Jul 29, 2023

CultNEWS101: People Leave Cults Upcoming Support Groups

Welcome to the CultNEWS101 weekend edition featuring a special announcement from People Leave Cults!
Upcoming online support and community group offerings for marginalized communities, those born or raised, and survivors of complex trauma:
People Leave Cults is excited to offer a community group designed for those who come from marginalized backgrounds and who are also former members of high-control groups or relationships. *Marginalized groups include women, disabled folx, neurodivergent folx, BIPOC folx, LGBTQ+ folx, lower socio-economic status folx, and etc.

Marginalized individuals are often subjected to abuses within cultic environments. This could be due to many factors, such as gender inequality, discrimination, patriarchal systems, or the instilled prejudices of the high-control system.

People Leave Cults seeks to be an accessible resource for marginalized groups, including women, people with disabilities, people with neurodivergence, people of color, LGBTQIA2S+ folks, Indigenous peoples, people of lower socio-economic status, and more.

Facilitators: Abi Smith, MS, LPC-Associate (they, them) under the supervision of Beck Munsey, PhD, LPC-S & Ashlen Hilliard, MSc (she, her)
Cost: $25 fee per workshop. Sliding scale is available via our Financial Aid Request page
Dates: The first meetup is from 7 PM - 9 PM Eastern Time, on Friday, August 11, 2023. This group is offered on a monthly basis.
Sign-up: For more information and registration: https://www.peopleleavecults.com/services/support-groups/marginalized-group

People Leave Cults is excited to offer a community group designed for those born or raised in cultic groups or relationships (also referred to as second and multi-generational adult former members). Born or raised former cult members face a unique set of challenges when they leave their group. The unique circumstances of being born or raised in a group can - at times - leave survivors feeling that their recovery needs are somehow left unmet. 

People Leave Cults is proud to offer an accessible alternative for born or raised former members. Facilitators Ashlen Hilliard and Cyndi Matthews are passionate professionals whose joy stems from working with cult survivors.

The following topics may be explored during the course of our 2023 meetups:
  • Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Finding a therapist
  • Identity
  • Navigating relationships with family members
  • and more!
Facilitators: Dr. Cyndi Matthews, PhD, LPC-S, NCC (she, her) & Ashlen Hilliard, MSc (she, her)
Cost: $25 fee per workshop, or $80 for all four workshops.
Dates: All sessions are from 8:00 - 9:30 PM EST, occurring on August 18, September 29, October 27, and November 10, 2023. This group is offered on a monthly basis.
Sign-up: *Sign-up space is limited. For more information and registration: https://www.peopleleavecults.com/services/support-groups/born-or-raised

Survivors of Complex Trauma Group Offering
People Leave Cults is excited to offer a community group designed for those who have experienced complex trauma in cultic groups or relationships.
Facilitators Ashlen Hilliard and Dr. Erin Falconer are excited to offer psychoeducation and community support for those who have experienced complex trauma in cultic groups or relationships.

People Leave Cults is proud to collaborate with Dr. Erin Falconer, who prior to becoming a psychotherapist, worked as a neuroscientist. Her therapeutic approaches are informed by her expertise in neuroscience, and she studies how therapy can change the brain and improve symptoms in people who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Her collaborative research was highlighted by the U.S. Veteran's Affairs National Center for PTSD and U.S. Navy Medicine.

The following questions/topics may be explored during the course of our 2023 meetups:
  • What is complex trauma?
  • How does trauma manifest in the body?
  • What are the different types of therapy offered for those who have experienced trauma?
  • How to speak to a therapist about past cult involvement?
  • What specific therapeutic modalities exist for those who have complex trauma?
  • How to cope with receiving a psychological diagnosis?
  • What happens to your brain when you are traumatized?
  • How to heal your mind after trauma?
Facilitators: Dr. Erin Falconer, PhD, MSc, LMSW (she, her) & Ashlen Hilliard, MSc (she, her)
Cost:  $45 per Meetup or $200 for all five Meetups
Dates: All sessions are from 7:00 - 8:30 PM EST., occurring on August 31, September 28, October 26, November 30, and December 21, 2023. This group is offered on a monthly basis.
Sign-up: *Please note: this group is limited to 15 participants. For more information and registration: https://www.peopleleavecults.com/services/support-groups/trauma
Disclaimer: Online support and community group services provided by People Leave Cults, LLC is not meant to be a substitute for individualized professional counseling from mental health professionals. This session is NOT an emergency service, therapy, or medical in nature.

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery



Intervention101.com to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement.

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Cults101.org resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

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Please forward articles that you think we should add to cultintervention@gmail.com.


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The Grandfather of Modern Neo-Nazism Is Fighting With Satanic Neo-Nazis Now

The ongoing flame war among some of the worst people alive has resulted in the inevitable—calls for murders.



By Mack Lamoureux

July 28, 2023


In the latest edition of infighting occurring in the worst corners of the internet, influential neo-Nazi James Mason is going to war with a satanic sect of Nazis who published his book.

Mason, arguably the grandfather of the neo-Nazi accelerationist movement, is particularly at odds with a small satanic cell of the Order of Nine Angles. The Order of Nine Angles, or O9A is a decentralized neo-Nazi Satanic group connected to both acts of violence and horrific pedophilia. Despite how obtuse the O9A is, they have an outsized influence on the far-right. 

The cell in particular is a splinter group from a splinter group of the infamous neo-Nazi terror organization Atomwaffen. According to propaganda photos published by this specific cell, they don’t seem to be much larger than three people. 

Mason, 71, is best known for a collection of his writings in which he argues for militant action and that the collapse of Western civilization is necessary for the survival of the white race. Written in the 1980s, Mason’s work found a new life over the last decade, becoming massively influential in the far-right, particularly those in the militant accelerationist milieu—which believes they must hasten the fall of society so they can build a white ethnostate from the ashes—like Atomwaffen and The Base. Earlier this year, the small satanic neo-Nazi cell was able to pull together enough money to publish a new copy of Mason’s influential terrorist manifesto—which they called the “666 edition.” 

The latest edition, which VICE News has reviewed, has an introduction section where the editor claims to have gotten to personally know Mason and actually helped publish the previous edition. It essentially states Mason has grown meeker than the ideas presented in his work and denounces him.

After becoming aware of the “666” publication, Mason made a video called “Satanic Expose,” where he accused the group of being a front for the FBI (an influential member of the O9A was previously proven to be a federal informant.) The main piece of evidence he presents for his claim is essentially that the 666 Edition was physically too well-made for a neo-Nazi publication. 

“We here call it the 'federal edition' because of its high quality, hardback, coded stock, color throughout... most impressive! Not only that, I initially heard this was (a) $100 volume, and I can believe it, but I'm told now they're giving it away,” he says in the video. “Most odd, who has that kind of money? That's why we call it the federal edition. The feds do good work.”

In response to the video, the O9A adherents made a blog post where they called him “the high priest of deceleration James ‘don't do it’ Mason” and complained he was all talk, no terror crimes. This insult, while coming from a group that appears to be pretty small, got to Mason so much that he essentially suggested to his followers they may as well commit murder.. 

Earlier this week Mason released a video he and his team entitled “Accelerate!” where he addresses the satanic Nazis insults. In it, Mason takes umbrage with the small sect of satanic neo-Naizs and others who have been calling him soft. For over 12 minutes, Mason sits in front of his mantle and rants about these groups.

At one point Mason begins telling the story of his first arrest, which he says came in 1969 in Silver Spring, Maryland after he and his fellow Nazis were caught postering a Jewish store. He said that he got off lightly but times have changed and his followers that do similar actions will likely catch a hate crime charge. 

“Today, I think most will know what would happen in a case such as this. A federal hate crime, your life turned upside down,” he says in the video. “Now, this sort of activity is exactly what these types who are calling me a decelerationist are advocating. ‘No,' they say 'no need to go out and kill anyone, just play these stupid and silly games.' I say that if you choose death or prison, then you might as well go all the way with it.”

Josh Fisher-Birch, an analyst with the Counter Extremism Project, told VICE News that this goes along with Mason’s past statements where he accuses those arguing for low level crime of being “feds” repeatedly and “winks at his audience by saying that if one is going to commit an illegal act and risk prison or death, it should ‘count’ and be done in secret.” 

“It suggests that Mason does not want to be seen as someone who would never advocate violence in any circumstance,” said Fisher-Birch. “It gives Mason an out to avoid responsibility and tries to confer all agency on the hypothetical perpetrator. Mason is, of course, speaking to an audience where certain members do certainly believe in the use of violence.”

For some reason, cuckoo clocks go off at random intervals and interrupt him throughout, making the video of a septuagenarian neo-Nazi ideologue encouraging his followers to kill feel even more bizarre than it already is. 

The Empire Never Ended, a podcast that chronicles the ins and outs of the extreme right, recently did an episode on the satanic cell where they tracked its growth. The cell in particular splintered off from the National Socialist Order, a group which itself was formed when Atomwaffen disbanded. They splintered off essentially over adherence to the O9A. 

“In the fall of last year, when a beef with James Mason ballooned into yet another realization that National Socialist Order was still full of Nazi Satanists, a big chunk of them, including at least one founding member according to Mason, went off to make the (neo-Nazi cell) and ‘build a community of true evil’ and all that nonsense,” said Fritz McAlinden, one of the show's hosts. 

McAlinden added he “can't think of a dumber and more edge-lordy group.” In regards to the statements Mason made, McAlinden said, the elder neo-Nazi is singing “the same old song.” 

“He's very weaselly about this,” he said. “This is the classic thing where they all want to be the most evil but none of them want to get in trouble.” 

Neo-Nazis and other members of far-right groups tearing themselves apart are nothing new. If you track the movement over decades you’ll see countless examples of bigots going after bigots. Just recently the neo-Nazi Active Clubs had a nationwide online tizzy with the Proud Boys, a far-right street fighting group because a few members were pushed around in Oregon. 

It’s something that holds true no matter how bizarre or influential the groups become. They can be an influential neo-Nazi who has inspired murders, or a weird little racist occult group, but they can’t resist the siren song of a flame war.




Emails reveal Jehovah's Witnesses response to child sex abuse allegations

An email sent to some members is offering a glimpse into how the organization is responding to that scrutiny—and whistleblowers who helped bring concerns to light.


Author: Harri Leigh (FOX43)

July 28, 2023


HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization is facing scrutiny in Pennsylvania over its handling of alleged widespread child sexual abuse by members. An email sent to some members is offering a glimpse into how the organization is responding to that scrutiny—and the whistleblowers who helped bring concerns to light.

Martin and Jennifer Haugh first spoke with FOX43 in May 2023 to discuss their frustrations trying to get justice within Jehovah’s Witnesses for their daughter’s molestation in 2005.

Martin Haugh, a former Jehovah’s Witness elder, was so devoted to the faith that even after he walked in on another member sexually molesting his 4-year-old daughter, he didn’t go to the police for another 11 years.

Now that the Haughs have gone public with their story, Jehovah’s Witnesses have labeled them apostates and warned other members not to engage with them.

An email sent out in early July instructed members providing security for a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention in Reading to keep photos of the couple on their phones.

The convention was one of 6,000 being held across the world this year with the theme “Exercise Patience.” The convention began July 14 and was scheduled to run three consecutive weekends.

The email reminded attendants, the name for members who provide security for these conventions, that the Haughs were “not one of us.”

“I learned that I was on a list, a watch list, of all the attendants or the brothers who handle security at that convention, not to be allowed in any building,” Martin Haugh said.

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses expert and founder of Cult Education Institute Rick Alan Ross, the email showed that the organization was responding defensively to whistleblowers and critical media coverage of their handling of alleged child sexual abuse.

“This is really something that is not shocking to me because I’ve watched the organization for decades and dealt with them in court,” Alan Ross said. “They basically go after these whistleblowers and can disfellowship them, shun them and punish them for speaking out... Jehovah’s Witnesses should be listening to them in an effort to try to correct what’s wrong and deal with the situation of child sexual abuse within the organization.”

The email also claimed the Haughs had attempted to get into past conventions by “mingling with the crowd upon entry dressing and acting as if one of us.”

Martin Haugh said he did attend one protest outside the 2018 Reading convention but had never tried to enter a convention under false pretenses.

“We got permission before we even went. The police knew we were coming. The city of Reading knew we were coming,” Haugh said. “We were respectful. We didn’t engage with any Jehovah’s Witnesses and we didn’t try to enter the building.”

Media coverage of the 2018 event shows Haugh outside the building holding a sign and marching with other protesters.

Haugh said in his opinion, the email showed whom Jehovah’s Witnesses were choosing to target.

“It really hurt me because again, it’s their convention. They can determine who can come and who cannot,” he said. “But on the other hand, when I was an elder, I was not allowed to inform members of the congregation that there was a known child abuser in the congregation.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses responded to our questions about the email with a statement:

“Our congregants expect and value a peaceful learning environment at our conventions. To ensure the well-being of all who attend we may at times revoke a person’s privilege to attend our Bible education programs when we believe that their goal is to disrupt our peaceful gatherings.”

The Pennsylvania grand jury investigation is moving forward. On July 25 Jesse Hill, one of 14 Jehovah’s Witnesses charged by the attorney general in the last year for child sex abuse, became the first to plead guilty.


Related Articles

·         Former Jehovah's Witness member in Pennsylvania pleads guilty to two counts of rape

·         The Pa. grand jury investigation into alleged systemic cover-up of child sex abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses Organization | Witness to Wicked

·         Five members of Jehovah's Witnesses arrested for sexual assault, AG announces





Jul 28, 2023

Peter Dinklage Teaches You 'How to Become a Cult Leader'


The “Game of Thrones” alum narrates Netflix’s new docuseries, which takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to some of history’s most manipulative madmen.


The Daily Beast

Nick Schager

Entertainment Critic

Jul. 27, 2023


Listen to article 6 minutes


True-crime docuseries rule the non-fiction landscape—and the more shocking and scandalous, the better. Thus, it’s no surprise that, whether in theaters or on streaming, cults are an endlessly fascinating topic of inquiry, as evidenced by (to name just a few), Wild Wild CountryThe Vow (and its second part), Waco: American ApocalypseHeaven’s Gate: The Cult of CultsThe Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen ShamblinHelter SkelterKeep Sweet: Pray and ObeyMe and the Cult LeaderAUM: The Cult at the End of the WorldDeadly CultsShiny Happy People: Duggar Family SecretsOur Father, Pray, Obey, KillThe Devil You KnowBlessed ChildUnveiled: Surviving La Luz del MundoChildren of the CultBikram: Yogi, Guru, PredatorCrusaders, and Sex, Lies and the College Cult.

Simply put, few subjects have been more thoroughly covered over the past decade than insular, exploitative, insane groups and their self-anointed messiahs.

How to Become a Cult Leader recognizes this and consequently takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to some of history’s most infamous manipulative madmen. A six-part Netflix series (July 28) narrated by Peter Dinklage, it’s a CliffsNotes guide to the teachings, techniques, and terrible scandals that define cults, offering primers on six noteworthy gurus and the methods they employed to attract followers, acquire power, and commit violent acts—both against themselves and those they decried as heretics. Designed as a small-screen instruction manual, it provides only cursory snapshots of its chosen areas of interest. Still, as a general overview of such outfits’ bedrock traits and strategies, it certainly knows about which it speaks.

With a lighthearted tone that makes its half-hour installments easily digestible and yet never undercuts its seriousness, How to Become a Cult Leader examines its tales through archival material, talking-head interviews with experts, authors, and survivors, and animated sequences that dramatize some of its key passages. It also divides up its analysis via text cards—depicted as chapter-heading pages from its figurative how-to tome—that lay out the “tactics” that are central to any cult leader’s success. Couple those devices with Dinklage narration that treads an amusing line between gravity and sarcasm, and the overall package is at once insightful and playful, if not quite as comprehensive as a feature-length documentary (such as many of the aforementioned titles) might be on a given prophet of doom.

Considering its structure, How to Become a Cult Leader leaves a few notorious names out of its survey, including La Luz del Mundo’s Eusebio Joaquin (and his two sons), hot yoga founder Bikram Choudhury, and Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard (and his successor David Miscavige). Other notable cultists such as David Koresh, Keith Raniere, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh are only cursorily referenced. Nonetheless, it doesn’t skimp on the heavy hitters, beginning with Charles Manson, whose story opens the docuseries and helps lay out the best ways to create a cult’s foundation. Those include embracing your holy calling, establishing a unique dogma, and finding your target demographic, which in Manson’s case was young counter-culture kids who, in the late ’60s, were searching for stability, guidance, and answers to the burning questions of their tumultuous era.

Manson’s saga has by now been rehashed countless times, making How to Become a Cult Leader’s recap little more than a sketch. Still, it functions as a decent jumping-off point for the series’ subsequent looks at additional self-proclaimed saviors. Jim Jones’ marriage of traditional Pentecostalism and New Age spirituality with his People’s Temple—culminating in his Kool-Aid-enabled 1978 mass suicide in Guyana—serves as a handy briefing on how cultists grow their flocks, wow would-be disciples, stoke apocalyptic fears, and build isolationist enclaves fit for control. Meanwhile, the episode on Heaven’s Gate’s Marshall Applewhite, who convinced his flock that they were aliens destined to avoid a rapture-like End Times by beaming up to a UFO trailing the Hale-Bopp comet, offers lessons in silencing dangerous doubts, demanding perfection from acolytes, and flipping the script when prophecies don’t go as planned.

That these rules and policies work is proven by former Heaven’s Gate member Stewart, who says about his fellow “travelers,” “I believe they’re on spacecrafts in the Next Level environment, in deep space.” How to Become a Cult Leader discusses at length the sorts of individuals who might be duped by these tricks, and at its end, People’s Temple survivor Yulanda Williams states that if viewers think they could never be ensnared in a cult’s trap, “you’re the kind of person that they’re waiting for.” That’s an ominous soundbite on which to conclude. Yet as with so many like-minded affairs, the one thing missing from the docuseries is recognition of the obvious fact that cults prey upon people who are not only damaged, lost, and susceptible to religious ideas and power structures, but also so gullible that they’ll swallow the most absurd, far-fetched fantasies and lies imaginable. Not everyone would fall for Jones or Applewhite’s nonsense, and suggesting otherwise undercuts the proceedings’ credibility.

Financial and sexual exploitation are also a significant component of How to Become a Cult Leader, including in its third episode about the (relatively lesser known) Jaimie Gomez, a wannabe dancer and actor who persuaded hundreds to wait on him hand and foot, to fork over all their money, and to cut themselves off from family and friends in order to reach enlightenment. Compared to the others featured in the docuseries, he’s somewhat small-time, if a typical megalomaniacal narcissist following a familiar playbook. On the other end of the spectrum are Shoko Asahara, whose Aum Shinrikyo cult was a mainstream cultural force before it carried out the 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subways, and Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, whose mass-wedding stunts and canny political maneuvers have allowed it to outlive its founder’s death.

There isn’t anything profound to be gleaned from How to Become a Cult Leader that hasn’t been covered before, and in greater depth. However, as a snack-sized synopsis of cults and the maneuvers and machinations that allow them to flourish, it’s a reasonably informative and—thanks to Dinklage’s amusingly droll participation—entertaining compendium.




Jul 27, 2023

Twelve Tribes

The Twelve Tribes formerly known as the Vine Christian Community Church, the Northeast Kingdom Community Church, the Messianic Communities, and the Community Apostolic Order is the name of a religious group that was formed in the 1970s by Eugene Spriggs in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The group has spread across the United States and the world and has about 3,000 members worldwide. The Twelve Tribes teach salvation through the Messiyah Jesus Christ, whom they refer to as either Yahshua or by the Amharic name Iyesus Kirisitos. It is perhaps the Rastafari mansion closest in beliefs to Christianity or Messianic Judaism.


Established community in Sús


The parents of a child who died due to lack of care in 1997 were sentenced to twelve years in prison in 2001.

In March 2002, 19 members of Tabitha's Place were convicted by the Court of Appeal in Pau of evading parental legal responsibilities.

Four children were taken from them and placed in social services as part of a judicial investigation launched by the public prosecutor in March 2014 into child abuse. https://www.ladepeche.fr/2023/05/01/apres-le-bearn-la-secte-tabithas-place-va-t-elle-aussi-quitter-toulouse-11168335.php

200 police officers raided the Twelve Tribes community in Sús. Nine men and women were taken into custody. A tenth person was arrested in Perpignan, where the community also has ties. Doctors questioned and examined several minors - four of them, aged 18 months to 13 years, were placed in the social services of the regional office after the discovery of recent traces of physical beating. https://www.ladepeche.fr/article/2015/06/17/2291400-pyrenees-atlantiques-secte-chateau-tabitha-place-suspectee-violences-enfants.html

A second French community is established in Toulouse, where many members move to the disappearing German communities (their children were taken away by the German authorities in 2012)

A French parliamentary committee warns against the Twelve Tribes and the testimony of a young girl, Samie Brousseau, appears https://www.ladepeche.fr/article/2018/05/08/2793846-infos-sectes-inquiete-presence-12-tribus-toulouse.html

Raids in a community in Toulouse


- Termination of activity in France

-According to the French media, the children (even those whose parents are being tried or prosecuted in France) were taken to other European communities. https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/societe/la-secte-tabitha-s-place-annonce-quitter-sus-et-la-france-1959663

Cult News 101 Twelve Tribes Collection

Paddy Gower Has Issues: Catholic order accused of abuse of power, unauthorised exorcisms


July 26, 2024

Michael Morrah


Warning: This story mentions self-harm and may be distressing for some readers. 


There are calls for Catholic Church authorities to intervene at a Christchurch chapel over allegations of controlling and manipulative behaviour by its leaders and unauthorised exorcisms.

The head priests at The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, or Transalpine Redemptorists, deny any wrongdoing.

But Newshub has spoken to more than a dozen former members, including priests and brothers, who raised serious concerns about the conduct of the leaders, Fathers Michael Mary and Anthony Mary. 

Exorcism: The controversial practice that makes me ashamed to be Catholic

'Abuse is wrong': Catholic Church Cardinal reiterates apology for clergy abuse


The allegations

Exorcisms: "Boundaries were overstepped"

Mental health worker Michael Hempseed, who's the founder and director of Frontiers of Hope, had multiple people come to him with concerns.

Some of the issues disclosed related to the way exorcisms had been conducted. 

"The people that came to me from the Oratory, they were some of the most traumatised people that I have ever worked with. 

"I was horrified when I heard what was happening. I heard stories of people being tied down. They describe being screamed at. Having people come right up to their face yelling at them, screaming at them"

Hempseed says he was told in some cases, people pleaded for the rituals to stop. 

"People saying, 'I want this to stop. I want this to stop'. And they would continue. This would go on not just for five minutes, but for hours and hours." 

He says he was also told children were given exorcisms. 

Leaders at The Sons deny ever performing an exorcism on a child, saying they only performed "minor exorcisms" on children which is very different to the full ritual. 

However, Newshub has established at least one young person was left severely traumatised and believed they were possessed after an interaction with a priest. 

Hempseed says there was a common theme among those who came to him with concerns. 

"Each person had a different experience, but very much there was a consistent pattern of manipulation, abusive relationships and control and domination. 

Greg Price is one of the original members of the Latin mass run by the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer. 

He says he tried to raise concerns with Father Michael Mary but felt he wasn't listened to. After he left, Father Michael Mary sent him a letter threatening him with legal action for bad-mouthing the parish. 

Price also had concerns about the way exorcisms were conducted after talking to two friends who had them. 

"My understanding is they're nothing to do with how a catholic exorcism takes place, tying people around the neck to the back of a chair whilst performing the exorcism. And then holding a crucifix and stabbing at them as though the crucifix was a dagger. It's just theatrical. That's madness."

He described Michael Mary as a bully who was unwilling to listen to the concerns of others. 

"I feel a moral obligation to do what I can to try and prevent others from suffering."

A former member of the Parish says she also had concerns about the way exorcisms were carried out. 

The woman, who we've agreed not to identify, says: "Boundaries were overstepped". 

Exorcisms are permitted in New Zealand, but the rules dictate a priest must have permission from a bishop every time such a ritual is carried out. 

The Bishop's office in Christchurch has confirmed that permission was given to The Sons for exorcisms on two adults. 

Permission was granted by former Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin, who was recently installed as the Archbishop of Wellington. 

However, Newshub understands at least seven adults had exorcisms. 

It's understood one person had dozens of exorcisms performed on them, some lasting many hours and performed three days in a row. 

They were tied up during the exorcisms. Another source confirmed several occasions when people were forcefully held down in a chair. 

Auckland Bishop Steve Lowe says it is not normal to tie someone up or use any form of restraint, calling such a practice "cinematic". 

Penance: "Licking the floor"

Mark Robinson, who's now based in Australia, was a Brother with the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer in Christchurch for six years. 

"There's an undercurrent, definitely an undercurrent of fear and anxiety the whole time."

He says if you contradicted Father Michael Mary you'd be punished or given a penance. Many times he was instructed to lie on the floor while others stepped over him on the way to dinner. 

"Another one was making a cross on the floor with your tongue. Licking the floor in the form of a cross with your tongue like, three times, you know, something like that."

He eventually told the leaders he wanted to leave, and claims he was told to sign a confidentiality agreement forbidding him from talking about his time at the parish.

He says the experience was traumatising and took a decade to get over. 

"More than 10 years to sort of get over and heal from a lot of the damage that was done. I mean, my initial thought on getting out of there was this huge sense of relief, like I'd been let out of prison."

Self harm: "I started cutting my skin" 

Another person, who we've agreed not to name, said she found the teachings of priests at The Sons psychologically trapping. 

"While under the leadership of the monks, my mind was shaped into holding very extreme beliefs." she said. 

She said she was taught that she should never question a monk or doubt their holiness, and that anything said against them was the voice of the devil. 

She said she was taught expressing or feeling emotion was unholy, and she should avoid socialising with people outside the parish. 

"These cult-like beliefs were dangerously trapping." 

"The intensity of the fear also caused the development of what is called a spiritual illness, scruples, which is mental terror." 

She said the monks taught that physical penance pleased God. 

"The children were given very extreme examples of saints who hurt themselves. Due to the monks' teachings, I started cutting my skin while I prayed." 

·         If you have further information, contact Michael Morrah in confidence by emailing michael.morrah@wbd.com

Priests too involved in private lives of families: "I was disgusted" 

Another person who spent several months attending the mass given by the Sons of The Most Holy Redeemer says the leader Michael Mary was "charismatic, but at the same time quite controlling." 

The woman, who we've agreed not to identify, says she felt the leaders became too closely involved in the life of her family, and Father Michael Mary's interest in her children joining the order became unhealthy. 

She says Father Michael would contact her sons against her wishes. 

"Getting in contact with some of my children. And in a way, I feel behind my back." 

She said she noticed significant changes with one of her boys, who stopped talking to her and her husband.. 

"He went silent, wouldn't speak to us, really abrupt and snappy. And then he would say, 'Oh, I'll see what Father Michael Mary has to say'." 

Another way she says leaders became too involved in personal matters was during a confession with Father Anthony Mary 

"He asked me very deeply personal questions about my sex life. It made me feel ill. I was disgusted. Made me feel sick, actually."

She says Father Anthony crossed boundaries and the line of questioning was both unnecessary and inappropriate, especially from a priest. 


The leaders respond

Fathers Michael and Anthony Mary refused to be interviewed but did respond to the allegations during an hour-long sermon which they live-streamed from their oratory in Christchurch. 

Unauthorised exorcisms

Father Michael Mary denies priests at The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer ever performed an exorcism without permission from a Bishop. 

"Our take on this is that the allegations simply cannot be true. Our exorcisms of people absolutely must always have the written permission of the bishop. 

"It is too dangerous for a priest to exorcize the devil unless he has permission from the bishop and unless he acts on behalf of the bishop. To do otherwise risked being attacked, oppressed, or even possessed by the devil."

Tying people up

Father Michael Mary says what he called a "safety harness" was sometimes required during an exorcism because the devil can overpower the possessed person. 

"During an exorcism. When the devil takes over the person's body, it is not possible for an average person to restrain the mighty strength that is let loose in the person."

Continuing exorcisms when asked to stop

Father Michael Mary says it is not appropriate to stop an exorcism if a person requests it, saying the devil speaks through the possessed person. 

"Before undertaking exorcism. The participant agrees the exorcist will decide when the exorcism should stop."

"Why? Because the devil, speaking through the possessed person, will call the exorcism to a halt as soon as possible. The evil spirit does not want to be exercised."


Exorcisms on children

Father Michael Mary says only "minor exorcisms" were performed on children.

He says he never needed permission from the Bishop for these. 

"Which did not require the bishop's explicit authorization. As the ritual says, it is meant especially to be employed, quote, 'to expel the devil, sway over a locality'."

He says a minor exorcism and an exorcism are "quite different" and likened a minor exorcism to "insistent sprinkling of holy water around a person."

Licking the floor

Father Michael Mary did not dispute that one penance practised involved licking the floor in the shape of a cross. However, he said this penance was discontinued in 2012 and is now only done on a voluntary basis. 

"These are historical penances that were practised by the canonized saints and members of the Redemptorist Order. I have done them many times."

"If a member practised these today, it would be his private choice and only with permission of his spiritual director. Thirdly, penances are not punishments. They are acts of reparation, sacrifice and humility offered to God."

Too involved with families

Father Michael Mary rejected the suggestion that either he or Father Anthony Mary became too closely involved in the personal lives of families and individuals. 

He says he always does his best to help people.

"Our community is very popular and we are often asked to visit families and individuals.

Dangerous teachings

Father Michael Mary says a priest was kicked out of his order in 2017 for being "too focused on the hard teachings of our Lord." He did not elaborate on what this meant. 

He denied his teachings or that of any other priests were manipulative or trapping. 

"I do not think that the style of preaching or behaviour here is manipulative. Or mentally trapping. Or psychologically damaging. 

He also rejects the suggestion that he or other priests have been too focused on physical penance, or that their teachings would cause some people to harm themselves. 

"Countless examples of doing penance have been given to us by the church over the centuries in the lives of the saints." 

He says priests do make suggestions of penance for Lent. 

"What were the choices suggested? Fasting from the main meal for the day. Total media fast for the day. To take a cold shower for the day, to give up snacks for the day and just for the day to perhaps choose to abstain from eating either meat or eggs or dairy or alcohol or dessert or sugar or sweets. All just for the day.

"Did this result in some children self-harming? I would like to know who. None of these penances are in any way harmful to an ordinary, healthy person." 

You can view Father Michael Mary's response to the allegations here from 28 minutes. 

The Catholic Church responds

The Catholic Church told Newshub it does not consider The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer mainstream Catholicism. However, the group is part of the Christchurch Catholic Diocese. 

Archbishop Paul Martin, who was formerly Bishop of Christchurch, approved two exorcisms at The Sons. He confirmed he is aware of issues regarding their culture, and is "managing the issues." 

"The diocese is managing the collective nature of these matters as per the processes available to the Church, taking into account the sensitivities of some parties affected.  There have been situations where people have come forward with issues but have asked that these not be taken any further."

Newshub asked detailed questions about what checks were done prior to the approvals for exorcisms being granted, but Archbishop Martin did not respond. 

Exorcisms must be conducted according to strict criteria, which includes ensuring a recipient is actually possessed rather than suffering from psychological illness.

It's considered best practice that advice is sought from a medical professional to rule out mental health issues prior to an exorcism taking place. Sources have told Newshub that when it came to exorcisms performed at The Sons, this did not happen. 

Information provided by Auckland Bishop Steve Lowe shows that in the past five years, six exorcisms were approved in the Auckland/Hamilton diocese and six were approved in Christchurch, including two at the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer. 

Newshub also requested figures for the number of complaints or concerns that had been raised about the group with leaders at the Christchurch Diocese. The information was not provided. 

However, Newshub has established independently that in recent years, seven separate complaints or concerns have been raised - either directly with Paul Martin, his predecessor, or with the Church's safeguarding office in Christchurch. 

Calls to intervene

Mental health worker Michael Hempseed says when he sent a detailed complaint to then Christchurch Bishop Steve Martin, he did not hear back. 

He told Newshub he felt "utterly betrayed." 

"The church is there to protect people. The church should be there to look after particularly innocent children."

Former member of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer Greg Price says he also faced brick walls when complaining to Paul Martin. He told Newshub "nothing" happened. 

 "I sent an email asking and basically laying out some of my concerns and asking for a meeting with him. The only reply I got was basically thank you for acknowledging that they had received the email."

Massey University Emeritus Professor Peter Lineham says the response from Archbishop Paul Martin that issues are being managed is not good enough.

"If you permit priests to use religious authority with all the, you know, terror potentially of internal hell that you can invoke if you say that this is at stake, and when in fact, the person is psychologically injured. Well, that is right up there in the sort of abuse that the royal commission is investigating."

The Sons are part of the Christchurch diocese and rules dictate that they can operate with relative autonomy. 

However, church law states the bishop has power over them when it comes to the "care of souls". In other words, the care of ordinary churchgoers. 

Professor Lineham says given the multiple allegations the bishop should have acted. 

"The first and fundamental concern of the church must be to intervene to protect lay people whose very spiritual health and well being is at stake."

·         If you have further information, contact Michael Morrah in confidence by emailing michael.morrah@wbd.com

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