Here’s an excellent read from Psych Central. SPOT ON! Thank you Christine Hammond.
Following is a list of social, psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns that are common within cult settings. I adapted them from a check list developed by Michael Landgone, Ph.D., a counseling psychologist, and ICSA’s Executive Director.
1. The cultic group displays an excessive, zealous, unquestioning commitment to its leader, and regards his or her beliefs and practices to be the truth, the law, the way.
2. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged, and sometimes punished.
3. Mind-altering practices (e.g., meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
4. The leader(s) dictate, sometimes to great detail, what and how members should think, act and feel.
5. The group is elitist, claiming a special, superior, or exalted status. They’re on a mission to save something, the world maybe.
6. Cultic groups have an “us-vs-them” mentality.
7. The leader is accountable to no one, to no human, to no governing authority.
8. The leaders teach—or imply by their actions—that the “noble end” justifies the means—whatever it takes for their truth to prevail (e.g. falsifying, lying, deceit).
9. The leadership creates feelings of shame and guilt in its members in order to manipulate and control them.
10. Subservience to the leader(s) often leads to cutting family ties, ties with friends, teachers, and to putting personal dreams or goals aside to become one of them, one of the elite.
11. The group is preoccupied with recruiting new members, or making more money.
12. Members give inordinate amounts of time to serving the group, the group’s god, or attending group-activities.
13. Members are encouraged or required to live with or to socialize with only group members. A lot of group members believe that there is no other way, there is no life outside the group. Mostly they’re afraid for themselves or for others on the inside if they should leave, or even think of leaving.
As said earlier, it’s not altogether accurate, but it’s spot on for creating the essence of my experience.
I trusted the whole process based on how they made me feel. The story producer (with whom I spoke with for I’m sure over 24 hours on the phone, at various times, long distance from London) gently pulled the story out of me. The Director—Russell Eatough—wowed me. He totally got it. He knew how to dig down to get the essence.
And no one rushed me. They called me 3 times before I’d recovered enough from the last docudrama to agree to do another, and after I agreed, they gave me time to reflect on my past, what occurred, and how it made me feel. I never felt rushed, and I always felt valued.
Anyhow, this blog pretty much evolved out of 2014, my year of relentless reflecting. I’m glad it’s over. Back to normalizing.
I was there during ACMTC’s foundational years, when they were building themselves up, when they began casting out demons, and got kicked off of Christian Radio for heretical teaching. I watched as they drove themselves off the deep end, and I saw the paranoia splash in their face, the fiercness set in their eyes, and I heard their voices turn to self-defense.
I’m aware of how their foundation was built, and can anything good ever come of something that’s so inherently unstable and wrong? Maybe if there be some kind of acknowledgement of their evil ways, followed by some real change—we can’t correct what’s wrong with us if we can’t see and acknowledge it. Only then can we change, and with change comes the real liberation.
It seems that Steve owned up to his own rotten self for a little while, his letter seems to indicate so. But he didn’t follow through with change. Five, 10+ years after this letter, and he’s back to calling me “the whore” again. “Forsaken by God.”
The film’s details aren’t altogether accurate. I’m saying that upfront. I’ve five children, not two, and Rachel (or Jacque—see life in the shed) who declined participating, suffered the excommunication nightmare alongside me, her name at the time changed by Lila to Barren.
To condense the story, the director cropped a lot, plus used a few conflations, i.e. he edited, deleted, copied and pasted to condense 6 years of craziness into 43 minutes. Going for the essence, and I think he nailed it.
Hats off to director Russell Eatough, story producer Claire Allitt, and all the people at RAW TV and Cream Productions who made this happen. When I said “no” the first time, thank you for not giving up on me, on my story. Thank you for calling me back 6 months, and again 9 months later. For me it’s been cathartic. Thank you for your patience and for your intentions of spreading awareness.
For those of you who like myself haven’t a TV package, the docudrama is currently trending online. You can watch it here:
These beautiful ladies gave 20 years of their lives to AMCTC. Twenty years! And you think I have stories—you should hear theirs.
Rachel was excommunicated to the shed shortly after I. We went through a lot together. “It was like a nightmare,” she says. But in the end, she wasn’t kicked out on the street like I was. “God” let her back in. So she gave >15 more years of her life serving Lila and Jim Green’s god, and then one day she breaks and decides she’s had enough. And after she leaves, she wakes up.
We were so unaware—all of us. Were we naive, dependent, or as Rachel puts it, “stupid.” But our intentions were never to join some crazy cult. We were seekers looking for purpose in life, for significance, looking for someplace to belong, and for something greater than ourselves to live and to die for.
We thought we were doing it for god. We didn’t know what we were getting into.
“The key to changing the world, to changing your life, and to empowering those around you is authenticity – the willingness to be yourself – the willingness to be vulnerable – the willingness to feel – the willingness to live. I’m simply reminding you of who you truly are, supporting you into self-love and acceptance by eradicating the judgement that you’ve imposed on yourself and society has imposed on you.” Panache Desai
It’s so obvious to me. Embracing authenticity is key to change. Only then will we try less to be like someone or everybody else, and just be who we are. We all have our own unique experiences, perspectives, personalities, gifts, dreams, our own DNA—our own unique piece of the puzzle that makes up the global pie, no one piece ever alike. Our differences needn’t divide us—they can be our strengths!
It’s debilitating living in a cultish environment of judgment, where everything is painted black and white, with no shades of grey, and no color. In this space there’s no encouragement to be who we are, but rather to conform. You’re either in or you’re out. It’s a world of sacrifice, beginning with yourself and your family—sacrificing everything you think, believe, have, and foremost, everything you love.