Cover art for podcast Let's Talk About Sects

Let's Talk About Sects

62 EpisodesProduced by Sarah SteelWebsite

Let's Talk About Sects is an award-winning monthly podcast focusing on a different cult each episode. Sarah takes a storytelling, deep dive approach, looking at the history of a sect's leaders, the recruitment of members, their experiences, psychological aspects, and notable incidents during its exi… read more

62 Episodes | 2017 - 2023

Interview Episode: Rosanna Overcomer

May 2nd, 2023


Gloriavale Christian Community has been in the news recently in New Zealand for court cases around labour and servitude, and there are further cases happening as well. To understand more about the history of the …

Divine Madness

April 11th, 2023


Divine Madness Running Club boasted some spectacular results in ultramarathons and became known for their excellent support teams and low-impact …

The Ishayas' Ascension / The Bright Path

March 14th, 2023


Carolyn Millemon learned about a form of meditation called ‘Ascending’ at a weekend workshop in Western Australia when she was 21. A couple of years …

Interview Episode: Matthew Klein

March 7th, 2023


Matthew Klein’s story is featured on the podcast Inside the Tribe, and Matt sat down with LTAS for a chat about what he learned from his time in the …

Brisbane Christian Fellowship

February 14th, 2023


Brisbane Christian Fellowship sounds like a fairly innocuous name for a church. But the BCF and its network of organisations across Australia have been the subject of a Four Corners investigation and a detailed book, …

MOVE Philadelphia

January 17th, 2023


MOVE Philadelphia made headlines in 1978, when police and MOVE members ended up in a prolonged siege and a gunfire exchange that left a police …

Bob Barlow's "Truth"

December 13th, 2022


There’s a group in regional Queensland that claims to have no name. Members meet in each other’s homes on Wednesdays and Sundays. They don’t have any of their beliefs written down, though they do sing hymns from a …

Interview Episode: Uncultured with Daniella Mestyanek Young

November 29th, 2022


Daniella Mestyanek Young was born into the Children of God, as was her mother before her. She left as a teenager and put herself through school and …

Interview Episode: Inside the Tribe with Tim Elliott

November 22nd, 2022


Many people around the world would have come across the food produced by the Twelve Tribes through their Common Ground market stalls and bakeries or …

The Logos Foundation

November 15th, 2022


The Logos Foundation was often described as ‘mysterious’ in media coverage, but became a part of the religious right that published full page …

Interview Episode: Cult Trip with Anke Richter

November 8th, 2022


Anke Richter is an international journalist and author based in NZ. Over time she’s found herself covering more and more cults, to the point where …

Interview Episode: Issues in Coaching and Wellness with Kathleen Oh

November 1st, 2022


Kathleen Oh is a rare breed: a wellness coach who is cynical about wellness and the coaching industry. She works with clients across integration and psychedelics education. Kathleen is trained in Internal Family Systems …

Interview Episode: Dr Janja Lalich

October 21st, 2022


Dr Janja Lalich is a Professor Emerita of Sociology at California State University, Chico. She has written multiple world-renowned books on cultic …

Interview Episode: Gloriavale with Noel Smyth & Fergus Grady

October 15th, 2022


When widespread abuse is uncovered at a New Zealand cult, a family must turn to the legal system in an effort to save themselves and their community …

Twin Flames Universe

October 8th, 2022


Twin Flames Universe promises devotees a path to ascension through finding their ultimate lover, and building a permanent, harmonious union. But …

Interview Episode: Avi's Story

October 2nd, 2022


In January 2018, Avi started seeing a new psychologist in Melbourne, Australia. She'd experienced childhood trauma, and wanted to get some help with …

The New Gnostic Society

September 1st, 2022


Samael Aun Weor claimed that he could remember his own birth, and had identified the only true path to spiritual development. Crucial to his religion …

Interview Episode: A Little Bit Culty

July 26th, 2022


Sarah Edmondson is an actor, voice over artist and activist who spent 12 years in NXIVM, rising from student to coach to eventually running her own …

Bonus Episode: Do As I Say, Chapter One

June 8th, 2022


Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is published by Pan Macmillan Australia, and out on 28 June 2022. It will be available in audiobook, ebook and paperback. This is chapter 1, read by Sarah for the audiobook release.

Interview Episode: Counter Cult Coalition

April 19th, 2022


Lisa Kendall spent the ages of 9-19 in The Move of God, Sam Fife's Apocalyptic cult. Today, she devotes her time to working on policy changes that …

Interview Episode: KwaSizabantu

December 7th, 2021


KwaSizabantu means “the place where people are helped” in Zulu. Erika Bornman spent most of her childhood years at the KwaSizabantu Mission. Her …

Interview Episode: David Freeman – former child member of The Family

June 29th, 2021


David Freeman was handed over to Anne Hamilton Byrne at the age of two, when he went to live with the other children at The Family’s Lake Eildon …

Gloriavale – Part 2

April 20th, 2021


Gloriavale Christian Community is recognised around New Zealand for the distinctive dress of its members, especially the women, who wear headscarves to denote submission to men, and a neck-to-ankle garment designed by …

Gloriavale – Part 1

April 13th, 2021


Gloriavale Christian Community has found itself in the New Zealand media headlines on multiple occasions. Its founder was once jailed for sexual …

Zion Full Salvation Ministry

March 16th, 2021


Violet Pryor told her followers that she was God. They gave up their money and possessions to keep her in comfort. David Ayliffe became one of her …

Master's Commission

February 16th, 2021


As he was about to turn 17, Remy Attig was keen to get away from his parents’ fracturing marriage, and ready for something to give his life purpose. The Master’s Commission program seemed like just the thing to set him …

Exclusive Brethren – Part 2

January 19th, 2021


Lindy Jacomb was born into the Exclusive Brethren in Auckland, New Zealand, and was told there was no longer a place for her there in 2008. Her …

Exclusive Brethren – Part 1

January 19th, 2021


Lindy Jacomb was born into the Exclusive Brethren in Auckland, New Zealand, and was told there was no longer a place for her there in 2008. Her …

Fire This Time

December 15th, 2020


As a disaffected youth, Shannon Bundock was drawn to progressive ideas. In her late teens she moved into the city, to a poor neighbourhood in Vancouver, Canada, where she became hyper aware of the inequality all around …

The Welcomed Consensus + OneTaste – Part 2

November 24th, 2020


Natasha Tiku wrote for Gawker in 2013, “Everyone is interested in doing fun things with their bodies. But the impulse to systematize, replicate, …

The Welcomed Consensus + OneTaste – Part 1

November 17th, 2020


Natasha Tiku wrote for Gawker in 2013, “Everyone is interested in doing fun things with their bodies. But the impulse to systematize, replicate, …

Two by Twos / The Truth

October 13th, 2020


Laura McConnell was born into a fundamentalist Christian sect that claims it has no name. Former member Elizabeth Coleman told Nathan Jolly for …

Zendik Farm

September 15th, 2020


Helen Zuman describes herself as “a tree-hugging dirt worshipper devoted to turning waste into food and the stinky guck of experience into fertile, fragrant prose.” Her memoir ‘Mating in Captivity’ details her …

Interview Episode: Posadism with A.M. Gittlitz

July 21st, 2020


Journalist A.M. Gittlitz released his book I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism earlier this year. In it, he explores the fascinating world of the Posadists – a Latin American Trotskyist group who …

Children of God – Part 2

April 21st, 2020


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 …

Children of God – Part 1

April 14th, 2020


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 …

The Living Word Fellowship

March 17th, 2020


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 …

The New Kadampa Tradition

February 11th, 2020


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 …

The Garden Ashram

January 14th, 2020


Hare Krishnas are often seen as joyous, harmless people, dancing their way through the streets, chanting to bells in their colourful robes. But in …

Ideal Human Environment

December 17th, 2019


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 …

The Move

November 12th, 2019


Followers of The Move rejected mainstream society and headed into the wilderness in the 1970s, building isolated communities that were to set them up …

Universal Medicine

October 15th, 2019


Australian esoteric healing organisation Universal Medicine teaches that entities known as The Four Lords of Form rule over 9-foot-tall spirits that …


September 17th, 2019


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 …

Interview Episode: The Family update with Chris Johnston

July 18th, 2019


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 …

Chung Moo Quan

April 16th, 2019


Chung Moo Quan positioned itself as a superior martial arts school that taught eight different practices at once. Though this may have originally …

Order of the Solar Temple

March 12th, 2019


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 …

The Seaside Sect

February 12th, 2019


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 …

Joy Kuo & Iphigenie Amoutzias' Story

January 15th, 2019


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 …

Interview Episode: Grace J. Adams and Poia Alpha, Former Branch Davidians

December 18th, 2018


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 …

Outreach International – Part 2

November 20th, 2018


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 …

Outreach International – Part 1

November 13th, 2018


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 …

The Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought

October 16th, 2018


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 …


September 18th, 2018


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 …

Branch Davidians

April 17th, 2018


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 …

Interview Episode: Aum Shinrikyo update with Sarah Hightower

March 21st, 2018


Over recent days, several of the 13 incarcerated Aum Shinrikyo members sentenced to death have been moved to new facilities, prompting speculation …

The Order of St Charbel

March 13th, 2018


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 …


February 13th, 2018


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, …

Universal Knowledge

January 16th, 2018


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 …

Kenja Communication

December 12th, 2017


Ken Dyers passed away 10 years ago this year, but the organisation that he spearheaded with his partner Jan Hamilton lives on. In spite of a few parallels, this Australian organisation, called Kenja, has been listed as …

Aum Shinrikyo

November 14th, 2017


Twenty years ago this year, Japan was to become a nuclear wasteland, according to the leader of a sect who claimed that the only survivors would be …

The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

October 17th, 2017


Ugandan cult The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was one of the deadliest in world history, with the number of casualties …

The Family

September 19th, 2017


There is a 95-year-old woman in a Melbourne nursing home who dotes on a plastic baby doll. You wouldn’t guess it to look at her, but this is a woman …

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