Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Video: Growing Up in Cults: The Special Issues of Children in Cults and Second Generation Cult Members


Growing Up in Cults: 

The Special Issues of Children in Cults 
and 
Second Generation Cult Members

22 comments:

Black Ops Mikey said...

International Cultic Studies Association has a list of 1,000+ cults.

As you would expect the Worldwide Church of God is in the list as is the Church of God International.

The House of Yahweh was there (as seen on Dr. Phil), the cult no one in Armstrongism seems to want to talk about.

And... the winner is...

The Living Church of God.

That's it.

Disappointing.

UNLESS... there's more in the database available to the members.

At 1 hour 39 minutes, it's challenging to watch the whole video, but be apprised that there are more cults than just Armstrongism -- not that Armstrongism is to be ignored because it's there. In the same league as Scientology and on the edge of FLDS (if you count HoY).

As was mentioned, cults make it near impossible to connect normal people, since the social world of a cult is something like an extraterrestrial society.

Anonymous said...

The more you learn about the WWCG and the baby organizations it spawned, the more you see how insane it all really is.

Anonymous said...

From Cult to Courage
And I had thought CGI was my escape from some "other" cult? Go figure!...eventually, I did manage to figure it out.



Byker Bob said...

I believe that there was a certain amount of deliberately orchestrated weirdness as a key component of Armstrongism. It was needed to validate them. Just as there are stereotypes of the highly intelligent person exhibiting eccentricities, there is the "person of God" who appears as weird to "the world".

The problem being, that people who are neither do indulge in fakery in order to cultivate their public images. There were many other examples of fakery in Armstrongism. So, why not the weirdness?
Totally in character for a bogus religion.

BB

Michael said...

Growing up in WCG (as I did) is definitely a different experience.
It's classic brainwashing, but the parents who do it are of course not malicious.
They think they've found something wonderful, the true meaning of life, and let's face it, who wouldn't want to teach that to their children at as early an age as possible?

Main problem is the parents becoming deluded in the first place...

Byker Bob said...

Way back in the '60s, an AC student who had been raised in the church shared with me that his entrance exams for AC showed that he had some personality disorders and other abnormal characteristics. He was distraught. I didn't care about things of that nature back then, because it seemed that jusf about everyone was a little messed up in one way or another. It was still seveal years from when we would first learn about even such things as PTSD, from the experiences of the returning soldiers from Viet Nam.

The implications of these disorders really didn't dawn on me until I began reading Douglas Becker's materials on them several years ago. If recognized, some of these disorders can be worked around, treated, and minimized. The problem is, if people remain in the cult that produced the symptoms, the disorders will not only remain unrecognized and untreated, they can also become progressively worse. And remember, Armstrongism has historically forbidden consulting the learned outsiders whose skills could be of therapeutic value!

An individual whom the cult has purged of natural empathy, as an example, can learn to replicate the beneficial effects of empathy through logic and a certain degree of acting. Of course, the natural innate feelings that drive empathy in a healthy normal person might well never return. But, intellect can compensate in such a manner that socially acceptable behavioral norms are achieved. Mind over matter. "A Beautiful Mind".

Obviously, if you remain in the cult, you are not going to recover, or learn to compensate by using your local Church of God minister as a mentor or example. The disorders are some of the debillitations that enable the cultmeisters to continue to control you. Most people don't even realize they have them, and they certainly would never suspect that their ministers also both have and cause them. I'm sure that's why the leaders are always careful to use phrases such as "God's Ministers". That is supposed to place them above evaluation.

BB

Anonymous said...

BB
A problem that plagued me when I started attending services in the 1970s, was that I had built up the mental habit (from schooling) that ministers are better and have superior understanding to members. After a few years of attending church, I came to the conclusion that I should be counselling the ministers, not the other way around. But the old habit continued to hinder me.
Presumably this is one of the 'childish' things that Paul talks about leaving behind.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Byker Bob, there is one very important thing that hasn't been covered yet, and it's on the agenda to do so: Briefly, Armstrongism as a cult follows the alcoholism model. It is particularly bad for the children.

Let's take an hypothetical example. An alcoholic father abandons his children after work to go down to the local tavern, where he spends hours and hours with his alcoholic 'buddies' while the children at home assume that dad is still working hard at his job, but really isn't. In fact, he needs alcohol to fuel him to be able to do any kind of job since he's between the second and third stages of alcoholism. They grow up with an essentially absent father who at minimum neglects them and at worst abuses them with assault. Life for everyone in this dysfunctional family becomes arbitrary with the children trying to make sense of life abandoned to their own devices. Mother may also may or may not be an alcoholic, which compounds the problem. If she's not, she has to cope with an untenable situation.

This can and often does set up a new dynamic: Role reversal. Mom might start treating her son as the spouse and the husband as the child. This actually happened in Spokane with an alcoholic as the centerpiece of the Worldwide Church of God there.

Now, let's relocate this and expand it to the Herbert Armstrong Empire. Herbert, Loma, GTA and Richard David were all alcoholics. Amusing it was to find John Ovrier mention about Herbert Armstrong drinking a 12 pack during a church wide fast. Herbert Armstrong practiced role reversal with Dorothy, making her the spouse and relegating Loma to being the child. But guess what, as he built the cult of the Radio Church of God, he expanded this little family shop of horrors to an entire church congregation. He became the addiction for quite the number of followers, so that even if people weren't boozing alcoholics, they acted like it to 'spend time' with their 'drinking buddy', Herbert Armstrong to hang on his every word and neglect the rest of their families. Many also went into role reversals, making Herbert Armstrong the spouse and treating their mates as children. We see this dynamic very clearly with Ronald Weinland and the PKG.

The Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia is very much the sociological model of alcoholism, as I suspect it is the case with pretty much every cult, whether the members of those cults drink or not. It's the obsession that's the killer of sanity and rationality that leads to dysfunctional chaos.

The best way to counter this is, first, if you drink alcohol, stop -- just stop. Follow the Luker challenge which says that if you say you can do without it, prove it. Secondly, abandon your obsession with the cult leader(s) and, like "Take Back Your Life" tells us, learn all about your leader(s) and find all their faults and problems. It will help a lot in getting over him (or her) if you begin to see the person(s) as they really are. You can stop worshipping them and committing idolatry any time you will, if only you can work through your addiction to them. See them for the pathetic loser abusers they really are. It is, after all, the leadership that's the core of the problem.

Unfortunately, people excuse themselves by saying, "I don't follow a man". Rubbish. Such people are still following and obeying Herbert Armstrong even though he's been dead for decades.

It's time to give up the addiction.

Anonymous said...

"... I had built up the mental habit (from schooling) that ministers are better and have superior understanding to members...I came to the conclusion that I should be counselling the ministers, not the other way around. "


if more people realized that, they'd be so much better off...just because a minister says it, doesn't make it so... they are human and subject to error just like the rest of us.....the real problem comes whey THEY think they are so much more enlightened that they can't make a mistake.

I've come to the conclusion that very few ministers actually understand basic Sabbath keeping...and those that do don't advance within the organization, but that's ok, a high position in an organization is not what it takes to enter the Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Cults are nothing more than a crazy family that will not allow anybody to grow up and where the parents think that they will never die and will always be in charge. The children are taught to obey this one and only doctrine, and for those that refuse, they will no longer belong.

If you can grow out of this, welcome to your newfound sanity and the opportunity to start your own more sane family!

Anonymous said...

BlackOps said "It's time to give up the addiction."

Yes, and it's also time to grow up, spiritually too.

Black Ops Mikey said...

There can be no spiritual growth until the boozing alcoholic gives up the alcohol.

And there is a risk assuming that anyone coming off the addiction to the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia has any ability to grow up spiritually is a rather naïve one.

For one to grow up spiritually, it is first necessary for someone to have what could be called 'a spiritual life'. Unfortunately, the cult has reduced everything to an ethic that the end justifies the mean. Even having the conception of spirituality would necessitate learning the rudiments of morals and ethics, which has been a, shall we say, a spiritual desert to the abused membership. Perceptions haven't just been distorted, they've been mangled beyond recognition, replacing any reasonable priorities with focusing on only the priorities of the leader.

Before 'grow up spiritually', if there is such a thing (perhaps just maturity is needed), a reasonable workable knowledge of science and reality are required and, unfortunately, most Armstrongists have been deprived of the tools of the tools necessary to achieve that.

It takes quite a lot of time just to leave British Israelism behind, being that every news report evokes a reaction that reverses whatever progress made to date: Sort of like children who have learned astrology attempting to tackle astronomy and cosmology: The transition is difficult and jarring and it's so easy to get confused along the way and regress.

All of Armstrongism must be abandoned in totality to strip oneself of the cult and a person needs to start all over again from scratch.

This is particularly difficult for those who have grown up in the cult from the beginning and have lived with it for the whole of the beginning of their lives, just as the video shows.

Or... I'm sorry -- did anyone actually watch the video?

Sometimes it seems that people just express their opinions without going through the material first.

It's the Armstrongist way....

Byker Bob said...

The most extreme example of this phenomenon, 5:05, was senior citizens with a lifetime of experiences regarding 22 year old Ambassador graduates, just married and sent into the field in exactly the way you described. These graduates, barely out of childhood, should indeed have been learning from the members of the congregation.

It's been a while since I've mentioned this, but realizing in advance the implications of that exact situation was what made me determine, as an AC student, to never, ever become a minister, no matter what. I was able to see the potential to make mistakes that could actually ruin peoples' lives. Later, I realized that Armstrongism itself was a mistake.

BB

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes it seems that people just express their opinions without going through the material first."

It's the Armstrongist way.......and they apparently don't have a monopoly on that!
Having gone through the material and having lived it myself, I have come to learn that when people do get hurt, there is still more to do than just finding who to blame.

Byker Bob said...

What's true, Mikey, is that this alcoholism was an open secret within R/WCG. It was only through flagrant examples of the tail wagging the dog that members occasionally got an inkling of what was going on in the inner circles. Incidents involving Dale Hampton and Jon Hill come to mind. Rumors about others occasionally surfaced, but rumor mongers were considered to have bad attitudes, so most of the rumors were suppressed.

As a young SEP camper during the sub-session at Lake of the Pines, in Tejas, I remember the GTA family arriving for a few days vacation, and as Shirley was unpacking, GTA was aready headed out the door with his fishing gear, and suddenly called out, "Why don't you send Mark down with a nice cold beer!" I thought to myself, "So this is the way God's ministers are in their off hours! The abundant life!"

And, years later, as an AC student working out at the gym in the evenings, I was well aware that GTA and Jim Thornhill frequently held court with some of their favorite basketball players from the student body in the faculty locker room following some pick up games, the beer cooler being an ever present reality. Weight lifters were not part of the inner circle, but we could hear the goings on as we changed back into our street clothes. It's not as if we didn't drink our own beer, we just waited until we got back to the dorm.

Some Christian groups preach against alcohol. Others allow it, but teach moderation, and counsel those with dependencies to obtain help. However, Armstrongism actually promoted alcohol use, especially as a God-ordained part of the festivals. We know today that this was socially irresponsible. I knew people who became gravely ill, and died. Yet, HWA even shut down the internal AA program that Dale Hampton had initiated. I would imagine that even though MADD, and other groups have done so much to raise the public's consciousness on this issue, problematic aspects most likely still exist within the splinters to the extent that the doctrinal approach to this has remained intact.

I remember being at a Blues Festival at Long Beach State University back in the early '90s. Unfortunately, there were a lot of drunken blues fans grooving out to the music. They were annoying, especially given the festival lawn-seating situation. One Asian guy, on several occasions yelled at some of them, "Why do you have to get all F'd up to enjoy yourself???". Jesus would probably have chosen His language in a diferent manner, but I imagine the basic content of His question would have been much the same. And the question would have been appropriate to other festivals we all know about, as well.

BB

Black Ops Mikey said...

Byker Bob, the one blatant example you missed was Donald Weininger. He complained of what we later learned were the third and final stage of alcoholism. This was a contributing factor, if not the causative one that led to his going to the office of his wife's divorce lawyer in Spokane, shooting her dead and then committing suicide.

This wasn't the end of it because the entire Spokane Worldwide Church of God took years to recover (if they ever did). It was devastating to the membership in Spokane, but the irony of this was that at headquarters in Pasadena, the ministers there didn't learn about it for two full years after the fact. The administration covered it all up even to their own ministers.

This isn't over with. I've personally seen alcoholic boozing ministers and leading people in the Armstrongist churches through the 2000s. They think they are fine -- having a pleasant buzz is next to godliness. They have no conception that the way they treat other people in the church causes them harm. Their children are heavily impacted. The people are around them are abused by them, either that or the people are neglected, which is a form of abuse. The boozing alcoholics are undependable and far too many rely on them, which, at the very best, leads to 'disappointment'. They cannot be trusted.

Of course, they surround themselves with other boozers. They have their drinking buddies. This prevents people who are abused in the cult from leaving -- how can they leave their closest 'friends'.

What happens though, is that when the alcoholics stop drinking, they come to the place that they realize that the cult isn't for them any more. Rationality intrudes. They find they aren't compatible with their 'friends'. They start to be aware that the religious cult they are in has something really wrong with it.

There are a lot of things to do and there is a lot more than to finding who to blame -- but it starts there and before that is addressed, no real progress can be made. Finding the root causes of the dysfunction as an epiphany is quite the blessing and in finding it, the enlightenment opens a whole new world of positive possibilities.

And if not for you, you owe it to your children who were helpless in the face of the hubris of the cult and its effect on you. They need to be validated.

Anonymous said...

The Facebook friends of Jim and David Meredith know very well how often they see pictures of Meredith alcohol consumption.

Once Daddy takes his dirt nap, watch for some spectacular meltdowns among the former First Family of LCG.

Byker Bob said...

I didn't know Don Weininger personally. I had heard of him through one of my friends, a Deacon with whom I had worked at AC Press. This friend had grown up with Don in the Southeastern US, and he spoke highly of him, citing Don as being a minister who didn't put up with a lot of nonsense in his congregation. He portrayed him as a kind of breath of fresh air for the times, because this conversation was taking place during the mass chaos that was unfolding in the aftermath of 1972, when it seemed as if everyone had begun questioning everything because the end hadn't come on schedule. I had started out as a doctrinal hardliner like the rest of my family, but then learned too much about these doctrines and the corruption, requiring a serious reevaluation of my most cherished positions.

When I later heard of the homicide-suicide involving the Weiningers, I realized that Don had had no tolerance for anything of any consequence that went against his worldview. Very few people who go through a divorce, even if they are cult members, ever kill anybody over it. That Don did demonstrated that he had a problem with life itself, and dealt with challenging events very poorly. His mind obviously saw these situations as being the end of life as he had known it. His coping skills had consisted of alcohol, and that apparently at some point it had stopped working for him.

BB

Black Ops Mikey said...

His coping skills had consisted of alcohol, and that apparently at some point it had stopped working for him.

Immediately, the first time he took his first drink.

Anonymous said...


"There are a lot of things to do and there is a lot more than to finding who to blame -- but it starts there and before that is addressed, no real progress can be made."

This is not inherently true. What I'm saying is that it is more productive to spend most of your energy invested in what went wrong, and how you can go about fixing it. Rather than getting in over your head by playing into their field of expertise which is hierarchies of authority and control.



Black Ops Mikey said...

Finding who to blame is an important part of discovering what went wrong and to be clear, it is basic to how to fix the problems, since, once you understand the person creating the problem, you understand how the problems came to be.

It has the added benefit of being able to identify and avoid such people in the future to insure that you can remain free of abuse and manipulation.

Otherwise, you will remain blissfully ignorant, prone to bumble into the very same situations over and over and over again -- conveniently explaining such phenomenons as Ronald Weinland, Gerald Flurry, Roderick Meredith and David Pack -- people lost Herbert Armstrong as their idol and went out to find the same kind of inappropriate incompetent abusive leader all over again.

Learn what is wrong with the leader(s). It will save you grief in the long run.

Stop repeating the same mistakes by avoiding the people that create the situations that create the problems: Avoid the narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, borderline, liars and deceivers selfishly seeking power, profit and narcissistic source.

Anonymous said...

That's all good advice BlackOps, and I agree. I just wanted to put some icing on the cake.

"Stop repeating the same mistakes by avoiding the people that create the situations that create the problems"

Seems like those people could use a new emprint. Do you remember the story of the imprinted geese and cranes flying with an ultralight aircraft?

DBP