Robert Shinn: Where is the Shekinah Church Founder Now?

While it’s true that social media has become quite an intrinsic part of our daily lives over the past decade or so, no one could’ve ever imagined it being connected to a cult in any manner. However, Netflix’s ‘Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult’ essentially explores the fact there can be people with unwavering greed for fame, money, as well as power in every industry. In fact, it carefully shines a light upon Robert Shinn as the pastor at Shekinah Church, founder of 7M Films talent management company, plus alleged cult leader with an appetite for control.

Robert Shinn is a Pastor and an Entrepreneur

Although not much regarding Robert’s early years or upbringing is known as of writing, we do know he’d established Shekinah Church in 1994 upon immigrating to Los Angeles from Toronto. The truth is this institution has always been billed as a small, tight-knit place for Christians to spread their religious message through peaceful study and outreach, yet it’s somehow invite-only. This means that outsiders can’t attend sermons or participate in any of the programs they offer unless individuals who are already sect members invite them upon obtaining permission.

That’s because as the alleged Man of God, pastor, plus sole individual responsible for everyone’s harmony with God, Robert alone has the authority to make decisions that truly affect them all. According to the aforementioned series, his sister Catherine Yi did help him a lot in the initial years, just to leave around the early 2000s after some former believers accused him of sexual assault. By this point, not only did they purportedly have a pattern of her taking people under her wings before moving them into one of their many owned properties, but she was also their spokesperson.

As for how this family came into the money to afford to provide for them, along with their own more than comfortable lifestyles, it has been indicated that Robert was practically a serial entrepreneur. In fact, following Shekinah, he’d gradually also launched a cafe, two flower shops, two mortgage firms, two real estate brokerages, and more, with church members being the primary employees. He thus got away with paying them minimum wages, per the Netflix original, after which he even got them to yield most of it back in the form of rent, tithes, church offerings, as well as donations to him for his role as Man of God, leaving them with almost nothing.

Moreover, according to former members, Robert was never keen on freedom of thought — he had followers pen every key opinion to senior members/mentors, and the latter guided them in life. It hence comes as no surprise these mentors alone supposedly had full access to all bank accounts, through which money was often transferred to the pastor, his church, or some business-related expense, meaning significant money always made its way back to him. Then came 2009 when former member Lydia Chung sued this leader for fraud and labor law violations, likely upon experiencing the aforecited aspects, yet a judge ultimately ruled against her.

Lydia had claimed Robert “exerted undue influence, mind control, coercive persuasion, oppression, and other intimidating tactics” to get her to give the church she once believed in $3.8 million. She also added that this was while she was being forced to do unpaid professional work six days a week, yet the pastor denied everything, and the presiding judge ended up ruling in his favor. This was followed by him continuing his ways for years while also trying to expand his entrepreneurial reach by stepping into the entertainment industry, only for it not to pan out despite his best efforts.

Therefore, once Robert realized the scope of social media after apparently watching his videographer son interact with dancers, he established 7M Films as a talent management organization. Per this firm’s website, they have amassed an online following of over 10 million for their clients since launching in 2021, with their roster including dancers, actors, models, plus musicians. They have not shared any other information regarding how many clients they have or how they represent them, and they strangely also don’t have an active social media presence of their own.

The only post on 7M Film’s official Instagram page is a statement they released once allegations of them being a cult directly connected with Shekinah Church came to light in 2022. As seen above, it reads, in part: “You do not have to be a member of the Shekinah Church to be represented by 7M, nor do you have to be represented by 7M to be a member of the Shekinah Church.” However, ‘Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult’ illustrates that the practices of 7M are identical to all of Robert’s other ventures over the years, meaning nearly all clients are church members.

This production even chronicles the way Robert has had clients/members abide by his sermons regarding not just heavenly bonds but also familial relations, money, sexual behavior, etc. We specify these particular elements because the reason he actually came into the limelight in recent years is his push for his followers to “die for their families” so as to cleanse them all. This means completely cutting off contact, driving many family members to raise public alarm till he had no choice but to go back on his word — though communication is limited, he/his church/his ventures still make back most of the money through management fees, tithes, plus donations, and he allegedly also sexually exploit the women.

Robert Shinn is Seemingly Still Thriving Today

It was in October 2022 when Robert filed a civil lawsuit against former church member Priscylla Leigh Elisha, along with four former 7M members, for extortion as well as defamation. He’d reportedly gotten wind they were planning to sue him already and were just gathering as much evidence as possible so as to ensure they had a solid case, so he decided to get ahead. This obviously resulted in them filing a cross-complaint, accusing him of fraud, forced labor, breach of fiduciary duty, failure to pay minimum wage, unjust enrichment, plus much, much more.

These former members claimed, “Shekinah is a cult operating under the guise of a religious institution… Robert refers to himself as ‘the Man of God’ and preaches… that without submitting to him and without Shekinah, their lives will be cursed. Robert required full physical and economic and control [sic] over Shekinah members.” It further includes how the mentors “did his bidding, including collecting tithes from other members, moving money from members’ bank accounts, instructing members where to live, and instructing members on how to spend nearly every waking moment of their time.” The lawsuit then asserts they even interfered with healthcare and that although 7M is a separate entity, it is connected to Shekinah.

Coming to Robert’s current standing, since this civil case isn’t scheduled to go to trial until 2025 and there has never been any official criminal charge against him, he remains a completely free man. The truth is at least three women have tried to file sexual assault cases against him, including Priscylla Leigh Elisha as well as former 7M dancer Kylie Douglas, yet no action has been taken as of writing. Therefore, today, Santa Ana resident Robert continues to serve as the pastor/Man of God at Shekinah Chuch and the CEO of 7M Films, all the while being a family man – he’s a married father of two.

Read More: Miranda Derrick: Where is the 7M Films’ Influencer Now?