CultNews reported last month how a former truck driver in California that calls himself “Buddha Maitreya” got mad when some monks he hosted from Tibet wouldn’t recognize that preposterous title.

Busted 'Buddha' Ron Spencer Ronald Lloyd Spencer’s “Church of Shambala,” which has been called a “cult,” sponsored seven monks to make the journey to America. However, it seems when the monks refused to recognize Spencer as the reincarnation of “Buddha” the church “abruptly withdrew its support, their religious visas were revoked and a dozen immigration officers in riot gear showed up to arrest them…”

After the negative fallout from this it seems a legal settlement was struck between the would-be “Buddha” and the mistreated monks.

According to a document dated March 9th and recently forwarded to CultNews that settlement not surprisingly includes what is commonly called a “gag order.”

It states, “In the interest of settlement of all differences, legal disputes, claims and causes of action, the parties, including their legal representatives, agree not to have any further contact with the media, which includes newspaper, television, radio and internet websites, or any other media form for the purpose of discussing any issue of the Monks and the Church of Shambala and the dispute regarding the visa revocation…”

It concludes, “The Church of Shambala and the Monks recognize that there are differing accounts of the events leading up to the arrest of the Monks and thereafter but wish no further reporting on this matter…”

Well, it looks like the monks got a good lawyer and Ron Spencer wants everyone kept quiet. 

Daniel Honeywell, Spencer’s disciple and representative, said that the document he forwarded via email to CultNews was supposedly “self-explanatory” and “flows from” an article previously published by the New York Times.

Hopefully, what “flows from” all this is that the monks were well provided for and traveled back to their native land peacefully and in comfort. Though the matter might have been concluded better if Spencer and his church offered them a public apology.

But despite the settlement, which essentially silences the monks on the matter, this self-proclaimed “Buddha” has been busted as an egotist and certainly less than hospitable host to say the least. 

CultNews thinks it will require virtually endless reincarnations according to Buddhism before someone like Ron Spencer ever reaches spiritual maturity. 

HBO will launch its new series about polygamy called “Big Love” this Sunday. But before the airing of the show’s first episode critics have already weighed in.

Joseph Smith the first Mormon polygamist“To make polygamy…the subject of television entertainment is not only a bad idea, but it’s going to add to the pain of those victims,” a Mormon Church spokesperson told Associated Press.

However, it should be pointed out that the pain of polygamy actually began in 1843 when Joseph Smith the fanciful creator of Mormonism claimed he received a “revelation from God” that essentially allowed him to have as many women as he wanted.

This supposed and rather self-serving message from the Almighty set into place a practice that would continue amongst Mormons for decades. And notably included not only Smith, but also the church’s second most revered “prophet” Brigham Young, who had scores of wives.

Later a very pragmatic Mormon prophet named Wilford Woodruff would come up with his own convenient “revelation” during 1890, just in time for Utah’s Mormons to meet a precondition for statehood.

However, many Mormons continued to believe in Joseph Smith’s earlier epiphany and kept observing the practice of polygamy, despite what would eventually be known as “The Woodruff Manifesto.”

There are about 50,000 polygamists still left in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Some are strange idiosyncratic groups like the one led by an excommunicated former Mormon James Harmston in Manti, Utah called “The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days,” or “TLC” for short. Harmston says that he is the reincarnation of Joseph Smith, that’s his “revelation.”

But many polygamists can trace their history back to the time when most Mormons routinely observed the practice as something similar to an “article of faith.”

And the Mormon Church doesn’t appreciate HBO reminding everyone about all this.

Brigham Young had scores of wives“You only have to mention Salt Lake City and polygamy and Mormons in the same breath and people will start to get those old stereotypes again,” the Mormon spokesperson told Associated Press.

The legacy of polygamy is indeed strewn with stereotypical patriarchal authoritarian types beginning with Smith and Young.

The Village Voice review reports that HBO has cast actor Harry Dean Stanton as the “cultish” leader of its fictional rural polygamist clan. At one point during the first episode Stanton declares, “There’s man’s law and there’s God’s law, and I think you know which side I’m on.”

Well, that sounds like something Joseph Smith and Brigham Young might have said.   

Most recently the pain of polygamy has quite literally come running and screaming from behind closed doors into the media spotlight. Those that have escaped its sinister embrace have told of rapes, beatings and the plight of underage girls married off to middle aged men.

Incest and birth defects due to the inbred nature of polygamist communities have also recently been detailed.

All of this has finally been scrutinized after years of official neglect by the legal authorities in Utah and Arizona, the two states with the largest population of polygamists.

The most prominent polygamist groups within these states are the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) once headquartered in Arizona and the Kingston clan in Utah. Both of these rich and powerful groups have experienced judicial crackdowns as the courts have intervened to reign in their excesses. 

Warren Jeffs, the titular “prophet” of the FLDS is now a leader on the lam hunted by the FBI with a reward on his anointed head.

Kingston patriarchs have been sentenced to jail time and the courts regarding their care and treatment of children have monitored some families within that group.

The abuse is not in just the isolated areas, [polygamy] deals with power and control. Those individuals feel coerced into it, even if it’s a subtle coercion, a religious coercion,” says Vicky Prunty, director of the anti-polygamy group Tapestry Against Polygamy. 

HBO “Big Love” co-creator Mark V. Olsen wants everyone to know, “There is no way we want to whitewash the abuses. That’s very important to us. Stick with us in our story lines. This is a concern that we are responsive to.”

However, “Big Love” seems to have more in common with the hit show “Desperate Housewives” than the real living conditions often endured by polygamist families.

The Village Voice says HBO is “making the viewer sympathize with husband Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), who comes across not as an exploitative patriarch but as a decent man stretched to the limit…It’s an entertaining, never ending power struggle with a distinct pecking order.”  

Is this the Hollywood version of polygamy?

Meanwhile the women and children caught within the web of polygamy probably don’t find their lives quite so “entertaining.”

Indonesia has been “deprogramming” terrorists successfully, and such efforts have yielded meaningful results, as formerly “brainwashed” fanatics provide helpful inside information about their organizations.

Some “civil libertarians” insist upon labeling this process “torture.”

However, deprogramming typically consists of discussion between the designated “deprogrammer” and the “brainwashed” member of a “cult” or as reported within Indonesia a radical Islamic group linked to terrorist attacks.

Australian Minister Downer considering 'deprogramming' as tool against terrorismIndonesia has used a former member to do its deprogramming of convicted terrorists. The man is also a Moslem cleric and has effectively turned extremists to a more moderate faith. Subsequently, those turned have reportedly provided information on terrorist operations to authorities.

The same deprogramming process has been used in Singapore, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And the Australian government is currently considering using deprogramming tactics too reports The Age.

“In many parts of the world, in Europe, in the Middle East and certainly in Indonesia, those governments have made an attempt to persuade extremists and terrorists who’ve been held in prison to change their point of view and to understand that it’s not the Islamic way to kill, it’s not the Islamic way to murder. And in some cases that process has been successful. It’s something that we will give thought to,” said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

The word “deprogramming” was demonized by groups called “cults” in the United Stated beginning in the 1970s as part of an ongoing propaganda campaign to end the practice. Groups called “cults” such as the Unification Church led by Rev. Sun Myung Moon lost many members through such interventions.

Cults despised deprogramming because it worked.

Seemingly in response to the cult propaganda campaign new terms and descriptions were coined to describe essentially the same practice such as “exit-counseling,” “thought reform consultation,” “strategic intervention therapy” and “cult intervention.

Psychologist Margaret Singer, the preeminent cult expert of the 20th Century, defined “deprogramming” as simply “providing members with information about the cult and showing them how their own decision-making power had been taken away from them.”

Noted psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton defined the process often used to compromise “decision-making power” as “thought reform.” His lauded book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism became a seminal classic and the guide used by deprogrammers to define and determine “cult brainwashing” techniques.

The first cult deprogrammer was Ted Patrick, often called “Black Lightening” by the cults he opposed.

Some of those deprogrammed during the 1970s and later subsequently became deprogrammers themselves. 

Osama bin 'brainwasher'?Now the families of terrorists, such as the followers Osama bin Laden, say their loved ones are also the victims of “brainwashing” and thus became terrorist pawns. An article recounting such stories and reviewing the parallels that can be seen between terrorist training and thought reform has been archived for some time at Cult

It is interesting to observe that Islamic countries are now largely leading the way in an effort to effectively adapt deprogramming as a response to terrorist indoctrination. 

Waleed Kadous, spokesman for the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network, does not oppose deprogramming if it’s voluntary.

“It’s important to highlight that already many respected scholars in the Muslim community are informally deconstructing terrorism and condemning terrorism to their congregations” reported Al Jazeera.

Understanding the process of thought reform and how to unravel its effects is an important step in the fight against global terrorism. Rather than simply blaming culture, religion or politics for the increase of terrorist attacks this response recognizes the reality that almost every nation or region around the world has been affected by “cult brainwashing” and related tragedies.

As deprogrammers have proven in the past and as they are proving within Islamic nations like Indonesia today, those programmed by radical and extremist groups can be helped and that destructive mindset unraveled

'TomKat' tag team?The Church of Scientology’s number one missionary is Tom Cruise, and now it appears he may be using both his wife and their unborn child in an attempt to draw in some very special new celebrities.

Katie Holmes, perhaps Scientology’s version of the “Virgin Mary,” is approaching the birth day of her firstborn and she has managed to get Victoria Beckham involved in the blessed event.

Ms. Beckham the wife of soccer superstar David Beckham has become Katie’s “birthing partner” reports Entertainment

Scientology’s “Top Gun” has seemingly been taking aim at the Beckhams for some time apparently hoping to bag the two for his church. Victoria, the former “Posh Spice,” has already reportedly been seen reading Scientology literature.

Now according to news reports she is seeing the future Mrs. Cruise “twice a week…to discuss any worries Katie may have and…breathing techniques.” Could it be that Holmes, a new convert to Scientology, is hoping to breathe a little religion into their relationship?

Victoria BeckhamIs “TomKat” working like a tag team to get Great Britain’s top celebrity couple into the controversial organization, often called a “cult”?

“Victoria has become a mother hen to Katie and was thrilled when she asked her to be her birthing partner. Victoria remembers how scary it was when she had her first child. She can’t imagine how difficult it will be for Katie to give birth [Scientology style] quietly and without any pain killers” a source told the press.

Soccer superstar 'Beck'Well, maybe all that pain will be worth it if Scientology’s top star can recruit the most popular British celebs outside the royal family.

It would be a bigger catch than hooking the couple of Australian billionaire’s heirs the movie star has been recently cruising around with, at least in terms of generating increased public interest in the church that Rolling Stone reported may be shrinking.

Beck’s soccer superstar status spans the globe and curious fans might just stop in to see what Scientology is all about if their idol was involved.

Pregnancy as a tool for proselytizing?

It might just turn out to be another “mission impossible,” but it seems that Tom Cruise never stops trying.

'Edna' sings in 'Hairspray'John Travolta has been cast to play Edna Turnblad for the new film version of Hairspray, which is based upon the hit Broadway musical. This latest incarnation of the John Waters creation is scheduled for release in Britain during 2007 reports the London Evening Standard.

Hairspray has an interesting history. Following in the footsteps of the Broadway smash hit The Producers by Mel Brooks, it was first a “cult movie,” then successfully adapted for Broadway and now it’s being made again into a movie.

Travolta is certainly an interesting and sure to be controversial choice for the role of Ms. Edna, a part made popular by two gay actors. First, actor Glen Milstead known to his fans as “Divine” played Edna Turnblad. He became a “cult film” star through recurring roles in movies beginning with the “cult classic” Pink Flamingos made by gay director John Waters. Divine died shortly after the release of the original Hairspray in 1988.The second Ms. Edna was Harvey Fierstein, an outspoken gay activist, that won the Tony for his much praised Broadway performance.

But now comes John Travolta, rumored for years to be a “closeted” gay actor. Likely to become perhaps even more controversial is this star’s long-standing devotion to Scientology, a religion founded by a man many regarded as “homophobic.”

According to L. Ron Hubbard Scientology’s founder gays “should be taken from…society as rapidly as possible” because “no social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst” reported Rolling Stone.

But if Hubbard had historically had his way there would be no John Waters films in America and no gay actors to play the part of Edna Turnblad, which would of course leave Mr. Travolta with no new character role. And it’s doubtful that Scientology’s savior would find anything appealing about Travolta dressed in drag as Edna Turnblad.

Hubbard instead was known for not so flattering “sendups of effeminate homosexuals” within his Sci-fi writings.

Yet there have been persistent rumors regarding an alleged Scientology penchant for “bearding” or helping to disguise its celebrity gay members.

Shortly after tabloid press stories began to circulate about John Travolta’s supposed homosexual affairs; he was married to Scientologist and actress Kelly Preston. And not long after Michael Jackson was first accused of molesting little boys, he married Scientologist Lisa Marie Presley. Travolta in 'Battlefield Earth'The rumored secret lives of Scientology stars was recently lampooned in the South Park episode “Trapped in the Closet,” in which both John Travolta and Tom Cruise were ridiculed and inferred to be secretly gay.

John Travolta’s career has not been going that well since his role as a space alien in the box office bomb Battlefield Earth, which was based upon a book by his hero Hubbard. According to a press report the 52-year-old actor “was desperate for the role” in Hairspray.

What will fans of Hairspray and John Waters think of the recent casting announcements?

Queen Latifah has been cast as “Motormouth Maybelle,” another prominent role in the same film, which is likely to generate a positive buzz, but it seems unlikely that Travolta can do the same.

The character of Edna Turnblad, as played by Divine and Fierstein, is after all about being proud of who you are and taking a stand about it.

However, other than standing up for Scientology and praising its founder L. Ron Hubbard, Mr. Travolta doesn’t appear to stand for much.

The former “Vinnie Barbarino” of the TV sitcom Welcome Back Kotter and star of Grease may be “desperate” to repackage and market himself as a comic actor, but will Hairspray fans be desperate enough to buy it?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi wants the world to know that he has a system for “invincible defense,” but the guru’s plan somehow doesn’t work at his own school in Iowa.

89-year-old Maharishi  The former spiritual mentor to the Beatles says his plan “calls for establishing in each nation a small group of Yogic Flyers who will enliven Total Natural Law”the light of God”and create a high level of integrated collective consciousness” This will then become “the basis [for]…permanent peace on earth,” according to a recent press release from the “Global Country of World Peace.”

The guru also claims that his “technologies” create an “all-powerful field of invincibility” that will “make any nation invincible.”

So why didn’t this supposedly technological achievement work at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa?

One former MUM enrollee and the family of another who was killed in a stabbing on the school campus in 2004 have filed seperate lawsuits in U.S. District Court. The plaintiff’s allege that MUM was “negligent” and failed to protect its pupils from the rampage of a student known to be violent reports the Des Moines Register.

Maharishi claims that if governments will just support and subsidize his proposed “all-powerful field” no nation need “sacrifice its youth” in war.

However, according to the recently filed federal lawsuits a youth at MUM was sacrificed needlessly and no “all-powerful field” protected him from a crazed killer.

And what about that murderer, who was once a deeply devoted disciple of Maharishi? Why didn’t the guru’s teachings help him?

MUM student Shuvender Sem, 26, was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and has since been committed to an Iowa institution for the mentally ill.272-acre MUM campus

This is hardly a ringing endorsement for Maharishi’s “unified field,” which somehow must have short-circuited when it came to making Sem peaceful.

Maybe before preaching peace plans to the world Maharishi should test them out first at his own schools and see if they work, before hoping to sell them to others.

Or doesn’t his much-touted “Transcendental Meditation” bring about inner peace to the guru’s own devoted followers?

And if it doesn’t work for them why should it work for anyone else?

Instead of the guru’s “Yogic Flyers” attempting to “enliven Total Natural Law” worldwide, perhaps they should try calming down a couple of hundred acres at MUM first, or at least circle its campus periodically to provide better security for the students 

Madonna may be willing to wait for the “messiah” in an Israeli “shack,” but her spiritual mentors at the “Kabbalah Centre” have other ideas.

Berg row in Beverly HillsPhilip and Karen Berg, founders of the “Kabbalah Centre,” and the families of their two sons have moved into luxurious multi-million dollar mini-mansions, often called “McMansions” in California.

The last branch of the family to take up residence was none other than Mama and Papa Berg themselves, in a house between their two baby Bergs.

The three mansions are situated side-by-side on South Almont Drive in Beverly Hills and each is conservatively worth more than $2 million dollars. 

The opulent centerpiece of this trio of real estate treasures is the lavishly appointed new home of Philip and Karen Berg. One son resides on other side of this mini-manse with their respective families. On one side is Michael Berg and on the other his brother Yehuda.

Snug isn’t it?

All three of these McMansions were reportedly paid for and are titled to the Kabbalah Centre, a supposedly “nonprofit charity.”

Madonna has given millions to the Berg organization through charitable gifts and is apparently the group’s biggest giver.

Maybe this is why the Bergs don’t need to wait in Israel for their “messiah”? After all hasn’t their “messiah” already arrived, in the form of the former “Material Girl” herself.

The pop diva has certainly made the Berg’s lifestyle quite heavenly hasn’t she?

A source has told CultNews that grand gilded furniture, very pricey accessories and impressive objects of art have been seen being carried into Mommy and Daddy Berg’s little domed mini-palace. And also, that shiny new Mercedes are darting in and out the three little manses with assorted Bergs behind the wheel.

Sadly though, it appears that Philip Berg has not sufficiently recovered from a recent stroke to walk into his new home unassisted and he doesn’t speak that well either.

Amazingly, the miraculous “Kabbalah Water” and equally blessed “Kabbalah Energy Drink” seemingly haven’t worked any wonders for the man known to his followers as “The Rav.”

Some might say Madonna needs a proverbial “love shack” to rekindle the flame of her failing marriage, but instead the 47-year-old pop diva is scouring a certain area in Israel looking for any “old shack” for religious purposes instead.

Like so many things the former “Material Girl” does these days her latest foray into the Israeli real estate market is motivated by her obsessive devotion to the Kabbalah Centre, run by Philip Berg and his family.

This piece of property must be a “house overlooking the Sea of Galilee at the place where followers of her Kabbalist faith expect the Messiah to reappear” reports the Sunday Times.

It seems that someone representing the star phoned quite a few homeowners in the area making hefty offers.

One woman who owns an old stone cottage in this designated space for future miracles says she will happily sell her home to Madonna for double the going price, a cool $1 million dollars.

The pop star supposedly wants to renovate whatever property she picks up into a reading room for her Kabbalah cronies.

Meanwhile Abba star Bjorn Ulavaeus, the man that sold Madonna the hook for her latest hit, blasted celebrity-driven religious trends.

“The Waterloo hit maker believes musicians exploit fashionable belief systems such as Scientology and Kabbalah, because they want to impress their fans” reports Web

“Many artists are trend-sensitive. They travel a path that they believe can benefit their career,” he said.

Snuggled down in sensible Stockholm perhaps Ulavaeus doesn’t realize that artists are just as vulnerable to cult “brainwashing” as anyone else.

And it appears that Madonna, under the influence of the trendy Kabbalah Centre, has made it the center of her life.

Scientology's 'Top Gun'Janet Reitman wrote a 13,000-word article for the February 23rd  issue of Rolling Stone magazine titled “Inside Scientology.” It may well be the most comprehensive and meticulous journalistic work about the controversial church written since 1991, when Rich Behar completed the cover story “Scientology: The Cult of Greed” for Time Magazine.

Though not as tough as the Time piece Reitman’s effort may pack enough punch, according to Fox News entertainment reporter Roger Friendman, to “drive a permanent wedge between Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner.”

However, there isn’t anything really that new in Rolling Stone. Essentially it’s a rehash of Scientology’s turbulent history and the often-troubled life of its founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Included are some compelling personal stories of kids that have suffered through and left Scientology, rejecting their family religion.

An obligatory paean if of course is included regarding Hubbard’s absurd “space opera” about an “evil galactic warlord named Xenu,” which Scientologists accept as religious truth.

Somewhat amusing was Mike Rinder, Scientology’s “Number Two,” getting red faced and going into a “tirade” over Reitman’s questions concerning the unusual belief. “I’m not explaining it to you, and I could not explain it to you…you don’t have a hope of understanding it,” he said. 

The comedy show South Park apparently did understand “Xenu,” as a joke.

Rolling Stone did clarify that though Scientology “claims 10 million members” and has holdings valued “in the billions of dollars” it may actually only have “a core practicing membership…between 100,000 and 200,000.”

Nothing new here, but worth including. Some “journalists” never bother to qualify the claims of Scientology.

In fact according to one set of figures Reitman cited “Scientology is shrinking.”

Scientology's 'volunteer ministers'Maybe that’s why Tom Cruise is always frantically proselytizing and Scientology’s “volunteer ministers” keep showing up at disasters around the world in those bright yellow jackets?

Rolling Stone did the requisite debunking of L. Ron Hubbard’s grandiose official biography. Scientology’s “genius” flunked out of college and was no war hero. He also wasn’t a very loyal friend to his benefactor Whiteside Parsons. After moving in with the wealthy scientist and “helping him with a variety of black-magic and sex rituals” as his “apprentice” Hubbard took up with the man’s mistress, who later became one of his wives.

Perhaps the most interesting facts reported by Reitman were about Scientology’s savior’s death.

According to a coroner’s report Rolling Stone cited Hubbard expired “in a state of decrepitude: unshaven, with long, thinning whitish-red hair and unkempt fingernails and toenails.” And within his “system was the anti-anxiety drug hydroxyzine (Vistaril).”

Sounds a bit like the last days of strange reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Now what would Tom Cruise say about that?

Scientology’s “Top Gun” criticized Brooke Shields for psychiatric drug use, would he criticize the savior of Scientology for the same supposed “sin”?

Hubbard didn’t like homosexuals, which may explain why some Scientologists are purportedly “trapped in the closet.” And if they ever “come out” he advised that “such people should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible” because “no social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst” quoted Rolling Stone.

The founder of Scientology would be an anachronism in today’s Hollywood given the Oscar nominations for a “gay cowboy movie” and another film based upon the work of the effete author Truman Capote.

Don’t expect Tom Cruise or John Travolta to hand out an Oscar to somone associated with one of those two films.

The only really startling thing about Janet Reitman’s piece for Rolling Stone is how commonplace Scientology revelations have now become.

Once it was daring for a reporter to expose the dark side of the controversial church, now it’s expected and everyone seems to know about “Xenu.”

Another interesting development is that Scientology doesn’t sue like it used to. South Park literally dared the formerly litigious church, but it demurred. And it probably won’t sue Rolling Stone either.

It seems that Scientology has learned that suing its critics only affords them more attention, engenders bad press and further criticism.

Maybe the cebrity handlers at the church could help Tom Cruise calm down, isn’t there a course they can sell him for that?

Before the release of his blockbuster album Thriller Michael Jackson used to walk the blocks going door-to-door as one of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” He has since separated himself from his family religion and it seems most recently decided to embrace Islam.

Michael JacksonJackson is now hanging his hat and glove in Bahrain, courtesy of the ruler’s son, and the star reportedly plans to build a mosque to honor his newfound faith reports Web

The planned 98-foot edifice would be built on land adjoining the royal compound.

But could this be a mere stunt to please his generous hosts?

“Michael is looking to give something backJackson shopping dressed like Arab woman to the country that has welcomed him so openly,” Jackson’s spokeswoman said. The singer has been in Bahrain since June, moving there shortly after he was acquitted of child molestation charges in California.  

Michael Jackson’s spiritual journey has included his childhood Witness faith, a stint exploring Scientology with ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley and then a turn with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam in the midst of his criminal prosecution as an alleged pedophile.

Arguably, religion for Jackson seems to spring forth more as a pragmatic response to his circumstances rather than through any personal revelation. 

Once the “King of Pop” Jackson is now the beggar of kings according to Roger Friedman of Fox News who says he is “Bahrain’s most famous celeb freeloader.”

“Neverland may no longer be insured, the zoo animals are looking for a new home and staff remains unpaid” reports Friedman. And Jackson’s ex-wife Deborah Rowe has been waging a legal battle against the singer along with a growing line of litigants trying to get at whatever is left of the star’s assets.

Even his lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. dumped Jackson amidst rumors that he is behind on his legal bills.

So it appears it’s a good time to get religion, which might buy the “Gloved One” more time as a special guest in Bahrain.

But the former “Peter Pan” of Neverland better be careful in the Arab emirate. Islamic law is harsh when it comes to pedophiles. And homosexual acts are a crime “punished by 10 years of imprisonment maximum. When the victim is under 14 years of age…punishable even with the consent of the victim” cites Sodomy  The same Web site reports that in 2002 Bahrain deported 2,000 gays.

Jackson has been spotted dressed in Arab drag shopping; one salesman thought he was a “wealthy Saudi woman” reports Associated Press. “I looked at the person’s shoes and found they were men’s shoes. That’s when I guessed it was Michael Jackson,” he said.

The former superstar may find things increasingly difficult in his newfound homeland.

“He should keep his concerts and his effeminate manners away from us,” said Bahrain lawmaker Adel al-Maawda, one of the country’s most conservative clerics.

So regardless of whatever religious epiphany Jackson claims to have experienced lately, he better watch his step.