Did you give your informed consent at the time you went into what you thought was “God’s true church?” Would you have stayed if you had known what would happen to you?
The following is merely a sample “contract” of what happens to those who become members of totalistic, apocalyptic groups. Not all of the following points need be present in order for the group to be considered controlling or abusive.
I, ____________, hereby agree to join______________________________. I understand that my life will change in the following ways.
I know what I am getting into and agree to all the following conditions:
- My good feeling about who I am will stem from being liked by other group members and/or my leader, and from receiving approval from the group/leader.
- My total mental attention will focus on solving the group’s/leader’s problems and making sure there are no conflicts.
- My mental attention will be focused on pleasing and protecting the group/leader.
- My self-esteem [self-worth] will be bolstered by solving group problems and relieving the leader’s pain.
- My own hobbies and interests will gladly be put aside. My time will be spent however the group/leader wants.
- My clothing and personal appearance will be dictated by the desires of the group/leader.
- I do not need to be sure of how I feel. I will only be focused on what the group/leader feels.
- I will ignore my own needs and wants. The needs and wants of the group/leader are all that is important.
- The dreams I have for the future will be linked to the group/leader.
- My fear of rejection will determine what I say or do.
- My fear of the group’s/leader’s anger will determine what I say or do.
- I will use giving as a way of feeling safe with the group/leader.
- My social circle will diminish or disappear as I involve myself with the group/leader.
- I will give up my family as I involve myself with the group/leader.
- The group’s/leader’s values will become my values.
- I will cherish the group’s/leader’s opinions and ways of doing things more than my own.
- The quality of my life will be in relation to the quality of group life, not the quality of life of the leader.
- Everything that is right and good is due to the group’s belief, the leader, or the teachings.
- Everything that is or goes wrong is due to me.
In addition, I waive the following rights:
- to leave at any time
- to maintain fellowship with the outside world
- to have reasonable health care
- to have a say in my own and my family’s discipline
- to have control over my body, including choices related to sex, marriage, and procreation
- to expect honesty in dealings with authority figures in the group
- to have any complaints heard and dealt with fairly to be supported and cared for in my old age in gratitude for my years of service
“When you meet the friendliest people you have ever known, who introduce you to the most loving group of people you’ve ever encountered, and you find the leader to be the most inspired, caring, compassionate and understanding person you’ve ever met, and then you learn that the cause of the group is something you never dared hope could be accomplished, and all of this sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true! Don’t give up your education, your hope and ambitions to follow a rainbow.”
~ By Jeanne Mills, former member of the Peoples Temple and subsequent victim of assassination a year following the Nov. 18, 1978 Jonestown suicides/murders of 913 adults and children.