"Faith based coercion" in recovery programs
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Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 11:44:51 AM EST
The following post is in part meant as a followup to a previous post I've done in regards to "faith based coercion"--that is, dominionist-operated "faith based initiatives" often marketed as recovery programs for prisoners and/or as an alternative to secular recovery programs that are increasingly becoming a mandatory condition for early release or staying out of prison.

In this report, I am going to focus on one particular program--SAFE Ministries (a program that is promoted as a "Christian alternative" to twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous).  I will be doing further posts in this series in regards to other "recovery programs" promoted in the dominionist community.

The first group I became aware of via a recent posting on Dark Christianity expressing concern regarding a spammed email promoting "SAFE Ministries" and expressing concern regarding heavy emphasis on "scripture saturation" in the program.

SAFE Ministries is a group that promotes itself within the dominionist community--and to an extent outside of it--as a "faith based" alternative to AA meetings.  (Ironically, Alcoholics Anonymous itself has been criticised by atheist and agnostic groups for part of its creed stating belief in a higher power--hence the existence of groups like Rational Recovery and the like.)

One of the groups heavily promoting SAFE Ministries as a "Christian alternative" to AA and other recovery groups is the Southern Baptist Convention:

"What we're trying to do is recondition their minds through Scripture saturation. This is not a baptized 12-step program; it's a totally different approach that is bringing about changed lives on a much higher level than other approaches."

His approach includes providing a house where recovering addicts live and pay rent while providing each other with spiritual and emotional support. Businesses in the city have embraced the program by providing clients with employment because of their proven work ethic.
    --Missionary's commitment leads inner city lives to Christ, March 4, 2005

In other words, it's set up pretty explicitly as a "halfway house" setup with a heavy emphasis on prosyletisation.

Now, the phrase "Scripture Salvation" set off alarm bells with myself and several other people on the group.  "Scripture Saturation" is a code-phrase often used in the dominionist community to denote dominionist-oriented, "Bible-based" programs with a heavy emphasis on indoctrination into the dominionist view--as people have noted, this is used particularly in marketing dominionist "faith based" programs for addicts but is used in a larger sense in the dominionist community as a code word for essentially "dominionist":

http://www.sbcpray.net/viewdetails.asp?id=10343 (from Southern Baptist Convention operated website)
http://www.calvarynet.net/carenetgrouplistings.htm (from a church specifically using the SAFE Ministries program as a "Christian Recovery" program, see below)

SAFE Ministries seems to be using it in the sense of "dominionist 'faith based' recovery program". Specifically, "scripture saturation" (both in the dominionist community at large and in dominionist recovery programs in particular) seems to rely on picking specific verses from the Bible and studying them as a mantra:

(from http://tinpan.fortunecity.com/crusty/820/week1.htm which contains a detailed discussion of the SAFE Ministries program; there is a mirror at http://members.fortunecity.com/robbhillhouse/life1.htm)

Third, we will practice the principle of Scripture Saturation. What does that mean?

It means that we will find positive verses and Scriptures that deal with the problem areas we are facing. We will fill our minds and our hearts with those verses, repeating them twenty five times four times a day. We will choose verses that deal with the opposite of the problem we are facing. If we are dealing with depression, we will focus our minds on joy! If we are struggling with anger, we will concentrate on love. If we're having a problem with unforgivness, we will find and saturate with verses on forgiveness. It's a simple process, and the result is always positive change! If we will commit ourselves to doing the work, we will find that there is victory in the name of Jesus!

The group also practices a form of "deliverance ministry" by its own admission:
We have to change the principles we live by. Simply stated if we live by the devil's we will die; but if we live by the Lord's we will live! The wrong principles will lead us into bondage. But the right principles will lead us into freedom!
One thing we must keep in mind as we explore these problems areas is that there is a spiritual dimension to them. It's am area many of us have tried to avoid, but, try as we do, we can't get away from it.

The Bible clearly reveals that there are angels, which are good spiritual forces, and there are demons, which are evil spiritual forces. There are no "neutral" spiritual forces. So, we can surmise from this that there is nothing "neutral" in our lives, as well. Things that happen to us are either from God, that is, good; or from the devil, that is, evil. Where does spiritual bondage fit in?

Any form of spiritual bondage, whether manifested in an addiction or in an emotional instability, has a negative spiritual basis. God wants us free, but our enemy, the devil, wants us in bondage. Why? Because it destroys our spiritual witness and our spiritual effectiveness. Jesus wants us free because freedom is a good witness and makes us more effective as Christians.

Not to worry, though; we're not focusing on "casting out demons" in S.A.F.E. That, by the way, is a good thing, and Biblically speaking, well within the power of any believer, but in and of itself, it is not good enough. Jesus illustrated this when he taught of the man who was "demonized", and was "delivered." The demon went out and found seven more worse than itself. The second state of the man, Jesus taught, was worse than the first. This is because demons were cast out, but nothing was given to fill the void left by the departure of the demons. This is illustrated in our society by those who quit drinking or abusing drugs for awhile, but return to it after a time of sobriety. Usually, the second time around in the addiction is worse than the first.

However, there is a second and equally distorted view. This is the view that it's enough just to teach Biblical truth. This is also good, but there are times that the underlying spiritual basis must be addressed fort what it is, and if that includes "deliverance", than that needs to happen. However, what we are searching for is a balance between the two extremes. The spiritual issues must be addressed if necessary, and then the void must be filled with truth. How do we do that? We do that by changing from the inside out.

(In English: We claim we're not into all that exorcism stuff, but we'll still tell you that you're "possessed by demons of addiction" and we'll be  quite happy to refer you to "deliverance services")

There are at least three separate dangers I can see with this:

a) Scripture is being explicitly used as a "blocking mantra" which, according to multiple checklists, is a danger sign of a spiritually abusive religious group in and of itself:

(from http://www.factnet.org/coercivemindcontrol.html)


Increase suggestibility and "soften up" the individual through specific hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as:Extended audio, visual, verbal, or tactile fixation drills, Excessive exact repetition of routine activities, Sleep restriction and/or Nutritional restriction.

(from http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/responsibility/lifton.htm)
3. Loading the Language

Controlling words help to control people's thoughts. A totalist group uses totalist language to make reality compressed into black or white-"thought-terminating clichés." Non-members cannot simply understand what believers are talking about. The words constrict rather than expand human understanding.

(from http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/responsibility/mind.htm#thought which is Steven Hassan's BITE model--section: Thought Control)
III. Thought Control

1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"

    a. Map = Reality
    b. Black and White thinking
    c. Good vs. evil
    d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

  1. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".

  2. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.

  3. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.

    a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
    b. Chanting
    c. Meditating
    d. Praying
    e. Speaking in "tongues"
    f. Singing or humming

  1. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

  2. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful

(from http://www.rickross.com/reference/cults_in_our_midst/cults_in_our_midst4.html)
Trance and Hypnosis

When this method is used in a cultic environment, it becomes a form of psychological manipulation and coercion because the cult leader implants suggestions aimed at his own agenda while the person is in a vulnerable state.

(emphasis mine in italics)

Secondly, dominionist groups are known for use of "Scripture Twisting"--taking a piece of Biblical scripture out of context for use in a coercive platform. "Touch not mine annointed" or "thou shalt not touch men of God" (the latter specifically referring in its original context to telling other nations not to attack Israeli priests or its king) is a common Bible quote in dominionist groups practicing "spiritual warfare" techniques that is used to stifle dissent in the group.  Dominionist groups into "deliverance ministry" even go to the extreme of accusing critics of being possessed by "demons of rebellion" (this is a pattern tracable in dominionist "spiritual warfare" groups affiliated with the pentecostal and charismatic movements, including Maranatha, since at least the early 70's and far before that in many groups, and is increasingly turning up even in non-pentecostal and non-charismatic dominionist movements).

An example of how this works in many dominionist groups is documented here on a walkaway forum for survivors of spiritually abusive pentecostal and charismatic groups. Another thread on the same forum details how these groups often isolate members from families. The promotion of "deliverance ministry" in and of itself (and the promotion of addiction being the result of demonisation, etc.) is in itself troubling.  I have noted fairly extensively in this previous Talk2Action post how "Christian counseling" groups practicing "deliverance ministry" as an essential part of their practice are highly coercive, often with tactics that are indistinguishable from similar tactics within Scientology (a spiritually abusive group that is widely regarded as highly coercive and harmful); I note in a previous post how "deliverance ministry" as practiced within dominionist groups is one of the single most spiritually abusive of practices within churches affiliated with the dominionist movement.  Previous to expansion of dominionism to groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, reports of spiritual abuse related to "deliverance ministry" were associated primarily with dominionist pentecostal and charismatic groups; that the SBC is now apparently directly promoting a "soft-sell" version of deliverance ministry is troubling indeed.

And--interestingly--abuse in therapy programs is another area where dominionist movements actually share common ground with other coercive groups.  Synanon was a group that established its own theology as the basis of its "therapy" (much as SAFE Ministries uses dominion theology, in particular, deliverance ministry and other practices within "spiritual warfare" groups, as the basis of its "therapy"); Synanon resulted in many people being directly damaged, including children;  Synanon was influential in a separate abusive group called Straight, Inc. (now calling itself DFAF, Drug Free America Foundation) which is termed by watchdog groups as possibly one of the most coercive "behaviour modification" groups ever to operate in the US and most of their facilities were shut down due to legal action by state authorities.  Frighteningly, one of the groups in turn that has been linked with former workers from Straight, Inc. (and a direct inheritor of tactics from Synanon couched in dominion theology) is Love in Action, the infamous "de-gaying" group that has had teenagers involuntarily committed to it (including notably "Zach" as well as at least one other minor).

Thank you for posting this and calling attention to the danger of very destructive forms of "treatment."

Many years ago, I was treating a young man for a severe eating disorder. Progress was slow. As a child he had suffered severe physical and emotional abuse within his family. His existence as an adult was punctuated by bouts of depression, severe anxiety, and panic attacks. After a couple of years of treatment, he'd gained sufficient control over his bingeing and purging episodes and his other symptoms that he was able to enter college. He did very well in coursework although he remained rather isolated socially. He eventually joined a fundamentalist "chapel" that seemed helpful because it provided him with a badly needed support system in the "real world." The benefits, however, were short-lived.

Although he'd never mentioned the plan, he'd become convinced by the group that he had to undergo "deliverance" to get rid of the demons that were causing his eating disorder. What sounded like an exorcism had disastrous results. He was locked in a room with several other people who "prayed over" him. Fearing the loss of ability to escape his anxiety escalated. He begged to be allowed to leave. They ignored his requests and continued to pray until he had a full-blown panic attack. Determined to get free, he tore up the room, some of the people, and himself.

When next I saw him, he was "cured" of his eating disorder but was guilt-ridden and suicidal. Initial attempts to look at the "deliverance" as a life-threatening episode that had reawakened the feelings of helplessness and anger he'd experienced when abused as a child were fruitless. He was convinced that he rather than the "deliverance" had failed. He also felt that I, as a secular therapist, simply couldn't understand the religious issues.

I'm convinced that the only thing that bailed us out was that I was able to refer him to a sane, sensitive, mainstream chaplain with whom I worked. The "collar" had an authority that I lacked. After a few sessions with the chaplain, he was able to return to therapy -  although his progress had been set back by at least a year.

At the time, the religious right hadn't achieved the ascendancy or visibility that it enjoys today. It seemed a rather isolated, if bizarre, occurrence. Now I'm very frightened by the potential for damage that these people can inflict if they are unchecked. Unfortunately, lost, traumatized souls like my patient are particularly vulnerable to the pull of these groups.  

by Psyche on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 04:14:53 PM EST

IMHO, people need to hear more from professionals who deal on an everyday basis with the psychiatric casualties of "deliverance ministry" within the dominionist movement.

I myself have been in therapy for it even six years after moving out and eight years after becoming aware that I was experiencing what is now termed "spiritual abuse" (ironically, from reading info on spiritual abuse within Scientology--which is part of the reason I do compare the tactics a lot with Scientology, the literature on spiritual abuse within Scientology is unfortunately more extant than within "Bible-based cults" associated with the dominionist movement).  I was diagnosed even at that point with complex PTSD due to spiritual abuse (I had originally seen a therapist for ongoing anxiety issues).

Dominionist groups, especially the more coercive ones, do specifically seek out people in vulnerable positions--people who are already mentally ill or suffering psychiatric injuries like complex PTSD, people in difficult financial or emotional straits, people who have recently exited a different spiritually abusive group, etc.  People who are walkaways after having been raised in a spiritually abusive group are particularly at risk, from what little literature exists on the subject (we are only now starting to get enough walkaways to do studies on long-term sequelae).

In the best of cases, complex PTSD is a result; for those who already have a susceptibility to mental illness, involvement in a spiritually abusive group can trigger a mental episode, and for people who are walkaways after being raised in a spiritually abusive group consequences are longterm and possibly lifelong (there are major issues with socialisation--the parallel I have typically used with people is of being raised in a pit without human contact, or being raised by wolves--no offense to wolves, of course).

On a thread on Dark Christianity, we've actually had someone who is a spouse of a pediatrician note that he has observed definite psychological abnormalities in kids who have been raised in dominionist households; from the literature I've read on this (yes, I've read a lot of the literature on walkaway issues, partly to learn in a way that I am not in fact going insane with a lot of this) the few studies in regards to kids raised in coercive groups in general would concur with this.

With the growth in some parts of the dominionist movement (especially in the pentecostal and charismatic groups promoting dominion theology) this is going to be something that both mental health professionals and GPs, pediatricians, etc. are going to be (sadly) seeing more of.  At least there is recognition now that "Bible-based" groups can, in fact, be spiritually abusive (this largely did NOT exist in the literature as recently as five or six years ago).

(This is also why I hammer home in darn near everything I post here that we are dealing with spiritual abuse with political aspirations--the problem, at its core, is the coercive and cultish tactics that are practiced by dominionist groups.  Part of my hope is that professionals in the medical field are seeing this and can document this, so that people fighting spiritual abuse related to dominionism can show hard evidence that it's destructive.)

This is a reason, too, why I emphasize that walkaways need to speak out--much of the true horror and ugliness of dominionism, from what I've seen, is mostly spoken frankly to members of the very spiritually abusive churches from which the dominionist movement sprang in the first place.  An example is from a post on a walkaway's forum:
(please note he is speaking largely regarding pentecostal and charismatic groups that are spiritually abusive)

When confronting a Pentecostal, one must remember that Pentecostals are stuck in a mental thinking loop that prevents them from thinking in the normal sense about anything relating to religion. They have designed an enormous list of code words designed to trigger thinking patterns in a particular way. Think of it as a computer program or a computer virus. When you hear the words "reprobate" or "backslider" or any other code words, they are designed to trigger a particular thought pattern. Another phrase that comes to mind is "touch not mine anointed!" The last one triggers thoughts of incapacitating terror at the thought of questioning the pastor about anything. Also, there are particular gestures that are designed to trigger certain thoughts like the tightening and closing of the eyes followed by something like "Woo, I feel something in this place, let's pray for that guy right now!"

And, so it is. It is hard to even speak about religion to these Pentecostals stuck in the mental traps because the minute you try to question them, those code words, and those gestures come into their imaginations, without even them hearing them or seeing them, and these things short-circuit the mental processes to the point where they cannot hear the words you are saying. The mind is stuck and has something like a computer virus.

Often, it takes a tremendous effort to break these people from this state of self-hypnosis. Sometimes it takes a dramatic event for them to begin to question. Sometime the pastor betrays them so deeply, they go through terror, depression, and many other things that are so unbearable that they have to begin to question the system.

The services are designed to nurture these thought systems and loops that they cannot break out of. All the emotional things that go on from excitement to terror, to grieving, to anything with extreme emotions - all this contributes to the deadening of the mind to thinking outside of the particular mind set.

Their minds are stuck. They do not know this. You can tell them this and often, they do not understand what you are telling them because their thoughts are stuck in a short circuit. Sometimes we have to spend many years or months trying to figure out a way to break within a particular person's mind to break it out of the shorted-loop. Each of us has a lot of work to do if we are to do this. Each case is different, and I suspect that there is a particular KEY to each person to break them out of the loop. It just might take a long time to find the Key to break the code and delete the looping control loop of their mind's software programs, in a manner of speaking.

So, do not ever be surprised that you cannot communicate with these people. It is part of the design of the system to keep them trapped in the mental control loops triggered by words, gestures, music or whatever a local preacher can design. The pastor does not do this deliberately as in, "How can I design a system to keep them trapped," but he simply does it by trial and error in Darwinian fashion as to what works with a particular person and congregation and what does not. This is how it works. And whatever system of controls survives the experimentation is what survives in the same way as animal species survive in the process of natural selection in the Survival of the Fittest. The better the system design, the harder it will be to break them out of the mental loops.

Another post on the same forum details how these groups sever most connections with "outside":
(again, keep in mind this is in the context of spiritually abusive pentecostal and charismatic groups, generally those also involved in dominionism)
Pentecostal Subversion: Breaking Old Social Bonds

Breaking the traditional bonds of friends and family is the most subversive thing that Pentecostalism does. After all the love bombing and the "friendly" introductions when entering into a Pentecostal church, one will often find himself a bit estranged from one's family. The problem is not the family, but one's new methods of thinking and speaking. Gone are the old conversations that were easy-going and mutually understood by common custom. Gone are the instinctive gestures and nods that families and friends develop over years' time. A new convert has such a wild, life changing hypnotic experience that it changes his outlook on things to the point that normal family and friends cannot understand. They can no longer communicate like before. The new convert wants to talk about religion all the time. He has new words that he uses like "Praise God!" or "I felt a check in the Holy Ghost about that person." These new speech patterns appear foreign and bizarre to the old friends and family members. The new convert thinks that his experience felt so good that he pushes this new religion on his friends and family to the point where he makes himself a pest. He thinks that his friends and family should do as he has done and he is frustrated that they cannot "see the truth." The problem gets worse, because the friends and family see these strange changes and want nothing to do with such religion; they fear that they would lose their mind and become strange themselves. So, for a time the friends and family may try to get the new convert to change his ways. The new convert is shocked by this seemingly audacious attempt to get him "away from God." He cannot see through his new religious hypnosis that he is the strange one and not his friends and family. He will typically go back to his Pentecostal friends to discuss the problem. They tell him that he needs to preach the truth to his people and get them to come to church. Consequently, the rhetoric increases; he becomes shriller. He becomes even more of a pest to his friends and family. The family typically responds in kind: they will not under any circumstances become a part of that "crazy religion." The new convert cannot comprehend the reactions, and begins to think that his family and friends have lost their mind, and cannot see that in fact he actually lost his mind. His mind may forms images of Satan and God in a big fight over his family and friends. He initially thinks that he can rescue them from the devil and tries even harder to get them to come to the new church. He might delude himself into thinking that "the devil" has the minds of his friends and family.

After much effort, he thinks that "preaching the Truth" to his family is hopeless. His new church friends tell him that they rejected the "Truth" and there is nothing more that he can do. Why should he waste time on stubborn family and friends when there is a world filled with billions of people who want Jesus? So, tragically, the process of breaking the traditional social bonds begins. He separates from his family because the old things in common are no longer there. They are now strangers to each other. His former friends go their separate ways because they cannot understand his new life and they do not wish to change to such a strange new life. His new church friends tell him that he will have new friends "in the Lord" who will not lead him astray from God. He sees all these church people with smiling faces and thinks that he can start visiting them in their homes or start going out to eat with them. The problem, which he fails to see, is that the only thing that they have in common is this hypnotic religious experience; they likely would never form social bonds otherwise. Thus, his friends and family are now gone, in effect. It feels good and refreshing to make new friends, replacing the old family and friends.

He jumps promiscuously into church friendships without reference to another's past or present. Are they former criminals? This does not matter since all their previous sins are "under the blood." Are they respectable people? This does not matter - they spoke in tongues, so they must be "changed and good people." He forms bonds with people that he otherwise would not have formed, and likely, they would otherwise not have cared much for him. These new social bonds are artificial. They are constructed on a fantasy that all these people are just like him because they "have the Holy Ghost."

Normally, friendship takes a lifetime or at least a long time. Family bonds form over a lifetime. The normal bonds of family and friends are what help us in life, and through serious life trials. We lean on them and they are always there, no matter what. But, to reject these bonds is to cut ourselves off from natural human structures of survival. New Pentecostals have to replace the old safety net structures of friends and family with the new church people, who are inherently unstable from the constant hypnotic emotional experiences. The new bonds are - in the most profound sense - unstable.

This new convert gets sucked into a system, breaks all serious bonds with friends and family and forms new artificial bonds based on a common hypnotic experience. This opens him up to abuse. Why? The pastor of such places has dictatorial authority over the church people. If this new member seeks to challenge the authority of the pastor, the pastor has enormous power over him by the threat of breaking these new social bonds by excommunication, slander, or gossip. Since these new "friends" are scared to death of the pastor, they will drop this new convert "friend" at the drop of the hat if the pastor tells them that he is rebellious or "of the devil." This gives the pastor total powers over the physical and emotional life of the new convert.

After the process of breaking the old social bonds and forming new ones is complete, the abuse and intimidation may start. He is an easy target for the pastor. Since such pastors are typically emotionally self-indulgent and hypersensitive, he thinks nothing of abusing these people to get them to do what he wants. If someone offends the pastor, he thinks nothing of retaliating against them by destroying these artificial social bonds since he is typically unstable, and will do anything he can to make himself feel better - after all, he has the Presumption to think of himself as the "man of God," the most important person in the congregation. If the pastor does indeed kick this member out of the congregation, the person will be devastated because he will be thrown into the world with no social support whatsoever. His friends and family cannot help him; the relations are soured and they will not understand in any case. His church friends are now gone. He is helpless, alone, and terrified. He has nobody to lean on and no one to speak with. This is where he can crash emotionally from all this sudden pressure of alienation and confusion. As he gets angry and emotionally hostile to this treatment, the church typically labels him with epithets such as "angry" or "bitter," not realizing that the church system is the cause of this phenomenon.

It takes years to recover from this type of abuse. It takes time to find new friends and it takes time to repair the damage from the old family fights. Many may even subconsciously see this before excommunication, and go along with the pastor because they lack the strength to go through the hurt and the pain. Thus, one has the outline of an unstable system based on fear and emotional manipulation with the absolute power to destroy somebody.

Hopefully what I've posted will be helpful in this.

by dogemperor on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 06:38:04 PM EST

I had mentioned earlier that dominionist groups, particularly those heavily into "deliverance ministry" teachings, have a list of code words and "trigger phrases".  Here's a list from a compilation on the walkaway forum I've mentioned:
(please keep in mind much of this is involving spiritually abusive pentecostal and charismatic groups that promote dominionism; some of this may not be so applicable to Southern Baptists et al)
In the Truth (As in "I was raised in the Truth," or "I cam into the Truth as a kid.")

Baptized in Jesus' name, believing in the Oneness, and adhering to any of the sundry "holiness" standards

Holiness Standards

Century-old heresy by which people become `sanctified' by wearing particular clothing or the wearing of clothing in a particular way. Often this is salvational and not conforming to this "standard" is rebellion, and thus sin, and thus will send you to hell. Often this requires women to wear only skirts or dresses, or men to wear long sleeves or only slacks in all public places. Sometimes women can never cut their hair and men cannot wear beards or other facial hair. Also, one can never curse, drink or smoke; all these are `sins.' Often, members cannot own or watch a television.

Speak the Truth

Telling, yelling, saying, or proclaiming the "truth" of the Oneness doctrine and the Jesus' name baptism doctrine.

Under the Blood

These are sins that God has forgiven and should never be spoken of ever again. The person is no longer guilty of this sin after it is "under the blood."


Conforming to the holiness standard and refraining from cursing, ogling, drinking and smoking.

The Flesh

Usually refers to typical human wants and needs. "The Flesh" wants to lust, overeat, drink, smoke, party, and watch TV.

In Church

This is someone who subscribes to the Oneness Doctrine, the Jesus Name method of baptism, and holiness standard.

Brother, Sister

These replace the standard "mister" and "missus." The replacements have connotations of familiarity and family.

Let our Light shine

Conforming to the holiness standard proudly in public among non believers.

Glorify Him

Making noise waving hands in the air, and repeating slogans repeatedly like, "We magnify you Lord," "Holy is your name," "We give you the glory," "We give you the praise," "hallelujah to God," etc. There are possibly several thousand variations of these themes. The tone of voice is elevated, slightly vibrating, and often in a minor tone on the musical scale.

The World

These are all those who do not subscribe to the Oneness doctrine, the Jesus name baptism, and the holiness standards. Also, these can be physical objects like cars, trucks that cost too much.

In the world

One who is not "in church." See above definition.


This is a general epithet for those not "in church" or those who are in church but do not totally conform to the holiness standard. A woman wearing make-up is worldly. A man with a beard is worldly. A man who drinks wine at a restaurant is worldly. A general, all-purpose epithet.

`a' spirit

This is another epithet for a person who disagrees with another. If one disagrees with a pastor, he might have a "spirit of rebellion." Someone who is hurt who wishes to avoid an aggressor might have "a spirit of division." There are many variations on the theme

the Lord "moving"

When people start freaking out with mild to wild displays of emotion during a meeting, the Lord "is moving" in that place.

Denominal church

This is any church that does not subscribe to the three conditions: Oneness doctrine, Jesus Name baptism, and holiness standards.


This means to obey the pastor in all things. It also means that one cannot even helpfully disagree. It also means that one must take condemnation and lashing from the pastor with a smile at best - at least with a bow of the head.

Give your life to Him

Usually this means to start speaking in tongues and "praying through" to the holy "ghost." It also can mean to join the church with full commitment.

Drive a wedge

Asking innocent questions can be called "rebellion" or "driving a wedge" between the people and the pastor.

Prayer Life

This is a measure of the amount of hours one prays in a day or week. Often this is used as a guilt trip for people with normal problems. They will question your "prayer life." Maybe you are not "praying enough." People with a "good" "prayer life" do not have problems that are too bad!

Spiritual Walk

This is a synonym for Prayer Life. See above definition.

Fallen into Sin

This is a codeword for fornication, adultery or homosexuality. It is a euphemism for sexual sin.

Finding your Place in God

This usually means finding a position in the hierarchy of the church where one can be exploited to the fullest extent of time and money for the pastor and others on the payroll of the church.

Put your trust in Him

This means to forget one's problems. This is a codeword for what should be called irresponsibility.

Bad Attitude

If one disagrees with the general opinion of the leaders, one has a `bad attitude.' This is not the general term used by outsiders, but a term of intimidation to silence opposition.

Obedience to the Word of the Lord

This is another code word for obedience to the pastor in all things and everything. This con game works because of the following line of reason: the Bible says to obey leaders over you, therefore obeying Pastor X is obeying the Word of God. A con game indeed.

A Clean House

This means that one does not have something in one's house that is termed `abomination.' These abominations can be television, movies like Harry Potter, relics for Native American tribes, books on romance, and anything else these pastors do not like.

Parable of the Tares

This is used as a weapon against those in the church who disagree with the pastor. The enemy comes and sows tares among us. The enemy put those people there that disagree, therefore they are `of the devil.'

Pleasing unto God

= pleasing unto the pastor

Robbing God

= not paying 10% of your income check to the coffers of the `church.'

The Man of God or `The Shepherd'

= the pastor of your local church. Has a connotation of a Stalin or Hitler like dictator.

Touch not mine anointed

= do not speak a word against the pastor, even in private. This is in contrast to what the Bible actually says and means, which is do not do any physical harm to a prophet.

Stand before God to give account

This is some fantasy preached in these churches whereby we line up in front of some giant throne before God himself and answer questions about everything in our life that we have done. Preachers try to make it seem like some video of one's life whereby everyone in line can see your entire life in front of a screen or something. This is used as a fear tactic that whatever is said in private against the pastor will be broadcast in front of everyone on judgment day on this big screen. Scares the heck out of people about `touching the anointed.' Also, pastors say that they must give `an account' for everyone in their congregation, so he is oh so responsible for us so we should treat him with respect because his job is oh so hard with all that 10% plus... So this `book of life' is a tape recording or a video of one's entire life! Wow, these preachers wish this were true to keep control over all their `flock of sheep.'

God loveth a Cheerful Giver

One must pay 10% tithes and offerings with no grumbling about how much we do not have left after this highway robbery.

"World Prayer Center""Harvest Center""Christian Life Center""Tabernacle":

Often codewords used in community for "dominionist friendly" and/or pente-charismaniac "non-denominational" churches (also used in AoG and other pente groups by churches attempting to hide their denominational affiliation).


Referring to non-pente/charismaniac Christian churches. Meant as a direct insult specifically claiming those churches are not in fact Christian.

"Spiritual warfare/deliverance ministry":

Referring to a specific subset of practices in pente/charismaniac churches (especially those in "word-faith" and/or "third wave" churches) which teach that essentially everything outside of the church is 'demonised' and can cause demonic possession, and further claims that people, areas, etc. must be "exorcised".
In versions of this it's even claimed that innocuous things such as peace signs can cause demonisation and that even the actions of ancestors can cause "generational curses" (for example, if one's ancestors were of a non-pente denomination or pagans).

Some groups even go so far as to claim that the cold and flu are not the result of viruses or bacteria but of "solidified corruption" from demons (yes, they actually reject the germ theory of disease).

Important in a political vein as most pente/charismaniac churches into the political movement known as dominionism or "Christian Reconstructionism" actually claim spiritual warfare as a reason (in that they must "take dominion of the US for Christ" or perform exorcisms on the area).

Many of the practices in "deliverance ministry" are actually frighteningly similar to coercive tactics practiced in non-Bible-based coercive groups such as Scientology (a rough comparison of coercive tactics that I've outlined is here.

Opening doorways for Satan/allowing Satan a toehold:

In groups heavily into "deliverance ministry" it's claimed that many things (from horoscopes to non-church-approved music to Harry Potter books to peace symbols to even involvement in "secular" groups like the Girl Scouts--essentially anything not explicitly approved by the church) can cause one to be demonised because they "allow Satan a toehold. Often claimed as a reason why such things as "healing services" don't work, why "name it and claim it" doesn't work, etc.

Generational curses:

Many groups into "spiritual warfare""deliverance ministry" have claimed that even the activities of ancestors can cause demons to harass families over multiple generations (these can be as innocuous as family members having played cards or read horoscopes or even wearing "peace symbols" in the 60's); this is the standard explanation given for diseases with a hereditary basis (diabetes, etc.) as well as multigenerational poverty and failures in "name it and claim it" services.

"Name It And Claim It""Prosperity Gospel""Word-Faith"etc.:

All names for a specific theology (which is linked with dominion theology and in fact can be considered a subset of it) in pente/charismaniac churches that teaches specifically that poverty/health problems/etc. are the result of "Christians not claiming dominion over these things in their lives" and which teaches that true Christians can "name something and claim it in the name of Jesus" and that it will be theirs.

Very often combined with "deliverance ministry" teachings (noted above) and is a part of "third wave" teachings (see below); usually preached in conjunction with requests for "seed-faith offerings" and the like (see below).

"Third Wave""Toronto Outpouring""Brownsville Revival""Kansas City Prophets""Holy Laughter Movement""Joel's Bartender", etc.:

Movement in (for most part) AoG, Vineyard and "independent charismatic" churches that combines aspects of traditional pentecostalism, "word-faith" teaching, an extremely heavy emphasis on "spiritual warfare""deliverance ministry" (including being extremely active in the political "dominionism" movement, discussed more in depth below) along with unique "manifestations" including "barking in the spirit", "holy laughter", being "drunk in the Spirit", waving "swords of the lord", etc.

Movement probably originated within the Assemblies of God in the 50's with Paul Yonggi Cho's Yoido Full Gospel Church; was exported to AoG churches in the US and Britain as early as the 1960's (I am a walkaway from an early "Third Wave" church in Kentucky); reached the Vineyard movement churches in the 1980's (Toronto Outpouring), was re-fertilised in the AoG in the 1990s (Brownsville AoG revival), and now being promoted by the "Kansas City Prophets" and increasingly embraced by independent charismatic and AoG churches.

One major church affiliated with "Third Wave" promotion, New Life Church in Colorado Springs, is now the center for the National Association of Evangelicals and by extension the National Religious Broadcasters (which is the media wing of the NAE).

(The term "Third Wave" actually came about, by the way, because in their viewpoint the "Toronto manifestations" are the "third outpouring of the Holy Spirit"--the first being the original Pentecost, the second being the Asuza Street Revival.)

"Seed faith offering":

An amount tithed above and beyond the usual ten percent of income, usually in conjunction with "word-faith" teaching. Usually promoted in conjunction with misuse of teaching regarding the story of the widow's mite; people giving bare minimum of ten percent are often encouraged to give "seed faith offerings" in order to "secure God's blessing".

"Widow's Mite" and misuse in pente community:

The Bible details a story regarding a woman who gave the last two "widow's mites" she had in offering, and how Jesus praised her. Interpretation in "word-faith" churches is that one should give as much as is possible, even to the point of deprivation of basic needs, because the less one can afford to give the more God will supposedly bless one.

In at least some churches promoting "word-faith" programs (especially AoG churches), Israeli 1-agora pieces (roughly equivalent to a 1-cent coin) are given out in churches to encourage large amounts of giving, especially as "seed faith" offerings (in fact, the entire idea behind "seed-faith offerings" is based on a misuse of the story of the widow's mite).

Dominionism"Christian Reconstructionism":

Political movement within many pente/charismaniac churches (and even some churches outside the pente/charismaniac movement) which dictates the US should be converted into a fundamentalist theocracy (including the establishment of Levitican law for offenses in its most extreme variants).

There seem to be two separate movements within the dominionist movement:

"Christian Reconstructionists" which preach that for Jesus to return the US must be converted to a theocracy complete with establishment of Levitican law including stoning of gays/walkaways/"rebellious youth"etc. (This has some adherents among the pente/charismaniac movement, in particular among the AoG-affiliated "Messianic Jew" groups, but is more popular among "independent Baptist" groups and, increasingly, in the Southern Baptist Convention.)

Notably, Christian Reconstructionists don't call for reestablishment of the dietary laws, just punitive penalties for things in Leviticus that are usable in fundamentalist churches (such as the mandated killing of non-dominionists).

"Dominionists" preach that the US is meant to be a Christian nation and give slightly different reasoning based on "dominion theology" (see note on this below). This is the variant more popular in pente/charismaniac communities, and usually two related reasonings are given (sometimes both):

a) The US needs a mass exorcism to drive off "territorial demons" keeping the US down (it's claimed, among other things, that San Francisco has a "demon of homosexuality" ruling the city, New Orleans had "demons of witchcraft" (and the same claim is given for Los Angeles"), and that general "demons of immorality" are keeping the US down) and that the only cure for this is to establish a theocracy where people are required to be pentes upon pain of death

b) The US is supposedly a "chosen nation" along with Israel (based on the US being home for the two major pentecostal revival movements and/or the home of pentecostalism in general) and in order for the US to "secure its blessing" it must become a religious theocracy.

Many churches, especially those affiliated with the "Third Wave" movement, are heavily active in this second variant of dominionism (and in fact, I'd be willing to bet the "Spiritual Warfare" affiliated versions of dominionism are the more popular in the US).

This has not been without severe consequences; in much of the United States, the state conventions of the Republican Party have been taken over by dominionists (of both flavours). At least one other dominionist party, the Constitution Party (formerly US Taxpayer's Party), has been formed and is occasionally promoted within pente/charismaniac churches in the US. In Australia, the Assemblies of God de facto operate a political party (Family First) which is the major force behind a growing dominionist movement in that country; similar groups exist in most English-speaking countries (including New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa).

Further information on dominionism in general is best available via three online sources; Talk2Action, Dark Christianity on Livejournal, and DefCon America: Committee to Defend the Constitution. (Dark Christianity in particular also has several walkaways on it and specifically invites walkaways to discuss their experiences with politically-active charismaniac groups.)

"Dominion theology":

The idea that "True Christians" must take dominion over all things in life, including physical institutions in the world. (This is the basis for "deliverance ministry" ("taking dominion" over demons); much of the dominionist movement (in all its mutations, the emphasis is on "taking dominion" over the country); word-faith teachings ("taking dominion" over things that, according to them, should belong to "True Christians"), etc.

"True Christians":

By definition in pente/charismaniac churches, "born again" Christians of a pente/charismaniac persuasion. All other Christian groups are seen as "lukewarm" or even (in the case of Catholics, Orthodox, or occasionally even Episcopalian churches) as "idol worshippers".

"Sheep Stealing":

A tactic used in pente/charismaniac groups, especially "independent pentecostal" and AoG churches, to specifically target other Christian groups for conversion to pentecostals. (In their viewpoint, non-pente churches are not seen as Christian.)

Occasionally this is overt (with such things as "ministries" targeted towards Catholics, for example); occasionally this is covert (with "stealth evangelism" targeted towards churches, including "charismatic" groups in those churches that are actually front groups for a pente church or charismaniac church; more on these below).

"Heavenly Deception""Stealth Evangelism"/"Servant Evangelism"/etc.:

The idea that it is in fact permissible and moral to be deceptive in order to convert people to pente/charismaniac groups.

This varies from "front groups" set up by pente denominations (which hide their denominational affiliation and specifically target people, including people in other churches) to "dinner evangelism" (usually via the Alpha courses, almost exclusively used by "Third Wave" proponents in the US; see here) to "anti-drug talks" held by athletes in public schools (which are mandatory assemblies) which inevitably lead to pentecostal "altar calls" to be "saved" (see here for an example) to "hell houses" set up to even people setting up carpools as an explicit front for sermonising, etc.

One particular pente denomination, the Assemblies of God, has over 40 separate and distinct groups set up for the specific purpose of "stealth evangelism" including "sheep stealing" from other churches (see this link for a list; those of you who are walkaways from AoG churches, I would STRONGLY appreciate updates on this, as I'm trying to catalogue a full list of potential front groups).

*covered by the blood

to have an object, journey, project, desire or person under God's protection

*plead the blood

To pray over or declare something or someone under God's protection by saying 'blood of Jesus' while touching the person or object. It's a superstitious action akin to throwing salt over one's shoulder after knocking over a salt shaker.

*in the spirit

acting in a bizzare manner supposedly as a result of being infilled with the holy spirit

*spirit filled

Someone who has the presence of the holy spirit and therefore is in the know about god.

*grieve not the holy spirit

usually you'll know when you've grieved the holy spirit or if you're close to doing it when someone 'more' spiritual than you tells you. Usually the pastor or one of the higher ups in the church or even just a know it all 'pew warmer' with visions of grandure.

*don't blaspheme the holy spirit/unforgiveable sin

a serious sin if committed because it will never be forgiven and is an automatic irreversible ticket to hell, however, no one knows exactly what the unforgiveable sin is so just to be on the safe side don't do anything the pastor says is wrong then he'll be responsible and have to give an account to god instead of you.

Some say that refusing to believe in the crazy behavior of the pente's and charismatics while supposedly filled with the holy spirit is blaspheming the holy spirit because he is manifest right before your eyes and yet you refuse to believe.

*Manifistation of the holy spirit

bizzare actions or behavoirs of pente/charismatics.

*pew warmer

someone who just goes to church but does not volunteer to help out in anyway.

*spiritually mature

you know you're not it when you disagree with the pastor and voice you're concerns.


the spiritually immature still need milk, to be told what to believe and do, but the mature have moved on and eat meat, that is they can be trusted to tow the party line and apply it to the interpretation of the bible without supervision.

*higher levels, higher devils

as you mature spiritually and become stronger in christ the devil will begin to take notice of you because he's afraid of you so he'll send a stronger demon to harrass you and torment you to get you off track with what god want's with your life.

This is also a way of knowing who is spiritually higher up because they are always battling the devil.

*Take the land

praying over your community and claiming it for god. If you're prayers are strong enough then you will see a decrease in crime, poverty, drinking, smoking etc as the inhabitants of the area are miraculously converted.


a religious person usually from a spiritually dead church (a church that does not believe in holly rolling)

let's stand in agreement
Based on the promise that when two more more agree about anything, it shall be done. Nice promise, but often used to manipulate situations, like deciding someone will become romantically interested in them or deciding a large building or beautiful house will be theirs. Basically, people snatching whatever they want and using the bible to justify it.

Just to give a little bit of info on some of the "lingo" used in "deliverance ministry" groups...

by dogemperor on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 07:02:39 PM EST

The Anointing:  some pastors have it in spades [e.g., Benny Hinn], you can get a piece of it, you can lose it, you can walk in it, you can live under it, you can keep getting more of it, you can transfer and communicate it, it's tangible and supposedly Jesus didn't have it when he walked on earth [per five-fold ministry followers].  When you have it, it is like electricity or spiritual WD40 in that it powers/releases God to do stuff...

by Browsercat on Fri Jul 20, 2007 at 12:25:16 AM EST

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