The alarming thing is how easily devout, intelligent people can get caught up in a cult without even knowing it.
The folks over at SOSDallas.org have posted a helpful checklist suggesting 5 things to look out for in any group leader(s). This is not an exhaustive list and it's far from perfect, but it serves as a springboard for discernment:
- [The leader(s) demonstrate an] authoritarian approach and intolerance of questioning or criticism. Lies about and insults opponents.
- Leader(s) shows anxiety about the world, speaking of threats or conspiracies against the group or its leaders.
- Leader(s) regularly accuse(s) dissatisfied members who leave of having something wrong with them, having personality disorders or being transgressor and deserters.
- Ex-members have similar stories of abuse and ill-treatment by the leader(s).
- The group/leader(s) is always right and followers never feel they can be "good enough".
Next we'll examine the appeal of cults - why do people join them?