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June '06 exCult conference features SGA issues

from GoldenMic - Thursday, June 29, 2006
accessed 2100 times

Hi there, I am Mike Martella, an SGA from another so-called "Bible-based Cult" (Isot) and I sometimes write (and constantly read) on this site. I recently attended an excellent exCult conference and wrote my impressions for another site:

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) held its annual conference in Denver, CO on June 22-24, 2006. Attendance was robust, and the conference featured a mix of concerned family members, helping professionals, academics, ex-cult members, and a steadily growing number of Second Generation Adults (SGA’s, also referred to as "those born and raised in high-demand groups).

This year’s conference included its usual assortment of psycho-educational workshops for recovery and presentations on specific groups, including Aum Shinrikyo, Polygamous sects, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Unification Church (also known as the "Moonies"), TM, Adolescent Boot Camps, and the Emissaries of Divine Light. There were also presentations on "Coping with Triggers", "Psychopathology of Cult Leaders", Writing About Your Experience", "Attempted Suppression by Alternative Religious Movements", "Spirituality After the Cult", Child Abuse In Cults", "Personal Coaching for exCult Members" and "Exit Counseling".

Perhaps the most important development in this year’s conference, however, was the time and attention devoted to issues related to SGA’s. There were two 3-hour workshops offering specific tools for understanding the unique experience of having been raised in an oppressive group, and allowing SGA’s to tell the story of their pain, isolation, and deprivation. There were also specific sessions examining SGA issues, including a presentation by Safe Passages Foundation, an organization devoted to the rights of children in high-demand organizations and the development of resources for SGA’s attempting to enter the mainstream culture. Other sessions examined The Challenges of Integrating Into Society for SGA’s, Conflict in the Lives of Gay-Lesbian SGA’s, and Sexual Abuse.

The ICSA appears to have made a strong commitment to addressing the interests and needs of SGA’s. They have included a special SGA track for the annual 3-day Recovery Workshop being held in July, 2006 in Estes Park, CO, and they recently held the first-ever 3-day SGA-only Workshop in Cornwall, CN.

I am impressed at the quality of this fledgling work and attention, and I have been pleased with the response and effects upon my fellow SGA’s. I strongly encourage your participation as participants and presenters.

Mike Martella

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from Rain Child
Sunday, July 02, 2006 - 22:57

You mean other cults use the term 'SGA's? Are these other cults as big as ours?
(reply to this comment)
From JohnnieWalker
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 00:40


You said, "Are these other cults as big as ours?"

The Family is actually a relatively small group. It currently has only an estimated maximum of around 40,000 members (both part-time and full-time) and afilliated individuals (e.g. Activated Subscribers).

Comparatively, many other "small" cults have memberships in the hundreds of thousands.(reply to this comment

From Lois
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 08:15


JonhyWalker yes there are cults that have larger membership figures than TF's, however the majority of what are termed cults are much smaller. For examples the number of what are now termed micro cults (consisting of a handful of people) is unknown but in spain alone is conservatively estimated to include thousands of groups.(reply to this comment

From JohnnieWalker
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 14:31

True. I guess I should have clarified that I was making the comparison within international cults only.(reply to this comment
From vixen
Monday, July 03, 2006, 06:02

Rain I'm gonna answer this one for you since I don't know when Mike will be back. Mike uses the term 'SGA' in relation to himself and others who had similar experiences to us, but in other cults. I believe he has begun using this term as a result of its usage on this site (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, Mike, when you next drop in). I agree with Mike that children of the original members of any number of cults seem to deal with a lot of the same issues upon leaving, and so I don't at all mind that he uses that term to define his own relationship with the cult that he grew up in - As far as I'm concerned, certain details and doctrines might have been different from cult to cult but many of the tactics used to control and manipulate people were very similar, and it seems the psychological effects are comparable. And no, ISOT did not/does not have as extensive a membership as the TF, as far as I remember. You could read Mike's articles as listed in his profile, if you're interested in knowing more about his background.(reply to this comment
From GoldenMic
Tuesday, July 04, 2006, 12:56


Thanks, Vixen, I agree with each of your answers. The term SGA's is a term that I have been encouraging the use of at the ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) and in the survivor's workshops, having first seen it used here, because it sounds more accurate and specific than the term they were using, "born and raised". It is now showing up in the conferences, workshops, and presentations everywhere.

Regarding the other part of the question, there are not many high demand groups that were as large as TF, but there are some. The children of the Unification Church (the Moonies) is huge, and other large groups include the Hare Krishna's (ISKON), Transcendental Mediation (TM), and Scientology. Also, children of Jehovah's Witnesses often define themselves as cult victims, as do the children of many dozens of Bible-based groups (Sam Fife "the Move", the Emissarries of Divine Light, the New Wine - Discipling Movement, the Bostion Church of Christ), New Age groups (Children of the Rainbow, Steiner's Theosophy, Blavatsky), Eastern (Bagwan Rajneesh - Osho, various Indian Guru's) and various fundamentalist Polygamous churches. Even the children of Political Cults (LaRouche, Newman, etc...) and Teen Boot Camps identify strongly with the specific issues and feelings of the SGA's here.

Isot, my own little slice of hell, probably has had 2-3 thousand members, and currently has about 300 people (including at least 100 under the age of 18),in and around Modoc County, California (NE of Mount Shasta) and in Cour 'DeLaine, Idaho. Mike Martella.(reply to this comment

From roughneck
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 12:07

How about "Subsequent Generation Adult"? Save everyone a trip to Kinko's at least.. :P(reply to this comment
From Rain Child
Saturday, July 08, 2006, 16:29


I forgot to thank you before for all this information. it really is interesting and shows up all these people who think THEY are the 'chosen ones'. It's just a common phenomenon and way of controlling the guillible or desperate. Long ago I found another site, and I was amazed at how much it had in common with 'us'. It seems to be gone now, but it was for children raised in The Worldwide Church of God.

Ever heard of them?(reply to this comment

From just a comment
Saturday, July 08, 2006, 10:04


I think the term "SGA" is straight forward enough, however it leaves out third generation children. The Family cult has a small but growing number of third generation kids that are approaching adulthood. (reply to this comment

From JohnnieWalker
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 00:47

Maybe we could call them NIGAs (Non-Initial Generation Adults). :P(reply to this comment
From Lois
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 05:17

Erm, is that a slightly negative term? sounding a little like they have a non identity? it gets a little complicated when we get into third generation adults and then fourth and fifth (which both start with f), perhaps thats why ICSA use born/raised.(reply to this comment
From Sga's in tha Hood
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 10:43

I think he was joking. (I.E: "Where are all my NIGA's at?" ;-)(reply to this comment
From JohnnieWalker
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 14:21

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Yes, I was only making a joke.

Proper use of this acronym would be in the form of:

"Wazzup, my NIGA?"

"Good Lord, my daughter's done gone and married a NIGA!"

... or the ever fashionable

"NIGA, please!"(reply to this comment

From Lois
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 12:18


literal thinking ;-) missed the humour(reply to this comment

From Lois
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 12:20

in fact still don't fully get it!(reply to this comment
From Rain Child
Saturday, July 08, 2006, 17:21

The other possible point of confusion with the term is that in the case of The Family it also includes current member SGAs (The term being one of The Family's own many acronyms.)(reply to this comment
From Lois
Sunday, July 09, 2006, 08:08

And because some of those who have been raised in these groups and have since left either dislike being referred to as having been a member (and argue (very convincingly) that they never were) as dicussed elsewhere on this site, it becomes difficult to find language which is concise, non offensive, and clear enabling us to communicate with others about the matter.(reply to this comment
From GoldenMic
Saturday, July 08, 2006, 11:51

That is truly a horror to think on. Of course you are right, and I did meet 3 3rd generation young adults at the conference... (reply to this comment

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