MELBOURNE, Australia, July 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With the release of Rhys Hagan's anticipated debut novel, Hunting Taylor Brown, around the corner, the Australian thriller writer describes what life was like for six years in a Christian cult.
In late 2012, Open Doors Christian Church—a small congregation in regional Victoria, would hit breaking point. By this time Hagan and his family had been attending the group for almost six years and found themselves entirely devoted to extreme religious ideals, but more so, the Pastor.
With a theatrical personality and cunning manipulation, the pastor had ensnared many into believing that she, and only she, was capable of deciphering the will of god. All members of her church were in vulnerable positions; either in old age or youth, single mothers or broken families. Each needed a support base which they found in the 'ordained' arms of Open Doors.
"Fear and isolation are key ingredients to keeping people indoctrinated," said Hagan. "The leader of the church was particularly good at inducing both in the members. I lost most of my friends during my time there and found myself dreading the thought of severing ties to her as I was convinced it would also sever my ties to god and, therefore, life itself.
"It's impossible to describe the control that another person can have over your life—from choosing who you associate with to separating you from your family members. If you control a person's faith you control every decision they make."
Hagan began questioning the validity of the church when he witnessed the Pastor physically assault a child. "She snapped after a sermon one night and took it out on one of the kids." Hagan recalls, "He was wearing a shirt with a skull on it, which she suddenly decided wasn't okay. This lead to her picking him up by his feet, and dropping him on his head. She later mentioned that she expected him to throw up."
Hagan's family, unable to justify her actions, left shortly after.
The ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) developed a fifteen-point list which describes key characteristics of a cult. After several former members of Open Doors examined the list, the general consensus was that the church checked fourteen of the extremist traits.
The aftermath of these events is ongoing and those responsible for facilitating them are expected to meet consequences in the near future.
"The road to recovery was long and, for many, continuous. However, it served us well after getting back to the normal world; for example, it's given me a lot of depth in my writing, especially where my characters are concerned," Hagan remarked.
Hagan's novel is available for purchase from all major online retailers with the eBook currently available for pre-purchase.
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SOURCE Rhys Hagan