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Cult de-prommaning, just another cult?

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posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 10:46 AM
Happy New Year everybody!
I'm wondering about the concept of "cult-deprogramming".
I mean, to what are cultists being "deprogrammed" to?
To accept the MSM world, or perhaps to become mainstream fundamentalists?
I read a lot on cults lately on Rick Ross, and I still don't understand what makes a cult uniquely different to a mainstream church, sect or faith?
I will keep my OP intro short, and hope to get open-minded views.
Perhaps we should all be "deprogrammed" from religion to empirical atheism?
Surely changing from one religion to a more "functional" religion is "conversion", and not "re/de-programming"!
I especially wonder about evangelical Christianity since Hal Lindsay's books: what makes their millenialist predictions less cult-like than the Jehova's Wittnesses, or several other dooms-day cults?

[edit on 3-1-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 11:06 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

The simple answer is that a "cult" is a belief system that one wishes to put down or insult.

Being "de-programmed" to empirical atheism has its own problems. Being "de-programmed" at all sounds awfully suspicious. Simplest would be to get the person to be open to questioning things.

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 11:11 AM
Certainly it is!! It is "de-programming" you into thinking like the rest of society, which in and of itself is a form of "brainwashing."

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 11:21 AM
Good point OP. Rick Ross and other "De-Programmers" consider all other views than materialist reductionist atheism to require "de-programming" - if it werent so sinister Id say the concept is hilarious.

There are some foul apples out there that deserve to be called cults, but its leaders dont need deprogramming they need to be jailed and the followers need therapeutic care. Other than that, most thing that pass as "cults" in the deprogrammers community are just normal Religions, normal spin-offs of Religions, Spirituality, and harmless new-age workshops.

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 11:29 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

Fair enough to the the two posts above. But does this mean it would have been OK to leave people with Jim Jones, the Moonies and others?
Perhaps Jim Jones is a good example, because unlike other 1970's cults he was considered "Christian"?
It's easy to apply labels in hindsight.
But then again people are worried about the "Christian right in the US". Some even label the leadership of George W. Bush as a "cult" presidency.
I guess "deprogramming" is done by power and majority.
However, I saw a program on "The house of Jahweh", and here it seems a "cult" is truly different from mainstream faiths.

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 11:34 AM

Originally posted by halfoldman

Fair enough to the the two posts above. But does this mean it would have been OK to leave people with Jim Jones, the Moonies and others?

You have to keep in mind that "cults" like The People's Temple and Banch Davidians were rather obscure. Noone heard anything about them till they were provoked by, yes, society.

Most people that just lived down the road from the Branch Davidians didn't even realize they were out there untill the ATF pulled their shenanigans. They weren't bothering anyone. Leave them alone. It's real simple.

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 12:02 PM
Cults have always been a pet interest of mine, so I'll try and fill a little info in. But here is a brief but good summary from

"Three ideas seem essential to the concept of a cult. One is thinking in terms of us versus them with total alienation from "them." The second is the intense, though often subtle, indoctrination techniques used to recruit and hold members. The third is the charismatic cult leader. Cultism usually involves some sort of belief that outside the cult all is evil and threatening; inside the cult is the special path to salvation through the cult leader and his teachings."

Christianity met the definition of cult in it's first days, as did Buddhism and most religions (although there is much less xenophobia in early Buddhism). But while the semantics are hard to pin down, if you do enough reading, there are undeniably groups which are cults. Their dangerousness comes down to the active application of social control techniques, isolating members from non-church friends and family, continual demands for members money, etc. Without these aspects, the group is rarely dangerous.

I find it more effective to conceptualize cults by looking at the effects on their believers, verses whatever doctrine the leader might be teaching. As an atheist, they are both preaching nonsense and have a very checkered past. But when looked at on the individual level, cults tend to be far more harmful to the adherent than religion. Although religions are no slouches in that department!

Realize also that when applied in an historical context (i.e., the cult of Dionysus), they actually mean something closer to a sect.

Mod Edit: New External Source Tags – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 1/5/2010 by TheRedneck]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 12:11 PM
reply to post by SpeakerofTruth

Strangely, I've never heard that so much about the Branch Davidians. I've read that survivalists and others thought it was a botched weapons' bust, but I've rarely heard sympathy for the alleged leader and his pedophilia going on there.
With the non-violence of "Heaven's gate" there was a huge amount of sympathy and well-wishes.
Perhaps the means over-ride the ends?
In any case, what about the non-violent freedom of choice of the Rastafarians to smoke ganja?
Do we tolerate cults simply because people could be doing something worse?
Or perhaps we should divide religions into "harmful"/"harmless" (in many cases we already do that).

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 12:17 PM

Originally posted by halfoldman

Strangely, I've never heard that so much about the Branch Davidians. I've read that survivalists and others thought it was a botched weapons' bust, but I've rarely heard sympathy for the alleged leader and his pedophilia going on there.

Well, apparently, you're not too informed about your subject matter then. Since 1993, there has been much sympathy for the Branch Davidians. Also, there has not been a single accusation against Koresh and his followers ever proven. Not one. As a matter of fact, several accusations have been disproven, particularly the paedophilia. Seventeen years later, and it's still accusation.

[edit on 3-1-2010 by SpeakerofTruth]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 12:27 PM
reply to post by DeathTribble

Just from memory after reading your cogent post on the topic: you seem to admit that "cult" and "religion" are semantic differences. Everything you mention on cults could apply to Baptists or fundamentalist mega-churches (powerful "cult-of-personality" leaders, money-focus, personal variations on known teachings).
But, what about atheists? They've only popped on University campuses here as organizations fairly recently, and they also have a degree of manipulation, money and cult-of-personality.
Is Buddhism a religion? No belief in God is necessary to my knowledge.
Well, we already hear of "commercial cults" like Herbalife or Amway, so to speak of "atheistic cults" is becoming relevant.
Cults do harm because of extremism - perhaps if we could all be programmed to mediocrity we'd be happy.

[edit on 3-1-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 12:35 PM
reply to post by SpeakerofTruth

I live in South Africa, so forgive me if I'm not au fait on all things "cult" in the USA. I've read in Icke and others that Waco was a US government slaughter and much propaganda. However, I also saw the program "Killer Cults" which showed some of the teenage girls who were allegedly raped by Koresh at the time. Are these girls liars, or were they somehow willing?

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 01:17 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

I don't disagree w/ much of what you have said. Buddhism is fascinating, isn't it? Some flavors are without gods, some flavours most definitely do (Tibetan Buddhism comes to mind). It could also very rightly be deemed a philosophy as much as anything else. But it did start w/ one leader and his adherents, and fulfills that same function as religious belief in gods, so seems relevant to the discussion.

For the rest, just compare and contrast the experience of being a Scientologist w/ being an atheist and I think you may find your answer. An atheist reads a bunch of books, some of whom may be by charismatic authors. But, then look at Scientology. You must spend thousands of dollars on the courses to gain their patented version of enlightenment, you are actively separated from your family and friends now deemed suppressive persons (not so w/ atheism), the group leaders deliberately use mind control/ "brain washing" techniques to ensure fidelity and instill their basic belief system whereas atheists do not. Group leaders demand complete authority over their members lives and actions (and even thoughts) and aberrations are usually violently dealt with. Atheists.... not so much. Atheists also don't "preach" (as it were), that non atheists are evil and are going to hell (an obvious point, but salient to our discussion). They do not attempt to control by instilling and playing off of humanity's most basic fears.

Athiets say they are right, but whoever sold a book all about how wrong they are? I see atheists as finally getting organized a bit and pushing back, but that's about it. Although I do concede that there are something close to "fundamental atheists" who have such a reductionist viewpoint and personal characters that may lead them to be schmucks to everyone else (Hitchins comes to mind). But they really are in a different league to the "those people over there are fundamentally evil and must accept the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the be all or end all of life or die" exposed by religious cults. A cult could possibly be based on atheism (although I have a hard time envisioning the point). Again, it's not the faith that is practiced per see, it's HOW it is practiced on the believers. Usually for the greater material wealth and worldly control of their leader. A cult of atheists would work about as well as a cult of cats!

As for Amway, etc, I see that more as rhetorical drift. They really don't met the classic definitions completely. If we start going down that road, where do we stop? Is Mary Kay a cult? Is Communism? I'm not really sure. It seems to me that the word starts to loose all usefulness as a descriptor. Simply joining a like minded group, even if it is unusual or not accepted by the majority, does not a cult make. Speakers must be aware that there is a very strong moral judgement attached to the word "cult" and to be careful with it's use, IMHO.

And thank you for the compliment and discussion. Always happy to engage in civil discourse

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 02:12 PM
reply to post by DeathTribble

Consider my thought on atheism as a potential cult. Atheism has norms, morality and standards usually congruous with the larger religion it finds itself in. Why is that?
Are there really evolutionary "norms" for atheists? I think they still come from religion, or not?

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 02:27 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Well, perhaps one could kidnap them, give them a cigarrette and beer. I think that is the notion behind the harm in deprogramming - even "normal" people don't really feel free!

posted on Jan, 5 2010 @ 04:49 PM
ATS just wiped out an answer I spent hours on this morning. Gah! My original answer was much more detailed, but I just can't face writing it again. Here's the gist.

(Grumble, grumble, snarl.....)

A truncated response is that morals are derived from empathy and from the requirements of a functional society (additional taboos based on "victimless crimes" & control that most religions add on such as on consensual prostitution, drug use, crimes of thought/speech etc, are morally reprehensible to me for artificially limiting another's freedom, IMO). Evolutionarily, society assists the individual by fostering the ability to more easily acquire the basics of survival (shelter, food, care when sick, warmth, etc). These universally accepted morals are derived from those actions which allow societies to best function (not killing, stealing, disrupting marriages, etc), which do indeed serve an evolutionary function by helping the group survive as a whole. Very much the "social contract" as envisioned by philosopher John Locke.

However, I find it odd that some people require a) someone to tell them not to hurt people, and b) threaten ever-lasting punishment if they do in order to gain compliance as religions do. An atheist's moral actions are based on empathy and a desire to do good in the world simply because one does not want to do harm. No religion required. Religions are notoriously heavy on control ethics (have no gods over me, make war on non-believers, don't think/say this, that, or the other) and remarkably weak on others such as sanctions against child abuse, as well as actively advocating rape (Leviticus), murdering others for not keeping the sabbath, incest (Lott), abandoning your family (can't remember the exact citation, but it was about two brothers, one of whom was more holy for leaving his wife and family to starve to become a disciple), selling your daughter into slavery, etc. Pretty sketchy, actually.

Additionally, no standards of morals are transmitted through atheistic arguments, thus lacking the aspects of social control so common in cults/religion. Cults also tend to congregate in compounds to better limit their members outside influences and enforce their behavioral requirements and group think, not so w/ atheism. A "cult" based on lack of belief is simply a group, IMO. No atheistic pope to excommunicate transgressors, no universally required thoughts or actions in order to belong = not a cult.

The mega churches don't quite meet the definition of cult either b/c even their own leaders can be sanctioned for transgressing the groups defined ethics, as exemplified by the Colorado preacher who was thrown out of his own church for snorting coke and playing w/ the call boys.

Also wanted to say, my first ATS friend! Yay!

posted on Jan, 5 2010 @ 09:00 PM
reply to post by DeathTribble

I can only say that for agnostic or religious parents, having a child that suddenly rejects even the concept of God is deeply hurtful.
After all, a "cult' implies a measure of hurt to family or friends? So in that sense atheism can be a confusing and alienating "cult".
Thanks for so much more in post!

posted on Jan, 5 2010 @ 10:44 PM
In a true cult, basically what happens is brainwashing. Brainwashing can be be accomplished in a number of ways. The usual pattern involves a combination of factors. Brainwashing can take place in both secular and religious contexts. When it happens in a religious context, it gives rise to "cults." When it happens in a non-religious context it is called something else or maybe has no name, but the end result is the same.

There are healthy ways of being religious and unhealthy ways of being religious. There are healthy ways of being secular and unhealthy ways of being secular. Anything that involves brainwashing in either field qualifies as "unhealthy."

So what is this "brainwashing" that takes place both secularly and religiously? Again, it involves a number of factors but let's lay out a few of them:

1) You are part of a circle, group, or organization (with or without a name) that considers itself somehow fundamentally different from and superior to the rest of society

2) A charismatic leader is usually involved, or perhaps the central focus can be a god, idol, ideology, etc. rather than an actual human.

3) There is a hierarchy involved, with "levels." New members and lower-level members do not have any clue what goes on in the "inner circle." the organization seems friendly and legit at first. Brainwashing takes place over time.

4) The "inner circle" manipulates the members in stages, gradually drawing them into higher and higher "secret truths." As people invest more time, effort, and money in climbing whatever ladder they are on, they become reluctant to leave or give up since it invalidates all their previous efforts.

5) The conscious mind is gradually unmoored from the unconscious mind and unconsious ideas are allowed or corerced to float to the top. Gradually, people begin to live in a state of light hypnotic trance, because they are abandoning the cortical central command functions of their brains and operating from deeper levels...more thyroidal/lymbic activity, for example; less and less frontal-lobe reasoning.

6) To unmoor the higher-brain functions, members are increasingly forced to study by rote the "doctrine" of the cult, whether it's a unique exigesis of a religious text or mandatory daily North Korean "Political Study Sesssions" for all Nort Korean citizens. Such "study" is often lengthy and involves the mastery of an arcane jargon that is confusing and takes increasing brain-strength to master. It wears out critical thinking capacity and also gradually seperates those "in the know" from "outsiders" by making their speech and thought patterns so controlled and arcane as to almost be unintelligable.

6) Fear, humiliatation, physical and/or sexual abuse, etc. become a part of the process. Fear of committing some kind of "unpardonable sin" or even a light infraction; fear of "the unsaved" or "the outside world." Meanwhile, increasingly harsh punishment for infractions is implemented: sleep deprevation, chemical manipulation, physical torture, confinement, and other ugly stuff. This further wears down the mind and makes people constantly preoccupied with "slipping up."

7) Punishment is often illogical or arbitrary...again, serving to stimulate lower-brain systems and de-emphasize higher-brain reasoning.

8) Finally when a constant state of light hypnosis is achieved, the members can be ordered to do almost anything, like robots, by those in the "inner circle." The "inner circle" becomes drunk on its own unnatural power, and becomes increasingly decadent, secretive, and irrational. It begins to abuse lower members in ways that are not acceptable by the rest of society, thus increasing its paranoia. This leads to a viscious circle of more violence, more brainwashing, harsher punshiment, more paranoia, the need to seperate further from society, and so on.

9) In the end the cult implodes in any number of ways -- it runs afoul of society by doing something too big to be ignored; the leader dies and a power-struggle in the inner circle ensues; paranoia leads to literal self-destruction (Jim Jones, Heaven's Gate), and so on.

That's my analysis, anyway.

posted on Jan, 5 2010 @ 10:55 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

Wow, the first few points sound like ATS
More serioulsy, thats all true.
I can't really say it's much different to the mainstream faiths though.
I sometimes think that if you're in a cult the whole outside world seems like a "cult" instead. They just don't "understand".
The other thing to my mind is gender and sexuality - the "love-bombing" can be a great experience at first.

posted on Jan, 5 2010 @ 11:06 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Yes, "love bombing." Good point, forgot about that. A few other things come to mind.
-Coerced separation from family
-Increasing preoccupation with money as more and more (at least at first) accrues to those in the "inner circle" at the tippy-top of the pyramid.
-The obsession with money leads to the need to recruit new membes to keep the pyramid scheme going.
-There are also relatively "money-less" cults (Charles Manson's family, etc.) the pattern is not towards expansion of the pyramid scheme but towards increasing separation from society and a closing off of all channels of communication with a perceived "hostile" outer world (e.g., Manson, some splinter FLDS groups, North Korea). In these systems, the focus of the power lust of the inner circle is not could be sexual (like the "Children of God" cult, Manson again, FLDS again) or perhaps raw punishment/brutality (again, North Korea...the best recent example of a secular mass cult, although other political/national examples abound in history).
-Even an abusive husband/wife relationship can develop into a kind of "cult of two" using very similar methods. Or it can take place on a national level as described above. Scale can vary from two people to millions.

[edit on 1/5/10 by silent thunder]

posted on Jan, 5 2010 @ 11:22 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

Interestingly Rick Ross even discusses "commercial cults' like Amway or Herbalife.
Having a bit of a socialist tinge I would ask: who am I working for?
I think "labor" is also very much abused by cults.
I know it is different from the average "Christian" paying tithes, but I still can't find a criterea as to why?

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