Watch Book Launch Video with Patrick Ryan and Dr. Ron Burks on Cult News 101, or on ICSA You Tube, “Meet the Author! Interview with Maria Peregolise”

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Culted Child: The True Story of a Daughter Disciple Paperback – July 18, 2021

by Maria Peregolise (Author), Ron Burks (Foreword)

THE FIRST OF ITS KIND – Testimony from a 2nd Generation Adult, Born and Raised in, and Leaving a Cult Leader of The URANTIA Book.

Culted Child is a memoir by the daughter of a Spiritual Prophet – a father who used the theology of The URANTIA Book as a framework for his secret conversations with her. These secrets shared his daily communications and miracles from God… Packed with research references and resources, Culted Child utilizes Peregolise’s turbulent childhood experience as an opportunity to communicate the signs and symptoms of being raised in a Cultic or Manipulative Environment.

#4 Amazon Hot New Releases in Religious Cults!

THE FIRST OF ITS KIND – Testimony from a 2nd Generation Adult, Born and Raised in, and Leaving a Cult Leader of The URANTIA Book.

Culted Child
is a memoir by the daughter of a Spiritual Prophet – a father who used the theology of The URANTIA Book as a framework for his secret conversations with her. These secrets shared his daily communications and miracles from God… Packed with research references and resources, Culted Child utilizes Peregolise’s turbulent childhood experience as an opportunity to communicate the signs and symptoms of being raised in a Cultic or Manipulative Environment.
To share new resources — contact:

Interviews & Articles:

Rachel Berstein’s IndoctriNATION Podcast: Thought Adjusters w/ Maria Peregolise,[search_query]=peregolise

iGotOut, Just Trust Me…,

Art Ascent Article, Gold Writer Award Winner,

Testimonial Art Ascent 2nd Article

Journal Entry at Age Thirteen, Peregolise, M. (2020). ICSA Today, Vol. 11, No. 2. (2020 – PDF of Issue). Arts: Poetry – Maria Peregolise (24-25).


Ron Burks, PhD:

“Culted Child brings the reader into a very toxic family, made more so by the subtlety by which The Father matter-of-factly abuses his children and spouse with what seems to be every word he says. It does indeed read like a novel, made all the more frightening by the fact that it is real. It really happened. No, not the stuff in The URANTIA Book, Maria’s life story. Sadly, it happens with almost pandemic like frequency all over this planet. (I am not as certain as The Father is about what happens on other planets.)”

–           Ron Burks, PhD, holds an MDiv and an MA in counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary and a PhD in Counselor Education from Ohio University. He worked for many years at Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Albany, Ohio, alongside founder Dr. Paul Martin. Wellspring serves as one of the few residential facilities in the nation that specifically treats victims of cults, domestic abuse, and other coercive situations. Ron is a former president of the Wellspring board and is a clinical advisor to both Wellspring and Meadowhaven, a similar treatment center near Boston.

Ron and his wife Vicki wrote Damaged Disciples: Casualties of Authoritarian Churches and the Shepherding Movement, published by Zondervan. His other publications include a chapter on a connection between cults and addiction in the medical reference, Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, published by Williams and Wilkins. He and his wife Vicki are licensed mental health counselors and currently operate an intensive outpatient substance abuse program at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

Daniel Shaw, LCSW:

“Children brought up in cults often realize as adults that their parents, following the cult leader’s demands for ideological purity, prioritized idolization of and submission to the leader over the protection and safety of their own children. Feeling cruelly betrayed, these adult children struggle to reconcile what they thought was love with the recognition of how conditional this love actually was. In this insightful and poignant memoir, Maria Peregolise chronicles her life as a child in a cult led by her own father. This harrowing and tragic story speaks to the mind-shattering complexity a child faces in surviving loving and being loved by a malignant narcissist, one who believes themself to be Omnipotent. For the many, far more than we realize, who have grown up under the extraordinary control of a powerful, charismatic and deeply delusional parent, Peregolise’s story of survival and ultimate freedom is a revelatory and inspiring gift of hope. “

–         Daniel Shaw, LCSW, is the author of Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, and Traumatic Narcissism and Recovery: Leaving the Prison of Shame and Fear.

Joe Szimhart:

“Growing up with a father indoctrinating you with his strong beliefs is hard enough. When those beliefs are rooted in the obscure Book of Urantia, you have little chance of relating your inner world with those outside your closed family system. Maria Peregolise has written a marvelous memoir of her heroic struggle to both emerge from her father’s cult and to reveal the story behind the formation of the Urantia book cult.”

–           Joe Szimhart, Cult Information Specialist and author of Santa Fe, Bill Tate, and me: How an artist became a cult interventionist.

“Stories of Freedom: Your story is important. The world needs it.”

Just Trust Me…

“A learned man is an idler who kills time with study. Beware of his false knowledge: it is more dangerous than ignorance.””

— George Bernard Shaw, 1905

Topic: Book Launch Zoom, “Culted Child” by Maria Peregolise, with Ron Burks, PhD, Patrick Ryan Host, Time: Jul 31, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 367 806 3940
The Sky is Green and the Grass is Blue.

“Just trust me.” I hated those words from My Father, along with the abrupt hand gesture that always made me flinch. As usual, it was impossible to disrespect him. You didn’t talk back. You didn’t even ask a question to clarify that you understood his request correctly. Ultimately the way would be made clear. And, you never needed the whole story, just your own part in it.

“I know you don’t know what’s going on with this, but it’ll all make sense in the end.”

That was how God worked. He spoke to you in benevolent suggestions. In any situation, if you could determine the highest concept in your mind of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, your thoughts would be adjusted, by your Thought Adjuster, to help you recognize the one that was His. I could never ascertain what ideas were mine versus God’s, or whether His were ever in my mind at all.

Omniscience gave God the advantage of knowing the heart and perspective of everyone involved in the big picture of any situation, and Dad was dialed in. Participants were the puzzle pieces that would fall into place, if only they were aware of His clandestine workings and would listen for his ideal suggestions.  My guilt between doing the Will of God – reading and listening – versus what I selfishly wanted to do on a Saturday, at the age of thirteen, tore at my stomach. I would inevitably stay, despite the inner turmoil churning my guts — This was God’s bidding, after all.

“Just trust me.”

Dad could pray on (…prey on?) the needs of others, and through the omniscience of God, know just the right words to feed their waning spirit and answer their deepest concerns. His charisma was intoxicating, his knowledge boundless, and he could bring every conversation back to his first purpose; that of the love of God, and His plan for this very individual.

Over the years, the house had been filled with study groups of families and random individuals eager to hear Dad’s translation of The URANTIA Book. Dad radiated, describing God’s beautiful intentions for their Earthly lives and ongoing spiritual development after death.

My Father sat in an armchair at the head of the group. He thumbed through the tracing-paper-thin pages of ‘The Book’, coming to rest on a well-read section, as evidenced by its worn binding. The fire, recently fed, crackled and popped its contentment from the potbelly stove in the fireplace. Tall windows offered pale winter light, while yellow lamps warmed the page.

Most of the terminology consisted of unique multi-syllable words — Melchizedeks, Finaliters, Ancients of Days, Unseen Friends. Yet, their familiarity allowed them to easily roll off the tongue and through the thoughts of those present and eager to absorb new truths. After each paragraph, our Leader explained it in layman’s terms, putting it into perspective for those with less vision or less experience. He lived for these moments and spent every waking second in pursuit of this very opportunity. ‘The Book’ was written by Celestial Beings channeling through an anonymous man and published as such, in 1955.

“The mere fact of recognizing the personal mission of a charismatic master establishes his power.”

— Weber, Dahms, 2013

None fostered this better than the leader of this group, whose example I believe My Father truly strove to emulate. Beginning in the 1930’s, and throughout thirty years of drafting’ The Book’ itself, the group’s leader would manage group members by relaying warnings from The Celestials. My Father would take a page from the same playbook to manage my thoughts and decisions.

Am I not going to listen to God?

When I was sixteen, My Father channeled Michael of Nebadon’s voice with prophecies and directives. To me, this was obviously the next logical step in My Father’s progression along his personal path of Light and Life. One day, we would all attend Dad’s End of Life Party to see his Spontaneous Combustion as he Fused with his Thought Adjuster.

“Hopefully, I won’t someday just find a pile of ashes in his chair — Please, God.” I prayed, as intrusive thoughts invaded — ashes with singed limbs.  Mom stood in the kitchen, eyes covered, as Michael of Nebadon continued his pronouncements to the study group. His chin was almost on his chest as he reached low to gurgle the voice from deep within. “And, Joshua.”

My heart jumped. My little brother Joshua stood to my left, eyes downcast.

“Joshua is long-suffering,” the Voice of Michael cracked with emotion. “so very pained — so much pain, so much pain.” He took a deep breath, exhaling in a shuddering sigh. “However, he will hold a high place in the universes.”

I was elated by the disclosure, although I felt short of breath for no reason. Admittedly, had a visitor intimated doubt, I would have found their skepticism easily dismissed. These people didn’t know the special role our family played in God’s Plan. My Father’s cult recruitment started for me as a toddler. Are such minds conditioned to be ever contained therein — no matter how far you run?

Am I not going to listen to God?

My life story falls somewhere between the movie Frailty (Lions Gate Films, 2002) and the memoir The Glass Castle (Walls, 2009) Jeannette Walls, with a uniquely complex underworld of characters all its own – Finaliters, Thought Adjusters, Unseen Friends, Ancients of Days, Supreme Beings…

While Jeanette Walls’ parents have severe shortcomings, they do occasionally admit the truth, which was never my experience growing up in a cult-like atmosphere. Even as their behaviors follow the pendulum-swing of alcoholism and bipolar disorder, when her father says they’re being chased out of town by the FBI, her mother makes absolutely certain Jeanette understands that it’s not the FBI, it’s just the bill collectors. I was given no such clarifications for any of the concepts that could have been addressed by a responsible adult.

Most people have had some experience meeting a charismatic personality who entertainingly dominates the conversation. Perhaps they have a family member who is difficult to navigate. I would proudly watch random strangers drawn in, as Dad demonstrated God working in their lives at that very moment. Every encounter was meant to bring the discussion back to the Epochal Spiritual Revelation He wanted to preach – the metaphysical intellectual dynasty he alone could advocate with such admirable precision.

Most people don’t grow up in a cult. For those who do, few have the experience of their father being the family cult leader. There are no statistics regarding this information. Although, studies show there are many more cults in existence now than there were forty years ago, and they are smaller. But for anyone leaving a system of control, I offer my story as another resource for those seeking answers.

I was trained to keep secrets. I was silenced. My only voice was spoken silently through writing prose and poems in a journal that I kept hidden away. I was trained to forget. I have amnesia around situations. However, when I read my journals or write about the event, my memory pieces back together to see it more clearly.

For years, I thought the incongruity between screaming fights, punched walls, chairs put through windows, and being God’s chosen family with My Father as God’s Prophet, must exist in my mind alone. From toddlerhood into my fifties, this contradiction plagued me.

Desperate to get hold of my own mind, I have had to go no-contact with My Father. Because of this, my Mother has disowned me. I am torn, never to be mended. It’s a discomfort that hides yet comes rushing back at unexpected times. I look back on my Father’s ultimate betrayal and my mother with her eyes covered.

What hurts most is the mind-altering destruction of my loved ones’ lives and relationships, including my own son, and the resulting backlash of anxiety and regrets faced every day.

In only the past few years, I was driven to pursue research identifying, describing, and validating the reality of my situation. I studied cults, spiritual abuse, narcissistic behavior, memory loss, and various other tendrils. I had to recognize and come to terms with my reality.  I have recognized that deciding what reality you are willing to live within is vital.

Just as crucial, is the turmoil you give yourself permission to live without.

Despite His turmoil in my life and mind, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UCONN and a Master of Science in Learning Disabilities from SCSU. I have taught elementary school for 25 years. I have been with my high school sweetheart for 41 years, been married for 34, and have three grown children: a writer, a musician, and an artist.

~Maria Peregolise

Thought Adjusters w/ Maria Peregolise, IndoctriNation with Rachel Bernstein

Thought Adjusters w/ Maria Peregolise

Author and Educator Maria Peregolise grew up as the daughter of a “spiritual prophet”. A follower of The Urantia Book, her father used the theology of that religious text to justify his narcissistic abuse. Maria’s father claimed to have channeled the voice of Jesus and acted as God’s Prophet in order to exercise control over her.

Rachel and Maria discuss the signs and symptoms of being raised in a cult or narcissistic environment, as well as the fantastical and outlandish content of the controversial book and the effects it has on its followers. You can find more information about Maria’s upcoming book “Culted Child” at her website which archives the resources used in her book.

Before You Go: Rachel discusses the sensationalistic terms and damaging language used in The Urantria Book and what’s left when the smoke and mirrors of these manipulative teachings clear.

Thank you to our newest Patron Hollie Hire and to Ken Bernstein, a Patron for a few months now and counting! cults, storytelling, urantria