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Religious ideologies often use the practice of shunning to silence their critics and to control their members through fear. This podcast sheds light on this practice through real life stories as told by the people that have lived through it. Learn what their lives were like and where they have ended up in life after shunning.
 
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“I’m a nuts and bolts kind of guy. I see how people are treated. Doctrine can be twisted and turned and however you want to interpret the Bible is however you want to interpret the Bible. For me what’s important is how you treat your people.” Follow Dino’s story and you’ll see that people are what matter to him most. From his time in the cult of Je…
 
Note: This is the second of back to back episodes on the Unification Church, often referred to as the Moonies, named after their leader Sun Myung Moon. Lisa spent her time playing with the children of the Messiah while living with Satan. Her mother went into the Unification Church, leaving Lisa and her brother behind with their father, a man living…
 
Note: This is the first of back to back episodes on the Unification Church, often referred to as the Moonies, named after their leader Sun Myung Moon. Jen Kiaba is an award winning artist and an educator, and in this episode she educates us on this particular group. You will learn how the group worked, the unique terminology of the group, but above…
 
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be a religion guided by love. Throughout Joe’s story a common them arises though: “where is the love?”. We know that they practice shunning and call that love, but daily life inside of the cult also shows it to be sorely lacking. Joe’s story involves a lack of love starting in the congregation and only gets more persona…
 
“In a way I felt like I was better than everyone else in the world, because I knew the truth. I was one of the few that was going to be saved at Armageddon, but at the same time I felt like I was worthless because no matter what I did it was never enough, and I could never truly compensate for being gay. That was never going to go away and I couldn…
 
At just 19 years old, when others are experiencing life for the first time after high school whether going to college or starting their lives, Isaiah was leaving a cult. That decision to take a stand didn’t come without the predictably terrible reaction from family and friends that are swept up in a cult that controls their behavior. The song that …
 
“Have you ever wondered if this is actually the truth?” Such a simple question. Something that one would think might be a natural question when a person calls their doctrine “The Truth”. This question was the end of a relationship, and just a small part of a larger story that involved so much change and some moments of pure heartbreak. The song tha…
 
What is it like to grow up as a child in Scientology? Not as a celebrity, nor anyone with clout, but as an average person going to a local church and trying to assimilate into the only life that you know? Laurel tells her personal story of growing up as a Scientologist, joining the Sea Org at just 13 years of age, getting married, her path toward b…
 
The underground. As Jehovah’s Witnesses we were trained for the possibility that someday we would have to go underground and do our public preaching work in secret. Most of us would never actually do that. Geoff did. Geoff went to China to work underground as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a country in which the cult is banned. Secret meetings, smug…
 
“How do you get kicked out of church?” These are the words of Suzanna’s brother as he tried to wrap his mind around her shunning. Her journey starts as a 14 year old girl with two real options to get out of her abusive home, joining a local gang or getting involved with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The choice she made would lead to decades of trying to mak…
 
What is it like to move around the country multiple times as a child? To not have a consistent place to live? To be placed into foster care at times? To do all of this while growing up exposed to a cult, and then to have a catastrophic moment that pushes you farther in? Ramil’s story involves all of this, and much more. He found solace in cult teac…
 
One of the things that really stands out at times is how much people put into following these high control groups, or cults, and how little it takes to get a person kicked out and shunned. Years, even decades can be spent serving faithfully, but one simple statement by a once sincere follower can be all it takes to start the path to shunning. “I wi…
 
y Jehovah’s Witnesses “God isn’t with you. Don’t kill yourself. You can get through this even if you have to do it alone.” Those are the words of 10 year old Z (Z Olvero, formerly Whitney Blackburn). Today Z is a gender non-binary person that has found themselves after a life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses that tried to force conformity rather than …
 
Kim grew up in a home where she was to be seen and not heard. Her family was also in a cult where people are to be seen and not heard. Jehovah’s Witnesses are obsessed with appearance over substance, and Kim had to eventually leave that behind in order to find something real. She had to grow up fast to leave abusive situations and to give herself a…
 
“They weren’t there to help me; I’m not going to let them judge me.” These were Seth’s words as so much in his life came to a head. The loss of his mother early in life, the abuse from his father, homeless at just 14 years of age, Seth had so many things against him. As an adult he would lose siblings to suicide and face a marriage rife with issues…
 
Note: This episode gets very real, including potential triggers surrounding suicide and sexual assault. It is important to discuss the realities of these things and we hope that it helps others. Kayla was very brave in sharing her life story. Sadly a cycle of abuse is often like a role that gets played over and over again. We typically think of it …
 
Kidnapped at the age of 6 years old by her mother, LaShanda’s life had a rough start. Many around her were struggling with mental health issues, substances, and of course, the toxic environment of Jehovah’s Witnesses eventually came into play as she got older. She felt different for issues due to race, the circumstances of her life, and eventually …
 
At just 19 years old Jen had a moment where she realized that “this is going to be the rest of my life”. That thought made her shudder. Listen to find out what it was that she didn’t want for the rest of her life, what that moment was like, and an unexpected place that she turned to in order to get space to grow. Jen has been told no by the people …
 
“From an early age I accepted that I was garbage. I was not going to survive Armageddon. I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I knew I wasn’t good enough. I knew I was letting Jehovah down.” How does someone get to this place so young? Ramo was baptized at just 8 years old into a cult that denies one the ability to be themselves, that forces children …
 
“I’m not sorry for who I am.” When you think about that statement and life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it holds certain weight. But what if you were born into a body that didn’t fit the person that you knew yourself to be? Meet Mitch, a trans man that had to go on quite a journey to be himself. When you grow up in a cult, where you are supposed …
 
Angela was a born-in member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although it was all that she ever knew, she could see that some things didn’t add up from an early age and struggled to adopt everything she had been told. She was told to shun her own mother by her father, while at the same time all she wanted was love and attention from her parents like any norm…
 
A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence. As Jehovah’s Witnesses we were taught endurance, how to put up with things externally that weren’t what we wanted to achieve a goal we were given. As ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses we have the opportunity to learn persistence in working toward goals that we set for ourselv…
 
One reason that people are attracted to cults is that they are looking for stability in life. They may feel vulnerable and are looking for answers, something to hold on to that allows them to leave their troubles behind. Unfortunately the reality of what cults offer is nothing more than a surface level illusion of stability covering over deep dysfu…
 
“I should have gotten the abortion”, the words of Mario’s mother when he was disfellowshipped at a young age from the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some would equate shunning to exactly that, essentially aborting someone from your life and treating them as though they are dead. All because a person, even a mother’s own son, simply chose another path…
 
For many of us most of our lives were spent devoting our assets to “Kingdom interests” as Jehovah’s Witnesses. We literally counted the hours spent pushing literature door to door and gave our everything to the belief that in doing so we were helping people. Tim took his time, treasure and talents in another direction, using them in the nonprofit w…
 
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