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Artsy me - by Micha

In an email this morning

Eight Marks of a Mind-Control Cult
by Randall Watters

Brainwashing has become almost a household word in the last two decades or so. In 1961, Robert J. Lifton wrote the definitive book on the subject, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, after studying the effects of mind control on American prisoners of war under the Communist Chinese. Lifton outlines eight major factors that can be used to identify whether a group is a destructive cult or not. Any authoritarian religion should be held up to the light in order to determine just how destructive their influence is on their members. Judge for yourselves.

Milieu Control
"Milieu" is a French word meaning "surroundings; environment." Cults are able to control the environment around their recruits in a number of ways, but almost always using a form of isolation. Recruits can be physically separated from society, or they can be warned under threat of punishment to stay away from the world's educational media, especially when it might provoke critical thinking. Any books, movies or testimonies of ex-members of the group, or even anyone critical of the group in any way are to be avoided.

Information is carefully kept on each recruit by the mother organization. All are watched, lest they fall behind or get too far ahead of the thinking of the organization. Because it appears that the organization knows so much about everything and everyone, they appear omniscient in the eyes of the recruits.

Mystical Manipulation
In religious cults, God is ever-present in the workings of the organization. If a person leaves for any reason, accidents or ill-will that may befall them are always attributed to God's punishment on them. For the faithful, the angels are always said to be working, and stories circulate about how God is truly doing marvelous things among them, because they are "the truth." The organization is therefore given a certain "mystique" that is quite alluring to the new recruit.

Demand for Purity
The world is depicted as black and white, with little room for making personal decisions based on conscience. One's conduct is modeled after the ideology of the group, as taught in its literature. People and organizations are pictured as either good or evil, depending on their relationship to the cult.

Universal tendencies of guilt and shame are used to control individuals, even after they leave. There is great difficulty in understanding the complexities of human morality, since everything is polarized and oversimplified. All things classified as evil are to be avoided, and purity is attainable through immersion into the cult's ideology.

The Cult of Confession
Serious sins (as defined by the organization) are to be confessed immediately. The members are to be reported if found walking contrary to the rules.

There is often a tendency to derive pleasure from self-degradation through confession. This occurs when all must confess their sins before each other regularly, creating an intense kind of "oneness" within the group. It also allows leaders from within to exercise authority over the weaker ones, using their "sins" as a whip to lead them on.

The "Sacred Science"
The cult's ideology becomes the ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. The ideology is too "sacred" to
call into question, and a reverence is demanded for the leadership. The cult's ideology makes an exaggerated claim for possessing airtight logic, making it appear as absolute truth with no contradictions. Such an attractive system offers security.

Loading the Language
Lifton explains the prolific use of "thought-terminating cliches," expressions or words that are designed to end the conversation or controversy. We are all familiar with the use of the cliches "capitalist" and "imperialist," as used by antiwar demonstrators in the 60's. Such cliches are easily memorized and readily expressed. They are called the "language of non-thought," since the discussion is terminated, not allowing further consideration.

In the Watchtower, for instance, expressions such as "the truth", the "mother organization", the "new system", "apostates" and "worldly" carry with them a judgment on outsiders, leaving them unworthy of further consideration.

Doctrine Over Person
Human experience is subordinated to organizational doctrine, no matter how profound or contradictory such experiences seem. The history of the cult is altered to fit their doctrinal logic. The person is only valuable insomuch as they conform to the role models of the cult. Commonsense perceptions are disregarded if they are hostile to the cult's ideology.

Dispensing of Existence
The cult decides who has the "right" to exist and who does not. They decide who will perish in the final battle of good over evil. The leaders decide which history books are accurate and which are biased. Families can be cut off and outsiders can be deceived, for they are not fit to exist!



Thoughts? Comments?

Comments

WOW

sounds nothing like us....
Do you know who Randal Watters is?

Dont get me wrong, but this is a skewed text. He wants it to look like we are a cult. He's not objective enough to give an accurate argument that can convince me why this should be a valuable writing on our organization. Its just all the cliches put in to a context of what a cult is. Thats not very objective.

And I think on many points, we have changed and that makes the cliches even more visible and pointless.
It is a little biased to read the definition of a cult written by a known apostate. Try Webster's Dictionary which defines a cult as:

"1. A formal religious veneration 2. A system of religious beliefs and rituals also its body of adherents; 3. A religion regarded as "unorthodox or spurious."; 4. A system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator; 5. a: A great devotion to a person, idea, thing; esp.: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad, b: A usually small circle of persons united by devotion or allegiance to an artistic or intellectual movement or figure."

It is a unbiased source. #5 is what we normally associate with cults.

Reading his list i also notice that many of them are items that are found often in mainstream religion. Specifically "purity, language, confession, and doctrine." One could apply those same rules to almost any worship of a deity. Which makes sense considering that 99% of all religions out there are in place to control people.

Ultimately it comes down to belief. What you feel is true. Then make your stand and stick with it.

Mind control is usually premised by humilation and redemption. Brainwashing is far more complicated. But at its basic levels still requires a great deal of emotional manipulation. Emotional manipulation again can be ascociated with pretty much every religion in existance. Well maybe every RELIGION. (all caps..)
At first glance that list can sound a lot like Jehovah's Witnesses. The stuff about ultimate truth, revisionism, encouraged association only within the organization, confession, reporting on other members, keeping files on everyone, etc.

The fact is that most religions to one degree or another also fall into this. It's basically what religion is all about. We know the TRUTH and you're all WRONG type of thinking. Catholicism lacks the power it used to have but imagine fearing hellfire and having to report everything to a priest. That's scary, mindcontroling nonsense right there.

A lot of the behavior of a 'cult' described in this treatise can be backed up by scripture and is therefore what God expects and approves of according to the Bible. Some, but not all. I find the revisionism and the total we-have-ALL-the-answers type of black and white thinking in the organization to be disconcerting. I think the key to having a solid faith is to remain balanced and to put service to Jehovah first rather than unthinking adherence to an organization. The way some Witnesses refer to the organization in motherlike terms in my opinion borders on idolatry.

Many Witnesses have made life-altering decisions solely because of information written in a Watchtower. I think common sense should prevail and anthing read in the publications should be taken as good counsel but hardly the inspired directives of Jehovah himself.
I found this text interesting for a number of reasons, the most prominent being that it is remarkably similar (it may be the EXACT text, though I no longer have the original) to text quoted to me by my parents as to why I shouldn't have anything to do with Jehovah's Witnesses.

The problem with texts like these is that, in my view, they tend to overlook two key issues, namely accountability and free will.

We live in a world guided by rules. A lot of them make no sense whatsoever, but people in a position of power say, "You do this, or don't do this, and we do this or that to you, this will happen to you, etc." So we abide by the rules, mostly to keep order, but when we're tempted to do otherwise, we know we will be held accountable, and have to face the consequences of our choices, good or bad.

Why should Jehovah's organization be any different? I can exercise free will and go my own way, and I know there will be consequences. I'll be disfellowshipped, probably. I'll lose friends. Will I be isolated, cut off from society? Not likely, since the world is full of people making similar choices. I can join them, and make new friends.

But I'm exercising my free will in my choice to serve Jehovah, and I'm accountable to Jehovah ONLY, in the long haul. Am I blindly following the organization's guidance? Hardly. They share the information with me, and I sort and sift through it until I'm convinced it's healthy and beneficial for me to follow it, then I follow it. It's all part of making choices based on solid information, the exercise of my free will, and always being aware of my accountability to Jehovah first and foremost.

So for me there's nothing cult-like at issue where Jehovah's Witnesses are concerned. We all make choices, large ones, small ones. We're all choosing to be accountable to someone, even if that someone, for some people, is just accountability to themselves. And we all know that our choices have consequences. Spiritual things are no different. I think the belief that we can do anything we want and not be held accountable to God is an outcropping of false religious teachings. My life has taught me at every turn that it's up to me to exercise my own free will and that when I do, something will happen as a result. So I'd naturally expect the same from the spiritual choices I make.

LOL that's the end of my rambling...! :)