Page updated 22 September 2018
Characteristics of a Cult
Writer: Sisterlisa | 27 September 2010 | www.spiritualabuseawareness.com
In April of 1993 America witnessed a battle between Law Enforcement and the Davidian Branch Compound while indoctrinated women and children shook with fear over the battle that was raging over two distinctively different goals. David Koresh’s goal was to resist Law Enforcement under his belief that he was the Messiah and was willing to die for his ‘faith’. He also trained his captives to die for their ‘faith’ as well. Koresh indoctrinated his followers with his beliefs and ordered them to fire against the officers.
Do not be afraid to question the leader's teachings!
Many times when someone is new to a religious organization they are innocently ignorant of the philosophies being taught. It is important to search the scriptures and know for yourself what the Lord has taught. Even the noble men of Paul’s time were diligent in knowing what the Bible really said.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11
Cults are not only religious in nature, they also are found in a variety of other avenues. You can find cults within music, businesses, organizations, etc. The word cult comes from the word culture, an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning. It is a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group, yet in today’s society we see cults as dangerous breeding grounds intended for harm. Many times people who are involved in a cult are naïve to what is at the root of their group. Sometimes a cult can be a single family with no church affiliation.
Some cults result in physical harm or death of themselves by suicide or by attacking others. Most cults result in isolation from family members and friends, and we must be cautious of modern cults that contain the Christian label.
Some of the most popular, well known, and widely accepted cults are within churches that use mind control to bring their followers into mental and emotional bondage. It becomes so powerful that the followers lose the ability to think for themselves. This kind of mind control involves a severe social influence conditioning program which may include:
• an exclusive system of authoritarian control
• a program of punishment and rewards
• information control
Depending on the number and intensity of undue influential tactics, and a person’s own naivety, one may experience:
• a false personality change
• marked mental or emotional weakness
Cult-like leaders will keep a person:
• so busy that they don’t have time for life outside of the cult
• Many times the leader or cult group will drive a wedge between the family unit by coercing them into separate activities
• drain them of energy so they are too tired to think about what is happening to them
Here is a list of things to keep in mind in regards to religious cults:
→ Breaking down a person’s mind by mental abuse.
→ Putting a simple minded person in leadership positions. These people will blindly obey and follow their leader over what anyone else says and will demand loyalty even when the leader is wrong.
→ Control the person’s time and environment.
→ No outside recreation without the group.
→ They create a powerlessness in people.
→ As the group attacks the person’s worldview, it causes the person distress and inner confusion; yet they are not allowed to speak about this confusion or object to it – leadership suppresses questions and counters resistance.
→ Mind control increases as the people in the group are kept busier than usual in order to keep them under their control and too tired to think clearly.
→ Old healthy life patterns are not accepted and must suppress them.
→ Members get positive feedback for conforming to the group’s beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.
→ Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group’s beliefs, and compliance are rewarded while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection. If one expresses a question, he or she is made to feel that there is something inherently disordered about them to be questioning.
→ The only feedback members get is from the group; they become totally dependent upon the rewards given by those who control the environment. Striving to perform in order to get these rewards or positive feedback shows the dependency the person has been created to expect. When the rewards cease to be given, the person becomes hurt, confused, or disgruntled.