Who is Recruited?

The Holic Group attracts mainly spiritually active young people, for whom faith has real meaning, and who want more than merely going to church on Sundays. Especially Christians who don’t find enough opportunities in their current congregation for their religious interest and desired involvement, or who are disappointed by the lukewarmness of some of their fellow Christians, or by churches in general, are easily impressed by the recruiting of the Holic Group. Their radical lifestyle is fascinating at first glance. Most members report that, at the time of their first contact, they were seeking earnestly for meaning in life. In general, young people and young adults with a great need for inner reflection and with temporary periods of depression or despondence (experiences of deep lack of meaning) seem to be pulled in by the group. They are impressed by the absolute certainty which the group projects. Previously, even as a Christian, the individual may have had doubts and questions; now, everything seems to be solved, and God has been clearly defined. They think that they’ve fully recognized God, and they’re certain that they won’t miss paradise any more.

For the recruits, entry into the group doesn’t mean a radical conversion in the sense of a 180-degree turn. Even if individuals perceive it as a completely new beginning, life in the group usually builds on life orientations and ideals which were already present in the member before joining the group. His or her previous efforts toward a religiously intensive and morally consistent life are simply radicalized to the point of dismissing other areas of life.

It is conspicuous, too, that the recruitment efforts target almost exclusively youths and young adults. Young people have certain characteristics which make this age group susceptible to cult recruitment. Other cults have already recognized this: e.g., being in a transitional situation, seeking life’s meaning, seeking security in a group of similarlyoriented people, seeking a goal of which total commitment is worthy, etc. Young people are also presumably in a situation to adapt their lifestyle to the group. The group argues that youths are more open to the “truth,” and have fewer bad experiences and fewer ties to the “world” (e.g., they don’t have spouses and children), making it easier for them to cut themselves off from the external world.