“Sex cult” leader Keith Raniere and his accomplice Nancy Salzman are both now awaiting sentencing after multiple felony convictions. But in 2009 and 2010 the pair were riding high on Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman’s money and suing everyone and anyone. Now previously sealed depositions from one of their frivolous harassment lawsuits have been made public.

That lawsuit was NXIVM v. Ross, which dragged on for 13 years before it was dismissed by a federal court without ever going to trial. Raniere and Salzman spent millions of dollars (other people’s money) suing Rick Alan Ross, the Cult Education Institute (CEI) and other defendants.

The objective of such litigation was to silence criticism and purge embarrassingly revealing reports that analyzed NXIVM training seminars (aka Executive Success Programs) in a very unflattering light.

However, the reports first published by CEI written by doctors John Hochman and Paul Martin were never taken down and remained online throughout the litigation.

As part of this protracted litigation, that dragged on for more than a decade, Raniere and his sidekick Salzman, were deposed for hours under oath.

Raniere wanted this testimony forever suppressed and sealed so that no one would ever know what he and Salzman had admitted or lied about under oath.

However, now that Raniere is sitting in jail waiting to go to prison, probably for a very long time, and his cohorts in crime Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, “Smallville” TV star Allison Mack, nurse Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren Salzman, are all also awaiting sentencing, there is no one to oppose releasing this very revealing testimony.

CultNews now announces the online release of the Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman deposition transcripts. You can now read them within the CEI archives.

Many may say after reading this sworn testimony that Keith Raniere does not appear to be a “genius,” but rather seems like more of an “idiot” and a “con man.” 

Just point, click and read the transcripts that Raniere wanted sealed forever as follows:

The deposition of Keith Raniere March 11, 2009

The deposition of Keith Raniere March 12, 2009

The deposition of Keith Raniere May 13, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman June 8, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman June 9, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman June 10, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman October 14, 2010

In an ironic twist a newspaper run by Falun Gong, which has been described as a personality “cult,” reported about the life and criminal prosecution of “sex cult” leader Keith Raniere.

A “cult” reporting about a “cult”?

Raniere is the notorious founder of  NXIVM (pronounced nexium), a supposed self-improvement seminar selling company, which spawned criminal conspiracies, sex trafficking and racketeering.

Raniere was convicted of multiple felonies at his criminal trial in Brooklyn this month. And five women that followed him have plead guilty to criminal charges. They all are now awaiting sentencing beginning next month.

Keith Raniere (center) in court

Bowen Xiao, a reporter for The Epoch Times has written a series of articles about Keith Raniere and his crimes. The Epoch Times is run by Falun Gong practitioners who follow Chinese exile Li Hongzhi, known to his devotees as “Master Li.”

Li, like Raniere, has made preposterous self-aggrandizing claims concerning his intellect. Li also says he has supernatural powers.

The Epoch Times functions much like The Washington Times, run by the followers of Unification Church founder Rev. Moon, a self-proclaimed “messiah.” Both newspapers are propaganda tools used by purported “cults” to influence public opinion. See this article promoting Falun Gong written by Bowen Xiao recently published by The Epoch Times.

CultNews has received very serious complaints about Falun Gong, including accounts from families about loved ones that believe Falun Gong can cure diabetes and thus alleviate the need to take proper doses of insulin.

“Master Li”

Apparently, Mark Jackson, an Epoch Times writer, is the person that provided the leads to the newspaper regarding Raniere’s past. Jackson knew Raniere in the 5th grade. He “rode the school bus with him for four years.” 

Jackson said that Raniere had a “need to be special.” A female classmate said that Raniere was “arrogant” and liked to “show off.” Another observed that Raniere’s “ego was through the roof.” He was also a “loner.”

Interestingly, Jackson and Raniere attended a “Waldorf School” in upstate New York. Waldorf Schools are based on the writings of Austrian-born occultist Rudolf Steiner who died in 1925. Steiner’s controversial philosophy known as “anthroposophy”  includes a belief about a “hierarchy in races” and “reincarnation,” reported BBC. Steiner has been called a “racist” and the Waldorf Schools described as “cult” like.

A cult leader schooled by a “cult”?

One woman who knew Keith Raniere as a child told The Epoch Times, “He’s a sociopath, a narcissist. Everything was always about him. He was always bragging about how smart he was, how much better at math. He walked around like he was a miniature professor.”

Raniere was described as a master of manipulation during his criminal trial in Brooklyn. It seems that he began manipulating people at a very early age. A childhood acquaintance explained, “He knows how to find your weak spots and poke at them. He had a really gentle voice and gentle approach. It was deceptive, it could draw you in.”

One woman that Raniere often taunted told The Epoch Times that he could “isolate peoples’ weaknesses.”

Raniere also used “compromising information” he gleaned from someone to threaten them.  He told one girl, “You know, it’s like I have this little bottle of poison I can hold over your head” The girl recalled how Raniere terrorized her. She said, “He would call me sometimes and say, ‘Little bottles, little bottles.”

At the time Keith Raniere was reportedly “about 9 or 10 years old.”

“Some kids are born evil. Keith was born evil,” stated one woman who knew Raniere as a child.

Endnote: The quoted recollections about Keith Raniere come from an article written for The Epoch Times by Bowen Xiao, titled “Delving Into the Childhood of NXIVM’s Leader” published May 30, 2018.

 

Rev. Sun Myung Moon was often called a “cult” leader. His followers were labeled “Moonies” as they rampantly recruited at college campuses across America. Moon was a self-proclaimed “messiah” and the founder of the Unification Church.   He created spiritual empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars before dying in 2012 at the age of 92.

The purported cult leader’s legacy includes The Washington Times newspaper, which reportedly has lost more than $1 billion dollars and a seafood operation called “True World Group” with a fleet of boats, dozens of distribution centers across the US , which supply most American sushi restaurants.

Moon once said, “God is living in me and I am the incarnation of himself,” He further explained, “The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world.” Moon never achieved that goal, but he arguably conquered the sushi market of the United States. This was largely funded with cash collected by his followers and through the free labor they provided.

Rev. Moon and Mrs. Moon

Today Moon the “messiah” may be gone, but the substantial revenue of his sushi business and other substantial financial assets remain, such as the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan. The Moon family is very rich. And they continue to use their accumulated wealth to feed their egos and fund their pursuit of political power.

Two examples recently popped up in the news. One reported by the  The Korea Times is the about the so-called “Global Peace Foundation (GPF)” run by Rev. Moon’s son Moon Hyun-jin. The GPF has apparently achieved official “consultative status” granted by the United Nations Council. According to the U.N. website, “nonprofit organizations that have been granted general and special status can attend meetings of the council and issue statements enabling them to engage with…its subsidiary bodies.”

Son of Moon

The stated goal of Moon Hyun-jin is “to realize the vision of ‘One Family under God.'” Does that mean his family and the supposed “incarnation” of God, which was his father?

Whenever the Moons talk about God it usually means that a Moon is explaining what God wants you to do for the Moons.

Meanwhile Yahoo News ran a PR Newswire release about Rev. Moon’s widow Hak Ja Han Moon, the self-proclaimed “Mother of Peace,” running an event in Las Vegas. Hak Ja Han’s hoedown included a “22-piece orchestra” and a program “starring Grammy award-winning Gospel star Hezekiah Walker, Grammy-winning Christian and Country favorite Jason Crabb, Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning singer Kim Burrell, Stellar Award-winning singer Tasha Page Lockhart, Latina Gospel artist Joann Rosario Condrey and a 500-Voice Choir made up of local singers from across Nevada under the direction of Emmy award-winning producer A. Curtis Farrow.”

Wow!

That sushi money really goes a long way — from the UN in Manhattan to the glitzy Marquee Ballroom at the MGM Grand in “Sin City.” There was even an opening prayer given by a “prophet” from South Africa.

Mrs. Moon told the Vegas gathering, “America is in the position to create change. The time has come to welcome God as the true owner.”

“True owner”?

Could that be some kind of veiled cryptic reference to her dead husband the “incarnation”?  Mr. and Mrs. Moon were once called “True Parents” by their devoted followers.

Again, it seems that everything the Moons do is ultimately about the Moons and their sense of entitlement as true owners of so much.

Some scholars have attempted to consign groups like the “Moonies” called “cults” to the past, claiming that they were an apparition of the 1970s or the 1980s. However, with destructive cults persistently in the news this appears to be a failed thesis. And from what is reported about the Moons, it appears that even some of the old “cults,” are very much alive.

The Moons remain a shining example of how much money there is in the “cult” business.

By a concerned Jewish mother

Our family practiced Conservative Judaism. My son graduated valedictorian from high school and went on to the University of Pennsylvania where he was accepted into the Wharton school of business. This was the school of his dreams and economic and finance were his career aspirations.

Our son was a person who was always surrounded by a warm family and many friends. He excelled in almost everything he tried and he was the kind of person who always put other people’s needs before his own.

During his time at the University of Pennsylvania, he was active at the gym, joined a fraternity, and excelled academically. He won an award secured a position at a prestigious investment bank in New York. My son was at the cutting edge of his field, with a bright future and a role model to others.

But then he became involved in ultra-Orthodox “Jewish outreach” or Kiruv organization named Meor. During his second year of college my son was approached by Rabbi Shmuel Lynn of Meor. He was offered a large sum of money (for a college student) to attend a weekly lecture series, where he was supposed to become in touch with his “Jewish roots.” He was recruited into the so-called “Maimonides Leadership Program,” which purportedly would make him somehow become a “better person” and “successful leader”.

Rabbi Shmuel Lynn

He would attend weekly seminars and Friday “Shabbats” with other students who were raised within secular Jewish families or families that practiced Conservative Judaism or Union of Reform Judaism. These seminars were led by Rabbi Shmuel Lynn and culminated in a “FREE” trip to Israel and Poland where they were to learn about the Holocaust, the existence of God, and the importance of getting in touch with your Jewish roots.

When our son came home from the Israel trip, he had changed. He began to keep Kosher. He began to isolate himself slightly from his fraternity and his friends. He began to become more heavily involved in the Meor program. After graduating the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania our son sat down with his father and me one night while at a Sushi restaurant and announced, “I decided I don’t want to take my job at the investment bank. Instead I want to study in a Yeshiva in Israel – at Machon Yaacov.”

We pleaded with him to at least spend a few years working at the investment bank before make such an abrupt change. His father and I asked him if he would at least work for two years. And if he still wanted to give the Yeshiva a try after that we would be more likely to support it. He reluctantly agreed.

Our son moved to Manhattan and started working in the city for the investment bank. He lived with one of his fraternity brothers who also graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

My son went to weekly Shabbatons in New York and would met regularly with local Rabbis of the community. After one year of working at the investment bank he became involved in the West Side Kollel, Kollel Yisroel VeShimshon, where he met Rabbi Mordechai Prager. Shortly after that our son’s life took a drastic downward spiral.

Rabbi Mordechai Prager

First, our son declared that he would no longer work on Shabbat. And that he must leave work early to go and study at the Kollel. He also broke off an engagement after Rabbi Prager told him that he must honor “Chok Hanegiya” and was not allowed to be in the same room with his fiancé until they were married.

His relationship with his family also deteriorated. Our son’s behavior became erratic and he would run away in the middle of a sentence. He neglected his father, even when he became ill with lymphoma. He lost all care and interest in his niece and nephews.

Rabbi Prager and Rabbi Prager’s wife recommended that my son take time to study in Israel. He was then introduced to another rabbi in New York, whose name he never disclosed. This rabbi recommended that he go to study at Yeshiva Tehilas Shlomo, an ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva school run by a group of Haredi Litvak Jews. Our son was told by the rabbis not to disclose to us under any circumstances where he was going. He was also told to lie to his parents and told us that he would only be going for two months. And that he would be back soon to go back to work after completing two months of Yeshiva study in Israel.

Our son left in the middle of August 2017 to Yeshiva Tehilas Shlomo in Jerusalem, which is headed by Rabbi Pinchas Leibovic. At the end of September our son announced that he was not coming back. Not in one year. Not in two years. Now our son announced that he would stay at the Yeshiva for at least five years. He had no intention of going back to work or coming back to live in the United States.

My husband attempted to reach out to Rabbi Pinchas Leibovic. But his calls were not returned. My daughter’s husband tried to reach Rabbi Liebovic and after a dozen attempts, a disgruntled man picked up the phone and said “I can see why he left his family. If you were my family I would leave too.”

In December 2017 our family took a trip to Israel to visit a sick family member. Our son told us that he would not be able to meet with anyone or see anyone because it would cause too much conflict.

We decided to go to the Yeshiva he attended, which is located at Ramat Hagolan 57 in Jerusalem. We found our son living in a run-down apartment. He had not showered, was unshaved, pale, dressed in a black hat, white shirt, and a black suit, soiled and covered with stains. He looked unkempt and dirty. His face showed no emotion and instead he had a flat affect, and appeared subdued and depressed. He agreed to go to a restaurant, but would not eat any food.

At the end of our visit he thanked me, his father, sister, and niece for coming and gave them a hug.

We were able to persuade him to come home for a visit during Pesach. He returned home in 2018 six months after beginning his studies at the Yeshiva. Our son planned to visit us for two weeks. Immediately after coming off the plane, his brother-in-law noticed that he was quite withdrawn. Our son seemed restless and agitated in the car when music was playing and walked with his head down, looking at the ground. When he arrived home he announced that no one could enter his room to keep it free of Hametz.

We soon found out that the restrictions set up by his rabbis were endless, extreme, and very difficult to accommodate. He was not allowed to eat in restaurants, even if they claimed to be Glatt Kosher and were in Orthodox religious enclaves, including New Jersey and New York. Our son obsessively inspected every piece of food for very specific Hekshers. He would not use a phone, not even to navigate when he had to drive. He would not look out the window.

We agreed to all of his demands as best we could. We koshered our oven, even catered strictly Glatt kosher food and purged every bit of hametz per his instructions, following every rule he had been told by his rabbis.

But our son stopped talking to us. He would only read and study the Talmud. He woke up at 5 AM, dressed in a suit and tie, never showered, and left for the nearest ultra-Orthodox synagogue to pray or to some Hasidic Yeshiva to study. And when he was home he would pray by himself, reading his Talmud and isolating himself from everyone that was not ultra-Orthodox, including his family and old friends. He also said bizarre and completely uncharacteristic things. For example, during a Seder he mentioned that women do not need to use a pillow because “Women don’t need to recline, only men do.” This was rude and confrontational, which is totally unlike our son.

The rabbis from Yeshiva Tehilas Shlomo called our son as soon as Pesach was over. They wanted to check up on him to make sure he was following their restrictions and regulations in our home. After those phone calls, our son’s mood changed for the worse. He became stressed, overwhelmed, agitated, and restless. He was ill-tempered and curt with us. He stayed in his bedroom totally isolating himself. He acted depressed and did not readily communicate with us.

We were very worried about his behavior and asked our son if he would sit down and have a serious family discussion to address our concerns.

The next day, he announced that he was unable to stay in our home, eat any of the kosher food we had purchased, and was so uncomfortable that it was necessary that his visit be cut short. Instead of a two-week visit he ended up staying for only one week.

We begged our son and pleaded for him to stay and talk with us and have some quality time devoted to family interaction and discussion. He repeatedly refused.
My son was living in fear. He acted like he was in a state of horror. His mind was not his own.

Our son was transformed by Meor and a network of “Jewish Outreach” rabbis that completely changed his life through their undue influence. He was once independent, analytical, well-informed, free thinking, happy-go-lucky soul. Now he has been distorted into a miserable, tired, rigid, condescending, racist, and empty person dependent upon his “leaders” for every basic life decision.

Beware of the so-called “Jewish Outreach” movement promulgated by ultra-Orthodox rabbis like Rabbi Mordechai Prager. What they call getting in touch with your “Jewish roots” seems more like the kind of manipulation associated with “brainwashing” than legitimate Jewish studies. They recruit on college and university campuses much like controversial religious groups called “cults.” But they specifically target Jewish students. Everyone should be more aware about who they are and how they have negatively impacted Jewish families. Hopefully our story will help to enlighten people and serve as a warning.

Note: CultNews and the Cult Education Institute has received many complaints over the years from Jewish families about the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Outreach movement and its network of rabbis operating on college and university campuses across the United States. This heartbreaking account by a concerned Jewish mother is sadly not unique and instead seems to reflect the familiar pattern and practice seemingly understood within the movement. That is, to recruit Jewish students regardless of their existing denominational affiliation, submit them to intense indoctrination and then feed those recruits into cooperating yeshivas in Israel. Many of these students stay in their assigned yeshivas for years and some never return from Israel.

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Sherry Daniel, PhD runs something called “The Miracle School” from Seattle, Washington. Daniel sells her “miracles” online through the Web. For example, if you provide the headphones Sherry will somehow supernaturally make them miraculous headphones. She explains, “It is important to purchase headphones that have a band over the head and a padded earpiece that fully covers your ears. These more substantial kind of headphones give me an object that is sturdy enough to hold the kind of Miracle Link that make the headphones perform at this level of power.” Sherry concludes, “The Correct Exchange for the Miracle Link for the Headphones is US $70.”

Daniel’s devotees called “Heaven Agents” pay their heavenly hostess thousands of dollars for her “Source Directed” mystical powers. These spiritual gifts evidently can only correctly come through Sherry as apparently she alone is the only reliable “Direct Source Connection” in this world. But being connected through this exclusive channel isn’t cheap. Sherry cosmic “Miracle Tools” can get quite pricey.

Sherry Daniel explains, “There are several ways in which a Miracle Tool can be created: I provide the object and the Miracle Link that transforms it into a Miracle Tool. You provide the object and I provide the Miracle Link. This kind of Miracle Tool can be created in two ways: You can pick a Miracle Tool that I suggest, provide the object and I transform it into a Miracle Tool. I offer some suggested Miracle Tools in the list below to give you some idea of what is possible.”

Sherry Daniel

But then comes Daniel’s so called “Correct Exchange” rate. Sherry determines this somehow supernaturally. She says, “I then check in with the Design and Implementation Aspects of my Source Identity to see if this Miracle Tool can be created for you and if so, what the Correct Exchange will be. I then communicate this to you and you decide if you would like me to go forward with creating the Miracle Tool.”

Some self-proclaimed “psychics” have been arrested by police for using supernatural claims to bilk their clients. Psychic scams are not new or unique on the Web and Sherry Daniel’s brand of miracles has garnered criticism.

Someone not happy with Daniel’s influence states, “I have a sister who is a highly intelligent person, but she appears to be completely brainwashed by this Sherry Daniels cult. Through my sister I discovered they talk about aliens and how we are all connected and that Sherry Daniel is in fact God – the Source, as my sister refers to it all. She has pledged all of her money.”

CultNews has received complaints about Sherry Daniel. According to one source Daniel solicited and received thousands of dollars from one devotee in a matter of months for her supposed supernatural help.

What is Sherry Daniel up to?

Is she a psychic medium making money or a PhD trying to start a new religion?

You can watch Daniel lay out her cosmic plan through an online video.

Whatever Daniel is doing it certainly involves copious amounts of cash. And she effectively uses the World Wide Web like a net to catch customers.

Is Sherry Daniel like a predatory spider lurking on the Web?

People across America and around the world are scammed by self-proclaimed “psychics’ every day.

Some psychics claim that they can contact the dead, others say they can foretell the future and/or cure a supernatural curse.

In return for their spiritual services most psychics want cash or they often take payment through major credit cards.

Those who may use such services must note the number of psychics, which have been criminally convicted for fraudulent schemes.

Most recently a “Greenwich Psychic” was criminally charged for “identity theft.” The psychic, Janet Lee, known to her clients as the “Greenwich Psychic”, was busted in Manhattan.

Janet Lee, the It seems Ms. Lee (photo above) could not discern her fate. Apparently forging documents and posing fraudulently as someone else to rent an apartment was not destined to be one of her better ideas.

Lee was charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and indicted for identity theft, forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

It appears that Lee’s psychic business was profitable. She was reportedly attempting to rent an apartment under a false name for $6,000.00 a month.

Lee is also being sued by a former client in Greenwich, Connecticut. That client claims that the Greenwich Psychic bilked her for more than $30,000.00 in some sort of scam related to the lifting of a “curse.”

The Cult Education Institute has been archiving information about psychic scams since 1999. See the Psychics archive and review the criminal cases that center upon psychic scams.

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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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