Ann Barnhardt exposes the real harm of the Society for Creative Anachronism:
The real harm of the SCA is more subtle than simply sexual abuse. It lures people in, as you say, who feel lonely and nerdy, who love books and history. One is encouraged to work and work for “the Dream,” whatever that is (“the dream” means living full-time in SCA character/camp. -AB), to work one’s fingers to the bone in the faint hope that one of the “Peers,” that is, fake nobility, will take notice and invite you to join their household. Most of these households are not led by sexual predators, but some are what are called “polyamorous,” that is, swingers. We were never invited to join the second group because we made it clear we weren’t interested, but one finally notices that the Christian members are never the “inner circle,” and seldom win the top awards. The real leaders and people in the know are very secretive, so we usually only hear about things second and third hand.
You realize that only people with no real family to speak of are in the inner circle; that seems to be a requirement, even more that being a swinger. Nobody who is in the elite group, and believe me, that is how they think of themselves, has any ties to family. Many people in the SCA report (this I have heard personally many times) that they were sexually abused as children, and they are the ones who will tell anyone who will listen that the SCA is their “real family.” That right there ought to be a red flag for a cult, but the SCA avoids that by not barring anyone from leaving. It is a clever cult, which operates by carrot dangling. I suppose most of us who join are high-IQ geeks who never fit in, so this works really well for a very long time for both progressive sorts and more conservative….
The sad thing is that it is the conservative members who would be most likely to bring children and family into the SCA, not realizing what they are getting into. Most members, even members for years, know very little about all this. I myself had no idea that Walter Breen (the husband of Marion Zimmer Bradley, who founded the SCA) was a convicted pedophile who spent years in prison until I read their daughter’s harrowing account.
The fact that this is a society of low-status losers who literally want to return to pre-civilized pagan non-civilization should have been the first clue that it was not a place for civilized Christians or their children.