Saturday, August 28, 2010


I posted three polls in this blog (see the right panel). They are similar to those in my other blog.

The questions are:
1. Have you ever been involved in a cult or in an abusive church?
2. Has any of your family members, relatives or friends been in a cult or abusive church?
3. Have you got a therapy or counseling after you left a cult?

Unlike Wordpress, Blogger poll gadget does not allow to use "Other" answer option. Also, since I know that some ex-members of Sufi groups read my blog, I added a special option for them in the first poll.

All the polls are completely anonymous. Multiple choices are allowed. I will be thankful to all the people who will participate in the polls. Also, you can leave your comments regarding these polls. All the suggestions will be appreciated.

Update. I created a new poll. The question is: "What subjects are you interested in?" You can mark as many variants as you like. I am interested to know what subjects readers of my blog consider interesting and will greatly appreciate your voting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anti-Cult Activism and Anti-Cult Leaders: A Warning

When I just began to communicate with people in the anti-cult community, I believed that all the anti-cult activists really want to help people. I was too naive. People who do anti-cult work may have various other intentions: to make money, to get leading positions (to become "anti-cult leaders"), and so on. Some of anti-cultists continue to behave as cult members. This phenomenon is known as "anti-cult cult."

There is a certain person who believes that only he knows what should be done in the anti-cult field and nobody else knows it. In principle, such statements already sound as a bad sign because there are so many people in the anti-cult field and it exists for so long time that it is hard to believe that one person can invent something really new. Of course, the statements that somebody knows something that nobody else knows are very usual for cults and cult leaders. This is why I consider this to be a warning sign.

This person who has the great and unique ideas about the anti-cult work tries to create a new anti-cult organization on the basis of his great and unique vision and condemns other anti-cult organizations. In principle, there is nothing wrong with creating a new anti-cult organization. I am definitely for plurality of opinions in the anti-cult community. However, there are some other warning signs with how this person is creating his new organization. I believe that when honest people invite others to join them in some projects, they first give the full information about their projects and then ask people if they want to join or not. The person I am writing about does not do that. Instead he tries to involve people into his organization without their informed agreement. He tried to involve me and, at least, one more person this way. He kept saying about his great ideas, but all his sayings were too vague. He asked me several times whether I would like to listen about his ideas and I always agreed. However, he never told me what his great plan was, just some vague words and "pieces" of the "full picture." Later, to my great surprise, I learned that he believed that I joined his project, although I never gave my agreement to join it. I just gave my agreement to learn what he could say about his project. There were some warning signs that he was using some manipulations in order to involve me and another person into his project and I did not feel good about it. Now I know that he did use manipulations.

Although he pretended to be a good person who cares for people, later, I learned many negative things about his behavior in the past and in the present. For many years, this person has been trying to gain a high position in the anti-cult community, to become "anti-cult leader." So, I believe that he attempts to create a new organization in order to be the leader and to have some special position, not in order to help people. In addition, this person has done many evil things such as violation of his professional ethics.

I no longer associate with him in any way and this is my final decision. His activity harms people and does not help them. I do not want to participate in it and I do not want to be exploited again.

However, I think that I need to warn people who want to participate in anti-cult activity. Not everyone in the anti-cult field has good intentions. Some people want to make more money (I know some of them), some people want to have authority and high position, some have other intentions. If somebody invites you to join an anti-cult organization or participate in anti-cult activity, do your best to find as much information about this person, organization, and project as possible before you make a decision to participate. Be careful if somebody does not want to provide you the information or claims to have a unique vision, unique ideas, or unique plan. Do not allow "anti-cult leaders" to exploit you and misuse your desire to help people.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gay Muslims

Gay Muslims (2006) is a Channel 4 documentary about how the experiences of five lesbian and gay Muslims challenge the heterosexual bias within their British communities and illustrate the diversity within Islam. (From Wikipedia)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spiritual Abuse: Videos

Video series Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual Abuse: What is Spiritual Abuse? (Part 1)

Spiritual Abuse: What Are The Signs? (Part 2)

Spiritual Abuse: What Are The Signs? (Part 3)

Spiritual Abuse: Who Joins Abusive Ministries? (Part 4)

Spiritual Abuse: The Effects of Spiritual Abuse (Part 5)

Spiritual Abuse: The Effects of Spiritual Abuse (Part 6)

Spiritual Abuse: The Effects of Spiritual Abuse (Part 7)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spiritual Abuse: Definition

Wikipedia article defines spiritual abuse this way:
Spiritual abuse occurs when a person in religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice misleads and maltreats another person in the name of God or church or in the mystery of any spiritual concept. Spiritual abuse often refers to an abuser using spiritual or religious rank in taking advantage of the victim's spirituality (mentality and passion on spiritual matters) by putting the victim in a state of unquestioning obedience to an abusive authority.

The definition given by Jeff VanVonderen who is the author of this term:
Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly Godly purposes which are really their own.

According to the book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen:
“Spiritual abuse can occur when a leader uses his or her spiritual position to control or dominate another person.” (p.20)

“Spiritual abuse can also occur when spirituality is used to make others live up to a ‘spiritual standard’.” (p.21)

Spiritual abuse occurs when shame is “used in an attempt to get someone to support a belief, or…to fend off legitimate questions”. (p.22)

“When your words and actions tear down another, or attack or weaken a person's standing as a Christian—to gratify you, your position or your beliefs, while at the same time weakening or harming another—that is spiritual abuse.” (p.23)

“There are spiritual systems in which…the members are there to meet the needs of the leaders… These leaders attempt to find fulfillment through the religious performance of the very people whom they are there to serve and build. This is an inversion of the body of Christ. It is spiritual abuse.” (p.23)

The authors define the following characteristics of spiritually abusive systems:
1. Power-Posturing
2. Performance Preoccupation
3. Unspoken Rules
4. Lack of Balance (Extreme Objectivism and Extreme Subjectivism)
5. Paranoia
6. Misplaced Loyalty
7. Secretive

In his interview, Jeff VanVonderen explained how he and his co-author Dave Johnson came to this term:
What we did was to stumble across some language that worked for people. It’s a language that matches the feelings and wounds that many people have experienced. We give people a way to talk about this kind of thing. But spiritual abuse is certainly nothing new. Spiritual abuse has been here since biblical times. We just came across a way of talking about it in our time, and put it into a package that made sense to a lot of people.

There is a video series entitled Spiritual Abuse: An Introduction by Jeff VanVonderen:
Lecture 1: Healthy and Abusive Spiritual Dynamics (55 min)
Lecture 2: The Abusive Religious System (59 min)
Lecture 3: How We Get Hooked (60 min)

In the first of them, he said that when people use power to make others to do what they want, it is abuse. When people use God's name in order to make others what they want, it is spiritual abuse.

The definition given by David Henke:
Spiritual abuse is the misuse of a position of power, leadership, or influence to further the selfish interests of someone other than the individual who needs help. Sometimes abuse arises out of a doctrinal position. At other times it occurs because of legitimate personal needs of a leader that are being met by illegitimate means. Spiritually abusive religious systems are sometimes described as legalistic, mind controlling, religiously addictive, and authoritarian.

He gives the following characteristics of spiritually abusive systems:
1. Authoritarian
2. Image Conscious
3. Suppresses Criticism
4. Perfectionistic
5. Unbalanced

Two other famous books on spiritual abuse were written by Ronald Enroth:
Churches that Abuse
Recovering from Churches that Abuse

In the first of them, he listed the following characteristics of spiritual abuse:
1. Control-oriented leadership
2. Spiritual elitism, perceived persecution
3. Manipulation of members, fostering dependency
4. Life-style rigidity
5. Emphasis on experience
6. Harsh discipline of members, information control
7. Painful exit processes

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Documentary Videos on Gender Identity and Intersex Conditions

The Gender Puzzle

Gender Unknown

Intersex (Is It a Boy or a Girl?)


Dr. Money and the Boy with no Penis (The story of David Reimer, the boy who was turned into a girl)

Brain Sex (part 1)

Brain Sex (part 2)

Brain Sex (BBC video)