External Lifestyle

Life in small communes is typical for the group. These communes maintain close contact to each other. The groups of a given region meet every week, often at a parking area close to a freeway. These meetings, like the weekend trips to the locations in other countries (Prague, Lithuania, Austria, Hungary, Romania) are supposed to serve the purpose of getting to know the other ‘siblings.’ They do lots of hiking and walking, which the members enjoy greatly. Often explicit assignments are made about who walks with whom, in order to get to know each other by means of the resultant very intense conversations.

They meet daily – especially with those who do not yet live in the commune – for prayer and Bible study. This Bible study has priority and takes much time. They put great effort into spending as much time together as possible. Private matters, even personal prayer, are dismissed as a removing of the self from the community. Likewise, married couples who’ve joined the group together are not allowed to have time alone with each other. For this reason, the community and the sense of belonging to it are emphasized very intensively. There is great earnestness and sincerity among group members, even if it is doubtful whether there are any real personal relationships. This feeling of close community is amplified, too, by the breaking off of relationships with the member’s prior social network. They think that the process of salvation means separating themselves from all unbelievers and their systems. Previous friends, family, even one’s own parents and siblings, now belong to the sinful and satanic world. No close fellowship is possible with them any more, because there is no ‘spiritual understanding’ between them. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, this is justified with Bible passages like “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (I John 2:15) or “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers!” (II Corinthians 6:14). By means of these restrictions on external communications, one concentrates oneself subsequently more on the internal communication, which is then experienced as very intensive – as can also be observed in the cases of many other cults.

The lifestyle of the Holic group is very simple; they abstain from anything which is superfluous in their eyes. Indeed, such things are even considered sinful. Even if the clothing is reasonable, things are only purchased when they are absolutely necessary. Clothing is rejected if it is in any way fashionable or expensive (or conspicuous). Inside the group, one lives with communal ownership of property. Everything, including gifts received for Christmas or otherwise, is shared with the group. Despite their often minimal wages, they can afford, e.g., several vans for their missionary work. They decline to give any information about the source of the money. The licensing of the vehicles is often arranged by the ‘older siblings.’

They like to hike (often for extremely long distances) and are, in general, tied to the natural world. On weekends and in the summer, they are sometimes out in nature until late at night. For some of them, although they enjoy this, it is physically burdensome if they have a job or an apprenticeship which requires them to get up early. Environmental protection plays a big role in their moral prescriptions (e.g., skiing is considered sinful because it damages the environment).

As with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, various celebrations are rejected: private ones (one is celebrating him or herself), as well as religious ones (I should thank God every day; I don’t need an extra Christmas celebration). Sometimes the Bible also is used to justify this view, because it doesn’t mention a particular holiday. Inside the Holic Group, as well, there are no special festival days. Likewise, members don’t participate in family celebrations (even if the father of a member has a milestone birthday).

In summary, they proclaim their own lifestyle to be God’s will, and they insist that everyone else adopt this form.