Do you feel that it is ethical behavior to shun?
CULTS - need some captions ... (Look! Fun inside!)
1. The Guru is always right.
The Guru, his church, and his teachings are always right, and above criticism, and beyond reproach.
In some cults, the guru is dead, but the principle is the same. I use the word "guru" loosely here; in many cults the charismatic leader has the title of minister, priest, yogi,(GB Member), swami, prophet, or all-knowing wise man. Or even, "Chairman Mao." In any case, the leader is always right.
Likewise, the teachings of the guru are always right, and when he dies, his writings become holy scriptures, infallible and unquestionable. And the guru's church is always right, and the guru's successors are always right, and everything about the cult is always right.
Jeffrey Masson had this to say about phony gurus:
Every guru claims to know something you cannot know by yourself or through ordinary channels. All gurus promise access to a hidden reality if only you will follow their teaching, accept their authority, hand your life over to them. Certain questions are off limits. There are things you cannot know about the guru and the guru's personal life. Every doubt about the guru is a reflection of your own unworthiness, or the influence of an external evil force. The more obscure the action of the guru, the more likely it is to be right, to be cherished. Ultimately you cannot admire the guru, you must worship him. You must obey him, you must humble yourself, for the greater he is, the less you are -- until you reach the inner circle and can start abusing other people the way your guru abused you. All this is in the very nature of being a guru.
My Father's Guru, Jeffrey Masson, 1993, page 173.
There is one big disadvantage for the guru when the cult declares that he is perfect -- he has to act that way, and at least do a good job of faking it. If he is found to be stealing all of the money and screwing all of the girls, it can hurt his believability. A few cults have a clever work-around that spares the cult leader from having to be perfect: Somebody Else, like a dead saint, or an angel, or Jesus, or the Virgin Mary, is the perfect one, and the cult leader merely "channels" the Perfect Master's messages. In that way, what the leader says is still unquestionably true and unchallengeable, because it comes from a Higher Power, but the cult leader can indulge in all of the pleasures of the flesh himself without creating a contradiction. After all, he never said that he was perfect, or any more holy than anybody else. He is just more attuned to the Higher Spheres, and able to hear the Voice of a Higher Power...
2. You are always wrong.
The individual members of the cult are told that they are inherently small, weak, stupid, ignorant, and sinful. Cult members are routinely criticized, shamed, ridiculed, discounted, diminished, and told in dozens of ways that they are not good enough.
"Men, in order to do evil, must first believe that what they are doing is good." == Alexander Solzhenitsyn
82. Denial of the truth. Reversal of reality. Rationalization and Denial.
A cult is an assemblage of people who don't want to know the truth. They often claim that they do; they may talk about "Seeking the Truth", or "Seeking to Understand the Word of the Lord", or even "having the Truth", but they actually do not want to hear the truth. They just want their own beliefs and superstitions confirmed.
* reject the truth,
* deny the truth,
* won't hear the truth,
* don't tell the truth,
* ignore the truth,
* dislike the truth,
* abhor the truth,
* avoid honest, intelligent discussions of the truth,
* and even lie about telling the truth.
Cult leaders often practice what psychologists call projection -- just accuse 'the enemy' of committing whatever crimes and sins the cult leader is actually committing. That's another aspect of reversal of reality.
Cults are quick to deny the truth whenever they are the subject of valid criticism.
It just occurred to me that jw's ask 80 questions of prospective inductees. There are over 80 on the above site that ought to be asked by the inductee of whether they apply to jw's.