Disinformation
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“Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.”

— Robert A. Heinlein

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Many cults start off with high ideals that get corrupted by leaders or their board of advisors who become power-hungry and dominate and control members’ lives.”

— Philip Zimbardo

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“The less reasonable a cult is, the more men seek to establish it by force.

— Jean-Baptiste Rousseau

Disinformation News

Tools for recognizing misinformation and helping others do the same

by the News Literacy Project A big part of being news-literate is knowing what to watch out for and being able to recognize misinformation. That way, you can pause when you…
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Fact Sheet

  • A charismatic leader: Cults always follow a charismatic leader, living or dead, whose teachings are considered of the highest importance. This leader may be considered a genius, or may be considered a religious figure like a messiah or prophet.
  • Ideological purity: Members are strongly discouraged from questioning the cult's doctrine and any doubts are met with shame or punishment.
  • Conformity and control: Cult leaders often exercise an extreme degree of control over members' lives, including dictating what they can wear and eat and what kinds of relationships they can have. Conformity is also enforced by group members who police one another.
  • Mind-altering practices: Sleep deprivation, chanting, meditation, and drugs are often used to break down individuals' defenses and make them more susceptible to cult ideology.
  • Isolation and love-bombing: It is common for people in cults to be encouraged to cut contact with outsiders, including close family members. Within the cult, new members are often subjected to love-bombing, a practice where new initiates are showered with love and praise to bring them deeper into the cult and foster a sense of belonging.
  • Isolation and love-bombing: It is common for people in cults to be encouraged to cut contact with outsiders, including close family members. Within the cult, new members are often subjected to love-bombing, a practice where new initiates are showered with love and praise to bring them deeper into the cult and foster a sense of belonging.
  • Us-vs-them mentality: Cult members are often encouraged to see the cult as superior to life on the outside and to feel that those outside the cult lack understanding or insight.
  • Apocalyptic thinking: Preparation for a supposed apocalypse or cataclysmic event is a major characteristic of many cults, especially cult religions.
  • Time and energy: Followers are expected to dedicate huge amounts of time and energy (and often money) to the cult to the exclusion of their own lives, interests, jobs, and families.

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Some Major Disinformation
Challenges in 2022

  • Cults and Conspiracies unite people through a common belief, and support each other as long as they believe in that one thing. That's why it's so hard to leave because members are accepted there when they would usually be ostracized for that belief. It becomes dangerous because the group becomes akin to a family unit, which is why it is so difficult to leave. It is also not illegal to be in a cult or start one, so legally it is challenging to break one up.
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Ways to Take Action

Throughout this recovery time of a year or more the ex-cultist will not only be battling with the symptoms of withdrawal but he will have various needs that need to be recognized by carers and counsellors. They are as follows:

• Receive unconditional love and support

• Talk to sympathetic and/or empathetic ears

• Be able to pace their own rehabilitation

• Be able to question and be answered

• Be recognized as free thinking again

• Have a safe place to live at little or no cost

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Recommended Media

The Vow, a NXIVM documentary series following a number of people deeply involved in the self-improvement group NXIVM over the course of several years. The Vow is a story of indoctrination and the step-by-step journey of NXIVM members defecting and outing Keith Reniere.

The series takes a deep, nuanced look at the NXIVM organization, which faces with various charges, including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy, against its highest members – most notably founder Keith Raniere, who was convicted in June 2019 and is currently awaiting sentencing.

Where to Watch: HBO, Hulu, YouTube

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Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult follows India Oxenberg as she grapples to make sense of her experience within NXIVM, a self-help organization which turned out to be a cult, examining her own culpability and abuse brought on to her by its leader, Keith Raniere, and rebuilds her relationship with her mother, Catherine Oxenberg who desperately fought to rescue her daughter. Naomi Gibson, Debora Giannone, Kelly Thiel, Tabby Chapman, Ashley McClean, and Ana Cecilia, also appear in the series sharing their stories and experiences in the organization.

The series features interviews with cult experts Janja Lalich, Steve Hassan and Rick Alan Ross, Cult therapist and deprogrammers Rachel Bernstein and Christine Marie Katas, Lawyers and prosecutors for NXIVM including Neil Glazer, Moira Kim Penza, Anne Champion, and Marc Agnifilo, and journalist Jaclyn Cangro

Where to Watch: Hulu, The Roku Channel, STARZ

Kumaré is a feature documentary film about the time filmmaker Vikram Gandhi impersonated a fake guru and built a following of real people. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at SXSW 2011, Kumaré opened in theaters June 20, 2012.
Where to Watch: Tubi, The Roku Channel, Amazon Prime

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