A recently resurfaced video shows Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, discussing the struggles she faced after leaving the Lifespring cult to a group of former members in 1986.
Thomas has been slammed recently for reportedly urging former President Donald Trump‘s chief of staff Mark Meadows to fight against President Joe Biden’s victory in the election. Text messages to Meadows leading up to January 6, 2021, show Thomas referencing several conspiracy theories pushed by QAnon, the far-right political movement.
The video was posted by Steven Hassan, an expert and author of several books regarding cults. In the tweet, he writes, “I knew Ginni Thomas. Ginni Thomas was in a cult (the large group awareness training cult, Lifespring).”
I knew Ginni Thomas. Ginni Thomas was in a cult (the large group awareness training cult, Lifespring). Here she is in 1989 speaking at an event I hosted for former members. Until today, almost NO one has seen this video. pic.twitter.com/qMX4fKboxg— Steven Hassan, PhD (@CultExpert) March 31, 2022
The event in which Thomas speaks, Hassan clarified in a separate tweet, took place in 1986 and not 1989 as he initially stated.
In the video, a woman identified as Ginni Thomas says, “When you come away from a cult, you have to find a balance in your life as far as getting involved in fighting the cult or exposing it. And, kind of, the other angle is getting a sense of yourself, and what was it that made you get into that group and what open questions are there that still need to be answered.”
“I want to expose Lifespring, I want to keep other people from going through that experience, but I also don’t want to go overboard in that regard so that I can reconnect with my own needs in a spiritual way, which I still haven’t done,” Thomas said.
She added that she still had questions about spirituality that she was still trying to answer, telling the audience, “All those things that got me to Lifespring are still there, and I guess I struggle with not going overboard and fighting a cult, but I know that’s important too.”
Hassan further tweeted that “Sadly, 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 overly susceptible and went from one cult to another (The Cult of Trump).”
Sadly, 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 overly susceptible and went from one cult to another (The Cult of Trump).— Steven Hassan, PhD (@CultExpert) March 31, 2022
The Lifespring training group was founded in 1974 by John Hanley, Sr., and the program, according to an archived summary of the Lifespring‘s website, said that “Lifespring played a major role in spearheading one of the most successful and important human development movements in history.”
The archive went on to say that “Lifespring trainings led to improvements in participants’ ‘self-confidence, self-esteem, lowered job stress, a heightened sense of control in life, and a more positive and pleasurable range of events and experiences in their lives.'”
However, a report from Business Insider states that many people who participated in any of Lifespring’s training were coerced using emotional and psychological “cult-like tactics.”
Thomas reportedly joined Lifespring in the early 1980s and was a member there for several years. In a 1987 article from the Washington Post, Thomas said, “I had intellectually and emotionally gotten myself so wrapped up with this group that I was moving away from my family and friends and the people I work with. My best friend came to visit me and I was preaching at her, using that tough attitude they teach you.”