I have been watching an HBO documentary regarding the cult called NXIVM. The series is called, The Vow, and it is fascinating. The leader of the cult is Keith Raniere. ‘NXIVM is a self described American multi-level marketing company based near Albany, New York, which offers personal and professional development seminars through its ‘Executive Success Programs.’ The company has been widely described as a cult, and is alleged to have been a recruiting program for a secret society [variously called ‘DOS’ or the ‘Vow’] in which women were branded and forced into sexual slavery.’ Wikipedia

I have been a student of the study of cults for over 40 years. The more that I read…and I have read a lot, the more I have discovered the pervasiveness of cults and cultish behavior and control mechanisms in our society. When someone talks you into something that you do not want to do…they are manipulating you. I first seriously took note of the power of cults on innocent humans when the Jonestown Massacre took place in 1978. I had been working at SIUC for only a couple of weeks and I was shocked that so many people went willingly to their deaths at the bequest of a madman!

We have a church in our area that requires it’s members to bring in their financial statements and tax returns in order for the church elders to determine how much the congregant is mandated to contribute to the organization. I have personally known many people who were instructed to, ‘Give until it hurts,’ after they were already contributed 10% of their gross income as a tithe. In fact there were people who did not have enough money for groceries…while the minister lived in luxury.

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Religious or political leaders are simply women and men…like everyone else… If you are a member of a political organization that pledges fealty and unquestioning loyalty to a political leader…you have ceased to think for yourself and your family and are the victim of brainwashing! One of the hallmarks of being a member of a cult is turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to actions or speech that you know in your gut are wrong…but since it is the leader performing the disconcerting machinations…you tell yourself that it must be alright. In NXIVM many women allowed themselves to be branded with the initials of Keith Raniere…as a sign of his masterhood over their lives. These were not uneducated people but rather highly educated people… as the controlling concept of the group was that Raniere possess the highest IQ ever recorded.

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If another person, outside of your family, is involved in your domestic or financial decision making you are treading on dangerous territory! If you are forgoing logical thinking for a promised nirvana as a reward for your obedience and submission to your spiritual leader…you should take a step back and observe the faces of your fellow church or faith community members…when they do not know that someone is looking…and notice the unhappiness and despair written on their countenance…

During the last 40 years we have become increasingly reliant on someone to explain the news to us. As we have become more insular and afraid of our neighbors we seek approval for our insecurities and our us against them attitude. We paint entire groups with a broad house brush rather than a fine painters brush. From the time of Watergate we have trusted our political leaders less and less. The mixing of politics and religion and faith…have created a hydra headed beast that only pays lip service to the concept of christianity and it subsequently primarily concerned with it’s own survival and success…

Mind control is quiet and insidious and enters by the back door of your soul…by stealth and avarice and cunning. It is a bit like the boiling of a frog. When you place the frog in cool water and turn on the gas burner underneath the pan…he is happy and content…until he is dead… I think that we all naturally desire to be a part of something special. It is fun and comforting to believe that we are traveling on the inside track and are bound for success. Have we not wanted to be a part of the ‘In Group’ since we were children? Who is doing your thinking for you? Are you still in possession of that critical faculty? If you are I can assure you that you will feel like the Lone Ranger…on many occasions of your life. Or do you sub-contract your decision making out to a political leader that your church assures you is the chosen one… Are you engaged in church doctrine that is hurting your family financially…while the leader of your faith community seems to be blessed by God beyond measure…with your money!

Do you really believe that God the creator of the human family…made a difference in color as a barometer of his love? Is God petty and prejudice and a possessor of pets and favorites and a lover of cliques?

Each of us are looking for answers to life’s persistent questions. Why are we here? What is our purpose? How can we make a difference? For me as a member of the christian faith my peace has resulted from Jesus admonition, ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ John 13:34 NLT

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