Dominionism and coercive tactics, part 2
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.
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. http://www.faqs.org/faqs/scientology/dictionary/ 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.
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.
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.
From another article http://www.factnet.org/Books/PieceOfBlueSky/bs3-1.htm:
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.
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.
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
(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.
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.
(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".
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 http://www.whyaretheydead.net/lisa_mcpherson/introspe.htm (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." The three bulletins I'll be quoting from are:
Just like in dominionist groups, people are held involuntarily:
(from http://www.lisamcpherson.org/pattinsn.htm (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.
Much as is the case with Scientology, dominionist groups are now being sued for involuntary confinement:
(from http://www.rickross.com/reference/exorcism/exorcism6.html 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.
(from http://www.tvbn.com/Charisma/CharismaNewsUpdate20020325.html (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.
AG CHURCH SUED OVER EXORCISM
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 http://www.exposingsatanism.org/spirit-world.htm which is quoted in http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=cabc&c=whs&id=8648)
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:
http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=2345 (and in fact the Traditional Values Coalition in general seems to hate psychiatry: http://www.traditionalvalues.org/search.php?search=psychiatry&Submit=GO details more)
Many dominionist groups in fact maintain mental illness does not in fact exist, but is either the result of sin or demonisation:
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:
http://www.rapha.info/endorse.html (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:
http://4god.blogspot.com/2005/03/new-endeavor.html (pro-dominionist, from person wanting to set up explicitly dominionist mental hospital)
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):
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=cabc&c=whs&id=4736 (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)
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"):
(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 http://www.religioustolerance.org/sra.htm); 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 http://www.religioustolerance.org/sra_rece.htm and ESPECIALLY http://www.religioustolerance.org/ra_intro.htm and http://www.religioustolerance.org/ra_real.htm).)
http://www.religioustolerance.org/theophostic.htm 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:
And just in case one doubts these people are also involved at the heart of the dominionist movement:
http://www.harpers.org/SoldiersOfChrist.html (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)
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.
Dominionism and coercive tactics, part 2 | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
Dominionism and coercive tactics, part 2 | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)