By John Blatt
How does Christian Mind Control work?
Coercion is defined as, "to restrain or constrain by force..." Legally it often implies the use of PHYSICAL FORCE or physical or legal threat. This traditional concept of coercion is far better understood than the technological concepts of "coercive persuasion" which are effective restraining, impairing, or compelling through the gradual application of PSYCHOLOGICAL FORCES.
A coercive persuasion program - within Christianity it is called "The Gospel Persuasion" - is a behavioral change technology applied to cause the "learning" and "adoption" of a set of behaviors or an ideology under certain conditions. It is distinguished from other forms of benign social learning or peaceful persuasion by the conditions under which it is conducted and by the techniques of environmental and interpersonal manipulation employed to suppress particular behaviors and to train others. Over time, coercive persuasion, a psychological force akin in some ways to our legal concepts of undue influence, is MORE effective than pain, torture, drugs, and use of physical force and legal threats.
The Korean War "Manchurian Candidate" misconception of the need for suggestibility-increasing drugs, and physical pain and torture, to effect thought reform, is generally associated with the old concepts and models of brainwashing. Today, they are not necessary for a coercive persuasion program to be effective. With drugs, physical pain, torture, or even a physically coercive threat, you can often temporarily make someone do something against their will. You can even make them do something they hate or they really did not like or want to do at the time. They do it, but their attitude is not changed. In Christianity this is called a "false conversion".
This is much different and far less devastating than that which you are able to achieve with coercive persuasion. With coercive persuasion you can change a person's will without their knowledge and volition. You can create new "attitudes" where they will do things willingly which they formerly may have detested, things which previously only torture, physical pain, or drugs could have coerced them to do. In effect, their desires change, their viewpoints change, and their feelings change through this Gospel persuasion. Most people have no idea of the depth of change that this type of persuasion can bring into a person, even changing them in "an instant". This seems impossible and that is a part of its strength and deceitfulness.
The extreme anxiety and emotional stress production technologies found in Gospel Coercive Persuasion supersede any physical style coercion that focuses on pain, torture, drugs, or threat in that these physical systems of coercion do not change an attitude so that subjects follow orders "willingly." Christian or Gospel Coercive Persuasion changes both attitude AND behavior, not JUST behavior.
Christian or Gospel Coercive Persuasion (or thought reform as it is sometimes known) is best understood as a coordinated system of graduated coercive influence and behavior modification designed to change the wills and volition of individuals, usually in a group setting, in order for the originators of the program - those witnessing or preaching - to spiritually and psychologically profit from this persuasion to validate their own program and to continue the feeling that the program gives each converted person. This Gospel Coercive Persuasion is a psychological program that is inherently addictive in itself, because the program makes itself the sole purpose of life and feeling. This is one of the reasons why it is so hard on many levels to deprogram and be freed from this psychological addiction of this program.
The essential strategy used by those operating such programs is to systematically select, sequence and coordinate numerous coercive persuasion tactics over CONTINUOUS PERIODS OF TIME. There are seven main tactic types found in various combinations in the Christian Coercive Persuasion program. A coercive persuasion program can still be quite effective without the presence of ALL seven of these tactic types.
TACTIC 1. The individual is prepared for thought reform through increased suggestibility and/or "softening up," specifically through hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as audio, visual, verbal, or tactile fixation drills (anything that is "moving" to the emotions as well as to the mind, i.e., worship music, dancing, embraces, stirring preaching or instructional teaching from a pulpit) and excessive repetition of routine activities.
TACTIC 2. Using rewards and punishments, efforts are made to establish considerable control over a person's social environment, time, and sources of social support. Social isolation is promoted ("You are not of the world", "Christ can to bring a sword"). Contact with family and friends is abridged, as is contact with persons who do not share church-approved attitudes. Psychological and emotional dependence on the group is fostered.
TACTIC 3. Disconfirming information and nonsupporting opinions are prohibited in church communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss with outsiders. Communication is highly controlled, especially communication from God. God's communication is one-way, via the bible, and nothing is to contradict that communication. An "in-group" language is usually constructed, sometimes called "Christianese."
TACTIC 4. Frequent and intense attempts are made to cause a person to re-evaluate the most central aspects of his or her experience of self and prior conduct in negative ways. Efforts are designed to destabilize and undermine the subject's basic consciousness, reality awareness, world view, emotional control, and defense mechanisms as well as getting them to reinterpret their life's history, and adopt a new version of causality. This is usually called "sanctification" and "working out your salvation with fear and trembling."
TACTIC 5. Intense and frequent attempts are made to undermine a person's confidence in himself and his judgment, creating a sense of powerlessness. The only power that can help is God, or more precisely, the specific church's or Christian group's version of God. The eldership, church leaders, or "advanced" Christians are usually relied upon to understand the bible and for "encouragement" to "have the mind of Christ."
TACTIC 6. Nonphysical punishments are used such as intense humiliation (private and public confession of sin), loss of privilege (suspension or excommunication from the church or Christian group), social isolation (from the world and the "unbelievers" as well as from erring or heretical Christians that doesn't agree with their church or group), social status changes (from being a "respectable" and "stable" Christian to a "weak" or "unstable" Christian), intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques for creating strong aversive emotional arousals, etc.
TACTIC 7. Certain psychological threats (force) are used or are present: That failure to adopt the approved attitude, belief, or consequent behavior will lead to severe punishment or dire consequence, (e.g. physical or mental illness given by God, the reappearance of a prior physical illness, worldliness, personal economic collapse, social failure, divorce, failure to find a mate, etc.).
Another set of criteria has to do with defining other common elements of mind control systems. If most of Robert Jay Lifton's eight point model of thought reform is being used in an organization, it is most likely a dangerous and destructive cult. Conservative Christianity is a dangerous and destructive cult (please note that "dangerous and destructive" does NOT mean that it must be PHYSICAL. The dangerousness and destructiveness is a psychological, emotional and spiritual one. Just because Christianity doesn't normally create personal or public violence does NOT mean that it is not severely destructive on many other levels). If you are an exchristian or presently a Christian you will be able to see that every sentence of these following points are prevalent within Conservative, Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity. The eight points follow:
Robert Jay Lifton's Eight Point Model of Thought Reform
1. ENVIRONMENT CONTROL. Limitation of many/all forms of communication with those outside the group. Worldly books, magazines, letters and fellowship with unbelieving friends and family are taboo. "Come out and be separate!"
2. MYSTICAL MANIPULATION. The potential convert to the group becomes convinced of the higher purpose and special calling of the group through a profound encounter or experience, for example, through an alleged miracle or prophetic word or spiritual feeling while within the group.
3. DEMAND FOR PURITY. An explicit goal of the group is to bring about some kind of change, whether it be on a global, social, or personal level. "Perfection is possible if one stays with the group and is committed." (This "perfection" is associated with sanctification, "(Mat 5:48) Therefore, you be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." "(2Co 13:11) For the rest, brothers, rejoice! Perfect yourselves"
4. CULT OF CONFESSION. The unhealthy practice of self disclosure to members in the group. Often (but not always) in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, even doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders.
5. SACRED SCIENCE. The group's perspective is absolutely true and completely adequate to explain EVERYTHING (A knowledgeable Christian can rebut any critical question presented and Christianity is the Truth and is capable to explain everything about life and spirituality). The doctrine is not subject to amendments or question. ABSOLUTE conformity to the doctrine is required. "(Mat 7:28) And it happened, when Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were astonished at His doctrine." "(Mat 7:28) And it happened, when Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were astonished at His doctrine." "(1Ti 4:16) Give attention to yourself and to the doctrine; continue in them, for doing this, you will both deliver yourself and those hearing you."
6. LOADED LANGUAGE. A new vocabulary emerges within the context of the group. Group members "think" within the very abstract and narrow parameters of the group's doctrine. The terminology sufficiently stops members from thinking critically by reinforcing a "black and white" mentality. Loaded terms and clich�s prejudice thinking.
7. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON. Pre-group experience and group experience are narrowly and decisively interpreted through the absolute doctrine, even when experience contradicts the doctrine.
8. DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE. Salvation is possible only in the group (Christianity). Those who leave the group are doomed.
Any group that has most or all of these points is a destructive mind control cult.
CHRISTIAN COERCIVE PERSUASION IS NOT PEACEFUL PERSUASION
Christian programs identified with the above-listed seven tactics have in common the elements of attempting to greatly modify a person's self-concept, perceptions of reality, and interpersonal relations. When successful in inducing these changes, coercive thought reform programs also, among other things, create the potential forces necessary for exercising undue influence over a person's independent decision-making ability, and even for turning the individual into a deployable agent for the organization's benefit without the individual's meaningful knowledge or consent.
Christian Coercive Persuasion programs are effective because individuals experiencing the deliberately planned severe stresses they generate can only reduce the pressures by accepting the system or adopting the behaviors being promulgated by the purveyors of the coercion program. The relationship between the person and the coercive persuasion tactics are DYNAMIC in that while the force of the pressures, rewards, and punishments brought to bear on the person are considerable, they do not lead to a stable, meaningfully SELF-CHOSEN reorganization of beliefs or attitudes. Rather, they lead to a sort of coerced compliance and a situationally required elaborate rationalization, for the new conduct. With this being said the mind will reconstruct its reality and will view everything through this new reality. The construct of this new reality, to the new convert, is perfect and whole and beautiful even though it is psychologically devastating and logically contradictory. The Christian mind cannot see its own blind-spots. It sees no contradictions, no dangers, no imperfections, yet this is the Matrix that is the Christian Coercion Persuasion Program.
Once again, in order to maintain the new attitudes or "decisions," sustain the rationalization, and continue to unduly influence a person's behavior over time, coercive tactics must be more or less CONTINUOUSLY applied, thus the need to be a consistent member of a local church or Christian "body". A fiery, "hell and damnation" guilt-ridden sermon from the pulpit once a month, an hour of bible study within the New Testament on sanctification once a week, or other single instances of the so-called peaceful persuasions do not constitute the "necessary chords and orchestration" of a SEQUENCED, continuous, COORDINATED, and carefully selected PROGRAM of surreptitious coercion, as found in the comprehensive program of Christian Coercive Persuasion.
Looking like peaceful persuasion is precisely what makes Christian coercive persuasion less likely to attract attention or to mobilize opposition. It is also part of what makes it such a devastating control technology. Victims of coercive persuasion have: no signs of physical abuse, convincing rationalizations for the radical or abrupt changes in their behavior, a convincing "sincerity", and/or they have been changed so gradually that they don't oppose it because they usually aren't even aware of it.
Deciding if coercive persuasion was used requires case-by-case careful analysis of all the influence techniques used and how they were applied. By focusing on the medium of delivery and process used, not necessarily the message itself, and on the critical differences, not the coincidental similarities, which system was used becomes clear. The Influence Continuum helps make the difference between peaceful persuasion and coercive persuasion easier to distinguish.
Not all tactics used in a Christian coercive persuasion type environment will always be coercive. Some tactics of an innocuous or cloaking nature will be mixed in.
Not all individuals exposed to Christian coercive persuasion or thought reform programs are effectively coerced or converted into becoming Believers.
How individual suggestibility, psychological and physiological strengths, weakness, and differences react with the degree of severity, continuity, and comprehensiveness in which the various tactics and content of a coercive persuasion program are applied, determine the program's effectiveness and/or the degree of severity of damage caused to its victims.
WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA OF THE CHRISTIAN COERCIVE PERSUASION PROGRAM?
A). Determine if the subject individual held enough knowledge and volitional capacity to make the decision to change his or her ideas or beliefs.
B). Determine whether that individual did, in fact, adopt, affirm, or reject those ideas or beliefs on his own.
C). Then, if necessary, all that should be examined is the behavioral processes used, not ideological content. One needs to examine only the behavioral processes used in their "conversion." Each alleged coercive persuasion situation should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The characteristics of coercive persuasion programs are severe, well-understood, and they are not accidental.
Christian Coercive Persuasion is not a religious practice, it is a control technology. It is not a belief or ideology, it is a technological process.
As a PROCESS, it can be examined by experts on its technology COMPLETELY SEPARATE from any idea or belief content, similar to examining the technical process of hypnotic induction distinct from the meaning or value of the post-hypnotic suggestions.
Examining PROCESSES in this manner can not violate First Amendment religious protections.
Christian Coercive Persuasion is antithetical to the First Amendment. It is the unfair manipulation of other's biological and psychological weaknesses and susceptibilities. It is a psychological FORCE technology, not of a free society, but of a criminal or totalitarian society.
Any organization using coercive persuasion on its members as a CENTRAL practice that also claims to be a religion is turning the SANCTUARY of the First Amendment into a fortress for psychological assault. It is a contradiction of terms and should be "disestablished."
Coercive persuasion is a subtle, compelling psychological force which attacks an even more fundamental and important freedom than our "freedom of religion." ITS REPREHENSIBILITY AND DANGER IS THAT IT ATTACKS OUR SELF-DETERMINISM AND FREE WILL, OUR MOST FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOMS.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)