I am stymied why – why would a religious group who has fought to become mainstream and avoid being labeled as a cult would lead a harassment campaign? The methods used are many of the same used in shunning but multiplied by 10, with some particularly heinous extras thrown in.
From a Huffington Post article. Italics are my words.
Is it a Cult? The Top Ten Signs the ‘Group’ You’ve Joined is Not what It Seems
- The leader and group are always correct and anything the leader does can be justified. If you go to ex Mormon sites, members talk about this at great length. The leaders always have the answers or come back and ask questions themselves.
- Questions, suggestions, or critical inquiry are forbidden. Oh yes, people might ask questions, but leaders dance around the answers or the member are questioned about their faith. In other words, the persons words are twisted and the member is basically put on trial for even asking the question. Catch 22
- Members incessantly scramble with cramped schedules and activities full of largely meaningless work based on the leader’s agenda
- Followers are meant to believe that they are never good enough. Well, they have to keep proving themselves. Houses are visited once a month by a person who is there to ask questions and made sure they stay on the right path. Members are not trusted to be good enough. The community is watching each other closely in order to keep everyone in line.
- Required dependency upon the leader and group for even the most basic problem-solving. Members are expected to not question and that the way the Mormon church does something is the right way, and they only right way.
- Reporting on members for disobedient actions or thoughts is mandated and rewarded. This may be the area that the Mormon Church has really gone strong. I recently read that during a mission, the missionaries’ partners are changed often. They are expected to keep watch on each other. A few people mentioned how
- Monetary, sexual, or servile labor is expected to gain promotion.
- The ‘outside’ world — often including family and friends — is presented as rife with impending catastrophe, evil, and temptations.
- Recruitment of new members is designed to be purposefully upbeat and vague about the actual operations of the leader and group.
- Former members are shunned and perceived as hostile.
Jayanti Tamm is the author of Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult (Three Rivers Press). She is a Visiting Professor in the MFA Program at Queens College, CUNY.