February 25, 2003

My Brother Joined a Cult

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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