Family desperate for return of relative who joined 7M, ‘brainwashing cult’ behind viral TikTok dancing videos

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A popular true-crime docuseries about a suspected TikTok cult ended with a family’s seemingly reluctant acceptance that they lost their loved one.

One of the last scenes of “Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult” shows Miranda (Wilking) Derrick’s parents on the floor video-chatting with their daughter, grandchild and son-in-law, with the understanding no one mentions the Los Angeles church and its leader, who’s accused of running a cult of “brainwashed” dancers. 

Miranda’s sister, Melanie Wilking, said she’s accepted that her wedding dream with her sister as her maid of honor won’t happen.

It’s like the stormy seas have settled, but there’s still a dangerous undercurrent beneath the surface that’s swallowing more victims, cult expert Dr. Steven Hassan warned.

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Melanie Wilking (center) is flanked by her parents in a 2022 Instagram live video desperately appealing to get her sister Miranda Wilking’s attention to come home.  (Melanie Wilking/Instagram)

On paper, Robert Shinn is the pastor of a Los Angeles Shekinah Church who runs a dance production company that Miranda and her husband James Derrick (among others) work for. 

But former members said in court filings that Shinn is a “self-proclaimed man of god” living a lavish life on the backs of brainwashed TikTok dancers who are sexually abused and extorted. 

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After the release of Netflix’s “Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult,” 7M Films said in a statement on Instagram that the docuseries was “a slanderous work of fiction, born from a failed extortion attempt.”

It was posted on June 4, and it’s still the only post on the account. The company didn’t return Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

7M Films only public response to the Netflix documentary accusing the head of the company, Robert Shinn, and 7M of being a cult. It's the only post on the company's Instagram.

7M Films’ response to the Netflix documentary accusing the head of the company, Robert Shinn, and 7M of being a cult is the only post on the company’s Instagram. (7m.films/Instagram)

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Hassan watched the three-part series, and said Shinn and 7M have the traits of a rapidly growing “brainwashing cult” that’s disguised as a religious movement called “New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR).

“What characterizes them differently from mainstream Christian evangelicals is that the leaders claim to be an apostle or a prophet, who gets direct revelations from God,” Hassan told Fox News Digital. 

“These cult leaders, in my opinion, say God speaks directly to them, and they typically speak in tongues and claim to cast out demons and claim to do faith healings.”

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All of these characteristics were described by former members who were interviewed in the documentary, as well as in court filings obtained and reviewed by Fox News Digital. 

“In operating his ‘church,’ Robert (Shinn) preached that without him (former members who sued him) and other members of Shekinah would be cursed,” according to a lawsuit against Shinn, 7M and several others.

He convinced his members — and former members — that if they didn’t “fully submit to him, their lives and their families’ lives would be destroyed, and they would go to hell,” and this was their “last chance” to get to heaven “by rapture,” the legal action alleges.

Miranda (Wilking) Derrick gives her statement on June 4 in an Instagram video.

Miranda (Wilking) Derrick gives her statement on June 4 in an Instagram video. (itsmirandaderrick/Instagram)

These allegations were included in the third amended complaint filed in May as the latest volley in a two-year tit-for-tat legal bout between Shinn and seven former members of his church.

Shinn fired the first shot with defamation and trade libel allegations in 2022, and the former members counter-sued with 52 allegations, including fraud, human trafficking, forced labor, sexual assault and unjust enrichment, that they claim went on for almost 20 years. 

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Shinn argued he had First Amendment protection as a religious organization in a failed attempt to toss out the lawsuit. 

The feuding sides are on a collision course, with a trial date scheduled for July 5, 2025. 

“In operating his ‘church,’ Robert (Shinn) preached that without him … members of Shekinah would be cursed … (The) Shekinah was a member’s last chance into heaven by rapture.”

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Shimm and Miranda (Wilking) Derrick’s responses 

Although Shinn hasn’t publicly responded, he denied the allegations in court documents. His company’s June 4 statement on Instagram threatened to “pursue all legal remedies to stop the spread of salacious lies.”

Shinn’s lawyers didn’t immediately return Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

Miranda, who was featured prominently in the Netflix docuseries, shared a lengthy Instagram message (below) the same day 7M Films issued its statement.

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“I’m not a victim,” she said, and stressed she’s not in any harm. She called the documentary a “public attack” that was “one-sided.”

“I love my Mom, Dad and Melanie, and they will forever be a part of my life. The truth is, we just don’t see eye to eye at this time,” Miranda said. 

“I gave my life to Jesus Christ in 2020 and asked my family for some space in the very beginning to collect my thoughts and process my new walk I wanted to take with God.”

Miranda (Wilking) Derrick's Instagram story posted on June 4 in response to the Netflix docuseries.

Miranda (Wilking) Derrick’s Instagram story, posted on June 4 in response to the Netflix docuseries. (itsmirandaderrick/Instagram)

Miranda (Wilking) Derrick's Instagram story posted on June 4 in response to the Netflix docuseries.

Miranda (Wilking) Derrick’s Instagram story, posted on June 4 in response to the Netflix docuseries. (itsmirandaderrick/Instagram)

Miranda went on to say she’s been meeting with her family “to make amends,” which was alluded to in the docuseries, but her portrayal “created a further challenge” between her and her family.

“No one likes to be portrayed as their brainwashed/not in control of her own life/shell of herself/human trafficked daughter/sister when that just isn’t the truth,” she said.

There’s a bigger threat

Shinn, the Wilking family and the Shekinah Church are one case of what Hassan believes is part of the NAR.

Modern teachings include the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” which calls on followers to retake the seven “mountains” of cultural influence: religion, family, government, education, media, arts/entertainment and business. 

The “Seven Mountain Mandate” is often referred to as “7M” for short in research papers and scholarly articles. 

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Justin Poythress, a pastor of All Saints Church in Boise, Idaho, wrote a critique about the “Seven Mountain Mandate” in a July 2023 blog post. 

“On one level, the spheres of influence the 7M mandate describes are a good summary of institutions that shape our culture,” Poyrthress wrote. “Anyone with strong convictions, whether conservative, liberal, Muslim, Jewish, or secular, naturally wants his values to be adopted and heralded on all seven ‘mountains.’

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“But the 7M mandate goes further…. The perspective is ultimately built on a dual misunderstanding of Scripture and of Christ’s purposes in the world.”

Its popularity has grown from 20 percent of American adults and 30 percent of American Christian adults in March 2023 to 41 percent by January 2024, according to a May scholarly poll by Deninson University Professor Paul Djupe. 

“New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR) has grown in popularity from 20 percent of American adults and 30 percent of American Christian adults in March 2023 to 41 percent by January 2024, according to a May scholarly poll by Deninson University Professor Paul Djupe. (Paul A. Djupe, Deninson University/Religion in Public)

Is there a criminal investigation?

The short answer is no. 

The Attorney General’s Office said there are no written complaints about 7M or Shinn with the office, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to questions. 

Fox News Digital filed public records requests with the Los Angeles Police Department. 

There is an online petition that has collected over 16,100 signatures imploring law enforcement to investigate and bring criminal charges against Shinn. 

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“It is time for justice,” the online petition says. “We cannot allow someone who preys on vulnerable individuals under the guise of religion to continue these heinous acts without consequence.

“Sign this petition to demand that law enforcement in Los Angeles, CA & Pacoima, CA to take immediate action to open an investigation for Robert Shinn and his crimes.”

TikTok did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

This post was originally published on Fox News

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