One of our readers, D.M., submitted this article and they wish to remain anonymous.

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With the “me too” campaign being highlighted on social media recently, I decided it’s time to stop the code of silence on this issue.

I just finished reading Daughter of Gloriavale and I was reminded that Christian cults are similar once you examine their conduct and core values:

(I speak from experience)

1. They have been exclusively chosen by God for a very important purpose.

2. They have more insight / revelation than other churches.

3. They have a strong leader who is to be obeyed and honoured and never to be questioned.

4. The leader claims to hear from God on behalf of the group.

5. Adherents are told to be “under the covering” or “submissive” to the leaders.

6. People who are seen to be “rebellious” or “independent” are disciplined, shunned or expelled.

7. There is a “group think” mentality and individual opinions are seen as causing disunity.

8. Any one opposing them is opposing God himself and are doing damage to the church.

9. People are categorised according to the level of commitment and money giving.

10. No such thing as confidentiality. Personal information is shared and interwoven into sermons.

11. People dobb other people to the leadership.

12. Leadership controls the relationships and tell people who that can and cannot associate with.

13. Sermons (or more like brainwashing sessions) and ministry sessions are designed to make people codependent on their leaders.

14. People are constantly told through the preaching that they are flawed. No one is ever good enough (except the leaders of course).

15. There’s little understanding of Gods grace and Christian values of love and compassion etc.

16. They have their own language and use terms and phrases exclusive to their group.

17. They do not utilise services outside their own flock (counsellors, psychologists etc.)

18. The leaders say horrible things about people who have left (eg: they are going to hell, or they have mental health issues etc.)

19. They take single Bible verses and use them out of context and create rules around them.

20. Leaving is traumatic because the people had become like an extended family. Suddenly they become aloof and a smear campaign is launched to tarnish that persons reputation.

21. Discipline and rebuke are widely practiced often during sessions where the leader acts in an intimidating manner.

22. There are codes of conduct and unwritten rules that you need to adhere to in order to become in the “in group”.

And that’s just the beginning.

There’s brainwashing, love-boming, the judging, manipulation, control, and so many meetings and expectations to be heavily involved in programs, outreach and serving.

But just like other forms of abuse, we need to address it! Gone are the days when we brush this abuse under the carpet. We must talk about it!

Best advice I ever got was “head for the hills and don’t look back”.

There are other options. There are safe Christian groups and people to interact with who hold the Christian faith dear to their hearts without all the soul destroying practices of these cults. And there is also the option of having a break from the whole church scene altogether. Getting to know God for oneself without a mediator is very freeing. Remember it’s your life. Make choices that bring peace, joy and happiness.

I encourage the essence of the true Christian faith, and the values which Jesus Christ demonstrated when he came to earth. He mixed with the lowly, had compassion on the poor, had meals with some interesting people- but most of all He loved.