My experience with Mercy Ministries and how it fits the BITE model for mind control

This piece by Mercy Survivor Chelsea was originally published on her personal blog, The Pink Propaganda, and can be viewed here.

I am only giving one example of each.  Although many may apply, I would like to make this as short as possible.  I will be filling in as necessary.

Source for BITE model

Behavior Control

Information Control

Thought Control

Emotional Control


1. Regulation of individual’s physical reality

a.  Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with

We were told many times to not talk to people when we were out in public. “Don’t even say “hi” to the cashier”.

b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears

I remember a new girl there being told not to make a star with eye liner near her eye, because it looked ridiculous. This girl had spent everyday prior to being at Mercy with this star near her eye.

c.What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects

This is one of my fondest memories. Probably because it happened just a day or two after my admission and I was utterly confused. One of the girls made green bean casserole, but the green beans weren’t cooked. At all. They were still crunchy. They talked EVERY single girl into eating them anyway. Despite the complaints. They were disobeying if they didn’t.

d. How much sleep the person is able to have

We were told to go to bed at a certain time and rise at a certain time, and if we slept during the day, or somehow faulted on bedtimes or wake ups, we received disciplines.

e. Financial dependence

We had no control of our money there. Whatsoever. We went to the mall and had to keep every receipt and report back to the staff. If we were missing even a dollar, a single dollar, we lost our next mall time. I would have been happy to. The anxiety over making sure you did everything right, went in the right stores, counted your change before you walked away from the counter, etc. It was just too much for me.

f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations

We had no TV. No radios. No internet. We were allowed to bring a portable cd player, with no radio attached, and Christian only CDs.

2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals

Everyday we did praise and worship. Twice a day usually. We were all huddled into a small room, given assigned seating and taught a lesson or were made to worship.

3. Need to ask permission for major decisions

Of course we had to. We had to ask permission just to walk outside or do somebodies hair.

4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors

This one actually makes sense. It was probably a good idea to. Considering the issues being dealt with.

5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative)

Have I mentioned disciplines? The things you get for stepping outside their lines at all. Whatsoever.

6. Individualism discouraged; group thinking prevails

I’ll lead you back to the star on the face story and many other stories where things weren’t “Mercy Appropriate”.

7. Rigid rules and regulations

Very rigid rules and regulations. I always thought it was just what I needed. What I deserved. I was a very bad girl, so I must deserve these rules placed on myself. And so did everyone else.

8. Need for obedience and dependency

We weren’t allowed to do anything alone. Nothing. We weren’t even allowed to be alone, period. We weren’t allowed to talk to people outside of mercy alone. (i.e Doctors, etc)


1. Use of deception

a. Deliberately holding back information

Telling us our counseling model was changed half way through because “it was time for updated stuff” but really it was because of the scandals that broke out in Australia about the old model having exorcisms.

b. Distorting information to make it acceptable

After my counselor had no idea what my psychiatric diagnosis was, she told me “Well we don’t really label people here by their diagnosis”.

c. Outright lying

Psychiatric drugs are not appropriate, mental illnesses are demons and should be dealt with so, we heal 93%

2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged

a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio

Never, none of them, except the books from their library.

b. Critical information

Another September 11th could have happened and we would have had no idea, whatsoever.

c. Former members

“Former members”- those who didn’t make it through the program were not allowed to communicate with those who were still in the program, EVER. No mail, no phone calls, nothing. When the person was getting ready to leave, they were not allowed even in the same room as another resident, or to say goodbye to anyone.

d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

Assignments. Lots of them. We were given multiple books to read at a time, tapes, cds. Joyce Meyers, Joel Olsteen, Nancy Alcorn herself. Church outtings, etc.  I never, NOT once found a spare moment there.

3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines

a. Information is not freely accessible

You will never be able to get records of care from Mercy Ministries. Try.

b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid

c. Leadership decides who “needs to know” what

You think the girls had any say? The fact that we we’re even called “girls” annoys me. All of us at my location was over 18. We were technically women. Although we weren’t “women” until we graduated the place. And then we were “women of God”. We were “Mercy Girls”. Like they owned us. Like we belonged to them. And we liked it. And that’s sick.

4. Spying on other members is encouraged

a. Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control

If you didn’t tell on yourself, you’d be told on.

b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

I once admitted I faked feinting, when I fell down the steps, so I wouldn’t get in trouble for not drinking enough. ( I restricted fluids with my eating disorder).  I remember thinking “that’s not true, why are you telling them this?” Then the next thing I know I’m telling them I’m lying, I just didn’t want to get in trouble for not drinking. I couldn’t not tell on myself. For EVERYTHING.

5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda

a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.

Need I say more (link)

b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

6. Unethical use of confession

a. Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries

b. Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution

I was consistently told I had sinned. I could never be forgiven for that time I ate a chocolate bar. The time I ran away (to find a phone) haunted me forever. It was always used against me.

Thought Control

1. Need to internalize the group’s doctrine as “Truth”

a. Map = Reality

b. Black and White thinking

c. Good vs. evil

d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

Mainstream psychiatry vs Mercy Ministries.
Demons VS US

2. Adopt “loaded” language (characterized by “thought-terminating clichés”). Words are the tools we use to think with.  These “special” words constrict rather than expand understanding.  They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous “buzz words”.

Lives Transformed, Hope Restored.

3. Only “good” and “proper” thoughts are encouraged.

4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down “reality testing” by stopping “negative” thoughts and allowing only “good” thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.

a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking-

I’m not sick, I’m not a lesbian, I’m not homesick, all of this is normal, etc

b. Chanting

c. Meditating

d. Praying

e. Speaking in “tongues”

Did this, on my own choosing, but only to please staff

f. Singing or humming

5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

Nancy Alcorn is a God to any girl that goes into that program.

6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful

Mainstream psychiatry was/is a crock

Emotional Control

1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person’s feelings.

Good____[___Not allowed here_______Bad]

2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader’s or the group’s.

I once told them I still had urges to binge and purge and preferred not to go near food alone. They told me to pray. Once I took the chocolate bar, I told on myself, then it was all my fault. I sinned.

3. Feeling-stopping (with number 4, Excessive use of guilt). Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling \”homesick\” or feeling \”depressed\” or feeling \”resentful\”.

We used to do this thing. The first 30 days you would be homesick and then it automatically stopped. You weren’t allowed to talk about it after that. It was gone. 30 days. That’s it. Then say nothing. Just follow protocol. You’re also not allowed to see anyone for leave during those thirty days, as it could cause the homesickness to prevail more.

4. Excessive use of guilt

a. Identity guilt

i. Who you are (not living up to your potential)

I never lived up to my(their) potential there

ii. Your family

I’m glad I kept my family out of it. I’ve heard that other girls cut off contact completely.

iii. Your past

Everything about it was wrong

iv. Your affiliations

v. Your thoughts, feelings, actions

b. Social guilt

c. Historical guilt

5. Excessive use of fear

a. Fear of thinking independently

b. Fear of the “outside” world

I cried the whole plane ride home because I thought I would die out “there”.

c. Fear of enemies

d. Fear of losing one’s “salvation”

e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group

Total fear

f. Fear of disapproval

Total fear

6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.

According to how close you are to dismissal.

7. Ritual and often public confession of “sins”.

Have you ever seen a Mercy Testimony (link)? It’s all their lives, spilled out for the public to see. Why? Their past lives is nobodies business. It’s their privacy. It makes me sick inside every time I see one. It’s sad in the least.

8. Phobia indoctrination : programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader’s authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.

a. No happiness or fulfillment “outside”of the group

Even if you wanted to leave, it was hard. It was near impossible. They would tell you that you wouldn’t survive out there. “Come on do you really think you can live out there?”

b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: “hell”; “demon possession”; “incurable diseases”; “accidents”; “suicide”; “insanity”; “10,000 reincarnations”; etc.

They make it seem as if you’ll die without them

c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends,
peers, and family.

d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group’s perspective, people who leave are: “weak;” “undisciplined;” “unspiritual;” “worldly;” “brainwashed by family, counselors;” seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.

“Not following gods plan” “not walking the right path” “Has chosen not to accept recovery at this time” Yadda yadda

I hope that this model has helped you to understand how Mercy Ministries Brainwashes and uses mind control. I hope it has proved some type of physical evidence, besides stories that says this place is up to no good.

Written By Chelsea