I found this unsettling (from the Rolling Stone article linked in the Hagee thread):
“In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!” Fortenberry continued.
The subject brachiated off of John Hagee and how he’s a Christian Zionist spokesman, and what kind of movement that is. Someone linked to an article from Rolling Stone about an undercover Encounter participation, and the author described it as brainwashing. I don’t recall if he used that word, but he made it very obvious that’s what he meant. Well, there’s coercive persuasion, and there’s consensual persuasion, and it’s hard to tell which is which when you aren’t quite sure what you’re going to be told beforehand, but it reminded me of the trends in the Pentecostal church I used to be with.
The elements that reminded me of the old church were:
– drama and showmanship from leaders
– Encounters, which I never went on but which were pushed eagerly on us all. When people returned from one they paraded in during the middle of the service and we all stopped and applauded them.
– pressure to be on board with changes before knowing just how sweeping they would be or why
– intense deliverance sessions in which first bad traits and past crimes and addictions were targeted and then ordinary traits and things like intellectualism or logic, and there was no room at all for disagreement. If the “team” said you must get rid of a trait or attitude it was not possible to say you didn’t want to without making it sound like you were for all the other things they wanted to cast out. So if you said you really didn’t want to give up being a logical thinker it would be taken as refusing to give up, say, depression and dirty thoughts or whatever. Once you started a session you were going through it, the end.
Is this brainwashing? I didn’t seem to be brainwashed; I retained many dissenting ideas and feelings all along. But after each step in the process, I was a touch more fearful, a little more emotional, slightly less secure in my assurance that my innate personality type and skills balance is good and God-given, and just a smidgen more ready to accept scary personal testimonies as possibly true and to think in a just-in-case-it-is-true-be-careful fashion rather than a can’t-be-afraid-all-the-time fashion. So was I brainwashed or wasn’t I? Are people in these kinds of movements thinking independently or are they mentally under someone else’s control? Is that kind of non-analytical thinking free and independent? What if the person in question knew that the group believed in emotion-based decision-making and chose to develop that style of thought knowing just what it would be like? After all the right brain is thinking, too. It just can’t use words to explain itself as well. The logical hemisphere has all the words. So, what does it mean to think freely? What does it mean to be brainwashed?