Msg#: 3146 *CULT_WATCH* 11/00/88 22:05:00 (Read 2 Times) To: ALL Subj: CULTS, SECTS AND DE

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Msg#: 3146 *CULT_WATCH* 11/00/88 22:05:00 (Read 2 Times) From: DANIEL SEGARD To: ALL Subj: CULTS, SECTS AND DEVIANT MOVEMENTS CULTS, SECTS AND DEVIANT MOVEMENTS OVERVIEW AND HISTORICAL BACKDROP There is a vast variety of different cults, sects and deviant move- ments in the United States today. One estimate numbers the active cults at between five and six hundred, with two thousand potential movements represented. Keeping track of individual deviant movements, even in one's own locality, is a time consuming task, however, under- standing some common traits of these movements will assist us in recognizing them for what they are. Most religious and political movements have a CHARISMATIC FIGURE at the head. This charismatic figure embodies the authority of the movement. The figure generally claims an extraordinary or divine experience which sets him apart from others or claims some type of special political ideology which is unique in the time and area in which it emerges. The charismatic authority figure claiming a divine revelation will generally be at the head of a religious cult or sect. The figure claiming special political ideology will generally be at the head of a political movement. Political and religious distinc- tions are often blurred and combined so various movements contain some elements of religion as well as politics; these are called identity church movements. For the purpose of understanding the pure forms, the following information will divide the movements into religious versus political. Any movement-whether or positive or negative in nature-generally occurs during a period of "anomie." The Greek word "nomos" means "something which gives structure and meaning." Something which is "anomic" takes away or reduces structure. The noun "anomie" describes a time or condition where structure and meaning, the orderly flow of civiliza- tion, is being threatened or attacked by counter-culture influences within the society. During anomie societal institutions (such as home, family, church, education, government, the military, law, and justice) undergo severe attacks and a dissolution of public confi- dence. In the United States a great anomic tendency surged during the sixties and seventies. The Viet Name War years and Watergate gave tremendous impetuous to the feeling of anomie in individuals and cultural groups. In some cases anomic feelings are intentionally fostered to hasten the dissolution of stability. Individuals can undergo temporary anomic periods in their own lives. During these periods the individuals are more susceptible to the influences of counter-cultural or deviant movements. A freshman in college or a new recruit in the military... both of whom find them- selves isolated in strange surroundings without their normal peer and group support... are in a position where they have to search for stability. Farmers who just had their family farms repossessed and adults having been through a recent divorce experience periods of anomie. If a deviant group takes precedence in a person's life during an anomic period it may capture that person's loyalty, thought pat- terns, and life behaviors for the rest of his life, or that group's influence may decline in proportion with the level of anomie in the person's life. Mental instability aggravates the tendency of persons to fall under cult/deviant influence during anomic periods. In a religious context the authority which emanates from the charis- matic authority figure translates into a "mission for God". Charis- matic figures arise during periods of anomie. They are agents of change. In a political context (such as the political philosophies of Marx, Lenin, and Mao), change occurs by following political ideologues instead of divine mandate. These ideologues often embrace the philos- ophy that "the end justifies the means", that there is no higher mission than the political need, and this mission transcends normal moral law and values. This transcendency opens the door for political ideologies to attract fanatics and extremists. Their activities and beliefs often violate the human and civil rights of others, particu- larly "non-believers" or nom-members of their group. (This profile applies to every period of major change in the history of the world whether the change was for good or bad.) GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTS Cults should be distinguished from other groups such as sects and religions. A cult is usually a small starting place for a deviant movement. As the "cult" philosophy gains momentum and adherents and as society becomes accustomed to it, the cult may change into a "sect" which is a bit more well-established. Sects show more stability and societal acceptance than do cults. As a sect grows and wins some popular acceptance and support it may one day be accepted by society asza religion. The progression from cult to sect to religion usually is a process which occurs over a period of many years. Cults usually have core groups of fundamentalists, whether in the political, religious, or religio-political context. They are the ones who hold the "pure vision" of where the cult should go. Mixtures of philosophy and ideology brought in by new converts to the cult tend to dilute the pure vision. The dilution of the pure vision often makes the cult more acceptable to society because more of society's values are being represented in the cult. Stress occurring between fundamen- talist and liberal factions may cause sub-groups to splinter off. When a "sect" passes to "religion" status a combination of things has occurred. First, the adherents to the religion normally portray few traits which are objectionable to society. Society on the other hand, has learned to "live and let live" and accepts the religion's beliefs as "routine." Various cultic groups tend to have many factors in common, especially in the progression of movement of uninitiated persons toward and into cult involvement. Cults attract followers from general society. The followers begin to take on certain characteristics of the cult. The following factors are pertinent to the identification of a group as a cult: 1. Voluntary, achieved membership: New adherents must pass some sort of test, possibly a rite or ritual, in order to achieve member- ship. Membership is sought after and does not occur accidentally or incidental to some other societal activity. 2. Members assume an elitist self-image: This self-image is spawned and fostered by the organization of the cult. Certain "faith maintenance mechanisms" are built into cult membership. These often take the form of a series of rituals, pledges, oaths or tests of worthiness. There are also "boundary maintenance mecha- nisms" which tend to separate the cult member from the rest of society, from non-members, from family, and from normal peer group associations. Cult members develop an "us versus them" mentality. 3. Exclusivism: Members believe that they are the "only ones with the truth" and (in some manner) will be the only ones who will be among the "saved remnant" when some catastrophic event occurs. Actually, normal logical truth is irrelevant in the cult context. Some religious cults use "heavenly deception" for recruiting and initiating new members deeper into the cult mechanism. They also use the process of "operative exclusivism" which allows only those who need to know to become aware of certain privileged information as they progress into the cult. There are usually numerous levels of information that are shared only with people who have proven their loyalty and worth to the cult organization and therefore have progressed upward in the organization. 4. Hostility: By the very nature of cult beliefs (which separate the members from society and indoctrinate them into the belief that cult members only possess the truth) hostility towards society and its institutions is generated. This hostility feeds on individu- al's hostile tendencies which were brought into the group. On the other hand, society is often prejudiced against the cult... often this is based on fear, superstition or non-existent "facts". Per- ceived hostility from society does nothing more than fuel the hostility of the cult member. (This is a key principle to understand when contacting cult members in an effort to defuse a situation or gain rapport with a cult member. Face-to-face confrontation will generally tend to reduce avenues of communica tion. 5. Acetism: Members often display personal willingness to sacrifice self-comfort, finances and personal efforts for "the cause." Cults frequently demand acetism from their members. Cults can generate a great deal of financial support as they convince members to turn over their personal wealth and possessions to the group for the "common good." 6. Priesthood of All Believers: This term, in a religious context means that all those initiated into the cult membership share equal, automatic priesthood and therefore share the authority of the cult. There are usually various levels of priesthood, but adherents develop tremendous peer support and identification through the "priesthood of all believers" phenomenon. Believers are convinced they are very close to their god(s), sometimes in contact with god(s) and sometimes gods themselves. In a political context the "priesthood of all believers" phenome- non leads to increasingly elitist feelings. The perception is that since one is part of the select few he is somehow untouchable by normal societal standards, morality, laws, and ethics. He is therefore free to make whatever changes necessary or to take whatever actions seem appropriate at the time under the "end-jus- tifies-the-means" philosophy. This frequently manifests itself in extremism and terrorism. 7. Increasing Control Mechanisms: The deeper a member proceeds into cult involvement, the wider the gap will become between that person and his origins in society. Control mechanisms are step-by- step levels of control which increasingly attack the member's independent thought and freedom of action. Often control mecha- nisms are "mind control" and "brainwashing" tactics. They include physical isolation, deprivation of food, sleep, family and peer support coupled with intensely repetitive indoctrination involving little opportunity for questions or evaluation on a rational scale. Cults have the potential to control every aspect of an individual's life. The control mechanisms are powerful enough to completely reprogram the thinking and activities of the members to coincide with the authoritarian philosophy of the charismatic leader of the cult group. A three part written account details the process whereby an intelligent, normally well-adjusted college student, the daughter of a Baptist minister, was enticed into the Unification Church. In a period of three days she was convinced that the philosophy of the group was "the only truth." This preceeded months of involve- ment where the girl became increasingly subject to the mind control processes of the group. Finally, in desparation, (all other attempts at reason having failed) the family enlisted the aid of a professional deprogrammer," kidnapped" the daughter and talked her out of the mind control mechanism. As a cult grows and survives it develops ritualized behaviors. The charismatic figure may start to share his authority with other (trusted) members. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO IDENTIFY WHO IS IN POWER IN A CULT GROUP. ALL POWER FLOWS FROM HIM. The isolation or encapsulation of a cult or sect group which includes a leader figure is a very dangerous situation. (Examples such as the Peoples Temple led by Jim Jones in Guyana and the CSA on a 150 acre tract of land in the south, had tragic results.) The physical isolation of a group by fences, terrain or controlled movements, places the members completely under the power of the charismatic figure. Combined with misguided philosophy and an arsenal of weapons, total control of suggestible people has explosive potential. Conclaves of such isolationist sects are found in the South, Northwest and West where open terrain allows them to flourish and survive with little interference. 8. Elimination of Critical Recourse: Members of cult groups seldom have "critical resource". This is the avenue which members of any movement are either given or denied. When given it allows the members to question those in authority through established channels and tends to filter out aberrant behavior within an organized, legitimate group or denomination. Established reli- gions have such things as synods, councils, bishops, elders, deacons, etc., or some parallel political group which handle complaints and questions from members about doctrines and philos- ophies. Critical recourse seldom entails negative sanctions upon the person exercising it in legitimate groups. Members of deviant groups are rarely allowed critical recourse. They are carefully restricted from the ability to criticize or question anyone in authority. Open criticism often results in painful sanctions against (or even the death of) the member. It should be noted that the power of cult groups comes from the members level of conviction and dedication, and authoritarian control of the cult over members. Many cultic and sectarian groups are multinational, multimillion dollar corporations. They are managed by competent businessmen who adhere to the beliefs of the group. A recent report shows that onesuch group, the Unification Church, grosses between 1 and 1.5 milliondollars daily from street sales and begging by its members. The Way International, not only generates revenue by the gifts and donations of its members, but also charges fees for training courses, sells souvenir articles and printed material. It even issues savings bonds in the name of the organization. The headquarters building of The Way International is a five-million-dollar-plus structure. The Way has extensive property and equipment holdings. The U.S.A. has experienced a great upsurgence of cult and sect activ- ities in the two-plus decades since 1960. As many as 25 million people in the United States are directly affected by cult and sectinfluence. Historically, the law enforcement community and military are the least prepared to deal with cult and sect influences. This ability is further diminished as deviant groups "hide" behind the protection of the U.S. Constitution for legitimate religions. Many cult/sect groups have well-trained, disciplined and organized agents working to infiltrate the police and the military. These are not fly-by-night operations, but well-financed thrusts. There are two basic structures seen in cults and sects. The first is the Authoritarian model. This can generally be envisioned as a pyramid structure with the charismatic structure at the peak. All authority flows downward from the charismatic figure. The authority flow may include some trusted lieutenants who have earned the confi- dence of the leader. The pyramid is made up of various levels with the lowest (entry level), or worker level, on the bottom. There is high encapsulation of these levels. Elitism increases as members proceed up the pyramid structure and information is strictly con- trolled on a "need to know" basis. Members seldom know the true story of what's going on above them, but must operate on what they are told with little or no chance of questioning or criticism. (illustration not reproduced) AUTHORITARIAN STRUCTURE The second structure can be called a Nonauthoritarian model. This can be visualized as a wagon wheel with a hub, spokes, and peripheral groups. Although there is a central headquarters, the individual local groups generally have a degree of autonomy not experienced in the Authoritarian model. The local groups may set up on an author- itarian or pyramidal basis or may be more "democratic" in nature. As members progress through the hierarchy of the local structure they may earn the right to work in the headquarters group. (illustration not reproduced) NON-AUTHORITARIAN STRUCTURE PERSONALITY PROFILE FOR THOSE PRONE TO CULT INVOLVEMENT There are certain dependent personality types which are particularly susceptible to the lure of cult involvement. Some cults target specific age ranges toward which their indoctrination efforts are focused. It is not uncommon for the 18 to 26 year old group to be targeted by groups because during this time the individuals' minds are often still in a questioning mode. Life's values have not been totally solid- ified. They are still eager to try new things, to be accepted by peers and to seek thrills. They are also often displaced from their support structure and homes because of searches for jobs, enlistment in the military, or attendance at college. Of the members of cults who have been studied, 80% display dependent personality types. Some key indicators of a dependent personality are: 1. Intelligence 2. Low self esteem 3. Low achievement 4. The feeling of not being lovable 5. Feeling of isolation 6. Problems dealing with stress 7. Problems in social/sexual interaction A youth displaying these traits, (whether they are temporary in nature because of some change in his/her environment, due to stress, or are indicators of the person's true psychological makeup) can be described as possessing a "classic addict mentality." He or she is a potential addict just waiting for an addiction to come along. Too commonly addiction comes in the form of alcohol and drug abuse. However, many other opportunities for unhealthy addiction are available, including membership and participation in negative deviant groups. Chemical drug and alcohol abuse is sometimes used as an organized recruiting approach by deviant groups who take advantage of the addictive behav- iors in potential "converts." People with addictive mentalities are feeling emotional pain because of their unsuccessful relationships and feelings of inadequacy as they try to adjust to their environment. Addiction (to substances or peer groups) is an effort to dull their personal pain, if even for a short period of time and to forget for a moment the anxieties and stress which haunt them. Participation in an authoritarian movement or other deviant group is an addictive process. The longer one is involved, the greater the control exercised by the group over the "addict." Msg#: 3164 *CULT_WATCH* 11/06/88 23:06:34 (Read 1 Times) From: SYSOP To: DANIEL SEGARD Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 3146 (CULTS, SECTS AND DEVIANT MOVEMENTS) That was correct in the past. But look what Hitler did. Hitler was able to gain control and change the minds of millions through the media of his time. Yes, most people are susceptible in transition phases but it also takes an individual or organization to control. --- TBBS v2.0 * Origin: Cult Monitor LA (818)566-1828 (102/744) Msg#: 3172 *CULT_WATCH* 11/00/88 17:00:00 (Read 0 Times) From: ERNEST SEERING To: DANIEL SEGARD Subj: RE: CULTS, SECTS AND DEVIANT MOV An excellent post regarding Cults, Sects, and Deviant Movements. Unfurtunately, it doesen't address the basic problem as by the article's definition, EVERYTHING is a cult - ALL Churches, ALL political Parties, All Fraternities, ALL business organizations, etc. Everything except maybe an individual fundementalist, and then only because he is an Individual and believes that HE is the ONLY correct one in the universe. Where did the article come from? --- ConfMail V4.00 * Origin: Sara's Outpost - Jesus is the Co-Sysop of this BBS (1:109/705)


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