I saw an email the other day where the Sound Doctrine leadership was calling the way they are being treated as “witch hunt” emotionalism. I’ve been pondering that since I read it and realized it’s a perfect example of the way cults “label” any criticism to try to invalidate the issues that have been addressed.

As I reviewed a few vital books on understanding the mentality of abusive organizations, I saw two perfect quotes that speak directly to this issue. Here’s the first:

Toxic Characteristic #10: The technique of labeling is used to discount a person who opposes the beliefs of the religious addict.

Labeling attempts to dehumanize critics so that dismissing them or their opinions becomes much easier. The religious addict chooses not to address a critic individually but places a negative label on all who would disagree with his or her personal habits. Rather than say that John Smith has asked some questions, the addict proclaims that there are “detractors,” “traitors,” or “malcontents” who would destroy the ministry or organization. The labels become rallying points used to squelch a revolt. Once the label is in place, it becomes more difficult to see that person as a human with real needs and the potential for good judgment.

The military uses labeling to enhance the “killabillity” of the enemy. The last thing a military leader wants a solder to think about is that the person in his rifle sights may be a father of five little girls who will starve without a daddy. The enemy is given an ethnic label in an effort to dehumanize him. The soldier is better able to kill one hundred of them than one father or husband.

Religious addicts use the technique well, and when they use rumor and innuendo to kill the reputation of a sincere critic, other followers are more apt to go along if a label can dehumanize the dissenter.

Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton – Pages 155 and 157

The second quote is from Kirk Farnsworth’s book. Kirk was the WinePress author who originally challenged me on Tim Williams’ doctrine.

The Spiritually Abusive Organization – Characteristic #5: Paranoia

This is the first of three characteristics that describe the forces that make it so difficult for victims to escape from spiritually abusive systems. It can be called “cultural paranoia” and is similar to that found in the neurotic organization described in chapter 3. In the spiritually abusive organization, paranoia permeates the culture primarily in the form of expecting criticism and avoiding contamination, as we can see in the following:

“There is a sense, spoken or unspoken, that “others will not understand what we’re all about, so let’s not let them know…that way they won’t be able to ridicule or persecute us.” There is an assumption that (1) what you say, know or do is a result of being more enlightened than others; (2) others will not understand unless they become one of your own, and (3) they otherwise will respond negatively.

In a place where authority is grasped and legislated, not simply demonstrated, persecution sensitivity builds a case for keeping everything within the system. Why? Because of the evil, dangerous, or unspiritual people outside of the system who are trying to weaken or destroy “us.” This mentality builds a strong wall or bunker around the abusive system, isolates the abusers from scrutiny and accountability, and makes it more difficult for people to leave—because they will then be outsiders too. While it is true that there is a world of evil outside of the system, there is also good out there. But people are misled into thinking that the only safety is in the system.” (The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, Pages 73-74)

Wounded Workers: Recovering from Heartache in the Workplace and the Church by Kirk Farnsworth – Pages 96-97

The final nail in the coffin occurred when I looked up the definition of “witch hunt” on

witch hunt


an intensive effort to discover and expose disloyalty, subversion,dishonesty,
or the like, usually based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence.

Ironic that they would use that labeling to discount any criticism that is coming their way, when based on that definition, that’s exactly what they did to Chip MacGregor, well known Christian literary agent, when they sent him a ridiculous “Cease and Desist” letter naming him as a co-conspirator…he blogged about it here.

I have to say, it is just so liberating to see the TRUTH for what it is, not what the Sound Doctrine leadership “says” it is. They say Malcolm Fraser is innocent. I find that interesting, when a most reliable and credible source stated he could tell by the look on Malcolm’s face that he was guilty, no question about it.

I pray for every current Sound Doctrine member, including Carla Williams and her boys and their wives, that they might all have the scales fall from their eyes and see what they have been supporting all these years. It is not of God!

4 thoughts on “Labeling

  1. I am here reminded of a quote from one of my all time favorite philosophers — okay, so it was Dana Carvey: “To label me is to ignore me.”

    In the contexts we’ve experienced, labeling is definitely more insidious, as you’ve shown, Athena. It’s about instilling fear, confusion, doubt — putting up a smoke screen to evade incoming truth and obscure it with outgoing disinformation. And God is NOT the author of confusion, although we certainly do know who is and who is actively at work in such situations: one who is the deceiver, the destroyer, a liar from the beginning and the father of all lies.

    But in the end, “true truth” will win out, because God is behind it. The lies and labels will dissolve. We keep moving forward with that knowledge.

    Blessings on your day, sis.

    • Thanks Brad. Yep, for the better part of 12 years I was labeled a betrayer, rebellious weak willed woman, a prideful witch, and a host of other demeaning labels just so others in the group would discount any thoughts I had that did not line up with the leader.

      Insidious is right…but praise God I’m free and the plan of the enemy did not prevail. Now my prayers are turned from myself to those still ensnared. Oh God, please deliver them from captivity!

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