February 25, 2003

My Brother Joined a Cult

by Stu

  I recently discovered that I have reason to believe a family member of mine is being led by some
sort of Christian religious cult. No, not the type of group that worships a giant shampoo bottle while
walking around in robes, but more of a transparent collective run by very smart people who appear as mental
cases while brainwashing you and taking your money. I hadn't realized this situation until my dad pointed
out to me that the way my brother's been acting since he gotten married points to signs of coercive
mind-control, common in cult involvement.

  You see, my brother doesn't talk to the rest of the family anymore; out of nowhere he's slidden into
a cave of seclusion, excommunicating most of the outside world and media. Him and his wife screen their
calls and never answer their door, so living across the country makes it a little harder for me to see
what his deal is. After some of my other family members had a not to comforting encounter with him, it
was pieced together, judging from such a change in behavior, that the involvement of a religious cult is
possible. I'm sure my family wouldn't be too surprised if I never talked to anyone anymore, but my
brother's never been like that; he's always been the social butterfly, sometimes even bringing our
quiet family together in conversation.

  Being raised in the church, my siblings and I are used to different views of Christian dogma and
agendas. While I'm glad I got out of it all when I did, one situation my dad told me about was when we
were younger. There were people in our church from a radical religious group who would pose as members
of the church. These people would go out to the bible studies, introduce their group's ideas, spread their
propaganda and recruit members. And now that I think of people like that, experiences in the past with
some over-zealous believers kind of seem pieced together just a little better. Though this isn't exactly
the case with how I think my brother may have been influenced, he did actually go to a bible college, a
place where groups like these hit the hardest.

  After doing a little research on Christian religious cults in his area, I came up with a few names
such as Maranatha Ministries and Christian Advance. Ex-members of these groups have confesses to have exhumed
such behaviors as seen in my brother, which are said to be encouraged by the 'leaders' of these cults.
According to these sources, members of such cults are under authorities, or elders, who tell them when God
says whether they can do this or that, and keep their members under extreme surveillance. The lifestyle
they live is described as a '100% commitment to Jesus Christ', and by construing parts of the bible to
their advantage the leaders keep an easy access to that vault of loyalty. Self-proclaimed as prophets and
apostles, the folks who run one of the groups try to rid their followers of 'demons' of independence, doubt,
or anything else that would have them ask questions about where their money is going.

  I'm hoping I can help my brother, but it is very hard to do so. Relief from mind-control is a very
touchy thing and must be gone about in a slow and careful process. He would most likely deny any accusations
made against the group and brush me off as a bad influence or demon like anything else that would question his
beliefs. The chance that he might start to think for himself may be my only hope.

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