Poll: If all your friends were in a cult, would you leave?
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Yes
66.67%
4 66.67%
No
16.67%
1 16.67%
I'd be in it, but mentally checked out
0%
0 0%
Run away!
16.67%
1 16.67%
Total 6 vote(s) 100%
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Life in a Cult
#1
Question 
How does one come to terms with the fact that one has spent their entire life, as well as as all their families, ancestors of 5+ generations, and all their friends and almost all acquaintances have dedicated their lives to a cult? 

Basically, I am asking what you would do and how you would change your life and social interactions accordingly if you discovered that you had spent almost your entire life in a cult, the majority of your friends and family have as well, and 5+ generations in your family did as well, sacrificing all their time, energy, possessions, and even lives to it? How would you go about starting over and making new friends? How would you deal with 2 roommates who are members of said cult? How would you deal with the ostracism of family and former friends. and how would you go about dealing with it psychologically? How would you deal with friends and family contacting you and persistent trying to get you to come back using all types of coercion? 

I am genuinely interested in your responses. Asking for a friend.
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#2
I think those responses will hardly be helpful. The situation for you, emotionally, is more delicate. Everyone has different levels of dependency in regards to family and socialization.
It's OK to think about leaving, it's also OK to feel scared -- whatever you choose, there'll be positive and negative consequences.

You need to ask yourself how important this is for you. How important is it for you to have your family close and in good terms? How important is it for you to have friends with similar life experiences? Can you take the pressure? Would you stand your ground and demand the respect you think you deserve from the people that won't accept your choice?

It might sound big, but starting over would be the easy part during this whole thing. You need to make sure you can and will want to get to that point first.
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"Being young and dipped in folly, I fell in love with melancholy"
-Edgar A. Poe
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#3
I'd run the hell away, but never been brought up in a such and environment, or known anyone in a cult, or could even remotely imagine what it would be like, it's easy to say run away. I'd say if this friend of yours has you as a friend then they are off to a start at least with having a friend who isn't in a cult. But other than that I really wouldn't know what to say, maybe this friend of yours should seek some kind of counseling that helps people reintegrate back into society?
_______________________________________________________________________
Sickos never scare me. Least they're committed.  
Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!

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#4
What kind of cult are we talking about here? Is there abuse of any kind? Not all cults are created equally and while I don't generally care for a cult of any kind, there are major differences between them, depending on what goes on in them. For example, some say the Amish are a cult.

If there is any kind of abuse, no matter how small, I would run, fast. If your friend is unhappy, get out.
Friends can always be made, no matter what the circumstances are, you just need to put yourself out there and meet other people. Clubs (hobby type clubs, not night clubs, although, you can meet people there too), volunteering, support groups, etc etc.
Would your friend be staying with the roommates after getting out or is that a matter of "how to tell them I'm leaving"? I would just tell them the truth. If they are scared, just make an excuse or just leave with no excuses. They need to have the willpower to leave and stick to it. If they are worried about being forced back in, just disappear, new phone, new city, things like that. If the family really cares about your friend, they will find a way to accept their decision.
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#5
They would need a good support network to try to help them through it. There are almost certainly groups of other survivors or defectors that have set up some kind of support system to help others get out and transition to life outside of said cult. I would try to find those people and reach out for help.
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#6
Depends on several things, what the cult is, level of ostracisation, etc. But, and this being a personal experience of mine as well, definite run away.
Beyond friends and family and all the fallout might ensue, you have a responsibility in life to take care of yourself. Yyou only get one shot at life. Make sure you try to have as much hapiness as you can and if that means running...you run.
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#7
Thank you for your replies, guys. I guess that it is pretty obvious that my friend is me. I have in fact reached out to a support groups online on reddit and discord, and I did meet a group of local of exes last Monday, which was one of the best days of my life. The cult is a fringe religion with probably about 5 million members, even though they claim 16 million. It seems very normal, but being in it has damaged me psychologically. I've self harmed, attempted suicide more times than i can keep track of, and have given up so much time, energy, and money to it. 

In fact, I looked it up and in the past 10 years alone, i have donated $7,144.47 to it out of peer pressure and worthiness requirements. It's a very wealthy church, with assets in excess of 32 billion, according to some leaked documents, and they own a ton of real estate - they own the most land in the state of Florida - and it makes me cry to think that the leaders get stipends of about $300,000.00 while their homes, insurance, cars, and everything else is subsidized, children and grandchildren get free tuition, college housing, and books, and they travel on private planes, while  dirt poor members in places like Ghana are scraping by to pay 10% of their income to it and walking miles to go to church, and they still demand more from the members, while we clean the church and the temple every couple of months for free, and pay for our missions out of pocket. 

I'm sure you guys have figured out what church it is, but anyway, my entire worldview and everything has been shattered recently, and I am not quite financially independent as I still have debt from a student loan and have health things to pay for and am worried about being hospitalized for another nervous breakdown which would put me on my parents' doorstep again, which would lead them to guilting me back in again, and then I would have to pay back tithing for all the time i was out, and try and fit into the mold again, and all of it scares me. 

I am saving money to go to law school, and I hope that I can make it on my own. Some of you may not think it is a cult, but in my position, it is hell for me to participate in it. The roommates are probably ok with me living my life, I just worry since the local ward might try and harrass me about coming back because they know where I live. It's all very complicated, and it is not so easy to just run. Anyway, thank you guys for your support.
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#8
If it the group I am thinking of please be careful. I have known a man for 37 years. At 30 when he left. He was harrassed, followed, cut off from his family and friends, weirdly suddenly made redundant. He is doing really well now, he moved to a different town still local though, he got a new job, made new friends and met a lovely woman whom he married. Not one family member answered his wedding invitation. He goes to counselling once a month, and is quite active in a group of exes to support others who wish to leave. I wish you luck.
I do not need light at the end of the tunnel.  I will light it myself.
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#9
You are an awesome lady, kid. You'll make it. even though you might not always have it, I got faith in you and the power of Good. Dont need books to believe in that ;-) You need help, drop a line.
xox
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#10
I grew up in a family that started a local church in our living room.  It eventually became an established local church - my parents were in the inner circle of leadership my entire childhood and into my young adult years. I had many friends and my social network and support system tied to this place for obvious reasons.  The church was always my parent's priority - and their friends from there.  We siblings nicknamed the "prayer line" as the gossip line, this joke name spread throughout the youth of the church.  As a socially awkward child and teen, I found it frustrating growing up in that environment, to find myself and answers to all of my problems. Prayer didn't help, yet one man in that entire history, his name is John, lived his life right.  He was my mentor, and primary male role model and I used his lifestyle as a template for my own personal reform. My new wife has met him, and knowing my story of personal reforms, paid close attention to him.  In private, she told me, "I see alot of him in you., you really ought to tell him." So at my wedding in April, I was delighted to see him there supporting me.  I pulled him aside, and told him how much of an influence he was. He hugged me, and thanked me.

Back to the main subject here, I found religion - this church in particularly, cultish. The inner circle was cliquey, they were hard on single adults and watched them like a hawk if they decided to start dating. They controlled the poor, the "benevolence fund" was a church welfare program, and it allowed church leaders access to the (usually single mom's) home and for a small amount of money, control. The youth and teens were heavily controlled, the seniors,  the inner circle was very conditional - thus those people were controlled. Hell, there were 8 pedophiles in the church, a few were key members and leaders, and when they were caught, the police were NOT called, church leadership counseled them. Luckily I was never a victim, at that time of my life (and the era), I couldn't comprehend child molesting. It just wasn't really talked about openly. However, this practice of sweeping it under the carpet, once these dirty secrets were coming out, started the process of the church splitting - long story.  At 15 I was kicked out of my home, lived on the streets for awhile, moved in with one of the church family's for a few months, then was shipped off to a bible school - for a few years. I lived there, and completed my high schooling, had some bible schooling, and that place is a story and adventure in itself.  That bible school was a cult, a community of in grown religious people who all lived on the campus in the mountains.

I walked away from church and religion in my 20's and began exploring new spirituality.  The longer I was away, them more of a birds-eye view I began to acquire about how off, and how controlled my life was.  Hell, I still am doing damage control with some residual guilt for walking away.  About 3 years ago, before I started dating my now wife, I began to get bored with my solitude non social life.  My daily routines involved work, walking the dog, bike rides, hikes, and puttering around the house. My primary social outlet was the occasional dates I would go on courtesy of online dating. (another story)  Peaceful, yes - but I needed something else. I had given up my community youth program because I didn't have a female partner helping me anymore. (My girlfriend of 3 years broke up with me, prior to her, my ex wife had assisted so I always had a female helper to work with or counsel female members)  I felt I wanted to get involved in maybe charity work - and the fastest way I knew was to attend a church with a food ministry.  So, I went online and looked up an inner city church in a community nearby, 18 miles away, to start attending and maybe get involved.   The very first meeting I went to, I realized I no longer fit in, or could just sit through these services where I didn't agree. Everyone was so judgmental of the world. The pastor met with me, we had a very good conversation, and I could tell he wanted to use me there in some way.  I told him I was interested in maybe helping in their food program, so he introduced me to the driver and a woman who were involved.  It never went anywhere after that.  The two following meetings I went to, I left early, angry and annoyed.  The last one happened right after the passage of the marriage equality act... That pastor started a give and take forum after the sermon, about his feelings about congress passing that bill.  People began to stand up, egging each other on, about the gays, and how the wildfires out west were god's judgement on this country for the passage of that bill.  Now I'm not a big rainbow-flag waving man. I am however, big on equal rights and against bigotry.  Here were a bunch of fucking bigots - getting each other worked up into almost a lynch mob. I almost stood up and became the counter voice except, this was their forum, their right to free speech. So I left and never returned.  The pastor contacted me weeks later, asking if something happened to cause me to not return.  I told him.

I have probably 5 more stories, maybe more, just as long if not longer to support my feeling that most churches are cults.  Anytime a place controls your life both public and private, brings you guilt and fear, this place is a cult.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a religious group either.
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