Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Lifton Criteria Vs Armstrongism

Below is a quote from one of Herbert Armstrong's letters where he screams at members who were getting sick of HWA's incessant begging for money by accusing them of being like his his wife's blocked bowel.

HWA Co-Worker Letter April 1967:

Many professing to be Church MEMBERS say, when a Co-Worker letter arrives, in a grumbling, complaining disgust: "Oh, that's another of Mr. Armstrong's REQUESTS for MONEY," and many don't even read the letter!

Are YOU one of those? If so, LET ME BURN YOUR EARS before the Almighty GOD burns YOU in the Lake of FIRE! If that has been YOUR attitude -- if YOU are only on the GETTING side, and SHUN helping, and giving to the cause of GOD, then I say to you ON AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST, if you don't REPENT and QUICKLY, and change that hostile, despicable, detestable attitude, you DO NOT BELONG in GOD'S CHURCH! You are some of the ROTTEN, PUTRID, spiritual WASTE that has been PLUGGED UP INSIDE OF THE SPIRITUAL BODY OF CHRIST'S WIFE, just as physical waste is plugged up in my dear wife's body! And the living Jesus is just as able to EXPEL YOU from the spiritual Body of HIS WIFE as He is to expel this physical waste from my wife's body!

And if THAT doesn't make your ears tingle, and AWAKEN you, then Jesus Christ says to YOU through me, YOU are in danger of the Lake of FIRE!...

Below is the Lifton Criteria, a list of ways that cults control devotee's.  This is exactly what the Worldwide Church of God did. This is also what Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack and Bitter Bob Thiel are doing.

We are always aghast as to why so many members stand by Flurry, Pack and Thiel's sides when they KNOW for a fact that they are being abused.  Here is why they do it.

Dr. Robert J. Lifton's Eight Criteria for Thought Reform

  1. Milieu Control.  This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.
  2. Mystical Manipulation.  There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes. 
  3. Demand for Purity.  The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection.  The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here. 
  4. Confession.  Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group.  There is no confidentiality; members' "sins," "attitudes," and "faults" are discussed and exploited by the leaders. 
  5. Sacred Science.  The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute.  Truth is not to be found outside the group.  The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism. 
  6. Loading the Language.  The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand.  This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichĂ©s, which serve to alter members' thought processes to conform to the group's way of thinking. 
  7. Doctrine over person.  Member's personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group. 
  8. Dispensing of existence.  The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not.  This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group's ideology.  If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the  members.  Thus, the outside world loses all credibility.  In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also.  (Lifton, 1989)

Another version is here with more points:

  1. Control of human communication.
  2. Totalist environment seeks to control external information (that which a person sees, hears, reads, writes, experiences, expresses) and the inner life of a person's thoughts (communication with himself).
  3. This milieu control can't become absolute, there will always be "leaks".
  4. The leaders are considered the source and dispensers of truth and knowledge so they try to create a rarefied environment in which only this truth exists.
  5. To be engineers of the human soul, the leaders must bring it under full observational control, monitoring information and thoughts.
  6. Person is deprived of both external information and inner reflection, which are crucial for testing realities.
  7. Strivings toward new info, independent judgment, and self-expression are thwarted.
  8. A person who experiences a reality outside of the group will negate the experience by not considering it legitimate since it is outside the milieu.
  9. A hampering in the human quest for that which is true and relevant within and outside a person.
  10. Us/them mentality keeps outside information from being processed critically
  11. Person's entire frame of reference becomes the group, has no independent reality or information against which to test the verity of the information the group is giving him.
  12. Separation from family and friends who represent the outside.
  13. Control of books read, movies seen, music listened to.
  14. Communal living further controls the milieu.
  15. Activities are limited because time is dominated by group. Even if a person wanted to hear another pastor there wouldn't be enough time to do so.
  16. Intense indoctrination seminars or retreats.
  17. Information for making decisions supposed to come from "seeking counsel" or consultation from leaders.
  18. Anything that is not the sacred science (see below for explanation of sacred science) is rejected as evil.

This list came about because of the authors book on the following subject on how China brainwashed the minds of American prisoners and their won people.

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China is a non-fiction book by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton on the psychology of brainwashing and mind control.

Lifton's research for the book began in 1953 with a series of interviews with American servicemen who had been held captive during the Korean War. In addition to interviews with 25 Americans, Lifton also interviewed 15 Chinese who had fled their homeland after having been subjected to indoctrination in Chinese universities. From these interviews, which in some cases occurred regularly for over a year, Lifton identified the tactics used by Chinese communists to cause drastic shifts in one's opinions and personality and "brainwash" American soldiers into making demonstrably false assertions.
More can be found here by a man who was deprogrammed from a religious cult in Santa Barbara.


Redfox712 said...

Recently I have been going through PCG's writings to see for myself what PCG's leaders have to say. I shall use that information to if this information can help describe if PCG fits these eight criteria for thought reform.

Milieu control: I will not comment on this. I feel I have insufficient information to comment. So I shall abstain here.

Mystical Manipulation. PCG is quite guilty of this. Gerald Flurry does this a lot. He very liberally reinterprets events surrounding the Tkach changes and the rise of PCG in opposition to that in order to claim these events were written in the Bible. He has written many booklets insisting that these Biblical books are all about the Tkach changes and the rise PCG. PCG is not flooded with new revelation, Gerald Flurry just recycles the same revelation again and again.

Demand for Purity. PCG is quite guilty of this as well.

Confession. I feel I have insufficient information to comment on this. So I shall abstain here.

Sacred Science. PCG is quite guilty of this. Gerald Flurry insists that unless one joins PCG and believe his "new revelation" then one is doomed to be cast into the Great Tribulation.
"Truth is not to be found outside the group." PCG even claims all other COG groups are Laodicean and doomed to be abandoned to endure the Great Tribulation for rejecting PCG's "sacred science".

Loading the Language. PCG is quite guilty of this. Elijah. Zerubbabel. Joshua. Man of Sin. Prophesy not. Prophesy again. Philadelphian. Laodicean. Are perishing. Strong delusion. Laodicean Church. New revelation. Malachi's Message. Little Book. God's house. God's government. Headquarters position. Pillar. Royal. "Victory" in the court case with WCG (even though PCG actually lost the case). Etc, etc.
A lot of PCG's jargon is designed to reinforce the PCG members' identity as resisters against the Tkach changes and being the only true Christians among the COGs.

Doctrine over person. PCG is quite guilty of this as well. PCG members shunning members of other COG groups, even close family members. PCG members refusing to visit doctors or take medicine and even dying because of that. These are acts in which the doctrine (the "sacred science") is more important than human beings.

Dispensing of existence. PCG is quite guilty of this. PCG does this whenever PCG's leaders claim the other COG groups are doomed to be abandoned in the Great Tribulation, that they are heathen, that they prophesy not, that they will not be in the Place of Safety, etc, etc. PCG does this by requiring members to shun "Laodiceans", as they have done since 2000. (Although Stephen Flurry ignored this rule by interviewing Aaron Dean Roderick C. Meredith for his book, Raising the Ruins, in 2005-6. Just look at the footnotes for that book.)

So it can be seen that PCG very well fulfills at least six of these eight criteria for thought reform.

Assistant Coffee Maker said...

If it is true that there is a large number of members standing beside Thiel's side, then I too am aghast!

Anonymous said...

Reading what Pervert really wrote back then, it's hard to imagine that it's not parody. It's hard to imagine anyone actually writing that and sending it out. And even harder to imagine people reading it and decide to keep sending him money.

old EXPCG hag said...

... you DO NOT BELONG in GOD'S CHURCH! You are some of the ROTTEN, PUTRID, spiritual WASTE that has been PLUGGED UP INSIDE OF THE SPIRITUAL BODY OF CHRIST'S WIFE, just as physical waste is plugged up in my dear wife's body! And the living Jesus is just as able to EXPEL YOU from the spiritual Body of HIS WIFE as He is to expel this physical waste from my wife's body!

Always blaming it on the woman. HWA's sick attitude towards women is carried over to all the asshole men that were trained at A.C. Gerald Flurry called Princes Diana a slut! Well, well, well, PRINCESS DIANA WAS RIGHT!! Her slutty husband Charles was having an affair with Camilla Parker- Bowles all along just as Diana said. THIS caused the marriage break up...Charles adulterous affair. Not slutty Diana!>Slutty Charles!<
And look who's right up there now with slut Charles >Camilla Parker- Bowles<

Anonymous said...

My first thought was -- Why would he write a letter attempting to correct those he believes do not read the letters?

Unknown said...

I think many "Grateful Dead" fans would also make the "Lifton Criteria" ! ;-)

Anonymous said...

So, was Herbie suggesting that his wife's bowel trouble, a metaphor for the church's financial constipation, was the fault of the membership?

I had forgotten about the screaming capitals in all his letters.

I'm so over these clowns.

Byker Bob said...

Excellent comparison. However, in the past, the brainwashing has been so thorough, and so deeply effective that most insiders would have made statements such as, "Why this couldn't possibly apply to God's true church, and His Apostle. Is that what you are trying to do?"


Byker Bob said...

I don't know, Connie. So far as the Grateful Dead is concerned, I just like some of the music. And, the Dead permit their fans to enjoy it on whatever level of involvement each chooses. Some treated it as a religion, others took their wealth and went on the road from concert to concert. Personally, I've enjoyed about 4-5 of their DVD's that were available at the library, and do not get involved in the drug aspects of the experience.

You can do the same with the biker thing. There is the outsider personna, riding to live, all the money tied up in the bike itself. The brotherhood of the road, or cultishness of the clubs. There is even "Easyriders", the biker version of the Plain Truth. Personally, I always just enjoyed building, working on, and riding my bikes. If you have to make a cult out of it, certain freedoms are lost. I've never questioned the sincerity of the "patch holders", although personally I believe that when you are a member of one of the "clubs" your life is no longer your own. To me, that is not freedom.

People who need to get a life often buy into some sort of substitute life provided by someone else. Many gurus expect 100%. They don't like the library book approach where someone checks out a reference book and borrows and applies a few appropriate points or aspects that one needs. Most gurus want you to drink the Kool Aid, over and over, and over again.


Anonymous said...

HWA created an environment that scored high marks on every single one of those points.

The sole exception might be "Confession," because, at least in my experience, that could be avoided without stigma. I often heard members talk about "going to get "counselling" from a minister, or ministers talking about how "necessary" it was, but I never experienced any pressure to actually do so.

But in all other cases, these things were all true in spades in WCG.

Now we are witnessing in many cases, the unwinding of a cult. Yes, it's true, Rod Meredith, Gerald Flurry, and especially Dave Pack might be as bad as HWA ever was. However, as a cult gets smaller, it has too few resources to enforce member conformity. Also, there's the case of UCG, large, but seeking to be a softer, gentler cult, trying to bridge the divide between a respectable organization and a totalitarian nightmare.

But that, I would suggest, is just another way to play the game. UCG still achieves a great deal of HWA's objectives but counts on cultural inertia and the soft sell, rather than the hard sell. The apparent reasonableness of the techniques used to engender the conformity camouflages the fact that the same conformity is still there, it's every bit as necessary as before, and it still serves the same purposes as it ever did, which, in any case, have never been in the best interest of the members.

Assistant Deacon said...

That paragraph excerpted from HWA's letter is disgusting. What vile, hateful, condescending language.

Larry Gott was right. His grandfather was a tyrant.

Ed said...

What I don't understand is that there are people who know that Armstrong was a disgusting person yet they still hold on to Armstrongism. How can anyone that knows the truth about Armstrong still believe that there is any credibility in anything that he taught?

Anonymous said...

Only a real ass lets someone die of constipation!

Byker Bob said...

Ed, they believe they have "proved" it, by reading what he had to say and agreeing with it, and committing to it. We know this to be ridiculous, because in the process leading to membership, prospective members had been discouraged from reading outside materials, and members were later actually forbidden from reading them.

There is an abundance of material available supporting positions which differ from Armstrongism, and in a real "proof" situation, these should be read and considered. Over the years on the forums, I've even encountered a few Armstrongists who are open minded to the point where they will disobey their leaders, and read these materials. The problem which occurs at that point is that they consider the Armstrongist perspective to be the absolute and unassailable standard by which they evaluate any new incoming information. This prejudice and predisposition causes them to reject any of the differing views, regardless of merit, simply because they disagree with Armstrongism.

To paraphrase the above, and provide a synopsis, their minds are made up, and are no longer open and flexible in key areas. As the King of Siam might have quipped, "This is most unscientific!"


Liv said...

Physical waste = crap,sh-t,poop.
This is what he thought of the membership?

Anonymous said...

If you were sick of HWA's incessant begging for money and weren't sending it in, then yes, I would take him at his word; that's exactly what he thought of those members.

Anonymous said...

If you read some of the earlier co-workers letters HWA's greed is easier to spot. He became more slick as time went on.

Anonymous said...

So it can be seen that PCG very well fulfills at least six of these eight criteria for thought reform.

The PCG fulfills 6 criteria of thought reform, and the news media and the dumb suckers who listen to them fulfill another 666.