Is the WTS/JWs a cult?
Since we had no JWD today I was busy
Ödenoted where the WTS meets the criteria red text are my comments
Cults in our Midstby Margaret Thaler Singer with Janja Lalach p 58-59
- Focus of body of knowledge
- Improper and unethical techniques. Ö Recruiters are instructed to lie if asked direct questions about the purpose of the "study"
- The tactics of a thought-reform program are organized to:
- Destabilize a person's sense of self, Ö
- Get the person to drastically reinterpret his or her life's history and radically alter his or her worldview and accept a new version of reality and causality, Ö
- Develop in the person a dependence on the organization, and thereby turn the person into a deployable agent of the organization. Ö
Criteria for Thought Reform. Margaret Thaylor Singer
- Keep the person unaware of what is going on and the changes taking place. Ö The recruits is unaware that they are being manipulated. Even long-term group members are unaware of the hidden agenda
- Control the person's time and, if possible, physical environment Ö While the ability to move potential recruits physically from their environment they are mentally alerted to expect a negative response from other people
- Create a sense of powerlessness, covert fear, and dependency. Ö Presented with a fatalistic perspective of world affairs they are presented with one positive solution – theirs. Survival and dependency require belief in and participation with the group
- Suppress much of the person's old behavior and attitudes. Ö Undesirable personality traits are discouraged. Emphasis is always placed on being "acceptable" in the narrow vision presented by the group
- 5. Instill new behavior and attitudes. Ö Reminders of proper grooming and behavior are frequently given to move the new recruit to conform to what is acceptable Long time members are repeatedly told to "do more"
- Put forth a closed system of logic; allow no real input or criticism. Ö Information from outside the group is forbidden. Suspicion regarding anything or anyone from outside the group is viewed as suspicion and even Satanic. Teachings can only be understood through the group’s leadership.
Thought Reform and the Psychology or Totalism (Lifton)
- Milieu control.
(Schein 1961; Ofshe and Singer 1986). The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:
- The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance
When God Becomes Evil by Charles Kimball
5 Warning Signs of Corruption in Religion (written to apply to Middle-Eastern political cults)
- Absolute Truth Claims Ö The group is the sole owner of truth as defined by the group.
- Blind Obedience Ö Discussion about the groups beliefs are strictly forbidden. Doubting the groups ideology is the equivalent of doubt God/Allah or the whatever
- Establishing the "Ideal" Time Ö The group sets its own timetable for events whether that is a time for God to intervene or for them to take some particular action
- The End Justifies Any Means Ö Little care is given to the individual members well-being. They are martyrs for the cause. Even if that means the death of group members
- Declaring Holy War Ö The group has the right to determine the war and who is the opposition. "us versus Them" thinking allows them to kill anyone who is not on their side. (While the JWs don’t actually kill opposers they do treat those who leave as if they are dead. And while their holy war is not conducted by them they do declare God’s holy war is "soon"
Mind Control - The BITE Model
From chapter two of Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves*
© 2000 by Steven Hassan
Destructive mind control can be understood in terms of four basic components, which form the acronym BITE:
- Behavior Control
- Information Control
- Thought Reform
- Emotional Control
I. Behavior Control
1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
- Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals Ö
3. Need to ask permission for major decisions Ö
4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors Ö
5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative). Ö
6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails Ö
7. Rigid rules and regulations Ö
8. Need for obedience and dependency Ö
II. Information Control
1. Use of deception
- Deliberately holding back information
2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
- Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
- Information is not freely accessible
4. Spying on other members is encouraged
- Pairing up with "buddy" system to monitor and control Ö
- Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
- Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
6. Unethical use of confession
- Information about "sins" used to abolish identity boundaries
III. Thought Control
1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
- Map = Reality
2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words". Ö
3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged. Ö
4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
- Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate Ö
6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful Ö
IV. Emotional Control
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings. Ö
2. Make the person feel like if there are never any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's. Ö
3. Excessive use of guilt
- Identity guilt
- Who you are (not living up to your potential)
5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions Ö
- Social guilt Ö
- Historical guilt Ö
4. Excessive use of fear
- Fear of thinking independently
5. Extremes of emotional highs and lows. Ö
6. Ritual and often public confession of "sins". Ö indirectly
7. Phobia indoctrination : programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
- No happiness or fulfillment "outside" of the group