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Overview for Clergy
Michael D. Langone, PhD
Clergy should recognize that joining cults is often related much more to psychological and social influence factors than to an evaluation of a group's theology. Clergy and other religious persons can help families concerned about a loved one or people who have left cultic groups by listening sympathetically and referring them to cult specialists. Religious helpers can also aid the recovery process of those ex-members who need to re-orient themselves spiritually.
Cults vary tremendously.
Different people respond differently to the same group.
Controversial cults tend to be characterized by control-oriented leadership that places high demands on members, expects compliance, discourages questioning, isolates members from those who might threaten the leader's control, and offers the carrot of a pseudo-elitism to compensate for the members' submission to leadership.
Former members are often "gun-shy" about churches or any organization.
Religious helpers need to be patient with ex-members' suspicions and fears and offer a safe haven that the ex-member can use when and if he/she wants.
Families who seek help about a child in a cult may have good reason to be concerned and should not be dismissed as "overprotective" parents.
Religious helpers should encourage families and ex-members to take advantage of specialized resources, such as those ICSA provides.
Although our capacity to give individualized responses to inquiries is limited, we do what we can and, when appropriate and feasible, refer inquirers to people who may be able to give additional assistance. The ICSA network includes experienced helping professionals, some of whom run support groups.
If this service interests you, contact us.
Priority resources bolded.
See ICSA's special website on spiritual abuse.
A Safe-Haven Church: An Introduction to the Basics of a Safe Religious Community. Neil C. Damgaard. ICSA Today, 6(1), 2015, 2-7.
An Open Letter to Clergy Regarding Helping Former Members of Abusive Churches or Cults. Carol Giambalvo. ICSA Today, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2012.
Are “Sound” Theology and Cultism Mutually Exclusive? Michael D. Langone, Ph. D. Cult Observer, 11(9 & 10), 1994.
Aspects of Concern Regarding Legion of Christ Mind Control Reflected in Its Rules, Norms, and Ex-Member Testimonies. J. Paul Lennon. ICSA E-Newsletter, 5(2), 2006
Back From the Brink: An Abusive Church Movement Recovers Its Balance. Lawrence A. Pile.
“By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them”: How Good and Bad Works Can Deceive – the Case of the Legion of Christ – Michael Langone. ICSA Today, 3(3), 2012, 2-5.
Characteristics of Cultic Groups. Michael Langone.
Charismatic Covenant Community. Adrian Reimers. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(1), 1986, 28-42.
Checks on Power and Authority in the New Testament. Dr. Harold Bussell. ICSA E-Newsletter, 3(2), 2004.
Child Fatalities from Religion-Motivated Neglect. Seth M. Asser, M.D. & Rita Swan, Ph.D. Cultic Studies Journal, 17, 2000, 1-14.
Choosing a Church. Lawrence Pile
Cold Reading: The Tricks of the Psychics. William Goldberg, MSW, BCD
Creating the Illusion of Mind Reading in a Self-Transformation Training. Robert C. Fellows, MTS. Cultic Studies Journal, 4(2)/5(1), 1987/88, 44-58.
Cult Formation. Robert Jay Lifton, M.D. Cultic Studies Journal, 8(1), 1991, 1-6.
Cultic Issues and Religious Freedom. Willy Fautre, ICSA Today, 5(1), 2014, 11-15.
Cults: What Clergy Should Know. Rev. Richard L. Dowhower.
Growing Up With Strictly Religious Parents: A Narrative Analysis of Second-Generation Memoirs. Terra Anne Manca, International Journal of Cultic Studies, 6, 2015, 16-33.
House of Judah, the Northeast Kingdom Community, and the Jonestown Problem: Downplaying Child Physical Abuses and Ignoring Serious Evidence. Stephen A. Kent. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 1, 2010, 27-48.
How Can Faith Communities Help Survivors of Spiritual Abuse?. Michael D. Langone, ICSA Today, 9(2), 2018, 2-5.
How Can Young People Protect Themselves Against Cults? Michael D. Langone, PhD.
How to Talk to People Who are Trying to Save You. Ross Miller. Cultic Studies Journal, 2(2), 1986, Page 296-297.
Impact on Children of Being Born Into/Raised in a Cultic Group. Ashley Allen, ICSA Today, 7(1), 2016, 17-22.
Influence. Robert Cialdini.
Inner Experience and Conversion. Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. Cultic Studies Review 2(2), 2003, 169-176.
Moments of Grace. Nancy Miquelon. Cultic Studies Journal, 15(2), 1998, 109-119.
More Than the Devil's Due. Adrian J. Reimers, PhD. Cultic Studies Journal, 11(1), 1994, 77-87.
My Experience in YWAM: A Personal Account and Critique of Cultic Manipulation. Laurie Jacobson. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(2), 1986, 204-233.
On Breaking the Code of Silence. Kristen Skedgell DeVoe. ICSA Today, 4(2), 2013, 6-7.
On Using the Term "Cult." Herbert L. Rosedale, Esq. and Michael D. Langone, PhD.
Origins and Prevention of Abuse in Religious Groups. Michael D. Langone, ICSA Today, 7(3), 2016, 11-13.
Prevalence. Michael Langone
Psychological Abuse: Theoretical and Measurement Issues. Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
Ready to Mine: Zen's Legitimating Mythology and Cultish Behavior. Stuart Lachs, ICSA Today, 9(1), 2018, 6-10.
Religion vs. Cult. Rev. Richard Dowhower.
Religious Conflict Resolution (Power Point). Michael Langone Ph.D.
Sifting the Wheat from the Tares: 20 Signs of Trouble in a New Religious Group. Peter Vere. ICSA E-Newsletter, 4(2), 2005.
Six Conditions for Thought Reform. Margaret T. Singer Ph.D.
Social Influences on Youth. Dean Borgman.
Spiritual Abuse Across the Spectrum of Christian Environments. Maureen Griffo, ICS Today, 9(1), 2018, 2-5.
State Intervention Against The Baptist Church of Windsor: From Law-Abiding Citizens to Perpetrators of Severe Child Physical Abuse. Dianne Casoni, Adriana Pacheco, Mike Kropveld. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 6, 2015, 83-99.
Ten Steps to Critical Thinking. Robert Fellows. From Easily Fooled, copyright © 2000 by Robert Fellows.
The Definitional Ambiguity of "Cult" and ICSA's Mission. Michael D. Langone.
The Ethics of Evangelism and Cult Recruitment. By Elmer Thiessen. ICSA Today, 4(3), 2013.
The Results of the International Cultic Studies Association’s 2008 Questionnaire for Former Cult Members. The Reverend Richard L. Dowhower, DD. ICSA Today, 4(1), 2013.
The Vatican Report. Sects or New Religious Movements: A Pastoral Challenge. Cultic Studies Journal,3(1) , 1986, 93-110.
Vulnerable Characteristics. Robert Fellows, MTS. From Easily Fooled. Copyright Robert Fellows.
When the Walking Wounded Walk Into Church. Ken Garrett. ICSA Today, 11(1), 2020, 2-7.
When You’re Asked About Cults. Robert Fellows, MTS. From Easily Fooled. Copyright Robert Fellows.
Why We Need To Become Spiritual Consumers. Rosanne Henry, M.A.; Sharon Colvin.
Spiritual manipulation in pseudo-Christian cults: A panel discussion with former members. Wendy Duncan, MA, LBSW; Doug Duncan, MS, LPC
Post-Cult Spirituality: Toxic Vs. Healthy. Wendy Duncan, MA, LBSW; Doug Duncan, MS, LPC
MeadowHaven: A Treatment Approach for Long-term Trauma Survivors. Robert Pardon, MDiv
Introduction to Spiritual Abuse. Elisha Cox