The concept of faith has been mulling about in my mind. Faith is among the highest virtues that a person can achieve. It is a word that has nearly universal acceptance as positive; in fact it is often a euphemism for positive thinking. It means believing something regardless of contrary evidence or to accept an idea without question.  We have faith-based social programs administered by people of faith. We cherish a dog or spouse that is faithful. Yet faith is only valid when what we have faith in lives up to expectations.

It seems that too often the concept of faith is used by people and organizations that manipulate individuals and/or groups to do their will. They relieve followers from the responsibility of making right choices based on information and facts. They will build a bond of trust and then cut the devotees off from sources on contradictory evidence. The process begins by convincing the marks that they are special or chosen to be apart from the world. You can see the pattern repeated in religious cults, political organizations and even relationships. It is difficult to counter these groups because their faith will always outweigh facts.

Fortunately most people will eventually see through the deception and attempt to break free. The best solution we can offer is a constant flow of information that the disheartened can grasp onto and support for them as they leave. It may take years to completely purge the programming.

The best option of course is to avoid getting sucked in. Doing that requires an awareness of the techniques.

Warning signs:

  • Someone says they care for or understand you better than anyone else.
  • They cut you off from other sources of support and/or information
  • A group or person claims to have the one truth or a better truth.
  • They spent a lot of time running down, discrediting and demonizing their opposition.
  • They promise great rewards to the truly faithful.
  • They claim to have access to a higher authority that has chosen then to be a message bearer.
  • They attempt to convince a person that safety is only with them and generate tremendous fear about the consequences of leaving.

The bottom line and early warning sign is if anyone makes you feel fearful and offers themselves or their group as the only refuge; you do not need to be polite, walk or even run the other way.

Faith is a wonderful tool, but only as good as the thing into which it is placed.