This fictional dialogue and a reply to it are from the now-defunct Rest for the Weary bulletin board. It was posted under the Mind Control thread on Dec. 3, 2003. The author wishes to remain anonymous.
People react negatively to the concept of mind control or thought reform when used about the Assembly, but the idea is that a person is induced to a belief that is contrary to their rational critical thinking. Geri-Ann Galanti, PhD., defines mind control as “the use of manipulative techniques that are for the most part extremely effective in influencing the behavior of others.” This could apply to weight loss programs programs, hypnosis, even military training, but cults differ in one important way. Cultic leaders employ negative manipulative techniques based on “deception, dependency and dread.” (see Recovery From Cults, edited by Michael Langone, PhD.)
When one is experiencing abuse, these factors are always at play. And secrecy is a big part of them. Everyone consciously believed in salvation by grace through faith in Christ. But we were subconsciously conditioned to believe that heaven could only be achieved by climbing the ladder - God's love and approval were conditioned on our performance.
The announcements are read: “Saints, we're having a special outreach, and, as you know in the work of the Lord, He expects us as good soldiers to be on board.”
Some saints are saying to themselves, "But I was planning to go somewhere on that day and have been looking forward to it for a long time."
One saint thinks to himself, “If I don't go, sister so-and-so is sure to notice and make a fuss to the Leading Brothers. Then the brothers will want to meet for coffee and ask how my walk with the Lord is lately. I remember last time I didn't go, everyone stared at me and let me know they didn't approve of my lack of faithfulness.”
Another brother says, “I'm going to talk to the Leading Brother and explain why I can't be there.”
This is how it went:
LB: “That's too bad, brother, so when can you go?”
Brother: “I don't know. My situation changes with the job and all, and I just have to play it day by day.”
LB: “Well, you know, if you are not willing to take up your cross, brother, then the Lord is not going to be pleased. You know I only say this because I sincerely care about your walk with the Lord and your growth in the Assembly.”
Brother: “But other churches don't make so many demands on their people. Why are you making it like I'm not walking with the Lord?”
LB: “Well, I never said that. But you know how habits form, and you don't want to slack off in you commitment. It only makes it easier to say 'No' to the Lord next time.”
Brother: “But I am not saying 'No' to God by not going on an Assembly outreach. He has given me other responsibilities that are also important to meet.”
LB: “The Lord would not give you responsibilities unless He wanted to further your influence and walk with Him. I suggest you reconsider those responsibilities and ask yourself if they are not just your own agenda and not the Lord's. You know, next you will tell yourself it isn't that important if I miss the prayer meeting, or even Sunday worship. You're not showing humility, brother. You go and pray about it, and when the Lord shows you what you should do, you come back and talk to me.”
At the prayer meeting later that week, a sister prays “Oh, Lord, we pray for brother so-and-so to regain his vision of the House of God. We thank you for his commitment in the past and know you are able to show Him once again your will in this matter. We thank you and bless you in Jesus name.”
After the prayer meeting it went like this:
LB: “So, has the Lord led you, brother, to see the need to be active for Him in the outreaches? You know, we really missed you, and your contribution is always so appreciated. By the way, would you like to come over for supper tomorrow?”
Brother: “Actually, I am busy then, but what about next week?”
LB: “I'm worried about you, brother. If you let this go too long, you may fall away from the Lord. Cancel your engagement tomorrow. Do it for the Lord. He will honor you. I'm sure this commitment isn't as important as getting together with your friends here in the Assembly.”
Brother: “Why such interest? I have never been invited to your place before. It’s amazing how you suddenly have taken such an interest in me. What's up? By the way, tomorrow I'm talking with my kid's teacher. You know how the Assembly has been saying to get involved with the school and be active in the teaching of our children. I don't think this is something that should wait.”
LB: “Well, I met with the other brothers, you know, and they think you're putting to much emphasis on your family. They say that you're spending a lot of time with relatives, and miss some activities to go and visit them. So you see, it isn't just me. I am only concerned for you and want only the best for you.”
Brother: “I don't think you understand this is every bit as important to the Lord.”
LB: “I am trying to be reasonable, brother, and you are just demonstrating that you're not entreatable. I think you should repent of your bad attitude and listen to what the Lord is clearly trying to show you.”
This is fiction, of course, but it serves to illustrate the type of mind control used in the Assembly. If you say the Lord showed you something, and it conflicts with the agenda of the leaders, then you are mistaken because the Lord showed them... But if a problem arises, then they're quick to say, "You needed to do what the Lord showed you. We even teach that in the ministry. Don’t blame us."
Comments from Readers
Jack H.: "You really hit the nail on the head. I'm sure many can testify that they've had similar conversations with the leaders in their assemblies (even the ones that 'weren't influenced by George').
Here's a mind control situation that is mind-boggling. Leaders in SLO began telling us during the requests at prayer meetings that we needed to pray for unity in the leadership (I'm sure this happened in other assemblies at times, too). Around that time there was a Leading Brother who had some serious concerns about how the ministry functioned.
Put yourself in that Leading Brother's shoes. You know that you have had recent run-ins with the other leaders over issues of conscience, so you know that the request was referring to you even though your name was never mentioned. As the meeting progresses you hear prayers such as, "Lord, we pray that if there are any leaders that are resisting Your will, that you would warm their heart and bring them back to Yourself."
Without knowing any names, the 'saints' are now joining the other leaders in accusing you of resisting God's will. You are now all alone in your stand. If you talk to any non-leaders about your situation, they would surely say, "Oh, so you're the one we were praying for!" Imagine the pressure you would feel to to conform to what the other leaders wanted! That is what I call some serious mind control."