In the 70s I was part of several evangelical groups at a time when in New Zealand there was a rise in religious excitement and more people were becoming christians.
As a result of this I cared deeply for and was praying for about 30 of my friends and was surprised when my own elders effectively disfellowshipped me for having contact with people who were not baptized as we believe they should be.
When I left to go to university with in a year or so two groups where I had a close relationship with the leader collapsed because the leader had been having sex with the girls, with one case going to court for a man so popular and well known that a child wrote a letter to 'Uncle Sid' put it in the mail system and it was delivered. (Nelson New Zealand)
In the next phase of my life I met and interacted with Pentecostal leaders who were wantabe mega church leaders, and suffered from spiritual abuse from some of them who saw the need to control me, so that I wouldn't in any way destroy their ambition.
Is there a link between the lack of respect for a precious fellow human being, exploiting them in a physical way to get sexual gratification- born out of lust; and the same lack of respect which allows leaders to abuse those who trust them and expect protection from them in accordance with sound religion. ?
When the bible says "Witchcraft is a fruit of the flesh" can we turn that around and say that manipulation will produce as a fruit sins of the flesh which can be judged in a legal system as being unacceptable human behavior ?
And finally did I remember reading somewhere Jesus saying something about "fruit" when deciding things ?
Three questions there but I would appreciate your wisdom on this-paul
Potentially unsafe groups seem to share the same characteristics and behavior.
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.