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Mahaney and Harris: I don't get it.


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OK, here's what I don't understand. (Probably because I'm English.)


Why do people such as Mahaney and Harris have so much power to abuse people?

Who gives it to them?

Why do the people they abuse not tell them to STFU and get out, if they don't like them?

How can a 'bible-believing' Christian NOT see that they are worshipping their pastor, not Jesus?

Do they check their brains in with their coats when they go into church?

Why do they give these people money?

Why do they choose to have their personal self-esteem and lifestyle and ethics founded on what some smooth-talking demagogue says?

Why is this so prevalent in the USA? What is it that makes it possible for people to be conned into 'religion' like this, to the extent of ordering what they do in every little detail by an infallible human?


I just don't get it. Don't the people in these churches have any intelligence?


I mean this may happen in the UK (I don't know any baptist churches, so I'm open to correction there) but it doesn't seem to.


Please note this is NOT an 'English people are superior' post. We aren't any more than you are. I just do not understand why people fall for these guys. It seems so obvious that you should take one look and run like a hare . . .

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(I'm sure there are others) For a user-friendly, low-level book written about this-

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Jeff VanVonderen.

Or do some reading on Brainsamples's blog.

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I guess that they operate in the same way as any cult does: to gently lure members into the congregation by manipulation, positive enfercement and big promises.

I guess that Europeans are less likely to join a christian cult (we were raised with Christianity, most of us are not that impressed and religion as in Christianity is not a big thing here).

But there are other cults or cult-like movements that have a lot of European members: scientology, Landmark Forum, the Unification Church (Moon), MLM companies, Jehova's Witnesses, the Hare Krishna movement and lots of small independent cults/churces/movements.

We are not immune to manipulation.

Found this about mind control:

Mind control

Main article: Mind control

Studies performed by those who believe that some religious groups do practice mind control have identified a number of key steps in coercive persuasion:[31][32]

People are put in physical or emotionally distressing situations;

Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;

They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader or group;

They get a new identity based on the group;

They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled.[33]


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I knew someone who is an SGM survivor, and have gone to their church and some retreats.

1. They love BOMB you. The congregants are so friendly and open and inviting, they create this sense of family and deep relationship that you feel like you're the most accepted person in the world.

2. Some of these people REALLY BELIEVE, like 100% that this is the way - if you are seeking and don't have shields up 100% belief and love bombing can be really effective (IMO).

3. They see you as someone special. You're probably a prophet (if you are a woman) or a candidate for pastor (if you are male). You're not just joe schmoe YOU might be a special Christian snowflake. Or you ARE a special Christian snowflake because if you join SGM you are on the upper tier of Christian specialness.

4. If you go to their retreats - they know how to bring out emotions with music and they LOVE BOMB you.

5. They have all the answers to having the perfect Christian life - no need to think or struggle with the scriptures and how to apply it to your life - they can tell you how.

By the way - despite the fact that they say they don't promote Ezzo training anymore - I know for a fact that they do.

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I think the Jeff VanVonderan book covers a lot about this subject, but I also think a piece of it - I don't know how large - has something to do with personality. People who need to have things very black and white, people who are concerned with having certitude on all matters, people who are rigid in their worldview and view the world as a hostile place - all of these types seem more susceptible to this sort of thing.

My husband and I were visited and attended numerous churches over many years that had at least some of the elements that SGM seems to have in bushel baskets. We are both fortunate because, while we were happy to listen to these various pastors, we did not take their word hook-line-and-sinker for anything. We came to our conclusions based on our own study, other trusted sources' exegesis of the same passages, and our own convictions. We both have a bit of skepticism built into our personalities. This was rarely viewed as a plus by others in the church(es), though.

There were numerous times when we'd be in church listening to a sermon or attending a class and something would be said that just seemed off to us, for whatever reason. It often felt like we were the only ones who had those reservations, and there was always tremendous pressure to conform our views to whatever was being taught. We found a lot of people to be very uncomfortable in discussing different viewpoints, even for just purposes of discussion. I guess we were probably considered agitators in many of these situations, because we brought some [what we considered to be] healthy skepticism to the table and even when gently presented, it was often met with responses akin to someone having passed gas in church.

A lot of these people are very smart people, so it's not a matter of intellect. Truly. But there is a need for absolute certitude in a lot of people, and fundamentalism and some stripes of evangelical Christianity claim to be able to offer this certitude, and that is irresistible to many people from all walks of life.

And I also think that SGM and others like SGM prey upon people with low self-esteem, using all sorts of techniques like love-bombing, etc. to draw them in. One they're in, they're in a lot of the times. Once invested, it is very hard to back out. In doing so, one has to be willing to admit to the failings of their leadership, and when these leadership are elevated to celebrity status, it becomes a bridge too far for a lot of personality types. And perhaps failings in their own judgment. And when you leave, you leave. Others who you thought were your true friends will not speak or associate with you and the psychological pressure is enormous.

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Thanks for the answers - the love-bombing is something I hadn't really considered. or the need for certainty. I suppose if you're lonely you're especially vulnerable.

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Okay, it's kind of a pet peeve of mine, but I don't think you meant anything by it. This is not a Baptist thing. It's a cult thing. I think that Baptist are more fundie by nature, so I can see where people would make the jump.

My dad identifies as a Fundamental Baptist, he get offended when he gets lumped in with these freaks. I grew up what I guess around here would be kinda fundie light and I never experienced anything near what these people do.

My first time encountering someone like this was at church camp when I was 17, and I just thought they were weird. I wish I could have seen my own face when the girl was talking about saving her first kiss for marriage. :shock: I wish this place had been around then.

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