Last Update:  8/2013

Characteristics of churches which proclaim they are the "only true church" 


  • Little to no financial transparency

  • Critical thinking and rational analysis are rejected in favor of feelings or group view

  • Discouraged or punished from reading non-church published / approved material; information tightly controlled

  • Questioning, scrutiny, doubt and dissent are discouraged or punished

  • Any questioning is an issue with the person,not the church.  Worthiness and faith are questioned while evidence ignored

  • Sayings / mantras repeated over and over (e.g. testimony meeting and five points of an LDS testimony)

  • Modern-day revelation; Claim to have restored “lost truths” and doctrines

  • Claim new revelation always trumps old revelation

  • Demand absolute obedience to church authorities

  • Members taught not to associate with apostates; they are led by Satan

  • All money, time and talents are at the disposal of the church leaders

  • Abnormal amounts of time required to be devoted to the church and related activities

  • Zealous to proselytize (not evangelize) new members

  • Eternal life in heaven earned by a faith plus [works, morality and obedience] gospel.

  • Leader(s) dictate how members should act, think, feel and what they eat, drink, read, and wear

  • Members taught to strive for perfection as an achievable goal

  • Church demands purity of members or blessings withheld / revoked

  • Loyalty displaced from Jesus to the church and its leadership.  Claim loyalty to church / leader(s) is the same as loyalty to God

  • Personal worthiness / faithfulness tied to loyalty and commitment

  • Claim the Bible is corrupted and produce their own Bible or books superior to the Bible

  • Suppress, hide, or lie about doctrines and history in order to control information flowing to members

  • Use pyramid-style doctrines (e.g. milk vs. meat and line upon line, precept upon precept)

  • Claim all material critical of the church is a "lie" or "out of context" or "anti-[insert church name here]"

  • Claim exclusivity in being the “only true church” on the face of the earth (Elitist mentality) 

  • Claim eternal life in heaven is impossible outside their church

  • Claim leadership is not fallible, yet they are unaccountable

  • Claim religious persecution proves they are the true church.  Impose us vs. them mentality

  • Apostates leave the church because they "want to sin," are "weak," "lost" and "are being lead by Satan"

  • Sins are not forgiven without absolute obedience to authority

  • Impose fear, shame and guilt to coerce members into conforming to the rules of the church

  • Leadership imparts phobia indoctrination (fear) by teaching if their church is not true, then there is not a true church

  • Leadership imparts phobia indoctrination (fear) by claiming there is no happiness outside church

  • Leadership imparts phobia indoctrination (fear, guilt, shame) claiming you will loose family for eternity if you leave the church

  • New members are "love-bombed" by other members and leaders and made to feel they are special and favored by God

  • Ex-members shunned and teach those who leave will have bad things happen to them

  • Demand major financial commitments.  Greater blessings, spirituality, or higher levels of heaven promised.  "Giving to get" result from demands

Some to all of these characteristics are found in many churches today including:   

-      Jehovah’s Witnesses
-      The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

-      Oneness Pentecostal
-      The Church of Scientology
-      House of Yahweh
-      The Philadelphia Church of God
-      International Church of Christ
-      Iglesia ni Cristo
-      Christadelphians
-      The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
-      True Jesus Church
-      Unification Church (The Moonies)
-      Christian Science

-      Seventh Day Adventists

As a former Mormon, I can now clearly see how the LDS church implements a varying degree of every single characteristic I listed.  However, all true Christian churches do not possess any of the listed characteristics.  Most people do not realize these subtle or even outright reform characteristics which occur within their church or organization because they have either 1) grown up in the organization and this is all they know, or 2) they want to be accepted by the church or organization so they don't "rock the boat." 

These are all proven psychological techniques organizations will use to manipulate or influence their followers.  All of these techniques also shut down a person's objective, rational and critical thinking so they can't easily identify they are being manipulated/influenced.  Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress which occurs when people hold at least two beliefs contradictory in nature at the same time.  Psychiatrist and Philosopher Frantz Fannon stated the following on cognitive dissonance:

With a very personal and sensitive subject as religion, people will protect this belief by rationalizing or selecting only the information which confirms their beliefs (confirmation bias).


Cognitive dissonance suggests when a person becomes manipulated in one of the B.I.T.E areas, the other areas need consistency (consonance) and will change over time to reduce the dissonance.  Once this occurs the person is under control and can easily be manipulated.  Becoming susceptible to these proven techniques is not a matter of education, intelligence, status, wealth, etc. as it does not discriminate.  It does not matter if the organization is perceived in a positive or negative light.  Everyone is susceptible and this is exactly why we question and test everything as the Bible exhorts to us so we don't fall prey to false religious movements.


You may believe there is no way you could be under mind control as I have heard this before.  Realize thought there is nobody involved with any of these types of organization's who would raise their hand and acknowledge they are under mind control.  None of the people who were in Heaven's Gate would have believed they were under mind control as they followed their leaders teachings that a spaceship trailing the comet Hale-Bopp would take their souls to another level of existence above human after they committed suicide.  Tom Cruise and John Travolta would vehemently disagree that they are under mind control even though they firmly believe in some of the craziest teachings of Scientology.  Below is a great video demonstrating the B.I.T.E model control techniques.  This video is under 30 minutes and describes the B.I.T.E model and gives several examples of usage in the LDS church.

By implementing even some of these characteristics, people within the organization will begin to develop a bias towards the organization they are involved with.  This is called conformation bias.  Conformation bias occurs when people will favor the information which confirms their beliefs.  The information they gather and recall is selective or can be when they have a biased interpretation of the information.  This effect is magnified for emotionally charged topics and beliefs such as religion (Wikipedia).

Through varying degrees of characteristic application combined with church acceptance, approval and sense of worth mixed with requirements of high morals, values, works and moral conformity can make it very difficult for people involved to recognize the danger. 

Is searching for truth enough to remove any biases you have for your organization so you can view and objectively test it?  This is not meant to tear down your faith, but simply to help you see what your faith is placed in.  If your faith is in a false organization, then do you have a false salvation?  If your faith is placed in a false Jesus, can a false Jesus save you?  If the organizations were what they claim (true), then why do they keep their members from objective investigation?  If the organization is true, then all one should find is truth in objectively searching.  The truth is there is a huge reason and incentive for the organization to hide, suppress or filter information to their members - to hide the truth for financial gain.

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