'Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult' on Netflix: Dark side of church leader behind viral dance videos

Former Shekinah Church, 7M talent management members detail abuse by Robert Shinn

Behind the dance videos Miranda Wilking, now Miranda Derrick, posts to millions of followers on TikTok and Instagram, there's a dark tale of a Shekinah Church-affiliated talent management company 7M, founded by a Korean pastor Robert Shinn. Exposing sexual assault, abuse, financial fraud and coercion, the Netflix docuseries Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult, directed by Derek Doneen, provides a shocking look at the extent of the allegations against Shinn.

Back in 2022, Miranda's sister Melanie Wilking, and their parents, Kelly and Dean, caused a wave after posting a video online stating that 7M is a cult. Miranda promptly denied the allegation, calling the tension a personal family issue.

(L to R) Melanie Wilking and Miranda Derrick in Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (Netflix)
(L to R) Melanie Wilking and Miranda Derrick in Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (Netflix)

The Wilking family is our introduction into the story, showing how inseparable Miranda and Melanie were growing up, until Miranda was introduced to Shinn with her then boyfriend, now husband, James Derrick (who goes by BDash).

Starting with dinner invitations where Shinn would read the bible, to invite-only Shekinah Church services, Dancing for the Devil reveals that Shinn wanted to get into entertainment. His idea was to manage TikTok dancers, essentially taking advantage of these young performers who are trying to make it big, eventually getting lucrative brand deals as they all make more dance videos together.

Part of Shinn's teachings, outlined by previous members of 7M and the Shekinah Church, is that these individuals have to "die to" their families and friends, cutting off communication and contact, as a way to ensure that they too will go to heaven.

But when Kelly, Dean and Melanie's video went up online, with articles being written about the 7M and Shekinah Church cult allegations, Shinn shifted his approach. Members were no longer supposed to completely cut contact with their family and friends who were non-members, just maybe not reveal too much of their lives.

Priscylla Lee and Melanie Lee in Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (Netflix)
Priscylla Lee and Melanie Lee in Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (Netflix)

While Wilking family story sets us off on this series, it's the story of two other sisters, Melanie Lee and Priscylla Lee, who joined the Shekinah Church long before 7M came along, that's particularly chilling.

Priscylla acted as her sister's parent when they were growing up, after their dad left their family when they lived in Korea. The sister moved to California with their mom, an alcoholic with a gambling problem, who often left the girls completely alone.

Melanie Lee was the first one to join the Shekinah Church, giving her a sense of community, eventually being taken in by Shinn's sister, and urged Priscylla to join.

In a very classic cult-like activity, Shinn ended up moving more members to the same apartment complex, then they moved to different homes where members would be assigned a roommate with meals provided, having to be up at 5:00 a.m. to be at church each day.

Each person also had a "mentor" who was their link to Shinn. With the belief that every thought they had was either from God or the devil, they had to share all their thoughts with their mentor.

From there, Shinn opened a number of businesses, with Dancing for the Devil exposing the financial fraud that former members say occurred with their pay. Priscylla reveals she had an allowance of $80 every two weeks.

As the docuseries gets to the moment when the Lee sisters recall seeing the first group of women confront Shinn about sexual abuse, that leads to the moment that first Melanie Lee, then Priscylla, left Shekinah Church.

What is really emphasized in the docuseries is the extensive trauma they faced and how many years it takes to heal in any capacity.

Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (Netflix)
Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (Netflix)

What has become unfortunately a common tale is that there are significant barriers to investigate someone like Shinn.

We see former 7M and Shekinah Church members, and family members of people still in the group, going to the police, but repeatedly hearing that they need more information, specifically more women have to come forward about the sexual assault and abuse they experienced. Gathering more evidence, we see not much happen in terms of ramifications for Shinn.

No criminal charges have been brought against Shinn, who has denied previous allegations of sexual abuse of any Shekinah Church or 7M members, but a civil lawsuit is "ongoing," with the case set to go to trial next year.

As for Miranda, she is in contact with her family, but as her sister suggests, it's all for show to post on social media and she's still very involved with Shinn's 7M and Shekinah Church.

"God says you cannot be defeated," we hear Shinn say in a voiceover at the end of the docuseries. "Anyone who speaks against me are wrong. I cannot be defeated."

We'll have to wait until 2025 to find out if that is in fact true.