Bethany Joy Lenz is open about a really tough time in her life. She was in a cult, which almost cost her a natural relationship with family and associates from the One Tree Hill cast due to the cult’s possessive nature.
The actress from One Tree Hill went through a hard situation when she was on the popular teen show from 2003 to 2012. She got involved in a cult that started as a home Bible study in Los Angeles.
This group made her stay away from her loved ones and miss out on many activities. Luckily, her castmates had her back. She spilled all the info when she was on the Biscuits & Jam podcast.
Who is Bethany Lenz?
Bethany Lenz was born in Hollywood, Florida. She’s the only child of Robert George Lenz, a history teacher and a therapist, and her mother, Catharine Malcolm Holt Shepard, a personnel manager and an entrepreneur. You probably know her best from the TV show One Tree Hill, where she played Haley James Scott, married to James Lafferty’s character Nathan, and friends with Chad Michael Murray’s character Lucas.
Before One Tree Hill, Bethany did a lot of acting on the stage and loved musical theater. She was indifferent to productions like “Annie,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gypsy,” “Cinderella,” and “CATS for Cats.”
After moving from Texas to New York, she played “Michelle Bauer Santos” on Guiding Light. When that was done, she moved to Los Angeles and appeared in episodes like Charmed, Felicity, and The Guardian. She also did some stage acting in LA, including “The Outsiders,” directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, and “Happy Days,” where she played Pinky Tuscadero, directed by Garry Marshall.
When she was just three, she started singing in a Florida church. After moving to Arlington, Texas, she went to a performing arts school at seven. Her grandpa, George Lenz, did Broadway musical theater.
She quickly got roles in community theater and won her first TV commercial gig in Los Angeles. As a kid actor, she was in a few ’90s TV movies before landing a job on the soap Guiding Light as a teenager.
Alongside acting, she was also into music, learning guitar and piano. Her first solo album, Preincamate, came out in 2002. She even directed some episodes of the show. In 2005, she dropped her second album, Come on Home.
Later, she teamed up with Amber Sweeney to form the folk duo Everly, releasing Mission Bell [EP] in 2008 and Fireside in 2009. She brought out another solo album, Then Slowly Grows, in 2012.
Which Cult was Bethany Lenz in?
Bethany confessed that she was in a cult called The Mosaic Chruch for ten years. Although she hasn’t opened up about it fully, she did say that at first, the church didn’t portray the cult-like front, but as it continued, she began to see the cult-like attitude and behavior.
The Mosaic Church is a church in Los Angeles, and she said she had been attending the church on and off for two years. And in 2021, she called out the church on Instagram for its activities.
She didn’t spill the beans on the cult details, but Bethany shared that she’s stressed about getting the story right and real. She mentioned feeling some pressure, and there’s a bit of a tricky situation with people and legal stuff, making it a bit complicated to spill all the beans just yet. But she’s into writing – like, all the time.
Bethany’s Experience in The Mosaic Church Cult
Initially, since she joined the ‘church,’ she’d told her co-stars about the church. On the other hand, the One Tree Hill cast seemed to know what the church was doing and tried to get her to leave.
But in any case, Bethany was stubborn and refused to leave the ‘church.’
The cult leader seemed strange to Bethany, like the leader of another group called NXIVM. After seeing a show called The Vow, she even messaged someone named Sarah Edmondson about the similarities.
Bethany said the cult started as a Bible study in someone’s home in Los Angeles, and they wanted their members to avoid people who weren’t in the group, even her co-stars on One Tree Hill.
This part was tough for her because she distanced herself from friends and family, missing important events in their lives.
Being loyal to the cult also made her say no to big opportunities like being in huge movies and Broadway shows when she was doing well in her career.
Bethany also said, “I had trained and dreamed about everything since I was a kid, and all those dreams were coming true. But I said no to it all because I wanted to live with this small group of people in a remote place. I thought I was making a good, spiritual sacrifice.”
She added, “Let me tell you if any group wants you to believe exactly what they believe just to be loved, and there’s no room for different thoughts, please go the other way. Just run far away, as far as you can go.”
Bethany Compared the Bible Study Cult to NXIVM
As a child, Bethany’s family often had Bible studies on Wednesday nights, and when she moved to a new place, she wanted to find a similar group to join and connect spiritually.
So, she discovered a Bible study in Los Angeles that met on Wednesdays. As time passed, the friendships seemed to get stronger and more open. However, there was a person in a leadership role who turned out to be sociopathic.
Most of the people involved were in their early 20s, and she even compared the person to Keith Raniere, the founder of NXIVM, who got a 120-year prison sentence in 2020 for leading a cult-like group where women were treated badly and marked with his initials.
Bethany said she saw similar things in the docuseries about NXIVM on YouTube, and this scared her so badly. Because she was so into her faith, people led her to the wrong path, where she got bad advice.
She gave it a name, “spiritual abuse,” and explained that why she stayed with them was because she was scared of God, scared of having a personal connection with God. So, she joined the ‘Church’ and let them tell her what to do so that she wouldn’t have to figure it out alone. She followed everyone else’s rules, which was the worst of all. She was deceived and misled.
When and Why Did Bethany Lenz Leave the Cult?
Bethany left the group not long after One Tree Hill finished in 2012. Being on the show kept her in North Carolina most of the time, which made it easier for her to leave.
Becoming a mom also played a big part in helping her leave the cult. But even after she left, her time in the group stayed with her. Trusting people and herself became hard.
Still, she hopes talking about it will help her overcome and heal her. Bethany wants to share all the tough parts in her book without hurting anyone so readers can see if someone in their life is acting the same way.
She wants to get every bit of help from this experience and turn it into something good for others. “I want to make the best out of this tough situation for everyone else. Let’s turn this into something positive,” Bethany said.
What Life is Like for Bethany Now After Leaving the Cult
According to Bethany, leaving the cult wasn’t the problem; the problem was the feeling after she left, as she felt afraid and scared all of the time, even for her daughter, Maria, whom she was afraid the cult would come and try to take her away.
She said she experienced an in-depth fear of being labeled as a bad person, laughed at, and slandered. Also, she was afraid she couldn’t do her work, continue her career, lose her job and friends, and be shamed publicly.
This made her understand why some people in bad and abusive relationships stay quiet and don’t speak out and cry for help. That leaving the relationship, or in her case, the cult, wasn’t the issue. It was the admission and acceptance that they were so mistaken and hugely deceived, and facing the shame was the most difficult battle.
The war itself was asking herself the most difficult question she knew she would have a hard time answering, which was the question of how much she trusted herself and if she could again after she’d let herself down and allowed herself to be so used and abused.
At the moment, Bethany says she is in the process of recovering, and she’s writing her Memoir, which will talk about all the things she saw and what happened when she was in the cult.
The memoir is set to be published in the early months of 2024. And she is still happy that she is still a big believer in God, considering all the things she just went through in the so-called church. But she won’t let that deter her faith and intends to work on herself.