Today, I'm going to be discussing something of an unusual subject that actually has some pretty heavy relevance to US politics and (honestly) world politics:

I'm going to be discussing cults (in the coercive group sense).

A thread:

So lately there's a lot of people who keep thinking re Christian Nationalism that "it can't happen here" (even as it is), or thinking they won't touch *Griswold* or *Loving v Virginia* or *Brown v Board of Education*, or even proposing "national divorces",

and I've discussed (largely to political audiences) why they absolutely would try to target these and *more*, and why the latter is likely to be as effective as the Maginot Line longterm in stopping an actual religio-fascist cult movement…

And I think a lot of people who aren't cult survivors (which is why I keep bringing up #exvangelical writers) or researchers on Christian Nationalism fully get that we're literally dealing with a cult with political aspirations, and a lot of people don't get what

is involved *psychologically*, and assume "cult" just means "weird and heterodox religion that isn't fully socially accepted yet".

So today, I'll give a minor teach-in on what it's actually like being in a coercive religious group.

So--generally with coercive religious groups, you are either born in the group (as I was), or you are recruited--and coercive groups do have specific groups of people they explicitly target who are--psychologically--at a prime time for the picking

It's common that they'll target communities that either literally or at least have the *inner* perception that they're down on their luck and the world is shite (the latter I'd put to white suburbanites who've seen factory jobs and the like move overseas,

and where employment is uncertain, and society is changing in ways they find Scary and Hard To Deal With; the former is literally populations like "the homeless", "people who are recovering from addiction disorders", "people who have other mental health issues", etc.).

And especially with the addiction disorders it's *really* a case of trading one addiction for another, as I'll get into, but suffice it to say there's a REASON there's a whole Christian Nationalist "alt-mental-health" industry.…

And psychologists who have written books on how people completely change worldviews, and how people get recruited into cults, have whole terms for this (they'll talk about "freezing" and "unfreezing" and the like) but in layman's terms, basically what a coercive group

does is it looks specifically for people who've had their whole worldview rocked to the point they're kind of questioning reality, and they pretty much home in on these people who are psychologically drowning...

...and throw them a life raft.

(Mind, that life raft is filled with enough poison to kill a decently sized city in the Midwest, but the person being recruited doesn't know this.)

And they don't necessarily have to *literally* have their life be shite; they just can have the perception that it is,

and that's enough to set the hook.

Nobody actually joins a coercive group by deep logical analysis; they are almost always recruited on the basis of pure emotion, and they are always kept in on the basis of pure emotion, which is one of THE most base things we have

And in the case of people who get recruited at things like soup kitchens and food pantries and homeless shelters and "alt-mental-health" clinics it's often *literally* the recruitee saying the coercive group saved their life, which is *damn powerful* in and of itself,

but even psychologically (like your grandma who doesn't really have a lot of social contacts other than Facebook and her local Bible study, or the neurodivergent kid who pretty much hangs out on the 'chans and that's their PRIMARY social interaction),

even with that, a cult recruiter is still throwing out a life ring and you'll STILL have people in coercive movements literally thanking the cult for saving them (literally or metaphorically).

And the life raft (filled with poison) that they throw out...

is at first "We have all the answers", and then "We're a group of Very Happy People here", then "There's a whole reality you never knew existed but directly influences WHY your life has been shite", and then "And we're the last stand against the Army of Evulz".

And to give you an example, I'll just go with the group I'm an escapee from. They have *very slick* production values in their megachurch, very high energy services, everything is happy and clappy and dancing and Not What People Typically Expect In Church,

and they even televise and stream it (and at least until they didn't pay their bills, were even carried on a major religious network), and to someone who was unaware of what the NAR was or is or what it stood for, it'd just seem like a big ol' happy Jesus party,

and everyone's hugging and asking how you're doing, if you're new they're VERY aggressive at making sure that You Feel Right At Home In Your New Church Community, and you'll probably be invited to the "10:30 service" which is where they get their crowds,

and you'll hear a lot of music (with again, very slick production values!), and you'll probably hear the preacher talk about how *yes*, the fact you have to wear a mask to not get the plague is bad, or how yes it IS awful *strange* how LGBTQIA folks are being more

tolerated among younger folks, but they have the *answers*...and you'll be hit with MORE happy-clappy songs with High Production Values, you'll be told on how Jesus blessed the widow's with her 2-mite temple offering and how all this money and the additional

"love offering" will be used to help build things for the church to do its work and to Spread The Jesusy Love, and after you've been in regular meetings for a few months you'll probably have someone (who has in the meantime become your New Church Bestie) ask you

to start going to the early service, and tell you about the revival services that they'll be having, and invite you to their "home bible study" and to hit the Wednesday service.

And that whole process is something that psychologists describe as "lovebombing", but

the way I'd describe it is...

Basically imagine that your life is shite and the world is shite, and someone comes to you and literally reveals that...superheroes exist, and they can actually PROVE superheroes exist if you'll come with them and let them buy you a sandwich

and you walk in and HOLY SHIT it's like something out of friggin' MHA or the Avengers or the Hall of Justice some shit, and the guy goes "Yeah and I brought you here because you're *special*, YOU can be a superhero too".

And it's not even until a few months in they really start sharing that they're having to fight a whole-ass League of Supervillainy that controls the world.

(You do not yet know that the leader is far closer to Homefront in "The Boys" than Superman.)

And honestly? Being lifted up from the gutter (literally or metapahorically) and just being laid on with first *more welcoming than a lot of people get from their families*...and then that friggin' endorphin rush with all the clapping and laughing and such,

28/x's kinda like a drug for people in a way. (And that's why I even note that a lot of times this stuff IS replacing one addiction for another.)

So you keep people hopped up on the happy and (perceived) love and oxytocin and endorphins on one end,

and at points once you're baited in with get pulled in to the *other* half of the equation, where they start REALLY pushing hate and fear of the Other that wants to DESTROY this idyllic paradise, and to them is the reason your life is shite so far

And it's often presented in terms of "THEY are actually plotting to ruin us, THEY are the ones who stole what was OUR BLESSING, and THEY have to be destroyed to bring back The Blessings and The Magic and Make Life Beautiful Again".

And this is literally something George Orwell observed as early as 1948 (IngSoc in "1984" operates exactly like this to the proles--"Big Brother" is shown as a loving protector who provides, while Emanuel Goldstein and the Designated Enemy are promoted

as those who would destroy what is portrayed as an idyll, or at least a refuge from Chaos, epitomized by the "two-minute hates").

And this is pretty much true of EVERY coercive group out there. Whether it is groups well known as cults (like the Co$ or the Moonies),

or political cults of personality (such as surrounds the Kim dynasty in North Korea), or cults that people may not immediately recognize as cults (Trumpism/MAGAtism, or the New Apostolic Reformation, or Christian Nationalism in general),

there is literally *always* the phenomena of "We will first lure in people whose worldviews have been shattered and who are grasping for a literal or psychological floatation device, we'll throw them a lifeboat to the *Ludicrosity of the Seas*, and once they've eaten

and enjoyed a few Broadway shows on our floating archology and had the revelation that Actual Superheroes Exist and the *Ludicrosity of the Seas* is the Real Life Hall of Justice, THEN they'll start going on about how everyone else is a Legion of Evil."

And by the time people are deeply involved in a cult where they're going HEAVY into the "This is our enemy" stage--you've likely been in it for a while. Could be months, could be years, but they don't START with the conspiracy theology from the get-go.

And even in the revival services and "early morning" and "Wednesday" services where they DO go into explicit detail on the 3000 Ways The Gays Are Ruining The Soil This Month, the services are STILL incredibly scripted, it ALWAYS starts and ends on the happy music notes,

the hugging, etc. You still have the "hug and song" > musical performance > initial preacher talk > musical performance (and first tithes) > traveling preacher or second preacher talk > "healing and prayer requests (and second tithes/"love offerings")>"hug and song",

it's just that during revivals and during Sunday night and Wednesday night service it'll be *six hours* of this, and it's usually in that *second* service that they let their freak flag fly.

It does differ from cult to cult, but you do have this general pattern of

still trying to end on an endorphin-fueled high note, just very often fueled with a whole lot of adrenaline too.

And by the time someone is at this point, they can do some pretty terrible things, because at this point a member is pretty much dedicating their life

And there's actually some pretty extreme examples of what happens when it gets to THIS point (Jonestown; Romanian Iron Guard members making blood oaths to the cause and their leadership), and that includes Christian Nationalism as well

When you've basically been told (by a group that fished you out of the gutter) that the only reason Rust Bowl, Ohio is not like Leave It To Beaver is because of minorities demanding civil rights and LGBTQIA people being allowed to exist and women working outside the home,

and you've actually SEEN with those Slick Production Values and the people practically foisting hugs and casseroles on you the moment you step in the door and they're providing education for you and the preacher is pointing out that the same people who supposedly turned

Rust Bowl, Ohio from an idyllic 50s suburban white Levittown paradise to...well, Rust Bowl, Ohio where the factories have moved out and your cousin developed an oxy addiction and is on the H and your teenage kid has decided they're nonbinary and this is Strange and Scary,

that this same Force of Evil is now pretty much going after YOUR FAMILY, and is out to not only throw them back not into the gutter but the SEWER, oh, and they pretty much run ALL of modern society...

...well, people can be convinced to do some very, very horrible things

And *THAT*, in a word, is what people are literally dealing with when they are dealing with Christian Nationalism.

And it should be kept in mind that there's been, to date, a good 2 or 3 generations of people who have been raised in this,

and a HUGE push to really isolate their members as well from anything other than the cult-think (usually by claiming any news sources outside the cult are run by THEM and thus will rob them of Superhero-hood)

And the combo of the self-isolation,

the being pumped up that they are superheroes, that their whole JOB in life is to be superheroes, that they could turn this whole world into a paradise (what a wonderful would such would be) if they could only get rid of *those not like them*...


That's actually one *hell* of a drug, and that's actually WHY you can't really get into debate with Christian Nationalists on things (and that's before you get into pretty much "thought terminating cliches", aka memes that are designed to PRESS an emotional button,

usually either the "two minute hate" button or the "We are your sole source of security" one...and sweet gods, there are a lot of these nasty little "catchphrases pre-imprinted with specific meanings in the cult" in these groups).

Most people who are proposing a "national divorce", or thinking that Christian Nationalists would be stopped even by mere laws like the Constitution and especially the Reconstruction Amendments, are assuming that these groups are operating logically.

They are not.

They are flying by their limbic systems, and this is actually by design (and if you want to know the mechanics of it psychologically there's a lot of good writing, Margarat Thaler Singer, Robert J. Lifton for starters, the BITE Model is the short version of this)

And cults also have another nasty aspect.

As I noted, a WHOLE lot of what they do after they target vulnerable people is pump them up to the idea that they are Superheroes IRL, and that...well...they should do what Superheroes IRL would do

And as far as the cult is concerned, this means things like "finding other people who were lost at sea and have the potential for Superhero-hood and throw THEM the poison lifeboat"...and also "Find where the Legion of Doom exists, wherever it is, and destroy it"

And yes, this explicitly includes even "in their own families". (I know so many stories of LGBTQIA kids who basically became "throwaways" or "runaways for their own protection" from Christian Nationalist parents it is *not funny*.)

And this is not restricted to one country--cults really do almost universally believe they need to achieve (at least) world domination. (And again, the fact Christian Nationalists have been active in practically every Commonwealth country, most of sub-Saharan Africa,

and Russia--partnering with Putinists--should be a clue.)

And this is why I point out that any concept of "national divorce" or the idea that Clarence Thomas would just "not touch Loving" is the equivalent of the Maginot Line, and likely to be just as effective


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More from @dogemperor

Jul 5
Apparently there are folks having luck successfully reporting Christian Nationalist churches for illegal electioneering and this is a TikTok challenge I STRONGLY encourage. And in fact, I'll share how (and @OhsakaRin if you wanna share back with the TikTok kids :D)

So this is literally something I have done before in past, so I'll go ahead and give y'all some info on how to do this. (And almost certainly, you'll have a particular church or group or Christian Nationalist "educational group" you can target this way)

So. First off, you will want to get documentary evidence of stuff like handing out copies of partisan voter guides telling you to vote for Republicans, or a preacher stumping for a particular political party or candidate (and often this is easier than you think)

Read 21 tweets
Jul 5
This is actually a pretty important thread (that ties onto my own thread yesterday on "how people get recruited into literal cults")--anti-mainline-medicine stuff in general is an increasingly big way people get recruited into Christian Nationalism

My own thread:

And as a prep in addition to this thread, here's a link to the thread I did yesterday on how people do get recruited into cults and what goes on upstairs when people get pulled in:…

So part of what we'll discuss today is cross-recruitment

So, one of the things that has received relatively little info from even exit counselors until relatively recently is that...there are coercive groups that have overlapping systems of management, or overlapping theologies, or something else overlapping,

Read 57 tweets
Jul 1
Oh god the way this Lovely Techdouche is literally fractally wrong about this whole concept, let me count the ways:

1) Firstly: Unless you are in Japan or in areas which HAVE a large concentration of techbros, QR codes for menus are FAR from universal

(Like, literally in my little corner of the world that cannot decide whether it wants to be in the Southeast or Midwest...I've literally *never* seen QR codes as a menu substitute. Not during the Plague Times or afterwards.)

(And yes, I've seen them in a *very* few places, but it's places like "airport restaurants in an area with a well established tech community", not "area with less tech jobs than Minneapolis, Minnesota, where there are parts of the state even phone Internet isn't a thing".)

Read 17 tweets
Jul 1
Today is your gentle reminder that Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A, AmWay/Quixtar/etc, In-N-Out, Sweet Frog, and Forever 21 are *literally* corporate sponsors of the exact Christian Nationalism ripping out the underpinnings of the Republic

(And yes, quite serious on that.)

I literally wrote about at least some of these companies 15 years ago (before it came out Hobby Lobby was literally buying stolen antiquities, both from Da'esh held Syria and Iraq *and* from a thief who stole from the Oxford Museum):…

Forever 21 is owned by members of a NAR-linked coercive religious group that has used the chain as funding for its cult (and Juicy Couture is owned by the same firm):………

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Jun 28
@Teri_Kanefield This is a point I would like to gently remind you that "active measures"--including the "they didn't do enough!" stuff to split progressives off--is a Known Thing, and not just by foreign hostile actors…

@Teri_Kanefield One of the explicit things suggested in Aleksandr Dugin's "Foundations of Geopolitics" (used by Putinists as a guide as well as the far right in our own country, and written by a Bolshevik-turned-religiofascist) even discuss on how to wreck the US this way,

@Teri_Kanefield by weaponizing both the far-left AND far-right.

It should be noted that Christian Nationalists have had a *long* relationship with Putinists (really, since around the time just before Putin got in office, and ramping up exponentially around 2011-2012), and

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Jun 27
Before people go in full conspiracy theory mode:

A lot of the problem is that you still have a LOT of train crossings in the US, especially in rural areas, that are functionally unguarded train crossings (and trains take a good mile to *stop*, they are Large and Heavy)

Amtrak also typically goes on freight rail lines outside of the Northwest or CA/OR/WA corridors (this was #4 Southwest Chief, which goes along primarily BNSF routes in CA and was former Super Chief pre-Amtrak), so complaints should go to BNSF for not having guarded crossings

(Also as a related aside:

a) Do not try to defeat the crossing arms at a guarded crossing, they are there for a Reason
b) Be careful as hell if you're at an unguarded crossing (one with only a sign, or which only has lights).

Read 4 tweets

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