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Let's Talk About Sects

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Season 6, Ep. 46

Harry Palmer created Avatar after his presidency of the Church of Scientology's Elmira Mission ended in the mid-1980s, as a result of legal proceedings around trademark infringement. Avatar says that it aims to create an 'enlightened planetary consciousness' or EPC through its courses, which are expensive and numerous. Former students say they have been left with massive debts as a result of their attendance.


Full research sources listed here. You can support us on Patreon or Acast+, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now, and you can order Joe Gould's LTAS soundtrack album here.

 

With thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 6 of Let's Talk About Sects. Head here to enter our competition to win a pair of ATH-SQ1TW Wireless Earbuds!


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  • Cult Information and Family Support with Tore Klevjer

    46:33
    Tore Klevjer has been involved with the volunteer charity organisation Cult Information and Family Support (CIFS) since its very formation almost three decades ago, in 1996. Avid listeners of this podcast will know that the end of every episode mentions CIFS. We’re lucky in Australia to have this incredibly dedicated group of volunteers who support those impacted by cults and offer a variety of assistance to both former members and the loved ones of those affected. Find out what CIFS does, what it sees as the biggest obstacles facing leavers, how to support its work, and what drives Tore to keep at it after all these years.Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or with a one-off donation or merch purchase.Links:Cult Information and Family Support — official websiteStarting Out in Mainstream America — by Livia Bardin (available for free online via the ICSA)With thanks to our episode sponsor, The Finance and Property Survival Guide podcast. If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, you can find support with or donate to Cult Information and Family Support if you’re in Australia, or with the International Cultic Studies Association.If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention website.
  • Escaping Twin Flames with Cecilia Peck & Inbal B. Lessner

    58:31
    Cecilia Peck and Inbal B. Lessner are the director/producer/editor team behind the award-winning Escaping Twin Flames, a three-part documentary series for Netflix about Twin Flames Universe – a cult you may remember from season 5. This powerhouse duo has turned their talents to investigating high-control groups over their last couple of projects, with Cecilia and Inbal also behind the Starz series Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. Their filmmaking takes a trauma-informed approach with deep care for its subjects, and they share more about this as well as what they found out about Twin Flames for this interview episode.Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or with a one-off donation.Links:Escaping Twin Flames — Netflix, 2023What "Escaping Twin Flames" teaches us about the anti-trans nature of a supposedly loving cult — by Melanie McFarland, Salon, 11 November 2023Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult — website for the docuseries including resources for cult survivors and loved onesBrave Miss World — website for the documentary film where rape survivors can also share their storiesThis YouTube School Promised True Love. Students Say They Got Exploited Instead — by Sarah Berman, VICE, 6 February 2020Accused Cult Leader Threatened Ex-Members After VICE Investigation — by Sarah Berman, VICE, 12 March 2020Cecilia Peck's Instagram, X, Facebook and LinkedInWith thanks to our episode sponsor, The Finance and Property Survival Guide podcast. If you've been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, head to Cult Information and Family Support or the International Cultic Studies Association.If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention website.
  • 48. Interview Episode: LGATs with John Hunter PhD

    01:34:28
    For his 2017 PhD, John Hunter put forward a hypothesis that offers insights into both the “transformational” experiences associated with large group awareness training (LGAT) participation and the common claims of psychological harm and problematic behaviour associated with participation. Dr Hunter presented his work at the 2023 International Cultic Studies Association conference, and for this episode, he breaks down some of his findings – including where LGATs may or may not intersect with cults and cult-like behaviour.Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or with a one-off donation. Links:John Hunter PhD websiteStress-induced hypomania in healthy participants: the allostatic “manic-defence hypothesis” — Dr John Hunter’s 2017 PhD DissertationRational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (Dr Albert Ellis)Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (Dr Aaron T. Beck)Robert J. Lifton’s Eight Criteria for Thought ReformThe Book of est — Kirkus Reviews'We're Gonna Tear You Down and Put You Back Together" — by Mark Brewer, Psychology Today, August 1975Mindbreakers — by Roland Howard, The Daily Mail, 23 July 2001Cults in Our Midst — by Margaret Singer, 1995Psychiatric disturbances associated with Erhard Seminars Training — by L. L. Glass, M. A. Kirsch & F. N. Parris, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1977Psychological effects of participation in a large group awareness training — by Fisher, J. D., Silver, R. C., Chinsky, J. M., Goff, B., Klar, Y., & Zagieboylo, C., Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1989The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion — by Richard E. Petty & John T. Cacioppo, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology Vol 19, 1986Thinking, Fast and Slow — by Daniel Kahneman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping — Fishbowl Films, 2024
  • Message from Sarah

    05:25
    A little update from Sarah about what to expect with Let's Talk About Sects now that we're winding up the sixth season of the show. Don't worry, we're not going anywhere! But there are a few small changes to make sure that this project remains sustainable.Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/ltaspodhttps://www.ltaspod.com/supporters
  • 7. The Retreat: a Divine Madness Update

    01:34:25
    In the last episode of season 5, we looked into a Boulder, Colorado community then known as Divine Madness and led by Marc Tizer, usually referred to as 'Yo'. Its members were recognised for some amazing results in ultramarathons. At the time of researching that episode, updates about the current status of the group were hard to come by.Deru Youmans came across a listing for 'The Retreat' in the Gila National Forest on the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) website, and it sounded amazing. Their recent experience in this remote community had them very concerned for others who might come across a similar listing in the future.Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now. Thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 6 of Let's Talk About Sects. Links:Teachings of Value — website for The Retreat and other current activities of Marc Tizer's group once known as Divine MadnessScenic, secluded farm in the Gila National Forest — WWOOF listing for The RetreatInner Journeys Wilderness Camps — Summer overnight camps for girls at The RetreatHighland Intentional Community — Foundation for Intentional Community listing for the group's Boulder, Colorado farmA Running Club Is 100 Miles Outside of the Mainstream — by Jere Longman, The New York Times, 28 July 1997
  • Interview Episode: The Troubled Teen Industry with Emma Lehman

    35:45
    Journalist Emma Lehman is the creator of the independent podcast Gooned, which dives into the Troubled Teen Industry or TTI – a network of for-profit congregate care facilities for youth ranging from wilderness programs to therapeutic boarding schools. In the podcast, Emma interviews survivors, parents, staff members, experts and activists.Across the USA, young people are funnelled into this $23 billion industry not only by their caregivers but by government agencies. While these places advertise themselves as solutions to everything from troublesome conduct to mental illness, Emma shares through Gooned that they are ground zero for emotional, physical, and psychological abuse with lasting traumatic impacts on the teens they say they serve. And a number of the dubious and damaging methods many of them use can draw a straight line to a cult.Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or Acast+, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now. Thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 6 of Let's Talk About Sects. Links:Gooned — podcast, website and TikTokUnsilenced — US non profit organisation that serves past, present, and future victims of institutional child abuseEmma Lehman — Emma's website where you can find out more about her work
  • Interview Episode: Thomas Parsons

    01:15:57
    Thomas Parsons joined the Twelve Tribes community in Hiddenite, North Carolina in April 2019, and left in November 2021. With Hiddenite being the unofficial headquarters of the organisation, he had direct contact with a number of senior leaders of the Tribes. Following last week’s live episode release, this conversation with Thomas provides an interesting insight into some of the more recent developments in the communities, as well as a more recent personal experience there.Full research sources listed here. You can support us on Patreon or Acast+, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now. Thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 6 of Let's Talk About Sects. Use promo code LTAS10 at Audio-Technica’s Australian store for 10% off and to support the show! Links:The Twelve Tribes LTAS episode page with a full list of resources is hereCult Information and Family Support (CIFS) — Australian volunteer-run support serviceICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) — cult info since 1979
  • 45. Woodford Folk Festival Live Show: The Twelve Tribes

    01:15:22
    This episode was recorded live at Woodford Folk Festival on 1 January 2024. Many people in the audience would have come across the Twelve Tribes previously at that very festival, as they used to build a big Common Ground cafe by the lake where tens of thousands of festival-goers ate and drank over the years.Numerous wonderful people have devoted themselves to the communities and the lifestyle of the Twelve Tribes. Thousands of fantastic individuals and families are truly dedicated to a way of life that in certain respects has a lot to offer. Their positive experiences, however, don’t negate the stories of those who have come out with less positive things to say. And it’s important to understand why there have been numerous stories with similar themes of harm that have come out of this group over the decades since they formed.Full research sources listed here. You can support us on Patreon or Acast+, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now.Links:The Restoration of All Things — a history on the Twelve Tribes’ official website, dated 14 January 2021Our Child Training Manual — Twelve Tribes text, 2000Châm: The Proverbial Lesson to the Whole World — Twelve Tribes teaching, 19 March 2005Châm and Servitude — Twelve Tribes teaching, 19 March 1991Homosexuals and Lesbians — Twelve Tribes teaching, 3 July 1990Lying — Twelve Tribes teaching, 29 November 1998Twelve Tribes Teachings — links to teachings not meant for the public, compiled by the Question 12 Tribes blog, 1977-2008Taking Moral Responsibility for Your Children (An Introduction to Effective and Defective Parenting) — Twelve Tribes teaching, 8 July 2004Children of the Tribes — by Julia Scheeres, Pacific Standard Magazine, 1 September 2015“They are evil”: Ex-Twelve Tribes members describe child abuse, control inside religious cult — by Shelly Bradbury, The Denver Post, 3 March 2022