This is a word that infuriates the faithful, but according to a number of cult experts, psychologists and scholars who have looked it over, it certainly is. It has all the ingredients to accurately be labeled a cult. Briefly defined, a cult is a group or movement in which an authoritarian or charismatic, self-proclaimed leader entices members through a deliberate, seductive process and instills in them a feeling of elitism and specialness. Money is charged and a veil of secrecy enshrouds the workings of the groups leaders. In pristine cult fashion, efforts are made to block the critical thinking component of the member so that dependency and loyalty are achieved. Information (especially truth) is tightly controlled and Eckankar is riddled with thought stopping tactics. Talking to one Eckist is the same as talking to one hundred, in that you'll hear the same glib buzzwords and catchphrases used over and over. And everything said is simply something memorized from the writings. It's rare to hear an individual Eckist express their own opinions or thoughts, and rarer still for a mere member to openly challenge anything Klemp writes or says.
The student pays lip service to being a free thinker, but if you examine the process, you see clearly that nothing could be further from the truth. Klemp sets up the student's experiences, writing profusely what the experience is supposed to be and what the student is supposed to hear, see and feel. If a student's experiences don't conform to the approved party line, they are discounted as illusions of the Kal power. Surprisingly, many Eckankar students never see how easily they're being manipulated. Within this organization, the phrase marching in lockstep becomes crystal clear.
And, as in all cults, recruitment is continually emphasized under the guise of being a co-worker with the Master. To their credit, not all Eckankar members throw themselves into recruitment, finding it somewhat distasteful and not something a genuine spiritual path should be concerning itself with. Many others, though, devote countless hours to it, racking up the brownie points in order to advance quicker in the organization and carve out a name for themselves. The most successful salesmen....er......higher initiates are sent around the country to "open up" new areas for the Eck. This gives them a wonderfully effective army of unpaid salespeople.
Another point to contemplate is that there is no Graduation Day in Eckankar. In a few of his earliest books, Twitchell roundly condemned gurus who sought to bind the student to them for life, that at a certain point, all reputable teachers would turn the student loose to continue on alone. Then, in predictable Twitchell style, he turned around and completely reversed his position.
Today, under Klemp, such a notion is never even spoken of. Anyone planning on joining this organization should know that it's a lifelong commitment they expect. You will never attend your own Graduation.
" . . . each of those who are ECKists must come to the realization that they each, belong to the chosen race of the superior being. All others are aliens, that is those who have not yet voluntarily taken up the path of ECK. These aliens, as we speak of them, are, in a way, heathens or pagans who have not yet found truth. They are the agents of the Kal, and the enemy of those who are the followers of ECK."