The United Nations has granted three organizations controlled by “cult leader” Reverend Sun Myung Moon non-governmental organization (NGO) status. These NGOs are affiliated with his Unification Church.

Another Moon organization called the “World Association of Non-Government Organizations,” according to the International Herald Tribune, “falsely poses as the world voice of the voluntary associations.”

Rev. Moon, who historically has used hundreds of front organizations to advance his personal agenda as self-proclaimed world “messiah,” seems to have it in with the UN. But the “one world government” he envisions is with himself as its supreme leader or as his followers say, “True Parent.”

Three former Japanese followers of “cult leader” Rev. Moon of the Unification Church decided they didn’t like the spouses he chose for them and wanted out of their arranged marriages. According to Japan Today all three participated in one of Moon’s mass weddings, but later sued their former leader.

A court in Japan awarded the plaintiffs about $75,000 dollars in damages. The judge said, “The followers had no freedom to refuse the partners selected for them, and were made to believe that if they did not participate here, they and their ancestors would not be saved.”

Rev. Moon has been performing his own variation of “shotgun weddings” on a massive scale for many years. But instead of pregnancy making marriage necessary, it’s getting into Heaven. According to Moon singles cannot enter Heaven. Rev. Moon claims it was even necessary for him to officiate over the marriage of Jesus in “spirit world” to help get him in.

A bizarre “cult” called the “Raelians” believes cloning may offer them eternal life. Their leader Claude Vorilhon, now named “Rael,” formed his own company called “Clonaid.” The Times reported that Rael now claims to have successfully cloned the first human. But it’s difficult to believe a man who has also said that he received his “mission” instructions from an extraterrestrial being on top of a volcano.

Not unlike many cult leaders Rael has quite a self-aggrandizing bio. This includes meeting with Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and Moses when he traveled to another planet. But today he seems to spend most of his time in Canada and Florida. There are thousands of Raelian believers who follow this man.

According to Rael, Jesus was resurrected through some “advanced cloning technique.”

An apparent publicity junkie Rael has frequent press conferences to announce supposed breakthroughs. He says that cloning is only the first step. After that is successfully accomplished he will move on to the transfer of memory and personality from an individual to their clone. All this will eventually enable people to live forever.

Rael’s motto is “rationalize yourself to revolutionize humanity.” I guess that means anything goes. And when it comes to Rael this seems to be true.

The Naples Daily News recently interviewed Sister Mildred 91, one of the last Shakers.

This peaceful and simple sect is now almost extinct. Shakerism peaked in the 1840s, but has very few surviving members today. This is largely due to the communal society’s requirement that its members be celibate. Shakers only gain new members through conversion. It seems that increasingly fewer people were and/or are willing to embrace the group’s demanding and austere lifestyle.

The Shakers were founded in 1758 by Mother Ann Lee, who they regarded as the “second incarnation of Christ.” They immigrated to the English colonies under her leadership in 1774 and were one of many unusual groups that came to America seeking religious tolerance and freedom.

President Thomas Jefferson found Shaker writings fascinating, though Charles Dickens later said they were “grim.” However the utopian group may ultimately be best remembered for its legacy of simple furniture and folk art, widely appreciated for its craftsmanship.

Karen Robidoux, a member of the cult called “The Body,” is charged with the starvation murder of her year-old son. Jacques her husband has already been tried and convicted of first-degree murder for his role in the baby’s death. He testified that the group’s teachings and “visions” caused him to withhold solid food from his son.

Now Mrs. Robidoux’s attorney Joseph F. Krowski says he will use a cult version of the “battered woman’s syndrome defense” to explain his clients behavior, reports the Boston Globe. Krowski said that the 26-year-old mother was essentially bullied and brainwashed by cult members to cooperate.

Historically the “cult brainwashing” defense has not always fared well in court. Patty Hearst attempted to explain her behavior this way and was convicted anyway. Leslie Van Houten, of the infamous Charles Manson “Family” has been denied parole repeatedly, despite such an explanation regarding her crimes. But with Jacques Robidoux already serving an automatic life sentence in prison, perhaps the court will be more willing to consider such a defense for the young mother.

The jury in Karen Robidoux’s coming trial will be faced with a tough decision. When they deliberate they will likely discuss the apparent cult vicitimization of the defendant, but jurors will certainly be confronted by the facts concerning that cult’s ultimate victim, a defenseless year-old child.

In an article that repeats themes similar to many news stories that have appeared in recent years, writer Jim Baker of the Lawrence Journal draws distinctions between the beliefs of Wiccans, witches and the popular image of “Satanists.”

Generally, Wiccans, witches and/or Neo-Pagans may appear somewhat eccentric or unorthodox to most Americans, but are actually a rather benign lot. They typically don’t proselytize, “harm none” and mind their own business. But the claim often made by adherents, that their expression of Paganism or Wicca has a long and/or ancient history, has largely been historically dismissed.

Despite the television images of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” or Samantha her sit-com predecessor from the 60s show “Bewitched,” modern witches seem to fit more within the subculture of “New Age” believers.

Li Hongzhi’s devoted followers have been fined for obstructing public places in Hong Kong, reported Associated Press. And once again his people are putting their own spin on the story. It is interesting to see how many reporters in the Western media are taken in and essentially get it wrong when it comes to Falun Gong.

The leader of what China calls an “evil cult” seems to repeatedly seek confrontational situations within China and abroad by proxy through his devoted followers. And though the group is outlawed in Mainland China it is legal in Hong Kong.

Now Hongzhi’s people say they are being “persecuted” in Hong Kong and that China no longer honors the “one country, two systems” promise it made before absorbing the former British colony.

However, Falun Gong not unlike anti-abortionists extemists within the United States, is subject to laws regarding its actions. And like American authorities, the government in Hong Kong is doing something about the behavior of demonstrators. Obstructing public access and creating a nuisance is against the law in both countries. In the US anti-abortion activists have been arrested, prosecuted, fined and/or subjected to lawsuits and punitive damages.

But despite the obvious comparisons between fanatics in both countries, many within the American press seem to prefer a rather one-sided and “politically correct” view of Falun Gong.

The Universal Church Kingdom of God, based in Brazil and led by multimillionaire Edir Macedo, “bought an old movie house in Great Britain, according to the Walthamstow Guardian. Macedo was once arrested for fraud and has been accused of laundering money for drug cartels. He claims that millions attend his churches, but the church has been called a “crime organization.” Macedo often buys old cinemas, which is a cheap way of creating large halls to convene his faithful. He also owns a former movie house in downtown Los Angeles.

The church typically targets Spanish speaking communities and has caused controversy wherever it goes. In Brazil one of its leaders desecrated a statue of a Brazilian saint on television, which started street riots. Former members and leaders say the church expects “excessive tithing” and essentially is focused upon fleecing its flock.

A standard service at the Universal Church Kingdom of God often includes emotional exorcisms. This can be quite a show, that frequently includes screaming and general hysteria. Typically a church member is told that some personal problem is really “satanic” in origin and they are brought before the congregation to be “delivered” from its control. A kind of religious theater then begins, culminating in a “casting out” of the dreaded demons.

It seems that the old cinema in Britain recently bought by the Macedo church now has a new feature showing, with regular performances every Sunday.

Lee Harris wrote a long analysis about al-Qaeda and September 11th, which was published by the Wall Street Journal. His somewhat pedantic article goes on about everything from Aztec King Montezuma, to the game “Dungeons and Dragons.” Harris ultimately makes the point that Osama bin Laden was an actor within a kind of “theater” based upon “radical Islamic fantasy ideology.”

He concludes, “We are fighting an enemy who has no strategic purpose in anything he does–whose actions have significance only in terms of his own fantasy ideology.”

However, Harris failed to cite bin Laden’s most obvious parallels, such as Shoko Asahara of Japan, who gassed the subways of Tokyo in 1995 to initiate “Armageddon,” or Charles Manson who believed a series of murders would facilitate his fantasy called “Helter Skelter.” Both men, like most destructive cult leaders, were possessed by “fantasy ideology.”

Simply put Osama bin Laden can easily be seen as both a cult leader and a psychopath. And the “martyrs” who murdered some 3,000 Americans on September 11th, as his “brainwashed” followers. To see the longer version click here.

Another cult leader thinks he’s Jesus and this one has 4,000 Russians who believe him, reports the London Telegraph. The followers of Sergei Torop have gathered from all over Russia to meet the man who says, “I am Jesus Christ…It was prophesied that I would return to finish what I started.” But unlike Jesus of the New Testament, this “Redeemer” has a wife and six children. I wonder which one is Jesus Jr.?

Russia is experiencing a virutual “Renaissance,” regarding cults and sects.