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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Dragged Into the Light: Truthers, Reptilians, Super Soldiers, and Death inside an Online Cult by Tony Russo is a true crime book that tells the story of a for-profit cult, internet scams, and murder. This is the story of the nefarious influence of a social media cult leader, Ohio housewife Sherry Shriner. She preached about the mysterious orgone energy and Christian prayer, proposing tools to fight against the forces of evil, including Lucifer, reptilian creatures disguised as humans, the New World Order, and others. As she grew in popularity, she magnified the lie, which pulled in an even larger following. But what readers find in this book is manipulation and conspiracy that lead eventually led to horrible crimes, including murder.
Journalist and author Russo shares disturbing stories linked to the cult and the influence that Sherry Shriner had on her followers. When she told Steven Mineo that his girlfriend, Barbara, was a witch who was going to kill him, a month later, a homicide in the backroom of a trailer would see Steven dead and his girlfriend in jail. But for the followers of Sherry Shriner, it was the fulfillment of her prophecy. Readers are presented with a cult that destroys lives through conspiracy theories, lies, and manipulation. An example would be Kelly Marie Pingilley who got so obsessed with Sherry’s message that she volunteered to work full-time for two years to transcribe her audio messages as part of preparing herself to be transformed into an angel, as part of serving God.
Tony Russo’s book is not only a succinct and captivating documentation of Shriner’s cult but is also a well-researched book that shines a strong light on the elements and practices of a cult that has a strong negative impact on the lives of the followers. Readers will understand how religious scammers and fake preachers can manipulate and coerce their followers into committing acts that justify their statements, giving them a sense of authenticity. The author shares information gleaned from following this group online, police records, and internet chats. Dragged Into the Light presents the psychology of a woman who gets herself into the spotlight as an online evangelist through scamming and conspiracies. While this book is about the Sherry Shriner cult, it explores one of the illnesses of our age: the quest for power and attention by pseudo-religious leaders and the methods they use to deceive their followers. It is an eye-opening, painstakingly researched book that will enlighten readers about the mechanics of religious manipulation.