News & Politics

Donald Trump Has an Accused Cult Leader Proselytizing on His Behalf

Stefan Molyneux's message to his acolytes is as simple as it is insidious.

Stefan Molyneux
Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

Eight years ago, Barbara Weed returned to her South Leamington home in the U.K. to find a message from her son, Tom. He was moving in with a friend, he informed her, and she shouldn't try to contact him. Weed hasn't had direct contact with her son since, and knows only that he's living in a foreign country. 

"It’s a pattern all too familiar for some families who’ve had a child watch [Stefan] Molyneux’s videos and listen to his podcasts," writes Ben Collins in the Daily Beast. "At first, it’s just their kid watching videos about something controversial but familiar—The MatrixThe Martian, or Donald Trump. Then, a few months and a few more podcasts later, there’s a note on the door. After that moment, they never see their child again."

Molyneux, a self-styled anarcho-capitalist with ties to the so-called alt-right, is among the president's most prominent proselytizers. As Collins' report makes clear, he's also an accused cult leader.

Among Molyneux's more effective tools of indoctrination is a lengthy video posted to the website deconstructing what he contends are the media's willful misconceptions about our reality show host-cum-president. Molyneux insists he simply wants to provide a "fair assessment of the man's character," acknowledging Trump's policies and positions are "well worth an examination, and certainly not above criticism.”

"For the first few minutes, it’s hard to disagree with him," Collins notes. "Molyneux, slowly reading along from a PowerPoint-like text of talking points, breaks down passages from Trump’s Art of the Deal. He contends that Trump can’t possibly be as dimwitted as the media makes him out to be and convincingly argues that it all must be part of Trump’s plan...He is charismatic, open, immediately transfixing—almost enough for you to forget the video’s 73-minute run time."

While his recordings indulge far-right grievances ranging from feminism and multiculturalism to postcolonial themes in Marvel's Black Panther, Molyneux's message to his acolytes is as simple as it is insidious: families are inherently abusive and must therefore be renounced. Molyneux calls this process "deFOOing" from one's "family of origin." (The College of Psychologists of Ontario in Mississauga has actually sanctioned his wife, Christina Papadopoulos, for promoting the practice as a licensed therapist.) 

If his ethos revolves around a radical individualism, Molyneux's business follows a distinctly scientological model. Followers are encouraged to send him money, and the more they contribute, the closer they get to his inner circle of "philosopher kings." In Trump, he appears to have found a kindred spirit. Not only does each man fit the "stereotypical profile" of a cult leader, according to mind control expert and author Steven Hassan, both seem to know a mark when they see one.

"The crux of [Trump and Molyneux's] argument is that 'they' lie all the time," Hassan tells Collins. “'Don’t you wanna follow someone who is trustworthy? If they lie to the public, how do you know they’re not lying to you? Why would you consciously want to follow someone who’s a liar?’ It’s an appeal for respect for people who want a black-and-white answer.”

Read Ben Collins' report at the Daily Beast.

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Jacob Sugarman is the acting managing editor at Truthdig.