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The Black and White

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The Black and White:

As cult followers submit to behavior control, their viewpoint begins to shift in many areas. The central figure becomes more dominant in the belief system, surpassing all other elders, teachers, ministers in authority. Since their behavior has shifted to match the opinion of the cult leader, it begins to feel "right" while behavior condemned by the cult feels "wrong". Mimicking the behavior of others, cult followers slowly align themselves to peers. Those who fully align are praised, while those who are not fully aligned are scorned. This results in a black-or-white mentality. There is only a "right way" and a "wrong way", and anything in between is considered "wrong".

This presents a problem with cult groups having multiple branches. As the behavior patterns of members in one geographical region align, they may not be fully aligned with members in another geographical region. While similar in many ways, the behavior patterns are not a black-and-white, all-or-nothing match. There are many shades of gray. Members who transfer from one region to another find themselves at odds with the unmatched behavior patterns at their new location.

Those who escape cults are faced with great difficulty over their programmed, black-or-white views of scripture, doctrine, politics, opinion, and more. We live in a world filled with varying shades of gray, each one based on ideologies that can be justified. Black-and-white views permit only two answers: true or false. Yet we are faced with choices so complex that both answers are weighted with numerous reasons why the "white" choice can also be "black". From scriptures that can be viewed in different ways based upon translation to opinions that are culturally charged, cult escapees feel helpless when first presented with difficult choices. As they gain experience making those choices, however, they feel more compassion and respect for other humans. Decisions of "gray" are for more difficult than programmed black-or-white.