A former member of an alleged cult which has several TikTok stars in its fold claims the leader is “a parasite who brainwashes members with satanic threats.”
In an exclusive interview with The Sun former Shekinah Church member Lydia Chung alleged that followers are kept tightly under the sect’s control through tactics like “brainwashing, manipulation and fear.”
The church, run by founder Robert Shinn, 63, has been accused by the family of TikToker Miranda Derrick, 25, of recruiting her and other influencers with millions of followers working with Shinn's 7M Films production and management company.
Shinn has been hit by claims online that he is running a "cult" that has recruited top dancers through his 7M Films production and management company and brainwashed them.
Chung sued the church and its founder for fraud back in 2009 after she claimed she was taken for nearly $4million. She lost her case after trial.
The former devotee, who was a member of the Shekinah Church from 1996 until 2008, believes that Robert is teaching present-day members that the "attacks on the church in the news and on social media currently are persecution because they are the only true followers of God.”
She claims the church preached that “all worldly people are satanic” and that those teachings likely continued into the present-day church and would be applied to the controversy its leadership is now facing.
Chung claims that 7M uses TikTok dancers like Miranda Derrick, along with their massive followings, as a way to infiltrate entertainment and media was something that was set into motion when Shinn first plotted to come to California some 30-years-ago.
She told The Sun Robert had said "Where do all the people who want fame and money go? They go to Hollywood."
Chung said "Early on he had tried to get the church into media and entertainment, it just wasn’t initially successful. He claimed God called him to California. God did not call him to California; power and money did."
A statement released on a new Instagram account for 7M Films reads: "It is true that the CEO of 7M, Dr. Robert Shinn, is also the Pastor of Shekinah Church.
"It is not true that there's any business affiliation between the two entities.
"The Shekinah Church and 7M are run and operated separately and apart from each other.
"It is quite common for a person of faith to own and operate one or many secular for-profit businesses.
"You do not have to be a member of the second church to be represented by 7M, nor do you have to be represented by 7M to be a member of the Shekinah Church. Any claims to the contrary are simply wrong."
The former fold-member said that her own experience was particularly damaging because of her personal wealth.
Chung was recently attacked on a newly created pro 7M and Shekinan Church Instagram account.
Whoever runs the account suggested in comments that she was in love with Shinn.
They also attacked her intelligence and business acumen.
"When you look at this, you can understand how I was psychologically manipulated and damaged. What they are saying is that I was not smart and savvy enough. They had to break me down, they had to destroy me to get at my money," said Chung, whose claims that Robert defrauded her of $4 million failed in court.
"They made everyone in the church believe I was the dumbest person. They physiologically broke me," she added.
As for being in love with church founder Shinn, Chung scoffed and said "He thinks every woman wants him. That is the biggest problem for a narcissist, they fully believe in their delusions."
"I never wanted Robert, I knew who he was- he was broke, ugly and married."
Shinn and the other defendants reportedly prevailed at the 2009 trial against all of the claims in the lawsuit.
Chung told The Sun she believes the trial was unjust and she hopes to pursue further legal recourse.
In the lawsuit against Robert Shinn from 2009, Chung claimed he had been described online as a “former medical doctor who successfully practiced medicine for seven years before God spoke to him and brought him into ministry full time”.
Chung alleged - in claims that were reportedly dismissed with prejudice following a trial - that Shinn and others in Shekinah Church had deprived her of at least $3.8 million in property and funds after she joined the church in 2000.
Lydia was also ordered to pay Shinn's legal fees, which he waived.
The lawsuit alleged: “Defendants exerted undue influence, mind control, coercive persuasion, oppression and other intimidating tactics in the name of ‘opening up and being honest to God’ to cause plaintiff, Lydia Chung, to reveal and give them control over all of her personal financial information.”
The 2009 case reportedly went to trial and a court ruled in favor of Shinn and the other defendants on all counts alleged in the lawsuit.
Robert Shinn was recently revealed in a photo exclusive by The Sun running errands near the $2.5 million mansion in North Hollywood where he appears to be living and where many of 7M Films hit TikTok dance videos have been shot.
TikTok star Wilking's family concerns
TikToker Miranda Derrick's family became vocal about their concerns around her involvement in 7M, the management company formed by Shinn's son Isaiah, 25.
Miranda’s sister Melanie and parents Dean and Kelly Wilking tearfully denounced the church for allegedly cutting them off from Miranda in an Instagram Live video last month.
“They are not in control of their lives— someone else is controlling their lives and they're all victims of this,” the Wilkings claimed of 7M’s recruits.
The Wilking family alleges they became estranged from Miranda in January 2021 after she refused to go to her grandfather’s funeral.
They say she later went on to marry her now-husband James Derrick without telling them or inviting them to the wedding.
Melanie, 22, said in the family’s video plea: “We know that’s not her. We haven’t said anything because we always had hope that she’d come back. We didn’t want to embarrass her.”
Melanie claims she also briefly became involved in the church but was not invited to return after she missed just one religious service, which she considered a "red flag".
Asked if they have contacted the authorities, Melanie said: "We can't find anything illegal happening besides complete brainwashing, which you can't really prove.
"So, unfortunately, because they're all adults, there's nothing anyone can do."
She added: "I wake up every day hoping that I'm waking up from this nightmare because it doesn't feel like it should be real."
Shinn and 7M vehemently deny the claims and accuse the Wilkings of turning Miranda's "private family matters into a tawdry public scandal for clicks and clout".
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