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Ever-changing policies and crisis management

Cults like CFCMI don't have a lot of written rules for behavior and policy - it's just a big amorphous body of tribal knowledge. If you're not in the loop, you often find out the hard way that a policy changed last week when you were out sick or had to work late. "The hard way" usually involves a "rebuking," which is CFCMI-speak for a good chewing out.

The Phone Attendant - This is probably a CFCMI-specific title; otherwise known as secretary, phone answering service, general lackey. Whoever is fortunate enough to be expected to answer the phone enjoys close personal interaction with the leadership. Sometimes a little too close. :) In a two month period in Norfolk, the policy of what to do with messages for the pastor changed like this: (1) "Leave the message on his desk," (2) "Don't leave it on his desk - it gets lost in the mess. Just give it to the office manager," (3) "For God's sake, don't give it to the office manager, he always forgets to pass it on. Just leave it in the carousel on the phone desk," and finally (4) "What! Don't you know not to leave it in the carousel?!?!" I think it might have cycled back to being put on the pastor's desk, but I'm not sure.

Some of these situations are funny now, but they weren't at the time. Members are often made to feel as if they've failed God by making a simple mistake in ignorance. In no other environment can management chew out their underlings in such a way - few people would tolerate such a work enviornment. Yet in cults it's commonplace, perhaps because it helps keep members submissive and off-balance. You never know what to expect when the pastor calls you to his office - he might want to congratulate you or give you the worst verbal beating of your life. That makes people afraid, and much easier to control.

We'll add more things here later; as always, if you have any ideas, let us know.

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