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Mother’s horror after Internet cult brainwashed her teenage son
Barbara Weed’s teenage son Tom Bell cut off all contact with family 6 years ago, following his involvement with an online organization called Freedomain Radio, which is run by a Canadian man named Stefan Molyneaux. Tom had been watching podcasts and participating in chats that convinced him he was the victim of abuse. Barbara says Stefan Molyneaux and his online cult have taught her son ha to hate her. (Daily Mail, 08/20/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Through his Freedomain Radio (FDR) website, Missisauga, Ontario-based Stefan Molyneux, a former disk jockey with an MA in history from the University of Toronto, encourages people to cut off contact with their parents; he even provides scripts to help them succeed. Molyneux produces hundreds of online messages, books, podcasts, and videos of himself staring into a camera and talking intensely about relationships, politics, and the economy. Callers share stories of personal alienation and bond online. Parents and former followers say FDR is the cyber version of a therapy cult. [csr 8.1, 2009)

Subscriptions to Molyneaux’s $50-per month “Philosopher King,” and payments for other levels of contact, earn him an estimated $60,000 annually. Rob Griesbach, from Virginia, who first contacted FDR at 16, says: “I was using FDR as an escape from reality.” A former member from Arizona says: “He [Molyneux] always tries to pick out abuses, reasons to be angry. Whatever problem you have, he’ll track it back to your parents.” The father of another reported that “members have been taught to perceive any criticism of [FDR] by a parent as a personal attack on the child, and it drives them further away.” A daughter who left Princeton University simply stopped answering calls and email, says her father. “We didn’t know if she was sick or dead.” After two years of marriage, Molyneux’s wife, who is also his associate, ended contact with her parents. [csr 8.1, 2009)

Molyneux, who is himself alienated from his parents, has developed and codified a philosophy and psychology to support his approach, as well as special terminology to express it. For example, FOO is family of origin, and FOOing is leaving the family of origin. He says some 20 FDR members have “deFOO’d” their families. An account on Molyneux’s website details his counseling of a young man (and his girlfriend) who thought he might be gay. Moluneaux theorized that Tom “could have possibly been molested or flashed at or something, which causes people to be attracted to the same sex.” When Tom later phoned an FDR call-in show to express his passion for animal rights, Molyneux suggested that when the Tom was a child he was “treated like an animal by someone who was cruel to animals.” Molyneux speculated that Tom’s father’s screaming at the family cats, and throwing things around when he was angry, was “staggeringly evil,” and that Tom’s mother became pregnant with him to placate an abusive spouse. Molyneaux says he wasn’t giving Tom ideas. “All it is, is a theory. I wasn’t telling him what his experience was.” [csr 8.1, 2009)

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