Dominionism and the coercive mindset
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Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 03:02:23 AM EST
Several people--both on Dark Christianity and on Talk2Action--have asked in part what we can do in regards to dominionists (especially in relation to the spiritual abuse inherent in dominionism).

Some have even asked how we can persuade dominionists to, well, not be dominionists.

The problem is that--because dominionism is, at its core, a spiritually abusive movement with political aspirations it isn't that simple at all...because you have to fight the programmed mindset.

I am posting this info in the hope that people--in particular, experts in the psychological field (I know we have at least one on the board!) will be able to give suggestions.

One thing that is difficult to explain to people who have never been involved in a coercive religious group is just how people get "stuck in" and refuse to leave.

What people don't tend to realise is that most coercive groups--be they dominionist groups or some other flavour of coercive group (such as Scientology, the Moonies, etc.)--have as part of the coercion in and of itself various "thought stopping" techniques and other forms of coercion that literally prevent the person from questioning the group at all.  (In fact, that's how we can define dominionism as a coercive religious movement, especially in its "spiritual warfare" and "premillenarian dispensationalist" flavours.)

A writer from the Ex-Pentecostals walkaway support board--who also has written a book on his experiences called "Letters from an Ex-Pentecostal"--has written possibly one of the best descriptions of the coercive mindset and just what people--both people fighting dominionism, and people fighting the coercive tactics used in dominionist groups--face:
(as a side note, this is concerning spiritually abusive pente and charismatic groups, many of which are involved in the dominionist movement and in premillenarian dispensationalist dominionism in particular)

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.

In other words, coercive tactics practiced in dominionist groups literally set the mind in an "infinite loop" if any criticism of the group occurs.  (THIS is why you end up with, at best, people accusing you of being "anti-Christian" and occasionally going on "God Warrior" rampages.)

This is also the reason I am not sure dialogue is even possible directly with dominionists; you are not so much arguing with a person as with an entire system of thought reform.

I can certainly agree with the author's observation that each person who is a successful walkaway from dominionist groups tends to have something specific that leads them to walk away; in my case, it was the discovery I was being lied to (and it's the dishonesty and subterfuge that STILL is one of the things that galls me the most about dominionism, to be perfectly honest--among many, many other things).

I've posted a brief example of code words particularly used in pente and charismatic dominionist groups, many of which act as "stop words" or "start words" in the community; many of the "code words" that have been documented in use by dominionists are also "thought stopper" words.  

Among other things, when dominionists talk about the "homosexual agenda"--that is literally a "thought stopper" phrase that dominionists use to essentially get their members to not only go into two-minute hates about everything related to gay/les/bi/trans folks--but there's the spiritually abusive preaching that literally teaches that gays are the servants of the devil himself and out to molest their kids (playing on fear and the need for a Great Enemy), plus other coercive tactics that teach that church leaders and other "men of God" (including fellow dominionists) are never to be questioned, combined with teachings in many churches that claim reading any info non-approved by the church or even doing business with non-dominionists will "open doorways for Satan" in one's life and cause one to become hopelessly insane, penniless, oh, and damned literally to Hell... THAT's what goes through the dominionist's head when he hears AFA leaders ranting about gay people.

Unless and until you luck upon that one "Key" that causes them to start to question--it's difficult to even talk to them.  I'd say nearly impossible.  (This is also the specific reason children are being isolated almost from birth, "homeschooled" via dominionist correspondence courses, sent to "Christian alternatives" to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and sent to dominionist colleges--it is incredibly hard for someone raised from birth in a coercive religious group and never having had any exposure to anything outside of it till in their twenties to walk away.  It is in some ways comparable to someone being raised by wild animals nearly all their life and then discovering human society; if one is younger, one has a better chance of adapting to human society (though you aren't ever going to be COMPLETELY normal about things) as opposed to finding human society in their twenties.

I am reminded of a part of the tall tale of Pecos Bill (whom is often spoken of as being raised by coyotes till he was a young man) many versions of the story, Bills' brother finds him and ends up in a furious debate with Pecos Bill, Pecos Bill firmly believing he was a coyote till his brother pointed out he didn't have a tail and his brother pointed out the identical Lone Star tattoo on them.  

The trick with dominionists is that they have been explicitly taught that people who point out they "don't have tails" are in fact in league with the Devil., a site that focuses on coercive tactics within Scientology but is a good info source re coercive tactics in general, notes the following definition of a coercive religious group:

Every cult can be defined as a group having all of
the following 5 characteristics:

  1.  It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members

  2.  It forms an elitist totalitarian society

  3.  Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable
and has charisma

  1.  It believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds or recruit people

  2.  Its wealth does not benefit its members or society

I have written fairly extensively on the subject of the specific coercive tactics used in dominionist groups; I'll post links to the most relevant essays as follows:
Evaluation of dominionist groups using several checklists of "abusiveness"
A direct comparison of tactics in "deliverance ministry" and in particular "Christian counseling" and tactics within Scientology
Part 1 and Part 2 of an analysis of A Beka's curriculum (including notes on how the curriculum is actually an indoctrination manual--largely designed to teach coercion very early to students)
Discussion of coercive tactics within the particular group I am a walkaway from
Info on how the coercive tactics directly influence voting by dominionists (in other words, the reason dominionists will not criticise Bush)
This article as well as a followup in regards to the spiritually abusive tactics in dominionism being used in "faith based programs" directed at captive audiences

This hopefully should give you something to chew on, at any rate.

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