Former Teen Idol Shares Big Secret: "I Was in a Cult for 10 Years"
One Tree Hill star Bethany Joy Lenz said it took her another decade to recover.
Countless documentaries have chronicled cults, and these groups continue to make headlines. This week, the news cycle has been dominated by the release of Leslie Van Houten—a member of the murderous Manson Family—after she served 53 years in prison for first-degree murder. Manson's group is arguably the most infamous, but several organizations in Hollywood have also been dubbed "cults" by observers and those who managed to escape. And while these groups are generally less extreme than Manson's, former followers say they can still do damage. Bethany Joy Lenz, former teen idol and star of the hit 2000s TV show One Tree Hill, is the latest to speak out about her involvement with a cult, which she said she was a part of for a decade. Read on to find out what she's now saying about her experience.
Lenz expressed interest in writing a book.
During the Monday, July 10 episode of the Drama Queens podcast, Lenz spoke with her One Tree Hill co-stars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton Morgan about whether any of them would ever write a book.
Podcast guest and One Tree Hill actor Michaela McManus posed the question to Lenz and Bush directly, asking whether they had an "interest in writing" as "brilliant women with so many stories to tell."
Lenz said she would definitely be interested—and has already started putting words to paper.
Lenz said her experience in a cult "would be a really valuable experience to write about."
On the podcast, Lenz said, "I have lots of essays; I have lots of chapters and things, but to really commit to putting it all together," then trailed off. The actor added that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) "has made it really difficult over the years."
"I would love to write about my experience," she said. "You know, 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. There's a lot to tell."
Lenz noted that writing a book is further complicated by "the pressure of getting it right, and everything having to be exactly real, and all the people that are involved."
In addition, there appear to be some restrictions on what she can disclose. After a deep sigh, the actor said, "I don't know how much I can say because there are still people and legal things in place that make it more complicated for the timing of that."
She didn't identify the organization she was a part of.
Lenz didn't name the group she was a part of, but People points to one of Lenz's Instagram posts from 2021, where she called the Mosaic Church "a high-demand group" that was "disturbing to me and to many other people who have left Mosaic for that reason."
The photo showed a billboard for the church, which had a circle and slash drawn around and on it. In the caption, Lenz particularly called out the "level of control" displayed by founder Eric McManus and her feelings about people "being [misled] in the name of a God I love and cherish."
According to Entertainment Tonight, in the caption at the time the photo was posted, Lenz also said that the "hierarchy" and "level of abuse" within the church was "textbook 101 of cults."
However, this may not be the organization in question, as Lenz also mentioned in the caption that she went to the megachurch "on and off for 2 years" (as opposed to the 10-year involvement she discussed on the podcast).
Lenz is writing regardless.
While she didn't reveal any more plans for a book or details about her personal experience, Lenz did tell her co-hosts that she writes "all the time" and confirmed that she even pens songs.
"I have some projects that I'm working on," she said. "There's some things in the works, there's some projects coming out."
Burton Morgan then joked that Lenz is just "writing everything in code" by using songs. "If I sing it, then it's just a song, and I can say what I want," she said in a sing-song voice.
Lenz responded by saying she has, in fact, done just that, which was met with laughter from her co-host.