All posts tagged: Cults

Evangelical Christians’ Move Towards Right-Wing Politics with Frank Schaeffer

In my book The Cult of Trump, I present a thesis that Donald Trump was a symptom of decades of right-wing maneuvering to gain power and institute a theocracy by eliminating the separation between Church and State, which the Founders of the Constitution tried to ensure would not happen. White evangelical Christians, among other powerful groups like The Family, Opus Dei, and the New Apostolic Reformation, appear to support this movement and, indeed, are the driving force behind it because they believe Trump is being used to do ‘God’s work.’ Someone very experienced in talking about this issue is Frank Schaeffer. He was born and bred into an evangelical fundamentalist life and went on to play an active role in helping to politicize evangelical leaders. He has now bravely written and spoken about his regret at the part he played in this process and is an active religious reform activist.

The Traumatizing Narcissist’s Relational System with Daniel Shaw, LCSW

Narcissism is a word often overused to describe people who are selfish or generally uncaring of others. In the clinical sense, it has a set of criteria one must meet for diagnosis, and quite often, cult leaders meet these criteria. Daniel Shaw, LCSW and cult survivor, talks with us about his experiences within a cult, exiting the group, and his work on traumatic narcissism.  Shaw is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City and in Nyack, New York. Originally trained as an actor at Northwestern University and with the renowned teacher Uta Hagen in New York City, Shaw later worked as a missionary for an Indian guru. His eventual recognition of the cultic aspects of this organization led him to become an outspoken activist in support of individuals and families traumatically abused in cults. 

Humiliation, Media Shaming, Trauma as well as work with the FLDS with Dr. Christine Marie 

We can use psychology to understand media shaming and ask the right questions   Media shaming has been around for decades, but the advent of the Internet and 24/7 information cycles have taken it in an entirely new and intense direction. The effects of this on everyday people’s lives are monumental and sometimes deadly.   Dr. Christine

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.  

Daniella Mestyanek Young, survivor of notorious sex cult Children of God

Growing up in a Sex Cult with Former Army Captain Daniella Mestyanek Young

Have you heard the term “cult baby?” This refers to someone born or raised in a mind control religious human trafficking cult. Daniella Mestyanek Young is a third-generation survivor of the notorious sex cult Children of God (COG), later rebranded as “The Family of Love.” The cult group’s influence even extended so far that members

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. 

Sarma Melngailis, survivor of a one-on-one cultic relationship

One-on-One Cults – How Coercive Control Made Sarma Melngailis the Bad Vegan 

If you watched the Netflix series Bad Vegan, you saw a twisted and deliberately confusing version of the story of my guest, Sarma Melngailis. Her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, and her raw vegan brand Lucky Duck captured the hearts of healthy eaters in Manhattan. Her brands and personality were famous among major celebrities to high-profile politicians. In my professional opinion, she fell victim to an artful, designing psychopath who used one-on-one mind control. The situation blew up because of her celebrity and how much money he extracted from her while alienating her from her family. 

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.