Friday, June 29, 2007

Something to think about

Bear in mind I am not saying "Teen Challenge" IS a cult. Just that the concerns raised deserve attention.

Do you know someone in a destructive cult?
Anyone could attack a group they disagree with by unfairly labeling it a destructive cult. How would you know whether it really were such a cult or not? Isn't there an objective method to evaluate groups for cultic tendencies? Yes. The following early warning signs can help you reasonably determine whether or not a group is likely to be a destructive cult, and if you should be concerned about a friend, coworker, or loved one being involved with it.

The main reason that the following destructive cult tactics are so damaging to both the individual and society is because they debilitate rationality and reduce empathy. Rationality and empathy are indispensable in making good personal and social decisions. History is littered with personal and social catastrophes where a lack of rationality and lack of empathy were its core causes.

Ask yourself if the following criteria apply to the group you are concerned about.

1. A destructive cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of its members' behavior. Cults are likely to dictate in great detail not only what members believe, but also what members wear and eat, when and where members work, sleep, and bathe, and how members think, speak, and conduct familial, marital, or sexual relationships.

2. A destructive cult tends to have an ethical double standard. Members are urged to be obedient to the cult, to carefully follow cult rules. They are also encouraged to be revealing and open in the group, confessing all to the leaders. On the other hand, outside the group they are encouraged to act unethically, manipulating outsiders or nonmembers, and either deceiving them or simply revealing very little about themselves or the group. In contrast to destructive cults, honorable groups teach members to abide by one set of ethics and act ethically and truthfully to all people in all situations.

3. A destructive cult has only two basic purposes: recruiting new members and fund-raising. Altruistic movements, established religions, and other honorable groups also recruit and raise funds. However, these actions are incidental to an honorable group's main purpose of improving the lives of its members and of humankind in general. Destructive cults may claim to make social contributions, but in actuality such claims are superficial and only serve as gestures or fronts for recruiting and fund-raising. A cult's real goal is to increase the prestige and often the wealth of the leader.

4. A destructive cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. The leader claims to be breaking with tradition, offering something novel, and instituting the ONLY viable system for change that will solve life's problems or the world's ills. But these claims are empty and only used to recruit members who are then surreptitiously subjected to mind control to inhibit their ability to examine the actual validity of the claims of the leader and the cult.

5. A destructive cult is authoritarian in its power structure. The leader is regarded as the supreme authority. He or she may delegate certain power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader's wishes. There is no appeal outside his or her system to a greater system of justice. For example, if a schoolteacher feels unjustly treated by a principal, an appeal can be made to the superintendent. In a destructive cult, the leader claims to have the only and final ruling on all matters.

6. A destructive cult's leader is a self-appointed messianic person claiming to have a special mission in life. For example, leaders of flying saucer cults claim that beings from outer space have commissioned them to lead people away from Earth, so that only the leaders can save them from impending doom.

7. A destructive cult's leader centers the veneration of members upon himself or herself. Priests, rabbis, ministers, democratic leaders, and other leaders of genuinely altruistic movements focus the veneration of adherents on God or a set of ethical principles. Cult leaders, in contrast, keep the focus of love, devotion, and allegiance on themselves.

8. A destructive cult's leader tends to be determined, domineering, and charismatic. Such a leader effectively persuades followers to abandon or alter their families, friends, and careers to follow the cult. The leader then takes control over followers' possessions, money, time, and lives.

If you know someone who belongs to a group that demonstrates a significant number of these warning signs and you would like more information on how to deal with destructive cults or mind control, go to

Property buy falls through; Redwood Teen Challenge back to drawing board
Resident: Prove deal is 'dead' 7/17/07
Good arises from anger 7/19/07

INVESTIGATING TEEN CHALLENGE - Why Does Teen Challenge Need to Be Investigated?


  1. Like Al Gore and the global warming crowd.

  2. Like Paul and Tim crowd?

    What has Tim Stoen been up to ?

  3. The religious right certainly meets the criteria of a cult.

  4. Funny thing about that. They don't come much more "religious right" than Tim Stoen. Not only that but destructive, abusive, take advantage of kids, women and minorities cult religious right.

    Yet he was welcomed with open arms by the "left" here in Humboldt County. Why is that do you think?

  5. He wasn't welcomed here with open arms by people who were aware of his role in the People's Temple,and his role in San Francisco elections.The folks who welcomed him here really had no idea of his past,and the county did a good job of protecting him.
    Now,I did get to know him a little bit and questioned him about pretty much everything within his past,and I believe he woke up,albeit way to late,he lost his son,and I think that still haunts him.
    Still,I don't think he should've been hired,his role in the San Francisco elections department was too much,and he shouldn't be put into positions of authority despite what I hope he's overcome.
    I was actually thinking about contacting him about TeenChallenge to get his take on the group.

  6. robin shelley7/01/2007 6:01 PM

    That's not a bad idea, Mresquan. I'd be most interested in hearing what he has to say about it.

  7. Yeah. That oughtta be fascinating.

    You are a good and decent man, mresquan. Everything Stoen wishes he was and isn't.

    Whenever I hear about his grief for his son, I think about two things. One - the descriptions by the survivors telling how he schemed and manipulated to keep his wife from being able to take his son out of that hellish cult, fought to give him to Jones, and lied about when he took him to Jonestown, preventing her from being able to stop him from taking her son out of the country. And, two - I think about all of the OTHER kids who died that day. Murdered as a result of Stoen bringing them in as a fundraising scheme for the People's Temple. Other people's kids. Wards of the state. I've not heard that he is sorry for that.

    And I have no sympathy for him.

  8. robin shelley7/02/2007 9:35 PM

    And let's not forget the document that Stoen signed "under penalty of perjury" stating that:
    "I, Timothy Oliver Stoen, hereby acknowledge that in April 1971, I entreated my beloved pastor, James W. Jones, to sire a child by my wife, Grace Lucy (Grech) Stoen, who had previously, at my insistence, relucantly consented thereto. James W. Jones agreed to do so, reluctantly, after I explained that I very much wished to raise a child, but was unable after extensive attempts, to sire one myself. My reason for requesting James W. Jones to do this is that I wanted my child to be fathered, if not by me, by the most compassionate, honest, & courageous human being the world contains.
    "The child, John Victor Stoen, was born on January 25, 1972. I am privileged beyond words to have the responsibility for caring for him, and I undertake this task humbly with the steadfast hope that said child will become a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, and be instrumental in bringing God's kingdom here on earth, as has been his wonderful natural father.
    "I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true & correct."
    And so began the downfall of Jim Jones & the People's Temple. The child that Stoen was "privileged beyond words" to have entrusted to his care is buried in the mass grave of Guyana victims in Oakland.

  9. WOW! That is intense!

  10. What's even more intense is that followers were forced to sign notarized "confessions" that stated far worse, self-incriminating statements, sometimes blank signed and notarized pieces of paper which could then be filled in by Jones and his inner circle if they were to "defect" - papers which were used to blackmail them and keep them in line. It may have been such a document that Stoen's wife signed claiming he had "transvestite" tendencies. Even Stoen's deeding over paternity may be one of those statements.

    So much evil. So much pain. So much that must not be forgotten, and cannot be forgiven.

  11. robin shelley7/07/2007 9:42 PM

    Stoen freely admits that he signed the above statement & has said that Grace was not aware of it at the time. He has refused to say any more than that on the subject.

  12. Yep. Guess we'll have to wait for his memoirs to come out. Just hope he does it while there are still people alive who can fact check his version.

  13. robin shelley7/10/2007 5:47 PM

    He's pretty much the hero of his own made-up life story, that's for sure!


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