How To Survive a Cult (and Release a Documentary About It): Holy Hell

Rich Juzwiak · 05/26/16 11:25AM

From 1985 to 2007, Will Allen was part of the Buddhafield—an initially Los Angeles-based “spiritual community” led by one Jaime Gomez aka James Gomez aka Michel Rostand aka Andreas aka Reyji (aka Dirk, the name he used in the porn he shot for Falcon in the ‘70s). Mostly, though, he was referred to as “the Teacher.” The Teacher preached abstinence and transcendence through meditation and other spiritual exercises. His 100+ followers lived together and spent years blissed out on communal joy and engaged by the promise of a state of enlightenment the Teacher referred to as “the knowing.” One former Buddhafield member says that they used to joke that if this was a cult, “at least it was a good cult.”

Inside the 19th-Century Free Love Commune Powered by Electric Sex, Eugenics and Delusions of Immortality

Judy Berman · 05/06/16 10:15AM

John Humphrey Noyes so fervently believed sleeping around could lead to immortality that he convinced 300 people to join him in a utopian socialist community built on that very principle, in upstate New York. As he saw it, promiscuous “interlocked contact” between men and women—in the form of a polyamory scheme he called “Complex Marriage”—would generate enough spiritual energy to propel the human race into some sort of electrically powered, divinely connected eternal life. And that’s only the beginning of the 19th-century Oneida Community founder’s randy theology.

Massaging My Guru

Karen Jonson · 07/08/15 10:00AM

At 5:30 a.m., I decided to leave the prayer hall early and go back to bed.

The Duggar Homeschool Program's Terrifying Advice on Sexual Assault

Jay Hathaway · 05/22/15 05:36PM

Why were evangelical reality star and conservative political activist Josh Duggar’s parents Jim Bob and Michelle so slow to act on the revelation that their eldest son had molested his younger sisters—and, ultimately, so lenient? Documents about sexual abuse from the cult-like homeschooling program the family follows—which focus on public image and lay heavy blame on the victims of assault—may help answer the question.

Audit This: The Most Disturbing Scientology Stories of the Last Decade

Gabrielle Bluestone · 03/30/15 01:00PM

Following the premiere of the damning Scientology documentary Going Clear last night, you may have more questions about the bizarre cult and its recent history. Compiled below are the most insane reports about Scientology from the past ten years.

Meet the Sexy Alien-Worship Cult Behind International Go Topless Day

Andy Cush · 08/27/14 11:00AM

Three days ago in New York City, dozens of bared breasts and half as many women marched from Columbus Circle to Bryant Park, accompanied by a coterie of similarly topless men. The occasion—International Go Topless Day—was marked by eager press coverage in the New York Post and elsewhere. Very little of it mentioned aliens or UFOs—despite the fact that International Go Topless Day was created and is sponsored by one of the world's largest alien-worshipping UFO cults.

Crossfit Is Super Libertarian, Cool

Hamilton Nolan · 10/02/13 03:17PM

Crossfit is an exercise program with pluses and minuses. On the plus side, it really will get you in good shape. On the minus side, its adherents sometimes resemble intolerably intense cultists, and also, it turns out, it's run by extreme libertarians who enjoy sharing pro-capitalist philosophies, to go with your squats.

Two of 'God Hates Fags' Preacher's Granddaughters Have Left the Westboro Baptist Church

Rich Juzwiak · 02/06/13 07:05PM

Twenty-seven-year-old Megan Phelps-Roper and her younger sister Grace have left the infamous Westboro Baptist Church after spending their lives there, the former announced today on Medium in a post called "Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise." Writing briefly but articulately, Megan contextualizes her departure from the church best known for proclaiming "God Hates Fags" and protesting whatever funerals they can muster up a reason to spray with their bile.

Tom Cruise's Slave-Powered Scientology Birthday Party

Maureen O'Connor · 12/01/11 05:50PM

As a member of the Church of Scientology, Valeska Paris says she lived on the organization's religious cruise ship Freewinds for twelve years, working as a Sea Org manual laborer from the age of 18. Among her tasks: Preparing for Tom Cruise's 42nd birthday party, which Freewinds hosted. Above, Tom hamming it up with singer Stacy Francis at the party.

FBI Arrests 7 For Amish-Shearing Hate Crimes

Seth Abramovitch · 11/24/11 12:28AM

The Amish beard-theft ring whose crimes shocked the world last October is now in police custody after the FBI raided their Ohio compound and arrested seven men in connection with the attacks. Hate crime charges have been filed.