Help is Essential
Posted by: unbias ()
Date: August 20, 2004 01:09AM

I would like to know if anyone can help me with a list of appropiate questions that can help me decide if this group that wants me to work for them is actually a cult. I have no desire of being a cult member. I was given an opportunity to work with a group on a farm and I envisioned cult after hearing of this so called dream job. Before I uproot my family I was hoping to get some questons that would help me to figure out if they are a cult or not. Any and or all questions or statements would be appreciated.

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Help is Essential
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: August 20, 2004 04:42AM

Is there any information at all on the web about them, name, type of farm, etc.?

Will you be working for room and board with only a small amount of money for expenses a week? Will you be able to come and go before and after work? Will you have a car? How structured will your day be? Will you be required to join the others for all meals, any special meetings, devotions, classes? What kind of medical help is available if needed? What kind of access to the rest of the world - phone, computer, social events?

Who do you answer to? Who is the boss and who are his assistants? Do you have a work description? Are taxes being taken out of your paycheck? Are there references from others who have worked there? Can you check with government agencies, like the consumer affairs, Dept of Labor, etc for any reports on the place?

You can ask for information on Craigslist as well, in the general community section or in their workplace forums. Someone might have heard of the farm and any remarkable situations there.

Good for you for asking for help beforehand.


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Help is Essential
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 20, 2004 08:06AM

*'When people choose to leave, can they/do they stay in touch with those who continue to live and work at the farm?' (Classic sign of a cult is there is no legitimate way you can leave)

* 'When people decide your place is not for them, what are the commonest reasons?'

* 'How often do you have meetings, and how late do the meetings run?' (Even when they are not cultic, screwy groups often have meetings that go on all fucking night. Ask if they use consensus or Roberts' Rules of Order--personally I prefer majority vote because meetings dont go on all night as they do for consensus run events)

*Where do people go when they need a dentist, medical care, have an accident?'

***Are the rules the same for everyone and enforced equally, regardless of leadership or seniority?

**Is there favoritism? Are the jobs rotated equally?

Does the group find ways to devalue or put down outsiders or non-residential members?

*Where does the leader/senior people live? Is there much difference between their accommodations and living arrangements for the rest of the group?

If you are really enterprising, see if you can befriend some of the local cab drivers. Cabbies are often called on to rescue people.

IF the group contributes a lot of money to a depressed local economy, they may have a very good reputation.

Even if you decide to live there, I recommend you have what Humphrey Bogart called 'fuck you money'---so you can leave if you need to. Arrange to have a reliable friend check in on you. One way you can do it is quietly tell some friends to send you mail and telephone you. If your mail or messages do NOT go through, that is your signal that someone is blocking incoming messages. (Try having packages sent, too).

If your pals dont hear from you by a certain date, they should arrange to show up and insist on seeing you. If they are not allowed to see you, they can then contact the sheriff. Its a good idea to have something notorized in writing that a friend or family member can present to the sheriff.

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Help is Essential
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 20, 2004 11:20AM

**Is the leader of the group considered infallible or perfect? (Dont just rely on verbal answers to questions. Observe how the leader and the group actually behave)

**Does the group or leader have pretensions to do psychotherapy? If so, I advise avoiding this whole situation--the risks are too high. Psychotherapy rapidly goes bad when used as a 24 hour lifestyle, because the psychotherapist often turns into a guru, intrudes on all areas of ones life, and in a group situation there is zero privacy, zero accountability and constant psychological intrusiveness. Lots of these groups have been studied and the casualty rates are high.

Does the group think it has a monopoly on the truth? Do they constantly make distinctions between us vs them?

Groups and leaders with delusions of perfection almost inevitably manufacture scapegoats. All persons and organizations harbor imperfection. If they refuse to admit this, the imperfection is projected onto a designated villain--the scape goat. That person could, some day be you or someone you love.

(If you visit the place, persons who are the scapegoats may be kept out of sight, expiating their sins by shovelling manure in a distant pasture, where new visitors cannot see them. Make a point of asking, 'Who are [u:166a75716e]all [/u:166a75716e]the people who live here?' Then see where they are, and how they're treated.)

I strongly recommend that you go by yourself for 2 weeks to a month, before you uproot your family.

Once you're there with your family, it can be more difficult to leave. One member of a family may be seduced and fall in love with the group, while the others may have misgivings and want to leave. Spouses can be turned against each other, or one or more children can be turned agaisnt the parents and demand to stay against your wishes.

If you're under any pressure to go there as a family, at short notice, I'd be very concerned and see it as a red flag. Well run intentional communities would want you to make a decision that is fully informed, uncoerced and based on mature reasons.

(Take a careful look at yourselves, too. Are you feeling some anxiety to get away from Big City living? Eager to get your kids away from a bad social situation? Is the group that runs this farm exploiting anxieties you currently happen to have? If you are under a self imposed set of pressures--eg you want wholesome influences for your children--this can make it tempting to jump in, feet first, to a situation that could prove unworkable, later on.

An honorable group would NOT want to put you under that kind of pressure, and would respect your need to gather information and decide things carefully.

(You say you live in Canada. That means you're far enough north that winters can be severe. Imagine if this farm community didnt work out, you wanted to leave, and were all snowed in because a blizzard hit, or its spring and the roads are a mess because they're muddy and cannot be navigated by automobile----you want to do as much advance research as you can, before putting yourself and your family in a position where you could, quite literally get stuck.

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Help is Essential
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 21, 2004 01:48AM

you are responsible for their safety.

Unhealthy groups refuse to see that toddlers, school aged children and teenagers, each have different psychological needs and refuse to see that each age group has varying needs for age-appropriate discipline, priviliges and chores. Leaders of such groups are often childish themselves, and conceal this behind a face of charm and adult sophistication.

Dont live on this farm unless your authority as a parent is supported. Many many cultic communes undermine parental authority, and the most loving parents may find themselves in a situation where they're not able to protect thier children.

Harm can come from the leader, the leader's favorites, an older child at the farm who is a bully, or from overnight guests who come and go. Some communes have an open door policy and this can attract rather strange people--you need to know what standards must be met to become a guest or a member. Communities that do not have some way to screen prospective members for basic mental health and who dont have clear guidelines for acceptable/unacceptable behavior can become stressful at best, hazardous at worst.

If you're an adult, you can more easily protect yourself than if you're a young child who fears to complain lest this bring parental disapproval.

('What, we gave up our whole way of life to come here, and you're complaining about someone hugging you? Dont be such a whiner!')

Avoid any group living situation where adults and children are treated the same and where children are forced to witness adult nudity/semi nudity, adult sexual intrigue, or if children are forced, against their wishes, to accept hugs kisses etc from adults and older children.

[i:5b66e2462c]Children need boundaries.[/i:5b66e2462c]

Children need disicipline but it has to be age appropriate. Insist on knowing what the groups's disciplinary policies are--especially [u:5b66e2462c]anything [/u:5b66e2462c]involving potential use of shame or group tactics. Corporal punishment should be avoided.

Unheathy groups refuse to respect boundaries, often argue that boundaries are oppressive. Such groups dont understand child development. A group of this kind creates an environment in which boundaries are ignored, and parental concerns about child safety, privacy are often written off as 'being possessive' 'being uptight' 'prudish' etc.
If you witness any of this--RUN!

If you have any gut level misgivings about any adult or even any teenager at this farm, dont move there--you are responsible for the safety of your minor children and on an isolated farm, your kids cannot as easily protect themselves if someone (even an overnight guest) turns creepy.

Plus your kids would be aware that Mommy and Daddy want to live at this place, so they'd fear that you'll be mad at them if they dare to report that life on the farm is getting scary for them.

(Yet another thing--where will the kids get schooling and will that schooling be up to a level you find acceptable?)

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Help is Essential
Posted by: Lakefield ()
Date: September 03, 2004 04:44PM

Why would you want to move to the farm? Is it for the health of the children?

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Help is Essential
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: September 04, 2004 05:02AM


It's none of your business why they want to move to the farm.

The purpose of this forum is education, learning about groups and individuals, or getting information to deal with the aftermath of cults and cult-like relationships.

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Help is Essential
Posted by: Claire ()
Date: September 05, 2004 07:44AM

I tend to think that if you suspect a group is cult-like, it probably is.

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