How to Rescue Someone from a Cult

Okay, it’s not that simple.

rescuing_cult_membersYou usually can’t just rescue someone from a cult. Put aside images of white horses, commando raids, or black bulletproof sedans.

While a few cult converts may walk away shortly after entering a spiritually abusive group, for most it is a longer process. It can take months or years.

And the number one reason for leaving the group? It’s not the pleas of family members. Instead, it’s dissatisfaction or disillusionment with the group or group leader.

The second most common reason? Expulsion from the group because the member is deemed rebellious or useless.

The point is that once someone is in a cult, it is very difficult to leave. This is part of the definition of a cult, by the way—exiting is hard.

Also by definition, the cult member doesn’t believe that he or she is in a cult. Instead, he or she believes that they have achieved a privileged status in an elite group which offers them ultimate salvation. So your attempts to “save” them from their group ring hollow—or sound nefarious—to the cult member.

But there are steps a concerned family member can take which may hasten a cult member’s exit from the group. I have already described ten strategies in a previous post. After reading Livia Bardin’s excellent book, Coping with Cult Involvement, we can boil it down to four primary strategies:

1.) Increase Your Knowledge

study_about_cultsMost family members react with strong emotions when they discover that a loved one is in a cult. That’s understandable. But before rushing at the group with drawn swords, family members should educate themselves about cult behavior in general and the specific cult in particular. There are reasons why people join cults. Cults offer their members three things: perceived significance, security, and love. And all cults have certain distinguishing characteristics. Is it a Bible cult? A doomsday cult? A New Age cult? A Satanic cult?

The Bible says that zeal without knowledge is not good (Prov. 19:2). By charging into a cult situation, directly confronting cult leaders, or using words like “brainwashing,” “mind control,” or “cult,” you will almost certainly do more harm than good. This is because the group has taught members that family will criticize the group and will get angry about the new convert’s choice to follow God. By reacting emotionally, families play right into the cult’s hands and bring shunning upon themselves.

Though it is difficult, try to remain calm, ask other people to pray, and read as much as you can about cults. This will put you in a strong place to wisely interact with your loved one and the group members and leader(s).

2.) Stay Connected with Your Loved One

This is easier said than done, especially if you’ve ignored step one and have already described the group as a cult or have blown up at your loved one or other group members. Staying connected with your loved one may be difficult or sometimes impossible. But as the Bible says, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. This takes patience. But love, after all, is patient.

stay_connectedHow can you stay connected? First, understand that the group leader wants you to do something which will require your loved one to shun you. This is part of every cult’s strategy, 100% of the time. They want to isolate group members from outside relationships which could draw them away from the cult. So if you know this, how can you foil their plans? You trump their strategy by refusing to react to accusations leveled by your loved one. You refuse to make direct statements against the cult. You answer questions with questions. You set aside your feelings of horror and disgust and choose simply to be patient and listen.

Ask your loved one about the group. Sit in on a meeting if it is safe to do so. Learn the group’s “lingo” and use it in conversation. Every group has certain buzzwords and phrases which are loaded with meaning and which make the members feel special and in the know. If you can use phrases in the same way the group does, you can connect with your loved one on a level playing field.

Perform acts of kindness. Send cards or letters, even if you never hear back. Call occasionally, even if you just get voicemail. Visit your loved one, even if they live far away (ask first). These points of contact may carry more weight than you realize. This leads to step three.

3.) Build Trust and Maintain a Place of Safety

This is difficult, because the group leader has told each cult member to distrust family members who are outside of the group. They may have vilified you or cast aspersions on your character. But the beautiful thing is that the group leader is in fact the person who has an inconsistent, manipulative, treacherous character. At some point or another he or she will make a mistake, get caught in a lie, or evidence inconsistent behavior which will trouble a discerning group member. Hypocrisy cannot hide forever.

warm_welcome_spaceThrough your faithful, consistent, truthful behavior, you can build trust with your loved one. If you say you’ll do something, do it. If you say you won’t do something, keep your word. Continue to act in a loving, sane, rational manner, and your words and actions will carry greater and greater weight. Part of this trust may involve refusing to speak badly about the cult or cult leader while with your loved one. If your loved one says, “Pastor so-and-so is the perfect pastor,” simply reply with, “Wow! I can tell you really respect Pastor so-and-so. Can you tell me more?” You don’t have to agree with your loved one. But let them know that you will listen to them and respect their right to voice their opinion (which is different than agreeing with or respecting their opinion). This will pay dividends later.

Maintain a safe place. Let your loved one know that they are always welcome to visit. By definition, the easier it is to leave a cult, the sooner the cult member will exit. If a cult member knows that they have someplace safe and welcoming besides the cult to go, they may just leave. Some cults do allow members to visit their family outside the group, as long as those family members haven’t spoken out against the cult. The cult members will use these visits to try to “convert” you to their perspective. Refuse to be ruffled. Just love them, listen to them, and let them know they can come back anytime. If they blow up at you, try to defuse the tension. If they press you to make a decision for or against the group, delay by saying you need more time to make a thoughtful and genuine decision.

4.) Exploit Opportunities

What is an opportunity? It could be anything. A phone call. A visit to your home. A spectacular misdeed by the group leader. The death of someone in the group. A strange new teaching which contradicts former teachings of the group. Illness. Doubts.

seed_of_doubtAt this time you may carefully point out disparities between what the group leader teaches and what the Bible says, but do so with tact. Plant little seeds of doubt, but do so in ways that sound like questions. For example, you could say, “I notice that you said that your group is privileged to have the truth of God. Do you believe that other people also have the truth of God?” Or, “I know that Pastor so-and-so teaches that most Christians are sub-biblical or unsaved because they don’t follow the Bible the way your group does. But there is another group in town which believes the same thing: that if you don’t follow their group, you are unsaved. I’m confused. How can both groups be right? This sounds like mutually-exclusive exclusiveness.” Keep asking questions like this, and then listen respectfully to your loved one’s replies. You never know how a single question might lodge in their mind.

If you suspect the group has done something illegal, you may be obligated to get the appropriate authorities involved, depending upon what the issue is and how strong your suspicion. Child Protective Services, the FBI, the ATF, local police, and the IRS may all be called upon to investigate. Many cults eventually blow apart because the cult leader did something illegal: tax fraud, physical or sexual abuse, or in extreme cases, illegal possession of weapons or contraband.


The four steps above are not a panacea for cult involvement. There is no magic bullet to free a cult member from his or her unhealthy group. If there were, experts would be using the formula to free thousands of people every week.

Instead, these steps are general principles which may help to hasten a cult member’s exit from a destructive group.

And never forget: Jesus came to bring liberty for captives.

He is the one who sets prisoners free.

63 comments on “How to Rescue Someone from a Cult

  1. […] Let’s help the innocent victims of dangerous cults by understanding cult behavior. 1. Looking at Cult Behavior 2. The Cult Institute Warning Signs 3. How to Rescue Someone from a Cult […]

  2. Thank you for this post. My son is involved in a job which is extremely cult like. He left a very good job in Alaska and was very broken at the time. We really wanted him to take it easy and go to counseling but he immediately got involved in this pyramid style company that sells cell phones. He begins the day at work by 7am getting all pumped up with coworkers. “negativity” or questioning anything is not tolerated. In fact, if your family does not like the job, they encourage you to stay away from them. Well, like I said he begins at 7 and continues to work until he has made a “sale”. They give him a territory and he pounds the pavement till 8, 9, or 10pm. He buys his own gas. They keep him sleep deprived and make him go to team nights. He eats sleeps and breaths this company. Sometimes they send him out of town. They don’t give gas or food money. My husband and I and our daughter in law were all telling him that he could do better. We tried to point out that after gas he was making about 2.00 an hour. He now stays away from all of us. He has a new son and he sees him briefly once a week. We know that eventually his car will break down (it is old), my grandson will get child support and he will run out of places to stay….and there is no way he will be able to rent a place on his ridiculous paycheck. He has actually had to pawn jewelry just to stay alive. We hope when his world crashes around him that he will come home. Until then we think it is best to let him wear his clothes that starting to look shabby and to let him run out of gas. I know that sounds cruel but maybe that is the only way he will see that this job was designed to turn him into some mindless selling drone making his boss rich. I really cant wait till this is all over and my son sees that is boss is a lying double tongued person. I have had words with his boss and been threatened with a law suit and I imagine I made things worse. Now I am trying to read posts like these so that I don’t do the wrong thing anymore and hopefully get my son back someday.

    • So sorry this is happening to your son, but your approach is very wise. Many people would continue to enable someone in a situation like this, cushioning them from the consequences of their choices and beliefs. I wish you all the best.

  3. Thank you for this article. It helps a lot. I have a daughter in a cult and it has been really difficult to go through this. I think my situation here is worse than the one you described. Therefore I cannot include the details here publicly. But I really want to do more than I have so far. If there is a way we can contact to discuss directly I would appreciate it. Meanwhile I’m working on steps 1., 2., 3., and 4.

    • Hi, My wife and three children are in a cult, led by my wife’s father. I’m getting them out. I’m not giving up.
      Would be good to share experiences/advice/strategies
      Much Love – Dan

    • Can you please lead me to a online support group of parents who have children in a cult? My daughter is in the global alliance community. A man who calls himself Gabriael of Sodona is leader of tthis cult in arazona.he has been at this for a long time an is very cunning in his brainwashing. As a matter of fact dateline did an expose on him in 1998 whichtime he was a leader of another cult. I am desperate an have no where to turn an nobody to ask for advise. The steps you listed is impossible for me, when all I want to do is strangle that leader an steal my daughter back! Every instinct as a mother just screams to just run in there an throw her in a car an bring her home. But then what? Drug
      Addicts have rehab, I WOULDENT have no idea how to help someone that has been brainwashed!!! I’m looking for help , I am so afraid for her.

      • I am so sorry to hear about your daughter’s involvement in this group, Melanie. I suggest you get in touch with the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) at their website here: http://www.icsahome.com/ They are experts in this field and should be able to direct you to a support group. You can also call the counselors at Hope for the Heart in Plano, Texas. They do free phone counseling and you can reach them here: http://www.hopefortheheart.org/ministries/hope-care-center/ or call them at 1-800-488-HOPE (4673). Both of these organizations should be able to give you some help. I will pray for your daughter’s release.

  4. Good post, Liberty for Captives. I’m a walk-away from a church group that has been unhealthy for some people. I wanted to let people know that there is hope — and that sometimes a little questioning of the group can help, especially when you are a trusted friend, rather than family member. I think it is a lot harder for family members, because we are warned about both family members and disgruntled ex-members. Some of us are recovering now, because we’ve begun blogging on our old church and have begun identifying some of the common problems we faced while we were in.

    In my experience, I have found that hearing from ex-members and also reading up on cultism / thought reform have been quite helpful. When someone says that their group is not a cult, ask them if they know what criteria cult experts, sociologists, and psychiatrists use to evaluate whether or not a group is a cult. It may get them to thinking.

  5. My daughter is in a calvinist church and it is just like a cult; total control and being told and threatened what to do, what not to do, etc. Do your principles apply to this situation too? The situation is worsening weekly, and she now openly tells us, her parents, that we’re going to hell because we’re not calvinist. Please help!

  6. Thank you for your site. In the last two weeks I have found out more about a group my daughter is affiliated with and plans to join full-time when she graduates this May. They actively recruit on college campuses and has many characteristics attributed to cults – including special training on fundraising and recruitment and the group “discerning” her romantic relationships. I already blew #1 when I used the “c” word this week which resulted in her blowing up on me. Thanks for your suggestions. I will be working to maintain connection. Difficult is an understatement…when you feel the Devil working so hard to steal your child – but I will do what is necessary to save her. I’m sure I will be checking in regularly.

  7. Don’t you realize that Christianity itself is a cult? What I can see is the blind leading the blind here. What irony.

      • Steve, you look like a good person with an honest heart and open mind, so I’ve written to you personally. Normally I don’t do this, because I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s beliefs, but you wanted an explanation, so I’m going to try my best. Please don’t look at me as an enemy until you’ve considered all that I say.

        Ponder it more than once. Please have courage when you think about this, and please remember that it’s ok to change your mind. There’s nothing wrong with learning something and growing as a person.

        For the record, I had once wanted to be a priest of Christianity. But I studied too much. I read things that they don’t want potential priests to see. I learned too much, and I want to share my knowledge with you.

        I’ll be quoting what you said from the article, so I won’t say anything you haven’t already said.

        Well, here I go.

        ” Cults offer their members three things: perceived significance, security, and love. ”

        Christianity offers significance in the form of believing in a soul and a special plan for them by God. The church itself offers food to the hungry often, and even if not, it is common to believe that “god will provide”.

        The love aspect should not need explaining. The idea of “god loves everyone, even sinners” is well known, and most certainly will draw in anyone who might feel unloved or unwanted, perhaps because of past crimes, or just because they’ve had a hard life.

        “Every group has certain buzzwords and phrases which are loaded with meaning and which make the members feel special and in the know.”

        You said it yourself. “The Bible says that zeal without knowledge is not good (Prov. 19:2)”

        Any time a religious person quotes their mystical book, to a person not in that cult, it seems like some sort of invocation or weird ritual, even a magic spell type charm.

        Yes, even from the Bible that you believe in. It sounds zany and weird. But only if you don’t believe in it. If you do believe in it, it sounds like a powerful phrase filled with wisdom. That’s the key here. You quote it as if it was some sort of great wisdom, and it might be, on its own, but when it gives a book filled with rules and “supernatural” occurrences power, it becomes a bit more dark, and very suspicious.

        Seriously, the quote “zeal without knowledge is not good” is true, I think. There’s nothing wrong with it on its own. But if you keep reading the Bible, suddenly you might stumble across something weird and uncanny. Something darker, that seems out of place in a book of wisdom.

        If I pretend to be a cult leader, I could say “God says that “When it is dark and you are alone, you must seek fire and light.”” It makes sense. Later on, I might also say “And so the enemy of God must be brought to the light. Burn them.”

        And then we have burnings, which is exactly what Christians do. Not in America, but Christians in other, more primitive countries, take the Bible very seriously, and literally burn witches alive, along with other people they consider an enemy. Yes, just within the 2000’s this has happened, and it is terrifying, and they are NOT following a different religion than you. It is just a more pure, undiluted form of it.

        The American form of Christianity is weaker because if it wasn’t, we’d still have burnings and lynchings, and I don’t think we as a civilized, technological nation can tolerate that.

        All it takes to fool people are two truths and a lie that makes sense without really analyzing it. Sexism, slavery, animal sacrifice, and other weird things are all in the Bible, with clear instructions on how to do it. As if it was meant to be done, and God said “Do it.”

        That doesn’t make sense. Why would a book of wisdom suddenly bring out a bunch of really weird stuff like that? It doesn’t make sense. It’s something out of a cult.


        “If you suspect the group has done something illegal, you may be obligated to get the appropriate authorities involved, depending upon what the issue is and how strong your suspicion.”

        Catholic priests rape children.

        Churches are not taxed, yet make huge profits.

        Some churches are not allowed to be built, because religious people have corrupted the government. It’s easy for one cult, such as a popular Christian church in the south, to ban another cult from creating temples or churches, such as “The Oracle Institute”. A bunch of Christians petitioned against a church being built, and so it was not built.

        Christians also have sponsored many censorship laws, as well as all of that stuff about gay marriage. I don’t really care about gay marriage personally, but the idea that gay people CAN’T be married, in a legal sense, isn’t the same as Christians not allowing gay marriage within their own religion.

        This is corruption, and a clear sign that Christianity is a cult.

        It’s easy to think “But MY religion isn’t a cult, it’s a part of my culture and my faith.”

        And it might seem that way if you had been born into a Christian family. But that means you were literally brainwashed into a cult as a child, and because it is brainwashing from a young age, and makes you feel loved and secure, you see no reason to mistrust the very foundation.

        What is the FOUNDATION of Christianity? It is an all powerful “Zeus” like figure, a figurehead that can watch your movements, like the NSA, keep peasants in line, offer forgiveness, sometimes for money, be it an “Indulgence” or just a tithe.

        This figurehead gives people a carrot and stick regarding heaven or hell, and like all religions, and people will respect that aspect of it too. They will obey the rules and respect the mythology about that religion, no matter how illogical it is, such as living inside a fish, or somehow saving every single animal in the world in a single boat, despite obvious issues that would arise with such an arrangement.

        So for those that only believe half of a religion, it can literally mutate and evolve into other churches.

        That’s why Judaism was able to split twice, once into Christianity, and another time into Islam. Note how Islam starts off in the Garden of Eden, and has Adam and Eve and even Abraham, and all the same characters, until a deviation point.

        Same with Christianity, and like those deviations, splits even occur within Christianity, proving very harshly that SOME MORTAL HUMAN invented a new version of it.

        One that was more convincing. One that spread better. For instance, removing the idea of demons living in hell that torture people makes Christianity easier to swallow in the modern age. We know what’s below ground. There’s no horrifying land of suffering, just magma, so that whole thing might be thrown out.

        Of course, it depends on what version of the cult you were taught. Could be Lutheranism, could be Catholicism, could be Protestantism, or any other form of it. Maybe you made up your own version that makes sense just to you. The fact that it’s different for everyone almost seems to imply each person invents their own god.

        Each person seems to say either “God believes gay people are evil”, or another chooses to think “No, God thinks gay people are ok, because certain passages in the bible prove it”.

        Some Christians might talk about people of different religions, like Hinduism, as believers in demons, and other Christians might think of Hinduism as just another religion.

        Some Christians think Jesus was just a wise man, others think he was the son of a god and had magical powers like walking on water or conjuring fish and bread to feed people.

        But I dare you to think: “God doesn’t exist.” “Jesus doesn’t have magic powers.” “Muhammad did not see angels.” “Abraham did not see angels.” “The story of Eden is not true.”

        What if the whole thing was just made up? Every single part of it.

        What if it really was a cult designed to make people feel significant, loved and secure?

        What if the cold hard truth really is cold and hard? What if there’s no god? No pleasurable heaven where you get to be immortal in paradise? What if there’s no angels?

        What if Jesus was just a normal person who thought “Society could be better if they just followed basic rules like “love your neighbor”. But they won’t even listen to me unless I tell them I’m a god or a holy messenger…”

        What if that was his thought process, so he made the whole thing up? Not every cult needs to have some evil, sinister cult leader, dressed in dark robes. A person could just do good deeds, say wise things, along with maybe some unwise personal opinions, and then just add the miracles in writing later.

        It’s not tough for a popular person to get a loan and serve up a bunch of fish and chips to the poor, and then call it a miracle. That’ll get their attention.

        It’s not tough to spike water with psychedelic mushrooms and call it a special type of wine. For being the first miracle, it only gets a sentence or two in the Bible, as if someone cut out some of it.

        But didn’t Jesus also speak about loving your neighbor? To be kind to children? To be a good person and not hurt people? That all makes sense, and anyone can see it, and anyone can say it. It’s how you say it that counts.

        That’s why we say “Charismatic”. Jesus was charismatic. He said nice things that got people to listen and obey. He doesn’t have to be a bad guy to start a cult.

        But he was only a human, and he was a cult leader, just like Muhammad, or Buddha or any other mortal who’s said “I know what god wants.” while thinking “People will only obey if there’s some sort of powerful authority giving power to my words. If they don’t think my ideas are holy, they won’t listen.”

        Some people use this power for evil. Some people try to use it for good.

        And sometimes a good intent becomes corrupted, as you know. And that’s why your religion seems corrupted to me.

        The idea of encouraging people to join your particular cult, while rejecting others, feels really really scary. It makes me feel scared that you have such faith in your own religious cult, yet can say that faith in another cult is untrue.

        To me, they all seem untrue, including yours.


        “Also by definition, the cult member doesn’t believe that he or she is in a cult. Instead, he or she believes that they have achieved a privileged status in an elite group which offers them ultimate salvation. ”

        And that’s how you might feel. You might feel as if my words are some sort of scheme or plot to make you lose your status in Christianity. God would look down on you if you stopped believing.

        You would feel like I might be taking away your chance of immortality in paradise. A carrot and stick works great to keep people in line. Because if I’m wrong, you’ll go to HELL. You’ll suffer and burn. Forever. A stick to go along with the carrot of heaven.

        But what sort of person would make “The truth” so boring and almost depressing? If I’m right, and all religions are just made up by idealistic, charismatic people, then there isn’t a hell.

        But there’s not a reward either. There’s nothing but your own life and your own choices.

        We live on a rock going around the sun. Life seems to be nothing more than a very amazing accumulation of complexity over time. Yup. It’s pretty cool, but there’s no immortality here in reality.

        In reality, when we die, we just die.

        In reality, Christianity is just another cult.

        It feels good to believe in, and it’s hard to imagine that it might not be true, it might be really upsetting, or even make you angry to think it’s not true.

        But even if it’s not true, we aren’t alone. We’ve got each other, and that’s the truth. We don’t need religion to have a strong community. We don’t need immortality to give this life meaning.

        Yeah, I guess it means nihilism is true. But that just means we gotta choose our own purpose in life.

        For me, that means learning about the universe, making beautiful art and having good friends, while working hard each day to make the next one better than the last. I like to smile.

        For you, it might be talking about liberty and justice and how to build a strong community. Or maybe there’s something else you want to do. Have you tried surfing before? How often do you go fishing? It’s up to you.

        There are a lot of ways to find love, security and happiness, but I warn you: Joining a cult is not one of them.

        If you ever left your cult, Christianity, how many of the people you associate with now because of it would see you as an enemy? I bet it’d be more than just one. They’ll look at you like you’re the devil. They’ll think of you the same way scientologists look at ex-scientologists. As an enemy who has too much information, and must be silenced or at least shunned.

        That happened to me when I did studying from non-approved books while I was training for priesthood. Mostly just science books, but a few about the deeper origins of Christianity. I told other students about my discoveries, and instead of even considering me, they shunned me and kicked me out. They had a closed mind and a closed heart. They were only my friends while I agreed with them. When I questioned them and their religion, they kicked me out, just like any cult would do, including yours, I bet.

        And that brings me to another aspect:


        If you know the theory of evolution, you’d know that the most adaptable life forms survive.

        And the same goes for religion. A religious cult that doesn’t spread itself doesn’t get popular. But one that does? One that has missionaries “Spreading the holy truth”?

        That one will find people who want love, who need security, and want guidance in life, and it’ll spread it to them. And then it’ll spread to their children. It might spread to their neighbors.

        Who can resist “The Holy Truth of God”? When life is hard and often depressingly painful, it might feel good to just know the truth, and get rewarded for believing it. Getting a free, welcoming community along with immortality in paradise is a nice offer.

        You might think so too, which is why you believe in Christianity.
        But I disagree.

        I think we need to stay out of religious cults, because they don’t offer the truth.
        They call their beliefs “truth”, but in reality, a bunch of wise quotes mixed with threats of hellfire or rewards of heaven don’t sound true to me. Supernatural miracles don’t sound true to me either.

        It sounds like two truths and a lie. Tell people that love is more powerful than hate, and they’ll agree. Love IS more powerful than hate.

        Tell them to love their neighbors and family and community, and they’ll agree.
        It IS good to be able to show love to your fellow humans on this planet.

        Now tell them to obey a god and to obey his rules, and don’t forget to tithe, and you’ve got yourself a cult.

        “And never forget: Jesus came to bring liberty for captives.

        He is the one who sets prisoners free.”

        And I say, no, as long as you need to rely on someone else to give you freedom, you’re not free. As long as your freedom is only given to you by someone else, you’re nothing more than a dog being given a treat and the ability to run freely in the yard outside.

        Surrounded by a cold, metal fence.

        Free your mind from the cult you are in. You can’t see a cult from the inside.

        From my outside point of view, you are in a cult. Everything you say is painted with red flags that scream “Cultist” to me.

        The way you mention your religious figures at the end of your post. The way you include magic phrases in your posts, like the quotes from the Bible.

        Like Alan above you said, I see the blind leading the blind.

        You seem to say “Get out of your cult, but join mine.”

        I’m not in any cult. I’m a bit more of a lonely person, so I just do my own thing. It also means I’m an outsider to ALL cults.

        I notice that all people who are in religious cults have the same cult-like attitude. You know what I mean when you look at scientologists or pagans. It seems weird to think of worshiping aliens, dancing around totem poles, or making sacrifices to the gods.

        But you do culty things too, don’t you? You have certain rituals that might seem odd to a person not in the cult. Some Christians pretend to drink blood and eat human flesh. Or god flesh. Some think that you need to spread the religion, or you’ll be horrified thinking anyone who isn’t in your religion is going to burn forever or something bad.

        You’ve got weird rituals, magic phrases from what I’ll call a “magic book”, to show you its mundane quality, and you’ve got a powerful form of belief living inside a fallible human who sees miracles and mysteries all over.

        But that sort of vision is not wisdom. It’s delusion.

        People who believe in ghosts see ghosts. People who believe in astrology see proof of their astrology. And people who believe in a god see God all over the place. But I don’t believe in any of that, so I don’t see it.

        If you believed in astrology, you might start seeing signs of that in daily life.

        But you’re just a human, so I don’t think it’s wise to think that your brain is 100% logical and never makes a mistake. Belief in a god seems like a mistake to me, because the moment I stopped believing in it, I no longer saw any sign of a god at all. Not Zeus, not Ra, not Yahweh, not Jesus, not Allah, not Vishnu or Shiva, not Thor or Odin. None of them ever appeared to me.

        Yet, I was just talking to a friend of mine, a believer in Odin.

        He told me he sees signs of Odin everywhere, the same way you likely see signs of your god everywhere. But I don’t see it. I’m not in a cult, so I don’t see any supernatural things happen. Not Odin, not miracles, not Jesus and not any proof of astrology or ghosts either.

        Those tell-tale signs of being in a cult seem clear to me, both in religions like Hinduism, or Islam, or your religion. I see clearly that you are in a cult.

        If you look at your religion from the outside, would you see what I see? I see the same behaviors coming from you that come from any person in a cult. That’s just how it is.

        Please think deeply about all this. Ponder every word. Read it twice or three times, if you still don’t understand. Let every thought in your head finish. Don’t let guilt or fear cut your thoughts short.

        Let your thought complete itself 100% and don’t give up until you’ve thought “Maybe there is no god, and I really am in a cult.”

        If I’m wrong, you can always go back. But if I’m right, you will no longer be in a cult, and you will have grown as a person.

        No matter what, there is still love in this world, and there is still hope.

        Have courage.

      • Mike, thank you for responding so eloquently and clearly to my question. I read your answer slowly and carefully–a not so easy task with small children capering around the house–and I’ve thought about what you’ve said. I can understand your position. In many ways, it makes logical sense. You have experienced both sides of religion, and what you have seen makes you thankful to be on the outside with a clear view.

        The reason I cannot agree with your view is because I start with differing presuppositions. I see the world around me and its order and complexity, and I see the hand of God and the input of intelligence. I read your arguments and I see logic and reason–yet where does the ability to reason come from? How is it that man is distinguished from the animals by way of intellect? Where did all the information in the genome come from? How does an unreasoning universe produce intelligence?

        I also believe that we should not judge a system by its abuse. The many horrors perpetrated in the name of religion by fallible people do not by themselves discredit the system as it was intended to be lived.

        You say often that you have come to see something, or it seems to you, or you think, which show that your source of authority and truth is your ability to reason. Am I right? And you say that my source of authority–the Bible–is a magical book created by men. So it may seem to you. But the truth of this book has changed my life, and the person at its center–Jesus–is a historical figure who I believe through many proofs rose from the dead.

        I have followed your thought process through to its end several times in the past–I have considered whether I have believed in a false system, a manmade cult, or a fairy-tale. But the power of God which raised Jesus from the dead also lives in me. I cannot deny it, and I cannot see the world around me and say, as you say, that it is a product of chance. Reason requires an intelligent cause.

        Truly, I appreciate your thoughtful explanation. Your arguments are well-stated and helpful. But I have a different source of authority and thus a different worldview. Like you, I encourage you to continue to consider alternative viewpoints with an open heart and mind. For both of us, may truth and love win!

      • And Steve, that is why cults are so dangerous. Everything you wrote just now screams “cult” to me, I’m afraid. When you say that people rose from the dead, or tell me false logic like “reason requires an intelligent cause”, I simply shake my head.

        Your words are words of a cultist. From my outside point of view, I see that very clearly. Your logic is just weird to me as logic of a scientologist or a person who believes in other forms of magic is to me. I can tell it makes sense from your point of view, but from mine, it seems like it requires magic and miracles and includes lots of rules and manmade systems. For instance, if you stopped teaching it to children and to other people, the system would be forgotten. If we burned all the Bibles and other books, and humanity forgot Christianity, it would NEVER be seen again.

        No one would be able to rediscover it, because as we see, people make up new, original religions all the times. We call the little, new ones cults. The big ones are religions, such as yours.

        I don’t think reason or intellect needs an intelligent cause. I’ve thought all the same things you have, except I’ve come to a different conclusion that doesn’t rely on mythological deities or religions.

        Can you do a thought experiment? Read what you just wrote, and then compare yourself and your writing with the original blog post you wrote about how to rescue someone from a cult.

        Look at all the similarities you wrote about your own religious view, and then you will see that it has all the same signs that a cult does. I mean no disrespect. I don’t view cults as inherently evil. I just see them as not true.

        By the way, have you ever seen a snowflake? It is an example of a natural accumulation of complexity. Give a snowflake that doesn’t melt a billion years to form, and it might just end up a little bit intelligent.

        Same with cults and businesses and government.

        Give a cult that worships the brightest thing in the sky, the sun, some time, and it’ll end up being something very complex like ancient Egyptian religion.

        Give a bunch of people anarchy, and they’ll slowly form rules and leaders and a government system. And businesses often start small, but like with evolution, businesses that don’t work will go bankrupt, and those that do work end up very large and multinational.

        Businesses might need a creator, but things like anarchy into government just need small adjustments, one tiny thing at a time.

        Same with RNA into DNA into single celled organisms like bacteria, and then into shrimpy creatures, into fish, into land animals and so on. It takes a very long time, and many generations so you don’t normally see it happening, but that is how it works.

        It’s quite interesting, and the thing that gives me a reason to think that it’s true is that it doesn’t require any miracles or magic. No gods are necessary, and no miracles, like rising from the dead, are necessary.

        There aren’t any weird rules or anything that doesn’t make sense, if you take the time to fully understand it. It does take time though. Learning stuff isn’t easy. But science tries very hard to be logical and have proof that anyone can learn about, so if it wasn’t logical, scientists wouldn’t think it was true. Not only that, but it must be observed before it can be a theory, and not just that, but you must be able to test it yourself.

        And you can, if you feel like exploring evolution more. I’m not a scientist, so I’m not quite sure how to tell you, but I’m sure you could get a bacteria culture and watch them adapt to environments.

        Steve, I urge you once more to question yourself and all that you wrote.

        Pretend it wasn’t you that wrote it. Read what you just wrote now with the eyes of a person who has no opinion going either direction, and you might see a glimpse of what I see.

        I see a good person in a bad cult that thinks that the cult is good and true.

        The cult is supposed to feel true, good, and make you feel secure and happy.

        That doesn’t mean it is.

      • And one more thing, to shake your faith:

        Crucifixion takes several days to kill the ones crucified. It wasn’t used just on Jesus. It was used on many criminals and perhaps cult leaders.

        But it takes several days to die.

        Jesus had a large last supper, which I think would give him the energy to most certainly survive at least 3 or 4 days on the cross.

        Jesus was tortured with minor wounds on the way to be crucified, but none of which were fatal. He was able to haul the cross mostly by himself.

        Upon being crucified, he hanged there for a few hours. Only hours. It takes days to kill.

        Near sundown, while Jesus was simply unconscious, his followers took him down.
        John in the Bible said “Not one of his bones will be broken,”

        The normal process was to break the legs of the crucified. But Jesus was spared. He suffered only light wounds, and did not die on the cross. He most certainly felt pain and passed out, but he did not die.

        Instead, he was brought to a cool, peaceful place to partially recover. He recovered, and was able to walk against after three days of rest.

        But infection took him, as it often did in those days, and he died anyways, after having appeared to have risen.

        I’m sorry Steve. Jesus was a great man, but only a man. All the veneration and respect humans give him is why it is a cult, and not just honoring a wise speaker.

        They call just another confused man a god, because that man said things that were wise, and that he claimed he was a son of god.

        But god doesn’t exist. Jesus didn’t die and come back. Crucifixion takes 3 or more days to kill, and Jesus, with his full stomach and friends who could convince the guards to not break his legs, and then take him down early, survived the crucifixion.

        This is how I know you are in a cult. I know the story. I studied it. I believed it so hard, but I learned too much, and now you have too. Please do not feel sad. We still have a friend in Jesus. He was still there, he still walked, and he still did great things.

        He inspires people, but he is not a god and never was. The religion that was formed 300 years after his death was a political manipulation tool and nothing more.

        You can look all of this information up yourself, if you don’t trust me.

        There is a glorious dawn that will arise tomorrow. You don’t need to be in a cult anymore. I’ll be your friend or ally if you feel like you need more support.

        You’re not alone.

      • Mike, the “swoon” theory you present as fact is just a theory. It does not make good sense of the biblical account which is the only account we have to work from. As a former history major, I am skeptical of this theory for several reasons. First, it takes the role of the Roman soldiers lightly. Roman soldiers were professionals who crucified dozens or hundreds of criminals. Roman centurions in particular were highly regarded professionals. Does it make sense that Roman soldiers whose lives were at stake if a prisoner escaped would casually let their most important prisoner “swoon” and get off a cross while still alive? Knowing that a prisoner might faint on the cross and appear dead, the soldiers always stabbed the prisoner in the pericardium, thus bringing the flow of blood and water from Jesus’ side. A man flogged nearly to death, crucified, and then stabbed in the heart while overseen by professional executioners is dead. Second, Jesus’ disciples–who all fled from him the night of his arrest–truly believed that he had risen from the dead and had appeared to them. Formerly cowards, they were eventually willing to suffer and die for that belief. That makes little sense if they themselves had stolen his body or had known that he had merely fainted on the cross. Let’s give people in ancient times a little more credit for competence.

      • Steve I agree with the others about Christianity being a cult. Except I look at the world from an agnostic point of view. I have seen miracles and strange things in my life as ‘gifts’ run in my family. You can neither say there is no god but you cant prove one is real. Now think of this scenario. A girl is in an abusive relationship the guy says “I love you so much, but if you refuse to love me then I’ll burn you alive.” Now doesn’t that sound crazy? But it would be okay if this guy was god, right? And the thing about god being perfect? Then why did he make the devil, he is theoretically all powerful and all seeing.

        He’s in the past, present and future. So he would have known the devil would turn out that way and that the outcome would lead other angels to leave him. But hold on god’s suppose to be perfect, right? So how did he make the devil and 1/3 of the angels wrong? And since god is eternal and knows no time what was he doing before us?

        And the whole thing about sin being equal, that means if some one raped and murdered my family members but three years later really repents, then he still gets to go to heaven. Wow. And once I stated a question, “What if you died right after you lied? Wouldn’t you go to hell?” I was answered with “God knows your heart.” Well why doesn’t he just judge everybody by their hearts. Hm? Wouldn’t that just save a lot more people. I mean if he was so loving, and understanding wouldn’t he do that. And when he created us wouldn’t he know not everyone would believe in him?

        And what about lot from the bible? When the men from the city asked for the boys lot had offered his daughters to be raped! As if those girls were just objects. In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Paul wrote: “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (vv. 33-35).

        If we take this literally, it would mean that women are not allowed to sing in church nor respond when the pastor asks for comments or questions from the audience. Moreover, it would contradict what Paul said in chapter 11, where he said that women could pray and prophesy in church if they had the appropriate attire. And their are many more contradictions in the bible that prove that it is not perfect therefore it was written by men.

        EXO 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.

        ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

        Who was created first? Beast or Man?

        GEN 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
        GEN 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

        GEN 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
        GEN 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

        And if your god truly loving? If so then why would he punish a baby for seven days and then have it die just because his father was greedy.2 Samuel 15 “And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.

        16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.

        17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.

        18 And it came to pass on the seventh day,” And then God had blessed David after he went and had relations with his wife and conceived another son.

        Also in Genesis 22 this is what happened. “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

        10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” God wanted to test him. And he would have killed his son had god told him to stop. Now if God told you to do this to your child, would you really be prepared to kill your child? Or would you hope god tells you to stop before its too late?

        I would rather burn in hell for eternity than to ever harm a child in anyway. But I’m glad that Christianity isn’t real, because if it was then everybody would suffer except for those few elites. Oh wait, they still do suffer.

    • That is a lie from the pits of hell!

      • Annie, I’m sure you think it’s a lie, but that’s because you’re in a cult.

        Hell doesn’t exist. Have you ever seen a map to hell? It’s a mythological place that’s supposed to be filled with ghosts, goblins, monsters, demons, and other things that don’t exist.

        It’s all made up.

        You’re in a cult, and this cult is Christianity.

        It is the biggest, most popular cult, and that’s why you don’t realize it easily.

  8. Spot on, Steve, thanks!

  9. My best friend accused me of betraying her out of the blue. This is something she feels so passionately about and I’ve tried to show her all the evidence to rebut her accusations with no success. I know there is a man in her life that tends to influence decisions in her life and I think that may be the source of these accusations. I had had a conversation with her about choosing herself and believing in herself and not letting anyone make her believe that she is not important enough for God to impart her life. I hate that she doesn’t believe in herself and doesn’t see her potential because someone else has made her feel small. My fear was that she looked up to him for advice on spiritual matters and he was using this as an avenue to influence her and stay in her life. I think he is in love with her but she says she is not. He needed a place to say and a livelihood and she provided those for him. Any attempt to ask or speak against him leads to explosive arguments. Sometimes I feel like giving up and walking away, let her live her life as she chooses. But I love her so much I’m not able to do that. The problem for me is that her relationship with him has led to her doing such vile things including extensive lying and deception and that really hurts my feelings. I also found out that everything I tell her she just repeats to him for his input- for me that was such betrayal. She has once put her life on hold to run away with him because ‘God had shown him some people were out to get him.’ I’ll definitely try and use the tips above especially the part about saying nothing negative in her presence. I think because she is so convinced that I betrayed her she is going to severe our relationship. I want to remain in her life even if as an ‘Escape plan’. O this is hard. I hope I am able to put my personal feelings aside, let all the hurtful things she does slide and be there for her. I look forward to the day she will appreciate herself for who she truly is.

  10. Our daughter married into a family cult. They are now trying to isolate her from the rest of our family. She’s been involved with this family cult going on five years. They have two little girls, they live four doors away from the cult leader, her husband works in the family business, The cult leader which is the mother handles all the money of the business, and we’ve noticed a personality difference of our daughter. How do we get her out of the situation? The mother is always at their home, she is constantly handling things in the house, we can see she is very manipulative as well as her son the husband of my daughter.

  11. What do family members do when they have blown Number 2 – ‘Staying in touch’? is there any way to backtrack with this one, after bad confrontation and being completely cut off?

  12. Hi Steve,

    Many thanks for your post. We are a Christian family from Sri Lanka. My niece studied in India and got involved in a ‘Pentecostal Christian’ type cult. For a few years we just thought that she has joined a church with extreme theologies. We did notice however that her faith in Christ did not always reflect in her actions but we thought that she will mature in her faith and the rest will follow.
    She is back in Sri Lanka but we have found out that the organisation has arranged a marriage for her to a man she has never met and she is adamant to marry this person. Since then we have found out more about the organisation and it truly is awful. Every day she is getting further and further away from us. Her mom has blown step one but her dad has been more gentle. We will get her dad to follow steps 1 through to 4.
    Thank you again for your sound advise.
    Unless you have tasted honey you will never know its sweetness. My simplistic view is the same of Jesus and his redeeming love for us.

  13. Interesting idea But I disagree with your opening words of it not being usual to help someone leave a cult and that they must decide to leave themselves . One can help that person by implanting the idea to leave . Show them love and make their “real ” self yearn to be back to normal . Why you use the phrases ” white horses, commando raids etc etc ” I have no idea , I really dont think anyone expects to use this . I think your article should at the very least be titled ” Some advice to help ……. ” I would advice anyone to get professional advice , search the net there is a lot out there. Every case is different , dependng on the length of time the victim is in the cult which could be anything from a couple of weeks up to 60 years , is it a religious cult ? The age of the victim , the events effecting the victim up to the indoctinisation , etc etc etc

  14. My husband has suffered with bipolar depression for many years, he recently experienced what he calls a miracle and says god has cured him of his depression and anger. He said God has made it clear that he cured him because his purpose in life is to spread his word. My husband said he asked God to put the people that will help him accomplish what God wants in his path, a pastor came to my husbands bike shop and now my husband is a member of their cult. He is constantly pressuring me to join him. He eats drink and breaths the Bible now, he is studying to get baptized by them. I don’t trust these pastors, my husband has fallen in love with this cult and is Ever so trusting of them in two short months. I am afraid that I will lose him and he will lose himself to these people. I try not to speak ill of them but I want toknow how I can get him to think for himself and see the truth about the cult that they are. The am feeling lost and emotionally exhausted and I am considering leaving him. He has threatened in different ways trying to get me to join him. Is there any hope ?

    • Dear Lupe,

      What about this group leaves you feeling like they are a cult? Do they have particular practices or doctrines that are different from normal Christian churches? If your husband threatened you, that is not good. Can you tell me more about this particular group?

      Grace and peace, Steve

  15. thank you so much, i’m saving in my files to read again, *including* even the good comments people have made. you’re a great teacher. God bless you.

  16. That doesn’t work with Jehovahs witnesses. And please stop talking about jesus… I dont believe in any of that.

  17. mackindale is spot on

  18. Thanks for your post. We have been a close, loving family who love Jesus all these years. At her ballet company, our daughter became involved with a young man and from that moment her normal, loving personality changed. We were shocked at the sudden change and were angry with her in during a phone call. Normally, our family can work through things, forgive etc. However, it was as if it was like ammunition to this boy and his mother. She went to his home, and from that time, inspite of asking her forgiveness for any way that we may have hurt her, she cut off her entire family, including the sister she has always loved so much. She didn’t even come to her sister’s wedding and she was supposed to be Maid of Honour.

    She stopped all communication, phone, texts, blocked us on fb, which the young man initiated by doing it first. We’ve sent letters but don’t even know if she reads them or what happens to them. My husband drove to try and see her and have a chance to talk. The mother found out he was coming and texted him telling he she would call the police. He went to the sheriff who said there was nothing wrong with trying to see his daughter. When he went the next day, there was no reply. The mother has not responded to an email we wrote to her.

    My husband went to the ballet company to see her to try and talk and to inform her of the death of a family member. She saw him for 15 minutes and was thankfully emotional rather than cold, although she didn’t want to see him afterwards. Soon, the young man appeared and she went back to class with him.

    Two weeks later, while in the area, we both went as I, her mum, had not seen or heard from her in months. We so wanted to make peace, especially as the whole ordeal has affected me emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This time, however, she was cold and calculating. It was very clear that she is being manipulated by the young man and doesn’t realise it. He wouldn’t let her talk and she just followed him. During that two weeks, it was as if she had been poisoned even more against us. The young man then called the police and had a restraining order taken out against us. Now our daughter has been convinced that we are abusive and even seemed to be enjoying the control she and the young man have over us. From the things she said to me, it was obvious that she had twisted events from the past (or had them twisted for her) to believe lies. I was highly distressed. The restraining order was only a 24 hour one and was obviously done to frighten us. The young man speaks with his mother every day. We believe the mum is probably well-versed in procedure as we found out the boy had an abusive father. We also discovered that her own sister had cut off her parents due to some kind of ‘religious’ abuse, though we have no idea what that was. It seems they are now tarring us with the same brush and trying to ‘protect’ our daughter from her entire family. Also, we assume the mother is trying to protect her son’s interests as we discovered he had wanted a girl friend for a long time.

    At the time this began, our daughter was also wanting a boyfriend, and needed more financial security. She was vulnerable. She had not had a boyfriend before. She grew up in Asia, not the West, where there is overall still more respect and honour and appreciation for family. He advised her to give up her apartment and put all her belongings into his apartment while he financially ‘advised’ her. Then he paid for her to take three weeks in his mother’s home. It got worse from there.

    She was such a loving, thoughtful, sweet person. We talked often. We helped her to do ballet when we really couldn’t afford it and made personal sacrifices. She knew that her position was miraculously provided. I am devastated and this has affected my entire life. We contacted a lawyer who said the behaviour was ‘frighteningly similar’ to cult behaviour, though it seems like it is a family problem rather than a group.

    A word to those who are anti people who believe in Jesus and call it a cult. People who truly love the Lord do not influence people to cut themselves off from their families like a cult does, or behave in this way to someone else’s parents. So please, don’t anyone write in response to this with negative stuff about that. I am deeply wounded and suffering from what has happened. I am also fighting daily the fear that I will never see my daughter again. I have written loving letters to no avail. In trying to make peace, which is very difficult when someone cuts communication completely, things have only got worse.

    This family seem to be very clever and manipulative. I have never experienced anything like it. To lose a child in this way is like a death, only a living one if that is possible. I have discovered that it is. I would not wish it on anyone, no matter what you believe.

    • I am so sorry to hear this, Michelle. It sounds terrible. I truly hope that your daughter can re-open communication and that she returns to your family.

      • Like Michelle my daughter is in a cult married to the leader and has two children by him … He has isolated her and the children from her blood family and all text only communication is read by him and answers by one or two words what can We do?

      • Dear Derrick,

        That sounds like a very difficult and painful situation. It is most difficult when a loved one is married to a cult leader. They have no life of their own–all correspondence, relationships, and activities are vetted by the cult leader/spouse. There is no magic solution. The best thing to do is stay in contact, even if it is extremely limited. You never know when a kind word, card, or act of service may open your loved one’s heart and eyes to the bondage they are in and to you as a lifeline.

  19. You mention nothing about parent’s unable to contact the child. She has sent the perveriable letter staying she can no longer have any contact with any of us and has ready completely shut out her husband’s family already. I am unable to contact my grand children either. I sent birthday cards recently and I’m sure they will not be allowed to read them. So how do I be patient when she has my grands also seamed up on this. She won’t answer any communication
    My grand son graduates from HS this month and i am not invited. Do I go anyway? He will be the first i don’t see graduate. I completely understand how this cult works and on the letter she listed all of thev terrible things wrong with herself. It makes me sick. She is a very well educated woman and was a teacher for over 20 yrs. How do i communicate to her when sbe wont allow me too? What abt the kids?

    • Dear Brandi,

      If she has already cut off all contact–sent the letter and everything–then you really have very limited options to stay in contact. If you are able to attend your grandson’s high school graduation then you should do so, regardless of what your daughter thinks. I imagine it is a large event with hundreds or thousands of people in attendance. You can go too, and watch from a distance. You don’t have to make a scene. Your grandchildren may reach out to you once they go to college or at least get out of their parents’ house. There is little you can do to change your daughter’s mind–just pray that God opens her eyes sooner rather than later. Most people eventually leave cults, or the cult falls apart eventually. But try to avoid direct confrontation at this point, since your grandchildren may be more inclined to reach out to you if there haven’t been a lot of battles between you and their mother.

      – Steve

  20. Hi Steve
    I appreciate your article. I believe my husband to be in a cult/cultlike church. I can email the name of the church to you, if you wish. I don’t want to say the name, because it is debatable as to whether it is truly a cult and it’s a large church in the US. Several Christian leaders say it’s a cult and several do not. Let me first say, I think there are good aspects of this church and I think there are christians in and among this church.

    I’m a christian and I long to be a member of a church with my husband. So, I started a bible study with his uncle who was raised in this church ( I have 6 more weeks left of the study). While studying, I disagree with their doctrine on about 10 different things, some are minor issues, but some are serious. The reason I’m starting to think it’s a cult, is that in my bible study, I am learning that they consider themselves the remnant church and other protestant churches and the catholic church will have the mark of the beast. Other protestant churches are also considered daughters of the big bad catholic church which are followers of Babylon/Beast/Antichrist.

    My husband has been with this church since before we were married and I wasn’t concerned. I was not in a good place when I got married, I was in rebellion against God. I have since been to the end of myself and repented and trusted in Jesus. So, I wasn’t so mature at thinking through this church issue, then. We now have two small children.

    I go with my husband to church, but I also attend an evangelical church with our two small children, separate from him. As a christian, I need to be in fellowship and hear the preaching of God’s word and grow. I’m grateful my husband is ok with me going also to another church. I tell him, I need MORE and he understands.

    Our home is peaceful. We even have family worship. My husband and I pray together.

    I am very burdened with this. I long for us to be on the same page. But, I am not able to compromise what I think scripture says in order to be a member of his church.

    My husband doesn’t know all that I disagree with his church on. I want to be careful about how to present it to him. I don’t want him to be pushed away and run to the church for further indoctrination. I am going to summarize the bible study I am doing with his uncle the Doctrinal errors I see with scripture references, so that my husband can see I did my homework if it ever comes up. I don’t think I’ll engage his uncle with the differences, he is ready to defend their position.

    I am going to apply what you wrote above to our situation. I would welcome any more feedback you may have for me. I would especially appreciate your prayers.


    • Hi Katie,

      Yes, please do email me the name of the church so I can look through their articles of faith and leadership. You can email me at libertyforcaptives@gmail.com. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Well done. I’ll give you any feedback I have after viewing the church information. And I will pray.

      Grace and peace, Steve

    • I know you are talking about the Seventh-Day Adventist religion. Their leader, Ellen G. White is a false prophet. Their Clear Word Bible, now called a devotional, has her writings in it that change God’s word. It is a cult, it isn’t debatable but a fact. I was in it for a short time but some of my family members are still in it. There are a lot of good articles on-line to learn more. Their Investigative Judgement, and a lot more, is not biblical. Stay with your church.

  21. Dear Steve,
    This article was very informative. I’ve been trying these methods for the last 2 years. My parents are members of a very active christian cult. They’ve cutoff all relationships with friends and family. The cult where they belong has completely brainwashed its members. My dad was a very rational man and my mom was a loving woman, But now our family has turned into a group of individuals who do not connect with each other on anything. My family was my refuge and now its my prison. I dearly love my parents and i want them to know the truth and return to normal life. But things seem to have gone out of hand. With each day their illusions are getting stronger. They are losing their human identity, at the same time turning into cult enablers.
    I feel alone and defeated, I just want my family back. I really doubt if I will be able to cling on to the good times that I had with my family. My own parents are becoming my foes. I have become a stranger in my home.

    Please remember me in your prayers
    May the Lord’s righteousness shine forth!


  22. Steve, A very good friend is in a cult. It is non-Christian. She was raised Christian Scientist and will not see any doctor. She has health issues and relies on this cult leader to scan her aura or whatever and diagnose disease and suggest healing remedies. The man has no medical background, not even alternative or natural medicine or nutrition.
    I have read many things about the cult and its two leaders, a husband and wife team.
    These people fit the cult definition to a tee: 1. They have a weird, paranoid cosmology that only ‘they’ know and understand. 2. Most others are part of a plot to steal your soul. 3. They ask exorbitant amounts of money to join their group and get scanned. 4. They threaten to sue and defame you if you speak out against them. Some ex-members claim they threaten your life and your family if you attempt to leave and speak out against them. 5. They try to separate their members from their professions, family and friends.
    6. They are alleged to have committed tax fraud and sexual abuse (the husband – on both men and women.) 7. The male leader is a convicted fraudster and has spent time in prison for fraud and financial exploitation. Of course, he explains it away saying dark forces were trying to get him.
    What to do? I live 500 miles from my friend and can’t just go see her. I did somewhat cut off contact when I was still working because she would call too late at night and every other word was about the cult leader. It’s like she lost her mind completely. If you don’t like that, she cuts you off. I still email her but never get a reply. I afraid she will lose her life following the weird starvation diet they recommend (3 days a week of nothing but distilled water.) She stands to inherit a substantial amount of money when her mother passes and I afraid she will end up handing it over to the cult.
    I am just really heart sick about this.

    • Dear Mary,

      Forgive my delayed reply. I’ve only been checking my blog infrequently during this season as I write a book, work, and care for my two preschoolers. I agree with your assessment of this group. I recommend reaching out to the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) whose experts can give you specific advice and may be able to coordinate some sort of intervention for your friend. You can find the ICSA website here: http://www.icsahome.com/

      I hope they are able to help your friend.

      Grace and peace, Steve

  23. Hey brother,

    It looks like you have found some practical ways to help those who have been hurt. Something I haven’t seen touched on here yet is deliverance from demons and the demonic ties that manipulation, abuse, and occult practices carry. I have been set free from demons that were linked to occult practice, and a slew of other things, and that was after 8 or 9 years a Christian. Even though I had turned my life over to Jesus, I didn’t dig through all the baggage and hurt I had until these many years later. Throughout those years, I was under some pretty severe demonic control. Just wanted to throw this out there because of its importance and reality in the lives of many. A great book on really a lot of the things you talk about is called Healing through Deliverance by Peter Horrobin.


  24. Hi Steve,

    I was involved with a “christian” cult 3 years ago. They claimed Christianity. They claimed the bible,but they twisted it in the most ugly thing you had ever seen. They manipulated me in all kinds of way. They called themselves prophets. They told me I did not have the Holy spirit. They also said God’s mercy was running out on me. They said people who left normally died. They brainwashed me and really put fear into my heart and mind. I got out, Thank God. I now do not fear the enemy because he has no power, but the power we allow him to have. I now work for a church and my relationship with God is beyond what I can explain. I am writing you because I want to help break people from this bondage, from the lies the enemy has placed in the minds of those involved with cults. I want them to truly experience the love of Christ and what it truly means to have a relationship with Him. There are people still involved with the cult I was involved in, and I want to help them see the Truth! I want to help them see that these are lies from the enemy. I do pray for them. I just want them to wake up and see what God has for them. I appreciate this post. I know that what I went through was the lowest place of my life. Luckily, I had my parents waiting for my call once I woke up from this all, but I am not sure if all have parents/friends to wait for their call or if their families even know. I just want to help in anyway I can. I want to use what God has shown me through all this to show people that there is hope, that there is a way out. What would be your advice on this?


    • Hi Crystal,

      Thank you for sharing some of your story and your journey out of that cult. I am so sorry that you suffered, but am thankful that you got out and now are in a place to want to help others.

      Two groups you might want to contact are the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), and Wellspring Retreat and Counseling Center in Albany, Ohio. Both deal with cults and have conferences and workshops for cult survivors. They may have recommendations for you as to how you can best help other folks who are in cults or are coming out of cults.

      Thanks again for your note. I am always encouraged to hear how God has freed captives!

      Grace and peace, Steve

    • Crystal, you’ll want to be sure that truth is on your side, and to do this, you need to question this: What if every religion is a cult?

      What if you’re still in a cult, and the only way to stop being in a cult is to stop believing in god?

  25. Does anyone know about a church called freedom house and their beliefs I think its occult and my friends daughter went with her uncle and was baptised and is now not allowed to talk to her mother or anyone she knows we need to get her back to her mother…. Her last post was she’s sad angry and pissed off

  26. Does anyone know about a church called freedom house and their beliefs my friends daughter went with her uncle and was baptised and is now not allowed to talk to family or friends last post was she’s sad angry and pissed off I believe it’s some type of occult her uncle took her with him to a retreat in Mexico zipolite his brother told him to take her to keep her away from her mother… They were going to court for sole custody her mother won and the father got his brother to take his daughter with him on the retreat …any information you can give about this church would be awesome thank you truly …blessings to everyone 💗💗💗💗💗

  27. Thank you for this article. Unfortunately I realized too late I made all the possible mistakes you described here when I tried to take my wife out of the Last Reformation. A cult based in Denmark with a guru called Torben Sondergaard. The cult is expanding fast everywhere in the world and especially in the US. Be warned ! These people are evil.

    • Hello, can you please elaborate on your experience with The Last Reformation? One of their teams visited (more like invaded) our church one weekend and now they are moving to my hometown. There’s plenty out there on theological discrepancies, but I definitely feel like there is more to this cult than theological differences. Any information you can provide would be helpful to me as I try to protect my family and friends from this deceptive cult.

  28. My adult son is in a Controlled group/Church/Cult/. So I have heard so much about the pastor. Twist scripture,Controls everyone in this group. Pastor has a business & some work for the pastor. Where would I read about investigating/exposing the pastor/church. Is there any articles anywhere on that? Not interested in intervention. Have read 3 Cult books. Would like to read about what I can do. Yes, I pray for him,Yes,I text him short texts. Yes, I reach out to him. This has & is been a Very Difficult Journey. Help???

  29. can anybody help me free my wife from a cult

  30. I lost my brother to a cult.He has been in it for almost 12yrs.The leader passed away a few years ago.Some members have reconnected with their family.He left with a small number that spun off their own version. I found your site helpful, perhaps it will help our family

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