Cult Checklist

Does the LC/RC possess any of these features?


By Michael Langone, Ph.D., Executive Director, International Cultic Studies Association


The Cult Checklist was composed by Dr. Langone and other experts in the Cultic Studies field, including Janja Lalich whose 2006 reworking of “Captive Hearts, Captive Minds” is cutting edge and readable:
“Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships”


1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.
2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
3. The group is preoccupied with making money.
4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
5. Mind-numbing techniques [such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines] are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader[s].
6. The leadership dictates -sometimes in great detail- how members should think, act and feel [for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe what type of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth].
7. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leaders and members [for example: the leader is considered the Messiah, or an avatar; the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity].
8. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.
9. The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities [as are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations]. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group [for example: collecting money for bogus charities].
10. The leadership induces feeling of guilt in members in order to control them.
11. Members’ subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family, friends, and personal group goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.
12. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.
13. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

[This list was composed a couple of decades ago and has become a classic, widely quoted, as in Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Landau-Tobias & Lalich, Hunter Press, 1994, Appendix, pp 276-7]


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