“The world is much more than I ever knew”: the constricted lives of Haredi Jewish children

December 6, 2019 • 9:15 am

Haredim” refers to ultra-Orthodox Jews, who constitute over 10% of the population of Israel. There are also many in New York State. They willingly live a cloistered life, having very little contact with other communities or even with less orthodox Jews.  In fact, they’re the most cloistered religious community I know of, though Jehovah’s Witnesses and some Islamic communities can be pretty cloistered, with all of these having the practice of disowning those who leave the faith.

The worst part of all such groups, and especially the Haredim, is their inculcation of the religion in children who never have a choice. This propagandizing, and forcing children to live in a restricted way, is considered by Richard Dawkins to be child abuse, and I agree. If I had my way, children wouldn’t be forced to adopt a religious belief until they had the maturity to choose, but that’s hardly possible with groups like the Haredim, whose children are raised entirely in the faith. And what a constricted life it is! Cut off from the rest of the world, boys are forced to study the Torah for hours a day, while girls are groomed to be wives whose duty is submission and breeding. Education is almost entirely religious, and few go to college. They know virtually nothing of the outside world.

The costs of this abuse are graphically outlined in a new article in the Washington Post (click on screenshot below), detailing the life of Ruth Borovski, an Israeli Haredi Jew who left the faith—and was of course shunned by her family afterwards—after turning to an organization called Hillel, which specializes in integrating ex-Haredim into the “regular” world. (This is not the same Hillel that is an organization on college campuses.)

And it’s a hard job. Until now I hadn’t realized how very isolated these children are. Here’s a list of things that Borovski faced as a girl growing up in this oppressive sect. Note that she was 27 years old when she left, and yet:

  • She never heard of a smartphone
  • She never rode a bus
  • She never heard a radio or saw a television, nor even knew of their existence
  • She never used the Internet nor knew of it
  • She never traveled further than 500 yards from her house
  • She had never talked to a stranger
  • She had 12 brothers and sisters (Haredi women are breeders, as I said)
  • She was denied any secular education. (The result is that now she spends her days in the library voraciously reading anything and everything)
  • She had never eaten non-kosher food (of course)
  • She never swam in a pool nor sat on a beach
  • She was married at 23 to a man whom she met only once: when she was introduced to him by the rabbi. (The marriage was a disaster.)
  • She spoke only Yiddish, and didn’t know either Hebrew or English (she’s learning both)

If this isn’t child abuse, I don’t know what is. And it’s Borovski who said “The world is so much more than I ever knew.”  Ultimately, her story is heartening as she discovers all the good things she was denied as a prisoner of orthodox Judaism, but think of all the Haredi children who, propagandized in the faith, don’t even contemplate ever leaving it. And even Borovski lost nearly three decades of her life.  Would such children choose to live that way if they were exposed to the world before they could choose a religion?

All I can say is thank g-d for Hillel and organizations that help these people find their footing in the nonreligious world. (The Haredim regularly remove Hillel’s posters offering to help those contemplating deconversion.)

This kind of child abuse angers me immensely, for it robs children of their lives, forcing them into a constricted and regimented existence in fealty to a god who doesn’t exist. People may quarrel with Hitchens’s statement that “religion poisons everything,” but in the case of Borovski and her fellow Haredi children, it’s certainly poisoned their entire existence.

h/t: Chris

85 thoughts on ““The world is much more than I ever knew”: the constricted lives of Haredi Jewish children

  1. An equivalent to the Haredi for isolated groups are the Amish and Mennonite sects. Some are less restrictive than others, at least with Mennonites but the more conservative sects live isolated from the rest of the word.

      1. And Amish folk generally interact much more with the outside world… waving at passersby in cars, selling handcrafted products to tourists, and so forth. Letting kids get up to an 8th grade education.

        Still a long way from reasonable, but not as extreme as the Haredim.

        1. Even Old Order Mennonites will interact with the worldly. The take their horses and buggies to the doctor or to shopping malls when required.

          1. A large proportion of our community is Old Order Amish, and we get along pretty well. They have their own school, but share public spaces and businesses in town with everyone else. One great advantage is that the paved roads have what looks like first-rate bike lanes, but are meant for horse-drawn wagons. Amish built a couple of hay barns for us last year, and they frequently ask to camp and fish in one of our valleys.
            We have several groups who moved out here to practice their lifestyle without interference, including a commune of hippies.

            But the big issue raised by the post is whether people have the right to self determination, and at what point their practices differ enough from the norm to warrant interference. I guess I have to take a cautious approach, where unless serious abuse can be proven, what they do is not really my business, as long as they pay me the same courtesy.

            But I do think that one of the real advantages of living in the US is the freedom to live in accordance with our own beliefs, where it does not infringe on our neighbor’s right to do likewise.

    1. This is fairly uncommon these days. Most Amish in the US have significant interactions with “the English” and most Mennonites are engaged with their non-Menno communities. True, there are some Anabaptists that have removed themselves from society, but those are usually groups that have moved out of the US. I know of no Amish community in this country that comes close to the Haredi re isolation.

      1. Having briefly and recently worked with a company in Lancaster PA, I met many Amish. None had cell phones and most rode in those strange buggies, but beyond that and their dress/hair styles, they seemed to be part of the community in almost every respect.

        1. Yes Edward, almost by definition the Amish travel by horse and buggy. Interestingly they are OK with riding along with the English for a trip to Aldi’s or Sarasota 🙂 Many of the Amish in Elkhart and Lagrange counties in IN have cell phones, but they have to leave them outside when they are home.

          1. I must say, the ones I met in and around Lancaster were delightful people. Kind and gentle. Of course this was a small selection.

          2. If they are like the Mennonites then that depends on the sect. Old Order don’t use anything like cellphones but less conservatives Mennonite groups drive cars etc.

            1. Most of the Mennonites I’m aware of in Oregon
              maintain a certain standard of dress which makes it clear they are Mennonite, but they seem to mix relatively well with non-Mennonites. There is a retirement community, adult care facility in Albany run by Mennonites that serves everyone.

              Oregon also has some colonies near Woodburn of Russian Orthodox Old Believers who arrived after the 1917 revolution in Russia.”

            2. Indeed, Mennonites run the gamut from Old Order who are very similar to Amish, to Mennos that are generally indistinguishable from any other progressive Christian denomination, including ordained gay pastors.

          3. Ummm….ye-e-s, uhhh. Hereabouts it’s referred to “driving the Amish”, and you can get paid for being the driver.

            But I feel kind of weird with this, just as I feel weird with the Shabbos Goy.

            It’s a sin of some sort to drive a car or work on the Sabbath. Okay, it’s a sin and we won’t do it.

            But it’s oh so nice to ride in a warm car in the winter and an air conditioned car in the summer. We can enjoy those amenities while the English bears the sin and evil thereof.

            We can’t do things for our comfort on the Sabbath, but we have the Shabbos Goy to do the forbidden things for us and bear the sin thereof.

            This really skeeves me. Hey, if it’s evil and sinful, don’t indulge in it by having someone else bear the stain. To me, there’s an unspoken slur upon the English or the Shabbos Goy. They’re unclean beings, let them go to hell for doing the dirty work while we enjoy the benefits.

            Or am I wrong? Is there something I don’t understand?

            1. You’re not wrong, but it it all falls in the realm of absurdity, not worth seriously fretting over. When you start with flawed assumptions, all manner of absurd consequences follow. Best to have a good chuckle and watch the show, IMO.

            2. Indeed, I have always found it both perplexing and amusing how the Amish are “in the world but not of it” a la John 2:15-17. The entire culture is designed to distinguish their group from the world, until it becomes kinda handy to cut a corner here and there. No electricity – it ties you to the world, but if the Bishop says it’s OK to use a Bobcat around the farm, OK, just don’t be driving it out and about for fun! I asked an Amishman about the Amish fellow that pedals the wooden hearths for the fake fireplaces, and his response was “He’s not REAL Amish!”

              1. Unfortunately, a good many versions of Christianity hold weird views of what gets you to, and who goes to, heaven. From the ones who believe it’s foreordained who gets there to ones who believe all can get to heaven if they say the right words before dying. Any number of groups believe it matters on which day you believe Sabbath occurs, what you eat, and whether or not you celebrate Christmas. There are even those who believe a second act of grace is required (sanctification). Not to mention all the rules about what you can and can’t do and when to still be a christian. I can’t even recall all the odd christian beliefs and practices throughout the world, but it can make for perplexing and amusing reading.

      2. In Ontario, where I am, there is a large community of the “anabaptists” the Old Order who separated from the others. They are very isolated, use horse and buggy, don’t speak English in church or at home and have very limited interactions with outsiders. They still do interact but only when they have to though I think as Christians they are hospitable. A family friend once went in the ditch driving home in a snow storm, knocked on the door of an Old Order Mennonite family and they took her in for the evening and were hospitable to her.

          1. I used the quotes to emphasize a technical term. I’m pretty sure it’s something more that someone studying a religious group would say rather than the group itself. Mennonites would more likely describe themselves as “Old Order”, “Conservative” etc. Just like you don’t hear Presbyterians necessarily referring to themselves as “Calvinist” or English speakers referring to English as a Germanic Indo European language.

            1. I will only take modest exception. Having grown up in a historically Anabaptist tradition, most do not see it as a technical term. Generally the term is used, in historical order, for Mennonites [Menno Simons], Hutterites [Jacob Hutter]and Amish [Jacob Ammann], and earned the pejorative name because of the heresy of adult baptism, or re-baptizers. The Catholic and Protestants of that era 91500’s] hunted down, imprisoned, tortured and murdered many anabaptists. Technically any denomination that practices adult baptism on a confession of faith rather than infant baptism would be considered anabaptist. The anabaptist denominations are also known as the historical peace churches because of the refusal to take up the arms of war.

              1. Okay then but my reason for using the apostrophe is still grammatically sound. 🙂

        1. “…they took her in for the evening and were hospitable to her.”

          Ha! Sounds like a confrontation with aliens from another planet. I guess they kind of are.

  2. … they’re the most cloistered religious community I know of, though Jehovah’s Witnesses and some Islamic communities can be pretty cloistered …

    The Amish and non-LDS fundamentalist Mormon sects tend to lead pretty cloistered existences, too.

        1. They tend to ostracize those who leave and when you’ve been raised in the culture and no nothing of the modern world, leaving is pretty scary, especially for a woman.

  3. Of course all religions do the forced indoctrination to a certain degree, this one just being more extreme. It is what makes religion go around and keeps it in business. All various forms of a cult large and small. Believe in this and it will set you free only it’s not free at all. Nearly one fifth of the children in the city where I live are institutionalized in religious schools. It is expensive, not for the poor of course but it insures the religious sect lives on. I can only guess that going from K through 12 in a religious institution and having religious parents pretty much locks you in for life. They have done everything but put it in the DNA. Maybe they will.

  4. Ten percent. Wow. That is what fast breeding will do for you. In the future they will be even more powerful politically. Already the ultra-orthodox parties hold disproportionate power because of Israel’s hung elections.

    1. Yeah, this is what KD was saying, and I was tending to agree, in the other thread. Hmm.
      If only there were a word for the process where one type of transmissible trait out-reproduces others…

  5. There was a great book about this that came out a few years ago, by a man who left the Haredim community: All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir, by Shulem Deen. It was stunning to realize what goes on in these closed communities (including the massive welfare fraud that sustains them), and to realize that they could even exist in the United States.

  6. I’d recommend the 2017 movie “Disobedience,” which is excellent, to show how even a less extreme form of Orthodox Judaism can crush the spirit. Rachel Weisz and Rachel MacAdams do a terrific job as the stars.

  7. These Orthodox children are being abused. However, note that children in fundamentalist homeschooling are similarly mistreated. They gradually may become exposed to the real world, but for most of their youth they are kept on a tight leash. I have young relatives who went from home schooling to Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan). No respite from the narrow view their parents hold. When they graduate, they will potentially have a hard time adjusting to human society as we know it.

  8. It’s tragic of course and abusive, but I wish people would emphasize the lack of EDUCATION rather than a lack of gizmos. I deliberately didn’t have a smartphone until a few years ago and my background includes being in the performing arts, writing (journalism, science, fiction), foreign languages, international travel, an advanced degree and a bohemian lifestyle. These kids, like the Amish, are devoid of any instruction about the arts, poetry, the sciences, theater, and cinema. They don’t know anything about the great masters in these fields or about experimenting in life, discovering life, and sadly the internet, commercial culture today and smartphones might simply give them a high-tech ignorance rather than a truly expanded existence.

    1. I take your point, that it’s the person’s breadth of knowledge rather than their gadgets that matters.

      However, I think you’re wrong on two counts.

      First, as means of communication, cellphones, radio and TV are as pervasive in modern society as the motor car. And never having seen one is a symptom of having been utterly cut off from communication with the outside world. The same as someone in Victorian times who had never even seen a book or a newspaper, would be. So it’s a very telling indicator.

      And secondly, your rather elitist statement that the Internet (to which smartphones are all connected) “might simply give them a high-tech ignorance rather than a truly expanded existence.” Really? Your position reminds me of mediaeval authoritarians who didn’t believe the masses should be taught to read in case they read the wrong things.

      If you would set out to educate such a person now about, say, foreign languages, international travel, the arts, poetry, the sciences, theater, and cinema – how would you start? Probably by giving them a gizmo, which is to say a computer or a smartphone, Internet-connected. Heck, if you did nothing but launch them on Youtube/Google/Wikipedia, they’d learn a lot (much of it trivia or nonsense, but along with that would be a wide variety of information).


  9. If this IS child abuse – and I think it is – what can be done about it. I’m inclined to think some kind of intervention is a moral imperative. While parental rights are strongly indulged in the U.S., I’m beginning to think there should be a way to reduce the suffering. Perhaps there should be a requirement that children attend a part of their education in a public school. Sounds pretty heavy handed, but this is a desperate situation. Analogous to how many states mandate that children be inoculation against disease, we should consider inoculating these children against fundamentalist indoctrination.

    1. “Perhaps there should be a requirement that children attend a part of their education in a public school.”

      I used to think that public education was required for children in the U.S. However, now there are a great many religious schools and home schooling. Betsy DeVos seems to want to further erode public education and increase greatly the ignorance therefrom.

    2. See the link to the article I put here somewhere. The government in Canada did step in in this case. However, that was extreme as they violated standards for providing care to their children and educating them according to educational standards. People tend to be able to do some horrible things with kids. I feel very sad for some of the JW kids that are dragged out with their parents, having known several JWs when I was a kid. I think a couple escaped the dogma but one is an absolute fanatic.

      1. You can only pity them. I have nephews who are pretty deeply ensconced as they reach college age. I feel terrible for them, even though they seem happy now. I dare not say anything overt because I might harm family relationships.

  10. I object to the characterization of the women as “breeders.” This is a dehumanizing term. Stating that Rachel had 12 brothers and sisters is an adequate characterization of her parents’ choice (?–I hope it was a choice, especially for her mother)to have a large family.

    1. Do you take offence at the term or the fact that a Haredi woman’s primary role is to produce children and therefore they are married off as pre-teens?

    2. Characterizing women as “breeders” may be objectionable, but it is true in many religions and cultures. In such situations where the men control and the women have few, if any, rights, the women are often used and viewed predominantly as sex objects and breeders of children. The breeding of children is a major factor in numerous religions (as well as predominantly agricultural settings in which children add some wealth to the family by their use for labor). Lack of birth control is a focus in many as well, promoted worldwide by Catholicism, evangelical Christianity and the U.S. Government.

    3. I also don’t care for the term ‘breeders’; it is dehumanizing. It’s as if they are not worthy of sympathy from those outside their communities, but should be thought of as little better than livestock.

      The situation for women in the Haredi world is that they are under intense pressure to marry young and have many children; they also are not permitted to use birth control. Some portion of the women are fine with this, and some won’t be.

      I’ve worked with people here in the US, who I assumed were Catholic (or perhaps Mormon), who either had a lot of children or grew up in families with 8+ siblings. Would it be appropriate to refer to the mothers of these American children as breeders?

      1. The situation for women in the Haredi world is that they are under intense pressure to marry young and have many children; they also are not permitted to use birth control. Some portion of the women are fine with this, and some won’t be.

        Yes, breeders. It’s not Jerry calling them breeders, he’s simply labelling what their religion thinks of them – they think of them as breeders. The one doing the dehumanizing is their religion, not Jerry.

        1. One of my Orthodox Jewish great-grandmothers had 10 children. Another had 7 children. I don’t consider them breeders. They may have led difficult circumscribed lives, but I respect them.

          Does anyone reading this consider these two women to be breeders?

          It’s interesting that no one is insulting the fathers of all these Haredi children, such as referring to them as sperm factories.

          1. You seem to be determined to miss the point. Jerry is pointing out that the Haredi consider women in general to be “breeders” because their main purpose is to have their children as their biological destiny. No one said anything about your parents or anything else and it wasn’t Jerry calling people “breeders” he was simply labelling what others think.

          2. I concur with Diana.

            In addition, “breeding” is not exclusive to the Haredi or Orthodox Jews. If you look through certain periods of history and to the economics thereof, you’ll find large families were very common. There was a time when large families not only carried forward the name, heritage and traditions of the clan, but they worked on your family farm or were sent off to work elsewhere to bring money in to the family. One of my uncles was sent to work at a neighbor’s farm when he was ten years old.

            In some cultures without birth control, historically and now, unwanted children were killed after birth. Roman fathers could determine which of their children lived. China’s historically recent emphasis on one child per family caused the deaths of many female children. As a result, Chinese men are now buying wives from Pakistan and other countries. The preference for male children in Pakistan, India and elsewhere has caused the murder of innumerable female babies. Some districts are reported to have few or no female babies recently. There was a news article this week about a family burying their stillbirth child and discovering a live premature baby buried about three feet down
            who was subsequently taken to a hospital and who lives.

            In addition to being “breeders”, farm women who usually got up before the men to light fires and lamps, and cook breakfast before the rest of the family arose to work the farm were still preparing meals when the sun went down and, sometimes, expected to provide sex to their husband afterward. Not as much entertainment on the family farm as you might think.

            My christian great grandmother and grandfather who lived for a time in a sod house in Kansas had eight boys (one set of twins) and gave the eighth the middle name of Octavius. If you look at genealogy, you’ll see many family records in which the male parent had a number of children with a first wife who eventually died in childbirth and who married again to produce yet more children. My grandfather’s first wife died in childbirth and he married again. My mother is from that second marriage. Sometimes they had three or four wives. I found a distant relative who had at least 16 children with multiple wives, and he was known to produce children with women to whom he was not married as well.

            In addition, consider that life expectancy for children (and wives) was often shortened due to common illnesses that are no longer common: typhoid, tuberculosis, measles, etc. Go to a few old cemeteries and you may see tombstones for a number of young children of the same family who died relatively close together. I’ve seen six. You couldn’t count on the number of children who might survive you.

            1. Human reproductive “strategy” was good for maintaining population levels for many thousands of years prior to farming. Unable to change, the same behavior now causes explosive overpopulation. The unfairness of the system for women is partly the result of our biology, however, modern culture has given us the potential to overcome our “cave man” nature. It’s a work in progress.

              1. Agreed. In the old days, factory-farming brats was good insurance against high infant mortality rates. Just like eating all the food you could get your hands on was a sort of insurance against a lean patch in hunting or fishing. These days, both habits are inappropriate* and pernicious.

                * in the correct sense of the word

              2. “It’s a work in progress.” I hope so.

                In re excessive population, it is one of the most important aspects of impending climate change disasters that we need to modify ASAP.
                The issue of too many people’s impact on heating of the planet, not enough water and food, etc. could be minimized by population control.

              3. I agree. Population pressure is also helping to destroy ecosystems in many other ways too. We should have started on that one long ago.

        2. I agree with Diana. ‘Breeders’. I’m trying to think of an equivalently derogatory term for the men involved. Something implying they can’t keep their reproductive organs in their pants.

          I feel tempted to go off on a rant about the population explosion and call all of them ‘public menaces’, especially the ones who exist on and abuse the welfare system of a society they despise. The world does not need more people, especially not religious nutters who think God wants them to breed like rabbits.

          (I should be clear this snark applies to (some) Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, whatever. If it quacks like a duck…).


          1. It isn’t as short or snappy a phrase, but I’ve heard this type of guy referred to as someone who follows his dick around.

            1. Though, of course, this isn’t how the Haredi would see it except that they most likely pressure men to seed many children and those men that don’t are admonished as being a wussy or something.

    4. You are missing the point. Using the term breeders is leveled at those who force it upon others. PCC(E) is clearly calling them out:
      “This kind of child abuse angers me immensely, for it robs children of their lives, forcing them into a constricted and regimented existence in fealty to a god who doesn’t exist.”

  11. A few years ago, a victim of a similar group in Quebec was suing both his parents and the provincial ministry of education for not giving him a secular-enough education (for example, he struggled speaking in English and spoke no French at all) so he could work “on the outside”. As much as I am ambivalent about suing public education entities, I think it is appropriate here.

    In case it is not clear why: the provincial ministry of education is supposed to ensure that minimum standards are followed, even for home schooling and religious schools (especially the latter) precisely so kids don’t get screwed over by their parents. This apparently was not done.

    I do not know the state of this case, nor remember the name of the hapless victim, unfortunately.

  12. Catholicism is another religion that inculcates children with its nonsense. When I was attending convent school in the ’50s the nuns (whom I regard as nasty vicious women) did their best to ensure our adherence to the faith through guilt, fear and loathing. One nun told a class member, who was not Catholic, that her parents, because they were not Catholic, were living in sin. Another told a girl, whose name was Philomena, that she no longer had a name, because St Philomena had been decanonised. When my family moved to a new suburb I attended the local Baptist Sunday school as there was no Catholic church nearby and I was told by a nun that I must not go there because the Baptists don’t teach the truth. In my whole primary and secondary education we were never told anything positive about other religions nor learned anything about the history of them, other than that they were heretics for splitting from Catholicism. Frank McCourt’s autobiography “Angela’s Ashes” is a true rendition of what this religion is like and how it ensures that all its adherents are steeped in guilt and fear. Glad to say, I’m a recovering Catholic.

    1. I had a Catholic girlfriend many years ago who told me that as a very young child she pleaded with her parents to take her to Mass because the nuns at her convent school would ask on Monday who had attended, and tell the others that they would “burn in hell”. All to no avail, poor kid. Of course, in later life her mother became hyper-religious and started attending church, going on pilgrimages etc. Typical!

      I’m really not sure why so many parents insist on sending their offspring to religious schools despite being lapsed practitioners of the religion themselves. Some kind of atonement / insurance policy? (My wife also had a convent education from the ages of 5 to 18, although I’m not quite sure about what the nuns actually taught her, as her lack of knowledge of the Bible and Xtianity is occasionally astonishing. But she’s the one with the PhD and is the main breadwinner now, so I’m in no position to criticise.)

      1. I can’t speak for all religious schools, but Catholic schools tend to educate children to a higher level on average than public schools in many areas – at least in subjects that don’t conflict with their religion. Many private schools have some religious angle, and parents may have to choose between sending their children to a better school that’s religious or a worse school that’s not.

        I’m not saying that’s a large factor. I don’t know. But within a few years I’ll be sending my daughter to school, and I’ll certainly be taking a look at private schools, religious or not, given the state of my local public schools.

      2. The catholics I have known have little knowledge of Christian history, the development of the Bible or what’s in the Bible. I had a catholic friend who objected to the fact the her priest had been married before becoming a priest. I told her catholic priests used to be married and have children. She was shocked. I didn’t go into the fact that other forms of catholicism, other than Roman, allow priests to marry. I also found that how rigidly some catholics follow the tenets of the church depends on how it affects them personally. I know catholics who use birth control. I know catholics who believe divorce is OK.

        But, ignorance of religious history and the Bible is not exclusive to catholics. Many evangelical christians seem equally ignorant.
        Two creation myths. What? No book of the New Testament written at the time Jesus lived (if he lived). What? Names of authors of the books of the New Testament ascribed to them without proof. What? Two different versions of Jesus’ genealogy. What?

        1. Not surprising that Catholics don’t know what’s in the Bible, since they think it needs to be ‘interpreted’ for the faithful by the church hierarchy. Wasn’t one of the big points of contention in the split between Catholics and Protestants because the latter insisted on having Bibles and services in English so the sheep could understand it?

          (Not that it makes any sense in English anyway…)


  13. Ah, you cast stones. You look and you say how terrible it is, trapped in these communities. I say, look at the children, see how happy they are or are not. Look at the families, see how happy, purposeful, directed, they are or not. Ask them what life is about. See how coherent an answer you get.

    Now look around you, not at the communities you described, but at any street in your town. Look at the disaffected youth, see how happy they are or are not. Look at the adults, look at the families, see how happy, purposeful, directed, they are or not. Ask them what life is about. See how coherent an answer you get.

        1. For starters, how about if I (as a member of the alleged cult) want to leave? Or stop attending any religious services?


        2. I’d start by asking questions like “Do the members of this group shun people who leave the group?”. Or “Do members of the group prevent their children from learning about the universe?”. I might ask “Do members of this group venerate religious figures?”.

          It isn’t that hard, David.

          One might ask “Do members of this group seek happiness by hiding in closed social circles for fear of being contaminated by people who aren’t like them?”.

    1. An adequate description of brainwashed sheep. You could get the same results for the patients of a mental institution if you feed ’em enough qaaludes and valium. 😎


  14. As usual, Weird Al Yankovic has a comedic take on this if you’re interested. Look up “Weird Al Amish Paradise” on YouTube.

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