Cult 1969. Five dead bodies were found by
Cult activity has been on the rise over the past few decades. With it there hasbeen an increase in the fear surrounding it. From this fear, society has learnedmuch about cults, how they get members and what to look out for as far as cultrecruiters go. Society as a whole has also learned what can be done to deal withcults.
Cult activity and the fear that surrounds it Throughout the last coupleof decades more and more stories of illegal cult activity or murders by sataniccults appear on the news each night. This surge of reported cult activity hascaused a spark in public interest. There has been a large increase in the fearthat surrounds cults over the past couple of years. A cult is “a therapeuticor unconventional religious movement (McBride, 1985, 22),” and the more cultsthat fall beneath the public eye, the more serious the fear of cults becomes.Much of this fear has been sparked by major cult related incidents such as masssuicide by the Peoples Temple or the murder of Sharon Tate.
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These incidents,and incidents like them, grab the nations attention and create widespreadpanic. But as the nation reads about these stories in the paper, the samequestions seem to surface. Questions like “How does this happen?” or “Whatcan we do to stop this from happening again?” are often asked. The panic andfear of cult activity in our country seems to continue to grow with the moreunbelievable stories that hit the news. The first big news event that was cultrelated occurred in 1969. Five dead bodies were found by the maid at 10050 CieloDrive. Beautiful actress Sharon Tate who was pregnant at the time, and herfriends Steven Earl Parent, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, and Jay Sebringwere found butchered thoughout the residence (Bugliosi, 1974, 18).
The murdersthemselves grasped the nations attention, but it was when the murderers andtheir motives surfaced that the fear began. It was in February of 1970 that themotive of these murders was discovered (Bugliosi, 1974, 283). Through policeinvestigation, it was discovered that the murders were cult related.
CharlesManson and members of his cult, known as “The Family,” were to blame. Mansonand family lived on a ranch in California. Manson was an avid fan of The Beatlesand believed that this rock band spoke to him though their lyrics. Heparticularly liked The Beatles White Album which included the song “HelterSkelter.” Manson interpreted this songs lyrics as a prophecy of a race warthat would take place between the blacks and the whites. In this war, hebelieved the black man would rise up and slaughter all of the whites.
SoMansons plan was to take his family out into the desert and hide in abottomless pit until the war was over. After the war, he believed the blackswould realize all they ever knew was taught to them by the white man, and ifthey wanted to survive, they would need a white person to tell them what to do.That is when Manson and his Family would surface from the bottomless pit, and bethe rulers of the world as the master race (Bugliosi, 1974, 284-290). The onlyproblem with Mansons prophecy was that Helter Skelter never came. So he sentFamily members out to kill Sharon Tate and friends and instructed them to makeit appear as if the blacks did it. He tried to accomplish this by writing wordsin the victims blood all over the walls like “Arise,” “Helter Skelter,”and “Death to the Pigs.
” All this was done in hopes of starting the race war(Bugliosi, 1974, 424). The trial for this terrible crime was so publicized thatit played a very significant role in creating cult fear. The next largelypublicized cult related incident occurred in 1979 with the mass suicide inJonestown (Green, 1993, 34). Jim Jones started his cult in California. His cultwas referred to as the Peoples Temple, and his followers called him ReverendJim Jones. Jones operated his cult under the cover of a home for depravedchildren. He managed to round up 300 children, some taken illegally, and around600 men and women who wanted to help these children.
Jones then left California,and headed to Guyana (Miller, 1990, 42). It was there that he convinced his 900followers, made up of men, women, and children, to drink orange squash lacedwith cyanide. Jones called it “revolutionary suicide (Green, 1993, 34).”This event was such a big deal in the public eye because of the number of peopleinvolved in the suicide. 900 people were convinced to voluntarily killthemselves and when this hit the newspapers, fear of cult activity grew. InApril of 1993, the FBI became aware of man named David Koresh and the cult heled which was known as the Branch Davidians cult (Green, 1993, 38).
He lived ina house on a Texas ranch with his followers who were known as “disciples.”Koresh believed he was Christ reborn, and he would not allow any of hisfollowers to come in contact with anyone outside of the cult. The FBI gotinvolved when they discovered that the cult was stockpiling weapons.
When theFBI discovered the Branch Davidians cult was heavily armed, they surrounded theTexas ranch with FBI marksmen and a fleet of tanks. Koresh refused to allow anyof his disciples to leave, and the stand off lasted several days. This stand offended, however, when a fire broke out in the ranch and twenty-four people burnedto death (Green, 1993, 36). This occurrence helped spread the fear of cultactivity because a number of the people that burned to death were children whoreally had no choice in joining the cult. If their parents joined so did they.Big news events like the Manson Family murders, and the mass suicide atJonestown, only happen every so often.
However, events that seem to continuouslybe in the news are those related to Satanism. Most of these events are small andisolated, but the massive numbers of them are stirring worry. A highlypublicized example of this occurred in Jasper County, in southwest Missouri.Three high school seniors Ron Clements, James Hardy, and Theron Roland II, wereconvicted of murdering Stephen Newberry. The three struck Newberry over the headwith a baseball bat more than 50 times during a satanic ritual and then dumpedthe body in a cistern, which already had the remains of mutilated cats andsquirrels. The three boys used their obsession with Satanism and devil worshipas their defense during the trial (Futterman, 1989). Cases like these from allover the country hit headlines and widen the fear surrounding Satanism andSatanic Cults.
Larry Jones, founder of the Cult Crime Impact Network, claimsthat Satanists slaughter 50,000 children each year (OReilly, 1993). With thequoting of statistics like these, its no wonder that the alarm over satanicactivity is on the up-rise. With all of the panic and fear surrounding cults,much research has recently been done to see who is at risk of becoming a cultmember and how the cult leaders recruit them. For the most part the young are atrisk.
It has been thought that most cult members must have started off withdeeply rooted psychological problems, but this is not the case. Predominantly,the kids are normal in every way, but are at some “in-between” part of theirlives, such as entering college (McBride, 1985, 115). Usually the recruiter isof the opposite sex and approaches the potential cult member with a smile and aninvitation to dinner with some friends. It is there that the complex methodknown as brainwashing begins (McBride, 1985,116).
Brainwashing, also known asmind bending or thought reform, is professionally known as psychologicalcoercion. There are many different methods of brainwashing, each usually verysubtle. Fritz Knabe, an ex-cult member, said “Its very hard for people tounderstand brainwashing. People think that their mind is a temple and thatnobody can force them to think anything.
The point is, you cant tell itshappening if its successful (Green, 1993, 36).” The main goal ofbrainwashing is as follows: (1) to drastically alter a persons sense ofreality, (2) to get the potential cult member to accept a new reality, (3) toalter the understanding of the potential cult members past, (4) to get thepotential cult member to accept a new belief system, and (5) to get that personto be a loyal member of the cult (Miller, 1990, 96). The book Coping with Cultsoutlines a very general method of the brainwashing process. The method is asfollows: “Isolate the person and manipulate his or her environment. Controlthe channels of information and communication.
Wear the person down thoughinadequate diet and fatigue. Replace uncertainty, fear, and confusion with thepromise of joy but only as part of the group. And finally, assign repetitivetasks such as singing, chanting, or copying pages from a book (Miller, 1990,98).” A prime example of the recruiting and brainwashing process is CharlesMansons method. He used the girls in the Family as a recruiting method.
Hewould allow men to have sex with any of his girls as much as they like. Afterthey did it once, the men were his, they would do anything Manson said (Bugliosi,1974, 120). The family stayed on a ranch that had no clocks and was isolatedfrom the rest of the world. There was also much drug use by Manson and theFamily.
The average family member ate LSD at least 300 times while they were atthe ranch, while Manson preached about Helter Skelter or orchestrated massiveorgies (Bugliosi, 1974, 431). Occasionally he would feed the family LSD andreenact the crucifixion of Christ with himself as Jesus (Bugliosi, 1974, 120).How extreme the cult recruiters will go to get new members seems to be matchedwith how extreme people will go to get their loved one out of cults. The firstmethod to get someone out of a cult came about in the 1970s and is known asdeprogramming.
It was started by the “Father of Deprogramming,” Ted Patrick.Ted Patrick was an ex-trucker with no training in psychology or cults whodecided something needed to be done. He offered his services of getting a lovedone out of a cult for the cost of nearly $80,000.
In his book, Let Our ChildrenGo, he spoke of “fighting fire with fire” meaning going to extremes in orderto get the loved one out of a cult (Miller, 1990, 109). His idea sounds good inconcept, but deprogramming is illegal. Deprogramming involves holding peopleagainst their will after being kidnapped and then convincing them over many daysnot to go back to the cult (Miller, 1990, 111).
He also openly took part inhundreds of kidnappings and went to jail repeated times for breaking the law. Itis a sort of reverse brainwashing, only not nearly as subtle. Ted Patrick wasquoted as stating, “I believe firmly that the Lord helps those who helpthemselves — a few little things like karate, mace, and handcuffs can come inhandy from time to time (Green, 1993, 38).” A much safer and legal way ofgetting the same result is known as exit counseling. It is a much better way ofcult recovery because it doesnt involve kidnapping or restraint, which isjust as bad as what the cult leaders do. Exit counseling is really a quitesimple process.
It involves the cult member that the family or friends wish toget out of the cult having a meeting with ex-cult members and a psychologist. Inthe meetings, the cult member hears similar experiences from ex-cult members andthey learn more about topics such as mind control (Miller, 1990, 110). After thecult member realizes what they have gotten themselves into, they need helpgetting out and rejoining society. Exit counselor Ayman Aksar, speaking on thetopic of exit counseling said, “People can feel very insecure and afraid, andneed help (Green, 1993, 38).
” Continuing to meet with the exit counselor helpsdeal with these feelings. Cult activity has been in the headlines for decades.With each story comes the heightening of the fear surrounding cults and cultactivity. Cult activity can take the form of something as obvious and publicizedas the Manson Family murders or can come in random and unrelated Satanic acts.
With the fear from the public came many questions that were demanded to beanswered. It was from this fear that society now knows who is at risk, what tolook out for, and how to get someone out a cult safely and legally.BibliographyBugliosi, Vincent. (1974). Helter Skelter.
New York: W.W. Norton ;Company, Inc.
Futterman, Ellen. (1989, February 5). Hints of Darkness: SatanismReports Stir Worry. The St.
Louis Post-Dispatch, pp 1A+. Green, Caroline. (1993,Febuary). The Far-out World of Cults. Focus Magazine, pp. 34-38. McBride, James,Sheperd, Williams C.
, ; Robbins, Thomas (Eds.). (1985). Cults, Culture, andthe Law: Perspectives on New Religious Movements. The American Academy ofReligion. Miller, Maryann.
(1990). Coping With Cults. New York: The RosenPublishing Group, Inc. OReilly, David. (1993, July 18). The Devil, You Say.
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