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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Confessions of a Former Churchgoer (by Van Robison)

Confessions of a Former Churchgoer by Van Robison (for the Battered Sheep Ministry).
"At one time I was a completely deceived churchgoer. I was caught in a web of deception as a young adult with no worldly understanding or experience. I was mesmerized by the church pastors and their speaking abilities to persuade their captives, that they were God's representatives on earth. I took the correspondence course (Worldwide Church of God/Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong), which led me through the Old Testament teachings that they insisted were to be obeyed as the means to eternal life. I was fully persuaded that the church hierarchy of authority was God ordained and that to question that authority was tantamount to questioning God. We faithfully attended Saturday Sabbath church services for years, paid tithes loyally and even observed annual 'Holyday' festivals that were considered 'God's Feasts.'
We were assured that our church organization was the one and only "true" church of God on earth, and all others were apostate."
"Jesus never intended that life in Christ is meant to be a religious ritual."
"Going to church routinely is not the definition of love, nor of being a Christ follower."
"I am fully persuaded that life in Christ is Christ living in us 24/7 and has not one iota of anything to do with going to church."
"Church organizations will always defend their existence, because it gives them power and money -- the very thing Jesus denounced the Pharisees for ..."

I think a number of the readers of this blog will find that this is very radical.
At risk of losing you, I have to say that I agree with a lot of what Van Robison is writing about. Quite a long time ago I realized that the NT doesn't actually say that followers have to go to a building called a church on Sundays, or Saturdays for that matter. However Jesus did say, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill..." (Matt. 5:17). So it is implied that the 'Law' of the OT (The Commandments) should still be followed. It is assumed that this includes resting on the seventh day - the Sabbath.
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath ... " (Exodus 20:8). Note that there is still no mention of congregating in a building on the seventh day. Matthew 6:6 actually says that you should go to your room to pray and shut the door - presumably that would be a room in your house.
Nelson's Study Bible notes (after Leviticus 23:3) "... 'in all your dwellings' emphasized the universal nature of the Sabbath. It was not to be observed only in the sanctuary; it was to be celebrated in every household."

Monday, December 22, 2008

How People Get Sucked into Cults

Joining the Cult Club -- How People Get Sucked In
by Randall Watters for: Cult Awareness & Information Center

[The following features the Jehovah's Witnesses, but you could substitute a number of other names - such as COG-PKG for example - 'Que']

Q. What do you feel is the most common barrier a person faces in communicating with [Jehovah's Witnesses]?
A. Understanding the whole cult phenomena. The main problem is not that they are 'brainwashed' -- they don't [appear to have the so-called 'brainwashed'] demons.
Generally speaking, they have, in effect, joined an exclusive club that has, as part of its initiation, the adoption of a peculiar world view, a set of glasses through which they look at life. In order to be a part of that club, they are forced to abandon any previous model of reality they may have entertained.

Q. Can you give an example?
A. A woman notices her new neighbor leaving the house all dressed up and her kids obediently going with her. It's [Saturday]/[Sunday] and they're going somewhere, presumably to church. She later talks to this new [Jehovah's Witness] neighbor, begins a friendship and finds out that [Jehovah's Witnesses] appear to be the friendliest people she has ever met. She has recently gone through a divorce and its subsequent loneliness, has two kids of her own and she has no direction to turn to. She feels helpless and vulnerable. She contrasts her life with that of her new neighbor who is confident about the future, has many pleasant friends, well-behaved children and seemingly all the answers to life's problems. Who wouldn't find it an appealing contrast, finding themselves in a similar situation?

click here for more from the article

Other questions in the article are :-
Q. But, it's not real ... I mean, it's a cult, and they're really under mind control!
Q. Are you saying that joining a cult is like getting addicted to a drug?
Q. Wow! So the reason a person often joins a cult against all sound advice from others is because of its seemingly miraculous ability to change their life for the better, and fairly quickly. It's a new social setting that works for them as well, a new family, if you will, whereas the old family, the old social life has failed. It has not made them happy.
Q. And the book is free, too?
Q. Wait a minute, though ... Don't Christians sometimes use that technique to gain converts?
Q. So during this critical period of their indoctrination, where they are being coerced into attending all the meetings ... as well as to continue their "home Bible study," isn't that the most important time to present them with evidence of the dishonesty and faulty reasoning of the [magazine]?
Q. A number of active [Witnesses] that I've talked to say that they really DID check things out before they decided to join the [Witnesses]. They say they investigated the [Watchtower] fully before making a commitment. But what you're saying is that they really come under some kind of a spell, some kind of mind control that is not their fault, some greater power or irresistible force.
Q. What about those who are born into the religion?
Q. What you say sounds true, but I don't see a big difference between their kind of coercive persuasion and that used by many Christians within their own families.

extract from the book 'When Prophecy Fails' by Leon Festinger, et al :-
(quoting Jeanne Mills - a former member of the People's Temple)
"When you meet the friendliest people you have ever known, who introduce you to the most loving group of people you've ever encountered, and you find the leader to be the most inspired, caring, compassionate and understanding person you've ever met, and then you learn that the cause of the group is something you never dared hope could be accomplished, and all of this sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true! Don't give up your education, your hopes and ambitions to follow a rainbow."
[emphasis by 'Que']

If you are thinking about being *recruited* by a religious group please go here :-
Armstrongism/Church of God/Ronald Weinland
Also, you can print this page for future reference :-
Mind Control by Cults
Professional help from Christian counselors is available through this site :- http://christiantherapist.com/
(If possible, it would be wise to check if counselors have relevant qualifications. Recommendations from previous patients would also be very valuable.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pope Says End of the World Not Nigh

Pope reassures that alarmist readings foretelling the end of the world are false

"The closing days of 2008 may be marked by floods, terrorism and global financial collapse - but Pope Benedict XVI has assured believers that the end of the world is not nigh.

"...the Pope said there had been "alarmism" about the end of the world since the days of St Paul, who in his Letter to the Philippians had told early Christians to rejoice because "The Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:4-5). This had been wrongly taken to mean the imminent approach of the Last Judgement.

"St Paul had also made clear in his first letter to the Thessalonians that 'no-one can know the moment of the Lord's coming' (1 Thes. 5:1-2), the Pope said.
[also: Matt. 24:36 and Mark 13:32]

Last year the Pope dismissed recurring "Messianical" predictions of the imminent end of the world, saying "history is ongoing, and involves human tragedies and natural calamities." He added, echoing Pope John Paul II, his predecessor, 'Do not be afraid'."

As at July 2012, the article is no longer on the Times-Online website.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Church of God - index of splinters outside USA

-- Listings do not indicate any sort of recommendation. If you are thinking about being recruited by any of these churches please check this blog page: Armstrongism/Church of God/Ronald Weinland
-- There could easily be more splinters -- or splinters of splinters...
-- Compiled with some assistance from this site: servantsnews.com/docs/coglist
-- Please advise any mistakes by email to: stones[@]slingshot.co.nz
-- or make a comment in this blog page, thanks!

## --- name of church --- headquarters --- main pastor if known --- website?

1 --- Alert Newsletter --- Gilmore, A.C.T. --- Dale Heslin
2 --- Alpha and Omega Christian Foundation --- Berowra Heights, N.S.W. --- Grigore Sbarcea
3 --- Bible Insight --- Hervey Bay, Queensland --- Colin Heath --- bibleinsight.com
4 --- Central Highlands Christian Publications --- Creswick, Victoria --- Bruce Armstrong --- chcpublications.net
5 --- Christian Churches of God --- Woden, A.C.T. --- Wade Cox --- ccg.org
6 --- (The) Church of God at Endeavour Hills --- Endeavour Hills, Victoria
7 --- Church of God in Williamston, Melbourne --- Williamstown, Melbourne --- Orest Solyma --- alphalink.com.au
8 --- History Research Projects/Origin of Nations --- Sydney, N.S.W. --- Craig White --- originofnations.org
9 --- Worldwide Church of God Sydney --- Strathfield, N.S.W. --- Rodney Dean, etc. --- sydney.wcgweb.org
10 -- Zion Ministries --- Malaga, Australia --- Neville V. Stevens --- zionministry.com

1 --- (The) Worldwide Web Church of God --- Bridgetown, Barbados --- Jeff Neil --- angelfire.com

1 --- (The) Assembly of the Eternal, An Independent Church of God --- Delta, British Columbia
2 --- British-Israel Church of God --- Markham, Ontario --- Peter Salemi
3 --- Canadian Church of God --- Toronto, Ontario --- Veronica Martin/Sydney Merchant
4 --- Christian Family Church of God --- Hamilton, Ontario --- Scott Cox
5 --- Church of God A Christian Fellowship --- Summerland, British Columbia --- churchofgodacf.ca
6 --- (The) Church of God (Christianos) --- Belleville, Ontario --- cog-christianos.org
7 --- Church of God Kelowna --- Kelowna, British Columbia
8 --- Church of God, Sabbath Day --- Penobsquis, New Brunswick --- Harry Herbert
9 --- Disciples in Christ Bible Study --- Calgary, Alberta --- Tom Ray
10 -- Faithful Church of God Winnipeg --- Winnipeg, Manitoba --- Alex Kennedy
11 -- Independent Church of God Winnipeg --- Winnipeg, Manitoba --- George Buchkowski
12 -- Patriots of the Kingdom --- Woodbridge, Ontario --- Myron Martin
13 -- Revelation's "Little Book" --- Westville, Nova Scotia --- Murray Hyson
14 -- Windsor-Detroit Church of God --- Windsor, Ontario --- Bev Coates
15 -- Winnipeg Church of God --- East Selkirk, Manitoba --- Randy Rondeau
16 -- Worldwide Church of God Canada --- Surrey, British Columbia --- various --- wcg.ca

1 --- Restoration Church of God --- Costa Rica, Central America --- M. John Allen --- destiny-worldwide.net/rcg

1 --- Sabbatarians --- Marknesse, The Netherlands --- Bonne Rook --- sabbatarians.org

1 --- Worldwide Church of God New Zealand --- Auckland, N.Z. --- Rex Morgan, etc. --- wcg.org.nz

1 --- (The) Church of God - Internationally Affiliated Associates --- Makati City, Philippines --- geocities.com/Heartland/Pines/4655

1 --- Church of God - Singapore --- Alexandra Road, Singapore --- churchofgodsingapore.net

1 --- Ezekiel Watchman Fellowship of God --- La Nucia/Prov., Alicante, Spain --- Jurjen Kuipers Postema

1 --- (The) Church of God in South Africa --- Cape Town --- Stanley Daniels
2 --- (The) Church of God Southern Africa --- Sandton --- Gordon Terblanche
3 --- (The) Congregation of God (YHWH) --- Port Elizabeth --- Marius Hurter
4 --- Seek and Find! Ministries of the Church of El-Shaddai --- Northway --- Ray Stapleton
5 --- Where are we now in Prophecy? --- Fish Hoek --- Geoff Neilson
6 --- Worldwide Church of God South Africa --- Randburg, Gauteng --- Grant Millar, etc. --- wcg.org/southafrica

1 --- Church of God --- Farnborough, Hampshire --- Alen Cain
2 --- Church of God in Wales --- Whitland, Wales --- Jonathan Bowles --- cogiw.org/home.html
3 --- Churches of God --- Lincoln, Lincolnshire --- James McBride
4 --- Global Church of God, UK --- Derby, Derbyshire --- Brian Gale --- globalchurchofgod.co.uk

Go here for splinters inside USA :- Church of God - index of splinters

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Language of Abusive Churches - Part 1

Does your church (or did your old church) use these words and phrases to manipulate and control the members of the group?
(Compiled by Bill Newcomer and other contributors for the Battered Sheep Ministry.)
Please go here to see the explanations :- http://www.batteredsheep.com/church-speak.html

1 - A bitter spirit* - - - - - - - - Y / N
2 - A family matter - - - - - - -- Y / N
3 - A jezebel spirit - - - - - - - - Y / N
4 - A rebellious heart - - - - - -- Y / N
5 - A rebellious spirit - - - - - -- Y / N
6 - Accountable - - - - - - - - - Y / N
7 - Angry - - - - - - - - - - - - - Y / N
8 - Apostate - - - - - - - - - - - Y / N
9 - Backslider - - - - - - - - - - - Y / N
10 - Bad attitude - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
11 - Because I'm the pastor, that's why!** - Y / N
12 - Black sheep - - - - - - - - - - Y / N
13 - Congregationalism - - - - - -- Y / N
14 - Critical spirit - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
15 - Disfellowshipping - - - - - - -- Y / N
16 - Dissident - - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
17 - Divisive - - - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
18 - Don't be bitter* - - - - - - - - Y / N
19 - Don't be petty - - - - - - - - - Y / N
20 - Free will - - - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
21 - Love gifts - - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
22 - May I remind you I am the pastor!** - Y / N
23 - Oh, they just use the doctrine of men - Y / N
24 - Oversight - - - - - - - - - - --- Y / N
25 - Prodigal son/daughter - - - - -- Y / N
26 - Singleness - - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
27 - Slander - - - - - - - - - - - --- Y / N
28 - Teachable - - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
29 - The truth is here - - - - - - --- Y / N
30 - The "Work" - - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
31 - The "World" - - - - - - - - - --- Y / N
32 - This is a safe church - - - - --- Y / N
33 - Troublemaker - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
34 - Unsubmissive - - - - - - - - - -- Y / N
35 - Unteachable - - - - - - - - - --- Y / N
36 - Unwilling to reconcile - - - - - -- Y / N
37 - We are a "nondenominational" church - Y / N
38 - We don't do things that way - -- Y / N
39 - We don't want to overreact - --- Y / N
40 - We don't want to take sides - --- Y / N
41 - We don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water - Y / N
42 - You need to be open and transparent - Y / N

See Part Two _here_

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Is Your Church Free From Cultic Tendencies?

In October 1991 a checklist of cultic tendencies by Charles Lesser was published in the Spiritual Counterfeits Project newsletter. I believe they are still very relevant 17 years later. The full list of 37 points can be seen at this website :-
Here is a list of most of them :-

The Pastor
-- Is your pastor fully accountable to a board of elders, presbyters, etc.?
-- Does your pastor encourage questions and suggestions? Is he approachable?
-- Does your pastor give equal attention to all kinds of people in his congregation?
-- Does your pastor readily admit his errors? [Ask the COG-PKG members !!]
-- Does your pastor avoid boasting or hinting at a "special anointing"?
-- Does your pastor include himself in any calls for repentance and forgiveness?
-- Are pleas for money rare and unemotional?
-- Do the pastor and congregation avoid 'attacking' and using as object lessons, former members or those who disagree?

The Church
-- Does your church interact with other churches?
-- Does your church staff avoid secrecy?
-- Is power shared in your church (rather than pre-empted by a hierarchy)?
-- Does your church see itself as just one organ of the Body of Christ, and not the main one?
-- Is your church truly friendly?
-- Are especially needy people cared for lovingly in your church?
-- Are church members encouraged and loved even when they leave?
-- Is there a diversity of classes, races, dress styles, ages, and occupations in your church?
-- Is loyalty to Jesus and to one's own calling placed before loyalty to pastor and church?

You and Your Family
-- Are you encouraged in your own calling?
-- Are you free from fear in your church?
-- Are your children happy to attend church? [-most of the time!]
-- Are families encouraged to stay together and spend time together?
-- Do you think more about God and Jesus than you do about your pastor and church?
-- Are you clear that the pastors and elders never exaggerate or lie to make themselves look good?
-- Is your group encouraging of each other and free from gossip and rumoring?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

WCG splinters - modern day cults ??

[ Please note that the extracts below might not apply to *all* WCoG splinters.
List of splinters inside USA
List of splinters outside USA ]

While surfing around the Internet recently I found this blog post by Van Robison :-

Here are a few extracts :-

"The original Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong no longer exists. It can't exist because the founder deceased at the age of about 93 or thereabouts in 1986."
"It is astonishing that many still bow at [His] feet as if he were God himself."
"[He] still has many followers, including splinter or offshoot groups who believe they are the 'true church of God' on earth. From what I have read there are literally hundreds of splinter groups of the Worldwide Church of God, and since it was a church organization that spread out over the world into many countries, there have been many splinter groups formed."
"Being spiritually seduced by false teachers is a tragedy of life. Some human beings love to play the role of being God on earth and unfortunately often deceive many into following their deceptions."
"It goes without saying that the original Worldwide Church of God has impacted the lives of countless human beings around the world in many countries. The same can be said for many other church organizations. The common denominator for all these groups is that the "head" of all such groups is NOT Jesus Christ [or God, Jehovah, etc.], but human beings who usurp [His] place in the lives of the people."
"The great common error that millions of human beings make in life, is in following self-appointed 'spiritual' leaders, who proclaim 'authority' from heaven. It often results in such great disillusionment that many turn from God altogether and become 'bitter' atheists, while some even commit suicide...
"It is a mystery of life as to why so many human beings are seduced by deception and yield their lives to magnetic personalities..."

If you wish to know more about this "mystery of life", please go to my blog post here :-

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ron Weinland was on Australian TV

On Sunday November 23 the COG-PKG pastor Ronald Weinland took part in an Australian television documentary called Apocalypse Now? You can read a transcript of the documentary at this site :- http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s2428806.htm

Perhaps the most interesting parts of the documentary were the contributions made by four leading Australian commentators -- sociologist Richard Eckersley, biblical scholar John Dickson, literary academic Greg Clarke, and psychologist Susan Tanner.

These are a few selected highlights :-
“Surprisingly, being certain about the end can actually bring relief to those suffering anxiety…”
Susan Tanner:
“Apocalyptic thinking can be very useful to people who need to feel a sense of control, and they therefore feel calm because they know what’s going to happen. Living with uncertainty, living with a question mark is the hardest thing to do for all human beings. We like to know what’s going to happen. That’s why we visit clairvoyants and you know we have our tarots read and all sorts of things….”
“Such misunderstandings could well prove dangerous…Ron Weinland’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation gives him – as an end-time prophet - the right to injure or even kill those who oppose him.”
John Dickson:
“Is there a danger if an individual thinks that he or she is the witness, one of the witnesses? I think there’s a danger for that person certainly, because they’re going to be disappointed. I mean the reality is, I’m confident, they will one day realise that they weren’t, and so there’s a danger of a religious meltdown for that person. I guess it’s also dangerous if that person started to feel that they could perform great wonders in the world and tried to create a movement around him or herself, that’s possibly dangerous as well.”
Susan Tanner:
“There are massive risks when someone has extreme delusional thinking. There are risks to the individual. And there are obviously dangers to other people and that can be hundreds or thousands of other people, when someone is totally controlled by their delusional thinking. And you know we have lots of examples of that in our history.”
John Dickson:
“The danger really is to their faith actually, [when the apocalypse] turns out not to be true. And if you’ve pinned your Christian hopes not on Christ and the symbolic meaning of the Book of Revelation, but on the literal interpretation of it, you are bound to be disappointed because the book doesn’t mean those things. So my great fear for people like that is that they will throw the baby out with the bathwater and be left with no faith at all. That’s a great tragedy.”
Greg Clarke:
“Stories about the end will always appeal to human beings and that is part of our psychology. What I hope people will do is sort out the truth from the fiction and recognise what we can understand from the bible about God’s view for this world and not tip over into paranoia or confusion or fear, which often has terrible social consequences.”

A related question to the discussion above is: How did the Book of Revelation get into the New Testament? (It is obviously very different to the four gospels and the letters.) The author, Laurence Gardner has an interesting response to that question in his new book called The Grail Enigma (pp.250, 251) :-

“Given that so many texts were excluded from the New Testament when the selection was made at the Council of Carthage in AD 397, it is remarkable that [the book of Revelation] escaped close scrutiny at that time. It was greatly disputed however, and seems only to have passed the selection process because Eusebius claimed it was an authoritative work and, although he considered it in some ways unsuitable, he refused to condemn its apostolic provenance. Even so, the Church has since done its best to divert people from this book [Revelation] by portraying it as a sinister prophecy of foreboding and doom. By way of propaganda … even the very word ‘apocalypse’ has become [to mean the same as] disaster. But the fact is that John’s writing (esoteric as it is in some respects) amounts to precisely what its title conveys. The Greek word ‘apocalypse’ translates quite simply to ‘revelation’, and relates more precisely to the revealing of hidden truths.”
(Emphasis by ‘Que’.)

Note. See also this post by Mike from 'Don't Drink the Flavor Aid'.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Church of God - index of splinters (in USA)

-- Listings do not indicate any sort of recommendation. If you are thinking about being recruited by any of these churches please check this blog page: Armstrongism/Church of God/Ronald Weinland
-- There could easily be more splinters -- or splinters of splinters...
-- Compiled with some assistance from a sidebar at the (restricted) Ambassador Watch blog.
-- Please advise any mistakes by email to: stones[@]slingshot.co.nz
-- or make a comment in this blog page, thanks!

## --- name of church --- headquarters --- main pastor if known --- website

1 --- Christian Biblical Church of God --- Hollister, California --- Fred R. Coulter --- cbcg.org
2 --- Church of God, a Worldwide Association --- Orlando, Florida --- various --- cogwa.org
--- (2) A splinter of the United Church of God. It was incorporated on Dec 23, 2010.)
3 --- Church of God Big Sandy --- Big Sandy, Texas --- Dave Havir --- bigsandychurch.org
4 --- Church of God established in Modesto --- Modesto, California --- David O’Malley --- cog-eim.org
5 --- Church of God Faithful Flock --- Modesto, California --- Alton B. (Don) Billingsley --- cog-ff.com
6 --- Church of God Fellowship --- Spokane, Washington --- Harold Smith --- cgfnw.org
7 --- Church of God International --- Tyler, Texas --- various --- cgi.org
8 --- Church of God Pasadena --- Pasadena, California --- David Hulme --- vision.org
9 --- Church of God - Preparing for the Kingdom of God --- Cincinnati, Ohio --- Ronald Weinland
------  June 13, 2012 - Ronald Weinland was convicted for five counts of income tax evasion.
10 -- Church of God Seventh Day --- Denver, Colorado --- various --- cog7.org
11 -- Church of God The Eternal --- Eugene, Oregon --- Raymond C. Cole --- cogeternal.org
12 -- Church of God 21st Century -- San Diego, California -- Raymond F. McNair (deceased) -- cog21.org
13 -- Church of God’s Faithful --- Eutawville, South Carolina --- Robert Ardis --- setapartbytruth.org
14 -- Church of the Eternal God --- San Diego, California --- Norbert Link, etc. --- eternalgod.org
15 -- Church of the Great God --- Charlotte, North Carolina --- John W. Ritenbaugh --- cgg.org
16 -- Churches of God Outreach Ministries --- Tulsa, Oklahoma --- various --- cgom.org
17 -- Enduring Church of God --- Chandler, Texas --- Charles E. Bryce --- enduring.org
18 -- Eternal Church of God --- Billings, Montana --- Art Braidic --- eternalcog.org
19 -- Faithful Church of God in Laodicea -- Edmond, Oklahoma -- Frank Borg -- fcogl.org
20 -- Intercontinental Church of God --- Tyler, Texas --- Mark Armstrong --- intercontinentalcog.org
21 -- Living Church of God --- Charlotte, North Carolina --- Roderick C. Meredith --- lcg.org
22 -- Philadelphia Church of God --- Edmond, Oklahoma --- Gerald Flurry --- pcog.org
23 -- Port Austin Bible Center --- Port Austin, Michigan --- Homer Kizer --- portaustinbiblecenter.com
24 -- Restored Church of God --- Wadsworth, Ohio --- David C. Pack --- thercg.org
25 -- Sabbath Church of God --- Little Rock, Arkansas --- Warren Zehrung --- childrenofgod.net
26 -- Servants’ News --- Port Austin, Michigan --- Norm Edwards --- servantsnews.com
27 -- Stedfast Church of God --- McMinnville, Oregon --- Arlen Berkey --- stedfastcog.org
28 -- Triumph Prophetic Ministries --- Omak, Washington --- William F. Dankenbring --- triumphpro.com
29 -- United Church of God --- Milford, Ohio --- Roy Holladay, etc. --- ucg.org

These organizations appear to be splinters with milder versions of Armstrong’s doctrine :-

A1 -- Association For Christian Development --- Seattle, Washington --- Ken Westby, etc. --- godward.org
A2 -- Associates For Scriptural Knowledge --- Portland, Oregon --- David Sielaff --- askelm.com
A3 -- Born To Win --- Whitehouse, Texas --- Ronald L. Dart --- borntowin.net/newsite ..or.. rondart.com
A4 -- Grace Communion International --- Glendora, California --- Joseph W. Tkach Jr. --- gci.org
(ex. Worldwide Church of God - name changed in April 2009.)

Main pastor cross reference :-

Robert Ardis --- 13
Mark Armstrong --- 20
Arlen Berkey --- 27
Alton Billingsley --- 5
Frank Borg -- 19
Art Braidic --- 18
Charles Bryce --- 17
Raymond Cole --- 11
Fred Coulter --- 1
William Dankenbring --- 28
Ronald Dart --- A3
Norm Edwards --- 26
Gerald Flurry --- 22
Dave Havir --- 3
Roy Holladay --- 29
David Hulme --- 8
Homer Kizer --- 23
Norbert Link --- 14
Roderick Meredith --- 21
Raymond McNair --- 12
David O’Malley --- 4
David Pack --- 24
John Ritenbaugh --- 15
David Sielaff --- A2
Harold Smith --- 6
Joseph Tkach --- A4
Ronald Weinland --- 9
Ken Westby --- A1
Warren Zehrung --- 25

Go here for splinters outside USA :- Church of God - index of splinters outside USA

Sunday, November 9, 2008

End-Times Reaches Mainstream News Media

"Hidden End-Times beliefs still steer politicians, despite exit of Palin"
by Douglas Todd, The Vancouver Sun, November 9, 2008.
(Note: this article has been removed from the Vancouver Sun website.
More recent blogs are here :- http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/blogs/index.html)

"One of the most forbidden religious topics in recent years, including during the run-ups to the Canadian and American elections, has been the End Times.
"Some Christians, in Canada and the U.S., say it's unfair, an act of persecution, to publicly raise such explosive doctrine. They act as if their view of how God will end the world is just a private matter.

"Judging from the extremely limited amount of attention the media have given to North Americans' popular beliefs about Armageddon, most journalists seem to have bought their argument.

"But Christian views about a biblically predicted Apocalypse will remain influential in North American and global politics despite Tuesday's defeat of John McCain and his Pentecostal running mate, Sarah Palin.

"Beliefs about the Last Judgment have been shaping political attitudes to the environment, war and the Middle East. They're not going to go away because of this Republican setback. Besides, they remain important in Canada.

"Doctrines about the Second Coming of Christ are key in the churches attended by some of North America's most powerful people and their supporters -- including outgoing President George W. Bush, hundreds of key U.S. politicians, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and many of his cabinet ministers"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Armstrongism / Church of God / Ronald Weinland

Are you easily influenced? Do you have lots of heroes? Do you admire many charismatic people? Do you find it hard to criticize popular people, and is it easy for you to believe everything they say? Are you depressed because this is a low point in your life, and does it seem that everything is going wrong?

If so, it would not be a good idea to allow yourself to be *recruited* by any of the following churches. They are the main “splinter” groups formed at various times after certain doctrines were rejected by the Worldwide Church of God. The splinter groups have kept the doctrines of the original pastor-general, Herbert W. Armstrong. (The list below was compiled with assistance from an article about Armstrongism at the 4truth.net website.)

Church of God, International. (abbrev. CGI or COGI.)
-- Based in Tyler, Texas.
-- Armor of God television program and periodical.
-- Infuse magazine, and The International News.

Church of God, Pasadena. (abbrev. CGP or COGP)
-- Based in Pasadena, California.
-- Pastor is David Hulme.
-- Vision magazine and website

Church of God - Preparing for the Kingdom of God. (abbrev. COG-PKG)
-- Based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
-- Pastor is Ronald Weinland.
-- The Prophesied End-Time book.
-- 2008 - God's Final Witness book.
-- The-End website.
-- History of church and pastor - 'false prophet Ronald Weinland'
-- A critical book review - Christian Media Research
-- June 13, 2012 - Ronald Weinland was convicted for tax evasion.

Grace Communion International (abbrev. GCI)
Name changed in April 2009.
ex. Worldwide Church of God (abbrev. WCG or WCOG)
-- Based in Glendora, California.
-- Original pastor-general was Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
-- Second pastor-general was Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. (1927-1995).
-- Third pastor is Joseph W. Tkach, Jr.
-- The Plain Truth magazine, plus various booklets.
-- Christian Odyssey magazine, website, and Together (WCOG News).
-- In the 1990s several of the Armstrong doctrines were rejected.
-- In 1997 it was accepted into the National Association of Evangelicals.
-- This church now appears to be less extreme than the others listed here.

Intercontinental Church of God. (abbrev. ICG or ICOG)
-- Based in Tyler, Texas.
-- Original pastor was Garner Ted Armstrong (1930-2003).
-- Current pastor is Mark Armstrong.
-- Associated Ministry :- Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association.
-- 21st Century Watch magazine.

Living Church of God. (abbrev. LCG or LCOG)
-- Based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
-- Pastor is Roderick C. Meredith.
-- Tomorrow's World television program.
-- Tomorrow's World magazine, booklets, and bible study course.

Philadelphia Church of God. (abbrev. PCG or PCOG)
-- Based in Edmond, Oklahoma.
-- Pastor is Gerald Flurry.
-- The Key of David television program.
-- The Philadelphia Trumpet magazine.
-- The Wonderful World Tomorrow book.

Restored Church of God. (abbrev. RCG or RCOG)
-- Based in Wadsworth, Ohio.
-- Pastor is David C. Pack.
-- The Real Truth magazine
-- The World To Come videos
-- _A critical article_ on the 'Living Armstrongism' blog.

United Church of God. (abbrev. UCG or UCOG)
-- Based in Milford, Ohio - east of Cincinnati.
-- President is Clyde Kilough.
-- Pastor is Roy Holladay, amongst other elders.
-- The Good News magazine and bible reading program.
-- United News, and Vertical Thought, Virtual Christian magazines.
-- World News & Prophecy website.

(A more complete list is here.)

If I can’t convince you that being *recruited* by any of those churches would be a bad idea, please carefully consider the following questions and information :-

1/ When you first join the group do you get any ‘instant’ friends?
2/ Does everyone dress more or less the same, act the same, and talk the same?
3/ Is questioning the group, or the group leaders, discouraged or frowned upon?
4/ Does everyone in the group believe exactly the same things (i.e. what the leaders tell them to believe)? Is there no room for individual belief or opinion even in minor areas?
5/ Is reading any literature critical of the group discouraged?
6/ Does the group believe that it is an elite and exclusive organisation which alone has ‘the truth’ and answers to life’s questions?
7/ Does the group pour scorn upon, ‘attack,’ and mock other Christian churches and their interpretation of the Bible?
8/ Does the group discourage association with non-members (except, maybe for the possibility of converting them to the group)?
9/ Does the group give you ‘black and white answers’? -- What the group agrees with is right and what the group disagrees with is wrong.
10/ Does the group tend to withhold certain information from you? Are the more unusual doctrines of the group not discussed with you until you are more deeply involved in the movement?

If you answered ‘yes’ to more than (say) two of the above questions you are in danger of being manipulated by con men and women who use powerful mind control techniques which bypass your ability to critically evaluate and question the group.

If you stay with the group for longer than the indoctrination period, these questions will become more relevant :-

1/ Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, the ‘good deeds’ you perform for your group are never quite enough? As a result of this do you often feel plagued with feelings of guilt?
2/ Have you attempted to disable your own critical thinking abilities by ‘shelving’ various doubts about the group or group’s teachings?
3/ Are others in the group, who do not conform to the requirements of the movement’s teachings, treated with suspicion and treated like second class members?
4/ Do you feel fearful of leaving the group? Many ‘cults’ use subtle fear tactics to stop members from leaving. For example, the group may imply that those who leave will be attacked by the Devil, have a nasty accident, or at least not prosper because they have left ‘the truth’.

However, do not become depressed - because all is not lost!
The option to leave the cult will always be available.
The last three paragraphs in this blog page should help you achieve that aim: Mind Control by Cults

Professional help from Christian counselors is available through this site :- http://christiantherapist.com/
(If possible, it would be wise to check if counselors have relevant qualifications. Recommendations from previous patients would also be very valuable.)

(Questions above originally supplied by Spotlight Ministries - page - Used by permission.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

"The Firmament" Video

On July 12 [2008] there was a post in the Two Witnesses forum about a video called The Firmament :- http://www.thefirmament.org/
The original poster said, "I just ran across this, and decided to start a new thread about it. What's your thoughts on this?"
The second poster said, "That is so cool, Roseanne!"

Since I knew some of the history of the second poster, alarm bells started to ring urgently.
After a critical review of the video, I realised that a prudent approach was indeed what was required. The makers of the video are obviously trying to recruit people who are vulnerable and easily influenced.
This was my reply on the forum :-

Sorry, but alarm bells are ringing! Please do not ignore the following!

The last message in the video is: "The time remaining is very short."
Who said that? How does he or she know?

One of the questions in the FAQ is: "Does it cost anything to subscribe?" The answer given is: "No, there is no cost to be added to the mailing list and there is no cost to view the presentation."
We know very well that there will probably be very substantial costs or tithes further down the line (as "the time" gets nearer).

Another question is: "Why are you using the imperial measure instead of metric?" The answer given is: "The imperial measures and those of the celestial bodies recur in the Bible. The metric will show no such parallels. A strong indicator the message is for those who use and relate to those measures and the evidences presented."
This is very dangerous. Please recall times in history when despots and dictators used this kind of racist nonsense.

There are many problems with the distances given in the video :-

They say the diameter of the Sun is 864,000 miles. NASA say it is 864,400 miles. (The equatorial radius x 2) http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Sun&Display=Facts&System=Metric

They say the diameter of the Moon is 2,160 miles. NASA say it is 2,159.2 miles. (The equatorial radius x 2) http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Moon&Display=Facts&System=Metric

They quote Ezekiel 43:13 - "A cubit is a cubit and a hand breadth." They admit that there have been many definitions of the length of a cubit in history ranging from 18 inches to 3 feet, and go on to say that they have decided that 24 inches should be used as the correct length. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubit
Their reasoning is faulty, and there isn't any evidence to backup their theories.

They define a hand breadth as the distance from the end of an extended thumb to the base of the little finger.
Who decided that the thumb has to be extended? Why?
They say that the distance from the outside of the elbow to the finger tips is 18 inches.
My distance is 18 and a half inches.
They say that that a hand breadth (as above) is 6 inches.
My distance is 6 and a half inches.
I'm not exactly a big person - my height is 6 feet - fairly average for a man these days. Who knows what the distances would have been on men living in the Middle East about 2,500 years ago?

Please be careful out there ....

Scientist Responds to 2012 End-of-World Hype

Blog: 'Foresight of Hindsight'
Title: 'Scientist Responds to 2012 End-of-World Hype'

For a newer article on these subjects :-
A Scared Teenager Asks Questions About 2012

YouTube page :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_T7FTIFyAA
Subtítulos españoles - 2012: Una revision cientifica de la realidad
A 49 minute public talk on Ustream :- The Truth About 2012

A new video :- 12-21-2012 Just Another Day ... (March 7, 2012)

YouTube page :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4VuAeUO6yI

A new video :- The Truth About Nibiru ... (October 21, 2011)
A newer video :- The Science of Doomsday 2012 ... (March 18, 2012)

~ A more comprehensive 59 minute video is on Fora.tv ... here :-
David Morrison - Surviving 2012 and Other Cosmic Disasters

Articles on the NASA.gov website :-
Why The World Won't End ... The Great 2012 Doomsday Scare

(Answers below are by David Morrison, NAI Senior Scientist.)

With all this talk about Nibiru and 2012 its kinda hard to believe anything a government funded agency has to say. Because if this truly is real then I understand it would cause mass panic around the world so the government I believe would have good reason for concealing this. All the general public has to look into are either YouTube and other websites that can't really be trusted, and well you guys, who are also not exactly trustworthy either.
It is interesting that you ask me when your message is mostly assertions that NASA can't be trusted. But you did ask me, so I will answer.

I am telling you the truth, and honesty is a fundamental value of science. We seek the truth about nature, and we also communicate our findings openly, to other scientists and to the public. This open communication is what makes scientific advances possible. On matters of science the best authorities are the scientists themselves, professional scientific societies, and the peer-reviewed journals in which we publish our findings. Next best are the fine science journalists in our major newspapers, TV, and radio.

The fact that these stories about 2012 are not discussed in science journals, or reported at science meetings ... is a strong warning that Nibiru and pole shift and the like are not real. They represent a hoax, plain and simple.

Finally, I will comment on your assertion, which I hear often from advocates of catastrophes, that the government conceals information that might cause mass panic. This is wrong from three perspectives.
(1) Trying to keep a secret makes the bad news that much more dramatic when it inevitably comes out.
(2) The idea of mass panic is mostly the result of Hollywood and TV films, but social scientists know that historically there is very little panic in crisis situations, and people generally try to help each other.
(3) Far from concealing threats, the truth is that governments are always tempted to exaggerate dangers, especially when they can be blamed on other countries (or even other parties); think of the constant warnings about terrorists, for example, or the government color-coded warnings we are exposed to every day.

I realize everything that is said on 2012 is an internet hoax. The only concern I still have is the next solar storm in 2011 or 2012. I heard on PBS that the rays from the solar storm are blocked by our Earth's magnetic field. I also heard from another source that our magnetic field is getting weaker and it is almost not there. Do you know how well our magnetic field can protect us from the next solar storm?
Don't worry about the next solar maximum; this happens every 11 years (approximately) and is no danger to life on Earth. The small fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field are also not a concern; our magnetic field is plenty strong enough to protect us and is very unlikely to decline (or reverse) for thousands of years. The claims that the magnetic field may not be here 4 years from now are just another part of this big Internet hoax, which keeps coming up with one fictitious threat after another to scare people. The only real danger to life that I know of comes from a combination of global warming and loss of habitat. That is a global environmental problem that is serious enough for everyone to be concerned about and try to reverse.

Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?
No, Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims, and most of them (such as that Nibiru has been hiding behind the Sun or that it will be visible to the naked eye from the southern hemisphere next year) are ludicrous. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.

Is it true that the Sun will be in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy [or aligned with the center] in December 2012 and that this will cause a pole shift and massive destruction?
No, this is an Internet hoax, with no basis in fact. There is no alignment of planets, or of the Sun with the Galaxy. As far as being in the center of the Galaxy, this is impossible; we are slowly orbiting the galactic center at a distance of about 30,000 light years. The idea of a “pole shift” is also unfounded. Most people seem to mean a rapid change in the rotational pole of the Earth, but this is something that has never happened and never will. Some people are confusing this with the reversal of the magnetic poles on Earth, which does take place regularly, every few hundred thousand years. But there is no evidence that this might happen soon, and even if it did, the magnetic shift would be gradual and there would probably be no consequences on the planet, certainly nothing catastrophic.

Answers by David Morrison, NAI Senior Scientist
September 2008

  1. Question

    I have heard from a reliable source that NASA is covering up the 2012 doomsday. But due to a careless scientist, word leaked out. My question is could you give me proof? I want solid evidence. ALSO: If Nibiru is such a hoax on "the internet" then why was it on the History Channel and why don't you guys have censors for such "hoaxes" then? I have four little babies and I think all of the human race deserves to know the truth from you "experts". If it’s real then do the right thing; if not quit letting these hoaxes confuse true issues please.

    It saddens me to keep getting questions about the Nibiru hoax. Other recent letters have even asserted that NASA has posted videos admitting the reality of Nibiru. This is nonsense and shows how little the con-men and conspiracy websites respect the truth. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Just use common sense. Have you seen Nibiru? Last year these hoax websites said it would be visible to the naked eye this spring. They claim that it is a large planet or even a brown dwarf. If that were true, and if it were headed for the Earth in 2012, it would already be tracked by hundreds of thousands of astronomers, professional and amateur, all over the world. Do you know any amateur astronomers who are watching it? Have you seen any photos or discussion of it in the big popular astronomy magazines like Sky & Telescope? Just think about it. No one could hide something like Nibiru if it existed. ... There is no logic to these assertions. No one from NASA has “admitted” that Nibiru exists. Indeed, I have heard of no scientist who has made such claims. All I hear is lies, but NASA can’t stop that. We live in a country where there is freedom of speech, and that includes freedom to lie. You should be glad there are no censors. But if you will just use common sense I am sure you can recognize the lies. As we approach 2012, the lies will become even more obvious.

    Answer by David Morrison, NAI Senior Scientist
    May 5, 2009

Please go here to 'Ask an Astrobiologist', or search the database of previous questions :-

More articles :-
NASA on 2012: It's really NOT the end of the world as we know it
NASA.gov : Why The World Won't End
Dialogues on 2012: Why The World Will Not End
End of the row over Mayan doomsday belief?
Discovery News asks the experts
Nibiru and Doomsday 2012: [20] Questions and Answers
The Myth of Nibiru and the End of the World in 2012
Armageddon From Planet Nibiru in 2012? Not So Fast
Live Science: 'World to End in 2012: A Hoax Gone Too Far?'
Mike Brown's blog: 'Sony Pictures and the End of the World'
Washington Post -- 2012: Eh, It's Not the End of the World
The Portugal News - Is Doomsday Nigh?
Space.com/MSNBC - Good news! Solar flare won't destroy Earth!


More information

Extract below from: www.universetoday.com

When something ends (even something as innocent as an ancient calendar), people seem to think up the most extreme possibilities for the end of civilization as we know it. A brief scan of the internet will pull up the most popular, to some very weird ways that we will, with little logical thought, be wiped off the face of the planet. Archaeologists and mythologists on the other hand believe that the Mayans predicted an age of enlightenment when comes around [ie. December 21, 2012]. There isn't actually [any] evidence to suggest doomsday will strike. If anything, the Mayans predict a religious miracle, not anything sinister.
. . . .
Some of the most popular space-based threats to the Earth and mankind focus on Planet X wiping most life off the planet, meteorite impacts, black holes, killer solar flares, gamma ray bursts from star systems, a rapid ice age and a polar (magnetic) shift. There is so much evidence against these things happening in 2012, it's shocking just how much of a following they have generated. Each of the above "threats" needs their own devoted article as to why there is no hard evidence to support the hype.

But the fact remains, the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy is purely based on a calendar which we believe hasn't been designed to calculate dates beyond 2012. Mayan archaeo-astronomers are even in debate as to whether the Long Count is designed to be reset to after, or whether the calendar simply continues to (approximately 8000 AD) and then resets. As Karl Kruszelnicki brilliantly writes:

"…when a calendar comes to the end of a cycle, it just rolls over into the next cycle. In our Western society, every year 31 December is followed, not by the End of the World, but by 1 January. So in the Mayan calendar will be followed by - or good-ol' 22 December 2012, with only a few shopping days left to Christmas." - Excerpt from Dr Karl's "Great Moments in Science".

Wikipedia article :-
2012 Doomsday Prediction

What the Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012 (very definitive)

"End of the World" in the Year 2012 ??

Foresight of Hindsight
"End of the World" in the Year 2012 ??

This post was found on a forum called: ironwolf.dangerousgames.com
"... But anyway ... anyone else see this story the other day? http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=5301284&page=1 It details what one man thinks will happen in 2012 as far as the earths poles swapping ... thus killing half the planet. There is a link towards the end of the article to the guys actual site where you can find excerpts from his books ... detailing what is going to happen and what to do to be "prepared".

"But what I want to talk about is the bigger picture. Mayan calendar, Biblical prophets, solar flares and heightened hurricane seasons, and the real threat of the bad guys actually succeeding with a plan to nuke. Will the panic be worse then the catastrophe? Has the media already started to plant the seeds of despair and panic? I think some of these things are worse than the dreaded threat of traffic jams and empty bank accounts circa 1999. (thinking Y2k bug). Are we headed for a mass hysteria as 2012 approaches? More importantly ... if "doomsday" starts getting predicted by people who are not calling it "religious" ... will more people be "afraid", stop paying their bills ... etc. Equally so ... let’s talk about what sensible, un-afraid people can do to try to stop the panic. What can be done to fight the media machine? Yeah ... I like to speculate. Let this be the official place to do it. It's wide open for debate."

This was my response :-

In the article, this section gets to the crux of the 'debate' :-
Quote ---
"But for all the hype, there is little evidence the ancient Maya ever intended for the end of their calendar to be read as a portent for disaster. "These prophecies of doom really don't have any basis in what we know about the Maya," said Stephen Houston, a professor of anthropology at Brown University and a specialist of Maya hieroglyphic writing. "The Maya descriptions barely talk about this event." Instead, Houston said, the Maya saw their "long count" — the longest of their cyclical calendars — coming to an end in 2012 but also beginning anew on that date, without disastrous consequences. "Really, it's a conversion of people's anxieties about our times, and finding some remote mythological precedent or prediction of it," Houston said about the origins of the current 2012 myths. "People like to believe that ancient wisdom is somehow predicting this time of upheaval." John Hall, a professor of sociology at the University of California Davis who is writing a book on the history of apocalyptic ideas, agreed. He said movements predicting the end of the world often reflect a much larger nervousness about the state of our society. "Terrorism, 9/11, ecological disasters, floods and earthquakes," Hall said. "[There is] a sense that modern civilization has had its run. Those kinds of anxieties are much more widely shared than simply among people who believe in the exact date." To Lehmann, though, those very events are warnings of what's to come. "We had Hurricane Katrina, the recent cyclone in Myanmar," Lehmann said. "We've got major flooding in Iowa. We're always going to have natural disasters. But they are picking up quite frequently now."

So, there is little evidence that the Maya predicted anything in particular.
Forgive me for saying, but that's also the conclusion I came to a number of years ago. The '2012' sites have been on the web for a long time!

It is true that the sunspot activity looks to be high around 2011 or 2012, but it's only part of long established cycles. Quote from NASA: "Solar cycles usually take a few years to build from solar minimum (where we are now) to Solar Max, expected in 2011 or 2012." http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2008/08-005.html
The Earth has obviously been through countless solar cycles that haven't caused "the end of the world."
What evidence is there that December 21, 2012 will be the peak of the activity?

There is apparently evidence that there have been pole reversals in the Earth's early history, but it is only wild speculation that it might happen sometime in the future. Again, what evidence is there that a pole reversal might happen on December 21, 2012?

Regarding "hurricane seasons", please supply links to information about any research projects - if they are available on the web.

Speculation about terrorists getting their hands on effective nuclear devices, being able to locate them in particular spots above and around cities, and being able to propagate effective electromagnetic pulses "relies on hype and distortion". Go here if you're interested: http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2005/11/checking_the_pu.html

That last highlighted quote above: "We're always going to have natural disasters. But they are picking up quite frequently now." is irresponsible in the extreme. Forgive me for saying (again!), that is exactly the type of comment that easily influenced people will latch on to and will refuse to relinquish no matter how hard you try. It has absolutely no credibility! The historical records simply do not show that that is true. We have tried very hard in other threads on this forum to debunk those crazy ideas. For more information, please go here: http://ironwolf.dangerousgames.com/forum/index.php/topic,293.0.html

PS. The original poster did not post a reply...
Wikipedia article :-
2012 Doomsday Prediction

What the Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012 (very definitive)

YouTube page : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB-7DZ426DI&fmt=18

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How Do People Get Out of Cults?

Extract from :-

-- These people simply rebel from the situation and leave.
-- Unless they shed the mind control, walk-outs may lead destructive or fear-filled lives.
-- Some adopt the attitude that since they couldn't measure up to the system's requirements, there isn't any hope for them anyway, so they might as well "live it up" while they can.
-- Some develop patterns of living that they wouldn't have chosen otherwise.

-- These people are excommunicated [disfellowshipped] or shunned for a variety of reasons, usually related to the fact that they failed to fully integrate the four aspects of mind control--information control, thought control, emotion control and behavior control.
-- People who are kicked out of cults are commonly filled with grief and guilt. They are still very loyal to the group's beliefs and its people, even though rejected by the group.

-- These people have been so abused spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and financially, that they are barely able to function on a normal basis.
-- Some "burn-outs" exhibit the Post-Traumatic Stress syndrome that is commonly experienced by war survivors. They are usually very confused, perhaps even physically ill, afraid and unable to trust anyone, most of all themselves.

-- These are people who are given, or stumble onto, information which explains the situation enabling them to leave the mind control without fear and guilt.
[This article is designed to be given to cult victims :- Mind Control by Cults ]
-- They usually take several years to work through the adjustments to normal living and attitudes. Education (scriptural as well as secular), cultivating new friends, establishing a new environment, and restoring their original personality are the most helpful adjustments. The more they learn, the greater the healing.

-- These people are rare.
-- Few studies have been done on the needs of people who were born and raised within a mind control group.
-- Most counselors are ill-equipped to handle the complexities of exit counseling because there are so many factors involved in mind control, and each person's experience is different, even within the same group.

Please go to these pages for more information :-
Stages in Leaving Cults
Common Emotional Difficulties After Leaving a Cult

Professional help from Christian counselors is available through this site :- http://christiantherapist.com/
(If possible, it would be wise to check if counselors have relevant qualifications. Recommendations from previous patients would also be very valuable.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Myths and Key Points About Cults

Myths or Misconceptions About Cults

(Adapted from How Cults Work)

-- Cults are easy to spot, they wear strange clothes and live in communes.
Well some do. But most are everyday people like you and me. They live in houses. They wear the same clothes. They eat the same food. Cult leaders don't want you to know that you are being recruited into a cult and so they order their recruiters to dress, talk and act in a way that will put you at ease. One cult has even invented a phrase to describe this, they call it "being relatable".

-- Cults are full of the weak, weird and emotionally unstable.
Not true. Many cult members are very intelligent, attractive and skilled. The reality is that all sorts of people are involved in cults. One of the few common denominators is that they were often recruited at a low point in their life.

-- Cults are just a bunch of religious nut cases.
This is a common mistake people make thinking that cults are purely religious groups. The modern definition of a mind control cult refers to all groups that use mind control and the devious recruiting techniques that this article exposes. The belief system of a religion is often warped to become a container for these techniques, but it is the techniques themselves that make it a cult. In a free society people can believe what they want, but most people would agree that it is wrong for any one to try to trick and control people.

Key Points About Cults

-- No legitimate group needs to lie or mislead you about what they practice or believe.

-- Any group which says you must belong to their organization to be saved is almost certainly a cult.

-- Character assassination (or 'attacking' a person's character) is a sure sign of a cult.

-- Cult members are usually very fearful of disobeying or disagreeing in any way with their leadership. Healthy organizations however are not threatened by openly debating issues.

-- Beware of "instant friends" - remember true friendships develop over time.

-- Beware of a group that tells you which people you can and can't see (eg. friends or family).

-- If you are instructed by a group not to read information critical of the group, that is a sign of a cult. Legitimate groups have nothing to fear from their members reading critical information about them.

-- Is information you expected to be kept confidential reported to the leadership? If so, it is probably a cult.

-- Never ending compulsory meetings and tasks is a sign of a cult.

-- You really need to research the group when you aren't in it! Be especially eager to surf the internet if the leaders have told you not to.


Please go here for a lot more info about the above points: How Cults Work

Information about some cult groups is available here: www.cultwatch.com

What to Say to the Recruiters

[Adapted from a brochure produced by Info-Cult, Resource Center on Cultic Thinking, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.]

In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of human potential, alternative lifestyle, neo-political groups, and new religious movements. Many of these organizations have been beneficial to their members. Others, however, have raised certain questions concerning their recruitment, fundraising practices, and treatment of their members.

If you are approached by someone who invites you to participate in a meeting, program, or event, the following questions may help prevent you from being recruited by a cult.

These questions work best when asked in a very direct and friendly manner. Be alert to vague responses, or a response that "all your questions will be answered at a later time."

-- How long have you been involved? Are you trying to recruit me into any type of organization?

-- What is the official name of your organization and does it go under any other names? If so, what are they?

-- What are your group's beliefs?

-- Are members allowed to lie in certain situations?

-- What are members expected to do once they join?

-- Do I have to quit school or work, donate money and property, and cut myself off from family and friends who are not in agreement with my being a member?

-- Is your group considered to be controversial by anyone? If so, what are the main criticisms?

-- How do you feel about former members of your group? Does your group allow communication with them; and if not, why?

-- Do you know any people who have left your organization? If so, have you ever spoken to them and found out why they left?

-- What are the things you like least about the group?

Never give your name and address to someone that you suspect might be involved in a cult.

If the person is a member of a cult you may ask yourself, "have they replied to my questions honestly?"
If you discover at a later date that they have deceived you, then you should have very serious questions about getting further involved.

[Adapted from a brochure produced by Info-Cult, Resource Center on Cultic Thinking, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.]

Have They Been Recruited by a Cult?

Information from Spotlight Ministries
Copyright (c) - All rights reserved.
Used by permission.

What to do if Your Friend or Loved One is Recruited into a Cult
- Practical Help and Advice for Winning Them Back

The Victim of the Cult

Many friends and relatives of those who get entangled in a cult are usually very surprised that the person could ever fall victim to, what seems to them, to be “an obvious con”. Such things are said like “How could an intelligent person like you fall for such a group”, or “Can’t you see that you are allowing yourself to be brainwashed!” Such reactions from the relatives and loved ones of those caught up in a cult are understandable reactions to the sudden change in behaviour seen in the individual. But although such reactions are common, experts in the field of psychology and human behaviour have observed that the majority of those who become entangled in a cultic system are usually above average intelligence, idealistic, and from generally good family backgrounds. The truth is, it is not the fault of the individual in joining the cult, rather, powerful mind control techniques have been employed which bypass the person's ability to critically evaluate and question the group that he or she has come into contact with. People do not 'join' cult groups, they are 'recruited' into them.

But is it Really a Cult? A Word of Caution

Before examining the various techniques which many cults utilise, the question must first be asked: "Is the group that my friend/relative has become involved with really a cult?" From a Christian perspective, (which is the angle that this present writer takes) it used to be recognised that a cult was something which was not part of the main body of the Christian Church in its primary teachings about God, Christ, Salvation etc. However, these days, many experts in the field of cult research are recognising that the main criterion for identifying a cult is that of coercive mind control manipulation on the part of any given religious organisation using such methods. At this point it must be stressed that some relatives and friends may become concerned about a person who has simply joined another Christian denomination, but which, maybe does not fit in with their own particular ideas of what Christianity should be. For example, these days, there are many new expressions of the Christian faith, which, although may not be as traditional as some (e.g. the Church of England, Baptists etc.), are nevertheless orthodox in practice and belief. However, there are also many new religious movements active in our present age which seek to mimic Christianity, while abusing and manipulating their members. The issue can be complicated further with some genuine Christian churches exercising authoritarian and cult like behaviour! So how can you tell if it's a cult?

The Marks of a Cult

Although religious cults differ in their belief systems they all use the same mind control tactics. The purpose of the information set out below is to give you some good indications of whether the group which your friend or relative has become involved with is using well known manipulative mind control techniques. No one single religious group has been singled out in the following questions. Rather, the information below has been gathered with many groups in mind, all of which are known to use mind control on its members.

It is possible to identify an abusive religious cult by the following list. Where more than five of following areas are discernible, it is highly likely that the individual has been recruited into a cult:

1/ The group will place a tremendous emphasis on "doing good works". Members of the group may appear obsessed with doing whatever the group tells them to do (e.g. 'always' being at meetings).

2/ Some groups require that the members give up all, or at least a substantial part of their income/possessions to the cause.

3/ The leaders of cult groups will forbid their members from reading any literature critical of the group, especially that of ex-members.
In relation to the above, the leader/s of the group may become uncomfortable or even abusive to people who ask intelligent questions about the group.
The majority of cults view themselves as an elite and exclusive group who are 'alone' doing God's will. In contrast, other Christian Churches and denominations are mocked, ridiculed and attacked verbally within the cult.

4/ Take a look at the way the group looks and acts. Does everyone dress more or less the same, act the same, and talk the same? One former cult member, speaking of his particular involvement with a cult said that the group encouraged its members “to do everything in exactly the same way - to pray the same, to look the same, to talk the same. This in psychology is a classic example of group conformity. Its purpose is to ensure that no-one tries to act differently or become dissident, thus nobody questions the status quo.” (Andrew Hart, Jan.1999).

5/ Many cults tend to discourage association with non-members, even family members, where possible (except, maybe, for the possibility of converting them to the group).

6/ Many cults give their members ‘black and white answers’. What the group agrees with is right and what the group disagrees with is wrong.

7/ Everyone in the group will believe exactly the same things (i.e. what the group leaders tell them to believe). There will be no room for individual belief, or opinion even in minor areas.

8/ The group will usually wear ‘two faces’. On the one hand, it attempts to present itself, to potential converts and the public at large, as a group of people who are like one large family where everyone is equal. But on the other hand, the reality is, that many members inwardly feel unfulfilled and emotionally exhausted. The only way families and friends of cult victims will be able to find out more is by contacting ex-members of that specific group (see useful contacts at the end of this article).

I am Positive that it is a Cult. What do I do Now?

If there are a high proportion of the pointers above, in the group which your friend or relative has joined, what should you do? There are several things which can be done.

Firstly, be Informed about the Cult

Many cults tend to view those who are outside their movement as unenlightened. A pride is built up within the group who believe themselves to be recipients of various spiritual insights which the rest of the world does not have. By finding out what the cult believes you will be more likely to earn the right to be listened to rather than one who has no knowledge. Probably the best way to understand what the cult believes and stands for is by looking at the group's own literature. However, bear in mind that many cults usually hide things like glaring mistakes in their history and unusual doctrines which many of the more immature members may not be aware of. Also, many have a track record of damaging people mentally and spiritually. To find out about issues which the group itself will not willingly give away, you need to contact ex-members and those who have examined the group critically. Information about most cults can be found on the internet and in public libraries.

Use Critical Literature Effectively

When you do find the vast amount of literature that exposes the cult, you need to know how to use it effectively. One of the main difficulties in using such literature is that the person who is caught up in the cult has been warned by leaders not to read the material, or talk to anybody critical of the group. Leaders of cults will tell their members that Satan is out to destroy "God's work" and that he has risen up lying opponents who seek to overthrow "God's true people". So, of course, with cult members conditioned with this kind of phobia indoctrination, anytime they come across the literature of ex-members, counter-cult organisations, or individuals, who attempt to point out clear errors in the group, a mind set automatically activates which causes the cult member to literally stop short of his or her critical thinking abilities. In this way the persons God given ability to rationalise with their common sense is taken away. However, there are some ways which may help to disarm this mind set:
Rather than go charging in at your friend or relative with some of the literature which you have come across, a better way is to take an inquiring approach. For example, explain to your friend that you have come across some literature which says some things which are causing you to have problems with the particular group which they are involved with. Ask them if they can help you with it and show you where the literature may possibly be wrong. If they still refuse at this point you can say to them that if they are not willing to look at the literature, then you are going to be left with the idea that the issues which the literature are bringing up must be true.
Another approach is that of pitting one cult against another. This can be done by asking your friend to consider the fact that other religious groups (i.e. other cults which the cult in question would actually reject) forbid, or strongly discourage, their members from reading literature critical of it. With this fact established the question can then be asked: "If we are in agreement that the groups we have just mentioned are false cults, how will their members ever know the errors which exist within their organisation/church etc. if they are not allowed to read anything critical of it? Can we agree that, rather than protecting their members from "the lies of Satan" etc., the group is keeping its members in a system which itself is actually the liar?" It can then be asked (sensitively): "Is it therefore possible that the group which you are involved with is one of these groups? If they say "No" ask them how will they ever know if they refuse to look at literature which claims to expose it?

Having the Right Attitude is Vital

It cannot be stressed enough that the right attitude when approaching the person in the cult is vital. Saying things like: "You are in a cult" or "You have been brainwashed" only drives the person further into the group. Those in cults are still people, people who will see comments such as the above as personal attacks upon them. It may also be tempting to lose your temper out of the frustration you are experiencing. But it is only natural that negative comments and loss of temper will produce a defensive attitude in the cult member. It must be remembered that the person caught up in the cult has been taught to view you as a spiritual enemy. Acting in a careless way will only reinforce what they have been taught. It is far better to approach the individual with a caring and accepting attitude. It is possible to express to the person that you still accept them, even if you do not agree with their involvement in the group. Let them know that you will always be there for them whatever decisions they make. This is important because many people who get involved with cults eventually leave of their own accord. The length that each person stays in the cult however, will vary with each individual and the kind of things which they are experiencing within the cult. If the person knows that there are loving and supportive friends and relatives outside the cult it will be easier for them to leave the cult by themselves. In addition to showing genuine concern for your friend/relative, be sure to listen to them. Try not to rush in with what you have learnt about the cult. Be patient. Letting them talk for themselves will help them to think through the decisions they have made. They will probably paint a glowing picture of the group and how it has changed their life. Try not to dispute this. On some occasions, they may be genuinely fulfilled by their experience. The important thing is that you simply listen to whatever it is they may be saying. After listening patiently to them, you have basically earned the right to make comments and ask questions about what they have said.

What to do When the Person Leaves the Cult

When your friend or loved one eventually leaves the cult there will follow a time whereby he or she, as an ex-member, will have to slowly re-adjust to life outside the cult. The time period for recovery will vary according to each individual, the intensity of involvement with the cult, and length of time in the movement. What must be remembered is that during their time in the cult, they have had many of their decisions made for them. They have not been encouraged to think for themselves, but merely 'obey their leaders' who have already 'done the thinking for them'. With this in mind, it is vital to encourage the ex-member to make his or her own decisions, even in minor areas. During this time of recovery it is also useful to let the person know that it is all right to talk about his or her involvement in the cult, even the good times! Some friends or relatives may fear that the person is desiring to go back into the cult at this point. This, of course, is always a possibility and must be monitored carefully. However, letting the person speak through their experiences is an important part of the healing process.

Please go here for the rest of the article: http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/clt.htm

or here: Exit & Support Network for further help.