Spiritual group compared to Heaven's Gate cult is planting roots in Mt. Shasta area

Mount Shasta Herald, California/April 26, 2021

By Skye Kinkade

Amy Carlson, age 44, is called "Mother God" by the followers of her nonprofit spiritual institution, Love Has Won. She is thought to be living in the Dunsmuir area.

The leader of a nonprofit spiritual institution that has been compared to the notorious Heaven's Gate cult is thought to be living in the Mt. Shasta area, and a group of concerned citizens is banding together to alert people to their presence and encourage 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 with her followers. They defended their belief that 44-year-old Carlson has been reincarnated hundreds of times and is in contact with Robin Williams since his 2014 death, among other unusual beliefs.

Carlson, along with her partner, 45-year-old Jason Castillo, or “Father God," have been tracked to the Dunsmuir area, where they're living just south of the county line in Shasta County.

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 the group is most likely not a threat to residents of Siskiyou County, but they could be dangerous to one another.

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.

Rick Alan Ross, an expert in cults, said in his professional opinion, Love Has Won is a cult. His book, "Cults Inside and Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out," talks about the specific qualities a group needs to have to be considered a cult.

Is Love Has Won a cult?

"Cult deprogrammer" Rick Ross compared Love Has Won to the notorious Heaven's Gate group, whose 39 members in 1997 committed mass suicide by drinking a lethal dose of phenobarbital and vodka so they could leave their bodies and be taken to the kingdom of Heaven. Ross said in his professional opinion, Love Has Won is 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.

Love Has Won is a nonprofit spiritual institution that believes Amy Carlson, 44, has been reincarnated hundreds of times and is the mother of all creation.
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 and watching their livestreams.

He said Carlson isolates her followers and controls their communications and living conditions – a statement Carlson denied on the Dr. Phil show. Ross said she's an authoritarian figure for members of her group, as evidenced by them calling her "mom" or "mother."

"They believe she has lived many lives ... people in the group cannot question Amy. She is the defining element and the driving force of Love Has Won," said Ross. If Carlson were to leave the group, die or be incarcerated, the group would most likely disintegrate, he said.

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, although he believes there is a "substantial amount of money involved" in the group, since the home they left in Hawaii was an expensive AirBnB.

He also pointed to "rampant drug alcohol abuse" that he believes is prominent among Love Has Won members.

Ross said Heaven's Gate was also a small, rather obscure group that operated online in the early days of the internet. They were also "tightly wound around Applewhite," who they believed was a reincarnate of Jesus. Applewhite promised, Ross said, to take his group's members to the level above humans and was also extremely controlling.

Ross said Carlson is like Applewhite in that she is also "mentally unstable."

"Anytime there is a group where a person has that much power and they're also unstable, it is a lethal mix," he said. "It's a formula for disaster ... these people depend on Amy to tell them what is real and what's not real. What's a threat, and what's not a threat."

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.

In many of their posts and videos, Carlson's followers say she is in declining health and ask for donations for her "medicine," although they don't specify what that medicine is. Activists – some of whom are Carlson's family members and former group members – keep track of Carlson through photos posted to Love Has Won's various social media accounts. Recent photos show a startling change in Carlson's appearance and indicate she's in declining health.

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.

The deputy instead advised the reporting party to contact an ambulance, since it was a medical emergency.

"We called for an ambulance to (Carlson's) location last Friday, April 16 after reports of Amy having difficulty breathing," said a representative of Rising Above Love Has Won. "The ambulance was unable to reach Amy as her followers lied about knowing her location ... However, she is definitely still in (the Siskiyou County) area along with several members."

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, after which they arrived in Siskiyou County.

An unmanned bake sale, featuring baked goods containing cannabis, was set up near the entrance to an RV Park in Mount Shasta by members of the Love Has Won group and photographed by activists who hope to encourage the group to leave Siskiyou County.
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."

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