Heaven Bent

Reviews For Heaven Bent


I enjoyed season 1 especially when facts were given and scientific studies. I couldn’t tell until the last episode if Tara Jean was pro Christianity or not, which I liked. I liked that it challenges beliefs and gave history on her denomination. Season 2 was ok but it went down hill from there. Season 3 felt like I was listening to teenage girls gossip about what was happening at their church. It comes across as shallow although I don’t think it was meant to be that way.
Trying to figure out the best way to say what I want to say has been difficult. I would describe my church experience as evangelical, Anglican, maybe a bit charismatic. I believe some, not all are gifted with speaking in tongues. Season one was an interesting start. I have no personal experience with the Pentecostal church(es), but have seen how they have wrecked friends. I think Tara Jean did an excellent job tackling her own pain and curiosity about her past experience. I greatly dislike that her experience caused her pain and to turn completely away from the saving grace offered by a personal relationship with Jesus. There’s no hurt like a church hurt. Season two was another good season, but season three became something else. Cultural appropriation? Why can we no longer be inspired by or incorporate parts of another culture? Overall I think this is a good listen, especially if you have had a similar experience or are wanting to understand how the people in a church can twist the Gospel. Let it serve as a warning to read and seek the truth in the Bible.
Ugh, another journalist trying to perpetuate the CRT theory. I liked this podcast until you pulled this crazy theory. Ridiculous woke, woke. Ugh!
I grew up in the First Assembly of God church in Hot Springs, AR. I had no clue of it’s ties to the larger Pentecostal movement. The racism tracks…. So now I get to add that to the deconstruction journey.
I randomly came across this podcast and binged the entire podcast in 2 days. It’s a help in trying to deconstruct my own pentecostal experience and involvement.
I got so involved listening that I skipped my normal early bedtime and listened most of the night into the next morning. Regret it? Nope.
I really enjoyed seasons 1 & 2 and especially 2 because of how personal it was to Tara Jean. I liked that this wasn’t an anti-church hit piece but more of a reflective journey where she just asked questions. I thought she was fair in that the church wasn’t just all bad or all good (as are most things in the world) but more importantly the church may not be looking at itself under the same lens. Really interesting stuff and I was disappointed when both seasons were over. Worth a listen for sure!!
I was riding on the back of my husband’s bike yesterday watching the scenery zoom by. We crossed into Smith Co., TN (I live an hour or so away) and low and behold we passed the Emmanuel Church!! I squealed like I’d just seen Elvis! Love this podcast!
This podcast is addicting but more importantly educational!
All the well done true crime podcasts are addictive, bingeworthy & thought provoking. I'm going to listen to the two previous seasons.
Very insightful, lowkey addictive (I say that in the healthiest way possible)
Heaven bent has really changed my perspective. I had grown up going to charasmaric churches, But didn’t realize this as I had never heard that term before listening to this and had never knew it wasn’t the norm for Christianity. I’ve been to churches in several different denominations of christian churches and speaking in tongues and faith healing/laying hands was prevalent in all. for example, I had primarily gone to the Pentecostal charismatic churches mentioned but also more traditional Christian churches that did this and so I didn’t know it was something that wasn’t practiced throughout all Christianity .. learning that it isn’t really opened my eyes. Even though I no longer attend church I wonder what affect being in that environment that is not the same for all Christian kids during my childhood had on my critical developmental years and on my psyche and how it may be affected my decisions as an adult. Thank you for this podcast! Great job, very informative unbiased and very respectful to the people of faith that you interviewed.
It’s refreshing to hear someone disagree with a religion without being judgmental or snarky. I am thoroughly enjoying listening to the podcast. It is informative and thought provoking. And to top it off, Tara is adorable. Keep up the good work!
I really enjoyed season 1. Season 2 was ok. Season 3 has been my least favorite. Sharon just sounds bitter and angry. I miss the unbiased reported facts. This season just sounds like a venting session 🤷🏼‍♀️.
Interesting podcast up until the point of walk politics being woven into the story. Seriously? Can we not enjoy anything without modern day woke politics?
This podcast is stretched longer than it needs to be, the episodes are so slow and add almost nothing new. This is obviously so they can have more episodes and put the later episodes behind a paywall forcing you to pay to finish the story. The whole story could be told in 2 episodes. I ended up just looking up the case and saved myself a bunch a lot of time.
I’m one of those people who say they don’t usually leave reviews. And I don’t! But, I have to say: I don’t think I can continue listening due to the woman who Tara discusses the case with (I didn’t catch her name). Her hysterical, sardonic laughter is obnoxious and she’s just so shallow! For one example on the episode I heard today, she actually has a good laugh over someone who “never got over the trauma” that afflicted her until she died. Tara doesn’t participate in that which I’m grateful for, but it’s not enough relief. I don’t know if she’s affecting her Southern accent, but in combination with her constant cackling it’s more than I can take. It’s too bad because the podcast is interesting and Tara is excellent!
Fantastic. As a person who grew up w/on religion and married a person who was forced into childhood religion. This podcast has been a really eye opening & relatable journey!! Thanks so much!!
It’s almost like a relationship/true crime/documentary/society & culture/religion ALL IN ONE AMAZINGGGGG podcast! I hate i didn’t find it until season 3, but better late than never!
They must not have much content and are moving really slow to stretch it out.I really want to find out what happened but if I have to listen to a recording of another gospel song I’m probably gonna have to jump ship.
I love the background music and Tara’s loving tone is admirable and non-judgemental. Good work.
I loved season 1. As a kid who grew up AOG and regularly “pilgrimaged” to the Brownsville Revival, I really enjoyed the fair assessment of season 1. It allowed me to navigate and unpack my own questionable experiences. However, I agree with many others in being extremely disappointed in the political bias that’s showing up as I’ve started season 2. Though I no longer attend church or live my former life, it’s not at all shocking to note that the state of CA is quite hypocritical in pretending that covid is not a concern at city protests and riots, but IS a concern when singing in church (and must therefore be banned.) That’s the very definition of a double standard. So for Bethel to call out this double standard is not at all controversial in my opinion. I was much more interested in this podcast diving deeper than that.
As someone who grew up charismatic and has tons of friends and family who still are, I was really excited to listen to this season. While some of the details were a bit eye-opening, nothing really surprise me. I tend to land where the show ended; I’m not convinced that Bill Johnson is evil, but I do think he is wildly misguided. I have personally experienced severe spiritual abuse at the hands of charismatic Christians. It is quite simply, a Petri dish ripe for abuse. While Johnson may not be directly beating the emotional stuffing out of people underneath him, his teachings (and especially those of Danny Silk on “honor culture”) foster a belief system that supports a hierarchy in which abuse can and does take place. I already knew all that going into the podcast; the excellent journalism just verified what I already knew in my observation of friends and in my gut takes on what I’ve heard from both Johnson and his followers or co-leaders. I’m with a few other reviewers; this could be an entire podcast, season after season. But if that can’t happen, there are no shortage of other groups, even if they aren’t as globally influential. Morningstar Ministries (Rock Joyner) comes to mind. In my view, they actually influence Bethel, not the other way around. Or heck, tackle something like #ACNAtoo. Now there’s a rabbit hole. Either way, I loved this season and would encourage anyone who has been involved with Bethel or any other charismatic church or organization to give this a listen. And check out Julie Roys, too, who also investigates and reports on spiritual abusive systems and people. This podcast is but a drop in the bucket, but I’m so glad it exists. Please, keep it up. PS- I love how positive Tara Jean Stevens is. Even though she’s a critic in the end, I never caught a hateful vibe from her, which is so common when people offer critiques of churches or Christianity. She insisted on seeing positive intent, and I applaud her for that.
Just took half of today to listen to season 2. These interviews were so relatable on several levels for me, from being a BSSM student from a Seventh Day Adventist background to now exploring my queerness and identity outside of Christianity. Loaded. Always reassuring to know I’m not alone and I’m curious about that 20 year challenge Bill gives regarding faith and actions of those who go through BSSM. Thank you for taking time to delve into this.
I never went to Toronto but when I was growing up my church was the hub of the Rodney Howard Browne laughing revival in the St. Louis area. This podcast brings back a lot of memories for me. I also went to a Bible school similar to the Bethel school of supernatural ministry. On the one hand I don’t want to have much to do with that kind of religion anymore. But on the other hand I miss it. It’s nice to hear my experience validated.
As someone who has experienced Bethel intimately and lives in Redding, I was very nervous to listen to this podcast in the middle of deconstructing and trying to figure my life out. But I was surprised and thankful to find myself at the end of it feeling more clear-headed and less emotionally charged than I was expecting. Tara Jean shares her journey openly, and I can relate to a lot of the questions she is asking about the supernatural. She challenges Bethel’s status quo, but not maliciously, and she features moments throughout that recognize the powerful nature of the church and why people are drawn to it. I do think there’s much more that she could dig into, and I hope there will be a season 3!
I loved the balance between honesty and openness. I loved the history that somewhat explains the hysteria. I loved the unedited emotions.
I miss it already… totally binged it at work the last couple days!! Moving and fascinating.
I really enjoyed season one and season two. Season one validated a lot of my feelings towards the revival time. Season two, I do wish that she was able to gain more positive insight directly from the Bethel church, but It sounds like they wanted nothing to do with the podcast. Both seasons are awesome.
By listening to this podcast I have been challenged in my own walk. And I have come out at the end of this having a proper view of the realities of my walk. Very even balanced insights Allowing me to come to my own conclusions.
I live in Redding and have had several experience with Bethel members. This podcast mainly discussed Sean Feucht, covid, and Trump. I feel that all could’ve been discussed in one episode and not been the main focus. There’s SO much more you could’ve discussed but it seemed like you put all of your energy into exposing political opinions of Bethel and their mask preference. You could’ve talked about how they buy up all of the property in Redding and rent it to only Bethel students or have it as air bnbs for travelers. You could’ve mentioned their “God in Business” seminars that are $$$ and convince established families to drop everything and open a business in Redding (most of them fail leaving these people in loads of debt). Their healing rooms. The bethel students who tried to pray a friend to safety rather than calling police (several stories about things like this!!). Their private elementary and high school that is basically an intro to the Bethel school and $$$. Their unaccredited performing arts school. How their curriculum is incredibly expensive and they leave students begging for handouts and forced to work several jobs to make ends meet on top of their demanding school schedule. The language barrier of students coming from all over the world. The fact that Bill Johnson took a giant sword around students and “knighted them”. THERE IS SO MUCH MORE but you chose to dedicate several episodes to politics. I hope you can do another season on this church and really dive deep. I was told by a bethel member that they could pray my dead baby alive. They’re insane!
As an exchristian who grew up going on youth trips to the Brownsville Revival and attending AOG youth rallies and camps, this is a great podcast. The host explores the these “supernatural” events to try to document what happened and what people experienced. I have spent some time trying to unpack my experiences in the movements. Some of the episodes were triggering for me, but overall, it is an excellent podcast.
For the most part, Tara did a good job. However, I was saddened to hear increasing skepticism and denouncing certain ministers who have touched people’s lives. I haven’t listened to any episodes from Season 2 since much of it appears to be fault finding Bethel Redding. No ministry is perfect because God uses imperfect people. I pray those of you who have been disappointed with (and even hurt by) church people will regain a child-like faith and receive all the good things He has for you.
As a resident of Redding who has attended bethel, know people who have attended the school and have had many run ins with the students out in public, I find this to be an incredibly accurate representation. For the people who find this to be too political? How could it not be? The church has immersed itself in politics. That couldn’t be simply ignored. Went into Covid too much? Okay but that’s what was going on when she was creating it and it all happened, it wasn’t over exaggerated. There were thousands who went to their prayer session at the river, from all over the country. Too biased? How? She clearly has a love for religion, she’s simply giving straight facts about a specific church and even goes to say how wonderful the one person she interviewed currently attending BSSM is. I loved listening and can’t wait for another season.
“…so many people are suffering because of it. How can a church that is at its core ‘good’ be leaving such a long trail of collateral damage in its wake?” This story, how the “church” falls into that statement, is a story that needs to be told again and again until the root cause is addressed.
I really wanted to like this podcast, started in season two. I could not get through the first episode because the narrators tone which suggests her own opinion in a way that a listener who may share another opinion would feel uncomfortable listening to. I was looking forward to an unbiased view of Bethel church so that I could make my own opinion based on the research she obviously worked hard on. Just another disappointment on these Apple podcast.
While the first season was interesting, she seems to make a half hearted effort to be unbiased but fails dismally. Much of the second season was extremely run of the mill, un-unique, COVID political.
Huge fan of season 1. Not so much season 2. Felt more like a push of her own political agenda.
This was a fantastic podcast. I appreciate Tara’s agenda on being neutral. I’m an evangelical Christian, so I felt like Tara did a great job explaining how this movement seems to be church specific (and man, is it a crazy story!). Incredibly interesting/troubling and well done! Thank you for your journalism.
Tara Jean Stephens makes a valid attempt at being neutral and fair to both side of the question she is trying to answer. Sometimes, I do find myself frustrated at a bias here and there, but it is clear she is trying to avoid that. For example the episode in season 2 on the Bethel and the Covid protocols I was unable to finish, but that is the exception, not the rule with this podcast. I reccomend this podcast as informative and fair, and I say that as a Christian who has also run in the Charasmatic circles as she once did and have come out with a much different perspective. This is a Good Podcast that I look foward to more season of.
Interesting topic, but the host approaches the topics with the lack of journalistic rigor.
I appreciate the host’s heart - she asks great questions and builds relationships with the people she’s interviewing to give a very insightful, nuanced look at, in this season, Bethel Church in Redding. I learned so much that added to my understanding. Highly recommend.
Thank you for speaking up about the dangers of fundamental evangelical churches. Your podcast brings back so many memories for me, and it is very affirming to hear someone articulate so well about the negative aspects of these cult-like belief systems. Great podcast and fun to listen to!!!
I love the interviews and hearing experiences from another person who has deconstructed. Can’t wait for the 3rd season.
You pretty much sum up my youth and young adult life with the work your doing here. Growing up in the DMV giving my mind and life to my childhood church I experienced the same cult like environment. Now the church I was once apart of Is groomed by Bethel. Thank you so much for giving your heart to this type of journalism.
Full disclosure, I did a year of BSSM over a decade ago, and it took me years to learn about some of the things this podcast introduces. Instead, me and my classmates blundered into failed ministry after failed ministry trying to figure out why “the world” seemed so apathetic to the Jesus we were trying to share. I agree the podcast is covering a huge complicated topic, but this conversation needed to be started, and I’m grateful to Tara Jean for doing it! :)


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Excellent documentation and history of Bethel church in season two and the Toronto Vineyard in season one. Season was not surprising to me as someone who was raised in a Pentecostal church. But was very interesting and informative. Season two was terrifying, having not known the history and current political involvement of Bethel church. I was both dismayed and saddened that those claiming to love God and follow him could do so much damage. Excellent reporting and a well done documentation by Tara.
What a great show. Thoughtful, well researched, and so relevant. Thank you for your work. I just finished season 2 and I hope there is more to come.
Incredibly balanced approach at dissecting such a complex environment and belief system. So honest and real. So eye opening to the "good" and the "bad".