It appears that Scientology and/or Scientologists may be actively involved in a spamming campaign to boost Tom Cruise’s sagging popularity.

Cruise the falling star?The New York Post reports that “Cruise’s cronies seem to have put a lot of effort into skewing a Parade magazine poll in his favor.”

That Internet vote was taken to measure public opinion, whether Tom Cruise or the press, is responsible for the movie star’s public relations meltdown. 

84% of the respondents supposedly said they blamed the press, but Parade wasn’t buying it.

Instead staffers at the magazine thought there was something “fishy” about the results.

Parade’s publicist Alexis Collado told the Post, “We…found out more than 14,000 (of the 18,000-plus votes) that came in were cast from only 10 computers! One computer was responsible for nearly 8,400 votes alone, all blaming the media for Tom’s troubles. We also discovered that at least two other machines were the sources of inordinate numbers of votes. It seems these folks (whoever they may be) resorted to extraordinary measures to try to portray Tom in a positive light for the survey. There is even a chance they wrote a special ‘bot’ program for the sole purpose of skewing the results, rather than casting the votes by hand on a computer.”

“Whoever they may be”? 

Since almost all of Cruise’s inner circle of “cronies” are Scientologists it seems almost certain that the “they” Collado refers to, are probably members of the controversial church, often called a “cult.”

Scientologists already have a reputation for spamming on the Internet. And the church’s netizens often appear to use “bot” programs. So what happened to Parade appears to fit a familiar pattern.

Historically Scientology has been accused repeatedly of supporting “spam teams.”

It seems that when legal threats failed to intimidate its Internet critics at discussion groups the next step was “Scientology spamming,” as reported by the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Scientologists also have regularly been accused of using “bot” technology to thwart their critics.

So if it sounds like Scientologists, looks like Scientologists and smells (figuratively speaking) like Scientologists, then it just might be Scientologists that helped out their fellow believer Tom Cruise. 

Is Scientology's bunny running down?After all, the actor is Scientology’s “Top Gun,” and the organization must be concerned about one of its most important assets. Cruise often acts like a never ending “Eveready Energizer Bunny” promoting the controversial church at almost any opportunity, whether its curing drug addicts or dyslexia Cruise’s answer is almost always Scientology.

But it seems Tom Cruise might a falling star. 

In one poll the 43-year-old actor was “voted the person people would least like to go camping overnight with” below Saddam Hussein, reported China Daily

He also beat Paris Hilton and Bobby Brown for the top spot in a Los Angeles Times poll as the “Tackiest Star” of 2005 reported And Cruise picked up the title “most irritating actor in movies” in a vote taken by Britain’s Empire Magazine.

Not long ago the actor also won two not so coveted Razzies. A silver gong for “the most tiresome tabloid target” and he got the gold for “unashamed romancing” reported the BBC News

With such increasing negatives Scientology may be sweating a bit.

As anyone in advertising knows likeability makes a good spokesperson. That is, people don’t buy products from someone they don’t like.

Just ask any sports star that lost an endorsement deal after some personal or professional scandal.

So if people don’t like Tom Cruise how can he successfully sell Scientology?

Enter the spammers and bots to make him look like a victim by deliberately skewing a poll.

Meanwhile Cruise’s spokesman told the Post that he knows “nothing” about the spammers and therefore has “nothing” to say on the subject.

Well, if Scientology and/or its devoted followers did the spamming and bot work, that would provide a comfortable layer of separation, affording both the star and his spokesman “plausible denial.” 

Cruise himself may not be sweating that much because as the BBC observed, “Mission Impossible I and II took nearly $1billion between them. If the third in the series, due for release this summer, is anything like as successful then, as far as the powers that be in Hollywood are concerned, their brightest star can continue to do and say what he pleases.”

But will moviegoers continue to buy the Cruise brand?

If recent polls, ridiculing awards or the seemingly desperate attempt of spammers is any indication, maybe not. 

'Christ Charles' MercedesCultNews has previously reported about the Apostolic Faith Church, often called a “cult,” in Jefferson, Ohio led by Charles Keyes, a man many see as an “evil” influence over his followers.

“Evil is the only word that comes to my mind,” declared a Virginia judge who subsequently ordered that four children be removed from their mother’s custody due to her involvement with the Keyes church.

Carolyn Clark the mother of 13, once loyal to Keyes, was the first of his flock to publicly repudiate him.

But her husband remained a fervent and devoted follower.

After losing custody of the couple’s eight minor children Ralph Clark beat his wife Carolyn to death.

He is now serving a life sentence in an Ohio prison.

More than 20 minor children have been removed from the church that Keyes rules over like a virtual dictator.

Accusations of “brainwashing,” exploitation and illegal child labor have been leveled against the man whose disciples have called him “Christ Charles.”

Bishop K's CadilacHowever, unlike Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, Keyes prefers his pearl white Cadilac, with custom plates that read “Bishop K,” reflecting his self-proclaimed title of “Bishop Keyes.” 

And CultNews has learned that the “Bishop” has apparently just recently purchased a Mercedes, valued at more than $50,000.00. It seems that a Cadilac just wasn’t enough for this allegedly anointed “man of God.”

Keyes’ faithful followers have at times lost homes and cars rather than refuse the financial demands of their leader.

The notorious preacher took over Apostolic Faith Church after his father Oree Keyes, who legitimately held the title of Bishop within a small denomination of Pentecostal churches, became ill. But since that time the denomination that respected the father has thrown out his son.

Keyes’ church includes about 200 members, many of them minor children.

Condo at 'Geneva on the Lake' Some of those children have been subjected to brutal beatings by so-called “deliverance teams.”

A 7-year-old boy was held underwater in a bathtub and later left tied up alone in the church overnight supposedly to break him of bad behavior. The child was later removed by protective services.

Katie Lane, a caseworker for the Ashtabula County Children Services Board specifically assigned to handle cases concerning the Keyes church told a Virginia court during a custody hearing, “I don’t believe any children should be there.”

Increasingly unpopular in Ashtabula Keyes has apparently moved out of his long-time home and leased a condo at “Geneva on the Lake.”

Sources have told CultNews that as many as 15 people at times occupy the two-bedroom 1,500 square foot condominium.

Many women come in and out of Keyes rented residence and the cars of his disciples are parked nearby.

Door to Keyes condoWitnesses have told CultNews that Keyes has been known to have multiple women sleep with him, while devoted female followers lay strewn around his bed on the floor through the night.

Is this what Keyes is up to at his new Lake Geneva digs?

Meanwhile his neighbors may wonder how a two-bedroom condo can physically and/or legally accommodate so many people?

Certainly this doesn’t seem to be “Christ-like” conduct for a supposed “man of God,” but rather reflects the continued bad behavior, which has generated more than a little bad press for the profligate preacher.

Note: Since this article appeared self-proclaimed “Bishop” Charles Keyes and his crew has moved out of their condominium rental. On May 11th Keyes followers loaded up a U-Haul and left for parts unknown. A few days earlier the black Mercedes, driven by the “bishop,” was gone. Apparently, Keyes had already departed before his faithful began packing. The Mercedes S-500 luxury sedan now has a personalized Ohio license plate that reads “1BISHOP.”

The so-called “Twelve Tribes” a purported “cult” that began in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but moved away amidst much controversy more than twenty years ago, appears to be planning  a comeback.

1970s Yellow DeliThis group was known in Chattanooga through its business the “Yellow Deli” during the 1970s. And was led by former carnival barker turned “prophet,” Elbert Eugene Spriggs, who reportedly now lives in Asheville, N.C.

Spriggs followers are spreading the word of their return through “reunion” announcements posted along with their own version of the Twelve Tribes Tennessee history through the Web site

The first reunion was yesterday on Easter Sunday from 2 to 10 PM.

Was this supposedly symbolic of their group’s Tennessee “resurrection”?

The next reunion is scheduled for June 18, from 2 to 10 PM.

Former members of Twelve Tribes that consider the group a destructive “cult,” have a Web site called “Twelve Tribes-EX.” There is also a discussion group available through Yahoo.

Spriggs “dismissed the concerns of those who view the somewhat controversial church group as controlling and cultish,” reported the Web site

We are not a cult, we just had the misfortune of coming together during the time of Jim Jones and the mess in Guyana,” he said.

These gatherings are taking place within the Rose Garden at Warner Park. A public place located at the intersection of 3rd St. and Holtzclaw Ave. not far from the campus of the University of Tennessee and near an old group 1970s address.Twelve Tribes 'prophet' Spriggs and wife Marsha now live in Asheville, NCTwelve Tribes is planning to reopen its “Yellow Deli” in Chattanooga and has launched a Web site.

In 1978 the elders of the group reportedly conceded that their church had an “authoritarian character” reported the Chattanooga Times.

“They call us ‘brain washers.’ I guess we do wash brains,” an elder admitted speaking with Eddie Wiseman to a reporter in 1978. “We must because if we don’t there will be no changing in a person’s life,” he then rationalized.

Wiseman, a native of Chattanooga, has remained a powerful figure in the group along with his wife Jeanne Swantko, its lawyer.

But Wiseman’s own son fled Twelve Tribes and later told the Boston Herald “growing up in there…things…just weren’t right.”

The Herald reported that Wiseman’s son was “abused, forced to work in factories, brainwashed and denied a normal childhood.”

Wiseman, 58, told the Times he plans to relocate to Chattanooga and help operate the new Yellow Deli.

Many other children have also fled the group and described its brutal physical punishment and mistreatment. Some minor children were taken into hiding by Twelve Tribes parents hoping to avoid court rulings regarding child custody, in some cases authorities later made arrests. 

Twelve Tribes chidlren Twelve Tribes kids typically do not attend public schools and begin working at an early age. Authorities in New York fined the group for child labor violations.

Twelve Tribes has also been frequently criticized for its racist teachings.

Spriggs has taught his followers that “Martin Luther King and others have been inspired by the evil one to have forced equality” (“Unraveling the Races of Man” 1988).

Spriggs once observed, “It is horrible that someone would rise up to abolish slavery. What a wonderful opportunity that blacks could be brought over here to be slaves so that they could be found worthy of the nations” (“Cham and Servitude” 1991).

The group has also been called “anti-Jewish.”

Twelve Tribes teaches that “‘Jews are hostile to all men’ except those in Messiah…they are contrary, antagonistic…opposite…opposing…against…opposed…obstinate…The Jews double fallen nature is inclined to be a reproach…to the Gentiles…”(“Jews” August 1996).

A new Web site has been launched called “Twelve Tribes,” which includes the complete archives of the group’s in-house periodical InterTribal 1994-96. This archive offers a detailed record of Spriggs teachings in his own words and/or as related by his followers.  

Spriggs also is known for his somewhat strange, more obscure teachings regarding such things as air conditioning, how to prepare and eat vegetables and about cheese.

“No cheese. Throw that hard cheese out. We don’t eat it. You can’t get a good Jew to eat it. It’s bad for your system. You have to get something else to compensate for it because it constipates you. Old hard cheeses are no good for you,” says Spriggs.

Since the group’s departure from Chattanooga after the sale of its properties in 1979 Twelve Tribes has accumulated millions of dollars in collective assets. The former carnival barker turned “prophet” controls a substantial financial empire, essentially built upon the backs of his followers.

Twelve Tribes members work hard running coffee houses for the group, and have labored putting together products for Trader Joe’s, L.L. Bean, Estee Lauder and at one time Robert Redford’s Sundance Catalog.

Today Twelve Tribes appears to specialize in buying run down properties in upstate New York, and then using its considerable manpower for rehabilitation.

Also, new members often surrender their assets to the group.

CultNews has learned that when members leave they most often take virtually nothing, despite whatever gifts they may have given the group and many years of hard work.

Meanwhile Spriggs lives in relative luxury, spending his time at various homes in the United States, France and Brazil, while many of his followers subsist modestly in group housing.

Whenever Twelve Tribes or its “prophet” has been criticized and/or scrutinized by anyone, this has frequently been characterized as “persecution.”

It their recent public postings group members claim that “prejudice” and “fear” led to them being “driven from Chattanooga” and compared that experience to the “Salem Witch Trials.”

Twelve Tribes members also say that Spriggs and his wife Marsha moved to New England much like the “brave Pilgrims…fleeing…for freedom of religion.”

Spriggs followers then blame everything on public officials and accept no meaningful responsibility for the group’s bad behavior

Now Twelve Tribes members “from Chattanooga are coming back.”

Will Spriggs triumphantly return to Tennessee as its rich prodigal “prophet”?

Will the town that takes such pride in its “bible belt” status be happy that a man often called a “heretic” is coming home?

“Coming back to Chattanooga is an opportunity for people to see who we are and what we turned out to be,” the Twelve Tribes “prophet” told

Chattanooga, which seemed relieved to see Spriggs and his people leave, is probably not going to be glad to have them back.  

Air America Radio talk show host Janeanne Garofalo of “Majority Report” was seemingly taken in by a Scientology-linked project selling a “detoxification” cure invented by the church’s founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Janeanne GarofaloApparently, Garofalo either didn’t understand or didn’t care about the often-reported links between the privately-funded “New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project” touted on her Friday night show and Scientology.

CultNews began reporting about the Scientology-linked project more than two years ago and the story was later picked up by the New York Times and Associated Press.

The so-called “Purification Rundown,” which is a Scientology religious ritual, is at the heart of the program. Hubbard invented the process, which includes large dosing of niacin, sweating in a sauna and ingesting cooking oil. 

The Fireman’s Union ultimately dumped the project and the chief medical officer for FDNY Dr. Kerry Kelly said, “The essence of their program is you stay in it until you suddenly wake up and say, “I feel great.’ It’s hard to have faith in a program like that.”

Kelly concluded that there is no “objective evidence” to support the claims made by the project.

The usually sharp, well informed and at times cynical Garofalo is typically more skeptical. But she did the Friday night show without her Internet savvy researcher/wingman Sam Seder.

CultNews has witnessed firsthand as a guest on “Majority Report” how this team works with Seder hovering over his laptop grabbing information through the Internet while Garofalo gets in the zingers.

Janeanne Garofalo’s guest was Scientologist Leah Remini, star of “King of Queens,” a supporter of the New York detox project. She brought along Jim Woodworth, a “certified chemical dependency counselor” and Joe Higgins a “retired firefighter.”

CultNews reported in 2003 that Woodworth ran HealthMed of California, which like the “New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project” has a history of controversy.

Scientologist Leah ReminiDoctors at the California Department of Health Services accused HealthMed of making “false medical claims” and of “taking advantage of the fears of workers and the public about toxic chemicals and their potential health effects, including cancer.”

Is Woodworth trying to do the same thing in New York?

Joseph Higgins, the former firefighter that Remini brought along is a paid member of the controversial clinic’s advisory board associated with Woodworth in New York.

A listener told CultNews that it seems Ms. Garofalo had actually visited the Scientology-linked detox facility. And that there was something more or less said that “if it works, it works.” 

Well, it doesn’t seem to work according to the chief medical doctor at the FDNY. 

The same listener said that only “near the end” and “somewhat reluctantly” was there any mention of possible links to Scientology and/or L. Ron Hubbard its founder.

Garofalo closed her show repeating the Web site address “,” which is incorrect. The correct address is actually “”

Scientology frequently uses its celebrities to get media time for essentially what can be seen as an infomercial promoting its programs, services, and of course its founder the late L. Ron Hubbard.

CultNews previously reported how TV talk show host Montel Williams was beguiled by Scientology celebs Juliette Lewis, Anne Archer, Catherine Bell and Kelly Preston (Mrs. John Travolta). Williams consumed two of his hour-long program slots promoting celebrity Scientology-linked projects. 

But of all people has the seemingly cynical Janeanne Garofalo now been bitten by the celeb bug and followed in Montel’s footsteps?

Scientology is ranked lower than Islam as one of the most, unpopular religions in America. Even Islam, despite “Muslim terrorists” and rioting radicals making headlines, is seen better.

Are Scientology's numbers funny?Specifically, Americans are twice as likely to view Islam favorably than Scientology.

The poll conducted by CBS News was actually focused on measuring the perception of Islam amongst Americans and not Scientology, but other religions were named and came up and also were measured in poll results.

CBS found that amongst Americans 45% said they have an unfavorable view of Islam, a rise from 36% in February reports Daily Times in Pakistan. 

Only 19% of had a favorable view of Islam, compared to 30% in 2002.

But only 8% of the American public view Scientology favvorably according to the CBS poll, which is less than one in ten.

That’s right, despite the star power of Tom Cruise Scientology’s “Top Gun” and all his efforts to promote the controversial religion, its religious ranking now may be lower than ever.

Is Jerry Falwell a better spokesman than Tom Cruise?Other faiths ranked are also follows; 58% had a favorable impression of Protestantism, 48% of Catholicism, 47% of the Jewish religion, 31% of Christian fundamentalist religions and 20% of the Mormon religion.

What has happened to Scientology?

CultNews could not find before Cruise polling as opposed to post Cruise results.

However, it looks like “Muslim terrorists” and rioting radicals are doing a better job than the “world’s biggest movie star” promoting the faith they claim.

Likewise, Donnie and Marie have arguably done better for the Mormons as have televangelists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell it appears for Christian fundamentalism, at least when compared to the job Cruise seems to have done for his church.

In all fairness, Scientology is perhaps a difficult religion to promote. The church has often been derided as a “cult” and Time Magazine once called it “a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.”

Perhaps if the product is bad the salesman shouldn’t be blamed?

But it does seem that Cruise has damaged Scientology’s public image, even taking into consideration its history of bad press. 

In an interview with GQ Magazine the actor insisted “that talking about his Scientology beliefs had not damaged his career” reports the Mirror of the United Kingdom.

“It’s the exact opposite. You can try and create a PR machine that’s going to put out misinformation and discredit someone. But that’s not gonna stop me. Ever, ever. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Well maybe the box office recepts will be OK for Mission Impossible III, but what about Scientology?

With pitiful numbers like CBS uncovered maybe Scientology should tell Tom Cruise that “the right thing to do” is just shut up.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s followers within the Unification Church consider him their “savior” and “messiah” and according to a statement run within his Washington Times newspaper 36 dead US presidents speaking from “spirit world” have agreed and proclaimed him “Lord of the Second Advent, the Messiah, the Savior and the True Parent.”

Moon gets crowned 2004Moon even had himself crowned once within the US Senate building, in a ceremony attended by politicians and assorted sychophants.

However, the one self-proclaimed and gradiose title the seeming megalomaniac Moon has spoken that just might prove to be true, was when he called himself “king of the ocean.”

Given to ranting and rambling on and on about his supposed greatness the man many consider a “cult leader” outlined a plan in a 1980 speech about how he would eventually rule the world’s fishing industry.

“I have the entire system worked out, starting with boat building. After we build the boats, we catch the fish and process them for the market, and then have a distribution network. This is not just on the drawing board; I have already done it.”

And despite some pretty pitiful business failures, such as the Washington Times that has cost Moon millions annually to subsidize, his fishing investments have actually paid off. 

Moon is now “dominating one of America’s trendiest indulgences: sushi,” according to the Chicago Tribune as reported by Monica Eng, Delroy Alexander and David Jackson. 

The Moon-controlled enterprise called “True World Group” has apparently largely fulfilled the would-be “messiah’s” 1980s prophecy. The business “builds fleets of boats, runs dozens of distribution centers and, each day, supplies most of the nation’s estimated 9,000 sushi restaurants” reports the Chicago Tribune.  

True World Foods reported revenue for 2005 was $250 million. Its fleet of 230 refrigerated trucks delivers raw fish to 7,000 sushi and fine-dining restaurants across America and Moon’s Alaska plant processes more than 20 million pounds of salmon, cod and pollock annually.

King and Queen of the Ocean?Rev. Moon’s fish businesses operate under a nonprofit umbrella called “Unification Church International Inc.” (UCI) 

In 1978 a congressional investigation concluded that UCI had no “independent functions other than serving as a financial clearinghouse for various Moon organization subsidiaries and projects.”

Like Moon who was convicted criminally for tax fraud in the 1980s and sentenced to 13 months at Danbury, the one-time prison inmate’s fish business has gotten into its share of trouble too.

True World Foods in Alaska pled guilty to a federal felony, was fined $150,000 and put on probation in 2001. And more recently Moon’s company has had repeated problems with the FDA, which cited it for “gross unsanitary conditions” just last year.

The 86-year-old Moon’s journey is nearing its end and it won’t be long until he is in “spirit world.”  He has failed to fulfill his goal to become a globally recognized “messiah” and perhaps the head harvester of human souls.

But maybe the purported “cult leader” has finally succeeded at something somewhat more conventional, as a sole catcher and sushi provider.

Does that make Moon a “messiah/fishmonger”? 

According to Los Angeles Times staff writer Louis Sahagun, J. Gordon Melton is “eternally curious,” has an “encyclopedic mind” and “is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on religion.” Scientology, which has recommended Melton as a “religious resource, would certainly endorse the reporter’s view.

J. Gordon Melton 1994But serious journalists have often found Melton’s expertise a bit biased to say the least and he has been called a “cult apologist.”

The 64-year-old Melton was apparently using the article to tout his “Encyclopedia of American Religions,” a boring book that weighs about seven pounds and retails for $320.00.

But don’t expect to find weighty research within his creation, at least not anything that the groups listed don’t want the general public to know.

There seems to be something like a “quid pro quo” understanding between Melton and groups frequently called “cults,” which is essentially that he won’t write up anything they don’t like. 

For example, you won’t find out about the Scientology belief in space aliens and how that’s linked to pesky little critters the controversial church calls “body thetans,” because Melton’s “encyclopedic mind” doesn’t allow such information to leak out, at least not to the public.

Note this short study by Melton  about Scientology. He doesn’t even mention the mythical Xenu, who 75 million years ago sent billions of beings to earth that still haunt us.

Melton could easily add a page or two about the legendary galactic overlord within his 1,250-page book, but Scientology wouldn’t like that.

Maybe it’s cost and/or the questionable quality of his research that makes the ranking of his book so low at Melton’s encyclopedia has at times been listed below 500,000, though the LA Times article gave it a bump up recently. 

Melton is not known for meaningful analysis about what he calls “new religions.” The itinerant academic doesn’t appear all that “curious” when it comes to the darker side of groups more commonly called “cults.”

Perhaps that’s why many of those same groups have paid Melton hefty fees to help them out with a friendly book, or as an “expert witness” and “consultant.”

The part-time teacher and library worker lionized within the LA Times, basically is known to reiterate whatever “cults” want and/or need for him to say.

However, first he attempted to sell himself as a reource to “help” those working against “cults,” but for “$5,000.00,” to expose the “soft underbelly” of cults because he was “convinced that such groups cannot stand the light of day.”

But later Melton found that the real money lay on the other side of the “cult” question. 

J.Z. Knight, a purported “cult” leader who claims she channels the spirit of a 35,000-year-old dead general from the lost continent of Atlantis, had no problem getting Melton to take her seriously. She paid him to write a book for her titled Finding Enlightenment: Ramtha’s School of Ancient Wisdom.

And after Scientology lawyers bankrupted the Cult Awareness Network  they gave that organization’s files to Melton, who subsequently went through them before he eventually handed them over to UC Santa Barbara.

Melton has often collaborated with Scientologists and was also recommended as a “religious resource” by so-called “new Cult Awareness Network” essentially controlled by Scientology.

The librarian/author seems eager to help “cults” whenever he can.

Once he flew all the way to Japan to defend the cult Aum, right after it released poison gas within Tokyo’s subway system murdering twelve. While thousands of victims were being rushed to hospitals Melton came to the rescue, of the cult that is.

Melton’s traveling companions were James Lewis, another “religious resource” recommended by Scientology and Los Angeles attorney Barry Fisher, recommended by the “new Cult Awareness Network.” The trio’s expenses were paid for by the Japanese cult.

The Washington Post reported that the three Americans pronounced the subway gassing cult “innocent of criminal charges and…a victim of excessive police pressure.”

This remains a profound embarrassment for Melton, since Aum was ultimately proven guilty by overwhelming evidence and its leaders are now sentenced to death

Melton’s insists otherwise, “We concluded that there was a high likelihood that the groups’ leaders had done what they were accused of,” he told Sahagun at the LA Times

It appears that Sahagun didn’t take the time to Google Melton, or he doesn’t care about such research search results.

CultNews thinks the Washington Post got it right and the LA Times apparently was taken in by Melton’s spin.

For a “scholar” Gordon Melton often seems indifferent regarding historical facts.

Jim Jones was responsible for the cult mass murder-suicide of more than 900 people in Jonestown November 18, 1978. However, Melton says, “This wasn’t a cult. This was a respectable, mainline Christian group.”

Melton most often completely dismisses or ignores the testimony of former cult members that he calls “apostates.”

Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi of the University of Haifa noted, “In every single case since the Jonestown tragedy, statements by ex-members turned out to be more accurate than those of apologists and NRM researchers¦It is indeed baffling¦the strange, deafening, silence of [such scholars]¦a thorny issue¦like the dog that didn’t bark¦ should make us curious, if not outright suspicious.”

Is Gordon Melton and example of a silent scholar, or perhaps more like a “silent partner”? 

Melton was prominently mentioned within a confidential memo written and distributed by Jeffery Hadden. This memo has been cited as a kind of “smoking gun,” regarding the tacit cooperation of like-minded “cult apologists” within academia cooperation in a kind of network.

Within that memo the now deceased Hadden cited Melton’s importance and willingness to cooperate in an organized effort, which would hopefully be funded by “cults,” to essentially quell criticism about them.

Hadden said, “We recognize that Gordon Melton’s Institute is singularly the most important information resource in the US, and we feel that any new organization would need to work closely with him.”

More recently Melton was exposed for receiving a specious gift, or what looked like a possible payoff, from a notorious group once known as the “Children of God” (COG) now called “The Family.” The purported “cult” taught its members to sexualize their minor children and encouraged women to become “hookers for Christ.”

Melton apparently hooked $10,000.00 for his so-called “International Religious Directory,” a pet project he runs. 

Melton was exposed by Moving, a Web site created by young adults that were raised within COG, but have left the group and formed a support network through the Internet.

Their Web site made public a portion of a 2000 IRS disclosure document filed by a charity linked to COG listing Melton as a recipient of a $10,000.00 gift.

Melton is that you?Sahagun didn’t report about the cash Melton has received, but did find the space to discuss Melton’s “fascination with vampires.” The supposed scholar once was paid to testify in court about “vampire and werewolf relationships.” An attorney that worked with Melton lauded his ability to recall examples off the top of his head.

Maybe that’s because just such a relationship has become J. Gordon Melton’s stock in trade?

Melton markets himself to groups often seen as something like weerwolves in sheeps clothing, and he feeds on the misery they create much like a vampire.

Cayman Net News “inaccurately claimed that Landmark’s founder lives in the Cayman Islands mischaracterized Landmark Education and its program The Landmark Forum, ” says Art Schreiber, General Counsel for the private for-profit company Landmark Education.

1970s photo of EST founder ErhardHowever, Schreiber has a tendency to carefully parse his language in a way that often seems deliberately misleading.

In the same statement Schreiber insists that “Landmark Education was not formerly known as EST (Erhard Seminars Training).”

EST was founded by Werner Erhard, also known as Jack Rosenberg a former used car salesman without meaningful academic or professional credentials, and was sold in 1992. Eventually the newly formed company came to be called “Landmark Education” and has been run ever Erhard’s brother Harry Rosenberg ever since.

And a licensing agreement provided payments to Erhard for his “technology” eventually paid by Landmark.

Schreiber himself is an old crony of Werner Erhard’s, an association that dates back to the days of EST.

Apparently, Mr. Schreiber has conveniently chosen to forget and omit this history so he can say that “Landmark’s founder” does not live in Georgetown as reported by New York Magazine in 2001.

However, this seems just a bit disingenuous, which seems to have become a particular penchant of Landmark’s General Counsel.

In fact, despite Schreiber’s effort to obscure it, Landmark has a deeply troubled history of bad press and persistent complaints. And the company has frequently been accused of “brainwashing” its program participants and its staff not so flatteringly referred to as “mindbreakers.”

Clinical psychologists and experts in the type of mass marathon training sold by companies like Landmark have noted the structural problems that appear to be inherent within such seminars. These problems have at times been linked to what can be seen as psychological casualties.

Landmark Education has also been sued for personal injuries repeatedly and in one lawsuit for wrongful death.

Art Schreiber as Landmark’s lawyer has often threatened media outlets and individuals with litigation in an apparent effort to silence his employer’s critics.

CultNews was targeted by just such a campaign of that eventually led to a lawsuit filed against this Web site.

But in a humiliating turn of events Landmark eventually dismissed its own lawsuit, rather than submit to open discovery.

Peter SkolnikThe following is an excerpt from an introduction to an archive about Landmark’s litigation. This introduction was written by noted attorneys Peter Skolnik and Michael Norwick of Lowenstein Sandler, a prestigious New Jersey law firm that defeated Landmark, and sent its lawyers scurrying from a New Jersey federal court.

“Landmark, like Erhard before it, has repeatedly used litigation and threats of litigation as an improper tool to silence its vocal public critics.  This type of lawsuit — typically accusing the defendant of defamation and related torts — is known in various American jurisdictions as a SLAPP suit: i.e., a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation; a lawsuit brought not for its merits, but for the specific purpose of silencing a vocal critic, often one who is unlikely to have the financial resources to defend himself. Given Landmark’s history of filing such lawsuits, it came as no surprise that Ross’s website would enter Landmark’s litigation cross hairs.  The democratizing effect of the internet has endowed this website, practically a one-man operation, with the same publishing power and reach as Landmark, a multi-million dollar for-profit corporation.  The popular search engine, Google, which ranks web sites by popularity and not financial means, lists as #2 on the search term “Landmark Education,” right behind Landmark’s own website.  Thus, persons seeking information about Landmark’s programs have easy access to both the information provided on Landmark’s website, as well as the contra point-of-view about Landmark often expressed here.”

“As was reported here nearly a year-and-a-half ago, Landmark and its related companies sued Ross on June 25, 2004, based upon allegedly disparaging statements made about Landmark on,, and  In its Complaint, Landmark charged that allegedly false and disparaging comments made on Ross’s website and statements made by Ross to the media constituted, among other things, product disparagement, tortious interference, consumer fraud and unfair competition.  Although much of the material complained about by Landmark consisted of visitor comments, personal stories and bulletin board messages written by users of the website, Landmark’s complaint made the baseless accusation that these statements were actually authored by Rick Ross under false pseudonyms. Cited among comments about Landmark attributed to Ross were that:

    “commentaries accuse Landmark of hypnotizing’ and brainwashing’ participants, attempting cult recruitment’ and mind control’ and of constituting cultish-ness.’”  (Complaint ¶ 18)   

    “Landmark’s program make a deliberate assault on your mind;’ . . . Landmark’s programs are downright dangerous’ and destructive,’ Landmark’s programs are designed to make participants vulnerable to suggestion;’ Landmark’s programs have cult attributes;’ and Landmark’s programs are a form of subtle brainwashing.’” (Complaint ¶ 22) 

    “Defendants made false charges that Landmark participants endured days of bullying’ and humiliation.’”  (Complaint ¶ 18 (c)). 

    “Participants are subject to total “control . . . from the moment [they] are in that room.”’”  Complaint ¶ 22 (2) and “Landmark representative exhibited a reluctance to allow toilet breaks.’”  (Complaint ¶ 18 (j)). 

These are among the same allegations and opinions about Landmark that its critics have published for years, and for which Landmark has repeatedly sued or threatened to sue.  Indeed, Landmark itself has been sued a number of times for personal injuries alleged to have arisen out of its programs.”

The pivotal point in this frivolous lawsuit occurred when a federal judge “refused to stipulate to a protective order that would have kept Landmark’s internal documents confidential and hidden from public view.  Although Landmark took preliminary steps to have its training manuals and other documents kept confidential, (see letter) Landmark came to understand that the law has recently begun looking far less favorably on orders protecting the disclosure of evidence produced in litigation, and that if motion practice for discovery ensued, Landmark would likely be required to disclose publicly documents that it recognized would not only damage its case, but would further establish that its complaint was, from the outset, brought in bad faith.”  

Lowenstein and Sandler “learned from papers filed in Landmark’s litigation against Self Magazine that Landmark’s own training manuals directly contradict the allegations made in Landmark’s complaint against Ross, and entirely support the comments on Ross’s website that Landmark claimed were disparaging. For example, in their Complaint against Ross, Landmark alleges that: 

“Defendants made false charges that Landmark participants endured days of bullying’ and humiliation.’”  Complaint ¶ 18 (c).

But Landmark’s own training manuals for its Forum Supervisors state:  

“a Landmark Forum Supervisor’ needs to be an s.o.b. for impeccability.  you need to give up a concern for being liked. . . . Be a destroyer. . . .  ” and “Don’t ever let people move or stand up or talk before you have declared the start of the break.  Don’t ever let stuff like that go by.  Ever, ever, ever.”   Furthermore, in Landmark’s Complaint, it attributes to Ross comments such as: Furthermore, in Landmark’s Complaint, it attributes to Ross comments such as: “the Landmark Forum is a very stressful process that is not for everyone;’” (Complaint ¶ 41(a)); 

Furthermore, in Landmark’s Complaint, it attributes to Ross comments such as: “the Landmark Forum is a very stressful process that is not for everyone;’” (Complaint ¶ 41(a)); Yet, Landmark’s own warnings and disclaimers in its application for the Landmark Forum state: 

. . . people will from time to time cry or experience headaches, tiredness, nausea, confusion, disappointment, feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and hopelessness.  Some participants may find the Program physically, mentally, and emotionally stressful.”  

See, e.g, Application Form produced in a Texas lawsuit against Landmark in 1997, Neff v. Landmark Education Corp. Continued discovery in this case might have forced Landmark publicly to disclose the information and related documents that led Landmark to require participants in its programs to sign and acknowledge these disclaimers.  Much of what we uncovered about Landmark’s internal documents directly contradicting the allegations.'”Continued discovery in this case might have forced Landmark publicly to disclose the information and related documents that led Landmark to require participants in its programs to sign and acknowledge these disclaimers.  Much of what we uncovered about Landmark’s internal documents directly contradicting the allegations.'”Did Landmark Education and Art Schreiber attempt to intimidate and/or bully Cayman Net News?

Continued discovery in this case might have forced Landmark publicly to disclose the information and related documents that led Landmark to require participants in its programs to sign and acknowledge these disclaimers.  Much of what we uncovered about Landmark’s internal documents directly contradicting the allegations.'”Did Landmark Education and Art Schreiber attempt to intimidate and/or bully This has been the familiar pattern before. That is, when the private for-profit company and its lead lawyer don’t like something said and/or anticipate a critical article may be published, they have been known to essentially bully reporters and/or their publishers.  

CultNews will not be bullied by either Schreiber or his employer Landmark and the Ross Institute database will continue to provide meaningful information about the company and its practices.

Michael NorwickThankfully there are law firms like Lowenstein Sandler and lawyers such as Skolnik and Norwick that care deeply about the First Amendment and are willing to provide pro bono legal assistance to protect it.

CultNews and the Ross Institute have been sued five times by groups or individuals that apparently hoped to silence and/or purge this Web site of critical information.

First, in Arizona by the so-called “Church of Immortal Consciousness.”

Later, by Judy Hammond and her “Pure Bride Ministries.”

And also by the “Gentle Wind Project” of Maine.

Four of those five lawsuits were dismissed without ever going to trial. A fifth, filed by a group similar to Landmark called NXIVM has recently been moved from federal court in New York to New Jersey.

Lowenstein Sandler is now local counsel in that case, along with long-time pro bono lawyers Douglas Brooks of Boston and Thomas Gleason of Albany, New York.

Groups called “cults” or “cult-like” have frequently sued critics historically and succeeded in silencing some, such as the former Cult Awareness Network, which was put closed down and then taken over by Scientology lawyers.

CutNews makes this promise, to keep reporting the facts despite threats from such groups and would-be bullies like Art Schreiber.

Transexual Kate Bornstein was once a Scientologist, but now is an activist performing a solo show called “A Queer and Pleasant Danger,” reports Towerlight Online.

Kate Bornstein not 'in the closet' or Scientology anymoreDuring the performance the former man who now lives as a woman says she was “kicked out of Scientology.” Bornstein symbolically spray paints an X on herself to represent that ex-Scientologist status.

Was the transsexual tossed aside for being too sexually ambiguous to suit Scientology?

The controversial religion’s founder L. Ron Hubbard had harsh words for gays. He wrote that homosexuals “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.

Was Hubbard homophobic?

Did Scientology follow his instructions and remove Bornstein?

In Hollywood today Hubbard’s sentiments don’t sound “politically correct,” especially after all those Emmys Will and Grace got, not to mention the Oscars Brokeback received this year, so Scientologists repeatedly try to spin such quaint Hubbardisms.

For example one Scientologist writing commentary for The Post Chronicle insists Hubbard was only “speaking figuratively” when he made such seemingly nasty remarks and that they were written “in 1952, over half a century ago.”

Apparently the Scientology religious sage’s “words of wisdom” were not always “eternal truths,” but instead at times rather dated and some are now expired.

However, rumors have circulated for years that Scientology helps to hide its homosexuals if they are celebrities. South Park mocked that speculation with its hilarious send-up about the controversial religion titled “Trapped in the Closet.”

Tom Cruise allegedly kept that episode from repeating because he was supposedly so upset by it.

Does Bornstein have the inside scoop about what’s behind some Scientolostist’s closed closet doors?

Kate “makes it clear that she has plenty of ‘dirt’ she could ‘dish’ about the church,” reports Towerlight Online.  

But Bornstein isn’t about to tell her story explaining that she hasn’t found “a voice to write about the church of Scientology.” More tellingly the transsexual seems worried about possible retaliation and is looking for “a way not to be mean to [Scientologists] so they would not be mean to [her].”

Scientology and its lawyers have been known to get pretty “mean.”

Bornstein is certainly no “anti-Cult activist,” but rather an author, playwright and performance artist focused on another message about gender and the freedom to make personal choices.

The closing message for the one-woman-show is “All roads in life lead nowhere so you might as well choose the road with the most heart and has the most fun.”

It might be fun to find out just what the road was like for the future gender bender while tripping along within Scientology.

Note: CultNews received a response from Kate Bornstein after this story ran. “May I please make some corrections? The reviewer in the Towson student newspaper did her best to report what she saw happen on the  stage, and she got a lot of it right, but not quite all. I  never claim to have been kicked out of Scientology. I was offered the choice of 3 years in the RPF or excommunication and I chose excommunication. And I’m pretty sure my transsexuality had nothing to do with why I was being offered that choice. Long story. And I do tell it all in the show, honest. I’ve found a voice to speak this story with,” said Ms. Bornstein. 

It’s Passover time and that means it’s the season for the annual traveling road show produced by the so-called “Jews for Jesus” (JFJ), an evangelical Christian missionary organization that targets Jews for conversion. The group sends out its faithful in touring buses every year to present “Christ in the Passover,” as reported by the Dakota Voice.

JFJ couple practicing for PassoverThese programs are typically staged within evangelical and fundamentalist churches where JFJ puts on the program and then profits from contributions.

Passover is a proven fundraiser for JFJ, which has a multi-million-dollar budget and payroll to meet.

But the organized Jewish community has repeatedly expressed concern about such programs, which superimpose fundamentalist Christian beliefs over the historic understanding of the Jewish Passover observance.

JFJ presents its own rather ethnocentric, idiosyncratic version of Passover to evangelical Christian churches across the United States such as Grace Church of Toledo Ohio, Fremont Berean Bible Church in Nebraska and occasionally at mainline Protestant churches like Trinity United Methodist Church of Seymour, Indiana.

JFJ Seder displayNeedless to say Christian missionaries parading about, as “Jews” for Passover doesn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm amongst Jews, who most often observe its traditional Seder dinner in the privacy of home.

After all Passover and its Seder symbols have a long-established historic meaning that predates both Jesus and Christianity.

For those that have read Book of Exodus or watched the movie “Ten Commandments” Passover is not about Jesus or Christianity, it is a holiday specifically observed to commemorate the deliverance of Jews from bondage in ancient Egypt more than a millenium before the birth of Jesus.

But for JFJ this sacred Jewish holiday has been reduced essentially to a fund raising hook.

JFJ’s founder is Martin Rosen, a retired Baptist minister, who hit the road again not long ago when his brainchild had some budget problems.

Pastor Martin prefers to be called “Moishe,” which he seems to think makes him seem Jewish.

Jewish surnames also suffuse the list of front line JFJ staff, again giving the group a seemingly “Jewish” patina.

David BricknerHowever, Rosen’s successor as the top “Jew” at JFJ, David Brickner, was recently exposed by author David Klinghoffer in the Jewish Journal as a “non-Jew.”

His bio on the JFJ Web site refers to him as “a fifth-generation Jewish believer in Jesus,” which means his family actually has been Christian for some time.  

And Brickner’s mother was not Jewish, which means he isn’t either according to any Orthodox understanding.

By Orthodox definition if a mother isn’t Jewish her baby isn’t either. And Brickner’s maternal grandmother was not Jewish.


This means that by no Jewish definition would the JFJ leader even qualify as an apostate Jew, let alone simply as “Jewish.”

Not surprisingly JFJ’s funding comes essentially from sympathetic fellow believers within the Christian fundamentalist community.

But are these the same Christians who frequently say they “love” both Jews and Israel?

If these evangelicals truly “love” Jews why do they continue to so stubbornly support groups that offend Jews by falsely reinterpreting Jewish holidays?

It would seem that this continued support by many Christian fundamentalists demonstrates a disregard and/or insensitivity to the concerns of Jews, which has been repeatedly and publicly expressed?

In fairness it should be noted that some evangelical leaders have spoken out critically against groups like JFJ, such as Billy Graham.