A Book Report by Richard E. Kelly
I have read few books that have enlightened me more than Masoud Banisadr’s Destructive and Terrorist Cults: A New Kind of Slavery. The book is not only a literary gem that is well-written, timely and expertly researched, it also delivers a powerful message from an insightful, highly educated man who “has been there, done that.”
Near the beginning of the book (pg. 5), Banisadr describes the altered mindset of a deluded cult member when he confessed:
“Like all members of destructive cults, I believed that our group, MeK, was superior to ordinary people, not only because of our sacrifices and activities but in understanding the world. We thought we knew the answers to all the philosophical and political questions, from the beginning of creation to the end of time. How naïve I was and how little I possessed of common knowledge that ordinary people take for granted!”
Keep in mind that Banisadr was a math scholar – definitely not an intellectual pushover – before he joined a political group that would evolve into a destructive, terrorist cult, not unlike ISIS, ISIL or IS. He and hundreds of thousands were recruited and unduly and unethically influenced by a cause and an unscrupulous cult leader. He saw his life change in a way that pushed him from being in the driver’s seat of his own life, to being forced into becoming a super submissive back-seat passenger going along for the ride.
How all of this happened to him personally becomes the finely woven fabric of the book.
How and why are people attracted to political and pseudo-religious cults? Banisadr provides us with a clue:
“Injustice is the main reason, especially for young, educated, middle-class intellectuals.”
In chapter 4, Banisadr skillfully explains how the human mind works and how cult leaders manipulate member’s minds to get them to do and say things they would have thought unthinkable and barbaric before joining the cult. Banisadr also reports:
“MeK used every manner of rational and emotional trick to win this needed internal commitment from new recruits. And when they did, the road towards enslaving disciples was easy and smooth. Gradually, ideological concepts such as ‘worshiping God and getting His approval,’ ‘being a good Muslim,’ ‘nationalism,’ and ‘opposing tyranny and exploitation’ were transformed into principles of responsibility and commitment to the cult leaders.”
It’s Not Just Pseudo-Islamic Cult Groups that Use These Techniques
While I was beginning to understand how destructive pseudo-Islamic groups recruit and systematically manipulate the minds of their members, this book also provided me with some new insight into the methods used by pseudo-Christian “Bible-based” groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses. By poisoning their members’ desire for higher education, they effectively cripple natural critical thinking skills. These groups know how to “rewire” each member’s mind “one brick at a time” in ways that are similar to the Watchtower’s use of “groupthink.”
Heavily loaded with logical fallacies, “group-think” defines everything as either “good” or “bad” when it comes to pleasing God. You are either with us or against us. There are only simple black-or-white solutions for life’s complex problems. You can “live forever” – but only if you obey the group’s “God-given directions.” Never ask questions or express doubts about the group’s core beliefs or policies. And by supporting extreme shunning of ex-members – even your own parents or children – proves that you truly “love God” and the “God-appointed” leaders of the group.
To learn more about the clear and present danger of “undue (and unethical) influence” – or as Banisadr calls it, “mind manipulation” – and also how we can eventually resist this fast-growing menace to free and democratic societies, I highly recommend that you read Destructive and Terrorist Cults: A New Kind of Slavery.
About Richard E. Kelly
Richard E. Kelly is the Managing Director of Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA.co) and the author of Growing Up in Mama’s Club – A Childhood Perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Ghosts from Mama’s Club. The retired former president of a Michigan manufacturing company, Kelly was raised as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and left the faith at age 20.