Bravo’s Actual Housewives franchise has at all times been about drama—petty digs at so-called greatest mates, mascara-streaked tears over crumbling relationships, and a wholesome dose of flipping tables and smashing wine glasses.
However not too long ago, season storylines have been overtaken by critical criminal investigations, with Teresa Giudice serving jail time for monetary fraud, Jen Shah dealing with costs over conspiracy to commit wire fraud and cash laundering, and Erika Jayne at the moment entangled in allegations that her husband embezzled his purchasers’ settlement funds to bankroll their extravagant way of life.
Within the new season of The Actual Housewives of Salt Lake Metropolis, Mary Cosby will take her flip within the scorching seat in response to accusations that she has reworked her late grandmother’s Religion Temple Pentecostal Church right into a cult.
Eyebrows have been raised from the second viewers first met Cosby, and realized about her unconventional spiritual path. The eccentric, designer-clad preacher married her step-grandfather Bishop Robert Cosby shortly after her grandmother Rosemary “Mama” Redmon Cosby handed away in 1997, thereby inheriting her multimillion-dollar property, her varied companies, and her commanding place within the church.
Cosby was already quizzed over the cult allegations on the Season 1 reunion, which aired in February. Host Andy Cohen brought up leaked audio recordings of Cosby’s sermons, together with one the place she complained about not getting sufficient birthday playing cards and referred to as the congregation “stingy” and “poor.”
Cosby denied to Cohen that she was pilfering cash from the church to fund her costly way of life, calling the declare merciless. “My church couldn’t presumably care for me,” Cosby mentioned. “I’m a God-fearing girl. I’d by no means try this.”
“Clearly I’m not gonna get on nationwide tv, be a Housewife and be in a cult,” Cosby defended herself to Entertainment Tonight. “Like, come on. I imagine in my church. There’s no cult. My church members, they know these are false allegations. These are ridiculous. It’s the individuals which can be on the lookout for fault.”
However questions have solely intensified, and the Season 2 trailer exhibits Cosby’s co-star Lisa Barlow assembly with the late Salt Lake Metropolis group chief Cameron Williams, who states unequivocally, “Is it a cult? Sure. Does she name herself ‘God’? Sure.” (Williams’ household declined to remark when approached by The Day by day Beast.)
The Day by day Beast spoke with seven former Religion Temple church members, six who agree with claims that Cosby has been working her church like a “cult”—alleging she refers to herself as God, encourages members to work at her household’s varied companies without spending a dime or minimal wage, berates congregation members from the rostrum, and instills the concern that if anybody ever leaves Religion Temple for one more church, they are going to be condemned to hell.
Cosby’s personal uncle Ernest Walton believes Cosby is working a “cult,” saying his mom could be upset. “I believe it’s an abomination,” he says. “All the things’s popping out into the sunshine now and all the pieces’s coming down.”
A second former male member, who requested to have his identify withheld and was on the church for 25 years earlier than leaving in round 2018, says Williams was spot on with what he advised Barlow. “It’s cultish what they’ve achieved,” he says. “It’s the psychological manipulation to attempt to get individuals to imagine that she has energy to both take them to heaven or condemn them to hell.”
“It’s not a joke,” says Abby, a former member raised within the church who left age 22 within the late Nineteen Nineties, and requested to have her full identify withheld as a result of a detailed relative remains to be an lively member. “She’s obtained these individuals terrified. That girl is essentially the most evil factor that ever walked this Earth. You haven’t any thought, all these smiles and shit—that isn’t actual.”
Former church member Ralph Arnold Jr. says he “unequivocally” believes Cosby is working a cult, and her teachings go towards basic Christian beliefs. “She preaches that she is God on earth,” he explains. “The church has gone to destroy and most everybody has left as a result of Mary has no anointing in any way when she preaches. She simply screams at her members and mentally abuses them into submission. [She] brainwashes them on the common, to not point out the totally flamboyant and hypocritical life she lives.”
“We have been going to church for spiritual causes,” ex-member Rosebud, who requested for her final identify to be withheld, provides. “We thought we have been studying a brand new lifestyle, a brand new method to reward God, however that was by no means the case… There may be a lot shady stuff happening in that church.”
“You’re afraid to not go to that church and also you’re afraid to go to the church as effectively.”
A feminine former member, who requested anonymity as a result of a member of the family remains to be within the church, likened Cosby and her husband to con artists. “They make you afraid,” she says. “You’re afraid to not go to that church and also you’re afraid to go to the church as effectively. It’s actually tousled… If not a cult, they’re undoubtedly rip-off artists that manipulate the members of the church into giving them just about all of their cash in order that they will stay excessive and mighty on the hill.”
And whereas former member Ernest Enoch disagrees with the time period “cult” and expresses his upset with former members who spoke out towards Cosby, saying the problems dividing Religion Temple must be addressed internally fairly than in public, he admits that when he left the church in Jan. 2021 it value him his relationship with somebody he thought-about household.
“I’d by no means say that I personally belonged to a cult, that’s making me appear to be a idiot,” Enoch says. “I disagree with some issues, however they’re my disagreements. Folks [are] not speaking to one another proper now due to all these things. I noticed any person and it broke my coronary heart as a result of he’s like a son to me and he barely may have a look at me, he barely may speak to me… as a result of he is aware of that I’m not affiliated with them anymore.”
A lawyer for Cosby acknowledged that, “[A]ll spiritual establishments, together with the Religion Temple Pentecostal, settle for donations from their parishioners; nevertheless they don’t power parishioners into poverty to make such contributions.” He acknowledged the suggestion that Cosby calls herself “God” is “extraordinarily offensive and has no foundation in actuality.” (Within the trailer for subsequent season of RHOSLC, Mary is seen angrily telling cast-mate Lisa Barlow “I’m not God—I worship the God in me.”)
Religion Temple Pentecostal Church was began by Cosby’s grandmother Dr. Rosemary Redmon Cosby, recognized to her congregation as “Mama.” In accordance with Religion Temple’s web site, Mama left her hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, along with her 4 kids in January 1961 on a pilgrimage to Salt Lake Metropolis, believing she had been referred to as there by God.
In 1975, she married Robert Cosby, who was 20 years her junior, and he turned Bishop of Religion Temple. Through the years, Mama amassed a large fortune via the church and working varied companies, together with eating places. She owned three houses within the Salt Lake Metropolis space, a rental in close by Zion Summit, in addition to a trip house in St. Cloud, Florida.
“God established via Mama, a church of ministers, as Elisha established a college of prophets,” Robert Cosby wrote on the church’s website. “Mama educating the ministers to be of 1 thoughts, going towards all the pieces that mainstream Christianity teaches and allowed God to manifest himself in her.”
The church was at its peak within the Nineteen Nineties, with Rosebud and Ralph estimating not less than 500 individuals packed into the pews on Sundays. Rosebud’s mom was so deeply invested within the church that Rosebud says she adopted Mama from Indiana to Utah, and that she herself was named in honor of Mama, whose first identify is Rosemary.
Rosebud says her mom took her sisters and her to the church practically every single day, and on Sunday they might be there from sunup till sunset. “That was our life,” she says. “They’d give the adults weekly schedules. If you happen to turned a member of Mama’s church, you have been devoted to attending the entire weekly schedule.”
“I don’t even bear in mind getting any cash in any respect, to be trustworthy with you. I used to be simply grateful that she selected me.”
When congregants weren’t at Religion Temple, those that didn’t have full-time jobs exterior of the church did housekeeping at Mama’s house or at one among her varied companies. Rosebud says her mom, who labored at a neighborhood hospital, did free work in her spare time at Mama’s balloon and flower store, or would go to Mama’s home to wash.
Abby says she was additionally made to work without spending a dime at one among Mama’s eating places. “I don’t even bear in mind getting any cash in any respect, to be trustworthy with you,” she says. “I used to be simply grateful that she selected me.”
Mama died from coronary heart failure on the age of 64 in January 1997, at her trip house in St. Cloud, Florida, forsaking a multimillion-dollar fortune. Her daughter Rosalind Cazares—Cosby’s mom—claimed Mama was in good well being earlier than her sudden demise and urged her stepfather may have been the trigger, according to local reports. Though a choose granted Cazares’ request to have Mama’s physique exhumed and have an post-mortem carried out, it was in the end decided that she died of pure causes.
Cosby claims that it was Mama’s want for her to marry her step grandfather, who she just isn’t associated to by blood, as a result of he was 20 years youthful than Mama. “My grandmother advised me for herself that she needed me to take her place,” Cosby beforehand mentioned. “My grandmother felt like she robbed his youth and so she mentioned, ‘If one thing ever occurs, I would like you to marry one among my women as a result of I do know they’ll be loyal to you and deal with you good such as you handled me.’”
“I did marry him,” she added. “I didn’t need to… That’s bizarre to me. However [my grandmother] actually did need me to, so I obeyed her. I trusted each phrase.”
Cosby claimed they waited and prayed about their relationship for “two years” earlier than tying the knot. Nevertheless, native reports from the time claim they married in Chicago in September 1998. Cosby was 25 and Robert Cosby was 45.
Cosby’s marriage divided the church, prompting Cazares to separate from Religion Temple and begin her personal church, taking half of the congregation along with her, about 200 members, based on The Salt Lake Tribune. Cazares ended up submitting go well with towards Robert Cosby, as soon as in 1997 and once more in 2007, claiming he had mishandled property from her mom’s multimillion-dollar property and supposed to chop her out of her inheritance. (Cazares and Robert Cosby had each been made representatives of Mama’s property.)
“This contains the failure to determine and account for the articles of non-public property that got away, bought, destroyed or in any other case not preserved by defendant Cosby whereas he was appearing as private consultant of the property,” her 2007 go well with claimed. Cazares alleged that Mama’s signature had been solid on deeds and mortgages previous to her demise. A jury in the end ruled in Cazares’ favor, and ordered Robert Cosby and Religion Temple’s enterprise supervisor Annie Johnson to pay her $1.2 million.
Across the time Cazares left and divided the church in spring 1998, Ralph and a few of his relations left the church as effectively. Not solely did he disapprove of the wedding, Ralph says, however he additionally didn’t imagine that Mama or Cosby have been God. “I used to be raised listening to it on a regular basis and watched the adults in my household worship [Mama] and say it on a regular basis,” he explains. “Not solely the adults in my household however her herself. She would preach it… It was crushed into our brains and psyche.”
Some sources say that whereas Mama’s management techniques have been questionable, the state of affairs at Religion Temple deteriorated considerably below Mary’s reign. One of the stunning claims is the verbal dressing downs Cosby allegedly subject from the rostrum, singling out sure members of the church.
The male former member says below Cosby and Robert Cosby “it was all about cash.” On Sundays, he alleges, there could be “grueling hours and hours of individuals badgered” for donations. “They’d sit and demand cash till they obtained a sure greenback determine, no matter [sum] was of their head earlier than they let individuals go” he claims. “Now, that didn’t imply they’d weapons to your head, however they might disgrace you in case you left. They’d disgrace you in case you didn’t give sufficient. So, it was a type of psychological manipulation.”
“I witnessed Mary ridiculing [senior leaders] a few the instances that I went again,” Ralph says, including that he recorded a few of her sermons and posted them on YouTube. “There could be church conferences the place [senior leaders] have been picked aside and mentally crushed down in entrance of the whole congregation… She is blatantly making enjoyable of, ridiculing, and verbally abusing her congregation members.”
In one among these movies, Cosby might be heard calling her congregation poor and stingy, apparently over a scarcity of tithe cash coming into the church and never receiving sufficient birthday playing cards.
“You’re not in church, you suppose I’m silly,” she asks. “Coming in right here draining me? I ain’t preaching over y’all’s sin. I’m doing all the pieces else, y’all ain’t serving to. Midway pay your tithes. I obtained 14 birthday playing cards. Your previous stingy selves. You previous poor individuals. I don’t need no poor individuals round me. You’re poor as hell. And in case you ain’t poor, you stingy trigger you continue to poor! God mentioned you was poor.”
Whereas many Christians imagine in paying tithe to the church, round 10 p.c of their earnings, a number of sources say that each Mama and Cosby demanded a a lot increased proportion. Rosebud remembers that her mom was paying nearly half of her checks to the church when it was led by Mama, taken from her wage as a cleaner at a hospital, the place Rosebud estimates her mom was making $5 an hour within the late Nineteen Nineties.
“Mary and [her husband] require all of their members to provide them far more cash than their month-to-month tithes. They name them love choices,” Ralph explains, saying that such donations stored his household in poverty and subjection.
“There have been a whole lot of instances we might come house [and] we had no lights as a result of my mother mentioned she needed to pay her tithe, or she put somewhat additional within the assortment plate for choices,” Rosebud remembers of the sooner years of the church when it was led by Mama. “If [Mama or leadership found] out you gave two cents to anyone else’s church, they might go off. They are going to rise up there on the pulpit, and they’re going to name you out.”
The feminine former congregation member, whose grandparents and mom have been additionally a part of the church, says she remembers individuals have been compelled handy over their meals stamps in these days. “My mother by no means had Christmas rising up as a result of all the cash [her parents] had for Christmas presents got to the church,” she says. “My grandpa obtained injured within the battle and obtained a settlement of cash and so they took it from him, all of it. Plenty of the members there are on meals stamps, and so they wrestle to pay their very own payments. They [would] make them give them all the pieces.”
The male former member says Mama was at all times clear about the place the funds have been going. “Mama had the utmost respect for the individuals, she was clear in all the pieces, together with monetary conditions throughout the church,” he says.”She didn’t conceal nothing from no person.” Nevertheless, someplace down the road after Cosby married Robert Cosby, he claims “any person had obtained an dependancy to the finer life and noticed that they [could] milk the church members for funds, and stay this unique life.”
Abby says whereas she knew that Cosby and her husband have been rich attributable to inheriting Mama’s varied companies, it wasn’t till seeing Cosby on RHOSLC that she realized the diploma of their wealth, describing the ostentatious show of Cosby’s houses as a slap within the face to her struggling congregation.
Whereas church members have been used to visiting and doing family work at Mama and Robert Cosby’s marital house, Abby remembers that after Mama died, Robert Cosby addressed the church, saying issues could be completely different.
“I’ll always remember the bishop mentioned, ‘This isn’t going to be the identical as when Mama was right here. Y’all abused her, wore her out, killed her. Now, I’m not going to be like that, you’ll not get my face, you’re not going to intrude upon my privateness, issues are going to alter.’”
“All of us by no means knew,” Abby says of seeing Cosby’s mansion and the rooms crammed with racks of designer garments. “That’s the primary time all of us noticed what she had; it’s overwhelming hoarding. We didn’t know that. All of us did suppose, ‘The place’s all this cash going?’ They mentioned we have been going to construct a temple, a temple better than the Mormon Temple. Severely, we’ve been so rattling poor. And that’s the primary time in all these years I ever noticed what they’d.”
“I believe it’s an abomination,” Walton provides, of his niece’s grand show of wealth on the present. “And it’s the worst factor that they explored all of it on TV and obtained to be film stars and stuff. And it’s ridiculous.”
“It’s sickening to consider all of the individuals on fastened earnings and to know family and friends which have took the fairness out of their houses… as a result of they gave to that,” the male former member says.
Abby believes that Mary and Robert Cosby are hellbent on utilizing the church to fund their extravagant way of life. “Belief me, no matter these individuals have, she takes,” she claims.
A number of sources imagine Mama and Cosby’s teachings go towards basic Christian beliefs by referring to themselves as God, in addition to permitting their congregants to discuss with them as God, and by instilling concern in members that they won’t get to heaven until they imagine in them and observe their teachings. “They felt like they have been subsequent to Jesus,” Rosebud says. “[Cosby] preaches that she is God on earth,” Ralph provides.
“You ain’t coming again until you come via me, I do know that. I do know the daddy, honey, and he involves me.”
“Mary is making an attempt to persuade those that she’s God, or like this particular mediator,” the ex male member explains. “That she has energy that she will speak to God and she will resolve the place you’re going [heaven or hell]. Mary tries to equate herself to love a feminine Jesus.”
In an audio recording from one among Cosby’s sermons, Cosby tells the congregation, “You don’t simply stroll up again in right here. You bought to undergo the door… For there’s one God, and one mediator between God and man. Who do you suppose that’s?” A congregation member seems to name out, “You, Mary!”
“I don’t know, I ain’t say it,” Cosby responds. “However you ain’t coming again until you come via me, I do know that. I do know the daddy, honey, and he involves me.”
“They put the concern in you, that in case you don’t go to that church, you’re going to go to hell,” the feminine former member says. “My mother has some points with the damnation of feeling like she’s going to hell. As a grown grownup, she has it crushed into her head, that’s the one manner. She simply is so torn in her coronary heart understanding that it’s not the reality, however as a result of she believed that for therefore lengthy… I imply, it’s brainwashing.”
Rosebud says she felt compelled to talk out after watching Cosby on The Actual Housewives, and in anticipation of Bravo not taking the cult allegations as severely as they deserve. Abby and Rosebud say they need their family members and others who’re nonetheless at Religion Temple to comprehend what’s occurring round them. “Their brains are nonetheless clouded, and so they’re nonetheless devoted,” Rosebud says. “They don’t see something flawed.”
Ralph echoed their sentiments. “I’d inform them to open their eyes and actually study what has occurred,” he provides. “Of their coronary heart of hearts, they must know that God left the management of Religion Temple way back and is now solely of their hearts. I’d behest them to run for his or her lives as quick as they will away from her and [Robert Cosby]. To guard no matter religion they might nonetheless have and attempt to begin therapeutic. [The congregation] is devoted to a fault, and what has occurred to them is simply heartbreaking.”