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Any experience of cults or strict churches ?

(33 Posts)
Floradora9 Sun 26-Jun-22 14:34:45

I have been reading a book by Rebecca Stott about her experience growing up in the Exclusive Brethern sect. Frankly it was terrible especially if you were a girl . It got me thinking of an old school friend , lets call her M , whose family were Plymouth Brethern .I really did not realise they were different from my family though M and her sisters and mother wore very plain clothes and my friend's hair looked like her mum cut it . We went to high school together and M was a bright gitl who went on to study medicine . We lost touch but I later heard that she married a fellow doctor who was from the Indian or Pakistan . Because she married out of the church her parents never spoke to her again . On reflection I find this so sad. Her husband went on to have a very successful career and was given a knighthood. What did her parents think when they saw the couple's photo in the local press ?

Shelflife Sun 26-Jun-22 15:09:14

I hope they realized how much they had lost!!

62Granny Sun 26-Jun-22 17:10:47

Your friend was obviously very intelligent and strong enough as an adult to make her own decisions. The loss was on the parents side. I always wonder at these people who live their lives to such a rigid way of thinking , there is no give and take to me that is not very Christian.

H1954 Sun 26-Jun-22 17:21:58

No, I have no personal experience but I did know a couple some years ago. They lost a young son in a road accident and naturally were heartbroken; the woman turned to a strange, cult Iike church that had sprung up in their town. The 'church' convinced her that by following their regime her son would walk back, alive, into the family home. She was so convinced and believed every word donating hundreds of pounds to their 'cause'.

Her husband couldn't convince her otherwise and their marriage broke down because of it. It was dreadfully sad at the time and even her parents couldn't come to terms with it.

JackyB Sun 26-Jun-22 17:26:06

You don't actually say whether you enjoyed reading it. I would also recommend "Educated" by Tara Westover who went through a similar experience. She shows that there is a way out, but her description of her childhood does have some horrific moments. Not an easy book to read, but I did stick with it and much of it has remained with me.

Beautful Sun 26-Jun-22 18:02:23

How could they do this ? This young lady went with her heart ❤️ good on her, although must have been hard , no doubt still hard at times, her parents don't know what they are missing ... I thought LOVE was preached in all denominations obviously not ... my son didn't speak to me for about 3 months ... I told his sister something not him at the time, sometimes not the right time ... I prayed hard about it ... I ate humble pie as they say, emailed him he came to see me ... hey presto healed ... this was quite a few years ago ... this really upset me ... 3 months was bad enough but forever ... how could her parents do this to her ... let's hope her parents realise what they are missing before it is too late

Marmight Sun 26-Jun-22 18:12:41

The previous owners of a house we bought in the 80’s had 2 sons who joined the Moonies. The elder one, a Dr. left the cult and, despite changing the phone number, we had a couple of weird calls from the States trying to find out where he was. They were not pleasant. I just cut off any further calls. I wonder what they do to absconders if they are found 🤔

BlueBelle Sun 26-Jun-22 18:18:01

Obviously the parents love of their religion and maybe fear of it overrode their love of their children
Very sad but not unheard of
Children can be killed in the name of religion if they marry outside their own religion

Dickens Sun 26-Jun-22 19:50:35


You don't actually say whether you enjoyed reading it. I would also recommend "Educated" by Tara Westover who went through a similar experience. She shows that there is a way out, but her description of her childhood does have some horrific moments. Not an easy book to read, but I did stick with it and much of it has remained with me.

You've whetted my appetite - I think I shall have to read this book.

She didn't enter a classroom until she was 17! Unbelievable!

A family, so isolated from the mainstream, living in the mountains of Idaho. It makes you wonder how it's possible in a first world country - it bears more resemblance to those lost tribes sometimes found in the depths of the Amazon who have no contact with the outside world.


Witzend Sun 26-Jun-22 20:00:25

I know someone who was brought up in the Plymouth Brethren. From what I’ve gathered it was a pretty grim and joyless time - super-strict parents, etc.
It would seem from what I know of the family that the experience has put the several now adult children off having children of their own.

Shortly before leaving school, dds were given a very hard hitting talk about cults, since a favourite recruiting ground is apparently universities. New first year students who may be homesick/lonely/finding it hard to make friends, or worried about their work, are evidently fruits ripe for the picking.

Dds were warned very explicitly never to go along to any cult’s ‘friendly’ introductory session, ‘just for a laugh’, because the psychological stratagems they use are very cleverly designed to reel sceptics in.
Scary stuff!

M0nica Sun 26-Jun-22 20:28:02

The daughter of one of my parent's friends became a Scientologist back in the 1960s.

She did surprisingly, becoming 'staff member', marrying a colleague and the last I heard was in California in a senior position in the world movement and doing rather well.

Joseanne Sun 26-Jun-22 20:42:09

I thought Plymouth Brethren weren't allowed to go to university?

Floradora9 Sun 26-Jun-22 21:05:50


You don't actually say whether you enjoyed reading it. I would also recommend "Educated" by Tara Westover who went through a similar experience. She shows that there is a way out, but her description of her childhood does have some horrific moments. Not an easy book to read, but I did stick with it and much of it has remained with me.

I really enjoyed the book it is called " In The Days of Rain " by Rebecca Stott .

Katie59 Mon 27-Jun-22 07:09:51

I know several Plymouth Brethren families, they are far more widespread than you think, some are strict, some are so relaxed that it’s difficult to tell.
Usually they don’t socialize with others and don’t work on Sundays. One of their customs is that they use computers, phones and technology for business purposes only. For personal use never, or TV and radio.

Joseanne Mon 27-Jun-22 07:15:34

So that implies that say Pl B youngsters have computers or phones for school work, someone must be monitoring their usage at all other times?

M0nica Mon 27-Jun-22 07:36:59

Probably their parents.

Dickens Mon 27-Jun-22 08:18:05

I'm wary of anyone belonging to what is considered a cult, or even 'ordained' mainstream religion. In general, that is - obviously you speak as you find.

As an independent human being I don't want to be told what I can or cannot do in life, what I can or cannot study (or, even if I can study), that I can only use technology for certain purposes, and live life within limiting, strict confines.

Also, women often don't fare well under some cults and religions. Especially those where the menfolk make the decisions about a woman's role...

Having said that, one of my best friends was the local vicar and his wife. Both outgoing, progressive - very caring, kind and considerate individuals with an encompassing love for the whole of humankind. What's not to like!

But, in general... hmm.

My only real experience with a cult was meeting a Jehovah's Witness ( some say JWs are not a cult, I beg to differ) who together with her husband, ran the local newsagents. Her husband suffered ill-health and she ran the shop frequently. She would not sell cigarettes to anyone (that's before we know what we now know about smoking) although the shop was licensed to sell tobacco. The same would have applied to alcohol had they a license. But she lived off the proceeds when the goods were sold by her husband. He told me that she attempted to cut him off from his family and friends - he was a model-railway enthusiast and she tried to stop his friends and fellow enthusiasts from meeting him, both in the home and elsewhere. He sunk into depression - noticeably - and would confide in some of his customers like me who'd known him for years. He was too emotionally weak and mentally beaten down to think about divorce. One day, she knocked on my door (along with other's) to say he'd died and that she would be selling-up and moving away (she had frequently called along our street as a JW advocate and got to "know" us individually).

Nothing really horrendous about this, but a very sad story.

Cabbie21 Mon 27-Jun-22 08:45:46

I went to a Plymouth Brethren Sunday School but they were not especially strict, except for the role of women in church and the use of Sunday. Nobody dictated to individuals and everyone was very open, kind and friendly. It is what is known as Open Brethren.
I had a school friend whose family all belonged to the Exclusive Brethren, but they left when she was about 13. She told me quite a bit about their strict rules, and how if teenage/ adult children do not follow the faith, they have to eat separately. No television of course, and this was way before computers, but I can well believe that their use would be restricted to business purposes.

Germanshepherdsmum Mon 27-Jun-22 08:55:59

I lived near a small town where there were a lot of Plymouth Brethren. The women all wore quite long blue skirts and blue headscarves and didn’t seem to go out on their own, always at least two together. One man ‘preached’ outside the shops once a week. They didn’t mix with the locals at all. It gave the appearance of a pretty spartan and joyless existence, by our standards.

sodapop Mon 27-Jun-22 09:00:18

My birth mother came from a family of Plymouth Brethren and was quite naive. She never told her family she had a child even though she lived with her brother towards the end of her life.

Elusivebutterfly Mon 27-Jun-22 09:46:20

I worked with a Jehovah's Witness and they are definitely a cult with strange ideas.

The authors Jeanette Winterton and Bernard Cornwell both grew up in strange cults and have written about this.

Witzend Mon 27-Jun-22 09:59:26

It wasn’t exactly a cult, but a so-called ‘church’, experienced while very briefly in the US years ago.

On the TV the church leader was urging people to give now! - in order to be prayed for - info was constantly moving at the bottom of the screen, and he was saying e.g. that so and so from X had just been cured of cancer! (As a result of paying to be prayed for).

It was horrifying and fascinating in roughly equal measures.

Of course we were not remotely surprised to read some years later that the Beloved Leader and his equally complicit wife IIRC were complete frauds, who’d made $$$$$$$ out of it and were IIRC dealt with accordingly.

Witzend Mon 27-Jun-22 10:04:37

Just to add, give me the good old C of E (‘Tea and cakes or death!’) any day!

Luckygirl3 Mon 27-Jun-22 10:16:49

I had a client who was JW - a young woman who went blind. Her parents converted when she was about 6, and soon after she lost her sight. She spoke of one of her happiest memories before going blind, which was a sparkling Christmas tree in her living room - she treasured that memory, because after that no celebration of Christmas.

Also had a JW pupil (although of course not her choice) in a school where I taught singing - she was not allowed to join in in case any of the songs mentioned god. She was the most musical child in the school and missed out on the shared music-making.

All blooming pernicious nonsense.

annodomini Mon 27-Jun-22 10:24:21

As a primary school governor, I was told about JW children who were not allowed to join in sporting activities and were forbidden to use computers. Once, long ago, as a council candidate, I canvassed a JW resident and was told, very politely, that they didn't vote or take part in any political activities, so I asked him to pray for me. I later found that he did vote! Sadly, I was defeated.