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Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric - The Hypocrisy of Queer Cult Panic

Prior to reading, please be aware of the following content warnings: mention of grooming, pedophilia, themes relating to religious trauma, and themes of hate towards the LGBTQ+ community.


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June is commonly known as Pride Month — a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and their struggle to achieve equal rights.


While some people may celebrate, others become increasingly provoked to anger as the United States continues to become more and more divisive.


As of the time of writing, The National Human Rights Campaign declared a State of Emergency for all LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States for the first time in the movement's four-decade history.


Given this fragile state of affairs, People Leave Cults sees the need to share education on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, how ideas about gender identity are sometimes misrepresented, and how someone can critically assess messages about the LGBT community.


This is the first article in our series on LGBTQ Issues and Cults.


To kick things off, we’ll be investigating an anti-LGBTQ group called The Battle Cry, which has referred to the LGBTQ+ community as "cult peddling groomers".


Why Talk About Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric and Cults?

When the term cult is misused, cult survivors can become further stigmatized. This creates additional obstacles for cult survivors who require resources for their recovery.


What doesn't fit the criteria for being a cult is the LGBTQ+ community at large.


Ironically, many anti-LGBTQ+ organizations founded on misinformation and hate do.


One of the most dangerous allegations pointed toward the LGBTQ+ community is that they are "cult peddling groomers".


If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and you just saw the phrase "cult peddling groomers", this can elicit immense distress.


If you are a cult survivor, seeing the term "cult" wrongly applied can cause frustration or distress.


Sadly, this narrative has become more and more mainstream.


One of the main reasons for this? Social Media.


Given this dissonance, it’s important to highlight and deconstruct the arguments that these anti-LGBTQ platforms use. By understanding how their messages hold up under models of coercive control, we can help dissolve their hateful ideas.


The majority of this article is a case study of one such anti-LGBTQ group — but before we dive in there are a few more ideas that we need to share.


Thought Reform & Thought-Terminating Cliches

In his book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton identified eight criteria for thought reform that cults utilize when creating a totalist system (aka indoctrination):

  1. Milieu control

  2. Mystical manipulation

  3. Demand for purity

  4. Confession

  5. Sacred science

  6. Loading the language

  7. Doctrine over person

  8. Dispensing of existence

These are different techniques used to indoctrinate and maintain power and control over individuals. We’ll take a deeper dive into a few of them in the case study below.


Alongside this, Dr. Lifton shared how these groups can utilize language and ideas to prevent someone from using critical thought. This is called a thought-terminating cliche:

"The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis." - Dr. Robert Jay Lifton

Together, thought reform methods and thought-terminating cliches can create a powerful echo chamber that breathes life into hateful ideologies.


With these ideas in mind, let’s pivot and evaluate how anti-LGBTQ hate groups indoctrinate their base through the application of Lifton's eight criteria for thought reform and thought-terminating cliches.

A Case Study on "The Battle Cry" and Anti-LGBT Messages

The Battle Cry is a group made up of three female influencers.


As of this writing, they have over 48,000 followers on Instagram and have utilized public outrage to gain interviews on TV outlets like Fox News and Good Morning San Diego.


It seems as if their central issue is hate towards the transgender community and surrounding topics such as "gender ideology" specifically. Their Instagram account also refers to the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community as a cult-like crusade to pervert the rainbow.


On their Instagram account, they call on the public to stand up against what they perceive as the "indoctrination of their children".


One of the movement's founders voiced the conspiratorial claim of having "all the receipts to show that this movement is built upon fraud and abuse."


Their anti-LGBTQ message is spreading, but is it an accurate one?

Why does this matter?

Who is listening to their messages anyway?


Peeling back the layer of public outrage they are both generating and demanding, there’s an abundance of non-factual information that is being consumed and spread like wildfire.


One example of misinformation spread by this group is regarding controversies over goods sold by the major retailer Target.


In the image on the bottom left, women who represent the Battle Cry use highly provocative language while speaking with Fox News about the "Satanist designer" behind Target's merchandise and how they were "getting in bed with the devil".


screenshots from the battle cry instagram

What's interesting about the use of this language is the incitement of moral panic reminiscent of the 1980s-1900s Satanic Panic. Language usage amongst fundamentalist Christians focusing on satanism also has common threads with the anti-conspiracy and QAnon Movement — which has been described as a cult by experts.


Let’s look further into the products from this so-called "Satanist designer" that has been accused of grooming and indoctrinating children by The Battle Cry.


Erik C (Instagram user @abprallenuk) highlighted their items that were designed for the Target Pride collaboration as seen below in the image on the left:

screenshots from the artist's instagram

The three items that were featured in the collaboration said, "we belong everywhere", "too queer for here", and "cure transphobia, not Trans people".

No demonic or satanic imagery was featured on the three items that were on display at Target.


Still, in order to effectively outrage the public and cancel this artist, The Battle Cry went back in the artist's Instagram history (November 2022 to be exact) and found a post with a t-shirt he had created that did feature satanic imagery.


The picture of the t-shirt created in November of 2022, was enough "evidence" that led to The Battle Cry deciding the following:

  1. That this t-shirt picture would be the image featured on their account regarding this artist's Target collaboration in order to create public outrage (even though it was not a part of the available items at Target);

  2. That they could then refer to the artist as a satanist sympathizer to lure in kids (even though no merchandise done in collaboration with Target had any satanic imagery, and was not marketed for children); and,

  3. Ultimately make the claim that the artist is an actual Satanist (which was debunked as seen in the image above on the right from a statement from the artist).

The result?


The artist's three items made in collaboration were removed from Target's website, and the LGBTQ+ movement and its creators are referred to as "cult-peddling groomers" on The Battle Cry's socials.


The Target backlash has been so extreme that employees have been threatened.

Videos have been circulated of anti-LGBTQ+ individuals harassing workers by publicly filming them in confrontations and by wreaking havoc in the stores.


Whether you agree with the products on display or not, these workers ultimately have no control over what is put on the merchandise floor.


Here’s the underlying point:


Outrage is a powerful tool, and The Battle Cry used misinformation in an effort to manipulate people's emotions.


And it's not just The Battle Cry using misinformation to outrage the public.


Several other false accusations were shared through social media outside that claimed that Target was selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits designed for transgender youth. Fact-checking showed that they were for adults.


Ideas like these are an unmasked an unapologetic attack on the LGBTQ community - and especially transgender people.


This kind of misinformation is used as a means of "proof" that the LGBTQ+ community is "grooming" children — which brings us to thought-terminating cliches.


Thought-Terminating Cliches Against LGBTQ People

The Battle Cry's blanket use of terms such as "cult", "grooming", and "indoctrination" are textbook examples of what Dr. Robert J. Lifton refers to as a thought-terminating cliche.


Topics surrounding different aspects of the LGBTQ+ community like gender identity, pronoun usage, sexual orientation, and gender-affirming care are complex issues.


Yet when confronted with the complexity of these issues, thought-terminating cliches bring critical thinking to a grinding halt.


The fact that The Battle Cry (and other platforms) use phrases to prevent critical thought highlights their desire for totalist thinking — a common trait of many cultic groups.


To be completely frank, the accusations they make are baseless.


Examples provided of "grooming" by The Battle Cry and other anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups do not reflect what grooming is.


Grooming is a form of coercive control, and it has been defined as,

"a tactic where someone methodically builds a trusting relationship with a child or young adult, their family, and community to manipulate, coerce, or force the child or young adult to engage in sexual activities."

Claiming that a t-shirt design on display at Target is grooming is a gross misuse of the term. It’s an inflammatory lie.


Our natural instinct is to protect children. Unfortunately terms like, "child grooming" are used outside of their original context in order to appeal to those who have children of their own.


Weaponizing these terms to push an anti-LGBTQ agenda interferes with organizations that are doing real work to help prevent grooming.


Coercive control and grooming involve inflicted patterns of abuse over a period of time in order to maintain power and control over victims. There are six categorized phases that predators take in order to effectively exert control over children, which you can learn about here.


What about the other two thought-terminating terms — “cult” and “indoctrination”?

We’ll talk about whether the LGBTQ are a cult in part two of our series.


As for the term “indoctrination” — we’re going to explore how indoctrination actually works by breaking down The Battle Cry’s own messaging.


How Anti-LGBTQ Messages Qualify As Thought Reform

To round out this case study, we’re going to look closely at a list of things that The Battle Cry want people to do during the month of June to combat the LGBTQ+ community.


You can review the full list here, or check out the image below of action steps they want people to take:


the battle cry's june challenge


Let's break down how Lifton's criteria for thought reform can be used to demonstrate ways The Battle Cry is trying to manipulate its base.


Language Loading

Action item 1. "Use Proper Terms" is a clear example of "loading the language" according to Lifton.


Teaching that "gender-affirming care is actually barbaric mutilation" is an example of giving words new meanings, and highlights once again the use of thought-terminating cliches.


It also creates in-group (The Battle Cry) vs. out-group (anyone else) separation.

This is considered a clear aspect of ‘loading the language’.


Dispensing of Existence

Action item 2. "Refuse to Use Fake Pronouns" is a clear example of "Dispensing of Existence".


The Battle Cry sees itself as adhering to the capital "T" truth. As a result, anything that tries to impede upon what they see as the truth can be pushed away, refused, or destroyed -- to dispense of one's existence.


Because they are not "saved" with their version of truth, they do not have the right to exist.


Milieu Control

Action item 3. "Research" is a clear example of "Milieu Control".


Milieu control simply means information control.


The Battle Cry calls participants to research their material, and sets up a sense of antagonism with the outside world — an "us against them". This is crucial to maintaining control of human connection with their social media environment.


Demand for Purity

Action item 4. "Bud Light" is a clear example of "Demand for Purity".


Bud Light in this instance is referring to the anti-LGBTQ group's attempts to cancel brands for featuring trans or queer brand ambassadors.


The demand for purity creates hardline divisions for what is deemed "good" vs. "evil". For adherents to this ideology, their personal responsibility is to adapt to changes in group norms and keep up with the group's pressures to conform.


For example, The Battle Cry also calls for individuals to boycott Target, Starbucks, Native Deodorant, Patagonia, and others. If you don't, according to their view, you could be supporting a brand pushing a “cult narrative”.

Doctrine Over Person

Action item 5. "Shame" is a clear example of "Doctrine over Person".


Calling on your audience to participate in shaming individuals to achieve your goals isn't a great look, but The Battle Cry believes that they are in a real-time war.

If their audience were to even question if shame was necessary, it can be turned on them as questioning or criticizing the purity of a religious diety’s strategy for humanity. Questioning such doctrine is then used as a tool to invoke a person’s inner shame.


"The pattern of doctrine over person occurs when there is a conflict between what one feels oneself experiencing and what the doctrine or ideology says one should experience."

I would like to think that kind-hearted individuals don't feel naturally inclined to shame other human beings when they don’t agree.


Planned Spontaneity

Action item 6. "Challenge Your Pastor" is a clear example of "Mystical Manipulation (Planned Spontaneity)".


The bar has been set for audiences to go to their own pawn — the pastor, with a very specific message that is to be channeled to a larger audience.


If they take these ideas seriously, participants can be actively engaged in the manipulation The Battle Cry has enlisted them to do. The Pastor in this instance has become an identifiable pawn to further spread The Battle Cry's message.


The mystical manipulator, The Battle Cry, appeals to its religious base by asking them to contact spiritual leaders who hold great authority over their communities. If successful, the hateful messages spread further.


Conclusion

This in-depth article is intended to provide education and application of models of thought reform and indoctrination.


Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is active, persuasive, and dangerous. It poses a real threat to real people — while also sidelining survivors of actual cult experience. Worse yet, it primes people to dive further into highly coercive groups.


Cult survivors need recovery resources to help them understand, process, and move forward.


People Leave Cults offers a safe space for all cult survivors — even those who are deconstructing hateful ideas about LGBTQ people.


If you want to learn more, come back soon for the second part of this series “Is The LGBTQ A Cult?”.

3 則留言


Dustin McGregor
Dustin McGregor
2023年9月02日

I couldn't get past the first few sections after the downplaying of grooming within the LGBT+ community which is well documented and founded in hard research into the subject although often neutered in conclusions for example in "The Sexuality of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3142010/ or "High Burden of Mental Health Problems, Substance Use, Violence, and Related Psychosocial Factors in Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender Diverse Youth and Young Adults" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7018588/ and you'll say sexual abuse isn't grooming when that's exactly what it is. It's written about in academia in the West all of the time. Openly discussed is the business of grooming of boys by homosexual men like the recently published, in the Archives of Sexual Behavior titled “The Elepha…


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Lanita Toelle
Lanita Toelle
2023年8月04日

Thank you So much Ashlen, I am sharing this article with a group of LGTBQ+ to help them fight the misuse of these very serious terms and misguided attribution of issues to themselves. Thank you for doing the work! you rock.

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Ashlen Hilliard
Ashlen Hilliard
2023年8月05日
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Thank you for your comment and for sharing my work!

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