Once the temple president of Dallas told me that a "cult" is any group that's teaching somebody to not love God. I laughed on the inside, because the man didn't know what he was talking about, but I bit my tongue since I didn't want to start a fight. Now I'll clear things up: a "cult" (in social/psychological terms) is any abusive and controlling group in which one person (or a group of people) has absolute authority over others, without any meaningful accountability. That's exactly what we see in Dallas: the temple council and its individual members have absolute control over the dhama, without being accountable to anybody outside of their neighborhood. The temple president and GBC are the same man, so it's a closed-loop, self-sealed leadership structure in place and as a consequence, there is nobody to whom devotees can go if there are complaints to be made.
Just to keep things precise, here is a very good operationalized definition of a "destructive cult". Dallas ISKCON gets a "check" for almost all of these criteria, and especially the first three and the last two:
]Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".
9. The group/leader is always right.
10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/2020 11:35PM by The Whirlwind.