What do Paul McCartney, Donavan, Eddie Veder, Sheryl Crow and maybe Moby have in common?

Well, besides being celebrity rockers it seems that they can all be seen as supporters of a “cult” recruitment scheme that targets kids.

That’s right, these recording artists not only hope you listen to their music, they want to promote religious beliefs, or at least help to fund programs that are thinly disguised proselytizing aimed at schoolchildren.

Is this yet another example of stars trading on their celebrity status to preach, not unlike Tom Cruise and his endless ramblings about Scientology?

On April 4th McCartney, Veder, Crow and Moby will “Come Together” at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York City, to raise money for the David Lynch Foundation.

davidlynch.jpegDavid Lynch (photo left), the director of “Blue Velvet” isn’t just a “cult” filmmaker; he is also a “cult” follower.

The director is a longtime devotee of the recently deceased Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement, which has often been called a “cult.”

Apparently Lynch managed to persuade McCartney and others in the music industry to help him fund pet programs “used to teach Transcendental Meditation to a million kids” reports Examiner.com.

This is nothing new for the eccentric filmmaker, who seems to be more concerned about pitching his old guru’s teachings, than coming up with new movie projects.

And it wasn’t difficult for Lynch to get 1960s singer Donavan on board, since he is also a longtime TM devotee.

Sir Paul reportedly will be joined by his old band mate Ringo Starr at the NYC benefit event, who is the only other remaining Beatle.

There is a certain symmetry to all this since it was the Beatles that launched Maharishi (photo below) and his “meditation” techniques into the mainstream of popular culture during the psychedelic sixties, though John Lennon eventually became disenchanted and denounced the guru.

06maharishi6001.jpgLennon later said in interviews that the Beatles song “Sexy Sadie,” which includes the lyrics “Sexy Sadie, what have you done, you made a fool of everyone” was originally called “Maharishi.”

But Maharishi was no fool when it came to making money. The guru amassed a global spiritual empire that included assets valued in the billions.

TMers often make ridiculous claims, such as that their mass meditation somehow helped to bring down Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War.

However, TM critics see the group’s practices as little more than self-hypnosis or trance induction.

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.”

TMers have nevertheless continued to make preposterous claims, for example that their “technologies” can create an “all-powerful field of invincibility” that will “make any nation invincible.”

These claims certainly contradict what happened at Maharishi University in Iowa, where a  student went berserk, viciously attacking and ultimately murdering another pupil.

Whatever supposed mystical benefits occur from TM helped neither of them avoid this tragedy.

In 2004 lawsuits were filed against Maharishi U alleging the school was “negligent” and failed to protect its students properly from the murderer, who was known to be violent reported the Associated Press.

Just this month the University quietly settled one lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.

The one time TMer turned murderer who was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

maharishitoday.jpegA former 17-year TMer wrote in an article featured at CultNews, that Maharishi (more recent photo left) was a “diverter of seekers, seducer of minds’ and “stealer of souls.”

Not exactly the kind of person you would expect Sir Paul McCartney to support.

Perhaps this knighted Brit is a bit more gullible than the average chap.

After all he was taken in by an alleged “gold digger” and went through a rather expensive divorce after a brief marriage.

In fairness though it seems the list of those taken in by David Lynch and/or TM is growing.

Ben Harper, Mike Love of the Beach Boys and Erykah Badu may be playing along with McCartney at the NYC fundraiser according to recent reports.

So Sir Paul won’t be the only “Fool on the Hill.”

However, David Lynch didn’t fool concerned parents in California.

When the movie director tried to unload his TM program in Marin County, a bastion of liberalism, it was soundly rejected.

Amidst allegations that TM was nothing more than a “cult,” Lynch’s proposed program was ultimately dumped reported NBC News 11.

The funding source for the program was none other than the David Lynch Foundation, that same entity that Paul McCartney and company seem so anxious to help through the coming New York fundraiser.

And the Lynch failure in California wasn’t the first time that TM devotees have targeted schoolchildren.

According to a report filed by Associated Press TMers have made similar attempts to promote their beliefs at public schools before 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.

These efforts were done through something called the “National Committee for Stress-Free Schools.”

Just when you thought that Madonna was the one to watch out for when it came to a music icon peddling religion, along comes a former Beatle and his virtual tag team of celebrity rockers.

Postscript: An interesting comment came in subsequent to this article appearing at CultNews. According to one TMer, “The one thing all the above mentioned outstanding musicians have in common is that they all practice Transcendental Meditation.” Shades of Tom Cruise indeed.

An ordained Scientology minister from Santa Barbara is scheduled to speak to Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA ) students tonight on campus. His sponsors are enrolled in the school’s religious studies program, but ironically the venue chosen for his presentation is “in the Science building” reports Mustang Daily.

Scientology, which believes as an article of faith that alien spaceships have visited earth and subscribes to an assortment of health remedies concocted by its founder L. Ron Hubbard (photo below conducting an experiment), is hardly “Science.”

62325053_a8e032d751.jpgHubbard, neither a scientist nor a doctor, was a pulp-fiction writer turned purported “cult leader.”

His bizarre beliefs about the human mind and health have frequently been derided as “psuedo science.”

This is why Scientology specifically chose to become a “religion,” where in addition to tax-exempt status; it could position its claims outside the realm of serious scientific scrutiny.

For example, Hubbard’s ridiculous claim that human bodies are supposedly capable of storing toxins and/or the residue of drugs indefinitely.

Respected researchers have dismissed this belief repeatedly.

A Scientology program called “Narconon” was ultimately purged from California schools, when it was learned that Scientologists were teaching such Hubbard hokum to schoolchildren.

Another example of Hubbard’s penchant for blurring the boundaries between science and religion is the Scientology ritual known as the “Purification Rundown.”

This regimen closely connected to Hubbard’s claims about toxins includes a regimen of saunas, ingesting large doses of niacin and vegetable oil to allegedly purge poisons from the body.

Tom Cruise once tried to promote this routine in New York in the guise of “detox” clinics, even encouraging city firemen exposed to chemicals at Ground Zero through 9-11 to try it.

However, the New York Fire Department’s chief medical officer told the New York Times that there is no “objective evidence” to support Hubbard’s theory that somehow people can sweat out toxins.

Moreover, an Irish professor that heads a university pharmacology department stated that the purification rundown is “not supported by scientific facts” and “not medically safe” reported the Irish Times.

Never mind.

1101910506_400.jpgScientologists believe whatever Hubbard said and/or wrote, and it is not legitimately subjected to scientific scrutiny, but rather accepted on faith.

As noted believer Isaac Hayes once said Hubbard’s pronouncements remain forever true and therefore “immutable.”

In fact, Scientologists feel so strongly about this that the words of L. Ron Hubbard have been enshrined. The church has spent millions building vaults to serve as perpetual repositories of their founder’s supposed knowledge, in New Mexico and most recently Wyoming.

Hubbard’s writings date back to the 1950s and the man himself died more than 20 years ago in 1986.

Of course since that time science has moved on, well beyond Hubbard’s quaint theories and observations.

Relatively more recent discoveries in science concerning the chemistry and synaptic connections of the brain and the role of genetics in human illness were not known and/or understood by Hubbard. Perhaps this is why so much of what passes for his “holy wisdom” now seems so hopelessly out of date and disconnected from reality.

According to Rolling Stone when Hubbard died the coroner’s report “described the father of Scientology as in a state of decrepitude: unshaven, with long, thinning whitish-red hair and unkempt fingernails and toenails. In Hubbard’s system was the anti-anxiety drug hydroxyzine (Vistaril), which several of his assistants would later attest was only one of many psychiatric and pain medications Hubbard ingested over the years.”

Perhaps Hubbard himself was disconnected from reality?

This might in part explain his claims, which appear to be more fantasy; than anything grounded on scientifically proven facts.

Cal Poly has an excellent academic reputation.

Scientology is known as a fringe “new religion,” often called a “cult.”

Perhaps the best place for a Scientology lecture isn’t in the Cal Poly Science Building, but nearer to the fiction stacks at the university library?

Postscript: Apparently at the Scientology lecture Cal Poly faculty would not allow probing questions, which raised meaningful issues about Scientology’s troubled history. They instead insisted that students submit their questions through attending professors, who then filtered and edited them as they saw fit. One person commenting about this process said, “Questions were offered to the professors who hosted the event regarding the substantive issues… For example, a direct question on the ‘Disconnection’ practice of Scientology was so watered down into a softball that asking it in the re-worded way it was phrased was the functional equivalent of filtering reality…A disservice was done…to the students of Cal Poly…at best failing to fully disclose the nature of the subject matter, and at worst exposing students to one of many deliberate recruiting methodologies of the cult.”

National Heritage Foundation (NHF), a controversial charity with an interesting history run by the Houk family, has gone bankrupt.

photodockhouk.jpgIn a letter published late last month CEO J.T. “Dock” Houk advised (photo left), “NHF has filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in Virginia on January 24th. The plan is subject to Bankruptcy Court approval…”

Houk also shared the following tidbits:

1. “We cannot make any new disbursements from our foundation accounts until further notice…”

2. “Many of the donation checks issued but not presented for payment until recently will not be honored by our bank.”

Does this mean that NHF knowingly passed potentially bad checks?

Or, was this simply an example of the general incompetence and mismanagement, which led to bankruptcy?

Houk blames his troubles on “this recession” and insists that he is only “restructuring.”

However, Houk and his charity have a troubled history as reflected by the documents and articles gathered within the Ross Institute Internet Archives about the organization.

NHF has been around since 1968 and Houk claims it has handed out “nearly $1 billion…since its inception.”

But NHF has also been something of a watering hole for the Houks.

tick_houk.jpg“Dock” Houk is CEO, Mom Houk serves as Chief Operating Officer, son “Tick” is President (photo right) and both the Houk’s daughter and daughter-in-law have served as Vice Presidents.

It seems that this “charity” is run like a family business, with the Houks collecting salaries and expenses through its ample cash flow.

Is the Houk clan following in the footsteps of the notorious Baptist Foundation of Arizona, which bilked 11,000, mostly elderly investors out of $600 million?

Former executives of that foundation were ultimately sentenced to prison time and ordered to repay hundreds of millions of dollars for defrauding their fellow Baptists in a botched financial scheme that bankrupted that non-profit organization.

Or are “Dock” Houk and his son “Tick” more like alleged fraudster Bernard Madoff, who fed off those that trusted him in what has been described as an elaborate 50-billion-dollar “Ponzi scheme.”

Whatever questionable financial practices might have passed for “business as usual” within NHF will now hopefully be carefully scrutinized through the federal bankruptcy proceeding.

This story could become quite interesting.