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Date Posted:08/12/2007 2:17 PMCopy HTML

Mind Control in The Revival Centres

Compiled by Troy Waller
Adapted from Mind Control in the ICC by Brian Ritt


MIND CONTROL- The phrase conjures up visions of zombie-like trances, shaved heads and orange robes, sunken eyes deprived of food and sleep, and the drip, drip, drip of the ageless "Chinese water torture" experience.

These are the images we are used to seeing in our pop-culture media, and that in fact may exist in various parts of the world. But for the most part, these images have produced a widespread misunderstanding of the term. Mind control is not always so obvious and dramatic. It does not always appear with bared fangs or a vacant stare. It does not always require physical restraint, or the use of drugs, hypnosis, and food and sleep deprivation. Rather, the ability to control someone often appears so innocuous and haphazard that, unless you know specifically what to look for, you just might miss it.

The Revival Centres are among groups that have had charges of mind control levelled against them. When confronted with this accusation, Revivalists exclaim, "Nobody's controlling me! Nobody can force me to do anything! I make my own decisions. I joined the group willingly, and can leave at any time." Of course, most under the influence of mind control will only recognise it after they have begun to be freed from it. Agreed, the term mind control can be problematic, and can seem to say so much, and yet at the same time appear to say nothing at all. Admittedly, the term can be emotionally inflammatory and hard to digest, accustomed as we are to such a sensationalised understanding of the term. There are, in fact, many other terms that describe practices usually associated with mind control, ranging from the high-toned and academic to the common language of the streets--thought reform, coercive persuasion, exploitative persuasion, a shell game, a con job, shucking and jiving, a scam. Whatever label you want to put to the methods gathered under the umbrella of mind control, in the end the only thing they can spell out is: B-A-D-N-E-W-S.

When confronted with the term mind control, a legitimate question is, how does someone control your mind if they can't get inside your head? The answer is one simple word: belief. If someone can lead you to believe that they are acting in your best interests, they can control you. If someone can lead you to believe that real love only exists in their group, and that if you don't measure up to their standards they'll withdraw that love, they can control you. If someone can lead you to believe they are God's delegated authority and that their direction is ‘God's will for your life', they can control you. In sum total, if someone can convince you to believe what they want you to believe, using a system that limits and distorts information and one's ability to make informed judgements, they can control you-- both your decisions and your actions.

But that is not to say that all Revivalist leaders are consciously aware of the methods they use or that they are used intentionally.  Revivalist leaders, on the most part, wholeheartedly believe that the way that they do things is the way that God would want them to run the church.  It is a learned behaviour which has been modelled by other leaders before them who also thought they were doing the right thing.  Eventually, this pattern of control and misinformation became the norm and was ‘institutionalised' into the Revival Centre mentality.  As with most cults, a ‘system' slowly evolved.  One former Revival Centre pastor noted,

"While I do not label the Revival groups as cults, a number of the methods that are often associated with cults and information-controlling groups can be seen within the various Revivalist organisations...  I think it important, when writing about these groups, to acknowledge that most, dare I say it all, of the Revivalist leaderships do not consciously or actively set out to use 'controlling techniques', at least, not in the way that society in general perceives to be the case with the more extreme, controlling religious cults. I know this point may make little difference to some of the eventual outcomes, but I think it is important to highlight the difference in intent... In reference to the RCI for example, I would not see them as having an individual as a 'cult leader', but rather, I would see that the Revival 'system' has of itself, evolved into a 'cultic' type of system. What I mean is,  the system has survived not because it is the 'truth' or is inherently 'right', but rather, the unconscious and undirected development of a system can often lead to the survival of the one that has the most efficient set of 'self protection', attributes. Sadly, these are the very attributes often associated with cultic groups, attributes such as isolationist and information control style techniques. Without these various 'techniques' these systems simply can not survive...  I was a pastor and personally knew many other pastors, even the most senior. I believe we were all genuine in our beliefs, so much so that I'm convinced none of us set out with the intent of controlling anyone else, and certainly not for the sake of personal 'power'. Each of us wanted a 'tight' system purely for the sake of the 'gospel', and to ensure that we enjoyed a clean and righteous church. The system that we were part of helped to deliver what we believed was this 'righteous church', and it was the one approach that we honestly believed the gospel both promoted and required."  (Name withheld by request.)

This article will paraphrase the eight criteria for mind control put forward by Robert J. Lifton and will show how Revival Centre methods parallel these criteria. The criteria are in no way intentionally biased against the Revival Centres, as they were developed without any knowledge of the Revival Centres' existence, and continue to be referred to by such renowned psychologists and counsellors as Robert Lifton, Margaret Singer, Steven Hassan and Michael Langone.

As you read this, please keep in mind that the situations described do not necessarily happen in the life of each and every Revivalist to the same degree. It could be true that a recent member or a member in some part of the world might not have experienced every parallel drawn. Nevertheless, based on observations and testimonies from numerous ex-members around the world, and the Revival Centres' own published documents and sermons, the scenarios described are definitely characteristic of the Revival Centres groups as a whole, and can certainly be applied as a general ‘rule of thumb' regarding the groups' environments.

1. ENVIRONMENT CONTROL: Communication from within and outside the group is controlled or manipulated to produce a significant degree of isolation from the surrounding society. Interactions with friends, family, and information outside the group is regulated and limited.

Within the group, exposure to the outside world is regulated through the Revival Centre requirement that every member notify the oversight on all major decisions.  These include who to date, who to marry, (see Assembly Guidelines # 41, 42, 44), which assembly to attend (see Assembly Guideline # 53), who you can associate with, how much time to spend with non-Revivalist members who are not open to joining the group, where to go on vacations (i.e. the official camp or private holiday), who to live with and even what job to take.  This is all in light of what will or will not conflict with the agenda of ‘the Assembly" (see Assembly Guidelines Introduction).  While it is true that the Bible often states that it is wise to seek counsel, this directive is taken a step further, and what the Revival Centres deceptively calls the need for ‘notifying the oversight' in reality becomes the need for ‘permission.'

Also, going to visit a church not directly affiliated with one's own Revival Centre group is not allowed (see Assembly Guideline # 2). Why would you want to check out a church that isn't preaching ‘the truth?' pastors ask. They tell you that to even casually visit another church is a prime way to become ‘deceived' and doing so may snatch away your devotion to ‘the truth'. Of course, the reason pastors feel threatened is because they know that if you visit other churches you might discover that the Revival Centres don't have a monopoly on the truth.

Regarding friends and family, members have reported being ‘talked to' and having their commitment to God challenged when they were thought to be spending more time with friends and family than with other Revivalists, even if those friends and family are professing ‘Spirit-filled Christians'. If your family is not in the church, you are coached on what information to share and not to share in the hope of them being converted to the church. For example, you are told not to mention too much of the negative aspects of the church such as members being ‘put out'.

Outside the group, any information that is critical of the Revival Centres or their teachings is labeled as ‘of the devil' or ‘worldly'. This means that any such materials pollute and corrupt your faith. Types of materials include unsanctioned Christian books and tapes (see Assembly Guideline # 3), newspaper articles, television news reports, and internet web sites like the one you are now reading. Even talking about these issues with other members is forbidden (see Assembly Guidelines # 5,10, 14, 18, 24)

Rather than use the information to lessen the abuses and make positive changes in the group, Revivalist leaders tell their members that the information is like poison and to open yourself to these materials will set you on the road to Hell.

An even more powerful example of environment control is to limit access to ex-members, (especially ex-leaders, who often have had a significant influence on many current members). Most ex-members are seen as a threat to Revival Centre groups, and current members are not allowed to talk to them, or risk being ‘put out' themselves. Of course, ex-members are a threat because they are often privy to inside information that would have a good and rightful impact on current members (see Assembly Guideline # 16).  There are numerous reports of ex-members who merely wanted to explain to close friends why they were leaving the Revival Centres but current members feared for their own security in the group and refused to meet with them.


2. MYSTICAL MANIPULATION: The potential convert to the group becomes convinced of the ‘special-ness' and higher calling of the group through prophetic words and encounters. These prophetic words/encounters seek to produce emotional responses of awe and trust; the words/encounters appear to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, but in reality have been pre-planned and orchestrated. By thus becoming the instruments of their own mystique, they create a powerful aura around their organisation, the Government, the Party, the Movement.

Perhaps the best demonstration of mystical manipulation is in what the Revival Centres refer to as the ‘operation of the spiritual gifts.' This practice was once fairly common in Pentecostal churches though it is not so common now.  In the Revival Centres however, it is done every week at least. Usually after communion, someone will speak loudly in tongues and then someone else will ‘interpret' that in English.  This is done two or three times.  Then two or three people will ‘prophesy'. This practice is based on the Revival Centre interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:29-31 and is rigidly controlled (see Assembly Guidelines # 32-35). Now it must be stressed here that Revivalists believe that these messages are from God himself. They believe that God somehow ‘inspires' people in the congregation to give a direct message from heaven.  Of course, this message must be in line with Revival Centre belief or it simply is not of God.  The messages are in Elizabethan English and usually something along the lines of "Yea verily, I am calling you this day. Come and see that I am God..." or "Don't turn to the left or the right. Remain on the path I have chosen for you..."  It seems that most Sundays in Revival Centres all over the world, God speaks to people about getting saved (i.e. joining the Revival Centres) and not straying (i.e. not leaving the Revival Centres) and not much else. Remember, these messages are straight from God, usually stress the correctness of the church and give dire warnings not to stray from the church. Of course these ‘gifts' reinforce the church's position and are very powerful tools in maintaining and recruiting members, hence their operation every week. To the outside observer, the potential for the manipulation of these ‘gifts' (intentional or otherwise) is obvious, and yet Revivalists will not entertain the idea that these messages are anything but from God himself.

Especially in the Christian Assemblies International (and to a lesser extent in other Revival Centre groups), potential converts are often manipulated by ‘prophetic words.'  They are told things such as ‘God is calling you‘, ‘You are going to be a powerful leader in God's kingdom,' and, ‘You are not here by accident,' (which of course implies that God wants them to be a part of the Revival Centres). These generic phrases are repeated time and time again, often by members who hardly know the potential convert. Throughout the conversion process, they are showered with seemingly spontaneous and endless ‘love' and attention and continually told how special they are. Starry-eyed and euphoric, they gaze up to the heavens thinking, ‘This must be God.'  However, once they become a member, they stop receiving the encouragement.  They are told it is now their turn to give, and the gifts of love and attention are lavished on the next potentially ‘special' person on the assembly line. Whereas the love initially appeared to be a free gift, converts now have to earn it through performance and adherence to the Revival Centre ways.

In some smaller Revival Centre assemblies, when the church is informed that a potential convert will be visiting the meeting, all the stops are pulled out to relate to this person.  Testimonies may be given by people who had a similar background to the visitor or who have faced similar difficulties (in life) as the visitor.  Often, the whole talk/sermon is aimed at the individual or small group of visitors.  There is nothing wrong with attempting to relate to someone, but not openly declaring that this seeming ‘spontaneity' has been carefully orchestrated with the visitor in mind is deceptive.  The pastor should admit if information has been given to him in advance.  This kind of orchestration is not so easily done in Sunday meetings in large Revival Centre congregations, but it can be common in house meetings. 


3. DEMAND FOR PURITY: Group members are constantly exhorted to strive for unattainable perfection on a global or personal level. Taints and poisons which contribute to the existing state of imperfection must be searched out and eliminated. These perfectionist expectations produce an environment of continual shame and guilt.


First of all, understand that the ‘demand for purity' is not necessarily referring only to sexual purity, but the purity of attitudes that conform to the Revival Centre stencil of a ‘good Revivalist.'


A lot of Revivalists feel like they don't measure up to ‘God's standard'. Even thought they speak in tongues and attend meetings faithfully, many Revivalists are not quite sure if they will make it to ‘the first resurrection' or not.  This constant striving to please God is never-ending. Many Revivalists live in a bubble of constant guilt and shame because of secret sins and temptations.. 


In the Revival Centres any decision of yours can be turned into ‘rebellion,' ‘a lack of submission' or even ‘falling away' and must be purged in order for you to remain a good Revivalist. If you are not able to attend every meeting, if you don't give at least 10% of your income every week, if you ask ‘divisive questions' then you will be confronted by a leader. This is then taken further, and you are told that if you don't submit to the leadership then you are not submitting to God.  If you are not submitting to God then your salvation is in question.  Revivalists may claim that they need not obey oversight if the leader's direction conflicts with the Bible.  But it is also true that leaders routinely manipulate the Bible to support what they say, tell you that you don't have as clear an understanding of the scriptures as they do, or tell you to pray about it and get your thinking in line with God.'  And people who disobey oversight must do it in secret, as many do, or risk being ‘put out.'


Considering that Revivalists can only marry those already in their specific group (these days numbers are dwindling) and must have the approval of the leadership to do so, finding a suitable spouse in the Revival Centres is extremely difficult.  This means there are large numbers of unmarried members who have no avenue by which to express normal, natural, even ‘healthy' sexuality.  Those that struggle with sexual temptation, often laid down with guilt, are told to ‘pray about it' and nothing more than that. Of course, many have come form sexually permissive backgrounds and so the demand for sexual purity is not so quickly met, if ever.  But even those who have grown up in the groups find it hard to repress their natural sexual urges, especially when they have no viable marriage partners.  So, sexual purity is a big issue for Revivalists.  Attempts have been made to control the amount of pre-marital sex within the groups over the years through temporary disfellowshipping.  But Lloyd Longfield felt the problem was too rife in his churches and officially pronounced pre-marital sex as the unforgivable sin.  Those that fornicate are never allowed back into his churches.  So now, the demand for sexual purity is so strong in the Revival Centres International that to have sex outside of marriage is to, quite simply, lose your salvation.



4. CULT OF CONFESSION: Confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious and therapeutic expressions to the point of being a cult in itself. It then becomes a means of exploiting rather than offering comfort. Often in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, even doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders.


The problem with confession as it is spoken of here, and where the Revival Centres grossly distorts the biblical purpose of confession, is that if you ever question doctrine or practices of the group, the sins you have previously disclosed are brought up as the real issue you are hiding behind. You and your ‘heart' are made out to be the problem. This especially applies if you leave the group. ‘Oh, so-and-so fell away because he just wanted to watch pornography and go to nightclubs. That was one of his big sins, you know.'  Or, ‘Oh, she just left because she wanted a boyfriend. You know how she always talked about struggling with not being married.' Often, these types of stories turn out to be absolutely untrue, and any valid concerns you may have brought up while a member are then conveniently swept under the carpet. This is an incredibly effective tactic of control, and keeps the real issues from being addressed and keeps questions from being answered. It obviously helps keep the real reasons for the ex-member's departure hidden.


Revival Centre leaders often encourage their members to come to them about doubts and struggles. This is dangerous to do, as the reason they want you to be open with doubts, attitudes or quiet reservations about the group is so they can ‘help' you, not because you might have a valid point. But if you do bring up your concerns and then still choose to leave, you are labelled as ‘critical,' ‘bitter' or ‘not open to the truth'.


5.) SACRED SCIENCE: The group's perspective produces an aura of sacredness around its doctrine, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. The group has a monopoly on the truth, all other individuals and groups fall short?? The group's doctrine is not subject to amendments or question.


Revival Centre doctrine is not to be questioned at almost every level of membership.  Official beliefs are decided only by those at the very top of the leadership hierarchy. Members are expected to adhere to all aspect of Revival Centre belief.


Why are there so many divorces in the world? Because people aren't ‘Spirit-filled.' Why is there so much sexual immorality, stealing, drug use, dysfunctional families, etc? Because people aren't ‘Spirit-filled.' Yes, the Revival Centres claim to have the solution to why your life is so sick and twisted.  Because you aren't ‘Spirit-filled.' 


The Revival Centres classify all other individuals and groups since the 1st century as having fallen short of New Testament Christianity. The group's philosophy is not that its leadership has discovered new truths, but that old truths have become clear in a way that hasn't happened with the rest of the worldwide Christian community in 1900 years. The Revival Centres claim that their salvation message, their form of church government and even the way they run their services are straight from the Bible. The Revival Centres really believe they are accurately recreating 1st century Christianity.


The Revival Centres claim that nobody else has the truth like the Revival Centres do, even other Revival Centre groups that have split off from them.  Even though other groups may preach ‘speaking in tongues to be saved,' they just cannot be seen to be as committed to the task of following the Lord and are labelled all ‘spiritually dead,' ‘not unified' or ‘weak in the Spirit.


Regarding the attempt to make amendments, many members and leaders have made specific efforts to change authoritarian Revival Centre practices.  Challenges to the ‘status quo' are met with swift ex-communication. This continues to happen to the present day, and members who take a stand on their convictions toward the Revival Centres doctrines or abusive practices are typically told they are opposing God and are chastised or shunned until they fall into line, or leave.


6.) LOADED LANGUAGE: Vocabulary is redefined to suit the group's agenda. Group members think within the very abstract and narrow parameters of the group's doctrine. The most deep and complex human problems are compressed into brief, definitive sounding phrases, easily remembered and easily expressed. The terminology sufficiently stops members from thinking critically by reinforcing a black and white mentality. Loaded terms and cliches prejudice thinking.


Here are some terms the Revival Centres use:


Spirit-filled. Revivalists believe that when you receive the Holy Spirit (speak in tongues), you become ‘Spirit-filled'. This term is used to define those who are ‘in' as opposed to those who are ‘out'. (Before I was Spirit-filled I used to swear and drink a lot.)


Receive. To receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. This is the crucial point when one truly becomes part of the group and people often remember the exact date and time this occurred. (I received five years ago)


The World. Quite simply, anything that is seen as an enemy to or not congruent with the Revival Centre system or way of life. This term is used in the same way as ‘Spirit-filled' is, but is to define ‘them' rather than ‘us.' (I am saved but my family is in the world.)


Fall Away. Biblically, this term refers to someone who has decided to turn their back and break off their relationship with God. In the Revival Centres, this term is used to reinforce the teaching that leaving the Revival Centres is synonymous with leaving God. (Sadly, Margaret has fallen away.)


Excesses. Any practices of Charismatic/Pentecostal churches that are not in congruence with Revival Centre teachings such as the raising of hands, singing in tongues, exorcism, etc. (We don't support the excesses that go on in other churches.)


Put out. This refers to Revival Centre practice of disfellowshipping.  Sometimes it is temporary and other times it is permanent. (Did you hear? Joe was put out for 6 months.)


The Truth. This refers to Revival Centre doctrine and practice.  No other truth is held to be as ‘true' as Revival Centre truth.  All other truth, such as science, psychology, etc., is subject to Revival Centre doctrine. (I am so glad I have finally found the truth.)


Religious. Someone who goes to church or does good deeds in the name of God, but is not part of the Revival Centres. Historically, this term has been neutral or positive, and denotes commitment and devotion, but in the Revival Centres, religious is pejorative, and means that you are either wishy-washy and complacent, or that you are a Pharisee and prideful. (We don't want to be part of those religious churches.)


Bitter. Anyone who leaves the group and is openly critical of it is said to be ‘bitter'. Any grievance he or she has toward the group is minimised as they are told they are just bitter. Grievances or charges against the group are dismissed and the character of the ex-member is then made the issue. Others are warned to stay away from those who are labelled as ‘bitter' for the sake of their own salvation.  Bitterness, it is implied, is as easily caught as the common cold. (She left us because she got bitter.) 



7. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON: Pre-group experience and group experience are narrowly interpreted through the absolute doctrine, even when experience contradicts the doctrine. The group's doctrine is viewed as more valid, true, and real than any aspect of human character or experience.


The Revival Centres do this very well.  They invalidate any former Christian knowledge or experiences one may have by ‘proving' true salvation is only found in the Revival Centres.  Conversion to Christianity as preached by other churches is denigrated and even mocked. The idea of ‘giving your heart to the Lord/confessing Jesus' is often mentioned as ‘not being the Bible way!'  Even if you spoke in tongues prior to joining the Revival Centres, they teach that you must now preach ‘the gospel' as the Revival Centres do to be truly walking with the Lord. This, in turn, infers that you were not quite right with God prior to joining the Revival Centres. Personal testimonies of conversion are changed or reinterpreted to come into line with the group's doctrines. Prior church involvement, spiritual awakenings or prior conversion stories are all reinterpreted as distractions from, or at best simply leading to, true salvation in the Revival Centres. Leaders will actively see that this is maintained (see Assembly Guideline # 2). 


Within the group, personal and even family relationships are nowhere near as important as loyalty to ‘the Assembly.'  Confidentiality is routinely broken, as information about members' sins and struggles are passed on to leadership. Members are encouraged to report the ‘un-godly' behaviour of other members to the oversight so that leaders can ‘help the erring brother or sister.' Members are told that to hide the sin of a brother or sister from leadership is to not really care about that brother or sister. Even dating and married couple are required to inform leaders if their spouse is speaking critically about the group, or is ‘sinning' secretly. Members who have been part of the group for five, ten, and even thirty years are treated like strangers by supposed close friends if they take a stand against abuses, or if they leave the group.  The Revival Centres have an ‘ends justify the means' mentality, and has little respect for the frailty of the human heart and mind (see Assembly Guidelines # 16).



8. DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE: Salvation is possible only in the group. Those who leave the group are doomed.


Some Revival Centre groups, such as the Geelong Revival Centres, openly teach that they are the one true church and to leave them is to lose your salvation. In most other Revivalist groups however, this is only inferred albeit strongly, by the fact that no other viable alternatives of church are ever named or offered. Whichever way they package it, most Revivalists believe that if you leave you might as well be considered dead, unless of course you are restored to fellowship at some point. When you leave the group you are often told outright that you will go back to your sinful lifestyle, that your marriage will become a mess, that your life will fall apart, and that your are like a ‘dog returning to its vomit.' That the Revival Centres claim to be the one true church is the linchpin that holds the group together, the hub of its existence. Without the fear this instils, few people would be willing to tolerate the intense controls of a Revival Centre environment. And without the deceptive practices the Revival Centres use to support this claim, they would not have the control they exercise over peoples' lives.




In closing, many people claim there is no such thing as mind control, or that the Revival Centres are not guilty of it, because people can walk away at any time they choose. But this is not the issue. Fortunately, thousands have walked away from the Revival Centres in their forty year-plus history, and will continue to do so. The issue is not whether mind control techniques force anybody to be a lifetime convert. The issue is the amount of real and concrete emotional, relational and spiritual damage that is done. Emotionally, ex-members have been known to become confused, depressed, and sometimes suicidal after leaving the group, with the constant fear that they have ‘left God' running through them. Relationally, they have lost all of the people they believed were their best friends and ‘brothers and sisters' and have long ago alienated pre-Revival Centre friends and family because of the groups expectations and their own judgemental and self-righteous hard line attitude while in the group. Spiritually, they are confused about who God is or where they stand with Him, and many want nothing to do with Him, their understanding of Him severely tainted by the Revival Centres. In all these areas, members have made decisions because they were persuaded, through the Revival Centre deceptive mind control practices, that this was God's will for their lives.


The Revival Centres at first appear to be an oasis that God exclusively revolves around, but in reality is only a mirage. They eventually leave members to crawl away more thirsty and beaten than when they entered.

[LINK SiteName=Mothrust: Movies and Modern Myth Target=_blank][/LINK] Be nice, for everyone that you meet is fighting a harder battle - Anita Roddick
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  • Register:21/09/2018 12:36 AM

Re:Article: Mind Control in The Revival Centres

Date Posted:28/11/2009 3:11 AMCopy HTML

 Thanks for posting this M&R. This is one of the articles I am (still) proud of.  ;)

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