A strange fundamentalist Christian missionary group that calls itself “Jews for Jesus” is conducting a multi-city “Passover” tour.

The group works the Jewish holiday as an opportunity for self-promotion and fund raising amongst fellow fundamentalists.

Some recent pit stops for “JFJ” included Gales Creek, Oregon, New Orleans, Kansas City and even Juneau, Alaska.

Their program “Christ in the Passover” supposedly shows the audience how this Jewish holiday that predates Christianity, is really somehow about Jesus.


This makes about as much sense as members of Rev. Moon’s Unification Church putting on a show to reveal how Easter is really an allusion symbolically foretelling the coming of their “messiah.”

After all, they believe Moon must finish the job Jesus failed to complete, but insist they are “Christians.”

Does this make them “Christians for Messiah Moon”?

The Jewish community has historically objected to having its holidays misrepresented this way.

Never mind.

Missionaries paid by “Jews for Jesus” are not exactly concerned with either political correctness or promoting ecumenical understanding. They just like to put on their show, leave town and let the community deal with the fallout.

However, other evangelical Christians such as Billy Graham, don’t seem to agree with the group’s agenda of targeting Jews for special proselytizing.

Japanese cult leader Chizuo Matsumoto, known as Shoko Asahara, once led thousands who hung on his every word.

But now the leader previously known for rambling rants, sits silent in a Tokyo courtroom, as he faces murder charges for the 1995 poison gas attack on the city’s subways.

Why won’t Asahara speak?

The trial of the guru has gone on for seven years, is he bored? Some speculate this might be a legal strategy, reports Asahi.

More likely the former cult leader doesn’t enjoy being in a situation that he doesn’t control.

Matsumoto has already been indicted on 27 murder counts and the outcome of this long trial seems certain.

Asahara will likely hang in accordance with Japanese law and the wishes of families that he victimized.

In another related story an Aum devotee just released from prison flew to Moscow in an attempt to rally the faithful remnant there, reports News24.

That devotee Fumihiro Joyu claims he has “lost faith” in his jailed guru, because Asahara’s prophecies failed regarding the end of the world.

But that disappointment did not persuade Joyu to dissolve the group. After all, the cult business is often quite lucrative.

The Japanese government sitll considers Aum a threat, reports the BBC.

It wouldn’t be prophetic to predict the end for Asahara now. Despite his silence Chizuo Matsumoto will be executed and find his ultimate fulfillment at the end of a rope.

A large entourage from the Nation of Islam accompanied leader Louis Farrakhan on his 1998 “World Friendship Tour,” which stopped in South Korea.

One traveler on that trip Tynnetta Muhammad is now recounting this momentous event in a series of articles published on Final Call.com News.

The latest piece about this journey is titled In Search of Messiah. And this heading seems ironic, if you consider who sponsored and led the trip for Farrakhan and his followers.

Their tour was conducted by members of Rev. Moon’s Unification Church.

The delegation visited a ballet school financed by Moon and met his daughter-in-law Julia .

She was actually wed to the Moon heir’s spirit after his death.

Rev. Moon is the “messiah” according to his church and numerous proclamations made from heaven, or so say the true believers once called the “Moonies.”

Does this mean the Nation of Islam can end its “search” for “messiah” and just accept Moon?

They might have only needed to ask their tour guide for simple directions.

It is said that Moon stimulates and lubricates his friendships with some religious leaders through donations, funding pet projects and/or expensive gifts. He also has frequently paid the travel expenses of politicians and scholars to attend his conferences.

It is unclear exactly what arrangements may have been made with Louis Farrakhan.

Interestingly, Rev. Moon has said, “The blacks in [the United States] have been oppressed for centuries by the whites, but it is nothing compared to what has happened to me in this nation.”


Is this what Minister Farrakhan feels is the bond between him and Moon?

Who is “Rael,” the odd, balding, middle aged man with the outlandish flight suits and silly ponytail?

During a news lull after Christmas of 2002, the followers of a bizarre French expatriate, now a resident of Canada grabbed headlines and television coverage around the world, by making fantastic and unsubstantiated claims that they had produced “the first human clone.”

The stories told about the funny little man from Montreal have never been proven and it seems the latest one about “clones” is just another stunt to gain media attention for this apparent megalomaniac and “cult leader,” whose followers are called the “Raelians.”

Rael has created a mythology about his birth, life and eventual realization as a worldwide “prophet,” would-be “savior” and/or interplanetary “messenger.”

But what is the real story behind this strange man who has become a media curiosity?

The place to start on any quest for the truth about Rael is in France. There are the people who really know him the best, which include his family and old friends.

French journalists have investigated the background of Rael. The following is his biography pieced together from various news articles recently run and/or recounted.

“Rael” was born some 57 years ago and named Claude Vorilhon.

Interviews with family members paint a vastly different portrait of the man who now insists he be addressed as “His Holiness Rael” (French “Sa Sainteté Raël”), as one precondition before granting an audience or interview.

Claude Vorilhon was born in Vichy, in the “Massif Central.” An area within France famous for its old volcanoes. He spent his childhood in Ambert, a small town of only 7,500 at that time. Ambert is widely known for its very distinct cheese, the “fourme d’Ambert.”

The Vorilhon family was well established and had lived within Ambert for generations. They owned a fabric factory.

But scandal surrounded Claude’s birth. Colette, his mother, had a liaison during World War II with man referred to as “Marcel X.” He was a married man. And from this union came Claude, born out of wedlock.

Marcel was a refugee from Alsace, an eastern part of France. Germany annexed this region during the war and Marcel’s life was subsequently at risk due to his Jewish heritage. The Massif Central provided safe harbor for the Jew fleeing the horrors of the Nazi death camps.

Marcel had run a wood factory in Alsace, which he returned to at the end of the war. He abandoned Colette and Claude. But Marcel continued to see Colette and they made trips together.

Colette eventually left Claude with his aunt.

The French press has extensively interviewed Claude Vorilhon’s family members.

In the Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche January 5, 2003, reporter Emmanuelle Chantepie recounts her meeting with Claude Vorilhon’s aunt Thérèse, who is now 87. She raised Vorilhon with her mother in Ambert. The elderly woman still lives there in a small apartment.

Thérèse says Vorilhon was a very gentle boy, despite all the nasty stories about him today. She is still fond of him and calls her nephew “little Claudy.” Thérèse never had a child and raised Claudy as if he were her own son.

But Thérèse admits that “little Claudy” at times may go too far. She says, “For instance, when he claims that he was born from the union of his mother Colette with an Extraterrestrial.” When Vorilhon makes such claims the old woman calls him a “cornichon” (pickle), which is a French word for nitwit.

Thérèse made the same statements to another reporter François Vignole, quoted within the popular French daily newspaper Le Parisien on January 15, 2002.

And what about Vorilhon’s mother? What does she think of her son now?

Colette Vorilhon when interviewed chose to hide her face. She is apparently ashamed of her son.

Journalist Hervé Bouchaud on a program that aired three times on the network M6 presented by Bernard de la Villardière on April 10, 2001, April 14, 2002, and on January 14, 2003 interviewed Colette for French television.

Bouchaud prodded the woman, “Don’t tell me that you have been inseminated by an Extraterrestrial!”

Colette replied laughing, “Who knows? Like the Holy Virgin? An angel came through my window. Well, I sleep with my window open!”

Aunt Thérèse does not seem to respect Colette. She made negative comments about her to both journalists Chantepie and Vignolle. Thérèse confided, “She was bad.”

It seems that little Claudy’s aunt feels her nephew suffered due to an unstable home. His mother sent him away at seven and they often quarreled when visiting.

When Vorilhon was 15 his father died. His mother then forced him to abandon his studies. He went to Paris hoping to become a entertainer, imitating the famous singer Jacques Brel. Vorilhon used the stage name Claude Celler. But he failed.

Not long after his singing career fizzled Claude met Christine, whom he married in 1971.

Christine Vorilhon has also been interviewed by French journalists and offered details about their troubled marriage.

In the beginning she loved Claude and would bear him two children. But in the coming years as Vorilhon’s incredible ego grew, he became unbearable. The marriage ended in 1985.

Christine says she was “completely destroyed by her husband.”

She left their marriage with nothing. And despite his growing income derived from the so-called Raelian movement, “He never raised a little finger for me,” she said.

But long before their bitter divorce Claude Vorilhon had essentially ceased to exist. His new stage name became “Rael.”

The former Mrs. “Rael” is now attempting to build a new life. She hopes to remain anonymous. “I don’t want to be harassed by his supporters. This is a dangerous sect,” Christine warned.

Vorilhon made one more failed attempt at a career before becoming Rael. While he lived with his wife and children in Clermont-Ferrant, the main city of Massif Central, he put together a little auto-racing magazine called Auto Pop.

According to an old friend Patrice Vergès the magazine was a “little rag” (“canard”). And after a brief run in 1973 it went under and folded.

Vorilhon now would embark on the only successful endeavor he would ever experience; little Claudy launched his career as a “cult leader.”

The failed magazine publisher now began telling fantastic stories about meetings with alien beings from outer space. Vorilhon said these encounters began at a volcano called “Le Puy de Lassalas.” The extraterrestrial had supposedly given little Claudy an important message for all mankind.

These sensational claims attracted some media coverage. And from this time forward Vorilhon apparently became obsessed, intoxicated with media attention, which ultimately seems to have become an addiction.

Vorilhon appeared on Le Grand Echiquier, a popular French television program in 1974. And after that appearance he received thousands of letters. Those fans were probably the beginning of what would become Vorilhon’s “cult” following.

Roland, a childhood friend of little Claudy, still lives in Ambert. He was also interviewed for French television. On M6 TV Roland recalled an evening with Vorilhon some years ago, during which the two men spoke frankly.

Roland asked Claude if he had lied about his encounter with alien beings from outer space.

Vorilhon reportedly replied, “Yes, I lied&but you knew it, anyway, so I am not teaching you anything!”

Claude went on to explain that he had never seen any “little green men,” but that the tale helped him achieve the attention and eventual status he wanted.

It seems that Claude Vorilhon may be misrepresenting more than his close encounters with extraterrestials.

Vorilhon and his followers have made claims about the vast membership of Raelians. But the Raelian movement in France is not really that successful. According to a French official specifically assigned the task of watching specious sects, there are less than a thousand Raelians in France.

It appears French authorities are interested in the group’s finances and tax payments.

Some Raelians also have serious legal problems.

According to Christophe Dubois, reporting for The Parisien January 15, 2003, official sources say that there are no less than five cases of sexual abuse currently under investigation regarding Raelians.

Vorilhon hasn’t done well in civil court either.

Rael sued French journalist Jean-Yves Cashga in 1991 for defamation. However, he lost and was ordered to pay court costs. The judgement remains uncollected.

Amidst growing legal problems Rael decided to leave France. He immigrated to Canada, where he is a resident and achieved tax-exempt religious status for his Raelian movement.

Claude Vorilhon’s mother told reporters recently that she hasn’t seen her son since 1996.

The last time that “little Claudy” phoned home he told his mother that he was afraid to return to France. He said that authorities there might put him in “handcuffs.”

Note: This article was assisted by the research and translation provided by Gildas Bourdais

Did the Baath Party and Iraq itself become a “cult” under the rule of Saddam?

The Baath political party is described as “entrenched in Saddam’s cult of personality,” by the China Post.

It is interesting to note that though there were 2 million Iraqis who claimed affiliation with the Baath Party, only 40,000 were actually “full members.” And that status required a multi-level process before final acceptance.

But rather than this process being based upon “cult brainwashing,” it is more likely that loyalty to Saddam was created through fear and greed.

The Baath Party that began in Damascus during 1947, eventually spawned two dictator families, one led by Assad in Syria and another controlled by Saddam.

Once upon a time Baath ideals were “unity, freedom and socialism.” But much like its Soviet predecessor, the party quickly devolved into little more than Stalinism. A dictator-driven centrally controlled hierarchy of elite loyalists ran everything.

One Iraqi in exile still defended this organizational structure explaining, “The [Baath Party] is accused of being a dictator party. It [had] to be. How else can you rule a country with six different ethnic and religious sects?”

However, many dictators have explained a need for totalitarianism with similar rationalizations, from Napoleon to Hitler. They too wanted a “united Europe” of desperate peoples, but under their rule.

The grand palaces and plentiful monuments of Saddam enveloped Iraq. Everywhere were statues and the likeness of the “great leader,” who became seemingly the personification of the country.

In many ways Saddam appeared to reflect the same megalomania typically associated with cult leaders.

Often when such charismatic leaders die their cult following or movement disintegrates.

Will there be an Iraq without Saddam?

Unlike North Korea, where the “Great Leader” has become a cult of religious devotion, Saddam ruled Iraq by “fear and favor,” not faith.

Though the Iraqi despot had his inner circle of sycophants and retainers who have now fled, the immediate looting that is taking place in Baghdad and Basra now that the enforcers are gone, is very telling.

Where is the “cult” of devotion now?

“The party became…[a] security system,” said one exiled Baathist.

But this is hardly a religion or cult.

The same former member outlined Baath priorities as informing on anyone “to protect the state,” anything could be done to “justify…the state” and those that deviated from “this path [would] be killed.”

This certainly describes the standards of a police state.

He concluded, “That was the end of any ideology.” And it seems the beginning of Saddam’s so-called “cult of personality.”

But after all the rhetoric, Saddam’s Iraq only turned out to be a “security system” run by thugs. And rather than “entrenched” the Iraqi people seem anxious to move on.

Snake handling as a religious rite still exists in the United States, reports National Geographic.

Obscure Pentecostal groups within southeastern sates, mostly in Appalachia; handle copperheads and other poisonous reptiles during their religious services.

Perhaps as many as 2,000 Americans in about 40 churches practice this risky religious ritual.

And the observance is based upon the rather questionable exegesis of the New Testament scripture, “They shall take up serpents,” found within Mark 16.

But some biblical scholars say that this very verse may not have been included within the original Gospel of Mark.

Never mind.

These true believers would rather die than delve into such scholarship. And more than a hundred have historically, some leaving behind orphaned children.

One practitioner claimed, “I was bit 14 times, by rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and I never used anti venom.”

It is possible to develop a resistance to snake venom through repeated bites.

However, water moccasins , which typically require immediate medical treatment and anti venom, seems like a stretch.

But copperheads that are far less venomous and often don’t require emergency care sounds plausible.

Thankfully these folks don’t live in Australia, where the deadly bite of snakes such as the Taipan or Brown , might not afford them an opportunity to say “Hallelujah” at another meeting.

An evangelical Christian has decided to sue the Mormon Church (LDS), Salt Lake City (SLC) and its mayor for violating his religious rights, reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Kurt Van Gorden filed a lawsuit for $1 million dollars in U.S. District Court this week, due to his arrest for passing out religious tracts and witnessing near the historic Mormon Temple at Main Street Plaza last September.

A federal court later ruled that an LDS ban of such behavior is unconstitutional.

The Mormon Church seems to have made one mistake after another using its considerable muscle in SLC to control the area around its sacred Temple Square.

This has not only been a public relations nightmare for the church, but has also alienated many non-Mormon SLC residents and now there’s a lawsuit.

Again and again the question has arisen, is there really room for more than one faith in Utah?

Mormons claim there is, but LDS actions appear to indicate otherwise.

An LDS member occupies virtually every elected position in Utah. The church is also the state’s largest employer.

Gorden thinks his equal rights were violated.

But perhaps the power structure in Utah supposes that “some are more equal than others.” The revealing motto of the pigs, a privileged class, within George Orwell’s book Animal Farm.

The Gorden case may well expose a raw nerve.

Specifically, it might provide an objective means to examine the repeated claims that there is meaningful religious tolerance in Utah.

Tom Cruise is filming his latest movie in New Zealand, but the actor still finds time to promote Scientology, reports The New Zealand Herald.

Cruise donated money to a “youth drug program,” but of course it was a Scientology based effort.

The Scientology effort Cruise touted this time is called “Drug-Free Ambassadors group,” which targets youth.

But critics of Scientology have repeatedly said that virtually any program associated with the controversial church can largely be seen as a recruitment effort, rather than simply social service.

The drug rehab program Narconon appears to be just such an example.

Perhaps Cruise should concentrate more on his career than religion.

After all, his last two films were not that successful and some say the star is not shining that brightly lately.

Maybe he should talk to ex-wife Nicole Kidman, who after apparently dumping Scientology, went on to win an Oscar.

A Baltimore prosecutor has requested that a “cult” member be “deprogrammed” as a condition for probation, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The subject for this proposed “deprogramming” has already entered a guilty plea to a murder conspiracy charge this week and may be released from custody soon.

But the public defender representing the “cult” member says, “Let’s wait for the psychological evaluation.”

The sensational criminal case has received substantial news coverage in Baltimore and included two other defendants, who likewise entered into plea agreements with prosecutors.

Also charged and in jail is the “cult” leader Scott Caruthers who once led “BDX,” a strange sci-fi group that claimed cats could communicate with space aliens.

It seems another member of BDX was already “deprogrammed” shortly after being arrested and is expected to testify against Caruthers for the prosecution.

However, despite the guilty plea of his codefendants, Caruthers apparently thinks that a jury trial will vindicate him.

Will he claim it was all really a cat conspiracy?

Deprogramming may disabuse “cult victims” of undue influence, but it’s doubtful that such an intervention would help a “cult leader” like Caruthers.

After all, such a person would not be the victim of alleged “brainwashing,” but rather its originator.

Rev. Moon of the Unification Church says he wants world peace, but it seems that the self-proclaimed “messiah” has different ideas when it comes to business investments.

Moon controls Kahr Arms, which is run by his son Kook Jin Moon.

Kahr sells guns, but apparently keeps very poor records regarding its inventory, reports The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Two years ago ATF agents raided a Kahr factory and found that a substantial number of guns were missing. But they were still listed in the company’s inventory, according to police.

It seems that some employees at Kahr ran a lucrative side business selling guns out the back door, they were eventually arrested.

But a man was shot and killed with one of Kahr’s guns by a felon who would not otherwise have passed a background check to buy the firearm legally.

The Moon controlled company now is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the family of the victim. The suit claims Kahr was negligent.

Also liable in the litigation are Kahr’s “corporate parents.”

Kahr received a legal setback recently when a judge ruled the case would not be dismissed and should move forward.

Often referred to as “father” by his followers, Rev. Moon is not only the literal father of Kahr’s CEO, but the likely “corporate parent” left holding the bag as well, or is that the “mag bag”?