Perspectives on yet another Cult!

By dogcatcher on May 28th, 2021

In 2012 one of our editors wrote an article entitled how do you know if you are in a cult: A second article was planned to discuss the effect of cults on their members. Throughout the years we’ve received hundreds of emails from individuals who alleged that members of their family we’re now duped into a Greek Orthodox cult. We refer these misguided adherents as “Ephraimites”. Adherents of this Ephraimite cult are detached from the reality of our world. There are numerous characteristics of Ephraimite adherence. This website is replete with articles discussing every aspect of this cult. While we have not published very much in the last few years, we have continued to help counsel families and victims of this cult. We have also received many emails from those of you who have benefited from our articles and have thanked us.


The following op-ed piece in the May 22, 2021 edition of the New York Times caught the attention of one of our Editors. In effect this insightful opinion piece by Michelle Goldberg has “tackled” many of the points a second article on this topic would have include had we written our promised article. Although it does not address the Greek Orthodox version of the cult leader, it resonates and brings into focus the tactics and characteristics of cult leaders in the Catholic Church as instructive to our cause. Behavior, methodology, relationship to the adherence of cult like behavior in the Catholic Church mirrors everything we have seen or have been told about regarding our own Ephraimite cult.


Just as the Catholic Church has given legitimacy to their cult, so has ours. While the actions of Mother Teresa concerning help given to the poor and impoverished are admirable, it appears that her methodology with the sisters of her order crossed the line. While each and every one of our editors admires and respects healthy monasticism, we to believe that the carriers of this Ephraimite theology and their fervent adherents do substantially more harm to our Church and our faith than any supposed benefit that is derived from this cult. It is with this in mind that we ask each of our readers to read the article below. At the end of the article there will be a link for direct access to the text of the article from the source.


Was Mother Teresa a Cult Leader? May 21, 2021

style=”text-align: center;”>By Michelle Goldberg


Opinion Columnist




“During the Trump years, there was a small boom in documentaries about cults. At least two TV series and a podcast were made about Nxivm, an organization that was half multilevel marketing scheme, half sex abuse cabal. “Wild Wild Country,” a six-part series about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s compound in Oregon, was released on Netflix.  Heaven’s Gate was the subject of a four-part series on HBO Max and a 10-part podcast.  Indeed, there have been so many recent podcasts about cults that sites like Oprah Daily have published listicles about the best ones.


In many ways the compelling new podcast “The Turning: The Sisters Who Left,” which debuted on Tuesday, unfolds like one of these shows. It opens with a woman, Mary Johnson, hoping to escape the religious order in which she lives. “We always went out two by two. We were never allowed just to walk out and do something,” she explains. “So I wouldn’t have been able to go, you know, more than five or six paces before somebody ran up to me and said, ‘Where are you going?’”


Johnson sees an opportunity in escorting another woman to the hospital, where there’s a room full of old clothes that patients have left behind. She makes a plan to shed her religious uniform for civilian garb and flee, though she doesn’t go through with it.


It is what she wants to flee that makes “The Turning” so fascinating. Johnson spent 20 years in Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity before leaving through official channels in 1997. “The Turning” portrays the order of the sainted nun — Mother Teresa was canonized in 2016 — as a hive of psychological abuse and coercion. It raises the question of whether the difference between a strict monastic community and a cult lies simply in the social acceptability of the operative faith.


“The Missionaries of Charity, very much, in so many ways, carried the characteristics of those groups that we easily recognize as cults,” Johnson told me. “But because it comes out of the Catholic Church and is so strongly identified with the Catholic Church, which on the whole is a religion and not a cult, people tend immediately to assume that ‘cult’ doesn’t apply here.”


“The Turning” is far from the first work of journalism to question Mother Teresa’s hallowed reputation. Christopher Hitchens excoriated her as “a demagogue, an obscurantist and a servant of earthly powers,” in his 1995 book “The Missionary Position.” (Along with the writer and filmmaker Tariq Ali, Hitchens collaborated on a short documentary about Mother Teresa titled “Hell’s Angel.”) A Calcutta-born physician named Aroup Chatterjee made a second career lambasting the cruelty and filth in the homes for the poor that Mother Teresa ran in his city.


They and other critics argued that Mother Teresa fetishized suffering rather than sought to alleviate it. Chatterjee described children tied to beds in a Missionaries of Charity orphanage and patients in its Home for the Dying given nothing but aspirin for their pain. “He and others said that Mother Teresa took her adherence to frugality and simplicity in her work to extremes, allowing practices like the reuse of hypodermic needles and tolerating primitive facilities that required patients to defecate in front of one another,” The New York Times reported. (Hygiene practices reportedly improved after Mother Teresa’s death, and Chatterjee told The Times that the reuse of needles was eliminated.)


What makes “The Turning” unique is its focus on the internal life of the Missionaries of Charity. The former sisters describe an obsession with chastity so intense that any physical human contact or friendship was prohibited; according to Johnson, Mother Teresa even told them not to touch the babies they cared for more than necessary. They were expected to flog themselves regularly — a practice called “the discipline” — and were allowed to leave to visit their families only once every 10 years.


A former Missionaries of Charity nun named Colette Livermore recalled being denied permission to visit her brother in the hospital, even though he was thought to be dying. “I wanted to go home, but you see, I had no money, and my hair was completely shaved — not that that would have stopped me. I didn’t have any regular clothes,” she said. “It’s just strange how completely cut off you are from your family.” Speaking of her experience, she used the term “brainwashing.”


“I didn’t bring up the word ‘cult,’” Erika Lantz, the podcast’s host, told me. “Some of the former sisters did.” This doesn’t mean their views of Mother Teresa or the Missionaries of the Charity are universally negative. Their feelings about the woman they once glorified and the movement they gave years of their lives to are complex, and the podcast is more melancholy than bitter.


“I still have a great deal of affection for the women who are there, as well as the women who have left, some obviously more than others,” Johnson told me. “But the group as a whole, it just makes me really, really, really sad to see how far they’ve strayed from Mother Teresa’s initial impulse.” Mother Teresa famously used to say, “Let’s do something beautiful for God.” That, said Johnson, “was kind of the spirit of the initial thing. And it got so twisted over the years.”


Not all these stories are new; Johnson and Livermore have written memoirs. But we have a new context for them. There is the surge of interest in cults, likely driven by the fact that for four years America was run by a sociopathic con man with a dark magnetism who enveloped a huge part of the country in a dangerous alternative reality. And there’s a broader drive in American culture to expose iniquitous power relations and re-evaluate revered historical figures. Viewed through a contemporary, secular lens, a community built around a charismatic founder and dedicated to the lionization of suffering and the annihilation of female selfhood doesn’t seem blessed and ethereal. It seems sinister.


One sister quotes Mother Teresa saying, “Love, to be real, has to hurt.” If you heard the same words from any other guru, you’d know where the story was going.”

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