Main Entry: homogeneous
Etymology: Medieval Latin homogeneus, homogenus, from Greek homogen*s, from hom- + genos kind — more at KIN
1 : of the same or a similar kind or nature
2 : of uniform structure or composition throughout *a culturally homogeneous neighborhood*
3 : having the property that if each variable is replaced by a constant times that variable the constant can be factored out : having each term of the same degree if all variables are considered *a homogeneous equation*
Exploitive, abusive groups use coercion, fear tactics, deception, control of information, shame, guilt and other methods of thought reform in an effort to gain total control over their recruits and members.
The use of these behavior conditioning techniques may be dangerously effective, leading to a state of deep dependence. In this regard, two basic principals are:
If you can make a person behave the way you want, you can make that person believe the way you want.
Sudden drastic changes in environment can lead to heightened suggestibility and to dramatic changes in attitudes and beliefs.
Awareness and education are the only weapons against the subtle recruitment tactics of a deceptive group. Don't be a target of exploitation and abuse under the guise of religion.
Almost all exploitive religious groups employ some type of thought-reform program to ensure control over their members. Not all of the marks below need be used in order for a group to be considered a destructive religious group.
Exploitive, Abusive Groups:
use abusive, manipulative methods to attract and retain members
require unquestioning submission and loyalty to the leadership (known as "the government" in certain groups)
instill the notion that nowhere else will you find as accurate an understanding of "the truth"
getting the recruit to agree that the state of the world or the state of their own personal condition is undesirable
telling them what they need to do to make themselves or the world better
keeping the member always investing in the future and never really enjoying the present;
keeping their mind always on something else
getting members to believe that the leader alone has the solution(s), and to deny that there could be anything wrong with their leader or their organization
re-directing the member to remake himself or herself, or to look forward to remaking the world (i. e., helping to bring in the Kingdom), while actually molding him/her to satisfy the grandiosity or financial aspirations of the leader.
Four main characteristics:
ISOLATION (control of information; encourages members to devote large amounts of time to the group and to socialize only with group members [referred to as their "family"]; often cuts off with immediate family and friends)
NON-THINKING (members--and prospective members--don't study and come to understand on their own, but simply look up the Scriptures given them, which agree with what the leader is saying; avoidance of thoughts that are contrary to the group's beliefs)
ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE (questioning, doubt and dissent are strongly discouraged)
GIVING EXCESSIVELY (tithes, offerings, contributions are required to be given to the group leader or "headquarters")
Other main characteristics:
Focused on a Living Leader (who often lives in luxury and is not accountable to anyone; members are devoted to this person whom they believe speaks for God) Read: Profile of a Sociopath.
Exhorted to Strive for Perfection (obedience to certain laws and rituals is emphasized)
Their Doctrine is Considered to be the Ultimate Truth Beyond Questioning (to question is to "come under the influence of Satan")
No Gray Areas (the group has all the answers to the questions, which they receive from the leader who has all the answers; everything is either right or wrong, "black or white."
Control (a member's life is controlled by policies and procedures originating with the leadership)
Conformity to established practices and beliefs (uses fear, intimidation and guilt)
A Gap between the picture projected to the general public and the inner reality
Preoccupied with Bringing in New Members
Those Outside the Group are Regarded as Less Enlightened (usually they are screened before being allowed to attend services)
Deceptive Fundraising Techniques (members and public assume contributions go to social causes, while most of money goes to the leader and expansion of the group)
Distinct Hierarchy with the Group (everyone has his or her place; those at each level of the pyramid do not know what is going on at the level above them)
Secrecy (there is an inner truth and outer truth; a gap between what is projected to the general public and the inner reality known only to the members)
A System of Merits ("works-righteousness" orientation)
Perceived Persecution (one of their hallmarks)
Misuse of Scripture (taken out of context, manipulated, to support the teachings of the leader)
Increasing Loss of Freedom for a Member (the demands of the group/leader destroy any other relationships or personal growth, and destroy freedom in every significant sense)
ALL BIBLE-BASED OR APOCALYPTIC GROUPS:
Say the leader is the "Apostle," "God's Messenger," "the Elijah," "That Prophet," etc.
Preach that God's Kingdom is "coming soon" (within your lifetime)
Tell their members that they are the special "elect"
Proclaim that their "church" is the only one that has the "truth," "God's revelation," or the "restored gospel"
Teach that salvation is contingent on remaining in their group
Twist (or redefine) Scriptures
Use fear, guilt, threats and phobia indoctrination to keep the members obeying and to keep them from leaving
Have "black and white" thinking and see situations as all good or all bad; a "blessing" or a "curse"
Believe that they are being "persecuted" if someone criticizes or exposes their group
Often state that "the end is near" with a focus on end time prophecies (apocalyptic teachings)
What Should I Look For?
You are attracted to a particular group and you would like to know whether its true nature is being revealed by the recruiter. Here are some questions to ask so that you can make your own evaluation.
How is criticism perceived by the group?
In certain groups, criticism is not well received. The leaders are often perceived as those who possess the truth as a result of their own testimony or from God. If this is the case, it can become difficult to criticize the leaders of the group.
Are there members who do not do everything the leaders ask of them? If so, what is their reputation within the group?
Certain groups limit the freedom of its members and do not accept dissent.
Are all your questions answered?
The leaders or representatives of groups sometimes avoid answering questions which they feel the newcomer is not ready to understand. This could be a sign that they wish to hide something from you, namely the real nature and goals of the group. (Also see: Questions to Ask Any Church or Religious Group You Are Planning on Becoming Involved With)
Important Measures to Take:
Be wary of sending money to a person or group that is unknown to you.
Keep careful records of names, addresses, and phone numbers of persons known to be associated with a suspected destructive or controlling group.
Maintain a written chronology of events associated with the group.
Collect critical information about the group from newspaper and magazine articles, books, the Internet, and even publications of the group itself.
Be wary of spending your money for treatments, seminars, or counseling for either yourself or a family member until you have thoroughly verified the credentials and qualifications of the program.
Be on the alert for false-front operations.
A group can be dangerous if it camouflages itself as encouraging Bible study or self-improvement, but does some or all of the following:
Uses mind manipulating control techniques or propaganda to influence its subjects
Conceals criminal acts or the criminal backgrounds of leaders
Approves of destroying enemies
Uses sexual abuse as a means of control
Uses physical or mental punishment for those who are not "obedient"
Regresses members to a child-like dependency and total obedience
Prostitutes young people to recruit new subjects or to manipulate others
Insists that they alone are right and have all the answers
Inculcates the belief, fear or phobia that to leave the group, or disobey the leader, would cause self-destruction, insanity, disease, suicide, death, or eternal death for themselves or their loved ones
Levels bizarre accusations against others in order to alienate members from family
Indoctrinates subjects with phobias about outside sources of help
Discourages or disallows medical attention
Detains or kidnaps subjects to keep them in the group
Maintains guarded premises to keep people away
Starves and exposes subjects whose resources are depleted
Drives subjects to madness and/or suicide
Murders dissenters or perceived enemies
Incites or commits mass murder or mayhem
Pyramid Structure of Authoritarian Groups
Top level: Leader (speaks for God)
Next level: International or national leaders who are controlled by the leader
Next level: Regional leaders who are controlled by international or national leaders.
Next level: State or local leaders who are manipulated and controlled by regional leaders.
Lowest level: Members who are controlled by state or local leaders and are controlled by them.
All controlling Herbert Armstrong offshoot organizations teach (the same as WCG did) that God is at the top, then Jesus Christ, then Herbert Armstrong (or Gerald Flurry, David Pack, Roderick Meredith, etc.), then the church (the organization), which is broken down to the various offices and ministry and members. (The above "pyramidal structure" shows the true picture.)
Leaders of Totalistic Groups Have These Traits in Common
Claims he is "divinely appointed by God" and is given "a special commission to fulfill on this earth"
Claims to have been given "special, revealed knowledge," and is "restoring essential truths"
Claims his writings are "absolute truths" or "revelations from God" and heavily distributes them to members
Claims he has "answers to all of life's questions" (black and white thinking)
Authoritatively teaches members to conform to dietary laws, dress codes, child rearing techniques, dating, marriage, observances of days, and sexual teachings
Encourages members to "cut off ties" with friends, family members, co-workers and relatives (isolation)
Strictly controls members' finances; coerces them into giving financially
Unites the group by causing them to focus on Satan (and his "lies"), who is seen in everything outside the group's teachings
Claims that apocalypse, Armageddon, the Great Tribulation and "End of the Age" is just around the corner and members must stay in the group or go else through it
Practices shunning, denouncing, marking and disfellowshipping
Teaches that leaving the group is equated to "eternal death in the Lake of Fire" and "losing one's chance for salvation."
Places a priesthood or other hierarchy between the believer and God. Members must go through the "proper channels"
Has a shepherding, discipling or visitation program to "keep members in check" (practices spying)
Teaches and circulates many sacred myths and stories concerning his "divine appointment" or "calling from God"
Has "sacred roots," which means he perpetuates stories of how the group's beginnings can be traced back to the original, ancient "true" church or disciples
Is considered an "end-time prophet," "That Prophet," "the Elijah," an "Apostle," etc. When the prophecies fail, members are blamed for not being "pure enough"
Engages in living standards (usually without the members' knowledge) that far exceeds the living standards of the members
Does not observe, or apply to himself, the rules that govern his membership (a double-standard exists)
By Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
July 2, 2001
Last updated October 18, 2005
Totalistic Groups Have Much in Common:
While the following applies to Seventh-day Adventism (co-founded by Ellen G. White), a group that HWA is known to have plagiarized/copied1 from, try substituting the words "Herbert Armstrong" for "Mrs. White"; "prophecies" for "visions"; "dissidents" for "rebels"; "unconverted" for "infidels," etc.
Why I Once Believed Mrs. White Inspired:
1. I once accepted Mrs. White's claim to inspiration for the same reason that most of her followers do. I first accepted the Sabbath and then the other points of the faith till I came to believe it all.
2. Once among and of them I found all stating in strong terms that Mrs. White was inspired of God. I supposed they knew, and so took their word for it; and that is what all the others do as they come in, deny it as they may.
3. I soon found that her revelations were so connected with the whole history and belief of that church that I could not consistently separate them any more than a person could be a Mormon and not believe in Joseph Smith. I believed the other doctrines so firmly that I swallowed the visions with the rest, and that is what all do.
4. When I began to have suspicions about the visions I found the pressure so strong that I feared to express them, or even to admit them to myself. All said such doubts were of the Devil and would lead to a rejection of the truth and then to ruin. So I dared not entertain them nor investigate the matter; and this is the way it is with others.
5. I saw that all who expressed any doubts about the visions were immediately branded as "rebels," as "in the dark," "led by Satan," "infidels," etc.
6. Having no faith in any other doctrine or people, I did not know what to do nor where to go. So I tried to believe the visions and go along just as thousands of them do when really they are in doubt about them all the time.
~Excerpted from: Seventh Day Adventism Renounced by D. M. Canright
If you enjoyed this article,
Please consider a monthly subscription to Rumor Mill News!!