Every once in awhile, I post information that may be of help to people who have loved ones in a cult or other type of toxic religious group. I’ve seen what type of emotional and spiritual damage such groups cause. The following is a list I composed awhile back about some do’s and don’ts for cult members in your life.
- DON’T accuse your friend/loved one of being brainwashed or in a cult. (trust me, I know it’s difficult!) Such sentiments may seem justified, but will only push your loved one away from you and closer to the group.
- DO explain, in a non-confrontational way, that you have some concerns about their doctrine. Hopefully, this will lead to some serious dialogue.
- DON’T offer literature espousing denominational beliefs unless he asks for it. People caught up in a legalistic belief system need to be pointed toward Jesus, not a denomination.
- DO have lots of pamphlets, books, and other materials about orthodox Christianity in general on hand. Avoid literature that uses too many complex theological terms.
- DON’T be defensive about sharing your denomination’s history. (I say this because many have misconceptions about how other groups came into being). This can be a good opener.
- DO answer any questions about your knowledge of Church history honestly. It’s okay if you don’t have ALL the answers. Most people will appreciate you sharing what you know.
- DO know when you’ve discussed as much as you can. Sometimes she will need time to think before more discussion.
- DON’T take it personally if he won’t visit your congregation. Fear-based teachings can cause one to dread the consequences of attending the “wrong” church. DO extend the invitation lovingly and without pressure.
- DON’T belittle their spiritual experiences because they may vary from your understanding. DO listen to them. These are two of the most important do’s and don’ts for cult members.
- DO be a faithful witness to Christ. As the saying goes, you may be the only Gospel that someone hears.
I hope this list of do’s and don’ts for cult members has been helpful. Next week: tips for churches and clergy on helping ex-cult members.