Understanding Cults - Twisted Logic and Foolish Do's and Dont's

Well, it is late, but I was browsing the Internet looking for an old Missionaries Guide to the Bible and somehow stumbled across a website called Understanding Cults. I think it's one of the stupidest articles I have read in a long time. Although I recognize that isolated groups with strange behavior may need supervision, I am not sure how Watchman Fellowship comes off with their article.

Yet, I have gleaned some humor from the site and wanted to share it with you:

Here is the case as presented by the site author. The author defines "cult" with the following definition - "By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals." Thus we see that Watchman Fellowship is itself bound to the dictionary definition of cult. But they go on to explain they are using the modern definition, "In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous." Thus we further see that Watchman Fellowship has chosen to use the pejorative term of "cult" to scare their own members. Especially evidenced from their grouping of examples, sometimes using Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or Seventh Day Adventists as the cult example and at other times using dooms day cults as their example of outlandish behavior.

Watchman Fellowship claims to know the "genuine Jesus". And under the "How to help a cult member the Do's and Dont's" lists some of the following Do's:
  • Do try to keep in regular contact via mail or telephone even if there is little response
  • Do keep a diary of comments, attitudes and events associated with his/her life
  • Do keep copies of all written correspondence from you and the individual
  • Do record all the names, addresses and phone numbers of people linked with the group

Now you may say, "Well these are perfectly well thought out and well founded things to do." But strangely, Watchman Fellowship lists several items that warn you about cults and sadly, their advice above falls into it's own categories of cultish behavior.

Number 1: Watchman Fellowship declares it is the group that knows the "genuine Jesus" and that others do not know the true Jesus. Yet, one of the markers for a cult in their information is that "the group believes it - and only it - knows the truth".

Number 2: Watchman's own Do's may be the catalist for one of the cult identification reasons. The list of Do's above appear to be some sort of freaky "spy on your neighbor" thing. So when the authors write "There is often paranoia within the group... that they are being closely monitored and heavily persecuted by people outside the group." The cults might actually have a case on that one, I mean, who keeps detailed records of the sort advocated by Watchman Fellowship? I mean besides the terrorist watchlists.

Number 3: Some of Watchman's rules create the very "paranoia" they warn against in cults. Look at this often absurd list of Mind Control techniques:

  • Finger Pointing - creating a false sense of righteousness by pointing to the shortcomings of the outside world and other cults (Watchman isn't doing that here, right???)
  • Flaunting Hierarchy - creating acceptance of cult authority by promising advancement, power and salvation (Watchman isn't promising salvation?)
  • Change of Diet - creating disorientation and increased susceptibility to emotional arousal by depriving the nervous system of necessary nutrients through the use of special diets and/or fasting ("This one cometh not out but by prayer and fasting". Watchman doesn't believe in fasting like the apostles of old? The nutrients issue is hilarious - has Watchman checked the congregations waistline recently? If it's like the rest of America its about 54% fatties.)
  • And this is the most ridiculous "Games - inducing dependence on the group by introducing games with obscure rules" (I guess if you've never played Axis and Allies or Settlers of Catan, you'll never have the opportunity now. Watchman is advocating paranoia when it comes to neighbors inviting you over for a new came of Canasta. Watch out for those mind controlling techniques based on complex game rules.)

Anyway, just thought I would post some of my thoughts from reading a website that uses the same scare tactics it despises to harpoon those with a world view different from their own. Make the world a better place Watchman Fellowship by isolating the "others".

1 comment:

appreciable said...

Dear Fleeting_thoughts,

These are excellent and humorous observations! Hypocrisy is such a common thing. I myself am a hypocrite and sinner in many ways. It is comforting to know that the views and feelings of our Father in Heaven are what really matter. We can receive guidance and direction from him through prayer and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. What a wonderful gift from a loving, generous and concerned God.

-Appreciable Goodfaithpoet