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4/22/2014 9:30 pm  #31


Re: What's a Cult? - Definitions, exit strategies, resources

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9/10/2014 4:17 pm  #32


Re: What's a Cult? - Definitions, exit strategies, resources


 

9/15/2014 10:00 am  #33


Re: What's a Cult? - Definitions, exit strategies, resources

the Spirit Watch 
Remnant Fellowship: A Brief History And A Dire Warning
www.spiritwatch.org 

Excerpts from a personal account of getting caught up in a new religious group by Adam and Maria Brooks. 

Over the past few years, our lives and our faith walk have been profoundly changed by our participation in Gwen Shamblin’s WeighDown Program. Early on, we found that participation in the program helped invigorate our spiritual walk, calling us back to the Bible and a deeper relationship with God. We lost weight and refounded our marriage on solid, spiritual ground. However,...we were blindly caught up in [a] call for faithful followers to leave their churches. As a result, in the summer of 2001 we left our church for a brief period and nearly joined Remnant Fellowship.

For us, that experience gave us a traumatic taste of what it is like to be recruited into a cult and to experience "cultic mind control." Through the course of our rescue by God and through our healing, we have been given a firsthand view of the difficult and painful process that one experiences when being recruited by a high demand religious group. 

...the program initially begins with a very friendly and optimistic tone, eventually it becomes clear that in order to be successful in the program, followers have to accept Gwen’s belief that to eat outside of the bounds of natural hunger that Gwen has defined is to commit a sin. In other words, followers begin to accept that to be obedient to God is to be obedient to the WD diet. This axiom is established in the program through the use of various scriptures that condemn gluttony.

...many scriptures are flagrantly used out of their grammatical context and their historical context, misinterpreting them at will. If at face value a passage of Scripture seems applicable to her beliefs about dieting, Gwen interprets it in that fashion, even if the passage was contextually about something else. And finally, Gwen encourages her followers to downplay the advice of scientific authorities on food and weight loss in her diet plan. This mistrust of science begins to funnel her followers’ loyalty and trust towards herself rather than anyone in the scientific or medical community. 

In her call-to-arms entitled "
The New Jerusalem," she makes "sweeping and general statements concerning the state of the church." Overall, her indictment is based on the idea that true Christians will offer complete obedience to God, and that it is this obedience, or "DOING," which saves us. She compares a struggling Christian to a participant in idolatry, and sees the churches as complicit in deluding modern Christians with a "false grace message." 

Distinctive characteristics - no paid preachers or pastors, typically little or no formal religious training for their leadership, organization in a house church format with only one branch per town or large city, involvement and participation of children in the adult worship, and a loose structure of worship that involves prayer, teaching, praise, confession, and testimonials. Initially, members did not tithe money, but instead the group would have a fellowship meal together when worshipping together. 

Single members are encouraged to marry within the ranks of Remnant Fellowship. Over 2002 three marriages have been performed. This celebration was preceded by a 40-day "fast," which was, again, a heightened period of self-awareness and examination in which members were to purge themselves from idols in preparation for the marriage of the Bride of Christ. 

They emphasize conformity, denigrate and shame independent thinking, have rigid authority and hierarchy structures, move people by group thinking, use fear as a motivator, and quickly and permanently expel anyone who persistently questions. Followers are typically encouraged to avoid reading articles critical of the group, and are warned against speaking to former members. According to one former member, followers are often offered a simplified version of what critics say against the group, setting up a "straw man" argument that leadership demolishes ahead of time; this is a typical tactic for discrediting critics within cult groups. 
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Family members note that Remnant Fellowship members demonstrate profound change in their attitudes towards organized religion, and refuse to attend events that are hosted in denominational churches. They become argumentative when religious subjects are brought up, and they begin to manifest changes in their personalities. Family members have reported that their family member seems much more angry and critical, and that they have to "walk on eggshells" around them. Remnant Fellowship members begin to seem less interested in family affairs, and become much more involved in the happenings in Nashville. They often drop friendships with Christians who do not belong to Remnant Fellowship. They may begin to entertain the idea of moving to Nashville, or moving to be closer to a Remnant Fellowship branch.  

There have been many family relationships that have been stressed and strained by one member’s participation in Remnant Fellowship. The leadership interprets several of Jesus’ sayings (notably, Luke 12:51-53) to justify causing division between family members if non-Remnant Fellowship family persistently question or attempt to demand that the Remnant Fellowship member leave the group. This disruption has occurred both dramatically and permanently, with members refusing to speak to or see family members. More frequently, gradual and unstated separations where the Remnant Fellowship member just drifts out of contact also occur. 

Remnant Fellowship recruits many college-age students, and these students are often offered positions on the phone banks at WD, or performing nannying services or menial work for Remnant Fellowship members. Sometimes the students change their majors or interrupt their educations to be more involved in Remnant Fellowship activities and purposes. Very often these college-age students have church backgrounds, so their parents are upset when their son or daughter refuses to attend their home congregation. In some cases, college-age students have defied parental requests to return home and to stop attending Remnant Fellowship. Sometimes a distancing in the relationship, or, in rarer cases, an entire disruption of relationships accompanies these power struggles.

I think that many are still missing the point when it comes to dealing with those around us who DON’T believe what we believe.  Those people on the outside don’t understand, nor do they want to understand, that they have GOT to DO the will of the Father and get rid of ALL idols and greed in their hearts to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  If you have shown the TRUTH to someone and they have refused it, we have got to understand that they are no longer “sweet friends who unfortunately missed the mark . . .” they have now, by blatantly showing that they do not want to do 100% of God’s will-that they are an outright enemy of the Lord’s Troops . . . These people have had the chance to learn to lay their idols down but have refused to want to learn more . . .they have refused the very GOD of the universe-and so my friends, they are no friend of God’s, and therefore they are no friends of mine . . . My friends, we cannot win the world over by submitting to what it wants us to do! If that is how we were to win them over, we would have to indulge in what they want us to indulge in!However, we WILL be able to win some over by STANDING FIRM IN THE FAITH, AND NOT GIVING WAY TO FEAR! It is time to stand up, Remnant Nation.  It is time to stand up for what you believe in and stop hiding the God that you are so proud of!  Obviously in certain situations in which you have already warned someone of the wrath that is coming on the disobedient . . . if they have refused your knowledge-you dust your feet and move on to find more exiles-and you remain silent in their presence.  Remember, “Muzzle your mouth in front of the enemy . . .” and “Do not throw pearls before swine.”   However-if you are in constant contact with the enemy . . .as it says, “a man’s enemies are the members of his own household” – if you ARE in daily contact with people who constantly try to get you away from the Fellowship-you have GOT to stand FIRM! Stand up for what you believe in! Do you mean to tell me that if the unbeliever told you to commit adultery that you would submit to that in order for peace? OF COURSE YOU WOULDN’T!!!So-when the unbeliever tells you to forsake the assembly-which is a command of God to NOT forsake-that you would do it for the sake of men? Stand up, men and women, for what you believe in!! And do not fear mortal men that cannot save or harm you.  Men of earth are powerless against the God that created them all.  Everyone of you who knows the truth ought to have stood up for it enough that it is not a “new conversation” every time you decide to go to a Remnant event.  Nor should it be odd for you to take your children to worship with you.  Your family and friends should know by now that meeting with the saints is top priority- for you feel it is the will of God.  (Any of you having trouble with standing up for this should call in to Leadership and they can help walk you through the steps in order to be SET FREE from the oppressor.)           -- email from Remnant Fellowship leader

Controlling basic human function and needs 

Food - It is highly likely that many participants are not getting enough food, and are dropping to unhealthy weights. 

Sleep - They were taught that this was God awakening them and when it occurred they were to rouse themselves and spend time with God. This is a group behavior that sprang out of lessons on the WD and WDA videotapes indicating that God often wakes Gwen Shamblin up in the middle of the night to spend time with her (originally intended, we think, to illustrate how one can find satisfaction in spending time with God). However, this became another example of God testing the members of Remnant Fellowship. Not awakening and getting out of bed to worship became labeled a disobedience to God if one did not get out of bed to listen to what God had to say. Needless to say, such sleep deprivation can take a toll and wear down reasoning abilities over time. 

Medication - Gwen Shamblin requested that all members send her a list of prescription medications that they were taking so that Gwen could let them know if they were blocking the Holy Spirit from communicating God’s will. Given Mrs. Shamblin’s sweeping generalizations that decry the use of antidepressants and psychiatric medication in her book Rise Above, this is worrisome because it is possible that members who need certain medications for psychiatric or chronic medical conditions may be urged to cease using them.

Parenting - ...disturbing trends are beginning to manifest in the rearing of children within the group. The same standards of total obedience to authorities are applied to the youngest of children as well as adults. Children may be disciplined for the slightest of infractions, and are expected to demonstrate complete control over their emotions and their diets. Children are expected to sit through hours long worship services without any fidgeting or demonstrating inattentiveness.  


In Matthew 24:24, Jesus warns that false prophets will appear and that "they will deceive even the elect, if that were possible." We should not be surprised that Gwen Shamblin is teaching a patchwork gospel made up of every obedience passage she can find in the Bible, nor should we be surprised that she is calling herself a prophetess. Christ also warned that wolves would come in sheep’s clothing and savage the flock.

Many people I met in RF seemed to be more concerned with not offending Gwen than they were concerned about what God might really want.  Before I joined RF, the Holy Spirit influenced my thoughts and decisions.  While I was a member of RF, I was instructed to "get under authority."   Although I was instructed to pray for God to reveal His Will in order for me to follow in "obedience," God's "revealed Will" had to line up with what Gwen was teaching or I was "resisting leadership."   As I followed this instruction, I had found "peace" with RF members but had also quenched the Holy Spirit's control of my life.  This in effect placed Gwen's authority over God's authority -  as "a false prophet" Gwen actually becomes an idol that many in RF blindly follow.

 

 

10/06/2014 1:36 am  #34


Re: What's a Cult? - Definitions, exit strategies, resources

WHAT IS A CULT 

The word “cult” is a very emotive one, and trying to define it is not as easy as it may seem and can be a tedious task, similar to when Associate Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, opined in the obscenity case of Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964), that “hard-core pornography” was hard to define, but that “I know it when I see it.” Most people (at least from the outside looking in) can recognize the abhorrent nature of cults, but would be hard pressed to give a practical working definition of one.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that cults do not fit easily into any particular mold. Although most people probably think of a cult as being religious in nature, cults can also be psychotherapeutic (Scientology), political (Neo-Nazis), or commercial (Amway). Cults can be defined along ideological grounds (their beliefs), or along sociological grounds (their dynamics). Some groups may have what are considered mainstream beliefs, but exhibit a very high degree of cult-like behavior. Conversely, other groups may have very unorthodox beliefs, but relatively normal group dynamics. The most dangerous of the cults are those that are deemed abnormal both sociologically and ideologically.

A good definition of the word “cult” is one that was articulated at an International Cultic Studies Association Conference on Cultism in 1985:

Cult: A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.), designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders, to the actual or possible detriment of members,  their families, or the community. (West & Langone, 1986, pp. 119-120)

That being said, there are certain characteristics of behavior that have been identified in groups commonly referred to as cults. Additionally, in those groups which are of a religious nature and claim to be Christian, it is a relatively easy matter to discern any teachings which deviate dramatically or diametrically from orthodox Christian belief.

www.iaatruth.com

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10/06/2014 2:44 am  #35


Re: What's a Cult? - Definitions, exit strategies, resources

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10/06/2014 2:46 am  #36


Re: What's a Cult? - Definitions, exit strategies, resources

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