1. I have a good friend who was working on a sociology paper on a particular cult in NYC (I don’t recall which it was.) He attended a few meetings to get a feel for it. I remember him saying that he knew everyone was crazy, but it was a nice community. He’d talk to me about going to have a nice potluck dinner, and then receiving a sermon on how Obama is the biblical Anti-Christ.
After he was done with the paper, he went back a few more times and actually had to stop going because they found out he was gay.
2. Don’t do it. Stay at home and watch a documentary about Jim Jones instead. Cults can be seriously scary stuff and we are all a bit more easily influenced than we’d like believe.
3. Who would the joke be on, exactly? Cults don’t care what your reason for attending a meeting is. Once you are on their turf they know they have a chance. A friend of mine, who considered himself a hard-nosed businessman, told me he was going to a timeshare meeting to laugh at them and claim his free gift. He bought a timeshare. My point isn’t about timeshares, but about the power of persuasion.
4. It’s fine. Enjoy.
I sat in on a Hare Krishna style cult meeting once. They guy said we have nightmares of being chased because of the bad karma from eating animals. He recommends nuts and tofu and had a weird spaced out look in his eyes.
I had the free Hare Krishna feast one afternoon. It was tasty. No hard sell.
5. I was 16-17 at the time and me and my friend saw online this ad for “meetings to discuss life and what is money worth” at our local restaurant’s hall(turned out it was not a hall eventually). Well, I wouldn’t care but it had “free food and desert after discussion” and at that point I didn’t care what it was, I had to go and munch. My friend didn’t really care and kinda went along.
So we go there and turns out that… (Continued)
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So we go there and turns out that restaurant has an underground basement that is really nice and has a cool atmosphere. Alright, went in as the signs said “follow this sign for the meeting” Now, I’m from a small town in Lithuania and once we sat down I realised I know some of these people, they were just regular folk and some guy was playing a weird instrument at the front (mini stage). After the room fills up (around 14 people) the main guy comes out and plays another weird instrument. I highly doubt they have names and I think those guys just made them up. The “music” part only took 20-30 seconds.
Me and my friend are these 17 year olds in a room full of 40-50 year old people and some guy lecturing about how money is not important and does not extend your time on earth, I’m thinking- this dessert better be worth it. Before it ended the main guy suggests we sing a song and gives out these gold colour super cool looking cards with lyrics on them, that card was probably the coolest looking card I’ve seen till this date by the way.
Alright, we sing along because I honestly couldn’t care less what we did as long as we had that food that was sitting on my left. After that the main guy says that donations are accepted but not necesary, well, I had about 2 litas (around 0.5$ maybe) and just put it in the basket, I see some other people spending 50-100 litas (minimum wage was 800 litas) on books and CDs and shit and I realise those guys honestly believe in the main guy. Well, after I eat around 8 portions of the tasty stuff they had we leave and start discussing how did people spend shitloads of money on some books and how it’s crazy(with my friend)
Next week we see the same ad on the web and we obviously go again because omg that food was so good. Main guy talks shit again and we sing even more and I get the feeling that the topics are different and he starts asking who are here from last time and lalala and then we eat the amazing desserts and stuff ( I think they had rafaello as well that time)
Few weeks in I’m thinking all of the people are the same people that came all the times and they probably spent by that time all of their wage on those books and CDs, I’m quite shocked.
I go for one last time and then it clicks, the main guys says he will be doing these meetings in people’s houses that agree to it (lots of volunteers at that point) and he will sing more, talk more and all that stuff. As soon as I realise he is now invading other people’s houses I leg it after the meeting and never come back.
6. It depends on the cult really. Scientology? Stay away from it. Unless you are already a part of the cult, you will probably only be allowed to recruitment meetings. If you do, try not to give out personal information because some will hound you to join them. Check them out online to see if they have had any controversy to them such as ex members talking about bad things they were made to do or crimes involving members or leaders.
The reason I say stay away from Scientology is because… (Continued)
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The reason I say stay away from Scientology is because of the things they have been said to do. Some people are saying that even though they gave fake info, they still get mail from them. It’s likely they look for your personal information another way. So unless you want that happening to you, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
7. Really depends on the cult and your degree of awareness about what’s going on. It’s trite, but it’s true, some cults are really really good at not seeming like cults and usually your introduction to them will not be in the form of a meeting at all, but a one on one interaction or a group setting that is not clearly related to an organization. They’ll introduce you to the beliefs first in a very egalitarian way and the actual power structures won’t emerge until much later, with the “leader” or “leaders” of the cult actually blending in very well with the group when they want to (as opposed to the very cliche portrayal of the exalted messianic leader and the obviously crazy and adoring followers). Everything that’s going to set off the alarms in your head isn’t going to come until much later and you’re going to be made to feel like you were a participant in it’s creation somehow even though everything about it predated your involvement.
8. I joined a soccer club as a way to meet friends in a new city (Seoul). This ‘great’ organization never mentioned religion. They also offered free cooking classes, free language classes, free dance classes. All the expense of ‘helping’ foreigners and to practice their English. That was until they were exposed as a front for the SJ Church. They mainly used foreigners as propaganda with our t-shirts and cult signs that we, foreigners, were clueless about at that time. It was scary how caught up you can become. A friend of mine had a similar situation except she joined a bible study only to find out it was also that cult. 6 months after she found out and tried to leave, they harassed her both at her work, at her house to point of having to leave notes and call the police on them. Too many crazies out there.
9. My friends and I created a joke cult when we were young teens and distributed flyers around town telling people to join us, give us their belonging because they wouldn’t need them on the space shuttle, signing over monetary savings, and other stuff that we thought was obvious satire.
To us it was a stupid joke from bored kids in a small Midwestern town and we didn’t think many would take it serious. People actually started contacting the email we made for the flyer and rumors got started about a possible group suicide which led to police investigating us. There was talk of the FBI getting involved but I don’t know if there is truth behind that.
10. Depends on your mental state, and if you give them any information. Do NOT give them any information. And be prepared for some of the nonsense they spout to make a weird amount of sense.
Every cult starts by offering… (Continued)
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Every cult starts by offering universally comforting platitudes (you are loved and valuable, there is a purpose to your life, you can achieve the things you dream of if you have the right motivation and support). You would be amazed how nice this can sound to someone who’s having a rough time. They’re not offering you aliens and superpowers at first, they’re offering you friendship, connections, motivation, nice practical things you might be lacking.
THEN they get your info and drop the alien shit on you, but by then you’re too deep into the Sunk Cost Fallacy to question it. People who think they’re too smart for cults are some of the easiest to recruit.
11. I live in Chicago and in the mid 1990’s I was really into religion and also chasing girls, so I decided to do both and joined a bible study group to meet nice Christian girls (I was twenty so my brains were in my butt). The bible study group had about eight people with a few girls who seemed okay, but the time I spent with them wasn’t any fun. I would only devote a couple of evenings a week to the group, but then they decided to hold regular study for four days a week and I was heavily criticized for missing any. Then the group “Leader” decided we needed to start taking part in groups with religious causes to help increase the size of the bible study group and expand it into a real ministry. At this point my brains transitioned slightly up from my ass towards the small of my back and I realized I’m in way over my head. So I said Screw it, I’m out. Then they’re constantly calling me and knocking on my door to get me to come with them back to bible study and threatening me with hell fire if I don’t come back. I sort of lucked out when another member tried to leave, and a physical altercation resulted in the police getting involved. The so called bible study group and wannabe ministry broke apart after that. I consider myself lucky they weren’t more aggressive but they were moving that way fast. I still think that jerk who styled himself as the leader of the group probably tried to get the whole thing going again with another group.
12. It was a few years ago, I was going through a tough time financially and emotionally. I didn’t have a lot of money for food or really anything, and I had some problems with depression and I was living alone. In general, my life was feeling pretty shit.
I was at a food truck one day and there was this man there who was chatting up people, including me. When he got to me, he told me about a program called, “Legkiy Redemption” that would support me and give me a community to build myself on. To be honest, it sounded pretty suspicious, even at the time, but I was very curious, and rather desperate for any sort of human contact.
He gave me a card with a phone number to call and some place for meetings. I started attending these meetings, they were usually pretty small but they didn’t really seem cult-y. At the meetings, there would be a girl probably in her 20s on the stage talking about how messed up the world is, and how compassion, love, and community were things the world would need to survive. She made it sound very inspiring and convincing.
I also began to do interviews with someone who was, “Assigned” to me. I was surprised at how he was able to pull answers from me, like really zeroed in on secrets I had, relationships, all in a few sessions. It didn’t take long before he basically knew me.
At this point, I was still pretty convinced this was a legit thing. In another way, I was kind of desperate for any source of food and shelter.
So, they sent a car to my home to pick me up and drove me out into the country. I started to get a bit worried when I saw how… (Continued)
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I saw how far from civilization we were getting. I remember first seeing the facility, it looked pretty sketchy with a big ass wall in front of it.
That’s when the weirdness sort of came out. We had a bunch of rules at the facility. No calling outside the facility without permission, no music, books, TV shows, movies except for the ones we were told to read, watch and listen to.
We also would be asked to step into this room the, “Theater” and we were shown really weird videos about history and occultism and all kinds of weird shit.
Long story short, I got out, but I’d recommend against going to cult meetings period.
13. I went to a conference of a bunch of Christian extremist weirdos,
they claim to not have a denomination which is already ridiculous, because they have all the codes of baptists/evangelists,
they say ”we are not a church” , but their movement is named ”ecclesia” which is the root word for church in greek for languages like french or Spanish (iglesia, eglise),
Went there because the brain washed brother in law was trying to convert his whole family, I figured it was better to go rather than have my girlfriend go without me (everytime you mention the word spirituality to her she goes for it… )
What did I see there ? zombies everywhere, the leader screaming for 3 hours about satan,
you have to sit, and if you get up and try to leave, a guy comes to you and asks you to sit back, (which I politely shoved away and left when it became too much).