A small, pseudo-Christian cult in Attleboro, Massachusetts. It does not follow historical, mainstream Christianity. It is a small authoritarian group that relies on "direct revelation" and not the Bible for its direction. This small cult has been in the news because it is believed that two children have died unnecessarily. Samuel Robidoux, the ten month old son of the cult founder's son, Jacques, died of malnutrition. He was not fed because they were waiting for a sign from God to feed him. Rebecca Corneau's child, Jeremiah, died shortly after childbirth reportedly due to the lack of basic medical care. Corneau is now eight and one half months pregnant (as of September, 15th, 2000) and the courts have intervened to try to protect it. The American Civil Liberties Union and other Pro-Choice Advocates worry that this case might set a dangerous legal precedent by showing more concern for an unborn child than the wishes of the mother.
Former member Dennis Mingo left the group after ten years, and gave a diary that described the deaths of the two children to police. Despite months of effort, police have not been able to locate the children's bodies. The group denounces the ''seven systems'' of mainstream society, including education, government, banking, religion, medicine, science and entertainment. Consequently, members of the group have refused to cooperate with all authorities and have refused legal counsel. They have even refused to assert their basic constitutional right against self-incrimination. This Millennial group expects the world will erupt in violence and turmoil at any moment, and that they alone will be saved.
I believe that this is a mind control cult. Furthermore, I believe that this family-oriented cult was formed by Roland Robidoux several years ago when he split from the Worldwide Church of God (a group that is itself described as a mind control cult- especially at the time that Robidoux left it) and started his own "Bible study group." We know this because Brian Weeks, now a pastor, left the Worldwide Church of God with Robidoux. Weeks later split with Robidoux because he saw that he was going further and further away from the Bible.
In my new book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, (Freedom of Mind Press, 2000), I describe how individuals need information and counseling in order to recover from a cult group's mind control regime and indoctrination. It is not uncommon that someone leaves a cult and starts his/her own new cult.
The definition of a mind control cult is "A pyramid structured, authoritarian relationship or group which uses deception in its recruitment and mind control to keep people obedient and dependent." This mind control process is done in a step by step fashion and firsts disorients and "unfreezes" the person's identity, then "changes" it through behavior control and indoctrination and then "refreezes" into the new "self". Destructive mind control is very different than mere social learning or social influence. Also, the "conversion" process is very different than a legitimate spiritual conversion experience in which free will exists.
Destructive mind control creates a "dissociative disorder" in its members - a split of identity which is ego-dystonic as opposed to ego-syntonic, as in military training. The cult identity is given a new set of beliefs, feelings and behaviors and is taught to try to "kill the old self" and at best suppresses it. Thought-stopping techniques taught to cult members interrupt normal reality-testing thought processes. By isolating members from all sources of information that might contradict cult doctrine, members are made to be nearly totally dependent. Powerful phobias are instilled into cult members' minds, which neutralize the possibility of their believing that leaving the cult is a viable choice. Members of this cult group have been taught that the world is coming to an end and that if they don't remain "faithful" they will be taken over by Satan.
Whatever the leader says, followers will do. When Robidoux read the book, ''Born in Zion,'' by Carol Balizet, it led him to make more and more extreme changes. Balizet, a former emergency room nurse who now has her own "ministry", advocates natural home births, claiming only prayer is needed. Members who are legally blind have had to get rid of their glasses, believing that God would heal their eyes if they are "faithful". Former member Mingo says that several of them are "blind as bats," but refuse to wear glasses. Members do not celebrate birthdays, holidays, read newspapers, magazines, watch TV or movies. They burned all of their old photographs in order to block them from remembering the past. They were told that looking at photographs is an act of vanity. Men wear long beards and the women all wear long cotton dresses.
In Jan. 2000, Rev. Bob Pardon, head of the New England Institute of Religious Research, was appointed guardian ad litum of the sect's children. Pardon, and his associate Judy Barba, prepared a 20-page report on the sect for Judge Kenneth P. Nasif. After extensive research both say that the cult members do not feel guilty about what happened to Samuel Robidoux or Jermiah Corneau. They believe that if Rebecca Corneau needs medical assistance during her upcoming childbirth, without state intervention, this child might also die or suffer grave injury.
Pardon, a Christian minister, is well equipped to understand the workings of the group. He has been assisting me for many years with a wide variety of cult cases and has a firm knowledge of the Bible. He has been trained in the Strategic Interaction Approach, a legal, goal -oriented communications method for liberating those influenced by destructive cult groups. He was stymied over and over again to help the cult members because they refused to speak with him, fearing being disobedient to their orders.
Like many cults, this group thought they alone had a "direct pipeline to God." They were the chosen ones. They prophesized that they were going to live in Jerusalem, which was now the state of Maine. Like most cult members, these people are basically nice, good people. They are not evil. They are just misguided. Interestingly, this group was so insular, it did not even try to recruit new members.
It is my opinion that Rebecca Corneau is not mentally competent, and on that basis, there is little danger that the court's ruling can endanger women's rights. This group is not merely a small, fringe group where people can have free will. This is a classic case of an extreme mind control cult. I have interviewed individuals including Dennis Mingo, and I am hopeful that, in time, the individuals involved will be able to begin to think for themselves and reevaluate their life choices. Unfortunately, it might be too late for them to avoid lengthy jail sentences. The court has already taken their children away from them and given custody to their relatives.
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