I was looking at a website today called Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups by Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. On this webpage, they had a checklist for cultic behavior. Let’s look at the checklist and see how it fits with the gerrings!
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
Oh, I think we’d have to give this one a big yes.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
Judging from what I’ve read on Facebook, and how “dissenters” have been treated, I’d have to say yes to this as well.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
This one’s a bit iffy. I would hardly call prayer in Hebrew “speaking in tongues,” but considering the fact Noahides have no commandment to pray, it does present a problem.
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
The gerrings are not quite that extreme.
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
The elitist part is certainly true, and with all the Chabad-Schneerson supporters hanging around, it wouldn’t surprise me if it goes the whole nine yards.
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
Oh, heavens to Betsy yes.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
Sounds like a good description of Rabbi You-Know-Who.
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
Borderline on this one. I know they continually ask for donations for unnecessary books and other projects to further their agenda. And in the past, there have been collections for things such as gold crowns and silver trumpets by other groups.
- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
Have to go with yes on this one.
- Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
I don’t know if preoccupied is the right word, but bringing in money is certainly a top priority.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
Meh. I don’t think expected is the right word here, but the gerrings do seem to spend a lot of time promoting the gerring cult.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
I’d have to give this one a moderate yes.
- The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
That’s ten out of fifteen. Well on their way to being a bonafide cult.