Haver you ever belonged to a cult? or knew someone that did?

I was a Jehovah’s Witness for 30 years. And they are absolutely a cult.

Outside or religion (and my experiences in a religion were so unculty it barely qualified as a religion), no for me. I had a good friend who climbed the ladder in a religious cult, second only to the Grand Imperial Whackjob, and then retired. Except for his cult activities you’d never suspect he was anything but purely, maybe even overly rational. Otherwise, for some reason, whenever I encounter a cultist there’s no time to talk to them because it turns out I have something more important to do.

I just left Jehovah’s Witnesses last year officially. I agree with NeonMadman that they have all the hallmarks of a cult. See Steve Hassan’s BITE model. I’m so happy to be free. I too had about 30 years in.

I was part of the KISS Army for a while.

A friend of mine was the high priestess of a Wiccan group, and she definitely employed “cultish” practices in her leadership.

Another friend was a member of “The Way Ministry,” a hyper-fundamentalist Christian sect, and they, too, did culty things.

Most specifically, both of these groups suppressed questioning. If you asked, “How do I know this is correct?” there was punishment. That isn’t sufficient to define a cult, but it’s one of the symptoms.

My mother’s first husband (not my dad) set himself up as the leader of a cult back in the 50’s, moved into a compound and wanted to start taking on extra wives, at which point my mom said “oh, hell no,” grabbed her two sons and got a divorce.

I was in the public school system for a while. That should count.

I grew up on the fringes of the ATI/Quiverfull movement, which I believe qualifies, although many disagree with me. I was also involved with pentacostal home-churches that were absolutely little tiny cults of personality, and attended a “Jesus camp” which if not a cult, absolutely employed cult tactics to control thoughts and behavior.

I was one of the viewers of a TV show called Cult, which was about this TV show called Cult, about a cult, with a large cult following who watched every episode on every episode. Until it got canceled and all that experiment in extreme self-referentiality disintegrated just. like. that.

My grandparents were Pentecostalists and I went to their church every Sunday.

Best user name/post title combo of the week.

I just bought a new iPhone. Does that count?

A former coworker of mine once said, quite casually, that she’d been in a cult for a little while. IIRC this came up because for some reason I’d mentioned that one of the Heaven’s Gate members who committed suicide in 1997 had attended my high school. (We hadn’t been in school at the same time, so I didn’t know him.)

Anyway, my coworker said the cult she’d been in was the type of cult that wanted to take all your money rather than the type that wanted you to commit suicide. I didn’t feel comfortable asking for more details, but IIRC she said this was a group she’d joined in college with her then-boyfriend and had initially believed it to be a peace organization or something. We didn’t work together very long, she was hired just a few months before I left this job, but FWIW she seemed pretty normal and did not come across as dumb or gullible.

The church I went to years ago (early-mid '70s) has been called as a cult.

I once knew a woman quite well who claimed to have been part of Heaven’s Gate (and had, obviously, gotten out before the grand finale.) I never really decided if I believed her or not. The neopagan community is full of some rather…creatively dramatic people.

I was part of a group for about 5 years that scored about a 50 on The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame. The one thing we were really crappy at was the “give us all your money” part. We also didn’t intentionally require, or even encourage, people to cut off the connections with family and friends not in the group - although we were so busy doing group things that many of us only socialized within the group. So it was kinda cult-y.

I was actively recruited by the Moonies while in college, so I knew several cult members quite well before I figured out what was going on. They were quite sophisticated and I can see how anyone with any sort of religious leanings (not me) could have fallen for them.

I knew two people who joined the Hari Krishnas. Each of them left after a while, I heard, and the one I re-met seemed pretty dismissive of the time she’d spent with them. As in, dismissed it as a foolish thing she’d briefly done while young and impressionable.

I was a Mormon, which is more of a Cult-Lite, although the fundamentalist branches are full-blown cults.

My ex-wife is a member of Happy Science.

They don’t take all of your money, but they sure extract a lot.

My parents joined Amway in the early 1980s. I know there’s a little scepticism out there as to whether it qualifies as a cult, but this was the point at which it was just gaining a foothold in the UK, and I think that frontier made for an especially culty experience. Certainly it significantly fits the BITE model in my memory.