I found this among my documents and figured that with a bit of editing, it was a great post. What follows is a two fold post: The first is to explain the analysis of Steve Hassan’s BITE model with my direct team. I edited all the real names out of this, but this is exactly what I experienced. Steve did his own BITE analysis based on all his research and clients. His is probably a more general, being influenced with a mess of various lines of sponsorship (his is probably better). Mine is simply my own experience as it compared to the BITE model. The second purpose of this post is to detail the events that transpired my leaving of the Britt World Wide group. This is my experience, and may be different than other peoples; please comment below if you have a similar or different story about how you left!
This was originally written as a letter to two of my best friends and the ones whom I would consider my mentors in life. This was written as a primary confessional about my involvement in this cult, and it detailed why I left and where I go from here. Sorry for the length, especially since I post to this site several times a week, I understand that it is burdensome to keep up, but I also catalog things in the index so you can read by topic.
Keep in mind two more things as you read this: 1. It is very choppy because I was going by Steve’s bullet points; not even keeping tabs on grammar and 2. It was a letter written to two specific people.
Here is the start of the letter (I linked in significant points):
God’s grace is the greatest. Humility is the key. As James says, God is opposed to the proud and gives grace to the humble. God, in His grace, has showed me an issue that I am sure you knew about, but you let it go since I was growing in the Lord. The problem was this: The business system I was involved in is a cult; one of the more dangerous ones as far as impact. I will explain why it is a cult and how I was removed, and what I do now for a ministry.
The Cult Aspect
I will draw on Steven Hassan’s BITE model. First, many Christians have lost the concept of a cult since they only tend to focus on the religious aspects of a cult. All of them are dangerous to the person because they draw you away from the Truth. I will speak in the phenomenological about cults which are modeled in psychology.
There are four types of cults:
- Religious. A religious cult is a cult system which emphasizes a way of “Spiritual Salvation” apart from Scripture. JWs, LDS, Moonies, The Way, etc. These claim to be the restored church and often use the Bible, however, they twist interpretations or add additional writings or their own special translations.
- Political. These are cults that focus on using Politics to attend their means (Most cults actually do this). They tend to operate using threat tactics designed to keep the people in line. Like ALL other cults, they often have “phobia indoctrination” to scare someone from leaving the system. Political cults tend to be the most physically threatening. A good example of this is the “Operation Mayhem” depicted in the popular movie “Fight Club.”
- Social / Therapeutic. These are often disguised as self-help groups or other non-affiliated groups of simply ‘friendships’. These and commercial are the least physically threatening to the body, but often the most psychologically damaging due to the fact that you simply can’t see the abuse. This could be compared to a dysfunctional home (which is often classed as a social cult) where physical abuse is not present.
- Commercial. These are cults that focus primarily around business matters, making money, etc. This type of cult is often attached to Network Marketing businesses. Some cults infiltrate corporations though giving motivational lectures and can actually end up using the corporation to fill their ends without the company ever knowing it.
You can see why we have a problem on our hands. The modern church, being broken into upper story / lower story is only focusing on the religious cults while the rest of them are free to graze the landscape. Although the religious cults promote a “Spiritual Salvation”, all the cults promote a form of salvation.
Here is a very brief outline of Steven Hassan’s BITE model:
B- Behavior Control
I – Information Control
T – Thought Control
E – Environment Control
Here is a brief outline on how the Britt World Wide (BWW) system, which I was a part of, is a cult. It is paragraphed from the bullets of the BITE model, so it may appear to be graining; certainly not my usual style of writing.
Since this is a ‘business’, there is a subset of ways to act and conduct yourself. Since this is a commercial cult, it is not forced, but if you want to succeed, you will do what the leaders tell you to since they are successful and you are not. These activities include how to dress, hairstyles, etc. These things are not intrinsically wrong; it is a healthy thing to conduct yourself in a kind and neat manner.
Next, there is a major time commitment for indoctrination. Some teachers in BWW literally say no music, it will not help you succeed, TV and news is bad. They also said at one point that the people on the front line serious about the business don’t need to worry themselves with anything in the world, if there is something you need to know, the leaders will pass it down on Kate (the voice mail system), contrast this with not worrying about the world in God’s eyes relying on Him, not a series of leaders in a system.
‘Counseling upline’ is critical. You never make a decision without first talking to people upline. If there are any bad feelings, thoughts, or anything else that you have, you never take those to anyone except your upline.
Rewards and recognition is critical in the system. You get recognized for the littlest of good behavior and then you get paraded around on it as an example. I remember when I received my 1000 pin, the Emerald sought me out to talk. I thought it was odd that he never talked to me before or after.
You ever do anything without checking upline first. This is of course since the system has been tried and proven; anything new may have been tried and therefore does not work. This also is the works based salvation system: The system works if you work it, therefore, if you do not work it, YOU are the failure. The group is always right, the individual is discouraged.
You need to be dependant on the upline. It is drilled into people that the upline is the only source that is good for you. The downline does not help you, only the upline. This is particularly interesting since all the money one gets is from the downline. Thus, they are trying to keep you from recognizing the true dependency. I recall my upline EDC constantly correcting my Platinum on this matter. The Platinum was a nice guy that wanted to give the credit to the group; the EDC would not stand for that.
The leaders hold back information that would be useful to know. In my particular case, I found out two years into the system that I was charged sales tax on retail price, not wholesale. I asked about this and he said that it only amounts to a ‘few dollars’, so it is not worth the time. I thought about this and realized that if he is holding back this info, what else is he holding back? There are a lot of things they are holding back, check the internet for these things.
It is discouraged to read news, listen to music, and especially read any critical information about the group. Such information is written by people who are not ‘enlightened’ to the truth of the business model. It is discouraged to spend any amount of time with people who have left the business, though in this commercial system, it is not an often talked about one. You should still see if they are interested in buying the products.
Everything is compartmentalized into insiders and outsiders. The members are told what is good and what is not. There is a booklist (interestingly, Word-Faith leaders Normal Vincent Peale, Robert Shuller, and Charles Capps are among the book list). There is also information that is restricted to the leaders. You get this information by doing all the performing you can and then being invited. The leaders are the ones who decide who needs to know what.
The system has a ton of information that the ‘successful’ ones will plug into. In the BWW system, this includes mostly tapes and some literature. There are a few books written by the insiders, but mostly they are taken from the outside and called ‘good’.
The use of goals and dreams are extensive. From the presentation of the plan to the core of every meeting is the dream. You talk about your dream all the time. This keeps you plugged into the system and moving along, often to your own demise. If you ever entertain the notion of quitting, your very own dreams are paraded in front of you. You are made to feel bad for wanting to give up all that good stuff.
The major component of success is to internalize the truth, that is, what they claim reality to be. The thoughts are made to be very black and white so that you are either on the good side (in the system) or the bad side (out of the system).
Implicit in thought control is the use of loaded language, a sort of sub vocabulary that people inside the system know. As such, I can listen to a person talk for a while and determine if they are involved in a network marketing business because they all tend to speak the same way, though there are different ‘dialects’ intrinsic to each system. There are such phrases as “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”, which was adapted from the outside, but is mostly a phrase used in these systems. There are tons of words, I don’t have a list of them at the moment.
A critical part of the thought control is to minimize thoughts that don’t promote being perfect, great, happy, or super. I can remember a crossline Q12 constantly saying “It doesn’t matter HOW you feel; if you are in here, you are SUPER”. What if some one just passed away? What if you are in serious health challenge? This is simply denial. When you encounter such thoughts, you use thought stopping techniques to minimize them.
Finally, there is no questioning the system or the leaders, since it is proven and the leaders are successful. If there is a disagreement, it means that you do not understand that issue yet and that is why you are not successful, too. When you come to the knowledge of that truth, this is when you will start to take off and grow.
As mentioned above, the best way to emotionally control a person is to limit their range of feelings. Any feeling outside this range is bad and must be stopped with the thought stopping techniques.
Since the system is proven, anyone who is not succeeding is the one at fault. This keeps people emotionally down and dependant on the leaders to teach them how to have the good things in life. Guilt is used here. Wayne Callender said on a teaching tape that if a person comes to counsel and says that he is serious, Wayne will pull up the persons Ditto delivery (an automatic delivery system) profile and ‘see how serious that person is’ (After all, if you are truly serious, you will have 100-300 PV automatically shipped to you every month). He will use guilt to whip someone into line. He is not the only leader that does this, most of them do. If you don’t, you don’t understand that point yet, you get the idea. (Wayne Callender, “Man are you Ugly”, RJM26)
Identity guilt is very commonly used. As a person in my own downline told me once “I got to my house and looked and I thought, my father has worked hard all his life and this is all he has”. Identity guilt has the aspects of first, you are not living up to your potential (since you are not wealthy or you have a J.O.B. (a phrase used for work which means Just Over Broke, or sometimes Jackass Of the Boss; this is one of those loaded language phrases); Your family can’t help you since they don’t have anything either; Your past life is full of mistakes, so you need us to keep you in line; Your friends can’t help your bank account so you can’t trust them for good counsel; your thoughts, feelings, and actions will betray you. It all boils down to follow our system and all things will go well for you.
I already mentioned ‘phobia indoctrination’ which is instilling a fear about ever leaving the system. There are many, many forms of this in BWW, mostly how broke and sad you will be if you ever leave. The greatest example of this is the statement that I heard from Rex Renfrow at every single conference I attended: “Why would God NOT want you to do this; you have time, money, and are helping people.” The point of this is to make you feel shunned by God if you ever leave the system.
How I was removed from the system
God certainly used a portion of this system for His will. I have said it before; God is so sovereign that He can even make use of our stupid choices. I guess I first started to break away from the system last August (2004). I had finished the bulk of the therapy work I was doing for my dysfunctional background, I was starting to work children’s ministry at boys club, just starting BB/BS work. There was another ‘attitude meeting’ from the Executive Diamond in my upline in Erie. I left work on August 27, 2004 to go up there, but the car had other plans, as it lost all power on the way. I believe that this is the will of God at work. I was able to get back home, so fortunately I missed the indoctrination meeting, whoops, I mean the attitude meeting. I was a little mad that I was ‘missing all that good stuff’. I took the car to the mechanic and he told me it was the transmission among other things, that for a 10 year old car, it would be better to get a new one. This is when I started to look for a car. I couldn’t buy a car with cash, so I had to finance one; there went all that money for the BWW system. The short end of it is that God broke me financially to get me out of the system. I was by this time listening to several different sermons by RC Sproul, Chip Ingram, Ravi Zacharias, and Adventures in Odyssey, so I was able to replace the tapes I used to listen to (the sermons were full of so much that I desired them other the system tapes). I was not able to make it to the next conference, and I was working in children’s ministry so much that I did not desire to build the business system anymore. [Also of note, the first few times that I listened to Ingram or Odyssey at work over the BWW tapes, I actually felt guilty.]
The next step came when I was sitting in the church lobby after club (It was February or March). I was talking to two kids before they both left. I simply did not get up yet when a person who is new to the church came over and introduced himself. I can’t remember the whole of the conversation, but I told him of some of the work I do and how many more plans I have for the work I do with dysfunctional kids, etc. He said “I have a business that can help you get those resources”. I was immediately turned off, and then I realized that he did the same thing that I used to do. This conversation started me into looking into all this in more detail.
Consequences of the BWW System
Looking back, I think about all the things that I did in the name of ‘business’ and it is very sad. The BWW is one of the worst because the System costs money to participate. Though it is ‘optional’, you certainly participate because you want to succeed. It is a classic catch 22. I got out my records and I found that I spent over $11,000 in four years on system expenses alone. BWW is what is referred to as a “Shadow Pyramid” by those studying these systems. The money is made by moving motivational materials through the network. I have found that many people have been hurt by this thing.
I have studied these Multi-level marketing companies and found that there are many problems with them. It is certainly not a Christian thing to do because you end up alienating many people on the way. After looking into these systems, I go online to discussion boards and tell about what they do (there are many people who do this, of course they are all viewed as broke losers by those still in the system thanks to phobia indoctrination). I take the particular stance of how these are against Christianity.
I have abstained from including scripture verses to support my view here because first, I know you are solid enough to understand what I am saying, and second, this letter is long enough. I am working on a totally detailed account of this situation that I assume is going to be long in the writing and page number [This has been completed and posted on this site here]. I plan to send that on to a whole host of online sources publishing data on these systems. God will be glorified in all this.
Peace In Christ