Doug and Wendy Duncan have been working with MSNBC to produce a series of shows concerning cult recruitment and recovery, and the first program will air tonight on MSNBC. (Wendy, a social worker and a seminary graduate of SWBTS, is the author of I Can't Hear God Anymore, a book about her experience in a Bible-based cult.)
This pilot episode premiering tonight focuses on the Teen Mania program and features several former participants, one of which attends the monthly cult recovery support group hosted by Doug and Wendy Duncan in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. After counseling with them, a couple of these former members set up a Teen Mania recovery support website, www.RecoveringAlumni.com.
This program is fairly unique and will be of interest to anyone who is in the process of recovery from any high demand or cultic religious group. Tune in to follow these former members through the process of dealing with the aftermath of cult involvement and the process of transition out of the destructive and pervasive patterns of thought and behavior that such groups demand.
The Duncans believe that the program will be of special interest to those involved in any Christian Youth Ministry, and hopefully, it can be a good conversation starter for those who are getting ready to venture off to college when cults often target these new students for recruitment.
And for those who watch, please send your feedback to MSNBC to express your interest in turning this into a regular feature on their network, identifying and profiling different cults. People in the US tend to be unaware of the dangers of cults and their prevalence, unaware that there are more than four thousand identified cults in the US today. Sadly, we hear about most of them after a tragedy. One cannot help but hope that with more exposure to the nature of cults and awareness of the warning signs that such tragedy might be prevented through such a series.
Following the the 10PM show, another follows at 11PM discussing the cult known as the Children of God. And in anticipation of the broadcast tonight, the TylerPaper.com (a newspaper in East Texas) published a very good article about the group.
Micah Marley (Teen Mania alumna)“My main concerns with Teen Mania are because of the fact that for the past 15 years various interns from every single year of the Honor Academy have come forward with the exact same concerns about neglect of health and safety issues, condemnation, violation of personal boundaries and a lot of other different things,” she said in a telephone interview. “Every single year, those issues have remained the same, no matter the minor changes that Teen Mania claims to have made.”. . .Ms. Marley says on the website that Teen Mania taught her that if she couldn't feel God's presence, it must be because of sin in her life. After spending months agonizing over what she could be doing wrong, she left the organization. . . .
“There's a lot of reasons people might not feel the presence of God in their life, and many, many, many of them are not related to sin whatsoever,” Hasz said. “We all go through dry periods. … I wouldn't blame them on sin whatsoever. I go through dry places that have nothing to do with sin. It's why we don't walk by sight, by what we feel. We walk by faith.”
. . .
Brian Alderidge (Intern and facilitator for ESOAL, a Teen Mania program)[T]he experience did “irreparable harm to my young adulthood.” He believes the organization maintains a damaging psychological climate.Doug Duncan (Licensed Professional Counselor)
“People always get in the weeds about ‘How do you define a cult?'” Duncan said. “The central thing is this idea of thought reform. You're going to take somebody and put them through a process that changes their personality. That is the core of a cult.”
“They get them right up front and hit them with all this stuff about commitment,'” Duncan said. “Then people feel obligated to go through the full year at the Honor Academy or whatever it is, even though in a lot of cases, they're miserable. Of course, when people are miserable or depressed, the nature of the group dynamic is people think it's their own fault, ‘It's because you're not praying enough;' ‘It's because you don't have enough faith;' ‘It's because you're not a good Christian;' ‘If you were like the other Christians around here, you would be happy here in this little paradise that we've set up.' It's the same environment, the same kind of control that cults do.”
Immediately following Mind over Mania tonight, MSNBC will air a second hour long program about the Children of God cult (aka, The Family International).
Children of God Video
Video LANGUAGE and CONTENT WARNING