153 episodes

Think you might be in a cult? Want to know the signs? Join Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames to talk about things that are..a little bit culty. Or in their case: a whole bunch of culty. As whistleblowers documented in the critically-acclaimed HBO series “The Vow,” Sarah and Nippy have a lot to say about their experience, and burning questions to ask people with similar stories. They’re here to help people understand, heal from, and avoid abusive situations one little red flag at a time. Listen in as they share their stories, have frank and unscripted conversations with other survivors and cult experts, and do a deep dive on how devotion can turn to dysfunction.

A Little Bit Culty Sarah Edmondson & Anthony “Nippy” Ames

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 2.4K Ratings

Think you might be in a cult? Want to know the signs? Join Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames to talk about things that are..a little bit culty. Or in their case: a whole bunch of culty. As whistleblowers documented in the critically-acclaimed HBO series “The Vow,” Sarah and Nippy have a lot to say about their experience, and burning questions to ask people with similar stories. They’re here to help people understand, heal from, and avoid abusive situations one little red flag at a time. Listen in as they share their stories, have frank and unscripted conversations with other survivors and cult experts, and do a deep dive on how devotion can turn to dysfunction.

    Proud Defector: Claire Headley On Scientology (Part 1)

    Proud Defector: Claire Headley On Scientology (Part 1)

    This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Give online therapy a try at betterhelp.com/culty and get on your way to being your best self.
    In part one of this 2-parter, we feature Scientology defector and whistleblower Claire Headley who spent 30 years in the church isolated from her family and basically any outside influence. Headley was born and bred in England’s Scientology boarding schools, was shipped to the big blue buildings in LA, and then onto headquarters. Thoroughly indoctrinated, she landed at the mother church, Sea Org, where she signed billion-year contracts and rose through the ranks. In this episode, she describes her childhood. She recounts personal tragedies and abuses. She tells us what it’s like to experience the practice of fair game – beginning at age two. And she shares what the nearly intractable clutches of this 100% high-control group felt like. Until her own husband escaped without her, and the proverbial shelf broke. Her almost foiled escape is an action sequence you won’t want to miss.
     
    SHOW NOTES: 
    Claire Headley escaped L. Ron’s Church of Scientology, bravely emerging from its dark depths to share her harrowing experiences with the world. Since breaking free 18 years ago, Claire has become a prominent advocate for survivors, shedding light on the church's practices, its culture of control, and the struggles faced by those who leave. She’s also continued to be abused by its powerful reach. As President of The Aftermath Foundation, Claire helps others – often with no work experience or family beyond Sea Org – leave Scientology. You can find lots of details at  Blown for Good, on Twitter, and YouTube. 
     
    There are more ALBC episodes on Scientology:
    Leah Remini: Heal That Sh*t: Leah Remini & The Aftermath
    One Billion Years: Mike Rinder on How Scientology Could End
    Or remix, Scientology SUCKS | Ft. Leah Remini, Mike Rinder, and Jon Atack 
     
    Also…Let it be known far and wide, loud and clear that…
     
    The views and opinions expressed on A Little Bit Culty do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. Any content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business individual, anyone or anything. Nobody’s mad at you, just don’t be a culty fuckwad.
     
    OTHER LINKS:
    Check out our lovely sponsors
    Join ‘A Little Bit Culty’ on Patreon
    Get poppin’ fresh ALBC Swag
    Support the pod and smash this link
    Cult awareness and recovery resources
     
    CREDITS: 
    Executive Producers: Sarah Edmondson & Anthony Ames
    Production Partner: Citizens of Sound
    Producer: Will Retherford
    Co-Creator: Jess Tardy
    Theme Song: “Cultivated” by Jon Bryant co-written with Nygel Asselin
     

    • 59 min
    Gentle Souls: Esther Friedman on ‘School’

    Gentle Souls: Esther Friedman on ‘School’

    This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Give online therapy a try at betterhelp.com/culty and get on your way to being your best self.
    If you’re not already familiar with the culty cluster known as ‘School’,  it was an ultra-secret Manhattan organization run by late actress and forever eccentric Sharon Gans. The shadowy group did its dark magic in the form of secret study groups, arranged marriages, and some pretty gnarly narcissistic abuse. In this episode, former School enrollee Esther Friedman discusses the five years she spent as a student after her study group love bombed her right into its clutches. We also cover how she got out, and how she’s healing now by helping other gentle souls navigate a culty, culty world. Empaths, this one’s for you. And if you’ve got Big Valedictorian Energy and are crazy about that extra credit, please note that we’ve taken our listeners to School before in our episode with the groovy Spencer Schneider who wrote a page-turning memoir about his experience titled Manhattan Cult Story: My Unbelievable True Story of Sex, Crimes, Chaos, and Survival.



    NOTES
    Esther Friedman is a licensed mental health counselor, expressive art therapist, songwriter, and author. To process and heal, she presents her misadventures as an “edu-tainment campaign.” Her memoir The Gentle Souls Revolution is a PSA/recovery guide/template for anyone who’s navigated exploitative relationships. She’s also a board member of the newly formed nonprofit “Living Cult Free” and is joined in that endeavor by some cult recovery heavyweights. You can learn more about their work at livingcultfree.com



    You can find Esther at www.gentlesoulsrevolution.com, Facebook, and Instagram. 
    Also…
     
    Let it be known far and wide, loud and clear that…
     
    The views and opinions expressed on A Little Bit Culty do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. Any content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business individual, anyone or anything. Nobody’s mad at you, just don’t be a culty f*****d.
     
    OTHER LINKS:
    Check out our lovely sponsors
    Join ‘A Little Bit Culty’ on Patreon
    Get poppin’ fresh ALBC Swag
    Support the pod and smash this link
    Cult awareness and recovery resources
     
    CREDITS: 
    Executive Producers: Sarah Edmondson & Anthony Ames
    Production Partner: Citizens of Sound
    Producer: Will Retherford
    Co-Creator: Jess Tardy
    Writer: Holly Zadra
    Theme Song: “Cultivated” by Jon Bryant co-written with Nygel Asselin
     

    • 55 min
    Scout’s Honor: Tom Krumins on Keeping Kids Safe

    Scout’s Honor: Tom Krumins on Keeping Kids Safe

    This episode is sponsored by Better Help. 
    Tom Krumins was one of the brave whistleblowers who came forward to shine a light on the scandal of abuse and predation within the Boy Scouts of America. You can see his story in the recent Netflix doc, ‘Scout’s Honor: The Secret Files of the Boy Scouts of America,’ and we’re guessing you’ll be as moved and inspired by him as we were. In this episode we sit down with him  to learn more about his experience in the Scouts, how he navigated the aftermath, and his work today as the Executive Director for the US-Based Keep Kid Safe Movement and as Chief of Staff of the global BRAVE Movement.  Listen to this one with care because it gets into the gritty topic of child sexual abuse. But also, know that there’s also a whole lotta hope in this conversation, too. 
     
    Please note: The Boy Scouts bankruptcy has concluded. The day the plan went into effect, a Settlement Trust was established to manage the funds contributed by the Boy Scouts, the Local Councils, the Chartered Organizations, the Insurance Companies, etc. The Trust also reviews every claim to determine its validity and then disseminate funds per a "Claims Matrix" and state-by-state statute of limitations. At this stage, we do not know the final amount that will officially enter into the Trust or how it will be disseminated. The "back of the napkin" math portion of this episode highlighted the general size of the Trust, not the potential amount of damages a claimant may receive. These numbers are not official. This was merely an exercise to better understand the scale of people harmed by the Boy Scouts.
    Show Notes:

    About Tom Krumins:
    Tom Krumins is a passionate Executive Director serving the movement to end childhood sexual violence at Keep Kids Safe. As a visionary civic entrepreneur, Tom believes in developing new and innovative organizational models that encourage positive change in society. He has contributed to multiple fields,including medical education, behavioral health, prison reentry, hospice care, rural entrepreneurship, grassroots coalition-building, political campaigns, cash relief programs, and nonprofit advocacy.

    Tom comes to this work as a survivor of childhood sexual violence during his time in the Boy Scouts of America and his experience navigating the largest child abuse bankruptcy in U.S. history. His story was included among other brave survivors in the Netflix documentary, Scouts Honor: The Secret Files of the Boy Scouts of America. He now serves on the Scouts new Youth Protection Committee. When he isn't working, Tom enjoys performing stand-up and improvisational comedy -- successfully entertaining tens of people since 2017.


    You can find him on:
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/tomkrumins
    His Website & Substack: https://www.tomkrumins.us/


    About  Keep Kids Safe &  BRAVE:

    Childhood sexual violence happens in every community. The stigma and shame far too often lead to
    silence, but this can change. We should never be comfortable with children and adolescents experiencing
    sexual violence, but we should feel comfortable talking about it.

    We share the movement to end childhood sexual violence. This is a movement of survivors (whether
    public or not) and allies. If you are interested in joining, reach out today!
    - The U.S. movement ---> keepkidssafe.us
    - The global movement ---> bravemovement.org

    If you experienced sexual violence and need help, you can find support at
    https://www.bravemovement.org/get-help/.
     
    ABOUT A LITTLE BIT CULTY:

    Let it be known far and wide, loud and clear that…
    The views and opinions expressed on A Little Bit Culty do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. Any content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business individual, anyone or anything. Nobody’s mad at you, just don’t be a culty fuc

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Let Us Prey: Ruthy Heiler & Sharon Liese Unmask the IFB

    Let Us Prey: Ruthy Heiler & Sharon Liese Unmask the IFB

    This episode is sponsored by Better Help.

    But maybe it should also be sponsored by a company that manufactures blood pressure cuffs, because the “Let Us Prey: A Ministry of Scandals” docuseries had us all kinds of pissed off. If you haven’t seen it yet, the doc wades into the darkness and depravity within the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement and takes no prisoners. Sidenote: F**k you, IFB predators and enablers, f**k you very, very much. 
    In this episode we speak with Ruthy Heiler, the whistleblower at the heart of the series, along with Sharon Liese, the series’ Emmy-award winning director. Word to the wise; this conversation touches on sexual assault and abuse, so please listen with care. It’s really appalling what some people do in the name of old time religion when it’s actually just a front for being predatory scum. 

    SHOW NOTES:
    Learn more about The Blind Eye Movement on Instagram and Facebook

    Notes provided courtesy of Investigation Discovery:

    Let Us Prey: A Ministry of Scandals, is a new four-part docuseries exposing the predatory and insidious behavior within the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Churches, and the struggles of survivors to find justice. Featuring first-hand accounts from survivors, church defectors and activists, it offers crucial insight into the troubling culture within the IFB and the stronghold the church has on its members.  
     
    Since its inception in the 1950s, the IFB has evolved into one of the dominant religious forces in the United States today with an estimated 8 million believers spread out over 6,000 churches across the country. Let Us Prey uncovers the dark inner workings behind the IFB’s cheery and virtuous exterior by exposing depraved secrets and violence that have existed within their churches for decades. Rituals oriented towards “breaking a child’s will,” mind control and torture are only the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface lurks accusations of rape and physical abuse of members, including minors, at the hands of IFB figure heads. 
     
    Anchored by the testimony of survivors who have come forward to tell their stories and seek justice, Let Us Prey explores the deep pain and lifelong trauma they experienced. Survivors and IFB defectors Ruthy Heiler, Kathy Durbin and Amanda Householder, among others, share their accounts of abuse at the hands of church leaders and the violence, manipulation and suspected cover-ups of other members. Also featuring key independent voices, including Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Sarah Smith – one of the first journalists to uncover IFB’s tangled web of abuse allegations and unregulated teen boarding schools – Let Us Prey offers a deeper understanding of how those within the IFB have continued to operate unchecked for years. Through powerful, emotional testimonies and archival footage,  

    Let Us Prey: A Ministry Of Scandals Is produced for ID by ITV America’s Good Caper Content, with Emmy Award-winning Director Sharon Liese, who created the series, serves as the director. Liese is a critically acclaimed and award -winning filmmaker, whose recent Emmy Award-winning documentary short, The Flagmakers, was Oscar shortlisted and nominated for a Critic’s Choice Documentary Award.
     
    Also…Let it be known far and wide, loud and clear that…
     
    The views and opinions expressed on A Little Bit Culty do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. Any content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business individual, anyone or anything. Nobody’s mad at you, just don’t be a culty f*****d.
     
    OTHER LINKS:
    Check out our lovely sponsors
    Join ‘A Little Bit Culty’ on Patreon
    Get poppin’ fresh ALBC Swag
    Support the pod and smash this link
    Cult awareness and recovery resources
     
    CREDITS: 
    Executive Producers: Sarah Edmondson &

    • 42 min
    Wise Jezebel: Dr. Laura Anderson On When Religion Hurts

    Wise Jezebel: Dr. Laura Anderson On When Religion Hurts

    This episode is sponsored by Better Help.

    Today we welcome Wise Jezebel and former fundie Dr. Laura Anderson to the ALBC huddle. She’s a psychotherapist, podcaster, and smarty-pants content creator specializing in helping people come back from the sneaky scars of high control religion. She’s also the author of the next book you need to read. Seriously. We cannot recommend it enough and it’s called: When Religion Hurts You: Healing from Religious Trauma and the Impact of High Control Religion. Dr. Anderson is here with us to talk about her story, the ways and means of culty church trauma, and the non-linearity of the healing process. In case you need another reminder that toxic churches, some mainstream American religious communities, and even your culty as f**k personal development organization can be traumatizing: This episode is for you. Let the unpacking commence.

    NOTES: 
    Dr. Laura Anderson, PhD, LMFT is a therapist and trauma resolution and recovery coach in private practice specializing in complex and developmental trauma and the dynamics of power and control of culty religions. She’s a writer and educator who specializes in religious trauma. She’s founder and director of the Center for Trauma Resolution and Recovery, an online coaching service for folks recovering from adverse religious experiences and cults. And she co-founded the Religious Trauma Institute, a training institute focused on helping the helpers in their trauma-informed healing work. You can listen to her on her own podcasts The Wise Jezebels and Sunday School Dropouts. She lives with her dog, Phoebe, in Nashville, Tennessee.
     
    Find her online
    on her own website, 
    on her own podcasts The Wise Jezebels and Sunday School Dropouts, 
    on and social media:
    @drlauraeanderson: Instagram (also TikTok & FB), 
    @traumaresolutionandrecovery (IG & Facebook)
    @religioustraumainstitute (IG & Facebook)
    @wisejezebelspod (IG)
    @sundayschooldropoutspod (IG)
    Hashtags: #religioustrauma #whenreligionhurtsyou
     
    Though our pod spans the culty religious fallout gamut, this one pairs well with the June two-parter Shiny Happy Wife: Tia Levings on Christian Fundamentalism (Tia Levings is co-host of The Wise Jezebels) and Leaving the Fold: Dr. Marlene Winell on Religious Trauma Syndrome. See also: Our episode about Attachment Theory with the deep and amazing Alexandra Stein.
    Also…Let it be known far and wide, loud and clear that…
     
    The views and opinions expressed on A Little Bit Culty do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. Any content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business individual, anyone or anything. Nobody’s mad at you, just don’t be a culty fuckwad.
     
    OTHER LINKS:
    Check out our lovely sponsors
    Join ‘A Little Bit Culty’ on Patreon
    Get poppin’ fresh ALBC Swag
    Support the pod and smash this link
    Cult awareness and recovery resources
     
    CREDITS: 
    Executive Producers: Sarah Edmondson & Anthony Ames
    Production Partner: Citizens of Sound
    Producer: Will Retherford
    Co-Creator & Writer: Jess Tardy
    Theme Song: “Cultivated” by Jon Bryant co-written with Nygel Asselin
     

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Weirder Together: Cult Hopping with Ben Lee & Ione Skye

    Weirder Together: Cult Hopping with Ben Lee & Ione Skye

    Today’s episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. 
    Buckle up ALBC babies, we’re about to go all over the map through Hollywood, the music industry, Australia, and a couple decades of cult-hopping. In fact, it’s so epic that (picture this) we are holding an invisible boombox over our heads outside your window while blaring Peter Gabriel, asking you to listen. Got the picture? Okay cool: Because we’re chatting with Ione Skye and Ben Lee, married podcasters that you may know from their hilarious Weirder Together podcast. Or maybe you know him as a prolific singer-songwriter, and her from the high school of your John Hughes teen cinema dreams. Or maybe, just maybe, you were in a cult with them at some point. It’s not statistically improbable because they’ve been in a few culty situations, from chasing Qigong, to following Gurus and slinging DoTerra essential oils. Heads up: This isn’t our regular format. It’s more of a Rom-Com than the stuff of True Crime, but these two are thoughtful and funny as hell on the subject of loving people through—and out of—cults. And we’re always interested in hearing from people who’ve dabbled and ducked out before things got too fucky. Lots of cultiverse easter eggs in this one, from David Lynch to QAnon, Theranos to Sean Penn, Rick Ruben to Ruby Tuesday’s–just kidding about that last one. If you’re a cult nerd, this one will be mother’s milk. Put on your New Year’s jammies, and enjoy. 
     
    NOTES
    Ben Lee is a musician, singer/songwriter, producer, DJ DadBod, and professional adventurer.
    Ione Skye is an actor, director, painter, and author. According to this story, Skye will “Say Everything” in her new memoir soon to be published.
    Together, Ben and Ione run a creative production company where they do podcasts, events, film, fanzines, and quote ”make stuff, curate stuff, and celebrate stuff” including their own Podcast Weirder Together.
     
    @benleemusic on IG, fb, twitter, TikTok
    @ioneskyelee on IG, @ioneskye1 twitter, @ioneskyeofficial TikTok
     
    ROLLING STONE ARTICLE on Ben Lee
     
    Also…
    Let it be known far and wide, loud and clear that…
    The views and opinions expressed on A Little Bit Culty do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. Any content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business individual, anyone or anything. Nobody’s mad at you, just don’t be a culty f*****d.
     
    OTHER LINKS:
    Check out our lovely sponsors
    Join ‘A Little Bit Culty’ on Patreon
    Get poppin’ fresh ALBC Swag
    Support the pod and smash this link
    Cult awareness and recovery resources
     
    CREDITS: 
    Executive Producers: Sarah Edmondson & Anthony Ames
    Production Partner: Citizens of Sound
    Producer: Will Retherford
    Co-Creator & Writer: Jess Tardy

    • 1 hr 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
2.4K Ratings

2.4K Ratings

GSR 2021 ,

ALBC is a favorite!

Intelligent, insightful, compassionate and hilarious! Thank you, ALBC

Cherbear629 ,

It’s opened my eyes!

I have always found cults to be so interesting and even did a paper on it in college. Because of that interest I’m always looking for new podcasts to add to my library and found the podcast first, then saw the Vow! Just wow, the comparisons I saw between Raniere and the man who runs the company I work for made me see that so many of the things he does are a “little bit culty!” People are already leaving and it does feel like it’s time to get out myself! The culture has become so unhealthy and there is a fear to leave, he too has sued and released collateral of those who have already left! Of course my experience is nothing compared to Sarah and Nippy and all the other brave soles who left and blew the whistle but I have at least opened my eyes a little bit more after hearing your stories and am able to see things from a new perspective. Unfortunately I can’t just leave I have to pay the bills, but I have an exit plan and hope this year I can finally after 11 years get away from a culture that has likely caused more damage then I realize. We’ve always been told by him to defend our house, but that house has always stood on quick sand where we constantly feel like we have to dig ourselves out, so I’ve decided it’s my turn and it’s my own house I will now defend!! Thanks for the podcast, since I just found it I’m starting from the beginning!

SoporLover4Life ,

Too bad

The blindness exhibited by Sarah and Nippy of their own privilege is disappointing. The lack of accountability they have for their own historic actions in expanding a cult in combination with the lack of reparations they’ve tried to make for the people whose backs they made their money on, whilst simultaneously using this podcast as a ‘point-the-finger-to-another-cult’ soapbox is a flavor of hypocrisy too rich for my taste.

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

iHeartPodcasts
Vox Media Podcast Network
New York Times Opinion
This American Life
Chris Williamson
KQED

You Might Also Like

Mark Vicente
Roberta Blevins
PodcastOne
Rachel Bernstein
Coffee And Cults
PodcastOne