A tree hill star Bethany Joy Lenz speaks out about the harrowing experience of escaping a cult.
Talking to her former OT co-stars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton Morgan on their Drama queen podcast, Lenz opened up about one of the most difficult times of her life.
“I was in a cult for 10 years. That would be a really valuable experience to write about. And the recovery — 10 years of recovery after that. So there’s a lot to tell,” Lenz said, noting that as she methodically writes her story, “the pressure of getting [the account] right and everything has to be exactly real, and all the people involved” is a challenge.
“I don’t know how much I can say because there are still people and legal issues that complicate the timing of that,” the 42-year-old actress added.
Living with ADHD, a condition that has left her feeling “misunderstood” throughout her life, has also kept her from writing about the experience in a more thoughtful way, Lenz explained.
“I write all the time. I have a lot of essays and a lot of chapters and stuff, but to really commit to putting it all together [is a struggle]because I would like to write about my experience.”
She has invoked cults and alleged cult-like groups in the past
While Lenz declined to identify which cult she belonged to during conversations with her former castmates, she has not shied away from calling such groups and recruiters for cult-like organizations in the past.
“I feel I have a responsibility to speak up for anyone who will listen,” she wrote in a 2021 Instagram post criticizing Mosaic, a megachurch headquartered in Los Angeles. “If you feel like you’re being controlled, you are.” However, Lenz said in her post that she only visited Mosaic “occasionally for 2 years”.
In May, reflecting on how famed theologian and preacher Tim Keller helped her through the darkest times after escaping the nameless cult, the actress became emotional.
“This man changed my life,” she wrote on Instagram after his death on May 19. “The only reason I’m still a Christian today is that Tim Keller taught me 10 years ago how to rebuild my faith using reason and logic, after faith had been used against me as a manipulative tool for many years. that keeps my mind completely occupied and yet leaves room for wonder and mystery.”
She goes on to say that Keller has helped her to be more “confident and sure” in her faith than ever before “because of Tim Keller’s teachings and the relief they gave me to trust and fall in love with a Jesus again.” whom I never knew.”
Lenz has alluded to cult-like relationships with religious institutions in the song “Father Knows Best”, on the 2013 album Your wifewhich summons an unidentified dominant male figure.
“I know about the money / That’s under the spire / I know about your gender / I know about your demons / Father knows best / Until you try to leave him,” her song lyrics proclaimed.
A confrontation with Allison Mack
2016, Smallville actress Allison Mack, who just served a two-year sentence for her role in the mastermind behind the cult-like sex organization called NXIVM, tweeted at Lenz in an attempt to recruit her. Lenz blatantly refused.
“You’d love this woman’s movement I’m a part of. I’d love to tell you about it, DM me if you want!” Mack wrote at the time.
Two years later, Lenz responded in a since-deleted tweet: “Sorry love, was in a cult once before. But LMK if you’re on the other side and we’ll talk. Honestly, <3. That's raw stuff."
What’s next for Lenz?
In addition to OTLenz has appeared in such series as Right, Colony And Agents of SHIELD. Her most recent credits are from 2022, including an episode of the Bush medical drama Good Samthe indie horror film So cold the river and the thrille
r podcast Dark sanctuary.
In addition to her book and music, Lenz told her former co-stars that “some things are in the works… some projects are coming out” and would share details when she could.