A follow up: As it turns out Noelle Bush could have gone to “SAFE” in Orlando, a drug rehab facility endorsed and personally supported by her father. But she was sent to another Orlando drug treatment facility instead.

Jeb Bush and his wife Columba both serve on the advisory board for the “Drug Free America Foundation,” the latest incarnation of “Straight,” a controversial drug treatment program founded by Mel and Betty Sembler.

Mrs. Sembler was once the Florida governor’s campaign co-chair and he subsequently declared a “Betty Sembler Day” in honor of her anti-drug work.

Despite that singular honor Sembler’s Straight was embroiled in scandal and lawsuits. Eventually its facility in Orlando was shut down. But the same day Straight closed its former executive director opened “SAFE.”

Governor Bush has since endorsed SAFE and visited it personally.

Two years ago SAFE, like its predecessor Straight, faced allegations of abuse. Those allegations became the focus of a Miami WAMI TV expose. But Jeb Bush still endorsed SAFE.

However, when it came time for the governor to confront drug problems within his family, his daughter didn’t go to SAFE in Orlando for her treatment. Instead, Noelle Bush was sent to Orlando’s “Center for Drug Free Living,” where she was later caught with crack cocaine.

What happened?

Did the court specifically order Ms. Bush to enter that facility, or did Governor Bush decide that despite his personal visit and previous endorsements, SAFE just wasn’t safe enough for his own daughter?

Jim and Tammy Faye Baker developed a cult following for their special brand of tearful televangelism in the 80s. However, this ended abruptly when Mr. Baker was sent to prison for a fraud conviction.

Tammy Faye did not “stand by her man.” Instead she divorced Baker, but not her trademark mascara.

Now Jim Baker at 62 prefers attempting a comeback rather than early retirement, reports Knight Ridder. He will broadcast a new show from a restaurant. It’s not clear what the former televangelist has cooked up, but he seems to hope that his old audience will forgive him and tune in. Well, at least the ones he didn’t defraud.

Baker would probably have better luck with a cooking show. What about taking some tips from Chef Emeril Lagasse and creating a spin-off for the Food Network—maybe “A ‘Bam’ from the Lord”?

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has put a church on notice regarding its planned pig roast at an annual country fair. The animal rights activists even threatened the Methodist congregation with a protest that might include “turning over tables,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

A PETA spokesperson said, “Christians…should be adopting a vegetarian diet.” Apparently, Jesus must have eaten only veggies for his Last Supper.

Radical groups like PETA seem to think they have the right to dictate dietary rules to everyone else. Do they also have a plan for what to do with all the farm animals that they hope to protect? Will PETA soon provide funding for a pig preserve or a shelter for homeless cows?

The daughter of Florida Governor Jeb Bush and niece of the President of the United States Noelle Bush 25, has been a resident of a Florida drug treatment facility since Spring. But this apparently didn’t stop her from getting crack cocaine while staying at “The Center for Drug Free Living,” reports Newsweek.

Despite the center’s “written policy,” which instructs its staff to report illegal drug possession to the police, when they found drugs in the possesion of Noelle Bush it was not reported. And when police arrived the staff refused to cooperate. How did law-enforcement find out? Another patient at the center phoned them.

Why did Noelle Bush apparently receive “special treatment” at a drug treatment center?

Is it possible they had some concerns about their funding and/or other support? The “Center for Drug Free Living” is a recipient of both federal and state grants.

Ironically, the Bush family has championed very strict drug rehabilitation programs. They have supported the “Drug Free America Foundation,” formerly known as “Straight,” which was founded by long-time political allies and Bush friends Mel and Betty Sembler.

Straight had a deeply troubled history of lawsuits, bad press and complaints. Some former participants and families compared its harsh authoritarian methods to a “cult.”

Never the less the Bush family supported the Sembler’s organized anti-drug crusade, through its various incarnations. And the wealthy Semblers have been generous to Bush political campaigns and the Republican Party.

Mel Sembler has been appointed to two ambassadorships by Bush presidents. He is currently serving as the United States Ambassador to Italy.

Ironically, it seems that the drug treatment facility Noelle Bush now is in has not upheld the strict standards historically embraced and promoted by both the Semblers and the Bush family.

One expert told Newsweek, “It’s important that addicted people that run into trouble be held to the same standards.”

But it appears that both “The Center for Drug Free Living” and the Bush family have accepted and/or set different standards for the care and treatment of Noelle Bush, which are rather inconsistent with their past positions.

Relationship Institute blamed for failed marriage

The Sterling Institute of Relationship charges $600 for a weekend seminar and says that it’s “an organization dedicated to improving the quality of people’s relationships.”

However, despite that statement and the cult following Sterling has developed, it doesn’t seem to work that well for many that become involved.

One Sterling spouse claims the group and its teachings made her husband a “Neanderthal sexist.” She ultimately concluded that its alumni are “brainwashed” and dependent upon Sterling follow-up support teams “like drugs.”

Founder Justin Sterling became a multi-millionaire through his relationship weekend retreats. Each seminar typically draws about 150-200 participants, which means Sterling pulls in about $100,000 for two days work. He reportedly grosses more than $2 million per year.

Sterling recently bought a former Masonic Temple in downtown Newburg, New York and has begun staging weekends there. His for-profit corporation headquarters is in Oakland, California.

The Sterling weekend seems to be little more than warmed-over Erhard Seminar Training (EST), now known as Landmark Education, which presents the Forum.

Sterling appears to have copied the basic format of the Forum and simply superimposed his own composite philosophy, which includes misogyny, sexism and a large dose of profanity.

His men’s weekends typically culminate in a strange nude male-bonding ritual.

Apparently Sterling does practice what he preaches; his own marriage ended in a bitter divorce.

A 14-year-old boy died two months ago from apparent exhaustion, while hiking as part of a wilderness program for troubled teens. Now two employees of “Skyline Journey” in Utah have been charged with child-abuse homicide, reports the New York Times.

This is just one more frightening story in a litany of negative reports about “teen boot camps,” drug rehabs and an assortment of programs, supposedly designed to correct adolescent behavior.

Parents essentially dump their kids at these places to have them “reformed.” But instead some have died and many more have reported gross abuse and/or neglect.

Some of these facilities appear to be little more than punitive gulags, rather than meaningful programs. Their staffs are often poorly trained and frequently rely upon extreme coercion and at times physical abuse. It seems that instead of a code of professional conduct, their motto is “the end justifies the means.”

Many families today include two working parents, which often makes raising children difficult. But rather than make more time for their kids and/or improve their parenting skills, some choose controversial stay-away teen programs instead. These parents seem to think such places can somehow provide a “quick fix” for their “problem child.”

But concerned parents should seek better and less potentially dangerous options for troubled teens. After so many of these programs have drawn criminal charges, lawsuits and bad press, this should cause families to pause and review their options more carefully. Why not seek safer choices, drawing upon the resources within their own community?

Perhaps the parents of this latest teen boot camp victim are now asking themselves why they took such a risk, which ultimately claimed the life of their child.

Lucille Poulin was once a Roman Catholic nun, but she left the church, declared herself a “prophet” and started a commune called the “Family,” reports the National Post.

Life in the Canadian cult included constant beatings and “brainwashing,” according to former members. Finally, some escaped from Poulin’s control and notified authorities.

Poulin now is in court facing charges.

Nine children were brought into this group by their parents. A twelve-year-old boy died due to a viral infection three years ago.

Kids have no choice when their parents decide to join a cult. Many are then schooled within the group and largely isolated from outsiders. Most abused children in cults don’t escape and many have endured years of abuse. A lawsuit filed by the former Krishna children is a frightening example. The class action lawsuit cites horrific physical and sexual abuse that went on for years.

“Das Experiment” opened this week in Germany. The film follows a group of volunteers as they evolve through an experiment about the effects of group persuasion, reports the New York Times.

An experiment like this was actually conducted during 1971 by Professor Philip Zimbardo in California, but it frightened the good doctor so much he shut it down after only one week.

The German thriller is an obvious analogy about the rise of a totalitarian regime like the Nazis. Germany is very vigilant regarding such groups and has dealt decisively with the Church of Scientology on that basis.

Robert Cialdini explores these same themes in his book “Influence.” Robert Jay Lifton wrote the definitive book titled “Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism.”

Another book just released “The Power of Cult Branding” details how the public is manipulated through marketing.

When people say only “nuts” join cults, this can be seen as a form of denial. Most people are susceptible to persuasion techniques. But it seems to be disconcerting to admit just how vulnerable the human mind really is.

His followers call Ariel Ben Sherman a “spiritual father,” but the leader of “New Life Ministries” is now charged with “aggravated child abuse and neglect” concerning the death of 15-year-old Jessica Lynn Crank. The girl’s mother Jacqueline Crank is also charged for medical neglect, reports Knox News.

The group does not believe in modern medicine and despite the child’s increasingly serious complications from cancer and a grossly enlarged tumor, she received no medical treatment.

Many children have died in religious cults and sects due directly to medical neglect. This has included such groups as General Assembly Church of the New Born, Church of God Restoration, Faith Assembly and End Times Ministries. Hobart Freeman the leader of Faith Assembly was sentenced to prison for his role in the death of a 15-year-old in 1984. It is estimated that more than 100 people died from medical neglect within that group alone.

A study conducted by the University of California Department of Pediatrics in San Diego concluded that 90% of the children studied who died as a result of withheld medical treatment for religious reasons, would have survived with proper care.

Two groups widely known to the general public, Christian Science and Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise have been linked to children’s deaths. Christian Science parents often withhold medical treatment from their children in favor of prayer and Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions.

As Americans we are entitled to believe whatever we wish, but we may not do anything we want in the name of religion. Parents of children who have died due to medical neglect have been criminally charged and convicted.

Jesus said, “Suffer not the little children.” And overwhelmingly Christians who believe in the power of prayer do not preclude medical assistance. But unfortunate children like Jessica Lynn Crank who live within extreme groups and are dependent upon their family for help may receive no medical care.

Jessica Lynn Crank hoped for “new life” in the Sherman group, but instead she suffered a painful death.

Move, a cult group with a history of disregarding the law, is refusing to let a father who is a former member, exercise his court ordered visitation rights. Rather than let the man see his son they have boarded up the cult house where the mother who is a member and her little boy live, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Move fired upon Philadelphia police when they came to serve warrants in 1978. This confrontation ended when police dropped a concussion bomb, which caused a neighborhood fire. Authorities are loath to repeat that episode and have stated that they will not initiate action.

The cult claims the father abused his child, but this appears to be only a fabrication. Cult groups frequently invent such stories to control their children and environment. The father is not a Move member and therefore the group may see him as evil, or at least a negative influence. And destructive cults not only isolate their adult members, but also their children.

Only the most extreme cults create a controlled environment through a compound or communal housing. Move is certainly extreme and now a six-year-old boy is caught in the middle.