The following article is from http://www.esama.ca
If you suspect the group you are in is harmful, but are not sure, ask yourself these questions:
- do they claim to have a special corner on the truth, something no other groups has?
- are you told to not question what is being taught, as the leadership are godly, honest, have divine authority and you must trust them?
- are you discouraged from asking questions as to why members have left, and expected to accept the reasons the group leadership gives you?
- do they put down other churches, groups, etc, while pointing out their faults and errors to build themselves up? do they use peoples faults and sins as examples of what to do and what not to do?
- are you made to feel your failures, as though your performance is not up to par to their righteous standards?
- do they recommend for you to be around their people, expecting you to attend all group activities? if you do not, are you are questioned about your spirituality or dedication?
- do they stop you from reading anything negative about themselves?
- do they call those who fall away enemies, dogs, or cancer, even using examples from the Bible or other such materials?
- do they place an emphasis on evil and the devil, declaring that the world outside is a threat to the group?
- do they defend themselves in every area?
- do they give importance to a spiritual goal, such as enlightenment, godliness, salvation, that has no real tangible way of being measured?
- do they operate in humility, or seem arrogant, and make demands on you to obey, using such statements such as “real believers obey without question or if you really were a devoted follower you would do such and such"?
Be aware of:
- an instant bonding or friendship without even knowing you
- being told you have a special calling or potential and that if you join you will move further ahead; flattery is used often in cults
- when you ask questions about the history of the group, the answers are vague or avoided altogether
- feeling that something is being hidden from you
Cults will always divide the family unit instead of bringing them together. They will make you choose between God and their church. They use scriptures such as: "Jesus came to bring a sword, not peace" or "one must give up brothers, sisters, wife, and house for the kingdom and be a true follower". Children often become the most hurt because of strict rules enforced on them. They lose their childhood and are deeply affected, being unable to adjust later on in life. Religious systems that are not balanced can be socially and psychologically disastrous for innocent children.