How Dangerous are Cults?

Are religious cults dangerous in this 21st Century? I asked 90 ex-cult members for their views. 90/90 said yes. Here is a compilation of why they said they were dangerous:

(All remain anonymous to protect any family members they have who are still in the cult.)

"Dangerous? How dangerous is a religious group of people that have power to separate families, by putting them in fear if they should have normal family relationship with their loved ones who have left the group?

Imagine not being able to see your loved ones ever again. Such groups are lethal and a desease to society.

Yes, those groups are very dangerous."

"Teaching you to trust the people around you more than your own critical thinking and intuition."

"Blindly believing anything they said for us to do."

The purposeful isolating of people from their support relationships.

Shunning of family.

That they take away all natural affection for your family and friends so that they will think nothing of cutting you out of their lives if you leave.

You weren’t allowed to question anything.

We had to have to-go bags and go wherever we were directed to go. Doesn’t that give off a Jim Jones/Jonestown vibe?

The most dangerous phase I experience was (Reverse psychology) they make us think that life was bad at first and if we do wrong we'll go there and face the worst.
Arhh now I don't care,I'd like it this way,come doomsday I'd be wearing shades and singing to the grave.
A cults spreads propaganda and fear amoungst people, and hatred at Large

Unable to think for yourself.

Cutting off family members that leave and being brainwashed into thinking they are the only true Christians.

I would say it is the Brainwashing, the totalitarian control and oppression from cradle to grave.
Being deprived of many normal life experiences including normal education & career choices and opportunities. For me this has left behind a deep seated sense of loss and grief, a feeling that I had my childhood and teenage years
stolen from me. I don’t allow this to control my mind, but it just hovers in the subconscious and re-emerges from time to time, usually mixed up within the nightmares. The misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
Personally I was affected by three suicides, two caused by EB torture, isolation and lack of mental health support from within the cult. The deliberate splitting up of families which has been used as the punishment weapon of choice for as far back in the history of the ebs as I can remember and still is today as it causes victims the most pain.
There is no place for individual opinion or thought.

Robotic behavior and characteristics

Cults damage your psyche the way any traumatic event brought on by a controlling perpetrator (like rape or child molestation) does, which makes it harder to make good decisions for the rest of your life. You can (make good decisions) but it take a lot of work to get out of that bad place the cult put you.

Too many to count, the worst, watching my mom die from no blood transfusion and feeling helpless that I could do nothing because my dad was an elder and the room was swarming with elders to make sure he would not cave. I hope no one has to see anything like this.

You obey men as rulers rather than God as directed in Scripture.

Restriction from education (both formal and informal).

People die following orders.

From my perspective, I have observed two suicides that can be directly attributed to the Brethren's cruel and inhumane disciplinary methods.

On a personal level, I witnessed my mother suffer a nervous breakdown as a result of having to separate from my father during the Seven Day Matters.

Being totally controlled, I still have a problem with that and have been out 47 years. I believe in obeying laws, but the feeling of having no control over myself sends me into a tailspin.

They strip you of everything that is who you are.

The most dangerous part of any religious cult is it's misuse and misapplication of scripture. None of the stupid rules matter, but any requirements added to a belief and trust in 1 Cor 15:1-4 are not applicable to the Body of Christ and are the cause of all religious differences, largely brought about by following the teachings of a man/denomination.

Sadly this does not just apply to cults but to almost every church.

Isolation from living a full life.

Being told you are going to go to hell by your own parents if you don't believe the same as them. Also listening to your mother tell your youngest brother you are the devil while trying to move away from a cult.

It's a tightly-knit, highly-structured box of lies, deception and manipulation. They get total control of your mind and slither their way into every crevice of your life. And your body follows.

Cutting off family members and being brainwashed

I was born into / part of The Exclusive Plymouth Brethren from 1947-1971 and the most dangerous thing was the lack of individual thinking in that everybody was trained to act as sheep. The result being, on exiting the cult, either voluntarily or involuntarily, there is an absolute vacuum where people have nothing .......

You’re never good enough.

Of course cults are dangerous. From my experience both the sexual abuse and disfellowshipping. I was lucky to have a support system outside of the organization, a lot of people aren't so lucky and have to try to navigate the real world on their own and I can't even imagine how lost I would be if I was in that situation.

I was born into / part of The Exclusive Plymouth Brethren from 1947-1971 and the most dangerous thing was the lack of individual thinking in that everybody was trained to act as sheep. The result being, on exiting the cult, either voluntarily or involuntarily, there is an absolute vacuum where people have nothing .......


Us and them mentality.

Unbiblical beliefs or practices.

Yes I agree, death was a pretty awful price to pay for membership,and not just your own death, that of your children too. I weep to think that I may have sacrificed one of my beautiful children for what ? a Cult that teaches nothing but falsehood !

Basically all of it.

Teaching that Jesus is NOT our Mediator

Cults make you think you are different and better then other people. Hive mind.

Most dangerous aspect? I'd say the outward plausibility.
In the case of the Jehovah's Witnesses that I have had experience of:

1. Smart, clean image
2. Boundless zeal
3. Much self-evident truth mingled with error
4. Very exclusive

My husband says the most terrible thing is that it destroys families. I made a reply, but the most terrible thing is that they block the way into the Kingdom of God, by replacing Christ as the mediator between God and men.

The brainwashing and indoctrination is the most dangerous.

One big thing you can never leave.

Bishop interviews as a child through my teens till I was 27. Rules if you don’t abide by them you won’t be with God and Jesus in the celestial kingdom. Abuse control fear shame guilt bishops court. You are made to feel guilty because you weren’t perfect as God you were told what to wear for church you weren’t allowed to drink or drink tea and coffee I've felt guilt shame all my life because of the Mormon church that I was never good enough and I had to abide all these rules to have a relationship with God.

Knowing or not knowing the control they slowly get over your life .

The brainwash song book.
The one creepy chorus that always stuck in my head and I still can't shake:
"we're Jehovah's Witnesses, we're the kindest afterall"

The brainwashing involved.

Mind control to the point where you can’t trust your own intuition and make life choices on what other people think rather than doing what is true for you. I wanted to be a dancer my whole life from the time I was very young. It was mentally and emotionally beaten out of me on so many levels.

That I was taught that so many people are 'lesser than me'. It leads to heinous attitudes.

The power of manipulation.

For me it was the radicalization of the members and myself inside of Daesh/ISIL. There was a blatant disregard for members outside the cult, and killing or converting them was considered a necessity. On the inside, we were all told, and believed that dying for the cause was a glorious thing, and that we would be rewarded in the afterlife.

What is dangerous was that they stop you from thinking for yourself everything you do is based on what those at the top say, your not supposed to inquire or read any other form of literature from any other faiths lest it be a stumbling block.

Seeing 18 yr old young ladies marrying late 40 men.

Women are second class citizens. You have a predefined role and that's your lot.

Restriction of lifesaving medical care(blood transfusions);
Lovebombing/implanting fear & phobias--psychological manipulation; social restrictions labeling anyone outside the cult as dangerous & unfit association--us vs.them mentality; demonizing critical thinking--forbidding the examination opposing viewpoints; suppression of reporting domestic violence and all forms of child abuse; not seeking justice & professional care for victims of abuse and those with mental illnesses; social isolation & shunning; treating women as nothing but servants, sex objects, & baby making machines.

Brainwashing - before you have your own mind

They discourage you from thinking for yourself.

Not being able to get a blood transfusion if I needed one to save my life, for starters...

The rise of Feminazism within them.

Ask any former member of Heavens Gate or Jonestown!

They are so puffed up on their power and “knowledge” they ignore the suffering of their weakest, the children, thumbs down on their women to push their patriarchal orders, demanding sacrifice and moneys from those who cannot do it, looking down on the poor, not accepting changes needed. All serious moral infractions are known by them and teach the suffering “is for their learning and growth “ without taking measures against those who continue doing wrong.

Groupthink and sacrificing your own morals in favor of the group.

Fear mongering.

Brainwashed and not even knowing it! The Mental Control they have on you if you let them!

They can serve poison kool aid.., untruths, control your life, and say God told them to do it

Can’t be yourself!

The brainwashing involved.

Having to die or let your children die if you or they need a transfusion or you get removed and shunned if you choose to live or allow your children to live.

High risk of suicide

Mental illness

Being raped or molested, being told not to report it, having to forgive assaulter, being shunned for going to the police. The rapist is either not shunned due to not having a witness to the assault,or confessing, and being let back into the congregation into a position of power when they return.

The children are blamed for seducing them.

In summarised summary, the breach of GOD given Freedom.

Freedom to;
- choose
- think
- research & explore
- be whom GOD created one to be

They'll get your money, make you work for them for free and brainwash you.

The control they have over people is what makes them dangerous.

For me it was the no blood transfusion rule . So if somebody’s life depended on a blood transfusion you had to refuse it and “rely on jehovah” ? Needless to say, the religion was jehovahs witnesses . Also , the fact that they tell you to shun or cut off your family or friends if they stop attending meetings or get disfellowshipped . That’s caused a lot of depression and suicide.

Mind control.

The rapist/molester can't be shunned due to not having two 'reputable' witnesses (baptized into the cult and in good standing) but you can be shunned on circumstantial evidence that you did something against the rules.

Scientology: they are relentless in everything they do. Escaping a prison of the mind is worse than any camp or compound you could face.

The isolation- from outside family, friends, the world as a whole. All of your friends are a part of ______, so your whole being is consumed by _____, and anything not right/negative that they do is ignored/forgiven, because rejecting one thing makes the whole structure fall down.

For me, it's the belief of the cult that people who leave should be killed.

No one should have to wonder if their father will appear on their doorstep one day with a gun.

Calvary Chapel - it has a very authoritarian style Leadership structure where they employ a system that they call the Moses Model of leadership. Essentially it’s a top down leadership model where what the head Pastor says goes, and the other assistant Pastors are essentially reduced to ‘yes men’.

For me, it was being isolated from my "worldly" family and having to rely on the group for emotional and spiritual support. Of course, that "support" came with the threat of being marked or shunned if I didn't toe the line on doctrine and scriptural interpretation.

I'm technically kinda still in one because my whole family is part of it. I don't know if you would call it a cult but... my brother said if our "leader" told him to swim across the Pacific Ocean he would. I think some cults are dangerous. I think mine causes a lot of guilt and shame. They don't train people in charge so if you actually have a problem you can get pretty screwed.

I was dealing with guilt from a sexual assault. It is a long story. But I went to a "priest" and he called me a harlot who wanted it. Basically told me it was because I was sinning that I was assaulted. And told me the reason it had happened was because I wanted to happen and I needed to "repent" ughgghhhg. I was already half way out the door so I pretty much stopped believing in anything they said after that.

I would say the denial of my problems was very hard. I had men tell my mental illness was in my head and I just needed to get over myself. It can be damaging if you do not fit there idea of what you need to be. I wouldn't want anyone to join because of the emotional pain I suffered in for the past 7 years.

Control and guilt.

I was involved in a Latin American branch of CUT (church universal and triumphant). I almost ended up committing suicide after years of filling my mind with their twisted and rarefied ideas.

It took me a significant amount of years to recover.

They wouldn't allow members to seek medical care.

Ex cult member here. Yes. The idiosyncratic belief systems that some gurus promote were developed during a period of psychosis to make sense of their own minds and perceptions, and that these belief systems persist after the psychosis has gone. Storr notes that gurus generalize their experience to all. They're like a psychotic virus...

Not knowing God and His love. Cults keep you captive by fear and mind control manipulation.

For those raised in a cult like Jehovah’s Witnesses their entire view of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is predicated on a nightmare. Their single and ultimate hope will be realized only after the mass murder of billions of men women and children. No wonder they have such a difficult time when they escape.

I think they give you a false God that is so unlike our Loving father that many people with the courage to reject their false God are unable to accept the true God. Making little ones to stumble is bad. Keeping them from God is worse.

Telling people they or their children have to die rather than get a blood transfusion or organ transplant.

Cultist is another word for weak, brainless follower with no reasoning skills. (Ok NOT the actual definition but so many cult leaders have preyed upon and made fools of their congregation that it seems to fit aptly)
So not something I would want to ever be a part of, especially any type of religious one. I was a JW for 25 years. That’s enough.

Being willing to die for it.

Blind acceptance what ever they are told - ex wmscog.

Have you had a cultic experience? Was it dangerous? Would you like to share the story here? If so please email me on

Your story will be anonymous to protect any family members that may still be in the cult.
This article is to help create awareness of what is going on today in religious cults and the effects on society. 

We believe it is fair that people are able to make informed choices about the group they are in, or the group they are considering joining.

Thank you for your support.

John Spinks

Cult Escape