Help! My Family Member or Close Friend is Trapped in a High-Controlling Church or Cult. How Can I Encourage Them to Leave?

How to help a family member or friend leave a high-controlling church group or cult: spiritual abuse, trapped, thought reform, mind control, freedom


 

“Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles. Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. In some combinations, they create a powerful crucible of extreme mental and behavioral manipulation when synthesized with several other real-world factors, such as charismatic, authoritarian leaders, dominant ideologies, social isolation, physical debilitation, induced phobias, and extreme threats or promised rewards that are typically deceptively orchestrated, over an extended time period in settings where they are applied intensively.”
Steven Hassan, Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults

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I’ve heard it said that losing a child to death can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Now imagine having lost your adult child and their family, not to death, but to a high-controlling church or cult. Imagine not being able to celebrate birthdays or major holidays together. Imagine having only limited contact with your adult child and their family. How could your loved one entirely dismiss you, act like you are a stranger or enemy when you did nothing to them? Continue reading

A Spotlight on Abuse and Death of VCY America Founder Vic Eliason

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After The Gospel Coalition Staunchly Defended CJ Mahaney in Sovereign Grace Ministries Sex Abuse Scandal, They Now Promote the Movie Spotlight (Sex Abuse Coverup)

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Doug Wilson Series: Introduction, Christ Church Celebrates 40 years and Background

Doug Wilson, Christ Church, CREC, Greyfriars Hall, Association of Classical & Christian Schools, Canon Press, New Saint Andrews, Steven Sitler, Jamin Wight

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Pastor David McGee Publicly Names and Excommunicates Four Church Members via His Facebook Page

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Pastor David McGee of The Bridge Church publicly excommunicated or disfellowshipped four members via his Facebook page.

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On Thursday, Pastor David McGee of The Bridge Fellowship in Kernersville, North Carolina, posted a comment on his Facebook account publicly naming and “disfollowshipping” four church members. I repeat – this was done PUBLICLY on Facebook, not in the context of a church meeting among church members.
Check this out:
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David continued with his comment by quoting about 30 – thirty, not 3, verses justifying his actions. Some of the verses were quoted in different translations and guess which verse was included? Of course Hebrews 13:17 (“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.”), but take a look at the last verse quoted. Why do you supposed he ended with this verse?
Heb 13:7
Remember your leaders who first taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do.  NLT
You can read more about this story, including video here:  Couple says they were banned from Kernersville church by pastor on social media
I like to dig a little bit when I read words. Do you see the contradiction in the following two comments by Pastor McGee?  Take special note of the tithing references. The 2nd comment was posted 16 hours after the first comment.
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David McGee, The Bridge Church, excommunication, disfellowship

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There were other comments claiming this was not really about tithing, but if it wasn’t about tithing, then why is it mentioned at all?
Here you can see some pushback and then a member defends her pastor. I noticed the word “covenant” in this comment, but did not see a membership covenant at the church website.
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David Mcgee, The Bridge Church, Excommunication, Disfellowship

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When people publicly speak out against a pastor, they are frequently labeled as the enemy.The pastor is on the right side and anyone who questions him, is labeled as divisive, disobedient to God and His Word:
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I found another contradiction.  Here McGee says he won’t defend himself publicly:
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But wait . . .now he is going to the media to share:
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This little note is revealing. And 31 people liked it!  Yea, it’s really important that your pastor has lots and lots of friends . . because that makes him right and reputable and all Christiany.
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Of course we do not know all of the details of this case and can only make conclusions based on what we see publicly. But what I see publicly is troubling.
I have heard of stories where church members have been abusive to pastors. We often talk only about abusive leaders, but that is not always the case. Even if members are abusive, we need to ask how does a shepherd appropriately handle members who are divisive? If Pastor McGee is correct in saying that these folks have been divisive, how should a pastor respond?  Do you see godly fruit in the behavior?

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After Mark Driscoll’s Resignation, Can Mars Hill Be Saved?

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Pastor Mark Driscoll recently resigned from the church he founded, Mars Hill.  Can Mars Hill be saved?

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Loss of Perspective: The Cost of Enduring Abuse

Do individuals suffer harm when they remain in verbally or emotionally abusive relationships?  Cindy Kunsman illustrates the effects through an account of spiritual abuse.

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When Your Religious Leader Falls Off the Pedestal

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Cindy Kunsman responds to fallen spiritual leaders and spiritual abuse after the Doug Phillips scandal.

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Doug Phillips: “Disowns” Former Vision Forum Executive Assistant to President, Peter Bradrick, Calls Him “Destroyer” When Confronted about Sins

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Peter Bradrick, former intern, former Executive Assistant to the President at Vision Forum Shares Publicly That He is “Disowned” and Declared as “Destroyer” by Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Continue reading

Doug Phillips: His Power and Control Using “Godly” Patriarchy

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Doug Phillips was a powerful man.  He used “godly” power and control to silence, to man the ship of his business, ministry, church, home, women, employees, and everything around him.

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Doug Phillips: Question about Pastoral Position, Timeline of Events, and Understanding True Repentance

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Doug Phillips:  a timeline of events, understanding true repentance and question about Phillips’ teaching elder position at Boerne Christian Assembly

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When Sharing Concerns or Asking Pastors Questions Leads to Spiritual Abuse

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Questioning authority or raising concerns can be the litmus test to see if your pastor is spiritually abusive or not.

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Strange Fire Conference: John MacArthur, “Reformed Theology is not a Haven for False Teachers”

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I apologize in advance for the length of this post.  Please read the Facebook status slowly and let it sink in, would you?

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Harvest Bible Chapel Files Complaint Against Blogger Paul Dohse, Resulting in Loss of YouTube Privileges

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In a concerted attempt to control others, someone from Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) filed official complaint with YouTube against blogger Paul Dohse’s YouTube account, resulting in blogger’s loss of YouTube privileges. Continue reading

Harvest Bible Chapel: #Spiritual Abuse 101 Tweets from Elder’s Letter

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Last week I posted a letter from Dave Corning who was a long-time elder at Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC), under Pastor James MacDonald.  I mentioned that Corning’s letter would be my go-to letter for describing spiritual abuse because it described some of the most common tactics spiritual abusers use. Continue reading

Why Does Calvin’s God Feel Abusive to Me? I Didn’t Choose This!

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The Lord works righteousness and

justice for all who are oppressed.  

Psalm 103:6

I have never, ever connected so deeply with someone else’s spiritual experience as I have recently with reader, Oasis.  The tears . . . . oh, the tears.  This deep, gut-wrenching, sobbing pain is so real for some of us.  I cannot believe I am doing this, but I’m feeling that right now I need to try to clearly articulate my feelings about Father God and how He relates with the abuse some of us have incurred. Continue reading