Some say Madonna is a “has been.” And that to anyone other than her diehard fans, the 1980s icon is no longer relevant to current pop culture.

'Timeless' Madonna“It happens to every star,” says In the Zone.

Interestingly, the top two reasons cited for the 47-year-old pop queen’s demise is (1) getting “religious” and (2) choosing the so-called “Kabbalah Centre” to get religious about.

Her diva version of religiosity was recently derided as a “Christmas-cracker philosophy” and written off some time ago as “McWisdom” by its critics. But the star insists its her “secret” in the documentary DVD “I’m Going to Tell You a Secret,” which was panned by British reviewer Mark Beech at Bloomberg News.  

Forbes Magazine has even dropped Madonna from its “Top 100 Stars” list and critics say that the former “Material Girl” is “too old” to be used in marketing to teens.

Advertising guru Della Femina summed it up succinctly, “These kids trade in stars every two or three years and many don’t know Madonna” reported CCN from Ireland.

'hands of time'Ironically though, as CultNews previously reported, despite her fading star status Madonna sees herself as some sort of career counselor to younger stars. And her latest acolyte is 20-year-old Lindsay Lohan.

Isn’t this something like the “blinded leading the blind”?

After all, it’s been almost half a century since this diva was born and despite her apparent desperation to slow the aging process, nothing is working.

Madonna has a grueling exercise regimen, an extreme diet and gulps down an endless supply of supposedly special energized “Kabbalah Water.”

However, all this, along with rumored Botox injections to paralyze her face, have not stopped the singer from arguably looking older than her years, as recent candid photos demonstrate.

London’s Daily Mail pointed out that Madonna “can’t beat the hands of time.” A shot of her hand clutching what looks like a bottle of “Kabbalah Water” was revealing and displayed “a virtual roadmap of veins.”

It’s been 15 years since the star’s popular documentary “Truth or Dare.” 

But will Madonna dare to face the truth about growing old?

Every indication is that the former queen of pop has no intention of aging gracefully like Tina Turner, nor does she offer self-deprecating humor about getting older, like Cher did on her “farewell tour.”

Instead, this aging diva seems to fighting the inevitable.

No resurrectonHer publicist has told the press “I defy any 18-year-old to do a quarter of what Madonna does on stage…”

But can anyone defy time?

Why can’t Madonna accept that the spotlight moves on, and that every star eventually arrives at a day of reckoning and maturity?

Madonna can’t hang on to her glittering disco ball forever, nor expect to resurrect the past through one of her staged concert crucifixions.

Will the former pop queen’s career end pathetically as a parody of her former self, lip syncing oldies in various costumes and preaching “McWisdom” to those diehard fans left willing to pay for pricey seats and sit through another sermon?

CultNews was a member of “Google News” for about two years, but was dropped early this month without notice. 

Google News is an on-line feature of the Internet search engine giant, which specifically is devoted to browsing about 4,500 members continuously as news sources.

More than once stories from CultNews have been featured prominently on the front page of Google News.

According to Google its news service provides results “without human intervention.” And “news sources are selected without regard to political viewpoint or ideology.”

However, after an inquiry was made last week to determine why CultNews was recently dropped, the response indicated that this was done through “human intervention.”

The “Google Team” stated in an e-mail received Friday June 23rd the following:

“Thank you for your note. Upon recent review of your site we found that we can no longer include it in Google News. We do not include sites that are written and maintained by individuals. We appreciate your taking the time to contact us and will log your site for consideration should our requirements change.”

What this means is that Internet users will no longer be able to pick up breaking stories from CultNews regarding controversial groups like Scientology, by launching searches specifically through Google News.

This does not mean that the main behemoth search engine Google will cease going through and gathering links to information within CultNews or its sponsor the Ross Institute of New Jersey. The recent change rather only will affect the breaking news search feature provided by Google.

CultNews has at times been the point of origin for news stories on the Internet. Subsequently, that information was often picked up by the mainstream media and CultNews was frequently cited as a source and/or quoted.

Cults, controversial groups and movements are of course only one small niche of the news, but CultNews has made every effort to provide the public with timely, interesting, relevant reports and analysis focused on that small corner of the news universe.

Other technology makes it possible for CultNews readers to continue to stay abreast regarding breaking news stories at this blog without relying upon Google News.

Check out the RSS feature located on this page (see “Meta” box by scrolling down left side) so you can keep up with CultNews using that technology, which essentially provides for continuously accessing fresh content at this site.

This recent Google News change in policy will not affect the quality or quantity of information, which will continue to flow from CultNews.  

After an eleven day manhunt and with the authorities hot on his trail and closing in, fugitive and former Landmark Education leader Darren Mack surrendered at a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico reports The Reno Gazette.

Mack in custodyMack was wanted for the brutal murder of his wife Charla in Reno, Nevada.

Mrs. Mack, like her estranged husband, was very active and deeply involved in Landmark, a controversial self-improvement seminar-selling company headquartered in San Francisco.

Darren Mack was a multi-millionaire from a rich family that made its money in the pawn broker business.

Mack is also wanted for the sniper shooting of the family court judge that awarded his wife substantial alimony payments and child support.

Friday the former fugitive was flown from Mexico to Dallas where he was booked. Later Mack was taken back to Nevada where he was met at the airport by an armored SWAT van carrying five officers armed with assault rifles.

Once a rich man worth more than $10 million dollars Mack seems marked for either a long stay in prison or perhaps a death sentence.

Cultnews previously reported that at least one of Mack’s Landmark cronies posted a message to him on the Internet at his Myspace site.

That message said, “Darren, I know you from Landmark Education¦I just wanted to remind you about what you used to teach others – about integrity and completion of the past and affinity. Remember? You know you’re driving yourself crazy with all the things you’re telling yourself. You also know the only way through this is through it. I know you have the ability to get this complete…”

It seems the “only way through this” for Mack will be the courts and a prison term to “complete.”

Whatever “breakthroughs” he may have once sought through Landmark training to benefit his marriage, it ended in murder.

And despite his former stature and influence within Landmark, it appears doubtful that Darren Mack will ever be touted as one of the company’s “success stories” again. 

Note: Later in August Art Schreiber, General Counsel for Landmark Education, contacted CultNews to make a distinction regarding the status of Darren Mack and his history with the company. Schreiber said, “Mr. Mack did lead one of our many programs for several years but ceased being a Landmark leader in November, 2002…” 

Not content with making money from adults paying for its controversial large group awareness training (LGAT) the controversial company called “Landmark Education” targets minor children.

Werner Erhard, 1970sKids as young as eight were recently enrolled at a cost of “$700 a child” in Australia to go through Landmark’s “intensive three-day workshop” reported The Sunday Times.

40 elementary school children were signed up this month in Perth for the supposedly “life-changing” LGAT based upon the teachings of a former used car salesman “Jack” Rosenberg, who later changed his name to Werner Erhard.

Erhard had no educational or counseling credentials to guide him, but rather his personal experience dabbling in fringe self-improvement groups like Scientology.

He created a company during the 1970s called “est” (Erhard Seminar Training) that presented an initial introductory program called The Forum.

Est was reportedly sold in 1992 and was subsequently renamed “Landmark Education.” Erhard’s brother Harry Rosenberg and his sister now run the private for-profit company.

Landmark turned Erhard’s concocted philosophy into LGAT gold, making millions of dollars every month in fees. The company has never been bigger or more successful since its inception.

Landmark has a formula to make even more money.

First it recruits parents to take its courses and then the company gets them to enroll their kids.

This can potentially cause conflict, if parents are divorced and share joint custody.

A Perth policeman refused to let his ex-wife send their daughter to the LGAT.

A $avior?“It struck me as a money-making enterprise and I really thought that the three-day seminar could be quite stressful and draining,” he said. The officer also questioned why anyone would put an 8-year-old through something so “stressful or draining” referring to Landmark’s methods as “pressure-cooker teaching.”

But kids have become lucrative for Landmark, which runs programs in the US for children 8-12 and teens too.

Effectively Landmark has turned families into “cash cows” and has successfully milked almost 2,000 kids in Australia alone.

Landmark’s programs are controversial and some have called them “brainwashing.”

The company has a long history of bad press and it garnered some more this month “down under.”

Australian adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg warned parents “to be wary” of the workshop and called it an “utter waste of money.”

“If a child has a major psychological problem they should go to a fully qualified, government-accredited professional,” he said.

It is unclear what educational requirements Landmark requires or expects from its seminar leaders, who are typically neither mental health professionals, nor licensed or accountable to any government regulatory or accrediting body.

The psychologist was also concerned about “overloading children on the weekend” and he said, “sticking a kid in there for three days is pretty awful.”

Greg isn’t the only doctor worried about LGATs like Landmark.

Clinical psychologist Philip Cushman studied LGATs in the 1990s and published a paper after researching what he called “mass marathon training.”

Cushman saw serious problems for adults, let alone children.

In his paper titled “The Politics of Transformation: Recruitment – Indoctrination Processes in a Mass Marathon Psychology Organization” Cushman says that such “training is usually based on the belief that it is a universal truth that all human beings will have problems in life until they develop deep cathartic psychological insight, experience completely their every feeling, and live only in the present moment.”

Cushman goes on to explain that “according to this ideology all defenses are bad and must be destroyed. They shape their group exercises in order to uncover and intensify the participants’ underlying conflicts and deficits. Everyone must be exposed to these exercises; there are no exceptions. When all defenses are destroyed, they claim there is literally no limit to what each individual can accomplish.”

What the psychologist describes is reflected in Landmark Education’s repetitious vocabulary filled with buzz words like “breakthrough,” “integrity,” “transformation” and “completion” that become a kind of “loaded language” for its graduates.

Landmark’s spokesperson told the press in Perth that the LGAT enabled children to “gain clarity” and “examine their lives in a way, which leaves them empowered,” which gives them “a new freedom in life…[for] powerfully facing…risks and challenges…”

Cushman pointed out more than a dozen serious problems that frequently pop up wit LGAT groups like Landmark.

  1. They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.
  2. They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.
  3. They lack clearly defined responsibility.
  4. They sometimes foster pseudoauthenticity and pseudoreality.
  5. They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.
  6. They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.
  7. They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.
  8. They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.
  9. They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of “experiencing” without self-analysis or reflection.
  10. They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.
  11. They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.
  12. They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously “fabricate” a cure.
  13. They fail to adequately consider the “psychonoxious” or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.

Cushman warns specifically “as a result, participants and leaders may unconsciously distort their feelings and responses when reporting to researchers about the group or recruiting for future groups. This might result in a deceptive ‘oversell’ that could undermine informed consent and lead to unrealistic regressive expectations in new recruits, the specific type of problems that have been found to lead to psychological casualties.”

Landmark’s long history of personal injury lawsuits goes back to its old “est” days.

Many participants claimed they were hurt by Landmark and some sued.

In fact, Landmark is so concerned about legal liability that it now requires participants to sign a waiver, whereby they cannot take the company to court before a jury, but instead must submit to “binding arbitration.”

Essentially, this acts as “poison pill” to fend off litigation.

Does this sound like something that an 8 to 12-year-old child or teen should be involved in?

Landmark is good at persuading people that its courses are positive and that they somehow produce benefits.

In polling gathered through surveys often sponsored and/or paid for by the company, a high percentage of its graduates are convinced that they benefited in some way from attending the LGAT.

However, these are subjective responses about how participants feel, not objective results that have been scientifically measured.

Should parents and the general public be wary?

Is there something potentially unsafe about an LGAT like Landmark?

According to Cushman’s research LGATs can become “dangerous” when they demonstrates the following criteria:

  1. Leaders [have] rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group and when they should change.
  2. Leaders [have] no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.
  3. Leaders [have] an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.
  4. Leaders [are] true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, “blaming the victim.”

Landmark’s own training manuals for its Forum Supervisors states, “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.”

Landmark’s own warnings and disclaimers in its application for the Landmark Forum states, “…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.”

In an article titled “Drive-thru Deliverance” a Forum leader reportedly told participants “Anything you want in life is possible that you invent as a possibility and enroll others in your having gotten.”

Those attending the Forum in Phoenix asked “why the rules [were] so rigid”?

They were told that “transformation” required following rules, and they soon learned that those that broke the rules might be humiliated and labeled as “uncoachable.”

Werner Erhard the seminar guru that concocted this LGAT claimed that he received a revelation while driving on a California freeway in 1971, he realized that he knew nothing. And the instant he realized that he knew nothing, he then realized he knew everything, and everything was good.

Landmark teaches a philosophy that becomes a belief system for its adherents, and some seem to consider it their “salvation.”

A man sought by authorities for the murder of his wife and questioning concerning a sniper attack on a Reno family court judge was deeply involved for many years in Landmark Education, a controversial large group awareness training (LGAT) program.

Darren MackDarren Roy Mack, 45, reportedly “traveled extensively to lead the courses” for Landmark. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that until 2002, Mack and his estranged wife worked for the privately owned for-profit company.

The LGAT Mack attended called the “Forum” was first concocted essentially by est founder Werner Erhard (a.k.a. “Jack” Rosenberg).

Amidst a flurry of bad press and legal problems Erhard reportedly sold out in 1992 and the company then became “Landmark Education,” which is run by Erhard’s brother Harry Rosenberg.

Four minutes after Reno Judge Chuck Weller was shot in a sniper attack, Darren Mack called his cousin and said, “If anything happens to me, don’t forget your promise — put out to the press the word on Judge Weller…The rest of the world has to know just how oppressive he is.”

Before that Mack reportedly engaged in an Internet campaign to discredit the judge. The respected jurist was presiding over Mack’s bitter divorce.

Paranoid delusions?

Darren Mack sounds like a madman, but his cousin told the press that he was “the kindest, gentlest, nonviolent person you would ever want to meet.” That same relative also told the San Francisco Chronicle that Mack could be responsible for his wife’s death.

Charla Mack, 39, was brutally stabbed to death and an arrest warrant has been issued her husband with murder.

What could have possibly changed this once successful and “nonviolent” person into a suspected sniper and wanted killer?

Charla Mack’s mother said the couple both were devoted to Landmark Education, which “was a big part of their lives.” Ms. Mack was a five-year staffer for the company and in 2002 was sent to launch its LGAT program in the Philippines.

“I know these two…It doesn’t make sense to me — it’s not who I know them to be,” said the alleged murderer’s mother-in-law.

One of Mack’s Landmark friends named “Gidget” wanted this statement posted on his Myspace site.

Charla Mack, 4th from right front row“Darren, I know you from Landmark Education…I just wanted to remind you about what you used to teach others – about integrity and completion of the past and affinity. Remember? You know you’re driving yourself crazy with all the things you’re telling yourself. You also know the only way through this is through it. I know you have the ability to get this complete – as hard as it’s going to be for you. You can do it. Turn yourself in and start the process of getting it complete. Get in communication, Darren.”

This “loaded language” filled with Landmark jargon like “communication,” “completion” and “integrity,” begs a question; how could someone as advanced in Landmark’s curriculum for self-improvement, end up “driving [himself] crazy”?

After all, according to Landmark its LGAT provides “major positive results,” and graduates claim they experience “permanent shifts in the quality of their relationships.”

What happened to Landmark veteran Darren Mack and the relationship he had with his wife Charla?

Landmark also touts that its courses will make a “profound lasting difference in the way [people] live their lives.

Mack’s life has profoundly changed, but it can’t possibly be the “shift” he wanted.

Instead, after years of Landmark training Darren Mack’s life is a disaster.

Critics of Landmark have called its leaders “mindbreakers” and described its seminar as an “extraordinary scene of humiliation and control” where its said that the course and its leaders must “break them and remake them.”

But what if some people are broken, and never quite come back together again?

In 2002 Dr. Donna Marie Anderson was charged with stabbing her 13-year-old son to death in California. Described as a “bright, accomplished and highly motivated woman” the 48-year-old obstetrician participated in “multiple sessions” of Landmark’s training reported the Pioneer Press.

Much like Darren Mack’s mother-in-law the doctor’s friends described her as “very nice” and a “perfectly normal-appearing individual.” Anderson’s sister-in-law said the woman that murdered her son “was not the woman we knew.”

At the time Landmark spokesman Mark Kamin said, “We have a requirement that people must be emotionally stable at that time to participate in our programs.”

Landmark claimed that Anderson was asked not to participate anymore when she seemed unstable.

Kamin explained that Landmark participants must pass a screening process devised by a board of psychiatrists, including a series of questions aimed at assessing mental stability before they are allowed to participate in its programs.

Kamin’s concerns are understandable given the history of est, Landmark’s predecessor.

In 1977 doctors warned about possible serious psychiatric disturbances suffered by those that participate in the est program. These psychiatrists alerted their professional colleagues about the possibility that such LGATs might have devastating effects on some people.

The psychiatrists may have been prophetic. A year before Dr. Anderson murdered her son Landmark participant Jason Weed shot and killed an Oklahoma mailman Robert Jenkins. His surviving family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Landmark Education.

In that lawsuit plaintiffs stated that the murderer Weed attended “Landmark’s classes” and that “Landmark knew, because of their prior experiences, that [his] type of disorder¦was a likely and foreseeable result of attendance of their classes.”

The plaintiff’s attorneys then specifically cite a supposed “screening process and tests” used by Landmark “to eliminate person[s] who were likely to develop mental disorders as a result of their seminars.”

Apparently, the “screening process” either wasn’t done or failed to prevent Weed from attending Landmark’s LGAT.

This is also not the first time that a Landmark leader like Darren Mack has been sought by law enforcement for heinous and violent crimes.

In 1995 David Grill, the executive director of Landmark’s offices in Dallas, sexually assaulted a Landmark volunteer. In the lawsuit subsequently filed against Landmark the plaintiff stated that the company “should have been aware, of Grill’s propensity to commit criminal sexual assaults with students from a time preceding his assignment as executive director.”

Grill was convicted and sent to prison for his crimes. Landmark later settled with the plaintiff for an undisclosed, but substantial sum.

Werner Erhard 1970sLandmark now seems anxious to erase any record or memory of the Macks.

Charla Mack can be seen standing front row in a photo of Manila Forum graduates, but her name has been removed.

It seems like Landmark wants everyone to forget about the Macks and what happened to them.

Landmark may also hope that hope David Grill, Dr. Donna Marie Anderson, Jason Weed and their victims will also be forgotten.

Perhaps this is because according to Werner Erhard’s philosophy there are no “victims.”

Erhard preached that we create our own reality and therefore are responsible for whatever happens to us.

This realization is what est and Landmark devotees claim as a sort of epiphany at the end of the LGAT, that’s when they say you “get it.”

So perhaps within Werner’s world there may be no mourning for the victims of Darren Mack, Donna Anderson, David Grill or Jason Weed.

Li Hongzhi the exiled founder of Falun Gong, a Chinese religious movement many consider a “cult,” was served with a subpoena last week, which requires him to appear before a judge in New York City as a witness this week.

'Master' Li HongzhiThat court proceeding is a divorce action filed by one of Hongzhi’s followers against her husband. The couple is estranged largely because of Falun Gong.

Essentially, the wife is a true believer, but her husband is not, and this ultimately led to a marital breakdown.

Ms. C. a devotee of Falun Gong also known as Falun Dafa, has been separated from her husband Mr. C. for some time. The couple shares custody of their son and a New York family court will soon make a final determination regarding those arrangements.

Hongzhi was served Thursday June 15th 8:20 AM in the town of Saint James, New York. The Chinese exile that became an American citizen reportedly has two residences, one in New York and another in New Jersey.

As a direct result of the subpoena served Hongzhi is required to appear before a New York judge in Queens. His scheduled appearance is Thursday this week at 2:30 PM. 

Falun Gong received recent attention when a devotee with “press credentials” began shrieking at President Bush during a speech made by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House.

Interestingly, that same woman, Wang Wenyi, was once listed by Mela Wu-Malin Nee Mela Cawley as a potential witness in the New York court proceeding to be held this week.

The Epoch Times, a newspaper run by Falun Gong members that provided Wenyi with press credentials, has similarly sponsored Ms. C. as a reporter. Both Ms. C. and Wenyi have participated in Falun Gong protests and demonstrations against the Chinese government, which has outlawed the group as an “evil cult.”

Falun Gong protestFalun Gong has caused increasing tension within the Chinese-American community. Some communities, such as Flushing, New York and more recently San Francisco, do not appreciate the group’s participation at events. Some Chinese-American leaders have suggested that Hongzhi’s followers use such events to promote their own agenda.

Li Hongzhi has been criticized for his racist and homophobic remarks.

He has said that gays are “disgusting” and somehow a “black substance” accumulates within the bodies of gay men. “Disgusting homosexuality shows the dirty abnormal psychology of the gay who has lost his ability of reasoning at the present time,” Hongzhi stated. And one day the religious leader claims gays will be ’eliminated’’ by ’the gods.’’

Li Hongzhi’s racist remarks are also disturbing.

He teaches his followers that “mixed-race people¦[are] instruments of an alien plot to destroy humanity’s link to heaven.” And that these interracial unions are somehow part of “a plot by¦evil extraterrestrials.”

Interestingly, Mr. and Mrs. C., whose divorce proceeding Hongzhi is scheduled to appear at this week, are an example of one of those “interracial unions” and the couple’s son falls within the category of what Hongzhi’s calls “mixed-race-people.”

Mr. Hongzhi may soon have an opportunity to explain his beliefs before a judge and under oath as a witness.

Perhaps the religious leader will also explain other statements he has made such as that he can “personally install’’ falun (a wheel of law) in the abdomens of his followers, “levitate” and “become invisible.”

Apparently he was unable and/or unwilling to either levitate or become invisible to avoid the process server that presented him with a subpoena last week.

Hongzhi at staged NY appearanceSome years ago the Washington Post (2000) and later the San Jose Mercury News (2001) reported about Hongzhi’s bigoted and often bizarre beliefs. However, since then the Western Press has virtually given the leader a “free pass,” rarely asking him or his followers any tough questions. Instead, the focus has repeatedly been on Falun Gong claims concerning “persecution” in China.

Now a New York courtroom may become the latest venue for Li Hongzhi to speak. And this time the Falun Gong leader would not be holding forth within an environment that he essentially controls. Instead, the judge would control the courtroom and lawyers would be asking the questions.

This Thursday afternoon in Queens might prove to be a rare opportunity to see and hear Li Hongzhi unfiltered and on the record. The Falun Gong founder, who supposedly leads millions, may finally answer some tough questions.

Madonna appears to be increasingly predatory regarding her proselytizing for the controversial “Kabbalah Centre.” The 1980s diva seems to prey upon young and vulnerable stars. 

Lindsay Lohan targeted?“The buzz is that Madonna has become very tight with Lindsay Lohan, sharing religious and professional tips,” reported Jeanette Walls for MSNBC. 

Lohan, who will turn twenty next month, says she is “looking into Kabbalah.”

There seems to be a pattern to Madonna’s missionary work lately and it isn’t pretty.

The soon to be 48-year-old singer apparently preys upon young troubled stars, promoting her mystical mentors and their teachings as a divine cure to solve their problems.

First there was Britney Spears, who was reportedly troubled by an increasingly difficult and turbulent life. Along comes Madonna with a kiss and her Kabbalah grab bag of goodies, including a ready-to-wear “red string” amulet and plenty of bottled “Kabbalah Water.”

However, eventually the magic wore off and Spears reportedly got tired of the constant pressure to give the mystical group more money.

Once the pop singer dumped the Kabbalah Centre it wasn’t long before Madonna gave her the “kiss off.”

After all, the “Material Girl” has given her gurus millions, so why should Spears hold out?

Apparently it’s not possible to be Madonna’s special mentoring partner without a commitment to her purported “cult.” 

Now it seems it’s Lindsay Lohan’s turn to be the targeted teen idol and she certainly fits the profile.

Estranged from her father with a tabloid history of bingeing and partying, Lohan looks like the next vulnerable young star the diva has hooked up to reel in.

“Madonna’s giving Lindsay advice on her music career, and she wants to work on a film with Madonna, too!” reported MSNBC. They are also planning a “spiritual journey” to “the Holy Land” a source said.

Maybe Lohan should consider that Britney Spears didn’t navigate her life any better with Madonna on-board as her mentor. And the disco queen’s spiritual advisors have not done much good for her personal life according to press reports.

Britney Spears with former mentorWorking with Madonna on a movie can be a disaster. Witness her past film collaborations with husbands Sean Penn (Shanghai Surprise) and Guy Ritchie (Swept Away), “two for two,” flops that is. 

Despite her recent retro album and tour the 1980s icon has fallen off the Forbes list of its “top 100 stars.” Madonna was No. 8 last year, and now she’s nowhere to be found, reports Fox News.

What about all that illumminating “light” supposedly beaming down at the Kabbalah Centre?

Lindsay Lohan would probably be better off feeling her way through the dark without any guidance from Madonna’s gurus. And if the young star wants to take a trip try driving up the California Coast Highway to Napa, rather than some diva-led pilgrimage.

Scientology stars like Tom Cruise and Jenna Elfman don’t seem to be doing that well lately. Is it possible that Scientology, rather than being a bridge to success, ultimately is a path to some sort of personal meltdown?

Cruise 'No. 1'?Yesterday Forbes Magazine proclaimed Tom Cruise “No. 1” on its list of “the world’s 100 most powerful stars” reported Reuters.

However, Roger Freidman of Fox News sees Cruise’s status far differently. He says that the star has “fallen and his career has taken a beating.” Friedman further reported that George Clooney got the role in an upcoming action/thriller, which Cruise sought desperately.

Interestingly, age certainly wasn’t a factor, since Cruise is younger than Clooney.

Instead Fox News cited Scientology as perhaps a deciding “factor.”

A source told Friedman “There isn’t a major studio that will offer Tom Cruise a $200 million movie now.”

How can this be though, when the actor has attained such a lofty level within the church that claims it can resolve virtually any personal problem or impediment?

Cruise is reportedly an “Operating Thetan 7” (OT-7) and has only one level left to reach Scientology’s version of “total enlightenment.”

So how is it that Scientology’s “Top Gun” is in a career slump after reaching the heights of awareness and supposed human development?

As CultNews previously reported Jenna Elfman also has reached OT-7.

The former “Dharma” of Dharma and Greg who briefly becameAlex” for the short-lived sitcom Courting Alex seems to be getting stranger as she cruises through Scientology’s higher levels.

Elfman too far out?Last year Elfman began ranting about “suppressive people” (SP).

“The more successful I became, the more suppression I bumped into¦especially in the entertainment industry, which really is home to rabid suppression”¦know you are going to be under attack¦you have to be able and willing to confront evil if you want to survive,” the sitcom star said.

However, despite this threat Elfman nevertheless claimed that she could handle it.

“An SP? Why would that be scary? They’re the biggest cowards that exist,” Scientology’s Celebrity magazine quoted her saying in an interview. “Bring it on. Please. Please just try and attack me. I welcome it. Now that I’m willing to confront them, they scurry away¦They scurry, because I’m willing to confront them,” she taunted.

But when Elfaman and her husband bumped into someone that would arguably be perceived by Scientologists as a “SP” attacking them it was another story.

The Elfmans spotted a guy wearing a T-shirt with pictures of Scientologists Tom Cruise and John Travolta along with the slogan “Scientology is gay.”

But this “SP” apparently didn’t “scurry” and instead stood his ground, while the Elfmans seemingly lost control and went ballistic reports Your

'SP' T-shirtJenna Elfman repeatedly asked the man “What crimes have you committed?” and “have you raped a baby?”

This was Scientology-speak, as taught by the church’s founder L. Ron Hubbard, Scientologists are taught to personally attack those critical of the church.

CBS still has a development deal with Elfman for another show despite the failure of Courting Alex.

Should the network consider the “Scientology factor”?

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler says that Elfman “has made a huge commitment.”

But what about her “huge commitment” to Scientology?

“I intend to make Scientology as accessible to as many people as I can. And that is my goal…absolutely relentless and unreasonable,” Elfman told Celebrity. “That way, I can have complete KSW (Keeping Scientology Working)¦[and] forge ahead with a very high speed of particle flow.”

Maybe CBS should see if there is a “reality clause” included in Elfman’s development deal in case she gets too far out.

This all begs the question that if Scientology is the panacea its proselytizing celebrities say it is why doesn’t it keep working for them consistently?

Shouldn’t their careers and personal behavior be consistently and continually improving as they ascend Scientology’s spiritual levels?

Why have stars like Tom Cruise and Jenna Elfman repeatedly been behaving so strangely?

It appears that perhaps the higher up Scientologists go, the more likely they are to have some sort of personal meltdown.

Could it be that strange behavior, such as couch jumping and/or becoming ballistic, is somehow a byproduct of studying Scientology?

In a recent interview with DVD Man’s Room Elfman again defended Scientology.

“Anything good that helps people has been attacked. Scientology is going nowhere. I will tell you that right now, because it works and so many people are helped by it,” she said.

“People who have been helped aren’t going anywhere because they know it’s true for them,” said the former sitcom star turned Scientology sage

Maybe there is some truth in Elfman’s words.

Scientology does seem to lead “nowhere” and diehard devotees like Cruise and Elfman apparently haven’t gotten “anywhere” through its teachings.

Kristin Kreuk the WB star that plays “Lana Lang” on Smallville was spotted in Albany, New York attending a five-day intensive of the controversial large group awareness training program called NXIVM (pronounced NEX-ee-um, like the “purple pill” for acid reflux).

Kristin KreukNXIVM has been called a “cult” and described as “extremely dangerous” by critics.

Its leader Keith Raniere known as “Vanguard” to his followers made the cover of Forbes magazine in 2003 as the “world’s strangest executive coach.”

The Forbes article titled “Cult of Personality” reports that “people see a darker and more manipulative side to Keith Raniere. Detractors say he runs a cult-like program aimed at breaking down his subjects psychologically, separating them from their families and inducting them into a bizarre world of messianic pretensions, idiosyncratic language and ritualistic practices.”

A source has told CultNews that Kristin Kreuk has been attending the “cult-like program” since Saturday and that the program will continue through today. The actress was accompanied by her boyfriend and is one of about 40 people attending the “intensive” at the NXIVM headquarters in upstate New York.

Some NXIVM program participants have sought psychiatric treatment subsequent to attending the group’s intensives, one participant was hospitalized and another committed suicide.

According to a reliable source Kristin Kreuk is one of about ten new participants at NXIVM currently going through its initial training at an Albany building located at 455 New Karner Rd.

A source told CultNews that the Smallville star and others spent hours the first day watching videotape of Raniere’s disciple, NXIVM President and registered nurse Nancy Salzman, droning on about her mentor’s philosophy. The training took place in a windowless, monitored, tightly controlled room, which included frequent adjustments in room temperature.

Salzman’s daughter is leading the program now being attended by Kreuk.

The fee for this five-day “intensive” is around $2,000.00, depending upon when participants sign up, a 16-day program offered by the group costs even more.

Kreuk and boyfriend on left attended NXIVMNXIVM says, “The 5-day intensive training provides participants with a clear understanding of the first principles of success. It constitutes the first five days of the 16-day intensive, and encompasses the foundational practices of both the Ethos and the Origins programs. Participants in the 5-day intensive trainings have access to a certified personal coach for 30 days after their training has concluded.”

A “certified professional coach”?

Will Kristin Kreuk end up being controlled by the “world’s strangest executive coach”?

Maybe someone should fly in to rescue the 24-year-old actress from this purported “cult”?

But Superman can’t fulfill that task, like he does on Smallville, rescuing Lana Lang from various evils and catastrophes.

Instead, for this situation Kristin Kreuk must rely upon her personal power of critical thinking, with perhaps a little help from family, a boyfriend and/or her management team.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church and self-proclaimed “messiah” controls a financial empire worth billions of dollars and wields substantial political influence through the Washington Times  and other media interests that he controls including United Press International UPI.

Pay back from President Bush?Moon has long been friendly with the Bush family and has given millions in honorariums to the first President Bush, who has jetted around the world to speak at venues connected to his interests.

Now it seems that the man many have called a “cult leader” hopes to get something more than just a few speeches,  political appointments, and VIP seating from the Bush family.

Moon was convicted for tax fraud in 1982 and subsequently served 13 months in Danbury federal prison.

But the dual roles as both convicted felon and “messiah” seem to bother the 86-year-old South Korean, who probably wants to clean up his legacy through a presidential pardon.

It’s getting down to crunch time.

And unless Moon dies before the second President Bush leaves the White House, relieving him of what could be an awkward obligation, expect a pardon at the President Bush’s second term.

Moon has labored long and hard to lubricate the Oval Office, greasing the “Presidential Pen,” so to speak.

One example of “messianic” largesse recently discovered was a $1 million gift to the first President Bush’s library at Texas A&M reports the Houston Chronicle.

Pardon me? Rev. MoonMoon funneled the million from the Washington Times Foundation through the Greater Houston Community Foundation to the Bush library foundation.  

This octogenarian “messiah” may not walk on water, but he knows how to float money.

Larry Zilliox of Maryland a long-time Moon critic and cult researcher uncovered this interesting cash flow.

President Bill Clinton was criticized for handing out some pretty controversial pardons on his way out of the White House.

Will the end of President Bush’s second term produce an equally if not more controversial pardon as pay back to Rev. Moon?