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Posted inTrue Story

Approach, flatter, seduce, trap: That time a woman tried to lure me into a cult

Reading Time: 6 minutes I don’t remember her actual name—let’s go with Moonflower. She told me I was pretty and asked if I’d ever modeled, then motioned over to an older gentleman seated nearby. He owned a modeling agency, she said, slipping me his business card in case I was “interested.” Mr. Modeling Agency smiled and waved from his table.

I was intrigued—but not for the reasons you might think.

Posted inSatire

Oops! Everything you love funds a cult!

Reading Time: 3 minutes As it turns out, quite a few businesses just happen to funnel your money from innocuous purchases into horrifying, sexually abusive cults. If you’re reading this, you may be sipping on a warm tea. If that tea is a Yogi tea, immediately toss it to the floor with disdain. The parent company that owns Yogi […]

Posted inFilm/TV

 ‘Scientology, The Aftermath’: A reminder that ‘religious freedom’ can be dangerous

Reading Time: 7 minutes After I recently finished watching the Emmy-winning 2016-2019 A&E docuseries, “Leah Remini: Scientology and The Aftermath,” I was further convinced of how supremely dangerous the concept of “religious freedom” can be as practiced in America, as I stressed in my 2018 book, Holy Smoke: How Christianity Smothered the True American Dream. And expensive. Remini’s series […]

Posted inPolitics

Rep. Jamie Raskin: Some members of House act more like ‘a religious cult’

Reading Time: 2 minutes During a discussion at an April 21 event at Georgetown University in Washington DC titled “Truth and Trauma: The Trials of American Democracy and Personal Tragedy,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, a humanist and a member of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, claimed that some Republican House members are “acting much more like members of a religious cult.” […]

Posted inCulture

Yahoo boys, money rituals, and the magic of desperation

Reading Time: 6 minutes Yahoo boys, babalawos, money rituals. If these terms don’t already mean anything to you, brace yourself—we’re venturing into hard territory. Nigeria is a West African country with two-thirds of the US population packed into less than a tenth of the territory. And there, in recent months, a perennial cycle of violent rituals thought to bring […]

Posted inUncategorized

Counting the (False) Costs of My Teen Zealotry

Reading Time: 8 minutes As we reviewed evangelist Greg Stier’s three totally-surefire teen evangelism strategies, many of us got angry and saddened — because we’d been exactly the teens he’d have considered major successes. For many of us, though, his strategies caused us only immeasurable grief — first and foremost because evangelists lie freely about exactly what the costs are that we should be counting. Today, I’ll be counting the costs of the zealotry that Greg Stier desperately wants to push onto unwitting evangelical teens. 

Posted inReligion

How the Satanic Panic Hurt My Friend in the 1980s

Reading Time: 12 minutes Big David was larger than life. He had beautiful crystal-blue aquamarine eyes that seemed to look into forever and a strong voice made for public speaking. Tall and lanky, with black hair and pale skin liberally dotted with freckles, he looked like a country boy. He needed to be wearing denim overalls and a well-loved straw hat and carrying a homemade wooden fishin’ pole.

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