persecution complex and isolation

images-103Persecution complex is a term given to an array of psychologically-complex behaviors that specifically deal with the perception of being persecuted, for various possible reasons, imagined or real. Its common for unhinged abusive cult leaders to instill a persecution complex in the minds of their followers. They train them to think that the world misunderstands them, even hates them. They cultivate a a sense of us vs them, which pushes them to isolate from the world.

The founder of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), Herbert W. Armstrong, preached coming persecution to his followers, frightening them with visions of an impending crackdown on their church, like what happened to the Branch Davidians. Lila and Jim Green preached this too, way before David Koresh. The day’s coming! They will persecute us! The government will raid us with guns! I remember how scared I was.

“Incidents such as these and the constant drumbeat that ‘secular, godless liberals’ are destroying society creates a cohesion of fear where members band together and tend to socialize internally to the exclusion of the outside world. Members are taught to believe everything that happens in the world they disagree with is an affront to their beliefs and values, and thus a direct threat to their community.”

This also takes the form of ‘mean world syndrome,‘ coined by communications professor George Gerber to describe the ways people believe the world is more dangerous than it actually is, based on mass media portrayals. Cults tend to feed upon this phenomenon by convincing their members the world is a harsh and dangerous place that will erode their values. People outside the cult are viewed as ‘sinners,’ bad influences who will drag them down and threaten their salvation or enlightenment. This paranoia only fuels cult isolationism.”

Silenced. Cult Spottingthe International Cult Studies Association

“…there is a sense, spoken and unspoken, that others will not understand what we’re all about. There’s an assumption that (1) what we say, know or do is a result of being more enlightened (special, among the elite, chosen by god ), (2) others will not understand unless they become one of us (other people don’t know God); (3) others will respond negatively (they’ll criticize us, try to hold us accountable).

In a place where authority is legislated, persecution sensitivity builds a case for keeping everything within the system. Why? Because of the evil, dangerous, or unspiritual people outside the system who are trying to weaken or destroy us. This mentality builds a strong wall or bunker around the abusive system, isolates the abusers from scrutiny and accountability, and makes it more difficult for people to leave.”

—David Johnson, Jeff VanVonderen, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

Gaslighting

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 8.27.14 PMGaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.  Wikipedia

A good example of gaslighting comes to mind from my days inside ACMTC. From the get-go when my family moved to Sacramento to join Free Love Ministries (later ACMTC), the Greens and my now ex shoved my thoughts regarding matters of my family or my children’s welfare into some god-forsaken corner, saying God’s ways were higher than my ways, that I leaned on my own understanding, and I listened to the voices of demons that I let inside my head. I needed to repent, resist the devil, and get my demons cast out.

They quoted scripture. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Prov. 13:24. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matt. 10;37.“

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Prov. 3:5

Lila prophesied. “I say, unto thee this day that those who will go on walking in their own understanding and desiring their own will and their own way, I say they are mockers and scoffers and they walk after their own lusts. And I say they shall not have a part in my kingdom.”

Jim taught. “This is not a mamby-pamby family church. There’s one of those on every street corner in America. I’m saying that God is sounding His battle cry, and we are called to march in obedience to Him, to lay down our lives for him as he did for us.” 

Steve bullied me. When I shared my concerns with him he’d tell me to grow up.

We were drilled to fight thoughts, feelings, and emotions that were not in sync with the Green’s teachings or preachings, burying any glimmer of awareness, or of who we really were. We learned to doubt and put aside our own “selfish, foolish” thoughts, and in this case, our lifelines. We sacrificed OUR SELVES—our authentic selves—for Jim and Lila’s militant, vengeant god.

But one huge conflict—one loud thought—brewed inside my head regardless of how hard I fought, and that was: surely Jesus—loving, merciful  God and all—wouldn’t treat the children like this. 

 

Deborah re Jim’s 2005 arrest, when he threatened to kill her

Old news (2005), but telling. These are the paranoid leaders of the “army that sheds no blood.” As is common inside abusive cults, the Green’s attribute criticism—being held accountable—to PERSECUTION.

“I (Deborah Green) was out of the room when the violence erupted. I hadn’t seen him with such a violent temper in 35 years. I’ve never seen him erupt in such a way. In retrospect, my assumption could have been based on my fear. But I’m not living in fear of my own husband. It’s been a lack of skillful communications. I’ve made decisions of my own which are probably somewhat equal to his. It’s all because of the persecution, which has been quite a pressure for a number of years.” the Independent, Gallop, NM, 2005.  Full article—> General sense of well-being 

dependence within a cult

Extremist cults—with their encompassing and encapsulating characteristics—exploit the dependency needs of their members. This is especially true of those groups which are communal in orientation. The member’s basic needs—food, housing, clothing, companionship—are provided. In the same way that inmates of prisons and mental hospitals become “institutionally dependent,” members of extremist religious cults exhibit a tendency to surrender their autonomy, their independent decision-making capacity, to the group.”

Ronald Enroth, The Lure of the Cults.

control mechanisms of cults

Cult expert Ronald Enroth, professor of sociology at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, describes the following as the “primary control mechanisms” by which cult leaders keep hold of cult members:

“Sensory deprivation (especially sleep); the severing of all familiar social support systems (old friends, family); removal to a highly structured environment where all aspects of one’s life are controlled; indoctrination by an exclusivistic group possessing the truth; limited access to outside stimulation; diminished ability to think for oneself; the use of fear and intimidation—these are the ties that bind the spirit and cripple the mind.”

Ronald Enroth, The Lure of the Cults,

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10 Signs Your Church Is Actually A Cult | Dust Off The Bible

Spot on!

—>Source: 10 Signs Your Church Is Actually A Cult | Dust Off The Bible

Deborah Green on cults

Even as far back as the mid eighties Jim and Deborah scared us with talks of “persecution,” and future armed government raids. This is the world she created. Jim too, he fed into it, but Deborah, or Lila as I knew her in the 70’s and 80’s, is the darkly crazy one, the one who thinks she gets her prophesies of gloom and doom from God.

TED-Ed – Why do people join cults?


Great little 6 minute clip written by Dr. Janja Lalich who was in a political cult. She shared her story on Investigation Discovery’s Dangerous Persuasions, Season 2 (Revolution Isn’t a Tea Party). She’s now a researcher focused on cult groups, specializing in charismatic authority, power relations, ideology, and social control.

Religious Cult Leaders and Disciples: Who Leads and Who Joins as Paralleled to Fight Club

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.16.17 PMOutstanding article here—written by Carla Dechant Behr, brother of deceased ACMTC member Chris Dechant, AKA Joab Evans

—>Religious Cult Leaders and Disciples: Who Leads and Who Joins as Paralleled to Fight Club.

SPOT ON: How to spot a sociopath – 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job – NaturalNews.com

—>How to spot a sociopath – 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job – NaturalNews.com.

Sociopaths are masters at weaving elaborate fictional explanations to justify their actions. When caught red-handed, they respond with anger and threats, then weave new fabrications to explain away whatever they were caught doing” 

“A valuable red flag to recognize when trying to spot a sociopath is to see how they deal with attacks on their own integrity. If a sociopath is presented with a collection of facts, documents and evidence showing that he lied or deceived, he will refuse to address the evidence and, instead, attack the messenger!

If you really try to nail a sociopath down to answering a documented allegation, they will quickly turn on you, denounce you, and declare that you too are secretly plotting against them. Anyone who does not fall for the brainwashing of the sociopath is sooner or later kicked out of the circle and then wildly disparaged by the remaining members of the cult group.”   Mike Adams