Gloversville native’s book to be featured on Hulu show

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There’s long been a national fascination with cults, making them fertile ground for books and documentaries.

Gloversville native Susan Ashline knows this well.

The Emmy-nominated journalist extensively covered the Utica-area Word of Life Christian Church cult in her 2019 book “Without a Prayer,” which will be featured in an episode of “Cult Justice,” a new docuseries on Hulu set to release all eight parts Thursday.

“Interest was high during the pandemic, and then it seemed to wane and, for some reason — right now — the interest has rebounded,” Ashline said.

“Cult Justice” joins “Daughters of the Cult,” another popular docuseries on Hulu, which centers on the polygamous cult leader Ervil LeBaron, as well as Netflix’s “The Program,” which explores corruption at troubled teen schools and programs.

As detailed in “Without a Prayer,” the Word of Life Church made national headlines in 2015 after members of the New Hartford-area cult beat two teenage brothers, killing one. Lucas Leonard, who was 19 at the time, was attacked by a group of churchgoers, including his parents and half-sister, in a beating that lasted hours. He was only taken to the hospital the following day, where he died. Christopher Leonard, who was 17 at the time, was also beaten. Nine members of the church eventually faced murder-related charges.

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