My first book began with a TEDx talk in Stockholm

After I got out of Children of God, I never mentioned to anyone that I had been in a cult for over two-thirds of my life. That part of my life I had packed away. I was afraid that people would look down on me if they knew the truth. Instead, I said I had been part of a charity organization.

When people said they admired me for my self-sacrifice and commitment to helping others, I couldn't look them in the eye. I walked around wearing a mask and I felt like a fraud and a hypocrite.

After eight years, I finally got to a point where I no longer wanted to live a lie. I would rather the truth come out than continue to hide, even if others would hate me or laugh at me.

I did that in my TEDx talk in Stockholm in November of 2019. There, for the first time, I let the world know that I had been a member of a cult.

An editor from Harper Collins publishing house was also in the audience. After the speech, she came up to me and convinced me that I should write a book about my story.

The book was published in Swedish two years later, in November 2021.


"A well-written and interesting insight into the sect God's children from Lillethun's perspective. He is a skilled writer who portrays his different life in an entertaining way." Daniel Gustavsson, BTJ-häftet.

"An honest, straightforward and captivating story from reality....The book feels like sitting and listening to him tell his story. It was so engaging that it was a quick read." Kulturbloggen

"... a vulnerable insight into one of the greatest cults of modern times." Vildisbokvra


Media coverage


Outwardly, the Children of God pretended to be a Christian volunteer organization, but beneath the surface there was sexual abuse and demands for total obedience.

In the book, Håvard Lillethun tells about the brainwashing he experienced, his years in the cult, and the way back to a normal life.

In that process I learned that we often think too low of ourselves. We identify with the caterpillar when we are actually butterflies.

With the book, I want to convey that nothing is impossible. It is never too late to create a new life.


When Håvard today thinks back on his life in the cult, what makes him the most downcast is the fact that he let his children grow up in the cult, with the cult's narrow worldview and without formal education.

I forgot how bad the cult really was and only remembered the good. Writing the book forced me to go back and relive the past, and for the first time I could see my past life more as an objective observer than a brainwashed member.

TV & Radio

Go'kväll, RixFM and Radio Varan

Håvard Lillethun was drawn into the cult  the Children of God and has written the book "Instängd, mina år i sekten Gods Barn" (Trappen, my years in the cult the Children of God.) It is a story about life in the cult and what followed, sex, violence, and brainwashing, but it is also a story about how he was freed from the cult, and about rebuilding himself from the ground up afterwards.


Mellan Himmel och Jord og Sektpodden

Our guest is Håvard Lillethun, who was part of the cult the Children of God for 40 years and has recently come out with the book Instängd, mina år i secten Gods Barn och hur jag blev fri. Together with presenter Soraya Hasjim, he talks about his time in the movement and what enticed him to join.



Ever since my first book came out, in Swedish, I have wanted to get it published in Norway as well.

I am very happy that I now have the opportunity to work with a Norwegian publisher and a fantastic team to publish a new Norwegian book with new thoughts and reflections.

Writing the book saved my life

In order for the book to be an open and honest picture of my life, I had to go back in time and relive details of my years in the cult, details I would rather forget. It is one of the most demanding things I have done in my entire life. But that process was necessary for me to see the cult for what it was, and finally be free from the cult's influence on my life. The whole process has given me a peace I find difficult to explain. I have more confidence and belief in myself. Now I'm looking forward to the rest of my life.