Center for Inquiry Los Angeles Sponsors International Cultic Studies Association on October 15 – 16, 2016

The Center for Inquiry Los Angeles sponsors the International Cultic Studies Association  on October 15 – 16, 2016 in Hollywood, California. It is my hope that former members of cults and individuals in Southern California will participate and get involved.

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

African Proverb

Recovery will never open the gates of heaven to let you in, but it does open the gates of hell to let you out.”

The Center for Inquiry Los Angeles is hosting the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) at its Hollywood location on October 15 – 16, 2016. If you live in Southern California I would encourage you to attend. I attended the ICSA when it was held in Silver Spring, Maryland a couple of years back. They had a session on Sovereign Grace that I attended and listened. It was after I was unsuccessfully recruited into Redeemer Arlington. Earlier in my life I was involved in Mormonism, but the pressure I was under to attend Sovereign Grace was toxic, unhealthy and painful. This blog was eventually born out of that pain. I attended ICSA to try and understand what hit me. How this happened and figure myself out.

I want to thank the Center for Inquiry (CFI) Los Angeles for hosting the ICSA. I hope many Christians will be grateful and thank the  CFI for hosting this event. I also hope that many Christian will not get stuck on the fact that CFI is an organization that promotes secularism and humanism. Last year I wrote a post asking for atheists and those outside the Christian faith to assist in dealing with cults, toxic religious organizations and more. You can read that post called, “Theological Lessons From Democratic Kampuchea; Why Atheists Need to Help Police Modern Evangelical  Christianity.”  Some of us who have been through hell because of a toxic religious group know the pain and trauma it can cause. I live with this today. Its my hope that there are atheists and other Christians who can build bridges and work together in dealing with some of these problems. Its true that in some areas we will disagree, but there are other areas where we can work together to help better our species and humanity and educate and deal with harmful religious groups. I want to draw attention to this conference and use my blog to promote it.  Thanks guys! I love you! 🙂


Leaving and Recovering from Cultic Groups and Relationships: A Workshop for Families and Former Members

Saturday, 9:00 a.m. October 15, 2016 to Sunday 4:45 p.m. October 16, 2016

Center for Inquiry, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027
This workshop, which will take place at the Los Angeles Center for Inquiry, is open to family members and former members of cultic groups. The workshop will include much discussion on topics such as the following:

• Overview of joining, leaving, and recovery
• Why people leave groups and why they stay
• Recovery needs of former members
• Trance and triggers
• Trauma and recovery
• Building relationships

This workshop has been made possible by donations to ICSA and the willingness of facilitators to volunteer their time. Without the dedication of these people, registration fees would be much higher than they are. If you are unemployed, on disability, or otherwise limited financially and need help with the registration fee, please contact us at or (239)-514-3081.

For more information:…/localevents/los-angeles-workshop


The fee for the workshop is $75 per person. One-day attendance is $50. Because of the cooperation of the Center for Inquiry (CFI), CFI members may deduct $25 from the workshop or daily fee. To register, go online:

Registrants receive a free ICSA Web membership or have their existing membership extended.


Rachel Bernstein, MS, LMFT, has been working with former cult members for 25 years. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Educator, who lives in Los Angeles, CA. Rachel ran the Maynard Bernstein Resource Center on cults, named after her father. She was the Clinician at the former Cult Clinic in Los Angeles, as well as the Cult Hotline and Clinic in Manhattan. She now treats former cult members and the families and friends of those in cults in her private practice. Rachel has published many articles, made media appearances, consulted on shows and movies about cults, and has been interviewed for podcasts and YouTube videos.,

Joseph F. Kelly, a graduate of Temple University, has been a thought reform consultant since 1988. He spent 14 years in two different eastern meditation groups. He has lectured extensively on cult-related topics, and is a co-author of Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants, published in ICSA’s Cultic Studies Journal. For many years, Mr. Kelly has also co-facilitated ICSA pre-conference workshops for ex-members. Recently, he helped to initiate ICSA’s monthly meeting in Philadelphia. Websites:;;

Patrick Ryan, a graduate of Maharishi International University, has been a cult intervention specialist since 1984. He is the co-founder of TM-EX, the organization of ex-members of Transcendental Meditation. He established ICSA’s online resource (1995-2013) and has presented 50 programs about hypnosis, inner-experience, trance-induction techniques, communicating with cult members, conversion, cult intervention, exit counseling, intervention assessment, mediation, religious conflict resolution, and other subjects. He has led or co-led ICSA workshops for educators, families, former members, and mental health professionals. Websites:;;

Doni Whitsett, PhD, LCSW, is a Clinical Professor of Social Work at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. Dr. Whitsett teaches various courses in practice, behavior, and mental health. She has been working with cult-involved clients and their families for 20 years and gives lectures to students and professionals in this area. She has presented at national and international conferences. Her publications include The Psychobiology of Trauma and Child Maltreatment (Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2006), A Self Psychological Approach to the Cult Phenomenon (Journal of Social Work, 1992), Cults and Families (Families in Society, Vol. 84, No. 4, 2003), and Why cults are harmful: Neurobiological speculations on inter-personal trauma. ICSA Today, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2014.

One thought on “Center for Inquiry Los Angeles Sponsors International Cultic Studies Association on October 15 – 16, 2016

Comments are closed.