Wednesday, September 7, 2011
1) missing the time for renewal of his registration, though later he had it renewed;
2) public announcement that he is going to leave his profession, though until now he is listed in NYS board database as a registered LMSW.
Also, his recent leaving NYS for Indiana looks similar to his leaving California for NYS in mid-1990s after a conflict and split with Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer over The Margaret Thaler Singer Foundation, Inc., a non-profit of which he was executive director.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Update. Knapp made some changes on his website. So, it is currently not accessible at its usual URL http://thechsca.org/. However, it is accessible at http://22.214.171.124/. So, I added the working links to his website in parentheses in bold.
Knapp posted a new article regarding Monica on the CHSCA website: http://thechsca.org/blogs/reckless-speculation/item/145-monica-pignotti-bfw-120-days-same-subject-and-counting (http://126.96.36.199/blogs/reckless-speculation/item/145-monica-pignotti-bfw-120-days-same-subject-and-counting). This article is actually their private correspondence that took place on May 2, 2011. As usual, his comments are filled with disinformation.
More stomach-churning drama, going on for the last 22 months!!! The same accusations, threats, and tortored logic—nearly verbatim.
All the emails below his statement were sent on May 2, 2011. The next set of their private correspondence posted by Knapp began on August 25 (http://188.8.131.52/blogs/reckless-speculation/item/139-monica-pignotti-phd-is-this-cyberharrassment??). Nothing before May 2 and nothing between May 2 and August 25. Where is "drama, going on for the last 22 months"? No evidences. Just empty, groundless, and false accusations.
Carol did not report to me. When I set it up, I gave each of us one vote. The two of them had the power to overrule me at any point. So, in some senses, I was responsible to her just as much as she was responsible to either me or Lema.
Probably, first, I need to explain what he probably means here. In January 2010, he set a forum for anti-cult activists on his Knapp Family Counseling website. He invited some people to join this forum, including Carol and me. In March 2010, Carol and I became co-moderators of this forum and in April or May 2010 we became co-administrators. The three of us discussed together many things related to the forum and we voted for the decisions regarding the forum. However, Carol's and my position as co-administrators was not equal to Knapp's because of many reasons. The last word on any decisions was always up to him. Sometimes he was not available for a long time and we waited for him without carrying out our decisions. In order to join the forum, new members had to send him their personal information and this information was available only to him. The forum was located at his website, not on a service like Yahoo! Groups, Google Groups or another public service. The software used for his forum was phpBB3. Unlike, for example, Yahoo! Groups, phpBB3 has special privileges for the forum creator. Forum creator cannot be banned by other administrators and only forum creator is able to delete the forum. Eventually, Knapp did delete his forum. I could not do that and I could not remove him from the forum, although I had access to all the administrative options that may be available for a person who is not a forum creator. Carol did not have access to all those options. On the other hand, he could remove us from the forum at any time.
In May or June 2010, he began to share with Carol and me about his plans to create a non-profit which is now known as the CHSCA. Its name that he used in communications with us was the Knapp Center. Although Knapp wanted me as well as Carol to join it, I have never gave my agreement to join it. The reason for this was that I was not clear about Knapp's plans regarding this organization at all. The only thing he actually said was that he had a "clear vision" of what should be done in the anti-cult community that nobody has ever seen. This is why he was planning to create a non-profit. However, I had no idea what this "clear vision" was about. This is why I had never agreed to join his non-profit. I agreed only to listen about his plans about it, but he never actually revealed them, keeping saying that he would send us business plan which he never did.
According to Knapp's words, there was some connection between Knapp's forum and his non-profit that he was going to create. I was never quite sure about it. It seemed that he considered his forum for anti-cult activists as a part of his non-profit. Moreover, he somehow implied that since Carol and I were co-administrators of his forum, we were also a part of his non-profit. However, as for me, I gave my agreement to be a co-moderator and co-administrator of his forum, but I never gave my agreement to be a part of his non-profit. It seems that Knapp did his best to get me involved into his non-profit without my understanding of what he would be and even without my desire. This actually quite bothered me and it was at this point that I began to reconsider what kind of person he is.
So, although Knapp may claim that he gave Carol and me a vote and equal position in his then future-to-be non-profit (as he kept telling us at that time), it does not make sense since I did not give my agreement to join that project. Also, Knapp told us that he wanted to create his non-profit in order to carry out his "clear vision" of what should be done in the anti-cult field. He never shared its vision with us and I do not know what it is about. So, due to this reason, Carol's and my position in his non-profit could not be equal to his.
Although he kept saying to Carol and me that he gave us the same position as his, in his last email to both of us (sent on August 1, 2011), he made it clear that we did not have the same position. We never had the same authority as he did.
So, his statement that we "had the power to overrule" him "at any point" is simply not true.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Update. Knapp made some changes on his website. So, it is currently not accessible at its usual URL http://thechsca.org/. However, it is accessible at http://184.108.40.206/. So, I added the working links to his website in parentheses in bold. In addition, he removed his posts from Facebook. However, they are still available at his website.
Knapp posted the same article about Carol Welch on Facebook: Carol Welch—Cyberstalker. One of his favorite manipulative technique is to play victim games and now he is doing this, trying to gain people's support. Here is a quote from one of his comments:
As you know, along with many, many others, including Carol Welch, I was permanently changed by my 23 years in the Transcendental Meditation organization.
I'll never be the man I was born to be.
I suffer from intermittent depression, moderate-to-severe dissociation, and although only hospitalized once for suicidality 10 years ago, the Abyss is no stranger even today.
First of all, who is the therapist and who is the client? A client hires a therapist in order to get help for his or her (client's) problems, not in order to cure the therapist from his/her problems. From NASW Code of Ethics (which Knapp is supposed to abide by):
(a) Social workers should not allow their own personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties to interfere with their professional judgment and performance or to jeopardize the best interests of people for whom they have a professional responsibility.
(b) Social workers whose personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties interfere with their professional judgment and performance should immediately seek consultation and take appropriate remedial action by seeking professional help, making adjustments in workload, terminating practice, or taking any other steps necessary to protect clients and others.
So, if Knapp has mental health problems, he has to seek professional help and take the necessary steps to protect his clients instead of trying to use his clients to help him to heal or trying to make them responsible for his mental health condition. This is an ethical violation on his side.
By the way, attacking Carol Welch who is his former client, he made, at least, two more ethical violation. From NASW Code of Ethics:
1.12 Derogatory Language
Social workers should not use derogatory language in their written or verbal communications to or about clients. Social workers should use accurate and respectful language in all communications to and about clients.
4.04 Dishonesty, Fraud, and Deception
Social workers should not participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, or deception.
He did write many lies about Carol in his article and comments.
As for his legal threatenings, they are completely empty and I do not think they deserve any attention.
After his attacks on Carol Welch, he went on attacking Monica Pignotti, MSW, PhD (for her supporting Carol) and me:
He actually posted the private correspondence between Monica and him and added his comments. Well, I think that anyone who reads what he wrote about Monica, will come to conclusion that he does have serious mental problems.
I noticed that, although he got a number of supporting comments under his Facebook post on Carol Welch, there are no comments from his supporters under his Facebook post on Monica. This probably means that he is losing supporters because they see that he has serious mental problems.
Also, his attacks on Monica who is a social worker are another ethical violation. From NASW Code of Ethics:
(a) Social workers should treat colleagues with respect and should represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues.
(b) Social workers should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues in communications with clients or with other professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include demeaning comments that refer to colleagues’ level of competence or to individuals’ attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
(c) Social workers should cooperate with social work colleagues and with colleagues of other professions when such cooperation serves the wellbeing of clients.
Although Knapp publicly announced that he is going to leave his profession, he is still listed in NYS board database as a registered LMSW:
Name : KNAPP JOHN MATTHEW
Address : BURKE NY
Profession : LICENSED MASTER SOCIAL WORK
License No: 071643
Date of Licensure : 12/01/05
Additional Qualification : Not applicable in this profession
Status : REGISTERED
Registered through last day of : 05/14
I do not know when he is going to leave his profession and whether he is going to do that at all. Until now, he is under the obligation to keep NASW Code of Ethics. However, he violated it many times.
Regarding his post about me (http://220.127.116.11/blogs/reckless-speculation/item/143-desperate-for-attention-as-ever-lema-nal-rejoins-the-attack), I really do not have much to say. Many people use various pseudonyms and nicknames in Internet, including many people in the anti-cult community. I have never stated that I live in Chechnya, but if he thinks this way, I do not care. Only blog owners, website owners, and webmasters know how many people visit their blogs or websites, unless they make this statistics public which I did not. I already replied him that his accusation of Carol in "sexual harassment" is a defamation and I have nothing to add to this. When we talked on Skype, he said that he had studied NLP because cults use it, but did not use it himself. Now he denies his own words and changes them. Well, it is a very usual behavior for him, by the way.
Update. Carol posted an excellent response on Knapp's accusations: My statements addressing John M. Knapp's allegations & accusations.
Update. Knapp made some changes on his website. So, it is currently not accessible at its usual URL http://thechsca.org/. However, it is accessible at http://18.104.22.168/. So, I added the working links to his website in parentheses in bold.
John Knapp has a habit of blaming other people for his own wrongdoings and of completely twisting the situation. However, even knowing that, I did not expect that he would attack his former client Carol Welch whose "fault" was that she filed a complaint at him to the New York State Office of Professions and wrote about her personal experience with him on her blog. Instead of admitting his wrongdoings, feeling sorry for what happened or apologizing to Carol, he prefers to attack her in his new article entitled Beware Carol Welch—Cyberstalker (http://22.214.171.124/blogs/reckless-speculation/item/138-beware-carol-welch%E2%80%94cyberstalker). This article is just full of lies and twisting the situation.
Unfortunately, these two [Carol Welch and me] have launched an incredible campaign to discredit me and to apparently have my license to practice therapy taken away. Carol Welch lodged a complaint with my licensing board last Septmember and has made false and defamatory statements in many places on the Internet, calling those clients of mine she knows at home and making false claims, and also calling colleagues, friends, and board members. <...>
I have sufficient credentials to practice counseling and therapy. Although, because I have no intention of defending against Carol's complaint to my Board, I'm likely to lose the licensure soon. Since Carol, to my knowledge, has never presented evidence of criminal behavior or ethical breaches, I feel the Office of Professions should never have entertained the complaint in the first place. <...>
Briefly, here are the false claims I know of: <...>
I have practiced unethically and traumatized a client. (Carol Welch, ad nauseum) This is the most damaging allegation, I feel. Carol Welch has submitted a complaint to my governing licensing board. I learned of this in April. The investigator from the office of the professions would not discuss the specifics of the allegations with me. So I’m not sure what to think. This investigator could hardly contain her scorn and disdain for me, whom she obviously believed had traumatized Carol intentionally. She made flat out false assertions to me regarding Carol being my client when we worked together, the illegality of practicing therapy over the Internet, and numerous other “facts” about which she could have determined the falsity for herself. Investigators are not credentialed therapists. They are clerks. They are rarely schooled in the law. Their job is simply to gather facts. Some clerks come to believe they have power—and therefore wisdom. These are very dangerous people.
Well, if, as Knapp states, Carol's accusations against him in her complaint were wrong, why did Knapp preferred not to defend himself? Why did he prefer not to present his side to the investigator?
Instead of defending himself, first, he missed the time of renewal of his registration. His registration expired on May 31, 2011, but he renewed it only in the beginning of August. Now, he states that he is going to leave the social work field because, according to his words, he is "ashamed to be associated with the field" and because of "the horrific state of the mental healing profession."
If, as he states, Carol's accusations were wrong, why did not he try to defend himself to the NYS Board, preferring to attack her from his website? Well, the reason is very simple. Her accusations are not wrong and she did present evidences of his ethical violations to the NYS Board. He is unable to refute these things. This is why he decided not to defend himself. It is much easier to attack Carol, posting lies about her on his website, because, of course, not all the readers of his website know what really happened. And it it much easier to use his website in order to accuse the investigator of believing Carol's "wrong accusations" instead of having the direct and open dialog with the investigator regarding the complaint.
Knapp's article is just full of his lies about Carol and other people. I think this is one of the worst one:
Finally, Carol’s attacks on my character started shortly after I made it clear to her that I would not engage in a sexual relationship of any kind with her, despite her oft-repeated requests after our therapeutic relationship ended.
Well, according to my understanding, Knapp and Carol never met in person. Knapp lives in New York State. Carol lives in North Caroline. Although it may be possible to practice psychotherapy through Internet, it is definitely impossible to have sexual relationship through Internet.
In addition, there is an obvious problem of timing here. Knapp indicates it as the time "after our therapeutic relationship ended." What was this time? Knapp convinced Carol that their therapeutic relationship ended before she joined his forum and became a co-moderator and co-administrator. However, their therapy sessions continued after that, though he called them "life coaching." She continued to pay him. So, in fact their therapeutic relationship ended only with the conflict. Now, could Carol possibly "make requests for sexual relationship" with Knapp after the conflict when she was seriously wounded by him and when he cut all the contacts with her? Of course, not. Could she possibly make such requests before she joined his forum or became a co-moderator and co-administrator? Of course, she could not either. Otherwise, Knapp would not have invited her to the forum and would not have asked her to be a co-moderator and co-administrator of the forum.
So, Knapp's accusation toward Carol is not only completely false, but also completely illogical. The same is with his other accusations.
Knapp accuses Carol of defamation:
I find her tactics, as I discuss below, terroristic, defamatory, and sadistically cruel. <...>
Carol has loudly proclaimed that she does not care if she is breaking defamation or slander laws saying, “I will not be silenced!” <...>
I have waited patiently for over a year for Carol to work through this, allowing defamatory, damaging, and personally devastating statement after statement go by unchecked. I thought I owed her some time to come to grips with her pain on her own.
Today, because Carol’s cyberattacks, bullying, and defamation have not stopped—for over one year, mind you—I have reported the situation to the authorities and am seeking legal recourse for relief in the irreperable damage to my emotional well-being, family life, and professional career.
However, it is Knapp who makes defamatory statements regarding Carol, not vice versa.
By the way, since he could not "prove" to the investigator that Carol's accusations of him in her complaint were "wrong," I do not think he is really able to "prove" this in the court of the law. So, his threatens are empty. In fact, he made similar legal threatens toward me over a year ago when I posted a question regarding the point we had disagreement (it was the term "spiritual trauma") in two online groups. Although I did not mention his name there and even did not imply that I had a disagreement over this point with somebody, he accused me that I was going to defame him and damage his reputations and threatened me with legal actions against me. This was another example of his empty legal threatens.
Now, here are my responses to some of "the false claims" he listed:
The CHSCA is not incorporated or is operating illegally. (Lema Nal) Our website displays verifiable information that we are a charitable nonprofit corporation in Delaware. More US companies incorporate there than any other state. It turns out the service we used to incorporate did not register us as a foreign corporation in New York. This mistake isn’t uncommon. We are applying now.
What I actually stated was that the CHSCA is not incorporated in New York State where it is apparently located. I did not check the databases of each of 50 US states to see if it was incorporated in another state. I did not make statements that it was not incorporated anywhere in the USA.
There are no people involved in the Center other than me. (Lema Nal) The staff are listed prominently on the website. Our 15-member advisory board includes nationally and internationally known figures. (There are a number of bios yet to be added.)
I never made statements that no other people, except Knapp, are involved in CHSCA. In fact, I even mentioned some of those people on my blog.
I practice NeuroLinguistic Programing or Ericksonian hypnosis unethically. (Lema Nal) I never studied NLP, don’t know how to practice it. I’ve read academic articles on hypnotism. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know why this individual claims I used NLP on him. My former supervisor is trained in NLP. Once or twice she invited me to a training. I politely declined. It’s not unusual that a practitioner supervises someone with a different theoretical perspective. I also have Republican friends. I wouldn’t vote for them.
Knapp himself admitted that he studied NLP in our last Skype conversation in the end of July, 2010. He now denies his own words.
Practicing counseling over the Internet is unethical. (Lema Nal, Carol Welch via New York State Office of the Professions investigator) Practicing distance counseling or psychiatry has been common for over a decade. I belong to the International Society for Mental Health Online, a professional organization and subscribe to their suggested ethical guidelines. I am a member of the NASW and abide by their ethical code.
It was not my idea. However, as a comment, I can say that one of the problems with the Internet therapy is that the software used for it (such as Skype) does not guarantee the confidentiality while it is obligatory that therapeutic sessions should be completely confidential. There are other problems with using Internet for psychotherapy as well. In fact, Knapp does not abide by NASW ethical code. For example, he made several ethical violations toward Carol which she reported in her complaint.
Well, I really do not have time and desire to get into the detailed refutation of all the Knapp's lies and misrepresentations. I think what I have written so far is sufficient.
Well, I and another person (who was Knapp's client at that time) were moderators and administrators of his forum. He began to share with us that he was going to create a non-profit anti-cult organization and wanted us to join it. He never answered my questions regarding this organization, keeping saying that he would send us a business plan (which he never did). On the other hand, he kept trying to involve us into it and even acted as if we already joined it (although I never gave my agreement to join it). I did not like this. In addition, I remembered that in the past somebody accused him of using manipulations. I knew that this person was knowledgeable about NLP. So, I suspected that Knapp used NLP (now I am quite sure that he does). I asked him about his attitude to NLP. He replied only when I asked him the third time. He admitted that he studied it, but denied that he used it.
Very soon after he eventually answered this question, he and I got a serious conflict over a small matter (the other moderator and administrator tried to keep neutral position). We discussed such things before many times and did not have any problems. This time he behaved as a different person: he kept writing offenses, threatens, manipulations. I did not expect such behavior from him. Actually, he misunderstood my position regarding the matter we were arguing about. When I explained my position again, he agreed with me and it seemed that the conflict would be solved. However, unexpectedly, he changed his behavior again. He sent me and the other moderator and administrator an ultimatum email. The main idea was: "either you agree to submit to me in everything or you have to resign within 24 hours." I did not reply him at all (and never contacted him again). He deleted his forum in about 11 hours after he sent us that email. The other person tried to contact him, but he replied that he did not want to continue their contacts.
Well, this is what happened between us. I think that Knapp intentionally created this conflict because I began to suspect that he used NLP and other manipulative techniques. I think he also used them before, when he involved us as moderators and administrators of his forum and when we were helping him with his forum. However, I was not aware of it at that time.
The opinion of the other co-moderator and co-administrator of Knapp's forum who was involved into this conflict can be read here.
Regarding the question whether Knapp practices NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), I am sure he does. By the way, since he is LMSW, he is required to have a supervisor who is LCSW. His supervisor and her husband are certified NLP trainers. Knapp and his supervisor even had offices in the same building. Well, there is nothing illegal with having a supervisor who is a certified NLP trainer. However, this is a perfect situation for the deep and thorough study of NLP. So, to me, it indicates that Knapp seriously studied NLP. People usually study NLP in order to use it, not just to have information about it. And I am sure that he did use NLP toward me and other people.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
In this post, he states that he is going to leave his profession:
As I'll be announcing very shortly, I'm stepping totally out of the social work and psychotherapeutic world after 11 years. I’m ashamed to be associated with the field.
Well, whatever he may say about his reasons, I do believe that if he is really going to leave his profession, it is because one of his former client's complaint at him. She posted the text of the complaint on her blog: Complaint Overview.
Knapp has a habit of blaming other people for everything. Now, he accuses the whole mental health community. I understand that there may be problems in this field as well as in any other field. However, this does not vindicate Knapp's personal behavior toward other people, including his clients. His ethical violations and abuses toward his clients have nothing to do with "the horrific state of the mental healing profession" (a quote from his post).
On the other hand, in his post, Knapp highly praises Megan Singer and anyone who reads this post will have an impression that they have very good relationships. Here are some quotes from his post:
Not like you need this, but I have been proud to know you for a very, very, very long time. You’re generous, caring, thoughtful, creative, and altruistic.
What’s not to love?
You’ve been an extraordinary help to me personally whenever I’ve asked you. <...> You’re a hell of a human being. <...>
Next time you have a mo for a phone chat or FB note, I’d love to talk about the horrific state of the mental healing profession. I’m moved to tell you this because of what you are going through:
As I’ll be announcing very shortly, I’m stepping totally out of the social work and psychotherapeutic world after 11 years. I’m ashamed to be associated with the field. For many of the reasons you so eloquently demonstrate in your brave post here. <...>
Megan, back to you, because this screed really is about my admiration and respect for you:
Fuck the credentials, girl. YOU are a HEALER. Trust your gut and follow your heart. Everything else is just details.
And fire every flaming asshole who doesn’t measure up to your standards.
Because you are RIGHT.
I’m not a believer, but I pray you find the healer you deserve and who is worth a tenth of what you are.
In another post, I wrote that she banned me from her Facebook group at the request of "one of the leading cult experts of the country" (her words). I identified this "expert" as John Knapp who is actually not a "cult expert." She denied it and wrote me about Knapp:
I'm on your side regarding John Knapp. I'm aware of the duplicity going on with him; and wish I was not associated with him even on a collegiate level.
In addition, she was very angry that I wrote about this situation on my blog and even tried to threaten me.
Well, I think anyone who compares Megan's statement about Knapp with Knapp's statements about Megan and her comment under his post, will come to conclusion that Megan lied me.
Since Megan is an active Catholic, I think she may be interested to read what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV):
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Megan's current behavior is similar to Knapp's. Both of them lied to me and both of them threatened me. And, of course, I do not believe Megan's words that it was not Knapp who asked her to ban me. By the way, some of the Knapp's words in his post may imply this: "You’ve been an extraordinary help to me personally whenever I’ve asked you."
It is sad to say, but Megan as a social worker might end up in the same way as Knapp - abusing her clients and having her clients complain at her - if she does not stop admiring him and imitating him.
Friday, July 1, 2011
To practice within New York State, a professional must be licensed and REGISTERED.
Practicing a profession without a license and current registration is a felony in New York State.
However, until now, Knapp has never mentioned on CHSCA website, Knapp Family Counseling (KFC) website, Facebook pages, Twitter posts, and LinkedIn group that his registration expired one month ago. He continues to use "LMSW" title which he cannot use now. On CHSCA website, there is a list of services offered by CHSCA: http://thechsca.org/what-we-do/services-we-offer-you/item/48-services-we-offer-you. It includes therapy as currently available service. On his KFC website, there is a page "Available Services & Fees": http://www.knappfamilycounseling.com/available.html where he states: "I offer individual and group counseling via office visits, phone, and online." He did not make any corrections or changes on that page. I think these mean that Knapp continues to provide therapy. There is no indication that he is currently not available as a therapist. If he continues to practice, his actions are not only unethical, but also illegal.
I do not think he forgot that he was required to renew his registration in order to continue to practice. I think he did it intentionally. He is under investigation by NYS Office of the Professions because his former client filed a complaint at him: http://tossandripple.blogspot.com/2011/01/john-m-knapp-lmsw.html. Probably, he did not renew his registration in order to avoid their punishment for his ethical violations toward his former client. However, if he continues to practice now, this is even worse because it is a felony.
Update (posted on August 6, 2011): I just learned that Knapp renewed his registration and now his status appears as "Registered." When I checked his license information a couple days ago, he was not registered. So, even though he is registered now, he practiced without registration for over two months.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Publication on theCHSCA.org does not imply the author endorses the CHSCA, our mission, services, or opinions. We seek to represent a wide range of thinking—to as wide an audience as possible. We encourage readers to exercise critical thinking on all material posted at theCHSCA.org. Opinions expressed are solely the author's and may or may not reflect the values, ethics, or policies of the Center for Healing Spiritual & Cultic Abuse, Inc.
Specifically, we made an erroneous announcement that Kate Bornstein had joined our Advisory Board. This was executive director, John Knapp's mistake. Kate is not associated in any way with the CHSCA. But we love her anyway.
In the past, Knapp announced many people who, according to his words, joined the CHSCA advisory board. It is quite possible that Kate Bornstein was not the only one of these people who actually never joined it and who is not associated with the CHSCA.
Also, introducing Kate's video, Knapp failed to give any background of It Gets Better project or even to mention that Kate Bornstein was not the only person who made a video on this subject. He also failed to mention that this subject has nothing to do with cults. In addition, he failed to mention that It Gets Better project has nothing to do with his non-profit CHSCA. It is well known that Bible-based cults like to take biblical verses out of their context in order to make them speak what they want. It seems that Knapp used the same tactic.
A lot of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people and some non-LGBT people participated in It Gets Better project. The purpose of this project is to encourage LGBT teenagers who are discouraged because of being bulled for who they are and some of whom are thinking about committing a suicide. On It Gets Better project website, there is a detailed description of it. I do believe that this project is very important and that it is very good that Kate Bornstein participated in it. However, Kate was just one of many people who participated in this project. On It Gets Better project website and YouTube, there are many videos from It Gets Better project and they have nothing to do with cults.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were among the people who participated in It Gets Better project. Their speeches there give some background of it.
In one of previous posts, I embedded two other videos from It Gets Better project, by two open gays and Christian ministers Gene Robinson and Mel White. Many other videos from this project can be found on YouTube, on It Gets Better project website, and on other websites.
Friday, June 3, 2011
To practice within New York State, a professional must be licensed and REGISTERED.
Update (posted on August 6, 2011): I just learned that Knapp renewed his registration and now his status appears as "Registered." When I checked his license information a couple days ago, he was not registered. So, even though he is registered now, he practiced without registration for over two months.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Well, I never saw such hostility as Megan has showed toward me. As far as I know, moderators and administrators usually let people know why they ban them and people who were banned have a right to know why they were banned. However, until now, Megan refused to let me know why she banned me. I did not expect such hostility from Megan because she and I cyber-met 4 years ago and, to my understanding, we never had any problems before she banned me.
Since Megan has not been very active in the anti-cult field, she probably does not know that there is no such an official title as "cult expert" because there is no organization that certifies people as cult experts. This title is usually self-assumed. Consequently, there are no "leading cult experts of the country."
Although Megan did not want to reveal me the name of this "cult expert," it was very easy for me to understand who this person is. His name is John M. Knapp. Of course, he is not a "leading cult expert of the country" and even not a leading professional in the anti-cult field in the USA, though he does have such ambitions and I think he may present himself as such.
Knapp has been a member of Megan's group for almost two years. He did not often post there. However, as soon as Megan banned me, he and another member began to promote his CHSCA. So, I think one of the reasons he had Megan ban me was to have a freedom to promote his non-profit there. Before Megan banned me, I was a co-administrator and could easily delete his posts.
Well, Knapp has quite a remarkable trait. When he has problems with people, he does not deal with them directly. Instead, he spreads various slanders about them. I know of some of his slanders regarding me and other people. However, he speaks them behind their backs. At the same time, he may try to have good relationships with these people. Ironically, just after Megan banned me, Knapp sent me two invitations to connect with him at LinkedIn, though he did not try to contact me since August 1, 2010 when we had a split. Also, I am well aware of Knapp's ability to separate people and break their friendships. In addition, I understand that he is unhappy at my blog posts about him. So, his behavior does not surprise me at all.
However, Knapp's behavior does not vindicate Megan's behavior toward me. I was a moderator and administrator of Knapp's forum for 5 months. I heard what he said about some people and organizations. However, I also used my mind and critically evaluated what he said. I also considered my own experience with these people. I have never behaved in such a hostile way toward people even when I believed Knapp.
Megan refused to let me know the accusations against me and did not want to name the person who accused me. She refused to let me an opportunity to speak in my defense. I never violated the rules of her group. The conflict between Knapp and me had to do with his forum and non-profit and had nothing to do with Megan's group. All this is unfair. In addition, her two replies were full of arrogance. BTW, Megan has been a member of my groups as well. Although she banned me, I did not ban her because she did not violate the group rules. I decided to be fair to her even though she is unfair to me.
In this situation, I can no longer endorse Megan's group which is currently called Cult Awareness & Recovery and which may soon become a branch of Knapp's CHSCA which I cannot endorse either.
Update. After I published this post and let Megan know about it, she emailed me. She wrote that I may rejoin her group and apologized to me. However, until now, she did not let me know what happened: she did not give me any names, any accusations against me, and so on. So, this situation still looks quite odd to me.
Update (08/18/2012). Since I had written this post, Megan left the Facebook group Cult Awareness & Recovery. Currently, its admins are other people. Knapp is no longer a member of this group either. Somebody added me to that group, so I am a member of this group now.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
On May 5, he announced that Dennis Erlich joined CHSCA advisory board. BTW, his last name is spelled Erlich, not Ehrlich as Knapp spells it. Although Knapp knows that Erlich has a Reverend title, he probably never considered how Erlich obtained it and what church ordained him.
In January 2009, when Dennis Erlich joined "freedomofmind" group (I was a member of that group), he was asked this question. There were long debates about it and Erlich actually answered this question two times. His first answer was:
I've been a registered minister in the state of California since 1969. In 1982 I walked away from the cult and began enlightening people on the subject. This became my new ministry. In the mid 90s inFormer Ministry incorporated in California as a non profit religious/educational corporation. In 1997 we registered with the IRS and received 501c3 non profit status.His second answer was more clear and detailed:
The other ordination I got was a humorous one from the founder of the mock-cult of SubGenius. That's for-profit humor publishing group. I proudly display the "Dobbshead" on my site.
I thought it was clear that I was originally ordained as a minister in 1969 by scientology.So, officially, Dennis Erlich is still a registered minister of the Church of Scientology. He was ordained by the Church of Scientology and this is how he obtained his Reverend title. In addition, as Erlich made clear, his inFormer Ministry is actually based on his Scientology ministerial credentials. Also, ministerial ordination usually requires a formal training and it is obvious that the only formal training Erlich had for his ministry was the training in the Church of Scientology. For more information, you may read this article.
As far as the "sanctioning agency" back in those days ministers were required to register with the State of California, which I did. After I walked away I didn't withdrawn my registration, so I am still on file in Sacramento that way.
Throughout the 80's and 90's I ministered to hundreds of people who had left cults. I am credited with talking a bunch of recovering cultists who were seriously contemplating suicide, "down from the ledge." I ran dozens and dozens of cult recovery focus sessions in Los Angeles and published inFormer Newsletter for ex-members.
In 1997 I incorporated inFormer Ministry in California as a non profit religious/educational corporation (#2011733) and it was awarded Federal 501(c)3 status a year later.
The ministry with the help of its volunteers has produced public events for the City of Los Angeles Mayors Office and Cultural Affairs Dept. For a number of years we wrote and helped produce the Hollywood Christmas Parade on behalf of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
I have filed my taxes as a minister every year since 1969.
Since the State of California and Federal Government has "officially recognized me" as a minister, I have no problem continuing with that title. I guess those would be the "sanctioning bodies" if there is one.
InFormer Ministry is now its own "sanctioning body" and non-denominational religious order.
Well, he left Scientology a long time ago and since then has been an anti-Scientologist and anti-cult activist. He even created his own apparently anti-cult inFormer Ministry. However, this is still a serious question how a person can be an anti-Scientology activist and a registered minister of the Church of Scientology at the same time and how he can use his cult ministerial credentials for anti-cult activity.
Monday, May 9, 2011
I am completely for any person's freedom to profess any religion or to be an atheist or agnostic. A half of my life I was an atheist and the other half of my life I was a believer. Comparing religion with atheism and agnosticism, I think that atheism and agnosticism are appealing to intellectual people because they appear to be very logical, scientific, and thoughtful. However, atheism and agnosticism have a very serious shortage. They are completely powerless before death. They are unable to give hope and comfort to dying people. Neither can they give hope and comfort to people who lost their loved ones. This is why atheists and agnostics prefer not to think about death at all. I heard and read many stories of agnostics and atheists who began to pray to God when they were in a dangerous situation or when their loved ones were very sick. However, they forgot about God as soon as the dangerous situation was over.When atheists and agnostics lose their loved ones, they are able only to grieve because they do not have any hope. It was my experience when my grandmother died many years ago. She was an atheist and I was an atheist at that time. To me, her death was the end. I experienced a very strong grief and sadness after she died.
However, for born-again Christians, the situation is completely different. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul wrote (NKJV):
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.Unlike atheists and agnostics, born-again Christians believe that they will meet their dead born-again loved ones and that they are with Christ now. This has been my experience after my mother's recent death. I am a born-again Christian and she was too. I believe that she is with Christ now and that I will meet her again. So, I grieve much less than I grieved after my grandmother's death.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
I entitled this post "Roman Road" to Salvation. "Roman road" to salvation is a method of evangelism when all the biblical verses are taken from the New Testament epistle to Romans. There are many variants of "the Roman road". Below, I am posting one of them. Please notice that I post it only for the people who have questions: "How can I be saved? How can I go to heaven? How can I be born again?" I do not encourage anyone to join any church. I am not a member of any church or religious group myself. I do not ask you to receive Christ if you do not want to. This is completely your choice.The first verse of "Roman road" to salvation is Romans 3:23 (NKJV):
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.We all have sinned. There is no one who is without sin. We all have done something unpleasant to God in our life. Romans 3:10-18 (NKJV) describe some of the sins people do in their life:
10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;The second verse of "the Roman road", Romans 6:23 (NKJV) reveals the result of sin:
11 there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one."
13 "Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips";
14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."
15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 and the way of peace they have not known."
18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.The wages of sin is death: both physical and spiritual.
The third verse is Romans 5:8 (NKJV):
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Jesus Christ died for us. His death paid for our sins. His resurrection confirms that God received His death as redemption for our sins.
The fourth "station" at "the Roman road" is Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV):
9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.Due to Christ's death, all we need to do for salvation is just to believe in Him and His redeeming sacrifice. In Romans 10:13 (NKJV), it is said:
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."Jesus died in order to bear the punishment for our sins and to save us from the eternal death. Salvation and forgiveness of sins are available for everyone who believes in Christ as their Savior and Lord.
The fifth verse of "the Roman road", Romans 5:1 (NKJV) says about the result of salvation:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.Through Jesus Christ we may receive peace with God. In Romans 8:1 (NKJV), it is written:
There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.Due to Christ's death for us, we will never be condemned for our sins.
The last point is the promise in Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV):
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,If you want to take "the Roman road" to salvation, you can pray to receive Christ as your Savior. In order to be saved, you need not only to pray, but also to believe in Christ as your Savior in your heart. The prayer may be like this:
39 nor height nor depth, not any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God, I know that I am a sinner and deserve punishment. However, Jesus bore punishment for me so that I may be saved through my faith in Him. I receive Jesus Christ as my Savior who died for my sins. Thank you for Your mercy and forgiveness. Thank you for Your gift of the eternal life. Amen.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
My conversion to faith in God took place 20 years ago. In the morning, I was an atheist. In the evening, I became a Christian and could not help but believe in God. My conversion took place at a gospel meeting where the subject of the sermon was God Gives Hope to the Hopeless. It matched my condition at that time. The preacher spoke a lot about God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ. It touched me very much. At that evening, I not only received Christ as my Savior, but I also received God as the meaning of my life. I gained hope given by God. My whole life changed and I began to look at the world in a different way. I was unhappy person and did not know what I lived for. But I became a happy person and my life became meaningful. My conversion was very dynamic.
Why do I call it "spiritual birthday"? In John 3:1-8 (NIV), it is said:
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Here, Jesus tells Nicodemus about being born again. It is a new birth. Then, Jesus explains that it is not a new physical birth, but birth from the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated here as "again" is "anothen." It derives from the Greek word "ano" which means "above." The original meaning of "anothen" is "from above." Thus, to be born again is also to be born from above. This birth is necessary in order to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was a very pious person and had deep religious knowledge. However, Jesus told him that he needed to be born again because no person who was not born again is unable to enter the kingdom of God.
In John 1:12-13 (NIV), it is said how this birth takes place:
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Here it is said that the birth from God which is the same as the birth from the Holy Spirit, takes place through receiving Christ and faith into Him. The faith here is the faith into Christ as the Savior who bore the punishment for our sins on the cross and the receiving Christ here is receiving Him as a personal Savior. Being born from God, a person becomes a child of God.
What is the result of the spiritual birth? The spiritual birth is receiving eternal life which is spiritual and not physical. In the Greek original of the New Testament, different words are used for denoting physical life and eternal life. The word for physical life is "bios." The word for eternal life is "zoe." In John 3:14-18 (NIV), it is written:
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Here Jesus says about a case described in the Old Testament (Numbers 21:5-9). When Israelites were in the wilderness and serpents bit them, God told Moses to make a brass serpent and to lift it on the pole. Everyone who was bitten by a serpent and who looked at the brass serpent, survived. The brass serpent on the pole was a type of Christ's crucifixion on the cross. Because of His great love to mankind, God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world in order for him to bear punishment for the sins of all the people and thus He redeemed people from the punishment for their sins. The result is that everyone who believes in the redemption carried out by Christ on the cross, receives forgiveness of sins, is delivered from the condemnation for them, and receives eternal life.
In 1 John 5:10-13 (NIV), apostle John, addressing the believers in Christ, writes:
10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Apostle John tells here that those who believe in Christ as their Savior and who received Him, have eternal life already. They will not receive it in the future. God has given them eternal life already.
Jesus says about the same in John 5:24 (NIV):
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
Jesus speaks here about spiritual death and spiritual life, not about physical ones. A person who does not have spiritual life is in spiritual death, even if he or she is alive physically. When he or she receives the eternal spiritual life, he/she is being delivered from the spiritual death.
It is impossible to lose eternal life after receiving it. In John 10:28-29 (NIV), Jesus says:
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
Those who received eternal life, are unable to perish. That is, they are unable to lose eternal life. Those who received eternal life, have been delivered from eternal perish forever. Jesus and God the Father hold them in Their hands. Nobody and nothing are able to snatch them, that is, to deprive them of eternal life.
20 years ago, I was born again, was born from above, was born of the Holy Spirit, was born of God, became a child of God, received eternal life, and was delivered from eternal perishing forever. Therefore, this is the day of my spiritual birthday. Although my spiritual birthday took place 20 years ago, this day is still very important and precious for me because it changed my whole life and my eternal destiny. After my life on the earth is over, I will be with Christ forever.
I thank Jesus Christ who loved me and bore punishment for my sins. I thank God the Father who loved me and gave me eternal life.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I guess the beginning of the description of Nori's book is quite intriguing for many people:
We cannot know for sure what is waiting for us on the other side in dreams or death, or even know if there is another side. The feeling I get is that if there is, it is much like what we have here, but better. Maybe it is ideal, as the Classical Greek philosopher Plato said. Maybe we see long lost loved ones, or experience a paradise like some religions promise. Or, maybe it is a purgatory or hell. Maybe the soul ends and there is nothing after death. But none of us can say for sure; the other side and death will always remain a riddle to us who are living.
Let me share my personal situation. Recently, my mother died. She was my only close relative and I loved her very much. What Nori's book tells me? "Well, I do not know, maybe, your mother's soul is in a paradise or, maybe, she is in a hell. Maybe, her soul does not exist any more. Maybe, you will see her again or, maybe, not. I do not know." Nori's book will not give me any hope. A person who has my situation and the same beliefs as Nori has, will have a serious depression.
However, I do not experience a severe depression now. Do you know why? Because I am not an agnostic. I am a born-again Christian and my mother was a born-again Christian also. I believe what the Bible says:
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NIV)
Thus, the Bible says that at the time of Christ's second coming (or more strictly, at the time of rapture) the dead Christians will be resurrected and the living Christians will meet them. It means that I will meet my mother again.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8, NIV)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Philippians 1:21-24, NIV)
2 My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3, NIV)
So, the Bible says that the dead Christians are with Christ in the Father's house and that it is better for them to be there than to be here. Therefore, for them, to die is gain. Even though I would prefer my mother to continue to live on the earth, I know that she is with Christ now and it is much better for her to be there than to be here.
God, the Bible, and my Christian faith give me a tremendous comfort, peace, and hope at this time. Repeating Paul's words, I "do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." Of course, I would have been without comfort, peace, and hope if I had had similar beliefs to Nori's.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Since he lives and practices in New York State, his non-profit corporation is supposed to be on file with NYS Department of State. However, anyone can search NYS Department of State The Corporation and Business Entity Database and see that it is not there. The current information messages by this database [on March 25, 2011] are the following:
NYS Department of State
Division of Corporations
The information contained in this database is current through March 24, 2011.
No business entities were found for The Center for Healing Spiritual and Cultic Abuse.
No business entities were found for The Center for Healing Spiritual & Cultic Abuse.
No business entities were found for The CHSCA.
No business entities were found for CHSCA.
John Knapp started his website in the beginning of March and claimed to have created The Center for Healing Spiritual and Cultic Abuse as a non-profit corporation, but it is still not on file with NYS Department of State. The only conclusion I can make is that his non-profit corporation is non-existing or illegal.
As far as I know, one of the main reasons for John Knapp to supposedly create his non-profit corporation is to attract more clients. However, I would warn people about hiring him as a therapist. Here is a report of one of his former clients: http://tossandripple.blogspot.com/2011/01/john-m-knapp-lmsw.html. I know of this situation and am aware that he caused a serious damage to this person.
Another problem with his counseling is that he practices online counseling, using Skype and similar programs. Many therapists have doubts regarding this way of counseling because Skype has security flaws and because there is a great difference between seeing somebody in person and on video. According to my understanding, the position of the NYS State Boards for the Professions, that is, the organization that certified him as Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) is that they do not tend to consider online therapy as true therapy.
In Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants, section II, point A, sub-point 5:
A subscribing consultant will not employ methods or techniques such as neuro-linguistics programming, hypnosis or Ericksonian hypnosis or other techniques similar to those employed by cult groups without fully informed consent of the client.
I know that not all the thought reform consultants, exit counselors or whatever they call themselves, subscribed by these ethical standards. Although these methods are not illegal per se, they are used by cults. This is why most professionals who work with ex-cult members (including those who did not subscribed by these ethical standards) consider that it is unethical to use them.
Since John Knapp is LMSW, he is required to have a supervisor who is LCSW. His supervisor and her husband are certified NLP trainers. John Knapp and his supervisor even have offices in the same building. Well, there is nothing illegal with having a supervisor who is a certified NLP trainer, but it definitely indicates that John Knapp seriously studied NLP. People usually study NLP to use it, not just to have information about it. I have never been his client, but I used to be a co-moderator and a co-administrator of his forum and I can testify that he used NLP techniques toward me.
Although I wrote three posts about John Knapp in my blog, I did not use his name. Now I think this is the time to say that he is the person mentioned in the following posts as "anti-cult leader" and "anti-cult Professor Moriarty":
PS. John Knapp keeps posting in his new Twitter account that certain people joined his Center for Healing Spiritual and Cultic Abuse. I doubt that this information is correct. In any case, I will not join his new organization under any condition. In the past, he tried to involve me there, using manipulations. I have never given my agreement to join it. Although he still lists me in his forum as one of moderators and administrators, I am not a moderator and administrator of his forum since August 1, 2010. I had no contacts with him since this time. I do not endorse him and will not work together with him any longer. This is my firm position and I will not change it.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
In a certain anti-cult website, I just noticed an article on spiritual abuse. One problem with this article is that the author considers spiritual abuse to be the same as thought reform. I wrote about the definition of the spiritual abuse given by the authors of this term in another post. I consider its definition to be the most correct and I am against too stretched concept of this term. For example, non-religious cults use thought reform techniques, but I do not think it should be called spiritual abuse because such cults have nothing to do with religion.
Another problem with the article I mentioned is a picture of a woman wearing a hijab, posted there. So, it seems that the author considers a hijab as a sign of spiritual abuse. However, the thing is that the idea that women's head coverings is a sign of any kind of abuse actually has something to do with the Bible and has nothing to do with the Qur'an.
In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 11:2-15 (New American Standard Version), it is said:
2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.
3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.
5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.
6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;
9 for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake.
10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,
15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
In this passage, Paul teaches that man is a head of a woman and that woman's head covering is a symbol of man's authority. There are various interpretations of this passage, but I am not going to get into them now. My point is that the idea that if a woman covers her head, it shows her submissive position, is taken from this passage of the Bible.
The Qur'an gives an absolutely different reason for a woman to cover her head. In the Qur'an 24:30-31 (Yusufali's translation), it is written:
30 Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.
31 And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.
In the Qur'an 33:59 (Yusufali's translation), it is said:
O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
So, the reason for women to cover their whole body, including their heads, according to the Qur'an is completely different. It is to prevent men's lust to them, that is, to prevent rapes and such things. This reason has nothing to do with oppression or spiritual abuse. On the contrary, it takes care of a woman's dignity.
Some Muslim women wear hijabs that cover their hair and faces. Some wear hijabs that cover only their hair and leave their faces open. This difference comes from the different opinions of the four traditional Sunni madhabs (schools of Muslim law): Hanafis, Shafiis, Malikis, and Hanbalis. Some madhabs teach that women should cover their faces, some teach that they should not. The reason for covering Muslim women's faces is the same as for covering their heads and other parts of the body, which is to protect women from strange men's sexual abuses. So, it has nothing to do with any oppression or spiritual abuse.
Although there are some abusive Muslim groups that insist on women wearing hijabs, hijabs themselves are not a sign of spiritual abuse. The idea that they are, comes from Christianity, not from Islam. This is one of the examples that illustrates that it is important for anti-cult professionals to consider the cultural differences and not to project their own culture to the people of another culture.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
When I write that the Soviet communist government did not use "classic brain-washing," I mean that they did not use the same set of brain-washing techniques as were used in China and were described by Lifton. "Classic brain-washing" was a Chinese idea. In the Soviet Union, some elements of it were used, but not the whole set.
Of course, I do not consider the Soviet Union as a free society. However, I do not consider it as really brain-washing or thought-reforming. In my own experience, my involvement in the religious cult affected me much more and I consider that this group does use strong thought reform, but the techniques used in the Soviet Union were much weaker.
If we consider thought reform as "black" and freedom of mind as "white," there are many "gray shades" between them. I would put the Soviet Union as very "dark gray," but not "black."
On the other hand, there is really a question whether "pure white" is possible because any person is under social influence, but its degree may be different. Dictator countries have a high degree of the social influence. Democratic countries have a less degree. However, it is impossible to avoid the social influence completely. Every society has a language, culture, ethics, laws. These things affect people's mentality. They direct and restrict people's way of thinking to some extent. However, no society is possible without these things. Otherwise, people will not be able to communicate and there will be chaos.
Since cultural background affects people's mentality and their concept of freedom, it may also affect their evaluation of freedom or non-freedom in other cultures. When two people from different background evaluate the same society, one of them may think that it is free while the other may consider that it is dictatorship.
Anti-cult professionals admit that there is no strict definition of mind control / thought reform because there are many opinions there. It seems that there is no exact definition of freedom of mind either because it depends on a person's cultural background as well as his or her own opinions.
In the previous post, I gave an example of the two freedom-like people which are Americans and Chechens. Both have different concepts of freedom. Another example of freedom-like people are Circassians. Circassians used to be the biggest nation in the Northern Caucasus and they lived in that territory for thousands years. In 18th and 19th centuries, Russia tried to occupy the Northern Caucasus. Many Northern Caucasus nations, including Circassians and Chechens, resisted Russia. Both Circassians and Chechens strongly resisted Russia and paid a great price for it: more than 90 percent of their total population (including elderly men, women, and children) were killed. However, Circassians paid a greater price. They practically lost their motherland. They lost more than 90 percent of their territory and most of the survived Circassians had to leave their motherland for Turkey. Until now, most Circassians live in Turkey and in other countries, only a small part of them lives in their original territory which now belongs to Russia.
So, Circassians are also very freedom-like people. In 19th century, many Western people made remarks on their pursuit for freedom. Even Boris Yeltsin, the first President of Russia, told about Russian-Circassian war in 1763-1864: "Circassian people's unprecedented struggle for their freedom that lasted for one hundred years caused the whole world's respect and admiration. It was the war not only for their survival on their motherland, but also for the preservation of their original culture, the best traits of their national character."
On the other hand, Circassians have a very strict national ethics and etiquette and they very highly regard this part of their culture. They say that what makes them Circassians is their national ethics and etiquette. In the Circassian language, the same word means "Circassian" and "courteous." The word for the Circassian ethics literally means "Circassian-ness." Their code of ethics and etiquette is very strict. For example, according to it, a son was required to stand in his father's presence and could not sit down (I am not sure if they still keep this rule). There was a case when a young Circassian was deadly wounded and stayed in bed. His father came to visit his dying son. The son stood up and his friends helped him to stand because he was very sick. Eventually, his father left because he realized that it was very hard for his son to stand, but he would not sit down or lay down in his presence.
There are many other rules in their national code that are hard to observe. It is very strict and it does restricts Circassians' behavior very much. However, at the same time, they are very freedom-like people and they are ready to fight for their personal freedom. But, obviously, their concept of the personal freedom is very different from the Western concept.
So, Americans, Chechens, and Circassians have different concepts about freedom, even though all of them are freedom-like. Other nations and other cultures have other concepts about freedom. There is no one and unique concept, fitting all the nations and cultures.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
One person who visited Moscow, Russia in 1992 said that Russian people looked like they had just left a cult. To him, this was a "proof" that the Soviet Union used brain-washing. However, what he failed to realize is that his visit to Russia was just several months after the Soviet Union collapse in December 8, 1991 at the agreement signed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus (so called Belavezha Accords). In fact, this agreement was made by these leaders secretly and nobody else in the Soviet Union expected it. Nobody believed that the Soviet Union would ever collapse. The night before that, people went to bed, living in the Soviet Union. When they woke up, they learned that the Soviet Union does not exist anymore. Of course, it was a serious shock for people. If tomorrow Americans had learned that the USA does not exist anymore, would it not have been a shock to them? However, it was exactly what happened in the Soviet Union. I understand that many Russians appeared confused in 1992, but this does not "prove" that they were brain-washed. As far as I know, many people in the USA were shocked and confused after 09/11/01, but this does not mean that they were brain-washed. In my opinion, collapse of the whole country is a bigger stress than any terrorist attack.
A certain Russian full professor whom I knew personally had spent one year in the USA, working in an American university. It was before the Soviet Union collapsed. After he came back, he said: "All the Americans are zombies." To me, it looks quite odd that American "cult experts" consider Soviet people to be brain-washed while this Soviet professor considered Americans to be "zombies." Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to ask him what exactly he meant by saying that. He died. So, I am able only to hypothesize what he meant. I think it had to do with the differences between American and Soviet/Russian cultures. Once, I heard an American preacher who said: "Russians are deep and thoughtful, Americans are shallow and playful." He said this in Russia and I doubt that he would have said this in the USA. However, I heard several Russians saying very similar things about Americans after their personal contacts with Americans. I think the professor might have had the same impression and this is why he said this way. Anyway, I think the reason for his statement was cultural differences.
Christians tend to think that Islam in total is cultic and mind-controlling. However, Muslims say that the real freedom is possible only in Islam. "Ex-Christian" movements claim that any religion is abusive and promote atheism. However, atheism may be no less abusive, for example, the one promoted by the communists.
Western people tend to believe that when Muslim women wear hijabs (Muslim head covering), it indicates that they are oppressed by Islam. As far as I know, many Muslim women are willing to fight for the right to wear their hijabs and do not consider it to be a sign of oppression at all. According to the Bible, women were expected to wear head covering as a sign of their submission to their husbands. This is where this idea about oppression came from. However, according to Quran, women wear head covering in order to prevent men's lusts toward them. The reason is completely different. This is just one example when Western people claim Islam to be oppressive because of their own misunderstanding it.
However, probably, it is more dangerous when American government claims that a certain country is authoritarian and initiate a war to bring democracy there. It was certainly the case with Iraq. Needless to say that most Iraqis did not appreciate American "care" for them because many thousands of Iraqis were killed and the country was ruined. Did it become democratic? I do not know.
All the people are influenced by their culture and their religion or philosophy whether they realize this or not. Even any human language restricts thinking processes to some extent. Bilinguals (people who know two languages equally well) are well aware of this. They often use a mixture of the two languages because they think that some things can be better expressed by one language while other things by the other language. There is no absolute freedom of mind because all the people are under some social influence. On the one hand, cultures and languages help people to communicate and understand one another. Without a culture and a language, it would have been very problematic for people to communicate and understand one another. On the other hand, these things do effect people's mentality and the way of thinking. This is a kind of social influence and no one is free from it.
When people live among people of the same culture and language, they do not realize how these things affect their mentality. It is only when they meet people of other cultures or religions or when they learn another language that they realize it. The problem however is that when people meet those who belong to another culture or another religion, some of them tend to blame people of another culture or another religion as "brain-washed," oppressed, and so on. If people do not appreciate Western values, but appreciate other values, for example, Muslim values, this does not necessary mean that they are under mind control. Vice versa is also true, of course.
In my opinion, in dealing with people of another country or another culture or another religion, it is necessary to know their culture or religion before saying whether they are "brain-washed" or not. Also, probably, people who make these conclusions should be aware of how their own culture affects them before they make such conclusions. I do not think it is correct when everything that matches, for example, American mentality and lifestyle is considered to be democratic and everything that does not match them is considered to be authoritarian. People in other parts of the world may have other concepts of democracy and authoritarianism and their concepts may be different from American concepts. However, this does not mean that these people are wrong. The concept of freedom may be different in different cultures. There is no one unique absolute concept of freedom which is accepted by all the cultures.
For example, both Americans and Chechens consider themselves to be very freedom-like. However, their concepts of personal freedom are completely different. Chechens consider all the people to be equal to themselves, not superior nor inferior, regardless of any social ranks and positions, degrees, and so on. For Americans, social ranks, positions, and degrees are very important. They do have a social hierarchy (which is against Chechen concept of personal freedom). However, for Americans, freedom of religion is very important. They believe that a person can choose any religion or no religion at all. Chechens have a different concept. They do not impose their religious views on people, but they consider Islam as Chechen national religion and believe that a Chechen should be a Muslim. Thus, their concept is against American concept of the religious freedom. Whose concept of the personal freedom is better? I do not know. Neither of them is perfect. Other nations have other concepts of freedom.
There is no one and the same concept of freedom in the world. There is no one absolute concept accepted by everyone in the world. Likewise, there is no absolute freedom of mind because all the people are under cultural and other social influence. Of course, there are different degrees of this influence and there are different degrees of thought reform (which is the most intensive and strongest social influence). And I do believe that when thought reform is considered, cultural differences should be taken into consideration as well.