Contact to Outsiders

During the phase of growing into the Holic Group, outsiders observe significant changes in the new member’s communication.

Conversational contact with previous friends and family is restricted to religious topics. If these people don’t join the group, contact with them can be broken off entirely. Within the group, the dominate opinion is that one has offered salvation to friends and family, and they can now decide for themselves. If they decide against the group, then the matter is clear, and a group member needn’t concern himself about them any more.

A Holic member has no interest in further contact: on the one hand, it’s taught that true Christians must separate themselves from all sinners (which would be everyone who doesn’t live according the Holic Group lifestyle); on the other hand, religious matters occupy a place in life and thought which controls everything else. Other things (hobbies, family, school, politics, culture, sports) seem so secondary to a Holic member that conversation about them isn’t worth it.

In the recruitment phase, the group still tries to communicate a positive image of itself toward the family of the potential member, in order to avoid possible critical reactions which could hinder the recruitment. They present themselves as a group of friends, who spend a lot of time in nature and want to live with God. Only when the member has later come entirely under their influence will the previous contact to people outside the cult be dialed back to a minimum, or entirely cut off. So strictly personal relationships occur mainly inside the group. The individual becomes all the more dependent on the group by this mechanism.

This practice is then justified with various Bible verses, like, e.g., II Corinthians 6:14-18: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? … Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing.’” The practices of Jesus, whose table fellowship with sinners was so criticized by the Pharisees, are ignored by the group, or interpreted to mean that He only did it as a temporary offer of conversion, but otherwise did not have any more permanent fellowship with them.

A Christian who, after contact with the Holic Group, doesn’t convert, is considered to be worse than an atheist, who hasn’t really heard the message. The Christian who doesn’t separate himself from “false teachings” becomes an accomplice in the misleading caused by these teachings, thereby creating greater damage than an atheist. Many times it has been observed that Holic members are more at ease with atheist family members than with Christian family members.

Despite this enemy concept, it is not to be expected that the group members are directly deceptive. Members will more likely avoid a direct answer, rather than walk away having lied. But they can work with technicalities, in which the words are literally true, but the statement means something different, e.g.: the parents don’t want their child to travel with the group out of the country on vacation days. The son promises not to go on the planned trip to Poland – but travels instead with the cult to Hungary, which was not included in his promise.

Volunteer caring activities by the group toward outsiders are (as with other cults) unknown. More often previous volunteer activities (like, e.g., caring for a disabled person) are broken off after the membership starts. Love for one’s neighbor is defined: “We find already in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 19, what love for one’s neighbor is. It says there in verse 17: ‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.’” Love is, for the group, “not some indefinable feeling, but rather the real keeping of the real commands of Jesus, the real giving of one’s life to God and to real brothers, with whom we are bound in real community.” The selfless giving is possible only toward members of one’s own community. Their service to fellow humans outside the group consists therefore of missionary work.

The individual group member is under great pressure to evangelize. Even in classrooms, at workplaces, and, at the beginning of membership, also among one’s friends, conversations always come back to topics of religion, conversion, biblical lifestyle, etc. Former members say that they really looked forward to missionary work, because they came into contact with other (normal) people. But they would have never mentally admitted this motivation to themselves during the time of their cult membership.

For the sometimes long trips for missionary work (usually in the wider area around their communal living quarters, occasionally as far as the countries of the former Soviet Union), they use vans. For this, each member should have a driver’s license. By their own admission, the vans are used vehicles purchased from businesses, and they are rebuilt by Holic members in Lithuania or Hungary (in the area of Oroszlany). Some members are skilled craftsmen. The money for this is said to come from the individual members, or from gifts from parents. No other sources of income are known. Even if that sounds logical, given the usual image of the group, some questions are still raised in the face of the number of vehicles, their good external condition, and their respectable interior outfitting.

The vans are modified so that one can also sleep in them. Occupants lie down and sleep sometimes during the trip, although it is actually forbidden by traffic laws. The group believes that they are under God’s protection during missionary work. In 1999, there was an accident in Poland in the area of Piotrków. The group was not at fault. A member in the back of the van died. Two others survived with serious injuries, and another one died later. This incident, however, seems to have changed nothing about the group’s practices.