The Christian community has been invaded by false prophets, heretic teachers, full-blown cultic ministries and Churches with cultic tendencies. Regrettably the majority of members who follow such religious leaders and movements do so innocently and sincerely. Many of them have no capacity to detect or suspect spiritual abuse. Of all types of abuse, spiritual abuse is the most subtle because it is done in the name of God and it is perpetrated by the most respected proponents of religion. What a sorry and worrisome situation. Surely sincerity and innocence is not enough because you can sincerely and innocently go to hell in broad daylight. Their gullibility to spiritual abuse is observed by how they passionately defend and protect their abusers. These followers are like the Zealots during Jesus’ time. They were so zealous about their religion that they were prepared to fight any pagan forces militarily although they did not have the military capacity. Similarly these modern Zealots will do anything to defend their leader even if they operate in error. The Shona language of Zimbabwe rightfully sums up the behaviour of such followers when it says, KWADZINOROHWA MATUMBU NDIKO KWADZINOMHANYIRA (People rush in great numbers where they are abused). Some of these abusive leaders have come to the extends of impoverishing their parishioners through unbiblical financial demands. Needless to mention that some members have sec-umped to dehumanising acts like eating grass and snakes, drinking petrol as juice, bringing underwear to Church for demons of spiritual wives and husbands to be exorcised, anointing of private parts with holy oil. Rape cases of parishioners being committed by Church leaders is on the increase. The list is endless. Furthermore some have tragically died in search of miracles e.g. Jim Jones killed over nine hundred of his followers through drinking cyanid poison in the name of Holy Communion. False teachings are poisonous no matter what amount or how mild they may appear. The Apostle Paul says that these false prophets and teachers are heartless and conscienceless hypocritical liars who have abandoned the faith and are now following deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Listed below are some identity features of spiritually abusive people, leaders, Churches and Ministries:
1) They demand reverential fear and honour which should only be given to the Most High God.
2) They demand undivided loyalty which if not followed is equated to unforgivable sin which attracts multiple curses from God.
3) They claim to be the sole custodians of truth (although such Churches and Ministries are late comers in the Faith) and all others are lost and in need of redemption.
4) They manifest spiritual pride or a holier than thou attitude as if they have monopoly over God and Christianity at large.
5) They glamourise and deify the founder more than what they do to Christ i.e. the founder is more omnipresent in protecting them than Christ
6) They emphasise extra-biblical revelation and adherence to the published articles and books of the founder at the expense of the word of God (BIBLE).
7) They focus on brainwashing which enables them to manipulate rather than discipleship which empowers individual Christians to voluntarily serve God.
8) They are anti-family and anti-society hence isolation of their members.
9) They create a dependency syndrome among their followers, thus mould an addictive behaviour where a person gets so hooked to the leader that they cannot make independent decisions for their lives.