In April of 1993 America witnessed a battle between Law Enforcement and the Davidian Branch Compound while indoctrinated women and children shook with fear over the battle that was raging over two distinctively different goals. David Koresh’s goal was to resist Law Enforcement under his belief that he was the Messiah and was willing to die for his ‘faith’. He also trained his captives to die for their ‘faith’ as well. Koresh indoctrinated his followers with his beliefs and ordered them to fire against the officers.
Do not be afraid to question the leader's teachings!
Many times when someone is new to a religious organization they are innocently ignorant of the philosophies being taught. It is important to search the scriptures and know for yourself what the Lord has taught. Even the noble men of Paul’s time were diligent in knowing what the Bible really said in
Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Cults are not only religious in nature, they also are found in a variety of other avenues. You can find cults within music, businesses, organizations, etc. The word cult comes from the word culture, an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning. It is a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group, yet in today’s society we see cults as dangerous breeding grounds intended for harm. Many times people who are involved in a cult are naïve to what is at the root of their group. Sometimes a cult can be a single family with no church affiliation.
Some cults result in physical harm or death of themselves by suicide or by attacking others. Most cults result in isolation from family members and friends, and we must be cautious of modern cults that contain the Christian label.
Some of the most popular, well known, and widely accepted cults are within churches that use mind control to bring their followers into mental and emotional bondage. It becomes so powerful that the followers lose the ability to think for themselves. This kind of mind control involves a severe social influence conditioning program which may include:
■an exclusive system of authoritarian control,
■a program of punishment and rewards,
Depending on the number and intensity of undue influential tactics, and a person’s own naivety, one may experience:
■a false personality change and
■marked mental or emotional weakness,
Cult-like leaders will keep a person:
■so busy that they don’t have time for life outside of the cult.
■Many times the leader or cult group will drive a wedge between the family unit by coercing them into separate activities and
■drain them of energy so they are too tired to think about what is happening to them.
Here is a list of things to keep in mind in regards to religious cults:
■Breaking down a person’s mind by mental abuse.
■Putting a simple minded person in leadership positions. These people will blindly obey and follow their leader over what anyone else says and will demand loyalty even when the leader is wrong.
■Control the person’s time and environment.
■No outside recreation without the group.
■They create a powerlessness in people.
■As the group attacks the person’s worldview, it causes the person distress and inner confusion; yet they are not allowed to speak about this confusion or object to it – leadership suppresses questions and counters resistance.
■Mind control increases as the people in the group are kept busier than usual in order to keep them under their control and too tired to think clearly.
■Old healthy life patterns are not accepted and must suppress them.
■Members get positive feedback for conforming to the group’s beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.
■Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group’s beliefs, and compliance are rewarded while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection. If one expresses a question, he or she is made to feel that there is something inherently disordered about them to be questioning.
■The only feedback members get is from the group; they become totally dependent upon the rewards given by those who control the environment. Striving to perform in order to get these rewards or positive feedback shows the dependency the person has been created to expect. When the rewards cease to be given, the person becomes hurt, confused, or disgruntled.
■Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that allows no feedback and refuses to be corrected except by leadership approval or executive order.
■Members are not allowed to question their leaders.The follower is treated as if they are in defiance and the leadership is not to be questioned and trusted to make the right decision. If their judgment is questioned the follower is either ignored, rebuked, or quieted through various forms of manipulation or blackmail. Sometimes their attention is redirected into another direction such as a new special form of leadership created for them in order to keep them busy.
■Flattery is used to puff up the follower in order to make them feel accepted and valued. Most times the new, simple minded, or those who are catching on to what is happening are the most likely to become flattered. Psalm 12:3, “The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:” and 1 Thessalonians 2:5, “For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:”
■Spying on other members and asking for reports on their lives.
■Manipulation of a followers emotions. Downplaying their feelings as unimportant or in error.
■Faults are never the leaders fault.
■Leadership is backed even when in the wrong and often times covered up. When a follower catches on and tries to question or expose the wrong doing the leader will often rebuke the follower of being critical or defying leadership.
■Emphasizing irrational fears about ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader’s authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group. Such as telling testimonies of people who left and suffered from death or illness and that is told to be their punishment or consequences.
■Defying unwritten rules are considered rebellious and often rebuke is given to the follower.
■Instant friendships. True friendships develop over time. Flattery such as “my dear friend” and they really don’t know each other very well at all.
■A cult leader will try to persuade you to reduce or eliminate altogether outside friendships and even family.
■Any information that could lead followers to the clear understanding that their teaching is wrong is destroyed or followers are told that to read it is considered critical and punishable by authority through public character assassination.
■Keeping the members so busy that they don’t have time to do anything other than support their groups cause. This kind of busyness causes families to be divided and not able to have adequate time together at home.
■Followers are sometimes reprimanded for not participating in every meeting or activity or told their loyalty is being questioned.
■Leaders often times discourage parents from believing what their children report to them.
■Followers are told to always side with leadership even if they are wrong.
Some things to keep in mind are:
1.It’s important for a follower to be able to have the freedom to research about the group without the group leading their research.
2.If the follower has been told to refrain from researching about them, then you may want to go ahead and do so.
3.An honest group will not be opposed to a follower reading critical information about them.
4.If the group has nothing to hide then they will not mind you seeking outside information.
5.There is no perfect group, yet anything negative a former member may say should be willingly discussed by your leader. If the situation is covered up or ignored then be cautious in dealing with this group.
6.A real honest leader will openly discuss any concerns you have about the group with humility. They will have nothing to fear by you asking.
So how can you protect yourself from becoming involved in a cult?
■Know the Bible.
■Question and compare the teaching to the Scriptures.
■Cults who claim to believe in the Bible, but use alternative sources for doctrinal teaching are dangerous. Be sure all the teaching and practices are in agreement with the Scriptures.
■If you believe you are in a cult and are just realizing it, there is help for you.
2 Peter 2:1-3, “ 1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
Galatians 1:6-9, “ 6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
The Lord Jesus Christ would not want you to participate in a cult. His expressed desire as put forth in scripture is to freely choose Him as your Saviour. What kind of relationship would he have with you if you felt forced or coerced to love him?
The Lord Jesus wants us to live in freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. “ Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
He is interested in your willing desire to help others come to know him.
2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
God doesn’t want you to give begrudgingly through coercion.
2 Corinthians 9:7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
The Lord Jesus wants you to be free from the cult.
2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
Your best defense in escaping a cult is to find help. Breaking free from mind control is not an easy task all on your own. Some people have broken free from that bondage by weaning themselves away from the group a little at a time, while some seek outside help, break free immediately, and move away. Whatever the case may be with you, firm support is needed as is a strong relationship with the Lord and a working knowledge of the scriptures. If you feel your knowledge of the scriptures is not strong, find someone who is that is able to help you