While many of us have seen fictionalized accounts of what it’s like being in a cult in movies and in TV shows, few of us actually know just how horrifying and dangerous it actually is to be part of such an organization. Especially from an early age. We’ve covered that in detail before, here at Bored Panda.
One of the hallmarks of a cult is that its leaders highlight the fact that they’re definitely not a cult. They try to present themselves as innocuous organizations or simply close-knit communities, sometimes with strong quasi-religious overtones, who ‘care’ about the ‘welfare’ of their ‘flock.’ But if it looks like a cult and quacks like a cult, odds are that it is one.
Redditors from all around the globe shared their opinions about what organizations they believe are actually cults in disguise, and explained why in a viral r/AskReddit thread. We’ve collected their insights and opinions to share with you. Meanwhile, read on for Bored Panda’s interview with the author of the viral thread, whose family had been in a small cult themselves. The redditor was kind enough to answer our questions in detail.
Megachurches. They’re money cults.
The author of the thread explained to us what inspired them to come up with the question in the first place, shared their thoughts about people’s fascination with cults, and explained how someone can realize that they were actually part of such an organization.
“I asked this question because I have seen a lot of people involved in cults in the past who didn’t realize it at the time. Spreading awareness about different cults can help people realize they (or their loved ones) may also be in a cult unknowingly,” they told Bored Panda.
“I think cults have always interested people. There are so many different types,” they gave Kanye West’s new ‘Christian school’ “that chants/sings his mother’s name in the mornings” as an example of this.
“Some of these seem innocent at the time but they can have long-lasting negative impacts on people. Most people don’t relive they have been in a cult until they have lost money, time, or friends due to the cult.”
MAGAs. Very culty. They basically worship one man who is supposed to be a public servant. They pay him money, go to his events, let him decide their healthcare
(antivax, hydroxychloroquine, etc), they have “secret phrases” (let’s go Branden”, they make it their whole personality (flags, stickers, hats, shirts, their cars), they have conspiracy theories, and they’re willing to get violent for him (Jan 6).
The Church of Scientology
Some of the illegal s**t they’ve done is so ridiculous. Been wanting to make a video where I just read a list of this b******t with fun goofy music in the background. You could do the same with the ridiculous things they actually believe.
Here’s an example: Their founder was a science fiction writer and the only holiday they recognize is his birthday
Edit: the entire “religion” is also banned from changing any and all articles on Wikipedia because they abused that feature.
According to the author of the viral thread, critical thinking, as well as distance from the cult, are essential in realizing that you were involved in an actual cult.
“Talking with former members and discussing shared experiences (trauma, abuse, or just stories) can help the healing process. My family used to be in a small cult and we didn’t realize it until we left. I know this from personal experience,” they revealed to Bored Panda.
“Thankfully, I wasn’t abused or anything, but I have friends who were abused and their lives will never be the same as a result. Cults are dangerous and deserve to be placed in the spotlight for public scrutiny to protect the children and individuals involved.”
The Mormon church. I realized it was a cult when I was a kid and started asking questions. Figured I’d be met with optimism and willingness to answer those questions. Instead I was met with aggression and shut down.
As someone who comes from a family of Jehovahs and has actively practiced this faith in past times
It is 100% a cult.
Came here to see this. I was raised JW, and finally mustered up the courage to leave when I turned 18. Literally overnight everyone I knew my whole life cut contact with me. Not even a goodbye. Friends and family. The stress from it all made me physically ill, I was in and out of the hospital constantly. I’m doing much better now, I have a beautiful little family. In the entire time I’ve been gone, now about 6ish years, my biological father has called me one time. This is how the conversation went (BD – bio dad)
BD- hello is this ninjapig101 (literally using my first and last name)
BD- this is first name last name (yes he literally used just his first and last name) calling to inform you of the passing of grandma (except he uses grandmas first and last name in referring to her as well)
It was like I was just immediately no longer part of the family, just like that.
I’m so thankful I got out of that when I had the chance.
During a previous in-depth interview, Bored Panda spoke about cults with Suzanne Degges-White, a Licensed Counselor, Professor, and Chair at the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University.
“The worst thing about cult indoctrination is that people actually LOVE the feeling they get in being a part of something bigger than themselves. Folks who have the wisdom to recognize that they are being led into a cult are not the ones who are going to be totally indoctrinated and stuck inside it,” the professor told Bored Panda.
“They recognize that the leader is likely a charlatan and they have enough of a support system beyond the cult that they don’t get totally sucked into it in the first place. The people who actually NEED to get out of it are going to have to have a support system or something better outside the cult if they are going to leave,” she said.
“Cult leaders are master manipulators who are also excellent readers of others—and they truly sense who is a more likely ‘follower’ aka ‘victim’ and tend to invest their energy wisely. They don’t waste too much time on people they don’t think will easily join their ranks,” Professor Degges-White told Bored Panda earlier.
My wife’s parents fell off deep into the Q-hole. It’s more sad than anything.
I lost a mother to this. I left home because it was unsafe for my physical well-being to remain with how ready she was to shoot anyone who ‘attacked’ our home.