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I’m a 20 something living in North Carolina. I have few family connections and a small group of friends. I feel betrayed by society and the generation before me. I have issues with the traditional church, and I currently live below the poverty level in the U.S.

I am a prime recruit for a cult.

Cults have been around as long as time but are hardly talked about seriously. Often times when I think of cults on the public conscious I think of movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Where dozens of crazed, sweaty, shirtless men sacrifice people to their volcano god.

Or a movie like The Wicker Man starring Nicholas Cage. Where a man goes to a remote countryside village to investigate the disappearance of his ex-fiance and her daughter. Only to be captured himself and sacrificed by the local cult to restore the town’s honey-based economy.

Both examples are both pretty outlandish and obviously fiction. When the movie is over, you can turn to your friend and mimic Nicholas Cage’s yelling “BEES!” at the end of The Wicker Man, and move on with your life.

But cults don’t only live in fiction. They are very real and have ruined thousands of lives. The scary thing is, they don’t always start so outlandish like human sacrifice. To begin with, a member of a cult or even a cult leader looks no different than you or me.

The biggest mistake you can make is thinking you’re too smart to fall for it.

We as human being need to believe in something to be healthy. Something that we hold higher than ourselves that we either hold as an example to live up to or a moral code.

The obvious answer you can draw up is religion.

I am not a psychologist and don’t pretend to be one on the internet. However, it is in this writer’s opinion that there is nothing wrong with religion as a whole as long as you:

A) aren’t hurting yourself and

B) aren’t harming others

Some others find that belief in celebrities, art, or even seek the source of their higher belief in their great disbelief of said higher power.

Or, they could find it in a charismatic cult leader.

We have seen multiple examples of this even in recent history.

As you can see, this isn’t an idea that lives strictly in scary movies. Cults have existed and still exist today.

Cults tend to, but not exclusively, target young, disenfranchised, frustrated, lonely people who often times have little money. Considering the current political climate and general unrest by people of today seems like now is a prime breeding ground for a new generation of cults.

For someone to rise up and promise all the angry people that they have all the answers and to just listen to them. That if they follow this person blindly, they will be taken care of. Potential cult members are promised certainty in an uncertain time.

No one is to smart to fall for it and, as you saw earlier, it can happen anywhere.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to ask questions and arm yourself with knowledge.

8 telltale signs you are in a cult

1. Questions are discouraged.

You are to believe what you are told and if not you are dishonoring god.

2. A general distrust of the outside world.

You are asked to believe and stick with what the group has approved and deemed ‘truthful’ or ‘holy.’

3. The leader has total authority over all

There are no checks and balances in the organization. The leader is seen as the highest and wisest power if not a god.

4. Shame

You are, and never will be, considered good enough for anything.

5. Zero Transparency

There is no communication about the comings and goings of tithes or donations. Often times the leader is living in luxury while his flock suffers.

6. You are asked to give the group everything

More than just emotionally but time, money and possessions. In some cases, members are even asked to give up family members and spouses to the cult.

7. Former members are always disgraced

Members who have decided to leave are always viewed negativity, and their criticisms of the organization are thrown out. There is never a legitimate reason to quit.

8. You are never to bring shame to the family unit

You exist to serve the cult. Doing something against the cult’s rules or criticizing the group is deemed unforgivable.

In Conclusion

No one is immune to this plague on humanity. Cults are not to be considered a joke and often prey on those who see themselves above such traps.

Often times cults target young, disenfranchised, frustrated, lonely people who often times have little money. It’s worth saying it doesn’t stop there. Many wealthy people even politicians have fallen victim to cults.

We all crave to a part of something bigger and to believe in something. That is normal and healthy. The best thing to do is to ask questions and arm yourself with knowledge.

Organized religions or groups that welcome criticism, questions and offer transparency do exist and are fine to be a part of as long as you are not asked to hurt yourself or others.

If you find this topic interesting, I encourage you to check out my sources provided. There are a variety of online resources and courses taught by professionals that do a deep dive into the early signs of indoctrination and the dangers of ‘group think.’

Stay safe out there everyone and here’s to hoping cults will someday only be a topic in movies instead of reality.

Sources:

CultEducation.com – Warning Signs

The Atlantic – Signs You’re in a Cult

Medium – Signs You’re Probably in a Cult

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