Author Steven Hassan, who writes and speaks about groups called “cults,” has a personal history of cult involvement. Hassan was in the Unification Church (“Moonies”) founded by Sun Myung Moon for two years in the 1970s. And his origin story includes a dramatic “deprogramming” intervention arranged by his parents.

However, it seems some of that story has been obscured or may have been somewhat changed over the years.

According to James and Marcia Rudin, authors of the book “Prison or Paradise: The New Religious Cults” (1980 Fortress Press page 37), “Steve [was] bitter when he [remembered] how quickly the church deserted him after an automobile accident.” The authors recount how “Steve fully expected the ‘Family’ to assist him in his recovery, but instead the Unification Church leaders contacted Steve’s sister and parents and informed them of the accident.” Hassan stated, “The Moonies couldn’t get rid of me fast enough.” And it was “during the long period of recuperation he was deprogrammed.”

So, it appears that at the time of his deprogramming Steven Hassan was no longer a member of the Unification Church and was already apparently disillusioned with the organization.

Hassan who once studied creative writing seems to have embellished, exaggerated and/or spun his deprogramming story over the years.

Steve Hassan with his latest book

For example, Slate reported (2021) that Hassan had supposedly dark and violent thoughts during his deprogramming that reflected his fanatical commitment. They quote Hassan stating, “While it might seem hard to believe, my first impulse was to kill my father by reaching over and snapping his neck,” Hassan reportedly wrote, “As a member, I had been told many times that it was better to die or kill than to leave the church.”

But these expressions of extreme and violent commitment don’t exactly line up with the sentiments expressed within the book by the Rudins published in 1980. Rather, it seems that Hassan was predisposed to leave the church after it dumped him and he became bitterly disillusioned.

Another interesting contradiction is that Hassan apparently told the Rudins that he was “a former Unification Church high official who was a national leader at CARP” (Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles).

But the Rudins also write that “he rammed his car into the back of a truck on the Baltimore Beltway after seventy-two continuous hours of fund raising” (“Prison or Paradise: The New Religious Cults” page 38).

Why was a “high official” and “national leader” within the Unification Church relegated to such menial work? Grueling hours of fund raising is most often delegated to regular members within fund raising teams and not prominent national leaders.

CultNews has reported in the past concerning Steven Hassan’s penchant for embellishing his personal and professional history, such as falsely claiming to be an instructor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School.

Bronze Israeli gift souvenir

Hassan has also claimed to be the recipient of the “Jerusalem Medal” presented to him by the State of Israel. However, no such award exists and he was simply give a token souvenir by an Israeli official, which anyone could buy easily at a gift shop in Israel or pick up on eBay.

By the way, CultNews was given the same gift by the same Israeli official, originally described by Hassan as the “Jerusalem Gold Medal” it is bronze not gold, and was never considered an “award.” Yet Hassan still makes the bogus claim of receiving this souvenir gift under the heading “Honors & awards” at his LinkedIn account and his curriculum vitae (CV).

Another interesting, but somewhat bizarre aspect of Steven Hassan’s self-portrayal, is his use of filters for his online videos. Such filtering is often done by celebrities like Madonna, but has been criticized as inauthentic. Hassan, who is certainly not a celebrity like Madonna and wants to be regarded seriously as an expert, nevertheless masks himself through filtering technology. Here he is unfiltered, which is rarely seen, and here he is in a more common filtered image.

In this age of creative histories, contrived facades, masks and lying political figures like George Santos, it’s important to check if the claims being made are real or imagined.

George Santos

It must be noted that Steven Hassan was admonished for unethical conduct by his licensing board according to court records. Hassan’s licensing board specifically cited the ACA (American Counseling Association) ethical code violation of “failing to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of clients.”

Some people seem to think that bringing up such discrepancies and exaggerations is “petty” and/or not relevant. Hassan fans have periodically contacted CultNews and expressed such sentiments. Often saying, “What difference does it make” or “Why raise questions about such small details”? They say because Steven Hassan is fighting destructive cults, he must therefore be given some sort of pass and/or special consideration.

However, one of the primary issues concerning destructive cults is deceptive practices. That such groups and movements are inherently dishonest and trick people through deliberate lies and misrepresentations to become involved and stay. That destructive cults are unethical.

If we are to objectively define destructive cults by such behavioral criteria that same criterion must be applied to everyone equally on both sides of the issue, even those who say they are endeavoring to expose destructive cults and help cult victims.

Cult News has learned that noted scholar, sociologist and cult expert Dr. Ronald M. Enroth passed away in early February. He was 84 and retired living in Volcano, Hawaii.

Dr. Enroth was born in 1938 in New Jersey and graduated from Houghton College in New York before attending the University of Kentucky, Lexington earning his M.A. in Anthropology and his Ph.D. in the new field of Medical Sociology.

Dr. Enroth is survived by his wife Ruth-Anne whom he married in June of 1960, his daughters, Kara Bettencourt (Jerome), Rebecca Coons (Kevin) and his two grandchildren, Nicolas Coons (Debra) and Taylor Coons (Kent) and his great-grandsons; Isaac, Elliot, and Atlas Coons.

Dr. Enroth moved with his family to Santa Barbara, California in 1965 where he joined the faculty of Westmont College as a professor of Sociology and Anthropology, where he worked for forty-seven years.

A respected scholar in the field of Sociology of Religion and “New Religious Movements,” often called “cults,” he was a popular speaker throughout the United States.

Dr. Enroth was the author of ten books:

The Jesus People with Edward E. Ericson & Calvin B. Peters (Eerdmans, 1972)
The Gay Church with Gerald Jamison (Eerdmans, 1974)
Youth, Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults (Zondervan Publishing House, 1977)
A Guide to Cults & New Religions (editor) (InterVarsity Press, 1983)
Why Cults Succeed Where The Church Fails with J. Gordon Melton (Brethren Press, 1985)
The Lure of the Cults & New Religions (Christian Herald Books, 1979)
Evangelizing the Cults (editor) (Servant Publications, 1990)
Churches That Abuse (Zondervan Publishing House, 1992)
Recovering From Churches That Abuse (Zondervan Publishing House, 1994)
A Guide to New Religious Movements (editor) (InterVarsity Press, 2005)

Ronald Enroth, Ph.D.

Some controversy surrounded the publication of his book “Recovering from Churches That Abuse” due to the inclusion of a chapter about “Jesus People USA” (JPUSA) of Chicago. Dr. Enroth exposed abuses within the organization, which many once saw as a seemingly benign ministry.

Dr. Enroth’s willingness to expose abuse wherever he found it was deeply appreciated by many. His diligent research and published writings helped countless cult victims and affected families.

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The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly called the Hare Krishna movement, founded by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is embroiled in yet another scandal concerning the sexual abuse of hundreds of children at its schools in the movement’s Myapur headquarters, located in West Bengal, India.

Historically, ISKCON in the United States was sought refuge in bankruptcy after a class action lawsuit was filed against it by adult children of its devotees that had been sexually abused as minor children within its ashram communities and schools. The matter was then settled through bankruptcy court.

Mayapur, ISCON headquarters

In October, ISKCON’s Child Protection Office (CPO) released a damning report regarding the abuse perpetrated by the ex-headmaster of the school, Anirdesya Vapu (aka Alan Ross Wexler), formerly known as Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami (BVPS).

Excerpted quotations from the CPO report as follows:

“This decision pertains to new allegations that between 2005 and 2010 BVPS perpetrated the sexual abuse, (sexual) harassment and psychological abuse of a minor.”

“This panel recommends the GBC examine the culture of enabling child abusers that is prevalent amongst some senior ISKCON leadership and management. BVPS had previous CPO restrictions that prohibited him from managing schools, yet he was allowed to continue doing so, either directly at the girls’ school, or indirectly at the boys’ school via his proxies and disciples.”

“Despite there being at least two previous CPO cases highlighting BVPS’ abusive/harmful behavior, other sannyasis, gurus, senior devotees, and yatras, continued to support, protect, and defend him, as well as give him a high-profile. For example, his senior godbrothers invited him to their temples, encouraged their disciples to send their children to his school, disregarding serious complaints of abuse dating back to the 1990s, and visibly supported him and his schools by visiting them.”

“The support and endorsement that BVPS received from his seniors and peers enabled him to become the child abuser with the longest span of activity in the history of ISKCON. Their public support of him was in essence a seal-of-approval of BVPS. There is a need for a massive culture shift amongst senior leaders in ISKCON aimed at preventing and discouraging further abuse of children.”

“ISKCON needs to stop defending known child abusers because of ‘how much service they have done.’ The panel believes that if ISKCON’s senior leadership had been more mindful of, and prioritized child protection, BVPS would not have been able to continue abusing children for so many years and the lives of many children would have been spared the unnecessary abuse he perpetrated.”

BVPS/Anirdesya Vapu (aka Alan Ross Wexler) has now been stripped of his sannyasa status and exiled from Mayapur. But as of yet, no criminal charges have been brought against him. But before the dust settled, one of the former students, Vedasara, now an adult and leader in ISKCON Atlanta, reported horrific levels of abuse of young children by the former Swami, other students and teaching staff.

The report sent shock waves through the Hare Krishna movement. But ISKCON leaders seem to be conspicuously quiet, perhaps under legal advice. They haven’t even revealed the outcomes of an investigation that they commissioned about the movement’s schools in India — a report that was submitted to them some time ago.

ISKCON leaders are being criticized by the Society’s members for not doing enough to keep the movement’s children safe –- in fact, turning a blind eye for decades whilst this monster wreaked havoc in so many young lives. Red flags were everywhere. His abuse of children was an open secret. There were three CPO investigations.

Certain leaders, known to be friendly associates of BVPS, have released messages trying to distance themselves. But many of their disciples are not buying this. There is a massive crisis of faith. Many previously faithful disciples are now openly challenging their gurus.

Another leader embroiled in scandal

Most recently, yet another ISKCON leader is embroiled in scandal. Lokanath Swami has initiated a defamation lawsuit against two whistle blowers that have raised awareness of all of this and its mishandling over the last 30 years.


In 1990, whilst staying in a family home in New Jersey recuperating from an injury incurred, he sexually abused an eleven-year-old girl. She reported this to her mother. But the family only shared this with ISKCON’s leaders three years later. The ISKCON did not report this to the New Jersey authorities –- and also dissuaded the family from reporting it, promising that Lokanath would be severely punished. But in the end, they only gave him 2.5 years restrictions on initiating disciples and allowed him to remain a guru. And everything was kept hidden from the general devotee population.

Despite instructing Lokanath to inform prospective disciples of what happened, he stopped doing so and later contested the authenticity of an admission letter.

Details of the matter came to public attention in 1998. But the ISKCON Governing Body Commission (GBC) sought to play down the gravity of the crime. However, details surfaced again in 2010 when the victim, in her thirties, publicly spoke out about the specifics of the crime.

But each time the matter came to public attention, the GBC nevertheless allowed Lokanath to remain in a leading position, most likely because of his high profile status within ISKCON India.

The whistle blowers social media campaign in April 2021 once again brought this matter back into the public consciousness, which apparently increased public pressure.

In May ISKCON leaders publicly promised to give the case to the CPO, which is in line with their espoused policies regarding such matters. However, days later, they secretly withdrew the case and in August announced that they would set up a special designated panel to review the facts and prior handling. This became their preferred approach as opposed to the previous policy of giving the case to the CPO. The panel was composed of five members, two were former CPO Directors, but two others were loyal Lokanath supporters, though that bias was disputed.

It seems like no surprise that this panel concluded that no further action was needed and the GBC considered the matter closed.

The publicly released panel report officially documents the abuse that took place, along with all of the mishandling. The report included a co-authored letter of admission by Lokanath.

The European and North American temples indicated that Lokanath would not be welcomed in their jurisdictions.

Despite widespread circulation of these documents, significant community awareness and the restrictions imposed upon him, Lokanath decided to sue the social media whistle blowers, which now draws more attention to the scandal.

By Rick Alan Ross

Cult expert turned political pundit Steven Hassan has a penchant for conflating his CV and at times just plain lying about his past status. And he seems to have an obsession about Harvard.

Again, and again Hassan claims to have taught at “Harvard Medical School.”

Steven Hassan[/caption]This misleading claim was repeated recently by Michael Shermer at his “Skeptic” website by way of introducing Hassan on the “Michael Shermer Show.” It seems that there wasn’t any meaningful examination and ultimately skepticism, concerning Hassan’s career claims.

Michael Shermer

According to the iconic “Ivy League” university Steven Hassan has never been employed there.

Hassan offers a letter posted at his website, seemingly in response to a past report at CultNews, which supposedly supports his misleading professional claims.

The letter is from John R. Peteet, M.D. Dr. Peteet is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. In the letter sent to Hassan in 2019 Dr. Peteet states that Hassan “has served as a valued presenter in the course I co-teach, Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry.” Dr. Peteet teaches this class at Harvard Longwood, which is a hospital associated with Harvard.

Steven Hassan’s CV repeatedly lists the title of “presenter” under the subheading “Professional Activities,” but does not make the distinction explicitly, that this was volunteer work.

CultNews sees this as potentially misleading the reader to conclude that Hassan worked for Harvard as a paid professional.

CultNews reached out to Dr. Peteet to better clarify and specifically understand the exact status of Steven Hassan at Harvard Longwood.

Steven Hassan

In response to an email (January 25, 2023) concerning Hassan Dr. Peteet explained, “Yes, he was a guest presenter for a few years, once a semester, in a course for Harvard Longwood Psychiatry residents, Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry. I believe he also offered and taught an ongoing elective ‘Helping people influenced by Undue Influence: Hypnosis, Destructive Cults, and Traffickers’, which was taken by interested residents, but I was not directly involved in that course. Presenters in the course were unpaid, except for the first few years of the course when a grant was in effect.”

Again, Hassan does not make the distinction that he was only a “guest” and “unpaid.”

But Dr. Peteet later clarified specifically in a subsequent email (January 25, 2023), “Since I was not part of setting up his elective course, I’m afraid I don’t know what the payment arrangements were, if any. He did volunteer his time for us once per year during the semester the course ran. We did not pay him for this.”

So consistent with previous reports Hassan has apparently only been a volunteer speaker at a hospital associated with Harvard for a particular class invited as a guest by the class teacher. He has never been employed as an instructor by Harvard Medical School.

It is nice that Hassan does volunteer work, but within his CV and for the purpose of self-promotion, he does not make the necessary distinction that has he has never been employed directly by Harvard and has never held any professional teaching status at “Harvard Medical School.” In fact, it appears that Hassan has never been invited to lecture at Harvard as a paid professional.

It seems that Hassan has deliberately conflated his CV specifically to infer that he has somehow been part of the teaching staff at Harvard, which would be a false claim.

Some may say that these are “petty” distinctions, but given the cachet that claiming teaching status at Harvard Medical School confers upon someone, any effort to mislead or conflate cannot be ignored. And Hassan’s repeated efforts to make such conflated claims based upon past unpaid volunteer work as a classroom teacher’s guest does not equal the rather ridiculous claim that he “has taught at Harvard Medical School,” or for that matter at “Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

George Santos

We are living at a time that no less than a Unites States Congressman, George Santos, has been exposed for lying about his past employment. It seems like Steven Hassan is following in the footsteps of George Santos. He may not be a spectacular liar like Santos, but he has chosen to conflate his CV in a way that is misleading and dishonest.

Truth, honesty and professional integrity matter. Certainly there are people that have abandoned these principles. But proven and established historical facts must be the basis for defining objective reality, not misinformation and/or lies. This report may be upsetting to Steven Hassan’s fans, but given a choice between confirmation bias and the virtues of honesty and genuine transparency, the later remains a meaningful focus for measuring professional conduct.

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By Brian Birmingham

Matt Walsh of “The Daily Wire” made the documentary “What Is A Woman?” He also spearheaded the “End of Child Mutilation Rally” in Nashville last fall, and he was part of an investigation which closed the transgender clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Walsh is host of his own conservative political commentary show, “The Matt Walsh Show,” which is streamed online almost every day, and he has written four books, including one children’s book.

Matt Walsh is an important and very influential voice in the American conservative movement, especially among the Millennial generation.

Matt Walsh

Matt Walsh is also identifying himself as a Christian, specifically as a Roman Catholic. But he’s said on his show that a Catholic church is the last place that somebody should go, if they want to learn about Catholicism. Walsh has called Pope Francis a disgrace and has expressed his appreciation for church history and church tradition. He talks a lot about bringing back “chivalry” and traditional displays of masculinity. Walsh also talks about traditional marriage, traditional nuclear families, the need for “sexual purity” and the cultivation of wisdom. He speaks in very conservative Catholic terms. However, noting the things he says about the contemporary Catholic church itself leads one to think that Matt Walsh is not really a part of mainstream American Catholicism.

So, what kind of Catholic and which church or organization does Matt Walsh support?

The Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) organization was founded in 1960 in Brazil, by a Catholic priest named Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. TFP was organized, and its mission was directed, according to the principles outlined in Oliveira’s 1959 book, “Revolution and Counter-Revolution” which argued from a position of far-right, pre-Vatican 2 Catholic traditionalism. TFP is a little-known and very obscure group which the general public knows little about, since its numbers are small. According to the TFP website, there are less that one hundred members of TFP, all of whom are volunteers, and many thousands of affiliates and supporters who support the goals of the TFP through its campaign known as “America Needs Fatima.”

“Chivalry,” “purity,” and “wisdom” are three virtues promoted by a traditionalist Catholic organization known as the American Society for the Defense of Truth, Family, and Property, or the American TFP. These three words are TFP buzzwords, and they are also words and concepts that Matt Walsh uses and promotes on his show, in different forms, very frequently.

Walsh has also endorsed “America Needs Fatima,” in his public speaking engagements.

What conclusion does this lead to regarding Matt Walsh?

Matt Walsh apparently is somehow connected to the American TFP and uses his various platforms to support and promote its agenda.

CultNews reached out to Matt Walsh via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms and asked him directly if he is connected to, or affiliated with, TFP and all those queries were ignored.

To date, Mr. Walsh has chosen not reply or respond about the strangely coincidental parallels between what he says and the TFP organization principles, which some have called a type of political “cult” with a religious front.

“The TFP has nearly 75 full-time members or volunteers. It also has a large supporters network. The TFP and its affiliate America Needs Fatima campaign lists some 120,000 supporting members who contribute to its efforts.”

Watch the video on YouTube to get a better idea of what the TFP is like.

Matt Walsh has made a career out of seeking transparency and accountability from others with whom he disagrees (especially those in the media), and Matt Walsh frequently says on his show that he seeks to hold people in power to their own standards.

But what about accountability from Matt Walsh? Does he consistently abide by his own standards?

Here are the simple easy to answer questions that Mr. Walsh seems to have difficulty answering:

1. Are you now, or have you ever been, involved in any way, shape, or form with the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)?

2. If you are not involved with, or connected somehow to TFP, then what Catholic church or organization are you affiliated with now?

3. Are you actively involved with and/or a supporter of “America Needs Fatima”?

The general public, and especially social conservatives, deserve to know whose agenda Matt Walsh is supporting and promoting.

Walsh must be as transparent and accountable, as he expects others to be. And if he is not willing to be accountable and transparent, then both he and his associates are hypocrites that are every bit as dishonest as the Leftists they denounce and seek to expose.

Note: Brian Birmingham is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. He is a native of Dallas.

By Rick Alan Ross

People often ask what makes cult leaders tick?

What motivates them to become cult leaders?

One answer to that question is cold cash.

Many cult leaders have learned that they can become rich while ruining people’s lives.

For example, the notorious NXIVM “sex cult” leader Keith Raniere, who reportedly bilked a billionaire’s daughters out of more than $100 million.

But long before Raniere began his scam another purported “cult leader” left South Dakota and moved to a warmer climate in Florida. His name was Charles Meade and he once led a church that many considered a “cult” called “End Times Ministries.”

Meade lived behind the walls of his Lake City, Florida compound in relative seclusion very privately. Not only was his house gated and secured, so too was the church he built in Lake City, with its guarded entrance and barbed wire.

Meade died more than a decade ago.

Meade’s residence sold a few months after his death for only $94,000 and then again in March 2012 for $200,000. Very little considering its current list price.

The Meade compound is now on the market listed at $2.5 million, though Zillow says it is worth less than half of the asking price, pegging its market value at $740,700.00.

It is interesting to see the online photos and realize what an opulent lifestyle Meade enjoyed within his gated private compound. calls Meade’s home a “Hidden gem! Great neighborhood located 2 Miles from I-75 in Lake City, FL. This is a great investment opportunity. Entire ranch estate sits on 22.43 acres. There are a total of 27 Buildings, including 14 residences! Residences can be used as income properties or guest facilities. The main house (976 SW Hamlet Cir) is a 4/4 with 2 kitchens and has a total of 6700 SF. The property also features a 1750sf greenhouse, 100kw generator, 2990sf 2 story guest barn w/3BR cottage & office, 3200 sf glass enclosure with swimming pool, Outdoor Kitchen, 1170sf guest cottage, special Creekside Cabana beside the manmade creek & waterfall. This would make a great wedding venue or retreat!”

See the photos and you might just think that being a cult leader can really pay off. It certainly did for Charles Meade.

By Brian Birmingham

There is a new development in the child abuse case at the Hare Krishna TKG Academy in Dallas, Texas.

Documents obtained by CultNews reveal that the parents of the abused child did not immediately report the abuse when they were questioned by hospital staff and authorities.

ISKCON’s Child Protection Office did complete a report confirming the abuse, but it is not clear if that written report was copied to Child Protective Services (CPS) in Dallas.

See the official report by ISKCON’s Child Protection Office.

See this detailed narrative compiled by the family of the abused child.

Hare Krishna Devotees

But both parents of the abused child failed to explain what happened when questioned by child protective services and medical personnel. Sadly, they lied to CPS and the hospital staff, in order to protect the school and the Hare Krishna community in Dallas.

Failure to pursue the child abuse may have occurred at multiple levels.

First, and foremost, ISKCON CPO, which was created to protect children, had a responsibility to share their report with the authorities in Texas, and to demand definitive action be taken by the temple in Dallas.

It must be noted that at the end of the ISKCON CPO report it states, “Case was reported to local Dallas child protective services (CPS). No further action was taken by CPS once they determined that Rasakeli was no longer teaching at TKG Academy, and Ramananda was no longer under Rasakeli’s care.”

But what does “case reported” mean?

CultNews cannot confirm that ISKCON’s final report was sent directly to CPS.

Someone may have reported something to CPS, but Dallas CPS would not confirm who reported the abuse. Only that there is a record.

CultNews has made a record request, which is now pending, to determine the details.

The family claims that they offered to share medical records related to the abuse with the Dallas temple.

Here is what the father stated online:

“Jan[uary] late Jan[uary] – Social services/social worker calls our home asking about abuse, if our child was being abused and questioning if he had access to the restroom, and when was he potty trained, etc. They said that such frequent UTI’s [urinary tract infections] are not normal in a boy and is also a common sign of a child being in a situation of where they are being abused. Doctors had also expressed concern about the dangerous bacteria that had been found in his urine. We do not, at that time, provide any information about the school and Rasakeli [the abusuive teacher] not letting Ramananda use the bathroom in fear of causing trouble with the school. We did speak with the school and started mentioning the concerns from doctors and how they had social workers call us asking questions. We also asked both school principal and school board if they needed to see the hospital papers or speak with the doctors, they never reply.”

Hare Krisha kids

Here is the mission statement of the CPO according to its website:

“Our mission is to protect the children of Srila Prabhupada’s Movement from child abuse and neglect. By doing so, we strengthen the future of the Movement —the children—while providing an example to the world of a spiritual society that practices compassionate caring and protection.”

See ISKCON Child Protection Office

However, it appears that ISKCON’s CPO failed to take decisive direct action by actively encouraging and insisting upon a criminal investigation regarding child abuse as no criminal charges are evident.

And apparently the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple has done little to punish the teacher that abused the minor child, who remains within the Dallas Hare Krishna community.

So, how effective is the ISKCON Child Protection Office?

Is it adequately protecting the children of ISKCON from child abuse and neglect, or is its purpose rather public relations through investigations that accomplish nothing definitive?

ISKCON seems to be more concerned about lawsuits than protecting its children.

The abusive teacher at the Dallas Hare Krishna school was found guilty of child abuse by the ISKCON CPO. So why isn’t she being criminally charged and/or purged from the community?

It must be noted that according to sources inside the Dallas Hare Krishna community the Dallas temple leaders sought to have the CPO report findings reversed.

Is the Dallas temple more concerned with protecting its children from abuse or protecting its teacher and silencing criticism?

Krishna Temple, Dallas

The safety of children must come first, or so ISKCON has publicly stated.

Have the leaders of the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple learned nothing from their past mistakes?

Has ISKCON learned anything from the personal injury lawsuits that forced the organization into bankruptcy?

It seems that neither ISKCON nor the local temple in Dallas have genuinely learned much from the past mistakes, which hurt so many people. And apparently these religious institutions plagued in the past by child abuse scandals, may continue to have the same problems in the future.

Does ISKCON mandate reporting to the CPS and local police when a child is abused?

Or instead simply paper over such abuse by producing a report from its CPO, with no specific policy of mandated reporting to authorities by its affiliated temples?

What is the meaningful outcome and consequence of child abuse within ISKCON?

Will there be criminal charges far all of those found guilty of child abuse?

How does ISKCON’s CPO and its affiliated temples actually protect Krishna kids?

CultNews has updated this report based upon the latest disclosures from Dallas CPS and will continue to do so as records are delivered and further scrutinized.

Note: Brian Birmingham is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. He is a native of Dallas.

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By Brian Birmingham

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (also known as ISKCON, or colloquially as “the Hare Krishnas”) was founded in New York City in 1966, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In its heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s, ISKCON was one of the most recognized new religious movements introduced to the United States. ISKCON enjoyed some positive attention in the media. George Harrison of the Beatles was one of the most noteworthy of the celebrities who helped to promote ISKCON.

History of scandal

As it grew in the US, ISKCON became increasingly controversial and was one of most notorious groups called “cults” drawing increasing attention based upon the behavior of its leadership and devotees. At times families tried to rescue their loved ones through interventions with cult deprogrammers.

ISKCON devotees

ISKCON was likewise plagued by scandal. This included its most influential leader in the 1980s. Ultimately that leader Swami Bhaktipada (aka Keith Gordon Ham) was criminally charged. Ham was one of the first Hare Krishna disciples in the United States and he ruled over the largest Hare Krishna community in the country near Moundsville, West Virginia. Ham eventually pleaded guilty to racketeering, fraud and conspiracy to commit murder. But he ended up only serving 8 years in prison.

ISKCON moved on to more scandal, which involved child abuse that took place within ISKCON boarding schools in the United States and India.

The reportedly horrific physicals and sexual abuse began in the 1970s and continued through the 1980s. A class-action lawsuit was filed in Dallas, Texas on behalf of the victims in 2001. ISKCON subsequently sought refuge in Federal Bankruptcy Court, which ultimately forced the adult children to accept a greatly reduced settlement.

ISKCON claimed it would implement sweeping changes to ensure that no such abuse would ever occur again.


One of the most important changes is that ISKCON temples became independent and autonomous legal entities. This insulated ISKCON regarding legal liability. So certain temples today are not officially “ISKCON” temples, but rather only ISKCON-affiliated. Under this arrangement, if a temple is sued for misconduct or abuse, the larger organization ISKCON itself theoretically cannot be held liable, leaving liable only the local temple and its leadership.

In Dallas, Texas the local leadership does business as the “Texas Krishnas, Inc.” This supposedly means that Dallas temple is wholly independent and not an ISKCON temple at all.

ISKCON has made a tremendous effort at public relations to burnish its tainted image. In the past twenty years, the organization has become adept at PR. Anuttama das, is now ISKCON’s “Minister of Communications” and he has done his best to soften the media perception of ISKCON and persuade the general public that ISKCON has changed, and for the better.

ISKCON has apparently curtailed most of its questionable activities.

But has it essentially changed, at least at the local level in Dallas, Texas?

Recent events prove that the answer to this question is “no.”

Abuse in Dallas

It has come to light the families of several students in the Dallas Hare Krishna school were interviewed by ISKCON’s “Child Protection Office,” which revealed that their children were being abused by a certain teacher there.

Dallas Krishna temple

The mother of one abused boy has written about abuses in the school on her Facebook page. She describes physical, psychological, and emotional abuse that her son endured. The boy was forced to urinate and defecate on himself, and was humiliated by the teacher in front of his classmates. The teacher would ridicule the boy, denigrating him and encouraging his classmates to do the same.


Quotes from an ISKCON mother’s Facebook page as follows:

“The ISKCON Child Protection Office investigated this abusive teacher, and found her guilty of child abuse. She was removed from her position and is not teaching in the school today. However, at every step of the investigation the Dallas temple management, headed by the temple president, blocked the investigation by telling school administrators and others to lie, and by threatening families in various ways. After the Child Protection Office made their decision regarding the abusive teacher, the Dallas temple management further tried to undermine their judgment by threatening legal action against that office, in an effort to have their judgment and decision reversed.”

The only way that this family found resolution in their situation, was to physically move and leave Dallas entirely.

They’d been banned from the Dallas temple, and told that their services at the Dallas temple were no longer required.


The leadership of the Dallas Hare Krishna temple is no more accountable or transparent than they were in 1972. And the abuse within the local Hare Krishna school in Dallas is still apparently going on as the hierarchy of this temple chose to side with the teacher, not the students and their families.

Despite all of the public relations efforts of Anuttama das and whatever he might say to sway the media, the Hare Krishnas, at least in Dallas, have not substantially changed, it seems, very much at all.

Note: Brian Birmingham is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. He is a native of Dallas.

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By Rick Alan Ross

ABC GMA3 hosted leaders of a purported “cult” and asked them to dispense marital advice on what a show segment called “Faith Friday.”

Michael and Monica Berg, leaders of the so-called “Kabbalah Centre” were touted as “spiritual thought leader[s]” by ABC News presenters Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes. The Kabbalah Centre couple were even asked, “What is the key to a loving and lasting relationship”?

But Michael Berg’s background is hardly the basis for marriage counseling.

Philip and Karen Berg

The Kabbalah Centre, which was founded by Michael Berg’s father insurance salesman/rabbi Philip Berg (aka Fievel Gruberger) and his mother Karen Berg, has no meaningful history as part of the organized Jewish community. And credible Kabbalah scholars both in the US and Israel have sharply criticized its unorthodox practices, such as selling supposedly miraculous Kabbalah Water and claiming that somehow scanning the pages of the Zohar without being able to read the text imbues the believer with special energy, protection and/or power.

CultNews has received complaints about Michael Berg’s parents (now deceased), the Kabbalah Centre, its teachers and specifically concerning both Michael Berg and his brother Yehuda, found guilty of sexual misconduct with a Kabbalah Centre student, a scandal that pushed Yehuda Berg into the background, behind his brother Michael.

Michael and Monica Berg

The Kabbalah Centre is essentially the Berg family business and with wealthy patrons like Madonna and Donna Karan the Bergs became rich, despite the fact that the Kabbalah Centre is a tax-exempted religious nonprofit, which was investigated by the IRS. Nevertheless the Berg family greatly benefitted from the enterprise and now Michael Berg and his wife Monica run the organization from New York, though it has many other branches, such as Boca Raton, Los Angeles and London, seemingly targeting wealthy enclaves where people have more money to spend.

This video explains how the Kabbalah Centre and the Bergs manipulate their students and followers.

CultNews has received very specific complaints about how the Bergs and their teachers influence students/followers regarding their personal relationships, discouraging them from marrying or staying with someone that they see as an impediment and/or threat to their control. So rather than being a source of credible advice to couples the Kabbalah Centre has historically torn people apart, including estranging family members, if they ask too many critical questions.

How is it that ABC News did not know this and allowed the Bergs to use the GMA3 program platform to promote themselves, their podcast and teachings?

Is there someone associated with this news show that is a fan of the Bergs and the Kabbalah Centre?

Or is it possible that the GMA3 staff just didn’t bother to do an online search for more information about the controversial couple?

If someone at GMA3 had done some meaningful research they would have found that the Kabbalah Centre has a deeply troubled history of bad press, complaints, scandals and personal injury lawsuits. A number of news organizations have released very critical reports about the Bergs and their business.

Did GMA3 somehow miss that?

The Cult Education Institute has a historical archive that reflects criticism of the Bergs and the Kabbalah Centre within the United States and internationally, including Israel.

Michael Berg was asked by one of his GMA3 hosts to offer closing remarks to inspire us all. Berg then ruminated about the importance of realizing your potential and that the possibilities are “limitless.”

Well, Michael Berg certainly does seem to have limitless possibilities for self-promotion, paid for and supported through the spiritual empire he inherited.

But when a news program hosts purported “cult” leaders it’s more likely that those leaders will conspire rather than inspire, and that’s why it’s best to ask tougher questions, rather than pitching them flattering softballs.

By Paddy McEvoy

First allow me to explain my interest in this question. I had been teaching in England, in state schools, for over 20 years, before moving over to Steiner/Waldorf education. It was in the 1980s. The National Curriculum was being drawn up at the time. I was Acting Deputy Head in a multi-ethnic London primary school and had serious reservations about nearly every aspect of the new National Curriculum that was being proposed. I was confronted with the dilemma of how to square in my conscience the selling to parents of a Curriculum I didn’t believe in, if I were to take the next professional step and move up the career ladder to a Headship.

I had read some of Steiner’s writings, and although puzzled by some of the more inaccessible (outlandish?) of the ‘esoteric/spiritual’ theories, I was impressed by the Steiner schools I visited. I decided to attend the two year Waldorf Training Seminar at Steiner House in London, on Saturdays. It was a fascinating course – in some ways it felt like a step backwards, being clearly out of sync with the race and gender debates which were raging in the London Borough of Brent where I taught. In other ways, it felt like a mighty leap forward, so engaging were some elements of the course, and so refreshing was the well-thought-out curriculum which underpinned the Waldorf schools’ programme.

Steiner himself (1861 to 1925), was an Austrian mystic and esotericist, who started out as a Theosophist but broke with them on the question of whether Krishnamurti was the new Maitreya or World Teacher, and founded his own Anthroposophical movement. He started his first school at the Waldorf cigarette factory in Stuttgart in 1919.

Rudolf Steiner

I eventually left the state sector to teach at a Steiner school. It didn’t take long before I began to have difficulties with Anthroposophy and some Anthroposophists. I heard some truly weird things being said by dyed-in-the-wool Anthropops. (That’s how they chummily referred to each other. When I referred to the fact that the teachers should call themselves Philanthroposophists, because of the derisory wages they were on, the joke fell flat. At a conference I attended, the schools were referred to as modern mystery centres. I said I agreed with the mystery bit, as it was a mystery how they stayed open, so minimal were the salaries.). One high up in the movement, a science teacher, told me, quoting Steiner, that the heart wasn’t a pump, that it wasn’t responsible for the blood-flow around the body. Another said that Britain floated on the surface of the sea! Yet another that the ‘elementals’ were responsible for the bad behaviour of the children in her class! One described himself as an alchemist. It was expected that Anthropop ‘doctrine’ be accepted as holy writ, of sorts. One other such novel notion was that there were two, not one, Jesus children, that the two Bible genealogies in Matthew and Luke were about different children!

I became increasingly unpopular with some of the more cultic members of the Anthropop movement for vigorously pushing the idea that Steiner education should be state funded, naively believing that Anthroposophy could be somehow detached, certainly played-down, to the point of non-existence, from the educational work of the schools. I was considered an Ahrimanic influence – (Ahriman being a Zoroastrian evil force/demon).

The more I found out about Steiner’s extraordinary writings, the more I felt myself having major reservations about him, and them. But what to do, enmeshed, as I and my family were, in something that would be awkward to extricate myself from? I was teaching History in the Upper School. Steiner had a unique take on the origins of the planet and the evolution of human civilisation, which one was expected to adhere to in one’s teaching – to follow the ‘indications’. One heard a lot about Steiner’s ‘indications’, (as if they were optional). (They were as ‘optional’ as was the doctrine of transubstantiation in Catholic schools, another maze which I had earlier in my life extricated myself from.) Steiner traced the course of the development of modern human civilisation from Ancient India, to Persia/Babylon, to Egypt, to Greece, to Rome and forward to modern Aryan Europe, the pinnacle of human endeavour! Any informed history curriculum should be deeply anchored in the ancient past, but to contextualise the evolution of civilisation as Steiner did sits very uncomfortably with the spirit of free enquiry which should obtain in any school, which above all should be a non-prescriptive place of learning. He had some very uncomfortable things to say about the role of Judaism in history, and about the black races, which no modern Anthropop would be prepared to defend (I hope), among other surreal theories. But Steiner was no friend of the Nazis, nor they of him.

But was Steiner a ‘racist’? We think of ugly hate-crime when we think of racism. I would seriously doubt if he was motivated by any such base inclinations. I feel that the hierarchical way in which he ordered his universes of higher and lower worlds, inevitably and logically involve some ‘beings’ being at the top and some at the bottom, some on the up and some on the slide. And it must be remembered that all this cosmic guesstimation was tied up with notions of karma and reincarnation. The prevailing ideologies of his time, it must be remembered, were not egalitarian.

Waldorf School Ghent, NY

To pluck one quote about race from a library of books and lectures written by Steiner is to risk leaving oneself open to the charge of bias. (But with quotes such as the following on the record it is hard to gainsay such criticisms: – On the one hand there is the black race, which is the most earthly. When this race goes toward the West, it dies out. Then there is the yellow race, in the middle between the earth and the cosmos. When this race goes toward the East, it turns brown, it attaches itself too much to the cosmos and dies out. The white race is the race of the future, the race that works creatively on the spirit. (Rudolf Steiner, Farbe und Menschenrassen”, lecture in Dornach March 3, 1923, in Steiner, Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde, Dornach 1993, p. 67). I have heard Anthroposophists try, unconvincingly, to make sense of such outlandish stuff. Trying to have an in-depth conversation with one of his more dedicated followers on such touchy matters has a ‘Don’t mention the war’ feel to it, so in denial are they. It would be far better for them to summarily denounce such off-the-radar nonsense. Instead of being in denial, Anthroposophy needs to learn to be able to answer critics head on about the spiritual skeletons in the Anthroposophical cupboard. Steiner did speak more of his hopes for humankind, than of negatives, it must be said. What I do know is that the teachers/people connected with Steiner schools, despite such patently absurd, offensive, statements as the one above, and others, lurking in the background, are no more racist or sexist, than any cross-section of teachers one would find in any other educational establishment. Quite the opposite in fact. However, I did find the motivations of some parents for having their children in Steiner schools very problematic.

The question of the state recognition and funding of Steiner education has come under the spotlight recently. There are voices being raised challenging such recognition in Britain and Ireland. In Ireland, a Steiner National School in Co Galway has recently received official confirmation amid controversy that certain of Steiner’s attitudes and theories lie uneasily beside modern, more rational/science-based understandings of life.

The bigger and more serious question is: ‘Under which heading should Steiner schools be classified?’ The fact that they are not obviously, visibly denominational should not deter educational authorities from looking more closely at the philosophy which underpins the practice in the schools.

Anthroposophy is not openly ‘taught’, it runs through every aspect of Steiner school life like an X-ray, its influence being omnipresent. Study-groups, a staple of Anthropop life, constantly peruse his writings, both in the schools, and in the wider Steiner community. When I first heard about etheric, astral and other, higher ‘bodies’, and the four temperaments, I looked upon these theories as quaint, even poetic ways of describing the growth of the individual. When I actually had to work with people who seriously believed these things, I became alarmed. That alarm grew when I became aware of what they thought of me for not believing these, to me, absurd, postulations. All had to be taken on trust. Why? Because The Master said it, so it must be right. (Echoes of North Korea…Margaret Thatcher ‘Not one of us’?) We were once discussing the poor literacy of certain children when a teacher ventured the jaw-dropping opinion that we should relax about literacy. Why? Because we were not really educating the person for this incarnation but the next! (Some of these people were of the view that handicapped people, homosexuals, etc., were such because of misdeeds in previous incarnations! Ask those who run Camphill communities.)

So, can Steiner schools be thought-of as ‘faith’ schools? In these times when there is a concerted attempt to uncouple education from the engine of religion to which it has been shackled for too long, the question as to whether Steiner schools come under ‘faith’ or ‘secular’ is one that must be faced-up to. For a school movement permeated by Steiner’s esoteric/occult teachings to claim to be humanist or secular is, in my view, disingenuous. For parents to turn a blind eye to the permeation of the curriculum with Steiner’s thinking is also ‘convenient’. This issue, of the classification of Steiner schools, is one which must be tackled by those disbursing public funds. Are they ‘faith’ schools, or not?I’m afraid they are. To be creating new faith schools in the modern age, as is happening in Britain, is to be swimming against the tide of history. There are a lot of positives associated with Steiner schools, such as being non-selective and comprehensive – aspects which should be universal to all schools.

Catholic schools require to know if their teachers are practising the religion, as do other faith groups who run schools. Parents of children in Steiner schools, likewise, should know which of the teachers belong to the Anthroposophical Society, or to the 1st Class of that Society – a higher echelon than ordinary membership. (And if they are members, why?) (I was a member of the Society for some years, a fairly innocuous, if self-important body. I was invited to be a member of the 1st Class, but when I enquired as to what went on in meetings, the invitation was quietly dropped. One leading Anthropop suggested, patronisingly, that, in her opinion, I mightn’t be ‘ready’.) Parents should know of visits from the upper strata of Anthroposophy at Dornach in Switzerland, and should enquire as to the true purpose of such visits. It is hard to escape the view that schools are under some scrutiny as to whether they are ‘carrying the Anthroposophical torch’ authentically. Whatever such purposes might be, they are a far cry from the mundane, but vital business of improving children’s literacy and numeracy, among other tasks. The agendas of such visitations should be readily accessible, not that there is anything necessarily amiss about them, just to let parents know the full story – to be on the level. They should certainly know of any part played by such things as Anthroposophical Medicine, or bio-dynamic gardening, or of the Christian Community etc., – influences which vary from school to school. With regard to medicine, I found a strong propensity among the teachers to disapprove of immunisations and vaccinations, the idea being that it strengthened the spiritual/physical bodies to be left to fight off childhood diseases. This has become a hot topic in these Covid times.

The atmosphere in Steiner schools is generally charming, eschewing the overweening competitiveness too prevalent in ‘state’ education. The pastel colours found in the Lower schools are beautiful. Who wouldn’t want their children educated in such obviously nurturing, beguiling environments? (Having one’s child with the same teacher for eight years can be more problematic, particularly if there is a personality clash, or the teacher is not up to the task, a reality all too common. Teacher recruitment, training and qualifications, and retention can be very patchy.) Much of the educational practice is imported from mainland Europe, from Germany and Holland in particular, with their enlightened emphasis on kindergarten education prior to embarking on formal schooling, practices which are slowly being adopted in the mainstream.

Would/could Steiner/Waldorf schools function without Anthroposophy? If the Anthroposophy could be removed, what would remain? When faith schools are phased out, as I believe they will be… and who knows, maybe sooner rather than later, which path will the Steiner schools take, shut-down or reform? What schools in Britain and Ireland urgently need: are more Educate Together schools in Ireland; more Integrated/secular schools in Northern Ireland; and more ‘faith-free’ schools in England, Wales and Scotland.

But racism? I believe there is a growing gulf between some of Steiner’s more outlandish notions and the attitudes of teachers in Waldorf schools, which they need to address. Whatever one considers of Steiner’s thought-provoking contribution to a wide canvas of knowledge – to political thought, to architecture, to medicine, to mathematics… – to affix the crude label ‘racist’ to his towering contribution, or to the good, if naïve people in the Steiner movement is surely to oversimplify and misrepresent things. Some ex-Steiner teachers I have met have said they didn’t quite know what they were getting involved with. Many ex-students have some hairy tales to tell. As to his delvings into the ‘Akashic records’, whose ‘findings’ so impress many of his followers, that is another very problematic area in this sceptical age.

The term ‘racist’ is an unsatisfactory label in describing the convoluted snakes-and-ladders nature of the ‘cosmic’ thinking of that genius Rudolf Steiner. But serious questions remain to be asked and answered.