English Comp II Honors
April 24, 2012
Manipulation of the Naïve
Cults are not fairly common in this day and age, but most people can recall a time when they were popular. The cults were perceived as very powerful and, at times, dangerous. One such case is the cult known as the Peoples Temple. Even though most people who join cults start off with the best of intentions, they are eventually brainwashed because cults hold tremendous power over their members as a result of charismatic leaders, manipulative persuasion, and extreme isolation.
Distinguishing the difference between a cult and a religion is quite hard. Any religion that defies the standards of ...view middle of the document...
It was not always considered a cult, though. Jones started Peoples Temple as a church in Indianapolis, Indiana. He had a great number of followers who joined his church. After a few months, Jones moved his church to California because he feared an atomic attack (Jones, par. 5). He thought that staying in Redwood Valley would protect them if ever a nuclear war was to break out.
The driving power behind cults comes from the leaders. “In times of upheaval and uncertainty, people seek out leaders with power and charisma” (Karson, 75). The leaders make people feel welcome, and they act very pleasant. They are prominently experienced in the art of manipulation and persuasion. Oftentimes, cult leaders would insist that immortality was available through them (Cults, par. 10). They had a way of making what they said sound completely true, and because of this they were able to get their followers to do just about anything they wanted.
Jim Jones was beloved by his followers. He was a talented speaker and often performed acts of healing in order to draw people to him (Jones, par. 3). He was a friendly and caring leader according to the members of his cult. His new religion was a place that allowed people to find what they were missing in their lives such as love, acceptance, and trust.
Recruitment by cult members follows a strategically formed guideline. Potential members are first approached by a recruiter who then invites them to an important meeting. At the meeting, the recruits have their first encounter with the cult, whose members make them feel loved and needed. Then, the cult uses “psychologically persuasive techniques” to convince them to return and ultimately make a commitment (Karson, 39). This is not always the case, because each cult develops its own style of recruitment. Although most cults target people who are searching for something or trying to escape something in their lives, anyone could be lured into the cults trap.
Cults will do whatever it takes to get more followers, and persuasion is usually the method that works best. To aid in recruiting, cult members are trained in the art of persuasion. They approach potential members amiably, and speak “enthusiastically” in order to convince them to join (Karson, 39). There are different types of persuasion used by cult members to aid them in convincing recruits. An example of persuasion used by cults is called “love-bombing,” which is when members show extreme compassion, attention, and friendliness to prospective members (New Religious Movements, par. 10). What some cults make their members do has been considered brainwashing by critics. According to Charles Clark, it was not uncommon for cult leaders to force their members to spend hours chanting; they were deprived of sleep, and they were isolated from their families and the world (par. 1). In a state of disillusionment, the recruited listened to every word the leaders told them, and grew to accept their...