Sorry, but it takes time to get posts through at times depending upon who is moderating etc.
I have absolutely no connection to Meridian whatsoever. Not in any way, shape or form.
The Lifespring connection you mention is disturbing.
Lifespring was an LGAT that was essentially sued out of business over personal injury claims.
It is true that a number of LGATs have made their way into corp. training. This includes Ladmark Education and other groups.
Typically, and LGAT is not a "cult" though it may seem "cult-like" regarding aspects of its training methodology.
Specifically, this would include coercive persuasion techniques, also often used by groups called "cults."
If an LGAT has a weekend or some other form of a three to four day seminar they may do such things as...
Rely upon an "intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance."
"Use of an organized peer group" to pressure participants.
"Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity."
And ultimately manipulate "the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified."
This is often called "brainwashing" or coercive persuasion.
As outlined by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton coercive persuasion or thought reform can also be seen through eight operating features...
1. Control of communication
2. Emotional and behavioral manipulation
3 Demands for absolute conformity to behavior prescriptions derived from the ideology
4. Obsessive demands for confession
5. Agreement that the ideology is faultless
6. Manipulation of language in which cliches substitute for analytic thought
7. Reinterpretation of human experience and emotion in terms of doctrine
8. Classification of those not sharing the ideology as inferior and not worthy of respect.
Most LGATs would not fit Lifton's prevailing definition of a "cult" becasue they don't have "a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power."
Such a defining and absolute leader would be someone like Jim Jones, David Koresh or Charles Manson.
It doesn't seem that Meridian has such a defining leader that becomes an absolute authoriy beyond question for those involved. In this sense Meridian may not be a "cult" per se.
Perhaps it does fit Lifton's other two criteria though, which would be (2) use of what he calls "thought reform" and (3) exploiting those involved in some way and/or causing participants harm.
Again, you may mean "Kool-aid drinkers" as a sort of slang jargon. But it's important to make a few distinctions.
All "cults" are not the same, and only a few are as extreme as the followers of Jim Jones who drank the "Kool-aid."
Thanks for explaining some of your concerns about Meridian.