Spiritual group accused of cult-like activities may be planting roots in Mt. Shasta area
The leader of a nonprofit spiritual institution that has been accused of cult-like activities is thought to be living in the Mt. Shasta area, and a group of citizens is alerting people to their presence and encouraging the group to leave Siskiyou County.
Amy Carlson, who is known as "Mother God" to followers of the Love Has Won spiritual group, garnered national attention after appearing on Dr. Phil last year.
Mt. Shasta is a beacon for new age activity and lures people from around the globe who are seeking spiritual enlightenment, so it's no surprise that followers of the Love Has Won group would be drawn here, as well.
Rick Ross, who has has testified as an expert on cults in 10 states and is the author of the book "Cults Inside Out: How People Get in and Can Get Out," said in his opinion, the group is a cult.
Love Has Won broadcasts messages and sermons almost daily, and in several languages, on their website, Facebook and YouTube channels. The group is "dedicated to raising the consciousness of planet into Unity Consciousness, through the power of Our Hearts, connected with the Unified Heart," according to its Facebook page.
Until about two weeks ago, several group members were living at an RV park in Mount Shasta. The manager of the park said the young people were clean, respectful and were only asked to leave because too many people ended up living in their RV, which was against the park's policy.
Although the Love Has Won website lists the group's address as Crestone, Colorado in most places, a Dunsmuir P.O. Box is also included as a mailing address in fine print, confirming activists' belief that Carlson is living there.
Several attempts to contact the Love Has Won group with the phone number listed on their website were unsuccessful, and a request for comment by email was not returned.
Is Love Has Won a cult?
Ross's book has a whole chapter on the three basic requirements that make a cult:
1. There is a leader with absolute, totalitarian control over its members. This leader is the driving force of the group, and are often the subject of worship. This person essentially controls every aspect of their followers' lives.
2. The leader uses coercive and persuasive means to control followers' thoughts and have total influence over them. They ultimately control who they see, talk to, and read.
3. The leader uses that undue influence to exploit their followers, ultimately doing them harm.
Ross said not every cult is equally destructive, but he sees Love Has Won as being a "deeply destructive group," especially after appearing with Carlson on the Dr. Phil show last year and watching their livestreams.
In an introduction to "mom" on the Love Has Won website, Carlson said she is in her 534th reincarnation in her "quest to recover my beloved Planet, the Center of the Universe, and the first Planet I created." She claims the planet is ascending "and you need to reconnect with prime source creator, me!"
Could Love Has Won be a danger to the community?
While Love Has Won is dangerous for the group members, Ross said it probably won't affect the Mt. Shasta area community since Carlson's followers are involved exclusively with her and one another.
Most of their recruiting is done through its online platforms, he said.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue said his department hasn't confirmed the group is back in the county, and Undersheriff James Randall said the department hasn't done any welfare checks on this group recently.
"Years ago, when they were in Dunsmuir, we would get requests to go and check on people from relatives of folks who were in a 'cult,'" LaRue said. "Family hadn’t heard from them in a while and so they were concerned and wanted us to make contact with them and confirm they were okay. We also received complaints from neighbors that the 'cult' was loud and making a lot of noise at all hours of the night. Other than those types of calls, we never found anything criminal in nature."
But members of the group Love Has Won Exposed and Rising Above Love Has Won say they have ample evidence that Carlson is living in the Dunsmuir area in a rented cabin that sleeps 10 people and goes for $1,015 a week.
Shasta County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Tim Mapes confirmed that a report was made regarding Carlson earlier this month. A deputy talked with the reporting party and at that time, there wasn't enough evidence to warrant a welfare check, Mapes said.
From Colorado to Hawaii to Dunsmuir
Carlson and Castillo left Hawaii in September of 2020, according to reports from Mauinow.com and The Garden Island, at the urgings of protesters who picketed outside the condo the group had been renting on Kauai.
Although it’s not apparent where Love Has Won's YouTube broadcasts are being filmed, in one of the segments, the speaker stands outdoors in a forested area with snow in the background. As she talks, the whistle of a train can be heard — like that of a train traveling on the tracks near the Mount Shasta RV park.
The group sells vitamin supplements and colloidal silver, titanium and gold, and in late March, activists took photos of an unmanned bake sale set up on a folding table near the entrance of the RV park. “Mom’s Bake Sale,” as the sign proclaimed, featured items including “Magic Peanut Butter Surprise weed cookies,” and “Magic Cranberry Crumble,” which was labeled as “double strength.”
"Kauai was proactive and successful, I know we can be too," said local activist Angelica Heed, who is helping lead the charge to get Love Has Won to leave the county. "This is not about spreading fear, but calls for awareness and action."
Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.