Is Your Religion Actually A Cult?

Recently, there have been a few shows featuring people who have turned their back on the religion they were raised in. They expose the secrets within, even at risk to their own safety. I give them all the credit in the world. Everyone needs a voice to speak up for them when no one else will. Thousands feel stuck inside the confines of their religion due to fear and the policy of getting shunned. On the other hand, some may wonder why they’re so unhappy even when they’ve devoted their entire lives to their religion. Instead of being in a healthy religion, they’ve unknowingly been involved with a cult.

Here are some characteristics of a cult:

  • The leaders give themselves an important title and are overly charismatic. They profess to be God’s spokesmen and claim to receive direction from him. They say bitethey’re the only true religion, make empty promises of perfection, and proclaim doomsday on mankind.
  • There are thousands of mandates to follow. Unquestioning loyalty is their motto. Women are to be in subjection to husbands under all circumstances, even abusive.
  • Recruitment is a main goal. Spending many hours each month preaching is required. Members are kept extremely busy with church meetings and studying. Life and people outside of the group are viewed as ungodly, immoral, and altogether bad association. Newly converted ones have to cut ties with family members and old friends. If someone leaves the group or are expelled, they must be shunned.

For children raised in a religious cult, the only reality they know is cult-related. They trust that their parents, family, and friends have led them down the right path. Because of this, many get baptized as a child.

How do people who weren’t raised in a cult or were never religious get sucked in? People who are at a low point in their life, have low self-esteem, or have a bad home-life are most vulnerable. They are drawn in by a promise of peace, perfection, and having answers to all of life’s difficult questions. As soon as they’re introduced to the congregation, they are “love-bombed” by everyone in the group. It is attractive to suddenly have many friends who all seem to be taking care of each other, even if their love is conditional.

Why do members willingly stay in a religion that dictates every aspect of their life? Simply put, they don’t know, because they’re being brainwashed and mind controlled. Leaders will do anything to keep their members in, including lying by omission, inducing fear, and keeping them very busy. There may be incentives for listening faithfully, like gaining a position and being looked up to. In turn, you may be excommunicated for not listening.

Even when a member realizes that their religion is teaching false doctrine or is corrupt in some way, it can be very difficult and intimidating to leave. Strict shunning may be one of the consequences. For a person who was raised in a cult, they may have no otherhiding family or friendships outside of it. Leaving would mean losing everyone you’ve always known and loved, and starting completely over- many times without a good job or college degree. For members that joined as an adult, it can be difficult or humbling to admit that a religion you left your family and friends for was actually wrong.

So, are you in a cult? Only if you are honest with yourself can you answer that question. No one should be emotionally manipulated into staying in a group they don’t like or agree with. In the outside world, no one secludes themselves with one group, but they have friends with different opinions and lifestyles. Above all, parents should always show unconditional love to their kids. Kids should never feel that at any point their parents will shun them. Yes, it takes courage to free yourself and your family, but from my own experience, it is the best decision you’ll ever make.





Featured image by Luis Mariano González and Getty Images

BITE Model image by Steven Hassan


5 Reasons We Sent Our Kids To School

This past year marked our third year homeschooling. During the summer months, we decided it was time to reevaluate our options. Overall, we enjoyed homeschooling. I taught my oldest two to read and write, we did fun science experiments together, and bonus  we could take long breaks whenever we needed. But, it was time to make some changes and send them to school.

Here are the reasons:

  1. They needed friends. Aside from neighborhood friends, they were lonely. During the school year, when their friends were in school, they had no one to play with. Now they enjoy being surrounded by classmates all day.
  2. I was burned out. After staying home full time for 8 1/2 years and homeschooling also, I never carved much time out for myself. My kids were there 24/7. Having a few hours of quiet has brought back my sanity. I can go shopping by myself (imagine!), write without interruption, and get that degree I’ve always wanted.
  3. No one could concentrate. Trying to teach one child while the others were throwing tantrums, asking for food, or dirtying their diaper was near impossible. Fortunately, their classrooms are small, and there is little distraction.
  4. They needed a break from each other. One thing is sure: sending them to school has given them the space they needed and craved. Instead of being together in the house all day, they’ve enjoyed making their own friends and having a separate schedule than their siblings. Earning awards from school has made them proud. There’s less fighting, and they’re happier.
  5. They needed more structure. Let me be clear: sleeping in, focusing on subjects they loved, and moving at their own pace was wonderful. But, every day was completely different. Since they were too young to do schoolwork on their own, I had to focus on one child at a time. They each ended up having a lot of free time during the day. School has given them a more concise schedule.

While this was our situation, I realize everyone has their own. Every family has a right to decide what learning environment works best for them. We are happy that we had the opportunity to teach them ourselves, but have found school to be much more enjoyable for everyone. And, luckily, the school we chose keeps parents involved. Happy, healthy kids and parents should be a priority in whatever decision you make.

What type of schooling works best for your family? Share in the comments!


Featured image credit: Jon Hart 


Top 5 Things Parents Hear In The Car

Whether it’s a half hour trip or 1000 miles, trips in the car with kids are exhausting. After an hour, even I start complaining about needing a stretch break.  I can only imagine being strapped in a five point harness seat for any amount of time. Kids are in need of constant distraction in order to make it to your destination. Some of the distractions are legitimate, while others…not so much. Here are the top 5 things you are most likely to hear in a car full of kids:

1. “Can we watch a movie?”

Remember the days before all the fancy entertainment options available in today’s cars? The first time I saw a van with a built in TV and VCR, my young mind nearly exploded with the possibilities. Road trips in a vehicle like that would be AMAZING. No more would I have to pass the time watching for road signs with mileage numbers on them or staring at the clock and counting down the minutes until we arrived. Fast forward about 15 years to the first major road trip we took with One (who was then about 18 months). We drove 1200 miles to Panama City Beach, Florida over the course of 3 days. It was brutal. We had purchased a portable DVD player specifically for the trip, and I’m convinced it was the only reason we made it down there with our sanity intact, although it did begin experiencing issues on day 3 about 2 hours from our hotel. Those final 2 hours with an exhausted and travel-weary baby and nothing to distract her were some of the longest of my life. On the first day of the return trip, the DVD player gave up completely. We pulled off at the next exit and bought a new one. We had officially gone soft. No more would we subject ourselves to travel in a vehicle with kids without a sleeve of movies to back us up. Thank goodness for Blu Ray/DVD combo packs. To the person responsible for this brilliant idea: thank you! Seriously. I get to leave a copy of each new movie in the car full-time. I pick a random DVD, and peace and quiet ensues, right? If only! My kids have a big difference in tastes when it comes to movies. There are only a few they’ll agree on, which makes negotiation very difficult and drawn out.

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It Won’t Always Be This Way


Pregnancy:  We are so excited to see those two pink lines on that stick!  But, as the months go on, the morning sickness settles in.  The last few months, it gets harder to get off the couch and my feet swell so much, I have can only fit in slippers.  The gynecologist visits become more frequent and more uncomfortable.  Friends assure me, “Baby will be here soon.  It won’t always be this way.”

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quit motherhood header image

5 Reasons I Want to Quit Motherhood (Sometimes)

Some days I wish motherhood came equipped with a big red EJECT button.  Like when things get hairy, I could just mash that sucker and watch the flaming wreckage of my crappy day plummet back to Earth while I drift ever so gently down to—well, probably down to the general vicinity of the crash site, to fix everyone snacks and collect their charred laundry.  Because I’m a mom.

It goes without saying that I love my family more than anything, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t days where I’m not frantically searching for that big red button, a parachute, or one of those bus-pull-cord-thingies—something to get me off this crazy ride.

Motherhood and I don’t always get along, and here are 5 reasons why:

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It's Not Mine

It’s Not Mine – OPA Chat Archive

Monte:  Someone in this office has issues.

Me:  What?

Monte:  So at least once per week for the past few weeks I’ve gone into the men’s room and found a ginormous dump in one of the stalls.  In my stall!

Me:  You have a stall?

Monte:  Yeah, so.  And somebody keeps wrecking it.  Like poop sticking up above the water line.  What is wrong with people?  Are you 8-years-old?  How do you just forget something like that?  FLUSH THE TOILET!

Me:  He probably doesn’t want to clog it.

Monte:  I flushed it.  I always flush it.  It’s one of those toilets that flushes so hard it splashes water on the floor.  I flushed it like 6 times and it still didn’t go down.  Also, there was no paper in the bowl.  So somewhere around here is a guy who just took a King Kong size dump, didn’t wipe, and didn’t flush.  Who does that?  If the building was on fire I could still manage those 2 things.

Me:  That’s disgusting.  I wouldn’t have even bothered with that.

Monte:  It was stinking up the whole place.  I can understand once, but this person has problems.  There’s only so many guys on this floor, and I know it’s someone here, because it happens way too often.  I better not find out it’s one of those guys from sales coming down here to blow up our men’s room, or it’s on.  I was trying to flush that junk when someone walked in.  It smelled like an outhouse in there.  I just walked away and was like, “It’s not mine.”

Me:  You’re so weird.

For more chat’s, click here.

Featured image credit:  Shawn Clover via Flickr

lego emmet

Become a Master Builder – 5 Essential Strategies for Building Legos With Your Kids

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now.  I always have, and always will refer to little plastic bricks of Danish origin, as Legos.  If that word gets your leather shorts in a bunch like it does everyone at LEGO headquarters, we probably can’t be friends.  Are leather shorts in Denmark even a thing?  Maybe that’s Germany.  What’s Denmark?  Clogs? Vikings??


Look, I’m all for some healthy nerd rage from time to time, but I’ll be in big trouble if I start a flame war on my very first post, so take that mess somewhere else.  Here at OPA we play with Legos.  Like it or lump it.

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