You know what they say… $#!* happens. And, yeah, sometimes you accidentally join a cult.
Before I continue, I should note: this wasn’t one of those pill-popping, incestuous, murdery cults. Obviously, I would not go and join one of those!
The particular cult I accidentally joined was just your standard, run-of-the-mill, garden variety religious cult. And who among us hasn’t accidentally joined one of those?
Seven years ago we moved to England, to a very small town 25 miles west of London called Maidenhead. I was going to school, and my husband was working at a film studio, and apart from my classmates and his workmates, we did not have any friends to speak of, or to speak to. In an effort to amend this, we decided we should check out our local church. That Sunday morning we were greeted with welcoming smiles, handshakes, and the community we had been missing.
We started to attend the church regularly, mixing and mingling with some local, devout, god-fearing Brits. The services were short, and they served tea and biscuits. It was a win-win situation**.
A few weeks later, we met Ed and Buffy*. Ed and Buffy were church leaders, and they seemed like a very friendly and pleasant couple. They said they wanted to get to know us better, and invited us to dinner at their house. We of course, eagerly accepted, excited to make new friends.
The following Saturday we went to Ed and Buffy’s house for dinner. They pulled out all the stops with wonderful food, plenty of wine, and great conversation. We were really hitting it off, and I kept nudging my husband’s leg under the table as if to say, “We did it! We made some friends!”
But, what is a cult, really? It’s just a small group with questionable religious beliefs. But the problem is that sometimes you don’t realize that someone’s beliefs are totally, 100%, bat-$#!* bonkers until you’ve agreed to have coffee and dessert.
We were a few glasses of wine in, when Ed leaned on the table and said that we had been “brought” to their church for a reason… Ed said that all church members needed to recruit 12 non-believers, and cult-ivate*** them, as part of a “ladder to success.” Meaning, we needed to find 12 non-believers, help them become “believers,” and then help them to recruit their own 12 non-believers to cultivate. Ed said that church members should always do as they are told, never question the leaders of the church, and that we should not google any of this because, “there’s a lot of bad stuff posted about it on the internet.”
I nodded my head, and smiled, and said, “Uh huh,” but inside I was like, “Oh, $#!*.”
We ate the dessert (I mean, it was sticky toffee pudding so…), drank our coffees, and then got the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of there.
When we got home, I turned to my husband and said, “I can’t believe we accidentally joined a cult!”
My husband was very quick to point out that he had never actually accidentally joined a cult. He had always maintained a safe and suspicious distance, but he thought it was absolutely hilarious that I had.
And then we googled it… And yep, it was a cult.
* These were their actual names.
** Until it wasn’t.
*** I should have known – cult was right there in the word.