On A Psychological standpoint how do churches get and retain parishioners?
I am wondering if anyone could clear this up. I am talking about people who joined Jim Jones and Waco Texas cults and other such groups. What is their hold? Is it mass hypnotism or what? Any ideas?
I noticed you mentioned 2 cult leaders. Having been in a cult myself, though not to the degree of the ones you mentioned, I can explain a few things, though I’m still trying to understand why I did what I did.
People who join religious cults do so because they’re convinced their religion is Absolute Truth. All a hoodwinking guru has to do is convince them they have the Real Scoop on their Holy Scriptures, and provide a few convincing examples. I knew someone who personally met David Koresh; he was one of those super rigid thinkers who kept criticizing the SDA church, saying they were apostate. Once he got a bunch of followers into his “utopian” compound, they were too brainwashed to realize the perversions he was into. When the authorities broke into the compound, they saw it as Worldly Persecution. Cult members are typically told they have privileged information, and that the rest of the world is going to hell. They are also taught to expect persecution from the world, which is why it’s not a good idea to confront a cult member bluntly, since that will automatically put them on the defensive, and they may even drop you.
As for Jim Jones, he recruited members by love-bombing the down-and-out, which is another common tactic for recruiting cult members. He lured them into his version of utopia, which was Jonestown, on a whole other continent. Once they were isolated helpless, and unable to escape, he could do whatever he wanted. He reinforced that through sleep deprivation, random torture, and other means.
I’m still studying this, but I believe the best way to avoid getting hoodwinked into a religious cult is to maintain an open mind and study other cultures. It is also good to understand psychology and how life works, so you’re less intimidated by people who claim to have access to a Higher Deity.
I love the term "love-bombing the down-and-out". Essentially the vast majority of people who are happy and successful aren't likely to join a cult. It's for those who feel "left out", "abused", "defeated" or "ignored" that are attracted to cults.
A couple of years ago there was a special that had a few cults on it. dont remember but they had 4 listed. They went into the homes of these members and got interviews. 1 person got killed and another got away cuz they talked. Not any of th 2 mentnd
Only when cults reach the extremes like the 2 you mentioned above do they kill anyone trying to leave. Usually, only hate groups and Satanism does that right off the bat.
Here is my hub on this: http://hub.me/aiUYE
Debra, I think this is your lucky day. You will not find a better answer than that which was given by "Say Yes To Life". This is from someone who has lived in a cult and also has a good head on their shoulders.
I would like to add one thing to the list and that is little or no education.
If a person does not learn to think for themselves, then someone else will do their thinking for them.
Great question and a super answer by Say Yes To Life.
Thanks, DJ Anderson. Yes, keeping people in the dark is a common tactic for gaining and holding cult members. Another one is punishing them for asking too many questions, especially the "wrong" kind.
SYTL, The Catholic doctrine had that written like that. Keep them in the dark at all costs. That was what got me to leave any church when I read that.
LG - I've heard Catholics weren't allowed to read the Bible, originally. I asked a Catholic several years back what would happen if she read it, and she said "nothing". Some churches are against change, but it is important to progress with the times.
SYTL Yes indeed. I was a initiated RC. I asked my husband about where something was in the Bible and he really had no idea. BTW I have enough ideas to restart my hub about this. Going to the library tonight for more information. TY TY TY
Debra, why would you go to the library? You can get a mountain of material through search engines on your computer, free of charge. Google, Bing and
Ask.com come to mind.
The library is free of charge too. I find it difficult to go back and forth from pages and easier if I have it right in front of me.
I believe the first requirement is for one to be unhappy with their life in general. They may be looking for a way to "escape" perceived persecution from family, lovers/spouse, along with their enemies. Maybe they've had an extremely tough time during a tough economy.
The idea of simply "checking out" of the mainstream (rat race) might seem very appealing who is tired and fed up with the way their life is going. Having a "leader" who offers you food, water, and shelter in exchange for working the land and following their rules seems fair enough. Like minded people are attracted to like minded people and those they admire for living/believing and "evolving" to heights he or she aspires to.
A leader who is good looking, intelligent, charming and he pays attention to those who society ignores; becomes "godlike" in the eyes of the recruit who is looking for someone to guide or lead them.
The bottom line is "belonging to something" is more appealing than feeling "alone" for a lot of folks. The cult/church becomes a surrogate family which is willing to love and accept them without judgment.
You are getting some really great answers!
Glad that I don't have to pick a best answer.
Could be possible that both or more answers
or a whole slew of answers are all correct.
Right now I am just reading and seeing what kind of answers come up. I hope that I get lots because psychology is a subject I like. I love the information I am getting too.
Thanks, dashingscorpio. Your answer is also right-on. People typically join cults when their lives are at a crossroads and the old rules no longer apply, which is why most do it in their late teens / early 20s, when they are newly independent.
When you go to a church in the city, look around at the others. There are the lonely, the insecure, the old, the mothers and the very young. It's different in rural surroundings, where the non-goers might be ostracised in a village or small town community, cold-shouldered. It's why young folk move to town, to make their own choices without being brow-beaten into doing what their elders do.
In some largely rural economies, countries in the Mediterranean, the local priest has a much easier task than his city colleague. Self-doubt doesn't enter the equation, he's got what he needs - bums on seats, a full congregation and the silver tray gets passed around that much faster. In town in might vanish on the way round.
Peer pressure helps.
Sounds like you answered how to get people into a normal church, rather than a cult. I think that's what LG wanted to know in the first place. Interesting points! Some have many young adults; they are Singles Ministries, but divorce is high there.
All of the answers were good. DJ was right on with this one.
I needed the spark of memory from my past educational classes that SYTL brought up.
dashingscorpio brought the same up again and I did quote from both of them in my hub about "How Religion Uses Psychology to Control and Keep Their Flock"
alancaster149 you are right for the cities, but I do live in a rural part of the country and there are many churches here. I was looking for the brainwashing part of it all.
Thank you everyone for participating in this question.
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