Holy Food by Christina Ward

Tamara MC, former cult member, interviews Christina Ward about Holy Food: How Cults, Commune, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat, An American History I grew up in a Sufi cult in Texas during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Our diets were completely restricted. For years we were strict macrobiotics. We were vegetarians, vegans, you […]

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I Was Raised in a Cult. Like the Duggar Family, We Had Dark Secrets

Many are stunned after watching Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, a docuseries about the famously growing Duggar family, on Amazon Prime. How could this have happened? The Duggars looked like such good people! But for those of us who grew up in similarly repressive environments, none of this was shocking. We lived it every day. What we viewed […]

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‘Uncultured’: The Intergenerational Trauma of Girls Growing up in Cults

Daniella Mestyanek Young’s powerfully immersive and exceptionally honest debut memoir Uncultured opens with a scene of Young standing in line to get spanked by Uncle Zephaniah. This man is not her blood uncle, but what the kids in the Children of God cult call the men in the community. The women are called “Aunties.” Young […]

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I was in a cult. Britney was in a conservatorship.

Secretly behind closed doors, we’d both been held hostage, our personhood and civil liberties stolen Nov. 12 marked the historic day when after 13 years, Britney Spears finally freed herself from her father’s stranglehold, proclaiming, “I ain’t a slave 4 u!” The termination process of Britney’s conservatorship went into full effect after a court hearing, […]

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I grew up in a cult and was married at 12 — in Texas

My mother was a liberal feminist; my father was a religious zealot who left the family to live by the cult leader. Two months before I married, I had my first period. I still wore a training bra. I was 12 and had never kissed a boy, never fathomed marriage. “Repeat after me: I, Habiba, […]

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On Guinevere Turner’s “When the World Didn’t End”

ON JANUARY 5, 1975, when Guinevere Turner was seven, the world was supposed to end. She grabbed her favorite toy and donned a fancy dress, but the spaceship to take Turner to Venus never arrived. Turner’s new memoir, When the World Didn’t End, follows her life as she grows up with the Lyman Family, an apocalyptic cult […]

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I was a child bride. It’s time to stop teaching young girls to stay sweet.

I was a child bride. It’s time to stop teaching young girls to stay sweet. Like the young girls in Netflix’s #2 trending true-crime docuseries, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obeyabout Warren Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), I also grew up in a religious fundamentalist community and was brought up to […]

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Born to Stand Out: Daniella Mestyanek Young Interviewed by Tamara MC

As soon as I heard about Daniella Mestyanek Young’s book Uncultured (St. Martin’s Press), I knew I had to interview her. Both of us are “cult babies,” children born or raised in cults. Young was born a third-generation member of the Children of God, the infamous sex cult alleged to have encouraged sex with children as a way to get closer to God. I grew up in a Sufi cult in the eighties in Texas, and although our cult was not a sex cult, our girls were sexually assaulted. I was married at age twelve in an Islamic temporary marriage called a mut’ah, and most of the girls I grew up with were married off at age fourteen to men much older than them and usually in plural marriages. So, although we grew up in different places with different religions, our experiences mirror each other in many significant ways.

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TCR Talks with Michelle Dowd, Author of Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult

By Tamara MC For fans of Educated by Tara Westover, Maid by Stephanie Land, and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Michelle Dowd’s debut coming-of-age memoir Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult contains echoes of all three, yet it is wholly unique unto itself. Dowd was born in the 1970s into a survivalist cult called the Field, governed by her grandfather, who […]

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Daniella Mestyanek Young, Uncultured, St. Martin’s Press, 2022

Uncultured, Daniella Mestyanek Young’s powerful debut memoir, is perhaps the next runaway sensation, the succession to Educated (2018) by Tara Westover. Both memoirs are stories of triumph, resiliency, and audacity. Both girls blaze from the confines of their fundamentalist Christian upbringings to shelter identities separate from their groups. They escape their families and communities in quests to […]

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