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How to start your own cult

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How to Start Your Own Cult

(and Why You Probably Wouldn't Want To)

by George A. Boyd ©1988

First published in The Whole Life Times July 1988

Are you bored with the 9 to 5? Want to do something different? Would you like to work for yourself and gain the approbation of other people? Try starting a Cult.

How to Start Your Cult

It is first important to create a mystique about yourself. Hire a public relations person (or a friend will do if you're low on cash) to portray you as someone mysterious, exotic, possessed of supernal powers and charisma. It is important to come from a mystic sounding country like India, Tibet, Egypt, or "the Holy Land." In lieu of actually coming from there, you can have studied there and thus gained the mystic powers of the Adepts that live in the remote, forbidden recesses of Nature...atop craggy peaks, in mold-encrusted caves, in ancient forests full of tigers, snakes and horrible insects as large as your hand.

Next, have a group of friends circulate stories about you, that you have been away on a long journey, and you have returned...different...and you have become possessed of some mysterious power and presence. They may then praise your abilities to transmit energy (call it Shakti!), to heal, to put other people into profound states of meditation, to awaken faith in God...

After this networking has aroused some interest and curiosity, hold your first public meeting, preferably at a large hall. Poster the city and hand out leaflets, and leave flyers at bookstores, health food stores, and local markets.

Prior to your first meeting, you'll need to do some research. You'll need to know how to do a guided meditation, and how to induce a light hypnotic trance in a group. Practice in front of a mirror to obtain a powerful gaze...and talk slowly, monotonously, in a deep, sonorous voice.

Leave lots of pregnant, lingering, seductive silences in between your words. Change your tone mid-message from near whispering to shouting. Watch how powerful speakers evoke tears, anger, cheers, shame, and exultation—emulate their style of stimulating powerful emotions.

Prepare a speech that promises that you and your new religion (or amazing discovery, secret Yoga, true doctrine, esoteric technique) will satisfy people's inner needs: to be loved, to be happy, to be popular, to be wealthy, to be healthy, to be powerful and dynamic, to attain the heights of Spiritual Realization, to be pleasing to God and/or members of the opposite sex. Make claims of exclusivity and superiority, and actively ridicule other groups or faiths, calling them evil, satanic, deluded, leading the ignorant to destruction and woe...or hell...or the perils of transmigration...or worse!

Intersperse your speech with adjectives praising your method or discovery, but make no claims for yourself. Those that introduce you should give a jaw-dropping, awe and respect-inspiring testimonial about you.

Enter to music that sets the mood you want to create: worship, serenity, triumph, majesty. Have lighting that accents your entrance, soft background lighting that will give the appearance of having a radiant aura around you. Complete the atmosphere by having fresh flowers, incense, with wisps of scented oils in the air. Place a large picture of yourself in a high place behind the podium with the name of your group or church—high enough so that people will have to raise their eyes every time they look at it. Stand above them and talk with powerful, dramatic body language.

Simplify everything. Talk as if you were explaining to a 12 year old child. Appear completely confident of your claims, and make eye contact with your audience when you want to emphasize a point. Create a simple doctrine, a simple cosmology with an All-Powerful, All-Protecting Being. Drop hints and inferences (don't make direct assertions or claims) that you are a special representative or Incarnation of this Being here on Earth by way of metaphors and parables. Purposely leave everything vague and never fully define your meanings, so that people leave stirred up inside...asking themselves, "who is he/she?"...what did he/she mean by that?"

After your speech, lead them in prayer or a guided meditation, easing them into a light hypnotic trance state. While they are coming out of trance, tell them where they can go to learn more, why it is crucial that they come, why they desperately need what you have come to bring. Have people hand out flyers to the audience as they leave to reinforce where and when your ongoing meetings will be held. Have handsome well-dressed men and attractive women act as door monitors and ushers, and have "counselors" available to assure the troubled and confused members of the audience that they ..."have come to the right place" and "the answer is here."

Meetings should further affirm your basic message. There should be more testimonials, more praise of you and your Way, with simple participatory rituals (a potluck dinner, holding hands in prayer, having each person tell about themselves in a small group with the rest of the group applauding after they speak) to create a sense of belonging.

The retreat or initiation comes next. After attending a required number of introductory meetings, the seeker is "let into the inner circle" and "permitted to partake of the Mysteries." This can be formalized by a simple baptism or flower-offering ceremony, plus learning a special, secret prayer or mantramic formula, or some other esoteric method. Coupling this method with whispering, touching the forehead or anointing the head with chrism oil, together with soft evocative background music and fragrant scents will further imprint the experience into the subconscious mind.

Shaping of the new "initiate" is done by attacking and replacing belief systems with cult doctrine, and by finding fault with his/her behavior. Good, cult-approved behavior is praised; non-approved behavior is condemned. Eventually, cult doctrine comes to replace much of the initiate's own beliefs, thinking about cult philosophy and proscribed ethics comes to occupy his/her thoughts, and being involved in cult commitments and events occupies much of the spare time away from work and home.

Further commitment and responsibilities within the cult make leaving and repudiating the doctrine even more difficult. Having offices or titles locks the followers into roles, and turns them into permanent representatives of the message you proclaim.

When the "movement" is established, you will only have to give talks to them periodically to inspire their faith and commitment. Your trusted lieutenants will take over much of the proselytization activity and fund-raising efforts, so that with a little help from a lawyer and an accountant you can guarantee yourself a well-to-do lifestyle with little effort...

The Human Cost of Cultism

Now that we have journeyed together on this imaginary voyage of you starting your own cult and ensuring your fame and fortune, let us pause for a moment and consider the human cost of cultism, and why this apparently easy and seductive path to power, fame and wealth is not so prudent a path, after all.

A little spare-time observation of television evangelism, local churches and places of worship, or charismatic cults will reveal many of these methods in action, much to the detriment of those who are swept up in its illusions and emotional maelstrom.

Physically, people neglect their diet and sleep, and exhaust themselves in pursuit of cult-prescribed activities, inviting disease and ill health. Too ardent pursuit of meditation can further lead to sensory hallucinations and delusional perception.

Emotionally, people become obsessed with ideas implanted by cult doctrine. Their self- esteem becomes distorted, tending either toward grandiosity or self-depreciation. They become tortured by feelings of guilt, failure, fear, rage, shame, and bitter regret. Their emotional serenity is shattered.

Mentally, people little by little lose the ability to think for themselves: to critically evaluate, to make independent judgements, to make decisions, to separate reality from fantasy. Their will becomes weakened, and they no longer resist the seductive and hypnotic suggestions of cult doctrine...their lives come under the control of others.

Personally, their beliefs and behaviors increasingly become dictated from without. They cease to direct their own lives. Instead, group mandate becomes personal mandate, group goals become personal goals. Attribution to self and to one's own efforts are supplanted by attribution to metaphysical, spiritual, or archetypal sources. Ultimately the leader or divinity comes to occupy the central place in the person's life, and all the issues of life are seen to come from the leader.

Spiritually, people in cults develop devotion or fanaticism, detachment or feverish over-involvement, and taste the extremes of ecstasy and despair. There is rarely sober reflection, inner silence, and the balance of intentionality and wisdom that marks maturity. Indeed, cultic groups feed on extremism, infantilizing their followers and training them in immaturity and dependence.

These effects combine to make involvement in cults at best a waste of a person's precious time and at worst the waste of a person's life.

Do you still want to start a cult?

How to Steer Clear of Cults

OK, you really are not motivated by greed, lust for power, and an exaggerated sense of personal worth and preoccupation with your...Mission from God. You are genuinely altruistic, honest, seeking the truth, motivated by a desire only to serve and to love. Where do you find a group to learn with safely, or conversely, how do you safely start your own group without causing damage to other people's lives?

There are several principles that you can look for. Though these are not always indicative of good fruit within the container, they are leading indicators of, at least, sincere intentions:

1) FREE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION. The information in the group is presented without claims of its exclusivity or superiority. It does not deter members from seeking other sources of information; indeed, it often encourages its members to go to those more expert and qualified to teach certain skills or methods. It encourages a broad understanding of religion and philosophy, and does not stress emotionalized, narrow interpretations.

2) RECOGNITION OF THE HUMANITY OF THE LEADERS. Although respect for the lofty spiritual attainments of the genuine adepts and preceptors of humanity is appropriate, to deify the leader of a group and to deny his/her humanity is to make a crucial error. These individuals do not cease to have a personality and have the potential to fall from grace. They may have learned over many years of discipline how to control their tendencies of mind, and how to readily transcend the personality, but this does not mean that latent or unconscious tendencies have ceased to operate. Given the right circumstances, they too can be seen to be overcome by passions, to blunder and yes...to sin.

3) HUMILITY. Genuine humility is a recognition of how much a person has yet to learn. It is a remembrance of and gratitude to those who have given of their strength, wisdom and guidance. No man "knows it all" and grandiose notions should quickly vanish upon the dawning of "the Light of Infinitude," or the "Vision of the Beloved of Hearts."

4) TRUTHFULNESS. To the senses, truth is the verifiably real. To the emotions, truth is confession of real feelings and motives. To the mind truth is accuracy and consistency. To the personality, truth is integrity: promises and actions coincide. To the spirit, Truth is the Ineffable Source from which it comes.

Truth is an intuitive conviction, an inner knowing of the law of the heart. It cannot be codified by philosophy, dictated by religion or authority, or enforced upon the human spirit.

When truth is communicated, it speaks directly to the heart, and it is filled with love. It does not impose its values, threaten or cajole, browbeat or persuade—but the heart knows that it is true.

If truth is spoken in the group, by the leader or anyone else, the heart will know it. If authority is acceded to Scripture, to the Master or Teacher, to God or gods above the human heart: question, and question yet again.

5) RESPECT FOR THE DIGNITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL. If the group prescribes one panacea for all human needs, it denies the malleability of situation and the infinite variety of our human condition. The medicine that works for one person does not work for another; the method that transports one soul to ineffable realms of bliss has no effect for another. Either the method produces the result, or it doesn't—trying to obscure this with rationalizations, procrastination and explanation is diversion. The method must respect the nature of the person's needs and situation, and most of all it must respect a person's free choice and independent judgement. It must allow him/her the right to learn from the consequences if need be, or not to learn...and to choose his/her own path.

6) GENUINE LOVE AND DEVOTION. Love and devotion that is engineered through effusive testimonials and the creation of a legend about the leader does not last. Where there is spontaneous love and devotion springing from the heart, where people do not have to exhorted to love or to worship, you may look for a genuine tradition. When the Beloved is seen, the heart does not have to be told who or where the Beloved is, it knows...and it loves.

7) PRACTICE OF SPIRITUAL VALUES AND SERVICE TO HUMANITY. It is one thing to have a noble philosophy, another to live it.

Look for deviation between the teacher's prescription and what is his/her own behavior. Deeper than beliefs and philosophy is character; how a person actually lives, speaks more eloquently than volumes of discourse.

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The key word is CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL by Submitting to the Leadership - Leaders tend to be the absolute end, looked to as prophets of God, as specially anointed apostles, or just a strong, controlling, manipulative personality who demands submission even if he changes his views or conflicts occur in doctrine or behavior. They can be looked on as God Himself. To obey a leader and their teaching is equal to obeying God.

It can take time for them to gain power over the new convert, but it will eventually be there. Control is usually overwhelming and can cover most aspects of the followers' lives:

Dress codes, activities, finances, time, possessions and relationships. They can dictate to the member who to see, what to do, what is the right thing to say, and how to say it. Various degrees of control can be experienced, from subtle manipulation to blatant ordering. They will expect rigid obedience of the member’s time and activities - involving their followers in physically and emotionally draining activities leaving little time for privacy and reflection, or questioning their authority. Expecting one to show up when everyone else does, and everything is usually done in groups.

The methods of control, which are used, are usually FEAR of displeasing God, the leader, or both. Fear of rejection, punishment, losing ones salvation, missing the rapture, going to hell. Guilt, Fear and intimidation are Weapons used to maintain their loyalty and devotion to the group.

Intimidation and accusation are the most often used. For example, any questioning of authority is treated as rebellion, and not trusting. They suppress questions and conform to the group’s behavior. They Discourage Critical or Rational Thought and Questions. They will reply with comments like, "Satan is the cause of all doubt; he is keeping you from the Truth," or it will take time to understand the deep things of God. Critical thinking is discouraged being called prideful or sinful or rebellious. No independent thinking is encouraged.

They over simplify answers to life's questions, making everything for all situations as simple as black or white.


Telling one who to date or who to marry. Decisions are made by the leader as to whom and when you’re ready. (Moonies International churches of Christ).

Extremes can be no seeing the opposite sex to promiscuity in sexual relations, (Children of God), group sex (New Age Therapy groups, Some Eastern religious gurus) child sex, adultery, and polygamy (Branch Davidians, certain Mormon sects, children of God) sex is used as an initiation into the cult (as well as occult and Satanic groups).

Sexual impurity especially among the leaders can be common and promoted. Doctrinal deception is more than often displayed by moral deception. (Polygamy, spiritual wives, adultery, fornication and sexual sin are acceptable). The leader believes that he is above everyone or is an exception to God's laws so he may not follow his own rules.

GROUP TRUST: Confession Sessions are used to build relationships. Full disclosure of all secret sins, thoughts, temptations, and desires are expressed with those you know and may not know to build up your trusting them with your life. These can become powerful tools to emotionally bond you to the leader or group. They later can be used to manipulate, or blackmail some one if and when they decide to leave.

A DOUBLE STANDARD: There is one standard for the followers and another for the leaders. Leaders can do almost anything wrong while others will be rebuked and made examples of if they do the same things.

Christ teaches that leaders should be servants of those they lead. Cult leaders exalt themselves, requiring the followers to serve them or the church’s program. Jesus said, "The greatest among you will be your servant" Matthew 23:11. He said of Himself, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" Matthew 20:28. This is a sure way to see what your involved, since what cults practice is backwards.

TAKES LICENSE WITH GOD'S WORD: The Scripture is not rightly divided. Private revelations and interpretations are added to the Word and sometimes substitute for it. Passages contradictory to the orthodox beliefs are being twisted and taken out of their context. Strong emphasis is placed upon certain passages making them their thrust in ministry. While other pertinent scriptures on essentials and practice are completely ignored. Bible scholars who give a different interpretation from the cultists' are ignored or ridiculed.

MISPLACED LOYALTY: Someone involved in an abusive system finds their loyalty is nurtured and even demanded. An organization, church or leader replaces loyalty for Christ. Because authority is usually from an individual or a group one is asked if they will be loyal to God, confusing the member that to be loyal to a person or group means the same. With the Jehovah's Witnesses it’s their blind loyalty to whatever the Watchtower says.

ISOLATION: Information control is practiced where members of the group are not allowed or discouraged to have contact with outside family members, other ministries or Christians that could influence them. This is done to prevent information that may expose what is going on internally. They cut off or denigrat outside sources of information, especially if it is critical of the group. One is not allowed to read or converse with those who say these things or were once part of the group and left for whatever circumstances. Ties are severed with former friends and family and the circle becomes tighter as the only people you are exposed are the ones in the group. One reads only their books and are discouraged or forbidden to read other books especially if one opposes their views.

If evidence is presented that they have had false prophecies or they are used to make money. The focus is shifted members are taught to question the motives or character of the person and ignore the evidence. So the focus is on the others character and not the proof that they have. They will be called emissaries of Satan so that they can’t be trusted with anything they have.

AN "US AGAINST THEM" ATTITUDE AND PHILOSOPHY: Anyone who challenges the cult's doctrine is automatically branded as an enemy, which is usually anyone who disagrees. The cultists feel that they are being persecuted unfairly. On the other hand, true Christians accept persecution, knowing that it tests the genuineness of their faith. New members are told Satan will cause friends and family to say bad things about their group and that they should only trust their new family. We should expect to be persecuted for the truth we have. It becomes an “us against them” mentality. Clichés are given, such as "Who is more important, God or school?” or "Don't you love God with all your heart, don’t you trust us, do you know of anyone who cares about you more?" "We are the only ones who have the truth," "don’t you want to be found faithful."

FOCUS ON AN IMAGINED ENEMY: The enemy is seen to be the government, the IRS, Blacks (other ethnic groups if they are politically oriented) certain church denominations are considered the enemy. The focus shifts from inside and instead of God's truth and purpose, keeps the adherents busy towards something outside, It also stops them from looking in and really thinking things through.

END-TIME REVELATION: Special insights into the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ are claimed. The book of revelation is mostly used, among other immediate prophecies. Koresh claimed an exclusive understanding of the "seven seals" in Revelation, and believed that he was the one ordained to open them. Elizabeth C. Prophet of the church universal has prophecies from ascended masters telling about the end times.

MOTIVATIONAL TEACHING: Techniques designed to stimulate emotions, usually employing loud speaking or music with group participation; group dynamics are used to influence responses. You’re overwhelmed with smiling faces and handshakes and hugs with unconditional friendship. Those who were newly invited will be asked how they liked it and told how much fun they have and what they have to offer. They will immediately become your best friend and want to know when your coming back.

RULES OF SILENCE: There are rules, which govern churches, which are often not stated or written down. Beware if they say the only statement we have is the Bible. Since the rules are not spoken verbally, you don't find out that the rule (s) exist until you've broken one. It is taken for granted that you should know them. Or you taught them after you have joined.

The unspoken rule may come across like this: Do not disagree with the church authorities -- especially the pastor or your spirituality and loyalty will be questioned. Silence becomes a fortress wall of protection, shielding the pastor's position of power from any scrutiny or challenge. If one questions what is said or the rules they are seen as against them or divisive.

The “can’t talk to others” rule is probably the most consistent one used. If you speak about the problem to others, YOU JUST BECOME THE PROBLEM. You must become silent and just ignore it or will be asked to leave. Neither can you discuss things with others who left, while you are still in the group or it will be considered betrayal.

CONVERSION TECHNIQUES: Conversion into a cult is done by dynamic interactions. They look for those who are new to the town or school. The easiest to involve someone is when they are weak and vulnerable they instantly become a potential recruit. This vulnerability can be enhanced by transitional situations in life such as divorce, depression, abuse, handicapped, a job or career change, moving away from home or leaving college, few friends, an illness, or death of a loved one, new to an area, loneliness, loss of job, or someone backsliding. Those whom have had numerous bad experiences with love in their lives, feel rejected by people and insecure are attracted to cults. These groups make them instantly feel accepted and superior giving them friendship and acceptance. Many people who become discontent and disappointed in their prior church experiences are open to something new, even something radically different.

The tactics used to convert, indoctrinate the members. Some groups attempt a radical and quick conversion with an intensive weekend retreat or weeklong seminar such as The Forum or Scientology. Others have a more subtle approach, which may take weeks or months such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and International churches of Christ, although all push for something for quicker decisions to join.

REVELATION KNOWLEDGE: Emotions, intuitions, revelations and mystical insights are promoted over the objective word. They become more important than objective conclusions and what has already been revealed in scripture. Critical Thinking is discouraged; independent thought can be looked at as selfish, and rational use of intellect as evil.

MYSTICAL ALTERED STATES: The flesh is considered evil the Spirit is good (Gnosticism). Subjective experiences are accepted more quickly than constructive teaching. New age uses Repetition of words, Techniques which include relaxation, chanting, hypnosis, meditation, trance states, guided imagery or visualization, deep breathing exercises - all of these bring a person into an altered state, a highly suggestible state. (This can also be done in Pentecostal groups by the use of repetitive songs sung over and over for long periods of time or listening to long drawn out sermons for hours on end.) These techniques can cause psychological imbalance. What is relaxation becomes the opposite promoting anxiety. Many cannot handle stilling the mind or visualizing. The affects are not immediately noticed and usually catch up later.

LEADERS HAVE A PRIDEFUL UNTEACHABLE SPIRIT: The attitude that "no one can Judge me or tell me what to do" is fostered by pride. The leader is in deception and promotes deception to the followers. The leader becomes untouchable by anyone. He is accountable to God only and everyone must obey what he says like it is Gods words. Included in this is the attitude that 'we are always right" from the leadership. When Hobart Freeman began Faith Assembly, loyalty to him and his teachings were to be accepted without question. To question Freeman, a self-acknowledged "prophet of God" was to risk the charge of blasphemy. Many people died including himself from his teaching on healing. This continues today by the word/faith movement and believing for your healing. All false doctrine has pride as its catalyst and arrogance as its practice. A good example of this is the phrase; “don’t touch the Lords anointed.” According to John Avanzini and Paul crouch, Dr. Walter Martin (a cult apologist) died because he spoke out against the Word-Faith teachers and their messages. (John Avanzini with Paul Crouch, Spring 1990 Praise-a-thon, Trinity Broadcast Network.)

PRIDE OF THE GROUP: We are the only ones who are right. If you are not one of us, then you are destined for hell. Correct doctrine is used by them alone, to the exclusion of any others, they alone have the truth so one must join them to be saved. They have an us against them attitude which can be very dangerous.

They appoint new "inside" meanings to ordinary words or the use of an exclusive vocabulary subtly moving a person to want to become a member. An appearance of false Spirituality is given from the language. What was formerly known by a certain phrase or word now has a new meaning behind it.

BRAINWASHING: New inductees are brainwashed increment by increment, until the convert identifies with the Church and its leaders and ties with family society are broken. Many claim no one can be brainwashed if they don’t want to be. But who ever wanted to be unless they were convinced first it is a good thing? So it is disguised as what is right and true. While there are some subtle differences between mind control and brainwashing the results are the same, obedience. A systematic teaching indoctrinates members into the beliefs of the cult. This is a methodical process of seducing and deceiving. A lie is told over and over until it is accepted and believed. A reprogramming of the conscience is done by other members and systematic teachings. Certain techniques used for what is called thought reform and mind conditioning. Members are kept under physical, mental and emotional pressure (Such as two and three day meetings which last for long hours.) they can become too fatigued to resist or think for themselves, or they become to busy as they can comply with all the groups activities.

DEVOTION TO CONVERT OTHERS TO THEIR GROUP AND ITS BELIEF SYSTEM: Cults demand a strong commitment from their members. They promise rewards for being faithful to their leaders and organization. EX: one can be kept out of the tribulation if found doing God's work (JW).

Service to the church is understood as service to God. Meetings are mandatory. In the I.C.C., one's meetings will keep them so busy they will no longer have time for their friends and family, job or hobbies. They are replaced with a new family and friends and a new view of life.

The priority, rather than bringing others into a saving relationship with Christ is to have them gain membership. Flattery is used, they can be very are crafty and everything is done with an objective. Instead of plainness, openness and honesty. They hide their real motives and teachings until they know one is ready. When they are convinced that you will do anything for God and their group, it is then that they will disclose the full extent of their teachings and mission.

DISTORTED TITHING OR EXCESSIVE GIVING: Certain members Keep track of your commitment of what your to give. They may have you write down what you can give and keep you to the obligation. More and more money is needed to attain higher degrees of spirituality (word faith, International churches of Christ), or complete submission to God requires one to give up everything to the group or leader for the cause. Give to get back from God, the more you give the more God will give back.

We must be ready to "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1), and to "beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's (Christian) clothing" (Matthew 7:15). The key to discernment is awareness (Hosea 4:6), for how can one beware unless one is first aware. We become aware by first by familiarizing one self with the truth, but also become aware how the enemy distorts the truth to attract and snare us.

ATTEMPTING TO BRING IN THE KINGDOM NOW: It is up to us to change society and government. Force may even be promoted. Distrust and paranoia may empower the Cult as they could feel that they are threatened and subject to attack. This causes them to stockpile food and weapons and take extreme measures to insure protection from their imagined enemies. In Christianity some want to take over the world and Christianize the government and the people so that after it is done Christ will come back.

TOTAL COMMITMENT: is expected of the followers to the leader(s). Their commitment requires that property and money be given in the hands of the leader(s). Ones time, talent, and money are all at the disposal of the church or leaders. It is all focused on their mission, which is interpreted as Gods. While many do use the great commission as a basic concept they change it to mean something than it actually does.

INDIVIDUALITY IS SACRIFICED FOR THE GROUP: The group's concerns supersede an individual's goals, needs and aspirations. Conformity is the key. The end justifies the Means - Any action or behavior is justifiable as long as it furthers the group's goals. To lie to others outside the group is ok since they are serving Satan.

INCONSISTENT DISCIPLINED LIFE: Very strict rules in some areas and completely loose in others. Will make up extra rules to either forbid things normally done (legalism such as movies male or female swimming) or will allow total freedom to the extreme such as in the family and sex for Jesus. There is no balance but only extremes.

MARTYRDOM COMPLEX: Cultists may be willing to die for what they believe to he true, out of loyalty to the man or God they follow. Even to the point of mass suicide as we have seen with Jim Jones Koresh, Heavens Gate etc. Others such as the Christian Science and Jehovah witnesses convince individuals of suicide by denying medical treatment or blood for their life.

CURSES and THREATS: Are put on those who leave the group or oppose them afterwards. They are told their is no where else to go. Threats are made subtly or to their face. Once one is in there is no easy way out. The hardest part is when friends and family are involved. One will often have to give up their friendships and fight for their family.

Are you frustrated trying to figure out how to leave? Don't let this be you. There are ways out, they don't own you, and you can be set free.

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These are both excellent posts and I really think that they should be given to everyone.

But it isn't just "cults" that are the problem. Many well established religious organisations use exactly these techniques to terrorise and control their participants and to make them too fearful of controlling their own lives. I know a number of people who were raised in traditional churches of long pedigree, who are terrified of the concept of going to hell.

It is such a bloody shame.

Ironically this sort of stuff only makes me more determined to set up Community of Infinite Colour. The sooner religion expects people to think for themselves and to think critically about what they believe, the happier I'll be.

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I know a number of people who were raised in traditional churches of long pedigree, who are terrified of the concept of going to hell.

Yeah, there’s shit loads of them around this area. There usually of low IQ, poorly educated and have usually lived there whole life in poverty, sometimes they even have a long history of being a victim of violent or sexual abuse. These people are very easy to manipulate.

Then all the local fanatic religious groups (that theres also a shit load of) compete in luring the sheep into there flock, with the promise of infinite euphoria.

It’s sick and should be illegal!


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the only difference between a religion & a cult is the amount of members & the size of the bank account

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Be wary. <_< >_> <_>

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we are all in a cult! and we are so much so brainwashed to believe we are free people that we hardly even think about it. cults within cults

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Profile of a cult leader ~ By Peter A Olsson M.D. Author of Malignant Pied Pipers of Our Time.

With the advent of easy computer access, and online communications, people from all walks of life and all over the world have been brought together in an unprecedented-before-in-human-history forum to exchange information, ideas and beliefs. There have been many wonderful benefits and opportunities for people from all different backgrounds and walks of life to share and grow. There are extensive online fellowships and discussion groups, nowhere more proliferate than among the religious community. This has resulted in some fresh exchange of ideas and comparing of interpretations of scriptures that has generated an enlightening unprecedented since the first-century assembly. This is to be greatly respected.

There is a dark side to the internet fellowship however. Especially among religious fellowships, due to the scriptural injunctions to love sacrificially, be forgiving and giving and mutually submit to each other, there has been a distressing tendency for internet ministries to arise that couch their agendas in such flowery and loving prose, and such profoundly esoteric interpretations of scripture that the propensities for spiritual abuse are often very subtle and difficult to see on the surface. When we think of cults and spiritual abuse, we tend to think of groups like the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, and Jim Jones, and they were some dramatic examples. They were easy to spot and their errors easy to discern. What is happening in many cases now, however; is far more subtle, and, emotionally at least-far more dangerous. For you see, there are groups now that take scripture and use it as a weapon to destroy their victims’ ability to discern what is true and right, using guilt, fear and manipulation/intimidation so subtly and couched in such religious terms, that one can fall prey to the dogma almost before one knows it. And the red flags that come up in the early relationship with such a spiritually abusive leader are explained away, very plausibly it seems, with a glib tossing out of scripture verses and personal revelations.

The purpose of this article is not to point at any one group, but rather to point to distinguishing characteristics of such groups, focusing on the leaders. It is a truism, that a cultic group will have one charismatic leader, only one, and while that one may claim accountability to a governing body of some sort, most often, when that governing body is examined, it is a small group of people under the direct control of the group leader. This is not possible to determine on the internet. Only with personal knowledge can one really ever know the reality of the configuration of any online ministry. It is not difficult for a tiny group with a handful of people to be presented as a world-wide organization with congregations all over the place, on the basis of internet communication. I will state one thing emphatically. A group leader who cannot establish or state objectively and publicly who he is accountable to is very likely a controlling leader with strong cultic tendencies. The rest of this essay will be to list and illuminate some common characteristics of cultic type leaders as pertains particularly to religious groups.

1) Personal charm and ability to use language and words with consummate skill to sway others to one’s own dogma. The potentially cultic leader is most usually a master at word usage, usually highly intelligent, often highly educated. He can manipulate words and contexts with such skill that the listener is either so confused by his rhetoric that he feels he must be the one who is deficient, or he can explain away contradictory behaviors or ideas so convincingly that one wonders why one ever doubted. He can turn a phrase to the degree that he can deliver a blistering and invalidating reprimand, and make the victim feel like it is done in genuine love and concern for the well-being of the victim. Word and language usage is the PRIMARY tool of the cultic leader, the goal being to emotionally and verbally destroy any critic that cannot be swayed to his way of thinking.

2) Emotionally manipulative. While appearing to be sacrificial and loving, a cultic leader will manipulate the emotions of the victim to the place where anything he does or says is warranted and acceptable. Domination and humiliation are the goals of this manipulative behavior. The emotionally manipulative leader strives to control his victims’ emotional responses to his behavior and pronouncements, usually with the induction of guilt. In many religious leaders, this guilt induction and fear is almost always couched in the threat of loss of favor with Yahweh. Such leaders have no compunction about manipulating the dissident or questioning group member into believing that their salvation is at stake if they do not obey them in particular. By implying; that if you do not honor them, your salvation and standing with Yahweh is at stake. This is the stock in trade of the cult leader, guilt if you question, and threat of loss of salvation.

3) The cultic leader has an inflated and grandiose sense of self. He styles himself a prophet and apostle, Messiah’s personal representative on earth, a ruler of grand proportions. They may claim humility and a servant’s heart, but you will find most of their rhetoric obsessively concentrating on their own personal obtaining and maintenance of power and authority. Again, in religious abusive groups, the leaders tend to have a vision of being grand rulers and kings in the Resurrection, and desire, more than anything, to begin that totality in this life. They genuinely feel they are entitled to adoration and total obedience and control of all those in their sphere. The histrionics are obvious with these stereotypical leaders. If they can't have their way they throw an absolute temper tantrum until they get their way.

4) Most cultic leaders have a tendency toward pathological lying. This is so unpleasant that many times, they completely convince themselves of their own lies. They can create and completely buy into a belief system about their own powers and abilities and an unusual phenomenon particular to the internet is the development of whole fictitious personas in the guise of online security. Now, I am not talking about pseudonyms and the guarding of physical location and personal details. One leader of an online ministry has developed fictitious personas complete with personal biographies and histories and plays the characters out as though they were real when presenting online. These leaders have an inability to see or admit the truth even when caught in a lie….there are always extenuating circumstances and viable reasons for their deceits. Another side of this characteristic is to take something that is basically true and combine it with the fabrications to present an aura of credibility. While more subtle, it is, nevertheless, just another side of the deceit coin. They are not beyond plagiarism either! They will obtain other people's writings, make some changes and then use their own name as the author of the stolen work!

5) A defining characteristic of cult leaders is the fact that, no matter what pain or destruction their actions towards others has brought, there is absolutely no shame, remorse or guilt on their part for the consequences of their actions. If they even give it thought, it is only how to rearrange the perspective on events to present themselves as justified and right in their actions. This is frequently combined with the penchant for deceit discussed above in fabricating plausible sounding explanations for their actions. A frequent justification is…”Yahweh told me to…..Yahweh told me not to…..” for all true believers, there is always a reluctance to deny what may well have been instruction from the Master, and these cult leaders know this. No matter what pain they cause others, they have it worked out how it is the victims’ fault, some deficiency on their part that led to their own suffering. Never is it the cult leaders fault the pain and suffering he causes.

6) The cultic leader tends to have very shallow emotions, very insecure. This characteristic is particularly difficult to detect in online communication, for, despite the dearth of real, heartfelt, emotions, the cult leader with the gift of gab frequently presents as eminently loving, gentle, kind and concerned, especially with those he is trying to develop control over. He presents his demands for control as being only in the very best interest of his victims and presents himself as sacrificially taking such control out of love and commitment. This is almost impossible to see clearly online, except in exceptional circumstances, due to the inability to see this person in actual day-to-day interactions with those around him, and due to the inability to see body language and hear tonal inflections in his voice. He can convince his followers that he loves them unconditionally, but that love, if experienced in truth at all, is conditional solely on his victims’ total acceptance of his domination.

7) There is a tendency for this type of leader to be incredibly callous about the pain and distress of his victim, having no regard for the feelings of the victim. In religious groups with this type of leader, there is great emphasis placed on the unreliability of feelings and the necessity to overcome them, thereby invalidating everything the victim is suffering. A common ploy is for the victim to be told that his/her feelings are not valid because no one else feels that way. All the leader’s manipulative skills are utilized to exploit, control and gain power over the victim. Since the victims do not believe that the leader would intentionally hurt them, they rationalize, with the help of the leader, that the infliction of such pain is for their own good…or has some sort of “redemptive” purpose.

8) The cultic leader also tends to have an unrealistic life plan. You will not find such a person working a job during the week and leading the group on the weekends. His sole goal is to gain and consolidate his control of his group, and increase the size of said group. A frequent statement made by such leaders is….”Yahweh will provide….”.Donations from the group are encouraged, and in many groups, members are expected to donate everything they have to the group, utilizing scriptures describing communal living to support such demands. Only, in this type of group, resources are rarely apportioned according to need, but according to the leader’s perception of need. This leader tends to be highly sensitive to their health problems, and they complain often about it.

9) Contempt of those who do not understand him is almost a defining characteristic of the cultic leader. He makes it plain that in his view, those who either cannot understand the complex and usually very esoteric belief system, are flawed spiritually and nowhere near as worthy as he and those who follow him are. He claims to have exclusive revelation to the truth, and is convinced that those who do not share this same revelation are; blinded to truth, in error, or overtly demonized.

10) This leader does not conceive that there is anything at all wrong with him, that there is no possibility at all of error on his part. When confronted with obvious errors on his part, rage ensues and attacks on the credibility of the one voicing the errors are common tactics. And anger plays a monumental part of their character composition. This becomes a tool that the cult leader uses to control their members. In internet groups, such a person will never discuss differences in ideology or areas where his error could be brought out into the open in one on one discussion. This cult leader type, are usually able to maintain their own sense of infallibility without having to answer errors brought out by others.

11) In a cultic environment, the leader almost always evidences a strong, secretive paranoia…..seeing or fearing persecution from all quadrants. They are unusually obsessed about their position and will usually be given to temper tantrums when challenged. There always tends to be secret revelations, secret texts, and secret insights he will share with no one outside the group; the common reason given is the scriptural injunction not to cast one’s pearls before swine. Perhaps the greatest fear of such a leader is that, with exposure to the light, his pet paradigms will be shown for the esoteric creations that they are. Publicly, they give voice to holding to the accepted canons and dogma of the word, but their secret revelations hold far more sway in their minds and beliefs.

12) The goal of the cult leader is total enslavement of the victims. In mind controlling cults, scriptures commanding submission are used to totally dominate and control the victims’ actions, thoughts and beliefs. Victims are repeatedly and emphatically told that they must yield totally to the leader, to throw themselves at his feet. One leader even proposes bowing and prostration and the kissing of his feet from his followers as a sign of total surrender. This is presented as a direct command from Yahweh, and takes the biblical description of authority to such a level that the leader is left with total control of all aspects of the victims’ lives. The victims are then conditioned to believe that only in such total surrender to the leader will they truly be free or happy.

We see, from the characteristics shown above, that there is a definite pattern of thought and behavior for the cultic leader. The underlying purpose for every action and word is power. Language is the chief tool of the cultic leader and he uses it to dominate, control and manipulate those around him. In mind controlling religious cults, the leaders show consummate skill in manipulating scriptures with the sole purpose of consolidating their control over their victims. The induction of guilt and the induction of fear of condemnation are the chief weapons in the cult leader’s arsenal.

An easy determinant of whether or not a group has a cultic and abusive leader is to observe his actions toward one who has left the group. If those who leave remain quiet, and do not voice their knowledge of the workings of the group, the leader concocts his stories about why the person left, and will leave it at that. If, however, the person speaks up about the abuses he suffers, or tries to impart that information to another person who is at risk for the same type of treatment, that person is immediately demonized. Character assassination, interspersed with a voiced concern for the escapee’s spiritual (or mental) health, follows. Since the facts coming out cannot be refuted, the leader resorts to ad hominem attacks and immediately counsels others in his sphere of influence not to have contact with the vocal escapee.

In conclusion; attempts by any group leader to question your salvation, induce feelings of guilt in you, or coerce you into unscriptural actions that you are uncomfortable with is very possibly a spiritually abusive group. Particularly with internet groups, the potential for deceit and error is great. Always do backgrounds check on the leader and ask for organization documentation. Make these leaders prove their ordination(s) and origin of order. Who ordained them, what were their names, where did this group originate. Prove all things. I pray that the information here will be a tool for readers to assist in rational discernment about the real motives and intentions of any such group or leader they may come in contact with.

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Most cults like Scientology and Catholicism are allowed to go on, some are so dangerous the government must stop them!


by Carol Moore

I was one of millions of Americans who, after seeing the April 19, 1993 burning of the Branch Davidian church outside of Waco, Texas wondered: Did these people really commit mass suicide, as the government alleged, despite the clear evidence on television that the fire started after a tank crashed into one part of the building? Were they really as insane as the government claimed? Why did they have to be attacked with massive, military-like force 51 days earlier? What is the truth?

After two years of research I came to the following conclusions, documented in my book The Davidian Massacre published in late 1995. After the book came out more evidence surfaced that back up allegations -- and answer questions -- presented in the book. I review both below. See the links above for the book's online version and other information.

On February 28,1993 overly aggressive and highly militarized agents of BATF set out to put on a "big show" to increase their budgets and prestige by attacking the Branch Davidian religious group outside of Waco, Texas. Six months earlier, agents had spurned David Koresh's attempts to cooperate with their investigation of his gun business by inviting them to see his guns. On February 28, when he came to the front door and tried to cooperate, reckless agents shot him and mortally wounded his father-in-law. Other agents started shooting from helicopters, killing four Davidians. Agents probably assassinated another Davidian who approached Mount Carmel later that day. And so began a 51 day standoff.

Davidians and their on-site attorney made it clear to FBI negotiators that evidence of illegal gunfire in the highest roofs and walls of Mount Carmel would lead to prosecution of agents for murder. One of the Davidians' motivations for refusing to surrender was their demands for assurances this evidence would not be destroyed by BATF investigators after they left the premises. It was not until the end of March that outside attorneys told them that Texas Rangers, who they trusted, and not BATF, would be investigating.

FBI Hostage Rescue Team member hearing of these claims, and bent on revenge for the deaths of four BATF agents killed by Davidian defenders during the February 28th BATF attack, did their best to sabotage negotiations. They escalated harassment of Davidians every time individuals left Mount Carmel, turning off power, faking tank attacks, turning on bright lights and loud music. Finally, distrustful Davidians stopped coming out at all.

At the same time agents began a campaign of lies to Attorney General Janet Reno about the status of negotiations, the alleged beating of children, the safety of CS gas, the rules of engagement, and other issues, tricking her into approving their gas and tank assault. They set it up to make sure that the attack would lead to the destruction of the building, its incriminating evidence–and scores of inconvenient Davidian witnesses to BATF crimes.

On April 19, 1993, as the tank assault began, FBI agents falsely claimed that Davidians broke their phone, making negotiations impossible. Davidians believe a tank broke the line. They claimed Davidians shot at them, giving them an excuse to speed up their plan to massively gas Davidian and rip apart Mount Carmel with tanks. Davidians pleaded with gestures and signs to have their phones fixed--they were terrified of being shot or run over by tanks if they started exiting. For even as tanks rammed the building, the FBI lied, calling out over loudspeakers, "This is not an assault."

After six hours of tank attacks, a fire started, probably by the last tank attack knocking over a lantern–but possibly by an FBI incendiary device at the front of the building. Infrared (FLIR) video evidence strongly suggests an agent in an FBI tank lobbed an incendiary device into the back of the building after the first fire, starting a second fire. Wind whipped fire swept through the tinderbox of a building. Most Davidians were trapped by debris and collapsed stairwells on the second floor or inside the concrete room. There is evidence on FLIR video that FBI or Delta force personnel shot at least 70 shots at the back of building during the fire, probably to stop Davidians trying to escape. There even is evidence, dramatized convincingly in the new film “Waco: A New Revelation” that FBI or Delta Force personnel sneaked into the building and placed a shaped charge on top of the concrete room to kill Davidian leaders who they believed were hiding there. Nineteen men, thirty-four women and twenty-three children died that day.

The trial of eleven survivors was a travesty of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. Nine Davidians received a total of 243 years in sentences. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear their appeals on the 30 year sentences the judge meted out to them for

carrying a gun during the commission of a crime–even though the jury found them innocent of that crime, murder of federal agents. He also failed to tell the jury they could find the Davidians innocent of aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter by reason of defense, something some jurors declare they would have done! On June 4, 2000 the seven Davidians still imprisoned, aided by noted Second Amendment attorney Stephen Halbrook, won their Supreme Court appeal and their sentences were cut to a total of 105 years. Six of the seven were released from prison in 2006, one in 2007.

In 1995, after two weeks of hearings, Congress announced it had gotten out all the truth –and promised it had gotten federal agents under control. My book reviews many reasons that was not true. For details about continuing revelations until the end of the year 2000 see Waco News.

In 1999, pushed by evidence from Davidian civil suit investigators and attorneys, as well as film-makers, "Waco" made the headlines again. “Ex-agent says device fired at Waco compound,” “[Texas Rangers] official says Army force present at Waco siege,” “Reno Says FBI Misled Her About Waco Arms,” “Reno and Freeh Agree on New Independent Probe of Waco” and “Independent Counsel and Congress Investigate Waco” blared across newspapers front pages and web pages of America. Of course these weren’t “revelations” to most Waco researchers, government critics and Davidian attorneys–or to people who had seen the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy winning film “Waco: the Rules of Engagement.” Congress promised yet another round of Waco hearings but in the end only a few Senators took the matter seriously.

Then President Bill Clinton appointed former Senator John Danforth to investigate. Danforth believed the FBI, conducted questionable forensic tests, and his year 2000 report again exonerated FBI agents. The only prosecution Danforth brought was against the federal prosecutor who allowed a Waco investigator too free an access to evidence, prompting the 1999 revelation that FBI agents had used pyrotechnic devices on April 19th, despite their previous denials. (The prosecutor earlier had engaged in coverups of evidence of BATF agents' crimes against Davidians, so we shouldn't feel too badly for him.) He claimed to be a whistleblower -- thereby making sure the government knew he could expose a lot more cover ups -- and received only probation after plea bargaining.

Why has there been such a cover up of the truth about Waco? Simply put, the truth is too terrible for the American people to hear: federal agents twice attacked and murdered a total of 82 civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly–half of them people of color. And the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our “Constitutional Republic” let them get away with it. All branches have a vested interest for finding federal agents innocent of all crimes–protection of their own perks and privileges.

The truth would undermine Americans’ faith in their political system. Waco film-maker Michael McNulty has revealed some in Congress fear “The truth would just inflame the crazies.” Americans must demand prosecution of all responsible agents and financial reparations to the Davidian prisoners who spent more than a dozen years in prison, victims of government crimes against them.


Edited by The Dude

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