Claim Ownership


Author: Parcast Network

Subscribed: 144,788Played: 3,435,873


Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside a cult? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of people who join cults and leaders who start them? Every Tuesday, Greg and Vanessa (co-hosts of the podcast Serial Killers) explore the history and psychology behind the most notorious cults. Cults is part of the Parcast Network and is a Cutler Media production.
184 Episodes
In 1985, Monte Kim Miller was an anti-cult activist, speaking at churches to warn against brainwashing and manipulation—until he began using the same tactics he preached against to extort, coerce, and compel his own followers into radical behavior.
In 2017, news of Keith Raniere’s predatory sorority finally hit the airwaves. After disavowing any connection to the group, the 57-year-old cult leader read the writing on the wall and fled to Mexico. But authorities weren't going to allow him to avoid consequences that easily...
By 2006, 46-year-old Keith Raniere had made NXIVM alluring enough to attract billionaire heiresses and Hollywood actresses. But as women began defecting, he feared he was losing control—and in a bid to reassert dominance, created a predatory group known as DOS.
In 1999, after the collapse of Consumers Buyline, 39-year-old Keith embarked on a new business venture. But while the product he was selling changed, his approach remained the same. And soon, he began to prey upon the very students he had promised to help.
After acing an IQ test in 1988, 28-year-old Keith Raniere was able to brand himself “The Smartest Man in the World.” The moniker allowed him to seduce unappreciated businesswoman Toni Natalie, who would go on to help Keith grow the first of his predatory companies.
Founded in New Zealand in the late ‘60s, Gloriavale was supposed to be a sin-free utopia. But its leader, Neville Cooper, instead crafted a hellish prison rife with immorality. He imposed rigid rules and strict gender norms—and had a penchant for violently abusing his followers.
True crime fans: There’s a new Parcast original on the roster, and it’s packed with passionate opinions on the worst serial killers, creepiest cults, coldest cold cases, and all things criminal… Every Monday, co-hosts Ash and Alaina from the hit podcast Morbid rank ten true crime stories centered around a common theme—debating each case and their rankings with a hint of humor to lighten the mood. Enjoy this exclusive clip from our first episode of Crime Countdown! Then search Crime Countdown to find more episodes, free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts!
In 2004, Swedish Pastor Helge Fossmo used “spiritual shunning” to alienate and manipulate the congregation at his Pentecostal church. He convinced them to do whatever he asked, eventually coercing his mistress Sara into committing a string of wicked crimes.
In the mid-’90s, Pastor Helge Fossmo was hand-selected by the so-called “bride of Christ” to help lead a Swedish Pentecostal church. As he gained more authority, Fossmo's power went to his head, and he began doing whatever he wanted to get his way… eventually resorting to murder.
By the mid 1950s, Bruno Gröning was famous. Thousands flocked to the "Miracle Doctor" hoping that he would heal them with the power of his faith. However, just five years later, Bruno's mythos was already beginning to break down and he was beleaguered by scandals from all quarters.
In 1949, faith healer Bruno Gröning was thrust into the limelight after German newspapers reported he had cured a young boy of muscular dystrophy. However, with fame came increased scrutiny from the legal authorities...
As the 1980s began, Terri Hoffman and her followers seemed to be flying high. But after several people associated with Terri suffered mysterious deaths, her organization faced accusations of brainwashing, theft, and murder.
In the 1970s, Terri Hoffman went from high school drop-out to leading New Age mystic. Her Dallas-based organization, the Conscious Development of Body, Mind, and Soul, targeted affluent residents…and their wallets. But as her influence grew, so did suspicions about her shady practices.
In June of 1888, John Alexander Dowie moved his family to the United States to found the holy city of Zion. He envisioned the Illinois town as a paradise, but soon his immense wealth clouded his judgment, and Dowie came crashing down to Earth.
His drive for independence eventually led him to create a spiritual movement all of his own in the late 1800s. After founding the Divine Healing Association, John Alexander Dowie went from a discontented minister to a leading figure in Australia’s faith healer movement. But money and success would eventually be his downfall.
Founded by Charles “Chuck” Anderson in the Wisconsin Dells in 1992, Endeavor Academy was a religious group claiming to be able to lead its students to enlightenment. But as Endeavor’s public profile grew, so did the controversy surrounding it—with allegations of abuse that some claim drove multiple members to suicide.
Founded by software guru Frederick Lenz in 1981, the Rama Cult operated in the Los Angeles and Tri State areas until 1998. Lenz referred to himself as "Rama," and claimed to be able to lead his acolytes to wealth and enlightenment—but has been accused of psychologically manipulating those who trusted him most.
Founded by Gary Douglas in the 1990s, “Access Consciousness” went from a mystical meditation clinic to an international media empire. This movement attracted tens of thousands of followers a year, and eventually earned Gary an estimated net worth of $1.5 million dollars.
We are thrilled to bring you a brand new episode of Cults today and for the foreseeable future. We thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time. Operating in France from 2001 to 2004, members of the New Lighthouse Movement believed that after the apocalypse, humanity would ascend to heaven with the help of Aliens. This ascension could only be possible with the help of their founder, Arnaud Mussy.
He built the Dera Sacha Sauda by exploiting the people who trusted him most. Though news of Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s abuse first reached Indian authorities in 2002, his political connections kept him safe from arrest. But over the years, his violent fanaticism continued to escalate—until he couldn't hide anymore.
Comments (547)

Christine L

omg... could they mention how he's the "smartest man in the world" more often!?

Jul 28th

Shanaya Painter

Ew. Love bombing.

Jul 24th


Who the hell is Addison Ray? And why does she get a podcast that is advertised like 1000x on every Parcast podcast?!

Jul 24th
Reply (1)

Robin H

Honestly doesn't seem fair to cover this church on a show mainly about destructive cults, at least with the information included here. Still, this was very interesting to hear about, and it seems like a story that has less of a platform than it probably should.

Jul 22nd

Megan Langreck

the experts have weighed in to this case with a tendency to diagnose everyone.

Jul 21st

Megan Langreck

I am not comfortable with this man being judged to be "like Hitler".

Jul 21st

Maurice Sawyers

Cults are for idiots anybody who follows some goof willingly and does whatever they say without question shouldn't be allowed to have kids or drove a vehicle

Jul 21st

Michael Yaussi

Fascinating episode!

Jul 18th

Brittney O'Bryan

It cut off right at the end without completing the podcast. :(

Jul 17th

Powerstroke Chick

Will you possibly do a podcast about NXIVM?

Jul 15th

Spirit Siphon

"noxious corpse gas" lol that's not even a real thing and y'all didn't even bother to mention that? like yeah it's super stinky but contagious diseases require a living host and generally die shortly after the person does, long before decomposition. the biggest concern is fecal material from the corpse making it into drinking water and causing diarrhea. there is no such thing as "dangerous corpse gas" lmfao

Jul 14th

Sean Rosenau

Anybody can 'Speak in tongues'. Just start yelling gibberish.

Jul 9th

Robin H

Claiming Joseph Smith wasn't a cult leader, and that mormonism itself isn't a destructive cult is pretty laughable.

Jul 8th


Interesting story! Though I hope you consult with a Swede on the pronounciation for the next episode🙈

Jun 30th


Oh boy, the Satan worshippers are upset they got called out as a cult.

Jun 30th
Reply (1)


This story is immensely disturbing. I couldn’t stomach that psychologists and psychiatrists were fooled by this man, and their roles in these cases have so much influence that he was able to get away for years. :(

Jun 28th


"Now, while there is some evidence of Europe's negative influence in the form of chattel slavery, colonialism, and imperialism, the Nation of Islam took Black Supremacy to the edge of fantasy" <-- SOME EVIDENCE?? ONLY SOME?! How dismissive and ahoristorical. Have you EVER read about eugenics, who started that and the continues effects of that kind of thought in medicine?? I can hear the bias in your voice. Especially considering current events. You need to revise this asaptually! This man is disgusting and deserves to rot for everything he has done. That being said, it's hard not to notice and compare the way you discussed the issues surrounding his life/ upbringing versus the way you sympathized with certain serial rapists and killers in past podcasts.

Jun 14th

Louai Adhami

,aa!+@!!!!,+,<1!!!Y!AA°A,+,q,A8@!!7!!!×A!, z,,6,

Jun 13th


two years ago I meet one of his followers and he was very aggressive it was 2018 I had no idea what he was talking about but my cousin knew and thank god he stopped me because it started to get a lil heated

Jun 12th


Wow, thanks for covering this group. As a teen in the late 00's, my therapist tried to recruit me to AC, I even had bars performed on me (I fell asleep), and she tried to show me how to purify water with my mind using "demolecular manifestation" (the water tasted exactly the same). She said that there existed some invisible energy waiting to be harnessed in me and specifically referenced the movie Avatar as an example of what it would be like. I was a messed up kid, but I'm glad I was at least wise enough to know something fishy was going on. It makes sense why I have been skeptical of therapists ever since then.

Jun 8th
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store