By Joan Jones

I became aware of the man known as Nature Boy nearly a year ago. I was following a YouTube channel whose objective was exposing an impostor pretending to be a psychologist. Periodically, I would receive a recommendation for videos featuring someone named “Nature Boy.” I ignored them. But eventually I clicked on one of the videos. What I saw was discomfiting.

I would describe Nature Boy as tall, somewhat unkempt, and erratic. He was shirtless and wearing a sarong. He seems not particularly bright or articulate. In fact, his vocabulary was street. But he has the skills of manipulation often associated with a good charlatan or charismatic con man.

Beliefs of Carbonation

Nature Boy preaches that the “end times” are near, and that he is the messiah. His rhetoric includes a theory about people of color living close to the equator. According to him, this is imperative for maintaining health and peace of mind. One must leave what he calls “Babylon” (America) and live a natural lifestyle in the Tropics. There, people must eat his version of a B6 diet, and defecate at the base of trees. There will be no need for a doctor or medication. In the world of Nature Boy, all disease is psychological.

As I listened, it all sounded like some bizarre mixture of organized religion, astrology, and new age concepts. A rational person might conclude that Nature Boy is spouting moronic nonsense to be believed by no one. However, our history with groups called “cults” founded by charismatic authoritarian leaders, reflects otherwise. And Nature Boy has been called a “cult leader.”

Names change of Nature Boy and his followers

Originally, Nature Boy called his group the Etherians. Then, it became Melanation. Later the name was changed again to Carbonation.

Nature Boy’s real name is Eligio Lee Bishop. He has also used the name Eligio Prada.

Bishop’s background and criminal record

Arrest records from the state of Georgia show his birth date as April 29, 1982. He is now 37 years old. Bishop’s past criminal charges include forcible entry, theft, aggravated battery, and driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

Eligio Bishop aka “Nature Boy”

By his own admission, Bishop is a former barber, model, gay escort, stripper, and porn star.

Nature Boy is not his only title. His spiritual awakening also propelled him to become, Father Tehuti/ Master TeacherTehuti/ Father Nature, Most Honorable Chief Eligio the Christ/ Commander and Chief of the Earth Plane/, Master Chief Eligio the Christ, Immortal Chief, etc.

Nature Boy’s idyllic place to build his nation was Latin America. But Bishop does not speak Spanish. Nor do most of his followers. He insists that it is the warm climate that led him to Central America. However, I think it had more to do with getting away with deeds you could not get away with in America. Mainly, the abuse of women and children.

Cult moves through Central America

So far, Bishop has set his group up, which can be seen as a personality-driven “cult,” in Honduras, Belize, Costa Rico, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. However, if he thought these nations would look the other way at what seems to be essentially a sex cult, he was wrong; because, it seems he was kicked out of every single country he landed in.

A new identity

When one joins Carbonation, all assets must be turned over to Nature Boy. Members then receive a new identity. They discard their birth names or as Bishop says, their “Babylon” name. Bishop then bestows upon his followers new names. Bishop’s followers must also release what he calls “attachments.” These “attachments” are families left in America. When referring to those families, his followers are taught to dismiss them as their “Babylon Family.” Their new family is Carbonation.

People have left partners and minor children to join Carbonation. One woman left her four children in America to become a wife of one of the members. Though Nature Boy has fathered children with women in the group, he also abandoned children in America. Does this all sound familiar?

Women in Carbonation

A woman’s place in Bishop’s group will not surprise those familiar with male authoritarian leaders. Women are classified as inferior to men. Women gaining a measure of equality is what Bishop says is wrong with Babylon/America. Women are to be subservient, docile, and bear children. This is their only purpose in life. Women must also be willing to accept the true nature of a man and that true nature is polygamy. Bishop says that it’s man’s destiny to have as many wives and father as many children as he can.

Nature Boy loves to boast of where he learned his concept of manhood, which is within prison. Think about that for a minute.

When discussing sex Bishop uses pornographic terms. He gloats about the sex he has had with his wives and other women in the group. He’ll speak about their genitals using detailed, explicit and often vulgar terms.

With the sex, there is often violence within this group. There is a video of Bishop abusing one of his wives while she was holding a baby. There is a video of him bragging about beating another wife.

Several weeks ago, Bishop reverted back to his days as a stripper. While dancing, he began to simulate sex acts with his wives. Later, Bishop displayed his wives face down on a bed wearing only a thong.

Women in Carbonation may find that sex acts may be videotaped and uploaded on porn sites. This is what Nature Boy did with two of his so-called wives.

Click here to see Bishop talking about physical abuse of woman.

Does this describe the new messiah?

Social media rants

Social Media is the cornerstone of Carbonation. Bishop exploits all of its platforms. He utilizes them to preach his dogma, beg for donations, and attract new wives. He has thousands of followers online, and has collected thousands of dollars.

The seemingly psychotic behavior Eligio Bishop so boldly exhibits online contributed to his deportation from Latin America. It appears that no nation or rational person would want him in their midst.

There are times online while professing to be Christ, Bishop will give an impassioned sermon laced with profanity and racist expletives. Christ is not the only identity he’ll assume. He may emerge in what looks like a Shia Muslim turban claiming that he is Muslim. Bishop can also be seen lecturing drunk online wearing what amounts to a cheap knockoff of an American Indian War Bonnet.

Click here to see some online rants by Eligio Bishop

Carbonation death

The physical and sexual abuse of women is not the only evil within Carbonation. Though most of the cult members are in their 20s and 30s there was a middle-aged woman who joined the group. Her name was Magdalena “Maggie” Sevilla. Nature Boy changed her name to Mamma Dia. She appeared to be in her late 40s or early 50s. She had a heart condition that was stabilized with medication. It is alleged that Nature Boy told her to stop taking her medication. Bishop claims that all diseases are psychological. Two months after joining the cult, Magdalena Sevilla died. Her family had to solicit donations online to return her remains home. There are other allegations of deaths associated with the Bishop cult.

Child abuse

One of the most disturbing videos online is of Nature Boy abusing his son. There is also video of him boasting of having sex in front of children. There is a video of Bishop explaining that he allowed his son to touch his penis after having sex with the child’s mother.

Click here to see Eligio Bishop share his thoughts about women and children.

Cabonation diet and health

The so-called B6 diet the group lives on has left them looking sickly and malnourished. It seems to me that if the parents are sickly, then the children are unlikely to be healthy.

There are allegations of sexually transmitted diseases within the group. There are two members that admitted online that they have Herpes. There are allegations that have circulated since the beginning of Carbonation, that Nature Boy is HIV positive. Bishop recently uploaded a video of him taking a home HIV test. According to him, there results were negative.

Online followers and the media

When you view Carbonation online, you will see a group of about 12 to 17 people. But Eligio Bishop has thousands of online followers. In addition to his wives in the group, Bishop also has virtual wives online.

There is a video of one of his female followers abusing her son based upon the ideology she learned online from Nature Boy.

The BBC has reported about Carbonation. In 2017, they did an entire documentary on the cult. CBC in Canada also reported on Carbonation in 2017 after a Canadian citizen joined the cult.

The Latin American press has posted numerous articles. The only press that has somehow largely overlooked Bishop is the American press.

Bishop deported

Finally, on or about December 5, 2019, the Panamanian Police arrested Eligio Bishop and the members of Carbonation. They were deemed a threat to Panama’s national security, and were immediately deported.

Guess where they’ve been deported to?

Back in the United States

On December 6, 2019, a video was posted on YouTube of Bishop/Nature Boy ranting about those he perceived had reported him to the Panamanian Police, which led to his deportation. Bishop then claimed to be in Texas. But now, it appears that he is living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Social media petitions

Numerous attempts have been made to remove Nature Boy and Carbonation from social media. There is an online petition concerning this.

There was some success in getting Nature Boy expelled from Facebook.

Bishop was briefly suspended from Instagram.

However, Bishop the uses the accounts of his followers.

Despite Carbonation’s long and continuous condemnation of the United States, Bishop mocking people who live in the US, his perverse online behavior and the fact that the group was kicked out of six Latin American countries. Eligio Bishop and his followers apparently are able to return to the United States unscathed and operate unfettered by authorities.

Beware. Eligio Bishop and his followers within Carbonation remain online and they are recruiting new members.

CultNews recently received some interesting questions from a reader concerned about President Donald Trump.

The reader said, “I often wonder if my cousins are members of a cult. They worship Donald Trump. He has become a god-like figure in their lives and no matter what Trump does, their feelings do not change.”

The reader then asks, “If this is the case, will they ever change? I cannot talk with them because they see me as some type of liberal demon. It’s uncomfortable to be around them so I just stopped trying to have a relationship. What do cult leaders really want? What do their followers want?” 

Analysis by Rick Alan Ross

CultNews response

Donald Trump is not an absolute authoritarian “cult” leader like a Jim Jones, Charles Manson or David Koresh. He was democratically elected and is subject to congressional oversight, judicial review by the courts and must run to be reelected. The President of the United States is also constitutionally limited by law to no more than two terms (eight years) as president. None of this matches the history or narrative of cult leaders like Jones, Manson and Koresh.

Trump supporters do seem to be narrowly focused on frequently partisan news sources, which can affect their critical thinking, but these sources of information fit within the boundaries of propaganda and are not part of the framework of an intentionally planned thought reform program (“brainwashing”) run by Donald Trump.

Trump supporters are not cult victims

Moreover, most Trump supporters already shared and appreciated Donald Trump’s ideas, feelings and attitudes before they voted for him. He didn’t change them deceptively through coercive persuasion without their knowledge and consent. Instead, like a savvy salesman, Donald Trump effectively shaped and marketed himself and his brand in response to the Republican base. He implicitly understood what that political base wanted in a candidate, which is why he won its primary. And his persistently precise perception of the attitude of the majority of Republican voters has repeatedly proven to be correct according to his polling numbers.

Trump supporters are not cult victims. Specifically, people that support Donald Trump are typically not happy about recent changes in the United States. This includes concerns about the shifting demographics of the country, immigration, increasing frustration regarding “globalization” through entities like the UN and various international treaties and agreements, growing discomfort about interdependent world trading markets, rejection of LGBT rights such as gay marriage, fears about the centralization of government and unhappiness about certain women’s rights such as reproductive choice. Many Trump supporters are also upset about questions being raised about gun rights. There is also substantial resentment and suspicion amongst Trump supporters about the influence and power of the “intellectual elite.” And religious leaders that support Donald Trump seem to be deeply troubled by decreasing church attendance and the corresponding decline of religious influence in the United States.

Trump did not need to implant these preexisting attitudes and concerns through “mind control,” which was already there and quite evident within the Republican base. Again, like a good salesman Donald Trump simply effectively marketed himself by tailoring his presidential campaign to concisely capitalize on existing concerns abundantly evident in the Republican base.

In his soon to be released book “It Was All a Lie” author Stuart Stevens interestingly concludes that Donald Trump ultimately represents today’s “Republican party in a purified form.” Stevens, a purported “veteran Republican strategist,” writes, “There is nothing strange or unexpected about Donald Trump. He is the logical conclusion of what the Republican party became over the last 50 or so years.”

Cultural divide

Summarizing the situation, Trump supporters appear to be generally uncomfortable and/or unhappy with recent cultural change in America. And to a large extent there are cultural lines of separation, or a cultural divide, which has become increasingly apparent between urban and rural Americans, as well as between coastal Americans and those that live within the middle of the country.

Apparently, Americans that support Donald Trump feel that he represents meaningful resistance to unwanted change. And Trump supporters think he can reverse certain cultural trends. Trump’s most popular slogans and mantras like “Build the Wall” and “Make America Great Again” seem to reflect this sentiment.

Some cult-like aspects, but not a “destructive cult”

There are aspects of Donald Trump and his supporters that may appear at times to be cult-like, such as Trump’s rather narcissistic seemingly messianic claim made in 2016 that “only [he] can fix this,” or his supporters apparent penchant for cognitive dissonance. CultNews commented about this in 2016. But it’s just too simplistic to dismiss an entire political movement and a democratically elected president as a “destructive cult” without noting the distinct differences that separate Donald Trump from historical cult leaders and his supporters from the victims of destructive cults.

Instead of characterizing devotion to Donald Trump as a “cult” without qualification, it’s preferable, more objective, accurate and concise to recognize the nuances and complexity of the cultural currents and rifts that are polarizing Americans. Donald Trump may have a kind of fan base or “cult following” like many celebrities, but he does not match the criteria that defines cult leaders who have historically exercised virtually limitless unchecked dictatorial power over their followers. Trump is also not empowered by a deliberate “brainwashing” process deceptively done through a premeditated intentionally planned thought reform program with the goal of “mind control.” It serves no useful purpose to reduce the word “cult” to a “buzz word,” rather than recognize its precise range of meaning and boundaries.

Deprogramming Trump supporters?

It’s also important to note that true believers cannot be “deprogrammed” regarding their personally held individual beliefs. Simply put, they were not programmed in the first place and therefore cannot be deprogrammed. Such true believers may eventually become disillusioned and move on, but this will be a personal choice, not the result of an intervention.

Historically, cult deprogramming is essentially an educational process, which centers upon the examination and unwinding of a thought reform program deceptively used without informed consent and knowingly maintained by a group or leader that uses coercive persuasion. This does not fit the profile or the circumstances of typical Trump supporters who already agreed with and endorsed Donald Trump’s core beliefs and the proscribed path he promised to implement for the United States.

Politicizing the word “cult” and using it to label Trump supporters serves no useful or constructive purpose. It dismissively demonizes a majority of the Republican party and other voters that support Donald Trump without recognizing their preexisting personal sentiments. This inaccurate labeling also denigrates the suffering of real cult victims.

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving rather than being confrontational with relatives that disagree with your politics, it’s preferable to avoid conflict and instead focus on the family values, which you share in common. Talk about happy memories that confirm those values and earnestly express your appreciation for the opportunity of gathering for another Thanksgiving dinner together.

Thankfully we live in a free country, not a cult compound, where each election cycle provides an opportunity for American citizens to cast their vote privately and decide what changes will ultimately prevail and/or who will be the President of the United States.

Rick Alan Ross is a judicially qualified and accepted court expert witness who has testified in ten states including United States Federal Court concerning controversial authoritarian groups, some that have been called “cults” and the coercive persuasion techniques they frequently employ.

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Steven Hassan, author of the “The Cult of Trump,” a book that is very critical of those who mislead people, seems to have a problem with the facts himself. Hypocritically, Hassan lambasts President Trump for distorting the truth, while he deliberately conflates his own CV with false claims of professional status and even a fictional medal of honor.

Hassan says that he is a teacher and/or instructor at both Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School. However, Harvard University does not list Steven Hassan as occupying any official teaching position through its faculty locator. In fact, Steven Hassan is not even so much as mentioned anywhere on the Harvard University website.

Hassan apparently deliberately misled multiple media outlets about his professional status. WMNF Radio host Rob Lorei states at the broadcast’s official website that “Hassan now teaches at Harvard Medical School.” The Daily Beast also reported that Steven Hassan “teaches at Harvard Medical School.” And The Daily Mail in the UK describes him as “Harvard Medical School teacher Steven Hassan.”

Hassan’s CV specifically states that he is “Member of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law at Massachusetts Mental Health Center- A teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.” Hassan also states that he was a “participant” at a Harvard Law School “workshop.” But participating in a program or a workshop does not confer any official teaching status upon Hassan at Harvard.

Steve Hassan with his book

Hassan’s Facebook page shows a photo of him apparently volunteering at a Harvard program. But again, volunteering is not the same as having a faculty appointment as an instructor or as a teacher at Harvard University.

Hassan’s CV lists Harvard several times, notably Harvard Law School. Hassan states that he was a “participant in Trial Advocacy Expert Witness Workshop.” On his Facebook page Hassan says he has been an “instructor” at Harvard Law School five times rather than simply a “participant.” Interestingly, Hassan doesn’t list any expert witness work or any court jurisdiction where he has been qualified, accepted and testified as an expert witness on his CV.

There is a Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard with an expert witness component, but Steven Hassan isn’t mentioned anywhere in the workshop description, which denotes the inclusion of “experienced trial lawyers and judges who teach as volunteers during the workshop.”

CultNews contacted Harvard University directly for comment. The Office of Faculty Affairs at Harvard Medical School responded unequivocally that there is “no record of Steven Hassan currently holding or having held in the past a faculty appointment at the medical school.” That is, despite the fact that there are thousands of full- and part-time faculty members consisting of assistant, associate, full professors and part-time instructors, Steven Hassan is not and has never been one of them. Melody Jackson, spokesperson for Harvard Law School, told CultNews that Hassan has never held any faculty appointed teaching position as an “instructor” at Harvard Law School.

Update: Steven Hassan has been busy apparently doing “damage control.” The day after this CultNews report appeared Hassan apparently sought and received a one-page letter from the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (75 Fenwood Road in Boston), which was subsequently posted on Facebook (the link is now restricted though CultNews has a copy). The letter is signed by Angie Mines, Residency Program Coordinator. The letter consists of one short paragraph. Ms. Mines writes that Hassan has been “teaching an elective course” for psychiatric residents. Addressed “To Whom This May Concern” Mines states, “If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.” CultNews contacted Ms Mines who seemed surprised that her letter was posted online. When asked specific questions such as is Steven Hassan paid to teach? And is teaching at the Harvard affiliated Longwood Hospital the same as “teaching at Harvard Medical School”? Ms. Mines replied, “I will have to talk to the program director.” Ms. Mines later concluded in an email, “As advised by my supervisors, I’m not going to be providing any further information.” Mines has since requested that her name and contact information be removed from her letter, which is now linked from Hassan’s website. Hassan later posted a letter signed by a doctor that says he has been “a valued invited presenter” at a Harvard affiliated hospital where the doctor co-teaches a course. Steven Hassan has also added a link to a video of one of those presentations. Apparently, Hassan has been a volunteer at the hospital as a guest speaker for a classes there. Steven Hassan has also recently recruited people to email CultNews in an apparent effort to pressure CultNews to remove this article. Hassan now insists that he is “teaching at programs that are part of Harvard Medical School” [see “The Truth About Steven Hassan”]. However, no one from Harvard Medical School confirms his claim. None of the letters posted confirm this claim and more specifically, certainly not Harvard Medical School. Hassan continues to perpetuate this misleading mythology about his supposed Harvard teaching status in an article he wrote for Medium (April 12, 2020) criticizing Donald Trump for “misinformation” and “falsehoods.” Medium states in a disclaimer, “per our Policies, but we don’t fact-check every story.”

But Hassan does have at least one proven personal and professional link to Harvard Medical School.

Steven Hassan’s wife Misia Landau who received a PhD in anthropology from Yale University and a Diploma in human biology from Oxford University, taught at Harvard prior to becoming a senior science writer at Harvard Medical School. Landau left her position at Harvard in 2009.

Hassan received his Masters degree from Cambridge College, which features online education. The college has a branch near Harvard. Hassan says he is currently working on a PhD from Fielding Graduate University, which is also known for its distance online educational programs.

Hassan also lists Boston University School of Medicine, but not specifically as an employer. It appears that he may have done volunteer talks at some hospital programs, again without any official status.

Steven Hassan is licensed as a Mental Health Counselor by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But it must be noted that a serious complaint was filed against Hassan by a former client. The Massachusetts licensing board charged Hassan with an ethical violation for breaching client confidentiality. Hassan was prosecuted, but ultimately the matter was dismissed without prejudice in November 2012. The board warned Hassan that any further failure to adhere to its ethical standards might “result in disciplinary action against [his] license.”

In addition to Hassan’s ethical lapses and conflated teaching status at Harvard he also claims to have received a nonexistent medal of honor. At his CV under the heading “Honors” Hassan lists the so-called “Jerusalem Medal,” which he implies was awarded to him by the Director General of the Israel Ministry of Social Affairs.

In fact, there is no such honor known as the “Jerusalem Medal” awarded to anyone by the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs.

In 2010 the Israeli agency’s Director General Nahum Itzkovitz visited the United States and while in New York he gave out a few token gifts of appreciation to some people that were helpful to his research. CultNews has what Hassan calls a “Jerusalem Medal” sitting on an office shelf, but it’s merely a souvenir memento with the word “Jerusalem” engraved on a small metal medallion displayed on a little wooden stand. It has a sticker on the back, which says that it’s a “gift” from Director General Itzkovitz.

Steven Hassan seems to have penchant for conflating his CV and also behaving badly with clients. CultNews has received many complaints over the years.

Cult leaders often conflate their biographies in an effort to impress people and are known for their ethical lapses. Hassan’s attempt to mislead the media and public, while simultaneously criticizing others for deception, is really rather rich isn’t it?

More information about Steven Hassan

Serious complaints about cult specialist Steven Hassan

Cult Watcher Steve Hassan’s links to fugitive sex offender

Steve Hassan fans want “information control”

Third installment of Steven Hassan’s trilogy adds little understanding

Disclaimer regarding Steve Hassan

Postscript: Steven Hassan has changed his CV since this report was published online (CultNews has screenshots and a printed copy of the original). He has somewhat softened his claims concerning any official teaching status at Harvard. Hassan has also changed his “Honors” heading to “Honors and Awards” and added that his so-called “Jerusalem Medal” was “given with gratitude.” However, Hassan still won’t admit that he never received a “medal,” only a souvenir gift, which has no special status or meaningful significance to credibly list on his CV. Hassan has also apparently encouraged a number of his devoted supporters to post as his seeming surrogates on Facebook in an attempt to discredit this report. However, CultNews firmly stands by its reporting and fact checking.

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“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.