IAmA former religious cult member who spent 27 years having all areas of my life completely controlled by someone else. AMA
I was born and raised in a small communal Bible-based cult in the US. I was a part of the cult until I was 27. Daily life revolved around a church and the pastor's wife, who ran the cult. The children were raised to be workers in the church and to give their lives for what the leader wanted. My siblings, mother, and I were once one of 9 families and other single people when the group originally started, but that has now dwindled down to roughly 3-4 families. We were not allowed to have friends outside the church, to live anywhere except a church-owned house, or leave the church without escort or express permission.
As kids grew up and went to college, they were discouraged from getting jobs to pay for school, but instead heavily encouraged (coerced) to max out student loans and give the money to the church. Student's class schedules were denied or approved, as the leadership saw fit. The single family unit was destroyed and everyone was pressured into viewing the group as one big family.
I have been out now for 4 years and it has been one interesting ride thus far. Learning how to live in the real world has been difficult but the independence and freedom I now have is irreplaceable. My entire family, except for my father, still attends the "church". I still believe in the Bible and I attend church. Needless to say I am extremely skeptical of dogma and religion and I do my best to seek out truth and reject lies.
*Edit: Just sent the moderators proof. Hopefully they can verify soon.
*Edit 2: Moderator verification: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/oh07m/iama_former_religious_cult_member_who_spent_27/c3h8h65
*Edit 3: Thank you all for your comments and questions. If I haven't responded to your questions yet, I am working on getting to you.
*Edit 4: I've been doing this now for about 11 hours and I am too tired to do any more tonight. I will return in the morning to respond to any questions or comments I haven't addressed yet. Thank you all again for your interest and participation in the thread. It's been a great conversation!