Cults have a very repetitive nature. They offer the promise of a family, play on people's sense of loneliness and isolation, then trap them. Very predatory behavior. There can be a turning point for members, a sense of wrongness, and once you feel it the urge to flee a cult can be overwhelming.
Reddit user, _SxG_, wanted previous cult members to share:
Odd, Repeated Branding
When I realized all the books at our home were from the same obscure publication house. And I wasn't allowed to read Harry Potter.
Pay To Be A Part Of Us
As soon as paying them was obligatory
Well, My Reasoning Is...Because...?Giphy
Calling it a cult might be a stretch, but I was raised in an incredibly religious household and went to a pretty intense evangelical church most days of the week. My parents put me in just about every club/ group the church offered. Between youth group, bible study, church services, young adults group, AWANA, etc. I was there pretty often. Anyway my parents didnt have enough money for a private christian school, so public school was really my only escape from my super christian environment.
Sophmore year of high school I was taking a government class and we did this exercise to see where people stood on certain issues where the teacher would say heres a topic, go to the left side if youre for this and right side if youre against it.
Then someone in the group would have to give some reasons why they thought that way. I stood alone on one side of the room on probably 3 out of 4 issues and when I had to defend my choice, there were just too many times when my only reasoning was " because god/my parents say so".
That gave me some pause to think about why / if i really believed those things at all. It didnt instantly shatter my faith but it was definitely the moment my opinions started to change and I began to analyze why/what I was being told. I realized I didnt actually believe/ care about most of the things I was standing for.
Target The Odd One Out
When the only non-baptised kid in my school appeared.
I didn't even know baptism was not compulsory in the entire world or that other religions and no religion at all were things that existed. Also, he was so relentlessly and violently bullied that he had to leave school.
Suddenly, No One Else Is Like You
My mother was an avid follower of Niscience. She made my sister and I attend the meetings for Niscience. Part of the meetings was that you used your own Niscience name (my sister thought of it as a second middle name) and during certain prayers you had to use proper arm motions to salute the particular direction. I was 8 when I realized no one else had a different church name or did prayers with specified motions. I stopped going to the meetings, told my mom and sister it was a cult. Within a month they both stopped going as well, although my mom prayed and practiced daily at an alter in her bedroom for another couple of years before quitting.
I Still Can't Hear...
I'm Pentecostal still, (NOT APOSTOLIC PENTECOSTAL) but the UPCI one is I consider a cult. UPCI guy was praying for me to remove the "demons" from my head that were causing a ringing and loud blaring in my ears. I would hear a constant "WOOSH" and experience moments of deafness. He kept saying, "They're going. They're gone. You'll feel it soon."
I was like OK. Nothing happened. I got prayer. I should be fixed. Then for weeks I kept praying that God would "remove the demons." Then I had a dream that I was freaking out about demons and the blaring was incredibly loud my parents were yelling at me something about "It's Your BRAIN. It's medical."
Well, I woke up and realized that I actually had just started taking a new form of birth control for my skin called Tri-Sprintec, which sounds like something out of Black Mirror, and so I threw it out and I was fine again. About a week later the ringing and temporary deafness stopped and I was able to go back to ordinary life.
My grandmother was part of UPCI as well. They refused to baptize her because she was wearing earrings. (Totally unbiblical.) I should have noticed something back then.
You Could Say Anything, So Long As It's Okay For Me
When the leader, whom claimed to be freedom of speech, started suing people who said stuff he didn't like.
Pay To Keep Us Going To Keep Us Helping You
When the pastor talked like a stereotypical Kickstarter campaign to fund the church (which was not poor to begin with), with obscenely high goals expected of middle class at best people.
All You Need To Do is Look Around
whenever I figured out that my friends at my school were having birthdays, and Christmas, and halloween, and how I wasn't allowed to go my friends house... because my parents didn't want me to see a functioning normal life. (Grew up in a cult-like jehovas witness religion) got out of it around 11. Now 15.
My parents and their cult maintained that stars could no longer be born because 'god was done creating' - I'd just done some stuff about stellar formation in school. Mentioned it in passing, and the denial was astounding.
"They are lying to pull you away from Jehovah" (what they call god). Typical.
I said "A new star is born every 10 minutes or so, and some of them are visible through a telescope. You can look at it for yourself." - for which I was accused of blasphemy. It was not a pleasant experience.
When you choose to silence someone instead of looking at the evidence they have, you are only showing how much you fear what they have to say. Their desperation to avoid hearing undeniable science was the tip I should have seen years earlier.
Have No Other Plans
I don't know if you can call them a cult, but a lot of people I talk to about my childhood compare it to one. I don't know if I'm biased because I was raised in it or not.
I realized something was wrong when I was about 12 and I was being told that my whole life was gonna be get married, have kids, be a housewife. Oh and if you can do that by 19, great. I've always been creative, mainly writing stories, and they started taking that away. My whole purpose was to make babies and serve a husband. I wasn't allowed school after 5th grade and I wasn't allowed contact with the outside world.
It was rough. I'm out now, though! And if you're reading this and you think you need to escape from something like this, whoever you are, message me. I escaped August of last year. It took me 5 years, but I did it. You can too.
Oh there was little doubts all the way. But I guess I found it most odd that full grown adults couldn't answer simple questions. "Why does God kill babies" "why did god hate black people until society changed their mind" "if God is humble why do we praise him" ect. Me and my friends were like 12 or 13. We would constantly ask questions like these and never got an answer that wasn't "God works in mysterious ways" "or you should have faith. I was Mormon. It's straight up a cult. The members are so brain washed they can't even see it. Looking back it's all so f-cking creepy.
I'm Not Going To Be Destroyed?
When I smoked weed for the first time and realized nothing was wrong with it. I eventually went down the rabbit hole and read as much as I could about mormon church history. I know the Mormon church isn't as culty as many other "religions," but it does at least have many cultish aspects to it.
Thank You, Spider-Man
When I remembered that as a younger child I had seen an episode of the 90's Spider-man cartoon. There was a scene where a culty organization had members calling each other "brother" and "sister". At the time I thought I never wanted to be in something like that. Fast forward a decade and there I was in an organization exactly like that.
Other honorable mentions were when I attempted to read the bible the first time and things didn't add up, and when I saw a few documentaries about cults and how creepily they fit to my situation.
Listen Up: Everyone Else Is Different
Where do I even start?
I guess the whole not speaking in tongues make me a sinner, regardless of any other factors.
That if I have any depressive thoughts I must be possessed by a demon.
That any impure thought I had meant I was going to hell and needed to drop to my knees and ask for forgiveness
Any other of denomination of Christianity was going to hell specially those Methodist and Catholics.
Was not allowed to have friends because they might bring some kind of sin into my life.
And Then She...
When I heard the story of how my mom was refused a blood transfusion while giving birth to me and she died......
The Math Doesn't Check Out
Raised JW. I'm not going to split hairs over whether it's a cult or not, but it's definitely has cultish elements and could be considered a high-control group (which you could argue is just a PC term for cult.) For context, they teach that the "Last Days" began in 1914 and that Armageddon would come before that 1914 "generation" died out. The problem here is obvious. Everyone alive in 1914 is dead. Maybe there are a few stragglers, but definitely not a generation.
The answer to this problem, in their eyes, was to revise the term generation to, in this context, include two overlapping "groups." Now not only where the people alive in 1914 part of that generation, but so are the people who where alive when that first "group" was alive. Essentially, you could be born in 1990 and by their new definition be apart of the 1914 generation.
When they introduced that teaching, I didn't believe it. It's plainly ridiculous. Slowly I began to reexamine other things I was taught as a child, and eventually I realized how monsterous much of what they teach is, such as disfellowshipping and prohibiting blood transfusions.
Something That Stays With You Forever
I was raised IFB from age 9 to 18. In the summer of 2003, my parents let my sister and I the freedom to walk to the library together and get books. My sister and I dominated that kids reading contest. She read Harry Potter and I was reading Stephen King. One day during that summer, my sister, mother and I go visit another sister a few hours away. On the way home, my mom gets a call and she goes white as a sheet. I remember seeing her eyes in the rearview saying "Sarah, how could you!"
We both were afraid. The life most children in the IFB have is similar to prison where your property and space gets flip searches on a regular basis. My dad was searching her room and found the book. He beat the sh-t out of her, took her down to the library, where he berated the librarians for allowing her to check out the book without calling for permission. He said "Dont you know who I am and how this makes me look!" I wasnt caught. But I was scared enough to return my books. I was still to afraid to read Harry Potter until 2012.