Love Has Won documentary drew attention to Colorado cult. But does it make light of cult dangers?

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A documentary series on the Love Has Won cult, which was based in Colorado until its leader died in 2021, is bringing increased attention to its bizarre teachings about 5D ascensions, galactic communications from Robin Williams and the dangerous use of colloidal silver to cure diseases.

But a group working to expose the cult’s falsehoods and rescue those trapped in it says the documentary fell short in debunking the myths and explaining how dangerous cults truly are.

Amanda Ray, whose brother escaped Love Has Won after becoming entangled in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, said there were missed opportunities to show how abusive Amy Carlson, who led Love Has Won and called herself Mother God, was toward her followers.

“It really was a documentary that shared the stories of the current followers just a few weeks after Amy passed,” Ray said. “They were victims of mind control. We felt there was a big missed opportunity.”

“There were a lot of people whose lives were destroyed by Amy.”

Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God is a three-part series that premiered Nov. 13 on Max and is available on the streaming service.

Love Has Won operated in relative obscurity until April 28, 2021, when Carlson’s mummified remains were discovered inside a house in Moffat where her followers were waiting for their leader to ascend to another dimension to save humanity. The body was covered in Christmas lights and her eye sockets were decorated with glitter makeup when Saguache County sheriff’s deputies arrived.

The sensationalistic reports captured headlines around the world and the attention of the documentary filmmakers.

The documentarians caught up with the cult members within weeks of Mother God’s death, and the series tells the cult’s story primarily through their voices. The story explains how Carlson evolved into Mother God and how her followers were drawn into her circles.

While Love Has Won’s leader and members bounced from place to place over the years, the group’s headquarters were a house in a large residential area known as Baca Grande — a place believed to be sacred grounds by some — in Saguache County. The group also rented a large cabin in Salida where new recruits were taken when they decided to live with the cult.

The series includes interviews with two people who left the cult but mostly follows the true believers who continue to spread Carlson’s teachings through online videos and social media pages.

Today there are two splinter groups – one called 5D Full Disclosure, which is run by two women who were part of Carlson’s inner circle and one called Love Has 1 Joy Rains 2, which is run by a man who was known as Father God during Carlson’s final years. Neither group operates out of Colorado.

A postscript in the documentary says some of Carlson’s most devout followers remain in Colorado, including a woman who works as a healer and a man who continues the cult’s teachings via an Instagram account with thousands of followers.

Love Has Won has an estimated 20 devout followers, who continue Carlson’s teachings, said Ray, who works with a group called Rising Above Love Has Won, which works to debunk the beliefs and rescue and deprogram its followers.

The documentarians had plenty of footage to work with as Carlson and her followers posted hours of videos daily where they rambled about their beliefs that Carlson was on earth to ascend and save mankind by leading people into a Fifth Dimension where they would live in a peaceful world. They were convinced the late actor and comedian Robin Williams served as a galactic intermediary.

The group also ran a website where they sold various services such as “etheric surgery” and homemade tinctures and other so-called healing products, including colloidal silver. The members earned money through those websites and also convinced followers to empty their savings accounts to donate to the cause.

After Carlson’s body was discovered in the Love Has Won compound in Moffat, seven followers were arrested on charges of abuse of a corpse and child abuse.

At the time, family members and law enforcement said a small group of followers had driven Carlson’s dead body from Mount Shasta, California, to Colorado as they awaited the ascension. However, in the documentary, Carlson’s followers say she died in a hotel in Oregon, and they drove the corpse to Colorado 12 days later after camping with it in a national forest.

The criminal charges were dropped by the district attorney, and those followers, along with a handful who were not charged, scattered to various parts of the country.

As Carlson was dying, her followers kept giving her colloidal silver to drink because they believed it would cure her. In an autopsy report about her death, the Saguache County coroner said the colloidal silver contributed to her death. Anorexia and alcohol abuse were other causes.

The documentary shows disturbing pictures of Carlson’s final days where her emaciated body had turned purple from the colloidal silver and she was too weak to sit up or stand.

Linda Haythorne, Carlson’s mother, said she had not seen the pictures of Carlson in her final days and they were shocking. There have been a lot of tears since Haythorne watched a private screening, she said.

Haythorne is interviewed throughout the documentary to add context to Carlson’s life before she evolved into Mother God. Haythorne said she wanted the audience to see her daughter as a real person.

“She wasn’t just Mother God,” Haythorne said. “Like I said in the documentary, Amy wanted to go somewhere. Amy was smart. Amy knew how to talk to people.”

Haythorne said she has received mixed messages from people since the documentary aired. Some say she failed her daughter, especially when she did not try to visit her in the final days. Others have thanked her for shedding light on how people get ensnared into cults.

“All in all, I hope it will help someone,” Haythorne said. “I hope they can look at it as this could happen to me. When you’re missing something in your life you could go in that direction.”

Ray, whose brother was in the cult during 2020, said she feels bad for Carlson’s mother, who she knows through her work with Rising Above Love Has Won. The group sent an ambulance to a house in California where Carlson was believed to be with her followers as she was dying, but they denied the help, she said.

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Still Ray thinks the documentary was too empathetic toward Carlson.

Rick Alan Ross, founder and executive director of the Cult Education Institute, followed Carlson’s journey for years and has worked with people to leave the cult. He also joined Carlson, her mother and sister on an episode of the Dr. Phil show as her family attempted to convince Carlson to come home.

“In the case of Amy Carlson, it was very extreme,” Ross, who has not watched the TV series, said. “This was one of the most extreme cults that I’ve encountered in my work in the past 40 years.”

Carlson controlled every facet of her followers’ lives, dictating where they slept, what they ate and how they spent their time. She took their money and isolated them from family, he said.

“To not understand how totalistic and how destructive Amy was is to miss what the essence of this group was all about,” Ross said.

Ray wishes the filmmakers had interviewed an expert on cults to provide context to what the viewers are watching. Love Has Won’s teachings are so outrageous it will be hard for most viewers to understand how someone could get wrapped up in it, Ray said.

She fears curious people will find the websites, blogs and social media pages of Carlson’s remaining followers and get hooked on their products and teachings.

A social media influencer with more than 57,000 followers on Instagram is selling merchandise connected to the show. Ray finds that hurtful to the cult’s survivors to see people mock their experience and cash in on the show’s popularity.

“A lot of former members have suffered negative effects from the group,” Ray said. “We just feel strongly when the dangerous sides of this group are left out of this story it can lead to negative effects to those who were in it.”

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