Message Cult Mind Control: Education:
There are moments that I will never will forget when I first began working with escapees from the "Message" mind control cult. Not knowing much about the strategies employed by destructive cults, I was armed with very little advice on how to cope with the many problems they would face in life after having left William Branham's Pentecostal-style religious cult. One of those problems was education.
One of the first young women who contacted this website told us that her favorite "new freedom" was reading. In her cult community, reading books outside of those contained in the leather bindings of the Bible was strictly forbidden. Combined with the cults forbiddance of all sorts of entertainment, she desperately wanted to read something fun and lighthearted. She wanted to learn about culture, history, people, and life in general. But she was confined to learning about cultures from over two-thousand years ago from only a religious standpoint. So she began to sneak books into the house, and read them in the closet using a flashlight. According to her testimony, when she was caught reading another book, she was severely punished. And corporal punishment continued until it became something much worse.
By and large, the women of the cult are uneducated. There are a large number of women who have a 12th grade education through either high school diploma or G.E.D, but only a small minority have higher education. And those who do are typically the daughters of pastors or "big-name" men in the cult. When one expands the selection from the United States to other parts of the world, the percentage of educated cult women becomes much smaller.
There are parts of the world where access to education is not so freely available. We must consider the cult's strategy of indoctrinating developing nations whose educational system is in its early stages of growth. But even in some of the larger cities where school is an option, it is forbidden by women in the cult.
As I worked with men and women from around the world, this became a huge problem. In many mind control cults, those who leave the group are "shunned" or "ex-communicated" from friends and family. Their entire support group starts imploding the very moment they ask the first question concerning one of William Branham's failed prophecies. The level of control is so severe that we have seen cases of men who pushed their wives to divorce. Even though they fully believed in Christ (were a Christian), they fully disagreed with placing their faith in William Branham (Were not a Branhamite).
One of the first questions I'm asked when a person leaves this Pentecostal-style religious cult is, "If I still believe in Jesus Christ when I leave, will my family and friends abandon me like yours did?" To which I respond, "Is this a Christian group?" If they were a Christian religion, would they not accept you with open arms if you disagreed with believing in things that were simply not true? They cannot, unless they are Christian. And the vast majority ex-members have encountered are not. I do believe that there ARE some in the cult who are Christian, but from my personal experience, this accounts for a very small percentage. And usually, they came in later in life, not yet realizing that they are supposed to be Branhamite instead of Christian.
When a person with limited education leaves this destructive cult, they have almost no support. Instead of emotional support from family, they suddenly find their family to be the primary cause of their need for emotional support. Many of the women do not work, and are in desperate need of financial support.
One young lady I first worked with was living out of her car. Her parents had told her that she was no longer welcome in the home, and until she forced herself to believe William Branham -- even though she was a Christian -- she was on her own. Her testimony detailed a very harsh journey to find new friends and new family, all while trying to find work with no education.
As I am working with other Christian organizations to explain the difference between Branhamism and Christianity, education almost always comes up in our conversations. Once they realize that this was also a doomsday cult, it is very easy for them to compare the structure to other doomsday cults of the past. In general, doomsday cult structures speak very negatively about education. If the world is ending tomorrow, why would you want an education?
Worse, William Branham indoctrinated his following to believe that education was the "mark of the antichrist." Many cult churches regurgitate this teaching during their Sunday sermons:
As I made a remark last night, I felt it sweep over the audience; it kind of had a funny feeling when it returned. But when I said, "Education has been the mark of antichrist all through the ages."â€¦ Education is the worst enemy the Gospel ever had.
Branham, 62-0725 - A Greater Than Solomon Is Here
It takes some time before an ex-member realizes that this teaching was contrary to scripture. To begin helping them realize that they will not be condemned to hell for learning, I remind them of the story of Daniel and the Children of Israel. They were specifically chosen because they were educated:
Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
Inferior education is a problem addressed in Steven Hassan's book, "Combating Mind Control." Having worked with hundreds of ex-cult members around the world, Hassan has seen the same pattern in other mind control cults that we have seen in the "Message" mind control cult:
Children typically receive an inferior education, if any. Like their parents, they are taught that the world is a hostile, evil place, and they are forced to depend on cult doctrine to understand reality. Although they may be regarded as the future of the group, they are also usually seen as a hindrance to the immediate demands of the cult's "work."
- Steven Hassan. Combating Cult Mind Control
Stay tuned for more!
Combating Cult Mind Control (Second Edition): http://amzn.to/1NCnN45
Profile of "The Message" on Freedom Of Mind Resource Center: https://freedomofmind.com/Info/infoDet.php?id=883&title=The_Message