Leaders of Totalistic Groups
Have These Traits in Common
- Claims he is "divinely appointed by God" and is given "a special commission to fulfill on this earth"
- Claims to have been given "special, revealed knowledge," and is "restoring essential truths"
- Claims his writings are "absolute truths" or "revelations from God" and heavily distributes them to members
- Claims he has "answers to all of life's questions" (black and white thinking)
- Authoritatively teaches members to conform to dietary laws, dress codes, childrearing techniques, dating, marriage, observances of days, and sexual teachings
- Encourages members to "cut off ties" with friends, family members, co-workers and relatives (isolation)
- Strictly controls members' finances; coerces them into giving financially
- Unites the group by causing them to focus on Satan (and his "lies"), who is seen in everything outside the group's teachings
- Claims that apocalypse, Armageddon, the Great Tribulation and "End of the Age" is just around the corner and members must stay in the group or go else through it
- Practices shunning, denouncing, marking and disfellowshipping
- Teaches that leaving the group is equated to "eternal death in the Lake of Fire" and "losing one's chance for salvation."
- Places a priesthood or other hierarchy between the believer and God. Members must go through the "proper channels"
- Has a shepherding, discipling or visitation program to "keep members in check" (practices spying)
- Teaches and circulates many sacred myths and stories concerning his "divine appointment" or "calling from God"
- Has "sacred roots," which means he perpetuates stories of how the group's beginnings can be traced back to the original, ancient "true" church or disciples
- Is considered an "end-time prophet," "That Prophet," "the Elijah," an "Apostle," etc. When the prophecies fail, members are blamed for not being "pure enough"
- Engages in living standards (usually without the members' knowledge) that far exceeds the living standards of the members
- Does not observe, or apply to himself, the rules that govern his membership (a double-standard exists)
By Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
July 2, 2001
Last updated October 18, 2005