Love Has Received, referred to as a cult by former followers, was not fairly like such a gaggle. It was not the kind the place the chief overdoses on energy, sexually abuses followers, and hoards weapons till all of it implodes. This group’s chief, Amy Carlson, started her journey extra as cult followers are inclined to: She fell down an web rabbit gap, then ran away from her household. Earlier than lengthy, although, she claimed to be God and began amassing followers…who helped her slowly die.
“Amy created a palace of lies that she couldn’t escape from,” explains director Hannah Olson, whose three-part HBO documentary sequence, Love Has Received: The Cult of Mom God, premiered Monday.
In April 2021, following a tip, police situated a physique in a sophisticated state of decomposition, wrapped in a sleeping bag and adorned with Christmas lights. Carlson had died some days earlier in an Oregon lodge. Not realizing what else to do, her disciples had taken the corpse to a campground—they had been pulled over by cops on the best way, who thought the physique within the again, carrying a hat and glasses, was sleeping—the place they had been met by others within the group. The deceased’s boyfriend, identified to acolytes as Father God, slept subsequent to her in a tent. Then he and two different followers drove her physique throughout 5 state traces, again to a house base in Colorado. Earlier than she died, her pores and skin had turned grayish blue. The police who discovered her thought she had been painted.
Three weeks later, Olson was on the town, conducting interviews and scouring greater than a thousand hours of footage from the group’s 2,700 YouTube movies and dwell streams. In 2016, the director had grow to be occupied with the best way alternate realities had been penetrating our democracy. “It’s straightforward for us to jot down off folks with beliefs that we see as actually far on the market, slightly than trying on the circumstances that created these beliefs,” she says. When she heard about Carlson, she noticed a possibility.
Nobody wakes up in the future and decides to dedicate themselves to a girl in Colorado who is nineteen billion years outdated and being helped by a staff of useless celebrities, led by Robin Williams, in a cosmic battle in opposition to “the cabal.” A girl who can treatment most cancers, dependancy, Lyme illness, and suicidal ideas; one who would additionally “drink herself into oblivion each single night time,” as one former follower places it within the sequence. It takes time to get there. In Love Has Received, Olson successfully depicts the water reaching a boil.
There are not any speaking head consultants within the sequence, or clips of media tales. Outdoors of Carlson’s relations, a neighborhood sheriff, and a reporter, the story is instructed completely by present and former followers and the footage they left behind, lending the sequence an immersive high quality. In the end, it’s a narrative of individuals escaping untenable lives.
In 2007, after a descent into excessive on-line thought—together with traditional conspiracy theories in addition to beliefs about angels and ascended masters—Carlson deserted her working-class life and her kids to be able to be a part of a man she met on-line. Quickly they had been preaching concerning the deity inside us all in their very own movies, as Mom God and Father God. However then, as the unique Father God says within the sequence, Carlson determined “she was extra God than different folks had been God.” She left him and located a brand new Father God (there can be a number of), who claimed she had cured his most cancers. A so-called cult was born.
The self-styled deity bought distant healings and slowly gained a formidable on-line viewers: virtually 20,000 followers on Fb and almost 10,000 on YouTube. The group’s movies had been watched greater than 1.5 million instances. All of the whereas, she satisfied increasingly folks to flee their lives and be a part of her social gathering. “You had been excessive from the second you woke up to date you went to mattress,” a former follower remembers within the sequence.