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:: July 12, 2003 ::
Has the historic premise of religious identity been forgotten?

Who should determine the parameters and/or identity for a religious denomination?

Most people would answer that the historically established leadership of a religion and/or denomination has this exclusive and traditional right and role.

But some disgruntled former members and/or splinter groups seem to think otherwise.

Movie star Mel Gibson belongs to just such a group composed largely of former Roman Catholics. The actor was raised from childhood within such a religious environment.

Gibson and his fellow religionists consider themselves "traditional Catholics."

But ironically such so-called "Catholics" have abandoned perhaps the most established tradition of Roman Catholicism, which is the teaching of one church under the direction and ecclesiastical authority of the Pope.

"We just want to be good Catholics,'' says one "priest" from a schismatic group quoted by Knight Ridder Newspapers.

However, a "priest" like this has no standing in the Roman Catholic Church and is very often an excommunicate.

But some media reports persist in calling such groups "traditionalist Catholics," whatever that means.

There is an old axiom, "If you want to be a member of the club you must abide by its rules." But somehow this doesn't seem to apply to "traditional Catholics."

Instead they apparently want to have it both ways. That is, to have the status of being in the club generally, but make up their own rules.

Isn't that non-traditional?

Catholic authorities seem to regard such splinter groups largely as a nuisance and there are only about 20,000 members in the US. An insignificant number, given the size of Roman Catholicism worldwide.

The present Pope excommunicated a renegade French priest, Cardinal Marcel Lefebvre, once a key figure in the so-called "traditionalist" movement.

Lefebvre has since died, but his faithful followers soldier on. The largest single group is the Society of St. Pius X; perhaps named after the last Pope they really liked.

The Roman Catholic Church has endured an assortment of schismatic "kooks," "crazies" and "cult leaders," who claim to speak for Mary, God and/or the Holy Spirit.

This burgeoning list of former Catholics includes Caritas of Birmingham, William Kamm known as the "Little Pebble," the Army of Mary, His Community/Christ Covenant Ministries, Four Winds Commune, Friends of the Eucharist and the Magnificat Meal Movement.

The most destructive and tragic group of former Catholics was the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments, responsible for the mass murder/suicide of hundreds in Uganda.

Not unlike the problems posed by pseudo-Catholics the Mormon Church also has its share of troublesome splinter groups.

Polygamist groups that are often called "fundamentalist Mormons" practice their faith largely in Arizona, Utah and parts of Canada. They are an embarrassment to the Mormon Church, which abandoned the practice of polygamy more than a century ago.

Yet some media reports confuse the public with the label "fundamentalist Mormons" to describe these disparate sects, frequently run by absolute leaders much like "cults."

Recently, an author apparently striving for better book sales said, "Mormon authorities treat the fundamentalists as they would a crazy uncle -- they try to keep the 'polygs' hidden in the attic."

His book titled Under the Banner of Heaven, places grizzly murders within the context of so-called "Mormon Fundamentalism" reported Associated Press.

An official church spokesman made it clear that such groups have nothing whatsoever to do with the Mormon Church and that those Mormons. And when Mormons do become involved with them they are excommunicated, much like former Catholics in schismatic groups.

Recently since the 1960s Jews have also endured apostates setting up their own so-called "Jewish" groups.

Interestingly, these groups, which are composed of converts to fundamentalist Christianity such as "Jews for Jesus" and so-called "Messianic Jews," are closely aligned and supported by Protestant denominations within the "born-again" movement.

These "Jews" like the polygamists and former Catholics have no standing in the organized Jewish community.

Israel's "Law of Return" does not recognize them as Jews and recently a Canadian court rejected one such group's attempt to use historical Jewish symbols for self-promotion reported Canadian Jewish News.

But some media reports continue to confuse readers with a mixed bag of historically incoherent labels and/or oxymorons, such as "traditionalist Catholics," "fundamentalist Mormons" and "Jews for Jesus," that are self-referentially incoherent.

Even if such a group has a celebrity sponsor like Mel Gibson, it's unlikely to be a meaningful substitute for the Pope's blessings.

And there is a historic right of denominational leaders to determine the parameters of their own faith's identity, which should be recognized by responsible and objective journalists, rather than misleading the public.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 07:55 PM][Link]
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:: July 11, 2003 ::
Controversial rabbi leaves behind mixed legacy

In a strange twist a controversial rabbi known for his music and scandal, lives on through pop bands in New York City that have drawn an ultra-Orthodox Jewish cult-following

The Moshav Band and Soulfarm band members grew up within communities founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach in Israel in the late 70's. Now they play in Manhattan clubs to head-banging fans often with covered heads reports the New York Times.

Carlebach, an inspiration for the bands, was a pop rabbi with a cult following of his own. His music drew upon traditional Chasidic melodies and themes.

The rabbi died in 1994, but left behind mixed legacies of music and scandal.

Many considered him a musical genius, but he also allegedly had a penchant for sexually harassing women during his long career. Some of those women later spoke out.

Carlebach was quite controversial amongst his Lubavitch brethren for his touchy-feely approach. Such contact between men and women is strictly proscribed among ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups.

And it seems Carlebach did much more than simply hug many of the ladies he met.

But the rabbi's musical legacy has endured long after his death. Now the NY bands have created a new form of pop fusion music composed of a little bit Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers and Carlebach.

Carlebach would probably be pleased. The constantly touring rabbi wanted to make Chasidic music and thought more accessible. One promoter observed that he "revolutionized Jewish music."

For the Orthodox Jewish young people that have become the fans of his musical progeny the music is perhaps a "gentle form of rebellion." But because of its Chasidic themes, attending clubs that stage these bands is apparently permissible.

The net effect is that otherwise largely cloistered ultra-Orthodox youth have found a vehicle to break out of their strictly controlled and insular communities.

Again, Carlebach would probably have liked that. And it is something of a celebration of the positive legacy he left behind.

As for the bands, one member observed that the Chasidic/Carlebach influence apparent in their performances has "gotten us a lot of work."

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:00 AM][Link]
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:: July 10, 2003 ::
$6.5 million paid to the victim of rehab program called "cult"

A "cult" victim received a $6.5 million dollar personal injury settlement Tuesday from insurance carriers for 13 years of abuse, experienced through a group called "Kids" reported The New Jersey Law Journal.

Lulu Corter was sent to Kids of North Jersey Inc. in Hackensack by her parents in 1984 at the age of 13. She escaped in 1997, after enduring more than a decade of what other victims call a "living hell."

Kids was dominated and defined by its charismatic leader Miller Newton now bankrupt, according to victim advocate and activist Wes Fager.

Kids is a spin-off of Straight, another controversial rehab program eventually shut down by litigation and bad press.

Melvin Sembler founded Straight, a wealthy businessman closely associated with the Bush family.

George W. Bush appointed Sembler Ambassador to Italy.

Straight's roots are in The Seed, a drug rehab program in Florida that lost funding amidst allegations of mind control.

The Seed was itself based upon Synanon; a rehab program turned "cult" founded by Charles Dederich Sr.

Dederich now deceased plead no contest in 1980 to conspiracy, regarding a murder plot to kill a California lawyer litigating against the group. A rattlesnake was placed in his mailbox, but attorney Paul Morantz, survived.

A rattlesnake didn't bite Corter's attorney Phil Elberg, but he did manage to take quite a bite out of Miller Newton and his associates through their insurers, not to mention the ebbing credibility of such programs and related supporters like Sembler.

It seems the many incarnations of Synanon's treatment model once called "the game," live on and on and on. And it may take more lawsuits to finally slay this many-headed hydra.

Note: The Third International Conference on Adolescent Treatment Abuse will take place this month July 26th and 27th in St. Petersburg, Florida. Contact SAFETY for further information and details.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:39 AM][Link]
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Book of Mormon makes list, but as what?

The Book of Mormon made a list published within Book Magazine called the "20 -Books That Changed America" reported KSL TV in Utah.

But this list included "novels or nonfiction works."

So which category does the Book of Mormon fit within?

Overwhelmingly, historians apparently agree that the book is clearly fiction created by Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith.

According to American history senior lecturer Raymond Richards of Waikato University in New Zealand, Smith was a "fruadster" who ran a "scam."

The church founder claimed he unearthed ancient "golden plates" in an unknown language outside Palmyra, New York. He then translated them to become the Book of Mormon.

These plates supposedly told a previously hidden history about the Americas, replete with prophets and peoples never heard of before.

However, no serious scholar outside of Mormon apologists has ever designated Smith's book as history. Instead, it is seen essentially as a yarn. And as for his golden plates, they conveniently disappeared, never to be meaningfully authenticated as historical artifacts.

This must mean Book Magazine considers the Book of Mormon one of its listed "novels."

Never mind.

Teachers at Brigham Young University (BYU), a Mormon institution, seemed breathless. One called the inclusion of the book "exiting." Another said, "The more that [the Book of Mormon is] discussed and…talked about…the more curious people become."

Does this mean the BYU faculty thinks such secular attention might help Mormon missionary efforts?

Historian Richards says the church that was made in America is "aggressive, racist and sexist."

And for comments like that the teacher made a list too. Richards is listed by a Mormon website as "anti-Mormon" reported Waikato Times in New Zealand.

The lecturer's reaction was to point out that Mormons don't "allow freedom of thought and academics needed to be alerted to that."

Given the penchant of the church's leaders to excommunicate scholars with inquiring minds and its efforts to muzzle free speech in downtown Salt Lake City Richards words don't appear far fetched.

A BYU professor acknowledged that the Book of Mormon was "spawned in controversy." And it looks like that controversy continues even today.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 07:18 AM][Link]
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:: July 09, 2003 ::
How?

Alleged "cult leader," pedophile, sexual predator and criminal Dwight "Malachi" York has now gone native, Native American that is reported the Macon Telegraph.

York says he's really "Chief Black Eagle" of the "Yamassee" tribe, which is supposedly recognized by the United Nations.

200 of his followers, known as the Nuwaubians, obliged their leader and showed up to express support costumed as Native Americans.

What seems to have brought on York's latest change of heritage is a US district court judge that vetoed the "chief's " plea bargain with prosecutors reported WSBTV.

This means York no longer has the assurance of just a 15-year sentence, which might have meant parole for the purported "cult leader" in as little as 12 years.

So what now for "Black Eagle"?

York told the judge apparently with a straight face, "I am a Moorish Cherokee and I cannot get a fair trial if I am being tried by settlers or confederates."

Huh? Or should that be HOW?

Things are getting increasingly desperate for this chief and his dwindling tribe. It looks like York may spend the rest of his life in prison.

And pedophiles don't do well locked up. After all even prison inmates have standards. "Chief" or no chief, York would likely end up pitching his Teepee in protective custody.

Apparently the judge thinks that certain types of crime deserve special consideration. He said that the plea deal "does not address the severity of the admitted and alleged conduct of the defendant."

York is charged with more than 200 counts of sexual abuse that involved 13 minor children.

So don't expect to see this "Moorish Cherokee" smoking the peace pipe with prosecutors. Instead it looks like "Black Eagle" better put on his war paint and prepare for a court battle.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 01:49 PM][Link]
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:: July 08, 2003 ::
APA plans to provide platform for anti-Semitic "cult" at its annual convention

The American Psychological Association (APA) will be holding its annual convention next month in Toronto, Canada; it begins August 7th and continues through the 10th.

But who would think this prestigious bastion of psychologists and mental health professionals would allow a purported anti-Semitic organization frequently called a "cult," numerous slots within its schedule of programs.

Lois Holzman a prominent proponent of so-called "Social Therapy," which is closely associated with the "New Alliance Party," is a devoted follower of notorious "cult leader" Fred Newman.

Holzman will be presenting four programs at the APA convention beginning on August 9th. She is currently the director of Newman's East Side Institute for Short Term Psychotherapy.

Holzman starts on the morning of August 9th with a program titled "Impact of Participatory Youth Programs on Youth and Communities." She then continues later with "Ensemble Meaning—Making, Constructing the Therapy Through Improvisation, Collaboration and Performance."

Later that same day in the afternoon Holzman presents a one-act play about Karl Marx and Jesus seeking help through therapy -- "Odd Couple Seeks Professional Help."

Huh?

Eventually on the last day of the APA convention Holzman offers her final program, which seems to sum up neatly her agenda. It is a discussion to answer the rather contrived and self-serving question; "Can Therapy Promote Human Liberation? A Humanistic—Postmodern Marxist Dialogue."

Holzman's mentor and leader Fred Newman is a self-proclaimed "revolutionary Marxist."

Controversy swirls around Newman and his followers who are often called "Newmanites." Some former members claim they were victimized through Newman's organizations such as social therapy, which seems to mean working for Fred for free.

Many also question the potential harm of Newman's philosophy and its influence upon young people.

Newmanites also have been scrutinized regarding their handling of funds through nonprofit tax-exempt charities, which included a probe, by New York's Attorney General.

It seems that the founder of "Social Therapy" may be looking for new recruits amongst the ranks of the APA.

Holzman's behavior can easily be seen as an effort to act as a stand-in or proxy for her leader. But what was the APA thinking when they provided a platform for this bunch?

Can it be that the respected professional association didn't examine this speaker's background before approving her for programs at their convention?

The APA has been known historically for its due diligence and research.

However, Holzman's close and historic association with Newman is glaringly evident through her own website and the largely promotional links she provides for Newman enterprises elsewhere on the Internet.

Within Fred Newman's book "Power and Authority" he explains the essence of "Social Therapy."

Newman states, "The therapist, again, functions in the therapeutic interaction as a revolutionary leader, leading by forming a revolutionary relationship of sisterhood or brotherhood with the worker patient and together becoming a proletarian authority, which overthrows the bourgeois authority or proletarian ego...Working to help the struggling slave go through the insurrectional act of overthrow of the proletarian ego and [then] helping the worker during the long period of withering away of the proletarian ego."

Does this sound like something the APA would endorse?

Is this a description of the ethical practice of therapy? Or is Newman's approach actually an unethical breach and/or blurring of boundaries in the therapist/patient relationship?

A mental health professional once involved with Newman, but who later left his Social Therapy organization concluded, "Therapy should be empowering and inclusive; it should help people build the lives they want. It should not be used as a recruitment tool for a particular movement."

The same professional also offered the following advice:

"Anyone considering cooperating or working with Fred Newman and/or practicing Social Therapy should first read whatever historical and critical information is available."

"And mental health professionals have a responsibility to their clients and profession to carefully consider what and whom they are supporting."

Indeed.

Did the APA convention planners and organizers "first read" about Holzman and Fred Newman and then "carefully consider" their history before agreeing to provide them a platform?

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:27 AM][Link]
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:: July 07, 2003 ::
Harry Potter burned at the stake?

The Harry Potter phenomenon continues at a breathless pace. The most recent addition to the series is now officially the fastest-selling book in history. More than three million copies were sold within the first 48 hours.

The preceding four installments of the Potter books written by J. K. Rowling have sold 192 million copies, 80 million in the US alone.

But the modest author whose estimated net worth is more than $400 million, can count some very nasty critics along with her fans reports Siffy News.

Accusations abound amongst fanatical religious types that Rowling's books "promote witchcraft, occultism and Satanism."

Some have even gone so far as to stage what they call "holy bonfires," burning the alleged demonic tomes.

"God says in 'Deuteronomy' that witchcraft is an abomination. Whatever God hates, I hate," advised one hellfire preacher.

However, other Christian clergy seem to see things quite differently according to a report aired on WHSV-TV3 of Virginia.

One clergyman claimed that the Potter books actually "possess…some good Judeo-Christian values like cooperation, like friendship, and honesty."

"When you can get a kid, especially a teenager, an eighth grader…to sit down and read a book that's 300-400, even 700 pages long, I say go for it," added a schoolteacher.

It seems more like sour grapes rather than Satan is at the bottom of some the criticism directed against the Rowling books. The author has stated publicly that she doesn't even believe in magic.

What's next banning or burning the Wizard of Oz?

Perhaps her religious critics just don't appreciate children's fascination with something they don't control. Or is it just their obsession with some bogeyman they hope to pose as protection from?

[Posted by Rick Ross at 02:09 PM][Link]
...
Free food from Krishna "cult," but at what cost?

It seems that the controversial Krishna organization, often called a "cult," is expanding its outreach efforts in Africa.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), through its program "Food for Life" is passing out "hot meals" in Grahamstown, South Africa reports the East Cape News.

One teenage recipient said, "These people have been sent by God." And a parent commented, "Our kids here in Grahamstown are struggling like hell, I just wish they (the Krishna's) would be here forever."

But some former Krishna kids don't see the organization in such a benign light.

More than a few have sued the Krishna organization over its admitted sexual abuse of children.

These victims of Krishna are seemingly glad the group is out of their lives and certainly don't connect "God" with ISKCON's behavior.

Krishna has historically used community involvement such as soup kitchens, as an apparent tool for recruitment.

Perhaps Grahamstown residents should be less sanguine and more concerned with protecting teenagers from this purported "cult."

There really is no "free lunch," at least not from Krishna devotees, without the potential cost of personal injury.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 11:34 AM][Link]
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Is hate group leader Dan Gayman telling the truth about his involvement with Eric Rudolph?

Guest column by a former member/resident of the Church of Israel

Dan Gayman misrepresents his relationship with Eric Rudolph and lies to the media about the length of time Eric spent on church grounds, and the relationships that Eric forged there.

Dan Gayman is the leader of the Church of Israel.

Gayman claims Pat Rudolph and her sons Eric and James just showed up uninvited at his church. And that she was a "destitute widow" he helped out.

However, Mrs. Rudolph and her children were invited by Dan Gayman to attend the Church of Israel “Tabernacles Celebration” in1984 and given specific directions to the remote compound, located five miles outside the small town of Schell City, Missouri.

Pat and her sons didn’t just happen upon to compound accidentally, as Dan has said in the past.

The Church of Israel is actually difficult to find and many people get lost on their first visit.

When Eric Robert Rudolph arrived at the church with his mother he was barely 18. His father, Robert had recently died of skin cancer in Florida and Eric seemed to want a father figure in his life.

The Rudolphs once followed the teachings of Nord Davis, another Christian Identity leader in North Carolina. They knew about Dan Gayman through his teaching tapes, which Mrs. Rudolph ordered through the mail. She felt that her family had finally found the "one true religion."

Pat's background and “credentials” were certainly checked before she was allowed onto the church property and given a place to stay.

Although Pat Rudolph was a widow, her brother was helping to support the family. She was not completely "destitute."

In early November 1984, Dan Gayman instructed my husband and I to take the Rudolph family into our home for the winter months. We were then a young couple just starting out and the Rudolph family seemed nice so we readily agreed.

When Pat and her family stayed at our home she was diligent when it was her turn to buy groceries and she paid Dan for our house electric bill.

Eric Rudolph seemed to feel that he had found a father figure in Dan Gayman.

During Eric's stay he spent many hours alone with Dan discussing politics, religion and philosophy. He dated one of the Gayman’s daughters and Dan appeared pleased about this.

Eric was interested in far-right politics and read “Imperium.” He also read “Mien Kamph,” by Adolph Hitler and was a fan of Neitze.

Regarding his long discussions with Dan, I never once heard Eric mention that Dan disapproved of his reading choices. And Dan seemed to enjoy their lengthy discussions.

After a while, Gayman even asked Eric to read the Morning Prayer in church on Sunday mornings.

The Rudolph family, which included Eric, Pat and Jamie, lived within the Church of Israel compound for several months.

Eric was a good-looking boy and he was a hit among the teenage girls who attended the church. And Dan was very excited to have Eric dating his daughter and welcomed him into his home on a regular basis.

But Eric didn't enjoy the long boring winter in Missouri with so little to do. He also grew tired of Dan's daughter, even though she was beginning to get serious. Eric said that she was “just too dominant” for him.

Eric Rudolph eventually left and went back to North Carolina in early 1985.

But he returned in the spring to help Pat and Jamie make the trip back to Topton, North Carolina. It was then that Eric made Dan and his daughter furious by falling in love with a pretty 18-year-old girl, who had come to attend the Feast of Pentecost with her father and grandparents.

When Dan and Eric parted company in the spring of 1985, they weren’t on good terms. When asked to perform Morning Prayer for the last time, Eric used the word “Lord” instead of “Yahweh” or “Christ.”

The Church of Israel doctrine maintained that using “Lord” in reference to God was something like blasphemy. Dan specifically said the word “Lord” was "Baal worship." But I suspect it was really just another control issue for him, like everything else.

Dan had his right hand man at the time, write a letter to Eric and Pat castigating Eric and demanding that he repent and publicly apologize to Dan, or not come back.

However, it appeared that Eric and Dan did make up, because Eric later attended Pentecost for one day the following spring.

I distinctly remember Eric striding up to Dan after a service in the small chapel on the hill. Dan embraced Eric Rudolph and they shook hands. Gayman appeared happy to see him.

Eric also attended one night a year later, during a Tabernacles celebration. He came in late. My eldest son was just a baby then and I was busy with him, so I only could speak briefly with Eric after the sermon.

I don’t know what will happen to Eric Rudolph. Perhaps he will get the death penalty. He certainly deserves to pay for his crimes if proven guilty.

What bothers me is that so many people don’t understand how dangerous leaders like Dan Gayman are.

The Christian Identity movement promotes a distrust of government officials, hatred of Jewish people and intolerance for any sort of meaningful interracial co-habitation.

Dan Gayman has much to lose if his connection to Eric Rudolph is fully understood. He is busy cultivating an upper-middle class, white-collar following now. Gayman wants to secure his little kingdom for his children and grandchildren.

Dan Gayman directly controls thousands of acres of property in Vernon County, Missouri and his reported income in donations alone over the past 5 years was almost $1 million. He and all his children live in comfortable country homes within the Church of Israel compound.

Dan doesn’t want to have the attention of the Federal Government. And he refuses to take any responsibility for the philosophy of Eric Rudolph, which apparently led to the horrible bombings that killed several people.

Unwanted attention and public scrutiny might just cause some of Dan's regular attendees to drop out and others to seek a group or cause that is less likely to attract critical media attention.

At age 66, Gayman is willing to lie to the public about what he has taught and/or teaches. He wants to depict his church as just a benign little country congregation that supposedly adheres to fundamentalist Christianity.

Dan is so concerned about preserving the assets he has accumulated over the years; he is willing to go underground with his beliefs.

However, I lived at the Church of Israel compound in the 1980's and know firsthand about its political and religious teachings. I know how Dan Gayman views race, abortion, homosexuality and AIDS.

Dan has been preaching a message of hatred for over 30 years. And his “Two Seeds of Genesis 3:15” is famous amongst Identity circles.” He taught us that salvation is only for white people of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Scandinavian racial background and that the Jews, far from being “God’s chosen people,” were instead “The Seed of Satan.”

Dan taught us that African American’s do not have souls and for this reason, cannot “inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”

When my family lived within the Church of Israel compound Dan told us that we had to be willing to die for our faith.

But now because he is in the uncomfortable position of having an Eric Rudolph connection he publicly misrepresents, minimizes and/or outright lies about what he teaches and has taught at the Church of Israel.

After spending his life promoting a doctrine of hatred Dan Gayman now wants to distance himself from Eric Robert Rudolph and even falsely claim that he barely knew him.

Gayman refuses to take responsibility for his influence and the effect he has had on other people’s lives.

However, when a charismatic dominant leader like Dan Gayman preaches such a strong message of hate there are often tragic consequences.

A message of hate influenced Timothy McVeigh and led to the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building.

The teachings of Christian Identity ministers have had far-reaching and devastating effects. The Church of Israel alone has influenced thousands of people.

Thankfully we left that influence years ago and we pray for the victims of the y movement and hope for justice.

We also hold the leaders of this movement personally accountable for the ideology of hate, exclusion and intolerance, which they promote.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 10:07 AM][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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