Thursday, April 5, 2018

Life in a Cult



A reader here sent in this link to Radio National (Australia) concerning a program on cults that aired on Thursday.

You might think cult members are naive and easily led, but the psychology and group-think that holds the collective together is extremely powerful.
We examine how and why people get involved in a cult, what keeps them there and what happens when they finally leave.
Tore Klevyer spent a decade living in a Christian cult, and later trained as a counsellor who helps others recover.
Mary Garden is a former cult member who explored various sects in India during the 1970s and has written extensively about her experiences

Life in a cult: how I got in, how I got out

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leaving a cult is not enough. The cult has to leave you too.

There are ex-WCG members who misrepresent others, stereotype them, slander them with ad hominems, spread bigotry, and call almost anyone on the right a Nazi. Then they actually defend their bigotry and say bigotry is good. They would be a cult too, if they had any followers. I guess they are some kind of a cult unto themselves. They left the cult but the cult did not leave them.

Anonymous said...

Followers of Christ were considered a bizarre "Cult" for centuries, only to be replaced by the "world's" - Satan's biggest Cult, the Catholic Church.

WWCG was run with cultish behavior, the idolization of the ministry, the domination of it's members, controlled by end time fear and an attitude of supreme spiritual knowledge.

Despite all that, I still hold with deep confidence that the truths of the Sabbath, Holy Days which picture a more loving Salvation Plan, Kingdom of God, the God Family (not a Trinity), no immoral soul burning forever, and God's the designer of life not evolution are not negated by poor human leadership behavior.

Retired Prof said...

April 5, at 12:46 is substantially right.

It's important to acknowledge that there are also ex-WCG members who misrepresent others, stereotype them, slander them with ad hominems, spread bigotry, and call almost anyone on the left a commie.

Connie Schmidt said...

My cult makes the cut!

Near_Earth_Object said...

Mind control is one of the principal techniques of oppression used by cults. Often it happens at a subliminal level. And it is at this subtle level that the most tenacious behavior modification seems to be implemented.

An example. This is what an Ambassador College education was. Some of you will get this and some of you will not. First, set aside the idea that an AC education had to do with academics. It did not. It had to do with immersion in a system - to the point that behavior is altered and controlled.

I was working at Flight Operations on the AC BS campus one afternoon. My job as a 1-W was to do only custodial work. A minister came into the airport on a business plane with his two daughters who were students. He had to rush to a meeting and asked me to take his two daughters to their dorms. He did not direct me to do this but it was clear that it was expected. It was assumed that I would handle all the luggage because the minister and the girls made no effort. Neither of the girls spoke to me while I was driving them - I was in taxi driver mode - I was a servant. We arrived at one of the dorms and the older girl got out and walked up, head held high, towards the front door. As I went to the car trunk, I thought that she might pick up her luggage but she did not even look back in my direction. So I carried her luggage up to the dorm. She went inside and was greeted with great exultation from the other girls hanging around the lounge. I set her luggage down. She did not thank me and she did not look my direction. I turned around and went back to my job.

Years later, this girl was the wife of a regional director in the WCG. Now they are prominent in GCI. My wife boarded an elevator in a hotel in Tucson and she and her husband were in the elevator. As it turned out, her minister father had done a tour of duty in my wife's church area and my wife actually knew her. We boarded the elevator and she did not acknowledge my wife's presence. We all rode in silence to the floor in the hotel where my wife and I were staying. My wife and I got out at our floor and the regional director and his wife continued on to the special section of the hotel reserved for ministers. I noticed later that the ministers ate in a separate section of the Hotel on a mezzanine above the rest of us.

This seemingly simplistic anecdote speaks for itself. If you can understand what it means, you then understand something about the level at which indoctrination occurred. Some Armstrongists and even ex-Armstrongists will not get the picture at all or they will consider it superficial. An AC education was not about learning and enlightenment, classrooms and books. It was about the content of this anecdote. It was total immersion in this kind of caste system 24/7 for four years. Don Ward never figured this out. He never understood why accreditation was really superfluous to those in power. Who among the WCG leadership needed a small accredited religious college in the woods of Big Sandy. What the leadership wanted was and immersion tank that created a certain mindset.

True Bread said...

NEO said:

I was working at Flight Operations on the AC BS campus one afternoon. My job as a 1-W was to do only custodial work. A minister came into the airport on a business plane with his two daughters who were students. He had to rush to a meeting and asked me to take his two daughters to their dorms. He did not direct me to do this but it was clear that it was expected. It was assumed that I would handle all the luggage because the minister and the girls made no effort. Neither of the girls spoke to me while I was driving them - I was in taxi driver mode - I was a servant. We arrived at one of the dorms and the older girl got out and walked up, head held high, towards the front door. As I went to the car trunk, I thought that she might pick up her luggage but she did not even look back in my direction. So I carried her luggage up to the dorm. She went inside and was greeted with great exultation from the other girls hanging around the lounge. I set her luggage down. She did not thank me and she did not look my direction. I turned around and went back to my job.


So....why the hell did you do it....??? kinda stupid to try to bitch about it now 40 years later......what do you want...a medal...??



TK

Byker Bob said...

Kinda hostile there, Todd. Are you trying to pick a fight? NEO shared an anecdote, a personal experience. We all did stuff we didn’t want to back in the day just to keep in good standing with the people we believed were God’s gatekeepers for the place of safety and the Kingdom. Plus, if you were part of the 1-W program as a conscientious objector during the ‘Nam era, getting fired by your church would cast serious doubts with Selective Service regarding you sincerity.

I believe that NEO’s story provided insights into the types of disgusting personalities who aspired to being part of the entitled class’which was deliberately created by the organization. I could have been part of that group, having the right pedigree, and test scores to go with it. But, something deep inside of me caused a revulsion for that lifestyle. Therefore, while others worked hard to cultivate and develop the UAP (Universal Ambassador Personality), I retained my own, and paid the price. When I look at the Ministerial Hall of Shame page over at the PT website, and see what abusive monsters some of my classmates allowed themselves to become, I feel very fortunate to have seen through the program. Entitlement destroys any possibility of servant leadership, and makes it impossible for one to be a spiritual guide.

BB

Anonymous said...

NEO
Your 3.59 PM post is about the master-slave mindset taught in Herbs church. You were treated like a slave on a plantation. This is what's behind the brainwashing behind the 'give way.' Some are slaves (the givers) and some are the masters (the getters).

TK You missed what NEO was saying, and unnecessarily rude. When you are treated like a slave, you still feel it decades later. That's the voice of personal experience.

True Bread said...

Byker Bob said...

Kinda hostile there, Todd. Are you trying to pick a fight? NEO shared an anecdote, a personal experience. We all did stuff we didn’t want to back in the day just to keep in good standing with the people we believed were God’s gatekeepers for the place of safety and the Kingdom. Plus, if you were part of the 1-W program as a conscientious objector during the ‘Nam era, getting fired by your church would cast serious doubts with Selective Service regarding you sincerity.


Yup.....sorry about that...

I had a flashback to my BS days....must of been my wcg PTSD flaring up.....
I saw myself just leaving the ungrateful chick's bags at the door, but I probably would have done the same as NEO...



TK

Near_Earth_Object said...

True Bread:

Recall I said that some would not understand the anecdote and regard it as superficial.
You apparently missed the meaning. There can be a number of causes for this. Perhaps, you have trouble reading for meaning.

Another likely reason is that you have been severely damaged by Armstrongism and cannot assess this kind of statement. You seem to have had an emotional reaction of anger. You should honestly seek out some kind of counsel. Armstrongism may have left you with a treatable psychiatric condition.

What About The Truth said...

NEO said:

This seemingly simplistic anecdote speaks for itself. If you can understand what it means, you then understand something about the level at which indoctrination occurred.

That level of indoctrination would be the "Pharisee level" - the same level of thought and action that questioned Christ for eating with Publicans and sinners. That same "Pharisee level" questioned the authenticity of a man (Christ) based upon his hometown (Galilee). Again that level of thought labeled the source (Devil) of all of Christ's miracles because he (Christ) didn't come from or belong to their system of indoctrination in all forms.

Many having been in or presently in the COG's will understand or have experienced the modern day Pharisees. My question would be; Can a COG member/Christian remain in an organization steeped in a Pharisee level of thought and action and not take onto themselves the same thought and action? Christ's statement in Matt.5:20 saying "That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into THE KINGDOM of GOD" might make a person think hard on where and what situation that person might fulfill the requirements of that scripture.

Anonymous said...

"Truebread" has some serious mental health issues regarding his disproportionate amounts of anger he has. Get some therapy. Armstrongism affected you more than you realize!

Anonymous said...

8.20 AM
Christ also made the point that publicans and prostitutes were entering into the kingdom, but not the Scribes and Sadducees. Group brain washing and pressure stopped its members from doing so.
A very high price to pay for group membership.

Near_Earth_Object said...

What About the Truth:

You make a good point. When I was in the AC BS environment, I found myself influenced in my thinking and behavior through immersion in the caste system. Because I was a "true believer" in Armstrongism, this made me susceptible and receptive to being profoundly influenced by the AC environment.

And I should explain what AC was about. It was not about education at "God's College". It was about indoctrinating people to behave according to a caste system created by WCG leadership. The caste system was a by-product originally of autocracy and Phariseeism. But it moved, I don't know how quickly since I do not have the history, from being a collateral attribute of Ambassador College to the sole purpose of Ambassador College. In this caste system, lay members were at the bottom.

This low view of lay members is why upstart "prophets" feel they can say anything they want and they are going to be supported.

I became, after being at AC for a while, towards those below me perfectionist, impatient and demanding. This is the way I was treated, I learned well and passed it on.

nck said...

Well NEO,

You are a real gentleman.

I've seen russian ladies put the grocery bags on the sidewalk when an able man showed up to carry them.

I get TK's reaction a bit being the extra testosterone guy he seems to be.

I too would have had her iron my shirt for the favor of carrying her bags. Yet she might have struck me with radiant beauty and I would have carried the bags round lake loma twice. Vietnam would not have cut the deal. One should have done a tour if it was not your conscious but fear that prevented doing your duty. I do have respect for true conscientious objectors not for the characters BB proposes.

I am really surprised she did not view you as exotic (suspecting a tan).

I lived next to snobby sorority ladies who were actually quite shy out of their comfort zones and quite humble when their shower broke down at times prompting us to open our moldy shower up to the miserable kittens without their war colors painted on.

Ah yes, the discomforts of youth and lessons that come with the pain.

Nck


Retired Prof said...

Back in the late 40s, my father used to make us little kids (I was 6 or 7 and my siblings were younger) sit through "The World Tomorrow" broadcasts. I always dreaded those times. To a little boy, thirty minutes of some guy thundering about Job and Jeremiah and the coming invasion of America by a recently-defeated Germany stretched out interminably before me. When it was finally over, my father would gaze at us with a look of wonder and admiration and say "He sure says a lot in a little bit of time, doesn't he?" I would nod and smile. He sure did say a lot--I just could not have told you what it was.

A couple of things I did remember. The Germans would come to our house, throw my little sisters into the air, and catch them on their bayonets. I was too big for that trick, so they would hang on meathooks. I used to practice lying motionless in my cot, practicing breathing as little as possible with the covers over me so when the Germans came they would mistake me for a pile of bedclothes.

The other thing that sticks in my mind helps explain N_E_O's story. Armstrong contrasted how American and British soldiers in the occupation treated waiters and waitresses. The Americans would chat them up as if they were actual human beings. They would say "bitte" and "danke schoen." Armstrong said the service they got was terrible. According to him, the British did it right. They barked orders at the staff and chewed them out if even the slightest thing went amiss.

I don't remember making any judgement about that behavior at the time, but it certainly made an impression or I would not remember it now. Early in the seven decades since that broadcast I began to morph into a secular humanist. It has long seemed to me that we are all in it together, us human beings. We might have different jobs and different ranks in the social hierarchy, but we all share a basic humanity. We should use that as the starting point for interactions with other people. Not the ending point, necessarily. We may decide after a conversation or two we dislike somebody enough to ignore or defend ourselves against or punish them. Just not on the basis of their job or rank alone. That's inhumane.

Angela Storey said...

Thanks n e o for your post. It explained everything. I still see this attitude in people to this day. It is repulsive.

nck said...

That is a good story ret prof.

Ah yes, those brits experienced rulers of the occupied, since 1600 versus the yankee dough boys from kansas in the big wide world.

HWA did a little tour of recovering europe in 1947. Some wrawra brit in the hotel complained about the foodstamps. Later he would stay in the same hotel with unlimited foodstamps so to say.

Nothing changed in Bosnia (blue turning green), Iraq etc with the americans securing world heritage sites as last priority. As naive as powerful. I dig it.

Nck

True Bread said...

Nck wrote:

I get TK's reaction a bit being the extra testosterone guy he seems to be.


Thanks Nck......my comment was over the top and I am sorry I made it....I thought about deleting it but it's kinda late for that. I actually enjoy NEO's posts and learn a lot from them.....just that his story plucked my nerves as I am well aware of the attitudes he described. I should not have taken my frustrations out on him.



TK

Near_Earth_Object said...

Nck:

"You are a real gentleman."

If I had done this voluntarily, I might have been a gentleman. But I knew automatically where I stood in the caste system compared to these people. No analysis or courtesy was involved. I was servant class and they were people of importance and everything was automatic. That is the way it is in mind control. You come to resemble an android.

She would not find me exotic but utterly objectionable. She was an attractive, high-caste young White woman, a prime cut in the AC meat market, on her way to being a minister's wife (she managed to score a regional director) and I was in the lowest caste, virtually a non-human among the crowd she associated with.

This kind of thing went on all the time. I remember a buddy and me waited a long time for our turn at the racquetball court during the Feast at BS. We finally got on the court, were there about two minutes and a couple of young ministers showed up and kicked us off - no apologies. They were somebody and we were nobody. They got that training at AC. Seems small, but it is a constant influence.

This constant drizzle of experience altered peoples thinking and behavior patterns - some realized they were of great importance and others realized they were persona non grata. And we see this enacted in the Armstrongists fragments all the time. There are people who have craved a position in the ministry not so they could help people but so they could acquire and status as an important autocrat and leverage that status into an income.



nck said...

Well, I do understand the processes you're describing.

They sound like the mental and behavioral processes by which huge swaths of humanity were kept under control by small minorities for extended periods. (The mogul empire, the british empire, in fact most colonial empires, I guess Egyptian rule over Israel too) until those peoples somehow got emancipated through for example education. (or an educated class)

I'm wondering about the "MBA" class at times. It seems "the customer" is liberating itself at times. Then they enslave themselves again when some service is offered for free in return for offering insight into all their e mail content and likes and dislikes.

I noticed some aristocratic priviliges in the past were accompanied with rigid experiences, like experiencing near death in battle or horrid private schools with cold showers. Perhaps they knew something about human nature.

I also notice that even in the most rigid of dictatorships (like saudi arabia) occasional rebels (women) get unexpected promotions based on merit contra the overall culture.
Strange workings of the mind.

Nck