Samuel Stefan was 19 when he joined a tiny religious group. He was asking a young idealist’s typical questions about life, the universe and everything, and felt that the group could provide the answers. After ten years, he found himself in the dead of night, in a forest, surrounded by fellow believers, who had been ordered to punish him. He chose to escape.
This poignant documentary follows his three-year journey to understand his experience. Stefan talks to ex-members and cult experts and attends a conference where Jill Mytton and her two brothers, who were members of the Exclusive Brethren, meet for the first time in 48 years.
Celeste Jones, who grew up in the Children of God and co-authored Not Without My Sister appears, along with Amoreena Winkler from the same dreadful group. Lea Saskia Laasner speaks of her childhood of abuse in the Janus Project. Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey speak of ‘hair-readings’ in the Gentle Wind Project.
The experts are Betty Sue Flowers, Benjamin Zablocki, Bertram Raven and Jill Mytton. This is a good introduction to some of the behaviors common to totalist groups.
What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you seen “Cult Witness?” Do you have a story about recovery from a high-pressure group that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!