Order of St Charbel:
Little Pebble's followers will find it hard to leave religious cult
South Coast Register
November 16, 2014
MEMBERS of The Little Pebble’s Order of Saint Charbel and those still living at the Tapitallee compound should not be thought of as unintelligent or gullible, according to the president of a volunteer-based cult support group.
Local woman Ros Hodgkins, and other concerned parents whose children had become involved in cult groups, began the not-for-profit Cult Information and Family Support, or CIFS, in 1996.
A steady process of indoctrination follows, which stems from an authoritarian leader
“When they [Little Pebble followers] joined they saw a group of people with similar interests,” she said.
Ms Hodgkins has read much of William Kamm’s writings and prophecies.
“The people are lovely people who have gone into it genuinely thinking they are doing the right thing,” she said.
She said it could be difficult for some people who may have been there 20 or 30 years to leave.
“They might not have the financial support to leave; they have put everything into this community,” she said.
“I think some people would be so bewildered they will think, ‘How can I survive in outside world?’
“But no matter how long they’ve been in, it is still possible to be able to move on and find freedom.
“Hopefully there will be more education and help within government to realise the need for people to be protected when there are those taking people in through the use of dangerous psychological techniques to keep them there, without the leaders having accountability.”
She said it was likely William Kamm still had devoted believers who would believe he had been falsely accused.
“Those sorts of things are inculcated in their minds continually,” she said.
It could take almost as many years to recover after leaving a cult as spent inside, but Ms Hodgkins said, “there are many people who have left and found a great deal of wonderful things to live for and believe in without coming under the power of an authoritarian figure who dictates”.
Ms Hodgkins’ own daughter became involved in a religious cult as a 20-year-old after she left home in the Shoalhaven to further her career.
CIFS has grown to offer a phone answering service, a website and email to offer support to families and their loved ones who have left cults.
People are not looking to join cults, Ms Hodgkins said, and most would baulk at the beliefs and actions if they knew ahead of time what they would end up being a part of.
“They join a group of friendly people, who might have similar values,” she said.
A steady process of indoctrination follows, which stems from an authoritarian leader – usually purported to be God or his messenger or prophet on earth.
Members are asked to give up possessions and money, told to cut contact with those who don’t have the “truth”.
“You add to that behavioural control such as where they must live, how they look, even the clothes they wear,” Ms Hodgkins said.
“That is very strong; to make people feel they are now part of this community and all are going in same direction.”
Information control is vital – cult members will only be allowed to read or see the group’s propaganda.
This leads to thought control – a constant barrage of information about how to behave and what to believe.
“If a person has any doubts, they are taught to bring those under control,” Ms Hodgkins said.
“And that influences your emotional wellbeing. Your emotions become shut down in many areas. Often you have to go around looking happy all the time, because it’s a sign you’re doing well and God’s blessing you.”
Ms Hodgkins said research had shown that all types of people are recruited and it has nothing to do with intelligence or gullibility.
“Everyone is vulnerable at some time and has a need in their life,” she said.
“Society tends to believe that people who become involved are gullible and unintelligent. But they are usually highly intelligent.
“Often they are altruistic; they tend to give up themselves for the good of the cause.”
CIFS can be contacted through its website, www.cifs.org.au
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