A false prophet with his own self-serving agenda needs a powerful weapon to control others and bend them to his will. This weapon is the ‘self-fulfilling prophesy’. His self-serving lies rarely come to pass and when they do it is more by chance than by any kind of foreknowledge. But, a fake needs a more convincing track record of prophecy to control his people. With a hit or miss track record of prophesy, how does the myth of prophetic vision develop around a fake? The false prophet manufactures it.
A crowd of uncritical followers is acquired through a ministry which does do some good for others but is really built up to service its leaders. Some of the followers are clients of the ministry – those who are supposedly served but are in reality exploited and the rest come from those who have been duped into believing the fake minister. Sadly, such people are often found among society’s’ most vulnerable. Addicts, their families and people who have suffered trauma are all potential followers. They are desperate to believe in anything and anyone if hope for a better life and relief from their pain is offered.
When a false prophet finds a reliable source of hurting desperate people to exploit, he’s in business. He starts getting people to call him a prophet. If you can get a few people to call you a prophet then you have a claim to the title, even if it is a flimsy claim. At every opportunity the false prophet re-enforces his followers negative beliefs about themselves. This is not a difficult job with addicts and their relatives because of their shame and guilt. A cult of confession is often fostered where people are encouraged to ‘be real’ and to ‘free’ themselves by confessing what they have done and who they really are. Little do these victims know that everything they say and admit will be used to exploit them later.
People caught up in the net of a false prophet are taught to fear; “Phobia indoctrination is the programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group, or even questioning the leadership’s authority. Recruits are manipulated to the extent that they cannot visualize a positive and successful future without being in the group. They are taught that horrific consequences will ensue if they are to leave (i.e., “hell,” “demon possession,” accidents, suicide, and/or insanity, etc.). Often, former cult members are so confused upon leaving that the group’s predictions become a self-fulfilling prophecy. ” (Intro to Cults 101)
A cult of confession doesn’t really free people rather it helps forge the chains of bondage to the group. The false prophet uses the self disclosed information about his followers to ‘prove’ how broken and twisted they are. The hapless follower can only agree as the information that the leader uses came straight from them. Slowly over time the followers begin to believe that their ‘prophet’ is the only one who really sees them for what they are. Their ‘prophet’ is the only one who really ‘understands’ them because he tells them what they are ‘really’ like inside! The next step is to prophesy the obvious – ‘If you leave the group, you will fail and start back into addiction and hurt those you say you love!’
Those hapless victims of this abuse who have enough tattered self-respect to work up the courage to leave are very likely to fall back into addiction because even after having had enough abuse they still believe the ‘negative prophesy’ about themselves; “A self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it is already true.” (Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD) After, weeks of abusive confrontation and breakdown of his self-image the person is psychologically set up for failure. This kind of nasty self-fulfilling prophesy is not therapy but a harmful burden placed upon someone for the sole purpose of punitive control.
The false prophet struts about, praising his own merits and ability to foretell his victim’s future. His unholy group of cheerleaders chant his praises as well. All those who follow him without reserve applause ‘their’ prophet. Any person who leaves and is successful contrary to the prophet’s ‘dooming’ pronouncements is ignored and not spoken about. Only the times when the ‘prophet’ hits the target – which he has set up to be as wide as the side of a barn – and someone relapses or gets into trouble, is his prophetic vision praised. All other instances that would call him into question are ignored!
Quite often, the solid principles of recovery that are taught along with ‘generous’ helpings of abuse are discarded by the person who finally leaves. Remember, some helpful recovery material has to be put forward by the false prophet in order to claim a therapeutic legitimacy. Christian scripture is put forward in a religious setting so God’s Word can be twisted to serve the false shepherd’s needs and provide a ‘cover’ for the abuse. In anger and disgust the person leaving rejects the good he was taught that could keep him safe while falling under the spell of the doom of professied failure. The ‘legitimate’ recovery material and religious setting provides enough of a cover to protect the abuser from outside criticism and seduce a few outsiders to praise what they are allowed to see of the ‘ministry’.
Once all this is in place, the false prophet/shepherd, has a very ‘robust’ organization that can deal with outside criticism by hiding their abusive activities and ignoring those who call their actions into question. “Many alcoholics and addicts fall for these and lesser known groups in desperation when trying to rid themselves of a miserable life of addiction. However, what also we fail to see is that many officially accepted recovery groups can also be cults hiding behind a thin facade of social respectability.” (Cults) Outside scrutiny is handled by successfully pretending to serve altruistic ends on behalf of a vulnerable, stigmatized group that the wider society isn’t all that interested in.
A cult will tend to deny and cover up any abuses by its leadership, and details may only emerge years later . A cult is more or less immune from outside investigation or regulation, because psychological coercion in the form of brainwashing or mind control is almost impossible to prove. This difficulty of proof stems mostly from the subjective, intangible nature of personal belief itself, as discussed earlier, but there are some additional practical obstacles which may face a whistleblower, someone who becomes openly critical of the cult they were once a member of. (from The Culture of Cults)
Who can argue with a group that keeps people off the streets and out of ‘trouble’. The false prophet ‘circles the wagons’ and closes the ranks of his core group. Dissenters are purged from the fellowship in the attempt to portray a solid unity of belief and mission. The false prophet secures his position encircled by his admiring followers and is free to continue his exploitation of others.