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Found 78 results

  1. Carlos Castaneda became a counter culture sensation in the 1960s based on his “scholarly” books that allegedly described his apprenticeship with a Yaqui sorcerer: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Castaneda If you’ve ever seen that episode of the Simpsons where Homer goes on a search for his soulmate after hallucinating in magical chili peppers, that was based on Castañeda’s works. Today most reputable scholars agree that his books are fiction, but Castañeda still has a following and said books have never been out of print. During his lifetime, Castañeda built up a cult of personality among a small group of followers. However, when he died in 1998,his closest female followers, known as “the witches,” mysteriously disappeared and have not been seen or heard from since. It is generally believed that the women committed suicide as a group in keeping with Castañeda’s teachings: https://www.salon.com/2007/04/12/castaneda/ (good article about the bizarre world Castañeda built) (BBC documentary about Castañeda and the disappearance of his “witches”) As the article from Salon mentions, the skeletal remains of Nurie Alexander, Castañeda’s adopted daughter/ex-lover/student were found in Death Valley in 2006, the only “witch” whose death has been proven. Because so much time had passed, investigators were unable to ascertain the manner of her death, but my guess is that she either consciously committed suicide or died from exposure while thinking she was going to be assumed into another reality.
  2. So today I learned of Gwen Shamblin, a woman who runs a church (some say cult) in Tennessee called Remnant Fellowship Church. She became famous for creating the The Weigh Down Workshop, which includes apparently savoring the minutiae of a tortilla chip for ten minutes so you only eat one or two. A major tenet of her ministry is that being overweight equals sinning, and hating and defying God/ Gwen. Not surprisingly, she also doesn't agree with taking any medications. She has caused controversy among evangelicals by denying the trinity. In 2005 the church was in the headlines when two members beat their son to death, allegedly as part of church sanctioned discipline. The church is very prosperity gospel focused and hosts tons of formal events that Shamblin appears at with her son and daughter in blue satin sashes proclaiming their holiness. It's said her husband is actually a bit heavy. He, of course, does not appear in public. I'm fascinated. Tell me all you know, FJers. But pictures are worth a thousand words:
  3. Because the news wasn't full of enough weird, creepy news: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimderogatis/parents-told-police-r-kelly-is-keeping-women-in-a-cult?utm_term=.iqA44w0Nz7#.ppLKKZXLNq Since the women involved are adults and can join any sort of organization they want, there's not much that can be done from a legal perspective unless Kelly has done something demonstrably illegal. I guess we'll see how this story unfolds.
  4. 48 Hours has an interesting new episode about an Australian cult run by a women who said she was Christ reincarnated. They were very child centered and she even stole other people's children. Very interesting commentary by a cult expert about how photographs show how children's personalities are being suppressed. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/inside-the-family-cult-australia-anne-hamilton-byrne/
  5. Word of Faith Fellowship

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article134790299.html In short, the Word of Faith Fellowship is a church that's come under investigation for severe abuse, often manifesting as "blasting", where congregants literally beat the shit out of someone to expel demons. Sexual, spiritual, and emotional abuse also abound. Victims are trained from an early age to lie to authorities. Nearly all the members were encouraged to live in the same town so as to keep the community isolated. Most people interviewed for the article had been brought into the cult as children, and have been cut off from their families for leaving. In my area, too. Jeezy creezy.
  6. I think most FJ people are aware of Doug Wilson's (Moscow, ID fundie Reformed Godfather of Christ Church) vigorous defense of two convicted and unrepentant pedophile, and his continued online attacks against the victim of one of the pedophiles. Wilson, who has also been caught out in multiple cases of plagiarism, is the all-powerful founder and head of the Christ Church and the utterly unaccredited New St Andrew's Seminary in Moscow, ID and seems to control about half the town's population. Natalie Greenfield, now grown and married and a mother of three, has spoken openly and candidly of Wilson's manipulations of her parents and herself as a young teen, when it was discovered that seminarian Jamin Wright, in his 20s and boarding with the Greenfields, had groomed and abused Natalie as a young teen. Wright has since reoffended. Wilson was also the officiant at the wedding of Steven Sitler, a convicted pedophile in Wilson's congregation, to a young woman also in the church. Sitler was considered at very high risk for reoffending and his probation officer filed a warning with the court that the couple intended to have children and this was a bad, bad idea. Since then, Sitler has reoffended with his own infant son. Wison not only refuses to take any responsibility for creating a church environment where victims were villified and abusers forgive immediately, he's also been on a bizarre crusade to "prove" that there was no abuse of Natalie Greenfield. Due to arrest records and court records, he cannot argue that 20-something Wright had not had a sexual relationship with Greenfield, who had barely reached her teens. Wilson's position is that the relationship was approved by Natalie's parents (they have denied this), that Natalie could not have been abused because she was quite tall for her age, and also that Natalie could not possibly have been abused because her husband - who she met years after the abuse - made a performance art video as part of his MFA thesis in which he appeared nude. That last one requires some dazzling leaps of logic. Anyway, someone keeps very good track of the developments in the various cases and the histories of the crimes (and Doug Wilson's involvement) on a website, moscowid.net. They've posted a link today to a 400 page meticulously researched and documented report on the two cases and Wilson's unwavering support of both pedophiles. The document contains email exchanges with Wilson, as well as interviews with law enforcement and the local prosecutor. I've kept up with the Wilson mess because it's mind-boggling that this man claims to be the victim of evil feminists and God-haters and at the same time proudly defends his documented record of enabling the sexual assault of minors. So, if anyone is trapped inside on a rainy Saturday, the report is available on the moscowid.net website in PDF format, titled "Analyzing Douglas Wilson’s Handling of the Steven Sitler and Jamin Wight Cases." Just don't eat first, because what this man has done will make you nauseous.
  7. Survivor Account of Tony Alamo Ministries

    I recently found out about the thankfully defunct Tony Alamo Ministries, and found this account of a woman who was raised in this craziness: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/09/inside_the_arkansas_compound_t.html Franckiewicz's story has a happy ending, since she escaped and Alamo was put in prison. I seriously doubt Gothard, for example, will ever have to pay for his crimes, although now I'm wondering if the Bateses and Duggars will be praying to resurrect him when he eventually dies.
  8. hard to tell if this is real or not. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/16/school-teaching-creationism-with-video-from-islamic-sex-cult.html?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link Youngstown, Ohio, students are learning creationism in school with materials from a Islamic, Holocaust-denying group accused of being a sex cult. A curriculum map (PDF) recommends teachers in this public school district show a creationist video, Cambrian Fossils and the Creation of Species, as part of 10th-grade science education. The video claims that the Cambrian Explosion “totally invalidates the theory of evolution.” The Cambrian Explosion was a time period, nearly 550 million years ago, where, over the next tens of millions of years, the number of species on Earth experienced a (relatively) rapid expansion by evolutionary standards. Christian creationists regularly point to this explosion of life as evidence for creation by God and against evolution. Blink and you’d miss the Islamic connection in the video. A black screen flashes for less than one second that says “this film is based on the works of Harun Yahya.” In the right corner, there’s a gold bubble that says, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” in Arabic. Harun Yahya, whom The Daily Beast has covered before, is a pseudonym for Adnan Oktar, a creationist cult leader and Islamic televangelist who owns Turkey’s A9 TV channel. Yahya (along with his followers) is the author of hundreds books, including an 800-page Atlas of Creation, and another (PDF), which Oktar has now disavowed, titled The Holocaust Deception: The Hidden Story of Nazi-Zionist Collaboration and the Inner Story of the Hoax of “Jewish Holocaust.”
  9. I had known that the Heaven's Gate Website was still up in all its late 1990s tackiness, but I had always assumed that it was just another relic of the Geocities age: http://www.heavensgate.com/ However, as it turns out, the website is very much alive, and if you send emails, you can get replies, and you can buy Heaven's Gate books and VHS tapes: http://gizmodo.com/the-online-legacy-of-a-suicide-cult-and-the-webmasters-1617403237 It's interesting that the Kings haven't updated the aesthetics of the website or migrated the files from 3.5 floppy discs. I guess they want to honor the intentions of their "classmates" by keeping everything in the format they originally received it.
  10. I've studied a lot of cults and thought I'd heard it all, but I think Roch Thériault's cult may be the worst I've heard: TRIGGER WARNING!!! http://politicsrusprinciple.tumblr.com/tagged/Roch-Th%C3%A9riault (scroll down for the long post with the main story) I'm not going to do a summary, because I don't even know where to begin or how to explain it. All I can say is that Thériault sounds like a cross between David Koresh, Warren Jeffs, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Given that, I want to warn you that this story is extremely graphic and contains descriptions of abuse that are almost beyond comprehension. But this story shows why we can't turn a blind eye to sects like these that basically function as personal fiefdoms for psychopaths.
  11. Strong City Cult

    My gateway fundie group is not one that has been discussed here before . . . the Lord Our Righteousness Church, a Seventh Day Adventist derivative in northeastern New Mexico. They ate a very sparing vegetarian diet; the women wore long hair, long skirts, and no makeup; by some standards, they were considered a millennial cult. Strong City (another name) achieved fame/notoriety in 2007 when a documentary was produced by Ben Anthony and it aired on National Geographic. (I've linked to part one on Youtube - you should be able to go through the other parts with the menu on the right.) There was a follow-up documentary which I will dig out. The revelations in the documentary lead to a police investigation; eventually, their leader, Wayne Bent (Michael), was sent to prison because of the criminal sexual contact he had with underage members. I have been hesitant to discuss them here because MANY members of the church moved on and are now out in society, living their lives. I want to respect that and not invade their privacy. Of any group I've ever read about, the LOR put more out on the web (many page still available through Wayback) and the followers were as facile in social networking as any organization I've seen. They also have a predilection for changing their names - Travesser is their chosen surname (for the whole group.) Wayne Bent was released from prison in February: http://www.abqjournal.com/724888/news/religious-sect-leader-wayne-bent-is-out-of-prison.html He is apparently back on the LOR property, and back to producing his word salad on the interwebz: https://waynebent.com/ And I see that followers have again begun defending him on news stories. So - what happens to a cult when a leader is removed from the community and then returns? How has this group's belief system affected people long-term? That's what fascinates me. (And don't be surprised if someone shows up here - they are very assertive about people discussing them.)
  12. I mentioned this case in the Ardnt family thread, but I think it deserves a thread of its own. The short version is that this psychotic narcissist pervert, Marcus Wesson, started his own family-cult that taught that the End Times were near, that Jesus was a vampire, and that they should be prepared to commit suicide at any moment. He took on his own nieces and daughters (step and bio) as "sister wives" and numerous children were born of these incestous unions. When two of the nieces tried to leave the cult and take their children with them, Wesson set in place a murder-suicide pact that left nine people dead, including most of the young children who had been born via incest. This article gives a good overview of the cult, and the brainwashing the members underwent: http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/marcus-wesson-mass-murder-surviving-family-speaks-abuse/story?id=11089648 I noticed a number of similarities to some of the tactics our fundies use, including: isolationist homeschooling to keep kids ignorant, not just about the world in general, but ignorant about how dysfunctional their family is the father became "god" in the eyes of the children, while mother is beaten down and ineffectual children identifying with their abuser(s) poor living conditions rationalized as "holy" or just convenient to hide the kids from people who might ask uncomfortable questions an obsession with the end times abuse (sexual, physical, emotional) is seen as a routine part of life endless prayer and Bible study sessions used to indoctrinate sexuality is strictly controlled or monitored Now, I'm not suggesting that any of the families that are usually discussed here are as psychotic as Marcus Wesson, but reading about this case really impressed on me how easy it is to create a cult within a family, especially when the children are isolated from the outside world and have no other points of reference or trusted adults who might be able to intervene. Although the cult ended in the worst way possible for the youngest victims, at least Wesson's remaining young adult children have been able to overcome their traumatic pasts and build normal, healthy lives.
  13. I watched most of the video, but this was just all sorts of all over the place. Cult practices, wealthy leader, weird, faux feminist views, with more make-up and plastic surgery, then a "House wifes of..." show. Thought this was worth, a look at, I would be interested in learning more about them. https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/video/inside-the-weird-world-of-an-islamic-feminist-cult?utm_source=broadlyfbukads
  14. The IBLP Lawsuit

    If you have spent any time on Free Jinger, you will likely recognize the acronyms ATI and IBLP. This is the fundamentalist ministry created by Bill Gothard, an unmarried man who believes such things as: There has long been talk about both Bill Gothard and his brother committing acts of sexual misconduct with female employees and interns. As long ago as 1980, Gothard admitted to "moral failures" with some of the staff. We at FJ have long awaited some kind of action to be taken against this unmarried man who had unlimited access to vulnerable women who are taught from birth that if a man "stumbles" it is the woman's fault. On around October 21, 2015, we became aware that a civil lawsuit had finally been filed against IBLP and all the members of the Board. Bill Gothard is no longer part of the organization, having been forced to resign after another round of accusations in 2014. The board members named in the lawsuit are: John Stancil, Anthony Burrus, Gil Bates, Timothy Levendusky, Charles Stephen Paine, Jr., and David York. From Recovering Grace: The Complain in it's entirety can be found at the Chicago Tribune Each of the 5 Plaintiffs are asking for $50,000. Once a leader in the homeschooling movement, Gothard's ministry has managed to largely fly under the radar of the general public, despite having some rather high profile adherents. Recently, Rep. Daniel Webster (R -FL) was considering a run for Speaker of the House, following John Boehner's resignation. Arguably the most famous followers are The Duggar family of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting, which was cancelled after several scandals related to the oldest Duggar child, Josh. In May, 2015, In Touch magazine dropped the bombshell that when Josh Duggar was a teenager he sexually abused at least 5 girls, including several of his siblings. In August, it was revealed that Josh had not one, but two accounts at Ashley Madison, a website which has the tagline "Life is short. Have an affair." For some 10 seasons, the Duggars have been promoted by TLC as a (very) large, happy Christian family. They have shown the Duggars on the campaign trail for politicians such a Mike Huckabee and RIck Santorum. While claiming to be a shiny, happy Christian family, the Duggars have spoken out against the gay community and abortion. Josh was hired by the Family Research Council and moved to Washington, DC, which was also documented on 19 Kids and Counting. Recently, Gothard and his ministry have gotten more mainstream attention thanks to Josh Duggars misconduct and hypocrisy coming to light. While the Duggar family show, 19 Kids and Counting was cancelled by TLC, they have recently announced that they plan to do several "special episodes" of a show starring the newly married Duggar children, Jill Dillard and Jessa Sewald. What some people may not know is that another high profile Gothard adherent also has a TV show. Gil Bates and his family have a show titled Bringing Up Bates on the UP network. The Bateses are often seen as a less strict, more fun version of the Duggars. They also have 19 kids and in the last several years have married off 4 children, some of which were shown on either 19 Kids and Counting or Bringing up Bates. In fact, one of the Bates children married the son of Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) You might recognize the name Gil Bates from earlier in this post. That's right, he is a member of the Board of IBLP and was named in the lawsuit. The general public may have the Duggar's number thanks to Josh, but there is still a high profile IBLP member that has a platform to show off these dangerous beliefs on TV and he seems to be slipping under the radar, just like the Duggars did for many years. Please join us for discussion here: http://www.freejinger.org/topic/24484-negligence-lawsuit-filed-against-iblp/#top Further reading: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/22/five-women-sue-bill-gothards-ministry-that-has-ties-to-the-duggars/ http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2015/10/23/fundamentalist_duggar_connected_ministry_is_sued_for_sex_abuse_cover_up.html http://www.salon.com/2015/10/23/the_cult_of_duggar_worship_must_be_stopped_theres_nothing_glamorous_about_the_familys_ongoing_hypocrisy/
  15. A judge granted temporary custody of four children to their mother, who fled with them this summer from her husband and a restrictive religious enclave -- the House of Yahweh religious sect. Amy Hawkins waited until her husband left for work one morning in July and broke church rules by downloading Facebook to her phone, which she used to contact her mother-in-law, Claudia Owen. Hawkins also said she was leaving her husband and the House of Yahweh enclave near Clyde, Texas, and Owen invited her to come 1,200 miles away to her home in South Carolina. The cult-monitoring website Religioustolerance.org says the House of Yahweh meets 10 out of 10 criteria as a dangerous or high-risk organization. http://www.rawstory.com/2015/09/woman-f ... ious-sect/
  16. Buzzfeed has posted an article exposing the abusive practices of a group called "Jesus People USA" Some of you may have seen some of my rants on here about the Jehovah's Witnesses, a cult that has been responsible for covering up countless cases of child sex abuse in their congregations. Disgustingly, it looks like the Jesus People are yet another culty group that is doing that sort of thing: I am so fucking sick of these cults using their control over people to sexually abuse their members. I think America needs to wise up and stop letting religion be a haven for abusers. A lot of these culty groups will punish any dissenters with shunning to keep them in line. People who have started to question the group truly have to be strong enough to walk away from EVERYONE they love.
  17. Good article about cults briefly mentioning ATI . I saw no reason to break link http://www.fairobserver.com/region/nort ... gic-90134/
  18. I went to the wedding of a dear Friend of mine from college yesterday. I knew that in college she always went to a home church on Sunday. She wasn't fundie by any means (wore regular clothes, believed in evolution, got her college degree in management etc.), but religion was important to her. She never proselytized, and we had lots of great conversations about religion in general (I'm a liberal Jew). Although since graduating college (5 years ago) we only see each other a few times a year, nothing seems to have changed. She doesn't seem fundie, has a high powered corporate job, and doesn't constantly talk religion. Anyway, at her wedding yesterday, the ceremony was EXTREMELY fundie-esque. Jesus was thanked multiple times for bringing the couple together, several people gave testimonies, there was a 30 min portion called "sharing of the word" that had a super fundie vibe. The kept mentioning the importance of marrying within the church and keeping Christ in the center of the marriage. They also referred to other members of the church as saints (I'd only heard of that among LDS folks before). Finally, during the vows, she agreed to take her husband as her head. It felt very fundie. After college she went to a one year religious studies program. I didn't think much of it, but after the wedding, I looked at the program in more detail. It's a fundie paradise-non-denominational and claims to train folks for service to the lord- the website is ftta.org. That research led me down the rabbit hole to discover that she is part of a movement called Local Church or Lord's Recovery that follows Watchman Nee and Witness Lee's teachings. They have a large ministry called Living Stream (lsm.org) and use their own translation of the bible called the recovery bible-recoveryversion.org/?__utma=1.17018449.1434332536.1434332536.1434332536.1&__utmb=|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=(not%20provided)&__utmv=-&__utmk=19084728 Sorry for the insanely long explanation, but the whole thing seems scarily reminiscent of Gothard. Does anyone know anything about Living Stream, Local Churches, Lord's Recovery, Witness Lee and/or Watchman Nee? Should I be concerned about this brand of Christianity? Thanks!
  19. Cult Warning Sign Checklist

    I think one of the reasons these crazy religions are able to get a foothold is because many people don't know the warning signs of a cult. How many of these warning signs can you see in the fundies we follow? To me, A LOT of these apply. http://i.imgur.com/tzFegxg.png
  20. Cult expert Steven Hassan interviewed on Podcast

    Cult Expert Steven Hassan was interviewed on a podcast run by ex-Jehovah's Witnesses recently For those who are not familiar with Hassan's work, he used to be involved in the Moonies (explained here for younguns/non-Americans) and was a "model member" for a while. Eventually, his family staged an intervention to get him out of the cult. Since then, he has worked on educating the public about how cults brainwash people and how to help loved ones who are trapped inside cults. While obviously the focus of JW Podcast is on the Jehovah's Witnesses, his comments apply to a lot of groups. Since a lot of the fundies we follow have a lot of cult-like tendencies (I literally do consider Steve Maxwell to be using cult mind control techniques on his family, as you can see from this page that explains more about cult criteria), I thought some of you might find what he has to say interesting. It helps explain how people get mixed up in these groups, why they find it hard to leave, and how we can help people escape. His comments around 28 minutes in about how cults expect children to behave like little adults and use fear/violence to control them definitely rings true of the "blanket training" stuff I think.
  21. This community looks nearly amish like fundie, http://www.cults.co.nz/c.php#cooperites [] they left their community to start life in the rest of society. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/artic ... d=11415552
  22. The Faith Christian Church, a ministry at the University of Arizona founded by a self proclaimed ex-con with a background in the cultish Maranatha campus ministries of the 70's and 80's is being investigated for controlling, abusive behavior towards it's student members. Alienation from parents, authoritarian practices, and controlling member's money are being alleged. The college seems to be claiming that there is little they can do to police on campus ministries because of a state law that does not allow public entities to "impede the practice of religion" This is an interesting article from the Arizona Daily Star. http://tucson.com/news/local/tucson-min ... e4673.html
  23. Has anyone heard of this guy? I came across his name looking through the Brown family wreath. He is a Mormon who leads a small group of followers. I gather they sometimes practice polygamy. He claims he is the reincarnation of Hyrum Smith and has even gotten a descendent of Smith's hooked. That little lady gave Chris her burial plot near Hyrum so he can put up a tombstone for himself and Hyrum- since they are the same person. Nemelka claims that he has unsealed the sealed portion of Joseph Smith's revelations. He is/was a polygamist, con artist and scammer, likely mentally unstable. I can't get a read on how many followers he has. Most of the critics I am finding are regular old Mormons who think he is perverting their religion. I don't see a lot of non-LDS info on him out there. Here's a start: chrisnemelka.com/timeline-2/ More info: chrisnemelka.com/category/lies-deceit/ http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/sealed-f ... lText=true
  24. A young woman known by "Bethany" met a young man in a Christian organization at college and they were mutually attracted immediately. Along the way, he helped her get an A in a tough class, and to thank him, she remembered that he'd said his family almost never had money to eat out at a nice place, so she invited him to dinner. They went out, he insisted on paying, they were obviously in love, and for all intents and purposes were engaged to be married. Then his parents - devoted disciples of Doug Phillips' Vision Forum cult, got involved. Long story short, the young couple didn't make it. Bethany is recovering, but her ex ... well, read for yourself, if you wish: Almost trapped .... trapped. Bethany was almost trapped -- her ex, his parents and siblings, not so lucky. As Julie Anne at SSB points out, Dougie is now a member-in-good-standing of a non-family-integrated church, and who knows what forces he is marshaling for a return to wholesale deception. He's quiet, but he's not gone away. He'll never go away. He and his foul cronies in patriarchialism and theonomy must be monitored and brought to light and disputed.