You might be surprised how many people get themselves involved in cults. Cults are seriously messed up for a few reasons. One, they often make their members do weird and sometimes illegal things, and two, they're only in it for themselves. It’s the members who end up broke, beaten, raped, or dead. Many people fall into that trap, however, because they're lonely or they're in a position in their lives where they just want to belong. It could be because of family troubles, a terrible breakup, or something that has happened to make them vulnerable, and cults feed off of that.
Belonging to a cult can be addicting. You're welcomed in like you're one of the family. It feels nice to belong to someone to be made to feel like everything is going to be okay. You're one of them now, and you follow wherever they lead you. You sing some songs, you laugh, and then your god, Charles Manson, walks into the room. Just kidding. If you were a part of a cult, hopefully, it wasn’t that one because they were some murdering freaks. The problem is that these people don’t realize that they're in something bad until it’s too late. You don’t need Charles Manson to walk into the room to realize that something is very wrong with the cult that you're in. For these few people, they were in cults and lived to tell about it.
15 Sold to a Cult
We’re not sure how this child was sold to a cult, but that's a sickening thought. Was the child sold by his own parents or was he kidnapped and then sold? It’s not evident here, but the thought that a child would have to experience a situation like that is terrible.
“I was sold to a cult as a child. I ran away ten years ago and still fear for my life so much that it’s hard to sleep.” (Thetalko)
The fact that the child had to stay there for ten years is shocking. We all know the kinds of things that happen in cults. And judging by the story, the child probably saw a lot of terrible things. Thankfully, the kid got away. But he was obviously left with scars that prevent him from sleeping peacefully at night. Poor kid.
14 Pretending To Be God
It’s a dangerous thing when your cult leader thinks that he's God.
“I was raised in a Christian home with a father who was an honest, humble pastor. After a few years, he began to be more eccentric; I remember my mom and dad arguing (mostly my dad), and I would stay downstairs and watch TV to ignore all the yelling. There was a woman at the church who constantly praised my dad and persuaded him to leave my mom. Eventually, my dad filed for divorce, and the church completely kicked us out, and the entire community shunned us. Years later, in high school, I met a childhood church friend who told me that the church became a cult, and my dad pretty much claimed that he was God. Even though at the time it sucked having no dad while growing up, I’m so thankful I had a strong and loving mother who raised me right and avoided a potentially violent and isolated life.” (Thought Catalog)
13 Righteous Cults
We hear a lot about sexual abuse in cults, and it’s really tragic because those things leave scars for a really long time. Some people never get over the mental and physical abuse that happens to them in cults, and that can sometimes change them forever.
“Yes, I was raised in the Lord Our Righteousness (LOR) cult, an offshoot of fundamental Seventh Day Adventism. The leader was named Wayne Bent (currently serving prison time for sexual abuse of minors). The experience was absolutely horrific. I got out in my early teens, and I’m late 30’s now, but I’ve been irreparably damaged psychologically from the early childhood trauma and am unable to maintain a relationship.” (Thought Catalog) It’s sad to think that this person can’t maintain a relationship. Hopefully, she'll find the help that she needs to get through it all and move on from those tragedies.
12 Deaths Inside the Cult
It’s scary to think that people can die within a cult and the leaders get away with it.
“My sister was part of a weird Rastafarian offshoot for 20+ years in South Africa; they were so extreme that regular Rastas kicked them out. Their leader genuinely believes that he is Jesus, so he is spreading his seed (having kids with as many women as possible). Their belief is that women are nothing but wombs, so my sister and the other wives and daughters were beaten and abused constantly. Even the young sons beat their mothers and sisters. After 2 of the leader’s children died from diarrhea (the parents wouldn’t take them to the hospital because they would test positive for weed), my sister finally got out. She acts as though she has changed, but it is tough to forget all those years that she treated our entire family like sh!t.” (Thought Catalog)
11 Snatching All the Ladies
This is a story of a Texas cult where the elders marry the children and have multiple wives and children.
“My parents joined a cult in West Texas when I was about 8-9 after searching for 'the truth' their whole adult lives. It wasn't that crazy at first. They had me, and by that time, it became a doomsday cult. They believed in multiple marriages, and all the girls were married up by old elders leaving nothing for us young dudes. So naturally, we rebelled. My escape wasn't as harrowing as some others, but my leaving did set up me saving my 15-year-old sister (under cover of darkness abducting her from my dad’s house and transporting had [sic] to my mom in LA) from marrying an elder. He already had four wives and about ten kids who were later arrested for molesting his stepdaughter. It's been a wild ride, guys...” (Knowable)
10 Of The Devil
Growing up in a cult can be one of the worst things because you usually don’t get a say in whether or not you want to be a part of it. It’s also a lot easier to brainwash a child than it is an adult. So, sometimes, it can be hard to get out of a cult if you grew up in one.
“A friend of mine grew up in a protestant fundamentalist cult. He was born into it, and essentially, the cult forbids technology, pop culture, books, etc. They believe everything outside of their community as evil and 'of the devil.' When a member chooses to leave, they are confined, shut-up, and then excommunicated. They will never be able to see their families again. Ex-members are left homeless and alone. It’s harrowing. My friend still has trouble coping with those times.” (Thought Catalog)
Not sure what “confined” and “shut-up” means, but it sure doesn’t sound very good.
9 Taking Control of Lives
The control that cults have over people are really scary.
“Joined a cult back in 2012. I met them through one of their cafés in Colorado. The idea of communal living and dedication to a cause was very appealing to someone who hadn't had a job in a while and was going to lose their home soon. The mask of super friendliness and hospitality was covering up racism, child abuse, and total domination of people's lives. I mean TOTAL. From the time you woke up, to how you dress. I spent three years of my life there, working 12 to 16 hour days six days a week. I was being groomed to get married and become a leader in 'the community' when I left with just some clothes. The controlling nature of the place made it feel like a prison camp, and I couldn't take it anymore. A year and a half later, and I'm the happiest I've ever been.” (Knowable)
8 Child Abuse
It’s sad to think about how much child abuse is involved in cults.
“I was born into a cult that started in the late 70’s. It is renowned for its affiliation with sexual freedoms, drug manufacture [sic], and sexual abuse against children. I lived there till I was around 12 years old and myself, along with the other children I grew up with were all abused to different degrees by the adult members of the commune. The cult leader was a man who believed that spirituality was closely tied to sexual freedom and that even young children should have sexual experiences. The commune was around 200 strong, and during my time there, there were repeated attempts to shut it down and many raids on the property by police. It was eventually shut down after the allegations of sexual abuse surfaced, and many of the dominant members were imprisoned for abuse and drug charges, including my father. My family has been traumatized by the experience and don’t really speak to each other. My siblings are too angry to have a relationship with my Mother as they reasonably blame her for not protecting them.” (Thought Catalog)
7 Predicting the End of the World
We've all heard about the cults that are all about the world coming to an end; they may be the scariest ones of all.
“I grew up in the Family Radio cult. What they are mostly remembered for is their 2011 prediction of the end of the world and rapture. Spoiler: The world didn't end. I was a young adult and able to leave in the chaotic aftermath without too much of a fight from my parents. I'm doing....okay. Many people are not. Some are still making more predictions. I do want to say that 90% of the people in the group were kind people who really didn't want the world to end but were just so brainwashed that they really believed it. Some of the nicest, most giving people just got sucked in, chewed up, and swallowed in the abysses that was [sic].” (Knowable)
6 Living With Cockroaches
Being a part of a cult is bad enough, but living with cockroaches and rats is on a new low level.
“Yes. When I was 17, I moved out of my parents’ home and into an evangelical Christian cult in Chicago. I lived there for under a year. It was a strange place, and it took me a few years to realize it was a cult. This place was founded during the 1970s and [the cult] bought a large hotel building on the north side of the city. They had extremely rigid rules about dating and talking to members of the opposite sex. There were also rules that state people could not leave the building without a 'buddy.' The building itself was in terrible shape — infested with rats and cockroaches. I would wake up at night to find mouse droppings in my sheets. I ended up leaving because I developed a crush on a girl. The leadership found out, and I was pretty much shunned by any other women my age (I am a chick). So, needless to say, they were not very gay-friendly. The whole place was pretty messed up. I am lucky that I left when I did.” (Thought Catalog)
5 Benny Hinn
Benny Hinn, like so many other preachers, has taken advantage of vulnerable people.
“I spent close to $500k in the span of 7-8 years giving to my leader. I almost lost my wife and family in the process. Woke up and got out in time. It was a prosperity gospel cult. We rode with Benny and friends. The Benny I mention was indeed Benny Hinn. I was traveling with a guy who was climbing the ranks on being another 'Headliner' (preacher). He landed a gig with Benny somehow and traveled with him for close to six months. Describing Benny in one word is too difficult; he lacks any humility and is overly superstitious (paranoid is a better term). One day, Benny wanted to go shopping on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. So, what does this wonderful humanitarian do? He rents out the store for a couple of hours, so he doesn’t have to be bothered by the public peasants who shop at those stores. We had dinner with this pastor who told us his church was debt-free ($17m). He went on telling us that he had sold his house and gave the proceeds to pay off the church, then moved into the churches [sic] cottage. Upon further investigation, he sold his $3M 6,000 square-foot house to live in the churches [sic] $1.5M 3,000 square-foot house in the same country club. Some sacrifice; he didn’t even have his own pool.” (Thought Catalog)
4 Control is Everything
Control is a large part of being part of a cult.
“I was born in Boston because my parents were a part of the Boston movement, where thousands of Christians migrated to Boston. It was later considered a cult. At first, my parents thought it was great. A big, supportive, God-loving group of people all helping each other out and trying to spread the word. Then, after about a year, the church became controlling and emotionally abusive. They would harass my parents if my mom (who was pregnant with me) and my dad would not go door-knocking every night to try and convert people. Then, they wanted to see their finances and control those as well. They heard my parents were discussing moving back home and [were] threatened (not sure physically or what, parents wouldn’t tell me), so they literally packed up and moved overnight.” (Knowable)
3 Multiple R---s
It’s not surprising to hear that girls and women, in general, were raped during their time in cults.
“When I was much younger, my parents were involved in somewhat of a cult. I didn’t know a lot about it at the time, being so young, but it was just called 'Group,' and they would meet about twice a month. Looking back on it, there were a few peculiarities, especially with the 'leader.' For one thing, he would always press a bunch of keys on our security system when he was leaving our house, but even I knew that thing didn’t work at all. Anyway, my parents got out of it without any harm done. My mom always said a large part of it was the leader’s propensity to guns (my mom always hated guns). Fast forward about ten years, and my dad pulls out a local paper showing the old 'leader' and his girlfriend who was having sex with and raping a 16-year-old girl (they were in their 40’s, I believe). It was pretty crazy thinking they met with these people regularly at one point, but I’m just thankful they got away from them when they did.” (Thought Catalog)
2 S-x Crimes
Cults were often used for the purpose of using people and allowing for sex crimes without getting caught. Many cults got away with many terrible things over time, especially in the '70s and '80s because it was easier to hide what you were doing back then.
“My dad joined a cult when he was 17 in California and left about a year later. He joined because of free drugs and [a] free place to live. He left because the cult started to tell people not to contact their families, and only the higher-level members got drugs anymore. He says, after he left, the main leader went to jail for sex crimes of some sort, and the whole cult folded.” (Knowable)
Drugs and sex in a cult? That can’t be correct. I hope you notice the sarcasm in my voice. Of course, there were all kinds of wrongdoing in many different cults over the years.
1 The KKK
The KKK was one of the most infamous cults in all of history, and it’s amazing what they got away with. The fact that they would walk the streets out in the open was pretty brazen.
“I personally am not in a cult, but my father was. We live in Kentucky, and he was a member of the KKK. I still remember him coming home completely in those white robes. Also, he practically didn’t even let us see a black person, let alone talk to one. One time, my brother befriended a black person at school, and my dad physically assaulted the parent of the black kid. He was charged with assault and battery, and now, he has left the Klan. Well, that’s what he tells me; I haven’t seen him in 2 years.” (Thought Catalog)
He was lucky that he was able to leave the Klan; most aren’t that lucky.
Sources: knowable.com; Wikipedia; Reddit