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Old 03-20-2011, 12:25 PM   #1
NeitherFirstnorLast
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Default Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

I pray I'm not just ranting. I'm really feeling the need to vindicate myself, which is a very selfish ambition, I know... I just really need to explore this a little. Ignore me if you will, or add to it if you will...

Let me be honest, brothers and sisters. I've disliked the word 'cult' from the get-go. It smacks of "Satanism", or weird UFO buffs, or even Jim Jones and his poisoned koolaid. But after being rebuffed today, I was really interested (as you may note I always am), in really getting behind the meaning of the word "cult", in order to determine to whom it might apply. Here's what I found so far....

1) (excerpt from Wikipedia, ref. American sociologist Howard P. Becker), who defines "cults as deviant religious groups "derive their inspiration from outside of the predominant religious culture".[7] This deviation is often thought to lead to a high degree of tension between the group and the more mainstream culture surrounding it, a characteristic shared with religious sects.[8] Sociologists still maintain that unlike sects, which are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, "cults" arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.[9]

Surely the teachings of LSM derive their inspiration from outside the predominant culture of Christianity. Surely this deviation has led to a high degree of tension between LSM and the more mainstream Christian culture... surely we have spontaneously embraced novel beliefs and practices not found elsewhere in Christianity.

the anti-cult movement tends to define a "cult" as a group that tends to manipulate, exploit, and control its members. Specific factors in cult behavior are said to include manipulative and authoritarian mind control over members, communal and totalistic organization, aggressive proselytizing, systematic programs of indoctrination, and perpetuation in middle-class communities.[51]

Systematic programs of indoctrination? Communal and totalistic organization? Hmmmm.

Under the section on "Mind Control", I found...

Studies performed by those who believe that some religious groups do practice mind control have identified a number of key steps in coercive persuasion:[31][32]
  1. People are put in physical or emotionally distressing situations; -OK: I can't testify that I have been put in such a situation in order to choose, although I am emotionally distressed at the moment, such distress was not used to bring me into the LC. However, please read on as the other points are quite pertinent...
  2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized; Get in the flow!
  3. They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader or group; Well, certainly did until you try to leave it.
  4. They get a new identity based on the group; 'Overcomer'!
  5. They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled.[33] Don't go online - you'll get poisoned by the opposers!
Regarding "Leaving" cults, this is posted:
There are several ways people leave a cult:[43][44] Popular authors Conway and Siegelman conducted a survey and published it in the book Snapping regarding after-cult effects and deprogramming and concluded that people deprogrammed had fewer problems than people not deprogrammed. The BBC writes that, "in a survey done by Jill Mytton on 200 former cult members most of them reported problems adjusting to society and about a third would benefit from some counseling".[45]

Who among us can testify that adjusting back into mainstream Christian culture was not without problems? Seems many on this board still post here because of post traumatic LC disorders.

...I've said enough. I don't even know that I have peace for this much...
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

Nor worries NeitherFirstnorLast - Ranting is allowed around these parts.

Good topic. We've covered it in some depth here a while back, but we can revisit this topic again.

Your points about the "C word" are well taken. It's a loaded to term to be sure, especially as it may apply to what are known as "Christian cults". I know, I know, the word cult still stings just as much when we slap the term "Christian" on the front. But when it comes to highly aberrant groups, such as the Local Church, the terms "sect" or "group" or "movement" don't seem to fit the bill in my view. When the term sect is used, it congers up more of the benign notion of "denomination", same with the term movement. There is no doubt the the Local Church is a sect or a movement, but do these terms really describe what we know about the Local Church's real situation? In the past people have said the LC is "a sect with some cultic tendencies" - a description that I have no problem with. Could one turn this around and say that the LC is "a Christian cult with some positives"? It there a big difference between the two? I don't know but I'm willing to hash it out with all of you out there.

The only ground rules I would suggest is the we respect each others opinions regarding this matter. I'm sure we can all agree that the use of the "C word" is not an element of the common faith. But yes, it can be a very sharp instrument to hurt. It may also open up some old wounds for us former members. For example, I was in the LC back in the Jim Jones/Peoples' Temple days. My family was very worried, very concerned for me. Now we all know that Witness Lee was no Jim Jones. There was no talk of moving to South America to a commune or any such thing. But just because the term cult was applied to the Peoples' Temple (very much deserved) does this mean that they term cult should ONLY be applied to such extreme groups with such extreme leaders? I would say not. Yes, compared to the Peoples' Temple the Local Church was/is quite benign, and compared to Jim Jones Witness Lee was a good Christian leader, but if we only use the two extremes to define what is and what is not a cult, then I think we have narrowed the definition too much.

Just my two cents worth for now.
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

I'm all over this topic. In terms of pure definitions, sometimes it is a matter of who gets to define. If the definition is the extremes, then clearly the LRC is not on the list. If it is simply about aberrant behavior, abuse by leadership, etc., then they surely are.

And I have been one who likes the softer definition and the "they are one" position. And if someone really wants to have that discussion, I will become engaged.

But the real issue is that to the extent that we desire to have an impact on both the current membership and the potential convert, then the word becomes useless; even counterproductive. If I only want to keep outsiders out, then saying "cult" will tend to drive almost every one away. But if I want to persuade the participants, saying "cult' just closes their ears to the discussion. They become like a child sticking their fingers in their ears and saying nonsense really loud so they won't hear you. You may be right, but it doesn't matter.

And for some people, the word automatically shifts to Jim Jones, David Koresh, and the other extremists no matter how carefully you define it.

So my overall position is that it should be avoided within the context of a forum designed to encourage the group's members to dialog and eventually become persuaded to leave.
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

Mike, as for the "softer" definition, I have practically never known a congregation which has not been called a "cult" at one time or another, at least by some disgruntled person. It's just a word that "Christian" people tend to throw around at others they disapprove of. WL was tagged as such just for pushing the "oneness" side (aka modalism) of the Trinity.

Most folks, however, at least in these parts, adhere to the "harder" definition. If someone's child went off to college and ended up in some "cult," the parents would be worried sick. They would fear the worst, such as having lost their child for good.

Personally, the label only hardened my resolve, much as stereotypes and prejudices often do. I prefer to address the facts and their actions, and then let the reader make his/her own conclusions. I left the LC's because of the way they treated each other. It violated Christian honesty, integrity, and love. The hypocrisy became overwhelming.

The Pharisees of old were, for sure, a controlling cult. The Lord didn't use that tag, however, rather He confronted and exposed their hypocrisy. It was a very effective tool to enlighten His new followers.
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

Your both right, of course. It is not a discussion conducive to fellowship - but does close doors.

It's sad Mike, but I think most of the folks who remained after the turmoils did so precisely because they were told to stop up their ears to shut out whatever others might share something with them with which the regime in Anaheim disagreed. It was what they were trained to do; to fear any who dissent because they might otherwise become "contaminated".

It would seem to me that we are told that NOTHING can separate us from the love we have in Christ Jesus. Further, the Lord commands us to test every spirit, by which we understand that we are going to come into contact with a lot of false prophets and false doctrines... and if you stand fast in the Word, then you will know them... there is nothing to fear. No where do I find it Biblical to trust in the ministry of a man, or an organization, to test the spirits for you. That's fear mongering and that's what gets you wondering about the whole "c" word.
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Old 03-21-2011, 04:44 PM   #6
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

To me the issue with the LC is not that it was cultic. My issue is that it was hypocritical. The concept of taking up your cross and following Jesus was paramount, only to later learn that this did not include those taking the lead, especially WL and his sons. Second, as a result of the hypocrisy bogus teaching were introduced to justify their actions in excommunicating those that stood up against them. This is evil.
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

This is the kind of approach that I believe is better. Rather than talking about a label, talk about specific problems that have clear symptoms, facts, evidence. "Cult" is the whole enchilada, even if you are willing to use the term. "Hypocritical" or "controlling" are specific issues. Teachings like "apostle of the age" or "acting God" are specific. Showing that the "ground of the church" is fantasy and not supported by scripture is specific. Showing how Lee convinced us that we were special and he was the only one who could properly interpret scripture is something we can specifically debunk.

Continue to herald the lies used to slander righteous men and protect lechers and adulterers. And hide the financial shenanigans of Lee and sons.
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

I can still remember those jaw-dropping days back in 2005 when I first became aware of these things. Since the forum was an access portal to numerous eye-witness accounts of brothers I once knew and respected, all my "anti-cult" defenses were down. Until then, the words hypocrisy and LSM were never even mentioned together.
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Old 06-19-2011, 10:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

...Just found this definition on www.themoorings.org - and felt I ought to post it for consideration:

There are many important differences between a cult and body of Christians. A cult is authoritarian, whereas a Christian church is somewhat egalitarian, for the members view even the pastor as subject to group control and discipline. A cult sees its leaders as the fountainhead of truth, whereas Christians seek guidance from Scripture alone. With few exceptions, cult leaders are immoral and opportunistic, whereas the leaders of the true church are sincere and godly. Sooner or later, every cult repudiates one or more cardinal doctrines of orthodox Christianity.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:47 PM   #10
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Default Definitions of a Cult

The following is exceprted from a Jehovah's Witnesses support group webpage - with references to leading experts on mechanisms used by cult-leaders to establish control of their respective members. I wanted to offer it here, for obvious reasons: If you think that you're in a unique movement or situation, think again. Witness Lee copied heavily from the Jehovah's Witness playbook... and if you disagree, you're going to have to go through the article and prove your point.

Fear and Mind Control

"No one joins a cult. No one joins something they think is going to hurt them. You join a religious organization, you join a political organization, and you join with people you really like." - Jonestown survivor

"The passion for freedom of the mind is strong and everlasting, which is fortunate, because so is the passion to squelch it. "- AM Rosenthal, New York Times

Religion has the power to manipulate humans to believe unrealistic doctrine and engage in destructive behaviour.

This section condenses a vast volume of research into political and religious control techniques in an effort to explain such behaviour. These techniques are then compared with Watchtower (Local Church) practices. Finally the emotional affects on members are examined, particular for those that try to leave such an organization. This article is considered by the author to be the most important on this site.

A critically important concept for a Jehovah's Witness (Local Church Member) to realise is that that are not unique; neither in doctrinal beliefs, displays of love or techniques of control. The main indicators of mind control is any group that maintains;
  • leadership deserves strict, unquestioning obedience
  • they alone are unique in teaching truth
  • salvation is only possible through association with the group
  • dissenters must be strictly shunned (Quarantined)
Sites dedicated to cult awareness suggest that there are over 3,000 organizations in America alone that fit such descriptions and 10,000 globally. These range from groups with a handful of followers, to those with millions. The Watchtower Society perfectly aligns with this description and as such is classified as a "high control group" appearing on most cult awareness lists.
Lifton

Coercive persuasion is the academic term for mind control or brainwashing. The first major study showing how to identify organizations using mind control was done by Robert Lifton in the 1950's. He specifically researched Chinese communist techniques.

In the 1950's Robert J Lifton conducted a ground breaking study of techniques used to successfully brainwash captured American pilots to convert to the Communist ideology. This is presented in the 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China. This has been the basis for research into religions that use similar techniques to persuade members that they alone teach truth. Lifton identified eight points used that indicate a group is using coercive techniques or thought reform, techniques commonly used by cults.

Another leader in the field is Dr. Margaret Singer. Dr Singer summarises Lifton's eight points as follows.3 All eight points align closely with practices and teachings of the Watchtower Society (and Local Church?), and I have added examples of common Watchtower reasoning to show how closely these coincide:

1. Environment Control. Limitation of many/all forms of communication with those outside the group. Books, magazines, letters and visits with friends and family are taboo. "Come out and be separate!"
"False religious propaganda from any source should be avoided like poison! Really, since our Lord has used "the faithful and discreet slave" to convey to us "sayings of everlasting life," why should we ever want to look anywhere else?" Watchtower 1987 Nov 1 p.20

"We must also be on guard against extended association with worldly people. Perhaps it is a neighbor, a school friend, a workmate, or a business associate. We may reason, 'He respects the Witnesses, he leads a clean life, and we do talk about the truth occasionally.' Yet, the experience of others proves that in time we may even find ourselves preferring such worldly company to that of a spiritual brother or sister. What are some of the dangers of such a friendship?" Watchtower 1994 Feb 15 p.24

2. Mystical Manipulation. The potential convert to the group becomes convinced of the higher purpose and special calling of the group through a profound encounter / experience, for example, through an alleged miracle or prophetic word of those in the group.

Russell
"Then I knew why the Lord had led me to it so slowly and cautiously. I needed a special preparation of heart for the full appreciation of all it contained, and I was all the more assured that it was not of my own wisdom; for if of my own why would it not have come at once?" Zion's Watch Tower 1906 Jul 15 p.234

Rutherford
"Enlightenment proceeds from Jehovah... and is given to the faithful anointed.... the remnant are instructed by the angels of the Lord. The remnant do not hear audible sounds, because such is not necessary. Jehovah has provided his own good way to convey thoughts to the minds of his anointed ones." Preparation p.64

Current Governing Body
"However, we cannot hope to acquire a good relationship with Jehovah if we ignore those whom Jesus has appointed to care for his belongings. Without the assistance of “the faithful and discreet slave,” (Witness Lee?)we would neither understand the full import of what we read in God’s Word nor know how to apply it." Examining the Scriptures Daily 2012 Mar 4

"The point is that Christians have implicit trust in their heavenly Father; they do not question what he tells them through his written Word and organization." Watchtower 1974 July 15 p.441

"Today, Jehovah provides instruction by means of "the faithful steward." (Luke 12:42)" Pay Attention to Yourself and to All The Flock p.13

3. Demand for Purity. An explicit goal of the group is to bring about some kind of change, whether it be on a global, social, or personal level. "Perfection is possible if one stays with the group and is committed."
"The resulting peaceableness of Jehovah's people makes them a refreshing oasis in a violent world." Watchtower 2002 July 1 p.17

"DO YOU attend meetings at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses? There you see a people far different from any other! Who are these people, and why are they different? We are God’s own people, and we are different because we bear the grandest of all names - —that of the glorious Creator of all the marvels of the universe around us." Watchtower 1988 Jan 15 p.10

4. Cult of Confession. The unhealthy practice of self disclosure to members in the group. Often in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, even doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders.
"So, if doubts, complaints, or apostasy threaten to contaminate you spiritually, cut them away quickly! (Compare Matthew 5:29, 30.) Get help from the congregation elders." Watchtower 1989 Oct 1 p.18

"It is certainly not easy to confess to others deeds that one feels ashamed of and to seek forgiveness. It takes inner strength." Watchtower 2001 Jun 1 p.31

"If he does not do this within a reasonable period of time, concern for the cleanness of the congregation should move you to report the matter to the elders" Watchtower 1989 Oct 15 pp.14-15

"Employers have a right to expect that their Christian employees will 'exhibit good fidelity to the full,' including observing rules on confidentiality. There may be occasions when a faithful servant of God is motivated by his personal convictions, based on his knowledge of God's Word, to strain or even breach the requirements of confidentiality because of the superior demands of divine law. Courage and discretion would be needed. The objective would not be to spy on another's freedom but to help erring ones and to keep the Christian congregation clean." Watchtower 1987 Sep 1 p.15

5. Sacred Science. The group's perspective is absolutely true and completely adequate to explain EVERYTHING. The doctrine is not subject to amendments or question. ABSOLUTE conformity to the doctrine is required.

"First, since "oneness" is to be observed, a mature Christian must be in unity and full harmony with fellow believers as far as faith and knowledge are concerned. He does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding." Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14

"Jehovah uses his organization to teach and feed his people. (Matt. 24:45-47) Hence believe without suspicion the truth set forth by the “faithful and discreet slave.”" Watchtower 1962 Sep 1 p.524

This creates an environment of "black and white" thinking.
"If we stop actively supporting Jehovah’s work, then we start following Satan. There is no middle ground." Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.18

6. Loaded Language. A new vocabulary emerges within the context of the group. Group members "think" within the very abstract and narrow parameters of the group's doctrine. The terminology sufficiently stops members from thinking critically by reinforcing a "black and white" mentality. Loaded terms and clichés prejudice thinking.
'the truth', 'new system', 'worldly people', 'disfellowship' 'Jehovah's Organization', 'RV's', 'door to door', 'theocratic', 'remnant'.

7. Doctrine over Person. Pre-group experience and group experience are narrowly and decisively interpreted through the absolute doctrine, even when experience contradicts the doctrine.

"The world is filled with unhappiness, and people generally have a gloomy outlook on the future. However, we have a bright outlook, knowing that one day all sadness will be a thing of the past." Kingdom Ministry Feb 2002 p.1

8. Dispensing of Existence. Salvation is possible only in the group. Those who leave the group are doomed.
"Only Jehovah's Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the "great crowd," as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil." Watchtower 1989 Sep 1 p.19

"From time to time, there have arisen from among the ranks of Jehovah's people those, who, like the original Satan, have adopted an independent, faultfinding attitude...They say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such 'Bible reading,' they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom's clergy were teaching ..." Watchtower 1981 Aug 15 p.29

"To turn away from Jehovah and his organization, to spurn the direction of "the faithful and discreet slave," and to rely simply on personal Bible reading and interpretation is to become like a solitary tree in a parched land." Watchtower 1985 Jun 1 p.20

"I suffered much pain and heartache without Jehovah's guidance," says one young woman who for a time left God's organization. "I tried to fit in with the world, but because I was not truly like others, they rejected me. I felt like a lost child who needed a father to guide me. That is when I realized that I needed Jehovah. I never wanted to live independent of him again." Watchtower 1998 Oct 1 pp.10-11

"With apostates earth wide being destroyed, what reason can one have for confidence of life in paradise to follow?" Kingdom Ministry Sep 1973 p.6
Lifton identified a common theme amongst mind control groups. To summarise; the leaders claim a mystical source of guidance, claim to be the sole channel of truth and salvation, must not be questioned, demand members separate themselves from others, and punish leavers with shunning. This is the very core to Watchtower doctrine!
Hassan

Steven Hassan1 became involved with the Moonies and upon being 'deprogrammed' went on to become a world's renowned cult specialist. The rising number of manipulative groups makes his books Combating Cult Mind Control (Park Street Press 1990) and Releasing the Bonds (Freedom of Mind Press 2000) important reading.
Hassan presents the BITE method as a simple way to test if a group is engaged in persuasive coercion4;
  • Behaviour Control
  • Information Control
  • Thought Control
  • Emotional Control
In chapter 2 of Releasing the Bonds Hassan lists examples of control techniques. Following are those that relate to the Watchtower Society:
Behaviour Control Thought Control Regulation of individual's physical reality, for example, what clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
Individualism discouraged; "group think" prevails
Rigid rules and regulations
Need for obedience and dependency
Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
Black and White thinking - Good vs. Evil, us vs. them, inside vs. outside
Use of "loaded" language (for example, "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding, and can even stop thoughts altogether. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words."
Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.
No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate
No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
Information Control Emotional Control Use of deception
  • Deliberately holding back information
  • Distorting information to make it more "acceptable"
  • Outright lying
Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
  • Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
  • Critical information
  • Former members
  • Keep members so busy they don't have time to think and check things out.
Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
  • Information is not freely accessible
  • Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
  • Leadership decides who "needs to know" what and when
Spying and reporting on other members
Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
  • Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, and other media
  • Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources
Confession
Make the person feel that if there are ever any problems, it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.
  • Excessive use of guilt
  • Excessive use of fear
    • Fear of thinking independently
    • Fear of the "outside" world
    • Fear of enemies
    • Fear of losing one's "salvation"
    • Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
    • Fear of disapproval
Phobia indoctrination: inculcating 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.
  • No happiness or fulfilment outside of the group
  • Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
  • Shunning of leave takers; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
  • Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are "weak," "undisciplined," "unspiritual," "worldly," "brainwashed by family or counselor," or "seduced by money, sex, rock and roll."
Hassan clarifies that although a cult will display all four aspects, not every cult displays all aspects of each criteria to the same degree. Some may require their members to live in communes, but this is rarely the case.
"It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mind controlled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently."
It is also important to gauge the four aspects against the regulation of core members, not fringe dwellers.
"...fringe members will usually experience much less control than someone at the core. I look at the core membership of organization, not its fringe members, in my evaluation."
This would include active publishers, pioneers, elders and bethelites.

In Chapter 4, Hassan goes on to explain the type of people susceptible to joining cults.
"Most people would like to believe that they are in complete control of their mind at all times. But it is precisely this belief in our own invulnerability that allows cults to entrap unsuspecting recruits. There are three primary reasons why intelligent, educated people with stable backgrounds can be drawn into cults. First, there is a pervasive lack of awareness about cults and mind control.

Second, many situations make people more vulnerable to recruitment. For example, person whose parents have recently separated or divorced will be more likely to listen to a recruiter who describes his group as "one big happy family". Someone whose romantic relationship or marriage has just ended will be more susceptible to come-ons by an attractive person. Other common variables include: death of a loved one, illness, loss of a job, graduation (from high school or college), and moving to a new location (city, state, country). Situational vulnerabilities occur in everyone's life. It is easy to see how people tend to be more vulnerable to an attractive recruiter offering community, love and meaning during such episodes. "

Finally, some individuals have psychological profiles that make recruitment easier for cults. In general, people who have difficulty thinking critically will be easier targets. People-pleasers, who seek the approval of their peer group out of insecurity, and anyone with low self esteem, will be more vulnerable to the peer pressure exerted by cult recruiters. Individuals with learning disorders, drug or alcohol problems, unresolved sexual issues , pre-existing phobias, and other unresolved traumatic issues will also be easier targets. Cults seek out such vulnerabilities and use them against recruit, often making grandiose claims that their group will solve all of the person's problems." - pp.86, 87
Churches That Abuse

Ronald Enroth in Churches That Abuse 5 identifies five categories to identify abusive religion:
"1. Authority and Power - abusive churches misuse and distort the concept of spiritual authority. Abuse arises when leaders of a church or group arrogate to themselves power and authority that lacks the dynamics of open accountability and the capacity to question or challenge decisions made by leaders. The shift entails moving from general respect for an office bearer to one where members loyally submit without any right to dissent.

2. Manipulation and Control - abusive churches are characterized by social dynamics where fear, guilt, and threats are routinely used to produce unquestioning obedience, group conformity, and stringent tests of loyalty to the leaders are demonstrated before the group. Biblical concepts of the leader-disciple relationship tend to develop into a hierarchy where the leader's decisions control and usurp the disciple's right or capacity to make choices on spiritual matters or even in daily routines of what form of employment, form of diet and clothing are permitted.

3. Elitism and Persecution - abusive churches depict themselves as unique in God's plans and have a strong organizational tendency to be separate from other church bodies and institutions. The social dynamism of the group involves being independent or separate, with diminishing possibilities for internal correction and reflection. Outside criticism and evaluation is dismissed as the disruptive efforts of evil people seeking to hinder or thwart God's plans.

4. Life-style and Experience - abusive churches foster rigidity in behaviour and in belief that requires unswerving conformity to the group's ideals and social mores.

5. Dissent and Discipline - abusive churches tend to suppress any kind of internal challenges and dissent concerning decisions made by leaders. Acts of discipline may involve emotional and physical humiliation, physical violence or deprivation, acute and intense acts of punishment for dissent and disobedience."


****************

Does anyone care to argue how well these very same points apply to the Local Church of Witness Lee?

Anyone?
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:42 AM   #11
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

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Originally Posted by NeitherFirstnorLast View Post
A cult sees its leaders as the fountainhead of truth, whereas Christians seek guidance from Scripture alone.[/SIZE][/FONT]
Whose Christianity are you talking about when Christians see its Leader as the fountainhead of Truth and they (Christians) seek guidance from their Leader alone.

The Leader of the Christians is the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:23 AM   #12
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

I was in the Assemblies of God for 30 years, I have been around Southern Baptists quite a bit, an uncle who was a United Methodist minister, even United Pentecostals and others. Every group thinks they are right but none of these or many others have a dictator or pope as the LC. The Assemblies of God elected their superintendent. Any one who argues that WL was anything less than a dictator is either a BP or a beginner. He could have an appearance of humility some times but the act usually was evident. Being older that the norm, I heard some elders moan at times at the way they were beat down and berated at some elders meetings. The signing of the pledge by many elders in 85 or 86 shows just how demanding the man was. You play marbles by my rules or we don't play. How that was not evident to more is beyond my comprehension.
But I was there 40 years so obviously my seeing was not good.

Oh Lord! What a mess. What intrigue

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Old 04-15-2014, 10:57 AM   #13
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Lisbon ... 40 yrs!!! ... I bow to your sticktoitiveness. I'm flabbergasted at just the thought of it. Blow my mind.
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:40 AM   #14
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Default Re: Really CRI? Let's define a "Cult"

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1) (excerpt from Wikipedia, ref. American sociologist Howard P. Becker), who defines "cults as deviant religious groups "derive their inspiration from outside of the predominant religious culture".[7] This deviation is often thought to lead to a high degree of tension between the group and the more mainstream culture surrounding it, a characteristic shared with religious sects.[8] Sociologists still maintain that unlike sects, which are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, "cults" arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.[9]

...I've said enough. I don't even know that I have peace for this much...
NeitherFirstnorLast, I also had a shock when I realized the LRC was a cult. I had read some negative articles and posts about the LC, in English and my native language, but I didn't really bother. I thought the LRC was just another Christian church, a bit extreme but a church. I never enjoyed their practices and meetings (except praising the Lord with hymns), but I took part in them because of my wife. Saints were always nice and the words they were saying seemed to be good. Thank God, the forum and brothers' testimonies helped me to realize the truth.

Brother Lisbon, they say "Focus on the journey, not the destination". But in our case, it's not about the journey. It's about reaching the destination. May the Lord be with you.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:07 AM   #15
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Neither Firstnor Last #5

I think some can hardly believe that in Dallas only one small word was ever spoken about Day Star. The lid was screwed on tightly. Nothing whatsoever was ever mentioned about tennis rackets being a lost cause. Not one word was spoken about the debackle in Anaheim.

I was in a Lords Table meeting in Irving with John I just after the debackle and asked John in the open meeting how things were going in Anaheim. There was a long silence and the meeting went on. It was months later that I heard that all hell had broken out in Anaheim, John was gone, and the lid in Dallas area was kept very tightly closed. This secrecy is one of the worst aspects of the LC operation. Of course this is a big part of the 'control'.

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Old 04-16-2014, 09:51 AM   #16
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Neither Firstnor Last #5

I think some can hardly believe that in Dallas only one small word was ever spoken about Day Star. The lid was screwed on tightly. Nothing whatsoever was ever mentioned about tennis rackets being a lost cause. Not one word was spoken about the debackle in Anaheim.

I was in a Lords Table meeting in Irving with John I just after the debackle and asked John in the open meeting how things were going in Anaheim. There was a long silence and the meeting went on. It was months later that I heard that all hell had broken out in Anaheim, John was gone, and the lid in Dallas area was kept very tightly closed. This secrecy is one of the worst aspects of the LC operation. Of course this is a big part of the 'control'.

Lisbon
Yes, keep their eyes off what's really going on by sousing their brains with high peak teachings. Genius ... in a megalomaniac way. Using cultic methods of control by hiding reality.
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