Reza Aslan’s series “Believer” on CNN ran an episode about Scientology last night. And as expected it was misleading and a disappointment to almost any serious Scientology watcher. CNN has done some great work exposing the bad behavior of Scientology, but Aslan let CNN down by providing half-truths and misleading information to its viewers.

Aslan started out by admitting he has been called an “apologist” when it comes to Scientology and perhaps other “new religions” referred to as “cults.”

CultNews noted in a previous report that an online CNN article promoting the Aslan’s Scientology show featured two academics, David Bromley and J. Gordon Melton, used by Scientology as “religious resources.” Both of these “scholars” have been called “cult apologists.”

In the show last night Aslan featured an interview with yet another apparent apologist Donald Westerbrook, Lecturer, Center for the Study of Religion, University of California, Los Angeles, who offered no meaningful criticism of Scientology, but rather whatever explanations the controversial church had provided. Westbrook has said, “I suspect that Scientology’s theology, practices, and marketing will continue to provide promising case studies for understanding contemporary intersection points between science and religion.”

Reza Aslan

Aslan flippantly dismissed Lawrence Wright and his book “Going Clear” about Scientology by challenging the author to criticize Jesus.

But according to the New Testament Jesus didn’t collect fees from his disciples and unlike L. Ron Hubbard didn’t leave this earth a wealthy man. Jesus was poor and sought nothing in any material sense. Hubbard arguably designed Scientology as a business to make money. Scientology and its founder have historically been described differently than Jesus. “The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be reflective of its founder LRH,” wrote California Superior Court Judge Paul Breckenridge during a top Scientology defector’s court suit against the church. “The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements,”

When Aslan describes what is called Scientology’s “tech” he failed to include how expensive it is or what the fees are charged by “independent Scientologists” who have now gone into business separated from the original organization. Aslan compares Scientology to McDonalds in a dispute with former franchise holders over its “secret sauce.” It’s actually Jack in The Box that has a secret sauce, but never mind, this mistake stating the facts is minor when compared to the mountain of misleading information Aslan lays out during the show.

Aslan compares the Protestant Reformation to Scientology independents withering away in tiny enclaves. But the defections of Scientologists has little to do with doctrine and more to do with the bad behavior of the organization under the dictatorial rule of David Miscavige. And as Aslan should know, unlike Miscavige, the Pope is elected.

What viewers see throughout the episode is aging Scientologists clinging onto to an imaginary Hubbard that belies the reality of history and his genuine biography. Independent Scientologists can be seen as an example of cognitive dissonance, not a serious and substantial movement for reformation. The comparison made by Aslan is laughable if not pathetic and doesn’t reflect any serious historical research or scholarship.

Even in Aslan’s happy compliance when he submits to an auditing (spiritual counseling) session there is no meaningful explanation of what is actually happening. That is, an interrogation of someone with the aid of a machine called an e-meter. What Aslan fails to disclose is that “Hubbard was granted a US patent in 1966 for a ‘device for measuring and indicating changes in resistance of a living body,’ but the original electropsychometer was developed in the 1950s by psychoanalyst Volney G. Mathison.” And that “since a 1963 US food and drug administration edict, Scientology can no longer refer to E-meters as having any medical use: they are now ‘religious artifacts’.”

Aslan correctly states that the e-meter can be seen as part of a “lie detector.” So auditing within Scientology might be more accurately portrayed as a form of coercive persuasion aided by a machine to intimidate the subject.

Independent Scientologist and auditor Randy then puts Aslan through a training routine (TR) within Scientology known as Bullbaiting (TR 0 Bullbait). In this routine the subject is baited to have an emotional response to confrontational conversation, such as insults. Randy throws a few softballs and Aslan does the same in their exchange. It would have interesting to watch Randy’s reaction if Aslan has thrown him a few curve balls, such as all that according to the coroner’s report when Hubbard died his “blood contained traces of Hydroxyzine, also known as Vistaril,” a psychotropic drug prescribed by psychiatrists for anxiety. Did Scientology’s “tech” fail its founder? Aslan doesn’t touch upon this historical fact, which might really upset Randy.

Aslan concludes that Scientology is not unlike the Roman Catholic Church that has had its share of clergy abuse scandals. However, this comparison doesn’t take into account that the Catholic Church has paid out more than $1 billion dollars in compensation to the victims of sexual abuse and changed its policies to address this issue. Meanwhile Scientology has paid out relatively little to its victims and has not significantly changed the policies that hurt them. Likewise, unlike Pope Benedict IX, David Miscavige has not stepped down for an early retirement, but rather remains fully in charge of Scientology.

Reza Aslan may have proven that he has a bright future as an apologist for “new religious movements” (NRM) called “cults,” following in the footsteps of Bromley and Melton, but as a supposed intellectual inquirer he falls flat in his show about Scientology. What Aslan proves instead is that he is not an objective student of history when it comes to Scientology.

Note: The Cult Education Institute (CEI) has one of the largest historical archives online about Scientology. It represents more than 20 years of work and research and covers everything Scientology, from real estate holdings to Scientology’s damaging policy of “disconnection.” CEI founder Rick Alan Ross, author of the book “Cults Inside Out” and a court qualified expert on Scientology, explains within an educational video how Scientology manipulates and controls people.

Update: Reza Aslan’s show “Believer” was later cancelled by CNN.

Reza Aslan apparently has joined the ranks of apologists willing to spin for Scientology and other groups called “cults.” In a video tied to his CNN series “Believer” Aslan states, “Scientology is probably the most successful new American religion of the last hundred years.” Aslan admits there are questions about “the control that the leaders of Scientology have over the lives of many of its members.” But he concludes, “Scientology is at a crossroads in its history, if the church can learn to give up some of that control in a hundred years from now it might be one of the great religions of the world.”

Really?

It’s been reported for years that “Scientology membership [is] in drastic decline.” Some Scientology watchers say that church membership probably peaked at about 100,000, but now may include little more than 20,000 members worldwide.

Aslan, an author and professor of creative writing at UC Riverside, is certainly no investigative journalist. But his incredible ignorance and/or willingness to seemingly disregard the facts demonstrated by his ridiculous pronouncements about Scientology make him look at best stupid, or worse like an apologist spinning for the purported “cult.” Aslan should know that Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, called its “undisputed dictator,” is guilty of gross abuse of power, according to the allegations of many former Scientologists.

Reza Aslan

The online CNN report “What is Scientology?” quotes noted cult apologists David Bromley and J. Gordon Melton. Both Bromley and Melton have been recommended as “religious resources” by Scientology. Melton wrote a book about Scientology riddled with errors. Nothing these “scholars” have to say about Scientology can be considered either completely objective and/or accurate. Instead Bromley and Melton represent a category of spin doctors, often financially subsidized by the controversial church (i.e. Melton has made a bundle from groups called “cults”), who often support its positions and apologize for Scientology’s behavior. Though in the CNN piece Bromley tacitly admits that Scientology’s secrets are disclosed “only to more advanced Scientologists” (e.g. Scientologists who have paid large sums of money to the organization for its courses, training and “spiritual counseling” known as “auditing”). Bromley doesn’t question the propriety of such rolling disclosure by a supposedly legitimate religion.

Religious scholar Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi of the University of Haifa questioned whether “Scientology is a religion or a racket.” Beit-Hallahmi concluded that the founder of Scientology “Hubbard’s actions reflected a kind of criminal megalomania, a morality of those who see themselves as above conventional moral edicts.” According to this academic scholar L. Ron Hubbard “consistently displayed…the components of what has been called psychopathy: selfishness, deceitfulness, and callousness.” Perhaps it is for this reason Time Magazine dubbed Scientology the “Cult of Greed.”

Interestingly, in a CNN video Reza Aslan says that cults can be “good.” Aslan states, “Cults are as cults do…if it works towards evil in the world then it’s a problem.” At this point cable viewers must wonder if Aslan has Internet access or follows the news regarding Scientology, which has a long, long list of very serious problems and whose leader David Miscavige, according to his father Ron Miscavige, is “hooked on power” and reportedly “lives a lavish lifestyle while many of his followers are mired in poverty.”

Despite Reza Aslan’s opinions CNN has a history of reporting the facts about Scientology and its abuses. In 2010 Anderson Cooper did a week-long examination on his show, “Anderson Cooper 360,” investigating “allegations of violence and physical abuse within the Church of Scientology.” And for his effort Cooper was attacked by Scientology.

Scientology can be vicious when exposed by investigative journalists digging into its problems. The BBC and St. Petersburg Times (now known as the Tampa Bay Times) were both attacked when they reported less than flattering facts about the controversial church.

Most recently sitcom star Leah Remini has spoken out (A & E “Scientology and the Aftermath” ) about Scientology policies that destroy families through a deliberate policy known as “disconnection.” Mayor George Cretekos of Clearwater, Florida, a Scientology stronghold said, “They are just awful. And they also need to understand that … churches support families. They shouldn’t divide families. … The Church of Scientology ought to think twice about its policy on families.”

So given all the disturbing facts that are so widely known and reported about Scientology how could a seemingly smart guy like Reza Aslan get it so wrong? Is he a Scientology stooge? Or is Aslan so politically correct that he just can’t get his head around how bad Scientology really is among so-called “new religions”?

Whatever the answer is Aslan looks like an ass.

Note: The Cult Education Institute (CEI) has one of the largest historical archives online about Scientology. It represents more than 20 years of work and research and covers everything Scientology, from real estate holdings to Scientology’s damaging policy of “disconnection.” CEI founder Rick Alan Ross, author of the book “Cults Inside Out” and a court qualified expert on Scientology, explains within an educational video how Scientology manipulates and controls people.

Recently the Cult Education Institute (sponsor of CultNews) received a very serious complaint about Steven Hassan, a cult specialist and licensed mental health professional based in Boston, Massachusetts. Hassan is also the president, treasurer, secretary and director of a for-profit corporation called “Freedom of Mind.” The complaint concerned the fees and questionable conduct of Steve Hassan concerning the counseling he provided to a former cult member.

Hassan charged thousands of dollars for his services draining the former cult member’s savings.

Steven Hassan’s former client said that Hassan’s counseling was worse than his bill. The former client characterized Hassan’s counseling as debilitating and damaging. The former cult member stated, “I did feel traumatized both during and after my therapy with [Steve Hassan].” Hassan’s former client subsequently sought and received professional help to recover from the counseling. The former cult member noted that “other professionals in the field” who were subsequently consulted described Steve Hassan’s counseling “as both unprofessional and potentially dangerous.”

Steven Hassan

Steven Hassan

Steve Hassan has a long history of complaints, including complaints filed with his licensing board.

On April 20, 2012 Hassan was officially notified by the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health Professionals in Massachusetts that he was facing an official complaint filed by a former client against him. The board advised Hassan in an Order to Show Cause, that he might have his license as a mental health professional revoked or suspended.

The Massachusetts licensing board decided to forward the complaint for prosecution (In the matter of Steven A. Hassan Docket No. MH-12-014).

In June 2011 Hassan was served with three subpoenas and he retained an attorney to respond to those subpoenas. Hassan’s attorney then wrote a letter to the individual that served him, which contained the names of two former clients. Subsequently Hassan posted the letter publicly at his website “Freedom of Mind” and also used both Facebook and Twitter to further share the contents of the letter.

According to Hassan’s licensing board he violated ethical provisions of both the American Mental Health Counselors Association and the American Counseling Association (ACA). Specifically regarding “client confidentiality” and the expectation that “no information will be released without the client’s permission and written consent.”

Hassan’s licensing board also cited an ACA ethical code violation of “failing to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of clients.”

The Massachusetts licensing board concluded that Hassan’s conduct constituted “unprofessional conduct and conduct that undermines public confidence in the integrity of the profession.”

Attorney Jessica Uhing-Luedde was the prosecuting counsel for the Division of Professional Licensure. And a court proceedings later took place in Boston, Massachusetts.

On November 16, 2012 the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Service Professionals in Massachusetts officially notified Steve Hassan that the complaint filed against him by a former client, which was forwarded for prosecution, was dismissed without prejudice.

It must be noted that when a complaint is dismissed without prejudice, unlike a dismissal with prejudice which is final, the complaint may not be dismissed forever and can potentially be reopened.

Within its official notification of dismissal the licensing board felt it was necessary to “remind [Steve Hassan] of the rules and regulations that govern all licensed mental health counselors in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

The board specifically focused on “the limitations of social media and the importance of maintaining confidentiality.” The board told Hassan that he must “monitor any posts on social media websites to ensure that patient confidentiality is never compromised.” And that “the responsibility for maintaining patient confidentiality always falls upon the mental health counselor.”

The board admonished Hassan, “All licensed mental health counselors are expected to adhere to these standards and failure to do so may result in disciplinary action against your license.”

It would seem, based upon the prosecution of the complaint and admonishments by his licensing board that Steve Hassan narrowly escaped disciplinary action.

CultNews learned that another complaint was filed against Steve Hassan with his licensing board more recently. However, this complaint was dropped and not prosecuted.

The Cult Education Institute has had a disclaimer posted concerning Steve Hassan since May of 2013. This disclaimer notes the numerous complaints received about Hassan.

From time to time the Cult Education Institute receives complaints and reports of other concerns expressed about cult intervention practitioners. The institute makes every effort to follow up on those reports and relay them to the individuals involved for their response. Steve Hassan is the only deprogrammer/exit-counselor about whom CEI has received numerous and consistent complaints over a period of years involving matters of cult intervention methods, fees, and professional ethics.

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It appears that noted religious studies scholar Reza Aslan has become of a spin-doctor for Scientology. The best-selling author of three books and professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside will host a series on CNN titled “Believer” to premiere Sunday March 5th.

Here is what the public intellectual had to say to UCR Today about the controversial organization Scientology, which has frequently been called a “cult” by its critics.

“People know about Scientology, but they don’t really know what Scientologists actually believe or do. What I wanted to do was shed light on that aspect of it, including auditing. … I had the opportunity to visit Scientology groups around the world and to really focus on what makes this a successful, and perhaps the most successful, new American religion of the 20th century.”

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan

What Scientology does has been widely reported for decades including the Time Magazine cover story “Scientology: Cult of Greed,” to more recent accounts such as the book “Going Clear” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright and the documentary “Going Clear” by Alex Gibney. Historically, Scientology has frequently been accused of exploiting its members and in some cases brutal treatment through its Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). Apparently Professor Aslan spent little if any meaningful time studying such historical information.

Instead Aslan says, “Scientology is a very secretive religion, a religion that, in their view, has not had a fair shake from the media.”

Aslan then talks about “being audited” and that he “went through four or five hours” and it “was an extraordinary experience.”

Aslan appears clueless about how Scientology’s auditing, confessionals, done with the aid of an e-meter machine, which can be seen as a crude lie detector, is used by Scientology as leverage to manipulate its members. Moreover, notes taken during the auditing process by a Scientology auditor are routinely passed along and become part of person’s permanent file within Scientology. And such files have allegedly been used to intimidate Scientologists and denigrate former Scientologists.

Has Reza Aslan become an apologist for Scientology?

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Cult leader Dave McKay, founder of the self-proclaimed “Jesus Christians” is apparently back in business using the new name “End Time Survivors” preaching on YouTube.

Dave McKay, now in his seventies, is originally from Rochester, New York. McKay married and moved to Australia in 1968 where he joined the cult “Children of God (COG).” COG became infamous for child sexual abuse. McKay later decided to leave COG and become leader of the so-called “Jesus Christians” in 1982.

Like Moses Berg, the founder of COG, McKay became notorious for the total control that he exercises over his followers. Now on YouTube he is “Brother Dave.” Claiming divine revelation McKay says, “When I tell people that God talks to me I can see the wheels turning, their thinking ‘psycho,’ ‘psycho,’ this guy needs professional help.” Maybe McKay is a psycho. Apparently if you disagree with Dave you disagree with God.

Dave McKay

Dave McKay

McKay’s group was dubbed the “kidney cult” because reportedly more than half of his followers donated a kidney in what many saw as a ploy for media attention.

Brother Dave seems to be adept at “brainwashing” his disciples according to numerous press reports. And after new recruits join his group they frequently cut off virtually all communication with family and old friends. The group has also garnered controversy for recruiting minor children.

Complaints from estranged families and bad press followed Dave McKay wherever he went and made his group appear toxic. No wonder McKay has chosen to rebrand his group online with a new name. Brother Dave even blurs his face and his followers are masked to obscure their real identity on YouTube.

YouTube is a popular venue for some groups called “cults,” who use it for recruitment and fund raising. McKay now has more than 3,000 YouTube subscribers.

One of the End Time Survivors videos states, “The information on this channel is coming from a lot of people and most of them have been able to hide their identity they do it for the express purpose of getting you to think about what is being said rather than making you depend upon some guru who will do all your thinking for you.”

However, this is exactly the reason that families and others concerned complained about the undue influence of Dave McKay, a religious guru who they said was thinking for their loved ones.

Don’t be fooled by this “kidney cult” or trust in Brother Dave’s supposedly divine revelations.

Instead, recognize the familiar pattern of a con man and cult leader feeding off of his followers to fulfill his ego.

Dave McKay expects his devotees to give up their identity, family, friends, virtually everything and anything upon demand, even at times their vital organs.

Beware of Dave McKay and his band of masked “End Time Survivors.”

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Claims in a lawsuit filed against cult specialist and court expert Rick Alan Ross and others were dismissed last month. United States Federal Judge Katharine S. Hayden ordered, “NXIVM’s claims against…Ross, the Ross Institute [now known as Cult Education Institute], [Dr. Paul] Martin, and Wellspring Retreat…dismissed in full.”

The legal action was filed against Ross by a relatively obscure self-help guru named Keith Raniere of Albany, New York who runs a group called NXIVM (pronounced nexium). Media coverage regarding Raniere has often focused on his wealthy followers, particularly Clare and Sara Bronfman, two heirs to the Seagram’s Liquor fortune of billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr. The Bronfmans have apparently backed many of Raniere’s schemes and lawsuits.

Raniere, whose followers call him “Vanguard,” sought to silence criticism of his large group awareness training (LGAT) programs staged through his company NXIVM formerly known as “Executive Success Programs” (ESP). Through ESP/NXIVM Raniere trains participants to believe in a composite philosophy he calls “Rational Inquiry.” Raniere appears to have largely copied ideas for his LGAT from Scientology, Ayn Rand, Werner Erhard and Amway.

Keith Raniere

Keith Raniere

Raniere was once an Amway distributor and later put together his own multi-level marketing scheme called “Consumer Buyline,” which ultimately failed when legal restraints were placed on Raniere.

The lawsuit known as NXIVM v. Ross, was first filed in New York and later moved to New Jersey. The litigation dragged on for more than a decade through a series of legal maneuvers and stalling tactics managed by NXIVM through its successive attorneys. The lawsuit centered upon three reports. Two by a psychologist and another by a psychiatrist about the NXIVM programs. Raniere didn’t like what the doctors had to say and so he sued both of them, Ross, the Cult Education Institute (formerly known as the Ross Institute of New Jersey) and others after the reports were published by the institute online.

Psychologist Paul Martin wrote one report titled “A Critical Analysis of the Executive Success Programs Inc.” and another “Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria of thought reform as applied to the Executive Success Programs.

Psychiatrist John Hochman wrote a report titled “A Forensic Psychiatrist Evaluates ESP.

A family hurt by NXIVM commissioned the reports and was also sued. One family member who had gone through NXIVM training provided study notes regarding the programs, which largely formed the basis for the doctors’ criticism of the LGAT. Raniere included members of the family as codefendants in the lawsuit filed against Ross.

Raniere attempted to obtain an emergency court injunction to remove the reports from the Web. But the injunction was repeatedly denied including on appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The reports have never been removed from the Cult Education Institute database and have remained intact and online throughout the litigation.

Raniere claimed defamation, copyright and trade secret violations because the doctors quote the study notes to make specific points in their reports.

Judge Hayden evaluated the defendants’ argument that quotes from NXIVM’s study notes constituted “fair use.” In her opinion she concluded, “The Second Circuit held that this fourth factor ‘weigh[ed] heavily in defendants’ favor.’ NXIVM, 364 F.3d at 482. ‘It is plain that, as a general matter, criticisms of a seminar or organization cannot substitute for the seminar or organization itself or hijack its market.’ Id. The Court agrees, and finds that defendants’ use of NXIVM materials was limited and protected critical reporting under the fair use doctrine. Defendants did not attempt to use the copyrighted work for commercial profits, for unfair business advantage, or as an attempt to compete. Insofar as plaintiffs characterize the psychologists’ articles as an attempt to undermine NXIVM’s business, the Court notes there are First Amendment concerns to be reckoned with. ‘If criticisms on defendants’ websites kill the demand for plaintiffs’ service, that is the price that, under the First Amendment, must be paid in the open marketplace for ideas.'”

Keith Raniere lost another lawsuit recently when U.S. District Judge Barabra M.G. Lynn dismissed his claims against AT&T and Microsoft. Raniere sued based upon claims that he held certain patents, which the companies had violated. However, his apparently false testimony unraveled the case. Judge Lynn subsequently awarded attorney fees and costs to both defendants, AT&T $935,300 and Microsoft $202,000.

Clare Bronfman

Clare Bronfman

Raniere has spent millions of dollars in legal fees and costs on NXIVM v. Ross alone. But the money to pay for such frivolous litigation comes from his wealthy supporters such as Clare and Sara Bronfman, not his own pocket. The Albany Times-Union reported that NXIVM “has swallowed as much as $150 million of their fortune.”

Meanwhile throughout the long NXIVM v. Ross litigation that ended last month in dismissal of all claims against cult specialist Rick Alan Ross, Dr. Paul Martin and the Cult Education Institute they were represented pro bono by a number of lawyers. Beginning with Douglas Brooks of Massachusetts and Thomas Gleason of New York and later by Peter Skolnik, Michael Norwick and Thomas Dolan of Lowenstein Sandler in New Jersey. And there was additional help provided by both Public Citizen of Washington D.C. and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Due to the dedication of these attorneys, law firms and public interest groups freedom of speech prevailed and a purported “cult” leader’s efforts to censor criticism backed by a billionaire’s daughters failed.

Note: Keith Raniere and NXIVM are mentioned within the book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” by Rick Alan Ross. Raniere’s training scheme is cited within a chapter about LGATs (large group awareness training).

Falun Dafa, more commonly known as Falun Gong, is recruiting on Boston University (BU) campus. The group, which has been called a “cult,” has weekly meetings attached to the Marsh Chapel at BU.

The Falun Dafa Club announced at the BU website that it wants to teach “exercises,” but the group will also “study spiritual teachings.”

College students have historically been targeted by groups called “cults” as a vulnerable demographic over the years going back to the 1970s.

BU has a history of exposing cult recruitment on its campus going back to the 1980s. Dean Robert Thornberg once opposed a group called the International Church of Christ, which was banned from many college campuses. He said, “I refer to it as a destructive religious practice.” Thornberg said that ICOC was “banned” at BU beginning in 1989 and he noted that “a whole bunch of other colleges use [the BU] model.”

Dean Robert Thornberg

Dean Robert Thornberg

Often when cults recruit students it can negatively impact their studies. In a 1989 interview Thornberg explained, “We figure in 1989, at the high point here, 40 students dropped out entirely to follow them. Two guys were second year medical school students. They dropped out after four years of college and two years of med school.” He added, “An awful lot of kids were swept up by [the ICOC] and the results were almost always a disaster.”

An authoritarian leader named Kip McKean led the ICOC. McKean was extolled as “The one man God has used above us all.” One ICOC leader explained within the group’s official publication, “There is no greater discipler, disciple, brother, husband, father, leader, and friend than Kip McKean. Some say it is dangerous to respect any one man that much. I believe it is more dangerous not to.”

Master Li

The authoritarian leader of Falun Dafa is Li Hongzhi, known to his disciples as “Master Li.” Purportedly imbued with divine authority Li supposedly knows “the top secret of the universe.” He says, “No religion can save people” only the “almighty Fa,” which Li exclusively represents.

Falun Dafa exercises and meditation are an introduction into the world of Li Hongzhi and his idiosyncratic teachings, which revolve around Li’s often egocentric claims.

Li Hongzhi

Li Hongzhi

Li Hongzhi’s teaches his followers that only he can install an invisible spinning “falun,” which is a mystical “wheel of law” within their abdomens telekinetically. This is the key to salvation, and the basis for incredible health claims, such as a cure for diabetes and the ability to reverse aging.

Falun Dafa practitioners believe that whatever Li Hongzhi says is right is right and whatever he says is wrong is wrong. Master Li’s authority is absolute.

The absolute authoritarian role of Li Hongzhi has caused many researchers and academics familiar with cults to see Falun Dafa as a personality-driven group that fits the description of cult formation.

Hateful teachings

CultNews has reported about Li Hongzhi’s racist and homophobic teachings. Li has said that “mixed-race people [are] instruments of an alien plot to destroy humanity’s link to heaven.” And that interracial unions are somehow part of “a plot by evil extraterrestrials.”

Li Hongzhi has also claimed that a “black substance” accumulates in the body due to homosexuality, which causes bad health. He labeled the LGBT community “disgusting,” and stated one day the LGBT community will be “eliminated” by “the gods.”

What will BU do to protect its students from this hateful and homophobic “cult” recruiting on its campus?

Will students be informed?

Will BU educate its students about the dangers of cults?

A new voice in Marsh Chapel?

Marsh Chapel

Marsh Chapel

Dean Robert Thornberg died in 2013. He was once the Dean of Marsh Chapel at BU. Thornberg oversaw religious activities at BU and taught at its School of Theology. “For 23 years he was the voice of Marsh Chapel,” according his obituary in the Boston Globe.

Now Falun Dafa has announced it will be a weekly voice within the “Room of Robinson Chapel, Marsh Chapel, Boston University.”

Note: The book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” has two chapters devoted to Falun Gong. One focuses on the history of the group and its leader and another about how an American family staged an intervention to get someone out.

Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille directed a documentary about a cult called the Source Family, led by Jim Baker, who called himself “Father Yod.” Baker’s followers worked at one of “America’s first vegetarian restaurants” in Los Angeles, which produced cash flow for the group that lived communally in Hollywood Hills. The essentially one-sided documentary presents Source Family as fringy and somewhat bizarre, but not sinister. The filmmakers apparently decided to depict Baker as an eccentric, but benign leader.

However, there is a blog online with first-hand account from a former Source Family member that paints an entirely different and dark picture of both Baker and his group. The blog “Life In The Source Family” recounts the often painful experiences of people that actually lived through and endured Baker’s authoritarian rule during the 1970s.

In a recent blog installment titled “My Own Moral Outrage” a former member of Source Family recounts, “Jim Baker’s own attitude and belief towards the women.” It seems Baker “decided as the group’s head honcho how women’s bodies would be utilized in his cult/group.” And Baker “never once asked what any of [his followers] wanted. He just expected everyone to obey his directives, along with instructing the women on what their roles or duties were to be; which was to be of service to the men.” Baker even referred to some of the women as his “milk cows.”

The blogger says, “It was not until ‘the family’ ended and we all dispersed and went our own separate ways that many former ‘source family’ members were able to deprogram themselves and look back critically and objectively at what we had been made to do/coerced to do while in ‘the source family.'”

Jim Baker aka "Father Yod"

Jim Baker aka “Father Yod”

So what about the rather rosy role of counter-culture trailblazer that Demopoulos and Wille seem to depict of Baker in their documentary?

“It is deceptive for those who continue to present only the window dressing of The Source Family to make it look appealing and to be viewed in a favorable light by the public leaving out entirely the fact that Jim Baker expected men and women to perform a sexual ritual, which caused more harm than good and that was the equivalent of a physical and psychological abuse of power,” states the morally outraged blogger.

The ex-member concludes, “The Source Family was a travesty of women’s rights and the rights of children to receive medical treatment; especially when it was available. It is time that people felt a moral outrage about men who think/believe that they should be the ones to decide what happens to a woman’s body or to the bodies of their own children.”

The Cult Education Institute (CEI) online library has archived articles about Source Family and its leader Baker. But these news reports and reviews largely reflect coverage of the documentary directed by Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille. In order to provide better balance the Source Family page within the CEI database now includes a prominently displayed link to “Life in the Source Family.”

Jim Baker is dead and like most cults when the leader dies the group often withers away and dissipates.

But there are many people that were hurt and scarred by Jim Baker and their stories should be known, not just the misleading hipster/vegan counter-culture narrative promoted by the Demopoulos and Wille documentary.

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Self-styled “counter-cult” crusader Anton Hein runs websites from Amsterdam in the Netherlands that are supposedly devoted to enlightening people about groups he calls “cults.” Hein preaches his particular brand of religion and leads a so-called “house church,” though he is not an ordained minister or recognized as an authority about anything. His main website where he sells advertising is called “Apologetics Index” and he also runs several other sites related to the subject of cults and/or religion.

Hein has cultivated quite a following on Twitter, where he has thousands of followers. But what most people don’t know about Anton Hein is that he is fugitive sex offender with a felony warrant issued for his immediate arrest in the United States.

Hein was charged and convicted for “the crime of LEWD ACT UPON A CHILD.” Hein sexually abused his 13-year-old niece.

Since his conviction, despite ultimately admitting his guilt in court, Hein now claims he was somehow really innocent. In a long rambling apology at his website Hein attacks the credibility of his victim rather than admitting his own sin, which according to Christianity, is a sign of true repentance. Hein instead lists the alleged sins of his niece.

Anton Hein (Police file photo  19940

Anton Willem Hein (Sex Offender file photo 1994)

Cult News recently received the official court records regarding Anton Hein’s criminal case. These documents are now posted online, which include Hein’s Declaration (plea agreement), Criminal Minute Order, felony complaint and the final Pronouncement of Judgement.

Hein says, “The lewd act I plead guilty to is applying sperm-killing cream at the request and insistence of my niece, after she had had intercourse with a boy.” Hein states that his niece subsequently “developed a vaginal infection.” And that “at the hospital the doctor determined there were scratches.” The doctor then reported the situation. The authorities responded to the doctor’s report by arresting and prosecuting Anton Hein. Apparently the doctor, police and prosecutor didn’t believe Hein’s “sperm-killing” story.

After reviewing the documents an interesting discrepancy became evident between Anton Hein’s public statements and his criminal record. Hein says there was only one incident, which led to his criminal conviction. However, the felony complaint lists two criminal counts. The first count occurred “on and between March 14, 1994 and March 20, 1994” and the second “on and between March 20, 1994 and June 14, 1994.”

So it seems, according to the court record, Anton Hein sexually abused his niece more than once and repeatedly committed a “lewd act upon a child.” Something Hein doesn’t admit in his long apology. Instead, he says there was only one incident, which was somehow misunderstood, that led to sex charges being filed against him.

Cult News asked Anton Hein to explain this contradiction for clarification, but received no response.

It should be noted that since his felony conviction, time served and registration in California as a sex offender Hein violated the terms of his release. There is currently a felony warrant issued for his immediate arrest if he ever attempts to reenter the United States. The warrant is listed under Anton Willem Hein at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s website.

Note: Anton Hein was contacted by CultNews to explain why he failed to mention that there are two child sexual abuse incidents in his criminal record. CultNews received no response.

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Children are dying of medical neglect needlessly while the Idaho State legislature dithers doing nothing to protect them.

The Idaho Statesman recently reported that five children died directly due to medical neglect because their parents belong to religious groups that don’t believe in modern medicine.

But rather than being prosecuted for manslaughter parents in Idaho are instead protected by a religious exemption.

Religious groups such as General Assembly of the First Born and Followers of Christ implicitly expect adherents to refuse medical care.

But does religious liberty preclude the right of child to live and somehow negate the responsibility of a parent to facilitate proper care? Certainly such needless deaths fit well within the realm of child abuse of the worst sort.

Parents have been charged, convicted criminally and sentenced to prison terms in other states for what apparently is considered a religious right in Idaho.

The Child Fatality Review Team annual report covered 2013 and now brings the total number of deaths to 10 since 2011 in Idaho.

All five dead children added to the list recently were infants.

Causes of death included birth-related complications and according to authorities they all could have been saved with proper medical care.

Why won’t Idaho protect helpless babies?

Well, Idaho Governor Butch Otter says that state lawmakers have agreed to at least talk about it, but so far there is no schedule even set for the promised discussion.

While the lawmakers look for an opening on their calendars children continue to suffer and die needlessly in Idaho.

Other states have removed religious exemptions regarding the medical care for minor children such as South Dakota, Oregon and Colorado.

When will Idaho act? How many more deaths will it take to convince legislators that changing the law is necessary?