Message Cult Mind Control - Black Or White:
When people begin their journey out of the "Message" cult following of William Branham, they suddenly find themselves faced with a large number of decisions that they never had to make before. Many, bearing the weight of the cult mindset, begin asking the wrong type of question: can I DO this or can I DO that. After having spent many years in a cult with many extra-biblical rules and boundaries, they begin examining the surface and not what lies beneath. Others, having a more analytical mind, find themselves asking a better question: can I THINK this or can I THINK that. Usually, these types of questions are centered around theological issues or even religion as a whole.
But in both cases, the ex-cult member quickly learns that they are not free. Though they may not attend a cult church, and though they may not feel threatened by cult doctrine, they are still bound by cult mindset. The authentic self has been re-wired. The authentic self wants to think, to consider, to learn. And through programmed response, the cult identity's defense mechanism tells its victim that there are still boundaries around the types of questions that they can ask themselves.
Sadly, this is sometimes worsened by ex-cult members who are supporting them. Having been of the same cult mindset, and continually struggling with the same issues, some ex-cult supporters begin to proselytize the flavor of Christianity that helped them after escaping. And they do so in a very black-or-white manner, telling a new cult escapee that their understanding of specific doctrine is right while all others are "heresy" or "evil."
This problem lies within the cult identity. The cult identity that has been implanted, if viewed as an actual person, has matured very little in most cult members. To mature, one must experience, and to learn from experience, one must face failures to learn from those mistakes. One must not only learn supporting ideologies, but opposing ones as well. And by nature, cults limit this growth through control of information. The dual identity is typically unbalanced. While the authentic self may be advanced in years, the cult identity may be relatively young. Picture a fifty-year-old man who is being given sets of instructions by a fourteen-year-old boy. The older half of the dual identity has the experience to make logical decisions, but the younger half has limited what types of decisions can be made. This results in a very black-and-white understanding.
"Even the most complex cult doctrines ultimately reduce reality into two basic poles: black versus white; good versus evil; spiritual world versus physical world; us versus them. There is never room for pluralism. The doctrine allows no outside group to be recognized as valid (or good, or godly, or real), because that would threaten the cult's monopoly on truth. There is also no room for interpretation or deviation. If the doctrine doesn't provide an answer directly, then the member must ask a leader. If the leader doesn't have an answer, they can always brush off the question as unimportant or irrelevant."
- Steven Hassan. Combating Cult Mind Control
But the reality is that we live in a very "gray" world where "black-and-white" cannot apply to all situations. What is acceptable under certain situations is not always acceptable under others. And what is forbidden at certain times is not always forbidden at others. From a theological standpoint, we live in a world where many opposing viewpoints are supported by men and women who have spent lifetimes studying their viewpoint. And they have researched men who for centuries debated those same theological viewpoints. both sides can produce scriptures to back their belief system. Ultimately, this resulted in many Christian denominations of faith, all followers of Christ. And as the Bible instructs, those not in "black-or-white" mindset enjoy discussions with others with opposing viewpoints, letting "iron sharpen iron."
To those who experienced the undue influence of a mind control cult, this feels "dirty." Having been indoctrinated to believe that one single man had all the answers, and that his version of truth was the only version of truth, they have been implanted with a very black-or-white belief system. And now, having left a cult, they look for absolutes that can never be found.
The fastest pathway towards healing is to help new escapees understand that it is not about what you can DO and what you cannot DO. And it's not about what you can THINK and what you cannot THINK. It is that you must ALWAYS think. You are free to examine, and free to understand. Just because one studies opposing viewpoints does not mean that one will mistakenly fall victim to those viewpoints -- if balanced. I have friends in Christian apologetics who spent years of times studying atheist and agnostic literature. They will tell you that they better understand how to help people, having learned the other side. Yet, to an ex-"Message" follower, their path of study itself is "evil."
Normal children, not having been indoctrinated from birth in a mind control cult, learn these things by experiencing. They test what they cannot do, to learn what they can. The only difference is that now, with the balance of an adult, the ex-cult member can make better decisions.
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