Cult News from Rick Ross, Cult Expert and Intervention Specialist
Not all groups called either "cults" or "cult-like" are harmful (Click for full text)
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:: August 24, 2002 ::
Playboy "cult leader" awaits extradition

Once the United States was a playground for purported "cult leader" Amdi Peterson. But now he's traded in his multi-million dollar digs for more modest accommodations in a LA jail. Peterson is being held on criminal charges filed by his native Denmark pending extradition.

Amdi Peterson hired O.J. Simpson's former lawyer Robert Shapiro to represent him. But despite the lawyer's help he will soon be on his way home to face criminal charges according to the Associated Press.

Mr. Peterson once lived a lavish lifestyle in a $6 million dollar penthouse on exclusive Fisher Island in Florida. But while he took in the sun and walked his dogs on the beach, the members of his charity organization called "Tvind" often-struggled in substandard living conditions.

Tvind was supposedly established to help the needy in Third World countries. But it seems now that it became little more than Peterson's personal piggy bank. While many workers for the charity humbled themselves and surrendered their assets for the cause, Peterson spent more than $600,000 just decorating his bachelor pad. Tvind also shelled out $21,000 per month to maintain his country club Florida lifestyle.

However, now it doesn't look like playboy Peterson will stroll along the beach again anytime soon.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 10:22 AM][Link]
:: August 23, 2002 ::
LDS Inc. creating tourist destinations for the faithful

The Mormon Church (LDS) wants to buy property in Pennsylvania, which they claim is where church founder Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. A spokesperson for the church said this site might eventually be included in a "Mormon Heritage Tour," reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Other locations the LDS Church has focused upon in recent years include Smith's hometown of Palmyra, New York, Kirtland, Ohio where he built his first temple and Nauvoo, Illinois, which was a Mormon city ruled over by Smith until his death.

The LDS has poured considerable cash into such ventures and in Nauvoo this has generated some controversy. It seems that LDS Inc., ever pragmatic and business-like, has come up with a string of tourist destinations it can promote to the faithful.

Mormon families may now pack up the kids and tour "Mormon World" for their vacation, instead of going to Disneyland or some other secular site. This might ultimately create a significant stream of additional income for the church besides its expected regular tithes.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:16 AM][Link]
The UN gives Moon organizations special status

The United Nations has granted three organizations controlled by "cult leader" Reverend Sun Myung Moon non-governmental organization (NGO) status. These NGOs are affiliated with his Unification Church.

Another Moon organization called the "World Association of Non-Government Organizations," according to the International Herald Tribune, "falsely poses as the world voice of the voluntary associations."

Rev. Moon, who historically has used hundreds of front organizations to advance his personal agenda as self-proclaimed world "messiah," seems to have it in with the UN. But the "one world government" he envisions is with himself as its supreme leader or as his followers say, "True Parent."

[Posted by Rick Ross at 10:32 AM][Link]
Moon must pay ex-members victimized by "shotgun weddings"

Three former Japanese followers of "cult leader" Rev. Moon of the Unification Church decided they didn't like the spouses he chose for them and wanted out of their arranged marriages. According to Japan Today all three participated in one of Moon's mass weddings, but later sued their former leader.

A court in Japan awarded the plaintiffs about $75,000 dollars in damages. The judge said, "The followers had no freedom to refuse the partners selected for them, and were made to believe that if they did not participate here, they and their ancestors would not be saved."

Rev. Moon has been performing his own variation of "shotgun weddings" on a massive scale for many years. But instead of pregnancy making marriage necessary, it's getting into Heaven. According to Moon singles cannot enter Heaven. Rev. Moon claims it was even necessary for him to officiate over the marriage of Jesus in "spirit world" to help get him in.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 08:48 AM][Link]
:: August 22, 2002 ::
"Cult leader" Satchidananda is dead

click here

[Posted by Rick Ross at 05:07 PM][Link]
Jesus was resurrected through cloning, or so says "cult leader"

A bizarre "cult" called the "Raelians" believes cloning may offer them eternal life. Their leader Claude Vorilhon, now named "Rael," formed his own company called "Clonaid." The Times reported that Rael now claims to have successfully cloned the first human. But it's difficult to believe a man who has also said that he received his "mission" instructions from an extraterrestrial being on top of a volcano.

Not unlike many cult leaders Rael has quite a self-aggrandizing bio. This includes meeting with Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and Moses when he traveled to another planet. But today he seems to spend most of his time in Canada and Florida. There are thousands of Raelian believers who follow this man.

According to Rael, Jesus was resurrected through some "advanced cloning technique."

An apparent publicity junkie Rael has frequent press conferences to announce supposed breakthroughs. He says that cloning is only the first step. After that is successfully accomplished he will move on to the transfer of memory and personality from an individual to their clone. All this will eventually enable people to live forever.

Rael's motto is "rationalize yourself to revolutionize humanity." I guess that means anything goes. And when it comes to Rael this seems to be true.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 04:57 PM][Link]
Shakers almost gone

The Naples Daily News recently interviewed Sister Mildred 91, one of the last Shakers.

This peaceful and simple sect is now almost extinct. Shakerism peaked in the 1840s, but has very few surviving members today. This is largely due to the communal society's requirement that its members be celibate. Shakers only gain new members through conversion. It seems that increasingly fewer people were and/or are willing to embrace the group's demanding and austere lifestyle.

The Shakers were founded in 1758 by Mother Ann Lee, who they regarded as the "second incarnation of Christ." They immigrated to the English colonies under her leadership in 1774 and were one of many unusual groups that came to America seeking religious tolerance and freedom.

President Thomas Jefferson found Shaker writings fascinating, though Charles Dickens later said they were "grim." However the utopian group may ultimately be best remembered for its legacy of simple furniture and folk art, widely appreciated for its craftsmanship.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:11 AM][Link]
Cult member to use "brainwashing" defense in murder trial

Karen Robidoux, a member of the cult called "The Body," is charged with the starvation murder of her year-old son. Jacques her husband has already been tried and convicted of first-degree murder for his role in the baby's death. He testified that the group's teachings and "visions" caused him to withhold solid food from his son.

Now Mrs. Robidoux's attorney Joseph F. Krowski says he will use a cult version of the "battered woman's syndrome defense" to explain his clients behavior, reports the Boston Globe. Krowski said that the 26-year-old mother was essentially bullied and brainwashed by cult members to cooperate.

Historically the "cult brainwashing" defense has not always fared well in court. Patty Hearst attempted to explain her behavior this way and was convicted anyway. Leslie Van Houten, of the infamous Charles Manson "Family" has been denied parole repeatedly, despite such an explanation regarding her crimes. But with Jacques Robidoux already serving an automatic life sentence in prison, perhaps the court will be more willing to consider such a defense for the young mother.

The jury in Karen Robidoux's coming trial will be faced with a tough decision. When they deliberate they will likely discuss the apparent cult vicitimization of the defendant, but jurors will certainly be confronted by the facts concerning that cult's ultimate victim, a defenseless year-old child.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 07:52 AM][Link]
:: August 21, 2002 ::
Witches are not Satanists

In an article that repeats themes similar to many news stories that have appeared in recent years, writer Jim Baker of the Lawrence Journal draws distinctions between the beliefs of Wiccans, witches and the popular image of "Satanists."

Generally, Wiccans, witches and/or Neo-Pagans may appear somewhat eccentric or unorthodox to most Americans, but are actually a rather benign lot. They typically don't proselytize, "harm none" and mind their own business. But the claim often made by adherents, that their expression of Paganism or Wicca has a long and/or ancient history, has largely been historically dismissed.

Despite the television images of "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" or Samantha her sit-com predecessor from the 60s show "Bewitched," modern witches seem to fit more within the subculture of "New Age" believers.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:25 AM][Link]
Falun Gong is at it again

Li Hongzhi's devoted followers have been fined for obstructing public places in Hong Kong, reported Associated Press. And once again his people are putting their own spin on the story. It is interesting to see how many reporters in the Western media are taken in and essentially get it wrong when it comes to Falun Gong.

The leader of what China calls an "evil cult" seems to repeatedly seek confrontational situations within China and abroad by proxy through his devoted followers. And though the group is outlawed in Mainland China it is legal in Hong Kong.

Now Hongzhi's people say they are being "persecuted" in Hong Kong and that China no longer honors the "one country, two systems" promise it made before absorbing the former British colony.

However, Falun Gong not unlike anti-abortionists extemists within the United States, is subject to laws regarding its actions. And like American authorities, the government in Hong Kong is doing something about the behavior of demonstrators. Obstructing public access and creating a nuisance is against the law in both countries. In the US anti-abortion activists have been arrested, prosecuted, fined and/or subjected to lawsuits and punitive damages.

But despite the obvious comparisons between fanatics in both countries, many within the American press seem to prefer a rather one-sided and "politically correct" view of Falun Gong.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:56 AM][Link]
"Exorcism" is likely new feature at British cinema

The Universal Church Kingdom of God, based in Brazil and led by multimillionaire Edir Macedo, "bought an old movie house in Great Britain, according to the Walthamstow Guardian. Macedo was once arrested for fraud and has been accused of laundering money for drug cartels. He claims that millions attend his churches, but the church has been called a "crime organization." Macedo often buys old cinemas, which is a cheap way of creating large halls to convene his faithful. He also owns a former movie house in downtown Los Angeles.

The church typically targets Spanish speaking communities and has caused controversy wherever it goes. In Brazil one of its leaders desecrated a statue of a Brazilian saint on television, which started street riots. Former members and leaders say the church expects "excessive tithing" and essentially is focused upon fleecing its flock.

A standard service at the Universal Church Kingdom of God often includes emotional exorcisms. This can be quite a show, that frequently includes screaming and general hysteria. Typically a church member is told that some personal problem is really "satanic" in origin and they are brought before the congregation to be "delivered" from its control. A kind of religious theater then begins, culminating in a "casting out" of the dreaded demons.

It seems that the old cinema in Britain recently bought by the Macedo church now has a new feature showing, with regular performances every Sunday.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 08:05 AM][Link]
:: August 20, 2002 ::
Ponderous piece about al-Qaeda

Lee Harris wrote a long analysis about al-Qaeda and September 11th, which was published by the Wall Street Journal. His somewhat pedantic article goes on about everything from Aztec King Montezuma, to the game "Dungeons and Dragons." Harris ultimately makes the point that Osama bin Laden was an actor within a kind of "theater" based upon "radical Islamic fantasy ideology."

He concludes, "We are fighting an enemy who has no strategic purpose in anything he does--whose actions have significance only in terms of his own fantasy ideology."

However, Harris failed to cite bin Laden's most obvious parallels, such as Shoko Asahara of Japan, who gassed the subways of Tokyo in 1995 to initiate "Armageddon," or Charles Manson who believed a series of murders would facilitate his fantasy called "Helter Skelter." Both men, like most destructive cult leaders, were possessed by "fantasy ideology."

Simply put Osama bin Laden can easily be seen as both a cult leader and a psychopath. And the "martyrs" who murdered some 3,000 Americans on September 11th, as his "brainwashed" followers. To see the longer version click here.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 05:32 PM][Link]
"Jesus" is back, and he's in Siberia

Another cult leader thinks he's Jesus and this one has 4,000 Russians who believe him, reports the London Telegraph. The followers of Sergei Torop have gathered from all over Russia to meet the man who says, "I am Jesus Christ...It was prophesied that I would return to finish what I started." But unlike Jesus of the New Testament, this "Redeemer" has a wife and six children. I wonder which one is Jesus Jr.?

Russia is experiencing a virutual "Renaissance," regarding cults and sects.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 04:20 PM][Link]
Another Hollywood "Cult" Craze

Madonna, Rosanna Arquette, Melissa Etheridge. Cindy Crawford, Courtney Love, David Duchovny and Sherilyn Fenn have something in common. According to LA Times reporter Gina Piccola ("Earth Mother, Yoga Star," August 16, 2002) they all have been influenced by "Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa," their yoga teacher, who is a devoted follower of "Yogi Bhajan" the founder of 3HO, the "Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization."

But there are a few details the LA Times article left out.

3HO has been called a "cult." Guru Jot Singh Khalsa, one of its top leaders, was indicted for RICO violations and large-scale international drug trafficking. He was sent to prison in 1988. But that did not deter the Hollywood yoga teacher, who has been an active devotee since 1971.

According to the Times Khalsa an "ex-hippie," former "LSD" tripper, now cult follower is, "the teacher whom much of prenatal Hollywood has come to trust."

Interestingly, Khalsa's guru had some advice for his followers in 1974, "Your dead bodies will lie on these roads, your children will be orphans, and nobody will kick them, rather, people will eat them alive! There will be tremendous insanity. That is the time we are going to face." So much for "baby talk."

But in Hollywood it seems that after achieving star status, the next right of passage those serious about celebrity frequently pass through, is some sort of cult involvement. Or, it appears that many stars at least opt for a few culty classes.

Ms. Khalsa's students are told that through "Kundalini, movements," "special breathing," "meditation and chanting" they can "balance the energy centers of the body and harmonize…physically, emotionally and spiritually." Courtney Love says it's "better than Prozac." And with endorsements from someone like Love, how can you doubt it? Well, at least not in Hollywood.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 03:41 PM][Link]
Cult winos

A notorious cult group led by an alleged sexual predator is producing wine by the truckload according to the Sacramento Bee. But despite the groups long sordid history and questionable working conditions, one columnist for the effete "Wine Spectator" calls their product line "very promising." Hey, Sadaam Hussein has some "promising" petroleum products, why not give him a plug?

The "Fellowship of Friends," led by Robert Burton is selling wine around California and many buyers don't seem to care that it's produced by cult labor. Sniffed the "Wine Director" at the San Francisco Ritz Carlton, who sells the stuff at $10 per glass, "There is value and quality and I never took into consideration anything else about them." Maybe the hotel should take advantage of the "value" provided by "quality" goods made through child labor and sweatshops?

One apparently more concerned buyer concluded, "While their quality is good, there are a lot of other wines out there and I just don't want to work with a winery that has all that excess baggage." Sounds like principle won out over profit with at least one businessman.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 10:15 AM][Link]
:: August 19, 2002 ::
"Cult" leader Satchidananda dead

Swami Satchidananda died over this past weekend in India from natural causes. The guru, who was 87, suffered from high blood pressure and died in intensive care due to internal bleeding. An American citizen, his body is being flown back to the United States for internment within a prepared tomb at his ashram in Virginia.

Satchidananda came from India to the United States in the 60s. He eventually established his first yoga school in New York during 1966. The guru became a US citizen ten years later. The chain of schools he founded would later be known as "Integral Yoga International" (IYI).

Various celebrities were once involved with Satchidananda at one time or another, such as actors Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, artist Peter Max, diet doctor Dean Ornish and singer-songwriter Carole King. It was his devotee "Karuna" (Carole King) in 1978 who gave Satchidananda hundreds of acres in western Connecticut, which he sold in 1979 to buy land near Buckingham, Virginia that was used to create his own ashram called "Yogaville." Yogaville became a compound for the swami's most devoted followers and eventually the site of the so-called "Lotus Shrine" dedicated in 1986.

However, contrary to the swami's supposed status as a celibate "Hindu monk"and despite the requirement that many of his devotees not marry and refrain from sex, Satchidananda was plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct. In 1991 numerous female followers stated that he had used his role as their spiritual mentor to exploit them sexually. One of Satchidananda's former personal secretaries and an alleged victim said, "I feel betrayed."

After the allegations became public many devotees abandoned Satchidananda and hundreds of students left IYI schools, but the swami never admitted any wrongdoing. He instead said, "Don't judge me, I am your guru. If you choose to believe it you can leave right now. Or, if you have faith, you can stay and continue in my service."

Another scandal more recently rocked IYI and Yogaville in 1999. A young woman attending a "30 day program" at the ashram suddenly quit law school, dropped her fiancée and married a monk there; who was 30 years, her senior. The woman's distraught family said she was "brainwashed." That family later detailed their allegations publicly.

According to the guru's ardent followers Satchidananda was "one of the most revered living Yoga Masters of our time." However, for many he was simply a "cult leader" who left behind a legacy of personal pain. His death will no doubt create a vacuum within IYI and Yogaville. Like many cult figures Satchidananda drew followers through his personal charisma, IYI and Yogaville were largely defined by his personality.

Satchidananda also drew in millions of dollars during his long career as a guru, which was used to create a tangible legacy that includes real estate holdings and other assets. This residue of accumulated material wealth will no doubt prompt someone to eventually fill the organizational vacuum created by his death.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 09:44 AM][Link]
:: August 18, 2002 ::
"IRS paying for controversial guru's seminars?" Click here [Posted by Rick Ross at 04:19 PM][Link]

Who would have ever thought that a TV show from the 60s could create a subculture? The Starship Enterprise began its voyage on television in 1966 with Captain Kirk and crew, but since then Star Trek has gone on to become an International phenomenon with spin-off series, movies and mass merchandising.

Gene Roddenberry's creation also led to an ever-expanding cult following of die-hard fans obsessively devoted to Star Trek. The most devout followers of the show are often called "Trekkies" or "Trekkers."

Some Trekkies speak "Klingon," many attend conventions and a few Trekkers like to wear Starship uniforms. Wil Wheaton, the actor who played teenage Wesley Crusher in the series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" warns potential visitors to Trekkie events, "If you've never been to a Star Trek convention before, you should rent 'Trekkies' before you can be a little disconcerting if you're not prepared."

Most Trekkers explain their fascination with Star Trek by citing the positive themes it stresses such as tolerance, loyalty, and the seemingly endless possibilities and potential of science and space. "Beam me up Scottie."

[Posted by Rick Ross at 04:08 PM][Link]

DISCLAIMER: This news page is about groups, organizations or movements, which may have been "cults" and/or "cult-like" in some way, shape or form. But not all groups called either "cults" or "cult-like" are harmful. Instead, they may be benign and generally defined as simply people intensely devoted to a person, place or thing. Therefore, the discussion or mention of a group, organization or person on this page, is not necessarily meant pejoratively.
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