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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.

Mind Control by Cults

Information from: Spotlight Ministries
Used by permission.
( A copy can also be found at: http://www.christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/test-mindcontrol.html )

Although cults differ in their belief systems they all use the same mind control tactics. The purpose of this article is to give you the chance to test yourself to see if you are the victim of 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 their members. It should also be noted that these questions are not merely limited to religious groups. There are also many non-religious, secular, business, and political groups in existence today which also use mind control on their members.

Are You The Victim of a Mind Control Cult? Test Yourself.

-- 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?

-- Is questioning the group, or the group leaders, discouraged or frowned upon?

-- Does the group you belong to believe that it is an elite and exclusive organisation which alone has ‘the truth’ and answers to life’s questions?

-- Does the group pour scorn upon, attack, and mock other Christian churches and their interpretation of the Bible?

-- Is reading any literature critical of the group discouraged? Many cults will warn members not to read anything critical of the group, especially if written by ex-members (who are called names by the cult such as “apostate”, “hardened”, or “of the devil” etc.). This is a well known information control technique to stop the member from discovering the clear and documented errors of the cult. Member's abilities to think for themselves are effectively disarmed in this way. Instead, they will think more and more as the rest of the group thinks.

-- 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 observer, 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).

-- Does the group discourage association with non-members (except, maybe, for the possibility of converting them to the group)?

-- Does the group give you ‘black and white answers’? -- What the group agrees with is right and what the group disagrees with is wrong.

-- Does everyone in the group believe exactly the same things (i.e. what the group leaders tell them to believe)? Is there no room for individual belief, or opinion even in minor areas?

-- Does the group wear ‘two faces’? On the one hand, does it attempt to present itself, to potential converts and the public at large, as a group of people who are like one large family, who have love among themselves, where everyone is equal? But on the other hand, the reality is, that many members inwardly feel unfulfilled and emotionally exhausted?

-- Have you attempted to disable your own critical thinking abilities by ‘shelving’ various doubts about the group or group’s teachings etc.

-- Are others in the group, who do not conform to the requirements of the movement’s teaching, treated with suspicion, and treated like second class members?

-- Does the group tend to withhold certain information from the potential convert? Are the more unusual doctrines of the group not discussed until an individual is more deeply involved in the movement?

-- 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’.

If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, the group that you are involved with is certainly using manipulative mind control techniques. Now that you know this, what will you do?

Firstly, you need to realise that whatever group you are part of, it does not have the monopoly on God. For many people in mind control cults, leaving the movement is usually considered the equivalent of leaving God Himself and forfeiting one’s salvation. However, the truth is, that there are Christians in all denominations who have found salvation in Christ alone, and not a Church. Many people who are trapped in a spiritually abusive religious system often feel as though they would have nowhere else to go if they managed to make the break from the group. The answer is found in what Jesus said in Matthew 11 : 28 -- “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Secondly, you do need to leave the group. This may be difficult, but by staying you will only continue to be spiritually and mentally abused. You will also be contributing to a system which, in your heart, you know to be wrong. Also, don’t let pride keep you from leaving the group.

Thirdly, don’t feel as though you will be alone in your decision to leave. There are many individuals who have been in the same situation as yourself. These people come from many different religious groups, but have all been victims of the same dominating mind control techniques. Today, many are living new lives of liberty, security, and hope.

Survivors of Destructive Cults

Survivors of destructive cults often need help with their quest to return to the real world.
There appear to be many people willing to provide that help. However, it would be wise to check if they have relevant qualifications. Recommendations from previous patients would also be very valuable.

With regard to the above, you may wish to check the long list of contacts in this post on the Weinland Watch blog: Time Well Spent

Otherwise, this post and the reply, from a restricted forum may be of some help :-


"I have a question, perhaps a little strange but here we go. Do we have a psychologist on board? I would be very interested to hear his or her thoughts on the prophet. I have a medical background but wouldn't dare try and figure this whole mess out. I wonder what a psychologist would have to say about the prophet? I know, sensitive subject, but inquiring minds want to know, or do they?"

Reply :-
Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a psychologist on board.
However, there are resources on the Internet that appear to be helpful.
There is a page of links to "Online Texts about Cults and New Religions" on the skepsis website. http://www.skepsis.nl/nrm.html
Interesting articles that seem to apply to CoG-PKG [1] are :-
Langone, Michael D. -- Clinical Update on Cults (1996) - Psychiatric Times.
Santucci, James -- Old Wine in New Bottles: What is New in New Religions (extracts below).

Old Wine in New Bottles: What is New in New Religions (2000)
James Santucci, Dept. of Comparative Religion, California State University
"This discussion serves as a good introduction to the approach so many people have today of cults. Here is a listing of what I think most individuals and the media would associate with cults:
1. a false or bogus religion because it is detrimental to the welfare of its members. Religions are supposed to elevate human aspirations, spirituality and morals, not degrade them.
2. They are small in size, the implication perhaps because cults can never attract the larger portions of the community.
3. Cults are controlled by an individual of unlimited power, the notion that unlimited power projects unlimited danger to the unsuspecting individual adherent.
4. Cults are culturally divergent, i.e. non-mainstream, thus strange in appearance, behavior, dress, belief.
5. Very often mind control techniques are employed, suggesting not only the dangerousness of the leader, but his (or her) cunning and deceitful methods."
"...and the beginnings of an emphasis on mind control and doomsday cults, defined as cults that engage in extreme spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional control of its members in order to control their beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behavior. If the lives of members are in jeopardy and in fact are taken, then the mind control cult is a doomsday cult. Cults that apply stress, restrict sleep, require endless repetition of prayers, generate fear and paranoia, introduce auto-hypnotic exercises, control behavior by shaming and humiliation, require confessions, institute isolation especially from families, practice shunning, threatening that God will abandon or punish them if they leave, and promise protection from imminent Armageddon are all techniques of mind control and doomsday cults."
"What happens, however, if the human element is too overwhelming, too overbearing? What if the founder or leader does not represent the Ideal, does not represent the Highest Good? What then? Here is a prescription for disaster. We are fortunate that the successful leaders—Jesus, Paul, the Prophets, Buddha, Zoroaster, Muhammad—reflect the best that humanity can offer. But religious leaders are not good because they are religious leaders. There are bad apples that have come along that have inflicted great harm on their followers. Not only Edward Wilson, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, but also all those individuals who inflicted sexual crimes on their charges in the organized, traditional churches, the preachers who bilk their congregation and listeners out of their hard-earned savings, the charlatans who see religion as a moneymaking venture."

More information about “thought reform” and “mind control” can be found on the Ironwolf forum.
The second post highlights areas that are thought to apply to CoG-PKG [1].

If you are looking for a Christian therapist near where you live, this link should help :- http://christiantherapist.com/
Otherwise, a lot of information can be found here :- http://www.rickross.com/
There are many resource links on this page :-http://www.rickross.com/mind_control.html
(PS. Since I am not qualified, I cannot make any recommendations.)

This is an alternative viewpoint (included to be fair): Religious movements - essays
Most of us apparently have a label - we are known as ‘anticultists’!
I believe the author makes too many generalizations.
It should be obvious that there are degrees of harm. The CoG-PKG [1] isn’t as bad (yet) as some doomsday cults where the member’s lives were in danger, but you can’t get any more extreme predictions than World War 3 and “billions dead”.

Also, there must be a stage where the leader(s) will be guilty of fraud. It is true that: “People who behave unethically can be found in any part of life“, but that isn’t a reason to protect religious leaders from prosecution.

I suspect that the First Amendment wouldn’t apply in cases of criminal fraud.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I guess a wish list of members for this forum would include lawyers as well as psychologists!

Note [1]
CoG-PKG is an abbreviation of "Church of God - Preparing for the Kingdom of God".
It is a unitarian church based in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
The pastor, Ronald Weinland, declared in 1997 that he was a prophet, and one of the two witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.
Go here for a history of the pastor and his church :-
More information about cult victims here :-

or here: Exit & Support Network for further help.