All posts tagged: authoritarianism

Jon Atack, author of Opening Our Minds

Opening Our Minds – on Predators and Prevention with Jon Atack

Jon Atack’s Opening Our Minds is quite simply the best new book on authoritarian cults. It digs into the reasons why authoritarianism is ruining the world and what we can do about it. Jon and I first met over thirty years ago; I was the “go-to” guy on the Moonies, and Jon was the “go-to” guy on Scientology. However, we found more in common than our expertise on cults – we hit it off immediately and have been fast friends ever since. There is much to admire about Jon: he is an artist, a musician, a writer, a historian and biographer, a scholar-practitioner, and a truly grounded, authentic individual. Despite decades of exploring the worst aspects of human behavior, he is also thoroughly life-affirming and believes that we have the tools to save the future from the human predators who are so intent on wrecking it.

A Billion Years: My Escape From a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology with Mike Rinder

I was excited when I learned that Mike Rinder wrote a new book, A Billion Years: My Escape From a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology. The book’s title was an ode to his billion-year commitment when he joined the Sea Organization (Sea Org) shortly after graduating high school in 1973. Rinder rose to become the top leader in the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), where, among other duties, he oversaw the “fair game” harassment of all perceived enemies, including the non-profit Cult Awareness Network. When he left Scientology in 2007, he decided to expose the criminal behavior of Scientology. I was very interested in asking him specific questions about his knowledge of Scientology.  

Jeffrey Augustine, dedicated to exposing cult propagandists

Exposing Cult Propagandists with ex-Scientologist Jeffrey Augustine 

The Cult of Cult Apologists is the name of a new blog based on months of research by Augustine, a journalist, and former Scientologist. Scientology is one of the most well-known destructive cults of our time. Well-funded and organized, they have a long history of pain and suffering, lies, and criminal activity. Jeffrey Augustine dedicates his

Frederick Clarkson and Andre Gagne discuss the New Apostolic Reformation

The Growing Rift Inside the New Apostolic Reformation with Frederick Clarkson and André Gagné

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a reorganized, large Pentecostal and charismatic movement reframed by the religious right to move into politics. My guests on this episode of the Influence Continuum are warning people about the dangers associated with the rise of the NAR.  Frederick Clarkson has written and worked at the intersection of religion and politics for over four decades. He’s currently a Senior Research analyst at Political Research Associates, a is a social justice research and strategy center in Somerville, Massachusetts. He’s also the author of a very important book that I recommend everyone read called Eternal Hostility – The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, a subject that everyone’s talking about in the media these days. 

Lone-Actor Terrorism: An Integrated Framework 

Public attention to the phenomenon of lone-actor terrorism has seemed to rise in recent decades. Tragic shootings in just the last two months have brought this phenomenon into even sharper relief: a school shooting in Uvalde, which prompted outrage over law enforcement and U.S. gun control policies; the July 4th Highland Park shooting in Chicago, which again led to an interrogation of the internet’s role in motivating lone-actor terrorists; and, most recently, the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which brought to light how the Unification Church’s predatory financial tactics factored into the shooter’s motivations. We also know mass shootings occur on a larger scale than just those involving high-profile, lone-actor terrorist cases; in fact, over 300 have occurred in the U.S. in 2022 alone.  

Allen Tate Wood, former Moon cult leader

The Moon Cult: An Interview with former top American leader Allen Tate Wood

With the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by Tetsuya Yamagami, the Moon cult is back in the news. Abe became a target, reportedly because he and his father publicly supported the Moon cult. The assassin was reportedly furious because his mother had given away all the family money to the cult. I interviewed former top American political leader of Unification Church, Allen Tate Wood, and wish to expose the mindset of cult psychology.

The Rise of Right-Wing, Anti-Democratic Ideology in India: A Conversation with Narendra Nayak

Almost four years ago, I spoke with my friend Narendra Nayak about the rise of right-wing religious and political extremism in India. I had contacted him after learning of the killing of Gauri Lankesh. Lankesh was an activist journalist who was openly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and their extremist Hindutva ideology. There are many similarities between the rise of conservative, right-wing ideologies in India and the United States. I recently spoke with Nayak to discuss the current social and political situations in India and the United States. 

Indigenous Worldview

The Worldviews of Indigenous Peoples Can Help Repair Social & Political Discord

Last October, I did an interview and blog with Dr. Cindy Blackstock to discuss Indigenous People’s Day (no longer Columbus Day). I recently interviewed her again for my new podcast, The Influence Continuum. We had an extraordinarily rich and stimulating discussion that included the truck convoy’s presumable protest against COVID vaccination and mask mandates...

Donald Trump

The Public Health Disaster of Donald Trump, a Narcissistic and Sociopathic President

When Donald Trump was elected in 2016, many voices were raised predicting the damage to our democratic way of life that a leader with his psychological disposition would do. Chief among these voices was a group of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who wrote the in-depth and scientifically based book, The Dangerous Case of

exmormon

LDS (Mormon) Church, Leaving & Recovery–Reddit AMA: ExMormons

This past Sunday (January 9, 2022), I was invited to answer questions about the Mormon Church during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) for the subreddit group, ExMormon. This is the link to the entire thread: AMA: I'm Steven Hassan, Ask Me Anything! : exmormon (reddit.com). I had recently written...