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The Persecuted Church

 

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 Who Joins Cults?

Most people only think about cults when they capture the front page, usually when people die or when someone close to us has been affected. Maybe you can remember back to the 39 members of heavens gate. Or further back with the Jim Jones tragedy when over 900 people who followed their leader and committed suicide. We often believe it happens to others and it can’t happen to me or my family and friends. This has proven to not be so.

  The psychological and sometimes physical abuse perpetrated by cults has been affecting several million people for several decades. It is all around us if we would open our eyes. More often than not the cults outnumber the church more than 2 to 1 in most areas of the country, this is certainly true in Hawaii. We have a tremendous problem here with false Christianity and various religions.

There are about 5000 different cults operating in America currently. They are constantly sprouting and growing where they are not wanted. A Christian cult will consist of any group of people who have a set of beliefs and rituals which are non-biblical. The beliefs become exclusive to their group only and they begin to operate under an us versus them attitude. They’re non religious cults such as political cults, music cults, environmental cults, Satanist cults, just about anything can be a cult.

One person's cult can be another person's religion, and history has proven that yesterday's small sect, can mushroom into today's popular religion. Cults can be made up of only a few people, to ranging in the millions. Given enough time we can find what was once considered a cult can be transformed into a mainstream religion, accepted by society. A good example of this is Mormonism with 10 million today, as they have changed their image and present themselves as another Christian Church, a truer one. Not all religions act like cults. Some Christian cults can be worse than another religion in that they take more freedom away and exercise more control. It’s a shame to see people have the same bible in their hand be so close and yet be just as afar away as the average sinner.  

But not all countries are tolerant of cults activities. Some are fighting back. France appointed a parliamentary commission to investigate new religious sects, such as the JW’s. There are 220,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in France and  the Witnesses now owe $25 million in back taxes, plus another $25 million in interest and penalties. A lien was put on all Watchtower Society property in France.  Germany has taken action with the Church of Scientology, which claims to have 30,000 members in Germany and 8 million worldwide. It took  many complaints about this new religion for them to notice what was going on. Many times we keep this news in the religious sector when we should bring this information to law enforcement, who may curtail their activity.  

Those of us who deal with victims of abusive cults with false teaching know the pain inflicted to the friends and family. We understand how they tear apart families, and leave emptiness in its place. The loss of ones loved one has an emptiness that can years to be healed or for some an impossible recovery. often the result of zealous cults and their leaders have an individual lose their own identity to become one of the chosen and do God’s work. Their real family is replaced with the group who are now with their new family. Children often become the most hurt, because of strict rules enforced on them. They lose their childhood and are deeply affected, being unable to adjust later on in life. I have heard this many times from those who left the JW's. That they were ripped off of their childhood years and now feel they are not sociologically balanced. Religious systems that are not balanced can be socially and psychologically disastrous for innocent children and they grow up into maladjusted adults.

Why do people join a cult? Some like others to make choices for them so they join abusive groups. Some like being part of a group that offers purpose in place of their having none. Some are nave and know no better since it sounds good and they like what they see. It can be for any one of a multitude of reasons, but mostly for the wrong reason.

They become convinced and are lead on a course that affects them on every level, emotional, psychological, the heart and mind, soul and spirit. From this they are taken captive replacing critical thinking and even biblical thinking with the ways the group wants them to think in. Destructive cults are basically pyramid shaped with a person or group of teachers that have domineering control over their lives.   The cult's lifestyle is based on the hopes, goals of their leader and the group collectively. They will often use psychological manipulation and deception to recruit new members. Individuals are not told up front what the group is really about or what will be expected of them if they become members. They find these things out later after they have given them their time and money. So many people never have a chance at a knowledgeable choice. because most of them are encouraged to join as soon as possible without looking into the background or history of the group.

Cults are found in two categories theological and sociological. And they can practice both in some degree. A cult can be theologically sound and have abuse and control from the leaders or they can be theologically wrong and it will show in their practice. Cults operate through a thought reform process to create a new identity for the person, one that fits in with the group. The means is through intensive indoctrination by doctrine, the other is living a new life according to their doctrine. Steve Hassan who was once part of the Moonies now exits people out of cults states, "Today’s cult leaders are artful manipulators in persuasion and indoctrination." In a mind control environment, freedom of choice is the first thing one loses." The cult leader’s philosophy, his books, teachings, and practices determine the new life for the members. This creates the member's new reality. Everything done prior to this is found meaningless and now everything done within the group is meaningful.

So when you come against their teaching you are personally attacking them and the people they now have as their new family. You are demeaning the new life that they claim is from God. This becomes quite feat to go through all the layers of teaching and unravel it back to step one.

According to one research, 48% of cult members had been between the ages of 19 to 25 years old when they joined. 35% had been between the ages of 26 to 35. They are looking at those fresh out of high school or in college that are targeted. 26% were Protestant Liberals and 28% were Catholic. Many three years of college. This dispels the myth that cult members are uneducated and don’t know any better. Many are educated but nave to the religious world and its deceptions.

We hear about those who never heard the gospel as un-reached people groups. But one of the biggest un-reached people group are those who carry a bible and don’t know the message of salvation. The reason is that it has either been distorted or it has shifted to another way and not Christ.

We should be able to do something besides simply writing off these ruined lives as another example of a sinner going astray in our fallen world, or the devil’s deception at work. We must hold ourselves out as willing and committed to help others choose life instead of death, and help them make informed choices about their lives. This means we must be active in giving the gospel and be there for them in their lives before they become involved and even afterwards. This takes time, patience and much love. Without love we will not motivated to have the patience or longsuffering to see them through. Remember it may not always be what you say but how you say it that will have the message received.

Let Us reason is here providing information that enables people to make a more informed decision with respect for individual choice. The key is to get the information to the people before they join, because it’s much harder to convince them to leave after they have joined. The deception can strong, but love is stronger and is never wrong.

 

 

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