Several weeks after I published my first article on suspending critical thinking, the cult leader employed a more blunt and direct tactic in an attempt to quash critical thinking. He declared it a sin. My articles about the cult had been passed around among people who were leaving. I can only assume that those still in the cult may also have read them, including the cult leader. He even used the term “critical thinker” while behind the pulpit addressing the group. He was telling his remaining cult members the unspoken but clear message, if you are even thinking about what that guy wrote, then you are against God. He could not tolerate anyone thinking opposite of what he told them to think. That is a sign of a cult leader.
The Latest Tactics
The cult leader employed a combination of mental misdirection, bait-and-switch theology, appeal to emotion and loaded language in this mind-control attempt. None of these are new. He has used them extensively in the past. He framed it as a biblical character-building lesson based on the principle of alacrity, which he also called agility and quickness. Below are his words:
Preparing the Targets
If you want to serve God with all your heart and mind, you have to be flexible. If you’re a person who doesn’t bend, I promise you, you ain’t gonna make it. You have to start learning how to be flexible. God, I’m open to hearing this. Even though it goes against everything I’ve known, I’m flexible. Did it make sense for Abraham to circumcise at the age of 99? He’s got a foot in the grave already. Did it make sense for Abraham to do this? No, but he did it with [snaps fingers] alacrity. Guess what? When he was healing from circumcision, it says he rushed to attend to the three strangers. He rushed to the three strangers, even though he’d just been circumcised. That’s the most painful thing, yet he rushed to do it. He didn’t say I’m sorry, today we’re closed. We’re not serving today. I was just circumcised. Hey, any one of us today would convince themselves that God would understand.
[These preparatory bible verses are paraphrased to set the stage. This information from the bible is accurate. His additions are not. It is also emotionally loaded; an old and frail man being able to stand up and suffer for God. Nobody in the group will now want to look weaker than a 99-year-old man. Everyone wants to be at least as good, if not better. It establishes the premise that flexibility is a quality desired by God in His followers. Next comes the mental misdirection and bait-and-switch to employ this flexibility in the service of the cult leader.]
Dropping the Bomb
I want you to start thinking this way folks, because the reality is when you start thinking this way, challenge your thinking. Especially all you critical thinkers. Challenge your critical thinking. Would you have done that? Come on, you know you wouldn’t. We can laugh about it today and it is good we can laugh about it. At the same time, we need to polish. Would God want this from me? We always reason to ourselves, “I don’t think God would want me to do thaaaat.”
[The mental misdirection here is simple. Don’t think! Delayed obedience is disobedience! Moreover, what he briefly describes is not even critical thinking. It is hesitation. This creates a straw man that is easy to knock down and dismiss. He never made a case against critical thinking. People are now primed to obey when God speaks … except, it is not God speaking but a man pretending to speak for God. Bait-and-Switch completed. We cannot confirm with God whether the leader really speaks for him. If he really speaks for God, his actions will align with God’s word in the Bible. We will see later in the article if this is so.]
Abraham was also very quick to leave Haran, although he had family there. I mean think about these things, guys. You don’t think Abraham was close to his father? Of course, he was. You don’t think he was close to his brothers? Of course, he was. Look what he had to do. He a had to leave. He had to separate. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear that, but there is a time for it. Why did he have to leave his father’s house? It was the idolatry and mixed seed. Oil and water doesn’t mix, folks. Just remember that. But he left quick. That was the whole point. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t say, “OK God, give me about three years to actually lean into this” No. C’mon. Let’s go. We’ve got something bigger for you. I need you to trust me.
[Another mostly accurate biblical account, but with a spin. The talk about separating, idolatry and mixed seed are aimed at those who have left or were thrown out of the cult. The message here is that they were bad (idolaters and bad seed) while those remaining are good. Even close family who disagree with the cult are bad and you need to separate yourself from them quickly. This is what God wants! One could use the exact same argument he makes to say that those who departed the cult are the ones separating to follow God and those remaining are bad. Those leaving did not hesitate to get out of the cult. They displayed alacrity. Either side has the same amount of factual evidence at this point. None.]
Sealing the Deal
By the way, here’s another aspect of alacrity. Abraham was told that there was a great land awaiting him, and great promise, and seed. You know, at this point, he had no children. He was very quick … alacrity … very quick to believe that. In other words, the promises of God, pretty much, were higher than any soul tie he had in Haran. He saw that like, “Wow, nothing is holding me back.” I don’t know if you ever felt that way in your life folks. You are ready to burst out of this eggshell and you want out. Even the thought of somebody trying to keep you captive is sacrilege. That’s what God wants from you. Are you really ready to be free, to get out of the shell, to be free with Him, to trust in Him. For a journey that is unknown. It can be scary, but it is unknown.
[One more mostly accurate biblical example, the first part anyway. The commentary is again, the leader’s own. By now the group is already mind-controlled and framed into projecting it onto the current situation. It is all geared towards convincing the remaining cult members to dismiss any remaining doubts, turn their backs on their former friends and families who are trying to hold them back, burst out of their shells and follow him. It will feel so good! This is pure appeal to emotion and loaded language. Anybody who questions you being in the cult is “holding you captive.” That is way over the top with the intent of manipulating emotions to suspend critical thinking.]
The cult leader used his usual mind-control tactics, applying them in a predictable manner. Cherry-pick some bible content out of context that can be repurposed to apply to what he wants to control. Mentally misdirect the members and then employ bait-and-switch theology to direct obedience to God into obedience to the cult leader. He defeats the main argument by creating a straw man, claiming it to be what he is disproving (in this case, critical thinking) and easily knocking it down. Then he employs appeal to emotion and loaded language to cement the deal. It works again. Just like it always does.
Rather than taking the word of the cult leader that he speaks for God, let us examine some of the commands he has given various cult members (which most obeyed with alacrity) and see if they align with God’s word in the Bible.
- Commanding a woman to divorce her husband
- Commanding the group members to shun and never speak to that former husband again
- Commanding a woman to lie to her husband, abduct his children, and drive 200 miles to live on the cult property
- Commanding that same woman to falsely accuse her husband and oldest daughter in court
- Commanding a man to leave his wife if she would not obey the cult leader
- Commanding a disobedient man to live in a tent for several weeks on the cult leader’s property
- Commanding a woman to observe holy days on the cult leader’s property or else go to hell
- Commanding members to work on improvements to the cult leader’s property (framing it as work for the church)
- Commanding members to work on improvements to a cult lieutenant’s property (framing it as work for the church)
- Commanding members to donate financially and work on another cult lieutenant’s property improvements (framing it as work for the church)
- Commanding the entire group to shun and not speak to anyone who left the group or had been thrown out
- Telling group members that they should all strive to be like one cult lieutenant who said he would die for the cult leader
- Telling group members who they should marry (within the cult, of course) and manipulating them if they refuse
- Supporting bullying of members who were not as enthusiastically devoted to the cult leader
- Determining who was and was not permitted to attend “worship services” based on criteria known only to the cult leader*
- Determining who was and was not permitted to be a member of the “church” based on criteria known only to the cult leader*
I challenge you to find valid (not twisted or misrepresented) Bible verses that support these commands. Even churches full of hypocrites playing religion do not say or do these types of things. These commands are not from God, but the cult leader wants everyone to think they are so they will obey without question. That is the primary goal of all his efforts. Obedience and devotion to him. Watch his actions, not his words. Of course, the people remaining loyal and devoted to him are not looking at the actions. This is mind-control.
What the cult leader is doing still works. His simple and basic tactics work. Sure, he’s lost a lot of people, but those remaining are a hard-core group, completely loyal to him and blind to anything else. They will give their time, their money, their families … in service to him, thinking they are giving all those to God. What the cult leader is doing is not illegal. He can (and will) claim that he did not command any of these things. The members are doing them of their own free will. The people are willingly following him. Or are they? As for the question of legality, cult expert Dr. David McDermott states that almost all of these groups are doing something illegal beneath the layers of misdirection created for public consumption. He says it is simply the nature of how they operate. Only time will tell if this group is doing so as well.
* Use of unknown or vague criteria is another common cult tactic. It keeps people off balance and walking on eggshells, for fear of violating some sacred principle unknown to them. The cult leader will employ this to keep people obedient to his every whim.