Joe Navarro is a former FBI Agent. He worked as a special agent and supervisor in the area of counterintelligence and behavioral assessment for 25 years. He is one of the founding members of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program. The former agent studied cults and cult leaders during his time with the FBI. In an article he wrote for Psychology Today, Navarro states: “They all have an over-abundant belief that they are special, that they and they alone have the answers to problems, and that they have to be revered.
He notes that cult leaders demand perfect loyalty from followers, that they overvalue themselves and devalue those around them. They are intolerant of criticism, and do not like being questioned or challenged. Navarro writes “in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.”
Today, I found a video which has gone viral. It was recorded on May 19th, 2013, at the Immanuel Baptist Church in Skiatook, Oklahoma.
When Dr. Jim Standridge, who’s been the pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church for 24 years, noticed a congregant falling asleep during a morning sermon, Stanbridge became indignant. With an authoritarian tone he said:
Hey, Hey Hey, don’t you lay your head down,
I’m important, I’m somebody!
You stay awake and you listen to me!
He then tells the member that he loves him. But he didn’t stop there. Standridge approaches another member of his congregation, and with an angry tone says:
I noticed on the calendar I’m supposed to marry ya’ll. What makes you think I’d marry you? You’re one of the sorriest church members I have. You’re not worth 15 cents. And you want me to marry you to her?
Then says to the young man:
Stand up big boy
Shakes his hand, gives him a huge and says:
Do you know I love you?
He walks over to the other side, points his finger and yells
Do You Remember When We Made Holy War?
STAY WITH ME, DON’T QUIT ME
Without missing a beat he looks at a young mother:
Brandy’s a sweet girl and she’s got her children—
His pointing finger turns into a thrusting fist:
Yes y’all are good and y’all are fine but your children will turn on you if you don’t hold up the standard and the banner of God. And if they don’t turn on you, you’ll just produce nice little worldly-in’s.
The pastor continues his rant with another member of his congregation who videotapes the sermons. He thinks this member needs an attitude adjustment, and sternly tells the mother:
Momma, you get out of my way when I’m messin’ with that boy because I’m his preacher!
Standridge turns to address the technician in the video room and says:
If you loved me, and you submitted to me, you’d know what my heart is and my message is, and you wouldn’t go about establishing your own kingdom in the video room.
Now standing behind his podium, pastor Standridge takes a drink from a bottle of water and says:
I really feel good now.
Cult leaders work on the emotions of individuals or groups to induce fear, anger, guilt, apprehension, and/or nervous tension. They cause shock and confusion.
Here is an abridged list of typical traits of a pathological cult leader. The list comes from Agent Joe Navarro.
1) Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored or of being slighted.
2) Demands blind unquestioned obedience.
3) Treats others with contempt and arrogance.
4) Has a sense of entitlement – expecting to be treated special at all times.
5) Is arrogant and haughty in his/her behavior or attitude
6) Is hypersensitive to how he/she is seen or perceived by others.
7) Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
8) Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
9) Needs to be the center of attention.
10) Communication is usually one-way in the form of dictates.
11) When criticized he/she tends to lash out not just with anger but with rage.
12) Anyone who criticizes or questions him/her is called an “enemy.”
13) Habitually puts down others as inferior and only he/she is superior.
14) Believes himself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.
15) Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think.
16) Sees self as “unstoppable” perhaps has even said so.
17) Doesn’t think there is anything wrong with himself – sees himself/herself as “blessed.”
18) Rigid, unbending, or insensitive describes how this person thinks.
19) Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything he/she has done wrong nor does he/she apologize for his/her actions.
20) Acts imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire.
Pastor Standridge told The Christian Post that he could not care less what a few strangers on the Internet think about his message.
“It was a family meeting, not a national meeting,”
he told CP, adding that his May 19, 2013, sermon was full of grace and love.
“If you knew me, you’d know that I’m a loving, caring guy“
Agent Navarro states: “When a cult or organizational leader has a preponderance of these traits then we can anticipate that at some point those who associate with him will likely suffer physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially. If these traits sound familiar to leaders, groups, sects, or organizations known to you then expect those who associate with them to live in despair and to suffer even if they don’t know it, yet.”
The video tech who was called out for trying to “establish his own kingdom” in the video room allegedly affirmed his support for the pastor when he and Standridge ‘hugged it out” after the service. Repeating what Navarro wrote: “In spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.”
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” Source