06/24/2024

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‘Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult’ Proves That Religious Cults Have No Limits

‘Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult’ Proves That Religious Cults Have No Limits

The post ‘Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult’ Proves That Religious Cults Have No Limits appeared first on Ready Steady Cut.

I find false prophets fascinating. Like narcissism, they can only target one group – the high-value and susceptible. Over the years, the media has provided stories of religious cults, but I guarantee there’s nothing as bizarre as this series. Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult is a jaw-dropping, sensationalist true crime story, proving there are no limits to influence for religious cult-like practices.

And so, meet the Wilking sisters (Melanie and Miranda), two young girls brought up in a typical middle-class home pursuing the American dream. These girls are lucky to have good-natured parents who can push them to reach for their dancing aspirations. They also have a significant sisterhood and can rely on each other to further their careers via TikTok. Unfortunately, these loving sisters have split apart due to a strange religious cult with a fascinating setup that still exists today. 

This Is Absolutely Bonkers Cult Stuff

So that brings me to Robert Shinn, the Founder and Pastor of Shekinah Church and the owner of 7M Films, which go hand-in-hand. Allegedly (as the civil cases against him do not arrive until 2025), Robert uses his entrepreneurship and religious influence to sign TikTok dancers up to his company. Following this, he ensures they have a home, and their success is tied to the church. He guarantees them success in the name of Jesus, but the fruits of the success land in his bank accounts. Frighteningly, he uses manipulative skills to brainwash his followers into isolating themselves from friends and family to ensure they do not go to Hell and to continue the Lord’s work.

The con: if they don’t, they will not be successful and believe they are doing wrong by God and the pastor (who calls himself the Man of God). 

Is this all making sense? Probably not. I’m not entirely sure how religion, dancing on TikTok to earn sponsorships and money, and being brainwashed into cult-like practices connect. It’s so unbelievably wild that this true-crime series struggles to articulate it. It’s almost like the documentary respects Robert Shinn for being grossly successful at manipulating hordes of young adults into his abusive program. 

I understand why people become consumed by Scientology once they understand the faith system involved and the manipulative “rewards” that come with it, but the conglomerate between 7M Films and the Shekinah Church bases itself on Christian values. As such, you’d think it would be difficult for Robert to create a labor workforce by claiming he’s the “Man of God.” It doesn’t add up, and the true crime series does a marvelous job of building up this confusion that has had people debating for years on the validity of the stories. 

At the same time, I understood the meaning behind the documentary series: it’s sick both ways — the fact that young adults are so desperate that they are susceptible to highly condemned Christian religious practices says more about the world today — generations want a quicker route to fame and money than their dopamine reserves can handle. On the other hand, the fact that a man of faith is even doing this is a disturbing testament to society and how families are letting their children down.

The Series Teaches The Frustrating Approach To Save A Family Member From a Cult

Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (Credit – Netflix)

But Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult doesn’t delve into the powerful psychology of it all and instead focuses on the family members and former 7M influencers impacted by this ordeal. It’s incredibly upsetting to see Miranda’s sister Melanie and her parents be stunned and devastated when Miranda suddenly, one day, decides she no longer wants to see them when she’s rightfully obliged to attend her grandparents’ funeral. The confusing swirl of emotions, seeing Miranda live a seemingly good life on TikTok, and getting married is surprisingly painful. Once someone is deep in a cult, it’s extremely difficult to convince them to leave and even more dangerous to be aggressively involved. The more involvement, the more the abuse heightens. The less involved, the more likely the family member will reach out to you when it gets too bad — a fact I did not know until I watched this series.

The plethora of victims in this true crime series helps elevate it to a worthwhile watch. In three episodes, you learn about Robert Shinn’s revolution, past and present, as well as his successes and failures. Like Scientology, the main lesson learned is that cults like this desperately control the narrative, and considering that the main narrative in this is based upon clips, lives, and reels, the power of social media is put on display. Not only are cults getting good at having private, closed-off communities, but they are also getting good at trending good social media PR. 

Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult could be the most sensationalist true crime series of the year. Your jaw will drop. You will find it unbelievable, and rightfully so, and you will walk away from it wondering how far cult-like practices can go. Where else in our lives can false prophets infiltrate industries? If talented TikTok dancers can be coerced into a cult-like community, then no medium of life is safe, and I think that’s the parting message of the Netflix series.

The post ‘Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult’ Proves That Religious Cults Have No Limits appeared first on Ready Steady Cut.