Sunday, March 17, 2013

Scary Religious Cults

The Strong Arm of a Religious Cult

Imagine your son or daughter or another loved one being swept  into the emotional  incarceration of a religious cult. No longer attending family functions and holidays, long periods of time pass without any word from them.  They may use deceitful tactics to obtain monetary support for their commune. They no longer seem to have free will, having been sleep deprived and brainwashed. I know about this topic. Without going into further detail, our family experienced this devastation due to a loved one reaching a low point in life and turning in this direction. Once so fully entrenched, they don’t know how to get out.

Darlene Eichler experienced the wreckage of family unity when her son became involved in this same situation. It is more common than people realize. Her son eventually had the courage and strength to walk away, and Darlene was compelled to write a book that addresses this issue. Her own words tell the story:

Why I Wrote the Book, Satan's Best Friend
The word 'cult' brings to mind a variety of meanings for different people. For some it is neither positive nor negative if they have no experience with one. For me it conjures up feelings of sadness, control, abuse, depression, estrangement and other repressive terms. For you see I lost my son and his family to a controlling religious church/cult for the better part of twenty years. Down deep I always had the feeling he would come out. He is independent, sort of like his Mother, and I felt he would 'break' away from the control some day. And he did, almost three years ago. The sad part for him is that his family remains in the cult.

Our family was elated when he came back into our lives. I cannot imagine his feelings or the mental trauma he has gone through, not to mention the physical battles. He is a strong person and I will add, one of tremendous faith. He is admired greatly by all those who know his story.
The experiences and understanding of this controlling group gave me a burning desire to do something that might keep others from being drawn into this or a similar group. That is why I have written Satan's Best Friend. Although it is a novel with fictional characters, the research took almost three years. It is my hope that it might open a person's eyes to the perils of joining a controlling group--no matter what it is called.

Book Description

"Patricia Sue Benton Fraley closed the heavy drapes and sat down at her antique desk. She sighed as she opened a journal with a gold title, "My Flock," embossed in its rich leather binding. Reaching into the top drawer, she removed an expensive fountain pen and bottle of ink. Carefully dipping the fine tip into the black liquid, she meticulously wrote each letter, "Gone to Hell" cross the name..."

The majority of cult leaders are not born that way; although in most cases the tendencies toward narcissism and a burning need to control others is fed by underlying causes such as abuse, be it sexual, physical or psychological. In Satan's Best Friend, the main character is Patricia Sue Benton, a poor little waif who is abused physically and sexually by those very adults who should be guiding her in becoming a normal, happy child. Instead she becomes a bitter victim, scarred for life, promising herself as an adult no one will ever control her. Patricia goes a step further and organizes her own church/cult.

Along comes Margaret (Maggie) Hines, jilted and pregnant with nowhere to turn. Patricia, now called Preacher Pat, comes to the rescue giving her a home, instant friends and a new identity (or so she thought). As Preacher Pat's control begins to tighten, the conflicts of values, family traditions, and personal choices create a story of intrigue filled with broken promises, unethical medical practices and abuse in the form of mind control.

About Darlene Eichler

Darlene Eichler, who uses the pen name, Nan Turner for most of her books, is a native of Southwest Virginia.  Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains has influenced her writing more than any other factor.  She is a graduate of Radford University and the University of South Carolina.  Her career in teaching began as an elementary teacher, and she moved on to positions as a reference librarian in college libraries.  After retirement she concentrated on writing. Darlene is known for the “Rose Series” and “Trunk Tales.” She teaches “Memoir Writing” for the OLLI Program at Coastal University, which she says is the most rewarding teaching position she has held.

She shares a home in North Myrtle Beach with her husband and Miss Boots, a black and white cat featured in several of her books. Darlene has twelve grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

 Connect with Darlene Eichler at:

Cults Dissected
Nan Turner Books

On a more personal note, several Myrtle Beach area authors have banded together to form a group called Beach Author Network. We meet monthly at various locations along the Grand Strand, and our purpose is to collectively market, promote and raise awareness about our books. The monthly meeting site will be listed on the Contact page at in case you are interested or know someone who would be. Traditionally and independently published authors of any genre are welcome.

All the best,
Mary Anne 

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