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meatball77

Cults And Extreme Beliefs

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The first episode had me hooked.  Nxivm, with it's celebrity members, claiming to just be a self help group, so insane.  When they got to the slavery stuff I was just floored.  It was a pyramid scheme of torture.

For much of the second episode about the Jehovah Witnesses episode I found myself thinking, how is this different than the Catholic Church.  Then they started talking about the prison ministry and how they'd basically take sex offenders that they converted in prison and then let them into their congregation like nothing happened.

Edited by meatball77
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Nxivm - the gal who was branded and had brought in over 2000 people! 

My husband was born and raised Jehovah's Witness. His whole family is still in the group with his brother an elder. I asked him if what he thought his brother would do re the child abuse allegations and unfortunately, he doesn't have a clue how his brother would react.  So sad. 

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Since the news broke about Alison Mack I have been fascinated by the NXIYM.  It seems a lot of people can’t figure how women would allow themselves to be branded.  The way I explain it is that cults don’t start with branding that where they end.  

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The branding didn't seem as crazy as the slave stuff.  Branding is not that much different from a tattoo.  The slave stuff, that's insane. 

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The Jehovah Witness episode really didn't go into the cult part much, more just the cover-up of child abuse.  I agree with @meatball77 that I'm not sure how this is different than the Catholic Church.

I had never heard of NXIVM until the news broke of Allison Mack being arrested.  They didn't talk much about the beliefs of the group, it sounded a bit scientology-esque to me.  I also can't remember how the group name is pronounced, so in my head I call it "nexium"...

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I am of the age that should know of the children of God "religion" but I have never heard of it. Ugh & barf. How can so many adults think pedophilia is ok? Crikey my brain is boggled.  I hope the survivors continue to help each other.

as with Leah Remini's survivors of scientology, how do they afford such nice homes when it sounds like their formal education was so awful?

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1 hour ago, rhys said:

I am of the age that should know of the children of God "religion" but I have never heard of it. Ugh & barf. How can so many adults think pedophilia is ok? Crikey my brain is boggled.  I hope the survivors continue to help each other.

I'm also sort of amazed that Children of God/The Family International isn't more well known. In part I think that is because the leader left the U.S. pretty early on. River Phoenix (and his siblings) and Rose McGowan had parents who were in the cult.

I read a book several years ago, Jesus Freaks, focused mostly on the very sad story of Ricky Rodriguez who was mentioned in the episode last night. So horrific.

Also, there was a Law and Order episode (S. 15, "Sects") that is clearly based on Children of God. In the episode, they are called Children of the Divine and the cult leader is a woman.

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I was just floored by the Children of God.  The guy saying that he was told to have sex with a child to put her in line. . . how is this twisted group not well know.

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On 6/4/2018 at 2:06 PM, hilaryvm said:

The Jehovah Witness episode really didn't go into the cult part much, more just the cover-up of child abuse. 

I think that was more of the "...and Extreme Beliefs" part of the show.  Aren't they consider more of a sect, not a cult?

I'm wondering if they'll do an episode on the United Pentecostal Church (definitely not the same as standard Pentecostals).  I'm guessing Jonestown *could* be an episode.  But is there anyone left to speak with from the cult?

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Probably, they didn't go on much about the faith, although the weirdness there was mentioned.  The outrage was over the ignoring the sexual abuse.  Which seemed bad until this week.

The could have done an entire season on the horrors of this group encouraging child sex.  The scarf dance.  So horrible.

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On 6/6/2018 at 3:38 PM, GalvDuck said:

  I'm guessing Jonestown *could* be an episode.  But is there anyone left to speak with from the cult?

A&E did a 3 or 4 part mini-series on Jonestown earlier this year. There are a number of survivors who left before the massacre, including someone who I believe was present at the airport when the congressman was ambushed.

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There are a few survivors around. Julia Scheeres wrote a book about it a few years ago, A Thousand Lives. She interviewed a lot of survivors. Its excellent, by the way!

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What is with these people (cult members) just sending their kids away.  Sending their kids away at 8 and 10 and then basically having nothing to do with them after that.  Not even knowing (or caring) where they are?  We saw it in Scientology, in this cult, and in the one last week.

This is the first group without a major sexual abuse problem.  Now I'm sure it's there (kids being sent away from home as tweens is just asking for problems) but not the big problem with this group.  Instead we've got labor trafficking and starvation. . . .

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On 6/3/2018 at 3:44 PM, meatball77 said:

The first episode had me hooked.  Nxivm, with it's celebrity members, claiming to just be a self help group, so insane.  When they got to the slavery stuff I was just floored.  It was a pyramid scheme of torture.

For much of the second episode about the Jehovah Witnesses episode I found myself thinking, how is this different than the Catholic Church.  Then they started talking about the prison ministry and how they'd basically take sex offenders that they converted in prison and then let them into their congregation like nothing happened.

 

I was surprised to hear about Jehovah's Witnesses as I know a lot about how far their beliefs are skewed from away from true Biblical theology, but one thing which they do teach is sex outside of marriage is wrong, and they very much emphasize good character, so I was somewhat surprised at the cover up. This appeared to be more of a condoning than went on in the Catholic church, which seemed to me more face saving than condoning, but I could be wrong looking in from the outside. I had never heard of NXVIM and was totally blown away by that.

Edited by renatae

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On 6/14/2018 at 6:47 PM, meatball77 said:

What is with these people (cult members) just sending their kids away.  Sending their kids away at 8 and 10 and then basically having nothing to do with them after that.  Not even knowing (or caring) where they are?  We saw it in Scientology, in this cult, and in the one last week.

This is the first group without a major sexual abuse problem.  Now I'm sure it's there (kids being sent away from home as tweens is just asking for problems) but not the big problem with this group.  Instead we've got labor trafficking and starvation. . . .

I was really shocked and saddened by this. Really, these kids were slaves. I also could not get over their parents just sending them off and not keeping in touch. It was one thing to see Scientologists take their children with them into the cult and gradually lose control, as that's typical operating procedure for a cult, but just sending them off on their own with no contact? Shudder.

After the segment talking about how they, the United Nation of Islam, were basically into child trafficking, the camera cuts away to a church steeple with a cross on top. What sort of subliminal tomfoolery was that?

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On ‎6‎/‎16‎/‎2018 at 3:36 AM, renatae said:

I was really shocked and saddened by this. Really, these kids were slaves. I also could not get over their parents just sending them off and not keeping in touch. It was one thing to see Scientologists take their children with them into the cult and gradually lose control, as that's typical operating procedure for a cult, but just sending them off on their own with no contact? Shudder.

 

On ‎6‎/‎15‎/‎2018 at 6:53 AM, Guatemama3641 said:

This series has been very interesting to me. It's amazing how many parents just send their kids off. 

We talked about this in Abnormal Psych in college.  Cults tend to prey on the downtrodden, and cast-offs of society.  Jim Jones preached racial equality in a time where that just wasn't done.  Whether his intentions were good at the start, or he was just looking for people he could control remains to be decided.  He set up shop in low income areas and offered some nice outreach programs to get people in.  But when you have people in your control who may have grown up with nothing and had horrible upbringings, the chance to have your children live a better life than you did is enticing.  And they had no reason to not trust their "leader".  You're dealing with parents who aren't operating on "normal" levels.  

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10 hours ago, funky-rat said:

But when you have people in your control who may have grown up with nothing and had horrible upbringings, the chance to have your children live a better life than you did is enticing.  And they had no reason to not trust their "leader".  You're dealing with parents who aren't operating on "normal" levels.  

I definitely agree about the parents feeling their children would have better lives, especially with the two brothers who said the only thing happening in their neighborhood was gangs. So I wasn't surprised their parents let them go, but I was definitely surprised they did not make any effort to keep in contact. I have to wonder if the cult did not convince them that it would be best for the children not to hear from them, using some sort of twisted logic. So sad.

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On ‎6‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 1:15 AM, renatae said:

I definitely agree about the parents feeling their children would have better lives, especially with the two brothers who said the only thing happening in their neighborhood was gangs. So I wasn't surprised their parents let them go, but I was definitely surprised they did not make any effort to keep in contact. I have to wonder if the cult did not convince them that it would be best for the children not to hear from them, using some sort of twisted logic. So sad.

I am very confident that the parents were either told that the children were doing important stuff or training, and couldn't be disturbed and/or gave them "updates" on what they were doing that had vague information.  I remember seeing on a cult show once (but I can't recall which cult - maybe Scientology) where the parents got newsletters complete with photos of what their kids were doing, but the photos were staged, or generic, and didn't actually show their kids.  The newsletters said the kids were having fun and doing good stuff, but in reality they were doing forced labor and living in horrible conditions.

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We didn't hear much about what this group believes did we?  Just that they're descendants of the Moonies.

Super crazy about the machine guns.  Those photos of everyone looking all fancy and posing with their weapons.

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I find cults fascinating so this show is right up my alley. If anyone is interested in podcasts there’s a great one called “Cults” that delves into a all sorts of well known and lesser known cults. They just did one on the Moonies, which was good background to have before this week’s episode. 

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The Twelve Tribes are yet another scary "We own you" group picking and choosing among scriptures and going to extremes, especially about, again, obeying the uber controlling leaders. But I have to say when Elizabeth Vargas reacted to some actual scriptural quotes (and not the extreme actions or interpretations of the cult with regard to them) with utter disdain, it really put me off. She can be grating at times.

I hope the subject is able to have contact with her siblings in the future. One of the saddest moments was when the father told her he thought she would be better off dead than not obey him and his cult.

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The beatings.  OMG

Then CPS stepped in but didn't do things right so they got all their kids back.

The cafes on college campuses for recruiting is creepy.

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SO, as far as the Twelve Tribes goes there wasn't mention about whether the young adults had arranged marriages with other tribe-sters or were allowed to pick their own spouses.  There was just a mention of encouraging building the next generation. It sounds like they do recruit so I imagine they have some new blood once in awhile.  How could someone who was raised "normally" (if that is even a thing) believe this saga of the Twelve Trives being the only ones who would be saved when they know about other cults that have crashed and burned.  It is different if you were born to it, 

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Have enjoyed this series. Have a fascination with FLDS, so really liked last epi. Did not know about many of the FLDS members being evicted and former members buying property. Norma was smart and articulate, but her blind devotion to Warren Jeffs is unsettling. So since he is the prophet he can rape children? Not no, but hell no. Short Creek will be no longer be FLDS in 10 years or less. Hope former members can rebuild the community.  

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Norma was stubborn. I understand that they believe the land is God's but what makes them any different owning it then the ex-members. And considering that the one guy's father was a prophet too, I don't understand why they don't want help with giving their people places to work, and help? Just so stubborn, they could build the town back up but are refusing and sitting there waiting for The Turd to return and to what? At the rate they are going nothing is going to be left, but it is ok for them to buy the land and build and shit but no one else can. I just can't with their reasoning. 

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I was worried that there would be nothing that I hadn't seen before in the FLDS episode but Norma was something else.  The blind devotion just floors me

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I really liked that we saw Norma and her story.  Also, it seemed to me that she was speaking from a rather privileged position (relatively speaking).  While she was raised in that cult, she was allowed to go to college and then came back and picked who she married at a "normal" age.  While yes, he does have a bunch of other wives, she doesn't appear to have been subjected to all the horrible things we know went on with very young girls.  Interesting too that the practice we see in many cults where you have to disassociate with former members/non-members has become such a problem for the current members, since now they have lots their homes, jobs, etc.

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The FLDS is not unlike a lot of these cults in that when it started it was off but not as crazy but then got more and more controlling as the years went on.  Norma apparently had a pretty normal life, obviously her grandkids aren't. . . .

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4 minutes ago, meatball77 said:

The FLDS is not unlike a lot of these cults in that when it started it was off but not as crazy but then got more and more controlling as the years went on.  Norma apparently had a pretty normal life, obviously her grandkids aren't. . . .

I wonder if she truly ' sees ' that.

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I really liked Norma for the most part.  But there is some serious disconnect that she, an educated woman, can't see the issues with what she was saying.  But like others, I did appreciate seeing her side of the story.  I had heard of the evictions and apostates moving in through news articles and frankly thought it was great.  But there are always two sides to a story and I do feel sorry for families who lost their lands and homes. 

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I am obsessed with the NXiVM cult in large part because I was such a big fan of Smallville and Allison Mack.  I find the entire situation so surreal.  

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Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time watching Leah Remini’s Scientology series, but I find this series frustrating because it barely touches the surface of the issues with these cults/religions. You could easily devote a season to each one. I also don’t find Elizabeth Vargas very... compassionate. There’s just something about her that irritates me, but I can’t put my finger on it. 

I’ve found the main cult survivors to be compelling in pretty much all of the episodes. Especially Amy, Elijah and Teddy. The things that happened to these people, but especially the kids are just awful  

Haven’t seen even the last two episodes yet. I’ve been bingeing these and watched them out of order so the JW one was last one I watched. For some reason I just couldn’t connect as much to Romy in the JW episode. Her story was tragic but I found the whole ‘delivering the letter’ thing to be a bit dramatic. The Scientology episode on JW’s affected me more. 

Edited by summitsw

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I just watched all of this on Hulu. The main hallmark of a cult, it seems to me, is that they don't allow their members to keep in touch with people who leave or with outsiders. That's a huge red flag. 

On 5/17/2019 at 12:09 AM, summitsw said:

Haven’t seen even the last two episodes yet. I’ve been bingeing these and watched them out of order so the JW one was last one I watched. For some reason I just couldn’t connect as much to Romy in the JW episode. Her story was tragic but I found the whole ‘delivering the letter’ thing to be a bit dramatic. The Scientology episode on JW’s affected me more. 

I felt horrible regarding what she went through, but the dude at the gate clearly had no power and I didn't blame him for not wanting to listen to her.

That Norma from the FLDS was a piece of work. Her smugness and perceived persecution were eye-roll worthy. Maybe if Warren Jeffs hadn't been marrying and raping underaged girls and using the church money as his personal piggy bank that wouldn't have happened, Norma. Notice how she skirted around the question of what age is appropriate to be married. I also thought it was interesting that we saw her and some of her children and sister wives, but not her husband. Where was he? Why didn't he want to be on camera?

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23 hours ago, pigs-in-space said:

I just watched all of this on Hulu. The main hallmark of a cult, it seems to me, is that they don't allow their members to keep in touch with people who leave or with outsiders. That's a huge red flag. 

I felt horrible regarding what she went through, but the dude at the gate clearly had no power and I didn't blame him for not wanting to listen to her.

That Norma from the FLDS was a piece of work. Her smugness and perceived persecution were eye-roll worthy. Maybe if Warren Jeffs hadn't been marrying and raping underaged girls and using the church money as his personal piggy bank that wouldn't have happened, Norma. Notice how she skirted around the question of what age is appropriate to be married. I also thought it was interesting that we saw her and some of her children and sister wives, but not her husband. Where was he? Why didn't he want to be on camera?

Yeah, Norma was a piece of work. Especially against Lamont’s steadfast goodness. 

I found all of the cults horrible, especially the ones that involved sexual abuse against children, but that wack-a-doodle cult with the weddings and guns was something to see. 

The best episodes were where they spoke to the groups of survivors. I found it fascinating how each of them seemed relieved to find the connections in the other cults and realise that though their backgrounds differed, they all had experienced similar things. A lot of relief about having other people understand what they’d been through, which is understandable. I also loved how many of them were trying to help others adjust to being on the outside.

So the FLDS and NXIUM have had legal victories, let’s hope the others get theirs soon. 

Edited by summitsw
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