Rev. Moon, founder of the Unification Church wants to build a big school in Hawaii on North Kona. He says, it would be a “boarding school.” But locals are wondering what Moon really wants in Hawaii, opines the Honolulu Advertiser.

The Marshall Islands didn’t apprecite Moon and ultimately rejected his school plans there.

Moon’s people and interests within Brazil are now under investigation regarding various criminal allegations.

So why should Hawaiians be happy about Mr. Moon wanting to move in?

It certainly doesn’t seem like anyone in Hawaii is rushing to say “aloha” to Rev. Moon and no luaus are currently being planned to welcome the would-be “messiah.”

A “boarding school” might be Moon-speak for isolated indoctrination. And the Unification Church has been repeatedly accused of “brainwashing” people at various places they call “camps” in the United States.

Maybe Hawaiians should keep a watchful eye on Mr. Moon and his minions. What’s good for Rev. Moon may not be so good for Kona.

Arthur Allen and four of his followers who are members in what they call the “House of Prayer,” were convicted for cruelty to children Thursday, reported NBC News 11 in Atlanta.

Allen describes his group as an “independent church,” but others have referred to it as a “cult.”

The leader and his followers were sentenced to short terms in jail and fines. But Allen also pulled ten years probation.

The current charges began after two children ages 7 and 10 were brutally whipped with sticks and belts. The group has a troubled history of child battery.

Allen attempted to use religion as a defense and claimed he was a victim of “persecution.” But the jury didn’t buy it. He acted as his own lawyer and as the old adage says, he apparently had a “fool for a client.”

Ten years probation will hopefully reign in the authoritarian leader of the Atlanta group, who seems to have turned a “house of prayer” into a hell house for children.

Increasingly in the United States and Canada the severe corporal punishment of children, which is routinely meted out within some religious groups, is being legally restricted.

It appears that religious rights don’t include cruelty to children and such behavior cannot be exonerated by invoking the “name of God.”

Perhaps while Arthur Allen serves time in jail he will read the bible more carefully. Wasn’t it was Jesus who said, “Suffer not the little children…”?

“Hippie guru” Ira Einhorn had a cult following in the sixties, but now he has nothing—not even his freedom. The 62-year-old self-proclaimed philosopher was convicted for first-degree murder yesterday. He will now spend his “golden years” behind bars, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Einhorn lived in luxury as a fugitive in France for many years, but was finally extradited on the condition that he receive a new trial. He was previously convicted for the murder of a girlfriend that wanted to leave him in absentia.

The self-styled guru may see himself as a profound thinker and philosopher, but the prosecutor seemed to nail down his historical significance better when he called Einhorn a “Fraudulent, phony…fake.” And then added, “He’s nothing,” reported the Philadelphia Daily News.

Einhorn certainly fits the classic historical profile of a destructive cult leader, who are often described as narcissistic sociopaths.

It was the open display of that personality through his own testimony that did Ira in, according to jurors. They didn’t appreciate the one-time hippie’s hubris, lies and lack of remorse.

In fact all Einhorn seemed to be concerned about, like most narcissists, was himself. He apparently felt the trial was an opportunity to proclaim his greatness. But there were no devoted followers listening this time.

A courtroom is not the ideal platform for a man like Einhorn, it is based upon facts in evidence not fiction. In the end he came across not as a profound philosopher or thinker, but instead like a counter-culture con man. He was largely undone by his own arrogance.

The former guru will now face the rest of his life without groupies. And It is doubtful Einhorn’s fellow inmates will appreciate his pedantic ramblings. If he rants to them he will more likely be punched than praised.

There were few surprises in the trial of Ira Einhorn. But the process did offer a unique opportunity to study the typical personality most often responsible for the creation and control of destructive cults.

Cher fans can’t seem to get enough of the 56-year-old star. The enduring diva has won their hearts and an Oscar. And her fans seem to follow her every move, concert and costume change with ardent fascination. There is even a website called “Cher World” for “Cherworlders.”

What is it about the historic pop star that has drawn such a cult following? One Canadian fan in a recent article put it this way, “I love her to death.”

And some “Cherworlders” feel it’s not enough to watch Cher—they want to be Cher, according to an article recently published by the London Free Press of Canada titled “Sharing Time with Cher…a serious business.”

The Free Press reported how usually staid Canadians dressed up to see who could be the best Cher. During the contest one impersonator said, “When I get into costume, I feel like her.”

Perhaps celebrity cults have become the most popular form of culturally acceptable escapism. Adoring fans living an alternate fantasy life through their respective idols.

Cultural icons like Cher, Madonna, Liz and legendary stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and James Dean have certainly beget cultic devotion. Their carefully coifed and cultivated personas often become larger than life and some are even more popular after they’re dead.

And let’s not forget all that lucrative marketing potential.

An icon’s fashion sense can easily become a new trend and celebrity endorsements sell products. Cher’s infomercials may have bombed, but Liz’s “White Diamonds” made her millions. And the “Material Girl” Madonna is perhaps the ultimate celebrity merchandising genius—at selling herself that is.

Will Cher fans allow their idol to retire after her “farewell tour“? Maybe the diva is already planning an encore? After all, will “Cherworlders” really be content with just her image through DVDs and videos? As the Canadian press says, “sharing time with Cher” seems more “serious” than that.

Cambodian cult leader Dem Mam was released from custody despite the fact that he is apparently responsible for three deaths, reports Reuters.

It seems there no law in Cambodia to convict him for undue influence, no matter how tragic the consequences.

Three cult members incinerated themselves in a bathtub filled with gasoline because they believed it was their only way to heaven.

Dem Mam walked out of jail a free man and arrogantly claimed that he was “already holy enough” and thus didn’t need to end his life through ritual suicide. A seemingly tacit acknowledgement of his deadly teachings.

Why is not so surprising that what’s good enough for his devotees, is somehow not good for Dem Mam. The 54-year-old cult leader will now likely move on to find new victims.

The controversial “Waldorf School” is now seeking official recognition for the establishment of a public school in Montreal, reports the Montreal Mirror.

According to the Mirror Waldorf represents a “pedagogical innovation,” but within a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers in California it was referred to as “rooted in a New Age, cultlike religion.”

Waldorf teaches something-called “anthroposophy,” which is a philosophy originated in 1919 by Austrian-born Rudolf Steiner and first used in Germany.

Waldorf opened charter schools in the United States, which enabled it to receive public funds. Now they want similar status and funding in Canada.

How can a group receive public funds to advance a seemingly sectarian religious philosophy? PLANS, an anti-Waldorf organization, certainly doesn’t think that’s appropriate.

But Waldorf insists that’s not a legitimate question and they advance an innovative teaching method instead.

Apparently though, this method is so innovative that every teacher must learn it only through Waldorf and be subsequently approved, which costs about $15,000. This sounds pretty exclusive.

Does Waldorf want it both ways? That is, insisting upon its exclusive approach, teachers and philosophy for Waldorf Schools, but with funding from taxpayers?

Tomoko Matsumoto the wife of infamous cult leader Shoko Asahara was released from prison after serving six years this week, reports Mainchi Daily News.

Aum was responsible for the 1995 gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system that killed 19 and injured thousands.

Matsumoto’s husband (a.k.a. Chizuo Matsumoto) remains in prison and it’s doubtful that he will ever be released. Instead, the cult leader will probably end his days there with a death sentence.

Asahara’s wife says she is no longer connected to the cult and wants a divorce, but her estranged husband isn’t cooperating.

However, if Mrs. Matsumoto will just be patient she should be a widow soon enough.

A Canadian judge ruled against members of the so-called “Church of God Restoration,” a controversial fringe group that has been called a “cult.” The group has no affiliation whatsoever with the established Church of God denomination and was founded by American Daniel Layne.

Some reporters chose to call this simply a “spanking case,” as reported by the National Post.

It seems that many within the Canadian media were essentially taken in by staged photo ops and seemingly rehearsed interviews promoted by the Layne group in an apparent effort to influence public opinion and perhaps intimidate the judge.

But Judge Eleanor Schnall apparently wasn’t taken in or put off at all.

Instead the judge ruled decisively against the parents and for Child and Family Services. In her ruling Judge Schnall effectively upheld that the child welfare agency acted properly when it removed seven children from their homes to protect them from being beaten with a belt, clothes hanger and the metal end of fly swatter.

Harsh corporal punishment is taught and often encouraged by the Layne church, which has branches in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Other parents associated with a Layne church in California were charged with “involuntary manslaughter” regarding medical neglect. Layne also teaches his followers to refuse modern medicine.

The parents involved in the Canadian case of child abuse are prohibited from further corporal punishment and are required to allow child welfare workers to inspect their children if requested.

A controversial organization called “Champions for Christ” is recruiting prominent pro athletes like quarterback Mark Brunell of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The organization now boasts it has 100 NFL, 20 NBA and 10 NHL members. It is also targeting college athletes for recruitment as well.

But what articles about Champions for Christ seem to neglect is its links to “Maranatha Ministries” founded by Bob Weiner. Maranatha was often called a “cult” during the 1980s

Greg Ball and Rice Brooks who co-founded Champions for Christ in 1991, were once both leaders within Maranatha Ministries, which folded in 1989 amidst serious allegations. Former members and families said Maranatha was excessively authoritarian, abusive and controlling.

Maranatha promoted something called “shepherding.” That is, the concept of putting members under the authority of a “spiritual shepherd.” This practice is often discussed in close association with authoritarian forms of “discipleship ”

Bob Weiner and Maranatha are mentioned within the book “The Discipling Dilemma” by Flavil Yeakley, which is a critical analysis of such practices.

An ad hoc committee of Christian scholars produced a report about Maranatha in 1984, which acknowledged that it had “an authoritarian orientation with potential negative consequences.” Five years later the ministry folded. Weiner admitted mistakes, but insisted that “Ninety-nine percent of what we did was right.”

Is any part of Weiner’s admitted 1% of wrongdoing now part of the game plan put together by his former subordinates Ball and Brooks at Champions for Christ? According to Charisma Magazine they have brought their “passion” from Maranatha to their new work. Does that “passion” include any portion of the “shepherding” that sank Maranatha?

Greg Enis running back for the Chicago Bears caused some concern when he chose Greg Feste of Champions for Christ as both his minister and agent. Feste also negotiated endorsement deals for Mark Brunell.

Later Enis fired Feste and said “I think I was taken advantage of.”

According to tax records Feste gave Ball $34,015 in 1995. Was that Ball’s cut from Enis or a tithe?

What is Champions for Christ? A ministry or multi-level marketing scheme that uses the Gospel for profit as well as prayer? Is it simply a spin-off of a former “cult” using “shepherding” tactics to fleece a new flock?

As the group expands its turf amongst professional athletes in America it seems that such critical questions might be answered more fully and in-depth.

It certainly appears that some athletes that have become involved with Champions for Christ are intensely devoted to the organization. Mark Burnell says he plans to be “working full-time” for the group after his football career ends. Houston Texans lineman Tony Boselli said, “I believe God has called me to the full-time ministry when I retire.”

But who would Boselli be serving, God or Mr. Ball and his cohorts at Champions for Christ?

Karen Robidoux 27 is charged with the murder of her one-year-old son Samuel. The child was starved to death, supposedly due to a “prophetic vision,” which allegedly led the baby’s parents to withhold solid food for 51 days.

Robidoux’s husband Jacques was also charged and found guilty in a previous trial. He is now serving an automatic life sentence in prison.

Karen Robidoux’s lawyer says that cult “brainwashing” rendered his client “powerless” to stop the starvation of her son and that she felt compelled to follow the group’s beliefs.

Robidoux plead not guilty and now claims she is no longer a member of the cult called “The Body,” which is led by her father-in-law Roland Robidoux, reports NBC News of Providence.

However, the prosecutor scoffs at the brainwashing defense and says cult members still visit her weekly.

There is no doubt that what motivated Karen Robidoux to starve her child was religious devotion. She had no other reason to kill her baby and the prosecution hasn’t offered another motive.

But the jury in Jacques Robidoux’s trial rejected any religious defense and instead convicted the father regardless of his faith.

Will a second jury now find Karen Robidoux innocent due to sympathy for a mother driven by “prophecy” and peer pressure to neglect her child to death? It seems doubtful that the jury will place its sympathy with anyone other than the baby Samuel.

Historically, there has been little sympathy in court for cult members when their actions cause deaths.

This has been proven repeatedly through the Manson Family trials and the death sentences handed out to members of Aum in Japan. Nine Aum members have been sentenced to death thus far for their roles in the 1995 gas attack of Tokyo’s subway system that killed 19 and injured thousands.

Former Manson family followers such as Leslie Van Houten have found little sympathy even after thirty years in prison. Van Houten has been denied parole over and over again.

Charles Manson was not present for the grizzly Tate-La Bianca murders, but he was charged and convicted for his role anyway, as a cult leader who controlled his followers like puppets.

However, Roland Robidoux the leader of “The Body,” has yet to be charged with any crime.

This summer there were negotiations between the prosecutor and Karen Robidoux’s lawyer for a plea agreement. There was some speculation that she might plea guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

If history remains consistent a plea agreement is probably the best outcome she can expect.

Like other cult members who have caused deaths in the past, Karen Robidoux will likely have many years in prison to reflect upon her actions and the group that led her to tragedy.