UPDATE 5/5: Leader Amy Carlson was found dead Thursday, April 30th in the cult’s home near Crestone.
Be Scofield is the author of the new book Hunting Lucifer: One Reporter's Search for Cults and Demons. Her cult reporting is mentioned in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and People, and has been turned into HBO, Netflix, Dr. Phil, VICE, and more.
By BE SCOFIELD
July 22, 2020
“She was Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth of England, Marylin Monroe,” reads a post from the followers of Amy Carlson. These members of Carlson’s Love Has Won group believe she is the “Mother of All Creation” who, along with her partner, “Father God,” have come back to save earth from destruction. “It’s simple,” says devotee Lauren Suarez in a video. “Mom is God.”
Thousands of people from around the world watch Love Has Won’s daily Facebook livestream that’s hosted from their co-living space in Casita Park in Crestone Colorado. Suarez and fellow member Ashley Peluso lead the morning talks. Both in their mid-20s, they discuss new age topics such as ascension and galactic energy frequencies as well as push QAnon ideas. They also heavily sell their healing sessions and “God Squad” apparel line. And they regularly talk about their leader Amy Carlson’s divine purpose and mission.
In a video, Suarez explains that thousands of years ago Carlson was the queen of Lemuria, an ancient civilization here on earth (PDF transcript). Donald Trump was her father at the time. Atlanteans from Atlantis stole crystal technology from Lemuria and after using it the earth exploded. The earth was then taken over by “Anunnaki’s” and reptilians. The world is currently being run by the evil 1% “Cabal” who are “minions” of these two groups. They are determined to keep the planet in a low vibration. 19 billion years ago Amy Carlson and “Father God” aka Jason Castillo hatched a plan to save the universe from these dark forces and have been incarnating on earth ever since. Only those who come through Amy will be saved.
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Group members also believe they are in regular contact with deceased actor Robin Williams who is Archangel Zadkiel. Ever since he completed “starship integration” he has been supporting their mission they claim.
“Mother and Father God are here in the flesh; to assist in your healing and awakening to 5D Heaven Consciousness.”
On his first day in the group, one member was introduced to someone and told, “This is Archangel Michael and he’s half reptilian.” At least two members claim to be half reptilian he told me. Carlson also gives her followers new names like Archeia or angel names.
Love Has Won’s cosmic ideas even found their way into Up and Vanished Season 2, the hit podcast that explored the 2016 disappearance of Kristal Reisinger in Crestone. Host Payne Lindsey was interviewing Brendan Pulver (Landon) about Reisinger. “There’s 144,000 of us on the planet that have been, that are coming together to unify that vibration,” he told Lindsey. Then a woman interrupted. “I still don’t know who she was,” Lindsey said. “The masters are coming back Payne,” she said. It was Amy Carlson. (Listen to the clip from Up and Vanished)
Pulver was living at the Love Has Won house with Carlson and a dozen other members at the time of his interview. He was a member of the cult and close to the inner circle of drug users who are believed to be responsible for Reisinger’s death. And according to several insiders, the Love Has Won crew shares the same meth and drug circles as did Reisinger.
VIDEO: Amy “Mother God” & Jason “Father God”
WARNING: Vulgar Screaming / Cat Abuse
A Daughter Lost
One of the most dedicated viewers of the Love Has Won daily livestreams is a 52-year-old woman named Debbie from Massachusetts. She wakes up a few hours before work to watch. On her lunch break, she’ll spend even more time. Some nights she’ll stay up until 2 am going through the videos. Debbie is no believer, however.
“I love my daughter very much,” she told me during an interview. “I watch to make sure she’s still alive,” she said as she started crying. Debbie’s daughter is Ashley Peluso, a regular host of the livestreams. She’s lost all contact since Peluso got into Carlson’s cult two years ago. Her daughter is one of the dozens of mostly young people who have lived there. Debbie has found support by speaking regularly with three other mothers whose children have been involved in the group.
Debbie has watched the livestreams as Carlson’s behavior has increasingly become erratic. She can be seen slurring her speech, cursing, and acting abusively.“You fucking dick whores!” she screams in a recent video posted in July by Love Has Won. “Everyone that went against me, you’re going to get it!” Co-leader Jason Castillo also screams and uses vulgar language in the videos demanding people to “surrender.”
In 2019 Carlson upset many online when she was seen on video physically abusing a cat while screaming “whore” at it. A montage of the video and the group’s response was posted online. Her followers brushed off the cat abuse saying, “All animals know she is god.”
Families and detractors of the group have increasingly turned to social media to try and expose them. There are several Reddit topics and a Facebook page called Love Has Won Exposed. “For over 2 years, I have watched my wife sink deeper and deeper under the influence of this fraudulent cult,” writes a man on a Reddit.
“We feel like we lost our son…We’re in a mourning state.”
“We feel like we lost our son and someone else came home,” a mother named “Pamela,” told me. Her son lived in the group’s mission house for two years. “He used to be a very sweet person and we were very close but now believes we are these terrible people who programmed him to be weak.” She said he’s become very angry and verbally abusive towards them. “It was like he was possessed, he was just screaming at us,” she said. “We’re in a mourning state.”
From McDonalds to Mother God
Amy Carlson Stroud, a 44-year old former McDonald’s manager turned drug user and alcoholic would seem like an unlikely candidate for a cult leader, let alone God. Yet, to the utter surprise of the concerned mothers and families, she has been able to convince thousands around the world of her divine status. But she’s recycled her devotee’s at least “a dozen times” over the years claims a former member.
Before landing in Crestone, Carlson lived in Rowlett Texas, a suburb of Dallas. She’s had at least one DUI and one warrant for her arrest. She’s also lived in Mt. Shasta and has spent time in Clearwater and Yankeetown Florida. Prior to settling in Crestone in 2018, she spent a few years in the town from 2011–2013.
Love Has Won co-leader Jason Gilbert Castillo, 44, picked up several criminal charges in Nevada, Wisconsin, and Florida. They include child neglect, criminal mischief, two driving while intoxicated, trespassing, and breaking and entering. Castillo spent six months in a Florida jail in 2019.
Drunk On Spirits
“One of the reasons they believe Amy is God is because she can drink so much alcohol,” Jeremy Brown, 30, told me. He lived at the Love Has Won house in Casita Park for six weeks. Livestream regular Ashley Peluso even bragged in a blog post about how if anyone drank like “mother” they’d be dead. Brown said Carlson once drank 24 tequila shots in a row. He also saw her chug a full bottle of very concentrated THC. “I got coffee and whiskey, so fuck off,” Carlson says in a video.
Brown dropped everything and flew from New Orleans to live with Love Has Won in Crestone in April of 2019. He was convinced Carlson was God after having spent 1.5 years watching the group’s online videos. His story is similar to that of the other young members who found their way into the cult.
According to Brown and others I spoke with, Carlson employs a variety of techniques to break her followers down and cut them off from their families and loved ones. “They are all victims of thought reform,” Pamela wrote. “Everything they do 24/7 revolves around this woman and the ‘Father God.’” She describes Carlson as an “expert manipulator and brainwasher.”
The mother of a young woman who was involved said Carlson collected her daughter’s $1,200 disability check each month for a year. She’s currently collecting the full social security checks from a few elderly members as well. Others have gifted large sums of money. Tommie Hilfiger’s ex-wife Susie appeared in person for two hours in one of Love Has Won’s livestreams and almost left a blank check for the group.
Brown told me that last year a member named Robert (Robbie) Foley mysteriously disappeared after having given his $10,000 trust fund and SUV to Carlson. He’s not been able to locate him since. “It’s like he never existed,” he said. “They won’t answer a single question about him.” Foley’s last visible Facebook post is from August 2019, the time he left the group.
“It doesn’t go good for people who leave. One dude blew his brains out.” — Peter Douglish, member
According to Brown, Pamela, and others I spoke with, members are only allowed to sleep 2–4 hours per night. “Amy believes food and sleep are obstacles to her ascension,” Brown said. He lost 25 pounds in six weeks from the rationing of food. The members’ weight loss is visible to anyone who watches their videos over time.
Members are broken down until they have “no sense of worth or self-identity left,” writes Pamela. Brown says members were “extremely cruel” to each other. “I’ve never seen someone scream as loudly as Carlson does.” Members will tear each other apart for being in “ego” and “lower frequencies.” They even get daily report cards for how much time they spent in lower energies.
Members are at times required to confess in front of the video livestreams. They have to publicly list things they did to dishonor “Mother God.”
The group also uses the constant threat that Carlson’s life is at risk to control people. “Humanity does want to kill mom,’ says Suarez. There are dark forces trying to “drain and kill her,” she claims. “Mom” being persecuted and threatened is a constantly recurring theme in their livestreams. Carlson claims that there have been 539 assassination attempts on her this lifetime.
“Amy has definitely had sex with many of her followers,” Brown said. He told me the names of several members whom she had sex with and described several instances that he was aware of. One was a female student who performed oral sex on Carlson. This surprised Brown because Carlson and her followers are homophobic. They believe being gay “is ego being resistant to God’s divine plan,” he told me.
During Brown’s time in the group, at least three people were kicked out merely because they were perceived to be in low energy. On one occasion a young woman was kicked out and dumped at a campground without a tent, her bags, or her possessions and left to fend for herself. Others are sent to live in a spot in the woods called “Desolation Row,” which is now a shoddy tent, as a means of punishment until they transform.
“Anyone who tries to fuck with us, we’ll kill you. We will fucking kill you because there’s no time left. And we’ve seen our mom suffer so much.” — Love Has Won Livestream
Left To Die in the Desert
On May 23rd, 2020 a man named Alex Whitten was found naked and dehydrated with cactus needles in his feet wandering through the desert north of Crestone. He appeared to be hallucinating. Three days earlier he had abandoned his wife and two children, flying to be with “Mother God” Amy Carlson. How he ended up almost dying in the elements is still somewhat of a mystery.
His wife Ariane told me it took just six weeks of Whitten watching Love Has Won videos for him to become brainwashed. “He’d leave the dinner table to watch the livestreams,” she said. “Twice a day he’d watch.” Whitten then had a “psychic surgery” over the phone. “I immediately noticed a darkness in him after that session,” Ariane said. “His eyes were just so dark after the sessions.”
Ariane and the family were shocked at Whitten’s sudden departure. He had no history of mental illness and neither of them had any interest in spirituality or religion. Whitten lived the stereotypical American dream she said: wife, two kids, six-figure job, and a nice home. They lived in Mississippi and Alabama before moving to Ohio.
What we do know is that Alex was seen in the Love Has Won daily livestream video on May 21st praising the group. “I’m eternally grateful to have found the mother,” he says while sitting innocently with his hands folded. “I’ve dropped everything in order to be here to honor Mother, the physical mother Jesus on earth.” Alex then pleads for people to join. “We need you all to get here. Come to mom, and help mom in all ways possible.”
Whitten told Ariene that the next morning he spent “removing the darkness” from leader Jason Castillo aka Father God. Castillo had told him that he could no longer handle it on his own and that Whitten needed to take it on. He then told Whitten, “you have three days.”
It was at this point his family believes he was drugged. “The police and doctors believed he was on something,” Ariane told me. He was hallucinating and delusional when found wandering naked in the desert “wounded by the elements.” He believed he was telepathically communicating with Carlson. It was a stark contrast to the day before.
At 3 pm that day Whitten’s mother got a call from him saying that he “was walking to the airport.” Given that the airport was three hours away this made no sense. The family was unable to reach Whitten after this but they were deeply concerned and on high alert.
The family knew something was very wrong when, that evening, on the Love Has Won livestream, the group spoke about “not liking Alex’s energy” Ariene said. They were laughing and said he was on the “wrong side of the mountain.” Core group member Kareem Jackson wrote in a comment in a livestream that they “were not Alex’s babysitter,” and were not there for “whores that desert God.”
Over the next 24 hours, an all-out rescue mission ensued. Organized by Whitten’s sister, wife, brother, and some helpful people who saw pleas for help online they were able to locate him. One kind stranger drove 1.5 hours and spent 7 hours sitting with Whitten under a bridge talking with him. The family also consulted with prominent cult expert Steven Hassan who advised them to not be hostile or confrontational to Whitten about his beliefs.
Still brainwashed, Whitten refused treatment when taken to the hospital because he said the cult would heal him. His family finally convinced him to stay in a hotel for the night with his brother where he slept a solid ten hours. The previous night he had spent wandering through the woods alone. The next day they drove home.
Ariene said Love Has Won lied about Whitten’s whereabouts when they reached out for information. “They told us he was doing well and was with family,” she said. His family told the group he wasn’t. Ariene told me the group then lied and told them they checked on Whitten when he was in front of the hospital but the hospital said they never came. “They were intentionally misleading us,” she said. “They didn’t want him found for some reason.”
Alex Whitten’s Wife Ariene Being Interviewed about the Cult
Ariane says Whitten is doing better in the weeks since he was found in the desert. He no longer listens to or follows Carlson or Love Has Won. But he is still wrestling with the very real feeling that he was on an important mission and doing something good. “We’re still pulling cactus needles out of his feet to this day,” Ariene said.
“Lucifer is Father God”
In Love Has Won’s origin story an Archangel named Jehovah separated from all of creation. “He wanted to be God without God.” After separating from unity consciousness he began taking over planets and created “dark species and the darker realms.” It was all love and light before this fallen angel Jehovah created separation.
Father God aka Jason Castillo was contracted to go down into the dark into all of the “lower planets” and “lower realms” to master them. “And his lower aspect is Lucifer,” Lauren Suarez states. “So surprise, Lucifer is Father God.” Meanwhile “Mother God” stayed in the light realm. And now for the first time in 19 billion years, the two have reunited on planet earth.
“They saved this planet for last because it is the heart of the universe and it is mom’s heart,” Suarez states. “This was the final planet where father gathered all the darkness onto this planet, and mom came down and she’s been incarnating.” This is supposedly Amy Carlson’s 534th lifetime on earth.
Jeremy Brown experienced the dark energetic side to the group and believes they use angel and ascension language to suck people in. One detractor even wrote that Love Has Won is a “cabal trap” for “lightworkers.” Brown said the group showed him how to connect with angels but that they were “false angels.”
“The moment I locked eyes with Amy the first time I knew something was really wrong,” Brown said. “All I felt was pure fear.” He continued. “Every time I’d lock eyes with her I could literally just feel her taking energy from me. She’s just a pure energy vampire.”
Ariene had told me about the mysterious darkness in her husband’s eyes after his psychic session. Brown said the same thing happened to him. “I got zapped through the phone and I lost control of my body,” he told me. “The woman told me my voice turned into a robot voice for a minute.” Brown continued. “They’re able to transmit this dark energy and entity attachments during these sessions.”
One of the first things they had Brown do was an “ego death ceremony” after he completed his spiritual sessions. “It’s essentially signing over your ego to them.” But he’s realized that it was much different than he originally thought. “Because she puts upfront that Father God’s lower self is Lucifer when you sign the ego death contract it’s like you consented to giving your ego up to Lucifer.” Between the sessions and the signing of the contract, he said he had actually consented to “being put under the spell.”
“There’s a tear in the firmament which makes an easier area for these dark energies and beings to come through Crestone,” Brown told me. An intuitive I checked with said something similar when she told me there was a “dark portal” over the town. For many years people have been talking about the “strange and fantastic” aspects of Crestone.
The ominous energy was so strong in Crestone that I abandoned my week-long Airbnb in the center of town that I had pre-paid for. I didn’t feel safe. I could feel a tangible sinister presence.
“Specifically at night you can feel the dark energy everywhere,” Brown told me. “Exactly,” I said. “I’ve never felt such a strong and evil energy before.”
As a spiritual mecca with more temples, stupas, Buddhist centers, and retreat spaces than anywhere in the country I thought the energy would be more welcoming. The intuitive explained, however, that it was for this very reason that these dark forces were able to thrive. “They feed off of the wounded people’s energy who come to heal,” she said.