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You know you’re in a cult if…

July 18, 2010
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The word “cult” is a controversial one, and there has been considerable debate as to what a cult is and is not. Some people (like the Church of Scientology) object to the use of the term at all. Others claim that all religions started as cults, and one should only use the term “new religions.” And some people use the term so broadly that it could be used to describe everything from vegetarians to Miley Cirus fans.

All of which masks a very real problem. There have been and are real cults: the People’s Temple, the Solar Temple, Aum Shinrikyo, Heaven’s Gate, the Unification Church, and many, many others. Sometimes the true danger of these groups was revealed only after the worst happened – mass suicides or murders. But years of prior abuse went unnoticed, sometimes masked by slick PR.

So what is a cult? How do you spot one? And, most importantly, how do you know if you’re in one? Well, I’ve been studying the subject, on and off, for the last five years, since I left the Church of Scientology. I’ve read a number of books and articles on the subject, trying to make some sense of it. Here’s my own analysis of seven points that define a cult:

Isolation: Most cult groups have a way of gradually isolating their members from non-members. Members are encouraged to spend more time with other group members, and less time with friends and family who are not group members. With increasing involvement and commitment, group members tend to socialize with, and even work with, only other group members. One’s ability to communicate to non-group members atrophies, and communication to non-group family and friends becomes awkward. Group members start to think of their non-group family and friends in whatever negative term the group applies to the outside world: “bourgeois society,” “unbelievers,” “wogs,” etc.

Most cults also have a method of isolating members from former members who have left the group. Expelled or escaped members are denounced and demonized by the group. They are considered enemies and non-people, “agents of Satan,” etc. Members are forbidden to communicate to them, on threat of being expelled themselves. “Shunning” ex-members is common to most cults.

Do you find yourself associating socially or professionally only with members of your group? Are you associating less and less with non-group family or friends? Are you forbidden to see family or friends who are ex-members? If so, chances are, you’re in a cult.

Information Control: A free flow of information is the enemy of any cult, therefore cults always attempt to censor and control the flow of information to their members. Not only are cult members discouraged from reading outside sources of information (which are “from Satan”), they are fed a constant false mythology about the cult and its leaders. Membership numbers are exaggerated. The influence of the cult in the world is fabricated and exaggerated. The leader’s reputation is embellished. Members are told to read and listen only to cult sources of information, and never to look at outside information about the cult.

At the same time, the activities of the cult leadership are shrouded in mystery? Who is running the group? Who makes decisions? Where does the money go? Members are not allowed to know these things.

Does your group attempt to tell you what you can and cannot read, watch, or listen to? Does  your group demonize outside sources of information? Is your group secretive about their operations and finances? Does your group make unverifiable boasts about its size and accomplishments? If so, chances are, you’re in a cult.

Black and White Thinking: To a cult, the world is black and white, with no shades of grey. The cult and its leaders are always good and well-intentioned. Outsiders are bad, ignorant, misled or evil. Anyone questioning, challenging or criticizing cult beliefs is an enemy to be destroyed. Cult members come to think of themselves as superior to those outside the cult, and this can bring out a judgmental and self-righteous attitude in cult members, an “us versus them” attitude.  People either agree with and approve of the cult, or they are enemies.

If you think of your group and its leaders as perfect, beyond reproach or criticism, and if you automatically think that anyone who questions your group or its leaders or doctrine is an enemy to be destroyed, chances are, you’re in a cult.

Suspension of Critical Thinking: Some try to define a cult as “a group whose beliefs and practices are considered strange.” That’s pretty vague, as many groups, including most major religions, believe in things that might be considered strange by outsiders. Who cares what people believe? That’s not the point. What makes a cult, in my mind, is that the group does not permit members to question, challenge, or even think about core beliefs.

While some cults make a show of saying things like “you can accept or reject the Master’s words”  to new recruits, the fact is that rejecting the Master’s words is not an option as one becomes more and more involved. Disagreements are handled condescendingly – you “don’t fully understand,” you “have to ascend to a higher consciousness to really understand,” and so on. Anyone who persists in disagreeing or challenging the Master’s words is eventually ostracized and shunned.

In a cult, the Leader and the Doctrine is always perfect. Any failure is the fault of the individual member, who is flawed and imperfect.

When someone asks you for your opinion, do you tend to quote or paraphrase something the Leader wrote rather than thinking it through for yourself? When faced with critical decisions in your life do you work it out yourself, or do you tend to ask “what would the Leader do?” Do conversations between group members sometimes consist of quoting the Leader to each other? If you were to voice a disagreement with the Leader or Master, would you be looked down upon, shunned, or even ostracized? If so, chances are, you’re in a cult.

A Culture of Confession: Confession is a powerful experience, and is a key part of many religions. One confesses one’s sins in confidence, is heard and receives forgiveness. It can be a tremendous relief.  That’s not how cults use confession. They use it for control. The member is expected to open up and completely expose all of their sins, transgressions, bad thoughts and so on.  The boundary between private and public is destroyed. Cult leadership wants to have each member’s intimate secrets so as to control them through guilt, shame, and fear. Nothing is ever forgiven.

Does your group require that you confess your most intimate secrets? Do members spend many hours in confessions? Is the information ever used by the group to silence former members? If so, chances are, you’re in a cult.

Control: Cults try to increasingly control the lives of their members, to blur the boundaries between self and group. The cult tries to get members to re-frame their own lives in terms of the cult’s absolutist, black versus white worldview. Thus there are no personal choices, every choice is a group choice. Should I buy a car? Should I send my son to college? Everything becomes judged in terms of “what’s best for the group.” The group lays claim to your time, your money, your resources.

Has your group ever criticized you for buying a car or sending your child to college instead of giving that money to the group? Has your group ever pressured you to divorce someone? To stop seeing someone? Have you ever been made to feel guilty for going to a movie or a party or going on vacation instead of engaging in group activity? Have you ever been pressured to take out a second mortgage and give the money to the group? Or to give an inheritance to the group? If so, chances are, you’re in a cult.

Perfection of the Leader: Some definitions of cults talk about “following a charismatic leader.” Well, that’s a little vague. After all, Steve Jobs could be considered a charismatic leader and few would call Apple a cult.  No, in a true cult, the leader is not just charismatic or admired, he (or she) is perfect and flawless. The Leader can make no mistake.  Any failure is the fault of underlings or “the work of Satan.” The leader’s words are always true and right and brilliant. He never lies. His intentions are always pure. Anything the Leader produces is amazing and wonderful. Any forward progress or success of the group is always due to the Leader.  To question or criticize the leader is an enemy action.

Money, fancy clothes, luxurious houses and cars, personal service are all his by right. No one may question his wealth and power.

Is your leader perfect? Has your leader ever admitted a mistake? What would happen if you publicly voiced some criticism of your group’s leader? Would you be reported? Disciplined?  If so, then chances are, you’re in a cult.

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48 Comments
  1. Kingair350 permalink
    July 18, 2010 4:16 am

    Jeff, you got me at #1.

    I’d call these points the Indies first A to J Checklist. If your answers are all “No”, realize you’re a bot, select your own flavor of Koolaid and continue swilling it down.

    If you answer “yes” to one or more, realize that you’re somewhere on the Bridge to Recovery.

  2. Karen#1 permalink
    July 18, 2010 5:11 am

    I responded to your post on Marty’s Blog but the page changed, so I am cross posting it with additions.

    Jeff:

    All SO members assigned to the RPF are not permitted to speak to any Scientologist, Sea Org Member, or anyone outside the RPF.

    All communication is cut. A Husband or wife is cut off from talking to a spouse for years.
    It often results in a divorce, the one outside the RPF divorcing the one within.

    There are no days off. Not even Christmas or New Years Day. Meal times are 20 mins. Oliver Twist slop, leftovers from crew food. No walking is permitted, RPFers have to run at all times, destination to destination.

    An RPF assignment often lasts years – 7 years, 8 years sometimes more. Nancy Many just posted on this page, an RPFer that emerged after 13 years in that hell.

    There is extensive hard labor in the RPF and very harsh ethics for any misdemeanor. In the past, while in the RPF, if you asked to leave the Church, (Sea Org) you would be assigned to the RPF’s RPF which is 6 hours sleep a night and HEAVIER and HEAVIER slave labor, with no communication (total isolation) from even other RPFers. There have been SO members for as long as 7-8 months in utter isolation in the RPF’s RPF.

    On the Flag ship Apollo, the original RPF was a 3 month cycle ~~ almost a vacation with 5 hours a day of study and enhancement and if you went over 3 months, the crew would tease the RPFers for taking an extended vacation !!!!

    There was free communication at all times between RPFers and crew on the Apollo. The maximum amount of Apollo RPFers was 6 -12 at any given time, and they came right back out and went back on post in a few short months sometimes less than 12 weeks.

    The DRACONIAN abuse that Miscavige has created within the RPF is a modern day horror story. Under the guise of “Religious SO contract”.

    Added note :::

    But DM takes it a step further. Communication is cut CUT CUT within the Sea Org !

    RTC may not “fraternize” with CMO I or GOLD within INT BASE.
    RTC members are asked to divorce their spouse if the spouse is not posted within RTC or get kicked out of RTC.

    There is the situation where 2 RTC SO members are married. One gets busted down to CMO I or GOLD. The remaining RTC member must now divorce or be demoted downwards.

    WHAT IS THIS ???????
    On the Flag Ship Apollo, any lowly engine room engineer or deckie could talk to the top of the Org Board ~ Staff Captain or Commodore’s Aides one on one anytime, anywhere without any “CLASS” differentiation. LRH would talk to any staff member high or low with high ARC. As did Mary Sue.

    This is all DM made up rubbish. DM perversions, DM alterations of LRH legacy.

    13 years in the RPF ~~ my God. (someone just graduated after 13 years)

    DM and LOU >>>>Office of COB >>> RTC INT Base Warren McShane Legal Director and the remaining 12 in RTC>>>>>Tracy Danilovich ILO RTC >>>> OSA INT

    THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND

  3. July 18, 2010 6:15 am

    What’s so cultish about Falun Gong? Did you mean Aum Shinrikyo?

    • Jeff permalink*
      July 18, 2010 5:00 pm

      Good point, yes, Aum Shinrikyo is a much better example. Falun Gong was fairly benign.

  4. July 18, 2010 6:37 am

    Jeff,

    If this isn’t an eye opener, I don’t know what would be.

    I’ve been out for a full year as of July 21st (not that I’m keeping track or anything), yet I still had to pause a few times while reading, to fully absorb what my mind had just taken in.

    Miscavige factually receives what could be described as an uncanny resemblence to the type of hero worship described above.

    Any current, on-lines public brave enough to peek at this article will surely experience a heavy dose of hard, cold reality (quite possibly for the first time in a very long time), because there is no doubt that Scientology’s current leader is the leader of a cult.

    There is no doubt that all 7 points above spell out the word “Scientology” perfectly in its current form.

    And there is no doubt that people are waking up from what they will soon recognize as a very bad dream, indeed.

    Thanks for the work done to produce this valuable piece!

    IO

  5. Fidelio permalink
    July 18, 2010 9:13 am

    Jeff,

    spot on analysis. And when it comes to the leader of our cult, we need to look at Hubbard and put him against the cult characteristics as well.

    I for myself got the most, deepest and quickest insights on what is going on in the CoS by the writings of a Russian author – Vadim Zeland.

    His 4 books are titled “Transurfing” – an enormously interesting read about “3rd Dynamics” (to put it in Scientologese) or how he puts it about “Reality Transurfing”

    His website has big sections in English, Russian (obviously), German, French, Swedish and Italian

    http://zelands.com/

    with whole chapters out of the books which give an excellent slant and inroad on what he describes.

    It ties wonderfully in what you cristalize out – and to me it had quite some value, since its language is of course written completely outside SCN lingo and thus detaches one beautifully from that, too.

    Very interesting and à propos read.

    Thanks, Jeff – again an astute analysis out of your pen.

    Best, Fidelio

    • Marta permalink
      July 19, 2010 12:28 pm

      Fidelio,

      Thanks for the pointer to Zelands. I’m adding him to my reading list.

      Marta

      • Fidelio permalink
        July 20, 2010 5:27 pm

        your welcome, Marta 🙂
        Fidelio

  6. Anonymous permalink
    July 18, 2010 11:48 am

    This is excellent Jeff. A concise and direct summation of how littleness of thought, categorizing and confining ideas can lead to a group of like-minded folk transforming over time into a cult. Sometimes I see this in creeping into the Indie movement’s exchanges…. like you said, “When someone asks you for your opinion, do you tend to quote or paraphrase something the Leader wrote rather than thinking it through for yourself? When faced with critical decisions in your life do you work it out yourself, or do you tend to ask “what would the Leader do?” Do conversations between group members sometimes consist of quoting the Leader to each other? If you were to voice a disagreement with the Leader or Master, would you be looked down upon, shunned, or even ostracized? ”

    Beware of hierarchies as they tend to take their organizational structure of top-down thinking seriously when it comes to lording over those “below”, eventually implementing the altitude of thought into an attitude of altitude-control, so perfectly described in the Control section of your piece.

    Also, my observation is that any group which claims to have a monopoly on “The Truth” and it’s “their way or the highway”, if not at the time, will in time, become a cult. It’s a natural progression because of the nature of man.

    All the points above are indeed “red flags” one need consider when joining any religious or spiritual movement.

    • Marta permalink
      July 18, 2010 5:41 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree. I think it will take a good deal of time and much concerted effort on the part of each individual to be both aware of the cult-mind behaviors and tendancies in others and in ourselves, and work to unlearn old patterns/responses and develop new healthier ones.

      I think the cult-mind behaviors present themselves like prejudiced behaviors and, as such, need to be constantly brought to light and dealt with, with tolerance, understanding, compassion, humility, and resoluteness.

      We really do have to BE the change, create the differences, we want to see. Our new groups aren’t going to be perfect and I love that – so long as we remain honest and open with each other there’s a chance for real change. Closed mindedness will only produce the same result we got before.

      As do the individuals, so do the groups. On the biggere scale we really are all in it together, may we continue to learn.

      • Fidelio permalink
        July 18, 2010 6:20 pm

        Marta,

        YES!!!!

        Best, Fidelio

  7. Aeolus permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:22 pm

    Scientology under LRH gets a mixed review. It seemed to be trending toward more cultishness as time went on. Under Miscavige, no question. Cult, cult, cult. It meets every point you’ve listed. And the Int base from what I’ve heard is just over the top, North Korea on steroids.

    I think there are two reasons why all of Scientology hasn’t become like the Int base, although that must be the ideal scene in the mind of Miscavige. First, the little dictator can’t put razor wire around every org and keep people there against their will. Second, he wants it to be the Cult of Miscavige, not the Cult of LRH, and that transition has to be done on a very careful gradient. He’s already overstepped it for many people, and they’ve popped out of the bubble. For one thing, he’s never done anything, ever, to command the kind of respect most of us have felt for Hubbard.

    What I expect will happen soon is that under pressure from the blogs like this one, and continued exposure of his horrendous behavior, the man will drop the gradient approach and try a “straight up and vertical” grab for the sworn allegiance of every public Scientologist to him personally. Of course, what will go straight up and vertical at that point will be the ranks of the independent and ex-Scientologists.

    • Gandiguy permalink
      July 18, 2010 11:50 pm

      Aeolus,
      Perhaps we should all donate money and buy a big building to handle the huge inflow that is coming?

      • John Doe permalink
        July 19, 2010 7:19 pm

        LOL! New building for the independents! Except instead of “straight up and vertical” how about “laid back and horizontal”?

      • Fidelio permalink
        July 20, 2010 12:18 pm

        John Doe,

        laid back and horizontal?
        Priceless!! Thanks for that big laugh!!
        Fidelio

      • Aeolus permalink
        July 22, 2010 1:28 am

        Ghandiguy,

        You might be kidding about the big building, but it’s occurred to me that a ‘safe house’ near the PAC Base and/or the Int Base would be very useful as the first stop on an underground railroad. Somebody escaping the RPF or Int probably needs some extra sleep, a few good meals and a low-stim environment before they have to confront their next move. A bit of real-world counseling might be useful too. Anybody who joined the SO in their teens is probably missing a lot of basic data for day-to-day living outside of the cult.

        In my fantasy world, Tom Cruise pops out of his PTSness to the little dictator, sees that he needs to do a major amends, and decides to fund this underground railroad. From that point, there’s no shortage of talent in our group to make it work.

    • Just Me permalink
      July 21, 2010 12:40 am

      Aeolus, now that’s a great question: What might David Miscavige do to further his personal power?

      1. As you’ve suggested, he’d ask that all Co$ members sign a statement of allegiance to David Miscavige personally.

      2. He’d ask for every Co$ member to become bonded and agree to NEVER criticize David Miscavige or his actions. Ever. No matter what.

      3. He’d insist that all marriages performed within the Co$ be subject to divorce at the decree of David Miscavige.

      4. He’d insist that all Co$ parents sign their parental rights over to David Miscavige, shortly after their birth. Sort of a “christening” transfer, if you will.

      5. He’d allow married couples have intercourse ONLY once a year, near the summer solstice — and then for the purpose of procreating future SO members.

      6. He’d personally design a vanity “I love David Miscavige” license plate issue in California and Florida and require that all Co$ members purchase and display them on all their motor vehicles. If Co$ members are found to be driving a car without such a license plate, they will be sent to ethics immediately.

      7. He’d design an “I love David Miscavige” candles to be lighted in an alcove in the reg areas of all the ideal orgs of the world, where Co$ members would be expected to keep a ILDM candle lighted the entire time they are in the org.

      8. He’d design “I love David Miscavige” hairshirts to be worn under Co$ members’ clothing when they are on course. Wearing these ILDM hairshirts at all other times (including when one is in bed and, particularly, when having sex) can be used by Co$ members to offset any lower conditions they might incur for having sex at times other than the summer solstice.

      (I could go on, but I won’t.)

      Just Me

  8. Mary Jo permalink
    July 18, 2010 3:48 pm

    Thank you Jeff, this is brilliant!

    I remember realizing I was in a cult when I saw the women from that polygamist group on TV a couple of years back – the braids and almost uniform-style dresses, afraid to talk, in agony because their children had been removed by social services. I saw such fear and saw myself in their faces. I may not have had braids or dressed like that but I was still confined in a “compound” – mine made of glass walls since I was public. My thoughts, actions, non-actions and regular living was constantly questioned and censored. I had to justify, explain, lie,about so many personal decisions.

    But mostly I was very unhappy. So I would add that to the list. It is equivalent to being in an abusive relationship A very abusive one!

    And if you look at Scns they are so unhappy! Also so resentful of anyone who is.

    The glass walls do eventually crack!

    • Fidelio permalink
      July 18, 2010 6:05 pm

      Mary Jo,

      very much so, very much so.
      Years ago, I stumbled into a meeting of some Buddhist Cult (in a hotel) and you could smell the stench of angst emanating from the participants hurling around to please their guru lecturing.

      When I entered my local “Ideal Org” shortly after its opening some three years ago, I smelled the same stench from the staff, and I knew that that won’t ever be an “Island of Sanity”. The stench from angst and terror. And constant outright hostility towards public who won’t give even € 100,– for something or other “since € 100,– is ALWAYS possible” when it comes to “clear the planet”.

      It is only recently that I really start to understand the genesis and anatomy of a cult thanks to a blog like that one of Jeff. That made me look – (and look further and discover Vadim Zeland’s Transurfing I mentioned above.)

      YES! The glass walls DO eventually crack!

      • Mary Jo permalink
        July 18, 2010 7:06 pm

        You are right, Fidelio, there is an actual stench to this phenomenon. It becomes so clear why people avoid not only the subject but also the buildings. So no matter how “pretty” you make them, they still will smell!

    • Another Layer permalink
      July 18, 2010 9:14 pm

      Mary Jo,

      “My thoughts, actions, non-actions and regular living was constantly questioned and censored. I had to justify, explain, lie,about so many personal decisions. / But mostly I was very unhappy.”

      Amen to that!

      Around the mid-90’s about half of my family (none of whom are Scientologists) started benignly questioning my continued involvement in Scn. I continued to reply with the same old evasive cult answers. For the most part, they were gentle and didn’t push too hard; but by early 2000 for two of them it was too much … they lost all respect and stopped associating with me, but did not tell me why. In hindsight, from several comments they made it’s clear that they had read the internet. No wonder they thought I was out of my mind! LOL.

      So here’s a subset to Jeff’s point on Information Control: You know you are in a cult when your non-cult friends and family start treating you very very gently or like you have stripped more than a few gears … because they are ALL better informed than you are (including the 9-year olds)!

      • Mary Jo permalink
        July 19, 2010 2:33 pm

        Wow, that is so true! They go from being worried to masking all concerns as they don’t want to alienate you or lose you. My family and non-Scn friends were SO relieved when I told them I had left organized Scientology, it was a massive sigh of relief! I had no idea they had been so concerned — or rather, I had ignored it because I had ceased to observe and feel anything in that direction, just like you said. Hmmm, is that being brain-washed? 🙂

        Can you recover those 2 family members that moved away?

    • Suzanne permalink
      July 19, 2010 5:55 am

      Mary Jo – you reminded me of something I had forgotten – that terrible resentfulness that Scientologists felt toward non-Scns who were “happy”. To Scientologists, these people were not really happy, they were:

      1. Glib
      2. Not-ising the terrible state of this planet, and therefore delusional
      3. Actually in the tone of “Contentment” (not very high toned)
      4. Theetie Weetie

      To a Scientologist, it was NOT POSSIBLE for a non-Scientologist to be happy! There had to be some underlying “reason” they were “happy” without Scientology. The only people who could supposedly experience happiness were Scientologists – yet I rarely ever observed happy church members! Mostly, everyone was in uber-stress mode. No time for joy. Or love. Or happiness.

      Anyhow, thanks, Jeff, for revealing more of the cultish think.

      • John Doe permalink
        July 19, 2010 7:38 am

        For me, the explanation of why non scn’gists could be so infuriatingly happy was that “they hadn’t had their cases opened yet.” I don’t know where I got this explanation or if I made it up, but boy, as a stable datum it sure fell apart when I observed that some people all the way up the grade chart didn’t look all that happy at times. Or that I didn’t like to talk to them too much.

      • Mickey permalink
        July 19, 2010 12:37 pm

        Suzanne…. the “reasoning” I heard most often was they were “PTS to the middle class”. If there ever was an idea that got my goat, it’s this one! While in, the effect it had was you couldn’t just be normal and be a regular human without feeling the guilt from a self-imposed label of being PTS to some vague idea of what most of one’s society is!

        What’s the alternative?….. mentally separate oneself out and try and feel like you’re part of an “upper class”? Weird science and fuzzy logic! The demeaned “middle classes” were more loving, kinder and had more money, time and freedom than most CofS folk upon honest observation, so were “upper” to begin with! How crazy confusing this all was at the time.

        Cult-think…. good word for what our inner working process became over time.

      • Mary Jo permalink
        July 19, 2010 2:34 pm

        Spot-on Suz!

    • Another Layer permalink
      July 19, 2010 7:58 pm

      Mary Jo,

      “Can you recover those 2 family members that moved away?”

      Thanks for asking … I sure do hope so! I miss them both tremendously. The plan is disclosure to those closest to me and then wait and see where the ripples go. That *should* bring them out because they will want to mull it over and then verify. Convoluted and frustrating, but that’s produced the most change in the past. (Who knows … maybe they will read this post! After all, they did read the internet years before me. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?!)

      • Mary Jo permalink
        July 20, 2010 12:35 am

        Oh that would be a hoot! All you’d have to say to them is “I am ‘Another Layer'”!

        It WILL all dissolve once you come out in the open. And you will have a better and bigger relationship than ever! That is what I bet on! 🙂

      • Another Layer permalink
        July 20, 2010 2:08 am

        Mary Jo,

        Thanks so much! Big hug!

      • Fidelio permalink
        July 20, 2010 12:22 pm

        Mary Jo,

        let me repeat myself – you are such a beautiful person!!
        And yes, we will probably once meet over the big pond and I look forward to that!

        My very best, Fidelio

  9. Another Layer permalink
    July 18, 2010 8:36 pm

    Jeff,
    Perfect timing for this beautifully written article. It’s been about a year since I cringed, said “oh, what the hell, it is MY eternity after all,” and pressed Enter. I still stop myself midstream to question the old reliable cult answers that continue to pop up … Hmm, but what do I think? Is it now (or was it ever) workable? Does it help? It’s become a constant process of separating the wheat from the chaff. So this article is a great reality check and I plan to share it. Thanks!

  10. Sinar permalink
    July 18, 2010 10:16 pm

    Jeff,

    Thanks for another brilliant article.

    On the subject of perfection – You’re quite correct that in the two decades that I’ve known DM, there has never been an apology or error he made.

    This perfection manifests itself in having others “re-do” things, starting from a couple of decades ago due to wrong whys. You remember having to re-do the SO basics because of excessive rain causing floods as a start, Vol 0, PTS/SP, Study Certainty no matter how many times you did the St Hat?

    Perhaps due to this fixation on perfection it seems that re-doing things is the total pattern being run to redo their entire grade chart from OT levels, Clear to purif and objectives. Perhaps one has to redo the intro to Mestology next! Perhaps that’s another characteristic of being in a cult – having to constantly re-do things!

    • lunamoth permalink
      July 19, 2010 5:29 am

      Sinar,

      Perhaps the aspect of being in a cult that you’re describing here, though you’re doing it tongue-in-cheek, is the incessant flow from members to the leader, the constant need on the part of the leader to be contributed to. I think that definitely qualifies as a characteristic of a cult!

      When I first became interested in scientology, it was made clear to me that paying for this “applied
      spiritual philosophy” might be completely unlike the practice of any other religion I knew of, but it was correct to do so in that it allowed me to exchange for the valuable tech and services I would receive. At that point, I may have been dealing with a cult, but it didn’t feel like it to me.

      At some later point I realized that no matter how much I contributed, whether it was my time, talents, money or other, it would NEVER BE ENOUGH. That was because the flow from a public person to “the church” was a flow stuck open, while the flow from the church to the public was sporadic at best. As a public, I was expected to be on course, fsming, volunteering, getting auditing or working at a job to earn money to make one or more of those things possible, AT ALL TIMES.

      I have never owned a custom motorcycle, nor lived in a grand home, nor had a personal chiropractor (even when I needed one badly). I have gone months without a haircut, never mind a personal hairdresser, and I don’t own one article of 100% Egyptian cotton clothing. Yet we have all been expected to be, at all times, flowing something to the church/dm in order to make those things possible for miscavige.

      So when you say ” Perhaps that’s another characteristic of being in a cult – having to constantly re-do things!” I think you are right. Having all public redo their bridges guarantees a constant and unending flow of money and power to dm. Such a flow is absolutely necessary to the continued survival of a cult whose name has been poisoned with the public, and which is attracting fewer and fewer new members while losing thousands of longtime adherents and their credit cards.

      Dm knows there is no future in disseminating to the public. His only hope is to drain every last drop of life’s blood from the remaining faithful, and that is what he’s doing. So, yes, having to constantly redo things, making possible a never-ending stream of contributions to the leader, a flow that goes only one way, should be listed as a characteristic of a cult. The group, the leader and the doctrine are All. The cult member’s only valid purpose is to support them. I think that sums up the experience of membership in the c of m pretty well.

      • Mary Jo permalink
        July 19, 2010 2:46 pm

        Lunamoth, bingo! That is exactly what it became for me.

        After that last IAS interview I had, I realized I was simply viewed as an OBJECT, and the property of the Sea Org and the organizations. In addition nothing belonged to ME, their attitude was it all belonged to them- not only my own possessions but also any future production and unearned as yet income!

      • Sinar permalink
        July 19, 2010 9:48 pm

        LM,

        That’s exactly right! In one of Geir’s accounts of his meeting with DM at the Heritage where he was offered the top post in Norway duplicates the very attitude DM has for public – Geir is a very sharp cookie. Always wondered if the public perceived it.

        Seen countless picture taking at the IAS fleecings with his attitude of superior and veiled contempt to public hidden behind his pearly whites – there were dentists on staff at Int and Flag who cleaned teeth for the speakers at events before they left the base.

        The Chiro was Stephen Price and Hollywood hair guy’s name was Levon. A pro make up artist also was gotten when the one at Gold for years got RPFed for a mess up. There was also a Pro hired bodyguard, exLAPD VIP protection specialist to keep him safe in public as a perk, when away from the Int Base.

    • Another Layer permalink
      July 19, 2010 8:59 pm

      Sinar,

      Yes! And thank you! Perfection being unattainable, then following Miscavige’s methods no one gets to truly complete their own Bridge cycle. Then of course Tech products don’t get to migrate out into the world at large, which IMO is where they belong. And it also seems that the datum (paraphrasing here) “number of times over material equals certainty,” while true, has been taken out of context and hobby-horsed to an absurd extreme by Miscavige; thus bypassing Qual’s correction function. Not to mention inspection before the fact.

      Off my soapbox now … it just all came together.

      • Jeff permalink*
        July 19, 2010 9:08 pm

        Miscavige version: “the number of times you pay for the same materials and services equals my certainty that I have you under control.”

      • Sinar permalink
        July 19, 2010 9:50 pm

        You got it AL & Jeff – perfect line!

  11. July 19, 2010 12:24 am

    Sinar,

    Great points!

    Also, constantly redoing things means constant new money for C of Mest.

    IO

    • lunamoth permalink
      July 19, 2010 2:47 pm

      Idle Org – Perfectly succinct! LOL!

      lunamoth

  12. crisis-o-matic permalink
    July 19, 2010 12:37 pm

    In addition to their their xenophobic nature, it seems that cults often preach an environment of existential conflict and instill a “war mentality” in their members. This is an effective psychological manipulation tool for enhancing loyalty to the leader, stifling doubt and criticism of any kind, and whipping members into a state of agitated turmoil with little regard for their own personal welfare.

    They create an atmosphere of omnipresent emergency, subjecting members to relentless demands amid extreme urgency. In that mindset, there are dangerous enemies and grave dangers present, often to the level of threatening the very future of the human race, and therefore requiring all-out effort to prevail. The clock is always ticking in this noble battle, and there’s no time to waste. As the rest of the world has been hopelessly corrupted, they alone offer the only solution to this impending crisis.

    • Fidelio permalink
      July 19, 2010 6:00 pm

      yes, crisis – o – matic,

      constant chaos mongering and emergency footing on “crisis-o-matic” 🙂

      Your name gave me an amused smile on my face, Fidelio

  13. July 19, 2010 10:21 pm

    Due to the E-meter, I can offer the suggestion that Scn is, perhaps, the most dangerous cult of all (under a sociopath like DM, that is), because it really does assist to accurately get to the heart and soul of people’s overts. As in, right down to the minute details, spreading across the gamut of all eight dynamics.

    Add to that the currently popular inferrence that you will be PTS and fail if you have any w/holds whatsoever.

    Add to that the currently popular inferrence that even thinking bad thoughts is worthy of being sent to the E/O and will prevent case gain until you “get out of lowers and make a donation or join staff”.

    And add to that the currently popular, innacurate general inferrence that OT’s can basically read your mind. (For lower Bridge, or newer folks, this is particularly upsetting).

    Now, add it all together and you have a fearful, introverted, propitiative, out-of-valence individual who will robotically say yes to almost anything to save his eternity. And if he still has a shred of integrity and says “no”, he will quickly feel people he thought were his friends, ridging up against him next time he walks into the org. He may also find himself the target of smear campaigns.

    In short, the church’s current operating basis is driving people, to a degree, INSANE!

  14. Marc Abian permalink
    July 20, 2010 7:24 am

    Great article with some terrific insight, Jeff.

    I do have to disagree with you on one point, however. Plenty of people consider Apple a cult!

    • Jeff permalink*
      July 20, 2010 6:30 pm

      Ha ha. Well at least Jobs doesn’t beat up his employees – as far as we know!

      • July 20, 2010 7:49 pm

        No, you have to be a TAX-FREE cult to be able to beat people up!
        🙂

  15. earthmother permalink
    July 21, 2010 1:46 pm

    Great article, Jeff. I agree with all your points, and I love the additional info from crisis-o-matic. That was something that just never sat well with me, the extreme urgency. I never saw the world as messed up as I was told it was, and that made me question my reality. Was I blind, or were they over reacting?!

    A bit off topic, but wanted to share this…I shredded all of my certs yesterday. As they are printed on a nice heavy stock, I thought it would make great bedding for my worm compost, but then I thought better of it. What if my worms got sick from eating the foil that is used on so many of the certs? lol! I have a stack of congress and basics certs yet to shred, and they will go into the recycling as well, as I have no idea what kind of inks that were used. And I can’t quite stomach the thought that someday I would be ‘eating’ those certs if I used them in my compost for my garden! I am realizing that the CoS has no place for me in any of my dynamics.

    • lunamoth permalink
      July 22, 2010 3:21 am

      Wow, Earthmother. That says it all, doesn’t it?

      (Glad you mentioned those inks … my own certs were headed for the compost pile. Thought I could at least make DIRT out of them. Apparently they aren’t even useful for that purpose).

      lunamoth

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