Cult of Humanity

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(The Observer-Dispatch, 10/18/15)

Monday on our radio show, after a week of having our sensibilities bombarded with details, thoughts, and images involving the abhorrent revelations about the Word of Life Church here in our community, we turned to renowned and eloquent cult expert Rick Ross. Beginning with the question in the headline above from our local newspaper, this exchange transpired:


If this description sounds familiar, it should come as no surprise.

As I’ve been privately and publicly mulling over the lurid details and bloody behavior of the cult-like group at a church which sits exactly 3.5 miles from my front door, it has struck me that we’ve all been close to twisted human programming of various types and in varying degrees.

While very few of us have endured anything like the atrocities at the so-called “Christian” church in Chadwicks, we’ve undoubtedly experienced or witnessed some of what Mr. Ross described. How many of us have been in or observed a marriage or relationship in which one individual holds another “captive” in some fashion?

Maybe it’s a controlling spouse, bent on psychological domination over her partner or family. Or, perhaps it’s an alcoholic, whose moods shackle the ones he supposedly loves the most. We’ve certainly seen these types of characters depicted in popular movies like the aptly-named Ordinary People or Gone Girl.

How about the boss who leverages his power against employees and utilizes threats and coercion to achieve results? Simon Synek’s book “Start with Why” examines once-successful businesses in the early stages of failure. He theorizes that when companies lose sight of the passions and mission statements that drove their humble beginnings, “manipulations start to dominate not only how the company sells its wares but how they retain employees,” and then tactics such as “instilling fear in people become the only way to hold on to talent.”

And we’ve all encountered bullies who use physical force or superior attitudes in day-to-day life to control the people and/or situations around them.

Quite often WE are complicit in allowing the destructive behavior to occur, dooming our lives, when we could be rescuing them. Speaking up is a good place to start. It’s a strategy we covered on a show recently with New York State Senator Joe Griffo:


Good idea. See something, say something. Stop a shooting. Bust a bully. Call out a cult. Save someone. Save yourself. Of course there are no guarantees, but certainly nothing will come of doing nothing.

Dave Coombs is the morning host for “The Talk of the Town” on 100.7 FM WUTQ/Utica-Rome.

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