RHOSLC Why Mary Cosby’s church is accused of being a cult

On last Sunday’s episode of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, a former preacher of Mary Cosby’s church spoke out about the church at Lisa Barlow’s Fresh Wolf party benefiting Utah Foster Care. Cameron Williams, a community leader who has since passed away, made a point to speak about Faith Temple Pentecostal to Lisa and Meredith Marks while Bravo cameras were rolling, and he’s not the only former member to have negative experiences and see Mary’s church as a cult.

At the end of the episode, Lisa introduced Meredith to Cameron, who was currently fostering two young kids. Lisa said that she met Mary Cosby through Cameron and pointed out that Meredith was good friends with Mary. Cameron didn’t seem too impressed with that knowledge. Lisa then got pulled away for a photo opp, leaving Meredith and Cameron to talk further.

Meredith asked Cameron how he met Mary, and he replied “I used to attend her church. Thankfully I’m now out of that situation. I no longer attend that church.” Meredith pushed further to ask why, but Cameron was kind of vague. He stated that while the people who attend the church are good people, Mary and her husband “have done some things that are very harmful. I hope for healing from everyone, I truly do.”

Cameron Williams on RHOSLC

Meredith said she doesn’t like hearing this because she “loves Mary.” Cameron says he once loved Mary too. “Just be careful,” he warned. Meredith shared that she attended Mary’s church last year and felt nothing but good feelings. Cameron responded that he understands why she felt that way, but attributed it to the fact that it was her first time attending the church. He says in time, the truth comes out about the church. He was there for seven years before he realized this “truth.”

He still wouldn’t reveal to Meredith what he found out, instead deflected by saying it was “Mary’s story to tell.” He then abruptly left after his cryptic message, leaving Meredith feeling freaked out. Lisa explained that Cameron had actually been a preacher at Mary’s church, and she believes that he has experienced “real trauma.”

In an upcoming scene that has been used in a preview, Cameron goes a little further into his problems with Mary. “Is it a cult? Yes. Does she call herself ‘God’? Yes,” he says. Later, Mary addresses this accusation by telling Lisa “I worship the god in me!”

“I believe him. I believe his feelings,” Lisa Barlow told Page Six about her late friend. “I believe he was an amazing person. I believe he had an amazing heart. It’s important for people to hear his side and what he went through because it might be healing and helpful for people to hear what Cameron said to me.”

The Daily Beast spoke to some former members of Mary’s church Faith Temple, who also describe it as a “cult.” They report that she manipulates and exploits her congregation. She convinces them to work in her family businesses for free, or for low pay, and tells them they’ll be condemned to hell if they don’t tithe enough.

There was also audio leaked last year of Mary insulting her congregation by calling them “stingy” and “poor.”

“You’re not in church, you think I’m stupid? Coming in here draining me? I ain’t preaching over y’all’s sin. I’m doing everything else, ya’ll ain’t helping. Halfway pay your tithes,” Mary says. “I got 14 birthday cards. Your old stingy selves. You old poor people. I don’t want no poor people around me. You’re poor as hell. And if you ain’t poor, you stingy cause you still poor! God said you was poor.”

During the reunion for Season 1, Mary denied that she’s able to afford designer items and live in a big house because of her congregation, and attributed her personal wealth to the family businesses like soul food restaurants, hair salons, and property management. She also addressed the leaked audio by saying that it was taken out of context, even though there was plenty of context to understand the meaning of what she was saying. It sounded just like the emotional and financial manipulation she’s being accused of by ex-parishioners.

Mary’s grandmother Rosemary founded the church. After she died, Rosemary’s husband Robert Sr. married Mary, his former step-granddaughter. He’s the pastor of the church but considers Mary, who goes by the title “First Lady” to be his equal. Mary hasn’t spoken with her mother in 25 years because her mother believed she was “next in line” to marry Robert Sr. and continue Rosemary’s legacy, which included a multi-million dollar estate.

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