Tag Archives: brainwashing

NXIVM and Other Cults

DOS brand as per Government Exhibit GX-352 in US v. Raniere, Source https://www.courthousenews.com/former-slave-master-describes-sex-cult-branding-ritual/, Author US Attorney’s Office, EDNY (PD as work product of federal govt.)

And Jesus answered and said to them:  ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many’ ” (Matt. 24: 4-5).

NXIVM is old news.  Keith Raniere has joined the ranks of such infamous cult leaders as Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, and David Koresh [1].

But the NXIVM phenomenon has lessons for us.  Here are a few:

1.  A charismatic leader may not be what he claims. 

All that glitters is not gold.

Though venerated as a virtual god, Keith Raniere was originally an Amway distributor [2A].  The self-proclaimed guru and life coach called himself the “smartest man in the world” when, in fact, he had difficulty completing college.

2.  The endorsement of celebrities is no guarantee of an organization’s trustworthiness.

NXIVM was supported by Seagrams heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, to the tune of some $85 million [2B].

Among the celebrities who once endorsed NXIVM were actresses Allison Mack, India Oxenberg, and Sarah Edmondson [3].  Keith Raniere even appeared with the Dalai Lama.

3.  Hierarchy and ritual are no guarantees of an organization’s spirituality.

NXIVM had both.

4.  Finances often reveal the true nature of an organization.

Actions speak louder than words.  Lofty sounding goals are not enough.

Keith Raniere promised his followers they would change the world [2C].  Instead, Raniere’s actions confirmed his desire for sex, money, and power.

Legally, NXIVM was comprised of dozens of shell corporations, their finances dubious [2D].  Functionally, NXIVM was little more than a pyramid scheme, designed to bilk Raniere’s followers of their savings [2E].

A seemingly endless series of classes were heavily promoted. All promised self-knowledge and self-improvement, albeit at a cost.  Meanwhile, members often went unpaid for their labor.

Raniere’s earlier venture, Consumer Buyline (a multi-level marketing company) was shut down in 1993 after being investigated for fraud by 20 states.

5.  Excessive control is a major red flag.

There is a fine line between indoctrination and brainwashing; that line must not be crossed.

New members were introduced to NXIVM’s philosophy of “rational inquiry” at intensive, 14 hour-per-day seminars lasting more than 2 weeks.

Loyalty to NXIVM was emphasized over loyalty to family.  The dress, diet, and life decisions of members were all closely regulated by NXIVM.  Even the weight of members was monitored.

Other tactics employed at NXIVM included sleeplessness, isolation, starvation, corporal punishment, and coercion via blackmail.  Cult leaders Jim Jones and Charles Manson, also, used “love bombing” – excessive displays of attention and affection intended to overwhelm [5]. Continue reading


Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Justice, Law, Religion, sex trafficking, Slavery


ISIS is recruiting and training child soldiers it proudly calls “Cubs of the Islamic State” [1].

The recruitment and use of children as soldiers is a war crime, though not without precedent. Children – often forcibly conscripted – have acted as soldiers in India, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Myanmar [2].

In Sierra Leone, boys between the ages of 7 and 14 served in the Small Boys Unit. Some 10,000 are thought to have taken part, in that nation’s civil war from 1991-2002 [3]. These children were involved in rape, mutilation, sexual slavery, murder, and other forms of human rights abuses.

Over 30,000 children have taken part in the decades long conflict in Uganda, a substantial number of these actually abducted [4]. Young girls are subject to sexual violence, or required to serve as “wives” of the rebels and have their children.

And now ISIS.

Boys are taught how to use AK-47s and mercilessly behead captives. An Iraqi security official was quoted by NBC News as saying, “They use dolls to teach them how to behead people, then they make them watch a beheading, and sometimes they force them to carry the heads in order to cast the fear away from their hearts.”

Some children are used by ISIS as suicide bombers; others, as human shields. They are, also, indoctrinated in Shariah law. “It’s being done for the same reasons that Hitler had the Hitler Youth,” stated Charlie Winter of the Quilliam Foundation.

Brainwashing these children is a long-term strategy to assure ISIS’ continued existence. “They have to get used to hearing the sounds of explosions and machine guns and missiles and artillery and aircraft,” Abu Dujana explained. “They should get used to seeing blood,” the ISIS fighter said.

Americans can expect to see more blood, as well.

[1] NBC News, “ISIS Trains Child Soldiers at Camps for ‘Cubs of the Islamic State’ ” by Cassandra Vinograd, Ghazi Balkiz and Ammar Cheikh Omar, 11/7/14, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-trains-child-soldiers-camps-cubs-islamic-state-n241821.

[2] Child Soldiers International, http://www.child-soldiers.org/.

[3] Human Rights Watch, “Sierra Leone Rebels Forcefully Recruit Child Soldiers”, 6/1/00, http://www.hrw.org/news/2000/05/31/sierra-leone-rebels-forcefully-recruit-child-soldiers.

[4] UN.org, Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About, “Uganda: Child Soldiers at Centre of Mounting Humanitarian Crisis”, http://www.un.org/events/tenstories/06/story.asp?storyID=100.


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Filed under Abuse of Power, Emotional Abuse, Law, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women