More Than the Devil's Due


Vol. 11, No. 1, 1993

Cultic Studies Journal

Adrian J. Reimers, Ph.D.
Free Again in Christ
South Bend, Indiana

Although mainstream religious groups tend to discount or minimize belief in the devil and evil spirits, fundamentalists, charismatic, shepherding/discipleship groups, and Bible-based cults do not. Indeed, in some groups, an emphasis on the devil and/or evil spirits becomes a tool for the manipulation of consciences. In the People of Praise, which this article uses as an example, a heightened fear of the devil or evil spirits can be used to (a) put pressure on wavering members to stay in the group, (b) elevate the importance of the group and its leaders, (c) enhance the leaders' control of the membership by reinforcing the notion that Satan can even work through good people and only the leaders can discern his designs, and (d) undermine members' confidence in their own judgment, especially about spiritual development. The fears inculcated in members can cause considerable psychological distress when they ultimately leave their groups.

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