According to two books Elvis Presley apparently couldn’t stand Scientology.

However, his ex-wife Priscilla and daughter/heir Lisa Marie are both now Scientologists and relentlessly promote the group.

Priscilla Presley seemed to disregard history when she recently discussed her ex-husband, insinuating that he had no experience with Scientology, reports MSNBC.

But Elvis did have extensive exposure to the organization and concluded, “These [Scientologists] want to control your mind, I think, so I’d never be interested in anything like that,” according to the book “Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley” by Suzanne Finstad. The King is also quoted to have said, “They’re just after my money and my name.”

In a strange twist it seems that Scientology eventually got both the Presley name and at least some of Elvis’ money, well that is posthumously.

And what would Elvis say if he could see what is happening now? One old friend quoted within the book “Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations From the Memphis Mafia” says that he would “shit a brick.”

Neil Bush, the brother of President George W. Bush, and Lisa Marie Presley both worked the nation’s capital last week in what seemed to be largely a Scientology effort to lobby congress.

Presley is the designated celebrity talking head for the “Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights” (CCHR) founded by Scientology.

Presley and Bush appeared before the House Committee on Government Reform to rap the use of Ritalin and other drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Presley also took time to interview with People Weekly to promote this effort.

It is interesting that United Press International reported crtically about the President’s brother’s appearance with Scientologists. Long-time Bush family friend Rev. Moon, founder of the Unification Church, controls UPI. Perhaps the two “cults” are mutually exclusive to the point of a bit of jealousy.

During the hearings Rep. Constance Morella (R-MD) pointedly exposed the CCHR as little more than a Scientology effort to discredit psychiatry, their perceived nemesis, reports ABC News. Morella quoted the CCHR’s international president, who described psychiatry as a “malignant disease” that “threatens society and ultimately mankind.”

L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology taught his disciples that mental health professionals are virtually Satanic. Perhaps this was because of Hubbard’s struggle with his own demons. He once requested psychiatric help and was apparently given to both fits of hysterical rage and seemingly pathological lying.

Whatever the personal reasons were, which may have motivated Hubbard’s vitriolic attacks against the mental health profession, one thing seems certain. Since Scientology sells itself as the best way to cure or “clear” the mind, psychiatry, psychiatrists and psychiatric drugs represent a competing alternative to their business. And what better way to shoot down the competition than stage an attack before Congress?

Leonardo C. Erobas, is the head of the “Espedeject Ideology: Global One Man Rule Program,” a bizarre cult within the Philippines. This group believes sexual acts with younger partners in public will somehow purify the soul.

Recently, Philippine Senators received Erobas’ manifesto. Enclosed with his encyclical were graphic photos to apparently illustrate the group’s practices, reports

Some of the photos sent included minors. There is now a call for an investigation.

Erobas says he is an “author, scientist, creator, founder, inventor, journalist, writer, maker, super being.” He also believes that the spirit of Ninoy Aquino, the deceased husband of Philippine President Corazon Aquino, occupies his body.

The global cult phenomenon can be observed everywhere. And the United States certainly has its own long history of bizarre groups, many that have exploited members sexually.

Frank Jones of Brooklyn, now lives near San Francisco and calls himself “Adi Da.” His followers believe he is “God” on earth. Mr. Jones, or “God” depending upon your perspective, often seems to require sex along with worship from his acolytes. Serious allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse have surfaced repeatedly regarding “Adi Da.”

Now deceased cult leader David Berg, who seemed to prefer being called “Moses” or “Mo” for short, led the “Children of God,” which he founded in California. Berg exploited children sexually and sent out his female followers to become quite literally “hookers for Christ.”

The difference between the Philippines and the United States, is that authorities in the Philippines seem less likely to tolerate criminal acts done in the name of “God.”

High-powered weapons were seized from the “Benevolent Christian Missionaries Association” during a raid September 24th in the Philippines, reports the Mindanoa Times.

The raid proceeded without incident. The cult’s leader and eight of his followers were taken into custody.

The “Benevolent Christian Missionaries Association” is a splinter group led by “divine master” Thomas Eugenio, that broke away from the larger and more prominent cult known as the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association” (PBMA) in the 1970s.

Ruben Ecleo Jr., leader of the PBMA, is now being held on murder charges.

Obviously, there is nothing “benevolent” about these fanatical and violent groups. And their only “missionary” work seems to be the recruitment of a private army.

Increasingly it seems that a cult following is developing within Russia regarding its current leader Vladimir Putin, reports The Globe and Mail.

The former KGB agent now President has an approval rating higher (70%) than his American counterpart George W. Bush. Books and songs have been dedicated to him and Russians seem to think he has brought respectability back to the Kremlin after years of bungled bureaucracy and sordid corruption.

But apparently unlike past Russian icons such as Lenin and Stalin, Putin reportedly wants no hero worship and discourages such reverence.

Historically totalitarian Communist regimes have produced quite a few personality cults such as China’s Chairman Mao, Kim Il Sung “The Great Leader” of North Korea and Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam.

Interestingly, when Stalin died, despite his brutality the people of Russia wept. And in North Korea today even though much of the population suffers from starvation they still appear to be loyal followers of “The Dear Leader,” Kim Il Sung’s son.

Putin is wise to discourage such hero worship. Historically, personality cults have not served Russian well, from the times of the Czars to its era of Commissars. Statues of Lenin are now toppled throughout the former Soviet empire and Stalin is viewed as almost Satanic. Putin can leave a more lasting legacy by acting as an agent for positive change rather than an icon.

According to Madelyne Toogood, authorities have “unfairly targeted” her because she is a member of a nomadic group called the “Irish Travelers, reports Fox News.

Toogood was video taped beating her 4-year-old daughter by a surveillance camera and later charged with child abuse. Her child is now in foster care.

The Irish Travelers have been involved in numerous frauds and Toogood’s husband has a rap sheet.

Apparently the group travels around the country engaging in fraudulent schemes and has been exposed through several scams and subsequent arrests.

Psychologist Margaret Singer, probably the most prominent cult expert of the 20th Century, has said that destructive cults are not unlike a “confidence game,” that never ends.

The Irish Travelers appear to be the “Cult of Cons.”

A long-time associate of Rev. Moon of the Unification Church has been appointed to head United Press International, the once powerful news wire service. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak has been named its chairman, chief executive officer and president, according to a UPI Press Release.

Kwak is also chairman of the Moon-controlled University of Bridgeport, CT and Sun Moon University in Seoul, South Korea. He chairs a number of Moon front organizations including the “International Federation for World Peace,” “Professors World Peace Academy,” “International Cultural Foundation,” “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification,” and the “World Culture and Sports Festival.”

Kwak’s predecessor at UPI D.M. Joo, another Unification Church member, will continue to head Moon’s umbrella organization News World Communications Inc., which is the corporate entity that controls UPI, The Washington Times, Insight, the World and I, Tiempos del Mundo and other Moon publications.

The Washington Times continues to lose millions of dollars annually and has yet to show a profit. And UPI seems fated to follow in its footsteps. However, concerns about money have not detered Rev. Moon from utilizing his media holdings as effective tools to obtain influence and political clout.

Famous White House reporter Helen Thomas ditched UPI the day after Moon took over and was quickly hired by Hearst News Service. Looking back, it seems she made a smart move.

Some groups called “cults” abruptly end or wither away after the founder dies. But Christian Science soldiered on after the death of its leader Mary Baker Eddy, though some say the church is now in decline.

In an apparent effort to raise its fading profile, the still wealthy organization spent $50 million dollars to build “The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity,” which will open its doors this weekend. The museum includes an extensive archive of Eddy’s writings that one Harvard professor called a “gold mine,” reports the Boston Globe.

However, one book visitors won’t find while mining for material at the new edifice is “The Healing Revelation of Mary Baker Eddy” by Martin Gardener, 1993. Gardner exposed Eddy as a rather typical cult leader focused upon her own personal power. He also details her fascination with spiritualism, morphine addiction and hysterical fits of rage. Eddy apparently also liked to sue her critics and was something of a plagiarist.

Mark Twain once said of Eddy’s writings, “I am convinced, that the circumstantial evidence shows that her actual share in the work of composing and phrasing these things was so slight as to be inconsequential.”

Eddy’s teachings encouraged her followers to reject modern medicine. Subsequently, Christian Scientists have often refused medical care for themselves and their children. This has led to the criminal prosecution of some of the sect’s parents.

“The Religion that kills—Christian Science,” by Linda S. Kramer, Huntington Books 1999, explains this destructive aspect of Eddy’s religious creation. But again, Kramer’s book is unlikely to be found on the shelves of the Eddy library anytime soon.

University of California student Thad Hammerhead III lived up to his name and hammered Scientology in his school newspaper, The State Hornet. He didn’t like a promotional ad insert placed by the group in a previous issue.

Hammerhead called Scientology the “C” word and claimed the “cult” was both “predatory” and “a tool of mind control.” Ultimately, he warned The Hornet that it risked its “integrity and honor” by allowing a “proven cult” space.

A Scientologist promptly responded that he was “outraged” by the student’s remarks and then offered his own personal testimonial, extolling the group’s benefits.

Lately, it seems there are more brave students (see “The Cougar” article) slamming Scientology in school papers than there are tough journalists reporting critically about the group in the mainstream press. It appears that most media types are fearful to say much about the group due to its reputation for litigation and harassment.

One example is Time Magazine, who ran a cover story “Scientology The Cult of Greed” in 1991, but then spent years and millions of dollars before winning dismissal of a lawsuit filed against it by the “cult.”

Scientology probably won’t subject Mr. Hammerhead to similar harassment, who is despite his name, a little fish.

Arthur Sandrock 62 is in jail charged with sexual assault. He victimized two girls beginning at the ages of 8 and 10, reports the Great Falls Tribune.

The victims say they were “brainwashed.”

Sandrock claimed to be the “High Lord of Yawe” and “Fourth Son of God.” He told the girls sex was the way they could “satisfy God through him” and avoid hell.

The cult leader was supposedly waiting for “an invisible ship from the vortex,” which “would carry him to …God.”

But now the “High Lord” is waiting for his day in court and says he was just crazy. One examining psychiatrist initially agreed, but others say Sandrock is faking, or intentionally exaggerating his symptoms.

The controversy surrounding Sandrock does seem a bit silly though. It shouldn’t be difficult to discern that destructive cult leaders are often crazy. Of course mental health professionals would prefer we use more concise terms like “paranoid schizophrenic” and/or “psychotic.”

Charles Manson and Jim Jones are just two obvious examples.

David Koresh like Sandrock claimed he was a “High Lord” and also used that status to extract sexual favors from his victims. Marshall Applewhite, a former mental patient who led his followers to suicide in San Diego, was waiting for a spaceship too. In this context, there is nothing new or even particularly unique about the jailed Montana cult leader.

The sad thing about cults is that group members often become so deeply dependent upon their leaders that they will follow them without question. And this can easily become a formula for disaster when the leader is insane.