Some may laugh or scoff at a comparison of the power structure within fundamentalist movements with the mafia, but frankly, it's the best comparison I can come up with...and it fits. Allow me to explain...
The mafia's leadership operates in the shadows, reliant on the reverence to the pyramid structure of those under the don and his captains. There are many openly known rules within the organization, yet many more unspoken rules that are merely accepted. One guy at the top selfishly benefitting from the blind loyalty of his captains and underlings and from the loss of others, whether that loss is material, emotional, loss of freedom, or even life itself.
It creates a demand, then it demands to meet the demand. For instance, it may approach business owners with an offer of "protection" for a certain price. The protection needed turns out to be from them - in the event you fail to come up with the money they request. If you don't play by their rules, they'll make your life a hell on earth, destroy your business, level personal/physical threats, and if necessary, follow through on those threats. No part of your life or means is immune, including the people around you (whom they'll use to try to get to you). They'll even conspire to use legal institutions against you - the institutions that are genuinely supposed to protect you from people like them.
All the business owner is guilty of is existing within the syndicate's sphere of control. And God help him or her if they begin to thrive or prosper in their business or influence, because the syndicate can't tolerate ANY potential power to emerge, even if it's just an influential merchant with a strong reputation.
In my dealings with a group of hyper-fundamentalists, I've seen how a father raised his children (particularly his daughters) in such a way as to create dependency on his "authority". For instance, if you want to control a daughter's choice of men through a process such as courtship, there's no better way to accomplish this than to raise her to be insecure, indecisive, afraid of her own shadow emotionally and convinced of the wickedness of her heart, and indoctrinating her to believe that any means other than courtship can't be blessed of God. Make her need you. Create the demand, then demand to meet the demand. And it's all based on the notion of "protection". If you fail to comply, life becomes very hard very fast. People can debate intent, but many of the men fervently carrying out their patriarchal practices won't stop short of killing the spirit of a son or daughter (daughters particularly) to maintain their control. My ex-fiancee's father was trying to "protect" her from people and things which pose a threat to him. Her well-being had little to do with it.
Most of the more radical fundamentalist movements - Gothard, Vision Forum, and the like - operate through a pyramid structure of authority. One guy at the top who answers only to God. His group of captains (pastors) who answer to him. Then, the poor underlings who answer to all above them, reduced to living their lives under the whims and commandments of men. You need their permission to take your next breath...simply for existing within their sphere of control. If you in any way buck the system?...
In the last two years, one very troubled man, a man who is a slave to the hyper-fundamentalist Patriarchy movement, and a group of his willing accomplices, have attempted to make my life a hell on earth. Tampering in my professional environment, from starting and promoting patently false rumors about me to writing to high ranking officials within the genre of the music industry in which I'm involved (including those closest to me), and in doing so disrupted my ministry in which I was serving as a pastor, ultimately causing me to leave it so they'd leave those around me alone. Police from the other side of the continent have called me and local police have been sent to my home for no reason, as a false complaint was lodged against me. Just a couple of months ago, a man threatened to rip my leg off if I ever step foot outside of the state of North Carolina, among other choice words. The worst, nastiest things ever said to or about me by other humans have been said by these people...and all of them false.
All because I wouldn't, and still won't, bow the knee to Baal. All because I wouldn't take spiritual direction from the commandments of men. All because I wouldn't make peace with what I see as evil.
A couple of weeks ago, in the comment string of a post on Quivering Daughters, Karen Campbell of thatmom.com made an observation about the people at the forefront of these movements, noting that it was largely about money, power, and control, and she noted the evil, corrupt means to which they'll go to maintain it. She was spot on.
It's a syndicate.