People Who Were Born Into Cults Admit The Moment They Knew They Had To Get Out
As children, our educational and cultural influences are determined by our parents. But sometimes our family can be in an unhealthy environment and as children we're trapped there as well.
Reddit user sweaterobsessed asked "Children born into cults and (who) left, what was your "Oh, sh**!" moment?"
Here are the stories of people living in a bad situation as children, but who made the decision to get out and what was their final straw.
The moment when I asked myself, what, fundamentally, the difference between my church and North Korea was.
My thoughts went something like this:
We sing songs about allegiance to the Supreme Leader.
We have pictures of Supreme Leader in our house.
We ascribe supernatural events to Supreme Leader.
Supreme Leader can do no wrong.
One day, we will invade false Korea, Jesus will come and kill all our enemies. Sometime soon, as of last century week.
Leaving church Best Korea? Where will you go? Horrible things outside!
People who leave Best Korea are evil traitors!
Take extra time out of your day to serve Best Korea (the church).
Anyway, I highly recommend this as a thought process as to whether or not a part of religion is bad- if via substituting nouns it sounds like something out of North Korea, or from a true external perspective (hard to do) it seems strange, it probably is. That's how I left.
A Loving God
I grew up in a church that was one compound and a bulk order of kool-aid away from being a cult. They mostly focused on the end times and how much and when to tithe.
For me there were two (last straws), the first when the preacher preached a sermon on how god doesn't care about how good or evil you are. Only if you believed the correct things. The second was when he preached a sermon about how babies, children and yes even the mentally disabled go to hell. Unless of course they believed the correct way. Of course as he put it most of them were in hell. The idea that god is all knowing and all loving and tortures babies and the mentally handicapped for eternity was abhorrent to me.
In the Cult, job descriptions and qualifications include scriptures. My father wanted a job and one of the requirements was that his children respect him and fear the Lord. But he only had one child at the time.
He was told he would not get the promotion until he had another child, and my mother was accosted several times being told she was selfish, a hellish woman, worse than Eve. She had several panic attacks and finally struck off to find a psychiatrist and renew her use of the anxiety medication she was on before my father made her stop taking them.
Once I was conceived, my father was promoted and they were transferred to what was at the time the USSR. My brother was left with...honestly I don't know who, and my parents won't tell me, but they left for the remainder of her pregnancy. Against medical advice, they flew back to the US and I was born in Illinois. For the next five years we were left with strangers who were ranked highly enough in the Cult to take care of the children of my Father's ranking, until we were assigned secondary parents.
I was shunned for dating someone that wasn't white. They gave me bible verses to "support" their claims that it wasn't right. The bible says that God is love. If I can't love someone, then they're not reading the same book that I am. I left, half of my "friends " wouldn't speak to me anymore.
I don't think I ever truly believed, but the moment that was cemented for me was when the I had the unfortunate experience of going on a mission trip to Cambodia. Long story short two teams from the church I had previously attended were sent, for the first two week the teams were sent to different locations. During this time we helped the local communities and it was actually pretty nice, normal prayer sessions etc etc.
However during the last couple days of the trip both teams met up and stayed in the same location. It was then that stories from the other team about being possessed by the devil, spiritual enlightenment, tongues (becoming a vessel for god to speak through) and being struck down by the love of god were mentioned by the other team. Keep in mind till that point our team just had your good ole regular fashion prayer sessions.
Surprise surprise later that night when both teams held a joint prayer session, members from my team started hysterically yelling, crying out for god, passing out on the ground and it was at that moment when I realized that it was all bullshit and pretty much mass hysteria mixed in with an enlightenment measuring contest.
I was at a yearly conference at a megachurch in my state when I was 15. There were fog machines and laser lights during "worship" and the power mysteriously went out as we took communion, which was an obvious indication that God was in our favor instead of just an overloaded circuit or someone pulling the plug. That's around the time I realized that you can trick anyone into believing anything and started doing research. Officially denounced the church when I was seventeen and had seen enough.
When I read a book about our sect that told its actual history even though the leaders always said it was created in the time of Jesus and passed down over the millennia in the same form.
It was a Sunday, Sundays we'd usually go during the day and afternoon. But after the first part, when my parents sat me down they told me that we were leaving. I recall being sad because I was playing a game with my friends, at the time I was confused.
My friends that I grew up with ignored me like I didn't exist, I felt like everything I knew was gone. Later on I slowly pieced together what went on there was not normal.
I noticed the manipulative tactics such as showing us graphic videos of people dying and being ripped up because they didn't follow God. They made us have no TV to isolate us, but there's more.
But it was very difficult leaving. It felt like my entire life was a lie, and everything I had learnt for 12 years was taken away and I was left clueless as ever and couldn't relate to anyone.
Luxury Off Poverty
I'm from Mexico. I was raised Catholic, doing my first communion, going to mass almost every Sunday. However, the first time I saw a very poor old lady giving $300 Pesos (About $15 USD and keep in mind this is a lot of money for a poor person in Mexico) to the church just to see the preacher spend that money on luxury (I had been to that preacher's house and it was very luxurious), I was done with it. Never trusting any sort of religion again. None of them. The way they mess with the people that honestly believe in them is not correct.
Profit for Prophets
When my church built a $1.5 billion shopping mall using its "investment" money.
Gotta make a prophet somehow.
Had a very intelligent friend, she also grew up in this cult. I remember her telling me one day how much she was struggling in science class because evolution made sense to her, but she knew it conflicted with her faith. She was in tears over it, saying that she needed to block it out.
Not quite cult, but when the pastor started talking about how God was sending Hurricane Katrina and all these mass shootings as punishment for legalizing gay marriage and not praying in schools, that was it for me.
When I was 19 and by orders of the pastor, my mom took my bedroom door off the hinges. They were doing everything in their power for me not to leave the church. She would do random searches and pat downs to see if I had any communication to the outside "world". There was so many signs that I started seeing when I got older (I was raised into the religion) - but I was terrified to leave due to the shunning, the fear and being ashamed of "leaving the truth".
Also, my mom didn't want me to go to a therapist even after knowing I was having panic attack's because she was afraid that the therapist would take the "fear of god" out of my life.
Lack of Faith
When I realized I had this deep, deep feeling that nobody would ever love me if I left the religion because the religion f'd me up in lots of ways. And also feeling like nobody would ever love me if I stayed because deep down I didn't believe.
Runaway, Never Look Back
My brother and I grew up in a cult family. Not specifically naming anything, but has since disbanded to my knowledge though some of y'all might know which town this happened in. Picture this: a rural town, middle of nowhere with only a handful of people. It was made very clear that outsiders weren't welcome and we obviously didn't get many guests, the ones that stumbled upon it were lost....the town looked creepy as shit so they cleared out fast. Contact to the rest of the world was nonexistent, and we didn't have access to anything - no news, tv, etc. Here are some of the worst things that are burned into my memory...
People got sick frequently but weren't permitted to see a medical professional outside of the cult, but the "doctors" in the cult were absolute quacks. Education was handled by leaders and whoever they appointed.
My older brother really liked dragonflies and other insects. Our dad would capture them and force him to pluck the wings off as a sacrifice.
I had a romantic relationship with a teenage boy in the cult. I became overly paranoid because it was against our religion to be engaging in same-sex relations. For a long time I thought I was going to die since he disappeared one day with no warning. I still have no idea what happened, if he got out by ditching in the middle of the night like I did or if he was killed.
The night I left I kept going until I found a paved road, was picked up by a young man and I can still picture his pickup clear as day. I told him I ran away from home but nothing else, and he didn't pry so we just kept driving. He made small talk, I mostly listened, but eventually I confessed I didn't have any plan or place to go. He suggested the military since he had a friend in it who could help me, plus that'd get me on my feet. I enlisted.
It was like being five again for many years afterward. I had to relearn a lot because what I had been told in my childhood was centered around the cult's beliefs, and my education was severely lacking for my age. I was considered an eighteen yr old in 5th grade. My time was spent drifting between homes and jobs and friends, never stayed in one spot for too long. I didn't feel connected to any identity since it wasn't like I had papers to say who I was.
I had a job as a mover for a while and that's where I met my long term boyfriend. Currently I live with him and just try to take things one day at a time.
I don't know what happened to my parents, but they're probably dead. I haven't seen my brother since that day I left. I have no way of contacting him if he's alive and I don't even know where he'd be.
End of Days
The pastors got involved in the prepping movement. Suddenly there was this huge focus on the end times. One day she starts tearing into me about not stockpiling more food. The pastors had joined a Multi-level marketing scam for dried food. Most of the members were dirt poor, but suddenly God wants us all to buy expensive prepper stuff.
No Boys Allowed
I knew a guy born into a fundamentalist Mormon sect on the Montana/Idaho border.
His "oh shit" moment was his 18th birthday when his dad and the other men kicked him out of town and told him never to come back.
They keep the girls and marry them off to the other men in town. But boys gotta go so they don't take the precious girls.
My aunt, uncle and their ~5 kids were in a cult in the 80's/90's. They were faith healers and the leader basically preached that if you got sick it's because you didn't love god enough. Their "oh shit" moment was when the cult leader died of gangrene. They immediately founded their own church after the cult disbanded though, so they definitely still have some weird beliefs.
8/21/2011 + 1
I was raised in the Family Radio apocalyptic Christian cult. I guess the biggest "Oh SHIT" moment was when the world didn't end on May 21, 2011. My whole life was building up to that day and I had no other purpose.
...and then May 22 came and I figure out how to live in a world that I was taught to reject.
When my mom said a relative had "educated himself right out" of our religion I realized that something you can educate yourself out of might not be the source of all truth and enlightenment after all.
This is a big thing for Jehovah's Witnesses. They're encouraged not to engage in higher education because it "destroys faith."
Perhaps if learning to reason and understand science destroys their faith, maybe that faith is not well founded.