In cooperation with author Luna Lindsey Corbden (Recovering Agency) and Youtuber Jonathan Streeter (Thoughts on Things and Stuff), I have developed a short self assessment to help people:
  1. Determine if they were raised in a cult or high-demand religion, and/or
  2. Learn to more quickly identify the techniques used by unhealthy people and organizations to wield undue influence over family, friends, employees, or members.
This self assessment should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete.  A PDF of the assessment can be found here.
We also highly encourage you to learn and study these principles to avoid being taken advantage of by unhealthy individuals and organization (including family members, businesses, corporations, governments, etc) .
Finally, if you enjoyed this episode, please check out our in-depth, 17+ hour exploration of the book “Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control” with author Luna Lindsey Corbden on Mormon Stories Podcast. These episodes will be released starting next week.

Download MP3


  1. Desley Innis June 26, 2021 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    John, on your podcast on Cults you gave an outcome with scores divided from (a) to (f). My score was 70. You didn’t express what the outcome meant. I’m convinced the Mormon church has many cultish elements. I would like to know the level of cultish-ness my score represents. My guess is that you will discuss the score outcomes on another podcast.

    Interesting podcast. Thank you.

  2. Billy Hinds June 26, 2021 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    74% – solid D

  3. Leah Young June 27, 2021 at 6:24 am - Reply

    100%. Wow. This is so valuable John!

  4. Susan Bickmore June 27, 2021 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    I just finished listening to Was I raised in a Cult. I left the LDS church 4 years ago and lost my marriage of almost 25 years. I was LDS my whole life and all in. I served a mission, graduated from BYU, married in the Temple, and served in many callings including YW president. I started to really question things as I saw doctrine changing over time, and polygamy never sat well with me. Soon I felt less and less comfortable in church and started to disagree with some of the political issues I saw the church aligning itself with ie: prop 8 in California. As soon as I discovered there was doctrine purposely hid from it’s members that was harming to the church, I was out. I had my name removed through quitmormon. I still struggle with the indoctrination. I listen to RFM, Bill Reel, and you. I took the cult quiz and the church got a 98%. I’m grateful there is support out there

  5. Susan Bickmore June 27, 2021 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    LDS Church 98%

  6. Amy Richards June 27, 2021 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I scored a two for every question, so that means 68/68, 100%, meaning that according to this assessment, the LDS Church is a Cult from my experience. I love how these questions can be applied to a lot of different organizations and relationships.

  7. Andrew Stewart-Cook June 28, 2021 at 12:32 am - Reply

    Score. 98%. LDS church.

  8. Christine Hubel June 28, 2021 at 8:04 am - Reply

    I scored an 88%. I am 71 years old and I’m now discovering things about the Mormon Church I don’t like. It makes me very sad that I scored so high this is something I’ve been involved in for many many years. And have given my whole heart. But I find myself doubting and had to do my research. I will continue with my research and find out the truth about the church. I probably will be ridiculed for what I’m doing but that’s okay.

  9. Rob B June 28, 2021 at 9:14 am - Reply

    94% score for me in LDS church. Solid F.

  10. Shawn G. June 28, 2021 at 9:41 am - Reply

    57/68=84% for my life experience having grown up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It probably took me about 4 years (beginning in 2016) to slowly deconstruct on my own without reading any of the available alternative narrative literature available. At that point I asked for a release from my calling in the bishopric while I weighed things out. When COVID hit, I suddenly had a whole bunch of time to myself, and that’s when I started discovering podcasts and books including Steven Hassan’s, Combatting Cult Mind Control. In November 2020 I told my wife I could not in good conscience carry on with my support for the Church. The damaging aspects of Church membership are so difficult to see or acknowledge when you’re ‘in’. Now that I’m not, it’s crystal clear to me that the Church is indeed a high-demand religion with striking similarities to other religious organizations that TBM’s would identify as cults. I’m excited for Luna Lindsey Corbden week and the discussion around this very helpful work. Thank you for putting this all together John.

  11. Jen Renart June 28, 2021 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Damn. Literally 100%. 🤦‍♀️ As a member, I would occasionally hear criticisms about some of this stuff being unhealthy, but I scoffed. One of those thought-stopping clichés was the idea that every church or social group behaved this way, or that this is the way our hearts are opened, or that the only valid image of unhealthy is if we’re so extreme that we live in the woods in a compound literally praying to the leader. Yikes… I took notes, and looking back over this list, every social group definitely does not behave like this. Understanding frameworks like this and the BITE Model need to be part of common discourse. So many people have no idea what a manipulation red flag looks like… I definitely would have had NO idea if I hadn’t been trying to make sense of my experience in Mormonism. (And in the ten years between stopping attending and actually looking into it, I got into a huge number of bad situations because I was conditioned to think manipulative behavior was normal, or even loving.) Thank you so much for helping spread this information.

  12. Justin Howlett June 28, 2021 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I scored Mormonism at 89.7

  13. Rene Northrup June 28, 2021 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    94% ugh!

  14. David G June 28, 2021 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I scored 69 on my long membership with the LDS church. On some of the questions, I would have scored “3’s” for added exclamation and emphasis.

  15. Heidi Anderson June 28, 2021 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Score 75%. LDS Church

  16. Stephanie Mulford June 28, 2021 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    76% Mormon church. And I think I was being generous! 😂

  17. Molly B June 29, 2021 at 11:14 am - Reply

    86% as a Jehovah’s Witness. Wasn’t too surprised really, been thinking this for some time.

  18. Ellen June 29, 2021 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Folks, now take it again only substitute the government and it’s rhetoric and actions since Covid19 began.. Excepting love bombing and demand for purity and maybe one or two others, it’s all there! We are living in a much bigger cult than any religion. Wake UP!!

  19. Bonita (Mormon) June 29, 2021 at 5:22 pm - Reply


  20. Nolan Jones June 29, 2021 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    LDS Church (California and Utah) 76% = D. Considering the near microscopic size of the LDS church relative to global populations, any reasonable mind would conclude that the mainstream LDS church is a cult. Maybe we are in the middle of a great reformation and cultural shift that reduces the “cultiness” of the church over the next 50 years. Maybe in 50 years the church will rate B or A on the scale.

  21. Manuela S June 30, 2021 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Thank you for this!
    My score was 75% for my LDS church experience in Germany. Although I have been out of it for ca. 10 years now the thinking patterns of self-blaming and feeling inadequate are still there and I have to proactively think against them everytime they come up. I am glad to raise my son in a free environment and to let him develop his personality without being influenced by any religious doctrine, only humanity.

  22. Louisa June 30, 2021 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    65% LDS. I think my open-minded upbringing and personal experiences influenced this score. I’m so grateful I was raised to be a critical thinker! Losing my job from losing my faith definitely influenced my view as well.

  23. Teresa Hicks July 2, 2021 at 10:16 am - Reply

    John, this is just amazing!!!!!! I have been out of the church for many years but the damage still bubbles up and stares me in the face. I will be struggling with this for the rest of my life as my score is way over 100. I bought the book and will be studying.
    Thank you so much

  24. Josh N July 2, 2021 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Even though I am not a member of the Mormon/LDS church anymore (completely stopped going in 2015, officially resigned in 2019), I tried to be objective and fair, I tried to give the church the benefit of the doubt.

    I thought about my own personal experiences and observations of the more than 25 years that I was a believing member.

    Before anyone even thinks about arguing with me or criticizing me, read that again: I thought about MY OWN personal experiences and observations. Not two members have the same exact experience; everybody experiences and understands things differently. So nobody has the right to tell anybody that their experiences are wrong or invalid.

    For the most part I didn’t realize it at the time (although I did recognize some of those things mentioned on the question list while I was an active believing member, even while doing the endowment rituals in the temple), but retrospectively I can see with overwhelming clarity that everything mentioned on the question list, every single item on there, scores a 2 and would even score 3 or higher if that were an option. My score was 68 out of 68, and I’m honestly not the least surprised or shocked.

    So my genuine conclusion about my 25+ year experience as a member of the Mormon/LDS Church is that I most definitely was actually in a CULT – not a loving, Christ-like, God-sanctioned, charitable “religion” like some people like to believe.

    Again, no two people have the same exact experience, so I will not waste any time defending myself or arguing with anybody about my conclusion, and I don’t care about whatever judgments anyone wants to cast on me for it.

    I don’t fault people that are still members of that cult, but in a way I feel bad for them because they are unable to recognize all the signs that are there that show they are in a cult, or if they do recognize those signs, they don’t want to admit it for whatever reason.
    I don’t think they are weak or uneducated, by any means, and a lot of them are good people. I just feel like they are victims of a broken system and are victims of indoctrination.

  25. Deb July 2, 2021 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    100 % F John. My story is very painful. I was told I could not use birth control, I was very young, my mother did not help me. A very long 24 years…and a marital rape.

  26. Les July 4, 2021 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I’ve been member of the Baha’i Faith for over 30 years. It scored an A with a score of just 7, and most of those 7 points were stretches. Although I like the people and the ideals, there are other reasons why I drifted away from it.

  27. Cameron July 29, 2021 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    I was raised in the Nazarene Church, sort of a generic evangelical Christian church. 78%. Barely a D.
    It’s easy to hear about some other religions that, at least from the outside, seem more intense that might make generic Christianity seem “okay.” But at the end of the day, the Christianity I was raised with does all of the same stuff, but the demands for things like finances and proselytizing are all still there, it’s just a little more implicit than explicit, or a little more anonymous. Like, they can’t say things like “Do everything we say or you’re going to Hell” and still be a healthy organization.

  28. Ryan Hollist October 12, 2021 at 7:28 am - Reply

    85%, born and raised in the LDS church. I only gave a 0 on one question, and I chalk that up to me growing up in a community where I never knew anyone who wasn’t an active Mormon until high school.

  29. Fatfinger October 12, 2021 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    No surprise that Mormonism scores so high, but beyond the standard BITE model stuff, Mormonism has something even other high demand religions don’t, and that’s super creepy, super secret cult ceremonies. That decides it. Hands down, Mormonism is very much a cult!!

  30. Nicolette Smith December 16, 2021 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    62% a D for Mary Kay!!! Yup an MLM cult!
    It’s rather scary to think how much cult behaviour goes on in MLMs… some I could probably have scored a 2 if I put myself into other people’s shoes; I didn’t experience much of the faith aspect, but I know some people did and Mary Kay Ash is like a goddess and all consultants have to aspire to be like her. It’s freaky!
    Lots of controlling behaviour, coercion and of course huge monetary sacrifices. I was in for at least $20,000 over 10 years… I say at least as that is what my leftover inventory and credit card added up to…

  31. T.J. May 9, 2022 at 2:11 am - Reply

    79% for the Catholic Church. I know many people have many different experiences with the Church, however I assessed based off of my Catholic School, the handful of Churches I attended in my life, my local Diocese, the religious influences in my household and community, and the mainstream Catholic media I was regularly exposed to and pressured to defer to.

    Many people who grew up in communities and households that were far more indoctrinated than myself don’t hesitate to call it a cult, and many people who grew up in a more progressive Catholic environment often take incredible offensive at the idea. I believe that there is a spectrum of experience, but it is hard to ignore the fact that the Catholic communities that score better on assessments such as these do so by distancing themselves from the traditional doctrines and methodology that is still required by the Church and the Vatican. My experience was less than healthy to say the least.

    I appreciate this very much, thank you.

  32. Pamela May 8, 2023 at 10:46 am - Reply

    United Methodist–scored 13, with 9 out of 68 points. That reflects long term experience in 6 different congregations in 3 US states, so my guess is it’s pretty typical states. The twos were for public affirmations of faith (baptisms, communion, weddings, funerals) and exclusion–we are currently splitting over accepting same-sex marriage.

  33. Dennis May 27, 2023 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    50 out of 68 for a score of 74 or a “D.” The organization was the Worldwide Church of God . . .

  34. Thomas July 18, 2023 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Coming out of a Traditional African Religion based out the US: got a 45 (66%).

    When I think of a High Demand Religion, my experience goes to time control. You are slowly given more and more spiritual exercises to do, to the point you are trying to find ways to sneak it in throughout the day (example – 15 min break, go meditate). From daily meditation, readings, rituals and destressing exercises, to quarterly detox/fasting along with it the daily stuff, it was alot.

    A goal was to complete around 2-3 hrs of practice per day. Great on paper (focus on self), but in application its highly demanding and time consuming. If you question, you are told that if you want to meet the goal of growth, you gotta do all this work.

  35. Glenna Broadfoot August 2, 2023 at 12:14 pm - Reply


  36. Christine September 10, 2023 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Assemblies of God 94%…I always joke about how it was a cult and it’s kind of disheartening to see that it actually is because I really wonder if I’ll ever be done doing the work of undoing all the indoctrination in my head

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