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What do CULT members have in common?

I am just home from a terrific talk on cults by Lisa Kendall of Portland, Oregon. Her family joined a cult called The Move of God, which Wikipedia calls a nondemoninational charismatic Christian group. It happened because her 7 year old sibling made friends with another 7 year old on the walk home from school, in a city that seems as safe as Portland.

According to Lisa, what cult members have in common is that they do not see themselves as being in a cult. Instead, members are likely to see their "group" as a community. Don't we all crave community? Isn't isolation one of the biggest problems of modern life?? Yes, finally they found people whose values and practices agreed with them. ((Denial is a very big river. Have you ever taken a dip?))

At 17 she moved to a farm in Minnesota where in essence she became a slave. She was a restless teen, ready to leave. She didn't know that she would have to work 7 days a week, or that she would be denied necessary medical care. She escaped after two years, and she is now a speaker and advocate for helping people escape from cults and develop a more authentic identity.

What I didn't realize is how prevalent cults are. Sure, religions are everywhere, and authoritarian families, and strange cultures that I do not understand. There is a dividing line between cult and not cult, and the core of it is exploitation. Cults are "high demand groups" which exploit their women and children. She didn't dig into the ugliness that is the maleness at the top of the cult hierarchy, but she also didn't bring up any examples of cults dominated by females.

I missed the actual number of cults and I don't think she said the number of adherents. Apparently the International Cultic Studies Association doesn't even recognize the "group" that her family joined a as a cult----yet. They define cult as "an ideological organization, held together by charismatic relationships, and demanding high levels of commitment".

There are other definitions. Steven Hassan provides the "BITE" model which refers to the control of Behavior, Information, Thought and Emotion. BITE techniques are used in terrorism and human trafficking as well as by religious and spiritual zealots.

Unfortunately I don't have time to unpack all that I learned tonight but I did take notes, and I will write some more about this soon. For the moment, I am creating a **new tag: cult** and getting back to the final report I must provide in thanks for the grant that my business received this year.

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