Episodes
The Children of God, later known as The Family, became notorious for their practise called “flirty fishing”. They believed in bringing up their children to have no inhibitions around sex, but the ramifications of their approach to this would echo through the generations as trauma, and result in a shocking murder-suicide committed by the very son prophesied as the Prince who would lead them through the End Times.   Full research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. You can...
Published 04/21/20
Published 04/21/20
The Children of God, later known as The Family, became notorious for their practise called “flirty fishing”. They believed in bringing up their children to have no inhibitions around sex, but the ramifications of their approach to this would echo through the generations as trauma, and result in a shocking murder-suicide committed by the very son prophesied as the Prince who would lead them through the End Times.   Full research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. You can...
Published 04/14/20
John Robert Stevens wrote when he was just 14 years old: “My joy must be in doing His will, in being His slave, in the confidence that whatever comes to me, when following Him, is His doing. In a real sense, I make Him responsible for my life.” He was writing about Jesus Christ, but it would turn out in the decades following that he could well have been writing to his future devotees as to how they should feel about himself.   Full research sources listed on each episode page at...
Published 03/17/20
In 1996, journalist Madeleine Bunting wrote for The Guardian UK: “Most of the 130,000 Buddhists in this country are in the caring professions, or are academics, or are part of an ex-hippy culture; they are trusting, idealistic and naive. They thought Buddhism was immune to the fanaticism and hypocrisy which riddles all religions. The controversy surrounding the NKT is shattering illusions that Buddhism was the one fail-safe religion.”   Twenty years later, clinical psychologist Dr Michelle...
Published 02/11/20
Hare Krishnas are often seen as joyous, harmless people, dancing their way through the streets, chanting to bells in their colourful robes. But in one particular Australian offshoot, a young woman named Lina told me about her not-so-harmless experiences.   Full research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. You can support the creation of this independent podcast at www.patreon.com/ltaspod.   With thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 3 of Let's Talk About...
Published 01/14/20
WANTED: families to volunteer to live for six months in the Australian outback “to advance the frontiers of social science.” Be part of a cutting edge research project to test the ideal human environment.   In a country known for a population that loves to travel, the write-ups appealed to plenty of adventurous spirits. Little did they know the reality of what they would be getting themselves into.   Full research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. You can support the...
Published 12/17/19
Followers of The Move rejected mainstream society and headed into the wilderness in the 1970s, building isolated communities that were to set them up for the coming Apocalypse. Many ex-members would later tell stories of physical hardship, beatings, and worse, experienced in these communities. Move leader Sam Fife told devotees that should he ever die, they could consider it proof that he was a false prophet. Full research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. You can...
Published 11/12/19
Australian esoteric healing organisation Universal Medicine teaches that entities known as The Four Lords of Form rule over 9-foot-tall spirits that are all around us, and that most people have lived at least 2,300 lives before. Former student Matt Sutherland told Sunday Night journalist Matt Doran that he would describe Universal Medicine’s founder Serge Benhayon as “a human wrecking ball.” Full research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. You can support the creation...
Published 10/15/19
Edgar Bronfman Sr. of the Seagram liquor fortune once wrote a testimonial for a course he had taken through an organisation called Executive Success Programs, or ESP. He said, quote, “If everyone were to go through this training, the world would be a much better and safer place to live.” Seventeen years later, the leader and inner circle of that same organisation, now going under the name NXIVM, would be on trial for charges including sex trafficking, forced labour, fraud, extortion and child...
Published 09/17/19
On the 14 June 2019, news broke in Australia that many people had been waiting on for a number of years. That news was the death of this country’s most notorious cult leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne. In this bonus episode, I’m bringing you an interview with investigative journalist Chris Johnston, who has been looking into The Family for quite some time. He worked with director Rosie Jones on her recent documentary ‘The Cult of the Family’, and they also co-wrote a book together about the group...
Published 07/18/19
Chung Moo Quan positioned itself as a superior martial arts school that taught eight different practices at once. Though this may have originally struck prospective students as a bargain-and-a-half, many who chose to take it up would come out the other end having lost thousands of dollars, personal relationships and job opportunities, and even their sense of self. Before the school’s founder and four other defendants were jailed in 1995, various experts had told reporters that Chung Moo Quan...
Published 04/16/19
The Order of the Solar Temple was a secret society that would go down sharing the pages of history with Jonestown, the Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate. But is it fair to compare the groups? When it comes to incidents of mass violence and cults, perhaps it may be unavoidable. Because whether they ended in mass murder-suicide or a different form of violence, in spite of the striking ideological differences between them, there were some similarities – in all of these groups that ended with...
Published 03/12/19
A New Zealand-born man who moved to Australia in the 1970s and started a sect, telling his eventual 9 wives and 60-plus children that he was Jesus Christ, was put behind bars for 7 years in Victoria in 2000. In spite of the fairly sensational nature of his lifestyle and crimes, his name is not well-known here, and his polygamous group gained the most media attention when a recent Bachelor Australia contestant was outed by the press for her childhood involvement. This episode we’re talking...
Published 02/12/19
Joy Kuo and her husband moved to Sydney from Taiwan in 2000, and the couple both began working for the University of Sydney Library the following year. They both studied for and gained their masters degrees, and enjoyed their work. By 2012 they had had a son together, and Joy found herself wanting to help humanity in some greater way. She was looking for something she could really dedicate herself to in her career. Iphigenie Amoutzias moved to New Zealand from Germany in 1996. She completed...
Published 01/15/19
Grace J. Adams and Poia Alpha are two sisters from New Zealand, who joined David Koresh’s Branch Davidians in the 1980s along with their other sister, the younger Rebecca. Poia left the sect in early 1990, and Grace in late 1991. Rebecca remained with the group at the compound in Waco, Texas, and perished in the fire of April 1993. Grace and Poia have recently released their memoir, called ‘Hearken O Daughter’, and I caught up with them on a recent trip to Auckland. Special Guest: Grace J....
Published 12/18/18
Laura left Outreach International when she was 32 years old, having been born into the sect in the late 1970s. Hear her story as she relates the experience of being a young woman in a highly patriarchal and controlling organisation, the difficult decision to leave, the trauma of starting her life from scratch, and the joy that she's found in this new life – a kind that most of us take for granted. You'll also hear from other ex-members about their experiences, and where the sect stands...
Published 11/20/18
In May 2017, a sect that started in Melbourne, Australia, 50 years ago, and has been highly secretive over the last few decades, decided to change its closed-doors policy and go public with a website. Whilst up until now very little has been known about the group except by direct conversations with former believers, its members go to government schools, attend public universities, and work in everyday jobs. They could be your neighbour, your colleague, or even a friend, and you’d have no idea...
Published 11/13/18
In October of 2013, the British organisation Freedom Charity received a call on their hotline. The woman on the other end said that her housemate had been held captive in South London for 30 years. At the time of this call, Katy Morgan-Davies was 30 years old, and the period of her imprisonment was her entire life. She, and the women she lived with, believed that an invisible machine called JACKIE could control household appliances, read their thoughts, and would incinerate them if they...
Published 10/16/18
Synanon began as an addiction support group that gathered in a grimy Californian flat in the late 1950s. It would grow to become a well-funded utopian society throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s, before declaring itself a religion in 1974. This organisation would attract Hollywood stars like Leonard Nimoy and Jane Fonda to participate in its so-called “Game”, and eventually break up married couples, force men to have vasectomies and women to have abortions, amass assets worth tens of...
Published 09/18/18
2018 marks the 25-year anniversary of a 51-day siege that ended in tragedy, following a shootout between the U.S. government and members of a sect called the Branch Davidians. The gunfire exchange lasted for well over an hour, killing four U.S. agents and six Branch Davidians, and wounding their leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh. Yet this violence was just the beginning of an ordeal that would culminate in an inferno later to become known as the Waco Massacre. CW: references...
Published 04/17/18
Over recent days, several of the 13 incarcerated Aum Shinrikyo members sentenced to death have been moved to new facilities, prompting speculation that their execution is imminent. In this bonus episode, a follow-up to our third episode about the infamous Japanese sect, Let's Talk About Sects spoke with a woman who has researched the group for over 16 years, and has also been in direct contact with ex-members. She goes by the name of Sarah Skibtower, and she was kind enough to share her...
Published 03/21/18
William Kamm has a 10pm curfew, and is not allowed to spend time with girls under the age of 17. He is prevented from entering the Shoalhaven district of New South Wales, and his movements and communications are monitored. These are conditions of his release after serving 9 years in jail for crimes he committed against two teenage girls – yet his followers still believe that he is the next true Pope, and that the Virgin Mary speaks to him on the 13th day of every month. CW: references to...
Published 03/13/18
The Koreshans believed that the earth was hollow, and that humans lived on the concave inside surface of it. They theorised that the moon and stars, and indeed the rest of the universe, was contained within. On the outside? A void. When they formed the utopian community in Estero, Florida that they called the Koreshan Unity Settlement, a common greeting of one member to another was, “We live inside.” Research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. If you have been...
Published 02/13/18
Carli McConkey was a 21-year-old university graduate when she decided to attend the Mind Body Spirit Festival in Sydney, and came across the stand for Life Integration Programmes. The course they offered sounded like exactly what she needed to get her life on track and realise her potential. Little did she know that this encounter was the start of a 13-year ordeal that would see her estranged from her family, under continued financial stress, a victim and perpetrator of physical assault,...
Published 01/16/18