Many destructive groups masquerade as religious when, in fact, their DNA is actually political. They are concerned with amassing secular power, wealth and control of government. And, many “mainstream” political organizations, on the left as well as the right, meet the criteria of an unhealthy cult. As discussed in a previous blog about religious cults, it is important to evaluate the major behaviors and characteristics of a group to see if it meets the criteria.
A political cult often has an authoritarian leader who has a malignant narcissistic personality disorder. Such a person claims to have all of the answers and requires blind obedience. Such a person displays an incapacity for empathy nor an ability to sincerely admit making mistakes or harming others. Such a person is a pathological liar and is therefore untrustworthy. Authoritarians create and run organizations which use ideologies that are black and white, all or nothing, good versus evil and us against them.
Brainwashing and undue influence are a threat from the political groups too, not just religious groups. White Power groups who wish to instigate a race war in the U.S. and other countries around the world dominate the news through the shooting of innocent people. Therefore, the book by Dennis Tourish, On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left is of immense importance in this day and age. “This is the first book to describe the essentials of political cults on both the right and left and explain their significance for mainstream political organizations.” (Click here for my discussion with Dennis Tourish Ph.D.)
The book Terror, Love and Brainwashing explains how almost anyone, given the right set of circumstances, can be radically manipulated to engage in otherwise incomprehensible and often dangerous acts. (I interviewed author Dr. Alexandra Stein in a previous blog. She had been a member of a left-wing political cult.)
Destructive political groups use deception to recruit new members and do not give informed consent. Healthy groups disclose to potential recruits what the group is, what the group actually believes, and what will be expected of them if they become members. It also uses undue influence to keep people dependent, obedient, and loyal.
In fact, there is a continuum of healthy and unhealthy influence. Individual experiences vary within the same organization based on how the individual conforms to the norms of the group. I have developed an Influence Continuum which shows the thematic differences between ethical influence and undue influence. My BITE model (Behavior, Information, Thought and Emotion Control) offers a list of variables that can be easily identified and which quickly show if a group or individual is exercising unethical influence. The more a group uses the components of the BITE model, the more it is acting as a destructive cult organization. Here is a whiteboard animation of the BITE model created Michael Keay, a former Jehovah’s Witness, which is useful in fleshing out the variables.
Terrorist organizations can be state-run, or operated by cult groups. In addition to the usual BITE model, they will use force such as threats, kidnapping, murder, and drugs in order to get publicity and exert political influence. In some cases, they commit terrorist acts in order to get a ransom to help fund their nefarious activities. Here is a link to a CNN interview I did on ISIS as a cult.
Right now, White Power recruiters are actively online trolling for young people, especially young boys and men via violent video games, luring them to chatrooms, asking them to watch radicalizing YouTube videos, in order to program them to do mass shootings. These people can be indoctrinated entirely online with no contact directly, in person with their recruiters. I have been researching this. The current shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio took place within 24 hours of each other. Gun control legislation and talking about “red flag” laws focusing on mental illness are NOT going to solve the problem of cult mind control recruitment on the internet.
I advocate utilizing former white power people like Arno Michaelis to train others to intervene online, as well as in person. I recently met and befriended former KKK nighthawk Christopher Buckley who helped me work with a 20-year-old who was unduly influenced. As a nighthawk, Buckley wore a black hood and robe and was responsible for weapons training and security enforcer. While the young man was on the FBI watchlist, the family was told there was nothing that could be done to intervene and help the young man. See my blog here about Arno.
I also had assistance from a Church of Christ preacher colleague of mine, Buddy Martin, who played a major role in helping. If you wish more information about my method, please read my book on the Strategic Interactive Approach entitled, Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones with Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs.
George Orwell wrote a long time ago, “All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.” It is easy to be as cynical as Orwell about politics, especially when observing the extreme situation of dysfunction today. Dark money has accelerated the corruptive forces on politicians to be in the pocket of those who fund them rather than be public servants.
I have written a number of blogs about Donald Trump that you can find here. But in this one, I discuss the characteristics that Trump shares with other cult leaders, “Does Trump Display the Stereotypical Profile of a Cult Leader?” I will have an exciting public announcement in the near future about what I have been working on this past year.
Group Information Resource Page
Over the years, group information has been submitted about how well group beliefs and practices fit into the BITE Model, what ex-members say about the group and any information about helpful resources or support groups. We have collected this information into a database and shared it online. Recently, this group information has been published here on the Freedom of Mind website.
The fact that we list a group on our site does not necessarily mean they are a destructive mind control group. They appear because we have received inquiries and have established a file on the group. We also provide links for organizations, even though we don’t necessarily agree with all of their viewpoints or can verify that all of their information is true. We have even included links to sites that we strongly disagree with, but feel that they offer information and another point of view which could prove useful. We invite you to use critical and independent judgment to evaluate each group and resource.
Political Cult Groups
This is a small list of political cults. The Moonies and the Children of God primarily promote themselves as religious. More groups will be added in the weeks and months ahead. Netflix has a special on the Family (not the cult listed here) which will discuss the group founded by Abraham Vereide, operating in the United States for some 80 years. Vice President Michael Pence was reportedly recruited into this group by Watergate plumber Chuck Colson. Hillary Clinton was quoted as praising Doug Coe, the deceased leader of this group. Needless to say, while the Vereide group says they are religious, they are all about power and influence and money. If you wish to know more about this group, read The Family by Jeffrey Sharlet.
We are always looking for updated verifiable information and if you would like to submit group information, please fill out the form.
About the Author:
Steven Hassan M.Ed. LMHC, NCC has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence (mind control). With over 40 years of experience, he is sought after as one of the foremost authorities on undue influence and controlling groups and individuals. Steve understands the subject from a unique perspective as both a former cult member and as a clinical professional. Steven Hassan has published 4 books about cults. His first book, which came out in 1988 under the title Combatting Cult Mind Control, was updated and re-released in 2015 as Combating Cult Mind Control. Chapter 2, My life in the Unification Church has been placed for free on this web site. This book is available as an audiobook as well as on kindle.
Steven is the Founding Director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to supporting individuals to have the freedom to think clearly and to freely consider how they want to live their lives. Steven pioneered a breakthrough method called the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA), an effective and legal alternative for families to help cult members. The SIA teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the cult.
Learn about how the Strategic Interactive Approach can help rescue your friend or loved one out from under predatory influence.
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