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Today I want to offer you a short excerpt, or more specifically, a list written by Jayanti Tamm who was born into a cult from which she could escape only 25 years later. Although her former guru, Sri Chinmoy, was not a Christian cult leader, I believe the chief features of cults she would work out in this list below are generally applicable to all sorts of unhealthy and anti-Christian groups, too. 

Is it a Cult? The Top Ten Signs the ‘Group’ You’ve Joined is Not what It Seems

  1. The leader and group are always correct and anything the leader does can be justified.
  2. Questions, suggestions, or critical inquiry are forbidden.
  3. Members incessantly scramble with cramped schedules and activities full of largely meaningless work based on the leader’s agenda
  4. Followers are meant to believe that they are never good enough.
  5. Required dependency upon the leader and group for even the most basic problem-solving.
  6. Reporting on members for disobedient actions or thoughts is mandated and rewarded.
  7. Monetary, sexual, or servile labor is expected to gain promotion.
  8. The ‘outside’ world — often including family and friends — is presented as rife with impending catastrophe, evil, and temptations.
  9. Recruitment of new members is designed to be purposefully upbeat and vague about the actual operations of the leader and group.
  10. Former members are shunned and perceived as hostile.

Jayanti Tamm is the author of Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult (Three Rivers Press). She is a Visiting Professor in the MFA Program at Queens College, CUNY.

If you like to delve into the whole article, you can continue reading it here.

Image by Paul Schuberth 2014