A Commission in Utah sought the last word from the Mormon Church before rendering its final decision regarding the method of state executions.

Church leaders offered their opinion, which seems to carry the weight of law in Utah. They demurred that that the church “has no objection to the elimination of the firing squad,” reports Fox News.

Death by firing squad has been the method for capital punishment in the 45th state for some time.

A Mormon doctrine says blood must be shed for justice to be done regarding murder.

But apparently the church has decided that negative media attention surrounding firing squads doesn’t suit its more pragmatic public relations needs.

Once again Utah officials have bowed before the Mormon Church, demonstrating that theocracy is not just a principle encouraged by mullahs in a distant land.

Recently the church has squelched free speech around its historic temple in Salt Lake, humbled the mayor for resisting its edicts and even dictated the planning of shopping malls.

Separation of church and state?

Well, maybe not in Utah.

The Book of Mormon claims it’s the history of migrating Hebrews who came to the Western Hemisphere and started a new civilization after the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem thousands of years ago.

However, according to reputable historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and DNA experts this never happened.

Outside of Mormon sources you won’t find anything about the mythological cities and characters cited by Joseph Smith.

Smith was the supposed discoverer and translator of this religious tome and founder of the Mormon Church.

Most credible scholars surmised long ago that Smith was more of a con man than a “prophet,” though if you are Mormon coming to such a logical conclusion might be the basis for your excommunication.

After more than a century with nothing to show as proof regarding their book, one Mormon has finally come up with something.

Gary Rogers has made “The Book of Mormon Movie.”

The Mormon moviemaker spent $2 million on his pet project and staged a world premiere last night in Sandy, Utah reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Well, if you can’t have a museum exhibition why not a movie? And if scholars won’t confirm your myth there’s always Hollywood.

Parts of the newly proclaimed epoch were filmed on a Hollywood soundstage.

The producer hopes that his fellow Mormons will buy admission around the world. And basically this would seem to be the film’s only viable audience.

Rogers plans more installments, but only if ticket sales hold up. Apparently even his faith has limits.

Greta Van Susteren is the queen at Fox News and regularly wins the ratings wars against her old employer CNN reports the Kansas City Star.

The Midwest newspaper gushed about Van Susteren’s success and quoted a source parenthetically about how “she and her husband are heavily into the Church of Scientology.”

But Greta and hubby John Coale, both lawyers, seem to have been more than just “into” Scientology. They did some rather interesting legal work reportedly linked to their church.

It is often said that suing is something like a religious rite for Scientology. Maybe this explains why Van Susteren and Coale once appeared together to figuratively sing “hallelujah” from a court pew in Ohio.

The two devout Scientologists represented an apparent puppet plaintiff in what appears to have been a harassment lawsuit filed against Wellspring Retreat, a nonprofit licensed mental health facility for former cultists.

The suit was eventually dropped and never went to trial. But not before the noted rehab was bled considerably defending itself.

Some time later Van Susteren experienced her first makeover into a credible journalist for CNN. Then came her literal physical transformation through plastic surgery to look good for Fox.

United States Congressman Mike Doyle recently received the “Conscience and Courage award” from the “Global Mission to Rescue Persecuted Falun Gong Practitioners” reported The Tartan.

Falun Gong is banned in China as an “evil cult” due to its extremism, which includes medical neglect and suicide.

The group like other purported “cults” was founded, is defined and led by an absolute leader.

Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong’s charismatic founder, now lives in exile within the United States.

But the man behind Falun Gong has been exposed as both a bigot and racist. Hongzhi has made harsh and condemning statements publicly and in his writings regarding interracial marriage and gays.

The recently given Falun Gong award may flatter Doyle, but after other politicians learned about Hongzhi’s racism and intolerance they distanced themselves from the controversial leader.

Hongzhi and his followers have become quite adept at manipulating the media and public officials in well-orchestrated events and photo ops to promote the group and its agenda.

Doyle joins a growing list of unwitting dupes used by Falun Gong like pawns in Hongzhi’s never-ending effort for power and influence in China.

A controversial group called a “cult” by local residents suffered a serious setback in New York federal court yesterday reports the Albany Times-Union.

NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) also known as “Executive Success Programs” has filed lawsuits against John Hochman, MD and Paul Martin, Ph.D. regarding their written analysis of the group and its programs.

The Ross Institute (TRI) was also sued for publishing those reports.

The group founded by Keith Raniere, a failed multi-level marketing guru, wants $9 million dollars in damages.

Raniere’s lawyers claim that because NXIVM material is quoted within the reports Hochman, Martin and TRI are guilty of “trade secret” and “copyright” violations.

However, a federal judge once again denied NXIVM’s requests for temporary injunctions, aimed at removing the critical articles from the Internet.

This is the third time the court has turned down Raniere’s efforts to suppress the information.

Interestingly, NXIVM’s recent defeat comes not long after The Hague gutted Scientology’s last hope of removing its own trade secrets and copyright protected material from view on the Internet.

Scientology, the controversial church that Time Magazine dubbed the “Cult of Greed,” has a long history of legal defeats. Observers have often claimed the organization simply uses litigation as a vehicle to target its perceived enemies.

In an ironic twist, a well-known Scientology operative Nancy O’Meara claimed that she is cooperating with NXIVM regarding its current New York litigation.

“I am working on two cases right now where [The Ross Institute] is being sued for copyright trademark violation (filed in July 2003),” stated O’Meara in an email dated August 22nd.

It appears that Raniere is being coached by Scientology, arguably the most litigious “cult” in the world.

And judging by his recent court setbacks, the man NXIVM devotees call “Vanguard” may be losing his edge by following in Scientology’s dubious legal footsteps.

In a precedent setting decision The Court of Appeal in the Hague overturned lower court rulings and cleared the way for an Internet database in Holland to continue to make public “secret Scientology documents” reports The Register.

Karin Spaink of Amsterdam was sued by Scientology for allegedly violating its copyright by posting supposedly protected material on her website.

But Spaink’s site is now “legally approved” and beyond the grasp of Scientology’s lawyers.

This represents a major defeat for Scientology.

Historically, the controversial church has experienced many setbacks in Europe.

So anyone interested in reading the so-called “secret” teachings of Scientology need not pay the church for the privilege, nor endure its often long, tedious and expensive process of instruction.

Instead of paying for pricey courses like Tom Cruise or John Travolta you can find out about Scientology’s basic beliefs for free, by simply visiting Spaink’s website.

Apparently Scientology wanted to keep its basic foundational religious beliefs behind closed doors.

This does seem a bit strange for a purported “religion,” and appears to be the equivalent of Christians hiding the New Testament and refusing to disclose the role of Jesus within Christianity.

Spaink says, “Scientology does not want their followers to know what’s in store for them.”

Why would Scientology want to keep its salvation plan a secret?

Doesn’t the truth set you free?

Stories about vast unknown conspiracies that involve CIA operatives and criminal underground societies, seem more like tired themes for formula films, rather than a subject for serious discussion.

However, as summer ended in New England such subjects became the focus of a conference staged by “abuse survivors” at a hotel in Hartford, Connecticut.

Narratives about secretive Satanists were everywhere at the gathering sponsored by S.M.A.R.T. (Stop Mind-Control and Ritual Torture).

Maybe Scott Peterson’s lawyers should have attended to take notes, which might help fuel their speculation concerning the alleged “cult” they say may have taken the life of Laci Peterson and her unborn child.

Anecdotal stories abounded everywhere at the conference with various villains. Besides the usual Satanic suspects there were accusations against Freemasons, secret CIA programs and the so-called “Illuminati.”

This event was reported with a dose of much needed skepticism by the Hartford Advocate.

“I was going to be part of their satanic world-domination plan,” said one self-proclaimed “survivor.”

“My father handed me over to the cult; I was like his gift,” explained an attendee.

“We were brainwashed by the cult and made to kill firstborn children,” claimed another.

Why were all these victims together in Hartford rather than within a witness protection program?

“Sharing like this is the best way to rid ourselves of…toxic memories,” stated the conference organizer. And of course there are always conference fees, not to mention books and tapes for sale at such events.

Being a “survivor” can become a kind of cottage industry for some.

And for those that think this is funny and comparable to a group of UFO believers waiting for their next “abduction,” think again.

People have suffered, but not from supposed “satanic ritual abuse.” Some stories told by “survivors” have led to false charges and criminal prosecutions that destroyed lives.

This includes witch-hunts like the McMartin pre-school case in California. Taxpayers spent $15 million dollars to find out there was no Satanic abuse at the school, but it ruined the McMartin family.

And there was an alleged “sex ring” in Wenatchee, Washington that was ultimately proven to be bogus after multiple arrests of innocent residents.

Even a police officer was falsely accused in Canada. He was eventually cleared and paid a large settlement for his suffering.

These are the real survivors, falsely accused and damaged by spurious charges and prosecutions.

The FBI once investigated claims of human sacrifice and a network of criminal Satanists. But a report concluded there was no objective physical evidence to substantiate anything.

So why do people want to believe such nonsense and play the role of “survivors”?

According to respected researcher Elizabeth Loftus it’s an “explanation for everything wrong in their lives.”

The noted psychologist sees conferences like the one SMART recently convened as an opportunity to “get together…reinforce each other…give each other a sense of importance.”

And the stories of “survivors” appear to confirm this.

Often their tales put them at the center of some vast and evil conspiracy; its central character, hero or heroine, somehow essential to the plot.

But in the end even those that spin such stories fail to see their own authentic suffering and real situation.

Obviously they are in need of ethical and constructive counseling from objective mental health professionals. But many instead rely upon “repressed” or “recovered” memory therapy and are often estranged from their families.

They “stay unwell and never get help” lamented Loftus.

Revelations about Scientology stars potentially signing away their basic human rights for religious rites at their church is spreading.

Now NBC News in the “Windy City” has picked up the story.

The Chicago station cited controversial contracts that reportedly prohibit “‘any psychiatrist, medical person, designated member of the state or family member'” from placing any stars that may sign in a hospital or psychiatric facility.”

Instead Scientologists that sign the documents “subject themselves to church rituals that may prohibit them from visiting family members and friends.”

Should this be considered the ultimate “cult” contract?

The story about Scientology and its rather scary documents or release forms, that members are apparently expected to sign, has hit New York.

The New York Post headline reads “Scientology: No Rights Please.”

The Post examines the content of Scientology’s recently revised and exposed contracts, which appear to trade civil rights for religious rites, or what the controversial church often called a “cult” prefers to label “spiritual assistance.”

Dr. David Touretzky of Carnegie Mellon University first exposed this paperwork on the Internet. And now everyone can see what Scientology celebs like Tom Cruise and John Travolta may be giving up for their faith.

Melvin Sembler, a historic Bush buddy, big donor to the family’s political campaigns and subsequently twice appointed as an ambassador by Bush administrations, is not a happy fellow reports the St. Petersburg Times.

A man went through Ambassador Sembler’s garbage and found a pump apparently once used to help him function sexually. It’s a kind of penis pump to assist the ambassador in achieving and/or maintaining an erection.

Dumpster diver and activist Richard Bradbury is a former member of the now defunct drug rehab program called Straight, which was once enthusiastically promoted and sponsored by Sembler and wife.

Straight was eventually shut down amidst an avalanche of bad press and lawsuits. Some former members claimed the program engaged in cult-like “brainwashing.”

Bradbury in an apparent attempt to humiliate Sembler publicly put the ambassador’s penis pump up for auction on eBay.

The former Straight devotee said he was horribly victimized within the residential treatment program.

It seems that Sembler will never shake off the stink of Straight no matter what he does.

But a judge has ordered the alleged stalker to back off and give the ambassador back his penis pump.

However, Melvin Sembler will never be able to pump Straight back up. Nor can he erase the nightmares endured by Straight’s many victims or the legacy of infamy left in its wake.

Note: For more information about Sembler and Straight see Wes Fager’s website The Straights.com.