Cult of Torture Revisited

When it comes to Netflix’s definitely horror/maybe docu-series Haunted, everyone wants to know the answer to one question: is Haunted real or fake? After all, the series begins every episode with text claiming that the stories are true, but whether or not they actually are tends to depend on how you define “true.” Since the existence of ghosts and demons and aliens is highly contested and nowhere in the realm of accepted, mainstream, scientific truth, there’s a whole lotta room for skepticism when it comes to tales about possessions and vengeful spirits. But Haunted isn’t there to prove the existence of well ghosts or shape-shifting demons. It’s there to give people, purportedly not actors, a chance to tell stories about what they believe happened to them (or, as in way too many of the cases, is still happening to them).

Netflix has a fascinating series called “Haunted” where people share stories about paranormal happenings and other events that have happened in their lives and how those events continue to haunt them to this day.

The current program of Haunted is called “Cult of Torture” had is based upon the real life events of a former church member.

Where Haunted gets into murky territory is when it tells stories that aren’t driven by supernatural means. The “Slaughterhouse” episode in Season 1 stirred up a lot of controversy because viewers were shocked that the show identified a supposedly real serial killer who murdered dozens of people. Similarly, HauntedSeason 2’s “Cult of Torture” episode deals with a very real horror, one that also affected dozens (if not hundreds, if not thousands) of people beyond the main subject. But whereas Google sleuths can’t find any evidence that the events in “The Slaughterhouse” ever took place, “Cult of Torture” is the first episode of Haunted that you can prove without a doubt is based on a very real, very upsetting story.

Is the “Cult of Torture” episode real?

Yes. To summarize–and this description comes with a massive trigger warning for abuse and torture–trauma survivor James Swift tells his story of what it was like growing up in a Christianity-based doomsday cult in Louisiana. His mother joined the church, then known as the Worldwide Church of God, when he was very young. The Worldwide Church of God was founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, a televangelist and the host of a program called The World Tomorrow.

By the time Swift was a teenager, he underwent horrifying torture in order to rid his body of the “gay demon” that was “possessing him.” Church officials pegged Swift as gay before he even knew what gay meant, all because of his effeminate mannerisms, and subjected him to long stretches of total isolation without food. His mother even sexually assaulted Swift in an attempt to make him react to a woman’s touch, which was her way of performing an “exorcism.” When Swift was 15, he was sent to the New Bethany Home for Boys in Arcadia, Louisiana, where he was hosed, kept in a cage, subjected to electroshock conversion therapy, and anally raped. He was kept there for 17 weeks and, after being returned to his abusive home, he and his brother were taken in by his aunt. The church was disbanded, Armstrong was outted as a pedophile who molested his daughter, and the conversion camp was raided and shut down.

Read the entire article here:  “Yes, ‘Haunted’s’ “Cult of Torture” Episode Is About a Real Evangelical Doomsday Cult”

7 Replies to “Cult of Torture Revisited”

  1. James is a brave man. He has survived and has come to meet his demons so that others may be spared from the horror.
    He is to be revered and his message must be heeded.

    1. The armstrongites can’t change until their eyes have been opened. That usually takes the form of disfellowship when they admit, not figure out, but admit that armstrongism is a false religion. The social bond of the order gets broke and they lash out. Shows you that herbalism is a social club more than a religious order.

      By the way, I have to say Cat that I have a kitty that looks identical as to the markings of your avatar. Is this your cat?

  2. I left armstrongism 37 years good riddance to the armstongites and all religions and christian churches I am free from superstition yahoo

  3. It’s very important to separate GOD from all the BS man has done to others. God is a loving God who made us all in His image.

  4. I was born in the “church” for 18 years until I ran away from home.
    We started attending services in NYC. I have 6 siblings,
    No vaccines means no school. (1960s) we walked to school everyday and sent back home daily. Then attended summer school, there was an article in the newspaper about us, I have 18 yrs of abuse, but one I remember specifically, we lived in NJ behind a convent and Catholic school. My mom made friends with them and on Xmas day came to our house with presents for all us kids. And a cooked turkey. ( we didn’t celebrate Christmas)
    It was the first present I ever received,(didn’t celebrate birthdays) my mom called our minister and he told her return all the Xmas presents to the nuns but you can keep the turkey. I remember it all, starving at 5yrs. Old for the day of Atonement 24 hrs, beat with belts, the church had a teenage outing making long paddles, on Saturday they handed them out to the parents to beat us with. Which they did until all us kids buried it in the back yard,along with belts , wooded spoons etc. I really need to write a book.

  5. Behind every cult is a major lie. It’s ironic, given the Commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. The big major lie of the Worldwide Church of God is that God chose Herbert Armstrong to preach the gospel. Don’t blame God, He had nothing to do with Herbert Armstrong, but to call him a liar, false prophet, child of the Devil, evil. Of course, not directly, but through Scripture as an indictment of all who act as Herbert Armstrong did.

    Based on this lie, Herbert Armstrong shrouded him self in (self) righteous clothing as a bringer of light, Apostle, prophet, evangelist and minister. He was none of those. He was an evil salesman borne of corporatism with a penchant for loving to be honored and having nice things. He was never converted. He was evil. He brought darkness. And… he was wrong about nearly everything except for his observations of evil of other people, where he had an exceptional ability to discern what was wrong with others. He also had a blustering enthusiastic temper which made people think he had high energy, where the real truth is he was a blustering angry boozing alcoholic who had influenced congregations into becoming sociopaths, adopting his materialistic conscience.

    The lie: Place of Safety. Where is it, do you suppose? It never existed.

    But the lie affected the children by rendering harsh judgments against them which caused lifetimes of failure and insanity. Childhood should prepare children for their lives, not make them spend a lifetime in recovery.

    It was all a lie with style and appearance deliberately promoted over what little substance there may have been. The ministers became congregational wardens to keep the prisoners in line. Not unlike Brave New World, the poor were kept poor and shackled except one time a year when they could cut loose, only to go back to miserable poverty of slavery.

    It should be pointed out that gay men are men first who just happen to not have an attraction toward the female of the species. It happens in about 2.5% of the population rather consistently, which is two standard deviations from the mean in the bell shaped curve of the binomial theorem.

    Be sure to catch our June blog article “alpha male”.

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