Excuses Cult Leaders Use

Cult leaders, and manipulative pastors, have a way of making up excuses for their behavior. If Christians aren’t careful, they’ll find themselves (and we’ll find our friends) making up excuses for their behavior, too.

You’ve heard it before. Church members and Christians essentially start excusing abuse and torment that their pastor (or another “man of God”) has done to others by saying, “Well, they’re just God’s mouthpiece,” or “Whoever got offended just wasn’t devoted enough to God,” or even, “It was all part of God’s plan. They must not be close enough to God.”

Some I’ve heard about myself and my situation:

“Lisa was just overly sensitive.”

“Lisa was just an immature Christian.”

“No one else was hurt.”

“It must have just been your Master’s Commission. We didn’t go through that. We had a great Director.”

“God told me to do it. I was just following His orders.”

“We fired that person. They’re not here anymore. Things have changed.”

What they really mean is a) we don’t give a shit b) we’re going to try to intimidate everyone in our church to believe us and not you c) we’re doing everything in our power to discredit you so you shut up and go away.

They don’t give a damn.

Pastor Daniel’s son has told me this about his father time and time again. “He could care less about you. In fact, he looks down on people like you.”

The bottom line is, (most) everything you hear from a controlling pastor or a cult leader after someone leaves and decides to speak up is an excuse.

An excuse for their behavior–their abusive behavior.

I remember being in Master’s Commission, when a student’s parents would complain about something we did. Nathan  would shut them up and the other students by saying, “Things have changed. We don’t do that anymore.”

It was a lie. We never changed. We attempted to, but the truth is, Nathan ‘s ways were set in stone and wouldn’t budge. He taught all of us to disciple those under us with an iron fist, just as he did. Nothing was going to change. But, we had to live up to “expectations” and so we tried to tell people what they wanted to save our reputation.

Questions:

Have you ever heard any of these excuses? In what context?

Have you ever met a pastor who was humble enough to admit his wrongdoing? If so, how did he present it? Did he apologize to the person he wronged?

Breaking My Silence: My Story of Religious Abuse

For the past year and a half, I’ve written a blog about escaping what my therapist and I ha

    For the past year and a half, I’ve written a blog about escaping what my therapist and I have called a cult; the tedious and emotional recovery; and then the admittance of the diagnosis my therapist gave me: depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (all from my cult experience). Yesterday, Robin Morgan wrote a wonderful piece of satire on the Women’s Media Center blog called Exclusive: Faith-healing: A Modest Proposal on Religious Fundamentalism where she proceeded to examine fudmantalists against the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). What’s funny is that this piece of satire struck home with me, a recovering fundamentalist, who has been diagnosed with mental conditions based on my seven year long participation in a fundamentalist cult. Morgan’s joke was more serious to me than I wanted to admit. Upon further studying, though, I began speaking with college professors who were cult experts (some of whom were involved in very prominent cases and in communication with well-known, but now dead, cult leaders over the years) and talking to hundreds of people on the web asking them to share their personal stories. I’ve now started to consider this: perhaps my group and many others are so difficult to categorize (as cult, or new religious group) because they are so similar to the modern fundamentalist church. Maybe the modern-day cult is just your neighborhood fundamentalist church. And maybe that cult, or destructive group, or new religious group (pick a term, whatever term) with abusive teachings, public humilation, and totalitarian hierachical power structures has long been invading our politics, our schools and our doctors offices. Fundamentalist churches, often known as evangelical churches, are very common in America and globally. The only trouble? They look absolutely normal. They’re often not easy to spot from the outside, at least for people looking for an upbeat, contemporary place of worship with solid family values. Fundamentalist churches typically are very vague about their system of beliefs and sometimes they have very little accountability structure. They may be led by a preacher or pastor who has almost no one he has to report in to or be held responsible to for his words, teachings and his finances. Worse yet, sometimes this preacher or pastor has very little academic training and little understanding about historical and cultural norms in Biblical days (thus the homophobic rage that comes from those pulpits).  Read more here…