Radhia Gleis discusses her award-winning new book “THE FOLLOWERS: ‘Holy Hell’ and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders: How My Years in a Notorious Cult Parallel Today’s Cultural Mania.” The autobiographical volume describes the author’s 25 years in the BuddhaField cult led by Jaime “Michel” Gomez, an apparent narcissistic sociopath and homosexual predator-cum-hypnotherapist with a flair for plagiarizing spiritual books and trying out their tricks on unsuspecting seekers. (And as the Firesign Theater reminds us, there’s a seeker born every minute!)
Taking up where Will Allen’s documentary Holy Hell left off, Gleis systematically compares Jaime Gomez’s BuddhaField with Donald Trump’s MAGA movement…and discovers a long list of similarities. Though her core argument is convincing—yes, Trump is a narcissistic sociopath and de facto cult leader who manipulates rubes in many of the same ways that Jaime Gomez, Jim Jones, Rev. Moon, and other such con artists have—she drinks way too much Democratic Party kool-aid along the way. And though she ignorantly slanders the Qur’an, her post-BuddhaField spiritual/religious views are beautifully-expressed and uncommonly insightful. So though this interview certainly wasn’t as contentious as the Mona Shaikh meltdown, there were definitely some differences of opinion on display.
Speaking of which, I discussed the issue of cults in my khutba (Islamic sermon) Friday afternoon: