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:: May 10, 2003 ::
Chicago Jews protest pseudo-seders

The controversy surrounding an Easter article run within the Chicago Tribune has spilled over into Christianity Today.

It was reported that more than 250 Chicago churches held Passover dinners called seders this year.

However, some of these "seders" were apparently based upon rather questionable and self-serving interpretations, concocted by groups such as the controversial fundamentalist Christian missionary organization called "Jews for Jesus" (JFJ).

An ordained Baptist minister who once worked for the American Board of Missions to the Jews founded JFJ, which is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Missionaries from JFJ have a traveling road show titled "Christ in the Passover," which passed through Chicago. This program often serves as a rather viable vehicle for fund-raising.

Basically, the theme of this JFJ program is to present the Passover ritual observance superimposed with alleged prophetic references to Jesus. The actual meaning and historical significance of the traditional seder is thus distorted and/or negated.

After the Tribune ran the report about these pseudo-seders Jews in Chicago protested that their holiday was being misrepresented in the paper. The staff writer responsible for the report admitted to some religious bias.

"Misinformation and outright falsehoods, said one Jewish reader. And added that the piece did "great harm to the cause of interfaith understanding,"

Rabbi Ira Youdovin, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis said, "Fundamentalists [who] seek to co-opt an ancient Jewish ritual…appreciate Jews not for what they are…but for this caricatured identity as proto-Christians. This is highly offensive to Jews."

Another rabbi noted, "We have problems with Christians transforming our symbols and stories into a Christological message that robs us of our holy experience and thoughts."

Of course JFJ doesn't seem to care about such things. In fact they probably enjoyed the controversy. Why do you think they chose their name in the first place?

After all, the more controversy, the more attention and that attention just might translate into contributions.

JFJ had a serious shortfall in its budget last year and staff layoffs followed.

It seems many within the evangelical Christian community have grown tired and perhaps a bit bored with the organization. They have actually not produced many "Jews for Jesus," despite their multi-million dollar annual expenditures.

Perhaps the group hopes its annual "hit and run" Passover programs will rejuvenate some interest and help their sagging revenues?

[Posted by Rick Ross at 10:54 AM][Link]
...
Pana Wave sets up another camp

The Japanese "cult" Pana Wave is now encamped within a mountain region of Japan, reports Mainichi News.

But area residents are not happy and hope the group will move back to its own property soon.

Police continue to watch Pana Wave closely.

Next week on Thursday, according to Pana Wave's leader Yuko Chino, the world will end.

Hopefully, this date may mark the return of group members to their compound to ponder a failed prophecy.

Japanese citizens appear weary of the wandering "cult" caravan of white vans rolling around the country.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:57 AM][Link]
...
Bogus claims of "Satanism"

This past week many residents of Ohio were led to believe that "a Satanic cult [was] operating" in the area.

"Dogs" were found skinned with their "eyes painted orange," reported News 5 a local TV station.

One resident said, "It's a Satanic ritual -- something to do with voodoo."

Never mind.

Days later the same News 5 crew reported that these claims were completely false.

The remains were in fact not even "dogs," but the carcasses of coyotes marked by construction workers with paint to be readily seen for disposal.

Such stories of supposed "Satanism" have become urban myths much like the tales of "UFO abductions."

Thankfully, this Ohio yarn was put to rest quickly before it reached epoch proportions.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:41 AM][Link]
...
Financial fraud claimed as a religious rite/right

A group called the "Al Moroccan Empire or Moors" decided one of its religious rites or rights, is to distribute fake money orders, reports NBC News 10 in New Jersey.

Police rounded up members of the group yesterday and they are now facing criminal charges for passing out about $10 million dollars of the "funny money" orders.

The US Attorney said, "The essence of the group is their belief that they are not subject to the laws of the United States, but that they are owed money from the citizens and the government of the United States."

Apparently Moorish believers felt buying Concorde tickets to Europe, luxury cars and squaring away their gambling debts with the faked tender, was an act of faith too.

In court group members steadfastly refused to recognize civil authority and one told the judge, "You're fired."

But despite their religious fantasy and fanaticism, it looks like the "Moors" will be subjected to a dose of reality as their crimes likely lead to a prison term, rather than a free trip to Europe.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:15 AM][Link]
...
:: May 09, 2003 ::
French authorities are after Scientologists again

Once again it seems Scientology is in potentially serious trouble in France.

Two officials of the French branch of Scientology have been placed under official investigation for "fraud and complicity in illegally practicing pharmacy," reports AFP.

Allegations involve the use of high dosages of vitamins and giving "personality tests" without a scientific basis, ultimately as a means "to obtain money."

In the United States its unlikely authorities would bother Scientology over such matters.

But in France Scientology does not have the special status of a recognized religion and is instead identified as a "cult."

Scientologists claim they have "10,000" members in France.

However, membership claims routinely made by the organization have never been objectively verified.

Some say that Scientology may actually have less than 100,000 truly active members worldwide.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 03:38 PM][Link]
...
Japanese "cult" now tracked by 100 police, news media and nation's leader

A team of 100 Japanese riot police is presently tracking the "cult" Pana Wave, reports The Guardian.

Village after village has protested the group and made it clear they are unwelcome.

But Pana Wave has not been connected to any crime.

However, the ominous predictions of coming doom made by its leader Yuko Chino, deeply disturb many Japanese who remember the cult Aum.

An editorial in Asahi News noted, "In hindsight…Aum became increasingly bloody-minded, the police were late in taking appropriate action" and warned they should now "be prepared to move swift and sure if [Pana Wave] breaks any laws."

However, that same editorial said, "Police need to keep in mind the possibility that groups of this sort, when pressed too hard, can sometimes lash out dangerously."

So Japanese authorities are engaged in a precarious balancing act, between protecting the public from a potentially unsafe group, while being sensitive to the group itself.

Even the Prime Minister of Japan weighed in and said, "I would like groups, whatever kind, not to cause inconvenience to local areas and other people," reported Japan Today.

Of course the crucial ingredient in all this remains Yuko Chino.

Much like Aum leader Shoko Asahara, Chino is the impetus behind her group and she largely defines it. The 69-year-old woman has the power to keep Pana Wave peaceful, or act as its ignition point.

Asahi lamented the intense nonstop TV coverage of the "cult" citing this as "One of the main reasons so much attention is being drawn to this group."

However, Chino seems to be directing her followers in a series of sensational stunts that have garnered the group increasing attention.

Maybe with so many news cameras now focused on her group, 100 police engaged in ongoing surveillance and the Japanese Prime Minister commenting about Pana Wave, Chino is satisfied and has finally received all the attention she wants.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 12:18 PM][Link]
...
African cult leader responsible for mass murder/suicide still alive?

A sensational claim was made this week by a government official in Uganda regarding infamous African cult leader Joseph Kibwetere, reports New Vision.

Kibwetere led the cult called the "Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God," which ended its history in 2001 through a horrific mass murder/suicide that claimed the lives of hundreds of followers.

This tragedy occurred after doomsday predictions made by Kibwetere and his accomplice Credonia Mwerinde failed to materialize at the turn of the millenium.

A Ugandan elected official told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that Kibwetere altered his appearance through "plastic surgery" and now lives in Israel.

He offered no proof to support this claim.

Kibwetere and Mwerinde's bodies were never recovered. There were persistent rumors that Mwerinde may have escaped after looting the group's assets.

However, many believe Kibwetere is dead, though his remains have never been positively identified.

It is very doubtful that such a notorious cult leader could have successfully entered Israel, which is a country known for its tight security and carefully monitored immigration.

The Ugandan cult murder/suicide probably exceeded the number of deaths at Jonestown, making it the most horrific cult tragedy in recorded history.

But due to the lack of forensic and technical assistance available in Uganda, a true count of the dead will never be known.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 10:14 AM][Link]
...
:: May 08, 2003 ::
Did Japanese "cult leader" use seal for publicity stunt?

"Tama-chan the "little seal with a lousy sense of direction" became a TV star in Japan. A whole series titled "The World According to Tama-chan," chronicled the life of this ocean orphan lost in the Tama River.

The adorable mammal became a "national sweetheart" as his exploits were watched in a series of episodes on Japanese national television. He even had a fan club, reports Daily Yomiuri.

But by Episode 4, Tama-chan had some trouble from strange new fans that wanted to "rescue" him. And that "fan club" is now known as the "cult" called Pana Wave.

"Cult leader" Yuko Chino and her devoted cohorts tried to kidnap little Tama-chan. Later she would claim that the seal's "rescue" would somehow "save humanity."

But perhaps all Chino really had in mind was moving into the limelight generated by darling seal, rather than rescuing either Tama-chan or the human race.

Eventually the media dug a little too deep and made Chino unhappy. She then had her followers chase them off with a bulldozer.

So is Yuko Chino a dangerous doomsday cult leader, or a manipulative media hound?

Maybe she is both rolled up into one odd combination?

It wasn't that long ago that another "cult" known as the "Raelians" burst into prime time, claiming they had produced the "first human clone."

However, all they really ever produced was an orchestrated media blitz.

Perhaps then Chino's fascination with Tama-chan is telling. It does seem to mirror a Raelian-like publicity stunt.

Raelian leader Claude Vorilhon ("Rael") seems to feed his voracious ego on such self-indulgent fare. Is Chino cut from the same cloth? They are both "cult leaders," do they have more in common?

Everything has now seemingly come around full circle. Yuko Chino and Pana Wave are now the stars of their very own media series, seen through daily news coverage.

If the cult leader craved attention, she has certainly fulfilled her dream.

But it may turn out that the odd woman in the white van, will once again not like her close up.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:12 AM][Link]
...
Scientology works Cruise in New Zealand

Scientology is ginning up its recruitment efforts within New Zealand as a direct result of Tom Cruise filming a movie in that country, reports the New Zealand Herald.

"There has been a lot of interest in Taranaki about the church since Tom Cruise has been down there," said a Scientology spokesperson.

The controversial organization subsequently launched a two-day exhibition.

Scientology has always used its celebrities as poster boys and girls to bait recruitment efforts.

But hopefully, New Zealanders will look beyond the hype and recognize that Scientology cannot be fairly judged by its Hollywood stars.

What you see is not always what you get.

Very few Scientologists enjoy the elite treatment Cruise receives.

After all, why does the organization have special "Celebrity Centers" in the first place?

Scientology treats its cash cows and celebrities much like Las Vegas does "high rollers," or what they call "whales."

In Vegas high rollers receive special treatment, which often includes luxury suites, limo service and assigned staff catering to their every whim.

Cruise is a "whale" within Scientology. And whatever he says about his religious experience should be judged accordingly.

Most Scientologists can be seen as just fish. Hopefully, not many New Zealanders will get hooked.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:27 AM][Link]
...
Pana Wave leader known as "weirdo" growing up

It should come as no surprise that Yuko Chino has almost as strange a history as the cult she created.

The leader of Pana Wave, was known as a "kook" and "weirdo" growing up, reports Mainichi Daily News.

Chino alternated between isolating herself and dressing or undressing to gain attention. This included everything from "hot pants" to "streaking" naked through her neighborhood.

A love affair gone sour led the young Chino to attempt suicide once.

Later there was an arranged marriage with a Pana Wave follower, apparently linked to an immigration plan to enter the United States.

The reclusive "cult leader" now migrates around Japan within a white van, supposedly the repeated target of death rays transmitted by enemies intent upon killing her.

Repeated claims that Chino is dying from cancer remain essentially unproven.

She has predicted that the world will end next week on May 15th.

But when this prophecy fails don't expect the group to end.

Historically, cult leaders can usually find some excuse to explain away a failed prediction. And cult followers, deeply invested and dependent upon the leader, typically accept what they are told.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 07:24 AM][Link]
...
:: May 07, 2003 ::
Is Japanese cult serious or seeking publicity?

Japanese authorities continue to closely monitor a strange "cult" called "Pana Wave."

The nomadic group's eerie caravan of white vans continues to roam across Japan, reports The Japan Times.

Pana Wave's leader Yuko Chino makes increasingly strange pronouncements and proclamations.

In one statement the 69-year-old woman said, "approach of the Nibiru star will be delayed nearly a week from Monday, and those who do not listen to this message will face death."

This may mean her previous prophecy that the world would end May 15th has been "delayed."

Chino claims she is dying from cancer, which her followers attribute to a conspiracy by "extremists" and "radicals" bombarding her with "harmful electromagnetic transmissions."

Pana Wave members wear white to protect themselves from these alleged death rays.

In one recent interview the cult's leader said that a baby seal "would spare mankind from certain destruction," reports Mainichi Daily News.

It must be understood that the Japanese have good reason to be disturbed by doomsday cults. After all, in 1995 the city of Tokyo endured a poison gas attack launched by the doomsday cult called Aum.

Aum's leader Shoko Asahara, much like Yuko Chino, fed his followers with constant prophecies of coming catastrophe.

Eventually, this madman personally fulfilled his dark visions by creating a catastrophe himself that sent thousands of Japanese to hospitals and killed twelve.

Asahara's long trial only recently ended and he is likely to be sentenced to death by hanging.

However, it is also possible that Chino and her cult following are simply publicity seekers. After all, most cult leaders are ego-driven and appear to need and feed upon attention.

Despite reports that the Pana Wave leader will die in days, it seems Ms. Chino is well enough to do demanding interviews and prepare public statements, reports BBC.

It may be that Pana Wave has more in common with a "cult" called the Raelians than it does with Aum.

The Raelians and their leader "Rael" (Claude Vorilhon) became known through a series of publicity stunts. The most recent was the claim that they had produced the "first human clone," which now appears to have been a deliberate hoax.

Perhaps Chino like Rael craves the media spotlight. And the strange activities of Pana Wave are cynically calculated to garner as much attention for the cult and its leader as possible.

Let's hope so.

After the horrors of Aum the Japanese could use a good laugh.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 02:23 PM][Link]
...
"Cults" with clout on Capital Hill

It is becoming increasingly clear that some groups called "cults" are flexing their muscle through increasing influence within Washington.

The latest example appears to be a provision in a House Bill, sponsored by Rep. Max Burns (R-Ga.) and supported by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), intended to curtail use of the drug Ritalin, reports Roll Call.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) has pointed out that the legislation is backed by Scientology through an organization it founded called the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).

He said, “I suspect…that [they believe] all medication for kids with [attention-deficit disorder] is wrong.”

Kennedy is right.

Scientology is not only opposed to Ritalin, but any drug prescribed by psychiatrists and the entire profession of psychiatry itself.

Scientologists essentially see psychiatrists and psychologists as their competition, because they believe that their "technology" alone is the only really effective treatment for the human mind.

What has become increasingly clear in recent years is the power some "cults" now wield in Washington.

Two followers of Rev. Moon, "messiah" of the Unification Church, have recently been appointed by the Bush administration to high-ranking positions in government.

One (Josette Shiner) claims somewhat suspiciously, that she had a religious epiphany and became an Episcopalian conveniently before entering government, after 22 years as a "Moonie."

Scientology demonstrated the power of its influence previously within the Clinton White House and State Department, in calls to end alleged "persecution" of the organization in Germany.

Rev. Moon exercises considerable media muscle through the Washington Times and United Press International, both under his control.

Scientology and the Unification Church are no longer just fringe groups vying for religious converts. Through their wealth and Washington connections they are political players at the highest realms of American society. And their growing clout on Capital Hill offers proof of this fact.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:14 AM][Link]
...
Looks like China was right about "evil cult leader"

Hongbao Zhang, 49, leader of the Zhong Gong movement, fled arrest in China during 2001 to eventual asylum in the United States claiming "religious persecution."

However, Chinese officials said he was really an "evil cult leader" with a history of crimes against his followers including rape.

Zhang countered that such charges were "trumped up" as a device to suppress his "new religious movement."

But now the "cult leader" is charged with violent crimes in the US.

It seems Zhang beat up and terrorized his maid. He is charged with five felonies including kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment, reports Reuters.

The "cult leader" was released on $300,000.00 bail and is back at his "gated estate" within a pricey California neighborhood. He apparently has no problem raising cash.

Zhang evidently also had the resources to retain one of the most expensive lawyers in California. Robert Shapiro, of O.J. Simpson fame now represents him.

Interestingly, it seems Shapiro may be cultivating "cult leaders" as a lucrative new area for his law practice. The attorney previously represented Amdi Pederson, another alleged "cult leader" that faced criminal extradition proceedings.

It seems rather than being "persecuted," as Zhang once claimed, he might just be exactly what the Chinese authorities have said all along, a criminal "cult leader." And he is certainly living a life of luxury in the US, with a staff of servants in his "gated estate."

Maybe human rights activists who so readily crusade for alleged "cult leaders" such as Li Hongzhi, the exiled leader of Falun Gong, should take a closer look before believing their claims and embracing their cause?

[Posted by Rick Ross at 08:05 AM][Link]
...
:: May 06, 2003 ::
Leading Mormon historians and researchers contemplate retirement

Probably the two most widely accepted and respected researchers regarding Mormonism in the world today have announced their coming retirement, reports Salt Lake City Weekly.

Sandra and Jerald Tanner of Salt Lake City have researched the Mormon Church (LDS) and its history for three decades.

Due to Mr. Tanner's health the couple has chosen to move on into a less demanding schedule and mode.

Shortly after meeting, Jerald and Sandra Tanner married in 1959. This was perhaps the culmination of a period of doubt and questioning about their Mormon faith.

Ironically, Sandra is the great great granddaughter of Brigham Young and Jerald is related to LDS Church Apostle, N. Eldon Tanner. A background like this certainly would have assured them status and acceptance within seemingly genealogy obsessed Mormon society.

However, instead after the Tanners closely examined the historical records of their church as Sandra explains, “We felt that the Book of Mormon didn’t meet the standards of historical authenticity."

As a direct result, the Tanners, like many Mormon free thinkers and intellectuals, were eventually excommunicated.

But unlike some excommunicates that drift away into relative obscurity amongst Mormons, this couple took a very different path and eventually became the "notorious Tanners."

In 1964 they established Modern Microfilm, an archive, and that would eventually become perhaps the single best and most credible resource for objective historical information about the Mormon Church and Mormonism. This effort would ultimately be known as the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, a nonprofit charity.

Along the way the Tanners became part of Mormon history themselves, as pivotal players in numerous critical and important archival revelations, not always appreciated by their former church.

At times they were also debunkers, exposing purported Mormon historical documents as forgeries, even if they appeared to support their own theories or suspicions.

Always honest, forthright and concise in their work, the Tanners are even respected by Mormon apologists that largely consider them enemies.

One such apologist admitted, "They’ve been effective" And regarding their research begrudgingly added, “In an odd sort of way, I’m grateful for them.."

The Tanners are not apologetic about their Christian faith.

Sandra Tanner said, “We are for Christianity, and like consumer watchdogs, we put out the alert against an aberrant group that claims to be Christian.”

What this refers to specifically is the claim often made by the LDS and its members, that "Mormons are Christian."

However, to date no Christian church has accepted this claim based upon Mormon doctrines, teachings and added scriptures, which clearly contradict historical Christianity.

Taking such a stand about Mormonism didn't make the Tanners popular amongst their former brethren. They have often been called "anti-Mormon."

Sandra shrugs this off saying, “We make people uncomfortable and so if they can call you ‘anti’ they can dismiss our work."

Mormon historian Michael H. Marquardt said, “The Tanners don’t make anything up…and a sad thing is, there are other historians who will use their work and not admit it.”

But Sandra and Jerald Tanner's odyssey as researchers and people of faith was never about appearing in footnotes.

The couple now married more than 40 years wanted to help others like themselves in a struggle for truth and an authentic history.

The Tanners raised three children in Utah and throughout their family life resided a short walk from the historic Mormon Temple erected under the direction of Sandra's revered ancestor.

Isn't it odd how that history came around full circle?

[Posted by Rick Ross at 06:38 PM][Link]
...
Guru golf?

Deepak Chopra has recently taken up golf, and like so much of what the guru does, it may turn a profit too.

Chopra has written about his new game in a book titled, "Golf for Enlightenment."

The MD and former disciple of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says, "I nourish my relationship with the ball by saying, 'You're part of me.... When you soar, I will soar with you.' "

Right.

And Chopra insists, "It's not about winning."

But according to an LA Times article "Golf with Deepak" by Roy Rivenburg, Chopra doesn't really seem to follow through on his mantras.

When his game didn't go well the guru/doctor "became increasingly rattled and distracted." At one hole "he walked off without two of his clubs."

Later as the Times staff writer watched, "he hit the wrong ball in the tree area [and] his karma went completely on the fritz."

The golfing guru later tacitly admitted, "My book isn't really about golf…It would be stupid of me to write a book about golf.... The title just gets you in the door. Once you're in the door, it's about something else -- spirituality."

So once again as Rivenburg points out astutely Chopra is "a shrewd marketer."

It seems the guru's golf book is just another gimmick, this time to target men as consumers for his "spiritual…empire."

Dr. Deepak has followed in the footsteps of his mentor Maharishi and made "spirituality" into a virtual money machine.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 02:09 PM][Link]
...
Scientology looking for more public funds

The Church of Scientology seems to be working another "program" in England to get public funds.

This one is called "Criminon," supposedly designed to reduce crime by rehabilitating prison inmates, reports England's This is Kent.

The largely L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology's founder) inspired program is now available as a correspondence course to some inmates, but Scientologists want to expand it.

"We would very much like to take it to the next level, which would be actually running courses inside prison," says its executive director.

But the program spokesperson admits it will be "very difficult" to prove their "success rate."

Criminon has reportedly managed to squeeze into prisons within South Africa, the USA, Hungary, Israel and Mexico.

However, Nevada governor and lawmakers recently turned down a free trip to see how a Scientology-related program was working in Mexico.

Criminon is part of Narconon, which is itself under the umbrella Scientology organization called "ABLE."

One family in Ohio recently said they spent "$30,000 [on Narconon] in Oklahoma… based on Scientology," but it "failed" to help their son's drug problem, reports News Journal.

A Swedish expert questioned its premise and claims.

Maybe Scientology should prove its latest rehab's "success rate" first through a pilot program amongst its own members before receiving further funding?

After all, historically there have been plenty of Scientologists arrested for apparent religiously related criminal activity around the world; in such countries as Spain, France, the US and Russia.

And let's not forget former Scientology minister and bad boy financier, investment guru and convicted felon Reed Slatkin.

Why not have Slatkin take a course or two and see how that goes, before hitting up taxpayers for more money?

Hmmm wait a minute, didn't he already take in-depth courses to become a minister and then go bad?

Never mind.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 12:47 PM][Link]
...
"Yogic flying" reported as news

"I'm from Missouri you'll have to show me," has been a skeptic's refrain for generations.

But apparently the old saying may be dwindling in importance at one media outlet in America's heartland.

Missouri's KTVO TV ran a story about a "yogic flying" competition, without any apparent critical balance to create a meaningful context for this preposterous claim.

The so-called "yogic flyers," devotees of guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, actually just hop around.

But the station reported, "Players propelled themselves several feet through the air using only a higher level of consciousness."

Maybe this television station should say, "I'm from KTVO, do a show for me."

It seems the ABC affiliate is more concerned with sensationalism than substance.

But chalk up another successful self-promotional publicity stunt for the old guru.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:51 AM][Link]
...
:: May 05, 2003 ::
Operation Clambake's webmaster wins human rights award

Long-time Scientology critic and Internet pioneer for "cult awareness" Andreas Heldal-Lund has received a human rights award, reports CNET News.

Norwegian Heldal-Lund was awarded the "2003 Leipzig Human Rights Award " by the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA.

The committee cited Heldal-Lund's website "Operation Clambake" as "the most famous Internet site in the world...that exposes and opposes the fraud and human rights violations of the US-based Scientology organization."

Scientology has subjected the Norwegian to intense harassment and legal challenges.

But despite this pressure he has carried on and triumphed over what Time Magazine once called, "a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."

Heldal-Lund is the fourth recipient of the annual award.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 01:06 PM][Link]
...
People runs puff piece on "Kaballah Center"

Demi Moore seems to be the latest celebrity to get hooked on the "Kaballah," or at least what People Magazine passes off as "Kaballah" within a puff piece featured in its May 12th issue, now on news stands.

However, the version of "Kaballah" Demi studies along with Madonna is through a controversial organization run by Philip Berg and his family called the "Kaballah Center," which has been called a "cult."

The positive almost promotional article barely hints at the troubled history of this organization and instead focuses on what stars say about the group.

People Magazine appears more concerned about what celebrities think, than the public good.

However, Berg and his Kaballah Center have a long history of bad press.

Its teachings have been called everything from "absolute mumbo jumbo" to "McWisdom of the ages."

Instead of being the seemingly legitimate study of "Jewish mysticism," as presented within People, Berg's Kaballah Center is instead often described as a fringe group amongst mainstream Jewish scholars.

In 1995 a Jewish task force report in California stated the following:

"Outside of his own…circle of followers, neither the academic nor the Jewish religious worlds know anything about [Philip Berg] except for the anomalies of his centers. They have absolutely no regard for him, his teachings, writings or activities. In fact, he is universally condemned by both the Orthodox rabbinate and contemporary schools of Jewish mysticism in Israel, the USA and elsewhere, as a charlatan."

People Magazine did cite one Jewish teacher though that is a strong supporter of Berg and his organization.

Roseanne.

The former sitcom queen now teaches a class at the LA Kaballah Center.

Now there's a class worth attending, but it's not clear what for?

But apparently being the star of a syndicated television series with substantial residual income may largely cover Berg's teaching requirements.

Maybe the bigger the star, the greater their "McWisdom" and corresponding credentials?

Get ready for a class on "God, Jewish spirituality and the meaning of life" from Madonna.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 12:19 PM][Link]
...
More on Australian billionaire heir's involvement with Scientology

The heir to the largest fortune in Australia appears to be hooked on Scientology, but his billionaire father seems to think that's OK, reports the Sydney Herald.

James Packer 35, heir to the fortune of media mogul Kerry Packer, seems to be increasingly submerged within the world of Scientology.

On a flight from Australia to LA Packer Jr. was seen reading Scientology literature and listening to their CDs for many hours. And Packer was on his way to a Scientology bash.

But Packer's father reportedly considers his son's interest in Scientology "no great concern" and instead sees it "as a fairly harmless self-help tool."

It appears this media mogul doesn't read much or is in denial.

If the Packer patriarch bothered to do some serious research he would find quite a bit to be concerned about.

James Packer, like many of Scientology's recruits, appeared to be depressed and at the bottom of a bad run when long-time Scientologist Tom Cruise seemingly scooped him up.

The movie star became his "friend" while filming "down under" and it appears this quickly led to Packer's involvement with the controversial church, which has been called a "cult."

The Herald article offers a history of James Packer's troubled personal and professional life, which apparently made him easy pickings for Scientology.

Packer Jr. has reportedly attended "clearing" sessions with Scientologists, which means he has undergone what they call "auditing," but what critics call "brainwashing."

Australian newspapers not controlled by Packer Sr. are raising questions that maybe the father should be asking.

The Herald asked, has James Packer "joined a cult"?

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:13 AM][Link]
...
Cult apologist proclaims Raelians "world's largest UFO religion"

Cult apologist Susan Palmer likes to call the controversial "Raelians" her "friends," and proclaims that they are now the "world’s largest UFO religion," within an article run by Trinity College's online newsletter.

The Canadian religious studies teacher recounts, "My Raelian friends boasted that membership had skyrocketed from 50,000 to 60,000 since [making their clone claims]."

However, whatever Palmer says must be taken with more than a grain of salt. She is a self-professed "cult lover" who has been paid by such groups to defend them in court.

Palmer chooses to describe Raelian leader "Rael," as a playboy and a sportsman and a social satirist."

However, news reports routinely refer to him as a "cult leader."

In fact, Rael's own family sees him quite differently than Palmer.

The man's real name is Claude Vorilhon. And the aunt who raised "Rael" calls him "little Claudy." When confronted about her nephew's claims of communication with alien beings from outer space she says Vorilhon is a "cornichon" (pickle), which is French for nitwit.

Palmer disregards Vorilhon's personal history and seems to be deeply invested in Raelian myths. After all she has a book coming out about the Raelians.

"The [cloning] affair was…an unqualified success. The media…played right into his hands…[and] for the first time elicited a direct response from the Vatican," says the seemingly infatuated Raelian chronicler.

Palmer doesn't seem to care that the clone claims were a hoax, or that the group reportedly bilked a couple for a considerable amount of cash. She is impressed by "little Claudy," even if his family is not.

Don't expect this religious studies teacher to critically or objectively analyze anything about Rael or his Raelians. Palmer has pronounced the group "benign" and she is invested in that position, despite serious allegations of sexual abuse and various investigations still pending in France.

Perhaps that's why when the cult apologist "bumped into a group of [Raelians]…they pecked [her] cheeks enthusiastically."

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:22 AM][Link]
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:: May 04, 2003 ::
Is Krishna crumbling due to legacy of misdeeds?

The Krishna organization, often called a "cult," is now trying to grope its way out of a legal quagmire, reports the LA Times.

A class action lawsuit was filed against the controversial organization in 2000 on behalf of more than 90 victims of childhood abuse, within the group's boarding schools.

The apparent strategy employed by the organization that cynically seemed to anticipate this action was to create a spin machine, in a hopeful effort to influence public opinion and subsequently the jury pool.

Krishna's spin-doctor Anuttama Dasa said the organization had changed, admitted the gross abuse in the group's schools and claimed everything would be taken care of, including the victims.

But it appears Dasa like Krishna was more spin than substance, so eventually the group's victims sought relief through a class action lawsuit.

Krishna's next move was to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.

A Krishna lawyer explains now, "We are working on reorganization plans that will provide meaningful compensation for anyone found to have a valid claim. The judge will determine the capacity of these temples to pay based on the Court's analysis of their assets, and not on the whims of an inflamed or biased jury," according to self-serving press release.

Meanwhile, the federal lawsuit was dismissed, but was filed once again as a state action in Texas.

Krisha's counsel got it right.

The horrific abuse of children within Krishna schools would inflame almost anyone. And it is hard to imagine what would be "meaningful" compensation, given the admitted scope of abuse, let alone what could be set as punitive damages.

According to a friend of Krishna, academic and apparent apologist E. Burke Rochford Jr., "20 percent of all students…[and] 75 percent of the boys" at one Indian boarding school alone were victims of abuse.

3,000 children went through the Krishna schools in question. This means there are literally hundreds of victims.

Virtually the same entrenched autocracy exists today than ran the Krishna organization during that era of abuse.

Almost all of Krishna's leaders are Americans and/or Westerners that became devotees when the sect's founder Swami Prabhupada was alive.

The controversial swami built his first temple in New York City in the sixties. Krishna temples typically include a statue of him, which appears to be virtually an object of worship.

Rather than being a part of mainstream Hinduism, Krishna is largely seen as an aberrational sect defined largely by the personality and idiosyncrasies of Prabhupada, rather than traditional Hinduism.

Now it seems like the old swami's creation is crumbling under the legacy of its past deeds. But rather than its leaders receiving judgement through some future incarnation, it may be that an earthly judge will mete out their punishment.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:41 AM][Link]
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DISCLAIMER: This news page is about groups, organizations or movements, which may have been "cults" and/or "cult-like" in some way, shape or form. But not all groups called either "cults" or "cult-like" are harmful. Instead, they may be benign and generally defined as simply people intensely devoted to a person, place or thing. Therefore, the discussion or mention of a group, organization or person on this page, is not necessarily meant pejoratively.
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