the Spirit Watch

The Bondage Of Cult Mind Control

By Rev. Rafael Martinez, Director, Spiritwatch Ministries

"Mind control? There's no such thing!"

The very words seem so unreal, a millenial boogey-man, just another urban legend concocted by some paranoiac cranks to amaze and frighten people into the consideration of their fear-mongering agenda. It brings to mind vivid word pictures of  mindless, glassy eyed zombies under the control of puppet mastering demagogues. It hisses of secret government plans aimed at enslaving all mankind with drug-induced and electronic psycho-technology. One thinks of the tormented and trigger-bound "Manchurian Candidate" or Mel Gibson's haunted Jerry in the "Conspiracy Theory", passive victims of a perverse science wielded by shadowy global powers. Such grotesquely evocative impressions flood the minds of those who hear the term, so unbelievably bizarre as to be dismissed outright as a fable. 

But that's not our point. 

For our part, we're not talking about these alleged forms of "mind control" that provide so much of the theoretical grist and blood-curdling thunder for many a website or conspiracy theorist today. We're not here on some crusade to expose the "truth" that's "out there" somewhere which has been kept in some top-secret netherworld of subterfuge straight out of the "X-Files."  If you are here to get some angle on that kind of fantasy, you will be roundly disappointed and you may want to keep surfing elsewhere. We won't be analyzing the alleged plots, politics, and people lurking "behind the scenes" to pave the way for some  New World Order, as this grim graphic would darkly suggest. 

It is a waste of time reiterating  any of the lunacy that this speculative school of warped thought has hatched. It has for too long clouded the perceptions of a reality far more sobering, serious and real-time than anything most people have ever really conceived when they ponder the term "mind control"  Those who have advanced this agenda have helped contribute to the confusion and needless clamor over the issue. No, it  is our hope to separate the wheat from the chaff and supply to a balanced understanding of the unbelievable yet very real human phenomenon called cultic mind control that is far more closer to home and more prevalent among our society than we think. 

Cultic mind control, as we are defining and exposing it, is a bondage of the human mind, body and soul far more diabolic than any urban legend. This bondage has been effectively destroying human lives since the dawn of humanity by the shattering of the spirit through the shackling of the mind. Whether using coercive drugging or persuasive flattery, political pogram or business dealing,  the bondage of cultic mind control is a very real and very present danger to all who stand in its crosshairs. It is flourishing and hidden in plain sight in many different forms,  binding men, women and children with a degradation by degrees and leading them wilfully into a galling yoke of coercive control of their very lives by lading them down "with burdens grievous  to be borne" (Luke 11:46).

If you don't believe this can actually be happening, meet some people whose very testimonies would beg to differ ..

An Amway Distributor

I have firsthand, long-term experience with  Amway, having been involved for about 3 and half years. In the  past, I have noticed many similarities between distributor groups and  religious cults and remember terming it a "secular cult."   Everyone is told exactly how to prospect, how to dress, how to present  the plan, how to follow-up, to use the support system, etc.  What really made my stomach turn, though, was the behavior of people at all the  meetings.  They could have all been clones.  Regardless of the line of  sponsorship, everyone recited verbatim the same rhetoric ("Free in '93...Go Diamond!...get plugged in!...I am really excited about this... The Business...The System...I am getting free"), sprayed Sweet Shot in  their mouths every two minutes (lets face it-- nobody needs that much  breath freshener), talked about the latest promotion (always a  sponsoring-related promotion by the way - never a product-related promotion),  and dressed alike.  Most people were sure they would reach their next pin  level by the end of the next month, too.  People rarely exchanged  business ideas or sales tips, as might be expected at a "business meeting."  Rarely did distributors discuss their hobbies, current events,  or outside interests.  Sex role stereotypes prevailed as well.  I guess  some people are not bothered by such an environment, but I need to be  given some allowance for creativity to feel like I have accomplished  something.

Distributors are also  told not to discuss any negative aspects of their business with their downline, and not to ask about the details of their upline's business  (number sponsored, etc.). The standard line for this is "If you want to be successful, listen to  those that have been successful in this.  Don't listen to those who  were unsuccessful, quit, or have not tried because they only know how to quit or be unsuccessful." Finally, distributors are told "until you  reach diamond, only talk about the basics" (the support system, showing  the plan, $200 of personal use per month.)  Collectively, all this  puts a significant limitation on the exchange of information.

Cult leaders invariably  claim to have some special gift, knowledge, or divine inspiration.  Whenever a cult member encounters anything that does not make sense,  he is told something like "It is not for you to understand all at once;  only the privileged comprehend it--in time, it will be clear."  In Amway, there are lots of canned answers to the most common questions  and comments--some true, some half-true.  But the default answer if  none of those apply is "This is an unconventional business.  It often  does not make any sense; but it works."  This statement is often emphasized with the stories told by the higher pin levels, all of which  at some point say "We made many mistakes and did not want to listen to our upline.  Once we did everything we were told everything fell into  place and we were successful.  Now look how wonderful our life is."

Invariably, distributors are repeatedly  reminded what wonderful people their upline emeralds and diamonds are. In my experience a common reward for achievement is simply to  be able to spend some time with them (a group dinner or lunch, for  instance).  All of them are said to be altruistic, caring people that  have the greatest concern and love for each distributor in their downline personally.  To be fair, I have seen evidence that this  concern is to some extent genuine: then again, with the amount of money  they make from us, why shouldn't they love us?

Being a typical Amway distributor is the antithesis of freedom.  I  have never felt such entrapment in my main occupation.  As the sales  and marketing plan is typically presented, over 50% of the presentation  is not devoted to the marketing plan at all, but rather to talking with a prospect about what they want to do in life.  A skillful presenter  lets the prospect talk about what they do to earn a living, and some of  their hobbies and interests.  Ideally, the presenter already knows much of this information.  The presenter then guides the conversation until  the prospect gives specific details on what they find lacking in their  life.  When the presenter finds a few items that are specific and  obtainable by additional time or money, he asks the prospect to write  them down on a piece of paper.  The purpose in writing them down is to make them more concrete, and so your sponsor can later say something  like "You came up with the reasons to build this business, not anybody - that not only can you not live without them, but the only way you will ever get them is to be an Amway distributor and follow the "success pattern" exactly.

Commonly when the marketing plan is  presented the line of sponsorship will be recited and the presenter  will comment on what a "fine line" or "fine thread" it was that brought  him this business opportunity.  He will further state how lucky he was  that he was shown the plan, and how fortunate each member of his  audience is to have been invited to see this opportunity.  I have heard  similar comments from cultist missionaries. Distributors are told  that when presenting the plan they are not selling anything but rather  are simply "sharing a business opportunity" or "sharing an opportunity  for freedom."   Soon after sponsorship, it is revealed that this  business is "not about the money" but rather about "helping others."  This instantly conjures up the euphemism that missionaries and  evangelists are not trying to sell anything or convert anybody--they  are just "sharing the good news."

Raymond Franz

A matter, not among those just mentioned, but which brought considerable discussion involved a (Jehovah's) Witness couple in California. Someone had seen in their bedroom certain literature and photographs dealing with unusual sex practices. (I do not recall that we learned just how the person reporting this happened to have access to the couple's bedroom.)  Investigation and interrogation by the local elders confirmed that the couple did engage in sexual relations other than by simple genital copulation. Correspondence from the elders came in to Brooklyn and the Governing Body was called upon to rule as to what action if any should be taken toward the couple. 

Until the correspondence was read to us that morning, none of us (on the Governing Body) aside from the president had had any opportunity to think about the subject. Yet within a couple of hours the decision was reached that the couple was subject to disfellowshipping. This was thereafter set out as a formal published policy, applicable to any persons engaging willfully in similar practices. 

The published material was understood and applied in such a way that marriage mates generally felt obliged to report to the elders if any such practice existed or developed in their marriage, whether mutually agreed upon or done solely at the initiation of one of the mates. (In the latter case the non-initiating mate was expected to come forward and convey this information to the elders if the initiating mate was unwilling to do so.) To fail to come forward generally is viewed as indicative of an unrepentant attitude and as weighing in favor of disfellowshipping. The belief that disfellowshipping cuts one off from the one organization where salvation can be found, as well as from friends and relatives, exercises heavy pressure on the person to conform, no matter how difficult confession (or reporting) to the elders may be. 

The Governing Body's decision in 1972 resulted in a sizeable number of "judicial hearings" as elders followed up on reports or confessions of the sexual practices involved. Women experienced painful embarrassment in such hearings as they responded to the elders' questions about the intimacies of their marital relations. Many marriages where one of the mates was not a Witness underwent a turbulent period, with the non-Witness mate objecting strenuously to what he or she considered an unwarranted invasion of bedroom privacy. Some marriages broke up with resulting divorce. 

An unprecedented volume of mail came in over a period of five years, most of it questioning the Scriptural basis for the Governing Body members inserting themselves into the private lives of others in such a way, and expressing inability to see the validity of the arguments advanced in print to support the stand taken. (The principal portion of Scripture relied upon was Romans, chapter one, verses 24- 27, dealing with homosexuality, and those writing to the Society pointed out that they could not see how it could rightly be applied to heterosexual relations between man and wife.) Other letters, often from wives, simply expressed confusion and anguish over their uncertainty as to the properness of their "sexual foreplay." 

One woman said she had talked to an elder and he had told her to write to the Governing Body "for a sure answer." So she wrote, saying that she and her husband loved each other deeply and then she described the "certain type of foreplay" they were accustomed to, stating "I believe it's a matter of conscience, but I am writing you to be sure." Her closing words were: "I am scared, I am hurt, and I am more worried at this time about [my husband's] feeling for the truth.... I know you will tell me what to do." 

In another typical letter an elder wrote, saying that he had a problem he wanted to get straightened out in his mind and heart and that to do this he felt "it's best to contact the 'mother' for advice."" The problem dealt with his marital sex life and he said that he and his wife were confused as to "where to draw the line in the act of foreplay before the actual act of sex." He assured the Society that he and his wife would "follow any advice you give us to the letter." These letters illustrate the implicit trust these persons had come to place in the Governing Body, the belief that the men forming that Body could tell them where to "draw the line" in even such intimate aspects of their personal lives, and that they should rightly hew to that line "to the letter." 

The late Sakamoto family

Because the baby cried out when the men first entered the bedroom, they murdered him first. The killing began shortly after three o'clock in the morning, only a few minutes after the Aum Shinri Kyo "action squad" quietly opened the unlocked door of a small apartment in a middle-class Yokohama neighborhood and let themselves in.

Clad in cotton pajamas, fourteen-month-old Tatsuhiko Sakamoto was in bed between his parents when the men crept into the apartment. Several of them would later sheepishly confess to police that he was the first to awake and when he saw them, suddenly began crying. After the infant's first cry, one of the men leaned over and snatched him from the bed, smothered his mouth with a cloth, then delivered him into the waiting hands of his killer, a thirty-two-year-old medical doctor named Tomomasa Nakagawa. His hypodermic needle ready, Dr. Nakagawa quickly jerked down the baby's pajama pants and injected his buttock with a large dose of potassium chloride, a powerful poison. Nakagawa then watched the child with coldly clinical eyes, waiting patiently for the deadly poison to make its way through his small body. The infant's cries gradually snuffled out, then ceased altogether when a series of limb-shaking spasms swept over him as the poison first seized then fatally stopped his young heart. It was like putting an unwanted puppy to sleep.

The baby's frightened cry and the shuffling commotion in the bedroom awakened the child's parents, Satoko Sakamoto, his twenty-nine-year-old mother, and Tsutsumi Sakamoto, thirty-three, the boy's father. The scene confronting the groggy Sakamotos was straight out of a nightmare. Their small bedroom was filled with strange men, one of whom held their struggling son in his arms. Alarmed and badly scared, both parents tried to rescue their son but were no match for the overwhelming force of their attackers. Seeing her baby in the hands of a stranger with a hypodermic needle, Satoko Sakamoto desperately fought back against her assailants, but within a few minutes they overpowered her and she was given a lethal injection by Nakagawa. Within minutes he confirmed that she, too, was dead.

Tsutsumi Sakamoto was the last to die, but unlike his son and wife he did not die quickly. .. While several of the men held him tightly in position, Dr. Nakagawa jabbed a hypodermic needle filled with potassium chloride into his buttock. This time the drug did not work as expected, however, and after several minutes of painful writhing Sakamoto remained very much alive. Members of the squad told police that in order to finish him off, it was necessary for the team leader, Kiyohide Hayakawa, to hold down his legs while Tomomitsu Niimi straddled his chest and strangled him with his bare hands.

Thomas Simmons

One Sunday afternoon in March, my parents left with five other couples from (our Christian Science) congregation for a fly-in picnic in the Central Valley. Although my father was no longer a pilot, three other church members were; they owned or leased their own small planes. My father and mother rode along in one plane. The passengers in one of the other planes were the pilot's wife and the Sunday school superintendent, Mildred Valentine, and her husband. My parents had told me they'd be gone until early evening. They did not get home until quite a bit later. I was not worried; I had my writing and artwork to do, and I went out for a while to play with friends. Around dinnertime I popped a frozen pizza in the oven and, when it was done, sat down to eat in front of the television. I'd had quite a fine day when they walked through the door, looking pale and subdued.

"How was it?" I asked, not really listening. "It was OK," my father said. "Tiring," my mother said. They went into the bedroom; I did not see them until morning, when they seemed more or less themselves.

That afternoon, when I opened the Palo Alto Times, I found a front-page story on the crash of a small airplane. Because the headline mentioned two Los Altos couples, I read on. I read more and more slowly as I got to the names-including Mr. and Mrs. Valentine's-and realized what had happened. According to the report, their plane had come in too high and too fast, stalled on an attempted go-around, and crashed into trees. The four occupants had been killed instantly.

My mother was reading in her bedroom. I went in and I laid the paper on her lap. Then I went out. Later, of course, my parents tried to explain everything to me, including their reasons for saying nothing when they got home. It all sounded very rational to me. It sounded rational to me, too, in a way, when the next Sunday our teacher explained to us that we couldn't judge Christian Science by Christian Scientists; we had to judge the religion by its principles. It was "a tragedy" .. that Mr. and Mrs. Valentine had "passed on," but we could not judge our religion by their demise. Whatever individual failings appeared to occur in Christian Scientists' lives, the principle of the religion was unfailing and perfect. We should not, therefore, assume that the Valentines represented any weakness in the religion. The religion was without flaw, and we could take comfort in that fact.

Of course there was a certain rationality to all: a religion based on a scientific relationship between God and humankind must insist on the primacy of the principles behind that science, even when men and women suffer and die. Perhaps I was reassured to know that despite Mr. and Mrs. Valentine's deaths on impact, there was still no "life, truth, intelligence, or substance in matter." All was still "infinite Mind, and its infinite manifestation, " as Mary Baker Eddy had written, "for God is All-in-all. "

Yet the part of me that did not need to take comfort - that did not need to believe desperately in this religion - was revolted. This incident had been riddled with falsehoods. My parents could not tell me about it because they were afraid it would shake my religious faith; I had to find out from the newspaper, like any stranger. Later, as I reflected on what had occurred, I realized that they could not tell me because it was simply too horrible. They could not even really admit it to themselves, because they had only the language of "the real and eternal." Their own silent suffering must have been enormous. Like them, my Sunday school teacher could not admit the reality of these deaths; he too was afraid it would shake our faith, and thus seemed to blame the Valentines for their fate.

At all costs, the religion had to be preserved. Enormous human energy went into hanging up happy bunting around Christian Science that week, while friends laid wreaths on the Valentines' graves. I saw this; I was not stupid. But the culture of Christian Science was so deeply ingrained in me that I could not turn away. I continued to hope that if I remained faithful, I would move beyond the inconsistencies and find a place where both human beings and Christian Science were cherished. This was not to happen. The accident hovered around me like a pliant lie, cooperative but inescapable.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

The goal of all PB.'s (this is the late Eastern esotericist Paul Brunton, who was called "PB" by the Masson family that sponsored him - RM) disciples was to have an "illumination," that is, an intense mystical experience that puts one in touch with a "higher power" My "illumination" came when I was thirteen. .. For my thirteenth birthday, just around the time of my bar mitzvah in fact (my parents remained culturally Jewish in spite of their spiritual allegiance to PB.), PB. said that I could have a special meditation with him. I determined that no matter how uncomfortable I became physically I would sit still and not break my concentration. Usually what I thought about during meditation was what could possibly be going on in the mind of PB. Where was he? Was he, too, thinking, like me, about other people and what they were thinking about? Impossible, I thought. He was, I was certain, lost in some kind of supramundane, otherworldly experience. He was, I was absolutely convinced at the time, in an altered state. This time, as usual, was thinking about all these things. My legs began to hurt, my eye burned, my arms were tired, my skin itched, and I longed to stand up. But I persisted - and it paid off. For soon everything began to feel better, and I could actually feel myself entering a kind of altered state. No doubt the rhythmic breathing helped. It was the first time I had ever felt anything like this, and I was ecstatic. It did not last long, but PB. seemed to sense it and asked me afterward whether I had felt anything special. I told him I had. He said he had known it, and that this was my illumination.

It was not entirely unlike my earlier experience with hypnosis: I could not help but feel that I was fooling everyone. I wanted to believe that something out of the ordinary had happened to me; it made everyone, including me, feel so happy, not to say exalted, and very special. While I had definitely entered some sort of "altered state,' altered need mean nothing more than that it was in some minor way different from my ordinary state. I was willing myself with all my might to "have an illumination." It was expected of me. It was the right time. The circumstances were right. I was with the right master. It was really up to me. ..

Through my "illumination," I was now definitely considered to be on the spiritual path. My parents seemed suitably impressed. Even my father, whose main complaint, after all, was that be had never had an illumination, seemed more pleased than jealous, although it made me nervous, especially since I knew my illumination was falsely acquired. I was treated, from then on, with a new kind of respect. I was a little guru in the making. I can't say that it gave me no pleasure, or that I was displeased at the whiff of power a guru could command, even a little one. I can remember embellishing the experience itself with each telling, until I had just about convinced myself that I had seen the face of God. PB. and I were both rather pleased with ourselves.

Every evening, I would go home and tell my parents about the wonderful day I had spent with PB. They would look at each other significantly as if they knew about some deeper purpose to all of this. I felt I was unbelievably fortunate to be in the presence of this great man and that all the trusted adults in my life were in agreement about this invisible world of power and meaning with which PB. in particular was on such intimate terms. How could they all be wrong? Perhaps if I had spoken about it more openly to my teachers, friends, or relatives, I would have been given another perspective. But to do so would have been disloyal, a sign of weakness. How could I doubt the word of God?

I did once ask PB. why other people could not be told the truths he knew. He told me we had to be tolerant. "Remember, Jeff, we were once at the same level that they are on now. The notion of rebirth teaches us tolerance. Do not despise those of obvious inferior intelligence. Think of their internal age. They are still young. Young souls." I never really did, consciously at least, doubt that PB. was speaking the truth from direct experience. I think I quickly stifled any notion that he was simply inventing it all. But however briefly and stillborn, this heretical idea occurred to me. Something always felt a little odd.

Sonsyrea Tate

I was extra glad that I was one of the special black people chosen to be in the Nation of Islam. When I got big, I was going to be an example to black people so they could see our true selves, how we could be smart and not be tricked by the white devil anymore .. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad  said black people in America needed to show unity so they could become an example of solidarity for people  around  the world. The Nation would lead the way; that's why it was important for us to work in unison - to look alike, speak alike, act alike, even think  alike. 

I simply was awed by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Not by his smarts so much, but by the power he had over all these people. I believed he was our savior; we all believed he was our savior. Instead of a picture of a blond-haired, blue-eyed man named Jesus, who I was taught people in the black church wrongfully prayed to, we had a photo of Elijah Muhammad - actually light enough to pass for white- posted in the Temple. It was posted above the entrance to the main hall on the second floor, and we saluted it, clicking our heels once or twice, before passing under it. Sometimes our eyelids instinctively snapped shut when we were doing this.

The heel-clicking part reminded me of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, which was my favorite movie. In the movie Dorothy stood before the Grand Wizard, clicking her heels, repeating, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home," believing she needed the Wizard's magic to deliver her home. But he explained to her that she had had the power all along. I thought Elijah Muhammad was a wizard and that black people needed his power and wisdom to deliver them from all the stuff the bad white people did.

The narrow road to heaven that Elijah Muhammad talked about sounded like it was probably similar to the yellow brick road in the movie, though I had no idea where this narrow road was in real life. I figured that whenever we found it and started walking on it, I would be shocked and frightened by dangerous surprises all along the way. Just like Dorothy and her friends had to prove themselves worthy of the Wizard's help, I thought it was only right that we had to prove ourselves worthy of being in the Nation. All I had to do was memorize all my lessons so I could represent the Nation well to the outside world.

The older people had to do more. There was always something to do at the Temple or for the Nation. We went to the Temple almost every day of the week for something - school through the week, Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.) meetings on Tuesdays for the boys and men, Muslim Girls' Training and General Civilization Class (M.G.T and G.C.C.) on Saturday mornings for us girls and our mothers, and the general meetings, which were sort of like church services, on Sundays.

Some of the men and women at the Temple were as stiff and uptight as any Tin Man. Some of the officials seemed like the Lion - ready to take charge as soon as some great Wizard gave them permission. But some of the grown-ups at the Temple seemed as brainless as the Scarecrow, acting like they didn't have minds of their own. Elijah Muhammad told us to dress a certain way and we did. Told us to chew our food a hundred times before swallowing, brush our hair a hundred strokes, and think five times about what we're going to say before we spoke. He gave us a long list of forbidden foods and required all of us, kids and grown-ups alike, to digest the historical and religious lessons.

Elijah Muhammad had our minds completely.

The Actress

At the age of seven I was accepted into a special school for gifted students and thought it was the beginning of dreams come true. I loved everything about that school - the desks, the blackboard, the stairs. It was a fairy-tale kingdom and I was one of the pretty princesses. Then just one week later, I was told that I didn't belong, that I had to leave, that I must go to another school, where children fathered by "rightists" were admitted. I didn't understand what the word meant, but it made no difference. I knew what mattered. Father was my enemy. Because she had chosen to marry him, Mother was my enemy too. I had always known about enemies. The radio had taught me. My teachers had taught me. Everyone had taught me that landlords, rich peasants, anti-revolutionaries and rightists were enemies. With all my being I wished that I had a gun so I could shoot them dead. My change of heart was astonishing, sudden and absolute. That night, Mother asked Father for a divorce. He admitted that it was he who had ruined me and promised to do everything he possibly could to make my future less dim. I would not speak to him. I let him go.

Father had been branded a rightist, third class. Those who were first class were sentenced to prison. Those who were second class were condemned to hard labor in Xinjiang. Father was assigned work among the peasants in the nearby countryside. Each time he came Father would ask me if he could take me somewhere. I shook my head. I was so terrified that my friends would see him that I became ill. So ashamed was I of my father that I wished he would leave and never come back. Mother's forgiveness was unending. She could see into me, could see that monstrous fears had gnawed away my heart.

I was twelve when the Cultural Revolution started. I had not been allowed to wear the red scarf of the Communist Youth League, and now I was not allowed to wear the red armband of the Red Guards. Everywhere I went, girls and boys spat upon me. I began to realize with horror how their cruelty mirrored my own. Gradually the hatred I had harbored for so long withered. But it was too late. Father was no longer permitted to leave the countryside for visits home. For the next two years, at odd moments and for no apparent reason, tears would suddenly appear in Mother's eyes. One cold, rainy evening she was late coming home. When Mother came through the door, it was long after midnight. Her navy quilted jacket was so thoroughly soaked that the pale dress underneath was stained with blotches of blue. She must have been walking for hours in the rain.Grandmother asked, "Why have you been gone so long?"

"My child's father has committed suicide."

How far away Father seemed to me at that moment! I could not summon his face or the sound of his voice. But even more remote was death. I did not know what to think of it except to wonder if there was a place where souls could live. Although some of my classmates' fathers had died earlier, also by suicide, the word had no meaning for me. Soon there was another knock at the door. This time it was an old friend of my father's who had come to urge Mother to go to the crematorium and ask for the ashes. Mother shook her head. He put thirty yuan in my hand and said I must go and give that to the attendant, who would then do as I asked. Mother took out Father's best clothes and his favorite pair of shoes. They were made of woven straw, but he had polished them so they shone like leather.

I didn't know which bus stop to go to. Mother said she would walk me there, but just as we were leaving, a cadre from her work unit came to advise her that this was the day she must declare her political stand before all her coworkers at the park, and she left with him. Asking strangers, I made my own way to the bus stop. The bus ride was long. None of the passengers seemed any older than I was; some were much younger. Everyone got off at the last stop. I followed the others toward the sinister building that rose from the earth like a monstrous brick coffin. They were carrying bundles too. An old man asked for my father's name. I told him. The old man told me to wait. It was late afternoon before he finally returned and asked if I had brought any socks. Father had arrived without shoes and with only one sock. I gave him the bundle and then handed him the thirty yuan. I asked him what my father had looked like when they brought him in. "He looked . . . all right. He used sleeping pills." I asked again. The old man hesitated again, then said matter-of-factly, "Your father's ears were torn off."

I left but did not go home. I stood outside and stared at the crematorium. It was an old building with a dragon carved on the chimney. Periodically it belched smoke, and fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, floated through the heavens to their final resting place. I recalled the (peaceful) expression on Mother's face the previous evening and understood. The dead were free. The living had to struggle on in a world where wives had to denounce their dead husbands, and children took buses alone to places like this. The crematorium no longer seemed sinister. It did not kill people. It gave people peace. Peace has yet to come to me. Perhaps it is because when I was very young I shouldn't have understood that politics is all, but I did. I shouldn't have experienced a hate so unnatural that it could sever the bond between a loving father and a loving child, but I did. I don't understand how my mother can tell me that tears are the most precious things in the world and I should not shed them for what I did as a child of seven. But I should.

Each of these accounts taken from sources as diverse as a American multi-level marketer to a young Chinese actress reveal a tragically all too common, even mundane, reality that is often underestimated - the power of human beings to abusively control others through the subjugation of their ability to think independently. This is the true essence, the bottom line, of what cultic mind control is. In this section of the Spiritwatch, we hope to provide a balanced Christian understanding of this terribly destructive group dynamic which has been the scourge of fallen mankind since our eviction from Eden.  

The scrupulous and the just, noble, humane, and devoted natures;

the unselfish and the intelligent may begin a movement 

but it passes away from them.

They are not the leaders of a revolution. 

They are its victims.

Joseph Conrad,  Under Western Eyes,  part ii,  ch. 3


Brackett, D.W.  Holy Terror: Armageddon  In Tokyo. Weatherhill, 1996.

Franz, Fred. Crisis of Conscience. Commentary, 1983.

Lord,  Betty Bao. Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic. Fawcett Columbine, 1990.

Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff. My Father's Guru. Addison-Wesley, 1993.

Simmons, Thomas. The Unseen Shore: Memories Of A Christian Science Childhood. Beacon, 1991.

Tate, Sonsyrea. Little X: Growing Up  In The Nation Of Islam. Harper Collins, 1997.

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