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  • © 2013 by Pearson Higher Education, IncUpper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458 • All Rights ReservedCrisis InterventionWilliam HarmeningRoosevelt UniversityHarmening, Crisis Intervention: The Criminal Justice Response to Chaos, Mayhem, andDisasterChapter 11THE CULT MIND-SET AND THE DOOMSDAY CRISIS
  • © 2013 by Pearson Higher Education, IncUpper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458 • All Rights Reserved11.111.2To explain the nature and structure of a cult.To list and describe the various cult typologies.11.3 To summarize the profiles of the various types of cult members.CHAPTER OBJECTIVES11.4To describe the dangers posed by cults, and the best practicesfor police intervention.
  • To explain the nature and structure ofa cult.Learning ObjectivesAfter this lecture, you should be able to complete the following Learning Outcomes11.1
  • 11.1 The CultThe Nature and Structure of a CultWhat is a cult? A group of people who abandon theirinvolvement in the dominant culture, and insteadaffiliate as a subcultural group holding a commonbelief system and a separatist worldview.In most cases the cult will demonstrate a persecutionmentality, and hold to the belief that secrecy andisolation are necessary in order to prevent thedominant culture from taking their children, seizing theirassets, and arresting their leaders.
  • To list and describe the various culttypologies.Learning ObjectivesAfter this lecture, you should be able to complete the following Learning Outcomes11.2
  • 11.2 Cult TypologiesTypes of CultsViolent Apocalyptic•Biblical•Quasi-Biblical•SecularCharacteristics of Apocalyptic Cults•Apocalyptic beliefs•Dualism•The persecuted chosen•Imminence•Determinism•Salvation through conflict/ enemy eradicationEX: Aum Shrinrikyo (Shoko Asahara)
  • 11.2 Cult TypologiesTypes of CultsPassive Apocalyptic•Biblical•Quasi-Biblical•SecularCharacteristics of Apocalyptic Cults•Apocalyptic beliefs•Dualism•The persecuted chosen•Imminence•Determinism•Salvation through conflict/ enemy eradicationEX: Heaven’s Gate (Marshall Applewhite)
  • 11.2 Cult TypologiesTypes of CultsSocial Isolationist•Polygamist groups•New Age Groups•Wiccan/ Witchcraft/ Satanic groups•Groups espousing adult-child sexual interaction•Alternative religious groupsMotivated by their desire to live an isolated existencefree of outside influence. They avoid contact withmainstream society to protect their lifestyle and beliefs.EX: The People’s Temple (Jim Jones)
  • 11.2 Cult TypologiesTypes of CultsNew World Order Cults•Cultural•Environmental•Geopolitical•FantasyThese groups wish to re-order society in a particularway that is more consistent with their beliefs. They mayengage in violence to bring about their desiredchange.EX: The Manson Family (Charles Manson)
  • 11.2 Cult TypologiesTypes of CultsCultTypologiesViolentApocalypticPassiveApocalypticNew WorldOrderSocial-IsolationistBiblicalQuasi-BiblicalSecularCulturalEnvironmentalGeopoliticalFantasyPolygamistNew AgeWiccan/ Witchcraft/ SatanicAdult-child sexual interactionsAlternative religious
  • To summarize the profiles of thevarious types of cult membersLearning ObjectivesAfter this lecture, you should be able to complete the following Learning Outcomes11.3
  • 11.3 Cult PersonalitiesStructure of Cult MembershipCultLeaderIdeologueFollowerPragmatistFollowerDisorderedFollowerENFORCER
  • 11.3 Cult PersonalitiesStructure of Cult MembershipCultLeaderIdeologueFollowerPragmatistFollowerDisorderedFollowerENFORCERCult LeaderTypically the person who establishesthe group, recruits initial members,and develops the cult’s ideology.• Charming• Manipulative• Most have juvenile record• Sexually promiscuous• Antisocial/ lack of empathy• Pathological liars
  • 11.3 Cult PersonalitiesStructure of Cult MembershipCultLeaderIdeologueFollowerPragmatistFollowerDisorderedFollowerENFORCERThe EnforcerTrusted by the leader to carry outtheir orders and provide protection.Loyal to the leader, but may notalways believe their ideology.Enforcers increase the power of theLeader. They instill paranoia and anuneasy obedience within the group.• Antisocial personality• usually a history of violence• History of risk-taking behaviors• Lack of education• History of employment
  • 11.3 Cult PersonalitiesStructure of Cult MembershipCultLeaderIdeologueFollowerPragmatistFollowerDisorderedFollowerENFORCERThe Ideologue FollowerJoins the cult because they trulybelieve in the message beingproffered by the group’s leader.May be the first to leave when theleader begins to deviate from theoriginal message.
  • 11.3 Cult PersonalitiesStructure of Cult MembershipENFORCERThe Pragmatist FollowerThese members are attracted to thegroup less by the message andmore by the lifestyle. Typicallypeople who have beendisenfranchised by the dominantsociety or have experienced somemajor problem that left them unableto live on their own and provide fortheir own sustenance.
  • 11.3 Cult PersonalitiesStructure of Cult MembershipENFORCERThe Disordered FollowerThese members tend to beemotionally unstable, and mayeven suffer from any number ofpsychological disorders. They mayhave little interest in the group’sideology, or it may reinforce andstrengthen their own delusionalthought processes.
  • To describe the dangers posed bycults, and the best practices forpolice intervention.Learning ObjectivesAfter this lecture, you should be able to complete the following Learning Outcomes11.4
  • 1911.4 The Cult ThreatWarning SignsThe Canadian Security Intelligence Service Report(1999) lists the following warning signs that a cult maybe preparing for violence against its own members orothers.• Intensification of illegal activities• Humiliating circumstances• Relocation to a rural area• Increasingly violent rhetoric• Struggle for leadership
  • 2011.4 The Cult ThreatWarning SignsWhen a cult leader’s prophecy fails, there is adisconfirmed expectancy in the minds of the cult’smembers (Festinger, 1956). This leads to cognitivedissonance. On one hand they believe in their leader,but on the other they see that the prophecy failed.The danger lies in the leader’s efforts to eliminate thedissonance by blaming the failure on an outsidesource, such as the police, or even certain of theirown members.This tends to actually strengthen the members’ loyaltyto the leader, and may compel them to engage inviolent actions.
  • 2111.4 The Cult ThreatThe Police ResponseThe police must recognize the Constitutional rights ofcult members to assemble and exercise free speech.Their duty is to protect people from harm, includingthe cult members themselves.In gathering intelligence on a cult, the police shouldattempt to ascertain the following:• Type of cult• Guiding doctrines• Trigger event (a major event anticipated by the cult that may trigger violence)• Identity of group’s leadership• Source of group’s funding• The group’s membership• Weapons acquisition• Immediate concerns (allegations of child abuse or neglect, forced detention)
  • 2211.4 The Cult ThreatThe Police ResponseThe police must avoid any action that could unleash aspiral of amplification, or a confirmation of the group’sapocalyptic beliefs that could potentially lead tounnecessary violence on the part of the cultmembers.We witnessed this at the Branch Davidian compoundin Waco, TX in 1993, when the Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, and Firearms executed what was arguablyan unnecessary raid that resulted in the deaths of 4law enforcement officers and nearly 80 members ofthe group, including children.
  • 2311.4 The Cult ThreatThe Police ResponseFollowing the disaster at Waco, federal guidelineswere established by the USDOJ requiring that thefollowing elements be present in any federal lawenforcement response to a cult suspected of illegalactivity:• A well-equipped and highly skilled tactical team• Trained and experienced negotiators• Behavioral science experts• A command structure
  • © 2013 by Pearson Higher Education, IncUpper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458 • All Rights ReservedA cult is a group of people who abandon their involvement inthe dominant culture, and instead affiliate as a subculturalgroup holding a common belief system and a separatistworldview. They typically live communally.Cults come in many forms, but can be classified generally asviolent apocalyptic, passive apocalyptic, new world order, orsocial-isolationist. The type of cult it is provides an idea of itspotential for violence.Most cults are led by a charismatic leader who surroundshimself with enforcers. The cult members have differentmotivations for joining the group. They can be classified asideologue, pragmatist, and disordered followers.The police are constrained in their response to cults by the U.S.Constitution. Their primary mission is to protect people, includingthe cult members, from harm.CHAPTER SUMMARY11.111.211.311.4
  • © 2013 by Pearson Higher Education, IncUpper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458 • All Rights ReservedDISCUSSION QUESTIONS1. Reflect on someone you know who you think might beattracted to affiliate with a cult under the rightcircumstances. What are the characteristics of that person’spersonality that led you to believe this?2. Do some basic internet research on the siege at Waco,Texas, of the Branch Davidian compound in 1993. Discussthe initial police response, and whether you feel it wasappropriate given the information and intelligence that wasavailable to them at the time.3. Discuss the “spiral of amplification,” and some ways inwhich the police response could potentially trigger andintensify this dangerous circumstance.