Chuck Anderson, MTCritics have called Chuck Anderson the founder of “Endeavor Academy” a “cult” leader, but his followers prefer the moniker “Master Teacher” (MT).

Now it seems that this strange self-proclaimed Wisconsin “miracle worker,” reportedly a retired real estate broker and rehabilitated alcoholic originally from Chicago, wants to be a regular on the “New Age” lecture circuit.

That is, with a little boost from pop guru Deepak Chopra.

Anderson is featured along with Chopra for the coming “World Wellness Weekend” at the San Jose Civic Center and Convention Center in California next week. 

MT is advertised as “a fully illuminated mind” that will “assist and accelerate the experience of resurrection and enlightenment.”

San Jose Convention CenterHowever, in December of 1999 CBS “48 Hours” ran a not so flattering report about Chuck Anderson. “The Academy: Miracle or Cult?” was the blurb that the network used to describe its investigative piece.

“At the Endeavor Academy, almost all decisions are made by Anderson,” one of MT’s students told CBS.

The Endeavor Academy was once known as “God’s Country Place” and according to a 1991 report filed by Kalie Picone MT “promises that he will enlighten everyone that follows him, and he promises that it will happen soon. He says only his followers are on the list to ‘get out of here’ and go home with him. They plan to ‘flash out’ of here together.”

Sounds eerily like the California cult known as “Heaven’s Gate” led by Marshall Applewhite, who offered his students the “Last chance to advance beyond human” and that he would take them to “the true Kingdom of God.” When his followers commited suicide in 1997 the group believed that they would “flash out of here together.”

Endeavor Academy was linked to suicide in Australia.

One former student Ian Hamilton wrote a book about his days with the group titled “Awake among the Sleeping,” which raised serious questions about whether MT is leading his pupils to “enlightenment” or on “a road to nowhere.”

What does it mean to become “enlightened” according to Anderson? 

Well, Picone says she found out that “to be enlightened, [students] had to make a commitment to MT and give up everything. And that “they know they are enlightened” when “they recognize who MT really is.”

And who is Chuck Anderson really?

Picone says she was told that MT didn’t like to appear in public, give interviews or talk to anyone on the phone, because “people will try to kill the Christ if they know where He is.” 

“The Christ”?

Wasn’t it David Koresh that was supposed to be the “Lamb of God”?

MT teaches from an essentially benign book “A Course in Miracles” (ACIM), but not everyone that believes the book agrees with Anderson.

ACIM is a work supposedly authored by “Christ” as “channeled” by Helen Schucman.

Those that dispute MT’s interpretation of ACIM include Kenneth Wapnick of the Foundation for a Course in Miracles (FACIM), who worked closely with Schucman.

So why would the controversial leader of a group called “an insidious and destructive cult that is responsible for the mental breakdown of some of its members” be featured at a “Wellness Weekend”?

Deepak Chopra, M.D.And why would someone as media savvy as Deepak Chopra want to share billing with someone like Anderson?

“Wellness Weekend” star Chopra is being promoted as one of the “top 100 icons of the 20th Century” and he will deliver the keynote address November 3rd at the San Jose Civic Auditorium to launch the event.

Chopra who is both medical doctor and pop culture philosopher has become well known on public television. 

Sponsors for the “Wellness Weekend” include KTEH/KCAH Public Broadcasting, KBAY Radio and the San Jose Mercury News.

At the top of the sponsors list is “A Course in Miracles International,” which is an organization controlled by Chuck Anderson and his followers. At its Web site the weekend event is touted as an opportunity to see “Master Teacher and Deepak Chopra.”

“An Invitation to A Great Experiment” features two of Anderson’s devotees explaining how he transmits the truth that there “is no world.” This seems to be accomplished through what the group calls “mind training.”

Apparently Anderson and his followers believe he’s the real star and should get top billing, even though Chopra is the big draw at the coming California event. And they seem to have their own agenda as can be seen through another video “Purpose Of This Gathering.” 

It also appears that MT no longer fears facing the public outside of his academy and will talk to anyone, that is if they pay the price of admission to the “World Wellness Weekend.”

CultNews thinks that Deepak Chopra, M.D. might consider giving MT a checkup.

It seems that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the old guru that briefly provided spiritual guidance to the “Beatles” during the 1960s, wants to influence American kids through public schools.

Maharishi Mahesh YogiHowever, concerned parents upset this plan, in California’s bastion of liberalism Marin County and were unwilling to put out the welcome mat for Maharishi.

Amidst allegations that “Transcendental Meditation” (TM) taught by the guru was a “religion” and a “cult,” the program proposed by Terra Linda High School principal Carole Ramsey was ultimately withdrawn reported Associated Press. 

The funding source for this proposed program was eccentric film director David Lynch, who was willing to pay $175,000 through his foundation for 250 students and 25 staffers to practice Maharishi’s meditation.

A long-time devotee of the guru Lynch seems to spend more time traveling to promote TM lately than making movies.

One Marin parent said at an open public meeting that TM was “the beginning of a whole new philosophy of life.” And that it works “by putting people in trances, and when you’re in a trance you’re more suggestible” reported NBC 11.

David LynchPrincipal Ramsey insisted instead that the practice is “about quieting your mind” and “actually very good for your brain,” she said.

The principal allowed an open discussion last week, but it blew up in her face.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s religious,” pronounced yet another parent and opponent of the proposed program.

This is not the first time Maharishi’s followers have attempted to get their guru’s mantras into public schools within the United States.

During 2004 there were several attempts reported across the country.

According to one report filed by Associated Press TM fans were pitching their beliefs at public schools in “New York, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and other places.”

Barry Markovsky, a University of South Carolina sociologist labeled such efforts “stealth religion.” And almost 30 years ago in 1977, U.S. District Judge H. Curtis Meanor ruled against TM being taught at public schools. 

However, that didn’t discourage the faithful who kept plugging away at a number of venues through often through front organizations.

Working through the “National Committee for Stress-Free Schools” Maharishi’s disciples were “aggressively promoting…in major cities, including New York City,” according to The Journal News. 

And in North Carolina a charter school garnered controversy when it announced a TM and “Natural Law Curriculum.” However, it was deemed inappropriate for public funds to support what is essentially seen as a religious practice. Ultimately the school board voted down TM as part of its educational program.

TM supporters also tried to enter schools within Lexington, Kentucky.

In all of these attempts, much like the recently proposed Marin “wellness” program, Maharishi’s followers pitched a program they claimed would somehow lead to a decrease in blood pressure and discipline problems, improvement in grades and the lowering of stress levels.

But critics repeatedly questioned the research regarding TM, which has been characterized as “skewed toward positive results.”

The Middle European Journal of Medicine found that out of 700 studies on TM spanning 40 years, only 10 were conducted in the clinical tradition of using strict control groups, randomization and placebos. Of those 10, four of the studies recruited subjects that had already shown an interest in TM.

Peter Canter a researcher from the Peninsula Medical School of the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in the United Kingdom concluded, “there is a strong placebo effect going on which probably works through the expectations being set up.”

It seems David Lynch hoped to avoid controversy with the recently proposed school program in California, by putting up the funding himself.

However, despite this demonstration of devotion to his guru, Mr. Lynch will not be gaining any new disciples for Maharishi and his teachings in Marin.

One of the most successful groups called “cults” that ever recruited on a college campus was the so-called “International Church of Christ” (ICC) founded by Kip McKean.

Kip McKean (left) with 'disciple'McKean, a former campus minister let go by the Houston Memorial church of Christ in 1977, formed a splinter group often called a “cult” by its critics.

Beginning in the late 1970s and through the 1980s around Boston the group grew, and ultimately peaked reportedly at about 200,000 members, mostly recruited at colleges and universities across the United States and eventually around the world.

McKean, a charismatic, controlling and authoritarian leader, contained and manipulated his followers through something he labeled as “discipleship.”

This hierarchical system required that every member of his church, with the notable exception of McKean himself, be assigned to someone called their “discipling partner” to “seek advice” from.

That “advice” influenced such things as decisions about school, dating, family involvement and visits, virtually every aspect of an ICC disciple’s life.

But the ICC discipling system led to serious problems including students dropping out, emotional breakdowns and in some situations suicide.

The organization began to stumble structurally during the late 1990s due to mounting media attention, its accumulated bad press, criticism from former members, increasingly serious complaints from current members and at times even some of its leaders.

All this took its toll, and eventually there were more former members of the ICC than current members. Morevoer, numerous colleges and universities banned the group, which effectively cut the ICC off from its most meaningful source for new recruits.

Former members began to organize and effectively networked through the Internet, speaking out increasingly against ICC practices and McKean, who was once compared to the apostles Peter and Paul.

Ultimately Kip McKean was forced to resign through a series of events and his once loyal subordinates staged something like a “palace coup” toppling the imperious leader and taking over the kingdom he largely created.

But it seems that you can’t keep an old “cult leader” down.

McKean ended up in Oregon and has been attempting something like a “comeback.”

Still able to “fire up” at least some of the old faithful, McKean took over the Portland Church of Christ. This church then became his launching pad for what is now called the “International Christian Church.”

Kip McKean, now in his fifties, but with an ego that apparently requires regular feeding, was once named “…the greatest living treasure that God has given the kingdom on the face of the earth…”

And though the new “ICC” is comparatively quite small, it is growing through an old formula called “church plantings.” This formula consists typically of sending out teams of “disciples” to start up new cell groups in other cities, which then are frequently fed by student recruits from nearby schools.

There are now McKean-dominated groups in Eugene, Chicago, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

The old ICC itself continues to decline. According to its own numbers the organization membership has dropped to below 100,000.

In the “old days” growth was touted as proof that “God” was on McKean and the ICC’s side.

Based upon that past claim what can the ICC or its old leader say now given their respective reduced followings?

Perhaps McKean and his old followers blame everything on an “attack of the Devil” and/or the “evils of the world”?

Whatever the rhetoric it’s unlikely that Kip McKean will ever again regain the following he once had during his “glory days” as “the greatest living treasure.”

But the aging and notorious “cult leader” appears still committed to creating continuing cause for concern and at times grief.

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Scientology may not fare too well as fodder for the popular cable show “Nip/Tuck.”

'brainwashed' 'Matt'?The successful dramatic series about two plastic surgeons in Florida has included Scientology as a recurring story line lately.

TV squad quipped, “I’m sure Ryan Murphy and Co. have put together a story that will be both shocking and informative.

Murphy the show’s creator rather cryptically once said, “You read so much in the press about certain famous people who are Scientologists, but the media pushes it aside as a joke. And clearly it’s not a joke for millions of people. I’m not for it. I’m not against it. I was just curious as to what it is, what they believe in, and how it changes life and how it destroys life,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

Some pundits speculated that Murphy might mean that the show would go soft or “politically correct” on the so-called “new religious movement (NRM).”

But maybe not.

Most recently “Matt” (played by John Hensley) has been sucked into the seemingly sinister church, often called a “cult,” by a featured player named “Kimber.”

The two were seen literally sweating it out together.

But instead of a hot sex scene, the couple was doing what Scientologists call the “purification rundown,’ a religious ritual that includes stints in a sauna combined with swallowing down large doses of niacin and some cooking oil.

This bizarre treatment supposedly rids the body of “toxins,” which Scientologists believe is stored in body tissue indefinitely without their “cure.”

Matt’s doctor dad Sean (Dylan Walsh) probably wouldn’t prescribe this remedy for his son to purge drugs. Scientology founder and former pulp fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard concocted this remedy.

concerned Dr. dadIn the last episode it seems Sean actually thought so little of Scientology, he hired a “deprogrammer” to save his “brainwashed” boy.

However, Matt managed to escape and later his Scientology friends helped him to pack up and move on.

What’s next?

Will Matt declare his mom and dad “Suppressive Persons” (SPs) and then “disconnect” from his parental units altogether through another Scientology religious ritual?

Meanwhile Brooke Shields, the actress once bashed for using anti-depressants by Scientology hero Tom Cruise, has been cast as a psychiatrist in the show. Psychiatrists seem to be the equivalent of “Satan’s minions” to Scientologists.

Stay tuned.

It seems like Murphy is stirring a mean pot for his plot line.

Tomorrow night is the next installment.

If there is a movement concerning spending money foolishly on frivolous lawsuits Keith Raniere of Albany, New York may well be its “vanguard.”

Forbes said Raniere 'strangest'Raniere who runs a seminar-selling company called NXIVM (pronounced nexium, like the “purple pill” for acid reflux), insists that his students call him “Vanguard.”

Mr. Raniere is the former head of “Consumer Buyline,” a multi-level marketing scheme that went bust in the 1990s.

But this business failure doesn’t seem to have taught him much.

Consumer Buyline went broke over litigation.

It almost seems that Keith Raniere believes he can sue his way to success.

Maybe that’s what students (called “Espians”) learn through his “Executive Success Programs” (ESP)

Keith Raniere 1990sRaniere has sued Dr. John Hochman twice, a prominent California cult expert, over his report “A Forensic Psychiatrist Evaluates ESP (Executive Success Programs).”

That report was published by the Ross Institute of New Jersey (RI), the sponsor of CultNews.

First, Raniere through NXIVM sued Hochman in New York, but when that lawsuit was dismissed due to venue (location), the ever vigilant and litigious “Vanguard” waited awhile and then filed again in California.

The preposterous litigation claimed among other things, that the psychiatrist had somehow violated Raniere’s “trade secrets” by quoting his writings in a critique of ESP programs.

The doctor’s conclusions contained in the report were not very flattering.

Hochman wrote, “The ESP Intensive appears to be a gateway that encourages participants to attend further training sessions or seminars, and get friends and family to do the same. In a general sense, the goal is integration of individuals into a subculture – however, a particular kind of subculture. It is a kingdom of sorts, ruled by a Vanguard, who writes his own dictionary of the English language, has his own moral code, and the ability to generate taxes on subjects by having them participate in his seminars. It is a kingdom with no physical borders, but with psychological borders – influencing how his subjects spend their time, socialize, and think. Increasing involvement serves to increasingly distance participants from their relationships in a manner that is slow and subtle, and thus not at all obvious to them.”

It didn’t take long for the hammer to fall yet again in court regarding Raniere’s latest litigation.

CultNews has learned that late last month California federal Judge Manuel L. Real dismissed the lawsuit filed against Dr. Hochman with prejudice, which means it cannot be filed again.

In short order the judge signed an order pulling the plug on Raniere’s legal effort.

Cash from his 'subculture'?So has the self-proclaimed “Vanguard” finally “seen the light” through this recent ruling in sunny California?

No.

Per his persistent pattern of behavior, Mr. Raniere has filed an appeal.

Readers of CultNews may recall that this is exactly what “Vanguard” did when he lost in his effort to purge Dr. Hochman’s and other critical articles from the RI database through a requested injunction.

When Raniere was denied his injunction request, he appealed unsuccessfully all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Losing apparently means nothing to Keith Raniere.

When it comes to wasting money foolishly on frivolous litigation, “Vanguard” may indeed be a leader.

Raniere’s motto seems to be, “if first you don’t succeed, lose, lose again.”

Some might wonder, how a former failed businessman like Keith Raniere can afford all the legal fees associated with such lengthy litigation?

The answer appears to be by using other people’s money.

That is, cash coughed up by the wealthy members of that “subculture” known as NXIVM.

Scientology, an organization that is well known for its harassment lawsuits, historically set the precedent for such litigation. The strategy seemed to be that it didn’t matter if the controversial church won, just as long as legal expenses bled its perceived enemies.

However, things are not working that way for NXIVM and “Vanguard.”

The University of California is paying John Hochman’s legal bills. And the Ross Institute has received generous pro bono legal help from noted attorneys Douglas Brooks and Thomas Gleason.

And in a recent development one of the most prestigious law firms in New Jersey, Lowenstein Sandler has joined in, also providing help pro bono.

Lowenstein Sandler is the distinguished law firm that defended RI in a harassment lawsuit filed by another seminar-selling company called Landmark Education.

Lowenstein Sandler attorneys Peter Skolnik and Michael Norwick lawyered Landmark into a corner, which led to its General Counsel Art Schreiber ordering a “strategic retreat,” deciding it was better to dismiss the lawsuit than go on.

It is doubtful that the self-proclaimed “Vanguard” will do the same.

Keith Raniere, who says he’s a “genius,” apparently hasn’t quite figured out the futility of his legal spending spree.

Nurse NancyBy the way, CultNews has also learned that Raniere’s “top dog” at NXIVM Nancy Salzman, a registered nurse who prefers to be called “Prefect,” has opened yet another seminar-selling business called “Jness.”

The company’s Web site says that Jness is based upon “the principle that is not male” and that “if we, the human race, are to come into a new age, it will be necessary for the old balance of principles to change.”

Is nurse Nancy serious, or is this just pretentious rhetoric from “Prefect”?

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A “Moonie” (moniker denoting a loyal follower of purported “cult leader” Rev. Moon) may soon be running the UN’s World Food Program. 

Ambassador Josette SheeranThat is, if US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Ambassador to the UN John Bolton have anything to say about it.

Inner City Press reported that Rice and Bolton apparently hope to slip the appointment through before General Secretary Kofi Annan ends his term of office this year.

The five-year appointment just might be one of the last things the controversial Annan does before he packs up and leaves his office in New York. 

The would-be UN official and long-time fan of Rev. Moon is Josette Sheeran (Shiner), currently a US trade ambassador appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate.

Sheeran was once the managing editor of the Moon-controlled Washington Times before she left that newspaper and experienced something like a religious epiphany.

Suddenly in 1996 Sheeran went from two decades of devotion to the self-proclaimed “messiah” and membership in his controversial Unification Church, to an Episcopalian.

The ambassador has never offered many details concerning her religious conversion and/or whatever prompted her to apparently abandon Moon, but the timing sure was convenient.

Ms. Sheerhan’s conversion took place just before she entered government through a series of opportunities and appointments.

Moon gets crownedIt is no secret that Rev. Moon has long sought world influence and his disciples believe the world would be a better place unified under his “divine” guidance.

According to Rev. Moon deceased presidents of the United States have even decreed this and a few of his political sycophants crowned him in Washington not that long ago.

Ambassador Sheeran herself once claimed, “There is one man, one couple, in the world, which has taken on the power of the anti-values media. That is Reverend and Mrs. Moon.”

What power might Moon garner through Sheeran if she is appointed to a position of authority at the UN?

As CultNews previously reported the Bush/Moon connection goes back to the first President Bush, who received millions in honorariums for speaking engagements tied to Rev. Moon and his interests.

President George H. Bush has also benefited from Rev. Moon’s generous contributions to help build his Presidential Library.

Will Bush pardon Moon?It seems though that Rev. Moon’s gifts come with strings attached.

And that appears to include political appointments for his long-time supporters and perhaps a pardon is in the works for his tax-fraud conviction, before the present President Bush leaves the White House.

Of course there is nothing new here regarding Washington politics.

Big givers typically expect big favors.

But having a “Moonie” running a major program at the UN would be a really big favor indeed, potentially affecting the world.

Is that what big bucks buys from the Bush family? And is global influence so easily for sale at this White House?

The “anti-values media” Ms. Sheeran/Shiner once mocked has not reported that much about apparent influence peddling by the Bush White House regarding the Unification Church.

At times people wonder “what happened to all those ‘cults’ from the 1970s”?

Well, some of those groups have effectively maneuvered from the fringes of society to the centers of power and influence potentially affecting our daily lives.

Note: Japan Today reported that a Tokyo District Court ordered the Unification Church to pay about 280 million yen in damages to a woman who said she was swindled. What’s next world hunger?