Bethany Joy Lenz captured the hearts of fans while portraying Haley James Scott on One Tree Hill. However, her life off screen was very different, and she revealed she was a member of a cult during her time on the show.

Was Bethany Joy Lenz In a Cult?

The actress – who goes by her middle name Joy – first mentioned her past involvement in a cult during a July episode of the One Tree Hill rewatch podcast, “Drama Queens,” which she cohosts with former costars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton Morgan.

She continued to open up about the experience during an August 2023 interview. Joy explained she became involved in the cult in her early 20s, which she said was “a year or two” after the WB-turned-CW show began in 2003. The Florida native said that she didn’t escape the organization until “shortly after” the teen drama ended in 2012.

What Cult Was Bethany Joy Lenz a Member of?

She refused to name the cult, though said it was a “bible-based” group. After noting that she grew up in a Christian household, she explained it was common for her to attend “Wednesday night bible studies.” The Guiding Light actress said she would find new bible studies to attend as she moved to new cities and states to pursue acting.

“In a lot of ways, One Tree Hill saved my life, because I was there nine months out of the year in North Carolina,” she explained. “I had a lot of flying back and forth, a lot of people visiting and things like that, but my life was really built in North Carolina. And I think that spatial separation made a big difference when it was time for me to wake up.”

Joy added that she wasn’t “trying to make it a big deal,” though said rewatching the show for the podcast inspired her to share her experience.

“I was beginning to feel like I was hiding something because it was such an integral part of my personal journey while I was on One Tree Hill,” she said during the interview. “As we’re just talking about all the behind-the-scenes [moments], we keep talking about all the times everybody was hanging out. I keep saying, ‘Wish I had been there.’ Eventually, it started to feel like, ‘Why don’t you just be honest, Joy?’”

Did the Cast of ‘One Tree Hill’ Try to Help Bethany Joy Lenz?

The mother of one – who shares daughter Maria with her ex-husband, Michael Galeotti – said her One Tree Hill costars helped her escape the cult.

Was Bethany Joy Lenz In a Cult? The ‘One Tree Hill’ Alum Recalls Experience With ‘Bible-Based’ Group
Rob Latour/Shutterstock

“For a while, they were all trying to save me and rescue me, which is lovely and so amazing to be cared about in that way. But I was very stubborn,” Joy recalled. “I was really committed to what I believed were the best choices I could make.”

She noted that the “nature” of her cult was “isolation” and they make members “distrust everyone around you so that the only people you trust are, first and foremost, the leadership and then, people within the group if the leadership approves of them.”

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