper sticker on my car, together with the Darwin fish, a Ham Radio call sign, and a very cryptic bumper sticker from Holland, probably all contributed to whatever idiot notions they had been programmed with.

I once again took the Toyota up to high acceleration and the van swung in behind me. I thought I would take him to the Anaheim police station and slam on the breaks outside the station causing him to rear-end me. I could then make a run for the station and still get the bad guys caught. The problem was, I was in Anaheim on business and didn't know where the closest station was. I knew where the huge Post Office was on La Palma and thought that there might be a police station next to it but I couldn't be sure.

Instead I knew my old Toyota wasn't going to get away from these guys and the signal light ahead -- Lakeview -- was too crowded to allow me to get away from them. The van's engine was out of tune and misfiring at high revs so I could have distanced myself from the cultist on the freeway (my engine will take me to 120 MPH at 4,500 RPM if I'm willing to risk it; I keep it well tuned; I red-line at 5,000) but not on surface streets. I pulled into the left-hand turning lane, the van followed me, and then I slammed on the breaks, locking up all four wheels (for the first time ever, in fact.)

Vinyard Cult Photograph Number 1 The van came to a stop about ten feet back and then inched forward until it was touching my bumper. We sat and waited outside of the "Vinyard Christian Fellowship" cult offices in Anaheim on La Palma (see image number 1) for about three minutes. I watched the rear-view and left-view mirrors, waiting to see if anyone got out and waiting for a police car to come by, ask what's going on, and arrest these two. The guy behind the counter at the Mexican restaurant could have been a witness as to the fact that these two accosted me and then followed me out of his place. The way Mr. Hostile rants insanely would have also been good evidence -- enough to get the cop to save my ass and drag them in, any way.

After waiting for about three minutes, I pulled away slowly. The van, however, turned left and entered the "Vinyard Christian Fellowship" cult compound.

Was I surprised that these two work there? Yes. Up until that time I had no idea this cult had an office there, leave alone the huge one that's in Anaheim. I hadn't seen any markings on their van -- if they had any.

What I experienced was two extremist cultists who didn't care who they put at risk and didn't care how many laws they broke just so long as they could scream incomprehensible rants at someone they thought "needed saving" -- all because I wore a T-shirt attributed to a life-affirming religion superior to their cult. All because they had no idea what's really behind what they're taught unthinkingly to hate. If brought before a desk sergeant, I'm sure they would have ranted about how they were "only trying to help."

I watched my rear view mirror and, at Lakeview, pulled a U-turn and entered the offices where I was working, ate my lunch in my car while wondering if I should report this. I told John, the only other co-worker at the company, about what happened and he told me that I should report what happened. He said, "I'll bet you they were born again Christians" and that people that crazy should be reported. If they're that willing to be that dangerous and that criminal, their next target and those around their unlucky victim, may not be let go so easily. The next victim these cultists follow might not consider innocent people being in the way. And, of course, their next victim might be a woman with a gun which would be dangerous and unfortunate for both the cultists for their victim.

Vinyard Cult Photograph Number 2 Vinyard Cult Photograph Number 3 Today, June 24, I did something dangerous and stupid. I purchased a one-time-use camera and drove to the cult's offices and took some photographs. In the process of trying to get a picture of the van that was being driven by the two cultists who accosted me, I learned more about the cult. They have a lot of children in the compound and there is a sign out front which states that they are "a private school." (I did not take photographs of the school since there were children present.) There is also a "Christian book store" (see images number 2 and 3) next to the cult's compound though I couldn't tell if it's a separate business or part of the cult. It's separated from the cult's compound by a street which can only be accessed from the cult's driveways so I can assume that they're related.

The compound is large with a lot of grassy, well-kept play grounds. A number of picnic tables dot the play grounds which are not fenced in and new playground equipment is evident inside of the fenced-off areas. Children were playing at various places inside the fenced-off areas. Two gardeners were working the grounds as I drove through taking photographs. There were about 50 cars in the parking lot with room for about 100 more. Most of the cars were large American boats with "For Sale" signs appearing on many of them. All of the windows on the cult's buildings are tinted dark so I couldn't photograph what's going on inside the cult, nor could I see whether I was being observed.

The compound proper is set well back from the street: La Palma. One must drive about 50 yards onto the cult's property before reaching the buildings. While leaving, I made sure I wasn't followed.

I can't help but wonder about a cult which has immediate access to a large number of children which employs such people as followed me and screamed insane rants at me while I was trying to get away from them. Real Christians would never hire such dangerously insane and criminal people, especially when there's children in immediate access to them.

I could probably accept this behavior had I engaged in conversation with these two and had pissed them off with some uncomfortable truth about their cult. The fact is I felt that something was wrong with these nuts and in effect brushed them off with a one-line brush-off. They decided to follow me. Don't forget that Mr. Hostile asked me where I was from and where I worked.

In retrospect, after checking out the cult and taking photographs, I think John was right: I should have immediately filed a police report and had them arrested. Now I've learned my lesson and have a one-time-use camera in my Toyota at all times, ready to take photographs of anyone who exhibits this behavior in the future. I don't think that's paranoia after what I experienced, just good safety sense. California is the fundy extremist cultist capital of the world and is synonymous with crazy cultists and serial killers. It's synonymous for good reason, too: It's all true and Orange County, the area I was in, is itself the capital of the fundy capital.


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