46 episodes

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 existence.
You can support us on Patreon, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available now.
“A fascinating and well-researched look into cults and the charismatic leaders behind them.” Peter Wells, The Sydney Morning Herald
“A fantastic examination of sects, cults, and religion… a fact-based program that’ll hook you in and keep you coming back for more.” Zach Johnston, Uproxx
“Cleverly named, meticulously researched.” Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29
“The best podcast of its kind – I can’t wait for another episode!” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“I study cults and sects and for this reason listen to many podcasts on these subjects. This one is by far the best.” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“Best podcast about cults I’ve found.” Apple Podcasts review from an Australian listener

Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.

Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects

Let's Talk About Sects Sarah Steel

    • True Crime
    • 4.0 • 923 Ratings

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 existence.
You can support us on Patreon, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available now.
“A fascinating and well-researched look into cults and the charismatic leaders behind them.” Peter Wells, The Sydney Morning Herald
“A fantastic examination of sects, cults, and religion… a fact-based program that’ll hook you in and keep you coming back for more.” Zach Johnston, Uproxx
“Cleverly named, meticulously researched.” Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29
“The best podcast of its kind – I can’t wait for another episode!” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“I study cults and sects and for this reason listen to many podcasts on these subjects. This one is by far the best.” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“Best podcast about cults I’ve found.” Apple Podcasts review from an Australian listener

Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.

Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects

    Introducing The Sunshine Place

    Introducing The Sunshine Place

    Once called “the miracle on the beach,” Synanon began in the 1960s as an experimental rehab facility in Santa Monica, California with a radical claim: It could cure heroin addiction. Before long, it would make an even bolder claim: It could cure any of your problems. All you had to do was move in. What started in a house on the beach, soon spread to compounds across the country. The man who made the miracle happen, Charles E. Dederich, aka “Chuck,” would be the one to destroy it all, along with the lives of many of his followers and millions of dollars in assets. The Sunshine Place tells the mind-blowing, true-story of Synanon - one of America’s most cutting edge social experiments, turned into one of its most dangerous and violent cults - as it’s never been told before: by the people who lived it. Executive Produced by Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, and Emily Barclay Ford for Team Downey and C13Originals, together with Josh McLaughlin for Wink Pictures and written, produced, and directed by Peabody-nominated C13Originals, a Cadence13 Studio.
    Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.

    • 5 min
    Bonus Episode: A Little Bit Culty

    Bonus Episode: A Little Bit Culty

    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 center in Vancouver, Canada. After becoming involved with its secret society, DOS, she managed to escape and alongside her husband Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames, became a whistleblower on the cult and worked with the FBI to expose Keith Raniere’s crimes. Today Sarah and Nippy make the fantastic podcast A Little Bit Culty, in which they speak with some incredible guests including other former cult members and experts in cult dynamics.
     
    Guests: Sarah Edmondson & Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames
     
    Full research sources listed on each episode page at www.ltaspod.com. You can support the creation of this independent podcast at www.patreon.com/ltaspod. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available now.
     
    If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, you can find support or donate to Cult Information and Family Support if you’re in Australia (via www.cifs.org.au), and you can find resources outside of Australia with the International Cultic Studies Association (via www.icsahome.com).
     
    Links:
    A Little Bit Culty — Sarah and Nippy’s podcastUncover: Escaping NXIVM — CBC podcast featuring Sarah EdmondsonThe Vow — HBO series featuring Sarah EdmondsonResources — a collection of useful resources on cults at Sarah Edmondson’s websiteScarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life — by Sarah Edmondson with Kristine Gasbarre, Hardie Grant, 2019Take Back Your Life — by Janja Lalich & Madeleine Tobias, Bay Tree, 2006, audiobook narrated by Sarah EdmondsonRudolf Steiner: The Racist Who Invented Organic Farming and Waldorf Schools — Behind the Bastards, 24 September 2019Nippy’s Instagram, Sarah’s Instagram and Twitter, and A Little Bit Culty’s Instagram
    Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.

    • 53 min
    Bonus Episode: Do As I Say, Chapter One

    Bonus Episode: Do As I Say, Chapter One

    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.
    "In times of uncertainty when you long for simple answers and have a deep desire for community, you can find yourself incrementally handing over your agency to a charismatic but authoritarian and manipulative leader or group-think. In this book Sarah Steel has brilliantly charted how this happens in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of people; it provides an invaluable map to navigate this dangerous terrain." - Reverend Tim Costello AO
    "This book is a most comprehensive and studied look at cults, the leaders, and perhaps most importantly the survivors. Sarah Steel has given the world a real gem - one that will not only educate but also help to destigmatize those who have been harmed by cults and con artists. Bravo!" - Dr Janja Lalich, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Co-Founder of Take Back Your Life Recovery LLC, International Authority on Cults & Coercion
    "Sarah uses the stories of survivors to tease out the common threads of coercive control shared by cults and found in other parts of society. The result is a much-needed spotlight on the behaviours and personalities we are likely to encounter even if we never go anywhere near a cult." - David Gillespie, bestselling author and lawyer

    Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.

    • 30 min
    Bonus Episode: Counter Cult Coalition

    Bonus Episode: Counter Cult Coalition

    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 will help former cult members and children in high-demand organisations. For this bonus episode she speaks about her work with Counter Cult Coalition, the organisation she founded alongside spiritual abuse expert Kent Burtner.
    From its Facebook page: “Counter Cult Coalition's mission is to raise awareness of issues related to involvement in coercive groups known as cults and to improve public policy in order to protect and provide for children harmed by group involvement.”
    Full research sources listed here. You can support us on Patreon, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available for pre-order now.
    If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, contact Cult Information and Family Support in Australia, or the International Cultic Studies Association outside of Australia.
    If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

    EPISODE LINKSCounter Cult Coalition – Facebook pageTo support Counter Cult Coalition, you can donate via PayPal: wkburtner@aol.com; or via Venmo: William Burtner (phone confirmation number: 3429)
    Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.

    • 48 min
    Bonus Episode: KwaSizabantu

    Bonus Episode: KwaSizabantu

    KwaSizabantu means “the place where people are helped” in Zulu. Erika Bornman spent most of her childhood years at the KwaSizabantu Mission. Her memoir Mission of Malice is about her childhood, and about her life since leaving. It’s an incredible read.
     
    Daniel Schricker is a composer and writer based in Adelaide, South Australia. He also spent his childhood and teenage years in KwaSizabantu, and has written a series of articles entitled Scaring the Hell Out of You, “A 4-part examination of the role of fear in the theology and practices of KwaSizabantu and the psychological implications for children”.
     
    This bonus episode is an interview with Erika and Daniel, who were kind enough to share their insights, including why they have doubts that KwaSizabantu is capable of changing for the better.
     
    Guests: Erika Bornman & Daniel Schricker
     
    Full research sources listed here. You can support us on Patreon, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available for pre-order now.
    If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, contact Cult Information and Family Support in Australia, or the International Cultic Studies Association outside of Australia.
    If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
     
    Links:
    Mission of Malice: My Exodus from KwaSizabantu – by Erika Bornman, Penguin Random House South Africa, August 2021Scaring the Hell Out of You – Part 1: Fear of God, Part 2: Fear of Authority, Part 3: Fear of Self, Part 4: Fear of the Outside World – by Daniel Schricker, 18 September 2021Mission of malice by Erika Bornman: A reader impression – by Daniel Schricker, LitNet, 20 August 2021Devotion KwaSizabantu Mission – 9 September 2020
    Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.

    • 1 hr 43 min
    Bonus Episode: David Freeman – former child member of The Family

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

    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 property. It took 12 years before he was rescued by the police, and given his freedom. At 15, he vowed not to tell anyone about his childhood in the notorious Victorian cult, and it was a promise he kept for 25 years.
     
    Guest: David Freeman
     
    Full research sources listed here. You can support us on Patreon, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available for pre-order now.
    If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, contact Cult Information and Family Support in Australia, or the International Cultic Studies Association outside of Australia.
    If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
     
    Links:
    Deprived of his childhood in a notorious cult — by Einar Þór Sigurðsson, Fréttablaðið, 5 February 2021
    Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.

    • 1 hr 17 min

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5
923 Ratings

923 Ratings

Navy_Girl69 ,

Mostly good

A generally well presented Podcast , however I find it a bit disingenuous having Rev Tim Costello reviewing your recent publication, Mr. Costello being a member of a Cult
World Vision are a destructive fundamentalist Christian’Pil for a Prayer’ Charity they trample on Womens rights especially their reproductive freedoms .

The Glâcier ,

Quietly rivetting

I’m only a few episodes in. It reminds me a little of the independent, amateur spirit of that other Australian megapod, Casefile. Good critical thinking on display and, as others have noted, compassion as well. Love it. It’s very absorbing and I hope it helps people.

trikykatt ,

Sophisticated!

Sarah’s podcast is an amazing exploration of worlds many of us are fatally ignorant about. Her mesmerising voice and dry humour make very difficult content much more palatable. Good work, we’ll done.

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