Of all the classifications of cults that academics have compiled, by far the most dangerous and concerning is referred to as simply a “destructive cult.” This is the category into which Antichrist fits, based on the actions Revelation prophecies say he will take in the End Times. There are also three main recognizable characteristics of what history has shown to be a typical cult: 1) a leader, 2) indoctrination, and 3) exploitation.[i] We’ve already shown how Western society, in general, is being trained to accept all sorts of evils, and this in turn results in the manipulation of society’s people. As such, the latter of these subjects (indoctrination and exploitation) have been covered to a great extent in the context of Western society. However, we want to address these elements again, specifically as they relate to the Church. Between the secular and religious world, we’re building a One-World Cult. At the time of this writing, however, the Man of Sin who will run this cult hasn’t yet assumed the throne. This renders us a “leaderless cult,” and we will, for a moment, turn our attention to the first characteristic of a cult: who our leader will be.
In the majority of cults, a leader doesn’t rise overnight. He waits until he has identified a group of people who share vulnerabilities and lack direction. He tests them with small instructions or teachings over time to see who is prone to listening to the loudest voice in the room. In this way, almost every cult is “leaderless” until its official formation.
As noted earlier, Antichrist will be the son of Satan, “one with” his father in every way Jesus was “one with” His Father. As such, he will operate in satanic power to its fullest extent. The brainwashing we relate to the cult leaders of recent history is, in every sense of the term, child’s play compared to the kind of conditioning Antichrist will have in his arsenal to confuse his followers. He will exercise sovereign undue influence (or “mind control,” which is quickly becoming an outdated term in the field of “cult” study) over a vulnerable and directionless people he’s had the benefit of watching develop since Adam and Eve.
He’s not in a hurry. He doesn’t have a pressing music-career dream (like Charles Manson did) that drives him to manipulate as many people as possible around him so that he can achieve his goals before his thirtieth birthday.
He doesn’t need to be obvious or desperate. He doesn’t need to spend his woman and child sex-abuse coupon on a following the size of David Berg’s “Children of God” group when his global sex-trafficking agents are at work. Nor does he feel the pressure to convince anyone that a comet will open heaven’s gate like Marshall Applewhite when, to his grim satisfaction, worldwide suicide statistics show that every forty seconds another person takes his or her own life.[ii] (And, based on the increasing trend of assisted suicide discussed earlier, we can expect this alarming number to escalate exponentially in the coming years.)
And he won’t get caught by authorities like David Koresh did during the FBI siege at Waco—because he will be the authority.
A typical, regular-human cult leader will spend months, years, or even decades testing which manipulation tactics work and upon whom, but their experience and power over other humans will always be limited in ways that Antichrist will soar past in the first five seconds of his rule.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW VIDEOS
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Undue influence and mind control in the context of fanatical religious faiths and movements could be defined as “any system of influence that disrupts an individual’s authentic identity and replaces it with a false, new one,” further described as “practices [that] violate personal boundaries and human integrity, as well as ethics and, often, the law.”[iii] At times, this is apparent in extreme ways from almost the beginning. Part of what Keith Raniere and “Smallville” actress Allison Mack were up to in the NXIVM cult involved the literal branding of women like cattle. And other obvious, but less graphic, identity-replacement ploys are as old as dirt, such as the practice of giving disciples new names.
Sometimes, however, the undue influence is a slower burn, one that’s not recognizable in the beginning, but that leads to an ensuing brainwashing effect.
The key consideration here: When it comes to labeling a new religion as a “cult,” it’s not always about a body count, and certainly not at first. Obviously, if the group or its leader successfully implements undue influence in the interest of murder, suicide, torture, rape, or other acts of physical violence, it would be demonstrably destructive. But even before such an act has occurred, if the undue influence is such that it makes the group liable to carry out violence eventually, it still falls into the classification of a destructive cult. Though some scholarly personalities differentiate physical harm from psychological, many others, like psychologist Michael Langone of International Cultic Studies Association, would openly define a destructive cult as “a highly manipulative group which exploits and sometimes physically and/or psychologically damages members and recruits.”[iv]
So, you see, well before Antichrist’s Superchurch begins to kill, it will use a counterfeit love to groom and condition its adherents into embracing the unthinkable down the road. Before the first head rolls (whether the beheading is literal or symbolic of some other form of execution), members of Antichrist’s Superchurch cult will believe they’re “doing the Lord’s work” and contributing to a healthier society.
So, it doesn’t make the Western Church “less of a cult,” because we are currently leaderless. It makes us more of a cult than if Antichrist had shown up too desperate or too hurried, if he appeared at the wrong time, during an era when Christians read their Bibles enough to recognize him as the supreme con artist he is and will be. We, the “Bride of Spot and Wrinkle” (cf. Ephesians 5:27), are now developing the One-World Cult, waiting for our leader to rescue us just like Manson rescued his girls.
With this in mind, let’s glance over the known process and endgame of cultic indoctrination and exploitation.
Indoctrination and Exploitation of the Wrinkled Bride
This form of intense group manipulation has been referred to with a few mainstream terms such as “thought reform,” “mind control,” “brainwashing,” etc. But, in the context of a cult, experts of psychology and psychiatry essentially point to the eventual process of “forced indoctrination.” Consider the following in light of what we know Antichrist to be.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, “indoctrination” can be defined as follows: “1: to instruct esp. [especially] in fundamentals or rudiments…; 2: to imbue with a usu. [usually] partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.”[v] But “indoctrination,” when further defined by the well-recognized term “brainwashing,” produces a slightly more direct (and justifiably more aggressive) description: “1: a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas; 2: persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship.”[vi] In other words, a central characteristic of a cult involves the gradual process of reshaping followers’ religious beliefs and worldviews to match that of the group, which is truly only an extension of the cult leader’s hidden agenda.
Cult leaders’ approaches to this goal vary, but one immensely popular method is to: 1) establish the Holy Bible or a culture’s “Sacred Texts” as the final word on every situation; 2) twist writings from that source to fit the programming and agenda of the cult leader, with the ultimate objective of gaining further control/power; 3) introduce some level of shame upon any follower who doesn’t accept the interpretation, insinuating that, in rejecting the leader’s interpretation, the follower is rejecting the Bible itself and therefore is forsaking God. More simply put: A cult leader twists Scripture whenever it suits him to further his sway, and whenever challenged, he then uses the Bible as a dictatorial weapon with which to discipline and publicly shame any potential doubters.
As far as cultic exploitation goes, there are likely as many examples as there are stars in the sky, but the most notorious cult leaders of history have carried out tactics similar to the following pattern:
First, the leader warmly invites outsiders into the fold, introducing them to what appears from the outside looking in to be a strong community. For obvious reasons, the more vulnerable and lonely new members appear to be, the more enthusiastically the leader will present his group as the family they never had, with answers to whatever ails them in life. This group, this family (made up of members who are as yet unaware that they’re in a cult), wants nothing more than for new followers to shed their griefs and sorrows in the embrace of their newly acquired brothers and sisters.
Second, once they’ve joined the group, members will be given new identities and/or names and made to believe they have “cast off” their painful past and are now reborn. Separation from “the old life” is emphasized, and the leader’s control deepens as the rest of the “family” encourages widening the gap between the new members’ present and past identities. Although it is presented in glorious, poetic, revolutionary verbiage so the shedding of the past life is seen as a positive and liberating event, the leader knows he has just gained more people as his emotional and mental property.
Third, through the passing of time, the leader increasingly positions himself to be the answer to members’ problems, drawing them farther into his psychological game.
Without a doubt, Antichrist and his False Prophet will establish the One-World Order and the Apostate Superchurch under the guise of family, and it will appear to be the healing people from every walk of life need (except for those devoted to truly following Christ). Antichrist will solve so many problems politically and socially that he’ll appear to be the godlike answer to all problems. The psychological harvest for Antichrist will be a no-brainer (no pun intended).
Often, when news about a destructive cult involving mass casualties is covered, the public responds with such questions as: “How could anyone be so naïve as to fall for that guy’s tricks?” “Why didn’t those people just leave?” or “Those beliefs were simply crazy! How were they so tragically misled? Did they really believe they were doing the right thing?”
Sometime later, the books, documentaries, scholarly journal articles, etc., all come forward with the explanation: It was a gradual indoctrination by a brilliant mastermind who found ways of exploiting his victims’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities, promising to have all the answers of love (or success, etc.) in the precise areas his victims needed it. In so doing, he proved calculating enough to deceive regular people, just like us.
Now, considering how commanding Antichrist will be—both as a saint in the beginning as well as a devil later on—with all of his abuses of Scripture, knowing the Word well enough to twist it to confuse even the greatest of scholars, and having established himself as world leader, can you even imagine the scope at which he will utilize methods of cultic indoctrination and exploitation? He will mislead the “Bride of Spot and Wrinkle,” that Superchurch, into the One-World Cult who, while hand in hand with other world religions, will call herself “Christian,” never believing (or caring) she’s in fact the Harlot who simultaneously rides the Beast. If our world’s most influential Antichrist to date, Adolf Hitler, could accomplish the murder of seventeen million people (six million Jews, approximately nine million Soviets, and two million others), then there’s no doubt the Antichrist is capable of surpassing these efforts by multiple billions of deaths when he decides to part ways with the Harlot whom he devours.
A Harlot to the World Already
Now that we know what it is we’re comparing ourselves to, the next step is to acknowledge that the outside world is already viewing Christianity as a cult, and an agenda is at work to exacerbate this on a global scale. The faster we collectively are made to look like kooks—never mind that the Remnant Church is a different, living and breathing entity than the apathetic Bride of Spot and Wrinkle—the faster Antichrist can split us up and identify the Remnant’s firm stance on correct interpretation of the Word as “hate speech.”
And don’t misunderstand: This reflection isn’t necessary “because we care what the world thinks.” We don’t, and we shouldn’t…at least not in the context in which these words are casually and commonly used today, like when someone wears pajama pants to the grocery store. Scripture is clear that Christians will be tragically misunderstood, rejected, and even persecuted for our belief in and work for Him (2 Timothy 3:12; Luke 6:22); that we don’t have to feel alone in this because Jesus faced it first (John 15:18); and that these experiences can actually bless us by making our faith stronger (Matthew 5:10–11; 2 Corinthians 12:10). To deny this is to deny Scripture, so there’s no point in wasting time trying to “make the Church popular.”
On the other hand, we must momentarily consider what the increasingly secularized West thinks when it hears “Christianity,” so that we may know the impression the Bride of Spot and Wrinkle (who doesn’t read her own Book) is making on those whose souls may hang in the balance. It is in the interest of the final great harvest of souls that the Remnant Church—the image-bearers of the Creator and the ambassadors of Christ’s Great Commission message, the Church who will still care and be spiritually alive in the end, can commit ourselves all the more to glorifying God by presenting Him accurately to the lost.
Consider The Handmaid’s Tale television series as one obvious example. For those who aren’t familiar with it, this program, based on the book by Margaret Atwood, paints a dystopian future wherein natural human reproduction is threatened by plummeting fertility rates that are a result of sexually transmitted diseases and environmental contaminants. The American government, now known as Gilead, is run by totalitarian, theonomic dictators who have established a new hierarchy of social classes involving extreme subjugation of women, including their being prohibited to read or write. Inhumane cruelty is commonplace for anyone who steps outside the favor of tyrannical authority, and the worst of all evils is committed by the most fanatically religious devotees. Democracy is dead, and there is only one permissible religion to which everyone in society must submit: a fundamentalist Christian belief system called the “Sons of Jacob.”
At the lowest social rung are the “Handmaids”—ritual fertility/sex slaves modeled after a warped interpretation of Laban’s handmaid, Bilhah, from Genesis 29:29—who are forced to bear surrogate children for the “Commanders” in order to contribute to a streamlined human population. This sexual act, known as “the Ceremony,” takes place with the Commander’s wife’s participation as she sits behind the Handmaid’s head and holds her arms down, symbolically insinuating that the forced act of copulation is consensual between man and wife.
What explanation might there be for this show’s immense popularity? Is it merely a gripping plot? Does our society tune in more than it would have because of a huge advertising budget? Was there a greater buzz about this particular Hulu title than so many other programs due to the awkward, twisted scenes between the male masters and their birth-slave women?
Or, is there perhaps another, more sinister reason that a story based on one of the most banned books in the country for twenty years[vii] has become such a regular, contemporary living room companion?
Today’s average Hulu junkies aren’t likely to stop and consider these questions; they simply return to their screens at the release of every new episode, seemingly heedless of the diametric shift our American culture has made in the last few decades from the Brady Bunch entertainment standards of yesteryear. Now, our most crowd-pleasing programming shamelessly involves a man raping his slave in the presence of his accomplice-wife to the reading of God’s Word.
That’s one small step for television, one giant leap for Western culture…
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW VIDEOS
“THE LIES OF MEN AND GODS–EPISODE 2”: What’s Behind Flying Seraphim, Reptilians, And Portals Opening Above Mountains
“THE LIES OF MEN AND GODS–EPISODE 1”: The Vatican, Aliens, and Government Elites. Is It All a Coincidence?
Please understand that we’re not passing judgment on anyone who watches this show, or any other like it. (In fact, some, like Jessica Crooke of the conservative Christian Post, believe an argument could be made for why this particular show might be useful in exposing the extreme societal dangers of widespread acceptance and implementation of misinterpreted Scripture.[viii]) Rather, we are hoping to point out the not-so-gradual desensitization of our responsiveness to perversion as it plays out on screen, especially regarding the distortion of Christianity into a cultic installation of sadistic abusers driven by the hunger for sex and domination. There is no way the Church would have been painted in this light, fictional or otherwise, on the big or the small screen, just a few decades ago. Oh, how fast our culture is changing!
How have we come to a point where we can watch a plot about something so alarming and depraved yet call it a regular Tuesday night? What developments have taken place in our country in recent years that would render us so psychologically anesthetized that we see such evil portrayed as the mainstream Christianity of the future?
You’ve already read about psychological manipulation tactics earlier in this book that answer all of these questions and more regarding how Christianity’s teachings can be labeled “hate speech,” our sacraments called “rape,” and our contribution to society considered “establishing a dictatorial theocracy and reconstructing slavery.”
These are the kind of statements that The Handmaid’s Tale—while supplemented with the rising number of negative reports in the news and media about conservatives and conservativism that have already begun!—has the propensity to contribute. It’s eventually a firm, negative psychological imprinting and resolve about Christians in the minds of unbelievers: Christians can’t be trusted; they’re dangerous and unpredictable; their God, lifestyle, creeds, fanatical adherence to the Word above even science (and so on) are a blight on the community; and it would be better if they took their beliefs and went on to the next town.
We know what at least some readers are thinking right now: It’s just a show! Our society knows that this is fiction. This isn’t really what the world thinks of Christians. Why are you making such a big deal out of this?
Here’s the thing…it’s only one show.
Countless others portray us Christians in an awful light—as crazed cult leaders, pedophiles, hypocrites, and at the very least, bumbling dimwits useful only for comedic relief. Consider Watchmen, The Big Bang Theory, Rise, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Major Crimes, Orange Is the New Black, Scandal, Awkward, The Simpsons, Daytime Divas, South Park, Young Sheldon, and Will & Grace—and don’t get us started on the character Joe Hart, aka “Teen Jesus,” from Glee, whose appearance in the show launched several character-dialogue scenes questioning the integrity and/or sexual orientation of key Bible characters.
This is, of course, in addition to the overnight, bold progression of outright blasphemy across the board that depicts Christianity as largely undeserving of any respect whatsoever. In television alone, we’re being daily mocked, taunted, parodied, and heckled. If our beliefs are at this moment that easily converted into the subject of an entire culture’s amusement, how can we expect to be taken seriously when we’re called to reach the lost…you know, those who are currently sharing a laugh at our expense?
Perhaps you don’t yet realize how out of hand this has become. We’ll give you just a chip from tip of the TV-iceberg here:[ix]
Warning and disclaimer: The following list is shocking. These authors are shaken, appalled, and more outraged than we can describe at the time of this writing to see how our precious Lord’s message is being presented on screen. Far too many Christian books “sanitize” what they have to say to avoid offending their readers, and in the end, the reader is less informed of reality. In the interest of raising awareness, we will simply describe what we have to about what is happening in television right now and move on. However, if you choose to take our word for it that this is extremely disturbing for those who love Jesus, and you don’t feel the need to satisfy your curiosity, feel free to skip past these bullets and onto the sentence starting with “Friends.”
- Main characters of Will & Grace intermittently make fun of Scripture and Bible characters, they have suggested that the apostles were all gay, and their gay-conversion-camp episode suggested that the entire Christian agenda at this time is to undo homosexuality by sending our youth to getaways where lyrics to well-known Sunday school songs (in this case, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”) are divorced from their original meaning and rewritten to severely indoctrinate homophobia.
- Rosie O’Donnell’s SMILF (“Single Mother I’d Like to [have adult relations with]”) character, Bridget, laughs about how the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus as a result of rape by one of the apostles.
- Cameron Monaghan’s Shameless character protests outside a church by yelling crude and obscene urban slang terms for homosexual acts and calling them “Jesus’ love,” and is subsequently heralded as the viral hero “Gay Jesus” as a result of his demonstrations.
- Fiona Gubelmann’s “hateful, hypocritical,” but Christian Daytime Divas character, Heather, who is mother to a transgender child she declares was made transgender by God, engages in abusive S&M sex with her husband while reading from the Word and getting spanked and bruised with a cross-shaped paddle—an act described later in the episode as a “kinky three-way with God.”
- IFC’s Brockmire included an episode wherein the lead character, Jim, during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, calls Jesus the “Mayer of Auschwitz” and went on to say something so blasphemous that we can’t bring ourselves to write it verbatim here, but a synonymous—and far less profane—way to state what he said was that “God needs to man up.”
- Second place for the “most blasphemous” award is the episode of Netflix’s Insatiable involving the enthusiastic “Miss Magic Jesus Pageant,” wherein young teenagers compete to win the “Crown of Thorns” in a choir number, citing the lyrics, “Sweet, sweet Jesus inside me…. Yeah! Oh, Spirit, please ride me.”
- At the absolute top of the list of offenses we’ve found is an episode of Preacher that begins with a “graphic and gratuitous sex scene portraying Jesus losing his virginity with a married woman the night he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.”[x]
Friends, as sickening as it is to read all that, there are certainly other examples worthy of mention (some, believe it or not, are actually worse than these); however, they, too, are so shocking that we will refrain—because, by now, we know you get the idea.
In the past, Christians were simply a part of one populace; in the present, we’re being represented as our own pitiable, misguided clique as we gradually migrate away from secularistic culture and legislation that cannot agree with Scripture; in the future, if things continue to go the current direction, we will be a completely polarized faction, considered hostile to the world around us, because there are people in high places—and in all places (influential media personalities, university professors, politicians, etc.)—who have successfully combined foot-in-the-door, door-in-the-face, and other methods of manipulation to paint us as dangerous, cultic, radical fanatics whose beliefs are only worthy of satire.
Okay, now, take every concern that you just read about television alone and apply it to trends we can expect to see (and are already seeing) in movies. That exponentially increases the grooming of society to view Christianity as a cult. (Some report that a new independent film, Habit, casting popstar idol Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris Jackson as the lead, depicts Jesus Christ as a beautiful lesbian who intervenes on behalf of a young girl pretending to be a nun. As of mid-pandemic, 2020, information about the film is scarce since COVID-19 has slowed down much production in Hollywood. These authors, however, won’t be surprised if this “lesbian Jesus” film hits the screen at a later time.)
And then, to TV shows and movies, add music…
Don’t forget books, magazines, and newspapers…
Gotta get the radio, video games, podcasts, and Internet sites in there, too…
Cultural identity is positively driven by the machinations of its media. It’s happening outside the Church already.
But it’s not just media. It’s a worldview being perpetuated and embraced by the secularization agenda of Western society…and it’s feeding right into the eschatological scenario described in Revelation.
Think that’s sensational? Perhaps it isn’t…
UP NEXT: Preparing Our Land—and Churches—for Satan’s Arrival
[i] We’ve had a number of helpful resources to assist us in this area of study: Hassan, Steven, Combating Cult Mind Control (Newton, MA: Freedom of Mind Press, 2018; 30th Anniversary Ed.; 4th ed.); American Psychiatric Association, Marc Galanter, MD, editor, Cults and New Religious Movements: A Report of the American Psychiatric Association from the Committee on Psychiatry and Religion (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Press, 1989); Clark, Jr., MD, John G., Michael D. Langone, PhD, Robert E. Schecter, PhD, Roger C. B. Daly, MDiv, “Destructive Cult Conversion: Theory, Research, and Treatment,” American Family Foundation, Bonita Springs, FL, 1981; as well as information provided at ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association), last accessed February 10, 2020, https://www.icsahome.com/.
[ii] “Suicide Data,” World Health Organization, last accessed November 2, 2020, https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/.
[iii] Hassan, Steven, Combating Cult Mind Control: The Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Newton, MA: Freedom of Mind Press, 2018; 4th Ed.), 42.
[iv] Turner, Francis J.; Arnold Shanon Bloch, Ron Shor, “105: From Consultation to Therapy in Group Work with Parents of Cultists,” Differential Diagnosis & Treatment in Social Work (Free Press: 4th ed., September 1, 1995), 1146; emphasis added.
[v] “indoctrination,” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate… locations 197919–197921.
[vi] “brainwashing,” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate… locations 72617–72618.
[vii] “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books: 1990–1999,” American Library Association, last accessed March 3, 2020, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/100-most-frequently-challenged-books-1990%E2%80%931999; “Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000–2009,” American Library Association, last accessed March 3, 2020, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/top-100-bannedchallenged-books-2000-2009.
[viii] Jessica Crooke, “Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Actually an Attack on Christianity?” June 14, 2019, Christian Post, last accessed March 3, 2020, https://www.christianpost.com/voices/is-the-handmaids-tale-actually-an-attack-on-christianity.html.
[ix] The bullet list referenced here involves information taken from the following two sources, which I will list once now, instead of adding an endnote to each item on the list: Hamilton, Amelia, and Alexa Moutevelis, “Easter Top 8: Which Shows Are the Worst to Christians?” March 29, 2018, News Busters, last accessed March 4, 2020, https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/amelia-hamilton/2018/03/29/easter-top-8-which-shows-are-worst-christians; Alexa Moutevelis, “Easter 2019: Top 10 Worst Shows for Christians,” April 19, 2019, News Busters, last accessed March 4, 2020, https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/alexa-moutevelis-coombs/2019/04/19/10-worst-tv-shows-christians.
[x] See last endnote for citation information regarding that which was said in this bullet list.