3386Re: Survey Questions & Objections
- May 5, 2008
>Re: Fw: Survey for former membersI posted this because I'm very familiar with both Carol Giambalvo (http://www.refocus.org) and Dr. Michael Langone (www.http://icsahome.com/} and their work. And I see I've got to update the link for the "cultic studies" group again! When I first found them, they were the "American Family Federation" - they sent me a nice packet of good information. You might want to check them out. I learned a lot about cults in general and what ekult did to me from them. Knowledge is power, after all.
>Posted by: "ctecvie" ctecvie@... ctecvie
>Mon May 5, 2008 3:45 am (PDT)
>I am very wary of this and wonder why you saw the need to post it on
>your site? In my view, they just want to recruit members - and I really
>do not need this.
I was a bit surprised about this survey at first glance, too, because both reFocus and ICSA are totally non-religious, but after reading Langone's letter a bit more carefully, it's understandable.
There are far more people in "Christian" cults than new-age cults. Many of these people consider the Bible to be the only true & reliable authority for anything & everything. Christian cults pick & choose scripture that suits their agendas, and twist and misinterpret things. The only way many of these people are going to wake up & leave Christian cults are if mainstream religions who are more familiar with the Bible are able to use the Bible to show these people how they're being misled.
An example from my own life - a few years back I'd contacted the Mormons just for "research" into cult recruiting techniques. They showed up at my door with no warning - something they generally don't do - and it was bad timing. So I ended up just being honest with them, those Mormon missionaries are just so sincere & want to "save" everyone, so I just said look, I'm not really interested, I'm just researching cults and recruiting techniques. It was quite interesting the way this didn't discourage them or get them off track, since naturally they didn't think "cult" applied to them. They sort of brightened up, and told me how they'd recently started a study with a Jehovah's Witness, and she was very grateful to the Mormons for helping her to see the JWs are a cult. <gg>
I think mainstream religions need to be more educated about cults, and take a more active role in helping people to avoid them. In fact, back when I left ekult, I happened to be working as a Lutheran parish secretary - gotta laugh, one of several reasons for taking that job was the usual ekult "vahana" nonsense! When I left ekult, I told the Lutheran pastor a bit about it, and he asked me to speak to a group of Lutheran pastors about it. A few of them were a bit familiar with cults, but most weren't.
I'm glad to see that ICSA is doing this. They're already providing a lot of help for former cult members in general, and they've been doing it for a long time. It's good that they're going to focus a bit more on educating mainstream religions.
By the way, while I'm here, back to my very enjoyable months as a Lutheran parish secretary, that was something that helped me to start waking up. First of all, just the interview & hiring process impressed me! We've probably all seen those "job opening" announcements from MN, I'm sure. First of all, you have to be a loyal hardcore eckie to work there. And I bet you have to sign a confidentiality agreement, too!!
Although the pastor didn't ask during the interview, I told him I was not a Christian. He asked what I was, I told him I belonged to Eckankar. He asked what I believed in - and as I tried to quickly think of a good answer, I realized oh horrors, what I believe in sounds really ridiculous!! Seriously!! So, I said it's a sort of new-age meditation thing, soul travel, and "ascended masters" stuff. He said fine, as long as I kept the parish newsletter "Christian".
During approximately a year there, neither the pastors (a married couple) nor any of the parishioners I chatted with & mentioned I wasn't Christian, showed any signs of wanting to "save" me or anything, even though at times the conversations were about religious/spiritual stuff. The whole thing was very enlightening, an eye-opening experience that really broke thru ekult's programming about other religions, especially Christianity.
A few things really impressed me - one, how there was complete financial disclosure from the top down - I'm talking about info from the diocese & above here. Oh - also, after leaving ekult I re-visited Catholicism, too. Okay, so we know that Rome's socked away megabucks over the years, but on the local & diocesan level there were no financial secrets. The priest had to give a yearly mention of the diocesan fund drive but he was obviously uncomfortable about it, and made a big deal about telling people to NOT contribute unless they really could afford it. Even more impressive, the diocese returned all contributions to the parish. Financial reports were published regularly & distributed to everyone in both churches.
Hey, let's face it, those big old churches cost a fortune to heat and air-condition! Not to mention, those fancy outfits priests & ministers wear.
Another thing was, at one Lutheran board meeting - there were four churches in the parish - an item on the agenda was "recruiting". This was shortly after ELCA had told people they were going to be advertising on TV, please don't be offended or shocked, but since the Mormons were doing it, they thought it would be a good way to just let people know about ELCA - that's Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America. I forget which synod they are. Anyway, this wasn't a regular item, but the diocese had brought it up, so it was discussed at the board meeting, which was very casual and lighthearted. A few people said well, we can do picnics or "rock" services - I'd say there was maybe ten minutes of discussion on this subject - but everyone basically agreed that what they were doing was just fine and evidently filled people's needs, people would come and go, the budget was tricky but somehow the heating bills got paid, and the conclusion was that those who
needed what the parish offered somehow found it, so they weren't going to do anything new or different.
I thought it was rather interesting that while no one mentioned God or Spirit, what they were basically saying was that Spirit took care of them, the heating bills, and getting new members.
The only complaint I ever heard while working there was that Communion wasn't offered every week. That really impressed me - obviously, parishioners took their religion seriously and found fulfillment in it, and wanted to experience the sacrament of communion more often for their own personal spiritual reasons. The pastor said he'd see if there was anything he could do about that.
Now, in recent years I've also visited a non-demoninational Church of Christ that has a big problem with members dying off, & no new members. I sort of wasn't surprised, the service had too much singing & loud organ music, not easy to listen for God's voice. And the sermons included some sort of nasty "orders" that the members needed to get out there and recruit, altho it wasn't exactly worded that way. So, the woman next to me handed me a little card, with a smile. Had to laugh, it's sort of like MN telling eckists to always carry around intro brochures. Anyway, I think this particular congregation is maybe typical of those "pushy" types few of us find appealing, very judgmental & disapproving of non-evangelicals, and think we're all gonna burn in hell, etc. Personally, I'm sort of happy this particular church's members aren't big on recruiting, too darned many of that kind already out there, stopping you on the street and asking if you know
Jesus, etc. You know, the kind that make you want to just smile politely and say, "No thanks, I worship Satan."
Okay, excuse the long ramble! Have a great day, everyone - especially if you're somewhere where Spring is in full bloom, after a long cold winter!
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