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Best Friends of Utah: The Process Church of the Final Judgment to Animal Society

Love, Sex, Fear and Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, a bookby Timothy Wylie (Father Micah), reveals the controversial religious roots of Best Friends Animal Society, one of the nation’s largest and most prosperous non-profit animal organizations.  

In 1984, an obscure canyon just north of Kanab, Utah, became the home of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. The 3,700 acres purchased by Best Friends was later extended into an additional 33,000 acres leased from the federal Bureau of Land Management

Their website advises that about 1,700 dogs, cats and other animals live there, some awaiting adoption and some that will spend the rest of their lives.  Best Friends describes itself as “…the nation’s largest no-kill safe haven for displaced, homeless or unwanted domestic animals.”  Guidestar records show income at almost $44 million in 2009 and net assets near $38 million.

But another perspective of Best Friends also appears on their website--that it actuallyoriginated in Arizona in the 1970’s as The Foundation Faith, formerly known as the Process Church and considered a “cult” by some.

Love, Sex, Fear and Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment shows this product description on

“The Process Church of the Final Judgment was the apocalyptic shadow side of the flower-powered ’60s and perhaps the most notorious cult of modern times.

“Hundreds of black-cloaked devotees, often wearing a satanic “Goat of Mendes” and a swastika-like mandala, swept the streets of London, New York, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, and Toronto, selling magazines and books with titles like Fear and Humanity is the Devil. And within the group’s “Chapters,” members would participate in “Midnight Meditations” beneath photographs of the Christ-like leader.

“Celebrities like Marianne Faithful, James Coburn, and Mick Jagger participated in Process publications, and Funkadelic, in its Maggot Brain album, reprinted Process’ “Fear Issue.” Process’ “Death Issue” interviewed the freshly-imprisoned Charles Manson leading to conspiracy hysteria in such books as Ed Sanders’ The Family and Maury Terry’s The Ultimate Evil. A lawsuit against Sanders’ Manson book led to the removal of its Process-themed chapter by Dutton.

Love, Sex, Fear, Death is the shocking, surprising, and secretive inside story of The Process Church, which was later transformed into Foundation Faith of the Millennium, and most recently as the Utah-based animal sanctuary, Best Friends.”

An entry on Wikipedia describes The Process mandala:

“In the original 1960s literature of the church, Christ, Lucifer, Satan, and Jehovah were all arranged on a mandala, with Christ at the top opposite Satan on the bottom and Jehovah on the left opposite Lucifer on the right. (from "The Hierarchy“ published in December 1967, as a part of "The Tide of the End".)"

There are hundreds of fascinating Internet links for The Process Church connection to Best Friends Animal Society.  An effort has been made to decipher fact from speculation and provide comments/reviews that seem based upon objective research or personal knowledge. . Still, a full spectrum of diverse opinions exist, and readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions.

 This review is among the many on

The late 60s, early 70s were rife with cults but this one was very different in that it still has an impact on society so many years later…Since the people that stayed through to the bitter end now run the largest no kill animal sanctuary in the US and are worth millions of dollars, this makes the book even more interesting and relevant.  I was involved with The Process for a few years, on the inside.”  (June 2009, Ute Mattea Heldner)

Best Friends published: “About Us/Before Best Friends” on its own website; and personal profile pages of Francis Battista, director of animal rescue and Best Friends Los Angeles programs, and Faith Maloney, include their involvement with The Process Church.  

These [web]pages describe some of the earlier years of a few of us who were the founders of Best Friends. Today, there are less than a dozen of us …who are actively involved in the work of Best Friends. But we first met each other more than 30 years ago, when most of us were still in our teens in London, England, in the 1960s...we set out on a quest that would lead us to a Mayan ruin in Mexico's Yucatan, and then all across Britain, Europe, and the United States, starting several different spiritually-oriented organizations, and then moving on from each of them… it would be many years before some of us would come back together again to start the work of what is now Best Friends Animal Society.”

In a 1971 article, Preparing for the Fiery End: Process (Harvard Crimston), Bill Beckett interviewed members of The Process and described their theology:

“Processeans see their Church as both a Christian and ‘more than a Christian Church.’ Christ is an emissary of Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan; he is both ‘separate’ from and ‘involved’ with the three gods, a ‘link between man and God.’ He is, they believe, in the world now, and He will reveal Himself before the Final Judgment.”

How to tell the Best Friends Animal Society from the cult who built Kanab,” by Merritt Clifton of Animal People, (March 2004), provides a  history of the Best Friends’ transformation  and describes how Michael Mountain (formerly known as Father Aaron and later President of Best Friends), was one of eight cofounders of the Foundation Faith Church of the Millennium, which incorporated as The Process Church of the Final Judgment in 1967 to “conduct spiritual and occult research.”  In 1995, it reincorporated as Best Friends, under a secular charitable status, rather than as a church.

Differing Viewpoints

An article entitled,“It is dreadful to be an onlooking parent, for the loved child is lost” is introduced as follows:  ”(20 Oct. 1999... from his new biography of Alistair Cooke, Nick Clarke reveals how the broadcaster's daughters became entangled in a sinister cult.)”

“One of the lowest points was reached in the summer of 1965. Holly [the daughter of Cooke's second wife, Jane], still living in London, …and was attracted to a small, obscure group known as the Process, run by a pair of self-promoting amateur psychotherapists.

“Robert and Mary Ann de Grimston had met through the Church of Scientology and set up their own headquarters in London, soon gravitating to Mayfair. To begin with, they offered radical sessions of what they called "Compulsions Analysis" in return for fees. But in due course, their "patients" were sucked into a complete commitment to the group, sometimes handing over large sums of money, and giving up friends and family.”

It has been reported that Mary Ann McClean DeGrimston DePeyer died at Best Friends Sanctuary.  Here’s the obit on Wed 30 Nov 2005 by skeptical theurgist (who states he is a former Processean):

Mary-Ann De Peyer died on November 14, 2005. She had reportedly been in a comatose state for two years prior to her death. 

“She was best known as Mary-Ann De Grimston, when she was the co-founder and the primary driving force behind The Process - Church of the Final Judgement. After her husband, Robert De Grimston, was ousted in 1974, and she and Robert divorced, she continued as the effective, though concealed, leader of the group, which for some years was called The Foundation Faith of God.

“During the past two decades, she was known as Mary-Ann De Peyer after her marriage to Gabriel De Peyer, who appears to have taken on the mantle of spiritual direction of the inner group at the Best Friends animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Best Friends is the ultimate successor to The Process (, although most of its staff and supporters have no connection with its earlier forms or original belief system.”

The Process Children: Best Friends’ Legacy(an opinion by CircleSphere, July 6, 2009)

Recently, a book by the title of Love, Sex, Fear, and Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment was published. Its author, Timothy Wyllie, was one of the first members of the Process Church, which formed the early beginnings of the group that founded Best Friends Animal Society: MaryAnn de Peyer, Michael Mountain, Raphael de Peyer, Gabriel de Peyer, Paul Eckhoff, Faith Mahoney, Cyrus and Anne Mejia, Celeste and John Fripp, Gregory Castle, and Francis Battista to mention a few, were all in the inner circle of the Process Church and the Foundation Faith.

“Although this fact has been downplayed by Best Friends PR, many of us in Kanab, Utah remember Best Friends starting as the Foundation, and its core members referred to until this day as “the Founders”. ..Gabriel de Peyer, born Jonathan and named Father Christian in the Process, is shown in a page-size picture in full Process garb; a red robe with the Process symbol, which is disturbingly reminiscent of a swastika

“Michael Mountain, born Hugh Mountain, named Father Aaron in the Process, is pictured with a Foundation necklace. The Foundation symbol is a Jewish star with the F symbol in the middle, which again resembles a swastika.

“Other prominent Best Friends founders are depicted with this necklace as well, such as Cyrus and Anne Mejia. Andrew Castle, Father Mendes in the Process, and Father Gregory in the Foundation and Best Friends, is also pictured several times with cult paraphernalia. Geraldine Mahoney, Mother Hathor in the Process, and Faith in the Foundation and Best Friends is also pictured and mentioned. Vivian Ebbs (“Sister Lucina”), who functioned for years as Best Friends' cat manager, is pictured as a beautiful young and innocent girl on the cover of the April 1975 Foundation Magazine. The list goes on.

“…What permeates Wyllie's writing however most noticeably is his regret about the Process children. It is a serious issue as is evident in Gabriel de Peyer's son's 2007 book, Coast to Coast

Best Friends and The Process (excerpts from post by skeptical theurgist on Mon 22 Aug 2005)

“In March 2004, the Rocky Mountain News outed the people running Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, as The Process in its latest incarnation. The Cone of Silence had been raised, and the Best Friends management felt the need to 'fess up. A few days later, they added a section to its website, mostly written by Michael Mountain and giving their own version of the past. This is still (as of August 2005) available at

“The primary fiction is that The Process consisted of a bunch of 1960s counter-cultural seekers, consensually choosing a bohemian, back-to-nature lifestyle…but the cult-like nature of the group is carefully erased in Mountain's description…”

“Mountain's aim, it seems, and that of the other members who wrote this story, is to make it plain that everything before caring for animals was just prologue, or a youthful exuberance…in that first crazy decade spent as The Process? Or for The Foundation during much of the second? Back then, the End of the World and redemption therefrom overrode all other ideological messages, even if anti-vivisection was a cause we intermittently embraced…”

“It shows that, rather than seeing and accepting those years clearly, and truly moving on, they are endlessly perpetuating them.


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