Saturday, May 21, 2011

Megan C. Singer, ASW and John M. Knapp, LMSW

Exactly one month ago, Megan Carmel Singer, a former member of the Local Church of Witness Lee and Associate Social Worker (ASW) in California banned me from her then Cults group at Facebook which she just renamed to Cult Awareness & Recovery and unfriended me at Facebook. She did not inform me about banning me and did not explain her reasons for banning me. I never violated any group rules. In addition, since May 2008 until April 2011 when Megan banned me, I was a co-administrator of this group. I emailed her and asked why she did so. The only thing she let me know was that "one of the leading cult experts of the country" complained at me and this was why she immediately banned me, although she was still "exploring the issue." After I emailed her again, she replied that I should "sit tight" and "be patient." I asked her again what were the accusations against me. She did not reply. The day before yesterday, I emailed her again and asked what was the conclusion of her "investigation." She did not reply me. However, she changed the settings of her group after my email.

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.


oneperson said...

I hope that by your posting this blog entry Lom that some of the details regarding what has gone on behind closed doors is manifest.

From what I know of the situation that you post about in this entry, it appears that paranoia plays a part. I've seen, been the recipient of, and experienced this type paranoia and secrecy in the 'anti-cult' activist field.

It goes on elsewhere too in human groups, not just in the cult/anti-cult realm.

It'd be so much easier if folks were simply forth right and would communicate instead of cutting people off. Nothing can be reconciled once shunning takes place.

I recently ran across a site about undoing scapegoating. I found the articles thought-provoking.
The Scapegoat Society: Undoing Scapegoating

[note: The site author suggests (with a word of caution) The Landmark Forum to help people address the harm of scapegoating. I'm not endorsing that aspect; yet, I still found his articles helpful for me.]

oneperson said...

PS: After reading some things around the web this morning....I'm left with that sick feeling in my stomach again.

My experience with Knapp and all the stuff surrounding that has be horrific, expensive, and damaging for me. Right now, I'd say it was worse than The Way or what happened with certain prominent people at GreaseSpot Cafe.

Of course, I'm still in the midst of dealing with the repercussions of the Knapp scenario...and the damaged friendship(s?) as a result; so perhaps my evaluation of being worse is simply that it is at the forefront of my emotional, mental, and physical health.

I simply shake my head in disbelief at times; yet I can't deny the obvious.

My anti-cult/cult-recovery group experiences (culminating with Knapp) have left me feeling that the cult-recovery field is just a bunch of biased denominations; yet, I have experienced good people too...and at least a combined four healthy organizations/online communities within the cult-recovery field. So I continue to endeavor to refrain from falling into broad strokes and all-or-nothing thinking.

Thanks for your outspokeness Lom. It is refreshing.

oneperson said...

PPS: Another thought. I've also strengthened and gained some friendships too. I need to look at the positive side of the coins as well.

And, I hope I've become emotionally and mentally a good sense. Not hardened, but strengthened; I never want to harden....

Borz Lom (Löma) Nal said...

Thank you for your comments!

Megan Singer ACSW said...

You are wrong. I've kept everything between us private and in confidence. Secondly, I've never implicated Knapp at all, this is solely your assumption. Lastly, please remove me from all your groups and blog lists. I do not wish to be actively associated with any one person or organization that likes to air private conversations. You are breaking the confidentially notice that is (and was) in the email exchange. Did you think I took that lightly?

Borz Lom (Löma) Nal said...

Megan, quite frankly, I do not understand why you think that the fact that you banned me is something that should be kept secret and private. I think that I have a right to know why you banned me. However, you never explained me. There was nothing confidential in our correspondence because of the simple reason that you did not write me any confidential information.

If you had read my blog post carefully, you would have noticed that I never stated that you mentioned Knapp.

Your threatens are ridiculous. Your emails to me had nothing to do with your "professional purposes" and did not contain any confidential information. Do not confuse your job with the things that have nothing to do with it and do not confuse confidential information with what is not confidential.

I do not understand why you assume that I should be happy that you banned me without explaining the reasons and why you assume that I should keep it confidentially.

There is such a thing as presumption of innocence. And everyone who is accused in something has a right to know the exact accusations against him/her and speak in his/her defense before any decision on the matter will be made. These are basic human rights in every civilized and democratic country. You never explained me what were the accusations against me. You never gave me an opportunity to share my side of the story. So, in fact, you violated my human rights.

Also, I have never violated any rules of your group. There is no rule that a member of your group who has any problems with another person in the anti-cult community outside of your group will be banned. My problems with somebody outside of your group have nothing to do with membership in your group. These are two different things.

So, do you think that I should be happy at all this and be silent? BTW, the freedom of speech is also a basic human right in any democratic country. First, you violated my human rights by not letting me know about the accusations against me and by not giving me an opportunity to defend myself. Now, you are trying to shut me down and thus trying to violate my human right of the freedom of speech. Very interesting. Do you live in a democratic country or not?

Would you be happy if somebody did this to you? Since you are a Christian, read Matthew 7:12: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Actually, this is a universal principle that you can find in any religion and in any culture.

I have removed you from my groups and sites because of your request.

Monica Pignotti said...

Megan appears to have a misunderstanding about who is obligated, regarding confidentiality. Just sticking in a disclaimer at the end of an e-mail doesn't make a person obligated to keep it confidential. That's a risky assumption to make, in my opinion because it really isn't clear that there was ever any kind of agreement and she can't just impose this on people. If someone wants something in an e-mail exchange to be confidential, it would be better to let that person know, in advance before starting the discussion and get their agreement before proceeding further.

If, after agreeing, the person violated that, then it could be said to be unethical, but even then, that's as far as it would go if the person is not under any kid of professional code of ethics. It is the professionals, not the clients or other lay people, who are bound by confidentiality and only when it comes to certain defined relationships such as with clients, supervisees, students, colleagues discussing cases, etc. This is something some people new to their professions (and even some who are not) seem confused about.

Borz Lom (Löma) Nal said...

Monica, thank you very much for your comment and explanation!

oneperson said...

I recently wrote a memoir/narrative blog entry regarding one of my relationships that has been harmed due to my circumstances with Knapp.
Confidential Wedges

I've been giving more thought to "private" and "confidential" as well.

As we know, cultic groups use the "private" tactic to silence people. For me it continues to be a challenge to know when, what, and how much to share when situations seem (to me) to push the envelope as to whether or not and how much I should speak up.

I'm trying to find a defining measure to help me. I think one of those defining measure is that confidences should not be kept "confident" when that confidence is at the expense of even 1 person.

Here is an excellent blog post that brings up something that was requested to be kept 'private':
Confronting the Great White Brotherhood - Occult Psychodrama