Beware of cults

As a survivor of a doomsday cult, I am often alarmed at the totalistic verbiage of both groups and individuals I come across in print and electronically.

Perhaps I am sensitive to the signs and techniques used to recruit and manipulate people. It saddens me because there is always a tremendous cost to the individual and to society.

Totalistic indoctrination causes people to lose years of their lives to manipulation and false beliefs. The Chinese Communist Party used harsh mental control techniques in the 1950s and continues today in “Patriot Education Camps.” Consider Jim Jones’ People’s Temple and the Manson family as well as contemporary science-deniers: it costs lives.

With the pandemic and the prevalence of the internet, many people find themselves indoctrinated without leaving their home. It can take as little as 14 days to convince people of fallacies.

Here are some things to be aware of in order to protect yourself and your loved ones:

l People are especially vulnerable to indoctrination at times of stress and uncertainty.

l Cults are increasingly using the internet.

l They offer attractive camraderie.

l They employ enormous amounts of gaslighting and whataboutism.

l There is an emphasis on villifying “others” or seeing others without any redeeming qualities.

l One-sided information control is used.

Signs of healthy groups:

l Welcome skepticism and exploratory discourse.

l Acknowledge weaknesses and oversights.

l Transparency regarding hierarchy, objectives and finances.

l Honesty regarding the limits of proof and concrete results.

The best cult-resistance is the ability to critically think, identify fallacies and methodologies used to manipulate.

Janet Marugg


It’s about freedom

Columnist Marvin F. Dugger sees a problem when “millions of people in our country” cannot conceive babies and “nearly 1 million babies in our country are aborted each year.” His solution, I presume, is laws that would force pregnant women who want abortions to bear children on behalf of their fellow citizens who want to adopt children.

We have already seen the Trump administration try to force women in immigration detention facilities to continue their pregnancies by denying them access to legal abortions, an action the courts reversed. Dugger would like to use the police power of the government to stop abortions, forcing women to stay pregnant even when a safe medical procedure would enable them to end their pregnancies. ...

The 862,000 or so women who sought legal abortions in the United States in 2017 (the latest year for Guttmacher Institute figures) were exercising their right to control their own bodies. Dugger and others of like minds are free to try to convince these women to bear children. ...

When the law intervenes to take away that choice, the government acts on behalf of all its citizens to impose a burden on women they should not have to bear. Women in the U.S. today can weigh their options and choose whether to continue a pregnancy. Requiring the police and prosecutors to compel pregnant women to continue their pregnancies with the threat of criminal prosecution if they seek an abortion is not the action of a society that values freedom.

John Anderson


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