Inquiry Based Essay- Cults

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Therese Rubi
English Database Research Paper
Professor Falk 


Everyone has their own beliefs and morals. Whether you’re a devout Buddhist, Pastafarian or Agnostic, religion can often seem like a strange endeavor when you’re on the outside looking in. However weird certain religions may seem, the detriment of cults are far more extreme. Although a conversational taboo, cults seek the vulnerable and prey on their insecurity. By controlling every aspect of ones life, cults are parasitic entities that often go unnoticed until it’s too late. Using the CCNY database, these sources were collected to show the toxic impact cults and heretical indoctrination has had on our society, especially among the youth. 


Sun Myung Moon/ Biography

This biographical essay, published by the Encyclopedia of World Biographies, is the story of Sun Myung Moon, the late cult leader and founder of the Moonies. Moon was born in South Korea in 1920 (died 1970) to a peasant family. His family was Christian, and as a teenager he claimed to have been visited by Jesus Christ to continue His mission to save mankind. After World War II, Moon began seriously preaching, but was arrested and set free multiple times for heresy. During this time, he began writing the movements holy book, later known as the Divine Principle, while simultaneously growing his church called The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. His following was gaining momentum in Korea and Japan. After one failed marriage, Moon married a parishioner, and years later he moved to the U.S., where he furthered his career by doing tours, lectures, gaining even more momentum, especially among youth. However, despite growing influence, Moon’s church was growing critics as well. One such man was Ted Patrick, whom wanted to save and reinstate those fallen victims to cults via kidnapping occult members and giving them intense therapy.However, due to legal action and twiddling numbers, Patrick ceased. One vital aspect of the Moonies was the institution of marriage, completely dictated by Moon himself, and instating peculiar and controlling doctrine on followers. According to the article, Moon and his elite members were very philanthropic, but were accused of tax evasion and other malicious crimes in 1980. Although the Moonies still exist, after Moon’s accusations and death, the numbers are minimal.

The purpose of this biography is simply to inform, and the tone of the author is clear, direct and cordial, sympathizing with Moon and his cult. However, the author is misleading and bias, although it is very subtle. According to other sources, Moon was a sexual deviant, participating in and enforcing bizarre sexual rituals, as well as forcing and arranging arranged marriages. Former members said that he preached insane doctrine, such as claiming Hitler and Stalin endorsed Moon and his plan for salvation. He also became a multimillionaire because he treated the cult as an enterprise, using free labor to make his money. The author fails to mention his manipulation tactics as well as blasphemy against genuine Christianity and Confucianism. Based on all this selectively excluded information, i am going to conclude the author was trying to purposely trying to mislead the audience into sympathy with the controlling cult. 


Adolescent attraction to cults/ Scholarly Article

This article delves into how teenagers become attracted to cults as a result of ambiguity and isolation from their family, society and a sense of community. Adolescence is a confusing time, but is also vital for understanding and developing one’s identity. For the first time, a young person will seek out the truth and attempt to form opinions of their own, often counter to what they perceive as the enemy. The perceived enemy differs from generation to generation, but nonetheless, each new generation seeks to facilitate reform and thus ‘rebel’. However, this constant fight against societal patterns can make many teenagers feels estranged from a sense of stability, which often originates from an unhealthy home life. As a result,teens can be easily susceptible to fall into gangs or cults because they give a structural ideal that feels similar to a family. The world is chaotic and confusing, in particular to those unable to cope with its intricacies, thus, cults create a concise yet controlling environment for a teenager. In the search for recognition, the teen falls victim to a manipulative and outlandish ploy. Often cults seek to accumulate power and wealth, which is what differentiates it institutionally from religion and sects. Cults prey on youth because of their undeveloped sense of self and unconscious immaturity. One line that was extremely pungent was the young adults have not achieved the balance of experience and maturity that would enable them to sort truth from illusion and reality from fantasy in all situations.” The author cautioned counselors, teachers, and especially parents that they  should be wary of the possibility of cult indoctrination among youth. It is our responsibility to be proactive and detect early warning signs of cult associated like behavioral or maneuristic changes. responsibility Cults prey on youth because of their undeveloped sense of self and unconscious immaturity. 


The tone of the author is sympathetic and informative, conveying the information to the general public in the most respectful method possible. The author seems especially focused on informing care-giving adults about cult indoctrination. The author does not accuse teenagers of being stupid, adults of being neglectful, or religious groups for being manipulative, but instead presents a realistic and rational defense meant to protect violitile youth. The author warns of the dangers that come with feeling alienated in a discombobulated world.


‘Scientology’ Finale Tackles Sexual Assault/News paper

The news report, written by Jenny Cohen from USA Today, explains the difficult controversies surrounding the finale of Leah Remini’s show ‘Scientology and the Aftermath’ finale, which addresses rape allegations against Danny Masterson. To give some context, Scientology is a cult that was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950’s and is a multi million dollar conglomerate today, after years of manipulating people and families to join. Although the IRS has given Scientology religious tax-exemption status, it is categorized as a cult under the definition. The show ‘Scientology and its Aftermath’ is hosted by Leah Remini and Mark Rinder, who were once very vocal and active members of the church, but have now left as a result of Scientology’s brutality and manipulation against them and its members internationally. According to the report, actresses Crissie Brixler, Bobette Riales and two other anonymous women “filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology, claiming they engaged in stalking, invasion of privacy and conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations, according to the complaint obtained by The Hollywood Reporter and HuffPost”. All four women recalled accounts of rape during the course of their romantic relationship with Masterson, and according to Bixler and Riales, when brought to Scientology authorities about the assaults, they tried to convince the women it was not rape because it within the confines of a ‘consensual relationship’. And when When the women attempted to go to authorities, they were ostracized and targeted by the Church for taking legal action. The Church of Scientology and Masterson vehemently rebuke the claims, calling Remini’s show is a perverted distortion of Scientology beliefs. The women are still proceeding with their legal action, and Remini has responded to the Churches consistent slander by retorting “Rest assured, Scientology, that this is not the end, this is just the beginning”.
The journalist has a very formal, unfeeling tone to her writing, but instead leans heavily on quotes, anecdotal evidence and facts to tell the story for her. She uses points of view from both opposing forces, allowing the reader to form an opinion. Although the report’s (and Leah Remini’s show) purpose is to inform, both the show and the article entertain the audience with the sensational spectacle. With the rise of the MeToo movement and expanding openness of sexual abuse, the audience is forced to sympathize with the alleged victims, despite no personal input from the reporter.The audience would be mostly adults, perhaps especially those whom are or were members of Scientology. The reporter nicely ties the narrative together without fluff or deliberate bias, conveying a horrible story about one of the world’s most powerful cults. 

Children of God cult was ‘Hell on Earth’/ Internet Source

The testimonial, recorded by Steven Brocklehurst, tells the story of Verity Carter, a survivor of ‘The Children of God’ cult (known today as The Family International). Founded by David Berg in the 1960s, the main doctrine of the cult is “God was love and love was sex, so there should be no limits, regardless of age or relationship.” With members all over the world, at least ten of thousands of children have been abused by cult members, including babies. One such child was Verity, whom was born into the cult. She recalls being sexual abused by her father and at least four other adults. Verity and her siblings were not only subjected to abuse but to a regimented cruelty. Any minor transgressions were met with a disproportionate amount of recourse, eliminating any ounce of imagination or normalcy within the children. Verity was also taught how to manipulate people, especially social workers, when asked difficult questions about her living situation. Isolated from the whole world, Verity and her siblings had no formal education and were miserably ill prepared to handle life outside. At age fifteen, Verity was able to official escape, leaving all her fear beyond, now indifferent to any punishment. She recalled, “When I got out it was because it no longer mattered if death waited for me in the outside world because I already wanted to die, so how much worse could it be?” She moved in with her dad briefly, whom had left the cult a few years prior, but stormed left after another attempted abuse by her father. So she left, going to different houses, coping with her past through drugs and alcohol. Seven years later, she came out against those who abused her, leading to her father’s conviction and reconnecting with her brothers and sisters. Although her mother is still active in the cult, she continues to sort out her past, fighting against nay-sayers. 

The journalist, once again, adds only minimal details for clarification, but allows the testimonial to reveal the story in its entirety. The purpose of giving Verity this platform in to entertain, inform and persuade. Her story in incredible and horrifying, which attracts readers, but is also informing them of the cults absolute evil. In addition, this piece can also persuade the adult audience to never join such a virulent group, no matter how much one needs a sense of belonging. The dark side of these communes must be exposed in order to save the lives of people like Verity from people who want to hurt them, control them, destroy them. People like L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon, who create false, tiny mystical worlds for people who seek help or who seek to help to create profit and power. 



What all these articles have in common is the destruction that cults and idolization have caused on innocent lives. Although are are from different mediums, a newspaper, a tabloid, a biography and an article, we see how people have been manipulated because they lacked a sense of self and purpose. Each story comes with a different perspective, but with very similar outcomes: corruption. The intent of occult fixation is good, trying to help oneself find truth, but in practice, the leaders of such groups are egomaniacs at the very least. They have inflicted abuse, rape, murder, torn apart families and lives to fulfill a lust for control, to fulfill their imagined utopia. Utopia is an impossible notion, and those who attempt to inflict it onto reality are fundamentally malicious people. In order to combat such an alluring projection, we must form our own opinions, our own morals so we can stay steadfast in fighting lies. Just because someone says something evil in a nice way doesn’t make the content of what they are saying good. It makes it dangerous. The varying tones of each piece nevertheless add to the larger narrative that the only way to protect against falsehoods is with the truth.


Hunter, Eagan. “ADOLESCENT ATTRACTION TO CULTS.” Adolescence, vol. 33, no. 

131, 1998, p. 709. Gale Academic Onefile, Accessed 26 Sept. 2019.

“Moon, Sun Myung (1920-).” Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998. Gale 

Academic Onefile, Accessed 26 Sept. 2019.

Cohen, Jenny. “‘Scientology’ finale tackles sexual assault.” USA Today, 28 Aug. 2019, 

  1. 03D. Gale Academic Onefile, Accessed 26 Sept. 2019.

Brocklehurst, Steven. “Children of God Cult Was ‘Hell on Earth’.” BBC News, BBC Scotland 

News, 27 June 2018,