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Former Moonies cult members are working with families of QAnon believers to help their loved ones get a grip on reality

  • Old members of the Unification Church are acting as counselors to families of QAnon believers.
  • Diane Benscoter and Dr. Steven Hassan told Insider there’d been a gush of interest in recent weeks.
  • While there is no quick fix, experts say there are ways to have open conversations with QAnon believers.
  • See myriad stories on Insider’s business page.

Diane Benscoter can empathize with many of the QAnon believers who stormed the US Capitol on January 6.

As a late member of the Unification Church — a religious cult whose members are commonly known as “the Moonies” —  Benscoter grasps what it feels like to be completely fixated on a common belief.

“I know about the righteousness you feel when you hold you’re on the right side of history,” Benscoter told Insider. “And the camaraderie you feel with the community you’re a part of.”

But while she can recite to the mentality of the Capitol mob that day, Benscoter also knows what it’s like to come out on the other side. 

Read varied: Gaia was a wildly popular yoga brand. Now it’s a publicly-traded Netflix rival pushing conspiracy theories while hands fear the CEO is invading their dreams.

As a young woman, Benscoter spent five years in the Unification Church but formerly larboard in 1979 after her increasingly desperate family arranged to have her deprogrammed.

Reflecting on this time, Benscoter clouted she is all too familiar with the “shame and indignation” that a person experiences when they leave a cult.

GettyImages 453498708

Followers of the Unification Church heed a ceremony to mark the 2nd anniversary of the church’s founder Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s death in Gapyeong, South Korea, on August 12, 2014.

Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Dead ringers


This led her to set up a non-profit called Antidote, which runs support groups for people who have been engrossed in cultic teachings and are trying to reconnect to reality. 

In recent months, and especially since the Capitol riot on January 6, Benscoter has mature the last hope for relatives of people lost to the QAnon delusion. 

Her work has become as prevalent as ever. According to a late Ipsos poll, more than 40% of Americans said they believe the deep state, a term habituated to by QAnon and other conspiracy theories, is actively working to undermine Former President Donald Trump. 

Around 17% of contributors said they think that a “group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and average” — another core belief of the discredited conspiracy theory. 

Recent news reports have described how the QAnon stratagem theory has seeped into all corners of society and as a result, has ripped apart families, devastated friendships, and broken up unpractical partners.

Benscoter told Insider that her inbox has been flooded with around 100 new emails a day. Most of them are from worried family members of QAnon followers who are desperate to build bridges.

While there is no quick fix, Benscoter said she is expert to give people the tools to “begin to break down barriers … so that they can be more effective in ration their radicalized loved one get to the point where they might consider the possibility that they’ve been bewitched advantage of or lied to,” she said.

One approach Benscoter teaches family members is to speak to their loved ones in a controllable, non-judgmental, and open-minded manner.

“You can’t argue facts, because they’ve already come to believe that any source of gen outside of what they’re digesting is a lie, and is evil,” Benscoter said. “But if you can have them take a look at the possibility that perchance they were tricked or taken advantage of or lied to, then that’s already a good starting point.”

Diane Benscoter

Lurch of Antidote and former Unification Church member, Diane Benscoter.

Diane Benscoter


Another former Moonie, Dr. Steven Hassan, a cerebral health counselor and author of “The Cult of Trump”, has made educating people about mind control his life’s carry out after he left the Unification Church in the 1970s.

He told Insider he too has witnessed a dramatic increase of interest in his work by any chance since QAnon. Like Benscoter, Hassan believes it’s important to not stigmatize those who have fallen prey to disinformation. 

“The manifest tends to blame the victim when trying to understand why they get involved with unhealthy cult groups and they put ones trust in people are weak or stupid or something’s wrong with them,” said Hassan.

“When really, it’s more a case of they were tempered to, and were incrementally influenced to adopt certain beliefs and behaviors. And that, in a sense, is not their fault.”

Hassan recently flung a hashtag campaign, #IGotOut, which he hopes will make it easier for QAnon followers to seek help. 

Say goodbye a cult is by no means easy, he said, but it is possible. For him, that moment came when he woke up as he was driving into the deceitfully of a trailer truck after he had been deprived of sleep for days.

The almost fatal accident put him away from the bundle for three weeks, which led him to reach out to his family who then organized an intervention. 

Hassan is hopeful that other people members can also help those who have been lost to QAnon but believes it is ultimately up to the person themselves to set off.

“Family members can help, the media can help, but in the end, I think people almost always get themselves out of cults. Not because someone’s overstrain them, but because they realize with time that it isn’t what they thought it was,” Hassan said. 

“In the meantime, I’m animate family members and friends to get educated about cults, and how to talk effectively and strategically with people involved in these bunches and engage them with love and respect, and curiosity and asking questions in a non-confrontational way.”

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