A destructive cult is not just any traditional religious group, but a high control group which exerts undue influence over its members, usually has a great deal of attention on making money and inculcates extreme black-and-white thinking so that its members vigorously believe that their way is the only way and anyone who does not agree with their way of thinking is doomed. Destructive cult leaders are not to be questioned in any way and there are many thought stopping mechanisms installed in members to keep them from wondering too much about logical fallacies, inconsistencies or real world problems with the leader’s teachings and the lifestyle, rules and beliefs of the group itself.
Members are encouraged to proselytize but in doing so, they are usually following a set formula or method which does not involve much in the way of rational discourse or logical argumentation. In other words, they tend to follow a script. In order to get past that and reach the person, it is necessary to bypass the script by asking the person direct questions about their own experiences and feelings about the cult group. “What appeals to you about it?” or “What was it that convinced you that it works?” will get a member talking in more specific detail about themselves. Then ask them to explain the belief system, what the goals of the group are and what they’ve seen with their own two eyes in terms of how the group is going about achieving those goals.
By making it more personal, you not only bypass the rote scripts they’ve been given, but you also get what that individual member actually understands or thinks about the group. You will find in doing this that there ideas and assertions are full of logical fallacies and ideas that frankly make no sense whatsoever. By subtly questioning them about these, the cult member can then see for themselves how the things they are saying really don’t hold water. These are the seeds of doubt that will lead them to question their entire acceptance of the system and show them a way out. —Chris Shelton