In the previous post, I put forth the idea that faithful WOFF members keep the true inside dynamics secret from the outside family members. Secrets are also kept from co-workers and any acquaintances. This should be no surprise even for a group of that size. Today, I want to add two more concepts that will help explain why and how this could happen and how a WOFF member sees this as perfectly normal and “the will of God.”
“Mind control, also called “thought reform”, is more subtle and sophisticated. Its perpetrators are regarded as friends or peers, so the person is much less defensive. He unwittingly participates by cooperating with his controllers and giving them private information that he does not know will be used against him…. Mind control involves little to no overt physical abuse. Instead, hypnotic processes are combined with group dynamics to create a potent indoctrination effect. The individual is deceived and manipulated – not directly threatened – into making the prescribed choices. On the whole, he responds positively to what is done to him.” (emphasis added- page 56) Continue reading How far will you go to protect “the will of God?”→
February of 2010 on this blog, I wrote about Jane Whaley’s Toilet Paper Revelation. I was in that service when the “revelation” was introduced to the members of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Yes, some went overboard and it got out of hand. Jane actually tried to moderate the exuberance with which some began to monitor the bathroom habits of their fellow members. It was in reality a fiasco. But, at the time, I did not understand the lasting detrimental effects. During my stay at WOFF, I witnessed CH get publically rebuked by Mark Doyle for using a urinal in an airport bathroom. It was not God’s will for WOFF members to use urinals. This was just a hint of the controls yet to come. During my years there, the urinals were partitioned off so you could not view the person beside of you. Apparently, this is not the end of the controls of personal bathroom habits. Allow me continue.
Fast forward to this year and yet more bathroom controls have been explained to me. Recently, I have been told that the urinals were totally removed from the bathroom s at WOFF. For recent visitors- is this true? I have no reason to doubt it. If that were the end of the controls, I would not be writing this post. Reports coming out of this group have gone into more detail. I will try to be as tasteful as possible in explaining the restraints that I understand to be in place at WOFF.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a major increase in the supply of material that is fitting for this blog. It has been hard to focus on what to post next. Today, I received notice of this video and stopped everything to watch it. The speaker is Steve Hassan, a leading author and expert in mind control techniques and an ever-giving resource of help for those wanting to understand cults and their nuances. We have featured his work on this blog before; however, this video has some timely comments on current events surrounding the subject of cults and mind control. We will review a few excerpts and tie them back to subjects discussed previously on this blog.
The video is less than twenty-five minutes long. He recently spoke at the Society for Ethical Culture in NY and apparently he has many friends there.
Over the last few years since leaving Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), several folks at different times have asked this question or one similar. Why do people stay inside WOFF? For many, the idea behind the question is: John, if things are as bad as you say, why don’t folks just leave? For those being more inquisitive, they are asking me: John, if it was that bad, why did you stay for so long? These are very fair questions. In this post, I will share an answer from a cult expert and add my reflections to help complete the answer for my situation.
During my research, I came across a video put out by Steven Hassan. This video is an informal conversation filmed in a hotel room about 2 years ago. The participants were Steven Hassan a leading cult expert, Attorney Paul Grosswald, ex-Scientologist, and Karen Pressley also a former high ranking ex-Scientologist. Much of the content does center on Karen’s experiences and her successes since leaving the group. During the discourse, there are several notable quotes which include answers to why folks stay in controlling groups, as well as other points of interests for those trying to understand the cult experience.
Before we begin, let me explain that I have no experience with Scientology or the Moonies. The purpose of this video is only as an aide to help answer the question: Why do members stay? The video is over fifty (50) minutes long and there is no way I can review the full content here. For this post, we will just hit on some major keys for understanding given by the participants. Some of the terms describing the rules or actions within Scientology were foreign to me and can only be explained by context.
Before I begin with the content of this post, let me acknowledge there will be some who disagree with my position to present this information in this forum. Some survivors of WOFF choose to “forgive and forget” and attempt to put everything that happened to them as far away from them as possible. That is a choice each is free to make, but, I don’t recommend it. Privacy prevents me from sharing the emails I receive on a regular basis from survivors of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) and other groups. Many of these emails contain regrets for waiting so long to process the events that happened to them in years of being involved in a controlling group. Trying to ignore the injuries, the injustices, the hurts, the confusion and the emotional trauma will not prove helpful in the long run. The emails I receive with these aches and hurts are from survivors who were in WOFF and relatives of those who are now or have been in WOFF. It is with that understanding that I proceed to share the ongoing story of a survivor of 21 years of involvement in WOFF.
In a previous post titled, “Another Exit Drama Unfolds …” found here: http://religiouscultsinfo.com/?p=4782 . In that post, we did not name the survivor for various reasons. As of a few days ago, by his choice, his name was put into public record and therefore we will mention it here. Michael Lowry was born in 1990 in Rutherford County while his family was a part of WOFF. The family was from Michigan and have lived in the area every since his birth. He grew up in WOFF as his only social environment. In the previous post, we recounted his experiences in the “fourth building”. Those experiences had been traumatic to say the least and were a major part of his decision to leave his family and the only group of “friends” he had ever known. Today, we will give you excerpts from an incident report he filed with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s department outlining some of the events in the fourth building.
Remember, this report is listed as “Further Investigation” needed. The people listed in this report are innocent until proven guilty. No event or claim in this report has been proven in a court of law and no person in this report has been convicted of any crime(s). This is an incident report that is in public records that anyone can obtain a copy of from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s department.
Many years ago, newspapers were delivered door to door often times by a young boy or girl. I don’t know maybe somewhere in this nation this still happens. In the early ’70’s, it was very common. I was ten years old when I took my first paper route. There were no more than about 30 to 35 customers. But, it was a big deal to me. I still remember my first few weeks as my Dad would get me up and walk with me to the place where the truck had dropped the papers earlier in the morning. I can still remember the exact location and have thought of it in years past as I passed through Radford, Va. We picked up the papers about 6:15AM and off we went to deliver them – door to door. This was quite a big deal for a ten year old boy. The papers first came wrapped with a cotton string. Every morning, I would cut the string and save it. Why? I am not sure. But, I kept the string and began a ball. Later, the papers would come wrapped in wire and then in plastic ties. It was impractical to save wire or plastic, but the string made a great souvenir.
Over the years, the ball of string went with me as I moved from place to place. Actually, for many years it ended up in a box of other “trophies” from my childhood. Years passed and every so often there would come a purge to the box as I would release certain items as “no longer needed”. But, for years the ball of string made it through purge after purge. After I married and we had children, I would come across the ball of string and tell the story of its origin to my children. They would laugh and at least for the first few times, so would my wife. It seemed like a harmless memento from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, well you know what I mean.
Hassan writes, “When I lecture in colleges, I usually challenge my audience with the question, “How would you know if you were under mind control?” After some reflection, most people will realize that if one were under mind control, it would be impossible to determine it without some help from others. In addition, one would need to understand very clearly what mind control is.” (page 53) From the previous posts I wrote, “WOFF members do not believe for one second that they are under either brainwashing ormind control! I know since I did not have any idea that the “gift” that Jane operated in was full of mind control techniques.” In light of this acquired disbelief, it does little good to tell WOFF members they have been brainwashed or are under mind control. Hassan writes, “Whenever people yelled at me and called me a “brainwashed robot”, I just took it was expected persecution. It made me feel more committed to the group.” (page 53)
We also reviewed the basic difference between brainwashing and mind control: “Brainwashing is typically coercive. The person knows from the outset that he is in the hands of the enemy. It begins with a clear demarcation of the respective roles—who is the prisoner and who is the jailer—and the prisoner experiences the absolute minimum of choice…” (page 55).
“Mind control, also called “thought reform,” is much more subtle and sophisticated. Its perpetrators are regarded as friends or peers, so the person (being influenced) is much less defensive… Mind control has little to no overt physical abuse… The individual is deceived and manipulated – not directly threatened – into making prescribed choices. On the whole, he responds positively to what is done to him.” (page 56)