Some [cult leaders] come to believe their own bullshit — they almost have to in order to be convincing. But on a deeper level they know they’re full of shit. I say that because the guru’s teachings will always correspond with his desires. For example, if there is a pretty young convert, the Holy Spirits will always decide that she has been specially ordained to be the leader’s consort, whereas the homely, hardworking woman will always be reserved for one of his schmucks. It’s the same thing with money — the richest devotee is always considered the most devout.
[…] the most powerful cults, like Scientology or est, don’t for a minute believe their own bullshit, at least not at the higher levels. The people in control know it’s a game of money and power.
Privédetective en cult infiltrator David Sullivan in Harper’s Magazine.