While discovery and introduction are almost always free, the newcomer is told that he will experience satisfaction only when he has made a financial or equivalent commitment. At sales meetings for another of the cults I investigated, writing a check was equated with the first step toward changing one’s life, and new members reported feeling results the moment they made this commitment.
For members of the World Mission Society Church Of God, this commitment is expressed in tithing and recruiting. A recruiter does not get credit for the new recruit until the new recruit begins paying tithes. I remember finding this very disturbing when a friend of mine that I invited studied, got baptized, observed the Sabbath, but was not considered “my fruit” until she started tithing. I thought that I had done a good thing by bringing her to see “the truth and be saved”. I hadn’t realized that her salvation was conditional on her donating 10% of her gross income to the WMSCOG.
Once new members have made their initial surrender or contribution to the cult, they are asked to do something that contradicts their judgement. What’s important is that the act goes against the new members’ own internal sense of appropriateness. The members must get used to acting against their own values.
Members usually experience this for the first time when they spend the first holiday away from their family. It doesn’t matter which holiday it is, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, the WMSCOG claims that these are “worldly” and even “pagan” holidays that only nonbelievers celebrate. Although the WMSCOG claims not to celebrate these “worldly” holidays, while I was at the WMSCOG, they would hold “prayer services” during these times which kept members away from their families.
Once an extraordinary measure is taken, the members are rewarded with complicity in the greater pyramid. To get out of the cult after this act of complicity, a member will have to own up to all of the cult’s practices as if they were his/her own.
Members that reject their families in order to demonstrate devotion to the group are rewarded with more “love bombing” and inclusion into the group. As a member, these extraordinary measures are a sign that you are “growing spiritually” or becoming a more “mature brother or sister“.
After extracting extraordinary measures and complicity, the cult exploits the commonly practiced spiritual discipline of self-denial and demands increasingly difficult acts of faith from its followers…Sometimes these requests seem to benefit the cult – members are instructed to donate huge sums of money or contribute tremendous time and labor to the cult. Just as often, however, these requests will be completely arbitrary or even against the interests of the cult. By interspersing real requests with these random and bizarre instructions, the cult can avoid the appearance of self-interest. It can also paralyze the followers’ ability to second-guess cult actions.
At this point in the indoctrination process, increasing demands for the member’s time are made. Members are pressured to go to the WMSCOG and study everyday. After a member is done with the basic studies then they are encouraged to spend all of their free time recruiting new members. Sleep deprivation takes over. 5am prayer is encouraged in order to disturb the little sleep the member is getting. Demands on member’s time only increases as the person moves up the group’s hierarchy.