Lies, manipulation and blind faith: My life inside Australia’s nameless sect

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Elizabeth Coleman was just 16 when she stood up in a Canberra school hall and publicly declared she was ready to follow Jesus.

It was 1990 and she was standing amid a group of people professing her faith to the worldwide but nameless religious group she had been born into.

She was a late starter, and for years she had been plagued with pressure from her community to profess.

The moment was followed by congratulations from others in the hall, who threw their arms around her. Some were even crying out of sheer joy.

“I was a bit shocked afterwards when people were coming up and hugging me and literally crying and congratulating me. I found it quite strange and off-putting. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting that,” she told

Before her commitment, meeting attendance as part of the group’s requirements was more than twice a week. Often after school hours and Sunday nights.

But now, as a professing member, she was expected to actively partake in the Sunday morning meetings too.

Every Saturday night she tried to come up with a spiritual message to share with the group the next morning. She knew that keeping up appearances was important if she was ever to be allowed baptism under the unique rules of the sect’s doctrine.

But for the next meetings, Coleman – who shied away from publicly sharing her spiritual messages with the group – struggled.

After often experiencing shortness of breath and panic attacks she stopped speaking in the meetings for weeks. She was eventually taken aside by one of the preachers.

“If you weren’t speaking in the meetings, maybe you had a troubled spirit. But if you are doing all the right things, buying all of their living rules and their external rules and how you look and speak in the meetings and putting on a show, then you have a good spirit,” Coleman says she was told.

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1 comment

  1. Children born into cultic groups typically have no concerned parents that raise questions about the group. Instead parents often reinforce the group’s indoctrination and practices.

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