Valerie Rice | May 23, 2021
Every once in a while a person emerges from a cult upbringing and starts to deprogram. This will be a long and difficult process. No lie. The person will often require assistance (therapy, people, I’m talking serious support) for numerous reasons. In the US it is extremely difficult to identify these people due to our obsession with religious “freedom” and the collective inability to differentiate between healthy and abusive behavior in relationships. This absolutely applies to religious groups. So let us examine what might constitute cult behavior. Be warned before you proceed: If you have trauma, this is not for you unless you are safe. TRIGGER WARNING!
The number one thing a cult will do that a religion will not is control their flock. The BITE model is the gold standard for assessing which one you are in. This was developed by Steven Hassan to describe the process by which mind control happens. Popular opinion makes us believe that mind control is some magical and ambiguous force when in reality it is a calculated process. Thanks to science and study, we have a pretty good idea how it is done. Unfortunately we rarely apply it to the established cults pretending to be religious groups. I’m looking at YOU, LDS, JW, Scientology, etc. You know who you are. Okay. Here are some examples.
The first way a cult will try and control their members is to tell them how to behave. Ambiguous, I know, religions all have a moral code. It is in the intensity and consequences. A cult will flat out try to control your reality. Perhaps they tell you what you can eat or drink, who you can have sex with and when as well as how. How many hours a week do you spend on indoctrination a week? I betcha it is a LOT if you are in a cult. I mean, daily at least. Before you come at me with your free agency line, ask yourself what the consequences are for exercising said agency is. Is it a threat of harm or isolation? Ya, I bet it is you cult members. I love you, remember that. I was you. Buckle up, because the next topic is going to make you mad.
Have your church leaders told you what you can and cannot read or listen to? Yeah? You are probably in a cult. If they cast a disparaging light on anything that could even remotely contradict their narrative, you need to run. Fast and far. So, this could look like shunning an ex member or telling you not to watch news stations or use independent internet sites. This could also be withholding information or sugar coating events to make them cast their organization in a positive light. Hey, how many times has YOUR church changed doctrine or origin story to promote it’s popularity? Just a thought. How DO you feel about those former members, BTW?
Oh, don’t let’s be silly. Nobody can control your thoughts, right? RIGHT? Wrong. So, so, wrong. And I am sorry. But it is a simple process really. Ask yourself if you know good from evil. Do you know black from white? How strongly do you feel about it? Spoiler: the stronger you feel, the more they control you. I bet you were taught that your group had the truth and the only truth, and this is fed to you in various ways on a daily basis throughout your life. Have you been given a new name or identity? Are you given a personal reality that is unique to your group? Yeah. Please PLEASE review this site.
This may be the most devious one yet. Are certain feelings inappropriate? Let’s address the most prominent one today: homosexuality. Yeah. How about problems and barriers in your life, who’s fault are they? Would increasing your faith and obedience in any way alleviate them? That’s some culty shit guys, for reals. Have you been love bombed or sent on severe guilt trips because of your doubts? Are you allowed to question without fear of retribution such as eternal damnation of some form? Lots of questions, I know, but they are important ones.
I am sorry if this was a little “ IN YOUR FACE” for some people, but I really am not sorry at all. Not all religions are cults, but most cults imitate religions, and you need to examine and question critically to tell the difference. I know, critical thinking is actively erased in cults, which is why we need outside intervention. So where do we draw the line on religious freedom? Welp. I am going to go smash the establishment guys, so until next time, Be Well!