....With the advent of easy computer access and online communications, there are extensive religious fraud communities. This has resulted in some dark activity.
....There is a dark side to the Internet. Especially among religious deceivers and their disturbing agendas in such flowery and loving prose, and such profoundly esoteric interpretations of scripture that the propensities for spiritual abuse are often very subtle and difficult to see on the surface.
....In our thoughts of cults and spiritual abuse, we tend to think of groups like the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, Jim Jones and Charles Manson as some hellish examples no more hellish than a new Evil Illuminati group made up of almost men in their late fifties and sixties. They are easy to spot and their errors easy to discern. What is happening in many cases now, however; is far more subtle, and, emotionally at least-far more dangerous. It is in you to see there are groups now that take scripture and use it as a weapon to destroy their victims’ ability to discern the Truth. They use guilt, fear and manipulation/intimidation subtly, hiding it in religious terms. Their victims fall prey to the dogma almost before they know it.
....The Sundance Wives clearly want you to know the red flags come up in the early relationship with the spiritually abusive cult leader.
....Distinguishing characteristics of such groups focuse on the leaders. A cultic group will have one charismatic leader, only one. While that one may claim accountability to a governing body of some sort, most often, when that governing body is examined, it is a small group of people under the direct control of the group leader. This is not possible to determine on the internet. Only with personal knowledge can one really ever know the reality of the configuration of an online cult illuminati. A group leader establishes a controlling agenda with strong cultic tendencies.
Bringing to light some common characteristics of cultic type leaders as pertains particularly to religious groups.
.... Personal charm and ability to use language and words with consummate skill to sway others to one’s own dogma. The potentially cultic leader is most usually a master at word usage, usually highly intelligent, often highly educated. He can manipulate words and contexts with such skill that the listener is either so confused by his rhetoric that he feels he must be the one who is deficient, or he can explain away contradictory behaviors or ideas so convincingly that one wonders why one ever doubted. He can turn a phrase to the degree that he can deliver a blistering and invalidating reprimand, and make the victim feel like it is done in genuine love and concern for the well-being of the victim. Word and language usage is the PRIMARY tool of the cultic leader, the goal being to emotionally and verbally destroy any critic that cannot be swayed to his way of thinking.
....Emotionally manipulative. While appearing to be sacrificial and loving, a cultic leader will manipulate the emotions of the victim to the place where anything he does or says is warranted and acceptable. Domination and humiliation are the goals of this manipulative behavior. The emotionally manipulative leader strives to control his victims’ emotional responses to his behavior and pronouncements, usually with the induction of guilt. In many religious leaders, this guilt induction and fear is almost always couched in the threat of loss of favor with Yahweh. Such leaders have no compunction about manipulating the dissident or questioning group member into believing that their salvation is at stake if they do not obey them in particular. By implying; that if you do not honor them, your salvation and standing with Yahweh is at stake. This is the stock in trade of the cult leader, guilt if you question, and threat of loss of salvation.
....The cultic leader has an inflated and grandiose sense of self. He styles himself a prophet and apostle, Messiah’s personal representative on earth, a ruler of grand proportions. They may claim humility and a servant’s heart, but you will find most of their rhetoric obsessively concentrating on their own personal obtaining and maintenance of power and authority. Again, in religious abusive groups, the leaders tend to have a vision of being grand rulers and kings in the Resurrection, and desire, more than anything, to begin that totality in this life. They genuinely feel they are entitled to adoration and total obedience and control of all those in their sphere. The histrionics are obvious with these stereotypical leaders. If they can't have their way they throw an absolute temper tantrum until they get their way.
....Cult leaders have a tendency toward pathological lying. They completely convince themselves of their own lies. They can create and completely buy into a belief system about their own powers and abilities and an unusual phenomenon particular to the internet is the development of whole fictitious personas in the guise of online security. Now, I am not talking about pseudonyms and the guarding of physical location and personal details. One cult leader The Sundance Wives know of has developed fictitious personas replete with personal biographies and histories and plays the characters out as though they were real when presenting online. These leaders have an inability to see or admit the truth even when caught in a lie….there are always extenuating circumstances and viable reasons for their deceits. Another side of this characteristic is to take something that is basically true and combine it with the fabrications to present an aura of credibility. While more subtle, it is, nevertheless, just another side of the deceit coin. They are not beyond plagiarism either! They will obtain other people's writings, make some changes and then use their own name as the author of the stolen work!
....A defining characteristic of cult leaders is the fact that, no matter what pain or destruction their actions towards others has brought, there is absolutely no shame, remorse or guilt on their part for the consequences of their actions. If they even give it thought, it is only how to rearrange the perspective on events to present themselves as justified and right in their actions. This is frequently combined with the penchant for deceit discussed above in fabricating plausible sounding explanations for their actions. A frequent justification is…”Yahweh told me to…..Yahweh told me not to…..” for all true believers, there is always a reluctance to deny what may well have been instruction from the Master, and these cult leaders know this. No matter what pain they cause others, they have it worked out how it is the victims’ fault, some deficiency on their part that led to their own suffering. Never is it the cult leaders fault the pain and suffering he causes.
....The cultic leader has very shallow emotions, very insecure. This characteristic is particularly difficult to detect in online communication despite the phallacy of real, heartfelt, emotions, the cult leader with the gift of gab frequently presents as eminently loving, gentle, kind and concerned, especially with those he is trying to develop control over. He presents his demands for control as being only in the very best interest of his victims and presents himself as sacrificially taking such control out of love and commitment. This is almost impossible to see clearly online, except in exceptional circumstances, due to the inability to see this person in actual day-to-day interactions with those around him, and due to the inability to see body language and hear tonal inflections in his voice. He can convince his followers that he loves them unconditionally, but that love, if experienced in truth at all, is conditional solely on his victims’ total acceptance of his domination.
....There is a tendency for the cult leader to be incredibly callous about the pain and distress of his victim, having no regard for the feelings of the victim. In religious groups with this type of leader, there is great emphasis placed on the unreliability of feelings and the necessity to overcome them, thereby invalidating everything the victim is suffering. A common ploy is for the victim to be told that his/her feelings are not valid because no one else feels that way. All the leader’s manipulative skills are utilized to exploit, control and gain power over the victim. Since the victims do not believe that the leader would intentionally hurt them, they rationalize, with the help of the leader, that the infliction of such pain is for their own good…or has some sort of “redemptive” purpose.
....The cultic leader tends to have an unrealistic life plan. You will not find such a person working a job during the week and leading the group on the weekends. His sole goal is to gain and consolidate his control of his group, and increase the size of said group. A frequent statement made by such leaders is….”Yahweh will provide….”.Donations from the group are encouraged, and in many groups, members are expected to donate everything they have to the group, utilizing scriptures describing communal living to support such demands. Only, in this type of group, resources are rarely apportioned according to need, but according to the leader’s perception of need. This leader tends to be highly sensitive to their health problems, and they complain often about it.
....Contempt of those who do not understand him is almost a defining characteristic of the cultic leader. He makes it plain that in his view, those who either cannot understand the complex and usually very esoteric belief system, are flawed spiritually and nowhere near as worthy as he and those who follow him are. He claims to have exclusive revelation to the truth, and is convinced that those who do not share this same revelation are; blinded to truth, in error, or overtly demonized.
....This leader does not conceive that there is anything at all wrong with him, that there is no possibility at all of error on his part. When confronted with obvious errors on his part, rage ensues and attacks on the credibility of the one voicing the errors are common tactics. And anger plays a monumental part of their character composition. This becomes a tool that the cult leader uses to control their members. In internet groups, such a person will never discuss differences in ideology or areas where his error could be brought out into the open in one on one discussion. This cult leader type, are usually able to maintain their own sense of infallibility without having to answer errors brought out by others
....In a cultic environment, the leader almost always evidences a strong, secretive paranoia…..seeing or fearing persecution from all quadrants. They are unusually obsessed about their position and will usually be given to temper tantrums when challenged. There always tends to be secret revelations, secret texts, and secret insights he will share with no one outside the group; the common reason given is the scriptural injunction not to cast one’s pearls before swine. Perhaps the greatest fear of such a leader is that, with exposure to the light, his pet paradigms will be shown for the esoteric creations that they are. Publicly, they give voice to holding to the accepted canons and dogma of the word, but their secret revelations hold far more sway in their minds and beliefs.
....The goal of the cult leader is total enslavement of the victims. In mind controlling cults, scriptures commanding submission are used to totally dominate and control the victims’ actions, thoughts and beliefs. Victims are repeatedly and emphatically told that they must yield totally to the leader, to throw themselves at his feet. One leader even proposes bowing and prostration and the kissing of his feet from his followers as a sign of total surrender. This is presented as a direct command from Yahweh, and takes the biblical description of authority to such a level that the leader is left with total control of all aspects of the victims’ lives. The victims are then conditioned to believe that only in such total surrender to the leader will they truly be free or happy.
....there is a definite pattern of thought and behavior for the cultic leader. The underlying purpose for every action and word is power. Language is the chief tool of the cultic leader and he uses it to dominate, control and manipulate those around him. In mind controlling religious cults, the leaders show consummate skill in manipulating scriptures with the sole purpose of consolidating their control over their victims. The induction of guilt and the induction of fear of condemnation are the chief weapons in the cult leader’s arsenal.
....If the person speaks up about the abuses they suffer, or tries to impart that information to another person who is at risk for the same type of treatment, that person is immediately demonized. Character assassination, interspersed with a voiced concern for the escapee’s spiritual (or mental) health, follows. Since the facts coming out cannot be refuted, the leader resorts to ad hominem attacks and immediately counsels others in his sphere of influence not to have contact with the vocal escapee.
....Attempts by any group leader to question your salvation, induce feelings of guilt in you, or coerce you into unscriptural actions that you are uncomfortable with is very possibly a spiritually abusive group. Particularly with internet groups, the potential for deceit and error is great. These leaders boast about their ordination(s) and origin of order. Who ordained them, what are their names, where did this group originate? Prove all things. Readers, know the real motives and intentions of this group or leader. They are deceivers and destroyers. A lot of them were physically, verbally and sexually abused as children often perpetrated by a same-sex parent, the reason for their homophobia. And a lot of these cult leaders are closet homosexuals participating in baiting rape of either sex. They are sexual predators and sex offenders even if they have not been prosecuted.