For an individual to have a good life or one that is worth living, he must be a critical questioner and possess and interrogative soul.Socrates
DISCLAIMER: I am not against the Bible. In fact, I endeavor to follow God and His word. However, I am very much against people who falsely use the Bible to manipulate others for their own personal gain. Unfortunately, there are many people who do that.
This vignette illustrates how a religious leader can suspend group members’ critical thinking and then inject programming to control and manipulate the group. This programming usually consists of words that are either loaded language or taken out of context to manipulate the group into believing what the leader wants them to believe. The goal is to control the group. The situation here involved a religious cult leader reacting to social media posts and emails calling out his questionable behavior and challenging him to provide valid leadership credentials. The challenger even stated [paraphrased], “If I am wrong, then prove me wrong.” Rather than addressing the challenge and providing his credentials, the leader resorted to suspending the group’s critical thinking and then injecting cherry-picked, out-of-context Bible verses, together with some of his own comments, to vilify the person who called him out and turn the group against that person.
The cult leader used singing, dancing, jumping, and shouting to suspend the group’s critical thinking. All the dancing and singing makes people feel good and puts them in a positive mood that validates the words coming out of the cult leader’s mouth, without stopping to think about whether they apply to the situation or are even logical. Also, this increases the body’s need for oxygen, contributing to making it more difficult to think clearly. Even the people just watching are put into somewhat of a “feel good” state and become more receptive to the words issuing forth from the leader’s mouth. Below is a verbatim example of how it was done.
[SINGING / DANCING]
From Judgments of the Lord, Chapter 23. Do not accept a false report. Do not extend your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness. Do not be a follower of the majority for evil. Do not respond to a grievance by yielding to the majority to pervert the law. Do not glorify a destitute person in his grievance.
Hear the words of God, folks. Hear the words of God. Because I think much of this is going on, isn’t it? And what does the Bible have to say about this, you see? The very bearers of God’s word are breaking God’s word. Where there is no law, there is no order. There is no love of God. Period. Heed to the words of God.
[SINGING / DANCING]
How many of you believe that Proverbs is wisdom? [Crowd shouts, yes!] It says the wisest of the wise in the Bible was King Solomon. So, this is the wisest of the wise giving us words here. Proverbs Chapter 6, verse 16 says, God hates six things, but the seventh is actually an abomination of His soul He says. Haughty eyes, a false tongue, hands spilling innocent blood, a heart plotting iniquitous thoughts, feet hastening to run to evil … and listen to this family … a false witness spouting lies! And here is the seventh one. One who stirs up strife among brothers.
Let the words of God penetrate your heart and I say this because I was told we are being watched, so this is a beautiful thing. I speak the words of my Creator. Be very careful because you are talking against the Creator here. Hallelujah. I will stand with the Creator! Will you stand with the Creator?!? [Crowd shouts, I will!] Hallelujah! Let’s continue worship! Hallelujah!
[SINGING / DANCING]
Praise! Hallelujah! [Crowd shouts, Hallelujah!] We read in Proverbs 24, continuing on in verse 28. Do not be a witness against your neighbor, without cause. Do not deceive with your lips.
You know, you’re probably gonna end up in reality, you probably have to do like four hours of worship for me to continue reading the scriptures that talk about false witnesses. And spreading slander with no cause. Are you guys ready to worship for like three days straight? I mean this continues and continues, is what I am saying. [Crowd laughs.] But I’m not gonna do that today. We won’t do that today. Let’s continue worshipping. Hallelujah!
[SINGING / DANCING]
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Blessed be His Name! We’re gonna conclude with these two scriptures for today. Continuing with Proverbs 19:5. A false witness will not go unpunished. And he who tells lies will not escape. Proverbs 21:28 A false witness will perish, but a man who listens to the truth will speak forever. Amen! Let’s continue. [Crowd shouts, Amen!]
[SINGING / DANCING]
These are the points we can take away from the words he spoke:
- What I am telling you is the highest wisdom
- Lying is bad and against God (repeated many times)
- Stirring up strife is bad and against God
- Inference = the challenger is lying and stirring up strife
- If you disagree with what I am saying, you are against God (and by inference, if you agree with or even consider the challenger’s words, you are against God)
- Any liars (i.e. the challenger) will be punished (and by inference, group members will also be punished if they associate with or even consider the challenger’s words)
Never once was anything addressed to determine whether the challenger had spoken any lies or stirred up any strife. On the contrary, the cult leader was doing his best to stir up strife between those he controlled and someone who simply asked for his credentials. Throughout all of this, the people were in a high emotional state, therefore not checking how and where these words applied. They just felt that they wanted to obey God and not do these bad things. They then further felt that associating with, or even listening to anything the challenger said, was bad and against God. Programming completed.
How It Is Done
The leader interspersed targeted words and verses with singing and dancing. Just a neat worship flow? No, it is covert mind control and programming. Be very wary of any religious group that does this. It creates strong emotions in place of calm thinking, and then injects ideas before calm thinking can be re-established. These ideas are now connected with the strong emotions and will trigger them in the future, continuing the suspension of critical thinking. This makes the people an advocate for someone else’s ideas and goals. Lest you think I am blowing things out of proportion, this is a known method used by dictatorial regimes and cultic organizations to control their people. The Nazi part rallies in Nüremburg are classic examples.
Note that the leader never directly states that this is about the person who called him out to provide leadership credentials, so the group members make that connection in their own minds. This makes it more powerful because they now own it. They made this connection during a heightened emotional state, so now those powerful emotions are also connected with that internal decision. Even more, the cult leader makes a connection that they are the true believers and servants of God because they are rejecting this challenge for the leader to prove he is who he says he is. A final emotional blow is the connection that any consideration of what the challenger said is a direct affront to God and thus sinful. Mind control completed.
Ignoring the Facts
Never. Never, were the challenger’s statements addressed in a logical, factual or honest manner to determine whether the cherry-picked Bible verses even applied. No validation was ever made that the any of the challenger’s statements were false. Indeed, how can a request for credentials even be deemed false? It is just a request, not a statement, no matter how strongly it is delivered.
The Bible, the very book from which this leader quotes to manipulate, states:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world1 John 4:1
Where is the testing here? It is fine if you question the challenger. Perhaps his challenge is baseless, but where is the testing to see if it is valid or not? No testing was done, just statements without proof. This cult leader will not let anyone test his spirit either. He just shuts down critical thinking with emotion-laden statements that are twisted out of context.
Deflection and Repetition
Note that the cult leader never makes any factual or logical connection between his accusations against the challenger and whether they are true or not. The person challenging him to provide credentials is declared a liar giving false reports. Well, if he is a liar could that not be easily proven by providing the very credentials he infers do not exist? That was never done. The cult leader just deflected and did exactly what he accused the other person of doing, lying. Moreover, the cult leader repeated the verses about being a liar over and over again. As we know so well from media and politicians, repeating something over and over again establishes it as a truth in people’s minds, even if no truthful connection exists. He even underscored this by stating he could give verses about lying for days (a gross exaggeration). This hammered home the huge preponderance of “fact” that the challenger is a liar.
Plain and simple, the cult leader used ridicule and character assassination against the person who called him out. He used cherry-picked Bible verses to do so, without attaching any factual connection to them. Then he loaded those verses with emotion to seal his spin on things in the minds of his followers.
Some of these followers will later break free and say things like, “Why didn’t anyone tell me what this guy was doing?” They were oblivious to incidents like this, where warnings fell on deaf ears. Unless you are on guard against mind control before you go into a group, you are probably lost. Most people, especially people of faith, do not even consider that a leader would do something like this, so they never guard against it. They also do not understand the tactics used, which makes it even more difficult to resist.
It seems so easy to say, “Wait a minute. Nothing this guy is doing matches his words. Nor is he providing proof of anything.” Yet, scores of people were, and continue to be, influenced and manipulated by this cult leader. What he is doing works. It works so well that anyone questioning him will be attacked by his followers. He has created little automatons to defend his unethical and immoral actions. Little wardens to make sure people remain in the prison he has created for them. If you think this is bad for the adults, imagine the children who have no choice at all and have yet to develop any critical thinking skills. I submit that crosses the line into the realm of evil.
There is one very simple way to protect against these false leaders. Watch that their actions match their words. As seen in the example above, most people never get past the words. The cult leader’s actions were very contrary to his Bible preaching. In fact, that might be what motivated the person challenging him to call him out for his credentials. Most people’s analysis of this situation did not go past the leader’s manipulative and misleading words, stopped cold by his adept suspension of their critical thinking. Manipulation of adults by another adult is always a toxic dynamic. There is never valid justification for doing so. Using Bible verses as a tool for this manipulation is reprehensible