Is Pensacola Christian College A Cult? – Part 2

This will continue my PCC series “Is Pensacola Christian College A Cult.” As in the first part I will directly compare my time at PCC with the BITE model. With this post focusing on “Information Control.”

  • Information Control
    1. Deception:
      • Deliberately withhold information
        • I would argue that this was pervasive within the college.
        • It was very hard to know what was true or not. The college was the ultimate authority as to what was true or not.
    • Distort information to make it more acceptable / Systematically lie
      • One of the most major instances I recall of this was that the college had an accusation of mishandling of a victim of sexual abuse. They denied the whole event ever happened and slandered the victims character. See Samantha Fields blog for this.
    • Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
      • a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, media
        • The college could and would censor or destroy incoming mail and media. For instance, any Victoria’s secret adds that college students would receive would be destroyed. Magazines were also subject to this; although I can say private mail was never opened. Emails were monitored and wouldn’t be sent or received if an inappropriate word was detected. (You weren’t even allowed to have a non-filtered email address. And sites like Gmail and Yahoo mail were blocked)
        • All books, magazines, and media were subject to the college’s approval.
        • No outside news stations, TV, or newspapers were on display at the college. And links to online news stations were often blocked.
          • You also weren’t allowed to watch TV of any kind. So you couldn’t watch the news.
        • TV and Movies were all banned on campus. Expect for a small pre-screened collection at the college library. You would receive a large number of demerits if you were caught watching any other TV show or movies.
        • Music. All “secular” music was strictly forbidden, and headphone use was not allowed as to help the enforcement of this rule. All Christian music had to be in an approved style and it couldn’t have a rock, rap, or pop sound.
        • Students were also forbidden from using off campus libraries. Unless directly approved by staff e.g. nursing students were allowed to use a couple of hospital libraries for class projects and reports.
      • Critical information
        • I remember in college looking for a specific book – Not Even a Hint by Joshua Harris. The book was deemed “too explicit” and was reserved for staff only. Keep in mind this was a book by a conservative Christian author on the “sin of lust.” And they had other books by this author available.
        • I would also argue that college would withhold any information regarding evolution. College textbooks, library books, and college courses were only allowed to express a young earth creationist view.
        • History also was centered on what the college called “a biblical worldview” which warped much of what they taught and allowed into the college. History that wasn’t compatible with the idea of a 6000 year old earth would be banned.
      • Former members
        • All blogs or sites critical of PCC were blocked (these were all written by former students). And anyone found to be viewing these sites could received discipline (demerits) for viewing these sites.
        • I previously posted the images and materials from archived blog “student voice.”
      • Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
        • In my last post I discussed this in depth. The college allowed students little time off, and as a whole had the idea that any idle time could lead to students causing trouble
        • Summer break was the only spring semester break given to students, but students were required to attend PCC’s bible conference during that time. It occurred over three days with students attending two morning and three evening services every day. Fall semester only had a one day break – Thanksgiving. And the day of Thanksgiving had several required events you had to attend.
        • I know this has lessened somewhat since I attended. But the blog post is being written to accurately reflect the time I attended the college.
      • Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
        • In years past this would have applied to cell phones, but PCC allowed cell phones by the time I attended the college.
        • However, the only available internet on campus was heavily monitored and censored. And you were not allowed to have any source of non-censored internet. Common sites like youtube were completely blocked. And social media as whole was blocked for several years I attended. I believe this ban was. for some social media sites, partially lifted my junior year (2013). Though your social media presence was subject to review by student life. Any controversial statements or posts could lead to punitive action by the college. Student life and the college could use anything from your internet history to give demerits or expel you from the college.
        • Bringing in a personal example. At PCC I was engaged to my fiancée. And we both were trying to sort out some fairly basic sex ed before we got married. Neither of our families provided any education there. I was able to use a VPN to look up a Christian sex ed site “To Love Honor and Vacuum.” If the college found out that either me or my fiancée were looking up information on sex we could have both been expelled from the college. Even though we were engaged to be married. (We were married two days after our college graduation).
    • Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
      • Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
        • Information about how the college is run, what their plans are, and how much money the college has is a well kept secret that only higher level staff would be aware of. For a non-profit company this is a bit unusual.
    • Encourage spying on other members
      • Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
        • The college made it clear that if you ignored another person’s “sin” you were also at fault. And you could be found “guilty” just by being aware of another persons wrongdoing.
        • For instance, if you knew your roommate was sneaking off campus with a girl and you didn’t tell the college you could also potentially get expelled if the college found out that you refrained from turning the couple in.
        • The college made use of an extensive video camera system, and would record the whole campus. They employed students (in good standing) to monitor the camera systems and report any wrongdoings. Many students were kicked out for their actions recorded on camera.
    • Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
      • Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
        • I would argue that the extensive use of curriculum made and sold by Abeka (within the college) was part of this. As they didn’t really want to portray any other viewpoint on history, English, or science that they didn’t agree with.
        • College students were also required to attend and watch all services / sermons even if you had work or school during those times.
      • Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
        • This I know to be true. Especially as I read through their comments on other religions and those with different pollical views. Many other religions or denominations, even within Christianity, were portrayed as cults. As they differed from the college’s view on what doctrine was acceptable.
    • Unethical use of confession
      • Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
        • Anything you told a member of staff could be used against you or any person you mentioned. And if a person was getting kicked out they were often pushed to tell staff about any other students who had participated in non-permitted activities.

Part 1

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