Here we go again. Police in Salt Lake City have issued a warrant for the arrest of a cult leader who claims God appeared to him and said he was the Holy Spirit and the father of Jesus Christ on charges of felony first-degree rape.
Just like the case I reported on last month about “Doctor” Mohan Singh, a phony guru who preyed upon women in search of alternative healing methods (See Phony Guru Gets 10 Years for Rape), this latest cult leader is 43 year-old Terrill Dalton who has been accused of rape by a 15 year-old former member of his cult.
According to The Billings Gazette, the crime occurred sometime between 2005 and 2006 in Utah when the girl claimed that Dalton not only encouraged to have sex with a co-leader of the cult, Geody Harmon, 37, but repeatedly raped her himself. Dalton allegedly told the girl that “if she had sex with him three times, she would be blessed.”
Dalton is still at large but Harmon was arrested on Wednesday morning in Fromberg, Montana where the cult is currently located.
Dalton was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and claims he began receiving spiritual messages that its leaders were drifting away from the core principals of the faith. He claims that in 2004, he received a revelation to start a new church and was visited a short time later by Jesus Christ who told him he is the Holy Ghost and the father of Jesus Christ.
As bizarre as it sounds, this cult has had up to 50 members over the years, even though it appears to have lost all but 16 of them during several moves it was forced to make after their houses were raided by law enforcement to investigate claims of child sexual abuse and alleged assassination threats against Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The group has fled from Utah to Idaho and now to Montana.
The big question that comes to everyone’s mind is how people can fall for these wacky gurus. What is wrong with them that they buy into these obviously contrived ruses?
The truth is actually quite frightening. Cult members are not necessarily people living on the margins. Many of them are highly educated and successful people who usually encounter a cult during a low point in their life when they’re vulnerable in one way or another. These vulnerabilities make them very susceptible to the mind-control techniques used by cult leaders.
These techniques include threats ranging from “If you don’t join, you’ll go to hell” or “If you don’t give us money your business will fail” to “This is only way to true success and happiness and if you don’t join you’re doomed to failure,” etc.
Deception is a favorite ploy of cults who usually have very good public relations fronts that serve as a shield to prevent members from discovering the group’s true aims. Instead, they’ll only hear about how philanthropic the group is, or how many people they’ve helped.
Fear and intimidation is another tactic and one that was made famous by the original corporate cult, est (now known as Landmark). In the movie “Semi Tough,” Burt Reynolds was attending a typical seminar where participants were not permitted to leave the room, even to go to the bathroom. They often instill a fear of leaving the group and/or isolate members from the rest of society either physically or by encouraging them to think everyone who is not a member is somehow ignorant or bad.
Recruits are also controlled by techniques used to break down their self-esteem such as encouraging them to remember embarrassing or hurtful episodes in their lives under the guise of being “purified” of these memories. Or “Trance trainers” are employed to encourage participants to recall their most powerful memories as a way of conquering their past, something that can (and has) caused dangerous psychotic episodes in fragile individuals. One cult authority claims these groups “specialize in creating powerful emotional experiences which are then used to validate your involvement in the cult” (www.Cultwatch.com)
Other mind-control methods employ thought-stopping techniques such as chanting, meditation, trance induction, sensory overload, deprivation, and repetition to prevent critical thinking and stop members from questioning what is really going on.
This is how people, many of whom are at the nadir of their lives and desperately in need of hope, can be sucked in by these leaders, especially by those who far more sophisticated than Dalton and Harman, such as the world-wide Scientology cult where leaders have enormous amounts of money and influence with which they control members.
Cults are not just religious, however. The ones we are most likely to encounter are known as “commercial cults” that usually tout messages such as “learn from us and become a millionaire.” They offer members an endless supply of motivational tapes, videos, books and seminars, all supposedly designed to help you get rich or famous or happier, but in reality can employ the cult’s mind control techniques to keep you believing in them.
Self-help and Counseling cults are another common method used to ensnare the vulnerable, but these are even more frightening because they often reach people through their employers by promising to improve the company’s performance with special staff programs. Once these seminars get started, attendees often find themselves locked in rooms where they’re subjected to quasi-religious indoctrination. (Here is just one example from Business Management Daily .) Once participants complete the first course, they’re often pressured to take a second one, with refusal costing them advancement or even their job.
Political cults usually prey upon persons with the same political ideologies such as the various white supremacist groups and terrorist organizations. Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR are considered by cult experts to be classic examples of mind control on a large scale.
Send your New Age question to firstname.lastname@example.org