Common Characteristics of How Cults Operate: Thoughtful list that pinpoints techniques that cults, and controlling churches, use to capture and keep followers. Here are a few: Intimidation and accusation .... 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.