15 mind control techniques both churches and cults use

Too Long; Didn’t Read: Watch this funny video or read this list about cults and then think about how much of what they said applies to normal church services and doctrine.

1. Mandatory, regular attendance

Mind control techniques and hypnosis don’t last forever. Perpetual manipulation requires perpetual renewal. That’s why Coca~Cola won’t let you turn around without seeing a Coca~Cola billboard. Of course, no cult could send their followers to basic training every single week for a full re-indoctrination, but they don’t have to; all they need is one hour a week for refresher training.

2. Big, fancy, majestic buildings

A Catholic once told me that the reason Catholic churches are so majestic is because it helped illiterate peasants understand the majesty of the Lord. Even if that were the intention (which I’m sure it wasn’t), the reality is that churches are artistic masterpieces meticulously designed to overwhelm the senses and make the viewer feel euphoric and humbled. Just standing in an empty cathedral can put you in a trance state.

If you’re surrounded by images of people who made bigger sacrifices than you to the in-group and were justly rewarded then you’ll feel pressure to conform with their ideology without anyone having to say a word to you. Also, your instinctively going to transfer your awe and respect for the building to the building’s owner or spokesperson.

3. Hierarchical leadership

Every cult has a hierarchical leadership structure because the point of having a cult is to have followers who will revere the leaders and give them all their money. Cult leaders get people to follow them by claiming to be envoys of God. Every church  does this.

Many churches won’t allow you to officially join until you undergo a ritual that symbolically changes you from a member of the lost, miserable outsiders into a saved, superior member of the in-crowd. But you’ll only be allowed to be a follower at the servile end of the pyramid shaped authority structure. The only way to become a leader is to either start your own cult or work your way up the ranks. This stacks the ranks with true believers who will defend the leader and give his social authority legitimacy.

4. Charismatic leaders

The biggest red flag you might be involved with a cult is if the organization revolves around a professional charismatic leader. When you go to church you’ll sit down and listen to a charismatic marketer give a 45 minute infomercial. Even if everyone from the preacher to the congregation have the best intentions the end result is the same. Poor people are swindled out of their money, and the charismatic leader gets to live like a demigod surrounded by obedient followers.

5. Trance stimulation

When you enter your ornate church on Sunday morning, one of the first things that’s going to happen is you’re going to sing hymns with the congregation. The majestic music, combined with the majestic building and the thrill of performing an action in unison with other members of the in-crowd will work you into a trance state that will make you susceptible to hypnosis. If you’re singing about being willfully obedient then you’re just hypnotizing yourself, and you’re hypnotizing the people standing around you listening to you sing about the virtue of willful obedience, servitude, sacrifice and faith. Even if that’s not the intent, that’s the outcome. Even if you don’t know it’s happening, it’s happening. Even if everyone was forewarned and knew it was happening it would still work on some of the participants.

6. Repetitive drills and consequences for nonconformity

In addition to singing, a good cult would require its victims to perform rote physical drills like marching, dancing, kneeling or clapping. The moment you participate in a drill you’re being obedient. You didn’t just kneel or march or clap. You followed an order without thinking about it, and the more you do that the more likely you are to do it again. Eventually the charismatic leader won’t be asking you to do calisthenics. He’ll be asking for money or a favor. What’s more interesting than that though. If you can get a group of people used to following your orders and acting in unison you can eventually give the whole group an order, and they’ll act in unison. That would give you the power to tell a group of people to go build a house or go burn a house down.

7. Separating the in-crowd from the non believers

It’s common practice for cults to tell their recruits that the world can be divided into two kinds of people: those who are inside the group and those who are outside the group. The people inside the group are always saved and admirable. The people outside the group are always lost, unworthy and detestable.

If you believe this, then you’ll base your identity on your affiliation with the group, and you won’t want to spend time with people whose clearer perception of reality could endanger your faith in the group.

8. The call to action is to entrench yourself in the group and base your life on its doctrine.

Church can be a lot of fun, and you can experience a lot of genuine moments of happiness with the people you love, but the Sunday morning agenda always centers around the sermon. The point of the sermon is to deliver a message, and the message is that you need to base your self-worth on your membership in the group and demonstrate obedience to the group’s ideology. You’re told this will bring you closer to God. Mostly it brings you closer to the group and the offering plate.

9. The charismatic leader manipulates your emotions

Charismatic leaders will try to mesmerize you with the way they dress and talk. They guilt trip you. They make impossible promises and horrific threats. They get the crowd worked up into a vulnerable, irrational frenzy right before they deliver an ultimatum.

10. You’re pressured to take your commitment to the next level

The point of every cult service is to build up to the moment where the charismatic leader makes a call to action. The call for action is to either give money, take your commitment to the cult to the next level, humiliate yourself or at least honor those who do. This is brazen manipulation, and it works. Creepy cults leaders know that, and quaint suburban pastors know that.

11. You’re encouraged to confess, humiliate yourself and mimic others

If a cult leader can convince his flock that he has more spiritual authority than them and they are unworthy in the eyes of God, then his control over them is almost guaranteed, Then the followers will have total trust in their leader when he tells them that the only path to salvation is to do whatever the cult asks of them.

The more guilty a cult leader can make their followers feel, the more righteous it will make them look. When followers confess and fall to their knees in front of others, it makes the experience more real for the confessor and the audience.

12. You’re asked for money, and your worth is tied to the amount of money you give

Most church leaders don’t expect every member of the congregation to devote their lives to the church like a hard core cult. Many preachers are happy if they can just get everyone to put money in the collection plate every week. That’s as unethical as selling people fake lottery tickets.

If anyone asks you for money…they probably just want your money. If they demand money from you and threaten you and your family for not paying up, then you’re can be even more sure they just want your money. If the person asking you for money is wearing a suit that cost more money than what you’re wearing…then don’t give that person any more money.

13. Socializing with the in crowd

The most effective way to control the minds of a group of followers would be to lock them in an isolated compound together where the charismatic leader could control every aspect of their lives like the military does to its members. In suburbia that’s just not possible. So the trick is to keep your in-group together as much as possible and get them to willfully ostracize themselves from the rest of society as much as possible.

I’m not saying that if you hang out with your bowling buddies when you’re not bowling then that means you’re forming a cult. But when a charismatic leader organizes constant events that keep his donors together…you can predict the outcome.

14. Using self-study, indoctrination techniques and policing your peers in your own time

The amount of Coca~Cola advertisements you’ve seen in your life attests to how quickly the effects of manipulation can fade and thus how important it is to constantly top-up your message in your victim’s short term memory. One way television commercials do this is by getting a jingle stuck in your head. If you walk around all day repeating the advertiser’s custom-designed message in your head then you’re doing the advertiser’s job of reminding you of the message.

Churches tell you to read the Bible constantly and to fill your house with Biblical themed merchandise. If they can get you to eat, sleep and breath church doctrine then you’ll become your own snake oil salesman. Then you’ll do the charismatic leader’s job of manipulating you for him. If you police your peers, then you’ll practically force people to keep giving the cult money and obedience.

15. Recruitment

Cults need a constant stream of new victims in order to finance the charismatic leader’s lifestyle. So…if you run into an organization that is constantly having recruitment drives to get people to come listen to an infomercial where they’re asked to give money at the end…don’t go there. You know what’s going to happen, and it only ends well for the charismatic leader…assuming he doesn’t get too drunk on power and do something crazy.

However you felt about this post, you’ll probably feel the same way about these:

The Bible is mythology

Christianity is bad for you and society

Churches and Christian Culture

32 responses to “15 mind control techniques both churches and cults use

  • Zach Morgan

    All religions are cults. As Mark Twain said, ” Faith is believin’ in somethin’ you know ain’t true.”

    Liked by 1 person

  • Marvin

    Hmmm…the Lutheran church I attend has very little in common with thus list. After surrendering myself to Christ (no church was involved) I went from church to church and found none like that, though I did find some who added or subtracted from the Bible.
    This all sounds more like someone who had a bad experience with one church so they’re going to condemn them all.


  • Thomas Edison

    You’re a fucking idiot, atheism is a cult and defined as a religion as well you fucking moron. The sheep will follow you right? You are practicing the same cult procedure as the one you’re condemning. You just can’t get more stupid than that.


    • Pat Dendy

      Mr. Thomas Edison, you appear to be all wired-up. My beliefs are existential. Have you in any way been prevented from examining the perspectives of others? Have you in any way been led to believe that reading materials or exploring alternatives counter to biblical or other religious texts as being demonic or evil?

      Atheist: One who denies the existence of God.

      Existentialist: A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and the isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.

      Religion: Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe.

      Cult: A system or community of religious worship and ritual.

      Peace be with you.


  • Anonymous

    Sounds exactly like government.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo smith

      Yes indeed agree 100% And what about the Royal Family in Britain ,the Queen has her face on every coin her insignia on so many products and she is taking in the money. Is she not a cult?


      • wise sloth

        Most organizations in the world use a few pages from the cult handbook, from Starbucks to the NRA. Governments use them too, but I’d say these days the American government uses more than the British.


  • A. Soka

    This article is spot on. I noticed some of the points you hilighted and for a long time I was grieved and as a result I ended up writing a book titled Saints Made Merchandise because I had seen congregants being treated as trading stock. Some preacher abuse biblical teachings until to some people prosperity consists of money and material wealth and nothing more. However, to me prosperity must be a byproduct of blessing. In fact it is written, “the blessing of the Lord make the rich …” It therefore follows that the pursuit of wealth may be futile. Get yourself a copy of this book.


  • Pat Dendy

    I attended a Pentecostal Church under one of the charismatic brands, the Church of God from age of 12 1/2 until age 16 and never returned. I will not go into the history of the victimization that occurred 30 years later or the loss of my marriage and my adult daughter, an only child. I know that I was reprogrammed to return to the church, I know my daughter has programming and based upon observation of odd behavior believe my ex-husband to also be a victim. I am familiar with this recovered phrase, “The grass grows greener on the other side of life” coming from the Church of God however I was not aware of a foreign connection but suspected one when I recently recovered this phrase, “Rice grows better on the other side of the ocean.” I had received a phone message from one of my sisters telling me to get on a Korean chat site. I did not get on this Korean chat site and my sister will not answer my text queries about this site. I will make one other comment, it would appear to me that “on the other side” is standard in all of these hypnotic phrases. Another phrase I found was “across on the other side of the tracks. The addition of this information may or may not be helpful in resolving this ever growing problem that is as much home based as foreign. America’s weakness, unfettered religious freedom. Tyranny.


  • Mister charlie

    Churches are simply mind control cults.

    Liked by 1 person

  • MLH

    This is so true. As a lifelong atheist I was encouraged to attend Mass by friends who convinced me to attend with them every week. I started participating in the songs and prayers and started to feel a sense of oneness with all there. It’s a VERY long story but I started to become a believer and now feel a strong sense of dread if I don’t convert and live my life as a Catholic, so I’ve decided to do this and feel that I must.


  • Tammy

    My daughter was taking antidepressants, and the church new this! They had her beleiving she was possessed??? They took her to a apartments which they have… She had two children and lost custody! They wouldn’t tell me where she was? She also told me that they would bring her tapes to listen to on a daily basis? Iam her mom by the way, her boyfriend at the time wasn’t allowed to tell us anything? They had 15 evangelist do numerous deliverances on her? What’s wrong with this world????? She ended up in a hospital after I told police story after stories!!! She was in a hospital for a year, a homeless shelter for another year, until she finally remembered she had a mother? She has now had two years of therapy, NO meds, and getting her children back! These churches are the work of the devil!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Lee

    This is exactly what I experienced when I was in the manipulative korean Shincheonji cult, I’m so glad I left long time ago

    Liked by 1 person

  • Bran

    I think everyone’s opinion matters to them. But what I realize is the desperation of knowing the truth. Who are we? Where are we from? where are we going after this life? Who made us? Who design the multi- universe? When we have answers to the question ,then our perception will change for good.


  • laurent

    My name is laurent Boer (laurentfreetheSS@hmamail.com), and I have been harrassed and manipulated by an unknown hidden cult organization
    They drugged me insidiously, hypnotized me, they programmed my mind with hypnosis and several different kind of drugs, and they didn’t hesitated to do many illegal things including:
    – Under hypnosis, mental conditioning to make me feel terror to talk about them and what they do
    – use some addiction drugs to enforce the power of the hypnotizer on me
    – At work, air spray some kind of GHB drugs to train me to work harder
    – Under hypnosis, format my personality to fit their needs
    – Follow me in shops and coffee places to make me feel paranoid, harassed and under their control
    – Under hypnosys make me watch horror and homo movies every day under addictive drugs to get addicted to this
    – Installed software on my computer so they can remotely send subliminal trigger images
    – Under hypnosis make me hear for hours daily their speech teaching me that what they do to me is great and usefull

    How to get rid of this kind of secured powerfull worldwide organizations?

    Best Regards,


  • Xian

    Amusing article – a great piece of fiction! Some points don’t even remotely apply to my church (and to many others as well I believe) and the other points have been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. I’d love to see an article by you ‘proving’ small businesses are actually big businesses (e.g. they both have employees, make money, get taxed, etc.).


    • pmoseman

      When I was a kid I went to church. I do not stand at services when told to, not even at graduation, and I don’t clap unless I want to and predetermine the number of times. I added my own words to hymns and drew swastikas all day in church because I hated it. The last straw was when I heard the preacher answering a private question, telling the believer a load of nonsense. This does not just apply to churches, it is also found in the martial arts world where people use intimidation and hierarchy etc. to make people believe in magic.


  • Devilcorp

    Great article! Here’s a link to a report about a known direct sales cult at http://thedevilcorp.wordpress.com/ . Hope you enjoy.


  • carol werner

    I need answers Im confused I maybe a member of a cult idk. I wont say where it is but So many puzzling things ive noticed the last month or so don’t add up.
    Ive been dating a Pastor for the most part of a year. He started preaching again at a church 8 months ago. He was wonderful to me up to that point then fell of the face of the earth pretty much for a month or so. A month lather told me he couldn’t stop thinking about me and was still in love with me. He proposed and wanted me to attend his church I’d been 2 times before but I told him i want to still attend my church. He insisted said no and as his wife he wants me bu his side and soon everyone will know we are together.
    Things were wonderful we were so happy until last month.
    I always questioned why the church had homes adjacent to the church but he played it off. It didn’t seem right but because the church taught Christian doctrine it was so faith led. He’s the praise and worship leader and he put me in a lead position in the group. I’ve never been happier and all our life plans. He’s a wonderful Godly man and I felt so blessed.
    Well a 6 weeks ago he came to me he was leaving the church , Getting all his items and going to go take care of his Mom in southern California for awhile who he goes to see often. He proposed again and asked me to move with him. We were so happy I’ve been so elated he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He adored me and was very in love everyone could see it. I never for once doubted him.
    Well he told me a week later the Pastor was forcing him to move to the church and he wasn’t happy didn’t want to but she won’t let him leave. He started acted irrationa, stressedl and confused i stuck by him just figuring it was the stress of his new position . But told him i had misgiving about him moving there. He assured me hoe loves ne so much and is going no where we were still doing good until last week. He looks so stressed all the time they work him to death he cant leave the ground rarely and they hsve to know his whereabouts.
    He’s gotten so distant a couple weeks I don’t understand his behavior. I’m so devistated he told me on the phone maybe the fairest thing to do is let me go i questioned why? But his answers are vague and don’t make any sence.. I’m so heart broken and in tge last couple days we still talk but he’s become a stranger this isnt like him. He hasn’t seen his MOM in 2 months his own kids wont go to his church and he used to see her all the time, he was wonderful to me but now I see his behavior ties into the church. What do I do for my own sake and to help him. I’m so afraid. Can someone please call me I’m so depressed I’m afraid to tell him i want to leave the church and he needs to. I’m scared. Carol


    • wise sloth

      Carol, a cult is not a black or white institution. There are a number of tools charismatic leaders can use to control people, and the more they use the more dangerous they are. Your pastor is using at least a few of those tools. Regardless of whether or not the church is a full blown cult, your pastor’s personal behaviors have all the hallmarks of an abusive personality. If you feel you or anyone else is in danger, you should call the police. You should call them anyway and see if they can direct you to someone who can help you locally, possibly a halfway home where you could stay if you need to. Also consider calling a lawyer. If your pastor is an abusive, controlling person they may retaliate against you, and a lawyer can instruct you on how to protect yourself legally and help you get a restraining order against the pastor if need be. I hope you find the help you need.


  • Sam

    I thought this was a very informative and reliable post, a great piece.


  • John

    2 other techniques that bear discussing. There is the concept of preaching a specific gospel – (Joel) Osteen preaches a Prosperity Gospel. God wants you to be rich. Never mind that following this contravenes about half of the bible. But it speaks to peoples greed and their desire for community and togetherness and wanting to do good things. Win-Win-Win. The flip side is what I call a Revelationist Gospel (though there is a proper term for this and it’s alluding me right now) – essentially you’re preaching a fear-based gospel that the world is going to end and you better get on the band-wagon now. “Christianity is under attack”. Get your butt in the pew and bring your friends too. This is closer to the nonsense that Pat Robertson leads with on the 700 club. “End Times…”


  • A Christian

    Fascinating. You have hit on many of the issues I rant about in my blog, although mine is Christian (obviously). I am about to write one on “Pastor Groupies” (cults), which is how I found this post. I would love to chat with you sometime.


    • wise sloth

      You can contact me through my contact page. https://wisesloth.wordpress.com/about-the-author/

      You may want to read what else I say about Christianity first to prepare yourself.


  • beinghuman123

    I think you made very good points in this blog. I never realized that Christianity was a cult until I started comparing religion to how a cult operates, and the similarities are frightening. I think one of the reasons the Catholic Church does so well is because of Baptism. The Catholic Church teaches that all of us are born with Original Sin. If you don’t get your babies baptized, then they will go to Hell. Parents don’t want their children to go to Hell, so they baptize them. That’s how they keep getting generation after generation of followers.

    Children are brought to Church from the time they are born. Before they can even reason they are manipulated with Church doctrine. I am a Catholic, and I can’t believe that it took me so long to figure this out.


  • Philbo Baggins

    I’m afraid that the impression I get from this entry is that it is not so much a list of signs that a church is a cult (in reality, this list is not even remotely similar to any other list of signs of cults that I can find on the internet), but rather that the author simply listed 15 things they don’t like/find suspect about the Catholic Church and just CALLED it signs of a cult.



    I feel like this blog is 100% accurate. I gave my mom a dollar so she can donate to the church she started going to even though deep down I knew they were false teaching. But now I’m convinced Sunday morning church is a cult. This woman at my job is trying hard for me to go to her church but deep down I don’t need Jesus in my life. I just feel like its boring and its all make believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  • arihanta

    I’ve had a similar experience with a Korean cult named Jeung San Do. They would do classic cult techniques like instant friends and love-bombing. And they were very forceful with meetings and especially with paying money to do some ritual to be “saved”. They believe that their cult is the highest institution in reality and they also divide the world into the in-crowd and the out-crowd. They also don’t seem to be able to take social cues nor are they respectful of social customs and especially of the unspoken ones. They especially aren’t very scrupulous with people; they would call up non-stop–when the person refuses to answer–until they give up, and they would use an unfamiliar number in order to try to reach the person. In my experience, it took a threat to use law enforcement to get them to back off initially, and then a strong insult to deter further attempts.


    • arihanta

      I haven’t written about this in full, but I would sure love to. I figure it would be necessary to inform the people on the web about this cult and my experience with them.


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