NPR offered yet another installment yesterday of its “politically correct” view of so-called “New Religions” titled “Soka Gakkai” on All Things Considered.

This program focused on a controversial group called Soka Gakkai International (SGI); another group that has been called a “cult.”

But listeners didn’t hear the “c” word at any time within this report, which sounded more like an infomercial scripted by SGI than objective reporting.

SGI is a sect controlled by a by a Japanese businessman Daisaku Ikeda.

One of the most powerful men in Japan Ikeda has been both condemned and praised “as a devil and an angel, a Hitler and a Gandhi, a despot and a democrat” reported the Los Angeles Times.

Ikeda also controls the “New Komeito” party in Japan, which has been called the “political arm” of SGI.

However, NPR chose to never say Ikeda’s name or cite his role at any time during its broadcast. This was tantamount to explaining the Roman Catholic Church without mentioning the Pope, though some might observe that Ikeda’s religious significance within SGI might be more akin to Jesus.

NPR featured a plethora of SGI devotees rhapsodizing about how constant chanting helps their lives; one said it puts “gasoline” in her tank.

And of course like many groups called “cults” this one has celebrities too, Tina Turner and jazz musician Herbie Hancock are members.

NPR did mention parenthetically that the SGI teaching, you can chant for whatever you want, has been called “prosperity Buddhism.” However, there was no meaningful critique of the practice.

Former members of SGI have spoken out about the group’s abuses, but those voices were never heard.

“Very little about actual Buddhism is discussed by SGI, as most meetings and publications revolve around Ikeda and his writings, and a constant drama regarding the bad relations between SGI and it’s parent organization, Nichiren Shoshu, which excommunicated SGI several years ago.” said one former member.

NPR never cited this rift, even though they offered a supposed historical background about the group.

The broadcast also touted SGI’s status as a UN NGO (non-governmental organization).

Rev. Moon of the Unification Church also boasts UN NGO status, but as he knows such recognition can essentially be bought by paying dues and generally lubricating that international body financially.

NPR also reported that a liberal arts college was launched by SGI in California.

But nothing was said about the controversy that engulfed the school in its first 18 months. “Allegations of religious preferences” were reportedly the cause for a teacher exodus including its faculty dean and a prominent professor amidst campus protests.

NPR did find time though for two authors to plug SGI friendly books, one called “Soka Gakkai in America: Accommodation and Conversion.”

The Public Radio broadcast at times sounded more like a crusade than a news program.

Note: The introductory host of NPR’s “New Religions” series Barbara Bradley Hagerty seems to have her own critics. CultNews was recently notified that there have been serious questions raised “about Hagerty’s blatant conflict of interest and violation of professional ethics” (see report).


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