The Great Esc8pe

I’ve always said this world is full of crazy people. You know what? I’m right! Authoring “Altar Call” provokes a constant stream of emails to my inbox. They’re usually chock full of assertions about how bad I “suck” or how I’m the “father” of their “child.” However, I was quite disturbed by a recent email from a young man who identifies himself only by his internet handle, “Esc8ped_Cult_69.” Be forewarned: his story, which I will encapsulate here, is not for the faint of heart, as it involves being raised in and then escaping from a cult.

When he was only five years old, Esc8ped_Cult_69Â’s parents became involved in the local branch of a mysterious cult. His first memories include what appeared to be a bizarre water-worship ceremony at which members of the cult dunked him in a large pool of water, nearly drowning him. At school, he was supposed to keep quiet about his beliefs, but he tacitly sensed that the other kids and their parents were members of the supernatural, sectarian society, too. Every weekend for over a decade, Esc8ped_Cult_69Â’s mother and father forced him to attend “educational courses,” where he was brainwashed by their rigid, cult curriculum. 

A variety of disturbing beliefs were instilled in the young Esc8ped_Cult_69 during the weekly brainwashing sessions. For instance, one of the cult’s core beliefs includes the notion that one magical entity has complete power over the entire universe! Wow! Amidst kids getting crushed in mudslides, HBO’s Mr. Show having been cancelled, and hundreds of thousands of people getting washed away in tsunamis, he was told that this entity was all-powerful and just. The conflicting information understandably left Esc8ped_Cult_69 pretty confused: “Why couldn’t this magical being help a brotha out? Or perhaps help any one of the few million starving brothas out?”

The cult also taught Esc8ped_Cult_69 that all humans descended from just two people! Upon inquiring about this unsettling notion, he was told, “Incest is best, put your family to the test…just kidding, kid – no asking questions! Just believe.” He was also instructed to accept the idea that the earth had only been around for about six thousand years, despite the overwhelming body of scientific evidence proving otherwise. After bringing dinosaur fossils to one of the weekly ceremonies, Esc8ped_Cult_69 was ridiculed with ape-like noises and told to “have faith no matter what.” As punishment for his insolence, he was banned from the cult’s creepy, semimonthly ritual of simulated cannibalism – a ceremony in which cult members eat their deity’s “body” and drink its “blood.”

Of the cult’s many beliefs, Esc8ped_Cult_69 found their concepts of the afterlife and the end of the world most disconcerting. They believe that, after death, cult members enjoy an eternity of orgasmic pleasure and continual praise of their mystical superior. Any of the other billions of people on Earth who aren’t members of the cult will be condemned to an eternity of pain and suffering, including constant thrashings of the genitalia. What a whacky cult! They also openly welcome the end of the world, expecting that they, as their deity’s chosen people, will be taken to the aforementioned afterlife-paradise. Everyone “left behind” can expect war, disease, famine, and natural disasters on a precedented scale (i.e.: modern human history).

As his screen name implies, Esc8ped_Cult_69 eventually escaped the cult’s clutches. He explains: “I started dating an atheist (it’s true: beliefs concerning things supernatural are sexually transmitted!), took some college courses on religion, and read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. These things were instrumental in helping me confirm ideas I long suspected were true, but they weren’t quite enough – I needed something to help unlearn the cult’s twisted logic. A fellow escapee suggested I take multiple doses of psychedelic mushrooms, which indeed helped me deprogram my brain.” The cult wouldn’t let him go easily – he was barraged by phone calls, texts, facsimiles, smoke signals, emails, snail-mail, the Pony Express, telegraphs, singing telegrams, and even the jumbotron! Only after a high-speed chase and a multiple-casualty shootout was he finally able to evade their terrifying grip.

At first, I was unmoved by Esc8ped_Cult_69Â’s email. There are an incalculable number of cults out there with as many different practices and beliefs. He was raised in a weird one and was able to escape, good for him. However, it wasnÂ’t until he began listing some of the members of the cult that I became extremely alarmed. He claimed that the United States government is replete with cult members! From the dogcatcher to the president, almost all of them at least purport to practice this outrageous, ritualistic behavior and have faith in these ridiculously improbable beliefs! What happens if our elected officials let their arcane and anachronistic superstitions affect their public policy decisions? IÂ’m frightenedÂ….

Wake up, America! Our country is controlled by a cult! And its members believe the world will end at any time! It’s comparable to the person that’s about to declare bankruptcy – he knows he’s about to be protected from his creditors, so he charges a bunch of super-expensive items on his credit cards. This attitude goes a long way towards explaining Congress’ recent efforts to create all-encompassing legislation that would merge education, environment, social security, a preemptive strike, and an invade/occupy foreign policy into one “Armageddon Initiative Act.” Why wouldn’t they? Their deity will come down and magically save them any second now…. Be afraid, my friends. Be very afraid.

Ginglini Tortialini hails from Baton Rouge and may or may not have told Esc8ped_Cult_69 to eat psychedelic mushrooms. Email him with your cult stories at