Nov 29, 2022


Around the Web, Around the World

A Little Bit Culty

Stolen Innocence: Elissa Wall on Growing up FLDS (Part 1)

Many people became aware of the horrors taking place within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (if you were really in touch with God s/he’d have given you a better name) after watching Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey on Netflix. Our guest on today’s show, Elissa Wall, had to live through them.

Born into a polygamous family within Salt Lake City, Utah’s FLDS—which is how we’ll be referring to it from here on out— Wall was only 14 when church leaders orchestrated a marriage between the child and her 19-year-old cousin, Allen Steed. Unfortunately, such marriages were insanely frequent within the church, with girls as young as 12-years-old being groomed and forced to marry older men. Much of this is thanks to human trash can Warren Jeffs, president and prophet of the FLDS, who can also add convicted child rapist to his list of titles. At one point, Jeffs had 78 “wives,” 24 of whom were children. Now, he’s serving life in prison, with no small help from Elissa Wall.

Wall’s autobiography is titled, Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs. The book became a New York Times bestseller and is a fascinating but heart wrenching look into the truly fucked up world of Warren Jeffs.

Episode available since November 28, 2022

Nov 22, 2022


Around the Web, Around the World

A Little Bit Culty

Spot A Spider: Dr. Amy Saltzman on Identifying Webs of Abuse

Fact: Studies suggest that one in four females and one in six males are sexually abused before the age of eight. What the actual fuck? So there must be tons of material out there educating children on what abuse looks like, and what they should do if they are abused, right? Wrong—such resources have been virtually non-existent thus far. Today’s guest and actual angel on Earth (but not in a culty way), Dr. Amy Saltzman, is working on changing that with her Spot a Spider series, designed specifically for children and teenagers to help identify when abuse is actually taking place—something that’s far less obvious than one might think.

Dr. Amy Saltzman is a former competitive gymnast, a physician, a mindfulness coach, author, and victim/sur-thrivor of decades of covert emotional abuse.

Episode available since November 21, 2022

Nov 15, 2022


Around the Web, Around the World

A Little Bit Culty

Toxic All-Around: Melanie Hunt & Kim Shore on Abuse in Canadian Gymnastics

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Our guests today want you to know that culty shit is rampant in high performance gymnastics, and it didn’t all magically go away with Larry Nassar’s prison sentence. How are these abusive creeps still slipping through the system and continuing to get access to young athletes? How do you protect your kid from harm if they develop a passion for the sport? Kim Shore is the founder of Gymnasts for Change Canada, a collective that emerged on the heels of the #metoo movement in 2017 after several former elite athletes publicly shared their experiences of abuse. She’s joined by fellow advocate and former Canadian national team gymnast Melanie Hunt, who is sharing her own grisly account of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her coaches during her fifteen-year career. The duo chats with us about their stories and their shared mission of eradicating abuse from the sport that they love. Because the scariest thing about gymnastics should be the balance beam. This episode is a must-hear for parents who are raising student athletes in any sport, but be warned: It’s not easy listening. Audience discretion advised.

Episode available since November 14, 2022

Nov 13, 2022


Detective Leah Remini Just Dropped Another Scientology Bombshell

When Remini left the church, she said her “first goal” was to find her missing friend. “In 2013, after I left Scientology, I filed a missing person’s report with the LAPD on Shelly,” Remini began. “By the time I filed the report, it had been nearly eight years since I had seen or heard from Shelly.” She recalls being told she “didn’t have the rank” to ask about Shelly, when Remini inquired as to why she wasn’t present at Cruise’s wedding. “Shelly was always with her husband. She was his shadow, not only because she was married to him but also because she was his top aide. For her not to be in attendance was not only unusual but also unimaginable.”

Mere hours after filing the report, Remini said she found out the case had already been closed via the press, and the LAPD was uncooperative when she prompted them for further information. “When I asked if detectives had spoken to or had seen Shelly themselves, I was told that was “classified” by the LAPD,” she tweeted. “I was told to file a public record request if I wanted further information. I spent $50k in attorneys fees filing various requests. My requests for information from the LAPD were shut down. I still don’t know anything about the circumstances of this investigation,” she continued.

The most unsettling detail in the thread, however, is Remini’s memory of meeting with LAPD veteran Cory Palka. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Palka is currently being investigated for his close (read: entirely inappropriate and deeply suspect) relationship with CBS and its besmirched CEO, Les Moonves. Palka is alleged to have colluded with Moonves and other executives in fighting a former employee’s accusations that Moonves had sexually assaulted her.

. . .

Palka, Remini recalls, was the officer to whom she filed the report about Shelly. Even then, she suspected he had ties to the institution. “When I met with Cory Palka about Shelly, he had a letter on his desk thanking him for all his help with Scientology matters and inviting him to come and have lunch, as a guest, at the Celebrity Center.”

Nov 8, 2022


Around the Web, Around the World

A Little Bit Culty

Leaving the Fold: Dr. Marlene Winell on Religious Trauma Syndrome

Dr. Marlene Winell knows all too well that exiting a controlling religion can trigger a devastating life crisis. As a college student, she moved away from the fire and brimstone fundamentalist Christianity she was raised in, and the fallout of her exodus was so dramatically upending that she felt compelled to dedicate her life’s work to studying the very phenomenon that she’d later coin: ‘Religious Trauma Syndrome.’ In this episode of A Little Bit Culty she chats with us about symptoms that arise in response to traumatic or stressful religious experiences, and what can be helpful along the road to recovery after leaving the fold.

More About Our Guest:

Dr. Winell is a psychologist, educator, and writer whose background includes 30 years of experience in human services, in both community and academic settings. She holds a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University and is the author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion. Leaving the Fold has become a leading self-help book in the field of religious recovery - and examines the effects of authoritarian religion (namely fundamentalist Christianity) on individuals who leave the faith. She’s also the founder of Journey Free organization, which is dedicated to helping people transition out of harmful religions, recover from trauma, and rebuild their lives. We’ve developed programs for both individuals and groups. If you are recovering from religious harm, we have great respect for your strength and courage. Please know that you are not alone and things can get better.

Episode available since November 07, 2022

Nov 1, 2022


Around the Web, Around the World

A Little Bit Culty

Sex Cult Nun: Faith Jones on Breaking Way from the Children of God (Part 1)

There are unconventional childhoods, and then there is growing up in the Children of God. International attorney, humanitarian, author, and TEDx speaker Faith Jones was raised in this infamous cult founded by her paternal grandfather in 1968. The group, later referred to as “the Family,” was notorious for its radical practices, which required members to become fulltime missionaries, give up their income and formal education, and abide by the “Law of Love,” a doctrine which encouraged spouse sharing, sexual relations with children, and the “Flirty Fishing” practice of using female followers as sex-bait to reel in followers. Thank gravy that Faith emancipated herself at 23, was later accepted into Berkeley Law school, and now travels the world advocating for everything that is NOT Children of God-like. She joins us in this first of two episodes to talk about Sex Cult Nun, her scorching memoir of her life inside the secretive cult. Warning: this episode, and its sequel will get into gritty terrain including discussions of child abuse and sexual assault. Listener discretion advised.

Additional Articles about other survivors of the Children of God:

Rolling Stone: How I Escaped From a Religious Sex Cult and Ended Up in the Army

Esquire: Joaquin Phoenix and Rose McGowan Spent Their Early Years in a Religious Cult. Then it Became Infamous.

The Guardian: Life after a sex cult: 'If I’m not a member of this religion any more, then who am I?'

Episode available since October 31, 2022

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