50 Years of NOT Ending Religious Human Trafficking

In August of this year, there will be an Alaska seminar to help educate law enforcement and local government, along with state citizens,  about Sam Fife’s Move of God cult, still very strong and yearly using state funds and subsidies for their own profit while religiously trafficking humans through free labor and mind control.  This cult is not just doing this in Alaska, but also in Georgia and other locations in the United States as well as other countries.  Because of this seminar, I decided to join a group filled with residents of Fairbanks, Alaska.

The subjects of cults arose when one of the group members recently posted this:

OKAY I have a question… every year around the same time I always end up having these kids come to my place of work. They claim they are fundraising for mission trips through their church. They try to sell ornaments or this year they were selling cheap cheesy holographic posters for $20…Yesterday, a boy came in and I gave him $5 hoping he would leave. He then continued to walk around asking [people] for money. WHO are these kids and WHAT church is this?? I really do think this is just a scam and I’m genuinely concerned about these kids who walk around town for money. Is this a cult? Are these kids kidnapped and being forced to ask for money. I am genuinely wondering if anyone has any information on this as it reoccurs every year and it is dangerous for kids to wander around Fairbanks asking for money.”

Someone in the group decided to investigate and was able to find out the following:

They are Moonies. Yes. They are still around. One was scamming at the Post Office last year and I went in and told the clerk there was a Moonie soliciting in the Post Office and he didn’t even know what a Moonie was.”

Out of everything I read in this particular group thread something stood out to me the most.

He didn’t even know what a Moonie was.”

In case you don’t know what a Moonie is, here is their Official Website.

As an activist who is very focused on doing work regarding the specific cult which abused me; a cult which is still in full operation; Sam Fife’s Move of God, I cannot understand why there are no activists interested in the grave problem facing these religiously trafficked children. So many questions swirl in my head when I think of all these kids.

Where are the ex-Unification Church/Moonies who are focusing in on their own ex-cult, since they would know their system best?

Why do law enforcement, government officials or social services not know about the issue of religious child trafficking? Why aren’t there education seminars for this? What the hell have cult experts been doing for the last 60 years?

I messaged Steve Hassan, an ex-Moonie/Unification Church cult leader and a self-prescribed cult expert. Mr. Hassan has been on national television talking about various cults in the news, mainly Scientology. Mr. Hassan has also dealt with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I was and still am very interested in understanding why an ex-Moonie, who seemingly cares about the cult problem, is not actively involved in focusing on the children of his ex-cult; a cult using child labor trafficking for profit.

I decided to message Mr. Hassan to hopefully receive some honest and forthright answers for my questions.

May 24, 2018

Hi Steve,

I am currently writing an article about religious child trafficking. It was inspired by a post in an Alaska group I’m a part of, where someone witnessed dozens of children selling certain items around parking lots and stores. After investigation, it was found out the children were Moonies who were bused all over to different cities in America to make money for the Unification Church.

A common question which was directed at me was why no one was doing any work to help these children.

With you being an ex-Moonie and cult expert, I plan to mention you in the article. So I wanted to pose the questions and give you an opportunity to respond in your own words.

1. Have you done any work with the federal government in regard to religious child trafficking such as what is the practice of the Moonies using child labor?
2. Do you know of anyone who specifically zeroes in on this cult with focused time to fight it?
3. Have you ever testified in a trial against the Moonies for child trafficking?
4. Can you educate the reader on your understanding of why the federal government allows for or doesn’t fight against the religious trafficking of children?
5. In your opinion, what is a plausible solution to begin protecting these children?
Thank you in advance for your time.

I received this response, not from him, but from someone who is an administrator at their Freedom of Mind organization.

Dear Vennie,

Thank you for contacting Freedom of Mind.
How did you hear about us?
Have you read Steven’s book Combating Cult Mind Control, 2016 edition?
Are you a freelance writer? Do you have an agreement with any major news outlets to publish your article?
Have you contacted the National Human Trafficking Hotline?
Please reply when you have a moment.

There I was, staring at a response promoting a book and asking me if I’d contacted the Human Trafficking Hotline.  I was left with an even deeper curiosity of why Mr. Hassan had worked on other aspects of human trafficking, but the issue of the trafficking of the Moonie children was nowhere to be found.

As an author and activist myself, I would have openly shared the work I’m doing in regard to my ex-cult. I would have shared what other survivors are doing. I would have been concerned and thanked the person for bringing it my attention, because why wouldn’t I want to “combat” religious child trafficking still happening in my ex-cult? I’m currently working toward a campaign targeted at changing laws; something that cult experts should have done decades ago.

I explained in my reply that I am an activist, author and blogger; had conference presented before, was familiar with Mr. Hassan’s book and offered my website for further exploration of me on their end.  I then stated:

I’m specifically looking for direct quotes from him, if he’s willing as an ex-Moonie to answer the questions I sent since that is what I am writing the article about, in order to understand what past and current work has been done specifically by ex-members of the group. 

I was met with silence. Not another response or word, and as I began to research the patterning of cult experts, I understood why. Most of the self-identified cult experts are adults who helped start cults.  Some of them have even capitalized on studying what they started or helped start.  Yet, I couldn’t find work any of them had done to change laws which would help to protect the child victims of cults; like ending religious exemptions laws; laws which allow for faith-healing into death, a problem currently being fought in Idaho, helping work on legal bills which would demand stricter child abuse laws or supporting individuals who do actively work to figure out how to change these laws and deal with current religious cults practicing child labor trafficking.

I realized when it came to activism, there really wasn’t any.  There was just academics for other academics, publications not being used to change laws; and even worse, publications passed off as “new”, which were actually filled with recycled information from years past. How disheartening to see such capitalization on the suffering of humans.

In my extensive research, I have not found anyone in the last 50 years, associated with work to investigate extremist cults, or who identifies themselves as cult experts, aside from Jan Heimlich, author of Breaking Their Will, who has zeroed in on the cusp of the problem; religious child trafficking. In my quest to find a group doing active work to change LAWS; to focus in on the criminality of this issue, I have continuously hit dead ends. If anyone has been overlooked, by all means message me. I’d love to connect with you.

Linda Martin of Silent Cries has a poignant quote. “We don’t want your academics. We want action.”

When I first entered the anti-cult society, I had expectations. I expected to find dedicated activists who had been working to change laws that would protect children. I expected to find support. I expected to find people who really cared about finally getting to hear the voices of us cult children. I expected to find people who were truly interested in knowing how some of us went through so much torture to come out strong, out here fighting against the people who hurt us.

I did not find that. I found an inflated, regurgitated, extremely wordy, academic publication library, which seemingly was more geared toward studying and building “models” for their own problems, the ones many of them helped create in their younger days.  Has this been their way of paying penance, to study what they were apart of and/or helped create? They are seemingly clueless in regard to the true depth of what we cult children have experienced, and they’re seemingly only willing to listen for a fee.

I found gossip and manipulative behavior. I found individuals who were grossly damaged and still deeply rooted in their own trauma base, yet passing themselves off as therapists. I quickly learned that a degree in psychology does not a therapist make, and a PhD doesn’t guarantee a person’s ethical system. Anyone can earn a degree. Anyone can learn anything they wish to learn.  However, applying it in a manner which creates growth, healing and radical change is what truly earns my respect.

I found an anti-cult society who in essence needed you to vote like them, be like them, believe like them, act like them, do what they say, take counseling from them, read all of their very dry and boring books and stay the little victim cult children we’re supposed to be, because that makes for better earnings and for some, ratings. The more damaged the survivor, the better, it has seemed; that way you’ll keep coming back; keep spending the money; keep the organizations alive and give the experts something to keep themselves relevant.

I say with open criticism that in my experience the current cult experts are the people who helped sensationalize the problem of extremist belief and now want to charge us victims a fee to heal from the aftermath of that same problem.

I found a refusal to truly hear what we cult children have to say, some of it critical of their lack of action over the last 50/60 years. They hold no accountability, but they’ll hold our money at a conference, and they’ll feature presentations at that conference, geared toward cult children in order to reel in these unsuspecting cult children to pay for that conference.

This, as I have experienced, is somewhat of a racket, what I now view as the “cult of the anti-cult world“. Their love bombing tactics are outrageous. Their shunning tactics are even worse, should you dare question or have a critical statement that goes against their self-made, elitist society. The personal behaviors of some of the leaders are appalling. The acceptance of these activities by those who stand by and/or fence sit is complacently just as bad.

I could tell you many disgusting stories of a final anti-cult conference I attended, where donation envelopes were lain out on a table. A symbol of tithing at an anti-cult seminar? Shocking, really. I sat in the bar at the hotel as the adult cult children spilled out of the conference room, talking among themselves, enraged at what they’d seen. I listened to all of their complaints. The emotion seemed to quickly pass for them. Even survivors who swore on that day that they’d never give another dime to this organization, have messaged me asking me if I’m going to this organization’s conference this year. Absolutely no way. I said it then, and I say it now, that I won’t support unethical people or organizations after I have personally witnessed their behavior.

I do look back on any negative experience with a severance of thankfulness, because when I get to see the reality of what something or someone is, I have just been protected in my own way of going forward. I have just been handed a crossroad which is curved in my favor because truth has been revealed.  It’s up to me to take the proper path, even if I take it alone, or with a very small group of others.  Some say there is strength in numbers.  I say there is just strength, and the strongest have resiliency for the long run. I say there is strength in the willingness to stand up against non-action and to reveal truth in a critical way, even if it results in more shunning and more blow back.

I recently heard this from one cult expert:

“Anyone can join a cult. Anyone in a vulnerable position can join.”

In regard to adults, this is somewhat truth.  However, this is an incorrect absolute which rules out children.  Children do not get lured or willingly join cults. They are born into them or like myself, are taken into them at a very young age. Experts are seemingly virtually lost when it comes to deeply understanding the reality of the child cult experiencers. It’s an unfortunate dynamic, since many of us have much to share if only these experts placed their egos aside long enough to listen.  We could tell how we survive each day; what we go through; how we cope; how we’ve integrated ourselves; how we become happy and even more, how so many of us have found healing.

After a local psychologist read Cult Child she shared with me that it was the first of its kind for her, since it is a book written from the first person viewpoint of the child, giving a very poignant view of what it’s like to live in the mind of an abused kid. Stories I wrote of being just nine and brutalized sexually in a potato dugout, then straightening my skirt and lugging the pail of potatoes back to the kitchen to keep working allowed her to know my thoughts during this incident, for instance. Details that are important for people who want to work with children or adult children who have survived abuses in these very specific environments can be found in the understanding of the way we think.

I find that most therapists reading my story are people completely unrelated to cults, yet wanting to learn about us since there are more and more of us children seeking therapy.  My story isn’t only for cult children.  It is helpful for all kids who’ve suffered sexual, physical and mental abuse in differing situations.  To know us, is to really understand how we think as we are being abused.  To understand us is to read our stories.

Even the experts can’t answer pertinent questions as to why there are no legal ramifications against religious human trafficking specifically, steering clear of the subject to focus on non-religious human trafficking.

When therapists are open to listening, that is when learning happens. A therapist who is not learning from their patient, may not be an open-minded therapist.

Children and adults are being religiously trafficked on a daily basis. When a cult expert was contacted, the response to me was an attempted book sale and a referral to a hotline who, after some discussion, knows very little about working with cults specifically, which gave me a new understanding of where more work is needed. So the call was fruitful and opened a doorway for me.

The young girls and boys who walk all day to evangelize in neighborhoods are not paid for their work. The young boys and girls selling wares in parking lots are many, not even old enough to be working.  Where is the fight against this religious trafficking?

I’ll never forget what was once said to me at a cult conference. “We are here as a resource hub, not to rescue children in cults.” In the chambers of the cult child world, we call these people the Talamasca of religions/cults.

After observing the lack of activism and the Hollywood chase by the anti-cult world, I knew that this society, made up mainly of ex-cult members and religious minded individuals selling their own brand of faith, was not where I would find the people doing active work, as I originally believed. I swiftly changed my direction, and I found where the action is happening, a society of individuals who were abused kids just like me, yet in different scenarios.  I have met more ex-cult children in this arena than anywhere. I was surprised to find that the majority of adult cult kids are also in an arena more focused on sharing their experiences and healing.

I met an amazing cult family at one of my local shelters where I went to donate some copies of Cult Child, and I was able to get on their list as an emergency contact for cult families specifically. It means I will drop what I’m doing if possible and come to support and listen to their experience with understanding, should a cult family arrive at the shelter and need support. I deeply connect with the children, because I understand how scary the world is after growing up or being taken into a cult. They needed to talk to someone who is like them. I can speak their language. This is where we adult cult kids have so much to offer in this arena.  I urge cult survivor children to make contact, if at all possible, as shelters are always looking for volunteer support people.  Those of us having cult experience as children are the best suited to connect and support these children.

There is a small army of us who refuse to be compliant with the old guard, anti-cult society’s need for control and the dictating of what the truth of child cult survival is like. We stand on the side observing, waiting, watching to see if action follows their attempts to momentarily sensationalize various stories. We wait, because after they are done, after networks have made their money off of the sales of commercial slots, giving little back to those individuals who shared their heartache openly, who have families to support, trying to send children to school, pay bills each month and live the every day semantics of life and have to return to their regular lives and keep moving on and surviving in this world, we will still be here, strong, to step in where we should have been asked to step in right from the beginning.

It is these observations which keep me proudly independent and unafraid to criticize or be criticized.

I also encourage you to find your local CASA chapter and join to be a child advocate specifically for cult children. This is a need in many communities across America.  It can also be a very cathartic process when our hearts are open and understanding with these children.  Change starts with action. Let’s end religious human trafficking.

Remember that there are many generations of cult children who exist.  The cult of Christianity helped found America.  So the trauma of cult life is centuries old.  There is no title to fit that.  I know an adult who is a fifth generation child born into a cult.  Every cult survivor is different.  There is no one model to fit us.  There may be a model to fit individuals who start and help start cults, but there is absolutely no one system which will ever apply in regard to the coping mechanisms and healing for the victims they left behind.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and other publications. She is a also a poet and hostess of the podcast Survivor Voices Show.

Hourglass

There’s a faded line
Between reality and time I
Catch myself remembering rejection
Straddling a log fence watching
Them play and laugh and shout
Odd girl out
Too loud

I used to be an expert at stilts
Stride the mud like a queen
I could do anything
If I just believed but
I never prayed hard enough to
Make God real and
It would be a version of
Drop Dead Fred who
Emerged the memories in my head

Do you know the flashes
That leave gashes behind your eyelids
Ask a soldier if he can forget
The blood of war then
Ask me if I can erase
The horror of flailing bodies
And belt straps stripping skin

No
We don’t forget

We learn to live occasionally laughing and
We hide the burning in our throat
The angst that never goes away
We become quiet
Learn to fake it
To not ruin moments
Become awkward
We pass the bread and wine
Close our eyes to the sighs
As we lose track of time

We hope we don’t carry on
The aftermath of our dysfunction
Watch our children struggle
As we cry in silence

To do it over, take the pain
Would I endure it again
The lashes and shunning
The fear and repentance for
Deeds confused and undone
Would I die again just to be here
Take the scourging of my flesh
To understand the depth
That loneliness can sink a soul
I don’t know

I am back walking paths
Running to escape shadows
Hiding behind trees and
The demons who will enter me
So they preach and I
Reach my arms to the moon

Take me home
I want to leave this place where
The babies cry and fathers weep as
Mothers scrape together meals
Where humans have forgotten to feel

Take me back
I want out of this mission
I am missing starlight and quiet
The soft green beneath my
Weeping willow tree
You promised me

I am watching sand fall slowly
Motion reversed I am poised
Rehearsed for the scene
But if I told you that
My ears can’t take the screams
And my heart can’t take the weight
Would you hold me

Would you softly kiss the spot
Above my heart and
Understand the sadness without
Judgement or coldness
Would you encase my face and
Tell me I’m safe

Because you see I am just
A little girl lost and
Sometimes I am tired, weak
Battle torn and worn
Longing for touch

So I sit beneath the pines
Write poetry lines and
Breathe in the rain because
Water washes pain and
I am an hourglass waiting it out
Until the last drop
Turns me on my end and
I restart this life again.

©VennieKocsis

My Journey into Disbelief

I was born into this world doctrine free. My father was an agnostic lover of physics, and while my mother was raised Pentecostal Christian, she neither practiced the religion nor incorporated religion into our home. However, when my father started working on military projects which kept him away from home for sometimes weeks, my mother became open prey for a cult recruiter who so infused herself into my mother’s life that at three years old, I was forced into the extremist Christianity written about in my memoir, “Cult Child”.

As a child and into adulthood there was a constant war going on inside of me. This conflicted feeling existed naturally in me, both while living in the cult and transitioning into mainstream society as a teenager. My instinct was telling me that this Christian belief system was not authentic, but fear of a place called Hell held me inside of the belief system well into my early twenties.

While attending college in the early 90’s, I read “The Witching Hour” by Anne Rice. This book ignited something in me. There were traits in Ms. Rice’s characters which felt familiar to me; traits such as hypersensitivity and the ability to feel what others were feeling; seeing into people, and there were memories of my childhood which surfaced after reading the book. Because the cult sequestered me so far away from society, my hunger for knowledge delved me deeper into supernatural subjects.

I wavered for a while, still gripped at times by the fear of not believing in God and being sent to live with the demons in hell. I also found that I turned to Christianity when things didn’t go right in my life hoping that if I just believed more, things would change for me. When that did not happen, I explored deeper into paganism, pulling out pieces of my European historical roots. It was during this time I felt I was starting to put my fragmented existence back together.

Paganism led me to Santeria, a short study of Voodoo, Satanism and Shamanism. I curiously peeked into Mormonism and what the Muslims believed. I explored mainly for knowledge, thirsting to know all of the different paths which existed; paths I never was allowed to discover on my own. I delved into my Cherokee history and my connection to nature and the planet. I stuck my toes into Yogi and Osho, checked out the Buddha and jumped on the awakening and oneness trains. Yet, something interesting was happening to me.

I was definitely awakening. I was waking up to myself. Thirty years after being taken into a cult and losing all of my identity through an indoctrination which restricted my critical thinking, I regained my mind, deprogrammed myself and realized that I actually did not need a belief system which involved group think. In fact, to be who I am, I did not need a belief system at all.

So who am I? I am a non-believer who doesn’t worship anything or anyone. I journeyed deeply into disbelief, and what I found there was my free and clear mind. What I found inside of disbelieving was a knowing that empathy is inside of my DNA, not my belief system. For me, there is no reason to wonder where I came from or where I am going, but instead to be present inside of what I am doing right now, being mindful to the needs of others and defining my own boundaries of self love. In this space is a peace that no belief system has ever brought me.

“Victim Speaks Out, While Cult Leader Awaits Trial”

“Told in a restrained but highly effective style, reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro’s brilliantly understated bestseller “Never Let Me Go”, “Cult Child” provides frightening insights into the methods and after-effects of religious coercion. Her fortress is no bigger than the space between her ears; but through quiet internal resistance, Sila halts her opponents and outlasts their ten year siege.”

Read more:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2014/10/victim-speaks-out-while-cult-leader-awaits-trial/

M. Dolon Hickmon is a freelance columnist for The Freethinker and OnFaith. He explores the intersections of religion and child abuse in essays published around the web, as well as in the pages of his critically acclaimed novel, 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession. You can follow his writing on Twitter @TVOS1324.