Hello Blissfully Sleeping and thanks for opening up this thread.
I have just finished watching the TV program. For those who haven't seen it, it's about the “Zion Full Salvation Ministry” which operated as a pretty serious cult in Sydney over the period 1976 to 1992 and at its peak numbered about 70-80 people. The cult leader was a woman who claimed to be actually God. The show was based on a book written by two brothers – the first, David, and his wife were involved with the cult for over 16 years, and the other brother, John, had been most concerned about this. Blissfully Sleeping included the link http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s3546662.htm
which if you scroll down past 'summary' and 'more info' to 'story'
includes the full transcript of the show, which I assume people outside Australia will be able to access.
The cult sounds more serious than anything canvassed in this forum (but please correct me if I'm wrong), but there were still some telling messages, and I have included some quotes which stood out for me.
The leader maintained total control over all personal lives, and after the leader was involved in a serious road crash, “suddenly all the sweetness was gone and she was so adamant: ‘this is what has to be done – do it!’”
David said that control of all activities both within the group and outside was absolutely monitored by her, and that “you get isolated” and they told their kids not to have friends over after school. “Now I realise how dreadfully hard – I mean we did realise it then, but we just thought this was the calling but now I look back and I think it’s just awful that we actually demanded that of our children.”
John said “The most worrying aspect of cults is the kids of cults – what happens to them? They don’t know anything else, but the parents do know something else”. John also described the “total grief” of the grandparents that all contact with their grandchildren was banned. John said calls were rarely made to the family outside, but when they did “the voice on the other end was cold, lifeless and unemotional. And it was during those conversations that I was concerned David was no longer David”. [MW: There is no parallel with SFSK here for me].
David: “The million dollar question for me of why didn’t we leave continues to intrigue me [MW: 20 years later!]. In some ways I know why I didn’t – the fear was so strong that, I mean I was told that if ever you leave me I will kill your wife, children then you”. They were also told that if they left, their “salvation” would be taken away from them and they would be condemned to hell.
When the leader died, David said “I was grief-stricken, but then 16 years of my life had been devoted to this person, but there was also another level of how I was feeling and I know it was a sense of elation – it was a sense of relief – it’s over! And yet, there was still fear”. “People were saying ‘we had our doubts but we were just too afraid to voice it out, we thought this wasn’t right or that wasn’t right’ or whatever, so for most of them it was, in fact for all of them at the time it was liberating.” “I think I had alarm bells ringing for probably 16 years on and off and sometimes quite loudly, but the further you went the harder it was, because there was so much more to deny – well, I’ll have to deny this and this, all the way back”.
Intriguingly David took over the cult and they subsequently set up a number of businesses in a small New South Wales town which necessitated contact with outsiders, and a school which didn’t sound a particularly happy place.
The show had a happy ending, mostly. David and his wife contacted John and the family and described how difficult it was for him to apologise – “I had to acknowledge the shame of the foolish decisions I’d made that put so much pain on our lives and on the lives of [the wider family]. John described it as a “moving and beautiful experience when the reconciliation took place”. Unfortunately their parents had died before David came out of the cult.
The program concludes with this quote from David: “my faith is still strong but I’m not afraid to doubt and I’m not afraid to question.”
So while this appears to be a cult beyond SES or satellites, I suspect many of the quotes above will resonate with many here. Worth seeing, or looking at the transcript.
Thanks again Blissfully Sleeping