Scythe Tleppo: My Survival of a Cult, Abandonment, Addiction and Homelessness

Children God Cult And Culture – A Book Review

Scythe Tleppo by Nathan Rich


Some of the top journalists and authors don’t like to use the word cult. They prefer High Control Group. How do you pick, or define what a cult is?

There is the B.I.T.E. model. At we find:

  • Behavior Control
  • Information Control
  • Thought Control
  • Emotional control

As defined by Robert Jay Lifton, cult and mind control expert.

A famous American cult is The People’s Temple led by Rev. Jim Jones. Yes, they drank the kool aid, or were shot, and many died. A US Senator died.

Adults can make choices. When their children are born into the cult, they grow up a scientologist, a Hare Krishna, a White Supremacist. Isolated from the culture at large, they home-school, or go to private school.

Scythe Tleppo is a fascinating book. I knew quite a bit about this young man’s story from watching some Youtube videos, interviews with him about his growing up in a cult, seven years of homelessness, and death-defying drug use, and recovery.

I wanted to know more. How can a person live through and recover from all that?

The book is a harrowing, nerve wracking page turner.

Nathan loved his scientologist single mother and tried to please her by engaging with a high control group and its militant perspective on humanity, education and “ethics”.

Eight year old Nathan was sent to an isolated private school in the California desert, exploited for hard labor, and even deprived of good food and education.

Emotional and physical tortures were duly applied. Finally he goes home.

The nerve wracking issue is, how can this happen in the US? What about the law? Are more children experiencing this today?

When Nathan gets the chance to advance in a non-cult private school, from a failing, to an A plus student, mentored by a teacher who was also a father figure to him, he finally experiences educated, caring, masculinity.

This progress in his education and his healthy socialization is a heart-warming relief. We can see his driven personality and high potential.

Mom, with her distorted cult perspective, sees a threat in this wonderful relationship and intervenes, resulting in despair and embarrassment for Nathan.

He derails rapidly in the high school grades, when he loses daily contact with his mentor.

Mom signs guardianship of Nathan over to the same school, now in a more isolated location. They can starve, deprive and torture her son as they like.

Which they do, protected by the US First Amendment, which allows the starvation, deprivation, humiliation and physical torture of both minors and adults.

The next decade of Nathan’s life is sensational and shocking. It’s like everyday is a ride on the runaway train to a predictable death.

Nathan Rich achieves what many authors undergo years of study for. A holistic, deep connection with the reader which conveys the depth of his honesty and intelligence.

The details are fascinating, understandable and heart breaking. Deeply heartbreaking, as it is all heartbreaking.

Near death events with drugs.

Arrests and jail time.


Nathan gets back to real education. But he tells us, he will never be as intelligent as he once was, due to drug use.

Most of us would settle for the level of intelligence he was left with.

There is more, and it is inspiring.

While this author was born into an antisocial high control group, if you’re a parent, please know that there are hundreds of cults waiting for your child. In an insecure or vulnerable time, especially at college, a myriad of cult recruiters lurk, behind seemingly harmless front groups, poised to hijack your child’s future.

The book isn’t perfect. Self-published, it could do with a little more polish. However it is an important tale that parents, students of cults and many fellow humans may find as mesmerizing as I did.

Caveat culti!