CultNews began reporting about the Scientology-related “New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project” (NYRWDP) this past summer. Subsequently, articles about the project appeared through MSNBC, the New York Daily News and the NY Times.

Late last year an endorsement from the New York Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) of NYRWDP’s “Downtown Medical” was reportedly “yanked.”

David Prezant, deputy chief medical officer for the NY Fire Department told the NY Times in October that some aspects of the NYRWDP’s detoxification process were “risky” and concluded “there’s no proven evidence [the clinic program] works.”

A toxicology expert also quoted by the NY Times stated specifically that the basis for the program is an “unproven, scientifically bereft notion.”

The so-called “purification rundown” used by the clinic for its “detoxification” has been called “unsafe” and is based upon the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The “rundown” includes supposedly sweating out toxins in a sauna and large doses of niacin.

To better understand how NYRWDP fits within a Scientology-related labyrinth of organizations, entities and people click here.

Despite all the bad press, withdrawn UFA support and controversy surrounding NYRWDP, US Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York both were actively fund raising for the project as recently as last month.

Fund raising letters from Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Maloney are now prominently displayed at the NYRWDP website.

The senator says he is “pleased to write in support for the…project.” And acknowledged implicitly that it is based upon “the Hubbard Method of Detoxification,” which Schumer describes as “treatment for ailments believed to be caused by toxins in the air at the site of the World Trade Center bombing.”

Senator Schumer concludes, “I strongly urge you to support the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Fund and wish them all the success in their future endeavors.”

Maloney’s letter reads, “I want to write to express my support of the…project.” She adds, “With an increase of funding, this program will be able to assist many more September 11th rescue workers that have experienced health problems related to the air quality of ground zero.”

“I admire the work the detoxification program has done, and I strongly support its future endeavors, says Maloney. The congresswoman explains, “The brave rescue workers of New York deserve the best treatment available to address the lingering health effects of this tragedy.”

Such praise from these public servants would no doubt make Tom Cruise blush, who has been fund raising for the project himself.

Of course Cruise who is a devout Scientologist can be expected to promote and do whatever he can to help his beloved church, but what about Schumer and Maloney?

What’s their agenda?

Do these elected public servants somehow imagine that such fund raising benefits and/or represents the needs and sentiments of the majority of their constituents? How can that be when so many have made it clear repeatedly that they don’t endorse or support this controversial project?

So why then are Schumer and Maloney so ardently shilling for this specious and scientifically unproven Scientology-related enterprise?

As the Congresswoman so aptly said, “The brave rescue workers of New York deserve the best treatment available.”

“Integrity” is a word commonly used within the group named NXIVM (pronounced nexium like the acid stomach medication). Keith Raniere and his devoted disciple Nancy Salzman founded the organization, which has been called a “cult.”

“Integrity” has become an emotionally laden word commonly used by the group’s “coaches” when they train participants within 16-day so-called “intensives,” using Mr. Raniere’s patent pending “technology.”

But it looks like NXIVM may not practice what it preaches.

In a brochure recently distributed promoting its programs NXIVM touted Forbes Magazine in a seeming endorsement that appears to be deliberately misleading.

The brochure states, “As mentioned in Forbes magazine: ‘There is probably no discovery since writing as important for humankind as Mr. Raniere’s technology.'”

However, this quote was taken out of context and not really attributed fully and/or correctly.

The statement quoted was made by Nancy Salzman within the Forbes article titled “Cult of Personality,” which was hardly a positive piece.

The Forbes reporter actually offered the following appraisal of Mr. Raniere’s teachings. “You might think it pure genius. Or maybe horse manure,” he said.

Don’t expect that Forbes quote to appear anywhere within a NXIVM brochure.

Putting the Salzman quote in context it reads as follows:

“Salzman had just gone through a tough time. She found Raniere to be riveting. He became her spiritual guide, and she became his most ardent follower. ‘There is probably no discovery since writing as important for humankind as Mr. Raniere’s technology,’ she once wrote in a brochure.”

So the quote featured by NXIVM “as mentioned in Forbes” is really nothing more than promotional hype once written by Salzman, NXIVM’s President and “Prefect.”

This appears to be a deliberate attempt by NXIVM to mislead the public in the mistaken belief that Forbes somehow endorsed and/or lauded the group.

The brochure, which is a promotion for Executive Success Programs also lists “presenters,” including Esther Chiappone, who according to the brochure was “primarily responsible for the company’s unprecedented growth in Anchorage, Alaska.”

Readers of may recall that it was during an Anchorage ESP program that one participant, Kristin Snyder, tragically committed suicide.

Ms. Snyder’s last recorded words were, “I attended a course called Executive Success Programs (a.k.a. Nexivm) based out of Anchorage, AK, and Albany, NY. I was brainwashed and my emotional center of the brain was killed/turned off. I still have feeling in my external skin, but my internal organs are rotting. Please contact my parents … if you find me or this note. I am sorry life, I didn’t know I was already dead. May we persist into the future.”

Forbes reported that three other NXIVM participants required psychiatric care and that one was hospitalized.

NXIVM’s brochure also engages in “name dropping,” or rather titles, of notable ESP participants such as a “Former US Surgeon General” and a “Former First Lady of Mexico,” but without any endorsements specifically quoting these people.

Additionally, NXIVM touts the participation of a “CEO from Forbes 400 Wealthiest List,” which appears to be Edgar Bronfman Sr.

However, Mr. Bronfman abruptly discontinued his involvement with the group and said, “I think it’s a cult,” when asked for a comment by Forbes.

Again, this is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Interestingly, Oprah Winfrey allegedly “highlighted” Nancy Salzman “in this year’s O Magazine.”

But of course that’s according to a brochure that cannot always be relied upon for its accuracy.

The NXIVM brochure seems to represent a serious lapse of “integrity.”

NXIVM says on its webiste, “World ethics can be described as a sense of consistency and integrity throughout the world…However, we cannot bring a world like this into fruition without first truly understanding.” And this statement then concludes, “NXIVM represents the possibility for this victory.”

But if NXIVM has problems itself with “consistency and integrity,” how can it “bring the world,” or anyone, into any genuine understanding of those principles?

Note: After this article was posted an O Magazine spokesperson told CultNews, “Nancy Salzman appeared in a June 2003 O, The Oprah Magazine ‘real woman’ fashion story. The story simply listed Ms. Salzman’s title and occupation along with her style preferences. It did not elaborate on her business any further.”

The most notable member of the so-called Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON), often called a “cult,” was former Beatle George Harrison, who gave the group millions.

Harrison penned the song that was to become an enduring Krishna anthem titled My Sweet Lord. But that hit went sour when it was later the subject of a copyright infringement suit, which the singer lost.

Today ISKCON “spokesman” Anuttama Dasa is busy trying to persuade the public that the organization has changed since “the sad days of the ’80s and ’90s.” He is at the hub of a public relations effort and the organization’s seasoned spinmeister.

Dasa held forth recently within what amounts to a puff piece published within the Dallas Morning News.

He wants Texans to believe that ISKCON devotees have gone mainstream. They reportedly “dress in clothes from Brooks Brothers or L.L. Bean” and have joined Middle America.

E. Burke Rochford Jr., a professor at Vermont’s Middlebury College, has worked very closely with Hare Krishna and had articles published within the organization’s official journal. He told the Dallas newspaper, “They’re just now part of the culture in ways that the average person couldn’t have imagined some 20 or 25 years ago.”

Long-time “cult apologist” Larry Shinn not only agreed with Rochford, but claimed that historic “accusations” against the group were somehow based upon “the same activities that made the movement an authentic expression of Hinduism.”

However, Hare Krishna founder Swami Prabhupada once stated, “The Krishna consciousness movement has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or any system of religion…. One should clearly understand that the Krishna consciousness movement is not preaching the so-called Hindu religion.”

Rather than accepting all this spin from the likes of Dasa, Rochford and Shinn it seems more prudent to carefully examine the real basis for “accusations” against the Hare Krishna movement.

The so-called “sad old days” featured horrific psychological, emotional, physical and at times sexual abuse, that many ISKCON adherents endured at the organization’s hands, including children.

Some of that abuse has been openly acknowledged by ISKCON, since the facts have become common knowledge.

“Speaking as a member of the first generation, we made a lot of mistakes,” Anuttama Dasa admitted within the Dallas article. Later in the report such “mistakes” were consigned to the acts of “overzealous” devotees.


How did Krishna devotees become so “overzealous,” if not through the indoctrination, continuing influence and policies of ISKCON’s leaders?

This “abuse excuse” has become something of a mantra amongst “cults.”

That is, whenever abuses are publicly exposed, they often blame this on “overzealous” members, rather than admit the obvious, which is that such abuses stem from the leadership, its policies and/or its own gross negligence.

Published author and former decade long Hare Krishna devotee Nori Muster sees things differently than apparent apologist Shinn and ISKCON published researcher Rochford.

Muster wrote a thought-provoking piece titled Can Cult Groups Change (1999). Speaking specifically about ISKCON she said, “If the organization now really wants to change for the better, it should remove all illegitimate gurus, Governing Body Commission (GBC) board members, temple presidents, sannyasis (priests), and zone managers. There are at least 20-30 illegitimate leaders that still remain firmly in place within its hierarchy.”

But ISKCON didn’t do that.

The same leadership that controlled the Hare Krishna movement through its so-called “sad days” remained essentially intact. And ISKCON’s leaders continue to lack any meaningful constitutional accountability through organizational checks and balances implemented through bylaws and institutional financial transparency.

Instead, the reported “new faces of Krishna” can easily be seen as a largely superficial pose and part of an ongoing public relations strategy, made necessary by a $400 million dollar class action lawsuit.

ISKCON has currently sought refuge from that lawsuit through the protection provided by Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

The litigation addresses the damage done by Hare Krishna’s “mistakes,” which includes the gross abuse of its children consigned like chattel to ISKCON “boarding schools.”

Krishna kids were not only frequently subjected to substandard living conditions, but also at times brutally beaten and even raped by adult devotees.

Certainly these were “sad days” for the children who were not later meaningfully compensated.

According to ISKCON’s peripatetic spokesman Dasa we are to believe that they will eventually receive something through a settlement plan being devised through the current bankruptcy proceeding.

However, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs called the bankruptcy a “dodge,” contrived to avoid any serious settlement. And to date Hare Krishna has reportedly only paid a paltry $2,000 per victim in “grants” to some of the victimized children.

By comparison Muster suggests that it would be “more reasonable to give $30,000 for each count of abuse to each victim.”

Incredibly the Hare Krishna movement wants everyone to believe it is impoverished. “The movement is poor – surviving, but poor,” claims one devotee interviewed by the Dallas Morning News.

However, this incredible claim ignores the vast wealth accumulated by the organization through real estate holdings, book sales and donations. One Ford Motor heir alone is now giving millions for building projects in India.

It is sad to see how many responsible people seem to have been taken in by ISKCON’s spin and apparent apologists.

But Muster sees through such maneuvering and instead has focused her attention steadfastly on the behavior, policies and leadership structure of the organization.

“In order for ISKCON to really change all these attitudes must change and then it could really become a better organization,” Ms. Muster summarized succinctly.

A new book is out that skewers Scientology and “cults” titled “Hollywood Interrupted” by Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner. And it recently hit 15 on the New York Times bestseller list.

The sensational screed is getting mixed reviews, but this seems to depend upon which end of the political spectrum critics fit into, liberals hate it and conservatives love it.

Breitbart and Ebner are harsh on Hollywood fixing their scrutiny on the foibles of its stars, such as their pretentiousness, politics, narcissism and often self-indulgent lifestyles.

In Part III, “The Believers” the authors have two chapters devoted entirely to Hollywood’s fringe religious groups

The first installment is called “Karma Chameleons,” and it sends up everything from yoga classes for pregnant women to actor Steven Segal’s claim that he is somehow an “anointed Tulku” of Buddhism.

The second chapter titled “Shilling for Scientology” delves into the secrets of this sect that boasts celebrity boosters like Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Breibart and Ebner say that “once hooked and drawn [stars] find it near impossible to leave Scientology.”

They then proceed to review the group’s pseudo-scientific practices, expose its bizarre claims about “Theatons” from outer space and explain how Scientology has turned litigation into a virtual religious rite.

Hollywood Interrupted offers a cutting look at the world of “cults” within “Tinsel Town.”

Note: Rick Ross assisted the authors in their research and is prominently quoted within the book.

Another tragedy has occurred in California drawing public attention to the activity of small so-called “family cults.”

57-year-old Marcus D. Wesson was the head of what appears to have been a self-styled religious sect.

Wesson ruled like a polygamist patriarch over a small group of women and children. He was a stern authoritarian that lived off the wages of his “wives,” while he stayed home and collected welfare.

A forensic psychologist called Wesson a “charismatic psychopath” and compared him to past cult leaders like David Koresh and Brian Mitchell, the kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart reported the Mercury News.

Nine bodies lay in the wake of Wesson’s wrath. He is now charged with the murder of family members found in a twisted pile of corpses. Wesson was arrested covered in blood.

This gruesome “cult” crime is the worst mass murder in the history of Fresno, California. And some claim that local police could have done more to prevent it reports Associated Press.

Marcus Wesson is hauntingly reminiscent of another California “cult leader” named Winnfred Wright. Wright 46 was sentenced last year to a 16-year prison term for felony child abuse.

Wright’s 19-month old son died from complications connected to rickets, a rare disease contracted when someone is not exposed to the sun.

Like the Wessons the Wright family lived a bizarre life of imposed isolation.

The Wright household also like the Wessons was composed of women living in submission to one man’s rule and idiosyncratic beliefs, which included strict discipline and a strange diet that led to a child’s death.

Wright’s women later said they were “brainwashed,” and a judge agreed allowing one to be “deprogrammed,” but nevertheless later sentencing her to a prison term.

That woman told the court, “Mind control is a reality,” and expressed “great sorrow” about her baby’s death saying she would be “ashamed for the rest of [her] life” reported the Marin Independent Journal.

Marcus Wesson’s sister-in-law described him as “an evil person” that like Winnfred Wright demanded total control over his family of followers reported the Fresno Bee.

However, two of Wesson’s women broke away and took legal action to free their children.

But before police could return the two 7-year-olds to their waiting mothers they were both killed.

It seems that when confronted with losing control of his household kingdom Marcus Wesson decided to murder everyone.

In this sense he appears to be not unlike cult leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones and Luc Joret, who when faced with losing personal power also decided to kill their followers rather than surrender control.

But unlike Jones, Koresh and Joret, Marcus Wesson did not take his own life and will face justice.

Wesson’s sister-in-law told reporters that in the end he exercised “the ultimate control” of life or death over his family.

Now it seems the justice system will rightfully ultimately control the rest of Marcus Wesson’s sordid life.