Tag Archives: Cults

Gracepoint – “controls EVERY aspect of life… prey on vulnerable and lonely freshmen”

Reddit post from user Successful-Skill-246 regarding his personal experience with Gracepoint at UC Berkeley

“When I attended UC Berkeley I was a part of a Church called Gracepoint ( largely Southern Baptist Roots). They prey on vulnerable and lonely freshmen. They will distribute with attractive flyers for free food. Missionaries will eat at dining halls to recruit people. At first, the groups seemed benign. However, little by little, you realize your only friends are from only that church. You begin to get cut off from the world and become indoctrinated. I noticed it started getting weird when they would monitor your internet through a website called covenant eyes.

They don’t allow you to date during your undergrad .They only court each other once you in your late 20s to mid thirties. When I attended a wedding the couple didn’t even kiss. Sexuality is majorly repressed. Men and women are segregated, you can’t even tell who is a couple. You also couldn’t question the Bible. They seemed to lack theological discourse. If your family was not Christian they ardently proselytize or cut you off.

I am glad I left. Some people may not consider this a cult. However, I grew up Catholic and felt like the Gracepoint Church controls EVERY aspect of life. I began to feel guilty about every little thing. About my secular”music or “internet addiction.” I was damned if I didn’t accepts Jesus as my lord and savior. What was more creep was that everyone’s drove minivans and wore very similar clothing. I love fashion so this threw me off completely.”

Original Post: https://www.reddit.com/r/cults/comments/hsp7ao/college_students_beware_of_christian_cult/

Navigators: Pervasive Negativity and Pyramid Scheme Concerns

… Even as a fundamentalist Christian, I thought they were pretty creepy and I had stopped going to meetings before they left. It was not any one specific thing that bothered me; they just had a pervasive negativity, even by Calvinist standards.

The tithe was given fully to the leader over all the groups.

This is interesting. I know for a fact that some other para-church groups were pyramid schemes, because they tried to recruit me as staff. Each staff member had to raise their own salary, plus a hefty extra amount, which was taken off the top for “headquarters expenses”. Actually, though, a big chunk of the “headquarters expense” went to their boss, and another big chunk went to the bosses’ boss, etc. By the time you were 2-3 levels up, you were personally getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars every year (in 1970’s dollars).

I never found out very much about how Navs was funded or paid their staffs. …”

Excerpt from: https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/8d1y4f/any_previous_navigators_out_there/

Navigators: “Brainwashing Cult”, “the same kind of round [about] answers”

I live very close to Glen Eyrie which is on beautiful lands with a breath taking castle. I would so love to just walk around the grounds and see the entire house but you have to stay ob the guided tour if you are not a Navigator. I don’t know much about them even though they are right here but they always give me the heebie jeebies when they talk to me. I feel like they are some kind of brainwashing cult but I can’t find anything to back up gut feelings….

Source: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/freejinger/are-the-navigators-a-cult-t2153.html

They seem very secret here and never gave me round about answers to questions years ago, but they left me feeling like they had something to hide. I have friends also in Navigators but I get the same kind of round around answers and never got full answer. I just wondered why they act this way?

Source: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/freejinger/are-the-navigators-a-cult-t2153.html

Who are the 7 Thunders?

“7 Thunders is the name used by some campus clubs connected to the World Mission Society Church of God, a religious movement that began in South Korea in the 1960s.”

“7 Thunders have several tenets that separate them from other Christianity-based campus organizations. These include the belief that a man named Ahn Sahng-hong was the second coming of Christ. Sahng-hong was a Korean minister who founded Witnesses of Jesus Church of God, a group that split after his death. One half became the World Mission Society Church of God, the church associated with 7 Thunders.”

“Anderson said students should research to determine if a group has beliefs that align with their own. In regards to 7 Thunder’s beliefs, Anderson said that while he respected the organization’s right to a differing opinion, many of their beliefs do not align with traditional Christianity.

“Christianity would disagree; the Bible does not teach that there’s ‘God the mother,’ it does not teach that you are saved by taking covenant Passover. It would disagree that Christ Ahn Sahng-hong is the new savior,” Anderson said. “What has Christianity taught about the same sorts of issues? Just be able to hold those two things up and be able to evaluate, ‘What do I think is actually true? What does the Bible actually teach?’”

According to Anderson, while 7 Thunders might use actual bible verses, the source material could be misinterpreted.

“What I’ve witnessed is, oftentimes, the 7 Thunders Club will take a particular verse and they won’t exactly show how it fits into the whole passage,” Anderson said. “I would just say, read the Bible for yourself and read everything in its full context.” 

Source: https://www.thegriffonnews.com/featured/who-is-the-campus-cult/article_570b2e51-0c6c-580d-9590-e4bc196b65c5.html

Like a crazy ex, CRU does not “like you socializing outside of your group”

I’ve heard they are actually kind of cult-y. Not supposed to socialize outside the group. Start making impossible demands once you’re in. Guilt you into giving them your money. The whole “discipleship” mechanism.

Redditor: themsc190

I was with cru from 2011-2013 (most of my undergrad). I can confirm that they do not like you socializing outside of your group and do tell you that non-Christian friends are not “really” friends but should be causes for you to convert. They keep you from mingling with other people by organizing your whole week, like oh homecoming? We have a table where you can tailgate (no alcohol obv)! Then they pressure you to volunteer and do more (fruit of the Spirit). Hell, I left the country, moved abroad for grad school and they contact the Cru abroad at the university to reach out to me! It was terrible! I’ve been avoiding them ever since.

Redditor: hayekenthusiast

Link: https://www.reddit.com/r/exchristian/comments/62xrmd/so_out_of_curiosity_what_exactly_is_cru/

Navigators (Navs) – “ranking systems, oppression of women, experts of guilt trips”

“Is anyone familiar with the “para-church” called the Navigators? They tend to latch onto military bases and college campuses. My ex-husband was in the Army and we were stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. While there, we were “recruited” (their word, not mine) into the group. We met twice a week for our official meetings, and at random times throughout the week for our fellowship time. The Navigators operates out of the facade of being extremely welcoming and inviting. Honestly, there were many good people in this group who were completely sincere and would give you the shirt of their backs… but the leaders, I saw right through them (eventually). We always met in homes or the chapel. There was a slew of type-A military men that had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to rank high in the ministry. A few things this group did were:

-Ranking systems (disciples/discipleship)

-Oppression of women. We were not to speak up, teach, or challenge our husbands decisions. Our modesty was a fundamental aspect of our acceptance in the group… Most of the wives stayed home and if a few did work or were single they were essentially treated as outsiders. I remember one time a particular young lady began to question the group on their theology – and my husband at the time was encouraged to have me, his wife, never talk to her again because she was a bad example to me. Because of her questioning, she was suddenly considered an enemy.

Generous tithing was expected and pushed heavily. The tithe was given [edited] to the leader over all the groups, from what I believe. We were never given an exact answer as to where our money was going. We had about 5-10 sects, if you will. They were spread out by location, although most of us lived in the same neighborhood. So you could imagine, a lot of money was being poured in. I remember the first time the leader sat my husband down and drew a childish illustration showing “why” he should give money. Of course, he agreed and money was taken out of our bank account monthly.

-Legalism was HUGE but they would preach grace. There were unspoken rules, and even spoken ones. They were experts at guilt trips. We were expected to memorize scripture every week and were quizzed then shamed if you did not remember. To these people, knowledge was everything to combat the outside world and gain recruit$.

You were discouraged from visiting local churches. The Navigators believed themselves to be the real image of how a church should be. The only church you could attend on Sunday was the chapel that supported them.

The hierarchy was the biggest way in which they took advantage of young military men and their wives, and I believe now looking back the motivator was money and power. Everyone seemed miserable, and I was too. Thankfully I only had to experience that for a few years, then we moved. But looking back, it pisses me off. I want to call them out on their bullshit but wonder if I should even waste my time. Have any of you had similar experiences with a so-called “para-church”?

From a Reddit thread titled: My Cult Experience

Navigators (Navs) – “using many cult techniques for slowly bringing young people”, “take control of believers’ lives”

“As with cults, young adults are particularly vulnerable to the pull of extreme Christianity. Fundamentalist groups have usurped the cults of the 1970’s on college campuses, using many cult techniques for slowly bringing young people into their organizations with friendships and non-religious activities. At New York’s Columbia University, for example, half a dozen different fundamentalist groups regularly canvas for new members. In the past decade Christian groups, with names such as Campus Crusade for Christ, The Navigators and The Way, have blossomed on campuses nationwide. Because they are locally managed, the dynamic in such groups depends largely on the local leaders. Some local leaders use their positions to take control of believers’ lives.

‘A primitive understanding of serious concepts such as hell or eternal damnation can be very disturbing,’ Powell says. ‘Extreme fundamentalism also tends to inhibit self-expression, even artistic expression, which can be very damaging to a young person.'”

Excerpt from an online article: https://aliciapatterson.org/stories/price-fundamentalism

Navigators (Navs) – “the pyramid style of recruitment, are very cult-like in nature”

This is an excerpt from an academic paper titled “College Student Vulnerability to Harmful Religious Groups Based on Perceptions”, for East Tennessee State University.

“I personally had a firsthand experience with a group that some consider cult like. During my freshman year at the University of Tennessee, I was paired up with a random roommate. He was a 35-year-old man working on his master‟s degree and staying in a freshman dorm. After a few weeks of formalities, I decided to ask him why he was in a freshman dorm. He belonged to a group called the Navigators, and he chose to live in the dorms as a way to branch out to new recruits. I did not know what the Navigators were or what they were about the time until an upperclassman friend told me. The Navigators are a Christian based group whose goal, according to their website is to “One by one…apply the Bible to their daily lives, pass on what they learn to others, and train these new believers, in turn, to reach others” (Gospel.com)

They have branches in college campuses nationwide as well as military, prisons, and international sites. Most of their practices, especially the pyramid style of recruitment, are very cult-like in nature. Thankfully, my roommate picked up on my lack of enthusiasm and after about a month left me alone.”

Cru – “repressive, controlling, and exclusionary group”

A Reddit thread titled: Has anyone else around here also heard about/experienced the college cult Cru?

“Basically I’m just looking for some people to commiserate with on any experiences they may have had with the fundamentalist Christian group Cru. This year I transferred schools from University of Minnesota Twin-Cities to Purdue. And, holy crap was I surprised when I learned about this group. So many kids I’ve meet are members of this group, and from what I can gather they teach that non-members are not worth your time, non-members are inherently bad people, and that good actions are only good if you believe in Jesus (how fucked up is that)? Anyways I’ve meet way to many kids who have bought into this group and have seen how it controls their entire life. It worries me that so many young people let this organization dominate their lives…. And I can’t really see why anyone would want to be apart of this repressive, controlling, and exclusionary group?”

InterVarsity (IV) – “my grandma and aunt’s best friend were convinced the ministry was a cult”

This is an excerpt from a Reddit post titled: Do I Belong to a Cult?

The author details how his/her involvement in InterVarsity (IV) as a leader lead him to become estranged from his/her family, as far as taking up 18-23 hours per week and making the author miss important family events.

“In the comments below, I decided to disclose the name of the organization. I was/am involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.”

“As my campus ministry began to take up more and more of my time and money, my parents became less and less pleased with my involvement.”

In some ways, my campus ministry was a part-time job: the first few weeks of the school year were spent doing outreach, hosting game nights and trips, and having one on ones with the people in my dorm. Between my bible study, bible study prep meeting, large group meeting, and leaders meeting, I was spending about 8 hours a week doing “scheduled” ministry. Another 10-15 hours were spent socializing with non-Christians, attending church, meeting up for prayer, etc. …

“It was around this time that my parents started throwing around words like “cult” and “brainwashed.” I learned that my aunt had been involved in the same campus ministry thirty years ago, and that my grandma and aunt’s best friend were convinced the ministry was a cult. My mom had never gotten along well with my aunt, and was quick to make the same accusations about my involvement.”

“Again, I wanted to try to involve my family in the decision. I had several tumultuous phone conversations with my parents. They believed that my staff workers were using me for their own gain, and that they had no concern for my academics or financial stability. Their concerns were founded on half truths: Living in the dorms would indeed be another financial burden, and I would face substantially more difficult classes my junior year.”