Dominionism and coercive tactics, part 2
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Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 09:00:10 PM EST
As noted in the previous post in this series, I am presenting a series of posts on how dominionist groups in general--and dominionist groups that are heavily involved in "deliverance ministry"/"spiritual warfare" memes in particular--can be considered as coercive religious groups or "spiritually abusive" groups, especially the parent churches of some dominionist groups.

In the first post, I had focused primarily on comparisons of both dominionism itself and dominionist churches in particular (with a focus on those groups into spiritual warfare/deliverance ministry and the whole "third wave" movement in pente/charismatic churches--a movement that itself is strongly affiliated with dominionism and which gives most of the moral justification for dominionism in those churches) on lists of "coerciveness" used by various counseling groups that deal with people who are "walkaways"--persons who have either left or been thrown out of spiritually abusive groups.

This post is slightly different in focus, is also bound to be controversial, and focuses on a specific subset of the dominionist "parallel economy"--"Christian Counselors" aka "Theophostic Counseling" which is promoted as an alternative to "secular, anti-Christian" counseling by dominionist churches and groups such as the American Family Association.

By necessity, this essay will also focus on the practice of spiritual warfare/deliverance ministry within dominionist churches, especially dominionist churches in the pente/charismatic movements (including the AoG, Vineyard, and many "independent charismatic" megachurches such as Ted Haggard's New Life Church) as backgrounder.

The reason I expect this essay to be controversial is because this is a comparison of tactics used in "spiritual warfare" groups (including "Christian Counselors" and a group infamous for spiritual abuse--the "Church" of Scientology.

I'm posting this info in part in hopes to show why debating dominionists is occasionally reminiscent of beating one's head against a brick wall--many people don't realise the "home churches" of dominionists specifically teach that people outside the dominionist movement are "full of Satan" and hold up people as Marguerite Perrin as examples of "steadfast Christian soldiers".

I'm also posting in the hopes that--knowing the tactics and the similarities to known spiritually abusive practices--we can find some way to either reach dialogue or at least prevent further damage to civil liberties.

Recently (in reference to this recent post on Dark Christianity in reference to a case of "death by exorcism") I stumbled upon the following series of articles on "Christian Counseling" aka "Theophostic Counseling", which is promoted heavily in the dominionist community as an alternative to "secular" psychiatry:

In these articles I found characteristics in addition to those aspects of "deliverance ministry/spiritual warfare" in dominionist churches that I am personally familiar with (being a walkaway from a coercive AoG church into "Third Wave" theology, which incorporates "deliverance ministry/spiritual warfare" as part of its integral theology, and having also done some research on churches in the dominionist movement with similar theology such as Ted Haggard's New Life Church in Colorado Springs) that are especially troubling, as they show that the basic coercive tactics used in these churches are substantially identical to those used in a group much better known for being coercive--specifically, Scientology.

For comparisons between the practices of "Christian Counseling" targeted towards dominionists and Scientology, I will rely on information from the sites listed above (and other sites where necessary) regarding "deliverance ministry" theology and will rely on various online sources regarding the latter (which will be documented).

The site lists "theophostic counseling" as being similar to "recovered memory therapy" with the following twists:

Associated with each of these traumatic memories is a false belief--a lie--implanted by Satan. It is the lie, more than the abuse memories themselves, that causes distress in adulthood.

Now, this is a rather new twist, but this is almost identical to the entire idea of "engrams" in Scientology:


Scientologists are convinced that every human is under the influence of Xenu, who 60 billion years ago released Thetans on earth.
These Thetans are in each of us, and cause 'engrams'.
Scientology can erase those, so that someone becomes 'clear'

Now, what the hell are "thetans" and "engrams"? According to Scientology, all of your problems are the result of "body thetans"--little alien ghosts resulting from Xenu having blown them up in Kilahuea and Las Palmas millions of years ago. They can in turn implant false mental images--"engrams"--that are the cause of all your problems. explains it a bit better:
Engram, a posited memory trace that remains after a moment of pain and unconsciousness. Hubbard didn't coin this word; it can be found in Webster's, and is part of the ISV, the International Scientific Vocabulary.

BT, Body Thetan. Usually plural. Evil spirits which need to be exorcized. "OT 5 consists entirely of running out BTs; what a bore."

Remember these terms--many of the same concepts used in "theophostic therapy" to deal with "demon possession" and "lies implanted by Satan" are identical (save for the Bible-flavouring versus bad-space-opera flavouring) to those used in Scientology.
Satan, or one of his demons, continually tries to exploit these lies by causing the individual adult to engage in sinful behaviors, causing feelings of guilt.

Here, too, Scientology has almost an exact parallel:


Scientologists are convinced that every human is under the influence of Xenu, who 60 billion years ago released Thetans on earth.
These Thetans are in each of us, and cause 'engrams'.
Scientology can erase those, so that someone becomes 'clear'.
This takes some steps, and they cost money. Initially little, but the higher one gets (the purpose is to become Operating Thetan) the more one pays. The director of Scientology International states in the Washington Post that members can pay up to 20,000 dollar for this. Critics estimate the amount as 300,000 dollar. The clearing process can take long, because Scientologists are convinced that there are also thetans from past lifes in us. They also have to go. Which costs money.

In the case of Scientology, the "engrams" and "body thetans" are seen as the cause of all ills, just as "demons" are seen as the cause of literally all ills in dominionist groups into "deliverance ministry".  And much as in Scientology (where anything can be the cause of further infection with "engrams" or "body thetans"), many "deliverance ministry" groups will claim literally anything outside the group will cause one to be demonised.

Going back to the dominionist verison:

During a TPM counseling session, encourages the person to revisit the  memory and then allows Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to enter the mind of a born-again Christian and cause the lies to be over-written and corrected  -- much like a virus is removed from an computer disk.

This is almost identical to the concept of "clearing" in Scientology. This bears some explanation.


In the book, Hubbard claimed to have developed a new scientifically proven technique, discovered through "many years of exact search and careful testing," for the improvement of mental health through the eradication of "engrams"--stored memories that cause aberration in humans.

According to Hubbard, engrams begin accumulating "in the cells of the zygote, which is to say, conception," many of these engrams being caused by abortion attempts, and that between 20 and 30 such attempts are an average number for a typical mother.

Engrams are removed through a process called "auditing," which can produce "tears and wailings," "somatics enough to make the patient roll around on the floor," and a "patient...that bounces about, all unconscious of the action."

From another article
In Dianetics, the therapist asked the patient to repeat the phrases. Hubbard called this "repeater technique" and, in early Dianetics, it was the principal method for discovering traumatic incidents.

Hubbard renamed the "unconscious" the "Reactive Mind." He differentiated two principal types of trauma: "physical pain or unconsciousness," and "emotional loss." Before Dianetics was published, three words had been tried out to describe the first type of trauma: norn, impediment and comanome. Eventually, Dr. Winter suggested that a word already current would fit the bill. The word was "engram," defined in Dorland's 1936 Medical dictionary as "a lasting mark or trace .... In psychology it is the lasting trace left in the psyche by anything that has been experienced psychically; a latent memory picture." Hubbard limited the term to actual pain or unconsciousness, separating out emotional losses as "secondary engrams" or "secondaries," meaning they were only stored where an earlier, similar "engram" existed. Freud too had commented on trauma based on both physical pain and emotional loss.

So, according to Hubbard, the "Reactive Mind" is composed of recordings of incidents of physical pain or unconsciousness called "engrams." The earliest engram (or "basic") is the foundation of a "chain" of engrams, and through re-experiencing it, the "chain" will dissipate. To make an earlier engram available it is necessary to "destimulate" more recent engrams by re-experiencing them.

Hubbard claimed it was possible to relieve all such engrams, thus "erasing" the Reactive (unconscious) Mind. A person without a Reactive Mind would be "Clear."

Yes, you're reading this right--both Scientology and "theophostic psychiatry" are talking about "clearing the mind" of people, only using different terminology.

Again from Religious Tolerance:

It is possible that a demon has actually entered the client's mind, masquerading as Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The therapist must verify the identity of the indwelling spirit before proceeding.

And the Scientology parallel:
To make a Clear, it would be necessary to erase the earliest engram by re-experiencing it. Hubbard asserted that the engram of birth was very important, and claimed it was possible, and necessary, to find the earliest engram, long before birth, perhaps as far back as conception, the "sperm dream."

According to Hubbard, further research showed that, behind the analytical and reactire minds, there lay entities known as "Thetans." These Thetans are non-physical and immortal, somewhat analogous to the human soul; they inhabit human bodies, moving them around like puppets. Because of their immortality, when their current human host dies, they are forced to vacate and must find another host.

Apparently, these Thetans come equipped with all of the engrams they have collected in all of their previous lifetimes. Hubbard taught it was possible, although extremely expensive, to clear even these ancient engrams

Yes, demonology exists in Scientology as much as it does in "deliverance ministry"--it's a matter of terminology.  In fact, people reading about how thetans jump from generation to generation may be reminded of the concept of "generational curses" in dominionist thought!

Going back to the Religious Tolerance article:

Once the lies in the person's early memory have been corrected, the linkage to today's emotional problems and sinful practices is broken. Satan can not tempt a person to sin as easily as he could before the TPM sessions. The person is healed.

Again, this is nearly identical to claims for "clearing" in Scientology:


Once all the engrams are removed, the person becomes a "Clear" and never again has colds or accidents, has improved IQ, total call, a longer life, and is perhaps even cured of cancer. Or such are the claims.

(The full depth of explanation in this case--most groups into "deliverance ministry" also teach that diseases, etc. are the result of demonic possession. This is most evident in the case of "word-faith" "healing services" but is explicitly espoused by at least one group promoting deliverance ministry and the concept has even been extended to "generational curses" in many churches into "third wave" theology.)

Religious Tolerance has grave concerns:

Of concern is that TheoPhostic counseling is performed in a religious setting, typically by conservative Christian counselors with no academic qualifications. Many believe that since prayer is involved in the sessions, that God will prevent any evil acts or false memories from emerging. It is our opinion that God is not responsible for any good effects of TPM nor is Satan responsible for any evil results. Rather, the impact of TPM -- whether good or evil -- is determined by the counselor, the client, and their interaction. During the 1980s and 1990s, RMT seriously harmed many tens of thousands of its victims, drove some to suicide, and disrupted tens of thousands of families of origin.    Many of its victims were counseled in a conservative Christian religious setting. Since TPM and RMT are so closely related, we urge the reader avoid becoming involved in TPM or in any other similar experimental therapy. We suspect that TPM has the same potential  for evil, if it becomes widely used.

Another area where they can be compared, sadly, is in involuntary attempts to "exorcise" people.

Deliverance ministry groups (including "Christian Counselors") and Scientology also believe it is permissible to involuntarily confine and attempt exorcisms on people.  Scientology terms it "Introspection rundown".

Anyways, here's a look at the "Christian counseling" and deliverance ministry versions.

Per the ethical standards of one particular group certifying "Christian Counselors", they do accept involuntary restraints for persons being "exorcised" including involuntary exorcisms:


1-331 Special Consent for More Difficult Interventions
Close or special consent is obtained for more difficult and controversial practices.
These include, but are not limited to: deliverance and spiritual warfare activities; cult deprogramming work; recovering memories and treatment of past abuse or trauma; use of
hypnosis and any kind of induction of altered states; authorizing (by MDs) medications,
elecrtro-convulsive therapy, or patient restraints; use of aversive, involuntary, or
experimental therapies; engaging in reparative therapy with homosexual persons; and
counseling around abortion and end-of-life issues. These interventions require a more
detailed discussion with patient-clients or client representatives of the procedures, risks, and treatment alternatives, and we secure detailed written agreement for the procedure.

(At least two of these--"recovered memory therapy" and "reparative therapy" are in fact seen as potentially causing psychiatric injury by most psychiatric associations and the latter is actually grounds for decertification by the American Psychiatric Association.)

There are other accounts available regarding involuntary exorcisms at the hands of dominionists:


Father Leo Booth, an Episcopal minister, writes that one characteristic of abusive religion is that it is authoritarian and seeks to have total control over its adherents. When people use their thinking or critical skills they are told that the devil is at work in their lives or that they are possessed by demons.

This was true of my experience at summer camp. Because I continually questioned my counselors teachings, he performed an involuntary exorcism on me to remove the demons that were at work in my life. This exorcism was needless to say a traumatic experience. Father Leo Booth says that the prohibition against questioning is the prelude to all other kinds of abuse. Because if you cannot challenge authority then you are in danger of being abused by authority.

Skipp Porteous, who is a walkaway from the AoG, documented an exorcism as performed by "deliverance ministers" in that denomination:


Exorcisms are long, arduous, and often violent. The church elders and I usually went to private homes to perform exorcisms. On some occasions our wives went with us, for extra spiritual power. In one home, an average, middle-class housewife knelt on the wall-to-wall carpet. As a dozen hands were laid on her head, we first prayed in tongues.

"Shun-da-da-da-ma hun-da. On-di, ma-kai-on-do," someone babbled.

"Come out! Come out in the name of Jesus! I command you to come out of her!" one elder shouted into her ear.

"You evil spirit of lust," he continued with great power and authority, "and you spirit of witchcraft, leave, in the name of Jesus!"

By now the atmosphere was charged and everyone continued to speak in tongues. The pitch grew louder as we feverishly prayed for the woman's deliverance from evil spirits.

Someone started to sing, "In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus." Everyone joined in and lifted their hands toward heaven. The woman slumped to the carpet floor and sobbed.

Seizing the moment, an elder clutched the woman with his burly hands. He blurted loudly in tongues and vigorously shook the woman. The rest of the group stopped singing and shouted incomprehensible utterances. The woman sat up, her knees digging into the carpet as the elder continued to shake the demons out of her.

"Come out! In the name of Jesus, I command you!" he yelled into her ear. Overwhelmed, she screamed and fought back. Now everyone held her by the arms and shoulders as they yelled for the demons to come out.

"(expletive) you! (expletive) you all!" the woman screamed. "You're all going to hell!"

While some of the women were shocked by the vulgarity, this outburst only encouraged us. Because a Christian wouldn't talk like that, we were now certain it was the demon speaking through her. Discovered, he was obviously ready to come out, but not before a last ditch effort.

Then she screamed again, and started to cough and gag. Having been through this many times, we had the whoopee bag ready, but she missed and vomited on the carpet.

Ecstatic, we shouted in unison, "Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!"

(The article also has accounts of other exorcism attempts.)

Another account of involuntary captivity of people subjected to "Christian Counseling", this time in South Africa:

Johannesburg -- A church on the East Rand has apparently been keeping people in shackles on church grounds for the past couple of years "to drive their demons out".

Although the Gauteng Association for Mental Health has been investigating this alleged "inhuman" situation for the past three months, the seven people, who might be mentally ill, have still not been freed from their chains.

Police spokesperson superintendent Eugene Opperman said police were investigating these allegations. "We will decide what to do as soon as we have enough information."

Some of the people have allegedly been held for years at the St John's Apostolic Faith Mission in Etwatwa, a township outside Benoni.
"For their own safety"

Pastor Paul Mabothe, a representative of the church, said it was necessary to keep the people in shackles "for their own safety".

"These people do funny things. They could run around and damage themselves or church property," Mabothe said.

He claimed these people had been possessed by "demons". "There is no scientific way to exorcise a demon. We do it through prayer and holy water. It normally takes between six and 18 months to heal a person."

These people may not leave the church grounds and sleep in shacks on the premises. They are given food and water "but we are overcrowded and need money to care for them properly," Mabothe said.

It may surprise people, but Scientology does have its equivalent.  Scientology's term for an involuntary exorcism is an "introspection rundown", and is performed for very similar reasons (usually on people at threat of walking away from Scientology):


Introspection Rundown, a therapy for handling psychotic breaks in the cult. Involves locking the person up to prevent bad PR with the isolation step, also called baby watch. Sometimes instilling such wacky ideas as Xenu, Body Thetans and OT III can make people a bit unstable; the IRD is used to contain people when they flip out.

(from (info on "introspection rundown" on Lisa McPhereson, possibly the most famous case of "death by Scientology"))

L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, wrote several "bulletins" about his process that he declared "Its results are nothing short of miraculous."[2] The three bulletins I'll be quoting from are:
  1. HCO Bulletin 23 January 1974 "The Technical Breakthrough of 1973! The Introspection RD"
  2. HCO Bulletin of 20 February 1974 "Introspection RD Additional Steps"
  3. HCO Bulletin of 6 March 1974 "Introspection RD Second Addition; Information to C/Ses, Fixated Attention"

A "rundown" in Scientology is a series of prescribed steps designed to produce a certain end result. These steps involve "auditing", which is looking back through a person's past to find some memory that is causing the person present time problems. The Introspection Rundown is designed to handle a psychotic break or mental breakdown. The theory of the Introspection Rundown is that if you can find what caused the person to become introverted and psychotic then you can handle that cause and break the psychotic episode.

The first step of the rundown is "isolate the person wholly with all attendants completely muzzled (no speech)." [1] Auditing sessions are given infrequently to search for the cause of the psychotic break during this rundown, otherwise the person is isolated in complete silence.

"When it is obvious the person is out of his psychosis and up to the responsibility of living with others his isolation is ended." [2] The supervisor in charge of the person being isolated tests the person's condition by writing a note, such as "'Dear Joe. What can you guarantee me if you are let out of isolation?'" [2] If Joe does not answer in writing satisfactorily, the supervisor must write back "'Dear Joe. I'm sorry but no go on coming out of isolation yet.'" [2] Of course, "this will elicit a protest from the person" [2] but the rundown is not over until the supervisor concludes that Joe has recognized what caused his psychotic break. Once the rundown is over, if the person is a Sea Org member (the elite corps that signs a billion year contract with the church), he/she is put on the RPF - a sort of manual labor detail, and is "told to make good." [3]

Just like in dominionist groups, people are held involuntarily:

(from (court testimony against Scientologists))

2) In June of 1996 I was held against my will in the Scientology, Clearwater, Florida facility and "ordered" to pay $7,400 before they would let me out of the room. I did not want to pay for what the two staff members insisted I must have, and what ensued was a verbal battle, emotional trauma and an attempt at financial extortion. After a time I managed to escape the physical detention, but two "Sea Org" members chased me right out into the streets of Clearwater to try to recapture me. I did not pay the money. This incident is on file with the Clearwater Police Department.

  1. In June of 1991 I was forced to pay, despite vehement protestations, the sum of $7,400 to Scientology on the "Freewinds" ship. The ruse used on that Wednesday was that if I did not pay then they would withhold my passport from me until I did pay. They did so and I had to pay the money to get it back.

  2. At the end of 1996 I was subjected to [a] horrible kind of "religious deprogramming" in the Scientology "Fort Harrison Hotel". This was done, using an "E-meter", by a top official of the "Religious technology Center" (RTC) namely Mr. Marty Rathbun. I was interrogated for several hours on the most intimate personal religious beliefs (Christian) and his actions were designed clearly to get me to give up my Christian religious beliefs in exchange for RTC's "eligibility authorization" to read a confidential publication about a defective "OT level" I had previously completed (OT 7).  His utter contempt for my religious beliefs were all to apparent. He felt that all other religions apart from Scientology should be destroyed and probably would be in time by Scientology, using RTC's programs of "eligibility's" as the means of forcing people to give up other faiths.

I also had to undergo many hours of 'false data removal",,,to try to "get me to realize" that the ONLY valid religion was Scientology.

It did not work.

Much as is the case with Scientology, dominionist groups are now being sued for involuntary confinement:

(from re a woman who won a $300,000 judgement for involuntary confinement by a "deliverance ministry" group associated with an AoG church)

But Bill Wuester, Schubert's attorney, said the teen- ager was a model high school student who held a job, paid for her car and looked forward to her senior prom. That changed in June 1996, he told the jury.

"This girl had no problems. ... She had a great life," Wuester said.

He reminded jurors that church officials and youth group members testified that they had pinned her to the sanctuary floor.

Schubert and other witnesses testified that she had kicked and yelled to try to break free.

"I don't know how many times a woman has to say `no' before she is believed," Wuester told the jury. "How many times does she have to say, `Get away. Don't hold me. Let me up. No!'?"

(from (warning: pro-dominionist))
Schubert's lawsuit described a bizarre night in which members anointed the sanctuary with holy oil, rapped on pews and propped a cross against the church doors to keep demons out.


In Tarrant County, Texas, a judge has awarded one Laura Schubert $300,000 in a civil case that charged the pastor and several members of Colleyvilles's Pleasant Glade Assembly of God with abuse and false imprisonment.  Ms. Schubert successfully claimed in court that on two occasions, members of this church attempted to "exorcise" her after anointing the church with holy oil, and propping up a cross against the door to keep demonic forces out, according to a report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  These attempts were particularly abusive to Ms. Schubert, spurring this lawsuit; however the church claims in a statement that "We are a Bible-believing, Pentecostal church.  For this we make no apologies."

Sadly, too, in both cases people have died from exorcism.

With dominionists, probably one of the more infamous cases involves the "death by exorcism" of an eight-year-old autistic child:

With Scientologists, probably the most infamous case is of Lisa McPhereson:

The truly frightening thing is that--even with all the similarities with Scientology--both the promotion of "theophostic counseling" aka "Christian Counseling" in dominionist groups as an alternative to "anti-Christian psychiatrists" has radically increased.  Not only this, but a number of major players in dominionism (including, notably, Ted Haggard's New Life Church) are major promoters of "Christian Counseling" and those same players (and the "Christian Counselors" in question) are major promoters of "deliverance ministry" in turn.

In the groups heavily into "deliverance ministry", mental health issues are actually seen as the result of "demonisation" (with exorcism, as opposed to medical treatment, being seen as the proper course of action).

Many groups into the "name it and claim it" aspects as well as "deliverance ministry" go so far as to claim that even the common cold, flu, et al are not the result of germs but demonic infestation:

(from which is quoted in

There are demon spirits for every sickness, unholy trait, and DOCTRINAL ERROR known among men. They must be cast out or resisted in order to experience relief from them. Disease germs, which are closely allied with unclean spirits, are really living forms of corruption which come into the bodies of men bringing them to death. Just as refuse breeds maggots, so man in his fallen state of corruption breeds germs through unclean living and contact with corruption in the fallen world. THEY ARE AGENTS OF SATAN, CORRUPTING THE BODIES OF HIS VICTIMS.

Yes, you're reading that right--they quite literally believe that viruses, bacteria et al are in fact physically manifesting demons.

Dominionist groups are also increasingly against "secular" psychiatry, partly because psychiatrists are becoming more aware of and friendly towards issues regarding gay/les/bi/trans individuals and partly because the practices in churches into "deliverance ministry" are increasingly themselves being seen as coercive and psychologically harmful.

Generally they will at least claim "secular" psychiatrists/psychologists have an "anti-Christian agenda"; dominionist therapists and other professionals are now increasingly going through "parallel economy" certification mills and dominionist-run professional associations.

In part, this is because (in part due to use of techniques like exorcisms, promotion of "reparative therapy"--incidentially, Scientology also claims to be able to "de-gay" people--and similar techniques) generally in mainstream therapy associations "Christian Counselors" would be ineligible for certification; practically EVERY mainstream psychiatric, psychological, social-work, and even a few non-mental-health-related medical groups have ALL condemned "de-gaying" therapy as well as "recovered memory therapy", and the psychological/psychiatric associations in particular will revoke certification if they find a psych or social worker attempting to "de-gay" people. (This is part of what has "Love In Action" in licensing trouble with the state of Tennessee--the state is wanting to shut them down for running an unlicensed mental health center. It is in fact impossible for a "de-gaying" center to be licensed as a mental health center, as they rely on APA certification for licensure, and the APA will not give certification to groups practicing "de-gaying therapy" per their own ethics rules.)

Because of this, dominionist groups are now encouraging their members to not visit traditional psychiatrists but "Christian counselors" that are "certified" by dominionist-run groups (like NARTH or a dominionist alternative to the American Academy of Pediatrics)

A short list of dominionist groups condemning psychiatry or promoting "Christian counseling" as an alternative: (and in fact the Traditional Values Coalition in general seems to hate psychiatry: details more) (in a rare example of honestly, admits part of why they are steering away from psychiatrists is due to the increasing knowledge that many dominionist groups are coercive and psychologically harmful) (incorporates psychiatry into the general "martyr complex" of dominionism) (Jimmy Swaggart condemns psychiatry) (Moody Church--home of Moody Bible Institute--claiming psychiatrists are interfering with God)

Many dominionist groups in fact maintain mental illness does not in fact exist, but is either the result of sin or demonisation: (apparently he also pushes the whole "name it and claim it" stuff here, too; as it is, schizophrenia is now known to have a strong genetic component and have measurable MRI changes, showing it is an organic brain disorder)

Also, of note, the major promoters of "Christian counseling" are in fact not only a who's who of dominionism but also very often the same ones condemning "secular" psychiatry: (from a major group promoting "Christian counseling"; most of the endorsers are major players within the dominionist movement or from churches strongly associated with dominionism)

Both Rapha and New Life Church are very interesting to note.  Rapha is probably the most promoted alternative to "secular psychotherapy" among dominionist groups (Rapha also cross-promotes other "Christian Counseling" groups); New Life Church is also a major promoter of "Christian Counseling" to the point of having links on its website where one can find a "Christian Counselor".

Rapha in particular will allow involuntary committment of adults and has a section on their website which lists facilities that allow involuntary committment.

A list of facilities with links to dominionism or "Christian counseling" as practiced in the dominionist community: (pro-dominionist, from person wanting to set up explicitly dominionist mental hospital) (person asking in context of dominionists who may attempt involuntary commitments of adults to "Christian mental health facilities") (person who admitted self to "Christian mental hospital"--warning, somewhat pro-dominionist) (person who eventually murdered family after being committed to Pine Ridge Christian Mental Health Facility, a facility frequently mentioned in reports on "Christian mental hospitals") (list of "Christian counselors" including those providing inpatient care) (inpatient "Christian mental hospital" that has been promoted by dominionist groups; may itself promote dominionist ideas per; more evidence of dominionist links is primarily through funding by DeVos Foundation: and
(major funders include DeVos Foundation--which funds almost entirely dominionist causes--see for a full list)) (another promoter of "Christian mental hospitals"; this is the website of Ted Haggard's New Life Church, a heavily dominionist and coercive group that embraces "Brownsville" aka "Third-wave" style "deliverance ministry" techniques as part of its essential dominionist dogma; has web search for dominionist "Christian Counselors" at (another dominionist operator of "Christian mental hospitals") (provider of outpatient and "day program" semi-outpatient "Christian mental health" services; explicitly dominionist (per their links page: (dominionist "Christian mental health" facility which also includes inpatient treatment; explicitly dominionist, promotes "reparative therapy" (; also has links to other "Christian mental hospitals") (dominionist group not only promoting "Christian mental health" facilities but also promoting deceptive "pregnancy counseling centers" which often end in pregnant teens being involuntarily held there and custody of their children forfeited to dominionist adoption programs) (dominionist facility for people with eating disorders, promoted by dominionist Meier Clinics) (Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, "Christian mental hospital" promoted by Meier Clinics) (Eckerd Youth Alternatives, "Christian mental healthcare" group promoted by Meier Clinics) (dominionist substance-abuse care facility) (explicitly dominionist inpatient facility for "at-risk youth"; the statement of faith of the facility is pretty blatant (

This is not the first time "Christian counselors" have been directly associated with harmful practices.  In the main article, we mentioned "RMT" or "Recovered Memory Therapy"--what a lot of people don't know is that the main pushers of RMT were in fact dominionist churches wishing to push the myth of "Satanic Panic"--that there were secretly diabolist cabals throughout the US.  Not coincidentially, these were the same "deliverance ministry" folks who were promoting not only the whole idea of "Satanic Panic" in the first place (and that everything was demonised outside of themselves) but now are the major promoters of "Christian Counseling" or "Theophostic Counseling" as an alternative to psychiatry in dominionist communities.

If any of you want to know just how extreme it can get with "deliverance ministry", here's some examples of "deliverance ministry" in action:

"Deliverance ministry" folks pushing "satanic panic" to cops:

Major pushers of "satanic panic" (showing how it originated with "deliverance ministry" preachers): (notes Calvary Chapel involvement--of note, Calvary Chapel also owns (both directly and through multiple front groups) a network of approximately 7000 radio stations (and this is a very conservative estimate)--mostly low-power translators--in "godcasting" networks--I will be doing upcoming research on the massive hijacking of low-power FM slots and even fullpower nonprofit FM slots by "Godcasters" and posting on here in the upcoming weeks) (notes involvement of Mike Warnke, who was exposed as fraud--he had claimed to be a member of a diabolist cult in his "Christian comedy" routine, but was outed as a fake by Cornerstone Magazine)

Info on "deliverance ministry" practitioners pushing the use of "Christian counselors" over psychatrists certified through non-dominionist professional associations (interestingly, originally in reference to "satanic panic"): (notes on how "Christian counselors" often practice exorcisms, speak of mass demonisation, and other features of "deliverance ministry" practiced by them--also major promoter of "Satanic Panic", and just about only promoter of it nowadays) (use of narcotics--"truth serum", sodium pentothal--by counselors)

(It should be noted that according to multiple sources--including exit counselors and experts on religion--not one confirmed case of actual "satanic ritual abuse" (of the type promoted by "Christian counselors" and the like) has been documented (per; in fact, one of the very few documented forms of "ritual abuse" or religiously motivated child abuse is specifically among practitioners of "deliverance ministry" itself (per and ESPECIALLY and has further reference to "Christian Counseling" (also referred to as "theophostic" counseling).

As an example of how groups into "deliverance ministry" can literally consider anything and everything outside the group as not only Satanic but potentially demonising: (this particular site and its owners are the subject of an expose on Dark Christianity:

And just in case one doubts these people are also involved at the heart of the dominionist movement: (Ted Haggard's church in Colorado Springs--New Life Church is very heavily into both "third wave" teachings and "word-faith"--both of which incorporate elements of "deliverance ministry" heavily) (National Religious Broadcasters, which is the major association of "godcasting" networks and heavily linked to groups involved in "deliverance ministry") (regarding known fraud Mike Warnke (who claimed to be an ex-Satanist but was exposed in Cornerstone Magazine) and involvement of his co-author and major supporter in the Coalition on Revival, one of two major "think tanks"/planning committees for dominionist groups) (more direct links between Warnke and a member of the Coalition on Revival, thus proving dominionist groups into "deliverance ministry" were the major force behind "satanic panic")

The fact that these people--especially the NRB, which is the driving force behind the "parallel media" used by dominionists--are promoting groups that use tactics that are often identical to one of the most infamous coercive religious groups should frighten people.

The fact that these people are also pushing for a national agenda where they would have the power of law to commit someone to "Christian Counseling" and involuntary exorcism should horrify people to the point of action.

Kerr Cuhulain, whose series about misinformation about Wicca and Paganism is extensively featured in this post, has a recently published book which puts this together:

Witch Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet

It's a who's who of people who have made their livings by being 'authorities' about "the occult", and some of them have participated in forcible exorcisms.

It's definitely a book to get if you are researching this very scary subject. Many of these people have posed as 'authorities' on 'the occult', giving misinformation to police departments and other authorities. Cuhulain himself is a retired Toronto police officer, who has battled misinformation in his own force for decades. He created "Officers of Avalon", an organization for Pagan first responders, who "want(s) to show the world that we follow valid and respectable spiritual paths."

by Lorie Johnson on Sun Nov 27, 2005 at 10:59:45 AM EST

Oh, I agree, the book "Witch Hunts" is an invaluable resource to know, among other things, what dominionist groups into the "deliverance ministry" angles are saying to their own.  (I actually used it fairly extensively as an outside resource as well as its companion website if you notice some of the links :3)

This is a particular aspect of the dominionist community of which very little is available either than from people like Cuhulain who are specifically researching it, walkaways from dominionist groups involved in it, or intersections of the two (as is occuring more frequently with exit counseling groups, in particular with Rick Ross Institute and FACTnet who seem to have the most info regarding "Bible-based" spiritually abusive groups connected with the dominionist movement).

by dogemperor on Sun Nov 27, 2005 at 12:21:46 PM EST

thyroid symptoms. I really liked it. I was searching for such information. Thanks for sharing such an helpful post.

by roneybhatt on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 06:11:08 AM EST


You mention in your bio that you walked away from a coercive church group... was wondering if you would be willing to answer a few questions over e-mail... have family member who may be in similar situation - looking for advice... thanks

emilywynn8 (at)

by EmilyWynn8 on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 04:30:23 PM EST

Went ahead and bounced you an email--will be glad to answer questions and also direct to walkaway resources if need be.

by dogemperor on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 04:49:16 PM EST

You've done a great research job and a terrific job posting this article which was very interesting to read. I think it's good that you give us so much info about dominionism since I think that it's important that we all know a lot about them and what to expect from them.
William, Programmer currently working on the lose 10 pounds project.
by William M on Sun Mar 09, 2008 at 06:32:09 PM EST

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