Friday, August 7, 2009

Are You a Victim of Mind Control?

From Spotlight Ministries, Are You the Victim of Mind Control? contains a useful checklist to see if your group is becoming a cult:

  • Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, the ‘good deeds’ you perform for your group or pastor are never quite enough? As a result of this do you often feel plagued with feelings of guilt?
  • What are you motivated by? Is it genuine love for God and the group etc., or is it fear of not meeting the desired standards.
  • 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 pastor 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 an ex-member (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. Members' abilities to think for themselves is 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 pastor give you ‘black and white answers’? What the pastor agrees with is right and what the pastor 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 God-given critical thinking abilities by ‘shelving’ various doubts about the pastor 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’.

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