I’d like to take the next 3 days and highlight the “C” words that have been so prevalent in the ongoing saga of my deliverance out of a spiritually abusive organization. Sound Doctrine is the “ministry” that now owns the Christian publishing company my former husband and I started over 20 years ago, WinePress Publishing.
“C Word” # 1 – CULT
It’s mind boggling to think back to how we were indoctrinated in Sound Doctrine to refute the label of “cult”. First scriptures would be given to show that Paul was accused of being in a cult (sect), and then sarcastic comments would be made to show that the church in America is so far from God that it isn’t ever called a cult, and the only reason we were called that is because we really “lived the gospel.”
The more research I do on cults the more clear it becomes that the characteristics and tactics used by controlling leaders in cults are not in any way biblical or something to be proud of, as I was once brainwashed to believe.
In my research I found a list online that showed common characteristics found in cultic groups, and would like to share them. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to comment on each point, since I’ve brought almost every one of these points up in my previous posts on this blog.
Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups – Revised
Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
- Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
- The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
My goal here is simple…to shine the light on the truth of how this group operates. Not only are my grandkids still trapped in this cult, but there’s another 37 people who are still blinded by the enemy of their souls.
My prayers right now are for those who are still ensnared, who continue to hold onto what has been preached to them as reality, when in fact it is lies from the pit of hell. Please join me in praying for them, that the scales would fall from their eyes, and the Lord would deliver them from their captivity.