Recognizing Destructive Religion

How to Make Safe Judgments



Making Safe Judgments:

The Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service are concerned about the potential for harm to students caused by destructive religious groups, and dishonest or high pressure tactics, on our campus. Some people use the word "cults." Without attempting to define whether a group is a "cult" or not, we assert that a religious (or any other) group that practices deceptive and/or destructive behaviors does not belong on the NU campus. The NU guidelines for recognized religious groups bars certain behaviors like proselytization, harrassment, evasiveness, dishonesty, or lack of truth in advertising. Here are some of the warning signs for groups that may be harmful to your well-being:

Common Techniques of Mind Control

  1. "Love Bombing"- excessive flattery or love, discouraging your doubts, instant friendship with everyone
  2. Isolation or separation - suddenly everyone in your circle is a member
  3. Hypnosis - heightened suggestability induced through repetition, constant chanting, etc.
  4. Confession, fear and guilt - encouragement to reveal sins, loyalty maintained by threat
  5. Sleep deprivation, inadequate nutrition
  6. Confusion - offering new and/or complex doctrine, replacing old values with new goals and new definitions
  7. Absolutism - insisting on unquestioned obedience attained by limiting independent thought or action, promises of a "new you," power, and/or guaranteed salvation.


"I think I may possibly be involved with a destructive group... what now?"

In doubt? Call on helpful campus resources!

  • NU Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service: 617-373-2728
  • University Health and Counseling: 617-373-2772
  • "We Care" office: 617-373-7518

Don't ever be afraid or embarrassed to just say "NO" to a person or group with which you aren't comfortable!