Frequently Asked Questions
Certainly not. Unconditional love respects the free will of all people. Many people are choosing to stay in their groups and their free will is respected. Cult Escape is a resource for those who are curious, considering leaving, or who feel trapped and unable to leave.
Certainly not. The past does not equal the future. A person can leave a cult but has the cult left that person? The worst thing a person can do is nothing. There is a healing journey to optimistically pursue which will result in hope for the future and a life ahead to be enjoyed to the full. I, John, the author of Cult Escape was as screwed up as you can get till the age of 22. After I escaped the Exclusive Brethren I was very blessed to discover some very wonderful truths that I just needed to believe. These included going through the five stages of death which leads to acceptance, two major reasons why to forgive and more importantly how to forgive, seeing the Cult for what it is, and best of all, glimpsing unconditional love which is the nuclear bomb that destroys fear and negative residues of bitterness, resentment, angst, pain and suffering. Read more about this great subject in the book Cult Escape and this resource which is expanding all the time.
Let’s start by looking at five definitions:
One of the simplest definitions of a ‘cult’ is a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents. Merriam-Webster dictionary.
English Oxford Dictionaries define it as a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object.
Webster’s 1913 Dictionary defines it as a system of intense religious veneration of a particular person, idea, or object, especially one considered spurious or irrational be traditional religious bodies; as, the Moonie cult.
The Christian Research Institute describe a cult as a religious or semi-religious sect whose members are controlled almost entirely by a single individual or by an organization. This kind of cult is usually manipulative, demanding total commitment and loyalty from its followers. Converts are usually cut off from all former associations, including their own families.
An article in christianitytoday.com describes the most commonly used definition of a cult as:
1) Exclusive. They may say, “We’re the only ones with the truth; everyone else is wrong; and if you leave our group your salvation is in danger.”
2) Secretive. Certain teachings are not available to outsiders or they’re presented only to certain members, sometimes after taking vows of confidentiality.
3) Authoritarian. A human leader expects total loyalty and unquestioned obedience.
The Cult Escape definition: a system of religious veneration and devotion which exerts more than 0% control over its followers.
Is this an extreme definition?
Yes, a moderate definition could be that a cult is a group that exerts anything over 50% control over its followers.
If we put it at over 50% though, we have to ask the question, ‘How much control is acceptable?’
Not at all. I left the Exclusive Brethren a long time ago back in 1988. I am extremely blessed to have journeyed through various stages of healing which I describe in detail in the Cult Escape book. All I feel towards the people of the Exclusive Brethren nowadays is forgiveness and compassion. I created Cult Escape because there are millions of people who have been wounded, damaged and scarred by their religious experience. Who cares? I do and this book and resource is to help bring healing and freedom to any such people.
When it divides, separates, judges what it thinks is good and evil, and falls short of unconditional love.
The Oxford Dictionary definition of control is: the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.
Cult Escape defines religious control in the following way. The opposite of religious control is unconditional love outworked in relationship. There is no control in unconditional love which, for example, can be seen when a couple are enjoying a typical honeymoon period. If the ‘religion’ is not unconditional love then it is conditional which means it has conditions which are expected to be obeyed. These conditions are in the form of laws, rules, regulations and expectations. The adherent to such ‘religion’ is subject to such conditions and if punishment is the result of the behavior of not meeting the conditions, then that person is being controlled. Religious control is man usurping power exerted via laws that result in punishment if disobeyed. The laws or rules in question are not those which society generally accepts but ‘religious’ laws which the religion claims their god demands.
No, not at all. The Exclusive Brethren was my life and experience for 22 years. I cannot write at this time about the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, the EB rebrand in 2012. Are the PBCC practices the same as when I was a member of the EB? No, the laws and rules change over time. I believe certain things that once resulted in members being excommunicated are now classed as acceptable.
This Cult Escape resource is all about principles that apply to all religious cults, religions, organisations, institutions and denominations that exercise control over their members. The principles of fear, control, coercive indoctrination, brainwashing, separation, love-bombing, shunning, ostracising, self-righteous bigotry etc are all the same no matter what religious label. No matter how trapped a person is in in any of these strongholds of man, there is hope, healing and freedom to be discovered and enjoyed for anyone who wants to take the journey.
To be a pointer to the one true power that will set people ultimately free from control and ego; Unconditional Love
The short answer is; Love with no conditions, whatever the condition.
Not at all. If the Exclusive Brethren, or any institution for that matter, are not willing to be transparent and welcome exposure to everything that has gone on, and everything that goes on with their members, then they are hiding something.
Cult Escape by John Spinks is his story of what happened to him from birth to 1988 and the effect it had on him. By telling it he is putting his life on the table for all to see. If the EB really believe those laws John had to obey are direct from God, then why would they not want everyone to hear them too?
The EB love all those laws. What is there to be embarrassed or ashamed about? They should welcome the ‘good news of their laws’ getting into the public domain, so that people can see if they agree and if so then maybe join the Exclusive Brethren.
So rather than it being an attack, it is an opportunity for people to see if they agree with the ‘separation’ doctrine and all the other laws that John was brought up to believe were from God.
So rather than cover up and hide his life story, let the light shine on it brightly for all to see. Then you the reader, if you have an open and humble teachable mind, can ask and seek and find the freedom that comes from shining the light on every deed.
Exclusive Brethren, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, The Church of Scientology, The Unification Church, The Way International, Unity School of Christianity, Children of God, Christian Identity, Seventh-day Adventist Church, The Twelve Tribes.
Using an excerpt from an excellent resource that helps Cult victims, Exit and Support Network, see if you think any of the religious cult hallmarks apply to any of the above groups. Then you can decide for yourself.
How Do I Know if It’s a Religious Cult or Healthy Spirituality?*
Healthy spirituality respects the individual’s autonomy.
Religious cults enforce compliance.
Healthy spirituality tolerates and even encourages questions and independent critical thinking.
Religious cults discourage questions and independent critical thinking.
Healthy spirituality responds to critics respectfully.
Religious cults frequently intimidate critics with physical or legal threats.
Healthy spirituality cherishes the member’s family.
Religious cults view the outside family as an enemy.
Healthy spirituality encourages psycho spiritual integration.
Religious cults “split” members into the “good cult self” and the “bad old self.”
Conversion to healthy spirituality involves an unfolding of internal processes central to a person’s identity.
- Cultic conversion involves an unaware surrender to external forces that care little for the person’s identity.
Healthy spirituality tries to help individuals meet their spiritual needs.
Religious cults exploit spiritual needs.
* (excerpt from http://www.exitsupportnetwork.com/artcls/mindctrl/sick.htm)
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What do you think? Here’s a quote that I believe makes a lot of sense:
‘In the name of the democratic freedom to worship, cults should never be banned. They should, however, be monitored. The system should subject questionable cults to public scrutiny and have an early warning system in case of reasonable non-compliance.
The barons of bureaucracy must never be given the licence to curb this basic democratic freedom. Never. Waco was a wake-up call against that.’
Stephen B.C. Tan, New Zealand
On Talking Point, BBC April 2000