I hate cults. I hate their holier-than-thou attitude, their hypocrisy and their demeaning of women. But mostly I hate how they remind me of home, because cults are founded by narcissists, run by narcissists and often turn their members into narcissists. I used to think that whacked-out religious doctrine is what defined a cult. Nope! It’s specific interpersonal dynamics in the cult that make it a cult, not just their doctrine.

It’s been my dubious privilege to closely observe the inner machinations of a cult for the past few years. Oh, I’m not a member, but I’ve got the inside scoop from the members.

And it ain’t pretty! What I hate the most is how they treat their women. So forgive me if my anger on behalf of my fellow women makes this article rather sarcastic!

You’d Better Procreate!

You’re nobody, persona non grata, a weirdo, highly suspect if 1) you’re a married woman and 2) you don’t have a baby. No, no…make that lots of babies! As many babies as your body can create.

And why not?! The cult doesn’t evangelize, they don’t proselytize. Birthing future cult members is the only way it’s going to keep going, given the rate of young folks who defect.

Any woman who doesn’t, can’t or won’t do their procreation duty — hmmmph. You’re side-lined. Gossiped about. Given sidelong glances. Because they believe that birth control is akin to abortion. (Yeah, I blew my top when I heard that too.) And that’s why their women breastfeed their babies for too long. They refuse to wean them in the hopes that keeping their prolactin levels up will prevent conception. It works too.

But have a baby…and it’s your day to finally get love-bombed, Mommy!

You’d Better Shut-Up!

But on the other hand, if you have a baby out of wedlock, the cult treats you like the dregs of the Earth. Oh, your baby’s daddy is still a member of the cult in good standing, even if he was married when he had his way with you. It’s you, “Jezebel” who will be shamed from here to Kingdom come. Even if he raped you. Even if you were just thirteen and he paid you for sex. Even if he was your brother. (I’ve heard the stories. True stories!)

That’s right. Pedophiles, rapists and the perpetrators of incest are safe and warm in this cult. They may even by the preacher. Oh, they might have to narc on themselves to the church when their crime comes to light. They might have to be shunned for a little while. But after that, he’s back in the cult’s good graces. Not in jail. Not on a Sex Offender list. Nope! He’s back nestled in the bosom of his family, his betrayed wife and his cult where temptations abound for the girls are not taught about sex and are too cowed, respectful and naïve to defend themselves!

And you, you scarlet Jezebel who seduced a good man? You’d better suck-it-up-and-forgive-him, Buttercup.

You’d Better be Plain!

Whenever I was around the women from this cult, they stared and stared at me. Everywhere I turned, there were eyes watching me. Their ostentatious 1700s garb and expressionless stares projected a holier-than-thou judgmentalism — one that may or may not have existed. “Good grief!” I complained to Michael, “someone needs to tell these people it’s rude to stare!”

As it turns out, the women stared because they were curious. Being completely isolated geographically exacerbated by their weak grasp of the English language, they were simply curious about this woman who wore jeans, boots, short hair, lipstick, nail polish, earrings and enjoyed PDAs with her husband and was at her ease chatting with men and women alike. (Their husbands ignore them in company and wouldn’t be caught dead showing affection!)

Like most cults, this cult forbade women from enjoying their femininity. Need I state that make-up, jewelry or anything pretty were verboden? The “lust of the eyes.” They aren’t even allowed to cut their hair!! Their drab-colored one-pattern-fits-no-one dresses were sewn from the heavy, synthetic, scratchy Church-approved fabrics. And don’t even get me started on their shoes! The plainest, ugliest black nurse’s shoes or  lace-up walking shoes…with dresses yet! But underneath! I’ve heard the stories and seen their clotheslines on wash day. One good gust of wind and the men are drooling over a glimpse of their thongs.

But it wasn’t just the women who were staring. It was the men too. The eyes of the husband’s of these plain women followed me everywhere. I hated it. It was creepy! One particular man’s one-toothed leering grin over his red beard and green scarf got him dubbed The Leprechaun. He got so close I accidentally bumped into him. And when I did, I noticed how the men were allowed the accouterments of masculinity…high-heeled fancy boots and the hippest, coolest sunglasses. Methinks a double-standard abounds.

“If they’d just let their women be pretty,” said I to Michael, “maybe those dirty old men would actually want to look at their own wives. After all, every barn needs some paint. I sure do!”

You’d Better Worship Your Family!

Because the cult is familial, there’s a strong hierarchy. They believe that their ancestors did everything perfectly. Thus, they talk, eat, cook, dress, travel and bathe in the exactly the same way. It smacks of ancestor worship (but it isn’t really.) Fast-forward a couple of centuries and this translates to “honoring your parents” to the Nth degree. The patriarch rules over his wife, his sons, his daughters and his son-in-laws. You dare not question. You dare not rebel. You shut up, sit down and take it.

Or leave.

Leave everything. Your family. Your livelihood. Your special tax status. Everything. You may be allowed to come back to visit…but your family will not eat with you. No family Thanksgiving or Christmas meal together. Their cult forbids it by twisting I Corinthians 5: 11, “…with such a person do not even eat.”

You’d Better Take Your Pills!

After a lifetime of this, is it any wonder that a lot of these women are hiding a guilty rage so hot they turn it against their “unrighteous, unsubmissive” selves where it becomes depression? So the lucky ones are given antidepressants, y’know, the gals that haven’t killed themselves yet. That’s right. Don’t tell a soul, but that cult has a little suicide problem among the women. But that’s okay, because their husband will speedily marry a younger model and have even more kids. Like that one guy that finally managed to kill his first wife by poisoning her beverages and shoving battery acid her rectum. Yeah, you heard about that too. He’s in jail now while his second wife raises two families of children alone.

But no one in that cult goes to counseling. They don’t seek help. Psychology is a dirty word. Everytime I brought up narcissism, this blog, my therapist, counseling or psychology — the whole kit n’ kaboodle shut up like clams. You could smell their disapproval. It made me want to scream! But they’d have been fine with me if I just shut-up, sucked it up and taken pills. Oh yes!

The men are angry and depressed too, but they turn it outwards. I heard tell of one old grandpa who chased his sons around the barn with a pitchfork. True story. His son is an angry man and his son is an angry young man too. The scapegoat, actually.

I could go on and on. About their hypocrisy. About how they use non-cult members to facilitate their “sinning.” About their true love, money. But that’s another story for another day.

Don’t let cult’s Holier-Than-Thou attitude fool you. They look so good, but like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they’re “white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones”* and narcissists. Lots of narcissists.

Photo by Articulate MediaWorks

*Matthew 23:27