Love Has Won Is the Rare Cult Doc That Leads With Empathy
For her first couple decades on Earth, Amy Carlson lived a pretty typical Gen X life. Born in McPherson, Kan. in 1975, the first child of parents who divorced when she was seven, she was a good student and a loving sibling to little sister Tara. “Amy had dreams,” her mom Linda recalls in the HBO documentary Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God. “She wanted to go somewhere. She wanted to be somebody.” But Carlson didn’t come from money. Her ambitions got channeled into climbing the corporate ladder at McDonald’s. One day, she tried ecstasy and realized how empty her quotidian existence had become. She knew she had to change her life.
The Birth of a Cult
Another young woman might have picked up a guitar or a paintbrush or started an Etsy shop. Carlson got into New Age spirituality, rechristened herself “Mother God,” and became a de facto cult leader, presiding over a household of around 20 followers. Then she died, in the spring of 2021. Police eventually found her body—emaciated, mummified, adorned with glitter makeup, and strewn with Christmas lights—in what was once her bedroom. Her disciples had been awaiting her resurrection.
Exploring the Love Has Won Community
Love Has Won, a three-part series from director Hannah Olson (Baby God) that premieres Nov. 13, tells the sad, weird story of Carlson and her Love Has Won community. Deeply reported, surprisingly empathetic, and revealing, if not always as insightful as you’d hope, the documentary captures the appeal of cults in a lonely, spiritually bereft world.
The Internet’s Role in Cult Creation
Like so many bizarre 21st-century sects, from NXIVM to the DayLife Army, Love Has Won existed in physical space but was a product of the internet. Carlson found a spiritual community through the message boards on Lightworkers.org, which describes itself as “a transformative online platform for individuals seeking spiritual growth, healing, and enlightenment,” in the mid-2000s. There she met Amerith White Eagle, who became the first of many “Father Gods” to her divine feminine.
The “More God” Mentality
Carlson didn’t just want a soulmate or an equal. She wanted a platform. She wanted followers. She came to believe that, as White Eagle puts it, “she was more God than other people were God.” The couple started a website called The Galactic Free Press, where they wrote and vlogged about their beliefs.
The Appeal of Mother God
Mother God became a rabbit hole you could fall down, after passing through conspiracy theories about 9/11, UFOs, the global banking system. By the early 2010s, White Eagle had been sidelined in favor of Father Gods more amenable to Carlson’s delusions of grandeur. A few years later, she assembled a bigger live-in community made up largely of attractive young adults afflicted with spiritual hunger.
Living in a Cult
They earned a living by selling crystals, T-shirts, healing sessions, and the dangerous pseudo-panacea colloidal silver. Because the internet provided a platform for the group to both make money and conduct outreach, Love Has Won benefits from a massive, effectively edited archive of livestream footage and other video that captures the daily lives of Carlson, her Father Gods, and the rest of the community.
The Charismatic Mother God
We get to see Mother God at her most charismatic and beatific, as well as in moments of sadness, frustration, and rage; armchair psychological diagnosis can be hard to resist. Carlson’s excessive drinking and restricted diet take a toll on her outward appearance over time, as well, heralding the long, slow, seemingly inevitable descent into tragedy.
The Dark Side of a Cult
Love Has Won may have started with a message of love and enlightenment, but it soon becomes clear that the cult took a dark turn. The followers, desperate for meaning and connection, fall under the spell of Mother God, losing touch with reality and their own identities in the process.
A Story of Spiritual Hunger
The documentary captures the essence of the Love Has Won community – individuals seeking something greater than themselves, searching for solace and purpose in a confusing world. It shines a light on the dangers of falling down the rabbit hole of a cult, the allure of charismatic leaders, and the devastating consequences that can follow.
Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God is a rare documentary that approaches the subject matter with empathy and understanding. It explores the complexities of cult dynamics and the human need for connection and spiritual fulfillment. Through intimate storytelling and captivating footage, the documentary sheds light on the dark side of cults and raises important questions about the power of belief and the dangers of manipulation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How did Amy Carlson become the leader of Love Has Won?
Amy Carlson, also known as Mother God, became the leader of Love Has Won through her exploration of New Age spirituality and her desire for followers and a platform.
2. What role did the internet play in the creation of Love Has Won?
The internet played a significant role in the creation of Love Has Won, providing a platform for Carlson to connect with like-minded individuals and spread her message.
3. How did Love Has Won’s followers support themselves?
Love Has Won’s followers supported themselves by selling various products and services, such as crystals, T-shirts, healing sessions, and colloidal silver.
4. What was the appeal of Mother God and Love Has Won?
Mother God and Love Has Won offered a sense of meaning, connection, and spiritual fulfillment to individuals who were searching for something greater than themselves.
5. What are the dangers of falling into a cult?
Falling into a cult can lead to the loss of personal identity, isolation from loved ones, manipulation, and in extreme cases, physical and emotional harm.