How responsible is the International House of Prayer for the death of Bethany Deaton?

By Rick Hiebert. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission

Rolling Stone has a sordid tale of cruelty and death in its January 30, 2014 issue. And the International House of Prayer hypercharismatic movement, I suspect, is hoping that you won’t read it.

Following the death of Bethany Deaton in 2012, the issue has been simmering in US papers and their blogosphere, But surely the prominent attention that Rolling Stone magazine is drawing to this will bring it all to a rolling boil.

It’s a gripping tale. The Rolling Stone feature reports on a small group of twentysomething Americans who began to gather together in recent years at Southwestern University in Texas. The informal leader, Tyler Deaton, led the about 20 people–who lived together communally and had worship gatherings together– towards the International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement in Kansas City, Missouri. Tyler Deaton, who studied at and graduated from the IHOP “university” married Bethany, one of the members of the group.

It perhaps started innocently, but didn’t end that way.

Rolling Stone begins by reporting on Bethany Deaton’s dead body being found on October 30, 2012. What appeared to be a suicide note was found near the body.

Attention turned to Micah Moore, who has a confession to make. He had killed, Bethany, he told police, as Tyler’s urging. This was in order to cover up the sordid practices of the group. Deaton has not been charged, but Moore has since recanted an withdrawn his confession. latest news is that he will be tried in November.

The group broke up soon after Bethany’s passing But there is an ongoing interest On the roup and the International House of Prayer that will only be increased By Rolling Stone’s coverage.

Reading the story, I have the feeling that Tyler Deaton may have been on the way to being addle-brained before IHOP, but Rolling stone lays the tragedy at the feet of IHOP’s aberrant theology, which affected the minds and hearts of all in the group. Tyler Deaton, Rolling Stone implies, was made crazy by his odd theological beliefs. Their reporters odes on the scene reporting of the atmosphere there are quotes founder Mike Bickle. Rick Joyner’s The Final Quest, and it’s view of the “end times” is cited as well.

Deaton is a graduate of IHOP’s University and was listed as a lay leader of IHOP, Rolling Stone emphasizes.

I think we can address the implied question that Rolling Stone asks, without exactly using the words: “How responsible is the International House of Prayer for the death of Bethany Deaton?”

IHOP, immediately following the tragedy, was doing a bit of a buck-and-wing after the tragedy. IHOP in Kansas City numbers in the thousands now, and they can’t keep a close eye on everyone, they might protest. Bout pastoral oversight is important in any church.

The relevant statements from IHOP remain online.

Forerunner Christian Fellowship, the “locl church expression” in the Kansas City area for IHOP (The IHOP Kanasas City Missions Base), says that although Tyler Denton and his group were connected TO IHOP, they demanded to be independent, or rather Tyler Denton wanted this on their behalf:

After Deaton graduated from IHOPU in May 2012 he began to show interest in our FCF small groups. That summer our FCF small groups came under a new director, who formed a temporary, think-tank-type discussion group made up of volunteers, who met to discuss ideas on how to improve small groups. Deaton attended this group, though he made it very clear to our small groups director that his independent Bible study group would not be connected in any way. On one occasion in October 2012 Deaton facilitated a breakout discussion of seven or eight people. We now believe his interest in our small groups was to try to promote his own agenda within our organization.

A volunteer mistakenly labeled Deaton as a divisional coordinator when preparing a preliminary small groups info packet. Because the small groups director was not consulted and did not catch the error, the volunteer continued to reprint the mistake. The incorrect information has since been removed….”

Enter blogger Kendall Beachey. He knew the group, and was as fellow graduate of IHOP’s “university. Although he has since left IHOP and never belonged to Tyler’s group, it could be fair to say that he was perhaps friends with them.

He’s since blogged about his experiences with Tyler and the group. When Bethany first died, Kendall was conatct by someone at IHOP about this “independent” group. Naturually Kendall wanted to help, so he went to the communal house.

So he was there when this happened.

….When the IHOP leaders showed up, they were not alone. The police were there, just out of sight, and when Tyler stepped onto the porch, it was all over. It was November 9th, 2012 and Tyler Deaton was being taken in for questioning for the first time.

I was the one who opened the door. Not a part of the group. An outsider. No longer at IHOP. An outsider.”

And what did the people from IHOP want?

The men coming to the house had given Tyler a choice. If he left the International House of Pr’ayer (IHOP), never contacted anyone in his worship group again, and became integrated into another church, then after three or four years he could be in good standing with IHOP once more. He was told IHOP would help him to transition home, but after that, he was on his own.

They seemed to exert a lot of authority over Tyler indvidually and over the group members collectively for an “independent ” group that wasn’t supposedly connected to IHOP.

We can call what happened here what I think it is.

Damage Control.

Rolling Stone seems To be on a right track. Hopefully more digging will ensue.

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8 Responses to How responsible is the International House of Prayer for the death of Bethany Deaton?

  1. Mark Byron says:

    That’s going to take some time to digest.

    There’s a lot of NAR in my dad’s circle of friends and I’ve been to small group meetings that could stunt-double for the groups mentioned in the piece. Toronto is more of a touchstone than IHOP for the one’s I’ve seen, but IHOP has its fans in that milieu.

    From my experience, IHOP and other NAR-style groups tend to draw obsessive, over-the-top personalities; When obsessiveness is expressed in a devotion to God tack, it’s seen as a feature rather than a bug. I can see the Dentons fitting in all too well in some of the more “out-there” small groups.

    In 20/20 hindsight Tyler Denton was an accident looking for a time and place to happen; a same-sex-attracted obsessive with a appetite for the supernatural finds a honorable outlet in a NAR group. His obsession marks him as spiritually gifted and rises in the ranks and lets him become essentially a small-scale cult leader with in the group.

    IHOP was the manifestation of NAR that Denton found his way too, but any hyper-charismatic group could have wound up being at the wrong place at the wrong time and had this happen. It seems to be an offshoot of assuming that obsessiveness in the name of God is a virtue and letting warped obsessives rise through the ranks without tempering.

  2. John Payzant says:







  3. Rick Hiebert says:


    Well put. I bought the magazine two days ago, so you may be able to buy it now.

  4. Paul D. says:

    Mike Bickle and his cohorts claim to receive prophetic revelation and supernatural messages of discernment practically on demand. Unless they are all liars, surely the Holy Spirit gave them some kind of warning that this was going on under their noses.

  5. Kevin Kleint says:

    Thanks Rick, for commenting on this. I wanted to blog on it quite some time ago, but for some reason, it didn’t happen …. possibly because I couldn’t get my flesh out of the way. These kind of situations really anger me …. innocent lives are hurt (or murdered in this case), and yet people still look up to these false prophets.

    God bless ….

    Kevin Kleint

  6. John cole says:

    Mr. Byron seems to be on the right track when he suggests that certain mental disorders can be admired in extreme contexts such as the hyper-Christianity encouraged at ihop. Maybe it’s the absence of a sense of our limitations that causes one person to believe another person is capable of receiving direct communications from Headquarters. Insert a well-rounded psychopath into the mix and if he is good, like the creator of Jonestown, you have people like Micah Moore suffocating a innocent person to death. I wonder what pretext her husband used on Bethany to have her write the words of the letter found near her body.

  7. Rick Hiebert says:

    The Atlantic magazine has an article on this now written by Boze Herrington. He’s a former member of the group.

    His take on this is “Seven Signs you’re in a cult”

  8. arendale says:

    I became aware of this story less than a week ago. I’ve been in NAR type churches and groups, and they always had the flakiest and darkest characters (most of it you don’t see on the surface; I wish the IHOP ‘prophets’ were discerning enough to see it among their followers). No matter how much ugliness I see within these types of groups and churches, it never ceases to amaze me the things that go on in them. The IHOP-Deaton fiasco is not at all a surprise to me. (Afterall, John did say that if you don’t genuinely-practically love your brother, you are a murderer already at heart (and so if you ever physically murder, it’s just your inner murderer surfacing).) What amazes me is that these kinds of personalities so easily fit in among Christians and ministers who accept them as normal without exercising any discernment.

    I agree with all the comments so far; I think Mark Byron said it best. It’s refreshing to hear people who still have their eyeballs intact. It really ticks me off that people have to die or suffer if anything at all might be done. Cheers to Rolling Stone, Heibert, Beachey, Boze, and all others who wrote an honest article on this case. I just pray that some type of God-meted justice is brought to bear on such a horrendous atrocity as this in regard to deceptive IHOP leadership, Deaton, Moore, and all those involved. God bless and deliver from hyper-Charismania the families of all the students affected– especially Bethany’s. May they have eyes to see the roots (causes where intervention is possible before outcome), and not just the branches (effects at which time it’s too late to intervene), of these types of horrible conclusions.

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