Tuesday Talks with Lisa Hunt-Wotton – Cults & Mind Control

This article was written in conjunction with advice from Cult Consulting Australia and Cult Watch.

I have used their material because:

1: it is so incredibly accurate.

2: I wanted to present another voice other than my own on this issue.

3: I wanted to give people a resource to connect with.

I encourage you to go to their sites and to read their material.  I have woven my own personal stories and anecdotes in with their material.  Love Lisa.

WHAT IS A CULT?

Most queries to Cult Consulting Australia are people wanting information as to whether a particular group or organisation is a cult or not. The difficulty is that the term cult is applied to many situations and it is often difficult to define.

 In our opinion any situation that removes freedom of the mind is a cult.

What is a cult?

As a Christian-based organisation, at Cultwatch we have two main definitions of what a cult is.

First, a group that uses manipulative psychological “mind control” techniques to recruit and control their members. These techniques might be “love bombing”, instant friends or emotional blackmail. At extremes it might include keeping people away from their friends and family and isolating them both physically and emotionally.

The second definition we use (when saying a group is a cult) is any group which claims to be a Christian group yet teaches something that is not primarily a Christian belief. For example, a group that teaches that Jesus was an alien from another planet but claims to be Christian.

As a general outline we use the following criteria that defines a cult or mind control situation

1 Removes your freedom of choice

2 Separates you from the familiar

3 Alters your belief system

4 Disallows questions and criticism

5 Expects obedience

6 Promises unattainable outcomes

7 The group is right everyone else is wrong

8 Overbearing friendship and love     

http://cultconsulting.org

bambina arrabbiata

When I left the cult that I was in I was told:

  • I would never find God
  • I was lost
  • I was leaving the hand of God and his protection
  • I was leaving the will of God
  • I had been planted in this place that that I could not uproot, move and expect to flourish
  • I was being disobedient and God would not honour me.

A normal religious organization should not have any trouble with you moving to another church because its your faith in Christ that matters, not membership in an organization. You can move to another church and still be a Christian.

However cult leaders will tell you can only be “saved” in their organization alone. No other organization has the truth, all others miss the mark. So it is not the belief system that decides your future, but it the belief system AND your membership with that particular group (Reference).

The cult leaders need to make you believe that there is no where else you can go and still be saved, and if you ever leave the “one true church” then you are going to hell. This is a fear based control mechanism designed to keep you in the cult. It also gives the cult leaders tremendous power over you. If you really believe that leaving the group equals leaving God (or means you are leaving your only chance to succeed in life), then you will obey the cult leaders even when you disagree with them instead of risking being kicked out of the group.

Exclusivism is used as a threat, it controls your behaviour through fear. It also costs you a lot to leave.  Often complete excommunication from family and friends.  It is also very easy living in a cult in many ways because all your decisions are made for you.  Everything is black and white.  If you do ‘A,B and C’ then you will be okay.  You know how to behave and what is expected of you.

‘To disagree with leadership is the same as disagreeing with God. The cult leaders will claim to have direct authority from God to control almost all aspects of your life’. In my case the elders were the messengers, the had the responsibility for your life and the answers for your life, even the deep thoughts of your heart.  To disobey the word of the messenger or the elder is to disobey God.

Guilt, Character Assassination and Breaking Sessions. Guilt will be used to control you. You are brought into meetings with the leaders and you are expected to confess the darkness in your heart.  Even your thoughts.  At times I would confess the most random things.  These are all stored away and kept until they can be used against you as leverage.  It’s always your fault, you are always wrong, and so you must try harder! You will also be made to feel very guilty for disobeying any of the cult’s written or unwritten rules.

Character Assassination is used to help create the guilt in you.

If you are not aware of how Character Assassination works then it is a powerful way to exert control over you. Breaking sessions are when one, two or more cult members and leaders attack the character of another person, sometimes for hours on end. Some cults will not stop these sessions until their victim is crying uncontrollably.

When I was a teenager I would often, sometimes weekly,  be in breaking sessions.  I would go into the Elders office, there would often be other men present, they would proceed to read from a list of accusations that had been ecrued against me.

It would go something like this.

It has been brought to our attention that:

You were heard to be speaking loudly thus bringing attention to yourself at a youth dinner is this true?

You wore a dress that bared your shoulders is this true?

You were 5 min late to a prayer meeting on Thursday is this true?

You were seen talking in a service is this true?

You were moving from side to side in the song service whilst you were singing (swaying), you did this so that you would bring attention to yourself and people would look at you.  You took attention off God and put it on yourself.  Is this true?

We think that you have sin in your heart.  You are rebellious and you are in a rut.  Unless you confess these sins to us and repent we fear for your salvation.  We are trying to help you but we can’t if you keep disobeying us.  You constantly bring attention to yourself, you are proud and have a spirit of rebellion.  You now need to pray and repent publicly and you cannot sing in the choir for 3 months.

The public implications mean that the whole congregation now  know that you are being disciplined, you are suddenly not visible each week like you were previously so something very very bad must have happened.  They are not told WHY you are being disciplined it is more subtle than that.  They are now free to think whatever perverted thing that they want about you and you are labelled.  Then later, if you try to leave or if you try to stand up for yourself or resist you are already branded and suspicion has already arisen about you.  The Elders can say whatever they want about you and the congregation (family and friends) will never question them.

Not long after my husband had died I started to make decisions in my life that would mean I would have to leave the cult.  Immediately the leaders started spreading rumours that I was having an affair whilst my husband was in palliative care.  This meant that when I did leave, I would receive no support or help because I was an adulteress in the worst possible way.

NOBODY questioned this.  Everybody believed the worst and everybody shunned me.

It doesn’t have to be true.  The word of the Elders is enough, their word is infallible and final.

Human hand stretch out from prison bars

“Cults know that if they can control your relationships then they can control you. Whether we like it or not we are all profoundly affected by those around us. When you first go to a cult they will practice “love bombing”, where they arrange instant friends for you. It will seem wonderful, how could such a loving group be wrong! But you soon learn that if you ever disagree with them, or ever leave the cult then you will lose all your new “friends”. This unspoken threat influences your actions in the cult. Things that normally would have made you complain will pass by silently because you don’t want to be ostracized. Like in an unhealthy relationship love is turned on and off to control” (Reference).

Cults also try to cut you off from your friends and family because they hate others being able to influence you. A mind control cult will seek to manoeuvre your life so as to maximize your contact with cult members and minimize your contact with people outside the group, especially those who oppose your involvement.

When my children were small I started walking in the mornings with a group of mothers.  After 12 months I was taken aside.

“Lisa, these women are not in our fellowship and they have not attended the fellowship.  You are forbidden to see them anymore, this walking must stop immediately”.

Those who control the information control the person. In a mind control cult any information from outside the cult is considered evil, especially if it is opposing the cult. Members are told not to read it or believe it. Only information supplied by the cult is true.

I was:

  • Monitored as to how often I was seeing a Doctor as He was seen as a bad influence. “Blessed are the men who walk not in the council of the unGodly”.
  • Family events outside the cult were extremely limited as the cult had first preference of our time.  We could never NOT go to a meeting for any reason.
  • The cult wrote their own songs.
  • The cult wrote their own books, you did not read books from outside spiritual leaders.
  • Not allowed to go to university, I had to attend the cult bible school.

“In a mind control cult like in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia you must be careful of what you say and do; “The walls have ears”. Everyone is encouraged to watch out for “struggling” brothers and sisters and report what they see to leadership. Often information given in deepest confidence is automatically reported to leadership. Cult leaders will then use this information to convince their members that they have a supernatural link, the trusting member does not suspect the very natural mechanism behind the supernatural revelations they are given” (Reference).

Mind control cults keep their members so busy with meetings and activities that they become too busy and too tired to think about their involvement.  Time control also helps the cult keep their members immersed in the manufactured cult environment.

And time control helps keep cult members away from friends and family.

Cultic warning signs

Here are some example of what Cultwatch believes represents mind control and cult warning signs:

Single charismatic leader.

People always seeming constantly happy and enthusiastic. Especially if you discover that they have been told to act that way for the potential new recruits.

Instant friends.

If you are told who you can or cannot talk to or associate with.

They hide what they teach.

Say they are the only true group, or the best so why go anywhere else.

Hyped meetings, get you to meetings rather than share with you.

Experiential rather than logical.

Asking for money for the next level.

If you think that you or a loved one is in a cult.  Please get help.  Go to the cult watch and Cult Consulting Australia, or to your local GP.  Help is available.  You deserve a life of freedom and peace.  I am testament that there is a life after cults and you can get well and have a new life and a fresh start.  God will never leave you or cut you off, this is a lie.

Cult Consulting Australia: cultconsultingaustralia.org

Cult Watch:  http://www.cultwatch.com/cultic-warning-signs.html

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Love Lisa

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6 Comments on “What is a Cult? by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Story: The Path of Courage | Sunday Everyday

  2. Wow, that’s full on. I find cults fascinating on an intellectual level but I have a lot of admiration for anyone who can survive the experience.

    The adulteress label is one thrown around way too easily and I’m pretty sure it’s a form of social control. It reminds me of when I studied Sociology of Deviance and cultures where shaming and peer pressure are used to keep people in line (like John Braithwaite’s theory of reintegrative shaming, which while well-known is also contested).

    I, and several other women I know, have been on the receiving end of that accusation in church – though never by leaders, as far as I know. I’ll spare you my life story on that!

    Liked by 1 person

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