by Carol Forsloff
When is a religion a cult, one might ask. The answer might be when it brain washes people to join and makes it difficult to leave because of that. At least that's what authorities relate.
I wrote about a cult in town not long ago for a local newspaper, but didn't give the name of the group that worships outside of Natchitoches.
I mentioned it uses brainwashing techniques to convert the name of the congregation, and I don't give it because I consider each person should consider their faith and beliefs for themselves by looking at certain responsible facts and ideas that may accompany the notion of cult or brainwashing. I was asked just today about the article while walking around the downtown area of Natchitoches.
"Won't you tell just me," the woman asked. "No, " I said. "But if you continue to ask, you might be wondering yourself whether the church you attend is a cult."
Those who have studied hypnotism or hypnotherapy have some understanding of how people can be inducted into a trance-like state where they are susceptible to suggestion. A hypnotist by the name of Dick Sutphen has written a text about this. He declares much of Christian evangelism came from the practices in the the 18th century.
Specifically religious revivalists used guilt and fear to brain wash people into believing they were sinners in need of repentance. Jonathan Edwards used this technique in Northampton, Massachussetts, and it was successful enough to win many converts, so the notion of bringing people into a state of apprehension through intimidation and fear has been going on in the United States with respect to secular religious groups for some time.
Sutphen declares that people who become fanatics often have cult leaders who help to engender great loyalty, again guided by intimidation and fear, that occurs not just in religion but in politics as well. He underlines the Moral Majority as an example.
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Not only fear, but sadness and everyday issues as well. They make you feel incompetent, incapable of resolving your own issues BUT there is one solution, God. Whatever the outcome, it was his will. Your deepest insecurities, your deepest sadness, your deepest fear, nothing is private. They'll say anything to make you part of their cult. It won't solve your issues, but at least you will have a god.
Religion was over for me when i finally realized this.