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