Teacher Lesson Plan

Authored By: James J. LeBar


James J. LeBar

The following plan is designed to be used in four sessions. Much of the material listed here is a summary form. More complete information can be found by consulting the subject within the text.

This program was used for several years in the Archdioceses of Philadelphia and New York, especially in the Catholic Schools.

OBJECTIVE: To inform junior and senior high students about pseudo-religious destructive cults, their origins, their ideologies, their methodologies, their activities, and their ultimate aims.



The American institutions of family, church, school, and government the traditional pillars of authority and stability have been gradually undermined for 18 years beginning with the assassination of President John Kennedy. What cultural circumstances must be analyzed and understood? How did cults begin during this period? What description of cults must be made?

"According to their own reports many participants joined these religious cults during periods of depression and confusion when they had a sense that life was meaningless."

Dr. Margret Singer



During the 1963-1981 period the more developed and well known cults were establishing their roots among idealistic, young, searching Americans.

What are the names of these groups? What are some of their beliefs? Where are these groups located? Who are their leaders?

"I will state that coercive persuasion and thought reform techniques are effectively practiced on naive, uninformed subjects with disastrous health consequences."

Dr. John Clark
Harvard Medical School



The cults employ a heavy emotional process called "love-bombing" to lure idealistic but many times naive and unsuspecting young people into their web. Once recruited, the cults apply on the recruits, a systematic technology of mind control and behavior modification that is subtly deceptive.

What is "love-bombing"? What is meant by "mind control and behavior modification"? How are these processes employed by the cults? What is deprogramming?

"As necessary as ideals and aims are, utopian ‘magic formulas’
will not get us anywhere, since they are usually accompanied by
totalitarian power or the destructive use of violence."

Pope John Paul II
Address to German Youth,
November, 1980



The cults engage the indoctrinated and mind-controlled members in a host of fund-raising and recruiting activities that keep them "on-the-move," tired, confused, non-thinking and "always busy."

What about the psychological violence of "guilt, fear, and the power of satan" the cult imposes on the members? How do the cults use philosophical dualism, i.e. good vs. evil to their benefit?


1. The four pillars of American life, the family, the Church, the school, and the government have seen their integrity and their authority undermined gradually during the period between 1963-1981.

2. More than a president was lost on November 22, 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Respect for human life and a sense of the sacred were also attacked in Dallas. Security in leadership, permanency and stability in authority were brutally stripped away from the American psyche in a few brief moments.

3. Subsequent political assassinations such as Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the attempts on former Presidents Ford and Reagan continue to give the impression that democracy and constitutionality may not even survive, let alone govern us.

4. The Vietnam conflict and its attendant protest marches redefined authority and patriotism in all their spiritual and moral nuances as well as splitting the American soul in half.

5. The credibility of the presidency itself was undermined by Vietnam, the bombings in Cambodia, and the culmination of lost presidential authority and integrity in Watergate.

6. Our major cities exploded literally in fireballs and riotous looting because minority groups and the poor felt disenfranchised and leaderless. Detroit, Watts, Harlem, and North Philadelphia were aflame in frustration and leaderless anarchy.

7. The high priest of LSD, Timothy Leary, and company spread the message of chemically induced hallucination as the way to inner awareness. The Beatles legitimatized this inward movement by providing the musical "theology" of peace, love, and brotherhood garnered largely from Eastern Mysticism and peppered with pot. But the flower children did not see the contradiction between supposed self-discovery and blown away rectitude.

8. The perceived impersonalism of American higher education and our computerized technology turned many young people inward to drugs, meditation, yoga, and individual gurus.

9. Counter-cultures and sub-cultures were gradually eroding the sense of belonging to family, church, school, and government. Hippies, yippies, and new communes "new parents" and "new families" were displacing traditional authority figures and established communities.

10. American youth entered the 1970s disillusioned and deceived. The full-blossoming of the flower children generation would be seen in the free-to-be-me movements of the 1970s with their accepted but not critiqued motto, "Do your own thing."

11. Jim Jones in the Peoples' Temple, Mr.Moon in the Unification Pseudo-Church, Charles Dederich in Synanon, Swamit Probhupada in Hare Krishna. Guru Maharaj Ji in Divine Light Mission, L. Ron Hubbard in Scientology, David Moses Berg in Children of God, Victor Paul Wierwille in The Way International, Elizabeth Clare Prophet in The "Church" Universal and Triumphant, Stewart Traill in The "Church" of Bible Understanding (Lamb House), are the more pominent cult leaders who have stepped into the spiritual and moral vacuum of the last 18 years.

12. Characteristics of a Cult

a) the presence of a living, charismatic leader, usually a male but not always, who controls the movement;

b) the demand of absolute loyalty and obedience, with no allowance for dissent or direct input from the followers regarding philosophy or ideology;

c) the severing of family ties with one's natural parents, siblings, relatives and friends (this varies in degree and intensity among the many cults, keep in mind that psychological alienation is every bit as insidious as physical alienation);

d) the selling of merchandise and/or courses as a means of fund-raising; the leadership elite benefits the most from the raised monies, most especially the cult founder;

e) the carefree control of the total environment, i.e. the eating, sleeping, thinking, informational flow, and the activities of all recruits and members are systematically coordinated;

f) cult societies are undemocratic and absolutist, many are even fascist;

g) cults practice fraud and deception both in their recruiting and fund-raising activities;

h) the `new truths' of the cults must not be questioned but blindly accepted, meditated upon or studied, and mediated only by trained leaders and directors.

"When the irreverant intellectual has done his work, the
best lack of all conviction, while the worst are full of
passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand.
Surely the Second Coming is at hand."

William Butler Yeats — "The Second Coming"


1. The combination of technology, secular humanistic sociology and psychology, and moral relativism all conspired to debunk traditional spirituality, morality, especially religious experience, and traditional theologies right across denominational lines.

2. A whole generation of young people has grown up and may still be rowing up without a biblical, dogmatic and historical sense of the transcendent, of mystery, and the sacred.

3. And a whole generation of young people has grown up and is still rowing up with the onslaught of pseudo-religions which purport to offer the stability and permanence that the four pillars of family, church, school and government may have temporarily lost.

4. CULTS and the DIETY of CHRIST

a) Ananda Marga Yoga—Leader: Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. "Be constantly absorbed in the thought of god and you too will become God." (Baba's Grace -- Discourse of Anadamurti.)  Ananda Marga means "Path of Bliss."

b) Baha'i—an independent world religion based on a "unique revelation of God" traces its roots to a 9th-century division within Islam. God called by different names, is one but unknowable. Christ was a "manifestation" of God and a way to God.

c) Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship—Leader Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. "God is a secret and a mystery, but man is also a mystery. Only God can see God. So if man is to see God he must become God. Man becomes God and God becomes man. It is no big deal" (Bawa).

d) Children of God—Leader: David Moses Berg. Started as a fundamentalist counterculture ministry but degenerated into belief in the occult, reincarnation, and sexual permissiveness. The COG believes that Berg is the only end-time prophet; that it is the remnant church of the last days; that its authority is absolute; and in the use of blasphemy, profanity, prostitution, vulgarity, and pornography.

e) Church of the Living Word—Leader: John Robert Stevens. (Also called The Walk) "Jesus Christ came to participate in humanity and make the bridge of communication so that God could communicate himself into our very beings. What he is, we become." According to Stevens, this begins with contemporary revelations which make them the Living Word (Christ) to the world. Although some acknowledgment is made of the inspiration and authority of Scripture, in practice, the source of teaching is current revelation, not the Bible. Stevens considers himself God's chief intercessor.

f) Church Universal and Triumphant—Leader: Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Also called Summit Lighthouse or Summit International. The Church is a mixture of eastern religions, theosophy, Christianity and many other elements of thought. Elizabeth is recognized as one of the two witnesses in Revelation II. Her late husband and the founder, Mark, is considered the other. Jesus is considered as a man that had the Christ Consciousness within Him. He was one of many who achieved the "God self" witness.

g) Divine Light Mission—Leader: Guru Maharaj Ji is the living perfect master. Jesus was the Perfect Master of his time but Ji has replaced him.Ji claims the world needs the knowledge of Reality, and he claims to be the source of that knowledge and of peace in the world.

h) Eckankar—Leader: Sri Darwin Gross—Eckankar says it is the wellspring and essence of all religions, philosophies, realization via the "ancient science of soul travel." Eckankar makes the biblical God into a demon who as Creator is responsible for the evil in the world and declines Christ as "god as all men are god."

i) Hare Krishna—Founder: Chaitanya Mahaprabru. Also called International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). To the Krishnaite, the world is not real, it's illusion. Salvation comes by chanting the name of their God, Hare Krishna, at least 1780 times daily.They consider Jesus only as a guru.

j) Inner Peace Movement—Leader: Rev. Francisco Coll, D.D. A form of Spiritualism and spiritism, combining ESP astro-projection, psychic phenomena, etc. They introduce seven levels of consiousness. Christ consciousness is the highest. Jesus had reached Christ consciousness while on earth. Jesus was a man. They separate Jesus and Christ.God is impersonal and spoken of as the All, The Cosmos, the Universal.

k) Rosicrucianism—Jesus was a reincarnated man, the highest luminary possible. The Christ spirit in Him was a manifestation of the cosmic Christ.

l) Scientology—Founder: L. Ron Hubbard claims to have found the spiritual technology to dispense the one "true way" to man. It is a process working through levels of self-knowledge and knowledge of past lives to awaken the primordial deity within until a person is able to regain total godhead. Christ is a man who achieved a "state of Clear" but not the higher state of "Operating Tretan."

m) The Unification Church—Founder/Leader: Sun Myung Moon, says that God has dual qualities—spirit and energy. God is a personal being with consciousness, intelligence, love and purpose. Salvation can come only through a Messiah who achieves perfection, marries and has perfect offspring. Christ, Moon says, was to do this, but he failed because he died before he could marry. Because he was resurrected, Moon says, Jesus did redeem man spiritually. The physical redemption of man will happen through a second Messiah who is, of course, by implication the "Reverend" Moon. Moonies are represented by CARP -- Collegiate Association For The Research of Principles (Moon's Divine Principle) on college campuses.

n) T.M.—Transcendental Meditation—Leader: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says that anyone can practice his technique of deep meditation in order to achieve "bliss consciousness of Absolute Being." Incorporated in 1959 in California as a non-profit religious organization called spiritual growth, peace and happiness through a system of deep meditation. The Beatles, Mia Farrow, Shirley MacLaine, and The Rolling Stones helped to spread this movement. By 1976 TM could claim a following of 6,000 teachers and an annual income of $2 million. Beliefs: The purpose of life is happiness sought through an endless cycle of incarnation and reincarnation. Through the liturgy of the mantra, we dive within ourselves to discover the creative intelligence within us, ridding ourselves of indifference and ignorance thus discovering "bliss consciousness."

o) The Forum—formerly EST—Erhard Seminar Training—Founder: Werner Erhard (born Jack Rosenberg) a former automobile salesman, a former Scientologist with extensive occult involvement, studied and involved in Mind Dynamics, Zen Buddhism, hypnosis, Subud, Yoga, Silva Mind Control, psychobernetics, Gestalt, encounter therapy and transpersonal psychology.EST is the fruit of his "conversion" experience and personal research into these disciplines, EST training is designed to change a person's epistemology i.e. their way of relating to reality, radically and permanently.People are "voluntarily" conditioned to the point of "epistemological vulnerability" and then the EST philosophy is conveniently provided as "the answer" and "the truth" about life and how to live it.

EST is a subjective experience and people can "get" different things from it. "Getting it" is the term used by estians to describe what they learned from the seminar training.According to Erhard, my Self equals your Self equals the same Self. All is One. "Self is all there is. I mean that's it." "As you can see, this universe is perfect. Don't lie about it.You're god is your universe. You caused it. You pretended not to cause it so that you could play in it" (Erhard). About 20% EST graduates are in the field of education. Erhard pays special attention to clergy; they receive special discount rates on "scholarships" to attend his seminar training.

p) LIFESPRING -- founded by John Hanley, like EST, a genre of the human potential movement. Attempts to focus on what the "individual" needs to function, communicate, and make choices in a more personal way. Like EST, Lifespring prescinds from spiritual and moral viewpoints (objectivity) and results in subjectivism, a form of secular humanism. The Catholic Christian viewpoint of "humanity redeemed in the blood of Jesus Christ" is not the starting point, the focus, or the end point of Lifespring.Such groups go counter to message, community, worship and service in the Roman Catholic understanding.

q) Church of Bible Understanding (COBU), or "Lamb House," like the Way International, a bible cult. Founded by Stewart Traill as the Forever Family. Traill offers his color-coded interpretation of the Bible and sets himself up as the ultimate authority for "doctrine" and discipline.

"Stress if strong enough can, produce a marked increase in hysterical suggestibility so that the individual becomes susceptible to influences in his environment to which he was formerly immune. It can happen to anybody."

Konrad Lorenz

"On Aggression"


Mind control is a strategy used by cult leaders for their own expansion of influence and control.
First, the person is conditioned or softened up.
Second, the person is persuaded or indoctrinated into new beliefs. The cult leaders have three objectives in mind:
First, to win converts;
Second, to secure teaching disciples;
Third, to make money.

The factors used to "educate and condition" a person are:
First, Isolation;
Second, Hunger;
Third, Fatigue;
Fourth, Tenseness;
Fifth, a Fear-Love Relationship;
Sixth, Repetition;
Seventh, Threats you do not even realize are threats;
Eighth, Lack of privacy, both physical and mental.

Depending on which pseudo-religious cult you are talking about, these factors are used more or less in producing mind control. Brainwashing is the name of the game. And by brainwashing, we mean simply thought reform—reform to what the leader wants you to think.

During the time when the person is being indoctrinated, he does the following things.

1. He studies diligently.
2. He listens hour after hour with no questions allowed.
3. He self-examines himself and what he stands for.
4. He becomes self-critical.
5. Then he re-examines himself.
6. He now comes across new thought conclusions.
7. He learns by doing.
8. There is no reality testing with anyone outside the group. His questions are only answered within the group.
9. The most important and last phase is impressing the person with the infallibility of the cult leader. The cult leader has had God revealing great things to him, or God has come in visions to him—and the cult leader has had things revealed to him from God like no other person ever known.

After awhile of being with cult members, teachers, leaders, etc. the person will gradually be won from the ability to make a decision and will be an integral part of the group and cannot function alone. When this finally happens the mind control is complete. The person will obey faithfully all God has revealed to the cult leader. The cult leaders use certain phrases over and over and they are woven into speeches, materials, teachings, and conversation and everyday living so that the member repeats them audibly to himself or others day after day. This reinforces the mind control.

The person finally cannot think except as far as the group thinks. And the terrible thing -- the person does not even know his mind is controlled. He thinks he has a free will to believe what he wants, while in fact he thinks only as far as the teachers and leaders of the group suggest. A person does not know that he is brainwashed! One cannot feel brainwashing! Just as one cannot smell carbon-monoxide.


1. Almost all of the cults, especially the bible cults (COBU, The Way International, "The Walk") and the Moonies play heavily on the philosophical dualism of good versus evil, light versus darkness and their kingdom versus Satan's kingdom and the impending doom of Armageddon. These groups are shot through with apocalypticism.

2. All people, including family and friends, not belonging to the cult are evil, of Satan. That is why you and I must overcome, why we can be lied to, we are of Satan. ("Heavenly deception.")

3. When philosophical dualism is coupled with emotional apprehension, fear, and guilt, the combination can explode with the ferocity of mass destruction such as that of Jonestown.

4. In the closed controlled environment of the cult and the cult-like world the potential for self-destruction, i.e. suicide or psychosis and destructive behavior is intensified by fear, guilt, and peer-pressure with the catalyst being the "new truth." The real and the imagined spiritual warfare between good and evil of the new truth becomes played-out like Jones' Peoples' Temple.

5. Catholic educators must point out that these groups: cults, cult-like experiences, and pseudo-evangelical groups all employ:

a. Abuse of Authority - They replace old authority with new authority. The come-on may be "a hope of glory" in the coming world promised by this "new prophet" or "Messiah." Or the come-on may be the promised "power" or "money" that will follow from the new truth.

b. Abuse of Intimacy - The "new parents" and the "new family" must coordinate a member's every move even to eating, sleeping, and bathroom privileges.

c. Abuse of Time - Lack of sleep, deprivation of privacy, diet modification, and ideological indoctrination all conspire under systematic application and emotional "highs" and "lows" to produce confused, tired, passive, obedient and committed sheep.

d. Abuse of Discipline -Whether the abuse is physical or psychological the end result of the victim is equally devastating. Robotized automatons on the streets, in bars, in airports, bus terminals, offices, and local neighborhoods are pathetic in hawking their "wares" and their "gospels according to. . . . ."

e. Abuse of Money - Suffice it to say that all collected monies are turned over to the cult-leaders and their "elite" leadership.


1. That every educator read Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman's book on sudden personality change, a book titled, Snapping, as well as Robert J.Lifton's book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, especially chapter 22 is a must. All educators should have a bibliography for themselves and their students and direct them to reading and research projects.

2. That all teachers seriously study the sociology, theology, spiritual and mental health, legal, and political dimensions of cult groups and include their information wherever possible in the courses they teach.

3. That school assemblies, church youth groups, PTA meetings and home and school associations all receive information about cults and hear from former cult members and their families.

4. That interdenominational and interdisciplinary study groups and task forces be set up and mobilized since the cult threat cuts across denominational and ethnic lines.

5. That religious communities must study the reasons why growing numbers of their members are drifting towards human potential groups such as EST and Lifespring.

6. That a thorough re-studying of our Catholic biblical roots and dogmatic developments be undertaken by all educators. The danger of large numbers of Catholic youth possessing an abiblical, adogmatic, and ahistorical sense of their specific Roman Catholic identity can be the fertile soil for later cult enticements.

7. That any Catholic educators who are substituting the teachings of Christ and His Church with new found "truths" have the decency and honesty to move out of formal Catholic education positions.

8. That the doctrinal writings of Pope John Paul II, especially Redemptor Hominis become an integral part of our personal spirituality as well as our preaching and teaching. These writings represent a brilliant compendium and synthesis of our Catholic Doctrine.

9. That all parish ministry team members pastorally address through preaching and teaching programs the serious personal and family tensions, ambiguities, and frustrations of many of our people young and old. The need to affirm our people lovingly and remind them of our fundamentally optimistic Catholic theology of God's grace and mankind's response-in-faith will give them a sense of belonging to us and to one another.


1. Travel in small groups at all times (i.e. 3 or 4 not 1 or 2). A teenager walking or traveling alone is a very "vulnerable" target for a cult recruiter.

2. Be aware that cult recruiters will be present in large numbers during Senior Week, (also throughout the summer).

3. If approached, do not under any circumstances give out the address or phone number of where you are staying, or the number of kids at your place.

4. Do not engage in prolonged discussions. If alone, no conversations at all should take place. Your beliefs and allegiances will be assaulted.

5. Do not accept any party or dinner invitations whatsoever from cult recruiters. Boys should be aware of girl recruiters and girls of boy recruiters. (They may look like nice clean smiling "Happy" faces; in fact, they are under mind control and severe pressure "to get" warm bodies.)

6. If excessively bothered by recruiters or fund raisers on the streets, in bus terminals, on the boardwalk, or at your place, do not hesitate to call the police. (Your privacy is being invaded. Tell them to "bug off" or you will call the police.)

7. Lonely, confused, upset kids are the easiest but not the only "victims" of trained cult recruiters. Stay together and protect one another, not just your friends and classmates, but any and all kids you see being "manipulated."

Taken from Cults, Sects, and the New Age, by Rev. James J. LeBar

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