I lost my sister to sinister 7M TikTok ‘cult’ that lures in viral stars & vows to ‘cure’ sins…but hides sickening abuse


HUGGING sister Miranda for the first time in over a year, Melanie Wilking was shocked by her cold response and the “glazed” eyes she got in return.

The talented pair  – who found fame as dancers on TikTok – had been inseparable before Miranda was sucked into a mysterious religious group which Melanie claims isolated her from her family and took over 70 per cent of her online earnings.

Melanie and Miranda Wilking built a huge following on TikTok


Melanie and Miranda Wilking built a huge following on TikTokCredit: Instagram
Shekinah Church founder Robert Shinn is accused of founding a cult


Shekinah Church founder Robert Shinn is accused of founding a cultCredit: Coleman-Rayner for The US Sun
The £2.5m  mansion thought to be the home of Robert Shinn


The £2.5m mansion thought to be the home of Robert ShinnCredit: Instagram

And worse was to follow when Pastor Robert Shinn – the self-styled “Man of God” behind the Shekinah Church in Los Angeles – was accused of sexual abuse by many of the female members.

Melanie and her family believe 7M, the company Shinn set up to ‘manage’ the careers of up and coming TikTok stars – is actually a ‘cult’, and they have been fighting to get Melanie out of Shinn’s clutches since she joined in Autumn 2020.

In a new Netflix documentary, Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult, Melanie reveals the shocking encounter with her sister, after a dance show, which left her devastated.

“I hugged her afterwards and it was like hugging a wall,” she recalls. 

“She was just stiff. I told her she looked great and was doing so well but she was just cold. She had changed completely. I felt like she was half of me that was just gone.”

‘Curing’ sins

“Miranda and I knew that we always wanted dance to be a part of our lives,” says Melanie, who had a happy childhood in Detroit, Michigan, with loving and supportive parents, Kelly and Dean.

“Growing up, Miranda was incredibly talented and creative and, as her little sister, that was something I wanted to do. I just wanted to be like her.”

The girls took part in dance competitions, performing together and when Miranda moved to California to pursue her dream, Melanie later joined her, auditioning, touring and doing music videos.

As social media grew, the girls became popular online, particularly when TikTok was launched and they created the Wilking Sisters brand, posting dance videos and fun blogs with them chatting, having fun in each other’s company and even doing DIY together.

“When we got a manager and saw the money that was to be made in this industry, there was no looking back,” says Melanie.

The online dance community in California was a tight one and Miranda started dating the talented James Derrick, known online as BDash. Through another dancer, named Isaiah, James was introduced to his pastor father, Robert Shinn.

The daughter of cult founder Susan Alamo reveals how mum met sick stepdad Tony before starting sect
The sisters with mum Kelly and dad Dean


The sisters with mum Kelly and dad DeanCredit: Instagram
The girls were close before Miranda joined the church


The girls were close before Miranda joined the churchCredit: Instagram

“James has always been very religious and Robert became very involved with his life,” says Melanie. “Miranda naturally joined this church so that she could be with James.”

Worried by her sister spending more and more time at the home of Pastor Robert Shinn as their once inseparable relationship was unravelling, Melanie Wilking decided to find out just what was going on.

 “I would talk to Miranda at the end of the day and she would say she had been at the house with James [her boyfriend], having dinner and reading the Bible,” says Melanie.

“We didn’t grow up very religious and Miranda and I had always done everything together and I thought, ‘Well, if you are going to be there all the time, let me check it out.’”

In Autumn 2020, with Miranda already fully committed to the church, Melanie went to Shinn’s house for dinner.

“Robert sat at the head of a long table and after we had dinner he asked me if I would consider myself a sinner. I said, ‘I don’t think so,’ and he replied, ‘What if I told you that you had already sinned a thousand times today?’ 

“I had no idea what to say. Then he said that if I died right now I would go to hell but that he would help me. The next thing, we all sat in a circle holding hands with Robert seated in the middle, and he put his hand on my head and everyone was kind of speaking in tongues.

«Then he said I was saved. I thought it was weird but my sister and all these other dancers I looked up to were there, so I thought, okay, maybe this is a thing.”

Melanie started to join the others in attending the pastor’s services at the Shekinah Church in Los Angeles. But she broke away after Robert’s daughter, Kloe, called her one day when she was unable to attend his sermon because she was dropping off a friend at the airport.

“Kloe said, ‘I have just spoken to the pastor and he really needs you to hear his words today. What are the chances that you can get an Uber to the airport for your friend and you come here right now?’ 

“I thought it was really weird to put that pressure on me and I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’ That was when I made up my mind that I was never going back. This was not for me.”

However, that decision, along with Miranda’s to stay with the church, tore the Wilking family apart. Miranda cut off all ties, causing suffering and heartbreak which exists to this day, as accusations of sexual abuse and brainwashing started to emerge.

Shinn has been accused of brainwashing and assault


Shinn has been accused of brainwashing and assaultCredit: Coleman-Rayner for The US Sun
Shinn hosted dinners for potential church members


Shinn hosted dinners for potential church membersCredit: Netflix

Financial and sexual abuse

As more dancers began to attend his church sermons, Shinn listened to James talking about the difficulty promoting dance videos and suddenly announced, “You know what? I’m going to start a management company and I’m going to call it 7M.”

Shinn’s promise to make them rich was to lure many of the young dancers into his ever tightening grip on their lives. 

They were given rooms in one of his houses that they paid rent for, complete with studios and rehearsal rooms. The videos attracted more attention and landed some of them lucrative advertising deals. But former followers claim they never saw any riches.

We all sat in a circle holding hands with Robert seated in the middle, he put his hand on my head and everyone was kind of speaking in tongues

Melanie Wilking

According to the documentary, a minimal salary was paid into their accounts and then withdrawals would be taken for rent, 20 per cent management fee to 7M and at least 30 per cent to various aspects of the Shekinah Church, including to the Man of God – Robert Shinn. 

This could amount to 70 per cent deductions in a salary. Former member, Korean-born Pryscilla Lee, claims, “They make it look like you are paying separate entities but it is all going to Robert.”

Darker claims about Robert Shinn are also made by others, including Korean-born sisters, Melanie and Pryscilla Lee. 

“One day in 2008 I showed up for church and Robert was in the pulpit when half a dozen girls, including his sister, Catherine, came barging in, pointed at him and shouted, ‘You sexually assaulted me!’” Melanie Lee claims in the Netflix doc. 

“Robert had been soliciting sexual favours from different women.

“Catherine said, ‘You need to pay for this. You are not the ‘Man of God,’ and he asked for everyone’s forgiveness, saying he is also human and struggles with temptations. Many of the girls in the congregation left but others stayed.”

There came further allegations of him demanding massages from women while he was naked, encouraging them to move their hands closer to his groin until it ended with sexual gratification.

“He would just show up in my room whenever he wanted and did whatever he wanted to do,” Pryscilla claims. “And his wife, Hannah, came in one day and beat me.”

After leaving the order, the Lee sisters began collating illegal financial transactions made by him in order to bring a lawsuit.

Sisters Pryscilla and Melanie are former members


Sisters Pryscilla and Melanie are former membersCredit: Netflix
Pryscilla told the documentary she was abused by Shinn


Pryscilla told the documentary she was abused by ShinnCredit: Netflix
TikTok dancers willingly joined the church


TikTok dancers willingly joined the churchCredit: Netflix


As Miranda became increasingly distanced from her family, the girls’ beloved grandfather passed away in January 2021.

“Thirty minutes before we were leaving for the airport to go to his funeral, Miranda rang to say she had Covid and couldn’t come,” says Melanie. “It was so strange. I said, ‘This has nothing to do with Covid, does it?’ and she just started bawling.”

Subsequent messages to Miranda and James went unanswered, as she cut off all contact.

Increasingly worried, Kelly and Dean managed to track her down in California and spoke briefly to her.

“She kept saying she would have to ask if she could come to the funeral,” says Dean. “When we asked who she had to get permission from, she said, ‘Somebody closer to God than you.’ And that triggered in my head, “She’s gone.”’

 But the family were determined to get their daughter back.

After Melanie’s heartbreaking encounter at the dance show in December 2021, Kelly and Dean also managed to meet her when they told her that they had something important to say.

“Miranda came walking up, looking nasty and I sat down with her and asked if everything was okay and she just asked me what I had to say,” says Kelly.

“I started to ask her if she had any problems that she wanted to talk to us about… and she got up and said, ‘Is that it? I’ve got to go,’ and she walked out. Her eyes were glazed over. I felt like she didn’t love us anymore.”

But former church member Kylie Douglas claims Miranda was «brainwashed».

«I know, from being here with her, she will cry sometimes because of how much she misses her family and would say to me, ‘I do want to see them but Robert is saying it’s not a good idea’,» she tells the documentary.

«Miranda was upset and did miss them and love them but she’s being brainwashed.»

Kylie says she would hear Miranda crying


Kylie says she would hear Miranda cryingCredit: Netflix
Kelly talks to Melanie Lee


Kelly talks to Melanie LeeCredit: Netflix

‘Controlled’ contact

Kelly reached out to other parents who were experiencing the same trauma of losing contact with their children and the family posted a video online in February 2022 that rattled Robert Shinn. 

They publicly announced that it was Miranda’s birthday but they say they were not allowed to contact her because his organisation had forbidden it.

The dancers at Shekinah/7M also saw the video and began to quietly question whether they were being controlled. They knew that Robert had told them to cut their families out of their lives so that they could ‘save’ them and they could go to Heaven.

Reponse from Robert Shinn

Robert and Hannah Shinn did not respond to requests for comment.

A civil case against Shinn, brought by several dancers, is set to go to trial in 2025.

Robert and his co-defendants deny the claims against them.

No criminal charges have been brought against Shinn. He has previously denied sexually abusing any member of Shekinar or client of 7M.

Robert told them Miranda left of her own choice and that her parents were wrong. He allegedly got them all to sign NDAs but, by now, several people were coming forward with claims about Robert and the church, saying it was a ‘cult.’

While many left, Miranda stayed and continued posting dance videos online along with messages, seemingly relaxed and happy, denying she was in a cult. 

When other parents started turning up at Robert’s home, asking to see their child, he told they must see their families occasionally and to cut them off ‘undercover’ without them realising it.

 “All of a sudden, we get a phone call from Miranda saying she would like to meet with us, tomorrow,” says Kelly.

“We were trying to say things to her about what we were hearing about the pastor and she said that if we are always going to be talking about this then she didn’t want to meet with us anymore. 

“So we made a promise not to talk about it and we haven’t talked about it with her since.»

Melanie adds: “Now, we see her from time to time but I think it’s all for show. It’s just so she can take a video and put it online and then the public is happy and so is Robert. 

“I have had comments online from people saying how nice it is to see Miranda liking my posts again. But it’s not even close to the relationship we had before. I wouldn’t even call it a relationship. Any encounter we’ve had with her is so superficial.”

In the meantime, the Wilking family say they are determined to bring a criminal case for sexual assault and abuse.

They have encouraged several women to give statements to police but he has denied all charges and no arrest has been made and he continues to run his church and management company.

Robert and Hannah Shinn did not respond to requests for comment.

A civil case against Shinn, brought by several dancers, is set to go to trial in 2025.

Robert and his co-defendants deny the claims against them.

No criminal charges have been brought against Shinn. He has previously denied sexually abusing any member of Shekinar or client of 7M.

“My sister will not come back unless Robert is put behind bars,” says Melanie.

“I miss my sister so much. I still love her but it just feels so different, like it was Miranda and I together on this journey and now I’m alone.”

Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult is released on Netflix on May 29.

How to stay safe from cults

  • Cope with stress? When stress is getting the best of us, we are more likely to be “seduced” by someone selling “happiness.” If you are having difficulty coping, seek help from reputable, trustworthy persons.
  • NEVER be afraid to question.
  • ALWAYS be wary of anyone who tries to discourage or prevent you from questioning.
  • Learn to recognize common cult recruitment tactics and situations.
  • Be wary of:
  • People who are excessively or inappropriately friendly. Genuine friendships take time to build.
  • People with simplistic answers or solutions to complex world problems.
  • People with invitations to free meals, lectures, and workshops.
  • People who pressure you to do something you don’t really want to do. Don’t be afraid to say “no!”
  • People who are vague or evasive. If they are hiding something, it’s usually because they don’t want you to know!
  • People who claim to be “just like you.” This is often a device aimed at disarming your vigilance.
  • People who confidently claim that they can help you solve your problems, especially when they know little about you.
  • People who make grand claims about “saving mankind,” “achieving enlightenment,” or “following the road to happiness.” If their claims seem too good to be true, they probably are!
  • People who promise quick solutions to difficult life problems.
  • People who claim they or their group is “really special.” Arrogance is much more common than genuine superiority.
  • INFO from International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)

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