A rebuttal to Hank Hanegraaff’s claims about brainwashing in China in his defense of Teen Mania

In my previous examination of Hank Hanegraaff’s defense of Teen Mania, I noted that Hanegraaff writes the following:

Equally significant is the fact that cult mind control as a sociological model has been utterly discredited.

If brainwashing techniques did not work in the 20th century reeducation camps of communist China, it is sophistry to suppose it to be effectively employed in the ESOAL (Emotionally Stretching Opportunity of A Lifetime) weekend retreat of TMM’s Honor Academy.

How interesting it was, then, to find the following book through my university’s library: Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control by Kathleen Taylor, published in August 2006 by Oxford University Press.

I want to quote a significant passage that rebuts Hanegraaff, but first, let’s unpack the significance of the book itself.

1. It was published recently. This is not Robert Jay Lifton’s work from decades ago. I don’t mean to suggest Lifton’s work is irrelevant, only that time has not left the topic of brainwashing behind.

2. It was published by a reputable press. Oxford University Press is about as reputable as publishers can get.

3. It was written by Kathleen Taylor, who, according to the book, is “a research scientist in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford.”

4. Better yet, “Brainwashing, her first book, was short-listed for the 2005 MIND Book of the Year Award and long-listed for the 2005 Aventis Science Book Prize.”

Now, the last nail in the coffin holding the remains of Hanegraaff’s irresponsible, shoddy research:

Taylor, referring to the United Nations’ efforts to defend South Korea during the Korean War, writes, “The United States, the major participant in this joint effort, soon noticed that something strange was happening to US troops taken captive by the enemy. Some emerged from prisoner of war camps as, apparently, converted Communists, ready to denounce their country of birth and sing the praises of the Maoist way of life. Of course, the phenomenon of prisoners forced to laud their captors was not a new one. But some of these soldiers continued their bizarre — and passionate — disloyalty even after they were free of the Communists’ grip. Unnerved by their behavior, and concerned about potential effects on morale, the US began to investigate what their CIA operative Edward Hunter had in 1950 publicly christened ‘brainwashing’. Hunter himself expresses his negative reactions very clearly in describing a victim of the strange new phenomenon.”

Taylor continues with an excerpt from Hunter’s book, also entitled Brainwashing. In that excerpt, Hunter describes the experience of interviewing someone who came out of a Maoist prisoner of war camp. After noting the “unnatural” way the former POW replied to the questions (distinguishing the replies from shell-shock or PTSD), Hunter notes, “This was Party discipline extended to the mind; a trance element was in it. It gave me a creepy feeling.”

Hanegraaff, if he has any intellectual honesty, must publicly recant the falsehoods in his defense of Teen Mania.

12 responses to “A rebuttal to Hank Hanegraaff’s claims about brainwashing in China in his defense of Teen Mania

  1. I have long recognized how thought reform (brainwashing) and also theological or the fervent beliefs of a group work on a dual track to keep a cult victim in the group. Also the late Walter Martin, founder of CRI, understood the reality of mind control unlike Hanegraaff who stole the presidency of CRI away from any real worthy successors that should have been considered after Martin’s death in 1989.
    It has been Hanegraaff with his greed and narcisistic control that has all but destroyed CRI. By the way, the psychologically recognized (see the DSM) condition, Narcisistic Personality Disorder makes the worst control-freaks and you will find that most researchers of cults (at least the secular researchers) will agree that most cult leaders more than likely suffer from NPD. I have often told people that had not Hanegraaff conned the board into making him CRI’s president 22 years ago, he would have made an accomplished cult leader.


  2. sounddoctrine2013

    What does one mean “he would have made an accomplished cult leader”, HE IS one (just ask all those who worked volunteer, or salaried past, who find themselves in James 5, admonished to be ‘patient brethren’ FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD IS NYE (and all the Hank’s of this world will suddenly have all their cultish, bullish, egomaniac desires to be rich SUDDENLY BURNED, in one hour, of one day ONLY Father knows of it’s timing, not even the Son) SO ALL THE HANK’S CAN READ “ONLY WEEPING AND HOWLING” IS IN THEIR NEAR FUTURE, without any genuine repentence by ALL cult leaders AND includes their loyal followers!


    • I have had contact with CRI employee and many more exemployees and there is ample proof that they (CRI) run the operation from what could be dubbed the “paranoid model”.

      I was grilled by their head of operations in 2000 when I called to let them them know I was working on an article for my paper newsletter
      on the legitimacy of the Hanegraaff’ presidency. I was then told to speak to Elliot Miller, who again started in grilling me as to why I wanted to write such a thing. He even tried to convince me that it was a waste of my resources. Finally he stated that since CRI did such good work would it not be best if I just did not write the piece.

      Now that they have published a 200 plus ebook on line attacking their “enemies list” of concerned Christians who find Hanegraaff’s presidency extremely objectionable (of course I am part of that list). I am very hard pressed to explain why they are not acting the part of a sociological cult. If it quacks like a duck…..


  3. Hank Hanegraaff is brainwashed so how is he qualified to speak on the subject??


  4. It’s perhaps worth noting that Hanegraaff has also endorsed the infamous “Local Church Movement” of Witness Lee, casting some pretty significant doubt on his ability to determine what is a cult and what isn’t. See http://www.apologeticsindex.org/375-hank-hanegraaff-support-the-local-church


  5. Hank’s disdain for the anti-cult movement is at least as old as ’97, and he calls upon the Passantantios for support.

    Christian and ex-member of the aberrant, cultic Great Commission under Jim McCotter wrote a rebuttal to the Passantinos’ position in ’97. The late Dr. Paul Martin founded the Wellspring Retreat and Recovery Center after becoming a top notch psychologist and anti-cult apologist, the first inpatient and accredited facility for those who were manipulated in cults and abusive, manipulative relationships.

    Paul’s brother Steven, a Licensed Counselor who works at Wellspring, wrote a reiteration of Lifton’s gold standard criteria only a few years ago, explaining how this same type of manipulation goes on in Christian churches. Perhaps Hank should read it. You can download it for free or buy a printed copy.

    The works of the flesh have remained consistent since the Fall, just as Paul pointed them out in his letter to the Galatians. All Lifton did was look at manipulative groups and note the group dynamics of the works of the flesh.


  6. I moved to Ohio in 2005 to help Paul Martin at Wellspring Retreat Center at his request. The fellow who was his cult specialist and video workshop leader needed to take an emergency medical retirement and Paul called and asked me if I would consider coming to take over that position.

    It was a great experience to work with cult victims who had left their groups. Most would come to Wellspring dazed, bitter, depressed, angry, disassociative (the most common diagnosis our psychologists would find them suffering from was PTSD). After 2 weeks of rest, counseling, workshops (music, video etc) and a healthy diet most clients would leave much better than when they came to us.

    I left Wellspring a little over a year after joining the staff and I am back doing what I have been doing for the last 36 years, researching and teaching in churches and schools on cults, the occult and apologetics. I also conduct the occasional exit counseling (helping get individuals out of thought reform [mind control] groups.

    So as many have pointed out on this blog comments area, Hank Hanegraaff does not know what he is talking about. The mind control was never disproven. In fact in the video series done in the 1990s entitled, “The Pagan Invasion” by Jeremiah Films, Hanegraaff is interviewed on the issue of mind control and says it is real. So besides being a rank opportunist (see my book,”Hard Questions for the Bible Answer Man”), a person who is completely wrong about thought reform, he is a flip flopper on important issues. After he leaves the
    cult/apologetic world (please let it be soon) he will make an excellent politician.


  7. sounddoctrine2013

    Having such large immediate family, can’t see HH leaving his present ‘cash cow’ ESPECIALLY HAVING SURVIVED ‘the Widow’s bluff’, ‘the hired’s’ lawsuits, vacatings from Cal.’court’s heat’, ESPECIALLY WHEN PERSONS SUCH AS Hank ‘firmly believing’ is ‘doing God a favor’ and ‘remaining’ in ‘MINISTRY’ (rather than attempting making ‘honest living’ needed to live the life of the one’s he makes his living off of, those other ‘ceo’s of 501c3’)!


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