Steven Hassan is the David Splane of anti-cultists. He is the Great Explainer who works tirelessly in their behalf. He is the originator of the BITE model of “mind control”—Behavioral, Informational, Thought, and Emotional Control! He is the man who, as a youth, was naive enough to join the Moonies—the robe-dressing, flower-hawking Moonies! and now, having quit them, he insists that even the most intelligent people [such as himself] can be misled into a cult.
Of course, there are only so many Moonies in the world. Mr Hassan expands the C-word into ever more frontiers, and one of them is Jehovah’s Witnesses. You would think that it is the only one, to hear JW detractors carry on, but it is but one of an ever-growing stable. I have witnessed JW opponents on social media counseling each other as to the most effective way to conduct themselves, referring back to the BITE model of Hassan as a guide, as though he was a cult leader of himself.
His horizon’s continue to expand. His current book is: “The Cult of Trump—A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind-Control.” A review of it begins with: “Can’t understand why a loved one would vote for Donald Trump? Let the experts who spend their lives studying cults help break it down.” Of course! A vote for Trump is completely inexplicable otherwise! Only cult delusion can account for it. When you think that half the country has fallen victim to cult influence and mind-control, it is strong evidence that you have drunk too much of the Kool-Aid yourself.
So he comes out of the closet. He reveals himself. He is a leftist—nothing more. He is of the victimization society. I’m glad to see it, for it undermines his alleged expertise elsewhere—like with JWs, for example. Up to the point of his new book on Trump, one can begin to suspect that maybe, just maybe, Jehovah’s Witnesses are like a cult. They pay far more attention to their Governing Body than other groups do to their leaders. They certainly take their faith much more seriously than do others, and they deviate from the accepted goals of society in fundamental ways.
Yes, you can just begin to envision it—and then Hassan, who got the ball rolling in the first place, comes along and says half the country is under the spell of a cult leader! Okay. That it says it all. He is just “out there” himself, just upset that his candidate did not win, and that recognition qualifies whatever he has said about Jehovah’s Witnesses or anyone else.
It’s not that the idea of influencing people is ridiculous. It is the over-application of the idea that is. No meaningful outfit does not incorporate some application of “behavioral, informational, thought, and emotional control”—the most striking example is that of the family. Is it really brainwashing that he objects to—or is it just brainwashing that is not his? Read him as he carries on about Trump and realize that the spillover will taint his mission with regard to anything else.
Leaving the sects that were his bread and butter far behind, he tweets:
“We need to have a fundamentally NEW conversation about how we interact with Trump supporters. Online arguing doesn’t work. When we label Trump supporters as “dumb” or “evil”, it only reinforces their own image that they are persecuted and cuts off any chance of them changing.”
“Though I know it’s hard to do when they say such vitriolic things, we need to imagine they are stuck inside a religious cult. How would we try to get them out? At first, we would make sure to avoid argument and really try to CONNECT. This may take a while but is vital.”
“After we’ve established some trust and rapport, we need to be delicate. We don’t rush to talk about Trump (they will still be defensive and unmovable). We need to find a subject that has parallels to their situation but doesn’t feel personal (i.e. Chinese Communist Brainwashing)”
“Using that example, we can highlight examples of behavior control, information control, thought control, and emotional control. Very delicately, we can ask them questions about their beliefs and reflexively listen to the answers without ANY judgment.”
“What if they bring up the economy?” I interjected. It worked for Bill Clinton—“It’s the economy, stupid” instantly trounced all other considerations and won him the election. I follow Mr. Hassan on Twitter. When he returned the follow, I promised that I would take no cheap shots. I find this promise hard to keep these days, since his new horizons strikes me as no less absurd than his old. But I have, more or less, kept it.
Incredibly, he answered me privately, though DM. He recommended that I read his book! Nobody answers privately on Twitter, yet that’s what he did. My only explanation is that he saw my Twitter banner, which suggests that I am a Witness—it’s an advertisement of Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia—and he simply assumed that if he gently gave me opportunity, not publicly where I would not dare respond lest my OVERSEERS take note, but in private, like Jesus pulled aside the deaf man so as not to put him on the spot, that I would gratefully let him take me by the hand so as to escape from the JW cult!
I don’t troll the guy. Everyone has a right to prevail on their own feed. I am not disrespectful when I reply and I don’t do it often. The next time he advised me, this time publicly, to read his book, I responded that I had a book, too. A third party to the thread tweeted that he had no book. “Get off your duff and write one!” I replied with a smiley emoji. “It is apparently the price of admission.”
Hassan stays at it—keeping on the watch:
“Has everyone seen this video of Donald Trump? Senior cabinet members grovel in the exact same way Scientologists do with Miscavage. Does this LOOK like a healthy organization to you? This is not normal. This is cult behavior.”
“He has actually said just the opposite,” I replied, “that his advisors do not have to agree with him and he likes the mix they bring to the table. To be sure, not many of them last too long.”
“He says often what he thinks people want him to say or what he is told to say, but actions are what count!”
“I don’t see it, Steve,” I wrote. “To get a job, you must convey that you are a “team player” Try putting on your resume that your talent lies in challenging or broadening out the boss. Most bosses want a cohesive team that will recognize who leads. Have other presidents not done this also?”
Of course! Trump does bully on his feed, but the Presidency has been called the “bully pulpit,” after all. It is just that he is better at it than others that gets into Steve’s craw. If he bullied on Steve’s side, I can’t imagine him having any problem with it. It’s not mind-control that bothers him. It is the mind-control that is not that from his side. I barely restrain myself from playing devil’s advocate far more than the little bit that I do. There are genuine reasons to dislike Trump, and plenty of people take up those reasons. You cannot really call him a bull in a china shop, because to do so you must accept the premise that government as usual is a china shop. Junkyard dog in a junkyard may work, though. But this additional “mind control” charge strikes me as pure looniness. It’s not my cause anyway, being a Witness, but I do appreciate how the Trump presidency has served to flush out the BITE-man.
“How is it that SO MANY people in this country are STILL under the spell of Donald Trump?” he tweets.
“Though most of us throw our arms up in disgust or confusion, the answer to this question is actually quite simple:”
“Trump, the Republican Party and the right-wing media industrial complex are manipulating the public. They are employing the same techniques advertisers and public relations professionals use but have done so in an even more potent way.”
“They harness fear. They repeat messages over and over again. They disorient with conflicting messages. They wage war on detractors.”
It is not that they don’t do it. It is that everyone else doesn’t do it as well.
“We somehow think that “mind control” and “brainwashing” only exist in Hollywood movies but they are very REAL phenomena and through the relatively new medium of the internet, we are seeing mind control like we’ve never seen in human history.”
“The only remedy is knowledge. We need to educate ourselves so we can educate others. If you want to understand more, let me know,” thus taking for granted his role in disseminating true knowledge.
Still, I want to take his message to heart. There is on the big bad forum where I sometimes hang out an unabashed Trump advocate. Can I help him break free from his cult? Mr. Hassan sets the goal:
“At EVERY point in this process (and I’ve been doing this for 40+ years for people lost in cults) we want to be gentle and caring. Arguing or TELLING them they are wrong will accomplish nothing. We want them to have their OWN “Aha!” moment. We never force it.”
Okay. I will try with this fellow James. Let’s see if I can help him to have his own “AHA!” moment. It won’t be easy because he is a blockhead. But I owe it to him to try.
Hello James. Have I told you lately that I feel love for you, just like Jesus felt love for the rich young ruler? I only want to help you—you must believe me. I do not want to take your trump-trump away. No.
But I have noticed—I say this only because I love and respect you—that whereas you used to be the most fun and pleasant person to be around, lately you have turned into a mean-spirited so-and-so. Do you even realize that the “Arab” you just spit at was actually a Jew?
Have you noted that the President does name calling? Do you think this is very nice? How do you expect other countries to respect this country if it’s leader is not nice? [Have your “Aha!” moment yet? No? Well, let’s continue]
Hitler was not nice, was he? I know that we will agree on that. See, I am trying to build a bridge to you. I am establishing trust and support, and I will be delicate. Stalin was not nice either. And Pol Pot—what a meanie he was! These are facts I am telling you, James. I know that you will recognize that, for you are very smart. Trump is just like them. See? I am attempting a fundamentally new conversation with you, James. Thank you for allowing me to prove my point.
Alright, that’s enough! Am I my brother’s keeper? If he comes around, so be it. I hope he does, but there is only so much one person can do.
If Trump hadn’t been elected President, I would not have had the gift—an entirely unanticipated one—of Steve Hassan the anti-cultist revealing to all that he is just another political leftist.