Overview for Clergy

Michael D. Langone, PhD

Clergy should recognize that joining cults is often related much more to psychological and social influence factors than to an evaluation of a group's theology. They can help families concerned about a loved one or people who have left cultic groups by listening sympathetically and referring them to cult specialists. Clergy can also be helpful in the recovery process of those ex-members who need to re-orient themselves spiritually.

Cults vary tremendously. 
  • Different people respond differently to the same group. 
  • Controversial cults tend to be characterized by control-oriented leadership that places high demands on members, expects compliance, discourages questioning, isolates members from those who might threaten the leader's control, and offers the carrot of a pseudo-elitism to compensate for the members' submission to leadership. 
  • Former members are often "gun-shy" about churches or any organization. 
  • Clergy need to be patient with ex-members' suspicions and fears and offer a safe haven that the ex-member can use when and if he/she wants. 
  • Families who seek help about a child in a cult may have good reason to be concerned and should not be dismissed as "overprotective" parents. 
  • Clergy should encourage families and ex-members to take advantage of specialized resources, such as those ICSA provides. 
Although our capacity to give individualized responses to inquiries is limited, we do what we can and, when appropriate and feasible, refer inquirers to people who may be able to give additional assistance. The ICSA network includes experienced helping professionals, some of whom run support groups.

If this service interests you, contact us.

Resources for Clergy
Priority resources bolded.

Videos (ICSA YouTube Channel)

Are “Sound” Theology and Cultism Mutually Exclusive? Michael D. Langone, Ph. D. Cult Observer, 11(9 & 10), 1994.

Aspects of Concern Regarding Legion of Christ Mind Control Reflected in Its Rules, Norms, and Ex-Member Testimonies. J. Paul Lennon. ICSA E-Newsletter, 5(2), 2006

Back From the Brink: An Abusive Church Movement Recovers Its Balance. Lawrence A. Pile.

“By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them”: How Good and Bad Works Can Deceive – the Case of the Legion of Christ – Michael Langone. ICSA Today, 3(3), 2012, 2-5.

Characteristics of Cultic Groups. Michael Langone.

Charismatic Covenant Community. Adrian Reimers. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(1), 1986, 28-42.

Checks on Power and Authority in the New Testament. Dr. Harold Bussell. ICSA E-Newsletter, 3(2), 2004.

Child Fatalities from Religion-Motivated Neglect. Seth M. Asser, M.D. & Rita Swan, Ph.D. Cultic Studies Journal, 17, 2000, 1-14.

Choosing a Church. Lawrence Pile

Cold Reading: The Tricks of the Psychics. William Goldberg, MSW, BCD

Creating the Illusion of Mind Reading in a Self-Transformation Training. Robert C. Fellows, MTS. Cultic Studies Journal, 4(2)/5(1), 1987/88, 44-58.

Cult Formation. Robert Jay Lifton, M.D. Cultic Studies Journal, 8(1), 1991, 1-6.

Cults: What Clergy Should Know. Rev. Richard L. Dowhower.

How Can Young People Protect Themselves Against Cults? Michael D. Langone, PhD.

How to Talk to People Who are Trying to Save You. Ross Miller. Cultic Studies Journal, 2(2), 1986, Page 296-297.

Influence. Robert Cialdini.

Inner Experience and Conversion. Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. Cultic Studies Review 2(2), 2003, 169-176.

Moments of Grace. Nancy Miquelon. Cultic Studies Journal, 15(2), 1998, 109-119.

More Than the Devil's Due. Adrian J. Reimers, PhD. Cultic Studies Journal, 11(1), 1994, 77-87.

My Experience in YWAM: A Personal Account and Critique of Cultic Manipulation. Laurie Jacobson. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(2), 1986, 204-233.

On Breaking the Code of Silence. Kristen Skedgell DeVoe. ICSA Today, 4(2), 2013, 6-7.

On Using the Term "Cult." Herbert L. Rosedale, Esq. and Michael D. Langone, PhD.

Points for Pastors: How to Best Help the Former Cult Member. Diana Pletts.

Prevalence. Michael Langone

Psychological Abuse: Theoretical and Measurement Issues. Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

Religion vs. Cult. Rev. Richard Dowhower.

Religious Conflict Resolution (Power Point). Michael Langone Ph.D.

Sifting the Wheat from the Tares: 20 Signs of Trouble in a New Religious Group. Peter Vere. ICSA E-Newsletter, 4(2), 2005.

Six Conditions for Thought Reform. Margaret T. Singer Ph.D.

Social Influences on Youth. Dean Borgman.

Ten Steps to Critical Thinking. Robert Fellows. From Easily Fooled, copyright © 2000 by Robert Fellows.

The Definitional Ambiguity of "Cult" and ICSA's Mission. Michael D. Langone.

The Ethics of Evangelism and Cult Recruitment. By Elmer Thiessen. ICSA Today, 4(3), 2013.

The Results of the International Cultic Studies Association’s 2008 Questionnaire for Former Cult Members. The Reverend Richard L. Dowhower, DD. ICSA Today, 4(1), 2013.

The Vatican Report. Sects or New Religious Movements: A Pastoral Challenge. Cultic Studies Journal,3(1) , 1986, 93-110.

Vulnerable Characteristics. Robert Fellows, MTS. From Easily Fooled. Copyright Robert Fellows.

When You’re Asked About Cults. Robert Fellows, MTS. From Easily Fooled. Copyright Robert Fellows.

Why We Need To Become Spiritual Consumers. Rosanne Henry, M.A.; Sharon Colvin.