This is an article fully based on a youtube video. The speaker clearly explains how a Cult functions. Each and every point he mentions somehow match with our favourite Cult. Let us first listen to the video. The transcript that is shown in the video is part of the rest of the article.
For cults, the key word is CONTROL by submitting to the leadership. Leaders tend to be the absolute end, looked to as prophets of God, as specially anointed apostles. Alternatively, they can be strong, controlling , manipulating personalities who demands submission even if he changes his views, or conflict occurs in doctrine or behaviour. Sometimes they can be looked on as God himself, often to obey a leader and his 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 follower’s lives. Dress codes, activities, finances, time, possessions and relationships. Various degrees of control can be experienced from subtle manipulation to blatant ordering. They expect rigid obedience to member’s time an activities – involving their followers in physically and emotionally draining activities leaving little time for privacy and reflection or questioning their authority.
The methods of control which are used: usually FEAR of displeasing God, the leader or both. FEAR of rejection, punishment, losing one’s salvation, missing the rapture, going to hell. GUILT, FEAR, INTIMIDATION are weapons used to maintain their loyalty and devotion to the group.
Intimidation and accusation are often used. For e.g. Any questioning of the authority is treated as rebellion, and not trusting. They suppress question and confirm to the group’s behaviour. They discourage critical or rational thoughts and questions and it is called prideful, sinful or rebellious.
Control over relational and intimate issues
Telling one, who to date and who to marry. Decisions are made by the leader as to who and when you are ready. Extremes can extend from “No seeing the Opposite sex” to “Sexual Promiscuity”
Sexual impurity, especially among leaders is common. Doctrinal deception is more than often displayed by moral deception. (Polygamy, spiritual wives, adultery, fornication and sexual sin is acceptable for the leaders). The leader believes that he is above everyone or is an exception to God’s laws so he may not follow his own rules.
Confession sessions are used to build relationships. Full disclosure of all secret sins, thoughts, temptations, desires are expressed with those you know and may not know to build up your trusting them with your life. These can build up a powerful tool to emotionally bond you to the leader of the group. They later can be used to manipulate or blackmail someone if and when they decide to leave.
There is one standard for the followers and another for the leaders. The leaders can do almost anything wrong while others will be rebuked, humiliated and made public examples of if they do the same things. Cult leaders exalt themselves requiring the followers to serve them or their church’s programs.
Cults demand undivided loyalty to the leader, group and their specific doctrines. Loyalty to Christ is replaced by loyalty to an organization, church or leader.
Information control is practised 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 flow that may expose what is going on internally. They cut off or denigrating outside sourced of information (Like fromtpm.com) especially if it is critical of the group. One is not allowed to read or converse with those who say these things or was 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 cult members. If evidence is presented that they have false prophecies, or cult members are exploited to make money the focus is shifted to question the motives or character of the person and ignore the truth spoken. Branding of anyone in opposition to the cult is vilified as outsiders and enemies.
Antagonism – Outsiders are enemies
Anyone who challenges to cult’s doctrine is automatically branded as an enemy which is usually anyone who disagrees. The cultist feels that they are being persecuted unfairly. New members are told that Satan will cause friends and family to say bad things about their group and that they should only trust their new family. It becomes an US against THEM mentality. Outsiders are viewed with scepticism as to the enemy, evangelism is avoided. Since cultic leaders seek complete control of their members, outsiders are viewed with great scepticism. Potential members may be allowed in slowly and with great reservation.
Cultic churches are not committed to the great commission. Evangelism is avoided. Cultic churches are committed to power and control. Authentic churches are committed to the Gospel. Authentic Christian leaders have a passion to see souls come to Christ.
Focus on Imagined Enemy
The focus shifts from activities and lies inside the cult towards a common threat or enemy. The constant focus on the enemy keeps people bound together in order to “SURVIVE” the supposed onslaught. A common threat causes people to unite across personal boundaries and to compromise personal principles.
Rule of Silence
There are rules which govern churches which are not stated or written down. BEWARE if they say that the only statement we have is the BIBLE. Since the rules are not spoken verbally, you do not find out that the rule(s) exist until you have broken one. It is taken for granted that you should know them.
What happens inside the cult and the personal lives of the cult members are not shared with outsiders. These so-called secrets may make multiple rounds in the gossips within the cult.
Individuality Sacrificed for the interests of the group
The group’s concerns supersede and individual’s goals, needs, aspirations. Conformity is the key. The End justifies the Means – Any action or behaviour is justifiable as long as it furthers the group’s goals. To lie to those outside the group is OK as they are serving Satan.
Cultists may be willing to suffer persecution, martyrdom, or even die for what they believe to be true out of loyalty to the man or doctrines they follow. All opposition and resistance is re-interpreted as suffering for the faith and all failures due to the errors they hold are re-interpreted as trials and temptations from the devil.
Members are not allowed to grow intellectually
In Cultic churches and with Cultic leaders, intellect is dismissed. Members are discouraged from learning philosophy, history, science, systematic theology, or about anything with which the leaders are not familiar. Much of this anti-intellectualism comes by the leader being threatened with information that would show a potential weakness with the leader’s philosophy or theology. To show superiority, the Cultic leader maintains a domineering attitude to show his/her supposed intellectual or spiritual authority. Within authentic churches, all members are encouraged to grow spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.
Members are not allowed to ask questions of the Leadership
In Cultic churches, questions are condemned. Most likely Cultic leaders do not want to expose any weakness on their part. These questions are restricted and shown to be a sin. The leader may show that to question him is like questioning God because the Cultic leader has assumed a delusional god-like stature. However, in authentic churches, questions are a means for growth. The leader and leadership are transparent. People who have nothing to hide are transparent.
Exiting the church is difficult and may be met with threats
Since the Cultic church is about power and control, Cultic leaders do everything in their power to keep their members under their control. Therefore, if a person attempts to leave, the leader(s) will emotionally, spiritually, financially, or even physically threaten the member. In stark contrast, authentic churches realize that their ministry may not suite everyone’s taste. Thus, while authentic church keeps their members, threats are never employed.
Cultic Churches are Opaque
A strong sign on the spectrum of authenticity is Transparency. Authentic churches are transparent as they have nothing to hide. This includes every aspect of ministry including financial matters. Cultic churches are almost always opaque and secretive. Cultic Churches do not want the general public to know what they are doing. The more secretive a movement, the more cause for concern.
Cultic leaders want to make their members more like themselves
Authentic churches desire people to become more like Christ. When leaders become Cultic, they desire people to become more like themselves so that they can exert more power and control. Coercive and manipulative measures are used.