10 Celebrities You Never Knew Were In Cults

`10 Celebrities You Never Knew Were In Cults 10 Michelle Pfeiffer Most people know that one of the most recognisable aspects of any cult is the element of psychological manipulation

Not unlike a toxic relationship, cult leaders are widely known to twist and contort their followers’ insecurities into a useful commodity and use them for their own narcissistic machinations Often that’s put towards some kind of religious purpose, or sometimes a political one, but one star fell into the cult of fitness And no, I don’t mean she’s a gym freak, I mean a literal cult centred around the concept of health and fitness That cult was ‘Breatharianism’, which at its core believed that humans could subsist off sunlight alone I mean, Pfeiffer is clearly photogenic, but I’m not so sure about photosynthetic

Anyway, Pfeiffer was sucked into the health-conscious messaging of the group and convinced to part with vast sums of money to pay for the psychological damage that accompanied her personal training gone mad According to interviews with the star, she only realised she was in a cult when her husband began researching a role on the Unification Church cult, where she recognised the same patterns 9 Joaquin Phoenix It’s pretty fair to say that Joaquin Phoenix is the world’s hottest acting talent, coming off the back of recent performances in ‘You Were Never Really Here’, ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot’, and an obscure little project called ‘Joker’ That said, he’s not exactly the most conventional star

There’s his notoriously difficult press persona or that weird phase where he pretended to be a rapper for a mockumentary… but you might not know about his early years From birth until the age of 3, Phoenix was part of the Children of God – a notorious cult borne out of a combination of Christianity and 60s free love spiritualism that went onto be known as ‘The Family International’ That notoriety came from its harmful culture, particularly when it came to underaged people, as well as a practice called “flirty fishing” – a recruitment tool whose method you can probably guess for yourself In fact, it was that practice which led to Phoenix’s departure from the church, since his parents learned about it and literally noped their way out of there – obviously for the best 8

Val Kilmer Okay let me drop a bombshell on you here: diseases are… get this… REAL Yep Those things that make you poorly are, in fact, really happening Most people around the world understand that because, well, it’s common sense, but not everyone – including Batman Well, one of them

Val Kilmer, star of True Romance, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Batman Returns, is a supporter of the group known as Christian Science, who the Evangelical Times refer to as a cult Christian Science that sickness is actually just an illusion And how do you cut through that illusion? With the power of prayer In her book ‘Science and Health’, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy described illness as “mental error”, covering everything from cancer to blindness, and claimed in the press that she had cured those problems herself sans medicine Those beliefs led Kilmer to neglect formalised medical treatment for his throat cancer in the mid 2010s, to the point that he was forced to compromise and go to the hospital when he was coughing up blood

But before that, he called claims of a tumour “silly talk” I tell you what’s silly talk, thinking diseases don’t exist! 7 Jaden Smith and Kylie Jenner In life, it goes without saying that there are leaders and there are followers The same goes for cults and secret societies – some join them and some start them, but it’s not always who you expect Back in April 2014, the renowned philosopher, Jaden Smith, and the self-made billionaire Kylie Jenner teamed up on a revolutionary venture called “A Secret Society Of Individuals Who Create And Place Orgonite To Balance Gaia's Energies” – AKA “The Orgonite Society

” Well, more of an Instagram post than a venture but whatever The whole thing was based around man-made crystals called ‘Orgones’ which carry spiritual energy and have links back to the infamous Rajneesh movement, which became the subject of Netflix’s Wild Wild Country in 2019 Okay so, real talk, this PROBABLY wasn’t really a full-on cult – if anything, more of a club created by a few teens with top-tier internet clout – but with the absurdity of it all and that fact that the media reported on it like it really was a cult just makes it too good to miss out 6 Glenn Close From Fatal Attraction to Guardians of the Galaxy, Glenn Close is Hollywood royalty

But behind the glitz and the glamour, there’s a tragic tale to this A-Lister Back in 1938, tensions were rising up to World War II, so American minister Frank Buchman took it upon himself to counter military rearmament by encouraging what he called “Moral Rearmament” That quickly went from concept to organisation to global movement, with MRA groups gaining major traction across Europe – to the dismay of such reputable nations as, uh… Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia So how bad can a peace-promoting, Nazi-annoying group really be? Well, according to Close, not all was well in the ranks of Moral Re-armament As is almost always the case in cults, the veteran actress alleges that behaviour was tightly controlled in community – something that created major rifts in her family

In her words, “You basically weren't allowed to do anything, or you were made to feel guilty about any unnatural desire” In fact, it wasn’t until she was 22 that Close finally left the group, which she said, had a “profound impact” on her psychology 5 Rose McGowan So you’ve already heard about the Children of God, known now as the Family International – but Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t the only young victim of the repressive cult Rose McGowan, the actor and activist, was also born into the sect and describes having vivid memories of living on a former Italian duke’s property as her father worked in the national chapter

But the practices of the Children of God reared their ugly head over time As it was based in the free love movement, there was plenty of polygamy, which is morally fine if not a bit niche, but the line was drawn when the role of children became apparent in the group So, the McGowan family decided to escape, as anyone sensible would In an interview, McGowan talked about running through fields under cover of darkness, being chased as she escaped and even members trying to break into their new home with a hammer But tragic though that saga was, it sadly wasn’t the end of McGowan’s woes

But that’s one for another list 4 Angel Haze Nowadays it’s safe to say that we’re living through a hip-hop heyday, from Brockhampton to Lil Nas X, but few have done as much to make an explicit political stance as Angel Haze The pansexual, agender rapper has made taken it upon xerself to tackle the world’s ills – everything from homophobia to racism to mental illness But those important themes in xer music come despite, or perhaps because of a traumatic past

After the death of xer father, Haze – real name Raykeea Angel Wilson – and xer mother moved into the house of a preacher in the Greater Apostolic Faith, which she described as a cult According to Haze, “You weren't allowed to talk to anyone outside… wear jewelry listen to music

eat certain things… date people [or] do pretty much anything" Along with that, she was told xe would spontaneously DIE if she misbehaved and experienced abuse from a young age And while that is of course absolutely terrible, the silver lining is that Haze came out of xer cultish childhood with a huge desire to stop that happening to anyone else 3 Toni Braxton As one of the best selling R&B singers of all time, Toni Braxton’s life is inevitably going to come under the spotlight

But upon release of her 2014 biography, “Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir”, no one really expected the backstory she had to tell Growing up in a poor southern background, Braxton’s family found solace in faith and, when she was a young child, joined an Apostolic Pentecostal congregation called Pillar of Truth It’s been described as a cult by some and Braxton herself has discussed its “religious extremism” This group believed that the rapture could come at any time, so imposed strict rules on the morality of its followers From roller-skating to movies, pretty much everything enjoyable was considered taboo, and in order to make it into heaven, you had to stay obedient and speak in tongues

Braxton claims that she “began connecting religion, God and church with judgment, anxiety and guilt”, and that her respite came in the form of the children’s choir – which probably goes some way to explaining the route she took into music superstardom 2 Ellen Degeneres Often some of the jolliest people out there have some of the most tragic histories That’s certainly true of Ellen Degeneres, the vegan, animal-rights-supporting, environmentalist daytime TV comic According to an interview with Parade Magazine, her father was a first reader in the Christian Science Church – which you may remember Val Kilmer being a big fan of

That meant there was “no drinking, smoking or cursing” and emotions were deeply, deeply repressed Degeneres recalled never seeing her parents angry until they divorced when she was 13, which you can imagine being quite a shock to the system And perhaps more dangerously, her parents were old school anti-vaxxers – not because of the usual reason nowadays that vaccines cause autism Instead, they believed vaccines were unnecessary because disease wasn’t real – something that bears repeating in two entries because it’s just so insane But while that was understandably traumatic, Ellen has said that she thinks it formed insights that other people wouldn’t necessarily have, which gave her a leg up in her standup

1 Allison Mack A lot of the other entries in this group involve young people who were born into cults or passive victims of their activities That’s… not exactly the case for Allion Mack, who’s been found to be an active participant – and criminally so The former Smallville star has been a major player in the organisation known as Nxivm – pronounced Nexium – which describes itself as a "community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human" That’s a long-winded way of saying it’s ostensibly a mentoring scheme for women, but outside of its PR it’s generally called a sex cult

Mack served as one of the main deputies to Keith Raniere, the leader and only man in the organisation, and aided in his efforts to recruit women and allegedly enforce a “master and slave” dynamic All of that has amounted to a court case around sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and forced labour, where Mack pleaded guilty and is now due for sentencing

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