Message Cult Mind Control - Releasing Fear of Armageddon:
Most former members of the "Message," the mind control cult following of William Branham, struggle to release their programmed fear of Branham's version of the apocalypse and find a normal, healthy understanding of the Christian Bible as it relates to the End of Days. Though most Christians believe that a time will come when time on earth will be no more, their understanding is very different than that of a doomsday cult. Rather than sermons specifically designed to instill fear into the hearts, non-doomsday-cult pastors have a message of peace that leads to an excitement at what is coming.
Children in these destructive cults are especially terrified. Not yet fully programmed, and at an age where they should be carefree and full of life, they find themselves forced to be full of fear that life as they know it will end. And not just their lives -- life of their friends will end, painfully and in horrific torture if they are not part of the cult. Children, not understanding the bigger picture, have a simple understanding: If they go to the same church, they live. If the do not, they die, painfully.
Though it is a process that takes time, this constant fear of Branham's doomsday can be released. Sometimes it requires counseling, and many times it can be released through help of a support group or therapeutic church community. For the most part, this fear can be replaced with more information and a better understanding of two things: Other doomsday cults and what they believe, and doctrinal study of what other Christians believe with regards to the apocalyptic passages of the Bible.
Also helpful are testimonies of others who survived a doomsday cult. When I first read through the many testimonies given in Steven Hassan's book, "Combating Cult Mind Control," it was as though I were reading my own life story in almost each and every testimony -- even though many of the cults they escaped were different. One in particular caught my eye. Many aspects of his testimony matches feedback we have received from other former members who escaped the "Message" cult. It is not surprising, considering that the group this testimony describes is the Jehovah's Witnesses, which are very similar to the "Message" in both doctrine and structure.
Here is the full testimony, from the book "Combating Cult Mind Control:
When I first met him, Lloyd was blogging on the Internet under the name John Cedars, as he was buying time to develop an exit strategy from the Watch Tower Society. He has a huge online following and is responsible for helping thousands of people reassess their obedience to this aberrant Christian group. Their Governing Body's policy against blood transfusions, established in 1945, is a non-Biblical and erroneous interpretation of passages of the Bible that has led to countless deaths and needless suffering.
For all the victims of Watchtower ideology, Armageddon is a real event that could strike at any moment. It is a time when divine forces will be unleashed to kill pretty much everyone who isn't a Jehovah's Witness, and the idea that Armageddon is "just around the corner" has been instilled in Witnesses of all ages for decades. The level of phobia indoctrination of this group, bolstered by their numerous false prophecies over the decades, restricts members from higher education, sports, voting, Christmas and birthday celebrations, and promotes total dependency. Lloyd Evans got his first taste of this when he was a child. As part of his family-worship evening, his parents orchestrated a fake phone call, reporting to
Lloyd and his sister that the Great Tribulation (the prelude to Armageddon) had started. Lloyd ran upstairs to pack his vital belongings, because the family had to flee with other Witnesses to escape the authorities under Satan's control. Only when panic-stricken Lloyd came back downstairs could he tell from the smiles on his parents' faces that this had been some sort of macabre joke.
By the time Lloyd was 20, he had started to see glitches in this high-control pseudo-religious group. But this formative awakening was put on hold when Lloyd's mother died of cancer in 2001, when he was 21.
When Lloyd was 25, he fulfilled one of his mother's dying wishes, by attending a two-month course designed to train young Witness men to better serve the organization. Within three years of graduating, he was promoted to the position of elder in his local congregation.
A year later, in 2009, Lloyd withdrew as an elder and decided that he and his wife would move to Croatia, to be near her parents. For the first year Lloyd attended the local meetings and tried to settle into his new congregation. However, due to the language barrier, he could no longer understand what was being taught at the meetings and gradually unplugged from his indoctrination. And he started to ask himself, "What do I believe?" Doubts from his youth began to resurface.
It wasn't long before Lloyd realized he no longer believed Jehovah's Witnesses were God's organization.
The more Lloyd awakened from his indoctrination, the more curious he became. He visited websites set up by ex-Witnesses. Though he had been taught to intensely fear so-called "apostate" websites, he found many of them informative and not spiteful, as he had been led to believe. He also read the book Crisis of Conscience, by former Governing Body member Raymond Franz, which convinced him that Jehovah's Witnesses were being deceived by their leaders.
Curious to find out how others felt, he set up the website jwsurvey.org to survey current and former Witnesses for their opinions. After three years, he learned that almost all Witnesses who did objective research disagreed with the teachings of their leaders.
Lloyd and his wife have since formally disassociated themselves as Witnesses, which prompted many of their family members to shun them. Though they admit it is extremely painful, Lloyd and his wife take comfort in knowing their daughter will grow up without experiencing the heartache of being shunned by her parents for ideological reasons.
- 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