When I saw the schedule of events at the 2008 Ex-Mormon Foundation Conference there was one speaker I was looking forward to the most. Steve Hassan.
Steve Hassan in a mental health counselor who specializes in helping people on their way out of mind control cults. At the age of 19 he joined The Moon Cult, alienated his friends and family, and he turned over every last cent in his bank account to a man who claimed to be the Messiah. How could such an intelligent man fall for such an obvious fraud? Well, when you sit down with someone with a wealth of cult mind control knowledge like he does, they will always tell you it has nothing to do with intelligence.
When Steve Hassan belonged to the Moon Cult, he became a leader quickly. Those above him would ask them to think about which country they wanted to lead once the church had rule over the world. He obeyed without question. Mr. Hassan said that if they would have asked him to kill someone, he would have done it.
Steve's first message to everyone in the conference room was the mantra "You are not stupid, you are human." There are people out there with the ability to make you believe amazing things...
Oh, I know there is a Hell of a lot of debate over people calling The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a cult. Every believing Mormon out there will swear up and down they don't belong to a cult. I used to be one of those people... I used to defend the church even though I had problems with it. I just assumed the problems were *my* fault. Silly me. There is no question to *me* that the Mormon church fits all criteria for a cult. Steve Hassan said, "If it looks like a duck, and acts like a duck... quack quack!" I love it.
So, what makes a group a cult? Let me throw out a few questions and you can hopefully see it for yourself...
Does the group limit information in any way?
- Strongly suggesting information not coming directly from the group or leader is evil or untrustworthy.
- If the group or leader finds you reading "unacceptable" material, you have to explain yourself, or deal with some kind of punishment.
- The group owns their own newspapers, television stations, businesses and universities. (Yes, I know there are plenty of other groups who have this kind of thing, but when paired with other things it adds fuel to the fire... so to speak...)
- The group is select or "chosen."
- The group is the only one with answers.
- The group is the only one with the truth.
- Certain things are evil, even though people all over the world use these things with no obvious side effect.
- If you don't do what the leader says, bad things will happen. Satan will come after you, or some other catastrophe will take place.
- Normal bodily functions are bad, and these normal things mean horrible things. Sexual desire is one major example. Some cults claim that sexual desire is caused by impure thoughts or not being as devoted to the cause as other people.
- Can you make decisions without consulting other members of the group?
- Do you worry that the decisions you make will upset or anger members of the group?
- Does the group or leader try to influence your decisions?
- Things like science are not as important as the doctrine.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Constant guilt over not measuring up
- Issues with trusting people outside of the group
I have a second part to this coming in the morning... I will update before I leave for work. There are things he mentioned about helping other people out of mind control groups, as well as ways to protect yourself from groups like this. This guy is very interesting and extremely wise. If you are interested in reading more, go to his website.