Destructive, but not a cult?
Date: July 26, 2004 06:42AM
Okay. Before I left a particular church organization, I began to see it as a cult. Now, I call it a cult. I am curious if it is thought here that it truly was a cult.
1. The organization's original two leaders were charismatic and were basically idolized, although the later three organization leaders seem to command less such esteem.
2. The pastors in its individual churches demand complete control of those who are members within those churches, but they follow what the organization's leaders say they must do/teach. If they do not, they know their jobs are absolutely on the line. I personally know some who have lost their jobs because they followed their consciences rather than the main leaderwhip's dicatates, even in matters of music style.
3. If any member questioned their rules of membership, that member was said to be a trouble-maker and was treated as such. If they continued to question, or if they acted upon their questions, they were made to feel very uncomfortable until they left the organization.
4. In fact, if any of those who preached in that organization were questioned, the questioner was marked as a trouble-maker and was treated as such. The preachers were not to be questioned or called to account for their actions by members, no matter what.
5. The members were told that they could not hold Bible studies in their own homes. If secret Bible studies were discovered, they were disbanded. If the leader refused, those who attended were told not to continue attending. If they continued, they were made to feel very uncomfortable until they left the organization.
6. Occasional sexual abuse occurred, but when the victims told, the leadership was always completely supported, and the victim was made to feel very uncomfortable until they left the organization.
7. The members were discouraged from going to other churches and were told not to use other churches' materials. The organization supplied such needs, to the best of their abilities, so that the people would not find other materials necessary.
8. Tithing and gifts were taught as part of being a member. We were told not to designate our giving, because they knew best. We were even told to do all our giving to the church and not to other entities.
9. We were specifically told that the church was our family and members were kept busy there, as they called it "G-d's work." In teachings that were supposed to help us prioritize our lives, line one, #1, was always "God -- Church"; line two, #2, was "Family"; line three, #3, was "Others"; line four, #4 was "Myself." In a teaching, I told one such teacher that I thought it should be "1. G-d; 2. Family; 3. Church," and was severely reprimanded, because all church matters were equal to His matters.
10. And most disturbing to me was that they were, in my opinion, so skilled in manipulating the truth, in saying just so much in such a particular way that it actually covered up the truth -- saying the truth in such a way that it conveyed a different idea, so that they could then say "We never said that! That was what you thought we said."
Now, is that a cult, or have I been too hard on them?