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10 Signs That Your Church is Becoming A Cult

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Social media is buzzing after a three-part exposé on the late televangelist, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua (TB Joshua), by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Africa Eye.

The lengthy video, divided into three episodes and available on YouTube as “Disciples: The Cult of TB Joshua,” features testimonies from former disciples and church workers making serious allegations against the late prophet. So, as individuals seek spiritual guidance and community within a church, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for signs that may indicate a shift towards cult-like behaviors. Here are ten red flags to be aware of:

  1. An Overly Strong Charismatic Leader

Beware if your church has a leader who claims unique spiritual insight, divine revelation, or prophetic powers, demanding unwavering obedience. Cult-like leaders position themselves as the ultimate authority, presenting their teachings as the exclusive path to salvation.

  1. Thought Control

If your church discourages critical thinking and promotes a black-and-white worldview, be cautious. Thought control techniques, including indoctrination and mental attacks, may be employed to suppress dissenting opinions and limit exposure to alternative viewpoints.

  1. Isolation from Friends and Family

A concerning sign is when a church encourages members to sever ties with friends, family, or external influences. This isolation facilitates easier control and manipulation by restricting support networks.

  1. Exploitation

Financial contributions are normal, but if your church demands substantial amounts or coerces members into handing over assets, be wary. Exploitation can extend to time and energy, with members pressured to take on debt to fund the church’s activities.

  1. Forcing Commitment

If your church demands perfect devotion to group activities and employs spiritual and emotional manipulation against those who falter, consider it a red flag. The pressure to demonstrate unwavering commitment may cause mental distress.

  1. Authoritarian Structure

Extreme churches often feature a rigid hierarchy, with the leader at the top. Public humiliation, forced confessions, and repentance are common tactics used to control and manipulate members, causing emotional damage.

  1. Us-versus-Them Mentality

Be cautious if your church fosters an “us-versus-them” mentality, deeming the group as possessing unique enlightenment. Encouraging members to view outsiders as misguided or evil may indicate an unhealthy dependence on the group.

  1. Strict Rules and Regulations

Churches imposing strict rules on personal choices, relationships, and enforcing them with severe punishment, including mental, emotional, or even physical discipline, should raise concern.

  1. Lack of Transparency

If your church lacks transparency and covers up internal issues or wrongdoings, it may be concealing a darker side. This secrecy can harm victims of abuse and perpetuate a cycle of manipulation within the church.

  1. Fear of Leaving

A deep-seated fear of leaving, manifested through threats of eternal damnation, social ostracism, or physical harm, indicates a dangerous environment. Such fear traps individuals within the church, hindering their ability to recognize its harmful nature.

Recognizing these warning signs is crucial for maintaining a healthy spiritual community. If you observe several of these indicators in your church, it may be time to reassess the group dynamics and consider seeking support outside the church.

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