- An old video has surfaced of Ginni Thomas discussing her departure from a band called Lifespring.
- In the video, Thomas talks about leaving the group, which has often been described as a cult.
- Ginni told The Washington Post in 1987 that she had been bothered by some of the group’s practices.
A old video resurfaced on Twitter that appears to show Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, discussing her departure from the self-help cult Lifespring at a 1989 rally in Kansas.
The video was posted on Twitter by author Steven Hassan, who has written several books on cults and mind control. He identifies the woman he is talking to in the video as Ginni Thomas.
“I knew Ginni Thomas. Ginni Thomas was part of a cult (the group’s large awareness training cult, Lifespring). Here she is in 1989 speaking at an event I organized for former members “, wrote Hassan in the post.
—Steven Hassan, PhD (@CultExpert) March 31, 2022
In the video, a woman who appears to be Thomas talks about the struggles she faced after leaving Lifespring.
“When you leave a cult, you have to find a balance in your life in terms of fighting the cult or exposing it. what it was, who brought you into this group and what are the open questions that still need to be answered,” says Thomas.
“And I think I’m really trying to balance that. I want to expose Lifespring, I want to prevent other people from having this experience,” she added. “But I also don’t want to go too far in that regard so that I can reconnect with my own needs in a spiritual way, which I still haven’t.”
Lifespring’s group exercises consisted of ridiculing members for their weight and forcing them to discuss their sexual experiences.
Lifespring was founded in 1974 by John Hanley Sr. and is often classified as part of the “human potential movement” of the time.
When Thomas was a member, Lifespring charged $450 for its basic group training and $900 for its advanced program (equivalent to about $2,158.45 in 2022 dollars), according to a 1988 expose of the group by D Magazine.
According to an archived version of its now-defunct website, the group trainings: “led to improvements in participants’ self-confidence and self-esteem, reduced stress at work, a feeling of increased control in life and a more positive and enjoyable range of events and experiences in their lives.”
But many who participated in Lifespring said the group was coercive and used bigoted tactics to grow and maintain its membership. Members were held in sessions of hours and days and dared to push themselves beyond their limits. In some cases this has resulted in emotional breakthroughs, but for others it has caused pain, hardship and even death.
According to a 2018 GQ article about the group, six people died during Lifespring’s challenges. The organization faced dozens of cases of former member neglect and was finally disbanded in the early 1990s.
Thomas’ connection to Lifespring was first discussed in 1991 when her husband was undergoing Supreme Court confirmation hearings. At the time, The Washington Post noted that she joined Lifespring in the early 1980s and had been a member for several years.
Thomas was actually featured in a 1987 Post article about the band. In it, she shared that she attended Lifespring and was disturbed by some of the group’s drills, which included asking trainees to strip, ridiculing members for their body fat, and asking attendees specific questions of a sexual nature.
Thomas told the Post that she was forced to move to another part of the country to avoid constant calls from current Lifespring members trying to lure her back.
“Intellectually and emotionally, I had become so involved in this group that I was alienating myself from my family, my friends and the people I worked with. My best friend came to visit me and I preached to her, using that tough attitude. they teach you,” she said at the time.
“As you’ll probably notice, Ginni seems likeable (and she was)! After leaving Lifespring, she became heavily involved in the movement to HELP former cult members leave cults,” Hassan wrote in the thread of his post on Twitter.
“Unfortunately, the people who helped deprogram Ginni were also apparently involved in right-wing causes. As is the case with SO many former members, she was too sensitive and moved from one cult to another (La sect of Trump),” Hassan wrote. .
Neither Hassan nor Thomas immediately responded to Insider’s requests for comment.
Thomas made headlines last week when texts exchanged between her and Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, came to light. In the texts, Thomas appeared to air QAnon-related theories about the “Biden crime family” and also urged Meadows to rally Republicans around Trump following the 2020 election.
Thomas also admitted to attending the Ellipse rally in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021 – which preceded the Capitol riot – but denied having any ties to its organizers and said she got cold and left before the Capitol Riot. The Jan. 6 committee is now weighing whether or not to call Thomas for questioning by the panel investigating the Capitol riot.
Meanwhile, more than two dozen Democrats raised concerns this week about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ potential conflicts of interest, with some calling for Thomas’s resignation or removal.