May 31, 2020

CultNEWS101 Articles: 5/28/2020

Podast, Cult Mediation, Patrick Ryan, Covid-19, Synanon, Stanford Prison Experiment, First Pentecostal Church, Terrorism

This Podcast Will Save The World: Episode 5: Cults

"Interview with 1BR writer/director David Marmor and Cult Mediation Specialist Patrick Ryan discusses how cults operate and how to intervene when someone needs help"
"35 of the 92 people (38%) who attended services at a rural Arkansas church March 6–11 tested positive for the coronavirus, ultimately killing three, according to a case study released Tuesday by the CDC.

Why it matters: Places of worship continue to be a problem for controlling the widespread transmission of the coronavirus, especially as some churches and local government officials push to loosen restrictions on religious gatherings."

Datebook: Putting the pieces back together after escaping a California cult at age 5
"In 1995, a decade before Mikel Jollett became the frontman of the indie rock band the Toxic Airborne Event, he was a 20-year-old Stanford student enrolled in the university's popular Psychology of Mind Control course taught by Philip Zimbardo (of Stanford Prison Experiment fame).
Jollett remembers devouring the entire syllabus, reading about Jim Jones' Peoples Temple and Vietnam prisoner-of-war camps and thinking, "It all feels familiar, like reading your own family history," the singer-songwriter and former music journalist writes in his mesmerizing new memoir, "Hollywood Park," out Tuesday, May 26.
Unlike most of his classmates, Jollett wasn't learning about cults with an intellectual curiosity about why people fall prey to charismatic leaders.
For him, the class was personal.
Jollett was separated from his parents at 6 months old and spent the next four years being raised by strangers at the Church of Synanon's ranch in Tomales Bay.
Founded in 1958 as a tough-love drug rehab program for hardened addicts (like Jollett's father, Jim, an ex-con who kicked his heroin habit at Synanon), the self-help community morphed by the '70s into an increasingly violent cult with centers throughout California and $3 million in assets.
True believers shaved their heads, wore overalls and obeyed Synanon founder Chuck Dederich's diabolical protocols and penchant for social engineering. There were forced divorces and repartnerings, mandatory abortions — and the inhumane practice of separating infants like Mikel from their parents."

NY Times: Church That Defied Coronavirus Restrictions Is Burned to Ground

A message at the scene that said, in part, "Bet you stay home now," has led the police in Mississippi to suspect.
"The burning of a church in northern Mississippi this week is being investigated as arson because of a spray-painted message at the scene that seemed to criticize the church's defiance of coronavirus restrictions.
First Pentecostal Church had sued the city of Holly Springs, Miss., which is about an hour southeast of Memphis, arguing that its stay-at-home order had violated the church's right to free speech and interfered with its members' ability to worship.
After firefighters put out the blaze early Wednesday, the police found a message, "Bet you stay home now you hypokrits," spray-painted on the ground near the church's doors, according to Maj. Kelly McMillen of the Marshall County Sheriff's Department.
A photograph of the graffiti also appears to show an atomic symbol with an "A" in the center, which is sometimes used as a logo for atheist groups."

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources. resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

CultNEWS101 Articles: 5/30-31-2020

Lev Tahor, Israel, Child Abuse, Doomsday Groups, The Order of the Solar Temple, Podcast, Transcendental MeditationDaati Maharaj, Covid-19, ShincheonjiThe Prophet And The Space Aliens

Yeshiva World News: Lev Tahor Cult School Principal Indicted In Jerusalem For Child Abuse
"On Tuesday, in the Jerusalem District Court, an indictment was filed against Elazar Rompler for child abuse. Rompler served as a school principal in Canada for the Lev Tahor cult and is charged with mentally and physically abusing at least two children, ages 8 and 9 respectively between the years of 2009-2011. Rompler, 46, held his position before the group fled from Canada to Guatemala in 2014.The children in question, were children who belonged to the cult and were under his tutelage. In one case Rompler allegedly had a child stripped, tied up, and beaten with a stick for several hours over suspicions that the child stole money from a tzedaka box.
He is also accused of instructing other teachers to hold a child down and beat the child repeatedly for allegedly lying."

Global News CA: History of the '90s podcast: Doomsday cults
"History of the '90s, host Kathy Kenzora looks at the doomsday cults and their rise to infamy in the years leading up to the new millennium.
During the 1990s, the world began to seem more dangerous, with war, environmental destruction and social breakdown becoming part of the everyday fabric of society.As a way of coping, some people turned to new religions and cults for guidance and support. In some cases, that decision yielded deadly consequences.
In part one, we uncover the little-known story of The Order of the Solar Temple. The religious sect had branches in Canada, Switzerland and France and its members included politicians, journalists, executives and police officers. We'll look at how members hoping to start a new life instead found horrific and tragic ends."

"Transcendental Meditation is presented as a secular practice that has no religious affiliation. As a former teacher of TM, I can attest that the truth is the complete opposite.


A puja is an ancient Hindu ritual or ceremonial worship service, one purpose of which is to create a channel of transmission from a Hindu god to the one performing or participating in the puja ceremony. Objects of worship can be various Hindu deities or gurus who are believed to embody the divine. While Maharishi seems to have made his up, there are many variations of pujas, but they all essentially have the same function.

In the puja, offerings are made to the object of devotion, often represented by a painting or an idol, to earn his love and blessings. The offerings — usually fruit, candles, incense, flowers — symbolize surrendering one's mind, body, thoughts, desires, actions, and possessions to divine beings or gurus and enjoying whatever may come back as a gift from them.

The deity or guru whose image is worshipped in the puja is considered a living incarnation of the deity. They are treated as if the deity has descended from above and actually inhabits the image."

The Print: Self-styled 'godman' Daati Maharaj booked for holding religious event in south Delhi temple

"The Delhi Police Saturday registered a case against a self-styled godman, Daati Maharaj, and his accomplices for allegedly holding a religious gathering and violating government guidelines on Covid-19 lockdown.

The gathering held at Shani Dham temple in south Delhi's Mehrauli area Friday was attended by over 30 people, most of whom were not wearing masks.

As pictures and videos of the gathering started circulating, some of which were posted on social media by the participants, Delhi Police took suo-motu cognisance and registered a case against Maharaj. He has not yet been arrested.

"Some photographs of a ceremony at Shani Dham mandir Asola were circulated on social media, wherein the social distancing norms were not being followed and a religious congregation was organised in contravention of the lockdown guidelines," Atul Thakur, Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Delhi, told ThePrint.

"The godman opened the temple and by doing that he has committed offences under sections of IPC, Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act. A case has been registered and investigation initiated," he added.

This is not Daati Maharaj's first brush with the law. He is also an accused in a case of rape and unnatural sex.

In 2016, he was booked for allegedly raping a 25-year-old woman. A case in the matter was registered in 2018 and was then transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Along with two others, he was charge-sheeted in the case. Maharaj is currently out on bail."

"Prosecutors in South Korea raided facilities nationwide belonging to the Shincheonji religious sect, of which mass gatherings are suspected of having caused a COVID-19 outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding regions.

Some 100 prosecutors and investigators from the Suwon District Prosecutors' Office began the search and seizure at the sect's headquarters in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, as well as its branch offices in Busan, Gwangju and Daejeon, early Friday.

Residences and offices of sect leader Lee Man-hee and executives were also included in the raid."

Screen International: 'The Prophet And The Space Aliens': Thessaloniki Review

"A study of religion and true believers, The Prophet And The Space Aliens takes a thoughtful approach to what could potentially be a satiric premise, in which a documentary filmmaker spends time with a self-styled spiritual leader who insists that humanity was created by aliens. Israeli director Yoav Shamir introduces us to Rael, a kindly sexagenarian prophet with a fascinating backstory and some bizarre views. (He'll happily tell you about his travels to another planet.) But rather than poke fun, the film ponders why so many people worship higher powers — and how faith can be a way for individuals to find meaning in an otherwise incomprehensible existence.
The filmmaker may be a nonbeliever, but you could say he approaches this material in good faith.
The Prophet, which recently premiered at CPH:DOX, screens digitally as part of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. This film about Rael and his followers, appropriately called Raelians, has a breezy, accessible tone, making it an appealing programming option. Modest commercial prospects seem possible as well."

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources. resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

Legal group threatens court challenge over right of Ontario Orthodox Jews to worship during pandemic

Orthodox Jews are silhouetted against the rotunda in City Hall during the Chanukah event called 'Occupy City Hall' in Toronto on Sunday, December 9, 2012.Darren Calabrese/National Post
Orthodox Jews must pray several times per day, in groups of at least 10 males, in order to reach quorum for prayers

Tyler Dawson
National Post
May 29, 2020

EDMONTON — An Alberta-based legal group is threatening a court challenge to fight for the religious rights of Orthodox Jews in Ontario who, because of gathering-size restrictions, have been unable to properly worship during the pandemic.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative legal group, has been extremely active during the COVID-19 crisis, saying it’s pushing to maintain Charter rights even during a pandemic. The group has written to the Alberta government expressing concerns over pieces of legislation, has gone to court to fight restrictions on drive-in religious services in Ontario, and is now preparing legal documents concerning the remaining Ontario restrictions on religious gatherings.

“The Ford government has been slow to make reasonable accommodations for faith groups, even where they present little or no public health risk, and even as the province is beginning to open up,” said lawyer Lisa Bildy in a statement to the Post.

In Ontario, hundreds of pastors and other religious leaders signed a letter to Premier Doug Ford sent on May 11 asking for changes to the rules for religious groups, pointing out that, “never in 1,500 years of Western history has the Church of Jesus Christ not met for Easter or missed months of worship and ministry — even in times of war or plague far more devastating than COVID-19.”

“The inhumanity of abandoning people in their deepest hour of grief or need is gut-wrenching for followers of Christ,” the letter says.

Since that letter, there have been some changes: drive-in services are now allowed, for example. But, On May 22, four Toronto rabbis followed up with another letter, addressing the specific ways in which Orthodox Jews are affected by the rules. They say they haven’t been helped by the government allowing drive-in services, while in-person gatherings remain capped at five people. (The National Post was unable to reach the four signatories on Friday).

“When violating any Charter freedom, a government must prove that such violations are demonstrably justified. The more we learn about this virus, and the longer these infringements on Canadians’ civil liberties go on, the less likely governments will be able to meet that test,” wrote Bildy.

Orthodox Jews must pray several times per day, in groups of at least 10 males, in order to reach quorum for the prayers. In Ontario, indoor gatherings are capped at five people, preventing Orthodox Jews from meeting their religious obligations.

“There is no constitutional right to buy liquor and marijuana, but there is a constitutional right to worship and to assemble to practice one’s faith,” the letter says. “People are permitted to ‘gather’ at golf courses, beaches and stores in numbers greater than five, but not in prayer. This is unacceptable.”

Even with the loosening of rules, that doesn’t help, said the rabbis who signed the letter.

People are permitted to 'gather' at golf courses, beaches and stores in numbers greater than five, but not in prayer. This is unacceptable

“We are an Orthodox faith that does not permit driving on the Sabbath,” the rabbis’ letter says.

The Ontario premier’s office said in a statement they haven’t been served with any court documents, but “as the matter may be before the Courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Nearly half of all Canadian Jews live in Toronto, while another quarter live in Montreal, meaning that most Jews in Canada are subject to the rules of Ontario and Quebec. Other cities across the country have Jewish communities, but none make up double-digit percentages of the overall Jewish population in Canada.

Elsewhere in the country, governments have taken differing approaches to worship services.

In Alberta, during phase one of the United Conservative government’s “relaunch” strategy, worshippers are allowed to gather in groups of 50, or one-third of the capacity of the building, whichever ensures fewer people. In British Columbia, indoor events can also have 50 people; in the case of a drive-in event, such as a church service, there may be 50 vehicles present.

Saskatchewan has capped gatherings — indoor and outdoor — at 10 people. Quebec lists reopening of worship services in the “subsequent” phase of its reopening plan, somewhere down the line, with no set date.

Some Old Order Mennonites feel called to return to church

For nearly two months, the parishioners of the Old Order Stauffer Mennonite Church in New Holland, Pa., worshipped from home. The ministry and its members followed Gov. Tom Wolf's stay-at-home order, which effectively exempted religious activity, but it strongly discouraged gatherings. The congregation has resumed its full service for members who feel safe attending. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)
570 News
May 30, 2020

NEW HOLLAND, Pa. — For the first time in weeks, kids played in the church cemetery. Nearby, a group of men in their 20s reflected on what it meant to gather again during the pandemic.

“Human health is important,” one of them said. “But ultimately, spiritual health is more important.”

Their conservative order — one that shuns technology, cars and electricity — never missed Sunday services in more than 100 years, when the deadly 1918 flu pandemic interrupted worship.

Then, a different virus intruded in this world apart.

For nearly two months, the Old Order Stauffer Mennonite Church followed Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order and guidelines that discouraged gatherings in houses of worship. COVID-19 forced the postponement of weddings, funerals and their bi-annual communion, a high point. While some more modern Mennonite orders in Lancaster County held services by video, the Stauffers did not.

But now, it was “time to get back to work,” their bishop said. “And more so … in the spiritual sense.” It was time to resume worship, he said — though he wondered how many worshippers would come, and he still felt concerns about “offending the public and the government.”

News spread fast: first service together in weeks; not mandatory, only for those who felt safe.

That morning, dozens arrived: men in wide brimmed straw hats, women in bonnets and dark dresses; their children in suspenders. Some greeted each other without face masks. Others walked into the bathroom to apply hand sanitizer before they filled the long, creaky wooden church pews in silence and sang hymns in German and the dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch.

“It has been many weeks since we gathered here. Are we thankful to be here again?” Bishop Marvin asked. “Aren’t we thankful for health to go about our life?”

Like others in his congregation, he was welcoming, but he didn’t want his last name to appear on the news because of religious views on modesty.


Mennonites believe in pacifism, reserve baptism for adults and oppose military service. They belong to a Protestant denomination and trace their origins to the Anabaptists, a radical 16th-century sect of the Reformation originating in Switzerland. Their name comes from Menno Simons, a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who joined the Anabaptists.

Some Old Order Mennonites eschew technology, cars and dress in plain clothes like the Amish, who separated from the Mennonites in the 17th century. There are some differences. The Amish worship at home and men grow beards without moustaches after they marry.

“I guess it’s a little like you go down the highway and one vehicle says Ford and the other says Dodge, and they might all come out of the same assembly line,” Bishop Marvin said. “But as far as the foundation, or the fundaments of the faith, it’s not that much different.”

The Old Order Stauffer Mennonite Church formed in 1845. Today, they number about 2,000 in Pennsylvania, 500 of them in Lancaster County, said Steven Nolt, senior scholar at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

“The Stauffer Mennonites are probably the most technologically restrictive of any of the Old Order groups, so their means of communication has always been very much face-to-face. They need to be together in order to communicate,” Nolan said. “Being apart was probably really hard for them.”

During Sunday worship, Bishop Marvin said their time apart from each other gave parents a chance to read Scripture with their children at home. But he acknowledged challenges. His mother died at age 95 on April 2, and the community couldn’t gather for a large funeral service.


Rules on houses of worship have varied from state to state. Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order in Pennsylvania effectively exempted religious activity, although it strongly discouraged gatherings.

The guidance said religious leaders were “encouraged to find alternatives to in-person gatherings and to avoid endangering their congregants.”

Other congregations adapted. The Groffdale Conference Old Order Mennonites used landline phones as an alternative to their in-person worship, cancelled for the first time in more than a century.

“I can remember my great grandparents talking about the 1918 flu, the Spanish flu, when the churches were closed for three months. There were no funerals, and a lot of people died,” said Aaron Hurst, a congregant who owns a hardware store.

The conference call worship was launched with the help of Elvin Hoover. From his home office overlooking the Conestoga River, he receives faxes offering farm products, masks and other services. He then announces the news in Pennsylvania Dutch through a phone line that reaches hundreds in his community. Church service became so popular, he said, that on a Sunday, it jammed the local phone exchange.

“The sheep were hungry!” he said. “We miss church. Oh, do we miss church.”

Modern orders like the Akron Mennonite Church used video conferencing for the first time during Sunday worship. Co-pastor Rachel Nolan began the May 3 service by lighting a candle. After a reading, she divided the congregation into virtual breakout rooms and asked them to reflect on the Scripture.

“How did you hear it differently because of our current situation?” she asked. A couple shared their experience after they contracted the coronavirus. Others prayed for a boy who was going to undergo surgery, and a woman diagnosed with cancer.

The service ended with Nolan saying: “And so let us go with hope, transforming ourselves to transform the world,” to which all responded: “Trusting in the God who brings life from places of death.”

At the Stauffer Mennonite Church, the service ended when men, women and children turned around on their seats in unison and knelt on the wooden floor. With their eyes shut, hands cupped around their temples and foreheads pressed against the pews, they recited the Lord’s Prayer, together but prayerfully isolated.


Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Luis Andres Henao And Jessie Wardarski, The Associated Press

From Manitou Springs to the world: Mate Factor Café part of global 12 Tribes community

From Manitou Springs to the world: Mate Factor Café part of global 12 Tribes community
Steve Rabey Religion Correspondent
Colorado Springs Gazette
May 31, 2020

He grew up poor and troubled, spent time in a foster home, and his troubles continued well into adulthood. The customers who bought the methamphetamines he cooked up in a local trailer park called him Johnny D.

“I was addicted to drugs, and my life was pretty much a mess,” he says.

Desperate to find God, he attended dozens of churches — Nazarene, Pentecostal, Catholic, independent — and responded to numerous altar calls. But each church had its interpretation of the Bible’s teachings.

“This church says it’s this way, while that church says it’s that way,” he says.

Feeling so sinful and “filthy” that he feared God couldn’t hear his prayers, he became distraught and suicidal, offering up one final, frantic plea with all his heart as he stuck the barrel of a gun in his mouth.

“If you don’t answer my prayer, I’m going to kill myself.”

That’s when he heard the voice.

“I love you, and I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m going to show you the way, but when I do, you’re going to have to drop everything and do it.”

God used a 2001 article in The Gazette to show him his next step.

“This is what I was going to show you,” the voice said as he read an article about Twelve Tribes, the international Christian group that operates the Maté Factor Café in Manitou Springs. 

“You have to drop everything and do it.”

He talked to the group and accepted their invitation to join them, giving up his old life and his few possessions.

“To go into the Twelve Tribes meant I had to leave my old life behind, trust my life to these people, and come under their authority for the rest of my life,” he said. “That sounded pretty good to me.”

With his new life came a new name: Zaccai. In the Hebrew Bible, Zaccai was a Jew who returned from the Babylonian exile to help Nehemiah rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

Years later, 47-year-old Zaccai remains faithful to the community that gave him life, his wife, and his children. His work co-shepherding the local community and managing the cafe seems a small sacrifice for the blessings he has enjoyed.

Jesus Movement Legacy

Twelve Tribes — one of the few groups surviving from the Jesus movement of the 1960s and 1970s — traces its origins to the day of Pentecost, which is celebrated by Christians worldwide today, and was described in the New Testament book of Acts:
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting … All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit … All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

As the group’s website says: “The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost gave birth to a rich tribal life of togetherness and mutual care and accountability.”

When you dine at the cafe, you’re supporting a local community of three dozen people, including five married couples and 15 kids, all of whom live in two communal houses near the restaurant.

Diners are also supporting a larger network of some 2,000 to 3,000 disciples in Twelve Tribes communities worldwide, including Brazil (where they harvest the maté used for drinks) and Spain (where they make olive oil).

During an interview at the cafe, three male leaders, or “shepherds,” seemed earnest and joyful.

Members see Manitou Springs as a minimecca, “a place where people are seeking.” The group also has a community in Boulder, where it operates one of its popular Yellow Deli cafes.
With the men’s beards and bound hair, and the women’s simple clothing, members resemble hippies, or perhaps Amish or Mennonite believers.

Members gather for worship every morning and evening. During the day, some work at the cafe while others home school the children or do other tasks. They don’t have a TV or read papers. “Sensationalism,” they say, even though Zaccai has warm feelings for The Gazette.

The cafe is the local community’s primary means of support and primary way of reaching the Springs community with their message. Members don’t proselytize, but they’re always willing to answer questions and they make free issues of the Twelve Tribes’ Freepaper available for those who want them.

Local members — including teens — staff the Manitou cafe. They receive no pay because they work as volunteers. And because of their common treasury, the IRS classifies the group as a 501 (d) “religious and apostolic association or corporation,” similar to monasteries.

Claims of ‘cult’ practices

Much of the Twelve Tribes theology is similar to other Christian groups, but they emphasize living in strict accordance with God’s will as revealed in the New Testament and the Old. They follow Jewish levitical laws on lifestyle and diet, and celebrate the major Jewish festivals, including Pentecost, or Shavuot, and Passover.

They believe they are gathering together the 12 biblical tribes described in the book of Revelation in preparation for Christ’s return

Twelve Tribes members believe that living communally is a requirement for true followers of Christ, who they call by his Hebrew name, Yahshua.

A disciple’s life is “a tribal life,” says an article in the Freepaper, “families, clans, and tribes, in stark contrast to the suburban loneliness of the world.”

When asked about the spiritual status of the vast majority of Christians who don’t live communally, Hushai, one of the local group’s shepherds, quoted 1 John 5:19: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”

“We believe very sincere people” are part of the flawed mainstream “religious system,” Hushai said. “We hope we can learn to love one another, obey his commandments, and recognize the leaven of unrighteousness that comes in to separate us.”

They follow a strict morality that some see as family values on steroids. They favor male leadership, practice corporal punishment on disobedient children, and do not condone homosexuality.

Some practices have brought criticisms about legalism and cultlike practices. A Vice story about the group bore this headline: “The Idyllic Restaurant Chain Owned by a Homophobic, Racist, Child-Beating Cult.”

The Southern Poverty Center issued a similar warning, calling the group “a Christian fundamentalist cult” whose “hippie-vibed restaurants and cafes” conceal “a tangle of doctrine” that, among other things, supports slavery and homophobia.

Twelve Tribes communities have frequently been accused of — and occasionally found guilty of — child abuse and labor violations, and have faced penalties for requiring children to perform adult work on Twelve Tribes farms and crafts.

Local members are quick to dismiss these and other allegations, and say such controversies are part of the persecution members face for faithfully following Christ.

What about the claim that once you’re in the group you can never leave?

“People come and go all the time,” Zaccai said.

What about the claim that members are prevented from staying in touch with family and loved one who are not part of the group? Another community shepherd named Eved shows me his cellphone, complete with frequently used contacts for family members.

“The life we live is the life our Father is showing us,” Zaccai, who quotes the words of Yahshua: “You can’t fit us into a box said.
“When people realize there’s no place for them in this world, when they seek a place where they can come and be put back together, this is that place. At least it was for me.”

If you want to know more about 12 Tribes, or attend one of the community’s Friday evening worship gatherings held at their communal home in Manitou Springs, call 719-685-1250

The Cult Effect


"A gripping account of the brutal impact of spiritual and violent extremism.

Carli McConkey was 21 years old when she happened upon New Age guru, Natasha Lakaev, and her personal development company, Life Integration Programmes, at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in Sydney, Australia in 1996.

What at first appeared professional and promising, became a vehicle for psychological and physical abuse.

Over the next thirteen years, Carli lost her freedom…her mind…and her family.

This book demonstrates the gradual and insidious process of mind control, gives insights into the period of recovery after escape, and shows how determination and strength can overcome adversity."


Victims of the Heralds of the Gospel unveiling the truth is a website by former members of Heralds of the Gospel.

Ex Arautos Do Evangelho

EXAE: Ex Arautos Do Evangelho

"It gathers the reports about the experiences of former members of the Heralds of the Gospel and their families.

EXAE is the meeting point and a help channel for victims of abuse at this institution, showing a reality that only people who live inside and those who managed to leave know."

This is an ex members website:

May 29, 2020

Reddit’s QAnon Casualties is a home for survivors of the conspiracy

The conspiracy can tear families apart.

Mike Rothschild
Daily Dot
Mat 25, 2020

The conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump is leading a secret (yet public) fight to take down the deep state and its hordes of pedophiles has had ups-and-downs in the last year, from losing its home on 8chan to a glut of mainstream coverage thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and several high-profile believers making the news.

Through it all, there have still been no mass arrests or great sweeping up of Satanic cabalists. Even so, QAnon believers have kept the faith—and in the process, many have destroyed their relationships with the “normie” loved ones who aren’t taken in by the movement.  

There are now so many people who have lost someone they care about to the Tom Clancy-meets-Dan Brown militia fantasy of QAnon that they’ve formed their own community on Reddit: r/QAnonCasualties. 

And their stories are heartbreaking tales of husbands and wives who no longer speak, destroyed friendships, siblings who chose QAnon over their family, parents who don’t speak to their children anymore. There’s is the misery of people who have had their loved ones taken in by a joyless, violent cult that promises “pain” to the enemies of freedom, but, in reality, only delivers it to the people who love those ones who believe in it. 

R/QAnonCasualties was created in July by Reddit user Squawkomodile, who introduced the sub with a long post about their relationship with their mother was decaying as she sank deeper and deeper into QAnon.

“My mom has been into QAnon since it got started,” the first post begins. “The ignorance, bigotry, and refusal to question “the plan” have only gotten worse over time. I’m always torn between stopping communication with her because it only seems to make me feel terrible, and feeling like it’s my responsibility to try to lead her back to reality. We barely talk anymore, but when we did, she used nearly every conversation as an ‘in’ to bring up Q.”

“Having a loved one involved in QAnon is an exhausting, sad, scary, demoralizing experience,” it continues. “Most people are happy to just point and laugh at QAnon followers because they aren’t directly affected by it. If you don’t have that luxury, this sub is for you.”

Martin Geddes
 · Jan 2, 2020
I think I'm going to join a support group for people who have escaped the #QAnon "think critically for yourself" cult. [Searches web…]

Oh, hang on a minute… There's aren't any such groups! Or people who seem to want to join one.

I wonder why? 🤔

Josh Joiner
r/qanoncasualties on Reddit. …

QAnonCasualties • r/QAnonCasualties
Do you have a loved one who's been taken in by the QAnon conspiracy theory? Look here for emotional support and a place to vent.
2:28 AM - Jan 4, 2020
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See Josh Joiner's other Tweets
The sub has only a few thousand subscribers. But the vast majority of posts are by someone who says they are losing a person they care about to QAnon and don’t have anywhere in the “real world” to turn.

Other posts ask for advice on how to de-radicalize people from Q, how to debate it with a believer, and how to recover from cult membership in general.

Daily Dot reached out to posters on r/QAnonCasualties, as well as another anti-Q sub, r/QultHeadquarters, for more details about their experiences seeing loved ones become involved with QAnon.

Several responded, on condition of their names not being used for fear of their conspiracy-believing family members finding out. 

It should be noted that as per most of Reddit, the stories told by r/QAnonCasualties members are anonymous, and therefore difficult to be vetted. But in general, they line up with similar stories told to the Daily Dot and other media outlets. They reveal QAnon as a conspiracy theory that sucks in believers through fantastic promises of great change, secret knowledge of a hidden war between good and evil, suppressed cures for diseases and free energy, and a feeling of community between people who know that the order of things is forever almost going to be violently overturned.

One woman told the Daily Dot she didn’t have “a whole lot of hope” in regards to getting her brother-in-law “back” from QAnon after he demanded she watch a 10-part video series on the conspiracy theory.

Another Q casualty told Daily Dot that she’d been with her husband for 20 years and never had any severe problems in their relationship “until he found Q.”  

“He’s always been conspiracy minded,” the woman told Daily Dot. “[But] with Q though, he got sucked in and sucked deep and it has truly taken over his life. He spends hours every day on Twitter and watching YouTube channels, and it colors everything that he does. If he wasn’t still very successful with his business, I honestly would be concerned about a brain tumor, it’s that much of a change.”

And another told Daily Dot they have “extended family members who are convinced COVID-19 is simultaneously a hoax and a plot by Bill Gates and caused by 5G,” referring to multiple conspiracy theories about coronavirus that are extremely popular in QAnon circles.

Still, not every story told by a member of r/QAnonCasualties is a tragic one of a family member being lost.

Some people are actually able to pull themselves out of Q through logic and reasoning—a rare event that gives hope that one day the entire conspiracy theory might be left behind by those who believe it. One self-described liberal voter was drawn to Q by a sense that the Democratic Party had lost its way, and that the media wasn’t telling the whole truth about the misdeeds of the wealthy and powerful.

“When I found Q, I was initially very skeptical about the idea of Trump being a [good guy] but since no one else was even willing to acknowledge those issues, they had my attention,” they said.

As Q continued to spin their story of the “silent war” between good and evil, this person was more and more drawn in. “I could now envision a reality where [Trump] was given an opportunity to sell out his partners in crime and go down as a hero.” But eventually, this believer turned on the movement, telling the Daily Dot that they could see the cultish tactics Q uses to keep followers around, such as promising a great event to come, and shaming those who begin to ask questions about the conspiracy theory.

“I noticed Q’s narrative become very lazy [and started to] cater to the hateful crowd that was still holding on,” they said. “I became ashamed that I ever bought any of it at all.”

Travis View
There's a lot of doublethink involved in being a QAnon follower. They'll claim to value "researching for yourself." But big QAnon promoters will openly declare "Trump cannot be second-guessed or doubted." The "research" line is a fig leaf to cover up the cult like tendencies.

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“I know several Q followers, including my boyfriend and several members of his family, and I’ve seen how bizarre and destructive it is,” one of the other sub moderators told Daily Dot. “I wanted to maintain r/qanoncasualties as a safe space for people affected by Q followers to tell their stories and receive support.”

In that spirit, the sub is heavily moderated to remove conspiracy-promoting, trolling, or pro-Q posts, making it one of the rare truly safe spaces on Reddit to open up about conspiracy theories without relentless harassment.

Given the viral popularity of the recent QAnon-themed YouTube video “Out of Shadows,” and the continuing crush of QAnon-approved coronavirus conspiracy theories and quack cures, it’s likely that the conspiracy theory will continue to perpetuate.

As long as it does, it will continue to both suck people in, and repel the loved ones of those it grabs.

Reddit fora like r/QAnonCasualties might be small, but for those dealing with the influence of the conspiracy theory, it will continue to serve as one of the only places to vent to people going through the same thing.

May 27, 2020

CultNEWS101 Articles: 5/27/2020

Ravi Zacharias, Sudan, Female Genital Mutilation, Jehovah's Witnesses, Faith Healing, Covid-19
CNN: Ravi Zacharias, Christian evangelist, dies at 74

"Ravi Zacharias, who spent his life defending Christianity through books and lectures, has died. He was 74.
Zacharias had been battling sarcoma and died at his home in Atlanta on Tuesday, Zacharias International Ministries said.
He was a leading figure among Christian Apologists -- a branch of Christian theology that defends Christian doctrines against objections.
Zacharias founded Zacharias International Ministries in 1984, and "launched a global team of nearly 100 Christian scholars and authors who continue to speak, resource, train and address the questions of millions around the world," a news release said."

NY Times: In a Victory for Women in Sudan, Female Genital Mutilation Is Outlawed
"Sudan's new government has outlawed the practice of female genital mutilation, a move hailed as a major victory by women's rights campaigners in a country where the often dangerous practice is widespread.

The United Nations estimates that nearly nine in 10 Sudanese women have been subjected to the most invasive form of the practice, which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia and leads to health and sexual problems that can be fatal.

Now, anyone in Sudan who performs female genital mutilation faces a possible three-year prison term and a fine under an amendment to Sudan's criminal code approved last week by the country's transitional government, which came to power only last year following the ouster of longtime dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

"This is a massive step for Sudan and its new government," said Nimco Ali of the Five Foundation, an organization that campaigns for an end to genital mutilation globally. "Africa cannot prosper unless it takes care of girls and women. They are showing this government has teeth."

Genital mutilation is practiced in at least 27 African countries, as well as parts of Asia and the Middle East. Other than Sudan and Egypt, it is most prevalent in Ethiopia, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Djibouti and Senegal, according to the United Nations Population Fund."

Advocates for Jehovah's Witness Reform on Blood: Treating Jehovah's Witness COVID-19 Patients with Convalescent Blood Products
"As scientists and clinicians search for therapeutics and a cure for COVID-19, there is one tried treatment that is consistently being cited for its potential: convalescent plasma. ( is a product rendered from blood. In medical settings, this is often called fresh frozen plasma (FFP). Individuals who have survived COVID-19 and whose blood has sufficient levels of antibodies for COVID-19 can donate blood. Medical providers can then render plasma from this donated blood to share these antibodies with current COVID-19 sufferers, helping them fight the disease. This plasma can be frozen and when needed, thawed for treating COVID-19 patients.Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) may be acceptable to some Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) who are willing to accept a blood product currently prohibited by their religion's leadership, in particular younger members. But it is likely that a majority of members would not accept FFP. However, all plasma "fractions" are permitted as shown in the following diagram from Watchtower (WT). This leaves physicians a potential alternative for JW patients."

Patheos: Pastor Who Claimed to Cure COVID By Laying On of Hands Dies of COVID

"A popular Cameroon "prophet" who claimed he could cure COVID-19 has died of the disease, Voice of America reports. Frankline Ndifor, a presidential candidate in the country's most recent elections, delayed getting medical treatment after developing symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.
Doctor Gaelle Nnanga said … that Ndifor died less than a week after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He says that some members of Ndifor's Kingship International Ministries Church called him to come to the pastor's aid when they found out Ndifor was in agony, and that when the medical team he leads arrived, Ndifor was having severe respiratory difficulties."

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources. resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

Church of Scientology hands out 50,000 coronavirus pamphlets resembling New Zealand government advice

aland Ministry of Health guidelines, Newshub reported. The Church of Scientology booklets distributed in Auckland. Photo: Twitter The Church of Scientology booklets distributed in Auckland. Photo: Twitter
The 50,000 booklets bearing a yellow-and-white colour scheme contain a QR code that links the reader to Church of Scientology website

The pamphlets look like official advice circulated by New Zealand government but the church said any similarities were ‘pure coincidence’

South China Morning Post
Compiled by SCMP’s Asia desk
May 27, 2020

Shops in New Zealand’s largest city have scrambled to remove thousands of Scientology booklets that resemble the government’s coronavirus posters, as the country slowly reopens after one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.

The “How to Keep Yourself & Others Well” booklets, which feature a striking yellow-and-white design not unlike the one used by New Zealand’s government in its Covid-19 messaging, were handed out to stores in central Auckland last week, local media reported.

The information published appeared to be based on coronavirus advice from the United States government, rather than official New Zealand Ministry of Health guidelines, Newshub reported.

As many as 50,000 booklets were distributed in Auckland as part of the organisation’s efforts to support the community during the pandemic, a representative from the Church of Scientology said on Monday.

Allison Axford, its community relations manager, told Newshub the design similarity to the government’s Covid-19 campaign was “pure coincidence”.

“Our volunteer ministers have for decades been well known for their distinctive yellow colour [attire] since long before the Covid-19 outbreak,” Axford said.

3 guys just turned up at the Auckland cafe I’m sitting at dressed like some kind of emergency response team. Frightened the life out of me. Turns out they are Scientology peeps, delivering pamphlets!

The booklets carry a QR code that leads to the Church of Scientology’s website. Upset shoppers who spotted the deception shared the discovery online.

“Was proud of my son for spotting the ruse before too many people had taken them from his workplace,” one Twitter user wrote.

Documentary maker David Farrier said on Twitter: “The booklet is basically a health guide, with the endgame of you landing on their cult’s website where you then access all their rot.”

One restaurant in Auckland said it removed the booklets from its premises after realising it had been deceived, The New Zealand Herald reported.

“We are taking them out just because we are not happy about promoting the Church of Scientology at all,” the general manager of the Mexican Cafe said.

The booklets have also reportedly been distributed to stores in Australia.

In Auckland, NZ the Scientologists are distributing covid19 info as a recruitment tool.

People who have been oblivious to QR codes will now be paying attention. This isn't the QR code you want to practice on.

The Church of Scientology in New Zealand was established in 1955, becoming the organisation’s first offshore branch.

Census data in 2013 indicated the organisation had about 300 followers, although the group claimed the real number was about 5,000.

The organisation in January 2017 unveiled a new NZ$16 million (US$10 million) building in Auckland at a ceremony led by Scientology leader David Miscavige.

In July 2017, Hollywood actor Tom Cruise paid the site a visit after a film shoot in New Zealand.