Tag Archives: Steve Hassan

WOFF Members are NOT Brainwashed- Really? (2)

   During a review of recent posts, I found the first post in this series had been inadvertently moved to the trash. I have no idea how that happened. But, the original post was rescued and restored to its place on this blog. Now we will continue with the review of the resource material found in Steven Hassan’s book, “Combatting Cult Mind Control” (Copyright©1988, 1990- by Steven Hassan, Park Street Press, ISBN-0-89281-311-3). We were reviewing material found in Chapter 4 titled:  Understanding Mind Control.

   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 or mind 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)

  Continue reading WOFF Members are NOT Brainwashed- Really? (2)

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Maybe It’s Just Me….

   So many thoughts and reflections during this day, I really don’t know where to start. During many days I have come across short scenes or incidents that remind of my past days and the many lost relationships. For instance, there are some songs that I just can’t listen to on the radio. That does not mean the songs are evil, it just means they remind me of treasures lost; previous times in a foggy memory somewhere back there. When hearing the song, the memories come forward from the cloudy past and shout at me. Does that make sense?

   Tonight, while driving home, I happened upon a radio station where a well known preacher was explaining his point from a Scripture. At this moment, it does not matter the Scripture or the point he was trying to make. Just realizing that I was listening to a preacher on the radio expounding on some Scripture reminded me first of what a forbidden sin that was at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Listening to the radio in your car was evil- period. Even worse was listening to another religious speaker from outside WOFF!  RL was castigated and threatened with church discipline or worse for this suspected sin, plus, the fact that his wife found a newspaper under the front seat of his truck! He tried to explain he was “just reading the sports scores”. That sent Jane Whaley into another orbit as her volume elevated to paint -peeling heights! Several jumped as she screamed some of her trademarked announcements meant to bring fear upon us all. And here I was partaking of just such a “sin”.

   It was there that I began to ponder the emotional destruction and traumatizing dangers of being in a religious cult. For those that read this blog regularly, you know my experience has been with Word of Faith Fellowship. Though I have read of others and have documented the obvious similarities between WOFF and other cults, my “expertise” stems from my hands-on, up-close, inside day to day observations of Jane Whaley, her leadership, and the other regular members. I was never considered “inside the leadership circle” but, no matter, my perspective is still valid and reflective of life as a “regular member”. For those that attempt to still excuse the WOFF environment as “safe”, I only ask you to read other posts found here; other informative websites on religious cults and the many accounts of other previous members. Can every former member of WOFF be “of the devil”, God-haters, traitors, a “Judas” or lying?

   For me, the whole bank of memories from that time serves as a reminder that “No one joins a cult…” That which seemed good, turned out to be not good. Those who were set-up to represent God  and God’s ways in my life- turned out to be repeating what they had been taught as “God’s ways” and in my efforts to “believe the best about every person”; I give many of them a pass as cogs in the machine of Jane’s controlling, legalistic, self-serving, matriarchal, pyramidal religious structure. I have seen and heard other former members of WOFF speak and share their own individual memories, traumas and losses. Over time, it grows less sensational, but, none the less heartbreaking and sad.

Continue reading Maybe It’s Just Me….

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WOFF Members are NOT Brainwashed- Really? (1)

   Wow… What’s up with that? Before you accuse me of listening to Jane Whaley tapes… I will explain the reason for the title in this post. (I turned in all my WOFF tapes years ago – before I left WOFF! We were not allowed to keep them – even if we had purchased them!???) During my years of being involved with Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), I was made aware of the accusations and chuckled along with the rest of the congregation when KR explained there was “no such thing as brainwashing!” What better way to push away doubt than to tell trusting members that brainwashing does not even exist? Actually, in previous posts, I probably have made the statement or at least the insinuation that those who remain a part of WOFF are being brainwashed. However, after rereading material found in Steven Hassan’s book, “Combatting Cult Mind Control” (Copyright©1988, 1990- by Steven Hassan, Park Street Press, ISBN-0-89281-311-3), I learned the difference between brainwashing and mind control. From Chapter 4 of this book titled: Understanding Mind Control, I will quote the author’s insights and compare them to my experiences during WOFF days.

   Mind Control Versus Brainwashing

   As we introduce the subject, allow me a few comments on the subject at hand. For some readers, the difference between brainwashing and mind control may be one strictly of semantics. Trust me; it is much more than that. Brainwashing has occurred in years past, and I have no doubt there are places in this country and around the world where individuals are being brainwashed. “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). This is just not the case at WOFF. The roles are not clearly marked. Faithful WOFF members do not see themselves as prisoners- until it is time to leave!  And over time, within certain strata of the group, the roles can change and one who once was lower in the pyramid structure can be elevated higher than those who once where over them. For regular WOFF members, Jane and those in leadership are not cast as “jailers” until it is time to leave!

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Is it the Love of God or Jane-Love?

    During my time inside Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), I witnessed many things. I heard Jane Whaley preach many “strange and wonderful things”- or so I thought.  During my last few months there and especially after I left I began to experience some of the things Jane had taught and encouraged her members to believe and act upon. One of those things was the shunning of friends and family. As the months have passed and I have written about WOFF practices, none has been so devastating to me and the many other folks who find themselves on the receiving end of such behaviors. I have been contacted by many fathers as well as brothers, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and other relatives who recount the same or very similar stories. They have been cut-off from contact either gradually over time or over one incident. It could have been as simple as the television or as drastic as wearing shorts or jeans. But, in every case at least that I am aware of the cut-off and shunning of a relative was in order for the WOFF member to show loyalty to and love for Jane Whaley and her rules. The WOFF-spin was that the person who left did not “love God” or was “attacking Jane” by leaving or how they acted or what they had said. For those who live in the surrounding community and see the well groomed WOFF-life being lived before them, let me give more details. For all that shines is not gold.

    The WOFF-dramas that tear apart families are not hashed out in the view of public – well, except those child custody cases seen in the courts. Those follow a script and for the most part end up in the parent that leaves getting very little actual visitation with children still in WOFF. A few WOFF-children have chosen the non-WOFF parent and have left. But, they did so facing the cost of losing WOFF friends, WOFF School, and regular contact with the WOFF-parent that stayed inside the supposed “Christian” church known as WOFF.

   The scenario I am more familiar with both from being inside and now being outside for three years, includes the family members who stay, refusing any contact with those who have left WOFF. This part of the WOFF-drama is hard to explain even to one who has seen it from both sides. Why? I believe that many that see the glitter and glamour of WOFF-life do not actually see the trauma and drama for those inside and those that make their way out.  So, for those in the community, appearances can be deceiving. The price to pay to stay and play is high for sure. I saw it in other lives before it came to be a part of mine. I saw other families being torn apart but, not one day before it began to happen to me, did I think I would be a victim of Jane-love

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Invitation for Contributions

   An email I received recently was from a former member of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). That in itself is not unusual. However, this time, the email contained a brief review of a book that I had purchased, but not read. That was exciting, as I replied to this person and asked them to expand on the ideas and allow their ideas to be posted here on this blog. This led me to realize that I have used guest posts previously, but, I could use more.

   So, here is the official invitation. All of those who have been former members of any religious cult are invited to submit material to be posted. This can be their story of before, during and after their involvement in their particular group or a book or resource review that is pertinent to the theme of this blog. There are so many books, websites and cultic groups that there is no way I can learn about and write about them all. Just this evening, I found a web resource out of Canada that deserves attention. After some further research, I will share the links. Included in this sight are some vital links to legal cases and reports from several countries about cults and their effects. There is so much activity in other countries that could have a bearing on what goes on in this country; I am not able to give each resource the attention it needs.  

   In a review found here – http://provendersearch.blogspot.com/2011/07/religious-cults-info.html -the author refers to this blog: This blog focuses on alleged spiritually abusive practices of Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina, but includes links to other spiritually abusive situations as well. Author John Huddle includes helpful tips, news sites and decent links to spiritual abuse resources — as well as personal observations and stories of abuse from the WOFF.  

   One purpose of this blog is to be a help to those who are in a religious cult group and/or who are coming out of one. In my opinion, we could better serve this purpose as others provide their insights and understandings from either their own personal experience or writing reviews of resources they have found helpful in their journey. We have had great comments left by survivors and that does help. Please, keep them coming. Another way to help would be to provide your survivor story and allow others to benefit and gain hope from leaving a religious cult group. This could be helpful for those who write them, as well as those who read the accounts.

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If WOFF is SO Safe, Then Why the Constant Drama?

   During my years at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), I never considered the group “unsafe”. Why? Well, at first glance, it appears to be a “Christian” church group that may take certain beliefs to an extreme application. For most of the beliefs, I went along and did not question. What about the constant drama scenes that occurred? How did that affect the morale or outlook of regular members? From my memory, during my time inside the group, I believed many of the explanations put forth to justify the drama of those inside the group and the major exit dramas of those who left or were put out. Many of the years while inside the group, I was not looking for a way out or alternative explanations for the nagging questions or very repetitive drama scenes.

   But, the drama scenes continued to occur and after a while even a very faithful WOFF member has to wonder – Why? So, what were some of the reasons put forth for the emotional upheavals and seemingly dramatic exits for what some considered as “faithful” WOFF members? Yes, I know we have discussed this here before on the blog, but, I have an additional point to make today.

Near the End of the Walk

   Continue reading If WOFF is SO Safe, Then Why the Constant Drama?

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Steve Hassan: Interviewing Robert Jay Lifton (video)

   Steve Hassan is a leading expert on cults and mind control. His work has been quoted many times on this blog. Mr. Hassan has reworked his website recently and it is much more presentable. Today, as I visited his website – www.freedomofmind.com , I found a very interesting interview which Hassan did with Robert Jay Lifton. The post is dated July 19, 2011 and we have embedded the video below. The beginning is a shot of all the books by Lifton that Hassan has on his bookshelf. Hassan invites others to watch with this statement, “I invite you to take the time to watch this strictly amateurish video done solely by me.” So, we have taken the liberty to embed the video.


Robert Jay Lifton interviewed by Steve Hassan July 13th 2011 from Steven A Hassan on Vimeo.

   Here is part of the introduction to the post as Hassan features the cover of the latest book about Lifton and his reflections: “I wanted to let people know that last Wednesday, I had a profound experience with renown psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, author of 20 books, including Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Destroying the World to Save it, The Nazi Doctors, Home from the War, and Death in Life to name just a few of the most important volumes. Dr. Lifton has a new book of his memoirs that has just come out, entitled, Witness to an Extreme Century, and I called Dr. Lifton to see if he would sit down with me and catch up, and at the same time allow me to interview him on video to put online. The book is available at www.amazon.com

   Continue reading Steve Hassan: Interviewing Robert Jay Lifton (video)

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