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I decided to publish another checklist that might be helpful to find out whether you or anyone else you know has touched on any kind of group (Christian, religious, political, esoteric etc.) that eventually turns out to be dangerous for spirit, body, and soul. Michael Clark and I translated this Seventeen Point Checklist from a checklist I would find years ago on a German website. Michael recently published a great blog article in which he described his own painful experiences in cults. The picture he attached to that post was very inspiring for me, so I also chose a photo from George Orwell’s “1984”. I recall how much I hated to read this book in high school about 36 years ago, such a dark scenery! :-/ Back to the check list: If you follow the link below, you can also see the pictures (cartoons) that go along with the German text which I changed slightly due to a, which I believe, inappropriate wording in one case. I wanted to follow the Spirit’s leading here as you might have already expected when you are familiar with my writings.


 Seventeen Point Checklist for Unknown Groups

1) In this group you will find exactly what you have been looking for in vain. They know to a hair’s breadth what you have been missing.

2) Even the first contact discloses a completely new view of things to you.

3) The worldview of the group is amazingly simple and explains every problem.

4) It’s hard to get a clear picture of the group. You should not ponder nor examine. Your new friends say: “You cannot explain it, you have to experience that, therefore, come right to our center.”

5) The group has a master, a medium, a leader or a guru who alone is in possession of the whole truth.

6) The doctrine of the group is the only true, eternally true knowledge. Established science, rational thinking, and the mind are rejected as overly intellectual, as negative, satanic or unenlightened.   

7) Criticism by outsiders is considered proof that the group is right.

8) The world is heading for disaster and only the group knows how to save the world.

9) The group is the elite; the rest of humanity is sick and lost if it does not participate and thus could be saved.

10) You should become a member immediately.

11) The group distinguishes itself from the rest of the world, for example, through clothing, nutritional rules, its own language, strict regulation of interpersonal relationships.

12) The group wants you to break off all “old” relationships because they hinder your development.

13) Your sexual behavior is prescribed to you exactly, such as mate choice through the leadership, total abstinence or the opposite.

14) The group fills your entire time with tasks: selling books or newspapers, soliciting new members, attending courses, meditating…

15) It’s hard to be alone because someone from the group is always there.

16) If you start to doubt in case the promised success does not materialize, you are “guilty” because you supposedly have not championed the cause enough or because you have not believed enough.

17) The group demands strict adherence to their rules and discipline – as the only way to salvation.

 With already only one “yes” – Attention!!!

Furthermore, I found a website on the internet on which you could detect, among other helpful information, countless cults by names. Below you can read some extra advice for outsiders (here parents) who are suspicious that their children in college (or anyone else YOU know) might have joined a cult. Beneath these five signs to look for this website offers additional five signs for these students (or anyone else) who might sense that they themselves are being drawn into such a dangerous cult. My apologies for the redundancy of a few features here!

Recognizing cult involvement

Signs for parents to look for:

  • Abrupt personality change [e.g. from introverted to extroverted, open to suspicious, loss of sense of humor or former interests such as sports, hobbies etc.]
  • Cutting of ties with family and friends [increasingly all time spent with group members]
  • Total involvement with the group, excluding all else [increasingly submerged within the group and its environment]
  • Quick involvement in proselytizing and fund-raising [this is often seemingly obsessive and all-consuming of time and effort]
  • Speech that begins to reflect the group’s rigid dogma [the same words and phrases used repeatedly that match those of other group members–highly definitive thought-terminating jargon]

Signs for students to watch for:

  • Authoritarian male[/female] figure [that is the focus of the group]
  • High-pressure pitch–[they won’t leave you alone–no respect for your personal boundaries]
  • Vows of a group’s support and love for you before they know you [but conditional upon your acceptance of the group and its doctrine]
  • Demands that you sever ties to family, friends and religion [anyone or anything that seemingly opposes the group, its control and agenda]
  • Invitations to leave campus for a religious retreat [where there is isolation, control of the environment and information and no meaningful outside frame of reference]