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Freedom of Mind Group Database Search
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Group Information
Title Centers of Light - Order of Christ Sophia
As far as I know, they are not affiliated with other organizations.
Founder Peter Bowes and Clare Watts (actually, they appropriated the work of the Holy Order of MANS.)
Leader Peter Bowes and Clare Watts
Description The Order of Christ Sophia calls itself a "school" for Christian Mysticism and Meditation. They hold "classes" in the evenings twice a week. Once you become a "student,"
1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
  a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
  b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
  c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
  d. How much sleep the person is able to have
  e. Financial dependence
  f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations

2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals

3. Need to ask permission for major decisions

4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors

5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).

6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails

7. Rigid rules and regulations

8. Need for obedience and dependency.
As an experienced psychotherapist (with three Masters degrees, two of which are from Yale, and the coursework for a PhD), I am trained to notice the behaviors, thought patterns and personal strategies people use to adapt to their environment. From my initial involvement with the Center of Light, I noticed that the methods the teachers used in their interactions with students were those used in severely dysfunctional family systems. For example: They publicly humiliate people (I have witnessed this and experienced it personally) they refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and thus "blame the victim", they use circular reasoning to justify their infallibility. This "infallibility" part is really insidious. Here's how it works: Once someone is ordained and becomes a deacon, they then have "inner sight", which comes from God. Since it comes from God, and God is always good, whatever they "see" about any particular person is also correct and true and good. Therefore, any argument against their "God-given sight" is never justified, is never valid and is always defensive. In other words, they are always right and any questioning of their pronouncements is wrong. It is out of this type of reasoning that they can call their "sight" Loving and not abusive.But abuse is what it really is. They avoid the responsibility of looking at their own behavior and how it provokes the anger or defensiveness on the part of the person they're "helping". They rationalize their own behavior by saying that they're doing it out of Love. This is not Love.
1. Use of deception
  a. Deliberately holding back information
  b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
  c. Outright lying

2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
  a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
  b. Critical information
  c. Former members
  d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
  a. Information is not freely accessible
  b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
  c. Leadership decides who “needs to know” what

4. Spying on other members is encouraged
  a. Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
  b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
  a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
  b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

6. Unethical use of confession
  a. Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
  b. Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution
Those who are accepted into training for the ministry eventually come around to this abusive way of treating people. This is what I would characterize as a "shared delusion". It is shared not only among the ministers, but also in the communities as a whole. While it is not stated overtly, it is understood that no one is allowed to question Peter's authority. I have actually heard Peter say, in a seminar, that he is just below Jesus and Mary on the earth at this time. He said it seriously, and no one challenged him.
I have been treated this abusive way many times over the years by deacons and priests and not once have they ever apologized for their behavior. Of course, they don't have to because everything is re-framed as being from God, and therefore loving. How can you object to God's voice, even when it comes through a human being?
1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
  a. Map = Reality
  b. Black and White thinking
  c. Good vs. evil
  d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".

3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.

4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
  a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
  b. Chanting
  c. Meditating
  d. Praying
  e. Speaking in "tongues"
  f. Singing or humming

5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
No one can disagree with Peter. As a member of the Order, you are gradually sucked into believe that everything he says is true. I have heard him say in response to a question about infallibility, that whatever the priests say is right, and even if they are wrong, they are right!!! What kind of double talk is this? And, somehow, at the time, I thought this made sense. It points to the fact that they use hypnotic techniques to control how people perceive their pronouncements.
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.

2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.

3. Feeling-stopping. Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling "homesick" or feeling "depressed" or feeling "resentful".

4. Excessive use of guilt
  a. Identity guilt
    1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)
    2. Your family
    3. Your past
    4. Your affiliations
    5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions
    6. Social guilt
    7. Historical guilt

5. Excessive use of fear
  a. Fear of thinking independently
  b. Fear of the "outside" world
  c. Fear of enemies
  d. Fear of losing one's "salvation"
  e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
  f. Fear of disapproval

6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.

7. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".

8. Phobia indoctrination: programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
  a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group
  b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.
  c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
  d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.
This is an email I received from the priest at the New Haven Center of Light after an incident with a deacon. Notice that there is no attempt to understand my perspective, but only I see that you are very strenuously avoiding speaking to any of us. But it must be spoken of, because you are spreading damage by the way that you are acting. If you choose to not come here, that is your prerogative, but sneaking in and out as you have been doing cannot continue, because it is mean and hateful. Whatever is going on with you is something you need to take care of, not stew in, and certainly not spew it silently on everyone else. You may think you are slipping in and out, but your avoidance is so blatant that it is like shouting at us how mad and disgusted you are, so mad and disgusted that you will not deign to have an actual interaction with us. Do you realize that your coming and going is like that of a thief?
This community has been a saving grace for you, holding and supporting you through changes that were tough, welcoming you always. The OM could be a container that provides the structure you need to become a stronger, more loving, more stable person, because being in the OM requires you to be mature, responsible, and giving, which are things you need to grow in strength. But you cannot just shit in that container. You can't represent the OM and act like a manipulative little girl.
You can change this. If you are going to, you had better get going on it,because the longer you persist, the harder it will be for you. What is needed to change it is to address responsibly and respectfully the issue that confronts you. You also treated Rev. Michael and Deacon Esther with tremendous rudeness in your emails, and you would need to recognize and redress this. You would need to own your behavior of the last couple of weeks and apologize for it. I have complete confidence that you can do this, and that if you choose to, you will be relieved. Whatever you choose, it is not okay to continue stealing in and out of the chapel, avoiding people. Let me know what you decide.
In Christ,
Rev. Johanna

Rev. Johanna Knight
It's a soul thing.


So What do YOU think?
Susan Moss
The Order of Christ Sophia

Centers of Light

Sophia Peace Center

Ask Father Peter

Ask Mother Clare

Sophia Radio

The Mary Sophia Temple For World Peace
Cult or Church Woman questions Order of Christ Sophia

Is the Order of Christ Sophia a cult?

My Life In the OCS
(articles, videos, information)
Centers of Light - Anonymous article from a former top leader of OCS

Centers of Light - Susan Moss, A Therapist and Former Member Speaks Out Against the Abusive Practices of the OCS

Centers of Light - Church Group Ignites Controversy In Quincy

Centers of Light - Families: Religious Group Uses Cult-Like Methods

Sex, God, and chocolate ice cream BY CHRIS WRIGHT