Skip to main content

Church and Hypnotic Manipulation

By Michael Sherlock ~

In the third volume of my ‘I Am Christ’ series, I dedicate two chapters to examining hypnosis and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), as they apply to most, if not all, Christian Church services.

Hypnosis (Photo credit: heyjoewhereyougoinwiththatguninyourhand)
In the chapter on Hypnosis, entitled; The Magic of Modern Christianity: Sunday Morning Hypnosis, I discuss the five stages of hypnosis as they relate the average church service.

The following is a small excerpt from I Am Christ; Vol. 3: The Ascension – Understanding, which includes a brief background on hypnosis as well as the second stage of hypnosis.

Hypnosis Misunderstood

Contrary to popular myth, hypnosis is not about turning people into chickens! It is true however, that deep trance hypnosis can dramatically alter one’s perception of reality, in much the same way that meditation, prayer, long term fasting, entrancing religious rituals, or walking for miles in the hot desert. Contrary to the title of this chapter, there is nothing magic about hypnosis. A popular misconception regarding hypnosis is that it involves a sleeping state, in which the subject is covertly forced to adopt thoughts and behaviors which they would otherwise, be adverse to. The trance-state can and usually is, induced via hypnosis while the subject is wide awake; this state is known as the ‘waking trance’ and is the most common form of trance. Under this waking trance, it is unlikely even impossible, that hypnosis alone can cause the subject to think and behave in a manner that is contrary to their moral constitution and established principles. Having said that, when hypnosis is combined with N.L.P (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), it can, and quite often does, result in the changing of a person’s ideas, beliefs and behaviors. Subjects under hypnosis will usually remain acutely aware of their surroundings and may not even know that they are in the hypnotic state. The trance-state induced by hypnosis is a relaxing, slightly altered state of consciousness, which is very natural and commonly experienced by everyone almost every day. Whether we experience it during our favorite TV show or driving down a long stretch of highway, we all go into trance daily and we are seldom aware that we are in this state of slightly altered consciousness. Have you ever been in a daze while being asked questions by someone and you ended up asking them what you had just agreed to? Or have you ever walked into a room to get something and then forgotten what you had to get, once you were in the room? Because trance is a regularly experienced state of mind, it makes it hard to tell when we are going in and out of it. It is familiar to all of us yet, just as the deep sea dweller fails to notice the water around them for the fish and the coral, we take this state of mind for granted.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is essentially, a mental state**, usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction. The induction is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary instructions and suggestions.(1) Hypnotic suggestions may be delivered by a hypnotist in the presence of the subject, or may be self-administered ("self-suggestion" or "auto-suggestion").
The words 'hypnosis' and 'hypnotism' both derive from the term "neuro-hypnotism" (nervous sleep) coined by the Scottish surgeon James Braid in 1841. Braid based his practice on the earlier work of Franz Anton Mesmer, whose name is the origin of the word ‘mesmerized’. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Franz Anton Mesmer developed what is known as "Mesmerism" or "animal magnetism". He was heavily influenced by the earlier work of Father Maximillian Hell, a Catholic Priest, who had been using magnets and prayer to hypnotize subjects and had some success in healing hysterical conditions, such as hysterical blindness and similar psychologically rooted problems.

Contemporary research suggests that hypnosis is a wakeful state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, with diminished peripheral awareness. (2) This heightened state of suggestibility is the primary focus of both this chapter and the next. What and how intensely can one be manipulated to believe a given proposition, if one is under hypnosis? And more importantly, if one does not realize that they are being hypnotized over and over again; doesn’t this constitute manipulative conduct on the part of the hypnotist(s)? These two questions underscore the following investigation into the magic of Christianity.

The 5 Stages of Hypnosis

A typical hypnotherapy session contains five stages:]

1. Introduction
2. Induction
3. Deepening
4. Suggestion and;
5. Awakening.

It is the contention of this author that the same five stages can be found within most Christian church services. The hypnotic techniques employed during church sessions have served to further entrench Christian beliefs into the minds of Christian subjects and so demonstrates the mentally manipulative religious package offered by the Christian religion.

According to professional hypnotists, the subject’s mind must contain four primary criteria in order for the hypnosis to work. The acronym is known in the profession as, B.I.C.E:

1. Belief
2. Imagination
3. Conviction and;
4. Expectation

These elements are generally found in abundance in the mind of the true believing, church going Christian. Generally, those who attend church believe that their pastor or preacher is speaking the word of god, which has very powerful psychological implications and satisfies the first criteria of the list above. Further, the church goer’s imagination is engaged at almost all times throughout the service, during the singing, the sermon, the prayer and it is probably the hardest working aspect of the four criteria set out above. Next, professional hypnotists say that the subject must have conviction and the stronger the better! There is almost nothing in this world that inspires conviction, like one’s religious beliefs. The attendee is convinced that the church service is permeated by the spirit of their god, which leads to the expectation, that they will “feel the spirit.” In truth, the elation one gets from “feeling the spirit” may be little more than the pleasure and catharsis of entering a trance.

(Stage one has been taken out of this post by the author)

Stage 2: The Induction: Removing the Filter

The purpose of the induction stage is to have the subject enter a trance state.
A trance state, as mentioned above, is more often than not a state of consciousness that does not involve deep sleep, or a complete alteration of the mind. It commonly involves a slight, almost imperceptible change in focus and a light feeling of relaxation. Listening to one’s favorite music can often induce trance, along with other activities such as; driving a car, washing the dishes, watching TV and many other mundane daily activities that require little participation from the conscious mind. Once the conscious mind is dismissed from the activity, the subconscious or unconscious mind is opened. Much like a key opening a locked door, the induction stage is primarily concerned with accessing the subconscious mind via trance.

In their book Unlimited Selling Power, Donald Moine and Kenneth Lloyd, discuss the trance associated with everyday activities in the following words:

Self-hypnosis occurs frequently in everyday life and can be found in such diverse activities as day-dreaming, jogging, prayer, reading, listening to music, meditation, or even driving the freeways. Once in the self-induced hypnotic state, suggestibility is greatly heightened. Psychological barriers and defenses are lowered, and the person's unconscious becomes more receptive to new programming. (3)

The trance state is one in which the subject’s subconscious mind is brought to the surface. Subsequently, the subject in trance is more prone to receiving suggestions in a less critical fashion. This is due to the absence of the critically analytical conscious mind, which questions and assesses information upon rational grounds.

As stated by William Hewitt, in his book ‘Hypnosis for Beginners’:

The conscious mind does not take suggestions well. It is most useful for thinking, reasoning and putting into action those things it already knows the subconscious mind, however, is like an obedient slave. It doesn’t think or reason. (4)

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.
Colossians 3:22

The subconscious mind has difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality, which is why our dreams seem real at the time. During the dream state, the subconscious or unconscious mind, is not critically evaluating the probability of flying over a house in pink underwear, while being chased by a vicious dog with wings. It is happening now! It is real! It is only when we wake up that we realize it was all just a silly dream. But what happens when we don’t wake up from our subconsciously inspired fictions? This is the dilemma faced by the conscious mind of the believer. One could view the subconscious mind as the gateway to our conscious mind, allowing it to be manipulated in to believing things which it would otherwise see as irrational. Here in lies the power of hypnotic induction, when it comes to changing, molding, or maintaining irrational and unsound beliefs.

The ‘Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science’ sums up the effect of hypnotically induced manipulation upon the subconscious mind in the following terms:

Hypnosis appears to diminish the ability to discriminate between fantasy and reality, and of course it involves enhanced responsiveness to suggestions. (5)

Accessing the conscious mind via the subconscious is a little like commissioning a mutiny aboard a ship. The conscious mind is usually the captain, steering the ship and making decisions on behalf of the crew or subconscious, however when the captain or conscious mind is bypassed, the crew is given the power to alter the course of the ship. It is however, the captain alone, who possesses the necessary skills of navigation and engineering and so when the crew is directly accessed and given authority over and above the captain, the ship can be steered in any given direction and this can often result in the ship being steered off course.

I have already spoken about factors that may help induce the trance state such as, the monotonous nature of everyday activities, post hypnotic programming, the environmental impact on our state of mind and melodic music. So now, I would like to focus more on the role of music in inducing trance, as it is a common element in almost all church services and has a tremendous power to illicit an emotional response from the listener.

Music and Trance Induction

Music is an extremely effective instrument for trance induction. Most people can relate to the feeling of listening to music that either inspires or relaxes their thoughts and emotions. Music is designed to engage us at both the conscious and unconscious levels. It can make a person angry, sad, happy, sleepy, or even inspire the listener with confidence before a big event. The famous rock and roll singer, Henry Rollins once said that, he listens to a rap group called ‘Public Enemy’, before he performs, because it “gets him in the right mood”. The military uses it to entrance their soldiers and get them ready for battle and so do nations with their national anthems, which inspire an almost religious feeling in some. Members of the Voodoo religion in Haiti use it to evoke trance states and the religions of antiquity would also use music to invoke the “spiritual experience”.

Left Brain Lyrics and Right Brain Rhythm

It has been said by Psychologists that the left hemisphere of the brain is the dominant hemisphere and is responsible for our conscious mind while our right hemisphere houses our creative, intuitive subconscious and is responsible for interpreting music. Referring once again to the ‘Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science’:

The dominant (most often left) cerebral hemisphere is associated with information representation and processing, which is sequential or in series, digital, and abstract. It is characterized by analytical and logical processing that deals with detail. It plays a major role in the processing of verbal information, and in particular digital or abstract linguistic representation. Of the two cerebral hemispheres the dominant one is considered to be involved with consciousness, especially self-consciousness.

The minor (most often right) cerebral hemisphere is associated with information representation and processing, which is simultaneous or in parallel, analog, and holistic. It is characterised by Gestalt, analogical, and integrative processing, which deals with more spatial and global information and with novel (creative) or unfamiliar information. It plays a major role in the processing of naturomorphic or imagistic representations and in particular the processing of nonverbal and emotional information, spatial and pictorial information (symbols), and music and other non-language sounds. (6)

Therefore music with lyrics could be argued to target the listener’s left and right brain simultaneously. It is possible, that the left brain is being distracted by words and messages, while the right brain is being entranced by the beat and melody of the music.

It is little wonder that songs and hymns have been playing an increasing role in Christian worship, especially ‘Protestant Born Again’, Evangelical and so called Charismatic or ‘New Seeker’ Churches, as these churches lack the awe inspiring architecture of their Catholic counterparts.

In an article posted by the Unity Christian Church, called ‘Suggestions for an Effective Order of Service’, they say:

Music has a powerful ability to move our thoughts and feelings. 80% of our theology is learned in the songs we sing. Songs can be chosen that define and apply structure in the worship service so that congregants are more completely engaged in and inspired by the message of the church’s ministry. (7)

If one is to read this with an adequate knowledge of hypnosis, it becomes apparent that what they are proposing, is a more effective method of completely entrancing and evoking an emotional acceptance of the church’s ministry or suggestions. This is not a technique which seeks to impart a simple and universal truth, it is a technique aimed at overcoming the left brained rational and critical faculties, in order to take over the ship, so to speak!

The Unity Christian Church goes on to suggest the following for an effective service. Please pay particular attention to the amount of music recommended:

Here are some suggestions for music as part of a Sunday service and how to use and place other elements of your service.

1. Prelude music –usually instrumental. Prelude music sets the atmosphere you desire; sacred or upbeat. Usually 5 – 10 minutes while people enter. Prelude can also be used to teach the congregants new songs that will be sung during service. (8)

Notice they recommend the prelude music to “set the atmosphere”, while people enter. As we have already discussed this element of trance induction I will not labor the point any further.

2. Gathering song – Or Invocation. Sung by the music team and the congregation as a call to worship or to bless the space and the service. Usually sung every week, this song can be a church “theme song” about why people enjoy coming there. (9)

The dictionary definition of the word ‘Invocation,’ relates to the use of magic to conjure up spirits from other worlds. It is possible that the invocation is doing little more than having the subject enter into a trance state, so that they perceive spirits, due to the hypnotic induction and suggestion, which is compounded by their pre-established beliefs. Whether or not, we do actually contact god or the gods in this manner, is not the issue and may well be the case, however, I am looking at this phenomena from a strictly psychological point of view. As Carl Jung said; “religion is a psychological phenomenon”. Whether there are more meta-physical aspects to these techniques, is not in dispute here, as there may well be, but then Christians would have to admit that Voodoos, Hindus, Buddhists and all other religions that induce this kind of trance, via invocations, also achieve true contact with the gods!

3. Congregational singing – a mix of classic, and contemporary songs with new, message-oriented choruses sung together by the music team and congregation to support that week’s theme and establish unified presence and energy. (10)

This induction is very clever, as it involves the suggestions that will later be reinforced at the ‘suggestion stage’ or sermon and thus, the congregational singing would have a 2 pronged effect. Firstly, it would induce trance and secondly act as the foundation for repetitious suggestions.

4. Recognizing visitors – this can be done at the beginning of the service as a welcoming. Usually underscored with instrumental music. (11)

Here we have the entanglement of introduction and induction with new comers made to feel at ease and comfortable whilst the beginnings of trance induction are underscored with instrumental music.

5. Lord’s Prayer – many churches still use the Lord ’s Prayer as a familiar touchstone for visitors and those from other faiths. Unity is a Christian based faith so it is appropriate. There are many versions of the Lord’s Prayer with updated words more appropriate to our theology. The Lord ’s Prayer can be sung or spoken. It is effective leading into or out of meditation. (12)

Prayer, meditation, Lord’s prayer – contemplative music played under prayer/meditation, Lord’s Prayer can be sung by congregation with music team. (13)

This induction is recommended to occur right before the ‘deepening stage’ of hypnosis or meditation, as it is called. Both prayers and meditation can be used as effective ‘deepeners’ as well as inductions and will be discussed a little later.

6. “Special Music” solo or choir song VERY focused on the ministerial message of the day. Energy is thoughtful and specific. The song can be familiar, but needs lyrical content and musical style carefully chosen to set up the talk. The song can segue into the talk. (14)

Again, one is able to see the use of repetition and in this case the music is being cleverly placed as a segue into the talk, which will then repeat the same message. One of the secrets of successful hypnotic induction is the use of repetition. If we are told something over and over and over, we may not necessarily be convinced of its truth. However, if we have a pre-established belief and the repetition is aimed at reinforcing that belief, it will cause the subject to mentally agree with the repeated suggestion, over and over, causing an almost subliminal rhythm based submission. This is what most Christians might call “submitting to the spirit” but in actual fact, it is more than likely, nothing more than, submitting to hypnotic suggestions which reinforce their pre-established belief.

7. Minister’s message – many ministers incorporate the song lyrics into the message or pick up on an idea from the song that was just performed to “embed” the idea more deeply. You may even want to build your message around a great song’s theme or lyrics. (15)

Here they are even using hypnotic language by proposing that the minister’s message repeat the ideas in the song lyrics so as to “embed” the idea more deeply into the mind of the believer. It does not take a genius to figure out that this technique is mental manipulation at its best.

8. “Offering Song” designed to uplift, entertain and remind congregants of the topic of the day. It’s the post-message de-programming, and doesn’t have to include an actual “passing of the plate.” (16)

This is my favorite part of the service. The “hypnotic snatch and grab,” as I call it! In many services, not all, but many, music will be played while the collection plate is being passed around. During which time, the preacher, pastor or minister, will be saying something like “give to god”, “give to Jesus” repeatedly. Well he did suffer immensely and die for you! The least you could do is give him a few dollars, right! The truth is, as shocking a revelation as this might be to some Christians; Jesus does not get the money! With believers already in a highly suggestible state, the peer pressure and repeated suggestion, “give to god” places both conscious and subconscious pressure on the congregant to pay the church money. This element ties back to the theme brought up by Jordan Maxwell regarding Mother Circe bringing men into her abode, hypnotizing them, turning them into pigs and then feeding off them. Of course, not all churches pass around a collection plate, some just have an envelope in front of the pew, so that the church goer can donate anonymously. However, the collection plate is common enough to mention. Furthermore, relating back to the ‘bread of shame’ discussed in chapter 8, the congregants are entertained, given the opportunity to “get to god”, fed with wafers and wine, and so in the spirit of reciprocity, the church goer often feels compelled to give money to their church, lest they breach the compelling ‘norm of reciprocity’.

9. Children – if you are set up for it, parents should drop their children in the classrooms before service. You may allow children to enter with parents and then dismiss the children with a song toward the beginning of the service. (17)

Separating children from their parents is common to most Christian services and achieves two objectives. First, it allows the parents to zone into the service and receive the full undistracted benefits of the hypnosis session and secondly, it replaces the children’s authority figure with a church member who is practiced in indoctrinating children and takes on the role of the child’s teacher. By placing the children in a new or separate environment from their parents, the child can be influenced to a greater degree and when the child goes home, this indoctrination is reinforced by their trusted parents. There is no escape from the belief, the children are given no choice in which belief system they are to adopt, they will become Christians without ever having a chance to assess the truth of that belief for them self.

There are many denominations of Christianity each with their own slightly unique order of service, however there are commonalities between most Christian services and these commonalities are designed to mentally manipulate the participant via trance induction, so that their subjective beliefs about god and the truth never come into question. The above example illustrates some of the typical elements of most Protestant Christian services. As stated by Frank Viola and George Barna:

With some minor rearrangements, this is the unbroken liturgy that 345 million Protestants across the globe observe religiously week after week.' And for the last five hundred years, few people have questioned it.

Look again at the order of worship. Notice that it includes a threefold structure: (1) singing, (2) the sermon, and (3) closing prayer or song. This order of worship is viewed as sacrosanct in the eyes of many present-day Christians. (18)

So why is this important? Christianity, since its beginnings, has employed various forms of psychological manipulation which is focused on reinforcing the beliefs of passive believers. It demonstrates that religion, as is also the case with politics, is not about truth, but rather, it is about persuasion and manipulation.

This article is the intellectual property of Michael Sherlock, so if you would like to use any of this information, please either send me a message, or at the very least, reference me.



1. New Definition: Hypnosis" Division 30 of the American Psychological Association
2. Spiegel, Herbert and Spiegel, David. Trance and Treatment. Basic Books Inc., New York. 1978. Pg. 22.
3. Donald Moine & Kenneth Lloyd. Unlimited Selling Power How to Master Hypnotic Selling Skills. Prentice Hall Inc. (1990) Pg. 204.
4. William W. Hewitt. Hypnosis for Beginners. Llewellyn Publishers. (2003). Pg. 5 .
5. W. Edward Craighead, Charles B Nemeroff. The Concise Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science. 3rd Ed. John Wiley and Sons Inc. Pg. 452.
6. Ibid. Pg. 165.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Frank Viola, George Barna. Pagan Christianity. Tyndale House Publishers. (2008). Pg. 85.