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.  

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. 

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. 

Leaving NXIVM, an Authoritarian Cult, Was Not the End: A Conversation with Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames

Two years ago, in May of 2020, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Edmondson for my blog. Sarah, and her husband Anthony (Nippy) Ames, met while both were high-ranking members of NXIVM, a cult founded by Keith Raniere. At the time of that interview, Raniere had been convicted of federal crimes that included sex trafficking and conspiracy. In October 2020, Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

The BITE Model of Authoritarian Control: Undue Influence, Thought Reform, Brainwashing, Mind Control, Trafficking and the Law

Update: January 2021: Dissertation has been published. <https://www.proquest.com/docview/2476570146/> In 1976, I was deprogrammed from the Moon cult. Since then, I have helped thousands of individuals leave and recover from the harmful influence of destructive cults. …

The BITE Model of Authoritarian Control: Undue Influence, Thought Reform, Brainwashing, Mind Control, Trafficking and the Law Read More

People of Praise Covenant Community: BITE Model© of Authoritarian Control Evaluation

Since Judge Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republicans are seeking to fast-track her confirmation before the end of October. The Trump administration and its Senators are trying to frame some of the opposition to her nomination as religious intolerance. Our concern at Freedom of Mind is not about religious beliefs. It is about authoritarian and abusive practices. In fact, People of Praise has a long history of controversy along with other Covenant communities with similar DNA.  

Law Professor Robin Boyle-Laisure Discusses Using Trafficking to Prosecute Cult Leaders Like Raniere of NXIVM

I recently watched the first four episodes of  The Vow, a new HBO series about the cult of Keith Raniere. It tells the story through the experience of former leaders of the cult Mark Vicente and his wife Bonnie Piesse and Sarah Edmondson and her husband, Anthony Ames and then expands to Catherine and her daughter India Oxenberg and Allison Mack. I think the first few episodes give a window for the public to see how  intelligent, educated well meaning people including actors, filmmakers, businesspeople and billionaires get deceptively recruited into a destructive cult. It is well known in the media as NXIVM but had other recruiting front groups like Executive Success programs or ESP. It was the secret DOS group which branded women by their genitals as a sign of their life commitment to be a slave to their master, ultimately Raniere. Keith Raniere, known to members as Vanguard, is a malignant narcissist and claimed to the world’s most intelligent person. Of course, it was only one of the many lies he told. What is true is that he had previously been busted for running a multi-level marketing group  (MLM) called Consumer’s Buyline which was shut down by twenty Attorneys General as an illegal pyramid scheme. Part of the settlement was Raniere was told to never to operate a multi-level marketing group again. However, the cult he created essentially was just this, as it sold coaching and seminars instead of products. Former NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson talked to me about being recruited into and escaping Raniere’s cult and bringing charges that led to him being convicted of 7 felony counts in the criminal case of United States vs. Raniere, which was conducted in the federal court in the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn courthouse). He is awaiting sentencing while in jail. I did a long post on mind control methods used by NXIVM including a BITE model analysis.

COVID-19 Pandemic is NOT Proof of the End Times as Proclaimed by Doomsday Cult Leaders

This year, 2020, has unfortunately been full of triggering events for many former members of Doomsday cults. There have been earthquakes in Croatia, Russia, and Texas to name just a few. Locusts have swarmed parts of East Africa damaging crops and livelihoods. The coronavirus pandemic is being described by some as a global pestilence. All of these major phenomena are being described by Bible-esque cults as doomsday predictions and fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This applies to so called fundamentalists in many religions too, according to Stephen Kent, sociologist and expert on cults. “These include Christianity, Islam, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Scientology, and fundamentalist Hinduism,” according to Kent.

Lev Parnas, Michael Cohen, Omarosa Manigault Newman, George Conway, Anthony Scaramucci, Rick Wilson and Others: Trump is a Cult Leader

Lev Parnas, during his interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, described himself as waking up from a cult and Donald Trump like a “cult leader.” Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney for twelve years, expressed similar …

Lev Parnas, Michael Cohen, Omarosa Manigault Newman, George Conway, Anthony Scaramucci, Rick Wilson and Others: Trump is a Cult Leader Read More