Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

In 1978, Jim Jones’ group of over 900 people, The People’s Temple, committed group suicide by drinking a grape drink laced with cyanide and a number of sedatives, including liquid Valium, Penegram and chloral hydrate.

What does Jim Jones have to do with My Cult Life? Eerily enough,

“Jones kept his commission so busy they were often in a state of exhaustion.

Jones exercised the powers of suggestion, persuasion and manipulation to create a kind of alternative social universe amongst his followers. By 1975 the Chaikins and others were conditioned to accept without question public punishment and humiliation at group meetings…Jones’ dismissed the nuclear family as “noxious” and did everything possible to undermine traditional family ties. There could be only one “Dad” for everyone. (Quoted from Rick Ross’ site: http://www.rickross.com/reference/jonestown/jonestown61.html)

“What Jones did was try to break all ties that were not to him,” said former believer Vernon Gosney. “Transfer all that loyalty, all that bonding to him. And so families were broken apart. Relationships were divided…Jones deftly justified his actions to his followers by saying that what he did to them was actually for their own benefit, or the benefit of making the church a stronger, tighter-knit organization.” http://www.rickross.com/reference/jonestown/jonestown63.html

Everything above is similar to my experience in Master’s Commission and working at Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, LA.

I’ve spent time lining out these specific moments and traits of my leaders, but more than anything, we were kept in a constant state of exhaustion, and all ties with the outside world and family were cut off or highly discouraged. We were to accept things without question or risk the shame of humiliation in front of everyone, or the embarrassment that went along with getting kicked out of the group and no one speaking to us for fear that they’d get kicked out too.

8 thoughts on “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid”

    1. Brous,
      I’m not operating under hurt and offense as you suggest; however, it is important to share my story with others so they can be aware of the destructive teachings that are out there. Particularly those who are young and vulnerable, as I was.

      Thanks for reading and I appreciate your comments.
      Lisa

  1. While I’m no fan of Master’s Commission myself, and definitely don’t disagree with your efforts here to educate people about the dangerous aspects of the program, I have to say I find it pretty ridiculous/melodramatic, and even offensive, that you have compared Masters and the Masters staff/leadership to Jim Jones and the People’s Temple tragedy. I’m sorry but there really is no comparison. As painful and wrong as all spiritual abuse is, there is a difference in caliber here, not to mention the 900+ deaths that resulted from the People’s Temple tragedy which really cannot be compared in any way to any practice of MC. Ever.

    I like many of your blog posts, but this just seems like horribly bad form.

    1. “Former MC”
      What is bad form about this?

      Perhaps your experience in MC was different from mine. A cult (or destructive group) is a cult is a cult. Some might lead people to suicide as a group physically and others may not. There were near suicides from people I know personally, and there are so many similarities in leadership/teaching that these things must be discussed.

      Thanks for your input into the dialogue.
      Lisa

  2. “What is bad form about this?” The same as what would be bad form in comparing a punch to the nose with homicide. They are both acts of violence (“a cult is a cult”) but they are not of the same caliber.

    There is a big difference, though they are BOTH wrong, between setting up the conditions for the mass-suicide/homicide of over 900 people and then ordering them to participate in the massacre, and pressuring interns into accepting long hours, low pay, and inappropriate intervention in their social and spiritual lives. Sure, they both may be cults, but just like stealing a pack of gum and stealing a car are both crimes of a different caliber, so too are these situations and conditions of a different caliber. In light of this, I do very strongly feel that your post is bad form. Whether you disagree with me or not, if you cannot at least see where I’m coming from, then I really question your rationality in this matter. I know you were hurt, many of us have been, but it won’t help anyone for any of us to think of our own suffering in unrealistic terms.

    Also, I find it interesting that you seem to have a big problem with people saying things that you feel “delegitimize” your experience in MC (and rightly so – who can argue with another’s personal experience?) but are so quick to say, “perhaps your experience in MC was different from mine”and thereby imply that my opinion of your post (of your post, by the way, not of MC which I have already clarified I do not agree with) is unmerited.

    And I wish you would uncensor the comments. I know it’s your private blog and as such you can do exactly as you wish with it, but I think it would add to your credibility if it were more obvious that you were willing to engage debate more openly. It’s difficult to become invested in this site and your mission if when every time I leave a comment I have to spend the next two days worrying you have deleted it because you disagreed too strongly with it. Surely there is a balance that would allow you to moderate comments without the risk of censorship. Again, obviously it’s your blog and your decision, just my two cents.

    1. “Former MC”
      Your comments haven’t been censored. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I censor spam and one other comment, from someone who’s already been spoken to about his hateful comment. Other than that, what you see is what’s been said so far. 🙂

      As to everything else you said, honestly, thanks for the comment, but I don’t know what else to tell you. If you can read, then take some time to read my blog. I’ve already stated my “defense” for this on there. I’ve already written about my experiences, the leaderships characteristics and the like. I really don’t want to repeat myself for some comment from someone who’s an asshole enough to make up a fake email and fake name and disguise themselves. I’ve got balls enough to write a blog in my name. Own up to your shit. Or don’t expect me to come to argue with you over comments that make no sense in light of everything I’ve already written. Stop being lazy–read it.

  3. Actually, it’s a real email address. As for posting my real name, the handle I have used here conveys as much information as is necessary for placing my comments in the appropriate context. Additionally, I’m pretty sure that if I can write comments, it’s reasonable to assume I can also read. As I said in a former comment, I enjoy many of your posts – which yes, I have read – I just happen to disagree with this one. Is it necessary or appropriate to attack me (pretty vitriolically) over this single instance of disagreement? It’s bizarre to me that you are being so defensive (and offensive?), especially after I have been (I believe…) civil, though expressing disagreement with the nature of this post.

    You have put your thoughts out in the public domain for all intents and purposes. Surely having done so you have reconciled yourself to the idea that not everyone will agree with you 100% of the time. I am familiar with your story from your posts on this blog, and familiar with MC from my own personal experience, and my point remains the same: Even if both are cults, it is melodramatic and irrational to refuse to see the differences in nature and caliber between cults like the People’s Temple and organizations (though they may be abusive and cult-ish) like MC. Once again, just because one group is worse than another, doesn’t mean that the other is in the right. They can both be wrong. But just as our criminal justice system differentiates between misdemeanors and felonies, differences of degree should be taken into account, and as such it is my opinion (again, opinion) that your blog post does not take that difference into account, to its detriment. That is the whole of my point.

    As for censorship of comments, I have it from another source that they have left comments that you have refused to post, though they were not hateful or offensive, just dissenting. Maybe that person lied to me, but they’re a generally trustworthy friend, so I see no reason to assume so.

    1. So to be clear, you’d like me to change my thinking and writing on MC? And you’d like me to not censor my blog comments?

      To respond again: No blog comments have been censored with the exception of spam and one comment from one person. You originally implied that I censored YOU. I have not censored you. If your friend feels he or she has been censored, maybe I have posted the comment that they originally posted. I can approve them or unapprove them. That’s my job as the moderator. However, I do allow people to disagree–even on my facebook fan page.

      In fact, it’s irritating for you to bring accusations of such. There has been nothing but opposition to this blog since I started it. Most opposition is privately sent to me via phone calls, texts, emails, hate comments on my personal facebook. So really, before you start getting so demanding, take into consideration that there is more to it than you know.

      My belief that MC is a cult is based on education, experience and a lot of research. I understand that you may feel I’m operating in “bad form” because I haven’t displayed ALL evidence of such on my blog to date. If that’s how you feel, then you just need to be patient. I started this blog in July 2010, and I work full-time. I am working diligently to compile the research and experiential evidence to back up such a claim. You will even be able to purchase a book on it one day, and maybe even see me on TV talk about it, or hear from the ACLU about this case and accusation. A lot is in the works that you may not be aware of, because it’s not important to publicize that here in a setting where people are out to get me now that I’ve put myself out here. I have to protect myself in this public domain. And I will. I will not sit here and try to argue with someone who clearly disagrees with me. You do. You stated it clearly. I thanked you. I’m not really sure what else you want from me.

      I suggest you start with a modern and historical study of the traits of the leaders of cults, as well as the characteristics of the groups themselves. They are a mirror image of each other. Jim Jones and my former MC director had more in common than you are admitting to. That was my point. If you don’t agree, then you’re in denial and perhaps still in MC, running and MC or you “drank the Kool-Aid” and thus committed spiritual suicide along with many hundreds of others. You can recover. There is help for that. I suggest a therapist who is secular and has experience with cults. I know you may feel attacked by these comments, but don’t. I’m very blunt and I’m telling you as I see it, just as you’ve shared with me how you see it.

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