Category Archives: Cult Identification Tools

Love Bombing – Cult Tactic

Love Bombing is a tactic often employed by cults as a way of luring prospective members.  Current members typically “love bomb” potential or desired new recruits by showing them with affection, praise, and offers of friendship.  Experts warn that this seemingly kind and welcoming practice is often the first step in a mind control (“brainwashing”) process that leads to religious conversion or involvement with a group that may be harmful to its membership or society.

 

I was made aware of this once I left.  A member of the group told me that they were instructed to give us special treatment and to be extra nice to us.  I was showered with attention, and people found just about everything I talked about interesting.  I felt a sense of belonging and I felt understood.  I felt that I was in a place where “real” love was going on.

This technique created a sense of euphoria and belonging.  I felt loved and appreciated and longed to give back the same feelings.  When new people came, I would always be so excited to meet the new people and be around them, listen to them and encourage them too.  Both the giving and receiving of the love bombing was rewarding.

This tool is not only a hook, but its also the net which entraps them member into the group.  Many people often wonder, “Why would you stay there?” after hearing about much of the bad practices and abuse, and mind control going on.  The love bombing created a “high” that was always longed for.  It can easily be compared to the gambling addict.  (S)He keeps going back to the casino again and again, loosing every time, hoping for the next “big win”, and every now and then, there is a win.  That keeps them coming back, and over time, the addict has lost way more money than they have won.

Its the same thing with cults. Similar to the boiling frog story that can be placed in a pot of cool water, and then slowly heated up to a boil.  The frog can escape at any time, but doesn’t notice the change until it is too late.


Here are a few other videos I found interesting on the topic of love bombing that really help explain the concept.  I apologize for any inappropriate language. Also, please don’t focus on the specific groups, but rather the concepts that are being presented.


Cults are about “Mind Control”

mindcontrolWhen you get down to the nuts and bolts of what a cult is and how they work, the ultimate root of everything is mind control.  And what I mean by that is having the ability to control someone’s thoughts and actions in a very covert or overt way.  While most examples are very covert.

While most cults have one centralized, charismatic, guru-type leader, some don’t, but I have seen that most all have at least been started with a guru character.

Cult leader develop a “god complex” when they realize that they have the power to control and manipulate others.  As their time progresses, they seem to get worse and worse.  For example, Jim Jones started out as a preacher in Indiana, but most people considered him harmless.  But using his political perspective of communism and extreme Christian views, those combined resulted in what eventually became “The People’s Temple” and led to a more communal life style of isolationism and psychological entrapment.  Jones eventually began calling himself a god to people.

The phrase remains true “power corrupts, ultimate power corrupts absolutely”.  Mind control is power, and this power is like a drug, and cult leaders want more of it, and cannot get enough of it.

 

Cults are not about Religion

OurAmericaShotWhile my experience comes from what cult experts call a “Bible Based Cult”, cults are not confined to religion, Christianity, New Age philosophies, Buddhism, finding your perfect chakra, etc…  That happens to be one perspective of cults.  Ultimately once you realize what is going on, the religion or spirituality is not the center of what is going on,   the religion is only a tool or a mechanism for engaging in mind control and providing a means to tear down internal barriers.

What seems to happen in Bible Based Cults is that the doctrines of Christianity become a “red hearing” and usually leads people down a path of redirection and completely misses the whole concept of how cults work and the whole mind control.

But it is easier just to call someone a false prophet and disprove their doctrines.  But then it comes down to a disagreement of philosophies and it looks like the age old argument of “tastes great, less filling“.  If you have ever heard the phrase: “You can’t argue with a mad man”, then you will understand that cult members eventually take on the identity of the cult leader or the cult group and when encountering with a doctrinal discussion with a bible based cult member, your really not going to get anywhere, because you will essentially be arguing doctrinal differences with the cult leader.  Unless you can tear down those psychological barriers.

Zimbardo – Who is Susceptible to Join a Cult?

ZimbardoDr. Philip Zimbardo:

“Whatever any member of a cult has done, you and I could be recruited or seduced into doing–under the right or wrong conditions. The majority of ‘normal, average, intelligent’ individuals can be led to engage in immoral, illegal, irrational, aggressive and self destructive actions that are contrary to their values or personality–when manipulated situational conditions exert their power over individual dispositions.”

The stark reality is that given the right conditions, anyone is susceptible to falling under the influence of a cult.  Cults are not just confined to religions.

Quoting Zimbardo again:

No one ever joins a “cult.” People join interesting groups that promise to fulfill their pressing needs. They become “cults” when they are seen as deceptive, defective, dangerous, or as opposing basic values of their society.

The Narcissistic Cult Leader

SuperMan-ClarkKentAt the heart of most cults is a narcissistic cult leader.  While not all cults have a cult leader, you will see that the majority of cults today are either run by 1 very charismatic guru or began under such leadership.

A very good documentary on the Narcissist Personality Disorder put out by the BBC is called “Egomania” can be found here:

In this documentary, they explain 9 traits associated with the Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

  1. Grandiosity
  2. Arrogance and Domineering
  3. Preoccupation with Success and Power
  4. Lack of Empathy
  5. A Belief of Being Unique
  6. A Sense of Entitlement
  7. Requiring Excessive Admiration
  8. Exploitation of Others
  9. Being Envious of Others

Sam Vaknin, Author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, who is a self professing “Psychopathic Narcissist” makes some interesting observations about the Narcissistic Personality:

sam-vaknin

  •  Narcissists are addicted to both positive and negative attention (he calls this a drug called “Narcissistic Supply”).
  • Narcissists have “x-ray” vision in that they are able to instantly diagnose the weaknesses, vulnerabilities, soft spots, predilections, fears, hopes, and emotional needs of everyone around them and to put it to use instantaneously, relentlessly and ruthlessly to further their needs of “Narcissistic Supply” (either positive or negative)
  • Narcissists well never regret what they do, because they do not hold themselves responsible to the consequences of their actions.

In comparing my experiences I make the following observations concerning the leader of the group I was a part of:

In regards to Grandiosity, the leader considered himself not only an Apostle of Jesus, but the greatest of all Apostles (quoted from a former member: “a greater Apostle than Apostle Paul”).  He considered himself the leader of “The End Times Army” and one of the “Two Witnesses” spoken about in the Book of Revelation in the Bible.

The cult leader was Arrogant and Domineering whenever there was an argument or discussion.   He would argue and argue with someone every in his own mind PROVING without any doubt that he was right and the other was wrong.  If ever challenged, he would boast that he knew more than the other person and that he KNEW the Bible better than anyone else.  He implied and often declared that he was MORE gifted in the “fruits of the spirit” than anyone else.  He considered himself MORE HUMBLE than anyone else.

The cult leader constantly boasted that he was/is successful and will make lots of money (because God promised him)  through various internet schemes such as replacing Facebook, Craigslist, Search Engines, etc…  He had plans to replace the entire system of the Internet, local computer networks, how cellphones work and communicate.

The cult leader showed a complete lack of empathy and responsibility when asked about a former member who was arrested for obtaining materials and creating plans for fire bombing several churches in a rural town.  When asked if he had any responsibility for his actions, he emphatically stated without a show of emotion: “NO” and that he found it unusual that anyone would interpret his words to indicate any form of violence or destruction.

The cult leader believed and taught the he was the only one performing as a Christian “correctly”, and that he and his followers were specially “hand picked” by God for such a special time as this to go out and be martyrs to the world.

The cult leader would not overtly stated “I want your admiration”, but he clearly fed off of it by boasting about how much better he was at other people, and his followers attributed many miracles, successes, salvation from hard times to the leader.

The cult leader exploits other by “tricking” them into believing that he is doing “good works” in his community and that he is the only one in a large community doing these good works, and thus people continually give him money, trucks, cars, trailers, food, supplies, etc… “for his good works cause”

The cult leader would often speak about how the “other churches” had money, and big buildings, and that he was doing so much more than him.  He often criticized local food pantries who had more than them (claiming he would take over their operations soon).  He clearly didn’t like it if someone was doing more than he was on a larger and more successful scale.

B.I.T.E Model

Steven_Hassan_HeadshotAs defined by Steve Hassan
Behavior Control
1. Regulate individual’s physical reality
2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
3. When, how and with whom the member has sex
4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
5. Regulate diet – food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
9. Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet
10. Permission required for major decisions
11. Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors
12. Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
13. Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
14. Impose rigid rules and regulations
15. Instill dependency and obedience

Information Control

1. Deception:
a. Deliberately withhold information
b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
c. Systematically lie to the cult member
2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
b.Critical information
c. Former members
d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
e. Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
3. Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
b.Control information at different levels and missions within group
c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
4. Encourage spying on other members
a. Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
b.Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
c. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
b.Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
b. Withholding forgiveness or absolution
c. Manipulation of memory, possible false memories

Thought Control

1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
a. Adopting the group’s ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
c. Decide between good vs. evil
d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
2.Change person’s name and identity
3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
4. Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts
5. Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member
6. Memories are manipulated and false memories are created
7. Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
b. Chanting
c. Meditating
d. Praying
e. Speaking in tongues
f. Singing or humming
8. Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
10. Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful

Emotional Control

1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish
2. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
3. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
4. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as
a. Identity guilt
b. You are not living up to your potential
c. Your family is deficient
d. Your past is suspect
e. Your affiliations are unwise
f. Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
g. Social guilt
h. Historical guilt
5. Instill fear, such as fear of:
a. Thinking independently
b. The outside world
c. Enemies
d. Losing one’s salvation
e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
f. Other’s disapproval
6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
7. Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
8. Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
e. Threats of harm to ex-member and family

 

Source: https://freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php

Troubles in Defining a Cult From a Christian Point of View

you-have-two-choicesIn my experience, I have seen 2 different approaches when attempting to define a cult. These 2 approaches are from the perspective of a Christian theology and that from a psychological perspective.

The purpose of this post is to express my opinion and thought as to why one perspective is better than the other.

So lets  take a look at the 2 perspectives.

The Christian Approach

In my research I have seen how Christians attempt to define a cult and in a nutshell, it basically comes down to “A group that claims to be Christian, but deviates from the defining doctrines of Christianity”.  Here are a few of the criteria that Christians use to define a cult:

Here are a few bullet points in defining cults/cult leaders taken from the documentary: “The Marks of a Cult”  which does a very good job of presenting the Christian perspective on cults.

  • A group that claims to be Christian, but deviates from or denies the defining doctrines of Christianity
  • The cult leader/group essentially becomes “the savior”
  • They suffer great humiliation at the hands of leaders who aren’t leading like Jesus.
    (in my group this was the language used “we need to be more like Jesus” who was beaten, tortured, killed, hated, etc… )
  • Taking Christian terminology and applying totally different definitions to them.
  • It is “evil to pervert the Word of God”
  • No person or organization can call itself Christian if they don’t embrace the central tenants that gave rise and definition to the term “Christian”. And if they actively deny those tenants or refer to anyone that does believe them as being wrong or deceived, they can be fairly termed: Anti-Christ.
  • Dr Walter Martin defines a cult (from an explicit Biblical world view) as: “A group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.” (Rise of the Cults, page 12)
  • Dr. Gordon Lewis: “A cult is any religious movement which claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of Christianity by: 1.) An additional revelation 2.) By displacing a fundamental tent of the faith with a secondary matter” (Confronting the Cuts, page 4)

Overall: the definition of a cult when they:

  1. Add to the 66 books of the Bible – relying on a new “so called” revelation either through scriptures or by the discovery of an interpretive key to the Bible that has somehow been hidden from the historic Church.
  2. Subtract from the “tri-unity” of God by either denying the person-hood or the deity of one or members of the God-head.  Essentially, denying the doctrine of the trinity in some form.
  3. Multiply works necessary for salvation.  i.e. salvation is not by “faith” alone.
  4. Divide the loyalties of their followers from God and the historical and universal Church by focusing salvation as the exclusive province of their particular group.

While from a Christian perspective, this point of view is really trying to label a group as being “non-Christian”, not a cult.  Essentially they are labeling groups that call themselves Christians, and defrocking them of their Christian status because they don’t meet their doctrinal guidelines.

For me, as a Christian, Apostle Paul stated very plainly in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2:
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

To me salvation to a Christian, is Christ and Him crucified.  I believe that Jesus paid the price for my sin on the cross (crucifixion) and I am therefore redeemed by the blood of Christ into the bosom of God by grace.  Its that simple.  That to me is the basics of Christian doctrine.

What seems to happen is that Christians are very quick to label “this” group or “that” group as a cult because they don’t fit their “mold” of Christian doctrine.  Just because someone doesn’t agree with your doctrine and explicit interpretation of the Bible does not make them a cult.

In the documentary, there was a large focus on Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.  While I would agree that much of the core of the Mormon doctrines are grossly different in nature to what is in the Bible, I would like to take a look at the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a moment.  The Jehovah’s witnesses for the most part, doctrinally, aknowledge the “Christ and Him Crucified” statement.  Where they differ on much of the “mainstream” church is in this:

  1. They do not call Jesus GOD, but rather Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
  2. Jesus was crucified on an upright pole rather than a Cross
  3. They do not honor holiday’s nor birthdays (including Christmas and Easter).
  4. They do not allow blood transfusions.

Item: 1  – this nitpicking… sure there are doctrinal disagreements with Jesus being God or not being God… but there are differences in Baptism points of view and it gets petty.  I say: let God figure that one out… the identity of God is a complete mystery and for that matter, the word “Trinity” is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

Item: 2 – Well… at least they agree he was Crucified, right?  big deal!

Item 3: If you actually study them out most holidays, including Christmas and Easter have pagan roots and if researched enough, you will see that they do not even have any roots or validity to any Christianity at all.

Item 4: I totally do not see any Biblical justification for this stance at all… but I’m sure we could agree to disagree.

So, what I am saying here is that there are some VERY clear Biblical disagreements I have against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but these Biblical disagreements are not what make them a cult.

Here is what makes them a cult:

  1. Their isolationism and control of who members can be with and not be with.  Many times, Jehovah’s Witnesses completely detach from all other friends and family simply because they are instructed to only associate with fellow group members.
  2. There strict association and required “evangelism” techniques.  While many Christian groups could learn a thing or two about patience in evangelism from these folks, the methodology of REQUIRED street evangelism as a requirement for salvation brings into play cult recruitment tactics.
  3. The fact that so many people have died because of lack of viable medical attention in the form of blood transfusions being denied.  And the group peer pressure associated with acting against this doctrine.
  4. The use of shunning and excommunication when one disagrees or challenges church leadership or doctrines.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses meet several of the psychological criteria for cultic behaviors, which uses tools of deception to recruit and keep new members.

Remember, no one sets out to join a cult.  They are recruited and slowly deceived into obedience and subjection to the group conscience.

In my observations, I have seen that many “Christian Cult” experts have a “chip on their shoulder” when it comes to calling out Cults and are very quick to label in such languages as “false prophets” or other Biblical based terms.  They seem to be on a “witch hunt” to find every false prophet out there and expose them as “heretics”.  It seems historically reminiscent of the inquisitions during the Catholic reign of Europe; and this mentality really removes credibility from this perspective.

To me, there is a defining difference between cults and religion.  In fact not all cults use religion.  There are some new age, self help groups, pyramid ponzi schemes that are defined as cults.

When I started to understand more about cults, it became more and more apparent that Cults have very little to do with religion (although they use religion as a tool of mind control, persuasion, and deception), but it is more about power, control and manipulation.

Consider what kind of god complex a narcissistic cult leader develops when they are able to trick people into giving up their money, possessions, body (sex), etc to you – not because THEY told you, but because they believe that God is commanding them to do it and if they don’t they will loose their salvation or get punished.

That, folks, is where power over the human mind comes in and sick people have learned to take advantage of kind hearted people that only want to do “what is right”.

 

Dr. Robert J. Lifton’s 8 Criteria for Thought Reform

RobertJLiftonDr. Robert J Lifton is one of the pioneers in psychological discovery of cultic practices.   In 1961, he published the book: “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism” in which he studied the brainwashing tactics used in China to establish and maintain the authoritarian state.

In this book he identifies 8 criteria that identify thought reform or cultist mind control behaviors.  I have provided the criteria with my own commentaries as well.

1. Milieu Control.

This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.

Milieu is a big word and not used in everyday context, thus it was very difficult for me to wrap my head around this concept.  What this amounts to is a controlling of environment, inputs, outputs, and interaction of mediums.   For example a cult may either covertly or overtly control one’s milieu by:

  •  Only allowing group members to associate with group members and limit exposure to persons outside of the organization
  • Disallowing certain media (reading materials, movies, television, internet traffic, music, etc.)  and only allowing internal media or media that supports the group conscious.
  • Controlling living quarters by having group members disassociate with family members outside of the group

As one acclimates to the group’s form of milieu control this opens the door for other methods of control and “punishment” such as “shunning” and excommunication.  As one has assimilated into the “identity” of the group, they feel more “trapped” within the group and excommunication or exit is associated with negative consequences and fear.

2. Mystical Manipulation.

There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes.

The mystical manipulation used in my experience consisted of a number hypnosis tricks.  In the guise of transferring of spiritual powers and gifts, the leader used several methods of covert hypnotic skills.  He used hand shake hypnosis, hypnotic language techniques and many other methods that at the time seemed like legitimate “spiritual experiences”.

This further expanded in the mind that the experiences were credible and there was something “special” about the group/leader.

3. Demand for Purity.

The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection.  The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

Everything is black and white.  Either you are “saved” or you are not “saved”. God wants “all” and if you don’t give “all”, then you are not giving enough and are a selfish rotten “whore”.  This gives way for extremism,  from what is taken from the individual, and what is given to the group.  What was drilled into my head so much was phrases like “Jesus is coming for a bride without spot or blemish”, “a little leaven (sin) leavens the whole lump”.  There was no room for error.  While there was room for redemption through confession, repentance, and self sacrifice, the demand for purity was so high that we thought we were the closest ones to that “perfection”.

4. Confession.

Sins, as defined by the group are to be confessed wither to a personal monitor or publicly to the group.  There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

Although, while I was in my group(s) confession didn’t seem to be as strong a point, it was.  Sins could only be forgiven if you confessed them one to another.  Scriptures were quoted stating “if we confess our sins ONE TO ANOTHER then He (God) is just and kind to forgive us”  This, accompanied with the demand for purity causes group members to realize that they had not quite achieved “perfection” or “spiritual nirvana” because we weren’t as good as the leader.  So we would constantly be searching ourselves for some lost thing the we haven’t quite figured out yet. Some unknown sin that we weren’t aware of that we needed to confess and repent for to purge in order to achieve the perfection/purity.

5. Sacred Science.

The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute.  Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

This was covertly prominent in the group I was involved with.  The idea disseminated amongst the leader and the group to the group was that of tolerance towards others that have “differing” doctrines and ideology; but in reality, this created an atmosphere of lowering our defenses by having the patience and tolerance to work with others who clearly had differing views from our “original self”, but then opened the door for us to accept the new incoming doctrines.  The leader would usually argue with people who disagreed with him or challenged him and they would eventually be dismissed because of their inability to assimilate.

Thus, the doctrine of the group is what ruled over everyone else’s doctrine. The idea was that everyone else had elements wrong with their doctrine and theology, but the unspoken philosophy was that the leader’s doctrines were 100% correct and unchallengeable.

6. Loading the Language.

The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand.  This jargon consists of thought-terminating cliches which serve to alter members’ thought process to conform to the group’s way of thinking.

Twisting of the language is an effective form of thought control.  What happens in this is that there are multiple meanings for simple words.  The result is confusion both outside the group and within the group.  If anyone were to question the leader he/she would then claim that their understanding of what they said was invalid because they “meant” something else.

For example: in my group the word Martyr was  used.  People would state: “I want to be a martyr” (or in some cases: “I will be a martyr” and “I don’t have a choice about it”).  Using the common understanding of what martyr means (especially in a religious/Christian context) most people would interpret the message to mean “I want to die”.  But when challenged by the public, they would say: No!  Martyr means to “Live for Christ and die to self”.  But in reality, it is a mind trick to draw attention to the group, mentally prepare the members to do something very drastic/dangerous in their lives, and further confuse the mind.

This method of “intentionally ambiguous” terms is used in the group I was involved in to further create controversies and strife both within the group and outside the group.  The purpose for this is to stir up the group to bring out the dissenting parties that are not going to “drink the kool aid”.

7. Doctrine Over Person.

Member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

The importance of the individual are drastically diminished. A pyramid of importance is created, but is more of an upside down letter “T” than a pyramid.  The leader is at the top and is of the most importance, and everyone else has no importance (but somehow, they feel important as being part of the group).

If one disagrees with the doctrine/sacred science, then they are deemed further less important and are either shunned, or brought into subjection to doctrine or “group conscience”.

A very large emphasis is placed against selfishness and focus on selflessness.  i.e. Giving to the group, serving others in the group or community, personal sacrifice, fasting, etc..

8. Dispensing of Existence.

The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not.  This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group’s ideology.  If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members.

Thus, the outside world loses all credibility.  In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also.

This creates a black and white view of the inside and outside of the group.  It also makes room for more unethical behaviors outside the group.  Such that one can lie, cheat, steal, etc…  if the purpose serves the group or leader.


These criteria may sometimes be masked in the form of covert coercion.  Nobody would knowingly join a group that openly told you that you were going to be controlled into disassociating with your friends and family, give everything you have to them, and serve them physically, mentally, and emotionally and receive nothing in return.

The big trick in my group was the use of the “voice of God” which can later be explained by use of covert hypnosis techniques to be expressed in a different post.  But the idea is that if you can convince someone that “this is what God is COMMANDING you to do” with the notion that: “God will punish you if you don’t do what he tells you to do” then you are more likely to comply covertly than overtly.

Actions that Make a Cult

This is my notes for when I was in a cult and how I look back and determine the characteristics of what makes a cult:

lemmings

  • Value of Obedience to God over the Grace and Mercy of God
  • People come from all over the country/world to live with the group
  • People donate much of their personal possessions to the group
  • People who once had prestigeous promissing carreers trade it in for unemployment/welfare/foodstamps/or other lesser working conditions
  • The use of subliminal coercion to manipulate people into thinking “God wants you to do X Y and Z”
  • One central Head/Father/Guru that seems to lead the group directly or indirectly
  • Leader has to be accountable to no one for their actions (other than God)
  • Leader hears from God directly
  • The use of hypnotic prayer sessions – people fall asleep often during prayer meetings and discussions
  • Family is destroyed with in the form of “obedience to God”
  • An unusual giving up of practices or hobbies that were once very close and dear to their personality: (I have a passion for playing the drums and am very good at it, but God won’t let me play any more)
  • The promotion of the concept of Unity, but in reality they argue that everyone else is wrong
  • A focus on End Times or Bad Destructive Events coming very soon
  • A willingness (but much more, a desire) to offer one’s life for the cause – Be a Martyr
  • Trust in God to raise your children
  • Demons are in everything
  • Focus on warfare in the physical or “spiritual”
  • The distortion of imaginary weapons and destruction of “the enemy”
  • The act of teach that X Y or Z is wrong and that God hates it and hates you doing it, but then retorts saying, I’m not telling anyone to stop doing X Y or Z…
  • Disregard to local authorities
  • Claims that they have the authority and power over a city/state/region/world
  • People come to visit for a few days or a week and then end up moving in
  • If anyone disagrees with the core teachings of the group, they are considered to be afflicted with a demon – but openly says we are open to disagreements
  • States that when people leave they are worse off then when they got there – instilling a fear of leaving
  • States that God will work first or only with this group (Revival is begining here and spreading throughout the world from here as the epicenter)
  • I hear God and you can too
  • Unusual Fashion Changes that conform to the leader/group. (Men growing full length beards, long hair, shaved heads, wearing dresses).
  • Radical changes in personalities that are way outside of the normal characteristics of the individual
  • Exclusion of Family – “they don’t get it”, “they don’t/can’t understand”
  • Focus on confession and then using the information gathered from private confessions and use them to manipulate individuals
  • Focus on Being Perfect and God won’t accept you unless you are in perfect obedience to his “voice”
  • They try to convince you that you have been through much trauma in your life: whipped, beaten, scorned…

Please note, that not any one of these things makes a group a cult, but rather these represent characteristics and in combination are more destructive.