Recently in New York, two siblings were severely beaten—one to death—by their parents and other members of the congregation of the Word of Life for wanting to leave the “faith.” This cult is based in a former school building in which members of the church live and congregate in isolation from the greater community.
When a group is isolated, they’re not beholden to a larger organization. If they’re part of a hierarchy, they’ll answer to other folks, so there are more likely to be other eyes on abuse and interventions into it. The more isolated a group is, the more likely violence can emerge.
Barton describes a “sin/fall” paradigm, where members of the cult are faced with psychological, emotional, and physical threats if they deviate from church ideology. She elaborates:
It excludes people, creates a climate of fear, scares participants, makes people monitor their own and other’s behaviors and thoughts, enables physical and sexual abuse, while absolving all individuals of wrong-doing since all of this is done (presumably) by divine order.