SA society vulnerable, says expert

2010-02-06 00:00

SOUTH Africa is a society vulnerable to religious cults because there is a lack of awareness about zealous cults and no watch dog to monitor them.

That’s the view of cult expert Robin Jackson, a former Jehovah’s Witness and author of Cults: How do they Work, a book about local and international cults and how they operate.

He left the Jehovah’s Witness church after he started to question its teachings. This angered other followers, who ostracised him. The publication of his book didn’t make things any better.

Jackson said he started investigating the Grace Gospel Church after he heard complaints that young adults were being targeted and encouraged to abandon their studies. Some youngsters even moved to Mauritius to help build a church there. “The church targets these youngsters who are often searching for meaning in their lives. The leaders come in with all the answers and these kids get hooked. Suddenly they see a future,” he said.

Jackson said the cult infiltrates universities and colleges and has now turned its attention to schools.

“They use other kids to spread the word and attract these kids into the cult. They are told to leave their studies, shun their families and move out of their homes,” he said.

The new recruits are told that they can only find salvation if they join the cult.

“As a former Jehovah’s Witness follower, I can see all the signs of a cult. These kids are not told about the rules of the cult. They join and only find out later about the harsh teachings of the cult. For some, it’s too late to leave.”

In his book, Jackson says that deception, intimidation, relationship control and information control are some of the behavioural signs of cults.

“Cults need to operate and recruit using deception. The reason for this is if people knew beforehand what their true practices are they would not join. They hide the truth from you until they think you are ready to accept it.”

He said that cults are growing in South Africa and that they prey on young, impressionable people who are planning for the future.

“They know it’s easy to convince young people. They convince these youngsters that the cult has all the answers.

“The sad part is that this cult ultimately breaks up families,” said Jackson.

“More and more of these groups are springing up in South Africa. They infiltrate religious groups, spread their message and lure people into their cult.”

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