American Cults: Cabals, Corruption, and Charismatic Leaders

by Jim Willis
American Cults

... describes 40 cults and charismatic leaders in the US, including those that broke away from traditional religions, racial religion cults, sex cults, prophets, and those related to aliens. Topics include Jim Jones, Jim Bakker, David Koresh, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Scientology, Heaven’s Gate, the Ku Klux Klan, QAnon, Antifa, NXIVM, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the cult of scientism, multi-level marketing, and the dogma of politics, and why the US is fertile ground for cults.

Book News

To the believers inside, their religion provides guidance and security. To the suspicious outside, that creed often looks like a legally sanctioned way to steal. … Willis’ book deals largely with religious cults, but he occasionally delves into politics. Is the KKK a cult? How about the far-right Proud Boys? Both have core beliefs and demand unquestioning loyalty. … Americans have always cherished liberty. But apparently, no freedom is more deeply held — or potentially dangerous — than our right to believe whatever we want.

Livingston County News

What’s the difference between a cult and a church? Often, it depends on where you stand. To the believers inside, their religion provides guidance and security. To the suspicious outside, that creed often looks like a legally sanctioned way to steal. And the truth? That’s something Jim Willis tries to uncover in “American Cults: Cabals, Corruption, and Charismatic Leaders.

New York Daily News

American has spawned hundreds of cults.

Charismatic leaders periodically burst into the news for the most awful of reasons. We are awash with stories of brainwashed members’ struggles to leave. Meet the messianic leaders, see the indoctrination and manipulation, look at their beliefs, and read the stories of some of America’s most notorious, eccentric, and unusual cults!

From false religions and offshoots of traditional religions to political, financial, sexual and hate groups, American Cults: Cabals, Corruption, and Charismatic Leaders looks at 40 groups and leaders, including their histories, deceits, manipulations, and twisted ideologies. Some rely on systems of obedience, submission, and dependency. More than a few have mystifying beliefs. Others are dark and murderous. You’ll encounter curious, bizarre and sometimes upsetting stories of …

  • Charming, manipulative and exploitative leaders—Jim Jones, Jim Baker, David Berg, David Koresh, and many, many others.
  • The breakaways from traditional religions—Father Divine and the Peace Mission, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Westboro Baptist Church, the Gospel of Prosperity, and many more.
  • Political, ponzi, metaphysical, and science schemes—the cult of the scientific method, pyramid schemes, political cults, the Unification Church, and much more.
  • Aliens, extraterrestrials, and the cosmos—Church of Scientology, Raëlians and Heaven’s Gate, to name a few.
  • End-times and doomsday cults—rapture beliefs, Edgar Cayce, the Ant Hill Kids and more.
  • Racial, radical and social media cults—QAnon, Ku Klux Klan, Oath Keepers, Antifa and others.
  • Sex, perversity and submission—NXIVM, Sullivanians, Rajneesh and many more.

    American Cults looks at why America is such a fertile ground for cults, how some people got caught in their webs, and how some managed to escape! With more than 110 photos and graphics, this tome is richly illustrated. Its helpful bibliography provides sources for further exploration, and an extensive index adds to its usefulness.

  • About Jim Willis

    Jim Willis Having earned his master's degree in theology from Andover Newton Theological School, Jim Willis has been an ordained minister for over forty years. He has also taught college courses in comparative religion and cross-cultural studies. In addition, Willis has been a professional musician, high school orchestra and band teacher, arts council director, and even a drive-time radio show host. His background in theology and education led to his writings on religion, the apocalypse, cross-cultural spirituality, and the mysteries of the unknown. Willis resides in the woods of South Carolina.

    Hometown: South Carolina

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