Cult leader Dave McKay, founder of the self-proclaimed “Jesus Christians” is apparently back in business using the new name “End Time Survivors” preaching on YouTube.

Dave McKay, now in his seventies, is originally from Rochester, New York. McKay married and moved to Australia in 1968 where he joined the cult “Children of God (COG).” COG became infamous for child sexual abuse. McKay later decided to leave COG and become leader of the so-called “Jesus Christians” in 1982.

Like Moses Berg, the founder of COG, McKay became notorious for the total control that he exercises over his followers. Now on YouTube he is “Brother Dave.” Claiming divine revelation McKay says, “When I tell people that God talks to me I can see the wheels turning, their thinking ‘psycho,’ ‘psycho,’ this guy needs professional help.” Maybe McKay is a psycho. Apparently if you disagree with Dave you disagree with God.

Dave McKay

Dave McKay

McKay’s group was dubbed the “kidney cult” because reportedly more than half of his followers donated a kidney in what many saw as a ploy for media attention.

Brother Dave seems to be adept at “brainwashing” his disciples according to numerous press reports. And after new recruits join his group they frequently cut off virtually all communication with family and old friends. The group has also garnered controversy for recruiting minor children.

Complaints from estranged families and bad press followed Dave McKay wherever he went and made his group appear toxic. No wonder McKay has chosen to rebrand his group online with a new name. Brother Dave even blurs his face and his followers are masked to obscure their real identity on YouTube.

YouTube is a popular venue for some groups called “cults,” who use it for recruitment and fund raising. McKay now has more than 3,000 YouTube subscribers.

One of the End Time Survivors videos states, “The information on this channel is coming from a lot of people and most of them have been able to hide their identity they do it for the express purpose of getting you to think about what is being said rather than making you depend upon some guru who will do all your thinking for you.”

However, this is exactly the reason that families and others concerned complained about the undue influence of Dave McKay, a religious guru who they said was thinking for their loved ones.

Don’t be fooled by this “kidney cult” or trust in Brother Dave’s supposedly divine revelations.

Instead, recognize the familiar pattern of a con man and cult leader feeding off of his followers to fulfill his ego.

Dave McKay expects his devotees to give up their identity, family, friends, virtually everything and anything upon demand, even at times their vital organs.

Beware of Dave McKay and his band of masked “End Time Survivors.”

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Claims in a lawsuit filed against cult specialist and court expert Rick Alan Ross and others were dismissed last month. United States Federal Judge Katharine S. Hayden ordered, “NXIVM’s claims against…Ross, the Ross Institute [now known as Cult Education Institute], [Dr. Paul] Martin, and Wellspring Retreat…dismissed in full.”

The legal action was filed against Ross by a relatively obscure self-help guru named Keith Raniere of Albany, New York who runs a group called NXIVM (pronounced nexium). Media coverage regarding Raniere has often focused on his wealthy followers, particularly Clare and Sara Bronfman, two heirs to the Seagram’s Liquor fortune of billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr. The Bronfmans have apparently backed many of Raniere’s schemes and lawsuits.

Raniere, whose followers call him “Vanguard,” sought to silence criticism of his large group awareness training (LGAT) programs staged through his company NXIVM formerly known as “Executive Success Programs” (ESP). Through ESP/NXIVM Raniere trains participants to believe in a composite philosophy he calls “Rational Inquiry.” Raniere appears to have largely copied ideas for his LGAT from Scientology, Ayn Rand, Werner Erhard and Amway.

Keith Raniere

Keith Raniere

Raniere was once an Amway distributor and later put together his own multi-level marketing scheme called “Consumer Buyline,” which ultimately failed when legal restraints were placed on Raniere.

The lawsuit known as NXIVM v. Ross, was first filed in New York and later moved to New Jersey. The litigation dragged on for more than a decade through a series of legal maneuvers and stalling tactics managed by NXIVM through its successive attorneys. The lawsuit centered upon three reports. Two by a psychologist and another by a psychiatrist about the NXIVM programs. Raniere didn’t like what the doctors had to say and so he sued both of them, Ross, the Cult Education Institute (formerly known as the Ross Institute of New Jersey) and others after the reports were published by the institute online.

Psychologist Paul Martin wrote one report titled “A Critical Analysis of the Executive Success Programs Inc.” and another “Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria of thought reform as applied to the Executive Success Programs.

Psychiatrist John Hochman wrote a report titled “A Forensic Psychiatrist Evaluates ESP.

A family hurt by NXIVM commissioned the reports and was also sued. One family member who had gone through NXIVM training provided study notes regarding the programs, which largely formed the basis for the doctors’ criticism of the LGAT. Raniere included members of the family as codefendants in the lawsuit filed against Ross.

Raniere attempted to obtain an emergency court injunction to remove the reports from the Web. But the injunction was repeatedly denied including on appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The reports have never been removed from the Cult Education Institute database and have remained intact and online throughout the litigation.

Raniere claimed defamation, copyright and trade secret violations because the doctors quote the study notes to make specific points in their reports.

Judge Hayden evaluated the defendants’ argument that quotes from NXIVM’s study notes constituted “fair use.” In her opinion she concluded, “The Second Circuit held that this fourth factor ‘weigh[ed] heavily in defendants’ favor.’ NXIVM, 364 F.3d at 482. ‘It is plain that, as a general matter, criticisms of a seminar or organization cannot substitute for the seminar or organization itself or hijack its market.’ Id. The Court agrees, and finds that defendants’ use of NXIVM materials was limited and protected critical reporting under the fair use doctrine. Defendants did not attempt to use the copyrighted work for commercial profits, for unfair business advantage, or as an attempt to compete. Insofar as plaintiffs characterize the psychologists’ articles as an attempt to undermine NXIVM’s business, the Court notes there are First Amendment concerns to be reckoned with. ‘If criticisms on defendants’ websites kill the demand for plaintiffs’ service, that is the price that, under the First Amendment, must be paid in the open marketplace for ideas.’”

Keith Raniere lost another lawsuit recently when U.S. District Judge Barabra M.G. Lynn dismissed his claims against AT&T and Microsoft. Raniere sued based upon claims that he held certain patents, which the companies had violated. However, his apparently false testimony unraveled the case. Judge Lynn subsequently awarded attorney fees and costs to both defendants, AT&T $935,300 and Microsoft $202,000.

Clare Bronfman

Clare Bronfman

Raniere has spent millions of dollars in legal fees and costs on NXIVM v. Ross alone. But the money to pay for such frivolous litigation comes from his wealthy supporters such as Clare and Sara Bronfman, not his own pocket. The Albany Times-Union reported that NXIVM “has swallowed as much as $150 million of their fortune.”

Meanwhile throughout the long NXIVM v. Ross litigation that ended last month in dismissal of all claims against cult specialist Rick Alan Ross, Dr. Paul Martin and the Cult Education Institute they were represented pro bono by a number of lawyers. Beginning with Douglas Brooks of Massachusetts and Thomas Gleason of New York and later by Peter Skolnik, Michael Norwick and Thomas Dolan of Lowenstein Sandler in New Jersey. And there was additional help provided by both Public Citizen of Washington D.C. and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Due to the dedication of these attorneys, law firms and public interest groups freedom of speech prevailed and a purported “cult” leader’s efforts to censor criticism backed by a billionaire’s daughters failed.

Note: Keith Raniere and NXIVM are mentioned within the book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” by Rick Alan Ross. Raniere’s training scheme is cited within a chapter about LGATs (large group awareness training).

Falun Dafa, more commonly known as Falun Gong, is recruiting on Boston University (BU) campus. The group, which has been called a “cult,” has weekly meetings attached to the Marsh Chapel at BU.

The Falun Dafa Club announced at the BU website that it wants to teach “exercises,” but the group will also “study spiritual teachings.”

College students have historically been targeted by groups called “cults” as a vulnerable demographic over the years going back to the 1970s.

BU has a history of exposing cult recruitment on its campus going back to the 1980s. Dean Robert Thornberg once opposed a group called the International Church of Christ, which was banned from many college campuses. He said, “I refer to it as a destructive religious practice.” Thornberg said that ICOC was “banned” at BU beginning in 1989 and he noted that “a whole bunch of other colleges use [the BU] model.”

Dean Robert Thornberg

Dean Robert Thornberg

Often when cults recruit students it can negatively impact their studies. In a 1989 interview Thornberg explained, “We figure in 1989, at the high point here, 40 students dropped out entirely to follow them. Two guys were second year medical school students. They dropped out after four years of college and two years of med school.” He added, “An awful lot of kids were swept up by [the ICOC] and the results were almost always a disaster.”

An authoritarian leader named Kip McKean led the ICOC. McKean was extolled as “The one man God has used above us all.” One ICOC leader explained within the group’s official publication, “There is no greater discipler, disciple, brother, husband, father, leader, and friend than Kip McKean. Some say it is dangerous to respect any one man that much. I believe it is more dangerous not to.”

Master Li

The authoritarian leader of Falun Dafa is Li Hongzhi, known to his disciples as “Master Li.” Purportedly imbued with divine authority Li supposedly knows “the top secret of the universe.” He says, “No religion can save people” only the “almighty Fa,” which Li exclusively represents.

Falun Dafa exercises and meditation are an introduction into the world of Li Hongzhi and his idiosyncratic teachings, which revolve around Li’s often egocentric claims.

Li Hongzhi

Li Hongzhi

Li Hongzhi’s teaches his followers that only he can install an invisible spinning “falun,” which is a mystical “wheel of law” within their abdomens telekinetically. This is the key to salvation, and the basis for incredible health claims, such as a cure for diabetes and the ability to reverse aging.

Falun Dafa practitioners believe that whatever Li Hongzhi says is right is right and whatever he says is wrong is wrong. Master Li’s authority is absolute.

The absolute authoritarian role of Li Hongzhi has caused many researchers and academics familiar with cults to see Falun Dafa as a personality-driven group that fits the description of cult formation.

Hateful teachings

CultNews has reported about Li Hongzhi’s racist and homophobic teachings. Li has said that “mixed-race people [are] instruments of an alien plot to destroy humanity’s link to heaven.” And that interracial unions are somehow part of “a plot by evil extraterrestrials.”

Li Hongzhi has also claimed that a “black substance” accumulates in the body due to homosexuality, which causes bad health. He labeled the LGBT community “disgusting,” and stated one day the LGBT community will be “eliminated” by “the gods.”

What will BU do to protect its students from this hateful and homophobic “cult” recruiting on its campus?

Will students be informed?

Will BU educate its students about the dangers of cults?

A new voice in Marsh Chapel?

Marsh Chapel

Marsh Chapel

Dean Robert Thornberg died in 2013. He was once the Dean of Marsh Chapel at BU. Thornberg oversaw religious activities at BU and taught at its School of Theology. “For 23 years he was the voice of Marsh Chapel,” according his obituary in the Boston Globe.

Now Falun Dafa has announced it will be a weekly voice within the “Room of Robinson Chapel, Marsh Chapel, Boston University.”

Note: The book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” has two chapters devoted to Falun Gong. One focuses on the history of the group and its leader and another about how an American family staged an intervention to get someone out.

Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille directed a documentary about a cult called the Source Family, led by Jim Baker, who called himself “Father Yod.” Baker’s followers worked at one of “America’s first vegetarian restaurants” in Los Angeles, which produced cash flow for the group that lived communally in Hollywood Hills. The essentially one-sided documentary presents Source Family as fringy and somewhat bizarre, but not sinister. The filmmakers apparently decided to depict Baker as an eccentric, but benign leader.

However, there is a blog online with first-hand account from a former Source Family member that paints an entirely different and dark picture of both Baker and his group. The blog “Life In The Source Family” recounts the often painful experiences of people that actually lived through and endured Baker’s authoritarian rule during the 1970s.

In a recent blog installment titled “My Own Moral Outrage” a former member of Source Family recounts, “Jim Baker’s own attitude and belief towards the women.” It seems Baker “decided as the group’s head honcho how women’s bodies would be utilized in his cult/group.” And Baker “never once asked what any of [his followers] wanted. He just expected everyone to obey his directives, along with instructing the women on what their roles or duties were to be; which was to be of service to the men.” Baker even referred to some of the women as his “milk cows.”

The blogger says, “It was not until ‘the family’ ended and we all dispersed and went our own separate ways that many former ‘source family’ members were able to deprogram themselves and look back critically and objectively at what we had been made to do/coerced to do while in ‘the source family.’”

Jim Baker aka "Father Yod"

Jim Baker aka “Father Yod”

So what about the rather rosy role of counter-culture trailblazer that Demopoulos and Wille seem to depict of Baker in their documentary?

“It is deceptive for those who continue to present only the window dressing of The Source Family to make it look appealing and to be viewed in a favorable light by the public leaving out entirely the fact that Jim Baker expected men and women to perform a sexual ritual, which caused more harm than good and that was the equivalent of a physical and psychological abuse of power,” states the morally outraged blogger.

The ex-member concludes, “The Source Family was a travesty of women’s rights and the rights of children to receive medical treatment; especially when it was available. It is time that people felt a moral outrage about men who think/believe that they should be the ones to decide what happens to a woman’s body or to the bodies of their own children.”

The Cult Education Institute (CEI) online library has archived articles about Source Family and its leader Baker. But these news reports and reviews largely reflect coverage of the documentary directed by Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille. In order to provide better balance the Source Family page within the CEI database now includes a prominently displayed link to “Life in the Source Family.”

Jim Baker is dead and like most cults when the leader dies the group often withers away and dissipates.

But there are many people that were hurt and scarred by Jim Baker and their stories should be known, not just the misleading hipster/vegan counter-culture narrative promoted by the Demopoulos and Wille documentary.

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Self-styled “counter-cult” crusader Anton Hein runs from Amsterdam in the Netherlands that are supposedly devoted to enlightening people about groups he calls “cults.” Hein preaches his particular brand of religion and leads a so-called “house church,” though he is not an ordained minister or recognized as an authority about anything. His main website where he sells advertising is called “Apologetics Index” and he also runs several other sites related to the subject of cults and/or religion.

Hein has cultivated quite a following on Twitter, where he has thousands of followers. But what most people don’t know about Anton Hein is that he is fugitive sex offender with a felony warrant issued for immediate arrest in the United States.

Hein was charged and convicted for “the crime of LEWD ACT UPON A CHILD.” Hein sexually abused his 13-year-old niece.

Since his conviction, despite ultimately admitting his guilt in court, Hein now claims he was somehow really innocent. In a long rambling apology at his website Hein attacks the credibility of his victim rather than admitting his own sin, which according to Christianity, is a sign of true repentance. Hein instead lists the alleged sins of his niece.

Anton Hein (Police file photo  19940

Anton Willem Hein (Sex Offender file photo 1994)

Cult News recently received the official court records regarding Anton Hein’s criminal case. These documents are now posted online, which include Hein’s Declaration (plea agreement), Criminal Minute Order, felony complaint and the final Pronouncement of Judgement.

Hein says, “The lewd act I plead guilty to is applying sperm-killing cream at the request and insistence of my niece, after she had had intercourse with a boy.” Hein states that his niece subsequently “developed a vaginal infection.” And that “at the hospital the doctor determined there were scratches.” The doctor then reported the situation. The authorities responded to the doctor’s report by arresting and prosecuting Anton Hein. Apparently the doctor, police and prosecutor didn’t believe Hein’s “sperm-killing” story.

After reviewing the documents an interesting discrepancy became evident between Anton Hein’s public statements and his criminal record. Hein says there was only one incident, which led to his criminal conviction. However, the felony complaint lists two criminal counts. The first count occurred “on and between March 14, 1994 and March 20, 1994″ and the second “on and between March 20, 1994 and June 14, 1994.”

So it seems, according to the court record, Anton Hein sexually abused his niece more than once and repeatedly committed a “lewd act upon a child.” Something Hein doesn’t admit in his long apology. Instead, he says there was only one incident, which was somehow misunderstood, that led to sex charges being filed against him.

Cult News asked Anton Hein to explain this contradiction for clarification, but received no response.

It should be noted that since his felony conviction, time served and registration in California as a sex offender Hein violated the terms of his release. There is currently a felony warrant issued for his immediate arrest if he ever attempts to reenter the United States. The warrant is listed under Anton Willem Hein at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s website.

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Children are dying of medical neglect needlessly while the Idaho State legislature dithers doing nothing to protect them.

The Idaho Statesman recently reported that five children died directly due to medical neglect because their parents belong to religious groups that don’t believe in modern medicine.

But rather than being prosecuted for manslaughter parents in Idaho are instead protected by a religious exemption.

Religious groups such as General Assembly of the First Born and Followers of Christ implicitly expect adherents to refuse medical care.

But does religious liberty preclude the right of child to live and somehow negate the responsibility of a parent to facilitate proper care? Certainly such needless deaths fit well within the realm of child abuse of the worst sort.

Parents have been charged, convicted criminally and sentenced to prison terms in other states for what apparently is considered a religious right in Idaho.

The Child Fatality Review Team annual report covered 2013 and now brings the total number of deaths to 10 since 2011 in Idaho.

All five dead children added to the list recently were infants.

Causes of death included birth-related complications and according to authorities they all could have been saved with proper medical care.

Why won’t Idaho protect helpless babies?

Well, Idaho Governor Butch Otter says that state lawmakers have agreed to at least talk about it, but so far there is no schedule even set for the promised discussion.

While the lawmakers look for an opening on their calendars children continue to suffer and die needlessly in Idaho.

Other states have removed religious exemptions regarding the medical care for minor children such as South Dakota, Oregon and Colorado.

When will Idaho act? How many more deaths will it take to convince legislators that changing the law is necessary?

Former White House director of public liaison Linda Chavez says, “As I have for the past few years, I will be emceeing an event that brings together tens of thousands of opponents of the Iranian regime…”

But does Ms. Chavez know that the “convener of the Paris conference” she will emcee is a purported “cult” leader once officially recognized by the US as a terrorist?

The event convener is Maryam Rajavi, wife of notorious “cult” leader Massoud Rajavi (rumored to be dead). The couple is known for their authoritarian control of the so-called “People’s Mujahedeen” (MEK), which was once listed by the United States State Department as a “terrorist organization.” That is, until 2012 when it was decided that the MEK be dropped from the list.

However, Mila Johns of the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism told Wired, “The delisting of the MEK, following a well-funded political lobby campaign, creates the dangerous impression that it is possible for terrorist organizations to buy their way off the [terrorism] list.”

Maryam Rajavi

Maryam Rajavi

In a 2004 New York Times Magazine reported about the “cult-like behavior” of the MEK. Journalist Elizabeth Rubin wrote, ”Every morning and night, the [MEK] kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,” One former member told Rubin that the group was little more than a “husband-and-wife cult” that subjected its adherents to enforced celibacy and public confessions of sexual desires. Rubin reported that not unlike some of the most extreme cults MEK members were often extremely isolated within a compound where there was little if any access to “newspapers or radio or television” and that all devotees knew was whatever Mr. and Mrs.Rajavi “fed them.”

In a recent interview a former Rajavi follower Masoud Banisadr said that “In MEK, we were not even allowed to think of our children and their well-being.” He further explained, “You have to teach your children: instead of loving you, love the leader.” Banisadr is the author of the book Destructive and Terrorist Cults: A New Kind of Slavery.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez

Why would Linda Chavez want to align herself with such a notorious group? Is it possible she is clueless and doesn’t know the group’s history and how the MEK has hurt and/or horribly exploited people?

Or is Ms. Chavez simply picking up a paycheck?

Four years ago the BBC reported that “the going rate for a pro-MEK speech seems to be $20,000 (£12,500).”

How much might the purported “cult” be willing to pay for a prominent emcee to imbue its event with a patina of authority?

Is Linda Chavez cashing in on her past status as the highest-ranking woman in President Ronald Reagan’s White House? Or is she trying to look important after the embarrassment of not being confirmed as President George W. Bush pick for Secretary of Labor?

Why would someone like Ms. Chavez want to help a “husband-and-wife cult” once listed as a terrorist organization?

Cult leader Jim Roberts is dead. He died in Denver during December according to an official coroner’s report obtained by a member of the Cult Education Institute (CEI) message board. Roberts ruled with absolute authority over his small flock of followers, which probably never numbered much more than a hundred core members.

The relatively obscure group often drew attention because of its bizarre behavior. Known as both “The Brethren” and “The Brothers and Sisters” the group was also frequently called the “garbage eaters” due to its practice of feeding from garbage dumpsters. The nomadic cult recruited on college campuses and was the subject of news reports when students that joined suddenly vanished.

Roberts, a former Marine, known to his followers as ”The Elder” or “Brother Evangelist,” lived a very secretive life and was rarely photographed. In 1998 an ABC News crew, led by journalist Dianne Sawyer, managed to confront him. Roberts subsequently refused to answer questions and quickly ran away.

Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts

Roberts was pronounced dead on December 6, 2015 at 6:59 AM. The likely cause of death was cancer. Cult members identified the body and claimed that Jim Roberts had not seen a doctor in 40 years.  Upon his death Roberts, who was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 105 pounds and was clothed in a green T-shirt, khaki trousers and an adult diaper. Authorities obtained fingerprints and digital photographs.

Followers in the Roberts group often “suffered health problems” that could have been cured through modern medicine. Instead at times they died due to medical neglect. One reportedly passed away from pneumonia.

The Roberts group claimed to be based upon the bible, but was known for encouraging its members to terminate contact with family with and old friends. Members then wandered from place to place under Roberts’s guidance fund raising and attempting to persuade people to join the group. Cult members lived largely from charity and whatever food they could find, much like homeless people. One former member explained that Roberts “weaseled his way into control until next thing you knew he was running every aspect of your life.” Another former member described Roberts as a “paranoid megalomaniac.”

CEI has maintained a subsection about the Brethren led by Jim Roberts since the 1990s. Many complaints over the years came from families desperately trying to locate lost loved ones submerged in the group that remained isolated and dominated by Roberts. Hopefully, now that Jim Roberts is dead some of those families will find their lost loved ones through restored communication. However, it is likely that long-time Roberts loyalists, influenced by the cult leader’s teachings, will try to maintain the group mindset and to some extent its historic pattern of behavior.

Note: There is a website run by parents of members of the Jim Roberts group. Many are still searching for their children.

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Leah Remini’s new book is out “Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.” And once gain people struggle to understand why anyone would join something as seemingly outlandish as Scientology. But the fact is that no one knowingly makes such a choice. Certainly not before the Web and social media made Scientology’s secrets so easily accessible. When Leah Remini entered Scientology as a child she simply believed what Scientology told her and what her mother encouraged her to accept.

That’s how “normal” people get tricked and trapped into groups called “cults” like Scientology. No one truly enters such an authoritarian high demand group with fully informed consent.  Groups like Scientology deliberately withhold their secrets and refuse to let potential recruits fully understand how the group actually works, what it is really all about and what its ultimate demands might be. Remini reportedly gave millions of dollars to Scientology, but was only allowed to learn what Scientology was willing to share step-by-step per a price list.

There have been many young people brought into Scientology through family ties like Remini. This list includes the rocker Beck, actor Danny Masterson and Elvis’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley. People are often introduced to groups called “cults” by someone they trust.

It has been stated or implied that somehow the victims of Scientology are to blame in some way for their own victimization. They supposedly had “blind faith.” a personality flaw, deficiency or lack of judgement that ultimately led to their demise. Nothing could be further from the truth. And anyone who seriously researchers in any depth the process of Scientology’s recruitment and retention tactics can easily see this.

The initial TRs (training routines) in Scientology amount to little more than breaking people down, engendering dependency and submission rather than promoting some deeper understanding of anything to improve and empower people. As Scientologists move through this training and courses their dependency upon the organization is intentionally nurtured and grows until the typical Scientologist finds it difficult to make independent value judgements or critically think outside of Scientology’s closed system. That system becomes a kind of box of containment or mental prison.51228S+Y3TL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)

Every Scientologist learns an internal group vocabulary of loaded language established by Scientology founder and former science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, which is filled with thought terminating clichés. This manipulative verbiage is an excellent example of what author George Orwell called “doublespeak” in his book “1984.” Scientology’s founder and its current leader David Miscavige could easily fulfill the role of Orwell’s character “Big Brother.”  Scientology knowingly produces what can be seen as “blind faith” by confining and blinding people within its own alternate reality. Scientologists can essentially become mindless pawns manipulated by L. Ron Hubbard’s system and replicated to embrace his worldview.

Scientology’s organizational glue, which holds its adherents rigidly in place, is its ongoing check and countercheck system of enforcement that is implemented through a multi-layered organizational machine as conceived and constructed by L. Ron Hubbard. This operational machine includes key components such as auditing (enforced confession with the help of an e-meter that measures nervous tension ) coupled with the formation of files composed of personal information obtained through the auditing process and other sources such as “knowledge reports” from Scientologists (e.g. spouses, family, friends within Scientology). All of this ongoing policing is done by dedicated Scientologists performing their relegated roles within the Hubbard machine. This includes designated twins in training routines, auditors, course supervisors and ethics officers.

There is a kind of bullying and intimidation known as “handling” that goes on in Scientology.  Having people handled is part of the policing process within Scientology and it is used to keep people under control. There are also substantial exit costs involved if a Scientologist considers leaving, which further reinforces control and silences dissent or critical questions. The exit costs of leaving Scientology can include the probability of being declared a PTS (potential trouble source) or worse an SP (suppressive person). Subsequently, the former Scientologist can be disconnected from family, friends and business associates. Instead of taking the risk of being so marked many Scientologists suffer in silence, suppressing their doubts and negative feelings about the organization. Some that cannot suppress their feelings sufficiently may find themselves facing a punitive process, which might ultimately put them in RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force) as punishment. Reportedly RPF can be a horrible experience that includes what can be seen as slave labor, personal humiliation, general degradation and at times brutal physical violence. These factors keep many Scientologists silent and trapped for many years.

Scientologists ultimately become bound by what Scientology calls its “technology” or its “tech,” which is essentially the L. Ron Hubbard proscribed way of being, thinking and feeling about everything.

The idea that anyone really chooses Scientology knowingly and stays happily without some level of coercion is simply a myth perpetuated by ignorance. It does not reflect detailed research and analysis about the deceptive recruitment and indoctrination process used by Scientology. Groups like Scientology are often quite deliberately deceptive and use coercive persuasion and influence techniques to gain advantage over people and control them.

scientologyThe Machiavellian way in which Hubbard designed the interlocking mechanisms of his Scientology machine represents whatever real “genius” the former science fiction writer possessed.

People placing blame on Scientology’s victims frequently say they should have noticed “red flags” or “warning signs” when they went through their recruitment and indoctrination process. Somehow common sense should have saved them.

But these notions again reflect a basic ignorance of how Scientology and other groups called “cults” really work. There are no red flags that are evident to people who have had their critical thinking and ability to make independent value judgements deliberately shut down by a group like Scientology. The training, auditing, courses and policing done within the organization effectively blinds people so that they cannot see the warning signs and their common sense is strategically short circuited by the group’s coercive persuasion tactics.

Individual accountability is only possible if people have the ability to genuinely reflect and critically evaluate a situation free of undue influence. People in groups called “cults” don’t truly regain their individual autonomy until after they leave the group and have effectively unplugged themselves from the system and exited the box that held them. After leaving the group environment and its control of information and communication former members can then begin an independent process of sorting through and unraveling their experience.

We are all vulnerable to persuasion. If this were not true there would be no advertising, political propaganda or money paid for celebrity endorsements. It’s wrong to blame or shame people for simply being human. We are all vulnerable to deception and manipulation. By accepting this reality we can better understand and recognize the tricks and traps used by destructive cults.

Groups called “cults” can be seen as a confidence game. But unlike the typical con man who moves on after his scam has succeeded–the cult leader keeps conning and exploiting the same people indefinitely.

Specifically focused education about the recruitment and retention tactics of groups called “cults” is a crucial factor in avoiding their con game.

Knowledge about coercive persuasion, influence techniques and corresponding behavior modification began decades ago through the research and published work of MIT professor Edgar Schein (1961), Harvard University instructor, researcher and medical doctor Robert Jay Lifton (1961) and UC Berkeley professor and clinical psychologist Margaret Singer (research and published work 1953-2001). Later, authors and communication experts Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman (“Snapping” 1978, “Holy Terror” 1982), ASU professor of psychology Robert Cialdini (“Influence” 1984) and sociologists Richard Ofshe (research and published work 1974-2000), Benjamin Zablocki (research and published work 1971-2001) and others significantly added to this growing body of research.

To better understand how the basic building blocks of coercive persuasion, thought reform and influence techniques work together to gain undue influence see the following:

“Cult Formation,” by Robert Jay Lifton, MD

“Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism,” by Robert Jay Lifton, MD

“Coercive Persuasion and Attitude Change,” By Richard Ofshe, PhD

Six Basic Principles of Influence, from the book “Influence” by Robert Cialdini, PhD

Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric Casualties,” by Margaret Singer, PhD

Chart demonstrating distinctions between various forms of persuasion (education, advertising, propaganda, indoctrination and thought reform), by Margaret Singer, PhD

A list of persuasion techniques by Margaret Singer, PhD

Edgar Schein’s seminal book “Coercive Persuasion : A Socio-psychological Analysis of the ‘Brainwashing’ of American Civilian Prisoners by the Chinese Communists” (1961) and Conway and Siegelman’s classic “Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change” (1978) explain how people can be tricked and trapped through coercive persuasion and communication tactics.

Schein (1961) and Lifton (1961) established the foundation of coercive persuasion or thought reform and how it is used to shape and mold a predetermined and preferred mindset. Singer (research and published work 1953-2001) and Ofshe (research and published work 1974-2000) extensively explained how coercive persuasion and behavior modification worked within the process of cult indoctrination. Conway and Siegelman identified what they called “information disease” (1978), which is accomplished through the control of information and communication. They further described the role of “emotional control” in schemes of coercive persuasion within their second book “Holy Terror” (1982). Taken together this body of work explains how behavior modification, information control, thought reform and emotional control can function in tandem together  as strategic tools used by authoritarian high demand groups called “cults” to effectively break people down and shape their consciousness for the purpose of exploitation through undue influence.

In his book (1961) about coercive persuasion Edgar Schein described this process in three basic stages, which he calls “unfreezing,” “changing” and then “refreezing” the person subjected to this process.

Scientology promises many things and presents itself in various forms, such as drug rehabilitation, study technology and other incarnations. Whatever works to draw people into the system Hubbard devised to break them down, force them to change and ultimately freeze them within his system. This process has hurt many people.

The key to freedom from Scientology is understanding and unraveling Hubbard’s system of control and breaking out of his machine.

Reading the writings of the previously listed authors can make a huge difference in the recovery process of any former member of a purported cult like Scientology. It allows the ex-member the ability to identify and unravel the specific programming done by the group, which has affected their thinking and feelings. Education is the key that unlocks the box.

My book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” (2014) includes a detailed history of modern cults beginning with Charles Manson to groups called “cults” today. There are two chapters devoted exclusively to Scientology. One about the history of Scientology and another about a successful family intervention to get a 27-year member out of the group. The book explains what is commonly called “cult brainwashing” and identifies the nucleus for a definition of a destructive cult. My book is a synthesis of properly attributed and footnoted research regarding the coercive persuasion and influence techniques used by destructive cults to gain undue influence. There are more than 1,200 footnotes and an 18-page bibliography, which can help the reader delve more deeply into various aspects of the cult phenomenon. This is an important issue today as the world faces the violence of what President Obama has called an “apocalyptic cult” known as ISIS. Destructive cults have become a global concern.

What Scientology does has been done by many other groups called “cults” over the decades and it’s important to contextualize Scientology within that history.

Leah Remini has heroically managed to unplug herself from the L. Ron Hubbard machine. She has effectively left the box that once contained her and courageously shared her story to help others find their voice and follow in her footsteps. Remini can now communicate in her own words instead of the stilted verbiage once imposed upon her by Scientology. Remini is not being handled by Scientology and no longer needs to suppress her independent thinking. She is free to live her life without the fetters of Hubbard’s technology. Remini is also fortunate that she has managed to leave Scientology with her family intact.

Most former Scientologists to some extent and at some point beat themselves up over their past. They can be quite hard and self-critical about their time in Scientology. It serves no useful purpose and only compounds their pain to blame them or somehow imply that were in some way complicit in their own victimization.

In my opinion L. Ron Hubbard’s innate ability as a master manipulator was his real skill. Hubbard’s conception and construction of a relatively complex multi-layered control system to break people and keep them in silent submission was his ultimate achievement and the fact that this machine is still running today is Hubbard’s lasting legacy. The evil genius of this machine is that each of its individual parts is composed of people under the influence of Hubbard’s mindset dutifully performing their function to enforce Scientology control. The “brainwashed” unknowingly perpetuating Hubbard’s brand of “brainwashing.”

The Cult Education Institute has one of the largest archives of information about Scientology on the Web. This online database, which is a nonprofit public library, was initially launched in 1996 and continues to be added to and updated on an ongoing basis.

Hubbard made many claims. But apparently in the end Scientology was unable to save him from himself. He reportedly died isolated, medicated, estranged from family members and seemingly terrified of perceived dark forces.  Ironically the life of L. Ron Hubbard ultimately disproved his self-improvement theories.

Again, it is vitally important not to shame or blame the victims of groups like Scientology. We must not indict them with accusations of “blind faith,” but rather question who systematically blinded them and endeavor to comprehend how this process was accomplished. Shame and blame must not become am impediment that former cult members are forced to overcome.  No one who has endured a group like Scientology deserves such recrimination and treatment as they go through what is often a painful and challenging process of recovery.

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Kim Davis apparently has become a Christian martyr to some Evangelicals, including former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee and United States Senator Ted Cruz. Both men are Southern Baptists seeking the office of President of the United States.

However, what Huckabee and Cruz don’t know about the Kentucky county clerk recently jailed for her stand against gay marriage is that she believes that all Christians that don’t subscribe to her sect’s specific beliefs will be denied salvation and apparently spend eternity in hell.

Davis belongs to the Solid Rock Apostolic Church in Morehead, Kentucky. Solid Rock is a member of Apostolic Pentecostal Churches and Ministries and is listed at its directory for Kentucky.

The Apostolic Church website lists “60 questions on the Godhead,” which specifically deny the existence of the trinity as believed by the overwhelming majority of Christians, including Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz.

The Apostolic Church website also explains “Why We Baptize in Jesus’ Name,” which excludes the efficacy of any other baptism formula, such as those done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit., which represents what Apostolic Churches consider the false doctrine of the trinity. This “formula of baptism” is essential for salvation. As the Apostolic Churches website states, “Out basic and fundamental doctrine shall be the Bible standard of full salvation, which is the absolute essentiality of repentance, baptism in water by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.”

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Kim Davis, county clerk

The Apostolic Church further concludes, “We believe the Bible teaches that the above statement to be essential and not subsequent to salvation.”

What this means is that anyone, including Evangelicals like Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, are required to meet these requirements or they have no salvation and will apparently be condemned to hell. According to Kim Davis’ beliefs the pastor and former governor of Arkansas and the United States senator must renounce their false beliefs about the no deposit online casino trinity and be re-baptized only in the name of Jesus and thus become true believers. Anything less is unacceptable to God according to Davis and her church.

U.S. Senator Cruz, flanked by Senator Lee and Senator Vitter, speaks against pending immigration legislation during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

United States Senator Ted Cruz

The formula Huckabee and Cruz must follow for their redemption according to Ms. Davis’ beliefs is reiterated as “The Apostles’ Doctrine at the official church association website. It states, “Water baptism is an essential part of New Testament salvation and not merely a symbolic ritual.” And nothing less than the strict formula as proscribed by Kim Davis’ church will fulfill this requirement. The Apostolic Church website says, “The name in which baptism is administered is vitally important, and this name is Jesus.” This formula for baptism has often been called the “Jesus Name Only Baptism,” by members of the United Pentecostal Church International, which is the most prominent denomination of Pentecostals that subscribe to this doctrine. The Assemblies of God, which is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world today, believes in the trinity and has no such baptismal requirements.

The United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) and some other Pentecostal splinter groups, which seems to include the Apostolic Pentecostal Churches and Ministries that lists Kim Davis’ Solid Rock Apostolic Church, also subscribe to what is often called the “Holiness Standards.” That is, a strict code of dress and grooming. The holiness standards includes rules about such things as the length of woman’s dress, wearing makeup, certain jewelry and hair length. Kim Davis’ appearance seems to suggest that her church encourages its members to follow such holiness standards, similar to those mandated for women by the UPCI.

So what do Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and the other Evangelicals supporting Kim Davis know about all of this? Does the newly anointed martyr for religious freedom really believe in religious freedom? Or is Kim Davis only posing as a mainstream Evangelical when she is really from a fringe Pentecostal group that condemns Christians who disagree with its doctrine?

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Pastor Mike Huckabee

Will Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and other Evangelical supporters of Ms. Davis follow her example and go to an Apostolic Church to be re-baptized to insure their salvation?

Probably not.

Would Ms. Davis recognize Pastor Huckabee and Senator Cruz’ existing baptisms as valid, despite the fact that they did not follow the Apostolic Church formula?

Probably not.

Does Ms. Davis and her church really believe in freedom of faith for Evangelicals? Or is the country clerk caught up in a form of religious legalism that doesn’t recognize the salvation of her fellow Christians?

It seems that despite receiving their support Kim Davis believes that Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, along with the vast majority of Evangelicals, are condemned to hell unless they repent and are baptized according to the “formula” Ms. Davis accepts.

Update: It seems that Pope Francis now also endorses Kim Davis. But does Pope Francis know that she believes he is damned to hell? According to Kim Davis and her church Pope Francis must repent concerning his false belief in the trinity and be re-baptized in Jesus name only to receive salvation. Reportedly, Pope Francis is praying for Kim Davis.

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