Concerning Prophet’s Prey, the documentary about Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, Michael O’Sullivan, critic for the Washington Post had this to say:
There isn’t much here that hasn’t already been made public. Yet among many appalling things cited by “Prophet’s Prey,” the most troubling conclusion may have nothing to do with Jeffs at all. It’s the sinking realization, as Krakauer points out, that there are still thousand of FLDS faithful who continue to revere Jeffs, even after his conviction. What this says about human nature, and our ability — even willingness — to be led astray by an unscrupulous shepherd is the most depressing discovery of all.
When it comes to cults, we’re not talking about shepherds, we’re talking about wolves, which people are all too willing to not just follow, but to give every part of their lives over to. The outrageous acts of the FLDS controlled by Warren Jeffs is also documented in I Escaped a Cult. What is really amazing is how followers of cult leaders are so loyal and quick to come to the defense of the cult leaders. They can be defiantly dedicated to blindly defend the cult leaders with irrational excuses. For those watching Prophet’s Prey, this is underscored by the cinematographer’s camera operator taking video from a moving vehicle, filming people on side of the street: Women and children gave a middle single-finger salute.
Closer to home, Yisrayl Hawkins, leader of the House of Yahweh cult has much the same profile as Warren Jeffs: performing polygamous weddings and forcing children – some as young as 11 – to work jobs at his 44-acre compound. Make no mistake: Yisrayl Hawkins is directly from Armstrongism, having split from the Worldwide Church of God in 1980. The House of Yahweh keeps the Feast of Tabernacles. The above video on YouTube shows that Dr. Phil exposes the House of Yahweh as a fraud. People comment on how his prophecies fail and he keeps making changes to his prophecies as they fail. He cries continually how he needs more money, but he’s very wealthy. Here again, the members of his cult vociferously defend and make excuses for Hawkins. The excerpt on Dr. Phil demonstrates that Hawkins can’t pronounce ‘nuclear’ correctly:
Rick Ross calls the House of Yahweh a ‘destructive cult’ and that there is no accountability. Hawkin’s followers live in poverty in trailers while he has millions. What happens with the mind control is that the other members of the group installs a sense of identity, completely isolating an individual so all ‘truth’ comes only from the group. At the same time, Hawkins claims he is being unfairly persecuted — and the loyal members support him in this allegation.
For persecution, Ronald Weinland of the Church of God — Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG); in his Site Bio, there is this entry:
As with so many whom God has called as prophets and apostles, most all have been imprisoned and/or killed by the governments of this world. Although some history has different accounts, it is believed that all the original disciples who became God’s apostles, including Paul, were all imprisoned and killed, except for John. John was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos by the Roman government, and it is there that he was given the Book of Revelation to write.
In like manner, and as his counterpart, Ronald Weinland was falsely imprisoned by the government of the United States for evading to pay taxes.
This does not reflect reality. Two jurors at the Weinland trial have testified that it was not persecution, it was prosecution. The evidence is clear. The man isn’t just a lying false prophet, he’s also a convicted felon currently serving his prison term. Nevertheless, PKG members continue to support Weinland and make excuses for him — displaying their loyalty to him.
In fact, this pattern of loyalty is exhibited across the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia, with profligate leaders with bad behavior being defended by their supporters, members of the cult sects.
Why do cultists exhibit such loyalty in the face of facts debunking their beliefs and exposing their leaders?
When Prophecy Fails offers the following:
Dissonance and consonance are relations among cognitions — that is, among opinions, beliefs, knowledge of the environment, and knowledge of one’s own actions and feelings. Two opinions, or beliefs, or items of knowledge are dissonant with one another if they do not fit together — that is, if they are inconsistent, or if considering only the particular two items, one does not follow from the other. For example, a cigarette smoker who believes that smoking is bad for his health has an opinion that is dissonant with the knowledge that he is continuing to smoke. He may have many other opinions, beliefs, or items of knowledge that are consonant with continuing to smoke but the dissonance nevertheless exists too.
Dissonance produces discomfort and, correspondingly, there will arise pressures to reduce or eliminate the dissonance. Attempts to reduce dissonance represent the observable manifestations that dissonance exists. Such attempts may take any or all three forms. The person may try to change one or more of the beliefs, opinions, or behaviors involved in the dissonance; to acquire new information or beliefs that will increase the existing consonance and thus cause the total dissonance to be reduced; or to forget or reduce the importance of those cognitions that are in a dissonant relationship.
The Armstrongists all know that Deuteronomy 18 says that the false prophet shall be put to death. They know the Scripture in Revelation 22 that says that liars will not inherit the Kingdom of God… and yet, they observe their cult leader lying and being a false prophet — and still they show loyalty by supporting him and ignoring what they know to be true: The man is a fraud. They have to. If they don’t, they will have to admit they are wrong and to do so would cause great pain.
Warren Jeffs was shown in a video where he said, “I am a liar. I am not a prophet.” Those are hard facts. The FLDS members simply ignore his statements as some sort of test. He had rousted his followers in his compound at 6 A.M. to stand in a field because he told them that they were to be taken up. They stood for 12 hours. At 6 P.M. he told them that they weren’t taken up because it was their fault for not being righteous enough. Cult leaders can play all sorts of games to give their membership premade excuses they can use to salve their cognitive dissonance.
We don’t have to pursue the cognitive dissonance generated within the membership following Roderick Meredith, David Pack, Gerald Flurry, Robert Thiel and the whole host of others because they are all well known false prophets and liars. The real problem is loyalty.
It is time to abandon loyalty to those who are cult leaders — they are not worthy of our time and attention.
Only when inappropriate loyalty is abandoned can sanity begin.