On Thursday’s “Front Page,” Pastor Mike Thompson and Associate Pastor Brian Cole of Faith Free Church(faithfreestanley.org) in Stanley continued our series on “Cults, the Occult and False Teachers.” They began by dealing with the “Characteristics of Christian Cults”, and talked later about “Techniques Used to Control People in Cults or Abusive Churches.” The material they presented was adapted from Rose Publishing. The podcast provides a fuller discussion of lists below.
Christian Cult Characteristics
1.A leader who claims to hear from God like an Old Testament Prophet or an Apostle. Who can question a prophet? Who can check the prophet for errors unless the prophet is forced to compare his so called “word” with scripture.
2.This leader and the group rejects all other churches or minimizes that claiming that our church is more “pure” and “undefiled” than all others.
3.There is control over members activities and friendships. In some of the worst cases members are told to distance themselves from their families or those who disagree with the church / organization.
4.Special diets. Many churches make themselves stand out from others churches by claiming that they are holier because they abstain from certain foods. They are “serious” about their faith because they are willing to follow “the entire word.” This usually relates to following Jewish dietary laws that were a requirement of the temple system.
5. Special language is a common among churches that display cult like behavior. Their buzzwords are a summary of their special revelation that sets them apart as God’s only people. Words like; “full revelation,” “slave class,” or “truly chosen” are used to identify members. This special language functions like a secret handshake and tells you who is buying in and who is not.
6.Sleep deprivation is a technique used by many cults in induction phases. This cuts down peoples’ defenses so they will agree with just about anything. It is an interrogation technique used by some of the more dangerous cults.
7.No privacy. A false teacher does not want you to be apart from him and have time to think about what you are doing.
8.Overpowering demonstrations of love often directly follow abusive behavior. The craving some people have for love causes them to put up with the abusive indoctrination and systems corrections that immediately precede the outpourings of love. In addition love bombing is used to initiate or recruit people into a cult or false teaching.
9.Control over finances is typical of those who claim to be the only voice of God. They want you to “sew” into this exclusive ministry so that the only true teaching will grow. However, the money often goes directly into the pockets of the upper echelon of the organization.
10.Leadership of cults and false churches do not tolerate honest questions. They demean people often in public and force them to repent of questioning God’s prophet. Leaders must maintain the ruse that they alone hear from God. If this scam is broken their control over others may be broken. Thus all questioning must be met with extreme measures.
Techniques Used To Control People
In Cults or Abusive Churches
The following are psychological techniques used by many cults, codependent leaders, or control members (enforcers) to control others or protect themselves from exposure.
Spiritual abuse is the act of using God’s name or unbiblical rules to “get bigger” than people so as to eliminate their questions or force their ongoing compliance.
When a leader is threatened or a parishioner wants to exert unbiblical influence, he or she will contact many people and solicit them to be against the person that is being singled out. This is a form of systems correction that keeps an unhealthy system in tact.
3. Refuse to acknowledge ANY good deeds, actions or beliefs until that person comes to agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.
4. Withholding love and approval no matter how good or bad a person performs until the “non-aligned” person agrees with the system enforcer about the issue in question.
5. Sabotage various aspects of the “non-aligned” person such as relationships, work or ministry until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.
6. Lie about the person (slander) until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.
7. Fault find until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.
These techniques have been used by abusive leaders and abusive non-leaders in order to control the behavior of other others within a religious system.