Welcome to the final post on the series The Eight Marks of a Mind Control Cult. In this post we will be reviewing the mark called “dispensing of existence.” The purpose of the series is not to give the reader an exhaustive discussion of these marks, but to whet the appetite of the reader into doing further research to engage in further counter-cult ministry, identification of these sorts of groups and how they recruit, and lastly as a warning to leaders of groups that may be employing these techniques. If the reader desires a comprehensive discussion of these eight markers, then I recommend the following: Robert J. Lifton’s work Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism and Steven Hassan’s book Combating Cult Mind Control.
Dispensing of Existence
Basically this is when the organization determines who has the “right” to exist and who does not. There are Greek Orthodox cults that view Bolsheviks, Turks, and Jews as unworthy of existence. Outsiders in general are unworthy of existence unless they join the particular organization. There are “border security” groups that view “anchor babies” (children born in the USA to illegal alien parents) as unworthy of existence. This sort of “dispensing of existence” is seen in the current rhetorical extremism that dominates political discussion in the USA. However, the most extreme example of “dispensing of existence” is seen in The Church of Scientology and its “fair game” doctrine.
This “fair game” policy was defined by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard as a policy and practice to punish and harass critics of Scientology both within and without the Scientology organization. This policy has resulted in the infiltration of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and other U.S. governmental agencies in the 1970s. “Fair game” has also been responsible for private investigations, character assassinations, and legal action against the church’s critics.
Another example of “dispensing of existence” can be found in the Jehovah’s Witness technique they call “theocratic warfare.” This “theocratic warfare” is the withholding of truth from those that are unworthy of receiving it, and/or blatantly lying to outsiders when it is deemed necessary. This can be seen in divorce cases where one of the spouses is a JW and the other isn’t. The Watchtower was an internal document, and legal staff that specialize in these sorts of cases. The document encourages children and adults to lie to the court about what the Watchtower teaches regard children’s participation in sports and higher education. While JWs and the Watchtower place a high degree of importance on personal honesty in their lives, the extent of that honesty ends when the reputation of the Watchtower comes into question.
The organization decides who will and will not perish at the final battle of good and evil. I can remember the sleepless nights I had when I first left the Jehovah’s Witnesses over my doom in the battle of Armageddon. In this climatic battle, all who are not active (participating in the various meetings and door-to-door work) Jehovah’s Witnesses are destroyed by Jehovah-God.
The leadership of the cult determines what books are accurate and which books are biased. For instance, The Watchtower has used the translation of the spiritualist Johannes Greber in the past because this particular translation agreed with Watchtower doctrine. It was used as support for the Watchtower’s New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures rendering of anti-Trinitarian mistranslation of John 1:1. Greber admitted that he believed that spirits “helped him in his translation.” It is interesting to note, that the Watchtower and rank and file JWs fear anything even remotely linked to the occult so much that many refuse to buy items from neighborhood yard sales out of the fear that they may be “demonized”.
Further, family members that leave the cult are often completely cut-off from any contact with the family that remains in the group. These people, in the JW paradigm, are spiritually dead, and will eventually meet physical death either by natural causes, accident or in the battle of Armageddon. These persons have no hope of salvation for any person outside the world of the JWs.
Because of this radical cutting off that many members actually fear being expelled from the group. I am aware of a number of individuals within the JWs that while no longer believing any of the Watchtower’s teachings will not leave the group due to the radical shunning that the JWs employ on former members.
The dispensing of existence can also be seen in some extremist political groups. If a person does not “toe the line” of the leadership they are deemed as less than a true believer in that particular political view. It’s actually quite comical to see this sort of mindset being played out on the various cable television news outlets on either the left or right of the political spectrum. You often hear that you must believe one political dogma or another in order to be a true member of that particular group.
This is the last of the eight marks. However I will address some practical issues in the next post relating preparing yourself to combat these techniques.