I am begging those of you who can help me to do so.
To provide some personal context, I was Catholic but stopped attending church several years ago as my family fell out with the religion. Yet, I maintain a belief in the Christian faith in general. Oh, and to intensify my current predicament, I’m also a several-years-long sufferer of severe OCD. Including, but not limited to, scrupulosity. (If you’re unfamiliar, it’s religious/moral OCD. This disorder makes the following situation very, very, very, very bad for me.)
A few weeks ago, I was approached by a sweet-looking girl (one of many smiling, friendly, diverse, unsuspicious ladies dressed nicely and in a club t-shirt approaching women in the area) on my college campus when I was sitting alone at a table outside. I will call her One. She introduced herself to me and the “Bible club” she branded on her t-shirt, which would meet for what she referred to as “Bible studies” to run for 10–15 minutes per a study, supposedly. This club seemed very eager to reach out to the people outside where I was sitting (who I can now recall being only ladies, go figure)—I even had a couple more approach me shortly after One left to try to deliver the same schpiel. Still, I told them One had already handled it.
The only remotely farfetched detail she shared about the group’s beliefs at the time was that they believed in God the Mother and the Father. I took this in stride, assuming it was perhaps just some new progressive, feminist outlook. Maybe they were arguing that God has motherlike qualities on top of fatherlike ones, I thought, maybe arguing that He has no actual “gender,” that we can also call Him “Her” and “Mother” or something—I had no idea.
I have a tough time knowing when to and following through with saying “no” to someone or something. And I mean, this “club” and these women seemed genuinely sweet, innocent, optimistic, routine, etc., and I didn’t think it’d lead to a significant commitment of any sort; maybe they’d invite me to a quick Bible study or two. Plus, I believe that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps this was God’s attempt to lead me back in the right direction! As a culmination of these things, I was obliged to involvement within this “group” (Cult! It’s a cult! If I could go back in time, I’d have run for the hills!).
During this initial interaction, One handed me a club business card with her name and phone number. She also had me enter my phone number and name into her phone—I have a habit of being unnecessarily thorough (ties into the disorder above), so I filled out the First Name, Last Name, mobile phone number, and Nickname (where I entered my preferred name) fields. Therefore, this girl now has all of the previous information on me. One can use this to find my socials via contact, to search for me on sites like Spokeo—so many terrifying possibilities.
I have only gone to three Bible studies. Throughout them, I never really made up my mind to fully buy into the teachings—the stuff the group has taught me was palatable, comfortable, and hopeful enough to where I opened myself up to the possibility that the lessons might’ve been proper, but only the case. However, they seemed more authentic and more accurate with more studies.
The first Bible study was with One, which was short, as I had to leave for class soon after. Due to the time constraints, the “study” involved no Bible—simply this thin “Feed my Sheep” book, with which I’m sure several people on this forum are all too familiar. For those who aren’t, it teaches the so-called “church’s” ideals with words and graphics so painfully simple they’re even juvenile. On the cover, I noticed small Korean writing on the spine and top corner—I didn’t think anything of it. Since it was never mentioned by One, I also struggled to find the name of the denomination or church this group affiliates with on the front of the book; I thought I saw it on the bottom, but it was in small writing and very long, so I was unsure if it was the name of the church, or if could remember it to look into later. I ended up dismissing/forgetting about it for the moment, mainly because One did not mention, cover, or discuss anything too outlandish during study number one (I didn’t learn their strategy of slow-feeding the information the more invested you become until much later).
The study was just a basic introduction to the “God the Mother” concept—that the “Heavenly Mother” exists and that I must believe in her to receive eternal life. Also, the Sabbath day was Saturday. I had never before heard of Christian thinking these things, but it was easy enough so far—it must just be a rare denomination, right?
In the following study, she brought another girl from the group who seemed much more knowledgeable about the Bible and the group’s beliefs—referred to in this post as Two. Two essentially carried out this entire study independently, with one observing. Providing me with an NIV Bible, Two referred verses for me to flip to and read, and verses whose locations (and sometimes verbatim contents) she could recall from memory 99% of the time (I was impressed). The study cemented further the concept of the “promise of eternal life that God makes now and fulfills later,” the “Heavenly family,” how “there cannot exist a Father or children without a Mother,” how “life ultimately comes from the Mother,” all that. However, still no specific name of the church or denomination they followed.
Two was a wonderful and seemingly well-put-together woman—her Korean ethnicity and accent, I now know, were not trivial details. I also noticed, however, that this study lasted longer than the promised 10–15 minutes, as there wasn’t a time constraint this time—it was perhaps 30 minutes.
One invited me to a club meeting happening this previous Wednesday. I didn’t feel like attending this—as I mentioned, I wasn’t 100% on this belief system, which seemed just a tad too outlandish. Also, as I said, I didn’t expect or desire a full-time commitment to a club due to my schedule already being impossibly busy as a college kid with a problematic major who works out and has a part-time job.
My commitment to this organization mainly stemmed from my extreme compulsion to be polite and my fear of dealing with the anxiety and guilt I associate with rejecting somebody. This fatal flaw may or may not be related to OCD—I genuinely don’t know; most things about myself at this point are, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised. What I do know is a part of the morality portion of the disorder, however, is my obsession with being honest.
This obsession is why, even though I had a gap between classes during which I could’ve attended this meeting, I told One that I had a lot of homework and didn’t know if I’d be swinging by—a technically accurate statement. I then proceeded to work on said homework to feel like I had a “valid” excuse to bail, which I don’t think I would’ve done otherwise, as it was not due that night, and I am a chronic procrastinator. One attempted to find another time that day we’d both have had time to do a quick study; thank God there was not one, for had there been, I wouldn’t have been able to let myself lie or say “no.”
Shortly after Wednesday didn’t work out, One informed me that she had rented out a study room in the library for a “Bible study” on Friday—the last one that happened. We met there along with Two, and that’s where we had a session that was about 45 minutes to an hour long in a similar fashion to the previous study—Two taught from astounding memory, and then One read from two different “Feed my Sheep” books after Two had to leave.
Two taught that Earth is “a shadow of what’s to come in Heaven,” and what I decided was finally the real kicker: the whole “Passover” thing. All the stuff about how communion isn’t supposed to happen “whenever you want” as most churches do, but on “the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight,” and how you “have to keep the Passover to get into Heaven.” It has been an extremely long time since I’ve been to church, but even I know Christians do not celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover. Something was weird, and then I had two asking me if I would partake in Passover (to which I, of course, answered “yep!” because I agreed!), and I knew that that day would be the day I researched this whole thing.
Both One and Two took any questions I had. I came up with a couple on the spot to (You guessed it!) be nice. I just asked them to tell me more about Passover. Still, after Two had to go, I asked One straight-up which denominations or churches celebrate Passover instead of having communion. They STILL hadn’t given me the name of the sect or church that they affiliated with, and I was desperately curious. One got very shifty and avoided the question, for the most part, talking about how there aren’t denominations, but everything’s going to be “tied into one person,” who I would learn about later. Okay, no. That hit the nail in the coffin. I’m even more looking this up when they’re gone after hearing that.
So, as One read from her “Feed my Sheep” books, I took time to carefully, but without it being super noticeable, take note of what I suspected was the church’s name on the bottom of it. After going to class shortly after, I entered what I remembered from it into Google, found a hit online, and spent the entirety of the lecture doing my research.
Scrolling through Wikipedia, the news got worse and worse. Three false end-of-the-world predictions. They believe a random Korean couple is God. Lawsuits. Tie-ins with human/sex trafficking. Command F, “cult.”
I immediately texted my boyfriend. We have been together for five years, live with each other, and are very close. I spilled everything—I hadn’t brought up the “club” or “studies” before this moment. I was going back and forth between the messaging app and different sources of information about the atrocities of this cult and how it is, in fact, a LITERAL CULT. My boyfriend was BEGGING me, URGING me, not giving me ANY other option than to cut ties immediately. Mine was such a difficult situation that it overpowered my initial urge to do the “kind” thing and keep studying with the girls. It’s just going to lead to them telling me random old people are Jesus, them restricting my question-asking, Internet access, music-listening, them telling me that you have to do more than “believe in Mother God and keep the Passover” to go to Heaven, you have to do all this and that, you have to recruit ten people (Makes sense why they were urgently proselytizing now and doesn’t help my fear of leaving at all!). It’s going to lead to them draining me of all of my money and sleep, making me attend all these weird feasts and partake in days-long fasts, trying to BAPTIZE me into their “church,” forcing me to “preach” feverishly (But not to the homeless!). Looking tired is a sin! Making negative facial expressions is a sin! Oh my gosh. I need out, and I need it now.
The callous thing is, my extreme “politeness” and fear of rejecting others is why leaving this group will be especially hard—it caused me never to be outwardly skeptical towards the group, showing nothing but pure interest and belief and eagerness to move forward. Does this contradict my obsession with pure honesty, causing me mental anguish? I believe so, but that’s a different subject for an extra day.
I strongly feel that I need a way out that is inconspicuous. I wished for and tried to come up with a specific (but honest!) excuse for not being able to meet anymore that’s far removed from the reason that I do not believe in or agree with them. I don’t have my driver’s license yet—maybe I can start scheduling driving lessons that take up all the free time I had to devote to the cult! I proposed this concept to my boyfriend—he argued that I was overthinking it. I would say that you cannot have enough tact while writing a resignation notice for a cult.
I am only in contact with One, and she sent me a text a day ago asking for a reminder of the times I’m free on Mondays. My boyfriend insists that I text back that I realized the group “isn’t for me” and to thank them for everything, but essentially say that I have decided to discontinue “studying.” I feel like this is way too vague and can raise many suspicions in them about me doing my research, ESPECIALLY with how it’s a complete 180 after previously being only outwardly interested and on board. After everything I’ve learned about this cult, I strongly wish to avoid a “the jig is up” type of confrontation that reveals that I read about them on the Internet or know more than they’ve “taught” me. I usually am a very stand-up person, but I realize the sensitivity of this situation and that this is not the time or place for that manner. I know that the things they believe about the implications of Internet research on the cult are not valid. Still, I fear the chastising and stuff I would probably be told by them anyway, especially for my scrupulosity’s sake. It also might not come as a surprise to you after reading all of this that I don’t want any anger or negative feelings directed at me—simply at the unforeseen circumstance or uncontrollable obligation that arose in my life that “stole the opportunity” for me to continue my involvement with the group.
I’m just so scared about the “Internet is evil” thing. I’m afraid they’ll read this and know it’s me after reading the giveaway details (I read that members hypocritically monitor the Internet for retaliation). I’m scared of what they’re capable of doing and willing to do, especially with the personal details that they have of mine. I’m afraid.
What text do I send? I would love a word-for-word suggestion to get me as far away from this group as possible, as safely and smartly as possible, keeping in mind what this group does to ex-members (even though I didn’t get in so deep as to be baptized into it or anything—still).
I was going to include a TL;DR, but I need a response from an intelligent and informed person knowledgeable about this cult who’s willing to understand my entire situation and offer a reply taking everything into account. Thank you so much, whoever you are out there. You probably know more about me now than anyone else.
P.S. A 2018 thread in the Subreddit for my college about the cult appearing at my school encouraged reporting this group to campus security when seen. Still, a 2019 article in my college’s student-run newspaper covering their presence on campus claims that police can’t bar or ban them from campus because they haven’t done any illegal activity. I also verified they are an entire student organization (appears on the official student organization website for my college) run by real enrolled students (members have school emails for my college, and you have to be enrolled there to rent out a study room in the library). (It turns out that there are only five members, but they still count.) For these reasons, I will not report anything unless they harass me for leaving, but if you have any advice regarding this matter, I’d love to hear it!
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