I lost my entire family. On my father and mother's side. Almost the entirety of people I grew up with and knew. As if I was never born. Raised Jehovah's Witness.
Just because the "religion" is prominent in our society does not discount the fact that it is by definition a cult.
I lost an aunt and cousin to Weight Down Ministries. It's run by this woman named Gwen Shamblin. A real nut job. She lives in Franklin, Tennessee, in this huge mansion where she broadcasts live church webinars multiple times a week. People all over join in and host these "church gatherings" at their homes. They get you in by introducing it as a weight loss program. Simple. Lose the weight quick and easy and never gain it back. Eat what you want!! So you go wow this sounds great! Then they slowly introduce the Bible and she'll preach to you through online videos, then you get recruited to a church in someone's home near you where the service lasts for FOUR hours. So anyways, my cousin and aunt got sucked into this and now they moved away to live in Franklin, TN where they worship every breath this Gwen Shamblin woman takes. Everyone that joins ends up marrying someone else inside the cult. My cousins sister wasn't allowed in her wedding because she wasn't part of the cult.
Most people wouldn't consider Southern Baptist a cult, since it's pretty mainstream where we live, but the degree to which my father embraces it, and the amount of time, effort, and money he puts into it, I think it's reasonable to call it cult-like.
His parents raised him in it, but I remember as a very young kid that we didn't go to church as much as we would later. Once a week, and sometimes we'd miss a week and it wouldn't be a big deal.
He got back into it when his dad died, and then doubled down when his mom passed several years later. He started forcing us to go to church two, sometimes three times a week. Those losses had a profound effect on him and I guess he just really, really wants to buy into the idea that he'll see his parents again.
Can't really blame him for that, I guess, but it has put a considerable strain on my relationship with him. Especially lately, since he's made friends with this guy who is even more fundamentalist than my dad is, and he's been bringing this guy around the house.
This guy, there's no other way to say it, he's just straight up crazy. My dad is passionate about his beliefs; this guy is fanatical. The kind of person I'd be worried might blow up an abortion clinic or something. (I had a conversation with the guy shortly after the Vegas shootings, and he all but came out and said those people deserved to be shot for just going to a sinner's hellhole like Vegas.)