Disclaimer: Most of the group resource information was submitted by former members, academics, experts, and concerned individuals. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Freedom of Mind. We welcome any feedback. Contact Us
World Mission Society Church of God
The Church of God
The Church of Ahnsahnghong
Church of God World Mission Society
Chang Gil Cha aka Mother Jerusalem
Some key points:
-The WMSCOG claims a man called Ahnsahnghong is the Second Coming of Christ.
-They expect the world to end at the end of 2012, before which they hope to recruit 144,000 members.
-They consider Korea to be Zion (the new spiritual Jerusalem).
-They believe that Mother Jerusalem to be the female incarnation of God, and that Ahnsahnghong predicted that Christ would return both in 1967 and 1988.
–Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
One former member told me that when she was involved in the WMSCOG, she rarely spent time with family and friends that were non-members because she was always so busy studying and preaching. I’ve also heard members say that they are told to avoid anyone trying to “speak against” the church because Satan will use the people closest to you to try to “kill your spirit”. Destructive mind control groups gradually pull members away from their support systems by keeping them excessively busy.
–How much sleep the person is able to have
A former member that I spoke with explained to me that she was always exhausted. While in the WMSCOG, she was encouraged to wake up at 5 am to pray every day and even received phone calls from other members to make sure that she was awake. During feast celebrations, members were required to attend 5 am and 7:30 pm services. Destructive cults keep their members sleep deprived so that they are not allowed to think clearly. Certainly in my own experience, sleep was considered an “idol” if it kept me from going to the WMSCOG.
–Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations
One woman told me that her husband would not go on vacation with her because all of the days off allowed by his job were reserved for feast days and preaching missions with the WMSCOG. She said that even if he did have the available time off, that he would only agree to go where there was another WMSCOG in the area. She also mentioned that he spent every day during the week at the church and would often arrive home after midnight. Neither was this was not particular to this woman’s husband alone, but in my own time in the WMSCOG, it was my impression that most members fell into this category. There were a few folks who did not partake of all the activities, but they were considered to have “less faith”.
Where I attended the WMSCOG, they actually gave their a members a letter for their employers to request time off for religious activities. The letter stated that the employee would need approximately 10 days off a year to attend certain “feast days”.
One former member told me that when he would go preaching with other members, they would represent themselves as a group of students, Bible study students, or students from the “Elohim Academy”. He said that he would never mention that he represented the WMSCOG because people would be less likely to listen to him if they had previously heard anything negative about the group. Has anyone that has come into contact with the WMSCOG been told up front that they believe that a man named Ahn Sahng Hong is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, or that the mother in the Bible that they speak of is Zhang Gil Jah and that she is living in S. Korea, or how much time and financial commitment is required of members, or why the WMSCOG books are unavailable to the public?
–Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
I once asked a current member if she had ever done any research on the Internet regarding the WMSCOG. She answered that this was strictly prohibited by “mother” (Zhang Gil Jah) because the Internet was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When I asked how so, she explained that the tree of knowledge of good and evil caused Adam and Eve to experience death in the book of Genesis and members who researched the group on the Internet frequently ended up “spiritually dead” because they subsequently left the WMSCOG. For me, I wondered, if the Internet is the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then why does the WMSCOG have so many websites?
–Need to internalize the group’s doctrine as “Truth”
By automatically calling their doctrine “the truth”, the WMSCOG discourages any critical questions. After all, who doesn’t believe “the truth” right? On preaching missions, if people did not listen to us, the members would say that they “did not want to hear ‘the truth’”, or that someone was “too arrogant to accept ‘the truth’”.
–Adopt “loaded” language (characterized by “thought-terminating clichés”). Words are the tools we use to think with. These “special” words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous “buzz words”.
From my experience within the WMSCOG, outsiders that rejected the doctrine were automatically labeled as “arrogant”, “spiritually blind”, “not having spiritual eyes and ears”, and “spiritually dead”. I remember members mocking the rest of Christianity because they were “deceived” or “blind” and did not have the blessing of “knowing father and mother”. This seems like a perfect example of the “us vs. them” mentality that mind control groups use in order to create an elitist mentality among members within the group.
–Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down “reality testing” by stopping “negative” thoughts and allowing only “good” thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
I once asked an ex-member what he would do if he ever experienced any doubt about what he was taught, heard, or saw at the WMSCOG. He plainly stated that doubt was normal in the beginning but he was encouraged to immediately start praying to “father and mother” to stop satan from putting the doubt into his mind. My question is, what if that is God trying to tell you something?
–No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate
In a situation where mind control is successful, the leader is viewed as perfect and any doubts about the leader or the organization are viewed as weaknesses within the members. I remember having questions about Ahnsahnghong and the lack of evidence in his own writings of any claims of divinity. Instead of addressing my question directly, I was told that I needed to “study more”. Therefore, the problem was me and not the fact that I could not find a single instance where Ahnsahnghong ever claimed to be the second coming of Christ in any of his books that I had purchased at the WMSCOG bookstore.
–No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
I asked a current member if she had read any literature on cults in order to determine for herself whether or not the group she belongs to is in fact a cult. She very quickly answered that she has no interest in any “worldly knowledge” or books written by people outside the church because she only has to look to the Bible (through the interpretation of the WMSCOG of course) for answers about the most important thing, which is her salvation. My question to her then was, “How does anyone determine if the group that they belong to is the right group?” If other groups like the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses could twist the Scriptures in order to lead people astray, how could members of those groups figure out if they are in a cult or not? Her answer was that she knew that she was in the right group because the WMSCOG “follows the Bible”. Couldn’t Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons give the exact same answer? Does that answer make any group right? Would another WMSCOG member like to comment on this?
Relationships are controlled completely by the group: you are told who your discipler is (thats your new best friend) and which Bible talk you are in, and this relationship can be changed at any time and is often changed (so that loyalty remains to the group), you are told whom to date/ marry, and must get permission to date someone, and the group has the power to refuse and to have the person break up with you if they do not like how you are behaving. Affection is withdrawn if you are in sin (which means any behavior that the group doesnt like) and much praise is given to those who are producing- bringing people and baptizing- (rewards and punishments). Shame and guilt: People humiliated in leaders meetings if you didnt have any visitors- people made to stand up in large groups if they didnt bring any visitors in X amount of time. People told that God is displeased and will cut off every tree that does not bear fruit, and that God is going to spit you out of his mouth that your lukewarmness makes God want to vomit, your sins killed Jesus, you killed Jesus, your sins mean that you deserve death, you will go to hell if you leave the group, you will lose all your relationships if you leave the group, you will become mentally ill, fall away from God, go to Hell, etc. People are berated, made to fast, in order to get them to agree. Because people must confess every sin, including sexual sin, lust and masturbation, people are constantly made to feel shame and guilt and this motivates the person to fear losing his salvation and keeps person dependent and obedient.