Aria: Hey, y’all! Welcome back to Bare It All! On today’s episode, we will be talking about cults. I don’t know much about them, so I’m hoping today’s guest will be giving me more insight into what a cult is, considering he used to be a part from one. Oliver Teufel, thanks for joining me today!
Oliver: Thanks for having me! -grins; I know this might be a strange thing to talk about, so it's nice to be here!
AW: -chuckles; I wouldn’t say it’s strange, per say. More like it’s interesting to people outside of cults. -smiles; So, I’ve never heard your story before, so can you tell us a bit about your childhood and how you ended up in a cult? Was it a religious thing?
OT: It's funny because I've always been fascinated with cults when I was a little younger. -laughs some; Never thought I'd end up in one. But, I didn't necessarily join because I wanted to. -chuckles; but first to answer your question, yes it was Religious. Uhm, there is still some things that I'm not comfortable with saying about it at least from my view on the inside.
AW: It’s okay. You can just tell us what you’re comfortable with. -smiles;
OT: I was 7 when I moved to Ohio. My dad had passed away and my mom said there was a better life waiting in this town called Englewood. We moved there and I mean, I was a weird kid growing up. My mom was baptized into the Church and said we had to start going to church. I was 7, so I wasn't wanting to sit in a church for hours but I did. -laughs; I mean what kid wants to and I'm Jewish, so I was all about God and all that but didn't understand the way this church was being ran. To speed things along, my brother got engaged to his best friend who is the cult leaders Grandson. Uh, so about the age of 15, I was sucked into it. Despite not wanting to join the cult. I was against the church. I didn't even know the church was actually a cult. I just thought I was apart of the Church, despite never having been baptized. -clears his throat; Apparently, you had to get baptized on your 17th birthday, which I was only 15, so I had time to go.
AW: I couldn’t imagine attending a church that had such a darkness to it, ya know? Especially, with being so young. -clears throat; So..what did this cult consist of? Can you give us details or just a general aspect of what it was?
OT: It is a lot to take in, honestly and I mean, the fact that you want me here to talk about something a bit dark, it's pretty amazing since most people tend to back away from me and since you and my mom are friends, I felt more comfortable talking -smiles and chuckles; You'll also notice I'm a rambler, so apologies now -laughs some, shaking his head;
AW: I’m a rambler too, so it’s okay! -chuckles softly;
OT: -smiles and chuckles; Glad to know I'm not alone. Uh, anyways. From what I knew of or at least what they've told me because I was young, I mean, I'm only 18 now and there's still a lot of things I'm not even sure of with the cult, even to this day but uh, it was originally started out as a way to get closer to God, ya know? These people felt that God would choose them to move onto a better life whenever he decided to come back and start over new. That was with the original members, the ones who started the Church in the first place. It basically, they had their rules and stuff and what you were allowed to do and not to do and stuff. Meat was banned, electronics were banned, basically anything and everything that could alter your mind and thoughts from God and from the Church, was banned.
AW: So basically, y’all lived pretty much off the grid in a way? Did you have to live in the same home and whatnot like some do? Or could you live separately, but had to follow by the rules of no meat, electronics, and etc?
OT: But yeah, basically. I mean, Englewood is on a map of Ohio, if you look close enough but it's also not. It's a small town with I think 500 or 600 people. We did have our own homes, it was almost like your typical small town area but it was secluded. The schools were literally next to each other. You'd have the elementary school then across the fence was the middle school and across that fence was the high school. And that's the thing though, not everyone in that town was part of the Church. So, if you were to pass by it, you literally would think it's a basic town but if you were a church member and/or a cult member, you had to follow all these rules. There was a lot of them. There's even a handbook you had to follow.
AW: That was my next question that you answered. -chuckles; If everyone in the town was a member. So, the people that weren’t, were they aware of the cult?
OT: -laughs some; Guess that's the plus of being a rambler, you tend to answer most questions. Uh, I'm not sure though on that. I think most knew but not all. Most just kept to themselves and tried to encourage the church but at the same time, were a little weary. Sort of like how I was, I was weary of the church but because of my mother, and what she put me through, I had to go to Church.
AW: -nods her head; Let me know if these questions get to be too much. You don’t have to answer. But aside from the rules like no cell phones and all of that, how extreme was it? Like what did the cult pertain, religion wise and rituals?
OT: So far, you're good -smiles at her; It's hard to say because I didn't get too far into the cult as a full member because by the time I was known as a member, I was pulled out after the media had managed to get involved and the whole trial started to happen. There were a lot of rules, a lot of one on ones with Father Anderson. Father Anderson was a very man. -laughs nervously; He uh, he definitely made it scary and made you question yourself. Religion wise, you had to fully be devoted to God. It was not even an option. Uhm, you were almost set up with a potential "mate" I guess you could say -rubs his neck some, making sure that was a good word; Um, basically your whole life was ran by this cult. You were given a time to when you could meet with Father Anderson. There was one ritual which was the baptism. -bites at the inside of his lip some; You were not allowed to be in the cult, if you weren't baptized. The baptisms were nearly an ongoing thing. Every weekend there was some sort of baptism. Many who had already been baptized, they were done again. You got arrested? You were baptized, you missed church? you were baptized. No one truly understood why this was such an importance but it was. It was a full on ritual with this church, this cult.
AW: -inhales; Maybe because getting baptized has to do with cleansing your body of all your sins and you’re brand new. So if you do something sinful, like get arrested, you’d get baptized. Though I don’t see how missing church is a sin, but then again, cults are more extreme than the normal every day church.
OT: That's what I thought but David, who basically was "God" to everyone, he thought everything that happened, was what had to happen if things were "bad" or you did something against the church. -shakes his head; There's a lot of things with Cults that many see as crazy, so I still think everything that happened was crazy -laughs some;
AW: That’s intense. -breathes out a laughs; I’m sure it was bad for your mental health, I’d say.
OT: Oh yeah, it really was. I still had PTSD from a lot of things that I've gone through just through some stuff with my mom and what not. It didn't just stay within the Church walls, it was brought home by my mother too. -takes another drink of water; Insane stuff.
AW: Are you doing any kind of therapy or coping mechanisms to deal with what you went through and your ptsd?
OT: -shakes his head; No, sadly. I tried when I was first adopted by my mom, Adel, but no therapist was able to handle or understand, really what I was going through.
AW: -nods her head; I’m sure there’s a therapist out there who does understand, and I promise that I will look around to try to find you one. -smiles;
OT: Well thank you, you don't have to do that but that means a lot -nods and continues to smile;
AW: On another note, how was it being adopted by an actress like Adel? How did that come about? I already know the story, but maybe the listeners don’t.