Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Doomsday Problem: Part 2


So how does a perennially overworked law enforcement agency assess whether a peculiar group within its jurisdiction represents a real and present danger to its own members or the community at large?
How do they separate the numerous but harmless new age alternative spirituality groups from their deadly and destructive cousins? And what about the those groups that begin benignly but turn bizarre?
The following provides a list of indicators that may assist law enforcement and other social agencies in risk determination and profiling. These risk factors have been drawn from comparative analysis of a number of notable classic cult cases:

(1) Leader Status Change.
A self-appointed guru's role may develop from messenger to prophet, from prophet to king, from king to messiah.
Aside from evidence of over-powering conceit, if not run-away megalomania, the elevation of status indicates an expansion of the leader's power and control.
From a devout believer, David Koresh became a prophet in the Branch Davidian sect and eventually a self-styled Lamb of God and Messiah. Rock Therriault of the Ant Hill Kids was first "Pappy" to his followers, then Moses, Master, Elder Apostle, and King.
Another flawed god, Luc Jouret's advancement to messianic status included tasteful artwork depicting himself as Christ. Ashara, the leader of the Japanese Aum Shinri cult rose from a humble herbalist to announce in 1992 that he was Jesus.
While not millennium oriented, the leader of the Matamoros, Mexico, "narcosatanico" cult killers developed from a "curandero" (healer) to "El Padrino" (loosely, the Master).
One can resonably conclude that acquisition of godhead status is often an immediate prelude to hellbent destruction.

...continued tomorrow.

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