Serafina Tane grew up in the Camp David religious cult. This is what it felt like to leave

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Serafina Tane was born into a religious cult on New Zealand’s South Island. The leader was the charismatic but abusive Douglas Metcalf, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus. For Serafina, the cult was her family. But leaving Camp David for a life without religious rules was more complicated than she had imagined.

When I’ve been back, I’m like, “Wow, it’s like something out of a movie.”

A lot of people would think that it was like living in a castle. There were watchtowers painted white and padlocks on the gates. It’s home, from the inside, but on the outside it’s very walled, gated. You can’t get in unless you have the combination, or somebody lets you in.

It was fun. There were lots of things to explore. We had this sunken garden and it was all paved and there were waterfalls and the inside of the walls had paintings of flowers and trees.

We had a different room [for everything]. So we’d have the library, we’d have the heraldry room, we’d have the sword room.

The rock room had these all these rocks that were gifted by people who had been into collecting rocks before they joined the cult. You go in and there’s just these amazing rocks. Some of them, when you turn off the lights, glow in the dark.

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